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September 2019

August 2019

Measuring Summer

There are so many ways to measure summer . . . 


Number of days.  Hours of daylight.  Temperature.  How many inches your kids grew.   Days until vacation.  Days of vacation.  Miles walked.  Or biked.  Books read.  Stops at the ice cream place.

So many ways.

I like to measure it in the garden.

In early June, I bought two gigantic pots for my front porch at Costco. Huge pots.  Great price.  (I'm thrilled with these pots!)  And I filled them with annuals.


Nice.  But underwhelming.

I knew, though, that those little plants would grow.

Yesterday, at the end of summer?


That's what I call a full summer!

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How do you measure summer?


Enjoy the weekend.  I'll see you back in this space on Tuesday next week.


As for the stash giveaway?  The Bloomfield yarn will be making its way to Roslyn, and the Hacho will be off to Juliann.  Thanks to all of you who expressed interest in the yarn.  There will be another giveaway in September!

38 Years Later

A week ago today, Tom and I celebrated our 38th anniversary with a quick trip to Chicago (yeah . . . we saw Hamilton again . . . ) and then had a bit of a "pub crawl" the next day on our way home.  (I say "a bit" because we only stopped at 2 places - Three Floyds in Munster, IN and Greenbush in Sawyer, MI . . . and one of us was the designated driver.)  (That was me.)

Anyway.  We had a great time.

Yesterday I pulled out my trusty salad bowl to use once again, and it got me thinking about our wedding -- because my salad bowl was a wedding gift.  I was thinking about how often I use this particular bowl, and what a perfect gift it was.  


Tom's childhood neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff, gave us the bowl.  It wasn't intended to be a salad bowl, actually -- just a lovely wooden bowl for display.  But over the years, it's become my go-to bowl for pretty much any salad I throw together.  I use it all the time, as you may be able to tell by the worn edges around the rim.  (That wear-and-tear has made the bowl all the more beautiful, actually.  I'm happy it's not one of those "pretty things" I just packed away and never used.) It is a much loved item in my kitchen, and I actually think about it being a wedding gift every time I use it.  

There are a few other wedding gifts that we still have and use regularly.  A lot of things were much appreciated back in 1981, but they simply did not hold up or stand the test of time over the long haul.  Since it's a Thursday, I thought it might be fun to share 3 more wedding gifts we're still using . . . 38 years later.  

Here they are:  Three Wedding Gifts with Staying Power.

1 - The glass-and-chrome "relish tray"


As a 22-year-old, I remember unwrapping this gift and just thinking . . . what the heck will we ever do with THIS????  It is super shiny and totally not my style (then or now).  And yet . . . this particular relish tray has made an appearance at every single party or get-together we have hosted since 1981!  Ugly?  Yes!  But oh so useful!  The elevated chrome "tray" rotates.  The little glass "dishes" lift out separately for easy filling and even easier washing.  The middle "dish" is perfect for holding dips or hummus or what-have-yous, and the outside "dishes" are great for veggies or fruits or cheeses or crackers.  I mean . . . this bright and shiny hideosity turned out to be a PERFECT party serving piece and I will be forever grateful to my mom's former co-worker Mr. Dolence for this gift.  (I think of him and chuckle whenever I pull this tray out for a party.  I'm sure he wouldn't remember me or this relish tray even if tortured.)

2 - The Pyrex mixing bowl set


If you were lucky enough to receive a Pyrex mixing bowl set for your wedding, you quickly realized . . . you were pretty much set for life when it came to mixing bowls.  Four sizes.  Super versatile.  An ultimate git-r-dun kind of kitchen tool.  Until I got my KitchenAid Stand Mixer about 10 years ago, every single batch of cookies, every cake, every meatloaf I ever made . . . was mixed in that big bowl there.  (Thanks Jeri Cay Boulden, Tri-Delt sister!  I'll bet you had no idea you'd live on in my memory forever because of these bowls.)  The smallest sized bowl - sadly - cracked only last year.  I miss it still.

3 - The remaining 2 items from the 6-piece kitchen utility set (with special veggie motif handles)


Yep.  The potato masher and a very sad (but much used) strainer are all that remain of this set -- which at one time included a little hanging rack (also with veggie motif) and matching spatula, ladle, fork, and mixing spoon.  I don't actually remember when the other utility tools met their ends (except for the spatula) (the plastic handle made contact with a hot burner) (it wasn't pretty), but these guys still have a place in my utility drawer --even making it through multiple Kon-Marie's of my kitchen.  I don't actually recall who gave us this particular gift, but I'm betting they'd be surprised that it's lasted this long.  (By the way, that veggie motif?  Sticker!)

38 years later.  
Still going strong!

There are a few other long-lasting wedding gifts around -- a few random steak knives, a sterling silver tray, the "happy mushroom" motif potholders (I'd share a photo, but they're in the cabin kitchen up north), a wedding clock that doesn't work any more (but is still quite pretty), a coffee table book about Idaho (there was a connection), and a Corning Ware cutting board (we remember the giver with much fondness).

How about you?  Do you have any gifts - wedding or otherwise - that have really stood the test of time?


Last reminder -- please let me know by today at 5pm Eastern time if you're interested in this month's stash giveaway.


Signed Sealed Delivered

(Click here for the soundtrack for today's post.) (Which also happens to be a pretty great "vintage" live video.)

I wrote myself a Love Note . . . 


Ooh here I am baby . . . 
Signed sealed delivered . . . 


I'm yours!

You can find the details here -- on my Ravelry project page.


Be sure to check out this month's stash giveaway here -- and let me know if you're interested by Thursday at 5pm Eastern time.

That Last-Monday-in-August Feeling

When I got up this morning, it was dark.  Not just . . . a-bit-darker-than-yesterday dark.  But dark.  It's the last Monday in August, and I am really starting to feel the change in seasons.  

Last Monday in August.  
Time to . . . 



A Quote

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"
---Dr. Seuss



A Word

Encountered this word in something I was reading over weekend . . . 

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It's kind of like "proximity."  In fact the two words are related through the Latin root prope, which means near.  In English, "propinquity" conveys a stronger sense of closeness than "proximity."  (I think both words are fun to say, but "propinquity" is Even More Fun.)



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During the summer, I tend to go way off my "normal" schedule.  My calendar looks very different from it's usual and more structured form.  And my "to-do" lists?  Ha!  Depending on the week, they are extremely vague . . . or non-existent.  

Lots of people get themselves organized at the new year, but for me . . . September IS the new year.  So I'm getting myself organized and back on track now.  Here's an interesting article (from last December) about bullet journaling and to-do lists. Worth a read if you're looking to change the way you track your calendar and organize your list(s).


A Factoid

According to Earth Day Network:

About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are microplastics– tiny pieces of broken-down plastic smaller than your little fingernail.


Do Something About It

Although it seems overwhelming, we can all do something to help reduce single-use plastics.  Today's tip:  Make sure you always have reusable bags with you, and use them whenever you grocery shop, visit the farmer's market, or pick something up at the drugstore.  I keep an assortment of bags and baskets in my car (and have gotten into the habit of using them -- which is the trickiest part for most people I talk to), and I keep a small, foldable tote in my purse.



And that's my start to this last Monday in August!  

(Also, be sure to check out this month's Stash Giveaway and let me know if you're interested by Thursday at 5pm EST.)

Yarn . . . From My Stash to Yours

Between my crazy summer and some trips here and there, I've gotten completely off schedule with my stash giveaways.  Oh, well.  Isn't that what summer is all about?  Going with the flow and enjoying a more relaxed pace?

I think so!

Let's celebrate a late summer Friday by giving away some yarn, shall we?

First up . . . 


This is Bloomfield/Heritage HandPaint from Heritage Spinning and Weaving in the "Up North" color way.  It's a 50/50 Silk/Merino Wool mix; about 650 yards/5 oz; fingering weight.

I remember my daughter picking this skein out back when she was in late high school or early college . . . when she came to the Michigan Fiber Festival with me.  It's lovely yarn - and there are nice memories in the skein.  But.  Her tastes have changed, and this color is . . . well, Not Her Thing anymore.  So it's time for this yarn to make another knitter happy.


Next up . . . 


Two little skeins of Hacho by Mirasol Peru.  This Peruvian yarn is 100% merino wool; DK weight; 137 yards/50g per skein; shade #308.  This yarn has been in my stash for a very long time (I know because the label is from a yarn store here in Kalamazoo that went out of business shortly after I moved here . . . 17 years ago!)  I always liked the colors, but just never seemed inspired enough to make something with it.  It's time for this lovely yarn to inspire another knitter.


If you're interested in either yarn -- or both! --  just leave a comment by Thursday, August 29 at 5pm EST and let me know.  I'll draw names from a hat and notify the winner by email.  (Just FYI . . . the colors in the photographs are very true-to-life.)


Have a great weekend!  Enjoy these last days of August.

So. Why Weight?

Last week, I introduced you to Claudia . . . who made a compelling case for adding weight training to your fitness activities -- and especially as we age.  I thought I'd piggyback on that post today, with a story and some facts about strength training.


First, a story.

I've been a workout-freak for a very, very long time.  Cardio fitness activities have long been part of my repertoire - jumping, dancing, running, swimming, kicking.  And I did yoga and Pilates to build core strength, flexibility, and balance.  But I was completely uninterested in strength training or lifting weights.  Because . . . boring.  And I didn't want to get "big muscles." And it didn't actually feel like working out to me . . . because you don't really even sweat.  (And I like to sweat when I work out.)

So I ignored the whole strength thing.

And then . . . in December 2011 . . . my mom fell off a counter stool at my house and broke her ankle.  Badly.  She stayed with me at my house for her recovery, and I saw first hand what happens when you age . . . and didn't work on your strength training when you were younger!  My mom had to keep all weight off her injured foot -- which meant using a walker . . . and "hopping."  She couldn't do it!  She didn't have the upper body strength to use the walker to "hop."  (She couldn't hop either, but that's an issue for another day.)

It was a miserable time.  My mom was frustrated and depressed.  Her early physical therapy efforts were completely focused on building her arm muscles so she could use the walker.  It was hard work, and discouraging for her.  Especially because she was in pretty good shape for a woman in her late 70s!  She walked every day and went to the gym regularly, where she swam and took "Zumba Gold" classes.  

She did not, though, do any strength training.

Watching my mom struggle with her lack of strength had me re-assessing my own workout routine.  I decided I needed to work on my strength . . . now . . . before I became that "woman in her late 70s" who was in "pretty good shape."  (And that's when I contacted Claudia.  Because she was the only woman I knew at the time who WAS working on her strength in a serious way.)

Ever since my mom's broken ankle experience, my motivation has been . . . to NOT have that happen to me!

Now, why weight?  (A few facts about muscles and weight training.)

  • As we age, our muscles begin to melt away.  Muscles begin to deteriorate in our 30s.  When we hit 40, we lose an average of 8% of our muscle mass every decade -- and this continues to accelerate even faster after age 60.  Loss of muscle limits mobility, speeds the onset of some diseases, and is linked to premature death.
  • Loss of muscle also has an impact on your bones.  In fact, the factors that help us maintain muscle are the same factors that keep our bones strong and dense.  As we lose muscle with age, our bones become brittle -- leading to osteoporosis, arthritis, fractures, frailty.
  • Most of us just accept that the loss of muscle and bone density just happens as part of aging.  BUT studies show that you can slow and delay these processes by years - even decades - with muscle strengthening programs that work your entire body.  In fact, studies show that adding 2 resistance-training sessions to your workout each week can reverse age-related cellular damage that causes muscle loss and functional impairment.  (Here's a link to the study if you want to get technical.)

And the benefits?

  • Studies are showing that muscle mass is linked to longevity.  There's something called a "muscle index" (muscle mass divided by height squared), and this muscle index is turning out to be a more important predictor of premature mortality than obesity.
  • Resistance training (strength training) improves your cardiovascular health by increasing your blood flow.
  • Skeletal muscle helps regulate and dispose of blood sugar.
  • Muscle acts like a coat of armor against diabetes.  (Something to do with insulin and absorbing glucose, which is too complicated for me to go into here - because I don't understand it to begin with - but if you're interested, let me know and I can send you a link.)
  • Regular strength training - in combination with cardio exercise and eating a healthy diet - can help burn more fat than just cardio and a healthy diet alone.

So.  Strength training twice a week . . . can help you get stronger, live longer, feel better, and burn more fat.
What are you "weighting" for?

(Seriously.  I want to know.  What are your barriers to strength training?)


Monday Means

It's time to . . . 


On Mondays, I like to share some of the things I've been thinking about over the weekend.


A Quote

"A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the indiviuals and in the way they express their love."
--- Pearl S. Buck


On Thursday, Tom and I will celebrate our 38th anniversary.  Last week, as we were dealing with a car salesman, the fact of our anniversary this week came up in conversation.  The young salesman asked us for our "secret" to so many years together.  (He recently celebrated his 3rd anniversary.)  Tom answered . . . make each other laugh.  And I think that about sums it up!  

I also think the Pearl S. Buck quote (above) is a good "secret" to a long marriage.


To Read

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Last week, the New York Times Magazine devoted their entire issue to the 1619 Project.  This issue - which includes essays, timelines, poetry, and photography - commemorates the 400th anniversary of American slavery, retelling the story of America's origins by "placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center."

I started reading over the weekend, and highly, highly recommend it.  Here's the link.  It is very well-done -- and vital to understanding the role of slavery in America's history.  SO worth reading.  I hope you'll set aside some time this week to check it out.


A Word

In doing some reading about the 1619 Project over the weekend, I came across a sentence that read (something like this; not a direct quote): The bondage of slaves brought to America, their enforced servitude, and their struggle for equality became the leitmotif of our national narrative.

I knew exactly what "leitmotif" meant in the context of the sentence, but hadn't heard/seen the word used since college.  I decided to look it up . . . 


A perfect word, I'm thinking.


To Cook


Probably my favorite dinner of all time . . .  is a nice risotto with a basic salad.  But I've never really had success making risotto on my own.  Until last weekend, that is . . . when I made a batch of this most excellent Tomato Risotto from a David Tanis recipe.  So good!  And not a hassle to make at all.  I'm looking forward to playing around with the basic recipe so I can have risotto in my regular dinner rotation from now on!


Oscar Watch


Tom and I saw another movie on our "Oscar Watch List" over the weekend:  The Farewell.  

This is definitely a movie worth seeing.  It's subtle - a slow burn kind of movie.   Well-acted, funny, and very touching; really, it's just a delight.  Highly recommended by both Tom and I.

And that's it for this morning.  I hope your Monday is off to a great start!


The Thing About Summer

As far as summers go, I've had a Really Great Summer.  Lots of fun.  Plenty of adventure.  Definitely a change from the Ordinary of Life.


But.  Change is comng.

I was re-connecting with a friend earlier this week (both of us had been out of touch all summer) and I explained it this way:  It's like a went into a tunnel marked "Summer Fun" at the end of May . . . and I'm just now seeing the end of that tunnel.  

I let go of a lot of Ordinary Life things this summer.

(A lot.)

And now, with the end of that tunnel in clear view, it's time for me to Deal With That.


There are some commitments I just sort of . . .  let slide . . . while I was in the tunnel.  And now I'm coaxing those elements back into existence.  And that ain't easy.

There are other things I . . . put aside . . . during the summer.  And I've missed them.  It's time to bring them back into my life.

And then there are the things I . . . let go of.  Temporarily, I thought.  But now that I've been in the tunnel, I don't think I need to pick them up again.

There you have it.

Even though I don't have kids going back to school anymore, or need to get back to a teaching position, or any other seasonal or official "mark" for the end of the summer . . . I'm feeling the pull of Ordinary Life calling me back to routine and commitment and connections.

That's the thing about summer -- and especially a good summer.  It brings perspective.  A pause.  A bit of a re-set.

And I needed that.
(How about you?)

Sweet Days of Summer . . .

Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.

I've always loved this song.  
(And not just because it features prominently in one of my most delicious junior high memories either.)

Summer breeze
Makes me feel fine . . . 


Blowin' through the jasmine
in my mind . . .


As you may remember, I started knitting this shawl (which is free, by the way) with Vicki's lovely yarn on my trip to Alaska.  I finished it up shortly after we returned home, but only recently did a "photo shoot" on the back deck of our cabin up north.  

It will always remind me of my vacation and those . . .  
sweet days of summer.


(You can find the details on my Ravelry page.)