Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'll beat this pattern if it is the last thing I do!

I am knitting a summer top. For me. That doesn't happen often.

The top is simple. Or so I thought.

I have knit much more complex patterns but this one is kicking me when I am down and not looking. I hate that! The pattern is from a knitting magazine published 7 years ago. I am not showing you the pattern yet. I don't want to hear from anyone who knit three of these tops over a long weekend.

I fell in love with this yarn, Sirdar's Baby Bamboo. It is made of 80% bamboo, 20% wool. It feels luscious. It is the most money I have spent on yarn for a summer top for myself. That adds to my determination to get this dang stupid lovely garment done.

This is the color I am using, Scooter Blue.

The problem is the way the directions are written. (Surely the problem can't be me!) For those who don't knit, I'll use a recipe analogy. A well written recipe would be written in this order:
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add vanilla
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time
  • Mix in dry ingredients
  • Pour batter into pans what have been greased and floured
  • Bake at 350* for 30 minutes
If the author of this pattern were to write the same recipe, it would read:
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Mix in dry ingredients
  • Pour into pans
  • Add vanilla to cream and sugar
  • Bake at 350*
  • Grease pans
  • Add eggs with dry ingredients
  • Flour greased pans
  • Do you want to know how long to bake this? Well I am not telling you! You should know how long to bake things by now? What are you, a novice? Novice knitter-bakers have no business buying magazines and looking all smart and savvy!
Last week I took out 114 rows out of the 124 I had knit. I resumed from row 10 while on our trip to South Carolina. Yesterday I took out 32 rows. When this top is done, I may wear it daily for a week or two, just to celebrate!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Travel advice, Knitty style

Before I begin, let me assure you that I love my husband and sons dearly. But they are men. Thank goodness I am a saint. Aren't I cute with my diamond ring halo?

My first piece of advice would be to leave on time. Sure we weren't catching a plane, but getting though rush hour traffic in Detroit with the least amount of hassle requires leaving a certain son's house by 6 AM. That certain son was so sound asleep, he didn't hear his cell phone ring. He didn't hear his house phone ring. He didn't hear his doorbell ring. He didn't hear his dad and brother walk into his room. Hubby Bill doesn't have this problem any longer, but turn the calendar back thirty four years and we see history really does repeat itself.

My next piece of advice seems obvious, but stay alert. We went through a spell of hurry up, slow down traffic when suddenly the slow down came to a dead stop. We shuddered a bit to a stop as did the two cars behind us. The next one after that may have had his or her attention diverted (cell phone? text message? eating? drinking? applying makeup? all things we saw more than once that morning) and two cars crashed together. Not more than 15 minutes later we saw a cloud of dust and debris as a semi swerved from the right lane all the way over to the left. A smaller box truck had blown a left front tire. He managed to get from the middle lane off the freeway onto the right shoulder driving on his rim. Kudos to both him and the semi driver for keeping their trucks under control. That could have been very bad.

If you are the sainted female of the trip and the owner of a GPS device, you may want to ask your husband, without a trace of sarcasm in your voice, if he would like you to change the voice of the GPS to a male voice so that it will be easier for him to follow directions. I'm not saying that most men don't take direction from females well, I'm just saying that Mandy, the GPS voice was right. Often. And a bit of further advice...the hard part will be keeping the sarcasm out of your own voice. Photobucket

After 11 hours in a car that is very full of bodies and stuff, getting out in the parking lot of your hotel will feel like heaven. Discovering that your suite is up a flight of stairs will feel a bit hellish. We stayed at a Residence Inn, in a suite called a penthouse. There are eight units per building, four to each side with two down and two up. The penthouses mean that they have two king size beds in them, one on the main level and one above in a loft. It was a very efficient use of space and quite comfortable for the four of us. With three manly men and one wimp saint, it only took two trips to get everything unloaded from the car.

My next bit of advice would be that you check the heat and air conditioning right away. Don't let things like being tired and hungry or a phone call that we should meet 15 other people for dinner in 10 minutes distract you. We came home from dinner and a visit at the bride's parents home and all fell into bed. The next morning was busy getting ready for the bridal luncheon (me) and pizza with the guys (for all the men of the bridal party and guests). I thought the room was warm before we left, but I attributed it to the shower and hurrying. I was the first one back in the room. Hmmm, the thermostat was set at 70* but it was 82* inside. I pushed every button on the box. Nothing happened. Someone from the front desk came up. Oops! Looks like our air conditioner was out of freon. The penthouse suite behind us was open. One saint and three grumps packed up everything and lugged it down a flight of stairs, around the building and up a flight of stairs, twice, into an identical room with a working air conditioner. The Residence Inn adjusted our bill for the inconvenience. I have no complaints with them.

I could include a recommendation that oldest sons should avoid eating certain foods before long car trips. Consumption of said foods did not require extra rest stops, but did require windows being rolled down completely. I could include this, but I wouldn't want to embarrass my son.
Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

My last words of wisdom would be to make sure you read the sign carefully when you pick a restaurant for dinner on the way home. There used to be a few restaurants in Michigan with a name that was one letter different from a name we saw when we got off of I-75 for a meal and to refuel. We pulled into what we thought would be a restaurant we recognized. Boy, were we wrong! Photobucket I don't want to risk hurting anyone's feelings by mentioning the restaurant's name or even the location. The place was clean, the waitress was friendly and the food was ok. As for the clientele....let's just say that bras and teeth were optional! Photobucket

The advertising executives at American Express would like you to remember not to leave home without it. I think the most important "it" you should always take with you is your sense of humor. A diamond ring halo is always handy too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The South Carolina Wedding

With Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive inside my head, I did indeed survive the trip to SC. Four related adults in close quarters for days is a bit of a trial. Back at home, we are all still speaking to each other which is a good sign. Delirium hit when we were within 30 minutes of home and all of us sang along to oldies radio. Badly. Off-key. Possibly a stress reducer?

The wedding was wonderful. I should have asked permission to post a few photos but I didn't think of it. I will share a few photos of details that made the wedding so lovely. Sue, the bride's mom, had welcome baskets for out of towners at our hotels. Unfortunately my guys don't understand the importance of taking pictures of everything BEFORE they tear into a package. Bride Katie had a beach theme, so mom used sand pails for the welcome baskets. Here is the pail this morning in my home.

It had white netting around it when we received it, and was tied with a blue bow. It contained bags of snacks, microwave popcorn, saltwater taffy, a cone of lemonade mix, a deck of cards, and notepaper. Sue also gave a cardboard drink carrier with four bottles of water.

Nineteen of us went to the Olive Garden for dinner that first night. The four of us looked windblown and like we had slept in our clothes after 11 hours in the car, possibly because the male drivers in my family have to have their window down and those who weren't driving each did take a siesta along the way. I need to find a hat before the next lengthy car trip, one that will keep my hair from whipping around and landing in my eyes and mouth. Maybe goggles would be a good idea, to protect my eyes from feeling gritty and dry from the wind. Maybe I just need a private jet and a cute pilot!!

Two sleeping beauties and me wearing a visor to corral my hair. It didn't work.

Friday was the bridal luncheon. Sue made special sundaes for each guest. In the bottom of the glass are bath crystals in a baggie. The whipped cream is a nylon bath scrubby, and the cherry is a heart shaped bath bead.

I should have taken a photo of the tables at the reception, but my camera was giving me fits by not cooperating with the lighting in the room. Each table had a wide, low bowl resting on a round mirror. Beach sand was inside the bowls with shells and coral and a round candle providing soft light. Hershey cookies & cream chocolates were scattered on the table (their wrapper is blue and silver, the bridal party colors) and each one had a small sticker on the bottom with the name of the bride and groom on it. Sue did all of that, plus printed the wedding programs.

Each guest at the wedding received a votive holder with a blue or white candle, and a package of white chocolate shells dusted with edible glitter. Yum!
My only contribution to the wedding effort was putting wedding ring stickers on 4 dozen bottles of bubbles.
A for the last of today's pictures, here is the wedding cake. No, Sue didn't make this, but I have no doubt she could have. No bridal couple on top, just a continuation of the beach theme with edible shells and coral. This photo doesn't do it justice.

I'll be back in a day or two with my own spin on travel advice. I was thrilled to attend the wedding, but am happy to be back home. Especially right now with the house all to myself. The quiet is wonderful!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are we there yet, dad? Are we there yet?

My intentions were good but life intervened. Isn't that always the way?

Hubby and our two adult sons and I are leaving early tomorrow morning for South Carolina. The daughter of very good friends is being married on Saturday.

The search for a dress to wear to the wedding took longer than I expected, but finally I was happy with dress and shoe choices. If you recall from this post , I am fickle and finicky about what clothes I pack, not to mention which books and crafts should go with me. I am happy that our sons are going with us, but four of us with all of my stuff our necessities is going to make for a full Trailblazer. The "boys" are 31 and 29. I can't remember the last time all of us went any distance in the same vehicle.

I had just bought water, cans of soft drinks and snacks two days ago when the bride called and invited us to the rehearsal dinner. How sweet of her! I thought this while mentally panicking and thinking of what I planned to pack that would be suitable for this. Whew! My dress slacks and new top should be ok.

But wait.....

Then she invited me to the bride's luncheon. How. Sweet. Of. Her.

No, really it was sweet, but dress panic set in. Most of what I was going to do yesterday was tabled while I went out in search of a dress that met these requirements:
  • Covered majority of very white flabby flesh
  • Was neither matronly or hoochie mama-ish
  • Would not require another pair of shoes, purse, etc
  • Did not cost an arm and a leg
Those of you who are a plus size or have shopped with someone who is knows that you cannot count on going out and finding something appropriate just like that. Fortunately I did find something and will be able to pack sometime this afternoon. I have a class tonight and won't be comfortable if I am not organized before I leave. Except for makeup products which will packed in the morning. And my curling iron. And my laptop. And books (I may finish the current one tonight). And crafts. And a million other things I will consider before dismissing them as foolish.

Does anyone think I will sleep tonight?

My intentions were to have written some terribly witty, memorable, thought provoking posts and set them up to post over the next five days. Instead I can only offer you this advice: Don't hold your breath waiting for them.

If I don't have a chance to post from SC, I hope to have wonderful tales when I return on Tuesday. We are actually returning on Monday, but I may not be in any shape to write. After so much togetherness in close quarters (we are also sharing a room while is SC), I predict one son will make a hasty trip to his girlfriend's house, one will go to his home and do a happy dance of solitude, hubby will check that the DVR did indeed record 862 programs and I will go upstairs to my bed with no TV and no radio and take up as much room in our bed for as long as possible. Ahhhhh. We love each other. Honest. Now leave me alone. Photobucket

For Monday, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day. God bless our veterans and active military!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A perfect Blue Monday post for Sally!

Ever see something so perfect for a person or an occasion that you get excited?

A friend shared this photo and I immediately thought BLUE MONDAY!!! I didn't say that to her, but only because I didn't have time to explain and she probably already has questions about half the things I say and do.

Sally, I dedicate this post to you and the blue jay in your logo. (Click on the logo for a link to Smiling Sally's blog and info on Blue Monday)

Smile and say Happy Blue Monday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crocodiles welcome

A very good friend of mine asked me if I would do her a favor. Sure I would.

And then I wondered what I had gotten myself into!

My friend is involved in the preschool Vacation Bible School at her church. Two years ago the theme was the wild west and she asked me if I could paint a horse's head on poster board. The idea was for the horse to appear to be looking over a half door of a stable. The bottom part of the door was a purchased decoration, part of a barnyard package. I did the horse's head with colored markers and it was a big hit.

This year's VBS program is called Crocodile Dock. My mission was to create a swampy looking mural with a fishing shack.


And to paint it on two cardboard display boards that were each 36" x 48" (think science fair display boards). The boards will hang in the preschool room so that they are 48" tall and 72" wide.

BIG uh-oh.

I don't work well large. I don't have a place to prop these display boards up to draw and paint on them. I put both leaves in the table, covered it to protect it from paint, and began.

I didn't like how things were going. I agonized over too many things to list here. Finally I had a talk with myself and fortunately, myself listened!

This is for preschoolers.
The fishing shack is supposed to look worn and a little shabby.
My friend will love anything I do (she has terrible taste! )
And if any 4 year old gets critical, they can meet me in the parking lot. I can still take on a 4 year old! I think.

Here are the boards propped on my hutch. I can't wait to get them to my friend's house. For her to store. For me to not have to look at any more.

The silver thing on the deck/dock/porch is a lantern. I used a silver sharpie but had to make the carrying handle black. I had already drawn the wires that form the cage of the lantern and the silver wouldn't cover the black. The ropes aren't silver but they seem to be glowing in the photo. Life's not perfect in the swamp.

And now my friends, it is getting late and I must say bye to all of you. Or maybe with this swamp thing going, I should just say Bayou.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Determined plants

All of you who garden, please forgive this post.

I am not a gardener. Oh, I like pretty flowers and all, but I neither enjoy the homework (what grows in this soil, lighting and how far apart) nor the physical labor (weeding? digging up bulbs? dividing root systems?). Over the years I have had some successes but never achieved what Ihad envisioned in my mind's eye.

Bill has not always cared for my choices but given his work schedule, he usually didn't say much. Last year his schedule changed and we agreed that he could (should) take over planting.


He has a greener thumb than I do. Often green with black dirt smeared in too.

Last fall he asked me if I wanted to salvage the creeping Phlox that he didn't really care for. I fought against saying yes and told him it was up to him. For a variety of reasons, the Phlox wasn't dug up last fall although he thought he may had killed it.


The Phlox rose to the challenge of not being admired and doubled, if not tripled in blooms this spring!

Look at their happy little faces saying "You can't ditch us! Look at how pretty we are!"

Their cousins at the other end of the flower bed aren't quite as full and lush, but where they lack in amount, they make up the difference in their own striped beauty. This variety is called Candy Tuft if I recall correctly.

In the front of our house we had two Bleeding Hearts that were trying to take over the world. An admirable goal, and lovely in the spring when they were in bloom, but not so lovely when summer sun and heat made them pale and scraggly. Bill dug them up and wasn't sure if he wanted to save them or not. He threw, literally threw, the plants into two questionable pots near some stacked wood, never expecting them to survive the winter. Not only did they survive, they thrived! You can't help but love a Bleeding Heart, can you?

One Bleeding Heart is larger than the other. Bill must have spoken more harshly to it, issuing a growth challenge. The white pots in these pictures have old, and I mean OLD wild flower seeds planted in them.
They will never grow said I.
No big deal said Bill.
Hello said the seedlings.

In my next life, I am going to like gardening and will be good at. I hope. If not, I hope I meet up with Bill again. Heck, I hope I meet up with Bill again regardless of whether we garden or not.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smile, You're on Candid Camera!

I have no words.....just a big old smirk and a chuckle!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Never too old to have fun!

Fran & Marlo Cowan (married 62 years) playing impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. He'll be 90 in February.

Rock on Cowans!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tea for you and your dolly, anyone?

Today is Blue Monday (visit Smiling Sally by clicking on the Blue Jay logo on the right to see what Blue Monday is all about and who else is participating) and for this week's Blue post, I am inviting everyone and their dolly to join me for tea.

I don't know how old I was when I received this tea set, but I remember playing with it as a little girl. I am now 56 (but don't tell anyone) and marvel that the set has survived this long. One plate has a chipped edge and the oval platter was dropped as a child and broke into three pieces. My Sweet William (aka my hubby) had me soak the platter in hot water to dissolve the yucky brown glue from decades ago and pieced the platter back together last night. I'm not showing a close up of the platter because he has more work to do on it, removing the excess glue tonight.

Here are photos of the service sitting on a napkin so that you can judge the size.

The service is china and was made in Japan.

Dress your doll or your favorite stuffed animal in their fancy duds and come join me for a cup of tea.

Happy Blue Monday everyone, and thanks for the visit.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New placemats

I rarely use a tablecloth even though I admire them in other people's homes. Placemats just seem to suit our home and life style better.

I love dishes, but storage of all that I would like to own would be impossible. A happy compromise is to have fewer place settings of some sets, and to buy Corelle dishes because they are so compact.

Here are my new reversible place mats and examples of two Corelle patterns. The plates (and luncheon plates and bowls not shown) were bought individually. The coffee mugs are not Corelle, but they coordinate nicely.

One yard of each print were enough for four placemats. An oval is a forgiving shape when you don't want to worry about neatly squared corners.

The table in these photos is in our family room and is used for card playing or jigsaw puzzles more often than for dining. It was such a gray, rainy day when I took these photos, I had to pick a spot with the most daylight available. Both dishes and mats brightened my day.