Thursday, May 29, 2014

This morning a friend is dropping in to check out my gardens. I had high hopes they would be in lovely blooming form when she came. More typically, they are in sad shape with a few things growing, well-behaved and nicely, in the parts I have managed to whip into submission. 

The wee summer socks are finished. Surprisingly, they are comfortable and stay on in my running shoes. Goodness they are a conglamoration, aren't they!?

Over coffee this morning (coconut sugar and coconut milk for flavour) I am winding a bit of lace. It's my new purple Malabrigo that I'm very excited about. I find its a little clingy in the skein. But maybe that's normal. 

Appliances arrive in ONE MORE SLEEP!! Since that's been sorted, we're on to planning for installation. We are converting to a gas range and someone will have to be brought in to do that. And a bit of furniture shopping has been talked about. Yesterday I was playing with the Ikea catalogue, which turned out to be amazingly interactive:

That's my fireplace but the stripey chair is Ikea's. They are kind enough to show me how the chair will fit into my space, though. All I needed was the paper catalogue placed on the floor and a tablet. 


Mrs. A. 


Stash Dash 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Well, this sounds fun! 

From the 23rd of May to the 7th of August, there is a KnitALong called Stash Dash. The rules are terribly accommodating. Any finished project counts toward your total meters of yarn knit. Even if I started and mostly knit something before May 23, if I finish it, all the knitted meters of yarn can be counted for my total. I'm aiming to knit 5000 meters, or 5 km, of yarn. From stash. Terribly unrealistic, really. But fun! 

My first finished project will be the unfortunate wee summer socks. A mismatched pair with a picot cuff, short-row heel and just about nothing else in common other than foot length (maybe, last night in the dark, I eyeballed where to start the toe decreases). 

Next up will be a 'good copy' of short summer socks knit with a lovely purple colour of Koigu that I bought at the new yarn shop I found. First cuff successfully under way: 

Also I hope to complete a Jared Flood pattern called Rock Island. It's a lace shawl. I figure that if I'm thinking of more ambitious Shetland lace, I'd better do a training run. I'll use my first Malabrigo Lace, also in purple and also bought at the lovely new yarn shop I found. 

It's a dark and wonderful colour of purple. I had to photograph it on a black table to get close to the real colour. The shop owner kindly offered to wind the skeins for me but I didn't think I'd be knitting it up any time soon. Mr. A will have to hold it while I wind it. 

I do have a baby blanket started which could be finished as well as two pair of stranded mittens to finish. I'll need a baby shower gift for the end of June, which could include a knit item. And the Knit Night girls are having a summer challenge that I'd like to knit something for. It's just a 50g challenge, but it's something. I don't think all of that will get me close to 5km of yarn knitted, but we'll see how far I get. 

It's fun to read through the Stash Dash forum and see the finished projects. Some people have done some serious planning! There's someone with a Princess Shawl mostly knit; about 4000m completed and just over 300m to finish. Someone else has a large number of projects just ready to finish which will all count toward her 5km. Others, like me, have joined late with nothing to show but good intentions. 

I should have a finished pair of socks by the end of the day to start off my Stash Dash. Then tonight, Malabrigo to wind!

Mrs. A. 



Monday, May 26, 2014

Coffee #2 this morning used the last of the cream. Also, my Coffee maker took a ridiculous amount of time to spit out coffee #1 and then told me to descale. I find myself wondering if I should just quit coffee. 

Then I recall that today is Monday and I must be crazy. I can't quit coffee. Amendments may be required, though. This white sugar habit is out of control. Again. 

Last night I met up with my book club for dinner. It's the first time since we started meeting - 3 years ago maybe? - that we went for dinner in a real resturant. It was fun. We took a long time to eat. We made the waitress move us twice because we can't all show up at the same time. We were loud. 

The book club selfie wasn't so great as my arms aren't long enough. The second picture without me is nice...and I am represented by my drink. Good times. 

I came home to a new cabinet. Doesn't everybody, sometime, come home to a new, random piece of furniture?

It wasn't in that spot when I came home. It was lying flat on the floor in another room. I put it in my living room this morning. I will let it sit there for a bit. I'm not sure I love the set-up yet. I might have to move it around a bit to see where it was meant to live. My grandmother sent it to me via my mom, who had to borrow my brother's 'truck' (it's a mini van) for the weekend to fetch it. It's a four hour journey to grandmother's house. You'd think I would be better informed that I was getting a cabinet when there's that many people involved. It's adventures like this that convince Mr. A that I come by my craziness honestly. 

I spent most of Sunday in the garden. Not that you can tell, but there is improvement and progress!

I have completed work on the short side of the pool, around the corner and up to the yucca plant. I put down weed mat for the first time. I transplanted a fern. I went to a friend's open house and obtained many of the little plants on the deck. She has a small farm and keeps winged creatures. She grows heritage tomatoes and other lovely things. I came home with 6 tomato plants and a few perennials that need to find homes. My lilac tree is blooming and it smells wonderful. I'm not sure if I will plant it out this year or keep it in its pot until next spring. 

Because of all the weekend activity, I got no knitting accomplished. I did learn about a very fun sounding knit-along, though. It's called Stash Dash and the challenge is to knit the equivalent of 5km of yarn over the summer. I read about it at Handmade Homeschool (www.handmadehomeschool.wordpress.com) and then popped over to Ravelry and tracked down the group for the nitty gritty details. The 'rules' are very knitter friendly, almost too much so. Hopefully tonight when the bugs are too bad to work in the garden, I'll get myself organized enough to officially participate. 

Today I will write a report outlining the high school English learning of my dear firstborn - and I need to submit it to the virtual learning school she would like to take courses with in the fall. I will not have coffee or lunch until it is done. I will not pass Go or collect $200 until it is done. I may have to make lunch for others before it's done...

Mrs. A. 


I Had Saturday Mostly To Myself...Odd.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I volunteer with the Library. Yesterday was Doors Open Ontario. (I'd link but I'm using the Blogger App and I don't think it likes links. If you're interested, give it a quick google.) Doors Open is a busy day at the library, I think mostly because we have a crackerjack Community Coordinator who plans interesting things for visitors. 

I volunteered with the white elephant sale. Right next door to the area where the sale was being held was the giant annual used book sale. Cost of decommissioned library books is by donation. I try not to go into that room too much. 

I did have to bring a book to the used book sale room, though. The white elephant sale doesn't sell books...because books are for sale in the next room. I suppose I could have asked a book sale volunteer which section the errant book was to be displayed in. But my helpful self just walked that book around the giant book sale looking for Fiction, Mystery/Thriller. 

In the process I came across a few things: 

I couldn't carry any other books and dig for money in my pocket and find Fiction, Mystery/Thriller all at the same time. Besides, I needed to get back to the white elephant sale and the other lonely volunteer I may have left alone. The book found its home and I got back to my post with my 4 books. 

The two cookbooks will replace a small binder of photocopied recipes. Years ago I was trying to expand the foods my picky eaters would eat and I consulted these two cookbooks. I photocopied some promising recipes and have been cooking from those photocopies ever since. 

The two gardening books will be helpful. I do have a small section of gardening books - still packed until I get to Ikea and buy a bookshelf - that these two books will augment. The green Organic Gardener resource is a good starting point for many things. There's even a bit under 'Beekeeping' about how to make a bee house, like a bird house, for orchard bees. 

The Fifty Trees of Canada was published in 1952 and I just love the look of older books. It might be helpful in identifying some of the trees around the house. 

The tree classification chart in the middle of the book is awesome. And so 1950s. And so much nicer than the online tools I've recently consulted. 

Yesterday was really very busy. I got up at dark o'clock and made Mr. A a cooler lunch, helped him load his fishing boat and sent him off to some lake to fish with a buddy for the day. The kids and I went to town so I could volunteer. The Boy walked himself to his first official day on the job. The Girl visited a friend of ours - a previously homeschooling mom - who has a local farmer's market stall. This friend also coached The Girl Child a bit and her first 5k run was accomplished. I bought those appliances on the way out of town (which took an hour even though the appliances were chosen and I only wanted to give them my money). I dropped The Girl at home and drove off to another friend's farm to take part in the Open House they were having. I came home with 6 varieties of heritage tomatoes and a few plants for my yard. I fit in a quick visit with my dad, picked The Boy up from work, got home with just enough time to throw together a salad and loaded nachos before Mr. A drove up. 

Today will be yard work if I ever get outside. I think a second coffee is needed. After lunch, I will run The Boy to work and hopefully a friend and her sweet baby will come by for a visit. Onward!

Mrs. A. 


That Week Went Fast

Friday, May 23, 2014

The wee summer sock progresses. This really is a disaster project: I don't have enough yarn to finish, the first sock has a textured pattern for the first few rows of the foot which was abandoned and I've forgotten to purl the first and last stitch of the sole of the second sock as I did in the first of the pair. In spite of all of this, I press on. Perhaps this exercise will cure me of my perfectionist tendencies. But I won't think about that, I will instead think about which yarn I will use to finish the foot and toe of my poor wee sock.

Along with my almost cold coffee, my sock and my blog, The Blue Eyed Bandit joins me in my living room this morning. She looks innocent enough, but she is really engaged in a search for spiders. Which she pounces upon before eating. Dogs are weird. 

I've been appliance shopping. It's nearly killed me. But I think we've managed to locate appliances that have the things on our need list, a few from the want list, fit our space and budget and are available locally. I have left a field of appliance salesmen in my wake. Ok, well, just three, really. And a fourth who we're counting on to get me the best deal possible.

I did my research - with Mr. A's excellent help with price comparison - and timed my trip to the store perfectly to take advantage of two sale prices, two price-match deals and maybe a bundling promotion. I've been promised the sale and price-match prices no matter what. And that is a very good price. The holdup to the actual purchase is trying to get approval for the bundling promotion (which will save me two to four hundred dollars) in addition to the price-match deal. Late last night I was re-checking prices online and already they had changed. Looks like I hit the sweet spot. 

I like to wait 24hrs before a big purchase. But sometimes it's hard. Earlier this week we were in one store with a crackerjack sales guy. He had us sold on a fleet of Maytag appliances. I think Mr. A and I would have bought them if we didn't have to call a halt to proceedings and pick up The Boy Child. 

We'd been researching and shopping for days already and we felt prepared. The sales guy was efficient and pleasant and he listened to what we were saying, unlike the previous two sales people. He found a line of appliances for us that we thought fit the bill. The price he gave us was ok - within budget but just. But because we had to leave like responsible parents instead of leaving The Boy to loiter on a sidewalk, starving and destitute in the midst of downtown restaurants at dinner time, we had the evening to do some independent thinking. The deal in the store sounded better in the store than it did at my dining room table. Upon independent research, the prices were just ok, comparable to others. And although all the features we needed were present, the online reviews told us that those features wouldn't impress us. When I'm spending this kind of money, I want to be impressed.

So I started looking again. And here we are, seriously considering our third but best yet set of appliances. I know why people say they only want to have to buy appliances once every twenty five years or so. 

In other news, Mr. A rescued a bumblebee from the pool. The Girl's interview turned out to be next week, not this week. I need a good gardening app to keep track of plants and blooming times and things like that. I've downloaded Evernote but need some serious time to sit down and figure it out. And I think the rescued bumblebee and his buddies may live under the corner of the raised garden bed. More investigation is required. 

Today we're off to a casual homeschoolers meet-up at the library. Then home for lunch before we set off to Mr. A's office. He doesn't usually work there (he works from a home office) but his company is hosting an open house so I'm taking the kids to see their dad's work. I was told a number of times that the open house is sort of for clients and customers, but I figure it's about time the kids got to see the products of their dad's labour. They'll have plc robots set up and the lab will be informative and the kids should come away with a concrete picture of what all dad's button pushing produces besides food and shelter. Then in the evening, it seems teenagers will be coming to my basement. I'd better get the kids up if all this is to be accomplished. Note to self: put chemicals in the pool so it doesn't turn back into a duck pond and mark The Girl's anatomy test so it seems like we are homeschoolers, even just a little bit. 

Mrs. A. 


Monday Again...But It's Really Tuesday

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coffee this morning is Starbucks' Blonde Roast. Our coffee maker is officially persnickety. Mr. A's coffee brewed perfectly well with no supervision required. Mine needed supervision, encouragement and hand holding. Coffee is accompanied this morning by the last piece of homemade biscotti. My friend, J made it at Christmastime and I have been selectively eating it from the freezer. It was awesome. 

You can see I've progressed to the second of the wee summer socks. I was knitting away last night, all proud of myself because I was going to be able to accomplish an entire heel in one sitting. I'm using a generic short row heel which is pretty basic once you manage the wraps at the end of each row. The rows get shorter one stitch at a time. That part went well. Then you begin to increase one stitch at the end of each row, eating up an additional stitch and a wrap or two at the end of each row. Somehow I had more stitches to eat up on one side than the other. I fudged that. The idea is to end up with as many stitches as you originally started with - by which time there will be a heel between your start and finish point - then you begin knitting the foot around and around all the stitches. Only I was purling around and around. How do I get into a mess like that? I got myself turned around and heading in the right direction so now I have mindless knitting. At least until I run out of yarn. Because I expect that will happen before I finish the sock. 

Today I have dreaded paperwork hanging over my head. I am not looking forward to it. Also, The Girl Child has a job interview this afternoon. There's a Knit Night gathering this evening, but I'm not encouraged to go. 

I'm also shopping for appliances. It's a bit daunting, thinking about spending all that money all at once. We got the money to get a bit more of what we want rather than just what we need. But I'm still torn over the want-need. More online pricing and comparison and review reading is needed. 

We've just had a long weekend. It was nice. I got some gardening done.

I've learned the plant in the photo above is a hellebore. Thank you, Cristina. I'm sure I just about killed it by attempting to plunk it into my garden. A bit of information made me put it directly back in its planter with a generous dollop of healthy growing medium. I will now watch and wait. Hopefully I have not killed it and it will survive long enough for me to identify which variety it is. 

Also, I bought purple daisies. (They're really not daisies, I don't think, but they look like daisies and they're purple and awesome.)

My teenagers, who often put on a super show when I'd like to take a picture, both had to work on Saturday - at real jobs. The Boy finished early and walked to meet The Girl so I had one pickup to do. They're good kids...weird and funny...but they're fun to watch grow up. 

The Girl Child decided that yesterday would be a good day to try the pool out. It was 62degrees and she plunged in twice. A tradition has been born. I'm not sure if it will be a traditional Victoria Day plunge, regardless of the temperature or a Let's See How Early We Can Swim Each Year type of thing. I'll revisit this next year. 

I'm tempted to write more, but only because I don't want to do paperwork. 

Mrs. A. 


Just Like A Good Book...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Today feels special. Today feels somehow complete. Like I've just finished a great book that I will always have on my shelf. Today I caught up with Jean's Knitting blog. 

I'm sure I found Jean's blog years ago, but I never was a regular reader. The references to people and places never really made sense, but the knitting was good and if you wait patiently, she's very, very funny at times. With all the excitement in my life lately, I found I couldn't concentrate on anything very well and Jean's blog seemed to be the exception. 

I decided to begin reading from the beginning. Jean is lovely and so knowledgeable about knitting...yet she's still learning and sharing her process with her readers. She and her lovely family came to life as I was reading. People and places began to make sense. I'm surprised that Jean leads the life she does - she must be a coveted dinner guest at dinner tables around the world. 

One day Jean mentioned that if one did not have to make lunch for someone every day, one would be so much more productive. I realized then and there that Jean is a kindred soul who put words to the roadblock of my life. 

Having read through the past and caught up to the present, I find myself looking forward to the future. There's an exciting new knitting project percolating and I wonder if Jean will embark on that journey or if another will surface in the meantime. There's family excitement planned for the fall. 

It's a funny feeling, feeling as though you know someone when you really don't. I think Jean is a treasure. She's a very special lady who will always reside on my bookshelf alongside Emily of New Moon and Aerin of The Hero and The Crown. 

 Mrs. A. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

Stupid blog eating app. An hour later, I have nothing. A blank page. 

Here's the pictures I was so happy to talk about an hour ago. Now, no stories to go with them because I am out of time. 

Coffee & a sock:

Before & After:

First grass cutting day:

Mrs. A. 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coffee this morning - McDonald's McCafe Ground for Home - overfloweth. The coffee maker spit out the required cup and then just kept on brewing. Right out of my cup and into the overflow tray while I sat there talking to it about how it's not cool to waste coffee like that. 

Homeownership continues. It's novel, after deciding to rent long term and then doing a 180degree change of philosophy over a short period of time. Mr. A revived an ancient, but perfectly serviceable, gas powered lawn mower yesterday. We met Carol, the pool lady and her daughter Michelle. They sent us home with $50 of free chemicals - their gift - and a jet cover to try in addition to the small pile of pails and jugs we will need to keep our pool useable. If the jet cover fits on our pool, we can pop back into the store to settle up. This kind of customer service is not normally found in this neck of the woods. 

I've been attempting to identify the growing things in the yard. 

I think the above will turn out to be Limelight Hydrangea. Or at least some type of Paniculata Hydrangea. The three I have in the front yard are about 6' tall and have been pruned into tree shapes. I trimmed the dead stuff off and will hope for the best. 

I'm a little stumped on the next specimen. The best I could come up with was some type of dogwood.  Here it lives in the corner of a raised bed alongside some honeysuckle vines. It occurs in two other places as well, taller but spindly like a tree sapling would look rather than low and bush-like. The leaves are very pretty in spring, green with red edges and veins. 

My goal today is to identify this little guy. I think he's growing accidentally, but he obviously likes it where he is. Also, I need to see if ferns Ike transplanting. And weed. So much weeding. I have decided that very little was weeded or maintained over the last two years. But that's ok. I'm learning lots and have a bit of reference material to consult in the evenings:

Today's gardening and yard work will occur during the heat of the day. Who would have thought that I'd be talking about hot days after the winter we had?! The bugs are out in the evenings already. I must inlist the teenagers to help today as I'm simply not going to be able to get the yard up to snuff without them.

Mrs. A. 


Knitting Lately...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Trying a bit of blogging from blogger.com itself instead of the Blogger App since I had a lovely post - with pictures! - for you this morning that disappeared into cyber-oblivion. Not impressed.

I was trying to tell you about knitting. Now I just feel silly trying to remember what I said. Perhaps I'll just show you the pictures.

But apparently not, it seems. Blogger.com does not like it when you try to select pictures from it using your iPad. Ok then. Plan B: blog at the .com and insert pics after using App. Gear up.

Picture One: a couple of months ago I packed up my knitting. Here it is all ready to go. It didn't end up fitting in that box, though. I took away the bins and bags and packed my stash all in a very tall box lined with a giant garbage bag and labeled within an inch of its life so it didn't end up being moved to the garage or outside.

Picture Two: my knitting mojo is returning in small bits. During the moving process, this wee bag turned up. I put it into service just recently, now that knitting thoughts are again being entertained. It is perfect for socks. I can fit in 100g of yarn, two pair of needles as well as a yarn needle and scissors for finishing socks on the go. There's room for a couple of credit cards and my phone making it almost as good as a purse.

Pictures Three and Four show a lack of yarn for what I am trying to accomplish. You first see my mostly completed ankle sock. It's for summertime. Cute little picot cuff and then straight on to a short-row heel. And I'm sure you'll notice what a mostly completed ankle sock weighs. Then, picture-the-next shows how much yarn I have left with which to knit the second sock. The second sock will be getting a contrasting toe. But that's ok. The whole point of knitting these was to see if I could cobble a sock together using guidelines instead of a pattern. So far, so good.

Picture Five: Serendipitously, my sister was getting rid of a cabinet as I was searching for one. I have turned this open faced towel cubby into a yarn cabinet. (Bonus pic below to show you that there is even room for my spinning spindles and fluff!) It will do for now. I'm a little worried about critters getting into my string, so I have liberally sprinkled cedar balls onto all the shelves. Hope for the best. It is very nice to have my yarn unpacked. It was one of the first to be packed up and the last to be unpacked.

I am trying to find a bit of time each day to get a few stitches in. I'm looking toward to some bigger and better projects in the near future. There's a new baby on the fall horizon that will need to be knit for and I am very much looking toward to finishing my Rams & Yowes. I will need a small piece of furniture for my living room in which to store my works-in-progress. I have dogs who like to play with yarn if given the opportunity. It doesn't turn out well for me. So I'm thinking a chest or trunk or ???

There. Blog managed. Hopefully when you're reading it you see some pictures in there somewhere. I managed a link. That was novel. Off to edit some pics in I hope.

Mrs. A. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

I can't even think of a title, so today will be untitled. 

So much going on...it feels like time is flying by.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the people around me. Is it an El NiƱo year?! Crazy big things have been happening in many of the families and friends that I feel close to. I'm sure there's an entire blog post in my head about this. 

The Boy Child put the vibes out into the Universe that he would like a job this summer. He was so serious about it that he gave up his traveling soccer team for the season. Now, I've told him to reign in those job-seeking thoughts. He's working for his hockey coach: yard work, landscaping, extra hand around the property. He polished a resume and cover letter and ventured into a scary job interview landing himself a job at the local museum in a summer student position. 

He's also agreed to do our new neighbour's yard work for the summer. Hm. I suppose WE are the new neighbours... There's a job coming up at the apple orchard that he's thinking of applying for as well. It would be employment for him through the school year, not necessarily for the summer. 

On the school front, I sort of turned into a manager rather than a teacher these last few months. I'm sure I'm repeating myself here, but it helps me to sort it out. It looks like The Girl Child will have a full course load of independent learning next fall. We're working toward setting up a co-op placement for her as well as a dual-credit course at the community college. Both kids are signed up for a summer course, online virtual learning. The Boy will take one credit of independent online learning in the fall with the intention of attending a brick-and-mortar high school for second semester. It's an experience he needs he says. He's looking forward to a science class in a classroom as well as a music class. I'm hoping he'll be able to jump in to a sport and a school band as well. I'm hoping they get a good dose of whatever it is they're looking for...and I mean that in the most positive, supportive way possible. 

On the home front, the roof has been reshingled. And now we should be onto the next, new, scary projects as new homeowners. You'll have to do with the following before and after photos of the 'boathouse' as I haven't been out front of the house to take a proper photo of the finished house roof yet. 

Not such a big difference, I suppose, in the pictures. But in real life, it's very noticeable. New is called Harvard Slate, a grey colour. Old was rotten black. 

We're onto gardening and opening the pool. Mr. A. is learning as he goes with the help of a very knowledgeable neighbour who is more than willing to help out. I'm nervous about doing the entire pool care on our own, but figure my energies would be better spent gardening than second-guessing and complaining about the pool. 

I spent the weekend getting acquainted with the honeysuckle vines climbing my pool fence. Again, a before and after for posterity. Real life offers a bit more contrast. 

Next up is to dig out this giant Euonymus that is diseased, old and overgrown: 

In good gardening news, with the help of a friend or two, I have identified a field of Lily of the Valley growing, I've found that I am quite fond of the wee violets that are cropping up all over and I'm pleased to have found a patch of Periwinkle. I left my Periwinkle behind at the old house and was lamenting its loss. I learned it is an invasive species here in Eastern Ontario so I was having this internal conflict about the whole idea of growing vs. not growing Periwinkle. Now that I've found this new patch, I've decided to embrace it because I really like it and it's all over the neighbourhood anyway. 

I had a lovely Mother's Day, I am pleased to report. I was dreading it as extended family drama was clouding my outlook. All turned out well in the end. A solid plan is in place for next year so the politics and drama can be avoided. My kids got me lovely cards and wrote the nicest things in them. Mr. A and I went to a little village north of us for lunch at a pub. I visited the yarn store next door to the pub and bought a new set of sock needles and my first ball of Koigu. 

We then continued on our journey, enjoying a sunny drive to a giant Canadian Tire store which was well stocked with hunting and fishing supplies. Mr. A found a particular fishing rod and reel to add to his collection. So a successful day all around. I'm just glad he really enjoyed his lunch at the pub I picked. It's always a gamble and I always have a better day knowing Mr. A has enjoyed his lunch. 

I'm off to my yard. I will garden (dig up a stubborn stump) and think about the big year that many of my friends have had...and the year that some are about to embark on. It's funny how it all seems to be happening at once.

Mrs. A. 


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