Friday, November 30, 2018

Randomly On A Friday

I've got a few random bits and pieces today, beginning with this llama I surprised during a recent visit to WoodsEdge Farm. He was concentrating on eating grass with his head down, but I laughed at his look of surprise when he looked up and saw me!

I both loved and hated The Handmaid's Tale, and the same was true of the Hulu series (it was almost worse seeing it on the screen in front of me), but I am sure that I will be reading The Testaments in 2019. Too bad none of the libraries I use to access Overdrive will let me place a hold on it ... yet.

What couldn't be fixed
Rose-Lynn Fisher

I think the photomicrographs that Rose-Lynn Fisher takes of her tears are just beautiful. They look like aerial photos, but are really pictures of her own tears. She began taking them after she reconnected with an old friend who died soon afterwards. The photos are different depending on whether the tears are air-dried or compressed beneath a coverslip, and settings on the camera and microscope, but I love the idea that her curiosity was piqued even while she was in the midst of sadness. I see several heart-shaped islands with tributaries and inner geographic land forms and cities above, all captured within a tear.

This photo is from five years ago, but it was lovely enough that I wanted to share. I'm heading back to NJ tomorrow and while I won't see any blossoms yet, I do hope the leaves have grown on both of my amaryllis at home. I'm excited to see what awaits me!

I'm done with all this random yakkity-yakking, and hope you have a wonderful weekend and your December gets off to a lovely start!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Today it's with three things I've learned about home improvement projects.

1.  Just do it. Gather all the materials you think you'll need, read through the instructions, and don't forget you tube videos, but at some point you're going to have to stop preparing, just get started, and do it. 

2.  Don't overthink. This tile installation was over existing tile and we spent loads of time in The Home Depot and got differing advice from almost every employee we talked to. One said we would be fine, another said we had to use special leveling cement, and one said it was really too bad we hadn't thought about this before we bought the house. (I hope he was joking!) John put it down over the existing tile and we think it will be fine for at least three years when we sell this house.

3.  Don't underestimate the power of moral support. I've always felt guilty when I wasn't actively working on a project, but with this one I was really only providing moral support. Mary was kind enough to point out that this was a real and sometimes difficult job. It requires checking math and instructions, along with providing support and optimism for as long as the job lasts. I did those things and then spent an hour rolling out the tile with my rolling pin, so I didn't feel quite so bad. And I will be replacing the 1960s shelf paper in the bathroom closet single-handedly, so there is that!

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I had some revelations yesterday - gift knitting (or any knitting I feel that I have to do, especially with a deadline) can be boring; I seem to be easily distracted by shiny new knitting possibilities, but I do have the power to resist casting with really lovely yarn (at least so far). 

I'm still working on Christmas fingerless mitts, slowly but surely. It's amazing how fast I can knit in my mind, yet how slowly it happens in real life. While I knit another round of camouflage yarn, I've been daydreaming about that beautiful yarn I went back to the Loopy Ewe for, and what it might want to become. I'm thinking a Sockhead Cowl, but I'm not sure yet. It's time to get back to gift knitting and daydream some more.

On the reading front, I finished Farsighted, The Art of Logic In An Illogical World, Marilla of Green Gables, and Becoming, and reviewed them on goodreads so it's really final, and now I can start two new ones. Fox 8 and The Good Neighbor look very promising, but do yourself a favor and read Becoming. It was better than I even hoped.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pre-Christmas Christmas Cactus

I've got a few Christmas cactuses (cacti?) at home in NJ and here in MD, in various stages of buds and blossoms. I take lots of photos when they bloom since it's a once-a-year event, plus I think they're beautiful. I'd like to share them with you, and maybe again later when these buds open up.

The destructive rodents squirrels in NJ decided that they wanted to chew on my big hanging plant, but it does have a few buds and I'm hoping for more. Stay tuned ...

This photo below is the one my SiL divided and gave me just this year. They're a little tough to see in the photo, but it's got about 50 buds!

These plants have made me anxious to get to MD if I'm in NJ and vice versa. For the next couple of weeks I'm going to be surprised and delighted by my Christmas cactuses in both places!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is for doing a home improvement project that you've been avoiding.

John is getting ready to tile the bathroom floor in MD.

He's measuring and actually doing the work, but I'm lending lots of moral support.

I was lucky enough to find this heavy marble rolling pin at Goodwill, so I will be rolling the tiles as recommended after installation. (I love multi-purpose tools!)

And when we work up enough motivation, we'll move onto the kitchen floor next!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all who are celebrating a very Happy Thanksgiving, 
and a very Happy Thursday to those that aren't!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I'm making pies and crescent rolls today, but on this day before Thanksgiving, I hope you can take a few minutes to knit several rows or read a couple of pages. I am!

I've got some Christmas knitting in progress, so I'm not going to share many details (just in case). I'm not sure if the recipients read these posts, but I can share a few photos. There is really a whole mitt to finish, plus a second one to complete the top pair, and another mitt to cast on and finish for the second pair, but I think things are on track.

I was reading Marilla of Green Gables, and while it's good and I will finish it, I succumbed to my curiosity about Becoming, Michelle Obama's autobiography. I've always wondered about what happens to strong, smart, independent women with established careers of their own when for various reasons they choose to give up those careers for a different life. Michelle Obama had many other restraints upon her life in the White House, so this is an interesting book.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Stuffing and Cranberries

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday, so I'm using this week leading up to Thursday to prepare things, a little bit every day, and enjoying myself. Yesterday was for stuffing and today is for cranberry sauce.

My family is picky about stuffing, but what we really like is fried stuffing for leftovers. To do that, you need the right consistency - not too wet, not too dry, but just right so it can be sliced from the casserole dish and fried to a delicious crispiness on the outside while still moist inside. After lots of experimentation over the years, I make stuffing bread with all the seasonings incorporated into the loaf, cut it into cubes, and let them dry out for several days.

Then on Wednesday, I'll add eggs, butter, and stock to the dried bread cubes, and stuffing will be ready for Thursday (but really for frying on Friday and Saturday).

Today is the day for cranberries. My mother always made cranberry-orange relish, in fact, her recipe was so famous that Ocean Spray put it on the back of the cranberry bag. :-) It's really just cranberries and oranges ground together in the food processor, but I also add a teaspoon or so of orange oil.  Then it just sits in the refrigerator so the flavors can meld.

This year I found another cranberry recipe that sounded good so I'm giving it a try. Cook cranberries with orange juice and brown and white sugars until the cranberries pop, then add 1/4 cup Grand Marnier and cool.

I'll open a can of cranberry sauce because Justin likes it, but maybe the Grand Marnier will convince him to change his mind. Now I'm going to go scrub the cranberries off he stove, burners, and counters!

Monday, November 19, 2018

And So It Begins ...

Amaryllis Watch! 

I got this package on Saturday, and at first I wondered what the "Steve" sticker meant. Then I paid attention to who it was from, and forgot all about Steve. A delivery from White Flower Farm is always exciting!

They sure do know how to package plants securely.

I ordered two Happy Nymph amaryllis bulbs. I've also go another delivery coming today with one Bright Nymph amaryllis. When I ordered this combination, I thought they would look nice together. The Happy Nymph bulbs are red and white peppermint striped, and the Bright Nymph is a solid red. The more I think about it, the more I think I'll give the solid red one to my mother-in-law. It's her favorite color, and last year she received an amaryllis bulb that never got a flower stalk. She was so disappointed that she talked about it until June, so hopefully this one will brighten up her life.

These two don't look like much so far, but hopefully there will be more to look at than just sphagnum moss in a few weeks!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Welcome to Winter!

This photo is a couple of years old and I'm sure that we don't have quite this much snow waiting for us in NJ, but it looms large in my mind. We originally intended to drive home yesterday, but it seems the forecasters missed the mark on this storm. We packed up and headed north yesterday afternoon, but when it took us 90 minutes to drive the five miles to the 95 north entrance ramp, we decided to turn around. Luckily, it only took us 45 minutes to get back to the MD house, so we'll give it a try again today. (Of course, John has important meetings this afternoon, so it won't be early.)

My neighbor in Flemington says it's still snowing there, with about eight inches on the ground, but it has stopped in Elkton this morning. I've shoveled here (not a difficult job and it seems I was the only one who cared about a clear sidewalk) so we'll give it another try later today. I'm going to pack plenty of patience because traveling north on 95 on a Friday afternoon with snow on the ground is not for the feint of heart. I wish Justin was waiting for us (25-year-old young men are excellent shovelers!) but all we've got is a couple of 60-year olds. Welcome to winter and have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for this November Three on Thursday. In my ongoing and continuing quest to organize photos, I came across these and today I'm sharing three photos of rocks. Weird, I know, but our family has a thing about rocks so we have lots of pictures of "good" ones.

This one is a photo of Ryan with an interesting rock with lines. Maybe some sort of fossil? I don't know, but he was looking for rocks to skip, and everyone knows you can't skip a good rock. They have to be saved and admired.

Usually good rocks sit around on the mantel or other surfaces, but then we get more good rocks to replace them. The old ones get placed in baskets to corral them and I occasionally look through them. The big crystal in the right hand basket, the one with perfect holes directly beneath it, and the large round one in the left hand basket that Justin swore was an Indian tool used to pound corn (but the rest of us thought was just a big rock) are among my favorites.

And lastly, here's Ryan with a giant piece of petrified wood outside the Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center in Yellowstone. I love his expression and Vanna White "here is something special!" hands. I just looked at some photos in Google images and it's still there!

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, and I've finally finished my Match and Move

The pattern is very clever. Even while I was knitting it, I had a hard time seeing the big picture, and decided to just follow the directions and see what I ended up with. It all works out in the end.

I love the yarn. The multi-colored yarn is Wollmeise in Spice Schwammerl and the beautiful solid is Leading Men Fiber Arts in Copper Cloud. They're both yarns that Ryan picked out at The Loopy Ewe last year. Definitely not my usual, but they are lovely together.

But ... I don't love the finished object itself. I didn't love the endless garter stitch. I don't mind it in the Hitchhiker pattern, so that's probably not the real reason. The shape is odd and hard to figure out what to do with. The biggest problem that I've had is that I can't figure out how to wear it. I'm not the kind of person who can artfully drape a scarf around my neck and have it look good. Instead, it either looks like a bib, slides off in the middle of doing something, and I nearly strangled myself when I got it caught in my seat belt.

I think I'll live with it for a little while, see how I feel, and then decide if I've knit a Christmas present or if I'll keep it. Maybe if I added something to the ends like I was compelled to do with my most recent Hitchhikers? The whole time I was knitting, I heard this little voice whispering "It's nice, but it's not a Hitchhiker". Maybe I should listen!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gifts From the Universe

I've been slowly gathering plants for the house in MD - gifts, cuttings, divisions, and of course an amaryllis. The windowsills are narrow and since it's a small house, I don't have a lot of extra tables to set the plants on. I brought a few plant stands from home, but could use a few more. There's no Ikea nearby, and I've been looking on Amazon, but everything was more than I really wanted to spend. Then the gifts from the universe started arriving.

I spied this one alongside the road in PA this weekend. It looked okay from a distance, and even better up close, so once I made sure the sign on it said "Free", I grabbed it. I still need to refinish the top, but that should just mean a little sanding and a few coats of polyurethane before it's ready for plants.

Two days later in MD we drove past what looked like a pile of trash, but I thought I saw something that might be wooden and just about the size of a plant stand ... and it was! This one didn't even need refinishing, just a good scrubbing and I'm all set.

This doesn't happen very often, but I'm grateful that that the universe has provided me with exactly what I need, and I even have an extra shelf or two for more plants!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for getting back on track. I'm sorry for my abrupt departure, but I had a family thing (a big thing). I would tell you the story if it was mine to tell, but since it's not, please give your children an extra-tight hug and some good thoughts and prayers would be welcomed. I'm going to ease back into my regular life and talking to you guys is a big part of that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

More Gratitude

It was so easy to compose my gratitude list yesterday that I even had a few left over and decided to continue counting my blessings. So, here are five more things.

Pop Tarts! I know they're not healthy and contain mostly empty calories, but I still love them. I haven't had one in several years, so I'm going to appreciate the six left in the box.

My second cup of tea on this chilly, rainy day.

This little sparrow spends most of the day sitting right here at the bird feeder. I think he might have some sort of beak malformation. I'm able to get relatively close to him, but not close enough to figure out what's going on. I'm glad to provide seed for him and grateful that he's chosen one of my feeders.

I'm grateful for the ability to vote. This seems especially true in these mid-term elections and I have very high hopes for the outcome, but whatever happens, I value the right to vote.

This so important, I'll say it twice. I'm grateful to be able to vote and also grateful for one more of Roger Angell's pieces. (E.B. White's stepson still has it.) Go vote and be "enthralled by the moment and its meaning."

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for gratitude. In celebration of Michelle's Gratitude Week, here are five things I'm grateful for today.

I got my mail, complete with the yarn I was waiting for! There was some more confusion, and I had to go pick it up myself, but my yarn is here!

I'm grateful that I had such a nice day on Sunday to pick up leaves, that I have the ability to wield a rake and the leaf sucker, and that they make such a nice, tidy pile in the street. There will be many, many more to deal with, but for now they're still fun.

Buds on all of my Christmas cactuses make me happy and grateful. There should be lots of flowers around here in the next couple of months!

The joy of having a comforting sequel to one of your favorite books is undeniable, even if it wasn't written by the same author. 

Lastly, I'm grateful that I'm only nine rows away from a/n FO. There is the finishing, weaving in of ends, and blocking, but hopefully soon!

What brings gratitude into your world?