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December 2011
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February 2012

They say it's your birthday

It was a weekend of food and family as we celebrated Mom's birthday! I ran around with Kate & Al in Saturday morning, shopping and picking up the ingredients for Chili All Day -- the best chili recipe ever.

After I roasted the beef, got the chili going on the stove and arranged for its care, I ran around with Annie to do some more shopping and, well, we treated ourselves pretty nicely for Mom's birthday... chair massages for both of us, new MAC blush for me, a new sweater for Ann. It was 6:00 by the time we were finished, so we had to hurry home for chili!!

Mack, infused with the sweetness of a 6-year-old boy, made it a point to come and tell me that he not only tried my chili, he ate it and he liked it!

The boys picked out a beautiful cheesecake birthday cake. It was frosted on the sides and had raspberry jam on the top. Mack sat next to Mom while she cut it... and helplessly watched it tip off the pedestal stand and land on the table right in front of him. He's pretty lucky it didn't land in his lap!

Not just sweet but smart, too, it took mere seconds for Mack to suggest that next time slices be taken from alternating sides to keep the stand balanced.

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Here it is, "reassembled," if you will, for Sunday brunch. The candles make it. It tasted just as good!

Today, it is not only my mother's birthday, but also their 27th wedding anniversary. They spent their honeymoon weekend in Door County with temperatures hovering around -25F; today, we're looking at near 50F! It's mostly sunny and quite lovely.

Happy Birthday, Mom! XO

Hundertwasser hexis, and hamsters


I am so happy to be knitting some Hundertwasser hexagons -- three full ones in the near-upper right, so far, another with just a scrappy bit. I have not yet tired of the hexis.

They are pictured here with some paint chips under consideration for the kitchen. It hasn't been painted since it was finished -- quite a few years ago! It's a very dark, velvety, maroon-y red right now, and I love it... it's just been quite a few years.

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Mack was arranging the hexagons today and asked me if I could make a sweater for "Topper," his new hamster.



And in other news...

  • Last Friday was our 27th wedding anniversary! (Can you believe it? I can't.) We celebrated by going out to a supper club that I pass by nearly everyday but have never been. The NY Times wrote about Wisconsin supper clubs a couple of months ago. They are everywhere and, yet, there are not as many as there used to be. We had a good time -- typical -- and that is to say that it was terrific!

  • On Saturday, I finally cleaned up and put away the rest of Christmas... though I noticed a couple of stray shepherds yesterday. There's always something...

  • I multi-tasked and dyed some yarn at the same time.

  • On Sunday morning I asked myself what I should do before getting into things and my answer was, "Go to the gym!" So I did.

  • As I was slowly pedaling, cooling down, watching all the counters reach their marks, I took more notice of what was going on around me and almost couldn't believe my eyes. There was an elderly lady going at a much more leisurely pace than I on one of the more recumbent-style bikes in front of me and, I swear on a stack of Opinionated Knitters, that she was knitting! I didn't want to startle her (she had headphones on), but that so made my day.

  • When I told Ali, her response was, "I want to do that, too!"

  • I swear.

  • I doubt I'd ever have created a "knitting department" at the coffee shop had the girls -- and especially Ali -- not fallen so hard this year down the rabbit hole that is knitting. It's just awesome.

  • Yarn was dyed on Sunday (my first with cash-mmm-ere).

  • Roasted Tomato Sauce was thawed to make lasagna -- enough to carry me through a few workday lunches, too.

  • I'm not sure what I did on Monday... recovered from the weekend, I guess.

  • It was my baby sister's birthday... AK-47!

  • Out of work early on Tuesday, and I hit the gym again!

  • I also went to see Beauty & The Beast in 3D with Katie and Ali. Maddy was supposed to come, but we had to go late and she was pooped. It was my first-ever 3D movie! It took a few minutes to get used to the glasses and all, but I'm glad I went. I'm sure it's been at least a decade since I watched it (on the VCR... heh), but I remembered every single word from the first. I think that movie was on a non-stop loop at our house for a while back in the day!

  • Wednesday morning was Chi Kung at the coffee shop. I ended up sitting and chatting with some of the ladies afterwards until 12:30 -- I had just enough time to run home and change my clothes before meeting Mom at the coffee shop, as planned, at 1:00!

  • Book club was on Wednesday night. I haven't actually read a book for club in quite a while, but the next one looks interesting to me... One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd. History, women, pioneers, the west... I'm a Little House girl... what's not to love?

  • It's on order and, meanwhile, I'm concentrating on magazine articles and other short reads. I am a pretty monogamous reader, so "can't" start another book right now.

  • It seems silly when I write that. Perhaps it's time to rattle the chains of some of these weird quirks (that I seem to notice more and more). They're not the boss of me!

  • I was out of work early yesterday, too, and hit the gym again!

  • I'm going to meet with a personal trainer a few times to see about adding other things to my workout. Weights or something.

  • And the knitting continues...

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  • Notes: I'm a "firm" knitter (I've loosened up, I think, so I won't say "tight") and only had to break into the third ball of yarn on the second-to-last row. I think that with one less short-row repeat, I could make this with two balls and no one would notice. As it is, though, I'm thinking there's enough yarn for some matching hand warmers!


Piece o' work

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  • Project: Hug Me Tight! (Hug Me Pullover, a free pattern by Coats & Clark)
  • Yarn: Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Washable Ewe; (3) balls total, (1)in each color: Green Apple, Dragonfly, and Earth
  • Needle: US 7
  • Start to Finish: December 27, 2011 - January 20, 2012
  • Mods: Many, beginning with the yarn. The pattern was written for a 10.5 needle and I used 7, so it was a much tighter gauge and math had to happen. I took good notes and wrote it up; if you're interested in what I did, shoot me an email {vknitorious (at) gmail (dot) com}.
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I substituted Washable Ewe for Alpaca Love, the specified yarn, and I love how it turned out. I don't think Washable Ewe had been introduced when the pattern was released, but it makes much more sense to have a kid sweater knit in washable yarn.

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You may recall that I washed all of the pieces of this sweater in the machine prior to blocking. This is the fourth item I've knit with Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation yarn and, I have to say, I'm a fan. The only one I haven't knit with yet is Alpaca Love, and that's soon to change.

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It's made by Red Heart, you know. (I know!!) I haven't knit with Red Heart since I was in high school! I love that they're making at least some yarn that is not only affordable but also real -- wool, alpaca, bamboo, cotton. I have carved out a corner at the coffee shop and have begun to carry -- and sell -- it and other selected commercial yarn, as well as some of my own -- along with a limited variety of needles, notions, books, and patterns! I've been thinking about doing it nonstop for months, have talked about it a little... and decided it was time to plug my nose and jump in. I can't be there all the time, so I'm not setting the world on fire, but I am having a lot of fun and I sure am keeping busy... carving out a niche, as well, I guess. At some point, I may sell some of my things online, but I'm not really set up for production dyeing and I still need the paycheck and benefits that comes with a full-time job, so we'll see. Meanwhile, find me on Facebook: Make.Do at kc&t.

Ideas will emerge.


First time for everything

I'm on a new schedule at work where I take off a couple of hours early a couple of days a week; the idea is to use that time to hit the gym and still get home before bedtime. Heh. I normally work a 10-hour day and, well, I figure I'm doing good most days if I have the energy to throw in a load of wash when I get home -- especially in this dark time of the year. I do much better in the energy department in the warmer, brighter months.

Yesterday, I made my first-ever playlist at for cycling; actually, it's my first-ever playlist .period.!

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It made for a most enjoyable 36 minutes! I am iDeprived, so I purchased all the MP3s from Amazon, stored them on the cloud, and downloaded them to my phone.

Wow, a pretty eclectic list, eh? That's how I RPM! I meant to do them in reverse order, but that's how they landed in my phone and I didn't take time to fiddle.

It was soooooo cold last night, but we had Knit Night at the coffee shop, anyway. I wasn't the only one to brave the cold and we ended up with a nice group. It's never the same group, and I love that! I worked on seaming the little striped sweater and I should get that finished today!

Happy Weekend!



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Yarn in snow. Dyeing was not to be yesterday, and I have some great new fiber I've been dying to play with! It'll be a priority for the weekend.

There was a fresh overnight dusting of snow and, baby, it's COLD outside! Windchill is at about -20F. Definitely not ponytail weather... so, guess my hairstyle today!? At least it's sunny, and I'm feeling the warmth of the sun. So great. The returning/lengthening light is beginning to be noticed, as well.

Yesterday was busy. Busy! I managed to slow down for an hour of Chi Kung in the morning...while it's sometimes difficult to completely quiet the mind and focus, I think there's benefit in simply being forced to slow down.

I hit the gym for the first time since signing up last week and biked for 8.5 miles. Registration opened on Monday for Door County's Ride For Nature, my new favorite early summer bike event, and I really want to do my first 50-mile ride, so getting in shape for biking is going to be my main focus. And now that I know my RPMs (I wasn't quite sure), I can work on a playlist at to keep it fun and keep me going. It's important to note that I'll only be listening to that playlist while on a stationary bike, when actually on the road I need my wits and all available senses!

Knitting out tonight.

Ten on Tuesday: Baby, Is It Cold Outside?

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things To Do Inside When It's Too Cold To Go Outside

It hasn't really, technically, been "too cold" to go outside this winter, but it's all relative -- sun, clouds, wind, precipitation (in any and all forms), and accumulation all play their part with temperature to determine the weather and whether it's "too cold."

I recall that during a week-long stretch of around -25F several years ago, it was too cold for the kids to go to school.

I remember stoking the woodstove to keep the house warm at -50F several years before that, and my dad phoning home while on a trip to +50F Oregon. Um, that's a big huge difference!!

Whatever the weather, it can change in a heartbeat. The secret is to Be Prepared. Luckily, we all have wool and we know how to use it!

1. Um... KNIT!

2. I like to knit, cuddled up in woolens, cuppa something hot nearby, catching up with the Netflix queue or DVR'd TV shows.

3. Visit the LYS. This may seem strange, but are you even "outside" if you're just going from the house to the warmed-up car, the car to the shop, and back again? It'll be so cozy and wonderful and, trust me, you will not be alone. Call first, though, just in case it was too cold for someone else!

4. Make some soup (see all of last week's entries) and maybe even bake some bread.

5. Clean the house. Or maybe just vacuum. Or dust. Or sit down and knit for a bit while you think about it and whether it's the right day. (I am only motivated to clean on the very brightest of sunny days.)

6. Tidy up your immediate workspace.

7. Organize/re-organize patterns and stash.

8. Plan your next big project, or finish your last big project.

9. SEW!

10. Frog a project...

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I spent a couple of hours on Friday night ripping apart the scrappy Log Cabin square (shown here below a Parcheesi square) and winding up little balls of yarn. I love it for what it led to (namely, Parcheesi), but I was just never quite THERE with it... I'd knit in some of the ends as I went along, but there were many more than I'd just never woven in... It's been years; there's a lot of good yarn in there; time to move on!

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There's some Hundertwasser at the center (so many great memories)! And cashmere -- the little ball-in-waiting is leftovers from the sweater and hat knit for Cara's baby shower! As I've been hexi-not-puffing along, much of it will undoubtedly become knitted hexigons. But who knows what might turn my head tomorrow.

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I love knitting with scraps and memories. That purple and green hexi at upper right is the original (failed) combo for my first Stripe Study shawl; the green and pink number below it is my Cerasifera; and the purple and pink one is made with the same yarn as Different Lines.



Here it is, possibly the cutest thing I've ever knit:

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I'll have to find someone to model them for me one of these days.


They're knit flat, sewn up and felted. I put them in a mesh laundry bag and threw them in a hot/cold cycle on my front-loader with some towels. I turned them inside-out and put them in the laundry bag again, and threw them in a warm/cold cycle along with some clothing. That was all it took to felt (as much as I wanted them to felt).


The ears were sewn on with some thread and, I have to tell you, I was really worried about the ears... they totally make the slippers and if they went wonky and weird, well, the whole project would be weird. I love how they turned out -- they're as good as I'd envisioned and hoped for! I think my ears are a little pointier than some, and one of them is actually a little shorter than the rest (because, as compulsive as I can be about counting, I can still get it wrong), but I figure that's how Mother Nature does it! Heh. I love how the one ear likes to cock to the side... listening.

What do you think? Pretty darn cute, eh?


What a difference a day makes

School was let out at noon here on Wednesday and the place was crawling with kids. Seriously, it was like the entire middle school walked up, en masse, to the coffee shop for lunch. I noticed one big group of kids spending the afternoon on a spread-out blanket on someone's driveway. I heard that people were actually golfing in the land of The Frozen Tundra!

Yep. Here's yesterday afternoon from the back door/deck of the coffee shop:


Bright spot


It's been pretty great not having to worry about snow and ice and shoveling -- as I walked up our back door yesterday, I realized that our shovels haven't even been brought out yet this year -- but the longer it goes, the more worrisome it becomes. I am not a farmer, but farming must be in my DNA (with a maiden name that means "flower," I suppose it could be -- "gardening," at least) because I worry about deep freezes without sufficient snow cover to insulate the soil.

And world peace. I worry about that, too.

Happy Winter!

P.S. Tune in tomorrow for possibly the cutest thing I've ever knit.

Possibly . Cutest . Thing . Evah !!

Did ya catch that?

For possibly the first time ever, I "wrote" a truly wordless "Wordless Wednesday" post yesterday. I had to type something, though, so there's a period at the end.

Wednesday was a busy day!

Chi Kung - week 2. Last week was a lot of intro; this week we learned some new practices and moved more.

I signed up at the local fitness center! Katie & Ali have been members for a few months.  There's a good promo going... and I need to get going!

I'd intended to at least take a walk on the treadmill, but the morning really got away from me for various reasons, so only had time to sign up before heading home to get ready -- and was only 5 minutes late for an early afternoon meeting!

I dyed some yarn that reminds me an awful lot of Blackwatch Plaid -- one of the prominent plaids of my childhood.

I felted some more knitting -- slippers again, but a different pattern. It took twice around in the front-loader this time (Duffers took three).

I set in the sleeves of the "Hug Me Tight" sweater and began seaming. It sure is cute!

Have I mentioned the movies? Everyone gets movie passes in their Christmas stockings, so the holidays and shortly thereafter are big for theater-going around here. I've seen "War Horse," "Sherlock Holmes," and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" since Christmas -- and those last two were just this week!


Ten on Tuesday: Soup's on!

Ten on Tuesday: 10+ Favorite Soups

1. Potato -- including all variations, such as Potato-Leek. I don't make it often, but I sure do love it.

2. Split Pea Chowder. My mom makes this using a recipe in the Picture Cookbook from LIFE Magazine, circa the year I was born. This is an orange, oversized cookbook that is integral to my childhood and development, as is The Torch Is Passed and a gigantic Michelangelo art book that was so heavy we always looked at it two-at-a-time. This soup calls for a tablespoon or two of whole peppercorns and, though not always successful, I've been dodging peppercorns in my soup ever since I can remember and can't imagine it any other way!

3. Chicken -- also including all variations, such as what we throw together using leftovers after roasting one (some better than others), and Chicken Dumpling Soup from a local restaurant called Mary's.

4. Chili All Day. I have praised this soup year after year, sometimes numerous times a year. Delish!

5. Beef Stew. This is another recipe from the LIFE cookbook. Also, Carole's Roast Beef Soup -- I love the flavor! And, because of Carole's Roast Beef Soup, I have roasted beef in the oven (rather than browning on the stove) for other recipes -- such as Beef Stew and Chili All Day.

6. Vegetable with or without ham, always with lots of cabbage, carrots, and celery; often with potatoes; sometimes with rutabaga.

7. Bean With Bacon -- Campbell's.

8. Tomato -- also Campbell's, though I've made homemade Cream of Tomato Soup and it is divine. I like to make mine with milk and it is best served with a grilled cheese sandwich (made with white bread, butter, and sliced, but not ever individually wrapped, processed American cheese).

9. Cream of... almost anything. When we were kids Mom used Cream of Mushroom soup... as soup. Most people have an "Ew" reaction to that, as they've always only ever used it as an ingredient. When I met my husband, he used Cream of Celery soup as... soup... and I had an "Ew" reaction, having never used it in any way, shape or form EVER. Well, I ate it. And it was good! And now my kids have grown up eating Cream of Celery soup, too! (No one around here was ever a fan of the 'shroom as much as me.) I've also made Cream of Spinach (shown above) and Cream of Asparagus soup from scratch -- and I should like to do that again this spring when it's in season again.

10. Quick Minestrone.* I have a recipe at home that's almost nothing but opening cans of beans and tomatoes and chicken broth, adding some spinach (frozen or otherwise), and some orzo (or other small pasta) -- it was always a great stand-by recipe for busy weeknights!

11. Cioppino -- or any fish soup, stew, chowder, or boil. A whole bunch of my favorite worlds collide right there -- I love to make it, and to eat it.

12. Turkey. You might think, Isn't this the same as chicken? But no, it is not the same. There's a recipe in an old Holiday Cooking magazine that started us on a (somewhat lapsed but not forgotten) tradition of making it with homemade noodles -- good ones can be found at the grocery, but homemade... Mmm.

*I just found this recipe in a post from December of '09, so thought I'd share again. 


16-oz. can cannellini beans
16 oz. can red kidney beans
16 oz. can seasoned-for-pasta tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. orzo
season to taste

Combine beans and tomatoes in a large pot. Add chicken broth, spinach, and orzo. Bring to a boil, stirring to break up spinach. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Makes about 10 cups of soup.

See? Couldn't be easier. You've never tasted a more delicious "homemade" soup that came from so many cans.

Have I mentioned...

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...that I've been HEXed?

That's the first. I've knit two more since -- one of them two-tone -- and will just keep knitting them as long as I can stand it. They're great for knit-night and for carrying-along. It's like knitting wool candies, and I'm seriously going to try and enjoy that candy more than any other kind.

I'm not stuffing them, so they're not hexiPUFFS, because my intention would be a blanket or something like that and I like the feel and weight of just the wool. Also because I don't have any fill and I didn't want to wait. Heh.


Duffers on the bed

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They are knit with yarns called "Hazelnut" and "Latte," which amuses me. I also amuse myself by calling them my "Downton Abbey Duffers," as I knit them while catching up with Season 1 in readiness for tonight's premiere of Season 2. They're fresh out of the washer and still wet. Details when they're dry.  ; )


Parcheesi on the bed

Today started out cloudy and gray and I didn't have much hope for better, and that's okay because I really had to put my head down and get some work done.

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Just before noon I went into our bedroom to get dressed and, as you can see, the sun was shining nicely. One of these sunny days, I'm going to spend the whole day in there. I just love that room when the sun shines. I've thought about moving our bedroom (again) to a different (the original) room and using this as a... I don't know, but a more useful everyday room. It's so nice and quiet in there, though, and sort of tucked away that it does work very well for a bedroom. One thing I love about my sort of remuddled old house is that there are so many chameleon rooms.


Setting the world on fire

The sky was just gorgeous late Wednesday afternoon as I ran an errand for Ali. Naturally, all I had with me was my phone... as amazing as this looks, it was even more beautiful in person.

I hope to finish up a few things (seaming and otherwise) and cross a few things off of the To-Do List in my head. Not to worry, there are plenty of other things rushing in waiting to fill in the empty spaces. I need to make some good progress or there's gonna be some panic happening and that's not good.

Happy weekend!


The thing about joining a photo-a-day group is that there are photos taken everyday! Some are better than others, of course.

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I pinned out a kid sweater yesterday morning before my first Chi Kung class. And took a couple of pictures.

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It's the (free pattern) Hug Me Pullover knit in Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Washable Ewe instead of the called-for Alpaca Love! The yarns are nearly the same weight and "washable" seemed to go better with "kid sweater." I couldn't stand the loose, "homemade" look at the original gauge, though, so fiddled with numbers and knit it at a much tighter gauge. It looks much better and more "handmade" than "homemade." Also, with the better yardage, I used only one ball of each stripe color and have a nice scrap of each.

The dreaded sewing up and seaming shall soon commence... and wouldn't it be nice if it set me on a little roll with that!


Knitting the sky

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It started out gray, but quickly brightened. Yay, sunny days!

I'm calling in Wisconsin [Modular] Sky... and I hope it works out as envisioned! One row (garter ridge) a day in a color that reflects the day's sky. It's wide open for interpretation and I have no problem buying or dyeing more yarn; I know I need a "white" yet, anyway, though snow has been scarce this year.

I'll know more in a few months... and will have to figure out how to mitre a corner again by then, too.

Because I'm kind of a dope -- and also sort of compulsive about counting and don't always remember things as I should and don't want to be counting increasing numbers of rows each day to determine whether I have or still need to knit a row that day -- I've tucked a little calendar into my work basket and will mark off the days...

All 366 of them.


Ten on Tuesday: To Do

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I Want To Do In 2012

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Random photo -- among the 2011's last -- from New Year's Eve!

1. Plan A Trip. At this time last year, I was in the throes of planning our trip to England, Scotland, and Wales. It was the first time a) I ever traveled overseas, b) planned a trip of such magnitude, c) to a place(s) I'd never been before, d) for so many adults (each with an opinion of their own). It -- the planning -- was so much fun!

2. Take A Trip. Not necessarily the above-planned. It doesn't have to be big or out of the country, but maybe to a part of the country I've never been. The Northeast? That's been talked about. Maybe through Canada? That's been talked about, too. Might be the ticket...

3. Move More. I'm beginning a 6-week session of Qigong (Chi Kung) tomorrow! It's held right upstairs from the coffee shop... and I'm taking Ali with me!

3. Bike More. I can't wait to do the Ride For Nature again this year! That was such a great event. I'm not quite up for a Century yet, but I should be able to pull off 50 -- and that's my goal. I didn't ride as much as I'd have liked last summer because of atrocious heat and humidity -- I am *so* a fair-weather rider, it's not even funny -- so let's hope for better this year. I will, no doubt, be doing the triathlon relay again in August with my sisters, too.

4. Lose it. Seriously. Twenty-five pounds would be a nice, reasonable, totally do-able start.

5. 366. I'm participating in Project 366 (2012) -- one of many year-long, photo-a-day groups at Flickr. This one is freestyle, which fits my style.

6. Simplify & Decrapify. This is an on-going, life-long, never-ending practice around here.

7. Sew/Quilt. I've had the pieces for a quilt cut out for months now. I need to configure my space and push the sewing machine pedal to the metal! For added inspiration, I've also signed up for Block Of The Month (it's free!) on Craftsy (where there's something for everyone!).

8. Finish Some UFOs. Must I go into gory details? Highland Tempest (seaming). Oblique (seaming). Habu for Me (seaming). Transverse (finding my place without a lifeline). The list goes on and on and on, all the way to Cromarty. Wait a sec... Cromarty was never even entered on my Ravelry project page! Heh.

9. Strive for Fulfillment, Happiness, Joy, Creativity. Colorfully working on that.

10. Be Bold.

Plant rescue

Yesterday's shopping took me to Goodwill to buy a calendar for work (the one I had in my hands and meant to the last time I was there), and to Target to make a return. While at Target, I spotted a few amaryllis trying to escape from their pots.

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The bulbs were just drawing on their own moisture reserves and the store's light and warmth. They're growing oddly and are sort of stunted, but we'll see what happens now that they're in potted and soaking up some natural light.

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The amaryllis is in good company in the Garden Room. The sun shined for a little while today. Brrrr, but it sure was cold outside!

Happy New Year

I've done a little bit of a bunch of stuff today:

  • Spent some time with my husband and girls
  • Watched a little football
  • Did a little shopping (which included a return)
  • Cleaned up some of the past
  • Planned out some of the future
  • Dreamed a little dream (or two) (recurring)

I did a fair bit of knitting, as well, especially while watching football.

I should have done some cooking to start the new year, but cleaning up leftovers seems to be just as good a way to start.

Begin as you mean to carry on... or something like that. It's been a pretty good day. I could carry on this way.

I just need to cast on the sky and then I'm headed to bed!

How about you? A good start to the year?