Monday, April 30, 2012

Ibook Shelves Don't Have to Be Dusted

So, buttons... don't really have anything to say about them, in particular, so I'll just ramble about something else.  I mostly just wanted to post these photos so I can see them online from time to time.  Otherwise they'll just get lost in the void we call our hard drive. 

I've finally ordered an ebook for my ipad.  It was a hard decision to make, because I love underlining and doodling in the margins of my paperbacks and craft books.  I'm pretty sure it causes my body to release endorphins.  Just the weight of a book on my chest at night is complete muscle memory trigger - I am asleep within a few minutes.   There's also the memories from the time in my life when I first read a book attached to its soft, faded pages.  Sappy, no?  

But I had to face it.  My shelves are double stacked with all kinds of books and have magazines crammed into any remaining crannies.  They sag under the burden of collected great works.  Actually, they're mostly craft books and how-to's, with a few of these and these, and a token one of these. The depth of my literature just erodes as you move further back into my home, where you'll find things like this wedged between pattern books on a shelf in my bedroom.  Yeah I know...but there are some hefty classics in the mix too. 

  Anyway, I did it.  I decided to buy all of my knitting and nonfiction digitally, when possible, and ordered the Sweater 101 ebook. (Could that title possibly interest my husband less?)  Since then, I've only been uploading emagazines and pdfs.  They look so neat and tidy on the miniature ibooks app shelf.  I may not have organized my home's book shelves yet, but thanks to my little digital hideaway,  I'm, at least, no longer contributing to the chaos.  The ipad even feels like a book on my chest when I lay down to read. 

 Now, I just need two things for it to be my perfect reading scenario:  an E ink option and doodle app that lets you doodle with the stylus right onto the margin of your ibooks pages.   Then my digital reading experience will completely mimic that of my usual reading habits at home.  Well, almost completely, maybe I should download a few more free classics.  Nothing like hiding this behind this on the ibook shelf. 

more on my instagram and Flickr

Friday, April 27, 2012

An Old, Familiar Beatnik

No, I don't mean Maynard Krebs.  I'm talking about a pattern that has become very familiar over the last month or so and in a yarn that feels that way, too.  It's my second time around with this one.  For some reason I felt the need to try for an almost totally seamless experience, and instead of a funky color, I wanted something more traditional.   So here it is.

I got the idea to make it with fewer seams from Linden, of Stockinette, whose sweater turned out so great it gave me courage to try.  I wrote down every step of my modifications to share if it happened to turn out perfect.  But, having knitted it both ways, I have to say I liked the first way best.  I won't even bother with posting the mods for this one, except to say that it is way easier to knit the body in the round up to the arms, then separate the front and back to work individually before seaming them together at the shoulder.  You can veg out in front of the tv then to knit the sleeves two at a time and seam them in.  You also have the option of picking up stitches at the armholes and knitting each sleeve in the round from there, but I wouldn't.

Necessary mods- knitting in the round to the arms and lengthening the 3/4 sleeve just a bit.

My unnecessary mods -  I made the mistake of trying to keep the sweater together in the round, adding sleeves (knit in the round) at the armpit and keeping it all together for a bit before working my decreases with short rows.  I just didn't think it through because after putting underarm stitches on waste yarn and knitting the body and sleeves together for a round, there was only one more round to knit even before having to separate the sections and turn back and forth to work short rows in each one, putting stitches on waste yarn as I moved to the next section.  Keeping up with all of the turning, the cable patterns and neck decreases was like taking a hard class.  There was no watching Friday Night Lights at that point.  I was in the zone, like when my husband plays video games.  I can't be responsible for any information given to me by my family at times like that, because I won't retain it.  "Oh, you got in a fight at school... yeah... that's nice...."  "Your camp money was due today... okay... that's good."  "You got a ticket... wow... that's nice."  I did, however, gain more insight into decreasing without binding off.  I have had little experience with short rows on the body of a sweater, so that was kind of cool.

Actually it's only cool because the sweater turned out nice.  Had it not, I'd be storming through the house in a cloud of doom, raising my fist to curse the day I discovered short rows.

I'm so glad there's no doom.  And my predictions for sweater growth were on target.  I knit it to be very fitted (the smallest size) and after washing and blocking the Patons Classic wool, it's a little loose on me like I'd hoped.  Now, I guess I'll wait for next winter.   Has anyone ever planned a trip to a colder climate just to wear sweaters?

  more on my Ravelry and Flickr

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cheap DIY Memory Foam Platform Bed

I received a comment on my DIY Memory Foam Bed  post recently asking for plans to our pine platform frame.  I didn't go into much detail with that post because we were planning on replacing that frame with a homemade oak frame by now.  But we haven't felt in a rush to replace it.   It serves its purpose, I can store more stuff underneath than before, the bare pine doesn't offend me at all, and we can devote our time to other projects.

So here's the lowdown.  Be warned, this is not in any way a slick post (are they ever) but I wanted to respond in case a reader was desperate for a weekend project and really couldn't find plans on the web that are better than mine.  This frame is for a queen sized mattress.  Sorry there aren't more photos, but as soon as the bed was set up, it became a purgatory for unfolded laundry during the day, and I'm not commemorating that with images.

You'll need:
a drill
hairpin legs (We got ours here.)
1.5 " lag bolts (for attaching legs)
box of cabinet screws, with hex bit included
(5) 8ft 2x4s
(8) 6ft 1x6s
a socket wrench
leg coasters for protecting your floor (optional)

Cut 2X4's into:
2- 80"lengths for sides,
1- 73" center piece,
and 2 - 53"lengths for end pieces.

Cut 1x6s into: 8- 60" lengths for slats.

Lay out the 2 longer 2x4s ,vertically, forming the sides of the frame, with the  2- 53" boards horizontally, between them, at each end, to form a rectangle.  The 73" board will also run vertically in the center, between these top and bottom pieces (see photo below.)

Lay 1 slat along the 2x4 end pieces at the top and bottom.  Use 3 cabinet screws, one at each end and one at center, to secure each slat to the 2x4 beneath.

Once the top and bottom slats are screwed down, turn the whole thing upside down.   Set the legs onto each corner of the frame (as in the picture above) where they will be attached and mark for the placement of the bolts.  Use your hex bit to pre-drill holes for the lag bolts.

After the holes are drilled for legs, use a socket wrench to screw them in (careful not to over tighten.)

Turn frame right side up, make sure it sits evenly.  Lay out other slats, evenly spaced, over the top.  Use three cabinet screws to secure each slat at ends and  center.

Once mattress is on bed, tap 3- 12" 2x4s into place in center of each of the frame's vertical 2x4s to prevent sagging, so your cat can safely hide from company under it.

This is absolutely a good weekend project.  Like I said, my husband did this in an hour, flat.  Though we will probably replace it, everyone who sees it really likes it.

Two things that may reduce the need for additional 2x4 support might be changing the placement of the legs or using a harder wood, like oak.  However, some of the nice diy beds I've seen still have 2x4s hidden underneath, in case.

Check out my Pinterest for some other ideas and ways to modify this.  Some are solid platforms, but I read that slats are better for letting latex "breathe," plus I like the look.  Hope this helps.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Praise of Cheap Shoes

This is just a "stuff" post.  But it's stuff that has really helped me, as a runner, walker, and bi-ped, so I thought maybe I'd share it.

My mother was a frugal woman.  But one thing she insisted we spend money on was good, quality shoes.  I still remember the fancy store she'd take me to because my feet were narrow.  I, in turn, was the same way.  I bemoaned my daughter's insistence on wearing flip flops all of the time because my knees hurt.  Wouldn't hers one day too?  

Turns out, she was right.  The girl, that is.  For a couple of years, I've been transitioning from air-gel-pumped-hexa-addiprene-super arch running shoes that I wore most of the time to cheapo flats.  The result has been to save money on running shoes that no longer have to be tossed after a prescribed number of miles, to be able to wear fun shoes again, and to lose the knee and arch pain I lived with for several years.  

As far as everyday wear goes, I've fully transitioned.  When running, I've moved down to an almost flat racing shoe.  It has been a slow process adjusting to these kinds of shoes.  Though the arch and knee pain seemed to leave immediately, I found the top of my foot would hurt if I transitioned too quickly.  I took almost a year to move from one running shoe to the other.  This along with arch exercises, and walking more, allowed my feet to grow stronger where restrictive shoes had weakened them. 

Let me state here, that I get the whole barefoot thing.  Really, I do.  But I'm never going to run past Texas roadkill in bare feet.  Never.  Sorry Ken Bob.  But I do employ as much of the technique as possible.

There are lots of running gurus out there with recommendations on the best shoe for your feet, but many are expensive or impractical for someone who isn't running marathons.  These are some of my favorite, affordable minimal shoes, some for everyday wear and a couple for sports:

Tom's classics.  They have a narrow toe box, but are nice and flat.
(Image via

Feelmax are something I still don't feel comfortable running in for any length of time.  (I haven't tried them for much distance yet- I'm chicken,) 
but they are light as air and look a little more shoe-like than Vibrams.   

Addidas Adizero Rockets are a good transitional shoe.  These are what I usually use for 3+ miles at a time.  They're discontinued, but there is always some incarnation of these racing flats available.

Sseko sandals with interchangeable straps 
and the added benefit of helping women in Uganda earn their education.

(Image via

Feiyue martial arts shoes.  These are a kung fu version of  Bensimons for $15 a pair.  Actually, they are very flexible and made for martial artists.  I've read a lot of minimalist runners use them too.  I know for a fact that Feiyues can take quite a bit of abuse.  I've done everything from running to kickboxing in mine.  The only drawback is that they look cheap, with painted on logo and exposed glue, but that's part of the charm too.  
(Feiyue has recently revamped their shoes with a thicker sole and cool colors, but they're rumored to be less flexible and more expensive, so I made sure the last pair I ordered where the old kind.  They're the ones with the green triangle on the sole.)

And there are always Minnetonkas.  

Timberland's  Radler camp shoe is super lightweight and zips itself up, for some reason. 
They are quick drying and durable.  These make me think of canoeing.
This last pair has been on my "I Vant" list for a while.  
I either want to buy some of these Luna Sandals or make my own running huarache.  
I don't know if I'd run in them, 
but they'd be comfortable for all sorts of spontaneous play. 

(Image via

And don't forget Converse, Keds, and lots of knock off versions.  They may not be as flexible as some of these, but they work for me.  That's all, just in case any other people out there find the more they baby their feet and knees, the worse they feel.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Eighteen Years

We've been together for eighteen years.  
 I love my husband and the family we began all of those years ago.  
Eighteen years means we didn't give up.  I've known him half of my life.  
We grew up together.   We kept things together.  

To celebrate, we went to the beach, something we have strong memory attachment to.   
These are some photos of the day, plus a few from days past.  

This is what loving someone for eighteen years can do:

 She's seventeen now. 

 and little man is twelve.

This picture of a ferry ride sixteen years ago is one of my most favorite shots, ever.  It's not a great shot or anything.  But I felt so right, so in my element as a wife and mother on that day.  Looking at it brings back every conviction and every joy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pioneer Style

I had a "Little House" experience recently.  Remember that big garden that I've wanted since I started blogging?  The one my husband was never too excited about?  Well, with the motivation of a sprinkler system and a water well, we began breaking up a plot over spring break.

But by the end of the weekend, it was just me hand- tilling the thing with a pitchfork because my husband was working on our tiller that wouldn't start.  (My son did continue to bring me water every thirty minutes between his Zombie wars.)

I did this from sun up to sun down for two days.  Maybe it was a bit addled of me to do things the old fashioned way when I could have waited another week for a working tiller, but I couldn't bear the thought of doing this stuff again.  Besides, I really am good at buckling down and robotically working through a mindless project until it's finished, or until I pass out.  I could handle doing things like a homestead wife, but only for two days.

All sorts of thoughts go through your mind when you do that sort of methodical work, and not just the bitter kind. Thoughts like:

How much easier would it be to break sod with oxen?
I want to ride a horse down trails.
Why did I do some of the stupid things I did as a teenager? 
It was so cool on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  
How I envisioned living on a farm with rescued dogs when I was a girl. 
How long would it take to coax earthworms to the surface using only the no- till (or lasagna) method?  
I bet my daughter planned to be gone this weekend on purpose? 
Do my arms look disproportionate, like The Hulk's, yet. 

My son kept me company for a while, discussing theories about construction of the pyramids while he and the little dog lay on the ground, watching.  This led to thoughts about UFO's and, inexplicably, OMD song lyrics running through my head.  Delirium had set in.

By Sunday night at nine, the plants were in and the sprinkler connected.  It is not the powdery perfect soil of my herb garden, but it's a good start for a first year vegetable garden, and my herb garden was this way in the beginning too.  I plan to go "no-till" from this point forward, begging for bagged leaves off of people's lawns if I have to.

Anyway, tomatoes grow well in all kinds of soil, and that is the purpose of this labor:  homegrown tomatoes.  I've also got some peppers, carrots, beans, and cucumbers in there too.