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February 2013

January 2013

Right Now . . . January 2013

Here's what's going on in my life  . . . RIGHT NOW.


Watching . . . Downton Abbey, of course.  (Still in shock over the demise of Lady Sybil. . .)  An episode of Portlandia every now and then, for laughs.  (Put a bird on it . . .)  And movies.  (Lots of movies.)

Reading . . . Alice Munro's newest short-story collection, Dear LifeThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  And the poetry of Mary Oliver.  (Don't forget . . . Silent Poetry Reading, blog-style, coming up on February 2!)

Knitting . . . Ei-yi-yi!  We really will not speak of knitting today.  Except to say that my Tinder cardigan is finished (except for buttons and blocking).  It is currently in a bit of a balled up wad in the corner.  There was (ahem) a bit of an issue with one-row buttonholes.  But I had a lot of practice.  And now they're perfect.  PERFECT, I tell you.  I also finished a sock.  And that's all I'm going to say about knitting.

Listening to . . . Respighi, Ben Harper, and Motion City Soundtrack.  Also. . . Macklemore*.  (Thanks for the introduction, Brian!)

Thinking about . . . Being open to SURPRISES in my life.

Dreading . . . Wallpaper removal.  And how it's really the only thing holding me back from a having a cool bathroom.

Humming . . . Sweet Emotion.  Aerosmith.

Planning . . . A special birthday celebration for my special friend, Sandie.  A little trip with my sister (to Not Europe).  And how to get everything ready to deal with my recalled iMac (Still.  I don't want to do it.).

Celebrating . . . Another 6-month oncology check-up under my belt.  All is well.


Drinking . . . Chai latte.  I got hooked on this great mix from a local coffee/tea company.  Like. . . really hooked.  And now, I can't find any more.  So sad.

Itching to . . . Plant something!

Needing to . . . Get straight with what YEAR it is.  Here it is, the end of January, and I'm still having a hard time writing 2013!!!

Organizing . . . My address book and letter-writing tools.  Tomorrow begins the Month of Letters.  Join in -- click on the link in my sidebar and learn more.

Inspired by . . . The Dreambird Shawl, Scandinavian design, and the succulent planters I saw at the greenhouse last weekend.


Delighted by. . . My new - and practically-perfect-in-every-way bag for work!  After years (seriously. . . YEARS!), I have finally found the most wonderful work/laptop bag in the world (and fairly reasonably priced, too).

How about YOU?  What's going on for YOU . . . right now?


*  See for yourself. . .


Cabin Fever


I don't mind winter.  I love snow.  I have a down coat, cozy boots, and plenty of wool to keep me warm.  I have an all-wheel drive vehicle that I can rely on to get me through whatever winter throws down.  I have a fireplace.  I like to read.  And knit. 


I can deal with winter.

It's just that . . . when it starts to look like this . . .


with the slush and slop . . .


and the ice and the ooze . . .


that the Winter Blahs really start to take hold!

Yesterday, I wrote about some of my favorite winter-blah cures:  greenhouse visits, chai lattes with a friend, symphony music.  Today, Carole has us thinking about Ten Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs.


1 -- Create Light.  Find ways to bring more light into your surroundings.  I hang little glass sun-catchers in my windows, and I keep some holiday twinkle lights up until spring.  It helps.

2 -- Embrace the Weather.  You can't change it . . . so you might as well accept it.  Get OUT in it.  Take a walk in the snow.  Get out your shovel.  Find some great rain boots.  A little weather won't hurt you.

3 -- Find the Beauty.  Each season holds a special wonder.  Try to find it.  (Take your camera.)


4 -- Get Out!  Do something.  Go somewhere.  See a movie.  Or a play.  Go to a concert.  Diversion can be delightful any time -- but especially so when the Blahs set in.

5 -- MOVE.  Yeah.  Go work out!  The harder the better.  Exercise improves your state of mind, keeps you healthier, and perks you up besides.  (And remember - swim suit season is just around the corner.)

6 -- The Right Beverages.  A cup of tea.  A chai latte.  A bottle of wine.  A jigger of whiskey.  Ahhhh.


7 -- Make Plans.  Design a garden bed.  Plan a vacation.  Or a weekend getaway.  Choose some new paint colors.  Reorganize your Ravelry "queue."  Let your mind wander and have some fun with new ideas.

8 -- Try Something New.  Not necessarily a big thing . . . but just a little tweak can bring some fresh perspective to your life.  Usually read novels?  Try some poetry.  Usually knit?  Try a little sewing project.  Usually run?  Try some yoga.

9 -- Comfort Food.  When the weather outside is . . . BLAH. . . I like to cook hearty, warm-you-from-the-inside foods.  (This pot of chicken noodle soup will do the trick -- and, with Tom gone, I'll be eating it for days and days and days!)


10 -- Surround Yourself with Things that Make You Happy.  Combat the Winter Blahs with images . . . hobbies. . . people . . . activities . . . words. . . that make you happy.  Life is good.  Even in the dead of winter.


How about YOU?  How do you beat the Winter Blahs?


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

Cure(s) for What Ails You

A soundtrack. . .


Sometimes, life is just kind of . . . a slog.


Winter doldrums. 


Mumbai blues.

Credit card fraud.

And 7 buttonholes. . . turning into 22 (and counting, unfortunately.)

Spring looks to be a long, long way away.


It's a good thing . . .

there are cures.


Chai lattes in a floral shop greenhouse.


A little color.


Some irrigation.


A little glimpse of what's to come.


Hope in pink petals. . .


with maybe a little something to take home.


(And a little Respighi, a nice cab, and a totally surprising episode of Downton Abbey certainly round things out!)

Might Look a Little Strange

I suppose that coming home to find this note on the counter might seem a little surprising. . .


And I suppose some might find it a bit off-putting to open the refrigerator and find this inside. . .


But here, it's de rigueur.

Oh, it might look a little strange, sure.  But it's just a sure sign that SOMEbody is about to leave for another stint in Mumbai.

Happy Weekend!

This and That . . . Three Things on a Thursday

It's cold.  It's snowing.  It's Thursday.

Thing 1:  Claim to Fame


Erin gave me these socks in our Family Stocking Exchange this Christmas.  She purchased them for well under $5 at Rite-Aid.  If you look at the tag, you can see that these socks are "The Coziest Socks in the Universe."  (That's right!  The Universe.)  Who knew?

Thing 2:  Why I Was Late To Work on Tuesday


That's right.  Turkey Crossing Ahead.  This poor-quality phone photo only shows the last two (well, you can actually see four if you look carefully) of a string of six turkeys crossing the road.  S-l-o-w-l-y.  By the time I got my camera out and pointed at the turkeys, I almost missed 'em.

Thing 3:  Best Chocolate-Covered Almonds EVER


Tom brought home some YUM from Switzerland last week.  Oh. My.

Enjoy your Thursday!



Beep-Beep Beep-Beep YEAH!


Let's just set the tone here. . .


Today, Carole has us looking inside our cars . . . to reveal what we keep in there.  I figured . . . (bad) photo documentation will do the trick. 

So, what Ten Things Do I Always Have In My Car?


1.  My "Car iPod" (it's plugged in. . . down there in the dark where you can't really see it).  My car is pre-iPod auxilliary port-friendly, so I have a specially installed conversion "thing" (technical term. . .).  I leave my old, classic iPod plugged in there all the time (because it won't hold a charge anymore otherwise).

2.  Sunglasses (they're in the cupholder; I don't drive without 'em.  Except at night.).

3.  Ice Scraper/Snow Brush (which I hadn't used all winter . . . until yesterday!).

4.  Umbrella (not used much in the winter, but it's there in the side pocket. . . just waiting for spring).


5.  Re-usable grocery bags (best bags EVER; I use these EVERY time I shop).

6.  Folding basket (so handy at so many places).

7.  Gardening gloves and giant slab of plastic (tucked in the little cubbyhole . . . because you never know when you'll find some plants needing a good home, y'know?).


8.  Garage door opener (natch).

9.  Emergency cheaters (to read directions or . . . just SEE in a pinch).

10.  Important documents (like auto registration and proof of insurance).

Beep-beep Beep-beep YEAH!

How about YOU?  What do you always have in YOUR car?


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


Just Lucky, I Guess

Soundtrack. . .


(which, although a GREAT song, has absolutely nothing to do with today's post. . . but it was the song stuck in my head - relentlessly - for every stitch of this project.  Every. Stitch.)

We all have our weakness when it comes to "wearables."  For some, it's shoes.  Others, bags.  (Ahem).  Could be anything . . . something we just can't resist.  Grapic tees.  Denim jackets.  Mustard green anything. Black everything.



Yeah.  Tom has a thing for hats.

Ball caps in summer.  Wicking hats for running.  All manner of nerdy fishing hats.  Warm hats in winter.  Hats.  Always hats.


He has a knit cap tucked into the pocket of every coat or jacket he owns (and, trust me, jackets run second to hats for Tom).

Whenever I knit a hat . . . Tom claims it.  (Brian has lost a couple of hand-knit hats this way.)

Good thing he married a knitter!


Just lucky, I guess!

Ravelry details here.




Beer Throw Down: Arcadia vs New Holland

We're nearing the end of Kalamazoo Beer Week . . . a week focused on "building a relationship with craft beer."  (Now, some of us already enjoy a very deep and personal relationship with craft beer . . . but what the heck.  You can always go deeper.)

Last night, Tom and I had reservations to take part in the Beer Throw Down, sponsored by one of our favorite local restaurants -- Food Dance.  The concept is simple:  Two brewers go head-to-head in a food-pairings, blind beer tasting showdown.  We eat.  We drink.  We vote.


Four courses of taste-exploding flavor!  Specially created Food Dance courses . . . paired with beer from Arcadia and New Holland.


All of the "tasters" were seated together at long tables in a separate room.  Even though most of us didn't know each other when we sat down, we were all pals before the night was over.

Beer does tend to bring folks together.

After the tasting and voting for each round was complete, the brewers talked to us about their beer selection -- a little bit about how it was made, and a little bit about why they selected that particular pairing.  Fascinating!

The food was fabulous (as was the beer) -- and it was so interesting to experience the differences between two beers WITH food.  Some people around me seemed to have problems choosing sometimes -- but I seemed to always have a clear favorite in every round.  (I just gotta say . . . one beer - one that Tom voted for!!! - smelled like pee.  I just couldn't with that one.  But then . . . I am a wine drinker. . . so what do I know?)

Our final course . . . dessert . . . was beer floats!


Okay, then!


I could've voted for either, but in the end. . . I chose #2.

Fun night!  And a great way for Tom to overcome his jet lag!


(In the end, the winner was New Holland Brewing . . . in a sweep.  My favorites, every round, as it turned out.)