It's a cherub on mom's front porch for Macro May!
Or it could be the calm before the storm.
Or is it a spring-time cold?
I had to laugh this morning when I read the part about Macro May in Carole's post, and that she was trying hard not to make all of her pictures of bugs and flowers this time. It's so hard in May, after a long winter (and even longer spring, it seemed), when everything is blooming... and when bugs are all over the flowers! Haha.
I always love how fast the bleeding heart grows.
Less than a month from sprout to bloom. It's an enormous plant (will be), with many volunteers, that my sister shared with me several years ago from her yard in Madison.
Yesterday, Mom suggested we try to walk down and check out what's happening in her wildflower garden; the big motivator, however, may have been removal of the dead Christmas wreath hanging on the picket fence by the garden house!
And I was delighted not to have missed the Dutchmen's Breeches! They are tiny and so fleeting.
You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.
Ten on Tuesday: 10 Reasons Why I Knit
1. Knitting keeps my hands busy. I cannot imagine idle hands. I put knitting aside in favor of counted cross-stitch samplers for a while in the late '80s and early '90s, finding that sort of project to be more portable and easier to segment, at the time, but I was always anxious to get back to knitting!
2. Knitting keeps me company. I learned to knit as a child and did a little knitting during my high school years, but it was when I moved to Oregon in the early '80s that I became a knitter. It wouldn't really be much of an exaggeration to say that it saved me! I was pretty lonely out there, and knitting was my BFF for a while! Come to think of it, I was knitting in high school for the same reason, though wasn't challenging myself then nearly as much as in Oregon (and neither was I as lonely).
3. Knitting keeps my brain busy. Well, knitting keeps my brain as busy as it needs to be on any given day/hour/minute! I always have a few projects in process, usually of various types and degrees of difficulty.
Parcheesi (Parcheesi Afghan by Janine Bajus)
4. Knitting satisfies my need to be creative. I love that I can exercise my creativity in so many ways with knitting -- from choosing and/or arranging colors to making pattern modifications, and even dabbling in rudimentary design!
5. Knitting helps my social life. Oh, how I could have used a Stitch 'n Bitch in Oregon! Thankfully, knitting groups are not hard to find -- or form -- these days, and I'm happy to have many local options, and to have made some good friends. I love a group for the variety of people and personalities, which translates to a variety of interests and projects! And then there's blogging -- which I began doing because of knitting -- and have made friends all over the world because of it! I am very fortunate that I've even been able to meet and spend time with some of them.
6. Knitting is challenging! One of the beautiful things about knitting -- and probably one of the reasons why it doesn't get old -- is that the range of projects is staggering. And they just keep coming...
7. I love the process of knitting. I've made no secret of that! I have numerous projects at various stages in the process because it is precisely that -- The Process -- that interests me most. I just love to DO it.
Diaper Cover (Wool Diaper Cover by Studio Tuumat Oy)
8. Knitting is satisfying! It wouldn't be very motivating if I never finished anything, so I have become more careful is selecting projects (some, at least) that I know will be finished. I've found baby & kid things to be quick and satisfying morsels, though they also need to be carefully selected because there can be an enormous amount of (fiddlly) finishing involved!
Dolores (Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta)
9. I love the product of knitting. I knit mostly for myself, and I wear my knits! Shawls, scarves, cowls, and mitts are among the "satisfying" knits that I am likely to finish (usually because they require very little "finishing"), and I wear one or more of the above every single day in the winter months! At home, I'm likely to wrap up in a handknit blanket and wear me-made wool socks or slippers, as well! I live in a wool house!
10. Knitting relieves stress. A day without knitting is a very rare thing 'round here.
Maybe. But it's a cute one.
I sure love this blank-canvas pattern! I've been having fun with the color blocking, and it's a great way to use up little bits. Not that I am in desperate need of another scrappy project but, you know, one can only make so many blue hexi-not-puffs!
Having nothing but intensive lace projects in my bag, I may even have cast on a third at Knit Night last Thursday. Why, yes, I did just happen to have the correct needles and yarn along.
Middle size this time. No rush.
I've not been shirking other duties! The knitting for BOTH wedding shawls -- Mexican Wedding and Frambuesa -- was completed over the weekend!! I am very excited. I have a lot of fingering weight left and think I could have knit the larger size of Frambuesa.
T-minus 40 days... Will she or won't she?
Obviously, I finished this months ago! It was a fun little project -- a quick knit, perfect for last-minute gift-giving. I was afraid I'd run out of yarn, but had some left over and may have been able to do the larger size. I love this color.
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Wanted to share this amazingly simple and delicious recipe that I made a while back, especially now that it's spring... otherwise known as Fresh Asparagus Season! I pick up an extra bag or two or three of frozen (uncooked, shell-on) shrimp when they're on sale at the store and it's so nice to have them in the freezer. I almost think of shrimp as "fast," because they thaw fairly quickly and actually make a good last-minute option, you know, for when I'm not thinking ahead.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS & SHRIMP
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Wash and trim asparagus, arrange on half of the paper-lined baking sheet.
Peel and devein the shrimp, if necessary. The shell-on shrimp I most often buy have the shells on but are already deveined, so the shells are already cut and very easy to remove.
Drizzle all with 2-3 T. oil -- coconut or olive, your choice.
Season with salt and pepper, some other herbs if you're in the mood.
Lightly stir or shake the pan a bit so that everything is fairly evenly distributed. Pop into the oven for 20# or until done. The shrimp will be opaque, the asparagus roasted and tender.
Oh, so yummy!
It's quite possibly what's for dinner.
Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I'm Looking Forward To In May
The months fly by, don't they? Maybe by taking a minute to really think about what's happening in May, it won't seem like it went *poof* a month from now when June's barrelling down.
1. Hair cut (more likely, trim) tomorrow! I will also be auditioning -- or at least discussing -- the hairstyle that I have in mind for the wedding.
Yummy custom-made salad with ham-wrapped pickles.
2. Dinner with Alison's future in-laws tomorrow night!
4. Visitors from Oregon, their daughter (a sometime guest at our house) graduating from Lawrence University this year and they'll be here over the Mother's Day weekend for her recital.
5. Mother's Day!
6. Maddy's last day of school on the 17th!
7. The Master Gardeners' Annual Plant Sale on the 18th.
8. Hopefully, an overnighter to Milwaukee for an art opening, premiere of an animated music video (by my cousin's husband) featuring music from the Tritonics new single “Smoky Places,” and after-party. Just because... it sounds like fun!
The middle of the month is very busy!!
9. Memorial Day!
10. My knitting goal for May will be to finish the two shawls that I'm working on for the wedding... and NOT start another baby sweater. Heh. I'm more than half-way on Mexican Wisconsin Wedding and made a good start on Frambuesa last night. Second try! There's errata, for one thing, and some wonkiness regarding stitch marker placement and repeats... I just move them around as needed and "read" my knitting -- as long as it reads correctly, I'm good. The markers are eventually removed. I already know that I'm going to LOVE this shawl!
BONUS: 11. I've ramped up the dyeing a tiny bit in the last month or so, the impetus being some fun custom orders and projects! Oh, I miss it!! As things continue to improve and progress in other areas of life, I intend to be doing much more of that beginning in May.
Wow, did we have a gorgeous weekend! I took my mother to the drug store on Saturday so she could purchase some birthday cards and whatnot, and along the way she remarked that it was surprising so few people were out doing yard work. I think with spring so stingy this year, everyone was out doing their best to ENJOY our good weather!
I pumped up the tires and took a short ride on my bike yesterday -- PERFECT biking weather. It was only 5.5 miles, and just enough so that I "felt" the ride but wasn't crippled by it. Heh.
Bleeding hearts emerge.
Wimpy volunteer crocus in my back yard.
Gorgeous crocuses in my mother's neighbor's front yard!
What's up with you?
Happy 22nd birthday, Madeleine!! And thank you for having a relatively normal year ahead! I am looking forward to more adventure and excitement... just happy it's not this year!
And with that, "birthday week" is a wrap for another year!
Mom's late '50s wedding dress has been cleaned, examined, pulled apart a bit, sewn up some... and now the real work begins! The stays have been replaced, a possible replacement "crinoline" found, ideas hatched... and others ditched.
One of the reasons I've lagged on the fingerless gloves is because I wanted to compare the various "white" yarns I have secured with the newly cleaned "white" dress. There are approximately 1,000,000 shades of white; did you know?
Meanwhile, pearls have appeared and may be favored. It'll be summer... feeling late spring-ish, anyway... and I think the gauntlets are out... but the shawl is still in, so I'd better get to work. And Julia has just released Frambuesa, another lovely shawl, and I think I'm going to also make that -- either for myself or Ali -- using some Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock that I dyed at the same time and matches the yarn I'm using for Mexican Wedding.
We can change our minds like that.
And we may even change them some more!
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Fitting with the topic today is Joan McGowan-Michael's Craftsy class released today: Online Knitting Class: Feminine Fit. Also, I have just signed up for Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter and can't wait to start!
The book's already on the way!
Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Sweater Patterns
I have more than a few sweaters knit up and presently awaiting finishing. I love to knit sweaters, and I even love to wear them, but finishing is something else.
I could be the poster girl for The World-Wide Association of Process Knitters!
Eventually, I'll find a groove or get a bug and then it's full-steam ahead to the end. You just never know when...
Possibly because I am a process knitter, my mental queue is always growing. Interesting (not necessarily complicated) shapes and techniques always draw me in. These 10 are among the most recent sweater (or vest) patterns I've added to my Ravelry Favorites list... a list that is always changing!
1. Sara - by Marita Rolin, amirisu - Spring 2013. Cap sleeves, pockets... in contrasting color. Summer uniform?
2. Abalone - by Beata Jezek, Hedgehog Fibers. Simple & seamless. I like that.
3. Miss Jane - by Georgie Hallam. Three-quarter length sleeves and simple, simple, simple!
4. Double-Take Tee - by Espace Tricot. I'm pretty sure I could wear this out in a summer - perfect for throwing over... just about anything!
7. Oconee - by Jamie Thomas. Interesting construction with very little "finishing" required, and it looks like it would knit up super fast.
8. Rhadamanthys - by Jennifer Dassau. Perfect for a process knitter, this is knit in one piece with no seaming or finishing required. It's knit entirely in garter stitch, which I also love. Why am I not knitting this right now?
9. Circlet Cardigan - by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence, Knitpicks. Texture!
10. Wayside Lace Cardigan - by Schoppel-Wolle Design Team, Skacel Fiber Studio. This just looks like a big comfy hug!
What about you?
It's her 28th birthday today! Happy Birthday, Katie! I love you so much, and am so excited for your big year ahead!!
My daughters celebrated their birthdays together over the weekend, also carrying on the tradition of Sister Weekend begun some years ago by my sisters and me! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Love my girls!
I had my more-or-less annual check-up at the doc's office last week. It was the glucose result on the lipid profile from last year's exam that started me to look at and think about my diet from a different perspective... traditional dietary guidelines were just.not.working.
So, let's compare, shall we? My highest-ever weight was recorded in early March of last year and I've officially (on the doctor's scale) lost 44 pounds since then (most of that in the last 7 months).
My glucose was "high" last March; a 6-month check was ordered and by October it had gone down, though I was sort of bummed then that it wasn't a more dramatic reduction. I was looking forward to last week's result and, though I know I am healthier and feel better than I have in years, I was a little disappointed again that it had only gone down one more point. My doc talked about that stupid prediabetes class again. I'm sure it's not stupid at all... perhaps very helpful for some... but I just don't wanna.
Glucose: 106 - March 2012
Glucose: 103 - October 2012
Glucose: 102 - April 2013
Honestly, I think I just don't like my doc so much. She's nice enough and was genuinely happy when I pointed out that I'd lost 44 pounds in the past year... but I had to point it out. Bleh. I realize that this is only the second time we've met and she was ready to give birth the first time but, ya know, maybe take a peek at the chart as you walk through the door, just a quick check of the vitals. Then I get mad that it seems like I have to change doctors every time I change insurance because the cost is constantly rising and my wage is not, and then I just get pissed off about everything, so let's get back to those numbers and the parts that I like!
My cholesterol is high -- higher than it's ever been! Total cholesterol and LDL have both jumped, but I eat a fair amount of high-fat foods, though, so that's neither surprising nor alarming. It's all context. HDL (the good) has taken a giant leap, triglycerides and VLDL are low, as is the cholesterol/HDL ratio. Including numbers from my first-ever panel in 1999 (because they were on the report!) (I was 40).
Standard: Cholesterol <200, LDL <100, HDL >39, Triglyceride <150, Ratio <4.5.
Cholesterol: 194 - May 1999
Cholesterol: 216 - March 2012
Cholesterol: 245 - April 2013
LDL: 119 - May 1999
LDL: 131 - March 2012
LDL: 140 - April 2013
HDL: 63 - May 1999
HDL: 68 - March 2012
HDL: 91 - April 2013
Triglyceride: 58 - May 1999
Triglyceride: 83 - March 2012
Triglyceride: 72 - April 2013
VLDL: 12 - May 1999
VLDL: 17 - March 2012
VLDL: 14 - April 2013
Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.1 - May 1999
Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.2 - March 2012
Chol/HDL Ratio: 2.7 - April 2013
BMI: 35.94 - March 2012
BMI: 28.76 - April 2013
Giant leaps. And in other news, my follow-up mammogram was fine and I'm back on an annual schedule, and nothing unusual was found in the ultrasound about which I wasn't worried but am quite relieved.
Next up (don't yell): Colonoscopy. I haven't had one yet.
My stepdad buried his eldest son yesterday. Joey was 45 and his dad asked that we all be more diligent in getting those regular, early diagnostic tests done.
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On a lighter note, I'm so happy I upgraded my phone in December so I could start using Instagram! And also, dual-view camera again! I noticed a lot of selfies as I flipped through photo files in Brazil and had to laugh! I've continued to take a few here and there. Also, have posted an Instagram photo every day this year, so far, except for two. Not bad.
1. I was in my swimming suit all day today. I don't think that's happened since I was 9. #riodejaneiro #brazil #beachbum, 2. Way up high. Pao de Acucar. #brazil #day3 #haveimentionedthatthisissimplyamazing, 3. Nice way to spend a morning. #sao conrado #rio, 4. With the boys at Escada de Selaron. #amazingriodejaneiro #selaronsadness, 5. Let's spice things up., 6. I *am* sorry about my neck, but hello collarbones! I didn't think we'd ever see each other again., 7. You're not the only one, @january_one! After a visit to the salon today, I feel pretty, too! #magic, 8. Low Tide., 9. Good LavAzza Morning with @lovenotwarhol. Mmm, Caffe Americano., 10. Favorite double-duty knitted object... both blanket and shawl. #constantwintercompanion #iwillmissit #readyforspring, 11. Outside and not needing to be zipped up all the way. It could be spring is coming. #smallpleasures, 12. How low can she go? Lowest weight in 8 years... skinny jeans & boots (cold snowy ick outside today). So happy.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
I am trying to find it. Maybe I need to dance it out!
Meanwhile, let's start with the weather and get that out of the way.
On the 4th of this month, I deemed it necessary to take a picture of the outside temperature reading on my dashboard. Momentous occasion!!
In that order. Sheesh. One of my benchmarks for April weather has always been Ali's birthday -- 26 years ago today it was the day before Easter. I'd been in the hospital for 2.5 days and, in that time, watched the leaves pop OPEN. I went home on Easter and we had dinner outside. It was, perhaps, slightly above average, but I know what is possible in the middle of April... and it can be so much better than this!!
Heh. See you tomorrow.
It's my sweet girl's 26th birthday today! And Charlie Chaplin's, too!
Happy Birthday, Alison! I love you so much, and am excited about the big year ahead!!
Winter is just not letting loose its grip! Nothing about 2013 is like last year, or even "normal." I'm just working at keeping it together day-to-day.
Bleeding hearts in my garden at this time last year!
With that great set up (and thanks to Kym), here's what's holding together in my life . . . RIGHT NOW.
Watching: Call The Midwife, Elementary, Blue Bloods; I like Hawaii Five-O for background music and occasional eye candy; loved House of Cards on Netflix; if I had cable, I'd surely be watching Madmen (I just finished a marathon catching-up of last season); if I lived in the U.K., I'd be watching The Great British Sewing Bee.
Sewing! I've been threatening for the past few years to really get my sewing maching humming. I have the pieces for a quilt all cut out and ready to go, but now it'll be a race to see whether that pulls me in before I'm completely overcome by the hand-sewing/embellishing craze.
I recently signed up for Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Applique, Beading and Embroidery on Craftsy. Not an inexpensive class, I watched the whole series over a couple-few days on my lunch hour and can't believe how much I learned about sewing! There's a great Donna Karan jacket pattern included in the price, and a one-time discount on kit or project materials from Alabama Chanin. (I took advantage of an even deeper discount on April Fool's Day for some of my materials. I'm in no particular rush, and there's much to do before I needle my thread, so I'll just keep watch for further promotions.) It's the finer details and geeky stuff that has me totally pumped about hand sewing, not to mention a serious Alabama/Natalie Chanin love affair going on over here.
Knitting: Mindless is in order much of the time right now, so another color-blocked Vintage Baby Cardigan is on the needles. I have plans for more!
I should be knitting wedding things. I've stalled half-way on the shawl. I made a mistake resulting in the need to start Ali's gauntlets over. I never quite got the attendants' off the ground... problems with procuring suitable materials... there's still a chance for it all to come together; we'll see. Ali's are the priority.
Listening to: Justin Timberlake. Macklemore. Rhianna.
Thinking about: Alison's wedding.
Dreading: The idea of cleaning out my studio/office/junk room in preparation for a little remodeling project. This little project will result in a big (and overdue) paint job in our living area and some major rearranging of a few spaces.
Planning: An overnighter in Milwaukee next month. A quick trip to Lake Geneva later in summer. Not quite in planning mode for Scotland, but soon.
Celebrating: Small accomplishments and little victories.
Drinking: Coconut water.
Itching to: Go outside without a jacket on; opening windows and doors!
Needing to: Get some things ship-shape for upcoming company. (Some of these projects make me feel like a candidate for Hoarders.)
How about YOU? What's up with you?
It's another FO!
I needed a quick fix and wanted mindless knitting. I saw a sample of this little sweater at my LYS (Iris Fine Yarns) and was intrigued by both the simplicity and the construction.
I really didn't have any specific yarn in mind when I bought the pattern, but the stash is quite plentiful in the fingering-weight department so I wasn't worried. When I spotted my Color Affection leftovers, I knew it would be perfect for a sophisticated, nontraditional baby cardi!
Knitting from the bottom up, I worked one garter ridge in black and then switched to red, using up all but a couple of yards. I reserved only enough to crochet a few button loops or the like if necessary. (Now it'll get completely used up in a hexi-not-puff).
The pattern gives the option and direction for either a center or an off-center opening, and for closure with buttons or bows, etc. The choice was definitely off-center for me, but the manner of closure wasn't clear until the very end.
I have had a little Fibonacci-on-the-brain lately, even thinking about knitting a new one for myself to correct some of the mistakes I made with the first. I love my Fib, but it's a bit too wide and a bit too short and the buttonholes are weirdly placed. I decided to get my fix by doing a little Fibonacci-inspired sequencing (1-2-3) to stripe the gray and black yarns on the top part of the sweater.
I'd overlooked the very first instruction to slip the first stitch of every row and, combined with the color changes, the edge ended up looking pretty messy. The off-center opening drawing attention to that area even without buttons or bows, which would only draw more focus, I really had to come up with an idea to clean that up.
After finding the perfect buttons at Iris -- twice, I might add, because I bought them once and then lost them (somewhere in my house or a project bag) so had to buy them again -- I decided to pick up and knit a buttonband that would also make a lovely clean edge!
Oh. Hi! Yeah. So remember me? I used to knit. Well, I still do knit. I knit a lot, actually -- knitting happens almost everyday! Those t-shirts and posters about "knitting is cheaper than therapy" and "I knit so I don't kill people"? I could be the poster girl!!
I have finished something.
You can get a full run-down (as full as it gets) of my mods/reasoning on my Ravelry project page.
Here I am reflected in the very flattering mirror of a AllSaints Spitalfields dressing room last month in Chicago (also wearing my first-ever pair of skinny jeans tucked into my oh-so-awesome boots!). The sweater looks okay, but I have lost at least 35 pounds since I began knitting and, while the overall style is rather forgiving, it is definitely too big. It's also knitwear, so there's some naturally occurring stretching out as it's worn and eventually it was falling off my shoulders.
I'll wear it a few more times and then decide what to do. Give it away? One of my Knit Night buddies suggested ripping it out and starting over! I've actually done that before, so it's a possibility.
How are you all doing? What are you knitting? Finished anything lately?
It was sort of buried a couple of posts ago, and I did send an email to the winner without response as yet, but thought I'd more prominently post it again.
Random.org says it's Lucky #7! Dcalaneknits, look for an email sent on March 24th (Re: Keep Out) (check spam or junk folkers) with a request for your mailing address, and I'll get a copy of Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide in the mail to you!
Thanks everyone, it was a blast to read all those comments and memories about clubhouses and forts.
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I'll give it a little time, and possibly a third try, but may end up visiting Random.org again!
Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I'd Do If I Won the Big Powerball Jackpot
1. Assemble my team: lawyer, accountant, cabana boy.
2. Pay off my mortgage and all debt.
3. Pay off my kids' student loans; set up trusts for them.
4. Buy a couple of houses on my street, strip 'em out, and knock 'em down.
5. Quit my job.
6. Buy the hardware store.
7. Buy a lovely penthouse in Chicago or New York or San Francisco. Or all of the above.
8. Buy a place on the west coast... of Scotland.
9. TRAVEL! The Maritimes, Italy, Spain, and Greece come to mind, as do New England, Texas, and Hawaii.
10. Buy a lovely vintage Porsche.
I could go on...
I just read an article, 22 Things Happy People Do Differently, and "Dream Big" was #5 on the list... got that one covered. ;)
I've made this a couple of times in recent weeks -- a little different each time, but basically Bella's Carrot, Orange and Fennel Soup from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery.
2 T. coconut oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped fennel
3 lbs. carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
4 c. organic vegetable broth
4 c. organic chicken broth
1 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. maple syrup
Heat the oil in a soup pot, then add the onion, fennel and a bit of salt. Sautee until golden. Stir in carrots, orange zest, spices, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Sautee for a few minutes, stirring until well combined. Add 1/2 cup of broth and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour in the remaining broth, another dash of salt, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
Puree with soup until very smooth. I've used both a hand-held blender, blending the soup right in the pot, and in small batches using a traditional blender, and they both worked fine.
Return the soup to the pot over low heat, stirring in the orange and lemon juice, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Taste and made adjustments as needed.
It's a lovely soup! Next time, I might add coconut milk to make the "creamy" variation.
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Random.org says it's Lucky #7! Dcalaneknits, look for an email with a request for your mailing address, and I'll get a copy of Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide in the mail to you! Thanks everyone, it was a blast to read all those comments and memories about clubhouses and forts.
Can you believe I let the 8th anniversary of quitting smoking sail right by? I think it must be real. I'm a real quitter! According to Quitnet:
You've been Quit 2924 days
$19,006.00 and 14 months, 26 days, 18 hours of your life saved!
That $19,000 that I would have spent on cigarettes over the past 8 years? Yeah. I don't feel guilty one single solitary bit about going on vacation to the U.K. or Brazil, or taking little jaunts to Chicago or the North Shore, or flying to the east coast, west coast, or Rocky Mountains to spend time with knitting peeps (among other things). All of that COMBINED doesn't even come close to $19,000!
I think I've just eliminated any doubt I had about shooting for Holidays in the Highlands (Scotland!) this year.
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Today, the First Day of Spring, marks my 9th anniversary of blogging. Holy moly. And, my, how things have changed.
'Tis the First Day of Spring! It's sunny and it's warm-ish (in a place where 45 degrees on March 20th really IS warm). It seems like a good day to embark on something new -- my very own, my very first blog (there is a lot to learn and a lot to do...).
I have been so inspired by the blogs of knitters around the world, and have learned so much from them. I can't even begin to imagine that my individual contribution would serve as inspiration, but I do hope that it will help to enhance the whole.
Posted by Vicki at 09:28:57 AM
It's not warm on this First Day of Spring! I did hear birds singing again this morning, after silence for weeks, so that's something.
As I begin my 10th year of blogging, I continue to be inspired by the blogs of knitters around the world. I am grateful to think of so many of them as friends, even. I believe I have "inspired" a few people with my knitting... a few epic projects have fallen from my needles... but I'd never have dreamed 9 years ago that there would be so much more.
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Oh, is it ever fun to read your clubhouse memories!! In case you've missed it, to celebrate the publication of my husband's how-to manual, Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide, I am giving away a signed copy. All you need to do is share a clubhouse memory (or just a shout-out) on yesterday's post and I'll draw a name at random on Sunday.
There are home movies of my siblings and I, along with some of the neighbor kids, from the summer that I was 11 when we built a "fort" along the fence on the other side of the wooded ravine behind our house. It was a pretty deep & steep ravine, too, so I don't know what we were thinking... probably not thinking at all!
There's a funny scene where it looks like a big sheet of plywood is walking (with help from Karen, though you can see only her hands and feet!). Michael and his friends were scraped up mightily after deciding to "ride" a piece of plywood down to the bottom of the ravine as if it were a sled... and it didn't quite work that way!
Our dad took the movies and let us raid the garage for lumber and tools*, but mainly he hid behind the Super-8 movie camera and left us to our own devices... and that was pretty great!
The mean old next-door neighbors complained about our fort and so it was rather short-lived.
Did you have a clubhouse as a kid? A playhouse? A fort? Everyone's built a fort, haven't they? With boxes, blankets, sheets, and the couch cushions! Right?
My husband built his first clubhouse when he was about 11!
And his second a few years later.
And, as a kid, finally a third. It seems he's always building something... or planning to build something... a clubhouse, a house, models, remodeling, etc.
The first summer/autumn after we moved into our current house, Rusty rebuilt a huge stone retaining wall that accidentally fell over and down the hill when he jiggled it.
The second summer was earmarked for building a clubhouse for the girls!
Eventually, we wanted to build a garage and, with basically only one place it could go on our property, that little house was in the way. By then, our girls were older and not really using the playhouse anymore, so I thought we'd just tear it down and call it a happy memory... but, well, NO! That was not going to happen! Rusty insisted that the playhouse be moved... no small task... and we hired a sign company and their truck-mounted crane to lift it and lower it to its new location.
So, about 20 years ago Rusty had an idea to write a book about clubhouses. He collected a lot of information from a lot of sources... and filed it away. It was a very busy time in our lives! Always percolating, a different spin on that book bubbled to the top a couple of years ago. He wrote a proposal and sent it off to some publishers and there was interest!
Published by Storey Publishing, it's a real book!! I snapped a quick pic when the advance copy arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. A great fit in Storey's catalog, the official release date isn't for a few days yet, but Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide can be pre-ordered on Amazon (also for Kindle)!
It's a great book, if I may say so. I'm so proud of my husband! Written for kids, 11 and up, it's 224 illustrated pages (most of the tech illustrations were also done by Rusty), meant to enable anyone to build their own outdoor shelter. It's as inspiring for grownups who haven't tried building before as it is for kids, and terrific for parents and kids to use on a joint project they can build together.
If you're interested in purchasing a signed copy, just let me know -- I think I can hook you up! The price is $18.95 (WI residents add 5% sales tax), plus $3.99 for shipping.
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Naturally, I snagged one for a blog give-away!! How could I not??
Do you have a clubhouse memory?
Share it! (Or just say "Hey.")
I'll draw a name at random on Sunday, March 24th, at 6:00 pm CST, from all comments on this post to receive a signed copy of KEEP OUT!!
-- this contest is closed --
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*Back when I thought every garage had a ready supply of lumber and tools!
In the interest of full disclosure, I participate in the Amazon Associates program and will receive a small percentage if you click through an Amazon link and make a purchase. (Thank you!)
One thing I like about Bloglovin' is the "Your daily feed from Bloglovin'" email highlighting the latest posts from my subscriptions. It includes the headline, a few lines of text, and a photo. One thing I don't like is that there's no Android or Kindle app -- not that I read much on those devices, but I guess I don't like being left out! While it looks as though signing in or going through Facebook is the only option, there is actually an option to use an email address... if that's holding anyone back from trying it out.
Meanwhile, Feedly! Wow, that WAS easy! Plus, Internet Explorer was wonking out on my home computer so I went back to Chrome (which had previously had issues but now seems fine) and used the Chrome extension and talk about simple! My Google Reader feeds were imported in a blink, and with all of my "categories" intact -- which was not the case with Bloglovin' (alphabetical order... which I didn't really mind... right now). The layout is a little different from what I'm used to, but I really don't have a problem with that if I can easily find what I'm looking for and have some control myself.
I'd started looking into The Old Reader (TOR) a couple of days ago. I got as far as downloading my zipped Google "Takeout" folder with the OPML file necessary to import my feeds to TOR. I have just this second uploaded that file and... there are 41,345 users ahead of me in the import queue... so that might take a while and I'll have to get back to you on that!
Netvibes? Maybe. I've signed up for that one, too, and have imported my feeds. For some reason, this was the most difficult one for me to get started. There's even a blog post about migrating from Google Reader to Netvibes... it just wasn't intuitive to me, but that doesn't mean I won't like it.
There's a great article on Lifehacker with even a few more options, if you're interested. I might be. We'll see... how much time do I really need to spend on this??
The jury's still out on all of it. I think it's interesting to compare and, obviously, a reader that I like may not be a good fit for you... or perhaps you don't even use a reader! That's all fine, and everything's good. As always and however you land here, thank you for stopping by, reading, and letting me know what you think!
Also, Happy St. Paddy's Day!! And Happy Birthday to my wonderful and only brother, Michael!! I have my first-ever corned beef cooking on the stove. I sometimes love it and sometimes hate it, so we'll just have to see how this one turns out. I'll be roasting some cabbage to go with it, but foregoing the potatoes... except maybe making some sweet. Would that go?
My flight didn't leave until 8 p.m., so I still had an open morning on my last day in Brazil! Another place on my short list was Parque Lage, so that's where we went.
The mansion now houses an art school and there's a little cafe; beautiful views from everywhere, and there are a lot of trails and paths, little bridges and stairways, and cave-like areas (with aquariums & fish!).
Also one of the locations featured in Snoop Dogg's video, "Beautiful." This might possibly be the first Snoop song I've listened to in its entirety, and it was mostly for the pictures. Haha. There are some other familiar sites, as well!
It was Friday and it's Rio, so one wants to leave plenty of time for traffic tangles on the way to the airport, plus it was an international flight and I didn't speak much of the language, so a friend of Ann's & Brian's came to pick me up at 1:00!
I snapped one more shot of my favorite view -- misty and smudgy, for some reason, but my eyes were welling up a bit so it's perfect.
Traffic. It was still "summer vacation" when I was there, so they tell me that traffic wasn't as heavy or congested as usual, but it was pretty crazy! Crazy like there's the constant "beep beep" of motorcycles, alerting drivers to the fact that they're there... between lanes, riding the lines, basically, and it's OK! There's a lot of jostling and wiggling and weaving -- cars, motorcycles, trucks, busses, they all do it! If that's not crazy enough, as we neared the airport and traffic was heavy and a bit more stop-and-go, kids from the favelas would walk the lines between lanes and sell snacks and water and whatnot.
You'd think there'd be hot tempers and lots of fender benders, but there's not. No one raises their voice in Brasil unless it's in song or at a soccer game! Surprised that my brother-in-law still had side mirrors on his car, I really only saw a few cars with scrapes or little dents. There's just a weird etiquette and flow to it all; everyone knows what they're in for and it's just the way it is.
So not like big-city American traffic! Those motorcyclists are some kind of something, though; serious daredevils.
I arrived in DC for re-entry to the U.S. and the climate change was immediately evident in my hair... it was dry and full of static and pulled back into a ponytail before I even made it through Customs! That tropical air really was wonderful for my skin and hair, even with only a week!
And that, my friends, is it!
On Thursday morning, I watched the boys while Ann & Brian went to renew some government paperwork stuff -- which they weren't actually able to do because "the computers were down" and so, you know, as people do in Brazil, it was on to Plan B! (In this case, Annie went back to work and Brian tried for the umpteenth time to get their international banking figured out.) (FYI: It didn't get figured out until I'd already been home for days!)
Later that day, Annie and I got to do the thing that we'd been trying to do ever since I arrived: COOK IN RIO! Originally planned for Friday, my first full day in Rio, it didn't happen. We rescheduled for another day but were late (as is often the case in Rio), so it didn't happen then, either. After many phone calls, several missed connections and problems with email, and changes of venue, some people were doubting that it would ever even happen.
But it did and, WOW! So worth it! The venue was amazing, though if you go there's a good chance it will be elsewhere, as our instructor, Chef Simone, was planning to open her own nearby restaurant within weeks (which means it should be open now)!
We all had little tasks to do. Annie made caipirinha, I sliced and cooked peppers for moqueca. We made fried cheese sticks (Brazilians love cheese, but it is a little different there) and farofa, too. Talking with my hands, I also flung the farofa off the stove but, luckily, much of it landed on the table rather than the floor and could be salvaged. I didn't care for farofa the first time I had it, but by this time I rather did... and this time it was made with onions and bananas, which sounds VERY weird, but was so good!
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A word about food; here and there.
I wasn't terribly concerned about food while I was in Brazil because, hey, I was in Brazil! I didn't throw the book out the window, but I never said "No" to anything before me because of "diet." While I've started on this path to improve my health, I have no medical issues preventing me from eating anything I'd like.
That said, my feet, ankles, and legs did swell up quite a bit, but I can't say that it was all (or even mostly) due to diet -- travel does that to me, the weather was VASTLY different, I over-did it in the sun, etc., etc., etc.
Given my pattern over the last several weeks, I was reminded that I am definitely an emotional eater and stress plays a big part. There were a few days when I just wanted to crawl inside a bag of potato chips and forget the world for a while... but I didn't. I had a few indulgences, but even my indulgences are ridiculously controlled or just healthier than I'd have had before. It helps when there aren't bags of cookies or chips in the cupboard!
And, as of yesterday, I hit a new low in the weight department, registering 42+ pounds less on the scale than this time last year. It feels so great!
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That's not all!
My next post will wrap up this ridiculously long travelogue. (Thank you for indulging me, it's been kind of fun to draw out and re-live my week-long tropical vacation over the past month and a half.) And, believe it or not, KNITTING is set to return! There is an FO on the blocking board, as we speak... an actual SWEATER.. for me, even! It's ne of the 8 +/- sweaters-for-me-in-progress that I have had aging around here (and one or two of them for about as many years).
Care to take a guess as to which one? In alphabetical order, is it:
This time, São Conrado. I don't think I'd ever been to the beach so early in the morning.
I think that's Dois Irmãos at just about dead-center, above; the gorgeous mountain that serves as a backdrop for all the pool photos taken at Annie's house (the photo at the top of this post). Let's say that this view is from the west, whereas the view from home is more from the north.
After lunch, we hit the road again.
Of course. You can see Cristo Redentor from just about anywhere in Rio and he, of course, sees it all, but one must actually go up Corcovado! Amazing: the bus ride up there, tip-toeing around all the people lying on the ground to take pictures, watching out for arms flung wide "Cristo-style"!
The view from here:
Wednesday was also Annie's birthday!! We had a lovely dinner at Porcao, a sort of churrascaria.
This amazing plate was from my trip through the "salad bar." It was all so good! Each person at the table had a little paper disk that read "YES PLEASE" on one side and, of course, "NO THANKS" on the other. When we were ready, we flipped over to YES and servers came around table-side with skewers of meat -- chicken hearts, pork sausages, many cuts of beef -- and sliced or served a portion directly onto our plates. It was basically an all-you-can-eat buffet, but with service, linens and nice tablesettings, a beautiful view...
The original vacation plan was to fly out on Wednesday/arriving Rio on Thursday, with departure the following Wednesday/arriving home on Thursday... and back to work on Monday. (Next time? Longer than one week.) Because of the decidedly unfabulous start to my trip, spending my first night in Houston rather than a plane and delaying arrival by 24 hours, I took a cue from some younger but obviously more savvy fellow travelers to see if I could extend my trip. I explained what happened and they were fairly quick in granting a 24-hour extension... but I lobbied for an extra day, besides, now that arrival back home would be on the weekend and I didn't have to be at work until Monday. That would give me an extra day both in Rio and at home. Happily, that request was granted, as well!
Even though I now had extra time in Rio, by Wednesday we were still feeling "the end" looming. On Tuesday we might have been quite satisfied with a day that included the beach, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer, and an amazing dinner; on Wednesday we weren't.
A place that had been on my Do Not Miss List ever since Annie shared pictures of their first visit was Escadaria Selarón.
It was a bittersweet visit, having read about the death of artist Jorge Selarón less than a week before I left for Brazil. The boys had met him on their earlier visit, and there was a great photo of Brian and Jorge sitting on the stairs and talking -- I'd just devoted a whole page in their 2013 family photo calendar to that visit. It was heartbreaking.
By the time we arrived, it was already getting dark. We almost didn't make it at all -- it was on the long journey between Porcao and Selaron that Annie, frustrated by map reading and our inability to read street signs 'til we were on top of them, said, "I give up!" And the boys chimed, "No! You can't give up." Addison adding, "You can never give up on your birthday!"
So we didn't.
From top to bottom, and even ON top, simply amazing. A person could spend days there. I know there's at least one Wisconsin tile, because Selarón himself had shown it to the boys, but they didn't remember and I didn't find it. I did find a few other fun tiles, though.
Can you believe it's been seven years?
One of my favorite posts from that time:
Overheard in ICU today
Michael: I want to get these fucking tubes outta me.
Vicki: You've got to leave the fucking tubes in.
Mom: I don't like it when you two use the F-word.
This was after he'd already removed the Foley catheter once (ow) and had to have it replaced, was caught with a leg over the siderail of the bed, trying to "escape", and told his best friend to go get the car. "Let's you and me go for a ride, Paulie."
I think the wild ride portion of this recovery program is underway.
It wasn't even close to over then. I don't think that wild ride has ever really ended!