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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Three on Thursday | with Charlie.

It's almost 7pm as I start this post - even for this by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger, that's late. But yesterday evening, my original plans for today got a big reset - Katie called to ask if I could stay home (at her house :-) with Charlie today ... and of course I said yes! At the top of this morning's grateful list was "flexibility". followed by hot coffee. and the opportunity to spend a whole day with Charlie.

Which means photos! and in the spirit of Three on Thursday, I chose just three:

Shortly after I arrived (with a pack of 16 colored markers), Charlie sat down to write another letter to Santa. This might be his 4th? I'm honestly not sure if the other three are pictures, too. I'm also not exactly sure what he's asking for here ... but I love that he uses all the colors and makes both big and little shapes.

It rained this morning; and then just before 11, the sun came out. We took a walk in the neighborhood (and counted wreaths - one house had six!) while we waited for the driveway to dry off ... for chalk. I traced Charlie's shadow and then he traced mine. and I'm not sure it shows up too well in the photo, but then he connected our shadows with one blue line. ♥

Much later (after lunch, after nap), he played with the BIG box that the package truck delivered yesterday. The box was full of cushioned packing stuff and he had a ball with all of it. This shot - my favorite of the day - came after he'd buried himself in the box ("Marmie, shut the lids") and then jumped up yelling "Surprise!!"

I'll be back with Charlie tomorrow, too. I'm sure after dinner, a glass of wine (or two) and a good night's sleep, I'll be ready :-)

...and yay for a successful conclusion to NaBloPoMo! (and to all of you who cheered me along - thank you!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday.

Joining in with Kat and friends today to share about what I'm knitting and reading.

Bodie is, at last, showing real signs of progress (funny how that works once I actually spend some time knitting it 😊). Just this afternoon I finished the 4th (of a planned 14!) skeins and paused for a photo session.
Isn't it pretty!

I'm not sure I've mentioned here that the pattern is 20 (!!) pages long; I'm working on page 8 (with charts from page 16) now. Elizabeth's instructions are clear (and accurate) and I couldn't be happier with the details. Like the braid that runs along the shoulders where the front stitches were picked up.

And the very clever three-needle bindoff under the arms where we joined the fronts and back. not to mention how the stitch patterns continued uninterrupted through all of that.

The next cool detail - which takes up the rest of page 8, page 9 and part of page 10 (with charts on page 17) - is the pocket openings. Hope to have those to share next week!

On the reading front, I just finished listening to Murder in the Mews, a collection of four short stories featuring Hercule Poirot. I was pleasantly surprised that Hugh Fraser (he played Captain Hastings alongside David Suchet's Poirot) narrated three of the stories. Not only does he do the accents and the voices beautifully, but his love and appreciation for the material really shines. Highly recommend for any Poirot fans.

Along with the holiday decorating, I unpacked a new-to-me stack of Christmas books (from my mom). I think I'll start with the one on the bottom - Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, followed by The Quiet Little Woman. Mother also gifted me her Louisa May Alcott collection and I'm looking forward to enjoying those books (several are re-reads, but many I've never read) next year; a Christmas collection seems like a nice place to start.

Do you have any special reading plans for the holidays?

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesdays are for Poetry.

Such Silence

As deep as I ever went into the forest
I came upon an old stone bench, very, very old,
and around it a clearing, and beyond that
trees taller and older than I had ever seen.

Such silence!
It really wasn't so far from a town, but it seemed
all the clocks in the world had stopped counting.
So it was hard to suppose the usual rules applied.

Sometimes there's only a hint, a possibility.
What's magical, sometimes, has deeper roots
  than reason.
I hope everyone knows that.

I sat on the bench, waiting for something.
An angel, perhaps.
Or dancers with the legs of goats.

No, I didn't see either. But only, I think, because
  I didn't stay long enough.

- Mary Oliver (from Blue Horses)


Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekending.

I've already shared much of Saturday and Sunday's activities, so today, I have just three more stories. First up, the food.
Our "turkey sandwich Thanksgiving" was a huge hit. I decided we needed homemade sides so I did end up cooking more than I'd planned. Going along with the sandwich theme I made kale and brussels sprout slaw and in lieu of potato salad (Marc doesn't eat them) found a delicious wild rice stuffing (gotta love the Pioneer Woman - that's prosciutto frying upper right :-) I also made blue cheese dip to accompany store-bought potato chips. We repeated the whole thing on Friday when we visited Katie. and then again on Saturday and Sunday and we have one more meal to go - pretty good mileage for a few hours of cooking. I even got to watch the parade!

The highlight of Friday's visit with Katie's family was putting up the tree in the boys' playroom. We took over the tree and box of ornaments that Charlie and I put up last year.
In spite of Sam's best efforts to eat the ornaments, Marc and Charlie did a fine job getting them up on the tree. I must say, our playroom seems quite bare this year, but I'm delighted the tree is going to see a whole lot of fun in its new home. (and I didn't make a single "suggestion" this year about anything!)

And finally, one more from yesterday. My nephew (Lydia's son Andrew) starts a new job in Washington DC on December 4. We had a send-off lunch for him at a local pub and even managed a photo.
(great food, plenty of beer ... and of course the best company!) 

Today felt oddly quiet around here. I did do a little bit of decorating; for the first time in a few years, I think I'm going to be ready when December 1 comes!  Hope your week is off to a promising start as well.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Selfie Sunday | Three-fer.

On any typical NaBloPoMo Sunday, I'd be reaching for just one photo ... but today I have three. and since I have plenty of weekending story to tell without them, I figured I'd share them all today. 

First - the tree is up and the twinkle lights are on! I had considered skipping church this morning to hang the ornaments, but this view convinced me that wasn't necessary. I'm thinking next Sunday's view will be full decorated, but maybe not ...
6 am
Second - Shades of Sandy debuted today. It was a perfect layer this morning when the temperatures were in in the 40's and 50's.
11 am
Third - By the time I got home this afternoon it was warm enough for bare toes. I can't imagine we'll have many more flip flop days, and I intend to enjoy every one of them!
4 pm

I hope your November is coming to a bright, warm close as well - xo, M.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cheers | To Bonny.

A couple of weeks back when I shared my Old Fashioned recipe, Bonny and I ended up exchanging a few emails in response to her comment. The gist of our discussion was that the drinks always looked good, but she never had the ingredients ... and honestly, my love of gin and bourbon didn't really appeal. A few emails in, I wrote:
"It seems like our cocktail habits overlap a lot less than ALL the other things we have in common might suggest. So I’d like to challenge myself (probably with the help of my sister) to come up with a Cheers that you 1) would like and 2) could make with ingredients on hand. Interested? If yes, what liquor(s) should we use? and is there anything we should be sure NOT to include?"
She replied with this
On hand currently: 
  • Malibu rum (it has coconut flavoring added and I bought it only to make a pina colada cake for my mil. I've tried adding it to smoothies made from frozen fruit, and that's about the only way it's drinkable.) 
  • St. Germain, because I like elderflower cordial that my sil and I make from elder flowers, but never know quite what to do with this liqueur. 
  • Regular rum 
  • Campari (Ryan somehow ended up with this from his 21st birthday. I've had it in orange juice and used it for photos with my Campari hitchhiker, but would welcome a good way to use it in a cocktail.) 
  • Regular Jack Daniel's 
  • Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey (it's never even been opened.) 
  • A couple bottles of Angry Orchard cider 
  • A Guiness 
  • One Yuengling
and said she'd be willing to add vodka, more Angry Orchard (the bottles she has are the Ginger Apple flavor) and simple grocery store items. She did request we not use gin or bourbon.

Karen and I thought that was plenty to work with! Over Cranberry Mules, we brainstormed ideas and came up with four cocktails. We focused on the Angry Orchard (a new-to-me ingredient, but wow, versatile!), rum, Campari, St. Germain, vodka and prosecco (which wasn't on Bonny's list, but a basic Angry Orchard could stand in for it in a pinch).

Today, I have the first installment and hopefully (oh my y'all - I'm planning to post next Saturday!) I'll have the other two next week!

Spiced Rum Cocktail
(with inspiration from Angry Orchard and The Spruce)

1 oz rum
1/4 oz spiced simple syrup*
4 oz Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
a lime wedge

Fill a glass with ice. Add the rum and syrup and stir well. Top with Angry Orchard and squeeze in the lime.

*I chose The Spruce's recipe (which I followed exactly, except used just 3/4 C light brown sugar) because I had all the ingredients in my cupboard and it didn't include ginger. The flavor is amazing - it would be delicious in the cider (without the rum) or with prosecco ... or maybe even added to coffee. After I strained the spices, I put them back in the pan with about a cup of water. Simmering over low, my kitchen still smells wonderful!
the spiced syrup on the stove

and now shifting gears ...
Campari Spritz
(inspired by the traditional Aperol Spritz - a 3-2-1 ratio of prosecco, aperol and sparkling water)

4 oz prosecco
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz St Germain
sparkling water
orange slice

Fill a glass with ice. Add the ingredients in the order listed and stir gently.

Cheers to Bonny! and happy Saturday!


Friday, November 24, 2017

Alaska | Denali Star to Talkeetna.

Back in Alaska, it's Friday, August 25 and we're headed to Talkeetna aboard the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star. The train left Anchorage at 8:15 am; we had to be at the depot at 7:15 to check in. We stopped for quick photo in front of the historic No. 1 engine (pretty good smiles for such an early morning!)

This train offered GoldStar service - it's awesome! There was one other group in the car with us; it almost seemed like our own private train.

The ride to Talkeetna is just under three hours with one stop at Wasilla. It was a cloudy day, but the views were still spectacular.

We enjoyed breakfast in the newly decorated dining car.
our table mates
The painting behind the seats is one of a series of 16 reverse glass paintings designed and painted by Ayse Gilbert specifically for the GoldStar dining cars.

Talkeetna is ... quaint. I read somewhere that the town of Cicely (from the TV show Northern Exposure) was based on Talkeetna. If you remember Cicely, you know Talkeetna!

We enjoyed lunch and beer - finally, local Alaska beer! - at the Denali Brewpub.

After lunch, Steve and Lydia took a flight tour (Lydia blogged about it here) while the rest of us visited the museum and walked down to the Susitna River. More beautiful views! If you look closely, you can almost see Mt Denali off in the distance.

We had time for one more round of beer before heading back to the station.

The ride back to Anchorage seemed even more scenic. It also included dinner (in that same beautiful dining car).

One thing you don't see in any of my photos is a moose. I finally gave up ... unlike most of the other travelers. You'd hear "Moose" and almost everyone jumped up, camera at the ready, to see. I decided moose are even harder than whales to photograph!

We got back to Anchorage just after 8:00 pm. ...and went to bed 😊.

Happy Friday, y'all!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday | Thirty-four Years.

On Sunday, Marc and I celebrated our 34th anniversary and he shared a few two-of-us throwback photos on Instagram. A few were actually new to me and I asked him to send them to me. 
from the cover of our wedding album
engagement photo - fall, 1983 
November 19, 1983 
at Katie's wedding - a favorite!
this summer - and technically three of us :-)
So this will be our 35th Thanksgiving together as a married couple. We spent our first Thanksgiving in Cancun (honeymoon) and I don't remember much about Thanksgiving dinner that year except that it was a hotel buffet. The next year, though, we were in Illinois, visiting my parents.
previously shared in this post - more knitting history!
Since then, we've spent every Thanksgiving with family ... mine, Marc's and eventually "ours". This year, we'll be getting together with family later in the weekend, but today, it's just the two of us (again). I opted out of a traditional meal - instead, we're having turkey sandwiches and a few sides ... likely in front of the television. I think we're both looking forward to it!

We have much to be thankful for ... and the two of us together is definitely a big part of that.

Wishing you and yours a most Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday | New Stash!

Marc's sisters have been working hard at his mom's house sorting through everything. Yesterday, 500 pounds of boxes arrived at our house (the palette was nearly seven feet tall!) and one of them had my name on it - yarn! My mother-in-law was an avid knitter and knitting was a special connection for us (I shared some of that story a few years back). I'm not sure if my sisters-in-law sent me all the unknit yarn, or just what they thought I might like - wanna see?

I spent a few hours this morning* sorting it, taking a photos and searching Ravelry for details about the yarn and project suggestions. There are six skeins of Cascade headed to a girlfriend who loves it; I'm thinking Lydia might enjoy these two sweater quantities (the colors will be great on her!);

and I'm going to see if my sister wants to share this pile. It's mostly wool/acrylic DK and looks great for house socks!

Then there's an afghan quantity of Sirdar Denim in navy blue that I'll knit up for the little boys ... and the rest I plan to knit for me! I added the yarn to my stash on Ravelry and queued three projects

I'm excited about all of them! 

The only yarn I'm not sure what to do with is this one
It's nine skeins of Rowan Purelife Renew (~740 yards of chunky weight) in a red/pink/green colorway called Pick Up. The colors (and that mix of colors!) are definitely outside my box, but I think I like it ... maybe a big cowl or a scarf? I'd welcome suggestions!

Joining in with Kat and friends today - what are you knitting (and reading)?

*that's the real "unraveled" part of this post; I should've been prepping food for tomorrow!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesdays are for Poetry.

from this morning's walk - couldn't resist the tumble of colors

You can't stop turning it round and round,
stained glass shaken and fallen
thought the kaleidoscope of years --
every twist a patterned whorl, story
of petalled flowers or shattered world --
and if you keep turning, another tale unfolds,
kind or cruel, same facts mirrored
through other minds, other times --
and every refracted look is another life,
this handful of ruby and emerald shards.

- Robin Chapman (from Six True Things)