Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sheldon#1 D-O-N-E, Waiting To Meet 4yo Owner

Sheldon is sitting on Marie's pillow, waiting to surprise her when she wakes! Can't wait to see hear what she says tomorrow morning! I finished the shell yesterday and did the rest today. Now I better get started on Ian's turtle right away since he'll be super jealous and want Marie to share her new Sheldon with him.

Since I now have the experience of making one Sheldon, I'm looking forward to knowing what to do the 2nd time around. On Ravelry and at knit night, it was pointed out to not understuff Sheldon, especially at the neck which can get limp over time and wear. Agreed, however... I think I went TOO far in the opposite direction because my 1st Sheldon's body is quite plumply stuffed! I could barely fit him into his shell (a scary moment, I must say!), even though I'd only very lightly stuffed that piece. In fact, it was necessary to sew his limbs on with the shell on. That turned out to be helpful because I was able to place them correctly. His shell will not be removeable unless he drastically reduces in bulk after washing/drying. Luckily, I don't think this matters much because I don't plan on making any Sheldon costumes in the foreseeable future, as cute as they are. Sheldon was a fun knit, especially as he gradually "came to life" step by step!

So, on to Sheldon#2 for Ian and back to finishing up my Verde string bag. Once I finish Verde, I'm going to return to Wright, my drape neck summer top. There are also some socks to finish.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Aha -- THAT Explains It

When choosing the colors for Ian's Sheldon, which I'll make after finishing Marie's, I was drawn to choosing Green Apple and Sky Shine Sport. It felt like deja vu, and I wondered why... Now I know: there's a small turtle on the outside of my portable zip-up blanket in the same colors. Aha! Check it out:
summer stuffed toy yarn
colors of my next Sheldon
BTW, the two skeins of Stroll Multi in Confetti are for a Lola (Rav link) bunny. It's for Ian because he loves to cuddle with a particular little "My First Easter Bunny" from last year that has seen better days. I really hope he'll like his Sheldon turtle and Lola bunny. He already talks to Marie's limbless Sheldon that I'm currently working on, so there's a good chance he'll take to his upcoming stuffed animal cuddlies :-)

By now you've noticed that, yes, I've finally ordered new yarn! About time, huh? The last time I bought new yarn was in January (I got Imagination and Felici sock yarn). Before that, the last time I purchased yarn was in November 2008 for Ian's Thorpe hat and mittens. Luckily my August 2008 gift certificate and Knit Picks Swish Worsted yarn from a giveway contest allowed me to spread out the following sweater projects: CPH, Tangled Yoke Cardigan, Amused, and Tubey. Also, you could say that I've been industrious with leftovers and the free single skeins of yarn I got by attending Knitters Connection last June (I guess that's what the $10 membership paid for, other than early registration.). My stash has dwindled nicely over the last year.

On a completely different subject than knitting, I thought I'd add this YouTube video in memory of Michael Jackson. It brings back memories from childhood when EVERYONE was trying to moonwalk! Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Way To Go Nikki!!!!!

Congrats to Nikki!!!!!!!! One of her designs was accepted for publication in Interweave Knits. I'm telling you, my former Raleigh SnB has had some talented ladies. Saunielle, a former member who has been published in several publications, is now studying in NYC. Now Nikki in IK -- how exciting! I'm very happy for her :-)

In case you're wondering where my previous post went, I deleted it. It was funny for a moment, but then I got over it. Hopefully, the Verde bag bottom will flatten out into a PG shape ;-)

...Back to trying to get someone to answer the phone at Shag Hair Studio. I'm interested in getting a Curly Girl cut from them. Maybe I'll try to stop in tonight for a consultation at the very least since no one is answering the phones or returning my voicemail (it's a small salon).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekend Update

All that Babbel has helped me catch a few more things in Under the Tuscan Sun. This weekend I caught the movie on the WE Channel and noticed more of the building signs and non-subtitled dialogue. Example? Before Francesca (Diane Lane) walks into a building to sign for the house, the sign says "risparmio" which basically means savings. Many banks or financial institutions are generically called Cassa di Risparmio di (name of city). A few weeks ago, I did a vocab lesson on money and banking. Now I might just have to go back and watch The Godfather movies, especially Part II since there's a lot of non-subtitled Italian. Lately, I've tried to watch or listen to streamed music and TV programs broadcast from Italy.

The string bag, Verde, is coming along nicely. I've got about 2-3 inches to go before beginning the straps. Lately, I've been working more on that than Sheldon simply because I got tired of my kids pawing Sheldon, poor turtle. Out of sight, out of mind.

For Father's Day, we grilled hamburgers out back. Not the healthiest of meals, but we also had pasta salad, chips, and watermelon. After dinner, we roasted marshmellows on skewers to make smores from the dying heat of the grill. Before the sunset, I pumped up my jogging stroller tires, and we went for a short walk in the neighborhood. When we got back, I gave Ian his milk and Marie her hot chocolate after which they both took a bath.

Hair stuff? Though I've CO-washed occasionally since last Tuesday's olive oil DT (a complete and utter FAIL), I hadn't low-pooed. So, I broke out my Avalon Organics sulfate-free shampoo (Nourishing Lavender is the one I have) and went to town. Normally for styling, I use flax seed gel followed by HE Set Me Up Gel. But today, I skipped the FSG and only used some old LA Looks Sport Gel. It was super crunchy when it dried, but after SOTC it looked nice and felt light.

I keep hearing wonderful things about Loreal's CG conditioner for curly heads called Vive Pro Nutri Gloss Conditioner for "Medium to Long Hair That's Curly/Wavy." It's in a pink bottle with a blue band. The other versions (one for fine hair and one for smoothing) in that line are NOT CG, so beware. Many on naturallycurly.com swear by that stuff for their CO-rinse. Most people will CO-wash with something lighter like Suave Naturals conditioner and then do their CO-rinse and/or leave-in with the Vive Pro. It sounds like it works for a variety of curlies, but especially for people like me who have tons of hair. Supposedly, it feels like the cone-filled conditioners without actually containing any of them.

My...well, I should really say Marie's shasta daisies are still alive! They've completely adapted to the outdoors and are doing well. They sure don't grow fast, though, I must say. In other backyard news, we have some new residents in our birdhouse. At least we did for a short time. A pair of birds built a nest in the birdhouse, and I watch off and on one day as both birds guarded their abode. Unfortunately, I saw a black crow or blackbird checking out the birdhouse and haven't seen the cute pair of birds since. I'm guessing the thieving crow got the eggs. Mean crow!

ETA 6/27: Good news! I've seen the pair of birds guarding their birdhouse again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A string bag, CG stuff, and cherry pie

I finally decided to make a bag out of the 3 differently colored skeins of CotLin I've had since the yarn debuted. Initially, I thought I'd make some washcloths, but now I've CO a Popknits pattern called Verde. Mine won't be green, obviously, and I hope I have enough yarn to complete it. The straps have a stitch pattern similar to duffle bag straps, so that will take more yarn... No pic yet, sorry :-) Tonight or tomorrow, I also plan to re-start Sheldon. I was told at knit night that my Sheldon might be too loose to stuff. So, I'm going to switch from my US 3 dpns to US 2 circs and magic loop it this time. Sheldon is a lot smaller than I anticipated. It's possible I might be able to use the small amount of leftover Grass Shine I have to make the body.

CG Stuff
Lots more conditioner works for me! I'd been having to use a lot of gel and other products to maintain my mop top. After reading a few of the 3b and higher subforums on naturallycurly.com, I decided to try a lot more conditioner as my leave-in. Before, I was using a quarter size at most; now I'm using a small handful. What's amazing is that my hair absorbs it all. Since upping my leave-in amount, I've not had to use as much gel. In fact, today I didn't even have to add a 2nd round of gel after plopping. So, I only have flax seed gel in my hair right now: not as crunchy.

In other CG news, I've been clipping when air drying and using tons of lavendar water spray (Tiffany's version that includes conditioner) as a touch up or styling aid.

I've made pie a few times in my life, despite the fact that I love cake more. But, I've never made cherry pie before until a few days ago because I typically like pies of the pudding variety. We had some fresh cherries and didn't know what to do with them. So, I found a recipe on the Food Network site that uses fresh cherries and their own juice (with cornstarch and sugar) to make the filling. It turned out wonderful. However, I've discovered that I'm not enjoying super-sugary desserts these days. It's been a while since I've had a fruit-filled pie, and I could definitely tell. It was like drinking regular soda pop. While it tastes good, at the same time you are aware of how sugary it is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On A Much More Positive Note Than Yesterday...

Here are some things I've been up to: Sheldon, Wright, daisy seedlings, and flax seed gel.

For those who've knit Sheldon, you'll get a good laugh out of this... I kept thinking I was working on the tail while I was knitting the body today. The whole time I was thinking, "This is quite a big tail, my goodness!" It wasn't until I started doing the decreases and looked more closely at the pattern that I realized that I had been working on the body. Sheldon's a lot smaller than I was expecting! Anyway, I'm on the head now. After finishing this first Sheldon with scrap yarn and working out all kinks, glitches, etc., I'll be ordering some new Shine to make Sheldons for Marie and Ian.

Finally, I have a picture to show of one side of Wright. As I've said before, I'm using recycled Knit Picks Comfy in Lilac Mist. I got a lot done on this on the wedding roadtrip to North Carolina.

Several weeks ago, I bought a cucumber seedling starter kit. Um, well... I over watered the poor little seedlings and they died. Sooooo, I bought some more starter discs (3/$1 at Target, no less) and planted some Shasta Daisies. Just yesterday, I separated and replanted the seedlings in a spare flat. They've been doing well adapting to their new home and to the outdoors. Can't wait to see them bloom!

And finally, homemade flax seed gel. I love this stuff! This is my second batch, and I think I got it right this time. We'll see how well it works because I made it thinner this time. I was trying for more egg white and less brown snot texture. If you're not familiar with flax seed gel, it's really handy for people with curly hair. It's also dirt cheap if you consider how much can be made from the basic ingredients and that the flax seeds can be reused if frozen. The recipe amounts I used were 2 c. water with 3/8 c. flax seeds (halfway between the 1/4 c. and 1/2 c. that are typically recommended). After boiling to desired consistency and then straining, I added lavendar EO and a touch of honey. Many people also add natural preservatives at this point like magnesium sulfate or grape seed extract, and they commonly also add aloe. But I didn't have those things on hand and don't mind refrigerating my gel anyway. Many recipes say to boil the seeds 10 minutes. I found that for me, it only took 5-6 minutes to get the consistency I wanted. FYI, a 2-c. recipe makes about 1 cup of gel. Since I made it thinner this time, I had a much easier time straining it :-) Yay!

I like the unique texture of flax seed gel. It's similar to egg whites, but thicker. So it's super slippery and provides great hold and shine when it dries. I made my FSG super thick last time, and it took some getting used to when applying. The thicker it is, the more you have to emulsify it in your hands before using. Any "crunch" can be eliminated by scrunching your curls upside down when they're dry. BTW, many times I'll combine my FSG with my Herbal Essences Set Me Up Gel or LA Looks Sports Gel to get the best results. When I use the FSG alone, I seem to need more than regular gel to achieve long-lasting results. This time I added honey, though, so I might be able to get away with less.

Tomorrow night's our knit night potluck! We're celebrating one year together (It's seems longer!). Good food, good company, and good times ;-) Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm SO tired of cleaning up messes!

Danger: Be warned that I'm NOT in a very good mood right now. In fact, I'm livid and this post will be a rant. Why? I'm soooooooooooooooooo sick and tired of cleaning up other people's messes! Whose messes? Kid messes, that's what.

Today pushed me right over the edge. I'm sending my daughter to bed as soon as she eats her dinner. I've had quite enough of that child. She somehow managed to get a hold of some Nestle Quik and spilled it all over the living room while I was cooking dinner. It's on the floor, furniture, and books. Where was hubby? Outside fixing the garage door. It's a disaster that will take quite a while to clean up. Guess what, that's just the icing on the cake for a day filled with messes and spills. I had her help me clean up the previous messes, but this one is just too much. I'm SO MAD. See ya tomorrow, I'm done. Time to go put the little gremlin to bed.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hello Honey, I Think I Like You

Well, the honey definitely worked. I loved the honey and olive oil DT so much that I tried adding a pea-size amount of honey to my conditioner today. Bam! I got excellent curl definition AGAIN. I feel I should note the rest of today's routine in case it interests you:
1. Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavendar shampoo (sulfate-free, my first time using it)
2. Suave Naturals Ocean Breeze Conditioner + honey
3. cold rinse, lavendar water spray, and 1-2 Tbsp CO for leave-in
4. flax seed gel + HE Set Me Up gel
5. plopped 5-10 minutes
6. more FSG
7. air dried 1 hour and then diffused upside down to about 80% dry
8. 1 tsp Suave Naturals Coconut conditioner slightly diluted
9. a little hairspray (Suave)
Later, when my hair was 100% dry, I scrunched upside down to get rid of any bit of crunch and used a slight dusting of hairspray again. It wasn't until this last step was complete that I was convinced. The honey made ALL the difference in the world! Since having kids, I haven't had this nice of curl definition. So, now I plan on adding a pea-size amount to my conditioner every time I do my CO rinse. It doesn't look greasy or wet, which is what I try to avoid; it looks shiny and clean. Yay, a happy hair day :-)

Since this IS a knitting blog, I should probably mention some knitting-related stuff, too. I think I'm going to make some more Chinese Waves dishcloths with some leftover cotton yarn (Peaches & Cream, I think?). The reason: stress relief. Sometimes I just need something quick and relaxing to make. Since getting back from NC, I haven't gotten back into a regular knitting groove yet. No, I haven't lost my mojo or anything. It's just that I'm getting distracted by kid stuff, cleaning, and gardening. My mom and I just planted a flower garden and flower box for Marie and a box of herbs to sit on the deck railing (parsley, sage, rosemary, dill, basil, and oregano). At night, (besides Ravelry and blogging) I've been spending time re-learning more and more Italian vocab (on Babbel), re-reading my old college Italian review textbook, watching the new Tonight Show w/Conan O'Brien, and making and reading online about Curly Girl stuff. Hmm, I don't see exercise listed, do you?! Bad Jackie, bad. Just tonight I was saying to Jared what nice running weather it was.

Other Stuff
I've been watching So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD, Season 5) for my second summer. The most recent episode was fun to watch since they picked the Top 20 and had the semi-finalist guys and girls dancing to West Side Story. This show is my rebound from American Idol.

We went to the zoo yesterday (Friday) and were glad it was open until 6:00. The gibbons were particularly fun to watch because they were sitting under the cover of trees, scooping water into their mouths and onto their heads. I think I could see a tiny baby latched to its mother. For once, the flamingos weren't asleep. Marie still isn't interested in penguins or otters. The penguins I could maybe understand since they're usually not swimming. But the otters are, to me, so much fun! We completely skipped the east side of the zoo. So next time, we'll be starting there. One of these days, we'll aim to get there for the baby elephant viewing at lunchtime.

Ian has been talking on Marie's Cinderella cell phone lately. He absolutely loves that thing. The only thing he loves more is his bunny (and maybe his baby blankie that I made him). Marie knows how to open up Internet Explorer from the desktop and go to her favorites to start playing her favorite kid games. Recently, after getting out of the shower and checking up on her, I found her playing something on Noggin or Nick Jr. Then she proceeded to show me how she'd tried to play her Disney princess song CD, but a DVD player window had popped up instead of the Window Media Player that she was expecting. Wow, I guess she really pays attention to what Mom and Dad do on the computer because I never showed her how to do that stuff. Kids, heh.

Oh! I forgot to mention something that might not mean much to you, but it's exciting to me: I can finally roll my double rr's in Italian! The single r is simple to do (think "Dracula"), but I've never been able to do the rolled double r. Practicing over and over finally paid off. I still can't roll it for a long time or do it by itself. But, I'm definitely able to roll it long enough to be passable in conversation. Now, if I could just stop the lightheadedness (don't laugh!) and relax my jaw and tongue more, my rolled r's would sound effortless. Ha! That will take some more time and practice...
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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Fighting Fire With Fire (Because I'm Not Patient)

CG News
After returning from my wedding roadtrip to North Carolina on Monday, I decided to go back to doing the whole CG thing with my Suave Naturals Ocean Breeze Conditioner. Starting out the no-poo regimen requires patience and time, of which I have little when I see straggly, frizzy, oily, unevenly-curled, clumpy hair. I decided to fight fire with fire to see if that would bring back some curl definition: Last night I did a DT with honey and olive oil. (I did an olive oil treatment a few years ago when I tried going CG and remembered how much my hair liked it, as well as adding honey to various products.) I warmed 1/2 c. honey and added 2 Tbsp. olive oil per the directions on the livefreelivecurly site. Before doing the DT, I thought I should remove any existing gunk from my hair. I added 1 Tbsp. of baking soda to my conditioner and followed that with an ACV rinse. Next I poured the warm honey and oil over my head while bending over in the tub. After massaging it into my scalp and raking it through my hair, I wrapped my head with plastic wrap and let it sit 30 minutes. It was difficult to rinse out, so I CO-washed. BTW, I think a sulfate-free or loo-poo shampoo would've worked better in this case because I had a LOT of honey and oil in my hair! (Next time, I'm going to reduce the recipe amounts by half.) After rinsing in cold water, I added more CO as a leave-in. My flax seed gel wasn't on hand, so I used HESMU gel and squeezed excess water out while scrunching upside down. Then I put in one clip front and center at my hairline to create more lift, plopped for 10 minutes, and went to bed. I noticed that my curls were already showing more definition and were standing away from my scalp when I removed my towel before bedtime, so I was looking forward to seeing what my hair looked like in the morning.

The first picture is how I generally wear my hair. I smooth out the curl with a round brush around my face, diffuse the rest, and then hand style; or I pin the long bangs down and air dry followed by hand styling. The second picture is from this morning after waking up from doing the DT. (I know, I'm not a morning person and this picture clearly shows that. Just look at the hair please!) More definition and boingy curls -- goal achieved! It'll be interesting to see how long my hair stays moist from the DT. I'm glad to have alleviated a few days of frizz and sped up the process of my hair becoming more moist.

Knitting News
I finished one side of Wright and am on the second side now.

Next time I go grocery shopping, or maybe sooner, I'm going to buy Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo (although I hear the 50:50 works well, too). It contains zero sulfates. I'm also interested in Nature's Gate (Tea Tree Calming Conditioner, Hemp Nourishing Conditioner, and their Organics line of shampoos and conditioners) and J/A/S/O/N (Everyday Hair Care line and their All-Natural Specialty Hair Care line). I think these all cost around $7 or $8, so not too bad. Although, I'm more likely to buy just the sulfate-free shampoos and continue with the cheaper Suave Naturals and VO5 COs for CO-washing and CO-rinses. If I did splurge and buy one of the above-mentioned conditioners, I would use it sparingly since I tend to use a lot.