Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New (and Old) Friends.

Next to Marc, I've been friends with Francie longer than anyone else. We met the day I started my first job out of college (the one I retired from 27 years later). It was a very small company (I was employee number 34; she says she was 33) and we soon became co-workers and great friends. She and her husband Dale have celebrated many happy occasions with us - our wedding, the births of two daughters and the wedding of one. They relocated to Portland, Oregon in 1996 so we don't get to see each other very often, but it doesn't seem to matter. She's the kind of friend I can see for five minutes after a two-year gap and it seems like we just saw each other last week.

We spent a great day together yesterday, but for me, the highlight was introducing her to Sam,

having her see how much Charlie has grown and changed since she last saw him (at age three weeks); and then having dinner - just us girls - with Katie.

new friends. old friends. great friends. dear friends.

P.S. Francie also accompanied me and Katie to Paris in 2009 and me and Sara to Florence in 2014. Some of our favorite shared memories were made during those two trips and I love that they include Katie and Sara.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hello Monday.

yay for 10 minutes of pilates!
I hit the ground running (well, walking fast) this morning - with just a list in my head (choosing to spend that hour last night when I could've been making lists and getting organized knitting on the endless kidsilk haze and listening to a book) - and after 5-1/2 hours, I'm feeling good enough about where I am to take a few minutes to check in here.

It's going to be a busy week - I'm leaving as soon as I post this to spend the rest of the day with a friend visiting from Oregon (and woohoo - our dinner plans include seeing Katie and the boys!) My aunt arrives from Florida in the morning and my cousin joins us on Thursday. Hopefully there will also be time to share at least a few photos here.

Hope your week is off to a productive start, too!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ten More to Go.

The Polka Dot Wrap is progressing. I just completed the 17th (of 27) repeats. and I'm really wanting to finish it before I cast on the Colorwash Scarf ... tomorrow?!

Turns out this project is the perfect accompaniment to Lincoln in the Bardo (as both Margene and Vicki have shared, the audio is fantastic). I have 5-1/2 hours left to listen.

So that's how I'll be spending much of the rest of today - hopefully forward progress only!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An Updated View.

I mentioned yesterday that my desk also benefited from the bookshelf project ... and, from dear Honoré, a beautiful wooden rendition of my 2017 one little word - Light. Want to see?

This view holds many reminders of what's important in my life - photos of my parents and Katie and her boys, my dad's bible from when he was a teenager (a verse he'd highlighted is marked with a crocheted cross that a friend gave me when he passed), the handmade wooden cross from my church to mark his passing, devotions, "quiet" books (including works by Mary Oliver, E.B. White, Danny Gregory, Anne Lamott and Katrina Kenison), and of course the angels and those two wooden words.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. and sometimes a single word (or two) can tell a much bigger story.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Bookshelf Makeover.

aka how I spent* my first Tuesday without Charlie.

When I finished my closet "lightening" last month, I mentioned maybe wanting to tackle the bookshelf in my office. Today - that happened! It's not nearly as fun as a smiling toddler (and I'm just about as pooped out as one of those Tuesdays) but it feels good. and if any of y'all have similar projects waiting in the wings, maybe this will help.

I remembered to take the "before" photo this time. It looks a little different than the one I shared six weeks ago because this bookcase and the space in front of it seems to be my dumping ground. These shelves store books, knitting stuff (needles, yarn, patterns), photos and a few other bits of memorabilia**. 

My main purpose with today's project was the books and the yarn and I decided to tackle the books first. I did not follow Marie Kondo's process and empty everything out. Instead, I went shelf by shelf and aggressively culled my collection. Along the way, I rearranged. Here's what I was a left with after that first step.

And here's what I'm donating

and returning to the gracious ladies who've loaned me books I don't have any near-term plans to read.

I even brought back books that had been living in other places in my house. I do still have a small collection of books on my desk (but that's a post for another day)***.

Next, I tackled the yarn. I've done this (a few times) before, so I wasn't expecting to find much, but I did want to take stock. I pulled ALL the yarn off the shelves (sorry, no photo!), sorted through it and then purposefully put it all back. In the process, I found two skeins of green wool that I know I was saving for a hat ... that hopefully someone else will knit. The rest just got organized.
How about two empty shelves??!! 

I also revisited my Ravelry queue. I added and deleted (and didn't really make much attempt to organize) and ended up with 22 projects. I have yarn for 21 of those and I do intend to knit them! That 22nd project is the Calliopsis cowl that Kat mentioned two weeks back and I do intend to knit that too...with Shibui Reed that I just might be purchasing tomorrow. (Like I said, no order to the queue!)

I suppose it's a post for another day, too, how I might actually work my way through 22 projects. stay tuned.

And after the bookshelf, a walk with Renie and a trip to the mailbox, there's this

My newest word, thank you to dear Honoré****, and the timing could not have been better. I like making little shrines with the words and this one fits right in with I Carry Your Heart and the photo books/albums I have of the boys (on an end table in our keeping room).

Getting a project done felt like a good way to spend today. But I hope future Tuesdays are a lot more interesting ... for all of us! I also hope they include some knitting (which today has ... so far anyway, not!)

*in addition to running a few errands, voting and enjoying an afternoon walk with a girlfriend 😉

**I decided up front that the bottom shelf was going to be off-limits. That's where I have all my knitting patterns, magazines, books, etc. and our high school and college yearbooks. We have room. The shelves are neat enough. Not going there!

***I also have books in my living room and a few other "decorative" places in the house. Again, we have room and I like having the books be a real part of the decor.

****Honoré has been gifting me wooden words for years - you can see a few of them in the bookshelf - mere, focus, shine.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sometimes Mondays.

"borrowing" this Monday post idea from Michelle GD - just a small bit of the inspiration she's shared with  me!

...are full of unexpected delights.

It was nearly daylight when Marc and I passed the lake this morning headed home. (full disclosure if I'd paid attention to the sunrise time, this would not have been unexpected ... but I'm kind of glad I wasn't prepared for it!)

My afternoon plans got cancelled at the last minute - and my friend Lauren was available to meet for coffee.

The latest Field Guide arrived in today's mail - and I have the perfect yarn (thank you Bonny!) to knit one of the projects.

I spent the morning and a bit of the afternoon cleaning the porch - and got to enjoy a porch view (my first since last fall) for an early evening call with my mom.

Hoping all of this is an auspicious start to the week - and that your Monday included a few unexpected delights as well! (and if it didn't, please share some of mine vicariously 😊)

Friday, April 14, 2017

First Impressions.

I actually made it in 35 minutes - even with a missed turn!

The house is really wonderful (this was my first time seeing it in person). I can see them living there for years ... which is how long it might take Katie to recover from the move. and the unpacking. Here we are mid-morning.

By lunchtime we had most of the kitchen unpacked and put away. We spent the early afternoon on the pantry (sorry, no photos). I didn't think it was all quite ready for "after" photos, but still, feels like we made a ton of progress.

When I saw the Think Write Thursday topic this week - about treehouses - I thought immediately of this one.  What fun for the boys (and us grownups who get to play with them)!

The house was built in the 1950's, so the trees are tall and now, full green. This is the view looking up from the deck.

I left about 2:30 ... a few wrong turns later, I was back to that part of the map where the route takes a sharp turn north. This is the most traffic I've seen in a while - but I did make some headway in my (audio)book.

Tomorrow we're working on the boys' rooms - two bedrooms and a playroom. Maybe the in-progress photos will include little boys ... I hope so!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursdays with Sam | Smiling.

When I picked up Sam this morning, Katie told me she'd read this week's blog posts (and the comments - thank y'all!) and that it sounded like someone had died.  All those "thinking of you" and "keeping you in my thoughts" and yeah, I get what she means (and I love how supportive y'all have been, truly!). This move is really a good thing - they're super-excited about the house and the location - and "with light traffic it's just a 30 minute drive". point taken.

We're smiling!

I had two wonderful days with the boys this week and even snuck in an extra hour with little Sam yesterday.  Tomorrow and Saturday I'll see them again (I'm helping Katie unpack) ... and I have plans to see them all once they're settled in. Tuesdays with Charlie and Thursdays with Sam are going to look quite a bit different going forward, but we'll still have plenty of time together. Thank goodness "Atlanta" isn't really as far away as it sometimes seems!

and this just occurred to me as I writing the post - think of all the books I can listen to on those "30 minute drives" 😃

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Looking Back | March 2017.

Today we're looking back at March. I take these photos one day at a time and last month I even managed to keep up with organizing them (I have a folder in Photos for all the daily photos - makes it easy to remember which photo is "the one" for that day), but it wasn't until this morning that I made the collage. Seeing the month laid out like this, it gets me every.single.time.

We transitioned from winter sweaters, wooly cowls and boots to Friday afternoon walks with a beer and Saturday morning runs in shorts. I started a new Pilates practice and continued daily stitching.  It was a month full of blue skies, flowering trees, azaleas ... and smiling little boys.

I'm still writing April's story, but I think it's going to be really hard to top March!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesdays with Charlie | Little Acorns.

Little Acorns* was a favorite activity of ours last spring and summer. The photo booth, the train, story time, the toys, wishes in the fountain and even an occasional lunch out. 

Thinking today might be our first and last Little Acorns for this season, I was happy we managed to do all of those things.
the "Easter-ish" photo booth

the train - favorite car this season is a closed one
toys on the lawn
making a wish
grilled cheese ... only when he's out to lunch (with me!)
...and then I was most happy for a nice rest while Charlie took a long nap.

But the light of my day was working a sticker puzzle (from my mom) and then asking Charlie to smile so we could text Gramma a thank you. that smile.

Thank you for all your good wishes for smooth transitions this week. Your warm, virtual hugs are a big help!

*Tuesday morning playtime at the outdoor mall near our house. They setup a few Little Tykes-like toys, play very kid-friendly music on the loudspeakers and find local businesses to sponsor activities like face painting and coloring.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Smile | Beaufort 2017.

We really had a wonderful time.

from last night's dinner
I'm sure you can't tell.

I took this parting shot this morning on the drive out of town. The road makes a hard turn to the left just after this and that turn always signals the end of the weekend. 

...and now back to reality.  

Katie called on the drive home to say they had the keys to their new home (Monday closings are wonderful, I think!); and earlier she texted that her drive from the office to the new house was only 12 minutes. The moving vans come Thursday. Tomorrow is my last Tuesday with Charlie and Thursday, well... 

I did not watch last night's Homeland finale, but I peeked at the spoiler threads after dinner. I told Sara I would watch this afternoon, so I need to get on that!

More soon.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Think Write Thursday | Again for the Very First Time.

Today's Think Write Thursday topic is to tell about a book we wish we could read again for the very first time. It took me all of about two seconds to come up with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the seventh and last installment of the Harry Potter series (and even better if I could do it over the first two days of a girls beach week like I did back in 2007).

It's no secret that those books (and the movies) are all-time favorites. I'm grateful I got to experience the story as it evolved. and it's crazy to think that we once lived in a world where we didn't know how the story would turn out!

quick search through the mere-et-filles archives turns up quite a few mentions of Harry Potter - and many of them were Ten on Tuesday posts. Here's one about the things I love about the books, and this one about D.E.A.R. is a keeper if only for that adorable Charlie photo at the top (almost exactly a year ago!). I even found one from before I read that seventh book - about what I was planning to read on that beach trip (too bad there wasn't book bingo back then!)

But my favorite post - for reminding me about a wonderful time - is this one, from August, 2011.
Sara and I had a great day together just before she went back to school (her sophomore year at Georgia Tech). We saw the Harry Potter movie, we had lunch ... and of course we took a photo. Don't  we look young! (and happy!)

Thank you Kat and Carole for a fun topic and a great excuse to travel down memory lane!

I'm headed off to South Carolina this morning. I do have plans to blog with my iPad... and maybe this time I'll get the photos right!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday | Kidsilk Haze Island.

yay! joining in - for the first time this week - with Kat (and crew). Here's how Kat introduced the idea:
Welcome to Unraveled Wednesdays!  
I think this is something we all do rather well – in both knitting and reading. And, while unraveling a book might be less painless than unraveling your knitting – it is necessary occasionally.  
I hope you will join me on Wednesdays and unravel the stories you are reading and share your crafting inspiration – knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, quilting, weaving, drawing, etc.

Welcome to Kidsilk Haze island. That pile of knitting in the foreground is 9-1/2 repeats of the Polka Dot Scarf  (four balls of KSH on size 5 needles) and about 4" into the 2nd ball. The pattern calls for 27 total repeats (yippee! I'm a little past the one third mark!) I am finally comfortable enough with knitting this laceweight silk mohair to read a little on the straight stockinette rows.

The thought of any unraveling on this project is horrible (and knock on wood, I've been lucky so far), so I'm knitting slow and counting stitches. I haven't worked on any other projects since last Thursday. Testament to how slow I'm going ... and how much other stuff has intervened :-) ... that I'm "just" this far along.

The book is The Hours. I had no idea what to expect - I didn't see the movie (but whoa I want to now!) and I never read Mrs. Dalloway. I'm loving it - thank goodness it's short - just 230 pages - so hopefully I'll finish it soon in spite of the snails pace I'm reading at. I picked up the audio version of Mrs. Dalloway a week or two back and was thinking I'd finish The Hours before I started it. But I succumbed this morning. I'm just an hour into the recording and all sorts of things about The Hours are making much more sense. I'll save my reviews of both books until I've actually finished them - but so far - thumbs up!

I'm headed out of town tomorrow morning for a girls weekend. Thinking I'll knit the KSH in the car (my sister is driving :-), but planning to give myself a reprieve once we're there. Sunshine Coast needs some attention - we're going to the South Carolina coast and I can only hope we have lots of sunshine.

Thank you, Kat, for hosting us. I hope I haven't scared anyone away!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

100 Days of Finding Light.

Long story* short, I'm all in for this year's #the100dayproject. I'm going to explore light - my one little word for 2017.

Specifically, I'm planning to fill in this blank
Monday morning
today and for the next 99 days.

I have three of those "I find light ____" post-it notes - one on my bathroom mirror (above), one in my planner and one on the calendar on my desk.

Today, I found myself feeling lighthearted on the playground. There's nothing like a spring day with a toddler and a playground.
Tuesday morning
I just checked Instagram and see a few of y'all are participating in this challenge. I look forward to what we make and what we learn ... and sharing it.

Here's to 100 Days!

*Last year, I watched a few folks on Instagram play along with #the100dayproject and I thought "Yay, good for you!" This year, I saw the tags start to show up and thought "ok, another year" and "Yay, good for you!" ...until Saturday, when I (finally) read Honoré's post about April. I had a little time to explore the hashtag and what sort of unique hashtag I could make ... and by the time I went to bed I knew I wanted to participate. It wasn't until Sunday morning, when I watched Ali Edwards' OLW class video for April, that the whole thing clicked. and OH MY, I love it when stuff comes together like this.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hello April.

this afternoon - with a new spring wreath on the front door!
Hello April,

I'm glad to see you! You are our first real month of spring - so many shades of green (and pink!), the end of all that yucky pine pollen, cool mornings and evenings and days warmed by sunshine, maybe even some porch time and for sure, long evenings. You're also our last cool breath before summer and this year, thanks to those dark-early walks with Marc, I intend to savor you even more.

Thankfully, the first day passed without incident; the end of March threw me a few curve balls and I'm still feeling a bit wobbly. I'd especially ask you to be kind to Renie and the rest of Tom's family. and to Katie and her little family.

I've signed up for Michelle GD's Just Five Things (the class officially kicks off tomorrow) and I really don't know what to expect - except that we're going to write lists. I love lists. especially fun ones. so ... here are five fun things I'm wishing for this month:

1. lots and lots of laughter - and photos - from our annual Beaufort weekend.

2. a happy-ish (i.e., not completely devastating) end to Homeland Season 6.

3. more fun with Betty and Beth when they visit the end of this month.

4. getting ready for another summer of Book Bingo (yes, y'all, I have plans to host and I promise we will not be "generously interpreting" any weird squares!)

5. planning out a photo gallery for our entryway.

It sounds good, right? Let's get to it!

xo - M.

(I'm joining the Think Write Thursday crew a few days late - click here to see what everyone else wrote about April.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursdays with Sam | Food!

New thing today - Sam has started food!

This morning, Katie told me I had the very fun responsibility of introducing carrots. They're one of my favorite foods, so I was hoping it would go well. and I must say - the first serving was ... maybe not so great. But after bananas at mid-day, he seemed a lot happier with the carrots this afternoon.

She also told me "food is fun" at this stage. Indeed! It's certainly a touch and taste experience. I also told her I maybe should've just fed him in the bathtub.

p.s. our neighbor passed away yesterday. I know his wife and family are feeling all the love and prayers from y'all - thank you!
Renie's shawl ... slow progress

p.p.s. we are watching the news about the terrible highway collapse in Atlanta. Katie normally travels that route every afternoon, but today - she had a business dinner downtown. She's fine (and taking a different route home tonight) ... and while she's worried about what her commute will be for the next two weeks, she's glad it's just two weeks. Her new commute won't be anywhere close to that intersection. It seems a miracle - but so far, no one's been hurt. and I've got plenty of time to find a different route to visit her.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

More and Less | March 2017.

Instead of sharing little updates about all of my intentions, this month I'm going to dive deep into just one. In last month's recap, I mentioned a "new practice" around mindfulness.

With a huge debt of gratitude to Kat (first her beautiful inspiration and then a chain of emails full of great advice!), I started daily stitching in February.

My "plan" when I started last month (and wow, was February 1 really only 57 days ago?!) was a monthly journal. I cut a piece of linen, acquired a dozen or so balls of size 8 perle cotton and dove in.
February 6

It took less than a week ... and I stalled out. I saw the first daffodil blooms, but had no yellow thread. and I stressed about the stitches (I did some crewel embroidery as a teenager, but that was eons ago!) to use. It wasn't very mindful!

I'd just started reading Marianne Williamson's A Year in Miracles; I decided to focus on a few lines from each devotion and simple running stitches. It worked. I enjoyed the creativity of choosing a thread and deciding where to place the stitches. But after that, my mind was free to meditate on the words.
February 28

For March, I simplified my approach even more. I limited the number of colors and planned to use only straight stitches, horizontal and vertical lines. The simpler approach and rhythm of the stitching was exactly what my mind needed...
March 4
... until I started struggling with the devotions. And the simplest solution of all presented itself. I'm using this stitching time for prayer.

Of all the daily habits I've attempted, this one has been the easiest. I look forward to the time and whereas I couldn't always "find" 15 minutes for yoga, I've had no trouble finding it to stitch! I like, too, that I'm making something with those minutes (and it's not knitting). I haven't decided what I'll do - if anything? - with the finished pieces. I'm thinking I might stretch them over a canvas board (the pieces are about 7"x9" so would fit nicely over an 8x10). or maybe I'll wait until the end of the year and do something with them all together. Welcome your ideas!
March 29