28 December 2005

Field Trip to Ur

Coolest moment: Walking in and seeing the headdress that we had made way back during Story of the World 1 (although I think the actual project was in the Usborne history book instead of SOTW). Can you even believe we're seeing the actual headdress? Just like the one VKid1 made and wore around the house!

Other cool things: Cuneiform. Remember when we took the wet clay and wrote on it with a stylus? Look! Here it is! And remember the cylinder seals? They're all over the place here!

VDad also liked the long gold drinking tube believed to be used so the people of Ur could drink their beer and avoid the sediment floating on top. He was overtaken with the idea of the ancient frat parties of Ur, guzzling beer through those long straws. Educational moment -- things floating on top mean it was more of an ale, at least according to VDad.

Bad moment: I was the only one who could tell where Ur was without looking at the map at the beginning of the tour. Yoohoo, how many dozen maps of this region did we color during SOTW1? And now we can't even remember which continent it's on? Dang.

After we felt we had done enough Ur-ing, we wandered around the rest of the museum for a while. Downstairs we found a giant wardrobe from Germany -- VKid2 has been asking what, exactly, a wardrobe is, and we got rid of our chiffarobe years ago (we haven't seen the movie yet; VKid1 just finished reading The Magician's Nephew to VKid2).

And, there on the main floor, like a sign from God, was Monet's Waterlilies. Unfortunately, I had left my yarn in the car, so I was unable to compare colors. Now I really MUST finish this shawl so I can wear it into the museum and compare (of course, "you need to either keep your wrap on or check it at the coatcheck; you may not carry it around the museum"). I had decided to finish it anyway, since my main motive in making it was that our church sanctuary is so freakishly cold and drafty that I'm investing in new long underwear to make it through the services (ironic to move south and THEN need to buy long underwear, but I think the locals don't know how to insulate and/or heat). Also, it's an absolutely mindless pattern to knit, so I can read while I knit. I couldn't do that with the Flared Smoke Ring, and it was tough. On the downside, I still think the color looks more like Pond Scum or maybe Moldy Basement Carpet instead of Waterlilies.

26 December 2005

Online Christmas shopping

I spent much of Christmas day engaging in online shopping.

First, VDad and I decided we needed to give more to missions. I spent awhile at the awesome UMCOR site. Reasons I like this way of giving to charity: 100 percent of the donation goes exactly where I want it (United Methodist Church pays all overhead); incredibly easy to give (mail a check, drop off check at local United Methodist Church, use credit card online). I chose 2 or 3 projects there.

Then I spent most of the rest of the day reading online reviews of sewing machines. Every time I think I've narrowed it down something new pops up. Sigh. I think I'm just going to go to the Viking dealer and see what they talk me into. I like Viking because it's made in Sweden. I'm having a tough time finding out where exactly the other machines are made.

I did finish the heel of a sock. And I started a shawl. I had ordered some Morehouse Merino yarn last week, and it arrived at my door by Saturday. Wow! So I pulled out my swift (cleverly disguised as the back of a kitchen chair) and my ball winder (a Nostepinne that sometimes poses as a toilet paper tube) and wound that quad-skein. I then cast on the required 200-plus stitches, knit awhile, decided I don't like the cast-on I used (I always stew about which cast-on method to use; I wish I'd never learned more than one) and decided the color (Waterlilies) really looks much better on my monitor than in my hands. So I threw it next to the bed, and decided to concentrate on sewing machines. Yep, from now on I'm all about sewing, not knitting.

24 December 2005

23 December 2005

Christmas List

1. Vacuum cleaner that keeps the dust IN rather than spewing it OUT.

2. Sewing machine less than 20 years old and NOT made by a company that's since stopped manufacturing sewing machines, so when the task light burns out and I lose most of the bobbins I am able to buy replacements.

3. Ummm, that was pretty much it.

Oh! A home improvement project that doesn't end up with water in the basement or someone's foot stuck through the ceiling would be nice. I don't even care what project it is, just so it goes smoothly.

22 December 2005

Busy hands Are Happy Hands

At least, that's what Greg Pierceal always said.

So, this bleached out picture is intended to show A) another completed present, in this case a nightie for an 18inch doll, and B) that, yes indeed, we have a jumprope strung through our living room serving as a clothesline. Quite festive in red, eh?

The picture cannot be retaken because the future owner of the nightie is now awake. The kids saw me working on 2 of these, yet never figured out what exactly I was knitting. Heck, they even picked out the yarn.

The yarn is Lion Brand Jiffy, which will never rate as one of my favorite yarns. The pattern was a freebie printed off the Internet long ago.

21 December 2005

Let There Be Light!

In honor of the longest night, an electrician has installed an overhead light/ceiling fan combo in the master bedroom. He'll be back tomorrow to install more lights in the other bedrooms.

Now we can walk into the room, flip a switch, and have 300 watts of light. Wow! So different from the rinky-dink little table lamps we've been relying on. I can't wait until the sun sets....

Also, I decided to try a new template to lighten up the blog somewhat. That picture of the Flared Smoke Ring depressed me set against the other background. The carpet underneath looked so grungy.

15 December 2005

Another present done...

A flared smoke ring knit in Knit Picks Baby Alpaca. I wish I had picked a yarn with more oomph, but the color is perfect.

I hated the needles I used for this. At 15 inches, they were too short to do all of the "knit 2 together through back loops" that went on in this pattern.

Overall, I'm really glad this project is over.

Now, what to knit next? The cold temperatures last week had me longing for wool socks and felted house slippers. Now, though, the temps have gone practically balmy, so I picked up some yarn for nightgowns for 18" dolls yesterday...perhaps to whip up by Christmas.

At last, a practical history project

Story of the World III, chapter 31 A Different Kind of Rebellion...the activity book suggests doing "factory work" by creating an assembly line.

We made our Christmas cards in assembly line fashion. I cut out the fabric triangles; VKid1 glued them to the cards; VKid2 colored trunks for each tree. I then made itsy bitsy little red ribbon bows; VKid1 glued bows to the top of trees; Vkid2 added stars in the background. I finished up by writing "Merry Christmas" in each one.

Now to address and stamp them all. There was much arguement over choice of Christmas stamp. The only one they could agree on was the Eid stamp, so that's what we got. I wonder how many people will even notice.

14 December 2005

Tecumseh! Prophetstown!

We just reached chapter 32 of Story of the World 3. It was somewhat exciting to read about Lewis and Clark in the first part of the chapter, since we now live in an area heavy with Lewis and Clark tourist spots.

But what REALLY set of squeals of excitement was hearing about Prophetstown. The kids have been there several times! They've visited the Indian village at the park! They've seen the Tippecanoe River! History is ALIVE at our house today.

We'll be visiting the area between now and Christmas, but we won't be going out to the museum. For one thing, the purpose of the visit will be Christmas, and for another, it's going to be wickedly cold. I don't care to be quite so immersed in history that I experience 20F in a recreated Indian village. I do wish we could find some good children's books on the subject, though.

13 December 2005

Behold, the Purdue scarf.

MrV thought I was nuts to give a 20-something guy a handknit scarf for Christmas. Then he heard it was a moebius...a moebius in Purdue colors. A scarf capable of inspiring geeky discussions about the number of stripes it actually has (2 yellow, 3 black). Knit of Encore worsted.

08 December 2005

Homeschool Field Day

Topics include:

Physics: Sleds and Vectors
Physiology: Why do my cheeks feel so weird? Why does adding a layer on my torso help my hands stay warm?
Economics: Reasons why a house 2 blocks from a wicked cool sledding hill is worth more
Fire Safety: Appropriate use of space heaters

06 December 2005

Winter Phys Ed

We had a load of wood delivered yesterday. I suggested to the girls that they carry some to the wood cradle next to the back door. They bundled up in coats and boots, and went right out. All day long they discussed how many logs they'd carried, how many they would carry next time, how often they planned to do this. Steph said she planned to carry wood every day to build up her arm muscles.

We had our first fire in this house last night. More excitement!

02 December 2005

Do other people do this?

I have already memorized the ID number off my new library card. That way I can place holds or check my record without finding my card. And THAT way I don't leave my library card here at the computer while I zip off to the library.

Really, I'm not too sure of the actual numbers, but I know the pattern they make on the number pad of the keyboard.

Part of the reason this skill developed so quickly is that you can have about 50 holds/requests at a time at this library. Woohoo! I immediately placed about 10.

01 December 2005

Emeril Imperfect

First person singular imperfect tense in Latin is more fun if you shout out the BAM and simultaneously slam your hand on the table. Heck, you can even do this with first person plural. It's even more fun if two people do it together, and will possibly give the resident 6yo a case of the giggles.

Last night VKid1 made Some Real Good Chili from Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup. For the record, it's very salty when prepared as written (not that we prepared it as written -- when we made the Baby Bam we left out the celery salt because we didn't have any and I had no interest in buying it just for this use, since I'll probably never use it again). VKid2 was impressed by the lack of vegetables, since I add green pepper to my chili and Grandma adds celery to hers. This was basically meat, tomato, onion, garlic and spices. Oh, and cheese -- we alway top with shredded cheese. And I usually throw avocado on mine.

Must close -- we have a Santa Cow Island emergency brewing. I MUST read this book aloud NOW.

30 November 2005

The Thrill of Laundry

Problem One: Drain line backs up, then breaks. Water all over basement. I am afraid to do laundry until pipe is repaired, since for all I know washer will empty directly onto basement carpet.

Laundry proceeds smoothly for about a week or so, other than the day the plumber came to install a new hose nib for the hot water hose. This involved shutting off the water to the house (he also worked on 3 out of 4 toilets in the house, as well as the kitchen faucet and hot water heater) and air hammering the old faucet out. The new hot water hose is leaking, but I think that's a matter of replacing a gasket; for now I just wipe up the puddles. Then we arrive at Problem Two.

Problem Two: Dryer is overheating. Dryer is about 17 years old and appears to be overheating whether it is venting through the house vent pipe or not. As a matter of fact, when we take it off the vent is smells downright carmelly, like something's starting to catch fire. Run out to buy new dryer (this is the weekend we're too sick to move, so this shopping trip was a Huge Deal).

Dryer is delivered about 3 days later. But, alas, it also starts overheating.

Problem Three: Vent line runs all the way under house (instead of venting to the front of the house, a distance of about 5 inches, it runs about 30 feet to vent in the backyard). Entire vent line is clogged with 27 years' worth of lint. VDad takes down drop ceiling in basement, manages to take apart vent line, extracts a trashbag full of lint. This is lint from undies worn 27 years ago! Eeewww! But, he vacuums it all out, and puts it back together. New dryer now functions. I now decide that the house is constipated, and all pipes leading out of it are clogged with something or other.

Unfortunately, it is now Thanksgiving week. So, no time to do laundry, since we're out visiting relatives all day every day. Then, when we're finally home, VDad, Donna and Wade install new laundry room cabinets. This takes 2 days...2 mare days I cannot do laundry.

BUT, for the past couple of days I've been washing anything I want, any time I want. Woohoo! I even washed a bunch of toddler clothes for the MotheringDotCom Mothers In Need, so they're all ready to mail out now.

Years ago in New Hampshire I knew a woman who hated to do laundry. When she ran out of clean clothing she would simply go out and buy more. The laundry pile grew and grew. I wonder what ever happened to it....

28 November 2005

Our Excellent Green Bean Adventure

Use a large roasting pan, sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Dump in bout 5-6 pounds fresh green beans, washed, stem ends snapped off. Peel and slice a large onion. Peel and toss in about 12 cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a quarter cup olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Attempt to place in 400 degree oven, but realize roasting pan is too big for this oven. Quickly clean up lower oven (previous owners sprayed with oven cleaner -- ignoring the self-cleaning feature -- and never really wiped it out). Place in lower/larger oven. Cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with foil and take to Vi's. Serve with tongs.

Since that was so successful, I tried another new recipe the next day...we were in charge of a veggie tray for the get-together at Linda's house. I found a dip recipe that was totally nondairy (VDad isn't supposed to eat dairy). It was 3 cups of spinach, most of an avocado, some cucumber, garlic, parsley...sort of a cross between pesto and guacamole. I thought it was fairly tasty. VDad ate the ranch dip I had made with silken tofu (which, of course, has dried buttermilk, not to mention MSG in it).

Saturday night Mark and David cooked for the gang over here. They made steaks and kabobs on the stove top; they would've used the grill, but we threw it out when we moved. As Mark struggled to cook a decent meal on the smooth-top stove top he kept repeating, "I really know how to pray for you now, Gail," since obviously anyone who has to deal with those smooth-tops needs major intercession to keep them sane until they can ditch the blasted thing.

22 November 2005

God's will for our lives

So, Sunday morning we stayed in bed in lieu of getting up and going to church...we were both sick with some virus and needed the extra sleep (although one of us kept singing "Let's go Krogering" at random intervals, thus waking up the other).

The Sunday school lesson (which we missed) was on Nehemiah 11, which is when the people drew lots to see who would go live in Jerusalem. The personal application was to think about why God wants you to live where you currently live. When I asked VDad why he thought God wanted us here, he immediately replied, "Green beans...God wants us to take the green beans to Vi's house on Thanksgiving."

Well, you know, if we were still living in Ohio we couldn't bring the green beans. And, last year's designated taker-of-green-beans isn't coming this year. So maybe he has a point. And maybe that's why he kept singing about the thrills and delights of grocery shopping at 7a.m. Sunday.

19 November 2005

This week in Food News

The kids have decided to learn to cook. Our text is Rachel Ray's Cooking Rock's! 30-minute Meals for Kids. VKid2 made the Italian Alphabet soup with Cheesy Dippers one evening. The next night VKid1 tried her hand at the Meatloaf Muffins (which, frankly, suffer from Rachel Ray's obsession with Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick), smashed potatoes and cream cheese (we peeled the potatoes and left out the chives) and peas. Overall, the meals were successes.

As for me, I tried a new soup out of MY new cookbook, Simply in Season: the turkey-barley soup in the winter section. It was voted a success.

Coincidentally, the library had a food-related storytime this week. The kids made chef's hats out of card stock and tissue paper. And I checked out one of Emeril's cookbooks for kids.

14 November 2005

Hello? Hello?

And, will I ever pass this way again?