Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

They grow up so fast… January 21, 2012

I was in South Carolina for a week for training for work.  While I was gone, Red got her first ride in a car and trip to the vet.  My mom and dad took her in a pet carrier which I really wish that I had pictures of.  But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.  She got a shot and some more meds and took it all totally in stride.  In fact, she didn’t even let out a baa when he gave her a shot in her rump!

So, I was in SC for a week.  Not a whole lot to say about it except that somehow I ended-up mere feet away from Rick Santorum who was at a Fudrucker’s down the hill from my hotel.

Also, since I had a little bit of downtime in a Hilton hotel room to myself with no dogs or cats wanting cuddling nor baby goats to be fed I had a little bit of a girly party and painted my nails with some fun nail polish that I snagged at Target while watching the SyFy channel on cable.  I also took a bath each and every night!

There are 2 polishes going on here.  The darker one is called “Give Me Moor!” and it’s from OPI. The silver crackly coat is part of the Nicole Texture line by OPI in Silver.  It was fun to paint on as it crackled nearly immediately.  It’s lasted quite well considering how hard I usually am on my nails.  Only today have a couple of chips formed on the tips of the nails.  I’m going to have to take it off this weekend as I am going to have some important meetings over the next couple of days and need a more (cough) neutral, professional look for them.

I arrived back in Iowa right before the first real humdinger of a snow storm that we’ve had this season.  I was pleased that my car started right away in the airport parking lot despite an outside temperature of about 0 degrees Fahrenheit (about -18 Celsius).  I got back to the farm around midnight and there was about 4 inches of snow on the ground by the time I got up in the morning to feed Red.

I started-out suffering through snow in my shoes and wet socks but then remembered that I had hiking boots that are a little taller than my regular shoes.  However, if we get much more snow I’m going to have to get actual snow boots.

Red missed me I think.

I think you need to see this shot a little closer-up.

God I love that little goat!


However, she has grown even in just the week that I was gone.  Her lead over the other 4 babies is remarkable.  She is getting big fast!  Red has gotten so big that it’s getting hard to pick her up anymore.  Definitely no putting her in my coat!


Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season Approaching like an Out-Of-Control Mack Truck November 5, 2011

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So, Christmas time is here again and if you’re struggling to find presents for some of the people in your life, let me make a few suggestions of things that I have found to be wonderful.  These are all things that I have either used myself or friends of mine have used and really liked.  Just to be clear, I am not getting any money or products from any of the companies that I am posting here.*  This is just stuff that I like.  However, if any of them wanted to send me products for say, review, I would be more than glad to have them:-)

For Everyone

Land’s End totes.  I’m pretty sure that I have written about my addiction to Land’s End Totes before but I can’t make a list like this without putting them at the top of it.  These are great for both men or women or even kids!  I’ve had the small one personalized with the name of the recipient before and then filled it with smaller gifts and candy.  This personalized present went over really well.  The extra-large bags would even be big enough to take the place of a toy box in a child’s bedroom.  I cannot recommend these totes strongly enough for pretty much everyone.  That and the service that I have consistently gotten from the employee’s at this company really make me want to keep going back to them for everything.

Eddie Bauer Favorite Tee’s.  Eddie Bauer is another company that makes things that last.  As I write this, I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt that I got from Eddie Bauer in high school (which was a while ago y’all) and no-one looking at it would ever guess that.  It hasn’t dated style-wise and there’s not a part of it that looks faded or worn in anything close to the (oh God) 15+ years old that it must be.  I’ve given Eddie Bauer bedding as a gift and it is still in use and still looks good 10+ years later.  The Eddie Bauer Long Sleeved Tee’s are one of the staples of my wardrobe, something that I wear on a daily basis.  Usually with an Eddie Bauer Men’s Fleece Vest over the top of it for greater warmth (and more pockets!).

Now, I know that I have mentioned these folks before, but they deserve another mention.  Queen Bee Creations.  I am still getting compliments on my Christmas present truckette purse from at least 3 years ago.  I use it pretty much daily and it still looks nearly new.   And I’m not one of those women who babies her purse.  Un-uh.  It has been thrown and shoved and stepped-on and wadded-up and shoved in other luggage.  Still, I get stopped by strangers on the street (for real) asking where I got my purse.  This isn’t some “it” purse of the season (Are “they” even still doing that? Clearly I am not a fashionista [like you couldn’t already tell that from the above choices!]) but if you chose one of their bags it will be well made and stand-up to nearly anything you throw at it.  I’ve taken this bag on lots of trips and on forays into some kinda dodgy places and I wasn’t too worried about my bag getting nabbed as it has securely sew-on seatbelt webbing straps that are long enough to go across your body.  There’s no way a would be thief would be able to grab your purse and have the straps break off.  It would take some pretty serious cutting at which point I would hope that you would hit him with it! I also have the Poppy Trucker which I am currently using for job interviews (it matches the interview outfit:-)) and it’s held-up as well as the purse has (though it hasn’t gotten nearly as much use…)

Kershaw Scallion Plain Edge Folding Knife.  I know, it is probably a little weird to be going from a purse to a pocket knife, but hey, that’s who I am!  I’ve had this knife for at least 8 years now.  I carried-it on a daily basis when I was working in the greenhouse and it got used a lot.  I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from guys when I pull it out to cut something and not those, “oh isn’t it cute she carries a pocket knife,” kind of compliments rather ones more like, “nice knife, where did you get that?” or even better, “wow, I have one just like that!”.  I see that they sell a version in pink now so if you have a slightly more girly girl who you think needs a good solid knife, she has one that the guys will give back for sure!  Personally, I would love the red version as I have nearly lost this green one in foliage a number of times (and I just love red!).

While I am on the “sharps” part of the list I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention Slip N Snip Folding Scissors.  This company has been making these in the USA for years now (I remember my Grandpa carrying these in his store when I was a little girl) and they are still making an excellent product.  I’ve taken these through many security lines at airports just sort of attached to my key chain.  Since they don’t look like anything exciting when they are folded-up going through an x-ray, I never had any problems with them even when they were confiscating the little tiny Swiss Army knives.  They are sturdy and fold-up smoothly every time, even after years of use.  These would make a fantastic stocking stuffer for everyone except small children (there are pointy, sharp bits) and can be found on Amazon.

Sheepskin slippers from either Land’s End or L.L. Bean.  Yeah, they are pricey, but they last for years and years (assuming the dog doesn’t take a liking to them!) and enable you to lower the temperature in the house.  If your feet are warm, the rest of you will be a lot warmer too!  And who doesn’t like the gift of lower heating bills!  One brand that I would not suggest is Ugg brand slippers.  If you have an adolescent that is begging for Uggs, don’t try to cheap out of it by buying them slippers instead of the boots.  They will not get it that they are slippers and will wear them outdoors, thus ruining them.  Trust me on this, I worked in shoe retail for a Holiday season and I saw more than one pair brought back in which this happened.  Uggs are much more expensive than the two that I already named and not particularly better quality.  They are not worth the extra money.

If you have someone on your list who just loves Christmas and really does the decorating and the whole shebang, then I would suggest Rubbermaid Roughneck Storage Boxes.  I can hear you rolling your eyes at me, but really, these bad boys really stand-up to everything you can throw at them year after year.  As someone who has made two international moves I can testify to how well they survive.  Don’t skimp and get the cheaper ones as they will crack and break eventually, trust me on this!  Now they are making a Roughneck Sheds and I have a feeling that I would like them as well.  Sigh…

Reisenthel Bags.  Another bag company that I’ve talked about before, but really, when you use two of their products on a daily basis, you really should be talking about them!  I have the All Rounder in (I think) Large.  I use it as my carry-on bag for flying.  It’s large enough to fit my laptop (and all the wires and crap that comes with it), my camera and a couple of extra lenses, a small pile of magazines and books for reading, and all the other assorted travel crap that you need.  It’s padded so that even if it gets slammed by a neighboring roll aboard in the overhead, your laptop will still work when you get there.  The strap is sturdy and the padded bit has some rubberized stuff on it so that it doesn’t slip off your shoulder.  Excellent, excellent bag.  This is another bag that has gotten a lot of use and does not show it at all.  I also use the Mini Maxi for shopping.  It’s big enough that it holds a lot but sturdy enough that you don’t feel like the seams are going to come out of it carrying your shopping home.  Since it rolls up into a nice little packet, this bag would make a great stocking stuffer!

Source Sports Sandals Classic.  I bought a pair of these at least 7 years ago and they are still going strong.  More importantly, they don’t smell strong!  One of the reviewer’s on the site mentioned that theirs had a, “Great vanilla smell even after 3 years!”.  Mine don’t smell like vanilla, but they don’t smell like ass either!  One of the unique features of these sandals is that they come with a green dot on the bottom of them.  The warranty on these sandals is 2 years plus up to an additional 2 years if the green dot is still visible so that folks who don’t do heavy-duty hiking in them will have a longer warranty than those that are harder on them.  I still have the green dot on the bottom of mine, and I wore them A LOT when I lived in Florida and they were pretty much all I wore in the summer in the UK too! I think that you would have to be doing some pretty serious hiking on a daily basis in order to wear out the green dot before 2 years was up.

Charities that I think use the money effectively are Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International, The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.  If you have someone who really does have everything, before you buy the next gimmicky adult toy at the department store, think about taking that money and giving it to a worthwhile charity.  A donation that is non-specific as to where it goes does the most to help these organizations get goods and services to the people most in need.  Besides, even if they don’t like it, they aren’t about to complain about it to anyone:-)

So I don’t have any of these but they are so cute I just have to share (and would like them myself!). This print and this print and this calendar all from the talented artist Katie Vernon on Etsy.    I think that these minimalist fairy tale prints by Christian Jackson are amazing and would be a really cool alternative to some of the hyper-saccharin children’s decor there is out there.  Or even for some adults!  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Aardvark Press manifestos.  Kill your TV indeed!

Charmin to Go.This is a total stocking stuffer, but I have to mention it especially since it appears that you can get a pack of 24 for $21.99 on Amazon!  One for everyone’s stockings right now!!!!

For Pet Owners

Marchioro Clipper Carriers.  Great pet carriers that stand up to abuse.  A handful of mine have been in daily use, and you couldn’t tell the difference from the ones that are only occasionally used.  They don’t come with the bolts that some airlines (I’m looking at you United!) require now, but they do have bolt holes under the snaps and you can pick-up the bolts cheaply enough if you are flying.  These crates don’t fall apart like some that I’ve dealt with and are excellent for daily use.

Flexi Retractable Leashes.  Another one that I use many times a day.  I really couldn’t believe the difference between this retractable lead and a cheaper one that I got in the US.  Yes, they are more expensive.  Yes they are worth it.  The mechanism in these leads is much faster and smoother than other leads that I’ve used.  It has been dropped, kicked, dragged and thrown (extra bad dog day there) and it still works as well as the day I got it.  I have the Classic Long Large for Malcolm but it looks like they have an option to customize the leads now for an extra special gift!

Birkenstock Garden Clogs.  These are fan-freaking-tastic when you have to run out with the dog for the umpteenth time in an evening.  The ones that I linked to aren’t exactly the same as the pair that I’ve had for 4 or 5 years now, but they are similar enough that I think that this is just the newest styling of the ones that I have.  These clogs combine the comfort that you expect from Birkenstocks with the durability and water resistance of a garden clog.  The shoes are fairly tall, so that even if you step in a bit of mud or water, it doesn’t get up in your socks.  I wore these sometimes to walk the dogs in, they are that comfy.  There are only a few downsides to these shoes really.  First off they will make your feet really sweaty if you wear them in hot weather.  Secondly, they aren’t great in snow.  You will get snowy socks if you wear them in the white stuff.  And lastly, my dogs seem to like to chew on them:-P

SmartyKat Super Scratcher.  Will help to save furniture while making happy cats.  Who doesn’t like that?

For all Fiber Freaks (Spinners, Knitters and Hookers)

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson.   In a world becoming increasingly specialized, folks in the fiber arts should know where their fiber is coming from.  The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is really essential reading for anyone wanting a better understanding of the materials that they are working with, or really anyone interested in fiber animals!  If the fiber artist in your life doesn’t yet have this book then you have at least one Christmas gift for them this year.  Really, it’s a no-brainer.  It’s a big, beautiful book that is destined to be a classic!  Go get it now.  Seriously people, get it.

All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin.  I will be honest here.  I’ve not yet read this book.  However, I have read everything else that she has published in the knitting genera and I feel reasonably confident that this book is just as excellent as all her previous books have been.  Plus, this is one that I want for Christmas!!

Hefty One-Zip Jumbo Bags.  These are 2.5 gallon zippered plastic bags.  That’s big enough to get most of a sweater in progress in.  Or a lot of roving or yarn.  Love, love love these bags.  Unfortunately, it seems that at least around here (meaning in all the places I’ve lived and visited in the US) the only place that I’ve been able to find them are at Target.  It’s not that I don’t love Target, it’s just that it would be nice if these were in every grocery store and big box store like the rest of the Hefty line.  And yes, I really have given these as gifts.

If you like the idea of a surprise of different yarns and goodies arriving for the knitter or spinner, then the Phat Fiber Mystery Box would be perfect!  Each month there is a different theme and oodles of indie dyers, fiber producers, and folks that make knitting and spinning accessories send in samples of their products that fit the theme for the month.  Not every box is filled with the same producers (that would be a lot of samples for one indie producer to come up with!) but they are all little representatives of what they can make.  There is a yarn only box, a fiber only box and a mixed box.  I got one of the mixed boxes for Christmas last year and it was so much fun!  The only problem with this present is that you do have to stalk it a bit in order to get one.  However, they do let you sign-up for a newsletter to let you know when the boxes are going on sale and what the themes are and things like that, so it’s not like stalking a particular color of Wollmeise!

For someone who wants to feel like they are a part of where their fiber or yarn comes from, there is Juniper Moon Farm’s CSA program.  They had the first fiber CSA in the country.  When you buy a share you get percentage off in their shop, invitation to the Shearing Day Celebration as well as either yarn or rovings of your choice.   This isn’t the “cheapest” way to get yarn or rovings, but it is one of the more interesting ways.  Personally, I like it better than having a star named after me or something like that!

For Spinners

J&S Shetland Combed Tops or an actual Shetland Fleece hand-picked by Oliver for your favorite spinner.  If you are living in the UK or Europe, you could order a raw Shetland Fleece to be picked-out by Oliver for your special someone.  If you live elsewhere, you will have to order their combed tops as they won’t mail a raw fleece out of Europe due to international restrictions.  However, the tops at J&S are lovely and a real treat to work with.  Order the Superfine white for an extra special treat!

Mini carders.  These are from P&M Woolcraft a lovely company based in Milton Keynes, England.  I’m sure that these must be available somewhere else too, but I’ve yet to find them.  If you do, please let me know in the comments!  Even if you do have to order them from England, the folks at P&M are wonderful to work with and will get your order shipped-out as quickly as humanly possible!

A subscription to Spin-Off magazine.  Duh.

For Knitters and Crocheters

Easyknits Yarn.  Jon makes lovely yarns.  If you aren’t sure what color to get the knitter or crocheter in your life order them a few months of one of Jon’s yarn clubs.  There is the Sock Club which comes in different fiber flavors that you can choose from or the Shawl Club which comes with a sushi roll.  Both clubs get patterns and goodies to go along with the yarn chosen that month.  Since it is a month to month club, you can get as many months as you would like rather than having to get a years club (which can get a little pricey!).  The colors are always new and Jon tries really hard to find fun new extras to put in the packages.  Much better than a wine-of-the-month club (though that could be nice too I suppose…)  Jon has also rolled-out (after much annoying prodding from me and others:-)) his Little Guys line, which is a set of 5-20 gram mini skeins all in a color family ready for color work or for a sock yarn blanket or beekeeper’s quilt.  These would make an excellent gift for someone working on either of these projects! (Which I am….)

Patterns from Dutch Knitting Design.  Marleen has tons of patterns available in English and really I cannot praise them enough.  Her patterns are thoughtfully worded and graphed.  Marleen tries to use commonly available yarns (she has a collection of Noro designs as well as a bunch of patterns in Kidsilk Haze) so that you aren’t running around trying to find a yarn at your LYS that simply isn’t available except in one corner of Mongolia (y’all know what I’m talking about here!)

A set of needles from Signature Needle Arts.  This is not one to surprise your knitter with as these puppies are A.) sort of customized and B.) really not cheap.  I don’t own a pair myself but I know a few folks that do, a couple of them knit for a living, and they all love them.  They also do Gift Certificates if you still want to surprise them on the big day and then they can choose the needles that they want themselves.

Pretty much anything from Succaplokki.  This artist is located in Finland and make all the Knitting Accessories from recycled plastic.  There are Needle Sizers in all sorts of shapes, Stitch Markers, Mitten and Sock Blockers as well as Gauge Checkers.  The products are all well made and packaged in funky recycled papers and packaging.  All are very fun and would make great stocking stuffers!

The Quizzical Owl has all sorts of quirky jewelery and stitch markers from Legos and well pretty much anything little and fun that Alex finds interesting!  If you want something that you don’t see in her shop, she is more than willing to make custom items!

Subscriptions to either (or both!) Interweave Knits or Interweave Crochet.  Double duh.

Posh Folks

For the folks on your list who only want really luxe, high-end stuff might I suggest a key ring from Tiffany’s.  I got one of these as a graduation from high school gift and I still have it and use it.  One of the things that they don’t tell you is that if you lose the little ball on the end of it (there was an incident in Mobile, Alabama after their Mardi Gras and silver beads on the sidewalk everywhere) they will replace it.  At least when I went in to get it replaced, it was free.  They just gave me another one.  No questions and no issues at all.  And, best of all, it still comes in that little blue box with all the trimmings!

*I have gotten presents in the past from Jon of Easyknits and Marleen of Dutch Knitting Design as I am friends with both but I am not receiving anything for this post nor was I asked to promote their products.  I just really like their stuff!!!


Book Review: Crazy Aunt Purl’s Home is Where the Wine Is January 1, 2010

This was one of the books that I got as a Christmas present this year and I am so glad that I did. (However, I do really wish that I could get onto whatever list it is that they send you free copies of books that are coming out soon [especially yarn/fiber related books!] for you to read and review.  Anybody have an idea on that? [I would be willing to do giveaways!])

Laurie Perry’s skills as a writer have gotten even stronger since her last book Crazy Aunt Purl’s Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair which was laugh out loud funny itself.  Actually, it was more like laugh-until-you-nearly-pee-your-pants funny and her newest book is even better.  I guess that you would call it laugh-until-you-pull-a-muscle-in-your-side-and-then-pee-your-pants funny.  The hubby looked in on me several times while I was reading it trying to discern if I was laughing really hard or crying.  Seriously folks, this woman takes all that is the worst about being a single woman (and sometimes just being a woman in general) and makes you look at it, and I mean really look at it, and realize just how ridiculous it all is sometimes.  Her story about getting ready for a vacation to Hawaii literally made me laugh until I cried and anyone who has ever tried to get in shape will recognize themselves in her descriptions of her forays to the gym.

I’ve been a fan of Laurie’s Blog Crazy Aunt Purl ever since I read her first book a few years ago.  Since then, I’ve told anyone who would listen to me prattle about something like this (read: Happy Hookers crochet group) how great of a blog it is and how everybody should go out and get her books.  Or at the very least, check them out from the library.  Laurie is sort of like a much less whiny Bridget Jones (the one aspect that I always disliked about Bridget was the whiny tone she gets into often) with the much more realistic issues of cat litter (an issue that I have cussed and discussed several times myself), Target shopping (ditto) and yoga farting (haven’t hit that one yet).  I love the fact that she too has been on a date where the other participant spent more of the time on their cell phone than on conversation with the person sitting right in front of them.  At the end of this book there are knitting and crochet patterns which are mostly small projects that a beginner (or the obsessive, in the case of the rug) could easily do.

All in all, this book gets five (yarn) balls up (get yer minds out of the gutter!).  Way to go Laurie and please, don’t make us wait as long for the next one!!!


Insanity Wrap-up October 27, 2009

I’m sure that some of you have noticed that I haven’t been on here in a while.  That is because, my dear readers, I have been asleep or catching up on things that needed catching up on here in The Old Chapel.  Mostly sleeping though to tell you the truth.  I turned into sleeping beauty without the spinning wheel (or being a teenager for that matter!!!).  The hubby had to leave for France the morning after I got home which was probably good for him in all reality as I was a very boring person to be around for the first few days back, I don’t even snore (I just always look a bit angry when I sleep for some reason [I think it’s really a look of concentration, I take sleeping very seriously!]).

Anyway, I realize that I haven’t posted about the tail-end of my trip so here it goes:

While in Florida still, I had sort-of a crazy last day getting to see everyone that I hadn’t seen up to that point.  I was booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday.  It was sort of insane but very fun to get to see everyone.

On Thursday I flew out from Orlando to White Plains on AirTran.  Everything went well though I lost my sunglasses somewhere in transit (it was ok, the weather in New York was less than sunglass weather!).  I met my roommate Malin at the White Plains train station after a few navigational delays and we headed North towards Rhinebeck.  Once again I am super happy that I used Ravelry as a way to share room/rides as Malin and I hit it off amazingly well.  Well, I guess that isn’t too big of a surprise since we both traveled thousands of miles to go to a sheep and wool festival (crazy likes crazy).  The drive-up to the Hudson Valley was not as pretty as in years past as we had first rain, then sleet, then (I kid you not) snow.  As I have not driven in falling snow with insane New York drivers passing me like I’m road kill in a while (read: ever) it was a sort of disturbing drive for parts of it.  Also, because of the weather, the beautiful fall colors the area is known for were obscured.  However, we made it to our hotel without incident and went shopping.  Yes, you read that right, we went shopping.  Malin had never been to a T.J. Maxx or Marshalls or any store like that before so we went to the Marshalls nearby and she liked it (a lot).  I got a few things for home as well.  We also went to Target where I checked-off a bunch of things on my very odd list of things to get in the US including 2 extra value sized bottles of Pepto (it’s really expensive here).

On Friday Malin and I both had workshops that went all day.  It was nice to be there before the whole festival opened up as it gave both of us a chance to see just how really big the place is.  We checked-in and went off to our individual workshops.  This year they had fun goodie bags for all of the workshop participants with a pen and a button that featured Leicester Longwools, this year’s breed of sheep on it along with some candy bars and coupons for various booths.  My classes were both with Annie Modesitt who is an awesome instructor.  She’s a really fun teacher that I highly suggest that taking her classes is a must to anyone even if you think you already know everything!!!  Annie battled the noise in the building all day long and mostly kept her temper about it (I would have been about 10 bajillion times more bitchy.  I would have turned into a fire breathing knitting Godzilla of doom!!)  Malin’s class was a little less, uh, good.  The instructor for the class was ill  (a very common thing I found as I traveled, the flu was early this year) so a replacement was found a half an hour prior to the class starting.  Now, trying to set up a class on designing lace patterns on the fly cannot be easy.  I’m hoping that the committee will refund the folks in that class their money like they discussed.  Though, from what I gathered, the lady that stepped-in to teach it did as good of a job as possible on such short notice.  Anyway, at the end of the day I bought two of Annie’s books and had them signed by her.  If you haven’t already checked them out, I would totally suggest it.  They are: Knit with Courage, Live with Hope and Confessions of a Knitting Heretic.  They can both be purchased in the normal channels or via Annie’s Website.  The first class of the day I also got a copy of one of her awesome flip books detailing how to do “Grandma” knit and purl increases.

Friday night we went out to eat with a bunch of the other Rodeway Inn Raveler’s at the restaurant that is right by the hotel.  It was surprisingly nice with several birthday parties and, I think, a wedding reception going on.  The group was super fun and the food was excellent.  I got a calamari pizza that was surprisingly tasty, even cold the next day!  We left the restaurant full and pleased and really ready for bed!



Most of the "Rodeway Gang" on Friday night.


Saturday was the opening day of Rhinebeck.  Malin and I got up early and got a great parking spot close to the 4-H gate.  I can definitely say that this year wasn’t as busy as last year was.  There was only really a couple of hours that you had to fight the crowds off whereas last year it was the majority of the day.  I think that the fact that it was not the nicest weather this year had something to do with it all.  It was overcast and cold and constantly feeling as though it was going to to break into a storm at any minute for most of the day.  However, it was still the glorious insanity that is Rhinebeck and lots of goodies were bought and even more were fondled and oohed and ahhed over.   A few really fun things that we both did were knitting on the big sock (they are trying for a Guinness World Record [it’s a FREAKING big sock]) and getting to meet and have her new book “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” signed by Clara Parkes.



Still some lovely fall colors despite the rain





Goats are always fun!



One of the parking lots



The Saturday Ravelry Meet-up


Yes, there were even kangaroos there!!!


Aflac!!! Aflac!! A couple of the actual Aflac ducks.

By the end of the day, we were both pretty zonked so we stopped at the grocery store that is near the fairgrounds for some provisions and headed-out towards the Ravelry party in nearby Red Hook.  We got mildly lost (didn’t bring the parking instructions) but it was ok as we were really early still.  The parking lot at the nearby school was pretty empty when we got there and we were on the first bus.  The party was great!  With-out the parking hassles, everything went so much smoother this year compared to last.  The food was yummy the goodie bags were, well, goodie and the company was fantastic.  Malin and I were on the first bus in and the last bus out!!!  Woot woot!! Party girls!!!!  Major props to the Ravelry crew for putting together such an awesome event once again!


On Sunday we didn’t get up nearly as early nor were we out the door as fast.  Since we were checking out of the hotel, we needed to make sure that we packed everything and had it all loaded in the car for that afternoon.   Even with the later start, we got an even better parking spot on day two!  It was significantly colder than it had been on Saturday.  We kept hearing rumors about bad weather in the city which made us both nervous about getting home in a timely manner.  Plus, we were both pretty exhausted.  We went around to a few of the places that we weren’t able to get to easily on Saturday.  It was so quiet that The Fold (home of Socks that Rock) didn’t have a line.  At all.  It was amazingly quiet.  We got a few more things and watched some of the Sheep to Shawl competition and did some of the food tastings and left around 1pm.



Some of the ladies in the Sheep to Shawl competition


Blue Ribboned entries.


There was a guy there doing these awesome pumpkin carvings!


The drive back down to White Plains was pretty uneventful.  It was rainy and blowy but otherwise, no big surprises.  I dropped Malin off at the train station and made my way back to the White Plains airport where I dropped my car off and struggled to get all three of my very large bags into the airport.  I had just gotten into the door after a massive struggle when a very kind lady asked if I needed any help.  She didn’t work there, she must have just seen the look of near desperation on my face.  This kind stranger got me to the United check-in area where something even stranger faced me.  A really nice United gate worker.  He took one look at my face and had me just chill and breathe for a few minutes.  (I must’ve really looked like hell is all that  I can think!)  He then checked me in for my flights and even helped me carry my bags over to security!!!  Going through security was a breeze and I was left to chill in the airport as I was a couple of hours early.
However, as the time approached for my flight to start boarding, there was no notice anywhere.  I went over to the United counter and there was a sign saying that my flight to DC was delayed an hour.  This is seriously not good as I only had about a 50 minute transfer.  Speaking with the girl behind the counter, it pretty quickly became apparent that I was going to be spending the night somewhere that was not in the air London bound.  So, when the puddle jumper finally arrived, I got on it with a sense of resignation knowing that I either A.) would have to run like a bat out of hell for my gate or B.) would have a night in DC.  It was the latter as I missed my flight by about 10 minutes.  So, I walked over to the customer service area and amazingly my luck held as I got another very nice (though harassed) United employee who set me up for the night in a really nice resort hotel on the Potomac.  Luckily, the pub in the hotel was open until midnight so I was able to get some excellent food before going to bed.
My flight left the next morning at 9:30am and since my luggage was still in the bowels of Dulles airport, checking in was a cinch.  Everything left on time and we arrived at Heathrow a little bit early.  Really, the whole thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the hubby hadn’t taken the day off to hang-out with me.  I was more upset by that than anything else.  As it ended-up, I got in at around 9pm and it takes a good hour plus to get home from that airport.  The hubby had to leave for a business trip to Paris the next morning at 5am so we didn’t get a whole lot of time to spend together.



My nice room courtesy of United Airlines


See, really can't complain.

I then proceeded to sleep for the better part of the week while he was gone with at least 3 animals touching me at all times.




Milo giving me some love while I sleep

It’s good to be home.



Things I Miss July 21, 2009

The other night I was asked by someone at the Click and Clack knitting group that I was at what I missed about the US.  The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “parking lots”.  Yes, parking lots.  I know that that sounds kinda trite but it isn’t like I don’t miss my friends and family, it’s just that parking is a daily issue that is even more of an annoyance since getting the new car.  Anywhere you go you have to plan out a parking strategy in advance, there is no swinging into a mega sized parking lot outside of a mega store where you can get everything that you may or may not need.  The parking spaces are also sized quite differently since space is at such a premium.  Instead of being able to park a Hummer  you could park a hummingbird.  The smallest parking spaces labeled, “Compact Cars Only” in the US are still larger than the normal sized parking space here.  It just makes it more time consuming and frustrating to do, really, anything, that isn’t at home or within walking distance.

Odd things tend to hit me.  I miss JoAnn‘s with a vengeance on a regular basis.  It’s exasperating how difficult it is to find fabrics or buttons or beads that are cool.  There just isn’t any selection like I am used to anywhere and you have to visit multiple shops (see the above parking issue) to get everything that you need for a project.  Admittedly, it helps keep some money in the bank account but it still frustrates me.

Another issue that is seriously looming is the lack of clumping cat litter here.  We just put the final grains of Tidy Cat from the last of the buckets that I stockpiled before moving into the litter box and there is really no reasonably priced clumping cat litter that we have found here to replace it.  The word on the street is to use chicken crumble as it clumps together pretty well and is reasonable inexpensive but it just seems so wrong.  

I miss Target with a vengeance.  Markets are all good and well until you have to schlep 30 pounds of cat and dog food hither and fro while you finish your shopping since the car is a Sherpa’s life away.  Maybe it is a good thing that we can’t find clumping litter here as it would end-up making my arms rip off!

Boring roads that aren’t very twisty-turny are an odd thing to miss but I do.  It’s nice to be more worried about the wildlife that I may hit (including humans on SOBT) than driving off of the road constantly.   I miss store clerks asking if they can help you when you walk into a store, not just look at you like you are annoying them by wanting to buy something.  

I miss our vets, they are awesome. (With 6 animals, you do miss the vet.  Really)

Being able to understand people on the phone is a daily issue.  I know that it is in theory the same language but on the phone it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it.  I miss being able to call people without it being a huge issue.

I really, really, really miss my Hookers.  I think that Thursdays are the hardest day of the week for me as I know that I won’t be seeing them at the end of the day.  The other groups are nice but definitely not the same, not even close.  Sure they may talk about penises, but they are just so damn polite about it even when they are being bawdy.  I miss my rowdy band of Happy Hookers more than I could have imagined.


On the positive side, the weather is great!


Most of the time…


The Graduation and Maryland Sheep and Wool Post May 11, 2009

So, I have been a very bad blogger!  Are you gonna spank me now?  Huh?  Didn’t think so.  I know that I’ve been bad but I actually have a pretty decent reason for it.  I was in the US for the past week+ and I didn’t have a whole lot of internet connection nor time to connect.  And, for the past few days I’ve been catching up on important things like sleep, laundry and all of my page-a-day calenders.  Oh, and puppy cuddling.  Lots and lots of puppy cuddling!

I'm a total lover despite my tough exterior!

I'm a total lover despite my tough exterior!


We even cuddle with each other at times.

We even cuddle with each other at times.

It is now all very official.  I am now an alumna of the University of Florida.  I graduated on Friday with 600+ other Ag students.  It honestly felt sort of silly.  The hat, the tassels (I had multiple since I graduated cum laude) the dressing up.  But I’m glad that I did it as it put a very serious period at the end of that sentance of my life.  


Out at the MREC in full regalia in the plant ID hell courtyard

Out at the MREC in full regalia in the plant ID hell courtyard


Out in front of the Big Sign

Out in front of the Big Sign


There were bagpipes.

There were bagpipes.


A baby gator on the Jumbotron of course.

A baby gator on the Jumbotron of course.


Largest class to graduate ever!

Largest class to graduate ever!


Me on the Jumbotron

Me on the Jumbotron

Can you tell I'm pleased?

Can you tell I'm pleased?


Cesar and Pam brought me flowers and drove all the way up for my graduation!

Cesar and Pam brought me flowers and drove all the way up for my graduation!


Diane, my advisor and friend and I.

Diane, my advisor and friend and I.



The Commencement Booklet

The Commencement Booklet


Proof that I was supposed to be there!

Proof that I was supposed to be there!

Prior to graduation there was my Thursday night hookers meet-up!  It was great being back with the gang again.  We got loud and we more than shut the place down.  I missed these guys even more than I knew.


Look at that rowdy bunch!

Look at that rowdy bunch!


Jessi came all the way from Sarasota for the hooking and parties!

Jessi came all the way from Sarasota for the hooking and parties!


David's got big, um, cameras....

David's got big, um, cameras....

After my graduation party (lots and lots of fun at my favorite restaurant with lots of my favorite people there)

(I don’t have any pictures of this just yet, still working on it)

I caught a few hours of sleep and then I caught a Southwest Airlines flight to Baltimore to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Now, I probably shouldn’t compare the two sheep and wool festivals that I’ve been to of late, but I’m going to.  Maryland Sheep and Wool is always purporting to be bigger than Rhinebeck.  I personally, didn’t see it.  It seemed to be about as big as Rhinebeck and slightly more disorganized.  It was nice that it was free, but I would prefer to pay a little bit than to constantly have t-shirts shoved down my throat.  The fleeces and the food were both a great deal more expensive at the Maryland Sheep and Wool.  The sheep fleeces were going for around the same prices as the lower quality alpaca blankets were at Rhinebeck.  I’m glad that I wasn’t looking for either at Maryland.  Both festivals aren’t particullary organized when it comes to getting their shit together on the internet.  There is really no excuse for stuff going up on the web about a month prior to the festival.  Even if you have to change it later, put it up now to give people an idea to start planning around!  I thought that the facilites overall were better at Rhinebeck.  The one very big thing that Maryland has going for it was just how easy it was to get there.  I have to admit, being off a major interstate is nice.  All in all, I’m glad that I went but I won’t be all that strung out about missing it next year.  And my advise to anyone thinking of doing one of these two sheep and wool festivals is to go to Rhinebeck if you possibly can.  It is a bit of a pain to get to, but it’s so very worth it.

(The photos of this are captive on my phone.  As soon as tech support [aka the wizard] releases them from their small phone sized box I will post them)

I also hung out at Yarn Therapy night on Tuesday night with Terri and Co.  I think that I surprised her a little bit by being there:-)  It was good to get to hang out in the lovely Infusion Tea once again and get some tasty food and drink and see everybody there.  I was bad and didn’t take any photos of that night since I was having so much fun!

I got lots of presents that are seriously cool.  I’m not going to put pictures in here of them as it takes a while to upload things.  Lets just say that these made a serious dent in my suitcase space!

And I also did a fair amount of shopping while I was there.  The Micheals, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby and Sip and Knit were all calling loudly while I was home.  “Sarah!  Sarah!  We have lots of new clearance/sale items/new stuff to check out!  Come visit as soon as possible!”  Then there was the Target and Barnes and Noble voices that were more like the families with bull horns at graduation.  Barnes and Noble was especially bad since I had gotten several gift cards as graduation gifts.

Now I am home and starting on a new adventure.  Catch the next post to find out what it is…..


We Have Both Dreamed of Boxes January 8, 2009

Packing is in full-swing here.  We’re up to the mid 200’s in the box numbers.  Mind you a lot of those are the wonderful cat food and litter buckets that I am obsessive about saving since they make great yarn containers but they are not the biggest things to pack things into.  However, they are free and quite sturdy so we are using them.  Most of the books are packed, there are maybe just a few hundred left.  Hey, after probably 2700 or so, a few hundred doesn’t seem too big of a deal!  Anyway, this is a picture of the source of our related dreams.



I was going to write about the 2(!) new pairs of girly shoes that I got at Target and 1 pair at Marshall’s last week.  But since they got packed before they were able to be photographed you will just have to wait for that thrill.  Instead, I will amuse you with pictures of the yarn count going down.



These were taken when the count was at around 200.  It’s at around 400 at this point.  Take a moment and imagine.  Now add 4 cats, 2 dogs and 2 increasingly tired humans.  You get the idea.  You can check out the ever growing stash count here on the Ravelry site.   If you aren’t a Ravelry member and you are reading this you seriously need to get your ass over there!!!!

So, a little Christmas sharing.  My brother had be warning me that A.) Monster Mutt Micheal wouldn’t remember me and that B.) He was “fuzzy” and that he was C.) “fat”.  This is what I found when I got to Ackley.


He looked exactly like he did when I left him except sometimes he was surrounded by white.


It was certainly a “White Christmas” as we got at least 4 inches of snow very early on Christmas Eve.  It was easily one of the prettiest Christmases that I have seen in Iowa ever.  


While we were in Ackley we got to spend some time with our friends Sarah and Dan and, of course, the ever growing MH.  We went out to eat at the Ackley Family Diner as they were passing through the area on their way from Chicago to Sioux City.


You can see that MH has gotten quite a bit more active in the few months since we last saw him.  His newest trick is grabbing things and pulling, so we spent a lot of time baby proofing the area around whoever was holding him at the time as things like menus and drinks and cameras were in serious peril if they came within his reach.



The Hubby and I had better get cracking and make this little cutie a future wife post haste!


That same day we also went to one of my favorite yarn shops in the Midwest (and probably the world) The Rose Tree Fiber Shop.  It was busier than I expected for the day after Christmas.  I guess that everyone was just stir crazy after so much time at home with the family (I may have been projecting a little bit there…).



I love this shop and can spend hours there despite the small size of it.  

Ok, I need to sleep sometime tonight in order to have the strength to keep up with the hookers tomorrow night. Goodnight!