Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Random Wednesday Catch Up

Now that the apocalypse has been postponed (and I finally got over my terrible cold) I can get back to blogging.

1) First, a few reading recommendations: I accidentally read Ree Drummond’s (aka The Pioneer Woman) new memoir cover-to-cover yesterday. It is really excellent, a combination of an old western romance and Bridget Jones (if Bridget were a red-headed American from Oklahoma). Yeah, there are some kind of unbelievable parts, and my inner feminist twinged a little, but it's still a good read. Although fair warning: it will leave you craving cinnamon rolls. In fact, I’d probably make some before settling in to read it, preferably on a lazy, rainy afternoon with nothing else to do.

2) On the quilting front: Material Obsession 2 is a great new find. While it is primarily a pattern book, I’ve been lugging it around with me as train reading. I’m realizing I have a much too coordinated approach to color in my quilts, and this book is providing a lot of inspiration for a new project or three.

3) Colin Woodard’s blog. This is a must for any Mainer, or any Maine-lover, or anyone interested in astute socio-political observations salted with just the right amount of history. His book The Lobster Coast remains one of my favorites.

In other news, I have discovered yet a new way of slicing my fingers that does not involve a rotary cutter, heavy gauge guitar strings, or sharp bread knives. It’s called Hand Washing Your Blender, or HWYB for short. In hindsight this is probably fairly obvious to most adults with an IQ above 70, but nonetheless I nicked myself. It actually wasn’t that deep a cut, but one of those that bleed profusely and remind you all-too-well why you never considered a career in medicine.

Incidentally, I had actually forgotten I owned a blender - but I was glad to accidentally find it minutes before I set off to go to Target to purchase a new one. I needed one because my sister’s been doing this Shakeology thing and finally convinced me to try some samples. The first day I had no reaction whatsoever, which confounded my sister given my predilection for Diet Coke and chocolate and all sorts of other junk. However, after three days my intestines are threatening a walk out. I’m not sure if this is proof of just how slow my metabolism is, or just how many toxins had built up in my system. There’s no good answer, I’m sure of it.

This weekend: sheep and wool and yarn, oh my!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Great Cough Across Ireland

My favorite picture from the trip - taken from a golf course in Killarney

Well, I’m back from Ireland – a great trip despite being sick THE ENTIRE TIME and despite my conflicted feelings about doing a bus tour. My friend D. probably deserves sainthood for sharing a hotel room with me. I tell you what, it was INFURIATING to have not been sick in over a year and wind up getting a terrible cold right before my first major vacation in a decade. And as much as I tried to put on a smiley face and enjoy the trip anyway, there's just only so much you can do when you are tanked up on Sudafed. *sigh*

First things first: the Brattleboro hats I made came in quite handy, particularly at the Cliffs of Moher where the wind was whipping quite fiercely. My friend also wore the hand warmers I made her, and I wished I had made some for myself.

I had grand plans to visit a yarn shop in Dublin but it turned out the day we were there was a bank holiday and the shop was closed (as were many others in the city). After getting lost on the Trinity College campus we were forced to eat croissants with real butter and drink tea at a cafĂ© (this one, as it happens). Hardly a tragedy, I assure you. In fact, one of the best things about Ireland was that there was always real butter (I didn’t see one pat of margarine the entire trip) and the default beverage was tea. This was a good thing as the Diet Coke tasted really weird over there. Not nearly as carbonated, for one thing, and for another it was labeled “contains vegetable extracts”, as if it were V-8. It makes me wonder what on earth is in my American Diet Coke – I probably don’t want to know. Also on the plus side: I am normally not a beer drinker but I found it to be much better when consumed on Irish soil…especially when served by cute bartenders with sparkly blue eyes (even if he did refuse to sing along with the rest of my tour group…which, really, one can hardly blame him for, especially after one guy loudly proclaimed that the US should annex Ireland as the 51st state).

But I digress. As we traversed the country to the western coast, we did make a few stops at touristy gift shops, a few of which had a tiny bit of Aran yarn for sale. Aran yarn – at least, the stuff I saw – is pretty hardy stuff; frankly, I can’t imagine hand-knitting much with it. It’s very dense and heavy, and not exactly soft. There were thousands of beautiful sweaters for sale across the country knit with the stuff, but alas I didn’t buy one. The exchange rate was pretty bad, and I had my heart set on buying a wool blanket, so I passed up the sweaters. We did find one yarn shop in Killarney, which was nice but filled to the brim with Noro and Debbie Bliss – all stuff I can easily buy at home. I felt like I had to buy SOMETHING, though, and found some Louisa Harding merino/silk blend yarn that was very reasonably priced. But I had been really hoping to find some in-country spun sock yarn. Next time, I guess.

Adjusting to the time change going over was fairly easy, though there was much coffee/tea ingested to keep us going. However, re-entry to my “real” life was hard, mainly due to the time difference and a very needy cat that was not impressed with my absence (my sister looked after her, but it was clearly not enough company for the cat). But now I’m all adjusted and oddly content. I was perfectly happy to trot off to work yesterday, and thankfully there were no dire emergencies to contend with once I got there. The train was late, as per usual, but there’s nothing I can do about that. And alas, my apartment is still a wreck, but it’s nice to have my fabric, yarn, and the cat once again keeping me company. Apparently, home is where your stash is.