Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On Reading | 2017 (so far).

Last December, I wrote a post about my reading plans for 2017. In a nutshell, I wanted to continue reading more diversely in terms of genre (30% non-fiction) and author gender and nationality and I wanted to make better use of the library (50% borrowed). I didn't plan on setting a goal for how many books I'd read, but Goodreads is a tough master and I eventually caved; I set a goal of 75 books.

I finished #75 last week and thought it would be a good time check-in.
details on Goodreads here
This morning I updated my tracking spreadsheet to add two charts - which show that I'm behind on both the goals I set!


Only 16 of the 75 books have been non-fiction (which includes biographies and memoirs) - but of those 16, a whopping six are on my 5-star list. ...and that's why I'm going to continue to push myself to read non-fiction.


31 books have come from the library, Overdrive or friends. Only three of my 5-star books were borrowed. What I realized is that I like to buy books I really love - not so much to re-read them, but to be able to share them with others. I also buy the books I read with my small group because we typically read slowly and I like to make notes and highlight. Further - I didn't track this, but I suspect it's true - many of the "owned" books were previous year purchases. In other words, I'm reading through stash 😉 (and that doesn't count, right?!) Overall, I feel pretty good about what I'm borrowing vs. buying. Next year, I'll track "new" vs. "shelved", too.

As points of interest, I also tracked a few more things about the authors:

Gender - 39 female (52%)
Person of Color - 13 (17%)
Nationality - 50 United States (a whopping 67%! and I could count on one hand how many were non-US and non-British)

Whoa, that's certainly not as diverse as I'd like.

But when it comes down to it - I choose most of the books I read because I think I'll love them (or one of my neighbors chose it for bookclub). A few I choose because I think they'll make me a better person or educate me about something I need to know about. But mostly, it's just for fun. And I am OK with that.

That said, I am still working on this year's Read Harder Challenge. I have a ways to go (11 more books!), but I own eight of them already and one I'm getting from Overdrive - A Wrinkle in Time (can you believe I've never read it?!) - is ready to borrow. I haven't run the numbers, but I suspect the author diversity stats will look a lot better once I finish those 11 books. We'll see!

When I wrote that December post, I asked if you were setting any reading goals for 2017. If you did, have those goals affected how you read this year?

So whew, another longer-than-I-intended post! Thank you for sticking with me!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Weekending.

I have two big stories to share from the weekend. First - we found fall!
at the park, Friday afternoon
Friday was a glorious fall day. Holly and I enjoyed an afternoon walk in the park, soaking up sunshine and marveling at the colors. Well, I did ... Holly chased after and barked at squirrels.

The main event, though, was Sam's first birthday party. He turned one on Wednesday (can you believe it's been a year already?!) and we celebrated with family and friends on Saturday afternoon. I had the privilege of baking the cakes (a roasted apple spice cake from Smitten Kitchen). The baking took much of Friday (and nearly all my pans) and I finished them Saturday morning. Happy to report - they turned out beautifully!

I made a two-layer 7x11 cake for the guests and a two-layer 5" round for the birthday boy. (I made the full cake recipe and there was also enough batter for a short loaf cake ... which I am still enjoying.)  It took Sam a few minutes to get the whole "smash cake" thing

but he did figure it out eventually

with a little help from his brother. Of all the photos I took, this one is my favorite.

But this one, from my sister, is my new lock screen photo.
selfie session photo bombed!
and here's the best of what Charlie captured when he pushed the camera button.

It was a good thing all that fun happened Saturday; we needed yesterday to rest!

I saw snow pop up in my Instagram feed yesterday. Yikes - it's still October! But not, I guess, for much longer. Still, here's to a wonderful FALL week!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Alaska | Skagway.


Back to Alaska! Monday, August 21 we docked in Skagway.

We loved seeing the welcome sign from the White Pass and Yukon (railroad) Route - that was our #1 excursion and the only one all six of us did together.

We docked late morning and the train wasn't leaving until noon. I had time for leisurely cappuccino (one of many I enjoyed on the ship - I was more of a latté fan until the trip ... I'm a cappuccino convert now!)

By noon, the skies were clearing

and the six of us were all smiles as we got underway.
selfies when we're all sitting down are much easier


From the excursion's website:

"Against all odds, the iron trail was carved through some of the North’s most rugged terrain in 1898. This engineering wonder climbs nearly 3,000 feet in 26 miles of steep grades and cliff-hanging turns.

This 54 mile round trip climbs from tidewater at Skagway past the White Pass Summit to Fraser Meadows. The fully narrated tour passes through two tunnels, over sky-high trestles and cascading waterfalls, all while being pulled by one of our historic steam locomotives."

The trip completely lived up to all the hype!



approaching the Pass

the "bridge not taken" (thankfully!)
It is completely mind-boggling to think about these tracks being laid over 100 years ago.  It is also crazy to think about the gold rush pioneers traveling this country on foot/muleback.
coming into Fraser Meadows
We had a 20-minute stop at Fraser Meadows to refuel (coal and water) the locomotive. They poured sparkling wine to toast the halfway point of the trip.


Refueled, we headed back to Skagway.


Seriously, can you imagine hauling timber and iron through this country?

Back to the ship. Again, I'm sure we played trivia and enjoyed cocktails and a delicious dinner, but I have no photos to share. I do, however, have one from that night's show. This was the first night we stayed up to see it (and only three of us stayed up). Wow!

The next two nights the shows were earlier; we made a point to see them.

Next stop - Sitka.

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Three on Thursday | Planning a New Project.

Joining in with Carole, Kat and crew to share three things ... about planning my next sweater project. Kat asked yesterday if we were "planning any knitting". I told her I almost spit out my coffee - I am always planning what I'm going to knit next. or next month. or someday.

For sweater knitting, my planning generally involves three key steps:

1. Choosing the pattern. This one - Bodie, designed by Elizabeth Doherty, came across my new pattern feed on Saturday morning. I fell in love immediately - the piece looks fun to knit (a must for me) and it would fill a gap in my wardrobe. We all need a go-with-everything medium-weight cardigan, right?

2. Choosing the yarn/color. This has become a lot more fun since I quit working at the shop. I now feel free to knit with whatever yarn I choose and I don't feel guilty about buying it on sale from an on-line store. (yes, Webs and I are now fast friends.) This pattern suggests a lovely wool/cashmere blend from Plucky Knitter. Sadly, that's not in my budget. I thought Blue Sky's Woolstok might work, but Elizabeth thought it might be too thick and suggested I swatch to see. so...

3. Swatching*.  One of my friends had a nice-sized ball of Woolstok leftover from another project. Yesterday I knitted the swatch (the pattern isn't out yet, but Elizabeth has published swatching instructions - love it!), blocked it and waited somewhat impatiently for it to dry. This morning I measured - it's perfect! So I went back to step 2, chose a color (a go-with-everything greige) and placed my order!

The pattern will be released next month and I plan to be ready to cast on right away. At the rate Taproot is coming along, I might even have time for something else in between. Good knitter problems, amIright?!

*Swatching is only a key step in my sweater knitting. I rarely swatch for accessories - unless they need to fit (e.g., hats and socks) - and then only if I'm using a yarn that's a lot different than the pattern suggests. But for sweaters, it's a must. For Taproot, I'm using the recommended yarn, but I had to go down a needle size (and my row gauge is still a little big). For Bodie, I'm using a different yarn but the suggested needles worked fine.  How do you approach swatching?


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday.

Thank you all for your kind notes and good wishes about my ankle. Holly and I did get out today for a very slow walk and while I won't be running anytime soon, I think I'll be back to walking with Marc in another day or two.

Apart from that walk, we spent most of the day in that same chair I showed you yesterday, knitting the same sweater (Taproot) and listening to the same book (4 3 2 1). Mid-afternoon, though, I put the sweater on waste yarn and got up for a try-on before I started the hip increases. Super happy with the fit so far

and loving the cable detail that shows up much better on the dress form by the window.

I'm also loving the book ... eight hours in (it's 37 hours total). Thank you to Kat for the recommendation! I've had mixed results with authors narrating their own books, but this one's a winner.

Head on over to Kat's to see what others are knitting and reading - and thank you Kat for hosting us!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Silly* Story.

Yesterday's rain was long gone by the late afternoon and I took full advantage to get Holly out for a walk. There were a few puddles, but the skies were blue and there was even a nice breeze that put a real spring in Holly's step. After all the rain, I was delighted to find an intact camellia blossom.

The leaves were singing a song and I looked up to see (and maybe to take a video with my phone) ... then slipped off the sidewalk and rolled my ankle.

Ugh. I've spent the last 24 hours on Rest-Ice-Elevation and I think it's going to be OK. Thank goodness for knitting and audiobooks (more on both of those tomorrow) ... and a sweet dog who is more than happy to sit quietly by my side.
the ankle behind the knitting is a little swollen and bruised, but definitely on the mend!
*I told Katie and Charlie last night that it was a "stupid" story; they told me they don't use that word. When I asked what word they might suggest to take its place, they said "silly". I think I understand where they're coming from; I'm not sure my dictionary does.

Stupidhaving or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.

Silly - having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.

For sure this story shows a great lack of common sense...

Monday, October 23, 2017

Weekending.

It was a beautiful weekend here. The weather was glorious.
Saturday afternoon walk
Sunday morning run

The blanket did not have to see the Yankees lose two in a row.
bound off Friday afternoon
We figured out how to take photos from FaceTime, which ended up involving multiple FaceTimes.

I'm not complaining!

Hope you found something to not complain about, too ... happy Monday!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Alaska | Juneau.


Sunday, August 20, was "Juneau Sunday". We docked mid-morning



and - wearing all the knits - I was ready to go!

We disembarked and quickly found a stranger to take our photo.

I was surprised - given how chilly and un-sunny it was - to see so many summer flowers. Apparently they thrive in long, wet days.

Lydia and I met up with our excursion - the photo safari, aka "Whales and Mendenhall Glacier". Our tour guide was a professional photographer and Juneau native. There were only about a dozen of us on the tour which was wonderful; we all got personal attention.
harbor where the whale watching began
I took a lot of photos on that tour ... here are best ones. I've already shared this first one - I think that's the fluke of Flame.

We saw at least six whales in the hour-plus we were in the bay. I managed to capture two more flukes with my camera.


It's easy to get so engrossed watching the water that you miss the land. The scenery is spectacular.

We left the bay and took another quick ride to the walking trail near the glacier. We hiked about a mile through a very lush tropical forest.


Our guide helped me with this next photo - close-in with a v-e-r-y slow shutter speed. Cool, huh?

All of a sudden, the trail opened up and there's the glacier, with Mendenhall Lake in the foreground.

Here we are at the visitor center.

I was surprised we could walk right up to the lake. #fromwhereIstand

The bus met us near the visitor center and returned us to the ship. It started to pour just as we got back. We abandoned plans to explore a little more of Juneau and got back on board to warm up. I know we played trivia that afternoon (we didn't miss a single day) and then - obviously - we cleaned up before dinner.

This last photo is the only one I have from the entire cruise of the food. It was all delicious ... and all as beautiful as this.

Next stop - Skagway.

Happy Friday everyone ... have a wonderful weekend.