Weekending: Meow

I managed to get through the holidays without getting sick, even though nearly everyone around me -- whether at work or at home -- was sniffling and/or complaining of scratchy throats.

It finally caught up with me.

I think I'm going to luck out and skate through with the "lite" version... and if I'm not better by mid-week, well, predicted sunshine and mid-80s during our FL getaway will likely do the trick! I am so looking forward to renting a chair and an umbrella and parking it at the beach for a day... and getting warmed up all the way through!

I drove Kate down to ORD on Thursday for her trip to Paris-London-Edinburgh, and made it back in time to celebrate Junah's birthday... can you believe he's THREE???

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At 1, he was not so amazed by the cake; at 2, he was licking the plate...

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This year, at 3, he was all about the frosting!! Mini M&Ms are pretty good, too.

He wanted to come over to Nona's house afterwards, but of course it was too late... so there were tears when we left, but also a promise for time together on Saturday. He was over all afternoon and we had so much fun... reading, coloring, snuggling, building with Lincoln Logs!

I finished all my Pussyhat Project knitting and was able to take some photos.

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And even though I don't like how I look in hats and never wear them, I even modeled...

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Meow!

The solids are Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash (Light Pink is color #21, Dark Pink is #48), the other is Malabrigo Rios in "057 English Rose" -- all lovely washable yarns!! It was a pleasure to knit these hats for sisters/marchers!

I made the light pink one in the round on DPNs and did a 3-needle bind-off, the other two were knit on straights and seamed; there are slight differences in the length of ribbing/stockinette, but they're generally all about the same size. And headed for DC!! Ravelry project page is here.

I have finally turned my attention back to finishing the kids' Christmas presents... I know, I know... I still have an unfinished Peace Cowl, too, and a couple pairs of Squad Mitts (to mention only a couple of things).

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I saw Louise Walker's Knitted Polar Bear on Mollie Makes' Instagram feed when I was at the airport in Milwaukee in October -- on my way to Rhinebeck. I was instantly smitten and had to have it! I immediately purchased & downloaded the issue.

I had to special order the large eyes... and when I realized that the first ones I ordered on Etsy were on the literal slow boat from China, I dug some more and found a domestic source (so now I'm up to my eyeballs in large safety eyes!). Bear #1 is finished except for some extra embellishment that I want to add.

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I made the super-fluffy pom pom tail during the Packer game yesterday. It was the first time I used my Clover Pom Pom Maker -- so quick, easy, and FLUFFY!

All of the pieces are knit for Bear #2 and sewing up is well underway. If I don't get too distracted, I may even finish before we leave.

And, of course, there's an amaryllis update:

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I'm hoping that I get to see that bloom before we leave on Wednesday!


Long Weekending

On Thursday after work, I stopped by my LYS for Pussy Hat yarn!

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I was delighted to learn that the owner of the shop, along with her husband & daughter, was heading to the march Washington, DC. She gave me a wee discount on the yarn, too, since it was "for the cause." ❤

As of last night I have two finished hats -- one each in the dark & light solid. I plan to cast on a third this evening, and get them all in the mail by the weekend. If I looked any good in hats at all, I'd keep one for myself... but YUCK. I have plenty of leftovers, though, and plan on making hats for Gin & Jun... it'll be AWESOME with his sparkle shoes!

While procrastinating on Friday morning about some office work that needs to be done, I started cleaning out, organizing, and rearranging some cupboards. I had decided that if they weren't needed or used during the holidays, I was going to get rid of a set of dishes and most of the stemware.

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Well, we didn't use them... so OUT! Formerly occupying that blank spot on the right of the second shelf, those dishes had been sitting there, largely undisturbed, for years. So silly. And the wine glasses... good grief. I'm not sure why or how I accumulated so many but they, too, have just been taking up space (and getting awfully dirty).

Ali hit the jackpot, walking in at the perfect time to carry off the dishes -- and was happy to do so, saying that she barely has two plates at home that match these days! She declined the wine glasses, however, so they're currently in a box... ultimately headed to the thrift store if there are no other takers.

I moved some cookbooks, redistributed some bowls and other glassware... there's ROOM... unfilled spaces, even! I can't stop admiring my work. Heheh.

On Saturday, I played the annual game of Christmas Tetris!

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Kate helped me with the undecorating, putting away all of their ornaments and quite a few of the rest. Even while decorating, I was making plans to purge some of that holiday stuff (there was a fair bit that we didn't put on the tree in the first place)... and I ended up with two fewer boxes to put away -- one of them is full of other smaller boxes for recycling, and the other is also destined for the thrift shop. There was also a bag for the trash!

We've left the tree up with only the lights on for a little Hygge glow. Naturally, there's half a string in the middle of the tree that just went out... I'm chill.

Finally, amaryllis watch:

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One of them is growing, the other is not.

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I don't think it's dying, either, so I just keep watching...

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Also, new growth!


Dear January,

Welp, almost nothing about the start of this new year has gone as planned -- people (and pets - not mine) have been sick, plans and schedules have changed -- it's been an exercise in patience, resilience, positive thinking, and going with the flow! I feel as though I haven't even had a chance to sit down and say, HEY, NEW YEAR.

I have managed to accomplish a couple of the "must-do" items on my list to start the year, though, and that feels good.

First, as previously noted, I joined Weight Watchers again and... Hello, REALITY CHECK! This is my 3rd full day and eyes are wide open. I'm also certainly down a few pounds and, best of all, feeling as though I'm taking control again.

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Second, I fired up my brand new INSTANT POT! It was a Christmas gift from Kate & Ali, and I finally had minute to plug it in on New Year's Day. I've used it not once, not twice, not three times... but FOUR already!

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I've made a dozen-and-a-half of the most perfectly cooked and easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs of my life (twice), and 3-minute steel-cut oats (twice). One of the most amazing things is that I've actually made the oats in the MORNING... a WORK morning. I never give myself extra time in the morning to make breakfast, but this hardly even takes any time! Throw some stuff in the pot, push a button, wait a few minutes (brush teeth, wash face while waiting, maybe apply mascara), DONE!

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I shall soon branch out... next on the list is Coconut Chicken Curry. And yogurt. (I will let you know how it goes!)

Anyway, saving me through this turmoil in the first week of the year, is looking ahead to the third... when Rusty & I will be heading to Florida for a long weekend. Taking advantage of low airfare and a little jingle in our pockets -- and a very strong desire to get away (together) -- we booked a couple of flights to Fort Lauderdale and found a cute Airbnb. We'll actually be spending our time in Lake Worth/West Palm Beach and have scoped out a number of fun things to do... if we want. Mainly, it's about relaxing, warm weather, and the beach. I may have just re-joined WW... but I also just bought a new swimming suit! Who goes to FL without a swimming suit? I've never actually been to Florida before, but I'm guessing that's how it's done!

Right now? I'm staring down a 3-day weekend, and that feels good, too; taking some time to regroup and get organized (and take down the Christmas tree). There is much more to do/continue/finish/begin in the next few months!

So, January, bring it... I can handle you.

Love, Vicki

Read other Think-Write-Thursday contributions here. To sign up for the weekly prompts, click here.


Wednesday

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I snapped a couple of photos of the amaryllis on New Year's Day (Sunday) and there's been some growth! Even the struggler has improved in the last week. Someone gave Rusty some paperwhites, so we're both on bulb watch this winter!


Whoa, 2017

Another reader in the making. Books, books, books!

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While my reading habits have changed over the years, there is no doubt to anyone that we're a family of readers and that books are important to us all. The first piece of furniture I ever bought for myself was a bookcase!

Meanwhile, the boys were busy...

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Trains and Maps! That's mostly Jun's work with (washable) markers. I love it!

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Karen wasn't going to arrive until later in the day on New Year's Eve, so we went to the children's museum! They had a "ball drop" every hour on the hour, with noisemakers and hats and streamers... the kids had a blast!

Plans were rearranged a bit, so our family visit was on Saturday instead of Friday. Michael was unable to come, no matter the day, because his wife was unwell. We missed him!

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My first thought when I look at this photo is that I look exhausted! I wasn't feeling exhausted... but it was a busy few days (and continues to be)... and I still haven't had a minute to stop and square up with the new year.

Also, similar to a situation almost 29 years ago when I first joined up, this photo has spurred my renewed membership with Weight Watchers! (Oh, no, I'm a January Person!) I signed on last night and we'll see how it goes... I need a plan and a kick in the pants. I have a few friends who are also members, and it's nice when there's support. WW has changed quite a bit since I last attended meetings (possibly in 2006?); I've signed on two or three times over the years, with varied success... but mostly success. No doubt, there will be more about this turn of events in the coming weeks.

Anyway, Karen arrived with her husband and both sons, and it was great to see them. We had a full house and lots of visiting!!

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More fun with kids on New Year's Day... trying to get a decent photo is no small task. It is quite humorous though! Oh, they're all together on the kitchen floor? Ready, set, CLICK!

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And then final farewells! Ann & family have a few days in Madison before flying back to Valencia on Friday. I'll see Ann at the end of February when we meet in NOLA for a few days, but the kids won't be reunited until July when they're all back for about a month. Luckily, Junah seems to be a bit more comfortable with Skype each time he has the opportunity. He was pretty sad to see them go.

OK. That's it for now! I hope you've had a good start to the new year.


Book It 2016

Having set a goal to read more in 2016 -- and to "read" more audio books -- I could not be happier with my Goodreads stats:

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I just finished reading the 22nd book this morning! That is certainly not a lot of books compared to some, but it is pretty darn good for me! Half of those books were audio books, too, so you can see what a difference that makes! I love to read and have been an avid reader in the past, but I've not devoted a lot of time to it in the past several years -- work, grandkids, knitting, sewing, cooking, laundry (not dusting), etc. have all hampered my game in recent years -- and the pages turn very slowly!

I've belonged to a book club for years, but have often not read the books -- when one reads few books, one is a bit choosy -- I'd often be in the middle of something else that I preferred (or perhaps still reading the previous selection). I raved so much about a couple of books this year (A Man Called Ove, Lab Girl), that they were chosen as book club selections even though it wasn't my turn to pick!

 

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A fair number of these books -- 13 of them -- were squares on my BINGO card, which I love for the potential broadening of one's reading horizons. Also, I love a game that's open to a bit of interpretation/personalization. (I'm still playing that card and trying to finagle Born to Run into the "Presidential Biography" category... what do you think? He is THE BOSS!)

I am grateful, too, for the likes of you -- fellow bloggers and dear readers -- from suggestions on how to ease into listening rather than reading to book recommendations... Thank you.

Stand outs? I loved the memoirs, especially Composed, Not My Father's Son, and Lab Girl.  A Man Called Ove, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Boston Girl, Code Name Verity, and Hamilton: The Revolution were especially memorable audio -- actually, all of the above were audio books!

The bar has been set, now, and I'm looking forward to setting & reaching a higher goal next year!!

Happy New Year!!


Holiday mid-weekending

We definitely had a White Christmas!

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Most of that has already melted, thanks to a little rain.

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I had a wonderful Jólabókaflóð gift from Judy year. Aren't those stitch markers adorable? This traditional, annual (two years in a row for us now!) book & chocolate gift exchange was once again organized by Susan!

I can't wait 'til next Christmas!!

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I cut the panels for Part 2 (the bottom half) of the bathroom curtains project, and sewed up the first panel on Christmas Eve Day... because that's what I wanted to do! There are a million other things I could/should have been doing (working on/finishing presents for Gin & Jun, for one), but here you are.

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This is a very different look... and much "cooler" in temperature. The light in there is pretty amazing now! I still have to piece & sew the panel for the other window -- maybe on New Year's Eve Day! There will be a bit of fabric leftover and I think I'm going to make a pretty dress for Gin -- she'll be just like the Von Trapp children, roaming about in drapes next summer. Heheheee.

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I finally buckled down and got some "wrapping" done... I went lazy gift-bag style this year! I've had this old Boynton gift bag in my stash for a long, long time and finally busted it out for Jun's presents this year. (And it's back in my stash once again!)

I sure wasn't thinking, because Junah was all about "unwrapping" presents this year, and the gift bags just weren't doin' it for him!

It was just Kate, Rusty, and me for Christmas Eve dinner, and we went all out...

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I'd receive a nice grocery gift card from my employer this year, and used to it buy a couple of good-sized lobster tails. Kate made some Saffron & Mushroom Barley Risotto (Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix), and we roasted some asparagus.

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Oh, my, but that was good...

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And there was a half-tail leftover... enough to make a Lobster Bisque!

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On Christmas morning, I checked the amaryllis.

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There's been some obvious growth...

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...but the award for Most Improved goes to this guy! It might not look like an award winner, but there's vast improvement in color and, well, let's say "tone."

I was just about to get the Christmas stockings hung and filled... (I know, and it still hasn't happened!)... and the kiddos arrived!

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And it was nonstop all day!! We Skyped with Maddy, had brunch, opened presents, played games, admired the tree, watched movies... er, watched one movie three times... ate a bunch more goodies, played more games...

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Another holiday, another mega crossword puzzle! The New York Times had an entire section devoted to puzzles this season.

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And we had a crawler for Christmas!! Away we go...

Rusty's birthday was the day after Christmas. We met some friends -- among them, another 12/26 birthday -- to celebrate with drinks (and cake!).

Annie was supposed to arrive from Spain later on the 26th and I was going to go pick her up in Green Bay, but due to plane problems/switch, they ended up spending the night in Detroit. So Rusty picked her up yesterday morning, instead (the boys flew into Madison), and whisked her to Appleton for a scheduled eye appointment. She met a friend for a leisurely lunch, did some shopping, had a massage, and I finally met up with her after work. We were enjoying a beer & a snack in the brewpub at the mall, thinking about ordering some food to go, when we suddenly noticed a steady stream of people exiting the mall, and were informed that the kitchen was closed... Um, it was more than a little freaky. We heard no announcement or anything, but were informed that the mall was being evacuated, and the gate to the mall had come down (thankfully, there's a separate entry/exit door to the pub). Turns out, the police had been alerted by concerned family members about a man who might have had a gun and might have been heading to the mall... which sounds sort of WTF? The entire mall was shut down for the evening, and "the man" was never found at the mall. But we're all safe... so weird.

After today, I have four wonderful days off! I had the option of a) taking Monday off or b) working Monday and floating the holiday, and I'm going for the float... there's some travel coming up this year and even one extra day will be welcome!

Tomorrow, the boys will be coming up from Madison -- and I cannot wait for Junah, Mack & Addy to get together again. The boys are going to be blown away by Jun and how much he's changed/grown/matured!!

On Friday, both Michael & Karen will be here, too, and we'll have a little family celebration on the Eve of New Year's Eve! It's been a long time since we've all been together, and I can't wait. (Pray that I remember to get some photos!)

It's been a year of tough losses, in more ways than one. I will be relieved to flip the calendar to 2017, and hope for -- strive for, work for -- better.

I hope all is well with you!


Eve

It's just doesn't seem like a proper Christmas Eve if I'm not up 'til the wee hours...

And LOOK, it's already Christmas!

 

We used to have a big Christmas Eve dinner at Mom's. We tried everything over the years: Standing Rib Roast, Crown Roast, Yorkshire Pudding, Beef Wellington, Cornish Hens, Ham, Turkey... Mum would draw the line at Goose (too greasy). My sisters and brother would all be there, sometimes even my Grandma (her birthday was on Christmas Eve).

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Virginia, b. Dec. 24, 1912; graduation from Normal School


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Someday I'm gonna make a Christmas Goose.

I'm a terrible procrastinator, so would never really even start to wrap presents until after we came home and got the kids to bed -- which would be later and later every year. Rusty was never any help in that department, so I'd make the best of it... channel surfing and watching Christmas movies on TV, or...

...(best ever) listening to a Steve Martin comedy album while wrapping presents and filling stockings.

 

I miss my sister Sharon, and my mom, and my grandma, and I miss those crazy days when the kids were young...

 

Alas, life is good; I'd make a few changes, but generally things seem to be proceeding as they should....

 

WE HAVE A CRAWLER! She made a few moves when I was 'sitting the other night, and Alison confirmed this evening that Gin is crawling! They'll all be over sometime tomorrow morning for Christmas brunch and opening presents.

 

Merry Christmas Friends! Peace and Love to You!


On the cusp of three

Independence. Right now it's all about independence and doing things for himself -- taking great pride in accomplishments. Jun's been dressing himself, distinguishing front from back, getting all the fingers correctly placed in gloves, sometimes even doing the snaps and zippers on his pants.

But, oh... it can be so very frustrating.

He was wearing some cozy knit pants on Friday and there was some difficulty.

He tried putting them on. They were backwards. He got angry, cried, and completely shut down my offer to help.

He tried again. Um. They were backwards. Again. He got angry, cried, shut me down. Again.

Did I mention stubbornness?

After a few minutes of crying, he came over and sat on my lap... to get a hug and cry on my shoulder. When he felt better, he got up -- with confidence and purpose -- to try again.

And, ohhhh... it did not go well.

This time he came right over to sit and cry and just let it all out.

And then he tried ONE MORE TIME -- while I was able to quickly intervene and straighten them out (prep is everything!) -- and SUCCESS!

It was just the sweetest thing... how he wouldn't allow me to help him, but would allow me to give comfort.

  


3-Day Weekending

I had a very welcome day off last Friday! I spent some of it with Ali & the kids, doing a little shopping before the predicted big snowstorm, and lunching.

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Afterwards, Jun wanted to "Stay at Nona's!" so he & I spent a few hours together on Friday afternoon. I really enjoy our one-on-one time. His language and communication/conversation skills are exploding.

We played...

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...well, he played. We'd recently watched Toy Story, and I found an old Woody hanging around my house -- he was thrilled to discover it! And also, quite by accident, to discover  that he stills says, "You're my favorite deputy!"

He helped me find the treetop angel...

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And helped with some more decorating...

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Haha!

I read about an estate sale on Saturday morning and got the bug to go! The weather wasn't too bad and it wasn't very far. I certainly don't need anything, but I was drawn to to this sale. I used to go to estate sales with my mom, and Sharon used to come up for regular antique auctions... it was Saturday... And sure enough, I found some UK/England travel stuff that would have caught my Mom's eye (some of the same brochures), and a couple of booklets about Kokopelli that would have intrigued Sharon, and there was also some bedraggled pansy stuff (of which I have a collection). It was Day 2, so had already been picked over, but everything under $50 was half-price and I managed to find a couple of brown transfer plates and a kitchen tool, all for a whopping $3.50.

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The amaryllis are... well, one is doing great -- the shoot is plumped up and firm; the other is struggling a bit. I am keeping a close watch.

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We had a nice chat with Maddy on Saturday night. She was pretty worn down after her recent hike and got slammed with a cold, but is on the mend and currently working on a farm near Abel Tasman. She has plans for Christmas... and I hope we'll be able to chat again once or twice during the thick of the holidays.

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I finally cleaned up my workroom a bit and started some sewing! First up: Bathroom window covering re-do. I've been unhappy with those since the day they went up, and they're finally in the trash. I still need to re-do the bottom half of both windows, but the tops are done! I don't know how long that flimsy fabric will last -- the sun is brutal in this location -- but I am loving the bright white!

I've been knitting my Project Peace Cowl nearly every night. I measured yesterday afternoon and it was exactly 3 feet long.

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It looks nice with the living room rug... and my socks match, too! I've about a foot-and-a-half to go, but am concentrating more on finishing another couple of projects this week:

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Christmas presents for Jun & Gin! Some pieces crucial to finishing will be arriving this week!


Six years

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Sharon with a wee Kate, April 1987.

And missing you every single day. I love you, my beautiful sister. How is it six years already?


Light my fire

Kym! I do have a fireplace!!

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It's one of the first things I pulled out of a box of Christmas decorations last night! A gift from one of the girls years ago -- Ali, I think.

So I lit the fire...

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Kate made me a drink* (vodka, campari, limoncello, orange juice, soda water)...

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And together we trimmed the tree!

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I never ran across our tree-top angel, though! Where could she be??

*She also cooked supper last night... and, to me, having my children cook for me on occasion is truly one of the pleasures of life.


Year in Review: 2016

It's that time again!

As I have done sometime in December for quite a few years: Year In Review. I do it in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (a favorite posted photo from each month) -- the two are not necessarily related.

 

January 2016:

In addition to (or, as a set-up for) BEGIN AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON, I spent some time cleaning things up at the end of the year.

January - quilt


February 2016:

I walked to the library on Saturday morning to pick up the latest addition to my Reading list: Mink River.

February - Chicago

 

March 2016:

Way back before Christmas, it was decided that while Rusty was traipsing around the west coast, we'd have a girls' weekend in Chicago.

March - Oregon Coast

 

April 2016:

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

April - Trucks

 

May 2016:

Virginia Frances

May - Jun-Gin

 

June 2016:

Knitting: Too many things.

June - succulents

 

July 2016:

Anticipating... our first Farmers Market of the season tomorrow morning!

July - Flowage

 

August 2016:

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On My Summer Bucket List

August - boys

 

September 2016:

And now, a little shameless promotion.

September - family

 

October 2016:

I knit this adorable hat using leftovers from Gin's Elwood, and I couldn't be happier (except that I wish I'd knit it one size larger) (listen to the voices in your head!).

October - Cara-Ann-Gnome

 

November 2016:

It's November, which means it's time for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) -- little sister to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

November - Squad Mitts

 

December 2016:

This is why.

December - Gin-Alfalfa

 

I can't quite believe 2016 is almost over!


Weekending: O, Christmas tree

We finally brought the tree up on Saturday morning and I promptly took off all of the dead and half-dead strings of lights.

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Well, not all. There is still one string near the bottom with the non-working half wadded up and stuffed near the trunk. I just couldn't bear to detangle one more string...

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Then I went shopping and, among other things, came home with these:

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There shall be an "amaryllis watch" at Chez Knitorious this year! It's been a few years and I'm really looking forward to it. They're your hardware store variety bulbs, so nothing special... except that they're amaryllis and that's special enough!

I took a nap, and then went over to babysit the grands.

There was some snoozing.

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This was a pretty common photo op when Jun was a babe, but very rare with Gin. Everything's always go-go-go, we rarely have time to snuggle together. 

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After everyone woke up, I had some fun with Snapchat filters. Reindeer games!

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We had our first official snow storm:

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It started Saturday evening and snowed steadily through about mid-afternoon on Sunday, accumulating to 5 or 6 inches.

On Sunday morning afternoon, I finally got back to lighting the tree. First the top:

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I'd been unable to find a string of 50 with a green wire, so there are 100 on just the top. We don't take the whole tree apart every year, but we do remove the top, so it needs a dedicated string of lights.

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And, finally, 500 more new lights later. There's some unevenness, but it'll all work out in the ornamentation.

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There was a mismatched string of LED lights on the tree, probably a last-minute addition last year, so I took them off and strung them up in the Garden Room! They always seemed jiggly and weird, but I didn't realize that they really were jiggly and weird until I went to take a photo. There's a video on my Instagram feed if you want to see for yourself.

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Finally, we made paella for dinner last night. We used the guidelines in Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook (birthday present last month), which I've only just begun to explore. We loved the paella -- and I believe we did achieve soccarat -- but I can't wait to visit Valencia (home of paella) to see how close we really are to the mark.

I hope you had a great weekend!


Best Nine 2016

My #bestnine2016 on Instagram!

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These are the Instagram photos from the past year that had the most "likes." Heh. There's a little bit of everything, including break dancing!! I love that the grandkids are there -- both knit-related, too, other than the photo taken on Gin's birth day -- Parcheesi is in there, my TTL Mystery Shawl, a bit of my house/yard, Alabama Chanin (on our way to the Rosanne Cash concert), and all the love from january_one.


Christmas Tradition

I have been known to decorate my Christmas tree with only three ornaments:

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That was highly unusual. I don't recall the circumstances, but it's safe to say that no one was available/willing to help me!

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Most years, we're fully loaded and I usually have help.

Just at Kate's left hand in the photo above is a little "band" of ceramic bear ornaments -- each of them bears one of our names and a year -- and that's just the beginning of the ceramic ornaments. My Grandma Blum taught ceramics from her home studio for many years. The first dated ornament I received from her was in 1975, and it is a treasure!

One year in my young adulthood, there was an early Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa Blum's prior to their departure for Florida for the winter. She had decorated a small tree with her ceramic ornaments and we stuffed it -- lights, ornaments, and all -- into the back of my boyfriend's VW Van and voila! "It's Christmas now!"

I know it didn't begin at birth (none of my kids has a "My First Christmas" ornament), but at some point when Katie & Ali were preschoolers -- actually, it was probably when St. Nicholas started to visit our house on the regular -- I began to buy an ornament each year for St. Nick to deliver. The girls each have their own box in which to store them, along with ornaments made for them by Great Grandma and my sister Karen, and the ones they made in school.

I really need to document them better.

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One-Eyed Santa was made by Kate in probably 2nd or 3rd grade. She didn't make him with only one eye, but somewhere along the line one fell off and, well... we love him!!

There's a skater made of pipe cleaners and beads, with small paperclips as the skates. One of his skates has been hanging on by just a bit of fuzz (mostly osmosis, I swear) for years...

These are the types of things we ooh and aah over and laugh about every year!

One of my most favorite tree-trimmings was a year the girls wanted a real tree. It was smaller than our artificial tree, so I decided that it would be decorated with only the ornaments that the girls had in their boxes -- and only by them! I did the lights, but they did all the rest while I sat back with a glass of wine and LISTENED. It was pure heaven -- the chatter, the memories, the laughter, and the tears (of laughter).

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I've had this well-worn/bedraggled ornament since 1st grade, when I won it in a spelling bee. As previously established herein, I was a pretty good speller thanks to the coveted Big.Gold.Stars awarded by Mrs. Kelly on perfect spelling tests. She was one of my favorite teachers, and I love remembering her every Christmas.

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Peanut!! Words cannot express our love for this little... actual peanut. Simple things.

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This one of the very few ornaments I have that were my Grandma Koenig's. It's not very big, and always gets a (secure) front-row seat.

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And this is a cross-stitch ornament that I made for the girls -- he's backed with fabric, sealed, and jointed! I haven't actually made very many for them... hard-pressed to think of any other than this one. Heh.

The tree still hasn't happened this year, but I'm thinking Saturday's the day!

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FO: Alfalfa Baby Hat

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I know I knit this hat when Jun was wee, but I don't remember him ever wearing it and I never documented it on Ravelry or anyplace.

Gin has been wearing this at A LOT, though, and could not look more adorable -- even (especially) when worn slightly askew. So adorable, that I just had to add it to my Ravelry project page.

And I definitely need to knit another! The pattern is written for only one size, but I think I'll try going up a needle size or two and see what happens.


Weekending

It snowed (lightly) all day long yesterday, and there was a nice warm glow under the pergola last night when the lights came on.

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Inside, I finally dug out and copied some old floor plans. We've been talking about doing some reconfiguring to add another bath -- or (after pricing shower units - yowza!) at least a half-bath.

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Fixtures/appliances may not be to scale... heheh.

I spent a fair bit of time knitting on my Project Peace Cowl. I had a party on Friday night, so had a little catching up to do! I'm right on target, though, and the piece is actually 4x longer now than shown below.

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And I am loooooving it!

We had a Plated delivery over the weekend. One of the meals was trout (delicious) and the other was bibimbap!

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I've never ordered bibmbap for myself at a restaurant before, having only tasted Kate's. It was good -- obviously, good enough that I ordered when it came through as a menu option (and I knew that Katie would like it)!

You cannot see the crispy sushi rice underneath it all. Arguably my favorite part, I loved a little bit of crispy rice on my fork with every bite. Atop the rice is some beef, wilted spinach, a pickled carrot-cucumber salad, a fried egg, and a dipping sauce for the beef to finish it off. I'd certainly never have attempted, out of the blue, to make this myself from scratch... but send me a box with all of the ingredients and step-by-step/photographic directions? I'm on it. And now that I've done it, I will certainly do it again -- it was SO good. Kate said that she even liked it better than the restaurant version! I have a few trial invitations for Plated (worth up to $72); if you're interested in trying it out, let me know.


Hello December

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This is why.

Whenever I think to myself, "Hm, do I really need to put up the big tree?" I think of how much fun this was. And if it was fun last year, it's gonna be even funner this year!! Yes, FUNNER!!

December is hard.

I was looking ahead/steeling myself to the dates later in the month and then was reminded first thing this morning that it's Rusty's dad's birthday -- he'd have been 88.

Kate shared a story about a frustrated, insistent customer who ended up leaving the book store in tears yesterday. I got tears in my eyes right away. Ohhhh, that woman has a story -- there's a reason why she's insistent and on-the-verge, why she needs things RIGHT NOW. Poor things -- the woman and the book store employees, too; they were all a little stunned.

HELLO DECEMBER!

 

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I'm going to knit myself a peace this month. I wrote about Project Peace before, but then the pattern came out and it's one of those long, in-the-round cowls and, well, there's nothing "peaceful" about that to me. So, even though I'd read along everyday, I decided not to knit the cowl -- or perhaps to designate another project as my "peace" knitting.

I said as much to Kym. And she said, "Doofus, you could convert this one to straight needles pretty simply! Just cast on for the width and then knit back and forth until you’ve got a long enough piece. Then just... 3-needle bind-off!"

She didn't really say, "Doofus," but I know she was thinking it. Haha!

Well, of course...

I guess I needed a push. So I did the tiny bit of math, got excited about knitting an i-cord edge as I go -- in a contrasting color because, lo & behold, along with the 500-yard hank of Jill Draper's Esopus, I also bought a contrasting 250 -- like it was meant to be -- and, yeah, so I'm back in.

Peace out.

UPDATE: My mods for the Project Peace Cowl can be found on Ravelry.

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Right now

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Last night we drove Maddy's Jeep out to the farm for storage -- 'til she returns!

Anticipating... Only three more weeks until Winter Solstice!

Celebrating... A Christmas party already on Friday!

Drinking... Hot tea -- gigantic mugs of Tazo ZEN. And cold tea, G&Ts, IPAs, H2O.

Eating... Well. We've been doing so much cooking at home, and the fridge is usually bulging.

Enjoying... Junah's exploding language and imaginative play. Gin's bright eyes and ever-ready smile.

Hoping... to get Christmas going again. I was getting in the mood but lost it at the thought of hauling the tree up and the decorations down. I have started to do a little bit of shopping.

Knitting... I have two pairs of Squad Mitts going, two gift knits for the grandkids going (awaiting delivery of special-order safety eyes), and two more rows of ribbing before binding off my Rainbow Warrior Cowl!

Listening to... Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom, Jr., especially loving "My Favorite Things" and "Winter Song."

Looking forward to... Ann & family arriving the day after Christmas!

Needing... to make room for the tree.

Planning... well, not exactly planning yet... but beginning to think about Christmas dinner!

Reading... Winter Garden for book club, In The Company of Women for inspiration, Homeland and Other Stories just because.

Watching... Vikings (Season 1).

Remembering... 

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It was a beautiful evening for a drive into the country - this was the apropos scene on Golden Glow Road.

Wondering... What's up with you right now!?

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And another NaBloPoMo is in the books. This one has been a bit of a struggle... since about November 9th. Thanks for reading along, sharing comments and suggestions -- you've made all the difference. 


Travel bug

We were this >< close last week to booking crazy-low priced flights to Valencia. Alas, sometimes it's really hard to get your ducks to line up in a timely & efficient manner, and by the time all was situated, the sale was over... we missed it by hours. It was heartbreaking; I even lost sleep over it. Ugh.

The bug had bitten!

Kate's making plans for a UK/France visit in early winter; Rusty's making summertime CA plans; and I will likely go to Spain in June, hopefully overlapping a bit with Maddy & Kate as they meet up during summer travels.

In the meantime, I'm taking Annie up on her offer to come & stay in New Orleans at the end of February when she's there for a conference. She'll be there for a week; I'll head down mid-week... we'll have evenings and perhaps an afternoon or two together. I've already scouted yarn stores. I think we'll catch a concert in a nearby park one evening, and maybe go to Emeril's for dinner on another... what shouldn't I/we miss??

Speaking of Emeril and food and travel, I really enjoyed his Amazon show, Eat The World. His show on Food Network was one of Maddy's favorites when she was a kid, and we'd often watch together... so perhaps I've a little soft spot for Emeril. BAM!  ;)


Create Your Own Visited States Map
*

I am looking forward to coloring in this map (and my world map) a little bit more in 2017!

*According to my rules, if I've driven/traveled across you numerous times and/or got lost in your mountains for an afternoon, I've "visited" you.


Weekending: Knitting

I did some cooking over the weekend, and some knitting, and a whole lotta putzing and/or nothing.

It felt SO GOOD.

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Saturday. I made Meatloaf. Two of them, actually, because it's so good and we want LEFTOVERS!

This is the Rainbow Warrior Cowl... at least that's the pattern I'm using. I'm confused about the floats, so have contacted the designer for clarification. The way I'm reading the pattern, there should be a slipped-stitch float on the front of the work, but it doesn't look like there's a float in any of the pattern photos. I didn't like how it looked with this particular colorway -- to me, it would work better with a super busy colorway -- so am doing all floats on the back.

UPDATE:  The designer got back to me right away... turns out I was using an outdated pattern. There'd been an update to correct the error. NO FLOATS ON THE FRONT! Whew. I was kind of driving myself crazy with that. Carry on...

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Sunday. I made Ina Garten's Roasted Potato Leek Soup. Yum.

Happy Birthday Parcheesi!

Parcheesi

Six years old and still awesome.


Beer Bread

Who knew? How have I lived in Wisconsin for the better part of my life and not known about BEER BREAD?

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Best extra-curricular use of beer, especially one you may not care for all that much to drink.

It could not be simpler. I used this recipe by Gerald Norman (summarized below). Sift the flour, people!

BEER BREAD

3 c. all-purpose flour (sifted)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
12 oz. beer
1/4 c. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease/butter a loaf pan. Sift & combine dry ingredients; mix in beer. Scrape dough into the prepared pan; pour melted butter over the top. Bake for 1 hour; cool in the pan on a rack for at least 15 minutes.

So yummy.

I used one of the two remaining New Belgium/Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ales that I had from Thanksgiving. I'll be adding a cup of chocolate chips to the loaf I make with the last bottle of that beer. And I will have to do some research to see how the flavor differs when using a different type of beer altogether.

For RESEARCH!


Doors

Hit it Jack:

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Front door.
Junah watched happily while Kate wrapped the pillars on Thanksgiving Day,
"Now it's Christmas!!"

Doors at our house:

  • Front door
  • Upstairs apartment door
  • Shed door
  • Back/Side/Kitchen door
  • Basement door
  • Garage door(s)

We've lived in our house for almost 30 years. Unfortunately, the door bell button at the front door has never been anything more than sporadic, so we've had various little notes posted above it stating (one way or another) that if no answer, please go to the back door.

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Defunct doorbell & note at front door.

We've had many deliveries over the span of 30 years, as you might imagine -- countless deliveries -- from just about every delivery service you could name. Sometimes they knock, sometimes they don't; sometimes we have to sign for packages, sometimes we don't; sometimes a parcel is left at the front door, sometimes the back door, and once even at the shed door.

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The upstairs apartment door is... up those stairs (garage at left).

On Wednesday, according to tracking info, UPS left a package at "rear door." I looked at the back door, the shed door, even the garage door; I sent a text to our tenant asking if she'd found a package -- nope, nada, nothing.

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The shed door.

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Hubby's note on shed door since a delivery was found there one time.

Mulling over what to do...

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Freshly painted rear garage door & season's first dusting of snow.

On Thursday, I asked Rusty to maybe take a peek over at the neighbors' (it didn't look like they were home) to see if somehow it was delivered over there... They wouldn't have delivered it at our basement door, would they??

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The back/side/kitchen door. Roughly 50% of our parcel deliveries are made at this door, even by USPS.

Lo and behold! I can't believe he came up with it.

If thwarted at the front door (and I don't know why it wouldn't have just been left there on the "delivery chair"), you would pass the stairs to the apartment door, the shed door, and the back door (not to mention the garage door), before hitting a FULL STAIRCASE leading to the lower yard and, finally (about 20 more feet to the right), the walk-out basement door... which is where the box in question was found on Thursday morning.

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Seriously?

Thank you, UPS, for giving me blog fodder as we cruise toward the end of NaBloPoMo!


Selected scenes from a day (mostly food)

Homemade cornbread > Stuffing:

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Adorable kitchen helper:

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Rotkraut underway:

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Cornish Game Hens:

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Thanksgiving Day Crossword (they made it about half-way) (it's ongoing):

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Mac 'n Cheese ("traditional" fare when there's a toddler in the house):

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Time to relax:

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Junah was an even bigger help in the kitchen than his sister -- helping to make his mac 'n cheese, and also with whipping cream for pie -- but no pics. In fact, I sort of lost the photo-thread by the time all the food was ready and served! The Cornish hens looked (and tasted) divine.

It was all delicious -- not over-the-top quantity-wise, as sometimes happens (thankful for the small hens instead of a huge turkey). There was a lot more stuffing than I was expecting -- enough for TWO 2-qt. dishes instead of one (I'll adjust that recipe, I think)! The Rotkraut was delicious (and I love that it could/should be made ahead). With the cabbage, beets and cranberry sauce, there was a lot of red at our table!

I love the mission behind the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale... but I didn't really care for the actual beer. I'm glad I tried it! There were three bottles in the variety pack of New Belgium beer that I bought for the holiday... not sure what's going to happen to the other two bottles. Heh.

Hope you're having a great Friday. I worked for half the day, and now I think it might be nap time.


Happy Thanksgiving!

 It's been a weird year or two or six around here, but we're finding our way. Thanksgiving is a good reminder to... well, to be thankful for what we have.

Among the things I'm thankful for is plentiful and readily available food at the grocery store. I smiled when y'all were commiserating with me yesterday about having to go to the store...

I actually enjoy going to the grocery store during busy holiday shopping times -- there's an excitement, urgency, and bustle in the air -- and I feel a camaraderie with my fellow shoppers, whether they're doing the "big shop" or just running in for some forgotten item.

The other day I was amused to pass a teen several times -- he was on his phone, obviously out of his element but on a quest, looking up at the aisle directories while being directed around the store by whomever was on the other end of the line.

And I love the little old ladies with their lists and coupons -- and often feel a little melancholy about them, too.

I've found most people to be in good humor (knocking on wood) and if there are some who are not, I hope I can make up for it!

We're all working it out as life challenges us with new situations every single year -- some good, some bad, some pretty damn ugly -- doing our best, finding our way.

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On the menu today:

 It's going to be "quiet" in here -- just Kate, Ali & Rod & the kids, my stepdad, Rusty & me. Thinking of Maddy in NZ (new post!); Ann & fam in Spain; Karen & Michael. Also, of course, of my mom & Sharon, grandma & grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins...

Well, before I get too melancholy over here...

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Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving... and/or a really great Thursday!!


Weekending

More coloring.  ;)

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It's not exactly what I was going for -- it's a bit brighter than I'd imagined! I love it, though. One of those is already wound up because I'm dying to see how it knits up.

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There was a little room in the pot so I threw in this hank of bulky SW merino/nylon to soak up the slop. It's already on the needles being worked up into a hat!

It's fun to play around! I'm not always consistent with output -- what with work, family, occasional travel, other obligations, and a bunch of other interests -- but I do sell most of the yarn that I dye. It's mostly through Make.Do@KC&T -- my little knitting corner within Ali's coffee shop where I also carry some tools & notions, patterns & books, other stuff that I like (and from suppliers that don't have huge minimum orders... it's a wee shop!). I'm more than happy to pack & ship if ever there's something you see. Mostly, it's a fingering/sock base -- 75% Superwash Merino/25% Nylon -- but I work with some other bases, too.

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I predict we'll have a very mobile baby by Christmas! She pivots when she sits, reaching and scooting... she has to figure out a couple of things yet, like how to get her leg out of the way!

Zoom Zoom!


The American Thanksgiving

The American Thanksgiving, a fantastic article in the New York Times.  I watched every single video (each around 1 minute) and saved every single recipe, and I'm going to make room for at least one if not two on our Thanksgiving menu. Christmas? May be pretty flavorful around here!!

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Today:

 

It's a puzzle kind of day!

A video posted by Vicki Mothes (@vicki.knitorious) on