Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chalk it Up

J and I spent his 6 day 'vacation' getting some of our yard projects knocked out so that we could enjoy them for the whole summer. We dug holes in our rocky, clay-rich soil for 5 new trees and then built a play structure for the boys over the next two days; all this in addition to our normal training schedule. It was a lot of tedious work, but that thing is worth its weight in gold for all the time my kids are getting their crazy energy out and playing nicely with one another. Also, I feel like they have something more concrete to do when they have friends over.

We still need to stain the fence and extend our patio, but the weather gods didn't have that in store for us, so at least we now have the stain and supplies sitting in the garage for a sunny day (looks like it's coming up!)

J is competing in an Olympic-distance triathlon this weekend (his first) and I have my first marathon next weekend. Yes, we know how to pack in the fun!

With some of the outdoor projects tackled, I've turned my attentions back inside. My neighbor has a cool collection of salvaged windows in her garage that she has slated for projects around her house and promised to let me tag along the next time she made a trip out to her 'supplier'. We loaded up the pre-schoolers and headed over this week. With a barn and couple outbuildings full of windows to sift through, I was a little overwhelmed. Then, she pulled out a window that had cool hardware still attached and when she flipped it to the back, my breath pulled in a sharp intake and I was a goner. A shock of lime green paint was still clinging to the frame on three sides and I exclaimed 'that is IT!'

After trying to think of how I'd re-arrange the things already on my wall (namely a large mirror that I love), I decided to get it anyhow and I'd make it work. When I got home with it, my neighbor offered to hold it up in different places and then it was like a lightening bolt of inspiration; it's going to go on it's side, the hardware moved to the 'wrong' side, some coats of satin finish poly-urethane applied to the frame to keep the paint from flaking off and chalkboard paint on the window panes and I'll have the weekly menu board I've been searching for!

Here it is before any work:

A little glass cleaner and a dry dust cloth, plus two coats of poly later:

(the last coat is still drying, and I'm not concerned about the white spray paint on the glass because I'm painting it anyhow)

And the sad, lonely wall it will grace when it's done:

I'll start painting on the chalkboard paint when the kiddos are in bed tonight, and think it'll take 2-3 coats. I got a one-quart can of the roll-on paint, as I've heard mixed reviews of the spray paint. I also ordered a package of chalk pens  at the advice of my friend and some chalkboard cleaner. It was actually her faux stained-glass window that she has hanging in the pass-through from dining room to living room that inspired my quest for salvage windows. I also ordered new dining room chairs from World Market, so it will no longer be a gamble each time a guest sits down on our rickety IKEA chairs.

I decided to start with just one window to make sure I used it, and to limit the amount of 'projects-to-do' living in our garage, but I already told the woman that I wanted to find a set of three square windows to faux stain and hang above the transom in the living room. First, I should probably use the tile for our bath-tub back splash if I want J to take me seriously in the future!

Stay tuned for the final project...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Hungry?

Check out my review of The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins over on Knitty Reviews. What a great YA series! I'm ready to dig in to book two, Catching Fire!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All Access Cable

After making so many socks, you start looking for more and more patterns that will retain your interest in the endless rounds and slip of the dpn's (yes, I still used double-pointed needles. Even though magic loop and circulars are all the rage, the amount of time wasted slipping along the cable starts to frustrate me so, alas, I'm a dpn girl in a circular world) But I digress...

Sock patterns. After finishing Monkey Socks by Cookie A. I started scouring ravelry for the perfect pattern for my friend, Alex. She's attempted knitting socks but wasn't in love with her results (I think the next pair she makes will be money because it was just a couple holes that she wasn't happy with), so I intended to give her a pair for her birthday. Which was in January. Big surprise, right? After finishing Tree of Life, I was more than ready for some simple projects. I already had the yarn; A skein of Fleece Artist Seawool in a beautiful variegated green. 

The pattern? Owlie socks. I was at first wondering about all the cables, and the beads but saw a modification that eliminated the center cables to maintain some stretch in the leg, went without the beads and then I watched a couple videos on cables without a cable needle (I don't think I'll ever go back!) for small stitch amounts, and they have really flown off the needles considering I haven't had a ton of time to knit lately.

Here's a couple pictures...Can you see the owls?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bumped (Bumped, #1)Bumped by Megan McCafferty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a huge fan of the Jessica Darling series, so when I heard that McCafferty had a new book out, I quickly bought it (and read it basically in one sitting). At first, I didn't know what in the world was going on with all the wink, wink, double-blinking, but quickly realized that because it was set in the future, the characters no longer needed to have their smartphones with them to update their status on MiNet on the fly, all they had to do was roll their eyes and do a series of clicks, ha! The whole premise is pretty disturbing, but that is certainly the point. I loved all of the social commentary, specifically the fact that the firm for whom her 'Surrogette' agent works is called UGenXX.

The inside cover gives a great synopsis, but I liked looking (as did my sister who recommended this book to me) at the conversations with McCafferty about where she drew her inspiration for the novel. As with most topics of personal freedom, and specifically reproductive freedom, every decision or absolute can lead down a very slippery slope. McCafferty certainly knows how to make it a great ride!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Swamplandia!Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is so much to say about this book, but I'll try to limit it to non-spoiler comments. The first 50-60 pages really suck you in, and then there's a slight lull in the middle. After finishing, though, I feel like the majority of what was in those pages was necessary for plot and character-development. A coming-of-age tale that spins in some magical realism (or does it?) and also provides a great social commentary, this is a great book club pick because I felt like it was after discussion that I realized how much I liked it.

It may be one that I read again, but not for awhile. There's a lot to think about and digest, but it's wonderfully written, and there are so many places that give the reader pause. Will you get sucked into Ava's voice and naivete, or will you remain skeptical with all of your adult knowledge? I definitely found that I'm a cynic (but only because I've seen the worst too many times). Travel deep into the swamp to be introduced to a world that will seem magical, if only because it's foreign, Swamplandia! is sure to make you start googling alligator parks you can visit in real life!

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