New Box of Crayons

When I was a little girl, my favorite thing in the world . . . was a new box of crayons.  (I was giddy the first time I got a Crayola box of 64 crayons -- with built-in sharpener!)  (Remember those?)

So.

It shouldn't surprise any knitters reading this . . . that I jumped feet first right into this brand new "box of crayons" . . . 

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Although the colors are quite off in this photo (because it's so dang dark anymore), you can see that I'm having a really good time with this.

I may even be slightly obsessed.  

Just like I used to be with a new box of Crayons!

 

 


Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It's warmed up again here.  I mean . . . it's a relative thing now, at this time of year.  But it's not THAT cold.  And all the snow has finally melted.  (I may even try throwing my bulbs in the ground later this week.  Because what have I got to lose???)  Slightly warmer temperatures and no snow/ice on the ground makes for easier outdoor walking, that's for sure!

Which got me thinking.  I know a lot of you walk outside as your primary fitness activity.  And it's hard(er) to get out there and do it in the winter, when it's cold and there's snow on the ground.  But it's not impossible!  (Just ask my sister, who walks every day -- even in Cheyenne's brutal wind and "sideways snow!")  I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips for winter walking - to keep us all moving -- and moving safely.

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So.  Here we go.  My tips for winter walking:

Stretch a little before you get out there.  When it's cold outside, your muscles take a bit longer to warm up.  Help them out with a few quick stretches before you begin.  Get that blood flowing before you leave the house.

Watch your step.  Mind where you go when it's snowy or icy.  Keep to a moderate (or even a slow and careful) pace when there is ice or snow on the road.  If possible, walk on trails or the sidewalk or less traveled streets.  Watch out for those piles of plowed snow!  Seriously, take it easy -- because you don't want to fall.

Take smaller strides.  The longer your stride, the more likely you are to fall on an icy road.

Dress in layers.  Even though it's cold, a brisk walk can get your heart rate up and make you sweat.  If you're overdressed, you'll be uncomfortably warm, and that's no fun.  (When that happens to me, I usually take off my gloves for a while and unzip the top of my jacket.  I can always pop the gloves back on, or zip back up again if I get chilly.)  But . . . don't layer your socks!  You can better avoid blisters by wearing only single socks.

Wool!  (I don't need to tell the knitters out there about the benefits of wearing wool.)  Wool is your best layer.  Leave the cotton stuff at home!  (Really.  Cotton absorbs moisture -- which never works well when you're exercising.)

Pay attention to your visibility.  Wear something bright -- and something reflective if you're walking in the dark.  If it's dark, put on a flashing clip light.  Carry a little flashlight so you can mind your footing.  Or, better yet, go ahead and get yourself a headlamp.

Try some studded boots or "traction cleats" for your shoes.  When the roads are icy or snow-covered, I pull on my YakTrax.  They provide an amazing amount of stability and make walking outside possible for me in the winter.  My sister has some sort of studded boots that she wears for winter walking (I'll ask her for more information if you're interested).

And then, of course, when you get back home from your winter walk be sure to do a bit more stretching and drink plenty of water!

How about you?  Do you have some tips to share for . . . walking in a winter wonderland?

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Please join us for our Week 3 Read With Us discussion of Just Mercy.  Carole's hosting us for Friday Tuesday Night Snacks -- and you don't want to miss that!


Revving Up

All day yesterday, I felt like it was Saturday.
It wasn't, though.
Monday has rolled around again.  Time to . . . 

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On Mondays, I share things I discovered over the weekend.  
(Even when the weekend seemed shorter than it was.)

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A Quote

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude."
     ----- from the Winnie-the-Pooh series by A. A. Milne

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A Word

Here's another word I'd never enountered before . . . discovered while reading Ben Lerner's The Topeka School:

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I had to look up more words in that book than I can remember doing with any other book in recent history.  For the most part, I could easily glean the meaning of these unfamiliar words in context.  But I was curious.  So I spent a lot of time with my dictionary.

How about you?  Can you recall a book you've read that required you to keep a dictionary by your side at all times?

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As a Mister Rogers fan, I'm looking forward to the movie coming out later this month, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is based on the relationship between Fred Rogers and the journalist Tom Junod.  Junod has written an essay for The Atlantic about his relationship with Rogers, what it was like to see the movie inspired by/based on that relationship, and, ultimately, some thoughts on what-would-Mister-Rogers-do in our world today.

It's rather long, but well worth reading.  Here's the link.

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Oh, my.  We have reached that point in the movie-watching season where it is just an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great movies in the theaters.  Between now and the end of the year, it is going to be a constant parade of movies with "Oscar buzz."  This weekend, Tom and I saw two movies we highly recommend:  Harriet (starring Cynthia Erivo) and Ford v Ferrari (starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale).  Both are worth a night out at the movies!  (But be warned about The Lighthouse.  Sure, it's critically acclaimed.  But it is also a . . . Big. Slog.)

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And that's it for this Monday.
Hope your week is starting off well.

Join us tomorrow over at Carole's for week 3 of our Read With Us book discussion of Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy.


This and That

It's Friday.  Let's circle back.

Remember when I told you that Tom's curling team was entering a bonspiel (that's curling lingo for tournament) as the Brews Brothers?  It was last weekend.  They got 2nd in their division (best finish EVER in a bonspiel, so yay!).  And here they are in the official team photo. 

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(Maya, on the far right, decided to dress for the photo as the Carrie Fisher character from the Blues Brothers movie.  She played all the games in the standard Brews Brother costume, including the sideburns, though.)

Remember when I told you I dug out the needle felting supplies from the back of my craft closet to make some little pumpkins?  I finished them!

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Remember when I told you about the larch tree in my garden . . . and how weird it was to see its golden glow through my living room window?  I explained it was a deciduous conifer and that it would drop its needles, leaving a rather dead-looking tree through the winter.  Well.  We're there.

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I hope you have a great weekend.
See you on Monday


Thursdays Are For Gratitude

(I'm grateful every day . . . but in November, I blog about it, too.)

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Most years, here in my corner of the world, we have lovely, lingering falls that last well into December.  We get our leaves raked up and into the streets by Thanksgiving, and the city comes around a few times in November to pick them up.  We use the nicest November days to put up our Christmas lights and prepare the outsides of our houses for the upcoming holiday season.  We have plenty of time to finish all the garden chores and plant spring bulbs and gather in the last of the still-thriving parsley.  There is plenty of time to locate your ice scraper and get it into your car.

But this year?  Not so much.

And I made a pact with myself . . . that if winter really IS here already . . . that I'm going to roll with it and Not Complain About It. Even though the snowplows did a real number with all those leaf piles in the streets, waiting for pick up.  And, in fact, half of the trees still HAVE their leaves, which are now falling and mingling with the snow.  And . . . you probably guessed it.  My bulbs didn't make it into the ground before the cold snap.  (That is not really complaining, by the way.  Those are just facts.)

Instead, I'm finding gratitude.

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  • After a day of snow, I'm grateful for the return of sunlight - even just for a minute - and especially when I stumble onto magic sunlight patterns in my bathroom.
  • I'm especially grateful that I have a car designed to handle well in the snow and ice of a Michigan winter.
  • And I'm so grateful to have a warm house to return to after being out in the snow -- with enough heat and light and down comforters and love to get me through the longest winter.

What are you grateful for today?

 


Let It Flow

(For a soundtrack to today's post, click here.)

I know.  I know.  It's not a cardigan, and it's not gray.  But I did finish a thing . . . and it might be one of my favorite things ever.  And just in time, too.  Because winter showed up this week, and I can use all the wool I can get.

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(On Monday we had a snow storm.  Yesterday, it was clear.  Sunshine and blue skies even.  But then the lake effect snow machine turned on at pretty much the same time Tom and I had our one opportunity to do a knitting-photo-shoot while there was still light.  So here I am . . . in the pouring snow!)

It only took me a couple of rows to "get" why Andrea Mowry's "shifty" designs are so popular!  Oh, my -- what fun this was to knit!  All those colors.  All that texture.  And a great, satisfying end result.

I had a "yarn palette" of 7 lovely Briar Rose colors to play with -- and then . . . I just let it flow!

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Let it grow, let it grow. . . 
Let it blossom, let it flow.
In the sun, the rain, the snow. . . 
Love is lovely, let it grow.

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(Ravelry details here.)

So.  Gray cardigan next?
(Not a chance. . . )

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Be sure to visit Kat today for other Unraveled posts.  And head over to Bonny's to get in on the Just Mercy discussion.  (I'm not sure that she has any pastries left, but the discussion is very good!)

 


Checking In

It's been a while since I've written a post about fitness and wellness.  (Like with exercise itself, sometimes we get off track, y'know?)  So as I head out this morning for an early spin class and probably some weight work (I don't really feel like it right now, but I really ought do it anyway. . . ), I thought this would be a good time to check in with you.

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How are you doing with your fitness these days?  
What's working for you?  
Or . . . what's not working for you?
Do you have any progress or new goals you want to share?

Let's . . . check in!

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And . . . head over to Bonny's today for more Read With Us.  This week, Bonny is hosting our continuing discussion of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  (I hear she has pastries . . . )

 

 


Start Your Engines

Well.  The weekend went whizzing by for me.

And now it's Monday.  And it's snowing.  

Time to . . . 

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. . . with some flotsam and jetsam that washed up for me over the busy weekend.

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A Quote

"Another fall, another turned page."
 --- Wallace Stegner

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A Word

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to the gym, I heard a segment on NPR's Weekend Edition about the word fraught.  It wasn't so much what the word fraught means . . . as how it is used -- and how that word usage is changing over time.  I really wanted to share that segment with you all, but I can't find it on the NPR site!  I'll try to make do on my own.

First off, here is the dictionary definition of the word (a word so common I'm sure I don't really need to include the definition, but it does make things more interesting, I think). . .

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(Please note that I am not including entries 2 and 3 of 3 here.  Entry 2 is using fraught as a noun, while entry 3 is using fraught as a verb.  Neither of these "fraught usages" are currently in use, and neither of them are relevant for this post -- or the NPR segment.)

Anyway.

Most of the time I use, read, or hear the word fraught in language, it is accompanied by the prepositional phrase with, as in. . .
fraught with danger
fraught with anxiety
fraught with tension

But lately, I've noticed that some people use the word fraught all by itself.  As in . . . The situation was fraught.  No with involved.

And this is what the NPR segment was all about.  They mentioned that the word origin of fraught was actually related to definition 3, above (the "archaic" one):  laden, or freight.  As in . . .  loaded with.  And that's how fraught with evolved in common usage -- it needed that with because it was describing being laden with something.

But now, fraught is evolving further . . . to be an acceptable, stand-alone adjective.  So.  If you hear the word fraught being used all by itself . . . well, relax.  It's okay.  Fraught is now an acceptable adjective meaning "distressed, anxious, or tense."  Without a with.

Thoughts?

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Looking for a good non-fiction book to sink your teeth into?  Here's a list of the 20 best works of non-fiction in the current decade.  (I can personally attest to the excellence of several of the selections on the list -- and think everyone should read The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.)

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And . . . that's it for this Monday!  I hope your week is off to a good start.  (And not . . . fraught.)

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PS - Be sure to join us for the Read With Us book discussion - Week 2 - over at Bonny's tomorrow!  


It's All About Adaptation

According to various websites, hibernation is . . .

  • "a way for many creatures – from butterflies to bats – to survive cold, dark winters without having to forage for food or migrate to somewhere warmer. Instead, they turn down their metabolisms to save energy." (Discover Wildlife)
  • "a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in endotherms." (Wikipedia)
  • "a state of greatly reduced metabolic activity and lowered body temperature adopted by certain mammals as an adaptation to adverse winter conditions." (Britanica.com)

Why this little lesson on . . . hibernation?

Well.

It has suddenly become winter here in my corner of the world.  Like . . . January-winter in early November.  Very. Cold.   Couple that with the ever-increasing darkness, and  . . . well . . . I feel like it's time to hibernate!  Or at least to hunker down inside.

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My life changes a good deal when the cold settles in.  My entire diet changes, for example. My food cravings are different.  I cook and prepare meals I would never even dream of making in the warm months.  I sleep more.  I go to bed earlier and I'm much more inclined to take a nap now and again.  I wear shoes -- and socks (!) -- and so many layers.  I bring out the twinkle lights and the candles.  I have more frequent tea-breaks.  I escape to the movies.

I definitely adapt!  
(It may not - technically speaking - be hibernation.  But it's pretty darn close!)

How about YOU?  What do you do . . . to get through the cold, dark winter?  

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And Knitters?  If you haven't already seen it (and already ordered it. . . ), be sure to visit Ann and Kay today and check out their newest Field Guide.  Because . . . it's a Stunner!  (And, well . . . I can clearly see that there will be more Not-A-Gray-Cardigans in my near knitting future.)

Enjoy your weekend.
See you on Monday!


Thursdays are for Gratitude

(I'm grateful every day . . . but in November, I blog about it, too.)

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Today, as I was walking with JoJo through the leaf-piles in my neighborhood . . . watching a few snowflakes dance in the air . . . and trying not to think about my cold feet . . . 

I thought about what a wonderful day it is.  And how much I have to be grateful for!

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  • A safe and beautiful neighborhood to walk in.
  • An energetic pup to coax me into the leaves (where the crunching is best) (and apparently the smells, too).
  • Inside warmth and a hot cup of tea when I return home.

What are you grateful for today?