Monday, December 28, 2009

Mystery Quilt

I love mystery quilts. What you do is you sign up for the class, get a list of fabric to buy, and then follow the directions step by step (in class) to have the quilt revealed to you.  Choosing fabric for a mystery quilt is a bit tough, since you have no idea what the quilt will look like, but I think it is fun.  I have done quite a few mystery quilts, and I don't think that I have ever made one that I don't like. There had been one that was a HUGE pain in the butt because it had a million pieces, but when it was done (well, the top... it still needs to be quilted) it was pretty amazing. So the picture above is of the fabric for my New Year's Mystery.  It will be the first quilt class I've taken in a while. I'm pretty excited. The flower-y fabric is the border, the creme the background, and the others are ?? who knows... but I think it will be pretty amazing. It isn't what I would normally pick out, but I fell in love with the border fabric, and it was 60% off, AND it was the exact amount I needed... so it came home with me. Even W said that it was a pretty different color scheme for me, but he really likes it as well. So I will hopefully be adding another quilt to my home soon... who knows what it will look like, I will keep you posted!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Insert Title Here

Christmakah is officially over.... it was fun.  Now all that is left is to clean up! We will probably take down the tree tomorrow and possibly burn it on New Year's... it is pretty fun to watch it burn for about three seconds...

W did wind up getting me something.  He got me the special edition Mama Mia! Blu-Ray DVD. It is pretty awesome. And the best part... it comes with the soundtrack so I can sing along in my car! He is constantly surprising me at how amazing he is. I watched the movie while he was away deer hunting and kept raving about how fun it was! (for about a day... then it was done...) And he remembered... amazing.

We had Christmas with W's parents about a week ago and we got a lot of pampered chef stuff, which was great! We also got some ski passes for Aleyska and movie passes, so we will be enjoying those while we have some time off.

Yesterday we went and saw Sherlock Holmes, as the Bennett family tradition is to see a movie on Christmas. It was ok. I felt like they were trying so hard to set up for a sequel that they made this one about 25 mins too long. I would see it at Bear's Tooth, but I would not buy it. I was a bit bummed, because I had pretty high hopes for the movie... I love Robert Downy Jr. and it looked like it was going to be quite the blockbuster. Oh well!

I think that is about it. I am almost done with my Knotty but Nice hat... 9 rows to go! So maybe that will be done before I go to bed. Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ruining Christmas

Apparently I ruined Christmas by buying myself this:

It is the interchangeable needle set from Hiya Hiya and I am totally in love. I think they are amazing. I had mentioned to W that I had my eye on these and apparently he was planning on getting them for my for Christmas. I thought he would forget and I went and bought them for myself. Oops! So W said that I ruined Christmas and now I wasn't getting anything... :) Which is fine, I already got my needles!

On another ruining Christmas note, I finished two little quilts this week.  I have one more left to quilt and then I will be done with my gift sewing! So I am posting pictures here (but K, don't show your kiddos! They are wrapped and under my tree for when you feel better!) so everyone can enjoy them, and so I can brag. :)

These are of C's quilt. He loves fire trucks... I designed it as I went and I am really happy with it. My favorite fabric is the puppy one. Too cute! The back is the fabric with all of the equipment.

These are of N's quilt. He loves dogs and this fabric was just too cute to cut up! The back is a blue flannel and the binding has little paw prints. I'm also totally in love with this one! I can't wait until the kiddos get to snuggle with them.

The mascot of Christmaka!

We have to take Snickers to the vet today for his rabies shot... I'm not looking forward to it. The last time we took him to the vet he wouldn't let the vet touch him... so hopefully he does better this time. We are taking Frito and a bunch of his favorite treats. So keep your fingers crossed that he doesn't have to be held down like a WWF wrestler and things go smoothly....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dog Sitter Extraordinaire

I don't know if I have mentioned that I don't like dog sitting. I love dogs and I love watching dogs play, but dog sitting is not my thing. I think part of it comes down to the fact that I think my dogs are so awesome, that all other dogs are pretty lame in comparison. And, the dogs and I have a routine, which is hard to maintain with another dog around.

But, alas, I have been tasked with the role of dog sitter once again.  This time with my parents' dog, Maverick.  He is a shitzu/pomeranian mix and kind of a pain.  His annoying habits include: wanting to get to the highest point in a room (yesterday I found him on my sewing table! ACK!), eating wet dog food (super gross, smells nasty, and I have to put my dogs outside while I feed him), smelling bad (because of the dog food), and being an all-around baby.  Yesterday I tried to walk all three dogs (which wasn't as much of a sh** show as I imagined it would be) and he was walking on three paws by the end of the street because it was cold.  At one point he laid down and lifted all of his paws off of the snow.  I told him to grow up and kept walking. It may be tough love, but I have always been the favorite person in the house for the dogs that I have watched... even Brewski, who I was pretty mean to at bedtime LOVED me. So maybe dogs just need discipline...

So I'm hoping to be out of the dog sitting business.  I will still do it for family, but I just hope everyone plans on staying in town for a while!! I need a break!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Christma-kah!

Christma-kah is in full force around here.  W and I have combined all the things about Christmas and Hanukkah that we like (presents, lots of days to open presents, candles, trees, etc.) into one unique holiday known as Christma-kah. This year Christma-kah got an awesome new mascot... an african santa standing in a Hanukkah candy dish.  Amazing.  We opened presents with my family last Sunday, and everything was LOVED. I knit my dad this hat from the book Hats On! by Charelene Schurch:

It fit him perfectly and looked awesome on him.  Of course, when they came to drop off the dog on Thursday, Sam was wearing it which annoyed me.... I knit Sam this hat (from the same book) :

I figured it was simple enough that a 14-year-old boy could wear it without feeling like it was "uncool" and it was in his school and hockey colors, so I figured it would get some wear.  He seemed to like it, except for the rolled brim. Oh well, I can't please everyone! And I knit my mom these slippers, out of the book Felt It! (I think...):

I needle felted snowflakes on them, and then did a small amount of beading on the sides. They turned out pretty cool and I know my mom has been wearing them pretty much non-stop since I gave them to her.

They got us some pretty rockin' presents as well. I wound up with a pair of Bog Boots which I have been wearing all the time (which annoys W, and makes me happy!). They are AMAZING. Super warm (rated to -30*F!), and waterproof. I LOVE them. Sam got me a set of unbreakable wine glasses... probably the most thoughtful gift ever! I have been using them all the time and love that the dogs tail won't break them! W scored a camp saw (which apparently saved someone's life while lost in the wilderness in AK, so I am thankful he has that now!) and a set of Guinness pub glasses. It was pretty fun.

Tonight we are opening presents with W's family, so I need to go finish some things up. Only my SIL is getting something that I made... everyone else is too picky.... or wants a quilt, and I just don't have the time to make everyone quilts (or the $$ for that matter!).  I think people don't really understand how much goes into making a quilt, so in case you are thinking of asking for one from someone you know, let me give you a small ball park... for a lap/couch size quilt that has been quilted, the investment is probably somewhere between $375-$500 depending on fabric choices. Plus the time. So know you are asking for something quite expensive... and USE it!! I dread giving people quilts because I'm afraid they will wind up in a closet somewhere because they are afraid to use them... don't!! Use them... wear them out... they are made to be loved. Alright, I really should get on my chores as I have to go to work today too!! I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

We put our Christmas tree up a while ago, but I am just now getting around to showing everyone.  We buy our tree at Bell's Nursery, which is literally two blocks from my house. The nursery is awesome, the people are very helpful and knowledgeable and we always get a great quality product. So, to us it is very worth the money for our awesome tree.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is sitting in the living room with the lights off and the tree lights on. It is just so pretty. And since the Christmas lights on the house didn't pan out (I don't really want to talk about that....) this is my only slice of Christmas. So here is a picture of our tree, and a picture of my favorite ornament. And, apparently I didn't take a picture of the top, but it has a star on it.  It is pretty....

Every year we get an ornament, and this is the one that I got while in grad school studying to be a teacher. (We all know how that panned out... :P) Anyway, that is Sally the Peanuts character in school and when you push the button you hear the Peanuts teacher going "whah wah whah waa waaaaa". Love it.

In other news, one of my friends is expecting a baby girl!! This is the first girl that any of my friends have had, so I am pretty excited. I am now going to be spending the day browsing ravelry for the perfect knitted gift...

Oh, and because I just found it on my phone, here is a pic of the puppy that I watched over Thanksgiving... he is cute...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Skijoring with the pups

Today we went out skijoring with the dogs again. The second time this week (we also went Monday before I went to work) and with the new snow it was actually a bit slower. I really enjoy going out with the dogs. It is a lot of fun for the whole family.

What is not fun is when you run into rude people on the trail.

In Anchorage, we have a very extensive trail system. Most (actually, I would venture to say 95% or more, which to me is almost ALL) of these trails are designated ski trails, which means you can not have your dog on them.  The park we go to has at least 10 trails and ONE of them is a multi-use trail. ONE. And it isn't even a loop, so it is sort of a pain. So that means that if you are a skier you have access to many different trails if you are at the park. Me, I have one option. It doesn't change, it's always the same, and it is where I stay.

Why do I stick so closely to this trail?? Because people are super crazy when you are not on the multi-use trail.  I'm talking YELL-at-you-in-your-face-about-how-you-are-ruining-the-trail-system-and-you-should-not-even-be-allowed-to-be-out-here type of crazy. So now that I know WHERE the multi-use trails are, I stick to them like glue.  I am not one for confrontation, especially when you are starting at a yelling level.

So, today we were out skiing and having a good time and I see a woman heading towards us on the trail.  W and I move off to the right and keep the dogs close. We both say hi to her (and because we were quite a ways apart, she had ample opportunity to return the greeting) but she says nothing. And she looked at us like we were ruining her ski adventure. For some reason this REALLY annoyed me. If she doesn't want to see dogs (and I don't know why you wouldn't want to see my dogs, because they look pretty hot in their skijoring outfits. In fact, some people had actually stopped and took pictures of us earlier before this happened.) GO TO ANOTHER TRAIL. You have SOO many options... why choose this trail?? That trail is actually pretty crappy compared to the others... It just really made me mad because there I was, obeying the rules and someone was still rude.  Granted, I didn't get yelled at, but still... it is polite to say hi or at least SMILE. Not look at me like my dogs are ruining your life... they weren't in your way. Get over it.

Anyway. Someone (actually Jess, from Ohio... I read her blog too... she seems pretty awesome) left a comment on my last post about the movie King Corn.  I have actually seen that movie too, and it is also a very interesting movie about the food industry in America. I think part of the problem is that we don't really take the time to think about where our food comes from or why it contains what it does.  King Corn talks about how most of the corn that is grown in America is actually inedible, it is mostly to make high fructose corn syrup. So if you would like to know more about the food industry in America, check out King Corn as well.

Alright, I have to go finish knitting this stupid sample hat. I'm just annoyed that it isn't done because I REALLY want to start my knot hat on my super cool new interchangeable needles... but I am being good and finishing this hat.... ugh....

Food Inc.

We watched the documentary Food Inc. the other day and whew... what a well-done movie. If you are interested in eating healthy (or want even more encouragement to do so), check it out. It is all about how the food industry is run by demand... more ground beef is purchased by McDonalds than any other consumer. Since McDonalds wants its burgers to taste the same no matter where you buy it, it leads the producers to feed all of their cows the same. Since we can't grow the same grass everywhere, they become corn-fed beef.... which despite all of the propaganda is terrible for you.  If cows were still allowed to graze and eat the way they were supposed to, there would be a significant drop in the amount of e-coli and mad cow problems. And that is just one of the many things that are covered in the movie.

Another thing that I never thought about is how you should only try to eat foods that are in season... so if you couldn't grow a tomato outside, you probably shouldn't be eating one. Foods that are not in season are picked green and then when they want them to be ripe they do something with formaldehyde... gross.

So in addition to my Full Circle Farms veggie box, we have decided to cut back on the amount of meat we eat. It's going to be harder for W than me, as he is kind of a meat freak... so it should be fun. :) The meat we do eat is going to come from Natural Pantry where I can buy free-range grass-eating beef. It's not only better for the animals, it is better for me. I will also be buying as much organic food as I can... probably mostly at Natural Pantry. Every little bit counts, and I am trying to do my part.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yet Another Reason...

To shop local...

About a month ago I bought a new pair of tennis shoes. I had a pair, but they were a bit too small and my danskos are not appropriate for winter (or basically anytime for me... they are dangerous for me to wear...) so I needed some shoes to wear outside!! I went to Fred Meyer and bought a pair. I wore them for a bit, and then realized that my hip was hurting. I mean HURTING. It was bad. I realized the only thing that had changed was my shoes. I hadn't been walking more or less, but the footwear had been changed. So I tried to take them back. Apparently, the policy is if the shoes have been worn outside they can not be returned. These shoes are perfectly fine... I just can't wear them. I bought my next pair of shoes at REI (which I realize isn't local, but it is still a store with great customer service, and I'm a member of the co-op, so I kind of own it... :) ) where I can return them for ANY reason in ANY condition at ANY time. (I think I have three or four YEARS to decide if I like these shoes.) Luckily, my hip has not been bothering me, and my new shoes are even cuter than the old ones.

Today I went to AK Mill and Feed and bought presents for the holiday parties at both my work and W's.  They already had all of their Christmas stuff marked down 40% and their pet holiday stuff marked down 50%! So I got a lot of stuff for not too much money. At a local store!! I was very pleased. And they had awesome customer service... I had asked one of the employees if they had any more penguin items and she found three things for me that I had overlooked! She was awesome.

I also treated myself to a holiday gift... since I have been trying not to buy yarn and fiber I decided to invest in a pair of Hiya-Hiya interchangeable needles. For $70 I now have a bunch of different circular needles! I'm super excited about them. I will be knitting my cabled hat from Knitty on them soon... I just have to finish the sample hat for my class so I can take it to work. I am very excited about the new issue of Knitty... I think I queued like four things, which is a high number for me.  And the shawl is amazing. We just got a new shipment of quiviet at the shop and there is a pair of skeins that are bright green and AMAZING. They were calling to me and I think they may be destined to become that shawl... we will see.

Alright, I have to get my gifts wrapped and then head off to a holiday party!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Indie Dyers and Skijoring

First off, I am constantly amazed by people and their creativity. Being a member of the PhatFiber community is amazing, and I love seeing what people do.  I boxed up my samples today, but forgot to take pictures of them... but they are amazing.  Weston said it was his favorite thing I have ever dyed. But, I did part with the fiber (a merino/bamboo blend) and it will be in the sampler boxes. ANYWAY, back to my point, people are amazing! Another PhatFiber contributor, H.A.Y. came up with mini batts of each planet. Amazing! I was so tempted by them, that I snagged a set from her Etsy shop as soon as I could.  They are even more stunning in person, and I am kicking myself for not getting two sets. So not only was I blown away by creativity, but also by customer service. I received my order today (after ordering on Monday!) and it came with a cute Christmas card and a candy cane. Very nice personal touch. All of this has cinched that I will be buying from this shop again! Any ideas for what these batts should become??

Also, today we went skijoring with the dogs, and it was a BLAST! For those who don't know, skijoring is basically cross-country skiing with your dog tied to you. I was very nervous to go with Snickers, because he is CRAZY, and I was convinced that I was going to break a bone. Surprisingly, both dogs did amazing. Frito was more motivated to keep running with Snickers there, and because Frito wanted to prove his "alpha dog" status, he didn't want Snickers to get ahead of him.  It was quite fun. We are planning on going about three times a week to keep the whole family in shape.  We live really close to the park where we go, so we can get there and back pretty quickly, which is nice.  And the trails are all really well lit, so we can even go after dinner if we need to.

Also, a picture of my owl bag, as promised. I love it.

And, because I am an enabler, this Etsy shop (a new PhatFiber contributor) has an unbelievable deal on a fiber club right now... 3 months for $36+shipping! ACK! 4 oz of fiber a month!! I have had a hard time resisting this all day....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Small Town AK

Lately, I have been quite obsessed with moving to a small town. Not that Anchorage isn't nice, but I feel like I am missing out on some things. I feel like the hustle and bustle of the "big city" is getting to me. Plus, I feel like if I lived in a small town more people would share some of my core values... mainly about how they shop.

I'm not a fan of chain stores (with the exception on Costco... I love Costco. And I shop at Target more than I should, but I digress). I feel like they undermine local stores and they encourage people to fill their lives with things they may not need. Obviously, it is hard to shop exclusively at small, local shops. I would love to buy all of my clothes at boutiques, but my budget doesn't allow me to. And we don't really have a local grocery store. But with those two exceptions, I have been trying my best to shop local. There is a book that I have been interested in buying that Barnes and Noble has in stock... but I have decided to wait until I can get my hands on it at work, or at Title Wave so that I can support a local business. I try very hard to make my money speak for me.

I feel like if I move to a small town, more people will share this value (even if it is out of necessity). Plus, I think it would be nice to live somewhere that my kids could walk from one end to the other and I wouldn't have to worry about them. There are obviously down sides to living in small towns, but to me it sounds amazing. I think something that makes it more appealing is the fact that everyone thinks I am crazy for wanting to do it.

But alas, since we refinanced our house this year, it will be a while before we get to live our small town dream... in the mean time I am going to live in my little house, shop locally, and tell anyone who will listen to do the same....

Oh, and a quick note. If you didn't know, you can hook up your Carr's card with your AK air account and earn miles for shopping! Amazing. I just did that today... I'm probably the last person to find out about it, but in case you are like me, you can go here and sign up. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Craft Fair

I went to the UAA craft fair today, which was quite exciting! I bought myself a very cute bag with owls on it (pics later... too lazy at the moment) and bought a pretty exciting birthday present for a party I am going to tomorrow! I was going to make the little guy something, but since I subbed all week my free time was pretty much non-existent and I found this and it was PERFECT! Let's hope he loves it as much as I do!

Another thing that was a bit interesting at the craft fair was running into my bosses. They are fun ladies. They joked about how I should buy them a stained glass piece for Christmas and teased me for buying a bag I could have easily made myself. I explained to them that I COULD make the bag, but I never would. So it was worth it to me to buy something hand made and enjoy every bit of it! Plus, since I didn't make it, I won't be overly critical of it, as I often am of my own work.

There was also a booth of hand knit and crocheted items run by people that I recognized from the shop... we tend to have to follow them around so they don't put things in their bags... if you catch my drift.  Now I realize why they are so motivated... if you can cut your investment down to zero, your profits sure do skyrocket! People are always surprised when I talk about shoplifting at the quilt shop.  Everyone is always stunned that it happens. And, until I worked there, I probably wouldn't have believed it either... but it is AMAZING how much stuff walks away. Sometimes we will find empty bolts in the stacks, which means someone just took all of the fabric off of it and walked out. We have even had whole quilts stolen.

But, we just got a phone call that the in-laws are on the way over, so I need to frantically pick up!! AHH!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm Dan Sullivan...

Our city is having a hard time financially. So what did they decide to do?? Hire a special lawyer and investigate if our former mayor knew this was going to happen.  This lead to a 60+ page report being put together and the assembly spending time reviewing this report.


We are POOR, we shouldn't spend money on things that DON'T MATTER. It doesn't matter if Mark Begich knew we were going to be in a budget crisis... are we going to drag him out of DC and convict him of something? No, because he didn't commit a crime. So all this money, time, and energy is a waste....

And we wonder why we are in a budget crisis....

Seriously... sometimes I just want to move to the middle of nowhere and live in the woods....