Friday RoundUp

Friday RoundUp: Quick Edition

I'm flying out the door in a few minutes -- to a conference.  A gardening conference!  I can hardly wait to fill my brain with new information from Michigan State University on . . . integrated pest management, weather and plants, identifying woody ornamentals, and the latest on invasives here in Michigan! 

In the meantime, we can't open our front door for a while. . .

April 29 10 001 

A Mama Robin has decided to make my wreath. . . her new home!  Look what's inside. . .

April 29 10 002

In blooming news this week, we have trillium!

April 29 10 007 


April 29 10 014 

And my neighbor's lilac!

April 29 10 010 

The next best thing to having a lilac bush of your own. . . is having your neighbor's lilac spill over your fence!  You get the beauty and the scent --- but you don't feel right about cutting a bouquet to take inside. . .

I planted peas this morning (better late than never is my motto!).

Container veggies 002 

My yard is not at all cut out for a traditional vegetable garden, so I'm being creative in planning a container garden for edibles.  First in . . . peas!


Yesterday, Jenny and I went on some errands.  I take her in the car with me whenever I have quick errands to run.  She loves to ride in the car (LOVES) -- and I needed to go to some of her favorite spots. 

First up. . . the drive-up window at the bank. 

Jenny on errands apr 29 10 001

When Jenny was a little puppy, she discovered that the bank was The Place to Be --- because the drive-up tube comes back with dog treats for good puppies!  Now, Jenny sits in the front seat rather patiently -- but never taking her eyes off the place where the tube comes back. 

And then. . . when the Tube o' Treats arrives. . .

Jenny on errands apr 29 10 002

Oh, Happy Day!

Then, we went to Petco to pick up some food.

Jenny on errands apr 29 10 004 

This is a fun place, because Jenny can shop with me.  She usually comes home with a rawhide chew (or two) that she picks out herself!  (The friendly check-out people give out treats at the counter, too).  It was an exciting day for Jenny.


Have a great weekend!  It's a great time to play in the dirt. . .

Simple pleasures

Friday Roundup: Blooming Edition

Every day, there seems to be something new blooming in my garden.

Brunnera and hellebores. . .

Blooms april 22 002

crabapple. . .

Blooms april 22 008

fothergilla. . .

Blooms april 22 014

Bradford pear. . .

Blooms april 22 025 

euphorbia. . .

Blooms april 22 033 

tulip. . .

Blooms april 22 035 

Lovely time of year!


Purchase of the Week #1:

My best gardening pal, Sandie, and I took a road-trip to one of our favorite West Michigan nurseries today.  I couldn't resist this planter!

Tea cup planter 001 

I'm not sure what I'll plant in here, yet, but I'm thinking. . . maybe an assortment of tea-making herbs!


Purchase of the Week #2:

Look what I found at Eddie Bauer this week:

EB Vest 007 

I love this vest!  It's 55%linen/45% cotton; it looks great dressed up or down - with long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves.  It has a tie belt -- and even looks good tied in front.

EB Vest 005 

I know I'll wear it a lot.  Hmmmmmm.  Maybe I should go back and pick up the green one, too. . .


In the Guilty-Pleasures category. . . I enjoyed watching the finale of Project Runway last night.  I was excited that the Nice Guy won!  (He's been my favorite all along. . .)



Trillium watch:

Getting close to bloom-time.

Blooms april 22 011 


Have a terrific weekend!  Continue to celebrate Earth Day. . .


Friday Round Up: Tech Edition

Earlier this week, Norma blogged about her laptop mishap.  Seems she had several things to load into her car, and forgot that her laptop was still . . . well, not packed.  She inadvertently drove over her computer, as it lay in the driveway - waiting to be loaded into the car.  It could happen to anyone. 

I wish it could happen to me.

Computer 001 

In fact, what I would like to do - Very Much - is to take my computer and throw it in the driveway.  No.  That is not strong enough.  I would like to hurl my computer with all of my strength into the pavement of my driveway.  (There.  Better.)  And then, I'd like to drive over it -- back and forth.  Many Times.  And I would laugh while doing it.  Maniacally.

Yes.  I'm having computer problems.  They've been . . . festering. . . for quite some time.  But now, I'm at that point where Something is Seriously Wrong.  The computer is old now -- probably 4 years -- so it is time to replace it.  Past time, actually.  But just the thought of setting up a new system is enough to make me queasy.  (iTunes alone makes me shudder in fear. . .)

I'm getting signals, though, that the end is near.   I'm taking drastic action.  I've already backed up my entire hard drive (wow -does THAT take a lot of time!), and this weekend I'll have Tom and Brian sync their iPods -- in case we're out of the music business for a while. 

And I've started to shop for a new computer.

I'm liking this one.  Any suggestions?  (Please don't suggest a Mac.  I know.  I know.  But at this stage, I'm just thinking it will be easier for me if I stick with the tried-and-true PC.)  I'm ready to make the switch to a laptop, but I'd actually prefer a desktop model with a big screen -- especially if it could double as an HDTV with DVR! (What I'd really like is such a desktop AND a small laptop. . .)

So.  If I disappear for a few days, send up a smoke signal.  It will mean that my computer died before I could replace it.  Either that. . . or I ran over it out in the driveway.


This comic appeared in our paper the other day.

Zits comic 

This is SO my life!  I haven't seen anything else that captures Life With an 18-Year-Old Son quite so well as this particular comic.


Last Friday I showed you a picture of what I was hoping was trillium, appearing in my garden.  Well.  Here's an update:

Trillium apr 16 001 

Definitely trillium!


Looking for a quick way to do some good? 

Stamp out hunger 

The US Postal Service is holding their annual Stamp Out Hunger canned food drive to benefit local food banks on Saturday, May 8.  All you need to do is set out a bag of healthy canned goods for letter carriers to pick up with your mail.  Click here for more information.


And, finally, some mind candy for Friday. 

Spring poem 

Enjoy the weekend!

Round this Week Up. Please.

This has been a busy, scrambled, emotional week.  Busy. . . well, that's self-explanatory.  Scrambled. . . adjusting to the time change (which gets me every time!) and having Erin home.  Emotional. . . well, in addition to yesterday's post, we've been riding the relationship roller coaster this week.  We cover the spectrum.  We have one kid singing "Breaking Up is Hard to do" while the other is humming "Your Love is Lifting Me Higher."  It's been quite something.  I'm ready to round this week up and move on to the weekend.


First up. . . check this out! 

March 19 013 

Nothing brings a smile quite like a blooming crocus!


Next . . . my Purchase of the Week!

Liberty 001 

I knew that the Liberty of London for Target line was debuting last Sunday, but I didn't have time to head over to Target to check it out right away.  I figured it would be long picked over by now, but there was actually quite a selection of items throughout the store when I was there earlier today.

Liberty 002 

Erin didn't quite share my enthusiasm, but she humored me as I picked through every Liberty for Target display I found.  (I was very excited.)


Knitting has been . . . slow this week.  Not much accomplished.  My sweater looks pretty much like it did last week.  Maybe a few inches longer.  I'll probably finish up over the weekend.

Changes 006 

Since I don't have any substantial knitting content this week, check out this video clip (originally shared by Diana).  Wish I could knit that fast. . .


And, because it's just been That Kind of Week, I'll end with a card I especially like.


Have a fabulous weekend!


After my workout yesterday, when I got back to my car in the parking lot of the gym, I noticed a trail of what appeared to be anti-freeze near my car door.  My first thought -- that can't be from MY car, can it?   Closer inspection showed a fresh puddle under my car, though.  Uh-oh.  A discussion with my dad (any car issues in our family are first triaged through my dad!) suggested that the likely culprit was a hose.  Or a water pump. 

So today, my trusty Subaru is visiting my trusty mechanic.  And me?  I'm stranded.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I do have Anna with me. . . of course.

So, what am I doing?  Stranded here at home?

I'm preparing Erin's room for her spring break visit next week.

Stranded 004 

I hadn't actually cleaned up her room since she left after the holidays (I subscribe to the "why bother" school of housekeeping theory.  As in "why bother" . . . since no one is using the room right now anyway.)  But today I straightened up and changed the sheets, etc.  I hate to go into her room these days.  It's not that it's "sad" for me.  It's just that she has changed so much since she went away to college three years ago --- and her room. . . hasn't.  It's full of The Things She Left Behind.  Rubbermaid bins full of stuff she doesn't want to get rid of. . . but doesn't want, either.  Old trophies.  High school memorabilia.  Posters and photos from "another time."  Teen-age detritus.  Hideous wall painting (that, trust me, looked "so cool" when she was 14!).  SpongeBob.  It's best if I just . . . close the door.  But her room will come back to life for a few days next week --- and then she'll breeze out again. . . probably leaving more Stuff She Doesn't Want Anymore in her wake!

And I'm cleaning out and organizing my sewing/knitting room.

Stranded 007 

All I have to say is this:  Do Not Allow Me to Buy Any More Yarn.  I have yarn enough to knit for years.  (I was going to say "for the rest of my life" --- but I have new appreciation for that phrase now, and I don't use it very often.  I hope I do have time to knit every inch of yarn in my stash -- and that I actually run out at some point when I'm still around to purchase more.)  My entire approach to knitting from now on will be this:  if I want to knit something and I do not have the appropriate yarn in the required amount already sitting in my closet/plastic bin/wicker basket. . . I will find something else to knit.  I will NOT buy any more yarn.  I'm sort of disgusted with myself, but this will pass (once I close the closet doors and move on).

And I'm doing some knitting.  (Just to clarify -- the yarn for this WAS already in my closet.)

Stranded 005 

I'm going on a little vacation (somewhere warm!) later on this month, and I decided I might like a summer sweater for my trip.  This is Green Gable from Rachel Bishop (who used to Zephyr Knits, but is now Knit LuLu).  It's bright and sunny, and seems a bit out of place at this time of year.  But that's what Spring Break is all about, isn't it?  (I'm really hoping that neckline straightens out with some blocking, because it's not making me happy right now.)

I'm getting a lot of things done today.  Every once in a while, it's good to be stranded!  


Purchase of the week!

I stopped in at Michael's earlier this week (before all the anti-freeze dripped out of my car) for something -- and I found THESE at the check-out counter:

Stranded 002 

CHEATERS!  For $2.99 a pair!!!!  They had lots of bright colors, sparkly bits, geometric designs -- and a lot of animal prints (giraffe, tiger, leopards and zebra) to choose from.  (I don't tend to go for the animal prints myself -- but if you do -- it was a regular SAFARI!)  Anyway, thought I'd pass the info along.  Cheaters.  Michael's.  $2.99.  Who knew?


News Flash!

I was at a meeting earlier today when I heard this:  Today, for the first time in recorded history, there is snow on the ground in each of the 50 states


Love (1,000)

After going back and forth several times, I finally made the decision to actually sign up for the RavelympicsTeam Michigan.  I'll be participating in the Sweaterboarding event. . . and I'll be making a zipped vest for Tom.  Here's my little "training swatch."

Thunder road 004

I've been wanting to make this vest for Tom for quite a while.  He's very enthused about it -- cooperating most heartily through the measurement phase, and the yarn selection phase, and even the swatching phase (although he was mostly losing interest by then). 

The most fun part was choosing the yarn.  Tom is color blind.  Like, really color blind.  (I could have a lot of fun with this . . . but I'm a Kind and Loving Wife. . . so I am Helpful when it comes to color-matching.)  I gathered up appropriate stash yarns in "manly" colors and presented them to Tom -- under a really good light, of course.  We considered a nice olive green (which, to Tom, appeared. . . brown) and a heathered forest green (which, to Tom, appeared. . . brown) and a lovely greyish-rust color (which, to Tom, appeared. . . brown) and a warm cocoa brown (which, to Tom, appeared. . . brown).  In the end, we went with. . . brown (as if that mattered).

I look forward to casting on tonight - during the opening ceremonies.  It's going to be nice to make something for Tom.  He is always appreciative of my efforts when it comes to knitting --- and very supportive of my little habit.  (He also likes warm vests!)

{Note to Rachel:  I was sorely tempted to join you for the Ropes event.  If the moss stitch on this vest gets to be a little too tedious - which is a distinct possibility -- I will join you for a few "laps" on the Ropes!}

{Note to Lynn:  I was also sorely tempted to join you in making the Every Way Wrap.  I'm going to be watching your progress carefully -- because that is next on my knitting agenda (I think. . .)!}


Hard Head Hat

Brian's hockey team has a little locker room award the coaches give after every game.  It's the Hard Hat, and it goes to the player that has made the biggest effort/difference in the game.  Wednesday's winner of the Hard Hat. . .

Hard hat feb 9 10 001 

Great game, Bud!  (And that game winning goal was pretty dang awesome!)



Jenny and I go for a walk every evening.  During the summer our routes vary, but during the winter - when the roads are icy and snowy - we tend to follow the same path day after day.  Jenny knows our path Really Well.  She knows where the fenced dogs live; she knows where the loose dogs live; she knows where the loud-dogs-barking-in-the-houses live.  Not much surprises her during our winter walks.

Until yesterday.  We were walking along in one of the no-dogs segments of our route, when she suddenly freaked.  Her hair stood up on her shoulders and she growled and started walking sort of sideways.  She was beside herself.  It took me a minute to figure out what she saw.  It was this:

The snowman 001 

A tiny little snowman (with racing flags????) in someone's yard!  This snowman is about 2 feet tall!  What a goofy dog. . .


Birds of a Feather

Don't forget -- this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count!  It's fun and easy to participate.

Birds and squirrels 021 


Fermentation Continues

So far, so good on the sourdough starter.  After nearly 48 hours, I have no trace of any blue, pink, or green liquid in my starter.  Just a very yeasty-smelling mixture with the consistency of pancake batter.  Sourdough. . . here we come!

Sourdough starter 003 


Happy Valentine's Day

Heart bouquet 

Have a great weekend -- with plenty of Olympics, knitting, and chocolate!


This and That

I'd like to take this opportunity to officially welcome February!

Love birds 

Sure, it's still winter.  And cold.  And bleak.  But.  February is short.  I like hearts.  And chocolate.  And the Olympics will be entertaining.  And it's not January!


My backyard is really ugly right now.  It hasn't snowed much lately, so the snow that is on the ground is smashed down and icy.  I can see lots of dog poop and "yellow snow"; bits of bent over stems and mulch piles; dead flora.  It's just. . . not very inspiring at the moment, and I don't spend much time out there right now.  But yesterday, I found this little surprise:

Little patio icicles feb 4 10 001

These are tiny little icicles on the underside of my patio table.  They must have formed when snow was melting off the roof, and dripping down onto the table.

Little patio icicles feb 4 10 005 

It's fun to discover little treats in the winter!

Little patio icicles feb 4 10 008 


About this time in the season, I start to get the itch to garden again.  Once I put my garden "to bed" in the late fall, I tend not to give it much thought for several months.  Until about now.  Once those garden catalogs start arriving in the mail, I start turning my thoughts to growing things.  In the meantime, this has to suffice:

Blooms in winter 001 

Gotta love those winter blooms!


Did any of you knitters read the Editor's Letter in the latest issue of Vogue Knitting (Winter 2009) and just think. . . huh?  (It had to do with the decision by Vogue Knitting to only provide "up-sizing" on designs they deem appropriate for wear by larger women.)  You might like to check out this response to Vogue's letter by Diana at Otterwise.

I'm often really . . .stymied . . . by the editorial decisions at the print knitting magazines.  I mean, their readers are knitters, right?  Knitters who might want to knit the patterns in their magazines?  Knitters who might want to SEE the collar?  Or the back of the garment?  Or a close-up of the stitch pattern?  I am frequently frustrated by having to guess what the whole front of a sweater might look like. . . or, even more often, what the sweater might look like when not layered over 7 separate shirts with 2 belts and a couple of bags slung over the top of it.  I mean, really?  What are they thinking?

Thank goodness for Knitty -and the Twist Collective - featuring clear photographs from different views, and Ravelry -- with self-submitted photos showing designs knit from a variety of yarns and on a variety of body types and sizes.


I'm sure most of you have already seen this video -- as it's been making the rounds on the knit-blog circuit.  But I'm including it here -- just in case you haven't.  Priceless!


Next week. . . I'll have some knitting to report.  For now, you can take a guess about my latest project.

Loops 002

Have a wonderful weekend.  I don't know about you, but I'm a little excited about Ice Cream for Breakfast Day -- which is (apparently) celebrated on the first Saturday of February every year.  That's tomorrow.  So eat up!  As for me, I'll be doing double-duty on Saturday, running between Science Olympiad in the morning. . . and an away hockey game in the afternoon!  (I'll bet I can fit some ice cream in there somewhere!) 

Ice cream

It's Friday! Round'em Up!

Ahhh.  Friday at last. 

And the last Friday in January, at that!  Doesn't January just seem to . . . creep along?  So dark.  So cold.  So . . . long.  But it's almost February.  And all I can say is. . .

Candy 001 

Somebody - STOP ME!


If you (or your kids) are Facebook users, you really ought to take a look at this article from the NY Times.   There are 3 very simple (and very quick) steps you can take to adjust your Facebook settings to protect your privacy.  (It took me less than 3 minutes to follow the directions.)


I will miss Ping on Project Runway. . . but I think Amy was robbed last night!


And, as far as Mind Candy goes this week, well, this one is for my niece.  Hang in there, Jes!

Life comes back 


Have a wonderful weekend!

Another Friday RoundUp

I had fun with my Friday RoundUp last week, so I'm doing it again. . .

On the Needles

Not much knitting news this week.  I'm plugging away on my Psychic Heart Mittens.  One is done.  One is not.  Blocking is sorely needed.

Random stuff 012210 002 

I really don't like the yellow.  It looks like it will play so nicely with the other colors. . . just sitting there in the skein.  Once it gets out in the open, though.  Yikes!  So bright!  It screams at the other colors!  I also discovered that I'm not really liking the "Latvian" shape of the the top of the mitten (which you can't see in this photo) -- but it comes to a point.  I much prefer a rounded shape on my mittens.  These mittens will be. . . fine. . . when they're finished.  They need a good blocking, and they do look better on my hand than just laying there.  All in all, it's been good to get back into color work -- and I've learned some important color lessons.

Because these mittens are futzy (although the pattern is easy to memorize), I have a simple project going for tv-watching and phone-talking. 

Random stuff 012210 006 

Yet another Noro-stripe-scarf (without the Noro).  Apparently, I will never tire of watching the colors change and blend together.  

I also took some time to sit back with a cup of tea and some new knitting magazines yesterday.  Knitting magazines seem to be totally hit or miss with me.  Either I hate every design, or I like a bunch of them.  I don't know why that is. . . but I rarely just like one design!  Yesterday, I was completely charmed by these---

Random stuff 012210 003

The top sweater is in knitsimple (Winter 09/10), and the bottom one is in Verena Knitting (Winter 2010).  This one, though, (also from Verena) is the one that's really calling to me ---

Random stuff 012210 004 

The collar, though???  What is it doing?  I really can't tell from the photo or the schematic in the directions.  I would need to see the collar before ever committing to making this!


In the Ears

Here's what I'm listening to right now.

Random stuff 012210 015 

I love Louise Erdrich's work.  I'm not sure how I missed reading this one when it first came out, but I did.  I'm listening now, though.  I'm listening while I do my household chores. . . while I walk the dog. . .  while I knit. . .while Brian tries to talk to me.  How did I manage before my favorite-of-all-combinations -- iPod and Audible -- came to be?


My Favorite Things

When I was a little girl, I loved The Sound of Music.  I knew every song by heart.  Although it wasn't my favorite song from the movie, I always liked the concept behind "My Favorite Things."  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. . . bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. . . brown paper packages tied up with string. . .  What I always liked about the song was that the "favorite things" were such minor, little things.  I think, as an 8-year-old, I was totally taken with the notion that things didn't need to be "fancy" or "big" to be "favorite."  I've always found that comforting.

And, I'm always discovering my own "favorite things."  Simple little things that make me smile.  Things like . . .my new teapot!

Stump pot 001 

It's just the most perfect little teapot!  It's bright and cheerful, AND it brews two cups of tea -- with a little infuser insert (so it's really simple to use loose leaf tea).

Stump pot 003 

Definitely one of my new "favorite things!"


Make it Work!

I used to be a big Project Runway fan.  It was a perfect show for me --- I like fashion; I like to sew.  I was always impressed by the things the designers could produce from odd and limited materials over such a short, pressure-filled time period.  I thought it was completely fun.  Until last season, that is, which was a total snooze-fest.

Well.  So glad I decided to give it one more try and watch the new season.  Last night, the designers had to make their models "look good in a potato sack!"  They went from this. . .


To this. . .


So far, WAY more entertaining!


  And, Some Mind Candy

Ice cream

Have a great weekend -- full of ice cream or any other treats you may desire!


Friday RoundUp, January-Style

It's been a busy week. . . so I'm going to end it with a Friday RoundUp.

First up -- An Exciting Contest!

Minions 022

When I first started this blog, back at the end of May, it was part of my "healing plan."  My way of stepping away from The Edge.  I needed to give myself a voice; to seem "real" after the whole cancer thing.  I don't know what I really expected from it.  But, after 6 months of blogging, I can say that I've gotten a lot more out of this than I ever imagined.  I didn't think anyone would read it.  But you do.  I didn't think anyone would comment.  But you do.  I had no idea that I would meet such cool people through my blog.  But I do. And here's the most amazing thing.  As of right now, I've had 922 comments on my blog (plus one about do-it-yourself awnings -- but I deleted that one).  Amazing. 

So, here's the contest.  The person that makes the 1,000th comment on my blog will win a prize of their choosing!  Either. . . a somewhat-custom handmade (by me) Minion of their very own. . . or a cool skein of sock yarn from my stash.

So get commenting!  (You have no idea how much your comments mean to me!)


Next -- The Celebrating Continues!  

Brian and I thank you for your cheers of support about his hockey triumph.  He is still walking around on Cloud Nine.  I would hate to be their next opponent. . .  Anyway, I just want to show you how BIG this win was.  Here's the front page of last night's sports section in the Kalamazoo Gazette:

Friday roundup 003 

So cool!  It doesn't get much better than that!


Next - Those Damn Mittens

I trashed my first Psychic Heart mitten earlier this week.  The colors were just not working for me.  Not even a little.  (Tom thought they were fine, but he is color blind.)  Here they are, before their demise.

More mittens 002 

After thinking about them for a couple of days, I decided to dive back into the stash and see if I could come up with a better color combination.  I'm trying again. . . but the jury is still out.

More mittens 004 

What do you think?  (I'm actually knitting these "inside-out" on the needles - to manage the floats on the outside where I can see them.  I sort of like the inside better than the outside.  Maybe the pattern is just not doing it for me?)

More mittens 006 

Opinions welcome.  I'm going to finish this one. . . but EZ's mitered mittens are beginning to call.  Loudly.


Next -- January Thaw

It's been warming up a bit over the last few days.  Not WARM-warm, but over 32 degrees (Fahrenheit).  So we're in the January Thaw.  The "dirty-snow" part of winter.  Yuck.  My driveway pile:

Friday roundup 004 

My car:

Friday roundup 006 

I'd rather have new snow.  It's prettier.


Next -- The Knitter's Equivalent of the "Bat Signal" Has Been Activated


Haiti needs our support.  See the Yarn Harlot's blog (as if you haven't already) for details of how you can help.


And, Finally -- Some Mind Candy

Important decisions 

Yes, it's been That Kind of Week!  Enjoy the weekend!