Thursday, June 30, 2016

Through Rose-Colored Glass

I was doing some cleaning recently, and while wiping the windowsills I took a good look around. I'm lucky enough to have stained glass pieces in many windows, and lots of these are gifts from very special people. In order for me to better treasure and appreciate them I'm going to share them with you.

This little rosette and cheery yellow bird were here when we moved into the house (along with a horsehair-filled mattress, but that's a story for another time). I like the primary colors and think the little bird is sweet, so they're still in the windows 27 years later.

The rainbow "quilt square" was a housewarming gift from a dear friend. It hangs in the window over my kitchen sink, where I spend a lot of time and can look out on my back yard through glowing color.

My mother dabbled in lots of crafts (sewing, knitting, rug making) but she took a class in stained-glass making and found the one she really loved. She made lots of little Christmas ornaments and then started to branch out into larger pieces. This fuchsia is one of the first she made for me. I love the shape and the beaded edge.

This little lamp that sits on my phone table was my mother's next gift. I got to choose the base and glass colors and then just sit back and wait for my lamp. It's the perfect size and casts a lovely glow.

My mother didn't make this butterfly specifically for me, but it was one of her completed pieces that we found while cleaning out her things after she passed away. I am happy it found a home in one of my dining room windows.

In my other dining room window hangs a very special favorite. My mother made this just for me, even letting me pick out special glass for the rose petals. You can't appreciate it from the photo, but there are very tiny bits of gold in the glass that lend beautiful sparkle and depth. The movers broke it when we moved here from Syracuse and I was heartbroken, but my mother patiently took the whole thing apart, replaced the broken pieces, and put it all back together. You can see why I love it so much, for its own beauty and for what it represents to me.

This rose bower is in our living room window because John thought we needed more roses. It was a thoughtful Christmas gift that provides us with flowers and loveliness year-round.

I feel fortunate and grateful to have so many stained glass pieces helping me to enjoy a rose-colored view.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Earlier this summer, Kat presented her brilliant idea for a Summer Knit-Along. As far as I'm concerned, this is ingenious because there is really no way to fail.

Do you have some knitting you need or want to get done?
Is there a project you are itching to cast on?
Do you just want to meander down a lazy river, working on one single project all summer?
Is your basket of WIP’s about to overtake your house?
Do you want to have some encouragement, laughter, and crafting fun?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider joining us for a summer of fun!

I joined, set some goals, and have been knitting, albeit slowly and sporadically. Life, the garden, heat, and humidity have provided me with some excuses as to why I haven't been knitting as much as I had hoped, but Kat's update also reminded me that although there are no rules, I don't accomplish much with no plans. So, here are my initial goals, updates and some plans:

Finish my most recent Hitchhiker - This is the project I'm working on most consistently. I love the color and do want to finish it soon, because while I'm knitting it, I'm also busy planning my next one. I'm at 35 teeth, and the plan is to do at least one tooth/day and finish this by July 19th.

Finish a baby blanket - I've only done a few rows on this one, mainly because my semi-crappy yarn got hopelessly tangled in the skein and I spent 90 minutes fixing that before I threw the whole thing in a bag in disgust. The baby isn't due until October, but I still need to finish this. The plan is to work on this when I can stand having a blanket on my lap, and get it done by September 16th.

Finish a pair of socks - I'm on the toe decreases on one sock and need to start the second one, but they are footie socks so there is really no excuse for not finishing these this summer so I can wear them. For these, I'm going to put them in my bag as my carry-along project and do some rows whenever I have a few minutes. Hopefully this will get them done before the end of summer.

Start a pair of fingerless gloves - I found some perfect camouflage yarn on sale and thought maybe Justin could use a pair of fingerless gloves. I'm not sure he'll need them in Texas, but it has to cool down below 105° there eventually, right? This is going to be a "reward"; if (when!) I finish the first three projects, I can wind the yarn, cast on, and have a new small project to work on.

A goal without a plan is just a wish. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
It's time for me to quit wishing and carry out some plans to achieve those goals!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

The Ten On Tuesday topic for today is 10 Things To Do While Listening to an Audiobook, and I feel like I am eminently qualified to make a list for this one. I started listening to audiobooks way back in high school, borrowing cassette tapes and then CDs from the library. I discovered Audible in 2009, and over the past seven years most of my reading has gradually become listening to audiobooks. I still read things on my Kindle occasionally and every once in a while I even look at an actual real, live dead-tree book, but it's mainly because I can multitask that I listen to audiobooks. So here's what I do while listening:

  1. Knit  - The primary reason I started listening was so I wouldn't have to choose between knitting and reading. Knitting and listening - perfect together!
  2. Walk - I can achieve those 10,000 steps much more easily if I listen while I walk.
  3. Housework - Listening makes an odious task less so.
  4. Yard work - Weeding, pruning, and mowing don't seem like drudgery if I'm engrossed in a book.
  5. Grocery shop - This is a chore I despise, but a book in my ears makes it better.
  6. Sit in the airport - Since we have to be at the airport so early to get through security and make it to the gate on time, I make sure I always have a good book on my ipod to while away the time spent waiting.
  7. Fly - Flying isn't my favorite thing, but if I'm absorbed in an audiobook then I forget all about the lack of legroom and that I'm hurtling through the atmosphere in an aluminum tube.
  8. Drive - Most of my driving is short trips around town, but if I'm embarking on a longer road trip there is always a good book plugged into the auxiliary port in the car. 
  9. Swing on the porch swing - Sometimes it's nice to sit on the porch swing and simply enjoy the sounds of the birds singing and the breeze blowing. We live on a street with plenty of traffic, so there are times that it's also nice to drown out the sounds of cars, noisy trucks, and other people's questionable taste in music. Enjoying an audiobook on the porch swing is perfect for those times.
  10. Drown out snoring - Someone I sleep with has been known to snore quite loudly; at times it's loud enough to wake me up. I've learned over the years that my earbuds and an audiobook are often enough to put me back to sleep and keep me from getting too aggravated with the snorer.

My Audible page tells me that I have 428 titles in my library (Ryan and I share the account, so they're not all mine :-) , and I've tagged almost half of my "read" books as audio on goodreads. Not every book lends itself to becoming an audiobook, but there are also many that are enriched even further by being read by an exceptional narrator. I'm looking forward to reading ToT lists today to see what else I can do while immersed in an audiobook!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Weekending - Bits and Pieces

I didn't do anything momentous this past weekend, but the bits and pieces added up to a fairly pleasant couple of days.

I planted some lantana. The way the flower clusters (technically umbrels) have different colored florets is beautifully fascinating to me. Now I'm wondering if I have room to plant more.

I also picked a pitiful portion of snow peas. I don't know if the weather was against us, the seeds were old, or if we angered the pea pod gods, but our pea germination was very spotty and this is all we've got to show for it. There may be a few very few more next week, but I guess some peas are better than none.

Spinach is plentiful in the garden, so I picked a big bunch and made this spinach salad. It doesn't look like my career as a food stylist and photographer will be taking off any time soon, but the salad (and accompanying dressing) is very good.

I chatted with Justin via Messenger. It's wonderful to talk with him, but it wasn't really the kind of conversation that reassures a mother. I guess I should be glad that he tells me what he's doing, even if it makes me want to yell, "BE CAREFUL AND GET AWAY FROM THOSE THINGS IMMEDIATELY!"

I hope your weekend had some interesting bits and pieces, minus rattlesnakes and tarantulas.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Strange but True

Things around here have been kind of strange this week, and here are some of the reasons why.

  • If anyone would like to drink beer in the parking lot of an old gas station that is now an EPA and NJDEP hazardous waste site, here is your chance!
  • Our wedding anniversary is June 13th and my birthday is June 15th. I had a discussion with a family member who adamantly insisted I was wrong about the dates and had them reversed. After 10 minutes, I was both amused and frustrated when it became clear that I was not going to convince this person. Maybe we'll be celebrating on different days next year. 
  • We came home from our walk on Tuesday to see guys with long ladders up on our roof. When we yelled up to ask what they were doing, they replied they were cleaning our gutters. This is something John does while I nervously hold the ladder, ready to call 911 if needed. It turns out that they had been contracted by our neighbor and had just cleaned the gutters on the wrong house. 
  • In more "You've got the wrong place, buddy" news, yesterday morning I noticed a guy with a clipboard measuring my house. When I asked him why, he said he was doing the appraisal for the bank. This was news to me, and after another 10 minute discussion, I did manage to convince him that he had the wrong house; he wanted the house next door ... the one with the house number that matched the one on his form and a FOR SALE sign in the front yard. He kept saying that his boss had told him to appraise my house, as if that bit of information would make me say, "Sure, come on in and appraise the wrong house!"
I hope your weekend includes lots of relaxation, fun, and maybe even some of the unusual, but very little of the strangeness that's been going on here!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Book Bingo 2016

I printed my Book Bingo card while on vacation, and have been making some progress. I haven't matched up books to every square, but keep telling myself that those will be easy squares to fill. I know Book Bingo is meant to broaden my reading horizons, and it does; I just have real difficulty reading something I hate, so I took a bit of license (so far) and refreshed twice before printing so I would have the coveted "Mentioned on the Gilmore Girls" square. This meant I also got the somewhat dreaded "With a mythological creature on the cover", but I'm calling Aslan on the cover of The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe mythological because I'm the boss of my card. I've also got "Thriller/Suspense", but I'll worry about that one later.

I'm currently reading The Son and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, so I may have a bingo in the next week or so. The Son is wonderful so far, just a bit long and difficult to keep track of the extensive family tree and non-linear storytelling. Only 18 more books after that for a complete cover!

If you haven't already printed one, you can get your own card here and join in on the fun. Many thanks to Mary for hosting this for the third year! Wishing everyone a wonderful summer of reading, bingos or not!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Almost ...

Since today is a little bit special, I set out with my phone to take a few photos.

I inhaled the intoxicating aroma of our honeysuckle.

Took some time to appreciate the plenitude and beauty of the roses.

Was delighted by my bleeding heart blooms, especially because I just planted them.

And also found a couple of other things to photograph.

I've been thinking of my age as "almost 60" for several years now. This is my last year of "almost" and I'm going to make the most of it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

The Ten on Tuesday topic for today is 10 Things On This Summer's Bucket List. I do have two confessions to make; first, summer is not my favorite season because around here it usually means heat and humidity, two of my least favorite things. Our old house has a whole-house attic fan, which works just fine as long as there is cool air outside for the fan to pull in to cool the house. This is not often the case in NJ in July and August. Secondly, I'm a bit of a failure at actually doing things on a bucket list. I've made lists before, but haven't been completely successful at carrying them out. Maybe I'll do better if I make a reasonable list and post it publicly.

  1. Rekindle the feeling of summer reading when I was a kid. I'm trying to do this with Book Bingo, and have spent much of my reading time on the porch. So far, so good!
  2. Plant more perennials. I planted bleeding hearts and some columbines I started from seed this spring, but I have some space in the garden flower beds for some other things.
  3. Eat more summer fruit. I love pies, crumbles, and buckles, but I'm going to make a real effort to just enjoy fruit in its natural state, not baked with sugar. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, watermelons ... yum!
  4. Find some great pasta/potato/side dish salad recipes. Dinner in the summer is very often something grilled, a pasta (or potato) salad, and a vegetable. I'm lacking for new, unique, and tasty salad side dishes, but I made this one last night and it was a winner.
  5. Eat a Creamsicle® (or two). This delicious frozen treat says summer to me. I haven't had one in years, but I think it's time to quit denying myself.
  6. Drink a Creamsicle (or two). This might need a little tweaking, but I bet I'm up to the challenge.
  7. Watch the 4th of July fireworks from the backyard. Our town's fireworks are only a block away, so viewing is fun from a chair in the backyard. No parking problems and I can also enjoy a nice glass of wine at the same time.
  8. Watch the Perseids Meteor Shower from the backyard. Same chair, with a nice mug of tea since the best viewing will be early morning Aug. 11-13.
  9. Tie-dye some shirts. John loves tie-died shirts and his birthday is in August, so this would be fun and gain me some good-wife points at the same time.
  10. Go to some of the Main Street Car Shows. Our town has car shows every other week during the summer, and all we have to do is walk a block to Main Street to take a look. Cars aren't usually my thing, but John enjoys them, and it's fun to do something together. I may put some wine in my water bottle and see if this enriches the experience. 
I'm looking forward to reading other lists and stealing an idea or two. It's time to start some summer enjoyment!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

The title pretty much says it all; besides yarn shopping, that's exactly what we did in Fort Collins. Ryan and I anxiously make lists of all the great restaurants we want to try and/or visit again, but we never seem to have enough time to eat at all of them.

We have a tradition (because we've done it three times now) of going out for a reuben as soon as Ryan picks us up from the airport, before we even go back to his house. This year we went to a new-to-me place, Avogadro's Number. I would love to have a place like this here at home -- great food, bar, and music. We knew we were in Fort Collins as we relaxed on the patio under clear blue skies and enjoyed excellent reubens, seated by the smiling snake water feature.

I love going out for breakfast, so we also made sure to go to Lucile's. Their eggs, sausage, pancakes, coffee, and biscuits are absolutely delicious, so I will definitely go back again (and again ...). Yes, that is one (very large) biscuit.

We also had to compare reubens from Choice City. They make one of the best I've ever had, but I'll have to return to Fort Collins for more taste-testing before I can proclaim the definitive winner.

My favorite dinner (aside from the amatriciana sauce Ryan made for us) was at The Moot House, an English-style pub. We had some great artichoke dip (that's English, right?) and my fish and chips were wonderful, as was my Snakebite (cider, lager, plus blackcurrant cordial).

This is only a few blocks from Ryan's house and we enjoyed it so much we went back a second time. I miss fish and chips, sitting outdoors by the fire pit, and Snakebites. We also ate at a great burger place and a churrascaria, but luckily for anyone reading this, I didn't take photos.

Along with the eating, there was also drinking. Some of it was at the New Belgium Brewery. I've been on the tour twice and Ryan has been countless times, but we made a big sacrifice and went again for John's sake. The only slight negative was that the sour room was closed (my favorite) but that was because they were blending a new Tart Lychee. I probably won't be able to get it here in the east, but Ryan has instructions to get some and save it for the next time I visit.

Our drink wasn't all alcoholic; we also drove to Boulder to visit Celestial Seasonings Tea. It's a fun tour with lots of tea to taste. I found some new ones to try and got to inhale the intense aroma in the Mint Room.

There was plenty of merriness also -- fishing, hiking, finding good rocks, and just visiting and being together. I miss Colorado, that western blue sky, good beer, good food, and Ryan!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Flowers on Friday

Before I left on vacation, I found an amaryllis that I had forgotten about in the root cellar. It had some leaves and even a few flower buds, so I added fresh soil, watered it, set it outside, and left it to its own devices. When I got home, I was surprised to see five flowers. We had some thunderstorms and high winds so the plant was knocked over and the blooms a bit bedraggled, but I cut off the best ones and stuck them in a vase with a matching rose to enjoy. Amaryllis in June!

I had lots of weeding, pruning, and deadheading to do after ignoring things for almost two weeks, but I was also rewarded with this really beautiful red rose from my time in the garden.

I hope things are in bloom where you are and you enjoy a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

When Worlds Collide

I am definitely not a gamer, even though I was pleased to get my character in Guild Wars 2 to Level 80, and do occasionally enjoy Animal Crossing Wild World on my Nintendo DS. Both of my sons play online role-playing games and one of them has played Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering off and on for years, so I still get catalogs of dice, tokens, counters, and game "stuff". I occasionally page through them before I throw them into the recycling bin, and while perusing I spied something interesting. Imagine my surprise when my limited participation in the gaming world intersected with my knitting world, in a practical, beautiful, and wonderful way.

This is a counter ring from CritSuccess, meant "to keep track of your Health, Mana, HP, MP, VP, BP, or any other points between 00 and 99." It also makes a great knitting row counter, which is what I'm using it for. I'm not a big fan of the row counters that hang on needles because they seem to get in my way. I have multiple Kacha-Kacha click counters, but I either forget to advance them or lock them so they advance by themselves in my knitting bag.

I wear my counter ring on my thumb so it's right there when I complete a row, ready to count the next one. It has a springy bit so it doesn't advance by itself but is still easy to turn. It comes in blue, black, rainbow, and gold, and I think it's cool, therefore, the perfect knitting row counter!

CritSuccess was great to deal with; I ordered this on Sunday, had a shipping confirmation less than 12 hours later, and received the ring a day later. I got this for myself as an early birthday present, and I think it just may be the best gift I receive this year!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

My Happy Place

No visit to Ryan and Fort Collins is complete without stopping by The Loopy Ewe, and this time was no exception. I often marvel at how incredibly lucky I am that my son chose to attend graduate school in the same location as my favorite yarn store. I hardly took any photos while I was there since it seems that I felt the dizzying effects of yarn fumes as soon as I walked in the door, but I can assure you that it is even more wonderful than you can imagine.

I told myself that I wasn't going to go this year; I have enough yarn and didn't need to spend any more money, but Ryan is an enabler extraordinaire. He was driving that day and his car went to The Loopy Ewe, so what else could I do but go in and fondle yarn?

This is just a very small section of the fingering weight yarn, and Ryan using natural light from the windows to match skeins of Hedgehog Fibres. He is an excellent yarn picker-outer, choosing beautiful colors that I might not consider myself.

So, what's in the bag?

Two skeins of Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn in Ink. This has much more depth and tonality than my photo shows. I honestly don't remember buying these, but I do remember a comment from Ryan about how sad it would be to leave one lone skein on the shelf. Maybe they will become socks for his size 13 feet (thus two skeins).

One skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Seasalt. This is one I wouldn't have chosen by myself, but I like it. I'm thinking maybe Portfolio, but am always open to suggestions.

And my favorite, three skeins of Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn in Eel. This seemed like an unfortunate name to us, so Ryan and I started calling it Labradorite, like the stone:

It's a good thing that yarn is squashy so I could fit six skeins of yarn that I wasn't going to buy into my luggage. All in all, another successful and happy visit to The Loopy Ewe!