Thursday, 23 December 2010

Done; aaaaaaand done!!

Phew! Such relief!! I managed to finish the Blanket of DOOM!! and the lace scarf. Yay me :-) And of course, just so you'll actually believe me, here are some pics:

X's blanket - okay, so it's not the squarest blanket in the world, but hopefully he won't notice, and love it anyway ;-) It's all wrapped and I snuck it under the tree last night - he's none the wiser. Woohoo!

And, almost a year in the making - the Fern Lace Scarf, aka My Mmmmmmmmalabrigo Lace Scarf:

Oooooh, preeeetty...

Now my right wrist is packing a howlie, so I guess I'd better give my hands a few days rest before starting up a new project. I hear Wuthering Heights calling...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Only five more sleeps

That's not long. It's already Monday. Christmas is on Saturday. Blimey.

So I've changed the heading for this 'fitness section' back to running, because I've been slack and haven't been to any Pump, RPM or Attack classes in weeks. But! I've been running, a lot, and think I'm doing pretty well. Granted, each run has been on a treadmill, but dude!! It's so much easier to keep track of what you're doing! I can run 5km in 30 minutes for a fast-paced run, or in 40 minutes if I want a more leisurely pace. I can also do a 5km run with a 20 metre climb on a hill programme in 40 minutes. Plus, for the first time ever, I ran 7km yesterday! Took me 46 minutes 40 seconds (running at 9kmph). I was pretty proud of myself :-) Don't think anybody else was though...

Knitting/Spinning/Crochet etc etc etc
Phew! Have I been busy!! Finished the socks, and have nearly finished the Blanket of DOOM!! I put in a good eight hours on it over the weekend thanks to Deane allowing me to escape the house on both Saturday and Sunday in order to sit quietly by myself in a cafe and crochet like a mad woman. Got in a bit of hand sewing that I'd been putting off for ages too, which I can include in the pile of Christmas pressies (although it is rather cheeky, but what the hey? ;->) During the days now I'm limited to knitting my Malabrigo lace scarf because - a) I have a self-imposed ban on starting new projects until I've gotten rid of all my WIPs; and b) I can't work on the Blanket of DOOM!! during the day, because then X will see it, and it will ruin the surprise.

The lace scarf is the only other thing left on my WIP list, and I'd love to have it finished, so hopefully I can get it done before the new year. I started it in February, so it will be nice to finish it before next February!! Then I think I'll start on some cardigans, or perhaps a shawl...

No spinning lately, been too busy knitting and crocheting :-( My lovely is looking rather forlorn, and no doubt feeling quite neglected. Perhaps early in the new year, I can start on some of that divine alpaca Deane bought me for my birthday. He did request some fingerless gloves made from the chocolate-coloured alpaca fleece. We shall see...

Christmas Craziness
Baking has been done!! And plenty of it!! I got some cute boxes and packaging from a cool shop in town called $3 Japan (they have some seriously funky stuff!) so it's all packaged nicely, unlike last year when I ended up using oven bags and curling ribbon :-/

One can only assume people like receiving hand made gifts for Christmas, instead of generic stuff off the shelves. Baking and crafting takes time, and patience, and a lot of love and care goes into the making of such gifts. I, personally, always appreciate a well thought out gift, or one that has been made by hand. I just hope others feel the same. Regardless, I get a lot of enjoyment out of making things for people, so I'm gonna keep doing it anyway.

Our tree was put up and decorated the weekend before last (yes, we found the decorations - after I spent over an hour making popcorn garlands so the poor tree wouldn't be completely bare). The boys have happily munched through their chocolate advent calendars - they particularly enjoy having several in one day, when we've forgotten about them for a few days (or been away) and they pile up. School finished up on Friday, T has been to his last swimming lesson for the year, X has his tomorrow. Things are drawing to a close.

Shopping is almost complete, although I feel kind of bad about the fact that my boys won't be getting anything they asked Santa for - T wanted a real bath tub (won't fit in the apartment) and BeyBlades (there are none left in the country to be had, unless you spend over $70 each for them on TradeMe. No thanks). X wants the XBox game 'How to Train Your Dragon'. Santa, however, won't be getting this game for X, because Santa thinks it would be silly to do so after X has spent the better part of a year saving up to buy exactly this game for himself. Perhaps they'll be disappointed, perhaps they won't. Maybe Santa will write a note of explanation as to why they will not be receiving the gifts they asked for...

Still a few more things to get - a couple of things for Deane, something for Mat, something for Deane's god-daughter, and then I think we're done. Oh wait, Ben & Lichelle - there's always somebody you forget about! Darn it!

Books!! Lots of Books!!
I'm kind of glad I kept a list of books I've read this year, and I think I'll be doing it again next year. It's a great way of keeping track of what I've already read, because sometimes I do forget if I've read a book or not. Especially when reading a series, with breaks between books (sometimes the breaks are rather long) - I forget which one I'm up to. In any case, so far this year I have read a total of 37 books:

An Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon
The Host - Stephenie Meyer
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J K Rowling
Ferno the Fire Dragon - Adam Blade
Careless - Deborah Robertson
The Clerkenwell Tales - Peter Ackroyd
Harlequin Rex - Owen Marshall
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J K Rowling
Sepron the Sea Serpent - Adam Blade
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Journal of Mrs Pepys - Portrait of a Marriage - Sara George
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J K Rowling
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer
The Family that Couldn't Sleep - D T Max
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris
Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
The Biography of Jane Digby - A Scandalous Life - Mary S Lovell
Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J K Rowling
A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Nightlight, A Parody - The Harvard Lampoon
Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris
Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett
It - Stephen King
The Endless Forest - Sara Donati
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Steamed - Katie MacAlister
Peeps - Scott Westerfeld
Dead in the Family - Charlaine Harris

That's an average of about three a month - not bad!! This total was boosted somewhat by the True Blood series, which take only a few days to read each - in one case, I read an entire book in a day. They're easy to read, and not too big. Unfortunately, I have to wait until May next year for the 11th book to be released :-( Poop! Oh well, I have plenty of others to read, and I plan on reading the Twilight series again soon. At the moment, I'm reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I've always wanted to read all the classics, its just a matter of working through them. I'll never read all of them, but a girl can try, right? ;-)

The list of books read will stay there until the new year, when I will wipe it clean and start again for 2011.

Favourite Things Right Now
1. Absolutely loving the smell of fresh nectarines - not to mention the taste. Damn, they're good!!
2. The ideas for all the many many projects I have planned for next year - just the thought of all those gorgeous squishy yarns and beautiful fabrics... sigh
3. The smell of Christmas baking, but equally, the knowledge that I've finished and everything is good to go
4. The amazing hand crafted spindles by Sourkraut - if only I could afford one. Particularly this, which of course sold straight away! She's a wonder, dear Frances.
5. Taylor Swift. Love her.
6. Reading the Yarn Harlot's blog - she's so funny! And normal (or at least, to me she is). I find myself checking the blog list every day hoping there's an update.
7. The knowledge that on Saturday afternoon I will be enjoying a lovely turkey dinner. There's just something about the way my mother-in-law cooks the turkey, and the stuffing she makes, and those to die for roast vegetables - my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!

So, only five more sleeps then...
Things should get finished in time, as long as I keep up the pace, and I can get some alone shopping time. Deane will probably take Friday off work so we can head to Napier before Christmas Day. Wouldn't want to miss Christmas morning at mum and dad's place!!

Hopefully this year I won't forget to grab all the stuff we need out of the fridge and freezer - last year I forgot the Christmas ham, so we had to buy another one. Then we had a giant ham sitting in the fridge waiting for us when we got back to Wellington. Deane put in a valiant effort attempting to eat it all, but unfortunately there was a large amount of wasted ham. It was unavoidable. I'm quite amazed that every year, he's still happy to eat large amounts of it over the Christmas/New Year period. Of course, every New Year, he's thoroughly sick of it and doesn't want to look at another ham again for at least another 12 months ;-)

So, just in case I don't manage to update again beforehand, have a Merry Christmas everyone - have a great break, enjoy catching up with friends and family, and see you in the New Year!!!

Love to all :-)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Goodbye Gran

She died on the afternoon of Saturday 11th December 2010, and was buried on the afternoon of Tuesday 14th December 2010 - what would have been her 64th wedding anniversary. During a thunderstorm no less. It was awesome - the perfect send off.

Rest well Gran, you deserve it. We'll miss you.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lookie!! Proper FO pictures!!

Finally got round to taking some semi-decent pics - apologies for the ghastly model though, it's all we could find at short notice ;-)

Le front:

Le back:

That is all.

Christmas is nearly here people!!!

And I am soooooooooo far from organised...

I know where the tree is, but I still haven't located the decorations. I haven't started Christmas shopping yet, although I have started compiling a list and have been 'price shopping'. I don't want a repeat of last year, where we ended up spending twice as much because everything I bought within Deane's 'allocated Christmas shopping budget' did not meet with his approval, so he went and spent the same amount again. Stupid. This year I'm going to check and make sure everything is 'acceptable' before purchase :-/

The two things I'm making for Christmas are both half done - the socks:

(sock #1 all bound off, and awaiting it's partner)

and the Green Lantern Blanket of DOOM!! Seriously, this endless black crochet is doing my head in. The things we do for our children!

Another goal of mine was to get rid of some WIPs that've been hanging around for a while, so I can start fresh in the new year with a whole bunch of stuff I've been wanting to make for aaaaaaages. So the Bug Out socks are finally complete:

But let me tell you, there was plenty of trial and error in the process of making these socks. Here's a good idea of what can happen when you change your tension:

Sock #1 on the left, sock #2 on the right.

Clearly, this wasn't going to be acceptable, so sock #1 turned into this:

And eventually (as seen from the first pic above) ended up being sock #3, which matches sock #2. Bless.

I also managed to finish this:

I wore it today, but don't have any 'on my person' pics of it yet, because Deane's been super busy with work and we haven't had time to take any. Not that I'm complaining much...

I finally got round to knitting my section of the Cafe man's travelling scarf:

And it's been sent on to continue its journey.

Back story:
Every Sunday, a group of Wellington knitters met up at the Botanic Gardens in the Begonia House to knit and chat and laugh, showing off their knits and handspuns. When everyone had arrived and people were starting to get peckish, they would all head into the Picnic Cafe for lunch or a cuppa. Every Sunday without fail, the Cafe man would see them walk in and simply ask, "how many of you today?", to which they would answer, and he'd set up a suitable table for them, ensuring they had the correct number of seats.

When one of the knitters, Jody, arrived at the counter to order, he'd say, "I keep forgetting to bring in some wool so you can knit me a scarf" (of course, the first time, he said "I must bring in some wool so you can knit me a scarf", and it just continued from there). This went on for many weeks, perhaps months. Eventually, Jody moved away. The Cafe man was saddened to think that now he would not get a beautifully hand knit scarf.

The other members of the Sunday knitting group felt sorry for the Cafe man, and decided amongst themselves to each knit a piece of a scarf, sending it around the group until it was long enough. The first section was knit by Karen. As Jody happened to be visiting Wellington when Karen brought in her completed section, she was excited and eager to participate in the making of the scarf, and asked to be next. The group agreed, and Jody happily took the scarf back with her to Auckland.

After a month and a half of the poor scarf sitting in her WIP pile, Jody finally picked it up, knit her section, and sent it away to the next person in the group, Raewyn. Raewyn, being a much more organised person than Jody, knit her section promptly and passed it on again, so the scarf could continue to grow and hopefully be finished by next Winter, so the Cafe man can enjoy a nice, cosy neck while travelling to and from work.

I'm looking forward to seeing the finished work ;-)

In other Christmas-type happenings, I've currently got a plum pudding sitting on the stove, steaming. It should be done by 9.30pm. Seriously, you have to steam it for FIVE. HOURS. And the mixture sat in the fridge since yesterday afternoon, getting all boozy. Oh, if only we could have Christmas in winter - then a full turkey dinner and plum pudding would make so much more sense...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Sometimes things just don't go to plan

Take this weekend for instance. T's birthday was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, after he'd been to swimming. Deane was going to wrangle the boys into playing XBox Kinect in an orderly fashion (well, relatively orderly), and I was going to go to knitting on Sunday and see a friend from Wellington who happens to be up in Auckland. Somewhere in the midst of all this, another friend was attempting to organise a Harry Potter weekend, wherein all the movies would be watched on DVD, then we would attend the latest, Deathly Hallows Part 1, at the theatre.

It all started to go wrong on Thursday...

The Harry Potter weekend was cancelled as none of us could be there for all the movies, but we would still go see Deathly Hallows on Sunday.

We received some rather bad news in that Deane's Gran had had a massive stroke, and wasn't doing well.

Only one child had RSVP'd for T's birthday, to say that he wouldn't be attending. I couldn't get straight answers out of the others, as the parents are all Korean and don't speak much English. We invited another person, but I din't hold out much hope for that working, since it was such short notice.

Deane organised to fly his brother over from the Gold Coast, picked him up at the airport at 12.30am Friday morning, and they (along with X) drove to Napier to be with Gran. T and I stayed home to continue on with the party.

At a more respectable hour on Friday morning T and I got ready for school and headed off, walking since Deane had taken the car. I finished organising the bits and pieces for T's party during the day (party bags and all the goodies to go inside them, decorations for the cupcakes I was making in place of a birthday cake, etc etc). Friday afternoon was a bit bland, but at least T had a birthday present to open. The gift sent by his nana the previous week had finally turned up (after several phone calls to track it down and having it delivered to a Post depot I could pick it up from). Once he was in bed, I had time to bake the cupcakes for the following day, and afterwards watch Eclipse on DVD. Unfortunately during this time, I was suffering a minor bout of IBS, which as far as I can tell, was brought on by eating a plate of baked beans on toast for dinner with T. Still can't figure that out... Needless to say, the evening was pretty much a write off.

It is now Saturday, and T's been to swimming. He spent most of the lesson on the side of the pool, as he refused to cooperate with the instructor (the reason for this is long-winded and I won't bother getting into it right now. He will be dropping back to the Beginner 1 class as of next week, which will hopefully help build his confidence back up). We went home and finished organising things for the party, which was due to start at 1pm. Well, nobody turned up. I sang Happy Birthday, he blew out the candles, we raided the party bags and spent the next half hour blowing bubbles, chasing them around and popping them, and having a good laugh. Bless his heart, he's completely unfazed by the fact that it's just us here. He's munched through a few unhealthy snacks (from the party bags of course) and is now happily plonked on the couch playing Banjo-Kazooie on the XBox by himself. He's just as cool as a cucumber! That makes things so much easier to deal with.

I guess I won't be going to knitting tomorrow, unless I can convince T to hang out in the cafe for half an hour or so. Deathly Hallows will be out of the question too, with nobody here to look after T for me. No big deal, since I've already seen it, but that kinda tops off the weekend for me really.

Gran is hanging in there, but it probably won't be much longer before she heads on her way to meet up with her husband and son, a long-awaited reunion I'm sure she's ready for now.

On the up side, its not raining, and I've got lots of time for knitting and reading. And my house is tidy.