If You Had Been Here

kaffe stuga

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have had a sucky ass run on Friday morning. You would have been discouraged that the intervals that had been so easy on Wednesday instead on Friday each felt like a marathon. You would have chalked it up to experience and decided that today’s run will be better.

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have celebrated your friend Anne’s birthday. You would have had wine and pizza and chocolate cake.

On the way home from the party you would have found an injured deer by the side of the road. You would have gotten very upset and cried about her plight and you would have sat in the car while your husband and a police officer tried to find her and help her. You would have wondered for a long time afterwards whether she survived or not.

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have gone to the Kaffe Stuga at the First Lutheran Church with your girlfriends, Anne, Jo-Ann and Sharon. You would have taught your friends all about Swedish food and you would have bought a few Christmas presents along with some Swedish rye bread and cardamom bread and meatballs. You would have enjoyed a wonderful lunch complete with open faced medwurst sandwiches and tea sandwiches and Swedish desserts. You would have eaten too much and reveled in knowing that being Swedish at Christmas time is a wonderful thing to be.

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have relaxed in your new den Saturday night. You would have listened to music with your husband and your daughter and you would have cheerfully argued about your favorite Beatles song. You would have introduced your daughter to Prairie Home Companion radio and explained Swedish jokes to her. You would have eaten pheasant that your husband had provided.

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have gotten up Sunday morning and written a blog post about the day ahead of you. You would have made breakfast with the eggs that your friend Sharon brought you. And you would have had toasted Swedish limpa bread with your eggs.

You would have gone for a drive to one of your favorite summer spots. You would not have gotten out of the car at the beach because . . . wind. But you would have enjoyed the scenery and the very large woodpeckers. And the company.

You would have come home and had bourbon and snacks and watched Homeland by the fire.

You would have watched the Pats completely trounce the Colts. And you would have stayed up too late.

If you had been with me this weekend . . .

You would have had a very good time.

Sunday Thoughts

couch corner for carole knits

It’s Sunday morning and it’s cold. 20° when I got up at 7am. Brrrr.

Cold or not, though, the whole day stretches before me. What will it bring? What will we do?

A hearty homemade breakfast, that’s pretty certain. Sausage and eggs, I think. And then?

Perhaps a drive somewhere pretty? A country road or along the ocean?

Perhaps a stop somewhere for a drink and a snack. Or a little shopping somewhere quaint.

Or maybe we should stay home and do some yard work. And knitting.

I know one thing, whether we venture out or stay home, late afternoon will find us by the fire, with a cocktail and oven roasted tomatoes & goat cheese.

I love the possibilities of a Sunday without plans.

Show & Tell Saturday: The New Den

Part of the reason I have been holding off on showing you the remodel of our den is because I have had a hard time finding before pictures. You would think, at this point in my blogging career, that I would have been smart enough to have taken photos before we started this remodel. Before we ripped out the existing window. Before we replaced the ceiling. Before we put down new carpet over the old and ugly yellow linoleum. Before we took down the green & blue plaid wallpaper that was falling off in spots anyway.

But no. I did not.

I did, however, manage to find a blog post and it shows the room at the mid-point of the last redo.

Here – go look at it. I’ll wait.

You’re back already? I know, my pictures weren’t great in those days. Whatever. Now that you’ve seen photos of the room let me tell you a few things that were different by the time we changed it again. For one, there was wallpaper. Also, we moved the green thing and the chair from Ikea into the guest room and a piano was against that wall instead. The bench that held my fiber had been moved upstairs to my craft room as had the yarn that was on the shelves. The floor was the same, the window was the same and the computer desk was the same.

As I have mentioned briefly already, we gave the piano away and we got Dale a laptop and that basically gave us an empty room to play with. We wanted to keep the shelving but we wanted to ditch that window so that we could put a small couch there without it having to be right in front of the window. And have I mentioned that this room is tiny? As in 8 feet by 10 feet tiny.

Okay, ready?

den wide shot for carole knits

Here’s the shot of the room from the dining room doorway. Where you see that white table is where the computer desk used to be. And the wood paneled wall at the end is where the green thing and chair were in the post from 2006. Got it?

new window for carole knits

So, the window was removed and replaced by this custom (read: expensive) window. And it was worth every penny. It lets in beautiful morning light and both windows crank open. It’s got a perfect little windowsill for displaying seasonal things and more. And I love it.

That ugly yellow linoleum was covered by a very pretty and neutral berber carpet. We also got much needed new carpet in our living room and bedroom. Hooray!

couch corner for carole knits

The couch is from Lay Z Boy and we got it on a great sale they had this summer. As in, 33% off all furniture, even custom pieces, which this happened to be. Now. I am not one to be very picky about furniture. Every other piece we have has come from Jordan’s Furniture and has been selected from the showroom floor. But. I wanted a denim couch for this room. And denim furniture? Not very easy to come by unless you’re willing to spend $4000 on something from Pottery Barn. I might have even been tempted to do that if I could have found a piece small enough to fit in this room but apparently everyone who buys furniture at Pottery Barn lives in a house the size of, well, a barn. But I digress. My point is, the couch was on sale and I got it in denim and it’s l-shaped and that’s just what I wanted. We originally planned to put it right into that corner but for now I like it centered under the window. One one side of it is an end table from L.L. Bean and on the other is that white tray table piece that I got from Target.

light fixture 1 for carole knits

The other thing I truly love about this room are the lights. Can I just take a moment and say, holy crap but lighting is expensive! These were 1/4 of the price of the ones I originally wanted and Dale still thought I was crazy. But really – just look at them and their silver-y vintage-y goodness.

light fixture 2 for carole knits

I mean. C’mon.

bookcase for carole knis

The bookcase got updated with a coat of white paint and a complete culling of all books and other junk that had a tendency to accumulate there. I painted the baskets black and bought some nice black storage boxes for DVDs and photos and once we put everything back we found that we even had room for a few extras like a picture I took in Gettysburg and some other interesting pieces.

old window for carole knits

The artwork is sorely lacking at this point as all that is up is the sign about meeting me at the raw bar (anytime, just say the word!) and a Thanksgiving quilted wall hanging (which will be coming down in 2 weeks) and this window that we hung on the wall to the right of the doorway. This came from our attic and I saved it for just this purpose. My plan is to have a couple of my pictures printed up to hang behind the glass and change seasonally.

I owe so much to our awesome contractor, Billy, and our mad skilled electrician Shawn, and my very patient husband who put up with my plans and ideas and didn’t say a word when this went over budget a bit. We have found this to be an excellent spot to go to at the end of the day to share a drink and a snack and catch up. Or for taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Or as a place to hang out and read when the TV in the other room is on. And now that it’s finished it was all worth it — the darkness when the old window was pulled out and the hole was boarded up for weeks waiting on the custom window to arrive. The dust when the new ceiling was installed and the old walls were re-coated and sanded.  The hours of painting and sanding and shopping.

All worth it.


Eye Candy Friday

rust colored mum for carole knits

We’re supposed to get snow today. Not much and hopefully not enough to destroy the mums and pumpkins but you just never know around here. So I’m admiring them while they last.

Find something to admire today, my friends.

Throwback Thursday: Soft As A Grape Revisited

One of my ideas that I shared with the other participants in NaBloPoMo was that we could occasionally republish an old post from our blog. Something that we felt particularly good about or that didn’t get much attention at the time. I know it’s kind of a cop out but this work week is condensed and intense since I took Monday off and Tuesday was a holiday and my time for blogging right now is exactly . . . zilch. 

And so, I thought, do a Throwback Thursday of an old blog post. Something from waaaaaaay back in the day. I wasn’t sure what to choose but then a friend on Facebook mentioned making grape jelly and inspiration struck. Allow me to present, from back in October of 2005, when my writing was good but my pictures were small and not-so-good, the post I wrote about making grape jelly with Dale’s mom.

Dale grew up with a grape arbor in his backyard. He has loads of stories about the grape harvest every year – including the accomplishment of stuffing 100 grapes in his mouth. Dale_Grapes.jpg
He fondly remembers grape fights and tossing grapes into the air to catch them in his mouth. He chuckles when he tells the story of tossing a handful of rocks, rather than grapes, into the air for his brother, Randy, to catch and swallow. He also remembers the year the grapes fermented on the vine and the birds all got drunk. But mostly what he remembers is drinking the grape juice and eating the grape jelly his mother made every year.

My mother-in-law, Ruthie, was what we often refer to as a “character.” She was loving and funny and silly and believed fiercely in protecting the earth. She walked to the river behind our houses every day that she could and nothing made her happier than just being outdoors. She was ahead of her time by recylcing way before anybody else did. She conserved water and resources and could squeeze the life out of a dollar like nobody I’ve ever known. Making juice and jelly from the grape arbor in her yard was something that she enjoyed. But she also saw it as a responsibility, a way of reaping the benefits of the land and feeding her family with the results.

Six years ago I asked Ruthie to teach me to make grape jelly. Now, with apologies to Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the day you make grape jelly must be hotter than the hinges of hell. So, on this particular day in September, I headed next door to make grape jelly, in the heat, with Ruthie. We laughed and we talked and we sweated and by the end of the day we had about 4 dozen jars of jelly and 4 big bottles of juice. I had learned to make the jelly and I have made it every year since. And it has always been hot and humid on the day I’ve made it.

Ruthie passed away this past winter and, while we hadn’t made jelly together in recent years due to her illness, this is still the first year I’ve done it without her being right next door. As I said to Dale while we were picking over the grapes that he and Hannah had picked the other day, I do this to honor his mother’s spirit. She taught me to do this and continuing the tradition is a way to keep her and the things that mattered to her alive – not just for the sake of her memory but for our whole family. Because, of course, the jelly will be shared with the family. And co-workers and the mailman and the neighbors, too, depending on the harvest.

Most people probably wouldn’t bother with this anymore. They’d leave the grapes for the birds or just let them rot on the vine. They are probably the same people who buy their socks at Walmart and their sweaters at L.L. Bean. Nothing wrong with that but no real sense of accomplishment. No pride in the finished product. No piece of yourself in every mouthful of juice and schmear of jelly. All of that and also the fact that nothing, but nothing (except maybe the magic of knitting) compares to starting with this:

and winding up with this:

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