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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bookmarks: Rough Country by John Sandford


I am not entirely sure how one goes about reviewing a book without giving everything away. But, gosh darn-it, I am going to try.

Rough Country by John Sandford

Rough Country is the third book in the Virgil Flowers series by mystery/thriller author John Sandford. I am an avid fan of Sandford’s work having read all of the Lucas Davenport Prey series. I look forward to each and every book I read of is.

Rough Country was no exception.

When a woman is murdered at a small town northern Minnesota resort for women, the sheriff calls upon BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) Agent Virgil Flowers to help solve the case. Using his charm and looks, he settles in amongst a variety of women who had motive to kill a marketing magnate who also happened to be a lesbian with a  penchant for young women and perhaps even some men. Is the murder connected to the resort? A country singer looking to make it big? Her band? Or is it connected to the Twin Cities and the marketing firm?

Sandford has a way with description and mannerisms that make you feel like you have lived in Minnesota your entire life. I have never visited, but I feel that if you blindfolded me and dropped me off in a town or city, I would immediately recognize it.

One of the things I love most about this series is how he seamlessly reads in characters from the Prey series. There is a continuity amongst his novels that you can really connect with and appreciate.

Again, I don’t like to give too much away, so I sort of shy away from the story and talk more about the style and how hard or easy it was to get through the book. This book was very easy to get through. There are never really any lulls in Sandford’s books. There is always action and the dialogue is on par and not extraneous. You never feel like he is just trying to fill pages to get to a specific count. Everything matters and has a place.

I am giving this book 4.5 bookmarks out of 5. The story grabbed me from the beginning and kept me turning pages. It is a quick read at 261 Nook Color pages (no idea how that translates to print or other e-book platforms). The characters are well rounded with no anomalies. You feel how tired Virgil is, you feel like you are driving through Minnesota with him, and you are never bored.

Did you read Rough Country? Was it a hit for you? Hit the comments and let me know your thoughts.

And, as always, leave me some suggestions for books to check out. I am a fan of mystery, police books, but I am always open to some other genres. I do shy away from Westerns and historical/period pieces. I am, after all, a very modern sort of girl.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WiP Wednesday: Volume 3 Issue 9


I must say that when I posted the last WiP Wednesday for January I was a bit dismayed that I didn't have much of anything that was progressing. I am a bit less dismayed as I post today's & February's last WiP post. And I am excited...but more on that later...


There hasn't been a lot of work on the Baktus in the last week, but some. At least I think I remember working on it a bit late last week.

I know I worked on this...


...and I know it doesn't look like I did! I am beginning to wonder if I A) will have enough yarn and B) am knitting a life size bear!


I sprinkled in some school work to the mix as well. This program is so full of stuff and I am just hoping that some of it starts to soak into my mind. I am hoping to clear out some time to practice, practice, practice. Oh and actually read what I am doing instead of just doing it!


Look what I found. The Hexagons live. I was doing some cleaning and found a stack of completed ones and decided that when I am in need of something quick to keep my hands and mind a little busy, these would be the perfect thing. I worked four of them up on Sunday and one last night. I forgot how addicting they are. I am closing in on one hundred hexagons. It is almost time to lay out a couple of rows and do some math!


On Monday it dawned on me that I hadn't read a book yet this month, let alone the three I was hoping to read each month and so I pulled this up on the Nook and started. I am bound and determined to finish this before Friday at 8:00 a.m. If that means that I have to down a ton of Excedrin and pull an all nighter tomorrow night, well that is what I will do. Actually, I won't but it is fun to think that I would. I have less than one hundred pages to read and after I check a few more things off my list for tonight I am doing nothing but reading and listening to hockey.


Oh, that excitement I was talking about earlier? Yeah, this weekend I took a little trip to a well kept secret in my town...our new and one and only LYS! Yes kids, we now have a small Local Yarn Store. The hours are not the most convenient for us 9-5ers, but it is still a growing business. Thankfully the local newspaper ran an article and mentioned it or I may have never known it was open!

Anyway, I ran up today after lunch to pick up something I have been wanting and wait for it...yarn for a Knit ALong. There will be more information to come and will definitely be featured in my March WiP posts. The yarn is something I have wanted to knit with, but never knew what to knit with it. I am super excited to get started. Look for a Saturday Share for more details about the store, mystery purchase, yarn and KAL pattern!

How was your week? Did you make progress? Let me know & link me up to your pages (ravelry, blog, tumblr, etc.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Time Management: The Starting Gate



How do you find the time to do all the things you want & need to do? Oh, and work a 9-5 job at the same time?

I have been trying to figure this out for several years now and I think I might be getting close to figuring it out. Or not.

I usually make my daily to do lists in the mornings, when I am fresh and thing I can take on the world. Sometime around 2:00 I stare at the clock and think all I really want to do when I get home is sit in my comfies and stare mindlessly at the t.v.. No mind bending television, nothing I have to think about. And that is usually what happens. I sit and play on the internet and watch a lot of programming that doesn’t require my brain to really process much (hockey, Dallas, Grey’s Anatomy…you get the picture). Then around 9:30, when I am thinking about being completely done for the day and thinking about the next I am so disappointed because I got nothing done. My to do list sits there mocking me, with no checks by any task other than “eat dinner”. It’s a vicious cycle that carries through to the weekend.

I can hear my mother telling me, “the less you do, the less you want to do”. She has echoed that sentiment my entire life and I always say “I know.” And I go about doing less and less.



The time has come that I need to do more. And more on top of that. I can’t continue to sit and wish things to get done. I can’t wish for more free time, because when I get free time, I nap or I tweet. Both are fine, but they are not how I want to spend my time. Well they are, but I don’t have that luxury, at least not anymore.

I am trying something new this week. A sort of rigid schedule. I have mapped out my “after hours” time to try and get done all the stuff I WANT to get done and that includes all I NEED to get done. They go hand and hand. Not to worry, I have included some much needed relaxation time.

My relaxation time is scheduled immediately upon getting home. Get it out of the way, let the day go and focus on the rest of “my” time.  After this is dinner, because that is sort of how we roll at our house. We like to get it over with so that we can enjoy what is remaining in the day.

I have figured that 15 minutes or so after dinner is good to let food kind of settle, then I plan on getting in some exercise time. I can do this AND something from my fun list of things at the same time. Fun things are watching youtube videos or reading a magazine. I hope that by including something “fun” will make it a little easier to get that exercise in each day.

I should mention that exercise will actually vary by day as sometimes I have another activity that starts around the dinner hour and if you have read me for a while, you should know that the other activity is Penguins hockey! I figure exercise is always going to be there and really doesn’t care where it gets scheduled, as long as it gets scheduled. So some days will be 5:30, some 8:30. The important thing is to get some done every day (or at least 3-4 days per week).

After exercise one of the most important things is school. I am a couple of months behind, but am trying really hard to catch up. I will not meet my expected exam date, but I am aiming to have it done by the end of May. The section I am working on now is very detail oriented and can only be done while sitting in front of my computer. So, there is no taking a book to bed to read and take notes. I have dedicated an hour at least twice per work week and unlimited time on the weekends.

After exercise and school, the rest is just fun for me stuff. Knitting, reading, television, cleaning, doing my nails. Stuff that I WANT to do, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get to it. But I still want it on my schedule and I still want to make the time to do it.

I am hoping that being a bit more rigid will help get me into a rhythm. It is not meant to last forever, it is meant to be a tool to get me into a good habit of doing more. There are days that are going to be lazy days. I am not jaded enough to think that I am going to make the most of every minute of my day. And it is a test. This may work, it may not. I just know that after two months of accomplishing nothing, I have to try whatever I can to fix the habit of doing less.

I can buy the best planning books and software. I can have fifty planners. None of it does any good if I don’t actually do the stuff that I write down.

Do you get everything done you want? Do you have a system that works? Are you overly ambitious when planning your day? How do you stay on target? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for ideas.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Share: February 23, 2013

I have a real project to share. A tiny project, but still something that is D-O-N-E!


I completed a mini sock! Last weekend when I went through my stash bins to organize them better, I stumbled upon a sock blocker and pattern that I got some time ago. I decided it was time to knit a sock.


I did as the directions said and used US 0 needles. That sock is not going to fall off on its own that's for sure. I think I should have at least bumped up to a US 1 if not a US 2 needle.


I've had the Panda Wool for a while and it is so pretty that I thought it would make a great Spring sock. Of course we are still fully entrenched in winter, complete with some fresh snow flurries today.

I also found my other sock blocker and plan on pulling out some special yarn and bigger needles and starting on that tomorrow. That is if I get all my work done!

It was so much fun to knit that I am actually thinking about knitting a pair of real socks this year. Real socks. Like, a pair, two, of the same yarn and design. I have even been looking at patterns. It's quite crazy really.

Have you knit socks? Do you enjoy it? What about minis? Share your favorite patterns and yarns in the comments section. I will be sure to take you along on my sock journey.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Favorites: Volume 1 Issue 7

I am wrapping up my knitting themed Friday Favorites today with my favorite knitting accessories.


Every knitter has their little box or bag of accessories. I didn't include scissors because I don't really have a favorite pair, whatever works well and fits in my bag is fine with me.

First up is my most favorite row counter...


I lovingly refer to these as the frog counters. They are in fact the Clover Mini Kacha-Kacha. What I love about this particular row counter is the locking mechanism. I can be sure the my stitch count won't get upped if things are banging around in my bag.

Next are my favorite darning needles...


I love my Chibi. The bent tip ones are my favorite. And I love the tube for keeping all things together. I even have my cable wrench in there.

The other needles in the photo are awesome. I loved them so much and used them so much that the "perfect" sized one broke. I am heartbroken and just can't throw it away. They were a gift from my sister and I have not been able to find them anywhere local. And by local I mean 80-120 miles away! They are perfect for those itty bitty ends you can't get to with a regular eye needle.

Next is just a regular old tape measure...


...except mine is a frog!!!!!!!! I think I got this last year for my birthday from my sister. If not last year, the year before. I love the retractable ones for the portability and organization. And that they are starting to come in such fun and cute characters.

The next item is sort of a mish mash...


A handy selection of stitch markers. For split ring markers, I prefer the locking ones over the pastel split rings that you find in a lot of craft stores. For marking the beginning or rounds and increases/decreases I have a lovely selection of the little bendy/rubbery markers. I have more of the larger size than the smaller simply because those smaller ones fall on the floor and I have a special hoover named Cooper than finds them. And yes, another cable wrench. The little case is from the fishing department at WalMart.

A knitter always needs a needle gauge...


And my favorite is from Knit Picks. I don't use the magnifier and rarely use the ruler portion, but I am always checking my needle size. Especially because I almost exclusively use KP needles and they are not "branded" with the size. At $2.99 it is a steal!

Finally we have my super special gauge


This is from KaratStix. I have had it for a few years now and I love it. I just lay my knitting flat, line it up with this 1" gauge and in a few seconds I know how many stitches/rows to the inch I have. Sure I could do it with my needle gauge, but that doesn't have penguins on it and there is no turning necessary.

You may have noticed over the last few weeks that my sister enables supplies me with a lot of knitting stuff. I was asked if I loan her out and let me just say that if I did, you could not afford the prices. She is invaluable. I am so lucky and spoiled to have a big sister like her. If I get my way and tie her down when she visits next, we will be setting up her blog! We've only been trying to do it for a few years now!

What are your favorite accessories? Am I missing something vital? Hit the comments and let me know.

Meanwhile, I am trying to come up with some new content and thinking about my next favorites. If you have something in mind....let me know. I am always open to new ideas!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WiP Wednesday: Volume 3 Issue 8


I spent a good part of Friday evening going through patterns trying to figure out what I wanted to work on. So many choices on Ravelry. It was hard to decide. I thought maybe the yarn would tell me what to knit. So I set off looking through my stash only to discover that, although it was nicely stuffed into my fabric drawers, it was a disaster. So I spent Saturday afternoon with my stash and DVR. When it was all said and done, I had a skein of yarn I don't even remember purchasing and a pattern that I didn't have to purchase.

Without further ado, I present February 20, 2013 Works in Progress


First we have the continuing saga of the Brrr Bear. I was so excited to get to that 4.5" point and start decreasing only to discover that you decrease one row and then knit another 3.5" even!


At this point I am hoping I don't run out of yarn. It would be horrible to have a bear with one arm and one leg. Or two arms and no legs! I am using Knit Picks Comfy Worsted in White. I should be okay even if I have to order as white is pretty much just white, not a lot of dye variation. I have already used one skein.

Next we have a new project.


This is a Baktus on US 5 needles (because I could not settle on a size, some used 6's some used 4's, some used 0's). US 5 seemed like a good choice because there was no way in hell I was knitting this on US 0. This is some 80 rows, so definitely a long ways to go. It was going so fast that I thought I might hit the halfway point on Monday, but suddenly guilt set in and I had to put it away and work on the bear. I could just hear him saying, "Please finish me." Little devil.

I am using that skein of yarn I don't remember purchasing. It is Cascade Heritage Paints. The color escapes me at the moment, but it is very autumnal.

Funny little story: In my quest to settle on a needle size, I thought, well I don't want it to be too short. Then I told myself, what do you care, you are not keeping it. Yes, another knit for someone else. Like I said, these are not colors that work on me. I can't wear brown at all. I'm not sure who's going to get it. Perhaps I will just hold on to it for one of those need-a-gift-quick occasions.

Finally I cast this on last night when I saw it lying in my bag. I'm not going to tell you what it is and I can't link to the project page because I have no clue what the pattern name is. I am hoping to finish it in the next couple of days and share it on Saturday.


I can tell you that this IS knit on US 0 needles.

I have a bad case of starteritis. I went from having no mojo to having an insatiable craving to cast on every pattern I see. I went on a bit of a shopping spree yesterday picking up some new patterns. So many things I want to knit, but I feel guilty because I have yet to finish any sort of major or semi-major project this year. How do I cure this affliction?

What are you working on this week? Do you ever feel like you are in a rut with WiP and find yourself casting on a new project or projects to try and pull yourself out? Hit the comments and let me know.

You can follow me on twitter where I spend a lot of time talking about some of my favorite things: hockey and a few of my favorite t.v. shows. (@ldypngn).

You can also check out my other blog: after it airs, where I give my take on the television programs I am watching.

As always if there is any topic you would like me to tackle, drop me a comment or email (ldypngn@gmail.com) and I will give it my best shot. It can be about anything except politics. I have found it wise not to discuss politics.

Happy Wednesday and may your weekend come fast and last long.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Favorites: Volume 1 Issue 6

Welcome to another Friday Favorites!

I am continuing my series on my knitting favorites and this week I bring you...


Project Bags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First things first, there are no links to the project bags because they are not for sale. Every single one of my project bags was sewn by my sister and gifted to me. Yes, I am super spoiled and I make zero apologies for it!

The first project bag is a new addition.


This monster bag was a Christmas wrapping. This is just one example of how awesome my sister is, not only does she sew these fabulous bags (all fully lined), but she uses them as wrapping paper so there is always a gift inside!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It is flannel on the outside and I think muslin on the inside (not sure it is not in front of me as I type). It is a fully zip and is perfect for a skein of sock yarn, some needles and a row counter (if needed).

Second we have...


...another newbie. This triangle bag is from a KAL/CAL that I was lucky enough to win (don't worry there is no nepotism involved, they use random generator to decide the winner). 


Currently it is housing the Brrr Bear I am working on with three balls of yarn, needles (of course) and my 
row counter.

Third, is a long-time favorite of mine...


It has spooky houses and witches and mad trees. Funny thing is she asked for the fabric either for Christmas or her birthday, which our mom got for her and then she made me this fab bag!


It is currently holding my latest cast-on (to be featured in next week's WiP Wednesday!). It is the perfect size for this fingering weight project.

Coming in next we have an all-star go to bag...


This is my skully monkey bag. I love it. I am really into skulls, and this bag is fab and reminds me of a Vera Bradley. It is the perfect size for a dishcloth, hat...


...or a few balls of sock yarn and some mitered squares!

Finally we have the ultimate project bag...


The Hold-Everything bag! I got this for my birthday either last year or the year before. It is wonderful and always by my side. I can keep a large project in here (hello blanket) or ...


...all of my project bags. I can even load in my pattern keeper and essentials kit. There is a pocket on the front that is super deep. The "white" fabric is knitting fabric so it is perfect for a knitting bag. I like to keep all my special pieces of flair on here as well since I have it around me so much.

Do you have a favorite project bag? Do you even use project bags? Hit the comments and let me know. 

Next week I am going to talk about my top go to patterns.

Is there something you would like to see on The Day Before Tomorrow? If so, let me know in the comments or email me at ldypngn@gmail.com.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WiP Wednesday: Volume 3 Issue 7

Hard to believe that come tomorrow, February is half over! Even harder to believe I have yet to complete an actual project in 2013! I don't know where my knitting mojo has gone, but I need it back, in a hurry!

I do have something new I am working on. A little dishcloth.


This is the Reversible Textured Dishcloth from Sammie Carraher and is a free download on Ravelry. It was the KAL cloth for January in the Knit & Crochet Dishcloth Swap group.

I tried my hand, as you saw last week, at the KAL for February and while I finished the knitting portion, and "bind off", it sort of didn't quite turnout. Currently it is on my desk awaiting disposition (most likely to the rag bag).

This Reversible Textured cloth is super simple and you only have to remember one row. Super easy to remember and knit while watching hockey. I am using some Lily in Mod Green. It is somewhere between a Kelly Green and a Teal (or what I consider teal). This is the same one row pattern that the Yarn Harlot had in her One Row Handspun Scarf (that I knit a few years back). It is really quite mindless.

I almost cheated last night and cast something on just so that I would have two photos today, but I was too lazy to do it. I am determined to hit my queue, pick out a pattern and some yarn before Friday and start something new.

Are you working on something new or old this week? Have you ever lost your knitting mojo? And if so, how did you get it back? Hit the comments, because I am desperate dear friends!


Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Favorites: Volume 1 Issue 5


 



Continuing with my knitting theme, this week I scrambled thought I would share a few of my favorite yarns.

First up one of my most favorite yarns...


...Sugar'n Cream by Lily. I love cotton yarn. The color range is huge and the variegated are always some of my most favorites. I heart this yarn!

Next up...


...some more cotton, only this time it is a Pima Cotton/Acrylic blend. I know what you are thinking, "acrylic"? Are you insane?" Nope! This is Knit Picks Comfy and it is the softest, drapiest yarn. I love it. I love every yarn I have ever used from Knit Picks and lately it has become my go to yarn store. The colors are rich and while the selection might not be as huge as some other lines, it is a nice collection.

Then we have...


...Cascade 220 Superwash. There is a range of colors with Cascade and the superwash is perfect for baby knits. It is considered a worsted weight, but it is a little on the light side of what I think a worsted should be. Again, though perfect for baby. The price is a consideration, but for the right project I don't mind the extra $$$. I love their Paints line as well, I just didn't have a skein on hand.

Another favorite...


...maybe not so much the brand (Koigu, which from what I have used I do love) but the weight. I love fingering weight yarns. I thought I had a skein of Knit Picks Stroll, but it was not where it should be (which is a place I am not entirely sure exists as I need to rehaul my bins). I will knit everything except a pair of socks our of fingering yarn! Although, I hope to change that this year. In any event, I love the fingering and this Koigu was prime for photos.

And finally (at least for this post)...



...another Knit Picks line. This time it is the Palette line. It is a fingering weight 100% wool that is so soft and comes in almost every solid color variation a knitter could ever need. I spent a lot of time with this yarn at the beginning of last year knitting up mini sweater ornaments and I never had any sort of discomfort or trouble finding the perfect color. I have a stash that I can't imagine I will ever use up. You get a lot out of what looks like a little ball.

What are your favorite yarns? Is there a yarn that I just MUST try? Let me know in the comments or send my an email ldypngn@gmail.com.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

WiP Wednesday: Volume 3 Issue 6


I started something new this week (well yesterday, but it's still in the window) just so I didn't have to show you plain old white stockinette.

But first, I said I would update you with the yarn and pattern for this work-in-progress







That is the beginning of the...



I have no idea where to get it. I got it in a lovely swap.

The lovely yarn is Cascade 220 Quatro. It is a lovely yarn and I don't notice an itchy content at all.

Now onto this week's just-for-you work-in-progress...


Believe it or not, that project on circular needles is a dishcloth that is supposed going to lie flat. It is the Vintage Hankie Washcloth from Simply Notable and is one of the cloths in the February KAL/CAL for the Crochet & Knit Dishcloth Exchange group on Ravelry.

I am nearing the end, the knitting is done and now I am adding the crochet border and it is taking forever! I decided to use a worsted weight yarn and sized down to a US 5 needle and opted to use (before I looked for a suitable hook) an F hook and low and behold the only one I can find is a Brittany turned wood one that is, in my opinion, extremely delicate and causing me some fits. Never mind that the yarn wants to split when crocheting with it! Grrr...I will finish it though and I vow to do it before the end of the month.

What are you working on this week? Are you finishing up WiPs or starting new things? Drop me a comment and let me know.