Sunday, February 28, 2010

I throw like a girl..........

Wow, have we been living life around here lately. We have Olympics on the TV all the time, and so, I often retreat to the bedroom to see what's playing on TCM. (They are showing all Oscar winners this month.) Like when, say, curling is on. I tell the sports fans they are welcome to be inspired and wield brooms around here anytime. After all, we are having an early mud season. And we have dogs who go in and out, and in and out, you get the picture.
Right now, I have the USA/Canada hockey game on. I am not completely impervious to the draw of a spirited athletic competition. I am actually an athletic wanna-be. I'm not naturally particularly muscular or quick or coordinated. I am very flexible and somewhat motivated. As a child, despite my height, I was a miserable basketball player as I had no aggression to play offense. I was always so afraid to advance into the key with the ball. I might bump into somebody, or heaven forbid, commit a foul. I was a bit of a shrinking violet. Well, a tall shrinking violet.
I think if I had been petite, I'd have made a passable gymnast. I'm fascinated by the sport, and love the challenge to discipline your body to perform very specific and perfectly-timed and balanced feats. I took ballet classes a few times growing up, and loved them. I remember being very sorry when a 2-hour class was over.
My sport of choice of the winter games is speed skating. I don't get too involved in watching the events, but I just love watching any skater skate. I still feel like I would like to try out a pair of the skates someday on a large frozen lake. All that wide open space, where I could really get up some speed, and not have to watch our for other skaters. I could really push myself and develop the rhythm. It makes me think of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, and people being able to travel long distances on frozen canals in Holland. Do you remember that story? How incredibly cool.
And then of course, there is the figure skating and the ice dancing. Who wouldn't want to do that? But again, my height limits me. I'm too tall for pairs (nearly 5'8"), and probably for ice dancing too... I wonder if, like gymnastics, it is harder for tall people to maneuver the jumps and spins, etc.
Oh, and the title of this post? Of course, I throw like a girl. How else would I throw? Here's something I'd like to see Olympic Snowball fighting....that has got to be the ultimate winter sport.Someone made fun of my snowball throw the other day when I playfully lobbed one over his shoulder. "You throw like a girl!", he crowed, with his usual arrogant superiority.
The next one hit him -smack!- right between the eyes....
'Nuff said.
ETA: Okay, I just saw a Coca-Cola commercial of a snowball fight breaking out in the Olympic village. I promise you I have never seen this ad before. What a comforting thought that I am now channeling Coca-Cola moments. Gotta go, I'm thirsty.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Progress, in all its forms

Cooking? Yes, cooking. When have you ever seen me post about cooking? Take it easy...I told you I was trying to increase my efforts in the kitchen. In this picture, my DS Evan is dipping his Triscuit into Chicken and Rice soup.
But don't be too impressed...I just made a broth of "Better than Bouillon" chicken flavor and cut up some carrots. (didn't have any celery on hand) Then I cut up the leftover skinless boneless chicken breasts which Jeff made for supper on Friday, and threw those in and then finally the leftover brown rice we had served with them. I threw in some ground thyme (liberally), a little fresh-ground black pepper, and a mild-to-moderate sprinkle of nutmeg. Now, if I were really devoted to impressing my family, I would have made biscuits or dumplings or something. Sounds messy. Oh well, this will do for a post-church Sunday lunch.
Here's the first half of the Filet Heart Runner. Oh well, there's always next Valentine's Day... (And Sweetest Day in October, a Hallmark invention, I think.)

And here's the Dapper Chap Vest. Last time I posted it, I hadn't yet added the blue. The colorwork came out just okay, not great. I just couldn't get the tension right between the knitting yarns and the carried colors. I hold out hope that when I block it, I can work it all out..
I have started the armhole shaping on the left front (see that little backwards "J" about midway at the top?). In the meantime, the back and right front wait patiently having been left at the chest level. Once the left front, back, and right front are finished separately, I will weave the shoulder seams with the much-maligned Kitchener stitch, and add the separating zipper that I have yet to purchase. I am dreading going to the craft store and seeing that none of the available colors match or complement my colors. Which will mean an online purchase.
I still haven't gotten to the CS for the iron-on transfer pen, so now I really need to find the time for the trip. (That explains why this post has no Embroidery Project update.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Soooooo busy!

I have missed blogging! I have been so busy living my real life that I had to let blogging go for a little while. And I'm back today. I hope this means I'm back to regular blogging but I'm not sure. Some exciting opportunities have come our way at work. My husband and I work together for the same company, which has had a marathon struggle in this economy. It's beginning to look like we are turning a corner, and that means the opportunity to do the real work. And that means adjustments for me in my daily life, and continuing to look for the balance to live it all healthfully and richly.
Recently, Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality posted about balancing blogging with her real life. Would you believe it? I didn't read that post. I didn't want to. Because I didn't want to think about what was working and what was not working. Not just yet. Now I think I am ready.
Today, I rejoined FLY Lady. Do you know her? It's Marla Cilley, who wrote a book and runs a website entirely devoted to helping people gain control of their lives and households. She stresses getting rid of clutter, developing healthy habits, and making household chores into quick and relatively effortless routines. She is a cheerleader for you when you are hard on yourself for your "failures". I had adopted many of her methods a few years ago, but I have gradually let one thing after another slide.
I don't know what the trigger is when I decide to change something big. What about you? What makes anyone decide to do better at something? Why quit smoking? Eat more nutritiously? Get regular exercise? Maybe I'm just being a late bloomer. Again. I didn't (and never do) make out New Year's resolutions. But maybe they have been percolating in the back of my brain. Maybe because of the beginning of Lent? I've never committed to a Lenten sacrifice, although as a Lutheran, I do observe Lent. I considered giving up chocolate, or sweets. But I must admit, I feared failure, as I am surrounded by temptations as we entertained international clients last week, and have more arriving this week. I have a terrible sweet tooth, and I know that giving up sweets would be a very effective sacrifice. But I also really think you have to have your mind very focused on why you are doing it, and right now, I think I would be doing it to impress myself with how "good" I can be. Which, besides missing the point of making a sacrifice, is a set-up to beat myself up should I give in to temptation, and be "bad". So I am not going there this year.
So that's where my head has been in the last few days. Thinking about busyness, clutter, Lent, and doing a better job taking care of myself, my family and our home.

Well, that and wishing the temperature would get colder so I could get outside and go skating at the outdoor skating rink.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A novice tries to transfer an embroidery pattern

Well, last Saturday, I found the embroidery kit that I had so cleverly hidden from myself in plain sight. And, excitedly, I got started! The first thing was to trace the pattern with my new iron-on transfer pencil and iron the image onto all the pieces of felt for cutting out and stitching.

I have a light box, but I thought the window would be more fun.

I used to chuckle when Lucy at Attic24 would make fun of how her hands looked in her crafty posts. She's several years younger than I, and thinks her hands look old and wrinkly. She should see mine!

Here's the ironing part. You can see the steam condensed in the water tank, but I was using a dry iron, really. Here's what I learned. You have to cover the printed pattern piece before you iron. The ink melts and smudges. It would have been better for me to trace the pattern on tracing paper (which I don't have, but will get before I do this again).Here is the paper I put over the pattern before I ironed. See all the ink that transferred to the paper!
I believe that this pencil was intended for and works best with woven cotton and linen. It transferred just enough to be seen on the cream-colored felt.
So I went ahead and cut the cream parts out.

However, I couldn't see the transferred pencil adequately on the other colors I tried. So, I've done a little research.
And I think my next craft purchase will be a Sulky iron-on transfer pen in yellow or white. Has anyone had any experience with this product? Particularly onto wool felt?
The other issue I had with using the pencil was that it was hard to get a good heavy line. I would push down good and hard, and all I managed to do was break the lead three times. I think it didn't help that I was using a cold window. I wonder if it would transfer better onto a warmer surface. And be a little less brittle. My hands got a little crampy pushing down so hard and going over and over the lines.
I must admit that the whole experience took a long time and wasn't a whole lot of fun, and clearly did not leave me prepped to stitch. It's been a bit of a learning curve.
But I'm determined to keep trying and figure out how to make this work. I looked on Alicia's website. She has a link to a flickr photostream of these ornaments that folks have completed. Sooo inspiring. Some have bought the pattern only and used their own materials, and it's great to see the variety of color combinations that others have put together. So, if they can do it, so can I! Back to the craft store, fire up the iron, I'll try another transfer method.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaack!

Did you miss me?

I have had a cold and so in the evenings on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, I went straight to bed without posting, miserable and sneezing and sniffling. Last night, however, I started a post, only to have lost my internet connection for some reason that only the techies in the house understood. It takes a long time to upload my photos on Blogger ( a complaint that I've heard from others), and so I only do them 2 at a time, and it takes near on a half hour to load them this way!

So now I'm posting on my lunch hour without access to the pictures I wanted to post.....

But anyway, here goes!

I got the above 2 images from The Graphics Fairy. I chose them because I love ice skating, even though I am barely able to stay up on my skates, and because I love Scottish tartans, kilts, tams, and the national flower, the Thistle.
Now, I had wanted to post next about my crochet projects. Hmmmm....well, I have been working on my Filet Heart Runner, even though I need to sign up for a class in Remedial Counting. As I can't show you a picture of my progress, I will simply report to you that the whole runner is 88 rows, and I have completed 17 rows. (Well really I've done about 25 rows, but all the ripping out I've had to do for mis-counting has held me back a bit!) For the advanced mathematicians among you, you will notice that there are 9 more days til Valentine's day and ideally one displays one's Valentine's pretties at least a week before the actual holiday. If we split the difference and give me a generous 5 days to finish, that means, let's see 71 rows in 5 days....a little over 14 rows a day. Sounds like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to me. I am reminding myself however that very shortly, I'll be approaching rows that are much shorter and therefore quicker to complete. (If I don't have to rip out and re-do, as my counting skills should improve with practice.) And as for the DMC website heart runner, I am clearly going to have to break down and buy a new crochet hook, which means a trip to Michael's or JoAnn's or somewheres....not nearby. Walmart re-modeled the store in my town last year and decimated the fabric and crafts section. Waaaah. I can't believe they didn't check with me first.
Speaking of a trip to a store for additional goods. This post was originally going to ignore crochet and delve into the minutiae of my trying to do a simple task on my embroidery project. As you may recall, my first obstacle was that I hid the kit from myself. Well, as it turns out I did a great job of hiding it by putting it in plain sight exactly where I thought I had put it. Apparently, Friday night-weary is not the right frame-of-mind to get a new craft project underway. So, last Saturday, I got started, and was fairly quickly stymied by another obstacle. But that will be my next post, when I can illustrate with pictures!
Now, speaking of embroidery and Valentine's Day, (we were, weren't we?), get on over to Mary Corbet's website and see the lovely "Heart O'Flowers" design she is offering free of charge, and let me know if you are going to do something with it.
Finally, re: knitting: I am just about to decrease at the toe of the second sock of Sovann's Winter Warmers, and I have added the blue and then finally the brown on Ian's Dapper Chap Vest. I'm looking forward to getting the zig-zaggy stripe done and back to chugging along with the main color. Pictures of all this stitchy productivity coming soon.
Have a good w/e everyone. Super Bowl? Or "Emma" on PBS?