Sunday, October 4, 2015

Autumn Projects

 This time of year always inspires me to make things.  Last weekend I made a batch of apple butter.

Six pounds of apples cooking away in apple cider.

Then run through the food mill after the apples are soft.

Back in the pot to reduce after adding sugar and spices.

Finally, canning in half-pint jars.  All I can say is "Yum!!"

Apples aren't the only autumn favorite.  There is also pumpkin.  This morning Blake and I made pumpkin pancakes.  We drizzled a little glaze on them.   The recipe made enough for us to have through the week for breakfast.

I finished Ed's socks and gave them to him for our anniversary.  After I finished them, Blake tried them on for size.  Other than the pointy toe, he loved them and asked for a pair.  I'll have to try to get them done for Christmas for him.

The Custom Fit cardi is moving along.  The back and right front are done.  The left front is nearly finished.  To make sure I do the sleeves the same I am going to knit them at the same time.  I had hoped to get this finished by my trip to Rhinebeck, but it won't happen.  I'll just have to go to Rhinebeck next year.

As you may have noticed, I have trouble being project-monogamous. Yesterday I cast on for the Wandering Moon Knit-Along by Michelle Hunter (aka Knit Purl Hunter).  I love the yarn.  HiKoo is so soft!  This looks to be a fun project. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Season of Changes

Summer will be officially over soon.  The school routine is back and I'm starting to think about the future. There are a lot of changes coming soon.  It is appropriate that it will soon be autumn, the season the most dramatic changes.  We've taken Blake on a few college visits.  Now we need to get working on his applications.  Kristin has several dental school interviews lined up.  Trisha has started her clinicals.  Ed has done some goose hunting and will be off to Chattanooga for another Ironman triathlon.  I'm working on several projects and trying not to focus too hard on how many days I have left to work.  (Eight weeks from this past Friday for those who are counting.)

Trisha's lab coat has been tailored.  I shortened the sleeves and the hem as much as possible.  I think it turned out well.

The other morning when I was leaving for work I noticed this beautiful cloud.  It made me think of wool roving.  I had to fight the urge to call off for the day and pull out my spinning wheel.

I finished the Java socks.  These are getting tucked away now to give to Trisha for Christmas.

My "take-along" project is now a pair of socks for Ed.  I'm trying the afterthought heel technique.  We'll see how they turn out.  I hope to gift these for our anniversary in a couple weeks.

I also would love to have the Custom Fit sweater done by mid-October.  A couple of my sisters and I are planning on going to Rhinebeck.  I would love to have this sweater to wear there.  At the rate I knit, though, I doubt I'll have it finished.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Decision Made

I didn't mean to be away so long.  Honestly, I don't know where the time has gone.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a big decision to make.  I decided to take the retirement offer.  I will be leaving my job sometime in November.  The plan is to take the holidays off and then find a job in January.  I feel very good about my decision. In fact, I don't have a single ounce of angst. A friend tells me I should be at least a little worried, but I don't agree.  Ed and I put a lot of thought into this decision.  It is the right thing to do.

The week before having to make the decision, we took a vacation to Florida.  It was very relaxing.  The mornings were spent on the balcony reading a book and drinking tea.

In the evenings we went out for dinner and then explored a little of Orlando.  We didn't go into any of the theme parks, but we did visit Downtown Disney (terribly under-construction!!!), Universal's shopping district in front of the park and Disney's Boardwalk.  It is a tradition to spend an evening walking around the lake at Disney's Boardwalk and then watching the Epcot fireworks.  It was a beautiful evening with dramatic clouds.

After coming back home, it was "Back to School" time.  The girls headed back to their colleges and Blake got ready for his senior year of high school.

Here's Trisha in her lab coat.  She will begin clinical rotations this year.  I have a bit of hemming to do on her lab coat.  Believe it or not, this is an extra-small!

Here is Blake's last "First Day of School" picture.  This is bittersweet.  It is a great picture of him, but I'm sad to see my baby grow up.  The smile on his face is genuine.  He was very excited to head back to school.  He loves his classes and is going to have a great year.

Kristin sent me a "Last First Day" picture.  She is a senior in college and will be wrapping up her undergraduate work this year.  She is in the process of applying to dental schools.  So far two of the 7 she applied to have asked her to come for interviews. She's hoping for at least three more interviews.  We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Many of my weekends are still spent traveling to Cincinnati to visit my mom.  She is in a nursing home now and is showing a few signs of dementia.  Her personality is volatile and I never know what attitude I will encounter when I visit.  Some visits are emotionally difficult while others are very pleasant.  No matter how she is I still treasure every minute I have with her.

The weather for the past week or so has been in a very tropical pattern.  The days are hot and humid with thunderstorms popping up late in the day.  Below is a cloud with a rainbow coming out of the bottom that I saw while coming back from Cincinnati last weekend.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but the rainbow was very vibrant.

On the craft front I'm trying to finish up a couple UFOs.  The first is the Jenny's Faith shawl.  I just recently realized that I am using the wrong size crochet hook.  It will end up being smaller than planned,  more like a neck scarf than a shawl.  I was wondering why I wasn't using up the yarn as fast as I thought.  The pattern called for two skeins but I'm still on my first.  Then I reread the directions and discovered my mistake.  After I block it out a little it should be fine.

I'm also trying to get these socks finished.  These will get set aside to give as a Christmas gift.

I'm not sure what I'll pick up after these are finished.  There are so many UFOs still hanging around.  But there are also so many fun projects to start.  Time will tell.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Big Decision To Make

 Not a lot of knitting or sewing got done this week.  In fact, productivity was down all around.  I've been preoccupied with a big decision to make.  My place of employment is going to offer an early retirement package.   I have been at the same company for over 31 years.  I started there while in college, working as an intern.  I spent 18 years on the revenue generating side of the company and now work on the support side in the corporate IT group.  

The package may amount to a substantial sum of money, but it won't be enough to truly retire.  If I took the package, I would have to roll everything over to a tax-deferred account and find another job. I would love to go into a life of leisure, but that has to wait another 10-15 years.  Maybe.

When considering the package, I keep coming back to the thought that the timing feels right.  Over the past year or two I haven't been entirely happy with my job anymore.  I don't enjoy what I do anymore and I don't feel as if my contributions are valued.  If I stay at work I run the risk of getting laid off anyway. It is no secret that if the company doesn't get the number they want through voluntary departures they will implement involuntary actions.  Or, if I stay and not get involuntary terminated, I will be assigned to a project that I don't want to work on.

The answer seems pretty clear.  The only remaining question is finding another job.  People tell me that I could be successful as a consultant.  Being a consultant, however, may involve travelling away from home during the week.  Now that my children are older, I don't need to be at home so much.  The girls are in college and Blake will be heading out in a year.

Stay tuned for further developments.  My decision will be made by mid-August.

But before then, I am enjoying the last few days of having all of my children home.  Both girls will be moving during the second week of August into their apartments for the next school year.  Before they go, I'm enjoying as much family time as possible.   Last night we went for ice cream to a shoppe we hadn't visited in several years.  We got to see an incredible sunset while we waited in line.

This morning I decided to make a treat for breakfast.  This is a berry puff pancake.  This is an adaptation of this recipe.  I substituted vanilla for the lemon zest, added strawberries and blackberries and made it all in a flan dish since I don't have a cast iron skillet.  I melted the butter in the dish as it heated in the oven.  Once the butter was melted and the oven was preheated, I brushed the dish with melted butter and poured in the batter.  I scattered the berries around and popped it in the oven.  After 20 minutes it came out looking like a dream.

Kristin agreed that it was delicious.  The recipe is adaptable.  We may try it next time with some fresh peaches.  Yum!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Trying to Remember

Months ago I pushed the Basic Cardi into hibernation.  I had the back finished and had started on the right front.  I was trying to keep up progress with my niece's shawl and put a moratorium on any other knitting until I had gotten it done.  When I came out from under that, I wasn't in the mood to do something so plain.  I had gotten used to following charts and the ever-changing stitches.  To satisfy my craving I started a pair of socks and a crescent scarf.

I finished the scarf.  I don't have the ends woven in yet.  Nor have I blocked it.  It's been tossed aside for the moment.

The socks thrilled me for one sock, but the second sock has been a bit of a struggle.

While hunting for fabric for the parrot head block, I found the Basic Cardi.  It got moved into a visible spot where it has sat for the past 3 weeks.  I'd occasionally pull it out of the bag, look at the stitches and tell myself that I'll get back to it soon.

When "soon" came Friday.  I sat down expecting to pick up where I left off and be on my way.  No such luck.  I remember why I stopped where I did.  The pattern gets very confusing at this point.  The pattern is a Custom Fit pattern.  Since it is built from a formula, the waist shaping, neckline shaping and the armhole are all discussed separately.  I had to read through the entire instructions and plot out what each section was telling me to do, then correlate them into a single set of row by row instructions.  My first attempt at doing this on Friday ended in total frustration.  I tried again Saturday morning, but realized I didn't have enough caffeine in my blood to tackle it.  Finally, last night after dinner, and a very small glass of wine to ease the anxiety, I got the pattern figured out.  I'm back to knitting.  I'll try not to toss this aside again.  Stay tuned for future updates.