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21 posts from March 2010

31 March 2010

Oh!

What a beautiful morning!  Oh, what a beautiful day!

And it just so happens to be Shirley Jones' birthday.  I first knew Shirley as Mrs. Partridge, of course, but it wasn't long before I discovered that she had a previous life.

It's also Herb Alpert's birthday.  He first came to my attention through my dad, no doubt, but my love grew all on its own -- and this is one of my favorite love songs of all time.

It is truly a beautiful day.  I left the house with my jacket on and barely made it off the porch before I went back in to shed it -- 6:30-ish a.m. and already "warm"!  We'll be breaking records this week!

I'm going to meet my BIL this evening to pick up Mack for an overnighter at Noni's!  The rest of his family will follow on Friday.  I don't know about you, but Easter sort of snuck up on me.

30 March 2010

Starting the week off on the right foot

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...with Red Pearl-painted toenails.

Yesterday was Spa Day!  The only improvement I'd make to the day would be to share it with someone or two or three.  Hopefully, it'll come together with the sisters at some point.

It started with a nice, relaxing foot bath while discussing the day's schedule and options.  My first-ever facial followed, and it definitely will not be my last.  Mmmm, wonderful warm towel, soothing cool clay mask, another warm towel, heaven.  I double-checked before I left and, as suspected, reward points from previous salon services over the years are more than enough to redeem for another.  Woohoo!

After the facial, I had a massage.  I'd filled out a preliminary questionnaire and one of the questions had me circle the areas that I felt needed special attention during massage.  When Kim came in, she said, "You've indicated QUITE A FEW areas in need of special attention, what do you REALLY want me to work on?"  We decided to concentrate all efforts on my back and neck -- in fact, she never touched me below the waist, except as she made her way from one side of the table to the other.  Oh my.  I've had back problems since high school, sometimes better, sometimes worse -- I am always aware, and often/usually living with some degree of pain/discomfort related to my back.

Kim asked if I've ever seen a chiropractor and I replied, weakly, "Yeah..."  She said that he probably wouldn't get anything to snap, crackle or pop, anyway.  That's when I told her than it's been nearly 20 years since my last chiropractic adjustment, that I haven't gone since my hip was nearly dislocated in an unsuccessful effort to crack my back.  Ever since, and it hasn't been very often or even every time (maybe 2-3 times), I've seen a massage therapist instead of a chiropractor when I've really gone and done it to my back; more often, I just suffer through it, applying hot- and cold-packs, workin' it and stretchin' it out on my own.

So, anyway, Kim didn't beat around the bush.  She told me that she's just not really into "fluff" once-a-year-on-your-birthday massages, that she takes the "therapy" part of "therapeutic massage" seriously and, if I'd like her help to work on loosening some things and start feeling better, she'd like to work on me again... soon-ish... and regularly.  I'm nodding the whole time because, OMG yeah, I want to move better.  It's on the way home and I can go after work, so I've booked my next appointment.  I'll never again do a back walk-over but some flexibility would be nice.

Aside:  Something is happening here with self-care.  I'm expecting my first shipment from vitaminID.com, as we speak.  I hardly ever take vitamins or supplements on a regular basis, except that one time when I bought a similar, pre-packaged month's supply assortment.  I'm sure there are better (or worse) vitamins I could take; the ones in-hand (almost) are the best ones for me right now.

After the massage I had a manicure and then a pedicure.  A shampoo/style and makeup was part of the original package, but I had it in my head that there'd be a pedi -- they were too booked to do it as an add-on, but I was able to trade the hair/makeup and I was more than pleased.  I'm all set for sandals now -- and we're working our way up to 70F on Friday, so there'll definitely be sandals!

* * * * *

Yesterday, on a whim, I added a photo to the Pioneer Woman Photography Assignments pool on Flickr -- the subject is GREEN.

Backlit green

I was alerted by a friend this morning that I'd made the Day 1 cut.  I've gotta say, that makes for a pretty good start to a Tuesday.  On the heels of such a great (for a change) Monday, this Tuesday was just not lookin' so hot by comparison.  So YAY!

By weird coincidence, I'd just picked up Ree's cookbook the other day and we've all been paging through and talking about it.  Katie admitted that she spent an entire evening on PW's website reading Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  I wouldn't have guessed that.

* * * * *

The Flat Belly Diet! Family Cookbook should probably be next, as PW's cooking is not going to do my belly any favors.

* * * * *

I'm starting to think Project Pink.

Friday night!  Double-date night with Ali & Kevin with dinner (delectable!) at Caffe Mario on the way!

28 March 2010

What to wear?

I bought a few new articles of clothing for spring.  I already know that I'm going to wear this vest until it falls apart... am contemplating buying it in another color... found a "reasonably priced" alternative in the Needless-Markup catalog that just arrived (thanks for that, no doubt, to Ms. J. Jill (purveyor of said vest)).

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Not only do I love it, but I've had compliment after compliment the two times I've worn it.  I thought I'd photograph my ensemble today... (why am I standing so weird in this photo, and is it all bunched up in the back?)

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(...and I'm so much happier now!)  Heh.  Let's try a closer-up.

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My Bamboo Shape-It Scarf appears to have been made to accessorize this vest.  The solid color (red) one is fantastic with it, too, as is almost every other scarf or shawl I've ever knit.  But this one... I love gray!

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Hi.  The mirror is perpetually dirty (permanent cloudiness, actually)... (why am I always smirking?)  (I still love my new glasses.)

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...as my bed is perpetually unmade.  How about closer?

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And closer?

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Yeah.  And flip it.  Flip it good.

I tried to sew together My Habu Sweater today, but our cat Roxie was RIGHT.THERE!  I'm surprised she didn't get poked with a pin.  I knit a bit instead on a happy, colorful, little square.  The cats rarely bother me while I'm knitting.  Don't ask me why.

26 March 2010

Welcome to my latest obsession

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I dug through every box and bag of yarn I could find in an effort to assess my sock yarn situation.  I think I've found some possibilities -- there's a little co-mingling of fingering and sport weight, but I think it'll all work out.

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Subject to whimsy and whatever, this selection is by no means definitive.  I'm just so happy to see that I actually have some workable choices.  Clockwise, from bottom left:  Phildar Lambswool -- I have 2 skeins, a long-ago gift/trade from Yvette; Red Barn Farm hand-dyed black cherry; Patons Kroy Socks Stripes; Bernat Argyle Fingering -- this is the vintage yarn, of which I have quite a few skeins of the green-ish, only a couple of the blue-ish; some gorgeous barberpole yarn that I won years ago in a now-blogless Cindy's blog contest, I have two of those; and some Lion Brand Magic Stripes from who-knows-where.

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The Magic Stripes is the one that gives me pause, but I think it could be made to work -- in fact, it may even be indispensible.

Also, I am totally prepared to frog my least favorite Hundertwasser Baktus scarf for the cause.

And I discovered that I have the ingredients for something similar, but in more earthy tones.  That is no surprise.  I am a master of neutrals and earth tones.  I wonder if I'd like it.

One random sign that spring is springing: I believe new patterns for market/string bags appearing on Ravelry will soon outnumber new patterns for neckwarmer/cowls.

I'm so happy for the weekend -- 3-dayer.  I'm figuring to sew up a sweater or two -- yaHOO; do a little cleaning and organizing; attend the debut performance on Saturday night of Ali's BF's new band.

Happy, happy.

25 March 2010

Happy!

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I do believe I've fallen down the sock-yarn-scrap-blanket rabbit hole.  The very unfortunate thing is that, while I have a modestly small stash of sock yarn, I rarely actually knit socks, which means that the "scrap pile" is... well, there you see it!  That's all of my Hundertwasser scraps, and some Fleece Artist Casbah -in-waiting.  I have quite a bit of solid-color, dark turquoise, vintage sock yarn that I bought at an estate sale some time ago, and I think I shall try designing something with this as the center, that as a more textural background.  Honestly, I was not liking this little square much at first and nearly gave it up, but I'm glad I kept going because I really love it!  It makes me happy to look at it.

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I think this shall become another of some as-yet-undetermined design.  Also happy! 

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The Noro Kureyon Sock was purchased last night at Iris Fine Yarns.  I stopped in last week, at the start of their sale, and left empty-handed but with plenty to ponder.  The Lorna's Laces has been hanging in my stash for quite some time... um, since 2006, when I won it in the contest for the Letter "I" in the original ABC-Along.  I'd link, but I'm having some difficulty with the internet at the moment.

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Anyway, I returned to Iris last night and, besides the Noro, also purchased a half-dozen balls of Rowan Calmer in a few shades for a stealth project, a ball of Phoenix Soy Silk (because I've never and I'd like to), and two hanks of Noro Cash Iroha because I want 198 yds of Heaven (Rav link) for myself!

Also a big bottle of Eucalan.  I used up my old bottle during the Olympic finishing.  Yes, I'm aware that I'm still not entirely FINISHED with the finishing.  Yet.

24 March 2010

Tuesday-Wednesday

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See our names and handprints?  The lower step has only the kids' handprints, ca. 1992, made as the kids and I returned from a weekend visit to my sister's -- a 1yo Maddy tried to grab a handful of the wet concrete leaving a pretty good divot.  The upper step was made some years later, when the grassy "back yard" transformed to include a garage, walkway, clotheline, and "deck" with pergola (no more grass), and includes the whole fam's prints.

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My mother told me about a gorgeous vest that her husband's ex-wife has been wearing, that she thought was knit, and that she wants.  My mother has AMAZING taste and style -- she's more put together to go out and rake the lawn than I am... pretty much, ever.  She piqued my curiosity, so I told her to take a picture or borrow it so I could take a look.  I'm curious that way. 

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Neither of these examples is "the one," as my stepdad's ex-wife is a smart cookie and wouldn't just hand it over to my mother a covetous someone, but she lent a couple of others.  As Mom pulled them out to show, she said that she really didn't care for these colors at.all, but the style of "the one" is as below -- knit squares crocheted together.

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I immediately thought of my grandma -- a woman I love with all my heart, and for a lot of reasons, but style was never among them.  Thought there was that gorgeous, vintage, pale pink, one-button, A-line, wool coat that I found in her attic when I was in high school...

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We quickly determined that it's all about the color and the yarn -- "the one" is in shades of tan and brown and blue -- and has just a touch of luxe yarn for some glitz.

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I haven't volunteered to make one, or anything, and she hasn't asked me to make it for her (the 2-years-in-the-making Habu Birthday Vest still very fresh in our minds).  I'm pretty sure she's hoping that I'd fall in love and feel an immediate need to buy yarn (that she'd help to choose, no doubt) and cast on to make one for myself... which she could then borrow.  I'll admit, I really want to see "the one" now.  And, seriously, my mother could totally handle this project.

* * * * *

Maddy's been home for Spring Break, and it's been fun having her (and her friends) around.

* * * * *

I've been walking with Alison a couple/few times a week; Katie joined us once, but she's been back on the bike more!  I'm feelin' it -- in a good way.  I'm still going to Zumba on occasion -- it's hard to keep a regular schedule with everything else that goes on, but "still going" is key and I've got that.  I've also been trying to get back on track with eating habits, food choices, etc.  Man, that's a constant battle, isn't it?  I wish shopping was easier (more convenient).

* * * * *

I released My Habu Sweater from the blocking board on Monday... now to find some sewing-up time!

* * * * *

Our taxes are done.  Did I mention?  Finished and filed -- this is a first.

* * * * *

Thank you for all the blogiversary wishes!  It was quite a week with the milestones last week.  My celebratory spa day is on Monday and I am SO looking forward to it... and even beyond.  It's at a salon/spa where I used to have my hair done regularly.  For some reason, I started going elsewhere -- probably when the big bridge that I'd take to get there was torn down/under construction -- but not before earning a whole lotta reward points.  It is quite possible that with the booking of my spa treatment, I've earned enough for another massage!  Squee!  I can't wait to find out.

22 March 2010

An awful lot of dancing

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The photos of his kids that my brother-in-law likes best are the ones where the kids have messy faces -- food, boogers, dirt, blood, snot -- it doesn't matter.

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This looks like something-with-jelly, to me.

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My sister and a friend took their four-year-olds to a ballet last weekend.  About a third of the way into it, Mack whispered to my sister that there sure wasn't very much talking...

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...and there was an awful lot of dancing!

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He's been to plenty of plays and concerts, but that was his first ballet and I guess he didn't really know what he'd signed up for!

20 March 2010

It's my party!

It's the First Day of Spring, and also my 6th Blogiversary!

It's as hard to believe I've been quit of the smoking for five years as it is to believe I've been blogging for six years.  It's been a crazy ride, full of ups and downs, dos and don'ts, starts and stops, love and not-so-much love, so much fun and laughter, too much fear and sadness, way too many tears, more than a little angst.

But mostly love and laughter and fun stuff.

More than anything else, and quite unexpectedly, this ride has been about friendship and personal growth.  I didn't start blogging because I wanted to make friends all over the world -- at the heart of it, I'm a rather non-social people person -- and even now (still?) my communication skills leave much to be desired (exemplified by my horrible record at email and comment replies) and it's a wonder I have any friends at all.

I certainly didn't expect to "grow" because of the blog in any area other than the realm of knitting.  Mostly, I had hopes that the fearlessness and adventurousness I saw in other knit-bloggers would rub off on me, and it most certainly did; unfortunately, the patience I've long admired in others never has, neither have I uncovered a long-buried love for swatching, nor mastered colorwork.

I never intended to blog about anything other than knitting, but it appears I am unable to compartmentalize and keep so narrow a focus.  I have blogged, to some degree, about nearly every aspect of my life -- and by "my" life, I mean the life of anyone who has "aspects" that touch mine.  In other words, nothing is sacred.  Though, perhaps, not so much lately.  For whatever reason, I feel I am much more guarded now than in the past.  I'm sure it has to do with the ever-further and ever-wider reaches of the internet, the way everything is or can be linked and cross-posted and how easy it is to be found.  I guess maybe I do like things compartmentalized -- I like to be in control -- I don't necessarily like everything cross-posted and organized for easy access and up-to-the-minute updates.  I've been struggling with my work life/lives mingling with my social life mingling with my knitting life mingling with my photography life mingling with my family life, etc.  I like to be in control -- which I was once, but feel I have lost.

Another post that kind of took a different path...  Blahblahblah, thinking out loud...  The world has changed.  A lot.  I guess I need to figure out how/whether to deal with those changes.

It's been a great six years of blogging.  Thank you!

18 March 2010

We are smokin' the not smokin'

The blog changes lives.

One day, a little over five years ago, my then strictly-blog-friend Ann on Long Island wrote me an email that went something like this:  I told my friend that I'd quit smoking with her.  You wanna quit with us?

I thought for 2.25 seconds and wrote back: YES!

Then I called up my sister and said:  I'm going to quit smoking, you wanna?

And she said:  YES!

Then I told my family, made an admission and announcement on the blog, and commenced to plan my strategy.  Let me tell you, I still remember how thoroughly I thought through all of the different scenarios and triggers and planned and plotted and made decisions about how to deal with each and every one.  By the time Quit Day rolled around, I was very well prepared.  The triggers that snuck up on me were the ones way further out -- like when football season rolled 'round again and the Packers scored their first touchdown of the season and I actually started out of my chair to go out on the back porch for my usual and customary celebratory smoke during the commercial break.  Heh.  Wow.  That was so weird.

Anyway, there was so much blog love and encouragement, it was incredible -- and, gulp, that meant there was gonna be no turning back, not with all those eyes on me from near and far!  I have fallen down on a few other things over the years, but there's not much riding on whether I finish a knitting project by a certain date or post a photo-a-day.

One bright star in the galaxy was my then strictly-blog-friend Cara.  She and Georgie went shopping and sent me a box full of quit-smoking aids -- gum, sunflower seeds, little stir straws, Dum Dums -- there was so much that I felt I needed to share and sent a portion of it back east to Ann.

Cara and Ann were then completely oblivious to each other, blog-or-otherwise.  I remember talking to Ann about celebrating at some point -- maybe at the five-year-mark -- by meeting and getting together for a weekend someplace in between Wisconsin and New York... like, maybe Ohio.

Well, as luck would have it, DH and I had an opportunity to visit New York City in June of 2005 -- just three short months into the quit -- where I was able to meet up and spend some time with not only Ann and Cara, but also with Kathleen, Nancy, Cassie, and a bunch of other bloggers, many of whom are not really blogging any longer.  It was a memorable and magical trip.  I'd only been to NYC once before and the circumstances were so different.  Now, of course, I've been there... three more times?  No four!  Three times for Rhinebeck, and another time with Katie & Maddy.

I can hardly believe it's been five years.  The first days, weeks, months were hell...  But since then?  I really can't believe, after having smoked for as long as I did, that I haven't missed it more, that I don't have more urges than I do... dare I say it? ...that it's been so easy.  I stayed far, far away from anything smoke-related for a very long time -- just removed myself from anything, -place, or -one that could lead to temptation.  It's almost like I'm indifferent now.  I was in close proximity with someone who was smoking recently and it registered, but I barely had a reaction -- it smelled neither good nor bad, didn't make me want to have one, whatever; I was a little happier when it was finally stubbed out, though.  I'll tell you my story, talk about my experiences, probably tell you more than you want to know, but I won't lecture or preach; I make my choices in any given situation, other people make their choices.

As of this morning, my QuitNet numbers:

  • Smoke-free for 1,826 days
  • 36,523 cigarettes have been saved
  • That's over 1,800 packs not purchased, saving me $6,391.00
  • I'm stayin' alive for 9 months, 8 days, and 23 hours longer
I'll admit that the "Lifetime Saved" figure was never all that impressive or encouraging, but now it's adding up, gathering momentum, and is starting to mean something.  Also, the money saved?  I doubt that's reflective of the fact that the price of cigarettes has basically doubled here since I quit, thanks to at least one -- and I think it may even be two -- hefty $1/pack cigarette tax increases in Wisconsin.  I can't imagine how I'd have kept cigarettes in my budget the past few years.

Anyway, Yay us!  We are AWESOME!!  Congratulations girls!  And thank you.

17 March 2010

Marching along

The weather has been glorious this week!  And with the light extending into the evening now, I took my camera for a walk around the yard last night.

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The sky has been beautiful both in the morning and in the evening.  I'm so anxious for buds to appear!

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I had company on my walk about!  Scamp was underfoot, too.  This was a very badly under-exposed picture of Roxie and I almost deleted it; I decided to "just see what would happen" if I tweaked the dial, and I like the result!

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There's a bunch of old brown stuff around that still needs cleaning up.

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But there's some new green stuff, too!  These are likely bloodroot shoots.

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And tulips!

* * * * *

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Happy Birthday to my one and only and very special brother!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone else! 

16 March 2010

Happy Heart

When I got my driver's license*, I was a senior in high school and my dad had a baby blue 1972 (I think) Toyota Corona**.  It didn't have a radio.  I was a senior in high school.  I needed a radio!  He wired up something salvaged and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, and it didn't sound all that great really sounded crappy, but there was crazy magic playin' on the radio, anyway...

So many great songs from my coming of age time. I loved these songs.  Still do.  GIRLS ROCK!  Magic Man, Dreamboat Annie, Kick It Out, Crazy On You, Nothin' At All, These Dreams, Straight On, If Looks Could Kill, Even It Up, Who Will You Run To...

Happy Birthday, Nancy Wilson.

*I actually practiced and took the test in an Olds Vista Cruiser wagon of the era (parallel park THIS!).
**The Corona was a great little car 'til I smushed it into a tree.  RIP.

15 March 2010

*Blink*

There went the weekend.

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I stood at the end of my street this morning and shot the beginning of this morning's beautiful sunrise and the awakening of my little town, then watched the sunrise unfold (as best I could) in my rear-view and side-view mirrors -- gorgeous layers of light and clouds.

The weekend.  First, I made sure to throw My Habu Sweater in for a soak right away on Saturday morning.  Then, I tried all morning to focus on getting started on taxes.  I've been working on getting things together and organizing, but that's way different than starting.

By the time I found the work-on-taxes groove, it was time for lunch with Sharon and my mom.  We had a nice visit at the coffee shop, and Ali made us some wonderful sandwiches (I had mine with soup!).  I declined the invitation to go to the discount mart, even though I need Q-tips at the like (on a Saturday? not my favorite place on any day of the week, but least of all on Saturday), and went home, instead, to... get in the groove and work on taxes.

I worked diligently and then took the time to pin out My Habu Sweater before springing some clocks ahead and heading to bed on Saturday night.

Ali grabbed me for a walk on Sunday afternoon.  It was so warm and sunny!  I wore gloves (which came off after a very short while) and a neckwarmer, but otherwise just a sweater.  Al has been walking every single day and I love that I can join her sometimes; Katie made it a three-some one day last week!  I haven't been getting to Zumba as much as I'd like (not always *my* fault) and I do love walking (with company), so it works out great.

My Habu Sweater is so lightweight that it was completely dry by Sunday morning.  It's pinned to my accordion-fold plastic-covered cardboard blocking board and set in such a place that DH could study it very comfortably from his chair -- and he let me know that he was fascinated and in awe that I could manipulate my stitches ("That's right, isn't it? They're stitches?" "Yes," I said, "and rows.") in such a way to make shapes like that.

I left my sweater pinned out and got right back to the task at hand.  I worked uninterrupted, except for the walk (thanks, I needed that!) and... Ta-DA!  I can hardly believe it, but I think the taxes they are done... a whole month before they need to be (and a whole month before, historically, I've ever had them done before).  I haven't filed them yet, but OMG... I can.  And I will.

We're getting a little refund and I am sorely tempted to buy some camera or lighting equipment, but I will probably do the smart (and un-fun) thing and pay some bills.  We're trying to get that under control because someone (or two, or three) is going to need to upgrade their mode of transportation before long.  It occurred to me this morning that I could use our refund to help pay for the colonoscopy that's on my to-do list, which would could be viewed as a smart thing but oh, that's really un-fun.  I've been joking about how I'm "saving up for a colonoscopy" in my Health Saving Account and finally called on Friday to see just how much I need to save.  Gulp.  And that's if it's all good; it's a crap shoot (heh) if they "find" something.  By the time I've saved enough, no doubt the price will have increased.  Yeah.  Anyway.  I've read that real change in the cost of services will only been seen when health care becomes more consumer driven.  Hi.  I'm driving, but sometimes feel lost and all alone.  I don't think we're there yet.  There's lots of room on the road!

Oops.  A little side-tracked there.  Anyway, YAY!  Taxes are done and that's a HUGE weight off my shoulders.  Ready for the next thing...

13 March 2010

Foggy

We've been living in a fog over here for an entire week.  It's finally lifting some today.  The forecast is for cloudy and windy and maybe a bit rainy for the weekend, but there's a stretch of sunshine coming and temps in the 50s.  I can't wait.

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The snow is almost gone and I am looking forward to spring!  The allium is from last year's garden -- and I kind of feel like that.  It's time to bust out a little!  Because it was pretty crappy last spring, there wasn't much new in the garden; I'm looking to dig in the dirt and plant some stuff this year!

Other than that...

I have a bunch of pots in the fire, some of them not-so-fun, but I'm trying to keep my balance.  I buckled down and made some amazing headway in the dreaded area of income taxes yesterday.  And I cast off the new and improved back of My Habu Sweater last night!  She's soaking in it, as we speak.  So exciting.

I'll buckle down and do some more in the area of income taxes or mailing list updates or email or website updates (still working on my strategy there).  And at some point I'll pin out My Habu Sweater for blocking.  That will leave the final two Olympic sweaters to be finished needing nothing but seaming and buttons; only one will remain, and that one's destined for unfinishing.

My sister Sharon is coming for the day today, so I'll be taking a break for lunch with her and Mom.  Have I mentioned that Mom's been wearing her Habu Vest every time I've seen her since I delivered it?  It was actually a trifecta the other day -- when the boys were wearing their Wonderful Wallabys, Mom was wearing her vest (and Annie was begging to borrow it) (Mom waited two years for that thing, so Annie was told she'll have to wait, too).

I'm working on coordinating a spa day/overnight get-away with my sisters.  Coming from three directions, we're planning to meet in the middle, spend an afternoon at the spa, find a nice place for dinner, and then just come-what-may and relax into the evening.  Oh, I hope we can work that out -- sooner rather than later!

I also have some photo shoots pending, waiting on improved weather, and we're almost there!  Woohoo!!

Happy weekend.

10 March 2010

Wonderful Wallaby (Random) Wednesday

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Double your pleasure, double your hand-knit fun!  I love seeing my handknits in the wild and a scene like this just makes me so very happy.  These sweaters are probably among the most worn and loved, best wearing sweaters I've ever made.  That stripy one isn't going to fit much longer.

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The "truck" sweater was commissioned by Mack.  The green and gold version started in Fibonacci sequence and ended (randomly) not in Fibonacci sequence.  These are both Wonderful Wallaby Ravelry sweaters, both knit in stash and/or randomly acquired Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. Love, love, love.

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He loves wearing it with the hood up and I love that he loves wearing the hood!

* * * * *

On Sunday night, I made Shrimp Pasta in a Foil Package a la Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  I'm rather late to the PW party and I haven't bought her cookbook (yet), but I've made a few of the recipes she's shared online and happily report that they've all been winners.  This last one?  Amazing.

I had printed the recipe a while back, one day when in the mood for shrimp.  I'm pretty sure I printed it based solely on the photo and because "package" was in the title.  I've prepared other things in "packages" of foil or parchment and they've always turned out divine.  I'm a big fan of cooking in packages.  Honestly, when I actually read the recipe, it seemed like a LOT of work and dishes for a "package" meal -- partially cooking everything stove-top and then putting it in the package/oven -- I'm used to more of a dump-and-done package cooking procedure -- so I didn't rush in.  Fool.  It was so good that I haven't been able to stop talking about it!  The ingredients are good, relatively few and, really, I can handle mincing garlic (I completely forgot about the parsley) and opening cans, washing a pasta pot and a skillet!

The recipe serves 8 and I'm going to add "plentifully."  I served three on Sunday night -- two of whom went back for very generous seconds; Rusty and I had it again on Monday night; Katie came over yesterday asking for the recipe and the three of us polished off the rest.  This will be joining my favorite lasagna recipe on the short list for company, and will be a most excellent dish to make on a weekend with an eye on work-day lunches.

* * * * *

I had a couple of very active, different, and exhausting days of work this week -- in a good way.  Out of touch more than usual, though, so I'd like to thank you all for the wonderful comments on Maddy's sweater.  I appreciate them (and you) more than you can ever know.  Thank you.

* * * * *

I have passed the half-way mark on the (re-knit) back of My Habu Sweater!

* * * * *

If I were a woman of leisure, I'd devote the day to seaming Oblique.  But I'm not.  Heh.

09 March 2010

Fitted Jacket: An Olympic FO

A week late, and not the last to cross the finish line, I did the final finishing of Maddy's sweater on Sunday morning while visiting with my sister and her boys.  (Note to self: it really helps to visit with someone while sewing on buttons!)

Presenting:  Fitted Jacket Ravelry, a pattern by Margery Winter, #2 in Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2004.  I'm the only member of Ravelry to have made it, though it's in one other queue, so perhaps I won't be lonely for long.

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I substituted "Kim" by Filtes King for the Berroco Suede called for in the pattern and I could not be happier -- I love that it's cotton, I love the construction of the yarn, I love the color, I love the fabric it makes, I love that it cost a way, way whole bunch less than the Suede (purchased quite some time ago from Elann).  I also love that I have quite a bit left over.

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The original pattern had four pocket flaps, two of them with tassels (yes, those two), and rather than a button band, there were more tassels that were used as closures (by being looped over buttons).

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I did a simple garter stitch button band and employed seven buttons.  I made the button holes too big, so had to crochet around each one to tighten it up and make it smaller (they're good and strong now).

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The only thing I wish I'd done is add a little to the length.  I love the sweater as it is, and I think it looks fantastic on her, but an extra inch or so might have been nice.

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Best of all, Maddy likes it!  Can you tell?  She likes it so much that she didn't take it back to school with her, fearing that it would not well withstand the rigors of dorm life.  Heh.

08 March 2010

Maddy's Fitted Jacket

Just a peek for now... I'll be away from my desk, the blog, and all the usual stuff today.

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Regularly scheduled shenanigans will soon return (not sure, though, whether it'll be Tuesday or Wednesday).

07 March 2010

Art walk

Rusty and I drove down to Oshkosh last night for the Gallery Walk -- specifically, because Katie and her friend and co-worker Natalie were displaying their work (they didn't make the official listing).

I look at these photos and I think, OMG, she looks like she OWNS the gallery!  So professional.

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I look at these photos and, OMG, I laugh so hard that I can't even think!!

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Yeah.  That's my girl!  There's really not much of a problem with people taking themselves TOO seriously around here.

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The space is FANTASTIC!!  Sets me dreaming...

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They sort of pulled it together at the last minute, but it went very well and attendance was amazing -- attendance should only improve as the weather does.

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She's writing her contact info on bits of torn up paper, which is good for recycling and the environment and all, but the girl's gonna need some business cards!

05 March 2010

Random Thankful

Randomly, my day off this week was Thursday rather than Wednesday.

Thankfully -- and unexpectedly, though I'd hoped -- they were able to get me in a chair at the salon yesterday!  I called at 9:30 and said, "ASAP" and they said, "How about noon?"

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Please forgive, I'm getting used to a new phone/cam.  And it's in the bathroom.  And I'm smirkling (that's typo for "smirking + a little").  I stepped over about 6" in length when I exited the chair and it feels WONDERFUL!!  It's lighter, it swings, it feels like spring.

It's beginning to feel like spring outside, too.  Temp expected in mid-40Fs today and into the next few.  I think I'll be hearing one of my favorite sounds this weekend:  snow melting, as in the constant sound of water running in the gutters and down the storm drains.

I went across the street after my haircut and met Mom at the coffee shop for lunch.  When Ali's relief came in, we all went to buy fabric for cafe curtains, though we were hard-pressed to stay on-task as bridal fabrics, magazines, and patterns proved quite distracting.  Wow.

Anyway.  Maddy will be home this weekend!  Little nephews will be visiting this weekend!!  It's going to be a great weekend!!!

03 March 2010

All kinds of awesome

The sun is beating on my back through the vertical blinds on the window behind me and it feels so wonderfully warm.  March 3rd.  Solar gain.  Northeast Wisconsin.  It's AWESOME!  Completely AWESOME!

So, I attended an all-day photography workshop on Saturday -- Dave Jackson's Breaking The Rules: Portrait Workshop.  I've been trying to write a post about it on my somewhat neglected photography blog and I'm stuck.  It's hard because the blog's been somewhat neglected, but mostly because I'm still able only to mutter approvingly about it at this point and all that actually comes out is "AWESOME!"

Dave and Trevor were AWESOME!!  The models were AWESOME!

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I broke rules and it was SO DARN AWESOME!

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 My fellow attendee photographers were EIGHT KINDS OF AWESOME!

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Dave's studio is AWESOME.  Location shooting is AWESOME.  Off-camera flash is AWESOME.  Studio lighting is AWESOME.  PocketWizards are AWESOME.  Shooting with other photogs is AWESOME.

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Seriously.  AWESOME.  I'll post more over there when I'm able to hold onto a complete thought.

* * * * *

I think I'm in a little self-made decompression bubble.  The Olympics took a lot out of me.  I'm emotional about stuff like that, anyway, but this year even more with tragedy and heart-wrenching events, the leave-it-all-on-the-ice, -on-the-track, -in-the-snow, -on-the-hill performances.  I was uber emotional.  Seventeen days of that Coke/Special Olympics commercial, the Visa/Dan Jansen commercial, the P&G/Mom commercials (especially this one) and I was still crying every time!  Thank goodness for FF on the DVR.

And the knitting!  Holy crap, people, you're right!  I did a LOT of knitting/finishing.  And it continues...  Maybe I'll have them ALL finished by the time the Paralympics are over, or when Ruth is done telling stories (great series).  Anyway, I finished Oblique's collar on Monday night; seaming and sewing on buttons remain.  I finished crocheting around all the buttonholes on Maddy's sweater last night; sewing on 4-5 buttons remains.  I continued knitting the back of My Habu Sweater, but discovered that I made some of my underarm increases at the shoulder (my inner Patti LaBelle made me do it) and that's when I went to bed -- so that's due for a little fix (just a few rows).  I can handle it.

01 March 2010

Futzin' around at the finish line

Pile of hopefuls

Even before attending Saturday's all-day photography workshop, I knew that I wouldn't meet all of my lofty finishing goals for the Knitting Olympics.

Let's take it from the top:

My Habu Sweater

At Opening Ceremonies:  I had a completely knitted back and needed to knit the two fronts before sewing up.

At Closing Ceremonies:  I had two completely knitted fronts and am reknitting the back due to gauge issues.  Yeah.  One step forward, two steps back.  Something like that.  In the long run, I'll be much happier.  As of this evening, this will be the only thing on my needles 'til it's finished.  I've already purchased the buttons!

Mom's Habu Vest

At Opening Ceremonies:  I had all of the pieces knit and a huge mental block about blocking and sewing them up.  They looked so small, I didn't think they'd ever become an adult-sized garment.

At Closing Ceremonies:  Done and delivered!  The Habu fibers are extraordinary and the finished garment is simply amazing.  It suits my mother to a T and she loves it.  Things don't get much better than that.

Fiddlehead Pullover

At Opening Ceremonies:  I had all of the pieces knit and blocked.  The sweater needed sewing up, a little bit of finish crocheting, and buttons.

At Closing Ceremonies:  Finished!  And completely fabulous.

Oblique

At Opening Ceremonies:  All of the pieces were knit and blocked.  I needed to sew them up, knit the collar, attach buttons.

At Closing Ceremonies:  Sleeves are sewn in and collar is underway.  I've had several false starts on that collar, and some difficulty determining Right from Wrong -- I'm pretty sure I'd have made it if I'd been thinking more clearly.  Three-quarters of the way, I tore it out completely and started over last night.  I'll be casting off tonight and all that will remain are side and sleeve seams and the sewing on of three buttons.  I cannot wait.  I love this thing.

Maddy's Sweater

At Opening Ceremonies:  I had all of the pieces knit.  They needed to be blocked, sewn up, collar and buttonband knit, and buttons attached.

At Closing Ceremonies:  So very, very close.  I am down to sewing on buttons.  The buttonholes turned out too big, so I'm crocheting around each one (which is killing my wrist, so slow going).  It is gorgeous and fits Maddy like a dream.  It's a cotton sweater, so perfect for spring.  So timely.

Coup d'Etat

At Opening Ceremonies:  I had a sewn up sweater in need of button band, buttons, and collar.  It was just a wee bit snug.  And a tad short.  I tried it on several times while pondering my (very few) options (at least in my mind).

At Closing Ceremonies:  The sleeves have been detached.  The rest of it needs to be pulled apart for an inevitable frogging and re-knitting.  (Yeah, it was sort of a foregone conclusion.)  It's sad, but not as sad as a too-tight, too-short finished sweater that I never wear -- and I want to wear it.  I will make it so.  Eventually.

I missed the gold medal, but I did my best and I am quite satisfied with my performance -- and momentum.  Thanks for all the encouragement along the way!!

 

He ain't heavy

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...he's my brother.  Four years ago, we wondered whether a scene like this would ever happen again -- even if we didn't speak or acknowledge such thoughts amongst (or to) ourselves, they were there.  You don't look at a 6'4" guy in an ICU hospital bed, watch the rise and fall of a respirator and listen to beeping monitors without regularly batting away such thoughts.

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He made it.  Yay Michael!!  We love ya, bro.

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