It's a girl!!

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Virginia Frances

Born May 2, 2016, at home; 8 lbs., 21"

Healthy and gorgeous...

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Just like her mama!

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 And her great great grandmother and one of her namesakes, Virginia!

LOVE.


April Birthdays!

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April is a busy month for birthdays around here, from beginning to end! This is us on Monday night at Belts' Soft Serve in Stevens Point, after celebrating Kate's (4/22), Ali's (4/16), and Maddy's (4/25) birthdays with a family dinner at Mikey's in Plover.

It's actually a composite of THREE photos, because the youngest  of the group wasn't in the mood and the second-from-eldest was making (even) goofier faces, and there were various eye closures, etc.! Heh.

Two cousins already had birthdays this month (both on 4/1), as did an aunt (4/16). My uncle's 82nd birthday would have been (4/17).

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And my granddad's 106th today!!

A nephew's is still to come (4/29).

And my new grandbaby still has time to make the cut!! His mama would love nothing more... IT'S PINS & NEEDLES TIME!

 


Right now: ??

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Anticipating... Rites of Spring Fiber Frolic - a tour of yarn shops, fiber farms, coffee shops & cafes in NE Wisconsin. Make.Do and KC&T are on the map!

Locations

It'll be a fun few days... lambs, yarn, trunk shows, classes, tons of door prizes! And it could be even more fun & exciting with BFF's daughter's bridal shower and a new grandbaby's due date in the mix!! We'll see how it goes...

Celebrating... April Birthdays!!!

Drinking... G&T, the occasional IPA -- so many to choose from these days!

Eating... I've reinstated my subscription to Plated, and was sent an invitation to try Blue Apron, so have had a few deliveries lately and a lot of fun cooking -- samosas, chicken, salmon, meatballs, catfish. Yum.

Enjoying... finally, some summer-like weather!

Wearing... Sandals. Yay!

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Itching... to PLAY WITH ALL THIS FABRIC. At the end of January, a "friend" from Utah shared an ad on FB by someone out there who was selling many yards of Alabama Chanin cotton jersey. My "friend" was even willing to pick it up and ship it to me. It was all just too good to pass up, so arrangements made, money transferred, parcels packed and posted, and voila! I have a ton more fabric to play with -- quite a few colors, many that I'd likely never order (minimums) but I'm happy to have/see/play with in person. My little color swatch cards are great, but there's a huge difference when you actually have enough fabric to hold and squeeze and see in so many more ways.

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Sewing... my Alabama Chanin skirt. I'm closing in on the quilting of the third panel. I am considering starting the fourth right away and possibly not cutting those two pieces (which would be the back of the skirt) -- at least not right away. I don't know... it's been a design-as-you-go project from Day 1, subject to whim!

Knitting... because of the concentrated effort on sewing, the knitting has stalled. (Where has all the free time gone?)

  • LOLA is underway, and I'm looking forward to getting back to it. In the meantime, digging through a bin of WIPs (a small bin), I discovered that I've had more of the Tsumugi silk all along, in the exact colorway!
  • Romi's Mystery Shawl is also underway, but late one night I pulled the needle out of a few stitches at the end of a row and I haven't yet returned.
  • I never got started on the Healthy Knitter KAL.

Listening... to The Golem and The Jinni. I had borrowed it on Overdrive, but holy cow it's a long book! The reading is lovely, but quite slow... combined with not a lot of listening time, I was barely past the quarter-mark when it was due! I even sped it up a bit. I was unable to renew it right away, so had to put it on hold again... not a fan of this aspect of Overdrive! I recently signed up for Audible, though, and used this month's credit for that book, so I should be safe. (I've still sped up the reading just a tad, even though I now have all the time in the world.)

Reading... The Whole Fromage. The author is a native of Wisconsin... so knows a little bit about cheese! I'd given this book to my mother a few years ago, but I don't think she ever read it.

Needing... to CLEAN UP & ORGANIZE! I know I say it at least once or twice a year: MY WORKROOM IS A DISASTER! It is worse than ever and I can't even imagine when I'm going to get to it. (Where has all the free time gone?)

Planning... June. Three weddings, three weekends in a row! And the start of our Farmer Market season (which, given new baby & etc., may take a June hiatus).

Watching... On deck: Shetland S1 and S2!

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Wondering... Whether I'll have reason to use any of these patterns in the next few years. A couple were my ;)

Shocked... To open my browser this afternoon, only to be confronted with the news of Prince's death. RIP. Man... what a year, too many gone.


Ten on Tuesday: LP Edition

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Albums that I Love

These are among the albums that come to mind when nothing else is cutting it. They're comfortable, familiar, meaningful, and/or transportational -- in that they "take me" to a time or place where I find happiness or contentment, or just wanna ROCK OUT.

1 - Twin Sons of Different Mothers - Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg

Buckingham-nicks

2 - Buckingham Nicks - Lindsay Buckingham & Stevie Nicks

3 - Flirtin' With Disaster - Molly Hatchet

4 - Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens

5 - Damn The Torpedoes - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

 

6 - Jesus Christ Superstar (or Jesus Christ Superstar) (they're different!)

7 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

8 - Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel

9 - Songbird - Eva Cassidy

10 - Stardust - Willie Nelson

What's on your turntable?


Weekending: Kohler

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It's almost embarrassing to admit that I've never visited the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan before. That wrong was made right on Saturday.

Our first stop was the restroom:

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I've been known to take photos in the bathroom, but usually not of the bathroom. The name KOHLER + the word ART definitely puts a different spin on the subject. 

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These photos were all taken in the same bathroom, but I popped my head into ALL of them! Amazing.

The main event was Wisconsin Wild and Tame.

From Mary Nohl's Art Environment...

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To David R. Harper:

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To Jessica Calderwood and Debbie Kupinsky:

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To the Super Natural:

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It was... super!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing stuff like this:

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When Ali brought him over yesterday, he clung to her for a bit and then reached over to me after a few minutes. Soon, he was pushing his mum out the back door, waving and saying "BYE!," firmly closing the door behind her! Hilarious!!

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Sand & trucks at his house, sidewalk chalk at mine. He helped Grampa with some yard work, and also chased cats around the yard (two of ours + one of the neighbor's), asking, "WHAT YOU DOING?"

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My other big accomplishment was getting our home network figured out (again and, hopefully, for good) so we could continue watching Hinterland on Netflix! It was so aggravating on Saturday night, wanting to watch but TiVo telling me that there was no internet. TWC recently sent us a new modem and... yeah. I narrowed it down to a possible problem with our old hub -- at least I hoped -- so I ran to Best Buy for a new switch yesterday and, voila, back on track!

WHAT YOU DOING?


The Power of TACOS (and The Internet)

No internet for half the day during an office move, with messages from "beyond" like I've never seen before, is one legitimate reason for having a shitty day today.

Another very legitimate reason would be this:

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It is April 8th... WTF?

But I was NOT having a shitty day. I was having NO PART OF THAT!

I was looking forward to tacos, a fundraiser that Kate held this evening in support of Black Mountain School.

OMG, TACOS!  I haven't had tacos in years -- possibly a dozen (or even more, considering that my youngest will soon be 25)! My hankering for a hard-shell taco has been steadily growing for  weeks!!

The internet issues were finally solved with a new modem/router (no thanks, really, to A T & T). And I made good progress in moving from temporary digs to a swanky new (not quite finished but well on the way) office area with storage and cabinetry the likes of which I never dared dream... all of which makes me quite happy.

And a taco for lunch! My friend & co-worker experiencing increased stress lately (for various reasons) possibly didn't quite hear me when I said that I was having tacos for dinner tonight, instead, apparently, subconsciously registering "TACOS" and bringing them for everyone at lunchtime today!

At peak hankering, I could not resist one (but did manage to resist the offer of a second...).

The snow might have put a damper on attendance at tonight's fundraiser, but the money raised is nothing to scoff at! The tacos were just as expected and quite satisfying, the beer was delicious and cold, and the company and conversation, with friends new and old, was quite lively and fun.

And so, the power of tacos (twice in one day!), restored internet, friends & good conversation... and swanky new digs.

Happy weekend, y'all!


Cheerio

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We still have Cheerio time! Lately, it involves getting out the "nilk" and a bowl, and two boxes of cereal from the cupboard. He then eats a bowl or two of Crispix, drinking the extra milk straight from the bowl or with a straw. Sometimes we don't even open the box of Cheerios!

Photography gets trickier and trickier!


Weekending

I lunched & shopped & hung out with my sister on Saturday.

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On Sunday, I FINISHED OUR TAXES (was finished with them, at any rate)! I also finished some overdue newborn photo work.

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There are some major ch-ch-ch-changes happening at my workplace! Work has been going on for a while now, but is only directly affecting my space as of today. It's like working in a beehive around here! I hope to be nicely settling into the reworked/rearranged space by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.


Sewing and Knitting and Cooking and Sky-watching

SEWING

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Oh.My.Word. I am so in love with this Alabama Chanin swing skirt project!

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I don't remember whether I mentioned it here, but I was SHOCKED when I opened my kit and found Burgundy & Dark Grey (exactly what I ordered) instead of Dark Grey & Dove (which is what I was going to order right up 'til the last minute, when I daringly changed my mind).

There was nothing to do but DO, which is exactly what I did... not only is it a work-in-progress, it is also a design-in-progress. 

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One thing's for sure: these colors are working for me!!

KNITTING

Well. I finished a pair of Dimorphous Mittens a while back (except for buttons), and still have my Scoreboard Cowl to finish, but hadn't been too inspired to knit much lately (or have been more inspired to sew). But now...

  • I am well underway with Romi's Mystery Shawl 2016. I had to find & fix a little mistake at the end of Clue 2 last night (employing all the stitch markers) to keep on track!
  • Casting on of LOLA is imminent! I will be knitting this sweater in pieces, and beginning with a provisional cast-on (keeping options open... because designing as I go seems to be A Thing). All the materials are gathered and I'm finally ready to go!

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  • I'm not sure where Werifesteria will fit in, but it's not the knitting that I'm most interested in at this point, anyway. This is the second mystery Knit-Along/Walk-Along presented by Christina Campbell and I thoroughly enjoyed both aspects of the first. A March Through Time is probably my most-worn winter knit this year! Mostly, though, I am interested in the motivation to get out and walk this spring. Let's go!! (By the way, this KAL/WAL begins tomorrow! It is automatically 20% off through 3/31 -- that's today!)

COOKING (and Eating)

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Beef & Lamb Meatballs over Green Pea Risotto a la Plated. Yum. Our box also held the ingredients for a wonderful skillet-roasted chicken with some fennel and potatoes. I was a bit unsure about the new subscription plans, so have sat out deliveries for a bit, but decided to get back in; I am in charge and can skip whenever I like (such as the next two weeks, for various reasons) or even suspend deliveries for a lengthier period of time, but I really do enjoy not having to think about what I'm going to cook sometimes -- or even having to shop for it! Plus, I get to try new things or prep methods and have reasonable assurance that it's all going to turn out fine great. I have a few  invitations available (up to $72 off with subscription); if you're interested in trying Plated yourself, let me know and I'll send you an email invite!

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I ordered Fish Tacos at Houdini's Escape Gastropub at 5th Tuesday Knit Night; also in the frame are pub fries, a grilled veggie sandwich, and tortellini with portabello mushroom. Also yum. I really need to expand my horizons beyond the tacos at this establishment, but... SO GOOD!

SKY-WATCHING

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 18, 2016

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 22, 2016

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Arriving at work - view to the east - March 29, 2016

The weather has been decidedly chilly, dreary, gray, and wet and looks to be that way for a while (perhaps even some snowflakes flying), so I'll just park these photos here so I can easily visit until nice weather returns.


Ten on Tuesday: Outside

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Love To Do Outside

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1 - Hanging laundry on the line. My die-hard brother-in-law does it year-round, but I just can't... it's one of my favorite things in the world, though.

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2 - Ride my bike. I've been slackin' the past few years. Aiming higher...

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3 - Soak up the sun/daydream/watch my back yard world go by from the porch/deck/pergola.

4 - Eat & drink on the porch/deck/pergola.

6 - Knit & sew on the porch/deck/pergola.

6 - Read on the porch/deck/pergola.

7 - Take a walk.

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8 - Do a little gardening/yard work now and then.

9 - Dyeing/Stenciling. At this point, much of that work is better accomplished outside where there's more room (and less stuff to be careful about accidentally dyeing).

10 - Putzing. There's no better place to putz than outside on a warm sunny day. It's like heaven.


Weekending: Easter +/-

Thursday:

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Thankfully, we didn't get as much as we could have (or as much as those a bit to the north of us got), but combined with the slippery roadways and high wind, it was enough to call it a very welcome SNOW DAY!

Friday:

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Rusty called from the vet on Friday morning with GOOD NEWS! Our lovely Roxie had been diagnosed with cancer of the mouth a couple of months ago; she'd lost an incredible amount of weight and was losing fur like crazy. Cancer treatment was expensive and results (length/quality of life) highly questionable; instead, we changed her food to something easier for her, considered her in "kitty hospice," and have kept a keen watch. Since then, she's maintained her weight (within .2 lb.), still loses fur but not as bad (I'd bought a stick vac to keep up!), and has continued to be her sweet little self! (Junah loves her... calls her "Rock-keys.") Recently, she seemed to be slightly more bothered about her mouth, and it seemed a good idea to get a read... we prepared for the worst. Turns out, the "fast-spreading cancer" had not spread at all; so, said the vet, perhaps it's not cancer but a bad infection instead! No question, we decided to try the steroid/antibiotic combo and she already seems to be improving. Please think good kittie thoughts!!

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Friday evening: Duodenum Live Performance at the Young Space "Remote View" pop-up show in Green Bay. (Everything I do, I do it for YOU!) What a hoot.

Saturday:

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I hung out with this kid for a while in the morning, playing with balls and blocks and cars & trucks of all sizes.

After that, I stopped in at a local library to do a little stitching with some crafty friends for an hour before heading to the grocery store. Um, yeah... Saturday afternoon before a gigantic holiday. Truthfully, I rather enjoy the excited energy of the grocery store on days like that. I had a thorough and organized list and the store was well staffed, so it was relatively painless.

Sunday:

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New traditions? Maybe... something(s) new, at any rate. Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake and Veggie Lasagna, recipe compliments of our friend TJ, were on the menu yesterday. That cake recipe has been on my list forever, and I'm sure it was one of the first things I ever pinned on Pinterest. TJ made the lasagna for dinner on our last night in Portland, and it was fabulous, plus, you've just gotta love a recipe that starts with "eyeball your vegetables"!

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The lasagna was nearly demolished... it was so delicious!! And the cake was half-gone before I thought to take a photo. I didn't have the size/type of pan, so there was some spilling over of batter that burned on the bottom of the oven, and my frosting turned out a bit thinner that I'd have liked, but none of that really mattered. It was so good!!

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I completed stitching on the second panel of my Alabama Chanin skirt! I'm looking forward to cutting both panels, and prepping the last two panels. I'm hoping to have this skirt finished by May 7th so I can wear it to Rosanne Cash's concert!

Lately:

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Timehop has been very good with the reminders of late!! I can't believe that our amazing trip to England-Scotland-Wales was 5 years ago.

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Craftsy - 1200x627_gallery_knitting

Sale ends tonight!


I went to Oregon (Part 4: Old Home, The End)

Completely unplanned, we ended up doing at least a drive-by of every place I'd lived during my 4+/- years in Oregon.

My first residence was a tiny furnished house, rented for me by my dad & his wife, on Latimer Road in Tillamook. It was super cute -- part of a little complex of tiny houses connected by shared carports. I especially loved the spacious kitchen there. The place hadn't changed a bit!

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View toward Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda.

When I met him, Rusty was living in his house at Cape Kiwanda but working in Tillamook. As we began to spend more time together, we decided to rent a house in Tillamook. Pickings were very slim, but we found a small house on First Street. It had been abandoned by previous tenants and the power had been shut off... with food in the fridge... for months. I don't remember much about the landlord situation, but I'm sure that Rusty negotiated the rent wherein we got rid of the ghastliness in the fridge and did some other cleaning & fixing up. I remember turning one of the two bedrooms into a huge closet (as neither bedroom had any other type of closet), and the small-ish kitchen had wooden countertops. That house hadn't changed a bit, either!

After a little while, having two places got to be a drag and we decided the drive wasn't all that bad (unless stuck behind a motorhome or eight), so gave up the First Street house and moved to Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City. As we worked at doing some adding on and finishing, I discovered that I was pregnant! That house had been built for one person and the addition helped for two, but adding a baby to the mix... just wasn't going to work!

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Near the beach, Cape Meares.

We sold that house and bought one at Cape Meares, but first... homeless for a month between closings, we rented a small unit at the Terimore Motel in Netarts. We were able to move most of our belongings into the house, but I decided to stash the basinette and a few baby things in the closet at the motel. Good thing!

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NOW and THEN.

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SAME yet DIFFERENT. Close but NO CIGAR!

Clearly, we don't remember exactly which unit we lived in. I was going to say that this place hasn't changed a bit, either (and I'll bet it hasn't!). Both Rusty and I have made this mistake... I think our unit was actually behind this one! Ha.

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Effects of prevailing wind (at Cape Meares State Park).

Finally, when Kate was about a week old we moved to a nice little house on Meares Ave NW, Cape Meares. We did a lot of work there, too, including replacing the deck, painting the exterior, and building a driveway/patio and enclosed porch. The house is completely unrecognizable now with a second-story addition!

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Gorgeous ocean view from Cape Meares State Park.

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The Octopus Tree.

We had a nice visit with my dad and his wife while we were in Tillamook, and with my cousin Gordy and cousin-in-law John who were out from MN to do some steelhead fishing.

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On Sunday, we headed inland...

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We stopped near Salem for a lunch date with Rusty's ex-wife, her husband, and a few of their friends. This is a view from the living room -- there are sheep out there -- you can't see them, but I know they're there (beyond the little building, just behind the hedgerow).

Finally, to Portland for dinner* & overnight with our good friend TJ and her husband Les. We had such a good visit with them and our friend Bill -- it was so great to see them/hug them in person!

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Fly away home. New PDX carpeting.

*I'm making TJ's yummy & not-too-soupy veggie lasagna recipe for Easter!

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Craftsy - 1200x627_gallery_knitting


I went to Oregon (Part 3)

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Compared to Shore Acres, the ocean scene at our little cottage just south of Yachats was quite serene! It was just after sunset, but still a lovely glow in the west.

Our northerly trek along the coast continued the next day, though at a more leisurely pace. We stopped in Newport and took a walk along the boardwalk and bayfront.

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The unmistakable sound of sea lions reverberated throughout. We could see them along some rocks out in the harbor, and then discovered a large (noisy) gr0up right at a small pier.

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 This is just a small sampling of the many murals of all sizes and ages that we saw.

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We eventually made it to our Airbnb lodging just south of Pacific City, where we plunked down for two nights. We couldn't have asked for better -- up a hill and with a command view of a wild ocean and dramatic, ever-changing sky -- and we loved the different view of Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda.

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We'd barely landed before we were off to do a little peekin' (and maybe even a little trespassing) at the house that Rusty built (ca. 1983) and that I helped to enlarge & finish (ca. 1984) and where we were married (in 1985). A lot has changed in 31 years. We weren't able to check out the house from the inside (we tried!).

We used to have a terrific view of Haystack Rock from the kitchen & bedroom windows at that house... but no more! There are so many more houses (and they're so close!).

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A photo app on my phone stitched together this awesome pano (with wavy ocean) from some photos that I took at the beach near the cape. That's Rusty at water's edge.


I went to Oregon (Part Yarn... um 2)

Arguably, there are more yarn stores per capita in Portland, OR, than any other U.S. city, but I knew that I wouldn't have time during my trip to visit even one! So I did a little research and made a short list of coastal shops.

My Yarn Shop - Coos Bay, OR

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Unfortunately, I wasn't able to shop at this store. The lights were on and OPEN sign was lit, but the door was locked and there was a "Will Return at 4:30" sign in the window... it was 4:45, closing was posted as 5:00, and we didn't have time to wait (time to shop, yeah, but not to wait). I tried the door a few times, and then once or twice more (I really wanted in), before we moved on. I include it because it looked like a great shop!

Yarn For All Seasons - Newport, OR

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This one was a little trickier to find, tucked into a larger tourist-y shopping center, and the GPS pin was just a bit off. It was worth finding!

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Twisted Sisters "Happy Kids" yarn + onesie: There's a baby on the way!

Noro Silk Garden: for an entrelac scarf (the one I made for Mom in similar colorway has never turned up). My LYS doesn't carry Noro yarns anymore (supply chain frustrations), but I'm hopeful that they will again.

Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails: I wanted them ALL!

In The Wind Yarns - Lincoln City, OR (Gleneden Beach)

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This is a lovely shop, located right across from Salishan. The shop owner was working on a shawl by French designer Cailliau Berangere called Bryum -- it was at least the third or fourth she'd done, all in different combos -- and I fell in love!

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I bought some Noro Silk Garden Sock and Malabrigo Sock for the task.

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PDX shops are on the list for our next visit!


First Day of Spring!!

Spring

I found a little spring on the West Coast last week. Sadly, no photos of the flowering trees that I saw now and then, nor of rhodies. The only other place I've seen rhododendrons so marvelous and huge was in Ohio when we visited Sharon there once. We had a giant red rhodie outside our house at Cape Meares back in the day. Gorgeous.

The 1st Day of Spring means it's the anniversary of the blog! Twelve years ago, I typed some words and hit "publish now." Since then, I've written 2850 posts and received nearly 25,000 comments.

Various pages hereon have been viewed over 1,050,000 times, mostly from within the U.S., but also from Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany, France, Netherlands, Japan, and Norway. People land here by searching for "knitorious," "roasted tomato sauce," "red are strawberries song," and "Alabama Chanin." They also land here from other blogs, such as Mason Dixon Knitting, ZeneedleCarole Knits, and January One; from blog readers and other sources such as Feedly, Bloglovin', Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and more.

Blogland certainly has changed in 12 years!!

I've changed, too. I quit smoking (11 years as of last Thursday), my kids have grown up; I became and aunt again (x2), a mother-in-law and a grandmother; and I've lost loved ones, including my mother, sister, grandmother, uncles and cousins.

I've knit like crazy, sewn as I never dreamed I would, dyed yarn & fabric, and even made a quilt with my daughter (and started another on my own).

I've traveled! Often within WI and the U.S., twice to U.K., to Mexico, and even to Brazil. I've had the craziest good times meeting up with other knitters/friends in various places.

Mostly, I feel that I've been empowered by blogging (reading blogs as much as writing a blog) to explore more, to be more adventurous -- it comes from here, a knitting blog, but spills into all areas of my life.

Though I've been a bit scarce of late, it's sure been fun! We'll see how Lucky 13 turns out!!

Thanks for reading and dropping a line now and then.  ;)

P.S. Though I haven't been doing much knitting lately, either... it's SPRING and that means time for Romi's Mystery Shawl! The first clue was released last Friday and, while I have my pattern, I still haven't decided on yarn... but I will. Also, still planning my Habu boxy top!


I went to Oregon (Part 1)

I flew out to Arcata, CA, a week ago to meet Rusty and accompany him on the last leg of his West Coast trip before he turned the car for home.

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I arrived on Wednesday evening, and we hit the road on Thursday morning.

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First stop, though, was the World's Largest Totem Pole (not tallest) in McKinleyville, CA.

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Second stop was breakfast at the Seascape Restaurant & Pier at Trinidad; Rusty's mother used to like this place and there's an old photo of her standing by a whale-shaped sign that pointed the way. We happened to be among the first customers to enjoy first-ever major renovations! It was pretty spiffy, and the staff was giddy.

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We also visited the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse.

Our destination by day's end was Yachats, OR -- 5.5 hours away -- and lots to see along the way!

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Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at Trees of Mystery, Klamath, CA! There are a few Paul Bunyans in WI and I just had to see this one (plus, it was right on the way).

I was expecting nothing but gray skies and rain on this trip, so imagine my delight at this:

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I even had to wear sunglasses!

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It was wonderful! The sky & clouds were ever changing, even when it was raining. Sometimes we'd experience all the weather in a very short timespan/distance.

One of our favorite stops -- and Must See on Rusty's list, especially since there was surf -- was Shore Acres State Park at Coos Bay.

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It was dramatic, moody, broody, amazing, and utterly gorgeous! Those rocks -- the angle of those rock ledges jutting toward the sea, and other formations -- blows my mind.

We stopped in Florence, too. Rusty's dad is considering a fishing/canning operation there. It's a cute and historic town, with lots of fishing and shopping -- and antiques! I didn't recall that there were so many antique shops/malls along the coast.

We finally made it to our cozy cottage near Yachats just as the sun went down, and then went in search of dinner. I highly recommend Luna Sea Fish House if you're ever there -- the food was great, the service spectacular! We were lucky to nab one of the last servings of marionberry cobbler. Mmmm.

To be continued.


Weekending: A Week Behind!

I don't know how that happened... there's a lot of juggling going on around here, though, so let's chalk it up to that.

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I just love the body language in this photo. We have three kitties at our house -- and all three are pretty good at avoiding Junah! He gets so excited when he sees one, though, and Roxie is (always has been) the most tolerant of young children. (Also, wearing Grandpa's hat! He put it on and started to say, "Buh-ba? Buh-ba?")

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One thing led to another on the weekend-before-last, and pretty soon a few hours on a Saturday afternoon at Nona's house turned into a sleep-over with a bonus trip up to Annie's for a visit with the boys and Sunday brunch!

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Good (very early for a Sunday) morning with epic bed-head (the boy needs a haircut soon)!! It was our first sleep-over in about a year, and it went very well.

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Patience for photos with the cousins... not so much. The boys were so excited, though! First they built a fort on their bunkbeds and when Junah wasn't terribly interested, they moved the whole production into the living room. He's still just a bit too young for that type of play... I doubt it'll be long, though.

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Since I was in possession of our Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt kits, there may have been an ulterior motive behind my invitation to brunch! I had even started stitching on mine. Annie's is ochre-on-ochre and that color is DIVINE! Last we spoke, her plan had changed to reverse applique over most of the skirt, with couching on the bottom 6" or so. Whatever she does, it's going to be fabulous!

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It was fun to do some stitching with my sis!!

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Even though I'd practiced the negative reverse applique technique on my swatch, I couldn't wait to see how it was going to look with the actual fabric & colors that I'm using for the skirt. I haven't cut any more than that but am stitching everyday and getting closer to finishing that panel. So exciting!

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I'm also continuing my consultation with Ina Braun regarding my LOLA sweater... measurements, gauge swatch, design elements... we're getting close! My short trip to CA/OR begins on Wednesday and I hope to bring this along as my knitting project. Of course, I'll bring sewing, too.


My Kind of Town Chicago Is

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Way back before Christmas, it was decided that while Rusty was traipsing around the west coast, we'd have a girls' weekend in Chicago. Maddy's never been with us on previous trips, and we all looked forward to a fun few days together. We put our heads together and came up with a pre-baby, pre-spring-craziness date that would work for all of us and booked an Airbnb 44th-floor corner apartment with FABULOUS views of Chicago, including Marina City and Sears Tower, and within walking distance of everyplace we'd want to be. (I know it's not called that anymore, but I can never remember... Sears Tower it will always be to me.)

Two weeks ago tomorrow, we hit the road and pointed south. Arriving just after noon, we parked the car and headed off for lunch at The Purple Pig. There's only one time since we first discovered that restaurant that we haven't eaten there -- we love it, and it's definitely a treat!

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The weather was fantastic!

We checked into our apartment after lunch and then hit a couple of shopping spots that the girls like -- Nordstrom Rack, TJMaxx, etc. We stopped at Eataly on the way home and stocked up on meats, cheeses, bread, olives and beverages, and had a relaxing night in on Friday night. We've watched (and anticipated) Eataly in Chicago for a while now and it did not disappoint. Next time, we'll definitely have a meal there! Shopping was a real treat with so many terrific choices.

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Selfie City @ Cloudgate!

On Saturday morning, we walked through Millennium Park on our way to the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the big draws at AIC was the Van Gogh's Bedrooms exhibit (and not just us, the exhibit is drawing record-setting crowds!).

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There was a lot to see, and I'm sure we didn't see half of it.

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It was fascinating (if a bit crowded) to see the paintings together, of course. Ali posted the comparison, above, on Instagram; and there was a great video as part of the exhibit that zoomed in to the same place on each painting at once to closely compare the differences in each. Those paintings are "all the same" and yet so very, very different.

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Apparently Vincent kept a small red lacquered box full of wool (replica, above) that he used to play around with color while he worked.

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We were also very excited to see The New Contemporary.

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It's a wonderful exhibit! I was apparently quite focused on color and texture as presented by Mark Rothko, Joan Snyder, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg (sock!). Ha.

Kate also wrote about our visit to AIC on the Young Space blog, if you're interested. (And more pictures!)

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See? Beautiful weather!!

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We lunched and shopped our way back to the apartment, then walked to Cantina Laredo for a lovely dinner. There was a selection of menus in the apartment's welcome binder and this one had a 5-star rating, so we decided to give it a try. It was delicious, and we loved the guacamole made table-side.

We had a fun stop at IKEA on Sunday as we made our way home, including lunch for the first time ever -- Swedish meatballs! Kate's Subie was packed to the gills.

Yeah Chicago. 'Til next time...


Oscars highlight

"Anyone out there who's in junior high, high school, suffering, there are days you're going to feel sad, you're going to feel angry, you're going to feel scared -- that's nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff. Make film, draw, write. It'll make a world of difference."

--Pete Docter, co-creator of "Inside Out," in acceptance speech for 2016 Best Animated Feature

I stayed up and watched the Oscars, though I probably shouldn't have. I'm so happy that Spotlight won Best Picture!

It was a busy weekend, highlights of which were:

  • Packages in the mail, including my new AC Skirt kit
  • 24 hours w/Junah (a sleep-over!)
  • Driving up with Junah for brunch at Annie's

Also, sneezes and sniffles. I'm on the upswing, but... yeah, I should have gone to bed a lot earlier!

 


Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Things

Ten on Tuesday Wednesday Thursday:  10 Favorite Things... Right Now

1 - Mink River by Brian Doyle. I've been reading this book  because it was recommended by goodreads/blog friends, had very good reviews, is published by Oregon State University Press, Tillamook is mentioned in the credits... and when I learned that it was set on the Oregon coast (which I'll soon be visiting) and that the author's birthday is Nov. 6th (same as mine)... well, okay then!

The other night I read a passage in the book and was dumbfounded to find myself reading a near-perfect description of Rusty & I... or at least how I have always felt and wished I could describe but have never been able to put into words... this is pretty much it.

Maple Head walks over to the doctor's house, cutting along the beach in the moonlight, the tide is low, thinking about her husband, about all the hours and days and weeks and months and years they have spent together, about all the arguments they have had, all the laughter, all the exhausted moments with the baby, and then raising a girl and then a young woman . . . you do the best you know how at the time, and we never really had any money, and I made more money than he did for the longest time, and that was hard for him, that was a small wound between us, and he had all these wild projects, and I love that, because he is his dreams, and without his dreams he'd be empty and tired, but those dreams were crazy sometimes, all the projects, all the stuff in the house, all the machines, and all the thousands of hours he could have been doing something for money, but he is who he is, a dreamer, impractical and practical, I know that, and I love him for who he is, I know that, and I am not perfect either, a dreamer too, I always wanted to open my own school and never did, never never never had the money, but it wasn't the money I sometimes think, it was the leap, I never took the leap, but how could I?

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2 - Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg. While we lived in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park when I was in first grade (1964-65) and my dad worked in The Loop, I don't recall any family trips into the city. By the time I was in third grade, we'd moved to NE Wisconsin, but there was a very memorable trip to Chicago with my mom and Aunt LaFae, who drove, and my Uncle Bob stayed and watched my siblings at home, and I don't really know where my dad was or why this trip happened -- all I know is that we drove into Chicago at night and the Morton Salt Girl was lit up and sprinkling salt like nobody's business as we approached downtown, and I may or may not have seen Marina City...

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Whenever it was they first came into view -- likely the first time I ever really noticed "architecture" -- those buildings were seared into my brain. I guess you could say that they started my list of favorite architecture at #1 and there they remain. I was always alert for glimpses during the opening of The Bob Newhart Show every week!

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3 - Millie Fleur by Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics.

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I saw this fabric in an instagram post the other day and located it online within seconds; within minutes, there were orders placed! A bit of woven cotton and jersey are both scheduled for delivery today. Heh. That's my kind of floral/print. And color!

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4 - That "getaway glow" after spending a weekend in Chicago with my girls!

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We had a marvelous time! I got a new pair of shoes out of the deal, too. Thinking that I'd "pack light" by packing only one pair of shoes (boots, in this case), by Saturday afternoon I was in DSW desperately searching for something anything!

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The weather was mahvelous! More on Chicago to come...

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5 - Sheet Pan Suppers and Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?

       

Last night, for the first time, I made Roasted Beet & Orange Salad with Pistachios & Feta on a sheet pan and, wow, was that good -- both at room temp for supper last night and out of the fridge today for lunch. My only mod next time will be more beets! I also think a softer, milder goat cheese in place of the feta would be a delicious variation. The main dish, which I've made a few times in recent memory, was Ina Garten's Chicken With Shallots (another fave in that book is Lemon Chicken Breasts). I have become pretty good at boning chicken breasts as it seems you can get either skin-on/bone-in or skinless/boneless in the grocery store and these call for skin-on/boneless. Kate has a new office/work space that's right across the street from a butcher, though, so maybe I'll utilize their services a bit more -- and personal home delivery! Heh.

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6 - Cooked. Michael Pollan's new 4-part series on Netflix. I watched over the last two nights as I prepared dinner and otherwise puttered in the kitchen. I will no doubt watch it again... have already recommended it to Ali, and now to all of you.  ;)

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7 - A TV in the kitchen. We used to have a TV in the kitchen for a lot of years. I don't recall what happened to it, exactly, but we haven't had one in a while and it came up often enough lately that I decided to get one -- prices are fairly low for a little flat screen (and I saved a bit more by using my Target debit card, too).

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8 - With Chromecast. Yes, I'm a little bit of a TV/electronics junkie. I like doodads, I love technology, I appreciate convenience and ease of use. We already have TiVo on our main TV because we don't have cable and a DVR is essential for how we view, but we aren't going to be watching the kitchen TV enough to justify adding a "Mini." It's super easy to stream Netflix (and more) with Chromecast, the doodad was very affordable, and the app is free!

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9 - Habu 2/17 tsumugi silk and L25/3 linen -- together.

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I did some swatching on size 6 US, 7 US and 8US needles.

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Then washed and dried... and, oh my, is that a marvelous fabric!! I'll be going with the 8s, doing some measuring and comparing with other garments, then putting my head together again with Ina Braun. Meanwhile, stopping at my LYS to see if they happen to have another cone of the tsumugi... as you may recall, I know where I bought this yarn, but don't remember why or when!! Another cone of the tsumugi would give me some more options, but it's not crucial.

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10 - My new Scrappy Boho Bag by Ali! I've had my eye on this bag for a while. It'll be a great little knitting bag (which I definitely do not need, but most certainly did want). Those fabrics make me so happy. 

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Since the quilt is finished, Ali has time for other sewing projects! Well, as much time for sewing as she can carve out of a busy day. She has a good thing going with my mom's old Singer 500 Slant-O-Matic - The Rocketeer! 

To infinity and beyond...


By hand

The art historian/curator in the family has been doing some research along the lines of art+craft, among other things, and books have been regularly arriving in the mail. The other day it was this one:

Flipping through the pages, I saw this image:

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I said, "That looks like Alabama Chanin."

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Purposefully flipping a few pages back, I found that it most certainly was... or, rather, the original Project Alabama that grew to become Alabama Chanin.

I was so excited to learn that the AC skirt kits that Annie & I ordered have been shipped! With any luck, we'll have them in-hand by next weekend.

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Meanwhile, my research in regards to these lovely Habu tsumugi and linen yarns led me to make my first Ravelry purchase of 2016: The LOLA (sweater) by Tante Sophie, aka Ina Braun. The pattern has a bunch of options, a bunch of yarns have been tested/used, there's a bunch of notes and, best of all, there's Ina. She was very helpful and generous in giving me some "how to" tips last summer during Auntie Camp when I was teaching the boys to knit, and she continues to be very helpful and generous in giving me guidance in how I might best use these yarns for the type of fabric and, ultimately, the sweater that I want.

House/kitty sitters have been arranged and I'm off to Chicago today for a long weekend with all three girls! It's going to be delightfully warm (58F!), but it also looks as though The Windy City will be living up to its name.


3rd Thursday

Wow. I've been a bit preoccupied with things like dealing with car insurance and readying for a quick weekend trip to Chicago, so I was a bit surprised this morning to be reminded of 3rd Thursday Knit Night... which I host! I am not always in attendance, but I don't think I've ever forgotten!!

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{Take a breath}

It was a beautiful sunrise this morning. The pretty light was just beginning when I got out of bed (about 5:30 am CST) and it only got better; this photo was about an hour later, just as I left the house.

Maddy's Jeep suffered some impossible to ignore damage during a grocery store parking lot hit & run last week. We're not usually very particular about dents and dings, but in this case the directional lights (both front and side) were wrecked. Blech.

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{Take a bow}

On the other hand, Maddy's diploma arrived in yesterday's mail! She graduated in December, continues working, and will be spending several months working and exploring in New Zealand beginning next fall.


7-Year Itch

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Seven years ago today this fresh-faced young woman opened the door and welcomed customers for the first time as operator of Kaukauna Coffee & Tea! About 8 months later, she bought the business and the building it's housed in. She's made a ton of changes and improvements to the business and property in 7 years and she's working on some more -- HUGE -- changes that'll hopefully be happening in the next few months.

Not to mention the changes in her personal life in that time, and the HUGE change that will be a new baby sis/bro for Junah, also happening in the next few months! Heh. Never a dull moment...

Congrats Ali!! xoxo


Bullets

  • Knitting/Yarn

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What little time I've lately spent on knitting has been on the second inner mitt of my Dimorphous Mittens, and I'm so happy to have only the thumb to go! I want to knit another set of outer mitts, too. I love this set and am so happy to be this close to replacing the one I gave away a few years ago!

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I ran across this gorgeous Habu yarn a while back and couldn't recall why I bought it or when. And I still don't remember. Thanks to friends with excellent suggestions, I am developing a plan for a lace-weight boxy-type top!

 

  • Sewing

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I was reminded that my Alabama Chanin-style sewing began in earnest two years ago with my first from-scratch garment. I stenciled an old t-shirt of Rusty's cut in the shape of a favorite top, and layered it over another old t-shirt. Voila. I still love & wear this top!

 

  • Mail

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Incoming. (YIKES!!!) I half-consider this junk mail. Heh. I doubt that I'll go -- because I've never gone to any except the 5th, and because it's the day before a cousin's wedding!

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Outgoing. I managed to write two cards for Saturday's mail call. Lovin' that morning light.

 

  • Valentines

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The artist and his work! * LOVE *  Is there anything better than a finger-painted Valentine??

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These pics popped up a couple of times on various social media sites... Junah celebrating Valentine's Day two years ago with Great Aunt Karen and Aunt Maddy...

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...and Great Nana. This is the lock-screen image on my phone, too. It's one of the very few photos of my mom and Junah, and definitely one of the best. I love the expressions on both of their faces... I can just hear her talking to him... he's so intently listening. Sweetness.


Randomly

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I had to stop at the side of the road on my way to knitting on Tuesday night to take a photo. This is due west at around 5:00. Such soft, beautiful light (still light!), the colors gorgeous.

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For a change of pace (and because he was still sleeping), I went over to Junah's house for a while last night instead of him coming to mine. He wasn't particularly thrilled to see me when he woke up. He cried some as he rode his trike out from the bedroom through the living room to the kitchen doorway. I talked to him, asked him a few questions, and pretty soon we were playing peek-a-boo around the furniture. Before long, we were in the playroom reading books and building with blocks.

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He helped me take some selfies (about a dozen altogether... almost exactly the same) and then he wanted to look at the pictures on my phone. Swiping! We spent quite a while watching movies, too. He really enjoyed the ones from last summer with the boys ("Mock") and with his momma at the pool.

I'm starting to get serious about taxes. I hate it, but best to get it done.

I've been anxiously awaiting availability of my next audiobook -- Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential -- and it arrived this morning! I have it for only a week, and hopefully I'll be finished before the next one arrives -- A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman.


Ten on Tuesday: Kidnapped!

Ten on Tuesday:  Kidnapped! 10 TV Characters That I'd Want to Help Me

Covering the bases... who knows what kind of help I'd need!

1 - Elsbeth Tacioni - The Good Wife (lawyer)

2 - Hawkeye Pierce - M*A*S*H (funny doctor)

3 - Wonder Woman - Wonder Woman (super hero!)

4 - Dr. Doug Ross - ER (handsome doctor)

5 - Sally Hull McMillan (& husband) - McMillan & Wife (crime solvers)

6 - Steve McGarrett - Hawaii Five-0 (...)

7 - Mary Beth Lacey (& partner) - Cagney & Lacey (Tyne Daly, 'nuff said)

8 - Angus MacGyverMacGyver (everyone needs a MacGyver... why not the MacGyver!?)

9 - Sue Ann Nivens - The Mary Tyler Moore Show (tenacious as they come)

10 - Lucy RicardoI Love Lucy (gets out of pickles as easily as she gets in)


Weekending: Again

What a weird week last week. I was supposed to have last Thursday & Friday off -- a nice long weekend.

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There was a much-hyped Tuesday & Wednesday snowstorm, though, and with Rusty being gone (he takes care of most snow removal), it was suggested that perhaps I'd rather have those days off to keep up. And, yeah... sort of, I guess, but other scheduling things came into play, too, so that I was ending up with most of Tuesday off and all of Wednesday and, well, that's not much different from a normal week.

I took Friday off, too, but it just wasn't the same, y'know? And, of course, the snowfall wasn't nearly as dramatic as predicted, either. Whatever.

I managed one session with the personal trainer last week, did lots of cooking, and also a fair bit of cutting, ironing, and sewing!

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I had the majority of my Color Dive Quilt (in-progress) laid out on the front room floor for a few days... until Junah was due for a visit and I realized what a disaster that could be! I have three rows sewn together so far... it's very colorful!

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Some of my seams line up pretty good and some not-so-good! I'm learning. I also found that some of my fabric combos worked better than others, and have done more fat-quarter shopping in the past week than I've done ever! I think I can live with it now... I will live with it, because no more shopping!

Annie came on Friday afternoon and spent the weekend. The plan was to introduce her to hand sewing, Alabama Chanin style, in preparation for some skirt kits that are on order. We used some stenciled fat-eighths that I'd ordered a while ago for our swatches.

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Within minutes, she was couching! She really likes the look of it and it's probably the technique she's going to use on her skirt.

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She tried some other techniques, too!

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The beads & sequins also came out, and I sent her home with a selection of all, along with some jersey rope in a contrasting color for couching.

The possibilities are endless!

I worked "negative reverse applique" on my swatch, with both layers of fabric in the same color.

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I will likely use this technique on my skirt, but the layers will be different shades of gray.

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It was a super fun and relaxing weekend -- not as long as originally hoped, but fine!

Ann is smitten with the stitching! It's going to be several weeks before our skirt kits arrive, so in the meantime (next time we get together), we'll be cutting out and sewing an interim project. She reminded me before she left that she made it as far Advanced Tailoring in high school home ec class (I remember the "muslin" suit she made from some amazing floral bedsheets)... she's going to LOVE working on a garment!


Weekending: In no particular order

I walked to the library on Saturday morning to pick up the latest addition to my Reading list: Mink River. This book has garnered lots of stars on Goodreads by some of my favorite readers; and since I've lived at (and will again soon be visiting) the Oregon Coast, it seemed like the perfect read right now.

Junah came over to delight and entertain for a while. The "words" are absolutely nonstop. He loves to flop/fall -- on a beanbag, on a chair, on the floor -- while saying, "Ohhh noooooo!" Hilarious. I could watch him for hours. Oh, that's right, I do!!

Kate & I went to see Brooklyn. Loved it! That brings the list of Best Picture noms that I've seen to half, joining Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Spotlight. Unseen are The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and Room -- and it's not likely that'll happen by Oscar night. I could catch two of those on Day 2 of the Best Picture Festival (I'll be in Chicago for Day 1), but I'll be okay if I don't.

I watched a quilting video by Anna Maria Horner on Creativebug.

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And I cut out a bunch of 4" and 4.5" squares for a quilt. I'd run across some fat quarters that I'd purchased recently and/or some time ago and used them as the basis for my color selection, then raided/scrounged through my meager fabric stash for the rest!

Another quilt was definitely not on my radar! I must need to prove to myself that the first effort wasn't a fluke. Heh.

(It probably won't surprise anyone to know that I've had a strip quilt cut and ready to go for years.)

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I did some more cooking. Last night it was Caprese Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato Wedge Fries. That's the third recipe in a week that we've made from Sheet Pan Suppers.

I've had this cookbook for a while. Unimpressed with the first recipe I tried (I don't even recall which one), it was shelved for a while. Last week, Kate suggested we give it a go, and all three dishes (see Friday's post for Jerome's Chicken and Turkey Meatballs & Slow-roasted Tomatoes) have been really good. Prep is pretty straight forward, not requiring an in ordinate number of bowls & utensils, and clean up (foil- or parchment-lined pans) is a breeze!

Sheet pan cooking is not an exact science, though, as ovens can be fickle, so I'm learning some things for next time/my oven: a) if it doesn't seem like enough chicken, then use more; 2) a little oil might keep meatballs from sticking; 3) pay attention to oven rack location; and 4) turn, turn, turn!

The weather was very mild, but a looming storm was on everyone's mind. It's so sunny and warm right now, it's really hard to believe that there's a blizzard and 6-12" of snow on the way!


Right Now

Knitting: There has been precious little knitting of late, and it's been pretty mindless.

I am occasionally picking up my second inner Dimorphous Mitten, and suspect that I'll finish that set by spring. Naturally.

The Scoreboard KAL has also been picked up on occasion, as well. I feel no urgency with that project, but definitely plan to finish before long.

DNA results have proven that there is no lemming in my lineage, so I am not Banging Out A Sweater, but truthfully, I am a lemming, so that has more to do with the pattern (knitting in the round and/or intarsia), and the fact that I already have innumerable sweaters in various stages of "banging out." I've entertained thoughts about working on one or two of them instead!

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Sewing: There are a number of Alabama Chanin -ish projects in various stages, soon to be joined by another! My sister and I are ordering skirt kits that we'll work as part of a group. Annie has never done any AC-style sewing, so I'm welcoming her into the coven and preparing some of my AC stenciled fat eighths for practice when she's here next weekend.

Listening to: Dan Zanes with Junah; we especially love "Bushel and A Peck," a song that my mother sang to every single one of her grandchildren!

Reading: I just finished The Jesus Cow and immediately picked up The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd, which Katie gave me for my birthday, and which I am, so far, enjoying immensely! Incredible location, photos, sheep, humor... all good.

I recently finished my first audio book, Composed by Rosanne Cash (thank you, Margene, for the suggestion), and am currently awaiting Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my Overdrive app. Audiobooks have been a struggle for me, but beginning by listening to familiar voices reading their own stories seems to be a great way to start!

Watching: Outlander! On DVD. Finally.

Thinking about: An upcoming 3-day weekend in Chicago with my girls! All three!!

Planning: Oregon Coast get-away. I'll meet up with Rusty in No Cal and we'll drive up the Oregon coast, staying at a couple of Airbnb places -- one near Florence, where his dad is hoping to get something going, and one with a great view of Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City (where we got married 31 years ago) -- and visiting friends! We'll also be visiting my dad, and eventually making our way up to Portland where I'll catch a flight back home. I haven't been there in years (almost 25, to be exact) and am looking forward to it... more as time draws near, and more than I really expected.

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Remembering: Mum. Her birthday is today; she'd be 78.  This is one of my favorite photos of her -- 4th grade. Her whole face is electric, like she's going to burst out in giggles any second, or can't wait to get out on the playground with her friends (probably both)! This was just before "Cyril," who sat behind her in class, cut off one of her braids. I remember her telling me how she'd go into Grandma's bedroom every morning to have her braids done, and how upset Grandma was with Cyril. And, oh, that gap in her teeth -- it wasn't fixed 'til she got braces when she was in her 40s -- so incredible at the time for an adult to get braces! XOXOX. I miss you everyday Mom.


Fit Friday

Earlier this month, I had an introductory visit with Rebecca, a personal trainer. My friend and co-worker had already been seeing Rebecca about 3 times a week for 6-8 weeks, which I knew about, but I really became interested when I could "see" my friend's progress -- and the extent of that progress in only 6-8 weeks. It was impressive.

Beginning the second week of January, I've had 2 sessions per week with Rebecca, though due to scheduling it's been more like 3 -- and even 3 days in a row! Sometimes we meet at her office in Appleton, and sometimes I go to her house in Green Bay. She has similar but different equipment at each place, so I kind of enjoy the variety.

She took it easy on me the first week or so, getting to know me and gauging my ability. It's been getting a little harder since... but also easier! There was one day, after concentrating on triceps, when it was a challenge to pick up the telephone! But while "abs" is not my favorite thing and I thought I was going to die midway through the first set (I think I did 3 sets of 8 or 10), yesterday, after only 3 weeks, I was amazed at how "easy" it was to do 3 sets of 12! (Shhh, don't tell Rebecca!!)

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I've been cooking more and eating at home. And also keeping track of what I eat, using the free version of an app called Lose It! Kate had been doing that for a little while, and I know how much tracking helps.

TurkeymeatballsTurkey Meatballs & Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (with Spinach)

This has been a while in coming. I've put on a lot of weight over the past year and a half or so. I can't say that it's crept up on me; I've been aware and mostly choosing to ignore. Eating out, a bit more snacking, little exercise, and a lot more beer (oh, I do love a good IPA!)... it's all added up.

Changes have been made. And I think my jeans felt just a little bit more comfortable this morning.


Quilt

 Once upon a time, Ali had a brilliant idea about making quilts together!

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March 2013

Ali: I think we should have a double wedding ring quilt challenge. But it has to be a secret because mine will be for Abbey and Kevin. {A wedding present for their August 2013 wedding.} But you can report your progress, and at the end surprise the masses with TWO beautiful finished products. Eh? Eh? smile emoticon

We have 5 months! We should make a guide of some kind showing what we have to get done in one week. Pace ourselves. I have no idea how to begin. smile emoticon

Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!  Will have to do some research... and, first, you need to get a handle on colors for Abbey & Kevin! I want to go to a good quilt shop!!! Am excited now!

Ali: Me tooooo! We'll have to make a date!

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With a 3-month-old baby only 6 months until her best friend's wedding day, it was quickly decided that we'd be making only Ali's (king-size) quilt, and that I would be her helper! She wanted to use the "Easy! Fast! Smart!" Quiltsmart method, which involves no tedious piecing and, instead, utilizes fusible interfacing to make the arcs and assemble square blocks.

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So instead of tedious piecing, we tediously cut, sewed, trimmed, turned, finger pressed, ironed, sewed again, pressed again, sewed again, pressed again...

As far as I'm concerned, and having never made a traditional pieced double-wedding ring anything, the jury's still out on the ease, swiftness, and/or intelligence of making a quilt this way (your mileage may vary).

May 2013

Vicki: We need to carve out some production time... a quilting bee!

Ali: Whooo! I'm having a very difficult time finding time!

Vicki: I have turned all that were trimmed and am now trimming more so that I can turn!

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August 16, 2013:  WEDDING DAY!

 

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Some parts of this quilt traveled across the pond and I worked on turning and finger pressing in Scotland -- on the train, playing Scrabble in the evening, etc.

June 2014

Vicki: I did some sewing & trimming for quilt yesterday and thought I was caught up... but then saw a whole 'nother pile! Haha. Hope you're having fun up north. XOXO

Ali: This thing is a nightmare!! Haha. Xoxo

Vicki: WE CAN DO IT with this quilt thing!!! smile emoticon

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March 2015

Vicki: {Random sewing talk.} Also, we have a quilt to finish.

Ali: And yes. Quilt. I know I still need some more white fabric, but it's coming along. I can maybe give you what I have..it's ready for the clear thread.

June 2015

Vicki: Re: Quilt... we need 90 total + 38 halves, right?

Ali: Yep. So 128x4?

Vicki: Hm. Quilt. Suggested dimensions for a King size quilt, INCLUDING a 15" drop at each side and the bottom, is 106 x 94... which would be 9x8 (assuming our squares are 12"?) So that would be 72 complete squares and 34 halves to go all the way around, give or take. I'm getting confused. We can't need 70 more arcs, can we???

Ali: I suppose I haven't sat down and done the math since the way beginning, and I'm sure it was hasty.

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August 2015

Ali: I know this is on the back burner... but I wanted to touch base with an idea! We sew the squares into 1'x9' panels, so maybe we cut 9 1'x9' panels of white fabric and use that as the second layer before the batting. Then it's all connected and sturdier and we don't have an extra actual fabric layer to send along. Yes? I haven't sewn these together lengthwise yet but... smile heart-eyes emoticon

I can't remember exactly, but it was sometime in late summer/early fall that we delivered the finished quilt top to the quilter. We had it done at a shop because that was just WAY beyond either of us. (Ali: I have no idea how to begin. Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!) We've learned some things!

January 2016

Vicki: I just watched a GREAT tutorial for binding a quilt. WE CAN DO IT! Do you have fabric for binding? smile emoticon

Ali: I have some packaged white quilt binding but we can use something different if you'd like!

Vicki: I actually think it would be easier to do it with fabric strips instead of packaged binding! I discovered all the old backing yesterday, too, so have plenty. Making the strips won't be difficult at all. I forgot the dimensions of the quilt, though, so that was my next step! Do you remember? If you want to do packaged binding, I can pick it up. I watched 2 tutorials on YouTube -- on one Fat Quarter Shop and the other by Missouri Quilt Co. I actually think the FQS method would be best (simple finish on the front).

Ali: Alright! Let me know how you'd like me to help!

Vicki: I need to measure the perimeter of the quilt; cut, sew & press the 2.5" strips. I can do that part if you want to sew it on... or I can do the first step of sewing and you can finish. I'll measure & cut tonight!

I picked it up less than two weeks ago, and made the binding.

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Not only did it take me THREE TIMES to sew the miters making this long strip of fabric, I also made almost twice the length required for the task because... I don't even know why!! But I did a good job and it looks nice and now I have extra.

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I made the binding one evening, and Ali came over the next and sewed it all on in just a few hours! After the blocks were assembled, it all went pretty quick! She washed it within a day or two.

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It's done and delivered, appreciated and loved!

I still can't quite believe it!