A Finished Sweater

Finally.  A finished sweater for Corrine.  As soon as this Hanorah sweater pattern was posted on Sezza Knits I knew I had to knit it for Corrine.  With the bulky yarn, it will be perfect for spring and early fall cool weather wearing.  The pattern was super easy to follow.  And after the increases for the sleeves, it even allowed for mindless TV watching knitting.  

I made the 3T size figuring that she is soon to be in that size.  However, while knitting on the airplane coming home from Disneyland in January I knew I was coming close to the end of the body of  the sweater, but I didn't have a tape measure.  So it's a tad long on her right now.  Actually the whole thing is big on her.  But I'd rather she wear it for a long while rather than spend all that time knitting for her to wear it for a few short months because she outgrew it. 
 I had wanted really wanted the little white and yellow daisy buttons, but I could only find four of them.  As I was laying out the buttons to see which ones looked better I hit upon this pattern and and loved it.
It's long but not as long as it looks due to the camera angle
She was very excited that her sweater is finished, but she did remark "it's too big."  Which she says a lot anyway (unless I happen to say something is too small).

Charity of the Month

The last of the baby steps from the Dave Ramsey class we took is to build wealth and give.  We are far, far away from baby step seven.  But we learned to build donating into our monthly budget.  We don't have a lot at this point to donate, but I like that it is introduced early enough into the steps to make it a habit.  I decided that we would pick a charity a month to donate our money to.

The charity we donated to in January was Room to Read.  Room to Read believes in literacy and gender equality in education in Asia and Africa.  I was originally going to donate to the Central Asia Institute (Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson), but remembered reading something about the way their funds were being mismanaged.  After a bit of research I found this wonderful website Charity Navigator.  There was indeed an alert of the CAI charity and the Room to Read charity was a 4-star charity.  I believe strongly in teaching children to read and the impact of educating girls is huge so this was a no brainer.

Our February donation went to Corrine's school.  She goes to a non profit cooperative preschool.  All parents have to volunteer to be on a committee plus we have to aide in the classroom once a month.  Their big yearly fundraiser is coming up.  They use this money for scholarships and classroom equipment.

I've bookmarked a few charities so far on Charity Navigator.  I'm excited about the prospect of being able to donate even a little bit of money once a month to the charity of our choice.  I think we will incorporate the choice into a monthly budget meeting and even use it as an opportunity to teach Corrine about giving.

A Craft Swap- part two

I was stressing about what to create for the craft swap hosted by Amanda when early last week inspiration ran me over like a truck.  Valentines Day was on Friday.  Why not create a box of goodies in honor of the heart holiday?  I knew for sure I was going to make these cute Pottery Barn inspired heart tea towels created by insanely talented sister-in-law.  I bought the towels from Ikea and then bought some red fabric and the iron on adhesive.  Easy enough.  A few of the first hearts gone thrown away, but once I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing!  
What else goes with Valentines Day?  I thought about making some sort of chocolate or caramel something but in the end decided on homemade marshmallows.  I had made some peppermint marshmallows at Christmas with a recipe from  King Arthur but it was made with corn syrup.  (I have nothing against corn syrup for baking because I control how much goes in).  They were very good marshmallows, buy they were very sticky and tool a while to set up.   I found this recipe for corn syrup free marshmallows and thought I would give it a go.  Corrine and I made them and they were set and ready to cut about five hours later.  We were only marginally sticky.  

 I put them in the mail on Wednesday with the hopes they arrived in time for Valentines Day.

Yarn Along

It's Wednesday again and that means it is time for the weekly yarn along.  I'm joining with Ginny and everyone to share our yarn projects and the books we have been reading.  Still not done with the sweater for Corrine.  Although I only have five rows on the collar to knit then I can block it.  I perused Etsy for some cute girly buttons, but was very quickly overwhelmed.  I went down to the yarn shop that is super close to my house because they have the best selection of buttons.  Too bad they have a horrible reputation among yarn enthusiasts in Denver.  

A couple of moms in Corrine's preschool are knitters and we have been getting together for crafting on Tuesday.  It works out well because the kiddos are all the same age and with the exception of two littles, they are in the same class.  My plan is to continue to work on the Dr. Who scarf at our "Crafting with Kids" days.  It is mindless garter stitch with a gazillion color changes.  I had the first section of purple done when I decided I didn't like the gauge of it so started over on bigger  needles.  I'm much happier with it now.  I think it is going to take me forever to knit a 12 foot scarf!
A friend loaned me Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall.  It's the true story of Hall's being left for dead near the summit of Everest in 2006.  His teammates thought he was dead and left him.  He spent a night in the elements and "came to" the next day.  I'm not very far into the book.  His expedition has just reached base camp on the Tibetan side of Everest.  While I love to hike and have summitted many of the non technical 14er's (a 14,000 foot peak in Colorado), I am definitely an armchair enthusiast of the very technical and dangerous Mt. Everest summit attempts.  I'll adventure vicariously through others.

Happy Yarn Along Wednesday!

In Debt

I have been meaning to write about this for a couple of months now.  Debt, it seems is the American way.  I am 45 years old and still live paycheck to paycheck.  I signed Bryan and myself up for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University last fall.  Too say he was not happy would be an understatement.  A co-worker had gone through these classes and she and her husband are debt free except for their house and that will be paid off in less than five years.  My friend and I had many discussions about being in debt and I had always just gone with the flow and figured everyone was in debt so it was okay.

The straw that broke the camels back came in July 2013.  It was the day before the closing on our rental house.  The title company called and told us we had to bring $5600 to closing.   Who had that kind of money just laying around?  Not us.  Luckily the buyers had a paperwork issue and the closing was pushed back a couple of days.  We scraped together the money, mostly with a loan from my 401K (which later I found out Dave said do no do!).  At that moment I decided we needed some serious help.
Financial Peace University is a nine week series of classes.  They feature a DVD of Dave speaking about that weeks topic which he calls the Seven Baby Steps (some weeks are two parts).  The seven baby steps are:

  1. Your $1000 emergency fund 
  2. Your debt snowball.  Pay off the smallest debt first and then when that is paid off put that payment with the next smallest debt and so on until it's all paid off.
  3. Finish funding an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses.
  4. Maximize retirement funding.
  5. Save for college.
  6. Pay off the home mortgage.
  7. Build Wealth and give 10% of your income to charity.  
Like I said earlier, Bryan was not happy about attending the classes at first.  He is more on board with the program now, but I think he is still dragging his feet.  We have yet to sit down and make a budget.  I do a partial one for my paychecks, but we haven't combined anything yet.  Part of that is because we have really worked a lot of opposite schedules for the past couple of months since our babysitter quit and we don't want to rely to heavily on my parents. I hope we get to it soon.  I would really like to have a grasp of this soon.

I debated for a while on whether or not to write about this.   Although I finally decided a while ago, it has taken me a couple of months to actually sit down to write this post.  I figured that while sharing publicly about our debt struggles might be humiliating, it will also be energizing and we will be held accountable for updates to said struggles.

Yarn Along

It's Wednesday again and that means it is time for the weekly yarn along.  I'm joining with Ginny and everyone to share books and yarn.  I've been working steadily on Corrine's Hanorah.  I have one sleeve and the collar to finish.  Then I can find some cute buttons to make the coat girly and it's finished.  To say she is excited would be an understatement.  It will be on the big side, but since (hopefully) spring is right around the corner, she will wear it all next winter.  
I finished the Monument Men on Saturday and have yet to pick up a new book.  I thought I would start a new book on Sunday at work, but ended up calling in sick.   Flying and sinus infections do NOT mix well.  I've laid around but reading has not been part of the equation.  

Happy Yarn Along Wednesday.  

A Craft Swap- Part 1

This past week I received an email from Amanda with the name of my craft swap person.  What?  I had completely forgotten that I signed up for a fun February crafting swap.  I immediately felt a little bit stressed out.  As I read the comments on her post about assigning names I felt like everyone already had an idea of what they were going to craft for their person.  Oh.  No.  I had no clue what to create.  I don't knit fast enough to make a nice knitted something.  I've got a better idea now, but now the little niggling doubt is there.  What if my person doesn't like what I've stressed about making?  What if what I make is a epic failure?  Oh, the pressure.  
Just a little glimpse of what I'm using to create my craftiness.  If I follow the directions step by step, it should turn out A-O.K.  More on that later!  

Random Thoughts on Thursday

* Holy Cow!  Winter has returned to Denver!  It snowed several times last week and it never got warm enough to melt.  Then it snowed all day on Tuesday.  On Wednesday the high was 3 degrees.  We have hunkered down in the house, even the dogs.  The ladies haven't come out of their coop either.  Not that I blame them.   When we shovel the snow off the patios we pile it on the north side of our garage patio.  We call it Henley's ice berg.  Since it doesn't get that much sun, it is one of the last piles to melt.  When it warms up enough he will lay on it until there is nothing left.  
*  On Tuesday while we were hanging out in the house I made yogurt.  This time I skipped the yogurt maker and followed this easy greek yogurt recipe from my sister in law's blog.  It was so easy!  I let it strain overnight in the refrigerator because I thought it was too runny when I went to bed.  Let me tell you, it's fabulous.  I'll be making this one again for sure (and soon since we eat so much yogurt).

* I went to the gym Wednesday afternoon and it was pretty crowded.   We were there as soon as the afternoon day care shift opened but since it's freezing outside, there were more people there than usual. I opened about four lockers before I found an empty one to put my boots and coat into.  It amazes me how many women will put their stuff in a locker and not lock it.  I'm not that trusting.  It crossed my mind for about 2 seconds to move someone's stuff just to see how much they would freak out.  Of course I would never do it.  I'm a huge believer in Karma and that would come back on me in a big way.

Happy Thursday!  Stay warm out there.

Yarn Along

It's Wednesday again and that means it's time for the weekly yarn along.  I am joining with Ginny and everyone to share what we've been reading and working on yarn wise.  Corrine's preschool is doing their annual fundraiser in March.  Each family is responsible for selling raffle tickets and for finding to donations for a silent auction.  I decided to knit an Aviatrix.  I made a six month size for a little girl.  Given that I've made a gazillion of these hats by now, this one flew off the needles.  I started it last Thursday night and finished the flower while watching the superbowl.  It's hard to tell by the pictures, but the flower button in the flower is lime green.  I think it looks awesome.  
On the book front, I am about halfway through The Monuments Men.  It really is a fascinating book.  I never gave it a thought when I was in Europe touring many historical sights.  The movie is based on the book and comes out February 7th.  The Monuments Men were a group of men (and women) who were pretty much on the front lines trying to save the historical monuments and the priceless art from destruction by Allied forces.   They faced many difficulties to do a job they believed in, one simply being it was war.  While they were an official group it was hard for them to get the supplies they needed to do their job and they had to work with the  bureaucracy of the army.   If you like history and World War II history at that, absolutely pick up this book.  It's a whole different side to the war.

Happy Yarn Along Wednesday!


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