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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pulling off a Holiday Season Miracle

Husker and I have been carefully watching our weight this holiday season.  We both added a little during the Thanksgiving period, but succeeded in dropping the added weight.  We both dutifully recorded our carefully maintained sizes on our chart on Christmas morning.  Could we make it through Christmas day without gaining? 

This morning was the evidence.  We both weighed the exact same as we did yesterday morning!  In fact, Husker has been working on his weight much more diligently than I have.  That is a difficult thing to do for someone who loves to cook and eat.  We both want to look better for Jon and Sarah's wedding late in January. 

Speaking of cooking, Husker seems to have developed an especially good feel for making a great pot of soup.  No two pots are exactly the same.  What goes in the pot is dependant upon whatever is on hand.  At Thanksgiving, there was a lot of ham left. So Husker turned out two pots of distinctly different soups, one with navy beans and parsnips, and the other with split peas and carrots.  Both were so scrumptious!

Yesterday, there was also a lot of ham remaining.  So of course, we are about to experience another pot of soup that will include some ham.  Can't wait.

We had such a good time yesterday at my son's house for Christmas.  Lots of people, lots of good food, etc.  Children playing with their gifts, etc.  Here are a couple of the highlights that Husker managed to catch.  Laura Gale is the first great-grandchild, and she is a sweet girl, too. 

Something that I did recently -- in one of my feverish moments of cleaning and organizing -- was to clean out my jewelry box.  I put anything that I thought 8 yo Laura would enjoy for playing "dress-up" into a baggy and took it along.  It was not a Christmas present; it was a little lagniappe.  It went over better than the sweater that I made for her!  Note the two bracelets. 

However, the best thing about yesterday was not the success of maintaining our weight.  It was meeting Jesse James Otto (J.J.), Shilo's new baby boy.  The youngster arrived December 14, 2010, about a week early, and it was a good thing he was early -- he weighed 8 lbs., 1 ounce, and was 21" long.  He mostly slept through yesterday despite everyone taking turns holding him and trying to get him to open his eyes.  His most wakeful moments were when his grandma Dina gave him a bath.  After wrapping him in a towel, he was quite willing to open his eyes and frown at us.  He showed his disdain for the preceding events by pooping in the towel!  Aren't babies grand?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jones Family Christmas

The North Texas Joneses go their different ways for  Christmas, but we have our own get-together ahead of time.  Last night was the time, and Jon and Sarah's was the place.  We started a tradition of having a Chinese auction/white elephant type of gift exchange.  This usually results in some really interesting gifts (what is it?) to "stealing" someone else's gift until it is officially dead.  We eat too much, drink too much, and have a fun evening with family.  
Even the dogs get into the act. 

Then the official day of Christmas rolls around and everyone goes to their significant other's family home.  Adam and Caroline will go to her parents' home, Jon, Sarah, Cavaliers Jemma, and Kingston are going to her brother's home, we will go to my son's home, and Barbara, Jennie, and schnauzer Sydney,  have their own plans for the big day. 

Jon and Sarah will deliver Zach's Wallaby to him.  So it results that Zach will, indeed, get the promised sweater by Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zach's Wonderful Wallaby

During our Thanksgiving festivities, I met Master Zach Guinn, a charming 4-yo.  He was interested in my knitting.  He finally asked if I could make him a sweater -- and a hat -- and gloves.  I promised that I would try to have him a sweater -- and a hat -- and gloves -- by about Christmas.

After thinking about it, I realized that a Wonderful Wallaby would be just the thing.  The hood and kangaroo pocket would complete the requested items.  The Wallaby is about 4" from completion of the hood.  I am pleased with the project, and I hope that Zach will like it, too.  I am sending him an email today to show him a photo of the Wallaby to-date and let him know that the sweater will probably be there the week following Christmas. 

In addition, I am going to ask his Mommy to supply us with some photos of him with the Wallaby on.  That would make a very nice post.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Melt Down kind of day

The day has not started off well.  I went into the guest bath this morning to do some routine cleaning.  (Yeah, a guest is coming for lunch.)  This bathroom has a china pedestal sink, a blue-and-white-and-sage color scheme and is a nice place for visitors to see.  I got a shock as soon as I started to clean the sink.  It had a big star-pattern crack in it!  I could quickly figure out what had happened.  There is a glass shelf above the sink and it holds a heavy glass dish with soap.  It was apparent that the dish had been knocked off the shelf.  The dish did not break - just a minor chip, but it was heavy and obviously hit the sink in just the right way to shatter the corner of the porcelain sink. 

I do not use that sink often -- hey, I don't go into that bathroom except to clean it for visitors.  So who did this and did not have the guts to tell me?  Husker does not know either.  We cannot remember who was last here that would have been in the bathroom.  I do, however, know when I last used that sink.  On Thursday, November 18th, I used the sink to soak the sweater set that I made for a niece's newborn.  Funny, I cannot remember who has been in the house since then. 

Now let me ask you -- if you knew who the last person in the bathroom was -- would you confront that person?  This is going to be an expensive repair job.  I am upset and hurt that the person who did this has not told me. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Thanksgiving should be

Typically, Husker and I spend Thanksgiving with his family -- either here in Texas or in Nebraska.  Then on Christmas, we go to my son's house.

This year was the first holiday season for Jon and Sarah in their new house, so they wanted to host.  It turned into a really big event with 21 at a table stretching 24 ft. through the formal living and dining spaces.  Plus an infant and 3 dogs were present.  Jon and Sarah did an excellent job of setting up and coordinating the food.  Jon and Sarah were excellent hosts and made everyone feel welcome and comfortable.  Special thanks to others who helped make the day:  Barbara, Jon's mom; Adam and Caroline brought wine and other goodies (from their restaurant, Grace?);  Jennie brought in a ham; Husker baked 4 pies; and Sue brought in dishes, too.  LOTS of food.  Everything came together perfectly.

Husker's daughter, Andra, and family came from Omaha.  Sarah's parents and grandmothers came from Nocona, TX, and her brother's family came from Killeen, TX.  

Yes, I took my knitting along.  Sarah's nephew, Zach (age 4 yrs) was checking it out.  Charmer that he is, he convinced me to make him a sweater, too.  And a hat. And gloves.  And could I have them ready today . . . 

Today, I talked with my son and he was taking advantage of Black Friday by going to Home Depot while the rest of his family did the Mall shopping.  He has 4 daughters, 3 grandchildren plus one due shortly.  So, yes -- their Thanksgiving was also quite large.  That is how Thanksgiving should be.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Newborn Patterns

All Christmas gifts have been completed, plus a newborn gift for an expected newborn arrival on Thanksgiving Day.  Among the Christmas gifts is a newborn gift for a Christmas Eve newborn arrival.  Wow!

I just completed the Thanksgiving arrival's gift -- a girl's sweater, cap, and mitts set.  It is very girly with plenty of ruffles.  The cap features a swirl design in the crown decreases using SSK.  This little girl will be born in Omaha and will need plenty of sweaters and caps, etc., for the first few months of life.  The yarn is WonderSoft by Stylecraft, color Blossom, and machine washable. 

This follows on the heels of creating the newborn boy's sweater set for the Christmas arrival.  Making two newborn sets back-to-back allowed me to double-check the accuracy of the pattern.  After tweaking the instructions, and expanding it to include the particulars of making the pieces suitable for a little girl, I added a photo of each version.  You are welcome to use the pattern,  but kindly give me, Brenda Jones, design credit.  Contact me for a copy.

See the last posting for photos of the boy's sweater and cap.  

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dallas Cowboys

My son is a Dallas Cowboys football fan.  He is about to have a new grandson (due Christmas Eve) and I have completed a newborn sized sweater and cap that will honor my son's favorite team.  These were knitted with Berroco Comfort DK in white (color 2700) and navy (color 2763); and Mirasol's Lachiwa in silver (color 1403).  I used US sizes 3 and 5 needles.  The set is sized to go over the average newborn's head of 13-14".  As soon as I can get it written up, I will post a free copy of the pattern for both sweater and cap.  However, you are on your own for the logo.  If I gave that out, Jerry Jones' lawyers would probably call me! 

The neck, hem, cuffs and first navy band on the cap are all in 2x2 ribbing.  The cuffs are double width so that they can be folded over.  The cap has a roll edge.

I do not recommend working in the round when putting a design on a garment such as this logo.  Back-and-forth knitting would have made the star much easier to execute.  However, I am a beginner in knitting -- so I have learned something new.

This is my second sweater using Wendy Bernard's techniques.  Check out her book, Custom Knits, or read the teaching series on Spud and Chloe.   The teaching series is over several parts, but curator Susan B. Anderson, has put these together for you to easily copy and print for your own learning experience.

Upcoming next, a newborn girl's ruffled cap and sweater.  Similar to the boy's Dallas Cowboys sweater set, but with a ruffled edge here and there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bone Density

My mother spent her last 4 years bedridden due to severe osteoporosis.  She never exercised, lifted weights, or did anything that could be called preventive for her bones.  She walked some in her 70s, but that was all.  As a result, I was a runner for 24-25 years, switched then to walking, yoga, and swimming.  Scratch the swimming for bones, but I like doing it.  I have nordic walked for 5 years in our hilly neighborhood about 7-12 miles a week, went to Iyengar yoga classes twice a week for about 5 years, and swam laps 2-4 times a week for 5 years.  You would think someone who can walk that much, do handstands and headstands, etc., would be well prepared. 

Not so.  I received a call from my doctor yesterday with the results of my bone density test that was a part of my well woman exam.   The spine was okay, but the hips were getting into the not-so-optimal range.   He is prescribing Fosamax, and we will do the bone density test in another year.  He knows that I exercise a lot, but said it must be the genes.  What else can I do?  I am adding weight training.  Yesterday and today, and will also do this again 2 more days this week.  Now it is wait and see ....

KAL with Wendy and Susan, Part II

My finished product for the KAL is blocked and I am exceptionally happy with the results.  I chose the boat-neck because this is a Christmas present, and I do not know the neck size for the recipient, but do know other measurements.  The closest place to get the Spud and Chloe yarn is an hour drive away, and I did not know about the place until after I was nearly finished with this knit-along project, so I made this pullover with Cascade 220.  Now I am anxious to start another project using the Spud and Chloe sweater yarn.  The recipient is 6', slender, and the pullover was created to have a 6" peplum starting at the waist and the sleeves will end at the elbow.  As a result, it appears here that the peplum begins below the waist and the sleeves are 3/4 in length.  I am only 5'5"!  Thank you for the boat-neck, Wendy.  It worked out very nicely.  I used the 1" ribbing on the boat-neck, and made the torso semi-fitted. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

KAL with Wendy Bernard and Susan B. Anderson, Part I

I have been diligently following the KAL on Spud and Chloe during August and September 2010.  Inspired by Wendy Bernard's comments to Spud and Chloe as well as the instructions in her book, Custom Knits, I have finally gotten into the spirit and started my own design. 
The sweater is actually a Christmas gift for one of my granddaughters who is very tall (6'), but very slender -- in fact, not much bigger around than I am at 5'5".  I had her measurements, but alas, did not have the width of the back of her neck.  So I designed the sweater with a wide neckline (a la Wendy's boat-neck instructions on Spud and Chloe).  My granddaughter is slightly bigger than I am around, but mostly is just longer.  I made the sweater with 1" negative ease (based on her measurements) and used the measurement from the nape of her neck to the waist for the beginning of a ribbed peplum.  As a result, the sweater is 2 1/2 inches longer waisted than I am -- which means that the peplum should start right at the waist for my 6' sweetheart.   I will make the sleeves down to the beginning of the peplum, then put on a 1" ribbing.  That should make the sleeves reach the bend of her elbow, whereas the sleeves will cover my elbows.  I will post finished results later.   

I used Cascade 220 yarn and size 7 circular needles all the way, 16" and 24" lengths, and double points. 

I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome so far.  See for yourself ...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

State Fair of Texas and the Eli Young Band

Husker and I go to the State Fair of Texas almost every year, but this year was special.  The Eli Young Band was headlining on the main stage.  Last night, we picked up our backstage passes at the Will Call window, and walked to the stage area.  We flashed our passes at security and they let us into the backstage area of the open-air performance venue.  The Band's bus was parked parallel to the stage, and chairs and refreshments were setup for visitors.  This is always the time to enjoy the boys offstage, and especially our Jon.  Jon's fiancé, Sarah, was likewise in attendance as well as assorted friends and family of all the band members.  It becomes almost like a reunion.

At the appointed time, they were given the heads up to get ready to go on, and they swung into action with last minutes details, and took their positions in the wings.  The whole crowd moved from the bus to the stage, and we likewise found ourselves in the wings.   And on with the show!

The audience was enthusiastic and filled the venue to capacity.  Peeking out from the side stage, I could see that the onlookers stretched to the limits of the outdoor viewing area.  It was definitely packed!

It occurred to me that I should have brought the camera so I could show you what the interior of a tour bus is like.  Not glamorous.  Very tight.  It is a cross between a Pullman sleeping car with an RV type of layout at the front end (2 sofas, kitchen, dining, toilet), and a dressing room with shower at the rear.  There are enough sleeping berths for 10 people.  Although the boys fly to many of their venues, they also have times when the bus is their home-away-from-home.

For you ladies -- I will add an important note:  The boys (4 of them), driver, equipment manager, road manager, sound guy -- no women -- equals a messy bus.  In addition, the venue provides dinner for the boys, but it is usually fast food.  Nothing to get excited about.  Occasionally, they work a place that has a nice Green Room (thank you, WinStar Casino) with a dining area and a balanced meal.  Those places are not quite so common.  If you check the band's show schedule, you will see that they are all over the place.  A lot of travel, poor food -- they began to fatten up.  Fortunately, they realized what was happening and immediately took action.  They are running, watching their intake, and doing sensible things to stay in shape.  They look really good, and we are very proud of their common sense.  They agreed at the onset of their careers that there would be no drugs, no foolishness, and they have lived up to that pledge.  Another reason to be proud of their common sense.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ruffles and Little Red Riding Hood

September has been a packed month.  Not only did I cover for an ailing office administrator for 2 1/2 weeks, but I finished 3 projects.  I made two of the items for the church's bazaar that is coming up in November, but I made myself a delicious scarf, Just Enough Ruffles, designed by Laura Chau.

The church bazaar gets Stephanie Japel's Whirligig, and Erika Flory's Little Red Riding Hood, both for toddler girls.   The Whirligig was made with Cotton Ease to boost it up to a larger size which I did for another one just like this that I made for a Christmas gift.  Now that I have created a larger size, Stephanie has blogged that she has completed the resizing of the pattern for larger-than-toddler girls.  Oh well ...  The cape is made with Cascade 220, and the pattern can be found on Ravelry.  

Finally, I treated myself to a bit of pleasure with the scarf, made with Merinos Otto Shadow.  The yarn was incredibly lofty and worked up delightfully.  The end product is truly beautiful.  Laura Chau gets credit for this design, Just Enough Ruffles

I am also at work on other items for Christmas.  More about that as they materialize.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knitted Little Red Riding Hood

Two days ago, I went to my LYS and picked up yarn for my next two projects, both of which will be small.  Last year, when I was getting into knitting after retiring, I made a Little Red Riding Hood piece for a 2 1/2 year old great-granddaughter's Christmas gift.  I was generally pleased with the effort, but did not photograph the cape/hood.  Now that I am blogging and taking photos of all my projects, you will get a chance this time to see this so very cute little girl's cape with hood.  Here is a hint of things to come:
I am knitting it again because I thought it would make a neat contribution to our church's bazaar in November.  I am knitting the cape/hood in Cascade 220 worsted wool using the Portuguese knitting technique.  The consistency of the stitches is very good using this technique.  My knitting pin arrived from Andrea Wong Knits the day before I began this project and the pin certainly does add to the technique.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Portuguese Knitting

I suppose that everyone who knits experiences pain in their hands at some point.  Well, mine were getting to be chronic and would last for hours and sometimes days.  I would have to put the knitting aside for a couple of days (not something I liked doing!)  I began to experiment with other techniques, beginning with Continental (or German) knitting technique.  While that helped, it did not eliminate the pain and my output did not look as good.

Then I stumbled across Portuguese Knitting and gave it a try.  Not only was it faster, better tension and better output, but the hands healed and do not bother me at all.  I knitted most of yesterday without pain!  If you want to learn more about this, there are two sources:  Youtube (search for Portuguese Knitting), or Andreawongknits.  I purchased a used copy of Andrea Wong's DVD through Amazon, but cannot get it to play on my PC.  However, I learned enough from Youtube to get right into this technique.

I love the speed and ease of knitting this way!  I was finishing up a girl's pullover that featured stockinette stitch for the torso and was able to zip through the tedious stockinette.  I was working in the round, and the knitting flew.  I wish I had found this technique before I began.

That brings me up to the latest finished project:  the girls' pullover based on Sarah Johnson's Rusted Root.  This should fit most girls of about 10 years of age (my estimate).  The puffed sleeves are the best feature.  Peggy of A Bit of String conceived the idea of making this version of Rusted Root, leaving off the "root" and using one size smaller needles.  However, I quickly realized that her version was too small for my intended recipient, so I started again and made the XS version of the original pattern.  It worked up very nicely in Cotton Ease.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lilas and Whirligig

The Lilas cardigan (The Yarniad) has been completed -- and worn a couple of times.  First it went to church and then out to lunch with girlfriends, then went to Omaha this past weekend for Husker's family reunion.  (And you were wondering why I called him that ...  :)  Back to the Lilas later. 

Ahead of the reunion, family members Joyce and Donna, advised that we would have a silent auction.  Husker swung into action and contacted the Eli Young Band and arranged for 3 autographed CDs for the auction.  Thank you, boys.

I planted myself in my chair and whipped out Whirligig, designed by Stephanie Japel for last fall's Interweave Knits Weekend.  I could not get it done in a weekend, but how about 4 days?  I was very happy with how it came out, and someone at the BFR reunion made off with it for a small family member.  It enjoyed several bids.  I am convinced that Stephanie Japel will be remembered for this little shrug more than anything else she has designed.  It is just too cute for words.  Back view ... it has a back and sleeves, but no front for a toddler to spill something on. 

Now for the Lilas.  I am so happy with this summer cardigan and with the cool Cotton Ease yarn.  Perfect for those over air-conditioned rooms.  I attempted to take a picture of it in the bathroom, but forgot to turn off the flash and nearly blinded myself.  I then could not ascertain how to bypass the flash on my ancient Canon A10.  I gave up and let Husker take the pix with his fancy and cool Canon Rebel.  

The other family knitter asked for the pattern.  She is a more experienced knitter, so I am anxious to see how hers turns out.  Cindy -- don't forget to send pix.  

By the way, I am leaving further mention of the BFR reunion to Husker.  See Allen's Thinking.  If he has not updated his blog, let him know you are waiting for a report and pictures. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Next Knit

I have selected my next project.  I encountered another knitter's blog, A Bit of String, and saw the delightful pullover she made for her daughter in March 2010.  She improvised to downsize Sarah Johnson's Rusted Root.   Peggy's result was so feminine and just what a young girl would like.  

I wonder who will get this?  I will say no more. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gimping Around

On July 4th, while at my son's house, I did something to a knee that left me somewhat painful.  Don't know what exactly I did, but I think that it may have happened while chasing Jemma through the backyard.  At any rate, I listened to my body and did not attend yoga during the following week (last week).  

I was back in class last night, and George really put us through our paces.  He is one fine teacher.  By the time I arrived home, I realized that a week off does not work for a 68 yo body.  You need your fix frequently to stay limber.  Today, I am a bit sore.  He was concentrating on our hip flexors, so the hips/low back are speaking to me, and my shoulders are telling me that I have not done a headstand for over a week.

Of course, if your knee hurts when you bend it, you can't do standing poses or inversions too well.  Oh, well ... get over it and go on.  I did.

Lilas is Blocking

The Lilas short-sleeved summer cardigan is now blocking.  This is definitely a step up for me in my knitting adventure (one year into knitting).  I find that I am learning more with every item that I do.  Now that I do not have a project of this magnitude in process (let's not talk about the wool winter cardigan that I cannot bear to work on at this time due to summer's heat), I had to do something.  So I began a toboggan for my great-granddaughter using left-over yarn from the Lilas.  In one day, I have almost completed it.  Nothing gives more instant feedback than a quick project!  I am going to finish it today, and then will be posting it.  As for the Lilas, here is a shot to let you see where I am going with this project.   

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Zion to Grand Junction

We wanted to spend our next day after Zion at Bryce National Park, but Husker and I decided that our road time was exceeding our estimations, so we left St. George in a different direction, making a short stop at the northwest corner of Zion.  This part of the park is called Kolob Canyon, but is limited to a 5-mile drive up to a lookout point.  The drive is spectacular and should not be missed.  We enjoyed a chat with another couple while at the turnaround point.  Most interesting -- he was German, retired from Exxon -- she was Australian.  They lived in Florida, his kids were in Vermont, hers in Arizona.  So they traveled a lot.

We usually meet a lot of interesting people when we travel.  Husker is so very good at chatting people up.

The views on the drive to the top were beyond superlatives.  Photos cannot not do the views justice.

Lilas cardigan

I have had my eye on the Lilas cardigan from the Yarniad, and finally got started with it.  The collar is almost finished, and I am feeling very good about it.  I still cannot knit more than about 4 rows at a time or my wrist/thumb will become very achy.  Frustrating.

I have started using a wrist brace, but I am not sure that it is doing me any good.  I am considering purchasing a compression glove that covers the thumb.  I wish I knew how well these work before I purchase.  Does anyone know?

If you recall, I set aside the Avocet B (wool) to work on something that I can use now: Lilas (cotton, acrylic).  I purchased Cotton Ease for the Lilas and -- so far -- have been very pleased with it.  It was a substitution for the yarn called for by the pattern, but the specified yarn was not at my LYS.  So I became a yarn explorer and ended up with something else.  Now I have discovered that Cotton Ease is discontinued.  So much for that find.  At least I have enough for my project.  Maybe I should return to Joann's and purchase all of their remainders!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jemma's July 4th Weekend

Husker and I started our weekend on Saturday morning by picking up Jemma, Jon and Sarah's 11-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  They would be away and we were the designated dogsitters.  (Yippee!!)  She is a loving, affectionate, perfect lap dog.  Jemma recognized us and was ready to go.  How could you not love that face? The weekend swirled around her.  

The weekend started with rain, which began anew while we were out for a walk.  There was a mad dash for the house and wet hair for both of us.  Not that Jemma minded the rain -- she loved the all-out run. 

The next day we went to my son's house for a 4th of July  cookout.  My son has 2 large dogs, his wife has a yorkie and a chihuahua, and one of their daughters has a chihuahua.  Also present were the assorted grandchildren and other family members.  With 6 dogs running around, a lot of cooking, eating, and conversation going on, it made for a fun filled day.  The children kept busy in the pool while the adults kept busy supervising kids-in-the-pool.  

Jemma was in dog heaven.  She had 5 playmates who were as amiable as she is, the children wanted their turns at petting the new member of the group, food was probably getting dropped here and there, and there was a big back yard to explore.  She was under the deck, into the playhouse, down to the barn, around the pool, with breaks in the house on the cool tile floor.   

After about 5 1/2 hours of fun, we finally departed for home, arriving home about 6 pm.  Jemma slept in my lap during the 25-minute drive home, then sprawled half on the floor and half in her bed and slept for 4 hours!  Periodically, she would wake up, move to Husker's chair or my chair, then later go back to her bed.  When we were ready for bed, we took her outside once more, and then she slept soundly through the night between us.  She was wasted!

Jemma has had a recent unhappy event in her life.  Her home companion was Jack, a lovable old boxer.  Unfortunately, Jack developed a twisted intestine, resulting in the tragic loss of his life.  Jemma has been grieving by occupying his favorite spots.  Today, however, things will definitely change.  Her humans are picking up another puppy today, a tri-color Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Kingston is his name.  The two dogs are from the same breeder, but do not share the same parentage.  I know what you are thinking, but this will be a platonic relationship.  

Fast forward to 3 p.m.  Jon and Sarah arrived with Kingston.  Suddenly, Jemma seemed like a very big dog.  Kingston is adorable and Jemma was curious about this little bundle.  She seems okay with him.  How could she not be?  Isn't he cute?   

I think we will all be in love with him, too.  Aren't they cute?  

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.  Husker and I  used it as an excuse to go to Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, TX to a concert by the Eli Young Band.  Husker's baby boy, Jon, is the bass player.  For those who are not from the DFW area, Lone Star Park is a horse racing track that is also a venue for concerts.  Jon arranged for us to get backstage passes, and after meeting up with him and his bandmates out front during the meet-and-greet time, we headed upstairs to the box suite provided to the band and their guests.

Let me back up and explain for the older generation that meet-and-greet is a time either before or after a concert when the band meets fans, poses for photos with them, and generally expose themselves to the fanbase up close.  At this venue, their tour bus was parked at the entrance to the facility, and fans that had purchased backstage passes were allowed into a blocked off area for their personal time with the band.

The suite also provided a very nice supper for everyone, plus drinks of all kinds.  Others watching the show from the suite were family and friends of all the bandmates.  Jon's fiancé, Sarah, was also there.  A funny thing happened in the elevator up to the suite:  A young man on the elevator realized that we were headed for the VIP floor and noticed our backstage passes.  He knew that these oldies could not be run-of-the-mill fans.  He even jokingly asked if he could buy the passes.  Husker told him that the passes cost far more than he could pay, and happily identified himself as Jon's father. 

We learned from Jon earlier that their cut of Guinevere is the Number One country tune in the DFW area, although not in the nation.  The band started their day with a gig in Nashville at 1:30, hopped on a flight to DFW, played Lone Star Park, and as I write this, they are on their way to Salt Lake City for another gig tonight.  Tomorrow is Denver.  I am exhausted just thinking about it. 

All said and done, it was a nice way to celebrate my birthday.  Thank you for the passes, Jon.

P. S.  We found out later that the concert sold 19,370 tickets.  Way to go!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zion and St. George

Husker and I really like our road trips.  We enjoy the views, and he is always asking me questions about the geology of the passing countryside.  I only took one year of college geology, but he did not take any -- so I guess I am the family "expert".  Maybe I should encourage him to enroll in a geology class at the local community college ...

The route from San Diego to St. George, UT was spectacular.  Neither of us were familiar with the Virgin River, but it definitely cuts a 160 mile long colorful path from Las Vegas northeastward.  It is the river that cut the canyons of theVirgin River Gorge and Zion National Park.  Think of it as an early Grand Canyon in the making.  The vistas could not have been more stunning, or the wildlife more intriguing.  The smallest wildlife was a family of baby squirrels along a trail in Zion.  They did not seem to be the least bit afraid of the trail of tourists passing by.

The walls of the Virgin River Gorge were very close to us so that we felt as if we were in a narrow slot in the mountain range.  I guess we were.  The river and the interstate bumped right up to the walls.  The walls were so high that it was hard to look up to the top from the car's windows. 

On the other hand, there were also trails that passed through quiet, cool, and delightful vistas to springs, lookouts, etc., along the river and especially within Zion.  This photo is the route to the Emerald Pools within Zion.  Most of Zion's trails were accessible and short except for one trail that required extensive experience and was quite long.  It was called Angel Trail and climbed up to the top of the canyon walls using a cut into the walls that at times was only about 4 feet wide.  It was a very long drop off the edge.  You could look up to the top of the canyon and see ant-like hikers moving along the trail.  Scary. 

 Zion was terrific!  Everyone should go there at least once.  There is a garden-like environment along the river, but majestic towering canyon walls above.  It leaves one feeling puny but invigorated.  It will take your breath away ... just go. This should be on your bucket list.

Birthdays and Friends

Many years ago -- let's not discuss how many! -- I developed a friendship with Linda, an English teacher.  Then after a few years, I moved away.  We have birthdays close to each other's, making me all of 10 days older than she is.  Over the years, we have kept in touch via birthday cards, long letters, occasional phone calls, etc.  I think we have had a face-to-face over the last 30 years only 3 times!  But we are still good friends ....

How does that happen when you don't see each other?  Hard to say, but despite the years and distance, I still feel as if I can talk to her about anything. 

I received her birthday card to me yesterday.  Today, I bought her birthday card.  And so the "tradition" goes on. 

Two Weeks working on the Bucket List

Husker has traveled to all of the lower 48, some places several times.  He likes to take me places that I have never gone to before.  This trip was from North Texas to San Diego, followed by St. George, UT, Zion NP, Grand Junction and Fort Collins, CO, Omaha and then home.  Actually, we were in Fort Collins last year, but it was on our way from Omaha, Husker's ancestral home.  This year, we were on our way to Omaha. 

We chose this route for reasons -- Husker's cousin, Richard, and wife, Michelle, live in San Diego.  So we had a very pleasant visit with them including a day at the San Diego Zoo.  We followed the zoo with an evening meal at a delightful seafood restaurant, Peohe's, on Coronado Island.  The view from the restaurant was spectacular.

Richard and Michelle are planning to retire in a couple of years or so, and Richard has especially been preparing on how to enjoy his hobbies in greater depth.  He has constructed a second garage next their house, and has equipped it with everything he wants for tinkering with a car -- lift, cabinetry to store tools, etc.  For the fun of it, he has painted a mural on one wall based on the movie, Cars.   He did a pretty good job with it.  Whatdaya think?   

After two nights with Richard and Michelle, we departed for the Embassy Suites in La Jolla to meet up with Husker's classmates from his alma mater, Benson High School, in Omaha.  So many of them now live in California that it is practical to have a mini-reunion there.  We don't live in California, but it is a good excuse to go there! 

While there, we experienced a mild earthquake.  Husker was out on the patio of the hotel with others from the group, and I was checking email at our laptop in our room on the 10th floor.  The laptop began to vibrate across the desk, the floor vibrated, and the draperies swayed.  It was followed by 2 or 3 milder tremors.  I felt dizzy, but otherwise there was not much to it. 

After enjoying some face time with Husker's classmates (some of whom I am now beginning to know pretty well), we departed for St. George, Utah, preparatory to visiting Zion National Park.  To be continued!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Learning to Shawl and making Yogurt

As previously mentioned, I am knitting my first shawl.  This has turned out to be a learning experience because I have done things that make it look not-too-perfect to the knitter's eye.  I have tried several variations on increases so I could compare the "look".   But I will now pull it out.  This is not a true lace shawl, but is a Romney Kerchief at Brooklyn Tweed.  No use in continuing because I now know what I want to know about this design.  Yes, I found pix of this on the internet with very vague instructions -- not really a "pattern".  Now I can write a pattern that I will keep in my binder. 

Do others keep a journal or binder about their knitting?  I had started a binder with tabs for various sub-categories such as men's, women's, hats/mittens, techniques, etc.  When I was in my LYS recently, the clerk -- aware that I am a relative novice -- suggested that I keep a journal on my knitting.  I think my binder is my journal.  I put in the patterns that I like along with notes.  Now I need to add a tab for shawls.

Not to confuse you too much -- I started this a couple of days ago, and yesterday I went to the LYS and purchased enough of a cotton/linen yarn to make the aforementioned Romney Kerchief.  Yes, I did pull the test version out.  This time, the increases will all be uniform and look the way that I decided was "best" of test.  My LYS does not carry blocking wires because the owner has not been able to find a good wholesaler for them.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a wholesaler?

I am making yogurt today.  I have done this for many years because I am lactose intolerant, and commercial yogurts are not 100% fermented.  They also have too much junk added to them.  Mine is always mellow and creamy delicious.  Generally, I stick with a vanilla version, but I have made chocolate and other variations.  I have also made yogurt cheese (Greek yogurt).  Homemade yogurt is so easy to do, and so much tastier that it amazes me how many people still buy the junk sold in grocers.  My husband is one of those who must have his adulterated  commercial yogurt.

I also recommend kefir for the lactose intolerant.  I had never heard of it until a few years ago when a nutritionist recommended it.  It is better, healthwise, than yogurt because it has a greater variety of strains of bacteria than yogurt (10 to 3).  Not too many grocery chains carry it, but most health food stores do.  I have tried making it at home, but it is trickier to do than the yogurt is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yoga Convention

The folks in Portland, OR are enjoying a pleasant distraction this week.  The Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States is having its teachers' convention there including the appearance of  Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar.  All but one teacher at the studio where I practice have gone.  Sally is remaining here to keep the ship moving forward.  To assist her, Shanan has come to assist with classes.  She taught one of my classes Monday night and Wednesday night and I came away with some new "moves".   It was the first time that I have met Shanan, and she is quite good.   

My regular teacher  is so full of good ideas that he is addictive.  Somehow, he always finds a way to help you to learn to do a pose that you swore your body would never do.  Take handstands.  I tried for 2-3 years to learn to do them to no avail.  After he moved here, it took only one of his handstand classes to have me upside down and elated.  It was liberating!  I took good notes and wrote up the procedure for learning to do handstands.  I have had many requests for a copy of the teaching notes, and others have been able to accomplish this also.  So if you need to work on this, just drop me an email.  I will happily send you an attachment.

Do you get tired of a knitting project before you are finished?  Well, the Avocet B cardigan is getting tiresome, so I have taken a break by learning to do a shawl (actually it is a big bandana).  It is not a fancy shawl, very simple pattern -- but it is a good way to use some cotton yarn left over from Husker's green pullover.  It is certainly going fast!  However, before I can really claim it to be finished, I will need to buy a set of blocking wires.  Have you noticed how much stuff you can "need" for knitting?  We could take a small vacation on what I have spent in the last year for my new hobby. 

I went to the dermatologist yesterday about a little red dot beneath an eye and next to my nose.  Yup, it is coming off.  However, it will swell and generally look atrocious for a while.  I was asked if I was planning to go to a wedding or anything soon.  Lots of stuff coming down other than a wedding, so the little red dot will come off on June 3rd.  So I will look awful for my birthday on June 11th. 

We hit 90 degrees May 11th.  It was in the 60s earlier this week.  Texas weather ...  And the AC was not working.  The repairman came out yesterday, and fortunately, the offending part is under warranty -- barely.  However, enough time had gone by that the labor was not under warranty.  When you are hot, you don't care.  Just fix it!  We are now very very cool.  No one can live in Texas without good old air conditioning. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wonderful Son and his Very Smart Wife

For Mother's Day, my Son and wife, Dina, sent me a gift card from Amazon that I can use for my Kindle.  This was decided upon after he called me.  He said he wanted to get me something that would last longer than flowers which I thought was pretty clever of him.  His wife, Dina, is the techie in his household and she did the arrangement via Amazon.  The Known World will be mine shortly. 

Speaking of Dina, she is one clever gal.  She started her own infant and toddler shoe company, Uniquely Squeaky.  She researched places to get them made in China, covered the legal side of things, and started designing and importing the shoes for sale locally.  She called on a national company's headquarters to get into their outlets.  She has done all of this without any prior experience at importing or retailing.  The business is growing nicely.  When Husker heard what she was starting up, he was full of questions for her -- retired customs broker that he is -- but she had covered it all.  She never ceases to amaze me. 

Husker and I are lying low today.  I went out nordic walking in our neighborhood before 8 a.m. this morning to enjoy the cooler-than-normal Texas weather.  It was in the 60's!  We are blessed by a neighborhood that is a safe, friendly, quiet place to walk without any through streets (no through traffic!)  There are 4 long steep hills with the rest of the neighborhood ranging from gently rolling hills to flat.  I like the challenge of the hills.  It was a nice way to start Mother's Day. 

Son has been a real asset to me.  He is always thoughtful, calls me regularly, and likes Husker (my 2nd husband).  Some of me has rubbed off on him:  tries to stay in shape, is a bit hyperactive, won't tolerate debt, and is a Ford man.  Unfortunately, he hasn't learned to knit yet.

Speaking of knitting, here is a shot of the re-designed Avocet B cardigan as it progresses downward to the hips.  I am knitting this in Paton's Classic Wool, so there is no chance that I will be wearing it before late fall. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Back to knitting -- post RSI (repetitive stress injury)

The last sweater that I made (for my husband), really did an injustice to my right wrist and somewhat the same to the left wrist.  I gave it a rest (no knitting!) and also bought a brace.  The brace definitely has helped, and after a couple of days or so, thought I could go on to my next project.  That was not to be.  I began to get achy again.  There were days of knit-a-row, rest-a-day.  Finally, I just put everything aside for a long rest. 

Yesterday, I was able to knit several rows with the brace on, and did not experience any pain.  Not wanting to push the envelope, I did not put several hours into my work.  It is hard to pull back from something that is so enjoyable.  How many others have experienced this sort of knitting curse?

I am now enjoying my new project.  Following guidance from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits, I have re-written Avocet B (  So far, so good.  I have reached the midriff, working top-down.  Last night, I tried it on again, but think that next time I will shorten the yoke about 1/2-1".  That would also take care of the slight amount of roominess.  It should not be a problem to continue as is for this version, but I definitely think that I allowed for too much ease and too much armhole depth.  Not a serious problem, but could fit a little bit closer.  Also, I converted this to raglan.  The results of this will be a new "basic" pattern for other cardigans.  After all, I have 1 daughter-in-law and 4 granddaughters!  I am sure they all need cardigans.

Yesterday was our annual Dinners for 99.  That is a picnic south of town at the home of a couple of friends and the invitees included all persons who were participants in Dinners for 9 during the September-May period.  This is kind of a supper club activity through our church.  The weather during the last 2 years' picnics have been less than optimal by being hot and steamy.  This year was a delightful exception with the temperature about 72, low humidity, clear skies and a light cool breeze.  There was so much food!  Of course, I tried to sample some of most of it, and that resulted in not being hungry the rest of the day.   Husker made 2 chocolate bread puddings for us to take along with  vanilla ice cream.  I also took the new cardigan in my work bag which was quite a conversation starter. 

Yes, Husker cooks.  In fact, he is quite an accomplished cook and does most, though not all, of our cooking.  BB (Before Brenda), he determined to learn to cook by cooking his way through Better Homes Cookbook, a la Julie and Julia.  Ladies -- he also irons -- and yes, he has brothers -- married brothers. 

Speaking of Husker's brothers ... younger bro, George, is also a restaurateur and definitely a gourmand.  Cooking skills are not wasted in their family because everyone seems to have talent in the kitchen.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Women in Wine

The title sounds like we were immersed in a barrel of wine.  Far from it!

It is actually the title of an event on the calendar for Grace, a delightful almost 2-year-old restaurant in Fort Worth, TX.  Four of my girlfriends and I went there this past Wednesday for this weekly affair in the bar.  Hosted by co-owner Caroline and sommelier, Jennie, it is an opportunity for ladies to sample 3 wines and partake of ample hor d'oerves.  Because the day was Cinco de Mayo, the featured wines were from Mexico.  You hear a little about the origin of the wines, and receive a handout that further details the wines of the evening.  It is a nice way to get out with your girlfriends, learn a little about wine, without stretching the wallet -- or waistline with a big meal.  Unfortunately, I was the designated driver, so all I could do was sip a little of  the wine, but not too much.  If you are ever in Fort Worth, look this gem up at, or go to 777 Main St.  Reservations are required for the dining room. 

Okay -- I must 'fess up.  Caroline and husband, Adam, are family.  Adam is my husband's son, and Caroline is his delightful business partner.  BUT, I am not prejudiced -- the restaurant is a real winner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

George and Susan get Married

Husker and I went to a wedding on May 1, 2010, and it was a very merry time.  Actually, the wedding couple were friends of mine, but Husker seems to have decidedly enjoyed himself among so many strangers.  His route to a good time is all about degrees of separation ...

While standing outside the chapel, I introduced him to another student at the same yoga studio that I attend and her husband who happen to live in Denton.  Because of their domicile, Husker could not resist asking if they knew the Eli Young Band which started in Denton.  They began to talk about how much they liked the band, their daughter was a friend of a young lady who was engaged to a member of the band, etc., etc.  Bingo!  Was the young bride named Sarah and was she engaged to the bass player?  Yes!  The bass player is Husker's youngest son.  So we were all bonding then and there.  It is such a small world.

This morning proved once again that it is a small world.  The church choir had a guest soloist for Missa Gaia, Brad Leoli.  Brad is a teacher of saxaphone at Denton's U of North Texas.  Did he know Cheree W, a student there of saxaphone performance?  Yes!  The world shrinks a little more.  Cheree is another attendee of the said same yoga studio.

But back to the most important topic of the last evening...

George is our common yoga teacher (see how this all ties together), and one fine teacher he is.  Well, about 47 years ago, he asked out a certain fair-haired lady with whom he went to high school.  She said no because of some restrictions on dating by her parents.  He thought she didn't like him.  Fast forward about 45 years, and he moved back to Big D and guess whom he ran into?  As the wedding invitation said, a spark was kindled, and the rest is history.  The wedding was held in the first church founded in Dallas (1844) in the continuously used site (1856).  The venue was beautiful and packed with yogis, old classmates, friends, family.  The groom and best man wore their kilts, and the bride was beyond beautiful.  The reception was held at the home of the bride, and there were so many people there that one had to be careful about walking around the pool.  I was sure that someone would take a bath before the evening was out.  A band played, the wine and champagne poured, and the buffet dinner was stretched out over two rooms.

Husker was able to put a face on many of the names that I sprinkle through my conversations about my yoga classes at the Iyengar Studio.  He decided that he likes those folks.  However, he is not going to start taking classes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knitting as Sport

When I was very young (a long time ago!), I spent some time as a flight attendant.  While in training, one of the instructors told us that we were not allowed to read or knit during flight time.  This struck me as a strange statement:  Knit? During flight time?  I could imagine the urge to read during red-eye flights, but knitting seemed pretty strange to me.

Before long, I began to understand this urge better.  It is so very easy to fall asleep during a long night flight, but reading only makes it easier to fall asleep.  Knitting requires a little more concentration.  I did not know how to knit, and I wasn't about to risk my job by carrying it along, so the thought was put aside.

As time went by, I married and started a family.  I bought a "how to knit" type of book, supplies and taught myself the fundamentals.  I ended up making two baby cardigans for my first-born.  As I look back on this, I realize that I did pretty good for a first time with knitting.  However, there was one thing that really frustrated me:  sewing the pieces together.  Hated it.  That was the end of the knitting.  Today, that first-born has made his own family, and I have retired.  So what am I doing?  Knitting again.

As is often the case, the times they have changed.  Knitting is now done with cable needles and can be done in one piece.  Virtually everyone in our extended family had to endure my knitties for Christmas.  I have learned a whole lot more, and enjoy it lot more.  I definitely recommend Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard, ( and Fitted Knits and Glam Knits by Stephanie Japel (  These books have helped me to re-learn knitting by using one-piece knitting techniques. 

Husker is a pipe smoker, but graciously goes out to our deck to smoke and read or work puzzles at his little table.  During the winter, he bundles up, but still occasionally complains about the cold and reminds me that he moved from Nebraska to get away from the cold.  Soooo -- I made him a watch cap and fingerless mittens (so he could hold his pipe and pencil), and he loved them.  In fact, I think the mitts are probably worn out (he frequently wore them in the house, too!) and he will need new ones next winter.  All of my initial efforts at knitting were more caps, fingerless mitts, and scarves.

Then came the big time -- I made shrugs for myself, 3 granddaughters, and 1 g-granddaughter.  Lots of shrugs get lots of hugs.  Finally, the time came to tackle a pullover for Husker.  This proved to be a more difficult task than I had anticipated.  I used the recommended yarn (cotton) and my gauge was on target.  Despite this, the sweater seemed to stretch under its own weight, and I kept pulling it out and starting over as I reduced the size.  I knitted the body from the bottom to the armpits and pulled it out, knitted one sleeve from cuff to armpit 4 times before I was happy.  (Am I a Type A?)  I finally got it finished, and it looks good, but I do not recommend cotton yarn to anyone.  In addition, I began to think I had carpal tunnel.  I went online about it and discovered that others who knitted with cotton yarn had the same problem.  Another reason to avoid cotton yarn.  The color does not seem to appear quite right in the pix -- it is a deep teal green that Husker picked out himself.

New Kindle

Last Christmas, my husband offered me a new Kindle as a gift.  I was not so sure that it was what I wanted and decided to wait.  I mulled over this for a while and finally tried Amazon's PC based Kindle.  Their ploy worked and I was hooked.  So I went online and sent off for this dandy little gadget.  It arrived Monday, but I did not get home from yoga until after 8 p.m.  I was tired and only tinkered with it for a short while.  This morning, that was the first thing on my mind and I downloaded "Ahab's Wife".  The feel of the Kindle is so right and so light weight.  It is certainly easier than holding some paper books (think "John Adams" at a whopping 751 pages - I thought I was getting arthritis in my hands).

I have heard that textbooks can also be downloaded.  Not that I need one, but it certainly seems like an improvement.  Textbooks are like carrying around a load of bricks ...

Now -- to get to know Una --

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

We started Saturday morning before daylight with the sound of strong rain. The local Race for the Cure was to start in a couple of hours. Do we stay in bed and forget about it? As Husker joked, "They already have our donation." But very soon, the rain was gone, and the clouds with them. The sun was out, so we were out of the bed, too. We arrived at the race site about 30 minutes later than we had planned, but not too late to scan the booths and line up for the one-mile walk.

I used to run this event, but that was in an earlier age. So we walk.

I have exercised faithfully since my early 30's, but Husker is a polio survivor and simply is not into working out.  I, on the other hand, cannot imagine anything so delightful as laps in the Y's indoor pool or a vigorous 4-mile walk in our hilly neighborhood. Give me a challenging Iyengar yoga class any day!

Sunday morning was time to hear our new minister in the pulpit. Rev. Jenn has a sense of humor, impeccable timing, and smart, too. Can't ask for anything better than that on a sleepy Sunday start.

The most delightful part of the weekend was dinner on Sunday evening, with Husker's sons, Adam and wife, Caroline, and Jon and his fiancé, Sarah, and daughter, Jennie.   We were in a popular restaurant that informs our city's culture. This was a special event for my husband's birthday.  A note at this point: I was wearing over my top a little sweater that I had knitted called a shrug (an abbreviated cardigan) from a pattern I found on The designer identified herself as a Texan, but no city; however, her location was blown by modeling the sweater in front of a local landmark. Well -- I was about 2 margaritas too far along when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up at a young, pretty woman who announced that she was the designer of my sweater. What a surprise and a delight to meet her. I have been following her blog since I stumbled upon the pattern. So out of a city population of about 600,000 on one specific night, we both are in the same place and I happen to have my sweater on! What are the odds of that happening? Thank you, Ashley, for your creativity, and stopping to say hello.