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February 2011

Let them eat cake

Nana:  What's your favorite thing for breakfast, Addison, french toast or pancakes?

Addison:  Pancakes! Because they have CAKE in them.

(Duh, Nana.)

Vicki:  I'm leavin'! See you later! Love you guys!

Addison:  Don't forget to come back another day next week and bring your big girls with you... Katie, and Ali, and Maddy... when she's back from England... and if she's available.


Ready for a close-up

I'm feeling a bit like that rose in the snow -- brighter, lighter, a little pink emerging from the cold and bleak winter. I'm sure it has everything to do with tidying up some loose ends in the affairs of my sister -- actually, we're talking big burdens being lifted and, oh, what a relief it is!

There have been some good things happening with people -- with friends of Sharon, some of whom I think I may, at some point, even call friends of mine. That feels good and right.

Good things have been happening with the kids -- following in footsteps while plotting new courses; things falling into place.

It's all connected, perhaps even watched over and guided.

Okay, that last part scares even me. Heh! I am not religious, by any measure, and don't feel I'm particularly spiritual... but maybe that because these are things that I barely acknowledge to myself and never talk about with anyone else. They are feelings -- no, they're more than that, and I can't put them into words... because if I put them into words then it's different.  Then they're... just words.

So that's all I can say about that.

But there are a few things from this week that I have to share, rather randomly I suppose.

A Skype video chat with Maddy a few days ago was amazing. We bought the webcams and the headphones with built-in microphones when Katie was away, but never quite got it together. Technology today makes it almost effortless. It was so fun that she was actually able to see her little doggy!

Speaking of doggies, I've been thinking of Gracie SO MUCH these past few days, and then seeing some of Sharon's friends and having them ask after her... I contacted Lu, Gracie's new owner yesterday, and had the most wonderful reply -- all about how well Gracie has adjusted, how much she is loved and spoiled, how she loves to go for walks and for rides. Gracie went all the way to North Dakota and back for the holidays! Lu said that Gracie must have always had the front seat, though, because that's always where she wants to be. That makes me smile, and also tear up a little... Gracie was Sharon's canine copilot and always did have the front seat! Oh, but as much as anything, this news makes me so happy!

I wound two balls of Burly Spun nearly as big as my head, and have cast on for Loop's Burly Spun Grey Owl Cowl. I'd like to try and visit while we're in London!

I've also learned of a couple of other fibery shops to visit, thanks to FB friends, near where we'll be staying in Scotland!

Montparnasse had a Eucalan soak yesterday and I pinned it out... um, I use that term rather loosely... to block last night while watching Episodes 6 & 7 of Long Way Down. We were able to borrow Long Way Round from our library, but I had to give Julia Child the boot back to Netflix in order to get "Down." Lovin' them both... Ewan and Charley... Round and Down. Heh.

Birthday dinner for Mom on the calendar for Saturday night. I'm making fish chowder and Ann's making her most amazing homemade carrot cake. Yum.


I saw the knit signal thrown up at JessaLu's this morning, which led me to her friend Tina's explanation and effort to help fellow knitter and mother TextileJunkie Michelle. The knit signal is a call to action -- one with which I am all to familiar and also powerless to ignore -- so I have done what I could and am shining it on. All the best to Michelle!

Happy weekend, peeps. TGIF!

Basket of flowers in snow

They dried out in the garden room and must have been in someone's way, anyway, because next thing I know, the whole basket is out in the snow. It's really very pretty out there. I can see it from the kitchen window.

Progress, people! There is progress. It has been a very busy and very good coupla days.


Penny Parfait

One of the ways I'm saving some money for our trip to the U.K. is by saving all my change. There were two ready vessels for the holding of change and I decided to use them both. I put all the pennies into the jar, and all the silver money goes into a smaller, turned wood bowl. The bowl is smaller, so when it's filled up I dump it into the jar, making a layer of silver atop the pennies. Then I continue putting pennies in the jar and collecting all the silver in the bowl, rinse and repeat. Penny Parfait.

It's not a very big jar, but HEAVY already! I don't think there'll be room for another bowlful of silver. Exciting, isn't it? Heh.

Heading south today to take care of some sister business. I'm nicking away at it. We'll be bringing her kiln back today. I'd better get... picking up Mom in :20 and I'm still not dressed!

Ten on Tuesday: Darling, you look... mahvelous!

Ten on Tuesday10 Favorite Health & Beauty Products

I wish I had a picture handy to post. It's a 2-year-old me standing on my mom's dresser as she applied her "lickin," which is what I called her lipstick. In lieu of that, we have this:

Health and beauty "products" have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. While I've worn makeup most days of my adult (and many of my teen-age) (and some of my tween-age*) years, I am not, and never have been, a slave to any sort of regimen. I'm not very good at any sort of regimen and I think it's mostly because of time - and, also, I don't like to have to do things a certain way. I like to do things my way, and that way is QUICK! So anything with more than one step or with any sort of waiting period will soon fall by the wayside. I don't get my hair permed or colored for the same reason; heck, I don't even blow-dry my hair. I'm all wash-and-wear, get-up-and-go!

Not that I've never had my hair permed or colored... but I just can't stand it! I've also used lemon juice and egg on my hair, as well as mayonnaise and beer, and I remember washing my face with Tide for a while in high school thanks to some "beauty" magazine. Ouch.

Here's the "stuff" I use on a pretty regular basis these days, from the top:

1.  Shampoo and sometimes conditioner. I'm a firm believer in mixing it up, so I have all sort of shampoo that I use in a very loose rotation - like, whatever I'm in the mood for today.  Suave (usually Daily Clarifying), TRESeme, Aveda (Rosemary Mint or Shampure) (oh, how I love the aroma of Shampure), Sylvie L. Solid Shampoo. I use conditioner more in the winter than the summer, and only the tiniest little bit!

2.  Toothpaste.  Arm & Hammer - various formulations.

3.  Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Gel - crystal clear. I've been using this as my main facial moisturizer for quite a few years now. Once in a while, I'll add a layer of something else.

4.  Oro Gold 24K Gold Anti-Aging Eye Serum. I was totally sucked into purchasing this from a dashing and debonair Italian guy in a kiosk on the Miracle Mile in Las Vegas last May. On our first night. Yeah. I totally LOVE the stuff, though, and it reminds me of that fun trip with Sharon. My jug has nearly run dry, so...

5.  Instead of the Oro Gold, I've been using Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum.

6.  L'Oreal Paris True Match Naturale Mineral Foundation - basically, I use it as powder. I sometimes use Cover Girl and Olay Simply Ageless Foundation as foundation, but I hardly ever do the full foundation thing, so that's mostly used as a spot concealer.

7.  Estee Lauder Blush - never the same shade twice, though. Each compact lasts me so long that by the time I need to replenish, all the formulas and colors have changed!

8.  Maybelline Great Lash Mascara - but not Great BIG Lash! I recently tried that and, whoa, that brush was bigger than my entire eye!

9.  Eucerin Calming Creme - I've been using a sample of this and really like it, so when I saw a recent special at Walgreen's I nabbed a great big one! I also use a Lavishea lotion bar - I love using it when I'm knitting, and keep it handy.  When I crawl into bed each night, always some Larry's Bee Natural Organic Lavender Lotion that I picked up in Door County - it smells so good that I'll sometimes dab a bit on my nose, too.

10.  Secret Clinical Strength antiperspirant.

Interestingly, I have never been a regular user of lipstick - or lip gloss or lip balm or anything else for lips. I'll use it if I have to - and then it's usually just a swipe of regular old Vaseline - but otherwise, my lips are bare nekkid all the livelong day.

*I used to sneak into Mom's bathroom right before leaving for CCD classes to put on makeup! I'm sure the nuns were very impressed.


Rhymes with cheese, right? Hahaha. No. As my darling daughter pointed out with NO MERCY, no. Child, I am from WISCONSIN!! Well, she mostly is, too; but unlike me, she's been twice to Italy, has taken classes in Italian, and has recently been speaking Italian with a fellow at work.

So we're in my car on Saturday, on a bit of a yarn crawl to Green Bay and Manitowoc, and I'm telling her about Montparnasse -- the sweater with a French name that I'm making to wear to the U.K. -- and that the color is Pesto Genovese (rhymes with cheese), and so maybe because of that I should be taking my sweater to Italy, too. And I get the look. And then a little lesson.

And now I know that nearly every letter in an Italian word is pronounced: geno-VAY-zay! Okay!!

And, you know? This is good. Our kids are supposed to know more than we do!

It was a fun day on Saturday, and I really needed a day like that. The weather was cold but sunny, so pretty great for a wintry yarn-crawl road trip. We went to Patti's Yarn Shop and Monterey Yarn, both in Green Bay; while quite different in atmosphere, they're both nice shops and between them, you'll find just about anything you'd need. We found a little something at both. I didn't do any double-checking beforehand, so we learned the hard way that the shop in Manitowoc had closed last fall. We stumbled upon a little indoor market, instead, where I picked up a couple delicious loaves of bread, and then we found some lunch.

I made myself go to the last holiday party of the season on Saturday evening and had a great time with my photography group!

And on Sunday, of course, there was football. Green & Gold fever has been ramping up pretty good around here over the past couple of weeks, and I'm afraid that by the end of the next two weeks even I am going to be sick and tired of the Green Bay Packers...


Go Pack Go!

Ten on Tuesday: Let's Play!

Ten on Tuesday10 Favorite Games From Your Childhood

1. Pom Pom Pull Away. When I was heading into third grade my parents bought their first house in a brand new subdivision that was packed with kids. Man oh man, did we play the outdoor games -- every night 'til the street lights came on!!

2. Hide & Seek.

3. Tag -- all varieties!

4. Kickball -- a HUGE favorite in the neighborhood.

5. Marbles (at school). I recall being pretty good at marbles!

6. Truth or Dare. Heheh (when I was a little older). We'd hide out in the dirt piles of whatever new house was being built -- there was always a house under construction!

7. Monopoly. My dad took us on a trip around Lake Superior in a motorhome when I was about 12 and we were playing Monopoly constantly... while listening to a Gary Puckett & The Union Gap cassette (must have been the only one we had)! Indelible marks.

8. Scrabble. Particularly at the cottage, and often with Grandma.

9. Cards - Crazy 8s, Fish, and Old Maid were about the extent of it.

10. Yahtzee!


May you remain favored?

"This letter will definitely be amazing to you..."

Can spam be all that bad if it both amazes and makes you laugh? I didn't open it, but just this little bit of preview has been tickling my funny bone like nobody's business.

I've been doing some knitting here and there. This is me riffing on Parcheesi a bit, working on something more wearable -- I've mostly been "wearing" the blanket as a shawl -- hoping it'll work out as planned.

Meanwhile, I've started a sweater. Dubbed "My Going To The UK Sweater," it is a free pattern by Berroco called Montparnasse. I am using the specified yarn, Pure Merino Heather, in a color called Pesto Genovese. I envision this as a durable, go-with-anything, still somewhat stylish sweater to wear on planes, trains and automobiles while knocking about the U.K. I ripped out about 30 rows after taking this photo -- which I should have done when there were only 2, when I had the first inkling that those wonky few stitches weren't going to get better all by themselves. I carried on through a couple of football games (ahem, Go Pack Go!), finishing the back and getting a little start on the left front (the shorter of the two in this asymmetrical design).


Right out my bedroom window

Those lumps in the snow are deer! There are four (the possible fifth is actually a stump), but I think it was Christmas Day when we saw six and actually watched them bed down. I've always known that there were deer in the 'hood and I've even seen them before, but I've never seen them like this. That there are far fewer dogs around here, at the moment, especially loose ones, is one likely reason.

I had a Skype chat with Maddy -- safe in London -- yesterday and she's doing fine!!

Off she goes...

...into the wild blue yonder... over there.

The photo is from the last birthday; she'll be returning on her next! And we'll see her in between, of course, but still... It's a day filled to the tippy-top with a variety of emotions.

On a day like this, distraction is most welcome... like what's The Official Cookie of Mason-Dixon Knitting gonna be?  Go vote!!

Ready, set, fly!

All smiles!  Even Madeleine!!

...for one, anyway.  ; )

"There's something in my teeth? Really??"  There wasn't, but this just makes me laugh.

The lighting was not good at Red Lobster, and there was a neon light throwing weird color here and there, so photes were a fun challenge -- and, boy, fast-moving Kate's a blur in a number of photos!

Here are some of the faces we're more used to seeing from Madds -- with her sisters, above, and girlfriend, below.

Maddy will be wingin' her way to London tomorrow!  We had a bon voyage dinner last night, similar to one we had five years ago!  Wow.  In case you didn't already know it or forgot or something... time flies, peeps!!  Which means that, before you know it, I'll be wingin' it over the pond, too!

Ten on Tuesday: Organization

I'm organizing on a whole different plane these days.

The photographic retrospective is where my head's at lately. I had to send 10 of my best images from last year for inclusion in a group and I just had to narrow it down somehow, so limited my choices to "portrait" work -- and was surprised to see that there were 15 or so sessions to choose from!  Included in that number are my first engagement and wedding sessions, and a big project with a bunch of awesome middle school kids. Not shown are amazing cookies and other foodstuffs, flora and fauna, the flowage, family, a trip to Vegas with Sharon, an amazing Berkeley vacation, and some knitting.

There's some unfinished business up there. I have suffered from lack of organization, time and inspiration, as well as some serious flaws in confidence, but this... these photographs not only make me happy, they make me very proud. Get back.

Ten on Tuesday10 Ways to be More Organized

Right now, most of the time, it feels like I ain't got it. Sometimes it seems that I can barely organize a thought. Part of the problem is that there are truckloads of unavoidable distraction slamming in from the left and right. And, yet, while I wade through and make sense of my sister's affairs and start to deal with the family/business end-of-year/tax stuff, I am also helping to plan my first-ever really-far-from-home overseas vacation.

Yeah, I'll bet you want me on your vacation planning team!

Some (probably not 10) Random Thoughts on Organization

Time. I need more time to get/be organized. I realize that I'll have to take that time or make that time.

Space. I need to declutter and TRY to be more minimalistic in my aesthetic, less sentimental about my possessions.

Place. I don't have a place for everything -- I don't know what "everything" is! There's always something that isn't anything. It's so aggravating. (What do I do -- right then, when it comes in the mail so I'm not stacking or piling or handling it a million times -- with that newspaper clipping of a 2yo Katie cross-country skiing that my dad just returned to me?) (It's going to be piled up in the stack on my dining room table and handled a million times before I... don't know... probably give it to Katie.)

Planning. It helps to plan. I don't have any fancy electronics for that -- though I'd sure like some (iWant!) -- it's pencil and paper (notepad, calendar). I am not a hard-and-fast list person, but I have one started for tomorrow.

Flexibility. It's easier to deal with those trucks that way.

Random? Organization is a very left-brained thing and it seems that my right-brained self is showing more and more, so I need to keep an open mind and balance all that taxing logic with... something like vacation planning.

Time. Did I mention that? A month of Sundays would be good for starters.

Completely Random Thoughts NOT on Organization

For what it's worth... With Tramon Williams' end zone interception of a Michael Vick pass to seal the Packers' playoff victory in Philly, I thought, "That one's for Sharon and Gracie!" To borrow a phrase from Wayne Larrivee (the voice of Packers radio), "And there's your wildcard dagger!" (Really, you've just gotta hear him say it.)

Sharon's memorial cards that I designed with Mom arrived yesterday. The lab I used always encloses a card with the name of the person who packed the order and a sweet treat -- this time it was Andy packing it up and he tossed in a Tootsie-Pop. For what it's worth... Andy was my grandpa's name, and Lester was my other grandpa's name -- and Lester always had a box of Tootsie-Pops on the front seat of his delivery truck. Also, for what it's worth... Had the decision on the twins' names been mom's, Sharon and Karen would have been Andrea and Leslie -- named after their grandfathers, Andrew and Lester!

For what it's worth... I know!


Mosaic me


1. Finished!, 2. Not a shrug, 3. 'Round Grandma's neck, 4. Grandparents, 5. Teddy Slippers, 6. Diaper Cover, 7. Hundertwasser Baktus, 8. Fits like a dream, 9. Front, 10. Fiddlehead finito, 11. web-IMG_6133, 12. New

I remembered how to operate my camera and took a couple of pictures today!  I've been wanting to do a mosaic of my 2010 FOs.  There's not much, but I'm pleased -- especially with my kick-ass Parcheesi Blanket and Maddy's sweater.  She loves her sweater!  I couldn't ask for more.

Now, time to do some photo work... swatch for a new sweater (for me!)... watch some football!


Needing some reminders today of...

SUNSHINE (we have it today, but I'm longing for the warm, summertime variety)

LOVE (sisterly variety) (being tested mightily) (not by those pictured)

HAPPINESS (I know that I will be again) (some way) (some how)

...and what's most important in my life.

* * * * *

A week from TODAY we send Maddy off for a semester in London!  I can't believe it!!

I am enjoying my part in planning (Scotland!) the across-the-pond vacation (my first!) to visit while she's there.  I can't believe that I've found a place -- the first place I seriously looked at -- upon which we not only all agree, we all wholeheartedly and very enthusiastically agree, to the point of joshing about skipping Wales altogether so we could stay there longer.


We won't do that, though, because Tintern Abbey has been on My List ever since Katie visited.  Oh, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen!

* * * * *

There's so much more to write, but this is the part where the thoughts all jam up and then get mixed up with tears and snot and toast crumbs from lunch.

It's three weeks today -- they've been tough.

This is also the part where I need to remind myself that the best thing to do when I don't feel like blogging (photographing) is just to sign on and start writing (pick up the damn camera and blow off the dust already).

Is it too early to be packin' me bags?

And what shall I be packin' for an early spring vacation to England, Scotland, and Wales?

England! Scotland!! Wales!!! Oh my.

I can hardly believe it. We booked our flights this morning after Kate sent a breathless message on Facebook about fares -- and, of course, I had to call her up -- and, of course, over she came -- and we just ran with it.

Whew! We've been planning, watching, and saving ever since Maddy's decision to study a semester abroad... My First Passport arrived on my birthday... and now it's, like, FOR REAL!

This is good.

Happy New Year

Though the weather wrecked travel plans for some, we had a nice gathering last night for New Year's Eve and for remembering Sharon.  There was plenty of remembering through stories, photos, art, and music -- Van Morrison, k.d. lang, Annie Lennox, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss & Union Station.

We had a nice fire and fireworks, plenty of food and drink.  I made a big pot of Chili All Day, we had ham and cheese, crackers and breads, dips (mmm, Howling Wolf) and spreads, shrimp and sauce, and sweet stuff coming out of our ears.  To top it off, we had our first-ever Holiday Bake-off...

Just a fun little something that we decided to do this Christmas -- since many of us bake and some of us are competitive and we weren't exchanging gifts.  It was postponed to New Year's Eve, and it all happened quite late, and not everyone was into it, but there was judging and scoring and, oh my, it was SWEET!  There were four competitors: Rusty made pumpkin pies; Karen made three pastries from the same basic recipe, all Christmas-themed and all with different fillings; Ali made an amazingly decorated brownie "cake"; and I made La Bete Noire.  Guess who won!

Today, we start the new year.  I am looking forward to a good 2011 and plan to make some changes -- from the foundation up, so I bought some new underwear and "socks" today (as well as a coupla shirts and some PJs)!

Go Badgers!!