Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chaco Canyon

We got there late and left early, but we were all awake the entire time, and I'm glad we went. (I'll talk a little in another post about why I'm so happy we were all awake all day yesterday.)

Things you should know about Chaco Canyon-
There are loads of ruins that are easily accessibly, even if you only have a small amount of time in the park.
There are petroglyphs to take a gander at.
The last 17 miles of the road into the park is not paved, and the last 12 miles is not gravel. That last 17 miles takes a good 45 minutes if you're not in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
There is camping, but only a few spots. I think we'd like to go back and do some camping.
Dogs are allowed in the park, but not at any of the archaeological sites, which means they're not allowed on most of the trails.
Chaco Canyon is a dark site, and they have astronomy programs April-October. This was the main reason we went, but Xavier started shutting down as it was getting dark, so we left before it was full dark. Luckily for us, we had that hour long trip back to the main road, so we stopped at the end of that, got out and enjoyed the stars for a few seconds (it was cold!) before we got back on the road home.
This is the same outfit he wore the last time we were at this restaurant.






This house looks like it is a face.



See the tiny people dressed in brown in a sea of brown? Those are my people.




Petroglyphs are so cool!!!!!




The intrepid explorer. A couple years ago, he wouldn't have even bothered trying to come up here. It doesn't look like it, but the canyon wall just falls away about a foot in front of him.

This may be my favorite color combination.

See? Side of the canyon.






Friday, October 20, 2017

Ch-Ch-Ch-Change

We knew when we moved into this apartment that the kitchen was tiny and we would need more storage space. We took one look at the size of the refrigerator, and started trying to figure out where we could fit a freezer or extra refrigerator. (At the time, nowhere.) We didn't think about needing more counter space to be able to work until we actually started using the kitchen.

This summer, I came up with the bright idea of making the balcony our dining room by moving our table out there and adding a space heater. This has worked out well. For several months, we went without anything in the dining room except a small table. A couple weekends ago, we finally got a small freezer to put meat in, and everyone rejoiced. This was quickly followed by two rolling tables that are just under countertop hight and can be used as workspace. And the whole world rejoiced. As the crowning glory, Xavier suggested adding a gaming table to the space so that we can leave ongoing games out, specifically games that we can play as we walk by, and the Gabriel agreed to bring his chess board out of the dark. The two of them can frequently now be heard sitting at the chess board, talking and laughing after everyone else is in bed. That is this mom's dream.
Putting together a cart.
Dominic is happy enough about this that he let me take his picture.
When pushed together, the tables form a nice sized surface, and even have barstools to provide us with a breakfast area.
The tables tuck away nicely, with the barstools underneath, beside the freezer.
An ongoing games, with a card to flip to tell whose turn it is, and a card to tell when someone's in check. People just walk up and play whichever side's turn it is. Then, if there's been an abysmal move, they ask if I made a move. 

Actually bringing the inside outside. I'll post more pictures after I complete the transition out there.

*And, yes, we've actually had smaller kitchens, but we also weren't really cooking back then. Also, let's face it, we got completely spoiled by the giant kitchen we just left.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Donors Choose

Excellent statue just because- Look at the detail on that shawl.

Have I told you about Donors Choose? I feel like I have, but today I have a reason to talk about them again. Donors Choose is like Go Fund Me for teachers. This organization allows teachers to submit proposals to them to be funded. The proposal gets reviewed and approved before being let loose on the public to acquire funding. I believe that all students needs should be provided for by the general public. I think this speaks to the general welfare part of our constitution. Right now, we just don't have that; until we do, Donors Choose is an excellent way to support our students and teachers directly.

The reason I'm coming to you today about this is that I have a friend who teaches in a school with many English language learners, with 3/4 of the student body being low income. They need rich literature to further their education. She is trying to get funding to pay for two sets of books that would provide all the fourth grade students at her school with literature. Today, Donors Choose is matching any donations made as part of their #FillEveryShelf campaign.

Let's get her project funded. Even if you can only give a small amount, please consider donating to this campaign today. That money will be doubled and help fund the campaign faster. If you cannot donate, or even if you can, please consider sharing this information with others. Thank you.

Go to Donors Choose to donate!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Caught by the Scot- A Review

*I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


I received my copy of Caught by the Scot by Karen Hawkins a couple weeks ago, but knowing myself the way I do, waited until Friday when I had no pressing homework to sit down and start the book. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked and hard pressed to put the book down to go to class Friday afternoon. We had a trip to Albuquerque planned for Saturday, yet I still stayed up late reading. It wasn't until Gary started complaining about the light that I closed the book and went to sleep. Luckily, Gary got up before I absolutely had to and I was able to roll over and finish the book Saturday morning.

To be honest, I have not found a character of Hawkins' that I don't like. This holds true in this book. The main characters, Connor and Thea, are strong and like each other. There is tension, both sexual and emotional, that has to be resolved in order to make their romance work out. This is what makes for a good romance book in my opinion. One of my favorite things about Hawkins' writing is her sense of humor. I can expect to have at least a couple moments in every book where I am laughing out loud while my family looks at me with raised eyebrows. This book does not disappoint in this category. Humor is prevalent throughout the book. I especially enjoyed the way Connor, a ship's captain, used nautical terms and references frequently. They were scattered throughout the book, so I didn't get to the place where I thought they were overdone.
He laughed softly and lit his cigar. Sparring with her was as exhilarating as a sea battle.
A little about the plot- Connor and his brothers have been given an ultimatum. Get married or you don't get your inheritance. Connor sets out to marry his longtime friend who, unbeknownst to him, has been in love with him for years. Unfortunately for Connor, Thea has decided to marry someone else. The battle is on for Connor to convince Thea that he is the right man for her to marry. Obstacles are thrown in the lovers path, but as in any good romance, everything works out right in end. The journey is the story in any good romance, right?

Hawkins' ability to bring humor to her characters' lives through dialogue or situation makes for enjoyable reads every time. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Made to Marry series.

genre- historical romance set in the Regency time period, with the location split between Scotland and England

sex- (because some readers of romances need to know this sort of thing) There IS sex in this book. I would not call it explicit, and it is not the core of the book.

series: Made to Marry

Monday, August 21, 2017

College Kid Quote

Me- The Illiad is boring. I mean, it's a good story, but it's such a rough read.
Him- Oh, I don't think so.
Me- You haven't read it since 5th grade!
Him- I took it to field school with me.
Me- How long did it take you to read it?
Him- I read it in the evenings one week. I started it Monday and finished Thursday.
Me- Ummmmmmm

Friday, August 4, 2017

Insta-Pants

I'm all about fast, easy, and easy to wear. These wrap pants were easy to make from a tutorial, fast even though I changed a lot, and they are so incredibly comfortable. I used this tutorial and heavily modified it.


This is a pair of wrap pants. They're based on Tai fishing pants.


I love the flowiness of these pants.

I made two major modifications to the tutorials. These pants are supposed to tie in both front and back. I didn't want a knot/bow in the back when I sit down, so I installed a button and hook and eye. It reduces the flexibility of the garment, since I'll have to move the button if I gain or lose weight, but I'm happy with the result. 

The second, more important, modification I made was to add pockets. I am absolutely refusing to make any skirts or pants without pockets. Figuring out where to put the pockets took a little thinking, since these pants have two pieces that overlap. I ended up putting them on, pulling the piece that wraps to the front back, and sewing pockets directly onto the under piece. It worked perfectly. When I'm not pulling the front back, you can't see the pockets, and they are perfect.

These took me a total of 3.5 hours, including figuring out the tutorial, cutting, ironing, sewing, hand sewing a buttonhole, and adding pockets. I think if I make them again, and I probably will, they should only take about an hour plus the button hole. (I've got to get my sewing machine fixed!)

Friday, July 28, 2017

A New Skirt

Nine years ago, a friend suggested the book Sew What! Skirts by Francesca DenHartog. She had been making loads of skirts using the book and thought others would enjoy it. I bought it in May of 2008. Then, I never made a thing. When we moved, it got lost. Maybe, I gave it to my sister. Who knows? I just know I didn't have it anymore, and I wanted to use it. Finally. So, when I found one at Half Price Books, I picked it up, even though that was not what I was there for. I'm so glad I did. I made a skirt! Without a pattern!!! I love how it turned out. Had my sewing machine not decided to be angry at me, the skirt would have taken only a couple hours start to finish. Sadly, I had to make the buttonholes by hand, so it took longer. Those buttonholes did give me an incredible sense of accomplishment, though. I'm excited to try another skirt option. I have fabric that needs to be used, and a dearth of clothing, so I need to sew myself a wardrobe.

Pockets!

I added darts to deal with a swayback.
*Shirt is from Threadless. Photos were taken at the Fort Lewis College campus because we live right down the hill, and it's beautiful.
Affiliate link. If you buy this book, I'll get a small portion of your sale.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hand-stitched Buttonholes

Today, I thought I'd show you how to hand-stitch a buttonhole in case you need to make buttonholes and don't have a sewing machine, or yours decides to be difficult like mine. This is a photo heavy post, as it is (mostly) a photo tutorial. At the end, I do include a video I made of how to make a blanket stitch for the purposes of the buttonhole. Enjoy.


First, you need to mark your buttonhole placement. Personally, on this particular project, I had no problem just drawing it on my fabric. On a more delicate fabric, I might not have done that. Use straight pins to keep the edges of the buttonhole stable until you have stay-stitches in place.

Cut your hole. I start the cut by folding the fabric in half and cutting a small hole. Then, I slide my scissors* tip into the starter hole and cut the rest of the hole.
Stay stitch the one end.


Insert your needle into the edge of the stitch line, while holding your thread up and out of the way.


Pull your needle out through the hole.


Make certain that the needle comes out over the working thread.


Pull it snug. You want that loop to sit snugly, but not tightly against the edge of the hole.


Once you get to the end of one side, make a couple stay stitches at the other end. This is what your buttonhole will look like after one round of stitches down one side. Turn your work and continue down the other side. Make certain that when you pull the needle point up through the hole on this edge that you don't catch the other side's stitches. Repeat all of this a second time to make a nice tight buttonhole.


This is what your buttonhole should look like when you're finished. You'll notice that the loops make the edges of the buttonhole.

A video of me doing blanket stitch for a buttonhole.


*Do you say scissor or scissors? I'm just curious.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Just Keep Knitting. Just Keep Knitting.

When I started school in January, I was only 3 blocks away from being done with Gabriel's Geekalong blanket. Now, I'm only 2 blocks away from being done. Argh! Really, though, I love school. And, while school was going on, it was pretty much the only thing I was doing. That's just one of the realities of managing fatigue. I do think I'll get done knitting his blocks before school starts, and probably even start joining them. Here's hoping I can finish all three blankets in time for Christmas. Honestly, I was on track to finish them for Christmas last year before we moved. Moving just takes up so much time and energy! It's a good thing I like moving.

This is a queen sized bed. The joining technique I'll be using will make the blanket 8 inches wider and 14" taller. We may add an extra block and make it 5x5 instead.

This is the stack of blocks completed for all 3 blankets.

My most recent finishes.

I had to buy more stitch markers to make these.

Sometimes, I get a weird need to sew, and go off the knitting rails. This week, I'm making myself a skirt. It was a really easy skirt to make, right up until I got to the buttonholes. There's a reason I have two sewing machines. That reason is that the machine I've had for years keeps getting messed up. Something is wrong with the housing for the bobbin case and it doesn't allow the machine to work properly. I've had it in and out of the shop. Out of desperation, I bought a new machine. Happily, my new machine is a dream to work with. Sadly, because of the type of machine it is, it only does straight stitch. So, I'm doing my buttonholes by hand. It's actually been rather satisfying. I am anxious to finish it, though. I suspect I will do so today.



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