Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Things to Do When It's below Zero

Play Broomball.

Yes it's very very cold out. And, honestly, I was having a serious second thoughts. I've frost bit my fingers tips a few times and always struggle with cold fingers. I ended up packing up some extra gloves and liners, just in case. We're out of hand warmers, which I usually hand out to the homeless. So, the boys and I put on our warmest gear and headed over to one of the many ice rinks here in Anchorage.

For my California friends reading this, every winter, you can find maintained ice skating at several schools, two local small lakes (Westchester Lagoon and Goose Lake), Cuddy Family Park(just opened this year with a Speed Skating Track) and several other public parks, including the we were at yesterday at 10th and E.

Despite the -5 temperatures out, you can stay pretty warm playing Broomball. And as a bonus, we even had sun shine for a short while on the rink. Not a warming sun, at all, but it was nice to stand around with sun shining on you for a while. The previous day was also a very cold, yet sunny day and it had been the first time in at least a week that I'd been in direct sunlight. When the sun hit my eyes that day, they hurt like when someone turns on the bedroom light in the morning to wake you up. Luckily, I had a pair of sunglasses in the car with me to wear.


Look at Ice Sculptures.

Since I was having no problem with the cold temperatures, my friends and I decided to walk down to Town Square to check out the Ice Sculptures. Some years, Mother Nature doesn't co-operate, and they've melted almost as fast as they're made. Not this year.

The first one that caught my eye was the Caribou as I walked into the square. It's high up on a knoll. I think the antlers must of taken great skill to carve without cracking them. And, though my iphone camera didn't capture it, the details outlining hair and structure were very well placed.

One of the carvers must be a Tina Fey fan, as they put a plaque next to one of the polar bear cubs in a Polar Bear & Cubs carving, saying "I Can See Russia From Here". Hopefully, you can make out the writing in the photo. It was a low light situation. Also discovered that if your iPhone screen is cold and so are your fingers, its hard to use the touch screen. It needs body heat to take pictures and I'd taken my gloves off a few times when my finger tips started freezing up on me as usual.

There is also an Ice Skating rink in the middle of Town Square. It's part of the Fire & Ice Celebrations that are sponsored by my husbands union, IBEW local 1546. There are live bands, performers juggling fire, and the finale is a 20 minute long Fireworks show, sync'd to music. It's a lot of fun and will probably attend tomorrow night.


Knit Mittens to felt.

One other thing to do is huddle up at home afterwards, warming up with some hot tea and work on knitting some mittens for oneself. I have completed one so far and plan to work on the second tonight. I'm always surprised at how quick they are to knit up and may knit a few more pairs to have around for next years school silent auction. Not sure how the colors will work out but trying to use more feminine colors without the colors being so processed that they won't felt right. See what happens with the pinkish/purple yarn. Could backfire.

Monday, December 22, 2008

UFO's, Eggnog Martini's, Hot Barack and Surfing

No aliens sighted, though we did watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind the other night. The boys liked it alot, though I remember going to see it with my parents and then going home and trying to figure out how to play the song on my flute. And, of course, my brother and I started playing with our mashed potatoes. No reports of mountains made of potatoes, whip cream or oatmeal so far.

The UFO's I'm actually talking about are my Un-Finished knitting Objects. Suspect this Eggnog Martini may be the cause of the frogging of my mitten cuff, several times. It's really just an Eggnog and Brandy, but I shook it up in a martini shaker, added a little vanilla liquor, rimmed it with graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Made it feel like a much more decadent dessert drink.

So the project I was working on was a new pair of felted mittens. The reason being, I made myself mittens two years ago in a color that I don't really like. My son borrowed them the other day and that's when I realized why was I continuing to use them. They are UGLY! Knitting a pair normally is just a takes me a few evenings, I
have a box full of Lambs Pride Wool Yarn in colors I love. Why was I still wearing those things. Time to hand them off to one of the boys and make me another pair. Preferably in a very girlie color that the guys won't "borrow".

So I dug the box out and found a bulky yarn color I liked and then there was this pretty pinkish/lavendar color that I decided to use to make a pattern in the mittens. Not exactly sure how I was going to use the second color and that's been part of the problem with this project. I've knit these mittens at least 10 times, so I thought adding a checkered pattern shouldn't be too hard.
ARGH! Forgot about all the increases M1L, M1R's, then I lose the pattern. These could take a bit longer to make than I thought.

It might take me a little longs also because despite the election being over, I'm spending a little too much time on my laptop. I now have a Facebook page and a My Space Page (it's pretty blank, so far) and visit Ravelry groups and Huffington Post quite a bit.

OMG: Just saw this picture of our new Pres. when I was link the Huffington Post. Wow! Now this man's handsomeness in no way influenced why I voted for him, but what a nice bonus. I've always hated when Sarah was referred to as "Hot" as an actually reason to vote for her, but I must say on the Hottness scale, Barack has her beat. Oh, he did beat her. Besides: Surfing=Sexy Field dressing a moose=Resourceful but not sexy

Speaking of Surfing, just saw a fascinating documentary called Surfwise. It's about the Paskowitz Surfing Family. Very interesting story, but don't suggest you watch with the kids. There's some pretty blunt, matter of fact, talk about sex, with the "F" Bomb being the word of choice in that context. The dad definately was intense in his pursuit of happiness, some might say controlling, but he does speak some truths about society and what our priorities have become. The children spending their entire childhood surfing could in some ways be envied, but they also had some difficult hurdles to overcome as they reached adulthood. Surfing is something I've always wanted to do and I'm seriously considering doing one of their surfing camps. Cabo sounds good, but OMG is it expensive. A girl can dream...... Anyone else?

Back to knitting, I am working on the first monkey sock and have stopped on the heel because I want to really do the picked up stitches right, with no holes. Distracted from this project with the mittens but will get right back to it when I'm done with the mittens.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Trees & Traditions

Well, we finally got our Christmas Tree. We usually get a tree by the end of the first week of December, however, this year we've been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for our new floor to get put in before we bought a tree. We had no idea how close to Christmas it ended up being. And, fortunately, we could still get a tree here in town. Even 5-6 years ago, the whole town would of been out of trees if we'd waited this long. Many stores were actually out yesterday, but we did manage to get one "Ka-ching, Ka-ching".

The previous 2 years we'd bought our tree at Home Depot. Great trees, never frozen (outdoor lots have frozen trees), half the price. And, what was even more fun, was that last year we didn't even have them unravel the net, we just grabbed one and got it home and "opened" it. That was fun! Bald spot to the back and "voila" a beautiful tree!

Really glad we did get our tree as it's been a little hard getting in the "mood" without all the decorations out. I haven't even managed to do much baking, as the contractors have been banging away on the floors this week and ripping carpet out all last week.

Now that we're in Christmas mode, we're planning on doing the usual driving around town to look at Christmas lights, either tonight or tomorrow night, that the Anchorage Daily News maps out. I'm in charge of the map, as all women should be as we drive all over the place looking at decorations, while listening to our kids whine, I mean christmas music. Oops.

In order to make the map, one has to have friends and neighbors submit your address. For several years, Bud has made a valiant attempt at getting such mention, but after receiving our electric bill for last year's display, Bud wisely has cut it back. Plus we're slowly converting our lights over to LED's.

This tree is in our front yard and is actually a tree that my husband and I "saved" when a lot by our condo (13 years ago) was being bulldozed. I had been taking our dog, Tonka, to the lot to do his business every day, carefully stepping around this tiny tree. When I saw the dozers, I hurried home grabbed a shovel and a bucket and took the tree. We then ended up renting an old homestead for a couple years and kept the tree in a bucket out front. Then when we bought our house in '97, we realized we finally had a permanent home for our tree. For the last few years, it's finally become big enough to not get completely covered in snow and, therefore, it's now our outside Christmas Tree.

This is how the house looks at the moment, though, I've just been informed by Bud that there are more lights to go up soon.

Now this is an Ice Tree, directly across the street from my house. There is no actual tree. Our neighbor is an artist and he has made this tree from beautifully crafted wood rings, fishing line and led lights. He ran water over the top on and off for several weeks to make this tree. How lucky and I!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What European City Do You Belong In......

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.

You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Funny thing is, I did a Semester in Paris, many years ago. I really did love wandering the streets to see what was around the next corner while eating crepes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Loving Knitting these Monkey Socks!

Now that the election is truly over I have been able to focus more on my knitting again, much to my families relief. Guess I'd been pretty obsessed with the election. So glad the results came out the way they did. Have a few knitting projects for the Inauguration in January, which I'm going to with my oldest son and my mother. But more about that later on. Also, will have an entry about the kitchen remodel we've been working on since July. The flooring goes in this week.

So back to the socks. After frogging an almost completed Toe-Up Jaywalker sock, my knitting buddy, Heather, aka The Wandering Stitch, suggested I try the Monkey Sock Pattern from Knitty. It's a very fun pattern to do.

Originally, my plan was to do find another toe-up sock like the Boyfriend socks I'd done before, but without having to carry around a cable needle with me everywhere. Lost a cable needle that had belonged to my grandmother. Bummer, but have a lot more of her knitting stuff to remind me of her.

So, I'd picked the Jaywalker toe-Up version, after reading many positive reviews in Ravelry. This pattern just didn't work for me. I kept it up anyways, because I felt maybe I was missing something. NOPE. Got to the point I couldn't even pick the project up anymore.

That's when Heather came to the rescue. These aren't toe-up, but I have a pretty good idea about how long I can make these socks after getting one almost complete Jaywalker.

I've also completed two more hats for my boys.