Friday, November 30, 2007

Tanglewood Fibers, Sweater and Beef Stew

Check out the beautiful superwash merino wool sent by Trish at Tanglewood Fiber Creations. This is my next batch to spin for her and I always enjoy it, especially because it funds my recreational spinning! You can tell I like the colors, because look it matches my couch fabric.

I'm going to get started on this right away, but had to get a few more rows in on The Sweater. It's coming along pretty well, although the seed stitch stripes at the bottom don't show up very well with the woolen style yarn (as opposed to worsted). Worsted yarn, from what I understand, is very sleek and spun from combs without much loft and fluff. My style has always been more lofty, woolen yarn produced on a drum carder, but it does not show the details of the intricate stitch patterns as well.

I'm looking forward to getting the sleeves done because I really don't like the short-sleeved sweater look. But, according to the instructions, I will finish the body first and then go back and pick up the sleeve stitches and finish the sleeves, and then the collar band.

As mentioned earlier today, I made beef stew last night from a new recipe I got from Whole Foods. As usual, I made my own alterations but mainly because I had to do without some of the ingredients called for because our fridge needs re-stocking. This was a really, really good stew, the rutabaga adding a bit of sweetness and flare to what seems an ordinary stew. And in my opinion barley adds such good flavor.

Here is my version of the recipe:

Beef Stew

~3/4 cup of flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. beef brisket cubed
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil (or olive or vegetable oil)
3 large carrots chopped
1 large rutabaga chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 1/2 cups of mushrooms sliced
1 qt. beef broth
1 qt. vegetable broth (or another quart of beef broth. I was out)
1 bay leaf

Mix flour, salt and pepper. Toss cubed beef in the mixture to coat all sides well. Save the rest of the flour for later. Heat 1 Tbs. of oil in a soup pot or dutch oven. Brown all sides of beef and set aside in a separate bowl. Add another Tbs. of oil to pot and add vegetables, cooking for two minutes, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add barley and cook for an additional minute. Blend in a little beef broth into the rest of the flour until smooth and add with rest of the broth and the beef into the pot. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, sirring occassionally for about an hour or until thickened. Remove bay leaf, and garnish with parsley.

Try it! I'm sure you'll like it if you like a hearty stew. The leftovers are even better!

Blogging Hiatus

I was shocked to see that I haven't posted since Sunday, but then when I thought about my week and the surprise feeling that it's Friday, I consoled myself by listing my busy week:

Monday - late night at work (relatively) packing the rental truck with all our gear for the next day of field work. Had to get to bed early because of next morning's early rise.

Tuesday - Ended up having to book a hotel for impromptu stay to finish the job the next day. I had no overnight toiletries and change of clothes or computer or knitting or spinning to keep me occupied. So I pouted about my unfortunate situation and went to bed.

Wednesday - came home, unpacked and went to bed early- really tired.

Thursday - got involved in making a big dinner, did some knitting on the sweater. I was in an exciting transitional part where the instructions stated to slip stitches onto scrap yarn for the sleeves and begin working on body portion of sweater, at which point I decided to add some texture stripes. Consequently, I knitted until bedtime.

Tonight: I would like to share my recipe from last night's dinner and knitting progress. Also got some more fiber from Tanglewood Fiber Creations to start spinning. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Spinning

The spin-as-I-knit theory has led me to finish another ball of yarn for the sweater project. I was knitting away and came to the end of the line and so took up spinning for the last day or so of lounging.
One bobbin of single, unplied yarn.
The same bobbin of yarn has now been plied and rolled into a ball for easy knitting. The sweater as shown doesn't really demonstrate well because the circular needles are short and so the whole thing is bunched up and I can't lay it flat for a good picture. In hindsight, I should have used 36" needles if they make such a thing, rather than 24" needles because it would be easier to see what I'm doing and I could try it on Paul to see if it is fitting right across the shoulders. I've been knitting from the neck down and am at the area where the sleeves will later be knitted.
Lounging is an understatement of our weekend. On Friday we did go have a look at our house to check on progress (dry wall is up!), and then started our Christmas shopping and errands.

I love the hardwood floors! They will be stained a walnut color.

View from "the gathering room" of the kitchen and front entry way.

Yesterday morning began our 10-11 hours of sleep each night because brrrrr... it's been cold and bed is so comfy. We've been drinking hot chocolate or tea,
slouching around in our PJ's, knitting, Star Warsing, spinning and movie watching. Yesterday we did not step a foot outside and today other than a walk to the dumpster and a trip to church, we did not go anywhere. It's been really relaxing and refreshing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Tracy, her mom and the friends that came over made an exceptional dinner. Tracy's friends came up from Charleston, SC on Wednesday night to begin the cooking, as one of them is a chef. We had cauliflower with a sauce that had mustard seed and fennel, green beans in a onion and white wine sauce, cornbread dressing, cranberry relish that was tasty enough to shovel in by the spoonful, cornish hens, sweet potato casserole and then my soup as an appetizer. It went down pretty well with some agreement about limiting the orange zest, but overall a success. For dessert there was almond tart, buttermilk pie (delicious), pumpkin pie and my apple pie. Wow.

Needless to say, as soon as we moved to the couch after lots of talking and eating, I fell asleep for a short nap... a few times, since we stayed till nearly 1:00. Not being a night person anymore because of the early mornings during the weekday, I struggle to keep up with the rest. But at least I wasn't the only one, because as soon as Tracy sat down she was out for the rest of the night other than about 15 minutes when she woke herself up for part of the conversation and went right back to sleep!

At Tracy's they have a tradition of going around the circle and everyone states what they are thankful for, which I thought was really neat. So this is what I am thankful for: family, our health, a fantastic husband who is also my best friend, new friends and old friends, good jobs, the comforts that we have, feeling so welcome in a new city. These are just a few. But I am truly thankful for these things every day and at least I don't feel that Paul and I take any of these blessings for granted.

As for today, it is a playground. Paul is already searching the internet for Black Friday specials and I'm about to do some spinning or knitting. Later today we might go out and get some Christmas shopping done during the sales or go see our house progress or maybe not. Having no solid plans is so nice sometimes!

I have started knitting the Anniversary Sweater and it's moving right along so I keep spinning more yarn to keep up with the knitting. I'm nearing the end of what I have carded so I will soon need to do some more carding to keep up with the spinning to keep up with the knitting. I was going to originally card everything first, but I get bored doing the one step forever, so I keep going back and forth to change it up a bit. I'll post pictures when I get a good full bobbin of the single yarn and then the plied yarn.

Oh, and I've given up keeping the whole thing hidden from Paul. There is so little time to work on it if I only work when he's not here. He's just trying to not pay too close attention to what I'm doing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing y'all a wonderful day with friends and family - Happy Thanksgiving!

We are heading to a friend's house from my work at 3:30 or so and are bringing homemade apple pie and maybe butternut squash bisque. I'm debating on whether to bring it or not because I made it by experimentation last night for Paul and I to try for something different. It made enough for an army and is kinda sweet so it would take us years to finish this pot, and with Tracy's event today, maybe it would be fun to bring along. Is that tacky? It is good, just in smaller quantities as an appetizer and not as a main meal. Paul and I figured the issue is that it would be better if we used half the amount of orange zest the recipe called for.
If you want to give it a try, here's the recipe with some of my own modifications. If you come up with some better modifications, please let me know!
Butternut Squash Bisque

1 2-3 pound butternut squash peeled and cubed in 1 inch cubes
3 large carrots chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 Tbs. of olive oil
2 tsp. of ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt or to taste
about 1/4 cup of dried parsely
1/8 cup of orange zest (I would use a lot less than this. the orange is nice but overpowering)
2 quarts of vegetable broth
Saute the squash, carrots and onion in the olive oil until lightly browned. I used two pans because this was a lot of veg. Add in the vegatable broth and orange zest and simmer until vegetables are soft (35-40 min). Puree until creamy and add back to the pot. Add seasoning and adjust to taste.
Hopefully Tracy's crowd likes it. If not, we'll be having leftovers for a long time. Enjoy your dinner whatever you have!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't Feel Sorry for Me

By now a lot of folks near and far know that I'm riding my bike to the office every day when I'm not in the field. My family knows, and people at work can't help but notice when I parade down the hall with bike and riding clothes. I get a lot of looks that say, "you poor soul" and a lot of generousity by way of offers for a ride home. Believe me, I will not turn them down when it gets windy, rainy and icy, but for right now please don't feel bad for me!
If people don't envy me as they drive by, they should! The weather is perfect, if not a little on the cold side, and the scenery is to die for. All the deciduous trees are every shade from flame red to the softest yellow and salmon. The air smells of fall and leaves flutter down from above as I cruise down the sidewalk. Other bikers are smiling, walkers are smiling and I'm smiling. I even found I had a bug in my front teeth when I got home yesterday - no joke. I was thinking to myself: those poor souls in their cars don't know what they're missing!

These pictures are taken around my apartment complex, but my whole ride to work is pretty.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Alpaca / Merino Blend

I think I mentioned that I planned on blending the alpaca fiber with merino wool. I ordered some "medium" colored merino from The Woolery and it was amazingly on my door step in two days, the day after I had washed the alpaca fiber. Some of the fiber had dried, Paul was gone in Ohio, and so I began carding immediately. The timing couldn't have been more perfect! The merino was more brown and less grey than I had expected but I think the blended result is quite nice. I'll have to decide if I'm even going to overdye the finished yarn as planned since the natural color looks so great.

I hadn't blended fiber before but had read some about it in books and magazines. So I gave it a try using a bit of book technique and a bit of my own.
First, I took equal amounts of both fiber types and kept them in two piles. On the right hand side of the drum carder I loaded the Merino and on the left the alpaca.
When I took it off the carder, the batt had two stripes: the grey strip is alpaca the brown stripe is merino.

I folded the batt in half lengthwise so that the alpaca strip was laying on top of the merino strip. I then slowly carded the batt so that the two layers blended together. If it did not blend well enough the first time, I was going to run the batt through a second time, but one time produced a good enough blend for my liking.

Four finished batts teased into roving of 50/50 alpaca and merino.
It takes me quite awhile to do fiber prep work and between the scouring and carding I "watched" movies that Paul wouldn't enjoy: Bewitched and Persuasion. Then my love for Disney's song and dance cartoons kicked in and I watched Bambi, Little Mermaid, Robin Hood and Lady and the Tramp. When I'm busy carding I rarely look up at the movies but I really enjoy listening to them. I always like Musicals and movies with lots of dialogue when I'm crafting. The Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice is the absolute best-- my favorite all time movie for days when I want to sit and watch the whole thing or days when I just want something to listen to. Now that Paul's home, the carder and secret fiber stash are put away, the chick flicks are back on the shelf and the "multi-gender- friendly movies" (as my funny dear sister would say) are ready for playing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scouring Alpaca Fiber

Paul left for Ohio today and is coming home tomorrow night, and I'll be in the field tomorrow until who knows when. So tonight was definitely the night for scouring the fiber and ridding it of all that dirt.

I followed Shirley's instructions as I remembered them (which could be worrying as my memory is not always that great).

  1. Spread the fiber on an old blanket and sorted through, pulling out some of the larger vegetable matter such as sticks and straw.
  2. Divided the pile in half and loaded one half into a mesh bag.

3. Filled the washer machine halfway with hot water and Orvus Paste or similar (I used Animal Legend Paste Detergent from a livestock supply store).

4. Carefully submerged the mesh bag in the water, being careful not to agitate it to prevent felting.

5. Left the washer lid up so that the cycle did not continue. Let the fiber soak without agitation. I left it in for about an hour or so, but I don't know if we really need to leave it in that long.

6. Advanced the cycle to the LAST spin cycle and let the washer do it's thing: drain and spin-dry the fiber.

7. Removed fiber and let it dry on a rack.

8. Repeated Steps 1-7 with second half.

It will probably take a few days to dry so now it's time to just be patient!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anniversary- Inspired Sweater

It is the season for anniversaries in my family. Today is mine and Paul's third anniversary. Around the corner on the 16th is my mom and dad's anniversary and my aunt and uncle just celebrated their 25th anniversary on the 4th with the whole family in California.

Now, I know you are wondering why the heck I'm writing right now when Paul and I should be celebrating. The reason is that I am getting home really early these days since I'm riding my bike to work and don't want to come home in the dark. So I'm working 8 - 4:30ish and skipping lunch. Paul won't be home until 7:00 so I had time to get things in order around here, since I have to partake in the chores now that Paul is a hard-working man. My list included taking out the trash and unloading the dishwasher. Plus, I set up the cards that our families sent so we can open them tonight. Not too difficult, so I had a little time to spare.

The anniversary mood and cold weather inspired me to make the sweater that I plan on making for Paul (he knows about this because I had to explain why it took me 9 hours to get home from Fishersville). This is the very one for which evolved into the all-day alpaca chase on the way home from Virginia last week. Paul if you are reading this, don't read any further or you will see the sweater design, fiber and everything. It's ok if you don't want to be surprised, but I know how you like a surpise...

This is the pattern that I got from Carole's because she suggested that it would be much easier to make a sweater like this as a beginner sweater maker, than to mess with knitting each piece separately and sewing together like I had tried in the "biceps sweater." This one you knit from the neck down in one piece on circular needles. Just what I need!

Here is the lovely alpaca fiber I bought from Shirley at Misty Farms. I sneeze every time I open the bag because it is alpaca fiber in the raw and needs a bath. Tomorrow night when Paul is in Ohio I will commence the washing ritual. This is not the most fun part of fiber preparation and I would personally skip this step and go straight to the clean stuff, but 1) it's cheaper to buy it this way 2) alpaca is pricey 3) it's a relatively clean fiber as it has no grease and so is not too labor intensive. Shirley gave me some simple instructions for washing it in the washing machine, leaving out the agitation step to avoid felting. I'll post the steps tomorrow so you can see.

I better get ready to go out to dinner, Paul should be home soon. I think we concluded on an Italian restaurant which might require a little dressing up as opposed to the other option which was Quaker Steak and Lube (a little more casual as the name suggests- gas station turned steak-n-burger joint).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bricks and Scones

Our home is being built unbelievably fast now, it seems. On Saturday we went to meet with the builders for a walk-through inspection of electrical works and were surprised to see the exterior of the home nearly finishd! We are so excited with how it is looking.

Saturday was such a busy day with errands and stuff, that we just vegged out on Sunday and ate scones with tea. We watched the old movie, "It's a Mad, Mad World," and I scrapbooked for a long time. Still working on pre-wedding pictures of 2004.
This scone recipe is really good if you want something classic and simple to have with jam and whipped cream:

Classic Cream Scones


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins (optional).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, lightly butter a baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and distribute over flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using two knives in a scissor fashion or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, mix cream, egg and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Stir until combined. Drop 2" rounds of dough from spoon onto cookie sheet for a rough look, or pat dough to a 1/2" thickness on a floured surface and use a glass to cut out rounds from the dough. Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove baking sheet and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing scones. Serve warm with whipped cream and jam. Leftovers, if there are any, can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Rest of the Hiking Pictures

No words necessary - the beauty speaks for itself!

End of St. Mary'sTrail (Waynesboro area, VA)

Driving Home in a Roundabout Way

Let me tell you the story of my drive home from Virginia. I got a decent start at 8:30 loading the car and grabbing breakfast. Feeling ambitious, I asked the front desk about the local alpaca farm that was supposedly "minutes from the hotel." The lady told me some easy directions that I thought I could handle, and then some directions to a larger farm further down the freeway in the direction I was heading to get to NC. So I started off to the local place since I didn't want to make a day of it. The winding road was scenic and full of farms, but none that indicated an alpaca residence. The nicely paved road suddenly turned to dirt, but I persevered until it dead-ended at a busy cross-street that was not supposed to be there. In the end, I turned around and headed back to the freeway leading to home.

As I drove along, I kept my eye out for this other larger farm that was supposed to be outside of Lexington, off the freeway-- so close you can see it as you drive by. By the time I got to the heart of Lexington I had still no sight of an alpaca farm nor any signage. However, there was a sign that led to the visitor's center of Lexington, and as I'm not one to give up on a mission once it's in my head, I had to find out from the center if there was indeed a farm nearby.

At the visitor's center, a kind lady named Naomi told me that yes, there was a farm back up the 81 freeway (from the direction I had just come) and she drew on the map how to get there. During the conversation I found out she has a herd of Finn sheep which she shears and sells the wool. So I got her info in case I may someday like to try spinning Finn sheep wool. I got back in the car and debated whether it was a good idea to hunt down this farm or not. Since I've already invested some time, might as well. It was only 20 minutes of backtracking...

40 minutes later I was on another country road that had narrowed down to one lane and felt the intuitive feeling that I have somehow missed it. Noticing a car close behind me, I pulled over to let them pass, but the lady pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. "Honey, are you lost?"

"Yes," I laughed, "I'm looking for an alpaca farm. Do you know where one is?"

"Oh mercy, no. But I'm heading to a yarn store down the lane. Follow me and we can ask there."

So we drove another 10 minutes or so down the country lane. We drove across a very narrow bridge with no railings, over a very small creek, and I thought I was going to either break the little bridge, or miss it altogether. But me and the car made it across in one piece. I got out of my car and the woman was waiting with her hand stretched out to shake mine and introduced herself as Libby. The owner of Orchardside Yarn Shop, Carole, came out and Libby introduced her to me.

Carole invited us both in for a cup of tea and a visit of the shop. Libby brought her knitting in for Carole to help her with and I looked around at all the fabulous yarn and patterns. In the end, I got an easy sweater pattern to attempt my second attempt at making Paul a sweater (my first sweater attempt had built-in biceps and a crooked neckline), and the required knitting needles. Before I left, Carole informed me that I had passed the alpaca farm on the way and told me to go back along the road but turn left into the driveway past the bank and the fire department in town. My downfall was I guess I had not realized that that was "town" and had gone sailing right past it!

After saying my goodbyes and many thanks, I hit the road in search of some alpaca fiber to make the sweater in my newly purchased pattern. Although I found the farm with no problems the second time around, no body was home but the alpacas. The sweet animals were very hospitable and came over to say hi, but they couldn't help me with the fiber aspect.

Now feeling like this was a challenge to be met regardless of whether it was supposed to be an all-day event, I called the backup number that Carole gave me of yet another alpaca farm. Shirley was home, bless her, and said, "come on over." She gave me directions which led me back down the 81 in the direction towards home, covering the area that I had just backtracked. After more winding roads and more detailed directions such as turn left at the bus stop past the shack, I made it there in 40 minutes.

A bit frazzled but happy to have conquered the quest, I arrived at Misty Farms and was greeted by alpacas and many miniature dogs yapping happily at my feet. Shirley graciously invited me into her home and studio and brought out bags of alpaca fiber, mohair, merino and then showed me all different uses for the different fibers in the shape of hats, scarves, sweaters, socks, mittens, etc. I chose a very nice grey alpaca blend and some white 25% alpaca/75% merino blend to blend with the alpaca on my drum carder. Shirley suggested that for making a man's sweater with some shape (hopefully not so much that it has it's own biceps), I should blend alpaca with wool. Alpaca drapes and is 7 times warmer than wool, but the wool holds it's shape.

In the end, I was at Shirley's for about an hour, learning new spinning secrets and checking out her many spinning wheels, fiber and fiber-related gadgets. I was on the road again by 1:00 and made it home by 6:00. From Fisherville to Charlotte, it should have taken my 5 hours, but I made it a 9.5 hour journey. It was so fun, and what a beautiful drive it was!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Call-Out to all Charlotte Spinners

Hi All, and good morning. Slowly I'm coming to my senses and am rounding up the energy to get packing for the drive home. I'm looking forward to this drive because this time I'll be doing it in the daylight on the way back as opposed to the 5 hours in the dark that I drove getting here. My camera is on charge and I'm allowing myself a few stops for photo opportunities of fall foliage.

The reason that I'm writing to y'all in this morning before I leave is that I felt the urgent need to make a little plea for help and better to get the word out sooner rather than later. I really miss spinning with other spinners. If there are any Charlotte, NC readers that know of a good spinning guild in the area and contact info so I can find out meeting dates/times please let me know! You can leave a comment on my blog or email me from my profile. Thanks so much!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Socializing Galore

Whenever I'm on these group projects at work, I feel like I'm back in school working on my bachelor's degree in geology. I think there are a few factors that contribute to make it feel that way:
  1. We are outdoors working for many consecutive hours in a row (sometimes 12+), which is somewhat unusual in normal society
  2. There is a presence of other geologists besides myself
  3. We are working really hard to complete a project
  4. Nothing happens without teamwork
  5. I'm working with people who seem younger than they really are. For example field people seem to be perpetually college-age even if they are 38 and have 3 kids.
  6. Social hour(s) afterwards is mandatory

Two of our fun team members on our hike this evening

I loved going on field projects for school, and I find that these real-world work projects can inspire the same feelings that school did, both good and not so good. They can be stressful at times and I'll long for them to be finished. Yet, satisfaction prevails most of the time and a sense of adventure, excitement of seeing new places, and enjoying the company of unique folks almost always accompanies it.

Tonight is my last night here in Virginia and I'm looking forward to coming home, for I miss Paul, and the birds have been on their own the last three days. But this project was a memorable one for the social life that we had after work. I liked this group of four, which turned into six one night when we were joined by two others working on the same site but different project. We went bowling one night, out to the movies the next, and this evening we even went on a hike. No alpaca farm visit was scheduled in the end, but that's ok. There's always next time....

I'll post more pictures of our hike-- maybe tomorrow. I'm zonked and need to go to bed!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Afternoon Tea for Two

We are loving the cooler weather of fall, and along with it comes one of Paul's other favorite pasttimes besides internet surfing for collectible Star Wars: drinking tea. Last weekend's High Tea at the Biltmore opened the season for us and so all the boxes of tea have come out of the cupboard. Since that event when our tea stash was rediscovered, I brought some of my Traditional Medicinal's Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat to comfort a fellow tea-drinking co-worker who had larangitis and I have been sipping some of my favorites such as Celestial Seasoning's "Sleepytime" tea, Trader Joe's "Bedtime"tea (notice any patterns) and just plain echinacea. Paul, being a traditionalist, has a favorite that he sticks with: English Breakfast.
I am not a tea snob by any means, and will dunk my teabag straight into a mug of cold water and microwave it (if I'm at work), but the best flavors seem to blend the good old fashioned way: steeped slowly in a teapot. 9 times out of 10 I drink it out of a mug, but if there's a few extra minutes to spare I like to go whole hog. China teacups on saucers really adds to the elegance of a nice relaxing tea.
We have a china pattern by Wedgewood, called English Cottage, that we have been collecting since our wedding when we were so kindly given a tea set. The tea set is probably my favorite part of our china collection, but Paul and I keep adding to our stash by finding pieces on Ebay that we can't turn down, especially since our pattern was discontinued just after we got married. We have two teapots so we can each enjoy whatever tea we "fancy" as Paul would say.
After the relaxing Tea for Two that we had, I left for Fisherville, Virginia where I will be working this week. It is a fun group that I will be sampling with. I hadn't met any of them until today, but by golly we seem like fast friends already. There are potential plans in the workings for evenings of bowling, skating, movies, miniature golf and, believe it or not, they are already working at how to get us a tour at the nearby Alpaca Farm after work for my sake. I don't know how we can possibly be coming home with any money if we have a social calendar like this, but how fun!
In all truthfulness, the time change has messed with us all so despite the fun plans, everyone was yawning and had to painfully admit they were too tired for anything exciting. My new spinning wheel has been whirling like crazy tonight and with potential alpaca fiber in another day or two- life is sweet! The only thing I could wish for is for Paul to be here with me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

South of the Border

We had a slow start this morning considering we set the alarm clock for 7:30. We were thinking: better to keep as close to our weekday schedule as possible so that the Monday morning wake up at 5:45 doesn't give us a swift kick in the pants. 7:30 came and went, and it wasn't until 8:30 that we finally got up. Oh well, so much for that plan!

We had an 11:30 appointment with our home sales agent, but we still mosied about in the morning- I spun the last ball of wool for Trish in hopes of getting it sent to her today, and Paul did his favorite sitting around pasttime- checking out Star Wars collectibles on the internet. By 10:30 we were running to get ready and luckily made it south of the border (South Carolina), being only 10 minutes late- still not ideal, but better than I thought.
We signed our paperwork for some changes to the original plan. We decided to have added a coffered ceiling in the living room and upgrading our cabinets with a beautiful cocoa glaze.
While we were at it, we stopped by the house to take more pictures.

Our beautiful view from the master bathtub

Paul has been keeping a video journal of the whole process complete with video footage of all the electrical sockets and wiring so we know where not to nail our pictures on the wall (he is an engineer so thinks of these little details).

The windows and doors have all been put in (except garage doors). It even goes well with the green paper I think. The paper is growing on me.

In the end, we never made it to the grocery store, the post office to mail the wool (they close at 3:00 on Saturdays we found out) or the helmet store. There's always next weekend! We have some important things to take care of tonight: baking a pumpkin pie and watching a movie. We need to enjoy some rest this weekend because I leave tomorrow afternoon for Virginia and Paul leaves Tuesday morning for Seattle. So in the next week if you don't hear much from this neck of the woods, you'll know why.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Drum Carder in Pieces

A month or so ago I had promised to find and post the pictures of my drum carder in the making. I am kicking myself now for not taking more pictures during the process, so this is not really very helpful for anyone who is looking for step-by step instructions. A lot of it was trial and error anyway, but if anyone is looking for some pointers of what to do and what not to do, let me know and I'll try and help.
Once I ordered the carding cloth, I made both drums and the drive wheels. This was the hard part because we don't have a lathe or a drill press or a router. Once the drums were made, I built the box around them to house everything.

Fully assembled-- my favorite part is the door gap, brush insulator thingy that I got from Home Depot, and cut down to size. It serves as the brush to pack the fibers tightly onto the large drums. It works like a champ!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Our New Lantern Named Jack O

"Oh, Bats," said I yesterday afternoon. "I better start peddling home early today." With the excitement of trick or treating in the air, I felt the mood of festivities sweeping the city and wanted to get home and start dinner so that we could eat the second Paul got home from work. Why? Pumpkin carving of course!

Paul had bought a pumpkin last week and specialized pumpkin carving tools, along with patterns to use for designing. He also bought ingredients for us to make a pumpking pie, which we will probably do this weekend.

After dinner, we cleared the counters, lined up the instruments and chose our pumpkin pattern (we were going to go with a traditional Jack look, but decided to try one of the elaborate designs).

Scoopin out the innards

Time to get serious-- we worked simultaneously so we could get the intricate pattern carved before midnight.

Bragging time! I have to admit that even though we didn't come up with this creation ourselves, this is the best lantern I have ever been a part of making!