Friday, May 23, 2008

"Jeanan, Bobaloo, Sean, and Becky....."

Our neighbor Jeanan, went to a Humane Society event last Saturday night, and committed to adopting a small Pomeranian, now named Bobaloo. He came to live with her last Sunday, and they have almost become inseparable. He is such a well behaved little guy, that she has been able to take him to work, meetings, and even small social gatherings at friends homes.

Below is the happy couple.....Jeanan and Bobaloo.

Jeanan brought Bobaloo down on Sunday to meet us. We were sitting out on the deck with Rob, so she walked down with Bobaloo. Copper and Bobaloo were fine with each other, as was Bobaloo with Jillian, from across the street, who happened to stop by with her pets, Lonny and Charlie.

My cousin Kim, sent photos from Sean and Becky's short visit with her in Boulder.

Becky, Kim, and Sean.

Checking gear before heading out on the last leg of the trip to San Fransisco.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Erica's Birthday Happy Hour...."

Erica, in the pink, had her 30th birthday last week. We helped her celebrate it at last Friday's happy hour.

From left to right are: Charlie, in the background, Dan, Erica's boyfriend, Erica, and neighbor Rob.

We also surprised her with a "Birthday Brownie", with lit candles in the form of a large 30.

Surprise is definitely the word. I thought the candles would burn themselves out before she made a wish and blew them out......

See what I mean? Still not making her wish.....

I can truthfully say, that I have never seen so much smoke from birthday candles. I wonder if it is because they were "allowed" to burn for so long? :)

We all enjoyed being able to spend time with Erica and Dan, and hope they come join us more often for happy hours....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"OK....So I did It!"

I think most of you know I have become increasingly interested in learning to spin yarn, adding another dimension to my fiber interests. I signed up, along with our neighbor Anna, for a class on Beginning Spinning, down in Mineral Point, which takes place in June. A few weeks ago, I thought it was a good idea to buy a drop spindle so that I would have a little experience with spinning before the class, hoping that I would be good enough with the drop spindle that I could move onto a spinning wheel sooner.

Don and I were invited over to visit a co-worker of his, Cindy, who also happens to own and spin on a wheel. Her husband, Steve, also spins, but on a drop spindle. At that time, I was practicing on my drop spindle, really not knowing if I was doing it correctly or not, but definitely NOT enjoying it. Steve gave an amazing demonstration......he made it look so easy....and FAST! Cindy then got on her spinning wheel and did a demonstration as well, leaving me hungering more than ever for a wheel. :) Cindy's spinning wheel happens to be a Kromski Spinning Wheel. She has the "Symphony" model, a Saxony style wheel, and I have been interested in their Castle style spinning wheel, the Minstrel. Kromski Wheels are made in Poland by the Kromski family. :)

The more I read and looked at websites online, brought me closer and closer to what I did 2 days ago.........that was to go out to Susan's Fiber Shop, so that I could look at what wheels she had in stock, and to possibly sit down at them to see how they fit me, etc. I did know she carried the Kromski wheel that I have been lusting after (drooling over) in magazines and websites, so knew it would be a good idea (fantastic idea!) to go, check it out, and compare it to other wheels. Her shop opens at 10AM and I was there soon after she opened. I lucked out and she had no other customers, so she was able to take me back to the wheels and give me her thoughts and suggestions about each one. The Kromski "Minstrel" is the one that really had caught my eye (online/magazines), which she had in clear finish and walnut. I also sat down at an Ashford Traveler. It, too, was comfortable, but I was drawn back to the Minstrel. She sat down at 1 minstrel and I at the other, so she could demonstrate how to spin on the wheel. She then handed me some roving and had me "try" to follow what she'd just demoed. Obviously, I did not do tremendously well, but I think the drop spindle spinning made it a little easier for me by knowing how to draft somewhat. I was spinning!!! Yes, the "yarn" had slubs in it, but it was holding together!

I left Susan's with the Kromski Minstrel strapped into the front seat of the car, bringing it home, along with some of the same roving we used in the demo. I have been able to practice and feel better each time I get on the wheel, even seeing some consistent areas of yarn. :) Of course, there are still slubs, but they are expected for awhile......or so I am told. :)

Here is my Minstrel, sitting in the middle of the floor of the sun room. I had to find a rug to put it on, along with my stool, so that it wouldn't walk away from me as I was spinning. I found that out "after" I began trying to spin and finding myself reaching/leaning forward a little more than when I started. Working in the sun room has been very enjoyable. Obviously, I have plenty of light. The Wheel is light enough, so it is easy to bring in to use, and then move back to where I am temporarily storing it....beside my desk. I'm not sure where it's "home" will be yet, but possibly in the front room nearer the loom.

This is my attempt at spinning yarn. Notice the "various areas" of thick and thin? I could call this "novelty yarn", but it is just beginners yarn. :) Hopefully, I will have a more consistent yarn to photograph soon.

Getting a comfortable height for me has been a little bit of a challenge, too. I went around measuring the various chairs, ending up with this piano stool, adding an angular foam pad, and topping it off with my sheep fleece. I'm finding this very comfortable and a good height.

Above....Don was able to catch me actually practicing spinning. Below....just a "poser"!

Isn't it a beautiful wheel? Molly Bee, of renowned fame (, asked me what I was going to name "her".........hmmmmmmm....."her"? LOL....I'm not sure if my wheel will be named, but if I do, I'm SURE, that HE is a boy! LOL

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Chicken Run Extended....."

This is the "Before" photo of the backyard. The chicken run starts at the back corner of the coop where it then angles back and stops at the gate.

This is the "After" photo. The run now starts at the same back corner of the coop, but extends sideways across the yard to the wood fence, giving the "girls" 3 times as much space as they originally had. They are VERY happy and let us know by clucking happily each morning as they make a beeline over to the new area. Extending the run really didn't make much of a change in the looks of the backyard, since the new fence is chain link like the back fence, so visually, it looks the same as before.

Tracie, our next door neighbor, graduated from Veterinary School last Saturday. Some of her family came in late Thursday night, staying at Bridgett's and Tracie's, then moved into a hotel on Friday. Friday morning, she asked if her niece and nephews could come see the chickens. Below are Tracie, me, her Dad, and her mother in the background, who is swinging her grandkids in the hammock. The kids looked at the chickens, then promptly headed for the hammock. :)

Nana (Becky), Joe, in back, Peyton, and Marcus. Tracie's sister, Addie, is their mother.

It was time to begin a new "planting" in the Aero Garden, but the tomato plants still looked pretty good. I figured that I had nothing to lose but trying to plant them in regular pots for the summer. Each plant came out of the Aero Garden with a full set of roots, so I planted and set them in the greenhouse to live. They do not look their best right now, but I hope they will begin to perk up after growing (hopefully) some new roots.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"More Kid Pics...."

You'll have to forgive this father....I am so behind with blogging, but want to keep things chronological. I still have photos of when the kids visited and that was a week ago! Today's photos will be the last ones. I talked with Sean when they were about 100 miles from San Fransisco, and luckily, we are able to read their blog to know they made it safe and sound. He isn't always the best with communication......

This photo reminds me of when Sean was little after we'd gone somewhere........ he'd sleep because he was so worn out from playing. Some things never change it seems, eh? :)

Sunday afternoon we had coffee out on the deck, while Sean and Becky rode their bikes down to Trader Joe's to pick up some "snackable sustainance" (not sure that either are real words) for the next leg of their trip. While we out there, Charlie, Lonny, Jillian, Tracie, and her daughter Evie, stopped by to say hi.

Evie doing a little "Show and Tell". :)

Just another pic......

Monday morning's photo before the next leg of their trip. The plan that day was to drive 1/2 way to Boulder, and then camp for the night. The concern was that rain was expected in the area where they'd planned on stopping.....they lucked out and had dry weather, arriving in Boulder to visit cousin Kim on Wednesday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Our Vist to Vom Fass and Borders..."

We took our 2 culinary students to Vom Fass. It is a "fairly" new shop, which sells oils, vinegars, wines, and "spirits", from casks/barrels. They have a variety of styles and sizes of bottles that they sell and fill with your choice of liquid.

One has the choice of singular taste sensations or a multitude of possible combinations with the oils and vinegars. Of course, when it comes to the "spirits", you'll taste those individually. :) In the photo, "spirits" are in the barrels behind us, vinegars in the jars in front of us, and oils were hung on the wall behind Sean.

Who taught this boy to smile?????

Again?? I ask you....who taught him to smile??? We went to Borders so Becky could buy a journal to record her thoughts of the trip/internship. They left with some new music, too.

I found 2 fiber magazines....Spin-Off and Handwoven. I'm holding the copy of Spin-Off up so Don could take a photo of the back cover. The back cover is an entire page advertisement for Susan's Fiber Shop, which is located in Columbus, WI. I have shopped there a number of times and will most assuredly return to shop more. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Morning With the Kids....."

Just a few photos of our Saturday morning with Sean and Becky. Sean and I making breakfast together.....I was in charge of the bacon while he made special order omelets. :)

Is that a look of a mischief maker or what? :)

I must've been saying something very important. :)

Showing the kids the "loopers" that I will be using in my next weaving project. "Loopers" are a by-product of the sock industry. I bought them when I was in Michigan last time and had driven to Great Northern Weaving, just north of Kalamazoo. I am going to be weaving a rug/pad for Copper's bed......or that is the plan for it's use anyway. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"A Gift and The Visit...."

Anna is also a knitter and Friday night gave Andy a knitted set of Alphabet Blocks for he and Angela's unborn baby. They are very soft and will be nice for "Ocean" to chew on when teething. :)

My youngest son, Sean, and his girlfriend, Becky, stopped in Madison, on their way to San Fransisco. They are both doing their chef internships in "the city by the Bay". He will be at Rubicon's and Becky will be at The Greens.

I had knitted/felted this bag for Becky and sent it to her for her birthday last January. Unfortunately, I was so excited to get it in the mail when it was finished, that I'd forgotten to sew the accent button on before packing and sending it. I remedied that soon after they arrived. :)

Rob knew the kids were planning on visiting, so he'd kept his "eyes peeled" and came over to say hi when he knew they'd arrived. He lived in San Fransisco and had some "pointers" to share........

He "shared" his sage advice over a few beers....... :)

We took our "culinary kids" to Tex Tubb's Taco Palace on Saturday night, and Pasqual's on Sunday night. For some reason, it became a Mexican Food themed visit. We also took them to the new shop, Vom Fass (, where they were able to taste flavored oils and vinegars, settling on purchasing one vinegar that was made from fruit found in the Philippines.

They left Monday morning, planning on driving 12 hours, then camping for the night. Their next visit was to be in Boulder with Kim, our cousin Jill's daughter.

Their road trip will soon come to an end, as Sean starts at Rubicon this coming Monday. Becky has another week before she begins her internship at The Greens, so will have some time to get acclimated to the city.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Friday's Happy Hour....and Anna Exposed!"

Friday's happy hour was well attended. Even Alf and Sandra from further down the block stopped by. Lonnie and Charlie came over for a little socialization before leaving on their weekend camping trip.

Pictured left to right are: Me, Alf, Jeanan, Rob, Angela, and Andy. I had experimented that morning with making mini-burgers (in Andy's hand), which I am happy to say, turned out very well. The mini buns were made with my normal bread recipe. :) You might also notice the slight "glow" on the patio heater. IT was very much appreciated Friday night!

That is Sandra sitting in the green chair.

Anna and Michael came over as well. Anna had Bunion surgery a few weeks ago and was about to reveal her healing foot. DO NOT LOOK AT THE LAST PHOTO IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!

The surgeon had to break bones to repair the damage from the bunion, plus shortened 2 toes, and pinned things back together. Somewhere in there are also 4 screws....... If you'd like a closer look, don't forget you are able to click on the photo to see a larger version. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Birthday, Storage, and Rovings......"

Don and I had been invited to a surprise birthday party for our next door neighbor Bridgett. Her partner Tracy, was a sly one, pulling it off so Bridgett hadn't a clue that it was about to happen. :)

I think I had mentioned buying more storage for yarn a bit ago. These are my latest purchases for storage. I know I will not get an "Interior Designer of the Year" award, but they are very functional and allow me to see what I have easily, plus they take my yarn storage to a new and "higher" level. Poor pun, but intended... :) The old picnic basket holds the "loopers" that I bought while in Michigan. I've gotten those all "chained up" and ready for my upcoming weaving project. More on those later.......

Another storage unit in the same room, is this corner cabinet that is completely stocked with yarns.

And yet more areas of the bedroom which hold yarn....... 2 of the 5 drawers in my dresser, and an "under the bed plastic container". I have 2 of those. :) This doesn't take into account the yarns in shelving units sitting next to the loom itself, or the 2, 4-drawer units under Zack's play stand in the sun room, but I think you now understand that I have yarn EVERYWHERE! :)

I was the recipient of some beautiful Icelandic Sheep Roving. As some of you know, I am very interested in learning to spin my own yarn. I have joined some spinning groups on Yahoo, where I happened to see someone offer some samples of roving. I wrote and asked to be included, if any were left, and received this box of gorgeous wool last week. There is over 1/2 pound of roving, in 2 natural colors. It is extremely soft and "supposedly" easier to spin due to the length of the individual fibers. I'm counting on it. :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

"A Successful First Try and Sunday's Ride...."

When invited to Lonnie and Charlie's for dinner, I asked what we could bring and was told, without hesitation I might add, homemade bread. This was my first attempt at making an "artisan" loaf, which I had been wanting to do. I'd gone to Bed, Bath, and Beyond that afternoon, to buy my yarn storage drawers, and fortunately saw (and bought) parchment paper while there. I used our "stone" with the parchment paper in between it and the dough and this is how it turned out. I was happy with the results and I think it was approved by everyone else, too, as there were only 2 small pieces left after dinner, which the kids ate the next morning (finishing up the honey butter I made to go with the bread). :)

Don and I went for a bike ride on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day and we were, by far, not the only ones out. :) This was taken at the top of the hill in Olin can see downtown Madison across the lake (with the Capitol Dome on the far left).

We rode over to Tinney Park and went out on the pier next to the locks. There were not too many boats out on the water that afternoon (there was a chilly wind off the water), although a number of sailboats could be seen. In warmer weather, the locks are usually very busy, but not one boat went through or even came close to it, while we there. A duck has made her nest in one of the tree planters (seen in the background on the right). We're not quite sure how she will get her babies out when the time comes. Hopefully, she will allow human help, traumatic as it will be for her and the ducklings.

As we rode along near Union Terrace, the large sailboats (which are usually seen moored out in the water) were being hoisted from their trailers, and lowered into Lake Mendota. We'd seen them sitting on the pier last week when we'd ridden by, but it was a surprise to me how they reached the water. We'd just missed seeing this one in the air, which is too would have been a great photograph.

We thought we'd get to see this one picked up and lowered into the water, but the "crew" had been so busy watching the other one being moved, they sat and watched instead of lifting the mast and securing it. The "effort" seemed a little unorganized, so we gave up and left soon after this was taken.

I was a beautiful day for a ride. I hope we have similar weather this weekend. Sean (my youngest son) and his girlfriend, Becky, are stopping in Madison tomorrow, on their way to San Fransisco, where they both have "chef internships" for the summer. Sean will be working at Rubicon's, and Becky, The Greens. They'll stay with us and leave early Monday morning, arriving Wednesday, at another relatives home, cousin Kim, who lives in Boulder, and will spend some time with her, before pushing on the San Fransisco.