This 'n that

Here and there.

Ups and downs.

Six of this, half-dozen of another.

In another word: Frazzled.

Once again with thanks to Kym...

Here's what's going on in my life... Right Now...

Watching... I am trying to keep up with all my Tivo'd shows! And I only get over-the-air (antenna) network TV! I can't imagine trying to keep up with favorites on cable, which I don't really even think about anymore.

Reading... I am not reading much. Cookbooks. Knitting patterns. Sometimes the local paper (interesting series right now about the orphan train). That's the extent of it right now. I might soon be kicked out of my book club.

Knitting... Lord. What am I not knitting? There's a kid's cap, some mitts, Christmas gifts, a couple of shawls I think... some sweaters I've left hanging... it's a frenzy over here and I've sort of lost track.

Listening to... Christmas music, actually. PTXmas by Pentatonix, for one. I loved them on The Sing Off, sadly cancelled and I'm really going to miss that show!

Thinking about... My family.

Dreading... Putting up the Christmas tree.

Humming... One More Night. What? It's so darn catchy.

Planning... Christmas. Menus. Knitting. Gifts.

Excited about... The Christmas Parade, actually! The weather is going to be very mild. Afterwards, Ali will have a table set up at the coffee shop with supplies galore for writing (Cards &) Letters To The Troops!

Drinking... Trying to drink lots of water! I have my bit of coffee every morning.Then some water. Often a mint tea in the afternoon. My "treat" has been a chai tea latte made with a little unsweetened almond milk. I am also on a quest for Cachaca, though, thinking that Caipirinha would be the appropriate designated beverage of Christmas around here this year.

Itching to... Get some dyeing done.

Needing to... Finalize my list and keep plugging along on the Christmas knitting. It all seems quite do-able right now. Let's hope!

Organizing... My yarn stash needs to be organized! I am toying with the idea of a yarn swap, too. Or, more my style these days, just a big ol' donation of yarn and whatnot to a school or center.

Inspired by...

Delighted by... My new boots that I haven't worn yet. They'll debut on Saturday night at The End of The World Show -- which hopes to run through December 29th.

How about YOU?  What's going on for you. . . right now?

* * * * *

Congratulations, finally, to Julia in KW! I didn't do it precisely at noon on Thanksgiving Day, as promised, but I finally did draw a random name and it was Julia's!

* * * * *

And, what do you know? With that, it's a wrap on another NaBloPoMo!

Happy weekend, ever'body!


Seasonal knitter

All of my girls know how to knit, though they are definitely "seasonal" knitters -- inspired by fashion and, well, usually the weather. Every once in a while, they get an itch... and get it bad! Katie got one on our recent trip to Chicago.

Itchin' for cowls! Cowls have been huge for a while now. One of the great things about them is that there's a style for everyone!

After some research on Ravelry, it was The Rime Frost Cowl that struck the loudest note. Resistant to creating an account of her own, there've been a number of cowls recently added to *MY* Favorites, in addition to all the mittens due to yesterday's Ten on Tuesday topic!

With a good idea about what to shop for in terms of yarn weight and yardage, we considered many possibilities -- fiber content, construction and, not least, color -- before choosing a couple of balls of Rowan Alpaca Chunky. I had a "reward" credit at Iris Fine Yarns, too, and was happy to have her use it!

Katie borrowed needles and cast on right away so she could take it with her to work and have something to do on her Monday late-shift dinner break. She knit a while after she got home and then, again, on Tuesday (her day off).

Not only did she finish the cowl on Tuesday morning, she went shopping for MORE yarn for ANOTHER cowl -- this time the GAP-tastic Cowl.

And (this slays me) she admitted to watching YouTube videos about knitting while she was knitting -- adding a new ball of yarn, weaving in ends, finishing circular knitting.

Yes, indeedy.

And (t)here is your dagger! The first cowl -- in the luscious and rather pricey Rowan yarn -- is just a bit more snug than Katie would like, so she is going to frog it and re-knit, adding another repeat. There's plenty of yarn and it's such a quick knit.

Yeah, her own Ravelry account can't be far off now! Though this could very well be the extent of her knitting until next winter, too. Heh.

* * * * *

Do me a favor and think all the good thoughts today for someone close to me. XO


Ten on Tuesday: Warm hands

Ten on Tuesday: (Only) 10 (of The Many, and In No Particular Order) Favorite Mitts/Mittens Patterns That I May or May Not Ever Knit, or Possibly Have Knit (even Twice or Thrice), or Dream of Someday Knitting

There are 60+ such patterns in my Ravelry Favorites, and I never really scope them out. I haven't even looked at my Pinterest boards.


1. Dimorphous Mittens (pictured above) by Miriam Felton. I gave this pair away as a gift. I must knit another someday!

2. Squirrel Sampler Mittens by Adrian Bizilia at Hello Yarn.

3. The elusive (to me) Latvian Mitten(s).

4. Hollywood! I fell head-over-heels in love with Miriam's Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall, and Joan Crawford gloves.

5. Emma's Mittens. Seriously scrumptious texture.

6. Eve. More enchanting texture -- and beads! There are some other gorgeous patterns there, too.

7. The playful Kittens Mittens.

8. There are some incredible cat mittens available, I am also somewhat partial to these Cat Mittens. I love the inclusion of so many appropriate motifs!

9. Fibonacci-Stripe Mittens, of course!

Ragtop 1+2

10. R-A-G-G-T-O-P-P... Ragtop!


It's just another random Monday

Update on Thanksgiving II:

  • The turkey breast was a little dry; luckily, there was some delicious self-made "gravy" as accompaniment.
  • The Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potatoes were one of the simplest things to prepare and were a huge hit! Absolutely delicious.
  • I ended up just cooking and mashing the parsnips as I would for mashed potatoes; simple and delicious.
  • Katie's Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette... well, what more can I say? YUM. She blogged them here, with recipe!
  • Sauteed green beans -- also simple, also delicious.
  • Mom's Corn Pudding and Fruit Salad are family traditions and are always a hit.
  • I haven't even tasted Ali's Pumpkin Loaf yet -- it looks delicious, but she was disappointed. She did some crazy crust stuff with the Cherry Pie; it was delicious and the cherries were from Rod's back yard!
  • Rusty made a mostly rice flour crust for his Apple Pie. Yum.
  • I made the Everyday Paleo Pumpkin Pie and remembered the sweetener this time (used a tiny bit less than called for); also used pumpkin that I'd cooked and frozen and it wasn't quite as solid, so had to bake a bit longer. Also? It was still warm when served. I had a piece from the fridge later and was reminded that I definitely prefer my pumpkin pie to be completely cooled!

We sent a bunch of leftovers home with Maddy, so my container drawer is a little emptier than usual, but had to share. Katie's been in awe of my organizational/nesting abilities, and recently told me that it looks like a work of art.

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We usually have one leaf in our round oak dining table. Last Thursday, I put in the other two and then left it that way -- a mile long -- for Sunday's feast. Then I decided that we should take them all out!

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It suits the area much better that way, and there's so much room!! There are usually only two, sometimes three, sitting there at any give meal these days, and perhaps less horizontal surface area will mean that less crap will end up there.

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I had fun re-vamping and re-stocking my little yarnie area at Ali's for Small Business Saturday. A while back I scored a great display rack for flip-flops that works wonderfully for hanks of yarn and patterns. It even came with a round sign that I had re-done with one of my yarn ball logos. All the packing and shipping is done at the moment, but have some dye-to-orders to play with yet this afternoon.

And fit in a visit to the hair salon! It's a jam-packed day off of work.

Knitting? I'm working on some Christmas presents! And also Marin (it's like a present for me).

Thanksgiving II

It's 3:00 a.m. I'm up to put a couple of turkey breasts into the slow cooker, sprinkle them with seasoning, and turn it on. Please, let me remember to turn it on. I'm actually writing this at midnight to automatically post at 3:00 a.m. and we can only hope that I really am up and doing those things.

Today's menu:

I was thinking of a Squash & Sweet Potato Bake or Baked Sweet Potato Chips, but I'll save all that for another time. We're not going to need any more!


Small Business Saturday

Celebrating Small Business Saturday at Make.Do!

All in-stock yarns online are 20% off through November 30th! There is currently Compose Lace, Be & Dream Fingering/Sock, and Realize Sport available. The sale price is automatically reflected when you add to cart. I'll be updating!


20% off all in-stock yarns, patterns, books, tools & notions in the store through November 30th, also! There are some great new patterns and books!!


Makin' do

Thanksgiving kicked off this most unusual of holiday seasons for our family, and we did our best to make it our own.

Yesterday, Mom and I began the day with yoga. She'd never done yoga before, and it's been years since I've practiced, but we did great. You'd never have known that Mom didn't know her Shavasana from her Sha-Na-Na, and I was surprised at how quickly it all came back to me! I didn't even mind Downward Dog as much as I used to (that probably has everything to do with my improved physical condition and health). It was the perfect start to the day. Aligned. Calm. Om.

I was in the zone when I got home, cleaning, prepping, baking, playing a few rounds of Bananagrams with the girls. Katie helped by putting together a batch of autumn sangria with apples and cranberries.

Yesterday was the first of two all-out Thanksgiving meals I'll be preparing this year and I didn't want turkey for both. I kept it in the family by making chicken thighs -- specifically, Bacon-Wrapped Smoky Chicken Thighs (a recipe from Practical Paleo). Hello. They were absolutely delicious! I didn't have enough bacon for all the thighs (16 in all), so I left the skin on some (it's good that I overlooked the "skinless" part when I was shopping). I'd planned for a few to be left over, and so I'm very happy to have a couple of them in my lunch today.

I served simple mashed sweet potatoes (peeled, cut, boiled, mashed with a little coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper), steamed asparagus, and corn (bought/froze from the farmer's market) to accompany the chicken.

For dessert, I made Everyday Paleo Pumpkin Pie (scroll down) from Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook. I think I overbaked the crust just a touch, and forgot to add the honey to the filling mixture until after I'd poured it into the crust -- I probably didn't add as much as I should have (didn't measure) and stirred it in as best I could. Ha. It turned out fine. Ali brought whipping cream... everything's better with whipping cream.

Ali also brought some homemade Brussels cookies (shaped like Milanos) and they were fabulous!

I'm really happy that I was able to prepare and eat a terrific meal, that everyone fully enjoyed, and that was still very much within my guidelines. It's a holiday! I'm so okay with a little whipped cream and a couple of homemade cookies!!

* * * * *

A note about ingredients and their cost, the cost of eating "this way." The main "guidelines" stress any/all of the following when it comes to choosing ingredients: fresh, real, organic, pastured, grass-fed, etc. Some of those descriptors can add up to BIG BUCK$ right quick. A resource I forgot to mention the other day is this:

The Kindle version is $2.99, or Prime members can borrow it for free. Basically, DO THE BEST YOU CAN. You know? I certainly can't afford to buy everything that way all of the time, so I pick and choose and make compromises -- I do the best I can. Yesterday, our chicken was plain old chicken from the grocery store -- it was the best I could do -- but I'd splurged a while back on some really great bacon, and I'm so glad I did. It was *so* worth it for a meal like this. Our asparagus, too, was right from the regular produce department at the store; the sweet potatoes were some I had that were locally grown and organic; the corn was fresh/frozen last summer from a local farmer. I tried to make my own pumpkin puree for the pie but I wasn't happy with it, so I got out the can opener and Libby's came to to the rescue. Not organic. I can live with that. It was still delicious.

And, really, the main thing IS to choose ingredients. I always think to myself when I buy something that's not *perfect*, "Well, at least it's not Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper." That's one of my benchmarks, though probably not even the worst example, of the processed type of "food" that I'm trying to avoid.

Okay, climbing down from the soap box. Again!

* * * * *

We cleared the table after the wonderful hubbub of dinner and, as I put away leftovers, Maddy took over the kitchen clean up! She had later plans with friends, so declined our invitation to go see Lincoln (loved it -- so many amazing performances!) and was still humming along with a sink full of suds when we left, which meant that I came home to a completely cleaned up kitchen after the movie!

Thanksgiving, indeed.



Working in the kitchen early this evening -- I'm not sure what I was doing exactly, peeling sweet potatoes, wrapping chicken thighs in bacon, prepping asparagus, doing dishes, washing my hands for the umpteenth time -- I heard Maddy & Katie talking and laughing on the back porch. Maddy had made a fire in the fire pit and they were just hanging out. Before long Ali joined them, with Rod and his daughter, and there was even more!

It's one of the things I love most -- have always loved -- about the holidays: listening to people talk and laugh. Oh, especially the laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving!


O Tannenbaum

A traditional Christmas tree is not easy to come by in Rio de Janeiro. The "town tree," as my sister calls it, is a gigantic tree covered in millions of lightbulbs floating in a lagoon. This year's tree hasn't been lit yet -- luckily, my mom and her husband will see it when they visit during Christmas week, but the lights will be out by the time I go in mid-January. Here's a video from The Telegraph of last year's lighting:

There's still a need for a tree at home and, luckily, due to the magical worldwide bulletin board that is Pinterest, I was able to share an idea with Annie that she is now making her own:

I'm pretty sure that's a present for my mom under the tree! We are all to send drawings or photos of our favorite ornaments that they can add to their tree in Rio. So fun, and a great way to connect with our far-away family this season.

Also, what in the world did we ever do without Skype, Facetime, Facebook, Pinterest, email, and the whole entire Internet?


Ten on Tuesday: Thankfulness

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things For Which I Am Thankful

1. My three amazing daughters.

2. My great husband.

3. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins -- even if it's not always pretty.

4. Their generous and adventurous spirits.

5. Nurturing and inspiring friends.

6. Food -- good and real -- on my plate.

7. The resources and ability to make it into something.

8. Electricity!

9. The ability to travel -- mostly near but also sometimes far.

10. That I may have found a swimming suit that I actually like... or at least don't loathe.

* * * * *

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I was on a quick Sunday-Tuesday jaunt to Chicago with my eldest. We hit up the Art Institute on Sunday afternoon, did a little shopping on Monday, and met up with friends on Tuesday.

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My favorite Chicago landmark since I was a kid, Marina City -- one of many iconic city buildings constructed with LEGOS on display outside the store at Water Tower Place!

We stayed at the beautiful Sofitel Chicago Water Tower (thanks to and treated ourselves to cocktails at Le Bar last night before dinner. My drink yesterday -- Brazil's national cocktail -- was Caipirinha! We had tried to find cachaça last summer so we could make it ourselves at the going-away party for Annie & her family before they moved to Rio, but were unsuccessful here in NE Wisconsin! I imagine we could substitute another rum and probably be happy. Or search some more. Anyway, it was light and lime-y and delicious! Katie had a Monkey Gland. Yeah.

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We picked up Maro, a family friend, in the Lincoln Park area on our way home, stopping in Schaumburg for lunch on the way. There, I finally connected with my old friend Julie, whom I haven't seen in close to 20 years! I'm certain that we'll connect again much sooner than that!! It was so great to see her. We dropped Maro off at her mother's, just a few blocks from home, so she could spend Thanksgiving with her family!

For me, it's back to work tomorrow, then running over to pick up Maddy; spending the holiday, which will be very low-key, here at home; back to work on Friday; and then the weekend. Husband should be home sometime in there, and I'm planning our big Thanksgiving celebration for early Sunday afternoon... before Maddy heads back to school!

Also catching up and catching my breath!

I'm thankful that I'm pretty good with logistics, don't mind driving, and that everyone is flexible!!


Minus 27 and counting - helps and resources

So, with a bit of traveling and my birthday, I sort of lost track of where I was and then I became confused about where I began, but there's never been a question about where I'm going.

Down, down, down! Charting my Weight Watchers progress, 1988-89.

I normally run upstairs on Saturday mornings for my weekly weigh-in on Katie's scale (because I don't have one of my own). While in the Bay Area the weekend before my birthday, there wasn't a scale in the guest room bath where we were staying, but I discovered one on Sunday morning in a different bath. I'd already eaten breakfast, but I weighed in, anyway, and then I made a note in Evernote.

I was too busy last week to stop, find/remember my benchmark, and figure it all out, but I ran upstairs to Kate's for my weigh-in and updated my note in Evernote.

It has taken me a long time to get on the Evernote bandwagon. I wonder how I ever got along without it. I have it on my home PC, Android phone, and Kindle Fire -- it is with me everywhere! I recently took a phone pic of a clipped recipe that Mom wanted to share and saved it to Evernote -- no paper to lose, it's there when I need it (grocery store). I've saved recipes from websites, as well as keep general lists for groceries, other shopping, things to do/pack/see/remember -- like quickly jotting down my weight so I won't forget -- all in one place that I can access from anywhere! Update a note on one device and it syncs and updates on all. I love it! And I do believe I am saving trees; I don't put pencil to paper quite as often.

Likewise my Kindle Fire.

I'm sure it's because I've purchased the electronic version of so many of the books/cookbooks I've been using most, but I've been printing out far fewer paper recipes and using my Kindle in the kitchen a lot more. The trouble with paper recipes is that I probably have 14 copies each of Vicki's Roasted Tomato Sauce, Chili All Day and Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes, but I can never FIND one when I want it and end up printing out another. I am careful to keep the Kindle safe from spills; it does get a little smudged at times, but it cleans up well (I don't even have a special screen protector -- that gorilla glass, or whatever they call it, is amazing). I've also used the "Send to Kindle" feature to upload documents (recipes, knitting patterns) from my PC and so I've been doing that more, too.

Anyway, until that weekend in the Bay Area, I'd recorded a loss every single week since I began keeping track around mid-August. I had never lost weight so consistently before in my entire life -- and I really should make a current graph! That week (on a different scale and after eating breakfast) I was up 0.2. The following week -- BUSY! -- I was down 0.4. This week, with a better grip on things again, I am down 2.2 -- for a total loss of 27 pounds in three months.

I am definitely OK with that! That period around my birthday was crazy -- and, plus, it was my birthday! Yes, I had potatoes with my sand dabs at Alioto's. Yes, I had dessert(s) there and at Ici and a couple of other treats! Yes, I had wild mushroom risotto with my scallops at Mom's birthday dinner treat! I made the best choices and did the best I could, compromising along the way, given whatever the circumstance -- I didn't eat all of the potatoes or risotto, I (sometimes) shared dessert.

I didn't always share dessert!

Those indulgences were completely justified and worth it, in my book; on the other hand, I had complete success in avoiding the leftover Halloween candy having determined that it was NOT worth it (ditto the large candy bowl at work -- I don't even look at it anymore, it's practically dead to me. heh).

Eating out isn't always easy, but at most restaurants (save fast-food chains, which I haven't frequented in years, anyway), there is usually SOMETHING on the menu. The other day, at Field to Fork, I had a California burger and asked them to hold the bun -- most places are perfectly willing to do something like that, and no one's wasting food. I carefully read the description of salads, sometimes asking for thing to be omitted and always asking for dressing on the side -- I use a tiny fraction of the amount usually used. I really stop and think about what's offered, and make informed choices and compromises when ordering.

Planning is key at home and at work. It's especially important on weekends and my days off... as I'm sitting here at 10 a.m. and still haven't had breakfast... damn it, I'm going to fix that right now.

* * * * *

That's better. Days off and weekends usually have far less structure and I end up getting caught up in things -- dyeing, cleaning, knitting, blogging, emails, Facebook, Pinterest -- and sometimes 2:00 rolls around and all I've had is coffee. Not good!

Now, with more travel on the horizon, Thanksgiving bearing down, and the holidays around the corner, planning is more important than ever!

When I cook, which I've been doing a lot, I always try to plan for leftovers -- even for breakfast. I'll admit to possibly relying on eggs for breakfast (quick & easy!) too often, but salmon cakes are also quick & easy and I don't mind them cold. (I'm usually in a rush for breakfast on weekdays.) I never, ever, ever leave work for lunch so I'm used to packing a lunch, but in the past I'd often stock the freezer with frozen entrees for an easy out. Now, my lunch "entree" is made as dinner is cleaned up -- making my own grab & go! Sometimes, though, there's just nothin', so I keep a store of canned sardines for those days. I think I've eaten more sardines in the past three months than I have in the past 50 years. I've had my share back in the day, though, as I remember more than one picnic lunch of sardines + yellow mustard on white bread a la my dad.

Here's the thing. I've been eating this way for three months and I'm not sick of it! I'm thrilled with the results -- weight loss among them, but SO much more -- and I'm not done yet! I know that there are a million other options -- for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner -- I just haven't fully explored them all. I have all these cookbooks & recipes on my Kindle, in Evernote, bookmarked on websites and blogs, and boards on Pinterest with recipes and ideas that I've yet to try! I haven't made a single thing that I didn't like and I'm excited about making more -- there's still so much to explore!

So here are some of my favorite things:

  • Whole30. I signed up for the Whole30 Daily before I really even committed. It was part of my "practicing," testing the waters; it was also quite motivating. There are a lot of free resources on the site, including some very helpful downloads.
  • The book -- a LOT of information with science, resources, and some recipes. No-Fuss Salmon Cakes is one of my stand-bys -- have also experimented with it, using both salmon and sweet potato that I've prepared instead of using canned. This is the first book I purchased on the subject and I think of it as the bible.

  • The second book I purchased was recommended by Janine, and I actually was able first to borrow it on my Kindle Fire (with Amazon Prime). LOVE THAT. Chock FULL of recipes. We devour The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat every time. That link also takes you to the author's site, The Clothes Make The Girl, where you might learn that she is working on Well Fed 2!

  • Another cookbook that I love is Practical Paleo. Not all of the recipes in this book are Whole30 compliant, but I don't intend to avoid all grain, all dairy, and all sugar for all time. I will certainly be limiting those things for the rest of my life -- and choosing wisely -- but I have made numerous tasty recipes in this book. I also love the meal plans, which make considerable use of leftovers. It's a winner.

  • I have just downloaded a sample of the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, having quickly thumbed through a friend's copy the other day. This one may soon be permanently added to "the shelf."

  • Another book I've been using a lot, and that I love for it's planned use of leftovers, is Weeknight Paleo. Very well organized -- by week, with shopping lists, helpful hints and resources -- and with great photography, it's high priced compared to the others, but the electronic version (which I have) (available here - scroll down) is a little easier to take. I made the Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork the other day and it is AMAZING! The website is Paleo Savvy.

  • Chowstalker. A great resource for recipes, all contributed by and linked to food blogs.
  • Pinterest. I have begun a Yummy - Paleo board. You can find all of my boards here (I haven't made use of the "secret" board yet, have you?).
  • Oh, I forgot, also Wheat Belly! It's not strictly "Paleo" or Whole30, either, but is quite informative. Not a ton of recipes, but I recently made Pecan-Encrusted Chicken with Tapenade and it was amazing!

Well, that's pretty much what I've been using so far on this journey. One of the things I did when I began making changes to the way I ate was to simply remove temptation. It's amazing how limiting the assault helps resolve and willpower get stronger and stronger! As do results! When I stopped to pay attention, I was amazed at how many food-related pages were in my Facebook feed -- and they weren't very good ones! I either "unliked" or hid them as they popped up, and eventually replaced them with more relevant feeds. Most of the websites linked, above, have Facebook feeds, and there's quite a community out there.

This is a LONG post, congrats to you if you've made it to the end! If you have, I have no choice but to assume that you have made, or are interested in making, similar changes! I wasn't really intending to do this, but leave a comment. Talk to me! And at noon CST on Thanksgiving Day, I'll choose one at random to receive an Amazon gift card -- so you can maybe try one of those books for yourself. Or something else!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am paid a percentage of any purchases made through following an Amazon link.


Random house and tree


Well, I thought I'd muster more today, but it just never happened and now my brain cells have left the building. When all else fails, a quick troll through "My Pictures" usually turns up something. This is one of the first photos I took on Scottish soil on our trip there (almost two years ago)! I guess Scotland's on my mind after seeing the latest James Bond movie.

It's hard to believe Katie will be attending school there at this time next year. She's so excited, she's doing research and writing a paper for practice -- and loving it and also speaking French. C'est oui. Heh. Soon enough, she'll be writing essays and papers for reals.

The days sure can drag sometimes, but the months are moving right along, and that's all gonna be happening right quick.


Be a quitter

In March it'll be eight years since I quit smoking. I don't get on the soap box about it much, if ever. As much as I hate being preached to, which is a lot, I almost hate being the preacher more!

Today is the Great American Smokeout, though, and so smoking is on my mind.

It took me a few tries over many years before I finally quit -- for good, it appears. I rarely even think about smoking these days.

It's one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my family. I'm rather slow about it, but I think successfully quitting smoking has aided in since making a series of good-for-me lifestyle changes: quitting soda, becoming more fit and active, and recent dietary changes that have resulted in significant weight loss.

For me, in all these things, awareness and planning were/are key. Complete avoidance of triggers and temptation is impossible, so I had to figure out in advance how I'd handle those situations.

I documented my journey back in the day, and you can read all about it here (scroll to the bottom to get to the beginning).

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

I urge you to set a date.

* * * * *

Thank goodness for the Smokeout today! We're half-way through NaBloPoMo and my blog fodder cupboard is bare. Well, not quite bare, but pickin's are slim! What to blog?


Getting the ball rolling

Today we took a trip to Art Imig's (since 1905) in Sheboygan.

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I'd recently asked Facebook for "local" recommendations if one had a wedding dress from the late 1950s that, while just barely spared relegation to the "dress up box," was not exactly treated as a treasured heirloom, and now one's daughter wanted to wear it! Who knew?? I received at least two recommendations for Art Imig's.

The dress is very dirty, having spent a couple of years collecting dust while displayed on a mannequin in my bedroom. There's a splotch of light green (latex) paint on it, and another unidentified stain (possibly beverage), plus a bit of yellowing in certain areas that will probably not ever completely disappear. Mum had done some remodeling of the sleeves herself prior to her Big Day... and there are some additional tears and frayed edges from use and wear and carelessness. It's actually not too bad, considering everything. It fits Ali well to a point, but some alterations will definitely have to be made -- and she has ideas.

Step 1: Clean the dress.
Step 2: Determine overall condition and whether to proceed.
Step 3: If proceeding, further consult with tailoring/alterations.

Both of the women we met with today were very excited about the project, and that makes me feel good.

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Then it was time for lunch! We visited Field to Fork and it was delicious! Along with the recommendations for Imig's, there were recommendations for lunch! It looks like there'll be at least a couple more trips to Art Imig's in the coming months, so maybe we'll be able to visit them all!


Ten on Tuesday: Feed me!

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Items Your Local Food Pantry Can Use

Well, Carole has both insight and ideas, as does everyone else who participated in this week's Ten on Tuesday topic (scroll down to see links to other participants' posts); they are excellent posts and I don't have much more to add.

But, of course, I do have something to add!

I stopped at my credit union on the way home from work today and was greeted by a cart full of groceries in the lobby. They are having a "Stock The Shelves" food and fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. The really great thing about giving money for this drive is that the credit union not only matches it, but multiplies it by 3! $1 = $3; $100 = $300!

I also stopped at the grocery store. They have pre-made dummy grocery bags at the checkout lanes that can be easily grabbed and added to the total; the checker scans it and asks the donation amount. Every $50 buys a turkey dinner for a family of 4-6, and the store will add another dinner for every four that are donated. The meals are delivered to and distributed by local food pantries at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'm sure there are a million similar activities going on right now -- Scouts, churches, civic groups, radio stations, stores -- for food and toys and, of course, MONEY! Thing is, they aren't hard to find (I wasn't even looking) and they do everything they can to make it easy!


Remember April?

On the coldest morning of the year so far, I do!! No snow here yet, though.

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I saw Skyfall on Saturday night and I.LOVED.IT! It had everything I want in a James Bond movie -- sexy, martinis, sexy, Aston Martin, sexy, action, sexy, adventure, sexy, smart. Daniel Craig, Dame Judy Dench, and Ralph Fiennes were terrific, as expected, and I was simply delighted with Javier Bardem's bad, bad boy.


My McGunnegle

My McGunnegle

Started in March when I went to the Knit-in in Madison. It's been finished for a month, and still no model shot! My mother-in-law was a McGunnegle, hence the name change.

It's been one of those days when I've been running around a lot, but feel as thought I'm not accomplishing much. I did manage a wee update of the Make.Do Shop today! That's something. Tomorrow, I'd like to get some dyeing done.

It's been a busy week of work and celebrating! I enjoyed a belated birthday dinner with Mom, Kate, Ali, and Rod (my future son-in-law) last night, and on Wednesday we celebrated Rod's daughter's (that would be my future granddaughter) 13th birthday.


Um, yeah! There's a lot of stuff to get used to around here these days!! Rod is wonderful, his daughter is a delight, and Alison is so, so happy. Can't argue with that.

Off to see SKYFALL tonight -- some scenes shot in the Highlands, I swear James Bond parked his car in exactly the same spot we did!



There may be better versions of this song on YouTube, but I love the dancing, clowning around, and good time in this one!! The Treniers are a hoot!

Ragmop, something I'd never confuse with my Ragtops!

Ragtop III

  • Project: Ragtop III, Ragtop by Susan Lawrence
  • Yarn: Cascade 220 - a partial skein that my sister gave me, found in the stash
  • Needle: US 6 (DPNs)
  • Start to Finish: November 2 - November 7, 2012

I cast these on while waiting for my flight in Green Bay on Friday and was nearly finished with the first mitt by the time I made San Francisco, even with generous snooze time. After our day at Point Reyes on Sunday, we had a leisurely evening of knitting and reading on the houseboat. I finished the first mitt and made a good start on the second. I didn't knit quite as much on the way home, but still managed to finish up the second on Wednesday... and broke them in on Thursday! Wonderful pattern, I love them!!

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I want The Treniers at my next party... Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, too!


Flying the friendly skies

I'm still bitter over the demise of yesterday's post, but it's time to Just Do It again. New plan: upload all the photos, then add the words.

Last year, for the first time ever, Rusty flew out to California for his more-or-less annual ocean/beach infusion. He was in a position to give up his seat for a later flight on the way home, as is sometimes requested, and was awarded a travel voucher in return. Offered up for any of us to use, I had thoughts about Rhinebeck, Kate had thoughts about visiting west coast friends and, just like that, a year goes by, expiration is looming, and Brazil is on the table.

I did some research and found that it would cost $x in addition to the voucher, which just so happened to be the total cost of a flight to Brazil on a different airline (practically from my back door, too). Well, that's sort of a no-brainer, huh? I booked a mid-January flight to Rio on the other airline -- and still had a voucher to use!

This year, Rusty's trip west not only occurred later than usual, he'll also be away longer. He's working his way from the first stop in Idaho, through Washington and Oregon, and eventually all the way to his brother's and dad's in Southern California. Also gone for my birthday, we determined that he'd be in the Bay Area then and, well, wouldn't it be nice...

I landed in San Francisco early Friday afternoon. Rusty'd packed a little lunch and our first stop was at the beach for a snack. Having done only a drive-by of Chinatown when we were there in 1995 with the kids (not to mention that my main focus then was on a 4yo, not sightseeing), I wanted to visit there and also Fisherman's Wharf.

On the way, we drove through the beautiful Presidio and also stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts - just as a couple of bridal parties were arriving for photos! Adorable.

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Chinatown on a Friday afternoon is very busy! We walked up a crowded "local" street and back down another that was definitely more geared toward tourists. I was intrigued by the roasted birds of all sizes in the windows -- chickens and ducks, certainly, but also some small enough to fit in my hand. Rusty found himself at a bakery counter ordering what he thought were two large almond cookies... and, um, they were not almond cookies!

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I posted the photo from Alioto's on Fisherman's Wharf the other day. The view was spectacular, and we had a fabulous dinner. Rusty had trout, I had sand dabs (similar to flounder), and we shared dessert.

We stayed in San Rafael -- the first night in the guest room, but the rest of the time in the houseboat.

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Toto, we're not in Wisconsin anymore!

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Our host (Rusty's been here before) helped to build the houseboat in 1980, then lived in it while he built his househouse. It is absolutely adorable, full of light from leaded and stained glass windows, and beautiful wood throughout!

It was very hard to leave.

On Saturday, we stopped at China Camp State Park for a clam chowder lunch on our way to Berkeley to and a meet up with Celia!

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Huey Lewis and the News have been to China Camp, too! This picture hangs just to the left of the open door you can see back there.

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When I turned, I saw myself in this O-L-D cigarette machine on the other side of the doorway.

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There were photos of John Wayne around the place, too, Blood Alley having been filmed there in the 1950s.

On the way to our main destination in Berkeley, we did a little recon to see if the warehouse that Rusty lived in and managed for his friend Tim in the early '70s was still there... and it was!

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Now home of Crixa Cakes, it's practically across the street from Berkeley Bowl!

We made our way to Lacis and I just don't know what I can possibly say. If ever you find yourself in the area, just go... take your time, and be sure to ask for a tour of the museum.

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Due to keen interest by all, including some young girls, we were given an extended tour by owner Jules Kliot. You could spend days there (three store fronts + upstairs) and not see it all!

Celia and I also made our way to A Verb for Keeping Warm (keep an eye out for the start of an AVKW Marin). Great shop -- friendly, nice selection of yarn, and also fabric, sewing machines and work space!

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We enjoyed a delicious dinner with Celia, her husband, her brother, and a family friend, followed by a walk to Ici for dessert.

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Mmmm, Celia and I had Cranberry Lime Sorbet, I'm pretty sure Rusty had Cookies & Cream.

On Sunday -- the best weather of all the days I was there (and none of them was bad) -- we hit the beach! Specifically, we drove out to Point Reyes National Seashore.

The waves were amazing -- again -- so I let Rusty hang on North Beach while I scouted Drake's Beach, South Beach, and the Chimney Rock area.

I hiked up to an overlook at Drake's Beach, which you can see above, and later we hiked out on the Chimney Rock Trail just about to the end of the point in the photo below.

I am reminded of Scotland for some reason... and I must not be the only one because we drove through Inverness on the way here, plus there were a lot of other Scottish place names in use throughout the area.


Never enough beach, there was one more quick stop before heading back!

And then it was Monday and a noon-ish flight back home. I managed to squeeze in a stop at Dharma Trading Co. on the way to the airport!

It was a quick trip, but jam packed and a perfect way to use that voucher!



Well, I had a great post going about my wonderful trip to San Francisco, which I saved numerous times during the course of writing and inserting photos. I was just about finished when I inserted the last few photos, saved, and somehow everything else was completely wiped out. It's not the first time this has happened and, well, it just takes the wind right out of my sail.

I'll try to muster it back up again for tomorrow.

Thank you for all the lovely birthday wishes! And thank you for voting.


Ten on Tuesday: On my mind

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things On My Mind Right Now

1. It's my birthday!

a. It's also Election Day and, thank you universe, that's *almost* the best present ever! There were 17 messages on my answering machine at last glance. (I am voting this afternoon.)

2. California Dreaming! I had such a great weekend away.


3. Big waves! They were amazing, the weather phenomenal.

4. Time! Time! Time!

5. Snow. (It's in the forecast.)

6. The upcoming quiet weekend at home. It's so much rougher when my day off is on a Monday... the weekend seems *so* far away!

7. Thanksgiving.

8. Christmas is even starting to creep.

9. The holidays are going to be weird this year -- making the best of it, planning new things.

10. Practicing... mentally packing and re-packing my suitcase (with an emphasis on packing light) for a first-ever mid-winter vacation to someplace warm.


Traveling knitter's progress

Cast on first mitt at Green Bay and was nearly finished upon arrival at San Francisco. I finished it off last night after a busy day, and cast on the second for the return flight. Progress isn't quite as good, but I'm in Minneapolis and am working the thumb gusset and that's not bad. Full report on my birthday get-away is coming!

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Dinner at Alioto's on Fishermen's Wharf made a wonderful ending to arrival day. Two more full days and lots of adventure in the Bay Area before winging home again on Monday.


Sticky fingers

Last night was the last of the 2-session "Vintage Collage" class that my friend and I took together to celebrate our birthdays.

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We each had our own set of tables on which to spread and sprawl. Here's mine as I continued to snip and cut and play around with my design. It's been rearranged and glued, but there is still some finishing work to be done. I love that we each painted and distressed a frame for our finished piece.

The only complaint, as it were (and we all wrote about it on the eval), is that I wished the sessions had been a week apart instead of only two days. Not enough time! Interestingly, that's what the instructor originally had in mind, but she was overruled by the powers that be.

It was a lot of fun, though, and I'm so glad we did it! I'm looking forward to building my collection of raw material and making more. I have a nice sharp scissors, a glue stick, a big bottle of Mod-Podge, and I know how to use them!!

Snip, snip!


On the needles

This is Eisig-Warm. I bought the colorful yarn at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool in September -- I'm not sure who the vendor was and the yarn didn't have a tag, I just remember that it was called "Pansy" and that's all I needed to know. It's beautiful, very soft, and I'm gonna say alpaca.

I've already started a few different projects with that yarn but none of them sang. Eisig-Warm has been in my Favorites for a while and thought I'd give it a try. How hard could it be to find companion colors with that palette? I cast on and knit the first section, then went stash diving.

Well, it's harder than you might think! It took several tries to come up with this arrangement. I really thought I'd find something in among the stashed odds & ends -- one of those extra hanks of Cascade 220 that I used for St. Brigid, for example (it looked "okay," but not great).

I decided to check my meager store of hand-dyed in a weight that would work and Lo! It's sort of freaky how well these go together. I'm quite a bit further now than the picture shows -- that yellow really pops, but I'm thinking it will all work perfectly once wrapped 'round my neck.

A little pop is good, right?

In need of some travel knitting, and quite smitten with Margene's new Ragtops, I know I ran across some marinating stash that would be perfect for another pair (or four). I have two pair already, one in each cuff variation, but both in the same rather bright yarn!

At this time, I'd like to thank President Barack Obama for visiting Austin-Straubel International Airport in Green Bay this morning instead of tomorrow morning!! I'm taking wing for a quick birthday weekend get away -- any guesses where?


Setting the stage

Tomorrow, November 1st, marks the start of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month, the baby sister of NaNoWriMo/National Novel Writing Month). I have been a NaBloPoMo participant in the past (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), successful in daily posting for all but one or two of those days, and I shall give it another go for 2012!

I think I'll have enough to talk about... or to show. There's at least another post or two about food/diet that I'd like to share, there's some upcoming travel to talk about, there's a birthday and an election (all on the same day!), the Thanksgiving holiday, some knitting and dyeing, and the usual various general everyday run-of-the-mill blather...

Here's to the next 30 days!

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I snapped this pic of last night's sky while waiting for the light to change. I was on my way to the first of a two-night community ed class called "Vintage Collage." I have always loved collage, and timing was perfect to take it with a long-time friend; our birthdays are a week apart and we're viewing this as a gift to each other as well as to ourselves.

Snip, snip! The paper is flying and creative juices are flowing!

And I felt my first twinge of carpal tunnel-type discomfort in the middle of the night after an evening spent doing fine cutting -- it's been AGES since I've felt that! It hasn't been bothersome at all today, though, so that's good.

More tomorrow...

And the next day...

And the next day...