Friday, February 27, 2009

"Spinning and Blending....."

As you probably remember, Don gave me a Strauch drum carder in December. I LOVE using it!! I carded some more of the Icelandic fleece and dyed it using Country Classics "Blue Spruce". While dyeing the wool, I also put some nylon roving in the crock pot which would be blended on the carder with the wool to add strength to the yarn. This is the blended batt of nylon and wool. Variations in the batt are due to the natural moorit color and the dyed wool/nylon, giving it a more "heather" look. ;)

Ahhhhhh.......another one of Don's pre-shower photos. I look so unkempt. :( But to go past my appearance, I am holding what was once a carded batt, but I tore it into a more "roving like" state, which I was then rolling into a "bump" (a ball of roving). I hope I have that correct(?).

Beginning to spin the wool into a "single" of yarn, that will then be plied with another single to make a 2 ply yarn, which I will use to knit myself a pair of socks. :)

Another view......

Oiling parts of the wheel to help it spin smoothly and prohibit those areas from "squeaking". This was taken post shower......I guess there really isn't much difference, is there? So sad..... :(
My spinning wheel is a Kromski Minstrel (I know I have already mentioned that in another post, but thought I'd remind in case anyone was interested). :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Jonathan's Turn....."

I sent Jonathan the pair of boot socks that I knitted from the Icelandic wool 2 ply yarn (shown on the blog, February 11) . He received them yesterday and sent this photo, also commenting on how they matched his sweater. I was a little afraid they might be a little too big (just from looking at them, but then, to me, all of my hand knit socks look big until put on), but he said they fit fine. Thankfully, he doesn't have any allergies towards wool either. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We received a voice mail from our friends Becky and Rosa a few weeks ago, asking if we were going to be home. Obviously, since it was a voice mail, we weren't. :( I called her back and she said there was a package (a belated Christmas gift) out on the deck that they had left for us. Upon opening it, we found these beautiful handcrafted glass plates, made by Becky's sister. They now live in our front room, showing off their bright colors in the morning sun.

Thank you Becky and Rosa!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Tania Tandias Dancers and more...."

The next group that we were able to get photos of were from the Tania Tandias Dancers. The dancing didn't allow for clear photos, but they do show the energy and flow of movement that made the dances beautiful.

A variation of the Flamenco and other Spanish dances were performed.

The dancers dresses and hand movements created so many interesting flows of energy.

Tania Tandias solo......

We also went to see the group Navan, who performed songs in the six native tongues of the British Isles, and also The Heather Highland Dancers, who performed traditional dances of Scotland and Ireland.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Overture International Festival....."

Saturday was the International Festival, which was held at the Overture Center. We actually got moving fairly quickly that morning, since festival activities began at 11 AM.

The Swiss Alphorns are from New Glarus. The Alphorns are actually made from pine trees that grow from the side of a mountain. That is how the bend is created at the bottom of the horn. It grows out from the mountain, then curves, reaching for the sun. :) The tree is cut to approximately 12' long, then split in half, carved out, and then put back together, making the hollow horn. In Switzerland, they were used to communicate from mountain village to mountain village. All the sounds that come out of the horns are made by the person using only his mouth while blowing into the horn, similar to how the early trumpet worked, I guess. The music was slow but varied and quite beautiful.

The next performance we saw was put on by the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association. They performed the traditional Chinese Lion Dance. The music accompanying the dance was made by drums and cymbals.

There were 4 or 5 lions (2 person)....all going different directions.....

Colorful, eh?

They even went up onto other levels of the Overture Center. We left after awhile to go to the next performance that we'd chosen to see.......The Tania Tandias Flamenco Dancers, whom you will see in tomorrow's blog entry. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

"More Family Homes....."

These two houses meant a lot to me as a child. The one straight ahead was my great grandparents, with my grandparents house to the right. Yep, my grandmother got married and moved right next door to her parents.....after a "very" short stint of country living, that is. Grandpa was a farm boy, but he must've loved my grandma very much because he gave up farm life to move into the city. I remember their of driving out to his relatives nearly every Sunday to visit, so in a way, I guess he had the best of both worlds. :)

My great grandparents house hasn't changed much, but my grandparents home has changed quite a bit. The entrance has been moved from what used to be a glass porch towards the middle of what was the living room, and a front deck has been as well.

Don commented that my great grandparents world was "compact". They lived around the corner from their church, and great grandpa's little grocery store was in the next block from their house. In a newspaper article honoring great grandpa, it stated that he never took a vacation, with the exception of 6 months off due to some surgery (some vacation, eh?), in over 50 years.

My memories of my great grandparents is limited. They passed away about a week apart when I was five. The numerous stories that my mom and grandparents told, I'm sure have given me many of those memories. In that sense, they are always with me.........

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"The SUPER Amaryllis....."

These photos were taken when the Amaryllis was in full bloom. 13 BLOSSOMS!! As I mentioned earlier, there is another flower stalk growing, which is better seen in the 2nd photo.

The display was spectacular!

Unfortunately, the flowers are beginning to droop and we'll soon have to cut the flower stalks off, although we do have the blossoms from the 4th flower stalk to look forward to. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Valentines Day Dinner...."

I made a special dinner for Don on Valentines Day. He'd seen this recipe online, in the New York Times, and forwarded it to me. It truly is a pork lovers delight........ ;)

It is a "Bacon Wrapped Sausage Roll". That doesn't tell the half of it though, as you will soon see. :)

First step is to take a pound of bacon and weave it into a mat. Sprinkle it with BBQ spices (I used a Cajun Spice Mix that I had).

The mat is the covered evenly with 2 pounds of sausage. I used breakfast sausage although the recipe called for mild or hot Italian sausage.

Another pound of bacon is fried and crumbled to layer on top of the sausage.

BBQ sauce is drizzled over that and more Cajun Spice Mix sprinkled on, too.

The sausage is then rolled into a log, being careful to keep all the layered ingredients inside the log.

Then the bacon mat is rolled around the sausage log.

The finished Bacon Wrapped Sausage Roll ready to be baked. The original recipe called for it to be smoked, but since we do not have a smoker, the oven is what I chose to use. It could also be baked on the grill for the smokey flavor, too.

After the roll's inside temperature reaches 160 degrees, it is done and removed from the oven. The roll is then brushed with more BBQ sauce and put back into the warm oven while the rest of the meal preparation was completed.

The sliced roll which shows the pinwheel effect of the inner layers. I have to admit, it was delicious. We had it for 2 nights in a row and have yet another meal left over.

Are you salivating? LOL Didn't Don do a fantastic job of documenting the roll "construction"? His little sounds of pleasure while eating it made it all worthwhile, too. ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Union Terrace....."

How strange to see Union Terrace void of chairs/tables/multitudes of people sitting/talking/having a good time. It is such a vital part of university activity during warmer weather. Behind me is the "band shell", where live music is performed many a night.

Don sitting on one of the picnic tables that usually are along the shoreline of the terrace. During warmer weather, the space they are now occupying is filled with the "special" university chairs/tables painted yellow, orange, and green.

What a spectacular view from the terrace. Easy to understand why it is such a popular place to come and be social, eh? :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Then and Now......Lake Mendota's Statue of Liberty...."

In the winter of 1978, Ms. Liberty was constructed on Lake Mendota. For some unknown reason, she was vandalized and burned. So, trying once again in the winter of 1979-80, she was constructed and remained safe.

Don helped in constructing Ms. Liberty #2, as you can see from this photo. :)

She was beautiful!

Although the photo is slightly out of focus, you are able to see her reign over Lake Mendota, her gaze upon the Union Terrace. :)

Ms. Liberty once again reigns over Lake Mendota and gazes upon the Union Terrace. We visited her on Saturday.

The last time she gazed on the Union Terrace was 12 years ago. Storage has not been kind to her as you will see in the close up below. I mentioned to Don that her eyes look very sad, too.

Her re-appearance has drawn many, many people down to the terrace, taking photos and walking down memory lane, as did Don. :) She is missing the spike parts of her "crown", but she is still a very commanding presence.

Friday, February 13, 2009

"The House/Neighborhood Where I Grew Up......."

Don used "Microsoft Maps" and "Google Street View" to find these photos for me. This is the house in which I grew up. My parents moved to the country after I'd left home and was living/teaching in Niles, MI.

The now tall Maple tree behind the house was one that my Dad planted. I remember when he went to a friends (whom I was named after) property and dug it up to bring home for planting. It wasn't a tiny twig by any means, but a fair sized tree. It obviously has done well over the years. Our street was lined with large Maple trees, which are now all gone. One of our 2 out on the boulevard was lost when I was still in grade school, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they have all disappeared. It just seems so hot and desolate looking........

The one car garage is now gone, too. My Dad had paved the entire driveway, and also a large patio area outside the back door (the width of the house), with brick pavers he recycled from the city of Benton Harbor, when they tore up brick streets to replace them with cement and/or asphalt.

We lived almost exactly in the middle of the block (black roof). An aerial view includes my grade school, Sterne Brunson (originally called May Street School), in the lower left hand corner of the photo. I went there through the 6th grade. Such a long walk to school, eh? :)

My cousin Jill, lived "kitty corner" (up in this photo) across the street from us. Her house is the larger one, right above the small one with the brown roof.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I had knitted a pair of socks for Maniphone, using the 100% Superwash Merino wool that I'd spun late last year. I'd started them prior to my knee surgery, but took a short hiatus from knitting (not being able to focus and getting sleepy too quickly) afterwards, and finished them last week. The US Postal Service quickly got them to her yesterday (after sending them on Monday), and she sent me this photo last night! Now THAT was quick! :) Thank you for the photo record Maniphone! Enjoy the socks! ;)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Icelandic 2 Ply Yarn......"

I bought a "raw" (unwashed), "morrit" (natural brown color) Icelandic Sheep fleece from Joan, who lives in Maine. I washed it awhile ago (November 18, 2008 blog entry), carded a portion of it (December 8, 2008 blog entry), dyed some of the carded batts, and then spun singles of the dyed and some of the natural. After filling a bobbin of each, I then plied the 2 together. This is the results of that plying. I took a few photos, with this one showing the closest to the real color of the yarn. I've begun knitting a pair of socks with this yarn and I like the feel of it. I'm using a pattern for "boot socks", as this yarn is a little heavier than some of the other sock yarn I have spun before. They'll be nice and warm.....THAT is guaranteed! :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Amaryllis 'Ambiance'......"

We received a potted Amaryllis bulb from Don's sister, Bonnie, and her husband, Eugene, for Christmas. We watered it and waited.....and waited....and waited......until it finally sprouted about 10 days later. I'd hoped to have photos of it as it grew, but my best intentions went awry. A little surgery got in the way.... ;)

I finally got it together enough to start taking photos again as the buds began to open. There are 3 flower stalks whose buds are opening as I write, with another one about halfway as tall, "a late sprouter", which is nice, as we'll have a longer period of bloom.

The 2 flower stalks closest to the camera each have 4 flower buds apiece. The one in back has 5!

Anticipation builds.......

It is going to be rather crowded up there, eh? ;)

The flowers are huge and beautiful!

This last photo was taken yesterday. Unfortunately, the sun was not cooperating yesterday and the day was rather gloomy. I still am amazed that there are 13 blossoms!

More photos will be taken as the flower buds continue to open and will be posted at a later date. :)