Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Part II

My 50th birthday celebration got a little bigger. It started out last week with a wonderful day of skiing with my husband and daughter. We continued the party on Sunday by spending a day in San Diego. We did a little shopping, dining, and even enjoyed a concert.

It was a sunny day and I enjoyed the hour drive down there and the chance to relax and crochet the whole way. We grabbed some yummy coffee drinks and spent a couple of hours at Ikea looking at their great stuff and being inspired. I love Ikea! We stayed for lunch and enjoyed their delicious Swedish meatball platters. Yum!

Next, we went to a bead and jewelery store/outlet that I heard about years ago and had been wanting to check out. They had so much stuff that it was a little overwhelming. But, I did find a little something that I wanted. A beautiful silver rose. It's about 2 1/4" wide with a pin on the back that works great as a shawl pin (I wore it with one of my shawls right after we left the store). It also has a loop that I plan to string a ribbon through and wear as a necklace. It's so pretty! I love it!

From there, we drove north to the town of Encinitas. It's one of our favorite places in San Diego and we spend a lot of time there. It's a beautiful little town with gorgeous beaches, beautiful weather and a great vibe. It's hard to explain. We just feel really good when we're there.

We walked around some little shops and had dinner at a fancy little Italian restaurant (I didn't notice the name). It was good! I had potato dumplings filled with spinach and ricotta and it was covered with a sage cream sauce. Yum! Hubby had butternut squash gnoccis with scallops, shrimp and some kind of tomato/cream sauce. It was really tasty! My daughter had penne with artichoke hearts and prosciutto. We enjoyed some delicious wines as well. It was a small, pretty restaurant with dim lighting and a comfortable feel. There was even a doggy laying on the floor next to one of the customers with his own little bowl of food. So cute.

One of the little treasures in town is the La Paloma Theatre. It's been around since 1928 and keeps on going. That's pretty special these days. It doesn't seem to have been remodeled or modernized. How it looks now seems to be how it's always been. It's like stepping back in time. It's a bit magical. We love to see shows there!

For years we've seen on the marque that George Winston performs there every January. We've talked about going but never got around to checking into it. This year, my husband surprised me with tickets. He bought them in November for my birthday. What a sweetheart! We were pretty lucky to get tickets because we heard it sold out pretty quickly.

We have some George Winston CD's that I love. I especially love listening to them when we go camping. His music is so happy, relaxing, and uplifting all at the same time. We were excited to see the man behind the sound. It turns out that he's a VERY quiet man...a man of very few words. But, he sure is talented. He even plays the guitar and the harmonica...verrry well!

We all had a very nice day! Turning 50 has been a little emotional but it's actually starting out pretty well! :-)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Souper Soup

I made some soup last night that was super flavorful and delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I definitely want to make it again. So, I need to note what I used and how I did it. I'll do that here so I can share the recipe and easily pull it up whenever I want to use it. The inspiration came from a recipe my husband found online. I wrote down the ingredients I didn't have and went shopping. I found some of the ingredients but had to substitute others. When it came time to make it, I couldn't find where he'd saved the recipe. So, I winged it. Here's what I used and how I made it...


1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 small to medium onion finely chopped
olive oil
1 49 1/2 ounce can of chicken stock
1 28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes broken up (don't use the juice)
1 15 ounce can of kidney beans drained and rinsed (the original recipe called for canellini but I couldn't find any)
2 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced into pieces
1 bunch of Swiss chard sliced lengthwise and then into strips (the recipe called for
collards but I couldn't find these either)
Fresh Basil finely chopped (I used a frozen cube of it I had made from my summer basil plants)
Parmesan Cheese finely grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a large pan on medium high, add few tablespoons of olive oil and the onion and cook until almost caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so for the flavors to bloom and mellow but don't let it brown. Stir in the chicken stock. Add and stir in the tomatoes, kidney beans, zucchini, Swiss chard, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle and stir in some Parmesan cheese, a little at a time so it doesn't clump, maybe a quarter cup or more. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy!

I'm not sure if I used all the ingredients that were in the original recipe, how many things I changed or how different my amounts were. I know the original called for prosciutto but I left that out. We were amazed at how flavorful and delicious this soup was. I wanted to just keep eating and eating but it was very filling. I'll definitely make it again and probably soon. If you try it, let me know what you think or what changes you make. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kool Kolors

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I decided to play around with some Kool Aid and yarn. We divided an eight ounce skein of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool yarn into two skeins and got started.

I wanted a solid blue yarn. My daughter decided to go for multi colored yarn. She mixed colors in three different jars, yellow, green and blue/green and set them into a large pot of water. Each color was customized by mixing various flavors. She carefully placed sections of the yarn into the jars. She dipped the in-between sections into color for short periods of time and moved it around to give gradual change to the colors and avoid white sections.

We cooked our yarn until all the color was gone and then a little longer to set it. We then turned the stove off and let our yarn skeins cool before washing and rinsing them. Sudden temperature changes could lead to felting and we wanted to avoid that. It's so cool how all the color gets absorbed into the yarn. I'm not sure why the water becomes white/milky though.

I had planned to make a darker, more denim type of blue but wasn't able to find the flavor I needed. This turquoise is very pretty though.

My daughter's yarn turned out gorgeous! She had so much fun and was so excited to see that it turned out exactly as she had hoped.

Such pretty colors...

We just couldn't stop taking pictures of it...

Even Duchess likes it...well...maybe not the colors, but she liked how it moved as we wound it into a ball.


We can see how dying yarn could be addicting! We're already thinking of more colors and combinations we want to try. Kool!

Ups, Downs and Moving Forward

Life was so crazy last year! I don't know how to describe it except for full, busy, big celebrations, changes, lots of family gatherings, and loss. A lot of loss. I was so ready for the new year and a fresh start. One of my biggest hopes was for everyone to stay healthy and that we would see no more loss in my family for a long time.

I lost three uncles and a cousin in about a year. That was too much. Then, my uncle Jim went into the hospital just after Thanksgiving. It was such a roller coaster of almost losing him several times and improvement and then back downhill. I spent many hours on the phone trying to keep relatives informed of his progress and changes that were taking place on a daily basis. Christmas came and went and then we entered the new year. He seemed to be doing better. In fact, he had moved to a nursing home and was sitting up, eating and even had a haircut just hours before his body shut down and he passed away.

So much sadness. But, in sadness there are always blessings and I've been trying to keep my mind on those. Like, the opportunity to spend more time with cousins I so rarely saw for many years while we raised our families. Getting to know them and their kids more has been wonderful. We're hoping that the next time we all get together it will be under MUCH happier circumstances.

Christmas was squeezed in there somehow and we made it through. Whew! Weirdest one yet! We never even decorated the Christmas tree. My husband and daughter put it up. Hubby put the lights on it. One strand of lights went out and my daughter fixed it. But, it never got decorated. Well...until a day or so before Christmas when I decided to set the Christmas cards in the branches. Not bad! It actually looked kind of nice. Few decorations sure made for easy clean up!

Then, my birthday was coming up. And, not any birthday. It was the big 50! Yikes! I've been emotional and grumpy and feeling the need to make lots of changes. Maybe it's that mid life crisis thing I've heard about. I've been thinking of things I've done, things I haven't, things I want to do or should do, changes I want to make, and where I want to go from here.

My husband and I talked for many months about doing something big for my birthday. We had thought about going to Utah, Mammoth, Tahoe, Wyoming...somewhere new, far and fun for a ski vacation. But, we never decided on anything. It's a good thing because many ski resorts don't have much snow right now. So, we went to our local mountains to ski at Snow Summit in Big Bear. It turned out to be a great day! Snow Summit actually has some of the better conditions of many resorts right now and the day couldn't have been more perfect. The weather was clear, sunny and in the 40's. The snow was great! And, there was hardly anyone there that day. We had a great time. It was not only thrilling to be skiing at 50 (gee, that sounds weird!) but, also, to be skiing better than ever. Yee Haa! My hope is that I'll still be doing this at 80...and beyond!

Even though skiing on my birthday was great and I spent it with my two favorite people in the world, hubby and daughter, I was teary eyed at the end of the day. I think I had built up my expectations of this big day to something that I'm not even sure what it would have looked like. I just know that a normal ski day and the lousy restaurant we ate at wasn't it.

Maybe I was just emotional over the number. I still feel so young and even though I want to grow old, very old, I'm not ready for these bigger numbers. I wasn't prepared to see the wrinkles on my face the day before my birthday that I'd never seen before. I keep reminding myself of all the people I've seen on Oprah over the years who said life just keeps getting better and better. They're right, it does. It's just so much that comes with it that I want to do without. Seeing my aging relatives and what they're going through is hard. Losing them is hard. Knowing that someday this amazing life will end is hard. It brings tears to my eyes to think about the little girl I was is now 50. I'm hoping I'll start feeling better about this number and soon!

Maybe I'll just tell myself that 50 is the new 30...is that how it would go? I won't stand too close to the mirror...that way I won't see the wrinkles. I'll keep a smile on my face, my feet moving, my mind dreaming, and keep moving forward. Everyone seems to be healthy right now and we'll hope it stays that way for a long time. Because....I'm ready for a fabulous 2012!!!

I've been cleaning out cupboards and closets, rearranging, getting ready to redecorate parts of the house, and planning new projects. Trying to look at things from different angles and in different ways. I've even applied to go back to school! Yikes! I'm not even totally sure what I want to be when I grow up! I've been so many things but haven't found "it". But, I'll keep looking and trying new things. I just don't want to get to the end of my life and regret anything. I want to live my life to the fullest!

Here's to life, a great year, great health, dreams and moving forward!

P.S. Ok...everyone's entitled to a little wine now and then...mine's just spelled a little different in this post..."whine". If you made it through the whole post...thanks for stopping by, staying a while, and for your support. Everyone needs friends...even in blogland. Cheers! :-) I promise that the next post will be a LOT more fun!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I'm so frustrated right now. I've been trying to finish a vest that I started a year and a half ago. The pattern is cute and is suppose to be easy. It started off great. I knitted the front, the back, seamed the shoulders, picked up stitches for ribbing on the v-neck and was almost finished with that when I noticed a little hole at each shoulder. Wanting to know what I had done wrong so I could fix it or, at least, not make the same mistake on the next one, I asked some sweater knitters at a yarn shop for advice. They told me not to worry about it and to just make a little stitch on the inside to close up each of the two little holes. Not satisfied, because I really wanted to learn how to do it right, I set out to fix it myself. I ended up making it worse...a lot worse. I put it in time-out!

The next time I worked on it, I ripped out the ribbing, part of the back and one shoulder, knitted back up, seamed the shoulder back and started working on the v-neck ribbing again. This time, the ribbing at the bottom of the "V" wasn't working out. I tinked back trying to fix it when part of the front started raveling out near the "V" and made a big hole. It was ravelling out where I had added new yarn to knit that side but failed to tie it off to prevent this kind of problem. I learned my lesson on that but I had no idea how to fix it other than ripping AGAIN! Ugh! Frustrated, I put it in time-out, again.

Now, as I'm trying to get it back to the point of seaming the shoulder again so I can do the ribbing, it's so messed up that I don't even know what to do. It seems like I may have made a mistake on the armhole of the other side. Plus, it's turning out too long before I decrease to the 18 stitches I'm suppose to have. Does all of this sound confusing? That's probably because I'm really confused at this point.

I could just rip the front out again, down to the "V" and try one more time. I'm just afraid that I could do all that only to have problems with the ribbing again. Maybe this project is just cursed or not meant to be and the best thing to do is to rip it all out, wind the yarn into balls, and choose another project. I feel like crying! I really wanted this vest!

To rip or not to rip...that is the question. What should I do?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Delightful Doilies

I'm happy to share that all of the gifts I made and gave this Christmas were hits. Everyone seems to love them. That always feels great! I enjoyed making them and I like that some of them helped me do a little de-stashing of fabric and yarn.

These three doilies were no exception. I used yarn from my stash for all of them.

I used patterns from booklets I had for thread crochet doilies. They worked great with larger yarn and larger hooks. I made a few modifications to this one to eliminate some of the bulky texture of clusters and to make it so I could complete it with one, 120 yard ball of yarn. If I make this one again, I'll use an "H" hook instead of an "I" so it will be a little tighter. But, it turned out pretty. Not sure what happened to this photo. It looks a little squashed. I don't remember it looking like that. Maybe I goofed a little in my blocking. Ooops! But, the recipient loved it and had plans right away of where she was going to put it.

I forgot to measure them but I think they all turned out to be about 12"-14" wide/across. I like the pattern I used on the next two. It's a little more frilly and didn't need much modification. This white one was made with about 107 yards of KoolSpun Cotton. I liked working with this yarn. It was softer than Sugar N Cream.

This red one was made with a 120 yard ball of Sugar N Cream. The person I'm giving this one to hasn't gotten it yet. But, I have a feeling she'll love it because red is her favorite color. I can picture it in her kitchen that has so many other red things in it.

That makes three happy people...plus me. And, that's three less balls of yarn in my stash.