Sunday, December 5, 2010


So, what I found while doing NaNo is that I need to make things. NEED. Otherwise I go a bit barmy. (More than the usual amount of barminess, that is.) So here's the latest:

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A baby hat, part of a shower gift. Julie's Cabled Baby Hats is the pattern, I think.

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Another Odessa, made in silk that I dyed black.

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A Thorpe, but sans earflaps as requested.

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The Winter Sanity Swap package that I sent to my partner. The cupcake tree ornament was particularly fun to make.

Tragically, the package that I sent out originally for the Zombie Swap was lost by Canada Post. So I have been making up a replacement package. I made a Thermis cowl with Sculpey brain buttons and a set of fingerless gloves, one meant to look like bloody decomposing flesh.

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Nice, hey? I still have to send out the package, as I'm waiting on something I ordered to arrive. Epic fail, Canada Post... EPIC.

I have other FOs, but they'll be posted after the holidays. <3

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holy crap.

I did it. I wrote 50K worth of words in one month. Seriously, I'm just as shocked as you all are. So, things that I learned this NaNoWriMo session:

1) It's not possible to do this without taking days off and then writing like mad to catch up. Well, maybe it is. But not if you're married (and want to stay married) and have kids.

2) Most of what I wrote is utter pap. But there are some really very good bits in there that I'm proud of.

3) I'm not even half-way through the story. Sad as that is, it's good in another way - it means that I get to get to the good parts now.

4) It's REALLY fun to write about Vikings beheading each other. (Heh.)

5) I'm astonished that I managed to write this much. I'm stupefied that some of it is really good. I'm delighted, 'cause now I get to edit the hell out it. And maybe I'll even start thinking about getting it published. As a book. A really real book. Only thing is...I have no idea where to even start with the whole publishing gambit. Maybe I'll just finish the book first.

Anyway, even though I am acutely aware of the rampant plagiarism that plagues the InterWebz, I'm going to post the first few paragraphs of the book here, all of which are TOTALLY UNEDITED and written under the shadow of some serious sleep deprivation. Enjoy. Feel free to leave comments and criticism. I'm a big girl, and can take it. Not to mention that no matter how much someone ladles out the one's going to take away the fact that I am a bad ass writing mo-fo. Word to ya mama, indeed.


She knelt in front of the large river stone, and poured her bounty onto its smooth surface. To her dismay, a few of the hazelnuts slipped off the slick surface and bounced down the slope until they plopped into the rushing waters of the river Fane.
Displeased with herself, she frowned, set her jaw in determination and carefully set the rest of her treasures to the side of the stone, settling them in a small depression in the muddy earth. Next, she cast around until she found a small, heart-sized rock. Clutching her tool in one hand, she delicately placed a single hazelnut on the smooth river stone and smashed it with her newly prized weapon of choice.

Her deft fingers picked apart the hazelnut from the remains of the shell, and she greedily scooped the nut meat into her mouth. The summer had been cold, and there had been much hunger in her village that season. As she cheerfully chewed on the savoury treat, the remains of the shell were gently placed to her side with great care. They were soon joined by the shattered shells of other hazelnuts, and the pile grew high in short order.

The soft sunbeams of the afternoon struggled to break through the clouds that had covered the land for days. She lifted her head to their occasional warmth, grateful for the sensation that flooded the sky. She did not realize that she had been shivering, but then again, youth often forgets to feel pain. It is only the old who remember the aches of the flesh and who sigh with the weight of their burdens. The young carry all of their woes lightly, and do so without the benefit of a long memory.

The light shimmered and reflected off of the girl’s glorious hair, and the colours mirrored the shades of the dead leaves surrounding her feet. As hungry as she was, she made sure not to gorge herself on the nuts immediately. She set aside a small pile of the nuts and set herself to the task of building her mighty armada.

The next step in building her grand navy was to find twigs and leaves of the perfect size. Fortunately, the forest floor was covered with the detritus of the changing seasons. She quickly collected a small bundle of twigs and carried them in her cloak, taking care not to snag her brat on any stray points of wood. Leaves were everywhere to be found, but she wanted very specific colours for the sails of her fleet. Only the brilliant red-orange leaves that looked like flames would do for her sails, anything less would be unworthy of her efforts.

As she stepped through the dim woods, she occasionally dropped to one knee and selected a leaf. It was examined with a studied scrutiny, and was either discarded summarily or was carefully placed in the makeshift pouch she had made from a corner of her cloak. As she knelt, the chilled mud soaked into the hem of her leine, but she was wholly unaware of either the filth or the cold. The falling of the leaves into a lush blanket of skeletal feathers hardly seemed to make a difference to the earth beneath her feet. It remained as clammy as it had remained all summer.

Finally satisfied that she had collected an adequate number of masts and sails, she made her way back to her shattered shells. She sat on the turf edging the river, making sure that she tucked her feet in and that her woollen dress was wound tightly around her. It would not do to return to her home with soaking wet shoes – she had been beaten before for lesser offenses. She winced slightly at the memory, and then reapplied herself to the task set before her.

Carefully, she took one of the largest shards of hazelnut shell, and gently fixed a small twig to it using the mud of the riverbank as glue. Then, one of the flaming leaves was gently pierced twice by the twig. And with the tiniest of motions, her flagship was ready. She continued building boats, carefully selecting only the largest pieces of shell and the proudest of leafy sails.

When she had built seven boats, she gathered them in her cloak and carefully brought them down to the edge of the river. She crouched down and set her fleet gently into the water, one by one. The breeze caught the sails of the first few, and they bobbed down the river with ever increasingly unsteady gaits. At last, the largest of her boats, her flagship, her pride and joy, set sail and headed down the river. It sailed true, and to her delight, went straight to the middle of the broad river and swiftly raced along the current.

Her attention was all for the little boats cascading down the river. So much so that she did not notice the large boat that was moving upstream until its shadow enveloped her tiny fleet. When she looked up at the warship in wonder, her gaze was returned by those of thirty heavily armoured men. Most of them stared at her impassively, and continued to row. One of them, however, lifted his hand to his mouth. He pursed his lips, and raised one finger to them, indicating that she should be quiet. Her terror was such that she could not have moved from the river’s edge, even if the thought had crossed her mind.

The boat continued on its way and she watched them silently sail upriver. It was only after they had disappeared around the bend of the river that she found her feet and fled into the forest. On the boat, one of the men had notched an arrow to his bow, and was tracking the fleeing girl’s back. But the man who had warned the girl to be silent, shook his head. The arrow was lowered, and Aideen continued to run through the forest, panicked and thinking only of the need to return home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I was *this* close...

I had the last hat cast on, and somehow didn't quite get around to finishing it before November hit like a Mack truck. But I'm consoling myself with the idea that I'll have something to work on during any downtime I get from NaNoWriMo.

Speaking of which, it's going really well. After a bumpy start (and some serious miscommunication between the Mister and myself about exactly how involved I was going to be with this), I'm starting to settle into a routine. The kids are in bed and asleep by 9, generally. So, once I get myself ready (teapot full, iPod plugged in, Halloween chocolate at hand and fingerless mitts on), it's about 9:30. If I write solidly until midnight, I seem to be able to crank out about 2K worth of words in a night.

So, life continues as usual, except that instead of knitting/gaming/web surfing, I'm writing at night. To be perfectly honest, this process has been much more exhilarating than I could have imagined it to be. I'm not a dirty drafter by nature, but forcing myself to just. get. it. out. has been liberating. I certainly wouldn't say that the story is writing itself. I'm gaining characters at a breakneck speed, and am only FINALLY getting around to the original arc of the story that I intended to write. Everything so far has just been a plot device to get the characters I wanted to write about to the place where I wanted them to be. Mind you, it's a very wordy and bloody plot device...

Seriously, I don't know if I'm repressing something weird but this is easily one of the most violent stories that I've ever written. And I'm not even into the second chapter. I even have sections that aren't completed yet, as I'm having difficulty visualizing them. All it says is "BATTLE SCENE". I'm more of a linear writer - the story unfolds as it wants, so this skipping around from here to there is all new to me. Not sure that I like it, but it sure as hell is easier than scrubbing my way through a difficult section just to get it over and done with.

Wish me luck, I seem to be doing ok. Word count as of last night = 5356.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Every year, it's the same thing...

I promise myself that I'm just going to *buy* Christmas presents. And then the requests start rolling in. After seeing Mister Munchkin's battle bonnet, Miss E started asking for a "bluuooo hat" for herself. How could I resist? So I took her into the stash room (shuddup), and let her pick out a yarn. Voila, here's the resulting hat.

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Apparently, she does know the difference between blue and pink...but insists that this is a bluuuooo hat. I dunno. The inner workings of a toddler's brain are a mystery at the best of times. The pattern is the Iceland Earflap Hat, and it's knit in Pupillo, a bulky yarn from the discount area of WEBS. Why yes, I am a sucker for a bargain. Just don't ask how many balls of this stuff I have now - it's a touch embarrassing.

I've been working on another Odessa in silk for me Mum, and it's tearing up my hands something awful. *sad panda moment* Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it SOON, 'cause I still have a hat to knit for my Dad before November. Yikes. And one final hat request from the Mister...he wants a Jayne hat. So, what's that bring my hat total up to for the holidays? Eight? I think? Time to bust out the gift certificates, methinks...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And then there were four.

The orange and brown hat. Iz complete.

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Brown, orange and grey Mal in the Snowflake Hat pattern. In retrospect, I probably should have knit the brown section a little more before starting the decreases. It barely fits me, let alone someone with a larger noggin. Oh well, we'll see if the magic of blocking does the trick. But my hopes are not high...I suck at intarsia.

And now what to do with the better part of an orange skein? Anyone?

Also, it looks as if the knitlist has swelled slightly. I'm now aiming for six hats and one (more) scarf. 'Tis the season for Christmas requests...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ok, I got a little distracted...

I was supposed to be working on my four and final hat, yeah? Uhm. That didn't quite happen. But I have my reasons!

1. Maladies galore. Everyone here's been sick. First the kids, now me and the Mr. I have a sinking feeling that I'm going to have to see the doctor again to make sure that I don't have pneumonia again.

2. The fourth hat was requested in orange and brown. Oy. So, not only did I have to find a pattern that wouldn't make me nauseous to work on in the given colours, (I think I'm going to go with the Snowflake Hat), but I had to dye the yarn, as I just don't have any orange kicking around the stash. Here's the result.

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Pretty, eh?

3. Since I had to wait for the yarn to dry, I got bored and started a very quick knit of a Super-Fast, Ultra-Cozy Scarf. One night, one marathon session of Firefly, and poof, one scarf later.

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I'm working on a matching hat now, will let you know when it's done (I've frogged it already three times, having a devil of time with this one).

4. Also working on another swap - in this one, I send a kit out to my partner including pattern, yarn, project bag and anything else deemed necessary to finish the project. I'm not posting the final package until later, but I did make the project bag yesterday. (Yes, the orange yarn was dry at this point...but I was on a roll.)

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Also for the swap, I tried spinning some merino/bamboo into a bulky yarn. This one is three ply, and it's REALLY heavy and dense. I'm not entirely pleased with it, but it does the trick.

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5. I finished a big quilt. This is huge for me - it's a total mess, but I love it. However, I think I need to take a quilting class before I attempt another one.

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My machine died half-way through the quilting, so I took it in to be serviced...and once I got my machine back (great service at Marlene's Sewing Bee, fyi), I didn't feel like doing anything than free-motion quilting. So I finished it all up, screwed up the binding, and declared it done 'cause I was sick wrestling with bunches of fabric.


I guess it's on to the orange and brown. But right after I finish this other thing up...

Sunday, October 17, 2010


See, this is why I've been giggling and knitting for the past little bit...

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As you can see, he's well pleased with it. Guess what he's going as for Hallowe'en? Pattern is the Dwarven Battle Bonnet. Knit in leftover grey Malabrigo, and the hair/beard is knit from Malabrigo that I tossed into the dye pot with some chestnut dye. Just one more hat to go!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mother Maiden Crone...

Y'know, I could get used to knitting with bulky yarn. Since I posted last, I've had time to make two out of the four hats that I was aiming for. (Please excuse the blurry mirror pic...)

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Simple Slouchy Hat pattern, bulky merino/cashmere yarn. Gorgeous stuff, ordered from WEBS. (Otherwise known as Mecca.)

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Gnomey Childs Hat, in the same merino/cashmere...but since I didn't have it in the requested colour, I dyed it purple. And tossed in some skeins of Malabrigo silky merino while I had the dyepot out.

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The middle skein is the original colour of the bulky (how on earth could I resist cashmere/merino for $3 a ball, I ask you) and the skeins in the foreground are the silky merino.

At the moment, I'm plugging away on Mr. Munchkin's Hallowe'en costume. Will post pics when I can, but it's taking awhile 'cause I keep laughing myself stupid while working on it. Also, I finished off some handspun - I took it to KOL, and just got into a groove. Is pretty, yes?

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It's spun from the lovely roving that I was given in the Gods/Goddesses swap - named Mother Maiden Crone. I lurves it. Muchly.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Life isn't exciting enough...

so I decided to commit myself to something out of my ordinary. I'm going to be participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time! I have a story, characters and location all ready. Now I'm just waiting for November to roll around so that I can get started. Needless to say, you probably won't hear too much from me during that time...and Christmas knitting is going to progress at a glacial pace. I'm going to be making a minimum of four hats, and hoping to get seven done in time for gifting.

So, I'm preparing. Tea and chocolate stocked, check. Fingerless mittens to keep my hands warm late into the night, check. Writing buddies, check. (But I would always love to have more - my page is here. Feel free to add me!) I'm rushing to finish up many of the projects that I have on the needles NOW so that I'll have time to get everything I have planned done. One of those projects was an Elliot sweater.


(Yes, I need to find a new background for my photos.) Seriously modded. I was weak and couldn't face doing all the necessary stockinette. So I started a spiraling YO, K2tog pattern. And the sleeves are short...because that's all the yarn I had left after finishing the body. The sweater took two skeins of 100purewool worsted.


I nearly forgot! I received my packages from the Zombie/Apocalypse Swap! Check it out:

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I LOVE this bag.

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And the mittens? To DIE for. (Ha, get it? Zombie swap? Die? Meh, I need to get out more...)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why I will never block with an iron again...

See this?

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It's a Saroyan - gorgeous pattern, quick knit. I made it extra long so that I could use it as a scarf when Winter hits. Knit out of the same Malabrigo as the Treads mittens and the Star Crossed Beret...I was *this* close to having a real, grown-up matching set of accessories.

Then I pulled a dumb-ass move.

I don't have blocking wires of my own yet, so I thought (always a bad idea) to myself: "Hey! I can just steam iron this sucker flat!"


And here you see the consequences of my dumb-assery. I BURNED THE WOOL.

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So, now...I'm thinking of colours to dye the scarf, hat and mittens, so that the scorch marks are hidden. Black? Maybe?


I'm going to go and order a set of blocking wires from Knitpicks now...anyone else want in on the order?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

To you! And You and You and YOU!

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The kids wanted to get dressed up today in pirate gear, so I improvised a piratical costume out of stuff around the house. Mock if you will, but I must say - the sabre is pretty awesome.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Something so small...

can really be a pain. No, for once, I'm not talking about the kids. I was in the ER last Tuesday with doctors hovering above me and debating the merits of emergency surgery. One ultrasound later, they decided on a referral and sent me home at midnight. Sheesh. What the specialist concluded after much prodding and pushing was that I likely have a gallstone roaming around my innards. Going for more testing next week, and we'll see what happens next. For the time being, I'm going to try and eat SUPER healthy. Should get the little bastard out in no time flat.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of knitting time in the last week, waiting for one doctor or another. Lookit what I made!

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It's a mod to a Toddler Hat pattern. Made to match the scarf I finished earlier last week.

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Unfortunately, Miss E hates them both with the hatred of a thousand suns. Sad panda moment. So, I now have to figure out what to do with the (unused!!!!) set.

Now then...before I fell ill with my mystery malady, I made some homemade blueberry pies last week. I dearly wish that I'd picked up more (MORE MORE MORE) at William Sonoma when we were in SF. I could happily live in that store. Namely, the handheld pie makers and the madeline pans. But one thing that I was happy to purchase was the Star Wars sandwich cutters. I tried making some Millenium Falcon pies, and they turned out alright. Wouldn't do it again, but at least Miss E enjoyed helping me bake them up.

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That skirt she's wearing? The tutorial's here. Cute lil' skirt, VERY fast to make. And perfect for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is still a crafting blog, right?

Just checking.

My crafting time has mostly been taken up with swap packages as of late - I had two on the go, themed around Grimm's Fairy Tales and Apocalypse/Zombies. Even though I've not sent out both, I'll show them to you. I'm quite proud of them, they're amongst the best packages that I've ever put together.

Grimm's Fairy Tales

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Here, you can see a Star-Crossed Slouchy Hat, lots of fat quarters and remnants from the Cinderella project bag (tutorial here), A Make Your Own Slippers Kit (with pattern, Malabrigo, buttons and needles), a skein of KnitPicks Stroll in Enchanted Forest, and miscellaneous yummies. This is probably the most international package I've put together, as the books and glass boot shotglass are from Germany, the chocolate is from San Francisco, and the buttons are from my inherited button collection, likely originating in South Africa. I loved the hat so much that I made myself one too.

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Apocalypse/Zombie Swap

I made my partner a Zombie survival kit.

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There's a pair of Evangeline gauntlets, a Crazy Zauberball, Sari and Angelina fiber for spinning (my partner likes to make art yarn), seriously gross band-aids, gummy brains, a handmade brain soap, the coolest needle gauge ever (the bloody hand), and the bag, made to look somewhat post-apocalyptic.

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I added some Shaun of the Dead buttons to the outside of the bag, but forgot to get pics of them.

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Chuck Norris approved FTW.

Other projects that were finished up:

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Twinkleberry socks! Not sure I like the cuff on these - they tend to roll. But very pretty nonetheless.

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A simple pair of fingerless gloves for myself, for when the weather starts to get nippy. Silky Malabrigo, dyed by me in the Sedna colourway.

And would you like to see what the beach looks like the day before a hurricane hits?

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Pretty damn sweet. And yes, that is a X-wing fighter that Mr. Munchkin is surfing the waves on.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A lil' more Cali...

So, the Exploratorium was ... mind-blowing. Imagine an entire aircraft hangar filled to the rafters with the best, coolest, most exciting science-y stuff. (Yes, they even had a Tesla coil.)

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Honestly, I just want to post picture after picture of the exhibits that they had on display. But instead, I'll just direct you to their website, 'cause there's no way that I can morally explode your bandwidth like that. And as for *that* bridge? Meh. It's a bridge. A big, orange bridge. I don't like heights. Therefore, I'm not terribly fond of bridges by default.

The day after the bridge/Exploratium, we drove down to Carmel by the Sea, which is the closest town to where the wedding was. It's an entire city filled with little cottages that look like a village that the Grimm Brothers dreamed up while drinking absinthe.

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We were fortunate enough to stay in a cottage B&B that was not only close to the beach, but had its own working fireplace. Every single night after the wedding events, we headed back to the cottage and started a fire, often falling asleep to the pops and crackles of the flames.

Now then - about the wedding. My little brother and his beautiful bride are a gorgeous couple...but I'm not about to post pics of the wedding for the Internet's general consumption. What I *will* show you is the beautiful setting for the wedding.

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California really is stunning.

The day after the wedding was my birthday! Yay! I'm old! Seriously, I'm about due for a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. I chose to celebrate the day with a trip through the Carmel LYS (Knitting By the Sea)

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and treated myself to some gifts in the form of plush, lovely sock yarn.

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Then, off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. LOVED this place. It was absolutely packed with fellow tourists, but we managed to see the Seahorse exhibit

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and some Sea Turtles.

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We had ... an incident ... at dinner that I won't punish you with, but suffice to say that I didn't get any birthday cake. Boo.

The next day was our final one in California. We took the scenic route back, along the coast. Once again, the GPS was the source of a wonderful unplanned surprise - we decided to take a side road and found ourselves in a massive forest of Redwoods. (We took the 84 from San Gregorio, if you're wondering.) I think that if there was ever a part of California that I would like to live in, it would be this particular slice of shady heaven.

Finally, since we needed to kill some time before our flight, we went back to the Lego store in San Mateo. Best. Idea. Ever.

I really enjoyed my time in San Francisco...don't know if I left my heart there, but it sure was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lots of fish, carousels and lousy photos...

That's mostly what I saw/did in California. Not a lot of pics to be shared this time, as most of my photos were incredibly blurry. I blame the shakiness on jet lag. Yeah. That's it. Jet lag.


We flew into San Francisco and explored the town for a few days before driving down the coast to Carmel by the Sea, where my brother was getting married. SF is a great town, with an astonishing number of carousels. But it's DAMN cold there. Seriously, Iceland was warmer.

The first day we arrived, we checked into the hotel and wandered down to Pier 39. Holy cheezball tourist trap. But still, lots of fun.

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The Aquarium of the Bay was our first stop, and it was SO much fun to go through the tunnels and gape at the sharks swimming over our heads.

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As you can see, the kids enjoyed themselves too. Perhaps in different ways...but there were still many giggles. After that, we wandered up and down the pier, watched the sea lion sunning themselves (stinky!),

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ate our way through the wharf, watched a pirate magic show, and the kids had their first ride on a carousel. After that, we crashed at the hotel. We were staying on Fisherman's Wharf, and the view was stunning.

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Though, just looking at Alcatraz gave me the willies, day or night.

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There's some seriously bad vibes coming out of that place.

The next day we visited Golden Gate Park, and the California Academy of Sciences.

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I think that this was my favourite of the aquarium/museums that we visited. It was AMAZING. Highly recommend it if you're in SF, above all other options.

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Honestly, we could have stayed there all day and night.

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Here are some of the denizens of the Academy:

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and after we left the Academy, guess what we found? An awesome playground, complete with carousel.

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Next post, the Exploratorium and *that* bridge.