Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekending.

...is it really Monday already? how was your weekend? here's a quick peek into mine:

Friday afternoon I spent an hour at the Bobbi Brown counter with Kelly. She showed me some new tricks with concealer and bronzer and eye liner and I left feeling so pretty! I tried to recreate the look on my own yesterday; I need more practice before you get to see it on me!

Then I met a few friends for a glass of wine. Haven't done a Friday Happy Hour in a long time and it was delightful. Here's a waterlogue of the stunning tulips growing outside the restaurant where we met.

Saturday morning I took Pilates and met Virginia after for coffee, knitting and conversation. Love that this is going to be a new routine for us this spring.

Saturday afternoon I watched the first episode of the BBC's North and South and decided I'm going to watch this one and skip the Craft Lit audio. I finished the first Florence Scarf and started the second one (this one is purple).

Marc and I made roasted vegetables with kale for dinner and watched basketball (y'all know that means I knitted :-)

Sunday morning was clear and cold. I'm glad to say goodbye to the rain for a bit. I noticed that the trees are starting to green up. Seriously? Seems like they just blossomed. and 30-something degree mornings still seems like winter.

Sunday school (not my turn to teach, which is always more relaxing), church and then the memorial service for a friend's husband. He was only 56 and left behind two sons still in college. I expected much sadness, but it wasn't. The readings and the hymns were beautiful (especially because the sanctuary looks out onto full-blooming cherry trees) and two of his friends told stories that had the whole congregation laughing out loud.

I enjoyed some quiet alone time yesterday afternoon. A little bit of knitting and reading and another sunny walk with Holly. Went to bed early and slept soundly. It feels good to wake up Monday morning after a good night's rest!

Off to walk Holly, and then it's our "hill run" and yoga. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Currents | March 2014.

...is anyone else feeling like 2014 is a blur?  We're about to turn the page on yet another month. I have a feeling April and May are going to speed by too, but before that happens, I want to capture what the last few days of March are looking like.
waterlogged from Tuesday's morning walk
Choosing quiet, dark early time. I've really struggled with the time change this year. I'm finally starting to get back some of the energy I usually feel for the day but it's still a conscious choice each morning to get out of bed so I have the time I need to journal and study.

Hoping spring is finally here.

Planning our sixth visit to Beaufort, South Carolina. We skipped last year (too much wedding preparation to allow a weekend away); will be fun to see what's new...and what's still the same.

Enjoying the Women in the Gospels bible study we're doing at church through Lent. This is the first study like this we've done - women only, led by one of our women pastors. There's nothing like a thought-provoking bible story to foster meaningful discussion.

Reading more than usual. After Tuesday's post, I got completely sucked into finishing The Orchid House; happy tears through the ending! Now I'm determined to finish A Wedding in December before the next round of book club books starts. I'm also savoring When Women Were Birds and slowly re-reading Thomas Moore's The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life.

Knitting the same things I shared last week, although there has been noticeable progress on Tsubasa (all I have left is neck and arm bands and two seams) and the first linen scarf (I've got a 2" ball of yarn left to knit on the first one). Wednesday I started a Traveling Woman (this is my fifth!) for my prayer pal at church and yesterday I bought yarn for and started another Sundry. This one is for a friend whose husband passed away on Wednesday. It makes me happy that I can create something beautiful to show these women how much they mean to me.

Watching nothing. Marc was away this week and I never turned on the TV. I will be watching Mad Men and Mr. Selfridge...maybe even in real time!

Listening to a backlog of Dinner Party Download and Selected Shorts podcasts. I now have about a dozen podcasts that I listen to regularly and I'm finding it hard to stay caught up. I also have five or six weeks of Craft Lit (Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South) waiting, too.

Eating kale and avocados, strawberries and greek yogurt (and a little less popcorn).

Drinking red wine (still). coffee (of course). and more water.

Wearing my pajamas, but it's nearly time to get changed for yoga... and once I finally get dressed (hopefully before lunch), I'll wear black jeans, a chambray shirt and my Meadow shawl.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | What I've Been Reading.

...Carole's prompt this week asks us to report on the last ten books we've read.

I'm not going to look back before this year (I'm sure many of y'all read a lot more and this exercise might be just what you've read this month!), but 2014 is off to a pretty good start for me with two five star books and an even mix of four and three stars. I haven't read anything I didn't enjoy and some of what I've read I've really loved.

Here's the list so far:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - a favorite of mine for many years and I finished up a re-listen with the Craft Lit podcast back in January. This was Brenda Dayne's recording and she did an excellent job with it. I previously listened to Elizabeth Klett's recording on Librivox and enjoyed that one, too. I'd listen to either of these ladies read just about anything!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - recommended by Ann Kingman on the Books on the Nightstand podcast. This is my favorite new book of the year:
I loved this! laughed out loud and even teared up a few times. highly recommend. I also loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. something about the way the characters (on the autistic spectrum and highly functioning) see the world and can stay so focused fascinates me.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona, Countess of Carnavon - the January selection for my church's book club. A solid four stars and I hope to read the sequel eventually. Here's what I said about it on Goodreads:
surprisingly charmed. I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey, but have to say, the real Carnavon family is just as interesting or maybe even more so (since they're real!) This was a pick for my church bookclub and I was only about 50 pages into the book when we had our meeting. The discussion intrigued me and I finished the book just a few days later. I had no idea about the link with King Tut (saw that exhibit in San Francisco many years ago... can't imagine what it would've been like to discover it!) or that Highclere was really a hospital in WWI. was fun seeing some of the Downton Abbey characters (and names) pop up in the book...Julian Fellowes had a great roadmap!
The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III - the February selection for my neighborhood book club. It was published in the late 1990's and surprisingly many of us had never read it (or seen the movie, me included on both counts). The late 1990's means pre-9/11 and a time when people made phone calls from pay phones. We had an interesting discussion about how - or even if - this story would play out now. I gave it four stars:
I wasn't familiar with the story or the ending...but I could tell from about about page 5 that it wasn't going to end well. I thought about abandonding it midway through (I didn't think I was ready for a book without a happy ending) and then read the ending. I was surprised by the last five pages, so decided to stick with it to see how it got there. Whoa. crazy ride. And in the end, I'm glad I read it all. I loved the writing. The contrast of cultures came through so clearly. I also felt I understood why the characters did what they did...in spite of their actions being very foreign to me.
Broken Land, A Brooklyn Tale by John Biscello:
I downloaded it for free because it was set in Brooklyn and the blurb sounded interesting. I was captivated by the story that reminded me a bit of The Gargoyle (which I loved). giving this one only 4 stars because I wanted it to be longer and more developed. if a sequel comes out I'll read it!

The Good House by Ann Leary:
3.5 stars. First book for the new bookclub in my neighborhood. Parts were hard to read like "oh, I know this isn't going to turn out well..." and I'd put it down, but a few hours later I'd be ready to pick it up again to see what happened. It's a good discussion book for sure.
The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere - 3 stars: a sweet story. and a nice palate cleanser after House of Sand and Fog!

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers - I planned to read this before we saw Saving Mr. Banks at Christmas, but I didn't get all the way through until last month. And I gave it only 3 stars:
I love the movie and had high expectations for the book. Sadly, I thought it was just OK. The "Saving Mr Banks" theme was hard to find (maybe I just missed it?!) and a few of the children's adventures with Mary were downright weird (Christmas shopping with one of the Pleiades?)
And since that's only eight, I'm also including two books I haven't quite finished.

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve - my mom really enjoyed this and I trust her recommendations more than the not-so-great reviews on Goodreads. I'm about halfway through and really enjoying it. This is a hardback book and it's on my nightstand...which means I don't actually read more than a few pages a day so it's going slowly!

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley - the April selection for my neighborhood book club (which meets next week). A few of my neighbors have already finished it and the reviews are all good. If I weren't trying to finish Tsubasa and blog more often, I might be done too!

So that's it! I'm always on the lookout for book recommendations and look forward to getting some good ones from y'all today.

click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekending.

...it certainly looks like spring, even if it doesn't feel like it right now. It's a chilly 34 degrees outside and I can only hope the sun warms up before my run. Or perhaps I was simply over-optimistic when I washed and put away my running gloves and hat?
oh yeah! snapped these photos on my drive home yesterday afternoon with sun roof open
Saturday morning I was up early and took a Pilates class. My first in months and it was great. I was sore in some new places, so I know I worked muscles that the yoga isn't getting. I hope I can make that class and the coffee/knitting meet up with my friend Virginia that followed a Saturday morning routine for the next few weeks.

Katie picked me up in the afternoon and we went shopping. She's searching for fabric to recover her dining room chairs; we didn't find what she wanted. But I did find a new salad spinner and great sales at J Crew and Ann Taylor...

Marc and I ate roasted vegetables on salad for dinner and watched basketball. Well, I kind of watched and mostly knitted and looked at things on Ravelry.

Yesterday was another dark early morning. I'm still not used to how late the sun comes up...but I am enjoying the sunrises! I went to the 8:30 service with Katie & Rob and then led the high school Sunday School class. The lesson was about the "lost parables" in Luke 15. We had a good discussion about the seemingly small choices that can lead to getting lost...and how easy and hard it can be to get found. The kids were really engaged with the prodigal son story; many of them identify with the "good" brother and it was fun to see them connect that parable with real life.

I had more time to knit after church and then picked up Katie for my afternoon knitting class (she's become a fairly regular attendee and I so love that time with her!) This was my first Sunday class in weeks and I was delighted to have four students...who hadn't gotten into anything too bad in the meantime! There were a few new finished projects and a lot of talk about what to knit next. We're excited about the upcoming Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL (I don't know too much about it yet, but it starts next month, Martin Storey designed the pattern and it uses their new worsted super wash wool). Three of us picked out yarn (and yes, I was one of the three!)

I got home just in time for more basketball (saw the end of the Wichita State game and I am really glad I'm not playing the bracket game this year - yikes!)  Marc made paleo mexican chicken soup for dinner and we watched Notting Hill for maybe the third time (this month). I love that movie!

The movie and basketball have been great for my knitting - I'm well into the second (of two) balls on the Florence wrap and have started the neck shaping on Tsubasa.

Hope your weekends were sun-filled and productive... and let's hope the same for this upcoming week, too! Have a great one!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five on Friday | Today's Loves.

...daffodils. sadly not in my yard, but around my neighborhood there are huge plantings with dozens of blooms. It is hard not to smile when you see a field of daffodils.

also, 

chambray shirts. I own three, all (slightly!) different, and I've been wearing them in constant rotation. under sweaters, over cropped pants, with boots, with flats... and with all my knitted neckwear. It's a lesson in minimalism for me. Three shirts, two pairs of pants, a half dozen scarves...and I can be dressed for over a week!

Costco's Kirkland wines, especially their Napa Cabernet. I opened my last bottle of this tonight to accompany our tasty "leftovers and salad" menu (maybe I'll tell y'all next week about Marc's latest diet). I'm also hoping that the weather gods see that I'm drinking that last bottle of Cab and decide to send spring.

Longer days. I still feel like a slug in the morning (sunrise is after 7:30 am here!) but having it light at 7:45 pm while I type this almost makes up for that.

and finally, all the love, prayers and good wishes y'all have shared for my dad's recovery and the new little one who'll be joining our family next fall. thank you!

Happy Weekend! what are you loving TODAY?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What I'm Knitting.

…whoa, that look back to my blog from March 2009 made blogging look so effortless. I'm still working to find that (new) groove. Maybe an update on what I'm knitting would be a good place to start.

Yes, it helps that the pile is small. Just three projects. and if I'd written this post last Thursday (as planned :-) it would've been only one. Seems I'm flirting with monogamy. and that might be a weird mixed metaphor and I apologize. It also helps (I think) that the sun made a full appearance this afternoon. Everything looks better - and more promising! - in sunshine.

First up, Tsubasa. This is a lace-front tunic with just a little bit of sleeve that Michele Wang designed for the Spring Amirisu. My LYS doesn't carry the Shelter she suggests, but we have plenty of Shibui Heichi and I love that yarn knit at the pattern's 4 st/in. I had three skeins in my stash and added five more (I hope that's enough). I cast this on last month but didn't knit much on it until recently. Now I'm almost done and we have a Shibui event at the shop in early April. I am going to wear this then. (hold me to it!)

Next, the first of four Florence scarves, one for me and my three travel companions. This is my only real deadline project - I need to have all four scarves done by May 7. I started this one last weekend and the deadline seems do-able. we'll see! It helps that this is my social knitting.  I'm only going to finish these if I actually KNIT on them (a lot. soon).

and last but by no means least… a baby blanket.

for my first grandchild. due in September. I've had my eye on this pattern since it came out and I am excited beyond all … to finally be knitting it. Sometimes it's hard to knit…I just need to admire.


and yeah, little baby Tieman is going to be decked out in all manner of knitting. Katie and Rob find out if it's a boy or a girl next month. Stay tuned. my knitting resolutions are out the window!

p.s. my first baby knit was a pair of booties so Katie could announce the baby on Instagram.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Five Years Ago.

…yesterday's prompt, "five years ago", sent me on a nice trip down memory lane. There were so many good memories: Sara's high school tennis (she was a junior that spring), a weekend away in Beaufort with my sister and mom, cooking, knitting, reading, and planning for two trips. Sara and I went to New York City that April for her spring break and Katie and I went to Paris that May to celebrate her college graduation.
trip planning, 2014 
Fast forward five years and now Sara and I are planning a trip to Paris and Florence to celebrate her college graduation in May. We will spend three nights in Paris, take the night train to Florence (through Milan) and then spend six nights in Florence. I've never been to Florence, but it was one of Sara's favorite cities when she studied abroad in 2012; she's taking the lead on planning that part of our trip. She did spend a few days in Paris on that study abroad trip, but they were taking finals and she doesn't remember much. Thankfully, she did get to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so we don't need to do that. And it's been five years since I was there… I'm curious to see what's changed.

Yesterday afternoon, we laid out a map with the places to see, do and eat. Hopefully the weather will be nice because we're planning to spend one evening at the Eiffel Tower and another at Montmartre. We'll also get to the Musee d'Orsay on Thursday evening. In between, we're planning to walk a lot, enjoy picnics at the Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries and along the river, see a few more museums and maybe a shop or two, and sit in cafes…people watching is one of my favorite things to do wherever I go!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday | Signs of Spring.

…I'm back home and slowly (but surely) getting back into the groove. I timed my return well…I'm just in time for Spring! Here's a quick look at five sure signs of the new season.

Cherry trees in full bloom.

Daffodils!

Clearing skies after a rainy day.

Tiny shoots of green in the front bed.

And a short sleeved silk pullover on the needles.

 I hope it's getting sunny and warmer where you are, too! Happy Weekend!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Follow Your Arrow.

finished and photographed…and blogged!

Thank goodness I don't have Carole's rule about blogging before wearing. This shawl has been wrapped around my shoulders a lot these past weeks, sitting at the hospital.

I have mixed feelings about mystery knit-alongs. For the most part, I've had good experiences, but I like to know what I'm getting up front. It takes someone like Ysolda to get me hooked without knowing. This one had special appeal because she was releasing two versions of each of the five clues. I'm a sucker for choose your own adventure!

I managed the first few clues on track (the clues came out weekly, on Mondays and I finished them the following weekend) but the snow and the news about my dad slowed me down mid-way. At one point I put this project on the back burner (to finish my Pebble Gradient) and wasn't even committed to finishing it. But then the FOs started showing up on Ravelry and I got sucked back in.

I worked through the last two clues in under a week and got it blocked before I left home. I even snuck in a few modeled photos on Madeline.

We had sunshine the day after I arrived here and I'm sure the neighbors wondered about me wandering my parents' yard and hanging the shawl on bushes. But you needed to see the whole thing and I couldn't think of anything better!

I started with clue A which was asymmetrical. I really enjoyed that beginning, but it's one thing I'd change if I do it again (and I definitely might). All the other clues I chose were symmetrical and what I'd call "traditional" lace. My favorite clue was 4A which started with a very cool "3 into 5" stitch. It reminds me of half daisies and just makes me smile.
that 3 into 5 stitch formed the corners
There are more details on my Ravelry page (here), but for quick reference, I did clues AABAA (and I'd do BAAAA if I do it again, that would be symmetrical and just a bit different from the one I did).

I finished two more shawls since I've been here and got them blocked this afternoon. I plan to wear the one I knit bedside tomorrow … when we take the "Thank You from the former residents of room 2146" cake to the nursing staff. Yep, he's home! and doing well. We cannot thank y'all enough for all your prayers and good wishes. (and I promise I'll share both those finished projects here… once I'm home).

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Word Wednesday | Same.


…if you're still reading, I assume you won't mind that I'm adding a few more words. yes that's the same chair as last week and yes it's the same knitting. Thankfully, my dad has made some good progress in the last 48 hours and I am confident next Wednesday's post won't be the same! Thank you so much for all your good thoughts and prayers…we feel them!

and for Margene, the waterlogued bouquets in the background. ♥

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Looking Back | February.

…through the lens of my daily photo.  Again, I followed the fatmumslim daily prompts, trying to be mindful of the lessons I shared last month.


Overall, I think that mindfulness helped to bring a better balance to the month: knitting, seasons, food & drink, reading and a few other things.

I was surprised about: 
::the lack of color - two of the photos were deliberately black and white…many of the rest just are.
::the prevalence of Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow knit-along (four photos) - not because I didn't get a bit obsessed with it and work on it a lot…but because I managed to make it work for four prompts!
::books (five photos) - I read more than usual and even finished two books.

Here's the rest of the story:
::From Where I Stand (1 photo) - flip flops. in February. yep, I'm in Florida!
::Other Selfies (4 photos) - love the one from the 19th with my feet outside the covers (yep, Florida again!)
::Knitting (7 photos) - four projects, two of which I finished…and none of which I've shared here!
::Holly (2 photos) - out for a walk and ready for bed; we did a lot of that last month.
::Food & Drink (7 photos) - two lunches, three dinners, one glass of wine, one beer and two cocktails. Love the diversity, but sorry there weren't any real "meals". That was kind of how the month was, though.
::Inside/Outside - 24 photos were taken indoors, two of those looking out a window. I think that's pretty typical of winter.
::SNOW! - just one photo, but it was around for almost a week.

And what I missed:
::Project Life and One Little Word - no photos and really not much happened. I'm feeling behind on both now and that will be a focus for March. I hate having to play catchup.
::People - even I barely show up this month. A continued miss and I really do want to get better about it!

In all, though, I think the collage tells a pretty good story of my February. Expect to see less inside for March and lot more color. Spring is coming for sure!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the Winner Is.

…comment #16

Sue!

I honestly can't remember if we met first on Ravelry or on Instagram. Doesn't matter. We share a love of faithful (and photogenic!) dogs, knitting and tea. I can only hope we get to meet in person some day. Of course if we meet where she lives, it will have to be some day…in summer!

Sue, please send me your address and I'll get that skein of yarn in the mail (just as soon as I get home).

I loved reading the comments from everyone - a few of you were new names to me and I'm so glad you joined in the conversation. I hope you'll comment again (and I'd love to know how to reply to you directly with an email address or Ravelry ID).

Thank you all!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Five on Friday | Good Things.


…oops, ran out of time to post this list yesterday, but I'm not going to let that stop me from calling it a Five on Friday! Finding it's helpful to spend a few minutes every morning thinking about the good things when there is so much going on right now that's…not so good*. This is the list from yesterday:

1. A warm sunshine-filled forecast for the weekend. Today it's supposed to get into the 70's.

2. Watching Jeopardy. My folks are huge fans of the show and I always enjoy catching up with it when I visit. This week there's a new big winner, Andrew Chu. I googled him yesterday and found this article about him live-tweeting the episodes. Kind of fun to follow along the drama!

3. Crossword puzzles. Another of my mom's favorite activities and a great way to pass hospital time. She regularly works the Wall Street Journal and New York Observer puzzles (on paper) and finished the ones she had last weekend. I figured there were probably lots of iPad apps and sure enough, we loaded the (free) New York Times app and have actually completed a few.

4. Waterloguing our morning walks. It's re-framed the walk for me, searching for the perfect view. I'm especially pleased with Thursday's (above) and Friday's (which the Waterlogue team favorited!)

5. Knitting. I'm making noticeable progress on multiple projects (despite the twinges in my shoulder). These two projects were barely started last weekend…and now they're more than half done!
Mink Mitts (a birthday gift for a special friend)
Sundry
How about you? What good did you find yesterday?

*my dad is still in the hospital and we have no idea when he'll be coming home or what the next steps will be. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and good wishes. They're helping more than you know!