Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I have been slogging away at my miter squares. How Kay can sneeze and "oops!" she has 20 ready for a baby blanket is beyond me. I'll be happy to get my baby blanket done for my nephew before he arrives in the beginning (?) of October!

I noticed while admiring my "progress" that my tension is finally getting more even and consistent.

I'm no Melanie, but after switching to continental, I am starting to get the consistency I was seeking. I'm still learning, though, because I noticed that my earlier squares seem a little bigger. Tiger didn't groove on his new swing immediately, but he's cleaning up now. I, too, am evolving through this retooling.

Finding time to practice knitting has been difficult, though. Because if readying for back-to-homeschooling wasn't enough to keep me busy, my husband also moved his office - to our house! Everything we had needed to be moved/shifted/retooled (!) to fit in an even smaller space. Here's what our entire first floor looked like for a week or two:

But luckily, he built me this cool IKEA unit that now holds most of two bookshelves worth of school. All within reach of our school space/kitchen table. Here is "my" space from disaster to ship-shape:

Another retooling underway explains my month long absence from TenTen. It turns out that my re-entry from vacation back to "real" life was a tough for a good reason. I had/have mono and it is draining the very marrow from my bones. Retooling lately has meant learning to deal with what I can and can't do. Most days are pretty good, but when I get tired, I. get. very. very. tired. So tired, I can't even knit! This just stinks, but I should be well on the mend by now, so each week will mean more energy - and more knitting!

So for now - my posts will probably be sporadic and consisting of things that are still in progress. - but I'm hanging in there! All in the name of retooling!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lookie Loos

Thought I'd share one of my favorite "toys" to make at home. When my son was in day care as a baby, the workers would amuse the little ones with water bottles that they filled with water, a scoop of glitter, and a drop of food coloring. Rolled across a floor or held up close, the babies LOVED those bottles.

Fast forward a few years. While nosing through a toy store I discovered the same water bottles, only this time filled with rice and little trinkets - and wearing an impressive price tag. Still enchanting, but on an older level. "But it's rice and plastic stuff that I constantly find in the laundry!" I thought. True, some of the trinkets were pretty cool, and some of the rice was colored, but I was undaunted.

The first attempt at what I call "Lookie Loos" consisted of anything that fit into the neck of a water bottle and plain rice. It was a big hit at our house. As my son said when showing one to his dad "It's a scavenger hunt in your hand!". So while cleaning up the detritus of our existence recently, I compiled a little group of tiny treasures and thought "Lookie Loo time!".

Here's what I did:

Start with a bunch of fun little things and a dry, empty water bottle. I had a definite blue/yellow thing going so I ran with that. Buttons, rubber bands, pom poms, office supplies, toothpicks, and legos are all great low-cost fillers.

Note : at this point make a list of what you have before you add you rice. It is really hard to figure it all out after the rice is added. Pictures instead of words might be appreciated for the pre-readers.

Assemble your rice (or fine sand works, too). If you want to color the rice, add several drops of food coloring to a plastic baggie with a couple of tablespoons of alcohol. Add the rice, seal, and squish until the rice is coated. The more coloring you add and the more marinating time you allow, the brighter your finished product will be. Let it marinate for an hour (or several) and then spread out on a cookie sheet to dry. You might want to dry it outside so no ugly accidents happen with the food-colored rice and to keep your house from smelling too medicinal from the alcohol. Here are the colors of rice I made

Put the trinkets in the bottle.

Add the rice (funnels work great).

Leave a bit of headroom so there is room for the treasures to be revealed.

Slap on a label. I added colored fonts and highlights to match the color of the item to be located. Use what works for you. A digital picture of the loot taped to the side would be really neat.

Seal the top (super glue, packing tape, or both depending on your audience).

Spin, look, find, giggle, roll - have fun!

P.S. If you make one - send a link in your comment. Can't wait to see what you put in your bottles!