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March 2011
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May 2011

Color my world

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Full double rainbows & Trek bike, outside London (last day)

I've enjoyed Project Spectrum from the beginning... and always from afar. Never infected by the PS bug, myself, I've been content all these years to sit back and enjoy everyone else's Spectrum projects... until now. And oh boy!

Timing is everything, I guess, and this couldn't be better. No stranger to color in my knitting, there are aspects of Project Spectrum speaking to me on many different levels. The word "obsessed" comes to mind, as I've been thinking of almost nothing else since I read Lolly's post. I've been contemplating, planning, defining, and interpreting "Project Spectrum: The Basics" (and "project" and "spectrum" and "basics") to suit my needs (and capabilities and interests), contemplating how every little thing relates (or could relate).

The Basics.

I've been hashing out ideas and acquiring materials to help with my exploration; there will certainly be photography, dyeing, knitting, and cooking, and we'll just see what else happens. Stay tuned... better yet, join in!

May = Red

Ten on Tuesday: Groceries!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

1. Don't go.

2. Seriously. It hasn't always been this way, but lately DH has been doing most of the grocery shopping -- always with a list. Not that he's perfect; he can be impulsive and falls especially hard when pie is marketed at the front-door display, even though the ones he bakes are 100x better.

3. Ali makes regular runs to Sam's for supplies for her business and I'll have her pick up certain things for me, too.

4. I bought an eighth of grass-fed beef from a local farmer last year -- not only was it a million times better tasting, it was all right in my basement freezer.

5. My freezer is now empty, and I'm prepping my order for a quarter!

6. Stock the pantry and freezer with staples and oft-used items.

7. Though I haven't done it in ages, clipping coupons and combining them with sales and specials can save money; I don't take the paper anymore, so don't get the flyers. This was most helpful when I was in the era of diapers.

8. Buy "whole" food -- do the "processing" (trimming, peeling, cutting, slicing, cooking) yourself!

9. This year, finally, I've joined a CSA and I absolutely CANNOT wait (though wait, I must) for deliveries to begin in June!

10. Cook! Here's some help: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less!

The way I think about food -- and everything related to food (and I've been thinking about it a LOT) -- is changing and, honestly, some of those suggestions may not "save [money] at the grocery store" but will "save" in other ways.

It's a Big, Big Day!

Maddy returns from here semester abroad today -- on her 20th birthday!! There's a party at our house tonight!

Happy Birthday, Maddy!!

One of the only things that would have made our UK vacation better is if Maddy had been able to travel with us! We were very happy that she could spare some time to show us around London, though, and to meet us in Wales for the last leg of the trip. The photo above was taken at a small park in London. I love that Ali is in focus, but the focus is all on Maddy and that big smile!

* * * * *

Thus ends birthday season; see you next year. Haha.

Happiest of Days

Twenty-six years ago today I became a mother. It was one of the best days of my life!

Happy Birthday, Kate!!

All photos above from our bike ride around the Isle of Cumbrae. Oh, it was such a beautiful day!

Haha! Love these -- the girls made it a point to take lots of photos of each other! This was during a random roadside stop in the north of England on our way to Scotland.

On the shore near Portencross Castle. Special place.

And at Stirling Castle.

And in the beautiful Highlands. (Oh! I want to go back!!)

Random celebrity birthday fact: Jack Nicholson also born on this day. Not sure that impresses Katie much, but perhaps this will help. (Full disclosure: I've never actually seen this entire movie... a thing that I must change!)

And, finally, Happy Earth Day!!

Random Wednesday (with residual vacation)

1. With over 8" of fresh, heavy, wet snow (major thundersnow!) on the ground after yesterday storm, the photo above serves as a reminder of what will be.

2. There's still a light snow falling.


4. What I like right now: light, bright, color.

5. If I can talk someone into helping, I might finally start working a paintbrush with "light, bright, color" as the goal.

6. I'm not sure the color thing is working so well with Tempest. I've two sleeve/swatches to wash and block... and mull over... and then we'll see.

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7. A part of me really wants my "Highland Holiday" yarn to be its own special thing. The over-dyed green skeins are Ali's, the light red is Kate's, the magenta is mine. Kate wound her yarn on Sunday and is a good foot into the knitting of a new cowl.

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8. Room with a view... the ladies' room at Crannog Seafood Restaurant in Fort William. I didn't buy much on our trip -- a couple of books, some postcards, a souvenir keychain bottle opener (that came in handy!), some yarn -- but I did eat pretty well.

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9. Rusty's steamed seafood platter, Katie's salmon en croute, Ali's rib-eye, my seabass; it was very, very fine and a good time was had by all! We had a restful night and a great breakfast the next morning at the Alexandra Hotel before heading back to West Kilbride.


Ten on Tuesday: Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em

That's right, we're talking FAMILY!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I Love About My Family

1. This really shouldn't have been a hard topic for me.

2. As much as they drive me crazy sometimes, I love my family and I believe that they love me, too.

3. The ones that matter, anyway.

4. Unconditionally.

5. The rest can just fook off.

6. (I just returned from Great Britain!)

7. I believe I haven't quite reconciled the new family dynamic yet.

8. So it's harder than it should be. Harder than it would have been six months ago, a year ago, five years ago.

9. As much as they drove me crazy then, too.

10. I'll tell you what I do know, though, and love so much that my heart's near burstin'. I love that I just spent days upon days upon days with my husband and kids -- traveling in a strange (to most of us) land, no less, mostly in a small car and with too much (and too heavy) luggage, and even with some measure of sadness along the way. Overall, we were magnificently smiled upon. We had an epic vacation together and we didn't kill each other (or anyone) or even get into an argument -- barely even a heated discussion (about which route to take and whether to heed the Garmin or the old road atlas) (we couldn't have done it without both). I can't believe that it's been nearly a month since we departed. I am -- we are -- still on a vacation high, like nothing I've ever experienced before. Gobsmacked.


Across 24 Aprils



Alison (and Oswald) at Barnard Castle. It warmed my heart when I found out that Oswald was on vacation with us. (This girl is mine!)

Happy 24th Birthday, Ali Lou!!

Also Happy Birthday to my Aunt Arlene! And to Charlie Chaplin! (Take a look at Google's home page today.)

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With the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this month, I was reminded of reading Across Five Aprils. It's on my list to read again!

It's a whirlwind over here!

More accurately, on Sunday evening, it was a tornado. One minute we're storm-watching on the porch, the next minute -- sensing that it was *time* (pretty much just after we heard a big bang, all the lights went out, and stuff started hitting the windows) -- we're in the basement. We were only there for a moment, and when we came up we could see siding, shingles and insulation littering the yard, in the trees, all over the street. There was significant damage to over 100 homes -- two of them on my street, exactly one block away! I believe it's five homes that will need to be razed, and one of those is only another three-block walk. Power was out all night, finally restored at 6 a.m. There were lots of downed power lines, and many trees were lost. Luckily, there are barely buds yet, much less leaves, on the trees -- that would have made a drastic difference.

Hello! Scary!!

* * * * *

Meanwhile, one last (for now) batch of photos to share from our vacation. This was on Sunday, April 3rd -- Mothering Day! From the first day in London, I'd noticed advertising in shop windows and quickly realized that I'd get to celebrate Mother's Day twice this year!!

We drove from Betws-y-Coed back to London on Sunday, dodging rain and making a few stops along the way.

We stretched our legs on the grounds at Stokesay Castle in Shropshire.

And we did finally make it to Tintern Abbey, but with only five minutes before closing we weren't allowed entry. All of my photos were taken from this side of the gate. It never even occurred to me that it would be an "admission" sort of place. Too bad, because the weather had improved and the late-day light was just starting to get interesting!

*I* drove back to London -- well, to Wembley where we returned the car, just as departing traffic from a football event at the stadium was at its peak! We wrestled our bags onto the tube one last time to Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo Line. ("The Bakerloo Line" is one of those things I like to hear -- and say out loud -- repeatedly. Betws-y-Coed, Tal-y-bont, Bryn Celli Ddu are others.) We kissed Katie good-bye at 5 a.m. on Monday morning and loaded bags into a taxi for the trip to Heathrow!

* * * * *

It's been over a week since our return and I am still on a vacation high -- and absolutely cannot wait for next time! Kate returns this afternoon and has another week's worth of her own adventures to share -- including a day with Maddy before her departure on Saturday for the continent (Brussels until yesterday, Trier as of today; Strasbourg and Frankfurt yet to come) and standing in line for hours in the early morning to score a ticket for Frankenstein!!


Ten on Tuesday: Snack time!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Snacks

1. Chocolate; dark; -dipped, -dusted, -covered, -filled, -kissed, and/or -infused; solid, hollow, chips, chunks, shaved, flaked, drizzled.

2. Dry-roasted Peanuts, lightly salted.

3. Kettle chips.

4. Kettle corn.

5. Pretzels - Snyder's of Hanover.

6. Cereal - Cheerios, Wheat Chex, Frosted Mini Wheats.

7. Toast.

8. PB&J.

9. Banana.

10. Crackers - saltines with butter or peanut butter!


My life according to The Eurythmics

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me. Try it, you might like it! You can't use the band I used, and try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as "My life according to (band name)."


Are you a male or female:
"Who's That Girl?"

Describe yourself:
"I've Got A Life"

How do you feel:
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"

Describe where you currently live:
"This Is The House"

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
"This City Never Sleeps"

Your favorite form of transportation:
"The Walk"

Your best friend is:
"Right By Your Side"

You and your best friends are:
"Sisters Are Doin' it For Themselves"

Edited to add: What was I thinking, not posting at least one video?

What's the weather like:
"Here Comes The Rain Again"

Favorite time of day:
"When The Day Goes Down"

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:

What is life to you:
"The Miracle of Love"

Your relationship:
"The King and Queen of America"

Your fear:
"Peace Is Just a Word"

What is the best advice you have to give:
"No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)"

Thought for the Day:
"There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)"

How you would like to die:

Your soul's present condition:
"Brand New Day"

Your motto:
"I Saved The World Today"

Fun Sunday morning diversion... thanks Beadslut!

Tempest in a dye pot

So, I didn't really have a plan in mind when I was dyeing yarn in Scotland. As usual, the wool fumes scrambled my brain cells -- this time, with an assist from a visual riot of color (oh, the possibilites!), not to mention the enthusiasm of my girls about the whole thing.

They were thrilled to learn that I had not only two bags full of various blends of bare naked yarn, but also a selection of acid dyes at home -- have had for over 3 years -- all ready and waiting!

I've been thinking about my yarn a lot this week, though, and I'm thinking that it's going to be a Tempest. I have always loved Margene's, and while I don't have her tall and slim figure, I think that this is one horizontally striped sweater that could work on, and maybe even flatter, my... not so tall and slim figure!

I don't have enough of any other color to use for the alternate stripes. I've been wanting to stop at my LYS to see if anything popped out at me, but it hasn't happened yet. I do have JUST enough of the same type of bare naked yarn that I could dye -- but it's sort of a long shot that I'd get exactly what I wanted right off the bat.


The other day I had a brief Skype call with a soon-to-be house guest* and she commented right away about the Parcheesi blanket that I was wearing 'round my shoulders like a shawl. That's the way I use that blanket -- I wear it over my shoulders and I love the happy colors around my face!

I've had the crazy notion to give Tempest a Parcheesi-flavored spin! Those are mostly Parcheesi left-overs, pictured above, that I've "striped" with the four hanks of my one-off "Highland Holiday" colorway. (I didn't really see those colors in the Scottish Highlands, but we'd just returned from our trip-within-a-trip there and still feeling the effects.)

I've looked at all 760+/- Tempests on Ravelry (in various stages of completion), and have seen a few very colorful versions -- nothing quite like what I'm thinking, but nothing that's knocked the notion out of my head, either. I haven't quite worked it all out yet, and don't suppose that'll actually happen until knitting begins... What do you think? Am I still on a "Highland Holiday"? Gut reaction... Is this a crazy yarn-barf idea?

*House guest is bringing her in-progress Parcheesi quilt project!!

Isle of Anglesey

I'm sure I took a photo of the placard at this site. There were three horned sheep keeping the grass trimmed here. With all the grazing sheep, the entire UK countryside looks very neat and trim!

My girls at the beach!

On the path to Bryn Celli Ddu.



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Warm Hats Not Hot Heads - Update!

Way back in February, I talked about knitting and politics and the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project which hoped to promote and raise awareness of civility amongst our elected officials. I knit a hat for Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl and, in the spirit of civility, also for Congressman Reid Ribble. I'd hoped to personally hand-deliver the hats and my letter to their respective local offices, but my schedule never meshed with their office hours; however, I did manage to have Alison deliver them!

Upon returning from our vacation, I listened to a delightful message on my answering machine from Marlene at Senator Kohl’s office, telling me that the cap “is absolutely lovely” and that she didn’t know when she’d been “so touched - by your efforts and by the message in your letter.” She looked forward to sending it to Sen. Kohl and “wanted to call and thank you for your kindness. I know he’s going to appreciate it…”

I also had a couple of canned recorded messages from Reid Ribble’s office about his upcoming local appearances -- apparently, they just added my phone number to their database. I’ve had no personal response from him or his office.

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I would like to talk about knitting again sometime, but suppose I actually have to start knitting again in order to do so!



I don't know what I was expecting, but Wales blew me away with its beauty.

Actually, the photos above might still be Scotland, or maybe even England, but the rest in this post are definitely Wales!

We stayed a couple nights at The Lodge Hotel in Tal-y-bont, Conwy. I couldn't come up with it on the GPS -- thought it was actually in Conwy, for one thing. I phoned and the innkeeper gave me turn-by-turn directions through the amazing walled town of Conwy, right to the parking lot where he said he'd meet us out front -- where we found him waiting! The accommodations were as wonderful as the hospitality.

This is Betws-y-Coed, an adorable little village a few miles south of Tal-y-bont, where we stopped for coffee and whatnot on Saturday morning as we made our way to Anglesey. The sign out front of the white unit on the left read, "To Let." Oh, wouldn't that just be the perfect place to spend a summer?

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one... my girls dream even BIGGER! There was talk of buying and extended visits (and raising sheep)! This makes me happy. If nothing else is certain in the world today, uncertainty definitely is -- we're in the midst (on the brink) of enormous change -- and I'm happy that my girls have hopes and dreams -- and that they are big BIG dreams!

One thing I noticed about Wales was the activity. People DO things in Wales! Perhaps it was because of the weekend, but everywhere we looked there were cyclists, kayakers, hikers, campers, surfers. Let me tell you, to be a road cyclist in Wales -- anywhere in the UK -- takes some pretty serious dedication and absolute fearlessness; there's barely room for two cars on most roadways, not to mention lorries, and being a cyclist in the midst of that? Makes me shiver.

And, of course, there were plenty of sheep dotting the landscape.


St. Brigid

One of the many reasons we ended up at a B&B in West Kilbride is because the village is believed to have been named after Saint Brigid. 

Alison bore witness to some of my last-minute packing, in particular the decision to pack my St. Brigid sweater, despite its bulk and the taking up of MUCH precious luggage space. (Have I mentioned that I've learned valuable, indelible lessons about packing for an overseas trip?) I justified it, in part, because it did provide some nice padding for the laptop in my carry-on bag.

There was no way we were leaving town without a visit to the beautiful hillside cemetery in West Kilbride and a photo shoot. A far cry from what I pictured in my head (for one thing, I don't think I was wearing 7-day-old jeans in my head), it is what it is... me wearing my St. Brigid sweater and standing by a Celtic cross headstone in a Scottish cemetery in West Kilbride, Scotland!

Or West Kilbrreeedee.  ; )

And, yep, sheep -- you can see them in the photos both above and below... little white specs!


So beautiful.

I will need to go back someday.

We left there on Friday morning after breakfast. We needed to drive down and pick up Maddy at the train station in Conwy, Wales, by 6:30 that evening.

I'd had to tell Maddy the night before that her precious pup, Mickey, had died. Mickey had escaped the house a couple of days earlier, as sometimes happened in the 7 years she's been in our family, and, no doubt, she followed her nose, as beagles do... and she always did. We'd been much more diligent and this little trick was becoming rare. Usually she'd come back fat and happy; sometimes she'd have a little tummy ache; this time, she must have found something really, really bad. My heart aches for Maddy, and the house is just not the same without Mickey!

When Addy found out about Mickey, he said that she's with Remy, Bompa, and Sharon! Remy was Annie's dog that Addison never even met and Bompa was his grandpa who died when he wasn't even 18 months old! That sweet little boy with a wise old soul... he just feels things and tells it like it is!

RIP, Mickey. We miss you. XO

Little lambs eat ivy

Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. A kid'll eat ivy, too. Wouldn't you?

I can hear my mother singing that song!

Have I mentioned the sheep? Sheep are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. in the UK. Everywhere!

Lucky us, in late March, many of those sheep have a lamb or two or three at their side. OMG, the cute. They're skittish little things and it is extremely difficult to photograph a green hillside full of sheep or capture the extreme adorableness of little lambs -- the picture in your mind is likely better than anything on paper (or screen) -- and the real thing is simply indescribable. From the first to the last, we never tired of seeing them.

The additional pay off for trekking to Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey, Wales, were the lambs that had snuck under the fence and were running and jumping and playing on and around the mound!

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Home. Catching up.