Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our 2011 Goals: How We Did

I just realized that I hadn't let you know how our Goals for 2011 turned out. Here's how we did, using the Win/Fail system.
  1. Start a blog and actually use it…and let people read it. Win! (although, we don't always post stuff as regularly as we'd like to)
  2. Sell our house in NC. Fail/Half-Win. Well, it didn't sell, but we did get a renter!
  3. Get a new job in IL (Jennifer). Fail. Yeah, this is a lot harder to do around here, given the current job market in general. At least my employer doesn't seem to mind.
  4. Send our tax forms in before April. Win! They actually went out in February (we're talking about last year; this year is a different story...).
  5. Join a local church. Fail. We did find a church that we like and have become involved in it, but we just haven't actually done the whole joining thing yet. This will likely happen this year.
  6. Save more money. Win! We were planning to save our mortgage payment after selling, but since the house didn't sell, we're saving what we're getting from our rent.
  7. Exercise an average of at least 4 times a week. Colossal Win for me! I actually exercised nearly every week day (and occasionally got some exercise on the weekends) the entire year! Maybe I'll do a little post on how I did it. Ed also exercised pretty regularly, but it was easier for me, since I'm home most of the time. We also went on walks around the neighborhood, so sometimes we exercised together.
  8. Do something fun together. Win! We didn't make it to the Wisconsin Dells, but we did take ballroom dance classes together. And we went sightseeing around Rockford, which we thought was fun. And we went on a cruise!
  9. “Do” Chicago. Win! We went with Alexis when she came to visit. Still lots more to do and see, though.
  10. Pressure-can something. Fail. We did make several jams and jellies, including some new recipes, though.
So, there it is. I'd call 6.5 wins success.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Knitted Washcloth #2

The next washcloth I knitted from More Than a Dozen Dishcloths (you can read about the first one here) is the pattern called Strawberry. There are alternating columns of knit and purl stitches, as you can see. I used Lily Sugar'n Cream Twists cotton yarn in Green Twists with US size 7 needles (every pattern in the book calls for size 7 needles). Here's how it turned out:

more than a dozen dishcloths strawberry

more than a dozen dishcloths strawberry

more than a dozen dishcloths strawberry

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Early March Snow

How about a change of climate and scenery?

We haven't gotten much snow this winter. Probably less than 10 times (only counting the kind that sticks). I went out and took some photos while it was snowing last week (Friday). It was sticking to the trees and shrubs, which looked pretty.

Front yard view

Close-up of tree in front yard
It came down and accumulated pretty quickly. It definitely wasn't as much as (the dubiously named) Snowmageddon of last year, but this is how much accumulated within about three hours.

Back yard view; you can see it falling if you look at the shrubs to the left

Close-up of shrub in back yard

Nice and fluffy. Almost looks like cotton!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Holiday Cruise, Days 7-8: At Sea

We had a couple more days at sea to relax before getting back to the real world.

Of course, the next day the weather was great, so we had to go down the water slide a few more thousand times:
Cindy on the water slide
Daniel on the water slide
We had a nice view over the water later in the afternoon:

That night was our second (and final) elegant night. We got someone to take a photo of us and our servers:

It's kind of hard to tell in that photo, but I totally rocked the victory rolls that night. I wish we had more photos that show them better that I could legally put on here, but I think I would get into dangerous copyright territory if I put the professional photos on here.

On New Year's Eve, we took a galley (kitchen) tour, and Bernadette got really excited when she saw a whole bunch of Warm Chocolate Melting Cakes for that evening's dessert at dinner. It was her favorite. I think she ordered it every night.

After that, Ed Jr., Daniel, and I went to the Chocolate Extravaganza they had (it was the only one for the cruise week). 'Cause we needed more food.

And Bernadette's final Warm Chocolate Melting Cake (with an extra serving of ice cream!) that night at dinner:

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that we had a cute little towel animal on our bed each night of the cruise:

Those are just a couple. I thought it might be a little overkill to put a photo of each one on here, but you get the idea.

They couldn't put off fireworks, so at midnight, they blew the horn three times to mark the new year. The next morning, we came into the Miami port.

port of Miami
The next day, Ed and I flew back to Rockford from Orlando.

sunset above clouds
Sunset above the clouds
Well, that wraps up this series of posts for this cruise! Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Holiday Cruise, Day 6: St. Kitts

Our final stop on our cruise was the Leeward island of St. Kitts. We docked at Port Zante in Basseterre, the capital. The places circled in the map below are the places we visited while there.
Map of St. Kitts (source of original map image)
View of St. Kitts from the ship as we approached the island:

St Kitts

We took a tour of the island, stopping at a few historic and scenic sites along the way. Our first stop on our tour was Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor. Batik is the wax-resist technique of hand-dyeing designs on fabric ("batik" also refers to the decorated fabric itself). The design appears on both sides of the fabric. They had several stages of a design on display as well.

Caribelle Batik St Kitts
A completed batik

Caribelle Batik St Kitts
Wax on an unfinished batik
The gardens at Romney Manor span about 10 acres. There was a wide variety of plants, and the gardens were maintained very nicely. We easily could have spent more time there if we weren't limited to the tour time.

Romney Manor St Kitts

Romney Manor St Kitts

Brimstone Hill Fortress, also known as "The Gibraltar of the West Indies", is more than 300 years old and sits on a 40-acre hilltop 780 feet above sea level. This was the main attraction of our tour.

Looking up at Brimstone Hill Fortress from the parking area
Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Stairs leading up to the fortress (note the clever reuse of old cannons)

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Entrance to the fortress

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Fortress courtyard
There were some beautiful views from the fortress area. You can can see a neighboring island, Saba, which is to the northwest of St. Kitts, from there as well.

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Facing northwest; Saba is visible in the distance

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Facing southwest

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts
Facing east, toward Mt. Liamuiga, which is the island's tallest peak at 3,793 ft

Brimstone Hill Fortress St Kitts

Our last stop on our tour of the island was at Timothy Hill, near Frigate Bay (slightly southeast of Basseterre). There is an isthmus connecting the island mainland to a small peninsula.

Frigate Bay St Kitts
View of North Frigate Bay from Timothy Hill
Timothy Hill St Kitts
View of Atlantic side of isthmus from Timothy Hill
Timothy Hill St Kitts

Well, that's about all for St. Kitts!