Friday, July 29, 2016

Eye Candy Friday | A Morning Walk.

This morning's walk to the lake was the perfect way to ease into a day that began too early, mostly because the past two nights have ended way too late.

The sky was blue,

the sun shone bright,

and danced across the water.

Happy Friday! and best wishes for a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday | More Summer Snow.

me, in front of our family's tent, Labor Day Weekend, 1973
...this time from Labor Day Weekend, 1973, camping in Wyoming's Snowy Range. Labor Day was Monday, September 3 that year.

I remember waking up to snow one of the mornings we were there - and I remember we were all  surprised by it. and cold.

I don't remember that I packed a jacket and maybe even boots for that "late summer" weekend in the mountains. But apparently I did (or maybe my mom did - I was ten and maybe had a little bit of help with my packing that summer?!)

This is the only "snow" camping trip I remember. Looking back, and considering how often we went to the mountains (the Bighorn National Forest was one of our favorite weekend getaways - it's even further north), that's maybe surprising. Or maybe we just got lucky?!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Short Rows for Days.

It seems I've been knitting short rows for days. And maybe surprising to many - myself included! - I'm really enjoying it! Despite what my Ravelry project page might say, I've been devoting all my knitting time over the past week to just two projects, both of which feature short rows.

First is the Shelter Baby Blanket I introduced last week. Those wedges are formed by working short rows in opposite directions. The really cool part (at least according to my inner knitting nerd) is that the turn is worked at the same point in the rows in both directions so those wedges are smoothly connected. 

I think the back of the piece shows best what I'm trying to describe - see how those garter stitch bumps stair-step in opposite directions?

And it's garter stitch, so no picking up wraps - just a plain "move the stitch, move the yarn, move the stitch" and you're done. Easy peasy (and still loving the yarn on those size 9 needles)!

In contrast, I've spent much of this week's knitting time on the first sleeve of my Summer Navy cardigan. The sleeves are knit seamlessly from the armholes using short rows to shape the sleeve cap, then working in the round to the bind-off. I must say the finished results are beautiful and it fits so nicely.

But it's a fiddle-y mess to execute (which my inner knitting nerd enjoys too). 

I pick up the stitches using a smaller needle, and then work the rest of the sleeve with double-points. Here's what it looks like a few rows in (yikes, right?!). Once the short rows are finished, I'll start working in the round as usual (with five double pointed needles). At that point, the small circular needle will no longer be part of the picture (it's holding the stitches that I picked up and haven't yet worked), nor will those hanging markers (they're marking the turning point for the Sunday Short Rows - my favorite method for working wraps that have to be picked up)...and then I'm almost done.  

I wonder if I'm being completely unreasonable with myself to expect a finished cardigan before the end of the month?  and pretty sure my next project won't have me knitting so many short rows!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | Keeping It Cool.

As the heat wave continues, it seems most appropriate that this week, Carole's asked us to share ways to keep it cool. We topped out just under 100 degrees this afternoon, so Charlie and I had the opportunity to put a few of these ideas to good use!

1. Drink something cold. For me that's been water, iced coffee and (now that he's back with his mama) chilled pinot grigio. For him, water and milk.

2. Eat something cold. That's actually last night's dinner (but if I hadn't used the last avocado it would be tonight's too). Charlie and I also ate cucumber, carrots, berries, yogurt, cheese and a hardboiled egg.

3. Go out for ice cream. Gone are the days when I'd have a carton or two in the freezer, so this requires an outing. Today we went to Whole Foods and shared a bowl of strawberry and pineapple. (Also, he now loves ice cream, maybe because he can eat it all by himself?)

4. Read a book set in a lot of cold, snow and/or winter. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes to mind, as does Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Shipping News (which I still need to read!)

5. Wander the aisles in a book store or library (because books and air conditioning!)...bonus points if there's also story time (which our local Barnes and Noble has on Tuesday mornings - today's theme was "back to school"...which is next week for some kids!)

6. Find an air conditioned playground. Who knew...our Whole Foods has one!

7. Watch a movie set in a lot of cold, snow and/or winter. My three favorites are Love Actually, The Holiday (also because sweaters) and The Family Stone.

8. Go to the theater to see one of the big summer blockbusters (because movie and air conditioning and also maybe popcorn and wine). Hoping to do this soon...Ghostbusters and The BFG are both on my list.

9. Dive into a pool, a lake, the ocean, or even take a nice long soak in the tub.

10. Plan a trip to Alaska for next summer...and think about how cool you're gonna be then. My mom has booked our cruise...we're headed there next August! (lots more to come on that, I'm sure - my first "planning" step was to add Vancouver and Anchorage to my weather app :-)

I had a lot of fun thinking about this list - it almost made me "beat the heat" - and I'm sure your lists will be the perfect chill! Thank you, Carole for cooling us all off!

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekending.

...was a little different - Marc was away with his buddies on a golf outing (in the North Carolina mountains, which was maybe the coolest place he could be...and he said the golf was good too) and my favorite little family was at the beach. I did a lot of what you might expect.

I watched Grace & Frankie, knitted and had popcorn and wine for dinner (just once).

Saturday morning I made my second trip to the Farmer's Market and enjoyed it (almost - since I was by myself) as much as the first time. I brought home a fabulous summer bouquet of sunflowers and zinnias and a really yummy tomato tart that I ate for dinner that night.  I also had a fun call with a girlfriend and then met up with other friends for knitting and coffee.

It was the perfect chance to debut Nangou. I had hoped to share more about that piece here last Friday, but instead of blogging about it, I ripped back and re-knit the bindoff. Super happy with the outcome!

Yesterday flew by. Church, a visit with Lydia & Steve, FaceTime with Charlie (and his mama), a call with Sara, more Grace & Frankie, more reading (both ears and eyes), and then Marc was home. Dinner, a very quick catch up...and early to bed.
I almost forgot to take a photo!

Was there anything different about your weekend? Regardless, I hope it was fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday | Summer Snow.

my brother Steve, my sister Karen and me - Casper Mountain, 1971
As we head into another fifteen days with forecasted highs above 90, I thought it would be a cool time to share this story. My dad was transferred from Houston, Texas to Casper, Wyoming in May, 1971. All three of us kids were born in the south (me in Georgia and Steve and Karen in Texas). and up until that May, we hadn't seen snow.

As my mom tells the story, we left Houston on Saturday, May 22 and headed north, passing through the hottest spot in the country that day, likely somewhere in the Texas panhandle. The next day, we were in Colorado, someplace near Colorado Springs and it started to sleet, with maybe a little bit of snow, too. In any event, it was cold, and of course we were all wearing shorts. What little bit of winter wear we had was packed on top of the car. We pulled into a truck stop to retrieve our coats...and got a lot of curious stares from the natives. My mom says she and my dad laughed about that story for years. I can't imagine what it must've been like...culture and climate shock all rolled into one!

The photo above is captioned "Casper Mountain, First Snow". It was probably taken a few days later - after giving my mom time to unpack a few bags and find our sweaters and long pants!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Perfect Pairing.

Remember when I mentioned Theresa had added some new yarns to the shop? and that I might've brought a few skeins home with me?

Um, yep! Today I'm sharing the first project with y'all. This is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (my first time knitting with this yarn) and it's going to be a blanket for Charlie's little brother.

The gradient possibilities seemed like a perfect match with Purl Soho's Colorful Wedges pattern. And I'd heard wonderful things about knitting garter stitch on larger needles with this yarn....and about how soft and light the fabric is after blocking.

The pattern is written for a sport weight yarn on size 5 needles; I did a rough calculation and cast on 25 fewer stitches on size 9s. 

I think it's gonna be perfect!

In hindsight, maybe I should've titled this post "perfect pairings". How about a little dark early knitting on the porch to see a beautiful sunrise?

Have you used Shelter? I'd love to hear about your experience with it...please share!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | An Atlanta Playlist.

Today, Carole's asked us to share songs "about where we live". What a fun excuse to make a playlist*!

I've lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area for over 35 years. Those first eight songs have been part of my playlist since college (well, except for Love Shack which didn't come out until 1989 when I was already married with a child :-) ... but "heading down the Atlanta highway" of course I had to include it).

The Ramblin' Wreck is Georgia Tech's fight song. I remember hearing that one as a kid. My dad was a Georgia Tech alum and that's probably the biggest reason I went there, too. (and then met Marc, and ...we made Atlanta our home).

I added those last two songs because they bring me back here. or when I'm here and missing folks who call (or used to call) this place home, make me smile (or sometimes cry, but almost always in a good way).

...and speaking of "making me smile", here's today's Charlie story:

me: let's go home and have lunch
Charlie: ketchup?


Fun as always, thank you, Carole! and if you're not already playing along with Ten on Tuesday, click here to join.

*and yeah, I'm still using Apple Music; I didn't find anything I liked better and I kind of know how to use it!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekending.

...also known as yikes! how can it be Monday (again) already?!

Here's a peek at a few of the highlights from my weekend:

  • I started listening to the backlog of podcasts that had accumulated since I started Book Bingo reading in early June. So now I've heard the last of Ann and Michael (and yep, I cried).
  • I also made a pretty decent start on cleaning out closets and cupboards. I have a big pile of books, clothing and other stuff to donate. (Now there's just one more room to go - my "yarn room" - which also has the biggest closet.)
  • Katie and Charlie spent Friday night and much of Saturday with us (while Rob painted the boys' rooms and hung bead board in their bathroom). It was a treat to have them - even if Marc and I needed an extra night's sleep to recover (man, toddlers are exhausting)!
  • Saturday morning, Katie, Charlie & I visited the Alpharetta Farmers Market. It's a regular weekend stop for them, but it was my first time there in years. It's a lot better than I remember and I hope to make it a regular stop for us, too.
  • Because Marc and I both enjoyed Saturday night's dinner of fresh vegetables, cheeses, salami and crackers and a small pizza. (along with a little wine and a movie on Netflix whose title I can't even recall...yeah, we were tired!)
  • A huge thunderstorm blew through early Saturday evening and left behind a gorgeous sky and sunset.
  • and slightly cooler temperatures which made for a not-too-hot run to the lake on Sunday morning (and a lovely shot of blue sky blooms).
  • I spent a few hours at the shop taking photos for their new website. The shop really looks great (it's hard to believe we've been in the space for almost six years). Theresa has added a lot of needlepoint threads and canvases and a few new yarns as well. I'm really excited about all the possibilities (and I might've even added a few new skeins to my stash :-) 

All that good stuff made it even harder to wrap my head around the news from Baton Rouge (following the news from Turkey). Sad, crazy times. (and that was even before the Republican convention kicked off this week ... ok, I'm done!)

Hoping your weekend was full of the good stuff, too.

Friday, July 15, 2016

FO Friday | Fine (Grey) Sand.

I know I've already shared a finished shot of my latest cardigan, but really, an airport bathroom selfie doesn't do this one justice.

So I asked Katie to take a few photos.

Now you can see what the piece really looks like...like how it's the perfect length to wear with just about any top (and cover up all of my rear end).

...and how the fronts are shaped ever so slightly to give it movement

...and how well the linen wears (seriously, I've worn this at least a dozen times and it's lived in my bag for hours at a time and it still looks just-blocked great when I put it on)

...and how beautiful the lifted increases look in this open gauge

...and how perfect the bracelet length sleeve is for wearing pushed up or down.

...and most definitely how much I love it!

The pattern is Heidi Kirrmaier's Fine Sand and I used the suggested Louet Euroflax Sport Weight (in a color that matches pretty much every top in my wardrobe - appropriately called Cloud Grey). The yarn is 100% linen, and while it's a little stiff to knit with, it softens beautifully after washing and drying (yep, this one goes in the dryer!) There are more details about the project on my Ravelry page (here).

Thank you, Katie, for helping me tell the story.

Wishing you all a fine weekend, with just enough gray!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Bingo 2016 | Mid-summer Update.

my card this morning
This is the third summer we've played bingo (and read a lot of books); I keep thinking there's no way this year's summer reading can possibly be as good... and I'm happy to be wrong (again!).


Here's my Summer Bingo 2016 shelf on Goodreads, sorted by rating (and some date algorithm I'm not quite sure about)
see this shelf on Goodreads here
Those first two on the top row are my 5-star reads, favorites not only for this year, but also all-time; and also books I could've read in high school or college, but am just now getting around to.

The next 16 (!!!!) were 4-star reads. I loved them all and would definitely recommend them to others. I love how diverse that collection is - fantasy, science fiction, romance, classics, narrative non-fiction, verse, memoir. This is, in a nutshell, what I love about Book Bingo.

I've written short reviews on Goodreads for each book; please click over to my shelf  if you want to see more details about any of them.  I just wrote about Invisible Man this morning. I finished it Monday evening, but needed to let it marinate a few days to decide what to write. This book rocked my world for the six days I read it.

Monday afternoon I abandoned the audio and picked up Sara's high school copy (marginalia and all!) If you haven't read this book, I think you should. Maybe my little review will tell you why.

Ellison wrote this in his 1981 introduction 
"my task was one of revealing the human universals hidden within the plight of one who was both black and American, and not only as a means of conveying my personal vision of possibility, but as a way of dealing with the sheer rhetorical challenge involved in communicating across our barriers of race and religion, class, color and region -- barriers which ... still function to prevent what would otherwise have been a more or less natural recognition of the reality of black and white fraternity."
I think he succeeded in his task. This book got inside me (as did Joe Morton's fabulous narration - I listened to the first 3/4 on Audible); it's made me look at racism differently and it's made me very sad to realize that the "truths" Ellison wrote about 60 years ago are still that. 

I finished the last 1/4 reading Sara's much-annotated edition from high school. Her notes were helpful and insightful (and made me glad I wouldn't have to take a test or write a paper). But she wrote nothing next to one of my favorite passages 
"Diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states. Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness? But seriously, and without snobbery, think of what the world would would lose if that should happen. America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain." (emphasis mine) 
A powerful message still.

In summary, I've read 20 books for a Bingo square since Memorial Day. And finishing Invisible Man gives me four Bingos.  Five more to go to cover my card. I'm guessing  Louise Penny's newest (due out on August 30) will be the last - and sitting in that key lower left corner, will give me my last three Bingos.

How's your summer reading going? I hope you're enjoying it...and maybe even finding a few surprises!

(remember, by my rules, you have until midnight on Labor Day (Monday, September 5) to play; you can read more about Book Bingo here.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Morning Walk in Madison.

Last Monday, I had a little over an hour left in Fahrenheit 451; there's nothing like a little dystopia in your ears to add atmosphere to a quiet, cloudy morning. Henry Vilas Park is about a mile and a half from Sara's (this time, I checked the map before I set out  :-) This was my first time visiting there and I had no idea what to expect.


I wasn't disappointed. The scenery is beautiful.
(no filter required)

I made it back to Sara's with a little more time left in the book (at this point I was listening to the Coda and Afterward) so I kept going. This view is a block past her apartment. I'd seen it many times before, and always thought it would make a lovely Waterlogue.

Hope your week is going well - happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | Summer Camp.

This week, Carole has us reaching way, way back...to things we loved about summer camp. I did go to camp - a few times to Girl Scout day camps and twice to sleep away church camp - but I struggled to come up with ten things I loved about those experiences.
Maybe 7 year old me - off to a day of Brownie Camp

or 12 year old me (bottom row, 2nd from the right) in 1975 - midway through a week away from home (this was the last time I went to camp) would've felt differently. So I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt and here's what I think were the things I loved:

1. Getting ready. supply lists and shopping and packing.

2. Being outside. a lot.

3. Campfires.

4. Singing songs.

5. S'mores.

6. Crafts. I think I still remember tie-dying that t-shirt when I was seven and I definitely remember rug-hooking and pottery from that last church camp.

7. Staying up late, giggling, telling stories and secrets in the dark.

8. Hikes.

9. No parents. at least in the beginning. but then,

10. Getting picked up to go home on that last day. I remember my parents arrived a day early for pick-up in 1975. I think I cried I was so happy to see them.  And I left with them then...no thoughts of what I might be missing on that last night.

Flipping the pages of my photo album (thank you, Mother!), I found three photos from camp (I spared y'all the lone cross on a hill from my first year at church camp in 1974) and pages from the weeks-long camping trips we took as a family.  Now I joke about how much I hate camping, but those family trips are a very special part of me and of the five of us. (and fodder for a whole series of blog posts... daily November, beware :-)

Thank you, Carole, for hosting another great topic - and if you're not already playing along, click here to join the fun!

I'll close on a happy note - Charlie and I had a wonderful day. I snagged this photo after Charlie threw his last penny into the fountain. #makeawish



Monday, July 11, 2016

Currents | July 2016.

from last Wednesday's morning walk
Loving the crepe myrtles. I don't have any in my yard (unlike the last house), but they are abundant in the neighborhood.

Planning to clean out a few cupboards, dressers and closets. We did a major purge before we moved (yikes - almost four years ago!!) but now I'm starting to feel the weight of stuff that no longer brings me joy.

can you guess which bowl belongs to whom
Eating just about anything, with lettuce. These are the fish tacos we made on Saturday night, served over lettuce because I forgot to get tortillas. I told Marc it was healthier that way (and it was...until he loaded up his bowl with more chips).

Drinking coffee. hot and iced. I like the iced coffee mixed about half and half with almond milk and a little sweetener; it (almost) tastes like coffee ice cream.

knitting with Wimbledon yesterday morning
Knitting stockinette for days. Otherwise known as Summer Navy (Bleached, the latest from Amy Miller). I'm using a navy cotton/wool blend that I'll hopefully get to wear this summer.

Reading Invisible Man with my ears. It's excellent and Joe Morton does a fabulous job with the narration, but it's intense. Especially with everything that's going on in our country right now. I took a little break from it yesterday and finished A Kiss at Midnight. There's nothing like a little fairy tale with a happy ending to cleanse my palate.

Listening to Spotify and Pandora and trying to decide if I should give up my Apple Music subscription. That $9.99 a month is bugging me.

Watching Grace and Frankie (by myself) and Ballers (with Marc). I'm only on the 4th episode of G&F (all those books to listen to plus Wimbledon), but Marc and I binged through all ten episodes of the first season of Ballers this weekend. I should probably be embarrassed that I really enjoyed it. but I'm not! (and Marc's friend who is an announcer for Fox Sports says it's really like that...whoa...)

Needing to figure out a plan of attack for all that cleaning out! feeling like it might even require a trip to the new Container Store (darn it :-)

Wanting to redo the children's room upstairs. It's furnished with Katie's childhood furniture (twin bed, armoire and nightstand) and an antique doll bed (from my grandmother) and the walls are hung with art from the girls' childhood rooms. The furniture is maple and the bedding is simply white, but the dolls and the art definitely give it a "little girl" feel. Now that we're going to have two little boys in our lives, it seems like the time to make it a boy room.

boys and sticks :-)
Looking forward to seeing Charlie again tomorrow. We missed last Tuesday, so he came over on Friday instead. It was almost too hot to play outside, but no matter - he's cool in his shades and hat!

Enjoying my new teaching schedule. Beginning last month, I moved my Monday evening class to Thursday evenings. Thankfully, all my students save one were able to make the change and most were just as happy about it as I am. It's nice to be home on Monday evenings - the golf course is closed on Mondays, so if Marc's in town, he's home; and I get to bed at a more reasonable hour, which makes Tuesdays with Charlie easier. So now my Thursdays are a little longer, but that seems to be working ok, since the next day is Friday and then the weekend!

Hoping to share a Summer Bingo update with y'all later this week.

Remembering what I love about summer. a slower pace, less traffic, evening sunshine, the colorful landscape, fresh tomatoes and berries. and reminding myself to enjoy it all (in spite of the heat).

Wishing you a great mid-summer week!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cooking with Sara.

I've written before about how much fun Sara and I have together in the kitchen. This past weekend, we cooked more than yesterday's post (and my Instagram feed full of blue skies and cocktails :-) might've suggested. But it wasn't until Monday that we cooked together. For brunch, we made a spinach mushroom strata and sangria. It was delicious (especially accompanied by a mini-marathon of the last season of Sex and the City episodes). and you'll have to take my word for it since I forgot to take photos.

So I made up for it with dinner. a very non-traditional 4th of July menu, featuring fresh produce and bread from Sunday's market, leftover burrata from Friday's dinner and a pork loin with garlic, thyme and rosemary (that Sara wanted to learn how to make).

It took a little bit (and we had a few dishes to wash), but it was worth every minute.

Sara also made a rhubarb compote, which she served with a dollop of greek yogurt just before the fireworks started. Perfect ending to a lovely meal.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Weekending, Madison Style | 2016.

Ha - why mess with a good thing, right?! Apparently this year's visit was almost an exact duplicate of last year's. So maybe I should simply call them our traditions.

The day before the long weekend, Sara works. I hang out, enjoy a run, walk to Trader Joe's for dinner provisions, prepare dinner, then enjoy time on the balcony and by the lake with my knitting and/or a book. It's fun to have a special cocktail and plate of appetizers ready for Sara when she gets home (upper right).

We go to a matinee. This year we saw Finding Dory on Saturday afternoon. The theater has been renovated since last summer and now has a bar (upper middle) and those super comfortable recliner chairs. We loved the movie. and it gave us the perfect excuse to re-watch Finding Nemo, too!

We celebrate a belated Mother's Day with cocktails and dinner (and Uber) at Merchant. (lower left and center).

We go to the Farmers Market. This year we skipped the huge market at the Capitol on Saturday morning in favor of the neighborhood one we could walk to on Sunday morning. There was a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables and Madison Sourdough. We only needed a few more things  and we had food for two dinners and a brunch.

We go to Sardine for brunch (upper left).

We watch the fireworks at the lake from Sara's balcony.

Along the way, we have plenty of time to catch up and simply enjoy each other's company. I also get to read (I finished three books), knit (slow progress, but at least I'm on size 3's now) and enjoy the neighborhood. All too quickly, four days pass....

I talked with my mom last night and enjoyed sharing a few of the stories. We agreed it's a huge treat to visit your grown children and see them doing well. Indeed it is.

Thank you, Sara, for another wonderful weekend!





Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back Home (again).

...and glad to be here, in spite of the wonderful visit I had in Madison (which I promise I'll tell you about later this week).
my last view of Wisconsin
Weather in the Atlanta area today was not "ideal" for flying nor, apparently, for landing. We used up nearly all our fuel in a holding pattern someplace over the Carolinas and I was seriously getting prepared to spend the afternoon and maybe a good part of the evening in Charlotte.

So this was a most welcome view.
and my first one of Atlanta
But this was the best one of all.