Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Over The River and Through The Woods...

Off to the sugar houses we went! For those of you non-New Englanders, its flood season maple sugaring season up here and the smell coming from those sugar houses is to die for! We grabbed some friends and headed off to visit a few as part of this past weekend's NH Maple Producers Open House ...

Grant Family Pond View Maples in Weare was our first stop.

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They really knew how to welcome folks, serving up delicious maple hot dogs, maple chili and, of course, maple popcorn - and all free! They had maple cotton candy as well, but by the time we got thru the line they were out... bah!

Their magic machine and some grading samples...

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Another magic machine, drawing sap in from the lines and a stack of syrup grading kits...

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Our next stop was Windswept Maples Farm in Loudon, where we encountered some furry friends, big and small...

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Mama and her brand new twins...


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More cuteness...

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This hound greeted us at another sugar house in Loudon where his humans treated us to some vanilla ice cream drizzled with, what else... maple syrup!

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Our last stop was Folsom's Sugar House in Chester where we sampled maple BBQ sauce and maple cream.

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Some of the scenery at Folsom's...

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Sap bucket turned "planter" and the boys who managed to not hurt each other hung in there all day...

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What a fun day spent with great friends... and lots of delicious maple syrup! Of course we couldn't leave empty handed, could we? We brought home some maple cream in mini ice cream cones, maple candy, maple roasted pecans, maple sugar, maple pepper and maple BBQ sauce.

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A couple last shots from the day...

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

REVIEW: The Knit Kit 2010

The Knit Kit 2010
Where To Find:
The Knit Kit

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I reviewed the original Knit Kit a year ago (click here to read) and was a bit underwhelmed after all the hype. While it certainly served a much needed purpose in the knitting world, especially for those traveling by plane, I felt there were some improvements that could be taken for future versions. Apparently someone was listening because a year later Barbara Barry, founder and innovator of The Knit Kit, contacted me about reviewing version 2.0, or the Knit Kit 2010.

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The Knit Kit 2010 appears to be much the same as the original, except for three things: the turquoise color, addition of a darning needle and the mini crochet hook is now double ended (great for sock knitters). As with the original, a row counter, tape measure, thread cutter, folding scissors, stitch markers and point protectors are also included in the 4.75" x 3.5" x 5/8" plastic kit that reatails for $19.95 and is TSA approved. I am happy to see these improvements and love the turquoise color, but I'm still lobbying for the addition of a cable needle and needle gauge. I'd also love to see the kits made in the USA, but that's a completely different can of worms.

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Since its launch in January, 2009, The Knit Kit has made a profound mark in the knitting world. The swiss-army-like gadget can now be found in local yarn stores all across the country, as well as internationally. In fact, Ms. Barry is now closing in on $800,000 in sales (insert your own "Why didn't I think of that?" here)! She's reinvesting some of the profit back into the business and has plans to create more ingenious kits for the craft market, including quilters.

As if the admiration of the knitting community isn't enough, Martha Stewart recently discovered The Knit Kit 2010 and featured it on The Martha Stewart Show.

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Martha Stewart and Barbara Barry

If you'll be traveling by plane, The Knit Kit makes a great addition to your carry-on bag! With it's small size, The Knit Kit is also handy to toss in your purse, your car's glove compartment, your desk drawer or just about anywhere you want to stash essential notions.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

REVIEW: Tom Bihn Swift Bag

Tom Bihn: The Swift in Cork Bag
Where To Find:
Tom Bihn

TomBihnBag

As a busy, on-the-go, multitasking doggy Mom who always has several knitting projects on the needles (knitting is so not a monogamous sport), I've spent years looking for the perfect knitting bag. When the Tom Bihn Swift showed up on my doorstep for review, I knew it had found me.

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The Swift is a just-right sized tote bag (not too big, not too small) designed in collaboration with the readers of Knitty through a 2005 contest. As part of the contest, readers were asked to tell Tom what they were looking for in their dream knitting bag. After being flooded with suggestions, he designed a few prototypes which were then reviewed by the editors for tweaks before the final design was released. As for the Lapdog household, some curious noses sufficiently inspected The Swift before allowing Mommy to rely on its ability to house the precious knitting projects...

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The Swift has been available in several color combinations of both 1000 denier Cordura and 1050 denier ballistic nylon for some time and is now available in Cork fabric. What exactly is Cork fabric, you ask? It is a durable, gorgeous material made from real cork bark that holds up exceptionally well over time, though the patterns in it will deepen and become richer with age. Because of the variation in the Cork fabric, no two Swift in Cork bags will be alike. The Cork version is the one I received for review and I have to say, I adore it. The look is very unique and it goes with any outfit you could imagine. Plus, it is easy to care for and dog hair does not stick to the fabric - which of course, is a huge factor in my search for the perfect knitting bag! With four dogs (and their 16 muddy paws), easy care like being able to wipe the outside of your bag clean with a wet cloth is essential.

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Swift's spacious tote design was well thought out, allowing for easy access to what you put in - and want to take out without calling in the search hounds - the bag. Nothing is going to get lost at the bottom or in a tiny dark corner of this bag - not even the dog treats! The entire interior design has been devoted to space and organization - two more factors in finding my perfect knitting bag.

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The Swift features two large clear zippered Urethane pockets on either side that are backed with a soft Dyneema ripstop fabric. Above one of these pockets is an "o-ring" with a key snap attached - don't waste time digging for your car keys again when you're rushing off to your LYS! There are two more "o-rings," one on each end of the interior, that are designed to allow you to easily clip the included Clear Bottom Yarn Stuff Sack to either side of the bag. You can also use them to clip in any of the additional accessories that you may purchase, including an extra Yarn Stuff Sack or Clear, Padded, or Cork Organizer Pouches.

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Pictured above is the Swift in Cork with two Yarn Stuff

Sacks and two Clear Organizer Pouches.

The Clear Bottom Yarn Stuff Sack included with the Swift is made out of the same soft Dyneema rip-stop fabric that backs the clear urethane pockets of the bag. It can accommodate a large ball of working yarn or entire small projects (think sock bag). The Yarn Stuff Sack has a drawstring top and includes a snap open/close grommet through which you can feed your working yarn (a very useful feature in any small project bag). The clear urethane bottom allows you to easily see what's inside. Extra Yarn Stuff Sacks can be purchased with or without the clear bottom. I love that I can keep a few different small projects stored completely in seperate Yarn Stuff Sacks and then when its time to get going, I can just grab whichever project I want, snap it inside The Swift and be off and running in mere seconds! No more wasting precious time switching project bags or searching for the project you want with you for the day.

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The Swift is even comfortable to carry, with handles made from the highest-quality Poron foam padding. They are an ideal length for tossing over your shoulder or carrying in hand. A button closure secures the top of the bag with three different fastening points.

A final factor in finding my perfect knitting bag? Made is the USA! The Tom Bihn factory is located in Seattle, Washington. Knowing that both Tom and his Vice President, Darcy Gray have both rescued shelter dogs is just icing on the cake!

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The final verdict? Perfect in size, well designed, comfortable to carry, dog friendly and with all the wonderful custom organizational options available, The Swift in Cork is indeed my perfect knitting bag! Check one out for yourself... you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

60 Quick Knits WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of 60 Quick Knits: 20 Hats * 20 Scarves * 20 Mittens in Cascade 220!

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Random number generator has been used and the winners are.... drumroll........ Sue and Sirahal aka Tweetyiscool29. Congratulations ladies!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Finally Friday

Finally, Friday has arrived! Even if the weekend temps are going to be significantly lower than they have been all week, I'm just happy for a couple of days off! I did think spring had officially arrived earlier this week...

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... and then I awoke to snowflakes this morning. Sigh... yes, I do love New England. At least the sun is shining now...

For those of you who may be wondering where all the knitting content is lately... I'm hoping to finish the
Chevron Baby Blanket this weekend! Baby Girl will be arriving on Monday and although I'm not sure when we'll see the new parents, I want to have things ready to go!

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A few more stripe repeats, then a quick blocking and it'll be ready to wrap the new babe in!

Speaking of babies, earlier this week Miss Emma was relaxing in her Calvin Kleins that Auntie bought for her birthday (yeah, so I stole the picture from my nephew's facebook page..).

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Isn't she stinking adorable... using a stuffed piggie as a pillow and all?

Well, I hope everyone has a great weekend despite the weather. I'll leave you with some Friday Fill-Ins...

1. The right word is not always the first one that rolls off the tongue.

2. Go away and shut the door quietly, please.

3. Up is a Pixar film that I have not seen yet.

4. Someplace relaxing is where you'll find me.

5. Ooh! What is that you just said - did you seriously tell me to shut up?

6. Sometimes quitting while you're ahead is a good idea.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to knitting on the baby blanket, tomorrow my plans include hopefully checking out some sugar houses during NH Maple Producer's open house weekend and Sunday, I want to hopefully have a dryer basement than I do now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review outtakes

Happy Dogs on Thursday! For those of you who only stop by for doggy day, be sure to hop back to the Fruitables review posted earlier this week - you definitely don't want to miss it! The Lapdogs are all goo-goo over these wonderfully smelling, low calorie treats. They had so much fun reviewing them, that we have plenty of outtake photos to share today...

Zeus, the gentle giant..
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Lola and Teutul "investigating..."
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Sophie and Teutul with their eyes on the prize...

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Lola stole the Pumpkin & Banana bag...
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Sure, I used one of these in the reivew, but
there were actually two good Zeus nose-shots...
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The kids are very busy these days... watch for their reviews of Big Daddy Biscuits and new treats from Planet Dog coming soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adopt - Don't Shop!

Happy National Puppy Day!

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National Puppy Day is a special day, recognized on March 23rd annually, to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. But more importantly, it's a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills, as well as further our mission for a national of puppy-free pet stores.

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National Puppy Day was founded in 2006 by Pet Lifestyle Expert, Animal Behaviorist and Author, Colleen Paige, who is also the founder of National Dog Day and National Cat Day. This holiday, as well as others, are part of Colleen Paige's Animal Miracle Foundation & Network, a non-profit organization which offers financial assistance and educational programs ranging from pet cancer to fire safety and travel safety for kids and pets alike. AMF also hosts many wonderful holiday festivals and trade shows throughout each year and brings local shelter pets to these events hoping to find them a forever home

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ADOPT - DON'T SHOP!!!