Defunct Blog: 2009

M.I.A. -- but not really...

... Two & a half months later:

Okay, again it's been a while since i posted.  I really need to make more of an effort in the future (now that i'm signed-up -- without a chance of a refund -- for another year).

A lot of things have happened since my last post, so let's catch up!

HLBoES has started its 2nd term & i find myself as one of the moderators, in addition to being the data maven.  I have given up being Ravenclaw HOH &, since we are no longer required to post on our personal blogs about HLBoES, you may or may not see the projects i complete this term...
I am also the moderator for the BookLovers' Yarn Swap this round. Fancy that. Books, Yarn, Presents in the mail... how could i not volunteer when the former moderator didn't seem interested in continuing?
The third year of the 52 Pair Plunge is underway, as well, but i've turned over the reins & will not be participating either -- i've just had too many "signs" that The Plunge & i are never to be...

My garden is flourishing. Sort of.
To date i have "harvested" 1 radish, 3 small beets, and 1 zucchini.  The marigolds i planted to repel mosquitoes are almost 3 feet tall, but have no blossoms.  My herbs all died, except one scraggly cilantro plant and, of course, the catnip.  My "Rose in My Garden" garden is not really fairing so well either.  The rose, which seemed to be doing such a great job getting leaves, has died & of the two peony bushes i planted, only one has come up... the sunflowers hit about 1 foot & keeled over.  This afternoon, i intend to plant pachysandra along our walkway -- the tag said that it's a hardy plant that grows well in shade... the place i'm planting it is shady, but if i can screw up marigolds, i can probably screw up pachysandra...

The biggest thing that has happened since my last post was the missions trip to Guatemala with S.E.R.C.H. & O.R.I.  To save my digital camera, i went old-school & used 35mm film... which seemedlike a good idea at the time, but now i'll have to scan any of my photos if i want to share them online.  Until i get them organized & figure out which ones i want to scan, i'm going to share some photos that were taken by our "Photo Guru" Al.

Day 1 -
We arrived in Guatemala City, by plane, after a short layover in Houston, TX.

Guatemala from the plane 
On the (school) bus ride to the coffee plantation where we stayed, we saw two volcanoes (one of which is an active volcano).  The volcano in the picture below is called "Agua" (translates to "Water") because a few hundred years ago it spewed hot water, which scalded the towns below, before it covered them with molten lava.  I'm really glad it's inactive now!!

Agua - largest volcano

Days 2, 3, & 5 -
Three of the days we spent in Guatemala were scheduled as work days at the orphanage Fundaniños.  The women did a lot of cleaning & helping with the babies & toddlers, while the men did a lot of building projects.

Fundaninos - cleaning the school (day 1) 
Fundaninos - setting the swingset (day 3) 
Of course, gender roles were not strictly enforced ;D
Fundaninos - Casa de los bebes (& peques) 4  ... in addition to playing with & caring for the children, i learned how to mix mortar & lay brick!
Fundaninos - me mixing mortar (day 2) 
Eventually, we had to say good-bye to the gang at Fundaniños...
Fundaninos - goodbyes (day 3) 

Day 4 -
In between our work days, we took a sight-seeing/culture-experiencing trip to Antigua, Guatemala. We were able to buy locally-made crafts & learn how the Ancient Mayans carved jade. Here is a view of the city from the cross that stands watch on the hill above.

Antigua - Cross above the city

Day 6 -
We traveled with one of the ORI missionary families to the ORI warehouse & 3 orphanages (to deliver supplies).

Nuevo Reto - group
Nuevo Reto ("New Challenge;" photo above)
Hogar Miguel Magone ("Home of Miguel Magone"; pronounced "mah-go-nay")
Amor del Niño ("Love the Child;" photo below)

Amor del Nino - going for a walk 

Day 7 -
On Sunday, we went to a worship service at a contemporary church above a strip mall in Guatemala City.  The church even provided an English translation of the sermon by way of headphones. (Pictures were not taken of the sanctuary, as per request of our guide).

After service, we went to one last Orphanage "Rosa de Amor" ("Rose of Love" - named after the woman who runs it, Rosita).  We took supplies, including new shoes, for the children & took them out to lunch -- at McDonalds. 

Rosa de Amor - getting new shoes
I never realized how "fancy" McDonalds is considered in other countries, until now (at the McDonalds in Antigua, you are served in an open, trellised courtyard, at your table; at the McDonalds we went to in Guatemala City, there were 6 armed guards in the parking lot & surrounding the building -- you can see one in the upper left corner of the picture below)...

Rosa de Amor - out for lunch at McDonalds 2 

Day 8 was our trip home, which was relatively uneventful, except for our 4+ hour layover in Houston...
The whole experience was moving & it has really made me reconsider how blessed my life is and how i can help others in need.  As a closing thought, i've included the picture below:

The milkman's wares
Door-to-door service (a la Guatemala City): The milkman's wares

Some 'splainin' to do...
Well, now, I've noticed that it's been over a month since i last posted here (i blame it all on Ravelry!!)...  But there are quite a few different things to catch up on... hmm... where to begin...
KNITTING & READING:The first term of the Hogwarts' Little Bit of Everything Swap ended in March.  I was in need of a reading fix, so i promptly chowed down on the first seven Sookie Stackhouse novels (Charlaine Harris, author). I read through those seven books almost as fast as i read through the four in the Twilight series (10 days).  Additionally, I joined some other swaps until the second term of the HLBoES begins. So I joined the Booklovers' Yarn Swap & a few of the Odd Ducks swaps (Dr. Seuss, Childrens' books, & Edward Gorey) in their respective groups on Ravelry.  The BLYS & the Dr. Seuss swap both ended yesterday, but Linda (my BLYS partner) and I both sent our packages a few days early. So...
Yesterday was awesome. Confusing to some extent, but awesome.  It was the last day of a shortened week (no school today because of the Apple Blossom Festival) AND when I got home from work, i had a package waiting for me. I was expecting the package from Linda (i'd been stalking it online & it had come through Baltimore the day before -- so it was a shoo-in), but the package wasn't from Linda!
::insert Mystery music here::
It was from my friend Cheryl (my spoiler for the first term of the HLBoE Swap) and it was an awesome belated birthday present -- the pop-up version of
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland! I have wanted it for soooooooooooo long, but couldn't bring myself to shell out the $$ for it... Cheryl said she bought it at a sale, the proceeds of which are going to help her friend that had a brain aneurysm. Prayers for Cheryl's friend!!
So after i got over my initial delight at the gift from Cheryl (which took a while, let me tell you) i started to wonder what happened to my other package... the one that i was supposed to get! ::hrrumph:: I searched by all of our doors, in case we had a different mail carrier for the day... no luck. I grabbed my delivery confirmation number & ran upstairs to the office to do some more online reconnaissance.  To my surprise, I found out that the post office had delivered it at about 9:30 that morning... which didn't make sense, because our mail doesn't arrive until at least 10:30 or 11.  As I'm pondering this, i hear my phone ring downstairs (not the "someone is calling you" ring, but the "you have a voicemail" ring... dunno how i missed the call)... And all of a sudden, everything goes ::click::
My MIL works at the post office. Sometimes, when I get a package, she will "pick it up" as my proxy & drop it off at our house on the way home from work.  So the call must have been from her, i figure, telling me that she is bringing the package to me.  So I jog downstairs, grab my phone & listen to my message. It's from the Blood Bank, requesting a donation.

Finally, I give up & go check on my garden (more about that later).  As I'm pouting and poking at the dirt & little green sprouts, my dog (more about him later) begins to bark. I look around... it's The Great White (my MIL's truck -- which is huge and white, if you couldn't figure that out) and my MIL has brought my huge package from Linda. Huzzah!  The♥Hubster arrived also at that time, which delayed the package opening frenzy (which was good because I needed to recoup some of the energy lost tearing into my first package).  However, a few minutes later, this is what I discovered:HPIM1423
- Four (count 'em!) Patterns -- in sleeves!! how thoughtful!! -- 3 for slippers & one for a basket blanket
- Three skeins of yarn (Malabrigo kettle dyed wool in Gorgeous shades of burgundy, brown, & green; Ultra Alpaca in a beautiful teal, which I alternately smelled and squished for a good long time; purple linen, which is exciting because i've been wanting to try knitting with linen for some time now)
- Two Turtledoves & a Partridge in a Pear Tree (just kidding)... but really...
- Zelda Fitzgerald: Her voice in Paradise (the book for the booklover)
- A Leaf Bookmark/Necklace (a
pattern from my faves in Ravelry)
- an assortment of other goodies: stitch markers (which I needed badly), a little change purse (that's almost exactly like the one i wore through as a child and is perfect for my smaller knitting notions), and some bath confetti (cleverly disguised as a book; sunflower scent!!) which i will be trying out in short order ;D
Last, but most certainly not least, Linda included a very thoughtful card.
I have decided to adopt Linda as an "Aunt." (Cheryl, if i haven't told you already, you're an "older sister.")

okay, other stuff:
GARDENING:Hadn't posted about it yet, but I planted my first vegetable garden a little more than a week ago. And it's starting to sprout! Lookee!!
Garden Apr09
So far you can see (from near to far) the two mounds with sunflowers, the row of radishes, the row of beets (you have to squint, or click on the picture to make it bigger), and the mounds with squash (left) and cucumbers (right).  I also planted some marigolds around the border & they're starting to make an appearance, as well! I will probably find a 10 minute window when it's not raining today to go out & thin the radishes, sunflowers, and maybe the squash... I'm still waiting on the tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.
Sometime this weekend (again, if it's not raining), I'd like to turn up the ground for a flower bed in the section of our yard that we have been affectionately calling "The Poop Garden"... i have great plans for the flower bed, which i intend to model after one of my favorite FAVORITE books as a child.
Here is the "Before" picture (don't look to close or you'll actually see the dog doo):
Poop Garden May09 

The "Poop Garden" is just one of the smaller attractions at
Mastiff Country Safari
Oh no! The beast has escaped...
::Chomp, Chomp, Gulp!::

Sorry for the short post, but it's late.
Someone on Ravelry suggested that I should write book reviews, an idea that I thought to give pause to.  It seems to me that this would be an excellent forum in which to try it out.  I can't promise to do one every week, but I'll post again tomorrow with the first... and we'll see how it goes from there.

Nifty Fifties...
One of my schools is having a sock hop later this month... I am cranked!
While I was researching hair-dos, I came upon some 50's slang & just had to share the following insults:

Peggy Sue (to Sally Ann): I can't believe Betty Jo came to my party wearing a blouse identical to the one I told her that I was going to wear! She's got some nerve!
Betty Jo (overhearing the conversation): Oh, D.D.T.! (Drop Dead Twice)
Sally Ann (to Betty Jo): What, and look like you?


HLBoES: Update...
I've been doing a lot of things lately (except posting here, apparently).
I apologize to anyone who has been following my blog...

As a side note, I received a wonderful package from a Ravelry friend (devotion2knit) as part of the HLBoE Swap. Check out all of the cool things she sent:
HLBoES package 1 001b

HLBoES: Flying Homework #4
Our brooms are made within County Laois, from Monterey Cypress trees grown outside of Emo. Each broom carries special charms to repell livestock and open flame (cypress can cause cattle to miscarry and can be extremely flammable) and to enhance the natural strength and reddish-gold color of the wood.
Sláinte Slant
Luath Lunge
Pitch:Our pitch is located in the bog below the Rock of Dunamase (Dún Masc is Irish Gaelic for “the fort of Masc”) in Leinster Province, Ireland. Our historic pitch was originally built in the early ninth century, but was demolished in 845AD when the Vikings of Dublin attacked the fort. Though the fort remained unoccupied for the next few centuries, the farmers and shepherds in the area attempted to maintain what was left of the pitch, using it for pick-up-games. In the late twelfth century, a muggle nobleman, William Marshal, built a castle on the Rock of Dunamase (see picture of ruins below). His wife, Isabel (née Strongbow), who was -- unbeknownst to him -- a witch, secretly funded the renovations of the nearby quidditch pitch. The original County Laois team included the noblewoman’s handmaiden, one of the stable boys, and the castle’s chief gardener. Later teams would include the magical heirs of William Marshal, as well as members of the Moritimer and Moore clans -- leading to the tradition of the County Laois team consisting solely of players with “M” surnames. Over the years, the castle fell into disrepair and, by the early fourteenth century, was abandoned. By this time, the countryside near the Rock of Dunamase had drawn a number of magical families. While the area is not exclusively magical, most of the local muggles are in some way related to a magical family, leading to a fairly loose interpretation of Clause 73 of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. (Yes, we have quite a few muggles who hold season tickets -- don’t tell!)

Ruins of the Castle
View from the Ruins (pitch is beyond hill on right)

Our current pitch is not as aesthetically pleasing as others made of marble or magicked to be invisible, in homage to the surrounding natural beauty. The County Laois stands are, like our broomsticks, made of Monterey Cypress (don’t worry, we have anti-splinter charms steadfastly affixed!). They are decorated with garlands of holly and ivy. The pitch itself is a carpet of shamrocks, naturally. Our hoops are embellished with golden celtic knots & look as if they were strung with silver harp strings. The strings are merely an illusion charm -- the quaffle can sail right through!

We have one cluricaun, Cassán, who comes and goes as he pleases.

Trading card (med) 

A stitch in time saves nine...
Well, our Charms professor for the HLBoE Swap has given us a most righteous assignment (EXCELLENT!).  We have been assigned to finish one UFO/WIP or item on our "to do" list.  Since I have a million projects (but can't seem to find the appropriate yarn, pattern, and/or needles for any of them), i figured i should begin an item that's been on my "to do" list for quite some time --> clean & organize my craft room.
Here's the before shot:
(sorry for the poor quality -- it's a stitched panoramic photo w/ bad lighting)

Craft room cleanup 01
Since this shot was taken, I have organized the mess into numerous piles (see below) & I will strike them out as I finish organizing them:
- Knitting & Crocheting Books
- Knitting & Crocheting Magazines- Assorted Papers (some patterns, some notes on patterns, some sketches of ideas, etc.)
- Sewing/Mending Projects
- Catalogs (which I really should just throw out...)
- WIPs/UFOs (50% complete)- Yarn
- Finished Projects (that don't have a home)
- Stuff that Belongs Elsewhere in the House (10% complete)- Knitting Needles & Paraphernalia (who decided it was a good idea to throw an extra "r" in there?!)
- Bags & Other Storage Containers (90% complete)- Keepsake Stuff from High School, College, Grad School, etc.
- Sewing Paraphernalia
- "Other" Craft Paraphernalia

It's a word that's been weighing on my mind the past week or so... 
I'm worried that i'm not using the gifts that God has given me for the glory of His Kingdom.  The Lord knows (and keeps reminding me) that I have piles (literally) that i need to either get rid of, donate to someone who needs it, and/or put to use.

So, there, that is my battle cry.  It will be done. I will start today.
Knitting & reading will have to wait.

They purr in stereo...
For our second "Care of Magical Creatures" assignment, in the HLBoE Swap, we were asked to hand-knit or -crochet a kitty cat.  I picked a pattern & found some appropriate yarn in my stash, but when i checked the CoMC thread, i found someone had already knit the pattern i was planning to knit.  Since I didn't want to post more of the same, i thought it might be fun (albeit slightly disturbing) to put my own twist on the pattern.  Thus, I give you the kitteh(s) i have affectionately named Mocha Java.(click picture for full-sized photo)
Mocha java 01 
L to R: Mocha and Java
Mocha java 02  Mocha java 03 
Mocha                                            Java

You can't see it in the pictures, but each of them has a tag on the green ribbon around their necks (M on Mocha, J for Java).The pictures really don't do the kitteh(s) justice -- they're too cuddly! 

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't...
Almond Joy Fingerless Mitts
(Click on picture for full-size)

Almond joy 03  Almond joy 04  Almond joy 05 
Almond joy 06  Almond joy 07  Almond joy 08

Our potions professor in the Hogwarts Little Bit of Everything Swap asked us to knit some fingerless mittens/gloves for our first assignment.
I designed these mitts & I am in the process of writing up the pattern.
I wanted a pair of mitts that I could wear when I felt sassy or when I felt blasé -- so one side has lace & the opposite side has simple cables... thus, they are interchangable.
The yarn I used was yak down (I adore how squishy it is! ).
If you knit these, I advise choosing a different color... one that does not resemble the fiberglass wrapping used in casts.  The first time I wore these I had two different people gasp in horror, thinking that I had broken both my arms... at least both of these people were kind enough to hold doors for me! ;D

Owl Essay
Care of Magical Creatures
Assignment #1 - Essay on a species of owl

**The Stygian Owl**
This owl's name comes from association with the River Styx (specifically, hell & darkness).
It was first classified in 1832 by Johann Georg Wagler.

As you can see, the owl is of medium to large size. It has black, sooty feathers on its back, a mottled coloring in front & a black (black as midnight, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch) beak. It also has erect, tufted ears which look like devil horns.
Stygian Owls fly with slow wing beats. They sleep in trees or ground foliage during the day & eat bats, birds, and small mammals at night. Humans are the most common predator of the Stygian owl. They are persecuted because of their association with the Devil.  They can be found in the mountains of Central & South America.

Busy, busy, busy...
I haven't had time to post for a little while now, because of all of the knitting I've been doing.  As much as I love knitting, I am ready to take a break and crack into some of the books I got for Christmas.  Here are some of the projects I've completed recently:
Hogwarts' Little Bit of Everything Swap -
Extra Credit Tea/Coffee Cozy

The assignment was to knit the cozy in our house colors.  Reinforcing the fact that I'm a Ravenclaw (book), the cozy is knit in a bronze yarn to accent my blue tea/coffee cup.  The piece was knit in a rectangle & laced-up (corset-style) so that it could be removed & used on other mugs.  I used dk blue ribbon for the laces.
Ryan's Christmas Scarf -
007  008
The scarf was double-knit with Karabella Aurora 8 (luscious!). The pattern is my own.  I went back and used the blue to duplicate stitch the "Lions"/"2008."  My husband said I should have done "0-16"/"2008" instead, to honor their less-than-amazing-but-forever-memorable season.
Ernestine Eagle (mascot) hat -
002  003  008
(ooOOOooo! the first picture of me on a blog!)
Note: the green knit cap above is the first I ever knit -- for the hubster (before he was the hubster!)

Secret Santa present (for Jen) -
041  042 
Enough ramblings for now... more soon!

Bluestocking Reading Inventory (2008)
In the yearly tradition of reviewing my literary adventures each year, here are the conquests vanquished in 2008 (please note: some of these titles are books for children and young adults--i am an elementary teacher, after all, and need to keep up with the kidlettes; each * represents prior times read; watch for !!! indicating HIGHLY recommended books):
January--Homecoming - Cynthia Voigt
Replay - Sharon Creech*
Rumpopo's Porch - Bill Beeber (Sharon Creech pseudonym?)*Mary Poppins - P.L. TraversGrendel - John Gardner*
February--The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
S is for Silence - Sue Grafton
The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander (!!! - this series is amazing! great for boys!)
The ABC Book - Dr. Seuss***************(etc.)
Fox in Socks - Dr. Seuss***************(etc.)
The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander
The Juniper Game - Sherryl Jordan*****
The Castle Llyr - Lloyd Alexander
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T.S. Eliot* (!!! - great for fans of cats &/or funny poetry)
The Foundling & Other Tales of Prydain - Lloyd Alexander
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? - Avi
Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander
The High King - Lloyd Alexander

Round-trip to Deadsville - Tim Matson
Bloodsucking Fiends - Christopher Moore
A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg (!!! - amazing author)

T is for Trespass - Sue Grafton
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian - Sherman Alexie
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi (!!!)
In the Time of the Bells - Maria Gripe (!!!)
Knight: A Noble Guide for Young Squires - Dugald Steer
Criss Cross - Lynne Rae Perkins

May--The Pagemaster - David Kirschner
Genesis - The Bible**** (!!!)
Exodus - The Bible**** (!!!)

June--The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart (!!! - gifted kids save the world)
Catherine, Called Birdy - Karen Cushman (!!! - full of bawdy [but not vulgar] humor)
Praying in Color - Sybil MacBeth (!!! - for visual/creative thinkers)
The Wish Giver - Bill Brittain
Inkheart - Cornelia Funke (!!! - great series; especially for those who love books!)
Peter & Veronica - Marilyn Sachs

July--Inkspell - Cornelia Funke
The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling******
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling******
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling*****

August--Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling*****
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling****
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling***
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling*
The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (!!!)
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield (!!! - great for those who love books; adult content)
Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: Book 1 "The Nixie's Song" - Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi*
Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: Book 2 "The Giant Problem" - Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi

October--Hate that Cat - Sharon Creech (!!! - amazing author)
Frindle - Andrew Clements
Midnight for Charlie Bone - Jenny Nimmo
Elizabeth Gail & the Dangerous Double - Hilda Stahl
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister - Jenny Nimmo
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick* (!!! - beautiful drawings, clever plot)
First the Egg - Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Henry's Freedom Box - Ellen Levine
The Wall: Growing up behind the Iron Curtain - Peter Sis
Punished! - David Lubar (!!! - word fun for everyone)

November--Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy - Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors - Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King - Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone and the Beast - Jenny Nimmo
Wolves! - Emily Gravett
I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track - Joshua Prince
Little Lost Bat - Sandra Markle
Mammoths on the Move - Lisa Wheeler
The Great Fuzz Frenzy - Janet Stevens & Susan Crummel
Once I Ate a Pie - Patricia MacLachlan (!!! - dog lovers!!!)
Duck at the Door - Jackie Urbanovic
Library Lion - Barbara Knudsen (!!! - i want a lion for my library)
Bad Boys Get Cookie! - Marjorie Palatini
Stars Beneath Your Bed: The surprising story of dust - April Sayre

The Wednesday Wars - Gary D. Schmidt (!!!)
Family Demise (galley proof/ARC) - Gloria J. Russell (!!! - spiritual warfare)

That's 77 books (over 18,000 pages). Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Trademark Formation:


County Laois Cluricauns(Laois is pronounced “leash”; Cluricauns are relatives of leprechauns. You can find out more about them here.)

Emerald green (one-shouldered for the ladies, standard robes for the men) with golden embellishments on the front & a golden harp embroidered on the back (such as the Leinster province flag below).Leinster flag Players can also be recognized by their rouged their cheeks & light blue stockings.
Most Effective Move: