16 September 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Fall upon us

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things To Get My Home Ready for Fall

1. We don't have central air conditioning, so every spring/fall we install/remove a couple of window units. So that.

2. And also putting away the strategically placed circulating fans.

3. The overwhelming majority of the windows in our 130-year-old house are the original storms and screens. So that. (Luckily, there are really only a handful of windows that are ever swapped, and only two doors.)

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4. Yard clean up. I didn't do much in the yard to begin with this year, so that should be fairly easy. I don't think it was a big year for the walnut tree, either.

5. Since the installation of my rain barrel, we've hardly used the hose... but it's out there and still needs to be put away.

6. And water to outside faucets needs to be shut off.

7. I usually do a little "spring cleaning" for fall, such as laundering afghans, blankets, duvet covers and comforters, slipcovers, and sometimes curtains and rugs. I do some of that, as needed, throughout the year, no matter the season, but make a point of it now.

8. The Big Sweep -- I like to sweep the porch ceilings, walls, and floor clear of leaves and spider stuff.

9. Wash a few windows... also the mailbox, porch light fixtures, and probably some of the siding (spider stuff).

10. Decorate freshly swept porches with pumpkins and gourds!

 

15 September 2014

To ride... better late than never

We were hopeful on Friday night. After securing bikes to the carrier (one in the back seat due to overcrowding) and loading our gear, we drove up to meet Annie at our airbnb lodging in Egg Harbor -- IN THE POURING RAIN -- to be ready for the morning start to our 25-mile route in the Peninsula Century.

We continued to listen during the night as the rain continued to hit the roof of our cute little A-frame.

Day dawned on Saturday and, though there were plenty of puddles, the rain had stopped and it looked pretty good. We dressed, found some coffee and breakfast, and made our way to Sister Bay.

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The sky was getting blue-er by the minute! It was a bit chilly just standing around, but we donned our layers and once on our way... well, it was pretty near perfect. Mostly sunny, mid-60s, very little wind. All day long. Here we are, at Waterfront Park, ready for departure.

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And here at our rest stop, about 18 miles in, at Wickman House in Ellison Bay. What a great spread for us! Beverages, fruit, granola and cookies, and there was a bike mechanic available to make adjustments (tighten my seat, lower Annie's). We had a random run-in with our high school art teacher! I had him for several classes back in the day, Sharon practically lived in the Art Dept. during her senior year, and even Katie had him for a class or two before he retired. It's been a long time, but he lives up there now, very active in the community, and is a huge pickleball advocate!

The last 7 miles of our route started with a few hills, right off the bat. Like mountains, to me, I mostly walked up the first two, but powered through the third before cruising to the finish. I love cyclists -- so many of them sharing words of encouragement as they passed me by -- I muttered once about how much I really wanted to get off and walk up the hill, but I didn't! I lagged far, far behind both Katie & Ann on that last leg, but they were able to show me right where to redeem my drink ticket!

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So much yummy food. Now this is a post-ride meal: bratwurst, Al Johnson's Swedish meatballs & gravy with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce, cole slaw, beer cheese soup with cheese popcorn, chevre torte, Door County sour cherry crisp (with ice cream!), chocolate milk, and Door County Brewing Co.'s Little Sister Ale. 

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Live music!

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We've had so much rain of late that everything is quite green and lush! I was expecting to see some fall color, but there was barely any to be found. It looks more like July (except for the extra layers sported by almost everyone).

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Annie headed home to spend some time with her boys (she's been very busy at her new job), while Kate & I rested up for a bit.

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We drove across to the other side of the peninsula to catch a little of Charlie Parr's performance at Door County Brewing Co. What a cute place and the music was great! Kate had seen Charlie a couple of times at last year's Mile of Music.

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Sunday was quite a bit more breezy. I was happy not to be on a bike, but it was a great day to drive home. We meandered a bit down the lakeshore before heading west to avoid the traffic associated with the Packers' home opener yesterday.

So, though my first ride of any note this year came at the end of the season, I couldn't have asked for better. I'm a little sore, but I made it -- and I'm looking forward to more! Maybe I'll even get a few short rides in yet before putting my bike away for the winter. While some of y'all pore over seed catalogs this winter, I'll be scoping out next summer's cycling events and hoping to participate in a few more!

 

12 September 2014

Currently...

...as in Right Now.

Watching ... the approaching autumn, and feeling it, too. Brrrr.

Reading ... Outlander, and I'll be reading it for a long, long time at the pace I'm going. I've been enjoying it; sad that there isn't a way to watch the series without a cable subscription.

#knittingforzim Haven't done that in a while, but baby needs Gran to knit him a hat!

Knitting ... I've been doing a lot more sewing than knitting, but baby needs a hat so I just cast on last night to make Alfalfa! Even with an adjustment or two, it'll likely be too small for Junah; if that's the case we'll save it for the next one, but I'll know what needs to be done to make one that does fit.

Or I'll find another pattern.

>>What's your favorite hat pattern (with ties or a strap) for a baby closing in on toddlerhood?

Highly manipulated photo of the state of the front of my #alabamachanin corset - darn red at near dusk is impossible to photograph! One seam has been sewn, there's still some cutting to do, loving the work (and my thread, always loving my thread) so far!

Sewing ... making progress on an Alabama Chanin corset kit.

Dreading ... the approaching autumn, or, rather, what's to follow.

Listening ... to everything! Truly. From opera to country, rap to rock, soundtracks to oldies, alternative, folk, indie, classical, Americana, jazz...

Thinking ... about a fun Door County weekend coming up with Kate and my sister Ann! We head up tonight, do a 25-mile bike ride tomorrow, enjoy a truly gourmet meal afterwards along with some great music and beer. We'll certainly also find some fall color, cherries and apples!

More Thinking ... about attending the Reedsburg Fermentation Fest in a couple of weeks with my sister Karen.

Celebrating ... every little thing.

Planning ... a long-overdue big family weekend up north next month.

Laundry day! Reminiscing. It's like laundry day at the convent... in #riodejaneiro #laundryontheline #100happydays

Itching ... to straighten and fluff my nest, readying for hibernation I guess.

Drinking ... a wide variety of beer.

Needing ... to continue getting my house/life back in order and on a new track.

Organizing ... my thoughts.

Inspired ... by the sudden resurgence and renewed commitment of some old-time favorite bloggers.

Having happily and regularly blogged through the Big Blog Slump, lo these many years, lately, as so many others are apparently refreshed and renewed (for the moment, anyway), I've been feeling it slip.

I'm inspired to try a little harder.

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Ali posted this photo yesterday, "We're sad that this little handknit is not going to fit for much longer." It's the One-Stitch Baby Sweater by Lion Brand.

Delighted ... by my little Junebug. He's 8 months old today!!!

What's currently going on with you right now?

Here's to a great weekend!!

 

10 September 2014

#100happydays - Days 93-100

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1. The parking expansion project is underway this Labor Day weekend., 2. Laundry day!, 3. Packed up another box of photos to send to ScanCafe today & found this favorite from my second birthday. I'm the towhead!, 4. Stormy weather... all day, all around., 5. New day dawns after a stormy night., 6. Working hard at the market! We had to buy a hat for him this morning.. Gran is slacking., 7. Yesterday at Kewaunee., 8. Going back in time... 2 months, the 4th of July. Junah wasn't quite sitting up without assistance so the boys, freshly repatriated from Brazil, set him up like the little prince. But, of course.

That's a wrap on that! I'll soon have more of a "wrap up" and something to say. For now, bring on all the days!!

 

08 September 2014

Summer of mystery

I've finished three knitting projects this summer and all of them were Mystery Knit-along Shawls! The latest to cross the finish line is the biggest shawl I've ever knit!

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And possibly the laciest!

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  • Project:  Follow Your Arrow (Mystery KAL) by Ysolda Teague
  • Yarn:  Sock by Malabrigo Yarn, "Archangel" colorway, 2 skeins from 2 dye lots
  • Needle:  US 6
  • Start to Finish:  February 7, 2014 - September 2, 2014

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Katie and I drove out to the Lake Michigan shore on Saturday afternoon and, though pretty breezy, I managed to take a few photos.

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The "little yellow house" near the pier at Kewaunee is a favorite spot.

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It's adorable (we've been here before) (some things have changed since then).

* * * * *

I managed to stretch my 4-day Labor Day Weekend into FIVE, and crossed a few things off my list, made progress on some others, and bought a new dishwasher. Heh. You just never know what's going to happen around here. We got a great deal and it's being delivered today.

I've been in fall cleaning mode... windows, closets, drawers... throwing everything that's not nailed down into the washer. I've been productive without putting too much pressure on myself... getting things back into some sort of order. It's good.

* * * * *

I haven't been knitting much this summer, preferring needle and thread (and making progress there, too). This morning I came across this:

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...and I am down like a rug. Seriously. A Kaffe Fassett Mystery Knit-Along Afghan?? Gah. Details here and here. The knit-along starts October 1st!! Start your engines, gather your yarn! I'm so excited.

 

02 September 2014

Days 62-92 of #100happydays

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1. Francis Williams hosta., 2. The rose bush that Mum bought this spring., 3. Fresh basil was made for this., 4. I missed my Happy Day post yesterday..., 5. Happily making progress!, 6. Aunt, uncle and 2 cousins in the hood today, 7. Walked down the bridge after knit night, during which I knit not & entertained my grandson instead (or he me), to catch the spectacular sunset at the end of a pretty great day., 8. My first game at Miller Park and this one's, too., 9. Second al fresco nap for this one today!, 10. Music & art & fabulous day. 11. It's impossible to get the color right..., 12. Twist & Shout about Point Vanilla Cream Soda!, 13. Day lilies in the sun..., 14. Another night of baseball!, 15. I had a lot of fun capturing some wedding day memories for this couple on June 21st. Tomorrow his sister, my daughter's BFF, gets married!, 17. Sunday morning., 18. Love my flexible blocking mat., 19. Stormy weather., 20. No explanation required., 21. Another really fab day with all three of my girls + grandson., 22. Knit Night: Sewing., 23. 2014-08-23_1408753121, 24. Spent some time with my daughters, my sisters, and my niece today making some creating some lovely glass pieces in remembrance of our sister/aunt and mother/grandmother., 25. 2014-08-25_1408930872, 26. I wore the amber earrings that my mom brought for me from her 1974 student trip to Russia to her memorial brunch yesterday., 27. Aahhhhh. Home., 28. It is both appalling & true: first bike ride of the summer happened today., 29. The street where I live... have lived for 27 years., 30. These are my pieces from last weekend's glass workshop with my sisters, daughters & niece!, 31. Spending some time with one of my favorite fellas and Dr. Suess this morning.

August 2014 = Home and Family.

* * * * *

That's right! I'll reach #100happydays on Monday! I missed a day late last month, but had one in the bank from an earlier exceptionally happy day (or a bad memory, either way...).

 

29 August 2014

A 4-Day Weekend Upon Us... Me (Yes!)

SATURDAY

I'll be at the Farmers' Market on Saturday (it's been a while ), followed by the start of the Fall Purge at home.

Or a trip to Stevens Point to help Maddy move.

SUNDAY

I'm hoping to stencil some fabric! We've had a small air compressor for ages and I finally bought a little Badger Air-Brush 250-4 Mini Spray Gun Set to use with it. GADGETS, I love 'em! I've stenciled fabric for small projects using a pump spray bottle or a sponge, but that's not going to work for the bigger projects that have been waiting in the wings: the Alabama Chanin coat from Natalie's Craftsy class (Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery) and a DIY AC/DKNY dress! Once upon a time I thought that dress might be done in time to wear to a mid-August farm wedding; now I'll be happy to have a new dress for next summer! It's time to at least get the painting done.

And continuing with the Fall Purge.

Or a trip to Stevens Point to help Maddy move.

MONDAY

Happy Labor Day!

It would be really great to block my finished Follow Your Arrow shawl!

And one of these days, I'd also like to begin organizing my yarn stash; photographing it and getting it into Ravelry, or getting rid of it if I don't think I'll ever use it. Yep.

And continuing with the Fall Purge.

TUESDAY

This might be a good day to assess the winter woolens situation.  :)

If it's a holiday weekend for you, I hope you have a great one! Don't worry, there will be plenty of relaxing, too.

 

28 August 2014

On a Wednesday

I had the day off yesterday! It was as close to typical as I've seen in a long while, though "typical" is a very fluid thing and always subject to change. Two years ago, it was typical to at least get together for coffee with my mom, if not a full-blown lunch and/or day of adventure somewhere; a couple years before that, we were making weekly (at least) treks together to Jefferson to visit my sister.

I typically pay bills and take care of any banking needs on my day off, and was truly thrilled that it was the only thing that needed to be done yesterday with any urgency.

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It's inevitable, but we're trying to stall the addition of another vehicle into the family for as long as possible. So, without a car at my disposal, I rode my freshly tuned-up bike to the bank instead!

Ali & I missed a charity ride in early June that we'd signed up for but, along with Kate & Ann, we're down for another in two weeks in Door County -- and I need to get a few laps in before then! The fall Peninsula Century is similar to the early summer Ride for Nature that we've done in the past (but without the simultaneous Door County Beer Festival) (oh, yeah, we will be back) and, well, you just can't go wrong with Door County in September. I haven't been up there yet this year and I can't wait!

I was pretty free to do as I wished for the rest of the day. I sat down at my computer and, well, you know how one thing leads to another? Facebook leads to Aboutlander (I don't have cable) leads to curiosity about Outlander knitting (there must be something on Ravelry!) (but I googled it first) leads to a website with a section about dyeing with Impatiens capensis (jewelweed, touch-me-knot) and I have a fine crop growing in the ravine! So, of course, I grabbed a scissors and a basket to harvest some of that and next thing you know there's a dye pot on the stove.

Dinner was already taken care of, thanks to Plated -- I still had to prep & cook, but everything was there and I didn't have to think about it -- so for the rest of the afternoon I prepped & dyed yarn, did a little bit of cleaning, and organized some photos -- both from our last ScanCafe order and for the next.

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I've been working on an Alabama Chanin DIY Corset but before I continued with that last night, I had to do a repair on my Transformed Tee. A few weeks ago I noticed little hole in the rear hip area and knew exactly how I'd patch that! I've never been a big fan of "mending" before, but I believe that the "Alabama Chanin Experience" has changed me! I planned, cut, and sewed that entire top by hand; I love that top and love to wear it; how could I not fix it?!

Guess what I'm wearing today!

And I'll leave you with that.

 

27 August 2014

My mother taught me everything

I knew I wanted to say something at my mother’s memorial celebration on Sunday. I had written, or started to write some things, but didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go or how to pull it together… until the early hours of that day... confirming, once again, that I work best under pressure.

I had to talk about the Mystery Shawl KAL and lifted quite a bit of my blog post for that. But I also pulled from another blog post I'd started -- a Ten on Tuesday post about what I'd learned from my mom. It was unfinished, sitting in drafts... I just couldn't do it in May... but it made a pretty good springboard.

I wore the amber earrings that Mom brought me from her student trip to Russia in 1974, she's borrowed them on occasion and she was wearing them in a few of the photos we displayed as a slide show.

Well, I just wanted to record this as best I could.

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My mother taught me EVERYTHING, but mostly just how to do the best you can... to be your best, to pull off your best game no matter what.

My mother taught me so many things... about how to be strong, independent, and dignified; about how a woman pulls herself up and finds a way to support five kids because it's the only way she's going to survive.

I watched as she demonstrated how not to settle for what someone else might think is good enough, finding a way to earn her nursing degree while living on welfare and buying groceries with food stamps.

And always with immeasurable style. She had more style in her little finger than all of us put together and it showed in everything – in how she transformed and furnished her home, her yard and gardens, and especially in how she dressed. She could make it work whether it was from Nieman Marcus or Walmart.

She taught me little things, too. How to clean (that’s actually pretty huge in my mother’s world), how to iron and sew, how to knit…

Mom taught me to knit when I was in 1st grade to reiterate what she learned when our neighbor lady in Highland Park, Mrs. Hamel, taught Mom to knit and Mom taught Mrs. Hamel to sew. I don’t think I actually made anything, but I never completely forgot how to knit, and over the years I’d pick it up now and then – usually when I was lonely – when I moved up north in high school, when I moved to Oregon in the early 80s.

The last time I actually spoke with my mother, the Friday before she was transferred to ICU, we talked about my knitting. I’d just begun a “mystery knit-along” with some online friends and had brought it to work on while we visited. I explained how a mystery pattern works (and I’d be happy to explain it to anyone here who might be interested), and talked about how much fun it was to dye yarn again. I had no idea that it would be our last real conversation.

I was happy for the distraction that the knitting provided while Mom's condition fluctuated, and eventually declined, over those 19 days. It didn’t faze me a bit – I was even grateful – to tink back and re-knit many rows (14, I think) of Clue 2, stitch by stitch, to correct an error.

My knitting was something that I could fix.

Probably the most complicated lace pattern I've ever knit, it gave me something to concentrate on and think about that wasn't my mother, though of course I thought about my mother constantly.

I looked forward to knitting every night -- after work, after visiting the hospital, no matter how late it was – I had to take time. I enjoyed following along with my friends, reading about others' progress with the pattern, how they felt about their colors, how they were working out the transitions*, concerns over yardage and whether one had enough stitch markers in their possession. I spent time carefully highlighting my pattern clues, color coding the different sections so that it would be easier to keep my place; breaking it down… keeping control.

By the end of the month, I was on track and nearing the finish. Therapy knitting at its finest, I was really pretty astounded at my progress and gave a thankful nod to Mom & Sharon, my guardian knitting angels. Though her prowess in knitting never matched that of her sewing, Mom was knowledgeable and appreciative – and I knit many beautiful things for her over the years; my sister Sharon was neither steady nor prolific as a knitter, but she chose the most amazing projects and the quality of her work was incredible.

Shawl:  2014 TTL Mystery Shawl – Algiers.

Finally, as a mother…

This is the part where I had to wing it because I ran out of time… and this is the gist of it, I think.

Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d answer, “A mother.”

When I actually became a mother, I was stumped! We were between houses in Oregon and lived in a motel for the first week of Katie’s life, and I had to go to a phone booth when I needed to call my mom for advice. She was encouraging, but never had an answer for my questions, telling me that she just couldn’t remember… having five kids in six years, she just did whatever she had to do to get through each day!

Mom & Joe came out to Oregon when Katie was 6 weeks old and within minutes I was put at ease. “Oh, you can hold a baby like THAT??” And I was immediately reassured and relaxed into motherhood.

Our experiences as young mothers and as mothers of teens were quite different, but as the mother of adult children… a friend... I couldn’t have asked for better. We used to do so much together and had so much fun – she set a good example that I try to follow in my relationships with my three daughters.

 

20 August 2014

Happiness is...

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* * * * *

We picked up Kate and drove directly to our favorite Mexican restaurant for chimichangas, tacos, burritos, and 2-for-1 margaritas!

WELCOME HOME, KATE!!

We'll all be running around today -- cars in for service, hair appointments, shopping, LUNCH! I can't remember the last time I spent a day like that with ALL of my girls. Probably not since they were little and I was in charge.

(Junebug's looking pretty gingery, no? There's a little hair growth happening.)

 

19 August 2014

A mystery no more!

It hasn't been a mystery to anyone for a while, now, but it was when I started back in March of last year -- Romi's first Mystery Shawl!

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I was certain, about a month ago, that I still had this project as a WIP -- with just a few border repeats left to go -- and was ready to make it an FO*. Imagine my surprise when I finally located it and found it completely finished -- ends woven in and everything! It needed only to be blocked!

Well, it sat around for a while again, but I needed to "accomplish something" last Sunday, so I gave it a soak and pinned it out.

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It's big, gorgeous, and so very soft. I'll get a modeled shot soon...

One of my favorite models is winging her way home from Edinburgh! She is in Detroit, as we speak, waiting to board for the last leg. So excited for her to finally meet & squeeze the Junebug!!

*I made Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl an FO, instead! As is apparently my M.O. of late, it needs only to be blocked... stay tuned.

 

13 August 2014

Choices

It's been a pretty emotional week. We've been preparing for my mother's memorial celebration for a while now, but now it's right around the corner and... it's looming large. We've been working on photos, music, etc., and I've been connecting -- reconnecting -- with many people, near, far & off the radar. Some folks have been in the periphery for almost my entire life but we never actually held a conversation or corresponded as adults.

The death of Robin Williams earlier this week was as shocking to me as, I'm sure, it was to you... and to your kids. My kids loved him for Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire as much as I did for Mork & Mindy, Good Morning, Vietnam, and all of those late-night talk show guest spots (and much more).

I've shared a couple of things that I've found meaningful relating to depression and mental health on social media, which has been bursting at the seams with that type of sharing over the past few days, not all of it good by any stretch. A friend asked about Robin, Why choose hopelessness? And I thought, Well, it wasn't really a choice! But the better answer came from another: He did not have the benefit of clarity. He didn't choose darkness; darkness chose him, and held him close.

And last night at knitting, I learned of Lauren Bacall's death.

Icons. Mesmerizing. Unforgettable.

Meanwhile, we're in the FINAL COUNTDOWN until Kate's return! Six more sleeps.

There's another baseball game on the docket tomorrow night, and another wedding this weekend!

Ups and downs, people. The circle of life. There's all kinds of it going on around here.

* * * * *

A little bit of silly fun helps to keep things in balance, and that's why I'm thrilled that it's Knitters' Hunk and Knitters' Chick time! Plus, eye candy. Nominations are OPEN! You have until Friday, August 15th, to submit your names HERE -- rules here -- up to three each.

These are mine:

Hiddles

Tom Hiddleston

Fassbender

Michael Fassbender

Hardy

 

Tom Hardy

Mia-Wasikowska

Mia Wasikowska

Bening

Annette Bening

Stone

Emma Stone

Who would you like to hang out with, or just have near, while you knit?  :)

And now... THINGS TO DO!!

 

 

11 August 2014

Up for air

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I took 6-month photos of Junebug last month in which there was a lot of drool. He's been drooling for a while now... lots and lots of drool, and tooth talk for months... and FINALLY, over the weekend, he's cut his first two teeth!

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We're all very happy about it! Hehehe. (It's everyone's favorite photo!) He's crying because he's had ENOUGH of Grandma and her camera. Except for the drool and the need to chew on everything, you'd never have known that he was teething.

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I went to my first-ever baseball game at Miller Park on Friday to celebrate Addy's 7th birthday -- it was his first big game, too!

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The Brewers played the Dodgers and won -- it was a great game and a good time was had by all!!

That's all I've time for now... back soon, I hope. (Not wishing my life away, but c'mon September... I'll be happy to see you.)

 

04 August 2014

Farm to Table

I've been saying "yes" to almost every good thing that comes my way this summer, so when my friend Ann invited me to a dinner at her CSA farm... well YEAH! This type of event has been on my bucket list for a while.

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On my 57th Happy Day, I took one of "grandma's dishes" to Park Ridge Organics to share a fabulous farm-to-table meal prepared by Jill Chisholm of Paddock Club in Elkhart Lake.

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Due to unsettled weather, our dinner was served in the barn. It cleared up from time to time, but also poured buckets, so the decision to move indoors was sound! And it was so cozy and cute.

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The event began with a social hour, featuring a lovely nectarine sangria or fresh lemonade and appetizers. Oh yum.

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I mostly ate my food instead of photographing it, so I'll have to use my words.

My favorite appetizer was a pea pod with a lovely mixture of small-dice cooked beets, fresh basil & fresh mozzarella spooned onto one end (above). It looked as if the pea pod had been used as a scoop. Very neat to eat, and so tasty! I think goat cheese would be fun to try sometime -- I love goat cheese with beets.

Another fave was heirloom grape tomatoes -- every single one cut on the bottom so it would sit flat on the plate, seeds and pulped scooped out -- filled with a mixture of small-dice green beans, preserved lemon, parmesan cheese, parsley and dill, and drizzled with olive oil. It was such a pretty plate with all the colorful varieties!

The hot appetizer was a mushroom cap stuffed with tasso smoked pork shoulder, okra, cabbage, and celery, with creole seasoning. Delicious!

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I've driven by Park Ridge Organics many times on my way home from points south; it's located on my favorite side of the lake -- the side less traveled. I live at the north end of Lake Winnebago and if traveling from points south, until I'm through Fond du Lac at the bottom of the lake, I have options -- continue racing up US Hwy 41 on the west side of the lake, or take a right for a more leisurely drive up the east side. It's 2-lane state highways that mosey through small towns, picturesque farmland, the Bible Belt of Wisconsin, and offers some of the most beautiful views of the lake.

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The 3-course meal was simply spectacular. For several days afterward, it was the standard by which I seriously judged every morsel that dared come near my lips, lest my tastebuds and the memory of that wonderful meal be sullied. Hello, FOOD.SNOB.

We began with a salad - green beans, romaine lettuce, pickled walla walla onion, cherry tomato, Sartori BelliVitano Gold cheese, dressed with a macadamia nut-dill vinaigrette.

The beverage pairing was a choice of 3 Sheeps Cirque du Wit wheat ale or Guild White Wine (there was a local connection, but I don't remember what it was). I chose the ale.

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The entree was fresh grilled pork loin and lemon-braised pork shoulder from Golden Bear Farm, served with snow peas and pickled kohlrabi, caramelized green and purple kale with carrot, celery and walla walla onion, and deer creek cheddar grits.

Um. We pretty much licked (in a manner of speaking) all of the service plates clean!

The beverage choice was 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides I.P.A. or Guild Red Wine; again, I chose the beer.

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The final course was dessert. Oh my.

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Brachetto cherries and Berry Dairy black & red raspberries served with oatmeal crumble, and topped with celery and lemon balm ice cream.

Um. Yes, you read that right:  CELERY ICE CREAM! It was so fabulously different and delicious. I loved it.

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And then it was time to drive home.

They have a 5-course farm dinner coming up next month... I've been invited and am so tempted, but not sure it'll work out.

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But someday I shall return!

And someday, somewhere, I shall also be Outstanding In the Field.

 

01 August 2014

Thirty-one more of #100happydays

That's 61 so far!

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1. 2-for-1 Margaritas on Tuesday!, 2. Almost back on track. #ttlmysteryshawl14, 3. Such a flippin' pretty morning..., 4. #100happydays, 5. Happy Days, 6. Llama card, par avion, Royal Mail, 7. Happy Days, 8. Great day to be a sky watcher..., 9. Happy Days, 10. Lovin' these drama queen petunias in the barrels at work, 11. Gramma's babysitting, 12. Market Watch, 13. My first pedi of the season, 14. I was a little early for the #polarvortexinjuly, 15. Happy Days, 16. Happy Days, 17. Happy Days, 18. Beautiful sunset at the end of a really fun day of getting our tourist on, 19. Lovely day for a beach wedding, 20. At the day-after-the-wedding Beach BBQ, 21. Caramelized figs on honey mascarpone, 22. Earlybirds at LAX, 23. I brought a little of LA home with me, 24. Ice Cream date, 25. Grass is growing nicely, 26. Happy Days, 27. Farm dinner, 28. Hex, 29. I also love the weather, 30. Cherishing this sweet babe at this sweet moment31. Knit night!

 

30 July 2014

La, la, L.A.

(A picture-heavy post. Just so ya know.)

I winged my way to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, invited by my sister Ann to be her guest at a wedding. We both had enough frequent flyer miles for the trip but, alas, on different airlines. Thankfully, we were able to depart/arrive to/from the same airports with no more than an hour difference and only a terminal/gate away, as the case may be! (I love GRB & ATW, my small city airports!!)

THURSDAY - ARRIVAL

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The flights both there and back were incredibly beautiful. We arrived in L.A. on Thursday evening, found each other, took the shuttle to Avis, waited in a very long line (that, thankfully, moved right along for the most part), and rented a car -- a red Mustang convertible! It's California!!

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We put the top down and drove to the Wilshire Motel, where we were booked for our first two of five nights. What a great little place -- cute, clean, good location, and very reasonably priced! The only improvement I'd make would be in decor; absolutely adorable on the outside and almost untouched structurally/architecturally on the inside, some vintage-y colors and furnishings would knock it out of the park. Our hosts were fantastic. I would stay here again in a heartbeat (with or without improvements in decor!). (I'm available for consult!)

FRIDAY - SANTA MONICA & HOLLYWOOD

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Santa Monica Beach was just a few mile straight down Wilshire Boulevard. We easily found a place to park in the morning (watch for cyclists!) and it was a nice walk, either by sidewalk or sand (we chose sand), to the Santa Monica Pier.

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The park was closed 'til mid-afternoon for a private party on Friday, which was absolutely fine because we'd already planned on our "real" visit for nighttime. Bright lights!

HELLO TO HOLLYWOOD

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We got our tourist on and went up to Hollywood Boulevard to walk amongst the stars. My main mission there was to find (Sid Grauman's) (Mann's) TCL Chinese Theatre... it will always be Grauman's to me. We weren't disappointed!

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A portrait of Eminem at Sweet! made of... M&Ms!

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We did some shopping (souvenirs and candy, along with some window- w/selfies in the mirror) (I believe I am now the shortest person in the family!), took pictures with wax figures and sidewalk stars.

On the recommendation of the guy at the flip-flop store (!), we had lunch at the Pig 'n Whistle. He did not steer us wrong! Annie had the most amazing Roasted Brussel Sprout Salad, and mine was Roasted Beet (how could I not?). We had dessert at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain... and, OMG, that was almost too much! Good thing we were on vacation.

We drove over to The Huntington Library, but it was not long before closing and not quite worth the full price of admission, so we spent some time -- some very good and productive time -- in the gift shop. Fabulous gift shop at The Huntington, in case anyone needs to know. I left a lot behind.

We stopped at Whole Foods on the way back and bought more beet salad, some crackers, goat cheese, local beer, and ate a wonderful little dinner in our cute little kitchen on Wilshire, and then...

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We made our way back to the Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel and rollercoaster. It was a beautiful evening, and a lovely end to our first day in L.A.

SATURDAY - WEDDING DAY!

The wedding was on the beach at Oxnard, so we checked out of the Wilshire Motel and drove up through Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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We didn't stop in Malibu, but we did find ourselves at the gate to The Getty Villa! I apologized, intending to turn around, as I was aware that (free) tickets were required and we didn't have them -- not really planning that stop -- but the gateman gave us a couple and we parked our steed. We took a small guided tour -- loved our wonderful young docent -- to learn about some highlights of the collection, and then wandered the grounds a bit on our own, had a little lunch. There was an art class happening, so busy people were sprinkled throughout. It was all rather unexpected and fun to come upon them here or there, one or two or three; quite lovely. I'm so happy we accidentally stopped there.

We arrived in Oxnard prior to normal check-in time, but I'd called the day before and while not guarantted, the wonderful folks at Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor had our room ready early... thankfully! We had just enough time to freshen up and get dressed, before heading to the beach for the most wonderful wedding!

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SO WONDERFUL! Reunited after 40+ years (they'd dated in high school), the couple incorporated so many things about the people and places that are most important to them. One of the (many) things I loved best was the sand... it was "supposed to be" mixed together -- sand from Portugal, Yosemite, Brasil and Hawaii, all special to this couple in some way -- but they layered it, beautifully, and then each scooped some sand at their feet and poured that on top... because Mandalay Beach at Oxnard, CA, is now quite special, too!

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The reception was held at Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine. Oh my. Nearly everyone who works there is from Brazil! The food was fantastic, the caipirinha flowing. We danced all night...

SUNDAY - BEACH BBQ

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There was a beach barbecue on Sunday and all I kept thinking was that we were those people -- the people at the beach having a party and a cookout and agreat time that you always wished was you!

That was us! There was swimming, body-surfing and boogie-boarding; music and singing and juggling; food and drink and laughter; birthday massages on the beach!!

That was us! We were those people! It was so fun.

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Never far from our minds was our family, in particular those we've lost and the one that should have been with us. We had some signs -- the guy in his own red convertible who drove up behind us at a stoplight, Andrea Bocelli blaring (Hi Mom!), the street performer singing Tracy Chapman's Fast Car on Hollywood Boulevard (Hi Sharon!).

When we saw the Kombucha DEPARTMENT in the refrigerator case at Ralph's on Sunday, we absolutely thought of our sister Karen. We even took a photo and sent it to her, fermenting fiend that she is, at the moment. Karen shared the photo on FB and wrote, "My sisters are making me jealous! They are like the wicked stepsisters sometimes! Ha, ha!"

And I'm pretty sure she won't miss the next outing with her sisters! (She had a good reason.)

We brought home some more groceries to "eat in" on at our hotel on Sunday while we watched American Hustle in preparation for Monday.

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The view of the harbor from our balcony on Monday morning... "paradise" comes to mind.

MONDAY - CRAIG FERGUSON DAY!

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But first, La Brea Tar Pits! We didn't have time to visit the Page Museum, but we did have time to visit the gift shop... we had a good time in gift shops on this trip!

Then there was a long period of standing in line in the hot, hot sun. Then sitting around in the shade. Then walking up a bunch of stairs to wait in line again, and finally into the studio. Without cell phones, as they warned us that they wouldn't be allowed and we'd have to check & then claim them, so we actually talked with our neighbors in line and it was GREAT! There were actually two shows taped that day, both Monday's and Friday's, because Craig was going to be at Comic Con in San Diego on Friday. The big name stars were were Octavia Spencer and Bradley Cooper (hence, American Hustle the night before) (were were unaware of the second show, or we might have also watched The Help!). I'm looking forward to Get On Up.

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After the show, we went over to The Grove and had dinner at The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge. It just happened to be "seafood month" and the featured dish that week was half of a grilled lobster with a Blackstrap cocktail and dessert (grilled figs on honey mascarpone)... so good.

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Have I mentioned how much fun I had planning this trip? Annie said "let's go to L.A." and I pretty much took it from there. I love planning trips like this! The Farmer's Daughter Hotel kept showing up on my radar and finally I clicked and booked us for Monday night -- it was exactly where we needed to be! Annie was pretty happy with all of my suggestions and choices until this one, which we happened to pass a few times on Monday morning -- there were just a couple of things that made her question my choice (something about window treatments) -- but it turned out to be a STELLAR choice. Not only were they having a whiskey tasting happy hour when we checked in, our room was absolutely adorable (yay decor!), and the staff was amazing. Walking distance to CBS, Farmer's Market, and The Grove... it was perfect.

TUESDAY - DEPARTURE

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I opted to include breakfast at Tart in our hotel package, and that was magnificent. That's my crab cakes benedict, Ann had corned beef hash -- both excellent.

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We made our way to the aiport to return our car and make our way to the terminal. It could not have been a better trip, and I like L.A. so much more than I ever thought I would! I can't wait to plan our next get-away! Heh.

BRINGING IT HOME

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Did you know that L.A. has an average of 329 Days of Sun each year? It says so right there on a can of lager than I brought home in my suitcase. Cheers!  :)

 

29 July 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Let's Do It Again

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Patterns I Could Knit Again

As I perused my Ravelry Projects, I was surprised at how many patterns I've already repeatedly knit!

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Sometimes I knit the same pattern two or three times, each in a different size: Soakers, Cloche Divine, Wallaby, Aviatrix.

Circles in wool & cotton; the desert (with purple mountain's majesty) and the forest

Sometimes I knit the same pattern multiple times because I was working out specific modifications: Afghani  Cap, Log Cabin Slipper Socks.

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Sometimes it was gift knitting: Sachets, Duffers, Oddfellow, Calorimetry.

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Sometimes it was all about the yarn/color (which also comes into play with gift knitting, you know, to keep those multiples interesting): Different Lines, Stripe Study, Baktus, Noro Striped Scarf, Mitered Mittens, Shape It.

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And sometimes, it truly is a pattern that I just love: Ragtops, Vintage Baby Cardi, Cabled Pullover.

I think it's safe to say that I'd knit almost any of those patterns yet again!

For the sake of this exercise, though, I thought I'd concentrate less on patterns that I've already knit more than once, and look ahead a bit more... while also looking back, I guess! Heh.

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1.  Ragtop. Yes, I've already knit at least four pair, but I love them and wear them and I will definitely knit them again!

2.  Foolproof. This was a fun knit and, to me, one of those "blank canvas" types of patterns. The design is great, but the yarn/color choices make it.

3.  Entrelac Scarf. I love the texture of this scarf, and anything Noro keeps it interesting -- amazingly entertaining, actually. (I know I'm not the only one.) Also, the Noro Striped Scarf.

4.  Fib. I love that sweater, but I would knit it a bit narrower and longer the next time. Maybe take some accurate measurements and stuff, you know?

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5.  Parcheesi. I've actually already started one... the colors are more muted and I'm not sure I love it and it's also fingering weight again. I'd love to knit it bed-size and in worsted.

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6.  Demne. This was such an interesting little sweater to knit, I've been threatening to knit another since it came off the needles. And I will!

7.  Pull Gaspard. I *love* this design; my gauge was a little off on the first and yarn choice probably not the greatest. I'll definitely be knitting another, larger size.

8.  Little Monster. The cutest kiddo pants ever! Junah needs a pair, don't you think?!

9.  Garter Yoke Baby Cardi. Fantastic pattern.

Finished!

10.  Dimorphous Mittens. These make so much sense! Genius, really.

* * * * *

There's lots to catch up on... my trip to L.A., not to mention the last of Scotland, and a great Farm-Field Dinner.

Meanwhile, Junah had his first overnighter at Grandma & Grandpa's last weekend!

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Fun times in the kitchen sink!

For reference: He's one week old in the "Soakers" photo; 6.5 months in the sink!

 

15 July 2014

Ten on Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things About My Bookcase

1.  I moved from NW Wisconsin back to NE Wisconsin in 1978 to start a new job, and I lived at home for a short time while I saved money for a car and whatnot. I didn't have any furniture of my own, to speak of, but I did have books and I decided that I needed to buy some shelves.

2.  I didn't have a lot of money, and I didn't need a very big shelf unit, but I wanted something nice so I thought a resale shop would be my best bet. You know, maybe I could find something suitable for around $20.

3.  I went to literally every resale shop in the area and came up with absolutely nothing.  The last place on my list was more antique shop than resale, but I was desperate.

4.  I recall that the shop owner showed me a few pieces, but there was only one that caught my eye.

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5.  It was tall -- much larger than I actually needed -- and fancy. It was good wood (mahogany) and had lift-up glass doors on most of the shelves, and nice hardware.

6.  And it was sectional! The sections stacked one upon the other and, except for the base and top, they could all be rearranged! One section was about twice as big as the others and had sliding doors. The base section had a drawer.

7.  It cost $450! According to one online inflation calculator, that equates to over $1600 today!

8.  The shop owner was an older man and, I don't know, I guess he could tell how much I loved that bookcase, even though it was way -- way, way, way -- out of my price range. Maybe I was young and innocent and fell hook, line & sinker, but I believed him when he told me that he thought it was important for young people to have quality furniture, too. He reduced the price and offered to let me make monthly payments. He even let me take it home right that very day.

9.  I have hauled that thing up stairs and down, across the country and back again, from one room to another. One of the things I like best is that I can easily move it myself! Once, lazily, I tried to move it without emptying it and taking it apart, and can still hear that distinctive "crack" of breaking wood -- stopped me in my tracks. A few small inappropriate nails toward the bottom on one side attests to both my carelessness and my lack of repair skills at the time.

10.  But, oh, how I love and cherish that thing to this day! It was made by the Globe-Wernicke Company (most sections still have a label affixed) and I'll never ever part with it.

 

11 July 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends

Caught up in the excitement and camaraderie of a knit-along with, among others, some of my oldest (in blog years) friends, I was easily tempted into signing up for the TTL Mystery Shawl 2014. The prospect of dyeing my own gradient yarn for the project made it even better -- it's been a long time since I spent time in the dye kitchen. The pattern would be released in five clues, one each Sunday in June, and I was amped up to blog about it (I even created a special category) and looked forward to photographing it a couple of times for #100happydays.

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I wound and dyed the yarn on the last day of May and managed to cast on and knit a few rows on Sunday, June 1st -- right on time.

A few days later, on Wednesday, I helped my stepdad take my mom to the ER. She was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia... partly the result of complications from side effects of a new chemo. By Saturday afternoon, after two episodes of arterial fibrillation, Mom was transferred to ICU where she remained until she died 16 days later.

The last time I actually spoke with my mother was Friday, the day before going to ICU. I'd brought my knitting to work on while we visited, and she asked about it. I told her about how a mystery pattern works, and how fun it was to dye yarn again. I had no idea that it would be our last real conversation, and that it would be about my knitting and this shawl. It's not surprising, though, she was always interested in what I was doing, and I can't tell you how many times over the years she'd say, half-exasperated/half-prideful, "You're always busy doing something!"

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I was happy for the distraction that the knitting provided while Mom's condition fluctuated, eventually declining, over those 19 days. I was grateful, even, to tink back and re-knit many rows (14, I think) of Clue 2, stitch by stitch, to right an error. My knitting was something that I could fix.

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Probably the most complicated lace pattern I've ever knit, arguably moreso because I'm one of those rare super freaks that works from written directions alone, it gave me something to concentrate on and think about that wasn't my mother, though of course I thought about my mother constantly.

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I looked forward to knitting every night -- after work, after visiting the hospital, no matter how late it was... I had to take time. I enjoyed following along, contributing, reading about others' progress with the pattern, how they felt about their colors, how they were working out the transitions*, concerns over yardage and whether one had enough stitch markers in their possession, what types of needles people were using. I spent time carefully highlighting my pattern clues, color coding the different sections so that it would be easier to keep my place; I employed sticky notes to further zero in; breaking it down, keeping control.

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A margarita-induced setback late in the game resulted in the tinking of a few more rows, and the discovery that while I can drink and knit at the same time, a good hoppy craft beer yields the best result!

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By the end of the month, I was on track and nearing the finish. Therapy knitting at its finest, I was really pretty astounded at my progress and, without being too sappy about it, gave a thankful nod to Mom & Sharon, my guardian knitting angels. I was in first grade when my mother taught me to knit for the first time. Though her prowess in knitting never matched that of her sewing, she was knowledgeable and appreciative. My sister Sharon was neither steady nor prolific as a knitter over the years, but she chose the most amazing projects and the quality of her work was incredible.

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Thanks to my model, my youngest sister Ann. She models all (2) of my TTL Mystery Shawls! The first was finished just before they left for Brazil, this one as they returned.

*1-4-2-3-2-2 as suggested by Terry, and probably because it gave me one more slightly complicated aspect to control.

 

10 July 2014

Randomly, oh baby!

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 Um, yeah, there will soon be teeth! This is from a quick 6-month photo shoot with the J-man yesterday afternoon. Six months!!

I'm working on a post about my TTL Mystery Shawl. It's finished and it's beautiful! There's a lot more than knitting wrapped up in that project, though. I'm still processing, I guess.

A week from today I'll be in L.A. for the first time... if you don't count a drive-by on the way to Disneyland, ca. 1995. My sister invited me to accompany her to a Brazilian-themed wedding and I jumped. We tacked on an extra day or so for fun. One of the things we'll be doing for sure is attending a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson! I'm so excited. Also open for suggestions: You have a free day in L.A., what do you do?? What's not to miss?

I decided that I didn't have anything to wear to a beach wedding, nor to the next day's BBQ, so after work on Tuesday I took everything I learned from the master of retail therapy (Mom) and applied it to myself! I had indulged a little, had fun, and I have something to wear! Thank you to the Mses Jill and Fisher.  ;)

 

 

07 July 2014

The 4th of July

I squeezed about 20 lemons by hand (4 full cups) and grated a half-dozen small beets (1 cup) to make Beet Lemonade!

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Rusty, Maddy and I each had a little taste, and it declared it DELICIOUS!

About mid-morning, I loaded it and a bunch of other stuff into my car and ran off to do the next thing.

And everything was great until the jug fell over and dumped the lemonade all over the back seat. I heard it, realized what was happening, and watched it slosh, but there was nothing I could do about it. Ugh. It was a quadruple batch, so that would be about two gallons. There was maybe a quart that didn't spill. The rest was on the floor, soaked into the seat, dripping out of the pocket on the door.

Not good. A big mess. I was hurrying = not thinking. I also had to change my clothes about 3 times in the span of :30. There was about an hour where I was coming off the rails!

DEEP BREATHS... and ReaLemon to the rescue. I just didn't have it in me to start over with the lemonade. I floated a sliced lemon and some strawberries on top to make it look pretty. meh.

Meanwhile...

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It was a beautiful day. No doubt Mom would have made a few tweaks, but I think she'd have approved of our 4th of July decor. I am especially happy about the two small buntings on the window box -- she'd have loved that!

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There was plenty of food! We had grass-fed beef patties and Johnsonville Brats (the best), and I made some pulled pork with some of my favorite Howling Wolf BBQ Sauce, along with baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, chips, lots of fruit, some cheese, cookies, and...

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PIE!! Apple, Blueberry, and Cherry! Rusty made them on Friday morning; the cherries freshly plucked from Ali & Rod's back yard tree on Thursday.

 

01 July 2014

Thirty of One Hundred plus Ten

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The First 30 of 100 Happy Days*

I decided to begin #100happydays on June 1st because I knew that it would be a tough summer. I knew that my mother was failing and that this summer could be her last. I knew that it would be good for me to find some happy everyday. I could not have known that Mom would end up in the hospital on the 4th day. I couldn't have imagined -- sometimes still can't quite believe -- that she died on the 23rd.

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Ten on Tuesday:  10 Ideas for July 4th

The 4th of July was one of my mother's favorite holidays. She loved decorating. (Period.) And patriotic decorating was especially fun! We always had a BBQ, and we will this year, too. We'll do our best in the decorating & hospitality department, but no one does it better than Mom.

1.  Fly the flag(s)!

2.  Use all the patriotic tableware!

3.  On the grill:  burgers, brats, and hot dogs

4.  On the side:  salads (potato, fruit, three-bean, quinoa, etc.), baked beans, potato chips

5.  For dessert:  homemade from-scratch cherry & apple pie

6.  With ice cream!

7.  Also for dessert:  Karen's famous chocolate caramel bars**

8.  Lots of outside fun -- be it soccer, softball, or just lounging in the sun

9.  Fireworks!

10.  Or, for those of us who don't care to do battle with mosquitoes and/or traffic, A Capitol Fourth and The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular!

* On Flickr:  1. Ta-da! This is the best of 6, 2. Mom's house, 3. Oh, gorgeous 3rd of June, 4. My garden... , 5. Home, 6. Sunshine makes me happy, 7. Half Way North, 8. Let there be grass, 9. A busy Vicki is... good, 10. So be it, 11. These three, 12. I love making job site deliveries on beautiful summer days, 13. Knitting break, 14. #thiswouldnthappenwithmargarine, 15. Happy 1st Anniversary to Ali & Rod!, 16. Japanese fern, 17. June 17, 2014, 18. Quick lunch & iced tea break, 19. Tough day, 20. Cousins (first, once removed) meet for the first time. WELCOME HOME to my sister & her family!, 21. Helped this gorgeous happy couple & their families by capturing memories of theitlr amazing wedding day, 22. Gonna have to latergram today, 23. June 23, 2014, 24. My sister & her family closed on their new house today, 25. So happy to have these boys back close to home again, 26. 4th of July shopping, 27. I drove straight home from work today, 28. My first week at the Farmers Market, 29. Prepping for the Fourth, 30. Mom.

**She has threatened promised a "healthier" version... and I sure hope it measures up. (IMHO, some things just shouldn't be messed with.)

 

26 June 2014

Busy-ness and distraction

Junebug was part of the airport welcoming committee last Friday. We heard the flight arrive from Atlanta. We watched passengers wait for and claim their luggage. We heard the boarding and departure of the return flight to Atlanta. But we didn't see anyone we knew! Eventually, no one was left in the baggage claim area except for us... and 23 bags circling the carousel! All but one of those bags belonged to my sister and her family and as we unloaded the carousel, they came sauntering down the hallway with a bag of fresh cheese curds. Priorities!!

Ah, Wisconsin!

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Based on experience over the past almost-week, 5 months old is the very best time to be introduced to your 9yo and almost-7yo cousins! Expressive enough to be interesting, not mobile enough to be a nuisance. The big boys just can't get enough of him!

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I watched the big boys for a while yesterday afternoon while their parents went shopping for a car. When they returned, I told the boys to tell them what kind of babysitter I was. They said, "The sleeping kind!" Haha. We'd been sitting on the couch and they were showing me their FIFA World Cup sticker books. I learned all about how good/bad each team was, who their best player was, and of course there were some standouts -- the best player of all, the guy who bites, and the guy most recently bitten. Heh. At some point, I'd rubbed my hand over Addy's face and he said that he liked having his face rubbed. "Well, here," I said, fluffing up some pillows, "let's get comfy." Mack got his book and we had some quiet time... and next thing I knew, I heard the boys ushering in a former neighbor lady. I don't think I slept for long, but boy I sure did sleep.

Things are getting done. At times, Monday morning seems as though it was months ago already. At other times, the sadness is undeniably fresh.

 

23 June 2014

Mum

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Marjorie Donovan

January 31, 1938 - June 23, 2014

 

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The boys picked a vaseful of flowers from Mom's garden because they knew how much she'd love that. They loved their Nonni so much.

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The cousins finally had an opportunity to spend some time together and, boy, would Mum have enjoyed that. They stuck like glue! It's going to be so fun to see their friendship develop and grow as they do.

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Even though this morning's forecast said that it was supposed to rain all day... and for the next three or four... the sun came out! Blue sky and lovely clouds over the roof of her house. And guess what? The sun will be out, for the most part, all week. (Hi Mom.)

 

15 June 2014

June 15th

So, today is my daughter's 1st wedding anniversary, the day my twin sisters were born, and Fathers Day.

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A year ago today was one of the best days ever.

HAPPY 1st ANNIVERSARY, ALI & ROD!!

Mom-Twins

54 Years ago today, my mother was in the hospital for a very different -- and much happier -- reason! And, also, SURPRISE! The legend goes (and, yes, it is a legend): Having been told at her OB/GYN visit the day before that she had another month to go, and to expect a big baby boy, she was in the hospital a day later and delivered TWIN GIRLS! The hospital staff awaited placenta after Sharon (aka, Baby A) was born, and lo & behold, a half-hour later it was Karen (aka, Baby B) instead.

It boggles the mind -- almost as much as a woman who could look THAT GOOD holding newborn twins. That is my mom.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHARON & KAREN!!

My mother is still in ICU, tweaking here & adjusting there; it takes time. And patience. And, oh, I just can't thank you all enough for your good wishes.

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Happy Fathers Day to my pretty terrific husband, and dad to our three daughters. (Note to self: updated photo of hubby & daughters.)

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(we did this)

HAPPY FATHERS DAY, RUSTY!!

 

12 June 2014

Send in the juju

Fam

My mom's been in the hospital since a week ago yesterday, in ICU since Saturday afternoon. She's been undergoing treatment for cancer for the past 18 months, and complications from side effects of a new (to her) chemo treatment that was recently begun led to her being admitted with pneumonia.

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There it is in a nutshell, and it seems that's all I can manage. Please send good juju, mojo, karma, vibes, wishes, love, luck, and prayers. Improvements are slow, and maybe a cosmic boost will help to boot her out of ICU in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the little dude in the photo above is Mack and he turned 9 yesterday! Can you believe it? Junah is 5 months old today, and I told him that it won't be long before he's 9... only a few thousand days! I intend to savor every single one, but they sure seem to fly by fast.

Thanks in advance for all the love.

 

06 June 2014

Scotland - yum

A week later, I finally downloaded photos from memory cards to my computer... and these aren't them. I've barely had a chance to look at them. It's been a week.

Instead, these are all of the food-related photos from my phone. We found some marvelous places to eat & drink, in Edinburgh and beyond!

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I loved the Fresh Mint Tea display at The Elephant House, and who wouldn't love "Cake Of The Day"? I was in need of an Americano at the time (Friday), and as tempting as Lavender Cake is, I could not get enough shortbread! Also, I did go to the W.C., as everyone must do at The Elephant House, and spent some time reading but, alas, no photos of that.

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That is the perfect & delicious Deli Plate at Edinburgh Larder for lunch -- it was not the last time on this trip that I had some variation of beet (-root) mash.

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Lovecrumbs was a must-do coffee break. Unfortunately, we visited quite late in the day and the selection of cakes was... zero. I had a delicious pecan bar with my latte, but still feel a little pang when I see their instagram photos in my feed. It's worth a look... beautiful food, lovely styling. *snifffff*

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There was nothing to do but drown my sorrows. Cocktails at Bar Kohl - Lavender Gin for Kate & me, Grapefruit for Rusty. Quite refreshing.

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We'd passed Earthy on our way to the Botanic Garden on Saturday, and that's where Kate & I chose to have lunch, while Rusty went off to meet up with an artist acquaintance. The market was just gorgeous and, oh, my kingdom for eggs like that! I can't remember exactly what I had here, but I know it was fabulous -- the menu changes frequently, depending on what's available. I think there was a poached egg or two involved; I had a little thing for poached eggs on this trip, too.

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Ice cream break on the Royal Mile!

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On the recommendation of one of Kate's friends, we made reservations at Field for dinner on Saturday night, and it was just lovely. From top left, Kate had Fillet of Hake with Parmesan Dauphinoise, Chopped Egg & Asparagus; Rusty had Grilled Scottish Sea Trout, Wild Garlic Gnocchi, Heritage Tomatoes, Roast Red Peppers, Anchovies; and I had one of the featured dishes, Scottish Beef with Mushrooms and Potatoes and was most certainly described/named much better than that, but it couldn't have been any more delicious.

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We were in Inverness on Sunday, and Kate had scouted out The Mustard Seed Restaurant on a previous visit. It is located in an old church and was quite beautifully done. I had (starter) a Scottish salmon & potato cake, served with a roast beetroot and horseradish puree, and (main) grilled sea bass with crushed new potatoes and a roast cherry tomato & smoked paprika sauce.

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On Monday we were in the Highlands... rather remote, at that, and also arriving fairly late. Not every establishment is open everyday out there, but luckily Jan & Mark knew where to send us... right down the road to Badachro Inn where we picked seafood specials off the menu board. Hello, little langoustines!

We bought cold cuts, cheese, crackers, wine & beer and had some simple late meals in the atrium at our B&B a couple of times, followed by a Scrabble game or two -- using UK word lists (a whole new world of two-letter words) -- while planning the next day's activities.

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At a cute upstairs coffee shop on Isle of Skye after our trek up to The Storr. We had yummy pub food (fish & chips!) at the rustic Seumas Bar in Sligachan that day.

There were plenty of lovely meals that I didn't document. I satisfied a sudden craving for pizza with a margherita for lunch at The Steading Bistro in Gairloch, with enough leftover to help fluff up one of our at-home meals. We had a fabulous dinner at The Whistlestop Cafe in Kinlochewe -- the building isn't really going to catch your eye, but the food is fantastic (with lots of great specials) as is the staff! The cafe isn't licensed, so we were invited to BYOB, which they kindly put on ice for us.

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After a Steak & Guinness pie for lunch at The Seaforth, Rusty hiked down to water's edge while Katie and I walked around Ullapool, where I was charmed by this little sidewalk eggs & tatties stand!

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As previously mentioned, it was a real treat to visit Crannog Seafood Restaurant in Fort William for the second time! And it was fun to eat "American" food at Wannaburger in Edinburgh.

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Here are two butts in the one-butt kitchen in our airbnb Glasgow flat; there was a third, but none of us could move! We had dinner out on one of our nights in Glasgow, at The Manchurian Restaurant, walking distance from the flat.

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Pretty (and delicious) cocktails at The Voodoo Rooms!

Next up: scenery!

02 June 2014

So, of course...

Upon returning home from vacation, I immediately went over for some grandson snuggles!

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He wore some snazzy woolly footwear from Aunt Kate for his 20-week photo yesterday. Happy little pudgeroo!

I was right back to work on Wednesday for the rest of the week, so Saturday morning sans alarm clock was quite welcome.  I ended up spending the entire day in my PJs -- an unintentional but completely welcome Pajama Day! I can't remember the last time I had one of those, and I got so much done.

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I even measured, wound, and dyed some yarn for Kirsten's TTL Mystery Shawl 14! I was vaguely aware that this was coming up but had little intention of knitting it... until I caved last Thursday and bought the pattern. I'm loving the camaraderie of knitting this project along with so many long-time blog friends -- it feels like a good, old-fashioned knit-along!

The project doesn't require a gradient yarn, but I didn't have 500 yards of anything else (recommended solid or semi-solid) that would work, so thought I'd try dyeing a gradient myself. I'm very pleased with the result, though it was apparent from the first dip that the numbers I'd worked out were purely mathematical exercise. I punted and all is well, with an extra hank of a medium-dark to spare, but I would never be able to repeat this exactly!

Something to work on, perhaps? For a lot of reasons, I haven't dyed in a while; I'd recently packed up and moved all my dye stuff back home so I was digging into lots of boxes to come up with everything I needed. It felt good to be back at it, and the response has been good, so who knows... maybe there's more to come.

Hope you had a great weekend!

 

30 May 2014

Scotland is for Selfies... especially at Castles

I started with the selfies even before departure. Here we are, having both sailed through security at our local airport with TSA Pre-check. Rusty had his paint box packed in his carry-on, which included a few tools and things, and that was enough for a special look-through and no TSA Pre-check for him on the way home. I had it, though, and I'm not ashamed to say that I used it. I was hot, I was tired, I comfortably waited for him at the end of that long, long line. Heh.

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I started taking them at every castle we visited and next thing you know, the SCOTTISH CASTLE SELFIE SERIES was born!

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Edinburgh Castle

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Inverness Castle

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Urquhart Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

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Dunrobin Castle

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Old Man of Storr (not a castle, but towering)

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Eilean Donan Castle again (WC/coffee break)

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Balloch Castle

 Once in selfie mode...

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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across the street from Mackie's of Scotland - Ice Cream (also maker of good potato crisps, including Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper flavor) (when in Scotland...)

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at Inverness Castle - River Ness behind us

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in the rental car at Inverness, READY TO GO!

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I have no idea where this is! Judging from attire and windblown-edness, it's somewhere on the Isle of Skye, maybe near Storr.

I think the smiles say everything that needs to be said here.  :)

 

 

28 May 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Memorial Day Weekend

Ten on Tuesday/Wednesday:  10 Things I Did Last Weekend

Well, it was definitely not a typical weekend -- holiday or otherwise! We returned home on Tuesday (yesterday) from 12 days in Scotland, so the weekend was the end of a pretty great vacation.

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1.  On Saturday morning, I woke up at Croft 23 after the last of our 5-night stay. People, there is truth in advertising! If nothing else, just take a minute to watch the slideshow at the top of that page; minus the brilliant sunsets, the northern lights, and the sheep (they were apparently happy elsewhere last week), it was just that beautiful. Mark and Jan were our warm and welcoming hosts, and they were marvelous. Mark is an amazing landscape photographer and it's worth a "Like" on Croft 23's Facebook page just for the almost daily photo.

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2.  Later on Saturday morning, on our way to Glasgow, we stopped at a castle to use the facilities, and also to get coffee... and a selfie. Ha. Yeah, we really did! We'd already visited Eilean Donan Castle as admission-paying tourists several days before.

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3.  We drove through more of the never-tiring Scottish Highlands. Even after six days of driving through the Scottish Highlands, we still pulled over at almost every opportunity to take photos!

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4.  We had lunch at Crannog Seafood Restaurant -- a place I've been to before!! Fort William was as far north as we'd ventured three years ago and it was on our way to Glasgow this time, so we retraced some steps. It was kind of fun to feel a bit familiar with a place.

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5.  We arrived in Glasgow for the first of two nights at an adorable 2-bedroom 3rd-floor walk-up in the west end that I found on airbnb. It was my first airbnb experience and it was good; the place was just as advertised, easy to find, very clean, and well appointed. Cute enough to live in!

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6.  On Sunday, while Rusty walked about Glasgow*, visiting galleries and museums, Katie and I drove west and met up with Yvette! I've cyber-known Yvette for years -- 10 years, to be exact (through the magic that is searching the archives, I've determined that the first time she commented on my blog was May 31, 2004!) -- and had missed her move back to Scotland from France three years ago by mere weeks. It was so fun to meet!!

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7.  We drove a bit north, again on some familiar roads, to another familiar place. We'd visited Portencross Castle at West Kilbride a couple of times three years ago. I'd scattered some of Sharon's ashes there -- because she loved Scotland and had influenced our decision to go there (instead of Ireland) -- and it didn't feel right to be so close and not visit.

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8.  On Monday, we returned our rental car in Glasgow. We had one of the most uncomfortable encounters of the trip -- any trip any of us have ever been on -- when a guy from the rental company gave us a lift to the train station. He obviously didn't want anything to do with us -- because Americans? tourists? -- no greeting, no response, completely ignoring questions and attempts at conversation, or grunting a barely audible one-word response. Thankfully, it was a short drive! It was a quick train ride back to Edinburgh for our last night.

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9.  It may seem strange that our last meal in Scotland was at Wannaburger -- basically American fast-food burgers, fries & shakes -- but it is what it is, and it was really good! I'm more than a little envious of the food scene in the UK, and these weren't your typical American fast-food burgers! Wannaburger is a favorite of the American students in Edinburgh -- comfort food. Anyway, we ate very well in Scotland. If Wannaburger was the worst, then it was the best worst. Heh. I feel as though I've gained 20 pounds in the past two weeks (is that possible?). Anyway, while Rusty took one last walk-about in Edinburgh after dinner, Katie took me to a fun and gorgeous place called The Voodoo Rooms, right around the corner/behind our hotel for cocktails (mine, left, is Where The Wild Things Are, and Kate's is Mother Earth)

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10.  Finally, having learned a little bit about whisky on this trip, we enjoyed a lovely last view from the lounge at Motel One while the sun set on our visit, capping the night with a glass of single-malt... neat (eventually adding a wee bit of water to taste).

* * * * *

Vacation was quite lovely. I fully intended to blog along the way, but our days were packed and connectivity limited. Don't worry, I'll fill you in!

* * * * *

*The Glasgow School of Art was on the list but was devastated by fire just days before our arrival in Glasgow. One of Glasgow's -- indeed, Scotland's -- great treasures, firefighters took extraordinary measures to save as much of the structure as possible, well deserving of a lovely Thank You.

 

13 May 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Let's learn something

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things/Subjects I Wish I Knew More About

I don't know... this may be another less-than-10! Most of the time, if there's something I truly want to know more about, I dive in and learn. It's not usually exhaustive research and I don't become an expert, but I've always learned more and possibly enough.

There are other things that I sometimes idly wish I knew more about -- art, history, mythology, literature, politics. I've found that my desire for this type of knowledge is often greatest after a conversation with someone to whom the word "pretentious" might apply. And, really, I know enough to happily function on a day-to-day basis. I have an open mind... things fall in.

I like to learn, but I am not an academic. I do things. I learn and make and do. Make.Do.

Most recently, over the past couple of years, I've actively pursued (in varying degrees) learning about and doing these things:

1.  Being a childbirth assistant/doula.

2.  Hand sewing.

3.  What is/how to make a moulage & sloper for pattern-making.

4.  Food and nutrition.

5.  Quilting!

I've continued to learn a little more about:

6.  Photography.

7.  Dyeing yarn.

I haven't really finished learning about any of those things but, you know, the need for certain areas of knowledge waxes and wanes like most everything else in life.

I would like to learn:

8.  Web design, HTML, and CSS. I have a leg up on the HTML because of my experience years ago as a typesetter. I can make a pretty good site (just updated Oceans and Dreams last night), but I'm certain I could make both O&D and this blog better.

9.  How to predict and/or control the future and/or weather.

10.  That way, I'd be better informed in order to pack for my vacation!!

Sheepies

Haha. And with that, I believe I've just entered the giddy stage of vacation prep!!

 

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