Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Small Change: Cleaning and Temperature

One Small Change

For November, I decided to try some home-made oven cleaner for my One Small Change.

I am embarrassed to say, I have not cleaned my oven yet.  I even made it more dirty while preparing our Thanksgiving dinner.  So the home made oven cleaner will stay on my plan for December.

For December though, I am pleased to say that I got a head start on our planed One Small Change... a lower thermostat than last winter.

Over the years we have learned that choosing a temperature and leaving it alone helps with the overall comfort of our home as well as reduces the energy used and therefore the cost of heating the house over winter.

We had settled on about 70 degrees F as the preferred temperature, but last year was our first winter in our new place and the energy bills were shocking.  There are several reasons:
  • Most of the heat is baseboard (aka water heated by gas), however the basement and Man Room are heated electrically.  I don't know why, this is just how it is.
  • It is colder in Colorado than New Mexico.
  • Our house is somewhat drafty.
  • Last year was a harsh winter.
  • The temperature on the hot water heater was set to scalding.
  • Our new place is much larger than our old place.
We realized half way thru the winter that the basement and man room were heated electrically and these were switched on.  We promptly ensured all were switched off, closed the doors to rooms we were not using and doubled checked the off-ness often.  This helped with the energy costs as winter turned into spring, but the shock of those first bills left quite an impression on me.

We turned the temperature down on the hot water heater to something less than scalding and I have the thermostats set between 60 and 65 degrees F.

I haven't been able to figure out what area one thermostat controls so that one has been left off.  I assume as as we get into the heart of winter, the area will reveal itself.

With these changes and the fact that this has been a more mild winter so far, our energy bill is about half of what it was for this time last year.

My intention is to leave the thermostats at 60-65 degrees the entire winter.  December and January will be the test... can I leave it there?

If you're interested in seeing what others are doing to improve their affect or would like to participate, please head over to the One Small Change Blog, new folks are always welcome.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The more unconventional your ideas and decisions, the less people will support it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Plumber Sweater, part 4

When last we checked in on the Plumber Sweater, the second sleeve was in progress.

This time, both sleeves are complete and the same length.  Yay!

I am preparing to join them to the body of the sweater.

This is my first time down the sweater-to-sleeve joining road, and we know that sometimes I don't read instructions very well.  So, I plan to take my time and make sure I really understand what I'm supposed to do next.  Perhaps I should add life-lines now...

Also, I'm a little nervous because I saw that short rows are coming up and I haven't done those before either.  Yep, I will definitely go add those life-lines now.

It's a good thing that I have a football game coming up this afternoon.  I can usually make a lot of progress during a football game.  By the way, I hope CU does well against Nebraska.  It's been a tough year, so one can always hope. ;-)

If you're state-side, I hope your Thanksgiving weekend is wonderful.  If you're elsewhere, I hope your weekend is wonderful too.

Be sure to increase the probability of wonderfulness by heading over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder because it is Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving here in the US.

Since Thanksgiving is about the bounty of the harvest, yummy food and spending time with the people we care about, it is my favorite time of the year.

This year, we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  It doesn't happen very often, so I'm excited for everyone to come over.

There will be plenty of snacking, cooking, feasting, socializing, playing games, knitting and crocheting, watching the Macy's parade, National Dog Show and the CU-Nebraska Football game and playing with alpacas and dogs, but mostly we'll be cuddling the new nephew who arrived last week.

Happy Thanksgiving.  May you enjoy the bounty of the season.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


For as long as I can remember, I have been called responsible.

I used to hate it every time report cards would come out... "she is very responsible."

It was on every report card.

Just once, I wanted a teacher to write that I was creative or intelligent or entertaining.

But no, I was always responsible.  Which to me, meant dependable, predictable and boring.

Maybe it had something to do with being the oldest child.

Maybe because I was (and still am) quite shy and uncomfortable in large groups so I didn't act out.

I'm sure I was a teacher's dream student.  I made good grades and didn't require much attention.  I was quiet and well behaved.  I'm sure they meant responsible to be a compliment, but I hated it.

Over the years I have come to terms with the label.

Being considered responsible is a good thing.

It is a part of who I am, but it is not all of who I am.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Recycled Wool Project

Earlier this year, I embarked upon a Sweater Recycling Project.

I finished disassembling it months ago and ended up with a lot of short pieces of yarn.  I'm certain if I had taken more care in separating the panels of the sweater, I would have more longer pieces to work with.  But this was my first time, so live and learn.  Right?

The disassembling portion of this project took a lot longer than I expected, so I bagged up the yarn and put it in my stash until I felt ready to come back to it.

Finally in early October, I didn't have too many projects in work, so I decided it might be time to go back to my recycled wool project.

Initially, I was planning to make socks.  But since there are so many short pieces of yarn, I think I would have lots of knots in my socks.  Knotty socks would be uncomfortable and the wool is really too scratchy to have right next to the skin.  So instead, I have decided on this nightcap which I have wanted to make for a while.

Since the pattern has a lot of detail, I decided to knit it exactly as written.  I didn't want to take a chance of messing it up by making a different size.  However, since I do not own any US#0 needles, I knit a gauge swatch with US#2 needles.

Fortunately the gauge came out about right.

Initially I was challenged by the yarn over (YO). Making it is fine, but knitting the YO stitch on the next row was an issue.  I dropped several stitches.  Which means I started over a several times since I don't know how to make those corrections.

Finally, after a few tries and a few rows I got the hang of knitting the YOs and could read the stitches pretty well.

Anyway, I've been working on this nightcap when I want a break from the plumber sweater.  So there isn't much progress to show, but here you go...

Please be sure to head over to Wisdom Begins with Wonder because it's Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Plumber Sweater, part 3

I'm actually making some visible progress on my Plumber Sweater, finally.  :-)

I finished the first sleeve last Sunday in between watching New York City Marathon, listening to football coverage and helping Hubba finish packing for his trip to Oita, Japan.

Some of our friends were competing in the wheelchair division of the NYC marathon.  So while we were thrilled to be able to get live race coverage on Universal Sports, there was very little wheelchair race coverage.  Which means we were invoking, Twitter, Facebook, UniversalSports.com and INGNYCMarathon.org to get live race updates... but that's a different post for a different day.

Back to the sleeve... it's actually about an inch longer than it should be.
Yes, reading instructions foils me again... I did an extra increase section.  But rather than tinking back 10 rows, I dropped the increases and tinked back a few stitches to finished the last row correctly.  I'm assuming that slightly longer sleeves won't be that big of a deal.  So, sleeve number 1 is now safely on stitch holders and waiting patiently with the body of the sweater.
I quickly wound another ball of yarn and cast on the second sleeve using my newly found, super-short-9-inch circular needles.

The whole time I was thinking, wouldn't it be great to show two finished sleeves today?

.... and, well..... it's really too much to expect from me for a few evenings of work.  So I have about 20% of the second sleeve to share.  :-)

Please share my joy, by sharing your fiber projects over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.  Then be sure to see what everyone else is sharing because it's Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lucky 13

I got a reminder from Facebook that my wedding anniversary is coming up.

It made me laugh.

Certainly there are a lot of dates that I do not remember.  However, the anniversary of my marriage to my best friend is one that I do remember.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Books, Alpacas and Marathons

Hubba left for Japan this morning.

He is headed to Oita City for the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon.  It is the largest wheelchair-only marathon in the world.  This is his fourth time competing and the 30th anniversary of the race.

I have been to several races with Hubba and the Oita event is by far the most organized.  There are a huge number of volunteers that help to make the entire trip a wonderful experience.

The importance the Japanese culture places on being a good host comes through...

because of that, we feel it is important to show our gratitude.

We continually say thank you, try to experience the city as much as possible, tell them how much we love being there, and we bring a few gifts that are a small part of who we are or where we are from.

Since this is Hubba's fourth trip to this race, he's gotten to know many of the volunteers.  They know that we have moved to our own farm and raise alpacas.

So I felt it was important to find something that reflects alpacas and/or Colorado... enter Mary King.  She and her husband own and operate AlpacaKing in Fort Collins.

Mary wrote a book about one of her alpacas.  It's a fantastic and uplifting story about believing in something even in the darkest of times and seeing it through to a positive outcome.  The book is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes... in a good way.  :-)

Alpacas are relatively new to Japan and therefore quite popular... especially with their cute faces.  So one of Mary's good friends, who is from and lives in Japan, had her book translated and published in Japanese.

I thought this was the perfect gift for those volunteers who help so much during the race.  Since I am not making the trip this year, I told Hubba to tell them the book is from me to thank them for taking such good care of my beloved hubba.  ;-)

If you're interested in reading the story of Rocky, you can get the book from Mary directly or email her if you're interested in the Japanese version.

If you would like to watch the race and won't happen to be near Oita City on Sunday, there is a live broadcast, 10:45 am to 2:00 pm, Japan time on Sunday, November 14th... that's Saturday evening if you happen to be State-side.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Plumber Sweater, part 2

As I mentioned here, I have been working on my Plumber Sweater for a very long time.  Officially it's been more than one year now.

The body is complete.

The first sleeve is in progress.

This was my first time casting on using multiple double-pointed needles and then beginning to knit in the round.  However, as one of my friends pointed out, I was actually knitting triangularly.  ;-)

I went back and forth between long and short dpns as well as three or four dpns.  But I was always afraid the sleeve would slip off, so I spent a lot of time capping the ends as I went.  Which means the progress was s l o w.

I decided I needed to find a pair of very short #7 circular needles...

I went to three stores but finally found a pair that are only 11 inches long.  I made the switch and began knitting much faster.

I have about five inches to go on the first sleeve.  Then the second sleeve, chest and neck remain... that's it.  ;-)

It's Fiber Arts Friday, so head over to the Wonder Why Gal's blog and see what she and the other Fiber Folks have been up to.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We Took a Walk

Last weekend, we took a walk along the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins.

There is a great bridge and huge cottonwood trees.

The sky was interesting.

The light was great.

It was a good walk.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010