Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Sweater Project

Last month I stopped at two second-hand shops and bought a dozen wool sweaters for just a few dollars a piece.  My intent is to re-purpose the sweaters and sell my end results on my now empty Etsy store.  I named my shop "Whimsical Necessities". Stay tuned and keep watching because you will be able to see my progress right here! 

Here is the first sweater.  The sleeves are now a scarf awaiting a soft backing.  The body is being transformed into a computer sleeve.  Pictures of the progress will be forthcoming soon.

Most important, suggestions are highly encouraged!  Please leave comments on how the project can be improved.

Yikes! Christmas is Over.

Savvy had a tough night leading Santa's sleigh.

Having children who are night owls and late sleepers has meant no early Christmas mornings.  This Christmas was no different and no one woke up until 10:00 in the morning.

Molly got her ukulele.  Now she plays piano,violin, 
viola, trumpet and ukulele.

Once the chickens start laying again Abby can use
her Folk Art present to advertise and make money.


              Because of our late start, we didn't have brunch until 2 pm. 
             It was full of calories and cholesterol but absolutely yummy!

Abby let me know that she was the best present of all!

What a delightful day!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tatertots and Jello: Just in Time for Christmas -- Silhouette Giveaway {worth $300}!!

Tatertots and Jello: Just in Time for Christmas -- Silhouette Giveaway {worth $300}!!

Give Away! Act Fast!

I just found out about a cool give-away while reading Tatertots and Jello.  The link is:


Jen at Tatertots is giving away a Silhouette machine which does great things.  It is like a printer but instead of just printing things up, it cuts designs out for you.  This is a great opportunity so go visit Jen at Tatertots and Jello and entr to win this great machine.

This Silhouette Giveaway

{a $299.99 value}


Silhouette machine.

*Software for Windows XP/Vista and Mac

*Power Cable

*2 Cutting Mats

*One Cutting Blade

*Plus a $10 Gift Card to Silhouette's Online Store

{And don’t forget: SILHOUETTE is now available to MAC USERS TOO!!}


Good luck.  Hurry because you only have til midnight tonight!  Mountain Standard Time


The Russians Have Come! And Gone. New Traditions.

Naomi and Abby
Naomi's Birthday Cupcakes

Since moving up to the North Country we have also started a few new traditions.  Both of our girls left great best friends in Jenkintown, PA.  Thank God for cell phone plans that give unlimited texting allowing the girls to stay connected.  But I wander.  The new tradition for Abby and us is that our Russian-born friends come to visit Thanksgiving each year, which also happens to be right around their daughter Naomi's birthday.  Naomi and Abby, both 6th graders, are soul mates.

It's wonderful that two children, Abby (Chinese-born and adopted by us ten years ago) and Naomi (American-born with parents born in St. Petersburg, Russia) would be able to meet and become good friends.  I know as a child growing up during the Cold War and Vietnam this scenario would have been unthinkable.  The Cold War brought bomb drills at elementary school where school children like me were led into the hallways and sat on the floor with our heads down to be safe when the Russians launched nuclear bombs on us. The picture below illustrates another method to be "safe".  This picture is courtesy of I Remember JFK where you can find additional details of this great time in American history. http://www.irememberjfk.com/mt/2008/02/air_raid_drills.php

 The Vietnam War brought daily news and pictures of war being fought by boys not much older than me.   And pictures of flag-draped caskets of those who would never see their family again.  I remember being told about the domino effect, that if we didn't fight and  the North Vietnamese won the Chinese would then stream down and take over South Vietnam then all of Southeast Asia and eventually the world.

No, I would never have believed that I would adopt a daughter born in China whose bff was the daughter of Russian immigrants.  Just goes to show you how great this world is.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day!

Tomorrow is Turkey Day, my daughter Molly's favorite holiday of the year.  Molly's great fear this fall was that we wouldn't be able to cook a Thanksgiving feast because we are having our kitchen remodeled.  Actually the kitchen, dining room, laundry room and back porch.

Our new back entrance will go into a mud room not the kitchen.  No one uses the front door.

Our future breakfast room and mudroom shot from our future laundry.

The wall between the kitchen and the dining room is almost down.

No place to put things but we still have our cooktop somewhere.

Our contractor, architect, woodworker, carpenter, artist and, most importantly, dear friend Tim was going to suggest to Molly that she cook the feast in the same manner as the pilgrims did lo those many years ago.  But in light of her stress-ridden, but successful school year, we convinced him that it would not be a great idea to stress her further (did I mention that she is also 16, not a good age under perfect conditions).  So tomorrow will be Thanksgiving as usual with stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple crumb pie (my mom's incredible recipe) and,of course, the turkey I ordered and picked up at the St. Johnsbury Co-op (I love that almost every quasi-large town has a good coop, it is New England after all!) and homemade gravy.

We wanted Tim to redo our house because he knows us and how our family operates.  So he designed the space to fit into my concept of cooking with different work spaces for different tasks so we don't get in each others way.  Tim knew our propensity to clutter all horizontal surfaces and is giving us many cubbies and cabinets to put things away.  He even added a roofed portico for the back door so our dog Honey has a covered place to sit outside.  And, as you can see in this picture, he is building a castle by himself on the side of a mountain.  He is one talented person!

Have a happy Thanksgiving all!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Because the Holidays are Near, Coming Soon, Good Sites for You

Yes, there hasn't been anything new posted for you.  That will change this weekend.  Soon you will be able to learn about interesting sites to learn about crafting, free new knitting and crocheting patterns and, because everyone loves to enter for the chance for free giveaways!

So stay tuned, tell your neighbors and friends, this is the place to find out where you can find brilliant handmade gifts and good deals and new patterns and more.  And maybe some nonsense for the fun of it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Win a Vogue Knitting Book!

I received an email today about winning the Vogue Knitting  Mittens and Gloves Giveaway.  I haven't been able to copy the picture of the book and put it here but you can see the  copy below.  Also, the info came from the website "All Free Patterns" which does have nice patterns.  I'll continue to keep everyone informed of any interesting patterns or blogs or websites for knitting, crocheting, spinning or any other crafts that I run across. 

The link to enter to win the book is:    http://www.allfreeknitting.com/sweeps/Vogue-Knitting-Mittens-and-Gloves-Giveaway. 

Here is the copy:

Vogue Knitting Mittens and Gloves
By the Editors of Vogue Knitting
Publisher: sixth&spring books
ISBN: 1936096056

Who doesn't love knitting mittens and gloves? With Vogue Knitting Mittens & Gloves from Vogue Knitting magazine, you'll receive a collection of more than 40 innovative designs, from convertible mittens to patterns for coordinating hats and scarves. Create trendy wristlets, funky fingerless mitts or classic lace panel gloves - the choice is up to you.

Good luck.  Now I'm off to try to type another 3000 or so words today for my novel.  I'm behind.  I only have 7,116 words.  I'll check back later and let you all know if I made my goal today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spinning Wheel Updates

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I haven't forgotten spinning, even though I am writing my first novel (see prior post).  I will be posting my misadventures in that arena as I bumble through my learning curve.  As anyone can see above, I have a long way to go since even I know that hand spun yarn does not look like these jumbled messes.  And suddenly my drop spindle seems easy by comparison.

Write a Novel in a Month

Around 10:30 pm on Sunday my daughter Molly ran into my mom cave all excited about "nanowrimo" and writing a novel in a month.  I actually thought she was talking about a rhino and writing but finally got Molly to slow down and give me the low down.  The deal is that November is evidently National Novel Writing Month aka "NaNoWriMo" .  Consequently, NaNoWriMo is an annual (November) novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world.  If you are an adult or, if you are older than 13 and opt to be treated like an adult, you make a commitment to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month.  That's 1666 words per day.

I started yesterday but after being called away for mother duty yesterday and then all day today, I have written only 427 words thus far.  Because I didn't make my required daily word count yesterday I received an email chastising me.  And I didn't write anything today, so I am further behind.  I WILL WRITE TOMORROW AS SOON AS I GET ABBY OFF TO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Molly is way ahead of me at 2300 and her bff Shannon (who calls me Mama-Gail) has written 3400.  But I will persevere and finish.  I did think about what I will write so I think that counts.

NaNoWriMo reports:  191,707,630...total collective word count for 2010.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween -- Winter is Nigh

Molly's sinister pumpkin
Today was Halloween and snow kept fluttering on and off up here in the North Country.  Winter is certainly on its way trying to erase all memory of the 70 degree days we enjoyed just a few days ago.  But I don't mind because now I can start wearing the heavy sweaters I from Nova Scotia and Ireland.

Abby's chicken pumpkin

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thank God for You Tube!

My Louet Victoria Spinning Wheel arrived Monday.  It was pretty easy to put together and I liked practicing how to pedal to keep the movement going smoothly.  But it stopped there.  I didn't have a clue what to do next.  Thank God for the internet and You Tube.  I found some tutorials and at least know the mechanics.  So can I spin?  Of course not.  Stay tuned, though.

Knitting vs. Litigating

Need I explain my preference after 25+ years trying cases?  I thought not.  So now I take joy from using my hands and imagination instead of my voice and arguments.

Here are a few of the items I completed over the past year.  I'll add pattern info tomorrow since it's really late but I wanted to actually get something out.

My strange cat, a present for my mom.
Molly, my 16 yr old, knit this elephant.
My first bag that I use as a project bag.

A silly purse for my daughter Sarah.

The bag I use every day
Time to sleep.  Check back tomorrow (actually later today).


Thursday, October 21, 2010

My First Spinning Wheel

I just won my first spinning wheel -- on eBay!  My husband asked me what I wanted for my 60th birthday and I told him I wanted a spinning wheel.  While he thought it was an odd request, he agreed.  So I did research, remembered conversations I overheard at the Common Ground Fair a few weeks ago and decided on a Louet Victoria.  I wanted it because reviews were very positive and it is portable.  Then I found one on eBay and my husband (an expert on all things eBay) did the final honors in stealth bidding in the last 10 seconds and I won it : ) 

Now all I have to do is wait for it to arrive.  And, yeah, I guess I need to learn how to spin.

More tomorrow.  Gail

Friday, October 15, 2010

Taxes? In October? Unfortunately Yes : (

Yes.  I've been busy trying to get our Federal Income Taxes finished and can only post a quick note now in case someone is actually following my blog.  (I can always hope)  Of course my master procrastinator husband had me file for an extension in April which brings us to October.

And is he finished figuring out his part of the necessary info?  As usual, NO.  So I sit in front of my computer with Turbo Tax on the screen frantically entering the numbers as he hands them to me.  While I wait I eat lunch, or photograph my knitted animals, or take the girls to their eye doctor appointments, or write that I haven't vanished on my blog.

Always a grand time here at the McNally/Miller World Headquarters.

So when I return tonight or tomorrow morning I will sign on with the pictures I while waiting.


Monday, October 11, 2010

My Rooster Dilemma . What to do with Pretty Boy.

When we first decided to get chickens I was adamant that we would not get a rooster and so we didn't.  But as the chicks grew and we began keeping them outside in a doghouse with chicken wire around it I became more afraid that predators would get them.  Although my husband blames this fear on my eastern European heritage, I believe my fears are justified.  The birds were close to the woods that abut the Connecticut River and even though the river is about 850 feet below us I know that fisher cats and mink and fox are all in close vicinity and all love chicken dinner as much as we do. 

Abby playing with the now deceased Cinnamon.

My solution was to get a rooster to help protect our hens and at least give us a warning call to allow us to rescue them.  And our friends, who by the way lost half of their meat birds to coyotes, gladly gave us one of their young roosters.   And before you could blink your eyes, the rooster appeared to help assuage my fears.

As time went by we laughed when Pretty Boy (aka Stud Muffin) learned to crow sounding much like a kazoo.  Or when he ran after our youngest daughter Abby, nipping at her heels thus causing her to carry a baseball bat whenever she visited the hens.  We chuckled even as he started attacking the hens who weren't ready to allow his less than romantic overtures.  And how can we forget the first time Abby saw him attack a hen -- she screamed hysterically until her older sister Molly ran in and scooped Pretty Boy off the hen, chastising him as she held on to him.

But now, 18 months after his arrival, Pretty Boy has become down-right mean to the hens and to all humans except Molly.  If he could kill my husband Jack, Pretty Boy would be extremely happy.  He still runs after Abby but tolerates me because he knows I'm the alpha human, that is, the Mom. 

Molly is another story.  She can still pick him up and he will accept food from her and actually comes up and gently pecks her hello.  And Molly loves him back.  And feels sorry for him because that's the way she is.  She understands that Pretty Boy brings all the bad feelings on himself.  She knows he is mean and rotten and dangerous.  But she also knows that once we give him away, he will be someone's dinner.  She wishes there were a farm for unruly roosters that allowed them to live their lives out because we named him and watched him grow up.  He's just not another meat bird.  He has a personality and she knows he's just misunderstood and he doesn't deserve to be eaten.

So where's the huge eagle who swoops from the sky and picks up Pretty Boy and carries him off to be dinner for her babies?  Where is the story book ending that keeps me from making the decision to send him away?  

Sometimes it really sucks to be the Mom.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A New Decade -- How to Welcome my 60th Birthday

Starting with my 20th birthday, I have marked each decade with a new life changing event or situation.  My record:

20th Birthday   Ten days before I turned 20, I gave birth to my oldest daughter in a doctor's office in Kutztown, PA.  So much for wanting her born at home.  Does it counts that we were back home in less than 2 hours? 

30th Birthday   I was exactly halfway through law school. 

40th Birthday   My third and final marriage. Coming up on 20 years.

50th Birthday   I celebrated in Guangzhou, China, adopting my youngest daughter.  I thought adopting Abby was better than buying

60th Birthday   ???????????

I still have 2 months and hope that the focus of my next decade will be evident by then.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Help! Work in Progress

Please bear with me as I slowly learn how to blog. You would think I could figure this out being an attorney and all but no it apparently it takes time.  

And how do I make it look great like all the blogs I read each day?  Can I import the nice things?  Why isn't as simple as they say, not content but the window dressing!  Mine looks so, so boring.

Don't shy away.  Do come back. 

And if any of you have any suggestions how to help me spruce this up, please, please speak up and leave a comment.