October RIFFing | 10.7.22

October RIFFing | 10.7.22

This week moved at warp speed… or at least it felt that way to me! I kind of had a mini-freak out this morning when I realized it was the 7th. Why this surprised me, I am not sure… as long as I can remember 7 follows 6… but yeah. Why this sudden panic? I realized that in two short weeks we will be on vacation!! Yikes!

Anyways, I have two patterns to finish cutting out this morning… so this post will be direct and to the point! Let’s get started!

Resilience —

As in the new podcast series from Sharon Says So. This series is touching on some history that I know little about, and though I have dipped my toes in to learn more, I have miles and miles to go.

From Sharon’s Blog: “For the next few weeks, we are going to explore a part of American history that we tend to learn very little about: the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.”

I am avidly listening and eagerly awaiting each episode. (Sharon has a vast library of podcasts so if you just want to listen to this series – it begins at episode 185.

Inspired (textstorming) —

As you all know I am taking another watercolor painting class this fall, but what you all might not know is that Kym is taking the same class with me! This has provided an entirely new line of learning for me and I wanted to share that joy with you all. The teacher provides feedback each week, but it is especially wonderful to get feedback before you turn your homework in… We have had several “textstorming” sessions and her input has helped me be better. We have both grumbled about the subject matter, and shared that we were yearning to paint some pumpkins! The Painting Gods must have read in on our texts… because this week is all about PUMPKINS! A huge thanks to Kym for all her input, advice, and inspiration!!

Finding —

I am a fairly new poetry reader. I know some (of the more famous) poets, but I feel like there is this deep and wide ocean overflowing with poets I have yet to discover. Sometimes I find a poet and I just don’t “click” with their poetry but other times, I find someone whose words just sing to me… loud choruses! That happened this week… I stumbled across a new-to-me poet (Dr. Rafael Campo) and since then I have been driving Steve mad making him listen to Dr. Campo’s poems. I will be sharing more about Dr. Campo later this month, but for now I am sharing his TED talk about how poetry heals us.

Fall (gnoming) —

I began the October Gnome on Wednesday and it has been a bit of a challenge. I started with a yarn, but very soon things just felt very wrong. The October Gnome did not want to be all grey and dark green… at all. So I got out my “odds and ends bag” and I found some more Autumnal Yarns and that felt so much better.

The hat looks grey, but it is not… it is very tan in color!

The hat is done and I have begun the “body” and I think I see braids (and an acorn or two?) in this little gnomes future!

And with that, I am out of here! Happy Weekend everyone! See you all back here on Monday!




October RIFFing | 10.7.22

A September RIFF | 9.23.22

The Autumnal Equinox occurred last night at 9PM and it is as if Mother Nature flipped a switch… the arrival of autumn did in deed bring autumn-like temperatures! This morning it was a very chilly and hushed silence talking Sherman for his morning walk. No birdsong, no crickets chirping… just one sniffing pug to break the stillness of the morning.

It seems like a good day to do a bit of RIFFing… so let’s get started:

Remembering —

I saw this tweet this morning and my heart broke a bit. I know what my fall/winter is going to be full of… finishing reading her Wolf Hall/Thomas Cromwell series.

I have not explored any of her writing beyond Wolf Hall, but she has a sizable body of work to explore.

(when I have brief moments of) Insight —

My new painting class began yesterday and I have spent much of the month focused on the “sequence” of watercolor. From saturation of the page, keeping a wet edge, layers, damp and dry work. And to make things remarkably clear for myself – I have done a variety of “neutral” paintings. And on Wednesday… it all began to click! And I did what I feel is my best representation of all these skills combined. Good thing because the first thing Mr. Surowicz mentions in the first lesson of the new class is how important a “shades of grey” study is before you begin a new painting. I did some work to get my watercolor paper ready to paint, but today I am going to do a rough sketch (or two) in my sketchbook and do some value studies before I begin the “big painting” and I am so very excited!

Finding (answers) —

This week, Jane asked me a very good question: “I’m trying to think how many oz. of fiber it takes to spin enough yarn for a sweater” 

Such an excellent question and I thought I’d share how I make a determination about that very thing. Way back in my very early spinning life I asked that very question. The short answer given me was to “weigh a sweater I wear” and that will give me a rough idea of what I will need. Seems simple? If you think that is a clear as mud… you are not alone. For me, figuring out “how much yarn will I need for x project” was the greatest mystery of spinning! Until I discovered Felicia Lo, that is. Felicia is the magic behind Sweet Georgia Yarns and she is an avid spinner! She also blogs… and her blog is one of the best resources I have found to answer all the “mystery” questions of spinning I might ever have! Anyways, she gives a very clear and easy to understand method of determining how much yarn a sweater might take… that would be any sweater, any gauge, size inclusive, and how much “extra” to calculate. (Actually, this method would work for ANY item you want to knit… not just sweaters!)

I hope this helps you, Jane… as well as any other spinning knitters out there!

Friday (Jabs) —

Yes, that’s correct… later this morning, I am heading down to Rite Aid to get a couple of “jabs”… the new and updated COVID booster (thank you, Pfizer!) and a flu shot as well. I have sort of cleared the deck for the weekend, just in case I am feeling a bit puny from said jabs… but I am so thankful that scientists have made our lives so much better thanks to the wonder of vaccines! (And I am still in awe of how it is possible that I have yet to catch COVID!)

Have a great weekend everyone! See you all back here on Monday!


Things I Learned This Week | 9.16.22

Things I Learned This Week | 9.16.22

This week was a good week for learning… at least for me…and I thought I’d share what I learned with you all!

Thing One:

Pita success happened. Or at least I found a very tasty and easy recipe. And while some of my pita’s puffed up, not all of them did – or at least not the entire pita puffed up. The answer to this dilemma is right here! (Hint… apparently I have a cold spot in my oven and Steve thinks that the baking steel heating the entire preheat might be triggering the oven to turn itself down.) So when I bake them again I will turn my oven up and put the baking steel in just 30 minutes before I am gonna drop those pita’s on it. Anyways. They were soft and delicious. The bit of whole wheat flour was the perfect addition… the taste was brilliant. To celebrate we had a “mini-happy hour” last night with my favorite baked feta with these tomatoes and these chickpeas.

Thing Two:

Also in the baking category…and perhaps this will give you a huge hint as to how incredible the weather was this week. I had the urge to bake.all.the.things! Ha! Anyways, I had such a craving for chocolate chip cookies… but I really did not want several dozen cookies laying around the house. Occasionally, nothing hits the spot like a warm cookie and I like the idea of the “ready to bake” cookies that the grocers have… the taste, however, leaves a lot to be desired. I wondered if I could make a batch of dough, bake a few cookies, and freeze the remainder of the batch…

And you know what! YOU CAN! Oh.my.gosh! This is a game changer people! I used the “recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag” so the most basic of recipes. I then lined two baking sheets with parchment and scooped cookie dough exactly like I would if I was going to bake them and then I popped those baking sheets loaded with cookie dough in the freezer. The next morning, I pulled the baking sheets out and filled a ziplock bag with frozen cookie balls. Now here is the BEST PART! Want a cookie with your afternoon coffee… simple. Turn on the oven, pull out a ball (or two) of cookie dough and bake it exactly as the recipe says. Voilà! Fresh baked cookies! (Note… if you are baking a pan of frozen cookies, you probably will need to add some baking time)

Thing Three:

This had a visceral effect on me this week… another tick in the “man’s inhumanity to man” category. And then I learned that this was not a first. This listen by Codeswitch was eye opening, I had never, ever heard about Reverse Freedom Rides… and  listening to the Codeswitch podcast from 2020 eerily similar to what happened this week. My hope… is that there are more people in Florida, Texas, and Arizona who are embarrassed (angry…disgusted…enraged…) at these tactics by their governors and that this will be a tipping point for change.

And that is all I have for this week! (Sorry for the somewhat lame image above… that is the Feisty Carolina wren who sings to Sherman and me everyone morning!)

Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!


October RIFFing | 10.7.22

September RIFFing | 9.2.22

At long last we have arrived at the cusp of my favorite season… autumn. I live all year for autumn… and though I have learned to live happily in the moment of *now*… my heart is always longing for autumn! This week we have had some lovely “teasers” with cooler days and nights and I am so ready! I am sorry Summer, but I am really over baking hot days, endless sun, and all.the.humidity! And I’d be ever so grateful for some days of soaking rains… all day soaking rains! Yes, September brings lots of hopes for so many things!

So let’s get RIFFing, shall we?

a REAL goddess —

The Goddess in action!

I don’t know about you all, but this week I have had a laser focus on the US Open! Why you ask?

One word… Serena! (and personally, I think all players should be in self-designed twirly, sparkling tennis attire!)

As of this writing she has played just two games, but both were both so incredible! She is sparkling from head to toe… and taking no prisoners! And I am here for every single bit of it! (She played again Thursday evening… doubles with Venus! Sadly, they lost… but what a match it was!)

Inspired —

This is Week Six (and the last week) of my Beginning Landscape class. This week the Watercolor Gods smiled on me as I feel I did better that I had in any previous week. I know I still have miles and miles to go on learning, but small bits are beginning to click. I have roughly 3 weeks before my next class begins and my plan is to go back and redo each and every lesson… begin again, as it were… with my newly acquired skills! That means 2 lessons a week and I am so excited to “do them all again!” Is there anything in life better than inspiring yourself? I think not! (If you doubt that… see the Goddess above!) And no photo’s here… I shared both paintings on IG!

Finding (my inner sewist) —

Autumn is looming and I really need to sit down at the sewing machine and actually do some sewing! I have things cut out… patiently waiting… to be assembled into garments. In the same thread… I have a garment in mind that I want to make. I have looked for patterns, but have found none that check all my boxes… so I am going to make my own pattern for a simple a-line denim jumper/tunic. And…. I have another Grinch-y Advent Calendar to make for Olivia. (I need to get black flannel and an assortment of colorful buttons…) Anyways, this is notice to me that the coming “Unraveled Wednesday” posts should be all about the sewing… NOT the knitting!

Finding (visibility) —

I saw this tweet yesterday and was intrigued by the photo… Ruth Marcus and Strega Nona? What?

I am gifting you all the article so you can read as well. It very much struck a chord with me having made the decision some years ago to stop coloring my hair… the invisibility factor for women of a certain age (and older) is very real. Ruth goes on to address how a woman looks… you are damned if you are gorgeous (See the Sanna Marin nonsense) and you are damned if you are not. Women have to think about tone of voice, inflection, what they are wearing, hair – as in appropriately colored hair. This is not a new thing… I am sure you have all heard the adage about Ginger Rogers “doing everything that [Fred Astaire] did…backwards and in high heels.” 

Some days it really feels like that for every step forward, we are knocked dozens back… but maybe, just maybe… Ruth has cleared the pathway for us all a little. Maybe we can all pick up some of Strega Nona’s bad-ass-ness, which in my mind… is a very good thing! (And in case you are wondering, yes… I absolutely have read the Strega Nona books to my kids… they are so awesome!)

And I think, Ruth is the perfect Goddess Bookend for this blog post… two amazing women how showing us all how to be the most amazing badass women!

And with that, I am out of here! I will be back on Wednesday with some fun unraveling to share! Have a great LONG weekend everyone!

A Friday Catchall | 8.26.22

A Friday Catchall | 8.26.22

This week has felt very disordered to me… a not very weekend weekend, a missing day on Monday, and then trying to catch up with what day it is… I am really glad that the week is over! But before I close the curtain on this week, I have a few things to share!

First up… I got notification from my gastroenterologist that the polyps were benign and she will see me in 5 years! Whew! That is an enormous relief… I have a family history that is heavily laced with colon cancer and this news was a very good thing!

Next, I am painting way more than knitting these days…what? I know… but it is true! I am feeling very good about what I am learning. This is week five and, of course, there were new things to learn this week! The goal… to not have my deciduous trees not look like cotton balls on a stick. I won some, I lost some… and I especially like my hard edge trees.

I am getting a very good feel for the amount of moisture will do for a painting. Now, that does not mean I have a good handle on that moisture, but at least I am able to recognize issues, lol! And I was inspired to try another go at the little barn image. So a little free hand sketch… some Arches paper (I don’t have any Arches paper in 11×15… but I am going to get some!) and I found the sweet spot for my sky wash!

I also did better, IMO, with the grassy area. Layering is still a bit of a struggle but I am eager to practice every day! I am loving painting so much, I have signed up for a fall class with the same teacher and I am looking forward to more challenges!

Finally… perhaps my favorite thing of the week is that today is Sherman’s birthday. He is 10 years old today! (60 years in dog years based on his weight) I cannot imagine what life would have been like these past 10 years without him. He is my bright spot of each and every day. I absolutely would not have survived Pandemic Living without him. I have never had a dog with so much personality…and I love him so much! This weekend will be full of extra snuggles with him as we celebrate this milestone for him!

He looks grumpy, but he is the biggest softie on the planet… grey face and all! Happy Birthday, dearest Sherman! (who really just wants to know where his next treat is! Haha)

And that is all I have to share with you all this week. Have an amazing weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday with my August OLW update!


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