What I Did on Summer Vacation pt. 2

Get ready for some pictures…

Hilton Head Island! It was our first time visiting, and it feels like we tried to cram several vacation’s worth of sightseeing into one long weekend.

We stayed at a condo at the Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort. The resort, itself, was okay. It was packed, and a bit rowdy for our tastes, but our room was less than a five minute walk to the beach, so that was cool.

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On that first day we were there, we actually had a bit of time to kill before we could check in to our condo, so we started checking out some of the local parks. First stop was Compass Rose Park.

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It’s a small park, but the monuments, lily pond and art was worth the stop. Beautiful!

We also stopped at Crossing Park, but the mosquitos were out in full force, and, without repellent on, we didn’t feel it was a good idea to explore the trails. That’s fine, though, because it was check-in time–and beach time!

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Even though, as you’ll soon see, we spent a lot of time exploring the parks, preserves and museums on the island, we made it a point to get lot of beach time in with the kids.

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One of the things I didn’t like about Hilton Head was the beach wasn’t good for collecting shells–at least, not at the beach near our resort. We found a few shells, but the pickings were slim. I did find this very pretty (and very alive) olive shell snail:

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I also found a live sand dollar.

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Both the olive shell snail and sand dollar were put safely back in the water.

Aside from the beach wildlife, there are also many swamp creatures on HHI. One of the first things you notice when visiting the island are signs like these:

And, if you are persistent (like us) and visit all the preserves and parks, you might run across this:

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Wait, that’s just a turtle. Those are a dime a dozen. What we really wanted to see was this:

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That’s an alligator. He’s kind of on the small side, though. A little disappointing, if you ask me. We saw this guy (gal?) at the Sea Pines Forest Preserve (more photos from the preserve can be found below). He also saw us. And, he came to check us out. And, he was a very fast swimmer. He was on the small side, though, and we couldn’t get a very good look at him. We continued to keep our eyes peeled for gators the rest of our trip and we finally saw this one:

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Can you spot the gator? He’s chilling in the shade up on the side of the pond. This photo was taken at Jarvis Creek Park, which has a walking trail that goes around that pond…

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…so, we were able to follow the trail around and get a closer picture of this bad boy! It was definitely larger than the one we saw at the Sea Pines Preserve! Despite how close the picture looks, we did NOT approach the gator. Cameras can zoom, and we took pictures from the trail.

There are many, many, many parks and preserves on the island. Sea Pines Preserve, is a great one to visit. It costs a few bucks to enter the resort the preserve is in, but well worth it! In addition to the enormous preserve, Sea Pines Resort also has multiple shopping areas. We particularly liked Harbour Town:

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The Sea Pines Preserve was massive, and we spent a long time exploring its trails. It also boasts a real Native American Shell Ring, which, isn’t much to photograph, but cool to see in person. The Sea Pines Preserve has an alligator boat tour, which would’ve been awesome to go on, but boats are a no-go with Sean. Plenty of other stuff to see, though!

The Sea Pines Preserve wasn’t the only cool place to tour. We also visited the Coastal Discovery Museum, which is a Smithsonian affiliate, so free to enter–but they do appreciate donations! The museum had indoor exhibits showcasing art, and natural history, as well as a gift shop. Outside there’s a butterfly enclosure, insect houses, beehives, carnivorous plants, art instillations, and trails that meander through woods and gardens, and branch off towards the salt marshes. You can easily spend hours here.

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And, Ft. Howell:

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(Apparently, we didn’t take many photos there.) According to their website, Ft Howell was “Built in 1864 by the Union’s 32nd Colored Infantry […] to protect the freedmen’s village of Mitchelville and to improve the defenses of Hilton Head.”

And, speaking of Mitchelville, we visited the Mitchelville Freedom Park. Mitchelville was the first settlement founded and governed by freed slaves after the Civil War. The park has a walking trail, as well as replicas of the houses and buildings you would’ve found on the settlement when it was a freedmen town.

Wowza, that’s a lot of photos! This is why I broke my summer vacation post into two. Even though we only spent three nights in Hilton Head, we packed those days with as much stuff as we could.

In addition to linking all the parks and places we visited above, I wanted to mention some restaurants we ate at and enjoyed. We lunched at Chow Daddy’s, which was not very busy, but the food was delicious! I had the Chow Daddy’s burger with pimento cheese on top. So good.

On our last morning, we had breakfast at Stacks Pancakes and it was GREAT. They had a breakfast buffet, but we all ordered off their large menu. I had a more traditional breakfast combo (meaning, all the usual suspects–eggs, pancakes, sausage–on one large platter), but my kids were a little more adventurous. Maggie had the chicken and waffles, and, of course, I demanded mom-tax and ate some of her chicken. The batter was light and crispy–so delicious.

If you missed the first part of my post, in which I talk about our New York trip, you can find it here.

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What I Did on Summer Vacation Pt. 1

School started here in this little corner of Georgia a few weeks ago, and this time ALL the kids left the house! The youngest has finally become old enough to start her long, long journey through public education system. Marcy’s in pre-k, now, and I’m not sure who’s happier–her or me!

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We had a busy, busy summer. It flew by, and yet, by the time the first day of school rolled around, I was nudging them out the door with the enthusiasm of a mom who had to settle disputes on an hourly basis every day for two months. Don’t feel bad for the kids, though. They were equally glad to leave.

As mentioned, we had a busy summer. Actually, it’s been a pretty busy year for us, travel-wise. In January, I went to Savannah, GA for my 40th birthday with my best friend, Cathy. In April, John and I had our first EVER vacation–just the two of us–while my parents watched the kids. Then, in June, we took a trip up to New York to visit John’s mom and sister, and meet our newest niece. In July, we spent a long weekend at Hilton Head Island, SC.

We took some photos in NY, but in Hilton Head, I think I took ALL the pictures. For that reason, I’m going to break this blog post into two.

First up, New York:

When we visit family in Upstate, we usually stay a solid week, since the drive up and back takes two days. (As a family of four, we do NOT drive straight through anymore. We stop at the same hotel on the way there and back, which makes things simple.)

Our visit was a bit crazy, this time around. Sean’s a teenager, now, and his mood swings are swift and often. Autism complicates things, and we had to redirect, revise, and reroute our plans a few times over the course of our week in NY. For example, we were supposed to take the kids on the Uncle Sam Thousand Islands River cruise, ending at Hart Island to tour Boldt Castle. Sean hates boats, so we were going to leave him with Grandma while we took the other three kids, who we feel miss out on a lot of fun because taking Sean on certain excursions–like boat trips–can be challenging. (Want to know some tough kids? Autism siblings. Seriously.) Unfortunately, Sean was feeling extra moody that week, and we were worried he might end up being too much to handle, so we thought, maybe, just maybe, if we explain we’re going on the boat, make it sound like a super fun time, he would go along with it. Because, we weren’t talking about a small pontoon boat. This was going to be a double decker cruise boat! Well, we get there and, no surprise, Sean flat out refused to get on the ship. So John stayed behind with him while the three other kids and I sadly took a two-plus hour tour around the 1000 Islands.

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But, halfway through the cruise, I learned there was snacks, soft drinks (and, more importantly, beer) on board, and we ended up making the best of it.

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We didn’t end up getting to tour Boldt Castle, since we wanted to get back to dad and Sean. I took a nice photo of it, though, while briefly docked there.

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As I mentioned, one of the reasons we headed up to New York was to meet the newest addition to our family, my niece, Wyatt.

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She’s such a beautiful baby!

I knitted a full romper set for her using the Mavis pattern, which can be found on Ravelry.

I also sewed a set of reversible bibs using a pattern I found at Things for Boys–but, sadly, I forgot to take photos of them?! I could’ve sworn I took some pictures before giving them to my sister-in-law, but I can not find photographic proof of the bibs’ existence anywhere. Oh, well! I’ll just have to make more…

…Because I have a new nephew on the way, too! (From a different sister-in-law.) So, not only will I be making new bibs, I will also be knitting up the Mavis set again, but, this time, in boy colors. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s it for part one of “What I Did on Summer Vacation.” Check back for my Hilton Head Island post, which will be posted next week.

 

 

 

Holy Cow, Holidays!

I meant to only skip a week between posts, because LIFE, but now we’re in December, and I still haven’t photographed my FINISHED Spice of Life Blanket, or posted pictures of Maggie’s FINISHED socks.

Sigh.

It’s the end of the year and I’ve literally been cramming all the doctor and dentist appointments I’ve put off to the few weeks before the kids get out of school for winter break. :/ Upside: I’m getting schtuff done. Downside: no time for ANYTHING else.ย  (As I type, I’m stealing a few moments before I have to go pick up one of kids to take to a check up. I should be starting a load of laundry.)

Our Thanksgiving was wonderful. We went to Upstate New York to visit my husbands’ family, and had lots of relaxing time.

A trip to Upstate NY is not complete until we visit Aunt Cheryl and say hello to Freya. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s not an accurate sentence. Aunt Cheryl hosts the Thanksgiving meal, so the visit was definitely not an afterthought. And, she has more than one horse, but if you’ve seen my previous pictures from her house, you’ll recognize that this is the horse that always makes sure to greet us. Such a sweet girl.

I do have picture of the finished socks I made for Maggie:

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This picture was taken in the car on the way back from NY. Underneath the socks are the completed Spice of Life Blanket. It kept my legs toasty on the trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m working on three new projects right now: 1.) a sweater for Maggie, 2.) a tree skirt (yeah, yeah, cutting a bit close on that one, since the tree is up and Christmas is just weeks away) following this pattern,ย  and 3.) a secret project I’ll share later this week. Here’s a sneak peak:

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I have more to say, and more to share, but I really need to get up and get ready to pick up Magpie.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Until next time!

A Day Late and Several Rows Short

Guys, this has been a busy week. I’ve tried to catch up on the Spicier Life CAL (and I WILL!) but I promised progress photos yesterday and I did not deliver.

My apologizes.

So, I am about three rows short of finishing part four, and I really thought I was going to knock those out last night…but I’m also reading listening to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (another thing I’m scrabbling to finish, since it’s a library check out and will be due back tomorrow), and the repetitive double and single crochets paired with the soothing British voice narrating the story made me doze off mid-row.

Sigh.

This is what I have:

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(Okay, I have three and a half rows to go.)

I’ll catch up, although, I’m getting a little nervous since it’s Friday and I haven’t even started the current week’s work. Cross your fingers, I catch up before part six (the final part) is released on Tuesday.

As for Maggie’s socks, I mentioned in my last post I ripped back to the row in which I need to start increasing for the gusset.

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Yeah, I’m still there. Although, if I just pick up this project, I’m sure the sock will just fly off the needs. I was making such quick work of it before I realized I had made a mistake, so I have no doubt, once I have the time to focus on it, it won’t take long to finish.

BUT all of that will have to wait because my house is a wreck, and I have a friend coming over tonight to watch the kids so that John and I can go to the final football game of the season. Hooray for a night out!

Also, John’s heading to a UGA game tomorrow and requested cookies to share with his friends at tailgating. So, I have that to do, too. I’m making Snickerdoodles and possibly chocolate chip cookies. (I’m going to set some aside for my wonderful friend as a thank you for babysitting. That’s an appropriate payment, right? Cookies?)

That’s all I have! I’m sorry there’s not more, but, like I said, busy week. I don’t even want to mention all the things I told myself (and other people) I’d get done, but have yet to start. Ugh. Catch up catch up catch up.

Until next time!

We’re ALL Mad Here…

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So, this isย supposed to be a progress post on the current projects I’ve been working on, but there’s been another project that’s been sucking up a lot of my time…

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Maggie’s costume.

This year she wanted to be the Mad Hatter from the live action Disney movies, and, while I was reluctant (mostly because she came up with the idea herself and, yet again, reminds me she’s growing up and has a mind of her own), once I finally started working on the costume (the day before Halloween) I enjoyed it a lot. (Technically, I started it a few days earlier, since gathering materials and mentally planning is, of course, part of costume making.)

So, here’s a quick rundown of how I transformed Mags into the Mad Hatter:

1.) I found clothes as similar at the thrift store that closely resembled M.H.’s outfit.

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Pinstripe pants, velvet blazer w/berry motif, white button-up shirt, and candy heart scarf

So, I pretty much lucked out and found everything I needed in close enough sizing at Goodwill. I actually can’t believe how easy this part was. I made a few small changes. For example, the scarf M.H. wears has donuts and pastries on it. When I saw the candy heart scarf I thought that was actually keeping very much with the spirit of Alice in Wonderland, since it was words on food. Also, the blazer is covered in berries and brambles, and I thought that, too, followed the theme well. Overall, I was VERY happy with what I could find, but, just a head’s up, with all the pieces, I ended up spending more than if I would’ve bought a costume from Target. That is OK by me, though. This wasn’t a last minute, cut-some-holes-in-a-sheet-and-call-it-a-ghost. Although…old school ghost costume wouldn’t be without some nostalgic charm…

(In addition to purchasing the above, I bought some face make-up, some remnant upholstery fabric, ribbon and a pack of wooden spools. Those while be used later.)

Step Two!:

Next, I made the hat. This took several hours, and I improvised most of it, but I loved the result.

For the hat, I winged it a little on the measurements, mainly because I forgot to measure Maggie’s head and she was at school while I was making it. Instead, I measured a baseball cap she usually wears and went off that. (Of course, the hat ended up being too big for my head and hers, but fit atop her baseball cap nicely. So, she ended up wearing the cap backwards with the top hat on top. Couldn’t see the cap, and everything turned out fine.)

I started to write out a long and lengthy tutorial on how I put the hat together, but realized I don’t have pictures of every step, and, I’m terrible at writing tutorials. I’m more of a visual learner (I scanned the interwebs for tutorials and then tried to recreate what I saw), so, if you, too, are a visual learner, please enjoy the photos above. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know how I made, comment or shoot me an email and I will try to explain it as best as I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

Third part of the costume…

…The Bandolier. In the live action movie, the Mad Hatter wears a bandolier of thread spools. By the time I got to this part of the costume, Maggie was home, and between the two of us, we made short work of this. And, it was FUN. Plus, YARN. This was a great project to use up some leftover yarn from other projects. How we did it was a dot of hot glue to secure the yarn on one side of the spool, wrapped the spool with the yarn, than added a dot on the opposite end. After the glue cool, we snipped the end, et voila. In the photos, I show a single length of yarn threaded in and out of the spools, but at the last minute I ended up having to secure it with another length of yarn after the original yarn snapped under the weight of the spools. So, if you recreate this, I suggest you double up! I also used ribbon to complete the bandolier. (The spools are only on the front. Ribbon completes the sash in the back.)

(Side note: These spools were so cute while we were making them, we’ve decided we’re going to take the bandolier apart and turn them into Christmas ornaments by adding buttons and a ribbon. When I do this, I’ll share that project and do aย proper tutorial.)

As for the rest of the costume, those pinstriped pants were cut off at the shin, we added a striped socks, and for the fingerless gloves, we took an old pair of star studded socks and cut a hole in the heel for the thumb, and cut the toes off for the rest of the fingers.

Oh, and Marcy was Elsa.

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I didn’t make her costume. Maybe next year…

So, that was our Halloween! The two older boys sat this year out, although, Aaron says he might dress up next year.

I haven’t made as much progress on the Spicier Life CAL (I’m still on part four and part five was released yesterday), and while I did make progress on Maggie’s socks, I had to rip the sock I was working on back an inch because I wasn’t paying attention to the length and overshot the row I was supposed to start the gusset. We’re back on track, though!

I will post progress pictures tomorrow. I plan on catching up on the blanket (at least, finish up part four) and share whatever progress I make on the sock.

Happy first day of November!!

I’ll Take ALL the Yarn, Please.

Maybe it’s the chill in the air, but I’ve been on a yarn binge lately. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anymore yarn without a specific project in mind for it, but…eh. Whenever I tell myself, “don’t buy it! You don’t need it!”, another voice answers, “you’re not the boss of me!” So, I bought yarn over the past week. Twice. (Take that, Responsible Inner Voice!)

Before I get to acquisitions, let’s talk projects. I have two main things I worked on over the past week. I completed part three of the Spicier Life Blanket CAL. Part four was released yesterday, but I haven’t started it, yet.

Also, as promised, I started the Picot Socks. Then, I made two mistakes, one little and one big, so I had to frog it back to the beginning, which is fine because it meant more practice on the magic cast-on, which, by the way, is the easiest thing ever! Toe-up socks have always intimidated me. I tried to make toe-ups once a loooong time ago. I didn’t make it past the cast-on. I believe it was a figure eight cast-on, but beyond that, I can’t remember anything else about that project.

But, back to these socks, the cast-on was great, and the first mistake I made was minor, so I was going to just soldier on because who would notice a teensy mistake near the toe of my sock? Then, I made a big mistake. Actually, the mistake was already made hours before when I wound the yarn into a ball. For some reason, there was a break in the yarn near the beginning of the ball. Since I had been using the magic knot in my Spicier Life Blanket, I thought, eh, no biggie. I’ll just magic knot this baby and keep going. Brilliant, right? You’re probably smarter than I am and figured out why this was a terrible idea. As I was knitting the yarn, I came across the knot I made, which ended up being the sole of the sock. Think about that for a moment. A pebble-y, hard knot under the ball of your foot.

So, my advice to anyone who will listen, do not magic knot yarn you plan on knitting socks with, unless you can be sure it will end up hidden in your cuff.

I didn’t have to frog the whole socks to fix the knot, but, by that point, the socks had two strikes against it, and my policy is two strikes–you’re out. (I know that’s not how the saying goes, but three mistakes in one sock would drive me nuts.)

So, after having started over, this is where I am with the socks:

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This is an incredibly hard color way to photograph. The yarn IS vivid, but this is “burn your retinas” bright.

So, those are the things I’m working on. Now, on to the YARN I bought.

My first acquisition (fancy talk for fancy yarn) is from Traveling Yarn, and the color way is the main reason I bought this hank: Roller Derby Queen. I made a teensy mistake of buying the luxury yarn (I failed to notice there was a drop down that let you choose between a few different fiber bases), but no biggie. Totally worth it. I bought the Cashmere Sock yarn, which is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere and 10% nylon. It’s beautiful, and I love its kickass name. I highly recommend Traveling Yarn. It was quickly processed and shipped, and a single-serving pouch of jasmine tea and several plastic stitch markers (one shown in the first picture) accompanied my order. I will definitely order from them, again!

I also checked out the new yarn store in my area. I believe the store owner said they’ve been open for 8 weeks now, but it was only last week that I found out about them, and that was because one of my Facebook friends either checked in or liked something on the business’s Facebook page. The store is called Knit, Yarn and Fiber Studio, and I hope this business thrives. If today is any indication of how busy they usually are, I’d say they have nothing to worry about. (I say this with limited knowledge about business.)

Anyhow, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve been trying not to buy yarn without a plan for it, so, while standing in the store, I pulled out my phone and visited Ravelry. Problem solved. I picked out a sweater I want to make for Maggie, then I picked out some luscious merino Malabrigo yarn…

The colorful one is calledย “Candombe,” but it should be called “Starry Night” because the colors look like they were pulled from van Gogh’s painting.

What do I plan on making with this pretty yarn? Jasseron sweater from Knitty.

In non-crafting news, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday this weekend. She turned 10, and that makes three kids I’ve guided through their first decade of life!

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She wants to be The Mad Hatter for halloween this year, and while I haven’t started her costume, I have confidence we’ll make it awesome. This was from last year:

We were very proud of ourselves last year. It was a makeup job worthy of The Walking Dead, in my totally unbiased opinion. I’d love to claim full responsibility for it’s awesomeness, but Maggie was the one who found the idea of uses Elmer’s glue and paper towels to make the skin tears on her face and knee. My artistry, though. I even made a large batch of homemade “blood.” As gruesomely cool as the costume looked, Maggie was absolutely miserable by the end of the night, since my corn syrup blood was pulling at the baby hairs on the back of her neck, and squishing between her toes. Man, it was cool looking, though!

This year’s costume will not be as…messy. She wants to look like the Johnny Depp version of the Mad Hatter, so it’ll be very stylish. I’ll post pictures.

That’s all I have for today. My goals for next week? Part four of the CAL finished and at least one sock OFF the needles and a new one on. Oh, and halloween pictures.

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Progress, People! I’ve Made Progress!

I’ve been busy. And, I’ve had a chance to relax. Most importantly, I’ve had time to finish not one, but TWO projects, freeing myself up to start new stuff.

First, A Spicier Life Blanket CAL update. Part three has been released today, but I’ve only given it a quick glance to see what stitches are in the next rows. I’m right on track and plan on starting part three a little later today. Here’s my progress so far:

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George (my youngest and largest cat), was very into the blanket while I was working on it.

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As for finished projects, I have Manon:

When I finished the sleeves, I thought the torso looked a little short, and you know what? I forgot to add the garter stitch edge at the bottom. No worries, though. I picked out the woven-in tail, undid the bind off, and added in the last few rows. So much easier than what I was going to do: pick up stitches and knit. Luckily, I looked up how to make sweaters longer and the advice I found was if the sweater is knit top down, you can just undo the bottom and continue on. I’m not as swift as I’d like to think I am, and this option never occurred to me. This is why Google is my most trusted advisor.

Yesterday I finished the Hotel of Bees Shawl. I love love love it!

 

I think I’m going to make another one using the suggested color way. Eventually…

For now (besides working on the Spicier Life Blanket) I think I’m going to cast on a pair of socks. Using this…

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For Maggie, I think. The pattern I plan on making is the Picot Socks, as seen on the first episode of The Knit Show.

In other news, Aaron’s high school band won Grand Champion at the Georgia Contest of Champions band competition. Those kids have been working so hard, and I may be a little biased (naaaawww, me?) but they put on an excellent show. Last night they participated in the county band exhibition. I wasn’t at the competition, but I did make it to the exhibition. At the end of the show I tracked him down and snagged a photo of Aaron in full uniform:

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He looks like a little toy soldier. ๐Ÿ™‚

Below are photos from the competition on Saturday (Top pic, Aaron is far right. Bottom pic, far right in the last row):

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I’m insanely proud of him and have been talking so much about him on social media, I starting to annoy myself. Eh, whatevs! He’s awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all I have for today! Hopefully, on my next post I’ll have part three of the Spicier Life Blanket complete, and a pair of socks on my needles!