Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ending the Year with a post..

I know I've been absolutely awful about keeping up my blog. If you search my blog, you will read that I say over and over and over that my life just isn't exciting or has much happening that is blog-worthy. I'll make a public resolution that in 2009 that I will blog AT LEAST once per week and NO less (maybe more than once per week) but, at least once per week.

Thru the months of Nov and Dec up until Christmas, I was doing a bunch of stealth knitting for Christmas gifts..

Here's what I ended up with: (picture heavy from here down)

I made 2 pair for my SIL because I couldn't decide which one I liked better for her, wrapped them and let her choose - She chose this first pair called "Tron".

This was the other pair. These did not fit her as nice - seemed a little big for her. But, I liked the colorway.

These were little sport socks for my Niece. Seems like the kids like the little ankle socks these days. Bree even wears hers in her cowboy boots!

I made this illusion scarf for Bree's French Horn Student Teacher (She's a Sophomore) and her room is hot pink and black. It's a scarf that if you hold it up looks like a striped scarf but then when you look at it again, it has the hidden picture of music notes. (kind of like a hologram). Anyway, Kelsey loved it.

This is another illusion scarf only a horse head - these are really cool to do! I see more in my future!

These are fingerless gloves that has the flap to come up over the top which changes them from gloves to mittens for my Brother - done in a camo sock yarn (called Broadstreet mittens). I hated this pattern. It sucked - pure and simple as far as directions go. I made a few modifications - as in making a buttonhole for the thumb as what good is having 4 fingers popping out, but not being able to use your thumb?

This is Mom's Vest (looks better on her - which I'm hoping when she takes it on Jan 7th to show off to her friends, that she'll have them take a picture). I originally was going to make Mom something else, but it didn't 'hit' me right, so the Wed before Christmas I decided to knit her a vest. So, Thursday, out I went, found a pattern and then yarn and started that evening. It was done and wrapped (except the shoulder seams, which I waited on to insure it would fit). It was then completely finished and she took it home with her. There are no buttons but where the V-Neck meets, the pattern shows it being held closed with a pin. This is perfect for Mom because she has a vast collection of pins and can use them! It's lightweight enough for their temperatures in TN, yet, warm enough to even wear as a light jacket and the blue tweed colorway will go with anything!

These are for my friend who is helping me rehab my horse, Jessie. Her feet are always cold (I made her a pair of Alpaca socks earlier this year and she LOVES them and wears them all the time - I probably need to knit her a 2nd pair!)

So, It's not like I haven't been doing anything. Just things I couldn't necessarily post about.

But, more to come in the future!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Sound Of Music...

Our house is filled with the 'sounds of music' - no not Julie Andrews - instead it is the sounds of Bree learning to play the French Horn.

I played French Horn in grade school and high school and when she was going thru the various instruments in band to choose - I kept telling her - choose what you like, not because I played it.. But, in the end she liked the French Horn the best.

And it fits her. It suits her. And she is doing awesome with it!

Our local high school has a program for their better upper level band students whereby they take a course and have to pass a test on 'teaching beginners' how to play and the things to teach, how to teach and the like.

Bree takes lessons from Kelsey. She has had 4 lessons and Kelsey thinks she's doing fantastic. Kelsey's Mom, Shelley plays piano and we sit and have coffee and chat during Bree's lessons at their house on Sunday mornings. Shelley comments often on how Bree's 'sound' is getting so much better and how she can tune to Kelsey playing her horn.

Kelsey is a great role model for Bree. Besides being one of the youngest band members to make the senior symphonic orchestra, she is on the swim team and the high school has over 3,000 students - so competition is quite stiff and she's in 'honor' classes and just a great, great kid.

Bree always practices before going to her lesson even though its 'early' because she wants Kelsey to see how good she's doing and she always seems to be uplifted when she's done.

They also have a cool cat named 'Stretch' because he lays on his side and stretches completely out and pulls himself around in circles with his front legs - like stretching across the carpeting. Bree also gets to play laser light with him and she thinks it is hysterical when he climbs the wall (literally) to try to catch the light.

They have a samoid, named Snowball, which fits him perfectly. He is such a puff ball!

Bree's first concert is December 4th - so stay tuned! (no pun intended!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's the time of year...

And I don't mean getting ready for Christmas! I mean cool enough to wear my cozy knit socks... Since we ALL know I love to knit socks...

I'm working on these:

The yarn is called Brown Sugar and it is such an accurate description of the color!

The pattern is another from Cookie A (I think this is my 4th Cookie A pattern - I love her stuff!)

And in the spirit of Halloween.. I knit one of these...

These photos are my friend Lisa's - I haven't taken photos of the one I made yet.. But, as you can tell they are BATS - halloween bats and what makes them really special is that I knit the wings with Bernat's Glow in the Dark yarn - which after putting them by the light - the wings GLOW in the dark.. And they DO!!!

I hate making little critters and Lisa is just so damn good at it (see her etsy site here: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=77364 )so, I bribed her to make Bree one... Then I felt like it was a challenge so then I knit one - although Lisa did her phenom method of mattress stitching on my wings and ears for me.. LOL! I'll try to get pics tomorrow of mine (it's GREEN..)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ever Feel Like a Rat??

This is what Bill, Bree and I did on Saturday... But, unfortunately, there was no "cheese" at the end... We went to Jonamac Orchard in Malta, IL (Out by NIU)!

It is a 10 acre cornfield with 3 acres of winding paths... a couple of bridges to see where you're at.. It was fun - ALL of our feet were tired when finished - I think it took us like a hour plus to get thru the whole thing. At night, it is a "haunted" maze - and they only allow glow lights - I think that would be a blast to do (only if a bunch of high-school kids were NOT allowed in)

Our feet were already tired before we entered the maze from walking out to the orchard and picking our own apples: We picked: Jonathans, Jonagolds, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Crispins. This was Bree's first time of actually doing the "pick your own" and we had alot of fun. Reminded me of growing up and my Mom taking us! There's just nothing like a gorgeous day with your family, walking thru an orchard, popping an apple off a tree, shining it on your jeans and biting in to a fresh, juicy red delicious (my fav) apple!

From apple picking, we walked over to the 8 acre pumpkin patch - holy moley - do you know how many pumpkins (of all breeds) can grow on 8 acres - trust me ALOT! You can see the pumpkins we picked in my previous blog post - It's nice to pick them off the vine - you get such nice 'handles' on them - the ones at the farm stands don't have them!

Then, the big nasty's favorite part - the country store... He snacked on 5 berry pie (rasp, straw, rhubarb, blackberry and I don't remember the other berry) - I had peach! Then we bought 4 different kinds of handmade fudge - mint chocolate, reg chocolate, cookies and cream and peanut butter - 1/4lb of each - after the big nasty polished off an ENTIRE 1/4lb in less than an hour, Bree and I put a limit on how much he could eat - so there was some left for us! We also brought home their apple cider- oh my - awesome! and a 1/2 dozen apple donuts with cinn-sugar.. My favorite for sure!

The place was clean, neat, people really nice, no one looking over your shoulder at what apple you're eating, and a perfect fall day!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

They're Creepy and they're Kookie...

They're mysterious and spooky - they're all together "hookie"

Well, we're not the Adams Family - but, we do enjoy decorating for Halloween. Bree LOVES the scarey stuff - forget the 'cutesy' - the scarier the better, the more kids scared off by it, the better. She doesn't get 'spooked' by it - she just laughs...

Here's some pics! The front porch:

The front flowerbeds:

Over the Garage:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm so bad about taking photos...

Half the time I don't update my blog, because it is such a hassle to take photos, download them to my computer, edit them, load them into flickr or such then add them.

So, this blog post is catching up on completed knitting pieces...

First and longest back is Bree's Messenger Bag. It is a Noni pattern and made with 2 strands of Lamb's Pride Nature's Spun Wool and then felted - one strand was purple and the other mallard green. I wanted to "snaz" it up a bit but Bree wanted it just plain - oh well, a mother can dream.. haahha

It turned out really nice - the handle was a 'biatch' - because I wanted it to be sturdy and the pattern just wanted you to connect it up by the flap and I thought it would eventually rip out - so, in the vain of Tim the Tool Man Taylor.. oh, oh, oh... I knit the strap longer. Then hot glued it to the INSIDE of the bag - ALL the way around (provides extra support for the bottom and sides of the bag to stay square/rectangle-ish) and then hand stitched all the edges around the entire strap - so it should be like freaking cement! (My Dad would be proud - hahaha)

She's already used it by taking it to her friend's house to do homework together... Glad she likes it!

It needs a 'shaving' as the felting gave it a little case of the fuzzies!

And anyone who knows me knows that I ALWAYS have socks on my needles. Infact, I cannot remember a time when I didn't. They go everywhere with me, just in case, you never know, when you'll have that 5 minutes!

I picked up this new way of dyeing sock yarn - called "sock blank" - they knit a flat piece of yarn (like a tshirt if you will) and then dye it while its flat (versus a skein of yarn that's in a circle for dyeing) - then to knit it you unravel it (just like a tshirt will unravel if it is snagged) - it was fun to do! And of course, Bree snatched these socks up right off the bat! She loved the colors and wanted knee socks for winter riding - so viola' she has them.

This is what the yarn looked like in the flat and you can see when I finished one sock how the sock turned out compared to how the yarn looked when it was flat.

I wanted to start and the "other" end of the 2nd length but it does not let you as I thought the colors would match up a bit better starting at that end - but they are close - the oranges just started a bit sooner! The pattern is Ruth Greenwald's "Escalator" and it is an easy, nice knit - I love the spiral look!

They should last her a while (ok maybe 6 months they way she is growing). I am still in shock that at 10 (ok in 30 days she'll be 11) that she is wearing a women's size 7 shoe. Holey Schnikes!

And then I wanted to do something nice for my friend who has been helping me rehab Jessie's suspensory ligament injury (which we go back tomorrow for her follow-up - keep your fingers crossed). Stace has just about everything 'horsey' you could imagine and she's not a fan of doing chores in the Chicago WINTER weather...

So, I made her these Alpaca/Wool socks - using a pattern called Thermal Socks by Audrey Paquin - which is an awesome winter looking pattern - It reminds me of the thermal/waffle weave you see in long underwear or those waffle henley type shirts - nice thick and warm!

She normally wears the fat baby boots and these are high enough to work just right! Bree and Stace wear the same size- so measuring works out perfectly! The yarn is a mix of Alpaca and Wool for warmth and yet washable - while having some nylon in it for strength. They are actually pretty soft. It is called "Paca-Peds" by The Alpaca Yarn Company.

And I got to knit socks for someone instead of nding up with a drawer full for myself which always makes me happy! I enjoy making socks for people, just is a tad difficult since they are made to 'specification' and what's worse than getting a great pair of homemade socks that don't fit???

Stace is going with me tomorrow to Purdue with Jessie and since the weather has turned cool here (40's at night and only high of 60 during the day) she is getting these tomorrow in prep for what's to come.

I am now working on a great pair of socks called Mona, by Cookie A with some absolutely wonderful yarn (it's "fierce") from Zen Garden! It's in this rich brown tone on tone. My knitting friends are drooling! Don't you wish you could see a picture? Well, I forgot. And as the first sentence says - you may not see it for a while! LOL!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

They're not fuzzy and cute.. Get it?

We like the comedian, Jeff Dunham... He is a ventriloquist and has one guy named "Walter" - I think he created Walter in the image of my Dad - a grumpy crumudgeon with a big heart - LOL!

Well, one of Walter's favorite lines is "Dumbass" - said in kind of growling, raspy voice...

Walter would tell the yuppyville folks around us that they are King Dumbasses for thinking that the wild bunnies are "cute, fuzzie and adorable". If I hear "awww - look at the baby bunny" one more time, I swear I'm going to assault someone.

They need a slap to the head that these varmints are nothing but destructive, pain in the ass, disease carrying, overpopulated nuisances... And I have the damage pictures to prove it!

This is a picture of our JUST one year old cedar (not cheap) fence. These rats with fur have CHEWED the pickets to widen the gap so they can more easily access our yard.. Now, we have two domestic pet bunnies in the house - that Bree got for 4H. They can squish themselves down to basically shimmy under a door - so WHY do these rats with fur need to chew my new, expensive fence? Because they are freaking LAZY (and born in yuppyville and think they are entitled) and when I sick the 3 dogs on them they feel they might need to get thru the pickets quicker? Then stay out of my freaking yard - you dumbasses.

This is a non-chewed picket - it isn't THAT narrow that they can't get thru..

I thought about spraying the chewed area with the bunny repellant (when I would REALLY like to sit at my porch door and blast the little suckers to oblivion) but, then because I am NOT a dumbass realize if I close up that chewed picket to them, they'll chew elsewhere ruining my fence even further...

I'm going to have to get a stealth door for Bailey - she points those bunnies in a nanosecond like a radar and is as stealth like as a big cat (as in tiger, panther and the like) to "release the beast" in her to catch just one of these little varmints.

I have to figure out a way that the yuppyville (a friend refers to this town as "hoo-ville - from Horton hears a hoo - because it's just not "real" - hahah) joneses won't figure out if I'm zapping these guys with a pellet gun, pump bb gun or something of the like - I'd have to find a silencer for it - otherwise I'm sure I'd be arrested...

If you agree with me that these rats with fur are nuisances and should be dealt with, send bail money...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Man is Bree's Life...

Bree is an avid Indianapolis Colts fan! She also hates and despises the Bears.. (Weird being a chicagoland family) -

A few times a week, on his way home from work, Bill stops in the 7-11 store about a half mile from our house... In the beginning of August, they put up a display.. He thought Bree would go NUTS over the display...

So, Bill asked the guy who he sees most days when he stops and he told Bill that they would be "done" with the display at the end of the month - he took our phone number down.. Well, sure enough right around Labor Day they called.

Bill picked it up last weekend and set it in the garage and told Bree that one of her "friends" had stopped by and was out in the garage.. She about died when she saw it. She moved furniture around in her room - just to find the "right" place for it.

So, Sunday night's football game was the Indianapolis Colts vs the Chicago Bears. Now, Bree has been talking smack with my Mom (who is an avid Bears fan) all week and they even made a $3 bet... So, Sunday night she brought down her "man" and put her team spirit on and called my Mom and was talking even MORE trash as the game started..

Here's her good friend... Life size,(about 6 feet tall) mind you..

Yeup, It's Peyton Manning - the COOL thing is that if you turn it around, Eli Manning is on the other side - there were points in time during the game that she would "talk" to Peyton, turn it around and tell Eli to tell his Brother to get his act together...

She's eating crow this week since the Bears beat her man and her team...

-sorry for the flash "white-out" in the middle of Peyton the glare was awful!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jessie's Day...

Well, Jessie finally had her day at Purdue University Large Vet School/Hospital for her lameness exam. It was a long day to say the least! When I made the appointment for 10am - I completely forgot (or didn't realize - take your pick) that West Lafayette Indiana is an hour ahead of us (east coast time) - uggh.. So, up at 3:30am..

She was a champ. The Vet school is top notch in my book. They take their time, evaluate everything, explain things to you explicitly and you can tell they like what they do.

We have a DVM, a DVM Resident, (2) 4th year vet students and a tech all assigned to us - We were there for no less than 8 hours.

They poked and prodded and watched and poked and prodded and watched some more, did ultrasounds and xrays and and and - it was amazing and thru it all Jess was a Champ. Oh my goodness, was she a champ - she even earned more brownie points and rose higher in my mind than I thought possible about how good, smart, willing and just lovable she is.

The bottom line is... her right front lameness issue was not navicular (very good news) but, an unbalance in her hoof / shoeing - and the farrier who works with the vet school re-shoed her and set her foot back, lowered her heel, squared her off in the toe and it was nothing short of amazing how much better she walked in front. Wow.

The left hind issue which all sorts of horse people had varying opinions on - turned out to be something no one had suspected - she has a minor (level 1 of 5) lesion in her suspensory ligament (main ligament that runs up the back of her lower leg). Here's a picture of the ultrasound - the upper left hand shot shows it outlined -

Ultrasounds reflect light - that's the light gray coloring you see in the picture - if there is not tissue there - then the ultrasound doesn't reflect and the signal / pulse goes thru - thus making a 'black' color on the screen. If you look inside the outlined circle-ish area - it is a darker gray than the surrounding area which shows not a complete hole in the ligament but, more like thinning - like fabric gets when it is really worn. You can see where fluid or joint spaces are by the black areas.

The top right picture is a view of the tissue from a different angle - the tissue striations are showing left to right - horizontally - except in the area of the thinned ligament - they call that 'disruption of the tissue' -

As this heals, unfortunately, tissue unlike bone does not heal as naturally as it was originally, it usually heals with scar tissue (just like cuts on humans can leave a scar). Being a level 1, and how I do and will be riding her - it should not affect her in the future..

So, she is on stall rest for 4 weeks with being hand walked 2x a day for 10 minutes. Poor thing - it is amazing she is not nuts when she does get out of her stall for those 10 minutes. But, again, she is a champ and being so good!

We will be taking another trip back to Purdue at the end of September for an update on the healing progress. If things look like they are healing correctly and timewise as to where they think the healing should be after 4 weeks, then I'm guessing they'll step her up to maybe 20 min of small turnout (in a round pen) or something like that. It will take a few more months I'm sure before she is allowed back into work again.

This is the type of injury that can be "nagging" and if not healed well, can cause future issues. So, better to be safe and take the long route (in the short term) then be dealing with this again and again and again..

I'm glad this is something fixable as I just think she is a good one!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bree's Tennessee Trip...

After the 4H Fair was over and we recuperated - and got everything put away - which seems to take 2x as long as dragging it all out - my parents came to town -

They spent a long weekend here and then took Bree back with them to Tennessee - it's an annual thing - Bree and my Mom do all sorts of stuff together. This year I went down to get her on Thursday, we spent Friday antiquing and then Sat went North towards home 2 hours to my Brothers' Family house, spent the night there and then started home on Sunday while stopping off to visit the Strawns and see all the babies (including Boce Boy) and then headed home.

In years past (this dates back to 2003) - My Dad used to tease Bree about his FIFTY horses vs her ONE horse - (his 4 wheeler) - he built a box on the back and would take her for rides out in their woods and such. This year, he "tested" Bree to see if she was strong enough and had long enough legs to drive it herself! Well... Here you go:

My Dad (Bree calls him "Poppa") - surveying her technique!

My Mom and Bree - Bree loved being the "limo" driver and shuttling us all over the place - Notice the box on the back and keep in mind she USED to fit in there - infact both Bree and my Niece would fit in there together (arrggh, I'm getting old!)

Bree showing Poppa how "strong" she is (She is going to kill me for posting this one - but oh well - too bad - so sad)

And of course, her threatening to run me over since I told her I was going to post that picture...

She had a blast - She is getting so grown up!

While at my Brother's house, it is our "annual" go out on his boat on the Lake of Egypt - it is a power plant lake which is nice because it is pretty darn clean and the average temperature is around 83 degrees - delightful!

The kids (including my Brother) had a great time swimming - (notice Bree without the life vest on IN the water?) another first -

On the way back in, my Brother always lets Bree drive at some point - this first picture is from 2003 (the first year out on the boat) - look how little - she has to sit on his lap to see - Look how short her hair is -

This year driving, she's too TALL to sit on his lap, her knees hit the dash!
I love her concentration!

Sunday morning, we got up and headed again North towards home and stopped an hour later at Paige and Barry's - we got to see how big Boce has gotten, said hello to Thor, Teq, Twist and Sly - Fonzie was hiding - I think he saw Bree's size and said "unt uh, no way, I'm not getting roped into that again and hightailed it off somewhere to hide!)

Then we went to the farm to see this year's babies and all the Strawn kids out there - they are looking SO good! I still say I'm stealing Radar one of these days!

After a lunch to which Bree drank 4 full Chili's sized glasses of Dr Pepper (it was hot out at the farm) which caused us to stop what seemed like every 20 minutes for her - (reminds me of Paige's story about BS and going to Canada) we got home around 6:30 Sunday night -

We all had a great time and have a ton of memories!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2008 4H Fair... Last week of July

Thankfully this year the 4H Fair wasn't as hot as years past! The Grundy County 4H Fair is held separate from the regular county fair as the fairgrounds are just not big enough to house both at the same time.

Bree shows horses. That is her only project (despite prompting from me) -

This year the plan was for Bree to ride Jessie (my filly) in the 'slow' events (pleasure classes, etc..) and to show Tess in the gaming.

Well, you know the saying about 'plans' - Jessie came up lame in her left rear that even after getting injectable bute (in the vein) 2x a day for 3 days leading up to the fair. So, like any good 4H'er, must improvise. Bree used Jess for the Halter and Showmanship classes (Sr Halter Mares - as "sr" in our 4H world means 2 and over) - and placed 7th out of 21 - not bad... considering the filly is SO lazy and just wasn't going to trot to the judge even with the ring steward throwing sand at her from behind. (It IS nice however, to know, hauling her somewhere for the first time that she is as laid back and non-caring about her surroundings elsewhere as she is at the farm).

The riding classes were all about Tess - can you say "zoom, zoom, zoom"? ha! Bree did trail with her and WON - LOL. She took her in English Pleasure and English Eq (as Tess can do an extended trot not like any other - from all her games trotting) and won Eng Eq! Reserve in Eng Pleasure.

Bree didn't ride in the WP classes as that would have been too funny - also she wanted to "save" her for the gaming classes - no problem - she could have ridden all day long and that mare wouldn't have run out of gas.

She placed reserve in the reining as Tess just won't flatspin for Bree - (Bree's leg are long for a 10 yo but not quite long enough to convince Tess that she MUST flatspin)

Then, the gaming - Bree's forte' - She won all 5 classes - (barrels, poles, fig 8, plug and keyhole) - There was some pretty riding going on - the fastest I've seen them go and controlled with some beautiful turns (not all - but flashes of awesome). She won some neat class prizes and also the gaming highpoint award which she'll get at the awards dinner in November.

Skeeter (B/O) got creative and spray painted the gamers.. ha - like the flames shooting out? The pictures look black and white - but they're not - its just that games were at night and getting dark - so I had to do what I could to lighten them up - also that's why there is not alot of them!

I love the focus on Bree's face here - Tess ran a perfect and I mean perfect figure 8 pattern - it was just beautiful!

During the Poles, Tess has developed a "bad" habit of wanting to dart in between poles 5 and 6 instead of turning the end pole (I think she's so smart that she figures she'll get a better time - hahaha) - anyway, Bree has to direct her forward and a scoish OUT so Tess gets the picture that Bree is the driver - but, this is one of my favorite "butt" pictures - look at how Tess is using her hind end - which may not seem like a big thing - but, (no pun intended) the fact that for 3 years she was working off her front end almost exclusively and now transitioning to use her big bum, this is what we're looking to see.

I like to see Tess hunting the turns -

As usual, Tess, sleeps between classes and walks in and out quietly of the arena - which I like most of all - no hyperness, no antsy-dantsy, rearing, geared up behavior -

Bree has her room decorated with her purple ribbons and even though didn't get to show much in the performance classes had a good show!