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November 2019

October 2019

It's All In the Strategy

For most of my adult, Halloween-candy-giving life, I have struggled with . . . not eating the treats before the trick-or-treaters arrived.  Over the years, I tried all kinds of things to prevent myself from snacking on Snickers bars, but none of these strategies were terribly effective.  For example, I tried storing the candy in the freezer . . . only to discover that frozen Snickers bars are nearly as tasty as room-termperature Snickers bars.  I tried buying my candy at the last moment . . . only to discover that the pent-up desire for a snack-size Snickers bars is even stronger when I wait to the last moment.

Anyway.

After years and years of struggling, I have hit upon a Candy Strategy that Works!  
(A 3-part strategy, of course.)

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1 -- Buy ONLY as much candy as you will need to give out.  Don't buy extras-just-in-case.  And if you do run out?  Big win!  Turn out your lights and call it quits.

2 -- Have a plan for "donating" your leftover candy (your office candy jar?  an upcoming curling tournament?  your art class? so many possibilities. . . ).  Think about who might actually WANT it (or even just tolerate having it) and bag it up for them as soon as your trick-or-treaters call it a night - and then go put it in your car so you can deliver it the next day.  The key here is to get it out of your house!

The best strategy of all, though?

3 -- Step away from the Snickers bars!  Only buy candy you don't like and won't eat!  As you can see in the photo of my treat bowl - all ready for this evening - there is no chocolate.  None.  Only (sugar-bomb) Skittles, Nerds (what even ARE those?), (mouth-destroying) Sweet Tarts and Sour Patch Kids, (tasteless) Twizzlers, and the like.  NOT my candy!  Biggest WIN ever!

How about you?  What's your best strategy for avoiding Halloween candy?  (Or . . . is it your guilty pleasure???)

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Happy Halloween!  I hope your day is full of treats!

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(Tom and I dressed as "robbers" for a Halloween party last weekend.)


Start Your Engines

It's a frosty Monday morning here.  Time to . . . 

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A Quote

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons."
      --- Jim Bishop

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A Word

I heard this word while I was listening to NPR over the weekend.  Needed to look it up . . . just to check . . . but, mostly, I like saying it out loud.

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To Cook

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As we get further into fall, we also get further from fresh vegetables.  Although I used to use them all the time, I've really gotten away from resorting to frozen vegetables over the last few years.  But . . . after reading this article from the Washington Post, I'm going to rethink that!  It turns out that frozen vegetables are often better than what you can find in the fresh produce section during the off-season months -- and especially if you prepare them and use them in optimal ways.  (Plus . . . convenience.)

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To Read

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In honor of Halloween, check out this list of the 10 creepiest author photos ever captured!  (And then let me know which is your favorite.)

A Reading Reminder:  Please join our Read With Us book discussion beginning next Tuesday, November 5.  We'll be talking about the first third of the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  (Can't wait to see what you think.)

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A Gardening PSA

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If you live in the northern part of the US (or southern Canada), it's not too late to plant your spring bulbs.  In fact, I'd call this prime time for bulb-planting!  You still have time for them to get settled in the ground before the hard freeze arrives, and it's late enough that the squirrels (probably) won't dig them up.  But, hurry!  The time is now.

(Even though I think it's a real drag to plant bulbs, I never regret it come spring.)

(And the tulips in this picture?  They were in bloom when my sister and I visited Mackinac Island last June.)

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That's it for this cold and crisp Monday morning!  Have a great week.

 


Circling Way Back

Most of you reading this blog know that I have two kids.  And now two kids-in-law.  But . . . for a 10-month period in 2008-2009, I actually had a third kid!  (Four . . . if you count Tom.)

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(And we often count Tom.)

For the 2008-2009 school year, we were the host family for Dominik, a young man from the Czech Republic.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us, and Dominik was a great fit for our family.  Erin was away at college in Ohio, so she floated in and out back then, but Brian (who was a junior in high school that year) and Dominik got along famously.  Dominik was eager to experience life in an American high school with an American family, and we were eager to share it with him.  

Dominik played hockey on the high school hockey team with Brian.  (There he is, number 21.)

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He and Brian had a great time together (sometimes maybe . . . a little too great. . . ).  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joking around that year -- a real sense of adventure for all of us.

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We did a bit of traveling -- to show Dominik as much of America as we could.  We went to Chicago and Washington DC and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

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There was a skiing adventure in Colorado for spring break.

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In the end, Dominik had a full American high school experience here:  football games and pep rallies, the hockey team, exam week, prom, graduation.  All of it.  He even dated an American girl while he was here!

A girl he stayed connected with . . . after he returned home to the Czech Republic.  And all through college.  And then through graduate school.  And even after he moved to Prague to begin his career.

And you know what's happening now?  Dominik . . . and that same girl he met and dated here in high school . . . are getting married!  (Talk about circling back!)  We're so excited!

Brian and Tom and I met Dominik last Saturday for dinner, which was wonderful.  (Here they are together last Saturday at Bells . . . all grown up and everything!)

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And today . . . is the wedding!  
(I feel sort of like . . . cupid.)
(But mostly . .I can't wait to meet Dominik's real mom.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 


Fall Gardening

It's really easy to love a garden in the spring and summer - when everything is bursting with bloom.  Most folks don't find fall gardens quite so charming, though.  

But I do!  I love my garden all the time . . . and maybe especially in the fall.

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Sure.  

Everything is way past its prime in my fall garden.  Most die-hard gardeners I know rush to cut back dying perennials in the fall, ready to be done with garden-tending for another season.  And . . . well . . . I am, too.  But also . . . not.

Fall in my garden is really a wonderful time, and I relish these days in my garden.

Why?  (Besides knowing I need to get my fill of it before snow keeps me out of it?)  Well . . . let me count the ways:

1 - I love the muted colors and crispy textures of my fall garden.

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In fact, I find some of my favorite color combinations in my fall garden -- and in fall landscapes, generally.  I often go on to use these fall garden color inspirations when it comes to choosing colors for a knitting project . . . or putting together pieces in my closet to wear.

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2 - Late season seedheads are so interesting!

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The blooms are long gone, sure.  But I love seeing the puffs and tufts of the seed heads in the fall.  Besides . . . I get even more blooms later (albeit maybe not where I want them) when the seeds scatter in my garden beds.  But I've discovered that "volunteer plants" often bring an unplanned unity to my garden.  Plus . . . free plants!  (And I can always pull them if I'm not happy about where they land.)

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3 - The pressure is off!

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No time to weed?  Lose track of your deadheading?  Well . . . in the fall, no one cares.  No one expects your garden to look good in the fall.  Shoot -- it's just a delight to still find something blooming.  And finches love the seedheads.  And there's always springtime for cleaning up!  Besides . . . if you leave some stuff out there in the garden, it becomes "winter interest" and will light up the garden when it catches the snow as it falls.

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I really do love a garden in fall.  How about you???

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Be sure to head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday fun.

 


The Things We Do for Love

(Click here for the soundtrack to today's post.)
(As if you're not already humming the song. . . )

So.  
Tom is a curler.  
And curlers tend to wear kind of . . . odd . . . things when they're out on the curling ice.  

Like. . . I've watched a team who wears hand-knitted skunk hats as part of their team uniform.  And Tom told me about a unicorn team he played against once (bike helmets with affixed unicorn horns).  And, of course, there are the pants.  (Yep.  That's a link to the video of the Norwegian curling team putting on their curling pants . . . without using their hands.)  (Well worth a watch.)  (Just sayin.)

So when I saw a pattern for a knit curling hat on Ravelry, I (correctly) figured Tom would want one.  And that he would wear it while curling.

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The things we do for love . . . 

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Ravelry details here.

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PS . . . Tom's team curls in plain old black pants.  And I know they put them on without any fancy dance moves.  They don't wear special team-themed hats or helmets either.  But they will be dressing as the "Brews Brothers" in an upcoming tournament -- the "Beer Spiel".  (Maybe I'll get a photo for you. . . )


Good Monday Morning!

Good morning!  
I hope you enjoyed the best kind of weekend.  
Now, it's Monday -- and time, once again, to . . . 

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A Quote

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning."
---J.B. Priestly

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A Word

I was reading a book over the weekend and came across this word . . . 

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I'd heard the word before, but needed to look it up.  In the book I was reading, the word was used to describe a very young boy -- and it seems the  perfect way to describe a child's view of the world.  (But I know a few adults who seem to be living with a theory of solipsism . . . and that isn't quite so charming now, is it?)

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Something to See

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Perhaps you're a long-time reader of the New York Times' Modern Love essays . . . or maybe you listen to the podcast already (both are a treat!) . . . but now you can watch 6 episodes of Modern Love come to life on Amazon Prime.  Tom and I watched the first two episodes over the weekend, and can't wait to watch the rest.  They're really well done -- touching, charming . . . and make you feel good about . . . well . . . modern love.  Check it out!

Here's a link to the trailer on YouTube.
(I wanted to embed the trailer here . . . but that launched such a formatting nightmare that you just get the link.

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Something to Make

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Okay, Knitters . . . have you seen the Sisters United Socks from designer Caitlin Hunter?  These very charming boot socks were designed by Caitlin to "harness the warm and loving spirit of the knitting community."  Caitlin is working on this project with her friend Candice, of The Farmer's Daughter Fibers.  Candice has created an initiative called Sisters United to support Native American women.

If you're on Ravelry, you can read all about the pattern and the project here.  If you're not on Ravelry - or if you want even more information - you can read about Sisters United here.

The pattern will go on sale tomorrow: Tuesday, October 22 on the Sisters United website.  Consider supporting the Sisters United project by purchasing the pattern . . . or knitting a pair to wear . . . or make a pair to include in a healing bundle.

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
Here's to a great start to your week.


Spinning in Circles With Options

For the past several months, I've been driven by deadlines.  We're not talking Big Scary Deadlines here . . . just an ongoing steam of things I needed to do by a certain day.  Setting up my daily task list was simple and clear -- because there were these deadlines to meet!  

Now that doesn't mean I always got everything done that I intended to do, of course (because I didn't).  But I did have a structure and an overarching plan of attack to keep me moving.  

Because . . . deadlines.

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Now, at least for a few days, I've reached a (temporary) lull in the action.  No immediate deadlines.  Nothing pressing or urgent.  Just a few open days . . . with (pretty much) nothing scheduled.  This doesn't mean I don't have anything to do.  (Because HA!)  It just means . . . I'm not feeling immediately pressured to do A Thing because of a deadline.  

Which is . . . kind of a weird feeling.

What to do first?
Where to begin?
So. Many. Options.
(As in . . . spinning in circles with options.)

So.  That's my weekend.  How about yours?

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And, if you're not going to Rhinebeck this weekend, consider celebrating Rhinebeck at home!  Check out Bridget's plan for going to Rhinebeck by staying home.  (One thing on my for-sure to do list today . . . is buying some Rhinebeck-ish donuts!!!)

 

 

 


C'mon Along

. . . as I drive around this morning!

First stop -- the gym.  It's an early morning workout with my trainer.

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Next stop -- the library.  Three books are on hold for me!

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And finally . . . the KIA.  My drawing class is about to begin.

1C0D293D-8B64-4E1C-877E-015C1CF763F5Where have you been today?

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Hop on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts.


A Retreat of Our Own

Almost two years ago, Vicki and I took a trip together . . . to Alabama for an Alabama Chanin stitching workshop. Somewhere along the way, we stopped on the side of the road to take photos of the cotton growing in the fields.

Last Thursday, we were together again, driving in northern Michigan . . . and, once more, we stopped on the side of the road for photos.  This time, though, it was pumpkins growing in the fields that caught our eye.

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Vicki and I first hatched our plan . . . to create our own Alabama Chanin "retreat" where we could stitch and cut and paint and plan together . . . about a year ago.  I knew it would be lots of fun and inspirational to spend time with Vicki again.  I had no idea how productive we'd be, though!  Creating Alabama Chanin garments is complicated.  There are so many options and so many choices:  pattern, fabric, color, stencil design, paint colors, embellishments.  It takes a while to sort through and figure out exactly what you want to DO!  It's much more fun - and much more productive - to discuss and talk it all out with someone else who is as geeked about the process as you are! 

And then . . . even when you have your ideas all figured out and clear in your imagination . . . you still have to do all the prep work.  Which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and messy!

I can't tell you how much better it is to do this with a partner-in-crime!  (Especially when she brings her air compressor and an airbrush.  And teaches you how to use it.)

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So now . . . in addition to my memories of a fun week with Vicki . . .  I have four (!) Alabama Chanin projects planned, (mostly) cut, stenciled, and ready to go.  (And - bonus - I have new airbrushing skills AND an air compressor of my own now.)

A great week - and a perfect retreat - all the way around!