Knit, Knit, Purl, and Read

I’ve accomplished one of my goals for the year! A lingering project has been completed. It only took 3 (I think) years. You would not believe the size of this afghan. Or the weight. It’s knitted with two strands of yarn at a time, both blue and red, and it makes a nice, thick blanket. I can comfortably cover up all the way from my toes to my neck! I’m short, though, so that might not be saying much! Luna seems to be enjoying it. (Not as much as she’s apparently been enjoying the couch whenever we leave the house. Hair left behind as evidence: Sorry, Luna, you need to do a better job covering up your crime.)

DSCN2068.JPGI’ve not posted anything in several days. Not because I haven’t been reading. I have. Not because I haven’t completed any books. I have. I haven’t posted because internet service was sketchy all last week. Dial-up would have been faster. Seriously. I’m not kidding. We’re blaming cloud cover. I’m just thankful the clouds are gone, sort of, and we’ve seen a bit of the sun today.

As to my other crafty goals, the Jesus cross-stitch saw some progress. The quilt, however, not so much. Well, actually nothing at all. I thought about working on it, but I just didn’t want to. I started a new quilt instead. (While another one hangs out on the back of a chair waiting for me to quilt it!) I am the queen of works-in-progress. I did finish a pair of sleep shorts, though.

As to books, I finished my fourth and fifth books for 2017, and rather than write a post about each of them in this time of dodgy internet service, I will write about both during this break in cloud cover that could go away at any moment!

DSCN2062.JPGNumber 4 was Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich. It was classic Evanovich. Though, is it just me or is she actually using a few less swear words? I’m not complaining, just making an observation. I laughed out loud a few times while reading this book, so that’s always a sign of a good book. I’m still wondering how much longer Rex the hamster is going to live. I’m no hamster expert (though we did have two as pets years ago), but I’m fairly certain this one has lived way longer than is normal.

Book #5 was Nobody’s Baby But  Mine. This was another Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. If you recall from last year, I’ve developed a fondness for books by her. This one was as enjoyable as all the rest. DSCN2063.JPG

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If the author sounds bored reading their own book…

Rain, ice, slippery roads…this past week has been “Pure Michigan” joy. We headed to town on Tuesday (because eldest had to get to a college class and there was no way we were letting her drive–otherwise we wouldn’t have gone anywhere) and saw three cars off the side of the road. A plow truck got stuck. Just as the ice is starting to melt, another bout of freezing rain is heading our way tomorrow! Yippee! Perhaps I should shine up the ice skates and use those to get to town.

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made on at least some of the goals that I’ve set for myself for this year. I’ve taken off 5 pounds since Christmas. Yeah! No fancy diet, no change in exercise required. I still workout for around an hour most mornings. I still eat a lot of food. What I’m not doing, is eating a lot of sugary goodness. I’m still eating treats, but I’ve finally come to a point where I’m telling myself that I want to be healthy and get these few pounds off more than I want that extra cookie (or two or…five). So I’m currently left with about four pounds to go. (If I was really ambitious, I might go for also losing those five remaining pounds of pregnancy weight…but they’ve hung around since 2003, so I’ve grown quite attached!)

Progress has been made on the knitted blanket I previously mentioned. I believe that I’m dealing with a never ending skein of yarn. The blanket keeps growing, an inch at a time each night that I work on it, but the remaining tangle of yarn doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. I’ve also worked a bit on the Jesus cross-stitch. I would make faster progress if it wasn’t being done on midnight blue linen. I literally have to sit under a light in order to see anything! I also completed the pajama pants and have made good progress on the pajama shorts. No point rushing on those…won’t need them for months yet!

Now, on to the reading goal…

Book #3 of 2017, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, has been completed.

DSCN2061.JPGYou might have guessed from the title of this post that I wasn’t a fan. I may have liked it more (though “like” might be a strong word for feelings toward a book about Alzheimer’s), had I read it rather than listened to it. No offense to the author, just some constructive criticism here: If you sound bored reading your own book, the reader is also likely to be bored. This audiobook really made me appreciate the ones that are read well. I like it when the readers use different voices for the characters. It makes it easier to follow the story. Even a little inflection here and there is nice. With this one, you get nothing. (Except, perhaps, the feeling that you might have Alzheimer’s. By the end I was starting to think that I had Alzheimer’s as  I couldn’t remember the name and address the doctor kept wanting Alice to remember.) All of that said, I do believe the book addressed the challenges the patient and their families face when presented with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Pillows, Projects, and a Book

DSCN2057.JPGWhile the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside is so delightful, I’ve been attacking projects that I’ve been meaning to get to for some time. You many remember that I mentioned something a few weeks ago about setting goals for 2017. Well, I’ve set a few goals for myself…nothing too lofty. Some of them have to do with crafty projects that I’ve been neglecting for various reasons, some have to do with increasing my level of fitness (I like that better than setting a goal to lose those five….aka eight…pounds that need to go), and some are about spending wisely and saving more. Here’s to hoping I’ll succeed!

As to my crafty project goals, I’m making it my mission this year to finish a queen-size quilt I started when I was pregnant with Eldest. I’m embarrassed to say that was 18 years ago. What, you might ask, has kept me from finishing it when I’ve finished numerous other quilts in those 18 years? The answer is simple. I don’t want to quilt it! It’ll probably be too big to quilt with the machine, I don’t want to quilt it by hand, and I refuse to pay someone else to quilt it. But, this year is the year it will be completed. Really. I mean it. I mean it more than I meant it several years ago when I made it my goal to finish it then. I’ve also got a cross-stitch project in the works: Jesus in Gethsemane. He’s been languishing in an unfinished state for some time now, but after putting in a few hours over the past week on that project, I’m seeing some good progress. Finally, I’ve had a red and blue afghan in the works for a couple years…that’s getting completed this year also.

So, in an effort to avoid working on the things I need to work on, I made pillows! Three lovely pillows to match a quilt that I finished last year. Check them out in the above photo. I took the same block and mixed it up a bit to get three different pillows. I love them! They make me feel like I’m at the beach even while the snow flies outside. (I also finished up two more Christmas ornaments, another quilt top, a table runner top, cut out a pair of sleep pants and a pair of sleep shorts, shortened a pair of jeans because I can’t buy anything the right length, and got a back cut out for and pinned to a baby blanket…all this in the past two weeks! Yippee!)

I’ve been listening to an audiobook in the sewing room and have nearly completed it. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. (And believe me, I’ve got plenty to say!) For now, though, my second finish for 2017 is Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts. This is book two in the Guardians Trilogy.

You may remember that I had a difficult time getting into the first book in this trilogy last year. The same was true for book two. I thought I was never going to finish reading this book! I’m usually such a fan of Nora Roberts. I think this book has too many “fantasy” elements to it. I believe that’s the proper word.  It’s got a werewolf, a fellow that can travel from place to place with just a compass, an immortal, a mermaid, a seer, and a magician. Plus, there’s a demon and a crazy witch-like lady (using “lady” loosely here). Not being a big fan of “fantasy,” I think this was just too much for me! I’m certain I’ll read the third book simply because I can’t read only two of the three, but I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it about as much. One thumb up for this one, one thumb down.

 

 

A sad good-bye & the first book of 2017

DSCN2046.JPGThe beginning of 2017 was full of sadness at our home. We were forced to make the difficult decision to say good-bye to our favorite cat, Buster. As with kids, I’m sure you shouldn’t pick favorites when it comes to your pets, but Buster was everyone’s favorite.

As a young cat, Buster enjoyed “fetching” socks. This involved a lot of loud “talking” and a lot of depositing socks wherever he felt they should be located. He loved chasing socks down the hall if someone would throw them. He liked taking crocheted Easter eggs out of a basket and “hiding” them around the house. He especially loved it when the Easter baskets were out on the top of the piano, giving him a cozy place to nap. If I shrieked over a spider, he would come to “defend” me. He was the boss cat of the family, and all the other cats (and the dog) knew it!

In recent years, he spent his time napping, often squishing into a bed with one of the other cats even if they didn’t want to share. He did laps around the kitchen…slow, slow laps with his little claws clicking away. I think he enjoyed sneaking up behind me when I was cooking, hoping that I would accidentally trip over him, so I would apologize profusely and give him a hug.

Saying good-bye was so incredibly difficult. But, he had grown horribly thin and blood work did not reveal why, his legs were stiff with age, he stopped purring, and it just seemed like it was time to end his suffering. He was a part of our lives for nearly 15 1/2 years, having been a rescue from the animal shelter when he was just a kitten. He’d been a member of the family longer than youngest son has been alive.

DSCN2050.JPGIt almost seems fitting that Finish #1 for 2017 is a book about growing old. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrick Backman gives insight into the mind of an elderly man, a mind that is giving out long before his body, leaving him forgetting more and more each day. This was a short book, a novella really, but I think there was a lot of meaning packed into the pages. I plan to read some of Backman’s other books this year if I can find them. A Man Called Ove was actually in my library basket last year, but I didn’t get to it. I’ll have to rectify that in 2017.

 

 

2016 Top Ten Books (according to me)

Happy New Year! As I sit here enjoying my glass of non-alcoholic, sparkling white grape juice, I thought it was a good time to revisit the books I’ve read over the past year. Well, not the actual books themselves…just a list of all 100 of them. Some books on the list were entirely forgettable, some were simply delightful, some left me thinking a bit more deeply. From this list I created another list.

So, here it is, in no particular order, my new list:

Top Ten Favorites for 2016

  1. The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
  2. After the Wind by Lou Kasischke
  3. Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves
  4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  5. 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr
  6. Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
  7. Giovanni’s Light by Phyllis Theroux
  8. The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline
  9. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie
  10. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

And, because I’ve shared so many photos this year, I decided to share my favorite from the year here:

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