Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thanksgiving weekend

We drove to New Jersey for Thanksgiving to visit my sister-in-law and meet our new 4-month old niece.  This fall has been very hectic and over scheduled, so my little family of four really appreciated the time together.  We stopped in Pittsburgh on the way.  My son has been accepted at Pitt for fall 2015, and we wanted to take another peek at campus and the city:

I had been there once before, in the summer of 1997, and was surprised then by how pretty a city it is. It looked even lovelier with fresh snow coating everything.  I think my son would be happy living there, but he is still considering all his options.

Then on to New Jersey! My sister-in-law lives in Jersey City, right across the river from Manhattan.  We spent two days being crazy busy tourists.

from top of the Rockefeller Center

from top of the Rockefeller Center

from top of the Rockefeller Center

Empire State Building from top of the Rockefeller Center

new World Trade Center

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

Washington Square Park

Ellis Island

Registry Room at Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty as seen from Ellis Island

The 9/11 Memorial is in the footprint of the towers.  I spent a lot of time fighting tears while we were in that part of the city.  I don't personally know anyone who died in the attacks, but the world changed that day, and all the imagery from that day replayed vividly in my mind. The memorial is in the footprint of the towers.  The motion of the water, rushing down into the pool and then down again to a seemingly bottomless pit was gorgeous and also disturbing.  Down, down, down, everything down.  I felt overwhelmed.

We also visited Ellis Island.  My grandmother came through there in 1913, and even though she was only 4 years old, she remembered her arrival and talked about it from time to time. I wanted to be there to see it for myself.  Some of the displays corroborated with her stories, which fascinated me and made me feel close to her.

If you visit Ellis Island, you are also required to visit Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is.  Our ferry tickets gave us access to the pedestal, which would get us up to her feet, but the lines were so long that we didn't bother.  We did ask about tickets to the crown, and those you need to reserve 2 months in advance!

I also insisted on visiting Purl Soho.  What kind of crafty blogger would I be if I didn't stop in? I bought two skeins of yarn in colors that reminded me of a New York City winter afternoon, and I will make myself something cozy to commemorate my trip there.

 All photos except the last 3 were taken by my husband with our little point-and-shoot.  I opted not to bring my DSLR on this trip because I knew the days would be long and on foot, and I didn't want to carry it around. I knew I'd be sad not to have it, and yes, indeed, my fingers itched to have it so many times!!  I thought I'd be okay with just the camera on my phone, but it's been taking rubbish photos lately (painfully obvious on the two I took inside Purl Soho).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Summer Splendor in October

Here is my most recent cross stitch finish.  The pattern is Summer Splendor by Little House Needleworks.  I love this one so much, with the hearts and the strawberries, the tree and the flowers, the Ohio Star quilt motif, and of course, the ABC XYZ.  I can't wait to get it framed.  I know exactly where I am going to hang it.

I've been obsessed lately with little works of art--paintings or samplers that are about 5 inches square or less, especially when they are found in unexpected places.  This piece finished at about 5x7, so it's a bit bigger than my ideal, but I can work with it.

Things have been weird lately.  I am such a follower of traditions and routines, but I haven't been following mine lately.  It's partly the ages of my kids--we've been heavy into high school sports with my daughter and college applications with my son, so it's all new territory--but it's also partly the changes in life that aging brings.  We're also having some work done on our house, including a bathroom redo, so there are constantly people in my house, and it makes it hard for me to do my thing.

I have such a backlog of cross stitch and knitting projects!  What else is new, right? I'm thinking ahead to Christmas, although now that it's the end of October, it's not really thinking ahead so much as get on it already!  My sister wants one of those subversive cross stitch samplers, you know, the ones with foul language framed in a delicate floral border? (Don't click that link if foul language offends you. Please.  I'm begging you.)  I've got one in mind for her, but I'll admit, it's going to feel weird to cross stitch it, and I'm honestly worried about taking it in for framing.  Eeek.

I haven't been very active here or over on Flickr. Flickr, how I miss the old you.  I added the Flickr app to my phone but deleted it right away when I realized that every. single. picture I took was uploaded to Flickr--privately, but still, NO WAY.

I am very active on Instagram, though!  It's so easy to use that it's made me lazy for everything else. The people I follow on Instagram seem to want to show life's little pleasures, and I come away from it feeling happy and inspired (unlike most other social media, which has the tendency to make me feel irritated or unhappy.  I'm looking at you, Facebook.).

I'm not linking my IG to my blog, but if you are on IG and want to follow me, leave me a comment or email me with your user name and I'll be happy to find you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Skillet Cookie


That sums up summer.

The kids are back in school and are both in high school now, a senior and a freshman.  They were in elementary school when I started blogging.  Life does march along, doesn't it?  (See WHOOOOSH! above.)

Our summer was similar to years past, but differences are creeping in as the children age.  I'll talk more about that in a future post or two.

For now, I am happy to have discovered skillet chocolate chip cookies.  I saw one in my Instagram feed and had to make one.  I tried Martha Stewart's recipe--easy and delicious!  I did have to bake it for 5 minutes longer than the maximum time suggested; your oven may vary.  I most often make scrambled eggs in the cast iron skillet, so my children wondered if the cookie would taste like eggs.  It didn't, but now we are hoping that our next batch of eggs will taste like cookies!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June is busting out all over

I may have titled another June post with this same title a few years ago, but I'm too lazy to go check (clicking the mouse is just too much work for me these days).  If I did, my apologies for repeating myself, but it captures my sentiments so well.  I am so happy it's JUNE!  I LOVE JUNE!  

Flowers are bursting everywhere, we have strawberries in our hanging basket, my garden is sprouting, and I see green everywhere I look, punctuated with gorgeous colors.  I revel in it.  I think I have post-winter stress disorder, because I still can't believe I can run outside in my bare feet and feel sun on my skin and smell grass warming in the heat.  Ahhh.

School is winding down.  When the kids were in elementary school, the end of the school year was a busy crazy time, but now they just have exams and then it's done. My daughter graduated from middle school last week and is on a trip with her entire class this week.  My son is taking his exams and battling a flu at the same time.  His nose is all sore and red, and he can't stop coughing.  Not the best conditions to take your finals in, but next week he can rest.  He is finishing his junior year, which means he is almost a senior, and like every parent everywhere I cannot believe how quickly the time goes.

My house is a complete disaster and we are expecting waves of company beginning very soon, but I can't seem to get myself to clean up anything or sort through the never-ending piles of things that must be sorted. We are supposed to have our sad little bathroom spruced up, but the contractor we hired (who has done several other jobs for us in the past) seems uninterested.  Then I got an idea that we needed to have some built-in shelves and cabinets in our family room, which made the contractor more interested in working for us because the job was bigger, and we were moving along nicely planning things, until my husband threw us all into disarray when he said he wants our fireplace completely torn out.  The fireplace was going to anchor the built-ins; removing it would make built-ins no longer built-ins and turn them into something that will look like a big huge piece of over-sized furniture crouched in the corner, so now we are at a standstill and I wonder if we'd be better off leaving everything completely alone.  I think I need to stay off Houzz and stop having "inspirations."  The bathroom really does need work, though, and it's beyond our DIY ability/interest.


I am knitting another little sweater for niece-on-the-way.  This one is 12 month size, and seeing as she's not even born yet, there is no big rush.  I seem to have crafting ADD.  I keep being distracted by shiny new patterns (cross stitch, knitting, crochet) and am very good at starting projects, but not so good at completing anything!  I really feel the pull of too many distractions and I end up getting nothing done.

Oh, well, have another peony picture!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Baby Sweater

We will have a new niece in August!  This time it is my husband's youngest sister who is having a baby, her first.  I have a couple of projects in mind for her, but this sweater is the first thing I've made.  It's newborn size, so I had to get it done before baby's debut.

The pattern is One Baby Sweater, available here on Ravelry.  The pattern is called One because, as the designer explains, "one skein, one needle, one button, one size, one day to make."  Um, yeah, it took me more than a day, but I'm slow.

It's really tiny!  I put my hand in the photo below for perspective. Hopefully my sister-in-law won't have a ginormous 10 lb baby (like I did, ahem).  Even if baby can only wear it once, maybe she'll use it on her dolls or a teddy bear some day.

I used yarn leftover from this project.

I have one more blossom photo to share, taken a few days ago right as the tornado sirens started wailing.

Apple blossoms, pink when they are buds, white after they bloom. I love that moment when they are pink!

Monday, May 12, 2014


Spring was kind of gray and chilly up until a few days ago when it got hot, and now suddenly everything is blooming.

I like the spring green of the birch leaves emerging in the photo immediately above, but I don't like the worm-like seed pods dropped all over my driveway.  Blech.

We went to the garden center yesterday to buy seedlings, and they had the most brilliant idea:  strawberry plants in a hanging basket!  We have strawberries in our garden at home, but the chipmunks get to them before we do.  One year we put netting over the strawberries to protect them from critters, but a chipmunk got tangled up in it and was half dead when we found it.  We felt so awful!

A hanging basket of strawberries would be chipmunk-proof.  However, the price gave us sticker shock:  $25.00!  That's a lot of money for a handful of strawberries.  A cell of strawberry seedlings cost just a few dollars, though, and we already had an empty hanging basket at home, so we made our own little hanging strawberry garden:

Chipmunk-proof for sure, but I'm thinking birds might find them.  If they do, I'll give up on homegrown strawberries once and for all.

Speaking of critters eating things, remember my complaining about the bunnies eating my shrubs over the winter?  The damage is extensive:

Usually these shrubs are bursting with white blooms by now, but this spring we have meager sticks with sparse blooms low to the ground.  I am hoping it will be just one bad year of sad-looking shrubs.  Fingers crossed for a full recovery by next spring!

Lest you think our spring is looking idyllic, we had tornado warnings this afternoon right when school was letting out.  My daughter was home before the sirens wailed, but the warning went into effect 2 minutes before the high school released, so my son was stuck at school for an extra 90 minutes.  At least he could text me, so I knew he was okay.

More storms forecast for tomorrow.  Hoping it's not a repeat of today!

I should have another post soon with a knitting finish to share.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stitching, all sorts

My stitching lately has not followed any theme.  I've been attracted to a variety of designs.

This pattern, a quotation from Pride and Prejudice, is from The Sampler Girl on Etsy.  I plan to get this framed and hang it near my book shelves.

I recently watched the movie Austenland.  I read the first two books in the series and don't plan to read any more, because I find the whole premise so silly, but I didn't hate the books enough to avoid the movie.  Austenland is a vacation estate in England where women spend two weeks dressed in Regency costume, living the Regency life.  Actors play the Darcy/Wickham/Bingley characters to woo the women visitors.  Much as I love reading books set in the regency period, I would find such a set up uncomfortable in the extreme.  I can't imagine enjoying actors trying to woo me!  Ick.  In the movie version of Austenland, Jane, our American heroine, goes to Austenland, and during her two weeks makes some revelations about herself and realizes she's been trying to live in a fantasy world.  In the airport on the way home, she stands up on her suitcase and shouts out "Do you hear me, England?  I am OVER IT!"  That scene cracked me up.  It does seem like England gets romanticized by those of us who love PBS and BBC and Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and we have to remember that the England of those stories simply does not exist in real life.

This next little stitch, seasonally appropriate (yay!), is a free pattern from Snowflower Diaries.  She has many adorable patterns available for free on her blog, each one sweeter than the next.
 I used threads I had in my stash instead of the recommended ones: Weeks Dye Works in teal frost, kudzu, sweetheart rose, and chestnut, and Gentle Art Sampler Threads in raspberry parfait.

I finished this off into a little pillow with rickrack in the seam, and it turned out awful!!  The rickrack slipped, so it's uneven all the way around (almost disappearing in some places), but it would ruin the whole thing to pick it apart and refinish, so I'm going to call it "charmingly handmade" and try not to fret.  I do so envy people who have good finishing skills!  My lack of ability to finish is why I frame almost all of my cross stitch.

And finally, for my daughter's birthday, Sherlock and Watson:

 Pattern from the amazing Weelittlestitches.  I have noticed some copycat designers on Etsy, but I refuse to buy from anyone but the original.

My daughter is such a Sherlock, Dr. Who, and Harry Potter geek.  She has her own fantasy version of England in her mind, I think.  A year from now she will be going overseas with her school orchestra.  The destination is not determined yet, but it will be either Dublin, London, or Rome.  She is voting for London because she is the most familiar with it culturally.  Pop culturally, of course!  She knows nothing about Dublin, and not much more about Rome.  I do hope they go to London, because the awesomeness of Rome or Dublin would be completely lost on her at this age, whereas London would be a thrill a minute for her.

And, in the hopes that she does go to London, my current cross stitch project is this. It's going to take FOREVER to stitch!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Bunny

My mom made this ceramic Easter Bunny in 1971.  It always bothered her that the egg cracked in the kiln, but I think the crack gives the egg some style!

I mentioned this bunny in this post last November, but didn't have a photo of it yet.  Now I do.

I've been annoyed for a very long time over how tiny my photos are in blogger.  I noticed that other blogger blogs don't seem to have this same issue, so I finally decided to play around with my template, and I may have had some success.  Hopefully this new layout will be visible on your screen. Let me know if the photo is cut off on the sides.  If everything seems to be working, I may retrofit some photos on old posts.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Things are finally thawing here and the snow is actually gone!  My children were on spring break last week, and after a brutal winter with too many days spent hiding from the weather, we took advantage of the improving conditions to get out and do a few things.  My son wanted to do a college visit at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so off we went.

What a gorgeous campus!  Madison is on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona.  The Memorial Student Union sits right on the shores of Lake Mendota.  

 One disadvantage of these college visits is that now I want to go to school all over again.  What would I major in this time?  What would I do differently?  I don't think any teenager can fully grasp what an exciting time of their lives this is, and how fleeting it is.

Madison is also the capital of Wisconsin, and the state capitol building is within walking distance of campus.

After a day in Madison, we headed to Milwaukee, which we'd never visited before.  We found the Bronze Fonz!
 And enjoyed the sites along the Riverwalk:
 We stopped at an old-fashioned burger joint for lunch and I was amused by the line of cow statues in the parking lot.  Wisconsin really embraces its agricultural side!
 We found my beloved Lake Michigan.  Very odd to be on the "wrong" side of it!
 More scenes from downtown Milwaukee and the water front.

I hope to be back on the blog soon with some finished stitched pieces to show, as soon as I can get some good photographs of them.