Living out-of-state has its advantages

March 26, 2005

I am separated from my mom and dad by a couple of states so I don’t get to see them very often. And I certainly don’t get a chance to go shopping with my mom so it’s something we try and do when we get together.

Today, we decided to check out the shops on Armitage and Sheffield in Chicago. Cute, trendy boutiques. I found a beautiful, unique necklace made with murano glass beads. Mom bought me matching earrings. There were great clothing boutiques and other stores with housewares. A very fun way to spend an afternoon. Then we went to the mall so I could help mom buy a birthday gift for her son-in-law and we couldn’t help but walk past the shoe display at Nordstrom. I bought myself a really cute pair of shoes; Mom bought me a pair of really cute shoes.

This is where I say living out of state has its advantages. I guess the joy of Mom being able to shop with me made her so happy she had to buy some things to commemorate the afternoon. I believe that if we shopped together more often, I’d get less stuff. While I miss my mom a lot, I certainly treasure afternoons like this. For the loot, I mean the quality time.

Jacob suggested Mom set a budget for our visits. Blasphemer! These shopping sprees are what bind a mother and daughter together. If it gives Mom pleasure to buy me things, than so be it. We’re dealing with a higher power. You can’t put a budget on that kind of delight.

On a serious note, I love my mom. And I’d love her even if she didn’t buy me stuff. When she’s ready for the old folks home, I’ll splurge for a room with a window and for an extra fifteen minutes of exercise for her.

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Ode to the Cosmopolitan

March 17, 2005

Sophisticated and half price
We sip, dishin’ and disin’,
sharing and caring,
listening and laughing.
You forgive us for singing off-key,
for the courage we won’t have later,
for the Krispy Kremes we’ll have on our way home.
Sophisticated and half price
Nothing could be better.
–by Margaret Napier

The Cosmopolitan is considered one of the most sophisticated drinks, made popular by Sex and the City. It’s not surprising for girls to get together and share a Carrie Bradshaw moment. A perfect drink for women and our many moods, it can be sweet or a little tart, strong or not so strong.

There’s quite a few variations but the key ingredients are vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice.

You can mix it:
4 parts vodka, 2 parts triple sec, 2 parts cranberry juice, 1 part lime juice or
2 parts vodka, 1 part triple sec, 2 – 3 parts cranberry juice, splash of lime juice or
2 parts vodka, 2 parts triple sec, 2 parts cranberry juice, 1 part lime juice.

You can also use lime infused vodka instead of regular vodka or you can substitute orange liquor or peach schnapps for triple sec.

To prepare fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice, add your ingredients, strain and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge on the edge of the glass.

Experiment and see what combination fits you best. Get your girlfriends together and bottoms up!


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Spring Scarf Finished

March 12, 2005

It’s a spring scarf; I wanted something very open. It’s for those “winter just won’t go away” kind of days. After a couple of experiments, I finally decided on how I wanted to knit my scarf. First I tried the butterfly stitch, but that didn’t work with my variegated yarn. It was hard to see the pattern with the constantly changing colors. Next I tried Crocus Buds stitch from Leisure Arts 99 Knit Stitches book. Better because it was more lace like, but still not what I wanted. Finally, I pulled out my size 20 needles, knit a sample and really liked how that looked. I casted on 30 stitches and knit the whole thing. It took two skeins of yarn and about 4 hours but the final product was exactly what I had in mind.

A scarf after four hours is a pretty productive way to spend an afternoon. I knit while watching Double Indemnity (classic film noir, on of the AFI’s Top 100 movies), some exciting basketball (Memphis’ heartbreaking loss and part of the Illini game) and the Cubs spring training game. It was cold outside and a perfect day to spend curled up on the couch.

My husband asked me if knitting with bigger needles is easier or harder. In this case, I’d say harder. There’s a lot of holes so you have to make sure you’re putting the needle in the right place. It’s also much easier to drop a stitch and not notice. And consequently, much harder to fix if you drop a stitch. I make sure to count my stitches every couple of rows.

Spring Scarf

March 10, 2005

With winter on it’s way out, who really wants to be thinking about scarves? Me! I love scarves. Winter scarves, dress scarves, silk scarves… I just ordered a new spring coat and the first thing I thought if is knitting a scarf to match.

After work,I went to my friendly neighborhood knitting salon, WoolWinders, and picked up some Berroco Cotton Twist in jaunty spring colors. I haven’t decided what stitch to use yet, but plan on getting it started over the weekend. My jacket will arrive next week and I plan on having my scarf ready!

While I was at WoolWinders some “just in” cotton yarn happened into my shopping basket along with a great pattern book, Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora.

I’m looking forward to starting these projects!

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Yesterday’s Post

March 9, 2005

Another interest of mine is creative writing. Not that I’m necessarily good, but I enjoy it. Getting better requires writing more so occasionally I’ll sit down and let the creative juices flow.

Yesterday’s blog was an idea I’d been mulling ove so I finally put fingers to keys. You’ll see more of these as inspiration strikes.


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The Best Nap

March 8, 2005

I had the best nap today. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue and there wasn’t a cloud for miles. I curled up on the bed in the back bedroom and basked in the sunlight. I heard the sound of a train in the background. Oh, that was just me. The room was a little cool, but in the warm rays I was very content. I fell into such a deep and sound sleep, a herd of obnoxious dogs couldn’t have woken me. When I did open my eyes, my brother and sister had joined me. Clearly, I had the right idea. My other sister, the one we don’t like, had the bed in the other room all to herself.

I woke up in enough time to see the sun slip beneath the horizon. The sky was so many different shades, I almost woke up my siblings to share the moment, but at the last minute I got selfish. There would be other sunsets to share.

It wasn’t long after that that I heard my parents car. I stretched lazily and rolled around the bed, none to anxious to get up. My brother and sister were such goodie two shoes they were already downstairs, waiting for the door to open. Whatever. I had more immediate concerns, like dinner. I had all night to spend with Mom and Dad. I rolled over and let out a big yawn. I rolled over again and promptly forgot what I was doing. Whatever it was I knew it could wait. There’d always be later. Mom and Dad would wake me up when they came upstairs. I could do it then.

I knew I needed another nap. The heat just turned on and the room was toasty without being hot. The perfect temperature. I had the bed to myself. The tv was turned on downstairs and the dull noise was lulling me to sleep. This was going to be the best nap I’ve taken today.

–Excerpt from The Life of Harrison


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The Open Apple Key

March 7, 2005

I love my new Mac, aka The Peanut. The transition hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be with one exception, the open apple key. I use the keyboard shortcuts for cut, paste, copy, bold, etc. In windows you do Ctrl + C for copy. With the Mac, it’s Open Apple + C. I don’t know why, but I can’t get used to using the open apple key. I will Ctrl + C and undo four times before I realize I need to OA + C. I don’t think it helps that I use a PC all day at work. Other people have to be in the same situation; I wonder how they handle it. Any tips are welcome.


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There’s Nothing Like Spring Training

March 6, 2005

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a huge Chicago Cubs fan. My mom is actually the one who introduced me to Wrigley Field at a young age. You would think that sports = Dad, and my dad is a sports fan, but my mom is the one who fanned the flames on my love affair with the Cubs. In the summers around 1982 – 1987, you could walk up to the ticket window and get same day tickets. Fridays were Ladies’ Day, and you could get tickets for $1. I remember when bleacher tickets were $5. We’d always sit in Section K, mom would keep score. I remember Ryne Sandberg, Jodi Davis, Rick Sutcliffe, Fergie Jenkins…

One year, the spring I was in second grade, my mom took me to Arizona. We visited family but also made it to spring training. It was awesome! I got autographs, saw batting practice, it was very cool. I’m not sure if the same is true, but the players were more accessible than during the regular season. Everything is more more laid back. Spring training is about baseball and the team. There’s no names on the back of the uniforms. The only name that matters is the one of the front. Egos get left at the door (or at least much as can be expected from a professional athlete).

Since it’s spring training, the returning/roster players will play three of four innings, maybe more as the season gets closer. When they’re done, they run sprints in the outfield to cool down. In the middle of the game. It cracks me up. The non-roster players get a chance to put in some innings to show their talents and maybe play their way onto the team.

It’s also spring training for the broadcasters. While I was working from home last week, I listened to a game on XM Radio. It was the veteran team of Ron Santo and Pat Hughes, but there first game for a few months. Spring training creates an added challenge for the broadcasters since their are no player names on the uniforms and plenty of non-roster players. While listening, I was wondering what they were talking about when they said soon the actors would be playing. I wondered, “are they shooting a movie?” But when Bing Crosby came into play for Oakland, I soon understood. They don’t get updates from the press box so they can’t put a name with a number. It’s a shame for the young, eager players, but fun and light-hearted for the listener.

My mom told me a story she heard on the radio. I don’t guarantee it’s accuracy as she told me a year ago, but I think I’ll come close. A young boy and his mother, while waiting for dad to get the car, were throwing the ball around in front of a hotel in Arizona during spring training 2004. A man comes up and starts talking to the boy and his mom about baseball and starts offering tips and showing him how to throw the ball. That man was Sergio Mitre, pitcher for the Cubs. The family was in awe. The mother called the radio show and said what a moment it was for her son. I realize things like this don’t happen that often, but it can during spring training more than any other time.

I would love to get an opportunity to go back to spring training. It’s not about how many games out of first you are, but about baseball and all its possibilities.


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A Needle Is Just a Needle, Right?

March 4, 2005

Now that I’m doing a lot more needlework, I have been using a lot of needles. Stores that sell handpainted needlepoint canvases usually give you 2 needles with your purchase. The only downside is that they aren’t the highest quality needles. I’ve worn the finish off of several needles and have broken a couple of them too. Not the biggest problem in the world, but an annoyance.

I was given some platinum needles as a present from my mom and they are great! I’ve used one needle on two projects. There’s no finish to wear off and they’re very sturdy. I was also given gold needles which I used with the same success. But when there’s a choice between gold and platinum, a smart woman always chooses platinum!

John James is a manufacturer of both platinum and gold needles and can be found on tons of internet stores and in most needlework boutiques. They cost about $3 for 2 needles.

I never thought very much about needles, but now am a big fan of the platinum needles. So the answer to the question is no, a needle is not just a needle.


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Peter is finished

March 3, 2005

I finished my project, Peter, tonight. He went pretty quickly. I thought I would be able to finish him in a week but it took a little longer. The stitch I used on Peter was more time consuming that I anticipated, but worth the effort when I look at the final product.

As for the details:

  • If you look at the painted canvas, the background was plain brown with black dots. I’m sure it would have looked nice, but I had a different vision. I think of the painted canvas as a guideline or a suggestion. It’s important to let the creative juices flow and imagine other possibilities. I stitched the background in Weeks Dye Works Pearl #5. The color is mocha. The Pearl #5 cotton is thicker and covers well. I like the texture added by using the diagonal mosaic stitch.
  • The carrots were stitched in cotton floss. Using overdyed threads from The Gentle Art, the main body of the carrots was done in Bittersweet and Fragrant Cloves. Fragrant Cloves in from Simply Shaker, a collection within The Gentle Art. I used DMC #300 for the accents. I really enjoy working with the overdyed threads because of all the possibilities with the shading. As a result, each carrot looks distinct. It can be a challenge working with overdyeds because it should flow and not look splotchy. Sometimes I have a better outcome than others.
  • I also stitched the carrot leaves in an overdyed from The Gentle Art, Shutter Green. I think that the carrot leaves are getting lost in the background so I will make sure to keep that in mind when I have my project “finished”.
  • The heart was the first thing I stitched. I originally planned on using the traditional tent stitch but decided to do a Rhodes Heart. It pops off the canvas. I stitched it first because I knew if wouldn’t fit the painted area exactly and didn’t want to have to undo any of my background later.
  • Peter was the last thing I worked on. He’s done using 3 shades of Alpaca 18 from Rainbow Gallery. It’s a soft and furry fiber, 100% alpaca. He’s stitched using the Velvet stitch which created a furry effect. The stitch diagram shows the stitch as being very linear – lined up sideways and up and down – but I wanted things to look a little more random so I added in some stitches, turned stitches, generally just played around. It was a good stitch to use because he is distinct from the background. That could have been a problem. Peter took the longest to stitch and took a lot more thread than I thought, but I think he’s cute.
  • Peter’s eye is stitched in Very Velvet, also from Rainbow Gallery. I chose it because it’s very thick and I needed it to be seen. His eye is actually two “x”s stitched on top of one other so it would stand out from the fur.

Every project is a labor of love and some turn out better than others. I am also very critical and hard to satisfy (I’m speaking about needlework specifically). I think Peter turned out well, but I do have some concerns. One is the carrot leaves that I’ve already mentioned. The second is does he still look like a rabbit. Third and finally, I’m worried that the background dominates the piece. The project is done. It’s too late to do anything about three. As for two, I think he’s cute and I know what he is. Number one I have some control over. I am going to have this piece finished as a pillow. I think that if I have the piece framed in green fabric, it will bring out the carrot leaves. I’m seeing plaid for the back of the pillow, a plaid with brown and purple and green. It’s hard to have such a specific idea in mind as it can be hard to find the perfect fabric, but I’ll see what’s out there. Once I’ve found my fabric, I’m going to take Peter to The Stitching Post to be finished. They send it out and it takes about a month. Well worth the wait (and the price).


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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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