Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In Full Bloom.

I'm truly grateful for the community this little corner of the internet has nourished. Thank you all for your incredible outpouring of love, support and encouragement. Your thoughts and prayers have truly lifted us. 
My parents received an amaryllis - their first - for Christmas. Mother dutifully placed the box on the kitchen counter, right under a sunlight, watered it according to the instructions...and waited.

When my sister arrived about two weeks ago there was plenty of green, but not really much else. By last Wednesday, it looked like this.

Those buds continued to develop and we hoped one might open Saturday to honor Daddy's passing, but it wasn't until Monday evening that we saw the first real bloom. By yesterday afternoon when I had a chance for photos, there were already two.


And today - it's practically exploding.

We are completely smitten - the color is amazing and wow is it fun to see how quickly those blooms pop!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Celebration of Love and Family.

Daddy with his three children - January 22, 2016
My father, always "Daddy" to his three children, passed away early yesterday morning. Thankfully, all of us - my brother, my sister, Mother and I - were with him.

He officially enrolled in hospice care just ten days before he died, but he's been battling cancer since 2003. Marc said that Daddy "stole some years from cancer". We are grateful for all the extra years he gave us.

I’m also grateful we had this last week together. My sister came down Thursday before last and asked me and my brother to come last Sunday.  I know Daddy loved having his three children (and Holly!) here even though he couldn't say much. The dark hours - literally and figuratively - we shared with him those last days have only strengthened our family bonds.

I never shared much about Daddy's fight here; it didn't seem like it was my story to tell.  He was a faithful reader, certainly one of my biggest - and earliest - fans. I started the blog in February 2007 as a way to keep in touch with my girls, but it quickly became a support for my parents when Daddy endured radiation and chemotherapy for throat cancer that spring and summer.

And now ... I know I could write for days, but there's no way I could tell the story as well as it deserves to be told. So I'll simply say he lived a life full of love, faith, integrity, honesty, loyalty, humility, strength and family. I miss him terribly, but the legacy he gave me and my family will keep him alive in our hearts forever.

Thankfully, my schedule allows me to stay on here with Mother for a few weeks. She’s been preparing for this mentally for months, but the reality is still challenging. We’re going iPhone shopping and getting a security system installed (not to mention all the phone calls, emails and paperwork that has to be handled). There will hopefully be some cooking, reading, knitting and more alligator sightings to share here. For sure there won't be any snow and I'm guessing that'll be a welcome change for many of y'all!

Thank you all for your support, love and understanding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday | Winter Colors.

...central Florida style. Where my parents live isn't all palm trees; leaves change color and some trees lose them altogether. This morning's freezing temperatures seemed to make the landscape even more vibrant.




I think all the colors (except, thankfully, snow white!) are represented. I love how the Waterlogue pops colors my eye doesn't see - like purples, and so many different shades of blue and green.

My brother and I are doing a gator watch. We missed him all day yesterday (guess he didn't have a sweater to venture into the chilly air), but think we saw him back at the fountain pond this afternoon. You'd better believe I'm taking great care with Holly when we walk past it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Greetings from Florida.

This is the third time I've been in Florida in January/February, when it's cold (and even snowy) at home and colder (and snowier) where many of you live. Thought you might enjoy a quick picture postcard of what yesterday looked like outside:




Don't think it's all breezy blue skies... some of what we saw on our walk was downright scary.



I thought it was bad enough seeing this guy in the water...but by the time we headed back, he was on dry land.

Hope you see some blue skies and sunshine (and no sunning alligators) this week!




Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Fun | Toddler Edition.

Today was supposed to be all about the Sark Wrap. Our shop KAL officially started today...and I think I was the only participant. Due to the rain and the small dog who lives here and has ... issues ... with her "business" when it rains, I didn't make it to the shop. I did get my wrap started and made it through the first bobble row

before Katie called me and asked for a little help with their Friday evening. She's been feeling flu-ish...not that I needed any reason at all.

By the time I arrived (later than I'd hoped thanks to small dog and ... issues) dinner was done. so ... play time! Charlie loves to dance and Katie has a few playlists full of his favorite tunes. We also read a few books. Then played a game where Charlie climbed onto the sofa and directed me and Katie to join him...one on each side (and then he'd get down...and back up again... and yeah, repeat).

Honestly, it was a relief when bath time came. It's been a few months since I joined that routine. He's changed a lot!  and oh my is he a ham for the camera!
and oh my can I take a LOT of photos!

Katie suggested I take a video.

 and then play it back for him. He loves it!

more please!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Celebrating the Good Stuff.

I added another MantraBand to my stack today. This one in honor of my 2016 intention for more celebrating the good stuff.

The card that accompanied the band included these "instructions":

Celebrate love.
Celebrate family.
Celebrate friendships.
Celebrate small victories.
Celebrate courage.
Celebrate life, and you will always
have more to celebrate.

(see why I'm a fan?!)

I love how thinking about things in the frame of "celebrating" helps me focus on the good stuff. And in the spirit of beginning how I mean to go on, here's a short list of what I'm celebrating right now.

  • Katie was home sick today (not the reason to celebrate!) so I had the opportunity to bring her soup for lunch ...and she just texted it was delicious (yay Costco!)
  • Today was a newsletter Thursday and my part was done early this morning. Someone else pushed the "publish" button. (and that same someone else is also posting on the shop's Instagram feed and blog). That's not even a small victory - it feels huge!
  • Only forward progress on the purple sweater.
  • It's bookclub tonight - no book, but we're still getting together for a chili potluck. I've wavered about going (Marc just got home from Asia last night), but now I'm showered - and soon I'll be dressed and made up. Celebrating neighbors...who are friends.

How about you - what are you celebrating right now?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lettuce and Purple Mystery.

I'm not even "ish" joining in with Carole and the crew this week. The topic is David Bowie songs, and I have only one. It's a good one - and I listened to it on repeat a few times last month (as I do every Christmas - it's one of my very favorites)...and then again today. (bear with the opening "stuff" - seeing the whole scene from David arriving and then singing with Bing is wonderful).

but now, how about a little Charlie to lighten the mood?! He loves to "explore" in my yarn room and this morning we checked out the basket of hibernating WIPs. I found a lot of socks, an afghan, a hat and half of a mitten. That hat was the winner today. All it needed was a pompom...and a model.
Raveled here
And done! Charlie loves to try on hats, and pose for the camera (especially in front of a mirror).


So one project done.

and I frogged the mitten(s).  Yeah, I don't really need mittens with holes...even pretty lacy holes. I remember buying these four skeins of Rios last January - two skeins of Lettuce and two of Purple Mystery. The idea was to make the hat, the mittens and the matching cowl and coordinate the colors. Fast forward 12 months and...no longer interested. (this is mostly how I've acquired stash). So now I have a skein of Lettuce and almost two full skeins of Purple Mystery. It's close to 660 yards of worsted weight. What would you do with it?

Monday, January 11, 2016

True Confessions.

...from a knitter who should definitely know better.

I've broken two of my biggest rules on two of my most recent projects. In both cases I skipped a step because I was in a hurry. and yeah, you guessed it, in both cases the results weren't good.

First up, my Fiona Coat. It's a top-down seamless cardigan with raglan sleeves. My big rule for top-down sweaters is that you ALWAYS put the stitches onto waste yarn and try it on (preferably with help because it's hard to really see how it fits if you're squirming around to see it in the mirror) before you separate the sleeves. If you haven't knit a sweater like this, that last sentence probably makes no sense. However, I've made at least a dozen of them (and taught students through maybe 50 more) and I should know better.

But I'm knitting the sweater on size 3 needles and there are so many stitches...I sort of just put one sleeve over my arm and decided it was good. Last weekend, I'd made enough progress down the body - I was ready to start the 3rd band of color - that I could try it on easily. So I did. and discovered it was way. too. small. I couldn't even bring myself to take a photo. Instead I ripped. and ripped. out came that 2nd band and nearly a full ball of the 1st one. (probably a week's worth of knitting). I re-worked the increases to add more stitches and more rows. Then I tried it on (with Katie's help) and think I'm back on track. A week later and I'm still not into new yarn, but at least I think I'm knitting a sweater that will fit.

This next one is really embarrassing because it's a sample for this week's newsletter. Here's my finished piece, photographed on top of the designer's sample. Can you guess what rule I broke this time?

I'm pretty sure even the non-knitters who read this blog might know the word "swatch". Yeah, I didn't. Thank goodness one of my dearest friends is a very tiny person. I'm sure she's going to love having this pretty piece once the shop is done with the sample. and now I have to knit the entire thing all over again to have one for myself (makes that one day I might've spent on that swatch seem like a bargain).

As you might imagine, my two latest projects - both sweaters - are getting extra special attention. For Paloma, not only did I swatch (and wet-block and hang it up),

I even blocked the back to be sure I was on track before I cast on the remaining pieces.

And that purple sweater I mentioned on Friday...the swatch worked out, but the cast-on convinced me I had the wrong yarn for the project. The yarn is four thin strands with nubby bits... I decided it needed to be a simple piece without lace or texture. Yesterday, I started the Shore Cardigan. It's a top-down seamless cardigan with raglan sleeves. I've got seven more rows before I separate the sleeves try it on. Stay tuned.

I've certainly broken my own knitting rules before; and I'm sure I will again...but it might be a while! So I'm curious - what knitting rules have you broken lately - and has it worked out....or not? (remember, this is true confession time!)


Friday, January 8, 2016

Eye Candy Friday.

I'm borrowing Carole's Friday idea because I have a few fun photos from earlier in the week.
proving yet again that packaging makes the best toys! (and that Charlie is a ham!)
#HollyaDayforSara
...and because my favorite Thea Colman released a new sweater pattern yesterday. I've been waiting a bit impatiently for this one since I first saw her teaser photos and realized I have the perfect purple yarn in very deep stash. Off to swatch!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reading Harder.

Last week when we shared our "proud of" lists for 2015, my #6 was about reading:
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.
The Read Harder Challenge is sponsored by Book Riot. hands down my favorite bookish place on the internet. There's a website full of smart content and a bunch of podcasts. I regularly listen to Book Riot and All the Books. fun and informative. (sigh, I wish all my news could be packaged like this!)

2015 was the first year of their Read Harder challenge. They listed 24 challenges and we had to read 24 books. Book Bingo gets me a little outside my comfort zone...but this one landed me in a whole new playground. Here's what I read last year.
see all the details on Goodreads here

And here's what we've (yes, weSara is doing the challenge with me this year!) planned for this year.
see all the details on Goodreads here
Someone much smarter than I has created an editable pdf... I do love having my own personal list!

Close readers might note that I have not shelved anything for the non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years... Sara is reading Lumberjanes which I read and thoroughly enjoyed last year. This is a really unfamiliar genre for me, so I think I'll see what others read - and love! - before deciding.

I must admit a few of the challenges threw me for loop (not sure what the playground analogy even is for this!) but I love that there's a mix of lighthearted fun ... along with the serious.


I completed challenge #4 on Tuesday. Charlie and I read Fox's Socks (thank you Bonny for the recommendation!) twice. I'm going to keep this image in my mind as I venture on to a few of those harder titles.

There will be another round of Summer Bingo (as long as Ann and Michael make the cards - stay tuned...Memorial Day-ish), which will mean another 25 books. And my neighborhood bookclub is going strong, but that's likely just another nine or 10. My goal for this year is 60 books. I've still got a lot of room on my TBR!

How do you feel about reading "harder"? is there a book I'm missing that you think I MUST read?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Watercolor Wednesday | Cozy.


Celebrating another Wednesday, knitting with my sister. When it's chilly outside, nothing beats a fire, a bottle of red wine, knitting...and sharing the sofa.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | More and Less.

Charlie is all about more these days. If you know baby sign language, you might recognize "more" in the middle of this story board.  This is from New Year's Day, when Marc showed Charlie the horse game. and then had to play it over, and over, and over.


Today I saw more milk, more eggs, more kiwi (oops, sorry, that was the last one), more book (he likes to read most books at least two times in a row), more puzzle, more cheese and I'm sure there were a few others, too.

Which sets me up nicely to share this week's list - what I want more (and less) of in 2016.

1. more real food. hopefully cooked by me (and/or Marc).

2. more play. and not only on Tuesdays.

3. more current events. I gave up news a few years ago and I must admit, I didn't miss it. But this past week, when I mentioned to Sara that "I don't do news", she told me that wasn't something I should be proud of. She's right. Especially in an election year. So...I'm listening to Morning Edition and All Things Considered and looking for a few more sources. I'd really love to read something (vs listen), but I find it hard to read on my computer and I definitely don't want any paper coming home. Ideas welcome!

4. more celebrating the good stuff. I feel like I do a pretty good job of celebrating the big things (birthdays and such), but I want to be more mindful of the ordinary things.

5. more reaching out.  emails, letters, cards, coffee meet-ups...

6. more music. and not only because dancing is fun!

7. more photos & stories.

8. less WIPs. I want to finish what I start, not necessarily have less starts! (and I really want to finish all the things I've started in years past).

9. less caffeine....and hopefully

10. more sleep. It feels wimpy to admit this, but I need more sleep. I'm better equipped to deal with life when I've had 7+ hours...and my typical night is closer to 6 (or less). as I type this, I think maybe wimpy is just another word for grown-up. We'll see!

Thank you, Carole, for another inspiring topic. I look forward to seeing what y'all have planned - and to cheering you on!

If you're not already part of the Ten on Tuesday fun, click here to join.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Looking Back | December 2015.

The sun is shining, the laundry is done, the house is clean, I have two new knitting projects on the needles (one for "just me" and one for next week's newsletters), a good book on Audible ... and a blog post for this first non-holiday weekday of 2016. Here's to a happy beginning for the new year!

But first, how about a quick look back at December, again through the lens of my daily photos.

Not as many twinkle lights as I expected (nor as many cocktails!), but it does look like December!

I've already shared most of the stories here, but here are two I haven't. First, that's my sister-in-law Lydia smiling with a cocktail on the 15th...wearing Stole 2.0. 
credit to my sister for the cocktails...and those adorable snowman glasses!
I knit most of that piece during November and early December.  It gave me so much comfort during those dark days; thinking that the care and love I worked into those stitches can comfort her now makes me happy! 

Then on December 26, I finished my 25th journal...and another knitting tale.

18 projects finished. Four from stash, eight for others and five samples (which will end up in my closet once the shop is through with them). Three of those projects (two sweaters and Tokyo) used yarn held double, so the nearly 13,000 yards is a little mis-leading. Still, though, it was a lot of knitting and I'm happy about that!

I'm way behind reading blogs, but Marc leaves for Asia in the morning and I'm planning to savor catching up on everything I missed last week. Can't wait to read your stories! Hope your year is off to a great start!