Weekending: Again

What a weird week last week. I was supposed to have last Thursday & Friday off -- a nice long weekend.

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There was a much-hyped Tuesday & Wednesday snowstorm, though, and with Rusty being gone (he takes care of most snow removal), it was suggested that perhaps I'd rather have those days off to keep up. And, yeah... sort of, I guess, but other scheduling things came into play, too, so that I was ending up with most of Tuesday off and all of Wednesday and, well, that's not much different from a normal week.

I took Friday off, too, but it just wasn't the same, y'know? And, of course, the snowfall wasn't nearly as dramatic as predicted, either. Whatever.

I managed one session with the personal trainer last week, did lots of cooking, and also a fair bit of cutting, ironing, and sewing!

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I had the majority of my Color Dive Quilt (in-progress) laid out on the front room floor for a few days... until Junah was due for a visit and I realized what a disaster that could be! I have three rows sewn together so far... it's very colorful!

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Some of my seams line up pretty good and some not-so-good! I'm learning. I also found that some of my fabric combos worked better than others, and have done more fat-quarter shopping in the past week than I've done ever! I think I can live with it now... I will live with it, because no more shopping!

Annie came on Friday afternoon and spent the weekend. The plan was to introduce her to hand sewing, Alabama Chanin style, in preparation for some skirt kits that are on order. We used some stenciled fat-eighths that I'd ordered a while ago for our swatches.

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Within minutes, she was couching! She really likes the look of it and it's probably the technique she's going to use on her skirt.

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She tried some other techniques, too!

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The beads & sequins also came out, and I sent her home with a selection of all, along with some jersey rope in a contrasting color for couching.

The possibilities are endless!

I worked "negative reverse applique" on my swatch, with both layers of fabric in the same color.

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I will likely use this technique on my skirt, but the layers will be different shades of gray.

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It was a super fun and relaxing weekend -- not as long as originally hoped, but fine!

Ann is smitten with the stitching! It's going to be several weeks before our skirt kits arrive, so in the meantime (next time we get together), we'll be cutting out and sewing an interim project. She reminded me before she left that she made it as far Advanced Tailoring in high school home ec class (I remember the "muslin" suit she made from some amazing floral bedsheets)... she's going to LOVE working on a garment!


Weekending: In no particular order

I walked to the library on Saturday morning to pick up the latest addition to my Reading list: Mink River. This book has garnered lots of stars on Goodreads by some of my favorite readers; and since I've lived at (and will again soon be visiting) the Oregon Coast, it seemed like the perfect read right now.

Junah came over to delight and entertain for a while. The "words" are absolutely nonstop. He loves to flop/fall -- on a beanbag, on a chair, on the floor -- while saying, "Ohhh noooooo!" Hilarious. I could watch him for hours. Oh, that's right, I do!!

Kate & I went to see Brooklyn. Loved it! That brings the list of Best Picture noms that I've seen to half, joining Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Spotlight. Unseen are The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and Room -- and it's not likely that'll happen by Oscar night. I could catch two of those on Day 2 of the Best Picture Festival (I'll be in Chicago for Day 1), but I'll be okay if I don't.

I watched a quilting video by Anna Maria Horner on Creativebug.

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And I cut out a bunch of 4" and 4.5" squares for a quilt. I'd run across some fat quarters that I'd purchased recently and/or some time ago and used them as the basis for my color selection, then raided/scrounged through my meager fabric stash for the rest!

Another quilt was definitely not on my radar! I must need to prove to myself that the first effort wasn't a fluke. Heh.

(It probably won't surprise anyone to know that I've had a strip quilt cut and ready to go for years.)

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I did some more cooking. Last night it was Caprese Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato Wedge Fries. That's the third recipe in a week that we've made from Sheet Pan Suppers.

I've had this cookbook for a while. Unimpressed with the first recipe I tried (I don't even recall which one), it was shelved for a while. Last week, Kate suggested we give it a go, and all three dishes (see Friday's post for Jerome's Chicken and Turkey Meatballs & Slow-roasted Tomatoes) have been really good. Prep is pretty straight forward, not requiring an in ordinate number of bowls & utensils, and clean up (foil- or parchment-lined pans) is a breeze!

Sheet pan cooking is not an exact science, though, as ovens can be fickle, so I'm learning some things for next time/my oven: a) if it doesn't seem like enough chicken, then use more; 2) a little oil might keep meatballs from sticking; 3) pay attention to oven rack location; and 4) turn, turn, turn!

The weather was very mild, but a looming storm was on everyone's mind. It's so sunny and warm right now, it's really hard to believe that there's a blizzard and 6-12" of snow on the way!


Right Now

Knitting: There has been precious little knitting of late, and it's been pretty mindless.

I am occasionally picking up my second inner Dimorphous Mitten, and suspect that I'll finish that set by spring. Naturally.

The Scoreboard KAL has also been picked up on occasion, as well. I feel no urgency with that project, but definitely plan to finish before long.

DNA results have proven that there is no lemming in my lineage, so I am not Banging Out A Sweater, but truthfully, I am a lemming, so that has more to do with the pattern (knitting in the round and/or intarsia), and the fact that I already have innumerable sweaters in various stages of "banging out." I've entertained thoughts about working on one or two of them instead!

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Sewing: There are a number of Alabama Chanin -ish projects in various stages, soon to be joined by another! My sister and I are ordering skirt kits that we'll work as part of a group. Annie has never done any AC-style sewing, so I'm welcoming her into the coven and preparing some of my AC stenciled fat eighths for practice when she's here next weekend.

Listening to: Dan Zanes with Junah; we especially love "Bushel and A Peck," a song that my mother sang to every single one of her grandchildren!

Reading: I just finished The Jesus Cow and immediately picked up The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd, which Katie gave me for my birthday, and which I am, so far, enjoying immensely! Incredible location, photos, sheep, humor... all good.

I recently finished my first audio book, Composed by Rosanne Cash (thank you, Margene, for the suggestion), and am currently awaiting Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my Overdrive app. Audiobooks have been a struggle for me, but beginning by listening to familiar voices reading their own stories seems to be a great way to start!

Watching: Outlander! On DVD. Finally.

Thinking about: An upcoming 3-day weekend in Chicago with my girls! All three!!

Planning: Oregon Coast get-away. I'll meet up with Rusty in No Cal and we'll drive up the Oregon coast, staying at a couple of Airbnb places -- one near Florence, where his dad is hoping to get something going, and one with a great view of Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City (where we got married 31 years ago) -- and visiting friends! We'll also be visiting my dad, and eventually making our way up to Portland where I'll catch a flight back home. I haven't been there in years (almost 25, to be exact) and am looking forward to it... more as time draws near, and more than I really expected.

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Remembering: Mum. Her birthday is today; she'd be 78.  This is one of my favorite photos of her -- 4th grade. Her whole face is electric, like she's going to burst out in giggles any second, or can't wait to get out on the playground with her friends (probably both)! This was just before "Cyril," who sat behind her in class, cut off one of her braids. I remember her telling me how she'd go into Grandma's bedroom every morning to have her braids done, and how upset Grandma was with Cyril. And, oh, that gap in her teeth -- it wasn't fixed 'til she got braces when she was in her 40s -- so incredible at the time for an adult to get braces! XOXOX. I miss you everyday Mom.


Fit Friday

Earlier this month, I had an introductory visit with Rebecca, a personal trainer. My friend and co-worker had already been seeing Rebecca about 3 times a week for 6-8 weeks, which I knew about, but I really became interested when I could "see" my friend's progress -- and the extent of that progress in only 6-8 weeks. It was impressive.

Beginning the second week of January, I've had 2 sessions per week with Rebecca, though due to scheduling it's been more like 3 -- and even 3 days in a row! Sometimes we meet at her office in Appleton, and sometimes I go to her house in Green Bay. She has similar but different equipment at each place, so I kind of enjoy the variety.

She took it easy on me the first week or so, getting to know me and gauging my ability. It's been getting a little harder since... but also easier! There was one day, after concentrating on triceps, when it was a challenge to pick up the telephone! But while "abs" is not my favorite thing and I thought I was going to die midway through the first set (I think I did 3 sets of 8 or 10), yesterday, after only 3 weeks, I was amazed at how "easy" it was to do 3 sets of 12! (Shhh, don't tell Rebecca!!)

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I've been cooking more and eating at home. And also keeping track of what I eat, using the free version of an app called Lose It! Kate had been doing that for a little while, and I know how much tracking helps.

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This has been a while in coming. I've put on a lot of weight over the past year and a half or so. I can't say that it's crept up on me; I've been aware and mostly choosing to ignore. Eating out, a bit more snacking, little exercise, and a lot more beer (oh, I do love a good IPA!)... it's all added up.

Changes have been made. And I think my jeans felt just a little bit more comfortable this morning.


Quilt

 Once upon a time, Ali had a brilliant idea about making quilts together!

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March 2013

Ali: I think we should have a double wedding ring quilt challenge. But it has to be a secret because mine will be for Abbey and Kevin. {A wedding present for their August 2013 wedding.} But you can report your progress, and at the end surprise the masses with TWO beautiful finished products. Eh? Eh? smile emoticon

We have 5 months! We should make a guide of some kind showing what we have to get done in one week. Pace ourselves. I have no idea how to begin. smile emoticon

Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!  Will have to do some research... and, first, you need to get a handle on colors for Abbey & Kevin! I want to go to a good quilt shop!!! Am excited now!

Ali: Me tooooo! We'll have to make a date!

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With a 3-month-old baby only 6 months until her best friend's wedding day, it was quickly decided that we'd be making only Ali's (king-size) quilt, and that I would be her helper! She wanted to use the "Easy! Fast! Smart!" Quiltsmart method, which involves no tedious piecing and, instead, utilizes fusible interfacing to make the arcs and assemble square blocks.

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So instead of tedious piecing, we tediously cut, sewed, trimmed, turned, finger pressed, ironed, sewed again, pressed again, sewed again, pressed again...

As far as I'm concerned, and having never made a traditional pieced double-wedding ring anything, the jury's still out on the ease, swiftness, and/or intelligence of making a quilt this way (your mileage may vary).

May 2013

Vicki: We need to carve out some production time... a quilting bee!

Ali: Whooo! I'm having a very difficult time finding time!

Vicki: I have turned all that were trimmed and am now trimming more so that I can turn!

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August 16, 2013:  WEDDING DAY!

 

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Some parts of this quilt traveled across the pond and I worked on turning and finger pressing in Scotland -- on the train, playing Scrabble in the evening, etc.

June 2014

Vicki: I did some sewing & trimming for quilt yesterday and thought I was caught up... but then saw a whole 'nother pile! Haha. Hope you're having fun up north. XOXO

Ali: This thing is a nightmare!! Haha. Xoxo

Vicki: WE CAN DO IT with this quilt thing!!! smile emoticon

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March 2015

Vicki: {Random sewing talk.} Also, we have a quilt to finish.

Ali: And yes. Quilt. I know I still need some more white fabric, but it's coming along. I can maybe give you what I have..it's ready for the clear thread.

June 2015

Vicki: Re: Quilt... we need 90 total + 38 halves, right?

Ali: Yep. So 128x4?

Vicki: Hm. Quilt. Suggested dimensions for a King size quilt, INCLUDING a 15" drop at each side and the bottom, is 106 x 94... which would be 9x8 (assuming our squares are 12"?) So that would be 72 complete squares and 34 halves to go all the way around, give or take. I'm getting confused. We can't need 70 more arcs, can we???

Ali: I suppose I haven't sat down and done the math since the way beginning, and I'm sure it was hasty.

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August 2015

Ali: I know this is on the back burner... but I wanted to touch base with an idea! We sew the squares into 1'x9' panels, so maybe we cut 9 1'x9' panels of white fabric and use that as the second layer before the batting. Then it's all connected and sturdier and we don't have an extra actual fabric layer to send along. Yes? I haven't sewn these together lengthwise yet but... smile heart-eyes emoticon

I can't remember exactly, but it was sometime in late summer/early fall that we delivered the finished quilt top to the quilter. We had it done at a shop because that was just WAY beyond either of us. (Ali: I have no idea how to begin. Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!) We've learned some things!

January 2016

Vicki: I just watched a GREAT tutorial for binding a quilt. WE CAN DO IT! Do you have fabric for binding? smile emoticon

Ali: I have some packaged white quilt binding but we can use something different if you'd like!

Vicki: I actually think it would be easier to do it with fabric strips instead of packaged binding! I discovered all the old backing yesterday, too, so have plenty. Making the strips won't be difficult at all. I forgot the dimensions of the quilt, though, so that was my next step! Do you remember? If you want to do packaged binding, I can pick it up. I watched 2 tutorials on YouTube -- on one Fat Quarter Shop and the other by Missouri Quilt Co. I actually think the FQS method would be best (simple finish on the front).

Ali: Alright! Let me know how you'd like me to help!

Vicki: I need to measure the perimeter of the quilt; cut, sew & press the 2.5" strips. I can do that part if you want to sew it on... or I can do the first step of sewing and you can finish. I'll measure & cut tonight!

I picked it up less than two weeks ago, and made the binding.

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Not only did it take me THREE TIMES to sew the miters making this long strip of fabric, I also made almost twice the length required for the task because... I don't even know why!! But I did a good job and it looks nice and now I have extra.

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I made the binding one evening, and Ali came over the next and sewed it all on in just a few hours! After the blocks were assembled, it all went pretty quick! She washed it within a day or two.

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It's done and delivered, appreciated and loved!

I still can't quite believe it!


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!!

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Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite David Bowie Songs

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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!

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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.