On the road to St. Louis

Last weekend's spontaneous trip to St. Louis, MO, with Kate helps the checking off of a larger "bucket list" item of mine, and that is to visit as an adult all the cities that I lived in as a child. The list also includes:

  • Milwaukee, WI (check)
  • Escanaba, MI (check)
  • Denver, CO
  • Toledo/Columbus/Cleveland, OH
  • Toronto, ON
  • Chicago/Highland Park, IL (check)

We were fully prepared to depart when I finished work at 5pm on Friday, but I was lucky enough to get off at 1 instead. Kate had an after-5 appointment to deliver some artwork in Madison, giving us time to detour to Milwaukee for a stop at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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Seriously, is that not one of the most beautiful structures in the world? Even the lower-level parking is striking. Someday, I'm going to camp out and watch the "wings" open/close.

The main reason for our stop was the exhibition Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now Sing Joy

We were not there at a time when we could hear Antoine's Organ "come alive," but alive it was... relevant.

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We had time to swing through a couple of other areas.

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Refrigerator Pies, 1962, Wayne Thiebaud

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Bluffs, 2009, Tara Donovan, buttons and glue (!!!)

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Modernity Circa 1952, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2004, Josiah McElheny

From there we drove to Madison, where Kate made her delivery, and we had dinner.

Then we hit the road for St. Louis... we didn't make it that far on Friday night, though, construction & traffic making for angsty driving. We stopped overnight near Oglesby, IL, and set the alarm clock for an early start on Saturday!

To be continued, as usual... we packed a whole lot into just a couple of days!!  :)


Reading update!

Whew! I finished listening to The Shadow of the Wind yesterday afternoon! I really enjoyed the performance by Jonathan Davis. The story(s) was good and I definitely had some favorite characters. It was especially cool because I actually visited Barcelona this summer. I looked on a map for some of the streets mentioned in the book -- some of the story having taken place near the area where we stayed. It sure dragged on here and there did seem long, though. Maybe it's just me! Well, no, it is an 18-hour listen!

2017 Book BingoFor my next audio book, I've chosen I Will Send Rain, which found a place in the "Historical Fiction" square of my hopelessly Bingo-less card. (Obviously, that was never the goal!) It's a much shorter book, at only 8 hours, and maybe I'll even get another one started before the official end of 2017 Book Bingo on Labor Day Weekend.


Unraveled Wednesday: Beatrice

Late yesterday morning...

Kate: Super spontaneous but would you possibly be up for a brief weekend road trip to St. Louis? ... I know you want to check it out!

Vicki: When? This weekend? ... And yes!

That's the way things work around here sometimes! This has been on my wish list for years! It will be super-quick, but I am excited about three things: visiting Gateway Arch, Bellefontaine Cemetery, and Knitorious!!

* * * * *

Joining Kat & friends this week for Unraveled Wednesday!

I am still working out the Arrow situation, even stopping by my LYS yesterday to see if anything there jumped out and pointed the way. Meh, not really...

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I dumped a bunch of yarn on the bed this morning to sort and play around... it's formulating.

I found plenty of other inspiration at Iris yesterday, and realized that all of a sudden I was in need of travel knitting!

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I settled on Beatrice Top by Erika Flory for Blue Sky Alpacas. I am using Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine Color 120 (in color 502) (confusing) designed by Arne & Carlos! Those are the sleeve swatches that I knit last night. My record for actually knitting while traveling isn't that great, but I never leave home without a project!

I was happy to discover that I'd already cut the binding strips for my Alabama Chanin project, so I'll be pressing those momentarily...

In reading. Well, there's just over an hour before I'm finished listening to The Shadow of the Wind... finally! Hillbilly Elegy is on Kindle, and the going is slow... I guess I'm not finding it as compelling as others have!


When I'm not making arrows...

Well, hey. I'm going to think of that eclipse as a bit of a reset... focus, let some things go... ready, set, go!

Seriously, though, I didn't see much of the eclipse, but it was pretty cool!

I'm a little obsessed with Woman Must Make Her Own Arrows!

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This was Triangle #2 as of last Wednesday.

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I finished that and joined the triangles into an hourglass on Friday night, and then spent a lot of time over the weekend weaving in & trimming ends. Knitting resumed as of last night... I'm not sure I like what I did and may rip & re-do.

People do that sort of thing on occasion! I have done it, too, but every now and then I need a reminder. It's so freeing, and I can't say that I've ever regretted it!

The arrow-making is not portable knitting, so I did some sewing at knit night last week.

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That is a tunic-length Alabama Chanin Factory Dress! I finished sewing all the seams and couldn't wait to try it on. What a fabulous & flattering cut on this dress! I still have to press and then fell the shoulder & side seams, then finish the neck & arm openings, and probably some finishing at the hem, too. It's a single layer of printed knit fabric, quite stretchy -- and, yes, the same fabric design that I used to make a dress for Gin (hers woven, mine knit) (I really love that fabric design) (and I have more of both).

I finally re-did the seat of "my" kitchen chair last week. This is something that's needed to be done for quite while, but ... procrastinate ... also, where did I put that fabric? Well, I recently ran across the fabric, but the biggest motivator was when Gin started picking at the exposed cotton & foam.

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It's not perfect, but it's done. I could use a few more upholstery nails but there were casualties in the process, and I don't have any more of that design! I salvaged as many as I could.

Random thoughts:

  • Floor needs refinishing!
  • I need a pedi!

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I watched the kids for a while on Saturday while Ali had her hair done. We had fun with chalk + water. Kate had arrived home on Friday from a "reset" trip to Toronto/Grand Rapids, and stopped over for some kid time, too! (She started her new job at UWGB today!!)

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I captured this still from a Snapchat video that Ali shared on Sunday morning. Junah was super interested in what Grandpa was doing in the studio... pulled up a chair and had his first little art "lesson." This gives me all the feels, including the nostalgic ones when I remember all the artwork produced at that elbow by the girls over the years.

Potatoes

This isn't the first time I've cooked some of the potatoes that I grew, but it's the first time I photographed them. I think they are all represented here: Dark Red Norland, Oneida Gold, Blue Adirondack (purple), Superior, and French Fingerling. Man, are they ever good. The more I make them, the more I'm looking forward to upping my potato game next year!


Weekending: Quick Get-away

Jun has turned a corner, and is all of a sudden very engaging with and attentive to his little sister.

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He makes sure her legs are straight, (nearly strangle-)holds her on the big slide. "Isn't that fun, Gin?"

Rusty had some errands to run on Saturday and I decided to ride along; we both packed a bag with the idea that we'd stay overnight if we found a place that beckoned.

Naturally, I packed an extra bag full of yarn.

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Yes, I brought all this yarn!

After our scheduled stops in Mishicot & Algoma, we wandered. We found lunch, stumbled across some history...

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It was a gorgeous day, so we found some beautiful vistas, too.

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We decided to stop for a root beer float at Frosty Tip in Dyckesville and talk about where we'd like to end up for the evening. As we turned off the by-pass, I spotted Sunset Shores, which looked pretty good -- and here we are; I gave a call and we nabbed the last available room.

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Provisions (we weren't very prepared).

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We found a place for a light supper, then settled in to enjoy sunset at the beach. We socialized with a fellow guest, and watched the sky for meteors -- alas, I did not see a single one! I've seen quite a few "shooting stars" over the years, though, and no doubt I will see more... it was a gorgeous evening for stargazing.

We were up and out the door early. Only :45 from home, we walked through the back door at 9 a.m. and put on a pot of coffee!

After breakfast, I gave my Forest Mystery shawl a soak while I biked to the store, and pinned it out when I got back. It's HUGE -- much bigger than my blocking mat! So cozy.

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Then I did a little tidying, a little laundry, a little cleaning & tossing out... and, other than cooking supper, I took the rest of the day off!

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Got zucchini? This is Crust-less Summer Zucchini Pie*.

I'd begun knitting Larissa Brown's Woman Must Make Her Own Arrows in the Saturday sunset (above), and spent much of yesterday knitting and figuring out "where this arrow wants to go."

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The shawl begins with a couple of knit triangles. This is Triangle #1 and, after some trial & error/knitting & ripping, I think this is the palette and the direction it's going. The Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails weren't in my original pile o' yarn for this project, but they are perfect in more ways than one -- notice all the "arrowheads" on the labels? This is a fun project for play and for using up a bunch of leftovers and little skeins. I'm already thinking about Triangle #2!

*Last time I made this, I used 4 eggs instead of 2; this time I used 6; next time, I'll try 6 again but eliminate (or greatly cut back) the flour.


Catching up!

I can't believe it's been a week since we spent an evening at the ballpark!

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It's a terrible photo, but I love the goofy expressions! We had a good time... and funnel cake.

The weekend was all about family! I spent most of Saturday with Gin -- one of the happiest people on the planet!

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I did manage a little time in the garden on both Saturday & Sunday mornings -- my long-neglected weed-infested overgrown garden! It looks a lot better now.

And I began to harvest potatoes!

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Maddy already roasted a few of the reds the other day, so I had a taste (yum), the rest are curing. I will definitely grow potatoes again, but will likely try a different method/location.

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My brother came on Sunday to help celebrate Addie's 10th (!!!!!!!!!!) birthday and assist in the send-off as Ann & family make their way back to Spain.

The kids threw/burst/plopped at least 300 water balloons, and then it poured rain, so we're all a bit damp.

We tried wrangling the kids again...


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And did the best we could -- with some acceptably cute photos!!

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My re-working of the shawl worked great and, in fact, the last stitch was cast off (bound off?) last night! I'll weave in ends today and soak & block it on the weekend, then it's off to NZ -- I think it's still cool enough there that it might yet be of use this year!

The garage door opener died the day before Rusty returned... it's been sluggish & weird, but then began making a horrific noise.

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So, Welcome Home Rusty!!  ;) And thanks for so quickly installing a new and so much quieter opener!

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I took a few moments on Tuesday morning to fell a couple of seams on my Factory Dress/Tunic. Sewing & felling side seams is next, and then binding neck & armholes.

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I haven't tried yet, but my new "computer glasses" might also be great "sewing glasses." I had a follow-up appointment at the eye doc last week for some of those fancy eye photos, and all is well... but while there, I asked about options for work/computer. Everything in my work space is at a good height & distance, but I was constantly tilting my head back to get the computer screen in focus -- literally, a pain in the neck. I was ready to go for TRI-focals, if that would help (I remember my grandmother having those when she worked at the bank). Alas, the Rx ratios were adjusted (I can't wear these for distance/driving), and I was able to find some clearance frames (that I love) and take advantage of back-to-school savings of 50% off lenses. I wore them all day yesterday and it's so worth it. I LOVE THEM!!


Sing along!

I'm still reading the same books and knitting the same shawl. Next week I may have something new to share on those fronts! Today, let's talk about something else.

I subscribe to Spotify and frequently listen to music, but almost always to other people's playlists or to particular artists/songs/albums. Kate is always making playlists and I am thankful to her for bringing new artists to my attention and helping stretch my musical wings, !

Anyway, the other day I was reading more about the upcoming workshop at Alabama Chanin -- particularly learning more about the included Swampette Tour -- and it finally sunk in. I mean, I've been aware of Muscle Shoals and its musical importance for a very long time and I know that Muscle Shoals is right there, but... Wow! We are really gonna be in it!!

I was inspired to create a playlist!

I'm still curating and organizing, but am so loving it; appropriately leading off with "A Feather's Not A Bird" by Rosanne Cash, which also supplied the playlist's perfect title: I'm Goin' Down to Florence.

Also, I will soon be re-watching the documentary Muscle Shoals on Netflix!


Calling all sewists

...especially if you're interested in making/designing clothes to suit YOUR body.

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My Body Model is an amazing Kickstarter campaign with about 2 weeks to reach their goal.

LET'S DO THIS!

 


Dear August,

Wow. You got here fast!! Seems like only yesterday that it was the end of May and I was bidding fare-the-well to Rusty, making Big Plans for all the things I was going to accomplish while he was gone "all summer." Ya. He returns tomorrow and I didn't do a single Big Thing that I'd planned:

  • Clean/Toss the Living Areas
  • Clean/Toss Yarn/Fabric/Workroom
  • Clean/Toss Garage
  • Clean Bathroom (Top-to-Bottom)
  • Clean Bedroom (Top-to-Bottom)

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I did manage some Other Big Things:

  • Trip to Ireland/Spain
  • Long Weekend @ The Flowage
  • Auntie Camp
  • Family Time - cookouts, weddings, hangin'

And lots of Little Things:

  • Kitchen faucet repair
  • Toilet seat replacement
  • Hard water deposits removed from toilet bowl
  • Upstairs apartment drains unclogged
  • Clogged gutter/downspout cleaned out

Um, I never dreamed it would be the summer of plumbing/water-related stuff! You might guess that none of those things was exactly "elective"! The gutter has needed attention all summer, but I only ever thought of it when it was raining or I wasn't at home. And, boy, have we had rain... it's put the proverbial damper on many things. Anyway, I was upstairs yesterday to deal with clogged drains, and ventured out to do the deed. That's a panaroma from our garage to the neighbors' -- a view I don't often see!

There's nothing exciting on the calendar this month other than a 3.5-day weekend coming up, and a couple of dates with the kids/grands. I'm still hoping to get a few of those Big Things crossed off the list yet this summer/fall... now with Rusty's help!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling a little of that burst-your-buttons-Mom-pride & satisfaction thing:

  • Kate has just accepted an interim position as gallery curator at UW-Green Bay, with a little teaching too! She has about a week at the bookstore, then a short road trip, and the new job begins on 8/21!
  • Things are finally coming together for Ali & the long-dreamed-of/-planned coffee shop remodel! Fingers crossed that it's relatively quick & painless from here on out.
  • Maddy is figuring things out... doing lots of odd jobs at the moment, from painting & gardening to IT-related stuff; planning a weeks-long hike this autumn; a move to the Milwaukee area after that; and likely return to New Zealand next winter for both work & pleasure!

Life may not always go as planned, August, but I'm pretty good at rolling with the changes and it is definitely good!

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


Unraveled Wednesday

Literally, on Tuesday afternoon. Let's go to the video:

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Yes, it's still light outside, I'm wearing my PJs, and that is an adult beverage -- large, cold, sweet & tart! (Gin + Campari + Vermouth + Orange Bitters + Lemonade + Juice of a Lime + Club Soda) (1.5 oz, 1 oz, .5 oz, 5-10 drops, 1 oz, a lime, filled to the top) (more or less)

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I kept convincing myself that it was okay, but clearly it's not. I bought four balls of this yarn; 1 & 2 went together seamlessly, the 3rd not so much. The 4th is more like 1 & 2, so I've ripped back the re-wound the offender. I am underway with blending balls 2 & 4 for a several rows and then I've basically a repeat and a half to re-do and an edging. I'll blend 3 & 4 and it all ought to smooth out. It's enjoyable knitting, so I don't mind... once the ripping was done.

2017 Book Bingo

There's been no change to the Bingo card, and only a little bit of progress. It's just not happening... and that's okay. Mostly, I enjoy the opportunity to think about books and stretch my reading chops!

Joining Kat & friends this week for Unraveled Wednesday!


Weekending

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That's supposed to be a gif -- is it moving?

Kids, corn, corny kids...

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Remember Prisma??

A little shopping, some good food & drink & tunes, water & sand, hanging out...

I even got a few things done at home!

Does it get any better?


Right Now

Anticipating... Rusty's return! He's been in California for most of the summer -- art stuff, a residency, visiting family & friends, projects. I'm looking forward to having him back in residence here!

Celebrating... A nice stretch of warm & mostly dry weather ahead! It has been an awfully rainy (and humid) summer so far, so this is quite welcome.

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Charmed by... this photo that Ann sent me last week with the caption: Casting off! Wedding dishcloth!!

Enjoying... The county fair! It opened on Tuesday, and Maddy & I went last night. I haven't been to that particular fair in many, many years... possibly since I was in junior high! I worked for my aunt during the summer between 7th & 8th grades. She was blowing glass back then and, in addition to sales, I painted/decorated the pieces that needed that sort of thing! We did the circuit all over WI & MN that summer... so much fun!

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Anyway, we didn't go on a single ride, but we did tour every barn! The judge in the photo above -- middle right, wearing jeans & plaid shirt, talking to young man with a sheep -- was talking with that young man the entire time that we watched. He was so patient and you could tell that he was genuinely interested in sheep, but even more in demonstrating & explaining to every person there how to show their sheep in the best possible way.

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I know the knitter of those 1st Place socks! I loved the whimsy of the little embroidery sampler pillow.

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Some of it was pretty impressive! (FYI: You Can Do It Afghan is a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarns.)

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I'm thinking that it might not be my last county fair of the year... there are three more within a :20-30 minute drive happening in the next month or so!

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Knitting... Forest Mystery continues to grow!!

Looking forward to... A relatively uneventful weekend and a chance to get things cleaned up at home! Auntie Camp stuff sits atop a big pile o' other stuff that needs to be put away.

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Planning... A trip!

Reading... The same stuff I've been reading.

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Remembering... Hang time with the dude at Wednesday night's concert in the park. We spent a good part of that afternoon together, too.

Sewing... My craft/free time has been devoted to knitting the shawl, but there are some sewing projects on my mind and underway (in the pile)!

Watching... Game of Thrones... I've been knitting to it... currently on Season 5.

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


Answer: Earrings

Kim asked the question:

What is the jewelry that you feel naked without?

For me, it's earrings! And funny enough, I'm not wearing any today. I decided at the last minute this morning to take photos and then forgot to grab a pair!

Anyway, I was so happy to find this little jewelry pegboard at Target a couple of weeks ago when I was there with the boys to pick up a few extra shirts. The way I've stored most of my earrings for the past few years is jumbled in a pile on my nightstand. Every once in a while, Junah likes to play in there -- our bed is high, so it's fun to get on and off -- and I knew that one of these days those trinkets were going to catch his attention, so I've been looking for some sort of storage/display solution. This may also attract attention, but seems more manageable.

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Bingo!

It's not on the wall yet, and I'm not sure that I'll hang it. I might get a big easel and prop it on my dresser (when I get it cleaned off). (There's a disaster just about any place you look at my house right now, it's just a matter of degrees.)

I'm pretty sure I could arrange these better, and there are a few more to add, plus I'd like another hook or two, but I * LOVE * seeing them all so orderly!

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My new pair of earrings from Spain -- from La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (where the newlyweds landed today to begin their honeymoon!).

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My other new pair of earrings from Spain, which I've been wearing A LOT! They go so well with anything indigo, as well as black, and the wire design is different and fun.

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The top two in this photo are from Rio de Janeiro, purchased at the Ipanema Hippie Fair! I don't wear them because the metal is questionable and I am very sensitive -- gold or sterling, please! The dice were for Sharon on our Las Vegas trip, and the big celtic nouveau pair next to them were hers.

Souvenir earrings & souvenir yarn are interchangeable in my book!

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There's the "game day" section! What?!! You don't have game-day earrings??

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And these. All made by the same artist, whose name I do not recall, purchased over a period of several years at a gallery in Door County. I stopped into that gallery last year and didn't see anything similar. The calla lily pair on the right were a part of my regular attire for a very long time, and I had a ring (by the same artist) to match. The other two pair are quite a bit heavier, so never worn quite as often.

What about you? What is the jewelry that you feel naked without?
(Share your answer at Kim's, too!)


Love + Dancing = Weekend Wedding

My nephew Sam, Brian's eldest, married the love of his life on Saturday. He fell in love with Anna within seconds of meeting, and just "knew." He began saving for the engagement ring after their second date!

The wedding was held in the rooftop garden at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and it was lovely. Anna is gorgeous, and made a stunning bride.

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The photographer was just on the other side of that greenery while I creeped to get this lovely image of Sam & Anna dancing.

Oh my goodness, the DANCING!!

Much to their amusement, I told the boys during Auntie Camp about Sam's late-night surprise performance at my brother's wedding, 16 years ago, shocking everyone -- no one more than his father -- by dancing a joyful solo to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Sam had been as relentless in requesting the song as the DJ had been in resisting, but it was finally spun at the end of the night and I am not kidding when I say that jaws hit the floor.

The DJs on Saturday were also resistant, but Mack was collecting names and, well... Kate & I were 29 & 30 on the petition, I believe. Haha! Resistance is futile. Finally, they played the record and people crowded the dance floor -- including Sam and his brothers for a reprise.

And inspiration... the youngest of them were shy at first.

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Addie & Ann. It all starts with one move (oh, the orange socks)!!

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Addie & Dylan. A few hours later!!

There was no stopping them. Solos, trios, quartets, crowds; with their mother, aunt, brothers, cousins; they danced all night and it was delightful.

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I arrived home early Sunday afternoon and took a nap! After that, I relaxed. Perfect Sunday afternoon activities, if you ask me.

And then I made dinner. Roasted Tomatoes & Cipollini Onions with White Beans from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I nabbed last week from Ann's pile that was destined for Half-Price Books.

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It was delicious, pretty easy to put together, and so good. "I can't stop thinking about it" good!!

I hope you had a good weekend!


Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat & friends this week for Unraveled Wednesday!

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

2017 Book Bingo

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

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

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


Auntie Camp v.3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anticipation!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FO: Mini-Me for K & G

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

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

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

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

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

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


Weekending

I love lavender!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haha. Where am I???


Spain: What I Packed/What I Wore

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

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

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

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

Inside the carry-on tote:

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

Travel duds:

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

Pants/Skirts:

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

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

A note here about PACKING CUBES!

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

Dress up:

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

Tops I wore:

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Top to bottom:

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

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

Tops I brought but didn't wear:

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Top to bottom:

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

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

Shoes:

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

Miscellaneous:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dear July,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Book Bingo

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

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

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

Wondering... What's up with you?

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


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

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

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See ya later!!

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

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

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

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

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The cathedral was, of course, AMAZING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spain: Valencia On Our Own (Day 6)

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

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

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Trusty Google Maps got us there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Words fail me.

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The preserved arm of St. Vincent.

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Works by Goya

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The Holy Grail right there!

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Skulls & bones!

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

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

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

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

We amused ourselves...

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Self-explanatory -- the boys' work!

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Everybody's on Snapchat now (except Brian)!

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

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Good night, Valencia!!


Spain: Valencia & L'Albufera (Day 5)

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

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

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

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There's ^^ a wedding!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spain: Valencia (Day 4)

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

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

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

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

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The food!

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

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

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

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They sure are pretty though!

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

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It was a gorgeous day!!

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

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


In other news: Weekending

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

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

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Hungry, Hungry Recliner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about you? How was your weekend??


Spain: Valencia (Day 3, Part 2)

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

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So we took off with Ann!

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Surprise! We visited another church!

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

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We got our bearings a little bit...

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

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

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

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

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And some lovely earrings for myself.

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

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

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

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

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


Spain: Barcelona (Day 3, Part 1)

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

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

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

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

Breathtaking, is all I can say...

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

And the color!

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We visited the Nativity Tower.

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

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

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

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

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Including another church and a fabulous children's shop!

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

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

* * * * *

Mom

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


Ireland to Spain: Madrid > Barcelona (Day 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There was quite the garden/atrium at Atocha station!

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

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

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

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

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Gorgeous basilicas & cathedrals everywhere!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was one of my favorite exhibition pieces:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for Day 2!


Bags are packed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sew, the weekend...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The heavy embroidered design was replaced with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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