Thursday, November 27, 2008

Do you love gadgets?

As a knitter, I love my gadgets. My favorites include a wooden ball winder, hen and egg measuring tape, various knitting bags and baskets, and lots of stitch markers (knitting "jewelry"). I've now discovered a little higher-tech gadget that just about anyone would love (hint, hint, Christmas is coming!)

A friend told me about the Flip Video Mino Series Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Black), and I had to investigate. Within a few days, this tiny gadget became my early Christmas present from Paul (I wanted to have it when the family came for Thanksgiving). It's a video camera that holds up to an hour of video, hooks directly into my laptop via USB, and it's smaller than my iPhone, fitting easily into my pocket.

The Mino is truly easy enough for a 7 year old to use, and would make a great gift for kids, parents, teens, anybody! It includes some simple-to-use movie software for editing, and is great for bloggers as it has a feature for uploading to the web. For $159 via Amazon, the Mino is hard to beat!
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Loving a Rainy Day and Monday!

Back in the summer I was having some down times and wrote about one particular yucky Monday. Well, it's really rainy outside now, but I am content to have some quiet time to nest, knit, blog, cook, and plan out the week. With Mirian home several consecutive days with a cough and the kid's break coming up, I am coveting the little bit of quiet time that I have this morning.
Above is another Noro stripe scarf that I'm finishing up for a Christmas present, this one with Seldom Scene Farm rose grey alpaca and Noro color 2023. I love the combination of natural alpaca with the Noro, and it is incredibly soft after washing and blocking. If you're a regular knitting blog reader, you may be getting sick of seeing pictures of this scarf, but like the Yarn Harlot, I'm not tired of knitting them yet! The easy pattern allows lots of time for my own thoughts, or listening to music or podcasts- I love mindless knitting this time of year when so much of my time is filled with multi-tasking! We're excited to have lots of family and a few friends coming in for Thanksgiving! I spent a lot of time yesterday chopping vegetables for various dishes and making a breakfast casserole for the morning after. Hopefully, my last grocery stop is behind me and I'm completely stocked up for the week. Now that our house is under control, I feel like I can better enjoy cooking and not stress so much about my dirty house. That is a huge accomplishment for me!

If I don't get to write again, I wish you all a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Carmel Apple Drinks... Yum!

Yesterday, Marti, MB and I rode and we were so glad to finally get together that we didn't mind the cold a bit. The horses were very fresh, and it was great to see the woods with most of the leaves off. The water is especially pretty along "the river trail" right now, and the cliffs are readily visible. I love riding in the fall! We stopped at our customary fire ring for lunch, and Marti shared her favorite fall drink with us. It is absolutely the BEST! The horses all got a little taste of the whipped cream, though we didn't share the bourbon with them as we wanted them to keep their wits about themselves for the remainder of the ride!

Marti's Caramel Apple Drinks
Hot mug of apple cider

1 caramel (Marti had homemade!), drop in the bottom
1 shot of bourbon (optional, of course)

Whipping cream for top
Enjoy on a cold day!

While we were lunching, we heard a strange croaking noise of birds overhead. They were initially very difficult to see due to their high altitude, but a flock of sandhill cranes soared directly above us for a while, circling around the thermals which were perhaps rising above the river. It honestly looked like they were forming our intials to say hello..... really! I read a little about them, and learned that they mate for life and live around 25 years. We are precisely on a migratory route of cranes that fly from Lake Michigan in Northern Indiana to Florida for the winter- sounds like a plan!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love and Poetry

Last month, I came across the following Wendell Berry poem in Oprah Magazine, of all places! I adore this world-renowned and prolific Kentucky writer, and was thrilled to attend a poetry reading and book signing that he did at Transylvania University a few weeks ago. Wendell Berry is the author of one of my favorite Book Club books, The Memory of Old Jack, and I look forward to working my way through many more of his writings.

Before I even saw who the author of the poem was, I thought immediately of my sweet hubby and I living in our tiny cabin when we first got married, 19 years ago today! When Paul's parents saw the farm for the first time, his mom exclaimed, "You'll never end up with a woman here- you'll be a lonely old hermit!" When I drew the picture above and gave it to Paul on his birthday, I didn’t yet know that exactly a year later we would be newlyweds and I’d be moving in to the cabin with him.

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we were first joined in our little house by the river
long ago, except now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves.

Wendell Berry, from “The Blue Robe”
Most of my life’s highlights have occurred since our marriage began, too many to cite here, and I now know that the best thing that ever happened to me was meeting and marrying Paul! We have had some great times and challenges as well.... Perhaps the fun has just begun…. I have a feeling that there will be many more adventures in our marriage and in our newer home by the river. Happy Anniversary! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 17, 2008

City Boys and Country Boys

We really enjoy having company, and this weekend was especially fun with my brother Greg, nephew Zach, and their friend Joe coming for deer hunting. I know, some may be appalled (and there was a time that as a City Girl, I would have been, too) but we have a huge overpopulation of white-tailed deer here and control is very necessary or we'll soon have a lot of starving creatures. Much of our farm is wooded and left wild so there's great habitat for all wild animals and Paul has done a lot to return much of the land to it's natural state, with native grasses and other improvements. Predators of deer like wolves and mountain lions are no longer in this area, so they multiply quickly.

Paul always likes to tease about the "city boys", but they really did hold their own. Zach got a beautiful 8 point buck within about an hour of starting, and Greg had a nice little doe the next day. Most exciting, Robert got his first deer yesterday, a large doe that he dropped with one perfect shot from 170 yards! Every scrap of meat is processed from deer taken here, and Robert's doe will be made into summer sausage, steaks, burgers, and jerky. The meat is free-range, organic, local, low-fat and humanely slaughtered- how cool is that?
When I wasn't busy feeding the guys or the alpacas or watching chick flicks in our cozy new room with Mirian, I was obsessively working on the project shown here on my other blog. Sometimes I'll put my knitting projects on this site, sometimes the other, especially if they're made of alpaca. The weather has turned quite cold and we've had snow flurries, perfect knitting weather. I'm sure grateful for alpaca socks!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Being 13

It simply isn't easy being a 13 year old girl... even with a family who loves you completely, good friends, your very own horse, a super school with nice teachers, etc. Especially when your skin color is different from your family and you don't know what you looked like as a baby or who you look like. Especially when you are still trying to learn confusing English words (we do have zillions of them), and your friends are more advanced. Especially when you've had a pretty unfair start to life and are now in a new culture that is just soooo different, even after three years.

Mirian, please know that we pray for you constantly. I also pray for myself to have patience, compassion, wisdom, gentleness, insight, optimism, and constant love for you, even when it is difficult. Why? Because you are SOOOO worthy, in our eyes and especially in God's.

Here is a quote that I came across today:

"Although the world is full of sufferering, it is also full of overcoming it"- Helen Keller

Happy birthday, my girl, and I hope it's fun. Don't worry about your promise to stay sweet even when you're a teen, we know it's hard and all we really want is for you to try to be happy, to contribute to the world, and to know that someone always loves you (God and your family).
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Felting Fun

Felting with alpaca fiber from our animals is just SOOO satisfying, and every once in a while I just get a hankering to felt (especially when I'm busy and should be doing other things!). I've had a steady demand for felted soaps and needed to make some to take to the Ohio Alpaca Show, but wanted to do even more. Since I also love to dye, I always have stashes of dyed fiber in lots of colors, and some days a particular one just sings to me. I wrap them with handspun scraps- don't they look like little presents?

Several years ago, I collected some beach rocks from the Oregon Coast. I love the smooth, cool, heavy feeling they have in my hand and knew there was a future project for them. One was particularly large, but I admired it's symmetry and as I lugged it home in my heavy suitcase, I kept telling myself that I'd be glad to have it someday.

I wrapped fiber around the rock and felted it well, then cut it open like a clam shell to make a vessel which would make a great little jewelry case. The first one is of dyed fiber, and the second is all natural colors with a fastener made of bone that I got in Alaska.
Maybe you can help me decide whether or not to put the abalone button on the dyed one (it reminds me of an abalone shell), or to use the ceramic button? If I don't sell them this weekend, look for them on my Etsy site next week!

It w
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008


My candidate did not win, but nearly everything in my life is exactly the same today as yesterday, and we always emphasize to our kids that their futures don't hinge on any president or other politician. I have been deliberately concentrating lately on thankfulness and gratitude (appropriate for this month... and anytime!) and have been reading a good book, Thanks, which shares research on happiness. The main gist of the research is that people who "count their blessings" on a regular basis are the happiest, healthiest, and most successful in life. It discusses how people have a happiness "set point" to which they gravitate despite major ups and downs, but that point can be adjusted "higher" with a thankful attitude.
Some of the things I'm most thankful for today:

* The privilege of voting. I have my country and the women of the suffrage movement to thank for that. I love voting in our tiny little friendly precinct at the fire station, and feel patriotic every time I vote there.

* A newly-elected leader that demonstrates the fact that any person of any color and background who has vision and talent and is willing to work hard can succeed in our country. Again, Obama didn't have my vote but I admire him and can only hope that he'll be our best president ever.

* The good health of my family and myself.

* Another gorgeous fall day in Kentucky.

* And, thank you God for the help in getting Mirian to the bus on time this morning- a small miracle which affects my entire schedule today!

My best hopes, prayers, and thanks are with all of those who sacrifice in order to lead our country, and I hope for the best!

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Busy, but organized!

My life has been continuing to feel less chaotic as I have gotten myself better organized, and although there are still some messy corners of my life I can honestly say that the spillover has helped me to feel more inspired and in control. Last week, I went to IKEA in Cincinnati and bought these shelves (found in the kid's section) for the studio. They fit in with the pine floors and trim beautifully, and hold tons of yarns, fibers and crafting supplies at my fingertips.

We had a super busy and enjoyable weekend. Saturday night we went to one of the funnest parties ever, at the country home of some artist friends. The weather was perfect, and we took a hike through a stunning gorge to which their home backs up. The best part of the evening was the coffee house type music that they, their friends and families shared on the makeshift stage of their back deck. We sat under a big tree full of white twinkling lights and were mesmerized by the bonfire and beautiful music of all varieties.
Yesterday, we hosted my stepson Jason, his fiancee Crystal (pictured above on a recent trip), and some of our combined families for Sunday dinner. Based on meeting Crystal's lovely family for the first time, we feel better than ever that Jason and Crystal are a great match and we are excited about their wedding next year!

Finally, I have actually been squeezing in some knitting and have a very nearly finished project to show off- a simple ribbed men's scarf (a future gift...) in some Seldom Scene Farm 100% alpaca yarn. It's a simple K2 P2 pattern with 38 stitches across. If I do it again from this yarn, I may go with 36 stitches to have slightly more length from the one skein.

While I was completing this post, I discovered that we have had a new cria! Read this post to hear more about it.
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Only in Kentucky...

We had a great Halloween! Robert dressed up for school as a weird hillbilly of some sort (Billy Bob teeth, pot belly and all) and he came home with tales of some sort of ice cream eating contest which he nearly won (though he also nearly puked it back up!).
I took Mirian out trick or treating, and she was a sorceress. Since we live out in the country and there are only a few houses on our entire road, we always go to town. The Kentucky State Police Headquarters had a nice drive-through trick-or-treat activity going on, and then we headed down to the state capitol.

Likely only in Kentucky can you go trick or treating at the Governor's Mansion and get your candy straight from the governor! Mirian was thrilled to meet Gov. Steve Beshear, and came home telling everyone that she got her candy straight from the President! The decorations outside the Mansion were gorgeous, as were they in the surrounding older neighborhood.
(Sorry for the grainy photos, they're from my phone). Pin It Now!