Previous month:
January 2014
Next month:
March 2014

So long, February

PicMonkey February Collage

Thank goodness I have hobbies and interests and family, not to mention a sense of humor, to keep me engaged and occupied during months like the one we've just had!

This morning, our below-zero Fahrenheit temperature landed us tied in the record book for the most number of below-zero Fahrenheit days in a winter. People. That's not the kind of record we're interested in even meeting, never mind beating.

* * * * *

So, arguably, the thing about a Best Picture Festival is that there's hardly a dud in the bunch... one might find reason to complain more about a movie that's not on the list than one that is! Sometimes a movie doesn't find it's place for a while, but it is what it is: 9 movies nominated for Best Picture at The Oscars!

Here are my nutshell reviews of the movies we saw last weekend:

I loved Nebraska -- Bruce Dern is amazing -- it is relevant and relatable; it could be called Wisconsin or Rhode Island. Some of the characters are over the top (okay, the shrew... I mean wife), but I think everyone can relate to that, too.

I enjoyed Captain Phillips a lot more than I thought I would... again, the actors/characters, and there was a lot of action! One of my fellow movie-goers got a little seasick, though (just a heads up for y'all).

I wasn't really looking forward to a 3D movie -- the only other 3D movie I've seen was Beauty and The Beast with the girls (meh, why mess with stuff like this?) -- but if you're going to see a movie in 3D, Gravity would be the one. The story is so-so/predictable, but the scenery... WOW! And, okay, Clooney.

And The Wolf of Wall Street. Leo just knows how to play those fellas, doesn't he? That was a wild, debauched ride. I didn't count, myself, but trust that whoever's job it was to count the f-bombs was accurate at 506!

Except for Nebraska, none of these were really on my To-See list. Tomorrow's Best Picture Festival line-up is the one I really look forward to:

  • Philomena
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Dallas Buyers Club

I'm so happy that I'll have seen them all by Sunday night -- The Oscars with Ellen!!  :)


Ten on Tuesday: I feel...

Ten on Tuesday:  "I feel..."

1.  I feel cold. Wisconsin, winter, blah blah blah; we're in record-breaking territory for below-zero temps, or something ridiculous like that, so BLAH!

2.  I feel pretty. Haha. Well, I don't actually feel pretty at this very moment, but that keeps popping into my head, and sometimes I do; this time:


3.  I feel satisfied, surprised, accomplished, and amazed that I've finished sewing my Alabama Chanin style top! (I may wear it tonight to book club and, if so, will see about getting a photo; if not, it will happen soon.)

4.  I feel so motivated to do more handsewing... I can hardly believe it. I've been gathering materials!

5.  I feel pleased that I didn't completely frog my Follow Your Arrow shawl, and even found some knitting mojo, picking it up again to do some work during Closing Ceremonies. Obviously, I veered completely off course with that project in terms of completing it during the Olympics!


6.  I feel so happy that I'm able to spend some regularly scheduled one-on-one Grandma time with Junah every week... sometimes I even let Grandpa hold him. Heh.

7.  I feel a little overwhelmed by things... and I'm glad I'm feeling it "a little" and will take steps to make sure I don't feel it "a lot."

8.  I feel as though I've let some balls* drop. Big time.

9.  I feel bad that I didn't write a single letter in February. Not even to my daughter who lives far, far away. I'm a terrible mother. (I do enjoy our weekly Skype chats, though, and I'm SO looking forward to visiting her in May.)

10.  I feel the sun!! Do you? Our bedroom faces south and on sunny days the solar gain is AMAZING. Usually, though, once the sun goes down the room cools right down, but lately it's stayed warm well past sundown. So even though I'm feeling cold (#1), I am well aware of (searching out) all of the signs of the coming warmth.



And the Oscar goes to...

We won't know until The Oscars are presented on Sunday, March 2nd, and I'll be better informed about the Best Picture nominees this year than ever!

I love awards shows, especially The Oscars, and I love movies! I've gone to a fair number of movies in the past year but, incredibly, not a single movie on the list of nominees for Best Picture!

This year, beginning tomorrow and continuing next Saturday, I'll be attending a Best Picture Film Festival at our local movie theater. I have never done anything like that before and I'm pretty excited.

I really have to get a simple knitting project on the needles because I don't know if my hands can be still for that long. I don't usually knit when I go to the movies, but don't usually see four (or five) at a time, either!

It sounds a little crazy.

Here's the line-up for tomorrow:

  • Nebraska
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity - 3D
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Next Saturday:

  • Philomena
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Dallas Buyers Club

It is a little crazy.


Current Obsessions

I took one look at my Instagram profile and, well, that pretty much says it all.


My grandson and Alabama Chanin, which sometimes intersect, a little bit of knitting, the occasional observation about the weather, and musing on getting the empty toilet paper roll into the wastebasket... a shot that, even after 27 years of practice from that specific Point A to B, I still miss most of the time.

I am closing in on the quilting and reverse applique of the Alabama Chanin-style top I'm making. I'll have to do some careful cutting of my pieces prior to sewing up, due to rushing in at the beginning and the more careful reading of the directions not happening until later. The whole concept of "slow" is going to be a work-in-progress... a practice, if you will. That's what this piece is all about, anyway, and I can't wait to... slowly... finish and make another. I've made large format copies of all the pattern pages in the books and I'm ready!

* * * * *

It was a great day off yesterday, beginning with my early morning Junah time. I took my mom to the lampshade shop later in the morning, and it was so nice to get out and actually go somewhere with her; a quick trip to Target with Ali after Junah's (approx.) 6-week check up; chiseling away at odd chores in between, making dinner, and then some sewing while catching up with the day's Olympic action... It's all pretty darn good.


11 lbs. 1 oz.!!


Ten on Tuesday: The Olympics

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Thoughts On The 2014 Winter Olympics

1.  In regard to any Olympics on NBC, I hope they never change the theme. I never tire of hearing it.

Bugler's Dream by Leo Arnaud

2. We don't have cable, so the only televised coverage at our house is on plain old over-the-airwaves NBC. I record everything and then FF through a lot of it. Sometimes I'm sorry that I'm not forced to sit through and learn all the ins and outs of, oh, let's say BIATHLON or LUGE.

3. I've been known to delete entire "afternoons" of competition. The Tivo only holds so much! And I only have so much time to watch. And while I may have some interest in one cross-country ski race, subsequent contests are far less riveting (and that may not even be proper use of the word); if I'm paying attention during the FFing, though, I'll stop and watch any finish in any sport.

3. I love love love Mary Carillo! I love her energy, her humor, her wonderful people/place/travel stories. I always stop FFing for those.

4. I'm a big sap. I love the athlete profiles and stories, clips from childhood, awkward stages. I stop for as many of them as I can, too. Athlete profiles have always been one of my favorites parts, even when I was a young girl. They are all regular people, except that they are not... they are extraordinary in their focus, dedication, and determination. Gee, wouldn't that be cool? I think I always wished that I might feel so driven... about anything.

5. Don't you love short-track speed skating!? Actually, almost all of the speed skating, and possibly because I'm from Wisconsin, having agonized and cheered every race with the likes of Dan Jansen, Eric Heiden, and Bonnie Blair.

6. I really enjoyed Tom Brokaw's "Space Race" piece. It re-awakened some feelings and memories that I'm still processing and about which I can feel quite emotional. When I watch the film of those old Apollo missions, I still feel the same excitement of LIFT-OFF that I felt as a 5th grader when our teacher would bring her portable TV to school for every launch so we could watch them live. (Never mind a TV in every classroom, there wasn't even a TV in the AV Room, land of mimeograph machines and filmstrip projectors!) I remember my parents waking us up to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I remember that we won; we beat the Russians to the moon! I remember knowing astronauts' names -- at least some of them -- they were heroes! A present-day astronaut was shown in that story and I was sad, almost embarrassed, that I didn't have a clue what his or any current astronaut's name was.

7. Also, because of that piece, I think I've fallen a little bit in love with Tom Stafford and Alexei Leonov. I find their friendship/relationship (more like family) incredibly heart-warming and so very full of hope for us all.

8. Alexei. Olga. Irina. Sergei. Ludmila. Ekaterina. The Olympic games of my childhood were every-4-year glimpses into another world! Russia, East Germany, were... Communist. Enormous. So very Mysterious! Sometimes I miss the tension and drama. Katarina Witt!

9. Figure skating is one of my favorite Winter Olympics "sports." For only about the third time since cutting the cord, I am missing cable for the live commentary of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, which I hear is among the best, and especially because while Tom Hammond and Scott Hamilton are okay in my book, I cannot stand Sandra Bezic and don't feel any chemistry there at all.

10. I love a little pomp & circumstance, and the spirit of the Opening & Closing Ceremonies -- very different from one another! My mother was a student of Russian history in the mid-'60s, and she even had the opportunity to go to Russia in the mid-'70s; I'll never forget her taking me to see Doctor Zhivago and the history lessons she whispered in my ear throughout the whole movie! I'm grateful, not only for the fond memory but also for the knowledge; I am certain that I knew more about Russia -- some recent history, at least -- than any of my classmates (or teachers) or friends, and I was interested, too. I thought they handled their less than popular history during the Opening quite well. It certainly wasn't an easy thing... and, to critics, wouldn't it be interesting to see how the U.S. handled some of the unsavory bits of their own history in a similar exercise.


So, I'm off to do some more of the sewing to which the knitting has succumbed. Photo of baby modeling Demne (one of my favorites)... because I can, and because BABY!



Friday night began with the stenciling of the Alabama Chanin style boatneck top that I'm making. I could not be happier with how it turned out! 

Thrilled with the stenciling but having to wait for it to dry, I took that good mood into the significant ripping of Follow Your Arrow. I didn't frog the whole thing, but went to about the mid-way point of Clue 1.


Maddy, my sister Karen, and nephew Daniel were all here for one reason or another so we invited Junah and his parents over, too, and had a little brunch on Saturday morning. My mom came over and we all played Pass The Baby!


Karen instigated a little after-brunch crafting hour and while they (Karen, Ali, Maddy) embossed some drinking glasses, I pulled out my boatneck and did some basting. Then I contemplated thread colors.


Right now...

In a nutshell.

WATCHING:  The Olympics...

READING:  The Paris Wife. I'm actually going to finish it on time for book club! It's like a miracle or something.

KNITTING TINKING:  Follow Your Arrow. I had a mishap with some extra stitches and the pattern's off in one part now. Blech.

LISTENING TO:  Rosanne Cash, among other things, but this a lot lately.

THINKING ABOUT:  Taxes... two returns down, two to go.

CELEBRATING:  Two finished tax returns!

PLANNING:  Scottish Highlands vacation.


ITCHING TO:  Sew. Stencil and sew and cut and maybe even do some beaded embellishment.

DRINKING:  Beer. Spotted Cow at the moment. Well, not at this very moment, unless you're reading at beer o'clock.

NEEDING TO:  Dust my house.

ORGANIZING:  A lot of the stuff I "downsized" out of the upstairs apartment.

INSPIRED BY:  Spoilers. I have taken a peek at the Follow Your Arrow FO spoilers and may change the tinking to an all-out frogging for a re-start.

DELIGHTED BY:  Room to grow!


Happy Valentine's Day!


Ten on Tuesday: I'm seeing red

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Things That Are Red


1.  My daughter Kate's red hair.


2. My daughter Ali's red hair.

2.a. My daughter Maddy's decidedly not-red hair. (It's not her fault that she doesn't have red hair, and I just can't leave her off of this list when the other two are on it!)


3. My grandson Junah's red hair. He doesn't really have red hair, either, but EVERYONE insists that they see red, so I decided today that, by popular demand, Junah's hair is red. Okay? Is everybody happy now??


4. The red Aviatrix that I made... from yarn that I dyed... one of my favorite hat patterns!


5. The red Puerperium that I made... from yarn that I dyed... a favorite newborn sweater pattern!

6. A red enamel bowl that I hardly ever use but have had since the beginning of time (or so it seems).

7. A set of red cotton napkins that are in heavy rotation in my kitchen.


8. Red, red, red tomatoes for Vicki's Roasted Tomato Sauce.


9. My bike -- a Carmine Red TREK FX. I can't wait for spring!


10. The red Saartje's bootees that I made.



There was a big hole, a big pile of dirt (and snow), and a big digger outside my front door when I left this morning -- same as when I got home on Friday night (no action over the weekend) -- and I'm hopeful that all will be taken care of when I get home tonight.

On Saturday, after 20 years of occupancy, I officially declared the upstairs apartment CLEANED.OUT! We are ready to welcome actual tenants again, which we will do in just a few days. If "downsizing" in my own home is any indication of what it's going to be like to someday completely move out... I'd better get started!


That's my Ravellenic knitting as of noon-ish today. I'm mid-way through the first row of the 3rd clue (a 12-row repeat), at the moment, and so far I've chosen to do clues B-B-B. I missed an instruction about changing colors in the last clue, but since I'm using two lots of the same color, I don't think it's going to be noticeable at all. I'd probably be ripping a big chunk if I was using two truly different colors. We'll see what happens! The last of the 5 clues was in my mailbox this morning, so I'm set to sail to the end.

Just take a look at how our fella is growing!!


One Week Old


Four Weeks Old

He looks like he's getting a bit more comfortable with life. Our babysitting date went very well on Friday night. I went to a local baby expo with Ali & Junah yesterday, with a little stop to see Great Grandma on the way home.


Workin' it

One day last weekend, walking into the house through the back door, I detected a little whiff of gas in the air. Later, I noticed that the gas company was working on a "gas thing" down the hill at the end of our road.

As I left for work on Tuesday morning, I noticed yellow flags and all kinds of paint lines in the snow in front of our house... immediately calling home and Rusty confirmed that the lines had been drawn in front of our house, the neighbors', and at the house across the street. They were unable to find a leak they were looking for, so had to move up the hill... and in front of my house.

When I returned on Tuesday, a hole had been dug and there was a small machine parked out front.

On Wednesday, there was a larger hole and a boring machine was brought in.



Well, actually, I snapped the photo this morning, but the scene is the same.

Everyday I come home and there's a bigger hole, a bigger pile of dirt, and a bigger piece of equipment (or two) in my front yard... not to mention a bigger chunk of my garden torn up. Bye-bye lovely brick walkway and Blue Angel Hostas, I'm really going to miss you!

Most people just have grass in the little terrace area between the sidewalk and the street, but I had a garden -- lots of hostas, astilbe, coral bells, a bunch of stuff that I didn't want, and plenty of weeds. It'll be interesting to see how it's all redistributed and what grows where.

If anything.


This in yesterday's mail was a bright spot! (As was Knit Night last night -- big group, new faces, lots of fun & gabbing.)

I took advantage of a recent Alabama Chanin promotion to purchase an all-over stencil (only one, and which one was an agonizing decision) (Angie's Fall), some thread, and color cards -- in preparation for next time, Charm Bundle(s). The stencil is still on the way and I can't wait! I have plans: a few more onesies, some tops for me (I have boatneck-on-the-brain), and eventually the Donna Karan coat from Natalie Chanin's Craftsy class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery.

In other news, Junah & I have our first official date tonight -- my first official babysitting gig while his daddy works and his mom enjoys a little girl time.


All wound up

...and ready to go! The official start time here in CST Wisconsin is 10:00 a.m., though I may be able to cast on earlier!.

Meanwhile, I've accepted Terry's invitation to join Team Doozer for the Ravellenic Winter Games 2014.


I haven't done any competitive team knitting in a while and, now that I've joined up, I'm really looking forward to it! I'm way way over on the laid-back side of it all, but I enjoy the energy and spirit of the games -- I hope it stays fun!

I had a great day off yesterday, beginning with a dentist appointment and ending with a relaxing massage, with a good dose of daughter & grandson in between.

The report at the dentist was that my gums (pockets) have either stayed the same or improved -- and that -- again, my friends -- is fabulous news. She asked if I'd made any changes to my dental routine and, well, the answer is still No. I admit that I'm sputtering a bit as I embark on my second Whole30, but whether I'm 100% true or not, the bottom line is that permanent changes to my diet were a result of the first, and those changes have made a significant difference in my overall health and well-being. Ya.hoo.

Ali & Junah finally made it to a breastfeeding support group and I met up with them afterwards. We went to lunch at Zuppas, one of my favorite places, and then made stops at the book store, the spice store, and a clothing store before heading home. Junah was a champ!

Massage was FABULOUS! Oh, my, I guess it had been a while... so much tension in my calves! It all felt great. (Thanks to Ali for the birthday gift certificate!)

No post these days is complete without grandson photos:


First wearing of the Garter Yoke Baby Cardi! One of my faves...


Topped with an Aviatrix, he's all ready to go... helping daddy & mommy figure out why her van wouldn't start yesterday!


Follow Your...


This is the yarn I'll be using for my Knitting During The Olympics 2014 project -- Ysolda's current mystery KAL, Follow Your Arrow. I'm intrigued by all the different variations possible, all completely dependent on the choices made... which arrow is followed.

It's Malabrigo Color 850-Archangel. Ysolda suggested fairly solid colorways -- and one of those hanks is definitely "fairly solid." The other is not too terribly crazy & out there with the color variations, and I think it'll be cool to knit them as two colors and just see how it turns out.

I'm also not knitting this completely blind. All but the last clue has been released and I admit to have taken a peek (or seven) at pics in the Ravelry spoiler thread all along. I haven't studied all the choices, so I don't know what it all means, but I do have some definite ideas about shape.

Casting on tomorrow at Knit Night!


My first selfie with grandson. #lovegrows

Ten on Tuesday: I Am

Ten on Tuesday:  I Am...

1.  I am conflicted on which way to go with this post, so it's probably going to be all over the place!


2.  In case you haven't heard, I am a grandmother! It's hard to believe he's 3 weeks old already!

3.  I am looking forward to my first babysitting gig.

4.  Not altogether happy with my current knitting project, I am considering casting on for Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL.

5.  I don't know if it's a thing anymore, but I am considering knitting it, start-to-finish, during the games that start later this week.

6.  If that doesn't get my knitting mojo going, I am not sure what will.

7.  I am still quite interested in handsewing & embellishing, and exploring more of the techniques of Alabama Chanin.

8.  In fact, I am anxiously awaiting delivery of some new materials for a couple of small projects I have in mind that will also make use of some old materials -- re-use and recycle, if you will. This could definitely mess up the knitting plans.

9.  I am at the beginning of another Whole30. There was a birthday celebration over the weekend and a big football game, which means cake & pizza around here, but I didn't over-indulge and was already prepping.


10.  That means that I am cooking! Over the weekend I made a pot of Chocolate Chili (rave reviews from everyone) (from Well Fed, one of my favorite cookbooks), an Italian Pork Roast (in the oven instead of slow-cooked) (to DIE for) and Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup (both from Well Fed 2) (yep, I'm a fan). I also roasted a spaghetti squash and a few whole sweet potatoes. And, finally, MAYO! I made homemade mayo only once before; I was in high school and had run across the recipe... and was so intrigued by the idea of a recipe for mayonnaise. Who knew you could make it yourself? I sure didn't. So, anyway, that's given us plenty of food to start the week. I had the last of the chili with a dollop of spaghetti squash, above, for lunch today. Yummm.


I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

--Helen Keller