January 29, 2009

Gift Gloating

Filed under: holidays, Knitting — maryparadox @ 6:25 pm

My dad made these beautiful buttons. I'm hoping I can use some on my new knit hoodie.


January 27, 2009

Bathroom Prep — Family Demolition Fun!

Filed under: Mini Bath — maryparadox @ 12:45 am

The before photo.

In order to put in our new bathroom we have to removed the china cabinet in our dining/living room which projects into the future-bathroom space. My fabulous uncle Bob and my father helped me demolish the china cabinet, rip out the plaster, the lathe, vacuum out a pound of dust, and somehow magically keep the rest of the house clean. Oh yeah, and the most important part, take all that junk to the dump!


Step one: Remove any hardware that could be reused.


Cover the work site in plastic so we keep the dust contained. Then take a giant sledge hammer and start pounding, kicking, pulling and grunting, whatever it takes to get that thing out!


The china cabinet completely removed. You can see that the area under the stairs used to be a room -- painted green and with marks where shelves used to be.


Shoveling out the plaster. We later found about four cubic feet of lathe and plaster underneath the lower end of the stairs -- the lazy man's method of waste disposal.


Ripping out the lathe. This part was fun because it just came flying out.


The plaster appeared to be made out of some sort of hair and white power.


The nails in part of the wood and in the lathe were square-headed. This is from the time when nails were all hand made and the heads were created by putting the nail body in a tapered hole and then pounding the end to make it flat.


Bob, being a super-uncle and carting refuse out to the truck.


Dad suffering from the extreme plaster dust. We stupidly didn't use any protection and were picking black booger out of our eyes, ears, and noses for the rest of the day. We also had allergies for the few days after that -- so learn from us and wear dusk masks!

And now we’re almost ready for the contractor to come start on February 2nd, 2009! The only thing left is to clear out the garage where the plumbing will have to go through the wall from the sewer line.

January 26, 2009

The Forcast Is: Finally Finished!

Filed under: Knitting — maryparadox @ 11:46 pm
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I started knitting a sweater called Forcast a couple of months ago as an “easy” cardigan where I could “just follow the pattern”. Oi! Little did I know how wrong I would be — if only the name had not been a misnomer! Many things contributed to this being a tedious knit — using the wrong gauge of yarn, knowing ahead of time that the pattern needed to be modified in vaguely documented ways, being a perfectionist, already knowing that this authors patterns do not tend to fit my body type… In the end it is still not perfect, but I think I can live with what I have. It doesn’t fit the nitch in my wardrobe I was hoping for, but hopefully I’ll find other outfits to pair it with.

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The main problems still existing are that it doesn’t show off my curves as well as I would like; the length keeps stretching in the body; the bobbles on the shoulders make me look even broader; and the sleeves aren’t dense enough, so they tend to stretch and look holey. Good points are that it is made out of merino-cashmere so is incredibly soft and warm, and I got to use some of the copious buttons that I made in ceramics class! (Also, check out the cool knee-high sock garters that I bought to go with my other Christmas presents from Santa!)


I even made at silly looking hat out of the leftover yarn.

If you want the millions of details (and the pattern I finally ended up following) check out my page on ravelry — my username is marypardox.

Catch and Fetch

Filed under: Kitties — maryparadox @ 11:11 pm


A friend was kind enough to pass along some toys for our beloved cats Hunter and Penny. These cats are pretty spoiled already, with two cat trees and many toys, not to mention free access to the outside and all of the computer cables they can get their teeth on. Apparently they were lacking for serious entertainment though, because these toys really changed the picture. One in particular caught their attention — a red fuzzy mouse made out of what looked like rabbit fur. Their previous favorite toy was a sparkly red ball, which they destroyed leaving tufts of sparkles all over our carpet.

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Unfortunately I only have pictures of Penny here, but the toy is actually usually in the possession of Hunter. With this toy our cats have trained us to play games that allow us to sit on our butts while they run around getting lots of exercise. Yes, that’s right, Hunter plays *fetch* with this mouse — you know, we throw it and she brings it back, right to your lap! And if that wasn’t cool enough, Penny with play *catch* — she lays on her back and if you toss the ball to her she will snatch it out of mid-air!

Now are our cats cool or what!!



January 23, 2009

Knitting Inspiration

Filed under: Knitting — maryparadox @ 10:33 pm

I started getting interested in knitting a couple of years ago and since then have slowly been teaching myself how through books, the internet, and trial and error (read: torture). I’ve never taken a class or even asked anyone any questions, either because I’m too stubborn or because I just didn’t have the opportunity. Because of this I’ve progressed rather slowly, but I really enjoy all of the things that I’ve accomplished.

I recently met two girls that knit also, and they invited me to join them in a knitting project — to knit the pattern the “Central Park Hoodie”:

Central Park Hoodie

Central Park Hoodie

I’m not in love with this pattern, but I was really excited by the opportunity to work with other people. Also I recently saw this hint of a sweater on Sweet Sassafras’s blog and became really inspired to recreate it (or how I imagine the rest of it looks):

Grey Plush Cardigan

Grey Plush Cardigan

In my imagination the cardigan would be made out of bulky alpaca or cashmere, but since I’m stingy, at least on a first iteration of a pattern, I am making it out of wool. In order to go from the Central Park Hoodie to my Imagination Hoodie I am making the following changes to the pattern:

  • All reverse stockinette stitch (except for the cables).
  • Increase stitches on the front, just outside the cables, starting around where the arms split off. This will give more overlap of the ribbing around the neck and make the hood deeper.
  • Make the hood less pointed.
  • Do only the middle cable on the back.
  • Do only one cable on each side of the front – the same cable that is on the back.
  • Take this double-wide cable up onto the hood, like the original pattern.
  • Make ribbing on the sleeves longer.
  • Make the hoody longer?
  • Add waist shaping.
  • Possibly add pockets.
  • Work all-in-one-piece as much as possible.

Sounds like a lot, huh? I figured that I’d be in trouble after only a couple of inches, which is what normally happens when I try to “follow” a pattern. I start making modifications and in the end have to re-knit the damn thing four times until it’s (almost) perfect.

But, surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be happening this time. This is my first bottom-up sweater (normally I start at the neck and work down), and so far things are going splendidly! Here’s what I have so far:


The front.


The back.

The ribbing is the bottom of the sweater and will go around my hips — and it won’t pull in when I’m done because I’ll stretch it out when I wash it. You can see the waist shaping really clearly — I love how thick this sweater is, it really holds its shape. Hopefully it will be soft enough, the problem with cheap yarn is that it tends to be scratchy. I’m hoping with a couple washings and possibly some fabric softener it will be okay (though obviously never as great as alpaca or cashmere!) Eventually there will be a ribbed button-band between the two front cables (and of course sleeves and a hood).


A close-up of the front cables, and more true to color -- sort of half way between gray and brown.

I started the project before syncing up with the other girls because I was afraid that I would be slower since I’m making modifications (and am therefore likely to make a mistake and have to re-knit parts). I was also planning on taking this to the Ukraine with me on my next work trip — except that it was canceled because I hurt my arm (that’s a whole other blog posting). Now I’m afraid that I’m too far ahead — I wanted to be part of a group, not a show-off!

I’ll post the cardigan again when it is further along, and give an update on what it’s like to do a group project!

January 16, 2009

Snowboarding in Tahoe

Filed under: holidays, Travel — maryparadox @ 5:09 pm

Dad (looking hilarious) and Jackie on the slopes.

My dad rented a cabin in Tahoe for a week and we all took vacation and went snowboarding/skiing. My dad lives in Australia and hasn’t skied since he moved there, about 15 years ago. My friend Kevin lent him some skiis and he tried to  get back in the swing of things.


Dad relearning to ski. After the first day he said he was "too old and too fat" for the sport and spent the rest of the vacation reading and cooking.

I didn’t go at all last year so this was really nice — I got to ride three half days, which is usually my average for the whole season. My sister is really into snowboarding and is much better than me, she can go off the box jumps and scream past me on her board, and I never see her fall. I’m a mediocre snowboarder, able to ride okay once I remember, but usually not going often enough to move past that point.


Me and my sister wearing our dorky snow gear.

I guess I just like mountain biking better so can’t quite justify the distance and expense of snowboarding  — though I’ll drive the same distance and spend a similar amount of money during the summer to go mountain biking. I guess the difference is that I can also mountain bike at home for free, and only go out of town for an extra little somethin’-somethin’. I actually met my friend Kevin mountain biking and now we do all sorts of sports together, other than Peter he is the fittest person I know.


Kevin in his hand-painted helmet presenting a nice view.

I don’t know as many people that snowboard as I used to. Now-a-days I go with either my sister or Kevin, and this time I went with both. Jackie buys a season pass to Northstar and Kevin got a discount for working in a ski-shop, so I was the only one that had to buy a full price ticket (and I only did one day, mooching off of their passes the rest of the time).  My sister’s boyfriend Dan also came on the trip, but he is recovering from a shoulder injury (as am I) and took it easy (as I did not), only riding one day.


Jackie hopping through the flat sections.

The weather was beautiful and sunny the whole weekend, with decent snow at the beginning of the week and decent slush at the end. We spent most of the time on intermediate slopes, taking it easy and having fun. Then we’d go back to the cabin and eat some fantastic dinner my dad made; crab in black bean sauce, crab cakes, chicken soup, and pot roast!


It was a great vacation, though, as usual, I was happy to get home!

January 15, 2009

Projects Summary

Filed under: House — maryparadox @ 11:51 pm

A while ago I showed pictures of us moving a meyer lemon tree in our back yard. I meant to post before and after pictures of the yard but didn’t get around to slurping them off my camera until yesterday.

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The yard before and after. A evil spiky bush was removed from the left side of the yard and replaced with the meyer lemon tree from the right side of the yard (look for the bare dirt patch in the after photo to see where the meyer was). I’m happy to report that the lemon tree seems to be doing well and didn’t even lose one of its copious baby lemons (though dad ripped one off thinking it was something else). We also narrowed the path by about a foot. The “path” was too big for a walkway and too small for a patio, just cutting the yard in half and exageratting the narrowness of it. Ideally I would like the path to be curved, but I think that would be too hard to retrofit. When we took out the pavers the ground underneath had been leveled with sand and the cats LOVE it, you can see them out the window rolling around in it and fighting over it like it’s home base.

The right hand side of the yard is going to be tilled and turned into a fruit and vegetable garden (fingers crossed). We’re going to get rid of the tall planter box because it takes up so much space and makes the (already midget) sized yard seem even smaller. We haven’t decided what to reuse the wood for, there has been talk of making smaller planter boxes (about a foot high) or a work bench in the garage.


The view before.


The view after.

I have one more great set of before and after pictures. We have a ridiculously large deck off of our office and whoever built it was a real goober. It looks like they finished it and realized that it swayed too much, then just kept nailing more boards into the supports until it seemed to stop moving. This caused the view out of the kitchen window to look like a bunch of wood sometimes  interspersed with views of the yard.


Not the most precarious situation he put himself into.

My dad took on the project of “fixing” the shoring-up of deck. He spent most of his time just trying to get crossbeams off, which were nailed on with about 50 brittle short nails. He then put them back on higher up where they don’t block the window. Unfortuantely, after he was done the deck rocked even worse then before. He then fixed the fix by adding tension cables underneath. I haven’t been out there since to see if swinging your hips brings on an earth quake.


Cute kitty picture of the day -- Penny giving Hunter a "massage".

January 13, 2009

Christmas 2008

Filed under: holidays, House, Kitties — maryparadox @ 4:40 pm
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This year my whole family decided that Christmas would be at my house this year. I guess because Peter and I just bought a house, but that also means that we don’t have things like Christmas decorations.

I tried to convince Peter that we should get a Christmas tree, but neither of us really wanted to watch it die after the festivities. We also have the world’s smallest yard, so a potted tree wouldn’t work, and a really really full garage, so a plastic tree it out (even though that is what we had when I was a kid, so plastic would have been nostalgic, if a little tacky).

In the end we ended up “stealing” (from the free pile) a bunch of clippings from a Christmas tree stand. I guess they cut the big branches off the bottom so the trunk can fit into the stand, similar to how you would pull rose leaves off the bottom of the stem so that they will fit into a vase. So we brought the branches home and I set about trying to do something creative with them, and so was born the Catmas (Catmaus, Catmouse) Tree.

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The cat tree was the only thing really to tie the branches to, and it had the added benefit of holding Christmas presents. I’m not sure what the cats thought though. The decorations are from the last craft night we had at the house, where the temptation of pink paper and scissors incited some people to make cut-outs.


Peter with the fully loaded tree.


Mom opening a present from "Santa".

As for presents, I got a bunch of great ones — my dad brought me homemade wood buttons(!!) for my knitting project, peter got me a tow-hitch for my car so I can use a rear bike rack instead of a roof rack (it can be difficult to lift a heavy mountain bike up that high, and it causes drag), my mom got me a new purse (which I’ve needed ever since I got my last one stolen), and my sister got me slippers (my first pair ever). I’m sure there are more, but those are the highlights. I’ll post some pictures of the buttons soon, they are soooo cool!


My sister, with her new Hello Kitty humidifier, and her boyfriend Dan.

We also have a family tradition of people buying themselves gifts (I mean really, who knows what I want more than I do!) These gifts are wrapped and placed along side the other gifts — but instead of saying they are to and from yourself you say they are from Santa. So whenever someone goes to open a gift from “Santa” everyone else goes “oooooh, Saaaaanta! This year Santa brought me four pairs of knee-high socks!

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