Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oooohhhh! Shiny!

Guess what's new and shiny today?

I found online plans for a spinning wheel. I'm much too much jealous of my friend Colyn and hers.

While I'd love to have a "Joy" spinning wheel - $500 isn't easy to come by to purchase an item that I merely covet so... next best thing. I'll do it myself! (Said in my best toddler impersonation)

A month ago I got a beautiful Angora rabbit. My hopes are that I can spin her lovely wool with some lamb's wool. Appropriately, I named my bunny "Mitten". :o)

In the meantime, I've spent the last few hours cutting out the strips for the plaited basket and trying to assemble it.

Those who know me know that spacial perception is not my strong suit. This basket is proving it. I have half a mind to put up a photo of it in its current state just for giggles but somewhere in there my pride just won't let me do it. LOL I think if I had better step by step instructions rather than an ad laden 3 page article that I'm trying to decipher, I'd have gotten farther by now. Maybe not. If Katy puts hers together before me, I'll know it was me and not the directions.

Remember the old saying that when you went "loopy" you studied basket weaving? I'm thinking that basket weaving may MAKE you go loopy.

Basketweaving - maybe not my forte. We shall see.

Woodworking - not even close to being my forte but more on that later.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Memoirs of me


My buddy Shez sent me a game. This one has proven to be very difficult, however. You see, I have spent the last few years letting people define who I am. Sometimes this has been very painful for me when I come to the realization of what they are trying to make me. Sometimes it's funny when I think of what they view me as. (Giving me much too much credit, I think.) Sometimes it's out of laziness that I don't correct them - sometimes apathy.

It's been a very long time since I've just sat down and thought, "Self?" and answered, "Huh? What? Oh, yes? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention." "Who ARE you?" "Well, um, I'm Alan's wife, I guess. The McCoy children's mother. Um yeah. That's me." "No - who are YOU?"

And that's the rub. When we become a wife - do we take on that title? Who am I? I am wife. When we become a mother is it the same? Who am I? I am Mother. But no. I'm those things but that's not who I am. Somehow we seem to give up our identity when as we change from life phase to life phase.

Those who know me also will attest to the fact that the Maiden Aspect (of maid, mother, and crone) is not something I have a desire to leave. I think that's why I like teaching children. I get to play. I get to joke and have fun. I get to teach important things like making straws into slide whistles. ;o)

I have read articles about Americans' fascination with labeling things and that at social gatherings after asking someone's name, our first question is "What do you do?" because we define people according to their occupation. I think that's why there's always such a pause when people say, "Oh, I don't work." We have to re-organize that filing system in our brain quickly to move on to the next question. (As I write this, it has not gone unnoticed that there's a section on my blog editor that says, "Labels for this post". How ironic.)

I think it's most difficult for us to label ourselves. Maybe pretentious people can do that. Maybe people who have prestigious jobs (according to societal norms) don't have a problem with that. It's easy to say, "Oh, I'm a doctor." "Oh, I'm a Nobel Prize Candidate." "Oh, I'm a Teacher." with no apologies or explanations. But ask a SAHM what she does you'll usually get an answer like, "Oh, I'm a stay at home mom but I USED to be a ..." Being comfortable in what YOU want to be or do and still fit into the "norms" of society is hard.

So when Shez sent me the task of a 6 word memoir I was stumped. I immediately thought of The Breakfast Club. "Who am I? WHO am I? Who AM I?" I just didn't know if I could answer that.

Then it dawned on me. The six words. Perfection. Simple - odd - funny. Just like me.

So my 6 word memoir?

"There's a joke in there somewhere."

I think this really reflects on my personal ability to find humor where there is none and I'll be the first to admit I have a strange affection for gallows humor and dark comedy. While people ranted and raved about the horrible (imo) movie, "Dances with Wolves", (Really, people. You LIKED that movie? You do know that American Indians rolled their eyes at this one, right? Once again the White Man is the only salvation??? Don't think that's flattering to other cultures.) my favorite part was where his driver came upon the skeleton and remarked, "Somebody back home wondrin' why he don't write." I was driven to guffaws.

One-liners are my favorite. "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, 'I drank what?' " They just don't get funnier than that.

"Buzzards gotta' eat same as worms." What a wonderfully simplistic dark humored statement.

Perhaps it's my need to look for a bright side, a way to lighten the emotional load, maybe even a little dash of shadenfraude.

But yes, that would be my six word memoir.

Wanna' play along?

The rules are as follow:

# Write a six-word memoir.

# Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like.

# Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogsphere.

# Tag 5 more blogs with links

# Don’t forget to leave a comment in the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Polished off and shining



Some really cool homeschool moms are starting a "Book Arts Bash" for homeschoolers and their families. It sounds phenomenal and I'm very excited for my children because they love to write. I'll make an announcement when it's live but right now, I'm letting them decide that. I'm not licking the red off of anyone else's candy, let me tell you.

I'm pondering sending in a couple of poems of mine. This one I actually wrote a few years ago for a friend whose son had died. They read it at the eulogy. Later, my husband's grandmother died and they asked if they could read it there too. One would think that only having their poems read at funerals would be kind of depressing but I was actually flattered that it provided that much comfort to people.

Anyway, believe it or not, this poem came to me in a dream. Now, I'm one of the most Amazing Randi type people you'll ever meet so when I have these "spiritual awakenings", I take notice.

So, you get to have a first glance before I submit it.

I Am Here

You will not have to look for me
I will be in the warmth of the sun on your skin
I will be in the cool dew of the evening on your feet
I will be in the stillness of the air or the torrent of the wind

You will not have to call for me
I will be in the sound of the meadow
I will be in the song of the nightingale
I will be in crash of the ocean and the whisper of the wind

You will not have to long for me
I will be with you in the smell of a rain soaked morning
I will be with you as the fragrance of a ripened orchard
I will be with you as a breath from the sea and the smell
of a storm on the
wind

You will not be without me

- Shelley McCoy ©2003

I have another that I want to submit that, yes, also came to me in a dream. This one actually woke me up so I had to find a pen and paper at 4 in the morning so I wouldn't forget it. I really like this one. It's about empowering our daughters to not have to wait for a man to "rescue" them.

It took less than 3 minutes to write down. (Let's hope the judges don't say that. LOL "This sounds like something someone wrote in 3 minutes. Where's the trashcan?") But it was almost as if I was channeling it. Automatic writing. Yes, that's what it's called. :o)

Again, I'm an Amazing Randi type of gal but one has to wonder sometimes - from whence comes inspiration?

So go ahead, I'm putting on my earplugs. Whaddya' think? I can take it. Fire away. :o)

Now it's rusty...


As opposed to shiny. :)

Here are those blasted socks. These are made using Moda Dea Sassy Stripes yarn and five size 5 (US) needles. Any DK weight yarn would work though (# 3 weight yarn)

Toddler Sock Pattern

Ribbing and Leg:

Cast on 32 stitches. Join in a ring being careful not to twist. Mark join as the beginning of the round and center of heel. Divide stitches over 4 needles. Begin ribbing pattern of k2, p2 and knit circularly for approximately 5 inches. Knit one round even. Divide across needles. (8, 8, 8, 8). Beginning with Needle 1 and selected motif, knit leg stitches until desired leg height is reached.


Begin Heel:

NOTE: Heel is worked in rows on 16 stitches.

Heel Pattern:
Row 1 *Slip 1, k1 repeat across from *
Row 2 Slip 1, purl across

Knit in heel pattern until you have 16 heel flap rows. Heel flap shape should be close to square. End with a purl row.


Turn Heel as follows:

Row 1: Sl 1, K9 sts, K2 tog, K1 turn
Row 2: Sl 1, P5 sts, P2 tog, P1, turn
Row 3: Sl 1, K6, K2 tog, K1, turn
Row 4: Sl 1, P7, P2 tog, P1, turn
Row 5: Sl 1, K7, K2 tog, K1, turn
Row 6: Sl 1, P8, P2 tog, P1, turn
Row 7: Sl 1 K8, k2 tog, K1 turn
Row 8: Sl 1 P9, P2 tog, P1 turn

Gusset:

Knit to the center of the heel. Using a spare needle, knit across the remaining heel stitches. Pick up and knit 8 stitches from the side of the heel flap and knit one stitch in the gusset corner (Needle 1). Knit in pattern across needles 2 and 3. With needle 4 pick up and knit one stitch in the gusset corner and then pick up and knit 8 stitches from the side of the heel flap. Knit the remaining heel stitches.

Stitch count is (14, 8, 8, 14) respectively.


Gusset Decrease and Sock Foot:

Rnd 1:
Needle 1: Knit until the last 3 stitches, k2 tog, k1.
Needle 2 and 3: Work in pattern around.
Needle 4: K1, SSK, knit around.

Rnd 2: Work in pattern around.

Repeat these 2 rounds until total stitches equal 32. Transfer stitches as necessary so that you have returned to your original stitch placement. (8, 8, 8, 8).

Sock Foot:

Continue knitting in stockinette on needles 1 and 4 and in pattern on needle 2 and 3 until you are approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the top of your longest toe.

Shape Toe:

Rnd 1:
Needle 1: Knit until the last 3 sts, K2 tog, K1
Needle 2: K1, SSK, knit around.
Needle 3: Knit until the last 3 stitches, K2 tog, K1
Needle 4: K1, SSK, knit around.
Rnd 2: Knit around

Continue in this manner until you have approximately 8 stitches remaining or until sock has your desired toe shape. Using a kitchener stitch, bind the last 8 stitches off the needles.

What I didn't like about the sock is the thickness of the gusset. I'm starting a new pair now with a shaped foot (arch), short-row narrow heel, but still in the Moda Dea Sassy Stripes yarn. I'm hoping for a better fit.

I opted for a 5 inch ribbing so that it could have the "slouch" look. :)

Anyway, Connor loves to put on his crocs because he can do it by himself so I think these socks will keep his toes toasty in our moderate Winter.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Found something shiny last night...

The world of GANSEYS! So you think you know sweaters?

I've long heard the story of sweaters having particular patterns, initials, and yarn colors to identify sailors or other watermen should they go missing and turn up drowned. It's a very sad story but quite brilliant if you think about it.

Ganseys are a Zimmerman dream come true.

Now, to find a great pattern. I think I shall start at the library and design one for my Irish hubby.

I like to start small, though, so I found a pattern for gansey socks. Believe it or not, socks are more my speed. I say believe it or not because well, I'm still not finished with that baby sock. I know. I know. It's just a baby sock. And I'm at the easy part even. I just had to put it on hold to clean the living room or we risked bringing dust bunnies to life.

With the children's help, though, it'll be done quickly and we can knit knit knit!

Hey, wanna' learn to knit socks? This is the best tutorial I've found.

Socks 101

That's how I learned. Well, that and my left-handed friend who learned from a right-handed German woman who knit continental. Talk about a trip!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Deva Made Me Do It

This is a fun thing from my buddy Deva's site. It's a fun game. I had a blast looking up things.

So here's the game:

Go to flickr and answer the following questions... you know what? Go to Deva's site and get the directions. Then you can see her beautiful mosaic too!

This is my mosaic based on the questions.



These are the questions, from the upper left:

What is your first name? Well, it's Shelley but I prefer to be called "Shell". I thought this was an amazing shell picture.

What is your favorite food? Sushi. MMMMMMMMMMmmmmm!!!!

What high school did you attend? Kempsville I'm a local. :o)

What is your favorite color? Black

Who is your celebrity crush? Antonio Banderas, DUH!

Favorite drink? Lemonade... that cool refreshing drink. If we're talking alcoholic than it's a vodka and tonic with a twist of lime - BELVEDERE vodka, if you don't mind.

Dream vacation? Anyplace tropical but I'm partial to Bermuda.

What is your favorite dessert? KEY LIME PIE!!!!

What do you want to be when you grow up? Assuming I ever grow up I think I'll stay an artist.

What do you love most in life? My hubby and children - this gorgeous shot came up when I typed in Alan's name, though.

One word to describe you. Bohemian.

Your flickr name - Princess Kadoodle. My beloved girl scouts gave me that name. :o) No picture comes up for that, though, so I just used "Princess" and loved the softness of that shot.

Eek - WHAT'S for dinner?

I'm a planner. I like to plan things - trips, schooling, menus.

I usually do my menu planning a month in advance. Before you roll your eyes, let me tell you why. I am usually so busy that I don't have time to plan daily for dinner. "What's so hard about planning dinner?" you ask? There are six of us and all with varying tastes.

So, the monthly menu plan came into play.

Strange things started happening when I did the monthly planning. I was able to really think about what was on the plate - nutritionally speaking, I mean. I also started saving a LOT of money. Leftovers were creatively considered in the next meal's planning. Turkey sandwiches on one night were turkey a la king on another.

It stopped the fast food giants from preying on my family too. I knew what was in the fridge or freezer at any moment. No need to swing by to get something "real quick" because I knew what "real quick" stuff was already in the fridge.

Sadly, for the last three months, I haven't done a menu. Part of this was due to a serious GI illness that I had for about two months. They only just now figured out that I probably had a severe case of salmonella... from yep, you guessed it, tomatoes. Doctor's visits, lab tests, etc. couldn't find anything. That's why it's the "art" of medicine and not the "science".

So um, yeah... menus. I'm trying to figure out what to have tonight. My buddy Deva had a SCRUMPTIOUS looking avocado picture on her blog. MMmmmm. That got my mind going. We don't eat a lot of cooked food in the summer. Raw hamburger... I'M KIDDING! I mean we eat more fruits, veggies, and cold things in the summer. Hubby likes a lot of things that I won't eat because they have a texture thing going on that doesn't play nicely with my palate. (Couscous, tabouli, etc.) Tabouli? I mean c'mon. It's like course sand with parsley. What a tragic waste of tomatoes! What am I missing, people?

Gazpacho is another of his favorites. I often ask him why not just pour a bottle of salsa in a bowl and grab a spoon. Another shudder. (Not that I don't like salsa, mind you. I do. Just not in a bowl with a spoon.)

Hubby and I were veggie heads for years and slowly started eating meat again when I got pregnant with my first child and it was "mandated". You see, I don't like a lot of protein substitutes - tofu (again, that consistency thing), garbanzo beans, those kinds of things. I was between a rock and a hard place with an H/H that was near nothing. (Meaning my iron was low even for an anemic person).

I still cook a LOT of veggie only meals and the children love them. I find that meat is more of a convenience because I already know meals that I can center around them.

I don't think I'd ever give up seafood, though. Red meat I can live without. I'm not real zealous about turkey either. I *do* like chicken. That one was always hard on me. But living without tuna fish just isn't going to happen in my house. :o) Neither is giving up sushi. The final thing I put my foot down about is cheese. I'd give up chocolate before cheese, I'm telling you. I bet some serious contemplation would reveal some kind of vitamin deficiency that I have that makes me crave it so much. I just love the taste of all of them. Makes my mouth water just thinking of Canadian Cheddar or Spanish Port Wine Cheese. Yes, I'm a bit of a cheese snob, in all honesty.

So for tonight's dinner - corn fritters (this is my favorite recipe for them), focaccia bread with sauteed vadalia onions and portabellos, spinache, feta, olive oil and vinegar drizzle, and fresh vine-ripened tomatoes (salmonella aside). Maybe a cucumber and seaweed salad too (with sesame seeds, ginger, and rice wine vinegar). I know. I know. I won't eat tabouli but I'll eat seaweed. Go figure. Oh, and I will eat tofu in the form of miso paste. And maybe I'll throw in some lovely avocados with tomatoes and feta in a Greek vinaigrette. That would be yummy.

What's on your plate for dinner tonight?

Please take care to wear flowers in your hair


Sigh. I love San Francisco. That song has me reminiscing.

Here are some shots of the aforementioned rice-paper flower barrettes.

The process was simple but time consuming (isn't everything in the craft world?).

At first, I used a die cut machine to cut out the flowers but I didn't love them so I resorted to just cutting out flower shapes by hand. After you cut them out, you use watercolors to paint them. They come out muted but the colors bleed into each other quite nicely. The top one was done with watercolors. The bottom three were done with acrylics watered down. The girls had a good time painting those. The top one was the one *I* did.

While they are still wet, you have to twist the flower so that the petals start to crimp or bend in a more natural way. I finally realized a simple way to do this (we were all having problems with that part). I pushed the end of the paintbrush (the non-bristled end, I mean) into the center gently enough as to not tear the paper but firmly enough to be able to use the brush and twist around it. It seems the slickness of the brush makes it easier to twist instead of trying to twist the flower against its own paper petals.

Then you let it dry. It only takes an hour or so to dry but if you're in a hurry, you can use a hair dryer. I opted to let them dry naturally.

Once dried, you can take a fine marker and add details. That's how the veining got on the flowers.

They still looked a bit plain to me so I went to my bead drawer (yes, I have a bead drawer - doesn't everyone?) and took out some seed beads and used "incredibly tacky" glue. That glue name makes me laugh every time I read it or say it. I found it easier to put a little glue on the end of a sewing needle to pick up the seed beads. I was going to glue them anyway so I didn't mind the glue on the beads.

The clips are just quilter's clips from Michael's. I glued the flowers on the clips with hot glue. My concern was that the hot glue would peel off after a while so I also used the incredibly tacky glue too. It's supposed to bind to metal as well.

The top one is my favorite (no, not because it's mine). I love the tropical color combination there.

Now... to finish that d@mn sock...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Today's Shiny Object....

I'm still clicking away on my sock. That's really pathetic since it's a baby sock. Lots of interference today and yesterday, though. I thought I'd be able to knit at vaulting but I always feel I need to be sociable and my "visiting" prevented it.

Then that blasted work thing got in the way. I spent the evening making gum paste carnations. Pretty but not what I wanted to be doing.

Since I had girls in the house last night (my children had friends stay over), I decided to paint flowers for barrettes with them. They did a really nice job. Unfortunately, they had to leave before they dried correctly or were assembled so I'll be doing that today.

Truth is, I'd really rather be sleeping. Today is a sleepy day for me. I've done the mom-taxi thing, domestic goddess things (laundry, et al) and the nurse thing. (Little one is sick today) But I still have more day left and many things to do.

Barrettes to finish, sock to finish, (see that dreaded pattern I told you about???) but I want to make a basket. So, I'm going to make myself finish the other two today and then make a basket. I've done pine straw basket making before. So pretty. I'm fortunate enough to have a pine tree with 18" needles (this is a plus in the pine straw basket market, let me tell you.) This one is a bit different. I've never done one in wicker or cane. I'm going to start with paper and then move to other organic items from around the yard.

The inspiration is from a FABULOUS new magazine called "Living Crafts". If you are a Waldorfy type person, you must get this magazine! I want to jump right into its pages and live with the artwork as well as the artists. Just gorgeous!

Today's shiny object? Basketry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

They do WHAT on the back of a horse?!?


They do gymnastics on the back of a horse. Think "Circus of the Stars" meets "Mary Lou Retton".

We were lucky enough to be introduced to the world of Equestrian Vaulting this year. Two of my children participate and LOVE it!

They'll be on TEAM in the fall where they'll have the opportunity to compete and perform. They are very excited!

Equestrian Vaulting is actually a very old sport (dating back to the Roman times). While not popular (yet) in the United States, it's been a staple of equestrian entertainment in Europe for centuries.

Hopefully, it will catch on here and everyone will have a chance to see what this beautiful sport is all about. You have to admire any sport where your team mates also consist of a beautiful horse!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

4th of July Homeschooling




I'm often accused of not sleeping. It's true. I sleep very rarely. Don't get me wrong. I *LOVE* sleep. I just don't get enough of it. Docs have tried for years to give me meds to promote sleep but I'm not interested. When I was a teen, I slept 12 - 14 hours a day. I like to think I banked it.

What has this got to do with 4th of July homeschooling, you ask? Well, in one of my "I really should be sleeping but let me get this one thing done first..." modes, I did a curriculum outline for July for my family.

I was pretty proud of my ideas. Hubby chimed in with some great ones (the geometry ones were his and he's not a math person so I was doubly impressed.)

So, in pdf form and available to all, I have a curriculum guideline/outline for July for all grades (since my children span the gamut.)

Patriotic Theme Unit Ideas

As always, you do the stunts, tricks, tips on that download at your own risk. I will assume NO responsibility for firework mishaps or brain freeze from home-made ice cream. Heck, the only responsibility I'll take is if you had a great time doing the stuff on there. :o) You have been warned. (End of legalese statement. )

Also remember that this work is copyrighted (as is the work to on the referring pages to their own respective authors). Please don't distribute it without permission or sell it. (End of legalese statement here too.)

SOS


It's only fitting to share my inside jokes with everyone before starting. Otherwise, it wouldn't be funny. Well, in all honesty, it may still not be funny but at least we'll be on the same page.

S.O.S. No, not "Save Our Ship". That's too easy. I'm referring to "Shiny Object Syndrome". At first, this may sound like a disease that magpies or other such birds may acquire. I assure you that, unfortunately, this is a very human disease... er disorder.

Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is the art of being right in the middle of a great project when something new, fun, and alluring comes along. At that point, the "old" project becomes boring, mundane, etc. You long for that new project. You fantasize about it. Finally, you give in.

Some of the side effects of SOS are UFOs - not of the ET variety but the "unfinished objects" that lay around the house waiting to be called.

Since I suffer so severely from SOS, I thought I'd share my projects with you all and hopefully work with you (my support group) on finishing them.

Now, SOS isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it drives me to finish a project so I can hurry and start another. And this isn't just crafting I'm talking about. I write (mostly editorial articles and encyclopedia entry type things), design homeschool curricula, and pretty much anything else that sparkles.

My current Shiny Object? Knitting socks. I'm trying to get a few done before my boys go to Boy Scout Camp. When I get tired of that, I'm painting rice paper flowers I made to make into barrettes for my daughter. I'm switching between the two so I don't get bored.

The interesting thing about SOS is that your desires are varied - your interests many.

Because of that, this blog will be wildly varied in topic but that's a good thing because they'll always be something shiny for someone.

You may get bored with your current project but you are seriously never bored... at least not for long because something shiny ALWAYS comes along.

Welcome to my fellow SOS sufferers. My name is Shelley and I have SOS.