Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!

So, with all of the big events of this year, a new baby, international travel, and numerous weddings, all of which I've failed to document, what could possibly now be important enough to bring me out of my blog-silence? Well, jingle bells, of course! Not the Christmas song, but the actual noisy kind...on a ribbon...that you wear around your neck.
These particular jingle bells come from the Brennan's restaurants located around New Orleans and are given out every December to the happy, lunch time patrons of these wonderful establishments. Each year, it's a little mini-competition to see who can gather the most bells. There's no prize really, just the joy that comes with frequent fine dining. So, this year, when I'm not really feeling myself (super tired from having an eight week old who won't sleep more than four hours at a time), I've decided that Connor and I (he's the eight week old, I'll fill you in more about him in another post) are going to attempt to get all ten of the available jingle bells. Yep, there are ten Brennan's restaurants in the city and we're going to visit each one over the next three weeks.
We began our Tour-de-Brennan at Ralph's on the Park yesterday. It is one of the few (actually the only) Brennan's restaurants that I have never eaten at. The restaurant itself is beautiful and from the lunch crowd yesterday, seems to be very popular with the "ladies-who-lunch" crowd. Seriously, I only saw three men in the place and one of them worked there! I opted to sit in a corner away from the rest of the patrons just in case my plan to dine with an infant didn't pan out as well as I was hoping.
Our server, Emily, was super friendly and very attentive and after running through her favorite items on the menu, I decided to go with her recommendations of the soup of the day, which was oyster artichoke, and her favorite entree, panneed veal with a panko crust. The restaurant was running a special for the two course lunch for $19. I was happy with both choices, although the soup was a tiny bit on the salty side, it was very tasty and the veal was incredible! I'm a big fan of the baby cow and this was one of, if not the best veal I have ever had. I opted to add jumbo lump crabmeat to the dish, but in hindsight, that really wasn't a necessary addition, the entree stood well on it's own, but it was an effective up-sell by our server.

Oyster Artichoke Soup

Panneed Veal with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat
Surprisingly enough, I passed on dessert after my meal, which rarely happens, but I was completely stuffed by this point. Next time I go back, though, I'm totally saving room for the chocolate mousse cheesecake I saw on the menu. It sounded divine!
So, all-in-all, I'm giving our experience at Ralph's on the Park a big thumbs up! Connor was a good boy and cooed and smiled at me all through my meal. He was also greatly admired by said lunching ladies and the wait staff. And, most important of all, we received the first of our ten bells of the holiday season!

My Sweet Boy with his first jingle bell!

Join me again Friday because I'll be giving you the run-down on the second leg of the Tour-de-Brennan. Connor and I will be joined by my friend, Kelly, at Cafe Adelaide for the second jingly prize!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! Unfortunately, my day wasn't the greatest, as I am suffering from yet another cold, but Hubby was amazing and kept Bean busy all day so I could relax and sleep as much as I could. They also brought me some lovely flowers, which made me feel quite loved!

I'm stealing this idea from another blogger, but thought it would be fun to try on my own 3 1/2 year old and my husband. So, here goes:

Interview with the Bean

What is something Mommy always says to you? I don't know (meaning she couldn't come up with an answer, not that I always say that)

What makes Mommy happy? Hugs

What makes Mommy sad? Don't find out the answers

How does Mommy make you laugh? Funny faces

What was Mommy like as a child? You were a girl and used to wear my white hat

How old is Mommy? I don't know

How tall is Mommy? Are you this tall? (holding her hands about 18inches apart)

What is Mommy's favorite thing to watch on TV? News

What does Mommy do when you're not around? You're sad

What is Mommy really good at? Finding me

What is Mommy not very good at? I don't know

What does Mommy do for her job? Clean the house

What is Mommy's favorite food? Sandwich

What makes you proud of Mommy? Poopin' on the potty (can you tell we're in the middle of potty training?)

If mommy were a cartoon, who would she be? Who?

What do you and Mommy do together? Don't know

How are you and Mommy the same? You're tall and I'm short (think we need to talk about same vs different again)

How are you and Mommy different? You're taller and I'm shorter

How do you know Mommy loves you? Very much

What does Mommy like most about Daddy? Handsome

Where is Mommy's favorite place to go? Mall

Clearly there are some challenges with interviewing a three year old...

Interview with a Daddy

What is something Mommy always says to you? Love you

What makes Mommy happy? Yarn

What makes Mommy sad? No cuddles from Bean in the morning

How does Mommy make you laugh? Being a smart ass

What was Mommy like as a child? Cute and blond

How old is Mommy? shows no age

How tall is Mommy? ....really flippin' tall!

What is Mommy's favorite thing to watch on TV? CSI or Family Guy (actually I never watch CSI, it's NCIS or Bones)

What does Mommy do when you're not around? Mourns my absence of course

What is Mommy really good at? Knitting, cooking, accounting, word association games, and sudoku

What is Mommy not very good at? Manual labor (in the sun), cleaning the litter box, and understanding why I'm ALWAYS right.

What does Mommy do for her job? Primary teacher and care-giver to the Bean, CEO of the household, and personal therapist (physical and mental) to the Hubby

What is Mommy's favorite food? Anything with lots of hot melted butter

What makes you proud of Mommy? She's a good Mommy

If Mommy were a cartoon, who would she be? Kanga

What do you and Mommy do together? We like to: fine dine, play with Bean, roll in the grass, watch Family Guy, sleep in and cuddle, make and eat tacos, and listen to the Scorpions (ugh, I HATE the Scorpions!)

How are you and Mommy the same? We like to eat debaucherous food, drink wine (when she is not pregnant) and hang with friends, smooch on Bean

How are you and Mommy different? I'm a neat freak, she likes dessert, I like to work and sweat, she has an excellent memory

How do you know Mommy loves you? She's still putting up with my sh*t after 10+ years

What does Mommy like the most about Daddy? There is not enough space here to list all of the ways

Where is Mommy's favorite place to go? Disney World!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I don’t think it takes a mind reader to know how excited I was about Stitches this year. Last year was my first time attending and I had an amazing time, so when the opportunity to attend again this year rolled around, I jumped on it! My friend, Lara, and I decided to go and within a few minutes of making that decision, we also determined that an invitation needed to be extended to our friend, Anna. We know Anna via our blogs and our only relationship with her so far has been via the internet and somewhat over the phone for her and Lara. It was interesting, though, that there was no hesitation for either of us about inviting her. She’s just one of those people that her natural warmth comes through and we knew we would have a great time with her. I thought it was pretty great that as quickly as we decided to invite her, she only took about half that amount of time to accept the invitation!

So, after waiting what seemed like an eternity, we finally went to Stitches last weekend. I actually left home on Wednesday to bring the Bean over to Florida to stay with my Mom and Dad. My mom’s birthday was Friday, so I joked that Bean was her birthday present. I knew they would have a great time, though.

Thursday morning I got on a plane to head up to Atlanta and met up with Lara at the airport. It was so wonderful seeing her again and after picking up our rental car we headed out to the hotel and conference center. Our first class was that afternoon, Cut & Paste with Sarah Peasley and it was brilliant! We took one of her classes last year and knew she was an amazing teacher, but this class took it to another level. For the most part, it was about the Kitchener Stitch, which is a wonderful grafting technique that I use all the time to finish the toes of socks or finish the underarms of certain sweaters. It creates a row of knitting as opposed to a seam. Sarah took it a few steps further and showed us how to graft live stitches to a side seam, how to graft in pattern (including in ribbing) and even cooler, how to pick up stitches and then cut off an area of knitting that we might not like, without having to rip out an entire item. Say after you’ve knit a sweater, you decide that you don’t care for the ribbing at the bottom. Well, using this technique, you can just cut off that portion. Or, if you decide that you don’t like a section in the middle, pick up stitches above and below that section, cut it out, re-knit and then graft it all back together!

Me & Sarah Peasley!

After our class was over, Lara and I headed back up to our room to meet up with Anna. We liked her immediately and there was never an awkward moment or lull in our conversation or laughter. Amazingly, we never made it to the Market that evening or to the Ravelry meet-up. We were just having too much fun on our own. That night we hit Sotto Sotto for dinner, which was my favorite restaurant from last year’s adventure. They have a seafood risotto that I dream about! Their Caesar salad is also really yummy and I topped it all off with a wonderful ricotta cheesecake with fresh berries. I was SOOOO full when we left!

The next morning I was up around 6:30, as per my usual. I never can manage to sleep in anymore, darn that adorable little girl of mine! I puttered around the room, took my shower and killed time while waiting for the others to wake up, but finally just had to leave the room. I headed down to the Market and hung out with some lovely ladies while we waited for the doors to open. My first stop was, of course, the Knit Witch’s booth, where I picked up a couple of beautiful skeins of sock yarn and got to visit with the wonderful Brittany and Wayne. They are such a delightful couple and I loved getting to see them. Brittany has done a lot of custom dye work for me through the year and is always so great to deal with. After my stop at their booth, I headed down to check out the wares at Dragonfly Fibers. Kate does beautiful work as well and I selected a fabulous hank of laceweight yarn. It’s a huge skein and has 2,500 yards of yarn!

Finally around 11:00, the other girls were up and ready to head out to get some “breakfast”. I sort of envy the ability of those without kids to sleep in, but I think with that much yarn in the building, I would have had a hard time sleeping in any way! Anyhow, I met up with the ladies and we headed off to introduce Anna to one of the staples of southern food (as far as I’m concerned at least), the Waffle House! Unfortunately, I don’t think Anna was as enamored by it as we are, but I do think she enjoyed it.

After breakfast, we headed back to the MARKET!!! Lara and I hit every row, but Anna was much more efficient than we were. She picked out a project and headed off to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. I ended up with four bags of Noro, two of Yuzen and two of Silk Garden. Then we hit the Unwind booth. The ladies working that booth were a lot of fun and they had some great yarn. I picked up two skeins of Unison yarn in some really great autumnal colors to make a baby sweater, hat and some booties. The ladies there were also super kind and offered to babysit my VERY large tote bag (see last post) so I could shop more freely in the rest of the market. I didn’t add a huge amount after that point, but did pick up a couple more skeins from Kate at Dragonfly.

That night we hit South City Kitchen for dinner and once again, it was delicious! I got she-crab soup for my appetizer, shrimp and scallops with grits for my entrée, and banana pudding for dessert. Divine southern fare! I was in a great mood when we headed back to the hotel and that continued when we joined in the pajama party in the lobby. I did win a prize, not for my fun pj’s that I made, but for having my wee one with me, albeit not visible! It’s a scarf kit and I think I’m going to enjoy making it. Probably not something I would have picked out on my own, but the colors are nice and heck, if I don’t like it, I’m sure I can find someone who will!

Saturday morning came and we had our second class, Basic Pattern Drafting with Melissa Leapman. I have a knitter’s crush on Melissa and she is a wonderful teacher. We took her intro to cabling class last year and loved it. This class didn’t involve any knitting, but I learned a lot and even got to use algebra. I know that might not sound like a whole hell of a lot of fun to some folks, but I kinda love math and was thrilled when the lightbulb clicked and I figured out the formula to solve the problem before Melissa even got to that part! Yes, I am truly a geek, but I finally have learned to wear it proudly! This was supposed to be our last class, but I opted to add Melissa’s afternoon class since I had enjoyed the first one so much. The second class was Celtic Cables and was incredible! I’m really tempted to take the elements that I learned in both classes and try and design my own sweater. Then again, maybe I’ll just work one of Melissa’s patterns first….

Me & Melissa Leapman (who totally thinks I'm her stalker, I'm not, I just get easily excited when around knitting genius)

I did hit the Market again after my second class. What can I say, I have issues! I went back by the Unwind booth and am so glad that I did. I picked up eight skeins of MadelineTosh yarn, buy one get one free! It may be the yarn that I use in my first designing effort.

Saturday night, our little threesome broke up so Lara could go to see some of her Atlanta buddies. Anna opted for some quiet time at the hotel and I headed out to join 150 of my closest new friends to a dinner hosted by Brittany (Knit Witch) at her dad’s restaurant, Scalini’s. I will be honest, I was expecting more of the company than I was the food, but I was pleasantly surprised on the food front. The meal began with a family-style salad and the best garlic rolls I have ever had in my life! Fresh baked light rolls literally soaking in butter with minced garlic on them. I think I smelled like garlic for days after! For my entrée I got the meat lasagna, which was huge and I thought there was no chance of finishing all of it. But it was so incredible that I didn’t leave a single bit behind. Dessert followed with a big tray of desserts served family style again. The food was excellent and the company was even better! I sat in the back of the room with the funniest group of women I have ever been around. We didn’t have a full table, but I think we may have had the biggest laughs! I am so glad I decided to go to the dinner, even without my roommates. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, I think Scalini’s should be a must visit. Plus, Brittany’s dad is just adorable and charming!

My tablemate, Dawn, who was a riot! In the background is Miss Babs, another incredible lady!

Brittany's super-cute dad, John!

Sunday was the wrap up for the event and Lara and I decided to hit the Market one last time. I hit Knit Witch one more time and got five skeins of DK weight yarn and a couple more skeins of fingering weight yarn. I must’ve really liked her Pisces colorway, because I picked up another skein of it! Not that I mind, just that much more to love. We also went to visit Miss Babs, one of my dinner companions from the night before, so I could get some of her Yowza yarn to make an outfit for my upcoming addition. If it’s a boy, I will make a sweater and pants with it. A girl? A cute little dress. I also got some oyster laceweight, which I think will become Jen’s wedding shawl. Just for good measure, some of Babs’ Yummy sock yarn found its way into my bag! Two final stops: one more trip to Unwind, mostly to say goodbye, but they lured me with buy one get one deals on Koigu! Ten skeins later and two more Unison to boot, we finally said our adieus and headed over to the stage for the grand prize drawing. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but the ladies who did were so cute, I don’t really mind losing to them. Well, not so much, anyway!

After the drawing we were going to head out, but the Webs booth drew us in. I picked up three Zaerballs and some other sock yarn, Jawoll Magic. I know I went really overboard on my yarn purchases, but I got some really beautiful stuff.

Stitches was a wonderful experience yet again. I just loved being around so many like-minded people. By the end, I felt like I had learned so much and made so many wonderful new friends. Thanks to Ravelry, I will be able to easily keep in touch with them! On Sunday, when it was time to leave, I had the same feeling that I used to get on the last day of camp and now that I’m home, I’m trying my hardest not to completely bore my family to tears by forcing them to hear every last detail of what happened. Hubby has been great, though, and seems to really enjoy hearing about how much fun I had. The man who even a year ago would have ribbed me about it, now seems genuinely excited that I have developed this sense of community and take such joy in my knitting. I knew picking him was a great idea. Of course, he hasn’t seen all the yarn that came home with me…..

Here are some photos of some of the people who made my weekend so wonderful! Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Anna, but I kept forgetting about my camera and she does tend to be a little camera shy!

Jennifer & Miss Babs

Brittany & Wayne

Me & Molly

Jessica, Me & Lauren

Lara & Me!

The Stash!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Been lovin’ the postal system lately!

I know I have a lot to catch you guys up on, but there's so much that I'm going to divide it up into two posts. The first one will deal with all the loveliness that has been gracing my mailbox lately, then I'll focus on my Stitches adventure in the next post.

I really have enjoyed checking my mailbox lately (and the front door, since a lot of things won't actually fit in the box)! Back on April 17th, I got the most amazing package from Vespa, who was my angel partner in a birthday swap that I participated in. She included the loveliest things including some yummy treats, gorgeous yarn, a bracelet that doubles as a row counter, a fabulous neck warmer, and several patterns from my Ravelry queue! The best present as far as Bean was concerned was the knit red fox tail made from Fun Fur. She looked so cute modeling it and pretended that she was Swiper the Fox from the Dora the Explorer cartoons. I have so enjoyed getting to know Vespa and look forward to continuing a friendship into the future as she singlehandedly saves the Canadian turtle population from the brink of extinction! Seriously, doesn't that sound like a story that needs to be followed? I do believe she may have need of a cape...

Please forgive the formatting of the photo below, it was blogger's choice, not mine!

Two days later was a really big mail day for me and SO exciting! The first thing I got was something that made me squirm a little bit because it presented me with a bit of a moral dilemma, but I think I’ve worked out my karmic balance so I feel better now. It was my gift for the birthday swap from my original partner, Annie-bom-Bannie. For various reasons, she had been delayed in sending it, and I had a lapse of faith and that’s how I got Vespa as an angel. This will teach me not to doubt and she sent me some wonderful gifts (and spoiled Bean, too!).

For Bean, there was a fairy costume with a matching purse, a Winnie-the-Pooh watch that actually has a little projector in it that will shine a pic of Pooh on the wall, and a super-sweet crocheted rose scarf. The scarf reminds me of an afghan that my grandmother made for me when I was around six. I’ll have to pull that out and photograph it, so you guys can see the similarity.

And for me there were two different types of yarn. One is called a Wonderball and it looks like a variety of colors and textures in there. It has a pattern included, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it knits up. I think it will look very arty! She also included a hank of blue and green wool that has a great texture to it. I forgot to jot down the brand and am feeling a bit too lazy to walk downstairs right now to check, so if you want to know what it is, send me and email or follow-up in the comments. I also got a lotus leaf scarf, which made me giggle since I had sent her the same scarf in a different yarn, some delicious chocolate biscuits, which made for yummy road trip nibbling, and a pair of really pretty silver earrings. They are faceted and add a bit of bling to any outfit, but are simple enough that you can wear them with anything. Truly my type of jewelry! I brought them with me to Stitches and wore them quite a bit. Annie is also a super nice lady and her daughter is right around Bean’s age, so they have become “internet buddies”. Keep your fingers crossed that Annie gets over her morning sickness soon and can start truly enjoying her little miracle that’s on its way!

Also in the mail that day was the latest installment from the Dragon Witch sock club. I love this yarn! The red is so vibrant and it feels so skooshy. I’m looking forward to working with it. I really like the pattern Kate created to go with it. I may alter it to include a ribbed cuff for a bit more elasticity and sag resistance, but that will be the only change.

And finally, for my big mail day was my first etsy purchase ever! I’ve deliberately avoided etsy because I can easily see myself getting a bit carried away, but I think this was an excellent purchase. It was made by Maiden Jane, whose blog I really enjoy and it is huge! You will see in the next post exactly how much yarn this gorgeous red tote can really tote! Jane is so sweet, too and included a couple of little treats for me and Bean in the package. I got a ribbon marker to keep track of my place in patterns. It’s such a simple, yet incredibly clever, design using ribbon and a strip of magnet! It’s already been put to work for my latest lace project (more on that later). And for the Bean, a really cute little kerchief. Again, simple design, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.

My final fun package that I’ve gotten in the mail this month was waiting for me when I got back from Stitches yesterday, so I don’t know exactly what day it arrived. It’s my swap package from the Favorite Things Swap on Ravelry and it’s from Alphamperry. I love everything in it! I got a really pretty pink scarf adorned with leaf patterns down the side, a baby blanket of Alice’s own design in some great nature colors (I’m not all that into traditional baby colors for this baby, so the blanket is perfect), a red paisley pashmina, two Godiva chocolate bars, a couple of little bags of Ghirardelli coffee, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac, a children’s book about a knitting mouse, and three different yarns including Dream in Color, Happy Feet and Fashion Toes. I had actually looked at the Happy Feet while I was at Stitches, but ended up not getting it because the booth only had it by the bag and I didn’t need that much, so I’m really glad to have gotten it from Alice! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her that things settle down a bit at work and she gets over a cold so she can enjoy the rest of what spring has to offer!

So, all of these items add up to me really loving my postal delivery person this month. I always love getting packages in the mail! (hint, hint)

Coming up next, STITCHES!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Promised Photos

Beautiful azaleas!


St. Louis Cathedral and a sweet girl

Cafe du Monde - Bean took this picture herself!

Eating beignets and listening to jazz

Mommy, Bean and a cannon
Dancing with the brass band!

And the rock-a-billy group!

Mommy's haul from the Quarter Stitch

Teacup ride at the Strawberry Festival

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Local Tourism and the Kickoff of Festival Season

Have you seen the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog yet? If you haven't, please go out and rent it. We've been watching a lot of it since it came out on video recently and I think I love it every bit as much as Bean does. Cute story, great message and best of all, it's set in my beloved New Orleans! Each time we watch it, I bust with pride about being a New Orleanian. And yes, I mean bust, not burst....I'm a Southern (prounounced: suh-thuhn) girl after all.

What I found interesting, though, after watching this movie so many times, is that Bean had no idea that she lived near this amazing city. So, on Monday I decided that we would become tourists in our own home town. Now, I take her into the city quite often, either to the zoo or the aquarium and quite often I will take her for a little walk on the waterfront edge of the French Quarter, but I don't think I had really told her Where we were.

We started out the day by parking in the Uptown area, so called because it is upriver from downtown, not because it is particularly ritzy, although there are some AMAZING mansions along St. Charles Avenue. Due to the crazy nature of this city, you can have an incredibly wealthy neighborhood right next to one of the poorer ones. It just adds to the gumbo that is New Orleans. And no, it's not N'Awlins as so many would like to call it. Yes, we do slur the two words together a bit, but we definitely start the word with a New sound.

Anyhow, back to our day. We parked our car on St. Charles Avenue not far from Tulane University (my alma mater) and jumped on the streetcar headed downtown. I pointed out to Bean that we were riding on the streetcar just like Tiana (the princess) and her mommy did in the movie. This clicked with her and she really enjoyed the ride. It was a perfect day, cool with low humidity and we rode with the window up (open) for about half of the ride. I pointed out some of the houses that I had grown to love while I was in school and she pointed out others to me that she liked. So much fun!

When we got downtown, we hopped off the car and headed into the French Quarter. I walked a little ways with her on Bourbon Street (it was early in the day, so no drunks walking about) then cut over to Royal Street (where a lot of the art galleries are) and made our way to Jackson Square where the St. Louis Cathedral is. The square was so beautiful with all the azaleas in bloom and we had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo from behind the crepe myrtles!

Once it got to lunchtime, we headed to one of the restaurants on the square to get some gumbo. Bean had promised to try it, but true to her picky nature, refused once it got to the table. She ate chicken fingers instead while I enjoyed gumbo and some fried crab claws with remoulade sauce. Yummy! I swear half the reason I never left this city after I graduated is because of the food! Okay, well maybe the Hubby has more to do with it...but I really do enjoy the food, too!

After lunch, I allowed Bean a really great treat as we headed over to the World Famous Cafe du Monde for some beignets. She loved them and amazingly enough did not make a complete mess of herself with the powdered sugar they liberally dump on them! We sat next to the outside edge of the restaurant, which is fenced in by a low, wrought-iron fence. Right outside the fence was a trumpeter playing lots of local jazz and he loved it when Bean began singing "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" with him. She can be so outgoing when she wants to be, and quite charming. I was really proud of her the whole day on Monday.

We walked around a little bit after our beignets taking in the sights and sounds of the quarter, including a brass band and another kinda folksy, blues band. Bean loves music and danced around quite a bit and got a real kick out of putting money into the bands' tip jars. We also made a quick stop by the Quarter Stitch, one of my favorite yarn shops! No matter how much yarn I seem to accumulate, I never can seem to pass that store up. They are so sweet in there and have a shop dog that is more than happy to keep my little darling busy while I browse. Somehow, six skeins of koigu and one of Jitterbug sock yarn found their way into my stroller. Not sure how that happened exactly.... ;-)

But, we had to call it a morning as the Bean was starting to get a bit tired (heck, so was I) and jumped in a cab back up to our car. It was such a fantastic day and even stepping in a little dog poop once we got back to our car didn't take me out of my fabulous mood! I enjoyed introducing my little girl to the city I love so much and can't believe how long it had been since I actually stopped long enough to enjoy it properly!


This weekend kicked off one of my favorite times of year in Louisiana - Festival Season! Not to be confused with Carnival Season (which culminates with Mardi Gras) Louisiana has some of the greatest outdoor festivals around celebrating every type of food you can imagine and lots of great music. I truly am not meaning to dog on any other part of the world, but this area of the South has such a unique personality, and this time of year it really showcases all of the things that make it special.

This weekend we started things off right by heading down to the French Quarter Festival on Saturday morning. Bean was very excited to be going back to New Orleans so soon and I think had her heart set on getting some more beignets. (Sorry, kiddo, there was no way I was waiting in the crazy line for them this time!) But we did have a great time sitting out on a big lawn next to the river, listening to a brass band and eating all kinds of yumminess. You wouldn't believe the variety that exists among the food booths at these things, everything from bbq to fried alligator on a stick. I had shrimp tacos and some of the most delicous, creamy macaroni and cheese I have ever had in my life. Then followed that up with some fresh strawberry crepes. Mmm, mmm, my belly was happy. Then we walked around, again finding ourselves near Jackson Square and then walked up Royal Street toward where we had parked. On the way, we found a wonderful little gypsy-jazz group playing on the street (it's a pedestrian mall during the day) and stopped to watch them for quite some time. Bean danced and joyfully put some money in their jar again and was so excited when we let her buy one of their cd's. She wasn't so excited about the cd itself, but got quite a kick out of giving someone money and getting something back for it. What a little grown-up, huh?

Anyhow, we headed back to our car and home so Bean and I could catch an afternoon nap. She was supposed to go over to her grandparents' house that night and Hubby and I decided to take advantage of the fact and head out for some dinner at one of our favorite little restaurants, Cafe Degas. The sole basis of the decision to go there was the fact that I was totally craving paneed veal! This kid is definitely giving me much stronger cravings that Bean did when I was pregnant with her! Dinner was amazing (escargot, veal, and frozen lemon ice box pie for dessert)! All in all, I think Saturday was a perfect day!

But the weekend continued to be so much fun! This morning we got up and once again, the weather was lovely. We headed up to the small town of Ponchatoula, which is up on the north shore of Lake Pontchatrain, for their annual Strawberry Festival. So much good food to be had, along with rides and midway games. We met up with one of my dearest friends from college and her family, which is always a treat and had a great time. For those of you who know me, you know my world tends to rotate around food and today certainly did not dissapoint: a rib-eye sandwich (so Tender), a seafood baked potato (which was basically a potato slathered with a creamy cheese sauce and topped with shrimp and crawfish), gumbo, strawberry shortcake, and a (non-alcoholic) strawberry daquiri! I was so fat and happy when we headed out of that festival! Bean and Hubby had a great time, too. They spent a lot of time on the rides (which I can't go on right now) and it was wonderful bonding time for the two of them.

Sometimes Hubby has to spend a little too much time at work and when he does, he definitely needs a little time to reconnect with her. She adores him, though, and it was wonderful watching them play and chase each other around at the festivals this weekend. Made me fall even more madly in love with them both!

Okay, I know this post is woefully lacking in pictures, but I'm feeling a bit lazy tonight and I don't feel like going out to my car to get the camera out. So check back tomorrow and I will have a post with just pictures and captions in it to share with you how much fun we had.

I hope all of you had great weekends, too. Hugs from the Deep South!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

We've had a beautiful Easter here! It started early, with me heading outside around 6:30 to "hide" eggs around Bean's playhouse. I don't really try too hard to hide them, I don't want to frustrate the poor kid. Next year I think I will make it a bit more challenging for her. When she and Daddy woke up, we chilled out and watched a couple of cartoons and then I decided to make some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Unfortunately, I left them in for just a minute or so too long. Enough to burn the sugar just enough to where we wouldn't really enjoy them. So, bagels it was!

After breakfast, Bean was very eager to find out what the Bunny had left for her. She already had some candy that was left outside her door, but she likes finding eggs! I had hidden two dozen of them for her along with a couple of little toys and they made her very happy. In fact, we had to hide them another four or five times in the house so she could keep hunting! For lunch, we headed over to the in-laws' house for a late lunch. It was delicious, but Bean was getting pretty cranky so we didn't stay over there very long.

Currently the Bean is taking a nap, and I just finished up weaving in the ends of my latest finished object! They are Wicked by Glenna C. and were a lot of fun! I started them back on February 24, but put them down for a long time while I worked on Iron Knitter socks. After making so many pairs of socks for other people, I'm really happy to have a pair for myself. I'm still working on one other project, but I'm at the finishing stages of that one, too, so I fully expect to have some pictures for you in the next day or so.

So, here are my Wicked Socks! Have a great Easter!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Iron Knitter Wrap-Up and Other Events of Note

Well, another two months have passed since I've posted and I doubt that I have any readers left. But, I'm going to post anyway because I have a LOT of finished objects from the past two months!

I'm guessing you remember me telling you about Iron Knitter. As of the last post, I had one pair of socks done for the contest. Well, now there are five more to show you, since the contest is over. The first pair (second from IK) is a pattern called Wishing for Spring (rav link). I used Knit Picks Kettle Dyed Essential in Spruce. This round began on February 2 at 1:00pm and by 5:30pm on the third they were done. And yes, I did sleep that night! I didn't pull any all-nighters until the final round of the contest, contrary to popular belief among the other competitors. Like the first round, I won this one! Woot!

The third round was originally schedule to begin on February 12, but unfortunately the woman organizing the contest had a bit of an emergency and the start was delayed until the 14th (bit of an emergency is an understatement, the poor woman was hit by a car!). The pattern was released about 8:00 in the morning, but I didn't get it until 10:30am. Hubby had "lost" his car the night before during Mardi Gras festivities (in his defense, someone else parked his car for him and gave him crappy instructions about where it was). Anyhow, when I got home, I got crackin'. The pattern is called Shop Around the Corner. This was my first time doing colorwork on a sock and I really enjoyed the new challenge. I'm not as crazy about the buildings at the top, but I really love the colorwork going down the foot. Unfortunately for me, the moderator made it an allowable modification not to do the colorwork on the foot, which in my opinion really penalized the competitors who wanted to remain true to the patterns we got. I did not win this round, the competitor who did chose not to do all of the colorwork and still only beat me by two hours. So I will consider it a moral victory even if it did show up as a big L on the scoreboard! Yes, I am aware of the fact that these socks do not "match", and no it was not a mistake. I like the negative mirror effect. I used Knit Picks Essential again, in Burgundy and Soot.

Round four began on March 6 but I don't remember what time. The pattern is called Maeve and I really loved working this one! It's a beautiful sock, worked from the toe up, which I don't have a lot of experience with. It also involved working with charts, because there was no way I was going to be able to memorize the repeats for these bad boys! They are Knit Picks Essential (again) in grasshopper and have such a great, Springtime feel to them! I finished these up late of March 7. Wes wouldn't let me stay up late the night of the 6th because I was just getting over being sick (more on that later), otherwise, I would've finished a bit sooner. I did win this round though.

Onward to Round Five and the patterns just kept getting better. The pattern is Cable and Lace Socks and it was such a relief after Maeve because the repeat was only 8 rows and was super easy to memorize. I used Knit Picks Essential (shocker, I know) in Ivy and they really feel like St. Patrick's Day socks. This round began on March 20 and I wrapped it up on the 21st. I'm actually kind of shocked that I won this round because I took about four hours off on Sunday morning to have brunch in the city with two of my dear friends. They were worth the risk though and for various reasons, I hadn't seen them in about a month.

The finals for Iron Knitter began on March 27 and that couldn't have been more inconvenient for me (I know, it's not always about me, dammit!). That evening we were committed to going over to my in-laws house to celebrate my MIL's birthday and there was no way I could've gotten out of it even if I had wanted to. Which surprisingly, I didn't. They are my family and certainly take precedence over any contest. We spent about four hours over there and that really handicapped me in the contest, but I toiled away at the beautiful Meander pattern anyway. Again, Knit Picks Essential, this time in Bordeaux. This round was the first time I gave myself permission to pull an all-nighter and I certainly did. I posted the picture at around 6:20 my time on Sunday morning and lost the round by about 50 minutes. In fact, I came in third. This was very discouraging at that hour of the morning, especially considering that I won the most rounds in the contest, but after stewing for a little while, I realized that I'm still thrilled with what I accomplished in the contest and I met some really incredible knitters along the way! Besides, there will be other Iron Knitter competitions, maybe I'll win some other time. In the end, I have six gorgeous pairs of socks to give to some of my girlfriends in two months time. Can you believe that I've made 9 pairs of socks already this year and March isn't even over yet?!

How's this for a beautiful "family" portrait of socks?

Oh wait, ten pairs if you count these little ones for Bean that I made from some remnants of some other socks. Okay, I don't know if they should really count, they're pretty small....
And I haven't only been cranking out the socks here. This sweater got wrapped up in February. It's another Spiral Sweater. I loved making the first one and this red Koigu just demanded to be made into one. I'm hoping that the darker band that appears in the spiral will fade a bit after some washing. That's the risk with handpainted yarns and I just refuse to frog it and re-do it. This is the first of my Christmas knitting. I'm going to try and get gifts done throughout the year so I don't stress myself out come this fall and winter.
And this is another Christmas gift, for my cute and quirky cousin. Technically, she's "EMO" (not that I understand what the hell that means), but I know she likes Pauley Perrette from NCIS, who plays the character Abby, who is a goth. This reminded me of something Abby would wear around the holidays and I also thought it would look really cute on Catrina.
And these two shawls I actually did back in December, but for whatever reason haven't posted, so I'm going to take the opportunity to show them off because they are WAY too pretty not too!

I have two other projects on the needles right now that will probably be ready to post within a week or so (unless I get totally distracted), so stay tuned! Yes, I have been a total knitting-maniac lately!
With all the knitting that has been going on, I bet you'd think there hasn't been a lot of time for anything else in my life, wouldn't you? Well, that's not quite the case. If you remember, last time I checked in I had just broken my foot and poor little Bean was suffering from pneumonia and a double ear infection. You will be happy to learn that both of us recovered from those fairly well. While Bean was sick, though, I got some rather surprising (and incredibly welcome) news. I'm pregnant! We have been trying for a long time, but the reason it was surprising is because they did a pregnancy test on me when I was at the hospital for my foot, prior to doing an x-ray which came back negative. Hubby and I were heartbroken and decided that the following month we were going to try some fertility treatment. Well, about a week after my trip to the ER, my monthly friend still hadn't paid her visit, so I decided to pee on a stick. That bad boy didn't even wait the full three minutes to tell me that come October, we are going to have a new little one around here to dote and love on along with the Bean. I have taken to calling it the Sprout.
Pregnancy this time around has not been as kind to me as it was with Bean. I had pretty bad morning sickness and exhaustion that was compounded when I came down with a really horrible cold that developed into an ear infection of my very own. I had just started to recover from these when I was attacked by a vicious stomach virus. All told, between illness and morning sickness, I have lost about 14 pounds during my first trimester. It's not unusual that I lost weight, I did it with Bean as well, but this was a lot of weight and not the way I would've wanted to lose it. I'm actually wearing jeans today that I haven't worn since before Bean came along. I don't expect that to last very long though, because the appetite is coming back and I expect in the next couple of weeks for the Starving Pregnant Lady to appear in full force! I am feeling so much better now! I had a bad bout with allergies when Spring finally sprung on us, but I have those under control now and I feel like "me" again. Perhaps a little more short tempered than normal, but hey, I've got crazy hormones, cut me some slack! :-)
So, hopefully there are still some folks checking in on this blog. If you're out there, check back again soon because I'm going to try and keep this blog up to date a bit better from now on!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What a week! (and a contest notification)

Since you heard from me last, things have been a little crazy around here. I'll start out with the fun part!

Last Saturday night Hubby and I attended the Tucks Ball with a bunch of friends. I had a blast making my costume (in spite of a broken and throbbing foot). This is what can be made with about 15 yards of glitter tuille:

The picture is a bit blurry, since it was taken on my camera phone, but you get the idea! There are other pictures from the ball, but they make it abundantly clear that I was not the most sober person in the world, so I don't think I'm going to post them! The other girl in the picture is the infamous Kate (aka SB or Sugar Britches). She's the one who took care of Bean while Hubby and I were in Chicago last September. She's a Saints angel, and if you can't figure it out, that's a decapitated Viking on a stick. The ball was the night before the NFC Playoff game. I still cannot believe that the Saints are going to the SUPERBOWL!!!!

The ball was so much fun, in no small part because of the friends we were with! Tucks is one of the more irreverant krewes of Mardi Gras, so most of the people there were costumed instead of decked out in formal wear like most of the other balls. I'm sure you can see a huge difference between my attire here, and what I wore to the Eros ball last year. Both kinds are fun, but I think I like Tucks better!

Needless to say, I was hurtin' on Sunday. I definitely do not recover from drinking as well as I used to! Unfortunately, we had some family obligations the next day. Hubby's aunt and uncle were in town and we were expected over at the in-laws house for lunch. Not a terrible thing, Auntie is one hell of a cook and had homemade lasagna for us! But I was definitely not up to much socializing and used my foot and a percocet as an excuse for being a little more quiet that I normally would be.

My big brother came over that night to watch the NFC game with us (Geaux Saints!) and that was one hell of an exciting game. We were watching it on tape delay, which is usually great because you can fast forward through the commercials. It didn't work out so well for us this time, though, because we were about five minutes behind when the game actually ended. From where we were watching, the game was still tied and about to go into overtime, but our neighborhood exploded in fireworks, so the surprise was kind of blown for us. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, though, since we were all about to collectively have a heart attack!

After such a fun weekend, I was in a pretty great mood on Monday. The town was alive because fo the Saints and it was just a fun day to be out and about. Everyone in town was friends and we were all reliving the game again and again. But, like always, when things are going too well, a shoe was about to drop. When I picked Bean up at school that afternoon, she was coughing and definitely didn't feel very well. She went downhill rapidly and by that evening was running a pretty good fever as well. I let her sleep with me so I could keep a better eye on her. Not terribly condusive for a good night sleep, but I always sleep with her when she's sick.

Tuesday, she didn't even leave my room, I just brought her whatever she needed. We rested and cuddled most of the day. That night, her fever shot up even higher and she coughed a bunch. I kept treating her with Tylenol and an expectorant that we had from the pediatrician, and she responded a bit, but it was a rough night again. Wednesday, she seemed a lot better, the fever never went terribly high, so I really thought we had turned a corner. Unfortunately, that night was the worst of all and she was coughing so hard that she would cause herself to vomit. We definitely didn't sleep much that night and I had a lot of sheets that needed to be washed yesterday! Finally, I decided that I needed to take her into the doctor, she just wasn't responding the way she should be. Turns out, the cold she started out with had developed into a double ear infection and a mild case of pneumonia. Is it just me or does it seem weird describing any case of pneumonia that involves your child as "mild"?

So anyhow, now I have to give her amoxycillin twice a day, which is about as much fun as giving a cat a bath. I actually have to put the kid in time-out until she finally caves and takes it for me! Then, around four this morning, she needed some Mucinex really bad and I had to carry her downstairs and put her in the time-out chair before she would actually take the stuff! I am so tired today. But fortunately, she slept in this morning and I didn't get out of bed until almost 9:00. I think she must be doing better today, she's slept most of the morning, which I hope means she's breathing easier and finally getting the rest she needs to get better! Fingers crossed!

So, the summation of this very long story is, this week has basically sucked so far!

But did I mention that the Saints are in the SUPERBOWL! I swear, I keep thinking about that, and it keeps making me smile. So on that note, I want you to follow this link over to my favorite indie dyer's blog and check out the contest that she's running for the SUPERBOWL (yes, you do have to put it in all caps, all the time)! All the money's raised go to Charity: Water and will help benefit those suffering in Haiti by providing them with clean drinking water, something that is in desperately short supply. Brittany and her husband are offering up some really great prizes to keep the SUPERBOWL even more interesting! Oh, and did I mention, that if you win and you're not a knitter, I would be more than happy to lay claim to your prize....just puttin' it out there....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sock Wars, Swaps, Iron Knitter and Broken Bones

It's been a busy past week or so around Chez Sarah! There has been lots of knitting involved though, so I've been having a lot of fun.

First off, I decided to join not one but two knitting competitions this month. They are both through, but not everyone is doing both. Sock Wars started first, on January 15. Basically, you get the name of your target and have to "assassinate" that person by sending them a pair of socks before the person you got your dossier assassinates you. So, it's not just about speed, you have to hope that either your assassin is a slow knitter, or that someone gets them first! Well, I got my part done quickly enough. I did a pair of socks from a pattern called Jeckyll & Hyde, which apparently was the SLOWEST pattern in creation. Even though I got them done over MLK weekend, they took FOREVER. I do think that I was the first person to finish a pair, most other people picked another pattern that was significantly faster. It was beautiful, though, I should know, I got off'ed by a pair!

In spite of my best efforts and mailing out my targets socks on Tuesday morning, by Wednesday morning, I was out. My assassin knit me some lovely purple socks that she had dyed herself with Wilton's icing dye. She also included a ball of yarn and a story about the colorway she had created. She called it Purple Death, after a rare type of coral that is very beautiful and also after the 1918 outbreak of Spanish Influenza that caused it's victims to bleed from the eyes just prior to death. Mshmom is a little twisted like that!

So, here are the socks that I made for Sarahbee, and the stitch markers that I included in her package:

And here are the purple death socks that I got:

In addition to Sock Wars, I'm also participating a Mardi Gras swap. I don't have a picture of the package that I sent to my partner, rms, but I did photograph the handmade item I included. A pair of handwarmers:
I also included the Mardi Gras themed stitch markers that I made.
And here's the wonderful package I got:

She included a beautiful scarf that she made using the Tunisian crochet method. It is super soft and I'm hoping that it's just a little cold during Mardi Gras so I can show it off! She also included three skeins of purple, green and gold yarn from Classic Elite and a bag of gold cocoons. I was a little daunted by the cocoons, since I don't spin, but she told me she likes to use them as beads for stringing or for embellishing. I like that idea because as much as spinning fascinates me, the last thing I need right now is a new hobby! So, at least some of these will become a super cool necklace and then I'll figure out what to do with the rest later. Oh and as a happy little side note, she let me know last night that she had forgotten to put the scarf pin she got for me in the package, so I'm going to get another present next week! You know how I love me some presents! (speaking of which, tick tock, folks, my birthday is coming....)
I got her package the day after I got my death socks, so it helped cheer me up from being knocked out of one competition so early!
Thursday night, Iron Knitter (Rav Link) kicked off. This one is predominately about speed! But, prior to receiving our patterns, we have to solve a series of clues. Our Supreme Commander allowed us to form teams in order to solve the questions (and also to reduce her email load, I suspect!) and that's been a lot of fun. I'm on team Ninja Needles. It's created a great sense of camaraderie, even as we try and win the contest for ourselves as individuals. I definitely find myself cheering for my teammates as we go on.

The questions were released on Thursday night at 7:00 and by 7:36 my team was in possession of the pattern. This is where teamwork ended! I cast on and had just a little bit done before Bean had to go to bed. As I was carrying her to her room, I slipped and fell, landing really hard on my foot. Oh My God, it hurt so bad and I was convinced that I had broken it, or at least sprained it pretty bad. I didn't want to go to the hospital, though, because I was determined to start knitting and even though you can knit while your waiting at a hospital, the constant interruptions are not exactly condusive for SPEED! So, I grabbed and ice pack, propped up my leg and got to knitting. I did end up popping a percocet left over from when Bean was born (you can see how often I take painkillers). By 2:00am I had finished my first sock, and although my competitive spirit was telling me to keep going, my eyes and the percocet were telling me it was time to turn out my light and go to bed! So I did. It was really hard going to sleep though, I kept worrying that taking time out was going to cost me the first position (I really wanted to win at least one round), plus my foot really hurt! Anyhow, I finally got to sleep and dreamed of knitting the whole time!
The next morning, Bean woke me up around 7:00 and I immediately cast on for the second sock. Bean was happy since I let her keep watching cartoons long after I normally turn off the TV. My only breaks from this point on were for food or diapers. Oh and anothe percocet. Two painkillers in a day? Yeah, I was hurting pretty bad! By 1:00, I was weaving in the ends on my second sock and posted a picture on the Iron Knitters group on Ravelry. I was the first person to finish by a couple of hours! Woot!
Here are the socks:

There have been a couple of people on the boards who have basically been commenting that I must've stayed up all night to finish, but I didn't actually. I didn't sleep much, that's true, but I definitely did sleep!
That afternoon, I decided that it was finally time to go get my foot checked out, so when Hubby got home from work, I left to go to the hospital. Fortunately, there was no wait at the ER and I got in right away. They took x-rays and determined that I had a spiral fracture in the second bone of my big toe on my left foot. Now, that's a pretty thick bone and also fairly short, so breaking it like that is quite a feat! (Heh, feet!) Anyhow, I now have to wear a cast shoe for the next six to eight weeks. Which means I will not be wearing fun shoes when I go to the Tucks ball!

Check back here later and I'll have a picture posted of my costume for the ball. I spent most of the day yesterday working on it!