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June 2017
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August 2017



That's supposed to be a gif -- is it moving?

Kids, corn, corny kids...


Remember Prisma??

A little shopping, some good food & drink & tunes, water & sand, hanging out...

I even got a few things done at home!

Does it get any better?

Right Now

Anticipating... Rusty's return! He's been in California for most of the summer -- art stuff, a residency, visiting family & friends, projects. I'm looking forward to having him back in residence here!

Celebrating... A nice stretch of warm & mostly dry weather ahead! It has been an awfully rainy (and humid) summer so far, so this is quite welcome.


Charmed by... this photo that Ann sent me last week with the caption: Casting off! Wedding dishcloth!!

Enjoying... The county fair! It opened on Tuesday, and Maddy & I went last night. I haven't been to that particular fair in many, many years... possibly since I was in junior high! I worked for my aunt during the summer between 7th & 8th grades. She was blowing glass back then and, in addition to sales, I painted/decorated the pieces that needed that sort of thing! We did the circuit all over WI & MN that summer... so much fun!


Anyway, we didn't go on a single ride, but we did tour every barn! The judge in the photo above -- middle right, wearing jeans & plaid shirt, talking to young man with a sheep -- was talking with that young man the entire time that we watched. He was so patient and you could tell that he was genuinely interested in sheep, but even more in demonstrating & explaining to every person there how to show their sheep in the best possible way.


I know the knitter of those 1st Place socks! I loved the whimsy of the little embroidery sampler pillow.


Some of it was pretty impressive! (FYI: You Can Do It Afghan is a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarns.)


I'm thinking that it might not be my last county fair of the year... there are three more within a :20-30 minute drive happening in the next month or so!


Knitting... Forest Mystery continues to grow!!

Looking forward to... A relatively uneventful weekend and a chance to get things cleaned up at home! Auntie Camp stuff sits atop a big pile o' other stuff that needs to be put away.


Planning... A trip!

Reading... The same stuff I've been reading.


Remembering... Hang time with the dude at Wednesday night's concert in the park. We spent a good part of that afternoon together, too.

Sewing... My craft/free time has been devoted to knitting the shawl, but there are some sewing projects on my mind and underway (in the pile)!

Watching... Game of Thrones... I've been knitting to it... currently on Season 5.

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

Answer: Earrings

Kim asked the question:

What is the jewelry that you feel naked without?

For me, it's earrings! And funny enough, I'm not wearing any today. I decided at the last minute this morning to take photos and then forgot to grab a pair!

Anyway, I was so happy to find this little jewelry pegboard at Target a couple of weeks ago when I was there with the boys to pick up a few extra shirts. The way I've stored most of my earrings for the past few years is jumbled in a pile on my nightstand. Every once in a while, Junah likes to play in there -- our bed is high, so it's fun to get on and off -- and I knew that one of these days those trinkets were going to catch his attention, so I've been looking for some sort of storage/display solution. This may also attract attention, but seems more manageable.



It's not on the wall yet, and I'm not sure that I'll hang it. I might get a big easel and prop it on my dresser (when I get it cleaned off). (There's a disaster just about any place you look at my house right now, it's just a matter of degrees.)

I'm pretty sure I could arrange these better, and there are a few more to add, plus I'd like another hook or two, but I * LOVE * seeing them all so orderly!


My new pair of earrings from Spain -- from La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (where the newlyweds landed today to begin their honeymoon!).


My other new pair of earrings from Spain, which I've been wearing A LOT! They go so well with anything indigo, as well as black, and the wire design is different and fun.


The top two in this photo are from Rio de Janeiro, purchased at the Ipanema Hippie Fair! I don't wear them because the metal is questionable and I am very sensitive -- gold or sterling, please! The dice were for Sharon on our Las Vegas trip, and the big celtic nouveau pair next to them were hers.

Souvenir earrings & souvenir yarn are interchangeable in my book!


There's the "game day" section! What?!! You don't have game-day earrings??


And these. All made by the same artist, whose name I do not recall, purchased over a period of several years at a gallery in Door County. I stopped into that gallery last year and didn't see anything similar. The calla lily pair on the right were a part of my regular attire for a very long time, and I had a ring (by the same artist) to match. The other two pair are quite a bit heavier, so never worn quite as often.

What about you? What is the jewelry that you feel naked without?
(Share your answer at Kim's, too!)

Love + Dancing = Weekend Wedding

My nephew Sam, Brian's eldest, married the love of his life on Saturday. He fell in love with Anna within seconds of meeting, and just "knew." He began saving for the engagement ring after their second date!

The wedding was held in the rooftop garden at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and it was lovely. Anna is gorgeous, and made a stunning bride.


The photographer was just on the other side of that greenery while I creeped to get this lovely image of Sam & Anna dancing.

Oh my goodness, the DANCING!!

Much to their amusement, I told the boys during Auntie Camp about Sam's late-night surprise performance at my brother's wedding, 16 years ago, shocking everyone -- no one more than his father -- by dancing a joyful solo to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Sam had been as relentless in requesting the song as the DJ had been in resisting, but it was finally spun at the end of the night and I am not kidding when I say that jaws hit the floor.

The DJs on Saturday were also resistant, but Mack was collecting names and, well... Kate & I were 29 & 30 on the petition, I believe. Haha! Resistance is futile. Finally, they played the record and people crowded the dance floor -- including Sam and his brothers for a reprise.

And inspiration... the youngest of them were shy at first.


Addie & Ann. It all starts with one move (oh, the orange socks)!!


Addie & Dylan. A few hours later!!

There was no stopping them. Solos, trios, quartets, crowds; with their mother, aunt, brothers, cousins; they danced all night and it was delightful.


I arrived home early Sunday afternoon and took a nap! After that, I relaxed. Perfect Sunday afternoon activities, if you ask me.

And then I made dinner. Roasted Tomatoes & Cipollini Onions with White Beans from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I nabbed last week from Ann's pile that was destined for Half-Price Books.


It was delicious, pretty easy to put together, and so good. "I can't stop thinking about it" good!!

I hope you had a good weekend!

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat & friends this week for Unraveled Wednesday!

My reading is slow, as usual, and all over the Bingo board...

2017 Book Bingo

I'm currently listening to The Shadow of the Wind, and enjoying it quite a bit; Hillbilly Elegy is on my Kindle; and for pages, I've just put a library hold on Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen.

On Friday, when the boys were kayaking with Maddy in Stevens Point, I stopped by my LYS to get yarn for a special project.


I finally cast on Sunday night and this is an up-to-the-minute progress shot; I have placed my markers and am about to commence 5 repeats of Chart C. The project is Forest Mystery by "Amanita" Agata Mackiewicz. I am using Malabrigo "Dos Tierras" in a colorway called Lettuce. It is gorgeous, and it's going to be a gift for Kiwi Mom. It may be spring in New Zealand by the time she gets it, but oh well. My mother always said that the best time to do something is when you have the time to do it... so that's my story.

Auntie Camp v.3

3rd Annual Auntie Camp commenced early Wednesday morning when Mack & Addie arrived at my back door!

It was a dreary and rainy start, so we decided to go to a movie -- something that was on our unofficial List of Possibilities, anyway. I don't think I've ever been to a 10:30 a.m. showing before!


We saw Despicable Me 3, and I didn't even fall asleep (as I am wont to do; close, but no Zs).

Later, after lunch and some errands, we tried our hand dyeing some silk scarves using The 5-Minute Silk Scarf method from Dharma Trading Co. I'd run across this tutorial when I was shopping for tie-dye supplies, and already had everything needed for the project except the silk scarves, so added a few to my order.


It was so easy, and really fun. Because we were using dry/powdered acid dye for this project, we needed to wear face masks -- so it felt a little science-y, too! The boys LOVED how their projects turned out.


Jun & Gin came over for a while! Jun was wearing one of the old boys' old Brasil soccer shirts, and Gin sported my first attempt at a romper from a t-shirt! I made that two years ago (OMG, wee Jun!), using a shirt with Addie's art (still one of my favorites)!

On Thursday, we got together with Ali & the kids and headed up to Bay Beach Amusement Park -- the best little park around!


The first thing on the list was a train ride! Junah was in HEAVEN... and didn't want to get off when it was over. Poor guy. He loves trains so much!!


While the little kids played on the playground, Mack & Addie & I took a ride on "Elvis' favorite" rollercoaster, the Zippin Pippin!

It's been quite a while since I rode a rollercoaster. Yikes! It sure is a nice view from up there, though. We also went on the Scrambler, one of my favorites from childhood (along with the Tilt-a-Whirl and Spider/Octopus). Mack & Ali & Junah went down the Giant Slide, and everyone but me took a ride on the Merry-Go-Round.


There were burgers & cheese fries, slushies & ice cream... everything you could want from a visit to an amusement park!!

On Friday, Maddy took the boys to Stevens Point for some kayaking.


I ran a few errands while they were gone, including delivery of the Mini-Me Hat & Beard and a stop at my LYS, Iris Fine Yarns, to get yarn for a new project. I also did a few things around the house, such as replacing the toilet seat!



We went to the opening of Settling the Ghost, an art exhibition curated by Kate (Young Space) at Standard Projects. There was great attendance, and I think the boys enjoyed it... though their favorite "exhibit" was on the snack table!


Rounding off a pretty busy day, Maddy built a fire when we got home, and we made s'mores!

Saturday was Tie-Dye Day! We'd been prepping shirts here & there over the previous couple of days, so we were ready to DO IT!

I guess I didn't take any photos of the process.

They tried swirls and sunbursts, and it was all about the application of the color. I'd purchased a Tie-Dye Kit from Dharma, along with a couple of extra colors and some of their ready-to-dye shirts (and a couple of onesies), plus some other shirts (both white & colors) that I had.

After applying the dye, the shirts were wrapped in plastic wrap to sit/set.


They'd held a few projects back to dye with indigo -- because it just isn't Auntie Camp unless someone turns blue! Haha. I was a bit more stern about that this time, though, because their big brother is getting married on Saturday. The dye comes off of skin fairly easily, but takes quite a bit longer if fingernails are involved.

The "magic" of indigo is more immediate than the tie-dye, and so fun!


I made the t-shirt for Junah, Mack dyed the tank for me. I love it, and wore it yesterday! There are more photos on Instagram.


Ali picked us up and we went to the pool to cool off. We ordered pizza for supper, and then Maddy walked with the boys to get some ice cream. 

On Sunday morning, we were excited about the big reveal of the tie-dye projects!

There's a whole lotta water involved in that process. Wow. I unwrapped, rinsed with the hose on the driveway; the boys removed rubber bands, I rinsed with the hose again; rinsed again with warm water in the kitchen; did a rinse & spin cycle in the washer; hot/cold wash in the washer; and again. I put color catchers in with all of the machine cycles... and they caught a lot of color!


From left to right: Swirl shirt for Junah (I don't remember who applied the color); Addy's orange shirt with a shibori technique (kind of a dud); Mack's pleated shirt; Addy's swirl shirt for his mom; Mack's swirl shirt for his mom; Mack's swirl shirt for his dad; and Addy's tri-section shirt for his dad. The color in Mack's pleated shirt is a lot less vibrant and I finally figured out that we'd forgotten to soak it in the soda ash solution prior to dyeing!

The only major things left on our List of Possibilities was making bookmarks (collage/lamination) and knitting, and the boys chose knitting!


The boys are very different in their styles/technique -- learning/doing -- and Addie needs lots of breaks (bathroom, snack, drink, fiddling -- that gadget he has isn't even charged). And we moved a bit, from the pergola to the porch and, eventually, to the couch.



Ann & Brian were originally due on Sunday afternoon, but were delayed by weather so the boys stayed overnight on Sunday, too. They both worked on their knitting for a while before we turned on a movie (Sky High -- kinda cute), and it was so fun listening to them talk about how knitting is "magical" and "calming." Mack's talking about making a blanket, and Brian said that Mack made sure he had his knitting when they left my house yesterday -- he forgot his hat & sunglasses, but he had his knitting!!

That's a wrap for Auntie Camp v.3! Already gathering ideas for v.4.  ;)

I am feeling much better, thank you! I was told yesterday that I sounded like Stevie Nicks... "sing something!" Haha. A bit less so today, and far less sniffly, too.

FO: Mini-Me for K & G

My friend Ellen welcomed her 3rd grandchild in the past couple of months -- a boy! We've known the family a long time, as Ali and Ellen's daughter Abbey have been BFFs since high school. I've taken many photos of the family over the years, including Abbey & Kevin's (surprise!) engagement, her brother & sister-in-law Alex & Carrie's wedding photos, and some newborn/child/family photos.

A few weeks ago, Ellen asked if I'd be able to replicate a "favorite" hat of Kevin's for the baby. Kevin had a birthday coming up and she thought it would be a fun gift... "beard optional," she said.

Hahahaha... Typing "BEARD" into the Ravelry pattern search field returns more than 350 patterns!



I used Two by One, a pattern by Mandy Powers, as a guide for the hat. Details on Ravelry.


And Baby Beard by Poststitch for the beard. Details on Ravelry.


I'm being a little lazy today. We had a STELLAR Auntie Camp, but I am pooped, back at work, and was waylaid near the end by allergies or a cold. Allergy meds seem to help, so I'm going with that.


I love lavender!


Maddy's been doing a little yard work, and she left me this lovely bouquet after trimming back the lavender. And a note... I love notes!

I watched Jun for a little while on Saturday afternoon while his mum & Gin ran errands.


We checked out and covered the potatoes (he calls them "tomatoes") and hung out in the back yard for a while, put together three puzzles, played ball (with two balls!), took the bears for a buggy ride down the sidewalk, and chatted with the neighbor.


Then Ali & Gin hung out for a while, too!


A little faucet repair was the first order of business on Sunday morning. I'd discovered a leak/drip late Saturday night and called Rusty; we decided to just shut it off under the sink (also emptying that cabinet because, of course, it was all wet, too). I took it apart and put it back together four times in the morning and it was just getting worse! I finally snapped these photos and sent them to Rusty. See that little "ring" in the first photo? That's actually two pieces that came off as one -- an inside brass piece that gets tightened with a wrench (and stops leaks!), and a decorative piece that's hand-tightened before the handle is screwed back down. Once that was determined, it was a pretty quick fix! Thank goodness for camera phones.


I finished the stealth project I was working on! This is the inside... it's a stranded project, as you can see. That's not usually my thing, but this was fun to figure out, and I love how it turned out!! Details soon!

Meanwhile, I contemplated starting the TTL Mystery Shawl (yes, I've been peeking at Spoiler pics -- and love it), but nothing in my stash is turning me on. I decided that what I should really do is pick up my Brambling Shawl and get back on track! I've located my pattern, now I just need to figure out where I am.

Haha. Where am I???

Spain: What I Packed/What I Wore

Especially with timing & the connections we wanted to make early in the trip -- Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona -- the goal was to pack for a week abroad in ONE CARRY-ON SUITCASE + ONE PERSONAL ITEM (allowances of the airline). A new personal best!!


I used a hard-sided suitcase that fit the measurement requirements (21.5 x 15.5 x 9.5 inches) and a large imitation leather tote. The tote had both hand/shoulder straps and a cross-body strap -- I need options with a bag like that! It had one large zip pocket on one side, which was perfect for my wallet, and two smaller zip pockets on the other side, one of which worked well for my glasses case, and the other... keys & things that I needed to have with me but wouldn't be using while away.

Knowing that I wouldn't be able to carry that large tote everywhere/everyday, I packed my new Baggallini Medium Avenue Tote inside the suitcase. It folded nice & flat and took up practically no space at all. The only downside to this (and mostly because of our nuts-o itinerary) was that I kept having to switching stuff between bags, which wasn't difficult, just a lot of back & forth sometimes.

I had also ordered a Baggallini Everywhere Bagg, but ended up returning it; even though I really loved the idea of the zipper that allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase, I did not love the bag itself. I do, however, LOVE the Medium Avenue Tote and have since ordered the larger version (which has that luggage zipper thing) and think the two will make a great travel combo in the future. I've actually been using the Medium Avenue Tote as my regular purse since we returned.

Inside the carry-on tote:

  • A couple of small knitting projects (never used)
  • A tablet & headset (never used)
  • Cell phone, earbuds, charger
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel dossier
  • Liquids
  • Ibuprofen, kleenex, hairbands
  • Shawl

Travel duds:


I knew comfort & layers would be important. The shirt is one of my favorites, a lightweight, long (& longer in the back) knit top that I've had for a year or so. Scratchy tags drive me nuts, so I have no idea who made it. The pants are a heavy-weight knit from J. Jill that I've also had for a while; they are longer than they look -- about ankle length -- they hold up well and keep their shape. The long sweater is also from J. Jill, purchased earlier this year when we went to Florida; it is a lightweight knit with pockets and a hood. I don't usually like hoods, but this is so lightweight that it's barely there -- and, it came in handy to pull that extra fabric up around my neck (airplanes can be cold!) (I used the shawl, too!).



The other "bottoms" in my suitcase were a pair of J. Jill medium-weight knit capris, a pair of Eileen Fisher knit capris, and an Eileen Fisher skirt. I have quite a few pairs of the J. Jill capris and consider them my go-to at home/work in the summertime. They were a little heavy for the weather we experienced, as they don't really breathe very well. The Eileen Fisher pieces were definitely purchased on sale, and have been in my closet for at least a year or two. I never actually wore those EF capris out of the house before, but I loved them on this trip and wore them most; they were the lightest weight of all (though not "lightweight") -- and it was HOT in Spain!! The EF skirt is made of the same material as the capris, and has a little shape to it at the bottom; I wore it once, with my new Alabama Chanin tunic.

What is definitely on my wish list for my next warm-weather trip are some lightweight "hiking" pants/capris!

A note here about PACKING CUBES!

Maddy raved about packing cubes last summer, as she was perfecting her "packing for 9 months in a backpack" technique, and I immediately ordered an Amazon Basics 4-Piece Set for myself. I've used them a few times now and pack socks & unders in the small one; layer & roll up 2-3 items at a time -- tops/sweaters & pants/skirts/dresses -- in the medium sizes; and have not actually used the largest one yet (it is pretty big). Rolling instead of folding allows SO much more to be packed and, I think, reduces wrinkles by quite a lot. The packing cubes keep like items together and a bit more organized. I even used them for our quick weekend at the Flowage; stuff doesn't end up in a jumble!

Dress up:


I brought one dress. This was a fairly recent purchase from J. Jill, and it added some color to my otherwise (you may have noticed) very black wardrobe! I wore this dress once, on Saturday/Beach Day with (at times) the long hooded sweater; I love this dress. I brought a couple pairs of "slip shorts" along, my favorite being this pair by Maidenform (not really "shapewear" at all), as I find it makes wearing a dress/skirt much more comfortable -- especially in the heat.

Tops I wore:





Top to bottom:

  • Eileen Fisher Knit Boatneck
  • J. Jill Tencil Top
  • J. Jill Short Sleeve (worn with a black knit cami, not shown)
  • Target/Merona Knit V-Neck (still black/neutral, but pattern!)
  • Alabama Chanin A-line Magdalena Tunic
  • J. Jill Cotton 3/4-sleeve Mesh-knit Sweater

Except for the sweater, which I wore a few times, and the AC tunic, which I wore twice, I think I wore each of these once. I'm glad I brought a mix of sleeveless & short sleeves and different necklines, as there was a lot of time in the sun and it was nice to be able to cover up a bit.

Tops I brought but didn't wear:


Top to bottom:

  • J. Jill Linen Tunic
  • Alabama Chanin-esque Polka-dot Boatneck
  • Old Navy V-Neck

I really wanted to wear that tunic, and even put it on one morning, but I already had a sunburn and it was too rough against my skin! I love the other two tops, but realize that I prefer to wear them with more structured (woven) pants or jeans, which I did not have. I'd also packed a white knit cami... but why? White with all this black? Needless to say, I never wore that either.


I wore my tennies while traveling, as they were the bulkiest; I also brought along two three pairs of sandals. Footwear is tough, especially since I have a tendency to swell when flying. We walked so much, and I definitely wore the tennies most; I wasn't able to wear one pair of sandals due to swelling, was happy to have the other two to switch between.


I stripped my toiletries case to the bare minimum for travel, and so it remains! It "helped" to have a separate bag for the liquids & pastes, and the rest of it fit into a regular size makeup bag.

In addition to everything else, don't forget that I had a box of graham crackers and a box of cheez-its in my suitcase! That actually left a nice space, when we returned, to pack the few items I bought.


I have a few of these Brazilian Canga towels -- they are very lightweight and fold/wad up nicely. I brought this one along and it came in very handy at the beach, both for sitting upon and as a sun block.

Ann & Brian had a washer at their apartment and the girls & I did a collective load of laundry there. That wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was nice. As mentioned, it was HOT, and it was nice to freshen things up a bit!

I briefly considered bringing my big camera, but ended up leaving it at home... and I'm so glad I did. While there were some pretty amazing photo ops, it's just too big and heavy to lug around on a trip like this. Thankfully, my phone does a decent job (Samsung Galaxy S7).

That's it, I think! I hope that helps those of you who are interested and have baggage-limited trips of your own coming up! I'm happy to elaborate or clarify or answer any questions you might have.

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.
--Frank Borman

Dear July,

Are we really at the mid-way point of the year?? It's hard to believe... though June went Whoosh!! 


We ended June and began July with a pre-4th of July trip up to the Flowage and a few days at my uncle's cabin. The forecast wasn't spectacular, but it was good enough (better than expected), so there was plenty of walking, bicycling, canoeing, Skip-Bo and Bananagramming, building with Legos, and just hanging out on the dock. We returned on Sunday, and enjoyed Monday off of work in addition to the holiday. Not a bad deal.


Jun's first set of "little" LEGOs -- appropriately themed!

Other than Auntie Camp (commencing on Wednesday!) and a wedding in Madison later this month, it's a "normal" month... for a change. There's actually nothing huge on the calendar for the rest of the summer... another wedding coming up in September, a possible few days in Door County in October, and then some fun stuff around my birthday in November.

But here & now... what's happening RIGHT NOW??

Anticipating... A fun few days with Mack & Addy and our 3rd Annual Auntie Camp. This year, we plan to do some tie-dyeing with fiber reactive dyes in addition to indigo (because it ain't Auntie Camp until someone turns blue). The boys also want to do a little knitting, and make some bookmarks. I'm going to try to involve Junah in some of the dyeing -- even if he just wants to watch! New this year is a likely paddle/camp excursion with Cousin Maddy (pray that the weather cooperates).

Eating... Zoodles! I love them so much that I bought a Spiralizer, which will pay for itself in no time given the cost of spiralized zucchini at the store (and not as expensive as I remember)! I love how quickly they can be made, and how delicious! My favorite right now is a stripped-down WW recipe: Sautee the zoodles for a few minutes, add some fire-roasted diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a little smoked garlic, stir some more, serve with a dollop of whipped cream cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh basil. So good!

Also, I finally made my first batch of Greek yogurt in the Instant Pot! I'll be making more of that (Gin loves it), but probably in smaller batches; I didn't need to use a whole gallon of milk! In addition to perfect-every-time hard-boiled eggs in the IP, I've been working out the timing for a steamed artichoke!

Happy... to have Maddy home! She's been in & out a lot -- visiting, catching up -- but she's HOME! (For a while...)

Knitting... Currently, a stealth project with a deadline. Two colors, stripes, I can't say much more than that... I'll share when I am able!

Looking forward to... Getting some things done at home!

2017 Book Bingo

Reading... The Shadow of the Wind (audio) and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (pages); soon: Hillbilly Elegy. I don't know whether I'll get a BINGO this year. You'd think with all the planes, trains & automobiles that I've been in lately that I'd have made some progress... but no. I've realized that I make more progress on knitting & reading while traveling... ALONE!!

Sewing... An Alabama Chanin Factory Dress -- single layer, using a printed fabric. Fingers crossed!

Watching... American Gods. I finished it, actually, but have the urge to watch it again. It was... verrrry interesting. I never read the book, nor (shall I admit it?) any of Neil Gaiman's books. I didn't think I was "into that," but maybe I am? Things change! Also, Maddy and I just started The Handmaid's Tale!

Wondering... What's up with you?

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

Spain: El fin (Days 7, 8... and 9)

We bid fare-thee-wells on Tuesday morning, sending Ann & family off to work/school. No one was too sad, though, because they'd all be state-side within a month or so! (In fact, I am gearing up for 3rd Annual Auntie Camp set to begin July 12th!)


See ya later!!

On our way to the train station, we stopped by Dulce de Leche at Brian's suggestion.


I had severe camnesia, and regret that I didn't take any photos inside... the bakery case was incredible!! Take a gander at Instagram for an idea. So good.

Then it was on to Madrid to begin our journey home.


From the taxi, on the way to our Airbnb, we noticed that Catedral de la Almudena was practically around the corner! I hadn't even noticed that it was right next to the Royal Palace of Madrid.


The cathedral was, of course, AMAZING!


Party on the ceiling!! It was incredible, and one of my favorites.

It was SUPER HOT and very sunny, so we didn't go too far in search of food & drink.


We found a shady spot under an umbrella at el camarote and enjoyed a nice cold cerveza and some delicious tapas. Our server seemed to take a liking to us and treated us very well!!


Maddy hung out at the apartment, while I accompanied Kate to visit an artist-run gallery space that she'd previously connected with through Young Space. It was really fun to find ourselves in Madrid with enough time to stop in!


Then it was back to our Airbnb to chill for a bit and then go to bed early. We are willing to admit that the "open book headboard" totally won us over when we booked this place... though it was a bit less "ruffled" in the photos on the listing!


The next morning (Wednesday), departure from Madrid. We had a short layover in Dublin, and then were on our way to Chicago... scheduled to land at about 6:45 p.m.


...well, that was the plan. Everything was wonderful -- we were even on course to arrive about :45 early -- but it all fell apart mostly due to weather/weather-related backups at O'Hare. We were detoured to Detroit "to refuel," but then ended up sitting on the plane for 3 hours while waiting for Dublin to make the decision about whether we would continue. Eventually, and by then, they decided that some of the crew were too close to the limit on hours (to make the one-hour +/- flight from Detroit>Chicago) and we all got off the plane. Flight cancelled.

It might not have been so bad if we'd been on another airline, but I believe this may have been the first landing of Aer Lingus at Detroit. There was much, much confusion & delay... and long-story-short, there were no hotel rooms, no other flights available until Thursday evening, the promised "buses to Chicago" never arrived (at least while we were there, and with more than one false alarm), and the little coffee shop/deli had been all but cleaned out.

We ended up booking a train in the wee hours of the morning, taking a Lyft ride to get to that station, arriving before it even opened, and having breakfast at Tim Horton next door. The coffee was good.


We snoozed a little on the train (those seats are not very comfy), after little to no sleep overnight at the airport (those seats were even worse). We took the Metro to O'Hare to get the car, found some food, and then drove 3.5 hours home, switching off pretty frequently because OHMYGODSOTIRED.

About 24 hours after we were originally supposed to land in Chicago, we finally made it home. I was in bed by 8 and slept like a log. I'd originally taken Thursday off to run around and take care of some details with Maddy (and do laundry and recover), but instead begged off Friday morning to at least accomplish the most important of those things. Thankful for an understanding workplace and no complications!

I totally jinxed it, by the way, commenting way too early on how smoothly everything went during our trip! When you think about it, though, we had some pretty crazy connections and had purchased all of our train tickets in advance, along with our tickets to The Book of Kells and La Sagrada Familia -- any little delay along the way could have thrown a wrench into our plans. It all worked out.

I wish that O'Hare had chosen a more Detroit-friendly flight to divert instead of us, and I wish that Dublin had allowed personnel some leeway... but in the end, it all worked out. My experience on Aer Lingus up to, and even after that point, was really quite nice (there was one flight attendant who went above & beyond in Detroit -- as did all of the airport personnel we encountered), and I wouldn't hesitate to fly that airline again.

By the way, upping my organizational game, I used Tripit to manage everything (I opted for the Pro version) -- flights, trains, tickets, lodging -- including Maddy's separate flight itinerary, and it worked wonderfully! In addition to having everything in one place, easy to see and navigate, I found it extremely helpful in managing time.