Friday, January 30, 2015

Interior Decorating, High-Wire Style

This belongs to Patience now.
Congratulations, Patience Crabstick! You've won a copy of Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot.  It will be winging its way to you via Amazon as soon as you message me your address (via The More, The Messier Facebook page).  Thanks!

That was sort of fun.  I've got to think what to give away next.

Still recovering from my death-defying skiing experience here.  Also? Admiring our new thermostat. This is what my life has come to, people - I'm excited to see our bright-white, modern thermostat sitting on the wall, blinking its easy-to-read numbers at me.

You see, our previous decades-old thermostat was this ugly, very-off-white color and the numbers were well nigh (there it is again!) impossible to see, unless I stood directly in front of it and angled my head just right. I can only surmise that people in the 1980's had both bad taste and wonderful eyesight.  My new Honeywell, however, is a delight to behold; and we even moved its location so that we don't have to hunt for it behind the Christmas tree all December.

It's the little things, you know?

Out with the old...
...and in with the new!
The living room/dining room (remember? Larry's latest demolition project?) is half-painted (one coat) and the electrician arrives tomorrow to install recessed lights in the ceiling.  Because of our family's unfortunate tendency to damage lamps, we have never really had adequate lighting in our main living area.  Tired of sitting in the dark, Larry and I have decided to live dangerously and pay for lighting that we are not even sure we will both agree is what we want.  Lighting that will then be stuck in our ceiling forever, no matter how we feel about it.

In fact, it sounds a lot like choosing a paint color, only more permanent and expensive. Pray for us.




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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Up In The Air

I am not and have never been anything even approximating an athlete. I happen to be blessed, however, with athletic friends who are determined to keep me healthy, even if it kills me.  As already mentioned here, my Fit Friend made me get back on my bicycle and ride a ridiculous number of miles over the past 2 years.  There's also Winter Sports Friend - I met her during the girls' homeschool skating sessions. Turns out she is really into skiing.  Her children learn to ski when they are just 4 years old.

My kids? Don't learn much of anything at that age, actually.

So! Because her two youngest girls and my two youngest have hit it off during ice skating, Winter Sports Friend decided it would be a great idea for us to take all 4 of them skiing at a nearby resort, on one of the half-price days.  In a fit of insanity, I not only agreed to this plan but also announced that I, too, would take a beginner ski lesson.

Because skiing is a good sport for people who are scared of heights, right?

Today was the big day - we all piled in Winter Sports Friend's car and headed for the mountains.  Her skiing-adept kids jabbered excitedly, while I wondered for over an hour if there were a graceful way to avoid humiliating myself in front of my children.  I couldn't think of one, however, and soon found myself being outfitted (with Winter Sports Friend's guidance) for skis, helmets, boots, poles.

At no point during the day did I look like either of these people.

By the way, walking in ski boots?  Is really, really hard.  I was exhausted by the time I staggered over to where the lesson would be held.  I got through the first part of the lesson without embarrassing Rachel and Susie by falling over, and then the instructor said, "Okay, now, let's go over here to the chair lift!"

By the way, have I ever mentioned that I cannot get Susie on an escalator?  Do you know how many stinky-smelling service elevators and creepy out-of-the-way stairwells I have had to endure due to Susie's aversion to moving stairs that go up in the air?

So! Chair lift.  At these words, Susie stopped dead in her tracks.  "He's just going to show us how it works," I reassured her (and myself). "There's a Magic Carpet conveyor belt thing-y over there that we are going to use.  I looked it up.  Don't worry."  She shrugged and we stepped/glided to where our teacher was already giving directions on how to use a ski lift.

"Okay, you stand between those gates, and right after a chair passes you, you move forward, so the next chair comes up behind you."

Fat chance of that working out, I thought, picturing my uncoordinated self face down in the snow after being hit in the back by a motorized bench.

"To get off, you flip up the bar and wait until you reach the flat part - then you simply step off the chair and glide.  Get out of the way quickly!" he said to the bunch of us, newbie skiers who still couldn't glide properly, let alone with any amount of speed.

"Okay," the instructor pointed to me and Susie and another young victim. "You three get in the gates and take the next chair.  We three will follow in the next one."

Um...

"Come on!" he said, motioning toward our doom. "Let's go!"  To my surprise, I saw Susie start to move forward, leaving me no choice but to follow.  I glanced up at the extremely open-air chairs dangling high above the ground. Insane.

"Okay, get ready!  Move forward! Forward!" our crazed dictator of a teacher commanded, as I prepared to be heinously injured by a contraption that was looking more and more rickety by the second.  "Sit! Sit!" he yelled. "Pull the bar down!"

And the three of us were up. Just like that.

"Well!" I said to Susie, as brightly as I could muster, considering that we were obviously creaking toward our deaths, miles above the ground. "Aren't you a brave girl! Wait until Daddy hears!"

Chalk one up to facing your fears and conquering them, right?

"I am NEVER doing this again," Susie said quietly, staring straight ahead. "NEVER."

Can't say I blame her...






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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mini-Living

[Reminder: Today (Wednesday) is the last day to comment on this post to win a free copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules!]

Okay, I've figured out what I will live in if I ever run away from home.  How cute is this thing, anyway?  The idea is that you plop it down into the middle of whatever tiny space you rent/buy and maybe add a kitchen table and a comfy chair or two, and you're all set.  LOVE.

A pull-out bed! It looks like a set-up for a gag on I Love Lucy.

I suspect that Larry will not share my enthusiasm for this invention.  I'm a pare-down-your-possessions type gal (well, except for the yarn, but only because yarn isn't so much a possession as it is an environment - like breathable air, you know?  You don't minimize your air, for heaven's sake).  Larry, however, is more of a I-know-I-can-use-this-sometime packrat.  I have already warned the kids that, if I die first, they need to visit their father at least once a week and throw out all the junk mail.

So, yeah, Larry will not admire the cunning closet storage space and the bathroom probably designed for midgets.  Nor will he think the tiny kitchen is cute.  Let's face it - the guy is over 6 feet tall and naturally has no appreciation for small environments.

Hidden fridge! Tiny dishwasher! Cute oven! Squeeee!

You know, I'm thinking it might be profitable to start a year-round retreat camp for moms and bloggers - just a bunch of tiny cabins equipped with this Cubitat where women can get away from everything for a week at a time. I can imagine a lot of women out there who would gladly take advantage of some time ALL TO THEMSELVES to knit, read, write, quilt - all without being interrupted approximately 35 times an hour, as one reader put it on The More, The Messier Facebook page.

I imagine we'd be full up in December.

And, yes, there is now a page on Facebook for The More, The Messier.  Hey, I'm nothing if not media-savvy, people (pay no attention to my teen son standing behind me, showing me how to get the URL for that last link).  If you go to the main page and click Like, then you are alerted in your Facebook feed whenever I post.

I know! That was all that was missing from your lives.

People tend to comment more on Facebook now than on the actual blog, so sometimes we have some fun conversations happening there, too.  And, uh...candy! Yes, candy and rainbows and maybe some puppies...

But mostly kids and vomit and mice, of course.  It's important to stick to one's roots.

[Cubitat images: Slate]

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Reminder: Book Giveaway

I am a tad under the weather right now and not up to posting, but I just wanted to remind people that yesterday's post has a book giveaway in it. Please comment there if you are interested!

My schedule for the week is busy: along with sulking over not experiencing a blizzard of historic proportions and looking enviously at all the photos from New York and Boston, I will also be throwing caution to the winds by taking a learn-to-ski lesson with the girls at a nearby resort. A friend talked me into it, maybe because she needs some comic relief.  I have only been on skis once in my life, when I visited Maine with a college friend and she convinced me to try cross-country skiing.  My only memory from that excursion is of me face down in the snow with no idea how to get up, whilst my skiing comrades stood in a circle around me and laughed themselves silly.

So, yeah, I am not too optimistic about this outing. THERE WILL BE NO PICTURES.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Tribute And A Giveaway

The Yarn Harlot just wrote a post announcing that it is her 11th blogiversary, and I swear I got all choked up by it.  You see - by coincidence - last night, when I could find nothing new to read, I picked up my old (autographed!) copy of Knitting Rules. And I recognized - as I started to go through this lighthearted book about knitting and the, uh, knitting lifestyle, as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee so succinctly puts it - how that book has changed my life since I first read it a little over 7 years ago.

You know, I can't think of many other books that have done that.  Oh, sure, many have enhanced my life, made it better or more enjoyable.  But this unassuming little book - all about yarn stashes and other knitterly foibles -has effected actual changes in how I live.

A knitting book.  I know.  Not exactly highbrow, but still...it made me realize I could be creative even if I did leave projects unfinished or else produced knitted objects of questionable quality. It gave me the courage to knit my first pair of socks, following Stephanie's famous Sock Recipe, despite the fact that I didn’t even know what the heck DPN’s were (double-pointed needles, for you knitting ignoramuses), let alone how to use them. A little over 7 years later, here I sit, with a drawer full of homemade socks.  Me!

You need these to make socks. Honest.

I knit all the time now, but particularly while I help my kids with their schoolwork - you see, the knitting keeps me from totally losing it while teaching Algebra for the FOURTH TIME.  I learned that lesson from Knitting Rules, also: knitting isn't for patient people, knitting is for keeping impatient people from killing anyone.

The original kid whose schoolwork I knitted through? He is all grown up now, Theo is, and an Army officer to boot. His sister Anna is all grown up now, too, living on her own, working and going to college.  My yarn hasn't left me, though.  My yarn loves me.

And I still have 2 young-ish girls at home who, thanks to what I have learned from Stephanie, have grown up with permission to over-buy yarn (well, using coupons at Michaels), roll around in it if they like, and knit a multitude of projects without finishing most of them. Probably the one person who does not understand the Yarn Harlot's impact on our family is Larry, but that is only because he still hasn’t figured out that that second dresser of mine - the one I commandeered when Anna moved out - is filled with yarn, not clothes.
To top it all off, when I met Stephanie in person, way back in April 2008, she said, "You're SuburbanCorrespondent? You are so funny!"  No matter if she meant it or was just being kind, I lived off that compliment for a year. As most writers know, what we really want (aside from maybe being paid occasionally) is to connect. Connecting is what Stephanie has done over the past 11 years with her blog and her books, creating an awesome community of knitters (and maybe some crocheters, stranger things have happened), and many of us are the richer for it.

So thank you, Stephanie, for your time and your wit and your wisdom - you've made a difference in people's lives. Really. Let's just hope Larry doesn't open that dresser, okay?

So! Is anyone interested in a free book?  In honor of the Yarn Harlot's 11th Blogiversary, I will send a copy of Knitting Rules (Lifechanging! Really!) to one lucky winner.  Just let me know in the comments below if you are interested (make sure I have your email address!) and I will pick a name on, oh, Tuesday, I guess.  Or Wednesday.  Or whenever I remember...


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