Wednesday, July 1, 2020

WIPS: July 2020

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I always have several yarn-y projects going concurrently.  (Let's just ignore the poor projects that have been started and are languishing in boxes and bins.)  This month I have a few bigger ones that I'm determined to finish!  And maybe even weave in all of the ends . . . 

Knitting Needles and yarn with a partially finished sweater

The Hylan Sweater is delightedly simply to knit.  It's very relaxing.  I've been catching up on some of my Netflix and Hulu shows while knitting this.  I'm using yarn that I found on super clearance from Hobby Lobby.  

I'm also knitting a Traveling Woman Shawl.  This project has a bit of a story behind it.  Originally this yarn was going to be a hat (a Mont Royal). I even had quite a bit of the hat completed, but then we moved to Florida.  Then we bought a house.  Then there was a box that sat in my craft area for a long time.  Then I rediscovered the half-done hat. I considered frogging this project and even blogged about it. I found it again, and decided that the yarn wasn't being showcased as it deserved so I frogged the hat on the spot. (No second guessing myself!)  Then I cast on a shawl . . . And here we are today!  No regrets.

Yarn ball on knitted fabric with variegated yarn

I've decided to go ahead and begin to crochet my Sophie's Dream afghan.  Dedri is hosting an anniversary MAL and I've been itching to start this project for a couple of years, so why not now?  (This won't be a project to finish in July, but I'd at least like to get it started!)

Finally, I am determined to finish the Elwood sweater for my middle child. (I shared a beginning photo on Instagram.) It came off the needles a month or three ago and he immediately wanted to try it on.  He then proceeded to wear it around the house and it has even gone through the wash.  There is at least one end that hasn't been woven in and it's missing buttons.  (Also, we live in Central Florida, so there's certainly no pressing need to wear an unfinished sweater!)

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What is on your hooks and/or needles this month?  

Friday, June 19, 2020

My Disney Musings: Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

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In early March, before the stay at home orders swept the nation, I spent a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Once again, it was a solo trip.  I wanted to check out the brand new ride, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Marquee

I got there early, arriving at the park not long after six in the morning.  I knew that opening would be pretty intense with both the Rise of the Resistance boarding group rush and the just opened Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.  The crowd was allowed through the turnstiles just after 7 AM for an official park opening time of 8 AM.

I headed straight to the Chinese Theater and followed the Cast Member's directions as I worked my way through the serpentine queue.  The line was long, however, it rarely stopped.  I'm not sure when the first riders boarded, but I know that it was early, probably around 7:30.  I boarded the Railroad at 8 AM.  (Unfortunately, this was the exact time that the Rise of the Resistance boarding groups opened.  Luckily, my husband was able to grab one for me.  You must be physically in the park in order to get a boarding group, but if you are there anyone that shares your My Experience App can get the boarding group for you.)

Hit or Miss? Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway

Was the ride a "hit" or a "miss"? I love that there is finally a Mickey and Minnie ride at Disney World!  It honestly shocks me a bit that it's the first.  I will note that the animation used throughout the ride is based on the recent award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, NOT what *I* would consider the classic animation.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed they didn't use a more classic animation.  However, in the past months we've had the opportunity to watch the shorts on Disney+ and I'm slowly coming around.  I wonder if my kids will think of this newer animation as the "regular" style . . .

Example of the seating for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

My biggest critique, or complaint if you must, is that the the ride is too short.  The official ride length time for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is 4 minutes and 30 seconds. (That does not include the mid-queue pre-show.)  This ride replaced The Great Movie Ride which clocked in at 22 minutes.  At a park that doesn't have many options for everyone in the family, this experience doesn't do quite enough to fill the void.  (This is one of only two rides in the entire park that infants and toddlers under 32 inches can ride.  Check out my post on What can I do With Little Kids and Babies at Hollywood Studios? for more information on this.)

Three things to know about Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

The ride uses a trackless system, and it's pretty fantastic.  There are waterfalls, tornadoes, and even a tango!  It's not perfect though.  There are a few places where I felt there was a little too much reliance on straight up screens. The scene changes, and there are a few of them, are a little abrupt and disjointed.  I would like to note here that the ride is not a roller coaster or a thrill ride.  My personal classification of this ride would be "mild".  (Intensity-wise I would put it in a similar category to Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom.)

Light from the queue of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

There are so many details to discover!  Hidden Mickeys are everywhere, both in the queue and on the ride.  I heard one cast member telling a family in front of me that there are several hundred.  Hundreds!  I love how they kept some of the original Chinese Theater elements in the lobby, the "Classic Hollywood" vibe is still alive!

I rode it three times in one day.  It's eminently re-ridable.  (Of course, I'm quite fond of having an Annual Pass, so I find most of the Disney experiences worth repeating.)  There's a little homage to the ride's predecessor, The Great "Moving" Ride, in the carnival scene, which I thought was particularly great.

Overall, I thought Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was a lot of fun and I look forward to enjoying it with the whole family!  It's a hit for me!

For those who would like a little more information about the rest of my day at Hollywood Studios:

I was at Hollywood Studios until about 4 PM.  It was a last minute decision to go, so I had no FastPasses scheduled.  It was pretty crowded, so few "good" one popped up, but I was still able to have a blast on most of the headliners:

  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Tower of Terror
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Rise of the Resistance 

Both times I rode Smugglers Run I went through the single rider lines, one time the wait was about 30 minutes the other closer to 45.  Both times the posted Stand By wait time was over 80 minutes.  

I also utilized the single rider line for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but that one didn't go as smoothly, I actually think I would have been better off in the regular Stand By line. 

Toy Story Mania was a FastPass that I picked up while in the park.

I was boarding group 99 for Rise of the Resistance, which wasn't a "guaranteed" group, but it was called around 3:30. 

I actually did manage to score a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass for around 5, but I decided to call it a day and head home for some food. 

The posted time for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway seemed to be inflated each time as well.  In fact, I think it was roughly half of the posted time. 

All in all, it was a great day!

Where you one of the lucky few to ride Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway before the shut down?  If so, what did you think of it?  If not, are you excited about it?  Do you wish they had left the Great Movie Ride alone? 

Must have items that I bring to Disney World:

Being local and an Annual Passholder, I go to Disney fairly often.  I always bring a portable charger, an insulated bag, a water bottle, and a protective case for my phone. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Our Library Bag: June 2020

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

Yikes, my last Library Bag post was in March.  How can life be so busy when I barely leave the house?  Our library began curbside pick up last month and we have truly appreciated it.  (I'm uncertain if my local librarians love me or hate me . . . )  Here's a small sampling of what we've been reading: 

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I had found this book for my daughter, but due to her encouragement I have now found myself enthralled with the series.  

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon
This novel is loosely based on the real life, and unsolved, mystery of Judge Crater who went missing from the East Coast in 1930.  Gangsters, speakeasies, corruption, and intrigue all weave together for an enjoyable page turner.  I thought this was a very clever "possible" solution to the disappearance.

Lassie: Come Home by Eric Knight
My oldest read this for one of her literature classes this year.  (We used the Memoria Press study guide.)  Having never read this particular classic before, I enjoyed reading it along side of my daughter.  It's a sweet story of love, loyalty, and determination.

Bedtime Math: An Excuse to Stay Up Late
My kids are really enjoying the whole Bedtime Math series, especially my middle child.  It's silly little stories mixed with math questions.

I really love houses.  I love to see the different architectural features that make a home special.  I follow Facebook pages like For the Love of Old Houses somewhat religiously.  (Seriously, I try to vote in their polls almost every night.)  All this is to say, I was very excited to see a biography about Frank Lloyd Wright in the form of a picture book.  The kids and I had quite an enjoyable time discussing the various styles of homes. 

Parting Questions!
 I am doing really well on my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge.  I'll be honest, I didn't aim very high (for me), with a goal of forty books.  I've already finished 31 books so I am quite a bit ahead of schedule.  Did you have reading goals for this year?  Are you on track to reach your goal?  Have the recent current events helped or hindered you reaching your goal?

Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the internet!  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Another Crochet Project: Virus Shawl

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A Virus Shawl is a rite of passage for many crocheters.  The pattern had been languishing in my "Want to Make" queue for years. I made my first one just last year, I don't know how I managed to go so long without making one! When I found some discounted Caron Cakes Yarn I knew I would be crocheting another one soon.

My local Michael's had the Rainbow Sherbet variety on clearance so I scoured the shelves and found three of the cakes.  It's such a cheery colorway!  I'm a bit undecided on my overall opinion of such yarn: it's really nice to have color changes without actually having to change the yarn, but the abrupt changes only work well for certain types of projects.  Happily, I think this type of yarn works really nicely with the Virus crochet pattern.

I followed Julia Marquardt's pattern, which can be found on this page for free.  There is some debate about the origin of the Virus pattern, some argue it's been around for ages especially in non-native English speaking areas, but it certainly owes a large part of it's resurgence to Jonna Martinez and her Virus Blanket Pattern.

This was my first complete project using a Furl's Crochet Hook.  This hook is certainly a luxury hook.  I was a little hesitant to put it on my birthday wish list, but after using it I quickly added more to my Christmas wish list!  I was honestly surprised at how much I loved it.

Have you crocheted Virus Shawl?  Or a Virus Blanket?  Did you enjoy the crochet experience?

Thank you for visiting! 
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free crochet patterns:
 A girl is wearing a crocheted hat looking off to the side.

A boy in a red shirt is wearing a crocheted green backpack.  There is wooden fence in the background.  The boy's face is hidden.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Free Resources: Crafts & Books

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Life is a little unusual right now.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of companies, large and small, offering free resources.  I love crafts and I love books, so I thought that I would share these two with you!

Craft More Happy Moments
Craft More Happy Moments with Bluprint's FREE Creativity Care Package March 26, 2020 through April 9, 2020!  You can watch over 1,300 creative education classes on topics including: sewing, cooking, family crafts, and so much more!  You will need to register; however, you will not need to enter any credit card information.

Audible Stories
Audible has launched a new service for while schools are closed.  As far as I can tell, there is no log in or registration needed and it doesn't look like there are limits.  However, the overall collection does seem a bit limited, but maybe they will add more!

Have you discovered any new and notable resources?  
I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Our Library Bag: March 2020

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

My library closed!  This bothers me more than most of the closures happening right now.  There are a lot of amazing online resources available now though, with more popping up every day!

What I've been reading:

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin
This was my book club book of the month.  (Of course, book club was also canceled.) Mistress of the Ritz is a novel based on a real life couple set mostly during the German occupation of Paris during World War II.  The glamorous Ritz, with all of the rich and famous, became the stomping ground of the Germans.  The story revolves around the marriage of the hotel propriety and his wife.  (SPOILER ALERT.) It's not exactly a very good marriage. But, oh, the ending!  What a punch in the gut!

Lucky in Love and Listen to Your Heart both by Kasie West
I read both of these while cuddling a sick child.  Both books were delightfully sweet YA romances.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
(This accidentally tied into our current homeschool studies about Africa, which was rather awesome.  Here's a running list of some of the picture books about Africa.)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This thriller had me furiously turning the pages.  So many lies.  So much mystery.  Deeply flawed characters.  Unreliable narrator.  Who can you trust?  Yourself?  Your memories?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This wasn't actually a library book--we own multiple copies--however, since I just finished a re-reading I feel compelled to share it here.  Every single time I read this book I love it a little more.  It's just so good. I mean really, really, really good.

A few notable picture books from this month:

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
We all loved this book!  Katherine Johnson was an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race.  Guess who was pivotal in getting Apollo 13 home?  You guessed it, Katherine!

Out of School and into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade
As it's name implies, this is a picture book biography about naturalist and artist Anna Comstock. She was a pioneer in encouraging nature study as a part of a child's education. 

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
This picture book is an adorable look at the ecosystem of a mountain pond.  It's super sweet, very informative, and just an all around great picture book. (I'm adding this book to my Amazon Nature Book List!)

Let's talk!
Do you have some extra time to read this month?  What's on your list?  Is your library open?  How long will it be closed?  

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Free Crochet Pattern: Twisted Knot Ear Warmer

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This crocheted Twisted Knot Ear Warmer works up quickly and makes an adorable accessory!

The yarn is from Kimarie's Knit Knacks.  It's called Unicorn Fields.  I've been hoarding the remainder of the skein from my Sterling Unicorn Hat waiting for inspiration to strike.  I actually had started a couple of projects with the yarn, but they just didn't seem worthy so they were frogged.  The colors are striking, and it's so squishy and soft.  Such great yarn!

Free Crochet Pattern of Sterling Unicorn Hat

Ear warmers are all the rage!  I've even seen a fair share of them here in Central Florida.  As I was cleaning my craft area I came across this yarn again and inspiration struck!  The very next afternoon between homeschooling and library books this Twisted Knot Ear Warmer came into existence.

The lovely, knit-like, detail in the texture of the headband comes from crocheting in the third loop of the half-double crochet below it.  If you haven't done this before it might sound intimidating, but it's really easy once you know what you know where to look!

When working a row of crochet you (generally) end up with a "v" on the top.  The side of the "v" closest to you is referred to as the "front loop" and the side of the "v" further away is the "back loop".  In a half-double crochet there is actually a third loop that's under the "v" that is made from the yarn over (YO) in the stitch.  "HDC in the third loop" means that you are going to create your hdc stitches around this loop under the "v". Doing this will force the "v" to face the front.

Chain 111 using an F hook.

Row 1: Skip the first chain and half-double crochet (HDC) across. This should give you 110 stitches.  Chain 1 and turn.

Row 2: HDC in third loop.

Repeat rows 1 & 2

At this point you have a nice flat, knotless, fabric.  You could sew the ends together and call it a day--that would leave you with a perfectly lovely ear warmer.  However, if you'd like to add a little more flair, then you need one more step.

To achieve the trendy twisted knot we need to sew the ends together just right.  Fold the ends lengthwise so that you end up with four ends.  Alternate the sides and then sew.  I find it helpful to baste first and check to make sure that everything looks right before the final sew.  When sewing the finishing bit, make sure to catch all four layers of fabric.  This is very important!

If you're having trouble envisioning the above step try this first: Make a "c" with both of your hands--your left hand will be a correct "c" and your right will be backwards.  Put them together with your left hand fingers on top, right hand fingers next, left hand thumb, and finally the right hand thumb.

Weave in any ends and enjoy!  (Side note: I know that plastic yarn needles are really popular, but I really love my stainless steel yarn needles.)

Thanks for visiting my blog!  

I love to link up at all of these wonderful blogs!

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 A boy in a red shirt is wearing a crocheted green backpack.  There is wooden fence in the background.  The boy's face is hidden.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Our Library Bag: February 2020 Edition

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

As usual, our library bag is bursting at the seams with good books!  Well, technically, once we get the books home they go onto the library bookshelf in our home library . . . We currently have 92 books checked out.

Here are some of the books that I've been reading this year:

Lake House by Kate Morton
I added this book to my list based on Sarah's recommendation.  I really enjoyed it!  A fascinating mystery with many twists and turns.  It has an element of historical fiction which is genre that I've been exploring recently.  The ending might be a bit too perfect, but honestly, I'm fine with that.  I look forward to reading more of this author's work!

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This was the February book for my Library Book Club.  Wow.  While a work of fiction, it is based on a former real life Florida reform school.  It's an atrocious, heart wrenching, and painful book to read and yet I am glad to have read it.  It's stylistically on point and I feel the author did his subject justice; something sorely needed.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
I have a soft spot for fluffy non-fiction, and this book is perfectly that--in a good way.  Reichl weaves a delightful story about her adventures as the New York Times' food critic in the '90s and sprinkles in a couple of recipes for good measure.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
"Two researchers from the future are sent back in time to meet Jane and recover a suspected unpublished novel."  I mean, with a description like that, how could I not pick it up?  Admittedly, not particularly amazing, but a super fun read.

Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
I really appreciated certain aspects of this book, while simultaneously being really annoyed by other aspects.  I found the author to be a good story-teller; pages turned easily and I wanted to know more about all of the characters.  All of the mother-daughter relationships are a disaster.  I thought the ending was too abrupt.  I know "Summer" is literally in the title, so I shouldn't expect the story to go any further than that, but it really felt like a few chapters were missing.  (I did have an amusing, albeit slightly uncomfortable moment, at book club when I had to admit that I considered this to be a work of historical fiction to a room full of women with personal memories of '69!)

Many of the books that are currently checked out are for our daily read aloud time.  Here's a tiny sampling of what I've been reading with the kids:

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
This story had the kids and me in stitches.  Short, sweet, and yarn-y, we really enjoyed every page.

We are studying African geography for the rest of the school year, so I've been on the hunt for a large variety of African picture books.  (I'll be constantly updating my list of Picture Books about Africa throughout the next couple of months.)  Also pictured is one of our read alouds in honor of St. Valentine's Day.

What is in your library bag this month?