11.16.2007

Travelling further back in time: August

We didn't go far, or stay for very long, but it was a lot of fun anyway! We left our little Bella with my parents for the long weekend. It was the first time we had been away from her for more than overnight.

Our first stop was Cleveland Ohio for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We spent the day there and saw everything. We had been talking about going there for years, pretty much since we first started dating. I thought it was interesting, but not at all what I expected. I can't describe exactly what I thought it would be like, but I can't help but feel cost of admission was a little high for what is there to be seen. It was fun though. We left as the Hall was closing and found a map and planned out how to get to the restaurant we had picked out for dinner. About an hour later, we found it. Great Lakes Brewing Company. Food was good, beer was better.

After we waddled out of the restaurant with full bellies, we headed toward the hotel, which instead of being on Lake Erie, like I wanted, we had to drive about 35 minutes south to a small town outside of Cleveland. We had a limited budget and couldn't spend $100/night for all three nights. The hotel was ok. No frills or anything special, just a room with a bed and a bath. All we needed.

We hadn't quite decided what we were going to do the next day, so we browsed the tourist magazine that was in the hotel room. The only idea I had for the next day was to go on to our next destination and see the city. Our next destination was Columbus to bet on the harness races at Scioto Downs. Post time wasn't until 6:30, so we had a whole day to kill. In the magazine there was an ad for an enormous flea market only about 45 minutes away from our hotel, and somewhat on the way to Columbus. We only got lost a couple... ok, we got really lost quite a few times. But we found it. A couple of the vendors had puppies and after being away from Bella for less than two days already, I wanted to snuggle them. The sellers were pretty firm about the pups being held by SERIOUS buyers only. jerks.

We headed toward columbus and got there just in time to plan out our first couple bets and re-familiarize ourselves with the process. Unfortunately we did not come out ahead. The first time we had been to the harness races we did really well. We had no idea how to read the program other than to read the names of the horses and what race they were in. So we just picked horses by their funny names. We did pretty well for first timers. I think we broke even that time. This time though, we had some knowledge and could pick out a little information from the program. We bet on the first 5 races trying to use that information. The last 5 races we went back to our funny name system. Neither way worked. Out of the 10 races (and us betting separately for each race, so really 20 bets) we won ONE. One single race. Good thing we were only betting $1 on each race.

That night we stayed at the most filthy, scary, awful and not cheap hotel I've ever seen. I booked all our hotels ahead of time online. This hotel was scary. The room had a bed and a tv. that is pretty much all we had. No alarm clock, no remote control, no ice bucket, no plastic cups, no hair dryer. I think all we had was a single bar of awful hotel soap. The room reeked like paint and was visibly dirty. If I were more like my mother I would have complained and/or left and gotten my money back. I don't know where we would have stayed, we surely would have had to charge a more expensive hotel. So we ended up staying there. Even though we were tired from a long day and a lot of driving and getting lost, I couldn't get to sleep because I was thinking of all the different ways we could possibly be killed in our sleep.

We woke up the next morning (good thing I have an alarm clock in my cell phone) in time to shower and get the hell out of there. We glanced toward the continental breakfast on the way out, we paused and looked at each other and I just said, "let's go find a bakery". So we hit the road looking for some kind of little bakery, starbucks or ANYTHING. We found a Tim Hortons a little ways down the road and loaded up on caffeine and naughty breakfast items. Things with frosting and cheese and chocolate in and on them. And headed toward the next and final destination: Cave City, Kentucky.

We drove the 4 or 5 hours to Cave City and arrived at the hotel right at check-in. We walked in and told the woman at the hotel we had reservations. I guess we missed the time zone change sign on the freeway. It was an hour earlier than we thought. So we decided to go to the Cave first and come back to the hotel later. There were a lot of Cave tours to choose from in this part of the state. Mammoth Caves were right near our hotel, but I saw one online called The Lost River Cave, this one had a walking tour to the cave entrance and then a boat tour inside the cave! So we had to go to that one. It was amazing and I could do a whole blog post just about the cave, but I won't because this entry is already getting to be pretty lengthy. So here are some pics and brief explanations. If you want more, you'll have to go take the tour yourself. It is not expensive at all and is worth every penny.
This is a blue hole. One of the 5 or so places the river is above ground.


This is a section of the river that was above ground. Picture was taken from just outside the mouth of the cave.


After the cave tour we wandered the hiking trails and found something we could set the camera on and use the timer to get a picture of us together. It only took 4 or 5 tries to get one of me in the shot too. We were standing on some rocks in a little stream.


After the cave tour we headed back to Cave City to our hotel. This was the only night we spent at a NICE hotel. This room had a King size bed and a 2 person Jacuzzi tub in the room. I also found an ad online for a nice steakhouse. I looked at pictures and a menu online. It showed $20+ steaks and lobster and all the things you expect at a fancy steakhouse. So we showered and got all dressed up and went to the steakhouse. We drive up and from the outside it doesn't look very fancy. We think maybe they just don't spend their money on the OUTSIDE. So we go in and see everyone in cutoff jeans, tank tops, SWEAT PANTS. So, we're a little overdressed. We wait to be seated and look around. The walls are 80's wood paneling, with the tables and chairs that you would have found in a Pizza Hut in 1987. There is a small, not so fancy salad bar in front of the open galley kitchen. We sit down, thinking, maybe the menu will redeem the rest of what we saw so far. We glance over the menu, looking for steaks, seafood, wine list and beer selection... We see steaks. Just your average American restaurant style dinners, and no alcohol at all. So we decide to leave before the waitress comes back. We hi-tail it out of there and drive back to the hotel. We didn't see anything else along the way. The only option looked like a steakhouse Saloon type restaurant that was attached to the hotel across the street. We go into the lobby of our hotel and ask the attendant for a recommendation. We should have asked about a fancy place or steakhouse specifically, because when we asked for a good restaurant, he immediately referred us to the little mom/pop BBQ joint practically in the parking lot behind the hotel. We also asked where we could buy some alcohol. He pretty much just laughed and said, "welcome to the bible belt". It was Sunday and there is absolutely NO ALCOHOL sold on Sundays. We were pretty bummed that we couldn't have a glass of wine or beer with dinner, on the one night of the trip we were doing our romantic type stuff. But we ended up having a really nice dinner at the hotel steakhouse across the street. After dinner we had a soak in the Jacuzzi tub and watched the ever so romantic show "Ice Road Truckers".

Monday morning we slept in a bit and headed north toward home. Of course, I had scoped out a yarn shop and planned to hit it on the way home on Monday. It was in a little town called Bellevue right on the border between Cincinatti, Ohio and Kentucky. I had $50 set aside for splurging there. And I did. I got some nice variegated laceweight and a skein of Schaefer Anne. Turns out, I drove to Kentucky to buy laceweight yarn that is manufactured only an hour from my house.


We returned home and unpacked the car and then I went out to check on the garden. My mom and sister had been there Saturday night to water the garden and pick anything that was ripe. I had been having a problem with Japanese Beetles on my green beans. So I had a spray bottle of soapy water out there. It just takes one squirt and they die and fall off the leaf. In the two days since Mom and Shannon had been there I had an enormous swarm of Japanese Beetles. I probably did a bit of damage to the plant by spraying so much soapy water all over it to get ALL those bugs.


*shudder* makes me feel all creepy crawly.

Next time: Continuing with August, The Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan County.

11.06.2007

2 finished objects and a dog's birthday

I have been working on these socks since last summer. I cast on after we moved into this house in August. I started working on them again over the weekend and was surprised to see how close I was to finishing them, it only had about an hours worth of knitting left. Here they are,

Pattern is from Interweave Knits, Winter 2005. Yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Bittersweet.

If I had to do these socks again, I would definitely not continue the lace pattern along the bottom of the foot. I think it's wasted time/effort, but also it feels kinda funky on the bottom of my feet to have all that texture. I didn't even think of making the bottoms solid stockinette until the first sock was completely done. The pattern also calls to cut the yarn after the heel and start again, I think I would change that too. I get nervous about my socks not all being one long peice of yarn.

The thing in this house that makes me most nervous though... is this:

AHHHHHHHHHHHH There's a sock murderer loose in my house!!!
These are the worst things you could possibly ever step on. The nails stick up just enough to catch on a sock and RRRRRIPPPPP! I have lost quite a few socks to these strips, fortunately though, only store-bought ones. But it makes me extremely paranoid when I am wearing my knit socks.

The next finished object is a bag that I made for a baby shower that was last Saturday. I couldn't make it to the shower because my sister Shannon was home for the weekend. I hadn't seen her since April, so I thought that was a pretty valid reason to not attend the shower. I finished it Sunday night and will give it to the recipient when I see her this Saturday.



And now we travel back in time to September 15th 2007. Since Bella is such a good girl and just loves to play with other dogs, we decided to celebrate her first birthday by throwing her a HUGE party. There was probably 35 or 40 people here and at least 15 dogs. we had People food and dog treats and I made a cake (for people) shaped like a dog bone:



It wasn't that difficult to make the cake. I used three box mixes and baked them in a 9 by 13 rectangular pan. (each separately because I only have one 9 by 13 pan) then stacked them up with cool whip in between and let them sit in the fridge overnight so they would be more solid. Then I just used a sharp knife and carved out the bone shape using a paper pattern that I drew out first.

Here are two of the dogs that attended the party. Cricket is in front and Jada is in back. They are patiently waiting for the hand made dog cookies that are there on the picnic table. Just after the picture was snapped though, cricket jumped up onto the table and snatched as many as he could before his mom caught him.



The next morning, Bella opened her birthday presents. She got quite a few balls and bones and toys. She even got some scratch-off lottery tickets. She didn't win anything though.



The party was quite a success. there were only a few little scraps here and there and the only major problem was the weather. It was only about 62 degrees here. After a whole week of 75 to 80 degree weather, and then the whole week after the party it was in the 90's. We had a keg and a fire so the cold wasn't bothering me.

11.02.2007

Happy Halloween (2 days later)

I've taken a very LONG vacation from the blog. Long enough to get kicked off some of my Rings. So I am going to try to really make an effort to blog more than once a week. I thought I would start with Halloween and go backwards. I won't make it all the way back to April in one post though.

I made Ryan an award winning costume this year. In early October, we were at a birthday party for a friend and we started talking about Halloween and Ryan just blurted out, "I"m going to be a pissed-off sunflower for halloween". He said he hadn't even been thinking about it, but it just came to him, right then. Everyone thought it would be hilarious and my wheels started turning about how to make the costume. I would need a costume too, so I decided I would be Marilyn Monroe and enlisted my mom to make the white dress from "The Seven Year Itch". The costumes were for a Halloween show at a local dive venue in Ypsilanti where Ryan and the guys play quite often called "the Elbow Room".

This is him playing drums with his costume on:

video

and here is a better picture of the costume.
I used felt and sewed each petal shape inside out and stuffed them with fiber-fill and sewed them all to a store-bought knit cap. Originally I started with flat petals with wire clothes hangers glued inside, but that made it really heavy, so I had the idea to use stuffed petals and it really worked well. I sewed each petal to a strip of brown felt and then sewed that to the hat by hand. then I picked a couple places on each petal to sew it either to the petal next to it or to the hat more toward the top of the head, to keep it from just flopping down in front of his face. Then to hide all my stitches, I sewed two strips of brown together and cut slits into it and sewed it around the face opening, to look like the center of a sunflower. He had the best costume at both shows he played that weekend. The second show is where he won the costume contest. It was down to him and one other guy wearing a store-bought costume tied for first place. So they arm-wrestled for it and Ryan won! First prize was a brand new iPod Shuffle! I ask you this though... Who really won? The guy who wears the costume or the gal who made it? I don't want the iPod, I already have my own, but I just want a little recognition for it!

This is the only picture I have of me in my costume so far. I'm still waiting for a friend to send me the pictures she took with her camera.



On Halloween proper, we went to Monroe to go trick or treating with Ryan's niece and nephew. They were freaking adorable in their costumes. Ryan wore his sunflower head too and got comments from almost every person we passed. Kids laughed, older kids just said, "HA! HE's a Giant sunflower!!!!" After trick or treating we came home and charged up the camera batteries and emptied the memory stick onto the computer and gathered up some flashlights. We waited until midnight and then drove to some really old scary cemeteries. We took pictures in the pitch black hoping to see some gnarly scary ghosts on the images, but didn't really see anything. There are quite a few spots on the pictures, like glowing bubbles sort of, but I'm sure they are just light reflections off the moon or the flash or something.



This picture actually has some of the spots on it, but you proably have to make it big to see them.


Nothing too scary happened while we were out. I was expecting to get really freaked out and RUN back to the car. The first cemetery was the scariest. It is really really old, it is on the side of a road near our house and just sortof in the middle of a bunch of corn fields. We got out of the car and held hands as we walked up the the stones and shined the flashlights around and saw something moving... it was an american flag at one of the grave sites. So we just sortof stood at the edge of the cemetery and took the pictures. The next cemetery was completely fenced off, so we just pulled up and took pics from the car.
At the last cemetery we got out and walked around a little bit. There were some houses sortof near it, but it was way out in the country. All the stones were really old, people that died in the mid 1800's. We were standing there and heard something. kindof like a metal pipe hitting soemthing else metal. we stopped and just looked at each other, still listening. We heard it bang three times and I said, "OK, I'm ready to go". We got to the car and looked back and one of the houses near the cemetery had their outside lights on and we could see someone walking around, so we were pretty sure that's where the noise came from.

Ok, I think this post is long enough, next time I'll go backwards into September and tell you about Bella's First Birthday party!