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December 2011
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February 2012

January 2012

Oh, Baby! It's Cold Outside!


Crazy weather!  That's all I can say.  First, it's warm.  Then, it snows a foot.  Now, it's warm again.  And raining.  And foggy.  I hear the snow is coming back soon, though.  Crazy.


What to do when it's too cold. . . or wet. . . or foggy. . . to go outside?

Well, here's what I do:

  1. Knit (well, technically I do this in all weather. . . inside or out)
  2. Read (ditto)
  3. Bake (pecan rolls are especially lovely on a snowy day)
  4. Dream about my gardens (and plan!)
  5. Pinterest (or other computer "stuff")
  6. Play around with Art (photos, watercolor, art journaling)
  7. Watch movies or other video programs (because I never watch stuff when it's actually "on")
  8. Chat on the phone (sometimes while doing other things on this list; I'm a multi-tasking chatter)
  9. Catch up on work (sad, but true)
  10. Organize myself . . . and maybe a closet or my desk (but I'll probably have settled into any one of numbers 1-9, so. . . probably not)

How do YOU like to spend a bad-weather day?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.



Now That's More Like It!

We've had a weird winter.  Generally warm.  Rainy.  Hardly any snow at all.  Then, on Thursday night, it started to snow.


And it only just stopped about an hour ago (it's Saturday now).


We got a lot of snow.

See this map?  (From mLive.)


It shows how much snow fell in lower Michigan.  See the purple spot in southern Michigan?  Kalamazoo.  10-12 inches.  That's us!


We're in a little valley here in Kalamazoo, and just the perfect distance from Lake Michigan.  A little "snow belt."  It happens like this a lot.  We get dumped on!


12 inches is a lot of snow!

As you can imagine, Jenny is thrilled with the snow in her backyard!


She goes NUTS in the snow. 

And Tom is pleased to have a new, warm hat -- finished last night -- just in time for a romp with Jenny.


(The hat was supposed to be for Brian, but Tom wanted it.  And Brian isn't around to claim it.  So. . . finder's keepers. . . and all that.)


(Ravelry details here.)

For now, the sun is coming out.  But there's more snow in the forecast. . .


Looks like winter has finally arrived.

Year End Review: The Not Knitting

Last week, I posted about my knitting in 2011.  I mentioned that I wasn't as prolific as I have been in past years.  Maybe.  Just maybe. . . that's because I spent a good deal of my time Not Knitting. 

I got my sewing machine out again.  I did a major crochet project.  I started journaling.  I even started . . . some other (Not Blogged) art projects.

I liked Not Knitting.  Not enough to give up knitting (never), but I enjoyed the diversion.  My five favorite Not Knitting projects during 2011:

1.  My Project Spectrum "True Colors" crocheted blanket. . .


2.  The lunch bag I sewed for Erin. . .


3.  The apron I sewed (also for Erin) -- it's reversible!



4.  The owl potholders I made (again. . . for Erin). . .


5.  Roll-up shopping bags I made as a Christmas gift (for Erin!). . .


I never did blog about these bags.  Because life got a little hectic there around the holidays, and I finished these up while my mom was in the hospital.  They're pretty cool, though.


Simple, quick, neat.  I followed this tutorial.  As a bonus, the bags roll up so you can keep them handy with you when you're out and about.


Looks like Erin was the primary beneficiary of my Not Knitting in 2011.  (She's not getting the blanket, though!!!)

One Little . . . Wavelength

I read a lot of blogs every week.  Mostly, I read and follow women bloggers who, when it comes right down to it, are, basically, a lot like me.  I feel a certain affinity with the bloggers I follow -- a kinship; a connection.  We share . . . hobbies, histories, outlooks on life.  We laugh together.  We support each other. 

It's definitely the best part of blogging!


A while ago, I discovered Mary's blog.  (I think I may have stumbled upon it through our mutual participation in Ten on Tuesday.)  Right from the start, I felt like I was on the same wavelength as Mary.

There were the Quite Obvious things:  We're roughly the same age.  Our kids are roughly the same ages.  We knit.  (A lot.)  We're both "retired" from our former jobs. . . but we both work at yarn shops now.  Our husbands travel to Asia for their work.  We both have black dogs . . . and we walk them every day.  We're both committed to staying fit, exercise, and healthy eating.  We like to travel.  We're close to our families.  We both have "bird trees" as part of our holiday decor.

But there are also some Less Obvious things:  We are both long-time journalers.  We both like personal introspection.  We both keep inpsiration boards near our work spaces.  We're often thinking/mulling about the same kinds of life-questions.  We both seem to be drawn to the same types of outlets for creative expression.

Many times, when I read something Mary has written on her blog, I just stop and say out loud, "Huh!  Me, too!"  I'm often inspired to think a little deeper, reach out for a new idea, or connect some loose thoughts together after reading Mary's posts.

Earlier this year, I read about Mary's One Little Word experience.  I was intrigued.  I was inspired.  She encouraged me to try it myself -- and I did.  I liked it so much (even though I didn't blog about my experience in 2011), that I decided to participate in One Little Word again in 2012.

I started thinking about my word in early December.  It just sort of . . . came to me. . . my word.  In a song, in random thoughts, as I was working on household chores, as I was knitting.  One word.  It just kept surfacing.

Imagine my surprise, last week, when Mary revealed her own word for 2012 on her blog. . . and it was the same as mine!!!  (Talk about . . . sharing a wavelength.)

This year, my One Little Word . . . and Mary's One Little Word . . . are the same.  SHINE.

It was sort of shocking, certainly, to discover we both came up with the same word.  Independently and without shared discussion.  But I think it feels  . . . right . . . to share this One Little Word with Mary.  (We definitely have some sort of wavelength thing going on!)  I'm looking forward to the process.


Is It Soup Yet???


Mmmmmm.  Just thinking abou this week's Ten on Tuesday list makes me hungry!  We're talking. . . Favorite Soups.  And I love a good pot of soup!


I make a pot nearly every week during the cold months. . . either in my trusty Crock-Pot or on the stove.


Nothing beats a hot cup of soup on a cold winter day.  (Throw in a piece of fresh, crusty bread and you've got one of my favorite meals.)


My favorites?

  1. Hearty Lentil Soup (from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook; note:  I have the 2010 version of the cookbook, so I haven't seen the new 2012 version)
  2. Classic Cream of Tomato Soup (from the same cookbook)
  3. Chicken Noodle Soup (a great recipe is Mom's Chicken Noodle Goodness from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever)
  4. Chicken Tortilla Soup (also from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever)
  5. Chicken, Mushroom, and Barley Soup (from the same cookbook; as pictured above)
  6. Minestrone (variety of sources; I like to add cooked turkey to mine)
  7. Potato Soup (variety of sources; it's nearly impossible to go wrong with potato soup)
  8. New England Clam Chowder (I don't make this one, but sure appreciate a cup of yummy chowder!)
  9. Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Bisque (variety of sources)
  10. Hot-and-Sour Soup (with an order of wontons, please!)

Mmmmm!  Is it soup yet??????

PS:  Tom puts in a plug for split pea soup.  I, however, cannot add it to my list.  Because it makes me gag.


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Just Sit Right Back

Four weeks ago, my mom drove down to my house for a little gingerbread house decorating party.  It was mid-December.  She left her chores and her Christmas preparations where they were. . . and came to enjoy a little afternoon with me and some of my pals.

You know what happened, though.


She's still here!

My sister laughed with my mom . . . that it was a little like Gilligan's Island.  You remember -- when that famous three-hour-tour that turned into an indefinite stay on an uncharted desert isle!


So.  Tom decided to write his own theme song for my mom. . . stuck here on Recuperation Isle!  So, sit back, and sing along . . . (to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme song).  (Thanks, Tom!)


Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,

a tale of a Christmas bash

that started with some gingerbread

and ended with a cast!


The Nanny was a veteran of fun and gingerbread,

and everything was A-OK

till she felt light in the head

(felt light in the head).


Alberta started feeling faint without a drinking binge.

If not for the hostess and the other guests

Her head would hit the fridge,

would hit against the fride!


The head's OK but her leg is not,

it got a double break.

It landed her in the basement,

in a cast for pity's sake!


With Kymberly (like Nightingale)

Therapy Dog and Green Puck

The Longboard Kid

Poppy and Mr. Tom

On Recuperation Isle!


So this is the tale of Yvonne's bum leg

They're here for a long, long time.

They'll have to make the best of things.

It's an uphill climb.


The walker and the wheelchair, too

will do their very best

to make Alberta comfortable

in the basement re-coop nest.


No shit, no shower, no Zumba dance,

no free license to pee!

Just sitting in a plaster cast,

As primitive as can be.


So join us here each week my friends,

It's sure to take awhile

As Nanny's leg is on the mend,

here on Recuperation Isle!



Sometimes, it's humor that gets you through!  As an update, my Mom is doing well following surgery -- and graduated to a "boot" last Friday (still no weight-bearing on that leg, though).  She is making great progress, and will be leaving Recuperation Isle later this week.

Note:  My Mom -- whose real name is Yvonne -- also goes by "Nanny" (to my kids) and "Alberta" (to Tom).  (She's Canadian; from the Calgary area.  Tom has always called her "Alberta.")

Year End Review: The Books

I read a lot.  Like. . . I typically read somewhere between 45 and 65 books a year.  Mostly, I read contemporary fiction, but I like to mix in some literary classics and non-fiction books for good measure. 

When I look over my book list for 2011, I see that I read 48 books.  I was on track for 52 (my goal this year). . . but my reading-train derailed when my Mom had her accident in mid-December.  (I actually haven't read a page since. . .)  In review, I can see that I was heavy on contemporary fiction this year; a little lighter on the classics; and there were plenty of non-fiction books in the mix.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to reading, and I have my own "star-rating" system for rating the books I read.  Most of this year's reading fell into my 4-star category (which is typical), but 8 of them were 5-star books (not counting Get the F--- to Sleep, which was brilliant, and definitely worthy of 5-stars, but sort of out of my usual "realm" of categorization).

Here are the five absolute-best books I read in 2011:


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I loved this book so much.  It actually may be one of my favorite books EVER.


Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch.  Fabulous!  Insightful!  AND. . . I now have enough book recommendations to last a good, long time!


Parrot & Olivier in America by Peter Carey.  Delightful.  Such wonderful contrast in perspectives.  (Plus, I sort of have a secret-love for American history.)


On Canaan's Side: A Novel by Sebastian Barry.  Lovely writing; compelling characters; heart-tugging story.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer.  So moving; I just loved this book.  (But I won't be going to the movie.)

So many great books!


Year End Review: The Knitting

At the end of the year, I always enjoy looking back to review what I did with my time.  Today, let's check out my knitting in 2011.

Generally, it was a far less prolific year than usual when it came to production.  I think I spent as much time knitting as usual, but just didn't seem to end up with much to show for it.  Seems I was more focused on small things. . . baby sweaters, hats, vampires.  And, of course, the slippers.  All the slippers!

If I choose my five favorite knitting projects for the year, I think I'd have to choose these:

My Summer Solstice cardigan. . .


My Bettie Boop Noni bag. . .


The little Gift Wrap Sweater . . .


My Cladonia shawl. . .


And, well, the Duffers!  (All of them, actually. . . but I like the color combination on this pair for Erin best of all.)


(Ravelry links here, here, here, here, and here.)

Fresh Start!


I always like the New Year.

Everything is fresh. . .


And blank.  Ready for a new start.


This week, Carole has us thinking about Ten Things We Want To Do in the New Year.  I've been having fun thinking about this all day!  Here's what I want to do:

  1. Keep Doing What Works -- keep my good habits going strong into the new year. . . a commitment to fitness, healthy eating, getting enough rest, leaving room for a little excitement now and then
  2. Take Time to Reflect -- about myself and who I am -- and find outlets for expression . . . journaling, blogging, writing, One Little Word, exploring creative outlets
  3. Use Bold Strokes -- color with all the crayons in the box. . . create, explore color, and texture, and mix things up a bit; let my craft reflect my self . . . with fiber, fabric, flowers, photos, and art materials
  4. Expand My Personal Toolbox-- learn new things and take time to experiment . . . finish the Master Composter program, broaden my skills with PhotoShop, find a new camera, travel to new places, try new recipes and restaurants, knit gloves
  5. Practice Kindness -- what can I do to lift someone's load. . . smile more, say something, lend a hand, reach out -- it's the little things that make a difference
  6. Celebrate the Ordinary -- after all, the Ordinary is ExtraOrdinary. . . keep my priorities straight, acknowledge and celebrate the every-day-ness, and use the Good China (for Pete's sake)
  7. Simplify -- get rid of the baggage. . . organize, prioritize, shed
  8. Do a Good Job -- if I take it on, I need to give it my all . . . so choose my work carefully - and then. . . do it well
  9. Maintain Balance -- pay attention to the yin and yang . . . consider consequences to personal balance when choosing to add new activities and commitments
  10. Take Delight -- enjoy life. . . laugh, smile, see the lighter side. . . because if there is One Thing I Know For Sure, it's that life can change in a heartbeat.  So enjoy it while you can, and take delight in what is around you -- every day!

Happy New Year!