Friday, April 30, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Knitting Cables

For me, knitting cables is like riding a roller coaster.  It looks really scary and only the experienced amusement park goers do it.

Eventually though, the curiosity got to me and I had to try it.

Like the roller coaster, I couldn't wait to make another cable.

I couldn't get enough and took as many coaster rides as time would allow.

I finished six cables last night.  I hope it doesn't cause the same stomach issue that a multiple coaster ride day causes.

Enjoy more Fiber Arts Friday fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Nissan Leaf

Have you heard about the Nissan Leaf?

It a new, electric only car that is supposed to be affordable.

I saw one at the Denver Auto Show a few weeks ago and didn't think too much about it.  I noticed there was a new model, similar in style to other sub-compacts but didn't realize it was an all electric car until I read an article in Mother Earth News.

Then I heard a story about it on Minnesota Public Radio earlier this week.

In the early 1990's I worked for a lobbying organization.  I was privileged to prepare and present an opinion in Washington DC on the California Air Resources Board's goal that 10% of all new vehicles sold in California would be electric by 1998.

CARB's position was that electric vehicles would reduce average vehicle air emissions and therefore increase air quality in Los Angeles.  Having lived in LA since then, I would agree that anything that improves air quality should be considered.

The part that disappointed my idealistic mind was that much of Los Angeles' electricity was derived from a coal fired power plant near the Grand Canyon.  I did not find information about how the air quality in Arizona or the view across the Grand Canyon would be affected.  I did not find information about how batteries would be recycled or reused.  There was some information regarding how the infrastructure would need to change to support electric car charging.

Twenty years later, the conversation is different.  The conversation has expanded beyond the tail pipe.  Which I find remarkable.

The Nissan Leaf takes a full charge from a standard household outlet in eight hours or a "quick" charge to 80% in 30 minutes.  It is a lot longer than the few minutes it takes to fill up a tank of gas, but it has come along way.

The Leaf's is range is only 100 miles per full charge.  This car is not intended for travelling.  It is intended for running errands and going home every night.

Nissan is talking about offering the car for sale, but batteries for lease.  This is supposed to make the car more affordable and also ensure the batteries are properly recycled.

Certainly time will tell, but I am please to see how the conversation has changed.

As a side note, when parking for the Auto Show, I noticed spaces reserved for electric vehicles in the garage complete with outlets for charging.  I wish now, I had taken a photo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pack as Little as Possible

After I Tweeted that a TSA screener said I was a "Smart Traveller," I got a couple of inquiries as to what my secrets were.

As I have mentioned here and here, my incentive is to pass through the checkpoint as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Which means my mantra has been to "pack as little as possible."

Here are a few things I consider when packing for a business trip.

Fluids contain water and water is heavy - long before the ban and then limitations of fluids for carry-on luggage, I've been bringing smaller amounts in re-usable plastic bottles.  Today, most of my bottles are two-ounce oval bottles rather than the three ounces that are allowed.  The oval bottles pack together more tightly than round bottles, so there is less wasted space.  I've realized recently that in some cases I use less than half of the product I've been bringing, so I have moved some of the product to one-ounce bottles.

Shoes take up a lot of space - Shoes are bulky.  They take up a lot of space.  If you really need more than one pair, you can roll up underware and socks and stuff inside the shoe to save some space.  I plan my clothes so I can wear the shoes I will need for the entire week.  I do go back and forth regarding running shoes.  Now that the weather is nicer and I'm not bringing bulky sweaters, I may start bringing the running shoes again.

Ensure all of the clothes can be worn together - If I plan my clothes well, they will all match the shoes I wore on the plane and each other.  Then if there's a mishap with one outfit, I can mix things up and don't have to go shopping or pay emergency laundry fees.

No Laces - since most of us have to remove and replace our shoes when passing through the security checkpoint, I wear shoes than can be slipped on and off easily.  There is little more awkward than trying to remove cowboy boots or put on laced shoes in a moving line with few places to sit.

I'm not a Fashionista - I don't think I'm a dolt when it comes to fashion, but I'm certainly no fashionista.  My style is simple.  Black, white and taupe with very few other colors or patterns.  My hand bag is simple and durable.  My jewelry is simple and almost always the same.  My hair is worn down.  This works for me because it's easy and eliminates the need to pack additional accessories or worry about the safety of jewelry in my hotel room.

Electrons weigh less than paper - I keep as much of the information required to do my job as I can on my computer.  This is definitely a work in progress for me since I like to write things out by hand.  As a youngster I learned journaling as a way to organize my thoughts.  So for me there is something more direct and satisfying about using a pen and paper than a keyboard and computer screen.

Travelling Clothes - Along with my slip on shoes, I wear a pull-over sweater and comfortable but not loose pants. The TSA screeners will ask that cardigans, metal watches and belts be removed. I also make sure my pockets are emptied into my hand bag.

Leave some space - If you leave a little space in your bag, then it will be available when you find something you want or need to bring home with you.

Bring some fun - I do bring a magazine or book and knitting with me.  Magazines are heavy for their size and books are bulky, but they give me something to do during take off and landing and usually I learn something when reading them.  Knitting is my little bit of home.  I usually knit a little each night because when I feel the texture of the yarn between my fingers I feel more connected to my farm at home.

These are just a few that come to mind.  Do you have any tricks that work for you?  Please share them.  I'm always trying to pack more efficiently.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Things that Work: Neti Pot

I've been using a Neti Pot for years.

I'm not really sure how or when I first learned about Neti Pots.  I remember I thought about it for quite a while before I bought one.  Then it sat on my shelf for a very long time before I mustered the courage to give it a try. 

My allergies were especially bad that day and I needed some relief.  I figured running salt water through my sinuses could not make me feel any worse.

I read the instructions, prepared the water, lifted the spout to my nose, bent my head over the sink and poured.  Water went everywhere.  Most notably from my nose to my mouth.  I started coughing and I felt claustrophobic.

I stopped, cleaned up and re-read the instructions.  Finally, I took a deep breath and tried again.  This time?  Success!  I could feel the salt water in my sinus behind my eyes.  It was moving the gunk and relieving the pressure.

I now use the Neti Pot most days after completing farm chores.  I do still use allergy medicine occasionally, but the Neti Pot goes a long way toward keeping that hay fever at bay.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Earth Day Edition

This was my favorite sweater.  It had big holes in the sleeves.

I first noticed a little hole in the left elbow last fall.  I was disappointed, but love a well worn sweater.  So I kept wearing it.  In fact, I loved the sweater so much, that I wore it most of the winter. It was a comfy sweater for hanging out.  Perfect for lounging with a cup of tea after doing farm chores.

I thought about darning and patching but just didn't get to it.  So there I was with giant holes and a little idea...

Many of the yarnies I listen to recycle yarn.  They take the yarn from an old garment and give it new life.  So when I realized the holes had become too big to patch, I decided to disassemble my sweater and use the yarn to make socks.

My sweater was knit in sections and then sewn together.

I've only unravelled the cuffs so far.  I have three types of yarn as a result;

pieces that are long enough to wind into small balls,

teeny tiny pieces that could be stuffing, and

pieces that are somewhere in between.

I have a lot of unravelling left to do.  Then I need to find a set of sock needles and a pattern to try.  I would love recommendations for easy, first-timer sock patterns.

Remember to go find inspiration from the other Fiber Arts Friday Folks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Post

We are always trying to be more mindful about the choices we make. Which is one reason why I like the idea of One Small Change.  It's never too late to start making a difference, so why not do it a little bit at a time?

After I wrote this post, I realized it sounded like the reusable bags were the first and only thing we had done.  So I thought it might be good to share all that we are doing, attempting to do, struggling with and are definately not doing to reduce our impact on our environment.

  • We use a "green" dry cleaner and always return the hangers.
  • We buy milder and organic soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
  • We could make better choices with our household cleaning products.
  • We've been hand washing our dishes for almost a year.  I would like to say it was to lessen our impact, but it's because we haven't had a working dishwasher during that time.  In our previous home, we always used the air dry function on our dishwasher with the intent of conserving energy.  When we do purchase a new dishwasher for our new place, the air dry function will be very important to us.
  • I use small re-usable plastic bottles for all of my "fluids."
  • I leave a re-usable coffee mug and grocery bag at my client's office that I use when I'm there.
  • Carpooling - I take a shuttle to the airport and share rides at my client site when we have multiple people on a project.
  • Combine and order errands to minimize miles driven.
  • I do still buy plastic water bottles when I am travelling.  I think bringing a reusable bottle would be better, but the TSA checkpoint has been a mental block until a few days ago.
Re-cycling and Re-using:
  • We recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.
  • We reuse grocery bags and food storage containers.
  • We use the plastic shopping bags we do have to collect doggie poo.
  • I check consignment shops first when looking for new clothes.
  • We have reusable water bottles that we use around the house and when we're out for local errands or events.
  • We are migrating to non-plastic food storage and haven't purchased any new containers in over a year.
  • We piled our alpaca manure over the winter and have started using it in the flower beds on our property.
  • Wear clothes and use bath towels multiple times before washing.
  • Our trash bin is mostly empty each week, but our recycling bin is quite full sometimes.  Which makes me think we can make better choices about the packaging that comes with the products we purchase.
  • We buy local and organic as much as possible.
  • We buy in bulk as much as possible.
  • We buy from farmer's markets when they are open, May to October.
  • We are looking for other options for local, organic, food during the off-season, October to May.
In the House:
  • We turned the heat down and wore more sweaters and blankets in recent winters.
  • In Albuquerque, we installed ceiling fans so we did not need to use the swamp cooler during the summer.
  • We bought a low water washing machine when we moved into our new place.
Future Plans:
  • Planting an organic garden.
  • Purchasing a freezer, so we can buy local, organic meat in bulk as well as store the produce from our garden and local farmer's markets.
  • Harvesting rain water.
  • Installing solar and/or wind power.
  • Adding insulation and improving seals on our doors and windows.
  • Installing more ceiling fans.
  • Building a compost bin for food and yard waste.
  • We have a clothes line in the back yard, so I am thinking about line drying our clothes on warmer days.  This will be interesting since we live in a farming area and sometimes the aromas are quite earthy.
Here's a great list from my cousin who is especially awesome at living lightly.

  • compost
  • recycle (we throw away one small bag a week partly because we are vegeterian so we compost so much and also because we buy a lot of our grains, pasta, honey, herbs in bulk where we bring our own container)
  • Make at least one vegeterian meal per day.
  • Save AC condensation water, rain, and shower water to water plants. I grow my own organic veggies and herbs so I use a lot of water, all recycled.
  • Flourescent light bulbs
  • Unplug a lot of your appliances, electronics...never leave your computer on
  • Support local farmers
  • When purchasing anything, think of how it was made and which materials are more renewable
  • Make your own beans (bpa is in all the canned stuff) and freeze them
  • Pack your lunch in a cooler and use glass or steel containers.
  • Don't buy bottled water
  • My husband bikes to work/school and I have a small car.
  • Plant native plants that do not require as much water
  • Set your heat/AC on a timer so that it's not always working full blast especially when you are not there
  • Install low-flow shower heads and toilet thingies.
  • Why always flush? Whats the saying "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down."
  • Put a timer in your shower
  • Use curtains to filter light when its hot and to keep drafts out when its cold
  • Bring your own bags shopping everywhere, not just the grocery store.
  • Don't forget to turn off your lights
  • Don't use detergents and soaps with chemicals in them...they end up in our rivers. You can purchase chemical free ones from most stores, buy it in bulk at others, or make your own :)
  • AND educate others :)
  • etc....etc...etc...there is so much you can do, but nothing happens overnight, especially with a budget. We re-budgeted our funds and got rid of cable so that we could grow our food and the rest we buy from companies that don't have crap in it.
  • There are some great resources out there to make your house more energy efficient. You can contact your local gov't utilities department for an evaluation. We got the materials we needed for our shower head and for our rainbarrels for free from the city.
  • Check out your local extension office to learn about native plants and gardening. You don't have to live in a hole in the ground to make a difference. I feel like it's all about trying.  Every little thing counts, when you think about how many households there are. All these chemical free items will someday be a little cheaper if more people buy's already happening.
Finally, here are links to One Small Change, Hip Mountain Mama and No Impact Man for more ideas on how to lessen your impact on our environment.

Do you have anything to add?  What successes and failures have you had?  I would love to know what other people are doing.

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22nd.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The First Garden at our New Place

Spring has been moving in over the last several weeks.  The snow is gone.  It has rained a couple of times.  The fields are turning green.  The daffodiles and tulips are blooming and the trees are going to leaf.  So, I couldn't stand it any more and prepared a bed for planting.

I dug it up,

found a bunch of these wormy guys (yay) in the mostly clay soil (boo),

added three and a half wheelbarrows of alpaca manure,

and selected some herbs, chiles and tomatoes.

I planted on Sunday.

I love my new garden (and hope the rabbits hate it).

Monday, April 19, 2010

A (small) Study of Packaging

I'm interested in packaging.

I occasionally drop in on the Dieline to check out new designs.

Packaging tells the story of a product.  It plays a roll in the consumer's initial decision to purchase a product and is a big part of the initial experience with the product.  I am reminded of how I felt when I received and opened my iPhone last year.  The packaging was clean and simple.  It felt like it was on purpose.  I had a similar experience with MarieBelle Chocolates.

So what about after the purchase?  Does the packaging continue the story or does it change it?  Does it allow efficient and complete use of the product?  I decided to take a survey of some of the bottles that reside in my bathroom.

Giovanni Leave-In Hair Conditioner
The package is clean and simple.  I really like this product, but getting the last little bit out is impossible.  I don't know why the bottle stood upside down for this shot, because it won't stay that way in my bathroom.  This drives me crazy when I'm at the end.  You can see some product is left inside.  The top will not come off and the flat surface does not guide the product to the opening.

Aveeno Skin Lotion
This bottle has a sloping top that fits nicely into a funnel.  I use a funnel with a smaller travel bottle to capture the remaining product when I can no longer pump it out.  The problem with this design is that the pump stem does not reach the bottom.  I would say there is a good inch to inch-and-a-half left when the pump is no longer useful.  Which means I have several days to more than a week of a Jenga-like structure when I'm finishing off one of these bottles.

Dermalogica Moisturizer
I love love love Dermalogica products.  They moisurize, clean and condition without causing acne or irritation.  The moisurizer bottles look like a good design with the product flowing out of the bottom.  Initial use of the product is smooth and easy, but getting the remnants out is down-right frustrating.  Everytime I think the bottle is close to empty, I do a toothpaste squeeze and a whole lot of product comes out.  If they would put the moisturizers in the same type of bottle as their cleansers, I would be very happy.

Aveda Styling Lotion
I love Aveda products as well.  They are mild and work beautifully without any irritating fragrances.  This bottle has a nice slope at the top and a flip-top lid that stands easily on it's head.  I never have an issue getting the final product out of bottles like these.

The result of my small survey
I like all of these products, which means the packaging changes the story for me.  The bottles cause me to search out the competition.

I have found another leave-in conditioner that I like just as much as Giovanni.  The new conditioner has a bottle design similar to the Aveda product. So I am not likely to buy the Giovanni products anymore.  Of course, time will tell.  I found the Giovanni leave-in conditioner when Aveda discontinued theirs.

I am looking for face moisturizers that are unscented, non-irritating and have a more useful package design.  Dermalogica is a hard product to beat, but everytime I get to the bottom of those moisturizer bottles, I am compelled to try something else.  The fact that Dermalogica is not in-expensive means I am even more motivated to find a replacement product.

The Boston Marathon

This morning, the 114th Boston Marathon was run.

Ernst van Dyk won for the 9th time.  He surpased Jean Discoll's 8 for the most wins for anyone, ever.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm an Author

I just realized it.

As a kid, I wanted to be an author. I did not want to be a journalist, but I thought one day I would write a book. I had no idea what my subject matter would be and wasn't confident in my writing skills.

I took extra writing classes in high school. Mrs. Vlasin's Expository Writing class was my favorite. We were allowed to write about what we wanted to write about. No book reports. No history research papers. Just writing about the things we cared about. We learned how to critique other people's writing and therefore our own. The class was about style and technique, not dates and names. Talk about the freedom! This class was right up there with the math classes. I loved it.

Of course I went to college to become an engineer and forgot about the fabulous experiences in Mrs. Vlasin's class for quite a while. As I moved into Project Management and Business Process Development, I felt the lessons returning. I enjoyed writing and was often requested to edit the work of my colleagues.

Then it hit me this morning. I have a blog. I post to it on a regular basis. I write about things I care about. I'm an author.

I would still love to write a book. I've started a couple but have finished none, so far. The subject matter is still elusive, but I feel I'm getting close.

Mrs. Vlasin's used to say, "I'm not a good writer. I'm a good re-writer." By that she meant that editing is important for good writing. She would say to write what you're thinking, just dump it all out on paper. Then refine and rearrange, save some sections for other pieces and finally remove all of the "th" words you can.

I know being a high school teacher is a very hard job. Teachers do not really know if they've ultimately made a difference or not. So I want to thank my public high school writing teacher for inspiring me and for making a difference in my life.

Mrs. Vlasin, I am an author because of you. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Miss Kitty has gone Missing

Our Bad-A$$ Kitty-Cat went missing last week.

We have many predators that would enjoy a kitty-cat dinner such as fox, coyote and bald eagle.  So Hubba was very concerned that something got her.  He told me the birds were acting differently that morning and that he just felt something was not right.  I told him she was probably hunting and would be back later, knowing that Hubba's gut is usually correct.

The last time she went missing, hubba found her under our neighbor's air conditioner.  She had a bulging and infected eye that was most likely from a skirmish with a road runner.  We took her to the kitty-cat emergency where the vet told us the infection was only in the eye.  So we opted to have it removed, which didn't slow her down for long.

The mono-optical kitty continued to be an effective mouser and finally caught the humming bird she had been coveting for years.

Since we moved to Colorado, she had been sticking close to the house.  But the nicer weather and rabbits, squirrels, birds and mice for hunting had been grabbing her curiosity.

Hubba, the Alpaca Dog and I have been searching for her in bushes, under porches and basically in all of the hiding places we can find.

There is no evidence of her.

We're really sad that she's gone.  It's amazing that such a small kitty was such a big part of these dog people's lives.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Baby Hats Part 3

Ta-da!! My second baby for adult hat!

As I mentioned last week, I did the eyelet detail knit-wise instead of purl-wise.

One thing I like about knitting, is that it's ok to do it incorrectly.  If the incorrectness is consistent throughout, then it looks like it was on purpose. :-)

I did do the swatch math correctly so the hat fits perfectly. :-D

Please enjoy the rest of Fiber Arts Friday over as Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Intelligence vs. Conditioning

The TSA Screener said that I'm a "smart traveller" today.  I told him that I just do it all of the time.  Which got me thinking.  Is it really intelligence, or just conditioning?

I certainly like to think I'm a smart person, but some may think I'm just a smart-a$$.  So I have to think when it comes to navigating the airport security checkpoint, conditioning is more relevant than intelligence.

Honestly, once you get past understanding what can and cannot be brought on to an aircraft, it's really just behavior modification due to simple rewards and penalties.  You know, the whole Pavlov's dog thing.

I travel a lot, so my incentive is to pass through security as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Recently the screeners have been pulling my quart-sized bag of fluids out of the bin and asking me about it.  I tell them that it IS quart-sized and then they tell me they'll let it pass.  Since the bag is oriented horizonally and came with my luggage, rather than a food-storage zipper bag that is oriented vertically it did not meet their expectations of what a quart-sized zipper bag looks like.

I realize a picture to show these two bags together would be beneficial here, but you'll just have to trust me and let it pass.

I'm not sure why this has been a recent occurance.  I've been using the same zipper bag for more than two years with out any issue or questions.  So this morning, right before I left for the airport, I decided to move my fluids to a quart-sized food storage zipper bag.  Then ta-da.... suddenly I'm a smart traveller.

Friday, April 9, 2010

National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

My husband's buddy, Pete Hughes, coaches the University of Arizona's Women's Wheelchair Basketball team.  They were in the national tournament this weekend in Denver.

The National Wheelchair Basketball Association's championship game between the University of Illinois and University of Alabama is scheduled for Saturday at 11:30 am MDT.  It will be broadcast online here.

Earlier today, we went to Denver to see the Arizona Wildcats compete against the Wisconsin-Whitewater WarHawks in the 5th place game.  The WarHawks lead most of the game, but the Wildcats pulled it out in the end.  It was a very exciting game to watch.

Fiber Arts Friday - Baby Hats Part 2

I finished my first baby for adult hat this week.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

My next baby for adult hat is from the Algerian Action Blog.  I decided to make it out of a shiney black merino single and finish it off with a white satin ribbon.

The pattern calls for the hat to be made flat then sewn together.  I decided to knit it in the round, which means fewer purl only rows.  Which really means it's easier for me.  I'm not sure why, but those purl only rows are harder than the knit only rows.

The pattern is also written for a baby-sized head, smaller yarn and needles.  Therefore, I actually made a swatch.  I cast on 20 stitches and knit four rows.  The resulting swatch was five inches that stretched to six.

The hat band is in stockinette stitch, so I used 20 stitches per 5 inches to determine that 92 stitches should be cast on for a 23 inch circumference.  Comparing that to the pattern, I decided to cast on 93 stitches.  I'm anxious to find out how well I did on the sizing.

The only trouble I've had so far is that the eyelet detail became a purl row.  I'm certain I was not doing the "insert the needle into the diagonal" correctly, but I decided to make these knit rows since it was easier.

I'm about half-way complete.

Get more Fiber Arts Fun with the Wonder Why Gal.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What does your Customer Care About?

With airfares going up, most airlines charging for checked luggage and now one charging for carry-on bags, I wonder if the airlines have forgotten who their customers are and what they care about.

Now I'm just one person who uses airline services regularly, but my husband and I fit three types of customers.

1.  Business Traveller - frequent flyer, frequent customer program member, travels two or more round trips per month.
2.  Business Traveller - travels eight to ten round trips per year
3.  Vacation Traveller - one to two round trips per year

As a type 1 Business Traveller, I want inexpensive, safe, friendly, easy conveyance between my home and client office.  When I visit my client's office, I am there for at least four days.  I bring clothing and hygeine supplies for the duration of the trip as well as the information and tools required to support the work I have been hired to perform.  I do not check my bags because it adds 15-20 minutes to the begining of my trip and 30-45 minutes on the end.  Multiply this by two for each round trip and it's a huge time suck.  Because of that, I carry as little as possible and carry everything on board.

As a type 2 Business Traveller, my husband wants inexpensive, safe, friendly, easy conveyance between our home and the races he competes in.  A domestic race usually requires a three day visit, clothing and hygeine supplies, a racing wheelchair, an everyday wheelchair and supplies for wheelchair maintenance.  He checks his bag and racing chair so he can carry on his wheels.  This means the same 15-20 and 30-45 minutes of wait time at either end of the trip as well as an additional 20 minutes waiting for the chair to be brought to baggage claim.  Our prefered airline used to gate-check the racing chair, but this has become a huge hassle.

As Vacation Travellers, we want inexpensive, safe, friendly, easy conveyance between our home and our vacation destination.  Again clothing and hygeine supplies for the duration of our trip, an everyday wheelchair and supplies for wheelchair maintenance are necessary.  Checking bags is no big deal because we want to relax and time spent waiting at the airport is less of an issue.

In the rare event that I have a business meeting where I can complete my round trip in the same day, I still have a computer with me.

In all cases, we bring something on board to read, work on or listen to.

In fact, I have been trying to think of a situation where someone would take a trip that requires the service of an airline and not have the need for luggage. I haven't come up with any.  Perhaps you have an example?

Airline travel used to be special.  It used to be about customer service.  It used to be fun.  Which makes me wonder... When did the airlines decide they are not enablers of other buisness or activities?

Conveying luggage is part of conveying people.  You don't get one without the other.  It's like ordering pasta for dinner then having to pay extra for marinara sauce.

It's every company's responsibility to decide who their customer is and figure out how best to give them what they want and need.  I think most airlines are failing in this regard.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Tree

We have several trees in front of our house, but this tree is very interesting to me.  I don't know what kind it is. 

The buds remind me of fuzzy caterpillars.  The leaves are similar to an aspen and the bark is a very pretty white.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Garden

This will be my vegetable garden.

There is a lot of scrap and fire wood that the previous owner left behind as well as the apple tree that broke our sewer and a few Pinon branches that fell during a snow storm.

With the weather turning nicer, I've started cutting and sorting the wood.  Once that's done, I will dig out the grass and turn in some alpaca manure.

My goal is to have all of this complete in time to plant on Mother's Day weekend.  Mother's Day is the traditional last freeze in our area.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Baby Hats

I love knitting hats.
  • They're relatively quick to make.  It takes me about a week to knit a simple pattern, if I'm able to work on it every night.
  • They're very portable.  Since I travel a lot for my day job, this is a major plus.
  • There are so many patterns to choose from.  Just do a google search for knit hats and see what I mean.
I've recently discovered that baby hats are interesting.  So I am modifying a couple baby of patterns for larger, adult heads.  My theory is that a more "sophisticated" yarn coupled with an interesting pattern should result in a cool hat that someone I know would like to wear.

I'm working on Anna's Flat-Toppped Hat by Knit with KT now.

I'm using an Organic Merino DK Single with #7 needles.  I cast on 84 stitches.

Check out what's going on with the other Fiber Arts Friday participants at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Small Change

I've come late to this party, but believe it's never too late to get started on making positive changes.  Which is why I love this idea of One Small Change.

Andy and Suzy of Hip Mountain Mama challenge us to make one small change each month with the goal of reducing our impact on our earth.

The One Small Change blog provides a place to document your plan for the month and to share your progress.  It's interesting to read what's there.  It's such a great way to share ideas.

One thing we have been doing lately is bringing re-usable bags to the grocery store.  It took a while to remember to bring them, but I feel we're doing pretty well now.  I think the next step is to take them to all of the stores we go to, not just the food store.