Happy 4 Days After My Birthday To Me!

January 25, 2009

What a week. I have to say that after an awesome concert and the inauguration of the 44th president, my birthday was a little bit of a let-down. My choice was a low key birthday. I had a 4 day weekend, but it went by so quickly and didn’t feel like we had any down time (and I am all about the down time). So for my birthday, I asked if we could bring in take-out and watch movies. It was wonderful. We had kabobs and rice and pita and hummus. Yummmmm…

Mom, Bill and I sat on the couch and watched tv and movies. Mom and I knit while Bill played around on his computer. Just what I wanted. I did have to work in the morning and none of my coworkers remembered my birthday, but I got emails and phone calls and facebook Happy Birthdays from the important people in my life.

All in all, a very nice birthday. Except that I’m very mad at my mom. She has gotten me totally hooked on this chocolate whip cream concoction from the Amish Market. Mom and Bill were shopping on Friday and mom saw this dessert in the case and suggested they get it. It was (is) a chocolatey slice of heaven that I managed to live without before, but now I am obsessed. Thanks, Mom (insert sarcasm here).

Mom left for home on Thursday morning and Bill left for our west coast home today. Suffice it to say, the house is very quiet. Booo… In good news, Sabrina is going to her new home. Bill reports that she has been very well behaved. She doesn’t really love her carrier. Bill had to take her out of said carrier and carry her through the metal detector. Well, little Sabrina could not get back in her carrier fast enough. So far their trip has been uneventful and fingers crossed they land safely.

Despite the Sunday blahs, I did finish a pair of socks today. (The sock that is on my lap in the picture.) Details to follow with a better picture. And now it’s time to hit the hay. But I think I’ll read a little first. I am in the home stretch of Great Expectations.


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Witnessing History

January 20, 2009

I can’t believe that I was there to see Barack Obama get sworn in as President of the United States. It was an amazing experience.

I didn’t really see anything. I could see the Capital. Everything I saw, I saw on a jumbotron. The only thing that mattered was being a part of a million plus people who really just wanted something to be excited about. And they were excited. We were excited. We were also cold and tired but that didn’t matter. We were there.

The day started at 4:20am. We got up, got dressed, grabbed our food and got out the door. We left at 5am, got to the metro station 15 minutes later, had a little panic attack when we couldn’t turn left into the metro station but we went around the back and while there were a lot of cars and people, there was plenty of parking. The metro station was crowded but people moved through quickly and we got on a train with no problems.

Our only hitch for the day was that we couldn’t cross Pennsylvania Avenue (the parade route) which we had read we could, so after walking a bit, we doubled back and got back on a train to backtrack two stops. We met some very nice people from Southern California who were having the same problem and we told them our plan and they asked if they could follow us which of course was no problem.

The good news is that our plan worked and we were able to get to the mall except that we were about 10 blocks farther away from the Capitol than we had planned. We were going to keep walking and get as close as we could but after two blocks we were in front of the Washington Monument and up on a little hill and had a great view of the Capitol and a jumbotron screen. We decided to stay put in part because we figured being closer to the metro was better and because the mall was already looking really crowded. At 8am we had plenty of space for our blanket so that we could lay down and relax. By 10am, it was standing room only.

Here’s the important part. Using a potty was no problem. All the news reports kept saying there’s one bathroom for every 400 people. And maybe so, but when I needed to go, I was able to use a relatively clean porta-pottie without having to wait. They had TP and antibacterial gel so I was happy.

The ceremony was awesome. It is amazing how quiet one million people can be. And they were also quite loud, but at appropriate parts. If you saw it on tv, you know how great it was. Probably the only difference between your experience and my experience is that you could feel your toes and I couldn’t.

I really enjoyed President Obama’s inaugural address. He was able to balance the realism of the difficult times and the long road ahead with a feeling of hope and the potential for the future. He has a way of inspiring people and I hope that people, myself included, really will heed his call to action. President Obama has a way of uniting people to work towards a common purpose which is something really needed in our country and I left the ceremony feeling optimistic about the future.

I will admit that walking back to the metro station, I started to think that being there wasn’t worth all the trouble. But I think that was my low blood sugar talking. It took us nearly two hours to walk about a mile and a half. Then we were held up outside the metro station while they got people onto trains and cleared the masses off the platform. That was only about fifteen minutes and we got through the station gates quickly and a train pulled us as we were on the down escalator and we got on that train which thank goodness had seats available. Once I was sitting, I was again grateful to have been there.

All in all it took us 3 hours to get home. We got home at 3:30, which is what I had predicted. We were so smart this weekend, we good meals in advance so that once we got home, we could turn on the oven and reheat stuff and have hot, warming the inside, meals. On Sunday we had chicken and dumpling soup and today we had pizza and spaghetti and garlic bread. It was so fun to sit in front of the tv with our dinner and watch the tv coverage from the morning. We did a lot of fast forwarding, but we did watch the ceremony again. And everytime they showed the crowds we would say “I can’t believe we were there.”

I can’t believe we were there.


We Are One

January 19, 2009

Yesterday was the We Are One concert in Washington, DC. We were there and it was awesome! I didn’t really know what to expect except for lots of people.

We left at 9:30 (for a 2:30 concert) and didn’t have any problems finding a parking space or getting on a train. It seemed like they were running trains on a rush hour schedule which was very smart. We had a short walk from the metro station to the reflecting pool. We found clean port-o-potties, Starbucks, and Obama gear on the course of our walk. Getting through security was no problem; they were very efficient and polite but it helped that we checked out the restricted items list. We ended up with great “seats” about halfway up the reflecting pool, in front of a jumbo screen. We could see Mr. Lincoln, sitting so solemnly in his memorial.

The entertainment was amazing. Bill pointed out that he really enjoyed hearing artists cover other songs because it can show what great singers they really are and he was right. There were lots of actors participating too, reading inspirational, historical “stuff”. We were also really surprised that Obama and Biden stayed for the entire concert. They would occasionally show him rockin’ out, singing along to music, and when he came on the screen everyone cheered. The feeling in the air was one of joy and hope. I think that Mary J. Blige was my favorite, having sung Lean on Me. U2 was also awesome, with Bono saying that it was a big deal for a kid from the west side of Dublin. All the (male) actors and many of the performers wore suits which to me was a reflection of the respect they felt for the moment. And the concert ended as I thought it should, with everyone on stage together.

It took us 75 minutes to get on a train which was not bad at all. About an hour was walking to the metro station and 15 minutes waiting once we got to the station. Not bad at all.

Today Mom, Bill and I participated in a National Day of Service by donating blood. The donation center was hopping and it took us about an hour and a half from start to finish.

We’ve got a little bit to do before tomorrow. Sandwiches to make. Boots to find. Cameras to charge. I’m not looking forward to waking up at o’dark hundred, but it will be worth it!


I Am Like a Little Kid

January 16, 2009

I have been in a state of constant excitement for the last couple of days. Yesterday, it was because Bill was flying in from California. Today, it is because my mom is driving in. I am like a little kid when it comes to expecting guests. I have gotten so little done because I can’t concentrate – the anticipation!!

Aside from the fact that it will be nice to be with my family, there is a lot going on this weekend in the metro Washington DC area. This guy, Barack Obama, is being inaugurated this weekend. Maybe you’ve heard? I am so excited.

Bill and I went to the inauguration eight years ago. We were relatively new to the area and figured it would be an experience. It was very cool. I want to say that we went without a lot of planning, and I don’t know why but we brought a transitor radio with us. Best thing we could have done. We were far from the Capitol and couldn’t hear a thing, but we were able to get Bush’s speech on the radio. There we were, holding the radio, surrounded by complete strangers who huddled around us to hear. It was cool. We also got lucky because the motorcade passed right in front of us on the way from the White House to the Capitol and we saw the President and President-elect on the way to the ceremony. Okay, saw is a strong word, but they were in those cars.

I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent trying to come up with our plan for Tuesday. And I still haven’t gotten it nailed down. The biggest issue is getting there. Do we drive to the metro station, park and then take the train into the city? If we do this do we get to the metro station at 3:30am when the parking lot opens? Do we drive down to a closer station to park or park at the end of the line? Do we take a bus at 5:30 that will take us closer to the city and metro in from there? We have a general idea of where we would like to stand if possible. I’m also going into this with no expectations. I just want to be down there with however many millions or people end up going. I have maps of where the jumbotrons are going to be. I know the general layout. I know to use a toilet whenever I see one regardless of whether or not I have to go. I have a general idea of what I want to do afterwards to be able to get on a train to get home. I know what I am going to wear. Truly, getting there is what we really need to figure out. And a plan for meeting up should we get separated. Minor things, really. (smile)

There’s a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday that we are going to go to. It will be our trial run. I think they are only expecting a million people for the concert. (smile) The concert will be televised (for free) live at 2:30 on HBO and replayed at at 7pm EST if you’re interested. Look for me. I’ll be in a black coat with a teal scarf… (smile)

And if this all isn’t enough, my birthday is on Wednesday! And my mom and Bill will be here to celebrate!! I have not spent my birthday with my mom in a really, really, really long time. I wonder if she will bake me a cake?

So if you are wondering what this post has to do with the picture, the answer is nothing. But I feel compelled to always post a photograph. Actually, these are socks that I finished while I was visiting my west coast home. They are Jonesy’s Toe Up Socks from Mountain Colors. The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot. They took me about 14 months from start to finish (I spent a lot of that time NOT knitting them). And they are photographed on sock blockers that Bill bought me for Christmas! I really enjoyed the pattern – a faux cable as I like to call it. I was concerned about how much yarn I had so they are a little longer than anklets. As it turned out, I had just enough yarn. I also have decided that I really like toe-up socks because if one sock equals one skein you can just keep knitting until you run out of yarn. These were one skein = two socks hence my concern about yarn. But I don’t like the toe as much as the toe from the top down socks I am currently working on. Everything is a tradeoff. But this is the first pair of toe up socks I’ve done. There are others and maybe I will like those toes more. And in the interest of full disclosure, the top down socks I am working on are the first of that kind too. I am new to socks, but completely hooked!

If I was looking for a way to tie everything together I could say that these were socks I plan on wearing to the inauguration on Tuesday, but that’s not the case. They took me so long to do I am scared to wear them.


Sick of Squares!

January 9, 2009

Do you hear that? Ignore the coughing, listen to me whooping it up because I have finished the last of the 24 squares for my lizard ridge afghan. The afghan that has been 2 years in the making. Two years!!!!

The photo is the second to last square. The last square is behind it being blocked on my very high tech blocking system (a piece of cardboard). Because these squares need to be the same size, I created a template and then Bill punched it out onto a huge cardboard thing for me so that I could block 5 squares at a time and they would end up the same size. I knit four squares while I was on vacation and I blocked the 22 completed squares leaving me two to finish. And now those two are done.

The pattern instructions said to steam block the squares, but I gave my little babies a bath. (Actually, I didn’t see the part of about steaming until two days ago – oops!.) I’m glad I blocked the way I did though because the squares really softened up. Kureyon can be a little scratchy, but after a bath with a tiny bit of my shampoo, they are nice wooly soft.

I am hoping that tomorrow I can lay the quilt out and start to seam it up. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do the crochet border which looks confusing to me. The edging is definitely going to require a trial run.

Aside from being sick of these squares, I am sick. I spent the morning in bed sleeping. I spent the afternoon in bed knitting and watching tv. I spent the evening in bed knitting, weaving in ends, blocking and watching tv. I think I am ready to get back to the sleeping. Mucinex and fluids are my friends.

Here’s hoping I feel better tomorrow, but in the meantime I feel great that I finished those stinkin’ squares.


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A Christmas Gift for Gran

January 8, 2009

Yay! Another Christmas FO!

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with what to get some people for the holidays. And “those” people are people who are looking to reduce the amount of their “stuff” instead of adding to it. It’s not really an age thing either, because right now Bill and I are looking to lighten out load and we’re 50 years younger than Bill’s grandmother. Since I do know that Gran has spent the last two years (off and on) going through closets and getting rid of things, I classified her as one of “those” people. And I don’t mean for you to think that I’m being negative about “those” people because I’m all for simplying (see new year’s resolution #1).

On my last visit with Gran, we had been talking about cute yet moderately priced grocery tote bags. I had an idea to make one of out burlap but never got around to it. So for Christmas, I was inspired to put my idea into action for Gran’s Christmas gift. My mom recently told me how to do French seams, and I used the French seams on the grocery tote so that I wouldn’t have any raw edges, and I figured it would give the bag extra reinforcement. For the edging on the top, I made my own bias tape, and used that same bias tape for the handles which are one piece going around and under the bag, again for reinforcement. The bottom is where things got tricky. I couldn’t figure out how to do the french seams on the bottom, and I was really short on time so I didn’t have the luxury of being able to really play with it, leave it, mull it over, take out what I did before, etc. So for the bottom, I used some of my left over bias tape to cover those two raw seams. Even as I think about it now, I still can’t figure it out; definitely something that will require “play” time. My other design decision was to do short handles. My giant tote has long handles which I could use to put the bag over my shoulder, but I never really do that, and I haven’t really seen other shoppers do that. So I went with short handles.

The fabric, which you can’t tell unless you see a detailed view, is pink and red strawberries! I love it! Strawberries for a grocery tote; cute right? The bag itself is made out of burlap which I figured would be strong. The only downside about the burlap is that it sheds. I am wondering if it will stop shedding. It would be really nice if it did. Really nice.

If you’re curious about the dimensions, so am I. At one point I did write it down and have a sketch. No idea where that is. I was in a hurry to get the gift wrapped and while I stopped for pictures, I did not stop for final measurements. But it is a generous size, probably about 13 inches tall and 4 inches wide?

All in all I am about 90% pleased. As I told Gran, normally I would have made a prototype and kept that one and then would have made a second that would have been the gift and corrected all the mistakes of the prototype. But I was really really under a time crunch and so Gran got the prototype. I will also say that I am pleased with how it turned out even though I would change some things, and that if I had been even the tinest bit unhappy with it, she would have gotten an IOU.

Now to make one for myself.


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It’s Like Vacation Exploded Here

January 4, 2009

I made it back from California in one piece although I didn’t get more than 45 minutes sleep (on the red eye). I have recovered enough and am crossing my fingers that I can fall asleep tonight. Of course, I am going to have to clean off the bed for that to be possible (or at least shove everything over to one side – shhh…don’t tell my mom that I would do that.) And believe it or not, this is just from my carry-on. I haven’t unpacked my big bag except to get at my Frango mints (priorities!).

While I haven’t been putting things away I have been updating my ravelry account with some of my recent finished projects. I will be parading them through here over the next couple of days. I also cleaned out the kitchen cabinet with all the canned/dry foods. Lots of expired stuff, the oldest being from 2005. Most of the stuff was 2007. I have to be better about wasting less stuff. But it did feel good to take inventory and see what I have to use up. (I did this while I waited for my dinner to heat up – stromboli from the Royal Bagel Bakery – yum!!)

I am contemplating a load of laundry and should also figure out what I am going to wear to work tomorrow which is especially important because 90% of my stuff really needs to go to the cleaners. I knew this before I left on vacation but just couldn’t get to it. Better make it a priority for tomorrow.

Hope you all are enjoying your Sunday evenings and I wish you all the best on the first Monday of the new year.


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Happy New Year!

January 3, 2009

I have spent the last 10 days in this basic position. Add in a little knitting on occasion, or a book, change the tv show I’ve been watching and that’s been my vacation. It has been heaven. I had been going a little nuts before Christmas getting ready for the craft fair and then rushing to finish Christmas presents and I really needed some down time. Mission accomplished. Not looking forward to going back to work but that is still a few days away.

I’ve definitely been looking forward to 2009 and a fresh start. The last couple of months have been challenging, especially right before Christmas with the passing of my sweet kitty. I am doing much better with the loss and am grateful for the 12 years we had together. As for the other stuff, Bill and I are in the process of a cross country move and have been living apart for the last three months while we try and sell our home. I’m doing my best to focus on how exciting this is for us, and the current challenges are just a small obstacle in the road to our getting to where we want to be, but some days are better than others.

While I’m excited to be starting my west coast life sometime in 2009, I’m also thinking about my resolutions, or my focus for 2009.

1. Live simply. For me, this is a bunch of things. Eat more fruits, veggies and whole grains. Not make things so complicated. Think about needs vs. wants. Get rid of stuff. Be more organized. Etc…

2. Work from my stash. I always say that I have enough yarn, needlepoint and cross stitch patterns to last me 3 years. No time like the present to put it to the test.

3. Read. I read 36 books in 2008, 20 more than in 2007. I have about 110 books in my library that I haven’t read. I’m currently reading Great Expectations which was a resolution for 2007.

4. Finish my works in progress. One of my resolutions for 2008 was to finish 2 afghans I started. I’m about 90 percent done with one of them. My goal is to finish those two projects, and all the others that I’ve got going.

5. Enjoy every day.

Those are my resolutions. Pretty general, but that’s what I am feeling for this year. Do you do resolutions?


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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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