Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized

First Week Highlights: Feb 14 – 20

Well it took the whole first week to figure out where the multiple calendars of activities/ events were, how to get them, what to do with them, where everything happens, and who’s in charge.

Favorite side trips organized by us: a visit to Tortilla Flats, a Gold Mine, Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Tortilla Flats is a privately owned oddity. It started as a stage stop in 1904. Today besides a ‘museum;, their restaurant serves yummy burgers and HOT chili while serenaded by some very accomplished country musicians. The Gold Mine is also a remnant of the old west complete with saloon, multiple little shops, a mine and the accompanying rail, and even a bordello. The Arboretum was really close, basically straight east through the Tonto National Forrest. It was amazing! They have a fantastic variety of indigenous plants. The initial motivation for the park was to provide a lab to research desert plants and their environment. The result is a great place to spend an hour or a day or two exploring the trails. I highly recommend adding this to your bucket list if you’re near Phoenix.

Resort activities: bicycle ride, swimming pool, coffee and donuts each week, pancake breakfast, the quilting room, Tai Chi, music on the patio for happy hour and an ice cream social, and Texas Hold’em.

What we didn’t do is a much longer list. Obviously, if you visit or live in a senior RV active resort, you need to focus on a couple of sports or classes for the first year, then look to expand in the future. Everyone I talk to says the first year or two is to absorb and learn the ropes. From then on, it’s as much fun as you can manage. We also have found that some RV resorts have better facilities in certain activities. For instance, one might have woodworkers, another jewelry including casting silver and lapidary, another might have gardening, stained glass, or sponsored trips. The trick is to talk with other seniors and explore other parks while you’re there.

Knitting, Uncategorized

Baby hats here, baby hats there, baby hats everywhere


Now that you’ve seen all the socks I’ve been busy with this past year, you probably are wondering what I do with my leftover sock yarn. Well, I use it for newborn baby hats. 

This is my favorite pattern. You can show off some crazy yarns plus have fun with the top knot. The best part for the baby is that there are no seams or attached pieces to pull off with miniature hands.

The photo on the right shows what the I-cord looks like before shaping the top knot. You can make a sort I-cord to form a single loop, or go crazy with three loops, or maybe even a tassle.

The photo below shows what it looks like using two different yarn colors. I do recommend staying with like type yarns but playing with color, a lot.

These nifty hats have gone to Pittsburgh, PA; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; Gig Harbor, WA; Apex, NC.



Tracy family socks 2010

Originally uploaded by Knitting In The Woods

Each year I knit socks for everyone in the family. This is sometimes quite a challenge since there are not many patterns for children’s socks. This year I did Mom and daughter’s socks using the same yarn. I used Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, ‘Denali’ in Teal. For Papa, I used Plymouth ‘Happy Feet DK’ in Camo. And for the young man who is growing like a weed and not likely to stop for some time now, I used Plymouth “Encore Sock’, DK weight color 7789. Papa and son’s pattern came from Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. There are great hints and tips in this book plus how to work with different weight yarns and how they affect the resulting size. I’ve used it for 3 years now. It is my Go To sock knitting book.
As a side note, the Denali yarn was beautiful to knit up, Happy Feet is a very sturdy yarn (excellent choice for men), and Encore Sock knit up soft and supple and quick.


Rehab a Doll House

The latest project that falls within the purview of down-sizing is finding new life for my daughters’ Fisher Price Play Family House. When we dug it out of the toy box, it was clear it had seen better days. On the other hand, it was also clear that it had been well loved.

After a discussion with my daughter who was looking into doll house options for her 3 year old, we decided that the play family house was a good choice. However, it was in need of a serious rehab effort. If you are not familiar with this doll house, the body of the house is yellow plastic with masonite floors. The siding and interior walls are papered with homey scenes. Most of these houses have lost a good deal of the wallpaper as was the case with ours. So new ‘siding’ was in order. I decided to recover the exterior and add detail with stickers:

1. I went on a search to find Contact paper to cover the exterior. I was concerned that it would be hard to find since it had been years since I last bought some. I started at our local home builder stores without success. Then on a whim, I went to Target where I happily located a display with several designs. There I located a pattern that looked like granite which would be a good background for decorating.
2. Next I had to go sticker shopping. This is not as easy as it used to be. 15 or 20 years ago it was all the rage to collect any number of stickers and put them in albums. I know because my youngest daughter did just that. I haven’t seen the same kind of mania recently but kids are frequently incorporating stickers into their art designs. Fortunately I found some cute stickers that would add some pizzazz: ivy groupings to add landscaping, sparkly flowers to nestle in the ivy, and iridescent butterflies to fly around the flowers.
3. The next step was the hardest, getting off the partially torn wallpaper. I tried olive oil (apply and let sit over night), goop off, sand paper, and scraping. None were really fantastic, but olive oil was one of the best especially a week later after it had sat a while (so be patient). My biggest recommendation is to iteratively use olive oil, then scrape, then repeat. Then move to sand paper and back to olive oil and scraping. Finish with Dawn or other good grease fighting soap and scrape off the last bit of goo. Although wallpaper remover might do the trick, I do not recommend it unless you plan to remove all the wallpaper otherwise you could loose more coverings that you want.
4. After the house was completely dry, I glued down all loose wallpaper that was still in good condition.
5. Then working with a matt knife or small box cutter and a wide ruler (such as those used in quilting so you can be sure you’re cutting perpendicular edges), starting from the bottom or ground and working up, I measured and cut out the exterior sides. Contact paper is great for this because there’s a grid on the reverse side making easy work of measuring and straight cutting. Then holding the paper up to the house, I used my fingers to crease the paper under the eaves at each end. Using this crease-line as a guide made cutting around the roof line easy work. Next I measured and marked the dormers and used the same crease technique for the eaves. Finally, I temporarily taped the Contact paper to the sides then turned the play house over and traced the outline of windows and doorways. I cut the windows a little wider than the template so they wouldn’t get rubbed on the edges. Finally, I pulled the backing away from the bottom 2 inches, placed them on the house, and worked my way up to the roof.
6. Decorating was the next step, I added ivy stickers to the bottom corners and a longer ivy sticker to the middle under the roof. I decided to let my granddaughter, Eleanor, have fun with the butterfly and flower stickers and put them where she wanted.

All in all, this project was a phenomenal success. Lessons Learned: it would look better with all exterior walls the same, but time was essential so it would be ready by Christmas.
I do have to report, that she loved it! The first thing she did was to add some butterflies, then arrange the furniture and people. Now all we have to do is set up rules for who gets to play with it (she or her brother) when and how.