Weekending: Beer Town

I took Friday off last week and drove to Milwaukee to meet Annie (already there for a 3-day school board conference) to begin her birthday celebrations!

We were there for only one night and stayed at The Iron Horse Hotel, which was terrific. The lobby was so warm and welcoming (as was the welcoming beverage), and I've never felt more comfortable taking a seat and settling in for a chat. Our room was roomy, well appointed, quiet, and very comfy.

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We began celebrations with a late lunch and 4:00 tour at Lakefront Brewery. It was my first-ever brewery tour and feel fortunate that we had Brewery President Russ Klisch as our guide! That's Russ, above, at the controls of the old "Schotz Brewery" bottling machine; I got to be Laverne and wave good-bye to my glove as it made its way along the conveyor.

The brewery is currently located in a building that once housed City of Milwaukee Forestry*.

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There was a stop at "The Chalet" mid-way through the tour -- one of the original Bernie Brewer chalets from Milwaukee County Stadium.

We got together later with friends Bill & Aimee for drinks and shared-plates dinner at Odd Duck, and had a wonderful time! I had my first experiences with Uber and... they're super quick and friendly, but I had issues with the level of "air freshener" in both vehicles (man, that stuff can be nasty).

We had a nice breakfast on Saturday morning at Smyth, the restaurant within the hotel, and explored our options for doing something on our way out of town.

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We decided on touring the Pabst Mansion. It is really quite lovely and we had a terrific docent. The house is in various stages of restoration and it was interesting to see where they started. No photography is allowed inside, and Annie and I were apparently quite taken with these columns outside the Pabst Pavilion, originally part of the White City, now attached to the house (and on the slate for restoration).

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We stopped at Simma's Bakery for birthday cheesecake on the way back. Ann's husband & boys met up with us at my house where we made a nice dinner, with singing and blowing out of candles and the whole birthday she-bang. They came over again for brunch on Sunday and some play time with Junah before heading home. (I have a feeling Junah will soon have his own light saber).

It was a really great weekend, and I hope yours was too!

*Sharon worked for Forestry in that building at one time... along with Bill & Aimee!


Observation

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"Sew," he said, as he climbed up on the chair by my sewing machine.

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That was after he'd already dragged a chair over to the sink to help Grandpa with the dishes!

We also did the second load of "wash" (at his request) in as many visits. He loves to push the buttons on the washer and helps transfer clothes from washer to dryer. It's so funny how he tosses/throws them in... obviously Ali & I have similar technique! Hilariously, he carried the laundry basket with clothes from the dryer into the living room (it wasn't FULL), but that's where the modeling of behavior ends -- unless they do laundry altogether differently at his house. Contents of the basket started flying, and there may have been underwear worn as a hat. Heheh.

This little boy...

  • He loves looking at a box of photos I have; he says, "Baby!" and, of course, the baby is him! Then he sees one of our selfies, and says, "Nona."
  • If I don't respond quickly enough when he calls, he's begun to shout, "NONA!!" And sometimes his little hand, with index finger extended, is wagging at the wrist as he points out and communicates his desire.
  • There's a new little gallop-y skip in his walk when he's excited.
  • Photos on the fridge are endlessly fascinating. He says, "Mock," and once in a very rare while he'll say "Addy," but those sounds -- Maddy, Daddy, Addy -- are still getting worked out. He calls his daddy "D."
  • The energy! He runs and spins and jumps.
  • The humor! He was born into the right family.  :)

31 Years!

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Happy 31st Anniversary to Rusty & me!

We won't be celebrating together in Mexico, as we did last year, but we will be going out to dinner this evening, and plans have been made for some upcoming travel. More on that and bunch of other stuff to come!


Weekending: Breathing Room

It was a low-key, relaxed weekend and that's OKAY by me! It's been a while and, boy, I needed that.

To set the tone, Rusty & Katie both had art events to attend on Friday, so that meant a quiet evening at home alone for me... I knit and caught up on some Tivo'd programs.

Ali came over for a while on Saturday morning to go over some bookkeeping stuff. Rod & Junah swung by to pick her up and head off on some errands. She called me from the driveway, and told me that all Junah was saying was, "Nona, Nona, Nona..." Could he stay while they did their thing? Well, of course!

We have definitely turned a corner! A month ago, Junah would still have a hard time more often than not when he was dropped off. Now, he can barely get his jacket off quick enough and is nearly oblivious to his exiting parent... and HE DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE! Makes a granny feel good.

Ali was over for a little while again on Sunday morning, working with Kate on a new website. While they did their thing, I finally started to clean up my work space -- big table, sewing table, stuff on the floor. I realized that actually finishing one of the projects on my worktable would go a long way in helping the cause, so I worked on -- and finished -- my first Stowe Bag!

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It had been idle for weeks, needing only bias tape to bind the handle edges and finishing. I was going to be clever and use some vintage bias tape that I'd picked up somewhere, but discovered that it was LAWN, and definitely not sturdy enough to bind the handles of a work bag! I had to pick up some sturdier stuff, and then Christmas, and then New Year's, and then a baby birthday...

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This is the small size. I used some sturdy woven fabric that I've had for a while (the original purpose for which is long lost) (I'm sure there was one). The Stowe Bag is probably the most structured thing I've ever sewn, and maybe only the second time I've ever worked with bias tape. The construction is interesting, and I love the interior pockets!! It's the perfect size for a knitting tote. I think the large size would be perfect for toting a sewing project.

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The weekend knitting was all Scoreboard KAL. I am now on Week 15... and I am going to run out of green yarn before the end of Regular Season. I don't have another skein of that yarn! Ack. What to do? I don't want to just end in the of the game, this close to the end; that would always bug me. On one hand, I dyed that yarn myself... though I'm nearly certain that I have no record of what I did. On the other hand, it really is the perfect Packer green and I should figure it out! (Also the gold.) It's about time the dye pot was dusted off, anyway, eh?


Two!!

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Can you believe this little guy is TWO today??

Happy Birthday Junebean!!

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Family & friends got together at the bowling alley for a little birthday celebration on Sunday. Did you know that lanes these days have programmable "bumpers" that go up and down automatically depending on each particular bowler's preference? Also, there are little ramps to use if a bowler is unable to lift and swing a ball? Just aim and send the ball on its way!

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Junah enjoyed watching other bowlers, and was really interested in bowling himself for about 5 or 6 frames (he was playing a game -- WINNING -- with Mack &  Addy), but with no real concept of the game he was, of course, soon distracted by other things... going up & down the stairs, eating cake, opening presents, and watching the ball return!!

***

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite David Bowie Songs

Bowie Is

While I would never be described as a big "fan" of David Bowie, I was certainly always interested and aware! I was shocked and saddened yesterday to read of his death. There's absolutely no denying that he was an amazing creative influence in the world and that the world just wouldn't be the same without him. It was a little over a year since Katie & I saw the DAVID BOWIE IS exhibition in Chicago, and I'm so glad we did.

In lieu of my 10 favorite songs, I share David Bowie's 10 Biggest Hits -- some great videos there, as well as "5 Things You Might Not Know About David Bowie"! RIP.


Right Now: January

Knitting: Scoreboard KAL continues! I fell behind -- the second half of the season being not as exciting (fewer wins) as the first -- and just started Week 13 last night, which is a total of 50 rows. There's another 176 regular-season points/rows to knit after that, along with a dozen or so divider rows between games. I'm not sure about knitting post season yet. I will power through and finish this, though, because it will be one of the most awesome additions to my game-day wardrobe ever!

I'm also still working on an alpaca bunny for Junie; I've stalled at the head -- sewing up & embroidering features (the make it or break it part).

Sewing: Grainline Studio's STOWE Bag. Also need to finish sewing the Alabama Chanin Long Vest; beading & finishing an AC Corset that has been languishing; and also finish the binding on an AC-inspired T-shirt refashion.

Reading: The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry, my book from Sandy during last month's 1st Annual Book & Chocolate Exchange.

Watching: River on Netflix.

Hoping/Anticipating/Dreading (rinse & repeat): First workouts next week with a personal trainer.

Thinking about: How much better I'll feel... after I first will likely feel worse.

Planning: Another quick o'night birthday celebration coming up in a couple of weeks in Milwaukee, this time with Annie!

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Celebrating: Junah's 2nd birthday on the 12th (I can hardly believe it); party this weekend! When I told Annie about it, she wrote, "Mack says there's no way he's missing that!!!" So the boys will be here, too.

Remembering: Mum -- her birthday is at the end of the month, she'd be 78.

Wishing: I didn't have to remember.

Eating: A lot of Mexican food lately!

Drinking: Margaritas from scratch!

Itching to: Get back to my sewing projects, but first...

Needing to: Get my workroom cleaned up! (Time and energy have been hit and miss lately.)

Organizing: EOY and tax stuff.

Wondering: When if I'll get the tree down this weekend.

Happy Weekend!


Ten on Tuesday: More or Less

Ten on Tuesday:  5 Things I Want to Do More & 5 Things I'd Like to Do Less in 2016

A slightly different take on the ubiquitous New Year's Resolution!

MORE

1 - Reading (especially audio books)

2 - Bicycling/Moving

3 - Cooking

4 - Dyeing (both fabric & yarn)

5 - Photography

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LESS

1 - Procrastinating

2 - Buying patterns/yarn/fabric on a whim/sale and/or without immediate plans

3 - Eating (especially junk)

4 - Eating out

5 - Wasting Food (we need to better coordinate our cooking & consumption)

 

Well, it was way easier to come up with 5 Things I'd Like To Do More than Less, which I found sort of surprising for some reason.

Are there some adjustments you're making or hoping to make in the new year?


Weekending: Happy New Year

In addition to (or, as a set-up for) BEGIN AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON, I spent some time cleaning things up at the end of the year. One of those things was KonMari-ing my Bloglovin' feed. First, I hit "Mark All As Read," and then went through one-by-one to determine the level of JOY with each. It made me a little sad to "Unfollow" some of my favorite feeds from the old days, but after years of nothing new... it was time to realize that they are not coming back and give it up. There is no joy in a dead blog.

I spent New Year's Day morning photographing a newborn (part one), which was fun, and I believe my first-ever baby girl!! Part two of her shoot will be coming up on Wednesday. I photographed her big brother as a newborn; he turned four last fall (time flies)!

After that, Rusty & I met at Home Depot to choose and purchase a water filtration system. We live in an area with extremely hard water and a softener is an absolute necessity; unfortunately, the softened water doesn't taste that great. We've always had a "hard water" faucet to use for drinking, coffee, tea, cooking and it tastes better but isn't all that great, either, and the mineral deposits are crazy! We've been lugging gallon jugs of filtered water from the grocery store for a couple of years, now, and the coffeemaker makes it easy to measure the difference it makes. When using hard water from the tap, deposits would build up, slow the drip, and every couple of months we'd have to run a few cycles with a vinegar-water solution to get things flowing again. Since using filtered water from the store... I can't even remember the last time we had to do that!

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Of course, the water filtration project required cleaning out under the sink to make room for new equipment. In addition to some cleaning supplies, we've always kept unused vases under there; one category that could easily be thinned out and stored elsewhere. I had just the spot in a nearby under-used cabinet that, naturally, also required cleaning out! That cabinet holds extra/holiday linens, our greeting card collection, a few craft supplies, and some old yearbooks (GAH!). The cards, especially, needed organizing and cleaning out, and I reduced that by at least a half (WHY so many card-less envelopes???). I also found my stash of "Busting-Out" newspaper/mags! Closing in on 40 years, it was just one way that my best friend and cohort helped me ("earth-tone girl") grow & get out of my shell back in the day. She was the spearhead, I did some writing. It was mostly local stuff, but there were also record & book reviews, and we did a few celebrity phone interviews, including one with a young and hot (still, IMHO) Don Johnson. What a blast we had!

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Plumbing-related projects are dead-last on Rusty's list of "favorite" things to do, but it went pretty smoothly (only three trips to the hardware store) (one of which could have been avoided). He ended up first having to replace the entire floor of the under-sink cabinet, so it took two days altogether (and I'm glad he didn't rush). Doesn't it look spiffy?

I'm so happy that there will be no more hauling water from the store, that we won't have to store gallons at a time, that we won't have to haul empty jugs back for refilling every week, and that there won't be a big water dispenser taking up space on the counter.

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Junah was over for a few hours on Friday afternoon. OMG, that kid! The words are tumbling... you can practically see and hear the synapses snapping! Can you believe he's going to be TWO next week??

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I found these gloves for him the other day -- he loves getting each finger in the appropriate place -- and these, in particular, were a big hit:

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"Tried these gloves on when we got home at 3:45. Haven't taken them off since (we even took a nap.)"

They finally came off when he was trying to peel a banana!

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I'd intended to start another pair of Trip Mitts over the New Year weekend, but did not; in fact, except for game-time knitting on my Scoreboard KAL last night (I'm still on Week 11... of 17), I didn't do any knitting. Or sewing. My arm needed a rest, I think. I also need some "smooth" yarn for working provisional cast on -- what's your favorite? I'm never using the right thing.

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Katie gave me a nice slate cheese plate for Christmas, along with a book about cheese and beer pairing, so we've been tasting! I love the little arrow cheese markers!

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Opening a carton of eggs the other day to make quiche, I was delighted by all the subtle differences in "brown eggs."

I spent some time with family. I did some photography. There was some home improvement; cleaning, organizing, laundry. I balanced checkbooks. I shopped and cooked. I took it easy, did things as they needed to be done, and didn't stress out.

How about you? How'd you start the new year?


Best

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<hashtag> 2015bestnine -- my 9 "best" (most liked) photos from 2015 on Instagram. Knitting, Sewing, Slow Fashion, Family, Travel. I expect similar for 2016... but I guess we'll just have to see!

Happy New Year!!


FO: A March Through Time Mystery Cowl

I'm not exactly sure where I ran across it, but on a bit of a whim at the end of October, I joined The Healthy Knitter's "A March Through Time" Knit-along and Walk-along, with clues released weekly Nov. 2-Dec. 7.

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The pattern had a musical theme throughout, with theme and inspiration for the five separate sections derived from the seasons; specifically, Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons."

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Interlude: The "snow" begins to fall.

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Adagio: The stillness, calm, and solitude of winter... "bare branches."

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Allegretto: New growth is everywhere with "sweet flowers."

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Presto: The bountiful summer... complete with "berries."

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Adantino: A final hurrah as the earth begins to show signs of slowing... "falling leaves."

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Cheater: Three-needle bind off instead of kitchenering the ends together.

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Not a cheater: I walked nearly everyday while knitting the project, totaling over 30 miles in November! I haven't done as well in December, since the tangle with Joe's dog and falling, and with that little thing called Christmas... so many get-togethers and parties, etc. But that will all soon change.

I truly love the finished cowl and have been wearing it A LOT... like, almost everyday-a-lot!!


Ten on Tuesday: Proud Vicki (keep on burnin')

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Did in 2015 That Make Me Feel Proud

Did this year go by fast, or what?!

1 - Got out of my English-speaking comfort zone and traveled to Mexico to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary!

2 - Helped my daughters with their various creative, adventure, and business ventures.

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3 - I did more sewing this year than I've done in the last 30 years combined, and a good deal of it by hand! Endless Summer Tunic Dress, Upcycled T-shirt to Tunic, Catamount Tunic Dress, Bolero, Stenciled & Upcycled Wrap Skirt, a simple A-Line Dress, a few rompers for Junah, quilting w/Ali.

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4 - I also tried indigo dyeing for the first time.

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5 - And incorporated indigo dyeing as part of the first and very successful Auntie Camp. It will likely be an annual event! (And, if the boys have anything to say about it, even semi-annual.)

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6 - I taught my nephews to knit during Auntie Camp, as well!

7 - Learned to make kombucha at Fermentation Fest!

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8 - Participated in -- and finished -- a few knit-alongs: The Healthy Knitter's Mystery Knit-/Walk-Along (FO finished above, detailed post tomorrow), Romi's "Moon Shadows" 2015 Mystery Shawl, and Kirsten's "Liz Christy" 2015 TTL Mystery Shawl.

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I was tickled to open my Book & Chocolate Exchange package from Sandy, which included a book for my grandson from her grandchildren! And Sweet Sloops! I've been on a Michael Perry bender, having recently finished Coop and currently reading Visiting Tom; The Jesus Cow will be next!

9 - I also participated in another year of Macro May and NaBloPoMoKim's Traveling Scarf project; Slow Fashion October; and the 1st Annual Book & Chocolate Exchange organized by Susan! I would/will participate in any/all of those things again next year!! So much fun.

10 - I possibly made a new Christmas Eve tradition when I made my first whole tenderloin! It was just Katie, Maddy, Rusty and I for Christmas Eve and I wanted to make something special. I nearly fainted at the butcher case when I priced 4-5 lbs, as called for in my recipe, but then realized that my recipe was to serve 8-10. Whew! Still, no small expense there, but so worth it. The girls and I had fun cooking together -- braised kale, roasted potato stacks, and sauteed mushrooms were accompaniments -- and Rusty insisted that we cut into one of the pies he'd made for our Christmas Day gathering! We even whipped the cream.

Here's to new adventures and accomplishments in 2016!


Shutterbug's birthday

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My grandmothers. Grandma Koenig (1908-1966), left, and Grandma Blum (1912-2010), right.

Grandma Blum's 103rd birthday is TODAY.

The photo above was taken at my parents' wedding in June 1958. Until today, I always thought that Grandma Blum was holding a small purse, but now I see that it's actually a camera!

She always had a camera in her hand, or, if not in-hand definitely close by. One of her parents -- I don't know which, it could have been either or both -- also loved taking family snapshots. I am forever grateful for the family shutterbugs, having spent countless blissful hours as a teen poring over all their old photo albums!

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Grandma Blum and me on her 70th birthday, Dec. 24th, 1982. Camera in-hand. I remember she told me that she still felt 18 inside -- there was so much she wanted to do and explore!

Edited To Add: I was so excited about this tie-in for Grandma's birthday post... that I forgot to post it!

AncestryDNA

Rusty & I both spent a minute or two spitting our saliva into vials to send off to Ancestry DNA! It's our Christmas present to ourselves and also to our kids, I guess; my Uncle Jim mentioned genealogy-related DNA testing when we saw him in October and got my wheels turning. Grandma Blum dedicated her memoir to me, her "genealogist granddaughter," and she'd have loved it! We thought we'd get them in the mail before Christmas and avoid the rush. Stay tuned!


FO: TTL Mystery Shawl 2015

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Once again, a project that's been finished for an embarrassingly long time save for the weaving in of ends and blocking.

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I didn't pin this out, either; I simply washed it and artfully draped it to shape over my wooden drying rack.

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There is no time right now for any more than that!

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Also, I couldn't find my Block 'n Roll mat! (My workroom is approaching Code Red, and I'm looking forward to the reclamation project in there.)

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It's very big, and would be even bigger had I really given that mesh a stretch. I love how these two colorways play together!


Ten on Tuesday: In the after-holiday glow

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Look Forward To Doing After the Holiday Rush

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1 - Reclamation project in my work room... it's an unmitigated disaster, and the tide keeps rolling!

2 - Finish a few sewing projects

3 - Stencil some fabric

4 - Start a few sewing projects

5 - KonMari my yarn stash, and maybe Spark Joy!

6 - Finish some knitting projects (or decide not to, but MAKE A DECISION!)

7 - Put my feet up

8 - Maybe get my knee looked at (it doesn't hurt unless I kneel or apply pressure -- and then, OW -- but there's a lot of fluid)

9 - Plan a vacation and/or get-away

10 - Take a little time off of work (to do all of the above!)


Weekending: Ding Dong Merrily On High

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This is my only photo from our afternoon of baking... mainly because my phone was otherwise occupied playing music!

I had three recipes on my list this year. Two were tried-and-true from last year: Ina Garten's Ultimate Ginger Cookie and Granny Wallace's Shortbread Cookies. The third was new: Dark Chocolate and Guinness Cookies.

I wasn't quite on my game, it seems, because there were little problems with each one! The ginger cookies were slightly overbaked and not as soft as desired (still delicious, though, and still a favorite). The shortbread cookie dough never came together, so no shortbread cookies at all! I saved the crumbles, though, and will try to make something out of it... I'm thinking along the lines of a crust. We'll see. I had printed the same chocolate cookie recipe as linked above but apparently a slightly different version -- that didn't indicate the quantity, so I was a little blind in that respect. The bigger problem, though, was that I made a triple batch in the big Hobart mixer at the kitchen and forgot to scrape the bowl mid-way through mixing. After scooping and filling three or four trays with cookies, I began to see that there was a lot of butter/sugar stuck at the bottom of the bowl. So the last tray or two were pretty ugly -- very buttery and gross (but also very delicious!).

There were enough "good" cookies to fill my gift bags, so I'm okay with it. I wasn't the only one with problems -- hard caramels (the candy thermometer broke), spritz cookies that refused to spritz! It was about more than cookies, though, and was a fun day. And exhausting.

The kitchen is about an hour from my sister's house, and the boys drove up with us. We hardly saw them all afternoon, they were so busy shooting buckets and playing in the adjoining gym! It was fun to chat with them in the car, but best of all was the personal on-demand Christmas concert! "Stille Nacht," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and "Ding Dong Merrily On High" with that lovely (and sometimes hilariously) drawn-out "gloria" -- in a perfect "boy choir" voice and sweet vibrato.

How did your prep go on the last weekend before Christmas?!


Prep for Baking Day

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I'm making my spreadsheet/shopping list, checking it twice, packing up my basket of ingredients, shopping for what I need, and loading it all up in the car to head up north for tomorrow's Baking Day with Annie! I've kept a couple of recipes from last year, added a new one, and jettisoned a couple of others. Can't wait!!


Cheese!

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The person who looks best in this photo -- and shines -- is the person who least liked this sort of thing. She would try to make her escape before the subject of a family photo came up, or, alternatively, storm out in a huff (hollering and likely tears) and the photo session would then be over. Ha! I seem to recall that happening when the photo above was taken, Christmas 1983. She looks so sweet, doesn't she?

I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that you've been gone 5 years. I miss you, bitch... I mean Sharon!

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I've been playing Words With Friends with Annie and the other day I started a board with the word WHORE. Annie immediately sent me a message and said that she felt like she was playing with Sharon! Sharon's phone calls with sisters always began with a little exchange of name calling, along the lines of (and riffing on) SNL's "Jane, you ignorant slut..." It was hilarious (to us), and we're obviously still easily humored (and still immature).


Ten on Tuesday: Grocer gifts

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Gifts You Can Pick Up at the Grocery Store

This is a great topic and at first I wasn't sure I'd come up with 10 desirable items that one could pick up at the grocery store (never really thought about it before), but it's been a great exercise. There's something for everyone, a grocery store in almost every town, and never an excuse to arrive anyplace empty handed!

1 - I don't know about your grocery store, but every single one of mine has a little end-cap with Green Bay Packer, Wisconsin Badger, and local high school sports team paraphernalia. Everything from stickers, magnets and window clings to flags, hats, gloves, bottle openers, glasses (both to wear and to drink from), and more.

2 - Paperback books and/or Collector Edition magazines -- sometimes a selection of hardcover books, especially at this time of year.

3 - Wine or Beer. There's a pretty good selection of basic wines, and the beer selection seems to be always expanding; included are varieties from local wineries and breweries.

4 - Booze. Ditto, with local distilleries. Not every grocery store carries wine, beer and liquor, but the bigger ones certainly do (gas stations, too... gas station gifts... perhaps a topic for another Tuesday!).

5 - Fresh Fruit Basket.

6 - Meat, Cheese & Cracker/Bread Basket or Tray.

7 - Candy -- our store usually has a selection of handmade candy canes and boxed specialty chocolates from a very good local confectionery.

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8 - Flowers or Plant -- or some seasonal gifty thing from that department (such as an ornament).

9 - Gift Certificate/Card -- either for the grocery store, or from another store (you can buy all kinds of them).

10 - Ingredients for all manner of "make your own" gift baskets: Everything one would need to make brownies or cookies, let's say, or a spaghetti dinner -- they could even be presented in a suitable baking pan, bowl or colander also available for purchase at the grocery store.


Weekending

Another weekend goes by and the living room still needs dusting.

A few weeks ago I cut out two Alabama Chanin A-Line Dresses. At first, they were going to be one two-layer dress, then I decided that I wanted a dress and a vest, so proceeded to baste the armhole & neckline edges of each, and even began a little sewing on the vest.

What I really wanted first, though, was the dress. I wanted to layer it under my Catamount A-Line Tunic-Dress... and I wanted to wear it to an event on Saturday night! For the millionth time, I wondered whether I could/should commit sacrilege and sew it up by machine and was once again sliding towards not when I read my daily Alabama Chanin inspirational email, saw some of their machine-made ready-to-wear, and thought WHY THE HELL NOT?!! For the most part, I intend this to have something layered over it... no one is going to care about my running stitch or how I felled my seams... and just never mind that it's my project, my fabric, my party.

So I did it, and quick... I started at about 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and we were walking out the door just before 5. The armholes and neckline are self-faced, the seams unfelled, and the hem unfinished... all apt to be revisited/worked on/finished at any time! But for now, it was a go.

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Ever since I read a comment in a thread on Ravelry about the proportion of my tunic-dress, I've questioned the length and my decision to chop it where I did. I love layering, though, and Langenlook (to a degree), so a dress-length layer to wear underneath as a styling option was one way for me to "fix" it, while also adding another basic piece to my wardrobe. And for winter wear (such as it is), the added layer and length are nice. I wore it with a cropped cardi, tights, and ankle boots. (I really need to do something about my mirror!)

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It's been the party dress of the season! I've one more for-sure holiday gathering this week on Wednesday.

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Saturday night was the ARTiculture End-of-Season Event and CSA share pick up at The Draw, with catering by Seven - Boutique Catering.

The venue was The Draw, recently finished, newly opened and pretty spectacular considering that it's "the little white building" that stood for years unoccupied and in disrepair while ever so intriguing and daydream-inducing (I'm guilty!). It's located right on the river and used to be part of a large paper mill. When the greater mill was razed (housing development now in its place), so too was the power source for this structure -- sort of a big hurdle to occupancy.

The food! Janel at Seven - Boutique Catering presented a lovely assortment of finger foods: tiny stuffed brussels sprouts, a variety of roasted fingerling potatoes (some were even hasselback), a butternut squash torte, and sweets.

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Included in our CSA share was a new -- THE BEST EVER -- knitting needle holder! Artist Melissa Siewert's modern take on vintage head vases is one of my favorites, and I think I want to eventually add one or two more! I'm thrilled with every piece of original local art we received in our ARTiculture CSA package (shares are still available!).

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No stranger to head vases here at knitorious, that little lovely in the background with the gigantic cactus hat was my first and long-time avatar here. It's only natural! I love that the new one can wear earrings, too. It's the perfect place for Bijouterie!


Year In Review: 2015

It's that time again!

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

January 2015:

A quick run with Ali to pick up a vintage Formica set for the shop.

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February 2015:

I'll be doing it all week.

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March 2015:

I was looking forward to a quiet weekend at home, but my li'l sister called and she missed me!

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April 2015:

Watching... Law & Order UK

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May 2015:

I made a point to take and label (with the date) and post a photo to Instagram everyday last month.

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June 2015:

None of us ever tired of the vacations at the lake.

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July 2015:

Anticipating... the Friday opening of HERE AND AWAY at The ARTGarage in Green Bay, a photography show curated by Kate and presented by Young Space.

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August 2015:

In the 1940s (the World War II years) the demand for butter tubs and cheese boxes kept the Blum factories very busy.

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September 2015:

The boss is on vacation and I'm working everyday this week... long days.

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October 2015:

Humored by... that kid! He started pressing the button and...

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November 2015:

By now, Daylight Savings Time has ended and most clocks in the U.S. have fallen back an hour.

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December 2015:

1 - Pardon the repetition, but I walked 32 miles in November!

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Note to self: Do more photo collages -- choosing only one photo for some of these months is pretty much impossible!


Tree trimming

I bought a new ornament for the tree this year:

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I've had a football-related ornament on my tree for the past few years, but it was a Patriots' ornament from a swap with {Minestrone Soup} Kate! I was a little distracted (see below) during the tree-trimming this year and my Kate said that she left some ornaments off the tree, and I suspect that the Patriots didn't make the cut this year!

So Junie came over for a while last night and this was the state of things for about the first hour (there's a bit of a fat lip... can you tell? Those lips!):

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Kate suggested I do a timeline of photos such as the above... I do have a few!

Then, upon waking, he was a little cling-on for about the next hour. We had some Cheerios (he knows right where they are -- opened the cupboard and grabbed the box himself).

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And played Cheerio games with Aunt Kate.

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And then trimmed the tree!

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Only one small (insignificant) ornament was lost in the process. I suspect that this will be an even more fun activity next year, though with the added challenges of a 7-month-old in the mix... though likely the baby won't be mobile yet. Whew.


Oh, hello Sharon!

Folding laundry this morning, I was missing a sock.

Oh, well, it'll turn up... maybe it fell on the floor or I left it in the basket. Not worried. (It's a sock.)

Driving along in my car this afternoon on the way to the grocery store, I tucked my hand under my leg and... What is that? Did I sit on something? What is so lumpy and soft?

And then I realized that it was the missing sock, stuck in the leg of my jeans.

And I laughed out loud, remembering the story Sharon would tell -- in the way that only she could tell it -- about a pair of underwear slipping out the leg of her pants as she walked into a gas station, and how she discreetly bent down to pick them up, stuffing them in her pocket. You know, as one discreetly does. Heh.

Oh, hello Sharon!! I miss you and am thinking of you a lot today... a Wednesday... that's the day that Mom and I had a standing date to drive down and visit with you. I miss Mom, too. xoxo

I'd already gone to the coffee shop and running a few other errands this morning with a weird sock lump on my leg!

There's no way I could go into the grocery store now, though, knowing that it was there... surely everyone else would know! It would be written all over my face! Heh.

So I parked the car and looked around, discreetly unzipping my jeans (as one does) in the parking lot at the grocery store, and reached in to retrieve the stray. Ha! It was easier than I thought it would be with somewhat skinny jeans on, and I zipped up quick!


Weekending

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I drove to Waupaca on Saturday to pick up a store display fixture and, by then, was 2/3 of the way to visit Maddy. She happened to have a break in her day, so I met up with her at work -- enjoyed an on-tap Point Root Beer in a frosty glass while I waited -- and she took me out to lunch!

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They were decorated to the hilt at Sentry World! I loved this tree inside the restaurant, PJ's, adorned almost entirely in knits!

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After a slow start and a very relaxed morning on Sunday (reading the paper, even), I went to the shop in the early afternoon to rearrange some displays.

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I finally sat down with some mending on Sunday afternoon. I've been walking around with a badly torn seam in my coat for who knows how long (and it was worse than I thought), and also fixed and reinforced the bottom zipper area that was coming apart on one side. I moved some buttons around on another jacket after one broke a while back. The buttons look vintage and I doubt they're original... there's no way I'm going to find a match, so I just relocated the rarely used bottom one.

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We hauled our own tree up from the basement! There are some strings (half-strings) not working -- though as I fluffed the branches, some were magically illuminated! I made sure all the plug connections were secure. Still, I balled up one non-working half and stuffed it in the middle of the tree. (Yes, I did.) I remembered that I'd picked up two add'l strings last week and I suppose I'll put them on (at least one of them) to fill out the middle area. And perhaps I'll psyche myself up for a complete re-do next year. It's been a while. It's just... darn, that job takes a whole day and a sacrificial pair of leather gloves.

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All weekend, we munched on Jordan Almonds (a yummy little present from Margene!) (we love that they're from the Salt Lake Film Society!) and local chocolates that were part of a gift from Friday night's Christmas party.

Oh, and another movie! We saw SPOTLIGHT on Saturday night and, while one doesn't exactly "enjoy" a movie with that type of subject matter, it was very well done.


Right Now: December

Watching: Well, last night it was FOOTBALL... they're calling it the Miracle in Motown. And it was. I've also begun watching Madame Secretary (S1 on Netflix).

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Reading: COOP by Michael Perry. I've had this book since it was hot off the press and Michael signed it for me (and posed with Flat Stanley) during an appearance at our local book festival. I guess it needed to cool off. I've read TRUCK in the meantime, and next will likely pluck VISITING TOM from the stack. I am loving it, of course; I enjoy his writing.

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Knitting: As of last night, I'm ready for the last section/finish of the March Through Time KAL. I've enjoyed knitting this project and I'm looking forward to wearing it.

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I also finished a hat last night (except for some weaving in) and cast on another, the second of four that I intend to knit for Christmas gifts. I'll be using the same pattern for all, but each in a different yarn(s). Super bulky yarn! Oh, these colors...

Listening to: 25 by Adele. Hello, of course, but I definitely have some other favorites.

Thinking about: Going somewhere. I think Mexico/Cali is out because of logistics. A few days in Chicago with the girls is likely in. But I want to GOOOO SOMEWHERE!

Dreading: Choosing not to feel dreadful about anything right now.

Planning: The holiday festivities, the last of the shopping, baking.

Celebrating: With my coworkers tonight at a company party!

Drinking: Coffee, tea, London Fog (Earl Grey) latte, gin, beer, kombucha, water.

Itching to: Get back to sewing!

Needing to: Get my tree up!

Organizing: My gift list.

How about YOU?  What's up with you?


Wednesday To-Do

We woke up this morning to find a little dusting of snow.

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It's all but gone even now. The temp will be inching up the rest of the week toward almost 50F by Saturday! #crazyweather

Today:

  • Pick up some pre-sale items at Macy's
  • Pick up some other stuff at Macy's
  • Pick up some other stuff elsewhere (if I said, well, there'd be no surprises...)
  • Buy some ingredients for holiday baking
  • Do a little knitting
  • Maybe a little sewing
  • Watch Junie for a while this evening (that will be a more regular feature again around here) (YAY!)

I'd best get to it.


Ten on Tuesday: November's Best

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Best Things I Did in November

1 - Pardon the repetition, but I walked 32 miles in November!

2 - I made an amazing Leek Pie.

3 - I attended my first Packer game with Maddy.

4 - I washed the kitchen windows (exterior only... highlighting the need for interior work).

5 - I made kombucha! I've a couple batches under my belt. Learning.

6 - I had a birthday and had a great time in Milwaukee with my sisters. No cake, no candles, no singing.

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7 - I saw some movies (Spectre, The Martian, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2)

8 - I did some geocaching.

9 - I finished a knitting project (Tsuwano).

10 - I posted every day in November for NaBloPoMo!

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Psst. I am doing myself no favors by telling you this, but I can't help myself. Have you entered this: Giveaway Deluxe: Alabama Chanin Kits at Mason-Dixon Knitting?


Clean up

Today's the last day of November! Somehow, I was surprised by that realization today.

It's the end of NaBloPoMo! It was a busy month with a little bit of traveling, a birthday, some knitting & sewing, cooking, football, a holiday, walking -- all with some overlap and intermingling of family -- and I wrote about most; posted something everyday, at least.

And now the holiday season is upon us! I am feeling ever so slightly less Grinch-y/Scrooge-y than in recent years. I did a little bit of shopping over the weekend (admittedly, very little of it was of "gift" variety) and even a little (a very, very little) decorating.

I'm looking forward to a knitting group party tomorrow and a company party on Friday. That'll help with mood.

I'm looking forward to picking up our share from ARTiculture -- the first-ever-around-here art CSA -- in a couple of weeks. No doubt I'll find a few gifts to give within.

And I'm really looking forward to another Saturday with my sister in a few weeks, baking in the commercial kitchen. I'll be using some tried-and-true recipes from last year.

Surprisingly, I've kept right up with the March Through Time KAL -- usually finishing a day or so before release of the each clue. The final clue will be released in a week and, if my M.O. continues, I'll have a finished cowl in about two! I've had Tsuwano 'round my neck almost constantly since finishing, so another long cowl in the rotation will be welcome. Or it might become a gift!

I've enjoyed the walk-along part of that project and the extra motivation to move. I love keeping track of my activity and routes with the Map My Walk app, and have walked 32 miles since starting 4 weeks ago! A little back strain this morning has me hobbled and I won't be out there this evening. I had a back twinge after I tangled with Gus a week ago, and think this was probably inevitable. But 32 miles this month!

Christina, from The Healthy Knitter Blog and designer of the March Through Time KAL/WAL is beginning a Peace-Along tomorrow, which some might find helpful at this time of year.

Here we go! Next thing you know, it'll be a new year.


Nature

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I gave myself a little break from walking on Thursday & Friday. My knees & leg are doing okay, but it's apparent that those bruises are deep... I just felt like I needed a rest. "Thanksgiving" is a pretty good workout, period.

After doing a little shopping/running around both yesterday & today, I immediately set out for a walk upon returning home. Do not pass GO, do not take of your shoes, just bundle up and get out there!!

Kate came with me today and we did a combo of sidewalks, overgrown footpath, and gravel biking/walking path (an old railroad bed). It was a lovely time of day!

 


Parcheesi is Five

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Five years ago today, I bound off the last stitch to finish one of my most epic knitting project: PARCHEESI.

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And it is definitely one of my favorites. There's a lot of love, laughter, and tears knit into those stitches, as my sister was moving through her last months while I was knitting.

It makes me happy to see it at the end of my bed, to pull it over me when I'm taking a nap, to fold it and wear it shawl-like around my shoulders (which I do almost every night in the coldest of winter), to wrap my grandbaby in it.

It is love.

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It was one of my most fun and interesting knits, too; making up my personal "rules" for color & design, putting it all together (once I got started), and sharing/comparing it with friends (including the designer!).

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Thanks again and always, Janine, for such a wonderful idea and inspiration.


#TH4NKSGIVING

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My one and only photo of Thanksgiving this year -- slicing leeks for Leek Pie! Let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious and it's the first of three pies to completely disappear!

Leek Pie was something new for us this year, as were Roasted Turkey Breast and Sweet Potato Fries -- arguably those are traditional foods for the holiday, but we presented or prepared them in a new way. And we had more of a brunch, served at 1:00, instead of mid- to late-afternoon as usual. There was Pumpkin Pie, of course, with freshly whipped cream, and also an Apple Pie at the table (a la mode!).

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A ticket to the game was a big highlight of the day! My stepdad had two extra tickets, nabbed by Maddy and me! It was the first game I've attended with Maddy (she was late to embrace fandom), and so much fun. Lucky for us, those tickets were in a box, as the weather was pretty awful last night.

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We went up to the roof before kick-off and I am reminded of a photo taken near the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye. Last night was also cold and windy, but with the added loveliness of rain and the "wintry mix."

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Pre-game view from the top.

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National Anthem.

Whether we won or lost (FYI: we lost), the main feature of the evening was always going to be the unveiling of Brett Favre's retired #4 in the Lambeau Field "Ring of Honor." Brett returned to Green Bay for the event, along with many of his former teammates, which was further punctuated by the attendance of Bart Starr. Bart is the only other surviving player in that small and exclusive group of Packers whose numbers have been retired. The ceremony was delayed for a year to give Bart time to recover from a series of strokes and seizures; it's doubtful that he fully grasped the whole thing, but it was the goal he'd been working toward for months with his family and caregivers.

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#TH4NKSGIVING

It was a night to remember!