soggy tissues and sneezing on the cat

Well friends, the last two weeks of April definitely challenged me. It was the most important time of year for my work goals & performance indicators, and it was (and continues to be) intense for the kiddo. Her schedule is full of daily track practice, weekly track meets, and theater rehearsals. All of which requires planning for transit, the appropriate nutrition, and very different sets of attire. This in addition to the usual schedule of work, remote and office days, school, regular appointments and meal planning. How do people have more than one active child and stay on top of it all?

After several hours last week at a particularly windy and frigid track meet – ankle deep in mud – I succumbed to the head cold that had been lingering in the wings waiting for a stage cue. The meet itself was well worth the discomfort- the kiddo’s stepmom and I were the only family members in attendance due to schedule conflicts. K and I get along well and I really enjoy her company and commitment to the kiddo. We watched the kid compete in shotput (where she placed first) and the 200-meter (where she took 4 seconds off her practice time). A successful outcome considering it was her first ever track meet!

And I always love that my goth kid is instantly recognizable in a sea of lookalike kids in hoodies and sweats. My kid will be the one warming up between events in a John Bender flannel, skeleton pajamas and a skull blanket.

My subsequent illness turned into a painful sinus infection and really kiboshed the weekend plans. I ran the kid to theater rehearsal and then went straight to Urgent Care. My Urgent Care is the best – I don’t even think they really care if I’m sick. I tell them “I have xx”, they take my blood pressure and look in my throat, prescribe horse pill antibiotics to my pharmacy of choice and I am merrily on my way. I spent the rest of the weekend in bed with Pot Roast. She is a constant nursemaid despite generally preferring Brandon and despising the explosive sneezing that has accompanied my illness. Maybe she just knew that in my weakened state, I could be easily dispatched with a soft paw on my jugular.

Other than sleeping, I plodded along with “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone”, the most recent Diana Gabaldon Outlander contribution. 39% in and my quick review: so far it’s not as interesting as her earlier efforts. (Spoiler: someone HAS already been eaten by a bear and that was kind of a high point. And there are a lot of the usual interjections of “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” from sassy Claire and sexy Jamie grinding out “Och Sassenach ye drive me mad” which make it a fine book for a sick day.)

I don’t have a finished object to show (I’m close!) so I’ll update you on my crafting with progress on my current cross-stitch.

Hope everyone is well and happy. I’m girding my loins for another intense week and hopefully less sneezing.

quick hello

Two office days this week and they’re starting to feel more normal. It helps that I’ve been busy planning and preparing for our major corporate governance meetings, which take place this week & next. It’s one of my major work responsibilities and every spring for me is marked with seasonal allergies and board meetings.

Life is busy otherwise, too – the kiddo is in final theater rehearsals for her performances in mid-May, and she’s also running track. Michigan weather hasn’t really cooperated much with this and several practices and her first meet have been canceled due to snow, wind, rain, etc. But still a lot of driving and dropping off and picking up but it’s very exciting to see her trying and enjoying new things.

Brandon went to the Jack White show at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, which kicked off the Supply Chain Issues tour. I didn’t go, even though I love Jack White and the White Stripes – I just needed a quiet night at home with the cats. He went with a buddy and I was kicking myself the next morning when Brandon casually mentioned that Jack proposed to his girlfriend AND THEN MARRIED HER ONSTAGE. I did get a cool t-shirt, but I could have been a wedding guest!

Our Easter was quiet and traditional- one of Brandon’s friends came over, I made ham, green bean casserole, and scalloped potatoes, and there was lamb cake for dessert.

So that’s about it for now – I just wanted to give a quick hello from gloomy wet Michigan spring. Once my meetings are over, I have a couple of posts planned – one to review my wardrobe updates / capsule wardrobe for return to the office, and one crafty update (I hope to have one knitted FO and a fair bit of cross-stitch). Until then! xx

and we’re back

Widget Central (workplace name has been changed to protect the innocent;) ) tried to bring its employees back last July – but then omicron. So we went back home. Now, like many places, we are trying again and this time it feels real. We’re hybrid to start, so I’m doing a couple days a week for now and will see how that goes.

So this week I did my first two days back and it was – okay. The commute wasn’t quite so bad as it has been in years past and it actually felt good to be out of the house. I bought a new Fjallraven laptop backpack. I packed in my meals and snacks, water and coffee. I replaced the 2-year old toothbrush and toothpaste I keep in my office desk drawer. I evaluated my somewhat dusty work wardrobe (feeling super relieved that despite a weight gain, everything pretty much still fit) and realized I need to make serious (purging) changes as my entire aesthetic has changed. I want a basic uniform that I can go to without thinking. Simple, classic, nothing tight or restrictive or high-heeled. We’re allowed to wear jeans but I’d prefer to look a bit more professional even if it’s just black pants with a basic sweater or cardi.

It took a bit of getting used to – my office feels dark, and it was initially distracting to hear people’s conversations. Still, I was productive, had several in-person meetings, gave my first in-person presentation in 2 years, found myself smiling hard when I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was sort of like riding a bike. It felt like I hadn’t been away. And I felt my mental health brighten perceptibly.

I’m a bit “ride or die” when it comes to my workplace. I have misgivings about going back full time but in the end, if they tell me that’s in the cards, I will go back without a squeak. When the situation with Covid was scary and unknown, Widget Central sent us all home, let us protect ourselves and our families, and I never had to worry about having to make a choice between taking care of myself or my kid and a paycheck. That’s a huge privilege and one that I do not take for granted. It’s made me more loyal than ever, at least to my current executive team.

Still, I was also very happy to round out the week here in my home office, with a candle burning, WRCJ on the radio and at least one of the cats sleeping nearby.

I hope you are well and safe and looking forward to a nice weekend. I’m hoping the weather is decent here in Michigan (it has NOT been). Brandon is going to see Jack White tonight, we have theater rehearsals and a home show, and a big new front door installation. And I’ve barely touched any knitting or cross-stitch in over a week, so there will be that.

friday files – in like a lion

I don’t know what was going on in the stars, but the first half of this week almost crushed me. I spent Monday in tears and on the phone with tech support trying to resolve issues with a new work laptop. I missed my dad horribly. Someone stole the head joint of the kiddo’s flute out of a classroom. Said kiddo had her own issues with middle school stress. Brandon and I had a fight (about NAZIS of all things). The situation in the Ukraine is unbearable, and the Republicans are typical assholes (DeSantis, Boebert, Abbott and Greene, I’m looking at you).

This was after a very calm last-week where I took some time off and the three of us went to Ann Arbor to eat sushi and nose around bookstores. I also made another pine needle basket. It was idyllic.

But in typical fashion, things balance out and swing back the other way. We got a rental flute while the new head piece is on order. Brandon and I are strong, the kiddo is resilient to middle school angst, and tech support did its job (mostly). External events and people can still be awful but focusing on making my own small home and family as peaceful and supportive and nurturing as possible is the response.

Regardless I am looking forward to a weekend.

I’m in the office for a few hours today, and then kiddo and I are having a bonding night together with takeout and a movie. Theater rehearsal tomorrow and a Girl Scout cookie booth on Sunday and the usual housework and errands in between. Regardless, it sounds pretty damn good to me.

Be well and don’t let the news of the world grind you down….at least not irretrievably.

pine needle basket-making

Before the pandemic, I read an article about folk schools in Midwest Living and was excited to see that there was one quite close to me. When I did more research, I realized that not only is the Michigan Folk School close, I actually drive right past it when I take the back way to my office. (When I was actually IN the office.) I quickly signed up for a soap-making class and really enjoyed it.

Then Covid hit, and it was just this weekend before I felt comfortable enough to try another class. This one was pine needle and broom straw basket-making. Julia Gold, one of the founders of the Folk School, taught the class, and she is a beautiful, inspiring, capable woman, mother, wife, teacher, and homesteader. The Folk School provided all the materials for the day-long course – the long pine needles from southern trees (not the short needles we have here), the sharp, large-eyed tapestry needle, the waxed cord. We arrived on Saturday morning; within an hour, we had been taught the basic skills. The rest of the day was spent companionably, a woman’s circle of working on our baskets, talking, laughing, and eating.

I came away in the long, sloping light of the winter afternoon with my first small basket. It’s rife with mistakes and my hands were cramped and sore when I got home…but I was so incredibly pleased with myself and I immediately bought materials to make more small baskets to give as gifts. For next to the sink to hold rings when doing dishes, a tiny one; in bedside drawers, to hold hair ties, hand cream and lip balm, a slightly larger version; and for Christmas with one of our handmade candles or bars of soap. I’m hooked.

The next class I am eyeing is leather working – they have offerings to make a leather tote or messenger bag. If you’re in the Michigan area, or could get here for a day or weekend, one of their classes would be an amazing opportunity. Located in the historic Dixboro village, Ann Arbor, with its many restaurants, hotels, university and shopping is a very short drive.

I can’t wait to show you more baskets -I hope you had a wonderful weekend! xx

friday files

Yesterday started out at almost 50, and pouring rain, and by midnight it was 10 and snowing. We got about 5 inches which is covering a sheet of thick ice. The kiddo has a snow day and Brandon only has one meeting; she’s still sleeping, he’s making cinnamon rolls, I’m taking some vacation time to hang out with them and hit the sled hill when it warms up.

I have a couple of beauty product recommendations for today – although if you saw me lately you may not want to take them. (No affiliations, just products I’ve tried and like.) I am playing chicken with myself about coloring my greys and I’m looking a little feral. But my stylist convinced me to try this brush for my shoulder length, layered cut and it’s a two thumbs up. It’s a very light carbon and heats up with the blow dryer to act almost as a curling iron. The bristles are perfectly spaced. It was pricey – far more than any other brush I’ve ever had – but worth it so far.

Along with coloring my hair, I need to get my eyebrows shaped and tinted. As I age, they have thinned out and I’ve tried probably 20 different drugstore pencils, pomades, and gels. So far, this is the best gel type pomade (my favorite pencil is from Aveda). It also has an amazing dense, soft brush for fluffing.

We always have to try the new Oreo types and the kid says these are pretty good.

What’s everyone up to this weekend? I am making beef stew, the kiddo has a theater rehearsal, and tomorrow I have a day-long basket weaving class at the Michigan Folk School. Just when I think I can’t get any crunchier, I level up. Be well and enjoy. xx

2022 Make Nine Makealong

Amy of the Noble Character Crafts vlog hosts an annual Make 9 makealong and although I don’t think I’ve ever finished nine projects in a year, I am joining in for 2022. It’s a relaxed and stress-free MAL and I do love a good plan, especially when I can make a vision board to accompany!

I shared my board and an overview of my projects over on my Insta (@sixtenpine) but wanted to provide more detail here – links and some additional info on why I selected each project.

From the top left corner of the photo:

1. Vanilla Beanie by Bruna Cortosi for The Knitting Loft. I need a few more warm knitted hats in our hallway closet and I love the slouchy look of this one. Pattern available on Ravelry.

2. Effervescence Socks by iknit2purl2 – a few of my selections are stashbusters and this is definitely one. I have more sock yarn than I could use in five years. I started this pattern last year, but frogged it because at the time, I hadn’t done any Magic Loop and couldn’t figure out how to convert to dpn’s. Now that I’m well-versed, I want to pick this up again. Pattern available on Ravelry.

3. Cozy Comfort Throw by Molly at A Homespun House – I treated myself to A Homespun House’s 2021 Advent calendar and this was a free pattern available for download with the purchase of the Advent. It’s a perfect use for all of my minis! Pattern available on Ravelry.

4. Modified Seed Stitch Washcloth and Hand Towel by Julie Fraser-Lindsay at Bunny Totem Knits. Another deep stash project. I have a lot of dishcloth cotton from my days of Mason-Dixon knitting obsession and I love the idea of gifting sets of these with a bar of handmade soap. Pattern available on LoveCrafts.

5. Classic Tee by Darling Jadore. This is actually already a WIP but that’s allowed in the MAL rules! I started this last year in a lovely lightweight, silky grey cotton and really need to dig it out and keep going. I love the understated, classic style. Pattern available on LoveCrafts.

6. Advent Mystery KAL socks by Anna Knitter. Amy of Noble Character Crafts knit these and I loved the textured, almost sample-esque quality of the pattern. I have some solid sock yarn in-stash that will show off the stitch patterns beautifully. Pattern available on Etsy from the link to her website above.

7. West Village Skirt by Selma of Little Big Knits – I love this whole look and concept. I’m a little unsure of how it will actually wear – I can envision some scrunching and riding up as unlined skirts frequently do – but I am going to give it a shot anyway because it just looks so cozy and cute.

8. Cornerstone Scarf by Jewell Washington & available in the book ‘Our Maker Life’ – I checked this book out of the library and although I don’t do a lot of scarves, we need more in our closet and I loved the look. I also have some stash yarn that will be perfect.

9. Toasty Mitts by Leslie Friend of A Friend to Knit With. This is a great pattern that I’ve made at least twice before and I absolutely love the finished product. It’s the best fingerless mitt pattern I’ve found. This pair will be a gift for my bestie – she got a pair a few years ago and I think it’s time for a replacement pair. Pattern available on Ravelry.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress here and on IG. And if you want to join, check out Amy’s Noble Character Crafts IG page and her vlog…The more the merrier – and there are prizes!

Happy Knitting! xo

friday faves

Snowmageddon was overhyped as usual. I think our area got about 5 inches, which is nice for the winter sports buffs but probably should not have ground everything to a halt. This is Michigan, after all. Kiddo got a couple of days off school but otherwise it felt like a bit of a bust after all the trumpeting of a “biggest storm in seven years”.

Without further ado – Friday Faves.

1. Righteous Gemstones on HBO. My brother recommended this – I’m a bit late to the party. It took me awhile to get into Danny McBride’s humor. And there’s a lot of exposed wang in it. But by the time Walton Goggins (whom I loved in Justified) showed up, Brandon and I were bought in.

2. Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb series. Another recommendation from my brother…Sort of a snarky sci-fi fantasy epic. The blurb on the cover of the first in the series, Gideon the Ninth, sort of says it all – “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons!” Muir takes a bit of a tonal detour in the second novel, Harrow the Ninth, and I’ll confess that it was pretty dense and difficult to follow. I was lost but enjoyably so and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third later this year.

3. Painting my damn nails. I finally found a dark green that I love. This is Essie Off-Tropic.

trying the nail polish influencer pose

4. Small comforts – Sherpa sheets, my humidifier for sleeping, my flickering battery-operated candles for my mantle, shelves, and table, my SAD happy lamp for my desk, Shoyeido incense. Also, scented lotions – some of my current seasonal slathering favorites are Shea Body Butter from Body Shop, Pansy from Lush, and Japanese Cherry Blossom from Bath & Body Works.

5. Bedroom refresh. Brandon has made a lot of gradual changes to our sleeping space since he moved in – a new bed frame, paint and duvet. He kicked into high gear around the holidays. He had the blackout drapes hemmed and bought matching nightstands (he keeps his much neater than I keep mine). We added matching lamps and sometimes I’m still surprised at how adult the room looks.

It’s been a long week and I am looking forward to takeout tonight and catching up on rest this weekend. I hope you are all well and safe. xo

february blahs

January and February are my least favorite months. The short, cold, dark days grind me down and there are no holidays to look forward to. Valentine’s Day doesn’t count because even though I have a top notch sweetie it’s still a stupid holiday.

I try for the cozy glow of November and December but never quite seem to get it back. I hate the pale, slanted quality of the light and the pervasive drear.

It’s better to be working from home than in an office during these days, though. Winter commutes worsen everything. I can pet cats and use my SAD happy lamp without being mocked, stay in my cozy sweats all day and maximize my productive time of day (early mornings).

But I am still tired and struggling not to beat myself up over what I perceive as my lack of productivity and motivation.

I did finish up my Snuggle Down Cowl. This is a pattern by Jooles Hill of Sew Sweet Violet; I knit it in minis from my 2020 Legacy Fiber Artz Advent calendar held with a strand of Casual Fashion Queen’s baby suri alpaca & silk in the Pink Moon colorway.

I finished it during a Thin Man marathon. You get through deep winter any way you can and for me it involves crafting, old movies, fantasy novels and true crime.

Southeastern Michigan is expecting Snowmageddon this week…the kiddo is super excited because it may mean multiple snow days and a trip to the sledding hill. I’m less excited because the downside of working from home is that work is right here no matter what. All the time. Even on snow days, vacations, and holidays. I still vastly prefer it to mandatory office presence but maybe a trip to the sledding hill would be good for my energy and outlook.

Anyway! I may be back with a Friday Faves! If I can find the energy! In the meantime keep your feet warm. xo

the first one of twenty two

how it started

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in 2022 yet. If the old adage “start as you mean to end” is true then I am well and truly screwed for this year.

So what’s been up? Well, the kiddo got Covid for the New Year so that’s how it all began. We’re all vaxxed and so it was a mild case that was really more like a bad cold. She quarantined for the period required by our school district and is fully recovered now. Omicron has cut a massive swathe, hasn’t it? I can’t believe how many people I know who have it or have had it since the holidays.

She tried out for a part in our local community theater production of Mary Poppins and was successful, so starting today I’m plunging into my first time Theater Mom role. (Actually the rehearsals are closed which is probably for the best.)

I’ve lost a pound and a half of the SIX I gained over the holidays and am working Dry January. It’s been grindingly cold in SE Michigan but not much snow to speak of yet so I am able to get out for some activity but sometimes I’m just too dang lazy.

So that’s the quick January briefing so far. I won’t let it go so long next time. I hope you are all enjoying 2022 so far and staying warm and healthy. xo