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February 2022

Random January Weekending

So... buttons on your underwear!?

That's not how I intended to begin this post, but once I wrote, "So," it just came out. Have you ever heard that expression before? My brother-in-law finished someone's "So..." in this way over the weekend and could not believe that none of us had ever heard it before. It must not be very commonly used by him, either, because I've known him for going-on 20 years and never heard him say it before... surely, in all that time, there must have been opportunity!


So, as of this Wednesday, we won’t have to test to enter Puerto Rico! The (non-returnable) tests I ordered will be here today were just delivered, and I had notification that the government tests will also be delivered today, so we'll be prepared!


I packed up all my yarn-y stuff at the coffee shop yesterday! We have begun packing up the laundry (and-so-much-more) room in order to lay the new floor and I couldn't think of a single place to put it all, so took it right down to the storage unit (where mostly Kate has stuff).


I'll be bringing the wall-mounted grid wall home and will use it in my hopefully-somewhat-soon-to-be revamped dye studio; I also have legs for it, so options!

Meanwhile, if anyone needs/wants an MDK Field Guide or a tote bag from the defunct Fringe Supply, I'm your girl.

The boys walked over Saturday prior to their departure to Madison for the week. Their 99yo Nana is moving into a rehab facility today, having fallen & broken a hip earlier this month, and they head back to Lima on Friday. While they wrestled with each other in the living room (boys!), I made my color card for the Temperature Blanket.


Then, having found myself with a little time yesterday afternoon -- after my nap and before a coffee shop "transition" get-together -- I cast on!


I worked about the first week of Rusty's first year of life! And I am already in love with this project... and wondering how I can pack a project with 20+ balls of yarn for vacation!!

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the start of Fiberuary!


I had so much fun doing the Fiberuary Challenge on Instagram last year, I'm going to try it again!

This month FLEW BY!! I'm sure it had to do with my sister & her family being "here" for most of the month, with everything surrounding Ali's sale of the coffee shop, and with BIRTHDAYS! Junah's, Annie's... and today would have been my mom's 84th! (That's baby Junah in the photo with her!)


I'm looking forward to February, which is usually my least favorite month, but at least it's short -- I've already flipped that calendar and there's a vacation in plain view!


Right Now... February straight ahead!

Anticipating... the arrival of virtual-visit Covid tests.

Celebrating... my mother, and what would have been her 84th birthday on the 31st.

Enjoying... my sister's visit! It's been so fun having her family all so close by, able to walk over for a visit or to have dinner, swinging around the corner to pick her up on the way to the store. They've been back & forth between here & Madison a few times... tomorrow they head back down there, and we won't see them again until summer. They are flying back to Lima a week from today.

Hoping... just... holding on and HOPING! Y'know that the end finally comes into view.


Knitting... I've been quite lackadaisical about knitting/crocheting all month. Recovering from holiday hoopla. Enjoying my sister & family. Being quiet.

I am in the process of ripping a couple of rounds of the border on Hexi Love... maybe all the way to the beginning. I'm just not happy with it, so I'll keep doing it until I am. It would be nice to have that project finished, though (so close).

I'm not doing the actual knitting yet, but I have been deep into planning a Temperature Blanket project (whenever I find a spare minute)!


Those are spreadsheets with hi/lo temperatures for each of us (from birthdate to first birthday, in the location where we were at the time), a simple sketch/worksheet, a not-to-scale mock up on paper, and Rusty's chart and row-by-row instructions.

The idea is a 12" x 60" panel for each of us with hi/lo temps for each day. It'll be garter stitch, so two rows/one ridge for each day, with a little bit of intarsia -- the curving line represents hours of day/night. Rusty was born in Southern California the day after Christmas, so his "day/night" chart is close to symmetrical. I was born in Milwaukee and lived most of my first year in Escanaba, MI, so mine is a little different. The girls are basically all the same, with their birthdays falling between April 16-25; the temperature/color is where differences will be interesting! Kate represents the Oregon Coast, and Ali & Maddy are NE Wisconsin. They'll be sewn together in the end, probably with Rusty & me flanking the girls. But we shall see. There's a lot of knitting to do -- but the data already exists, so I am not limited by current/future events.

Inspired by a bunch of people:

So those are my rainbow-y colors, above; Rowan Felted Tweed (mainly because I already have at least one ball of each color, and dye lots are not going to matter if/when I need more) for a large garter stitch throw; coldest (-19F) on bottom left, warming as you move right and follow around to the top row and hottest (97F) on top left.

Looking forward to... 85°F (or so) and a week in Puerto Rico soon. I'd booked this vacation back in September when things were looking pretty good for travel, and PR was an "easy" destination. Omicron changed that, however, and now PR requires a negative Covid test within 48 hours of arrival, and I've been getting increasingly worried about securing said test. I stopped at Walgreens last night to talk about it... and learned that they'd administered their last in-stock test yesterday morning, tests are now on back order and they have no idea of delivery. GREAT (not!). At least we won't have to test to return (knock on wood!).

Needing... to find a travel project that is more portable than a rainbow blanket! I am thinking socks for Viv, but I know me... and I'm going to need more than one project, even if I actually work on neither!

Organizing... my workroom/office (always!) is a complete disaster. But at some point in the near future, I will be removing/archiving all of the coffee shop bookkeeping/records, and that will give me room (even if it's just head space).

Planning... a trip to Denver with Kate at the end of April! She'll be here for a couple of weeks April-May, and she just told me this morning that she's been approved for an even longer vacation in July -- when Maddy & Viv plan to be here, as does Ann & fam! A regular ol' reunion in the works!! (Can we adopt the UK vacation/leave policies please???)

Reading... I've been as lackadaisical about reading as I have about knitting/crocheting.


Sewing... I'm not sewing anything yet, but when I saw this fabric at Target the other day -- on a pair of knit bellbottom pants -- and discovered that each leg has only one seam -- my gears started turning. There isn't a particular pattern/garment in mind yet, but they'll eventually transform into something for the girls -- a top, a skirt, a dress... I don't know. On a whim, I tried them on when I got home and was surprised that they actually fit (yay for stretchy knits), even if they're a bit long. Annie bought a pair two and want us to wear them together! What a sight! Maybe I can make a headband or something out of the waistband for myself. I just can't get over that print -- so simple, but so much to love!


Thinking about... what the end game is with this amaryllis! Methinks there must be or was a bug.

Watching... Around the World in 80 Days, All Creatures Great & Small, Finding Your Roots.


Wondering... What's up with you right now!?


Now and then

Rusty & I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary yesterday. Ali & the kids came over for dinner & a visit in the evening.


Two dapper dudes in plaid. Davy is something else these days... finding different ways to amuse himself, and sometimes finding himself to be pretty hilarious!

Nine years ago, I spent our wedding anniversary in Rio de Janeiro. On one of those days, Ann & I visited the Botanical Garden.


I'd noticed some familiar flowers & foliage that turned out to be Crown of Thorns -- making up an entire hedge. The very old potted plant, above, has been in the greenhouse window at work for as long as I've been here (17 years), and certainly longer. I took it home last summer and divided it, cleaned it up, gave it new soil... and my reward has been a better (not stellar) looking plant and a lot more flowers. Also, I have one at home now, too. It makes me happy and I will always think of Rio when I see/water it!

There's a big weekend coming up!


I have folks driving up from Saint Louis today for tomorrow night's game, and Ann's (repeat) guests are driving up from SW Wisco tomorrow. It is going to be COLD!! Wind chills below zero and at night, so not even the hope of warming sunshine. Welcome to the Frozen Tundra! If the Packers win, they'll play at home again next weekend, and we already have people hedging their bets and booking lodging. Fingers crossed!


Movin' on

Almost 13 years ago, a small volunteer army spent Valentine's Weekend cleaning & transforming the coffee shop, preparing for Ali to open the doors on a Monday -- fresh-faced and ready to take over! She'd worked there while in high school and when the previous owner was ready to move on, he contacted Ali... and the rest is history.

Ali kct feb 2009

And, literally... it's almost history!

Ali kct jan 2022

After almost 13 years, Alison is passing Kaukauna Coffee & Tea on to new owners!

I'm taking my cue and moving on as well. Tonight will be the last Make.Do Knit Night @ KC&T, and I'll be removing all of the yarn-y inventory over the next couple of weeks.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind and, to be honest, my head is spinning a little bit. I still haven't quite processed what this will mean for me -- no more bookkeeping, no more payroll duty every two weeks, no more picking up/delivering weekly orders from Big Box Wholesale Store, no more of all the little things that crop up on any given day.

It's going to be weird for all of us, but I'm sure we'll find our new normal!


Home Improvement(s)

There's a list of them. Making the Garden Room a bit more comfortable in the colder months moved to the top and Rusty's been busy.


First, he made interior storm windows... because why buy them when you can make them yourself? (I can think of one or two reasons, but whatever...) They're not perfect, but they're in and they do seem to make a difference.


Then, he wanted to insulate the ceiling in the "new" part (the white beadboard), which is part of the old wrap-around porch. The "old" Garden Room was part of the old wrap-around at one time, too, but it was incorporated into the house and insulated long ago.


He started with foam insulation board, then some sort of paper/foil barrier; he "found" some lathe strips in the attic, and finished it all off with some bead board similar to the old stuff. The grooves aren't as deep and it's new, but it should age well.


This is classic Rusty-on-the-job. I have a few of these from over the years... sometimes with a banana or cup of coffee in hand.


The wood on the old part of the ceiling was reclaimed from a closet that used to be in the kitchen. A couple passes with some stain and varnish, and it's pretty darn close!


The plants should be happier with the cozier digs. This is one of two new amaryllis, exploding with flower buds! (The other one is biding its time.) I can't wait!

Next thing on the list is the long-overdue laundry room floor! There will be some major cleaning out & purging in that process. Stay tuned.

Oh! We have new neighbors! There's a tragic tale about the house next door, and it's been vacant since last summer -- sold, flipped, and finally (I think) sold again. Looking forward to meeting them and PRAY that we got some "good ones" again.


Soup Weather

I spontaneously joined Ali on a trip to Costco (and Olive Garden) recently. While there, I picked up a bag of shelled fresh peas -- 20 oz. worth -- without a clear thought as to what I'd do with them, though split pea soup with ham was on my mind, as it usually is at this time of year, especially when we've had ham at Christmas... so why not fresh peas? I did a little searching and found this recipe for Ham & Fresh Pea Soup, which I changed very little.


1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pesto
4 medium potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme tied together w/kitchen string
        I used fresh oregano because it's what was on hand;
        a blend of fresh herbs would probably work great
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
20 oz fresh or frozen baby peas
2 c. fresh spinach
3-4 c. diced ham
Feta cheese & fresh thyme for garnish, if desired
        I sprinkled some grated parmesan on top

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Add shallots & cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally; add pesto &cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, herbs, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Remove tied herbs & bay leaf. Add spinach & peas and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to blend to desired texture; I like my vegetables a little chunky. If a smooth texture is desired, a traditional blender would be more efficient (but work in batches & be careful because the soup is hot).

Add the ham and stir well to combine & heat. Taste & add seasonings if needed. Serve hot, garnished with cheese & fresh herbs, if desired.

>>This soup was SO GOOD! Ann & family were over for dinner last night and even the boys liked it.



Recent grocery list

I've been meaning to type up my riff on a Chicken & Rice Soup recipe for Ali. The original is from NYT Cooking (a separate subscription to which I will definitely keep if I ever unsub from the Sunday paper delivery). I made it for her & the kids and it was so easy... but I felt it needed a little (kid-friendly) improvement.


8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken thighs
4 stalks celery, leaves reserved, stalks diced
2 carrots, diced
        My addition to this recipe -- which I did not do but definitely will in the future
3/4 c. unrinsed jasmine rice
1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves
1/2 fresh lemon, zested & juiced
        I used a little Penzey's lemon peel (powder) and juiced the lemon
        (because it's easier*)

In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine broth, chicken, celery, carrots & rice. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat & simmer until chicken is cooked through and rice starts to break down, 20-30 minutes.

Finely chop together the parsley & celery leaves.

When chicken is cooked, transfer it from the pot to a medium bowl using tongs. Using two forks, shred the chicken, the return it to the soup along with the parsley & celery leaves.

*The original recipe instructs to make a mixture from the parsley/celery leaves with lemon & garlic that is used to garnish the soup. Um, first of all, that part didn't register when I read through the recipe, and secondly, there's no way the kids would eat soup with a dollop of green stuff in it -- they balked at the sliced celery! So I just threw the chopped leaves into the soup. One thing it really needed was a little color, so I'll be adding carrots next time! And dicing the celery... so it doesn't look as much like celery!

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I saw this How to Get Unstuck quiz today and quickly skimmed it... nodding YES to every item in Question #2, and finding that so humorous that I couldn't even move on. Haha.

I hope you all have a great weekend... maybe with soup!



It's another 3TT/Unraveled mash up! I'm joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday + Unraveled Wednesday with Kat & the Unravelers.



I finished a hat -- my first FO of 2022!

  • My Ravelry Project Page: Perky Little Bun Hat
  • Pattern: Perky Little Hat by Sharon Lentsch
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Rasta (Boreal colorway)
  • Needles:  US 15
  • Start to Finish: January 3 - January 5, 2022

I actually knit it twice; the first was a test/prototype. Ali wanted a "messy bun" hat, but she has a pretty big bun so I wanted to make sure it would work! I had some leftovers from other projects, so knit up the tester and I'm glad I did because we made a couple of adjustments. The Rasta has very little stretch, so I decided to run some fold-over elastic through the stitches to finish (instead of the yarn).


The colorway is gorgeous! To minimize any pooling or flashing, I knit alternating rows from both ends of the yarn cake.


We'd also decided to lengthen it a bit, which was easily done by knitting an extra row or two or three in each section. I have yarn for at least one more (in a much less exciting color) (which I might end up overdyeing)!


I haven't been reading. When I do, it'll be: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (audio), by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, and (still): This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History (pages).

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It's been a little crazy around here. Annie & her family were supposed to come up for a day or two between Christmas & New Year's Day, but they were hit by Covid/Omicron... falling like dominoes over a couple of days. Thankfully, all vaxxed, so none of them got very sick but their visit was postponed. They're all here now and finally spent a night in their own house! They like it a lot! It's really cool that Annie was informed that she'd achieved AIRBNB SUPERHOST status while they're here! (That's all me, but it is her house!) So now we're a duo!

I was able to nab a couple extra days off next week, and I'm looking forward to some proper visiting & catching up. I've been a little out of sorts since the new year began, and I hope to get a little more centered/grounded, too.