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July 2010

Friday Round Up: Random Edition

It's time for a Friday Round Up!  It's been a busy week here.  I was away for two weekends in a row, so I had quite a backlog of chores to catch up on.  Of course, it didn't help that my dryer broke down . . . just as I was starting my assault on Mt. Laundry!  I was stuck with a load of wet towels from "up north" (meaning . . . really old, kind of threadbare, and prone to mildew).  I started my week waiting for a new timer for the dryer. . . and displaying my "up north" towel collection on my back fence.

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Luckily, the repair was completed by Wednesday, and I was back in business.  (Of course, the laundry had multiplied right before my eyes in the meantime!)

To distract me from the ever-growing laundry pile, I decided to make some ice cream.  Chocolate!  Gosh, there are a lot of calories. . . and fat. . . in ice cream!

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Making it yourself, it seems like there are even MORE calories . . . because you SEE the ingredients go into the bowl. . .

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and you know what's in there. 

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Remember Puck?  Brian's parrot?  Well. . .

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he's sort of. . . worming his way into my heart.  We still aren't the best of friends, but we like each other a whole lot more now.  He's very, very happy living in my office.  He loves music -- and I always have music playing.  He sings and whistles to the music, and even does a little "dancing" now and then.  He has a lot more social interaction now that he's closer to the center of our home, and he's responding well.  Maybe this will work out better than I thought. . .

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My herb garden is really flourishing!  Although I snip fresh herbs to use in cooking all the time, it's now Herb Harvest Time.  I picked these first thing this morning . . .

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and will spend some time this evening freezing some. . . and drying others. . . for use during the winter.  Last week, Kim put together a fabulous post about preserving herbs.  Check it out! 

I also have begun my pepper harvest.  Besides the bell peppers, I'm growing jalapeno and cayenne peppers this year.

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Actually, it looks like I'm going to have a bumper crop of the jalapenos and cayenne -- so I'm going to string them and dry them for use later.  I'm also planning to try to pickle some of the jalapenos!

With all these herbs around, I've been getting a lot of use out of this nifty little herb chopper.

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Works like a charm!

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As for what's blooming this week in my garden. . . we have PeeGee Hydrangea. . .

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. . . grass "plumes". . .

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. . . and brown-eyed Susan.

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Have a wonderful weekend!

==========

Just a little follow-up note.  Remember this project?

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The lovely little cardigan with the totally messed up pattern?  Well, I just wanted to let you all know that the designer was very receptive to my notes and suggestions.  For the time being, she has pulled the pattern from distribution/sale and is working out the bugs.  The Ravelry page for this design now carries this note from the designer:

July 18, 2010: Guinevere is temporarily unavailable. I am working on making it a little clearer and to address some errata that has come to my attention. I hope it will be back up for sale in 2 weeks.

I'm so pleased that she is handling things this way.  I just wanted to pass it along. . .



Then. . . and Now

At this point in the Growing-Things season, I like to look at photos to compare the "Then" with the "Now."  It's fun to watch how things grow and change.  Like. . . here's one of my front door containers "Then" (mid-May):

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and "Now" (end of July):

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Or my front faux window box . . . "Then":

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and "Now":

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It's fun to see the changes, don't you think?  Here's my front border "Then":

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and "Now":

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Or my succulent wreath . . . "Then":

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and "Now":

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My little pond has really changed this year!  "Then":

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"Now":

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(Too bad I couldn't get a "Then" and "Now" photo of my little koi, Boo, for you!  He has nearly doubled in size this season.  I'm currently looking for a new pond-home for him -- because he's outgrowing his digs!)

I think my favorite change, though, involves my "edibles."  Here they are "Then":

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and "Now":

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When it comes to gardening,

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change. . .

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is good!


The Life Aquatic

Cue soundtrack . . .

Some people are renewed by mountain vistas; some by sunsets or skies; some by city skylines; and some by open expanses of prairie.  Me. . . I'm a water person.

Give me an ocean. . .

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or Lake Michigan. . .

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the little lake at my cottage. . .

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or even a river. . .

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and I am refreshed; inspired; renewed.

I'm not really sure why water has this effect on me.  I didn't grow up near any large bodies of water, and I didn't spend much time (if any) at oceans or lakes as I was growing up.  I did, though, spend lots and lots of time IN the water.  A different kind of water. . .

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(This is Not Me.  This would be a great place to insert adorable-youth-swim-photo of myself. . . but my scanner still won't talk to my computer.)

I grew up swimming -- first age group AAU swimming and then high school swimming.  I still swim a few miles a week. . . to keep in shape.  I find swimming to be a relaxing way to exercise -- the water is soothing, cool, refreshing.  Maybe that's why water is so renewing to me.

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Here's my confessional --  I am completely comfortable in water.  Pool water, that is!  I like clear, clean water.  I like chlorine.  I like being able to see the bottom of the pool.  I like the fact that the bottom of the pool is solid.  I like that. . . there are no "things" in the water.  In short, I like "blue" water.

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"Green" water. . . ummmm. . . not so much. 

As much as I love to look at natural bodies of water, the simple truth is that. . . being IN oceans and lakes kind of . . . creeps me out!  I think it may be the perpetual pool swimmer in me, but I just don't like the mucky, shifting bottoms of oceans and lakes.  Or the "stuff" -- like weeds and other flora that gets stuck between your toes or tangles in your legs.  Or the fact that there are critters living in there -- and swimming with me!  I can sort of (sort of) handle the fish. . . and turtles. . . and bugs.  But recently I saw a muskrat swimming along in my lake . . . and, really, I've not been able to get back in the water.  I'll just stay in the boat. . . or on the dock. . . thankyouverymuch.

Which is a really long way of getting to the real point of my post today!  You see, I have just completed knitting a lovely little warm-weather scarf -- with yummy Sundara Fingering Silky Merino yarn . . . with the color-name "The Life Aquatic."

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And it really DOES look like water!  Kind of blue-y green-y with random yellow highlights that look just like sun shining on the water surface.  (Here's my Ravelry link if you'd like details.)  Anyway, this yarn "sang" to me . . . like usual . . . as I was knitting away.  But it didn't settle on just one song.  Sometimes it sang annoying songs like "Under the Sea" (Little Mermaid) and "Baby Beluga" (Raffi).  Sometimes it sang songs I love, like "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "The River.  Thankfully, I squelched "Muskrat Love" as soon as it tried to break into my mind (following the unfortunate muskrat sighting last Saturday).  Finally, Bruce's "The River" won out in the soundtrack-of-my-mind. . . because the scarf is long and flowing . . . just like a river.

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The Life Aquatic. . . is my kind of life.  Minus the muskrats, of course!



Money for Nothing OR TV on My Terms

ToT-Button

Stay tuned!  Don't touch that dial!  That's right, this week's Ten on Tuesday topic is . . . Things to Do Instead of Watching TV.  I think we need a soundtrack. . .

Now.  I don't watch all that much television.  Oh, sure.  I have my thing for Don Draper Mad Men.

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And I'm really looking forward to the next Project Runway season (this Thursday, folks!).

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And, yeah, those Glee kids have totally stolen my heart.

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But.  I tend to watch television on MY terms.  The tv is never just turned on for "background noise."  Tom and I rarely just turn on the tv and surf.  (I can't make this claim for Brian, however.  He's a bored 18-year-old on summer vacation.  He heads into the man-cave that is my family room and watches plenty of crap that is, unfortunately, targeted to his demographic.)  Anyway.  I don't watch tv news, I don't watch sports (except hockey sometimes), I don't watch daytime shows, I don't watch talk shows, I don't watch commercial television (sorry Don Draper).  I do, though, watch DVDs of tv shows; I watch episodes on my computer; I use my DVR and record things to watch later (without commercials).  So I can't claim a tv-free existence -- but I can claim to watch tv the way I want to watch it.

What do I suggest for things to do BESIDES watching tv?  Well. . .
  1. Knit (although you can do this while watching tv, too. . .)
  2. Read
  3. Go outside and take a walk
  4. Play in the garden
  5. Do a workout; get moving
  6. Cook dinner for your family
  7. Talk
  8. Enjoy a glass of wine on the patio
  9. Play with your dog
  10. Set your DVR or order from Netflix or visit your local library . . . so you can watch what you want. . . when you want to watch it. . .later.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast!

Motor Boat

(Special thanks to Vicki -- for the inspiration!)

Motor boat, motor boat. . .

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go so slow!

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Motor boat, motor boat. . .

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little bit faster!

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Motor boat, motor boat. . .

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go so fast!

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Motor boat, motor boat. . .

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step on the gas!

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We have an old, used pontoon boat up at our cottage.  It pretty much just. . . goes so slow.  But that's fine with us.  We can tour the lake,

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spot some wildlife (that's a loon),


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fish,

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and knit.

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Slow . . . or fast, spending an afternoon on the lake is a great way to just kick back and relax.




It Happens All the Time

Okay.  Here's one you may not even remember . . .

It happens all the time.

I have been an Interweave Knits subscriber for years (and years).  Like since. . . 2002.   I like getting the new issues in my mailbox.  I save them like a treat . . . to be unwrapped and looked at leisurely, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  (Especially in the days Before Ravelry.)  Lately, though, I've been disappointed.  I haven't found the more recent issues very inspiring.  I've been giving the magazine a quick glance, and then filing it away on my knitting-magazines-shelf, never to be looked at again.  I had decided that, definitely, I was going to let my subscription lapse whenever it was time to renew. 

The fall issue came in the mail earlier this week. Along with the "time to renew" notice.

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Wouldn't you know it . . . when I looked inside, there were several patterns that caught my eye. 

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Inspiration. 

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Ideas.

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Stash-that-would-work.

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I may even renew. 

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It happens all the time.  Every time I decide to end my subscription, an issue arrives that seems to be targeted just to me.  Crazy love.

(PS -- I'm off to the cottage for the weekend.  It's civilized. . . but not connected.  See you Monday!)


The Crooner

On the last morning of our road trip last weekend, my mom and I took Erin out for breakfast at the local Bob Evans restaurant.  Things were hoppin' there at Bob's . . . as you might imagine on a Saturday morning in small town Ohio.  Still, we were most surprised when a sweet little old man shuffled over to our table and announced. . .

"I love to sing to beautiful women!  What will it be. . . Bing Crosby, Tex Ritter, or Dean Martin?"

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Initially, we were totally caught off guard and we just chit-chatted with the little man, hoping he'd just shuffle away.  Quietly.  None of us was eager to be serenaded by an 84-year-old man (that's how old he was)  in the middle of a busy Bob Evans restaurant!  But then it came again. . .

"Bing, Tex, or Dean?"

What the hell.  I picked Dean.  And this little man crooned out a Dean Martin song -- on pitch; perfect rhythm; clear, smooth voice.  He kind of sounded like old Dino himself!  And then he moved on. . . shuffling to the next table where I could hear him ask. . .

"Bing, Tex, or Dean?"

The shuffling and the options and the crooning went on for some time there at the Bob Evans in Newark, Ohio.  Our waitress told us he comes in and does this every morning; that she's worked at Bob Evans for 5 years, and he was doing it even before she started.  I heard a lot of Dean and Bing tunes in the air on Saturday morning!  I don't think there were any Tex Ritter fans in the house.

Before he shuffled out of the restaurant, he returned to our table and crooned out one more Dean Martin tune.  I think he liked me . . . I'm sure it was the hair. . . and that's when I snapped these photos.

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Before he left us, he told us, with a twinkle in his eyes . . .

"The girls at the bank call me Roberto!"

I'll bet they do!


Not a Happy Camper

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The topic for this week's Ten on Tuesday. . . Ten Things to Bring on a Camping Trip.  Uh-oh.  I don't DO camping.  The last time I "camped" was in 1983.  Too much work.  Too much hassle.

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But.  I do have a cottage "up north."  It's like camping.  Only civilized.  At my cottage, I have electricity, plumbing, beds with sheets, a real oven, a refrigerator, a shower, TV with DVD (but no cable and no internet), and a washer and dryer.  It's not "roughing it."  Shoot, I have crystal wine glasses in my cabinets and Mr. Rick's cousin (The Storm Trooper) in the closet under the stairs.  So, no roughing it.  Not even close.  But it's as close to camping as I'll ever get!

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So . . . what do I make sure to have on hand. . . up at my cottage?

  1. Knitting -- and plenty of it!
  2. Books and magazines
  3. My iPod
  4. Wine
  5. A comfy sweatshirt
  6. Movies
  7. Games
  8. Brownies (it's a family cottage tradition!)
  9. Beach towels
  10. Cozy afghans for long naps
And THAT kind of camping. . . I can deal with!


The Answers and a Road Trip

First, the answers!  Here are the answers to Friday's literature quiz:

  1. Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.  Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
  2. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.  George Eliot, Middlemarch
  3. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  4. Call me Ishmael.  Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  5. 1. Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?   Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power
  6. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.  Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
  7. I am a sick man. . . I am a spiteful man.  I am an unpleasant man.   Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground
  8. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.   Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
  9. In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.   Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline

Fun, huh?  Maybe not. . . if you don't particularly care for the classics.  I got all of them except #5 and #7.  (Don't expect Nietzsche to appear on my reading list any time soon, though.)

==========

Now. . . for the Road Trip.

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My mom and I hit the highways last Thursday to visit Erin down in Ohio.  Erin opted to stay on campus this summer - with a full time job -- rather than move home for a few months -- with no job.  I'm pretty certain that the fact that most of her friends AND her Very Special Someone were also staying on campus for the summer may have had some sway in her decision!   Anyway, we miss her; so when she suggested a visit, we packed our bags and hit the road.

Granville, Ohio is a charming little town!  There's an inviting main street . . . 

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full of little restaurants and galleries and shops.  (I must note that there used to be a fabulous little knitting store in town.  My mom and I were both looking forward to stopping in.  But.  It's gone.  Without a trace.)

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We enjoyed checking out all the other little shops. . .

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in fact, those very cute little farmer's market totes hanging near the green door found their way home with each of us!  Textile designer extraordinaire, Amy Butler, lives in Granville.  While we didn't visit her studio, we certainly took note of her presence in several shops and galleries in town!  (I was hoping that the fabulous yarn store would be stocking Amy Butler's new yarn line. . . and I could purchase the yarn right in Amy's "hometown".  But.  You've already heard how that worked out.)

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(I covet that bag!)

We were totally charmed by the homes and inns lining the main streets of town.  Gorgeous gardens.  Historical homes.  Architectural splendor.  So many of my favorite things to photograph!  Doors . . .

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windows . . .

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peeling paint . . .

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bricks (sometimes in combination WITH doors and windows) . . .

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flowers.

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We had a great time with Erin, too.  Shopping in nearby Columbus . . .

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eating . . .

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drinking!

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It was so much fun to be together!  A perfect road trip, all around!




In the Beginning

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(Daylily thrown in just for color. . .)

A couple of weeks ago, I got a catalog in the mail -- Bas Bleu, a book catalog for readers.  On the front, there was a cute little quiz with the title "Can you identify these famous first lines?"  I held on to it, because I thought it would be a fun little Blog Quiz (and I was feeling especially smug. . . because I correctly identified 7 of the 9 first lines.)

Anyway.  I can't seem to get my scanner to talk with my new computer. . . so this idea has languished for a couple of weeks.  At this point, I'm tiring of the squabble between my iMac and my HP scanner (the printer is working. . . it's just the scanner that's feeling pissy), so here goes.  Same quiz. . . just not so cute as the one on the cover of the catalog.

See how many of these famous first lines you can identify.  (Answers later this week.)

  1. Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
  2. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
  3. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
  4. Call me Ishmael.
  5. 1. Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?
  6. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
  7. I am a sick man. . . I am a spiteful man.  I am an unpleasant man.
  8. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
  9. In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.

How'd you do?