Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat & friends this week for Unraveled Wednesday!

My reading is slow, as usual, and all over the Bingo board...

2017 Book Bingo

I'm currently listening to The Shadow of the Wind, and enjoying it quite a bit; Hillbilly Elegy is on my Kindle; and for pages, I've just put a library hold on Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen.

On Friday, when the boys were kayaking with Maddy in Stevens Point, I stopped by my LYS to get yarn for a special project.

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I finally cast on Sunday night and this is an up-to-the-minute progress shot; I have placed my markers and am about to commence 5 repeats of Chart C. The project is Forest Mystery by "Amanita" Agata Mackiewicz. I am using Malabrigo "Dos Tierras" in a colorway called Lettuce. It is gorgeous, and it's going to be a gift for Kiwi Mom. It may be spring in New Zealand by the time she gets it, but oh well. My mother always said that the best time to do something is when you have the time to do it... so that's my story.


Auntie Camp v.3

3rd Annual Auntie Camp commenced early Wednesday morning when Mack & Addie arrived at my back door!

It was a dreary and rainy start, so we decided to go to a movie -- something that was on our unofficial List of Possibilities, anyway. I don't think I've ever been to a 10:30 a.m. showing before!

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We saw Despicable Me 3, and I didn't even fall asleep (as I am wont to do; close, but no Zs).

Later, after lunch and some errands, we tried our hand dyeing some silk scarves using The 5-Minute Silk Scarf method from Dharma Trading Co. I'd run across this tutorial when I was shopping for tie-dye supplies, and already had everything needed for the project except the silk scarves, so added a few to my order.

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It was so easy, and really fun. Because we were using dry/powdered acid dye for this project, we needed to wear face masks -- so it felt a little science-y, too! The boys LOVED how their projects turned out.

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Jun & Gin came over for a while! Jun was wearing one of the old boys' old Brasil soccer shirts, and Gin sported my first attempt at a romper from a t-shirt! I made that two years ago (OMG, wee Jun!), using a shirt with Addie's art (still one of my favorites)!

On Thursday, we got together with Ali & the kids and headed up to Bay Beach Amusement Park -- the best little park around!

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The first thing on the list was a train ride! Junah was in HEAVEN... and didn't want to get off when it was over. Poor guy. He loves trains so much!!

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While the little kids played on the playground, Mack & Addie & I took a ride on "Elvis' favorite" rollercoaster, the Zippin Pippin!

It's been quite a while since I rode a rollercoaster. Yikes! It sure is a nice view from up there, though. We also went on the Scrambler, one of my favorites from childhood (along with the Tilt-a-Whirl and Spider/Octopus). Mack & Ali & Junah went down the Giant Slide, and everyone but me took a ride on the Merry-Go-Round.

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There were burgers & cheese fries, slushies & ice cream... everything you could want from a visit to an amusement park!!

On Friday, Maddy took the boys to Stevens Point for some kayaking.

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I ran a few errands while they were gone, including delivery of the Mini-Me Hat & Beard and a stop at my LYS, Iris Fine Yarns, to get yarn for a new project. I also did a few things around the house, such as replacing the toilet seat!

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We went to the opening of Settling the Ghost, an art exhibition curated by Kate (Young Space) at Standard Projects. There was great attendance, and I think the boys enjoyed it... though their favorite "exhibit" was on the snack table!

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Rounding off a pretty busy day, Maddy built a fire when we got home, and we made s'mores!

Saturday was Tie-Dye Day! We'd been prepping shirts here & there over the previous couple of days, so we were ready to DO IT!

I guess I didn't take any photos of the process.

They tried swirls and sunbursts, and it was all about the application of the color. I'd purchased a Tie-Dye Kit from Dharma, along with a couple of extra colors and some of their ready-to-dye shirts (and a couple of onesies), plus some other shirts (both white & colors) that I had.

After applying the dye, the shirts were wrapped in plastic wrap to sit/set.

Anticipation!!

They'd held a few projects back to dye with indigo -- because it just isn't Auntie Camp unless someone turns blue! Haha. I was a bit more stern about that this time, though, because their big brother is getting married on Saturday. The dye comes off of skin fairly easily, but takes quite a bit longer if fingernails are involved.

The "magic" of indigo is more immediate than the tie-dye, and so fun!

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I made the t-shirt for Junah, Mack dyed the tank for me. I love it, and wore it yesterday! There are more photos on Instagram.

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Ali picked us up and we went to the pool to cool off. We ordered pizza for supper, and then Maddy walked with the boys to get some ice cream. 

On Sunday morning, we were excited about the big reveal of the tie-dye projects!

There's a whole lotta water involved in that process. Wow. I unwrapped, rinsed with the hose on the driveway; the boys removed rubber bands, I rinsed with the hose again; rinsed again with warm water in the kitchen; did a rinse & spin cycle in the washer; hot/cold wash in the washer; and again. I put color catchers in with all of the machine cycles... and they caught a lot of color!

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From left to right: Swirl shirt for Junah (I don't remember who applied the color); Addy's orange shirt with a shibori technique (kind of a dud); Mack's pleated shirt; Addy's swirl shirt for his mom; Mack's swirl shirt for his mom; Mack's swirl shirt for his dad; and Addy's tri-section shirt for his dad. The color in Mack's pleated shirt is a lot less vibrant and I finally figured out that we'd forgotten to soak it in the soda ash solution prior to dyeing!

The only major things left on our List of Possibilities was making bookmarks (collage/lamination) and knitting, and the boys chose knitting!

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The boys are very different in their styles/technique -- learning/doing -- and Addie needs lots of breaks (bathroom, snack, drink, fiddling -- that gadget he has isn't even charged). And we moved a bit, from the pergola to the porch and, eventually, to the couch.

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Ann & Brian were originally due on Sunday afternoon, but were delayed by weather so the boys stayed overnight on Sunday, too. They both worked on their knitting for a while before we turned on a movie (Sky High -- kinda cute), and it was so fun listening to them talk about how knitting is "magical" and "calming." Mack's talking about making a blanket, and Brian said that Mack made sure he had his knitting when they left my house yesterday -- he forgot his hat & sunglasses, but he had his knitting!!

That's a wrap for Auntie Camp v.3! Already gathering ideas for v.4.  ;)

I am feeling much better, thank you! I was told yesterday that I sounded like Stevie Nicks... "sing something!" Haha. A bit less so today, and far less sniffly, too.


FO: Mini-Me for K & G

My friend Ellen welcomed her 3rd grandchild in the past couple of months -- a boy! We've known the family a long time, as Ali and Ellen's daughter Abbey have been BFFs since high school. I've taken many photos of the family over the years, including Abbey & Kevin's (surprise!) engagement, her brother & sister-in-law Alex & Carrie's wedding photos, and some newborn/child/family photos.

A few weeks ago, Ellen asked if I'd be able to replicate a "favorite" hat of Kevin's for the baby. Kevin had a birthday coming up and she thought it would be a fun gift... "beard optional," she said.

Hahahaha... Typing "BEARD" into the Ravelry pattern search field returns more than 350 patterns!

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I used Two by One, a pattern by Mandy Powers, as a guide for the hat. Details on Ravelry.

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And Baby Beard by Poststitch for the beard. Details on Ravelry.

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I'm being a little lazy today. We had a STELLAR Auntie Camp, but I am pooped, back at work, and was waylaid near the end by allergies or a cold. Allergy meds seem to help, so I'm going with that.


Weekending

I love lavender!

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Maddy's been doing a little yard work, and she left me this lovely bouquet after trimming back the lavender. And a note... I love notes!

I watched Jun for a little while on Saturday afternoon while his mum & Gin ran errands.

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We checked out and covered the potatoes (he calls them "tomatoes") and hung out in the back yard for a while, put together three puzzles, played ball (with two balls!), took the bears for a buggy ride down the sidewalk, and chatted with the neighbor.

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Then Ali & Gin hung out for a while, too!

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A little faucet repair was the first order of business on Sunday morning. I'd discovered a leak/drip late Saturday night and called Rusty; we decided to just shut it off under the sink (also emptying that cabinet because, of course, it was all wet, too). I took it apart and put it back together four times in the morning and it was just getting worse! I finally snapped these photos and sent them to Rusty. See that little "ring" in the first photo? That's actually two pieces that came off as one -- an inside brass piece that gets tightened with a wrench (and stops leaks!), and a decorative piece that's hand-tightened before the handle is screwed back down. Once that was determined, it was a pretty quick fix! Thank goodness for camera phones.

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I finished the stealth project I was working on! This is the inside... it's a stranded project, as you can see. That's not usually my thing, but this was fun to figure out, and I love how it turned out!! Details soon!

Meanwhile, I contemplated starting the TTL Mystery Shawl (yes, I've been peeking at Spoiler pics -- and love it), but nothing in my stash is turning me on. I decided that what I should really do is pick up my Brambling Shawl and get back on track! I've located my pattern, now I just need to figure out where I am.

Haha. Where am I???


Spain: What I Packed/What I Wore

Especially with timing & the connections we wanted to make early in the trip -- Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona -- the goal was to pack for a week abroad in ONE CARRY-ON SUITCASE + ONE PERSONAL ITEM (allowances of the airline). A new personal best!!

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I used a hard-sided suitcase that fit the measurement requirements (21.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches) and a large imitation leather tote. The tote had both hand/shoulder straps and a cross-body strap -- I need options with a bag like that! It had one large zip pocket on one side, which was perfect for my wallet, and two smaller zip pockets on the other side, one of which worked well for my glasses case, and the other... keys & things that I needed to have with me but wouldn't be using while away.

Knowing that I wouldn't be able to carry that large tote everywhere/everyday, I packed my new Baggallini Medium Avenue Tote inside the suitcase. It folded nice & flat and took up practically no space at all. The only downside to this (and mostly because of our nuts-o itinerary) was that I kept having to switching stuff between bags, which wasn't difficult, just a lot of back & forth sometimes.

I had also ordered a Baggallini Everywhere Bagg, but ended up returning it; even though I really loved the idea of the zipper that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase, I did not love the bag itself. I do, however, LOVE the Medium Avenue Tote and have since ordered the larger version (which has that luggage zipper thing) and think the two will make a great travel combo in the future. I've actually been using the Medium Avenue Tote as my regular purse since we returned.

Inside the carry-on tote:

  • A couple of small knitting projects (never used)
  • A tablet & headset (never used)
  • Cell phone, earbuds, charger
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel dossier
  • Liquids
  • Ibuprofen, kleenex, hairbands
  • Shawl

Travel duds:

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I knew comfort & layers would be important. The shirt is one of my favorites, a lightweight, long (& longer in the back) knit top that I've had for a year or so. Scratchy tags drive me nuts, so I have no idea who made it. The pants are a heavy-weight knit from J. Jill that I've also had for a while; they are longer than they look -- about ankle length -- they hold up well and keep their shape. The long sweater is also from J. Jill, purchased earlier this year when we went to Florida; it is a lightweight knit with pockets and a hood. I don't usually like hoods, but this is so lightweight that it's barely there -- and, it came in handy to pull that extra fabric up around my neck (airplanes can be cold!) (I used the shawl, too!).

Pants/Skirts:

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The other "bottoms" in my suitcase were a pair of J. Jill medium-weight knit capris, a pair of Eileen Fisher knit capris, and an Eileen Fisher skirt. I have quite a few pairs of the J. Jill capris and consider them my go-to at home/work in the summertime. They were a little heavy for the weather we experienced, as they don't really breathe very well. The Eileen Fisher pieces were definitely purchased on sale, and have been in my closet for at least a year or two. I never actually wore those EF capris out of the house before, but I loved them on this trip and wore them most; they were the lightest weight of all (though not "lightweight") -- and it was HOT in Spain!! The EF skirt is made of the same material as the capris, and has a little shape to it at the bottom; I wore it once, with my new Alabama Chanin tunic.

What is definitely on my wish list for my next warm-weather trip are some lightweight "hiking" pants/capris!

A note here about PACKING CUBES!

Maddy raved about packing cubes last summer, as she was perfecting her "packing for 9 months in a backpack" technique, and I immediately ordered an Amazon Basics 4-Piece Set for myself. I've used them a few times now and pack socks & unders in the small one; layer & roll up 2-3 items at a time -- tops/sweaters & pants/skirts/dresses -- in the medium sizes; and have not actually used the largest one yet (it is pretty big). Rolling instead of folding allows SO much more to be packed and, I think, reduces wrinkles by quite a lot. The packing cubes keep like items together and a bit more organized. I even used them for our quick weekend at the Flowage; stuff doesn't end up in a jumble!

Dress up:

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I brought one dress. This was a fairly recent purchase from J. Jill, and it added some color to my otherwise (you may have noticed) very black wardrobe! I wore this dress once, on Saturday/Beach Day with (at times) the long hooded sweater; I love this dress. I brought a couple pairs of "slip shorts" along, my favorite being this pair by Maidenform (not really "shapewear" at all), as I find it makes wearing a dress/skirt much more comfortable -- especially in the heat.

Tops I wore:

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Top to bottom:

  • Eileen Fisher Knit Boatneck
  • J. Jill Tencil Top
  • J. Jill Short Sleeve (worn with a black knit cami, not shown)
  • Target/Merona Knit V-Neck (still black/neutral, but pattern!)
  • Alabama Chanin A-line Magdalena Tunic
  • J. Jill Cotton 3/4-sleeve Mesh-knit Sweater

Except for the sweater, which I wore a few times, and the AC tunic, which I wore twice, I think I wore each of these once. I'm glad I brought a mix of sleeveless & short sleeves and different necklines, as there was a lot of time in the sun and it was nice to be able to cover up a bit.

Tops I brought but didn't wear:

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Top to bottom:

  • J. Jill Linen Tunic
  • Alabama Chanin-esque Polka-dot Boatneck
  • Old Navy V-Neck

I really wanted to wear that tunic, and even put it on one morning, but I already had a sunburn and it was too rough against my skin! I love the other two tops, but realize that I prefer to wear them with more structured (woven) pants or jeans, which I did not have. I'd also packed a white knit cami... but why? White with all this black? Needless to say, I never wore that either.

Shoes:

I wore my tennies while traveling, as they were the bulkiest; I also brought along two three pairs of sandals. Footwear is tough, especially since I have a tendency to swell when flying. We walked so much, and I definitely wore the tennies most; I wasn't able to wear one pair of sandals due to swelling, was happy to have the other two to switch between.

Miscellaneous:

I stripped my toiletries case to the bare minimum for travel, and so it remains! It "helped" to have a separate bag for the liquids & pastes, and the rest of it fit into a regular size makeup bag.

In addition to everything else, don't forget that I had a box of graham crackers and a box of cheez-its in my suitcase! That actually left a nice space, when we returned, to pack the few items I bought.

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I have a few of these Brazilian Canga towels -- they are very lightweight and fold/wad up nicely. I brought this one along and it came in very handy at the beach, both for sitting upon and as a sun block.

Ann & Brian had a washer at their apartment and the girls & I did a collective load of laundry there. That wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was nice. As mentioned, it was HOT, and it was nice to freshen things up a bit!

I briefly considered bringing my big camera, but ended up leaving it at home... and I'm so glad I did. While there were some pretty amazing photo ops, it's just too big and heavy to lug around on a trip like this. Thankfully, my phone does a decent job (Samsung Galaxy S7).

That's it, I think! I hope that helps those of you who are interested and have baggage-limited trips of your own coming up! I'm happy to elaborate or clarify or answer any questions you might have.

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.
--Frank Borman


Dear July,

Are we really at the mid-way point of the year?? It's hard to believe... though June went Whoosh!! 

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We ended June and began July with a pre-4th of July trip up to the Flowage and a few days at my uncle's cabin. The forecast wasn't spectacular, but it was good enough (better than expected), so there was plenty of walking, bicycling, canoeing, Skip-Bo and Bananagramming, building with Legos, and just hanging out on the dock. We returned on Sunday, and enjoyed Monday off of work in addition to the holiday. Not a bad deal.

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Jun's first set of "little" LEGOs -- appropriately themed!

Other than Auntie Camp (commencing on Wednesday!) and a wedding in Madison later this month, it's a "normal" month... for a change. There's actually nothing huge on the calendar for the rest of the summer... another wedding coming up in September, a possible few days in Door County in October, and then some fun stuff around my birthday in November.

But here & now... what's happening RIGHT NOW??

Anticipating... A fun few days with Mack & Addy and our 3rd Annual Auntie Camp. This year, we plan to do some tie-dyeing with fiber reactive dyes in addition to indigo (because it ain't Auntie Camp until someone turns blue). The boys also want to do a little knitting, and make some bookmarks. I'm going to try to involve Junah in some of the dyeing -- even if he just wants to watch! New this year is a likely paddle/camp excursion with Cousin Maddy (pray that the weather cooperates).

Eating... Zoodles! I love them so much that I bought a Spiralizer, which will pay for itself in no time given the cost of spiralized zucchini at the store (and not as expensive as I remember)! I love how quickly they can be made, and how delicious! My favorite right now is a stripped-down WW recipe: Sautee the zoodles for a few minutes, add some fire-roasted diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a little smoked garlic, stir some more, serve with a dollop of whipped cream cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh basil. So good!

Also, I finally made my first batch of Greek yogurt in the Instant Pot! I'll be making more of that (Gin loves it), but probably in smaller batches; I didn't need to use a whole gallon of milk! In addition to perfect-every-time hard-boiled eggs in the IP, I've been working out the timing for a steamed artichoke!

Happy... to have Maddy home! She's been in & out a lot -- visiting, catching up -- but she's HOME! (For a while...)

Knitting... Currently, a stealth project with a deadline. Two colors, stripes, I can't say much more than that... I'll share when I am able!

Looking forward to... Getting some things done at home!

2017 Book Bingo

Reading... The Shadow of the Wind (audio) and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (pages); soon: Hillbilly Elegy. I don't know whether I'll get a BINGO this year. You'd think with all the planes, trains & automobiles that I've been in lately that I'd have made some progress... but no. I've realized that I make more progress on knitting & reading while traveling... ALONE!!

Sewing... An Alabama Chanin Factory Dress -- single layer, using a printed fabric. Fingers crossed!

Watching... American Gods. I finished it, actually, but have the urge to watch it again. It was... verrrry interesting. I never read the book, nor (shall I admit it?) any of Neil Gaiman's books. I didn't think I was "into that," but maybe I am? Things change! Also, Maddy and I just started The Handmaid's Tale!

Wondering... What's up with you?

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


Spain: El fin (Days 7, 8... and 9)

We bid fare-thee-wells on Tuesday morning, sending Ann & family off to work/school. No one was too sad, though, because they'd all be state-side within a month or so! (In fact, I am gearing up for 3rd Annual Auntie Camp set to begin July 12th!)

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See ya later!!

On our way to the train station, we stopped by Dulce de Leche at Brian's suggestion.

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I had severe camnesia, and regret that I didn't take any photos inside... the bakery case was incredible!! Take a gander at Instagram for an idea. So good.

Then it was on to Madrid to begin our journey home.

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From the taxi, on the way to our Airbnb, we noticed that Catedral de la Almudena was practically around the corner! I hadn't even noticed that it was right next to the Royal Palace of Madrid.

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The cathedral was, of course, AMAZING!

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Party on the ceiling!! It was incredible, and one of my favorites.

It was SUPER HOT and very sunny, so we didn't go too far in search of food & drink.

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We found a shady spot under an umbrella at el camarote and enjoyed a nice cold cerveza and some delicious tapas. Our server seemed to take a liking to us and treated us very well!!

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Maddy hung out at the apartment, while I accompanied Kate to visit an artist-run gallery space that she'd previously connected with through Young Space. It was really fun to find ourselves in Madrid with enough time to stop in!

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Then it was back to our Airbnb to chill for a bit and then go to bed early. We are willing to admit that the "open book headboard" totally won us over when we booked this place... though it was a bit less "ruffled" in the photos on the listing!

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The next morning (Wednesday), departure from Madrid. We had a short layover in Dublin, and then were on our way to Chicago... scheduled to land at about 6:45 p.m.

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...well, that was the plan. Everything was wonderful -- we were even on course to arrive about :45 early -- but it all fell apart mostly due to weather/weather-related backups at O'Hare. We were detoured to Detroit "to refuel," but then ended up sitting on the plane for 3 hours while waiting for Dublin to make the decision about whether we would continue. Eventually, and by then, they decided that some of the crew were too close to the limit on hours (to make the one-hour +/- flight from Detroit>Chicago) and we all got off the plane. Flight cancelled.

It might not have been so bad if we'd been on another airline, but I believe this may have been the first landing of Aer Lingus at Detroit. There was much, much confusion & delay... and long-story-short, there were no hotel rooms, no other flights available until Thursday evening, the promised "buses to Chicago" never arrived (at least while we were there, and with more than one false alarm), and the little coffee shop/deli had been all but cleaned out.

We ended up booking a train in the wee hours of the morning, taking a Lyft ride to get to that station, arriving before it even opened, and having breakfast at Tim Horton next door. The coffee was good.

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We snoozed a little on the train (those seats are not very comfy), after little to no sleep overnight at the airport (those seats were even worse). We took the Metro to O'Hare to get the car, found some food, and then drove 3.5 hours home, switching off pretty frequently because OHMYGODSOTIRED.

About 24 hours after we were originally supposed to land in Chicago, we finally made it home. I was in bed by 8 and slept like a log. I'd originally taken Thursday off to run around and take care of some details with Maddy (and do laundry and recover), but instead begged off Friday morning to at least accomplish the most important of those things. Thankful for an understanding workplace and no complications!

I totally jinxed it, by the way, commenting way too early on how smoothly everything went during our trip! When you think about it, though, we had some pretty crazy connections and had purchased all of our train tickets in advance, along with our tickets to The Book of Kells and La Sagrada Familia -- any little delay along the way could have thrown a wrench into our plans. It all worked out.

I wish that O'Hare had chosen a more Detroit-friendly flight to divert instead of us, and I wish that Dublin had allowed personnel some leeway... but in the end, it all worked out. My experience on Aer Lingus up to, and even after that point, was really quite nice (there was one flight attendant who went above & beyond in Detroit -- as did all of the airport personnel we encountered), and I wouldn't hesitate to fly that airline again.

By the way, upping my organizational game, I used Tripit to manage everything (I opted for the Pro version) -- flights, trains, tickets, lodging -- including Maddy's separate flight itinerary, and it worked wonderfully! In addition to having everything in one place, easy to see and navigate, I found it extremely helpful in managing time.


Spain: Valencia On Our Own (Day 6)

On Monday it was back to work for Ann & Brian and back to school for the boys, so we were on our own for our last full day in Valencia!

The first order of business was a visit to a yarn/craft shop in the neighborhood.

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Trusty Google Maps got us there.

There was a street market happening on the way. It was mostly clothing -- some old, some new -- and must only happen weekly or monthly, because there was no sign of it the next day.

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Our destination was Lokita BotonesAnn had told me about it earlier, and it was only a few blocks from their apartment!

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I forgot to take photos on Monday, so these are from Tuesday, before they opened, on our way to the train station (we took the long way). Isn't that adorable, though?

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There was a little bit of everything -- handmade clothing & totes, yarn, fabric, ribbon, knitting & sewing supplies -- you know what I'm talking about. It was adorable, and it was in Spain! I came away with a ball of cotton yarn, a tote, and a big interesting button.

Maddy was in need of some "quiet time," so Kate & I dropped her off at the apartment before heading to Bancaja Cultural Center to see their Contemporary Art exhibition.

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These were some of my favorite pieces. (I see knitting!) Those first two pieces were huge -- the people in the images almost life-size.

We met up with Maddy again and -- surprise! -- we visited another cathedral. This time, it was the Cathedral of Valencia -- home of many amazing works of art, the arm of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, and the Holy Grail. We paid for the self-guided tour, which included an audio guide, and we were not disappointed. It is beautiful, inside and out.

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Words fail me.

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The preserved arm of St. Vincent.

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Works by Goya

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The Holy Grail right there!

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Skulls & bones!

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It was definitely worth the price of admission, and I highly recommend it if you're ever in Valencia!

I don't remember the exact order of things, but we had a lovely tapas lunch -- during which we watched two men walk by carrying an enormous pan of paella between them -- and found our way to Torres de Serranos, the city gate.

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We made dinner together at home that evening -- tacos! And then went out for ice cream. The girls & I had been enjoying a gelato a day (sometimes two) on this vacation... bakery & ice cream were never hard to find, no matter where we were!

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Oh boy... Believe it or not, this was the smallest of the confections at our table! Turns out, though, that most of it is "whipped cream" with a couple of scoops of ice cream plopped on top + various toppings and, at least to our tastes, that stuff was only palatable in very small doses. (Kind of yuck.) (But that picture menu had us all starry-eyed!!)

We amused ourselves...

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Self-explanatory -- the boys' work!

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Everybody's on Snapchat now (except Brian)!

It was a wonderful last day! There are no firm plans yet, but I am definitely looking forward to a return visit...

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Good night, Valencia!!


Spain: Valencia & L'Albufera (Day 5)

Sunday was Mack's 12th birthday!! To celebrate, we visited Albufera National Park, just south of Valencia, for a boat ride and paella. Addy had already visited the park once on a school field trip.

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So, away we went to catch another bus! Ann & Brian don't have a car in Spain, though they were able to get driver's licenses -- something that most of their American co-workers have been unable to secure. Apparently, there is no reciprocal licensing relationship between Spain & the USA... but there is between Spain & Brazil and they were both licensed there! Incidentally, they rented a car just last weekend to take the boys to camp -- it's that in-between time when school's out but teachers & administrators still have to go to work.

It was a gorgeous day and the bus was crowded!! We stood most of the way.

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There's ^^ a wedding!

So, apparently the thing to do in L'Albufera is to go on a boat trip on Albufera Lake and then eat paella -- or vice versa! There are many establishments offering package deals.

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Our boat captain was this kindly old gent whose name I don't recall. He made a point of telling us that his grandparents came to Spain from Great Britain. He had fun goofing around with our three youngest passengers -- twins, at least, but we thought possibly even triplets.

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We saw fish and birds and lots of ducks & ducklings... patos y patitos!

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El Palmar is literally nothing but restaurants. There wasn't a convenience store or gift shop to be found, which I found astounding!!

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We had a very traditional paella -- Paella Valenciana -- which includes chicken, rabbit, and snails. Yes, I ate snails!! Between all the tapas restaurants we visited, the mercado, and this, I had octopus, squid, oysters and snails (a couple of firsts). Anyway, it was delicious!!

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And another type of beer: SIVARIS TOSTADA is the first rice, artisan and gourmet beer, designed to accompany rice. Aromatic, full of nuances, balanced structure, with a certain turbidity, soft bubble and kindness in the mouth. Perfect to drink alone, with a good paella or maridar with strong rice, red meats, game, foie or risottos. (source)

We missed a bus heading back to the city, so had a long wait for the next one during which we sat in the shade (it was HOT!) and found some water at a nearby restaurant, and I mused (again) on the lack of convenience/gift shops because I'd have totally rather shopped while waiting.

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Annie had made the cheesecake before we left in the morning (with the graham crackers I'd brought for the crust). Upon our return, Mack's best friend popped over with a gift and we all sang and ate cake!!

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I can't believe this little baby is 12!!


Spain: Valencia (Day 4)

This is a stitched-together photo to show the wonderful view from the window in Addy's room, which he kindly lent me during our visit.

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And this was my view from bed -- the window is really more like a door. No screens, only the iron railing.

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It was gorgeous... and also LOUD!! In the big city, they don't empty the dumpsters between 7 am and 5 pm, they do it at 2 am!! Most buildings are tall -- 4, 5, 6 stories and more -- so there's also AN ECHO IN THERE!! Yikes. I live on the end of a dead-end street in a sleepy little city, and I'm sure not used to that! I tried to liken it to Rio and the "joyful noise" emanating from Rocinha, but this was not that at all. I resorted to earplugs after the first night.

On Saturday morning, we walked to Mercado Central. Wow.

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The food!

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We watched a fish vendor shuck some oysters and then had them for a mid-morning snack... along with some champagne!

Meandering back, we found the narrowest house in... the world? Europe? Spain? certainly in Valencia!!

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Orange trees line many streets! But they are not Valencia oranges and apparently are bitter and not very good to eat.

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They sure are pretty though!

In the afternoon, we packed up and hopped a bus headed for the beach.

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It was a gorgeous day!!

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Between Saturday & Sunday, despite being under cover practically the whole time, I managed to get a pretty good sunburn!

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And day is done. It was so great to have a more relaxing day after the frantic pace of those preceding!


In other news: Weekending

Let's take a break from the travelogue, shall we?

I started a new knitting project on Friday night: a wee hat on DPNs. Somehow, I lost a needle while casting on, and then a second went missing. I searched around and under my chair & ottoman, and then had a look "inside" my chair. Gah! Right off the bat, I spotted a couple of crayons and stitch markers, some food (a veggie straw, an M&M, some nuts), and a DPN -- a bigger one that I didn't even know was missing!!

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Hungry, Hungry Recliner

I decided that one of my Saturday projects would be pulling that chair apart to clean and reclaim some of that stuff!

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I turned it over on its side, and ended up propping it up on a box for ease of access. I pulled out a bunch of staples along the edge and, handily, found that a couple of super-size paperclips had also fallen in there, so I used them to hold back the fabric while I then wiggled & shook everything out!

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I almost dislocated a shoulder! It's a heavy chair.

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There's the "good stuff"! Haha. (I found the other missing DPN under a nearby chest.)

The kiddos were over for a while on Saturday, too.

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Gin is walking as if she's been doing it for weeks! She toddled in carrying my bike helmet.

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She was suffering a case of the summertime sniffles and/or teething... and took the rare (short) nap at Nona's house!

Maddy ran in & out again yesterday -- she's "home," but she's been very busy reconnecting & visiting with friends, so I haven't seen her much. A little downtime is forthcoming...

What else? It was a fairly low-key weekend at home -- kids & grandkids in & out, some knitting, some cleaning out & organizing, and a new sewing project cut out.

How about you? How was your weekend??


Spain: Valencia (Day 3, Part 2)

We left Barcelona for Valencia on the 4 pm train, arriving at about 7. Ann & Brian met us at the station and we walked to their apartment. The boys were happy to see us, but also pooped after the school week and ready to hunker down for a bit.

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So we took off with Ann!

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Surprise! We visited another church!

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We found a delightful spot for tapas, and I tried a yummy local beer.

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We got our bearings a little bit...

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And took off for the park. Jardin del Turia (Turia River Gardens) is a huge garden/park located in what was formerly a riverbed. There are, indeed, gardens...also foot and bike paths, soccer fields, a children's playground called Parc Gulliver, and more, all leading to the City of Arts and Sciences.

We happened upon an Alternative Craft Fair in the park, just before closing time.

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Maddy & Annie found some amazing handmade shoes, and each came home with a pair!

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I found an adorable dress for Gin (modeled by Jun, below).

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And some lovely earrings for myself.

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Made by Anna Panyella Joies. I can't stop wearing them!

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And we walked, enjoying the park and admiring a few of the beautiful bridges overhead that cross over it. We made our way to the City of Arts and Sciences and, once again, found ourselves agape.

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It's gorgeous, day (this photo taken a few days later) or night! Hi-tech, sci-fi, modern... very Star Wars-y. And the whole thing -- everything -- is covered in mosaic tile, almost all of it white. Incredible.

By then it was about midnight and it had been a long, busy day. We head back to the apartment and to bed. Mack kindly gave his room & trundle bed up for the girls, and I slept in Addy's room. We were on the 6th floor, had a tiny shared balcony, floor-to-ceiling windows -- it's really a cute apartment! The boys were thrilled to camp out in a fort they'd made in the living room, so it all worked out.

It was nice to know that we'd be there for a few days/nights, too! To be continued...


Spain: Barcelona (Day 3, Part 1)

We checked out of our Airbnb early Friday morning and hailed a cab, stopping at Locker Barcelona on the way to once again stow our bags. These places are great! Just as at the airport, there were a variety of locker sizes (we needed only one each time) and the cost is very reasonable!

We caught another cab and headed to Basilica De La Sagrada Familia. Those were the other advance tickets we purchased; we needed to choose a time to visit, and also a time to ascend one of the towers -- and, unlike The Book of Kells, they were quite particular about the timing!

It is an amazing place -- still under construction (always and forever?) (at least until 2030 or so!).

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And, indeed, men were working and those cranes were moving!

Breathtaking, is all I can say...

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Everywhere you look, there's something to see... and then something else catches your eye, and something more... Parts of the ceiling looked as though giant millefleur beads were embedded.

And the color!

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We visited the Nativity Tower.

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We ascended by lift and then walked up, across, and down. The views were amazing... that spiral staircase seemed endless!

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The reflection was terrible, but this model of the cathedral was fascinating!

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It looks a little bit like a drip sand castle from afar, doesn't it?

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We grabbed a bit to eat, then headed back to explore the area near Locker Barcelona.

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Including another church and a fabulous children's shop!

I wish we'd had time to visit some of the other amazing Gaudi sites, such as Casa Batllo, Casa Milo, and Park Guell -- and a whole bunch of other things -- but, as my mother always said, it's good to leave something for when you return.

We retrieved our luggage, hailed another cab and headed to Barcelona Sants to catch our train for Valencia. Stay tuned for Day 3, Part 2!

* * * * *

Mom

Missing you every single day, Mom. I can't believe it's been 3 years. xoxox


Ireland to Spain: Madrid > Barcelona (Day 2)

We checked out of our Dublin Airport hotel at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday and hopped the shuttle for the airport. Our flight to Madrid departed at 6:15 a.m. * Yawn *

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We arrived in Madrid at around 10, and the plan was to meet Maddy, who was flying from Sydney, in Barcelona later that day.

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Kate & I had already booked our tickets from Madrid > Barcelona on the high-speed AVE train, and that entitled us to a free train ticket from the airport to the city. I'd printed out all the information about that and how to retrieve those tickets from a ticket vending machine, which really came in handy, except that it wasn't working for some reason and we ended up standing in line at Customer Service, anyway. Turns out, those tickets are only valid 4 hours prior to the main departure time -- and we were too early!

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We sat and waited an incredibly long 4 minutes... I took a photo of the airport ceiling... and then it worked perfectly and we were on our way!

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The Atocha station in Madrid is beautiful -- and huge! We had a few hours in Madrid before we needed to catch the train, and I had done a little research ahead of time, so we headed toward that sign on the bottom right that reads "CONSIGNAS" to stow our suitcases in a locker and took the short walk from the terminal to Museo Nacional del Prado -- Prado National (Art) Museum.

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We walked past the Royal Botanic Garden on the way, but couldn't see much as they were having some work done. On the list for next time!

We rushed through Prado, finding the locations of the most important (to us) pieces/artists -- of course, seeing plenty more as we made our way through -- and leaving enough time for a bite at the cafe and a visit to the museum gift shop.

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There was quite the garden/atrium at Atocha station!

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We retrieved our bags and then went to catch our train, which turned out to be a little hairy, as we hadn't printed out the actual tickets... I had them on my phone, but they wanted paper! Kate rushed over to a machine to try and figure it out, while I held a spot in line at Customer Service; she was finally successful and we rushed to (successfully) make our connection!

The train ride was very nice, and oh how I wish we had a train system like that here! It was non-stop from Madrid to Barcelona, and I saw top speed of 299 kph (186 mph). Maddy's flight had been late arriving in Doha, but she was able to make her connection, and we found each other within minutes at Barcelona Sants!

Our Airbnb was located in the Gothic Quarter and, according to Google Maps, was about a 40-minute walk from the station. I figured, after all the planes & trains, that we'd like a good walk; called our host and let her know we were on our way.

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It took us a bit longer than 40 minutes, as we made our way through unfamiliar territory and took a couple of wrong turns looking for the "pedestrian street" on which our apartment was located. Luckily, our host was patient enough... and offered me her fan when we arrived! She was utterly dismayed that we were staying for only one night, having previously sent me a list of things to do in Barcelona that we'd have trouble completing had we stayed a month!

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Gorgeous basilicas & cathedrals everywhere!

We had a wonderful evening together, traipsing around a bit, finding a spot to enjoy some delicious tapas & drinks...

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Smiles! (And terrible lighting.) (But SMILES!)

...and went to bed "early" as we had another busy day on tap!


On the way to Spain: Ireland stopover (Day 1)

I'm back!! Everything went smoothly until the very last bit of the last flight home. Weather was a problem, causing back-ups and delays at O'Hare, and the powers-that-be diverted us to Detroit. It all went south from there for a bunch of reasons and, after several (overnight) hours of waiting, we ended up taking a train to Chicago and making our way from downtown to O'Hare to fetch the car and drive home. Soooo tired. It was a struggle, and we frequently switched drivers; we arrived home at 7 pm and I was in bed by 8!

I ended up taking half the day off on Friday to do the things I'd intended to do on Thursday (fetch Maddy's vehicle, reinstate insurance, reactivate mobile phone, unpack, do laundry, etc). I did some other errands on Saturday, and on Sunday I had an unplanned but well deserved Pajama Day! I didn't even venture outside far enough to see if the paper had arrived... I found it this morning in the driveway.

Anyway, here's the total of my luggage for a one-week international vacation! The tote was my "personal item" while traveling, and the suitcase is carry-on size; I checked the suitcase only on the return flight home, as Maddy had to check her backpack, anyway. I folded & packed my new Baggallini Medium Avenue Tote inside my suitcase for my everyday running around purse (so many ways to carry that bag, including cross-body). I plan to do a more detailed post about What I Packed (used/didn't use), but this is the lightest I ever packed for a trip of any length in my life!

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Our flight departed O'Hare on Tuesday evening. Kate & I both worked until noon that day and she picked me up right from work; we arrived with plenty of time to spare, and that's always better than the stress of rushing!

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There was a 24-hour layover in Dublin on our itinerary, and we took advantage of that! (I got a new stamp in my passport, too.) We'd booked a room in a hotel at the airport, took the shuttle over and they allowed us to check in upon arrival on Wednesday morning. We freshened up and changed clothes, and then hopped a bus into the city.

There was a little panic & confusion and we ended up getting off the bus a bit too early, so there was a metro ride involved, too! Haha!

Our first destination was the Irish Museum of Modern Art to see the exhibitions As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics and IMMA Collection: Freud Project.

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The museum is housed in a portion of the former Royal Hospital Kilmainham, which is an astounding property. It was interesting to imagine the gallery rooms as hospital rooms (they were quite nice, with lovely windows!).

This was one of my favorite exhibition pieces:

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Hilma af Klint, Altarpiece, No 1, Group X, Series Altarpieces, 1915 , Oil and metal leaf on canvas

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But these! All this!! This was an installation outside of the museum by Brazilian artist Stephan Doitschinoff (you can see the panels in the photo of the building above).

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He speaks about the work in the video about the exhibition below (at about 4:23).

We sort of rushed through this art museum (in what turned out to be a recurring theme) because we had tickets for The Book of Kells. Turns out we needn't have rushed, as they weren't particularly strict about the time at TBoK -- as long as our ticket was dated that day, we could have gone at any time. Oh well.

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We were positively agape in The Long Room, but pulled ourselves together for a selfie.

We weren't far from the National Gallery of Ireland, so walked over there, too. They were "between" things, preparing for the opening of a Vermeer show (which would have been wonderful to see), but we did enjoy the Margaret Clarke exhibition. 

I didn't realize, until it began to rain, how lucky we were that it wasn't raining as we made our way about Dublin, as that had been the forecast.

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We ducked out of the rain and into a pub for some grub and beer. Kate had Irish stew and I had shepherd's pie -- it was delicious!!

We made our way back to the hotel. I had a message from Norma, who was also in Dublin that day (life is so weird sometimes)!! And we were up super early on Thursday to catch our shuttle for the flight to Spain!

Stay tuned for Day 2!


Bags are packed

Well, I was up at about 4:15 this morning... not by design, but because instead of popping up every 5 minutes to write things down so I wouldn't forget, I decided to just get up and do.the.things!

Maybe that means I'll get some good sleep on the plane tonight.

I never did get a chance to pick up the book I had on hold at the library, so will surely finish Barbara Kingsolver's "Homeland." I have a few hours left listening to Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety," so have downloaded "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon... it's set in Barcelona, so it seems fitting!! I also have a book downloaded to Kindle called "Illustrated Valencia Noir" by Isis Sousa & Ove Neshaug.

My small carry-on is packed and once I deliver the boxes of graham crackers (for the crust of Mack's requested cheesecake birthday cake) and Cheez-its (for Addy), I'll have room to bring a little something home with me, too!

Besides PJs, socks & underwear, I've packed a handbag, two pairs of sandals, two capri pants, a skirt, a dress, eight tops, a cropped sweater and a long cotton sweater. I'm wearing a pair of cropped pants, a top, a long lightweight sweater -- and will be switching out to a pair of tennies and compression socks when we're at the airport.

I found a nice, not-too-big tote for my "personal item." I have my dossier including schedules, tickets, boarding passes, maps, etc., wallet w/passport inside (it's been there for a couple of weeks -- since I woke from a dream that we were at the airport and I'd forgotten it!) (I got up right then and put it in my wallet), tablet, phone, chargers, tissues, antacid, ibuprofen, and liquids.

And -- because I had so much time this morning -- even some knitting! I've packed the third pair of Squad Mitts, wherein mitt #1 is about 3/4 finished, and a bag full of scraps for hexipuffs! Seems like good, carry-on, portable, small knitting...

Think good thoughts for Maddy. She's flying Qatar Airways and called in a bit of a panic last night after the news. Everything should be OK, from what I've seen. She's a wonderful traveler, except when it comes to actually traveling (flying, in particular)!!

Kate & I are heading to the airport in about :30. So excited.


Sew, the weekend...

Actually, it's more like "Sew, the month..." as I haven't done anything but sew since I finished knitting my Colorwash Shawl!

First it was the Tom Petty Corset; all put together and awaiting binding (and the loss of a few pounds)!

I still wanted a Corset, though, and found some Batman t-shirts on clearance at Macy's. I love the fabric, but the design of these things is hiddy:

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I'd already chopped & sliced that one up, but yuck. I had an XL and an XXL, the backs gave me enough fabric for the body and there was more than enough on the fronts to cut binding.

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It's a little bit wonky. The fabric is 100% cotton, but much finer and lighter in weight than I'm used to -- medium weight is what I usually order from Alabama Chanin, often heavy weight in the thrifted t-shirts.

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I checked a couple of times to verify that it was 100% cotton and not some combo with bamboo or something. It was slippery, more difficult to control, and it took a while to get it all sewn up. I like it well enough, though!

Since then, I've been working on the Alabama Chanin Magdalena A-line that I'd begun a year ago, in the hopes that perhaps I'd finish in time to bring it along on vacation. But first...

I "fixed" some sleepwear that I also want to take.

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The heavy embroidered design was replaced with this:

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It's a little swatch from when I was contemplating ideas for Catamount. I'm so glad to have found a use for it! That one little sequin makes me inordinately happy.

And voila! I finished all the seaming of the A-line on Saturday night, so yesterday was all about binding.

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That dress form isn't anywhere near my size, but you get an idea.

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Cretin stitch... always a bit of a challenge for me, but I think I'm getting better!

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Originally, I'd stenciled pieces for the back, too, but I've left the back a single layer and plain for a number of reasons... besides time. One is that the technique used on the front is "lighter" than some. Another is that I'd placed the stencil on all four pieces in almost exactly the same manner, and have decided that I'd prefer some variation. I'm hoping to use those other pieces to make something for Gin!

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Anyway, here it is. I used a couple of different colors of thread for the sewing. The cutting (negative reverse applique) was CRAZY INTENSE with all those knots & tails on the outside, but I don't think I accidentally snipped short a single one of those tails!

It's crunch time now!! One more sleep at home, another sleep on the plane, and then our first stop: Dublin!


Friday!

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Photos by Lauren Kirsch, LK Photography.
Check out her beautiful IG, too. (I love her work!).
Lauren & Ali have been friends for years.

In celebration of Gin's 1st birthday, the kids had a family photo session last month, and Rusty & I snuck at the end for a few photos with Gin & Jun. SO FUN!! It occurred to me just now that we should have done a big group photo, too! But you know... in the thick of it, and especially when there are kiddos involved, it's incredibly difficult to remember and do all.the.things.

The photos are FABULOUS! This is in the kids' back yard, cherry tree in full bloom providing a lovely background.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I'll be doing laundry and starting to pack my (very small) suitcase!


Dear June,

Yeah, well, I'm glad you're here. You've always been a pretty awesome month, no matter what's been going on!

The last half of May sort of kicked my ass. The "springtime cold" and "major sniffles" I was experiencing are most certainly allergy related... it's been two weeks, so obviously not a cold. Dumb. As a result, my energy level has not that great (when's the last time I slept for 12 hours?) and I haven't been moving all that fast. I really hope to see some improvement there!

And there's plenty to look forward to. After all, it's SUMMER!!

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This year, I'm doing some traveling. It'll be a quick trip and jam-packed, but should be an awful lot of fun. Kate & I are traveling together to Spain, via Ireland, where we'll join up with Maddy and then visit my sister Ann & her family for a few days!

Kate & I have a 24-hour layover in Dublin, and plans to visit #1) a pub and #2) Trinity College to see The Book of Kells. (In that order.)

The next day, we'll fly to Madrid and hop a train for Barcelona to meet Maddy, who is flying from Sydney, Australia! We've booked an Airbnb overnight there, and our host sent a list of things to do so long that even if we were there a month, we'd barely make a dent! (For the Future File.) We've purchased advance tickets to visit La Sagrada Familia, and will have a few more hours to explore before we catch a train to Valencia.

Other than paella, Mack's birthday cheesecake, and a visit to Albufera National Park, paella, we don't really have any firm plans for our 3+ days in Valencia! But we have plenty of ideas, and whatever we do will be amazing.

The girls and I will head back to Madrid on the train, where we've booked another overnight Airbnb, and our flight for home departs the next morning.

I won't have my computer, but maybe a tablet, and of course my phone... we'll just see how it works out for posting. Keep an eye on Instagram!

Maddy will be home!!

Later in the month, we'll all be heading up north to my uncle's cabin for a few days.

In between is my twin sisters' birthday, my niece is coming for a quick visit before she packs up & moves to Florida next month, and I have a million projects that I want to finish/do, including some new mosaic tables for the pergola. I'm pretty busy, both at work and at home, trying to get everything done that will need doing while we're away. Whew.

It's always so nice to see you!

Love, Vicki

P.S. I think Jun & I are going to have a sleepover tomorrow!

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


Day off

Yesterday was my usual day off of work, and I decided to do a literal interpretation for a change. No dentist appointments, no banking or bill-paying, no grocery shopping, no dusting, no, nothing, nada.

I didn't get dressed until noon -- and, really, only then because there'd already been two delivery men at the door, and also because I'd be warmer. It was overcast and cool outside and... well, just not the kind of day that energizes me!

I never put on shoes and never left the house.

I never woke up my computer nor turned on the light in my workroom.

I watched TV and sewed.

Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, I'd watched all of The Keepers on Netflix.

I basted the binding on the Alabama Chanin Corset over the weekend but that's not what I've been working on. What's been in-hand lately is the Magdalena A-Line Tunic that I stenciled about a year ago.

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This crazy thought popped into my head: Wouldn't it be fun to wear this in Spain?

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I doubt that I'll finish in time. This is the state of the front -- a bit of sewing yet to do, and a lot of cutting -- and I'll have to locate the back!

But... I'll never say "Never"!!


Book Bingo!

I had an OK weekend, despite aches & major sniffles from a springtime cold. We finished booking most of the transportation and lodging for Spain. We had some family time. I went to bed early...

I'm looking forward to an extra-long holiday weekend and the chance to catch up on some of the other things I'd planned to do last weekend!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling much better today, and am revving my reading engine!! Here's my 2017 BOOK BINGO card and ideas so far:

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The green-shaded squares are books that are currently underway. I'm nearly finished with Dark Matter, so am making progress with Homeland and Other Stories while I bide my time until the start of Memorial Day Weekend to finish (just a few more days!). I have to determine which of the others will be begged, borrowed, or stolen (haha, not really) (purchased: new or used), and which will be audio, if not already designated by category.

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That's what I'm thinking as of now! I have multiples for a number of squares and definitely reserve the right to switch things around. The one that's stumped me so far is "ABOUT POLITICS," because ew. Would The Handmaid's Tale work for that one? (Can you believe I've never read it??)

I am open to suggestions!!

Ready readers? Are you working on your BOOK BINGO card? There's plenty of time to pull it together. Mary has all the details, rules, and a link to the card generator!


Scenes

It's been a busy week! We had an impromptu get together & cookout on Wednesday... it was so nice outside!

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SidewalkChalk-1

Rod and his brother came over and began cutting up some fallen trees in our ravine. And while they did that, Rusty did this:

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Two 30-gallon garbage bags full of garlic mustard... and I wish I could say that was the end of it. Terrible stuff.

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Allium

Meanwhile, there's so much blooming right now: lilacs, allium, wild geranium, lilies of the valley, some sweet narcissus from out of nowhere!

I'm hoping to get a handle on my knitting this weekend. All of my projects are so "needy" at the moment -- and I refuse to cast on something new! I've been tempted, but instead I've been sewing...


Mother's Day Gardening & Crafts

...or Mother's Day Garden Crafts!! I chuckled pretty hard on Friday when I read about making a Garden Spicer! I didn't really have any intention to make one myself, until I was touring the back yard with Rusty on Saturday morning and spotted the old wooden star ornaments that Kate nixed from my garden. (And high time, too.)

I knew exactly how to repurpose those!! And I made two!! I had a date to take family photos for friends on the occasion of Mom's birthday, and I knew she's love a Garden Spicer!!

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There's mine in the barberry bush in front of the house. He's not sitting quite as I'd like, and I rearranged several times before deciding that maybe I should just try another spot... a barberry bush has thorns, y'all!

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Here he is popping up behind the vinca!

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Scamp's not too concerned...

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So damn funny.

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We've had some rain; he's starting to run.

* * * * *

On Sunday, Rusty and I got the potato patch ready.

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And then I picked up our potato planter.

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Seriously, other than some spacing issues, the kid has it down!! He was straddling the rows like a champ and loved watering, too.

* * * * *

On Saturday morning, I finally scratched a little itch I've had for a few weeks and cut out an Alabama Chanin Corset.

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I'm using a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert tee (US Tour 2005) that I picked up at a thrift shop a while ago. I've only finished one other Corset, so far, and that was also from a concert tee (Hootie & The Blowfish)! I made a little modification on this one to raise the neckline about a half-inch.

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I accidentally snipped a hole on the back when I was cutting, but used this detail from the sleeve to patch it.

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The pieces were sewn together by machine, finishing is being done by hand. I think the felled seams give Tom a sort of Franken-petty look!

It's a little snug, but I love it... incentive to keep collecting those "5" stickers at WW! I've got three, so far, and even though I was up a bit last night... still going down! Ali spent two days (and sent countless exasperated Snapchats) making an Opera Cake for Mother's Day... what kind of mother would I be if I didn't have a piece or three?? That's over now, and I'd like to hit -20 by the time we depart for Spain.


FO: Christmas Polar Bears

Given that it's taken until Mother's Day to finally finish what were intended to be Christmas presents, you'd think that perhaps there was a real big snafu or difficulty with the pattern.

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  • Ravelry Project Pages:
  • Pattern: Knitted Polar Bear by Louise Walker in Mollie Makes, Issue #72
  •  Yarn:
    • Plymouth Yarn Encore Mega - Ecru, Natural, Black
    • A bit of leftover fingering yarn for eyes
  • Needles:  US 13
  • Start to Finish:  October 26/November 7 - May 14, 2017
  • Mods:
    • Embroidered eyes rather than safety eyes.
    • Rather than knitting 12 individual 3-stitch claws for each bear (I'd rather stick a needle in my eye), I cast on 9 stitches for each paw and used it as a base from which to knit them. It was still fiddly knitting, but I think it was easier to position and sew in the end.
    • Ooops! I just remembered that I knit collars for each bear. The head of each bear is filled with polyfil and I couldn't imagine that it would stay there with playing/cuddling/wrestling, so I "sewed" them closed at the neck... and knit a collar for each bear to a) distinguish one (Jun's) from another (Gin's) and b) hide the sewing.
    • Whatever. I'm still calling them FOs!!

The were very quick and quite fascinating to knit. The sewing up... well, that's never my favorite thing, but the finished pieces are so adorable, it's definitely worth it! The fact is, I've already "finished" once but that was quite short-lived as Junah dislodged a "safety eye" in all of three minutes while absent-mindedly cuddling/fiddling with his bear!

Ho-hum. I dithered over that situation for a while. I really loved the way those big fat round safety eyes looked, but they were obviously not so safe when used on a gauge this big and a toy intended to be played with.

They hung around my house for a while -- quite comfortably on my footstool, actually -- and in the course of the kids coming over, Gin eventually worked out another couple of eyes! They were so big that they weren't really a choking hazard, but still... ARRRGGGHHHH!

The wisdom of blog readers led me to embrace the embroidered eye... I was a little reluctant, but my other solutions involved a lot of un-doing & re-doing, and I hate that, plus I wasn't certain it would solve the problem.

So finally the other day, I sewed a rough outline of the eyes.

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They were sitting on a side table by my chair when Junah saw them yesterday and lit up... They have EYES!! He grabbed them and cuddled up on the couch, hugging one in each arm, and I decided that it was TIME!! (How terrible a grandmother can I be??)

I finally located some leftover black yarn and set to work.

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Bear-6

They're not perfectly smooth & round, but they are EYES and the job is done... so perfect.

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Bear-5

And also loved!

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I don't know why it takes so long to get around to things like this sometimes. My mom would say that I get that from my grandmother!

Speaking of mothers, I had such a wonderful weekend full of so many good things -- sewing, crafting, gardening, building, celebrating -- not to mention cooking, eating, and drinking! A couple of projects are underway... details to follow!

I hope you had a great weekend, too.


Majorette Mom

The other day I read this great piece in The New York Times: Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them. I've read it three or four times now.

I'd already been thinking about my mom, of course, and even thinking about her being a Majorette when she was in high school... before I knew her. I decided that this was the year of Majorette Mom! There aren't a lot of photos of her before I knew her/she became a mother, but of them, most are as a Majorette.

I think this is the only "pro" shot, probably taken for the yearbook or a program.

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There are a bunch of photos, in different outfits, that were taken by my grandpa around their home in Marshfield.

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One of the cutest things I remember my mom saying about being a cheerleader is that she'd shout "FIRST & TEN, DO IT AGAIN!" but had absolutely NO IDEA what it meant... having zero interest in the game (it was all about the BOYS) (of course).

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Knitorious-majorette-mom-7

I remember those boots. She'd kept them a long time, for whatever reason, and they were in the cedar chest (now mine) that was at the foot of her bed (along with her wedding dress) (most recently worn by Ali). They were EVERYTHING... with TASSELS!

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I am reasonably certain that my mother's affinity for all things ROYAL began here. And also the attitude.

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Knitorious-majorette-mom-5

She used to give lessons to the little girls in the neighborhood for 25 cents.

There was a scar on one eyebrow from a wayward baton.

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I'm not sure whose idea it was to climb onto the ridge of the garage... probably not Grandma's!

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But it resulted in one of my favorite photos of all time! I think Grandpa wasn't a half-bad photographer, though I know of no other photos he made.

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And when the tables were turned, he wasn't a bad subject, either! Haha!

What springs to mind about your mother... before she was a mother?


FO: Colorwash Scarf

It's official!

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Isn't she lovely? Kym deserves credit that this is even a thing! I was this >< close to frogging after barely getting a start; she was the lone voice cautioning, "not so fast, see what happens." And I listened!

We seem to be forming a Mutual Encouragement Society!

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I love how it turned out. It was really fun to knit and watch it develop; the more I knit, the more I liked it.

It's bright and bold -- and a bit outside of my comfort zone. It will "go" with almost anything, though, and will certainly provide a pop of color to my normally dark and neutral wardrobe.

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I think there are a couple of reasons this worked so well, despite the super-colorful and super-saturated yarn.

One is that Kirsten's brilliant pattern was designed for WILD YARNS, and this is certainly that!

Another is that the distribution of color was very even throughout. Each color was given equal billing, so to speak, and they all play nicely together -- there are no spotlight-hogging (pooling or flashing) divas!

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I'm on the fence about the yarn, which I've never used before. It's very soft and there's a fabulous halo; I'm not sure how it will hold up over time, especially in terms of pilling. It's also very hard... it's difficult to describe, but it makes a "hard edge" that I sometimes find uncomfortable to wear, and I wonder if that might be slightly less an issue without the silk element. It might be partly design; I find it tricky to comfortably wear any shawl that has a really taut edge. It's definitely a thing with me, though, because it's not just shawls -- this is something that happens with all types of garments, whether commercial or handmade. I don't know what it is, but if it doesn't sit "just so," it can hurt my neck, back, shoulders.

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It sure makes me so happy, though, and it looks fabulous on the form. I will fuss 'til it feels right!

Meta moment with Kate... she's posting about me taking pictures to post about my knitting. (She'd also been working in the garden!)


Unraveled: unofficial FO

Joining Kat & friends again this week for Unraveled Wednesday!

I'll save the official FO post for later, when I can take some photos, but unofficially it's a finished Colorwash Scarf!

I gave it a soak yesterday afternoon and pinned it out on my blocking mat atop my bed. Then realized that the "guest room" could easily be my "blocking room," so carried it up to the guest bed!

I unpinned it from the blocking mat this morning and took a quick selfie outside the garage before I got in the car...

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You might notice that I added a few stripes... couldn't help myself. I have a couple of things to say about this project, so stay tuned.

I began listening to Crossing To Safety by Wallace Stegner last week. It's been a little busy around here, so even when there was quieter time when I could have been listening to my book, I opted instead for silence. I'm at a part in the book that's set in Madison, though, so it was kind of fun to visit as I'd just read about it... albeit 80 years difference. (You cannot drive your car down State Street toward the Wisconsin State Capitol anymore! Since it was turned into a pedestrian zone in 1974, the only wheeled vehicles allowed are fire, police, delivery, buses, and bicycles.)

And Dark Matter is still the book on my nightstand. I am making progress. It may have turned a little weird(er) last night... or I was just really tired (which I was). Progress is slow, but it is progress. I should start thinking about the next nightstand book!


Sunday Shenanigans (Weekending, cont'd)

I let a couple of participatory things slide this month.

In the past, I've enjoyed doing Macro May (even if I was the only participant!), but I let that slide this year in favor of another photography-related challenge which I shall share in good time.

Actually, I don't think I ever fully participated in #memademay, but I've been a fan and it was on my radar. On Sunday, I fired up my newly repaired sewing machine* and did a little mending... #memendedmay!

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This is one of Kate's book bags from when she was a Master's student at University of Edinburgh... and obviously used well beyond! The fabric began to fray at one of the handle attachment points, and I wanted to fix it for her. The bag is worn, ink-stained and, some might argue, really not worth the trouble. (Kate may even have replaced it on her most recent trip.) That ink stain, though! I reinforced the frayed areas with stitching, then added another layer of fabric inside -- scrap from Mom's old pillowcase that I used for Gin's most recent Gingeranium dress.

That project under my belt, I mended the failed handle (and reinforced the rest) of a Tyvek tote bag from Rio de Janeiro, repaired a couple of the canvas grocery bags that we've used for years, and even repaired a pair of underwear where the elastic had come away from the fabric.

Oh, I was channeling my mother BIG TIME!! She mended everything, including more substantial underwear repairs (but that's where I draw the line).

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I patched a hole, by request, in this favorite paint-spattered flannel shirt of Rusty's. (Yes, I did use a piece of pink & white gingham -- it's the only flannel that I could find in my stash!) It's not beautiful, but it'll do... I also reinforced a button that was barely hanging on.

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And I made towels! I've had a length of this fabric for years, always with this intention. It finally dawned on me that it might have been from one of those hand towel rolls (that you rarely see anymore). Anyway, I cut it (none too carefully) into kitchen towel-ish lengths and hemmed both ends... voila! Three new towels, plus a little extra for the rag bag.

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POTATOES!! I am so excited, you just can't imagine. We drove out to the local farm** on Sunday morning and I bought a little of everything. All Certified Organic, I have Dark Red Norland, Oneida Gold, Blue Adirondack (purple), Superior, and French Fingerling.

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Here's the view of my little potato patch from they bedroom window. I'll be able to check on it everyday! There's nothing there yet; next on my list is manure and hay/straw. I may build up the soil just a bit, too, because there's a black walnut tree a little ways away.

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Family photo shoot! I helped wrangle and cajole, and then Rusty & I had a few frames snapped with the kiddos.

Whew! I had yesterday off and spent most of it at home... quietly and mostly alone. Ahhh.

*The old Husqvarna is still humming, but my repair guy says that parts are getting harder and harder to find, and I might want to start looking around for its replacement. Boo.

**We chatted while bagging potatoes and when she told me that they also give horseback riding lessons... ding-ding-ding. I realized that I'd been there before! Ali & her friend Abbey used to take lessons there when they were in high school; Abbey's mom still keeps her horse out there.


Weekending: Together With / Madison

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Brian Prugh . (title to be updated) . Nylon tulle . 2017

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Tobias FikeDraco (left) and Puppis . Solar-burned canvas. 2017

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Laura ShillRun So Far (from the Absent Lovers series) . Cyanotype . 2017

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Amber CobbHeld, Hugged, and Stroked . Silicone on bathmat. 2016

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Esau McGhee . (titles to be updated) . Collage. 2017

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Ian FisherAtmosphere No. 85 . Oil on canvas . 2017

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Ashley Williams and Sarah Williams (collaboration) . Necessary Language: Berlin/Doi Saket . Clay, wire, foam, and paint . 2017

Those are a few of my favorites pieces from TOGETHER WITHThe show will be up in Madison for a few weeks, then packed away & stored until September when it heads for Denver!

It was late, we were hungry, and Rusty was mightily suffering the allergies, so the only other Gallery Night venue we visited was right across the street at the Overture Center for the Arts, where The Fairytales of Grimm & Litherland was my favorite exhibit by far!

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Gerit Grimm

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Gina Litherland

Path of Needles . Oil on Masonite . 2009
Three Spinsters . Oil on panel . 2015

For anyone interested who lives in or around Madison, Gerit Grimm will be giving a demo @ UW-Madison Art Lofts on Thurs., June 8, 6:30-8:00 pm.

Our Airbnb -- with an app for the garage door and an app to unlock the door -- was really pretty great. We were literally in & out -- went to bed when we arrived, and got ready to leave when we got up! We had breakfast at a new-to-us diner in Madison called The Curve (a whole area of Madison over there that I seem to have never visited before!). 

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It was so lovely, we walked down by the water. I took a panorama photo and then Rusty decided to move and this is what was captured -- it's always weird when something moves!

We were home by early afternoon and I watched the kiddos for a while before getting ready to go to hear the Fox Valley Symphony. It was the finale of their 50th season, and as part of the anniversary celebration, they asked a few local artists to create works of art for the pieces they would perform -- Saturday's piece was A Sea Symphony, and Rusty was asked to create the artwork! Imagine that.


Dear May,

Well, we've already celebrated Gin's first birthday, May the Fourth (Be With You), and now Cinco de Mayo!

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Where can it possibly go from here??

For starters, we're heading to Madison this evening for Gallery Night and the opening of TOGETHER WITH, curated by Kate and showing at The Bubbler at Madison Public Library! We're staying at a new and contemporary Airbnb with the most techy host ever -- apps for everything! It'll be a fun get-away. Quick... but FUN!

Mother's Day is there in the middle. Memorial Day at the end.

Really, though, compared to just about every other month this year, you are rather quiet and I'm not going anywhere. Except for the quick trip to Madison, I am staying put!

I'll continue working on projects...

  • Rusty's nearly finished with his part of the guest room re-do, so I'll be furnishing, decorating, and sprucing up a few things. I'm excited for it to come together!
  • I'm not much of a "harvest" gardener, but I'm going to attempt potato farming for the first time! I found a local source for organic seed potatoes -- and many organic other things -- it's not too far from home and I'll be heading there soon.

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My newest assistant!

  • My second shawl in as many months is almost finished, with another (three) (at least) still on the needles and I'm hankering to get back to them! A couple have been in time-out for crimes not their own, and I'm ready to set them free -- figure it out & finish!
  • I am feeling overwhelmed by possibilities, stifled by WIPs, and really need to KonMari my stash and projects; Memorial Day Weekend is earmarked for that task. (I even put it on my calendar.)

And... prep for SPAIN will begin!! I'm so excited to see Annie & the boys, and Maddy!!

Love, Vicki


FO: Summer Camp

More like "Spring Camp!" I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago. I've been wearing it a lot, too.

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It's quite long, and wraps generously around my neck. I never blocked it, and think perhaps the knitted-on leaf edging might benefit from it. But I'm in no rush.

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It "goes" with just about everything, but I especially love it with black, gray (my basics), or light blue.

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It's all garter stitch, which I love, and the pattern was truly easy to memorize! I would consider making another one -- it's a great pattern for speckled or variegated yarn.