Ten on Tuesday: 5 + 5 Edition

Carole asked to hear about five things we enjoyed this summer and five things we’re looking forward to this summer. The pickle will be limiting each part of the list to only five, but here goes:


  1. I enjoyed my family reunion road trip in May. I had the pleasure of visiting with cousins I hadn’t seen in around 20 years, and the road trip included a stop in Cleveland (and lunch with the ever-inspiring Shannon), and a sojourn in PA to see Kentuck Knob and Falling Water. Wow. Wow. What amazing homes!
  2. I enjoyed a day at the beach. Alas, only one, but a good long dip in the ocean melts away my worries and anxieties. Maybe next summer I’ll get there more often!
  3. I enjoyed developing my sewing skills. I sewed a LOT this summer, and I learned from every single project. Details on those garments soon.
  4. I enjoyed the beautiful foods of summer, like strawberries, tomatoes warm from the sun, blueberries, and more tomatoes.
  5. I enjoyed long, lovely days and evenings on the porch, especially when it was filled with good conversation, stitching, and music.
  6. I’m looking forward to soups: tomato, butternut squash, potato leek, all made with bounty from the summer that’s waiting in my freezer to warm the cooler evenings of autumn.
  7. I’m looking forward to brisk air and colorful leaves while I hike the dogs in our woods.
  8. I’m looking forward to wearing cozy new sweaters I’ve been stitching.
  9. I’m looking forward to making so many projects from the newly-released Drop Dead Easy Knits–I swear, every project is calling my name (Keynote Pullover is up next for me!)
  10. I’m looking forward to Rhinebeck. I can’t wait to see all my favorite peeps in October!

How about you? What did you enjoy this summer? What are you looking forward to this fall?

Ten on Tuesday: Holiday Weekend Edition

waterThe long weekend seemed longer than usual! Carole asked about weekend fun, so here’s my list:

  1. Visited Shakespeare’s First Folio at Amherst College. Yup, Folger Library created a project that sends First Folios all around the country. You can see when it is visiting a space near you on their tour list. I sorta want a concert shirt for this one.
  2. Got hissed at by an opossum while hiking with Oskar and Coco. (I hate that this one is being laughed at, but I wanted you to understand the experience. So let’s pretend it isn’t in a cage and that both human and dogs are walking away with Great Respect.)
  3. Reached day 150 of daily (at home) yoga practice. I am so glad Sarah told me about Yoga with Adriene. I really love Adriene’s practices and sense of humor.
  4. Cut out a Sorbetto tank. The pattern is well written and free! It’s great for any level, and cool variations abound.
  5. Made the yummy Smitten Kitchen broccoli slaw. Even though I did not win a prize with it at my recent family reunion, it is a prize-worthy dish!
  6. Napped.
  7. Picked out my yarn for the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2016–I’ll share my pick in another post. Are you joining in on this annual delight?
  8. Sipped cold beverages on the porch. I did not, though, have my first G&T of the season. Maybe next weekend. Honestly, it was so hot so quickly that all I wanted was water!
  9. Visited…a working visit with my MotherShould? co-editor, an impromptu visit with my friend Leah during which we talked about poetry (I’m still writing it–nearly done with my second round of Rananim workshops with Sawnie Morris), an informative visit with my folks–my aunt has created a beautiful family history album, and she sent dad a chunk of it that includes some great pictures, and a fun visit with my mother-in-law, who loves to laugh, just like her son does!
  10. Picked out the dress I’m going to make for my brother’s wedding in September. Let’s just say Alabama Chanin had a sale, and I snapped up supplies! It’s a good thing Vicki had her color cards at the ready to help me figure out what I wanted!

How about you? What fun did you have this weekend?

Ten on Tuesday: Dessert Edition

pieNothing to get me back in the blogging groove like an invitation to talk dessert! Carole asked for Ten Favorite Desserts, and I figured with summer on the verge–which means Open Porch Wednesday on the verge–which means a weekly excuse to make lovely desserts–I’m bound to find some great new ideas by reading everyone’s posts today!  Here are my faves (for summer, natch):

  1. Smitten Kitchen’s Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake (it’s from her cookbook, but the link is to the recipe). Once local blueberries ripen, this cake is my go-to. It’s super easy to make and, if there should be leftovers, is amazing the next day!
  2. Cherry Clafoutis. I use Julia Child’s recipe. I pit the cherries, though friends who grew up in France claim they ought not to be pitted. Adding almond extract replaces the flavor the pits render.
  3. Homemade ice cream. I splurged on the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid a few years back and have never regretted it. I usually make vanilla (with my homemade vanilla extract) and add fresh fruit toppings. Sometimes I get fancy and make sugar cookie cups to serve it in!
  4. Sour Cream Lemon Pie. I cut out the recipe from my paper years ago–if you want it, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. It requires turning on the oven, but only long enough to set the pie. It is so refreshing on a hot evening!
  5. Fresh berries. Really, isn’t that what summer is about? Just pick, wash, cut as needed, and eat!
  6. Watermelon, Lime and Mint salad. I rough chop the melon, cut a bunch of mint from my garden, and squeeze a lime or two over it all.
  7. Green Smoothie. I know, it sounds too healthy to be dessert. I make a basic one: 2 cups water, 2 cups baby spinach, 1 large ripe banana, 1 cup mango, 1 cup pineapple, lots of powdered ginger. Super delicious and satisfying.
  8. Homemade Popsicles. This cucumber mint recipe looks like one to try this summer!
  9. Lemon Bundt Cake. I like this with raspberries or blueberries and a touch of fresh whipped cream!
  10. Cherry Pie. I don’t have the pie making chops Carole does, but I’m working on it! In the summer, cherry is my fave. I’ll be making rhubarb pie (no strawbs) for my dad soon, and if my oldest brother is coming over, I’ll bake blueberry. Pie with fresh fruit in it always rocks!

How about you? What are your favorite (summer) desserts?

Ten on Tuesday: Favorite Things Edition

bookI do love lists of favorite things–both writing my own and reading yours–so when Carole sent out this week’s Ten on Tuesday prompt, excitement abounded!

  1. Yoga with Adriene. After too many years away from a regular home yoga practice, my friend Sarah suggested I might like these videos. Adriene is generous with free videos and does a really good job explaining poses in a way that means I often don’t have to look at the video. She’s funny, too.
  2. UNM’s Rananim online writing workshop. I’m taking poetry with Sawnie Morris. My original intention was to develop poetry skills to write better prose (the poets always write the prettiest sentences, don’t they?), but here’s what I learned: I love writing poetry! If you’ve been wanting to take an online writing workshop, I recommend Rananim. The next semester starts in April. Join me?
  3. Better Call Saul. Did you love Breaking Bad as much as I did? My vet recommended Better Call Saul, and we tore through it during the deep freeze weekend recently.
  4. Alabama Chanin Host a Party. I’ve gathered together a group of awesome stitchers who are going to sew swing skirts with me. The lovely folks at Alabama Chanin answered about a zillion questions from me and made organizing the party a breeze. I can’t wait for us to start stitching!
  5. Wurm hats in Stonehedge Fiber Mill Crazy. Last week I met up with Gale at Knit New Haven, saw a few Wurms (New Haven’s au courant knitting project) in Crazy and succumbed. You should probably call and order a skein.
  6. Strommen Bruk Hamar sewing box. I bought a small one–probably for a child–on ebay last year. It traveled down from Maine and was in rough shape. Earlier this month Neal made restoring it his project. I nearly swoon every time I open it!
  7. A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman. Even if you’re not into drawing and nature journaling, the book is filled with beautifully written observations and excellent illustrations. My pal Jan recommended it to me, and I am so grateful. Hinchman’s nature journals reflect what I hope to create.
  8. Warmer air. Sure, it has been a mild winter, but it ain’t over yet. We had that snow and deep freeze last week followed by a warmer weekend. Every minute I get to sit on the stoop or porch–no matter how bundled up I am–is a favorite minute!
  9. Craftwork Somerville. I’m taking the Folk Dress workshop with dear, talented Cal, and I can’t wait. It isn’t just the awesome selection of classes, though. Amy Lou’s newsletter is chock full of cool info. You should probably sign up for it.
  10. Textillia. I joined right away as soon as the site launched and am slowly learning my way around it. Picture our beloved Ravelry for the sewing crowd.

How about you? Tell me about your favorite things!

Ten on Tuesday: More and Less Edition

Hike 2016Carole’s prompt this week is, of course, perfect for the early days of a freshly minted year: list five things you want to do more of and five things you want to do less of this year.

  1. 1. More community. Since 1992, I’ve started most years with a New Year’s hike. The location and people change, yet it remains one of my favorite activities of the year. What I love about it is the chance to get to know a variety of people, to share an adventure with them. And more of that sounds good to me!
  2. Less anxiety. Is it age? Is it circumstance? What ever the reason, more often than I like, I find myself frozen, heart pounding, palms sweating, breath short, unhelpful thoughts circling in my head. A whole lot less of that will make me happier.
  3. More spirituality. My divorce from religion left me at sea about how to embrace my inherent spirituality. The yoga and meditation practice I mentioned last week helps. A lot. Noticing helps, too, especially when I’m noticing interesting trees or patterns or creatures on my daily hike. And increasing my attention to my spirituality and beliefs makes a big difference in breaking the anxiety.
  4. Less negativity. From swearing over inconveniences that do not warrant such language to letting news headlines spiral in my head, I want to learn to reframe the negatives. Because, face it, avoiding them altogether may not be realistic.
  5. More indulging my curiosity. Curiosity is one of the core driving forces of my life, and I plan to embrace it even more. Instead of just wondering about everything from what birds are at my feeder to why language develops the way does, and then letting the thoughts pass, I’ll investigate the most interesting ones, at least a little bit.
  6. Less carelessness. Know what I spent time doing yesterday and will do again today? Pulling back ribbing from the cast-on edge of a sweater. Know why? Because I was careless and made the back ribbing longer than the two fronts and sleeves. Enough of that!
  7. Less eating sweets. Oh, boy, do I love me a cookie! Or a sliver of pie. Or…whatever it is hanging around in the treat drawer. I don’t overindulge, but I indulge with little tastes often, which I fear adds up to something close to overindulgence.
  8. More green smoothies. I started drinking green smoothies over the summer, inspired by mysmoothie lovely colleague Leah. Not regularly, though. Which is silly since they are so good and good for me. So more of them to come. Like, daily more.
  9. Less procrastination. I first wrote that as “less planning” because what I mean to say is I do a lot of thinking and dreaming about a task or project when I more often should simply start it. Sooner started, sooner done, right?
  10. More making. Last year I started along the path of a me-made wardrobe. This year I plan to make more of my clothes (and don’t worry: that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning my minimalist wardrobe, but that I’m replacing worn or no-longer-used items with those I make. And it also means that I want to make more items for our home, from potholders to curtains. And that I want to make more meals instead of ordering take out when I’m tired. Making makes me happy, so why not embrace more of it!

How about you? What do you want more and less of in 2016?

Ten on Tuesday: 2015 Review Edition

in knittingToday Carole invited me to reflect on Ten Things I did in 2015 That Made Me Feel Proud:

  1. Launched MotherShould? with my friend and colleague Catherine. I’m proud of the writing I’ve done for the site and of the content we’re getting from other writers.
  2. Revised my novel and worked with generous, smart Cari Luna to determine what to do next with it.
  3. Sent out my first agent queries. While I have no problem creating, I often fail at finding homes for my work.
  4. Took excellent care of my dogs. Losing Tilly in April was rough, but I feel proud of the care she received, right until the end. And I continue to feel proud of the almost-daily hikes I take with Oskar and Coco.
  5. Celebrated my tenth blogging anniversary–extra credit to you if you remember when I blogged at Wearing Black in New Mexico. I feel proud that I’ve kept blogging for a decade, and I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made through blogging.
  6. Got serious about sewing garments. I took two pattern drafting classes with my dear Cal (who is an amazing teacher, in person AND online!), and I made several garments. I feel proud of this new dimension to my Ethical Elegance project.
  7. Started a daily yoga and meditation practice. Okay, so this is a brand new thing that I feel proud about. And it all started because Allegra posted a picture of a mala she made. I asked her to make one for me to help me with challenges I face, and she sent me a beautiful mala, which has lit the fire for this practice in me.
  8. Developed my calligraphy skills. I have a lot to learn still, but I made a good start taking a Copperplate and an Uncial class this year. I have a multi-media poetry project in the works, and lettering is a key part of it. selfie
  9. Purged excess craft supplies. Oh, don’t you worry about my being snowed in without a new knitting project possible. This year’s birthday gift from Neal was a transformation of my office to a studio. I wanted a space not dedicated to work, but dedicated to creative play. That meant clearing out a lot of unused yarn and fabric and donating a ton (that might be literal) of books. It feels amazing to pare down my supplies and really know what I have.
  10. Maintained a daily creativity habit through my #2015 Postcard Project. I have loved making and sending the postcards all around the world, and I’ve learned a lot about techniques and media I enjoy using. Stay tuned for an entire post about all that!

Your turn. What did you do in 2015 that makes you feel proud?

Ten on Tuesday: Labor Day Weekend Edition

CSA zinnia for postcards and leeks for winter soups
CSA zinnia for painting and leeks for winter soups

This week Carole invited us to share ten things Idid this weekend. It’s the unofficial end of summer, but you wouldn’t know it by the gorgeous weather we had! Here are a few highlights:

  1. Picked up tile samples for finishing out our fireplace. This spring we purchased a fireplace insert to make using the fireplace more efficient. Our house is a one-level ranch, which means our dependence on oil should go down. Figuring out how to trick out the surround  has been a puzzle…but I think the tile samples have led to good ideas!
  2. Ate a kiwi. Neal visited his mom and brought her some of our CSA produce. She gave him some kiwis in return. I can’t remember the last time I ate one!
  3. Drank a gin and tonic, the official drink of Chez Golightly’s porch. Is it the last of the season? Maybe…maybe not!
  4. Drank the first Scottish pear of the season. You probably want to drink one, too, so here’s the recipe: 3/4 oz Glenfiddich; 3/4 oz gin; 1 1/2 oz pear nectar; 1/4 oz. lemon juice; 1/2 oz honey syrup (or agave syrup). Mix, serve over ice.
  5. Roasted tomatoes in an effort to have more summer in the freezer come winter.

    My friend Joyce said they looked like pomegranates!
    My friend Joyce said they looked like pomegranates!
  6. Hiked with Oskar. A lot.
  7. Drew and painted more postcards (you can sign up for the #2015PostcardProject and get one for yourself…I need about 75 more people to make it to the end of the year.)
  8. Purchased Frye Campus Boots. My sister had a pair with a braid down the side in the late 70s/early 80s, and at long last, I have a pair of my own. These boots are made in the USA and feel like a million bucks on!
  9. Sewed bias tape using this method Leah from Clementine recommended. I messed it up earlier in the summer, but persistence and slow stitching paid off!
  10. Sewed my first Dress No. 3 from the awesome 100 Acts of Sewing indie pattern line. The long version didn’t flatter me, so I cut it to be tunic length. I think I’m going to live in it this fall…can’t you see it with skinny jeans and Frye campus boots? I’ll be making another one that hits just above my knee.
    Dress No. 3, Oskar approve
    Dress No. 3, Oskar approve

    How about you? What did you do this weekend?

Ten on Tuesday: American Artists Edition

Two weeks ago I visited the New Britain Museum of American Art to see their Elizabeth Gage exhibit. After the dizzying glory of stunning jewelry, I took a turn around the permanent collection and was reminded of many American artists I admire. Carole‘s prompt to share ten American artists or paintings I liked is perfectly timed! Here’s a short list, in no particular order (not all of them are in the museum’s collection!).

John Singer Sargent: Oh, the stories his portraits tell!

Andrew Wyeth: so many of his paintings leave me feeling serene.

Willem de Kooning: his work scares me a little, like art should at times.

Linda Jean Fisher: Linda Jean’s work is incredible. Her dedication and precision amaze me.

Jackson Pollock: what he does to make chaos visual rocks my world. I get lost when I look at his paintings in person.

Michael Patterson: Michael’s style, so full of motion and great character development, transports me to the scenes he portrays.

Cy Twombly: the curves, the colors, the letters. Swoon!

Sol LeWitt: this conceptual artist’s work made me understand line in a way I never had before. Plus he was a Yankee, just like me!

Mark Rothko: just as Sol LeWitt made me understand line, Rothko taught me how color can come to life.

Cindy Sherman:  Her portraits provoke me!

How about you? Who are some of your favorite American artists?


Ten on Tuesday: Waiting Room Edition

Carole asked us to create a list of ten things to do in a waiting room. Here’s the thing: sometimes it’s no big deal, hanging out in a waiting room. Sometimes, though, it is a really big, nerve wracking deal.

1. Read. I always have a book on me, even if it’s on my phone. If I anticipate being anxious in the waiting room, I bring a super engrossing book.Dune

2. Knit. Duh.

3. Crochet. This is easier for me to pick up and put down, and if I’m working on something with motifs, it’s extra-portable, too.

4. Write letters. I’m a fan of hand written letters. All too often I fill my days with other activities, though, and miss the opportunity to write a letter, fold it, put it in an envelope and make a pal smile when she opens her mailbox. Writing a letter takes my mind off worries, and it makes me happier.

5. Work. During the semester, I’ll often bring papers to grade or a novel I’m editing for a client.

6. Sketch. I haven’t done this yet, but waiting rooms offer a perfect opportunity to practice sketching faces. I’m taking a few online sketching classes, and I’m inspired to use waiting room time this way.

7. Mind map. Even though I have apps for that, I prefer good old pen and paper (I’m noticing a theme). Whatever problem in my creative or teaching work needs a solution, well, waiting room time is a good time to explore it.

8. Practice breathing. If I’m waiting to go in to something that scares me (MRIs shake me up for days ahead of time), inhaling deeply, feeling my breath circle around inside my body, and exhaling while I pretend I’m an ocean wave helps. Of course, this might freak out your fellows in the waiting room. But isn’t it better to be relaxed?

9. Edit pictures. I don’t have any fancy editing programs on my computer, so if I’m going to edit, a lot of times, I’ll use an app on my iPad or iPhone. This has double benefit–I’m using time productively, and I get to smile when I see the things I enjoy in pictures.

10. Day dream. Why not embrace the inability to be any where else and day dream? I like to imagine what ifs–what if I moved back to New Mexico? What if we sold our house and drove cross country in an RV? What if we move to Maine? What if I change careers? What if we build our addition? What if I rearrange my studio?

I’m heading to the doctor today to get checked out; I arrived from Paris with some kind of lingering ick. My plan is to bring crochet, a book, and my sketchbook, just in case I have a long wait.

What do you like to do to amuse yourself in a waiting room?

Ten on Tuesday: Recently Read Edition

I can’t wait to see what every one else responding to Carole’s request for Last Ten Books Read lists. I’m building up my summer break reading list!

Here are my last ten books read (I’m not including work-related books):

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This is sweet without being saccharine. As a graduate ca. 1987, the cultural references made the book nostalgic for me, too. I would have worn this out when I was in middle school.

2. Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler. Well, I’m listening, and I’m not quite finished. It, not surprisingly, reminds me a LOT of her The Accidental Tourist, only with older characters. I’m not wowed by it, but the story telling is solid, and I’m interested in what happens to the characters.

3. Beautiful Wreck by the beautiful Larissa Brown. Read my review on Goodreads here. And read this book. I love it.

4. Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I confess to being a HUGE fan of Cather’s. Shoot, I planned a trip around seeing her house (do you like going to writers’ homes? My number one favorite touristy thing to do!) This book made me weep. I mean, the last page had me sobbing. There were sentences that made my heart beat faster.

5. How Animals Grieve by Barbara King. I’m not usually a big non-fiction fan, but this was one of the best books I read in 2013. I gave it to several people after finishing it. Fascinating subject, and an excellent model of research engaging the reader. My Goodreads review.

6. Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire. It’s cute if you like funny pictures of dogs.

7. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls. I enjoyed this, but I found it predictable at times. Still, the writing is enjoyable, and the characters about which we care the most are portrayed effectively.

8. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a good reminder to just get your damn work done.

9. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. I listened to this while I commuted and hiked my dogs. The writing left me cold, and I’m no history buff (at least of this period), so my indifference may be that I’m not the audience for the book.

10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I’m cheating. I read this last summer. But I loved it so much, and I want you to read it, too!

What have you been reading?

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