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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yarn Along: Knitting in Beautiful Places

Even though I brought four projects to knit and two samples to write up patterns for while we traveled, I really only worked on Mariam and Rich's Manly Rainbow Socks. And the socks I only worked on briefly on the metro on the way to church one week. Our church has a parish in the ghetto in Paris, so we navigated our way there, and stepped around various bodily fluids and other such things on our way to liturgy. It was less than four blocks from the border of Paris, and obviously in a neighborhood in need of the services of a church. It was glorious worshiping with them there. Unfortunately, because of the evening events Rich and I were committed to, we had to race off after the service so we could go back to the hotel to change for the reception and dinner that evening.

After almost a year of rather minimal yarn purchases, I got to do some pretty great yarn shopping.

Here is the Passage du Grand Cerf where one of the six yarn shops I visited was. There is so much that is beautiful in Paris, but the ugliness is also there. It's like two different cities occupying the same physical space. Just around the corner, just around the corner from this lovely piece of architecture and beauty was a s3x shop. It was like that all over the city. Gorgeous museums, art, music, art, architecture, food, shopping, all surrounded by graffiti, bodily fluids (and their accompanying smells), people relieving themselves, pickpockets and crime, p0rn0gr@phy and other similar exploitative industries, poverty and homelessness, more so than I see in Los Angeles, Seattle, the Bay Area, San Antonio, even Geneva. It was so much cleaner and safer in Geneva. I will say that Paris has their metro system dialed in, and it was a breeze to navigate, which I did in French. I did almost all of my ordering, shopping, navigating, and so on in French, which was a success for me.

Here is all the yarn I bought for myself. 21 skeins of it. Some of it is already earmarked for projects, some I bought because it was beautiful and I will find a way to use it later.

I also spent some time in the fabric district in Montmartre. It was quite near our hotel, and we have dear friends who sew, who I knew would appreciate a little something from Paris. I really wanted to buy a dress length of the silk satin, but I couldn't justify it, even at this good price. Especially since I would have had to pay someone to make up the dress for me here if I wanted it in any reasonable time frame. Because otherwise, I would have to learn to sew proficiently first.

I brought four books with me, but the only one I cracked was my Stitching Up Paris book, which came in quite handy as I looked for knitting and fabric shops.

Oh! And we picked up an Herm├Ęs scarf for me that was just perfect.

Look at the knit print on it! It has a little bit of a Christmas theme to it, but all rolled or folded up, you can't tell. I am a little bit in love with this scarf. Rich insisted that I get it, which was sweet of him.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Menu Plan: June 25 - July 1

We are returning from Europe this week, and the kids have done a great job holding down the fort and running things while we were away. I will report more when I have a chance to upload pictures and tell the story.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Recipe Round Up: Slow Cooker Faux Gyros

Slow Cooker Faux Gyros

I have scaled this down, but I usually make one and a half times this amount in two crocks. It's not the same as the gyros on a spit, but it's remarkably similar and delicious.

2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground lamb
4 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons (regular) paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 chopped onions
14 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 4 lemons, strained

Mix together meat, oregano, paprika, and salt until thoroughly and evenly combined.

Place onions and garlic in the bottom of a crock pot. Shape meat mixture into a football type loaf. Pour lemon juice over all of it. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Slice and serve with onions and juices in Khoubz Araby (Pita Bread) or with rice, and salad.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Menu Plan: June 18 - 24

One more week of easy to make meals. There are also two birthdays, Rich's and Dominic's, and Father's Day. Pretty packed!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Yarn Along: Dazed and Confused

Brume is knit and written and at the tech editor's. I'm hoping to have it ready for a preview at the end of October, so it can be published in November. It will eventually become part of either a trilogy or quartet of hat patterns that are each variations on a theme. The crown decreases please me to no end, and I hope you will be equally delighted with them. I've made more progress on Winter Wonderland, but I'm still not to where I was when I had to rip back.

This past week has been so busy and chaotic! Three out of four girls had two shows for their ballet recital Saturday, and all the rehearsals that lead up to that during the week. Then, there is all the preparing for the Paris trip. All the shopping, and cleaning, and sorting, and packing. Since, of course, my knitting is the most important thing to consider in my packing, here are the projects I am bringing: Mariam, Ventus, Manly Rainbow Socks, and Boreas. I will also be bringing the notes and prototype for the third party publishing design this fall to write it up as much as possible. I am saving the rest of my knitting space for yarn that I will buy while traveling. So, today, my task is to weigh our suitcases and make sure they aren't heavier than 40 pounds. Wish me luck!

In my effort to get back into practice with my French, I am doing a lot of reading of and listening to French knitting groups and podcasts. A virtual friend recommended a free app, Duolingo, to brush up on my French. I tested out of the first two levels, but I'm still doing the practice exercises and having my robot conversations to practice. It is helping so much! Just doing it is a great reminder of the vocabulary and grammar that I used to be somewhat fluent with before. There are numerous language options for English speaking people, and they start at rank beginner, so if you are interested in either learning language or brushing up on one you used to know, I would highly recommend it. The app offers Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Esperanto, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Welsh, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Hungarian, Greek, Swahili, and Romanian. They have language lessons for Arabic speaking people, but unfortunately, don't have an Arabic course for English speakers.

French English Dictionary
Hunting Unicorns
Theology of the Body in Simple Language
One Flesh: Salvation through Marriage in the Orthodox Church
Stitching Up Paris
Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak
Sirach Bible Study and Journal

Also, the packing of the books is pretty important, so I have decided to bring these along with me. I'm still reading _Primal Loss_, though I'm saving much of it for the trip. If our bags are more than 40 pounds, _Hunting Unicorns_, _One Flesh_, and my Bible study journal are the things I'm leaving at home. I hope it does not come to that, but I'll need the dictionary occasionally, the guide book will help me find the shops I want to visit, we are still reading _Theology of the Body in Simply Language_ and haven't started _One Flesh_ yet. The kids and I have read more in The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, and I've made a bit of progress in Messenger of Truth.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Menu Plan: June 11 - 17

You have no idea how thrilled I am that I do not have to cook two out of three meals Sunday. After the recital week schedule, and coming home late from the show last night, I am so glad that Rich is taking care of breakfast, and our churches are providing lunch and dinner.

I had forgotten that last week had no fasting when I planned the meals, but that meant that the craziness of our week was a little more managed. This meant that, as sad as it was, we ate hotdogs for dinner on Wednesday. As our week was so crazy, we have a repeat this week.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Stitch Fix Number Nine!

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up using my referral link! I so appreciate the credits. If you are interested in learning more, I wrote about my first experience on the blog, and you can do a search on my Stitch Fix posts.

So, a month or so ago, I was sent an offer to try Stitch Fix again, without the styling fee. Since there was no risk to me if I hated everything, and we had the trip to Paris coming up, I took them up on it. After two or three disappointments, I was wary, and still frustrated that the blame was placed entirely on my previous stylist, when it was apparent that a big part of it was what fabrics and styles were available to her. The new stylist did fine, though she didn't spell my name right. On to the contents of the box!

Item #1 Plenty by Tracy Reese Wynona Dress - $128

I love the jewel tones and bright blues of this dress. It fit well, and is flattering. Rich loved it on me. When I saw it in the box, I was a little concerned it would look a bit too 1970s retro, but I don't think it does. It is in the running for one of our evening events while in Paris. Rich likes that the zipper is metal (he hates plastic zippers), but I'm not sure what I think about it being exposed.
If I wear my hair down, it won't show that much, though, either way. Definitely keeping this.

Items #2 Lila Ryan Melina Straight Leg Pant - $88
& #3 Market & Spruce Evella Boatneck Top - $64

My stylist did say that although these pants were not the exact color I was looking for, she thought they would work, and I think they did. I was skeptical at first, though both Rich and I were pleasantly surprised at how nicely they fit and looked. These will be great for walking around Paris. Keeping.

The top. Hmmm. Rich hated it. He wanted me to send it back with a note asking if it was a joke. I don't hate it. It is almost entirely polyester, though there is a little cotton. I wish the neck had either a trim or collar in the same fabric as the cuffs and hem. It did have sleeves, though, and I liked how the stripes looked on me. I am keeping it, but with a note about the things I didn't like. The 25% off discount on the box makes this (and the other item I wasn't in love with) only $9 more than getting just the three items I fancied the most in the box.

Items #4 Skies are Blue Brendie Lace Hem Knit Top - $54

I liked this a lot. It is a linen and rayon blend, is lined, was cut well, and I even thought the pink was nice. It looks good with the pants, and I can wear it with other clothes I have at home. It's a little pricey for the item, but considering that it is primarily linen, and I didn't have to shop for it, I'm willing to live with that. It was a little frustrating that it was sleeveless, since I asked for various styles of sleeves, as most of my summer tops and dresses do npt have sleeves. That may have been a product of the selection that Kristina, my stylist, had available to her, though. Keeping.

Items #5 Alice Blue Milliman Ruffle Detail Top - $38

This top is pretty, and neutral enough to go with just about everything, but with enough color in it to keep a neutral outfit from being monotone. I would have loved this with flutter sleeves. Instead, my bra shows. Rich had me try it without a bra, but between the fact that I am a busty woman who needs one, and the fabric is a little thin (another beef I have with the fashion industry is how thin the fabrics are for women) and unlined, it was not okay. I only could have worn it in our room. However, I tried it on with a jacket I already own and a silk knit skirt that I got on ThredUp, it looked cute, I think. It is annoying that I have to either get a strapless bra for this top (and finding one that is steel belted and industrial strength and still comfortable is pretty challenging), wear a corset, or always have a jacket or shrug to wear the top. Since, as I said above, getting this and the boatneck top with the box discount is only $9 more than getting the other three items on their own, I am keeping it, but I'm leaving a comment about the disregard of my measurements, size, and busty-ness.

Overall, I think Kristina did a good job, and with three items that I unequivocally wanted to keep, I think it is a success. I'm still frustrated at the dearth of natural fibers available in ready to wear fashion. That is not even considering how many of these were made in China. There were two sleeveless items when I specifically asked for cap to three quarter length sleeves, one of the items was mostly polyester, and there was a top that is clearly not designed for busty women. I do not know if the sleeveless items were because of what was available, or if my note was just ignored. Either way, I wish there were more items with sleeves in various styles, as well. The biggest frustration was the last top because it just is not reasonable for a busty woman to wear that on its own. If I can find a good strapless bra, it will help me with other dresses, and I can wear it without a jacket, which would be nice with a casual skirt or pants and flats, but I am not thrilled with having to look for and buy one just to do that. I was really pleased that Kristina understood my retro, feminine, casual style. There was nary a clunky, modern item, nothing boxy or masculine, no ultra stylized or industrial looking pieces. Since there was more than one item I really liked in this box, it is more than a success, and I will be packing all of these things with me on the Paris trip. It is nice to avoid the mall and stores, and fun to have the box sent directly to me to try on at home nearly risk free. Rich loves the fashion show, which is always nice, too. If you would like to try Stitch Fix, using that link will get a credit which helps me use their service more often.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Yarn Along: Paris Bound!

All of my knitting this weekend was unknitting. After getting almost to the top on Brume, while waiting at the Passport Office, I realized that I still wasn't satisfied with my decreases, and decided to do them yet a different way. I picked up Mariam to continue working on that design, so I could have it ready for the tech editor next month. Nope. I realized that if I did the stitch pattern a different way that it would look better and more the way I wanted it. If I think of it as a swatch rather than the first 10% of a shawl, it's much easier to cope with the realization that I am ripping it back to the first row. Likewise, on Sunday, I pulled the stitches off the needle for Winter Wonderland, and ripped all the way back to increase the depth of the ribbing at the neck.

I received some exciting news on Friday. A magazine in the UK has accepted a design submission from me and will publish it in their magazine in November. Since they are mailing yarn out soon, I thought I'd see if they could mail it to me in Paris, which would get it to me sooner and cost them less than shipping to the US. I have another design that should be published with an online magazine in November, plus one more self-published design that month and a shawl that I hope to have out in August. There are two designs I wanted to submit for an online publication for August, and either September or October, but those are not as far along as the others. That puts me at six definite designs for the year, and two that might be released this year. Not to mention the work I'm doing for next year. I was hoping to have nine designs published this year, but if I can even get one of the maybes completed, I can be happy with seven.

Thank you to those of you who prayed, too. We have learned to always go in person for my passport, as when they have a face in front of them, they seem more likely to help. Glory to God in all His Saints, we were so blessed to have a lady helping me who also grew up in the same town I did and, in fact, graduated from high school from the same school I did 12 years after I did (Rich thought she was a teenage intern, and couldn't figure out how she had a job in a federal office). Many dear friends filled out affidavits to help establish the one name that they didn't think was documented enough, and one came in person to sign in front of them and vouch for me. We began a discussion of how we met, which led the lady at the counter to ask about where we grew up and I think that really gave her some sympathy for my cause. I brought my high school diploma, simply to show that the use of the name in question was already established by the time I was in high school Anyway, besides being much more helpful, she also pushed to have the passport produced that day so I could go home with it, which was another blessing. So, I do get to go to Paris with Rich, after all, and I'm already packing my outfits, my knitting, and my books. Rich has had me reading French Ravelry groups, and wants me to listen to French podcasts to brush up on my French, and I'm packing my French English dictionary with us, along with a copy of a guide to Paris knitting/stitching shops, Theology of the Body in Simple Language and One Flesh: Salvation through Marriage in the Orthodox Church which Rich and I have been reading together. We are also bringing Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, which I ordered from the author, and just received my signed copy. I just started reading a little into it. It is so powerful, and I can relate to so much in the stories of the contributors. Even if you came from an intact home and are not divorced yourself, I would recommend it. It breaks the gag order on children of divorce that is ever present to protect the feelings of the divorcing parents and prop up the divorce culture.

The kids and I are still reading The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic and I read about three more words in Messenger of Truth. Aside from that, it has been my prayer book and daily readings.

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Menu Plan: Pentecost

Blessed Pentecost to you all! We celebrated this second highest feast of the Church Year yesterday with lots of delicious food cooked over fire. Rich and I provided the grilled food and the potato salad, and the folks at the Anglican church provided all the rest. The Catholic church we attend in the morning has its church picnic this coming Sunday, which means that the beginning of church picnic season has begun!

Since we ended up going to the Seattle Passport Office, and took the entire day there, and had forgotten the time of a birthday/going away party on Saturday, a couple meals are back on the menu this week again. However, we vanquished the bureaucracy, and I came home with my passport!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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