Tag Archives: weekend

March…didn’t happen?

It’s amazing how just when you get in a nice little groove with your favorite toddler, they decide to go and screw everything up.  In Simon’s case, this means dropping his nap.

 

That’s right, I now have a 20-month-old who, most days, is awake continuously from 8:00am to 8:00pm.  A 20-month-old who will not be dissuaded from this schedule, who would rather scream for an hour as I cuddle him, rub his tummy and sing every song known to man than deign to close his eyes at midday and potentially miss something Exciting.  And, not coincidentally, he is now a 20-month-old who nods off in the backseat when we go to pick Jeff up from work, and who has decided to fuss and hit and bite his way through the past several evenings.  I WONDER WHY.

 

Which means that today I’ve bought 10 minutes of silence this way:

I ordered a breadbox from Amazon the other day and it arrived this afternoon in a huuuuuuuuuuuge box.  The better to repurpose, eh?  Whoosh whoosh whoosh!

 

…aaaaaaand he’s moved on.  Now we’re back to staring at me and tugging at my sleeve in hopes I’ll let him go wreak havoc on the pantry.

 

Good thing he’s cute.

 

We’ve been up to a LOT of good adventures these past few weeks.  Rather than yammer about them in some huge blog post, you may as well just check out my Flickr photostream.  It’s not like a tremendous amount of narration is required anyway 😉

 

Jeff and I had been hoping to catch a matinee on Saturday but our sitter cancelled on us at the last minute so a change in plans was required.  We ended up making the trek up to Cleveland and visiting the science center.  It was well worth the trip 🙂

 

(That’s Jeff’s new profile pic on FB, too :))

 

Simon learned all about the building blocks of DNA:

And I impressed Jeff by remembering each base pair.  9th grade science FTW?  Though to be fair, I’m not sure DNA had been discovered yet when he was in high school 😉

 

The science center’s little kid play area had a ball pit with all sorts of buckets and pulleys (and a few kids who were definitely not under 6), so we plopped Simon in the middle of it and stood back to see what he thought:

Clearly he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  He just grabbed a few balls and froze, while dozens of others whizzed around him in the melee of tiny humanity.

 

The ramp/tube contraption off in the corner was more his speed 😉

Jeff and I are pretty sure he’d still be there sending that tennis ball whizzing around, if we hadn’t dragged him away after, oh, 6 or 7 hours.

 

But he was OK, because after that we found a slide!

He climbed the stairs all by himself (with Daddy spotting) and slid down all on his own, over and over.

 

He was a little trepidatious at first but made a friend who helped him along.

 

We escaped the kid’s area eventually, though, and found the physics exhibit that was a little bit more interesting for all of us.  I LOVE how much hands-on stuff this science center had, and how even on a snowy Saturday afternoon it wasn’t too crowded.

 

Planetary atmosphere simulations are still a liiiiiiiiittle bit above his level, though. 😉

 

But drums aren’t!

 

And this giant wall of gears was pretty much the best thing ever.

 

Of course, on the way back to Akron we got caught in an end-of-March “fuck you” from the weather (actually it was a quite pretty – 3-4″ of snow that pretty much melted on Sunday) that made for a little bit of nervous driving, as the highway department hadn’t prepped the roads at all.

 

This week has been pretty busy, but also low-key.  Errands (I went to Home Depot yesterday morning and got the supplies for a couple kid projects, and some grass seed and stuff to try and make this place have a modicum of curb appeal for when the homeowners list it for sale this summer), laundry, the usual.  It was supposed to rain all day on Tuesday but turned out to be almost 70* and sunny, so I was able to hang out two loads of laundry on the line (first time since, what, November?) and Simes and I went on a long walk that culminated in approximately 45 hours of swinging at the park.  I made him push his own stroller, because I am cruel like that.

 

It’s pouring rain all day today so we probably won’t get to go out (maybe to stomp some puddles in our dragon boots if it lets up a bit), but I got this picture yesterday, which proves that spring really IS coming to northern Ohio 🙂

Hopefully this weekend the weather will cooperate and I can rake up the last of the leaves, maybe get that grass seed down, and get things ready for spring.  Until then, I’m going to go make some energy bars with my sous chef and maybe dig into that blueberry bread I baked yesterday for Jeff’s breakfasts.  And wait for Simes to drop face-first into a dead sleep in the middle of the playroom at 6:00 because THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE 20 MONTHS OLD AND DON’T NAP.  Ahem.

 

Wish me luck 😉

Advertisements

It never. stops. snowing.

I tweeted this the other day, but I seriously feel like I am the only person in the northern half of the US who isn’t sick to death of snow by now.  We got another 4″  or so overnight, and with today’s shoveling the drifts are officially higher than our car.  I’d take a picture but I haven’t been outside yet (Jeff missed the bus and drove himself to work).  I think Simes and I are going to take Roxie on a walk later, though, because despite the snow it’s actually not super cold.

Let’s see…it’s been over a week since I posted.  What’s been going on?

I finished an AWESOME project and am dying to show it off but I have to keep it under wraps for a while yet (the recipient checks in here every now and again).  I’m also trucking along on Jeff’s mansocks (yawwwwnnnnnn) and when I finish those I’m going to reward myself by FINALLY casting on for Catkin.  I’ll only be, like, the last person on earth to knit it.  I have some yummy Dyeabolical Tenacious Tencel fingering weight set aside for it.  It’ll be the first thing I’ve knit for myself since, well, those stripey knee socks (which are now hibernating) that I cast on right before we moved to Ohio.  SOMEONE (a pointed look in Simon’s direction) has severely curtailed my knitting time, what with his need for “food” and “diapers” and “stories” and “playing” and “interaction”.  Jeez.

We managed to get our act together and hit storytime on Thursday.  These storytimes are SO much better than the one we went to in LA.  More chaotic, but more fun.  Also, there are at least 4 other pregnant moms in the toddler group (plus the teacher/librarian, too).  I’d try to make friends if I weren’t so damn shy.  And of course the kids are still a little too young to really play with each other, so there’s not even really the whole “hey your kid and my kid like to play together! Want to come to our house for a playdate?” opening.  Ah well.  Moving in 6 months anyway; I’ll just try harder to make more friends in our next city.

Simon was LOVING the tunnels during the free play time:

After storytime was over we weren’t quite ready to go home but didn’t have any errands to do, so I called Jeff and asked if we could take him to lunch (one of the benefits of living 5 minutes down the road from his work!).  We also seized the opportunity to get official “helping Daddy at work” pictures for this office:

Simon is terribly helpful, you see.

Because Jeff and I are boring and old, we didn’t make any plans for Valentine’s Day.  But then it turned out that Sarah was free, and there was a showing of the Lego Movie that ended before Simon’s bedtime, and when the stars align so perfectly you can’t just not take advantage of it.  So we ditched the baby and went on a romantic date to see a kid’s movie (lol).  AND IT WAS AWESOME.  It’s one of those movies that really truly isn’t just a kid’s movie or a grownup movie.  I really can’t remember the last time I liked a movie so well.  Can’t wait to get it on Blu-Ray and share it with Simes when he’s a bit older 🙂

On Saturday we decided to head up to Cleveland and visit the children’s museum, since our last couple of family adventures have been more grownup oriented (the Akron art museum doesn’t really hold a lot of entertainment value for the under-2 set ;-)).  It was a little bit expensive for the three of us to get in ($8/person, even though there wasn’t really anything even remotely interesting for grownups), but Simon LOVED the whole thing so I guess he got $24 worth of fun out of it for all of us.  (Seriously though – since kids get reduced/free admission to a lot of grownup events, doesn’t it seem like grownups should get it for kid events?  It’s not like Jeff and I were personally enriched by the fake grocery store or fire truck setups).

Here is where I spam you, big time.  Sorry (not sorry).

We spent the first half hour or so in a play area that was done up like a farm, for the really young crowd:

Simon spent most of his efforts repeatedly mowing the carpet, but he also took a turn on the tumbling/crawling mats and played with the silo/crops activity.  At one point when we’d just been there for a few minutes, Jeff and I were watching him play and Jeff said to me:  “See how he’s over playing all alone?  I wish he’d play with the other kids.”  I told Jeff, “What do you think we’re doing?”  We looked around and sure enough, across the room was a cluster of other parents all socializing, while we were off in the opposite corner with our arms crossed.

 

At least we know where he gets it 😛

Also, one of the moms in the room was wearing a “flags of the confederacy” t-shirt with camo pants and combat boots.  I’m not sure they would’ve been our type, anyway.

More than the farm area, though, Simes loved the suspension bridge that was in the “city” (bank/grocery store/doctor’s office area):

After a few hesitant steps, he was trotting back and forth across it like a pro.

But the best thing of ALL was the water activity.  This thing was so cool, even as a grownup.  (Maybe I did get my $8 worth after all)

They had rain jackets in every size and step stools for the little ones, and Simon immediately cozied up to the table and set to work.

For a while, his primary occupation consisted of holding his arm over a spout and sending water jetting up his sleeve (so much for the cute little rain jacket).

Explaining his master plan to Daddy:

They had a bunch of bath and pool toys, magnetic fishing poles and random floaties:

 

Further upstream (we were at the downstream end) there were more complicated things set into the table – mechanical water wheels, locks, etc. – but those were arranged at a higher level (apparently for older kids and, you know, gravity) so we didn’t mess with them too much.  Not gonna lie, I sort of wanted to go play, but Jeff wouldn’t let me shove 6-year-olds out of the way.

Once the little dude was thoroughly waterlogged and getting cranky, we headed home (after a full wardrobe change in the car, of course).  He conked out before we even made it onto the highway.  Success!

Sunday was quiet – Jeff judged a mock trial thing and we ran out for haircuts and FroYo – and that was our weekend!  Just right 🙂

We’ve officially reached the stage where I adore sleepy Simon pictures more than ever, as they belie the sheer chaos that encircles his every waking moment.  I look at pictures like this and he’s just so quiet and peaceful and I love it.  But then he wakes up and we go spin in circles and play fetch with the dog and build  massive block towers just to kick them down, and that’s even more fun.

Isn’t he just utterly kissable?

This afternoon we’re making 12-grain sandwich bread:

I use this recipe and Bob’s Red Mill 12-grain cereal, which makes the whole thing so easy that most of the time it’s honestly more convenient than going to the store.  And it tastes like a gazillion times better too, because DUH.  (Also I add 2T each of vital wheat gluten and soy lecithin, because I can.  It also helps the dough have a little more resilience, while still being soft and tender.  Come to think of it, I could use some vital wheat gluten and soy lecithin for myself. :-P)

And now I need to go tend to my dough and build some of those aforementioned block towers.  Hi-YA!

The rejuvenating power of cuddles

Simon and I are both wearing our crankypants today.  Simon because he’s been prodded and messed with all afternoon, me because I’ve spent all day in happyfun smiley nurturing mode (y’all know how I mean), and all I really want is to just be left the fuck alone for 5 minutes.  I think this blogging counts towards those 5 minutes (Simon is conked out upstairs for the moment) so I should probably quit my bitching and get on with it.

 

 

So anyway.  We had a pretty mellow weekend.  Sarah came over and watched Simon while I went to a happy hour with Jeff and his co-workers on Friday night.  It’s always so nice to get out for an hour or two, even if it’s just to drink Diet Coke and eat pub popcorn shrimp.  Sarah actually came early enough that I could sneak upstairs and sew for a bit, which was nice.  Who would have thought it’s easier to be productive when one isn’t constantly being interrupted to play baby fetch or applaud another round of shape-sorting?

 

Saturday was pretty low-key.  We had the Olympics on in the background all day, of course, and Jeff had a work brunch at an amazing cafe up in Cuyahoga Falls (spoiler: I’m about to make him take me there next weekend :-D), then we ran a couple errands.  Since Simon is all about being my sous chef lately, I decided he needed an apron to match his new role.  So I got some medium-weight denim and this pattern at JoAnn:

(The one on the far right for him; I may make the second from left for myself sometime)  It’s got an adjustable neck (where the neck and waist straps are one long piece of fabric threaded through channels on the sides of the chest) so should grow with him for a few years.

 

Yesterday we got some surprise! snow, about 5-6″ worth, so we stayed in all day.  Our Elantra just does NOT handle snow well (apparently a known issue for new Elantras), and literally every time we go on an unplowed road we’re guaranteed to get stuck.  If we end up in a wintry city then I’m sure we’ll invest in some snow tires, but for this year we just play weenie and don’t venture out until everything’s plowed.   And it only took me half a dozen times getting stuck on our own street to reach that conclusion.

 

I mentioned that Simon has had a bit of a rough day today.  We had to go to  the outpatient lab at Children’s to get some bloodwork done (our ped wants a routine hemoglobin and iron check).  When I had my hcg checks at the General hospital’s lab, both times I just walked in, waited a few minutes and was taken care of.  Easy peasy.  But when we showed up at the Children’s lab, the place was hoppin’.  We waited almost an hour just to get signed in.  By the time they actually called us back, Simon had just about used up his reserves of “good”.  Then of course there was the whole issue of stabbing his widdwe finger and extracting two tiny vials of blood.  He was NOT a happy chicken.  Even the Hot Wheels that a nurse gave us was no good.  Poor Simes.  When the nurses (it took two to get the job done, plus me holding him on my lap) were done, we retreated to the waiting room for some booby and calm-down time before heading home.   Where, of course, he conked out almost immediately: But sadly it didn’t last (so much for my 5 minutes), so here’s our present configuration:

And snuggles and human-pacifier-ing are A-OK with me right now.  It’s 5:30 and I can’t bear to wake him, which I’m sure I’ll regret at bedtime, but for now it’s great 🙂

 

Time to wake him for real, though, and go get Daddy!  That should cheer us both up. 🙂

We met them in St. Louis. Then we took a nap.

Warning: I’m a little cranky today. 😛

 

A lot of it has to do with sleep deprivation, I think.  Jeff and I always joke that we co-sleep not for the developmental/breastfeeding benefits, but because we are both absolute assholes when we’re sleep deprived.  Which is true.

 

He was in Cincinnati all day yesterday and today for work, and neither Simon or I ever sleep well when he’s gone.  This was my first time staying alone in the new house, too, so of course every creaky noise was magnified and I’m sure there were legions of prowlers outside.  (If only I had an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!)  Simon, for his part, tossed and turned all night.  I think he was cold on his Daddy side, since there was just a surly cat occupying the usual spot 😛

 

So today he and I have been Clingy and Pissy, respectively (aka, two of the rejected 7 dwarves).  All I did this morning was dishes and random kitchen work, a couple loads of laundry (including our handknits and a quilt, which I hung out on the clothesline that I’ll never ever get tired of), and I raked the leaves and helicopters up to the curb.  Since we finally dragged ourselves out of bed so late, he skipped his morning nap in favor of screwing around on my back and yanking on my hair (thanks, Baby).

 

After lunch we ran up to Target for a gazillion different things, including some storage solutions we desperately needed (the age of a house is inversely proportional to its number of closets, you know).  So now I’m all set to unpack my crafting stuff and our office – just need the sewing table that Mom is bringing with her in a couple weeks, and I’ve got my eye on a 6-foot folding table to set up my self-healing mat and swift/ballwinder on.  I still need Jeff to find a desk or something, too.  Currently the guest room/office is the only place not unpacked, and it’s driving me nuts.  I want to sew!  And file papers! (More the former than the latter)

 

This is totally not chronological, but our weekend in St. Louis was a lot of fun 🙂  We left Akron at about 4:15 on Friday afternoon, and got to StL at about 1:30.  Not bad time, considering how frequently we needed to stop for Mr. Crankybritches.  We had a few hours Saturday morning before the wedding, so we got to run a couple errands, go to Fozzie’s (!!!) and wander the Loop.

 

My handsome guys, ready to go:

 

The ceremony was very nice (or so I heard – I got to spend its entirety in the hallway with someone who thought it would be more fun to flap his lips than sit quietly.  JEFF.)  Katie looked *gorgeous*, and it was really fun to finally attend a wedding in that Presbyterian church at Forsyth and Big Bend.  Every time I drove past it for the whole four years we lived in StL, I always thought “I’d love to go to a wedding there sometime!”  And all I had to do was move away to make it happen ;).

 

There was a two hour break between the ceremony and reception, so we decided to revisit some old stomping grounds:

(That’s in the entrance to AB Hall, on campus.  I had a bigger picture that actually showed that, but Jeff and Simon both looked really derpy.)

 

Unfortunately the place was pretty sparsely populated on a Saturday evening, but it’s just as well.  It started spitting rain before very long, so we headed back to the car and drove around Forest Park while Simon napped.

 

The reception was in the Missouri History Museum, which turned out to be OMG SO AWESOME (I mean, I’d been to the museum before.  But never a wedding there!).  Katie and Adam really did a great job with their theme (“Meet me in St. Louis”), and the whole thing was a perfect mix of elegance and fun.

 

All the tables were named for famous Missourians:

 

I thought I grabbed a picture of the centerpieces, but I guess not.  Each table’s was different: an eclectic collection of flowers in vintage vases, sitting on stacks of antique books.  So cool!

 

It was also wonderful to catch up with Jeff’s family, some of whom we haven’t seen in years.  Simon was thoroughly enchanted by Jeff’s aunt’s beau, who sports a most Santa-like beard and was happy to indulge the little guy in a very competitive table-tapping contest during the salad course.

 

SOMEONE was displeased to be eating cheese stick instead of wedding cake:

 

The band was RIDICULOUSLY awesome. They played a lot of old favorites (“Twist and Shout”), and some unexpected stuff (Adele).  I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun dancing at a wedding! (Besides my own, of course :-P)

 

Simon even snagged a dance with the bride:

(I *think* one of Katie’s photographers got an awesome picture of him clapping along with her – I’ll post it later if I’m right :))

 

All that fun got to Simon eventually, though:

He barely even woke up for his change and jams.  If only I could wear him out so thoroughly every day!

 

There was a brunch the next day at a family friend’s house.  Simon’s chief occupation there consisted of scooting around on the shiny wood floors (often backwards, on his belly), and grinning at cousin Paul and Charity 🙂

 

We had to head back to Akron straight after the brunch, and the drive home did not go quite as smoothly as the drive out.  Simon was still keyed up from the weekend’s festivities, so he didn’t nap very steadily.  There was also driving rain AND road construction, just for funsies.  We were all glad to get out of the car when we pulled into the driveway at 10:00 that night!

 

We had so much fun at this wedding that I’m just sad we won’t be able to make it to *my* cousin’s wedding in Oklahoma next month.  I’d love to see Simon and Jett dance (err…toddler hop? :-P) together.  But we’ve seriously blown through our travel budget for 2013 with all the trips to Kansas City from LA.  Alas.

 

Time to go grab my laundry off the line and throw together an apple crisp for Jeff tonight.  Game 5 of the NLDS!  Go Cards!

IOWA!

I’m too excited to be all clever or reasonable or poetic, so I’ll just out and say it:  as of Saturday, I’m now the proud owner of my very own spinning wheel (!!!).

OMG YES REALLY.

It all started early last spring.  Mom was in Iowa visiting a friend (more on that momentarily), and they stumbled into a yarn shop, and in that shop Mom was told that just a few towns over was a tiny little shop that stocked Ashford spinning wheels, and that the proprietor was a really nice lady.  So Mom told me about this, and asked if I would like to go to Iowa sometime and buy a spinning wheel from the nice lady and see Mom’s old friend and browse some antique stores and have one last midwestern hurrah before I run off for the west coast.  And I said FLIPPIN’ YES.

So a couple weeks ago I reached out to the aforementioned really nice lady who owned the little spinning wheel shop, and asked her if she had an Ashford Kiwi in stock (that’s the same model that Kim lent me last year, remember?  And I really enjoyed spinning on that then, so I thought I might like to probably own that one, but I also wanted to try out a few other wheels while I was there anyway).  And she DID have a Kiwi in stock, and so plans were made for Mom and me to take a weekend trip to Iowa and see everything that the extreme southeastern corner of the state had to offer.

So here’s what happened:

On Friday morning, Mom drove from Kansas City to St. Louis.  I worked diligently all day to hit a deadline at work, then as soon as I turned that stuff in, my ass was out the door.  And Mom and I were on the road to IOWA!

(BTW, I’m totally referring to it as “IOWA!” throughout this post.  Because in my experience, IOWA! is full of nothing but beauty and wonder.  Go IOWA!)

We got to Ft. Madison, IOWA! just in time to grab some Subway, check into the hotel, and make Saturday plans with Jeanette (the aforementioned friend), who happens to live in that corner of IOWA! and knows every antique store within a 100-mile radius.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early, and I ate a waffle courtesy of the Comfort Inn (yay IOWA!):

(unnecessary picture? Yes. But I am being thorough.)

And then with some printed Google maps and my Android’s spotty roaming signal for a guide, Mom and I set out to find Country Lane Fiber Arts in nearby New London, IOWA!.

We were doing so good for the first bit, I swear.  But then Google Maps told us to follow a road that went through a state park (this one) and then I saw a cute squirrel and Mom was pointing out pretty trees and somehow we missed a turn.  Someplace.

(Jeff and Dad are both shaking their heads right now, I can tell).

We went from roads that looked like this:

to one that looked like this:

Not usually a promising sign.

Of course we didn’t figure that out immediately.  But once I noticed that the road was curving a bit more than my map indicated it should, and then we hit a town called Lowell and found a river that’s nowhere near New London, we knew we were lost.

So I begged and pleaded my phone to eke out enough of a signal that I could set us straight, and we found a loooooong gravel road that would put us in the direction of the spinning wheel shop.  And after several very confusing minutes and a few more wrong turns, we were there!

Just look at this place:

Isn’t it wonderful?  It reminds me so much of Grandma’s quilt shop.  Everything from the handpainted sign and creaky screen door to the delicious fiber-y fabric-y smell inside made me feel like I was home.

And OMG.  The inside!  It was like a fiber artist’s brain exploded.  And I mean that in the best possible way.

There was a wall of knitting needles, and giant Rubbermaid bins of spinning fiber:

There were looms bearing WIPs, and racks of finished woven textiles:

There was yarn and spinning fiber and drop spindles and spinning wheel parts and accessories:

There were spinning wheels out for testing and display:

and brand new boxed up ones for the buying:

And there were things I barely even knew about: intricate beadwork, and bobbin lace, and tatting kits:

For every craft, Diana had set up a WIP, and usually had a few FO’s for sale, too.  She knew how to do EVERYTHING, I swear.

It was seriously incredible.  I felt like I could dive into the shop and emerge years later and STILL not have seen everything she had to offer.

So after a couple hours of chatting and learning and wheel testing (I spun a bit on her display Kiwi, and also tried out a Traveler)…

I’d decided!  Kiwi it must be:

(That box contains an entire spinning wheel.  Crazy!  The laws of physics must be different in IOWA!.)

And since Diana stocked jumbo flyers and scotch-tensioned kates and high-speed whorls, and since my mom is an exceedingly generous soul, I was soon set up with those accessories as well.

And then I found the WIP gauges (cutest little bamboo one you’ve ever seen).  And Mom found the tunisian crochet hooks.  And I dove headfirst into a bin of locally dyed fiber.

We left the shop just after noon, our heads cloudy with wool.  And happiness.

I even got to pose with the  enabler  proprietor herself:

It was one of the most amazing mornings of my life.

So believe it or not, buying a spinning wheel and fiber and accessories and yarn and crochet hooks and who-knows-what-else can really work up the ol’ appetite.  Aided by a map and instructions that Diana drew for us, Mom and I made our way back to Ft. Madison, and met up with Jeanette for lunch.

Let me tell you about Jeanette.  She and Mom have been friends since they were 12.  They met in junior high, and have been close ever since.  Jeanette got married and moved to West Point, IOWA!; Mom got married and moved to Kansas City.  They still get together at least once a year to enable each other’s antiquing addictions, and whenever they’re together they do that thing where they finish each other’s sentences and have nearly 50 years of accumulated inside jokes.  It’s pretty awesome (and Stef and Mandi? I fully expect us to be like this in another 30 years.)

So anyway.  That’s Jeanette, and she’s super cool, and luckily she was able to hang out with us ‘most all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Last time Mom went to IOWA!, she and Jeanette had gone to the Ivy Bake Shoppe in downtown Ft. Madison, and Mom has not. shut. up. about it, ever since.  They were getting ready to close for a private party when we stopped in, but they let us order anyway.

My delicious turkey and veggie wrap:

Nom.

But (as one might suspect from the place’s name), the baked goods were the real star of the show.  Mom had some amazing apple cake:

(she let me try a bite.  It was ALMOST as good as this apple bundt cake I made last fall.)

Jeanette’s strawberry shortcake bar was so wonderful that it almost disappeared before I could do that annoying “hold on! I must take a picture of your food!” blogger thing:

So I think that’s a solid endorsement of its quality.

And then I had this:  a millennium (toffee) bar:

My one regret in life is that I didn’t haul out the ol’ Nikon and take a more flattering picture of this amazingness.  But that wouldn’t make a difference, because you really just have to try it.

Since I doubt anybody reading this lives in southeast Iowa (thus making it difficult to procure one from the source), how about the next best thing?

The recipe.

I will be attempting to replicate these in my own kitchen, post-haste, and you should too.  (knit night-ers, watch out.  These are heading your way, very soon.).

Next door to the Ivy Bake Shoppe was a super cute place called Artisans Next Door:

And that’s where I fell madly in love for the third time that day.

They had yarn and fiber and even silk hankies:

(you know I didn’t walk out of there empty-handed).

And they had pottery:

and jewelry, and felted soaps and little birdies, and cute house stuff, and handknits:

I just about had a heart attack, I swear.

This place was unnatural.  Even the frickin’ COUNTER was beautiful:

And Linda, one of the artists, didn’t even laugh at me when I made this silly request.  In fact, she asked for my blog URL and OMG SHE MIGHT BE READING RIGHT NOW.  (Hi Linda!)

Gawd I loved that shop.  I bought fiber and hankies, and I was happy.

From there, Jeanette served as our tour guide/co-conspirator for the rest of the afternoon:  we visited three antique shops in the Ft. Madison area, including this one:

Which was one of the nicest antique shops I’ve ever set foot in (and I’ve been in a few, as you might surmise).

Browsing is so much fun, but since next month we’re going to be packing up all our worldly possessions and putting them into storage, it was pretty easy for me to resist buying. Much.

When we’d gotten our fill of antiques for the day, we headed back to the Comfort Inn, and then this happened:

Oh, how young and optimistic I was then.

Jeanette’s husband had kindly delivered to us their mallet and hammer, and Jeanette let me borrow a folding screwdriver.  Along with the allen key that came with the wheel, I was confident I’d have it together and spinning in no time.

HA.

and HA again.

But to be fair, it doesn’t really look all that daunting spread out on the hotel bed there, does it?  I’ve assembled furniture before.  Hell, I’ve even disassembled, stripped, refinished, and reassembled antique furniture. I was sure I could handle it.

Someone should’a just hit me over the head with that mallet.

TWO HOURS LATER, I tried to Tweet, “Does this look like two hours’ worth of work to you?”:

Cue the sad trombones.

(It’s really a shame that Twitpic wasn’t cooperating with my weak phone signal, because I’m sure Saturday night’s antics would’ve been a rollicking good time for those of y’all playing along at home).

I was bleeding in two places.  My knees were skinned from scooting around on the hotel carpet.  My back hurt, and I’d knocked a full can of Diet Coke onto the floor at some point (mercifully far away from the wheel’s unfinished wood).

It was time for a dinner break.  And a bigger-screwdriver-buying break.

(the only non-fast-food, no-mammal-meat-etarian sustenance to be found in Ft. Madison at 7:00 on a Saturday night).

The one bad thing about this part of IOWA! is the dearth of no-mammal-meat-etarian/preferably pescatarian/ideally vegetarian food options.  But still, it was probably a wise move getting away from that goddamned wheel for a little while.

By 8:00 or so I was back at it, with a vengeance.  And at around 10:30, after liberal use of a the mallet and Dollar General screwdriver, WE HAD A WHEEL.

Do NOT underestimate the effort involved in that, y’all.  Just don’t.

So even though it was late and my back hurt and I was exhausted and we had another full day ahead of us on Sunday, I couldn’t help it: I had to spin.

(That’s some superwash cheviot roving from (surprise surprise) Dyeabolical: the perfect fiber for my new wheel’s maiden voyage, yes?)

My blistered, shaky hands managed to christen her with a few yards:

And then my eyes just couldn’t stay open, so I texted with Jeff with news of my success and somehow nodded off mid-conversation.

And then it was Sunday! In IOWA!

Mom and I got up bright and early, met Jeanette, showed off the spinning wheel, checked out of the hotel, and hit the road:

Our first stop was the nearby town of Bonaparte, for lunch and (surprise!), more antiquing.  We ate in an old mill that had re-opened as a restaurant:

and then wandered for a bit.

See that antique store there at the left, with the blue awnings?  That’s where I found this:

All together now:  AWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mamacat didn’t think much of my loud Nikon clicking, so she bolted after just a couple pictures.  But her beebee was a little ham, and he and I got to cuddle and play and model and pose for a quarter of an hour.

Couldn’t you just eat him up?  I love IOWA!.  They have kittens there.

Mom and I made a plan.  I was going to stuff him in my pocket and take him home with me, and she was going to make Jeff let me keep him.

This was an excellent plan, because OMGLOOKITHISWIDDWETUMMMYYYYY!!!!!

We were buds. I really shoulda taken him.

(I took like a bazillion pictures of this little dear, and there are a few more on my Flickr photostream if you’re so inclined).

After I tore myself away from the little squeezie, it was time to get serious about the antiquing.  Because some of them were serious.  Like this:

I think I need to start a blog called “racist things I saw in antique shops.”  Much like my find from last winter, I’m still WTF-ing over why anybody would want to own this.

I CAN, however, totally understand the appeal of jarts:

Especially if you throw them at racists.  But not at tiny orange kittens.

After one last impassioned kitten-y plea (which fell upon deaf ears.  JEFF.), Mom and Jeanette and I headed down the road a bit to nearby Bentonsport for more (you guessed it) antiques and crafty stuff.

Our first stop was Iron and Lace, a pottery/weaving/blacksmith’s shop:

The metalworking was neat but not really anything I’m passionate about, but OMG you should’ve seen the pottery.

Hold on, I’ll show you the pottery, so you can be happy too:

Unf. I die.  Look at the queen anne’s lace imprint!  The beautiful glazing!

I am dead of gorgeousness (yes, that’s a thing).

Luckily I’m not dead-for-real, as I would’ve been if I had bought a beautiful-yet-expensive tea set.  That is to say, Jeff would’ve killed me.

Somehow (I really regret this), I managed to leave without any pottery whatsoever.  But Mom fell down the weaving hole, and found some placemats she just couldn’t live without:

From there we wandered across the street to Bentonsport’s old post office, which has recently become a tiny adorable exquisite fudge-and-sandwich shop:

I dare you to tell me that’s not the most charming place you’ve ever seen.  I DARE YOU.

Inside they had at least a dozen kinds of fudge:

(SO PRETTY)

Along with classics like maple, peanut butter, and chocolate, there was also divinity fudge. And something called “tiger stripes”.  And one that tasted exactly like a Snickers bar.

And there were fudge marshmallow pops, and cookies, and ice cream sandwiches, and teensy little ice cream cones made of fudge.

And did I mention the donut holes?

Mark my words, this place’ll have a line out the door within a month.

It doesn’t hurt, either, that the decor was tiny and cozy and unbearably awesomely cute.

They’d maintained most elements of the old post office, including the 19th-century collection windows:

The owner added a deck/patio area that overlooks the river and walking bridge:

Seriously, if I were going to open a business in a small town in IOWA!, it would be exactly like this.  Exactly.  I’m in love.

(Jeff is in love, too.  With the fudge. I brought him some of the chocolate-maple and the classic chocolate, and he still hasn’t stopped making yummy sounds.  I think he may be broken. Forever.)

With that, we said goodbye to Bentonsport and headed back to Jeanette’s house in West Point.  After seeing her kitchen renovation-in-progress (it’s gonna look awesome) and thanking her husband again for providing the means to assemble my spinning wheel, Mom and I hit the road.

Our trip to IOWA! was over, and it was a resounding success, and I can’t wait to go back.

IOWA! is full of awesome.

~~~
Postscript:  since we didn’t get home until late-ish on Sunday night, I haven’t had much of a chance to spin (WOE IS ME).  But I have made this:

I love my new Kiwi.  I am happy.

Witness-less escapades

One challenge I’m quickly realizing is how to deal with Jeff-less weekends.  Last weekend was my first one alone, but I didn’t really mind too much – I was so wound up from the Big Event and other work-y changes that I welcomed a three-day break to do nothing but knit and plow through the Netflix queue.

 

It also won’t be an issue for many upcoming weekends – I’ve got assorted friends coming into town, travel plans of my own, and other goal/deadline-oriented tasks to keep me busy.

 

But this weekend?  This one’s really messing with me.  By all accounts, today should be a “normal” Saturday:  Jeff and I would run some errands, do a little light housework, and catch a movie or spend the night in.  But now I’m faced with the prospect of doing this all without my other half (Other Half, BTW, is having his own relaxing day in his tiny sublet apartment in DC.  He’s earned it!).  So, like I always do when left alone, I’m finding ways to fill the time.  Maybe not the most productive ways, but ways.

 

In just a minute here I’ll throw on some yoga pants (which means that yes, right now I am blogging sans pants. SINCE YOU ASKED.) and take Roxie on a nice long walk, then I’ll hit up Craft-o-Matic.  After that, a pedicure and a long-needed grocery run.  Then home to my Netflix and knitting.  Which I guess isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday alone, is it?

 

I’ll never be one of those people who can find joy in solitude.  Jeff and I both agree that our favorite way to be alone is be alone together, reading books at Starbucks or just zoning out with laptops on the couch. But I’m trying to appreciate the opportunities that this summer affords:  like blogging pants-less, indulging in a grande frappuccino, and trying on every damned shirt in Target if I wanna.

 

And don’t forget the knitting.  Oh, the knitting!

 

Do you enjoy spending time alone?  What’s  your favorite way to fill the hours?

A new one

Saturday was just about as close to perfect as I could imagine.

 

I got a tattoo, we went to the zoo, we wandered the Loop (I bought a book!), saw Jane Eyre at the Tivoli, and drank frappuccinos and people-watched.

 

Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

The tattoo in question:

 

Isn’t he a cutie?  I love him!  He’s supposed to be reminiscent of Othello, without, y’know, “being” Othello.  Jeff took that photo yesterday (Sunday), so it’s still obviously pretty rough looking.  I can also tell that he’s going to need a touch-up – his right ear didn’t take, and we may want to change the shading a bit.  But isn’t he adorable???  I love that attitude. 😀

The placement is really significant to me, as well.  As I may have mentioned, Othello has a proclivity for walking back and forth on my head at night, sitting on my hair, clawing at my neck, and ultimately settling down on my left shoulder – he’s my “parrot cat”.

 

Oh, and the best bit of getting tattooed back there is it barely hurt at all.  The bit down nearer my neck (his tail) stung a bit, but I had no throbbing or itching or tightness or anything.  Definitely the easiest tattoo yet 🙂