Let's Go For A Walk

I'm a horrible mum. I 'make' the girls go for walks when it's absolutely gorgeous outside. The very idea of leaving the house evokes horrible groaning and moaning. This only makes me more persistent. I suggested we take pictures of fall, and I promised fun. They each promised me that they would NOT have fun, and should fun not be had, I would have to eat a dead rat. Sometimes it's not best to argue with these two. I got this sad puppy look demanding to be taken back home. I resisted knowing I had a surprise up my sleeve that would turn that frown upside down.
We took pictures of pretty red leaves.And we met a very fast caterpillar that we nicknamed Sparky.
And about half an hour later, we arrived at the surprise destination, and it was proclaimed that I was indeed the bestest mum (by the littlest), and there were 'beaucoup de' cheers and skipping.
The travelling exhibit was a big, loud music room with guitars and drums and shakers and pianos and kazoos and all the dress-up stuff so you look cool making music too.
After B was done being a rock star, she went on to become a letter carrier for Canada Post until she got distracted doing a Grimace puzzle (Little known fact - this is my favourite part of going to the Children's Museum. I sit beside it, in that chair, and wait for little kids to mess it up, and when they leave I show off my puzzle skills by putting it back correctly. El thinks I should be embarassed because some strange little kid showed me how a few years back, and now I act like some genius anytime I am around it. So flippin' what?). Then the kid flipped burgs and upselled nuggets at the little McD's. This kid has customer service skills up the wazoo. She even showed El to her table. It was a proud moment.
It was time then to go back in time where she served us tea and made a big pot of tomato soup on the little stove in the corner. When she couldn't find a cow to milk, she milked a big wall mural of horses.
Just before we left, the girls posed as astronauts with B on her tippy-toes and El on her knees. The three of us were a fit of giggles by that point.

We nibbled on some wine gums and threw back a few bottles of water, and we headed home again. I guess it wasn't such a bad idea to get out of the house after all. Silly monkeys.


Stand Away From the Shoes

It's time for the littlest to learn how to tie her shoes because this little pair of Chuck Taylors demands it. I have absolutely no recollection of teaching the oldest, but I must have because she is most competent in tying her laces. This is one of the disadvantages of having children nearly seven years apart. Seven years is more than enough time to forget everything. Honestly, I didn't think I would be doing it again. And so soon! :)

Wish me luck! This little gal is a strong-willed one, and I expect to do battle. I also expect to lose.


A Walk to the Park

B dragged me and my knitting to the park along the river after dinner. I was tired from work, and my tummy was full, but I relented, and I don't regret a single minute. We started off with our sweaters slung over my bag, but on the way back home an hour later, we had to throw them on to stay warm. It was a beautiful evening with just the right amount of sun to take a few good pictures including some native flowers, the underbelly of a wild mushroom and some leaves that display fall in action. I managed to knit several rows of the shawl, and B ran and climbed off some energy. It was full of smiles and wonder. It was absolutely rejuvenating. For this, I am thankful.


Side-tracked But Not For Long

I am supposed to be knitting up a couple second socks and finishing the Woodland Shawl, and in the event that those few projects are completed, I have a ton of stuff in the queue, not to mention the Christmas gifties I fully intend to knit in three months. So what am I doing casting on for a simple garter-stitch shawl with some stashed Boku? I haven't a clue. I am already through one ball and onto the second! This is insane. It's no wonder I literally feel like I am being stretched in a million different directions!

P.S. Hey, don't miss your chance for a free one-year subscription to eco-friendly Plenty magazine. Click here and click on the long-armed green monster.

The Art of Acquisitions

My gratuitous copy of Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines arrived on Thursday, and I was like a kid with candy. This book is so flippin' cool. Did you see Amanda's Jane Austen? I need an entire night on the sofa with a hot pot of tea to absorb every hysterical word. I love reading their blog, and I loved their first book. I am most certain that this book will amuse me to no end.
Last night I went antiquing with a long lost cousin, and we hit an antique mall for three hours! They had to kick us out - no word of a lie. I don't think we even saw half of it. I have lived in this city for fourteen years, and I've never thought to enter its doors. We have made arrangements for Part 2 - The Rest of the Booths! Unbelievable. I bought this blue and white plaid mohair and wool throw made by the Hudson's Bay Company - I believe it will match my blue Christmas theme. I also bought a queen-sized heavy white cotton coverlet set complete with pillow shams for our bed. I really lucked out and found a wire set of sock blockers for $5. There was so much else that I wanted to buy, but I had to show some restraint plus there's always next time!
I nearly forgot to update on the Year of the Frog contest out at Isa's Bloomin' Bog. El won the photography contest for her age group - she received this frog needle-felting kit, and B got an honourable mention for her colouring page. The girls were thrilled. Not to mention, me - I've never needle-felted before! I am certain that I will need to assist her with this project!
Happy weekend, everybody!


Cooking Tomorrow's Meal

If any of you enjoy a hearty tomato soup, then I have one that I have jumbled together from my favourite soup recipes. Tonight, I started with simmering a pile of diced celery and onions in olive oil and a couple cloves of crushed garlic and a spoonful of dried basil.
Add a can of tomatoes - this one happened to be crushed tomatoes - and a can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Grind some black pepper to taste. At the same time, I add six cups of vegetable stock, and then I bring it to all to a boil and simmer it for half an hour on low heat. This batch is going in to the fridge to stew until tomorrow night when I require a quick dinner. I will also have loads left for lunches the next day. MMMMmmm.
I mustn't forget dessert, and the apples are piling high in the kitchen and beginning to get a bit soft, so no one is touching them. Perfect for apple crisp. I used this recipe.

I love the smell of a crisp baking in the oven. It should be done in about five minutes, and then I am on bedtime story duty. I don't dare say 'duty' out loud or I will find myself in the midst of three sillyheads doubling over with laughter while gasping "I did a Darth Doody." Yes. Sometimes it's best to keep quiet.


A Whole Lotta B and L at the KW

I got a tad carried away at the Briggs & Little booth at the KW Knitters Fair. Within ten minutes of arriving at Bingemans, I had paid for 12 skeins of seafoam Heritage destined to become a Cobblestone for J. That might not seem like much, but I haphazardly grabbed 10 random skeins in a variety of colours and weights from the $1.50 bin, and I basically called it a day. I really had no choice as I couldn't hold much more or move around in booths with more than 4500 yards of wool hanging from my arms. I think I have my Christmas knitting of hats, mitts and scarves laid out ahead of me.

I still had about six hours ahead of me to browse all the booths, so I spread out and managed to find a few more bargains. Thanks to a tip from one of my most pleasant passengers, I was able to scoop up two skeins of Sweet Sheep superwash merino sock yarn in psychedelic colourways for a steal in the boo-boo bin. They're absolutely perfect for two crazy girls under my roof.

And because no knitters fair is complete without a purchase at The Black Lamb, I present to you a single skein of City Silk - a blend of silk and merino wool. I really wanted to buy it in a brilliant green, but I needed to choose a colour my mum would love because I would really like to knit her a lace ribbon scarf. It's still a bit too soon to knit it again, but when I am ready, the stash under my bed will be prepared. The grey-ish green is starting to grow on me. I can already picture it wrapped around her neck with her winter jacket. Must resist the temptation to cast on immediately. Oh dear.
Did everyone see the fall Knitty? I've been noticing vests around me over the last several weeks, and then the fall Knitty pops up, and my suspicions are confirmed. I must make vests. Lots of them. I haven't found a pattern yet for the vest I want to make the littlest, so I might wing it. It's like an armless sweater, a bit bulky, with unsymmetrical cables and maybe a high collar. Is that weird? Maybe I am not describing it right. Hmm. For J, I want to knit a sexy, lightweight stockinette v-neck vest. I saw this on an unappealing old man last week, and I wanted to rip that vest right off him. I figured this was a good sign - I mean, that I imagined it would look equally good on J. For El, the vest must be long and modern and simple - a tunic?
I think this calls for a Vest-a-thon! I think I have a participant already hooked. Fair warning, I am a horrid competitor. If I don't let these potential projects languish, I will be rubbing it in your faces at what a fantabulous knitter I am. Just saying.
Carry on!

Progress However Slow

This is a sock that was started up at the cottage in the middle of the summer. To avoid losing these precious Addis when I finished the sock that was on the needles on the way up to the cottage, I quickly cast on another pair with some Lana Grossa Meilenweit in a marbley green colourway. They're just plain ribbing, and they've become my travel knitting - always in my bag ready to knit a round or two while waiting for one thing or another. It's still only half a sock, but I managed to turn the heel a new way to me, and it was fun and easy. I have no idea what it is called or how to describe it, so I will leave you in suspense, but once it's finished, I will model it, and perhaps you can see what I have done differently. At this pace, it could be some time from now. I am thinking that they will be a Christmas stocking gift for El. Her feet are easily a size larger than mine. Eek!
Here's a quick shot of the progress on the Woodland Shawl. I am nearly finished skein #2! I've gotten a bit cheeky and over-confident, and some errors were made, but there's no way that I would be able to fix them properly, so I stayed calm and carried on. Maybe me and a few knitters might spot the gaps in the pattern, but I can live with that. Trust me. I prefer imperfections in a lot of things when I think about it. I am very weary of 'perfect'. It's too slick and shiny. Or maybe this thinking is a defence mechanism, and I unconsciously know I am unable to achieve perfection. Nah, that's not it. I like scruffy, chipped, tousled, faded, and worn in my life. I truly do, but I like my coffee crisp.


First Signs of Fall

B 'sanks' you for all your happy birthday wishes! She's been treated royally the past few days, and is still looking forward to a bowling party this weekend. The fun never ends around here!
The girls are settling nicely into some homework routines that I hope-hope-hope we can maintain. El has always dreaded math, and it's like pulling teeth to get her to study. We were lucky to find a Family Math program when she was in Grade 2, and as a family, we learned that math was fun and wonderful. It helps us during times like these. There are so many ways to get an answer and learn math, and math is so much bigger than 2 plus 2. One of our favourite games is a card game that can be adapted a gazillion ways. This was the general premise:
All you need is a pack of cards, paper and pencils. I think we called it 'Double Up'. On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1 to 12 and finish the equations for each times 2. Like this:
1 x 2 = 2
2 x 2 = 4
3 x 2 = 6
4 x 2 = 8
5 x 2 = 10
6 x 2 = 12
7 x 2 = 14
8 x 2 = 16
9 x 2 = 18
10 x 2 = 20
11 x 2 = 22
12 x 2 = 24
This is your child's cheat sheet. Taking the pack of cards (aces are 1's, jacks are 11's, and queens are 12's, and remove the kings and jokers), flip up each card and have your child double it. If they need to look down at the cheat sheet, it's completely okay! Eventually they don't need to refer to their list as they have memorized it. It's become rote. Have them time themselves and try to beat their records. Have them guess how long it will take to go through the deck once - that's estimation! When they guess the wrong number - ask them how they got that number. Sometimes, they're honest and tell you they picked it out of thin air, but usually they've given it some thought, and you can follow their thought process. And that's math! Guessing and estimating and measuring. Once 'double up' becomes easy-peasy, you can 'double up plus one' meaning multiply the card by two and add one. Or 'double up and minus one'. Just have them write up a new list if necessary. Tonight we did two versions at the same time - the littlest took the number on the card and added two, and the oldest squared the number on the card. They had fun trying to beat each other's response. And each time a 2 was flipped, their answer was the same! :)
I wish I could remember all the Family Math games. I know we took an early years version of the program about a year and a half ago with just B, and she had a blast. We went on 'math walks' where we searched our environments for numbers and shapes. We read math stories filled with repetition, patterns, and comparisons. We studied spatial measurement by filling up different sizes of containers and making notes. We sorted buttons and rocks by sizes and shapes and colours, and we counted and we estimated . . . It was a fun way to spend our Saturday afternoons!
After our homework and games, we went out for a walk along the river. We found our first pretty red leaf on the ground, and some flowers to make a tiny bouquet. B kept yelling (she was listening to music with her earphones at the same time and had absolutely no perspective regarding her loudness), "It's a sign of fall! It's a sign of fall!" Man, she was excited. Me, too.
And to ring in the first signs of fall, I bought an enormous pot of lavendar mums for the front porch because lavendar and bright curry yellow just match, right?

Three Hours

Noon - it was raining. We waited for our guests to arrive.
Pretty raindrops!
1 p.m. - Barbecuing in the rain under an umbrella - not J's idea of fun. He suggested calling for pizza, and I told him to suck it up. Easy for me to say as I sat inside with the rest of my family taking pictures of him and laughing. Hey, it was funny!
2 p.m. - B tried to blow out the six candles. Thankfully some grandparents were able to sneak a few blows in to help otherwise we could have stood there for some time.
3 p.m. - I think she must have wished for sun, because as soon as we had eaten our ice cream and cake, the skies cleared, and it was time for more bocce! Bocce sharks attack!

Happy Sunday!


Cats Go Meow Meow

I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday. I was at Chapters early April, and I just wanted to see Amanda Soule's book in real life, and I was drinking a latte. I was certain that her book would be in the craft/hobbies section, so I was perusing it intently (to no avail as it was in the parenting section across the store unbeknownst to me even though that made complete sense), and I came across GOLD - a whole series of Aranzi Aronzo Cute Books! Oh, I wanted every single one. I also know too well my tendency to look and not do. It didn't seem like a good investment at the time because of that fact as well as the fact that I was heading to a huge Knitters Fair in a few weeks' time, and all of my play money was spoken for. I tried to forget these pretty books, but when scoping the library catalogue online some time later, I spied The Cute Book once again! Holds were placed, and the waiting game began. It stayed IN CATALOGUING for a very long time - months. I found out why this was (one of my bestest friends is a librarian and is very patient about my constant inquiries into the system). Apparently a certain number of holds have to be placed on a new book for it to hit the shelves. Well, this should come as no shock, but I have four library cards. Well, I have three other family members in my household, and I put them to work. Altogether I put four holds on that book, and still I waited months more. Apparently this book was way under the radar.

Last week, I finally got my notices - there are two copies of this book in the system, and I currently have both in my hands. I have two more weeks to have them laying about my house, and I will then have to return them until the next time. Of course, this got my butt in motion, and I am embarassed to admit this, but it took me two nights to finish off one little gal. A crazy little cat who gets into everything. She hasn't a name yet, but that shouldn't last. Isn't she cute?

I am very aware that the needlework looks to be done by a 5-year old, and although I could believably use this as an excuse, this shabby work was completely my own. I am still head over heels in love with her and her imperfections. Even B was startled and excited this morning to see kitty sitting pretty by the sofa.

I want to make more, but we must get ready for B's birthday dinner tomorrow. She turns SIX next week!! This house is a disaster area! Really. I'd like to blame it all on the kitty and the kids, but truth is this first week back to school has been keeping all of us busy, but in the best way. Honestly, I am seriously loving getting back into the regular routines, and it's the first year that both girls are in school full-time. Hurray!