Thursday, December 31, 2015

Throwback Thursday | New Year's Eve.

...1998. We were at a party in the neighborhood and I remember the Black and White theme and that Katie didn't attend with us (but I don't remember why).




Tonight's festivities won't be anywhere near as dressed up, but it will again be the three of us. We're planning a nice dinner, a little football, and a few cocktails...at home.  A perfect way to ring in 2016!

Wishing all of you a safe and celebratory beginning to the New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Year in Review | 2015.

...I've been wanting to put together a post like this since I first saw it on Vicki's blog a few years ago.  She shared her 2015 review a few weeks back and it's been top of mind since then.  The idea - thank you Vicki! - is to share the first line of the first blog post of each month and a favorite photo from that month's post. The two are not necessarily related.

January 2015

I know it's only the third day of 2015 but I already feel behind.


February 2015

I just shared this photo on Instagram.


March 2015

I've been enjoying Barb's (mostly) weekly Sunday Sundries not only for the beautiful photography but also the simple idea of sharing a short list of celebrations.


April 2015

Spring is here in full force!


May 2015

porch views (#porchview on Instagram) and park views - it's time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air!


June 2015

holy smokes, how is it Monday already?


July 2015

coming to you from the Madison airport (where hopefully I won't have enough time to get on a first name basis with the bartender before Sara arrives to pick me up)!


August 2015

I didn't quite make it by the end of July but I came close.


September 2015

it's great to be back with Carole, who just returned from two weeks at the beach.


October 2015

Limited sunshine, too much rain and what felt like it might be a cold but was maybe just allergies and today is the first day of this new month - my favorite! - that really feels like OCTOBER.


November 2015

The costume was Katie's idea, inspired by one of Charlie's favorite stuffed animals - Henry the Fox.


December 2015

thanks to Sunday's deadline knitting (which I did finish - thank you all for your encouragement!), this week's newsletter and a long list of to-do's, I got myself comfortable with holding off on the holiday decorations until Friday.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | Looking back with Pride.

...today, Carole's asked us to share ten things we did this year that we are proud of.
from last December - the image that prompted me to choose Present for this year's word
In no particular order, here are mine:

1. Followed through with my Present intentions (mostly, on most days anyway) ... as I look over the rest of this list, I'm happy to see elements of those intentions in all of them.

2. Tuesdays with Charlie. and yay - I get to continue them into 2016!

3. Daily yoga

4. and 10,000 steps.

5. I credit both of those with helping me recover from elbow and hamstring injuries (and getting me in better shape to be 50-something years old).

6. Reading a lot of books. I completed Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge and another round of BotNS Bingo. Both expanded my reading world into new genres (Romance, Non-fiction, even Fantasy) and gave me different perspectives on themes I'd previously avoided (racism, domestic violence, poverty, science :-) ... and I enjoyed nearly all of it. I'm actually setting a goal to read less in 2016...but to continue to read harder. Stay tuned for more on my plans for the 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

7. Blogging more. This post is my 205th for the year, so I'll end the year with 207. I'm planning to continue posting at least five days a week from here on out. This platform is hands-down my favorite way to share photos and updates with friends and family ... and I love being part of such a warm, caring and fun on-line community!

8. Bi-weekly newsletters for the shop. The feedback we're getting from customers, vendors and designers has been really positive ... and I'm finally starting to enjoy more than dread "Newsletter Thursdays".

9. Connecting and re-connecting with extended family members...cousins and an aunt...and looking forward to nurturing those relationships more in the coming year.

10. Finding my niche at church. I began the year a bit over-extended, but I've successfully handed off the leadership role for my women's circle and teaching high school Sunday school and ended my three-year term as a Deacon. Which leaves me with the Prayer Shawl Ministry...and it's thriving!

...and whew. Thank you, Carole for the chance to look back on so many positives from 2015. I look forward to sharing more in everyone else's successes, too. Click here if you aren't already part of the Ten on Tuesday fun!


Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015.

...let me start right off and say - no, we did not re-create that photo. but I'm more than pleased with the ones we have.

Christmas Day was just us...at Charlie's house. I shared this first photo on Instagram and I think it sums up our day pretty well. Lots of Charlie and his new toys.


Also no pants (or, if you're a grown up, shorts) and bare feet.

We made a fabulous dinner - roasted pork loin, salad, cheese grits, roasted broccoli and that cranberry cheesecake which did turn out just fine! - and agreed it might be better than Thanksgiving...except no pie...

Saturday was our family get-together. We took a lot of photos and it amazes me how hard it can be to get six people (and one dog) to smile...at the same time...at the camera.


Yesterday we rested. Seriously, my FitBit says I took two naps...and got eight hours of sleep. Perfect beginning for a day that featured Girls Lunch Out at our favorite Bistro VG.

 Jillian, Karen, Sara, me, Katie and Lydia
Tomorrow is a newsletter day. I think it's gonna be harder than usual to get myself in gear. Thankfully, I've already taken the photos (and I've already cast on the featured project).

Hope you had a wonderful holiday...and got at least one great photo!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

me, Christmas 1963, at my grandparents' house in Alabama
...there is nothing like a child's delight on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas! (or happy Friday!)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday | Christmas Eve.

...1996. It's hard for me to believe that was 20 years ago;  until I look at those four young faces and realize that many years have surely passed.

I'm thinking it would be fun to re-create this photo tomorrow. Wish me luck!

And wishing a very merry Christmas Eve to everyone who celebrates (and to those who don't, a festive Thursday evening!)!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ten on Tuesday (ish) | Making Lists.

...holiday preparations are in high gear around here. Not that you could tell if you happened to catch a glimpse inside my house today. It was my last Tuesday with Charlie until next year (which really means just a one week break but still) and I took full advantage of snuggles

and tree tempting

and blocks (captured late this afternoon, after I finally managed to forage all the pieces from under the sofa and kitchen cabinets ... and put them back neatly).

We also read all the holiday books under our tree (there are only four and his favorite is still the Little Blue Truck, but I think the Too Many Mittens is gaining ground and I might hold it out through "winter" just so we can enjoy it a few more times).

Mindful about Carole's prompt and all the things I'm looking forward to next week:

1. no alarm

2. binge-watching TV (not sure yet what show(s) that will be... that's in Sara's court)

3. extended family time (snuggling on the couch with Sara!)

4. lunches out

5. knitting and reading (I still have three Christmas books from last year that I haven't opened)

I can't help but focus on my must-do's for the next two days:

1. grocery shopping

2. wrapping gifts

3. cleaning up

4. cranberry cheesecake (Christmas dinner dessert; I haven't made it in at least ten years, but I promise, if it turns out, I'll share the recipe)

5. blocking Tokyo (yep, the knitting is done and the ends are in...and maybe there will be a bit more light tomorrow morning so I can see to weave in the wires).

Hope these last few days before the Big One are treating you well... and that you saw more light today. We didn't have much light outside, but thankfully, my house was plenty bright today!

Click here to join Carole's Ten on Tuesday fun!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spring.

...yesterday afternoon, Lauren, her daughter Madeline and I attended the closing performance of Uh Oh, Here Comes Christmas at my church. The play is based on Robert Fulghum's book of that same title. It was all very well done; kind of amazing how much a cast of only seven in a very small theater can do.

But one song, close to the end, really stuck with me.  I always think of Winter beginning on the Solstice, but now, I think I like this interpretation better.

Monday morning
Spring

Spring begins tonight,
the longest night of the year.
The books may tell you otherwise,
but I say Spring is here.
My soul basks in the warmth
of this cold December night,
when our corner of the Earth
tilts gently toward the light.

Other living things
have tuned in to this change.
Look closely at the snowbound trees --
you'll notice something strange:
tiny buds, translucent green,
are poised on every bough,
ready for the springtime dance
toward light and life, even now.

The calves and lambs and fawns
that will be next Spring's brood
fill the wombs of mothers who paw
at the snow in search of food.
Young women's winter coats
begin to bulge and strain,
as the growing fruits of summer love
become more and more plain.

Beneath the frozen soil
are other signs of Spring:
seeds are fracturing urgently --
new life is happening.
This is not the dead of Winter,
but the birth of Springtime, when
the sharp green edge of invincible life
cuts through the dark again.

And I'm a little part
of this Solstice celebration,
which is older than Christmas
and deeper than civilization.
Now as we make merry
in this season of joyful birth,
I will reach again for life with the other
beings on this Earth.

Spring begins tonight,
though it may not appear it;
for me, it is a rebirth of wonder
and a revival of spirit.
And tomorrow morning,
when the longest night is done,
something ancient and deep will stir in me,
and my face will tilt toward the sun.

Saturday afternoon
Sadly, our weather is not cooperating with the images this piece evokes - this morning looks more like the longest night. But the sun did shine gloriously this weekend; it was good to feel that warmth and light on my face.

Today, I've got baking and knitting planned. Both excellent ways to spend a chilly wet day. Hope your Monday - and your Spring! - is off to a bright start, too!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Holiday Program.

...was a blast. as only 75 toddlers singing Christmas, Kwanza and Hanukah songs (in English and Spanish) can be. Charlie's class was the last to arrive. He was confused at first.

until he saw us, sitting front and center!

Here's a snippet of their second song - Cascabel.

We loved the antlers, but Charlie, not so much.

Apparently, he doesn't smile when he wears them. (thankfully his mama and I have no trouble smiling...but we aren't wearing antlers, are we?!)


Charlie's favorite part of the entire production was the cookie (I told you he has his appetite back!)

I was lucky to get a little taste. and, I guess, very lucky Katie caught the moment.
turns out he can smile with antlers on!
Wishing you a wonderful weekend - hopefully not nearly as hectic as the 26 seconds of that video!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday | 1980.

...the first year that Marc and I spent Christmas together (at my parents' house in New Jersey).
my dad, my mom, me and Marc
That tree-top ornament just above my mom's head is the one that's on my bird tree now.

I'm not even gonna do the math to figure out how old we all were then. But I know we were all younger than Marc and I are now...and that seems crazy. As does all that hair (well on my dad and Marc...and not so much on me :-)

Thank you all so much for your get well wishes. I am happy to report that Charlie is pretty much back to himself (with three times daily breathing treatments). He was able to take part in his school holiday program this afternoon. I promise I will have photos - and maybe even a video! - to share tomorrow.

But now I have to run - I'm hosting bookclub ... in 30 minutes!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tokyo Shawl | Home Stretch.

...I was tempted to simply share the photos, but dinner is in the slow cooker and I spent all afternoon knitting. So you get a few words, too.
It's been months since you've seen Tokyo all spread out, so I figured that was a good place to start. I'm delighted to see that it's going to be BIG. Not only wide, but also long.  


I've since finished that gray band and below are the remaining colors (not in order, sorry). It feels pretty great to finish a band, break the yarn and know I won't be using it again. Also, to know there are only four more bands (three wide and one narrow) and then a four-row garter edge.


I'm saying it now - this piece is going to be done for Christmas! (maybe even Christmas Eve).

...and as I type this, I realize how nice it is to not be knitting holiday gifts like a crazy person. Maybe my new tradition will be an epic project for me to wear for the holidays!

I also realize it's been ages since I shared anything here about knitting plans. You know I have them. Just need them to stay still long enough so I can capture them in words.

Do you have something special planned to knit after the holidays?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | Grocery Store Gifts.

...it's nearly midnight. Today didn't turn out like I planned...and I was ok with skipping a blog post. But as I left the grocery store at 10:15, and then snapped a very sneaky photo of the ice cream I left in Katie's freezer*...I figured what the heck.

Carole's prompt today is about gifts we can pickup at the grocery store. Here goes:

1. ice cream, gelato, sorbet (obviously, this only works if you can quickly get your gift to a freezer, ideally very close to the recipient ;-) but if you can, and you nail their favorite flavors...well, this is a slam dunk. especially if their favorite flavors are hard to come by, or you manage to find a boutique brand.

2. an orchid.

3. flowers.

4. chocolates.

5. wine.

6. beer.

7. trashy magazines. (was my house the only one where Santa had to make a special Christmas Eve stop to be sure the trash was up-to-date?!)

and I'm stopping here. I can't recall any last-minute gift that I couldn't have managed without one of those seven ... or maybe two of them.

I hope it's not bad that I wish you all happy shopping...someplace besides the grocery store - but if you do end up there, I hope you find the perfect gift!

If you're not already playing along with Carole's Ten on Tuesday fun, click here to join.

Happy Shopping!

*Charlie's sick. He needed a day home in his pajamas, so I spent the day at Katie's. We read, played soccer, built Lego towers,and walked laps around the kitchen table. But he did not eat. Katie and I traded texts this evening and we both thought ice cream might do the trick. I said I'd bring gelato. Fingers crossed he likes at least one of these!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weekending.

...mid-December style.

Charlie had his first visit with Santa Friday afternoon* and I was lucky enough to tag along.  Then I picked up Holly from the vet (she was a pooped puppy after grooming, shots, and having her teeth cleaned).

Saturday morning Lauren and I spied a decorated tree at the park - and a nice woman walking behind us took our photo.

Saturday evening, we had our first sleepover with Charlie (while his parents enjoyed a much-needed night away). He did better than I thought he would...as did we! I pulled out a few of the wooden toys we had under the tree when the girls were small. The boys had fun with the blocks. And how about that thank you from Katie (yes, she did the lettering herself ♥)

I pulled two FOs off the blocking board... not that the dress form needs a sweater AND a scarf - it's been unseasonably warm here (I'm not complaining - but it might a few more days before I get to wear those pieces!). Sunday morning church was beautiful. The Christmas music program ended with everyone singing Joy to the World, accompanied by all the instruments.

And finally, last night's dinner. Butternut squash ravioli with sage browned butter sauce and an orange pecan salad. Marc cleaned his plate (twice!).

*the photo above was the last one I took.  The visit didn't start off nearly that well:

Truly, screaming Santa photos might be my favorite!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Currents | December 2015.

Tokyo Shawl, last night - freshly dumped out of its bag...and no clue where I'd left it
Remembering (finally!) where I was on the Tokyo Shawl when I set it aside months ago. Turns out I was further along than I thought - the 19th (of 29) band. And now I'm almost to band 20.

Loving that I actually might have that piece finished for the new year!

Planning for hosting next week's holiday bookclub. We didn't read a book, but I'm sure there will be plenty of book talk. and wine. and hopefully fun - we're having an ornament exchange.

Eating pizza. because Friday night. I bought a plain cheese pizza and plan to dress it up with assorted wild mushrooms and spicy turkey sausage. and a nice bottle of wine (because Friday night).

Reading Don't Lets Go To the Dogs Tonight. This is a re-read, but I don't remember much about it except that I enjoyed it. I picked up the sequel in the last Audible sale and decided to refresh my memory before I listen.

Listening to Christmas music. and a few podcasts.

Watching Homeland (still - this might be my favorite season so far). I also just finished Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, season 3 (you know I love happy endings and I have to say I cried through the last five minutes of that last episode). Netflix thought I might also enjoy Midsomer Murders and I saw there are 18 (!!!!) seasons - have you watched?

Enjoying the holiday season. Thankful my calendar isn't jam-packed and I have time to simply be...with the twinkle lights and the music.

Looking forward to seeing Sara...in just two weeks!

Needing a good photo for our New Year's card, but

Letting go of the idea that it needs to be "great".

Wondering what 2016 will bring.

How about you, what's current in your world?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Daily Yoga | 200 Days.

...it's been nearly five months since I shared more of my Daily Yoga story here. That last update, on July 22 marked 60 days in a row. Yesterday, I hit 200.

I haven't missed a day since May 23. Most days it's fifteen minutes while the coffee brews or just before bed, but almost every Wednesday it's an hour of Yin at the Y.  I worked through an elbow and hamstring injury and started back to Saturday afternoon Power classes in October. I'm hoping to make them a regular routine again this weekend.

Year-to-date, I've spent 164 hours (and 35 minutes - of course I'm keeping track!) on the mat. It's definitely a habit. I still need more work on balance, but my flexibility has improved and I feel stronger. It's amazing what just 15 minutes a day can do for my body...and my mind.

This one day at a time thing really worked for me. Elise has updated the tracker for 2016 and I'm in. My "dailies" already include 10,000 steps, a photo, journaling and a devotion. I'm not sure yet what I'll add next year.

Are there habits you've committed to (or would like to have) on a daily basis? Suggestions welcome!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Watercolor Wednesday | Light.

sunrise at the lake
I slowed my car on the way to walk/yoga with Lauren...too pretty a view to just let it just go. I think the car behind me understood. Sadly, neither the photo nor the watercolor captured the twinkle lights on the trees. I'm thinking I was either 30 minutes too late...or 10 hours too early.

And hours later, after my sister left (yes! Wednesday knitting was today). yep, there's Holly!
...and this evening, at our front door
...bookends to a good day. full of light. and knitting. and friends.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ten on Tuesday | 'Tis the Season.

...today, Carole's asked us to share things we truly enjoy about the holiday season. In case you haven't already guessed, I have many loves this time of year. That hasn't always been the case, and I know how hard - and maybe not even healthy - it can be to put a happy face on a sad time...so I'm sharing my list in all it's sappy holiday spirit and hoping it spreads a bit of cheer.
dark early this morning
1. Twinkle lights. especially when it's dark outside. You know I love them at night...but they're pretty in the morning, too. I also love to see all the lights outside. Folks around here do quite a job of lighting houses, trees, bushes, driveways, signs, ... it's beautiful!

2. Christmas music. Not so much the Sirius/XM stations that start just after Halloween, but the playlists from CDs I've collected over the years (a few of which were inspired additions from my parents' Christmas LPs... topic for another day!)

3. Baking. Honestly, lately, I've really preferred other people baking and me enjoying the fruits of their labors, but this year I think I'm going to try cookies with Charlie.

4. The Advent program at church. It's always meaningful, but this year, they're having actors from our theatrical ministry portray biblical characters ... we had Isaiah for the Hope candle the first Sunday and this past week it was Elizabeth for the Peace candle. Inspiring, heartwarming, and certainly thought-provoking.

5. Christmas on TV (Love Actually, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Family Stone, Charlie Brown and the Grinch) and the Big Screen (we have tickets again this year for White Christmas).

6. Christmas books and stories, and not just for Charlie. He does have quite a collection, including The Snowman, The Night Before Christmas, Olive the Other Reindeer, The Grinch and Polar Express (we read all of those except Polar Express tonight before bedtime). This is likely a topic for another day as well, and I hope y'all have some new titles to share.

7. Celebrating the traditions and memories around our decorations.

8. Our family celebrations and traditions. We have an annual gathering with my brother and sister and their families and a more recent tradition of a girls only lunch after Christmas. My own family is making new traditions (just like Thanksgiving) to celebrate a toddler and a daughter/sister/aunt who arrives on Christmas Eve.

9. All the hustle and bustle...real smiles on faces, the smell of pine, jingle bells. Especially if there's a chill in the air and no shopping involved!

10. Bailey's in my coffee. this is a very special treat that I only enjoy for a day or two the week between Christmas and New Years. (note to self - buy Bailey's).

and now I'm sure y'all are wondering how Charlie did with the tree today. In short - fine. I was actually a little disappointed that it took much encouragement to get the slightest interaction with even a few of the ornaments.

Evidently, he's showing all that interest in the ornaments on his tree at home. I saw that tree for the first time this evening. There are no longer any ornaments at Charlie's level; Katie said he's taken them all off...and she's hung them up again toward the top of the tree. He does have two special ornaments that are "his"...and tonight they are resting on the table, awaiting tomorrow, when he'll hang them up, and take them off...again.

If you're not already playing along with Ten on Tuesday fun, click here to join. and Thank You, Carole, for helping us share our best parts of the holiday season.