Unraveled Wednesday: My 2nd FO of '22

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


As mentioned the other day, I finished Close To You over the weekend -- bound off on Friday, blocked on Saturday, modeled on Sunday, and worn on Monday!


Ginny was my "it" girl... STRIKE A POSE!

  • My Ravelry Project Page: Close to Puerto Rico
  • Pattern: Close To You by Justyna Lorkowska
  • Yarn: Make.Do Be (Hellebore colorway)
  • Needles:  US 6
  • Start to Finish: March 5-14, 2022

Cast on & set up just before leaving on vacation (because traveling with long straight aluminum knitting needles in a carry-on), it was the only project I worked on while in Puerto Rico.

I wasn't so sure... I love that colorway, but it was looking a little muddy at first. The little pops of green some nice sections of the stronger colors, along with the texture & overall design -- it looked better as I progressed, and I'm glad I stuck with it. It looks great with black, which is the color I wear most often.


It looks great with polka dots, too!


Well, last night there was some ripping... 10 rows yanked because I spotted this:


My stitch count was off the other night and I "fixed" it, thinking I knew where the problem was. The real problem was here, at the beginning of the row and I never noticed until I picked up my knitting last night and, of course, it was glaringly obvious! I pondered possible solutions for about one second, and then started to rip... it was the only way!

So, 10 rows backward and a bunch more forward, and now I'm here:


The colors are a tad more vivid in this photo than in real life, but it's close. The day/high temp side will "grow" and the nights/low temp side will "shrink" by about 10 more stitches before they start going back the other way. This panel will be quite symmetrical since Rusty was born just a few days past Winter Solstice.


I continue listening to AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON.



I started the bind-off of Close to You on Friday night while awaiting the arrival of Airbnb guests...


...and, to my surprise, I finished it!

That meant that on Saturday, I gave the shawl and soak and spread it out on the blocking mat to dry.


There are quite a few little picots along the bound-off edge, but only ONE of them is GREEN! I love it. Details on Wednesday!

On Saturday & Sunday, I was back to Temperature knitting!


It's grown by quite a few rows even since this photo was taken. Update on Wednesday!

We've hit the laundry room floor project in earnest since we returned from vacation. I've been finding all sorts of relics and old papers -- receipts & warranties for things we don't have anymore, business bookkeeping that could have been tossed several years ago already.

Back in the day, when we had only one computer, the "laundry room" was the nerve center! I kept books, paid bills, did ancestry research; the kids played (educational) video games and/or wrote fan fiction; Rusty could barely turn on a computer at that point in time. Times sure change.


That's the first digital camera I bought... a whopping 4.1 megapixels! (The camera on my current phone is 12!) We have two of these cameras, because Sharon's came into our possession after she died. I was thinking of donating them, but they might be put to better use by the kiddos -- they can document their gardening this summer (among other things).

At Christmas, I gave them a year-long, weekly "Gardening for Kids" course offered by a local naturalist. I print out each week's lesson & give it to Ali to add to the main binder; they each have a smaller binder with all sorts of paper -- graph paper for plotting, plain paper for drawing, lined paper for writing -- a cute notebook, markers, etc. They're beginning prep to start seeds soon!

Ali & the kids came over yesterday -- it's the first time I've seen the kids since returning from vacation, as they were passing a little bug around amongst themselves last week! I recruited a new model... you can get a little preview of the finished Close To You shawl in my Instagram Story.


Supporting Ukrainian knit/crochet designers

I get a little irritated with Ravelry sometimes when 3-4 months go by and there's nothing new on the Home page.

There's a new post as of yesterday, though, that is on point. "Search designers by country..." specifically Ukraine. (There's much more info on Rav about how to customize the search as desired.)

Ravelry is waiving invoices for February sales of Ukraine-based designers and will continue to do so while the conflict/war persists.

I've made purchases this morning from a couple of designers and thought that you might like to consider doing the same. I'll likely go back and buy a few more because, WOW, there are some beauties!


Sunrise from the newly dubbed Sunrise-Viewing Room (aka, Garden Room) (thanks, Cathy!).

I hope that peace & freedom are soon restored, and that you have a wonderful weekend.


Unraveled Wednesday: Vacation Knitting

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


I brought a bunch of mini-skeins of yarn for some small crochet things that I thought I might do -- even put it in my carry-on -- but I never even looked at it.

I had some balls of yarn, DPNs, and a couple of gnome patterns... but I didn't look at that, either.

I was recently reminded how much I loved knitting & wearing my Close To You shawl and I've always wanted to knit another, so at the last minute I wound up a ball of yarn that's been hanging around, gathered needles & pattern, cast on and knit the first couple of rows, and tucked it all in my suitcase.


It was perfect for vacation, as it starts small and grows. I'd knit while we caught up on Olympics or watched a movie before bed, and it was great for knitting on the beach, too.


I love the subtle pops of green...


...and I think that those pops will get a little bigger & brighter as I progress through the skein.


Maybe those bits of "neon green" spoke to my subconscious... I've finally begun reading again! I started AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON on Monday and should be finished in time for the discussion.


As established a while ago, it wasn't practical to bring my Temperature Blanket along on vacation, but I could bring the data/charts that still needed work! Everything is stored in a Google Drive folder, and Rusty brought his laptop. I took a planned break for an hour on Sunday afternoon and attended my first Vogue Knitting Live event -- a virtual talk by Cara about temperature/data projects! I was happily surprised that she gave my project a little shout-out in the presentation -- along with Kay Gardiner's projects (plural!), Suraya Hossain's Heirloom Temperature Blanket, and Tara Seifrit's NH Year 1 Temperature Blanket (one of my biggest inspirations when planning my design) (which I hope works). Inspired (again), I did a little work on my chart and nearly have it finished!

Anyway, I can't wait to get back to that project -- and my Hexie crocheted project -- but I'm really into knitting this shawl right now. First, the colorway is HELLEBORE (which I dyed a few years ago in a couple of yarn weights), and it'll be perfect for SPRING (which is happening this month), and it sure seems like a long time since I've had a finished object that wasn't a gnome or a hat. So, it's going fast and I'm just going to go 'til it's done, and then back to all those other things!


Puerto Rico in a... shell (or two)

Rusty & I had a great vacation in Puerto Rico and both got what we needed most...


Him: Lots of beach time.


Me: Lots of sleep.


I slept in every single day, and napped when I could, too.


We did much more, and I'll tell the tales...


...but mostly it was this.


And a little of that! I'll have more to say about that tomorrow for Unraveled Wednesday... but right now, I'll say that I'm still amazed at how much that colorway (Hellebore) matches the coral that Rusty found, and that'll make it the perfect reminder of the trip (since we left the coral behind).


Rusty's "note" became a lovely record of our week in Puerto Rico.

_ _ _ _ _

Meanwhile, my heart is in Ukraine. I am so uplifted by some of the stories I've read about Ukrainians...

Ukrainian Librarians

...along those lines.

And their president is incredible.

I am also lifted by the amazing work of people like Chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen, who are not only helping to feed hungry people in Ukraine, but all over the world. If there is a disaster and a need for food, WCK is there, slinging hash and taking care of people. I've donated what we might otherwise spend going out for dinner, and perhaps you'd consider a donation, too.


Sights on Tomorrow

Vacation begins tomorrow at 2 p.m. and I AM SO READY.

I had the weekend from hell with an unfortunate situation at Ann's Airbnb + textbook scammy/scummy guests.


The "linty" stuff in this photo is water dripping from the bathroom above.

Long story short: I got a message with a bunch of photos of dripping water in the basement at 9:59pm on Friday, also that they hadn't had hot water all day, and, oh by the way, "we found a condom in our bed."

I'm almost as FURIOUS now as I was at 10:00 on Friday, and I think my face is just as red.

Rusty & I were there within minutes to assess, turn off the gas to the water heater, etc. There were supposed to be two guests, but it was evident that there were more, and it was all just so stupid... "we didn't want to cause problems" by telling me that there wasn't any hot water.

I got the plumber there as soon as I could on Saturday, and found that the guests had vacated without a word and basically incommunicado, which only added to my fury (the incommunicado part). (There was an exchange with Ann later that evening, along with a demand for a full refund, of course.) They didn't trash the place, thank god. Turns out, the threaded connection for the shower head gave out, likely hastened in part by some aggressive handling of the shower control (which will need to be replaced), so the water was just spewing out the pipe between the walls, and then through the floor, and on the water heater which caused it to kick out (and thankfully, not get toasted altogether). The alleged condom (complete with incredibly vague & generic photo) was allegedly found in the bedroom most recently occupied by Ann & Brian! She is more than a few years past menopause; the bed had been unmade/remade at least twice since the previous booking; and the description of where it was actually found was different from each of the allegedly offended parties. Dumbasses.

The plumber will be returning today to finish repairs... because there are new guests arriving on Friday! Rusty & I have to get the place shipshape tonight. I had a good head start over the weekend, so it shouldn't take too long.

I can't say I wasn't shaken quite a bit by the whole thing. I had my own gracious and respectful guests this weekend, so at least I got a little dose of GOOD.

Island breezes, crashing waves, tropical temperatures, sand between my toes... I hope it's enough!!

In other news, and as a palate cleanser...


Rusty & I had the kids on Thursday night for a few hours, as Ali attended the funeral of a friend from high school. All four kids are in that photo with Rusty -- can you pick them all out? Davy found the Cold Turkey Chicken Viking Hat that my co-quitter friend Ann made for me when we quit smoking -- almost 17 years ago! Isn't he adorable? I could spam you with a few more photos but I'll refrain.

Do you remember my weird amaryllis situation a while back? Kym had suggested that I cut it & plunk in water to see if it would at least bloom.


And it did! It's so pretty, and there might be another blossom or two yet to come. It was so nice to notice that yesterday!


I spent a little time with my spreadsheet for the Temperature Blanket, too. I finished the one for Rusty's panel, and got the data organized for all the other panels. There are a lot of color changes, but it's looking pretty great -- and I'm so curious to see how the other charts compare. Photos as soon as I get some good light!

I helped Mamie, the new owner of the coffee shop, with her first payroll yesterday, working out a couple of things she wants to do differently, and I'll continue helping with other bookkeeping for a few months... at least until her head stops spinning! She's got so much on her plate right now. I'm looking forward to closing the door for good on all that, but I'm not a jerk.

Yarn was wound and a few items gathered for possible vacation knitting/crocheting... I'm finding it hard to concentrate on that task. I have to figure it all out by tonight, though, because we're packing up tonight (after the Airbnb is set) and we're leaving right from work tomorrow afternoon.




The three big kids slept over on Saturday night.


I'll spare you the photo of the floor covered with LEGO, K'nex, Playful Patterns, wooden blocks, dolls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. Haha. We watched a couple of movies, some of the Olympics (they were very impressed with snowboarders & figure skaters), played with all of the aforementioned toys (and more), and the kids had baths.

Those are Malina's tracings of her own hands. Pretty impressive for an almost-4yo!


Bonus of Davy -- from last week, not the weekend -- blurry but so cute!

I'm delighted that our travel plans have been worked out. It took a 5-hour texting session with various agents at the airline, but I'd rather do that than be on hold listening to "music" for hours. Anyway, we'll fly to Chicago the afternoon before originally planned, stay overnight at the airport hotel, then catch the early morning direct flight to San Juan, arriving mid-afternoon. Puerto Rico currently has 1.5 hours more daylight than we do, and all at the end of the day, so it'll be perfect for driving across the island.


Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday... but no reading. I am on hiatus, I guess. It's happened once or twice before.


This is the start of my Temperature Blanket! That knitting represents about the first two weeks of Rusty's life -- December 1947-January 1948 -- in Southern California. The daytime high temps are on the left and the nighttime lows are on the right... in a few more rows, the days will start becoming noticeably longer! It's a little fiddly, but I'm finding a groove, and it is SO SATISFYING! Look at that!

What I really need to do is streamline my information -- the number of day/night stitches is on one page, the temperatures are on another, and the colors are on a third (color chart)... it's a balancing act and I am constantly counting. (There might be a color/temp mistake in there, but I won't tell if you won't!) All I know is that I'm really glad I didn't follow through to the end with all five charts just yet.

I'm still wondering how I can pack a project with 20+ balls of yarn for vacation, but more "realistically" pondering packing Hexie Love...


...one ball of yarn, but one big project... made of wool. It'll be 80+ degrees. The sane option would be to cast on a pair of socks or something.

I've been online and on the phone for much of the day trying to figure out how we can arrive in Puerto Rico... not in the dark. The original booking back in September had us with only one connection (at O'Hare) and arriving mid-afternoon. The airline made a couple of changes, adding another connection (Houston... not good memories of Houston), with less than an hour for each connection, and arriving at almost 9 p.m., which means we'd be lucky to be on the road by 10 and it's a 2-hour drive to our destination, across an island that we've never visited before!


I am currently texting with an agent (this is new, and I like it!) and we're this >< close to re-booking departure on the last flight out of here the day before. I've already booked our overnight stay, and we'll catch an early flight to San Juan the next morning, arriving in... daylight.

Stay tuned...


Random January Weekending

So... buttons on your underwear!?

That's not how I intended to begin this post, but once I wrote, "So," it just came out. Have you ever heard that expression before? My brother-in-law finished someone's "So..." in this way over the weekend and could not believe that none of us had ever heard it before. It must not be very commonly used by him, either, because I've known him for going-on 20 years and never heard him say it before... surely, in all that time, there must have been opportunity!


So, as of this Wednesday, we won’t have to test to enter Puerto Rico! The (non-returnable) tests I ordered will be here today were just delivered, and I had notification that the government tests will also be delivered today, so we'll be prepared!


I packed up all my yarn-y stuff at the coffee shop yesterday! We have begun packing up the laundry (and-so-much-more) room in order to lay the new floor and I couldn't think of a single place to put it all, so took it right down to the storage unit (where mostly Kate has stuff).


I'll be bringing the wall-mounted grid wall home and will use it in my hopefully-somewhat-soon-to-be revamped dye studio; I also have legs for it, so options!

Meanwhile, if anyone needs/wants an MDK Field Guide or a tote bag from the defunct Fringe Supply, I'm your girl.

The boys walked over Saturday prior to their departure to Madison for the week. Their 99yo Nana is moving into a rehab facility today, having fallen & broken a hip earlier this month, and they head back to Lima on Friday. While they wrestled with each other in the living room (boys!), I made my color card for the Temperature Blanket.


Then, having found myself with a little time yesterday afternoon -- after my nap and before a coffee shop "transition" get-together -- I cast on!


I worked about the first week of Rusty's first year of life! And I am already in love with this project... and wondering how I can pack a project with 20+ balls of yarn for vacation!!

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the start of Fiberuary!


I had so much fun doing the Fiberuary Challenge on Instagram last year, I'm going to try it again!

This month FLEW BY!! I'm sure it had to do with my sister & her family being "here" for most of the month, with everything surrounding Ali's sale of the coffee shop, and with BIRTHDAYS! Junah's, Annie's... and today would have been my mom's 84th! (That's baby Junah in the photo with her!)


I'm looking forward to February, which is usually my least favorite month, but at least it's short -- I've already flipped that calendar and there's a vacation in plain view!


Right Now... February straight ahead!

Anticipating... the arrival of virtual-visit Covid tests.

Celebrating... my mother, and what would have been her 84th birthday on the 31st.

Enjoying... my sister's visit! It's been so fun having her family all so close by, able to walk over for a visit or to have dinner, swinging around the corner to pick her up on the way to the store. They've been back & forth between here & Madison a few times... tomorrow they head back down there, and we won't see them again until summer. They are flying back to Lima a week from today.

Hoping... just... holding on and HOPING! Y'know that the end finally comes into view.


Knitting... I've been quite lackadaisical about knitting/crocheting all month. Recovering from holiday hoopla. Enjoying my sister & family. Being quiet.

I am in the process of ripping a couple of rounds of the border on Hexi Love... maybe all the way to the beginning. I'm just not happy with it, so I'll keep doing it until I am. It would be nice to have that project finished, though (so close).

I'm not doing the actual knitting yet, but I have been deep into planning a Temperature Blanket project (whenever I find a spare minute)!


Those are spreadsheets with hi/lo temperatures for each of us (from birthdate to first birthday, in the location where we were at the time), a simple sketch/worksheet, a not-to-scale mock up on paper, and Rusty's chart and row-by-row instructions.

The idea is a 12" x 60" panel for each of us with hi/lo temps for each day. It'll be garter stitch, so two rows/one ridge for each day, with a little bit of intarsia -- the curving line represents hours of day/night. Rusty was born in Southern California the day after Christmas, so his "day/night" chart is close to symmetrical. I was born in Milwaukee and lived most of my first year in Escanaba, MI, so mine is a little different. The girls are basically all the same, with their birthdays falling between April 16-25; the temperature/color is where differences will be interesting! Kate represents the Oregon Coast, and Ali & Maddy are NE Wisconsin. They'll be sewn together in the end, probably with Rusty & me flanking the girls. But we shall see. There's a lot of knitting to do -- but the data already exists, so I am not limited by current/future events.

Inspired by a bunch of people:

So those are my rainbow-y colors, above; Rowan Felted Tweed (mainly because I already have at least one ball of each color, and dye lots are not going to matter if/when I need more) for a large garter stitch throw; coldest (-19F) on bottom left, warming as you move right and follow around to the top row and hottest (97F) on top left.

Looking forward to... 85°F (or so) and a week in Puerto Rico soon. I'd booked this vacation back in September when things were looking pretty good for travel, and PR was an "easy" destination. Omicron changed that, however, and now PR requires a negative Covid test within 48 hours of arrival, and I've been getting increasingly worried about securing said test. I stopped at Walgreens last night to talk about it... and learned that they'd administered their last in-stock test yesterday morning, tests are now on back order and they have no idea of delivery. GREAT (not!). At least we won't have to test to return (knock on wood!).

Needing... to find a travel project that is more portable than a rainbow blanket! I am thinking socks for Viv, but I know me... and I'm going to need more than one project, even if I actually work on neither!

Organizing... my workroom/office (always!) is a complete disaster. But at some point in the near future, I will be removing/archiving all of the coffee shop bookkeeping/records, and that will give me room (even if it's just head space).

Planning... a trip to Denver with Kate at the end of April! She'll be here for a couple of weeks April-May, and she just told me this morning that she's been approved for an even longer vacation in July -- when Maddy & Viv plan to be here, as does Ann & fam! A regular ol' reunion in the works!! (Can we adopt the UK vacation/leave policies please???)

Reading... I've been as lackadaisical about reading as I have about knitting/crocheting.


Sewing... I'm not sewing anything yet, but when I saw this fabric at Target the other day -- on a pair of knit bellbottom pants -- and discovered that each leg has only one seam -- my gears started turning. There isn't a particular pattern/garment in mind yet, but they'll eventually transform into something for the girls -- a top, a skirt, a dress... I don't know. On a whim, I tried them on when I got home and was surprised that they actually fit (yay for stretchy knits), even if they're a bit long. Annie bought a pair two and want us to wear them together! What a sight! Maybe I can make a headband or something out of the waistband for myself. I just can't get over that print -- so simple, but so much to love!


Thinking about... what the end game is with this amaryllis! Methinks there must be or was a bug.

Watching... Around the World in 80 Days, All Creatures Great & Small, Finding Your Roots.


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


Now and then

Rusty & I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary yesterday. Ali & the kids came over for dinner & a visit in the evening.


Two dapper dudes in plaid. Davy is something else these days... finding different ways to amuse himself, and sometimes finding himself to be pretty hilarious!

Nine years ago, I spent our wedding anniversary in Rio de Janeiro. On one of those days, Ann & I visited the Botanical Garden.


I'd noticed some familiar flowers & foliage that turned out to be Crown of Thorns -- making up an entire hedge. The very old potted plant, above, has been in the greenhouse window at work for as long as I've been here (17 years), and certainly longer. I took it home last summer and divided it, cleaned it up, gave it new soil... and my reward has been a better (not stellar) looking plant and a lot more flowers. Also, I have one at home now, too. It makes me happy and I will always think of Rio when I see/water it!

There's a big weekend coming up!


I have folks driving up from Saint Louis today for tomorrow night's game, and Ann's (repeat) guests are driving up from SW Wisco tomorrow. It is going to be COLD!! Wind chills below zero and at night, so not even the hope of warming sunshine. Welcome to the Frozen Tundra! If the Packers win, they'll play at home again next weekend, and we already have people hedging their bets and booking lodging. Fingers crossed!


Movin' on

Almost 13 years ago, a small volunteer army spent Valentine's Weekend cleaning & transforming the coffee shop, preparing for Ali to open the doors on a Monday -- fresh-faced and ready to take over! She'd worked there while in high school and when the previous owner was ready to move on, he contacted Ali... and the rest is history.

Ali kct feb 2009

And, literally... it's almost history!

Ali kct jan 2022

After almost 13 years, Alison is passing Kaukauna Coffee & Tea on to new owners!

I'm taking my cue and moving on as well. Tonight will be the last Make.Do Knit Night @ KC&T, and I'll be removing all of the yarn-y inventory over the next couple of weeks.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind and, to be honest, my head is spinning a little bit. I still haven't quite processed what this will mean for me -- no more bookkeeping, no more payroll duty every two weeks, no more picking up/delivering weekly orders from Big Box Wholesale Store, no more of all the little things that crop up on any given day.

It's going to be weird for all of us, but I'm sure we'll find our new normal!


Home Improvement(s)

There's a list of them. Making the Garden Room a bit more comfortable in the colder months moved to the top and Rusty's been busy.


First, he made interior storm windows... because why buy them when you can make them yourself? (I can think of one or two reasons, but whatever...) They're not perfect, but they're in and they do seem to make a difference.


Then, he wanted to insulate the ceiling in the "new" part (the white beadboard), which is part of the old wrap-around porch. The "old" Garden Room was part of the old wrap-around at one time, too, but it was incorporated into the house and insulated long ago.


He started with foam insulation board, then some sort of paper/foil barrier; he "found" some lathe strips in the attic, and finished it all off with some bead board similar to the old stuff. The grooves aren't as deep and it's new, but it should age well.


This is classic Rusty-on-the-job. I have a few of these from over the years... sometimes with a banana or cup of coffee in hand.


The wood on the old part of the ceiling was reclaimed from a closet that used to be in the kitchen. A couple passes with some stain and varnish, and it's pretty darn close!


The plants should be happier with the cozier digs. This is one of two new amaryllis, exploding with flower buds! (The other one is biding its time.) I can't wait!

Next thing on the list is the long-overdue laundry room floor! There will be some major cleaning out & purging in that process. Stay tuned.

Oh! We have new neighbors! There's a tragic tale about the house next door, and it's been vacant since last summer -- sold, flipped, and finally (I think) sold again. Looking forward to meeting them and PRAY that we got some "good ones" again.


Soup Weather

I spontaneously joined Ali on a trip to Costco (and Olive Garden) recently. While there, I picked up a bag of shelled fresh peas -- 20 oz. worth -- without a clear thought as to what I'd do with them, though split pea soup with ham was on my mind, as it usually is at this time of year, especially when we've had ham at Christmas... so why not fresh peas? I did a little searching and found this recipe for Ham & Fresh Pea Soup, which I changed very little.


1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pesto
4 medium potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme tied together w/kitchen string
        I used fresh oregano because it's what was on hand;
        a blend of fresh herbs would probably work great
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
20 oz fresh or frozen baby peas
2 c. fresh spinach
3-4 c. diced ham
Feta cheese & fresh thyme for garnish, if desired
        I sprinkled some grated parmesan on top

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Add shallots & cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally; add pesto &cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, herbs, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Remove tied herbs & bay leaf. Add spinach & peas and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to blend to desired texture; I like my vegetables a little chunky. If a smooth texture is desired, a traditional blender would be more efficient (but work in batches & be careful because the soup is hot).

Add the ham and stir well to combine & heat. Taste & add seasonings if needed. Serve hot, garnished with cheese & fresh herbs, if desired.

>>This soup was SO GOOD! Ann & family were over for dinner last night and even the boys liked it.



Recent grocery list

I've been meaning to type up my riff on a Chicken & Rice Soup recipe for Ali. The original is from NYT Cooking (a separate subscription to which I will definitely keep if I ever unsub from the Sunday paper delivery). I made it for her & the kids and it was so easy... but I felt it needed a little (kid-friendly) improvement.


8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken thighs
4 stalks celery, leaves reserved, stalks diced
2 carrots, diced
        My addition to this recipe -- which I did not do but definitely will in the future
3/4 c. unrinsed jasmine rice
1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves
1/2 fresh lemon, zested & juiced
        I used a little Penzey's lemon peel (powder) and juiced the lemon
        (because it's easier*)

In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine broth, chicken, celery, carrots & rice. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat & simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice starts to break down, 20-30 minutes.

Finely chop together the parsley & celery leaves.

When chicken is cooked, transfer it from the pot to a medium bowl using tongs. Using two forks, shred the chicken, the return it to the soup along with the parsley & celery leaves.

*The original recipe instructs to make a mixture from the parsley/celery leaves with lemon & garlic that is used to garnish the soup. Um, first of all, that part didn't register when I read through the recipe, and secondly, there's no way the kids would eat soup with a dollop of green stuff in it -- they balked at the sliced celery! So I just threw the chopped leaves into the soup. One thing it really needed was a little color, so I'll be adding carrots next time! And dicing the celery... so it doesn't look as much like celery!

_ _ _ _ _

I saw this How to Get Unstuck quiz today and quickly skimmed it... nodding YES to every item in Question #2, and finding that so humorous that I couldn't even move on. Haha.

I hope you all have a great weekend... maybe with soup!



It's another 3TT/Unraveled mash up! I'm joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday + Unraveled Wednesday with Kat & the Unravelers.



I finished a hat -- my first FO of 2022!

  • My Ravelry Project Page: Perky Little Bun Hat
  • Pattern: Perky Little Hat by Sharon Lentsch
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Rasta (Boreal colorway)
  • Needles:  US 15
  • Start to Finish: January 3 - January 5, 2022

I actually knit it twice; the first was a test/prototype. Ali wanted a "messy bun" hat, but she has a pretty big bun so I wanted to make sure it would work! I had some leftovers from other projects, so knit up the tester and I'm glad I did because we made a couple of adjustments. The Rasta has very little stretch, so I decided to run some fold-over elastic through the stitches to finish (instead of the yarn).


The colorway is gorgeous! To minimize any pooling or flashing, I knit alternating rows from both ends of the yarn cake.


We'd also decided to lengthen it a bit, which was easily done by knitting an extra row or two or three in each section. I have yarn for at least one more (in a much less exciting color) (which I might end up overdyeing)!


I haven't been reading. When I do, it'll be: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (audio), by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, and (still): This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History (pages).

_ _ _ _ _

It's been a little crazy around here. Annie & her family were supposed to come up for a day or two between Christmas & New Year's Day, but they were hit by Covid/Omicron... falling like dominoes over a couple of days. Thankfully, all vaxxed, so none of them got very sick but their visit was postponed. They're all here now and finally spent a night in their own house! They like it a lot! It's really cool that Annie was informed that she'd achieved AIRBNB SUPERHOST status while they're here! (That's all me, but it is her house!) So now we're a duo!

I was able to nab a couple extra days off next week, and I'm looking forward to some proper visiting & catching up. I've been a little out of sorts since the new year began, and I hope to get a little more centered/grounded, too.


Unraveled Wednesday: 2021

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share a review of my 2021 Knitting & Reading!


It was an OK year! Details of all on Ravelry; I am knitorious.



  • A bunch of gnomes
  • A bunch of stars
  • A hat
  • A Christmas stocking

Started/Current WIPs:

  • A crocheted blanket -- getting close (and will get back to it ASAP)
  • A second Wild Fields hat
  • A messy bun hat for Ali (not recorded above)

That blanket has been the focus this year, for sure.



I exceeded my goal this year! The bar was set at 12 -- pretty low by some standards -- and I read 15 books.


There are some doozies in there -- even a few 5-stars -- and a dud. I never "returned" an audio book before, but I just.could.not.handle Maggie O'Farrell's "I Am, I Am, I Am." I sure did love Hamnet, though! What a great bunch of books... a little more than half were audio.

I actually ended up buying a hard copy of Stanley Tucci's memoir and then I received one in a gift swap, so I gave it to Ali because even thirty-somethings are crushing on Stanley! haha. Kate gave me The Tucci Table cookbook for Christmas, so, yeah... we're fans.


Spotify/Wrapped 2021

It's the "wrap up" time of year! I recently received 2021 Wrapped from Spotify.


That's a lot of listening time, and 16,000+ minutes (266 hours) more than last year. I'd say that's pretty accurate, and most of that listening time is at work or in the car, though I also listen to books (mostly in the car). There are plenty of "quiet" hours, too.

According to Spotify, my "Audio Aura" is wistful and expressive. I listened to 227 different genres during the year, but these are the top five:

  • Indie Folk
  • Classic Rock
  • Dance Pop
  • Soul
  • Indie Rock

Airtime was given to 3,277 different artists, but the one at the top was Amen Dunes.


Gregory Alan Isakov has made the list for the past few years.


They tell me that I listened to that top song 61 times, which they thought was reasonable (though I suspect they'd say that no matter how many times it played)! I'm unable to embed my playlist here, but here's my Spotify profile and you can find it there (along with some other random stuff).

What have you been listening to?


Year In Review

Here we go again Year In Review!

I do it in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (a favorite posted photo from each month) -- the two are not necessarily related.


January 2021:

I'm afraid I may have misled a few of you with my closing meme on New Year's Eve!



February 2021:

Yesterday was the official beginning of The 100 Day Project...



March 2021:

It was a long weekend for me, with Monday off this week... that always means a lot to share!



April 2021:

Kate will land in the UK a month from today!



May 2021:

We celebrated Ginny's 5th birthday yesterday!



June 2021:

It's a whirlwind!



July 2021:

June was really great, for the most part!



August 2021:

My dad died on Saturday night, just a couple weeks shy of his 86th birthday.



September 2021:

So other than these few words, it's gonna be a Wordless Wednesday!



October 2021:

How are we almost a week in already??



November 2021:

Lucky 13! Thirteen is also a Fibonacci number, a prime number, a star number, and a happy number (among other things, and thank you very much Wikipedia).



December 2021:

I had a few things to keep in mind as I planned our trip to the North Shore -- a weekend with no guests, work/teaching schedules -- but mostly, the opening of Rusty's New Island exhibit at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, WI, which he'd been pulling together for months.



I know I say it every year: I can't quite believe the year is almost over!

This year, like no other much like the one before: I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL THIS YEAR IS OVER!!! BURN! (Again!)


It's a backpack!

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


What I thought might be a satchel or bag turns out to be a backpack!


Have you ever seen anything cuter? I'm sure you have, but dang... We've been informed that something will fill the backpack, but from recent clues it appears that we are knitting a small gnome that seems too big to fit in there... so we'll just have to wait & see (again!)!

It's fiddly knitting, for sure, but it's in small manageable bits -- do a little knitting, take a rest, do some more knitting, take a rest, sew some stuff together (or stuff it with some stuffing), take a little rest, etc. This month-long KAL is just my speed, and I have time to do some other things, too. My friend Deb is also knitting this project, but as a fairly monogamous knitter, this is not the scenario she prefers; in fact, she didn't even start it until almost two weeks in (when she finished a project) and then sat down and knit through all the clues... and now she has to wait for the next clue(s) and pick up something else in the meantime.

We're all a little different, eh?


Goodness, I have hardly read/listened to a word lately, but when I do...

Listening to: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.

Actual book: This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History.

Instead of reading, I've been watching variations on a theme: The Great British Baking Show. And Young Wallander... which I feel like I may have seen before -- some if it is so familiar but much is "brand new."

What are you knitting/making, reading/watching? Are you a monogamous knitter/maker?


Real quick...

In my memories today:


It's surreal, and hard to believe another whole year has passed. It's not an anniversary I wish to celebrate, but I sure do remember... one of the sickest/weirdest stretches of days I've ever had in my life.

You might have caught a recent post on IG wherein I was sharing some gnome progress remembered this day... the beginning of a bunch o' gnomes for the kiddos (when we were finally able to celebrate together). Christmas + Covid + Knitting Gnomes will be linked forevermore!

Anyway, I am happy to have been BOOSTED last Wednesday. I was a little wiped out from that (and a bad night's sleep) on Thursday and thought I might be coming down with something on Friday/over the weekend -- even wondered if it was Covid and am I going to get it every year?? -- but thankful for a long weekend to get things done and take care of myself, too! I'm feeling much better.

This year, in addition to the MKAL Gnome (hopefully posting about that tomorrow), I'm knitting STARS!


The pattern (free on Rav) is Star Ornament by Adella Dutra and is it ever fun to knit in super bulky yarn! I happen to be using some Blue Skies Alpaca Bulky that I've had in my stash for years -- turned out to be not quite right for the type of hat Ali wanted one year, so it's just been sitting -- and I'm delighted to be using it up & making something so quick & cute.



It hardly seems possible that it's been 11 years since my sister Sharon died.


I love how she's the only one in focus & looking at the camera in this photo.


And her expressions were priceless (those eyeballs)!


She was always an animal lover!


And one of my most favorite people in the world. I miss her so much.


Robert & Alison

One of my favorite albums of the past decade & a half (how is it that long??) is Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.

I was delighted to hear that they finally made another recording together, and it just happened to be released on the day that Rusty & I were driving up north, so we had a listen... and, of course, then a reprise of Raising Sand!

The new album is called Raise The Roof, and you can listen to a couple of tracks -- and see them perform -- at a recent NPR Tiny Desk <Home> Concert (embedded below).



They are MARVELOUS!!


Monday: Plan B

Well, today I was supposed to drive to Chicago to pick up Kate at O'Hare. We were going to stay at a very fine hotel, find an incredible place to eat, have a good night's sleep, and then she'd drive us home tomorrow.

Instead, she's hanging out with three dogs & two Shetland ponies for a week in Penicuik, just on the outskirts of Edinburgh, in an old converted barn. For a short time in the 18th Century there was a distillery on the premises, producing single malt scotch whisky, as well as an annual sheep market. None of that anymore, but she can see sheep from the living room couch!

Instead, I went to Milwaukee today -- to IKEA, specifically -- where the name of the game was:


And that included SWEDISH MEATBALLS, of all things... at IKEA! They were OUT -- both in the cafeteria and in the shop. I can't quite get over it.

But it was every piece of furniture I had on my list, too, and also feather "decorator" pillow inserts. Stuck in a container somewhere, I'm sure -- in a boat, on a dock, or even at sea.

Don't worry, I still managed to spend one or two or three hundred dollars! Haha. Some stuff for the Airbnb, some stuff for Christmas, some stuff for me!!

Speaking of Airbnbs, the Christmas trees are up!


I bought skinny 7' pre-lit trees and borrowed an idea I saw on Mary's blog for decoration. I think they're kind of charming.

We both had guests over the weekend because the Packers played on Sunday night, and they were all wonderful, but Cheri was at mine for her birthday, too. We never met face-to-face, but we texted a lot, and she really loved the place... going as far as saying, "...we went to Maui for my husband's birthday last month and my birthday beats his."

The football fans are downright giddy!

And in other news, I attended the girls' first dance recital yesterday!


My photos are awful, someone kept standing in front of Ginny, and there wasn't a whole lot of dancing... but it was fun and they sure were cute!!

I believe I've just finished up my Christmas shopping... still have a few quick little things I want to make, and the overseas parcels won't be going out until after Christmas, but it's all super chill (and I even have my ham ordered).

Hope you had a great weekend!


Gno Gnomes

I'll be delivering Sebastian's Christmas Stocking to his grandmother this evening. He lives in New York and she'll be going to visit in just over a week, so the timing is perfect.

Janet is a patron of Rusty's and we met at an event in October. When she learned that I was a knitter, she told me about Sebastian being the only grandson without a Christmas stocking -- her mother had knit stockings for everyone else, but had passed away before Sebastian was born, and no one else in the family was a knitter. He'd been sharing with his brother for years!

This is not my favorite type of project, though I knit two similar stockings for Mack & Addie when they were little, but she was so nice and I was sympathetic... so I agreed on the spot to make one for him. She sent me some photos and a few of her mother's notes... the original pattern was published in A Woman's Home Companion in 1945! I worked on rewriting the pattern so that it made sense to me, charting the name & date, and gathering materials. The plan was to focus on knitting the stocking while we were on our getaway to the North Shore.


We made one stop Friday on our way north -- at Herschnerrs in Stevens Point -- because I realized that I needed a couple more colors. Everything fit very nicely into a portable project box.

I started on Saturday morning.


The light was amazing from the huge windows in our cabin that faced the lake, the sun reflecting on the water -- it was blinding at times! I had the personalization finished by mid-afternoon.


I had the girls & boys finished by noon on Sunday, and Santas were well underway by the afternoon.

Then the trees, and then the foot. It was knit flat until the foot, which was knit in the round. Ooops! I forgot DPNs, and I didn't remember when we stopped at Herschnerrs, so I checked with google... I knew there was a yarn shop in the area.


Sure enough, just a little over two miles away! Playing With Yarn -- World Class Yarn Shop, according to their website -- and I would agree, but also add MUSEUM. I did not linger too long, but I did notice some Rowan Calmer in the clearance bin and that's a rare find these days. Anyway, I know my tension is very different on DPNs than on straights, and if these needles had been a little less pricey, I'd have bought 7s and 8s, but decided on only 7s -- up one size ought to be okay for a stocking that didn't need to fit an actual foot.


That was Monday right around lunch time, and I closed the toe before heading to bed on Monday night. We were leaving for home on Tuesday!


When we got home, I pulled out the crochet again for a few days while I mustered up the will to weave in ends. Not to mention Thanksgiving and two Airbnbs to prepare for guests arriving Friday & Saturday. All that out of the way, I sat down at my computer desk on Saturday afternoon to listen to Longmont Yarn Shoppe's Fiberside Chat with Sarah Schira of Imagined Landscapes (the GNOME lady... oops, one slipped in) and also to catch up a little with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee -- all of which I found informative & entertaining, and the perfect accompaniment to the weaving in & seaming.


I gave it a soak on Sunday... it's pretty thick in spots, so it took a while to dry (I ended up hanging it over the shower rod instead of flat on a blocking mat).


I made two very fat tassels, but ended up using only one... hung it up on my then-still-undecorated Christmas tree for a photo. Et voilà!


  • Ravelry Project Page: Stocking for Sebas
  • Pattern: Personalized Christmas Stocking
  • Yarn: Plymouth Galway (red, white & green) + other worsted scraps
  • Needles: US 6 (4mm) straights, US 7 (4.5mm) DPNs
  • Start to Finish: November 20 to December 2, 2021

I'm so excited to send it on its way today. And I don't ever want to knit another stocking like this again!


Little bits

Joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...


I got a start on the last (or maybe not)... the latest little bit of gnome knitting last night.


Those are all the pieces so far. I feel like that little bit of pink on the needles might be the start of a hat... but it's a mystery, y'know, so who knows!?!

Whatever it is and however this all turns out, I'm already sensing a DANDY Gnome!

This is really fun. I think fun & fiddly & mysterious is just what I need right now.

Don't worry, Hexie Love Actually will be getting plenty of love again once I catch up with gnome clues!


Listening to: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.

The book on my nightstand has not been getting any love lately, but it's still: This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History.


What might it be?

I’ve knit a few small pieces for the Gnome MKAL (5 clues released so far and I have almost caught up), but this one…


…is adorable. I am just guessing, but I think/hope it might be some sort of satchel or bag. 😍 And if it’s a boy gnome, I am loving that I chose pink! 


Heavenly Hash

I cancelled next week's hotel reservation in Chicago. I briefly entertained the notion of not cancelling, but even a high floor at Sofitel wouldn't be balm enough.

Meanwhile, we're all rolling with the punches and moving on with holiday plans. For Kate, it means planning a holiday feast with her friends Blair & Judson (aka, Bludson), with everyone sharing their traditional holiday favorites. Thus, I had a request this morning for my mom's Heavenly Hash recipe; rare was the holiday table that this dish didn't appear, even if it was made the "day of" instead of begun the day before.


It is the world's most poorly written recipe card! One should not need to make notes such as "reserve juice," or to underline additional ingredients in the body of the recipe, or use asterisks to clarify directions. Not only are components missing from the list of ingredients, they aren't even in order!! GAH!

So I sent her the card, which she appreciated for the "archival quality" ("reserve juice" is in my hand, the larger note at the bottom is in my mom's, many spills and drips), but I also rewrote the recipe and sent it in a separate document. I'm sure it could still use some tweaking, but ohmylord, it is an improvement!

Heavenly Hash
(Begin to prepare a day ahead)

(1) #2 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.), reserve juice
½ lb. green grapes
½ lb. red grapes
½ c. mini marshmallows
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour (heaping)
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
½ c. water
(3) bananas
nuts (pecans), optional
1 pkg. Dream Whip

Cut pineapple chunks and grapes in half. Add to a bowl with marshmallows.

In a saucepan, bring reserved pineapple juice & sugar to a boil. Blend flour, cornstarch & water, and pour slowly into boiling juice & sugar. Cool. Pour over fruit & marshmallows. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, add bananas, nuts, and 1 cup whipped cream (prepared Dream Whip).


The best medicine

I had the three "big kids" overnight, and a few minutes with Davy, too. He's walking more than crawling now, and is so grown up! He's so expressive and everything is so exciting to him... it's a joy. AND, I got a real "kiss" last night (he leaned in, anyway, and if not quite puckering he knew what he'd get)!


Our main activity was coloring a big Christmas Train & Tree that I picked up on a whim yesterday at Target. You just never know with that kind of thing, but this definitely captured their interest!

Junah worked mainly on the train, while the girls & I were occupied by the tree.

And this afternoon, we/they decorated my actual tree! I think this will be the extent of it, though I might string up some of my mom's pearl garland.


We watched TV: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Paw Patrol, and Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid (if you were to ask Junah).


And here's a picture of Ginny & Malina by Junah.  :)


Miles away

I was in the back yard this afternoon helping Rusty haul his table saw/table in & out and assisting with cutting some long pieces of wood -- inside storm windows for the Garden Room are underway! I had a moment while he "measured twice," and wandered over to my family locator sign.


It sure is getting weathered!

And it's official: Kate won't be traveling home for Christmas, which is the smart thing... but I'm still sad and mad and grumpy and pissed off at the world... and just one more reason to knit a gnome this month. Boo. Sights on April now, and later in summer for Maddy & Viv. Gotta run so I don't drown my keyboard...


Switching gears

Ooops, I did it again!


This is me choosing colors for another Mystery Gnome Knit-along: Leave Gnome Stone Unturned! I had fun making the last one (even with all that I-cord... which sure made a cool detail), and the KAL goes for a whole month. There's an email every day, but it doesn't always contain a clue. And, as you might recall, it's coming up on a year since I had Covid and knitting gnomes helped me get my groove back (in a bunch of ways). It just feels right.

I finally snagged an appointment for my booster! Sheesh. It wasn't easy, but I wasn't about to give up!