Weekending: Happy Spring!!

I walked up to the coffee shop yesterday morning and spotted this on a sidewalk block out front.

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Spring is in the air! And oh so very WELCOME!!

And also to you... Whether you've been more or less reading since I began this blog on the First Day of Spring 13 years ago, or just landed here today... you are WELCOME and I THANK YOU!! I never imagined that blogging would bring so much to my life, but the friends I've made because of it are some of the best of my life. I've learned, grown, traveled, laughed, cried, quit smoking, and accomplished so much more because of it. I just can't imagine what my life would be like right now if I'd never begun typing...

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I took it pretty easy over the weekend, leaving the house only once for the afore-mentioned walk and late yesterday to the grocery store. I did a little bookkeeping, helped Kate finish her taxes...

My main project was a new dress for Gin!

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I went back and forth about snaps vs. buttons. It's been a while since I've done either, and was having a hard time remembering exactly how to do snaps... so decided on and chose some cute vintage buttons. Then I grabbed some fabric to make a few practice buttonholes and discovered that there's a problem -- some gears or cams are not quite right because it goes up on one side and down on the same side. I suppose I could have manually shifted the fabric, but that's just asking for trouble. I really wanted to finish this dress, though, so went back to the snaps and figured it out!

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I just loved the little flower fabric to line the bodice, and decided to use it for contrasting patch pockets, too!

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While there are a few sleeve variations included with the pattern, the cap sleeve is probably my favorite!

I've had the fabric for just over a year. I fell in love with it when I saw it in an Instagram post, tracked it down and located a source or two, and bought both woven and knit yardage -- this is the first thing I've made with it!

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The kids were over for a while on Sunday afternoon. Gin's hair is getting long!!  ;)

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Jun was a bundle of energy -- and imagination (with an assist from Aunt Kate)!!

How was your weekend??


Weekending

Well, it was sorta like this...

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And this...

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I picked up my new prescription sunglasses on Friday.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon & evening at the movies; Best Picture Festival, Day 1.

Sunday was busy with chores, but I spent a little time with the kiddos -- bikes, trikes, wagon rides, and walking around the block.

It was a gorgeous weekend! Hard to believe, I'm sure, if I tell you that with a high of 53F today is the "dud" in the middle of this little stretch of thaw we have going on.

Wednesday looks to be the best of the bunch and it's my day off (YIPPEE!), and then we return to the harsh cold snowy reality of February-into-March.

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All we can do is smile!


Weekending: That's LIFE

knitorious.life!

Yep. After nearly 13 years of blogging, I finally have my own domain name. Flummoxed for years because knitorious.com had already been claimed by a yarn store (which I still hope to visit someday), the choices for domain names have greatly increased over the years and, well, .life seems to be more what it's about here, anyway.

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See it?? You don't have to change a thing, if you don't want to; it's still a Typepad blog, and knitorious.typepad.com will continue to work.

Weekending... consisted of book work on Saturday, babysitting the grandkids on Saturday night, and a day-trip to the northern 'burbs of Milwaukee with the girls yesterday -- including Gin -- for some shopping!

Meanwhile, I've finished Pussyhats for my cousin (in the mail) and my hair stylist (to be delivered this week), and have begun a kittycat version for Gin.

It's another long, busy week at work... but looking forward to Friday off. And New Orleans gets closer everyday.  ;)


Weekending: Meow

I managed to get through the holidays without getting sick, even though nearly everyone around me -- whether at work or at home -- was sniffling and/or complaining of scratchy throats.

It finally caught up with me.

I think I'm going to luck out and skate through with the "lite" version... and if I'm not better by mid-week, well, predicted sunshine and mid-80s during our FL getaway will likely do the trick! I am so looking forward to renting a chair and an umbrella and parking it at the beach for a day... and getting warmed up all the way through!

I drove Kate down to ORD on Thursday for her trip to Paris-London-Edinburgh, and made it back in time to celebrate Junah's birthday... can you believe he's THREE???

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At 1, he was not so amazed by the cake; at 2, he was licking the plate...

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This year, at 3, he was all about the frosting!! Mini M&Ms are pretty good, too.

He wanted to come over to Nona's house afterwards, but of course it was too late... so there were tears when we left, but also a promise for time together on Saturday. He was over all afternoon and we had so much fun... reading, coloring, snuggling, building with Lincoln Logs!

I finished all my Pussyhat Project knitting and was able to take some photos.

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And even though I don't like how I look in hats and never wear them, I even modeled...

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Meow!

The solids are Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash (Light Pink is color #21, Dark Pink is #48), the other is Malabrigo Rios in "057 English Rose" -- all lovely washable yarns!! It was a pleasure to knit these hats for sisters/marchers!

I made the light pink one in the round on DPNs and did a 3-needle bind-off, the other two were knit on straights and seamed; there are slight differences in the length of ribbing/stockinette, but they're generally all about the same size. And headed for DC!! Ravelry project page is here.

I have finally turned my attention back to finishing the kids' Christmas presents... I know, I know... I still have an unfinished Peace Cowl, too, and a couple pairs of Squad Mitts (to mention only a couple of things).

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I saw Louise Walker's Knitted Polar Bear on Mollie Makes' Instagram feed when I was at the airport in Milwaukee in October -- on my way to Rhinebeck. I was instantly smitten and had to have it! I immediately purchased & downloaded the issue.

I had to special order the large eyes... and when I realized that the first ones I ordered on Etsy were on the literal slow boat from China, I dug some more and found a domestic source (so now I'm up to my eyeballs in large safety eyes!). Bear #1 is finished except for some extra embellishment that I want to add.

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I made the super-fluffy pom pom tail during the Packer game yesterday. It was the first time I used my Clover Pom Pom Maker -- so quick, easy, and FLUFFY!

All of the pieces are knit for Bear #2 and sewing up is well underway. If I don't get too distracted, I may even finish before we leave.

And, of course, there's an amaryllis update:

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I'm hoping that I get to see that bloom before we leave on Wednesday!


Long Weekending

On Thursday after work, I stopped by my LYS for Pussy Hat yarn!

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I was delighted to learn that the owner of the shop, along with her husband & daughter, was heading to the march Washington, DC. She gave me a wee discount on the yarn, too, since it was "for the cause." ❤

As of last night I have two finished hats -- one each in the dark & light solid. I plan to cast on a third this evening, and get them all in the mail by the weekend. If I looked any good in hats at all, I'd keep one for myself... but YUCK. I have plenty of leftovers, though, and plan on making hats for Gin & Jun... it'll be AWESOME with his sparkle shoes!

While procrastinating on Friday morning about some office work that needs to be done, I started cleaning out, organizing, and rearranging some cupboards. I had decided that if they weren't needed or used during the holidays, I was going to get rid of a set of dishes and most of the stemware.

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Well, we didn't use them... so OUT! Formerly occupying that blank spot on the right of the second shelf, those dishes had been sitting there, largely undisturbed, for years. So silly. And the wine glasses... good grief. I'm not sure why or how I accumulated so many but they, too, have just been taking up space (and getting awfully dirty).

Ali hit the jackpot, walking in at the perfect time to carry off the dishes -- and was happy to do so, saying that she barely has two plates at home that match these days! She declined the wine glasses, however, so they're currently in a box... ultimately headed to the thrift store if there are no other takers.

I moved some cookbooks, redistributed some bowls and other glassware... there's ROOM... unfilled spaces, even! I can't stop admiring my work. Heheh.

On Saturday, I played the annual game of Christmas Tetris!

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Kate helped me with the undecorating, putting away all of their ornaments and quite a few of the rest. Even while decorating, I was making plans to purge some of that holiday stuff (there was a fair bit that we didn't put on the tree in the first place)... and I ended up with two fewer boxes to put away -- one of them is full of other smaller boxes for recycling, and the other is also destined for the thrift shop. There was also a bag for the trash!

We've left the tree up with only the lights on for a little Hygge glow. Naturally, there's half a string in the middle of the tree that just went out... I'm chill.

Finally, amaryllis watch:

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One of them is growing, the other is not.

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I don't think it's dying, either, so I just keep watching...

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Also, new growth!


Holiday mid-weekending

We definitely had a White Christmas!

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Most of that has already melted, thanks to a little rain.

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I had a wonderful Jólabókaflóð gift from Judy year. Aren't those stitch markers adorable? This traditional, annual (two years in a row for us now!) book & chocolate gift exchange was once again organized by Susan!

I can't wait 'til next Christmas!!

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I cut the panels for Part 2 (the bottom half) of the bathroom curtains project, and sewed up the first panel on Christmas Eve Day... because that's what I wanted to do! There are a million other things I could/should have been doing (working on/finishing presents for Gin & Jun, for one), but here you are.

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This is a very different look... and much "cooler" in temperature. The light in there is pretty amazing now! I still have to piece & sew the panel for the other window -- maybe on New Year's Eve Day! There will be a bit of fabric leftover and I think I'm going to make a pretty dress for Gin -- she'll be just like the Von Trapp children, roaming about in drapes next summer. Heheheee.

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I finally buckled down and got some "wrapping" done... I went lazy gift-bag style this year! I've had this old Boynton gift bag in my stash for a long, long time and finally busted it out for Jun's presents this year. (And it's back in my stash once again!)

I sure wasn't thinking, because Junah was all about "unwrapping" presents this year, and the gift bags just weren't doin' it for him!

It was just Kate, Rusty, and me for Christmas Eve dinner, and we went all out...

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I'd receive a nice grocery gift card from my employer this year, and used to it buy a couple of good-sized lobster tails. Kate made some Saffron & Mushroom Barley Risotto (Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix), and we roasted some asparagus.

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Oh, my, but that was good...

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And there was a half-tail leftover... enough to make a Lobster Bisque!

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On Christmas morning, I checked the amaryllis.

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There's been some obvious growth...

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...but the award for Most Improved goes to this guy! It might not look like an award winner, but there's vast improvement in color and, well, let's say "tone."

I was just about to get the Christmas stockings hung and filled... (I know, and it still hasn't happened!)... and the kiddos arrived!

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And it was nonstop all day!! We Skyped with Maddy, had brunch, opened presents, played games, admired the tree, watched movies... er, watched one movie three times... ate a bunch more goodies, played more games...

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Another holiday, another mega crossword puzzle! The New York Times had an entire section devoted to puzzles this season.

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And we had a crawler for Christmas!! Away we go...

Rusty's birthday was the day after Christmas. We met some friends -- among them, another 12/26 birthday -- to celebrate with drinks (and cake!).

Annie was supposed to arrive from Spain later on the 26th and I was going to go pick her up in Green Bay, but due to plane problems/switch, they ended up spending the night in Detroit. So Rusty picked her up yesterday morning, instead (the boys flew into Madison), and whisked her to Appleton for a scheduled eye appointment. She met a friend for a leisurely lunch, did some shopping, had a massage, and I finally met up with her after work. We were enjoying a beer & a snack in the brewpub at the mall, thinking about ordering some food to go, when we suddenly noticed a steady stream of people exiting the mall, and were informed that the kitchen was closed... Um, it was more than a little freaky. We heard no announcement or anything, but were informed that the mall was being evacuated, and the gate to the mall had come down (thankfully, there's a separate entry/exit door to the pub). Turns out, the police had been alerted by concerned family members about a man who might have had a gun and might have been heading to the mall... which sounds sort of WTF? The entire mall was shut down for the evening, and "the man" was never found at the mall. But we're all safe... so weird.

After today, I have four wonderful days off! I had the option of a) taking Monday off or b) working Monday and floating the holiday, and I'm going for the float... there's some travel coming up this year and even one extra day will be welcome!

Tomorrow, the boys will be coming up from Madison -- and I cannot wait for Junah, Mack & Addy to get together again. The boys are going to be blown away by Jun and how much he's changed/grown/matured!!

On Friday, both Michael & Karen will be here, too, and we'll have a little family celebration on the Eve of New Year's Eve! It's been a long time since we've all been together, and I can't wait. (Pray that I remember to get some photos!)

It's been a year of tough losses, in more ways than one. I will be relieved to flip the calendar to 2017, and hope for -- strive for, work for -- better.

I hope all is well with you!


3-Day Weekending

I had a very welcome day off last Friday! I spent some of it with Ali & the kids, doing a little shopping before the predicted big snowstorm, and lunching.

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Afterwards, Jun wanted to "Stay at Nona's!" so he & I spent a few hours together on Friday afternoon. I really enjoy our one-on-one time. His language and communication/conversation skills are exploding.

We played...

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...well, he played. We'd recently watched Toy Story, and I found an old Woody hanging around my house -- he was thrilled to discover it! And also, quite by accident, to discover  that he stills says, "You're my favorite deputy!"

He helped me find the treetop angel...

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And helped with some more decorating...

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Haha!

I read about an estate sale on Saturday morning and got the bug to go! The weather wasn't too bad and it wasn't very far. I certainly don't need anything, but I was drawn to to this sale. I used to go to estate sales with my mom, and Sharon used to come up for regular antique auctions... it was Saturday... And sure enough, I found some UK/England travel stuff that would have caught my Mom's eye (some of the same brochures), and a couple of booklets about Kokopelli that would have intrigued Sharon, and there was also some bedraggled pansy stuff (of which I have a collection). It was Day 2, so had already been picked over, but everything under $50 was half-price and I managed to find a couple of brown transfer plates and a kitchen tool, all for a whopping $3.50.

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The amaryllis are... well, one is doing great -- the shoot is plumped up and firm; the other is struggling a bit. I am keeping a close watch.

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We had a nice chat with Maddy on Saturday night. She was pretty worn down after her recent hike and got slammed with a cold, but is on the mend and currently working on a farm near Abel Tasman. She has plans for Christmas... and I hope we'll be able to chat again once or twice during the thick of the holidays.

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I finally cleaned up my workroom a bit and started some sewing! First up: Bathroom window covering re-do. I've been unhappy with those since the day they went up, and they're finally in the trash. I still need to re-do the bottom half of both windows, but the tops are done! I don't know how long that flimsy fabric will last -- the sun is brutal in this location -- but I am loving the bright white!

I've been knitting my Project Peace Cowl nearly every night. I measured yesterday afternoon and it was exactly 3 feet long.

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It looks nice with the living room rug... and my socks match, too! I've about a foot-and-a-half to go, but am concentrating more on finishing another couple of projects this week:

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Christmas presents for Jun & Gin! Some pieces crucial to finishing will be arriving this week!


Weekending: O, Christmas tree

We finally brought the tree up on Saturday morning and I promptly took off all of the dead and half-dead strings of lights.

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Well, not all. There is still one string near the bottom with the non-working half wadded up and stuffed near the trunk. I just couldn't bear to detangle one more string...

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Then I went shopping and, among other things, came home with these:

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There shall be an "amaryllis watch" at Chez Knitorious this year! It's been a few years and I'm really looking forward to it. They're your hardware store variety bulbs, so nothing special... except that they're amaryllis and that's special enough!

I took a nap, and then went over to babysit the grands.

There was some snoozing.

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This was a pretty common photo op when Jun was a babe, but very rare with Gin. Everything's always go-go-go, we rarely have time to snuggle together. 

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After everyone woke up, I had some fun with Snapchat filters. Reindeer games!

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We had our first official snow storm:

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It started Saturday evening and snowed steadily through about mid-afternoon on Sunday, accumulating to 5 or 6 inches.

On Sunday morning afternoon, I finally got back to lighting the tree. First the top:

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I'd been unable to find a string of 50 with a green wire, so there are 100 on just the top. We don't take the whole tree apart every year, but we do remove the top, so it needs a dedicated string of lights.

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And, finally, 500 more new lights later. There's some unevenness, but it'll all work out in the ornamentation.

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There was a mismatched string of LED lights on the tree, probably a last-minute addition last year, so I took them off and strung them up in the Garden Room! They always seemed jiggly and weird, but I didn't realize that they really were jiggly and weird until I went to take a photo. There's a video on my Instagram feed if you want to see for yourself.

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Finally, we made paella for dinner last night. We used the guidelines in Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook (birthday present last month), which I've only just begun to explore. We loved the paella -- and I believe we did achieve soccarat -- but I can't wait to visit Valencia (home of paella) to see how close we really are to the mark.

I hope you had a great weekend!


Weekending

It snowed (lightly) all day long yesterday, and there was a nice warm glow under the pergola last night when the lights came on.

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Inside, I finally dug out and copied some old floor plans. We've been talking about doing some reconfiguring to add another bath -- or (after pricing shower units - yowza!) at least a half-bath.

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Fixtures/appliances may not be to scale... heheh.

I spent a fair bit of time knitting on my Project Peace Cowl. I had a party on Friday night, so had a little catching up to do! I'm right on target, though, and the piece is actually 4x longer now than shown below.

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And I am loooooving it!

We had a Plated delivery over the weekend. One of the meals was trout (delicious) and the other was bibimbap!

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I've never ordered bibmbap for myself at a restaurant before, having only tasted Kate's. It was good -- obviously, good enough that I ordered when it came through as a menu option (and I knew that Katie would like it)!

You cannot see the crispy sushi rice underneath it all. Arguably my favorite part, I loved a little bit of crispy rice on my fork with every bite. Atop the rice is some beef, wilted spinach, a pickled carrot-cucumber salad, a fried egg, and a dipping sauce for the beef to finish it off. I'd certainly never have attempted, out of the blue, to make this myself from scratch... but send me a box with all of the ingredients and step-by-step/photographic directions? I'm on it. And now that I've done it, I will certainly do it again -- it was SO good. Kate said that she even liked it better than the restaurant version! I have a few trial invitations for Plated (worth up to $72); if you're interested in trying it out, let me know.


Weekending

There was a frost on Friday night, but it wasn't a hard/killing frost. I'm glad we brought the succulents inside -- and they will stay inside -- but it's starting to feel a little freaky. Green grass. Flowers...

This was my sunny view of the Garden Room from the kitchen table on Saturday morning, and I can't think of a nicer way to set the tone.

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I don't know what's gotten into me, but here we have Christmas horning in on the front porch before Halloween has even been cleaned up and while the grass is still green! And Christmas music! I finally had a chance to listen to all the tracks on Leslie Odom's Simply Christmas album and it is spectacular -- mostly familiar songs, but with a smooth, jazzy spin. If I had to describe it, Johnny Mathis meets Vince Guaraldi comes fairly close.

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Yesterday morning, the first thing I saw on Facebook was that my daughter had marked herself safe after (during) the earthquake(s) in New Zealand! There were a lot of aftershocks, big ones. Check out this article on The Guardian -- scroll down a bit and you'll see a graphic showing the activity over a 12-hour period; Maddy is currently with "Kiwi family" in Blenheim, and had just been in Kaikoura last weekend. You can read her account of the quake here.

After running around a bit on Saturday -- shopping, lunch, etc. -- I spent a quiet Sunday at home knitting and puttering while also keeping an eye on the news from NZ and an unfortunate football game.

Oh, and I made a really yummy meatloaf! Next time, I'll make two!!


Weekending

I slept. A lot.

I cooked. A lot.

I did some shopping, some laundry, some knitting.

I chatted with my sis.

I had a hair appointment.

I hung out with the fam.

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A trio of Color Break Hats... fini! So adorable.

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Squad Mitts... like knitters' candy! So many flavor combinations... perfect for leftovers and mini-skeins (things of which I have plenty!).


Reunion

B-bye Wisconsin!

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Hello New Jersey/New York!

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(Statue of Liberty is a shadowy dot just to right of center.)

I had a wonderful return trip to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck, again staying with my besties, Cara and Ann! One big highlight of the trip was meeting Cara's kiddos! The last time I visited, her eldest was 9m old -- now she's 8, and has a 6yo sister! They're gorgeous, sweet, and lovely. And, of course, it was lovely to see Poe again at Ann's, and to meet the girls -- Violet & Hyacinth -- at The Pugshack! They are adorable, funny, and playful!

And the merriment begins!

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We headed north late Friday morning, checking into our Airbnb in Kerhonkson before going over to the Indie Untangled trunk show in Kingston. I met & hugged Lee Wittenstein there after many years of online friendship! I laughed when she said that she recognized me because of my shoes. Who knew? Those "foot selfies" could be just as important as those with your face!

Saturday dawned frosty...

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...and so beautiful! This are views from the deck at our house.

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It just kept getting prettier! There were deer out there both mornings (a couple of visible in the lower right-hand corner) -- I counted at least 8 on Sunday!

I didn't have a "Rhinebeck Sweater," per se, but I did have a quickly sewn top-length Alabama Chanin Sweater that I cut out and made by machine on Sunday afternoon!

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I wore it on Saturday with my skirt, tights & ankle boots, and my "Rhinebeck Shawl." (No photos of that shawl yet!)

I was delighted to run into Beverly, organizer of the sew-along that prompted the making of that skirt, who was also wearing hers! I was really a bit surprised at how many people recognized my skirt for what it was -- some because they'd "watched" me make it via Facebook, Instagram and/or blog posts, but I think others just recognized it as "Alabama Chanin."

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Documentation was not my thing, apparently; my one and only photo from the festival is above. It was crowded on Saturday but not overwhelming. I heard people talking about how it seemed a bit lighter compared to some of the previous years. There were certainly crowds and very long lines at some vendors' booths on both days, but I had zero interest in that kind of frenzy -- in terms of yarn, anyway. I did stand in line for food -- both days -- specifically, falafel -- both days. Yes, it was that good!! Had there been chicken pot pies, I'd have been there at least once; inexplicably, I skipped the artichokes french altogether. I did treat myself to a chocolate milkshake (or two).

Of interest to me, instead, were the people -- my people -- family! I was so happy to meet up with so many old friends & new: Bookish Wendy, Amy Herzog, Margaux Hufnagel (check out her new Etsy shop!), Thea Colman, Teresa, Brunilda, Caro Sheridan, Jennie The Potter (check out her new Kickstarter campaign!), Kay Gardiner, Ann Shayne, Kirsten Kapur, Gale Zucker, Angela Tong, Yarny Old Kim, Lisa SouzaJessaLu, Kathleen, Ruth, Leigh SpencerMy Sandy... even Rachel from Wisconsin, who I used to regularly knit with a few years ago before she moved... I am sure I've forgotten some!

Rhinebeck felt just like a family reunion! Everyone gathered in one place, run-ins and quick chats with bunches of lovely people, but always left feeling like you didn't get enough time together...

On Sunday morning, we stopped by Kelder's Farm to see Gnome Chomsky -- once THE largest garden gnome in the world (now, apparently, third-largest)!

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That's a new Baggu tote bag from Mason-Dixon Knitting resting at the toe of that undeniably LARGE gnome...

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Cara carried it all weekend, while also wearing some pretty spectacular sweaters -- but this bag garnered a ton of attention, comments and questions!!

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Before we knew it, we were headed south again. Yes, I wore my Catamount Tunic (over an A-line Dress) on Sunday! Ann & Cara convinced me to wear it -- there are precious few times I can wear that around an appreciative audience! That's another Color Break Hat, this time for Junah.

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I regrouped on Monday, sorted through stuff and packed my suitcase. Ann took Peggy and I to Swell Taco for crispy chicken tacos... and margaritas! Yum.

On Tuesday morning, I bid a fond farewell to the pugs and began my journey home.

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LIRR > NJ Transit > Air Train > EWR-MKE > Shuttle to Parking > Find my Car > 2-hr Drive Home!

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I'd finished Junah's hat on Monday night and started one for Kate. I had plenty of time at EWR, so had some lunch and even little knitting/phone-charging time.

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Michigan's western shoreline.

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Wisconsin's eastern shoreline.

It was a wonderful trip! I'm so happy I went. Not sure when, but I hope to return again...


Weekending

Yes! I downloaded & started listening to The Time Traveler's Wife over the weekend. I'm glad I did... so far, so good.

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It was a beautiful early autumn weekend. The leaves are starting to fall and gather... it's just the beginning!

I did some sewing (a new top), some knitting (a new hat for Gin, my current shawl), some cleaning out and getting rid of stuff (big stuff, even, like a desk and an upholstered chair), some cooking (roast beef, split pea soup), and some hanging out with the fam.

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I had Ali drop the kiddos off for a while yesterday afternoon... I should have left the football hat on Gin when I took the photo! It doesn't get more "game day" than this!!

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I started a Color Break Hat for Gin. The pattern uses slip stitches for interesting texture and to help prevent pooling in highly variegated yarns. My yarn is more along the lines of "very" rather than "highly" variegated and I am loving it so far. This hat and/or one or two more will be my airplane knitting later this week.


Weekending

I let out a cheer on Friday afternoon when I got home and saw this:

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No more gaping hole covered with sheets of plywood. No more orange safety fence, cones, and flashing lights. There's still a bit of that on the next block and around the 'hood, but they are finishing up. Rusty already finessed the wonky bricks and the dirt/seed!

I had a smiley-faced visitor early on Saturday morning:

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She stayed with me 'til mid-morning. Such a delight. I don't often have just her in my care.

It was city-wide rummage sale day and, though I don't *need* anything, I couldn't resist stopping at a few that looked interesting.

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I spent a dollar and brought home three things, one of which was this sink... and the sink was FREE! It has some goofiness around the drain and may drip a bit, but I intend to use it outside and that doesn't really matter that much. I put it to work right away, re-over-dyeing an Eileen Fisher wrap in indigo that I'd just dyed the weekend before. It was originally a terrible-for-me pale peach color, but I bought it because a) I liked the shape, b) it was fabric I could "work" with, and c) it was on super-duper sale... that was quite a while ago, and I finally gave it a dunk (or three).

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I baptized myself!

On Sunday morning, I ran out with Kate to a fun little vintage market where her friend Claire had a booth. I found a sweet little bracelet made by Claire -- me, who usually wears nothing more than earrings. I'm wearing it today, along with a bracelet of similar style that was given to me a few years ago! What'll happen next?

On Sunday afternoon, Rusty & I attended the wedding of one of my coworkers at a park in Green Bay.

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It was a glorious afternoon for such a thing!

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The evening wasn't bad, either.

I hope your weekend was good! I am getting used to the idea of my daughter being on the other side of the world. Thankfully, it didn't take long for her to start blogging... and she's already had a tale or two to tell! Here's Post #1 and Post #2, and feel free to subscribe or follow along if you'd like. She will be leaving Auckland today headed for... I don't know exactly where! Hopefully, wherever it is, she'll find some wifi.  :)


A few days up north

We'd been looking forward to it for weeks! My uncle was going to be away for a few weeks and offered his cabin to us. It's been a while since we've been up north at the height of summer, and we jumped at the chance. Rusty was in CA helping a friend with a kitchen remodel, and Rod had some gigs and also continued work on the "coffee camper," so it was just us girls and Jün for five days & nights!

There was canoeing, kayaking, walking, and hiking.

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And also a little bit of running (moi!) after Jün accidentally disturbed some bees and got stung a couple of times!

Trains are the big thing occupying Junebean these days -- the old Brio track & train that was his mother's & aunts', with the addition of THOMAS and PERCY... and oh, my, does he love those engines! He also had some THOMAS DVDs, which we watched a few times, and his book bag with some of his favorite books... including THOMAS! I had a very enjoyable time one evening listening to his momma read him stories at bedtime.

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Gin & Jün are starting to interact a little bit... it's going to be so fun to watch them grow together!

There was some hammock time (who knew that was so comfortable?)!

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And plenty of playing-in-the-water time.

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There was lots of great cooking and eating, everyone pitching in and... I don't think I even lifted a finger in the kitchen 'til Day 3. We made "camp food" one night with Maddy's direction and assistance... tin foil packets of ground beef, carrots, onions, potatoes, and lots of butter... sort of like pasties without the crust. So good. I ate every crumb.

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And leaving plenty of room for s'mores! It's been ages since I've had one (so I had more than one!).

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I didn't try it myself, but in case you're wondering, the addition of the chocolate covered pretzel crisp was deemed "too crispy!"

There was even laundry. Ali uses cloth diapers most of the time, and Gin is a frequent spitter-upper, so there was need. We filled two clotheslines... plus the dog lead! Thankfully, all of those diapers have inserts and covers with snaps, so I snapped them on the line, or we'd have run out of pins for sure!

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And there was an awful lot of this... lake- and sky-watching.

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And some obvious favorite subjects & angles.

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Every day is different!

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Maddy camped out in her tent, driven in only once by thunderstorms and torrential rain! Luckily, our days were mostly dry... if a little warm (though not as warm as predicted, so YAY!).

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We came home to some surprising, gut-wrenching & scary news that isn't mine to share and that I find rather sad, desperate & embarrassing, but am afraid will be inescapable, and so I'm going to have to find a way to deal with it. Ugh. It makes for a rather worried & moody Vicki.

We also came home to the surprising, heart-wrenching & exciting news (even if it's taken a while for the shock to subside and excitement to sink in) that my sister and her family are moving to SPAIN... in 5 weeks!!

Bitter, bitter, bittersweet.

Watch this space for a future Mediterranean vacation!


Weekending: Love & Marriage & Family, Food & Music & Dancing

I spent a blissful weekend celebrating love and marriage, kids and grandkids, enjoying food and music and dancing.

First comes love and marriage (and dancing)!

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My niece was the photographer!

We attended a beautiful lake-side wedding celebration at the Heidel House Resort & Spa in Green Lake on Friday afternoon. The daughter of long-time friends (and my current employers), there were plenty of old friends & familiar family members with which to visit & party! We had a great time... and DANCING! Even though I rolled on my left ankle real good on the path to the ceremony, and it was swollen and sore, I can't remember the last time I danced so much... because dancing is not like walking! (It's getting a little better everyday.)

Then come kids & grandkids!

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Saturday was a Gin day! Her mom & pop were working at the 2nd Electric City Experience music festival in our little city. She's still a little sleepyhead, but was awake plenty... and starting to engage. There's eye contact, cooing back and forth, and the occasional 1/8th of a smile... she's 6 weeks old today!

And Food & Music!

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We walked down to meet Ali when she was finished, grabbed some food & beverage, and listened to some tunes.

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It was hot as blazes all day long, so quite welcome to see the sun go down. At dark, for the first time in many years, there was a fireworks show! I was already in my PJs, but slipped on some yoga pants and walked to the end of my block where I had a good-enough view.

I had a quick fly-by hug with Annie & Addison on Saturday. They were in the area for soccer again, but heading right back home for Mack's 11th (and therefore GOLDEN) birthday party!!

On Sunday, I took Jün for a little while.

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STRIPE STUDY.  ;)

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Oh, there's milk on my chin? Let me show you how I do that.

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Comedian.

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Fantastic garden helper & waterer extraordinaire!

Later on Sunday, we had beverages out on the pergola and split up some planters full of succulents.

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Also evidence of my overdue first pedi of the season!

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It's difficult to process the horrors of the weekend after spending so much of it in a snuggly warm baby bubble: the nonsensical attack and murder of Christina Grimmie in Orlando, and the incomprehensible and horrific mass shooting that happened later. Truth is, they may never be "processed," and shouldn't be... you, me, we shouldn't have to.

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Kitty says: Be fierce in love. #loveisloveisloveislove


Weekending: 4 nearly perfect days off

I did some knitting -- a fair bit, actually -- and successfully resisted casting on that baby sweater!!  ;)

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Here's my progress so far on the TTL Mystery Shawl 2016. Those seem like some wild colors for me, but I'm so anxious to see what happens! I knocked off another clue on Romi's Not-So-Mysterious Shawl 2016, too; I think there are two clues to go!

While knitting, I was listening... and earned the Weekend Warrior badge on Audible for listening at least 5 hours on a weekend. That would be HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION! I'm to the point in the audio where Lin-Manuel Miranda is reading his footnotes... there's an accompanying PDF, but I just went ahead and ordered the book. That's something else that nephews and grandkids may enjoy -- and I certainly enjoyed it enough to order a hard copy! I'm currently listening to the soundtrack on Spotify, but I'm sure I'll soon be ordering that, as well!

I spent a lot of time with the kiddos, including my nephews who had soccer games in the 'hood on Saturday, and a cook-out at Joe's. I haven't been over there in a while. Mom's wildflower garden is... going wild.

I made a slight change to my blog header to reflect what's going on around here.

I barely took any photos all weekend! But here's one... I tried to get Jün to stand in front of my Blue Angel hosta for scale, but he was too interested in riding his bike, so you have my foot instead. Unfortunately, that doesn't show you how TALL it is!

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I made another rhubarb shrub, this time with white wine vinegar and a bit more sugar -- I think it was a bit more smooth. Cherries are going to be hitting the pot soon!

I found this photo on my computer this morning and noticed that it was taken exactly a year ago today:

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And here's one that his mom took yesterday:

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Melting hearts for over 2 years now!

Can you believe it?

Hope you had a great weekend!


Ten on Tuesday: Memorial Day Weekend

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Did Over The Weekend

1 -- I made Rhubarb Shrub.

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I'd never heard of "shrub" in terms of a beverage until Kat mentioned it, and then I became pretty obsessed with trying it! I'd previously made a rhubarb simple syrup and found it much too sweet, so was very interested in trying this!

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Here's how I made mine (adaptation of Kat's recipe and this one):

Rhubarb Shrub

  • 2 lbs. fresh rhubarb, cut into approx. 1/2" pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine rhubarb, sugar, apple cider vinegar and water in a pot; bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Toss in the thyme for a few minutes at the end. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour into a colander or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and strain for about 30 minutes; stir occasionally, but do not press. Pour the syrup into a jar or bottle and allow to cool; refrigerate.

I loved this! It's a nice sweet-tart mixture, and very syrupy in consistency.

2 - I made Shrubarb Cocktails!

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It makes a very refreshing beverage; mine was made with gin, but shrub can also be used to make a non-alcoholic beverage by simply adding club soda.

Shrubarb Cocktail

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 1-1/2 oz. shrub
  • ice
  • sparkling water (or club soda)

Combine gin, lime juice, shrub, and a couple of crushed ice cubes in a shaker; shake for approx. 30 seconds. Strain into an ice (cube)-filled Collins glass, about 3/4 full, and top with water/soda. Cheers!

I will definitely be making more -- and different varieties of -- shrub this summer!

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3 - I hung out with the kiddos.

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4 - I did a little shopping! I went shopping twice -- once by myself, and once with Ali & the kids.

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Junah rode a STRIDER all around one of the stores, and then right out the door. He sort of loves it. I think it will get a lot of use in the coming years.

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5 - I enjoyed some lovely weather.

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6 - I hung out in the back yard with Rusty. I watched his garden start to grow! He has some onions, spinach, lettuce, and carrots.

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7 - I helped Gin celebrate 4 weeks on this earth! Can you believe it? Four weeks ago yesterday!

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You can see her little blonde streak in this photo. It's pretty awesome!

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8 - I chose and wound colorful yarn for some projects.

The teal/dark purple-y combo is for Kirsten's TTL Mystery Shawl 2016, which I was expecting to start today... and then realized mid-morning that it is not June 1st! That means that you still have time to join, if you'd like.

The other is for Gin's Elwood. I found a hank of purple superwash worsted that I'd dyed, and love it as the main color with SweetGeorgia's "Party of Five" Snapdragon for stripes.

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9 - I hung out on the deck with my #pergolacompanions & started a quick project. It'll be a shoulder bag.

10 - I didn't do anything I didn't want to do. And still managed to make a dent in cleaning up my workroom! I have another long weekend coming up, and I have PLANS!!

I hope you had a great weekend, too.


Weeking

Aaahhhhh. What a great week/weekend!

On Wednesday, I attended the first in a series of four film screenings to benefit Black Mountain School at Match Factory.

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I helped Kate with a bit of set up and some light management.

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The screening was held in "the wallpaper room." The space is still very much a work-in-progress! This particular paper remnant (there are a few) reminds me of both my grandma and my mom! At least some of the paper & old plaster will be preserved and integrated into the updated design, so it will continue to be "the wallpaper room"!

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This room was the diner's kitchen. It will continue to be a "kitchen," though restaurant operations have ceased in this part of the building and all of the restaurant equipment, save the hood, has been removed. It is very likely that yarn dyeing operations will commence here in the coming months...

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The film! The series features films by faculty of Black Mountain School, and the first was Wild Style, the 1983 film produced by Charlie Ahearn that is regarded as the first hip hop motion picture. I cracked up when Kate's friend Danny walked in toting his record player and a stack of hip-hop records... one of them with the "Breaking Moves" poster. So awesome. There were even some attempts at poppin' and a few things (not by me!).

Blondie powered my drive home after the movie!

Next up: Left On Red + PUSHThen Kate's taking a quick trip down to Black Mountain to experience for herself all they've been working toward over the past year (and more)!

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There was a fair bit of gardening over the weekend. The local Master Gardeners had their annual plant sale on Saturday and we got our (few) tomatoes, along with some other stuff. Grandpa had some "help" with the lettuce/carrot bed.

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The allium are doing their beautiful thing. I love the "erupting" stage.

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Junebean got his first haircut!!

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Little boy... (asking me to undo the buckle on my bike helmet)...

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Ready for action!

All of a sudden, he's ginormous and grown up!

I took him off Mama's hands for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, and then she came over with Gin to have supper with us and hang out.

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On Sunday morning we did some work in the pergola area -- before it got too hot!

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That glider with the red cushions looks nice but is a glorified cat bed, it seems. We're going to clean off/de-fur those cushions and devise a way to easily fold up & secure the bottom cushions, when not in use, so they're fit for human sitting upon!

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We strung some new lights that I've had for a while and had beverages on the pergola last evening. SO NICE! I'll get those cushions cleaned up and you can come join us, ok?

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I'll leave the light on for ya!


Weeking*

*Formerly known as "Weekending"

May as well call it as I see it!

I love this space, sharing and talking about projects, the interaction and inspiration; I miss the frequent postings, think often about blogging, and hope that someday maybe the energy and efficiency will all come back.

Meanwhile, a round-up...

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Macro May sort of hit the skids 'round about May 2nd, but I had to get down on hands and knees last week when I noticed a "moss forest" growing between the bricks out front. Katie generously supplied her index finger for scale! The neighbors got a pretty good view of my derriere, no doubt, scratching their heads at my behavior for not-the-first- and surely not-the-last-time! Imagine if they could see all that the crazy stuff I do in the back yard, too!!

On Friday, some of the last pieces in a long office expansion/remodel project began to arrive -- countertops and the like. There's always been a print of Rusty's in the office, but the available wall space has decreased so it was relocated to another room. I've had a beautiful watercolor hanging on the wall in the living room -- partially hidden by objects on a tall-ish piece of furniture -- and it was the perfect size for my new office.

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It was my birthday present in 1995!

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Laundry on the line has always been my thing!

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Considering that Maddy was only four in 1995, a teddy bear tea party is totally where we were at! Rusty's always been a master at whimsy and detail... or whimsical details. I'm so happy to have this painting displayed in a place where it can be fully appreciated and enjoyed!

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Friday night found us in Hortonville at the Match Factory. Kate and her friend Claire (and various family members) have been working hard for weeks... it's still not finished, but it wasn't supposed to be: Friday night was a great little "preview" show.

Kate and Claire have known each other for a while now... at least a year, maybe more. On Friday night, I was finally able to meet more of Claire's family -- we've talked about family on a few occasions, and I've met her brother on a couple of occasions. On Friday, I saw Claire talking to a woman who I assumed was her mother, so introduced myself as Kate's mom, etc.

She looked at me hard and said, "Do we know each other?" I said that I didn't think so. "Did you used to live in Appleton?" Um, yes; on & off for a lot of years. "On Durkee Street??" Nodding... "We were ROOMMATES!"

OMG. All of a sudden there was hugging and reminiscing... Claire's eyes growing wide while her jaw hit the floor, Kate looking at us as if we were aliens!! Therese and I shared an apartment for about a year in about 1981-82; we never "hung out" much, but we certainly crossed paths and were at least somewhat aware of each other's interests, though neither of us were as "deep" into those pursuits as we are now. She ended up marrying the guy that she'd begun dating at that time (so, Claire's dad!). The apartment was owned, at the time, by my BFF & her husband... a.k.a., my current employers.

It's a small, small, SMALL, SMALL world!!

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There have been cuddles and snuggles when we're able.

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And this guy seems to be handling the changes OK! I was delighted to take him for a few hours on Saturday afternoon... we had so much fun! Annie and the boys came over again, too, after soccer and, well, the kid's certainly not suffering from a lack of attention. We wound down Saturday with a big, raucous family dinner.

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I took some "me" time on Sunday and finally christened my Alabama Chanin "Magdalena" stencil, mixing up some paint and firing up the air compressor out in the garage. I definitely need more practice and experience, for one thing and at the very least, learning about paint color and how it plays with fabric color when wet vs. dry.

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The play of large scale design on a teeny-tiny dress was intentional; the paint dried to more of a gray and not terribly exciting. My first choice of pink for the underlayer is not going to work, so will re-do and choose something with more contrast -- possibly navy blue, or even black.

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I had to do more than just that little dress, so cut out and painted an A-line Tunic for myself. I strained my thumb getting my Swing Skirt done a couple of weeks ago, so don't hold your breath on this one... maybe.

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Kate brought a new cookbook home the other day and I just had to make this Roasted Chicken in Tarragon Sauce with New Potatoes, Asparagus & Peas. I had to present it exactly as in the book, too. Wow, that was delicious and relatively simple and easy to prepare, with yummy leftovers for lunch today. Win!

Oh, I took some "formal" pics of the grands the other day, too. I haven't processed them all yet, but here are a few faves.

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I hope you had a great week/weekend, too!!


Weekending: Alabama Chanin, Rosanne Cash, Mother's Day

I finished my skirt on Friday night -- sewing on the fold-over elastic waistband with patience and the help of a lot of Wonder Clips!

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It felt so great to sew in that tag!

Saturday began with an hour or so watching the boys play soccer.

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We had some lunch afterwards and then went over to meet the baby.

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Mack could hardly get enough of her!

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She is pretty irresistible, and so content!!

Then it was concert time! Rusty and I went to see Rosanne Cash with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra along with John Leventhal and her band. The concert was fantastic! We enjoyed selections from The River & The Thread, The List, Black Cadillac, and more. There were numbers performed with only John on guitar as accompaniment, with her full band, and with the symphony -- it was a nice range. I enjoyed every minute.

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As hoped-for, I wore my new skirt! Styled above with my Catamount A-line Tunic Dress, Fluevog "Sunny" sandals, and a J.Jill sweater (it was chilly!), the tunic is maybe a little long for the skirt -- I will definitely be making a shorter tunic top to show off the skirt a bit more -- but this is a combo that I've had in mind since the beginning. The single-layer tunic and the bottom layer of the skirt are both dark grey, and the red beads on the tunic play off the burgundy top layer of the skirt.

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Rosanne wore an amazing Alabama Chanin jacket, by the way -- we weren't close enough that I could tell the design, but it was WAY sparklier than anything else in the room! Stunning and perfect. I didn't take any photos 'til the end for fear of being kicked out... I am not (much of) a rule-breaker!  ;)

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Here it is on Mother's Day, worn with a shorter J.Jill top... I'm thinking "uniform"! I was so comfortable all day long -- and I am not necessarily a skirt person! I like skirts well enough, but my short, high waist and bit of a belly can make it a challenging relationship. Here are some details, more photos below.

Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt

  • Swing Skirt - pre-cut & -stenciled kit from Alabama Chanin
  • 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey - Burgundy (top layer), Dark Grey (bottom layer)
  • Anna's Garden stencil
  • Button Craft Thread - double strand of Maroon/Burgundy throughout
  • Running stitch for construction & embellishment
  • Knots on the outside
  • Left Front Panel: Negative Reverse Applique
  • Right Front Panel: Reverse Applique
  • Back Panels: Stitched for Negative Reverse Applique but left un-cut
  • All seams inside felled
  • Fold-over Elastic Waistband sewn with herringbone stitch
  • Unfinished hem

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Mother's Day started with a funny card from Rusty, a couple of books, some chocolate...

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It continued with mimosas to accompany bacon, eggs & pancakes for a big family breakfast, more gifts, some shopping, some sewing, and knowing that people were working in my garden! Rusty & Kate tamed a bit of overgrowth in the back. I just don't garden as much since I quit smoking... and that's been a lot of years now!!

I put my new waistband skills to use yesterday, applying fold-over elastic to a couple pairs of leggings for Junah & Ginny.

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These were included (by mistake or on purpose... we will never know) as part of the Alabama Chanin fabric haul that my Utah friend scored and sent to me. There's another pair of 0-3m, two more pair of 2-3y, and a couple of in-between sizes too -- all in the same grey jersey with plaid knee patches, and pockets on the larger sizes. I haven't heard yet about how these fit. The kiddos wear mostly cloth diapers, though disposables sometimes... and these close-fitting leggings might be for wear with disposables only. Time for some more Big Butt Baby Pants!

It was truly a fun, fabulous, and memorable week/weekend.

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I hope yours was pretty good too!


Weekending: Kohler

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It's almost embarrassing to admit that I've never visited the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan before. That wrong was made right on Saturday.

Our first stop was the restroom:

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I've been known to take photos in the bathroom, but usually not of the bathroom. The name KOHLER + the word ART definitely puts a different spin on the subject. 

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These photos were all taken in the same bathroom, but I popped my head into ALL of them! Amazing.

The main event was Wisconsin Wild and Tame.

From Mary Nohl's Art Environment...

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To David R. Harper:

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To Jessica Calderwood and Debbie Kupinsky:

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To the Super Natural:

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It was... super!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing stuff like this:

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When Ali brought him over yesterday, he clung to her for a bit and then reached over to me after a few minutes. Soon, he was pushing his mum out the back door, waving and saying "BYE!," firmly closing the door behind her! Hilarious!!

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Sand & trucks at his house, sidewalk chalk at mine. He helped Grampa with some yard work, and also chased cats around the yard (two of ours + one of the neighbor's), asking, "WHAT YOU DOING?"

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My other big accomplishment was getting our home network figured out (again and, hopefully, for good) so we could continue watching Hinterland on Netflix! It was so aggravating on Saturday night, wanting to watch but TiVo telling me that there was no internet. TWC recently sent us a new modem and... yeah. I narrowed it down to a possible problem with our old hub -- at least I hoped -- so I ran to Best Buy for a new switch yesterday and, voila, back on track!

WHAT YOU DOING?


Weekending: A Week Behind!

I don't know how that happened... there's a lot of juggling going on around here, though, so let's chalk it up to that.

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I just love the body language in this photo. We have three kitties at our house -- and all three are pretty good at avoiding Junah! He gets so excited when he sees one, though, and Roxie is (always has been) the most tolerant of young children. (Also, wearing Grandpa's hat! He put it on and started to say, "Buh-ba? Buh-ba?")

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One thing led to another on the weekend-before-last, and pretty soon a few hours on a Saturday afternoon at Nona's house turned into a sleep-over with a bonus trip up to Annie's for a visit with the boys and Sunday brunch!

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Good (very early for a Sunday) morning with epic bed-head (the boy needs a haircut soon)!! It was our first sleep-over in about a year, and it went very well.

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Patience for photos with the cousins... not so much. The boys were so excited, though! First they built a fort on their bunkbeds and when Junah wasn't terribly interested, they moved the whole production into the living room. He's still just a bit too young for that type of play... I doubt it'll be long, though.

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Since I was in possession of our Alabama Chanin Swing Skirt kits, there may have been an ulterior motive behind my invitation to brunch! I had even started stitching on mine. Annie's is ochre-on-ochre and that color is DIVINE! Last we spoke, her plan had changed to reverse applique over most of the skirt, with couching on the bottom 6" or so. Whatever she does, it's going to be fabulous!

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It was fun to do some stitching with my sis!!

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Even though I'd practiced the negative reverse applique technique on my swatch, I couldn't wait to see how it was going to look with the actual fabric & colors that I'm using for the skirt. I haven't cut any more than that but am stitching everyday and getting closer to finishing that panel. So exciting!

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I'm also continuing my consultation with Ina Braun regarding my LOLA sweater... measurements, gauge swatch, design elements... we're getting close! My short trip to CA/OR begins on Wednesday and I hope to bring this along as my knitting project. Of course, I'll bring sewing, too.


Bullets

  • Knitting/Yarn

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What little time I've lately spent on knitting has been on the second inner mitt of my Dimorphous Mittens, and I'm so happy to have only the thumb to go! I want to knit another set of outer mitts, too. I love this set and am so happy to be this close to replacing the one I gave away a few years ago!

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I ran across this gorgeous Habu yarn a while back and couldn't recall why I bought it or when. And I still don't remember. Thanks to friends with excellent suggestions, I am developing a plan for a lace-weight boxy-type top!

 

  • Sewing

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I was reminded that my Alabama Chanin-style sewing began in earnest two years ago with my first from-scratch garment. I stenciled an old t-shirt of Rusty's cut in the shape of a favorite top, and layered it over another old t-shirt. Voila. I still love & wear this top!

 

  • Mail

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Incoming. (YIKES!!!) I half-consider this junk mail. Heh. I doubt that I'll go -- because I've never gone to any except the 5th, and because it's the day before a cousin's wedding!

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Outgoing. I managed to write two cards for Saturday's mail call. Lovin' that morning light.

 

  • Valentines

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Valentine-painter

The artist and his work! * LOVE *  Is there anything better than a finger-painted Valentine??

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Valentine-Karen

These pics popped up a couple of times on various social media sites... Junah celebrating Valentine's Day two years ago with Great Aunt Karen and Aunt Maddy...

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...and Great Nana. This is the lock-screen image on my phone, too. It's one of the very few photos of my mom and Junah, and definitely one of the best. I love the expressions on both of their faces... I can just hear her talking to him... he's so intently listening. Sweetness.


Weekending: Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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She tried some other techniques, too!

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

The possibilities are endless!

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

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

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

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


Weekending: In no particular order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Weekending: Beer Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Weekending: Breathing Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grainline-Studio_Fringe-Supply-Co_Stowe-Bag_3

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

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


Weekending: Happy New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Weekending: Ding Dong Merrily On High

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

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

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

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

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

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


Weekending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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