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March 2020
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May 2020

Shrinky Dinks

Once upon a time, the kids & I made Shrinky Dinks. Remember those??


They were in a Toy Story mood, but there was also a purple My Little Pony (Ginny) and a pretty cool key (Junah). Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of their projects, but we sure had a blast!

Ali supplied the sheets we used:


Afterwards, I ordered more for future, including some with patterned sheets, which might work well for the kids in a free-form way.

I couldn't resist doing a couple myself, and used designs from the Anni Albers book I'd purchased at Black Mountain College Museum when Kate and I visited Asheville in February.


It's been decades since I made a Shrinky Dink, and there was a bit of a learning curve. That's what came out of the oven, and I learned two things: 1) an insulated pan might not have been the best choice, and 2) whether insulated or not, preheating the pan is probably a good idea.

I have to admit that I sort of loved them all curly like that, but I stuck them back in the oven...


I was able to flatten out the bigger piece (1-7/8″ x 2-1/4″), but the smaller one wouldn't come apart!

It was really fun!!



Our "nature break" this week was going to be at the local nature center that's "right in our own backyard," but instead it turned out to be -- literally -- IN OUR OWN BACKYARD.


Garden clean-up underway! Truthfully, it was mostly Kate and a little Rusty, with observation by me. It doesn't look like much, but there was a lot of cleaning out. Soon, we'll get some mulch for the path and a few more plants.

I'll also be picking up herb & tomato plants from my CSA  in just about 3 weeks! (I'd better start getting ready.)

I had a few more packets of the stuff, so did a little more Kool-Aid dyeing -- also with a couple new ones that I snagged on our last trip to the store -- and just found a couple more that I'd stashed a long time ago. But I think I'm pretty good with what I've dyed so far. I need to spread everything out and double-check all my colors.


I joined Mary's Sunday Knitters Zoom Meet-up yesterday and someone sounded the alarm about Kool-Aid dye and colorfastness! After a little research, my method was good/recommended, but as an extra precaution I'm going to pop it all back into a hot citric acid or vinegar bath.


I finally put stitch markers in to mark the repeats in Romi's Mystery Shawl and, as you might expect, it really helps!! I still have a ways to go before I begin the most recent clue... but I keep plugging away.


I'm also plugging away at my "practice piece" for Safe At Home. It looks a little scary! A lot of those ends are already woven in and just awaiting trimming -- or maybe just a quick run back in the other direction first. I need to knit roofs and skies, and then a border... and then a back (or maybe that could be fabric). I'm thinking rectangular/bolster pillow... and I'm thinking of one for each of my homies. Heh.


HBD 2020

Madeleine's 29th birthday is today! Kate was 35 on Wednesday! Ali hit 33 last Thursday!


And, with that, Birthday Season has concluded!*

I don't think I've mentioned that Maddy has written a blog post -- possibly a one-off, but maybe there will be more? Basically, in a nutshell, life has turned upside-down down-under just as it has everywhere else. Maddy & Viv thought they'd be working/living in Western Australia for a while, but will be turning around and heading back to New South Wales (today, I believe), to hunker down and, after quarantine, work on Viv's parents' farm. She'd begun to plan on coming home in November for a visit, around my birthday more or less, but that's pretty unlikely now. I really don't know when I'll hug her next. Thank god for all the different ways that we can connect these days.

Alison is hanging in there at the coffee shop, reduced schedule/hours, limited menu, and basically a one-woman show! Online ordering, for the most part, touch-free pick up or curbside delivery are allowing her to hang in there. I think Kate & I are going to basically be "volunteers" on Saturdays. We were up there today and it was fun, plus we get to hang out! But she's probably going to have to call at least one of her employees back -- if they're willing -- for weekdays. It's a very tricky situation on many levels right now...

Kate's been hunkered down here, after her trip to Scotland was cut short last month. She's finished painting the Airbnb and we're slowly getting the decor updated and the whole thing put back together. I actually had two inquiries last week, but, alas, neither of them resulted in a booking. She's also been beading earrings like a madwoman and opened an Etsy shop: Glass Brick Beadwork. You can also check out @glassbrickbeadwork on IG.

A few have inquired about Ann, and things are proceeding there, albeit with a hiccup or two. They still plan to move to Peru this summer (they've just rented a house and I had a little video tour)! (I can't wait to visit!) They've been on lock-down in Spain for five weeks now? I think? Restrictions are slowly beginning to ease. I won't see any of them this year unless I'm able to travel there this fall (and not be in quarantine the entire time) or they return for Christmas, as originally planned (and also aren't in quarantine the entire time). The boys won't be coming here this summer, as camp has been canceled and everything's been thrown off -- they'll just all travel to Peru together -- and that means a postponed Auntie Camp! Maybe we can have a holiday edition.

*(Ha. At least for a week -- another month, anyway -- when Ginny turns 4!) (Yes, FOUR!)


The week that got away

I've been doing a lot of putzing this week and wish I had some real thing or accomplishment to show for it... lots of little stuff. I bounce around here from one thing to another like a pinball, and it seems like it's GAME OVER awfully quick everyday.


It doesn't help that it's been chilly, windy and gray for most of the week. It looks like the sun might break through a bit later today, and shine/warm up for the weekend, but next week looks pretty gray and drippy. Ugh. /gripe

Yesterday, I finished cleaning out a small chest that I had in the living room which we decided to move up to the apartment. It was full of random -- and some very aged -- knitting & related stuff, including a small sandwich bag full of Kool-Aid packets and a print-out from Knitty (Fall 2002!) about dyeing yarn with the stuff.

I'm still pulling together my yarn palette for the Safe At Home blanket and thought that a couple of those Kool-Aid colors might be just right. Obviously, I'd planned to, but never actually dyed with Kool-Aid before and, welp, it just couldn't be easier. Dissolve the powder in water, add yarn and heat for a while, let cool, rinse & let dry.


I used Berry Blue, Lemonade, Lemon Ice, and Orange. I used two packets of each, except for the Lemon Ice which was not really any color at all... I had dissolved one packet of it and just added it to the Berry Blue pot. (I didn't want to waste it? I dunno...)


Anyway, there it is just after adding the yarn. The color is soaked up fairly quickly, and... FRUITY!

I went down this morning to finish up and, well, these colors are not too bad. This is spun-dry and might lighten up a tad when fully dry.


I'm especially taken with that pale "Lemonade" yellow.


Meanwhile, I just couldn't wait to get a feel for knitting that blanket, and decided to give it a go with the Briar Rose Fourth of July Nightshift Kit. Intarsia is not something I do very often, but this isn't too bad! I'm thinking I have enough of this yarn (and variety of colors) that I can make a pillow cover.

I hope y'all had a good week!


Making & Improving Things

Some random stuff going on over here:


Kate has finished repainting the bedrooms upstairs. I love the sunshine streaming into this room (which used to be our bedroom when we occupied the entire house)! It's also more than a little depressing, as an Airbnb Superhost who really relished the role, to see nothing but cancellations and uncertainty in the future. Weddings, reunions, and conferences have been canceled, postponed, or are happening via other methods. Not to mention the impact on our income. Blah. I try not to languish there and look ahead, instead. We're doing a re-do of decor and then I'll update photos and the listing... we'll be ready, come what may.


Kate also helped me make some vegetable dumplings! Yum. She helped make dumplings in December when Maddy, Viv, Katy & Cito were here -- MK&C having just visited Japan -- but I didn't get in on the actual making then. It was fun!


I got new tires on my car -- new front brakes and an oil change, too! Pretty mundane, but I'm very happy about it all (especially the tires -- that was way overdue).


Rusty's been doing some repairs to the plaster-and-lathe ceiling in the laundry room. That's also a chore that's way overdue -- WAY WAY WAY OVERDUE! We got a good deal on some new laminate flooring at Restore just around Christmas -- the current floor in here is just painted particle board, and it's deteriorating -- but I proposed that we had to start at the top. I'd really love a complete re-do in this room, and we've pondered major renovation, too, but I think we'll just stick with ceiling & floor right now. And a little re-arranging (likely some purging) of some of the stuff in there. Out of necessity, due to previous owners being inattentive to their dog, that was the first room in the house that got any serious attention -- paint, wallpaper (which we found in the basement), and floor -- that was 33 years ago! (Hm. Not bad mileage for a much-used painted particle board floor, I guess!)


In addition to knitting and stitching, I did a little sewing for Malina & Gin... these are Baby Raleigh tops from Little Lizard King (a free pattern, available in two size ranges). The main fabric is vintage from a friend's stash (and lining is vintage muslin -- maybe old curtains -- from mine) and I just couldn't be happier with them. And, yes! I've downloaded the adult-size cross-back apron pattern that Kym linked to today!!


3TT: Three Recipes

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

I think we're all cooking a bit more, whether we want to or not. Here are three recipes that are high on the rotation list and that we really love... maybe you will, too! There's a little bit more involved than just opening cans (oh, that is a really great reward for opening cans!), but not much!

(inspo: videojug)

Special note: Thaw puff pastry according to package directions, usually about 40 minutes
Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Oven temp: Preheat to 400°

1.25-1.5 lbs. steak, diced (I used sirloin)
1 c. flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
6 T. vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled & chopped
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 T. tomato puree (or paste. I didn't have either, so used a squirt of ketchup)
3/4 c. beef stock (or bouillon)
salt & pepper
1 pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Sprinkle the seasoned flour over the meat and mix in well. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef and onions. Stir well until meat is browned, about 5 minutes.

When meat is browned, add tomato puree/paste/ketchup and stock. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well, cover, and turn down heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley. Pour into an ovenproof dish and spread evenly. Unroll the pastry and lay it over the dish, pushing down the edges with your fingers. Cut away excess, if necessary. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot!


I had a really good seal, apparently, and it came out of the oven looking a little bit like a roast turkey! Ha! It settled down after a few minutes... and it was delicious!

You can watch this in a video lesson here:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Tacos
with Creamy Slaw & Crispy Shallots
(inspo: Plated)

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Oven temp: Preheat to 425°

1 lime, halved & juiced
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4" slices (I recommend using more)
1/8 oz. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 scallions, trimmed & thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 T. olive oil
6 corn tortillas (or flour, if you prefer)
3 T. mayonnaise
3 T. sour cream
Slaw mix: 1-1/2 c. each shredded cabbage & shredded carrots (or whatever comes in the bag)
3 T. canola oil

Toss mushroom slices with coriander, cumin, paprika and olive oil, along with 3/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in oven until lightly browned and tender, 15 minutes.

Warm the tortillas. (Wrap in foil and put in oven, or however you prefer).

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Add the slaw mix and scallions; toss to coat.

Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallots in a single layer and fry without moving until crisp on the bottom, about 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking until crisp all over, about 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to remove shallots to a paper towel-lined plate.

To serve, top the tortillas with the roasted mushrooms, add the slaw, and top with crispy shallots.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Italian Spinach and Tortellini Soup
(inspo: Weight Watchers)

Special note: A one-bowl meal!
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 (or more) zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (if desired)
45 oz. reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or broth of choice)
1 or 2 14-1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
1/2 c. water
1 9-oz. pkg. cheese tortellini (or more, if you like!)
4 c. loosely packed baby spinach, chopped if you like (I usually use a lot more)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese (or similar)

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften (about 3 minutes). Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and seasonings, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in broth, tomatoes, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the tortellini and cook according to package directions. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted (about 1 minute). Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with the basil and cheese.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I'd love to hear what you think if you make any of these! Bon appetit!


Unraveled Wednesday: Taking it literally

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading... and doing. And there's big news! As usual, I've buried the lead, so see if you can find it. Heh.


Um, yeah... so this happened:


I was so close to finishing the first of two repeats of this section and dropped a couple of stitches. Perhaps I'd have had better luck fixing it if it was one of those patterns where you just "purled back" on the WS row, but stitches are manipulated on both sides and there are increases besides.


I must have slightly more than zero patience, having even attempted to fix it, but that's it. While Annie & I had a video chat the other day, I ripped back to a certain point and re-wound the yarn. I'll be getting back to that shortly.

In other knitting news, I've bound off my Nightshift shawl and wove in all the ends.


I meant to give that a soak today, but didn't quite get around to it. I'm not crazy about the width-to-depth ratio and hope that it will improve a bit with the wash. I am absolutely in love with the concept/stitch patterning and the yarn/colors, though. It's simply stunning in person.

Also in the realm of knitting, I'm thinking of knitting a blanket. I've been thinking about it for a while now, and originally thought that perhaps I'd knit another bigger Parcheesi (I've always wanted to), but then I saw the Safe at Home Blanket by Margaret Holzmann, and I think that's going to be the one. I think that it'll be the perfect thing to wrap a new grandchild in come September... all kinds of things will be knit into that!

It's Ali who is expecting. She sent a video of the kids a while back where they announced that they're having a new sibling... or "swibbelling," as Ginny put it.

SEWING (sort of)


I had thought that perhaps I'd finish this quilt for the baby... and who knows what'll happen between now & September... maybe I'll have a CHOICE! I laundered it last week and hung it on the line for a second so I could take a photo.

I have an IG friend in São Paulo who wanted to see some close-ups, so I obliged with 10 -- if you'd like to take a look. I am looking forward to giving this a good press and determining whether the fabric I have in mind for backing will actually "go." If not, I'll have to go shopping!

I've been working on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket.


It's taking a while to get my mojo going... but I'm plugging away.


As in I actually did some today.


I'm trying to match -- or come close -- to some yarn that I dyed a while back, at the request of a customer. We'll see. (I'm a terrible note-taker and record-keeper.) It felt good to get down there and clean things up a bit, though!


Same as last week.  ;)


Sk-eye Candy Friday (and more)


We did, indeed, head out on a little road trip yesterday. We drove about 1.5 hours N-NE -- not far from where Annie used to live -- to find the waterfall at Veterans Park. Oh, it was so worth it!!


There was a stairway down to the river and some paths along the shore.


And a really lovely foot bridge over the water!


I think we all had wet feet, but it was just all too tempting to explore! There was still a fair bit of snow on the ground in places, too.


We sat down to soak up the sun and listen to the water... next thing you know, I was having a little lie down on the rocks. That's when I took the first photo in this post.


And turned the camera around for this one. That big rock certainly wasn't warm, but it wasn't freezing cold, either. The coolness felt good and the sun felt good and it all just felt so good.

And then on the way home there was this:


Crazy spring weather!

I hope you all have a great weekend... there's a holiday or something, isn't there? Gah.


3TT: Road Trip

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

We kinda needed to bust outta here last week, so we took a drive out to 1) Lake Michigan. That's about an hour east of us, and it was a nice day for a drive.


It just so happens we were on a small portion of the 2) Ice Age Trail.


Yes, that's my husband wearing a jacket and knit cap... while walking barefoot on the shore.


I don't think I'd ever seen Lake Michigan so calm (panoramic view).


We stopped at 3) Cato Falls on the way home -- just because it was there and we'd never been before. It's not the most exciting waterfall you've ever seen, but we enjoyed watching two guys in short whitewater kayaks shooting in and out of the rapids. It was a nice park and not all that far from Ali's, so I'm looking forward to taking the kids there once the playground is open again.

It's chilly and a little windy, but super sunny. And I filled up my gas tank for less than $15 last week... I think we're going to go explore some other park today -- hike a trail or find a waterfall!


Unraveled Wednesday: Mystery, 100 Days, and More Cooking!

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading... and doing.


Well, I'm still working on Nightshift, but after Zoom Knitting on Sunday (hosted by Mary) and seeing both Kat and Margene working on Romi's Mystery Shawl 2020, I caved...


These are the two yarns I originally chose. The lighter one is by Lambstrings Yarn, Tralala Sock in a color called "Home Again." The other one shall go unnamed... as I went to wind it up, I discovered three distinct ends. Um, that's not good. I was willing to go wind a couple of balls, but it was a tangled PITA mess. Not interested in that at the moment, so I grabbed a hank of some of my own stuff that's been around for a while.


It's a bit more vibrant. I hope it will work out.


And here's where I'm at with that project. Next step is to cast off the top edge of that triangle and then I don't know... it's a MYSTERY!


I finished His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams the other day, but still need to generate my BINGO CARD and find a square for it! Yes! In case you haven't heard, Bingo has begun early this year. I rarely get a Bingo, but I love the opportunity to explore different books & genres that I wouldn't otherwise do on my own.

So now I'm back to Centering In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, by M.C. Richards -- inspired by the visit to North Carolina and the Black Mountain College Museum.

And I'm listening to Hope Jahren read her book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.

But what I really want to listen to right now is Stephen Fry reading the UK version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Book 1. Dare I admit that I've never read a single Harry Potter book? Certain members of my household have read some of these... and re-read and re-read and re-read... certainly numbered in double digits by now. Anyway. Unfortunately, it can't be downloaded, but there's more how-to info/links here on The Verge.


Another 100 Days of Sewing - Alabama Chanin style, mostly on my Car Jacket, but I have a few other items cut, stenciled and ready to go from my visit with Kym last fall.

For the record, here's where I stand/begin with that project:


Two finished sleeves.


Collar and two pockets/pocket flaps with a bit of a start -- they are smaller pieces and have traveled with me on occasion.


One side of the back underway -- I'd say not quite half-way. So that's where I've begun, with the other side of the back and both fronts yet to go. And then sewing up. Oh yeah.


My sister has really started something...

...and Alison has run with it!! ❤️ Bon appetit!


Monday morning smiles

So, over the weekend, my sister Ann posted a video to her YouTube channel called "My Cooking Show."

She made it to help inspire the students at her school... but also because she's always wanted to have a cooking show, and there's no better time than now!

This morning, Alison posted the cutest response (in three parts):



Happy Monday! I hope you're smiling, too.


3TT: Thar she grows!!

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

Thing #1



Thing #2



Thing #3


Bleeding Heart!

THE SUN IS SHINING TODAY! After a prolonged period of clouds and rain, the sun is brightly shining this morning and these things will no doubtedly grow a little. The Bleeding Heart, especially, always seems to quickly blast out of the earth. It never ceases to amaze.

BONUS - Thing #4


Ruby Rhubarb!

Twelve years ago, my friend Ann shared a cutting of her rhubarb plant with me (because how did I not have any of my own?). Since then, Ann has moved from Long Island to Buffalo! I meant to send her a cutting last year for her new house, but it fell off the radar... but this year, for sure! TODAY!!


Unraveled Wednesday: Nightshift

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading.

I can't believe how long it's been since I've done an "Unraveled Wednesday" post! North Carolina! It seems like not only a long time ago, but also another world...

I guess it was a different world in February.


I knit a baby sweater while we were in Mexico, but still need to do the finishing... and instead of doing that, I'm knitting on my Nightshift shawl.


I'd made a little headway on the bind-off the other day, and then decided/realized that it wasn't quite as big as I want it to be. I'll admit that I never did a swatch and have no idea what my gauge is or how it compares, even now. I have a feeling that the shawl will grow a bit once it's blocked, but I'm not sure if it'll be a little or a lot. Whatever! I am really enjoying the knitting and combining colors and I'm just going to keep going for a while.

It's fun keeping an eye on the Ravelry group, too, and though not the most active group on the web, I'm pleased that there are 37 members!


When I noticed that there was green & gold in my kit (or anytime there's green + gold anywhere), the Green Bay Packers came to mind... even though the shades are off. (That green is probably my least favorite color in the bunch, actually.) Anyway, I was avoiding it for a while, but then decided to just embrace it, so there are two "green & gold" sections in my shawl.

I wonder if we'll have a football season this year.

And then I wonder, how is that even a question? So crazy.


My "vacation read" was His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams.

Though I didn't read a lot on vacation, I enjoyed the book and so it's the one I grab every night when I crawl into bed.

I'm not listening a lot, either, but when I do plug it in, I'm listening to Hope Jahren read her latest book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.


These are strange times...

IMG_3676 I've also started a puzzle. I've had this one for quite a while -- 1000 pieces, all children's book covers -- with the idea of gluing it together & framing it for Ali to hang in the playroom or one of the kids' rooms. I had to beg a card table off of Rusty (from his studio/gallery, where it was displaying stuff that no one will be seeing), but I'm all set up now. We're not huge puzzlers, but this one is going to be so fun!