Unfinished Business

Right now I'm still working on my adult-sized sweater.  I keep getting distracted by other projects!  It will be a miracle if I finish this thing.  But I got the entire back piece done, so I'm 1/5 of the way there. 

And, to be honest, it wasn't that painful.  If I spend my lunch break at work knitting, I can finish a section in about 2 weeks.
detail of the lace panel

 I'm also working on a crochet bikini (!!!) for Mr A's daughter.  I even ordered the yarn specially for this project (usually its the other way around - the yarn finds me first).  It is a scrumptiously soft, fine gauge Egyptian cotton.  I looooove it.  Its so luscious! 

I really like the color too.  The pattern has this nice fan motif.  The top is working up nicely and the instructions are straight-forward.  I'm a little nervous about the bottoms because I'm going to modify the original pattern and deviating from the directions gives me hives.

And, you know, I'm always panicking about fit.  She assured me that she doesn't care if it's perfect...but I care!
detail of the fan motif


How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

I love our cast iron skillet.  In theory, this is a piece of cookware that lasts a lifetime. 

However, we are guilty (my husband more than myself) of washing it with soap AND soaking it in water, two cardinal sins of cast iron care.  I don't think Mr A can deal with the paradigm shift involved in "unwashing".

After 5 years, the time has come to give my cast iron some much needed TLC.  There are so many ways to do it and most of them will work.  This is what I did.

Clean all the crud, food, rust, baked on goodness and whatever else off the pan.  I used a Japanese stainless steel sponge.  Here is a perfect time to use soap!  I also used some baking soda because ours had seriously caked on goo.

First, let the pan dry thoroughly.  Some suggested baking it with table salt to draw out the impurities, but I didn't get that high tech.  Then, thickly coat the pan - inside, outside, handle, everything - with some kind of oil.  You  can use liquid vegetable oil (I did the first time when this baby was fresh out the box), bacon lard, or shortening.  I used good ole Crisco. 

Line the bottom rack with foil (just in case) and put the coated pan in the center, upside down.  Bake for about 20min at 275-300 degrees.  Turn it right side up and continue to bake it for another hour.  You'll want to have it in there for 3-4 hours total, so the grease can really cook into it.  Every hour or so, carefully remove the pan from the oven and recoat it using a paper towel. 

And that's it!  Its going to smell kind of funky, but it shouldn't smoke.  If it's smoking, that means there is too much oil.  Just drain out the excess and throw it back in there. 

My skillet feels so loved now.  Just like a loved husband, he now makes tastier food, is nicer to look at, and isn't holding onto everything just to spite me! 


Lets Talk March Madness

This ones for you, Aunty Beth.


A Few Craft Ideas

Since I'm on a verge of a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how I'm going to finish all the crap I have do in the next week, I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I would rather be doing right now.  Fun crafty things that are a happy waste of time.  So much better than boring necessary things that smack of adult responsibilities.

If you already follow me on pinterest - this is old news.

pattern from Rowan Yarns

My first *adult sized* sweater.  It's a terrifying commitment.  What if I get to the end and realize my gauge was off?  Or this looks better on the model than my body?  Or the wool doesn't drape right?  Or its too small/wide/the color is wrong/etc???  
Sweaters are both time consuming and expensive.  The thought of getting to the end and realizing that I can't wear it scares the bejeezus out of me.  It's the reason I've been knitting for 10+ years and have never made an adult sized sweater.  
But I'm about half way up the back piece so now I'm in it for the long haul.

sure it looks good - but he can't pull it past his knee!


Ikaika has been out of diapers for almost two years.  BUT he still wets the bed at night.  Lately he's become more aware of this so he will wake up and go to the bathroom, take his diaper off, and go back to bed.  Three hours later we are awakened (again) because he wet the bed.  Oi! 

At this point, I am much more motivated by the waste/guilt of throwing away disposables that I am with saving money.  I set out to make some training pants, trying to squeeze one more use out of the flatfolds before they're completely cashed.  Growl.  It "worked"...I guess.  The pattern isn't perfect and it's been a frustrating process.  My boys' fat thighs keep jamming me up.

The decision that has been weighing on my mind is:
do I use what I have on hand to make something that will work and just deal with it?
do I suck it up and invest money in some quality cloth training pants...like these?    Or these? (I'm liking how the fit is customized)
a combo of both (maybe 2-3 "good" ones and 4-5 "ghetto" ones)?


it will eventually be a headband...or something

I just finished this super cute Victorian Lace Shrug for my friend's daughter.  Even though I was warned that she has too many accessories, I couldn't help myself.  Now I just need to finish this bow, wrap it all up (got the most beautiful box from work), and send it out.  Love included at no extra charge.


Sewing Machine Pin Cushion from the ironically named blog I Can Find The Time
A Table Cloth Tent/Fort for the boys room, where we recently relocated a table that we don't want to get rid of but really didn't need anywhere else in the house.
A Wet Bag with am ingenious pocket for dry things!  My shower curtain bag finally gave out on me, so now is the perfect time to replace it with something more durable.  This is perfect for the beach. 


The People's Republic of Capitalism

Mr A and I rented The People's Republic of Capitalism from the library and have been having a blast watching it over the past week.  I'm starting to give that Chinese Studies program at UHH some serious reconsideration (a daily 3-hour commute can't be that bad...right?)

Last night we were watching Ted Koppel explain the WalMart paradox.  We want jobs in the US.  But we want good working wages.  We want lots of material goods.  But we also want rock bottom prices. 

Answer: China.  More than enough bargain priced labor (if you don't want to work in a factory for 20 cents an hour, there's a line out the door of people who will) and every US company seems to have figured this out.  Even stuff that you think was made in the US, usually has parts that were manufactured in China.  And its CRAZY how companies will ship crap here, there and everywhere!  Yet, somehow, it still comes out to lowering that bottom line. 

Its the irony of the laid off US worker who shops at WalMart because of the low prices, which were made possible because her job went to someone in China.  Its the "hidden cost" of items that seem like bargains.  I don't think there is any one solution for this conundrum. 

Everywhere I turn, the concept of cutting back just keeps popping up. 

My problem (and we all know I'm addicted to deals) is that I, like most Americans, want an unrealistic amount of stuff.  If I knew that a couch, fully manufactured in the US, was going to cost me 6 months salary, I probably wouldn't think that I could afford to replace my couch, fridge and DVD player all in the same year.  Also, if I had to save for 5 years in order to afford a sofa, I would be keeping that thing for a long, long time.  Consumer goods have become so affordable to Americans that we hardly even hand things down anymore.  Why use Grandma's couch when you can get a new, modern sectional at Costco for $800?

[CLICK HERE for the "economic microcosm" of the couch]

I can waltz into WalMart and pick up just about anything I think I need.  But, if I do that, can I really complain about US jobs being outsourced to China?  I'm totally benefitting from the process.  In fact, they are doing it because of consumers exactly like me.

Oh ho ho, and if you think I'm on a soapbox now, wait until you watch the third part where they talk about the auto industry ;)


Spring Break

Spring Break
a break from the norm,
slow down
enjoy that warm sunshine.
Spring cleaning
dust the corners,
move the couch,
air blankets in the sunshine
Spring forward
a little more time
a few less worries
flowers and fruit
blooming in the sunshine.


Crochet Cap for Father & Son

I finished the complementing MC hat.  I used the same pattern from Get Your Crochet On! with a #7 hook and grey acrylic yarn (I would guess its Red Heart worsted). 

I have two concerns (about the grey/child's cap), which I might tinker around with later. 
1) Out of laziness/fear of the hat being too small anyway, I didn't add the round elastic.  Mistake.  As the hat is worn, it stretches out and now I'm more concerned with it being too big.  I'm not about to rip the whole thing out, so I might just weave some elastic through the last row of crochet and hide it best I can.
2) the brim seems too big and is puckering strangely.  I used the same size hook with double strands of yarn.  Depending on how my day goes, I might rip the brim out and fiddle around with single thickness yarn and/or a different size hook.  It would be nice for the brim to hold its general shape without too much fussing.


Kona Brewfest 10K Run for Hops 2012

This morning we awoke to darkness, packed our drowsy children into the car, and went cruising down to Kona for the annual Brewfest Run for Hops! 

"Team Kadriane"

Last year we ran as a family, but this year Mr A is on the injury list.  So my marathon-buddy Adriane ran with me instead.  What an awesome race!

Ready, set, go!

Adriane is the ultimate running partner.  Her pace is just fast enough to be motivating and she has a dogged determination that is beyond my comprehension.  She's cool with long stretches of silence and doesn't try to jog and drink water at the same time (ie. she actually stops at aid stations).

Chillin' with daddy during the race: eatin' a sandwich, wavin' the shaka.

I've never run a 10K before.  Ever.  Not even for fun.  When we passed the halfway mark, I could see the 5K-ers heading toward the finish line and I thought oh jeez...we've got such a long way to go. 
That's when my friend looked at me with a huge smile and said "Just look at how many people are walking already!  Dude!  We are rocking this!"  Just like that, my cup was filled. 
The last 200 yards I kept saying to myself "theres a keg at the end...run to the keg...mmm cold beer..."

Ikaika cheered me on down the chute then came running in for a hug.

So we finished.  We didn't finish at the top, but 10K is for serious athlete runners ;P

My time was 1:03:50 (woohoo!)

Overall: 121 of 166
Females: 53 of 80
Division (20-29): 15 of 22 
Pace: 10:17/mile

And at the end of the race I was spent, but I was wasn't dead.  I still need to put some road under my feet in order to be ready for the marathon in June, but after today it seems within my reach.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap.  


$150,000 a Year?! You Can't Be Serious.

MSN highlighted a report today that said Americans (surveyed) believe the actual cost of living today - defined as having enough for the basics, some extras, and a little to stash away - is $150,000 a year.   

more than half of Americans -- 52% -- feel like they can afford just the basics, and many with six-figure incomes still feel like they are scraping by. The survey found that 18% of U.S. households earning from $100,000 to $150,000 said they could afford only the basics, with an additional 10% saying they sometimes can't afford even those staples.
I laugh out loud.

Hawaii is on their list of most expensive places and they inflated the relative cost of living to over 250K!  Ridiculous!  A quarter of that amount could afford you a very decent lifestyle here.  Sure, your kids might not go to Punahou and you might not have the beach in your backyard; but it would put a roof over your head, food on the table, and some Benjamins in the bank. 

How spoiled are we that we now have come to expect over $150,000 just to cover our idea of a "necessity"? 

I don't care if you live in Shangri-la, if you make a six-figure income and you "can't afford the basics" - its time to think about downsizing/redefining the word "need".  Seriously?! 

Here is some of the best financial advice ever given to me:
if you aren't content with what you have, then no amount is ever going to be high enough.

*eye roll - followed by slow head shake*


Kony 2012

Oh, media...our relationship has gotten so complicated.

Please watch this video, take some action, and pass it along.


The MC cap

I made this crochet cap for Mr A using a pattern called "The MC" in the book Get Your Crochet On!  I love the results!

The entire hat is worked in single crochet.  Small, tight stitches = super, ultra warm = something my husband's bald scalp can appreciate.  Hats with brims/bills are so popular now, its almost ridiculous how easy they are to make. 

does it look like rain?  at least my head will be warm & dry!
I wore something similar when I coached lacrosse on cold, drizzly Oregon afternoons so I knew Mr A would appreciate the tight weave and shade for his eyes on his daily bike ride to work.  It probably goes without saying that I used up yet another skein of yarn that's been in my possession for over two years.

I/9 hook and Red Heart worsted acrylic (classic)

One unique feature of this hat (and the other hats from this amazing book) is the use of round elastic woven into the last row.  It helps the hats stay snug and keep their shape after repeated use.  So far, I'm a fan. 

Next up: making a matching one in grey with a red stripe for Ikaika :)


Book Update (psst...theres not much to say)

this pretty much sums it up

I used to tell myself that I would write a book..."if I only had the time."

Turns out, time wasn't the problem.  I set out to spend about 30 minutes a day with my book.  Either writing or brainstorming or what-not.  As long as I was squeezing in the QT, knowing there would be good and bad days both, I figured I would jam out a draft before the end of the year.

Then, 60,000 words later, it hit me.  The problem isn't time.  It's plot.  My book is going nowhere.  The writing is there (even my little sister said its "good", which coming from her might as well have been a Pulitzer).  The time is there.  The desire is there. 

The plot, however, didn't show up for the party.  Maybe I forgot to send an invitation?  I can't summarize my book ("what's your book about?" me: "oh, you know, this and that...") and so far as I can tell, its going nowhere.

I should have set out to write a short story.  A collection of short stories even.  Every time I try to squeeze all these individual pieces into a cohesive storyline, it just falls apart.  Then it occurred to me...

I'm going to have to start over.

And that, my dear friends, is where I'm at.  I've been struck by the paralysis of knowing that I need to frog the whole book and start over.  But, if I don't move on, I will never write a book.

There's a fine line between giving up on a book once it gets tough and recognizing when its time to throw in the towel and go with another idea.  I just hope I'm making the right decision.