Settling In

I'm sure you've heard, but it is unseasonably warm here in the Southeast United States.

Mid-February is usually when I can count on major cold weather to hit us. Since moving to this part of North Carolina I have been snowed in more than once around Valentine's Day, so the fact that we've had multiple days above 65 degrees is just mind boggling. Normally it bothers me when we start to lose our cold weather. It means that summer is impending and our summers are long and largely miserable. But this year I find myself welcoming spring.

It could be that I am responding to the fact that we have been sick for what feels like ages (really it was only a few days but man). Pasha is cutting several teeth at once and Chris and I succumbed to some variety of stomach bug that laid us out hard. But yesterday as we were starting to feel like moving again the world was so beautiful that we just had to venture outside.

We've been in this house for two months and I think it is just starting to hit us that we don't live in a sketchy apartment block anymore. Don't get me wrong, our last apartment was exactly what we needed when we needed it and I felt generally safe in our neighborhood, but we did not hang out outside. Our neighbors were all smokers so anytime it was nice enough to use the porch we would be overwhelmed by second-hand smoke. And it was not possible to go sit out on the lawn or take a leisurely walk because we were right off several major roads. But now . . .

We are completely smitten with the luxury of being outdoors. We have screens in the living room/play room and Pasha loves to look out windows. We have birds (we never saw song birds), gorgeous trees, and dappled sunlight. I'm actually writing this to you from the deck where Helo and I are spending some much needed bonding time. So if you'll excuse me I have a puppy to cuddle and a sock to work on.

How are your days lately? I hope they have been just as inviting!

Baby Bugle

There's a weird stigma around Valentine's Day.

It seems to be so focused on romantic love that if you are not one of those couples who are disgusting on Facebook then there really is no place for you. But when I think of Valentine's Day I have much stronger memories of my mother than of romance. When I was a kid (and even when I wasn't) she would give us a Valentine's gift. Nothing big, but it was always a nice treat to start our day. And now it is the first Valentine's Day for my little boy, and the tradition lives on.

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Of course I decided on this with one day to go. Around 11am February 13 I cast on with the leftovers of Happy Go Lucky from my Onward Shawl and finished weaving in the ends around 10 that night. 

Bugle the Baby Elephant is my first Susan Claudino toy and I've got to say that if they are all this straight forward I'll be knitting a lot more. The legs and ears are all knit separately, but there's no sewing involved, so the attachment was quite easy.

This little guy is eyeless because my little guy eats everything, but I think he still looks pretty sweet.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Losing Time

Time has really been getting away from me as of late

I sit down to do something and then turn around and *blink* it's three days later and everything is still only half done. The laundry sits in baskets for days, my planner is still sitting open on the table, and the garage door remote has yet to be programmed. But there's a baby who has suddenly decided to resume his nap in my arms

And bread to bake and long walks and trips to the park and new books arriving and

oh, is it Wednesday already? I've missed days on the #yarnlovechallenge and I really should work on finishing up my dad's Christmas present and never mind the fact that it is February and I'm still finishing Christmas presents but I really should get that done because he is visiting this weekend but first the upstairs needs vacuuming and I should put sheets on that bed but oh wait there's a shawl blocking up there or did I get around to that and . . . and . . . and . . .

And instead of doing any of this last night I gave the baby a bath and then had a glass of wine and cast on a Find Your Fade. Because let's face it. I'm too tired to get anything more than half-done anyway.

Shelved: What I've Been Reading January 2017

I don't know what it is about January

but for the past several years I become a voracious reader around this time. It probably has something to do with the fact that my parents always made sure to include at least one book under the tree every year at Christmas. But this year I seem to be even more obsessed than normal. To put it in perspective, last year in January I read 3 books and this year I read 9. And yes, I had a job last year, but this year I have a crawling baby, so I feel like the stats are pretty comparable.

I've made some changes lately to the way I read. Over the summer I started listening to more audio books, and three of the books I finished in January were audio. When I'm running around with Pasha, cleaning, or driving I try to go for audiobooks before I turn on the tv or radio. I started reading more than only one physical book at a time. Our house has two floors, so I now have an upstairs book and a downstairs book. I'm also much more meticulous about tracking what I read. Instead of just putting them into Goodreads I am also logging my books in my planner every month and I'm tracking them here, at least for now.

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

This was my one real holdover from 2016. I bought it on my birthday back in October, but it took me forever to finish reading. Not because I didn't enjoy the book, actually the opposite, it was so good. I love Margaret Atwood. I think she's a genius. Her original fiction is amazing, but her adaptations have always been among my favorites. In her latest novel Atwood adapted The Tempest into a story about a theater director who has left his prestigious position and found work in a prison education program. As always Atwood's writing is unique and powerful, which makes for excellent literature but less than stellar bedtime reading.

Troublemaker, Leah Remini

Memoirs narrated by the author are one of my favorite categories of audio books. My mom watched Leah Remini's show about Scientology, and since I don't have cable I decided to look into the next best thing. Actually, based on reviews I've seen of the show I think this might be better. Remini is in turns hilarious and sincere while telling her story. The book is technically a memoir, but it is also a detailed history of Scientology. And the stuff about Tom Cruise? I finished this one in only two days.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova

The majority of my reading time this month was spent on this one, which is my entry for a book over 600 pages for the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge. I still cannot decide how I feel about it. I didn't like it as much as I wanted, but I also did not hate it. The story was not hugely riveting, but the layers of story rang very true as someone who went to graduate school for history. Much of the book I found myself thinking that it was a little like Indiana Jones with quality scholarship. At the same time I found myself a little bogged down in the details of fabricated history, so I might have skimmed a few passages.

Before the Fall, Noah Hawley

This is a book I wish I had read instead of picked up on audio.  The story is specifically centered around a male protagonist and the majority of the other characters are also men. Hawley's writing style lends itself to a superior male tone when read aloud by a male narrator. The book itself is engaging enough to read to the end and kept me guessing as to what happened the whole way. Since finishing I've started watching Fargo (I know, I'm way behind), for which Hawley is the showrunner, and his tone comes across a lot less abrasively on the show.

Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty

This was my other audio novel for the month. I listened to Big Little Lies a few months ago and was absolutely riveted both by the writing and the narrator. I was not as in love with this one, but it was the same narrator and the story was still fascinating. I don't want to say too much about the plot because the story centers around an event that everyone hints around but is the mystery that moves the action forward. All I will say is that the subject matter was much harder for me to listen to than the previous novel.

I Want My Epidural Back, Karen Alpert

This was my nursery book. Pasha (aka Chris) gave it to me for my birthday and the short essay style made it perfect to keep next to the rocking chair in his room. This book is hilarious. More than once I took a photo of a page to email Chris during nap time. Which I then felt a little bad about because the language in this book is definitely NSFW. But overall? Highly entertaining.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

I don't know how I avoided spoilers on this one, but all I'll say on this one aside from the fact that it was a little long is #keepthesecrets

The Grownup, Gillian Flynn

January was my first month as a Book of the Month Club member, which is the only reason I even heard of this book though evidently the movie rights to it have been purchased. Which I found fascinating considering that the book is so short and does not really have an ending. When I was pregnant with Pasha I found myself reading a lot of dark literature, including Flynn's work. I wish this story had been a full novel because I have a feeling I would have liked it at least as much if not more than Gone Girl.

Girls in the Moon, Janet McNally

Girls in the Moon was my Book of the Month pick for January and the impetus behind my signing up. I was completely taken by the cover when I saw it online. The story is about a teenage girl who goes to visit her sister in New York City. The two also just happen to be the daughters of two members of a popular 90s band. The book alternates chapters between the daughters and flashbacks of their mother. I usually find YA books that take place in NYC to be a bit overdone, but despite the fact that a lot of the action takes place in Brooklyn, it felt like the New York I have seen on my visits to my Aunt's apartment rather than an episode of Gossip Girl. If you like Rainbow Rowell and Kate Raccula, give McNally a shot.

So that's what I read in January. What have you been reading lately?

January Pattern Roundup

We are already a month into 2017

and while a lot of crazy stuff has happened, a lot of patterns have been published as well. Here are a few highlights.

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As always this is not a comprehensive list, so please post some of your favorites in the comments below.

Garment

Marnie by Jennifer Wood

Once again, this is a case of styling winning my heart. Cables, cozy yarn, and a flirty skirt? Sign me up! Too bad it is an aran weight sweater making it largely impractical for North Carolina weather.

Child

Baby Beluga by Jessica Anderson

I'll admit, I am partial to unisex kids patterns. There are tons of cute little girl patterns on Ravelry, but finding something designed with little boys in mind is less common. I am already dreaming of knitting up one of these for Pasha in the fall. Maybe in a lovely green?

For the Head

Love Monkey by Valerie Johnson

Continuing my obsession with cables is this gorgeous hat. It's the little pom poms that make this hat for me. I have a yummy skein of DK squirrled away that is just begging to be knit up into this pattern.

For the Neck

Organized Chaos by Sally Cameron

I know multi-colored shawls are everywhere right now, but with good reason. And did you see the name? That should bump it up the list for anyone.

For the Hands

Pasture & Woods 2  by Alicia Plummer

Colorwork mitts are always in season and these have the added bonus of being in worsted weight, which means they should be a pretty quick knit.

For the Feet

Wishing for Snow Socks by Runningyarn Marianne

Marianne wrote in the pattern description that she created these socks after yet another green, snow-less winter. These socks look perfect for those of us who are always dreaming of a white Christmas but never quite get one.

Gift

Hearts Hand Warmer by Fiberton Acres

This is a really sweet free pattern if you need a last minute gift (say if your child's teacher has car duty in the mornings), and they actually sell kits so you don't need to worry about any supplies.

Honorable Mention

Nordic Hearts Socks by Randi Hjelm Debes

I don't know what it is about these worsted weight socks that has my heart a-flutter, but they are so sweet. The pattern includes sizing for both women and men, so if your honey has cold feet these would be a fun Valentine's gift.

What new patterns have caught your eye lately?