Friday, July 29, 2011

focus friday. the playlist.

...wow, how did it get to be the end of july already? which means another one little word prompt. this month it was about creating a nine-song soundtrack to evoke your word. engage your ears. listen. I watched ali's video announcing the prompt back on july 2 and had my list of songs compiled before the video was even done. I created a focus playlist in itunes and periodically played it...making sure it was still right. and this morning I decided it was.
::amazing grace - chris tomlin
::I run to you - lady antebellum
::summer, highland falls - billy joel
::just to see you smile - tim mcgraw
::days like this - van morrison
::home - michael buble
::the book I write - spoon
::here comes the sun - the beatles
::all my days - alexi murdoch
I'm sure nothing on the list will surprise katie or sara. about half these songs are ones they'd quickly list if asked about my favorite songs. two of them are even ringtones on my phone (and I'm pretty sure summer highland falls is katie's ringtone for me :-) billy joel, van morrison and the beatles were from cd's I imported to itunes when I first started using it about five years ago. tim mcgraw and lady antebellum came much later...last summer, I guess. yes, I came late to my love of country music! the latest addition is chris tomlin's amazing grace. that song has been a favorite of mine for years, and his version is my favorite favorite.

so these songs all evoke a sense of me. which is, in a weird sort of way, what I've been looking for with my one little word this year. and the snippets of lyrics I captured for each song...I think they tell exactly the story I'm trying to tell.
my july page
...would love to know what soundtrack you're playing these days?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

gibson.

raveled here
...finished. this is my fifth time knitting a babycocktails design and the love affair continues! of course it doesn't hurt that this was also my first time knitting a sweater with the fabulous sublime cashmere silk merino dk (not that I'd ever really do it, but I think even knitting a sweater in pieces would be good knitting with this yarn!)

I was a bit concerned about the pattern's suggested ease - yikes +2"? (to the very few non-knitters who might read this, it means the sweater is 2" bigger than my bust measurement). the last time I tried this it was a disaster.  so most of my sweaters have negative ease (the sweater is smaller than my bust measurement). I compromised and planned +1-2" and I'm glad I trusted thea. it's perfect. and it feels just right.

of course the perfect buttons help, too. can you see how pretty these are? (click on the photo to enlarge) I've had my eye on these since they arrived in the shop a few weeks ago. I did use a small backing button when I sewed them on. no worries about the buttons pulling through the fabric and they weigh down the collar edges just enough so they stay put.

5 stars out of 5 for sure!

(and no, I haven't cast on another sweater, but I did swatch for this one!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

texture tuesday. dream.

...playing along with kim klassen today; she released the dream texture this weekend and I couldn't wait to use it.
the pond at hembree park, a favorite place of mine to be still and dream. used kim's dream and golden textures.
I've been so blessed these past few years - many of my dreams have already come true! but we're heading into a new phase of life...time for new inspirations. In my dreams, I will:

♥ dance with marc at my daughters' weddings.

♥ celebrate sara's college graduation with a trip to italy, sharing food, wine and discovery with both girls.

♥ live by water (a lake or a river, not the ocean).

♥ knit for my grandchildren (I've been collecting ideas in ravelry for while!)

♥ make a mission trip someplace outside the united states.

Monday, July 25, 2011

currents.

listening: joy the baker podcasts - I've been reading her blog for months and the podcast adds a whole new dimension to it (I've also started reading shutterbean, a nice mix of cooking and other things...and it's ok if they make me feel really old, right?!)

eating: carrots and cucumber

drinking: water (I was hoping for coffee, but the pot was empty and it's too late in the day to make more)

wearing: a skirt and a t-shirt - kind of casual for me on a monday (I teach class monday nights) but oh well

feeling: a great sense of accomplishment - today is housecleaning day and it's DONE!

weather: 82 degrees at 3pm with thunderstorms in the area

wanting: one of these really bright lights so I can work on my needlepoint at the kitchen table (do you have one? which one do you recommend?)

needing: new running shoes. yikes. I've had my current pair ten months and my knees can feel it (especially now that I'm running a little)


looking forward: spa sydell on thursday afternoon

wondering: how empty the house will feel in four weeks when sara's back at school

Friday, July 22, 2011

focus friday. knitting.

...it's been nearly seven weeks since I last posted about knitting. and when you knit as much as I do, that means a lot has happened!

I finished lolita. not by the time we returned from hilton head, but not too much later. this was a fun, fast knit and did work great for beach knitting. and thank goodness for soak to remove the sand and sunscreen from the finished sweater :-)
raveled here
then I finished vitamin gray (aka vitamin D). and even got to wear it last week when we had a chilly (75 degree :-) wet day. this is definitely one of my favorite sweaters. it fits great. I love the yarn and the color. and it was fun to knit (except for one tiny bit of short rows that I tried to knit in the almost-dark the night our power went out that I had to rip out the next morning)
raveled here
and summer flies - woo hoo! I think I'm about the last person in our knit along to finish. I've worn this many times - it looks great with black and with white and it's just the right weight to keep the air conditioning off my shoulders.
raveled here
and I started and finished ginger (carol feller's great new gilligan pattern). I used debbie bliss bella again (this is the same yarn I used in white sangria). love having a go-to cotton yarn. it's really perfect for our summer weather. carol uses short rows a lot in her designs. for this pattern, the sleeve caps and shoulders are shaped with short rows so it's all seamless...but fitted. and the sleeves are created with increases worked into that pretty lace ribbing. the top half of this project was kitchen table knitting for me. I had to pay attention, count and ... pay attention! and it took me eight days.
raveled here

so I started hannah fettig's wispy for a "lots of straight stockinette" project (using a single skien of misti alpaca handpaint lace from my stash - yay for stash knitting!) to use for social knitting. and a break. I finished ginger just a few days after I started wispy, so it hasn't seen a lot of play time. and lots of straight stockinette with laceweight on size 4 needles doesn't go very fast. I won't even bother sharing a progress photo.

and back in mid-june, I decided I wanted to teach a lace shawl class. I settled on traveling woman for this first four-session class. of course I have to stay ahead of my students.... and I am, just barely! the stockinette portion is done and I'm going to start the lace today so I have something to share with at tomorrow's class. this one is knit in rowan revive (the same yarn I used for lolita) - the base color is a light purple and there are flecks of bright primary colors that remind me of a box of crayons. very fun.
raveled here
after I finished ginger, I started gibson. another babycocktails design (I've lost count of how many of hers I've knit this year) and my first sweater in the lovely sublime cashmere merino silk dk. after knitting two sweaters in cotton (even super nice cotton that has a bit of silk and cashmere in it), it is a treat to knit with merino. I am obsessed with it... like to the point of knitting at stop lights (I promise I put the knitting down when I'm actually driving!)... so it's going fast.
raveled here
which is good, because the new yarn that's arrived at the shop is very hard to resist. in the past week, we've added fibre company canopy fingering and road to china light. I imagine road to china light, while it's expensive, is going to be fabulous knitting. I've promised myself a (short-sleeved!) sweater - and think the yarn will be perfect for one of ysolda teague's little red patterns, cria. I've had that sweater in my queue since I got the book - finding a new yarn to knit it with is a bonus!

same with babycocktails' irish coffee. that's been in my queue since february...waiting for fall - or at least temperatures below 90 degrees - before I knit it. this week's huge rowan shipment included felted tweed aran. it's the perfect weight for the project and there are plenty of beautiful colors.

I did add one project to my queue. another hannah fettig design, featherweight, in laceweight. to knit with the new rowan fine lace. I can't resist the yarn. it is that gorgeous!

working in a yarn store and teaching four classes really challenges me to stay focused. there is so much great yarn to knit, and so many wonderful designs, and my students and I love to knit-along the same projects. but there are 18 of them and one of me. I'm finally doing better at saying "no, I really can't knit that right now" (or even in the next 6 months!) but it's hard. and it's really hard to resist buying the yarn. my new thing is to buy yarn for the next one, two or three projects. and once I have the yarn, I don't budge on knitting it. we'll see how long I can keep that up!

here's my sweater queue right now. I only have yarn for the first sweater. but I'm knitting at the shop this afternoon. yep, I'm thinking I might come home with that road to china light and the fine lace. especially if I make more progress on gibson. and I'm going to offer another lace shawl class - ysolda's damson shawl. and while I have a skien of the suggested malabrigo sock in my stash, I might need to shop for that too!

and now I have needlepoint, too. can you see the tiny bit of progress I made since my first lesson last week? (I drew a circle around the part I've stitched.) this took me hours. probably a good lesson for me - I'm sure my students feel that way about their knitting, too!

(note to self - more frequent knitting updates - remembering all this...and writing a blog post about it takes a long time!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

doing the 2.

this is our donation page - $2,500 to go!

...as in the atlanta 2-day walk for breast cancer. karen and I have signed up again (this will be her 6th year and my 5th - wow!) and pledged to raise $2,500. the walk is september 24 and 25, but the fundraising deadline is august 27th. we hit our $2,500 goal last year on the day of the walk - which was in october. we're hoping we can meet our goal ahead of the walk this year. and based on the generous support of our friends and family, we think it's doable!

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the grant review process last fall. reading through all the applications and writing up recommendations for funding really brought home how important this walk - and the money we raise - is to our community. real people dealing with breast cancer. we are privileged to help.

our sister-in-law lydia and her quilt club have again created a quilt for us to give away. like last year, every $25 donated will get one entry in the raffle ($25 = one entry and $75 = three entries). I'll post a photo of the quilt as soon as I can - we're scheduled for a handoff in august.

and we have a 2-day duffle bag to give away. everyone who donates will get one entry in that raffle.

we've already taken our first training walk. seven miles on a hot summer morning felt like ten...and that's only one third of what we'll do in september. yikes! we have two more long walks scheduled in august. maybe it will cool off a bit before then? (not likely, I know, but we can hope!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10 favorite beach songs.

best sunset at the end
rosemary beach sunset, 2008
carole's topic for today is favorite beach songs. I've had fun this morning remembering long-ago trips to the jersey, california and connecticut beaches. and looking back through photos of beach trips with my sister. we started an annual trip in 1999 to the florida gulf coast (our girls were very young then...and so were we!) and continued it until 2008.

I'm excited we're going again this fall with lydia and katie. I'm sure this trip will have its own soundtrack, but I hope it includes a few of these favorites.

1. under the boardwalk. more south carolina than gulf coast, but still my all-time favorite.

2. fun, fun, fun. and this one is california, but fun to dance to!

3. california girls. ditto.

4. margaritaville. finally in the right state! (and a great state of beach mind, too!)

5. brown-eyed girl. we always throw in a little van morrison.

6. piano man. and billy joel.

7. don't let the sun go down on me. and elton john.

8. born to run. a tribute to high school and trips to the jersey shore.

9. cathedral. and one from college summers with marc at the connecticut shore.

10. be young, be foolish, be happy. pretty much sums up the beach state of mind!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

I ran 3 miles today.

...two years ago that wouldn't have been a big deal. but for the past year and a half or so, I've just been walking. chalk it up to having more time, or almost 50 year old knees that aren't as nimble as they used to be, or having a little dog who needs to be walked... but I can't even remember the last time I ran. and lately, I've been missing it. the endorphin rush. working up a sweat and breathing hard. the rhythm of my feet hitting the trail. burning 250 calories in 30 minutes :-)

so this morning, when holly turned right back for home after just a quarter mile walk, I decided I'd take a run. I made it three laps around the park (about 3 miles) with just one bit of walking on the 3rd lap. and it was as good as I remember.

I took the trail in the other direction, so I didn't see this sign til the end of lap #1. love the reminder. sometimes all you need to do is start.

Friday, July 15, 2011

focus friday. learning.

...learning new things has always excited me. back in january, 2007 (wow, pre-blog!), I made a list of 10 things I want to do each day, and #2 (just after #1 to tell marc, sara and katie I love you!) was "learn something new". and from my journal on january 17 of that year, a lesson from sara on "synthetic division: dividing polynomials - something mom learned new today". (whoa, and for the record, no, I don't still remember how to do that!)

and sometimes I go through periods where it doesn't seem like I'm learning much, and then I get to time like now, where the curve seems pretty steep. getting my macbook, knitting failures (which always mean a lesson learned), c.s. lewis, and - this week - photoshop! following up on may's to-do list, I've been working through kim klassen's photoshop essentials course.

as of this morning, I've completed five and a half of the six days of material. which is roughly 40 videos. on topics ranging from how to organize the photoshop workspace, to really fun stuff like layer masks and curve adjustments and textures and blending modes. I'm sure sara is tired of hearing me say "oh wow" while she's eating breakfast and I'm watching the videos, toggling back and forth with real images I'm editing in elements and seeing how I can actually do what kim does. yes, wow.

I had grand plans of posting before and after images today to share a little of the wow, and holly went to the groomer's yesterday and that seemed ideal because one of the lessons was specifically about getting highlights and contrast in animals (and I've always had problems getting photos to show how cute holly's face is). so of course it's rainy today (no, I'm not complaining!) and I had to take my photo in the kitchen with only overhead lights (darn that sun!)

and 30 minutes later, I edited this....

to this

if you've seen holly in person, I think the after is a pretty good representation of her coloring - and her dog bed :-) and thanks to kim for the portrait texture and of course all the lessons. I think I used about 50% of them here. levels, saturation and brightness adjustments, filters, layer masks, selections, blending modes, textures. my final file had about 12 layers. I applied some of her lessons directly and played around with others to find something that worked.

if you want to learn photoshop, I cannot recommend her class highly enough!

next up, I'm going to learn needlepoint. the ladies at the shop are beyond excited to convert another knitter to a stitcher!
yep, needlepoint! the canvas is poppies...and it's an insert into for a fabulous project bag (BAG55BL, seen here, mine's black!)
what's next on your learning curve?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 things I love about harry potter.

from my journal, entry dated july 23, 2007 
I LOVE harry potter, but honestly, coming up with this list of ten things has been harder than I thought it would be. I was glad I found notes from july 2007 when I read the last book. those notes provided some of my loves. and reminded me about a favorite scene - the wedding between bill & fleur:
"...I declare you bonded for life". The tufty-haired wizard waved his wand high over the heads of Bill & Fleur and a shower of silver stars fell upon them, spiraling around their now entwined figures. As Fred & George led a round of applause, the golden balloons overhead burst: birds of paradise and tiny golden bells flew and floated out of them, adding their songs and chimes to the din.
(ahhh. sigh. see number 10.)

1. the story is about all the great values - love, courage, friendship and I especially love the theme about the bond of love between parents and their children.

2. taken as one story, it's something like 4,000 pages. long enough to tell a story and tell it well. the characters are well-developed and worth spending that much time with.

3. daniel radcliffe and emma watson. he's handsome. she's beautiful (and I LOVE her in short hair!)

4. I love the books and I love the movies.... I can't say that about very many books I've read, and certainly not about seven (or eight :-) of them!

5. the story appeals to all ages. my niece who was barely a teenager when the books first came out, my dad and I all rate these books as "best reads ever".

6. a happy ending.

7. but many twists and turns and surprises along the way.

8.  mrs. weasley is a knitter.

9. I haven't yet seen the 6th or 7th movies. love having them to look forward to!

10. and looking forward to re-reading the books before I do - it's been four years since I read the last one and I can tell from making this list...it's time!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

currents.

rose of sharon in our front yard
listening: the latest never not knitting podcast - alana interviews ysolda teague about her new book little red in the city. love!

eating: almonds

drinking: a third cup of coffee...it's been a long morning already!

wearing: running shorts and a top (we just got back from the park and yes, I carried holly for a lot of it!)

feeling: inspired about photoshop and kim klassen's essentials workshop - I finished day two's lesson this morning and can't believe there are eight more days worth of material to cover!

weather: 81 degrees at 9:47 am with a forecasted high of 94 and a slight chance of thunderstorms. fingers crossed. we need the rain!

wanting: to get back in a groove with my photography - seriously considering another photo-a-day project, or maybe camera phonography?

needing: another training walk (yikes, we've only got nine more weeks to get ready!)


looking forward: lunch at bistro vg with sara on wednesday...and hopefully a good two-of-us photo

wondering: which of those little red patterns I'll knit first. love them all. it's very hard to choose!

Friday, July 8, 2011

focus friday. healthy eating.

...during the summer, marc likes to play golf on thursday evenings. so dinner is just for sara and me. and it's nearly always salad. last night we tried a new one, inspired by this clipping my mom sent.

she was right on the mark - this is definitely a salad for us!

the only essential ingredient we didn't have on hand was green onions, but that was an easy fix with harry's right down the street.

the salad is a bed of greens, topped with fruit, vegetables and a savory grain, lightly dressed with a lemon basil dressing.

I first rinsed the tomatoes and blueberries, and stopped to admire the red & blue;

then I made zucchini ribbons with a vegetable peeler and blanched the ribbons (as much as I love vegetables, I do not like raw zucchini) - just a minute in the microwave and then a quick rinse in cold water;

rinsed and cooked the quinoa, chopped more, washed two heads of romaine, and assembled.
(we did have leftovers!)

thinking about this salad in its component parts - fruit, vegetables, grain and greens - we're excited to try other variations. peaches and strawberries for the fruit, tomatoes and cucumber or asparagus and yellow squash (both blanched) for the vegetables, brown rice or couscous for the grain, and greens... or a winter version with apples and oranges and acorn or butternut squash... the possibilities are endless!

mary/sara salad
inspired by better homes & gardens' july 2011 grains & fruit summer salad

for the dressing
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper

for the fruit
1-1/2 cups cubed cantaloupe (half of a medium sized melon)
2 cups blueberries

for the vegetables
one medium zucchini, sliced in ribbons with a vegetable peeler, blanched
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

for the savory grain
2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed, cooked in 1-1/2 cups water)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
salt and pepper

for the greens
4 cups salad greens (I used the top halves of two heads of romaine and about a cup of mixed baby greens - the romaine leaves were great to layer under the rest of the salad)

for the top
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mixed, chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano, thyme and parsley - what we have fresh on the deck!)

whisk the dressing ingredients together.

for the quinoa, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa. return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. fluff with a fork. add the green onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing. season with salt and pepper.

to assemble, line a big salad bowl with the greens. cover with the fruit, vegetables and quinoa. sprinkle the walnuts and herbs over the top. serve with the dressing (suggest adding the dressing separately in case you have leftovers - undressed salad keeps better!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 favorite herbs.

...ahhh, a food topic! herbs are one of my favorite things to cook with and I'm enjoying the little garden on the deck that we planted last month. as I start typing, I'm pretty sure I have a favorite six or seven, we'll see if I can make it to 10!
1. basil. hands down my favorite herb. we planted two pots of this in our little garden and I'm hoping it will produce enough to make a little bit of pesto before the summer ends. love pesto!

2. oregano. great in salad dressings and on any sort of vegetable. and of course, on pizza!

3. thyme. I was a little late to the party on this one. when I was growing up, my mom used to sprinkle thyme on peas and I thought it tasted like little twigs (ugh!)...but now, I think it's an inspired combination - thanks, mom! also love this in salad dressings.

4. italian parsley. kind of a workhorse - it adds a splash of "fresh" to anything.
(these first four are what we have growing in the pot above - definite favorites!)

5. rosemary. goes well with garlic. especially good with olive oil, salt & pepper, (and garlic) as a dip for bread.

6. cilantro. my favorite add-in for guacamole and all things mexican. my sister also showed me that it's great in a gin & tonic (with clementines!).

7. tarragon. for chicken salad.

8. mint. for iced tea. or cocktails.

9. sage. with chicken and stuffing, it smells like thanksgiving to me!

10. lavender. not to eat, but to smell. I have a tissue box holder in my bathroom that's filled with it and a few sachets in my dresser drawers. love it!

(whew, made it to 10 without having to try very hard!)
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Monday, July 4, 2011

happy 4th.

at hembree park this morning
happy 4th of july! not much of a breeze this morning and it's already 75 degrees. guess we're well on our way to the forecast high of 95.

I'll be spending most of my day inside - a few house chores, then knitting and (re)watching john adams (we started it last night but I fell asleep before the first episode ended!) while marc plays golf. we've got steaks to grill and fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil for my favorite salad. and once it gets dark, we've got sparklers and fireworks on the dvr.

enjoy your day!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

focus friday. one little word update.

...I know I say this all the time, but really. time flies! I can't believe it's been nearly three months since I last posted about the one little word project. I've certainly thought about it, and planned it ... and today I'm finally doing it!

LOVE LOVE LOVE toodledo!
first up, may. a template to document the "stuff to tackle". the prompt really appealed to me... a to-do list is right up my alley! I listed five things:
  1. find a to-do list application to synch between my mac and my iphone
  2. start planning projects a month at a time
  3. finish kim klassen's photoshop essentials class
  4. get back into my dark-early study/reflection habit (i.e., getting up at 4:45 am); and
  5. finish my big picture definition.

all of these had due dates in june and I felt energized and confident about working through them.  
my may spread - a photoshopped photo of our oak leaf hydrangea on the left and the list on the right
on june 1, I set my alarm for 4:45 am and got up! (it's 5:30 am on the weekends). I found toodledo on june 4 and had the app loaded to my iphone and tasks created shortly afterwards. I laid out the month of june (knitting projects, class preparations, "homemaking", etc) and got those tasks into the app, too.

so far, so good.

and then we went to hilton head and I decided to teach a new lace shawl class at the shop and my sunday sweater workshop students are getting really good and I need to knit two sweaters a month to keep (ever-so-slightly) ahead of them.

I didn't visit kim's photoshop class once.

but I was not going to let that big picture thing hang around for another month - and I really wanted the outcomes from that work. to know that my time and energy are aligned with my priorities. it came to me on wednesday while I was knitting (5 rows of garter stitch trim around the edges of vitamin gray - I love how simple knitting frees up my mind to work on other things!) that note to self I wrote back in april included a definition of the future me, where I hoped I'd be a year from now. and I realized that my big picture is just about making that future me a reality. hunh. yep, that's it. pretty simple. I have no idea why it took me so long to figure out.

ali's june prompt was to create nine baseball card-sized works of art representing our word. she shared hers and video that showed her making them. it was awesome - she sat down with what seemed like not a lot of supplies and created beautiful pieces. I kept procrastinating. not only was I intimated about creating, but I feel like my word is a process, not a thing, and it's hard to evoke.

and after wednesday's revelation, what I really wanted to do was get that big picture down on paper.  I collected supplies and sat down to work.

I didn't end up using much of anything I collected. but I like the results. it's simple. straightforward. and I think, still in keeping with the prompt's intent. and doing it really helped me internalize the words.
my june spread
love that my blog fits, too, as a way to document my story and stay connected. thank you all for reading, and especially for all your words of encouragement!

in closing, here's a look at the album pages so far... I think it's time to start thinking about an album for them.