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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Week Crochet Challenge - Week 3

Yay! I did it! I started and finished Week 3 before Week 4 begins. Woohoo!  It really is the little things sometimes, isn't it? 

So, Week 3 is: Celebrate the First Day of Spring (March 20, 2014) by Crocheting a Flower, or Make a Project that has a Flower Motif or Theme. Well, it sure doesn't feel like spring in my neck of the woods. Today it's snowing. Really not my idea of a good time, but least the roads are clear...for now anyway.

There are so many gorgeous patterns for flowers out there that I debated for a bit on how I wanted to proceed with this week's challenge. A couple weeks ago I checked out the book, 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet : Beautiful Patterns to Mix and Match for Afghans, Throws, Baby Blankets, and More by Betty Barnden from the library, and let me tell you it's worth looking at!  With every page turn, it was, "Oooh, I love this!" I'm really not one for buying books, especially when there are so many free patterns online, but I think having this book in my crochet library would be a welcome addition. So many project possibilities! Where would I start? Truthfully, I forgot all about the book until now *sigh*.

But, that does get me back to Week 3 of the challenge.  Flowers.  What to do, what to do? Only one thing to do...look at my stash. "Hello, my name is Sheri, and I'm a yarn addict." There, I said it. I didn't even realize it until I started crocheting again, but I LOVE yarn. The color, the texture, the way to slides along the hook, the way it takes on a whole new personality with each design. I do have a problem though, besides the addiction I mean. I have all of this great yarn, but I don't want to use it! Crazy, I know. Yarn was created to be used. It wants, no needs, to be used. Yarn does no good sitting on a shelf getting dusty. So why do I not want to help it fulfill its desires? Maybe it's because once I use it, it will be gone. But that's not true. It won't be gone. It will just have a new need. No longer will it need to be used to create something. Yarn's new need will be to bring warmth, comfort and joy to those who use it in whatever way, shape or form it has now taken. Its purpose remains the same, though. Its purpose will forever be what it was created to be...yarn. Even when it changes shape and form, it is still yarn. Still fibers wound together. No chemical reaction takes place to change its being when it touches the crochet hook or knitting needle. Only a physical transformation into something beautiful, something more beautiful than when it was originally created.

I purchased yarn in carrot, coffee, dark sage and cornmeal for a Melinda Miller sampler blanket that I'm working on. After the first three squares, I decided that these colors were too dark and ordered others to continue the project. This yarn had been sitting on the shelf for about a month, unloved, when I came across this week's challenge and this pattern at Nandina's Place. Perfect!  It was the first time I used a pattern that wasn't in US crochet terms, but it is very well written and I didn't have a moment's trouble converting the stitches. It worked up very quickly, and I'm very pleased with the finished product; however, I really should start blocking my projects before posting. Anyway, here's my finished Week 3 challenge:

Sunflower Crochet Square by Nandina

All this talk about yarn got me thinking. Aren’t we, as humans, a little bit like yarn? Just like yarn, we were created with needs and a purpose.  We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), to worship and honor God (1Samuel 2:30, Revelation 4:11), to fear God and keep His commands (Ecclesiastes12:13), to love one another (John 15:12).  Just like yarn, our needs will change as we go through life. Our needs as newlyweds will vary greatly from our needs as empty nesters. Our needs as parents of toddlers will vary greatly from our needs as parents of teenagers. Just like yarn, our lives will get tangled and come unraveled at times. Our shape and form will change as we grow and mature, but our purpose will remain the same - to know and enjoy God. In John 15:16, Jesus says that we did not choose Him, but He chose us to fulfill a purpose. A purpose to love one another, to bear fruit (be a witness for Christ), to keep His commands. Just as we are the keeper of our yarn, to keep it smooth and free of kinks, God is our keeper. While our lives will never be without bumps and knots along the way, God promises that He has a plan for us, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). God promises peace, even in the toughest times (Philippians 4:6-7). Just as a ball of yarn is transformed into a beautiful flower or lovely blanket, our bumpy, knotted life is transformed into something beautiful when we allow God to be our keeper.

"And we know that in all things
 God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
~ Romans 8:28 NIV

Friday, March 21, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Yes, it's Friday, and this post is titled "Thankful Thursday", but it's been quite a week! 

Daughter #2 broke her toe on Monday.  She and #1 Son were playing kickball in the basement, and actually getting along - something I relish with a happy mom's heart, because it seems few and far between these days!  They're 12 and 14, and are complete opposites in many ways.  Plus, they can't help but pick on each other...EVERY DAY it feels like!  But I digress.  Daughter #2 went to kick the ball and missed, kicking the back of #1 Son's leg.  She couldn't put any pressure on her foot, couldn't stand or walk Monday afternoon, so we iced, elevated and Motrined (yes, that is a word, as of right now) the rest of the day.  She still couldn't bear weight Tuesday morning, so off to the walk-in clinic we went.  I didn't even try her regular pediatrician, knowing that if she needed x-rays we'd be sent somewhere else anyway.  After three hours at the walk-in clinic, the results came back - fractured 4th right toe at the growth plate.  Great!  We were fortunate enough to get an appointment with the orthopedic doctor that afternoon, and after almost three hours there Daughter #2 had a beautiful, multi-colored blue/pink/yellow cast.  Even though most toe injuries only require good support through the use of sturdy shoes, the ortho felt that since the fracture was at the growth plate and since Daughter #2 isn't finished growing yet, a cast would be the best option for healing.  The toe/foot would be protected from further injury and it would have the support it needed.  Thankfully, the doctor feels she only needs to be in the cast until the end of the month.  She's getting the hang of walking in the boot and doesn't think she'll need the help of the crutches much longer.  She's even said she thinks she'll be able to manage riding the school bus next week, instead of being taken to and picked up from school.  

So Wednesday was a normal day.  Daughter #2 was at school, I was at work...normal, right?  (Backstory: The Hubster hadn't been feeling well for the past couple weeks, so he finally went to the doctor on Tuesday.  They did blood work and said they'd call with the results).  This is where Wednesday becomes less than normal.  The nurse called him Wednesday saying, "You need to get to the ER now", as his enzyme levels were through the roof.  Ok, if that's not enough to scare you, I don't know what is!!  We got to the ER about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, and it was PACKED! For the middle of the week, I couldn't believe how busy it was.  It took us about 45 minutes to be called back, and the doctor was right in to see him.  Ordered blood work and an ultrasound.  IV started, blood taken, and then we waited.  And waited.  And waited!  Finally, about 9:30 they take him back for the u/s.  He gets back to the ER room and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No doctor, no nurse, no nothing.  Around 11:00, the ER doc finally comes in and says that he's still waiting on the u/s results, but the blood work shows enzyme levels over 1800!  After doing the little bit of research I could, normal lipase levels should be between 0-160.  No wonder he was feeling lousy!  Shortly after that, the admitting doctor came in and said that the diagnosis was pancreatitis and that he wouldn't be going home.  We sort of had a feeling when we left for the hospital earlier that night that they might keep him, so we were packed and ready (unfortunately).  Finally, about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, a nurse came in with transfer papers so he could be moved upstairs.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited, AGAIN!  About 2:30 a.m. we were finally upstairs and in a room.  The Hubster is hooked up to an IV for fluids and given Dilaudid for pain.  At least he was able to sleep a little bit.  Me...not so much.  Anyone who has been in the hospital with a loved one knows what I mean.  The "recliner" chair was less than comfortable, but I tried to make it work - for about 2 hours.  I couldn't take it anymore, so I climbed into the empty, second bed in the room.  It was the one time I was thankful to NOT be in a private room in a hospital.  I was able to sleep about another hour, between the beeping of machines and nurses coming in and out taking the Hubsters vitals.  At least this part of the floor was fairly quiet otherwise.  

By Thursday morning, his lipase level was down to 1000, still well above where it should be, but coming down at least.  IV all day Thursday and nothing by mouth.  More blood work and glucose checks.  We finally got the u/s results showing no gallstones (which can contribute to pancreatitis), or anything else that shouldn't be in there.  With a family history of cancer, the C word was in the back of our minds, so we both breathed a sigh of relief when we got the good results.    

So here it is Friday, and we're still in the hospital.  We've gotten the final report from the doctor at last.  Because the Hubster does not abuse alcohol, has not had an injury to his abdomen, doesn't have gallstones, and has not been to Trinidad recently, the doctor feels that his pancreatitis was caused by the combination of medicines he's taking for his Diabetes.  ** SIDENOTE: 24 cases of pancreatitis were reported in Trinidad after patients had been stung by the scorpion, Tityus trinitatis ** His lipase level has returned to normal and he's been ok'd to start on a "clear liquid" diet.  So, the IV has been stopped and the Hubster's happily slurping on yellow Jello and lemon Italian Ice, and beef broth as I type.  He didn't like the broth.  I don't think he's ever been so happy to be on "clear liquids", especially since he hadn't eaten anything solid since lunch time Wednesday!  The whole purpose of IV fluids only was to allow the pancreas to reset itself, basically.  Allow it to stop producing food-digesting enzymes, and help it heal.  The doctor is putting the Hubster back on insulin and removing one of the combo pills he has been on.  Now, we're waiting on someone to come talk to us about managing the insulin, since we've never had to deal with that aspect of Diabetes before.  The Hubster's always just taken pills.  Hopefully, adjusting his meds, diet and referring him to an Endocrinologist for continued care will keep his pancreas happy.  

So this week I am thankful.  I am thankful that Daughter #2 and #1 Son didn't make foot to foot contact, or I could have two kids in casts.  I am thankful that Daughter #2's injury wasn't worse than it was.  I am thankful that the Hubster's u/s didn't show signs of gallstones or anything worse.  I am thankful that a change in meds/diet should be all that's needed to make the Hubster healthy again.  I am thankful that I have a God who is always with us, even when we don't have a clue what's going on.  I am thankful for family and friends looking out for us, praying for us, and taking care of the kids while we've been in the hospital.  I am thankful for the many blessings that God bestows upon us, each and every day!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!"
~ Psalm 107:1 ESV

"But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out is roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Project from the Heart - The Boston Marathon Scarf Project

National Crochet Month...what a great excuse to do more crochet - like I need an excuse, right? I've been busy keeping up with my CALs, and I've added some new projects to my queue, which I'll share with you soon! I can't seem to help myself really. The are so many great things out there to make, and so many great people to make them for.  One of my newest editions: the Old South Church Scarves for Boston Marathon Runners. 

I am a helper, I always have been. So when something comes along that pulls at my heartstrings, I'm all over it. Such is the case with the scarf project.  The Old South Church, in honor and rememberance of those lost at last year's Boston Marathon, started a project to collect knitted and crocheted scarves to "wrap each runner in love".  On Easter Sunday, the Old South Church will hold a Blessing of the Athletes during their morning services (which they have done since 2008) and present a scarf to each runner present.  I can't think of a better way to show my support and prayer for safety and strength than by something homemade from the heart.

I decided to use Red Heart Super Saver in #324 Bright Yellow and #385 Royal for my scarf. I did a simple ribbed pattern of double crochet, alternating five rows royal, three rows yellow, two rows royal, three rows yellow, and finishing up with five rows royal.  I had a TON of ends to weave in, since I didn't do it as I went along, which was very time consuming.  I think it turned out great though, if I do say so myself, and I hope it will bring a smile to a runner's face.

Wouldn't you like to make a scarf to bless a runner in this year's Boston Marathon? Check out the Old South Church facebook page, the Ravelry group Boston Marathon Scarf Project, or the church website for more information.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March is National Crochet Month. Who Knew??

Ok, LOTS of people probably realized that March is National Crochet Month, but not me!  Thanks to Julie at Red Berry Crochet for creating the 52 Week Crochet Challenge in honor of National Crochet Month, and making me aware of the awesomeness of the month! Now I'm in the know.

Each week, there is a new challenge - from learning a new stitch to organizing your stash.  She's also created a Ravelry group to help us keep it all together.  You can find it here.  So far I've met a great bunch of ladies that I look forward to getting to know better as this challenge goes along.  You can follow their blogs from the links on the right under the "Are You Ready? Crochet Challenge" logo. Or join the group at Ravelry, which is a really cool knitting and crocheting site, by the way. You should check it out if you haven't already!

So what was the Week 1 Challenge?  How do you celebrate National Crochet Month?  Well, since I didn't know there was such a thing, just finding out about it was a good start, right? I also decided that I would try and crochet at least a little each day this month, and do better updating this blog.  Yeah, I know...I'm a little late getting around to posting this and we're already 13 days into the month, so I'm not doing so well with goal #2 at this point. There's still half a month left though, and there's always room for improvement so I'm hopeful.  As far as goal #1 is concerned, I've been able to keep up with that fairly well.  I use time duing my lunch hour to keep my hooks moving, and in the evening while watching TV.  I should say listening, because I have to keep an eye on the yarn and stitch count or else I end up with really strange looking objects!

As for Week 2? Start a crochet notebook, journal, scrapbook, or blog. Check! Woohoo! Got week 2 covered already.  I did actually start a “Current Crochet Projects” binder last week. No, I didn't cheat by looking ahead either.  It's a bright, pretty pink binder because white was just too boring for a notebook full of beautiful crochet projects.  Plus, I'm a girl and I like pink!  Don't judge.  Anyway, I was getting confused with which blocks belonged with which CALs, and trying to keep straight just how many ongoing projects I do have, so I needed something to help me along.  I have a page listing project name, designer, date started, date completed, which pattern(s) is used and where it can be found (book, website, etc.), hook size, and yarn brand/name/color.  I also have a printed copy of the current object pattern I’m working on, and a picture of the FO (finished object) labled with pattern name, which CAL/project it’s for, and the date. Oh, and a picture of someone else's take on the project if I like their color placement or want to use it for inspiration, etc.  The projects are divided by tabs so I can keep it neat.  I plan on making another binder for completed projects, and probably dividing that by type of object - blanket, scarf, hat, etc. This might be overkill, but I’ve never done it before so it will most likely be a "try it and adjust as needed" kind of thing.  I think it will be a nice reminder of the time, effort and LOVE that I put into each project, and I hope to be able to see my crochet skills progress and improve over time.

Now that I'm caught up on Weeks 1 and 2, I should be ready to start Week 3 on time.  Hey, it might even get it's own blog entry.  You never know...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blocks and Bowling

Crochet blocks, that is.  Between traveling to Ohio for grandpa's birthday, and traveling to a bowling tournament this past weekend, I've had a little bit of time to work on my CIPs. 

A few weeks ago, Dad and I bowled in the Central Shenandoah Valley USBC Hall of Fame Tournament and didn't do too badly.  We placed 7th in Doubles, I placed 7th in Women's Singles, and I placed 6th in All Events (which takes your scores from Doubles, Singles, and Team and adds them all together)! I don't know exactly how many doubles/singles there were since the results haven't been posted to the website yet, but I'm still quite pleased.  Now the Virginia State Mixed Tournament in Richmond Saturday and Sunday was a completely different experience. Double/Singles weren't too bad, but Team was a nightmare! The lanes were not very forgiving, we couldn't get anything to carry, and we bowled lousy - about 300 pins BELOW our team average for the day. It's impossible to win anything that way. The tournament goes through the end of the month, so we won't have any results before the middle to end of March, I'm sure. At the end of the day we were still laughing and smiling so I guess it wasn't so bad. Plus, we went to Dairy Queen afterward, and ice cream makes everything better!

I did make some progress on the Red Heart Checkerboard Textures Throw while traveling. Woohoo! I'm using Lion Brand Pound of Love yarn in Antique White #099. The squares are so soft, and measure roughly 12x12 10x10. They're close enough that I think once it's pieced together it'll be ok. The next textured square doesn't come out until next week. Boo!
Cross-Stitch Square
Granny Square

I made a decision about the other crochet alongs...after looking at the Moogly crochet along more closely, I realized that the squares were much more intricate than at first glance, so I decided to only join the 2014 Block-A-Month Crochet Along. I am really enjoying the squares, and they make quick work. I've gone with Red Heart Super Saver in Buff #0334, Soft Navy #0387, Aran #0313 and Cafe Latte #0360.

There is one main square a month, one filler square, and one 6" square, so the choices really are endless. I've decided on the Lemony Lime Citrus Square, the Frostbloom 12" Afghan Square, and the Flower Tile Afghan Square so far. I've learned something, too. Squares aren't so bad afterall.

Lemony Lime Citrus Square

Frostbloom 12" Afghan Square

I love the texture of this square! It makes you just want to run your hands across it, doesn't it? So ruffley and soft! I'm really liking the the colors, too, and I just happened to have them on hand so I didn't have to make any special trips to the store before starting. That makes me and my pocketbook happy!

Frostbloom 12" Afghan Square

Flower Tile Afghan Square
The downside to these two crochet alongs is that the afghans won't be completed until December! AAAHH! Waiting is so hard! I may have to add some 6" squares to fill in the time. Or, um, I could just work on the CIPs that are anxiously awaiting my crochet hook...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Time really does fly...

Wow! It's been over a year since I posted anything. Seriously, where does time go? Oh yeah, I'm a full-time working mother...that explains it, at least a little.

The first thing I need to do is introduce you to my granddaughter, Karli.  She was born November 22, at 3:30 p.m., weighing 5 pounds 15 ounces and measuring 19 5/8" long. Perfect and healthy in every way! Oh, and mom recovered GREAT from her c-section (after two and a half days in labor!).

About 3 hours after birth:

Here she is at 6 weeks old:

And one more at two months:

Isn't she gorgeous?!?!?!! I think I'm starting to get the hang of this whole grandma thing, and I think I'm really going to enjoy it, too!

We spent this past weekend celebrating my grandpa's 95th birthday. It was great seeing my sister and my Ohio family again. Sadly, the visits are few and far between. With the addition of Karli, it made five generations - again! My oldest daughter (aka Karli's mom) made five generations on my dad's mom's side of the family. My great-grandma was 94 when my oldest was born, and my grandpa (dad's dad) was 94 when Karli was born. I think that's kinda cool.
On a different, but related note, I have started crocheting again. Related because I picked up my yarn and hook when I found out I was going to be a grandma. I have a few projects under my belt, and a few CIPs (crochets in progress). Karli has a beautiful blanket; my son-in-law and youngest daughter have scarves and I made one for myself, too; one lapghan for Soldiers’ Angels; an OSU afghan for my son; and, an afghan that I started years ago and lost the pattern for.

Last week, I was cruising around looking for patterns and discovered The Checkerboard Textures Throw Crochet Along at Red Heart. I fell in love and have finished the first square. I am really pleased with how it turned out, except for the fact that it is definitely NOT a 10x10 square like it's supposed to be! What do you think? I'm hoping that all my squares will turn out the same size and the afghan will still come together like it's supposed to.

My problem now is that I have found two more crochet-alongs that I am smitten with. First, the 2014 Block-A-Month CAL and then the Moogly CAL 2014.  I’m not even a huge fan of Granny Squares, but I do love a good challenge so I’ll probably be making three blankets (in addition to the other CIPs I have going) this year. You can never have too many projects going at once, right?? The BAM CAL only does one square a month, while Moogly does two, and Red Heart does four! Hmm...decisions, decisions...

Monday, December 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo bites the dust (and a recipe!)

Well, I tried. I tried to squeeze in 1,667 words each day last month. I tried and failed. Apparently, 24 hours is just not enough time to be a full-time wife, mom and Administrative Secretary, and a part-time taxi driver, doctor, dish washer, laundry attendant, cook & bottle washer, and novelist...get the idea? I am not giving up, no, I am just going to postpone this adventure for now. The thoughts are still swirling in my head and they'll eventually make it down on paper. Just not right now, maybe not in 6 months, but maybe next November when NaNoWriMo starts up again. We'll see...

Thanks to Pinterest I have hundreds of new recipes to try (as if my dozens and dozens of cookbooks didn't already have enough!). This one was a big hit at my Dad's 70th birthday party back in September, and I made it again today for our Christmas lunch at work.
Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
Thanks to Dori at Riches to Rags by Dori and Tonia at The Gunny Sack for this great recipe. They both have step-by-step pictures, by the way. I wasn't thinking "blog it" when I made them this morning or I would have taken some myself.
I did change the original recipe a touch this time and only used mozzarella cheese...ok, string cheese cut in pieces. You can get 7 perfect-sized pieces out of one piece of string cheese :) I also forgot the Parmesan - gasp! I know, I know...what is a pizza bite without Parmesan. Or Parmeesheean, as my Dad says. I didn't have any Italian seasoning either, so I just used oregano. Ack, I also brushed with butter after baking instead of egg before baking (oregano and garlic after baking as well) and baked at 400° for a tad longer than 20 minutes. Guess I changed it a bit more than a touch. Hope they taste ok! I'll let you know. They do look good though, don't they?
3 cans buttermilk biscuits, not the flaky kind (10 biscuits per can)
60 pepperoni slices
Block of cheese
1 beaten egg
Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
1 jar pizza sauce
1. Cut the block of cheese into 30 squares (1/2" - 3/4").
2. Flatten one biscuit and layer pepperoni, cheese, pepperoni.
3. Gather the edges of the biscuit around the filling, and squish gently to seal. Repeat with remaining biscuits, pepperoni and cheese.
4. Place pepperoni rolls in 9x13" baking dish. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder (or whatever you want really...see my note above).
5. Bake at 425° F for 18-20 minutes.
Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.