21 January 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Breakfast of Champions!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Breakfast Foods

1.  Eggs. I have an egg for breakfast almost everyday.

2.  Corned Beef Hash (with an egg). I haven't had this in ages, and hardly ever actually had it at breakfast... and I think this is what I want for supper TONIGHT. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since it popped into my heard earlier today.

3.  Bacon. Self-explanatory. Goes with everything.

4.  Leftovers. Fish, some steak, half a bratwurst, a meatball, veggies of all sorts... yummy for breakfast (along with an egg).

5.  Cereal with fruit & nuts. Cheerios with bananas & pecans. Rice Chex with raisins & walnuts. The barest minimum of milk. Liberal sprinkles of cinnamon.

6.  Oatmeal. Good chewy stuff, with raisin and pecans, lots of cinnamon.

7.  Greek yogurt. Plain, with honey, pineapple, and peach were my faves.

8.  Toast. Regular or french. Good bread, good eggs, good syrup.  :)

9.  Pancakes with maple syrup & sausage links.

10.  Waffles (ditto).

I mostly only eat #1, 3 & 4 for breakfast, lunch or dinner these days; the occasional #5 for a supper on my own or a late-night bite.

I get to smell toast regularly and, like fresh baked bread, it still smells good.

One of my favorite things about making pancakes & waffles were the stray little drips and bits that would get super done & crispy -- little pancake or waffle chips.

I like things crispy.

Speaking of breakfast (food), it's been a while and I could use a system reset, so I'm thinking about and gearing up for a Whole30 in February, I think. I ran across Melissa Joulwan's "food plan" and that's a good jumping off point. As has been previously documented here, I love her recipes!

 

20 January 2014

What a difference a year makes...

...or 29.

Us

Twenty-nine years ago today, in our little house near the beach at Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, OR, we got married!

From sugarloaf

A year ago today, I was standing atop Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, with a stop at the Hippie Fair later in the day!

There's another polar vortex bearing down on us, they say, and 84F in Rio sure sounds nice right now.

Junah-1wk

The little man marked a week on this earth yesterday, modeling with the little bear that Ali made for him and also rocking the handknits! There's plenty of room to grow into even the smallest of the Wool Soakers that I made!

 

17 January 2014

Well.

About 12 hours before Junah Michael Lee was born, I had a teary little pow-wow with Kate before she began her long journey back to Edinburgh. I'd had a few days off when she first arrived and we all spent a lot of time together. It was a great visit.

My first message was to Katie and, with only about 5 minutes to spare, I was able to relay the message, "It's a boy!" before boarding began in Chicago. I wasn't able to respond to any of her messages before departure, but at least she knew that the baby arrived and could relax a bit on the ride over the pond!

JML and Non
And on Tuesday I took my mom over for a visit and we had a 4-generation Skype chat with Auntie Kate! Are they adorable, or what?

Jun

I was originally going to take the week off of work to help Ali, but I went back on Thursday at noon.

JML

I'll get some cuddle time tonight, and will probably take some "good" photos sometime over the weekend.

5 Days old already!

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Ali had felt the first pangs of labor on Friday morning. I started sewing the Alabama Chanin baby blanket on Friday night and worked on it quite a bit over the weekend. I also knit my first stitches (not very many) (on Pepita) of 2014 while Ali labored! But I sewed instead of knit at Knit Night last night (the first one I've been to in AGES) and I'm almost half-way with the applique part. I sort of dove right into this project, so now I'm starting to think about the edges and how to finish them.

Oh, there's a Craftsy Flash Sale This Weekend - 1/18-1/19 with up to 50% off -- perhaps you'd like to hear Natalie Chanin talk about the physics of sewing, and why and how you should love your thread... I could listen to her all day long! And I could, if I wanted, because I bought that class and it's mine forever, to listen & watch on a loop 24/7 or just when I want a refresher on a specific technique. I'm not sure whether Natalie Chanin's Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Applique, Beading, and Embroidery will actually be on sale, but it will be eventually. It's a great learning platform.

 

13 January 2014

Welcome to the world!

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JUNAH!

 

It's a boy!

I'm so tired I can't even see straight.

I know now that I will never want to work professionally as a doula, but I will gladly and wholeheartedly help to guide any of my daughters through the process again... and again and again and again.

So, yes! Ali gave birth at home to a 7 lb. 14 oz. baby boy on Sunday, June January 12th at 8:31 p.m.

I am so proud of her!

Maddy was there to help and witness the birth -- amazing!! Katie helped along the way with labor but, unfortunately, missed the birth by about 10 hours. I was able to get the word to her, though, before she left the country and I'm very happy about that.

More details to follow, and probably a photo or two or maybe I really will blow up Instagram with photos of my grandson.

Grandson. Grand. Son. GRAND!

It is now 1 a.m. on Monday, June January 13th and I've had approx. 5 hours of sleep since Friday and it might be showing, so I think I'll go to bed now.

Also, PERFECT.

* * * * *

What can I say about writing June instead of January... I WAS TIRED! While Alison certainly did more physical work than I in delivering her baby, I can report that assisting through almost an entire (long) labor and delivery is mentally exhausting if not as physically demanding (but, damn, my legs ache today).

Also adding to my befuddlement is the bairn's name...

08 January 2014

Ten on Tuesday: 2013 Favorites

Ten on Tuesday Wednesday:  10 Favorite Moments from 2013

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1.  Rio in January!

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2.  Chicago in March... and August... and November!

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3.  Mother's Day with my girls.

4.  And Mother's Day when Ali confided to me (and me alone!) that I was going to be a grandmother! Such a great present... and I loved holding that little secret for a while.

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5.  That moment on June 15th when I became a mother-in-law.

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6.  Visits with the Boys from Brazil -- in January (here and there), in July, and in November!

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7.  A couple of get-aways with Rusty -- to Milwaukee in May and to Lake Geneva in September.

Shower1

8.  Ali's baby shower and furthering the fun with a big family get-together afterwards.

Garteryoke

9.  Knitting production! Totally amped up and motivated by the notion of a January baby, I didn't stop until I heard the words, "There might be enough sweaters." (It may be true.)

10.  The installation of French doors in the living room by Christmas, just as I'd wished for! There's a little finish work to be done on the non-living room side... no biggie.

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11.  Savoring everything about becoming a grandmother for the first time and helping my daughter in her journey to motherhood. From listening to the baby's heartbeat for the first time (and each time), to attending childbirth classes, to reading everything I could about being a doula/good support person for Ali. I feel both blesssed and honored that they want me so involved in the event that's undoubtedly going to be #1 on this list for 2014!!

* * * * *

Katie's still here 'til Sunday... which is Ali's due date. Maddy was home over the weekend, Ali's not scheduled at work, and we've been having lots of fun -- visiting, shopping/thrifting, taking in some shows (art, museum, movies), and checking in at all of our favorite restaurants!

Did I say it was cold outside? Holy crap.

I have yet to knit a stitch this year. There are a couple of projects underway and I'm sure I'll get to them but the sewing bug has definitely bit. I've done two bibs so far, giving me the confidence to tackle the onesie -- and that may be finished tonight.

 

03 January 2014

Baby, it's cold outside!

Katie had stops in Paris and Minneapolis before reaching home yesterday, and it was fun to track her flight over the ocean. From what I could see, that flight usually takes a predictable "straight across" path over the Atlantic; yesterday's storm in the east caused a much more northerly route -- nearly to Greenland, over Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec and Ontario, and finally to Minneapolis, skirting around Wisconsin entirely. She flew across the entire state on her last leg.

We had a little back-and-forth communication when she was in Minneapolis. She was excited about her 2-hour layover, reduced from 4-, and that's when I learned that her flight had been changed and she'd be arriving in Green Bay two hours earlier than planned! It's a good thing that yesterday was an "early release" day for me. I called Rusty a few times and stopped home on the way, but wasn't able to reach him (he was teaching yesterday afternoon), so I stashed my stuff and left for the airport. I could get up to the airport and back before we'd even have originally planned to go!

Rusty's reaction when I walked in the door and hollered my "Hello!" -- with Katie's echo -- was pretty great.  :)

She's arrived in time for some of the coldest weather of the year! The high temp on Monday is predicted to be around -12F/-24C. We'll slowly warm up to 30F/-1C by the time she's on her way back over the pond.

Brrrr.

 

02 January 2014

I began

...as I mean to go on.

I don't think I did a single thing that I *had* to do yesterday. I took the "holiday" part of New Year's Day to heart and did only things that I *wanted* to do. That is something that I will strive for more this year: occasionally, a day off can be just that!

  • I slept until I woke up.
  • I had a nice breakfast with my husband.
  • I puttered in my PJs most of the morning.
  • I grazed for lunch.
  • I watched football.
  • I visited with my mother.
  • I sewed.
  • I embroidered.
  • I drank a beer.
  • I drank another beer.
  • I enjoyed a nice dinner with my husband.
  • I filled in the gaps from my erratic watching of Luther.

I had done some sewing just before Christmas, finally sewing up some burp cloths for the baby -- the materials for which I bought in JULY! They're made from a variety of fat quarters, cut and pieced, cotton terrycloth backing, stitched and turned, with some simple "stitch in the ditch" to join the pieces together.

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2013-12-23_1387837882

I wasn't too terribly particular because, um, BURPING! It was fun to use my mother's old Singer Slant-O-Matic -- the ROCKETEER... it pretty much sews at the speed of light.

1-Alabama-Chanin-bib

Yesterday's sewing was quite different, and has also been in the wings for quite some time -- ever since I purchased and watched Natalie Chanin's Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Applique, Beading, and Embroidery last MARCH on Craftsy.

2-Alabama-Chanin-bib

Since then, I bought the fabric & supplies to make the coat featured in the class, and recently fell hard for the Onesie & Baby Blanket because... well, for a lot of reasons, but the main one being ZIM!

Officially, 10 days. Unofficially, IT COULD BE TODAY! Probably not, but... waiting for Ali's labor to begin may be worse than waiting for my own! Haha. Not really. (That was a long time ago... I can hardly remember that part.)

Thanks to my fairly recent birthday and also Christmas, my collection of Alabama Chanin books is now complete (new books are in the works, but for now I'm up to date). I am well read on the subject and recently reviewed pertinent parts of the Craftsy class (one of the greatest things about it), but I still didn't want the coat -- or even the onesie or baby blanket -- to be my very first hand-sewing project. There's a whole page of free downloadable resources at Alabama Chanin, including a pattern for a baby bib (general assembly instructions here). I finally cut up some clothing items that I'd set aside for just this type of thing.

3-Alabama-Chanin-bib
3-Alabama-Chanin-bib

The printed fabric is from a pair of yoga-lounge pants -- the print is the "right side" of the fabric but was hidden on the inside of the pants! The black fabric is from a knit cardigan that's too big. I didn't realize 'til I was cutting that the cardigan was actually a ribbed knit fabric, but again... BURPING, ETC.! I also have a gigantic dress from J. Jill (oh, it's the background in the photo above) in the "cut pile," but I didn't like the gray with the brown of the pants.

5-Alabama-Chanin-bib
5-Alabama-Chanin-bib

 

I think it turned out great! I couldn't be happier. And I did the whole thing, start-to-finish, while watching the Wisconsin Badgers lose their bowl game -- cutting up the pants/cardigan, marking & cutting the pattern pieces and pulls, loving my thread, needling my thread, and sewing up!

I knew I wasn't going to cut this piece in the signature Alabama Chanin style, but that print was screaming to be embroidered, so pulled out my floss (it's been ages!) and did a bit of embellishing in the evening.

7-Alabama-Chanin-bib
7-Alabama-Chanin-bib
7-Alabama-Chanin-bib

So flippin' fun. I have another already cut and ready to sew... and it will be cut! Practice makes perfect. I love that I can make tiny useful things from clothing I'd otherwise discard while practicing my stitches and other techniques. From now on, cleaning out the closet will be done with a completely different eye!

 

01 January 2014

As we begin again

Rusty and I visited the local pub for a mug and a burger early last evening, planning to spend the rest of the evening in... quiet and cozy... because, baby, it's cold outside! Maybe we'd watch the ball drop, or maybe I'd finish watching the episodes of Luther currently available on Netflix, or maybe we'd hit the hay early.

Then I had an invitation from Ali to go see Saving Mr. Banks at 9:45 -- it was $5 Tuesday at the movies! A date with one of my girlies, plus free popcorn and $2.50 sodas? Perfect!!

I loved the movie. I cried and laughed and cried some more! Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson were terrific -- they nailed it -- all the cast, really. And I enjoyed the back story -- though I couldn't help but think of some parts of the story that were left out, mainly about P.L. Travers' bizarre adoption of one twin but not his brother. But it is, after all, only a moooovie, and an enjoyable one -- as is Mary Poppins, one of my favorites -- flaws and all.

Today, I am doing laundry and making up the bed for KATE! She arrives tomorrow evening, fresh from Hogmanay in Edinburgh! She'll be here for about 10 days and, with any luck, will help to welcome Zim before she departs again. It'll be close.

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Some knitting and maybe some sewing, a little New Year's Day football (Go Badgers!), a visit with Mom... it'll be the usual around here today and, really, that's just fine!

 

31 December 2013

Let there be light.

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2013. It was the best of times, it was the worst.

2014. Will undoubtedly be the same. Hopefully not worser; most certainly BETTER!

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IMG_5120
IMG_5120

In case you've forgotten, January 12th is the official due date... which pretty much means any day in January! Zim could be born on the 1st, share my nephew Daniel's birthday on the 16th, our wedding anniversary on the 20th, sister Annie's birthday on the 23rd, or even my mom's on the 31st!

I was delighted to take some for-the-record photos for Ali & Rod over the weekend. She bought that (perfect) striped dress very early in her pregnancy and we talked about taking monthly photos, as people do; other than a phone pic here & there, that never happened. This is good.

Top-Shelf

We took all of the photos in Zim's nursery. The bookshelf is already well-stocked with reading material, thanks to the "bring a book instead of a card" idea for the baby shower. (Click for big!)

Books1
Books1

Teddy says, "We're ready!!"

Teddy

Happy New Year!!

 

25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Cherub

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays.

 

24 December 2013

Christmas... it's just about here!

I am completely unprepared in some areas of Christmas, and amazingly overprepared in others... some of it is due to the general weirdness of this holiday season, and some is due to the weather.

Yes, I'm blaming the weather.

Anyway, I got up early to get a 7-lb pork roast into the slow cooker for company that is now not coming until after the holidays.

Lactation-cookies-baking-ingredients
Lactation-cookies-baking-ingredients

Thankfully, I know just what to do with a bunch of extra/leftover pulled pork. Along with the Lactation Cookies that I made the other day, they'll help to stock the freezer to help with a few meals after Zim's birth.

I've finished knitting another Cloche Divine! Humorously pictured above, almost finished. I am thrilled with v.2 and will soon be casting on v.3.

Cloche-divine-2

I used (and will use) some stashed Rowan Calmer and it is perfect! I made the medium size this time, made the brim 6 rows deeper, and knit it in the round. I'll do all that again for the next one, but in the large size (and black).

I wish I had more Calmer.

Web-IMG_20131223_133048

Remodeling progress!! Door hardware is being reinstalled today. The only thing left to do is the baseboard trim on the other side... more old monkey business & matching to deal with there. But this side -- the living room side -- the side into which I wished more light to flow... nearly FINITO! It's awesome.

I do believe there's yet one more store stop on my way home today. How about you, ready?

 

 

20 December 2013

Chili All Day

The main reason I cooked our spatchcocked turkey well in advance of Thanksgiving was because I needed to make Turkey Soup for our family gathering after Saturday's baby shower and that's how the timing worked!

It turned out that Maddy was such a huge help with party prep on Saturday morning that I actually had time to run home and get a pot of Chili All Day started before the shower began. I'm so glad I did, too, because even though "turkey soup" is different than roast turkey or turkey sandwiches... it was still only two days after Thanksgiving and some people were turkey-ed out! Guests were gracious and tried both soups, but were very grateful for the non-turkey offering.

The get-together was the perfect cap to a rather drawn out and different Thanksgiving... more like a season than a day, with cake and baby gifts. Maddy, my sister Karen, brother Mike and his wife, Ali and Rodney, Rod's two brothers and their families, and his parents all came over... it was pretty great.

Christmas is going to be drawn out and different this year, too, but I'm sure it will also turn out pretty great!

So, I started writing this post on December 2nd and nearly had a heart attack when I went to link Abbey's Chili All Day recipe, as I have countless times over the years, and found that her long-neglected blog has now been entirely removed! I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later; that original post is from October 2004! Thank goodness for the Wayback Machine! I don't want to depend on that, though, so I'm sharing it here for all time (which is, obviously, a relative term in blogging).

Chili All Day

1 ½ - 2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large onion, diced large
6 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
2 Tbsp. dark chili powder
3 Tbsp. ground cumin (more or less)
2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
¼ tsp.(or more) ground cayenne pepper (if you like it hot)
½ bottle of beer

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of Bush's chili beans w/sauce
2 14 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8 oz. pkg. of sliced mushrooms

In a large pot, over high heat, sauté beef in olive oil until browned. (Or roast it, as I sometimes like to do.)

Add onions and continue to sauté until golden.

Reduce heat to medium and add all spices, stirring well and sauté until garlic is tender, but not browned.

Add beer and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, and sliced mushrooms.

Stir well and let simmer with cover on for 30 minutes or longer (longer is better....the meat will be more tender).

* If the chili is too thick for your taste, add the remaining ½ bottle of beer (if you didn't already drink it).
* If the chili is too thin, add a small can of tomato paste.

Enjoy!

And here is the summarized story of Chili All Day, in a nutshell (because my kids people always ask):

Abbey's kids were getting ready for school one cold morning in 2004, and as they were waking up she told them, "Dress warm because it's going to be chilly all day."

After dropping the kids off at school, Abbey decided that it would be the perfect day to cook a pot roast for dinner.

When she went to pick the kids up from school that afternoon, the first thing her daughter said was, "I can't wait to have chili for dinner!"

Abbey said, "I didn't make chili for dinner."

Her daughter replied, in that pre-teen argumentative tone, "Yes you did! You told me this morning that you were going to make chili all day!"

Ha! If she had made chili that day, she'd have used the recipe shared above.  :)

Bon appetit. And happy weekend! I feel unsettled with a weird work schedule and not really prepared for next week. There's sort of a plan, but it's very loose and then there's the weather throwing a slippery layer of ice and snow on top. It'll work out, I'm sure, and perhaps some clarity will come over the next couple of days. Let's be merry!

 

19 December 2013

Year In Review: 2013

It's that time again! As I've done the last few many years sometime in December, it's time for a review of the year. 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) -- one is not necessarily related to the other.

January:

The last knitting I did in 2012 was a hexagon.

01-January-Houston-airport-terminal
February:

I quickly passed through all of the airport security lines without problem, retrieved my luggage and peeled off the last little bit of "Wisconsin winter" clothing along in the process (except for the leggings and compression knee-highs, which, you can be assured, I took care of ASAP), looking for familiar faces... which I did not see!

02-February-Dois-Irmaos
March:

Perfect morning to head to the beach!

03-March-Cook-in-Rio
April:

Oh. {Hi! Yeah. So remember me? I used to knit.}

04-April-baby-knitting
May:

Obviously, I finished this months ago!

05-May-Roasted-Asparagus-and-Shrimp
June:

On the first of June, my irises bloomed!

06-June-Wedding-Day
July:

I didn't finish them in time for the wedding.

07-July-Mack-Vick-Addy
August:

Here's what's happening for me . . . Right Now!

08-August-Ali-Vicki-Kate
September:

It was not a bad day to be at the market yesterday.

09-September-Wedding-Shawls
October:

When Ali messaged me a few weeks ago that she didn't have anyone available to work the market with me on a particular Saturday, my wheels immediately started in motion.

10-October-Farmer-Market
November:

Day 1. I haven't officially signed on (yet), but it seems a shame not to participate in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) for the fifth straight year -- even though I'm crazy busy today and nothing is coming together on-the-fly quite as I'd like.

11-November-Chevron-Baby-Blanket-Purl-Bee
December:

While I could have drowned Ali with the handknits at her baby shower, I decided to include only the projects I've started *and* finished since learning about Zim!

12-December-Baby-Shower
* * * * *

I like how I stretched the posting of a mid-January week-long visit to Rio all the way into March! That's the way to make a vacation last!! I also travelled in '13 to Chicago and Door County with various of my girls, as well as get-aways to Milwaukee and Lake Geneva with Rusty.

Ali's wedding was the definite highlight of the year! It was so much fun -- and I guess, having just finished that little photo book, that I must like to stretch out and savor the good stuff. Ha.

The baby knitting sort of took over the second half of the year, and now I'm concentrating on hats while I wait for a baby to be born!

 

 

18 December 2013

Baby's Room!

I went over to Ali's on Sunday to see Zim's room! There's been a lot of work in the past couple of months getting this once very dark room in shape for a new baby.

Zims-Room1

Things that can't be seen, such as insulation and heat, have been added, along with some new windows, flooring, and lighting.

Zims-Room2

In a pinch for nursery wall decor? Frame a gift bag. Seriously. This one and the one next to it (above) are gift bags from the baby shower. "Poppies" is an original painting by Aunt Maddy!

Zims-Room3
Zims-Room3

She had a cute arrangement on one of the window ledges, but it's since been replaced by this:

Zim-window

A wonderful stained glass window that was Sharon's. It's been hanging at the coffee shop, but now it'll warm the morning light for Zim. Lovely!

When I was there on Sunday, the crib was in pieces on the living room floor, but my busy-bee daughter went to work and here are the photos she shared on Monday:

Zim-sofa
Zim-sofa

Um, yeah. READY!!

 

17 December 2013

Smooch

Sharon-22-web

I miss you every.single.day.

Sharon Jean / June 15, 1960 - December 17, 2010

 

16 December 2013

Cloche Divine

I love cool-to-execute knitted-in details, such as this bow:

I love cool-to-execute knitted-in details. #knitting

I started this hat on Thursday and finished on Saturday night. I always forget how quick hats are to knit!

Cloche-divine

I have no modeled shot. I knit the smallest size and it's a wee bit small for the recipient, but that's okay! No. 2 will be knit in-the-round and it'll be so much quicker.

I'll also knit the brim just a few rows deeper.

 

15 December 2013

Wedding Photos

I accidentally wrote "Weeding Photos," and it's not far off the mark. Culling through hundreds and hundreds of photos to make a reasonably sized and priced photo book is PURE TORTURE. And, yet, that's how I (almost always) gladly spent most of my weekend.

View larger here (patience).

I didn't even have to take the photos -- granted use of the images taken by my niece, J(ena) Schleis Photography -- it's still an enormous undertaking. For months I've been promising my mother that I'd put together a book for her of photos from Ali's & Rod's wedding... and I finally buckled down.

Such is the glamorous life in photography: I left the house exactly once all weekend; ate cereal for supper on Saturday, tuna out of a can for lunch on Sunday (and a very late lunch, at that, pretty much negating the need for supper); finished a little knitting, watched 5 minutes of the football game, and now...

Waaaaa! I need more weekend!

 

13 December 2013

Whoooosh!

Hear that? It's December flying by at a mile a minute!

Bookmarking The Yarn Whisperer for later listening. I was unable to listen live when Clara Parkes spoke with Anne Strainchamps on 45 North/Wisconsin Public Radio this morning -- the show should soon be posted at the link!

I am looking forward to a fairly low-key weekend. Except for yoga with Ali on Sunday morning, there are no obligations or parties, so I can hunker down and get to some of the other things on my list -- things that I didn't even mention on Tuesday's To-Do List!

  • Finish Cloche Divine -- this project flew in under the radar! I cast on last night, using Rowan Softknit Cotton and, oh my, it is definitely soft! I'm just a few rows in for the main body of the hat, about to begin "bow gathers." It's very fun, so far, even though seed stitch is pretty much "torture" in my book.
  • Dye some yarn!! Or at the very least reacquaint myself with my wool and dye studio -- and get a grip -- there are projects in the hopper!
  • Plan (and possibly begin to make) some cook-ahead meals/soups/stews for the Zim family, and some Lactation Cookies for the new mumma!
  • Knitting Yarns is on the way to Carrie, winner of the random drawing here, but I still have some other mailing to do!
  • ETA:  I need to design and order a small book of wedding photos for my mom! (My sister Ann's photo calendar -- the 3rd or 4th I've made for her -- was finished & ordered last weekend!)
  • I also need to do some sewing!!

Speaking of Zim... I can hardly believe we're on the downhill slide. A month to go!! It's been about that long since we've been to yoga, and Ali said that it was amazing how different her body feels now. Oh, it was so good, though... for both of us.

The baby's room is also nearly complete -- new floor (partially heated), new windows, some insulation, fresh drywall and paint, wall decor -- I can't wait to see it all finished! A nice, comfy couch will be moved in and it's going to be so warm and cozy.

I'm still working on Pepita, but ripped a bunch after discovering that my gauge was off even worse than I thought. I guess I knit about a million stitches per inch with fingering weight yarn on size 0 needles! I did a little fudging so I didn't have to completely rip it out, and the math to figure out how to proceed, but it is slooooow going. After the finishing flurry of November, I feel like a real slacker.

Heh.

Hey, have a great weekend!

 

10 December 2013

Ten on Tuesday: To Do!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On My To-Do List Right Now!

1.  Yoga! Tomorrow morning right before hair appointment? Maybe. Thursday evening & Sunday morning with Ali, for sure! I really need to get back in the groove.

2.  Mail call! There are two or three packages to ready for mail pick up.

3.  Book club! Party tomorrow night.

4.  I need a book for the gift exchange at aforementioned party.

5.  Knitting group! Party next Tuesday night.

6.  I need a gift to exchange at that party, too; it probably won't be a handknit!

7.  Shopping! Maybe? I think there are a few things I need to buy... It's another nontraditional holiday season around here, and it's sort of hard to wrap my head around it and get a grip on everyone's timeline. There might be one day after the New Year when all three kids are here, so I guess I need to figure that out and plan around it.

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8.  Finish our little remodeling project! Framing is done, drywall is up, plastering is underway. Unfortunately, circumstances (ductwork) dictate that there will be only two doors, not three as I'd hoped and dreamed. If there's one thing I've learned in all these years of old house remodeling, it's how to roll with the punches and understand limitations and pick my battles. That's more than one thing. It could probably be done... ductwork can be moved... but in this particular instance it's not worth it. You can't always get what you want. Don't worry, be happy.

9.  Baby stuff! The childbirth classes are over, the baby shower is over, and now all that's left is the waiting... knitting, waiting, knitting, waiting... it's a HUGE DISTRACTION! I wouldn't trade it for the world... already the world is revolving around this baby!

10.  There will be life after Zim and, as much as I hate the thought of being away from him/her, there's a vacation to the Scottish Highlands to plan! Spring or summer? I'm leaning toward spring... later than our last visit to the UK, but not yet full-on summer tourist season. Oh, I do love to plan a good trip.

06 December 2013

US 0

US 0 needles... I have quite a few but this may be my first actual project using them. #knittingforzim #imaybeinsane

I have an amazing number of size US 0 double-points, considering that I've never finished a project that uses them!

Looks like that'll change! It's Martina Behm's Pepita, using the little bit of leftover yarn from the baby leggings and some of my dyed sock yarn.

 

04 December 2013

The walls come tumblin' down

Indeed. Here's the before:

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That's a drawing of Sharon on the left that Maddy did about 3 years ago; a collaborative project of Katie's & Rusty's from several years ago on the right. Until last week, there was a tall Globe Wernicke Art-Mission bookcase between them.

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I'm really glad we placed those recessed lights correctly for this project that, at the time, we had no clue was coming.

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The plan was for three french hens doors (I couldn't banish the thought of Harvey Wallbangers this morning, either) but, alas, and as adamant as I'd like to be, measurements and, more importantly, duct work, dictates that it will only be two.

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Or an inch taken off of each side of all three doors in order for them to fit. The one on the right? Someone lopped off a big hunk at the top and then crudely stuck it back on... so that one will be eliminated. I don't know -- I go back and forth. I really wanted three doors. These are 1st World/Old House problems. There will be some reconfiguring.

Meanwhile...

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I think that gypsum board was scented -- it was very perfume-y.

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I was in charge of clean up.

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And the views!! Trippy. We've never ever.

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Naturally, there are artifacts! It's one of my favorite parts of remodeling an old house.

From the quality of the work, it's been decided that the original doors were removed and the hole closed up a) in a hurry and/or b) begrudgingly. It's the poorest workmanship we've seen here... and we've seen a lot!  :)

Stay tuned!

* * * * *

CONTEST HERE!

* * * * *

03 December 2013

Ten on Tuesday: Hit the high spots

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Housekeeping Shortcuts

This may seem like a silly topic to some, but it occurred to me late last week when I was in the throes of cleaning my house, coming down to the wire with a million things to do, and feeling desperate... so I suggested it to Carole.

You see, not only did I throw a baby shower on Saturday, I had the BRILLIANT idea to invite all of the families up to our house afterwards -- most of them for the first time!

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Though I grumbled and wondered how I could do such a stupid thing, I realized that it actually was quite brilliant because now my house is clean and spiffy and ready for the holidays! We'll dirty it up a little tomorrow when we bash through a wall, but the dust will soon settle (and, plus, that's so exciting!!).

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My house is actually cleaner and more put together now than it's been in years. We've had an extended period where the kids -- and their stuff -- have been fluid and unsettled, shifting between living situations, and a whole lotta stuff landed in temporary storage at our house. With only so many places to go, a fair bit ended up invading our living space and, well, it didn't look that great.

Nor did it inspire.

My mother keeps an immaculate house -- with help; at one time "the help" was my siblings and me -- so I've been very well trained. That training has served me very well over the years, but I use it as seldom as possible. I love a clean house, and sometimes get in the groove, but I generally hate housecleaning.

Even with a house that to most of us would seem ready for a House Beautiful photo shoot at any given moment, there were (and are) times that my mom's house was less than perfect, so every once in a while, when company was on the way and time was limited, she'd give us each a room and say...

1.  Hit the high spots! We'd do a quick pick up & dusting of the things most visible -- only the tops of the tables, not the bases or legs.

2.  Clean off & wipe countertops. I've been using Meyer's or Watkins spray cleaner -- wonderful scents!

3.  Load the dishwasher.

4.  Sweep/vac the floor and shake the rugs. We have mostly hardwood and four cats. Regular furball battles are a given.

5.  Gather up everything in a room that doesn't belong. Part of my battle was/is finding a place for everything. We've removed some storage in readiness for wall-bashing and, while I'm a firm believer in "a place for everything and everything in its place," getting there can be torture.

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6.  Related to the above, if I pick something up and have to think too hard about it, I get rid of it!! My constant companion has been a bag/box/basket designated for giving away, and we've made a ridiculous number of trips to various donation sites. I also took a load of books to Half-Price Books and walked away with some cash!

7.  Multi-task. After a morning flush, I squirt in the toilet cleaner. I wash up & brush my teeth, apply powder/blush/mascara. Before leaving the room, I swish the toilet bowl and flush again -- hardly any extra effort.

8.  I've also been wiping the bathroom sink & mirror with more regularity. It seems to help.

9.  Oh, I'm exhausted!

10.  I think my next shortcut is going to be hiring some regular help!! I've had it in the past, but it's been ages. Now is the time!

* * * * *

CONTEST HERE!

* * * * *

02 December 2013

It's December -- and a contest!

It's on to other things! I've actually been reading something other than -- or, rather, in addition to -- books about childbirth and labor support. 

Knittingyarns

I recently received two copies of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, edited by Ann Hood -- one to keep myself and one to give away! I was only vaguely aware of this book a while back, and then read Barbara Kingsolver's "yarn" in the November/December issue of Orion magazineWhere It Begins -- I love this part about friends:

It begins with the circle of friends. There is always something beyond your beyond, the aged parents and teenager who crack up the family cars on the selfsame day, the bone-picked divorce, the winter of chemo, the gorgeous mistake, the long unraveling misery that needs company, reading glasses and glasses of wine and all the chairs pulled into the living room. Project bags bulge like sacks of oranges, ripe for beginning. Cast on, knit two together girlfriendwise. Rip it, pick up the pieces where you can, along the headless yoke or scandalously loose button placket, pick up and knit. Always, you will have to keep two projects going: first, the no-brainer stockinette that can run on cruise control when the talk is delicious. And the other one, the brainer, a maddening intarsia or fussy fair-isle you’ll save for the day when the chat gets less interesting, though really it never does. Knitting only makes the talk go softer, as long as it needs to be, fondly ribbed and yarned-over, loosely structured or not at all, with embellishment on every edge. Laughter makes dropped stitches.

"Cast on, knit two together girlfriendwise...."

I never thought I'd like knitting in a group with other people, and now I can't imagine not knitting with friends! My knit night attendance has been scarce of late, but that's life... and it will change.

Anyway, the list of authors is amazing, naming a scant few more of my favorites: Elizabeth Berg, Jane Smiley, "our own" Ann Shayne, and even Andre Dubus III! I've barely begun because, you know, there's still childbirth and labor support happening in a few weeks, but it is a nice respite from that -- even, in a way, a part of it because many of these are stories about knitting and how it helps us get through.

I am pretty sure I'll be knitting while helping Ali through her labor and delivery and, then, in the following days, I'm sure it will help to keep my head and heart from exploding all over the room as the reality of my first grandchild sinks in... that I'm a grandmother, and that Ali is a mother, too. Ka-BOOM!

Alphabet-scottieOne more shower photo - a slightly better look at the adorable alphabet sleeper and scottie dog hat direct from Aunt Kate in Edinburgh!

So, it's a wonderful book and I am savoring it, and I can't wait to share! With five knitting patterns by Helen Bingham, as well, it would make a wonderful gift for a knitter -- and I'll get it to you in plenty of time for Christmas giving (or to keep for yourself).

And there will almost certainly be yarn.

* * * * *

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT ON THIS POST!

Share a tip for a new mama & papa AND/OR tell me your favorite holiday movie!

Deadline is Friday, December 6th at 11:59 pm CST.

A winner will be drawn at random from all comments on this post.

Tell your friends.  :)

* * * * *

(Meanwhile, I can't wait to hear whether LoLa will be in The Big Game!!)

01 December 2013

Baby Shower

While I could have drowned Ali with the handknits at her baby shower, I decided to include only the projects I've started *and* finished since learning about Zim!

Not the ones I've knit & stashed over the years.

Not the ones I started years ago and finished in the last 6 months.

Not the ones I've started in the last 6 months but haven't finished.

(There's an alarming number of all!)

There was a minor panic when I couldn't find all of the items that I wanted to include in the shower gift -- with all of the shuffling and rearranging around here, I put them someplace "safe." I knew they were somewhere and persevered, finding them all together in the yarn cupboard. So, meeting the criteria, there was this:

Chevron Baby Blanket

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garter yoke baby cardi

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Chunky Hoodie

I chuckled to myself as I finished the bonnet and sewed the buttons on the hoodie the other night, Kay's recent comment on an Instagram post echoing in my head while I added them to the stack.

"I'm worried this child will not have empathy for those who wear ordinary clothes."

And I must admit, even I began to wonder whether having a grandmother who likes to knit is really such a good thing!!

I've given it some thought over the past few days and have concluded that until Zim can voice his/her opinion and/or make his/her own wardrobe choices, IT DEFINITELY IS A GOOD THING!!

I will take full advantage of my woolly window of opportunity.

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The shower was so much fun! I've only ever been to two and barely had one, myself, so I just winged it with input from Ali and inspiration from Pinterest. Maddy helped me with putting together favors and prizes, decorations and decorating, and it all turned out quite nice.

I really do have fun planning things... whether it's a trip to Vegas or Scotland, a wedding or a baby shower... find a theme, set some guidelines, and GO!

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Here's one photo of Ali from the shower. She's holding a little knit cap that Katie sent from... why, Scotland, of course!! In her lap is an ADORABLE one-piece with the ABCs all over it. Katie wrote that she couldn't resist, and that it reminded her of the sort of thing their Nana would buy for them. So true. My mother always found the cutest clothes for her grands.

 

30 November 2013

It seems only fitting....

...that there are two FOs today -- just in time for Ali's baby shower this afternoon!

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Katie left this yarn behind when she moved to Scotland, so I looked for a project. I loved the color and sometimes chunky looks so cute on little. I knit the jacket in the 12-month size, and found the buttons in my stash.

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The bonnet is knit flat with a small seam up the back; the chin strip worked separately and attached. It's apparently both vintage & modern! I like that. Either way, warm baby head.

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

VoteLoLa.com!

NaBloPoMo is a wrap!

OK! I'm off to make final preparations!!

 

29 November 2013

Chevron Baby Blanket

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  • Project:  Chevron Baby Blanket from Whit's Knits at The Purl Bee
  • Yarn:  Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller "Washable Ewe" (discontinued) - 2 skeins each of Dragonfly, Robin's Egg, and Duckling
  • Needle:  US 8
  • Start to Finish:  July 29 - November 27, 2013

Chevron Baby Blanket

I suppose that if I was the very best Nana in the world, I'd give Parcheesi to Zim; instead, we'll snuggle under it together at my house.

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The overall size is 28" x 38" -- basically "stroller" size. It's shown atop my queen-size bed.

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I knit an entire skein each of Dragonfly (dark teal), Duckling (yellow), and Robin's Egg (light teal) to begin; I then knit up another skein of both Duckling and Robin's Egg in a random stripe pattern; finishing with another skein of Dragonfly -- two skeins of each color.

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I've already washed it and dried it -- using cold water and the Permanent Press cycle in my front-loading washer, and medium-low heat in the dryer. It softened up a little and even has a little bit of halo.

Chevron Baby Blanket

 Beanie Baby giraffe for scale. And because he's my favorite.

 

28 November 2013

Thankful

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. family & friends!

Happy Thursday to "the internationals."  :)

 

27 November 2013

Soup's on!

We are doing Thanksgiving completely out of order this year, what with making the spatchcocked turkey already on Sunday, and tonight (Thanksgiving Eve) there's turkey soup on the stove.

Tomorrow, it's lasagna on our Thanksgiving table again. That's twice now -- not in a row, and not with full approval, but that's what's happening. We have the turkey thing covered!

Cara told me once that if you do a thing three times in a row (like go to Rhinebeck) then it's a tradition. Almost, not quite... I really wouldn't mind.

There will be pumpkin pie. That's the most important tradition! :)

* * * * *

I started my day cutting out paper onesies for baby shower decoration.

I made turkey soup.

And two trips to two grocery stores, one to Target, and other various stops.

Picked up Mom and took her to physical therapy (an issue with her shoulder -- it's getting better), and then to do a little shopping.

Did a lot of cleaning -- Maddy's here and what began as your basic cleaning/organizing has now turned EPIC.

She also helped with me with a BUNCH of baby shower stuff.

Soup's on and I'm hungry.

Hope your day went well!!

* * * * *

VoteLoLa

Once a day (voting ends on Dec. 1st):   VoteLoLa.com!

 

26 November 2013

Ten on Tuesday: To Be Thankful

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things For Which I Am Thankful

1.  I am thankful that I have a husband who can -- and likes to -- do things... and who indulges (most of) my little whims, even when it means bashing a big hole through a wall. We have been do-ers together from Day 1!

One of my goals for today, getting the soon-to-be-installed French doors from the other side of the wall to this. They'll need some time in the basement before all is said and done, but this is good for now. #remodeling

There will soon be a hole in the wall where those doors are leaning -- for those doors to be installed!

2.  I am thankful that Katie is able to follow her dreams (and earn her Master's at the same time) in Scotland. And that she'll soon be home for a visit. And that the possibility of visiting her there next summer is still very real.

3.  I am thankful that Alison is a happy married lady and soon-to-be mum. To see and feel her happiness is... always amazing.

4.  I am thankful that Maddy has found her path. It's a little longer than she'd like and there have been some bumps, but she is getting it done. Her excitement about teaching is infectious.

5.  I am thrilled -- and thankful, of course -- that I will not only become a grandma as the new year begins, but that I will have (hopefully) helped & supported Ali and Rod through the process, and that I will be part of Zim's welcoming committee.

6.  I am thankful for ALL of my family -- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Due to the natural ebb and flow of relationships, there are various measures of connectedness at any given time, but we are connected to the core and I wouldn't be the same without every last one.

7.  I am especially thankful for the makers among them, and for their inspiration. I am grateful that from an early age I had a full arsenal of tools at my disposal for making all sorts of things -- and people willing to teach me how. Sewing, embroidery, knitting, cooking, painting, quilting, basket-making, furniture building... the list goes on.

8.  I am thankful that my mother taught me how to knit. Where in the world would I be without knitting? I bought an Elizabeth Zimmermann "Quote Tote" from Schoolhouse Press a few years ago: Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises. It is so true! My tote is a little different from the current version, and I think quite a bit bigger, so I only use it for big projects -- but those are exactly the types of projects I choose when there's a crises to knit through!

9.  I am thankful for blogging, which stems directly from knitting, and all that it's brought to my life. I am thankful for you, dear reader. Thank you for following along... reading, writing, and often encouraging me with whatever my whim-of-the-day, including spatchcocked turkeys!

10.  I am thankful for my hearth and home. I have been wrangling quite a bit lately with stuff and trying to reconfigure things -- not easy -- but I am grateful that I have a home that I love, near to so many of the people that I love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

25 November 2013

Golden deliciousness

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The process is not for the squeamish, but I channeled my inner Julia Child and muscled through. A good, sturdy kitchen shears is a must. That's the turkey right out of the oven. I transferred it on the rack to another pan and tented with foil, as directed, and after a :20 rest began to carve.

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I will never cook a turkey any other way again. It was SO quick to cook, with none of incessant basting & worrying -- and I didn't get sick of it while it was still in the oven -- and it was SO much easier to carve, as well. Unless you're a family that makes big show of the carving-at-the-table (and we never ever were), I can't think of a good reason to roast a turkey any other way.

A co-worker told me today that he spied spatchcocked turkeys for sale at a local grocery chain; I have previously seen spatchcocked chickens available there.

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In other news, I've begun the last color/section of Zim's knitted blanket and should have it finished just in time for the baby shower on Saturday afternoon!

 

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