Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer Book Bingo Wrap-up.

Before we turn another page on the calendar, let's take a few minutes to celebrate a great summer of reading. We had ten participants* (including me) - for a total of 189 books and 77 Bingos.  Wow!

Here are links to all the recap posts:

Lydia (25 books and  12 Bingos)
Bonny (25 books and  12 Bingos)
Kym - (24 books and  12 Bingos)
Carole (25 books and  12 Bingos)
Margene (18 books and 4 Bingos)
Vicki (9 books and no Bingos)
Debbie (25 books and 12 Bingos)
Patty (no Bingos)
Penny (14 books and 4 Bingos)
me (24 books and 9 Bingos)

Now comes the part when I randomly choose a winner. The plan was that each Bingo would get one entry in the drawing. But when I realized I'd have to cut up almost 70 pieces of paper, I changed the rules! I gave each participant one entry and each cover an additional entry. 14 pieces of paper was much more manageable. And the winner is ...


Penny, there's a little something coming to your in-box.

Finally, I haven't heard (but I also haven't looked) what might be happening around Book Bingo next summer now that Ann and Michael have stopped their podcast. I hope it will still be around in some form; or we might have to do it on our own. Of course that's months away :-)

Thank you everyone for participating and cheering each other along. It was a great summer of reading. together!

*plus my sister who never shared anything on-line but reported an almost-cover and nine Bingos.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cheers | Roxborough.

...yep, I've remembered. finally. to share the cocktail that Thea posted when she debuted that squirrel pattern last week.


I did make it last Thursday night. I remember thinking it didn't taste much like scotch at all. but I did taste licorice. Fast forward to today and Wednesday knitting with my sister. She was surprised to see scotch...and absinthe. We enjoyed the cocktail, but agreed we'd like to try it with bourbon and no absinthe. (hummmm... not a strong recommendation!)

I think that means we both prefer a nice bottle of red wine :-) Nonetheless - cheers!

And in case you're still interested - here's the recipe:

1 oz. scotch
1/2 oz. dry curaçao
1/2 oz. absinthe

combine with ice in a shaker and serve while it's frothy and cold. (I added one of the cubes from the shaker and it was a welcome addition to keep the drink really cold.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesdays with Charlie | Two (New Things).

Before I dive into today's post, I want to give a quick shout out to Carole. She hosted a weekly Tuesday gathering* on her blog for years; I was fortunate to join the Ten on Tuesday fun in 2010. The community she fostered is one of the most special places I know. I've formed lasting friendships and shared laughter and tears with a group of ladies I hope to someday meet in person. But even if I never get to hug them in real life, knowing them through this space is still one of the best things that's ever happened for me. Thank you, Carole!

I'm probably feeling the loss of a ready Tuesday topic a bit less than most ... because I have a ready - and most often quite willing! - subject for Tuesdays... Charlie!

He turned two two weeks ago. Every time I think it's crazy that he's that old already, I remind myself he's going to be a big brother in a month...and it seems to make sense again. Part of his preparation at home this summer was transitioning to a big-boy bed and today he made that transition at my house, too. 

We spent a good part of our morning setting up the bed (this is the same one his mama had growing up but it looks quite different now) - truck sheets! guard rails! lots of trash! We also swapped his books to the nightstand and installed a gate at the door. He seemed really excited about the changes (and the trash - that boy loves to clean up!). The plan is that he'll be able to sleep over at our house without causing anyone worries about falling out of bed (or down a very long flight of stairs).

After all that work, we played. Well, Charlie played. I watched. We finally went to the playground that's right in my neighborhood (not my little cul-de-sac, but the bigger neighborhood - I think my cul-de-sac might actually fit into this playground). Oh My Wow! Charlie had the entire thing to himself and he LOVED every single minute.

Fun like this a mile from my house is priceless.

as is a new lock screen photo.

Needless to say it was late by the time we got home for lunch. and after that I pulled a Marmie and gave him a quick bath (sunscreen, sand and sweat was not what I wanted on those nice clean sheets!) before nap. I think he liked it. And he slept great. That same position the whole time. 

We're ready - for sleepovers, little brothers, cooler temperatures, and I'm sure much more. Two. life is good.

*The weekly gathering is going to change to monthly in October - Ten on the Tenth. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Visit to the Garden.

My FitBit recorded nearly 32 hours of sleep for the last three days; and it really does feel like I slept through weekend! I knew I was tired, but whoa... so it's a good thing I have a story from Friday to share. Lydia and I met up for a visit to the Botanical Gardens and lunch. This was her first time to see the Chihuly exhibit and my second. I'm happy to report that the pieces I loved back in May are still just as stunning.


I found a few new favorites, too. The Children's Garden wasn't open when we went last time. This piece sits atop the trellis gate that leads into that section.

But even without that grand entrance, the Children's Garden looks like a lot of fun - I look forward to sharing it with Charlie next spring.

I love how this installation highlights the Garden's location - an oasis in the heart of the city. (and it wasn't until I cropped the photo that I noticed Lydia at the right :-).

Here's a view in the other direction.

And how about a few #blueskyblooms.


Hope your week is off to a blue sky start! Happy Monday!






Friday, September 23, 2016

FO Friday | George.

...we interrupt this week's planned programming (I promise I'll be back on Monday with news about that cocktail!) to bring you a surprise edition of FO Friday! Since this one features Charlie, I figure y'all won't mind.

The last you saw of George (back on August 31), all he needed was a head. and a face. which he got the next week.

Then he had a much needed bath.

(after which he needed three full days to dry). But he was ready for Charlie's birthday on the 13th.

And today, I have the photos to show you - George is a hit!

...I also have a new lock screen photo :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Situational Monogamy.

I've been faithful to my husband for over 35 years, but apparently I cannot be in a monogamous relationship with one knitting project for even a week.

I put the yarn away when the beautiful kit for My Cryptonite arrived last week from Skein (I haven't even taken a photo to share with y'all!)

I looked the other way when the BrooklynTweed collection dropped last week AND when the lovely new Shibui Drift arrived in the shop.

But yesterday, when I saw Thea Colman's latest cardigan, I succumbed. It was this detail shot of the back neckline that sent me over the edge. And a saddle shoulder - I've never done that!
image copyright 2016 BabyCocktails
...and - I'm not gonna lie - a worsted weight project on something bigger than a size 4 needle.

I came home from class with nine skeins of Woolfolk FÅR and the pattern. This morning I swatched. Surprisingly, my gauge is a bit tight, so I'm going up a needle size - to a NINE! - to swatch again. With any luck, I'll be ready to cast on tomorrow.

I was so smitten with the design, I even purchased Dry Curaçao to make the suggested cocktail. I'm planning to give it a try after class tonight and will report back.

Hopefully I'll get a few more blanket repeats done today, so I won't feel quite so guilty about cheating!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | Looking Forward to Fall.

This week, in honor of the official date that Summer changes to Fall, Carole's invited us to write about our favorite summer moments and the things we're most looking forward to for fall. I've already shared my summer highlights, so my whole list is about fall. and narrowing it down to just ten is hard!
from Friday morning's walk - Caribbean filter

1. The color change. Most of the trees around here are still green - or, sadly, thanks to our hot dry summer, almost bare - but I'm holding out hope for the maples and oaks.  and playing around with the Prisma app is fun, too!

2. Fall lips and toes.

3. SWEATER WEATHER. wearing them, knitting them, thinking about knitting them, it's all good!

4. Red wine and cooler weather cocktails like Manhattans and Negronis.

5. Family birthday season. It really kicked off last week with Charlie, but Marc, Rob, Sara and I have "real" fall birthdays.

6. Seeing Sara (she says she's coming for Thanksgiving). and my mom (she's definitely coming - and staying with us for a few days which is a first!)

7. Jeans and boots.

8. Porch time (except that I have to get out there and clean it first).

9. Apples, pumpkins, roasted vegetables and chili.

(yep, I saved the best for last)

10. Charlie's little brother.

It looks like it's going to be a great fall... I can't wait!

How about you? Look forward to seeing what's on your list - if you're not already playing along, click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun (and thank you, Carole, for hosting another great week!)



Monday, September 19, 2016

Counting to Six.

I finally found a rhythm with the cabled baby blanket. Turns out, it's just about counting to six (which I can manage to do most of the time :-)

The blanket features columns of paired cables twisted in opposite directions. The pairs are separated by six stitches of reverse stockinette. Each cable is six stitches and they're twisted every six rows for a six-row repeat. Last week, I started tracking the repeats in my planner... I'm sure you can imagine how much I enjoy all those tick marks! I finished 13 repeats last week (and if I continue at that pace, I could finish the blanket next week - woohoo!)

It wasn't until somewhere around the sixth repeat, though, that I started hearing the 1-2-3-4-5-6 in my head as I worked across the rows. There are 34 groups of six stitches per row; I'm surprised it took me that long. But it wasn't until early last week that I knitted an entire repeat in one sitting and I think that's when the rhythm started. Now that I have the count going in my head, I don't have to look at the rows and that's definitely faster!

It also makes it better for TV, audiobooks, getting together with friends, drinking wine and waiting - pretty much all the times I like to knit. So far, the blanket has listened to Barbara Pym, watched Star Wars and The Martian and been to bible study and knitting class. This week I hope to take it out for coffee and for lunch and I'm sure it will hear another book and see more TV. I started watching Inspector Morse and I think I'll finish the blanket before I finish all those episodes.

I hope I don't get any more practice fixing mis-crossed cables.


(but if they do happen, I hope I notice them quickly.)

What good experience(s) do you hope to share with your knitting this week?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Looking Back | Summer 2016.

I'm well into the habit of taking a photo every day, but not so much organizing them, creating the collages and sharing them.  And honestly, I kind of like it that way. It's like a mini time capsule when I open up the Daily Photo album on my laptop. Last night I sorted through June, July and August and had a wonderful time revisiting those last three months:

  • Two trips to Florida and one most memorable little side trip with my mom.
  • Another wonderful Fourth of July with Sara in Madison.
  • Good TV (and one history-making night).
  • Lots of good reading (and even a little bit of Bingo).
  • Summer cocktails.
  • Nine WIPs (of which only four became FOs and the last one was August 1st. This might be my longest dry spell in years).
  • Selfies with Charlie on Tuesdays.
  • Another Little League World Series.
  • Three farmers' markets! (and a surprising variety of food.)
  • Lots of blue sky and a few pops of color.
  • But sadly, not much porch time; it's just been too hot.

Of course summer isn't officially over until next week - and for sure our weather is hanging on to every bit of warm sunshine (yikes! we're still having highs in the 90's!) Here's wishing we all get to enjoy a little bit more of the best parts of summer!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | Game Day Favorites.

from October 2009 (!! deep in the archives for sure!)
Professional football kicked off this weekend. Carole is a huge Patriots fan and she won't miss a game. She'll also enjoy some great food while she watches; this week, she's asked us to share our game day favorites.

Football food around here means "fun" and "easy" (but not necessarily "healthy"). Here are ten of my favorites:

1. Vegetables and dip. That's homemade spicy peanut dip in the photo above and it's outstanding. I haven't made it in a few years, but I need to. (and because I love y'all, I've included the recipe below.)

2. Cheese and crackers.

3. Mixed nuts.

4. Popcorn.

5. Roasted shrimp cocktail (the shrimp above is not that - it was marinated and while it was delicious, it was really messy).

6. Guacamole, cheese dip and tortilla chips.

7. Chicken chili.

8. Turkey wraps (Costco does these brilliantly).

9. Potato chips and blue cheese dip.

10. Something sweet. I can't decide between grapes, M&Ms and chocolate chip cookies ... maybe all three?!

Food lists are always fun - I can't wait to see what delicious ideas y'all share. Thank you, Carole, for hosting us! (If you're not already playing along, click here to join.)

Spicy Peanut Dip

4 cloves minced garlic
2 T finely minced cilantro
2/3 C soy sauce
2/3 C rice vinegar
3 T hot chili oil
6 T sugar
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 C creamy peanut butter

Blend in a food processor. Make it the day before


Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekending.

Oh my, 6:30 on a Monday evening - I just had a very fun call with my mom where we talked about all manner of stuff...going gray, puzzles, one-on-one time with our grandchildren, Vancouver, snakes (!!), mussels, the crazy practice of grocery stores where they rearrange stuff and a bunch of other things. And now I'm sitting down to write the blog post I expected to write this morning. But I ended up spending the day* with my favorite little guy.
this morning - his first time (now that he's almost TWO) with the car seat facing forward
I can attest that nothing is better for a Monday evening than looking back at slew of photos ... and remembering how great the weekend was.

For sure the highlight was Charlie's birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Curious George, friends, family and presents. Life doesn't get any better ... whether you're (almost) two or (almost) 54!
from Katie's instagram feed (do y'all see what I mean about camera envy!)
ditto this one - and also - SMILE! on Marc's face!  he gave Charlie a "real" set of clubs...for golf camp next summer
I also tried out the Prisma app. super fun!

Holly and I walked.

and I walked by myself. Time flies...but I still can't believe 9-11 was 15 years ago.

Tomorrow is Charlie's birthday. TWO years old. Katie has taken the day off, so it won't be a regular #TuesdaywithCharlie ... but she's invited me to join them for play, lunch and dinner... I promise a full report on Wednesday.

*His daycare had a lice sighting last week and Katie wanted Charlie to have a break. Marmie to the rescue!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Summer Reading Recap.

Here's the short version:

I read 39 books.
I did not cover my Bingo card.

my final card - nine Bingos!
If you'd asked me back on May 25 what I thought this summer's reading might bring, I wouldn't have guessed either of those. I came really close on Bingo, but couldn't manage to read a literary journal cover to cover. As recently as last Friday, I was seriously thinking about spending a few hours with one, just to do it. But then I thought more about the breadth and quality of the rest of my summer reading and decided to finish up two books for the Read Harder challenge instead.

Here's the longer version of what I read:

24 books for Bingo (if you click on the image, it will take you to my Goodreads shelf where you can see more about the titles, how they fit the squares, and what I thought about them).
sorted by rating, date finished (most recent 5 star book is top left)

13 books for Read Harder (ditto about the image) and finished all the reading for that challenge (I still need to watch a movie based on one of the books to compare/contrast; that won't happen until Sara visits later this year). The image below is all 24 books I read for the challenge.
sorted by rating, date finished
Two other books - which turned out to be my least favorite books so far this year. I'm done talking about those!

Nine books landed on my 2016 Favorites shelf and one (Invisible Man) also on my All-time Favorites. I counted nine books as 5-stars, a whopping 24 as 4-stars, four as 3-stars and those two duds. I listened to 19 of the books and and read 20. 26 were fiction and 13 were non-fiction.

Here are a few of the highlights:
I'm grateful to all of you, many of whom are also my Goodreads friends, for your recommendations. It was a great summer of reading!

One final note about Bingo - if you played along (no matter how many Bingos you got), please be sure to share a blog post or a photo on Instagram (and tag me @mere2007).  I'm going to do a wrap up and draw for a prize later this month.






Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Planning for Portis.

Next up in my queue is this piece - a poncho with some very cool knitterly details. I've made two Easy Folded Ponchos (and plan to knit a third one this winter). That pattern is a big stockinette rectangle that gets seamed along one long edge to make the neck opening. Portis is a stockinette tube (perfect for knitting stranded colorwork since there's no purling) that gets steeked to turn it into a big stockinette rectangle. The ribbing (that you see along the bottom edge of the photo above) is picked up and knitted from the steeked edge. The only "seam" is a 3-needle bindoff and the neck edge is finished with an applied i-cord.

I've been a fan of the pattern since it came out in 2014, but our LYS just started carrying the called for Brooklyn Tweed Loft a few months back. I've convinced a few of my students to knit along with me. They're anxious to get started, so I figured I'd better start, too. I spent much of yesterday's nap time knitting a swatch.

I went down a needle size from what the pattern suggested and I'm still a little loose (1/4 stitch and 1/2 row per inch). I think another size smaller and I'll be too tight. So - since I think the fabric in my swatch is ok, I'm going to adjust the pattern.

A big stockinette tube with 12 fewer stitches and 12 fewer rows doesn't sound quite so daunting! I'm looking forward to getting started (but ugh, not so much casting on 300+ stitches ;-)  I'm also looking forward to the steek. I've coached a few students through the process, but this will be the first time that I've held the scissors.

Have you ever cut a steek? do you think it's scary or exciting?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ten on Tuesday | Labor Day Weekend.

With a nod to Labor Day, today Carole's asked us to share about our weekends. Here's a quick recap of ours.

1. Marc played four days of golf. He also watched more college football games than I can count, plus a little golf and a little tennis. He even handled Saturday and Sunday's dinners ("football food" at its finest - potato chips and homemade blue cheese dip, deli sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad...and beer!) 

...and now for my part of the weekend :-)
Monday morning with Becca
2. Four days of golf means a lot of time for "me". I spent Friday afternoon with Katie (we knitted while Charlie napped), Saturday morning (via FaceTime) with Diane, Sunday afternoon with Lydia, Monday morning with Becca, and Monday lunch with Lauren. It was wonderful to have so much one-on-one time with each of them. 

3. I enjoyed the cool(er) mornings - runs on Saturday and Sunday and a walk in the park with Katie on Monday.
Sunday morning's run
4. I was on the lookout for signs of fall...and I was surprised by how much color I saw!
Monday morning at the park
5. I finished up my summer reading (topic for another post) ... and started Laurie Colwin's wonderful Home Cooking (thank you Bonny for the recommendation!). Sharing a wonderful meal and talking about eating is the best. Lydia and I did that on Sunday and Lauren and I did it again on Monday :-)
yep, unsurpassed double whammy for sure!
6. We watched movies. Lydia and I saw The Light between Oceans in the theater on Sunday (it was really true to the book and highly recommend if you loved the story as much as we both did ... it's been a while since I read the book, but I think I might even like the movie better!) Marc and I watched Hello, My Name is Doris (Sally Field is marvelous) and Courage (meh, college football tearjerker, but still an ok story and I loved the late 1960's setting).

7. I knitted. still no FO's, but I'm close - next week for sure! I'm especially happy that I worked more than a repeat on the blue baby blanket and now "get" the pattern. The last six rows flew by when I didn't have to consult the written instructions. I wish Rowan used more charts!

.... and that's really it! I didn't mean to "ish" this list, but I couldn't figure out a way to turn it into a list of ten. And after a day with this guy, seven is really gonna be just fine!
"Hi!" from the playground at Whole Foods (after ice cream)
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful long weekend, too!  Thank you Carole, for giving us a great excuse to share all the details! ... and if you're not already playing along with the Ten on Tuesday fun, click here to join.