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February 2014
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April 2014

Weekending Style

Garden box

Under the white covering is a garden box full of lettuce. The cover is (as you guessed) snow. Yes, snow. More snow fell Sunday (let's call it an inch or so) than has fallen over the last three months. It also rained, hailed, and thundered (lightning, too).  I am not complaining about the weather, merely reporting the unusual nature of this event, as we haven't had "real" winter for awhile, only gray skies with a mix of blue sklies thrown in as teasers. 

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That's what Friday was like, which was an amazingly beautiful day we hoped would lead to more just like it. Not to rub it in, but it was also 65. It did not last, as the snow attests. 

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My crafting time over the weekend was spent doing something new...stitching together an Alabama Chanin toy. It is an odd choice, I admit, but there is a reason, which I'll explain later in the week. 

In the meantime...how was your weekend? 


Ready, Set...

After visiting the big box fabric store and seeing their very small supply of poor quality needles, I realized I am a needle snob. Once upon a time I had an amazing stash of sewing supplies, but because they were never used, taking up space for no reason, I cleared out the lot. I'm not sorry. I will collect the small assortment of needles (good quality needles) I need for my Alabama Chanin projects. However, there are a few other things I need to collect before this project can get off the ground.

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The t-shirts I have on hand and will give me the chance to get my feet wet by doing a small project. My hope is my hands will be okay and that they'll hold up to the process of sewing. I will know as soon as tonight how my hands will behave during this new venture.

I have been trying to be patient all week as I waited for supplies to arrive. (I didn't even have a descent pair of large scissors.) Inspiration has been found on the AC DIY Flickr page, as well as all the resource section of the Alabama Chanin website. I have an idea for a larger project, but I think I'll start with a small swatch and get my sewing rhythm established.

I have also promised myself if things go well with the cobbled together projects, I will buy one of the AC kits as my reward. An Alabama Chanin project is almost as time consuming (not that that's a bad thing) as knitting a sweater, but I'm looking forward to it!


Lucky Grrl

A few years ago I changed to tea for my morning wake up, but on occasion, I'll have a cup of coffee. Smith has a pot full everyday, but the only coffee I'll drink at home is from a local roaster, Silver Bean Coffee. I was first introduced to it by the local community station, KRCL, as Silver Bean gives a pound of coffee to everyone who donates to the morning shows during fund raising week (this week!).

Sunday morning Smith had to be up and out of the house at o'dark thirty (the poor guy is not a morning person). While I am the morning person, a bad nights sleep kept me in bed until I couldn't stand it any longer. (Even the dog slept in, which he rarely does.)

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I dressed (in case Moxie woke up and I had to rush him out) and headed for the kitchen. Smith had taken time to ready the French Press with coffee and write instructions on a sticky note. I love his last line "Push - wake up". It was lovely wake up call.


The Places You'll Go

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Spring has sprung! Dozens of white and purple crocus dot the little garden by our front door. This is their first year and I hope each year they'll grow in number and strength.

Today is Ten on Tuesday day and it's a subject near and dear to my heart...BOOKS!

The wonderful thing about reading is being taken to exotic places, different times, different cultures, lands and worlds you would never experience first hand. Each page opens up an understanding of what it would be like to be someone else and to live in another place than where you are now. Some authors do a better job of imparting their vision of time, place, and the human condition, but the last 10 books I've read, the authors have been very good at sharing their vision, their version, of a story.

Carole asked for our ToT topic to share the last 10 books we read and to give a review, if we like.

1. Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy, #1) by Chinua Achebe - If you haven't read this book I would highly recommend you do. The story will do everything I mentioned above; take you to another land and a different time, as Achebe writes of the indomitable spirit of man and shares the story of a lost culture. This was an excellent choice for our book group (last night), as there was much to discuss.

2. The Broken Shore by Peter Temple - Every once in awhile I like to read a mystery novel and down-and-out detectives are de rigueur. This book takes place in Australia, which was a plus, as I listened to the audio and enjoyedthe accent of the narrator. As with many stories of this genre, it was dark and disturbing, not a mystery for everyone.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie- This would make a great audio book as Alexie narrates his story, but I was able to get the e-book from my library so I read it instead. The good thing about a print copy is the drawings Alexie inserts will give a better picture of his thoughts and his emotions. This book will make you laugh, make you angry, and make you cry. I loved every word.

4.The Man in the Window by Jon Cohen - This book was an easy read and a book worth reading. The story of the man in the window slowly unfolds, but the ending took me by surprise. I liked it, but it's not the type of book I usually pick up. It was an NPR recommendation, which I find are hit and miss.

5. The Color Master: Stories by Aimee Bender - I listened to this short story collection and enjoyed the use of different narrators, one for each story. The stories were diverse in subject and some were better than others (as with most collections). My favorite story in the book was The Color Master and my guess is it would be your favorite, too.

6. The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia by David Stuart MacLean - While spending a year in India, David had a reaction to the drug he was taking for malaria. His story was very disturbing, fascinating and irritating.  Imagine the perspective of what it would be like to know nothing about yourself. Nothing. Think about that. It's hard to imagine, but his story was well told.

7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - This was one of my favorite books of of the ten. Adichie took me into a world I know little to nothing about and she wrote the story well. I gained some understanding of what it would be like for a Nigerian (or any other immigrant) to live in America. The stories imagined from afar never quite match up to the reality and finding ones place in a new culture is a challenge. Adichie was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award last week.

In actuality, finding ones place is a recurring theme in many of the 10 books on this list.

8. The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal - This book was my least favorite of the 10. If I'd picked it up on my own, instead of as a book group choice, it is unlikely I would have finished it. The story tells of the rise and fall of de Waal's family in Vienna from before the turn of the 19th century, through WWII and beyond. For that reason it was worth reading and we had a good discussion about the book, the family, and the discrimination they endured.

9. The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan - This was a 5 star book and I'm not the only one to think so as it was long-listed for the Man Booker. I'll admit to having a soft spot for Irish novels. Each chapter of the book is narrated by an different character, all living in a small town, that has been adversely affected by the collapse of the Irish economy. The stories are poignant, sometimes funny, but beautifully full of Irish idioms. The stories center around the violence that affects the town in the wake of the collapse and the demise of the local building firm. I listened to this book, but it's only 150 pages, which would make it a quick read.

10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - I was iffy about reading this book due, in part, to the incredible amount of hype it received before being published. I took a chance as the reviews were all over the place...some loved it, others were unimpressed. I decided to make up my own mind. I'm glad I did. While I can see being bogged down around the middle of the book (I wasn't), the last half swept me up and took me along for an incredible ride. Theo is a grieving child and grieving children heal slowly (if at all). His friend Boris is also a child of loss, and their losses play big roles in the paths they take. The best characters are Hobie and Boris, but many of the minor characters are strong and play important roles, including the painting of The Goldfinch. A small group of us are getting together in a couple of weeks to discuss the book, which will make for another interesting discussion.

Please, tell me the last book you read and if you liked it.


Ecstatic!

As in, jumping up and down for joy, ecstatic!! I am very fortunate to be one of the recipients of the Craftsy prizes Vicki awarded as part of her Ten for Ten Anniversary! For some reason (probably skimming over the give-away part at the end of her posts), I thought I had to sign up through Craftsy, which I never did.

Vicki took me on a trip down the memory lane of blogging. I remember her "Quit" and her travels (we were at Rhinebeck together in 2006), and the ups and downs her family has been through over the last 10 years. Plus, I remember all the beautiful hand knit projects she's created over the years, too! Parcheesi, baby stuff even before Junah was a twinkle in anyone's eye, St. Brigid and Fib!

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Ann, Cara, Me, Vicki -Rhinebeck 2006

This weekend I looked for the tools I need to create my own Alabama Chanin project, as if you hadn't guessed that's the class I picked with my Craftsy prize. 

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Over the weekend I watched a few of the classes and found I was familiar with many of the tips and techniques, as I have studied embroidery for many, many years. I'm looking forward to the process, but first need to pick a project (something small to begin with) and try a swatch or two with the fabrics I've procured (t-shirts from Smith's unused t-shirt drawer--shhh don't tell). I only hope I can create something half as nice as Vicki's beautiful top.

How was your weekend? 


Get Over It

It isn't as though I live my life in fear of failure. I am a knitter after all, and as a knitter, there has been many a project that once made will never see the light of day. In almost any craft I've tried there have been triumphs and failures. Many of you may remember my attempts at fiber felting and toe up sucks socks.

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Some of the other fun things I've tried were sewing (made a skirt and a pair of pj pants), card making, and spinning. I learned to spin on a spindle and wheel and enjoyed the process very much. But the fever waned and I haven't touched a drop of fiber in several years. Fear of getting my wheel back in shape (will I remember how to put it together?), and getting it tuned properly, and/or making a mess of anything I try to spin, has stopped me in my tracks. This is a fear I hope to overcome.

I put many years into the study of embroidery and became quite accomplished, but it's an art I've left by the wayside to languish. I fear getting back on the horse, as I'm not sure how much of my ability has been lost. The drive to spin, or to stitch, is not as strong as it once was and I wonder if there is something lacking in me that I have lost this desire. Am I lazy? Have I, why have I, lost confidence in myself. Were they passing fancies? Being fickle is a little frightening, too.

So what would I do today if my fear was overcome?  The biggest fear is monetary expenses, as several of the crafts I'd like to try involve an investment in supplies. The investment could be lost due to poor quality of workmanship or the fickleness specter. 

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The top of my list of projects to try is an Alabama Chanin inspired by Vicki!  Alabama Chanin means an investment in cash and time, which strikes the fear chord big time! BUT, then Vicki inspires again, as she suggested I use recycled cotton knits. Guess what I have?  I pile of old t-shirts! I'm going to set fear aside, figure out what direction I want to take, and jump in and find my way.

Stay tuned!


Wild Words

Forkym

The minute I saw this plaque I thought of Kym's Words in the Wild series. She is carefully trying to stay inside the lines while coloring the tiny little flowers in her new coloring book. However, she can certainly make the flowers any color her heart desires. What about pink vines and green flowers! Who would know and who should care, except Kym, of course.

Too often I find I stay within the bounds and limits I set for myself. They can be confines too small to exercise my creativity, because I am unsure of myself or fearful of failure. I ask, by whose measure will I failure? Who will judge or punish me if I fail?  I am the only one who builds my walls and fences and I am the only one I can fail. I must be kind to myself, if failure happens, I must realize it is only a learning moment in disguise. 


He Is What He Is

Giving a pass is the best way to keep family harmony and in this house it takes a team to keep things going. In all honesty, I'm having trouble coming up with things he doesn't do, as I am a little on the spoiled side. Today ToT is 10 Things You Do That Your Spouse/Significant Other Could Do But Doesn't.  

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1. He does the laundry without being asked, but he doesn't fold the clothes. I do.

2. He vacuums and/or scrubs the floors, but he doesn't dust. I do.

3. A trip to the grocery store involves too many phone calls of the "where is the..." variety. I go.

4. He keeps the kitchen clean and does all the dishes, but he leaves the tea towel wadded up on the counter. I hang it.

5. He will help with dinner by grilling or chopping, but a he won't plan the meal. I do.

6. He plants and tends the garden, but he doesn't like to harvest the fruits of his labors. I do.

7. He won't pick colors of paint for the walls and he won't pick furniture for the house. He is a very smart man.

8. He doesn't reset the clocks if he has to turn off the power and he doesn't turn them backwards or forwards when the time changes. I do. 

He seems to love me unconditionally and as I said, I am a little on the spoiled side.


You Are The Best

Thank, you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful birthday messages you sent my way. Hearing from family and friends who love me was the greatest gift. It filled my heart with joy and made the day special. Having love all around me is what makes this grrl happy and joyful. And CAKE!

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Before I was diagnosed with celiac I didn't care one way or the other for cake. It wasn't on the top of my "to have" dessert list and, in fact, desserts have never a big draw. BUT, on my birthday I want something special and the icon of a birthday celebration is cake! My very own lemon GF cupcake was the perfect thing to have for breakfast!

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We had a delicious lunch of fish tacos at our favorite taqueria, Lonestar, but alas and alack, they do not have cake. SO, I made up for it at dinner with a piece of the best flourless chocolate ever! In my estimation it's the best cake ever!

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Smith was poised to dive in as soon as I snapped the picture. Over indulgence on ones birthday does not count in the world of calories. Saturday I also had a delicious cheese cake and, on Sunday, another cupcake. The weekend was full of delightful yumminess, but better than food, my birthday was made up of friends who made the weekend memorable and special. Good friends are everything.


Many, Many Years Ago

Annoucement
I am very fortunate to have keepsakes from my birth. My mother made a couple of baby books for me (a perk of being the first child) and kept a scrap book of every card I received for my first 4 years.

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First birthday
My dad took hundreds of pictures, all black and white, of my first three years. He took pictures of the other kids, too, but there are far more of me than of all the other kids combined.

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The bonnet is not to be missed.
This is my first birthday outfit, a bright red dress with matching bonnet. What you can't tell from the picture is the bonnet is covered with tiny ruffles. The matching diaper cover is covered with the same ruffles. Mom saved the bonnet, which is tucked inside her cedar chest. (My sister has the chest and it still contains all the mementos mom saved.)

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Birthday #2
This birthday was celebrated at my grandmother's house. I remember mom telling me my dress was satin. The shouldesr were ruffled and the chair I'm sitting in (a rocking chair) was my gift that year.

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Birthday #3
This is the worst picture of any year in the 8 years (maybe more) of birthday pictures I have. On the back of the picture my mother wrote it was taken at my grandmother's house (again) and my Uncle Charles made the cake. Uncle Charlie is about 10 years older than me.

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Birthday #4
I remember this birthday very clearly. The cake was bright pink (my request) and the little figures on top were a cowboy and cowgirl. (I was big into Westerns at the time.) I'd just had a hair cut and the bottom edges were permed. Mom saved my pony tail, which is wrapped in plastic and housed inside the deteriorating scrapbook. I remember the corduroy skirt with blue and brown shapes on a cream background and its 2" wide straps that constantly fell off my shoulders.  The jumper was my favorite and I loved to rub my hands up and down the soft fabric pile. I love corduroy to this day. I remember the house we lived in and the recurring dream I had. Four years old is as far back as I can remember and many of my memories are vivid.

In any case, this is the long way round of telling you today is my birthday! I'm not one who likes to ignore the day, although I don't care for huge celebrations, either.  I like to acknowledge the day because I'm very, very fortunate to be here, to be healthy (more or less), and be able to celebrate my past and my future!

Clink!