May 30, 2008

My DC - Week 19

This is the Walker building on 15th Street. I really like the designs over this door. They look very Art Deco to me and they've got a very different feel than most buildings in the area. The rest of the building is less exciting but the decoration over the door and the windows in the front of this building are very cool.

Right across the street is a building that I like from top to bottom. I'm talking about the building on the right with the ornate roof. I intentionally caught a bit of it's neighbor because I find the juxtaposition of the very modern and the very old to be interesting.

Here is the decoration over the entry to this building. Does it look a little bit familiar? If it does it's probably because you can see it reflected in the windows in the picture at the top of this post.

May 28, 2008

J is for...

Jake jumping!

Jake is my nephew, son of my sister Jessica. See... another J! Unfortunately, Jess doesn't jump much these days - jiggling isn't pretty. She offered to fake it but I think Jake has got it pretty well covered. He's a cutie.

As you can see, it wasn't hard to get examples of Jake jumping. It would be harder to get him to stand still. Look at the splash he makes.
... and

May 27, 2008

Just Under the Wire

Look! It's the Elfine's Socks that I started in June of 2006 and they are done, done, done. Whew! I am so relieved to have finished them before the 2 year mark. No pair of socks should take that long. Sweaters maybe but not socks.
I love these socks and look forward to wearing them because they are just wonderful. The pattern is lovely and the yarn... well what can I say about Koigu that hasn't been said before? The stuff is gorgeous and my only complaint is that I don't have any more of it in my stash. I'll have to fix that soon.
When I pulled these out of my UFO pile on April 15th, there was little more than 2 toes on a pair of circular needles. Since then, I've finished about 4 other socks (not pairs) and worked on a bunch of other stuff. What I'm saying is that these are a nice, easy knit and that it didn't require huge concentration or dedication to get them finished. It all boils down to the method of knit - 2 at a time. I hate it. It just doesn't work for me and with rare exceptions, I won't be doing it again. I crave variety so I like having two different socks on the needles at all times. That way I can go back and forth and spice things up a little bit.


Three cousins, three years, three weddings in Canada. It's been lovely but I'm happy that there will not be a repeat trip next year.

The traffic in Pennsylvania was awful due to construction. We spent hours just sitting in the car while traffic crawled alomg and it really sucked! Thank goodness for the DVD system in the car that kept the girls busy. We got home really late last night and I'm exhausted so here's the Cliff's Notes version of our weekend.

The trip took us through lots of very rural areas. We saw many working farms but we also saw many that were abandoned and looked as if the land was trying to reclaim them.
It is very scenic though. So scenic that somebody I know got caught in a speed trap while they were admiring the quaint buildings in a small town in upstate New York. Ooops!

Ottawa is also very pretty and scenic. One thing that amazed me was the abundance of lilacs that we saw everywhere. They were just lovely and the smell was delightful. Here they frame part of the Parliament building.
While my sister and I were out touring the city with our kids, hubbo and my brother in law were sampling the beer at various places near our hotel. They enjoyed it very much and we returned to notes saying that they were down in the hotel's hot tub and we should bring them more beer. As if they hadn't had enough already.

Here are my sister and I getting ready for the big event. Can you see the resemblance? DSC_0958
We did chocolate face masks before the wedding on Sunday night. It was very weird but it smelled great.

May 22, 2008

My DC - Week 18

I was walkimg down 15th Street on Wednesday afternoon, taking pictures to use for My DC when I looked up and saw this stretched out in front of me - a display of life sized cardboard cutouts representing The Forgotten Children.

Forgotten Children -- Foster Children Take a Stand
All week long this display, presented by CASA and Freddie Mac, has been growing by 850 a day. The intent was to raise awareness and support for foster children who would otherwise be mostly invisible in our society.

Here in the US we'll be celebrating the start of summer on this Memorial day weekend with family gatherings and barbques. Personally, I'll be celebrating a family wedding. It would be nice if we could all take a moment to remember the foster children and all of those less fortunate members of our society who are similarly invisible.

Have a great weekend!

May 20, 2008

Monkey the First and Then Some

DSC_0812This is such an awful picture but you get the idea. I finished the first Monkey sock on Tuesday night and I think I'm hooked. I'll get better pictures when I finish the second sock. For now I'll just say that the colors are definitely me, the yarn feels great and the pattern makes me smile. I'm pretty sure that there will be many Monkey's in my future.

I also finished a book on Tuesday - Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir. This is the book that I read as part of a school assignment with DQ. We both loved it and it was great fun reading the same book and being able to compare notes along the way although someone really needs to tell my daughter that reading isn't a competitive sport. One evening I ran out to do an errand and she hunted high and low for my copy of the book while I was out so that she could see if I was ahead of her. For the record - she finished first.

This book tells the story of Lady Jane Grey from cradle to grave through a shifting first person narrator. I think that the first person perspective is what helps the time come alive . Until I read this book I had a vague idea about the British monarchy and where everyone fit in but this really crystalized it. The book paints a clear and vivid picture of the people involved and the times they lived in. Some of it was really unsavory and I should say that this book would not be appropriate for most 12 year olds. There are parts of it that are quite rough. The impression that we both came away with is that Lady Jane Grey was a really tragic figure - as much a victim of the times in which she lived as those who used her to further their own ambitions.

Can't finish a post on a down note so instead I leave you with a selection of street art that is currently on display in Crystal City, VA. There are a series of 50 airplanes that dot the city in an exhibit they call Crystal City Takes Flight. I was there for a conference for the first part of this week and thought I'd share a few appealing examples with you. Go see them if you get a chance.

Crystal City Airplane Art

I is for...

IMG_2436Ice cream! I love the stuff in all it's smooth, creamy, glory. It was always in the freezer of my house growing up and it's still there today. Indeed, there are many reasons to love ice cream but, for me, a big one is all of the great memories associated with it and it's not just any ice cream - it's Baskin & Robbins. I'm not sure that there is any food that is associated with more happy or embarrassing memories. Oh yes, embarrassing in the extreme!

Many of my ice cream memories involve my family. One of the best is of eating ice cream on the roof of my parents big blue station wagon with my sister on the fourth of July while watching the fireworks at Roosevelt Field Mall. We were in our pjs, relaxing with our pillows and blankets. It was perfect.

IMG_2434Not all of my ice cream memories are so specific. Often, on our way home from visiting my grandparents my parents would hit a certain point in the road and turn to each other and ask "B & R?" It was supposed to be cryptic but we understood and grinned all the way. We always stopped at the same shop because it was on the way home.

Convenience is the feature that made that same B & R a favorite destination during my junior and senior year in high school. My friends and I would walk or drive down to the bagel shop and get lunch followed by a special treat next door. Good times!

So, you may be wondering if I have a favorite flavor and I do. Pink bubblegum! YUM!!!


This has been my favorite flavor for freakin' ever and my love for it led to a very embarrassing episode. It's always been a seasonal flavor so sometimes, at the end of the season, I'd go and get a tub of it and ration it out over time.
One afternoon, when I was living in a small garage apartment, I came home to find my ice cream gone, missing..... stolen! I looked high and low but there was no sign of it so I did the logical thing and called my landlord. What would you do? You'd report the theft. Right?
Well, predictably, my landlord thought I was nuts. It gets worse. I finally found the ice cream in my microwave hours later. I told you it was embarrassing.

May 18, 2008

Girl Power

DSC_0737Saturday was a banner day but soooooooo loooong. We took part in such an amazing event. It was the Daisy Dash - the culmination of the spring session of Girls On The Run. This is such a wonderful program and I'm thankful that Stinkerbelle was lucky enough to take part in it.

During the course of the program the girls learn about fitness while participating in activities designed to inspire confidence and pride in themselves. Studies have shown that between 3rd and 5th grade girls tend to reevaluate themselves and lower their expectations for themselves. The goal of this program is to counter that and show them that they can be whoever they want to be. This is Girl Power at it's very best and I strongly recommend it.

Naturally, there is a bit of running involved and even those who are less than totally fit can participate. It's wonderfully inclusive. Check out the crowds that turned out on Saturday morning. There were over 5,000 runners. Naturally, one was more important to me than the rest and here she is crossing the finish line. I felt like I would burst with pride!


After the race, my girls and I headed down to Clifton, a place I rarely get to but look at how charming it is. Dare I say... quaint.

We were there for the second big event of the day. It was the retirement party for the kindergarten teacher who taught both of my girls. She has taught in our elementary school for most of 34 years and I'm sure that there are many people who are very sorry to see her go. She is the one who caught Stinky's learning disability and we are eternally thankful to her. As you can see, my girls both love her and we wish her well.

DSC_0758That's just a sample of how our day went. Stinky played a softball game, DQ and I got our toes done and so much more. We finally returned home tired but fulfilled and found a nifty surprise.

At her party last weekend, Stinky and her friends painted birdhouses. They did a great job but i really didn't expect them to be used. I'm not sure what I thought they'd do with them. This is Stinky's and on Saturday morning we hung it in the breezeway leading to our front door. We didn't think it would be an attractive place for birds but guess what - while we were out somebody moved in. You may just be able to see a few twigs and a bit of fluff sticking out of the bottom apartment. How cool is that? We haven't met the neighbors yet but we're watching for them.

May 16, 2008

My DC - Week 17

It's National Bike to Work Day today and despite the rain, we saw many people on bicycles. It would be such a great picture except that soggy people and gray skies aren't terribly uplifting. Instead, I offer pictures taken on a sunnier day.

This is the Organization of American States.

There are great details on this building.
OAS detail
I don't know the stories behind any of it but I'm sure that there is one. I think that this looks like a treaty of some sort is being agreed to. What do you think?
OAS detail

I hope that it's sunny where you are. Have a great weekend!

May 15, 2008

Life Marches On

A while back I showed pictures of an iris that was just about to bloom. Here it is in all it's glory. It's so hard to take picture of it because of the deepness of the purple.
I think it's called Hello Darkness and it lives up to it's name with that amazingly dark color. My love for it is such that I just can't stop taking pictures of it when it's in bloom. Someday I'll get it just right but not this year. The recent rains here were so forceful that they toppled my lovely iris.
While surveying the poor, injured iris I spied something to look forward to. Lily buds! Isn't the shape of it interesting? I have a whole bunch of Stella D'Oro lilies and every year they come back a little stronger han the year before. I love that.
CWatching the progression of stuff blooming in my yard is entertaining but it's also a vivid reminder of how time marches on. It seems like all of the stuff that seemed so far off in the future is suddenly imminent. There are trips to plan, summer camps to sign up for and big family events to prepare for. It all seems a little overwhelming at times so I try to focus on one thing at a time but right now that strategy is failing me.
Breathe in... breathe out. Breathe in... breathe out.

DSC_0478I'm wearing yet another recently finished pair of socks today. These are the Woven Cable Eyelet Socks by Technoknitter and they were the sock offered for the optional round of SM3.

The yarn I used was Cherry Tree Hill that had been marinating in my stash longer than I can remember. I love this stuff and I think I need more. It was just so nice to knit with. The colors are reminiscent of fall leaves.

The sock has cables and eyelets all woven together in such a way that it reminds me of a trellis or the blinding white lattice my neighbor just installed along his carport. Knitting these socks reminded me of how much I love cables - especially now that I can do them so easily without a cable needle. Yarn manipulation at it's best.

This sock used a princess sole and I think that's the one thing I'm just not a fan of. I'm happy I tried it and it works just fine but it's not me at all. it adds nothing to my sock enjoyment and it was tedious to knit the purled soles.

Gotta go now because I've got homework to do. I thought I'd left homework assignments behind long ago but apparently not. DQ came home with an assignment while Carole was visiting. She and a parent (meaning me) had to choose a book that had not yet been made into a movie, read it, and answer questions about it. Thankfully, Carole is, as a good friend (Happy Birthday F!) put it, a real librarian and she suggested that we read Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. The library had 2 copies on the shelf so DQ and I handed in the first part of the assignment where we explain what we chose and why and now we're reading the book. So far so good - we got a check plus on part one. Nice to see that I still have it.

May 13, 2008

Sock Renaissance

According to my gallery for 2007, I completed 23 projects and only 2 of them were socks. Kind of ironic that the year I started Sock Madness was a year that I could barely bring myself to knit any socks at all. In fact, the two pairs that I did knit were both for swaps.

This year is off to a much faster start. I've already finished 13 projects and 7 of them are socks. It's the weirdest thing because I just can't seem to stop. Even more bizarre is the fact that the 2 socks that are providing such amusing and quick knits right now are socks that I couldn't get into at all in the past.

The orange sock is the second from my pair of Elfine's Socks. You can't see it in the picture but I just turned the heel on this sock and I'm swiftly working my way up the leg. I can say with certainty that this pair of socks will be finished by week's end which means the will be done just shy of the 2 year mark. The yarn is Koigu and the pattern is lovely and easy so I can only blame the lack of love for these socks in the past on my dislike of knitting 2 socks at a time. That's gotta be it.

The green sock is a Monkey Sock and it's my second try with this pattern. The first time I started it was in May of last year. I wanted to love it but I couldn't and after a few months I gave up and frogged it. I blamed it on the yarn, Plymouth Sockotta, which was a cotton/wool blend but the yarn I'm using this time is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton Maya which is also a cotton/wool blend. Maybe it's the color. The other yarn was a stripey red and yellow while this is green with a little blue.

The more I think about it, the more I think it may come down to that indefineable something. Mojo! The last time I tried each of these patterns I couldn't feel the patterns at all. I knew the stitches but they just wouldn't sink in to my head so I never got any rhythm going. Now I am working on them and my fingers just seem to know what to do. The pattern feels intuitive and it's incredibly easy for me to read. The socks feel so good on my needles that it's hard to imagine a time without them.

Whatever the reason for my sock renaissance I'm really enjoying it. Who knows - I may even make a dent in my sock yarn stash. I doubt it though.

Godmother's Socks

DSC_0665These are the socks that I'm wearing today. The yarn is STR in Cobalt Bloom and the pattern is Godmother's Socks by Deborah Swift. They were the 6th pattern in Sock Madness 2. I love these socks and that's kind of weird because I'm not a big fan of cuffed socks. Or pink for that matter.

One of the goals I had for Sock Madness was to provide a venue for newer designers to get exposure and this has worked very well but it usually means that many of the patterns we test need a little polish. They're great patterns but sometimes they need a little clarification. This pattern is different.

DSC_0663My love for these socks is almost totally due to the joy at following a pattern which is so perfectly written that I couldn't help but ooh and aah over it as I knit. The best word to describe it is meticulous. There are check points and references and even links to videos the designer made to accompany the tricky parts. These are all helpful because the cuff is knit right on to the sock and getting it started is a little tricky.

Look at the cuff of this sock. Look at how beautifully finished the edge is. Deborah worked this cuff out so wonderfully that when the sock is completed the only thing a knitter needs to do is graft the edges of the cuff together and weave in the ends. I'm sure I'm not doing it justice but the SM2 knitters have. They started a separate thread on the Ravelry group just to talk about the cuff and how well it works out. That's love!


May 10, 2008

Your Bathroom Smells Gooooood!

This weekend Daria celebrated her birthday with a few friends. Can you tell what the theme was this year?


I spent all day Saturday preparing. There were Lego shaped ice cubes to make, goody bags to assemble, and games to prepare, but most of the day was dedicated to creating a Lego shaped cake. The cake wasn't too difficult but it was labor intensive in part because it was a multi-layer cake. I'd never tried 4 layers before. The other challenge with this cake was the decoration. It was such a pain icing each of the studs on top of the cake. It sounded so easy but those studs made me crazy.

DSC_0690This was Stinkerbelle's first sleep over party. I was worried that many of her friends might not be ready to stay overnight so we sent the invitations with an option to leave at 9pm or 10am. Only a few committed to staying overnight but, as the evening wore on, they were all having such fun that most of the girls changed their minds. At 9pm instead of picking the girls up, most of the parents came to drop off pillows and pajamas. Stink was thrilled.

It was a fun night. The girls painted birdhouses, ate, played games, giggled and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning. It was all as it should be.

DSC_0710There was just one weird note to the evening. These girls kept running to our bathroom to sniff it. We use an air freshener in there but it's store bought and not terribly unusual. I think the current scent is strawberry. The girls loved it and every time they went in there they came out and said the same thing "Your bathroom smells great!" It was so funny but there are certainly worse things that could be said about a bathroom so I'm not complaining.

When all was said and done, the girls left and we all napped most of Sunday. We were exhausted!

May 9, 2008

My DC - Week 16

Last week at this time it was sunny and warm and I was wandering the grounds of the US Capital with Carole. It was kind of a surprise when I realized that I haven't been there at all in the decade that I've lived in this area. The last time I was at the Capital I was about 9 and seeing it all for the first time with my grandparents. It's no less amazing now than it was then. There is something majestic about the Capital building.
There is a lot to notice in the area around the Capital too. This is on a low wall near where the tour bus dropped us off. It's one of those things that people probably walk by all the time without noticing. It's so crisp and the relief is lovely.
I saw this statue and loved it. I'm sure the front of it is beautiful but I can't recall looking at it. The way the one figure is leaning into the other with it's arm draped over the shoulder just screams comfort and love.

Have a great weekend!

May 8, 2008

Zombies on the Run

Stink-o had a great birthday yesterday and it appears that this will be one of those week long birthday's because there are quite a few gifts still on their way. Although the suspense is just killing her I think that drawing out the celebration of all things Daria is probably not making her all that sad.

DSC_0602My sister also had a nice birthday. I'm proud to say that my gift for her even arrived on time. Yay! I had originally started these Zombies for me but the girls insisted that their aunt would love them more than the socks I initially intended to send her so I reluctantly parted with them. They should've been done in plenty of time to be washed and properly finished but stuff got in the way. I also had no time for a proper photo shoot with them. As it was I was lucky to get these in the mail on time so I didn't weave in the ends at the cuffs. When I spoke to Jess last night and promised to fix the socks when I see her Memorial Day weekend she said "fix what?" She didn't even notice the long hanging string. She's lucky that I love her. Ya know what I mean?

Anyway, I really enjoyed making these socks. The Zombie pattern is super easy to remember and it's free on Ravelry. I usually do my socks toe-up with a short row heel so I had forgotten how much I love the eye of partridge heel flap. It really shows off variegated yarns well. Speaking of the yarn - I loved this one (which is why I chose it for ME!). I'll definitely be getting more from Storm Moon Knits. The colors are so deep and rich. There is plenty left over from these socks so I'll have to think of a good use for it.

Are you all watching AI this season. We have and I'm surprised to see the final 3. I never expected Syesha to get this far and I'm not sure that she did either. Another surprise to me is David Cooke. I like him way better than I expected to and much more than the other David. I know that this probably isn't a popular opinion but I really don't care for him at all and I think he'd make a horrible Idol. Don't get me wrong, he's got a great voice. He's just such a simpering, insipid bit of vanilla pudding. Yuck. Maybe he's just too young or maybe he needs a personality boost. I just can't stand him much the way I can't stand John Mayer. They can both go sing sappy songs together.

May 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Stinkerbelle and ECL


DSC_0646Look what I did last night. After attending DQ's chorus concert at her school I went home and baked, and baked, and baked. Birthday cupcakes are a big deal in my house and I try to come up with a different design for each batch. Apparently they are a huge hit at school and kids tell my girls that they look forward to them every year. Anyway, I believe that the final tally this year was 64 and all but 4 of them were decorated.

The occasion for these cupcakes is Stinkerbelle's 9th birthday and she's going to bring most of these to school to share with her classmates. The rest of them will be a yummy birthday snack for her team after their game tonight.

DSC_0588Daria is an amazing kid. She works so hard in school and has a natural curiosity about the world around her. She is strong and confident although she's got a wonderful soft side too. She is empathetic and loving and still one of the best snugglers in the world.

Daria is the best helper there is and loves to go with me wherever I go. Here she is at the FDR Memorial last Sunday. She decided to join Carole and I for some last minute touring. She loves to accompany me to do the grocery shopping and if I am cooking she is always at the counter helping stir things and peel things. My Stinky wants to be a pastry chef when she grows up but she is multi-talented - building with Legos, playing softball, drawing and playing a very aggressive game of chess.

Happy Birthday Daria! I love you more than words can say.

I'm sending a virtual cupcake to my sister Jess (AKA Erica Chopped Liver) too. Mwah!