Previous month:
July 2014
Next month:
September 2014

A 4-Day Weekend Upon Us... Me (Yes!)


I'll be at the Farmers' Market on Saturday (it's been a while ), followed by the start of the Fall Purge at home.

Or a trip to Stevens Point to help Maddy move.


I'm hoping to stencil some fabric! We've had a small air compressor for ages and I finally bought a little Badger Air-Brush 250-4 Mini Spray Gun Set to use with it. GADGETS, I love 'em! I've stenciled fabric for small projects using a pump spray bottle or a sponge, but that's not going to work for the bigger projects that have been waiting in the wings: the Alabama Chanin coat from Natalie's Craftsy class (Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery) and a DIY AC/DKNY dress! Once upon a time I thought that dress might be done in time to wear to a mid-August farm wedding; now I'll be happy to have a new dress for next summer! It's time to at least get the painting done.

And continuing with the Fall Purge.

Or a trip to Stevens Point to help Maddy move.


Happy Labor Day!

It would be really great to block my finished Follow Your Arrow shawl!

And one of these days, I'd also like to begin organizing my yarn stash; photographing it and getting it into Ravelry, or getting rid of it if I don't think I'll ever use it. Yep.

And continuing with the Fall Purge.


This might be a good day to assess the winter woolens situation.  :)

If it's a holiday weekend for you, I hope you have a great one! Don't worry, there will be plenty of relaxing, too.


On a Wednesday

I had the day off yesterday! It was as close to typical as I've seen in a long while, though "typical" is a very fluid thing and always subject to change. Two years ago, it was typical to at least get together for coffee with my mom, if not a full-blown lunch and/or day of adventure somewhere; a couple years before that, we were making weekly (at least) treks together to Jefferson to visit my sister.

I typically pay bills and take care of any banking needs on my day off, and was truly thrilled that it was the only thing that needed to be done yesterday with any urgency.


It's inevitable, but we're trying to stall the addition of another vehicle into the family for as long as possible. So, without a car at my disposal, I rode my freshly tuned-up bike to the bank instead!

Ali & I missed a charity ride in early June that we'd signed up for but, along with Kate & Ann, we're down for another in two weeks in Door County -- and I need to get a few laps in before then! The fall Peninsula Century is similar to the early summer Ride for Nature that we've done in the past (but without the simultaneous Door County Beer Festival) (oh, yeah, we will be back) and, well, you just can't go wrong with Door County in September. I haven't been up there yet this year and I can't wait!

I was pretty free to do as I wished for the rest of the day. I sat down at my computer and, well, you know how one thing leads to another? Facebook leads to Aboutlander (I don't have cable) leads to curiosity about Outlander knitting (there must be something on Ravelry!) (but I googled it first) leads to a website with a section about dyeing with Impatiens capensis (jewelweed, touch-me-knot) and I have a fine crop growing in the ravine! So, of course, I grabbed a scissors and a basket to harvest some of that and next thing you know there's a dye pot on the stove.

Dinner was already taken care of, thanks to Plated -- I still had to prep & cook, but everything was there and I didn't have to think about it -- so for the rest of the afternoon I prepped & dyed yarn, did a little bit of cleaning, and organized some photos -- both from our last ScanCafe order and for the next.


I've been working on an Alabama Chanin DIY Corset but before I continued with that last night, I had to do a repair on my Transformed Tee. A few weeks ago I noticed little hole in the rear hip area and knew exactly how I'd patch that! I've never been a big fan of "mending" before, but I believe that the "Alabama Chanin Experience" has changed me! I planned, cut, and sewed that entire top by hand; I love that top and love to wear it; how could I not fix it?!

Guess what I'm wearing today!

And I'll leave you with that.


My mother taught me everything

I knew I wanted to say something at my mother’s memorial celebration on Sunday. I had written, or started to write some things, but didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go or how to pull it together… until the early hours of that day... confirming, once again, that I work best under pressure.

I had to talk about the Mystery Shawl KAL and lifted quite a bit of my blog post for that. But I also pulled from another blog post I'd started -- a Ten on Tuesday post about what I'd learned from my mom. It was unfinished, sitting in drafts... I just couldn't do it in May... but it made a pretty good springboard.

I wore the amber earrings that Mom brought me from her student trip to Russia in 1974, she's borrowed them on occasion and she was wearing them in a few of the photos we displayed as a slide show.

Well, I just wanted to record this as best I could.


My mother taught me EVERYTHING, but mostly just how to do the best you can... to be your best, to pull off your best game no matter what.

My mother taught me so many things... about how to be strong, independent, and dignified; about how a woman pulls herself up and finds a way to support five kids because it's the only way she's going to survive.

I watched as she demonstrated how not to settle for what someone else might think is good enough, finding a way to earn her nursing degree while living on welfare and buying groceries with food stamps.

And always with immeasurable style. She had more style in her little finger than all of us put together and it showed in everything – in how she transformed and furnished her home, her yard and gardens, and especially in how she dressed. She could make it work whether it was from Nieman Marcus or Walmart.

She taught me little things, too. How to clean (that’s actually pretty huge in my mother’s world), how to iron and sew, how to knit…

Mom taught me to knit when I was in 1st grade to reiterate what she learned when our neighbor lady in Highland Park, Mrs. Hamel, taught Mom to knit and Mom taught Mrs. Hamel to sew. I don’t think I actually made anything, but I never completely forgot how to knit, and over the years I’d pick it up now and then – usually when I was lonely – when I moved up north in high school, when I moved to Oregon in the early 80s.

The last time I actually spoke with my mother, the Friday before she was transferred to ICU, we talked about my knitting. I’d just begun a “mystery knit-along” with some online friends and had brought it to work on while we visited. I explained how a mystery pattern works (and I’d be happy to explain it to anyone here who might be interested), and talked about how much fun it was to dye yarn again. I had no idea that it would be our last real conversation.

I was happy for the distraction that the knitting provided while Mom's condition fluctuated, and eventually declined, over those 19 days. It didn’t faze me a bit – I was even grateful – to tink back and re-knit many rows (14, I think) of Clue 2, stitch by stitch, to correct an error.

My knitting was something that I could fix.

Probably the most complicated lace pattern I've ever knit, it gave me something to concentrate on and think about that wasn't my mother, though of course I thought about my mother constantly.

I looked forward to knitting every night -- after work, after visiting the hospital, no matter how late it was – I had to take time. I enjoyed following along with my friends, reading about others' progress with the pattern, how they felt about their colors, how they were working out the transitions*, concerns over yardage and whether one had enough stitch markers in their possession. I spent time carefully highlighting my pattern clues, color coding the different sections so that it would be easier to keep my place; breaking it down… keeping control.

By the end of the month, I was on track and nearing the finish. Therapy knitting at its finest, I was really pretty astounded at my progress and gave a thankful nod to Mom & Sharon, my guardian knitting angels. Though her prowess in knitting never matched that of her sewing, Mom was knowledgeable and appreciative – and I knit many beautiful things for her over the years; my sister Sharon was neither steady nor prolific as a knitter, but she chose the most amazing projects and the quality of her work was incredible.

Shawl:  2014 TTL Mystery Shawl – Algiers.

Finally, as a mother…

This is the part where I had to wing it because I ran out of time… and this is the gist of it, I think.

Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d answer, “A mother.”

When I actually became a mother, I was stumped! We were between houses in Oregon and lived in a motel for the first week of Katie’s life, and I had to go to a phone booth when I needed to call my mom for advice. She was encouraging, but never had an answer for my questions, telling me that she just couldn’t remember… having five kids in six years, she just did whatever she had to do to get through each day!

Mom & Joe came out to Oregon when Katie was 6 weeks old and within minutes I was put at ease. “Oh, you can hold a baby like THAT??” And I was immediately reassured and relaxed into motherhood.

Our experiences as young mothers and as mothers of teens were quite different, but as the mother of adult children… a friend... I couldn’t have asked for better. We used to do so much together and had so much fun – she set a good example that I try to follow in my relationships with my three daughters.


Happiness is...


* * * * *

We picked up Kate and drove directly to our favorite Mexican restaurant for chimichangas, tacos, burritos, and 2-for-1 margaritas!


We'll all be running around today -- cars in for service, hair appointments, shopping, LUNCH! I can't remember the last time I spent a day like that with ALL of my girls. Probably not since they were little and I was in charge.

(Junebug's looking pretty gingery, no? There's a little hair growth happening.)


A mystery no more!

It hasn't been a mystery to anyone for a while, now, but it was when I started back in March of last year -- Romi's first Mystery Shawl!


I was certain, about a month ago, that I still had this project as a WIP -- with just a few border repeats left to go -- and was ready to make it an FO*. Imagine my surprise when I finally located it and found it completely finished -- ends woven in and everything! It needed only to be blocked!

Well, it sat around for a while again, but I needed to "accomplish something" last Sunday, so I gave it a soak and pinned it out.




It's big, gorgeous, and so very soft. I'll get a modeled shot soon...

One of my favorite models is winging her way home from Edinburgh! She is in Detroit, as we speak, waiting to board for the last leg. So excited for her to finally meet & squeeze the Junebug!!

*I made Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl an FO, instead! As is apparently my M.O. of late, it needs only to be blocked... stay tuned.



It's been a pretty emotional week. We've been preparing for my mother's memorial celebration for a while now, but now it's right around the corner and... it's looming large. We've been working on photos, music, etc., and I've been connecting -- reconnecting -- with many people, near, far & off the radar. Some folks have been in the periphery for almost my entire life but we never actually held a conversation or corresponded as adults.

The death of Robin Williams earlier this week was as shocking to me as, I'm sure, it was to you... and to your kids. My kids loved him for Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire as much as I did for Mork & Mindy, Good Morning, Vietnam, and all of those late-night talk show guest spots (and much more).

I've shared a couple of things that I've found meaningful relating to depression and mental health on social media, which has been bursting at the seams with that type of sharing over the past few days, not all of it good by any stretch. A friend asked about Robin, Why choose hopelessness? And I thought, Well, it wasn't really a choice! But the better answer came from another: He did not have the benefit of clarity. He didn't choose darkness; darkness chose him, and held him close.

And last night at knitting, I learned of Lauren Bacall's death.

Icons. Mesmerizing. Unforgettable.

Meanwhile, we're in the FINAL COUNTDOWN until Kate's return! Six more sleeps.

There's another baseball game on the docket tomorrow night, and another wedding this weekend!

Ups and downs, people. The circle of life. There's all kinds of it going on around here.

* * * * *

A little bit of silly fun helps to keep things in balance, and that's why I'm thrilled that it's Knitters' Hunk and Knitters' Chick time! Plus, eye candy. Nominations are OPEN! You have until Friday, August 15th, to submit your names HERE -- rules here -- up to three each.

These are mine:


Tom Hiddleston


Michael Fassbender



Tom Hardy


Mia Wasikowska


Annette Bening


Emma Stone

Who would you like to hang out with, or just have near, while you knit?  :)

And now... THINGS TO DO!!



Up for air


I took 6-month photos of Junebug last month in which there was a lot of drool. He's been drooling for a while now... lots and lots of drool, and tooth talk for months... and FINALLY, over the weekend, he's cut his first two teeth!


We're all very happy about it! Hehehe. (It's everyone's favorite photo!) He's crying because he's had ENOUGH of Grandma and her camera. Except for the drool and the need to chew on everything, you'd never have known that he was teething.


I went to my first-ever baseball game at Miller Park on Friday to celebrate Addy's 7th birthday -- it was his first big game, too!


The Brewers played the Dodgers and won -- it was a great game and a good time was had by all!!

That's all I've time for now... back soon, I hope. (Not wishing my life away, but c'mon September... I'll be happy to see you.)


Farm to Table

I've been saying "yes" to almost every good thing that comes my way this summer, so when my friend Ann invited me to a dinner at her CSA farm... well YEAH! This type of event has been on my bucket list for a while.


On my 57th Happy Day, I took one of "grandma's dishes" to Park Ridge Organics to share a fabulous farm-to-table meal prepared by Jill Chisholm of Paddock Club in Elkhart Lake.


Due to unsettled weather, our dinner was served in the barn. It cleared up from time to time, but also poured buckets, so the decision to move indoors was sound! And it was so cozy and cute.


The event began with a social hour, featuring a lovely nectarine sangria or fresh lemonade and appetizers. Oh yum.


I mostly ate my food instead of photographing it, so I'll have to use my words.

My favorite appetizer was a pea pod with a lovely mixture of small-dice cooked beets, fresh basil & fresh mozzarella spooned onto one end (above). It looked as if the pea pod had been used as a scoop. Very neat to eat, and so tasty! I think goat cheese would be fun to try sometime -- I love goat cheese with beets.

Another fave was heirloom grape tomatoes -- every single one cut on the bottom so it would sit flat on the plate, seeds and pulped scooped out -- filled with a mixture of small-dice green beans, preserved lemon, parmesan cheese, parsley and dill, and drizzled with olive oil. It was such a pretty plate with all the colorful varieties!

The hot appetizer was a mushroom cap stuffed with tasso smoked pork shoulder, okra, cabbage, and celery, with creole seasoning. Delicious!


I've driven by Park Ridge Organics many times on my way home from points south; it's located on my favorite side of the lake -- the side less traveled. I live at the north end of Lake Winnebago and if traveling from points south, until I'm through Fond du Lac at the bottom of the lake, I have options -- continue racing up US Hwy 41 on the west side of the lake, or take a right for a more leisurely drive up the east side. It's 2-lane state highways that mosey through small towns, picturesque farmland, the Bible Belt of Wisconsin, and offers some of the most beautiful views of the lake.




The 3-course meal was simply spectacular. For several days afterward, it was the standard by which I seriously judged every morsel that dared come near my lips, lest my tastebuds and the memory of that wonderful meal be sullied. Hello, FOOD.SNOB.

We began with a salad - green beans, romaine lettuce, pickled walla walla onion, cherry tomato, Sartori BelliVitano Gold cheese, dressed with a macadamia nut-dill vinaigrette.

The beverage pairing was a choice of 3 Sheeps Cirque du Wit wheat ale or Guild White Wine (there was a local connection, but I don't remember what it was). I chose the ale.


The entree was fresh grilled pork loin and lemon-braised pork shoulder from Golden Bear Farm, served with snow peas and pickled kohlrabi, caramelized green and purple kale with carrot, celery and walla walla onion, and deer creek cheddar grits.

Um. We pretty much licked (in a manner of speaking) all of the service plates clean!

The beverage choice was 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides I.P.A. or Guild Red Wine; again, I chose the beer.


The final course was dessert. Oh my.


Brachetto cherries and Berry Dairy black & red raspberries served with oatmeal crumble, and topped with celery and lemon balm ice cream.

Um. Yes, you read that right:  CELERY ICE CREAM! It was so fabulously different and delicious. I loved it.



And then it was time to drive home.

They have a 5-course farm dinner coming up next month... I've been invited and am so tempted, but not sure it'll work out.


But someday I shall return!

And someday, somewhere, I shall also be Outstanding In the Field.


Thirty-one more of #100happydays

That's 61 so far!


1. 2-for-1 Margaritas on Tuesday!, 2. Almost back on track. #ttlmysteryshawl14, 3. Such a flippin' pretty morning..., 4. #100happydays, 5. Happy Days, 6. Llama card, par avion, Royal Mail, 7. Happy Days, 8. Great day to be a sky watcher..., 9. Happy Days, 10. Lovin' these drama queen petunias in the barrels at work, 11. Gramma's babysitting, 12. Market Watch, 13. My first pedi of the season, 14. I was a little early for the #polarvortexinjuly, 15. Happy Days, 16. Happy Days, 17. Happy Days, 18. Beautiful sunset at the end of a really fun day of getting our tourist on, 19. Lovely day for a beach wedding, 20. At the day-after-the-wedding Beach BBQ, 21. Caramelized figs on honey mascarpone, 22. Earlybirds at LAX, 23. I brought a little of LA home with me, 24. Ice Cream date, 25. Grass is growing nicely, 26. Happy Days, 27. Farm dinner, 28. Hex, 29. I also love the weather, 30. Cherishing this sweet babe at this sweet moment31. Knit night!