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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 7, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Back to school time at last! 

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I love spending the summer with my kids and all…but all good things must come to an end! 

This year Matt’s going into fourth grade and Emily’s going into first grade.  This is the first time that Emily will be attending school all day – and the first time I’ll have some days all to myself (only on my Mondays and Fridays off, but hey – it’s something).

Have a great school year, kids!

 
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First Day of HIGH SCHOOL!!!!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 3, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Andrew started high school as a freshman at Gloucester Catholic today.  I took these photos while he was waiting for the bus to pick him up at WaWa this morning (I made sure that there were no other kids around so he wouldn’t be embarrassed – although I think he was embarrassed anyway):

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Hey, Andrew – just be glad that I didn’t drive you to school and take your picture as you walked inside…

 
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Finally! A Completed Knitting Project!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 3, 2008 in Crafts, Knitting

Way back in January, I started to work on a felted tote bag – and tonight (in SEPTEMBER), I finally finished it!

Not that I’ve been working on it non-stop since then.  In fact, I stopped work on it altogether for a few months after I lost one of my size 8 knitting needles on my first trip to Alaska back in April.  A few weeks ago, I replaced the missing needle and then it was back in progress.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the book with the instructions…so I had to improvise a bit.

What I like most about this bag is the simplicity of the design – basically two side panels and one VERY long handle.  I should have probably made the handle longer, but I got really bored when it got to be around 6 feet long (it was supposed to be 7 feet, I think – part of the problem of losing the instructions!) and stopped.  The handle was just a plain garter stitch with the first stitch of each row slipped to make a nice, sturdy edge.

So after knitting the handle and side panels, I hand-sewed them together using the green yarn.  The handle acts as the sides and bottom of the bag – the seam is sewn together along the bottom.

Before felting, the bag was so big and floppy, I had my doubts.

But then I threw it in the washer through a entire cycle on the hot/cold setting…and it was like magic!  I couldn’t believe how fantastic it was after it was felted – you can barely see any of the individual stitches and the bag became structured and sturdy – now I can’t wait to felt some more projects!

To complete this one, I knitted some pockets (again, no instructions so I had to wing it) then felted them individually.  The result would have been okay…but I wanted to add some felted flowers and leaves.

I found this pattern for a simple ruffled rose from Y2knit online and decided to give it a try…here’s one of my roses before felting:

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Just a simple strip that curls around itself as a result of increasing the stitch count.

Next, I wanted to add some leaves made with the green yarn.  But I couldn’t find a leaf pattern that I liked online – I tried several that I found, but they all seemed to end up looking lumpy.  So I made up my own pattern and made these (the photo is before felting):

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To make these leaves:

Cast on 3 stitches and knit the first row.

Knit the next 3 rows, casting on an extra stitch at the end of each.

Knit the next few rows – I think I did three or four.

Then knit the following rows, decreasing the number of stitches by knitting two together once on each row.

Bind off when you reach a row that only has two remaining stitches – that’s it!  They felt up so cute – it’s just the final shape that’s really important after they are felted.

Here’s the finished tote completely felted (one side is blue, the other is brown):

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I also added some blanket stitching around the pocket and top edge to keep the colors blending together.  I think it’s so cute – and I can’t believe that I made the whole thing myself.

Hmm…I think I may be making some of these for Christmas presents…and if I do, I’d better start now (or make smaller bags)!

 
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Back to School Haircut

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 2, 2008 in Family Stuff, Today's Photo

Emily cut a new cut today for back-to-school – look how cute she is!

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One More Teeny-Tiny Political Word

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 2, 2008 in Local Community, Uncategorized

Again – this is not a political blog…

But I just can’t help but say something about the republican nominee for vice-president…

I think it’s fantastic that we are at a point in history where a woman can be nominated for vice-president without hesitation.  I also have a certain fondness in my heart for Alaska since I’m working so closely with those from that fine state.

That being said…

I can’t help but wonder about the republican strategy in the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin for two main reasons.

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about her nomination is that she is currently involved in a scandal in her own home state.  While I was in Anchorage, the story was plastered all over the papers and the local news. I have to question the judgement of choosing a candidate that is involved in such a high-profile case right now…

The next thing that came to mind is that Sarah has not even been governor of Alaska for 2 years.  And before that, her only political experience was that on the city council and as a mayor of a tiny town (Wasilla) that is half the size of my own home town.  I hardly think that the mayor of Pitman would have the experience necessary to run the entire country (no offense to Mayor Batten).

I have great respect for Gov. Palin – and as a woman and a mom I admire her achievements.

However, with the republicans citing Barack Obama’s lack of experience, this just seems like an interesting choice…

 
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Summer Reading Wrap-Up

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 2, 2008 in Books I'm Reading

While we were camping, I finished up two more books…

First was Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

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Mike recommended this title to me when he heard that I was looking for something different.  I’m not normally a Stephen King fan – too much blood and gore for me – but Mike assured me that this was a different type of book for King – it was more of a love story.

I’m not sure about love story…but it certainly was different!  And LONG…the book was 528 pages.  I was in the middle of reading this book when I took my Alaska trip, but didn’t take it with me – not because I didn’t like it, but because it was so darned heavy! 

The book follows the story of Lisey, a woman married to a famous horror-fiction writer, Scott Landon.  The story takes place after Scott has been dead for about 2 years and as Lisey is cleaning out his office.  There are many people that want Scott’s old papers – and they are willing to stop at nothing in order to obtain them.

Lisey is lead through a series of clues leading her along a ‘bool’ – King’s word for a sort of scavenger hunt – by her dead husband to help her understand the past and deal with the present. 

By the way, there are lots of made-up words in this book – some of which are just so silly that I couldn’t take them seriously.  For example, ‘bad-gunky’ is the term King uses for a sort of mental-illness/demon possession.  And ‘gomer’ is for people who are in a sort of comatose trance. 

It seems that Scott had the ability to transport to another world – “Boo’ya Moon” (another of King’s silly invented words) – where everything is lush and tropical in the daytime but is evil at night.  Scott is haunted by his own personal demon from Boo’ya Moon, his ‘long boy’ – and the book details the demon’s affect on Scott and his family as he was growing up.

The imagery in the book is fantastic and King’s character development is wonderful (how could you not know everything possible about these characters after 528 pages?).  But I still think that it was WAY too long – the basic story could have been compressed into about half that length.  And the fantasy element is just not something that I normally relate to – the whole thing was like some sort of bizarre dream that I may have had.

Which I guess is exactly what makes King such a genius and keeps his devoted readers coming back for more.

I also finished another book by David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day.

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This was another hilarious look inside the life of David Sedaris – I laughed out loud even more than his other book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.  Again, not a book for children, but really, really funny – something light to contrast with Lisey’s Story!

 
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Camping in Elizabethtown PA

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Sep 2, 2008 in Family Stuff, Our Goldendoodle Puppies, Today's Photo

We took our last camping trip of the summer season this weekend in Elizabethtown, PA at the local KOA campground.  Why Elizabethtown you ask?  Mike grew up in nearby Ephrata, PA, so this was like a trip home for him.  We booked this trip months ago so that we could combine a camping trip with a visit with Mike’s 91-year-old grandmother, Nan, who lives with his dad in Elizabethtown.

I have to admit, the trip started out not-so-well…the weather was fine when we left home on Friday, but by the time we got into central PA, it was POURING down rain.  And it remained raining as we set up our camper and pretty much the entire first night we were there and into the next morning.

Which would have been okay but…there was no cable TV at our site!  Yikes!  Stuck indoors in the rain with the kids and no TV?!?!  Oh…and then the bathroom roof started to leak as well…and did I mention that Geddy refuses to pee outside when it’s raining?

Andrew wasn’t with us this weekend – he was vacationing in Ocean City with his dad and step-mom.  I called him when we arrived and told him not to feel bad…he wasn’t missing much so far…

But we made the best of it – we threw a duct-taped trash bag over the roof (now that’s classy, ain’t it?), watched some movies and played some games…before we knew it, the sun was out.

We took a trip to the local flea market where we picked up some great bargains at the book stall.  Kids books were 3 for $1 and grown-up hardcovers were $3 each – not bad!  We also picked up some whoopie pies, one of our favorite sweet snacks.  For those who don’t know what a whoopie pie is, it’s basically a Pennsylvania Dutch version of a Hostess Devil Dog – but better.

We had a chance to visit with Nan in the afternoon – here she is with Matt and Emily:

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Nan was kind enough to give Emily a lovely bracelet that her mother gave her:

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The initials on the bracelet are “NM” for Nelly Marx, her mother’s name.  It’s over 100 years old – what a special piece to pass along to your great-granddaughter!  Emily is a very lucky little girl – and she was a very gracious 6-year-old, I’m proud to say.

This weekend, we also managed to fit in a hike along the Conewago Recreation Trail for a few miles:

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This was a great trail (very level – I liked that!) that led through some cornfields and shady trees with lots of friendly bikers and hikers along the way.  We also saw an entire family of deer crossing the trail – and our own family didn’t even complain…that much, anyway.

We also took advantage of the campground activities – the pool, BINGO (Emily won a toy snake during one round – Mike was upset that she didn’t choose the Penn State coffee mug instead…), hayrides…

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The activities also included a ‘wet hayride’.  We basically rode around the campground on a ‘pirate ship’ and were armed with large water guns and water balloons while campers sprayed us with hoses (and water guns, fire extinguishers, buckets of water…whatever they could put water in) as we rode by.  The kids had a blast – and we were soaked to the bone when it was all over.

But now summer’s over and it’s time to get back to reality…the back-to-school clock is ticking down – only 2 more days to go!

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