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Thursday, September 30, 2010

scenes from my life.

...this started out as three different blog posts (one of which would've been this morning but earthlink was uncharacterically unavailable), probably spread out over two or three days, but while I was editing the photos, I realized this was a much better "day in the life" story.

it still sneaks up on me that I've been "retired" for eight months. I'm working less hours at cast-on cottage which is allowing me more time. for other things.

like the 2-day walk. it's this weekend (btw - we are only $25 from our $2,500 goal as I type this and WOW! thank you!) and I've been volunteering at the office (and tomorrow downtown at the marriott) to help get things ready. buttons, nametags, personal fans, tshirts, phone calls, filing, .... I'm so grateful to be able to contribute!

and I'm hopefully going to be teaching more. now that the shop has moved and has more space, we can offer more classes. I've picked up another beginner class on wednesday mornings, starting next week. my monday night beginners have progressed into a mostly advanced beginner phase, and I find myself really looking forward to showing a new group how to cast on, knit and purl. and the sunday sweater class is evolving into "knit something seamless". I'm still going to be knitting my own sweaters using those techniques, but I'm no longer going to require my students to knit what I'm knitting. we'll see how that goes!

and now we'll get to the originally scheduled material. first about patience. and waiting. and knitting (of course). I knit a lot. and now I always have a project that lives in my purse to save me from waiting. lately that project has been a sock. they're really portable because they're small and most of the socks I knit aren't very complicated so they're quick and easy to pick up and put down. and lately I find myself looking for opportunities to wait knit on my socks. the bank. the AT&T store. the hair salon. and yesterday, the car wash.

I don't think it takes patience to knit. nope, I think it takes way more patience to NOT knit.

second about cooking. yes, really, cooking. I cannot believe we've been empty nesters for six weeks now. the time has flown. marc has traveled, I've traveled, the end of our summer was hot beyond belief and last night I finally cooked. for two. 
click the photo to see notes

nothing elaborate, just turkey meatloaf and creamed spinach (thank you sara for the recipe - and that I had laughing cow cheese!). but it was hot from the oven, tasted great and made leftovers.

and third, socks. finished socks. I've been knitting these monogamously (I wrote beth earlier this week that it was very hard to type that word and I wasn't even sure I was spelling it right) to clear my needles for the pink ribbon socks (sorry, all I could find is a ravelry link) that karen and I are taking on this weekend's walk. we have grand plans to knit these pink socks at lunch and dinner and to photograph them at b'rest stops and along the way. and whew, I finished this pair this morning. just in time!

...and that's it. probably not what I'd envisioned. and honestly (still) so much better.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 things in my refrigerator right now.

1. fat free organic milk - I love that this milk is so ultra pasteurized it lasts for weeks...I only use a little bit each day (heated in the microwave for 30 seconds thankyouverymuch) for coffee so it needs to stay fresh for a long time.

2. laughing cow cheese. sara introduced this to me. it's very spreadable and comes in a perfect single serving size wedge. I like it on bread, apples and carrots.

3. boxed mixed greens. when sara was still home, we'd have three kinds of salad greens and use them all up every week. now this one box lasts two weeks.

4. tomatoes.

5. spinach. I bought a huge bag at costco last week and we haven't opened it up yet. I was hoping for cooler (hello fall, are you here or not?!) weather to make creamed spinach. maybe tonight....

6. eggs. marc loves them for breakfast. I like having them on hand for baking muffins or scones.

...and moving on to a few of the things you can't see...

7. hot sauce. thanks to katie's love for spicy, we have four different kinds.

8. mustard. dijon and spicy.

9. capers. we buy a huge jar at costco and I'm amazed how quickly we use it up, maybe because it's essential for bread salad?

10. left over vinaigrette.

(thankful this topic didn't land in my inbox for last week - items 7 - 10 would've been there, but that was about it!)

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Monday, September 27, 2010

the rest. in the rest of portland (not the kind of rest I'm hoping to get this week before karen & I walk 30 miles this weekend!). in short, the rest of the trip continued the same theme of lovely food and wine, beautiful surroundings and friends. there are lots more photos over on flickr, but these nine sum things up pretty well.

(p.s. I hope sara notices the fall 2010 update - kudos to her for only asking, not full out nagging, when we met for dinner on friday!)

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 ways to have a happy birthday.

(I am slightly recovered from yesterday's red-eye return flight, but not yet to the point of downloading photos - or honestly, even unpacking! - so it will be a few more days before I can blog about the rest of our fabulous trip...thanks to ten on tuesday for providing an easy blog topic for today - and happy birthday, carole!!)
celebratory cupcake and candle to mark my 1st blogaversary
 1. make a wish. I'm a huge fan of blowing out candles - no matter what they're sitting in (see #2).

2. enjoy cake. or creme brulee. or cheesecake. or berries and sorbet. or pie. in our family, it's all about having your favorite dessert!

3. share a meal with your friends.

4. count your blessings. look back over the past year and take a few moments to really savor the good parts.

5. indulge. in a favorite food or pastime (or both).

6. connect with family and friends. especially love getting phone calls from my parents and my girls.

7. forget about your chores. this is a day to celebrate, not to do laundry or vacuum!

8. think about next year. it's good to start planning the "big things" you want to be able to look back on (see #4) - especially if you're approaching a milestone birthday.

9. smile big and take a picture. so you have a happy photo to mark the day.

10. have fun. do something that makes you laugh out loud.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

this one gets better.

...this story begins (after a very long walk and five episodes of mad men) with a visit to twisted to see the never not knitting trunk show. I am a huge fan of alana's designs and it was wonderful to see everything knit up and looking even better in person than I imagined.
and it gets better: sitting behind this display is sivia harding. yes, that sivia harding. turns out she works there. I bought two of her patterns and she signed them for me.

and it gets better: our next stop was the airport to pickup katie. and then back to francie's for dinner.

and it gets better: we opened some wine, made dates stuffed with marcona almonds and blue cheese for a snack.
love it - those are katie's hands in there :-)
 and watched francie make her specialty fig pizza (she uses a baking stone, homemade crust topped with blue cheese, fresh figs marinated in balsamic, proscuitto and arugula - yes, it's oh-my-fabulous!).

and it gets better: we ate and drank and talked and laughed.

I can't wait to see how today's story unfolds.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

it begins.

it begins
Originally uploaded by mere2007

...a lovely setting, delicious food and wine, shared with two of Francie's friends. it was dark by the time they left. the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of my visit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

a room of my own.

...I've been talking about doing this for months (the original concept was a "retirement room") and yesterday, with Beth's help, it finally happened. I now have a room of my own! it feels like a lifetime since I last had a room to myself - 1983 was a lifetime ago, right? And I'm sure it will take all of us a while to stop calling it "Katie's room", but it definitely looks like "Mary's room" now!

Fortunately, Katie last painted the walls a fabulous bright blue and her furniture has worked well for my various yarn and knitting pursuits. When she moved to New York last summer, I cleared out the desk and the armoire and I've been slowly filling them with handknits, yarn, books and all the other stuff serious knitters need. And the bed was great for blocking (I'm sure you'll recognize the orange sheets). But I got a little lazy about organization...I think because it was a room I would visit for a quick purpose - like to wind a skein of yarn, or find a pattern or needles - but not one where I could stay a while. The only place to sit was on the bed - or the floor (but that got difficult, too!)

Here's how it looked earlier this week, when I decided to get serious about redoing the space:
the bed with the famous orange sheets

the desk. simply a mess
And thanks to Beth (fellow bloggers are very good about identifying perfect photo opportunities!), here's one photo from the move itself:
yes that's me with a power tool - the black chair is huge (and heavy!) and we had to remove the feet to get it up the two flights of stairs (I am not going to whine here about the TWO trips we had to make to Lowe's to get the right "piece" to actually remove the screws, but trust me, it was their fault, not ours)
....and then a few hours later I had the furniture arranged, ALL my yarn moved from the basement, removed from the various bins and bags and organized, books sorted and arranged, pictures (and yarn!) hung. ready for the "after" photos:
the biggest change was replacing the bed with a chair & ottoman (and cleaning up!)
the desk cubbies are perfect for displaying yarn (and it's also good to keep yarn exposed to the sun - discourages "critters" from living in it); the tray on the right holds yarn that's next up to be knit
the wire baskets hold sock yarn - colorful leftovers from socks and shawls I've already knit, or balls waiting for their turn to become something (before I got my swift and ballwinder, I always got yarn wound when I bought it - now I don't have to do that!)
the big wall is decorated with skeins of yarn (I have a lot of socks and shawls to knit!)
I am in love with the final result. and looking forward to spending time here. plenty of knitting. and room to be me. (I'm thinking Marc will like that all my knitting "clutter" will be confined to one room, too!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10 things to do before the end of summer.

...just in the past ten days, the humidity has died down (of course it is still georgia so this only means the air doesn't feel like a damp dishcloth and I don't think it's a complete waste to attempt to "straighten" my hair) and the overnight temperatures have dropped to the low 60's (I walked dark early today in a long sleeved t-shirt) - woo hoo! fall is definitely coming soon.  what a timely prompt! (thanks, carole!)
see numbers 2 & 3 below
1. start planning fall & winter knitting. I dove in head first with a very winter-y sweater, but really do need to spend time planning what I'm going to knit next.

2. harvest fresh basil, chives and marjoram from my little herb garden.

3. and use them to make bread salad.

4. eat a fresh tomato sandwich (even better with lettuce, avocados and bacon, like this one).

5. wear my white shorts and white capris. one.last.time.

6. turn in my plans for the next round of knitting classes. (and be completely shocked that it will be december 12 already when they're finished).

7. get a bright red pedicure. actually, when the humidity and temperatures dropped last week, I went for an early fall look, but it's still sandal weather here for another month (at least) and bright red is so happy!

8. drink the last few bottles of sauvignon blanc I bought just after memorial day. a wine expert once told me that with sauvignon blanc you DYA (drink youngest available) - so I don't want any bottles left for next year.

9. catch up on all the TV I missed last year so I'm ready for the new seasons. especially looking forward to grey's as a way to stay in touch with sara.

10. savor the memories. this summer has been a big one for us - much to celebrate and many changes.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

FI friday.

...I just had the complete pleasure of posting about (someone else's) finished objects (FOs) and I was searching for some other (polite!) word I'd use to describe the state of my friday knitting.

FI=fit issues. as in what in the world was I thinking to keep knitting all the way through the yoke and halfway down the body without trying on the sweater. (is there a word for idiot that starts with F?)

I'd struggled (for reasons I hate to even contemplate - it's not a pretty picture of my knitting skills!) with the lace charts and had to rip and re-knit twice to make my way through the yoke. All the more reason to be absolutely sure before I considered the yoke "done" that it fit! but no, I didn't take those five minutes to put the sweater on scrap yarn and try it on - I guess I was just so happy to be "on pattern" and through the hard part...

but I had a nagging doubt and this morning I decided maybe it would be a good idea to check. and yes, it was a very good idea. because it was way. too. big. I had checked my gauge - I knew my row gauge was about 5% bigger...but the sweater was too big by about 30%. my measurements are just smaller than the pattern knits up. and one of the great things about top down is that you can check that as you go. and I failed to do that. huge lesson learned.

and a great reminder that top down isn't only great because you avoid sewing. it's really because you can ensure a good fit!

so I've now ripped back, checked stitch counts, synched back up with the lace chart and I'm ready to start the body (and yes, I've tried it on two more times just to be sure).

p.s. I had been about this being "just" a knitting blog. and today I worried about this being a knitting failure blog. thanks for all your support. and for sticking with me!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

doing the 2. in the atlanta 2-day walk for breast cancer. karen and I signed up for the 2010 walk last fall - as soon as registration opened (on the 2nd day of the 2009 walk). yes, the event is that inspiring and the organization it supports is that worthwhile. in its first seven years, It’s the Journey, Inc., who sponsors the walk, has raised $6.6 million and award 107 grants to local breast cancer organizations in the greater atlanta area. last year alone, they awarded a record $1 million to local breast cancer organizations that provide diagnosis, education, support and research on behalf of thousands of atlanta-area men, women and children affected by the disease. we love that the money stays in the atlanta area, and that, with the support of our family and friends, we've contributed nearly $10,000!

this will be my 4th year walking and karen's 5th. sharing those 30 miles with karen, walking through downtown atlanta, midtown, peachtree hills and who knows where else (we won't know the route until the walk begins) makes the whole thing that much more special.

the walk is october 2&3, but we have to raise at least $2,000 by september 11. we sent our our first fundraising email two weeks ago and the response has been fantastic - we have $605 collected and another $500 "in process". we are so fortunate to have such generous (and prompt!) family and friends! and while we're confident we'll get that last $905, we certainly appreciate any and all support!

our sister-in-law lydia and her quilt club have stitched a beautiful pink quilt - and donated it to support our fundraising. each $25 donated will receive one chance to win it.
that's lydia on the left, karen in the middle and me on the right
I've added a link to our donation page  and the thermometer to show our progress in the sidebar to the right. admitting I've become a bit obsessive about checking the donation total and having it here will make it easy!