Weekending

Well, it was sorta like this...

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And this...

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I picked up my new prescription sunglasses on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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All we can do is smile!


Procrastination

I fully admit to being a procrastinator of the highest degree!

I get the important stuff done on time -- rarely early, mind you. Heh. I work best under pressure and definitely with a deadline. Always have.

Right now, I'm knee-deep in a couple of book work-type things that I'd put off -- or maybe worked at a bit, but needed time to develop a process that worked and find my rhythm.

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Then there are things like this. Christmas presents for the kids. I didn't finish them until after Christmas, and I am okay with that because it's such a crazy time for everyone. When they were finally finished? Jun was mindlessly cuddling and fiddling with his bear rug and worked out one of the "safety eyes" in a matter of minutes. Since then? Gin managed to dislodge the other eye. Ugh. I think I've figured out how to secure them better... but it means taking apart both finished bears, making the fix, and finishing them again.

I especially hate doing things again! Those are the things that I am particularly good at procrastinating about... like dusting and vacuuming, too.

Read other Think-Write-Thursday contributions here. To sign up for the weekly prompts, click here.


#yarnlovechallenge

Are you aware of the month-long #yarnlovechallenge on Instagram? You can read more about it and the people involved at @yarnlovechallenge, and there's also a Ravelry group.

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It has provided a very welcome relief from daily things, and one small yarny=happy photography-related thing to focus on/think about each day. You can find my #yarnlovechallenge photos -- and more -- on Instagram here.

Today's prompt is FAMILY and the photos are wonderful!

Girls

This is one of the photos I posted today. My mom (in the middle) taught me to knit when I was in 1st grade. My sisters all have knit at some point. Sharon was definitely the most adventurous right out of the gate. Karen knit a sweater for herself when she was in college, but it was a huge disappointment -- likely a result of poor yarn substitution, more than anything, and the resulting trickle-down of that decision. Annie has knit on and off over the years; she & Sharon knit a sweater for me one Christmas.

I had a couple of starts & stops -- in high school and as a young adult -- I learned something, though, and became a little more accomplished each time. When I picked it up again, as a young-ish mother, it was for fun. And then blogging came along and knitting became incredibly interesting and... empowering, even... all the shared creativity and knowledge and discussion... about knitting! It's been an amazing, fulfilling journey and now it's a rare day when I don't knit, at least a little, and connect in some way with friends I've made because of knitting. It all helps keep me grounded and sane.

Thank you. 

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the distraction, too, whether or not you choose to participate.


Love Is...

Love is always bestowed as a gift -- freely, willingly, and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love.

--Leo Buscaglia

Leo.  ❤

Once, many years ago (I was still in high school), Dr. Love visited our area and my mom took us to hear him speak. I bought one of his books (LOVE) and he signed it... I am pretty sure that I still have it! It was a pretty big deal, and is a terrific memory... about which I was reminded when I read Kym's post today. Thanks!!

Happy February 14th!


Weekending: That's LIFE

knitorious.life!

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

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

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

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

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


FO: Rainbow Warrior Cowl

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I dyed the "colorful" yarn back in November. I kept one hank for myself, and must have taken the other to the shop. For the striped cowl, I combined it with some indigo yarn that I'd dyed at some earlier date and I love how it turned out! In the knitting up, the other colors played very well with and toned down even the brightest bright yellow, and the solid indigo helped to subdue it all even further. Not that I don't like brights, but YIKES!

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Also, new specs.

Have a great weekend!


Florida

We left for Florida on a Wednesday. Our flight departed mid-afternoon from Milwaukee, which meant that I didn't have to reschedule a morning dental appointment! (Also, clean teeth for vacation!) Our flight landed in Fort Lauderdale around 7; Rusty claimed luggage while I picked up the rental car. Our Airbnb was in Lake Worth, about an hour's drive north.

We had no big plan for our trip, but a nice List of Possibilities -- art events, galleries, museums, restaurants, beaches, parks, sites. We woke up every morning and decided what we felt like doing!

On Thursday, just to get a feel for it -- and because "road trip" is very much a part of our Vacation MO -- we drove about half-way to Key West. We stopped in downtown Lake Worth for a quick breakfast, and this is the first thing we saw upon entering our chosen establishment:

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A couple of Rusty's prints! These were among a few licensed to an Italian fine art publisher some years ago. It's fun to run across his art in the wild!

We drove a bit past Islamorada, stopped a couple of times (there really isn't much "beach" in the Keys), had some lunch, and then made our way back -- with a short visit to Everglades National Park. We hiked a couple of short boardwalk trails... and it was gorgeous! I wouldn't be opposed to returning and exploring more of that park.

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Friday was our anniversary and I really wanted to do nothing more than relax at the beach.

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And so we did.

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We rented a couple of chairs and an umbrella and soaked up the sunshine! I think we arrived around 11 and left around 3. We really lucked out weather-wise, so the beach was busy and people-watching was fun!

One of the things on our List of Possibilites was a visit to the Lake Worth Arts Center to see some surfboards. The last day of the exhibition was Saturday, and we had it penciled in on that day, but discovered by chance that the center was having an open house on Friday evening.

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It was called 15 Surfboards by 15 Shapers. I don't surf, and Rusty's definitely more into body surfing, but his brother was super into surfing back in the day and even had a surfboard repair shop -- where Rusty worked for a while!

It was Palm Beach Art Week -- a big expo and a bunch of other events happening. The expo was also on our List of Possibilities, but on Saturday, we opted to go back to the beach instead! (We really lucked out with gorgeous weather!)

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I did a little knitting and followed along as friends and family posted about their experiences at various Women's Marches. Rusty went swimming...

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...with his phone. And the car key. Luckily, the key was fine... the phone, not so much. (Replacing that was first order of business upon our return home.)

We drove up to West Palm Beach on Saturday night for an alternative/benefit art fair. We ordered dinner from a yummy vegan food truck parked outside; there was food, drink, music, and lots of art! It was a beautiful evening and the event was very well attended... okay, a little crowded at times.

Sunday proved too windy to enjoy lounging at the shore, so we ticked another item on our List of Possibilities by visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. We were interested in seeing both the gardens and an exhibition called Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed of the sometimes mind-blowing origami (click on the link for a few exhibition photos).

The gardens were lovely.

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The bonsai were fascinating.

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I'm wearing a pair of the more artsy & unique Green Bay Packer earrings in my jewelry box, because after the artsy stuff, it was off to find a "Packer bar" for the sportsy stuff. (It was official, with a framed proclamation and everything!)

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I also changed into a more appropriate shirt on the way! We were definitely among friends... unfortunately, things did not go our way that day and the Falcons won. Oh well.

I've updated my Travel Map!

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I ticked off Kentucky, as well as Florida, realizing that Kate and I did more than drive through KY when we went to Asheville; we stopped at a little museum there, too.

So, Florida! I'm still almost certain that I wouldn't enjoy being there in the humid summer months, but it was a pretty great place to visit in January.

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Outtake:

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Where do I look?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!!


Dear February,

I don't usually look to you for comfort, inspiration, warmth... or sunshine... but, boy, I sure could use all of that and more right now. (Thank you for the sunshine this morning!)

On the bright side, one of the best things you have going is the continuation of this trend:

December 21, 2016:

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January 24, 2017:

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February 2, 2017 (this morning):

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We've gained :22 of daylight in just over a week, and over an hour since winter solstice, a pace that will only be picking up as we move toward spring and summer. Thank god.

Edited to add: My weather app is Weather Underground (available on Google Play here). (I also like the desktop version.)

Another thing to look forward to is this year's Best Picture Festival -- four Best Picture-nominated movies will be shown on the 18th and five on the 25th -- just in time for the Oscars on the 26th. I am growing with a nice group of friends, some new since the last time I attended BPF. I took advantage this week of $5 Tuesday and a willing companion to see Moonlight in advance; it's the last movie in the BPF line-up and I already know that five movies in one day is at least one too many for me, so I'm happy to knock one off the list!

And at the end of the month, I'll be heading to NOLA for the first time ever, to spend a few days there with my sister Ann. She'll be here from Spain, attending a conference, so I'll have some time to relax and explore. I've had some excellent suggestions, so, in addition to a couple of yarn shops, I also have museums and restaurants on my list. And a cemetery.

I seem to be all about bright spots, sunlight, daylight, and a little bit of moonlight! Maybe it won't be so bad after all, February. It sure helps to have some things to look forward to.

Love, Vicki

Read other Think-Write-Thursday contributions here. To sign up for the weekly prompts, click here.


"One more excellent Pussyhat story!"

I never gave a thought to what would happen to Pussyhats beyond the march(es) on January 21st, but clearly they go on...

Anais, recipient of one of my hats at the DC march, is a social worker at an alternative high school. Last week was Spirit Week at her school and, as part of that, Thursday was Hat Day; she wrote:

Your hat is out and proud!

Sharing with permission, on Friday, she wrote again:

One more excellent Pussyhat story!

On Thursday, when I was wearing your hat for Hat Day, I walked by one of my coworkers talking to one of the students. This particular student has some serious mental issues, and has been trapped in many broken systems.

When I walked by, the student, seeing my hat, gave me a huge hug and said, "Thank you for standing up against Trump!"

I think it underscores how important symbols will be in this movement -- hats, flags, safety pins -- to communicate safety, solidarity, and support.

I like to think that I have a warm, accepting energy, but your hat was the reason this student felt safety in that moment. Thank you for that. I am so proud to wear it.

Is that amazing, or what!?? I'm so grateful to Anais for sharing her stories and for her willingness to allow me to share, and I'm so excited to hear more!

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Y'all are so sweet to defend my cat(s). Haha, but no.

 


Reset

I was so excited, upon our return from FL, to discover two amaryllis blossoms with a bud-in-waiting. It was dark, but I took a photo anyway:

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Since I went right back to work -- long on hours, short on daylight -- I wasn't able to see them in daylight all week, and was looking forward to that this weekend.

This morning, in the very early hours, I heard a thud.

I didn't think much of it... something inside, outside, upstairs. One thud. Done. Back to sleep...

And, boy, did I sleep! When I emerged from the bedroom, Rusty was pouring coffee, and he mentioned some clean up that needed to be done in the Garden Room... mumblemumble... amaryllis.

Arrgh! Destroyed. The thud, apparently, was my amaryllis pot landing on the rug... most certainly at the hands/paws of a cat.

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Rusty had left the broken flower stalk, but I just had to cut it off... it made me so sad to look at it. Thankfully, the leaves are intact.

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And look at my scrappy little straggler! Growing and shooting out a bunch of leaves. There's no sign of a flower stalk yet, and it was so stressed that it might not happen for a while. It sure makes me happy, though.

So, amaryllis watch has been reset and is on indefinite hold for a while, I guess.

I wish I could reset.


Dispatches from D.C. & Edinburgh

I knit three hats for the Pussyhat Project and mailed them to PPHQ in time for the Women's March on Washington DC last weekend.

There were forms included with the pattern to let recipients know who you are, what causes are important to you, and a space for optional contact info. I almost didn't include forms with my hats, but... oh, why not? I ended up jotting a little note, sharing my email address... and, of course, on the back I wrote what type of yarn was used and simple care instructions. (Ha! What?) (I stopped short of including the color/lot info and/or the ball bands.)

Lo and behold, on Saturday evening I got an email -- and a photo too!

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Vicky!
I am wearing your hat in Washington today.
Thank you, thank you!

In love and solidarity,
Anais

Well, I was just thrilled to hear from her! Later, upon asking permission to share, she added:

I hadn't known what to expect of the energy of the March, but from the moment we were greeted at the Metro stop by a welcome committee, snacks, bottles of water, and handknitted pink pussy hats from all over the country, I felt that I was in warm community. Positive, energized spirits continued through the day, and haven't left me since.

Then, on Sunday, I received another -- also with a photo attached!

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Dear Vicki,

Thank you so much for knitting the Pussyhat! I received it directly in the beginning at the subway station and I was so happy that the woman handed out hats to everyone. I love the idea that you made the hat and put the little sign on it so that I can get in touch with you.
 
I wore it all day and it will remind me of this historical day all my life! We are from Germany and have been living in NYC for a year and I’m so grateful that we were able to participate in the Women’s March in Washington.
 
Thanks so much for contributing to the march, the hat is made from such a nice wool and it very nicely knitted. I very much enjoyed wearing it, it kept me really warm too!
 
Lots of love from New York,
Eva

Positively thrilling! She also granted permission and wrote:

It really was an inspiring experience and people were so positive that day, it gives us hope for the future.
 
Thanks again for contributing to the women’s march and the effort you put in knitting that hat!
It was amazing on Saturday to follow along -- the news, the Facebook updates from friends at marches all over! I had friends & relatives in DC, NY, MI, WI, FL, CA, OR, and more.
 
"Fraulein Power!"
 
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Including Kate at the march in Edinburgh! She reported "many, many" pussyhats!
 
Historic, moving... INSPIRING!!
 
For one thing, I was moved to finally set up my Planned Parenthood and ACLU contributions to be regular and ongoing. It isn't much, but it's a few dollars more every month than they previously had!
 

I'm back... fly-by

We went to Florida!

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We visited the Keys and the Everglades.

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We visited the beach.

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We visited a Japanese garden and museum.

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And we flew home again.

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There were some other things, but I'll have to fill you in later. The weather was perfect (outside of a midnight tornado warning on our last night) and we had a great time!

I kept up on the news as best I could, especially in regard to the March(es) on Saturday. I was thrilled to receive emails and photos from TWO of the three recipients of my Pussyhat Project hats. So cool. I'm hoping to share that, too.

Meanwhile, re-entry is a bitch. On top of which, I drive down to O'Hare after work today to pick up Kate from her London-Paris-Edinburgh adventure! At least we'll have lots to talk about on the drive home.  :)


Weekending: Meow

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

It finally caught up with me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Long Weekending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, amaryllis watch:

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One of them is growing, the other is not.

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

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Also, new growth!


Dear January,

Welp, almost nothing about the start of this new year has gone as planned -- people (and pets - not mine) have been sick, plans and schedules have changed -- it's been an exercise in patience, resilience, positive thinking, and going with the flow! I feel as though I haven't even had a chance to sit down and say, HEY, NEW YEAR.

I have managed to accomplish a couple of the "must-do" items on my list to start the year, though, and that feels good.

First, as previously noted, I joined Weight Watchers again and... Hello, REALITY CHECK! This is my 3rd full day and eyes are wide open. I'm also certainly down a few pounds and, best of all, feeling as though I'm taking control again.

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Second, I fired up my brand new INSTANT POT! It was a Christmas gift from Kate & Ali, and I finally had minute to plug it in on New Year's Day. I've used it not once, not twice, not three times... but FOUR already!

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I've made a dozen-and-a-half of the most perfectly cooked and easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs of my life (twice), and 3-minute steel-cut oats (twice). One of the most amazing things is that I've actually made the oats in the MORNING... a WORK morning. I never give myself extra time in the morning to make breakfast, but this hardly even takes any time! Throw some stuff in the pot, push a button, wait a few minutes (brush teeth, wash face while waiting, maybe apply mascara), DONE!

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I shall soon branch out... next on the list is Coconut Chicken Curry. And yogurt. (I will let you know how it goes!)

Anyway, saving me through this turmoil in the first week of the year, is looking ahead to the third... when Rusty & I will be heading to Florida for a long weekend. Taking advantage of low airfare and a little jingle in our pockets -- and a very strong desire to get away (together) -- we booked a couple of flights to Fort Lauderdale and found a cute Airbnb. We'll actually be spending our time in Lake Worth/West Palm Beach and have scoped out a number of fun things to do... if we want. Mainly, it's about relaxing, warm weather, and the beach. I may have just re-joined WW... but I also just bought a new swimming suit! Who goes to FL without a swimming suit? I've never actually been to Florida before, but I'm guessing that's how it's done!

Right now? I'm staring down a 3-day weekend, and that feels good, too; taking some time to regroup and get organized (and take down the Christmas tree). There is much more to do/continue/finish/begin in the next few months!

So, January, bring it... I can handle you.

Love, Vicki

Read other Think-Write-Thursday contributions here. To sign up for the weekly prompts, click here.


Wednesday

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I snapped a couple of photos of the amaryllis on New Year's Day (Sunday) and there's been some growth! Even the struggler has improved in the last week. Someone gave Rusty some paperwhites, so we're both on bulb watch this winter!


Whoa, 2017

Another reader in the making. Books, books, books!

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While my reading habits have changed over the years, there is no doubt to anyone that we're a family of readers and that books are important to us all. The first piece of furniture I ever bought for myself was a bookcase!

Meanwhile, the boys were busy...

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Trains and Maps! That's mostly Jun's work with (washable) markers. I love it!

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Karen wasn't going to arrive until later in the day on New Year's Eve, so we went to the children's museum! They had a "ball drop" every hour on the hour, with noisemakers and hats and streamers... the kids had a blast!

Plans were rearranged a bit, so our family visit was on Saturday instead of Friday. Michael was unable to come, no matter the day, because his wife was unwell. We missed him!

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My first thought when I look at this photo is that I look exhausted! I wasn't feeling exhausted... but it was a busy few days (and continues to be)... and I still haven't had a minute to stop and square up with the new year.

Also, similar to a situation almost 29 years ago when I first joined up, this photo has spurred my renewed membership with Weight Watchers! (Oh, no, I'm a January Person!) I signed on last night and we'll see how it goes... I need a plan and a kick in the pants. I have a few friends who are also members, and it's nice when there's support. WW has changed quite a bit since I last attended meetings (possibly in 2006?); I've signed on two or three times over the years, with varied success... but mostly success. No doubt, there will be more about this turn of events in the coming weeks.

Anyway, Karen arrived with her husband and both sons, and it was great to see them. We had a full house and lots of visiting!!

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More fun with kids on New Year's Day... trying to get a decent photo is no small task. It is quite humorous though! Oh, they're all together on the kitchen floor? Ready, set, CLICK!

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And then final farewells! Ann & family have a few days in Madison before flying back to Valencia on Friday. I'll see Ann at the end of February when we meet in NOLA for a few days, but the kids won't be reunited until July when they're all back for about a month. Luckily, Junah seems to be a bit more comfortable with Skype each time he has the opportunity. He was pretty sad to see them go.

OK. That's it for now! I hope you've had a good start to the new year.


Book It 2016

Having set a goal to read more in 2016 -- and to "read" more audio books -- I could not be happier with my Goodreads stats:

Books 2016 summary 2

I just finished reading the 22nd book this morning! That is certainly not a lot of books compared to some, but it is pretty darn good for me! Half of those books were audio books, too, so you can see what a difference that makes! I love to read and have been an avid reader in the past, but I've not devoted a lot of time to it in the past several years -- work, grandkids, knitting, sewing, cooking, laundry (not dusting), etc. have all hampered my game in recent years -- and the pages turn very slowly!

I've belonged to a book club for years, but have often not read the books -- when one reads few books, one is a bit choosy -- I'd often be in the middle of something else that I preferred (or perhaps still reading the previous selection). I raved so much about a couple of books this year (A Man Called Ove, Lab Girl), that they were chosen as book club selections even though it wasn't my turn to pick!

 

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2016-Books 1

Books 2016 22

A fair number of these books -- 13 of them -- were squares on my BINGO card, which I love for the potential broadening of one's reading horizons. Also, I love a game that's open to a bit of interpretation/personalization. (I'm still playing that card and trying to finagle Born to Run into the "Presidential Biography" category... what do you think? He is THE BOSS!)

I am grateful, too, for the likes of you -- fellow bloggers and dear readers -- from suggestions on how to ease into listening rather than reading to book recommendations... Thank you.

Stand outs? I loved the memoirs, especially Composed, Not My Father's Son, and Lab Girl.  A Man Called Ove, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Boston Girl, Code Name Verity, and Hamilton: The Revolution were especially memorable audio -- actually, all of the above were audio books!

The bar has been set, now, and I'm looking forward to setting & reaching a higher goal next year!!

Happy New Year!!


Holiday mid-weekending

We definitely had a White Christmas!

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

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

I can't wait 'til next Christmas!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oh, my, but that was good...

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

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On Christmas morning, I checked the amaryllis.

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There's been some obvious growth...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope all is well with you!


Eve

It's just doesn't seem like a proper Christmas Eve if I'm not up 'til the wee hours...

And LOOK, it's already Christmas!

 

We used to have a big Christmas Eve dinner at Mom's. We tried everything over the years: Standing Rib Roast, Crown Roast, Yorkshire Pudding, Beef Wellington, Cornish Hens, Ham, Turkey... Mum would draw the line at Goose (too greasy). My sisters and brother would all be there, sometimes even my Grandma (her birthday was on Christmas Eve).

VirginiaHoppSuttonBlum

Virginia, b. Dec. 24, 1912; graduation from Normal School


VirginiaHoppSuttonBlum

Someday I'm gonna make a Christmas Goose.

I'm a terrible procrastinator, so would never really even start to wrap presents until after we came home and got the kids to bed -- which would be later and later every year. Rusty was never any help in that department, so I'd make the best of it... channel surfing and watching Christmas movies on TV, or...

...(best ever) listening to a Steve Martin comedy album while wrapping presents and filling stockings.

 

I miss my sister Sharon, and my mom, and my grandma, and I miss those crazy days when the kids were young...

 

Alas, life is good; I'd make a few changes, but generally things seem to be proceeding as they should....

 

WE HAVE A CRAWLER! She made a few moves when I was 'sitting the other night, and Alison confirmed this evening that Gin is crawling! They'll all be over sometime tomorrow morning for Christmas brunch and opening presents.

 

Merry Christmas Friends! Peace and Love to You!


On the cusp of three

Independence. Right now it's all about independence and doing things for himself -- taking great pride in accomplishments. Jun's been dressing himself, distinguishing front from back, getting all the fingers correctly placed in gloves, sometimes even doing the snaps and zippers on his pants.

But, oh... it can be so very frustrating.

He was wearing some cozy knit pants on Friday and there was some difficulty.

He tried putting them on. They were backwards. He got angry, cried, and completely shut down my offer to help.

He tried again. Um. They were backwards. Again. He got angry, cried, shut me down. Again.

Did I mention stubbornness?

After a few minutes of crying, he came over and sat on my lap... to get a hug and cry on my shoulder. When he felt better, he got up -- with confidence and purpose -- to try again.

And, ohhhh... it did not go well.

This time he came right over to sit and cry and just let it all out.

And then he tried ONE MORE TIME -- while I was able to quickly intervene and straighten them out (prep is everything!) -- and SUCCESS!

It was just the sweetest thing... how he wouldn't allow me to help him, but would allow me to give comfort.

  


3-Day Weekending

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

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

We played...

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

He helped me find the treetop angel...

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And helped with some more decorating...

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Haha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Six years

Sharon-wee Kate-web

Sharon with a wee Kate, April 1987.

And missing you every single day. I love you, my beautiful sister. How is it six years already?


Light my fire

Kym! I do have a fireplace!!

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It's one of the first things I pulled out of a box of Christmas decorations last night! A gift from one of the girls years ago -- Ali, I think.

So I lit the fire...

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Kate made me a drink* (vodka, campari, limoncello, orange juice, soda water)...

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And together we trimmed the tree!

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I never ran across our tree-top angel, though! Where could she be??

*She also cooked supper last night... and, to me, having my children cook for me on occasion is truly one of the pleasures of life.


Year in Review: 2016

It's that time again!

As I have done sometime in December for quite a few years: 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 2016:

In addition to (or, as a set-up for) BEGIN AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON, I spent some time cleaning things up at the end of the year.

January - quilt


February 2016:

I walked to the library on Saturday morning to pick up the latest addition to my Reading list: Mink River.

February - Chicago

 

March 2016:

Way back before Christmas, it was decided that while Rusty was traipsing around the west coast, we'd have a girls' weekend in Chicago.

March - Oregon Coast

 

April 2016:

I lunched & shopped & hung out with my sister on Saturday.

April - Trucks

 

May 2016:

Virginia Frances

May - Jun-Gin

 

June 2016:

Knitting: Too many things.

June - succulents

 

July 2016:

Anticipating... our first Farmers Market of the season tomorrow morning!

July - Flowage

 

August 2016:

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On My Summer Bucket List

August - boys

 

September 2016:

And now, a little shameless promotion.

September - family

 

October 2016:

I knit this adorable hat using leftovers from Gin's Elwood, and I couldn't be happier (except that I wish I'd knit it one size larger) (listen to the voices in your head!).

October - Cara-Ann-Gnome

 

November 2016:

It's November, which means it's time for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) -- little sister to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

November - Squad Mitts

 

December 2016:

This is why.

December - Gin-Alfalfa

 

I can't quite believe 2016 is almost over!


Weekending: O, Christmas tree

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

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

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

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

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

There was some snoozing.

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

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

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We had our first official snow storm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you had a great weekend!


Best Nine 2016

My #bestnine2016 on Instagram!

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These are the Instagram photos from the past year that had the most "likes." Heh. There's a little bit of everything, including break dancing!! I love that the grandkids are there -- both knit-related, too, other than the photo taken on Gin's birth day -- Parcheesi is in there, my TTL Mystery Shawl, a bit of my house/yard, Alabama Chanin (on our way to the Rosanne Cash concert), and all the love from january_one.


Christmas Tradition

I have been known to decorate my Christmas tree with only three ornaments:

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That was highly unusual. I don't recall the circumstances, but it's safe to say that no one was available/willing to help me!

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Most years, we're fully loaded and I usually have help.

Just at Kate's left hand in the photo above is a little "band" of ceramic bear ornaments -- each of them bears one of our names and a year -- and that's just the beginning of the ceramic ornaments. My Grandma Blum taught ceramics from her home studio for many years. The first dated ornament I received from her was in 1975, and it is a treasure!

One year in my young adulthood, there was an early Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa Blum's prior to their departure for Florida for the winter. She had decorated a small tree with her ceramic ornaments and we stuffed it -- lights, ornaments, and all -- into the back of my boyfriend's VW Van and voila! "It's Christmas now!"

I know it didn't begin at birth (none of my kids has a "My First Christmas" ornament), but at some point when Katie & Ali were preschoolers -- actually, it was probably when St. Nicholas started to visit our house on the regular -- I began to buy an ornament each year for St. Nick to deliver. The girls each have their own box in which to store them, along with ornaments made for them by Great Grandma and my sister Karen, and the ones they made in school.

I really need to document them better.

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One-Eyed Santa was made by Kate in probably 2nd or 3rd grade. She didn't make him with only one eye, but somewhere along the line one fell off and, well... we love him!!

There's a skater made of pipe cleaners and beads, with small paperclips as the skates. One of his skates has been hanging on by just a bit of fuzz (mostly osmosis, I swear) for years...

These are the types of things we ooh and aah over and laugh about every year!

One of my most favorite tree-trimmings was a year the girls wanted a real tree. It was smaller than our artificial tree, so I decided that it would be decorated with only the ornaments that the girls had in their boxes -- and only by them! I did the lights, but they did all the rest while I sat back with a glass of wine and LISTENED. It was pure heaven -- the chatter, the memories, the laughter, and the tears (of laughter).

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I've had this well-worn/bedraggled ornament since 1st grade, when I won it in a spelling bee. As previously established herein, I was a pretty good speller thanks to the coveted Big.Gold.Stars awarded by Mrs. Kelly on perfect spelling tests. She was one of my favorite teachers, and I love remembering her every Christmas.

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Peanut!! Words cannot express our love for this little... actual peanut. Simple things.

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This one of the very few ornaments I have that were my Grandma Koenig's. It's not very big, and always gets a (secure) front-row seat.

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And this is a cross-stitch ornament that I made for the girls -- he's backed with fabric, sealed, and jointed! I haven't actually made very many for them... hard-pressed to think of any other than this one. Heh.

The tree still hasn't happened this year, but I'm thinking Saturday's the day!

Read other Think-Write-Thursday contributions here. To sign up for the weekly prompts, click here.


FO: Alfalfa Baby Hat

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11-4-16 too

I know I knit this hat when Jun was wee, but I don't remember him ever wearing it and I never documented it on Ravelry or anyplace.

Gin has been wearing this at A LOT, though, and could not look more adorable -- even (especially) when worn slightly askew. So adorable, that I just had to add it to my Ravelry project page.

And I definitely need to knit another! The pattern is written for only one size, but I think I'll try going up a needle size or two and see what happens.


Weekending

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

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

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

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

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And I am loooooving it!

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

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

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