Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer is Over

Summer is over for me. Back to work tomorrow. I don't want to go; I'd rather continue sitting on the beach and knitting, but I don't think it would pay very well.

Here's a progress photo of the UVA scarf for my friend; I'd say it's half way done. I took this picture sitting on the beach Friday night.

Meanwhile, I also started the Hap Blanket from Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits. I had the yarn already, so it's a stashbuster. I'm using four skeins of Plymouth Yarn Baby Grande Alpaca (one of my favorite yarns) and one skein of Manos Wool Classica. So soft.

I'm planning on it being a Christmas gift for my mom, but Mere thinks she won't like the colors, so I may end up with it, which would be fine too. It is basically a garter stitch square with a wide feather and fan border. It's knitting up quickly, so I may make another in different colors for my mom and then we'll all be happy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Spinning may be in my immediate future, despite all of my protests that I don't need another hobby. First, Rudee posted about this beautiful thing, then Amy at knittyblog posted about this one. By the time I get to Rhinebeck this year, I fear I'll succumb at the drop of a spindle.

I lost another three pounds this week, bringing my total loss to 11.4 pounds!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Blanket and A Book

I finished the baby blanket for my friend/coworker! I elected to do only one border instead of the two color border suggested by the pattern. I think it's busy enough without it and my hands thank me for that decision.
Here is a closeup of the garter stitch border.
And as my reward, I bought this book. It has some beautiful projects that I can't wait to start. It may be even better than her first book!

If you haven't seen it, check it out at here!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School Countdown

Stef's move-in went smoothly, mainly because it had been done in stages. Steve and I only had to take a few things up to her Sunday, so it allowed us all time to go to a cool diner for brunch. It's called Dot's Back Inn and it was featured on Divers, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I'm not sure how Steve found out about it but it's one of the reasons I love traveling with him. We also had time to walk the route with Stef that she'll need to take to get to class; it will only take her about ten minutes, so that was reassuring, since this is her first year at this school and she's living off campus.

Meanwhile, my last week clean out is still underway. Steve helped me get down all of the storage bins I have in the attic.

The only things in these bins are clothes and it's embarrassing how many I actually have, but I wanted to get them all down and purge as much as possible and then sort the remainder into logical categories. My previous storage system was to stuff things in a bin whenever I was overwhelmed with the amount of clothes hanging in my closet that didn't fit, so there was no way for me to easily find anything. I only worked on this project about an hour Sunday night and an hour yesterday and I've already filled two big trash bags, slated for the thrift store. I'm hoping to finish up today.

And now that I'm on the way to a more streamlined closet, here's a cool way to use up some of my yarn! Although I doubt I'll actually do it, you never know. And keeping with the organizational theme of this post, check out this idea over at the knitty blog. I love it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Endings

Summer is drawing to a close and this weekend is another step in that direction, as we get Stef settled in her new apartment at her new school. She transferred to VCU from GMU, which means she has the freshman jitters all over again. I think she's very brave to tackle a new place and I know she'll do just fine.

Meanwhile, that means I only have another week left before I'm back to devoting eight or more hours a day to earning a living. Which means this week is clean-the-house-week, and I already started by decluttering and reorganizing our kitchen cabinets this morning. Would you believe we have four containers of cloves?

I'm going to have Steve help me get all my clothes storage containers out of the attic Sunday night so I can sort through them all on Monday. I'm hoping to donate lots, so I can pare down to the essentials. It feels wasteful to have so many clothes stashed away. I'm hoping for a nice rainy Monday, so I don't lose focus.

Speaking of focus, or lack thereof, I have started yet another scarf, this one out of a lovely tweedy red Kathmandu Chunky. It's 10% silk, 5% cashmere, and 85% merino wool, so it's really soft on my hands. Between knitting on the 50% acrylic scarf for my friend and the 100% cotton baby blanket, I felt my hands needed a treat. This yarn has been sitting beside me at the computer ever since I bought the thrift store yarn basket and I finally couldn't resist it any longer. I think it'll be lovely with my thrifted gray wool coat; I'm hoping to wear both at Rhinebeck in October.

(By the way, I lost another 1.8 pounds this week, bringing my total to 8.2!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blanket & Beach

I finished the seaming!!

Thanks to Big Eden and Invictus, I finished up all the seaming. The only thing left to do is pick up and knit a border. The pattern calls for a double color border, which I may or may not do, depending on my mood and how I think it looks after one color.

As I said before, the seaming wasn't as crazy-making as I thought it would be. And I enjoyed playing with color and stitch patterns.

Now I'm off to the beach, cause it's Beach Friday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Mini-Post

I'm almost done seaming the baby blanket; photo tomorrow, promise! Then I get to knit a border! Surprisingly the seaming was much less tedious than I expected; I actually enjoyed doing it. The only reason it's taking so long is all the last minute stuff Stef and I are doing before she leaves for college. Until tomorrow, I'll leave you with these two random things I'm thinking about this week.

Do you ever feel like you want to knit a lot of things, really quickly? I'm feeling that now, probably because the summer is winding up (down?). I find myself looking at my yarn collection and thinking, "Hmm, if I double strand that, I could make a really cool scarf and use up twice the yarn as normal!". I'm also clicking on all kinds of knitting patterns on Ravelry and thinking, "I could knit that before I go back, couldn't I?"

I just read this really interesting post on spinning that will give me something to think about for awhile. Steve's been encouraging me to learn to spin and I've been rejecting the idea for fear of having another "hobby" that takes up more room and money, but after reading that post, I may have to reconsider. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer's Almost Over

Now that I'm down to the last few days of my summer vacation, I'm feeling the pressure to cram everything in. I scrubbed the kitchen floor (on hands and knees, mind you!), went to the NASA Educator Center in Hampton, worked in my classroom for a couple of hours, went to the eye doctor, and visited my parents yesterday. So this morning, I went back to bed for a little nap! You can't do that once school starts and since Monday was so busy, I felt I had earned it.

Stef and I are going to see if we can pick some blueberries tomorrow; it's the end of the season but the field is still open so we're going to give it a shot. We're taking her back to school this weekend, and then I only have one week left before I have to go back to work.

Steve found this great little bookcase at the farmer's market on Saturday. I love the rounded sides. The books on it in this picture are the ones I bought at the library sale the same day.

It was only $10 and I think it fits this space perfectly.

I have another bowl of pears waiting to be made into preserves. Turns out that doubling the batch was a bad idea; I have five pints of pear sauce instead of preserves. It can be used for ice cream topping, sweetening oatmeal, or even to glaze chicken or ham, so it's not as if it will be wasted, just not what I had planned. So this time I'll just do it the long way and make two individual batches.

Still working on the baby blanket but I've also started a scarf for a friend who was accepted into the graduate program at UVA. Thanks to the blue curtain effect, you can't see the true colors of this scarf, but it's UVA orange and blue.

The Knit Picks catalog came yesterday. There's a vest on page 11 that's really cute. I know at least two girls in my family who would love it for Christmas. Hmmm, wonder if I can commit?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Work In Progress

I'm half way through seaming the baby blanket and it's actually nowhere near as tedius as I expected. And just as Rudee predicted, I'm getting a lot better at mattress stitch!
The top two rows are sewn together already and the middle row is ready to add to it.
I also took time yesterday to knit up a baby hat for my hair stylist who's baby is due the end of the month.

I knit most of it while sitting on the beach yesterday with some friends from work, and finished it up last night. I'm also going to give her the Juniper Bonnet I made a couple of months ago because I think it's such a pretty little thing. I just have to find the right ribbon for the ties.

And last but not least, I completed my first week on WW and lost 6 pounds! The first week is always the most dramatic but it's good for my motivation. The average loss is usually 1-2 pounds per week, which is why it's such a healthy way to lose. The bonus is that I had more energy this week too.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pretty Pear Preserves

No baby blanket photos today as I decided to make more pear preserves. Other than yesterday, I hadn't made preserves for about twenty years I'd guess. And I'd forgotten how satisfying it is to take fruit and turn it into something worthy of gifting. Of course I do that with yarn all the time, but this is pretty cool too.

I linked to the recipe yesterday, but let's do a mini-tutorial*, shall we?

First off, I decided to double the recipe, so I could have plenty of preserves, since I had plenty of pears, with more just waiting on the tree.

I used all of these pears, except one.

Chopped pears, lemon juice, fresh ginger, and crystallized ginger, ready to go.

After you mix the sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and fresh ginger, you must bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes.

After adding the pears and crystallized ginger, you have to simmer just at boiling for about 45 minutes (!).

Doubling the recipe made a dozen of the tiny jars and two of the pint jars. Yum, yum.

Isn't this little jar so cute? Just right for a small gift.

Note: This isn't a real tutorial because I didn't say anything about preparing or sealing the jars.

Now I'm going to take a stroll on the beach with my sweetie, and then I plan to flop on the couch and continue seaming up the baby blanket squares! I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not So Scary

It turns out that the 25th square was in my beach bag (just a little sandy), so I got to start the seaming of squares without further delay. And it also turns out that seaming them isn't so bad. I've managed to put two rows of five together and I've decided to sew those two strips together before continuing. That way it'll be done faster, right?

I took time out to make a small batch of Gingered Pear Preserves. It was supposed to make two pints but it was a little short. I think I must have skimped on the pears, which is strange since I have so many of them falling out of the tree in the front yard. I'm going to try to make another batch tomorrow. With photos of the finished product.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let the S(cr)eaming Begin!

Why did I think making a baby blanket out of squares would be a good idea?

See the center square? I think it's a little scary, like a screaming mouth. Or maybe that's just me, screaming at the thought of
ALL. THIS. SEAMING. Not to mention the fact that I had to decide how all the squares would go together.

I think I decided on the last "group" photo as my layout, then I numbered the squares and stacked them up. Somehow I'm still short a square; despite my belief that I've knit 45 squares, it turns out I only have 24. If I had a cat or dog, I'd swear the squares were being stolen and hidden away, but I don't so it must be my poor math skills.

And after I seam these all together, I get to pick up a bajillion stitches to knit a cohesive border around it. Twice. According to the directions.

See you on the other side.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Poetry & Other Randomness. On a Monday.

How do you feel about poetry? I love it, although I feel as if I miss much of what is meant by the poet. Thankfully, I have A Tidings of Magpies on my blogroll, and therefore get to read lots of wonderful poetry. Don't know how I missed this one the first go round, but it's lovely. I don't think students read Fun with Dick and Jane any longer, and for good reasons I'm sure, but it certainly is familiar to anyone of my generation. The ability to read is one of the most incredible gifts; I can't imagine a life without it. I can't imagine my life without it.

I'm thinking I may make a few of these to wear to school next month; who knows, it may compete with the silly band fever!

This water bottle cozy would also be a nice thing to take to school.

I really like this skirt but I imagine it'll look a lot cooler on twenty-somethings rather than fifty-somethings.

Another gorgeous baby sweater; does anyone know how to use Google translator?

Does it amaze you as much as it does me how much talent and creativity is out there?

Learning curve going on here. I just transferred all my photos to an external hard drive, then deleted them from my puny laptop in the hopes that they are safe AND that the laptop works faster. Of course I had to transfer one back so I could keep my background photo. Anyone know about this "new" technology?

And thank you, thank you for all the positive comments about my latest endeavor. I'm thinking of calling it "50 at 50". I don't think I need to explain further. Steve and I walked this morning and are biking tomorrow morning, so I think I can safely say we're cross-training, right?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Weighty Matters

I hate talking about weight. I don't want to set a bad example for my daughters by focusing on my weight, how I feel about it, being overweight, or being obsessed about the process of losing weight. And yet, I have spent so much time doing just that. And I'm doing it again. I went on the Weight Watchers Online program over a year ago and lost 30 pounds; I didn't reach my goal weight, but I was pretty happy. Since then I've gained it all back and I'm not happy about it at all. I have had problems with my feet for the past two years and my hips hurt every morning and I know that the excess weight is not helping. At all. I had hoped to lose weight this summer and return to school feeling good about myself and instead, I did nothing about it. Now that's not to say I did nothing positive this summer, because I did. So I'm going to keep the whole weight thing in perspective and move on.

And so today, I re-enrolled and started the process of tracking my food intake. I know I can do it and I know I will feel better. I have to. And even though I won't be anywhere near my goal weight by the first day of school, I will have least made some progress toward that goal. I hate that I become obsessive about it when I do this, but it's the only way I know how to do it. Just thought you should know.

Now for something completely off topic: This is hilarious!! I love it!

And, I just booked my flight to New York to see Meredith and attend Rhinebeck!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hot! Hot! Hot!

This sun looks a lot happier than most folks around here do these days. The hot and humid weather is definitely back. I've already taken two showers today and I'm thinking a cool bath before bed may be in my future.

Part of the reason that I had to shower a second time was the fact that I decided to tackle my flower beds today. Steve has control over the entire yard with the exception of these two little spots, mainly because he loves gardening and I don't. I love the finished product, but I'm not a huge fan of messing around in the yard. I'd rather knit.
In April, when I was on spring break, I planted some things in here in the hopes that they would take over.

This is the right side: one hosta left.

The left side? One dead/dying shrub and one sickly impatiens.

So this morning, when it was breezy, if not exactly cool, I weeded out everything, then went to the garden center with a photo and asked for guidance. I ended up with three large ornamental grasses and three lantanas. Since the left side is where the mailbox is, I didn't want a plant that attracted bees near it, so I planted it this way:
one lantana and two grasses on the left,

and two lantanas and one grass on the right.

The original plan when I was at the garden center was grasses on the left and lantanas on the right, but I thought that would look weird. So I did it this way, thinking it would tie the two sides together. Now I'm not so sure about it. So I'm asking for comments. (Steve will certainly give me his opinion when he gets home today, but I would like as much input as possible.) What do you think? As is, or swap around?

On to something I am sure of; this great basket I bought this past weekend while thrifting! It cost me $20 but it's in great shape. And what do you know, it's already doing its job!

It's in the library since the color matches the bookcases so well and it's really too dark for the sunroom. (Not to mention I'm running out of room in there.)

And as a tiny aside, what's up with all the baby sweater patterns I'm downloading? I'm addicted to them. So cute, so tiny, so quick to start and finish. Now I'm going to go sit under an A/C vent with the fan running and do a little knitting. Cotton, of course.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Is What Happens

This is what happens when you waste an hour reading blogs and following all the links when you should be getting ready to go to work.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

He Missed Me

Not much time for blog writing this weekend, as Steve has been "wining and dining" me. Very nice to be missed. And by the way, how can it be August already? At least the heat wave has receded. We've had lovely temperatures since Friday and a significant amount of much needed rain. We've had the windows open for three days now, thank goodness.

I did finally upload the Richmond photos. This is the bookstore that Steve and I visited last Sunday, after the normally less-than-two-hour trip took three and a half due to heavy weekend traffic. It's in an area called Carytown; lots of artsy shops. Unfortunately it was 105 degrees that day, so we didn't feel like walking very far.

Besides, once Steve saw the inside of the store, he was quite happy to stay and browse. It had an upstairs as well and the prices were great.

I spent a few minutes there, as it's a very cool store, but then walked one block to find my personal Carytown favorite, The Yarn Lounge.

They were super friendly. Don't you love to see how different yarn stores decorate? I didn't even notice the balls of yarn above each shirt when I was there, but aren't they cute?

I love this wall of yarn with all the plants on top. Very soothing.

The store's signature colors are blue and brown and they even have a glass jar of M&Ms to match.

I really loved this store's shabby chic look (not sure what else to call it). This screen door propped up on a radiator is used for community notices. I think it would be a great way to display jewelry, if one had the space.

And this is an old refrigerator door covered with magnetic containers (probably IKEA) holding buttons. She also had a rack of old Kodak slide forms holding stringed buttons but I must not have taken a photo of it. It was really a cool display.

Anyway, that's about it for the trip. As for knitting, I'm plodding along on the Evil Stepmother cowl anytime I have a minute or two, and I've just about finished the cotton handtowel. I should be getting back to the Hokie cowl soon, so I can gift it as planned.

Random things:
I was catching up on my blog reading Friday night and saw this article, courtesy of knittyBlog. How true it is. On the first day of the VDOE committee meeting, I spotted a knitter, decided to sit near her, and bam, instant conversation starter. Plus it turned out we were even on the same committee and ended up hanging out throughout the week.

This idea for summer shoes looks interesting; although I'm not sure I'd make them, one of my crafty daughters might.

And last but not least, this link brought back good memories of crafting with my daughters.