Thursday, June 16, 2016

Balls, Bags, Babies and Blessings

I think knitting has taken over my life!  It's a bad addiction but luckily my OCD doesn't allow me to knit until my chores have been done :) haha... note: only a little bit of this blog post is about knitting

Recently I signed up for a six month subscription of shawl patterns; one being sent each month to my Ravelry account.  There was so much anticipation for the first pattern to be released on June 9th.  I untied my 447 yard skein, put it in a safekeeping place since I could not wind it at the moment, only to come home, pick it up and drop it!  Needless to say, it was a tangled mess! Three hours later, it was wound in a ball.  It got me thinking about a swift and ball winder.  But, they are pricey and do I really  need them?

Instead, I googled ball winder and found out about an unusual item called a  nostepinne.  Then I watched a you tube video and found it I could use a wooden spoon.  I carefully untied my second skein of yarn and started.  It worked great!  You can see my perfectly wound skein of yarn which allows me to pull the yarn from the center in the photo below.

This past week I received such a nice gift in the mail.  I've gotten hooked on reading Life After Money.  Ilona is the very creative lady behind this blog and she is so talented.  She can make something out of nothing!  She recently made up these shopping bags and had a contest on her blog.  I was the lucky winner of one of them.  It's so special that I think I'll use it as a knitting bag.

Speaking of bags, travel fever is taking over our family.  We found we needed some new suitcases and this time we bought super light ones!  With a 50 pound limit per bag, my bag easily gets overweight.  Do you remember the days of 70 pound bags?  Maybe I'm telling you my age...

 My dear daughter is a wonderful Mom to her two children.  But, sometimes I think she forgets that I too raised two children without all the new fangled stuff/ideas that are out there today.  She told me about a blog she read the other day about moms from the 70's.  It perked my curiosity so I found it here.  And, I read it and I really didn't think it was so bad.  No, I didn't smoke, and I didn't make fried bologna sandwiches, but I did use a play pen and swing for the baby.  And, my own childhood summers in the 60's always included red kool aid made with lots of sugar!  And, I never limited the sugar intake with my children.  And, guess what?  They came out just fine.  My, how times have changed.  The other day I was going to give my little grandson a summer drink of sharbat (rose water syrup diluted with water).  He said, "Grandma, I think it has red 40 in it"?  How did he know that?  Sure enough, I read the label and it did!  He drank some milk instead. . .

We had an earthquake last week.  It only registered 5.2 but I felt it!  It's the second one I've experienced since moving to California almost six years ago.  A funny sound woke me up just after 1:00AM.  I popped up in bed and felt the bed swaying to and fro.  I woke up my husband and he told me I was dreaming so I got up, checked the local news on my phone and found nothing. I went back to sleep and the next morning there was the headline showing the 5.2 quake! I'm just thankful it wasn't the big one and that everything was OK.  It seemed surreal. 
Image result for earthquake logo
That's about all that has been happening around here this week.  We're suppose to be in for a heat wave this weekend with highs reaching the 100 degree mark!  I'm not a fan or hot weather but my tomato plants will probably enjoy the heat units.  Have a wonderful weekend and thanks again for stopping by.

With my best wishes,

Pat
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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Life is Too Short to Knit with Cheap Yarn

I can't thank you enough dear readers for the extremely kind comments that you left on my last blog post.  It made me realize that I should have shared things like this a long time ago since it made me see I'm not the only one who can feel this way.  Thank you again!

I'm back today with a knitting post.  Sorry to exclude those who don't knit but maybe this post may encourage you to do so.  I taught myself to knit.  It doesn't take a ton of supplies; just patience.

Awhile back my friend Christine shared her raspberry and apple shawl. When I saw the pattern and the gradient yarn, I knew I had to knit one of these shawls.  The pattern is called Wild Poppies by Charlotte Walford.  At first I was hesitant knitting the lace, but Charlotte writes out the lace pattern along with also providing a chart.  This worked great for me, as I need to read the written pattern versus knitting from a chart.  I bought the pattern on Ravelry.

Gradient yarn was a new concept to me since I had never knitted with this type of yarn before.  A popular yarn is The Wool Kitchen.  However, I wanted to make a larger shawl and I found some gradient yarn on etsy.  I love the way the yarn gradually changes colors; it's fascinating to see the change take place.

On Etsy, I found the perfect yarn.  The color is called Romance.  It comes in different lengths, and I bought the 600 meter length.  (I should have bought the 800 meter length if I wanted a larger size shawl).  This yarn is a blend of merino and silk and it was heavenly to knit with it.  I highly recommend this yarn from Wollelfe.  Wollelfe also sells seed beads (size 6/0) which I bought to add to the edging.  And, although it is shipped from Austria, the shipping was very reasonable.

The shawl pattern is originally written for 400 meters with six repeats on the spine of the shawl.  My plan was to do 9 repeats on the spine but unfortunately, I only had enough yarn to complete 8 repeats.  It was great fun doing the lace border.  If you choose to do this pattern, it's a good idea to leave markers on either side of the middle "fan" so that your stitch pattern will stay even.  I added beads to the last fan design.  I also changed spacing of the picot edging and added a picot in the middle of each pattern section, adding one bead as I went along.  The shawl blocked beautiful and it's now going to be given to a dear family friend in Greece.

One last thing, you can find my notes on this shawl on my Ravelry page.  Recently, I realized that the links I leave for Ravelry only work if you have a Ravelry account.  Sorry about that....I will try and add additional links from now on if I can.  Finally, I just had to share this picture of Lilly.  We had a mini heat wave during the day and Lilly insisted to sleep in her padded bed!  She has ignored this bed for months and now, during the warmest time of day, she wanted to sleep there.  Cats are such amazing little creatures!

Oops, almost forgot about my title to this post.  I've so enjoyed discovering new, fancy yarns.  Gone are my days of knitting with Grandma's Red Heart (which I still have), but it is so glorious to knit or crochet with a fine fiber.  Since I'm always on the lookout for a great bargain, I've found many online websites that sell fine yarn at great prices.  Lately, I have as much fun "looking" for the yarn as I do knitting with it!

It's going to be a busy time here at Lilly My Cat.  Hopefully, I can share some fun times with you in the coming weeks.  Thank you again dear friends for visiting Lilly My Cat!

My best wishes to you,

Pat
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Do You Ever Get Your Feelings Hurt?

Hello dear friends.  Originally, when  I started this blog,  I only shared items I would make or bake or cook but one day my dear daughter told me that my posts should be more personal.  Oh, that took me for a loop since I'm not very good at publicly sharing my feelings.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not an aloof person - just the opposite. My feelings get hurt lots of times.  I've always been that way since childhood.  During adulthood, I went through a long spell where my feelings didn't get hurt. That changed when I moved to California and found myself "lost" so to speak at church and meeting new friends.  I've always been the person who wants to be happy and cheerful all the time and if something goes wrong, fix it, forget it and move on.  I don't have time to be sad or melancholy.

What brought up this subject was a blog post I read the other day  here. A similar thing happened to me when I was in 8th grade.  My group of friends stopped talking to me.  I felt sad but that was life.  The next year our family moved out to the country where I attended the local high school.  I had a wonderful time in high school that totally wiped out all those 8th grade memories.  Fast forward to my late 50's and it happened all over again with a group of church women.  It took me awhile to realize what was happening as none of us were in junior high!  My hurt is scabbed over for now and the only way it was going to stay that way was for me to find a different place of worship.  But, it makes me sad that people can be hurtful to one another.  Why?  In our big, wide, international world of today, we still want to huddle in our little circles and exclude others.  Very sad indeed.

Recently, I participated in a blog exchange where I had the chance to meet some ladies whereby we could talk about about mutual interests.  Somehow, and don't ask me how, it didn't work.  The exchange worked but that was it.  Nothing....it bothered me and it still bothers me.  It made me a bit hesitant to even comment on Ravelry for instance as to whether the other person would respond.  But, the new friends I've met on Ravelry do respond and are very gracious indeed! 

Sometimes, I think we judge others by their outward appearance.  In blog land, we can judge others by the looks of their blogs.  I have tried to make my blog interesting to all people and at the same time still share in what is me.  It's sometimes a fine line as to not offend a reader i.e., discussing politics, religion or other touchy subjects.  Like most people, I have my opinions but I'm not going to voice them in an inappropriate setting.

I've learned a few things in my later years.  Here's what I have come up with:
1.  I'm not going to waste my time with people who I don't like
2.  I'm not fond of pious people
3.  I'm not going to judge someone by how they look or speak
4.  I'm going to treat others as how I would like to be treated
5.  I'm going to avoid situations where I can get my feelings hurt

Maybe the above sounds a bit too harsh.  But, honestly, why should I waste my time in chit chatting with someone who I have no desire to know?  And, as for pious people, I feel bad for them as they think they are the only enlightened ones.  This totally goes against all that their faith teaches. 

Which brings me to judging others as to how they look or speak.  Sometimes I have felt that I would like to wear a sign that says "I don't speak your language but I do know such and such and how to do such and such...."  Do you see what I'm trying to say?  I'm judged by how I look and speak.  

One of our nearest and dearest friends are a couple who immigrated to America in the 60's.  They don't share my faith but what we do share in friendship goes beyond any of that.  They are such good hearted people who would do anything for anyone in need. And, they are not judgmental. This is what real friendship is about.  Not being judgmental as to what faith you have or how you look or what language you speak.

Years ago my good friend told me a story about cookie baking.  She was an expert and she said "do you think God will care if my cookies are perfectly baked?"  I had to laugh as I feel the same way when I bake something; I want it to be perfect.  But, in reality I'm far from perfect and will never be perfect.  But, it would be nice to be remembered for being kind to others.

All is well in my world and I have so many things to be thankful for.  I feel the lessons I learned at a later age will somehow help me to help others.  Just be kind to one another.

With my best wishes,

Pat
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Wedding, Houses, and Knitting of Course!

Hello my dear friends and new readers.  I hope you have had a good week.  I thought I would share a snapshot of what's been happening in my world.

My husband and I attended a wedding on Saturday.  It was a lovely celebration with the reception  held at a hotel on the beach.  We decided to take Uber to the wedding since finding parking in a beach town on the weekends is very difficult.  We've taken Uber before overseas but never in our own neighborhood.  It was really quite pleasant and luckily, my son-in-law showed me how to use the app.  Our driver was a retired management executive who decided to drive for Uber to make a little extra money now that he has lots of time on his hands.  In fact, he now trains new Uber drivers.  The cost was approximately $34; it was higher since it was during a peak time.  Our good friends insisted to take us home after the reception which was very kind of them. (I'm having them over for dinner next week to thank them for their generousity).   In the meantime, our daughter was texting us wanting to know if we arrived safely, etc.  She even texted me to see if our friends would be safe driving us home! I think the parental roles are being reserved now in our later years. . .

Yesterday my daughter called me rather in a panic since she heard a home was on fire in her street.  It turned out to be a home a couple of streets down from her street but still it was a scary situation.  A man had barricaded himself in this home and  had set the home on fire.  In fact, she couldn't get home since the SWAT team had set up a mobile station right in the middle of her street.  After a couple of hours the man surrendered.   From what we know, it looks like it was a domestic violence case that set up this scenario.  I feel bad for all the people involved.  The neighborhood has started  a fund to assist the woman and her two small children who have been displaced.  I'm glad that the fire didn't cause harm to the family or more damage to the surrounding area.

Speaking of homes, last week I told you I would have some news to share with you. We found a new home, agreed on the purchase price and signed the real estate purchase contract.  But, after sharing the news with our children, they had some concerns that apparently we had overlooked.  Long story short, we were able to cancel the purchase agreement.   The home had lots of great perks like a wonderful ocean view, totally renovated with a kitchen to die for, brick wall, and reclaimed barn wood flooring to name a few.  I could just see my gold Egyptian furniture and crystal chandelier against the ultra modern design.  But, it lacked a couple of vital things  that ended up being too critical to ignore.  Again, roll reversal happening with our children.  We initially thought that if we didn't like it, we could rent it out and return to our home which we had planned to keep and rent out.  But, luckily our children were watching over us.  Right now, we have decided that we will stay where we are and even though my husband absolutely hates taking care of the pool, we are happy to stay in our home. 

Above is a little house that is picture perfect in every day.  When my daughter and I went to our Mother's Day tea, we visited a fun garden store.  She saw some of these little fairy gardens and decided she would make one herself.  Since she collects wine crates, she had the perfect beginning to create this mystical garden.  She has a whole collection of these little cottages that she has collected since her youth.  I love the little itty bitty mushrooms.  My little grandson helped her and it was a fun project for the both of them.

 
I'll leave with you this saying that my daughter found for me.  I think it sums up my life perfectly :)  Lately, my knitting has been giving my anxiety (in a fun way, of course), and hopefully I'll soon share with you my Wild Poppies Shawl.  It seems as though I'm in a shawl knitting mode right now.  I recently joined  The Shawl Society #1 on Ravelry.  It looks like a fun adventure!  I still haven't found the perfect shawl for myself but maybe I soon will.  In the meantime, I will knit these shawls and do my own shawl ministry for those in need. 

It's a holiday weekend coming up, so have a wonderful, safe holiday and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.  We plan on staying close to home although we are invited to a bar-b-que to kick off the summer season!  Thank you again dear friends for visiting my blog.  You are my true friends!

With my best wishes,


Pat
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 For the photos, I wish to thank my daughter, Heidi of  Illuminated Luna 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tea and Politics

Do you like the title of this post?  Don't worry as I'm not intending to ruffle your feathers going into politics or religion or other taboo subjects.  But, I thought you might enjoy a bit of something different than my current knitting project (which by the way, is going well).

My dear daughter Heidi took me to tea recently in honor of Mother's Day.  We had a fabulous time at a little tea house near our homes.  Here's Heidi above trying on a lovely hat.  She's going to a wedding next summer in England and wants to wear a hat!  We had a wonderful afternoon of Mother/Daughter bonding.

The tea itself was delightful.  I chose the Queen Catherine blend of tea by Harney and Sons.  It was loose tea, my favorite vs teabags. And, the little tea sandwiches were amazing.  After our tea, we had a nice time perusing the surrounding shops and garden shops.  It was a most fun afternoon.

There's lots of beautiful jackaranda trees in the area where I live.  I read somewhere that the falling of these beautiful flowers is called purple snow.  My ballot for the California primary arrived in the mail this past week.  I thoroughly enjoyed filling it out and putting it in the mail.  I don't vote along a particular party line.  Is it just me, or did you feel that both Cruz and Rubio missed a vital chance to embrace the Hispanic vote?  Aren't they both fluent in Spanish?  I enjoyed the snippets Rubio shared of his Grandfather's life in Cuba.  It's too late now for both of them but their campaign strategies still puzzle me a bit.

  
Speaking of Spanish speaking, here's the article I read this morning.  Have you ever heard of anything so crazy; English only policy?  My family and I travel alot overseas and unfortunately, I only speak English.  I'm always amazed at the superb customer service I receive when someone speaks to me in English or offers me an English menu vs the regular menu.  What is wrong with people today?  To me this is just being polite to your fellow man.  When I go to Turkey they don't tell me to speak only Turkish!  America needs to wake up a little bit.  

And, the above can bring up the illegal immigrants etal problems.  I lived for 22 years in an agricultural community.  The irreplaceable Mexican migrant workers were a VITAL part of the community.  Without them, we wouldn't have all the produce/fruit on our tables.*  Fast forward to southern California....I live in south Orange county which does not have agriculture but we have vast areas of manicured landscaping, building industry and other businesses.  Most of these businesses are owned/managed by Mexican immigrants. And, they do a fabulous job.  Many of them have taught themselves English and have risen through the ranks to own their own businesses.  And, I am suppose to tell them to speak English only?  No way...  Which brings up another item; homeless camps.  Being from the Seattle area, Seattle has a huge homeless population.  Do you think these people in the homeless camps are Hispanic, Spanish speaking?  NO; they speak and look like me.  I really feel it's wrong when we attack a community of people different from us.  And by the way, in my own family are two naturalized US citizens whose primary language was not English. 

I guess to sum up my feeling, I don't like it when we judge or profile people who we may perceive are different from us.  It's happened to me in Egypt and here at church and it's not a good feeling.  Sorry for the rant on my part but sometimes I think I watch or read too much news :)

Have a wonderful weekend.  I'll be busy working on the lace border of my knitted shawl and I'll also hopefully have some exciting news to share with you soon....suspense; haha 

My best to you,

Pat

*It warms my heart when I read about Hispanic immigrant families who have attained their dreams here in America.  It warms my heart when I read about them graduating and attaining their goals here in their adopted country.  Because of their families sacrifice to move to a new country, their children are now doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists to name a few.  To me, that's what America is all about.   

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sadie's Knitted Dress With Pattern Link

Today my post is back to my normal mode of craftiness; that is if I do have a "normal mode" haha.  I have so enjoyed taking part in the Little Woollie Yarny Love Club. This past month I received in my yarn box five skeins of a lovely 100% organic cotton yarn.  I wanted to use the majority of the yarn in one project so I came up with the idea of making my little granddaughter a dress.

Here's Sadie's Swan Valley Dress made from 3 skeins of the cotton yarn.  The pattern and my project notes can be found here on my Ravelry page.  The pattern is written to knit flat from the hem up; knitting the front and then knitting the back and seaming the sides together.  I'm not fond of this idea so I knit the front bodice, followed by the left back and right back bodice.  I seamed these pieces together at the underarm and shoulder.

  Then I picked up stitches all around the waist and did a ribbed waistband, knitting in the round. I increased the stitches and continued to knit the skirt. I did a row of single crochet on the inside of the waistband so that the waist would keep it shape.  I did 5 single crochets for every 6 knitted stitches.

I added a little bit of embellishment for the neckline.

The original pattern called for a unique cast on starting from the hem up.  From the picture on Ravelry, it appears to curl up.  Since I didn't start from the hem up, I was able to do this picot hem edge which adds an extra bit of design to the dress.

Besides the wonderful yarn that was in my yarn club box, I also received some beautiful glass beads.  I incorporated these beads in the dress design by using them as buttons.

It was an enjoyable little project to knit and I enjoyed the details and design as I went along.  I'm not sure how the cotton yarn will stand up so I think it should be hand washed.  As for the Yarny Love Club, the Winter/Summer sign up is currently taking place.  Julie is the one who has Little Woollie and she is in Australia.  I loved being part of this yarn club and although I'm not signing up for the next segment, I do hope to participate again in the fall.  It has been delightful to see what goodies I receive each month.

If you have time, I'd love to hear about what you are currently working on.  Feel free to share a link in your comment.  I'm excited for the weekend as our very good friends are going to be in town for their son's graduation from UCLA law school.   I've known this couple for almost 41 years and my husband's connections goes back  to when he taught the gentleman at Cairo University in Egypt!  It was through this couple's family here in America where I met my husband.  It will be a fun time to reminisce and also celebrate this joyous occasion for their son's achievement.
 With my best wishes,

Pat 
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Friends, Houses, and Mother's Day Tea

Hello my friends.  Can you believe that it's already May; time goes by so fast!  I had a great week here at Lilly my Cat.  I thought I'd share what has been going on...

We had some lovely new friends drop by this last weekend.  Actually, they have rented our new rental property and they were delightful to visit with.  They are a young couple with two perfectly behaved children.  It was nice that they wanted to sit and chat with us older people.  We hope to have them over this summer for a bar-b-que.  Question; are you like me and get nervous inviting children to your home and you don't know how the children will behave?  I remember years ago when I invited some guests over for a spaghetti dinner.  The three year old had that spaghetti all over the chair, table and everywhere else!  It was not pleasant. Since that time, I am a bit hesitant needless to say. . .

We just finished up with our real estate agent selling and purchasing our replacement rental properties.  And, now my husband wants to find a new home for us!  He wants an ocean view.  We've found a property that matches his wants but it's in need of a lot of repairs.  Right now we're not sure we want to go down this route.  It will depend on whether the seller accepts our offer.  Although the kitchen is dated, it has the original Thermodor oven and microwave and it looks brand new - from 1979!  But, it not the outdated items that are making us hesitant - it things like the roof, water damage, old windows and lots of other things.  We will wait and see what happens . . .

Sunday will be Mother's Day and my dear daughter is taking me to tea.  She loves to treat me to this special time together.  This year we are going to a new tea house that we haven't been to before.  My daughter spent two years living in England and loves all things British.  Above is the special breakfast she made for her family last weekend.  The mug on the right is the new Emma Bridgewater mug that I gave her commemorating the Queen's 90th birthday.

This past Sunday was Orthodox Pascha (Easter) and I didn't attend church services.  I did prepare a nice dinner on Sunday and my family came over to enjoy it.  The previous Sunday was Palm Sunday.  My husband and I attended services at the Coptic Church.  In fact, it was a four hour service and we left before it was over!  I have enjoyed going to the regular Sunday liturgy as it is in English/Arabic/Coptic.  But on Palm Sunday, the only thing in English was the sermon and one gospel reading.  Don't get me wrong, I am so happy that the congregants can gather together and worship.  But in the real context, the church is not the place for a non-Arabic speaker.  I couldn't understand a thing.  In theory, it works for me by reading, studying, and understanding the faith.  But in reality when I go to the church, it doesn't work.  But, after these past couple of years of struggling with my faith, I feel OK.  Things will be fine and I'm not going to spend more time thinking about what I should do.  Right now, I'm not going to do anything and see what happens. 

I love to be content like Lilly.  Contentment is a virtue.  If you read my blog, you know I don't like change.  Maybe I'm old fashioned but I don't need to have things reinvented all the time.  In 40+ years of marriage I've lived in four homes.  And, I could have lived in each of them forever.  But, now I've realized (through the wisdom of you  my dear readers), that life does change regardless and I need to go with the flow.  I love my life and I'm not going to complain or waste good time thinking of what was and instead focus on what I have and be happy each day.

Thank you again for your kind comments and for taking the time to visit Lilly My Cat.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

With my best wishes,

Pat
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