Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's been a whirlwind of a few days! I hosted Thanksgiving this year and cooked it all! There were only 8 of us. It was a lot of work but yummy! I like cooking for the holidays! I took just a few pictures.....
Here is my mom trying to convince J to get a hair cut. She was not successful. He certainly loves his grandma though! And she just loves teasing both my boys!
Here's Dad with Cody and Kenzie.
Then Friday, I was at Best Buy at 4:45 am to pick up a few things. J works there but he wasn't able to hold anything for family. Very much against the rules. I had to work a late shift (11-8). Saturday was spent shopping at Olde Green Cupboard and Joanns and a visit to the library. Then errands and a late lunch. It was almost 4 when I got home. G was at the FSU/UF game and the kids were working so it was just me and the pups for most of the evening. I finished up a book I was reading and then started on my quilting homework for class on Monday. After working hours today as well, here is where I'm at:
This is a quilt called Down the Road. I have one panel completed, another almost completed and the last 2 ready to cut the strips. It was a lot of work and I'm totally pooped. After sitting at my dining room table for most of the day, my back is killing me. I totally understand the need for the correct height table and chair when sewing/quilting. I certainly do not have it. Even regular breaks didn't help much. In between, I cleaned the kitchen, unloaded the diswasher, put away groceries, and cooked dinner for Thursday and popped it in the freezer. I also spent some time moving some books around and reorganizing a bit.

The good news is that I'm getting better at lining up those pesky corners (I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that!). Part of what has taken me so long is taking the extra time to pin before sewing. It takes a lot of time but it's so worth it. They all don't line up perfectly but it's such an improvement over my first quilt!
In knitting news, I cast on a couple of weeks ago for a pair of fingerless mitts tha have a cable on them. My first time doing cables and not so bad! They're in a black yarn though and it is a booger to photograph. Anyone have any tips on photographing black yarn? I also finally bought the buttons for the 2 sweaters for my neices. I might get to that soon. And I finally finished one of G's socks and cast on for the 2nd one. I'm almost to the heel on it! Might finished those this year! G really wants to be able to wear them. It's nice to know they're appreciated!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brown N Serve.....Later

I have a tradition in my family that I like to make home made rolls for Thanksgiving lunch. I have another tradition that I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen at Thanksgiving so I do as much as I can ahead of time. I found a recipe years ago that told you how to make brown and serve know the kind you pop in the freezer and when you need them you pop them in the oven. Simple, huh? This isn't that recipe but I use that same theory. That way we can have home made bread on a holiday but I won't be in the kitchen all day.
I'm fond of this shape of roll. Reminds me of the ones my mom used to make. So here's my rolls after they've risen:
And just after popping them in the oven:
The trick to this is to fully cook the rolls but take them out after they just start to turn brown. Here are mine. I made 2 dozen - okay...only 23 are left but who's counting?

And the bonus is your house gets to smell like that warm yeasty bread goodness TWICE!

Here is a picture of my pup Cody. He absolutely hates to have his picture taken. He's kind of camera shy (actually the red light on the camera scares him as he wasn't properly raised to be a camera ham) but he actually let me take this picture without bolting. He loves to sit on the back of our couch this way. He had his head on the couch with his little pink tongue hanging out when I ruined his evening with the camera. Not the most flattering picture but with him you have to be happy with whatever you can get.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Love Mail!

On the 16th I won a 100th Post Give Away on Chris's blog "Greetings From the Shady Grove". Friday, my box arrived! I knew what it was but simply didn't have time to open it. I'd just gotten back from my knit group and had to cut muslin in preparation for a Free Motion Quilting Class in Orlando that I took on Saturday. So I opened the package a few minutes ago....
Chris hand dye's fabrics. When I saw this stack of greens and blues on her Etsy site, I loved them! I was expecting the fabrics to be the prize, aren't they fantastic?!
What I wasn't expecting and was truly surprised to see was this gorgeous stained glass snowflake which Chris also made! I live in Florida....this is as close as I'm going to get to snow here. It is STUNNING! Even J, the typical aloof teenager, said it was "cool"! I can't wait to put this baby on my Christmas tree! She is an amazing artist!
Chris is from Wisconsin and sent a really cute postcard of cows too! Chris, thank you so much! I love, love, love it all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Class on How to Dye Yarn - Part 2

In my first post about my class on how to dye yarn, I showed you photos of the yarn in the crockpots soaking up the dye. Today's post is all about the results! Here are the 6 yarns I came home with after they dried. The skeins 2nd, 4th and 5th from the left were skeins we over dyed - which was a really fun process!
This picture below is of some of Sugarbees yarn. The photo is to illustrate the yarn before and after reskiening so you can see the difference. The photos of my finished yarn above are before reskiening. I thought I'd taken pictures of the reskiened yarn but I haven't but I'll post pictures after I've done that. Knowing relatively little about yarn, I wasn't aware how different it would look and thought maybe some of you out there might not as well. The photo below is the SAME colorway. Just reskiened on a different scale so the color variations line up a bit differently. Gorgeous either way! Sugarbee is SO talented (and I can't believe I didn't buy that yarn as I have the perfect outfit already to knit something up with it)!

The 2 photos below are the 2nd and 4th skeins before we overdyed them. We overdyed one skein with a pumpkin color and the other with a burgandy color. I can't remember which before picture ended up as which after picture but you get the idea! Sugarbee dyed the yarns she is holding below.

I'm definitely going to continue experimenting with yarn and the dye process. Why? Not to sell (frankly I do not have time) but for my personal use. Plus it's FUN! The year of 2008 has been about my discovering other interests besides family and work. It's been successful beyond belief. When 2008 rolled around, I wasn't knitting, I had no idea how to use anything but the simplest setting on my camera, and I certainly wasn't quilting or dyeing yarn! The part that I had not thought about was all the new friends I'd make and for that I'm extremely grateful!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2nd Quilting Class

I had the first session of my second quilting class at the Olde Green Cupboard. I had forgotten about it so I had to run back home to get my supplies and sewing machine during my lunch hour. I thought the class started NEXT week. Thankfully I'd been in the store the day before and picked out my fabric with the help of the owner, Gloria. Fabric selection is tough for me. So many choices and being new it can be a bit overwhelming. This is what Gloria and I ended up with:
We're making "Down the Road" from the book "It's a Dogs Life" by Carrie Nelson. I couldn't find a picture of the quilt to post so I'll be posting my own a long the way.
In non crafting news, this is the little guy that is totally taunting my 2 terriers. Driving them crazy. Cody has caught 2 squirrels already so I hope this guy stays safe.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vacation Haul

We visited Mountain Stitches by Susan. Her shop was smaller than the other shop we visited but she has a great selection. Lots of patterns. Susan is super nice and we spent some time talking to her and her husband. She is in the process of setting up a long arm business as well. You can tell that she really loves quilting.
G and I went to the Cherry Pit which is a lovely quilt shop. They had a great selection of fabric. I fell in love with this yellowy Moda fabric. The other fabric was from the $4 yard bin and I'll use that for practice. I've had 2 Ravelers send me a generous amount of scraps so I picked up the scrap book for inspiration. I think I'm going to practice on doll quilts for my nieces. At least that is the plan! I picked up 2 patterns - the infamous Yellow Brick Road and the Star Quartet. The Star Quartet is way beyond my abilities and will be for some time but G had been looking at it and said he really liked it. I realized I had looked at it several times too so I picked it up for future use!
The only yarn shop in the area is The Smoky Mountain Spinnery. She has some lovely spinning fibers. I don't spin and even after visiting a well stocked spinning store I don't have any interest. I'm not saying I'll never have interest but at this moment I don't see it. She also had a lovely selection of yarns and I fell in love with this Cascade Rustic. I love black and heather grays.

This is the second November we've made a trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area for vacation. Both visits we've done an excellent job of staying off the "strip" and staying away from the touristy type attractions and the outlet mall shopping. The photos above are truly all we bought other than 2 hiking trail books from the park store. I don't consider the yarn and quilt shops as tourist attractions though I'm sure they do get a lot of out of town shoppers.

The Smoky Mountain National Park is where we spend all our time other than a quick late lunch or early dinner. If you've never been there, I can't even begin to tell you how beautiful and peaceful it is here in this park. It's always so hard to leave.....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hiking While on Vacation

I promised pictures from our vacation in the Smoky Mountains and here are a few....
This is G and I at Grotto Falls.
I just can't remember the name of this trail as we actually were on pieces of 3 trails on this particular hike. Even though the fall color is past it's peak this is stunning fall color to me. We literally had a blizzard of leaves falling from the sky. Gorgeous.
One day I really hope to be able to hike quite a distance on the Appalachian Trail. This was our first day in the park. It's inconceivable to me that people hike 2000+ miles. Some all at once!
Stunning views everywhere!
Me....on the Appalachian Trail! So much fun!

I had previously posted that I was hoping to be a lot stronger in my hiking abilities this trip. I'm pleased to say that I was! We only repeated one trail that we hiked last year but I was able to shave 1 hour and 10 minutes off my time! I felt fabulous!!! Being 55 pounds lighter than last year has helped so much. Next year will be even better and I'm really looking forward to it! So far, 2 vacations are tentatively planned for 2009 where we'll be able to do some hiking!

I just wrote a big long paragraph about my weight loss that I decided to delete from this post. Let's just say that looking at pictures of oneself objectively can be a huge reality check and that I still have some work to do mentally. This trip totally rocked and I can really see improvement in my physical ability. That is what I'm going to focus on!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We're Back

We're back!!! We had a great time even though it was very cold! Here are a couple of pictures of where we stayed. More to come later!

This is a mini sock that I knit on the trip up. This picture was actually taken in the bathtub of the cabin where we stayed. It had stacked stone walls.
Is this a cute front door? A local artist made this. He actually had a shop about 5 miles from where we stayed that we passed several times. He was generally outside working on his doors.

More later!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Heading for the Mountains!

Tomorrow we're leaving for a vacation in the Smoky Mountains! We're staying in a sweet little cabin with a hot tub on the deck and 2 fireplaces. We'll spend every second our bodies can handle hiking in the Smoky Mountain National Park. We did this same trip last year during November and hope to do it each year. It's nice to see the fall color and experience the park when it's cool and not so crowded.

It's been fun to do something I never thought I'd do and I have hopes to one day spend a week or 2 hiking on the AT. I've been on Weight Watchers since January 2007 and I'm exactly 55 pounds smaller than I was for last years trip. I am hoping that the weight loss will result in my stamina being improved. Those elevation changes can be a killer for a Florida girl!

So I'll see you in a week with some pictures of G and I on the trails!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Class on How to Dye Yarn - Part 1

A month ago I took a class at Sugarbee Studios on how to dye yarn. So far, I have no interest in spinning. But dying yarn for my own purposes absolutely fascinates me! Sugarbee is a local Fiber Artist who has recently received recognition on Lime & Violet. It is a true honor to be able to take this class from her. One thing I learned is that you can make dying yarn very scientific....or not. I have enough math in my life as it is; so we chose to go with the "or not" method. After all, my interest in the fiber arts has been sparked not because I need more analytic stuff in my life but that I needed to get in touch with the creativity that I wasn't sure that I had.

Here is Sugarbee herself with some of her dyes. When the class was over, she gave me generous samples of 8 dyes so I can play around at home. She gave me everything I needed to get started except the yarn blanks and the crockpot.
For the lesson, we dyed yarn using several methods of applying the dye. For one, we put the yarn in the crockpot and then poured on dye that we had premixed with water and placed in bottles. The yarn above reminds me of an Easter Egg!

Here's the bottles ready to go!

Another method is to put the yarn in the water and then put the powdered dye into the crockpot and distribute the color gently. I actually preferred this method. The yarn above was sticking out on purpose. Later we gently pushed the white part down into the dye as we were going for a tone on tone blue color.

To me, I'd thought that getting a deeply saturated black would be difficult. Not so! This came out very black. The grey was nice and grey and the Hot Fuschia (love that name!) was also very vibrant. Later I realized that I already had a Sugarbee yarn very close to these colors so Sugarbee showed me how you can overdye yarn.

All of my yarn came out beautiful! You're going to have to wait for a 2nd post though to see the results! If you ever get a chance to take a class I would highly suggest it. It really is very forgiving, very fun, and very satisfying.

Make sure you check out Sugarbee's blog which also has a link to her Etsy shop. If you're a spinner, she also sells the most amazing batts. Like nothing I've ever seen before!

Check back soon for part 2 where I'll show the results of my class to include the yarn that we overdyed!