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December 2015
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February 2016

Right Now

Knitting: There has been precious little knitting of late, and it's been pretty mindless.

I am occasionally picking up my second inner Dimorphous Mitten, and suspect that I'll finish that set by spring. Naturally.

The Scoreboard KAL has also been picked up on occasion, as well. I feel no urgency with that project, but definitely plan to finish before long.

DNA results have proven that there is no lemming in my lineage, so I am not Banging Out A Sweater, but truthfully, I am a lemming, so that has more to do with the pattern (knitting in the round and/or intarsia), and the fact that I already have innumerable sweaters in various stages of "banging out." I've entertained thoughts about working on one or two of them instead!

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Sewing: There are a number of Alabama Chanin -ish projects in various stages, soon to be joined by another! My sister and I are ordering skirt kits that we'll work as part of a group. Annie has never done any AC-style sewing, so I'm welcoming her into the coven and preparing some of my AC stenciled fat eighths for practice when she's here next weekend.

Listening to: Dan Zanes with Junah; we especially love "Bushel and A Peck," a song that my mother sang to every single one of her grandchildren!

Reading: I just finished The Jesus Cow and immediately picked up The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd, which Katie gave me for my birthday, and which I am, so far, enjoying immensely! Incredible location, photos, sheep, humor... all good.

I recently finished my first audio book, Composed by Rosanne Cash (thank you, Margene, for the suggestion), and am currently awaiting Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my Overdrive app. Audiobooks have been a struggle for me, but beginning by listening to familiar voices reading their own stories seems to be a great way to start!

Watching: Outlander! On DVD. Finally.

Thinking about: An upcoming 3-day weekend in Chicago with my girls! All three!!

Planning: Oregon Coast get-away. I'll meet up with Rusty in No Cal and we'll drive up the Oregon coast, staying at a couple of Airbnb places -- one near Florence, where his dad is hoping to get something going, and one with a great view of Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City (where we got married 31 years ago) -- and visiting friends! We'll also be visiting my dad, and eventually making our way up to Portland where I'll catch a flight back home. I haven't been there in years (almost 25, to be exact) and am looking forward to it... more as time draws near, and more than I really expected.


Remembering: Mum. Her birthday is today; she'd be 78.  This is one of my favorite photos of her -- 4th grade. Her whole face is electric, like she's going to burst out in giggles any second, or can't wait to get out on the playground with her friends (probably both)! This was just before "Cyril," who sat behind her in class, cut off one of her braids. I remember her telling me how she'd go into Grandma's bedroom every morning to have her braids done, and how upset Grandma was with Cyril. And, oh, that gap in her teeth -- it wasn't fixed 'til she got braces when she was in her 40s -- so incredible at the time for an adult to get braces! XOXOX. I miss you everyday Mom.

Fit Friday

Earlier this month, I had an introductory visit with Rebecca, a personal trainer. My friend and co-worker had already been seeing Rebecca about 3 times a week for 6-8 weeks, which I knew about, but I really became interested when I could "see" my friend's progress -- and the extent of that progress in only 6-8 weeks. It was impressive.

Beginning the second week of January, I've had 2 sessions per week with Rebecca, though due to scheduling it's been more like 3 -- and even 3 days in a row! Sometimes we meet at her office in Appleton, and sometimes I go to her house in Green Bay. She has similar but different equipment at each place, so I kind of enjoy the variety.

She took it easy on me the first week or so, getting to know me and gauging my ability. It's been getting a little harder since... but also easier! There was one day, after concentrating on triceps, when it was a challenge to pick up the telephone! But while "abs" is not my favorite thing and I thought I was going to die midway through the first set (I think I did 3 sets of 8 or 10), yesterday, after only 3 weeks, I was amazed at how "easy" it was to do 3 sets of 12! (Shhh, don't tell Rebecca!!)

JeromeschickenJerome's Chicken

I've been cooking more and eating at home. And also keeping track of what I eat, using the free version of an app called Lose It! Kate had been doing that for a little while, and I know how much tracking helps.

TurkeymeatballsTurkey Meatballs & Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (with Spinach)

This has been a while in coming. I've put on a lot of weight over the past year and a half or so. I can't say that it's crept up on me; I've been aware and mostly choosing to ignore. Eating out, a bit more snacking, little exercise, and a lot more beer (oh, I do love a good IPA!)... it's all added up.

Changes have been made. And I think my jeans felt just a little bit more comfortable this morning.


 Once upon a time, Ali had a brilliant idea about making quilts together!


March 2013

Ali: I think we should have a double wedding ring quilt challenge. But it has to be a secret because mine will be for Abbey and Kevin. {A wedding present for their August 2013 wedding.} But you can report your progress, and at the end surprise the masses with TWO beautiful finished products. Eh? Eh? smile emoticon

We have 5 months! We should make a guide of some kind showing what we have to get done in one week. Pace ourselves. I have no idea how to begin. smile emoticon

Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!  Will have to do some research... and, first, you need to get a handle on colors for Abbey & Kevin! I want to go to a good quilt shop!!! Am excited now!

Ali: Me tooooo! We'll have to make a date!


With a 3-month-old baby only 6 months until her best friend's wedding day, it was quickly decided that we'd be making only Ali's (king-size) quilt, and that I would be her helper! She wanted to use the "Easy! Fast! Smart!" Quiltsmart method, which involves no tedious piecing and, instead, utilizes fusible interfacing to make the arcs and assemble square blocks.


So instead of tedious piecing, we tediously cut, sewed, trimmed, turned, finger pressed, ironed, sewed again, pressed again, sewed again, pressed again...

As far as I'm concerned, and having never made a traditional pieced double-wedding ring anything, the jury's still out on the ease, swiftness, and/or intelligence of making a quilt this way (your mileage may vary).

May 2013

Vicki: We need to carve out some production time... a quilting bee!

Ali: Whooo! I'm having a very difficult time finding time!

Vicki: I have turned all that were trimmed and am now trimming more so that I can turn!



August 16, 2013:  WEDDING DAY!



Some parts of this quilt traveled across the pond and I worked on turning and finger pressing in Scotland -- on the train, playing Scrabble in the evening, etc.

June 2014

Vicki: I did some sewing & trimming for quilt yesterday and thought I was caught up... but then saw a whole 'nother pile! Haha. Hope you're having fun up north. XOXO

Ali: This thing is a nightmare!! Haha. Xoxo

Vicki: WE CAN DO IT with this quilt thing!!! smile emoticon


March 2015

Vicki: {Random sewing talk.} Also, we have a quilt to finish.

Ali: And yes. Quilt. I know I still need some more white fabric, but it's coming along. I can maybe give you what I's ready for the clear thread.

June 2015

Vicki: Re: Quilt... we need 90 total + 38 halves, right?

Ali: Yep. So 128x4?

Vicki: Hm. Quilt. Suggested dimensions for a King size quilt, INCLUDING a 15" drop at each side and the bottom, is 106 x 94... which would be 9x8 (assuming our squares are 12"?) So that would be 72 complete squares and 34 halves to go all the way around, give or take. I'm getting confused. We can't need 70 more arcs, can we???

Ali: I suppose I haven't sat down and done the math since the way beginning, and I'm sure it was hasty.


August 2015

Ali: I know this is on the back burner... but I wanted to touch base with an idea! We sew the squares into 1'x9' panels, so maybe we cut 9 1'x9' panels of white fabric and use that as the second layer before the batting. Then it's all connected and sturdier and we don't have an extra actual fabric layer to send along. Yes? I haven't sewn these together lengthwise yet but... smile heart-eyes emoticon

I can't remember exactly, but it was sometime in late summer/early fall that we delivered the finished quilt top to the quilter. We had it done at a shop because that was just WAY beyond either of us. (Ali: I have no idea how to begin. Vicki: I've never made more than a quilted square!) We've learned some things!

January 2016

Vicki: I just watched a GREAT tutorial for binding a quilt. WE CAN DO IT! Do you have fabric for binding? smile emoticon

Ali: I have some packaged white quilt binding but we can use something different if you'd like!

Vicki: I actually think it would be easier to do it with fabric strips instead of packaged binding! I discovered all the old backing yesterday, too, so have plenty. Making the strips won't be difficult at all. I forgot the dimensions of the quilt, though, so that was my next step! Do you remember? If you want to do packaged binding, I can pick it up. I watched 2 tutorials on YouTube -- on one Fat Quarter Shop and the other by Missouri Quilt Co. I actually think the FQS method would be best (simple finish on the front).

Ali: Alright! Let me know how you'd like me to help!

Vicki: I need to measure the perimeter of the quilt; cut, sew & press the 2.5" strips. I can do that part if you want to sew it on... or I can do the first step of sewing and you can finish. I'll measure & cut tonight!

I picked it up less than two weeks ago, and made the binding.


Not only did it take me THREE TIMES to sew the miters making this long strip of fabric, I also made almost twice the length required for the task because... I don't even know why!! But I did a good job and it looks nice and now I have extra.


I made the binding one evening, and Ali came over the next and sewed it all on in just a few hours! After the blocks were assembled, it all went pretty quick! She washed it within a day or two.


It's done and delivered, appreciated and loved!

I still can't quite believe it!

Weekending: Beer Town

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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



"Sew," he said, as he climbed up on the chair by my sewing machine.


That was after he'd already dragged a chair over to the sink to help Grandpa with the dishes!

We also did the second load of "wash" (at his request) in as many visits. He loves to push the buttons on the washer and helps transfer clothes from washer to dryer. It's so funny how he tosses/throws them in... obviously Ali & I have similar technique! Hilariously, he carried the laundry basket with clothes from the dryer into the living room (it wasn't FULL), but that's where the modeling of behavior ends -- unless they do laundry altogether differently at his house. Contents of the basket started flying, and there may have been underwear worn as a hat. Heheh.

This little boy...

  • He loves looking at a box of photos I have; he says, "Baby!" and, of course, the baby is him! Then he sees one of our selfies, and says, "Nona."
  • If I don't respond quickly enough when he calls, he's begun to shout, "NONA!!" And sometimes his little hand, with index finger extended, is wagging at the wrist as he points out and communicates his desire.
  • There's a new little gallop-y skip in his walk when he's excited.
  • Photos on the fridge are endlessly fascinating. He says, "Mock," and once in a very rare while he'll say "Addy," but those sounds -- Maddy, Daddy, Addy -- are still getting worked out. He calls his daddy "D."
  • The energy! He runs and spins and jumps.
  • The humor! He was born into the right family.  :)

31 Years!


Happy 31st Anniversary to Rusty & me!

We won't be celebrating together in Mexico, as we did last year, but we will be going out to dinner this evening, and plans have been made for some upcoming travel. More on that and bunch of other stuff to come!

Weekending: Breathing Room

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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



Can you believe this little guy is TWO today??

Happy Birthday Junebean!!


Family & friends got together at the bowling alley for a little birthday celebration on Sunday. Did you know that lanes these days have programmable "bumpers" that go up and down automatically depending on each particular bowler's preference? Also, there are little ramps to use if a bowler is unable to lift and swing a ball? Just aim and send the ball on its way!


Junah enjoyed watching other bowlers, and was really interested in bowling himself for about 5 or 6 frames (he was playing a game -- WINNING -- with Mack &  Addy), but with no real concept of the game he was, of course, soon distracted by other things... going up & down the stairs, eating cake, opening presents, and watching the ball return!!


Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite David Bowie Songs

Bowie Is

While I would never be described as a big "fan" of David Bowie, I was certainly always interested and aware! I was shocked and saddened yesterday to read of his death. There's absolutely no denying that he was an amazing creative influence in the world and that the world just wouldn't be the same without him. It was a little over a year since Katie & I saw the DAVID BOWIE IS exhibition in Chicago, and I'm so glad we did.

In lieu of my 10 favorite songs, I share David Bowie's 10 Biggest Hits -- some great videos there, as well as "5 Things You Might Not Know About David Bowie"! RIP.

Right Now: January

Knitting: Scoreboard KAL continues! I fell behind -- the second half of the season being not as exciting (fewer wins) as the first -- and just started Week 13 last night, which is a total of 50 rows. There's another 176 regular-season points/rows to knit after that, along with a dozen or so divider rows between games. I'm not sure about knitting post season yet. I will power through and finish this, though, because it will be one of the most awesome additions to my game-day wardrobe ever!

I'm also still working on an alpaca bunny for Junie; I've stalled at the head -- sewing up & embroidering features (the make it or break it part).

Sewing: Grainline Studio's STOWE Bag. Also need to finish sewing the Alabama Chanin Long Vest; beading & finishing an AC Corset that has been languishing; and also finish the binding on an AC-inspired T-shirt refashion.

Reading: The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry, my book from Sandy during last month's 1st Annual Book & Chocolate Exchange.

Watching: River on Netflix.

Hoping/Anticipating/Dreading (rinse & repeat): First workouts next week with a personal trainer.

Thinking about: How much better I'll feel... after I first will likely feel worse.

Planning: Another quick o'night birthday celebration coming up in a couple of weeks in Milwaukee, this time with Annie!


Celebrating: Junah's 2nd birthday on the 12th (I can hardly believe it); party this weekend! When I told Annie about it, she wrote, "Mack says there's no way he's missing that!!!" So the boys will be here, too.

Remembering: Mum -- her birthday is at the end of the month, she'd be 78.

Wishing: I didn't have to remember.

Eating: A lot of Mexican food lately!

Drinking: Margaritas from scratch!

Itching to: Get back to my sewing projects, but first...

Needing to: Get my workroom cleaned up! (Time and energy have been hit and miss lately.)

Organizing: EOY and tax stuff.

Wondering: When if I'll get the tree down this weekend.

Happy Weekend!

Ten on Tuesday: More or Less

Ten on Tuesday:  5 Things I Want to Do More & 5 Things I'd Like to Do Less in 2016

A slightly different take on the ubiquitous New Year's Resolution!


1 - Reading (especially audio books)

2 - Bicycling/Moving

3 - Cooking

4 - Dyeing (both fabric & yarn)

5 - Photography



1 - Procrastinating

2 - Buying patterns/yarn/fabric on a whim/sale and/or without immediate plans

3 - Eating (especially junk)

4 - Eating out

5 - Wasting Food (we need to better coordinate our cooking & consumption)


Well, it was way easier to come up with 5 Things I'd Like To Do More than Less, which I found sort of surprising for some reason.

Are there some adjustments you're making or hoping to make in the new year?

Weekending: Happy New Year

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

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

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

Weekending_2016-01-02 11.00.58

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


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

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


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

Weekending_2016-01-02 19.02.23

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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