Learn Something New

A couple months ago, the boss was talking about a knitting technique and asked if I knew how to do it. Of course I said yes and agreed to teach a class, and then I started thinking about it. Wasn’t that the hat I made for the MR that didn’t really turn out like the pattern because I just didn’t get it? Did I really know what I was talking about?

That was the beginning of the period of brioche—not the bread, the knitting stitch. Next stop was the library where I found some books to help. Me and the MR were headed to sunny Cabo San Lucas with our extended family for a fishing trip. While the guys were out on the boat, I would have plenty of time to figure this out. After restarting the pattern five times, I realized that this was not a sit by the pool, chit-chat with your family, and sip a margarita kind of knitting project. This one needed my full attention—at least until I had the technique down.

Now, I only read part of the book before starting on my pattern, since I’m impatient that way. Nancy Marchant—brioche knitting guru—encourages knitters to drop down a needle size or two to improve the fabric. I did not. Perhaps that’s why my cowl turned into a tunic.

It’s still rather lovely, but a bit intimidating as a sample for my class. So I wrote up a cowl pattern and started making very accessible mug cozies featuring Marchant’s stitch patterns. Guess what everyone received for Christmas?

I think it’s fun to challenge yourself by learning something new, and Baby Girl wound up with a cozy cowl  in lovely alpaca as part of the bargain.

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This cowl was inspired by Nancy Marchant’s book Knitting Fresh Brioche using the S-Twist Pattern. After my fourth or fifth mug cozy, I decided the book was a must for my growing knit library. There are truly amazing, creative people out there willing to share their ideas with us; I’m so glad to be able to support them in this little way.

What have you been working lately? Learning anything new?

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Zihuatanejo

Before Christmas, we took the girls for a long weekend in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. We’ve been to the western coast many times and decided to venture out and go somewhere new.

Zihuatanejo is further south, has less tourists, is a little quieter, and has a little more heat. We loved it.

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The MR booked a suite at the Viceroy on Playa la Ropa. The concierge gave us a tour of the property before escorting us to our room. After a day of travel the hammock looked so inviting.

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We were greeted with flower petals on the beds and fruity teas. It’s so nice to be pampered.

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The key came in a little amulet that you could wear around your neck. How many swim suits have pockets, right? Our bed was draped in fabric, and each day we had a new design in flower petals at its foot.

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The staff delivered a tray of coffee, tea, and pastries every morning. I chose to enjoy mine seated on the lounge on our patio. A full breakfast at the onsite restaurants was also included.

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We spent most of our time under the palapas enjoying frequent swims in the bath water-warm ocean. The MR booked a snorkeling cruise with Captain Moses. So one morning, we hiked out into the waves, climbed onto his boat, and spent the morning snorkeling in beautifully clear water near Manzanillo Bay (I think). We did not go to the popular Ixtapa Island snorkeling destination. It was great to be on a small boat, just the four of us, the captain and his nephew, and we encountered just one other boat at our snorkel spot.

The water was clear, the fish were plentiful, and we had a great time. On the way back, we stopped at Playa las Gatas to see “Jesus in the Water”. The King of Kings statue is a bronze statue the local people had made as a symbol of their faith and commitment. After featuring in masses around Mexico, the statue was submerged off the protected beach in 2007.

The MR ran to town one of the first days on his morning jog. He was surprised to find a market area filled with pinatas. Our concierge explained that these were part of the Los Posadas pre-Christmas celebration. People travel house to house searching for a place to stay just as Mary and Joseph did long ago (or as he put it Maria y José).

On one of our lazy beach days, me and Sweet Miss went in search of playing cards. The hotel boutique was closed, so we stopped by the front desk to see if they knew whether any were available. They didn’t have a set, but the concierge offered to stop in town and pick some up for us. The next day, down on the beach, he brought me a set of Uno cards. Now that’s service.

We did enjoy a few trips to town as a family. We tried out some of the local restaurants, we wandered through the market, and we made our way down to the boardwalk along the beach.

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Have I mentioned this was a truly lovely place? I haven’t even shown you the sunsets.

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Our last night, we enjoyed a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings for $40 a person. The exchange rate right now is amazing. 

(The MR pointed out I was wrong after this post went out. Not a first—I asked what I’d gotten wrong. Dinner was $25 per person for that tasty meal. Did I mention the exchange rate?)

Me and the MR are trying to plan another trip down there this spring. Captain Moses told us the fishing all depends on the moon. That gorgeous moon we saw in Cabo back in November wasn’t doing our fishermen any favors.

I would stay at the Viceroy in Zihuatanejo again in a heartbeat.

Where’s your favorite warm weather destination?

 

 

 

 

Duvall Bag Ladies

I’m super excited to share this post with you today. We have bag ladies in Duvall.

Now you may be saying, “Kim homelessness is nothing to get excited about. Let’s have some compassion.” And I’d totally agree with you, because it’s not those kind of bag ladies. Sandy, a local woman and recent retiree, saw stories of women recycling plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. I saw those stories too and said wow, isn’t that nice. But the difference between Sandy and me is that she decided to mobilize local efforts and take on this problem as well. She is a woman of action.

She talked to the local grocery stores to gather bags from their recycle bins. She contacted the local yarn shop—Quintessential Knits—and has enlisted willing volunteers to crochet mats. At the store, she has a basket of prepared bag yarn ready to be crocheted up. And she has friends who work with the homeless at local camps and in the soup kitchens who are able to distribute the finished sleeping mats.

So last Tuesday, I came home from knit group with a bag of plastic yarn and a mission. The first set of mats will be handed out this week.

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I went through my drawer of bags and whipped up some yarn of my own. The mats are light-weight and compact. And the store bags add color and interest.

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While I’m opposed to plastic bags in general; let’s face it; they’re everywhere. It takes about 600 bags to make one mat. Maybe these mats will keep at least a few from blowing around parking lots and polluting our oceans. And perhaps they’ll give homeless people a bit of comfort knowing someone cared enough to make one just for them.

You can find out more information about the Duvall Bag Ladies by contacting Sandy at DuvallBagLadies @gmail.com

When Sweet Miss was in high school, she was part of the Random Acts of Kindness club, and they had t-shirts saying “Be the Difference You Want to See in the World.” That’s a wonderful saying to take to heart.

How are you making a difference in the world?

By the way, Baby Girl did make it back to school yesterday. The snow and ice that hit Oregon over the weekend left many travellers stranded. When Portland and Eugene airports closed, one of BG’s friends wound up at SeaTac, so she even had company on the road. Hoping for safe travels for all the kids going back to school.

Highlights & Predictions

Another year has come and gone marking our fifth up here on the hill. Our house is no longer falling apart, and it’s truly become our home.

In 2016, Sweet Miss graduated from college and is living and working down in Oregon. We are quite proud of her.

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The MR took an extended leave of absence from his job, and we’ve been making the most of it traveling the globe. We’ve visited Sedona, Hawaii, Cancun, Chelan, Italy, Cabo, and Zihuatanejo.

zihuatanejo

And you can’t forget half a dozen trips to Oregon moving the girls in and out, graduation, Dad’s Weekend, Mom’s Weekend, and visiting just because. At least the girls live less than an hour apart, so we get to see them both during our frequent visits.

While we’re not gadding about, the MR did manage to paint the upstairs, remodel the guest bathroom, and keep the grounds shipshape.guest-bath-collage

Our big purchase for the year was a dining room table to replace the 20-year-old one that was showing its age. It was wonderful to be able to have the family gathered around it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

thanksgiving-table

I’m sure we’ll make many memories seated for years to come.

I had dreams of redoing the sewing room, sprucing up the hang out room, and replacing the stained rugs in all the bedrooms this last year. Well, it hasn’t really happened, but we have talked about shopping for carpet, so it is in the offing.

We’ve also talked about adding paths down to the meadow and the tennis court. The MR hired a brush cutter to remove an acre of blackberries. We’re definitely making some progress.

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Each year, we seem to add a few trees to the orchard and expand the kitchen garden. I’m hoping to harvest more fruit than the deer and raccoons this season.

Baby Girls has plans to study abroad during the summer, so me and the MR may truly experience the empty nest. We enjoy the joy and excitement that young people bring to our home, but we also like our quiet evenings just the two of us.

As far as the blog goes, I’m going to try to be more consistent—I know I’ve said that before. Perhaps I’ll drop down to twice a week or bring back Wordless Wednesdays. Don’t worry; I won’t totally disappear without warning.

Hoping your new year is filled with wonder. Who knows what will happen just around the corner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stormy Days

We’ve all read that classic scary tale that starts off: It was a dark and stormy night.  I feel like that perfectly captures our days lately, but rather than night, our story would begin: It was a dark and stormy day…

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The gloomy skies are a total contrast to the joy of Christmas with the girls and Sweet Miss’ Fella home. We had food, and gifts, and excitement. Our whole local family was here on Christmas Day. We played games and gathered around our new table. Laughter filled the air.

 

Maybe we just have to make our own sunshine. 

Christmas in Green

The last few years—OK maybe forever—I’ve been decorating the house for Christmas in red and white and lots of sparkle. But sometimes you just want to shake things up. I could have gone with a pink-and-blue 50’s theme tree or aqua and seashells for that beachy look, but that’s just not me.

Sweet Miss and Baby Girl were home over Thanksgiving and I had them start putting all those ribbon trees I’d made on the china hutch, and it just kind of worked. Before you know it, we had santas, and snowmen, and angels scattered through our own little forest.

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I like how all the little knick-knacks look like they belong nestled amongst the trees rather than random figurines on a buffet.

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With this woodsy feel in mind, I thought the sparkle and glitz of past mantels would look odd. That left me with boxes of decorations on the floor and a lot of indecision. But I saw this sweet little birdy on the Target website and fell in love.

little-bird

He was supposed to come in a set of three, but they were sold out. Luckily, I found this little guy when I stopped in at the store with the MR. Later on a more leisurely shopping trip, I went to HomeGoods, and picked up some twine-covered bells and random decorative balls. Target had lovely wood snowflake lights and more nature-inspired balls to help fill out the scene. The snowflake lights glow and look quite sweet at night.

mantel

I used leftover ribbon from the trees to swag across the mantel along with some burlap ribbon I picked up at Wal-mart. I simply ran the ribbon through small rings and hung them with 3M hooks.

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Bows could be used to cover the hooks and rings, but I didn’t want it to get too fussy.

The MR put his foot down when we went to the tree farm, so our tree is a little shorter (around 9-feet) this year, but it still feels like we’ve brought a bit of the forest inside.

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I’ve been decorating bit-by-bit this Christmas. The nativity set my folks made when they were newlyweds is still waiting for a spot, and the girls santa collages haven’t found wall space. But I’m giving myself a pass. I don’t have to be perfect and have my house all together all the time to enjoy this wonderful season.

Me and Baby Girl went shopping this week, and we made tasty cookies/candy with a recipe from MeeMee. If everything’s doesn’t happen, it’ll still be a great Christmas with my family. And there’s always next year.

How’s your decorating coming along? What’s a favorite thing to do this time of year?