Thursday, March 24, 2011

These are the cutest little Easter critters I've seen in a long time! They take about an hour to make and if you have some DK in your stash the only cost is the chocolate egg. There is plenty of time to make all four before Easter, so get hopping!
Pattern: Jean Greenhowe's Easter Egg Treats
Yarn: Easter colored DK
Needles: Size 6, size 2

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Math through knitting class.

The school district I work for is the 20th largest district in the state. There are approximately 1200 students K -8. We are in three separate buildings and the primary, intermediate and middle school teachers seldom see each other. For the last four Tuesdays a delightful assortment of eight teachers have been meeting in my room for a math/knitting class. My student/teachers have been so enthusiastic! They have spent time learning to knit and using that skill to practice: skip count, estimate, average, find area and perimeter, patterning, mass, and figure cost of a project.

They've learned so much and we've had a great time...

It's been a great reminder to us -"This is such a good lesson. I think I feel just like the kids when they learn a new skill and are having to work through their frustrations and then persevering until they succeed."

Great application - "I can't even count and keep the number of stitches I need on the needle!"

A new appreciation - "We've loved the gifts you've made us but now we understand the amount of work and talent you put into each one."

A sense of accomplishment  and pride - "Maybe I will make another bootie!" "I'm going to take a picture of the bootie I made, my sisters just won't believe that I made this!"
And comaraderie - "Carol and I were on morning duty together this week and we decided the group should meet every so often to knit."

It appears the district will be around a million dollars in the red next year. Over the the last three years there has been a lot of cutting back: we have ordered very few or no supplies or workbooks, copies are at a minimum, and ten teacher contracts will not be renewed next year. With times getting tougher in the district it has been comforting for the group to get together and relax, and refreshing to have a group of teachers get together and not talk school.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The first day of Spring!

After a very cold and snowy winter it's nice to see the sun shining on our first day of spring!  Although this is the time of year that all Montanans know in their hearts there will be at least one more snowstorm, we also know that the worst is over. We begin to bring home plants for our gardens and decks, knowing in our hearts that it is to early. Just looking at them on our dining table or in a corner of the living room makes us joyous.
 I bought a new hibiscus yesterday. It's the same type as my hibiscus Mom had given me years ago but it has a solid braided trunk. I'm hoping I'll have it for many years.
 Hubby was looking for a new thermostat for the furnace and instead of going straight to a hardware store, he was sure that he could find what he needed at HIS favorite store - Costco. He was wrong and so we went to his second favorite store, Sam's Club. Still no luck, he was wrong. Finally, still not wanting to go to the hardware store, he found success at Walmart. So while he was searching for something to keep us warm at night, I was successfully managing to pickup sure signs of spring!

We are especially looking forward to Easter this year, everyone will be home for the festivities. The gurls and I are going to try a new way to dye eggs, and we'll spend some time making sundress for the little gurls. I've also started knitting little sweaters to go over the sundresses should that snowstorm decide to make its appearance Easter weekend.
Pattern: Kina
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby D.K.
Needles: size 4

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meatloaf - the food not the group!

Today Hubby requested meatloaf for dinner.  Usually people just put a little of this and a little of that in their meatloaf then pop it into the oven. But next time YOUR hubby requests meatloaf, give this recipe a try.

Many years ago my sister-in-law, Linda, gave me a cookbook with the best meatloaf recipe ever! Truthfully, I think two things make an outstanding meatloaf: good quality hamburger and horseradish. 

Marvelous Meat Loaf
1 cup bread crumbs
2 T wheat germ
1/3 cup minced onions
1 T minced green pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1pound ground beef
1T horseradish
1 1/4 t garlic salt
1/2 t dry mustard
2T milk
2T ketchup
Mix well, shape meat into loaf and put in shallow baking pan. Spread to with 1/4 cup ketchup Bake 60 minutes at 350 degrees.

Usually I have baked potatoes with this but today we're having pasta salad and asparagus. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Last week I knit socks. I had a lovely emerald green yarn, I knit one sock and knew they would be perfect for Saint Patrick's Day. Then I bought more sock yarn and just wanted to see what it would look like knit into a sock. By the end of the week I had two great completed socks and four days before the big day. Where is the "Luck of the Irish" when you need it... or a little Leprechaun to do some knitting? I just couldn't get the second sock done but don't despair, I created a pair for the day:
A Rainbow over the Emerald Isle!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Knitting update

For over a year I've been searching for gold yarn. Finally, Vanna was successful where my beloved LYS failed me. While walking down the aisle of Michael's, shining up at me was a lovely skein of Loin Brand Vanna's Glamour in taupe. The hat turned out quite nice and I can't wait to see Brynna wearing it. This pattern is a keeper, and although I love the pink, a future hat will be knit in a royal purple for the next prince or princess that makes an appearance!
Princess Brynna's Crown Hat
Pattern: Princess Crown by Alison Stewart-Guinee
Yarn:Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby DK Solid, pink
         Loin Brand Vanna's Glamour, taupe
Needle size: US 4 and 5

I also completed the pair of socks I started on the plane.
In the pink socks
Pattern: Donna's Easy Sock Pattern
Yarn: Paton's Kroy Socks Stripe
Needle size: US 2

This sock craziness has got to stop, I've also started two more pairs but have completed only one in each yarn just because I wanted to see how each would knit up! One pair I hope to wear for St. Paddy's Day. Perhaps it is a good thing that spring is coming - my sock drawer has certainly filled up since Christmas!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dream on.

The perfect screen saver...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The sun is setting on our vacation...

Each day was wonderful on Paradise. But all good things must come to an end....
Tidal Pool sunset, across from our house
Observatory sunset...
Hapuna sunset...
Kona Coast sunset...
Mauna Kea sunset...
Kona sunset...
If you lived this everyday what would you have to look forward to?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Go with the flow....

We were enjoying an open air market in Kona when Hubby heard another tourist talking about a "really great tour" he had taken to the lava fields. Hubby was unable to resist this adventure, there is something about the combination of fire, being a male and a fireman that got his blood flowing...
First thing the next morning, we were on the road to the volcano. It's a beautiful drive, from the west side of the island - dry and full of beaches, up to Parker Ranch - lush and green, to the east side - rainforests and cooler.  We went to the summit of Kilauea and checked out the crater.
The crater inside the larger crater of Kilauea
We visited a park were you can see the devastation caused by earlier flows into the ocean. Owners of the land prior to the eruption are now just beginning to rebuild, although a home was lost last month because of the lava.
The end of the road...
A brave soul, with an ocean view and a "glow in the evening"...
Then on to finding what our fellow tourists later dubbed "The Wetback Tour". As I understand it, the state doesn't let anyone near a lava flow because it is to dangerous. However, if someone owns land on the lava flow, the owner can allow you to visit. So we found Uncle Sam and for $50 cash each, we were slated for the sunset tour. With several hours to pass we walked down to the ocean and watched four young surfers "hang loose".

Catching a wave.
A great black sand beach.
An hour before sunset we went back to Uncle Sam's. He provided us with a flashlight and a bottle of water. We piled into the back of two pickup trucks with 20 other fellow adventurers. Down the highway we zoomed, hanging on for dear life, our hats and our hair flying. The trucks retraced our earlier visit, going back into the park and crossing its boundaries onto Uncle Sam's property.
A home that had been spared by Pelee in the 1986 eruption.
We jumped off the truckbeds and trekked in single file to the lava flow.
I worried about Hubby's safety. He was like a boy in a candystore, slidding down the freshly cooled lava to get "just the right angle" while I stood above feeling the heat radiate through my shoes onto my tootsies!
As it got darker Uncle Sam saw a fresh outburst of lava and pointed us up the hill about 25 yards, telling me anything that wasn't glowing was safe to walk on....
(ANYTIME you would like to look at more lava photos, just ask Hubby. He took over 150 photos!)
Later, we arrived back at the trucks only having lost 2 of our fellow adventures. They had wandered back by themselves thinking they had been left in the lava fields. As our "tour guides" drove us back to our vehicles, it began to pour and we arrived with wetbacks, knowing it had been quite a tour!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It was a zoo on vacation!

As far as animals were concerned, there were several firsts on our vacation. At the beginning of our stay we woke up to some very familiar bird sounds....
Knock, knock. Who's there? "Your friends - the turkeys, and it's a hella'va lot nicer here than in Montana!"
Why did the turkey cross the road? To get to the beach, silly!
We had never seen a manta ray at Hapuna Beach, so that was very exciting to be able to swim with one, and there was also a turtle at Hapuna which, although not a first, was still exciting. On other beaches we saw many pretty birds, turtles, sea cucumbers, sand crabs, whales, and just hanging loose were the geckos and mongooses.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Summer reading in February!

One of the great things about this vacation was just relaxing on the beach reading.
I packed Pillars of the Earth by Follett and lugged it on the plane across the country thinking that this one book would be my entire two week vacation read. I was off on my estimation and instead the book turned out to be only an eight day read. In hindsight quickly finishing a book shouldn't have been a surprise when reading is your only activity other than:
1) rolling over every 20 minutes to ensure an even tan
2) moving under the umbrella to avoid a burn 
3) dangling your toes into the ocean
If you like historical fiction, England, and books that span over many years of a medieval family's life, this read is a must.

I was glad to have finished any book. I hadn't read a book since summer, but there were 6 more sand filled days to go before we flew home, hmmmm... 
We were staying in a house that had a small bookshelf. While snooping, I hit pay dirt! At the time, I thought this book would be a nice little beach read but I soon realized I had made a very lucky choice. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows proved to be an outstanding book. Staged shortly after WWII, the main character in the book begins correspondence with a group that was invented on the spot by Guernsey Island farmers and fishermen when they were caught drunk after curfew, by Nazi soldiers. As an author, the main character soon sees a storyline for a book and visits the island becoming totally immersed in the islanders lives. A truly enjoyable book about some very trying times.
I now was down to 4 sunny days remaining on the island and again no book to read. So back to the bookshelf I went! I was lucky yet again. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton is a story about five young mothers who meet in a San Francisco park while carrying for their kiddos. Even with very different personalities and backgrounds the ladies become friends. This story is an accurate peek into the lives of women and moms in the 60's.  I liked the book so much, I've already bought a fresh copy and wrapped it up for a friend's birthday!
Finally, I returned to the little bookshelf. When there were six days and then four days left of my vacation I had avoided Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg only because it is a rather long book. Now there were only two days left and I was forced to pull it off the shelf. I have read some of Fannie Flagg's books: Fried Green Tomatoes, Welcome to the World Baby Girl, Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man.  I enjoyed these three books and so I reluctantly made the decision that I would read this book and if it wasn't completed before leaving, Pillar's of the Earth would be left on the little book shelf as a trade.

PS. - The five pound book is now residing on the bookshelf in Hawaii!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Starry Starry Night

Hubby is a very hard guy to buy a gift for but the gurls outdid themselves! For his birthday, knowing we were going to make this trip to Hawaii, they bought him a tour to the Mauna Kea Observatory. Lucky me, it was a ticket for two!! 

We meet our tour group at three o'clock in 83 degree heat. The tour guide was a geologist and while driving up the mountain he talked nonstop about the island. Great information! Until the drive up we didn't know that there are two types of lava rock:  

  "...pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) and a'a (ah ah). Pahoehoe lava comes out smooth and dense and can form large areas that resemble flat parking lots or smooth bumps. A'a, on the other hand, forms individual rocks anywhere from a few inches to many feet in size. The rocks are porous and very jagged. In general, pahoehoe is very easy to walk on and a'a is very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to walk on (at least without getting hurt)."

Or this tidbit:
"Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the world and I stood on the very top of it! (Mount Everest is the tallest BUT Manua Kea is the highest - don't forget all the elevation under the ocean!) Mauna Kea ("White Mountain") is a dormant volcano on the island. The highest point in the Pacific Basin, and the highest island-mountain in the world, it rises 32,000 ft from the ocean floor to an altitude of 13,796 ft above sea level, which places its summit above 40 percent of the Earth's atmosphere." 

Once an airplane reaches the altitude of 10,000 feet it becomes pressurized. So we were high up and the ail was thin!
Above the clouds
Enjoying the view over 10,000 ft above sea level
The University of Hawaii leases the land that the 13 observatories are on. They do not benefit from the buildings being on the land but by the scientists using the observatories. Scientists must apply to use the observatories years in advance and when are accepted, they will be spending many thousands of dollars for the privilege.There cannot be more than 13 on the land so they are going to tear one down and build another bigger and better one in the coming years.

At over 13,000 feet above sea level once we arrived at the summit we quickly put on winter coats and began setting up cameras for the sunset and moon rise:
Full moon over the shadow on Mauna Kea
The wind was blowing and once the sun went down the temperature, with windchill, was about 0 degrees but it was absolutely beautiful!

We all got back in the vans, went down to about 9,000 feet and did some star gazing with high powered telescopes. We looked carefully at Jupiter and its four Galilean moons including Europa, Orian's belt as well as other stars. Another wonderful day in Paradise!