Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Selfie | Sense of Touch.

I've joined a Sunday school class this season for an opportunity to dig a little deeper into Dickens' A Christmas Carol; we're reading The Redemption of Scrooge. Today's discussion focused on chapter two, The Remembrance of Christmas Past and how Christmas memories - and more generally our past - shape our today and tomorrow. I'm the youngest member of class, by at least 15 years!?!, and I enjoyed the stories of WWII-era childhood Christmases. 

We only had an hour, so maybe that's why we didn't get to one of my favorite parts of the chapter. The author talks about how many of our memories are centered around our senses - the sights, sounds, smells and tastes ... but "probably the most underrated sense during the Christmas season is the sense of touch." (p. 68) He then introduces a "touch inventory". What have my hands been doing all week? What is the thing I've most often touched?
Shades of brown and gray at my kitchen counter
...of course, I thought about knitting. Yarn and knitting needles are probably what my hands touch most.

But when I started thinking about all the things my hands have been doing this week - wow! - it's a long list. My phone, computer keys, food (I'm eating popcorn as I type this), mugs and glasses, dishes, soap and water, towels, clothing, bedding, mail (birthday cards!), a pen and paper, books, Holly, people (Marc, Katie, girlfriends, friends at church), my drivers license and car key, a credit card and even a little bit of cash ... and the list could go on and on.

I don't often think about the sense of touch as a blessing, but beyond that, how easy it is to count my blessings when I list those things I touch. and as Thanksgiving week begins, I'm looking forward to touching more family and friends, getting up close and personal with a turkey and a few sides ... and my knitting.

What are you looking forward to touching this week?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cheers | Cranberry Mule.

I was a little late to the Mule Party because I was under the most mistaken impression that Mules were vodka drinks. But once I tried one with gin, and found a spicy ginger beer (that comes in diet!) ... well, it's now a favorite.

For warm weather mules, I use lemon juice, gin and ginger beer (the classic recipe uses lime juice, vodka and ginger beer). With the holidays approaching, I started looking for something that wasn't quite so citrusy. I found a delicious recipe that uses apple cider in place of some of the citrus (of course I substituted gin for the vodka, but I kept the lime). And then I started looking for one with cranberry. This one fit the bill - and it's so pretty! - but it was too sweet (and I never even made those sugared cranberries). I tinkered a bit and tried out my much simpler version with Karen this week. We agree - it's a winner!

Cranberry Mule
(inspired by Home Sweet Jones)

1/2 oz rosemary simple syrup*
1/2 oz unsweetened cranberry juice
1-1/2 oz gin (or vodka)
3 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

Fill a glass with ice. Combine first three ingredients, and pour over ice. Top with ginger beer. Squeeze in the lime wedge and then it add to the glass. Stir just to combine.


*I like a not-so-sweet syrup - 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, I take the pan off the heat and add a few rosemary sprigs. Once the syrup cools, I remove the rosemary. This syrup keeps in the refrigerator for weeks. It's also quite nice with prosecco and little splash of spiced pear liqueur.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Alaska | Anchorage.


If it's Friday, this must be Alaska. Today's travelogue is from Thursday, August 24 - the end of the cruise and the beginning of a long weekend in Anchorage. Our ship docked dark early in Seward

and we boarded the train for Anchorage.
from the Alaska Railroad website
This was our first of three train trips on the Alaska Railroad; I can't say enough good things about the company, the service, ... and oh my goodness the views. The trip from Seward to Anchorage (via Girdwood) is about four hours and it's fully narrated.
yay for knitting
and a full-service bar
We planned to travel the Anchorage to Grandview route again on Sunday; I have more photos to share from that trip - this is just a quick taste!



We arrived in Anchorage, checked into our hotel (the Historic Anchorage Hotel - really delightful and very close to the train station), had lunch (pizza!) and then took the Trolley Tour. This was a wonderful introduction to the city and its history. Our tour guide was energetic and entertaining. Highly recommend if you're ever in Anchorage.

Anchorage is a very pretty city and it was in full bloom.
in front of city hall 


The Anchorage natives call this monument to Eisenhower (president when Alaska became a state) "Eisenhower on the Half Shell"; the flowers are the best part!

We had dinner at Tequila 61° ... great food, cold beer ... and a fun bar scene.
Then early-ish to bed so we'd be up and ready for the train to Talkeetna. Stay tuned ... next week!

Happy Friday, y'all!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Three on Thursday | Grateful.

...continuing with the theme:

1. Marc's continued commitment to moving more. We went shopping on Monday for his second new pair of shoes this year. Walking 3.5 miles every morning wears out shoes! Here he is snapping a photo of the old and new pairs to share on Instagram (I love that, too!)

2. Those morning walks have been wonderful for our relationship, too. There is something about walking together that makes it easier to talk. Of course being outside - and away from the TV - is healthy too.

3. The encouragement and community around NaBloPoMo. I look forward to seeing all the posts in my feed reader ... and reading the comments you share here. It's certainly a challenge to keep up (I find I'm usually a day behind), but the conversation is so inspiring. And hey, we're on the downhill stretch now, y'all!

from this morning's walk - the trees just to the right are lit with twinkle lights ... makes for an interesting "dark early" photo!
Head over to Carole's to see more Three on Thursday posts!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday.

Joining in with Kat and crew today to share about books and knitting.

I haven't told y'all how obsessed I've been with Andrea Mowry's Comfort Fade Cardi - because until Tanis posted kits on November 3, I hadn't found yarn that I wanted to use (and could afford). Dark early that Friday morning, I placed my order for the Mona Lisa kit and asked if I could substitute Chestnut for Tartan. Tanis has little ones; she replied right back that it would be no problem. And even shipping from Canada, the yarn arrived Monday.
Chestnut, Stone, Mona Lisa, Sand
... too late to wind and swatch.

And then yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing Nicole Krauss at the book festival. Y'all - total fan girl moment!
She's smart, and articulate, and kind, and funny, and ... she even said it was great that I had two books for her to sign. Hearing her talk about the why and the process of writing Forest Dark* (I was about one-third through it yesterday), has made me want to slow down to really savor the words and the story.

...in any event, by the time I got home it was too late to wind and swatch.

I'll bet you know where this story's headed, don't you?

Yep, this morning I wound those four skeins. Oh aren't they pretty?

Then I knitted a "fade" (whoa, it takes a bunch of rows!), washed and dried (to just damp) it and let it air dry to finish. And finally, about an hour ago, I measured. Woohoo - it's perfect!
(and the gauge is spot on too)

I was skeptical about this whole fade thing - and about using a super wash merino - but that blocked swatch has convinced me... it's ok!

Happy Wednesday! happy halfway through NaBloPoMo!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Honoré!!!

*I actually won an advance copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway but the reviews from my friends (some of y'all) made me reluctant to even read it. When I found out Nicole would be at the book festival, I decided to give it a chance. Something is different for me, because I'm loving it. It's not A History of Love, but I've already read that book (at least three times). This is an engaging exploration of new territory.



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesdays are for Poetry.

Today's poem is from a slim volume I bought in Sitka. The author owns the Sitka Rose Gallery, our first stop on the artist walking tour. It's always a treat to buy a book directly from the author (and I'm thinking this one, which doesn't even have a Goodreads entry, is going to be my micro press selection for the 2017 Read Harder Challenge).

From the author biography in the back of the book:
Eugene Solokov was born in Russin in 1964. He immigrated to the US when he was thirteen. He spent his teenage years in New York City, and received his BA in History from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He spent five years traveling around the world. In 1993, he opened, and continues to operate, the Sitka Rose Gallery.
I think I remember Eugene telling me that he wrote many of these poems while his marriage was breaking up. It's a bittersweet collection for sure.

The poem "I hate you more and love you always" repeats these two lines "My love for you is always, do not fear." and "I hate you more with every day, my dear." And the shortest piece in the book, "Divorce" is three simple lines:

It's only divorce,
it could have been worse: a flu
or an aneurysm.

There are 27 poems in all, including a collection of haikus. One of my favorites, though, is the title poem.

How to Frame a Landscape

It's easy. Point and shoot. Then, cut out
the unsmiling man in the left corner
or the one picking his nose in the right
or the dog urinating on a fire hydrant
or the boy blowing chewing gum over his face
or the wife wandering off with her lover.

You can also add details which aren't there:
a screaming eagle with a salmon in his claws
or a happily married couple holding hands
or your grandma strolling in her peculiar
yellow, polka-dot dress, both long departed.

Use Photoshop. Enhance, manipulate colors.
Add, subtract, multiply. Move the borders.
Lobotomize the photograph. It's easy to learn
how to frame a landscape properly,
to your liking. It's almost as easy as framing
a person, a friend perhaps, or a husband.

It's made me think about the photographs I share here. What I crop out. How I edit the colors or paint over them with Waterlogue. (I'm not good enough with Photoshop to do much else.) The ones I decide not to share. (the photos I don't take.) and as Marc and I approach our 34th anniversary, that last bit certainly gives me pause.

Thank you, Eugene, for giving me a different perspective, so beautifully described. I am enjoying it!
oops, we were in Sitka on the 22nd! but I decided that was a bit of landscape I didn't need to re-frame 😊

Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekending.

Christmas crafting :: knitting with friends :: coffee knitting (by myself) :: planning projects :: Friday night snacks :: sunrise on a morning walk :: great football

Our weekend was full of many good things ... hope yours was too!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Selfie Sunday | Morning Run.


Three miles down to the lake and back is my favorite Sunday morning workout. It's quick (which is a good thing when I need to leave for church at 9:15) and quiet. There's never much traffic in our neighborhood on Sundays; I have the road to myself. and my thoughts. and my ears are filled only with the steady rhythm of my feet hitting the asphalt. Good for my body, and my soul.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cheers | an Old Fashioned.

When my sister was over last Saturday, we were talking cocktails (as we do), and she mentioned that this is Old Fashioned Week. Great, I thought, that will be the perfect recipe to share for next week's Cheers - fully expecting that she would treat me to her version (and allow a few photos) when we met at her house for knitting on Wednesday. Well... she forgot (we enjoyed a very tasty pomegranate cider margarita instead) and I was on my own! She did send me a few recipes Thursday evening
um, yikes! I had no idea there was so much variation in recipes!
and we agreed the more traditional approach (i.e., not a fruit salad) was best.

I decided to use Cointreau to take some pressure off the orange peel muddling step, but kept the rest of the ingredients and preparation simple.

Old Fashioned

1 sugar cube
Angostura bitters
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz water
1 orange peel (I used a vegetable peeler and was able to get mine about 1" x 2")
2 oz bourbon

Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add two dashes of bitters, Cointreau and water, then muddle to dissolve the sugar. Add the orange peel when the sugar is almost dissolved and muddle it, too.

Add ice (I don't have those fancy big cubes, but one of those would be perfect; I used a small handful of the cubes from my ice maker), then bourbon and stir.

Pairs well with a fire (and some easy knitting 😉).

Now that I'm getting more comfortable with bourbon cocktails, I'm looking forward to the Fairytale of New York (shared in a previous Cheers post). That Winter Warmth syrup is a great mix-in for all sorts of holiday cocktails... and of course a batch mixed up now will take you into the new year!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Alaska | Hubbard Glacier.


Yippee - it's Friday! In today's installment of the Alaska Travelogue, it's Wednesday, August 23. We travel to the Hubbard Glacier and celebrate my mom's birthday and our last night on the ship.

When we left off last week, leaving Sitka, the skies were blue and the air was warm. What a difference a night on the open sea makes!
6:20 am
6:40 a.m.
A little over an hour later, the water was full of bergy bits and growlers.

And by 8:00 am, we could see Hubbard Glacier. It's huge (six miles wide and up to 400 feet tall)! We were still a few miles away here.

Our ship stopped about a mile away and turned in circles to afford everyone views.

It was the chilliest time we'd had on board. I love this photo with even more knits layered over me and Lydia (those extra knits are inside the Observation Lounge and we were outside).


A view off to the left of the glacier (as the ship was turning).

One of the staff (on his third or fourth Alaska cruise) suggested I try to capture the ship and the glacier as we were leaving. It's hard to get a ship and a glacier into one photo!

It's a little easier when the ship is further away ... and you don't get as much ship.

It was also surprisingly hard to photograph the glacier. It really is blue. And there was not much contrast between the water, the glacier, the surrounding mountains and the sky. Most of the photos I've shared here were taken with my phone.

By 8:45 am, we were cruising back out of Disenchantment Bay, headed for Seward, where we would disembark early the next morning.

Despite the relatively short time we spent by the glacier, the cruise did an excellent job making it a Really Big Deal. There was a lovely spread of sandwiches and pastries, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the Observation Lounge (along with all the coffees). This was the only sight that we saw exclusively from the ship. We really appreciated that there were fewer than 400 passengers on board. Even that "crowd" left plenty of room for everyone to see.

Of course, our little group had another celebration that day - my mom's birthday. Our steward hung birthday decorations in our cabin and brought everyone a mimosa for a birthday morning toast. Mother and I had lunch together.

...and then I know we played trivia; we didn't even place in the tournament but we had so much fun! and packed. The last night on the ship was casual and - thankfully - a little warmer outside by the time we dressed for dinner. Back to our pre-dinner mirror selfie shenanigans!


For dessert, our steward ordered a birthday cake and the wait staff sang Happy Birthday.

And then we tried (and tried and tried) to get some group photos. These are my favorites of all of us, Steve & Lydia and Karen & Ron.




Our cruise was almost over, but not our Alaska trip. Stay tuned - I have a few more days to share.

And yay! This is the 10th post for NaBloPoMo (which means we're one-third of the way through). I'll be back tomorrow with a cocktail (assuming this evening's taste testing goes as planned). Happy Friday!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Three on Thursday | Grateful.

...continuing with the theme I introduced last week:

1. Brighter mornings. I took this photo at about 7:30 Monday morning - no lamp light required!

2. Saying "yes" to something new. A friend texted me Monday to ask if I'd like to attend the book festival with her Tuesday afternoon. Both books sound like fun (and The Forever Summer has an interesting premise about the impacts of DNA testing on "family secrets" that might make for a great bookclub discussion). She also invited me to attend next Tuesday's event when Nicole Krauss will be solo-ing. (I started reading Forest Dark last night.)

3. A slow morning. That's me and my knitting (yay - a new project!) in front of the fireplace mid-morning.

Joining in with Carole and crew for Three on Thursday.