Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Feature

I've decided that I am going to start posting books I've recently finished or am currently reading, as well as my opinion of said book. Do with that information what you will. I will try to avoid spoilers.
I will also include W's current "favorite" book.
Just to prepare you, I am bad about reading several books at once. I am also bad about getting halfway through a book, saying to myself "this book is crap" and quitting the book right then and there. I go to the library every Tuesday (usually) so the contents of my bedside table library change pretty frequently.
Books I have recently finished:
The Worthy, by Will Clarke: As the back of the book says, you'll never look at a doughnut the same again. The same can be said for goats. This is a "ghost tale" of sorts that takes place on the campus of LSU. Frat boys run amok (well, more amok than normal). Entertaining and well-written.
Simple Genius, by David Baldacci: I couldn't finish this one. Too many sub-plots can ruin a book.
The Collectors, by David Baldacci: Again, too many sub-plots. I actually finished this one, but it was painful.
Books I am currently reading:
In the Walled Gardens: A Novel, by Anahita Firouz: This book is pretty good, but it's sort of hard to follow, as the names and places are foreign. I'm finding it hard to care much about the main characters. I might have to put this one aside for a week or so.
The Concise Guide to Sounding Smart at Parties, by David Matalon and Chris Woolsey: "An irreverent compendium of must-know info from Sputnik to Smallpox and Marie Curie to Mao." Priceless information for 14+ conversation situations, including The War Conversation, The Sports Conversation, and The New Frontiers Conversation. This sort of book is right up my alley.
W's current favorite:
Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton: In truth, the perennial favorite of W. Mike and I often do a "dramatic interpretation" of this one, much to W's delight.

Beautiful Weather

The weather outside today is delightful. After going to the library, W and I went to the park. He enjoyed running across the soccer fields and climbing on the benches. They have a scaled-down play structure that he enjoys climbing on. After about 45 minutes of playing, I said, "Hey W, let's go bye bye and go home for nap." He got off the play equipment and started walking away from it. No crying, no whining. It was great. On the way to the car he noticed his shadow. This isn't the first time he's noticed it, but it was the first time he's really been mesmerized by it. He started "moon walking" (walking backwards) so that he could watch his shadow. It was pretty cute.
We carved our pumpkins last night. I dug out all the guts before Mike got home. I had one of those "kits" that comes with the "saws" and patterns. I broke one of the "saws" while carving the small pumpkin (the skin was really tough!), and Mike broke the other "saw" while carving the big pumpkin that we got at Terhune. Our "bat" on the big pumpkin doesn't have any eyes. One of the neighborhood kids asked me "What kind of face is that?" and I said, "Well, it's not really a face... It's supposed to be a bat." He looked at me incredulously and shrugged his shoulders and walked off to play with his buddies. This is the kid who isn't allowed to go Trick-or-Treating. At his house they celebrate "Hallow-God". The family of five kids dress up like Biblical characters and swap candy with one another. Oh-kaaaay... As Mike says, fine if you don't want to Trick-or-Treat or ignore Halloween, but it's sort of weird to "celebrate" it but just call it something different. This kid, who's 5, is going to be an angel. He told me that his older brother, who's 10, is going to be Peter. Even though I knew who he meant, I asked him (bad me!) who Peter was. He said, "Um, he's from the Bible... He was friends with Jesus." Ah.
I also made the mistake today of mentioning that W was going to get a "bike" from Santa this year. Kid says to me, "Santa is dead." I'm sure that goes over like a ton of bricks on the playground. I said, "Excuse me?" He responds, "Yeah, Santa is dead. God hands out the presents. Santa died because he was old." Again, don't celebrate that aspect of Christmas (the "surprise" presents) if you don't want to, but don't just celebrate it under another name. It's sort of how we got those holidays to begin with... Started out as Pagan rituals, were commandeered by the Christians, who let the Pagans still have their holidays to keep 'em happy, but added a Christian theme to them to satisfy their own collective conscience.
I finished up several cross stitch projects a few nights ago. These are the items I'm sending to Japan. I have taken pictures of them but haven't uploaded them onto the computer yet. I'll try to get to that tonight.
But I digress.
Here is a picture of a piece I have finished stitching but have not done any finishing work on yet. The cat is part of a group of Halloween images that I'm going to use as part of a Halloween decoration for next year. I've started stitching seasonal ornaments. I've got kits for Halloween and Valentine's Day so far; I have to procure a seasonally-neutral "tree" or ornament display stand to put them on as seasonally appropriate. If anyone knows where I can get one, please let me know.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cleaning House

Here's a great (easy) way to get your house clean... Shorten your Swiffer handle and attach a cleaning pad. Give to child. Volia!

Terhune Orchards

We went to a local pick-your-own place today. Terhune Orchards is fewer than 5 miles from our house. They have tons of different types of fruits and vegetables that you can pick yourself, as well as lots of farm animals. We went to get our Halloween pumpkin. W had a great time looking at the animals. He really liked the goat.

We saw lots of pumpkins that we liked. W kept trying to pick them up. He also kept getting tripped up in the vines. In spite of the drizzly and chilly weather, we had a really nice time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Sudoku

I couldn't resist posting these pics...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sudoku Championship

Today was the big day for the First Annual Sudoku Championship. I, along with about a thousand other nerds, converged on the Philadelphia Convention Center at 9 this morning. After snagging my free t-shirt and goody bag, I chilled out for a bit with Mike and W. The first and second rounds were back-to-back, starting at 11. There were 263 contestants in my division, beginner. After about 5 minutes of solving, I was the 43rd to finish. In the second round, I took about the same amount of time and was 34th to finish. The third round, after lunch, was much harder. I messed up on the puzzle, and after 7 minutes of solving, I finished 95th. There were some people who didn't finish in the 30 minute time allotment, so not too bad on my part, I guess.
Since there was nothing to do but sit after completing each puzzle, I was glad I had brought some cross stitch to work on. I started on, and got about halfway done with, a piece that will become an ornament for my friend's son's first Christmas. This is also the one I did for a couple of friends of ours who just got married, as well as for my nephew.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Merry Little Christmas

I got a book (Better Homes and Gardens: A Cross Stitch Christmas) at the library last week that has Christmasy cross stitch designs in it. Most of them are in styles I don't particularly care for, but there are a few that I dig. I am doing one right now that is a Lizzie Kate design that says "Have a Merry Little Christmas". It's really cute; I am stitching it on navy blue 14-count Aida cloth. There are directions for making a frame for the finished design out of twigs; I collected some candidates in the yard yesterday. I'll post pics when I finish it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Painted House

Our house is finally painted! It really looks great. They replaced the rotted wood and we got completely new shutters. They dripped a little paint on my plants, but that's not really a big deal.
DDH took down our back fence this morning. Mr. B's Fence Company is delivering new panels tomorrow morning. DDH is going to start putting it up while W's taking his nap, after W's 15-month check-up at the pediatrician. I won't be along for the fun, as I will be having my first subbing experience at Notre Dame High School. I want to sub some to make sure that I really want to go back to the classroom once I do go back to work. Part of me doesn't want to go back to the classroom, as I feel like a babysitter at times. However, there are aspects of teaching that I do love, and I just want to see if those aspects still outweigh the negative. I have ideas as to what else I could do besides teach, but since I have experience teaching and it does provide a nice summer break, I want to give it a try up here in NJ.
It's looking like Eudora might have to retire to MS. She isn't a mean dog at all, she's just old and can't see well. W. will come over to her and try to love on her and because she can't see well, it startles her. She grumps on W. a little too much, and last night she actually made physical contact with him. She left a couple of minor scratches on his face, frighteningly close to his eye. There was a bit of blood, which scared me, but once I got him cleaned up, it was clear that the wounds were small and shallow. I treated the boo-boos with hydrogen peroxide and put Neosporin on them. Thank God she didn't cause any REAL damage. DDH and I discussed it last night and think it would be best if she went to live with her Burdy and Ace at the Del Barka Vista-Rankin County Location before she does anything worse...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Surprise! You're home!

Getting home (back to NJ) has been really nice. My DDH did lots of projects around the house while I was away. He installed a light fixture in our downstairs bathroom, installed a fan/vent in the upstairs bathroom, and (drumroll please) planted my shrubs! They look great. To top everything off, the painters are here today and they are working their tails off. What else could a girl ask for?
I got my pens today for the Sudoku tournament that takes place this weekend. I have to break them in a bit prior to Saturday. Can't just walk in there with virgin pens!
I've cross stitched a bookmark for my mom's birthday. Her BD is Saturday, but she won't be celebrating much, as she will be on a school trip to the Huntsville Space Center with 50+ 5th graders. She says that her best BD gift is that she'll be done with that trip for another year!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cute Boy

A friend of mine took this picture last weekend during a visit to NJ. I'm pretty biased, but he's pretty cute, in my opinion. The thing you can't see is how many teeth the child has! What you can see, however, is how much he favors his daddy (that is, if you know his daddy).

Family Ties

Visiting the Fam in MS is great. Unfortunately our visit has been a bit rushed. I had a wedding to go to yesterday afternoon at 2; it's amazing how a 2 o'clock wedding can take up the entire day. Don't get me wrong, the ceremony was beautiful, and I'm glad I was able to go. But the thing is, you have to get ready, get there, sit through the I-do's, visit a bit afterwards, then go about the rest of your day. It just sort of throws a crimp in things.
That being said, I am hard-pressed to do much else this weekend. My mom has set up a luncheon with family friends for today, which means today is shot as well. Again, this is not a bad thing, but it means doing anything else is out of the question, especially with respect with W. He's going to be a real doll for about two hours, then he will become super-cranky-baby. Visiting his great-grandfather? We'll see. I don't know if he could take a super-cranky-baby visit.
Lunchtime. Let's eat.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

#@%$ Painter!

Bad news on the painter front. Mike caught up with him this morning and managed to pry out of him that he won't get around to painting our house until next Wednesday. Sooo annoying. There goes another week of not being able to plant my new plants. It also furthers the delay in getting my tulip and crocus bulbs into the ground. Those things have to be in the dirt by the end of the month. It isn't like MS where you can leave them in the fridge all winter.
Cross Stitch Update: I constructed the Christmas ornament for my friends who are getting married this weekend. It was my first go at the hot glue gun, so the finished product is a little "Stringy" right now, but hopefully I can peel off the excess. It's not great... it definitely looks "hand made" if you know what I mean! I also put together the "Bloom where you're planted" for my dearest friend Rachel. Again, not spectacular, but not terrible either. Finally, I stitched together my pincushion that I used the Leviathan stitch for. Believe it or not, it looks the best of the three I did today. Go figure.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weird Weather

It's been blazing hot this past week, but today it finally cooled off. We are supposed to get rain this afternoon and tonight. I am thinking that I will prepare my flower bed shortly thereafter so that the plants can go in after the painters come on Friday. I think I can talk Mike into putting the plants in on Saturday, even though W. and I will be out of town. It would be so nice to return home on Monday and see my plants settling in with our freshly-painted home! I have been diligently watering them as they have sat and sat in the backyard, so hopefully they will continue to cooperate when they actually enter their new (permanent) home.
Nerd Alert--I have registered for the first U.S. Sudoku Championship that will take place in Philadelphia on October 20. I have been practicing every day and am feeling confident. It cost $50 to register, but it is possible to win monetary prizes. Since I registered prior to October 5, I will receive a free T-shirt at registration. I love a good free T-shirt.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grapes Galore

I just stitched a bookmark with grapes on it for my friend Posey. Posey is in her 80's and loves anything with a grape motif. She is very much like a grandmother to me, as both of my blood-related grandmothers passed away before I turned 7. I found the pattern on a website for free. I stitched the bookmark on 14-count cloth, since I didn't have 18. Also I just used plain DMC thread since I didn't have the fancier multi-shaded thread it called for.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A New Stitch

I learned a new stitch yesterday. It's called a Smyrna, or Leviathan, stitch. I think some people even refer to it as a double cross stitch. It's very pretty--it looks like a flower or a star. I am making a pin cushion out of a scrap piece of cross stitch fabric I had and am stitching it with this new stitch to practice the technique.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Switch Stitching

I finished stitching the ornament for my niece and started one for a friend's daughter for Christmas. I got sidetracked, though, when I found a nice cache of free cross stitch patterns on the internet. I found a cute one by Lizzie Kate that I have done for a friend, although I have modified it a little. Her favorite saying is "Bloom where you're planted." The pattern I found has three little flowers across the middle with "Bloom" below it. I have found an alphabet pattern similar to the letters on the chart and am adding "where you're planted" to the bottom of the piece. It looks pretty decent.
My problem is that I need to use a sewing machine to finish off all these pieces I have finished stitching. I have a machine, courtesy of my mother-in-law, but have no idea how to use it. My husband (!) said that he might be able to figure it out (??) based on what he remembers seeing his mom doing with it when he was a kid. We'll see.