Monday, July 26, 2010

hunger pains and headbands

I really do enjoy writing, but my timing is always really bad.  I usually end up posting in the morning when I should be doing other useful things like getting breakfast ready for my children.   Mr. Ninja is pretty tenacious about reminding me that he is hungry.  Consequently, he usually gets oats and raw milk  (he really does prefer this breakfast, anyways).  I guess the hardest part about watching my children grow up is knowing when to let go and let them handle things on their own (like oats and milk) or insist on the "good mother" breakfast- the one that requires at least thirty minutes to put together (waffles, muffins, or pancakes).
Thank goodness for justification and Sunday mornings.

Now that I've got that off my chest.... a while ago, I happened to come across this headband pattern that is a quick knit which brings instant gratification in under three hours.  It is wide and does a great job of covering the ears, so if you don't want to be using a hat this winter, you might want to whip up one of these babies instead.

Here are the two headbands I just recently finished.

I used Malagrigo yarn in black forest for the first two photos and Manos del Uruguay for the second headband- both chunky weight.  The pattern itself is really very simple and there are other options to choose for the tie.  I chose to use a button, but I-cords can be made or you can use elastic as well.  


PS.  A big thank you goes to Mr. Ninja for modeling this very "girlie" headband for me.  I think he is still too little for his "manly pride" to be too traumatized from the experience (which explains why my eight year old wouldn't even consider the request).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

here come the bees

Over the years, I have been able to come across so many neat and handy home remedies for those little things that ail us.  For instance, did you know that anise tea is wonderful at getting rid of a persistent cough (coriander seed tea works just as well and can be found in just about everyone's spice rack).  Or that fish oil is good at calming the nerves and getting rid of a fever blister?  My problem is that by the time one of these little remedies are needed,  I've usually forgotten all about them because of the lapse in time.

Luckily today was NOT one of those days.

I was in the kitchen finishing up the lunch dishes when Mr. Cook came screaming into the house doing the hockey pokey dance.  Sure enough, he had been walking outside in our clover rich lawn and just so happened to step on a bee.  Well, you know how bees take to being stepped on.  In retaliation, it stung the heck out of his foot (giving up her life in the process) and left me with a problem that I had to respond to with break neck speed and control.  Where did I go?

Not to the medicine cabinet or refrigerator for that box of baking soda. Nope.  This time I headed right back out to the lawn.

You read it.  Our weed infested lawn had the perfect anecdote.  Plantain. This broad leaf weed usually grows wherever it can find a piece of dirt to plant itself.  Notice it between the clover?

Here's what I did.  I grabbed a few of the leaves, brought them inside and washed them.  Then stuck them into my mouth and started to chew them up (don't get too grossed out here... it actually doesn't taste that bad). Then I had Mr. Cook sit down while I took out the chewed up glob of plantain and put it directly onto the bee sting site.

Mr. Cook didn't seem to mind that I was putting this concoction on his foot (either he trusts me enough or he was in too much pain to care).  I sat there trying to calm him down, wipe away his tears, reassure him that he was going to survive, and in five minutes flat (yes, I timed it) the tears stopped.  

It was all over.  Good to go.  Ready to play once again.

Of course I didn't come up with this little bit of knowledge all by myself.  A few months ago, I just so happened to see another father use this very same technique on his own crying son and amazingly, it had the exact results.  

So there you have it.  Another reason not to get out the weed in feed come fall.  Well, maybe if I had, there wouldn't be the clover- which draws the bees in the first place. 

Ah, well.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

field trip to the Mannings

Mr. Hero has his name for a good reason.  Not only is he our family's hero in so many ways, he is also a computer GENIUS!  Craft Queen and little Birdie decided to take me on a field trip to see this fabulous store in East Berlin called the Mannings.  Knowing that there would be some amazing pictures to shoot, I brought my camera along.  Sure enough I wasn't disappointed.  However,  after taking about ten shots, I noticed that my disgruntled camera displayed that only two pictures had been taken.  I didn't know what to think about this little pickle but just knew that Mr. Hero would know what to do.

After eighteen hours of data recovery, Mr. Hero was able to retrieve the photos so that I could share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them and better yet, I  hope you have the chance to take a little field trip of your own.  The Mannings is definitely worth the trip.

Loved this little sign.  And they really are true to their word.

Yes, they have a barn.  This place is located in the country with a tractor, geese, kittens and all.

Lots of designer yarn.  Including Debbie Bliss and my favorite Malabrigo yarn.  This day we happened to fancy some yarn by Manos del Uruguay.

The Mannings has classes which involve all aspects of knitting.  Here is a gentleman teaching some lovely ladies how to weave on the loom.
Craft Queen and Birdie were getting a closer look.

Weaving students busy at work.

Birdie looking at the "Lady Bug"
spinning wheel.

Another loom for sale

Did I mention that the Mannings is child conscientious as well?  Birdie
was able to play with the retro toys from the 70's while mom and I took turns
shopping in our ultimate wool happiness.

After we finished our shopping we took a walk along the grounds.  The lake is located right across the street from the store and the flower garden has several picnic tables nearby if you decide to bring a lunch.

Since we didn't bring a picnic lunch this time, we decided to try out
East Berlin's HOG WILD restaurant.  Famous for their saucy pulled
pork BBQ.  Yum.

There you have it.  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  Now I need to be off and get back to the headband project that's under construction using the Manos del Uruguay hand spun, kettle dyed yarn.  What a fun way to spend the day.  If you have a mind to, go for a visit.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, July 9, 2010

hat for mr. reporter: part two

Knitting and patience go hand in hand. I am pretty sure that every project I have worked on had to be ripped out at some point along the way.  The beautiful projects found in the knitting books and magazines would never materialize if the authors put disclaimers underneath their photos stating: 

Warning: this project will require at least one hundred hours of work and there is no guarantee that the end result will look like the above photo.  May cause temporary insanity.  Knit at your own risk. 

Maybe this is why I haven't ventured into the sweater arena yet.  I don't know if I'm up for it. Hats, however, are manageable.  They can relatively be finished in under a week.  And if you're lucky to find a hat pattern that calls for a size 7 needle or above with big chunky yarn, the project can be finished in under three hours (like those wondrous Thorpes I'd mentioned earlier).  

I guess the secret to knitting is that you've got to enjoy the journey.  Love the click, click of the needles.  

Love the rhythm as the yarn gets passed back and forth from one loop to the next.

Love the challenge to keep working until you get your project right and bring that smile to your loved one's face.

Well, that smile isn't really all that important.  It feels good, sure, but the smile isn't mandatory.

For me, it's really about the whole cooperative creation process and my part in it.  Someone in Uruguay had to care for the sheep to get the wool.  Another person had to enjoy the process of spinning to turn  the wool into yarn, and then someone else had to love experimenting with the dyes to get this Black Forest dye lot.  Eat. Sleep. Knit (the yarn store from which this yarn was purchased) had to take the risk of opening a yarn store in a finicky market and then take another risk in choosing those colors which they believed would sell and keep them in business. This is where I entered the process, purchased the yarn and knitted up a hat. That's a lot of people involved in one little hat. 

And this is one little post on one little blog.  You could read a multitude of books about the whole philosophy behind why people knit.  If you're interested, I'd recommend anything from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot.   Or try reading this by Susan Lydon.  They offer reassurance to the unsure hands of the daring knitter who would venture to enter those "hundred hours" of uncertainty.  So when will I take the plunge into the yarn filled sea of frustration and insanity?

After I finish my second sock. 


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

tips for tarnish

     I really hate using chemicals.  I don't like them on my food, on my flowers, or in my house.  I even try to limit my use of bleach ( which has been really hard for me to do...if you have any tips on stain/mold removal sans bleach, please let me know).   I think my disdain for them started when I was single and going to college back in my pre-computer days.  I had a good friend of mine that had such a horrible sensitivity to chemicals that she couldn't even walk down the laundry detergent aisle in the grocery store without having a reaction.  At this time, she also suffered from chronic fatigue and depression.  Amazingly, she was able to get well by using a product called OregaMax ( which you can find in your local health food store).   I am not sure about the particulars of her regime, but I know the anti-fungal properties found in OregaMax were what she needed to heal her body of all her symptoms.  
     So, my friend recovered and I got married and had a husband, children, and house to keep.  I still needed to find a good cleaning product that was gentle enough not to hurt me or our little family and yet be strong enough to get the marker scribbles off the walls.   Somehow I found it.  Maybe by accident?  I don't know.  This wonder product that took off the marker graffiti as well as the bath scum in the bathtub was right inside my refrigerator.  And it was cheap.  Real cheap.  Guessed it already?  Ah, the miracle of Baking Soda ( it truly is miraculous.  It saved my artist son from a premature death).   
     Recently, as I was doing some deep cleaning around the house, I came across some of my funky looking sterling silver that I picked up at an antique store a few years back.  I had purchased it with the tarnish already on the silver and I didn't have a mind to take it off.   I had just finished using the baking soda to remove the sharpie marker stains from our dining room table when I remembered a chemistry trick that also used baking soda to remove tarnish from (not so) sterling silver.  This led me to think that maybe my funky, tarnished, silverware might actually look better all cleaned  up.  Sure enough, it did.  And I thought I might pass this little trick on to you.
     This works great for those days when the kiddos are complaining about being bored or when you really do have the time to clean up the silver. 
                   Place a piece of aluminum foil shiny side up on a cookie tray or pan.     

                  Sprinkle baking soda onto the silver and then pour boiling water on top.  

Let the submerged silver sit for about thirty minutes.  

                                                      And then you're done.                                                              

You can check out why this process works here.

Disclaimer:  The watermelon spoon was really tarnished and I wasn't able to get all of it off. However, after the thirty minute waiting period, I was surprisingly able to rub off a lot of the tarnish  with a dry towel.  In this case, it really doesn't matter since I'm only using these pieces for decor.  Yet if you have some good silver with minimal tarnish that needs to be removed, this trick will work every time.