Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"









Saturday, December 31, 2011

Knitting and the New Year

We were sitting around last night talking about knitting.  I can't remember what Meredith was talking about, but she was wearing the just off the needles cowl I made for her.
We decided to try the scarf that Meredith had just finished on Ollie.  Cute, huh?

Then we thought it would be fun to try the scarf on Sinon.  
Ollie looks unimpressed.
It was so much fun having her around this week.  

She and Melissa met me at Fellini's for martinis that afternoon too.  As much as I miss the girls being little, this age has its perks too.  Dirty martinis are just one example!
I brought my knitting, of course.
An early morning photo of Ollie.  I miss her too.

I spent some time on the last day of this year in the laundromat washing all of our quilts, blankets, and mattress covers.  I also washed our floors, dusted, and even cleaned the air filter.  I didn't plan to do heavy cleaning, but I'm glad I did, even though my muscles are aching tonight. 

So I will start the new year with a clean house and a clean slate, even if it wasn't my intention.  And I will get up tomorrow to take my first photograph of the year.  See you then.

And a Happy New Year to you and your family!

Cowl Girls

Finally got a picture of the three girls with their Gaptastic cowls; don't they look great?  This picture was taken this morning right before Meredith left for home.  It was a great visit and I already miss her.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Ahead (just a bit)

PurlBee just posted their Best of 2011 project list and I'm so glad they did.  I think these might be my newest project!  They would be a great way to use my stash of thrifted sheets, don't you think? Another project I am drawn to is this one, which would give me a use for the thrifted wool sweaters I recently bought and felted, but go check out the entire list.  It's pretty awesome, especially at this time of year, when everything seems possible. I'm thinking I may need to take a second look at the sewing projects' list, instead of only the knitting pages.

Speaking of looking ahead, I usually don't make resolutions for the new year, but I have been thinking I may make an exception this year.  I would really like to try and break my reliance on shopping retail.  Despite doing a lot of my shopping in thrift stores, I have a habit of "hitting the Target" on a regular basis that I'd like to break.  Too often I have found myself wandering the aisles looking for something to catch my eye so I could buy it,  even though I already have much more than I need.  So my goal is to reduce the amount of new stuff I buy and make sure that I don't already own a reasonable alternative.

I've also been pondering the idea of a photography project.  Nothing fancy, just walking to the beach every day and documenting the look and changing weather of the Bay.  I'd really love to do it at the same time of day, but not sure my work schedule will accommodate.  I'll have to give that a little more thought.

And finally, I'm considering a move to high school.  I love teaching 8th graders, but middle school requires an enormous amount of energy and I'm not sure I can continue to do it for the fifteen years remaining before retirement (the downside of waiting until I was 37 before beginning to teach).  And I don't know how much longer I can wait to transfer; not many principals will want to accept a transferring 60 year old (that age is QUITE a long way off by the way, but it doesn't hurt to think ahead).

The Bay, taken on this morning's walk with Ollie.  Another calm, sunny day.

These are some of the thoughts knocking around in my brain today, as the year runs out.  And, although everyone is probably tiring iPod my "grand-dog"' I had to show this photo of Steve, who supposedly does not enjoy pets. I took it last night, while just the two (or 4) of us were home.  I think this may be evidence to the contrary, don't you?  Even if it is circumstantial.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gifting

I want to make sure I show off some of the lovely gifts that were given and received around our house this year.  Needless to say, handmade and yarns gifts were much loved.  Also my wonderfully addicting iPad is a fabulous addition to my hobby life.  We had lots of thrifted gifts under the tree this year, even more than usual.  I don't know why they are such fun, but we do love finding and receiving them.  I think my best thrifted find was a gorgeous silk kimono style robe that I gave to Meredith.  Thankfully it was too small for me or else I may not have been able to give it up, it was that wonderful.



But for now, I'll keep posting photos of my houseguests.  This is Ollie, looking slightly peeved at the amount of photographs being taken of her.  

A lovely shot of Stephanie, taken yesterday; she's wearing the Gaptastic cowl I made for her.  




Wasn't it another beautiful day?  I can't believe this weather; other than Tuesday, every day has looked this lovely, which has meant long walks on the beach.  Hopefully the walking is helping to balance out all the extra eating I've done this week!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cleaning House

I took the tree down today.  This may be the shortest amount of time I've ever had one up, but since the needles were falling off in great bunches, it felt like the right time.  


I am enjoying the beautiful weather we are having; blue skies, sunny, and just crisp enough to feel energizing.  Despite my love of snow, this seems good.  


Meredith's cat is working hard every night while we sleep to bring gifts of yarn to us all.  He particularly likes the newest skeins (much like myself), but he also really likes a skein of Galway Tweed, as it is pretty sheepy smelling.  It's nice having company in our little cottage this week, especially now that the rush of Christmas is over.

Tonight most of us are heading out to a little place in Norfolk that is renowned for it's wide variety of craft beers on tap.  Meanwhile, I plan on taking a walk to enjoy the weather, reading a little, and knitting just a bit.  hope you and yours are enjoying this peaceful time of year too.




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Days After Christmas

 I am trying to get used to blogging on the iPad and suffice it to say that it is a work in progress.  But I will get there eventually.  Meanwhile, expect some wonky looking posts.


These two cowls/neckwarmers were anything but wonky; in fact, I think they turned out quite nicely.  The green one was for Melissa and the golden one was for Meredith.  I used the Mustard Scarf pattern, and I photographed them with my hipstamatic app!


 
I'm not the only one knitting around here though.  Stephanie is working on some handwarmers for a friend, using some mission falls 1824 wool and a nifty little faux cable pattern and Meredith is knitting a glove and a scarf.  (she knits multiple projects simultaneously just like me.)
Meredith and Ryan brought their critters with them and when they are off doing other things, I get to pet sit for them, which mainly entails allowing them to sleep in the respective bedrooms.
Sinon loves his Christmas present from me, a catnip filled "cassette" labeled purrvana.
We did make Ollie take a walk on the beach with us yesterday, so she could burn off some energy.
Enjoy these after the holiday days.

Monday, December 26, 2011

St. Stephen's Day


We had gorgeous weather for Christmas this year; so much so that I took a walk on the beach Christmas morning. 
video


I went down to the water again this morning and while it was still beautiful, it was much windier.  See (and hear) the difference in the surf?


video

All the kids are coming over this evening for the Feast of St. Stephen, even though we did our gift exchanging on Christmas Eve this year.  I have found that it pays to be flexible with all of our grown children, as they have many other places to visit during this time of year.  Every year it seems the plans need tweaking, and that's okay.   We're having a taco bar this year, which I'm sure would have St. Stephen rolling in his grave, but it sounded like a good idea this year.  Too much "traditional" Christmas food wears thin I've found.  So taco bar it is.

I gave and received many yarny gifts this year, but I'll save the posting of them for later. 

Hoping everyone's Christmas was joyous and peaceful.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice

Today is my first day off from work and I've gotten a lot accomplished.  The cupboards are stocked with food, the gifts are wrapped, and most of the laundry is done.  I even gathered a large bag of items to take to the thrift store.  Stephanie and I ate lunch out at my favorite coffee shop and we've been sitting in the sunroom doing a little knitting and chatting while listening to Christmas music.  Meredith and Ryan are about three hours away, and Melissa will be over later too.  There will be baking and more knitting and chatting. 

Life is so good.  I hope your life is sweet too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Last Day Before Break

Today was the last day of school before winter break. Every year, no matter what activity I plan for my students, the one that works best is coloring. Yes, 8th grade students still love to color. Despite the media often portraying this age group as jaded and difficult, they are often still quite young. Not exactly innocent, but somehow still young, especially when given a chance to just be themselves. So today, despite starting out with an interesting and educational experience involving the picture book, Snowflake Bentley, and some complicated snowflake patterns for them to cut out, by the last bell I had given up and passed out the holiday coloring sheets. And peace and joy reigned at last.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What is Going On Here?

Whoo-boy, the technology changes around here are keeping me absent from this blog.  I've already told you about the iPad, which is sucking a lot of my attention these days.  I've been trying to figure out how to blog from it, but am not having much luck.  Then, when I get on my "old" laptop, I find Blogger has changed some things around; when everything looks different, I tend to back away slowly or charge ahead blindly.  And to round things out, my trusty camera gave up the ghost and I had to rush out and buy another one yesterday, because as I told my husband, "I can't have Christmas without a camera!"  So now I have another variable to work with, which means very little blogging is going on.

Oh, and then there's the whole Christmas scene barrelling at me like a freight train, which is exactly the opposite way I'd like to describe the way I feel about Christmas.  I want to be Amanda, and instead, I'm me, snapping at my family and freaking out at little things.  I mean, I walked into my pharmacist's on Saturday and she knew exactly what medication I needed to refill (hint:  it's rhymes with Manax). 

The good news is that I had my ladies' only party here yesterday and it was lovely, despite the headache I had behind my eyes (stress?  it's possible).  The tree is lit and decorated, and many packages are wrapped under it.  I've made many of my gifts and bought locally for most of the others, so I really don't know why I'm feeling stressed, but I am. 

But I've only two more days to work this week, my stepdaughter arrived on Saturday and my oldest daughter should be here on Thursday, so I'm just going to relax (if it kills me) and enjoy the season.  And one of these days, I should have some photos back up on this blog.  And my next post will definitely be more positive, I promise.  Thanks for letting me vent, for I know I have a wonderful life. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

I May Need a Little Help. . . .

I have fallen down the rabbit hole into iPad world. I just spent 50 minutes on the phone with apple to tell them either I received a defective keyboard or a foreign language keyboard. At any rate, I am sending it back and I'm going to wait until after Christmas to decide if I really need one. Meanwhile, I'm trying to navigate blogging from my new toy. Which means the pile of gifts aren't wrapping themselves. But I am doing a little knitting, thank goodness. I started a Gaptastic cowl using some stashed baby grande alpaca. The Jared Flood cap is on hold for now, but I do plan on returning to it, just as soon as I have some time to focus on it. For now, it's back to Words with Friends!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crafting & Community




The Quince & Co. yarn arrived Friday and I cast on immediately for the Wanderer Cap, using a skein of Lark. I love this yarn so much, I'm not sure why I ever use anything else.I had to use a tubular cast on for the first time, and it only took me two tries to achieve success. I'm not sure the extra work is worth it, although it is a very squishy feeling edge. Anyone else have any opinions on this cast on? Anyway, now I'm following a chart, which is a rarity for me. But I am determined to increase my skill set, so instead of reaching for an old favorite pattern, I chose this one. Plus, it's in the book I just bought, it's by Jared Flood, and it's a cool looking design. Win, win, win.




Yesterday I hosted my 2nd Craft-OV-Rama and it was so relaxing. Ten lovely women were there, including my youngest daughter, and the age range was from 22 to 55, single, married, new mamas, empty nest mamas, and some without children. When I came into work this morning, one of the young mamas thanked me again for hosting these get-togethers. She said they are the only times she really gets to have "me" time and she realizes how important it is to her mental health. Which is actually one of the reasons I'm doing these. Being a part of a community of women has always been important to me, and this is a way for me to pay it forward and include some of these young, harried women in my life. La Leche League was where I really learned how vital these types of relationships are and ever since, they have been a part of my life in some form or other. I am so glad my daughter participates too, as she will need this type of support someday soon, and meanwhile, it's good for her to see the interaction between a somewhat diverse group of women. Although as I write this, I realize she grew up seeing this, so she already knows.




So, what crafting was done? One woman made a fleece blanket, I taught another friend to knit, and I did some knitting myself. I also tried making a potholder on the old metal loom my daughters used when they were young, but I couldn't remember how to bind it off. So in other words, there wasn't a lot of crafting, but there was a lot of talking, which is just as nice.




Knitting update: I am on my fourth Wanderer Cap cast on. The first time I didn't get it at all, the second time I got it, but messed up on the chart, the third time I messed up on the cast on, and now I'm beginning again. Although I know I could give up, I also know that I can do this. It's not that hard of a pattern. It is challenging for me (obviously) but it isn't really that hard, so I'm going to persevere. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 2, 2011

TGIF

Gosh, this week has flown by. Today was a testing today at school, so it was pretty boring, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I've really been happy with the modifications I'm doing for my honors class this year. The gifted class I took really gave me a lot of cool ideas, plus kind of a paradigm shift that has really had an impact on my teaching. I think it's really lucky that I'm still excited about what I do after fifteen years of doing it. Not sure too many people can say that, but it's one of the really cool things about teaching for me; the chance to create my working environment that isn't available in every career.

That said, I'm really happy it's the weekend. I have crafting in my plans. And a chicken dinner in the oven. I used a new recipe from this month's Everyday Foods (love that magazine) and cooked it in the crock pot last night so we could heat it up for dinner tonight. Couscous on the side, white wine gravy, and a glass of wine with the meal. What's not to love?


I've finished the Mustard Scarf and started another one, this time using a silk and wool blend. And I'm making a personal promise to pull out some WIPs. Whoops, I just got the Quince & Co. yarn delivery, so the personal promise just went out the window. Wow, they were quick! I ordered it just a couple of days ago and wasn't expecting it until next week!! Now I'm definitely knitting on some new yarn.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December? Already?

I was perusing my Ravelry page this morning and I noticed that I have two scarves at the halfway point and one handwarmer done. Despite my desire to cast on for new projects, I think it would be a good idea to finish these three projects to add to my Christmas gifting basket (really, it's a gift pile, but basket sounds so much nicer, don't you think?) I hibernated at least four projects because I'm tired of seeing them at the top of my project page; it's like they're taunting me or something.




I also noticed the PurlBee's newest project, the Eleventh Hour Blanket. I love PurlBee's projects, and they are so generous with sharing their patterns, but I also love to calculate the cost of their projects sometimes, just to amaze myself. This project uses eight skeins of Cascade's Magnum, at a cost of $22.60 per skein. Pricey. Of course, as I type this I realize I have so much money already tied up in this knitting habit of mine, that the cost of this project would be a drop in the proverbial bucket, but still. I guess as long as I don't drop that much money knowingly, I can continue to delude myself that I'm really not spending too much. Hmm. I may need to rethink my strategy. Especially since I just placed an order with Quince & Co. I love their yarn, don't you?



I'm just about done with the Mustard Scarf/Cowl that I started on Sunday. It's an easy knit, but I kept making mistakes at first because I was knitting it whilst watching MI-5, (it's called Spooks in the UK) which is a pretty suspenseful show. Steve and I have been on an MI-5 binge for about three months now; we are totally addicted. I think we have three or four more seasons left, and then who knows what we'll do for entertainment. (Just joking, my Netflix queue is loaded with more British television. I'll be fine.)



So far the strategy of gift wrapping as I go seems to be working. The gift wrapping station is in Melissa's bedroom and the wrapped gifts are being stored in Stephanie's bedroom until we buy and put up our tree. I'd like to get it soon so we can let it soak up water for a couple of weeks.


I'm hitting another craft show this Saturday with my sister and mom, and then I'm hosting my 2nd Craft-OV-Rama on Sunday. Should be a whirlwind weekend. Hope you have some fun stuff planned too!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crafting Craziness!

I did some shopping yesterday, but other than going to Jo-Ann's Fabrics, my shopping was done at a few small, local businesses, just as I had hoped. I'd love to share my finds, but since most of the giftees read my blog (sometimes), I'll have to keep silent about them.


The Jo-Ann's Fabrics visit was to stockpile some fleece for more blankets, again, for gifting, so I can't say much about that either. I did buy a glue gun at 50% off, as I'm planning on making a rosemary wreath for the kitchen. I have a glue gun somewhere, but it has gone missing so I bought another one. As soon as I make the wreath, I'll photograph and post it. I thought I'd start it right away, but even the non-mall shopping made me so tired I had to come home and take a two hour nap. What's up with that? I don't know if it's the stress of spending money or the overstimulation.



While I was out, I took a break at a bookstore and fell in love with the Interweave Knits Weekend Hats book. I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy it (read, whoops, I already ordered it); after all, it'll help me with my Christmas gifting, right?



I've actually started wrapping presents, which is unusual for me. But since I decided that I'm not buying wrapping paper, I wanted to make sure I had time to accumulate some paper bags and other assorted recycled paper options, like old maps and newspaper comics. I'm afraid I'll forget what I've gotten once I've wrapped it, so I may make a Christmas journal, although I doubt it'll be as fancy as Earthchick's. I'm thinking a bit more basic.I found this twig arch at the thrift store for $1; I took the silk flowers off it and jammed in rosemary sprigs from our yard. I thought I'd have to hot glue them, but it actually worked better just shoving them in the twigs. Our kitchen has a nice smell to it now.I took a few pictures to give you an idea of the crafting ADD going on around here. This is the Thermis cowl I finished; in the process of getting the buttons sewn on. (by the way, I love this pattern!) It's a Christmas gift for someone.This bowl of cranberries was used to make a few more strings for the bird tree outside. The red fabric is a piece cut from one of the fleece blankets (another gift), and the knit project is the beginning of a Jane Richmond's Mustard Scarf (which looks more like a cowl to me, but tomato, tomahto, as they say). I'm using my special skein of Jared Flood's Tweed yarn. So yummy, this yarn. Bonus points since it's from the stash!
I bought this magazine from Jo-Ann's; it's a UK issue that's filled with quick and fun ideas. It even came with an envelope containing three buttons, fabric squares, and embroidery floss!Finally, here are the two potholders I knit for Larissa's potholder KAL. Mine aren't as intricate as some folks' were, but as one of the KAL-ers pointed out to me, it isn't a competition. They go in the mail to her tomorrow.




Speaking of tomorrow, it's back to work for me, which is probably a good thing, since it encouraged me to clean up all this crafting stuff! Now I'm going to sit on the couch, watch a movie, and knit! Hope you have a happy week!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

I think you could combine these, don't you think?

photo by Connie Hanna

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

I don't understand the decision retailers made to open up on Thanksgiving. Of course, I don't understand the Black Friday concept much either. As a matter of fact, about twenty years ago I gave it a whirl; after all, so many people told me how much fun they had doing it, so I thought maybe I was missing out on an adventure. Nope. Once was enough for me. I ended up stressed, tired, and headachy, not necessarily in that order.

So how am I using my Black Friday time? I put on some Christmas music and cleaned the floors in the kitchen, sunroom, both bathrooms, and the living room. I dusted the cobwebs off of the ceilings, washed some clothes, and now I'm going to sit down and knit awhile.

What are you doing today?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!


My wish is that we are all thankful more often.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Food for the Birds






I'm in the enviable position of being at loose ends. My gifted class finished this past Saturday, so I don't have anything hanging over me, and since the first term just ended at school, I'm caught up on everything there too. Plus it's a short week, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday! I have absolutely no plans to shop over the weekend and we're not traveling anywhere; as a matter of fact, both Stephanie and Melissa are going to visit Meredith for Thanksgiving, so we won't even have anyone staying with us. Therefore, I'm planning on doing a lot of knitting, reading, and napping.








Melissa and I spent a little time on the deck yesterday stringing cranberries for the tree in our side yard; what I call the bird feeder tree. I love doing these types of things, as it reminds me of the days when the girls were little and we put out "food for the birds", as Meredith called it.






We used to smear bagels with peanut butter and bird seed, and cut oranges in half, hole punch the skins, and use yarn to hang them up. So much fun, such nice memories. I'm going to miss them on Thanksgiving day. But at least they'll be here for Christmas. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy the family that will be with me.




Hope your loved ones are with you on Thanksgiving.

A Beachy Christmas Tree

I know it's early, but my mom gave me this beautiful Christmas tree yesterday! I may have to keep it up all year, much to the chagrin of my husband!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leaves & News!

Still loving the color of fall around here. This picture was taken on Sunday; Steve and I took a walk through East Beach, an upscale neighborhood two miles down the road from us.



I photographed this gorgeous ginko tree on Tuesday. The burst of color caught my eye as I was driving past it and I made a u-turn so I could stop and take a picture.






The tree is in a cemetary not too far from our house; the color was simply amazing.







Exciting! I was featured on this blog today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Autumn Color

The leaves in my neighborhood were so pretty this morning when I was on my way to class, that I had to pull over a couple of times just to take some photographs.


The early morning light was so beautiful, but pictures never show it, do they?








This one was the closest to accurate.




Oh, and this was an idea I saw in the newest book I bought, Eco-Craft. It's an LED light underneath some seaglass. Every idea in that book is a winner; take a look at it if you can.





Hope you're enjoying your autumn weekend.

Friday, November 11, 2011

KAL & Craft Activism






We had a teacher workday yesterday and it was one of the most relaxed ones we've had for a long time. I can only assume our new principal deserves the credit for it, as he didn't hold a single meeting, which meant we actually got to work in our rooms!



I'm home today, thanks to the Veteran's Day holiday. It is a beautiful day and I'm grateful for it. The temperatures are in the upper forties, there's a light Bay breeze, and the sun is shining. My goals are simple: refill the bird feeder, take a walk, and work on my gifted class project.Luckily, my car is in the shop getting a warranty repair, which prevents me from going anywhere. That alone increases my chances of actually working, although blogging isn't exactly on the official list.



I made a baby hat this week for a coworker; I used about 2/3 of a ball of Knitcol Trends that I bought at a gorgeous shop, Frivolous Fibers, in St. Michaels, Maryland, a couple of weekends ago. It's so nice, that I wish I had bought a baby sweater's worth, but a hat will have to do.








Continuing with the knitting content, Larissa is doing another KAL and I'm participating. As I was replying to her post, I came up with an idea for my next craft meeting, blending her idea and the idea behind Gale's book, Craft Activism. Last month, my group, Craft OV, met for the first time and made fleece tied blankets/throws. Everyone made them for themselves or as gift items, but this time, I want us to make them as donations. We haven't decided what charity we're donating to yet, but I'm thinking about either our local children's hospital or the NEST program at church. Heaven knows there are a wealth of places who can use them. Just another reason I love the blog-o-sphere; the sharing of good ideas like Larissa's and Gale's.




And under the heading of TMI, this is a shot showing you my work at home uniform:



Pink crocs, Noro socks, and pajamas. Not shown is my comfortable grey cardigan, white tee, and mussed hair. You can thank me later for not sharing.



And to make me feel really virtuous, I soaked a pot of beans last night and will have that bubbling on the stove for most of the day.


Hope you enjoy your day, whatever you're doing.