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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Ok, I know I've already shown you my scarf; but I decided to mess around and see how people do a self portrait. I've tried just holding the camera out at arms length pointing it at myself and haven't managed to get a picture with the subject...be it a hat, or scarf, or me. So, decided to try the silly bathroom mirror.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Say NO

green shopping bagsJust say NO. Say no to plastic bags, say no to paper bags. I know we all have canvas totes, sometimes at home on the door knobs, sometimes in our trunk, and sometimes even in the back seat, but we forget to carry them in with us. AND, how many do you carry. Here's a perfect solution. This bag of bags is little, light weight, and super easy to use. Easy to use, because you don't forget them. See the little green draw string bag? All these bags...all six of them fit into this little bag. The little bag easily sits right in your snack tray. I have one in my car, hubby has one in his. He can put the little bag of bags even in his pocket. I imagine most women could put the bag in their purses. I can't, I don't carry a large purse. They fold up, and roll up and easily fit with space left over in this little pouch. I've laid them out in various stages of being folded or rolled so you could see them. They are as big as a large paper bag and they do hold alot! They are strong. I think hubby might have one of my bags, cause I have two tan ones...hum, wonder what color I'm missing. lol I'll have to have him check his colors. Livesmart Bags. We ordered ours on line. When we ordered we ordered 5 or 6 sets so we had some as gift items and therefore we didn't pay postage.

I highly recommend these bags. I've not forgotten to use these once since we've purchased them, but I was constantly forgetting my canvas totes.

Go Green, say no to plastic and paper.

**errr this was a scheduled post, and since I wrote, I did forget once...just a short while ago. Had them in my pocket and stopped at Hobby Lobby for a few little items and totally forgot to use them. Geeeeeeeees that's irritating. Only a small plastic bag though, the smallest they make. It's hard to break habits; but let's keep trying.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Home Buyer Tax Credit

first homeMy parents first house pictured above was purchased with the benefit of The G.I. bill. A cozy little house with no frills; just the basics. Government programs have a history of helping first time homeowners to stimulate the economy. Lots of fond memories thanks to the program that allowed my folks to purchase their first home.

The good news is First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit has been extended and broadened. First time home buyer credit will help many young couples (or singles) as well as those wanting to move up. The extension allows for tax credits up to $8,000.00 for all first-time buyers who purchase a home on or after January 1, 2010 AND on or before April 30, 2010; (closing date deadline is June 30th).

Qualifying income limits have also been broaden to $125,000.00 from $75,000.00 for those filing single tax returns; and to $225,000.00 from $150,000.00 to married couples filing a joint return. Clearly this opens this benefit to more perspective buyers. Tax credits of $6,500.00 for current home owners wishing to move up are also available, with some restrictions about how long you've owned your current home.

Two most commonly asked questions are probably-- what's the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction, and if the credit is up to $8,000.00 how do I know how much my credit will be?
  • A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe, while a tax reduction lowers the income base you pay tax on. It's important you understand this difference.
  • The credit is 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to $8,000.00.
A friend of our daughters did this instead of watching rent fly out the window. Had our daughter not been moving at the time, we would have suggested she do the same.

File IRS form 5405 with your Federal Tax Return to take advantage of this program, and happy house hunting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's always something

ceiling vent fanHubby's hand you see with screwdriver in hand working on the vent for the light/fan combo vent in the bathroom. Our bathroom is small, so venting it a huge deal. Very necessary in fact to try and stay a wee bit ahead of mildew. Our fan was making noise like a hurt animal. It was awful, made that noise when you turned in on and off; though once it got going it calmed down. In years past when this needed to be replaced, it was pretty easy screw off replace, screw on. No more, apparently. Our vent whole is a different size than those now made, and since ours is a combination light and fan outlet that too presents problems for those replacements that only one or the other. No doubt due to the age of our house this has become an issue. But, hubby's pretty hand and took a fan off one unit and put on another...or at least I think that's what I understood him to say.

Thanks Hubby, it sounds sooooooooo much better.

Does anyone ever feel like everything is done at their house? Seems just as you get one item taken care of, another needs your attention. He always says, "The joys of home ownership."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snow fun when you're Young

Let me show you how to do it Mom
This shovel's heavy
I can run with it
She's taking my picture
Some of you might recognize my cute little guy. He's growing and so helpful around the house. lol I took these photo's looking out my window having fun watching him in his p.j.'s shoveling the drive. Kids are sooooooooo much fun.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Days are Different

snow sceneSchools are closed today, (or were the day I took this photo). This is a schedule post, so the day was a few days ago. We've gotten fresh snow every day now for a couple of weeks. It's pretty, but very cold. This was taken out my dining room door window. Right through the glass before I even had my first cup of coffee. Can you feel the cold? The snow isn't so much why the kids had the day off from school, but the strong winds which made the chill well below zero for kids standing waiting on a school bus.

I remember how excited my daughter would get as a kid when there was a snow day. Our routine then was to bundle up, and go for pancakes a local old dinner. She was out of school the day before this when St. Louis got socked with even colder temperatures then we had here in Ohio. That's pretty weird, normally they're warmer. She's now a school teacher; some things never change. She was still pretty excited to have a snow day. lol; though she spent the day grading papers, writing lesson's plans and getting a bit done from home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Treating myself, LOVE it!

Technically, this is one of the 4 projects I posted when I posted my wip (ufo) before the end of the year. My goal was to finish by New Years, but I didn't make that deadline. This is a scheduled post. I finished this several days ago, and worked on some hats and scarves for The Bridge. This is using the 2 different sized needles, I blogged about it here. I LOVE this scarf, it's colors and texture; but wasn't all that happy with the yarn. I used 2 cakes of Taos 100% wool from Crystal Palace Yarn. It's super soft both around the neck and to work with; but twice the yarn broke/split and pulled apart as I was knitted. In both cases I was busy knitting and until I reached just a few inches (3-4) from the ripped piece didn't even know it. I assume that's a problem from spinning? This isn't cheap yarn though, so while I might accept this with a lower cost yarn, really wasn't happy about it here. Luckily I was at the end of a row each time this happened; and think (fingers crossed) I was able to restart the yarn without making a weak area in my scarf. Directions indicate handwash-dry flat or dryclean.

We're trying to stay warm, snow still coming down and it's cold. In 3 weeks we'll be heading to South Carolina where I hope to have a week of warmer weather.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wise as an Owl

Olney Avenue Grade School
Olney Avenue School, wise as an Owl was the school motto. Funny all these later how I remember that. I attended this school from K through part of the 3rd grade. It was a wonderful old school. It's the picture I see in my mind when someone says the word school. Funny how much smaller it is, then my memory of it. lol

In my mind I see large big steps going up to the big doors. Seems I have better pictures of this somewhere, I must find them; and if I can ever get my scanner working again...

This school was built in 1906. It had huge windows that actually opened! It had a boiler room where you went to bang out the erasers, or cut through to get to the bathroom on the other side of the building. We were all actually a little afraid of going to or through the boiler room. The building wasn't very old went it caught fire in 1914, on a cold winter's day 96 years ago. That's right, the fire was Jan 13, 1914 and it gutted the almost new building. Firemen worked through frigid temperatures to control the blaze with ice on their uniforms. Several received scalp wounds when portions of walls fell down around them. The fire was caused by a defective heating system, and due to oil on the floors spread rather quickly. (the floors were beautiful hardwood). 320 students who were then enrolled got several weeks off; no doubt they were happier than their parents. Another difficulty of fighting the fire was lack of water pressure in the fire hoses. The firemen really had a time of it.

This school had large cloak rooms, with 2 entrances. I have fond memories of a certain cloak room. Mark, gave me my first kiss in the cloak room. lol This school educated a large number of students. Many of my school friends' parents attended school here. Girls played on one side of playground while the boys played on the other. Things weren't co-ed back in the day. Sadly this cool old building was demolished in 2004. I wanted to go and tour the inside of it, never made it though and am sorry I didn't get to before it was gone.

The buildings are gone; but I still have memories of the building and the people. How bout you? Do you have memories of your school days?
Olney Avenue Grade SchoolMarion, Ohio Olney Avenue Elementary School
The black and white photo is the school prior to the fire, and the 2nd photo is shortly after being rebuilt after the fire.

Monday, January 11, 2010

When I Grow Up I'm Gonna....

yarn cakesWhen I grow up, I'm gonna be? What? This yummy, super soft baby alpaca yarn is waiting to be something. My daughter selected this when we had a yarn shopping day. She loves green and purple. Most of her clothes are green and purple. Her room where she's living will be green and purple (still hasn't technically moved in).

This yarn is too pricey to buy much of it, so one skein of each limits what it came become. She asked for a scarf and while she knits herself; she wanted something beyond her current knitting skills. So, it's not really a question of what it will become; but the details of what type of scarf. So, when you shop for yarn, do you know ahead what you're going to make? Or do you buy colors, textures you like and figure it out later?

She asked for stripes, so currently I'm thinking about whether or not I want each color to have it's own texture, or maybe only one color have a pattern/texture with stitches in contrast to a plain 2nd color....Thoughts? I don't think I want both stripes be the same stitch?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Kindness, something we're taught

It's been awhile since I've posted a memory of Mom. Guess I'm only about half way into the alphabet at letter K. Kindness is something I remember Mom talking alot about. She'd often say put yourself in their shoes, treat them as you want them to treat you, But for the grace of God go I. I must admit when real young I didn't understand the last quote; but remembered her saying it anyway.

I remember her always saying to be kind, not to pick on people, not to say mean things, and to stand up for the underdog. When I was real young, I had a friend with a brace on her leg from polio. I remember her being a whiz with puzzles, something I wasn't good at at all. Kids were pretty mean to her, guess they didn't know any better. I also remember how excited I was when my friend got the brace off her leg and for the first time we were able to go down the slide together. I probably wouldn't have that fond memory if it weren't for Mom, teaching me how to be kind.

I had a little boy in my class named Frankie who had seizures in class, even the teacher wasn't kind to him. One day when an incident happened and I was upset about it, my mother showed me again how kindness pays off. She went to school and explained to the teacher what was going on with little Frankie. The teacher had actually punished him for not paying attention. Mom knew from my description about what happened that he had seizures, it wasn't that he wasn't paying attention. After that, things went better for little Frankie.

Thanks Mom for those important life lessons, and the memories they've given me.

The picture is of hubby, my young daughter and I years ago. Just a picture I thought I'd share.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

I love piano music. Who doesn't? It can be light and fun, jazzy and upbeat, peaceful and calming. I've spent lots of time this past year at the hospital when my mother was critically ill. The last 2 days I was there again, my younger brother had surgery. It was the first time I had been back to the hospital since Mom passed. The beautiful piano music being played in the hospital's lobby made me wonder how many piano lessons this woman had taken. It was comforting to listen and watch her play and helped me through the day. Playing piano is a skill I don't have, and one my SIL wishes to have.

If you already play and want to jazz up your style, please take a look at these options for piano lessons. For your ease, there's a toll free number to help you with any questions you might have. You can take lessons on line! I love the idea of taking piano lessons, at a time convenient to me; and it's private! You improve your current skills, learn tricks of the trade with lessons on DVD too. Sheet music is available and printable in a wide variety of music styles. If you want to make your left hand come alive, improve your skills with cords, or jump from an intermediate player to an advance player this is for you. And, I've saved the best to last...there's a free trial. If playing more, improving your skills, or getting back to something you love was a New Years Resolution here's your chance. Music improves our lives in so many ways.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dinner is served.

homemade ravioli
lemondrop martini
Homemade Butternut squash ravioli and my lemondrop martini. The lemondrop was my cocktail of choice before dinner while hubby's prefer's a dry gin martini with a twist. Making Martini's is fun; and I've been working to perfect my Lemondrop. Look how nicely my sugared rim turned out. Nice little ice crytals also in the froth. My best yet.

We had a nice bottle of wine (Gran Tarapaca Pinot Noir Reserve with the pasta dish. The wine is a full bodied (raspberry, cherry & plum) ruby wine from Chile. The pasta my first attempt at making homemade ravioli. A post or two back I mentioned my daughter and I made a ton of pasta. This was 1 of 4 types we made. Butternut Squash Ravioli stuffed with Mascarpone.
  1. Cook the squash (slice it in half and cook in the microwave)
  2. Cut squash in small pieces, add some liquid (we used juice from mandarin oranges) and make a puree in food processor/blender. We used processor, but I think blender would have worked better
  3. Add flour 1/4th cup at a time and mix (regular wheat flour, whole wheat, and semolina). Mix with fork until you can't any longer, switch to mixing and kneading with your hands. This takes quite awhile. Using a whole squash made a very large amount of dough.
  4. Refrigerate dough to rest it.
  5. Add flour to prepare it for the rolling in pasta machine (I have a hand crank unit). Make long rectangles, as evenly as you can (I rolled several times on each setting 1-2-3 and stopped after rolling twice on 4)
  6. Use Ravioli cutter to make squares (remember you need top and bottom). Add Mascarpone to center of one square. Dip your finger into bowl of water and run around edge of the square you've added filling to. Place 2nd square on top, pinching 4 edges. Arrange on counter, cookie sheet, or cloth to dry. Once partial dry, flip over and when you feel they're not going to stick together store in zip lock bag in freezer. Try to keep from breaking by laying flat.
**Remember cooking fresh pasta requires less cooking time than boxed or frozen pasta.
I served this was red and yellow peppers, onion, and small green beans. Mix those items and cook about 3 minutes in the microwave with a drizzle of olive oil. Cut up a dozen little smokies and cook 1 minute in microwave, then add smokies to veggies and cook one more minute. Depending on how much olive oil you used in the cooking process you may or may not need to drizzle a bit more on your pasta. Garnish with fresh peppercorn and grated Asiago Cheese and enjoy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Christmas Pasta

homemade spinach pasta
Don't know if there really is such a thing as Christmas Pasta; but that's what I'm calling this. Above you see pretty green spinach pasta on the drying racks. My daughter and I made a ton of pasta. Really both of us worked on it for about 10 hours solid. We were sure tired at the end. This is just 1 of 4 types we made that day. You need frozen spinach, once it's thawed (which takes quite awhile), you squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Keep the liquid though for later. The spinach is your liquid source. Blend in with fork regular flour, whole wheat flour and semolina flour. I usually add about 1/4th cup at a time as it becomes quite difficult to mix. Once you can't mix with the fork any longer, dive in with your hands. Mix and need, over and over and over again. Keep adding flour as you go. Once you feel like you can't add anymore, cover tightly and put in the fridge for awhile. It let's it rest, and you too. Or would if we hadn't been moving right into another batch of something.
You may or may not need to add a little of liquid you squeezed out. Once you remove it from the fridge you'll need to add more flour as you prepare it for the roller in the pasta machine. I have one of those hand cranks ones. I run it through each number several times and usually stop on #4 for the weight of fettucini we like. Your pasta is cut so next you hang it on the rack to dry. I had 3 separate drying racks set up in the kitchen on this day. Whew! I don't totally dry it, but enough that it's not sticky any longer. Then I store in zip lock bags in the freezer. **When you cook fresh pasta you cook it less than boxed store bought.

The meal I've named Christmas Pasta is the homemade spinach fettucini topped with red and yellow peppers, purple onion, and small pieces of ham. The veggies and ham are warmed quickly in the microwave (3-4 minutes) with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a light Alfredo sauce and fresh ground pepper. Pretty and yummy!

Don't forget a nice bottle of wine and bread. No need really for a salad, got your veggies right with your pasta.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Taking Stock

I pushed hard towards the end of year to turn lots of UFO (unfinished objects) into FO (finished objects). I didn't get them all done, but improved the situation 10 fold.

Taking a counting here:
Need to make the mate for this mittencrocheted mitten which is crocheted and would be nice and warm. I really disliked doing this pattern, I remember that, which is no doubt why I tossed it aside. Though I didn't remember it, way down at the bottom of my basket. The basket I keep by my chair. Now to make matters worse, I don't have the hook I used with it, so wonder what size I used? And I need to find the pattern. Normally...I'm better organized and have the pattern and hook or knitting needles with the unfinished object (UFO)

Finish my scarf (which I didn't get done for New Years like I planned), but fingers crossed I'll get it done by the wkend. This is the 2 different sized needles, Condo Stitch I've blogged about in the previous post.

Finish Candy Corn (which is the longest running unfinished project I've ever had). Seriously I found where I had blogged about this in the starting stages way back in June of 2008. It would be constantly pushed aside when I was working on other things. It's crocheted, a big granny, but piecemeal and irregular in design as you can see. I like funky things.
Finish The Circle's in a square ghan for a co-worker. I love the look, but this isn't an easy carry along and do elsewhere type project. So...I need to work on it here at the house. I have brought the bag, pattern and yarn being used for this up from my storage shelves....hint hint.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Yummy Baby Alpaca, Chunky and Fabulous

knitted red scarfThis beautiful luscious red scarf is made with 2 different sizes of knitting needles, 10 and 17. This stitch is called Condo stitch and is straight garter stitch knitted alternatively with the 2 different sizes.
knitted lace
You can see how lacy the stitch can be in this photo where the scarf was held up next to a light in order to see through it. The suggestion is to use the size needle suggested on the yarn wrapper for your small needle and then go as big as you like, depending on how open you want the lace to be. I like this 7 size difference. My daughter made this fabulously soft scarf for her school secretary as a special gift to thank her for all the extra things she's done. The yarn is Cascade yarns, Baby Alpaca Chunky ( a bit pricey but this is a special gift).

Below is my start using the same technique but with size 8 and 15 needles and some rather nice high end wool. I say high end, because I rarely purchase fiber of this nature; but am treating myself. I've not made myself a scarf in about 5 years and those I have are looking pretty pathetic. I love the fun colors in this yarn. Crystal Palace Taos 100% wool. Daughter needed to take needles with her so I'll knit this off onto my round Denise needles and attach a different size to each end.
scarf in the works

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

The photo is of wine and flowers, not champagne as I've not yet photographed a bottle of bubbly though I'm sure we will have some.

New Years is a time of reflection, out with the old and in with the new. Some make goals, some make resolutions, some party, some stay in, some have a special meal. What's your New Years Tradition? Generally we go out for a nice meal, have champagne at home afterwards and watch the ball drop. After we kiss for New Years, we call family. Then go to bed.

This New Years will be the first without Mom, as she passed in April. I'm writing this early, scheduling it to publish so am unsure if we're staying in or going out this year.

I'm hopeful the year 2010 will be a better year than 2009 was. It was a long and difficult year for us. My Mother was very ill for an extended period of time, in and out of nursing facilities, multiple surgeries, multiple hospital stays before she mercifully passed. My younger brother had surgery and has not yet recovered. My daughter moved from Baltimore to St. Louis (some of which still isn't resolved); and switched jobs. Hubby and I both had a less healthy year than normal. All in all, it's been a stressfilled year.

I am pleased with the progress The Bridge and Beyond has had with donations and membership and hope that continues to grow. Sadly, the need has grown.

I learned how to do a few new things here in the blog world, though I hope to learn a few more in the coming year. I started this blog way back in August of 2005, though I've deleted the older posts to minimize bandwidth. My Alexa ranking is 2,159,176, hope that goes down in the coming year (lower is better) while my Google page rank is currently 2 perhaps that will improve and go up (higher is better). I've enjoyed getting to know some new bloggers and hope that also continues.

I'm trying hard to improve my knitting skill and would like to learn to knit socks in the year 2010.

Happy New Year to all, may you be happy, healthy, and safe in the year ahead.