Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tiny Needle Tuesday: 5/28/24

Seeing the lovely hand stitching and samplers that so many of you are working on has had me thinking about what kind of stitching I might enjoy. Counted cross stitch is something I've done before so I gave it a try. My work on this particular sampler was short-lived when I didn't enjoy changing the floss color often. It has been languishing in time-out since December. Then Vera stitched a gorgeous sampler all in blue and Dee started a sampler composed of many different designs with each of them worked in only one color. I started spending lots of time on Etsy and once I found Vivsters shop, I simply had to choose which design spoke loudest to me. 

I decided this was the best one to start with:


I liked the idea of stitching interesting small motifs with one color at a time and I thought this design was beautiful. I had to order a big piece of Aida cloth (the design is 29" x 15" on 14 count) and floss, but they have finally arrived. I've cut the Aida down to what I hope is the correct size. It will be a large piece when it's completed, and I'll have to figure something out besides the binder clip arrangement. They are often in the way but I was anxious to get started. 

The pattern is a bit daunting at 24 pages, but I've just printed out two so far, the one I'm working on (upper left) and the floss key. The journey of a gazillion cross stitches begins with just one motif (or part of one)!



Friday, May 24, 2024

A Lovely Meetup

I met up with Dee and Vera yesterday and we had quite a nice day. We began with coffee, bagels, muffins, and plenty of chatting at a nice coffee house. (It smelled delicious and I may have to return someday for one of their cinnamon rolls). We started out chatting about doctors, medications, and hearing aids, but we did get out of old lady mode and moved on to discussing cats and other fun things. I did manage to knit six or seven rounds of the toe decreases on my sock and I think Dee knit quite a few rounds on her sock. I got to admire Vera's gorgeous Shakerag skirt and it's even prettier in person. Vera even remembered to take a photo. We each took one, so you can see three different photos of two of us if you visit each of our blogs. 

 

We had a nice lunch just a bit down the road before we headed home. I'm not sure we solved any of the world's problems but I had a very nice day. Big thanks to both Dee and Vera for the invitation!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/22/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a sock and three-quarters. 


I barely knit on the way to and from my sister-in-law's and only knit a few rows during our lovely cocktail hours. I have worked on the sock here at home and am just a few rows from starting the toe decreases. I am meeting two very special people tomorrow for coffee, conversation, and knitting, so I may finish them then. It's more likely that I'll knit a few rows and spend much more time laughing and enjoying meeting up with these two, but that's just fine. I'm sure that by next week I'll have a finished pair of socks and can get back to my Hitch on the Move. 

I finished an ARC this week, The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier. I have loved several of Tracy Chevalier's previous novels, for her writing, the stories she told, and what I learned. The Glassmaker contains some of these things, but I found it lacking in some areas. Chevalier tells us about glassmaking in Murano, Italy, focusing mainly on the Rosso family. It starts in 1486 when Orsola Rosso is envious that the men in her family can work with glass to produce goblets, bowls, and other beautiful items. As a female, she is relegated to household chores, but she finds a female glassmaker from another family to teach her how to make glass beads. I found the glassmaking interesting and educational, but I wished for pictures of some of the beads. I imagined chapter headings illustrated by a color drawing of the beads as Orsola learned and became more masterful.

There is a trite love story that didn't add much to the book for me, and then there is the matter of the odd timeline. Chevalier vaguely introduces this idea in the prologue: “The City of Water runs by its own clock.” The story begins in the 15th century and ends in the present day, covering a bit more than five centuries, yet Orsola and her family members have only aged about six decades. They experience The Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, two World Wars, the Plague, and Covid-19. It was an original device but also confused me quite a bit and I struggled to see why the author would make this choice. I thought it was a confusing distraction, and gave the book three stars. It just didn't come close to her previous books, The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures, or The Lady and the Unicorn for me. 

Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on June 18, 2024.

If this book sounds like one you might be interested in, there is a giveaway on Goodreads. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: May 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. We may have provided you with more poetry than you wanted during National Poetry Month in April but we're back to sharing poetry once a month. I spent an afternoon looking through my poetry books but couldn't find anything that felt right. Since I had all the poetry books out, I decided to clean and organize the bookcase. While doing that, I spied a dog-eared page in my copy of Map: Collected and Last Poems. I stopped to take a look and realized my poem for this month had found me. Cleaning the bookcase can wait.


From The Marginalian, Maria Popova 

Utopia
by Wislawa Szymborska

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

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Szymborska, Wislawa. "Utopia". Map: Collected and Last Poems: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

You can read more about the poet here

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Thanks for reading and joining us for our monthly Gathering of Poetry. You are more than welcome to add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/15/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a sock and a third. I finished the first one, cast on the second one, and I'm past the heel, picking up gusset stitches, and beginning the gusset decreases. Just a foot and toe to complete and I'll have a pair!

I tried the Finchley graft (youtube video link) that Vera wrote about recently on the first sock and it seemed slightly easier and faster than doing Kitchener on the toes. I'll have to try it a few more times to get more familiar with it and really decide which method I like best.

I finished one ARC last week, but it was just average for me. A Great Marriage was the first book I've read by Frances Mayes (she is probably best known for Under the Tuscan Sun), so I wasn't sure what to expect. This is the story of Dara Wilcox and Austin Wilcox who meet and fall deeply in love. The book opens with a prenuptial dinner at her parents' house, and it's all perfect until some wine is spilled. Several family members see this as a possible bad omen, and it turns out to be just that. Austin receives distressing news that disrupts their plans and the wedding is canceled. Dara flees to California to visit with friends, then heads to South Carolina to help restore an inn. There are moments of angst and some drama, but it reminded me of a Hallmark movie in book form. My mother-in-law used to love to read books with very mild dramatics (where nobody suffered from serious illness or died) and the ending was all tied up neatly with a big bow. This book made me think of her as she would have loved it.

I found the author's writing style difficult to read. She used a lot of sentence fragments and once I started noticing them, I had difficulty concentrating on what she was saying and found myself paying attention to how she had written it. But if you like your books to be mainly romantic escapes where nobody really suffers and characters live happily ever after, this one may bring you enjoyment. (And as a bonus, it has an arresting and interesting cover!)

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on August 13, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

P.S. I'll be back tomorrow with some poetry, but I'm visiting my SiL for a while and will be taking a short break until sometime later next week. See you then!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

What's for Dinner?

I don't remember where I first came across this recipe but I've made it quite a few times and it's one of my favorites. It's easy; there are no special ingredients, and it makes a lot, so there are always leftovers (which is a good thing). Oh, and it tastes good, too! 


It's called Crockpot Cheesy Sausage Tortellini. 


In case you can't read my scribbly writing, here's the recipe with my notes:

24 oz chicken broth (I use unsalted)
18 oz frozen tortellini
5 oz fresh spinach (it comes in 10 oz packages, so I just cut it up and add the whole 10 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I usually use a 28 oz can)
1 kielbasa, cut up
1 block cream cheese (I use Neufchatel cheese and usually just half a block)
salt, pepper, 1.5 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
0.5 c shredded Italian cheese blend (I usually don't use plain mozzarella, but use 1.5 c of the Italian cheese blend instead)

Just dump all the ingredients in the crockpot, mix them well, and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Stir it a few times to incorporate everything and mix the melted cream cheese into the chicken broth. One hour before serving, add the shredded cheese and stir once more. 


You could easily make this meatless, and if John wasn't eating dinner here, I would most likely substitute hot sausage for kielbasa and add some crushed red pepper flakes. You could probably substitute ravioli for the tortellini if you prefer, but I think tortellini feel "fancier". There is still some left over in the refrigerator and I might claim it for dinner tonight while John eats venison steaks. Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/8/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today, with some stripes on a sock. 


I've only knit with Must Stash yarn once before when I used the bright Vespa for some fingerless mitts for Ryan. 


Initially, I was a little disappointed with the way the sock was turning out because the stripes in the Denali yarn aren't quite as crisply defined as I hoped. The brown and some of the green and blue stripes look "heathery" to me. But it looks a little better if I look at it from farther away and it is beginning to grow on me. Maybe I'm just being too fussy! The pale lavender heel works well, so I'm just going to keep knitting. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I was afraid that I might like this colorway so much that I would have a hard time gifting them to Jess, but that's no longer a worry. They look like Denali colors; I hope to have a Christmas gift done early, and I may make myself a pair of short socks with the leftover pale lavender color. 

I only finished one book this week, but it was great. Goodreads tells me that I've read 41 short story collections, and only one was worthy of five stars. Now that I've read Table for Two there will be two. I was a little wary about reading this volume. I enjoyed The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility but had trouble with A Gentleman in Moscow despite multiple attempts. But no worries, this is simply one of the best books I've read this year.

Short stories almost always suffer from the problems of not being long enough, not providing enough detail, or ending just as the reader begins to enjoy them. Far too often I'm simply left wanting more. That was not the case for any of the stories included here. Towles is a master of language, so each story feels precise and specific. I found details I loved and things that I had thought before myself, expressed far better by the author.

"... what you're probably heading home to are the compromises of marriage. These will govern when, what, and how you eat. They'll govern when, what, and how you watch. So, the canceled flight can create something of a temporal oasis—a twenty-four hour period in which no concessions need to be made to anyone."

 I can't pick a favorite story from this book. If anything, "Eve in Hollywood" is the weakest part of the collection. It's the novella continuing the story of Eve from Rules of Civility. All of the short stories are complete, perfect little glowing jewels, and I very much hope that Towles publishes more short stories.

What are you making and reading this week?