twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Miracles, Rookies, and the Ugliest Tree in the World January 31, 2011

Words cannot describe the beauty of this rose

Miracles. Okay, so I live in California. But it is Northern California and certainly cold enough in winter to scrape thick frost off our car windshields in the morning, and cover up with a heavy down comforter at night.

But last week, when so many of you, my dear friends, were being assaulted by biblical amounts of snow and freezing temps, we here in NoCal had record-breaking warm sunny weather. Now I’m not telling you this to brag about it. Rather, I want to show you that Miracles do happen. Even something this small. Something to remind us all that the spiral of the year will indeed turn again. Spring is waiting to step into the shoes—no, snow boots—of old man winter.

This single rose of my singularly favorite David Austin English Rose “Gertrude Jekyll” was waving to me across the yard last Tuesday morning. I couldn’t miss it. And I had to cut it and bring it inside to share with you  all. I wish I could send the fragrance out to you as well, but I can tell you that it is a deep, rich old rose fragrance with a hint of lemon. Absolute heaven.

"Wascally Kitty Cat!"

And just so you don’t think I’m recycling some old photo from last summer, here you can see Miss Lucy smelling her first rose. You’ll recall we brought her home in late August, long after my English roses were finished blooming. You can see here that she’s no wee lassie any longer, either.

As for those Rookies…well, I did a little yarn dyeing last week. It’s been quite a while since I had a chance to do so, so I made a heck of a rookie mistake: In my excitement to get things going, I forgot to add extra ties around the skeins before I set them to presoak before dyeing. Ahem.

Just plain dumb!

It all worked out just fine; in fact I even managed to untangle that pathetic skein (only took 3 hours! It’s the one wound into a ball below), and am currently playing around with it, creating a pattern for some gauntlets. Will keep you updated on that, but it’s coming along nicely and when it’s at a stage where I can show it, I’d love to get your feedback. (By the way, the colors turned out much richer than photographed below. They are indeed bright, but richer although the yellow one is close.)

And then there’s the Ugliest Tree in the World.

It lives in our skinny little backyard. Half dead, pruned all crazy. But this year, along with the 1/2 inch long thorns it has hidden on its branches, it’s covered in tangerines. We usually let the squirrels feast on them (Sorry, Olivia), but there were so many this year we decided to share them.

Later this week I plan on making some tangerine marmalade. Yum.

Destined to become marmalade

Oh yes, and Miss Lucy enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather, too.

"Don't look at me---don't look at me! OMG, I'm so embarrassed..."

I must admit I’ve been neglecting some of my other pursuits to work on my knitting (yippee!) for a change. As a result, I’m very nearly to the waist shaping on my “Global Cables” Jacket. I’m only praying I don’t peter out when I get to the sleeves. I always seem to lose interest somewhere around the elbow of the 2nd sleeve. But recognizing this, perhaps I’ll be able to push past that bit and have something wearable come early spring. It’s often chilly here in the morning, even in the summer. Fingers crossed.

I’m also playing around with designing/making a pair of fingerless gloves using some handpainted KnitPicks sock yarn that I “practice-dyed” last fall for the Bug. The Global Cable coat is inspiring me to make a cable run along the length of the hand. It doesn’t show up that much because of the yarn colors, but oh I love cables!

And speaking of the Bug, she went to her first Middle School dance the other night with her pal.

Youngsters. They’re Miracles. And I guess you could say Rookies, too. 😉


By the sea… January 12, 2011

Warm sun+ full tummies = nap time

…by the beautiful sea…

So last weekend, Captain Romance—the family wanderlust—decided that we needed to do some traveling around out here. This is what we did on Sunday.

Sunday brunch at Sam’s Chowder House. It was actually rather cold here, in the mid-40s with a cold ocean breeze. “You think that’s cold?” you may ask? Considering that a good deal of this lovely country is freezing and buried in snow, and because I remember from being a midwest girl that when the temperature hits the mid-40s, it’s actually shirt-sleeve weather, I guess I should change that description to “cool breeze.” But this is Northern California, and it really does get cold here. Or at least the temperature fluctuates a great deal across the span of a day—often as much as 30 degrees.

Anyway, I digress.

Amazing place, Sam’s.

Rather unassuming from the road, but from the inside, oy, what a view!

It’s right on the ocean in Half Moon Bay. Just a bit north of that stretch of beach where the old surfer dudes park alongside the road, don their wetsuits (in public, no less. I’m waiting for the day one of those guys will be putting on/taking off his wet suit underneath that towel he’s tied—just barely—around his waist, and it comes undone and flies across Highway 1. Probably has happened dozens of times, just not when I’ve been there.), and go splash around in the waves. Don’t they know there are sharks in there?

We must’ve driven past there a zillion times on our way to Moss Beach Distillery , also a very cool place to have lunch. Some of you dear readers have been here with me…you know who you are. Fabulous cozy patio on a bluff. Supposed to be haunted…

Anyway, we’d driven past Sam’s so many times. Couldn’t decide if it was worth stopping or not. Glad we did. New favorite, although I do think the view at the Distillery is a notch up.

The chowders, the lobster roll, and the oyster stew at Sam’s…well, in a word, delectable. Oh yes, and a spicy Bloody Mary goes great with all the above. Here’s what we ate:

Lobster Roll--chunks of lobster covered in melted butter on a toasted roll, homemade slaw, and a kicking Bloody Mary

Oyster Stew...cream, cubes of smoky bacon, cream, thyme, cream, huge plump oysters, oh yes, and cream!

After lunch, we hung out on the back patio and soaked up some rays.

I even got a bit of my Global Warming Coat done while CR and the Bug took a walk along the beach.

Cabling without a cable needle is key

Come visit!

Come visit me and we’ll go there!


Procrastination, resolution, evolution. January 4, 2011

This is what Christmas should look like...

Well, well, my friends. It has indeed been ages and ages since I selected “new post” from my blog menu options. In part because I was plum tired out from my annual end-of-year ride on the crazy train, in part because every time I thought I could jot something down to report and hopefully entertain you all with, I found myself overwhelmed with all the crap stuff that was going on—everything seemed too complicated to put into digest form. So then I’d find something else on my “to do before Christmas” list that I believed was more manageable, such as, “make felted soaps for teacher’s gifts,” or “memorize the Declaration of Independence.”  Ha ha ha. Who am I kidding?

Yes, I admit it. My name is Kathy and I am a procrastinator.

As further evidence of that, besides the blog, you should know that both the felted soaps and the Declaration fell by the wayside.

What did I accomplish over the past month and one quarter? Hmm. Let’s see. Perhaps I can do it as writer Anne Lamott says, Bird by Bird. That is, do one thing, then the next. And I will try to find some way to connect all of it as I go.


I spent many days fulfilling custom orders and restocking the local Aveda Salon that features my work. I enjoy custom work, however I prefer not to do it during the days leading up to the holidays when so many other things are demanding my attention. Wish I’d had time to take some pictures of what I did do, but that was yet another of the things I procrastinated doing until it was too late and the pieces were in the mail to their new owners.

"Who, me...naughty?"


Yes, Lucy has her own spot in my crazytown line-up, along with her best new nickname by far (coined by Captain Romance): Goofus McButthead. You may ask, “why has this innocent-looking pile of fur, teeth, and claws earned this unusual new name?” Well, she has ventured into a career of what I like to call Deconstructive Paper Art. CR calls it: “What the hell heck is wrong with that cat?” Here are some examples of her work:

Her first work, entitled "Chaos in Situ"

She also likes to draw and quarter tiny toy mice, sever power supply cords for small electronic devices (especially while plugged into the wall) and worst of all, nibble through unattended strands of yarn—especially those attached to my current knitting projects. And I was worried about the possibility getting moths.  I’m thinking of sending her to boarding school.

More recent pieces which express a more frantic approach










"Who you callin' Goofus McButthead?"

Oh Happy Day with homemade flourless fudge cake and clams (not together, of course)

Bug Turned 12:

This past December the Bug had her 12th birthday, complete with her “first-in-ages party” at a tearoom with her school chums, as well as a special meal at home with a dear older neighbor friend. Already I’m noticing splashes of angst and drama around here—more than usual. This should be an interesting year.

Knitting Projects:

And one of her birthday presents was this nifty “Werewolf Hat” from Vampire Knits. Luckily this took only 2 days to make as I kept telling myself after my trunk show that I’d have plenty of time to make it and continued to work on other crap stuff. Used some extremely soft and thick Rowan Cocoon I’d snagged for 60% off at the 6:00 AM Purlescence Yarns Pajama Jammie Jam Yarn Sale the day after Thanksgiving. Cleverly bought enough to make a pair of Bella Mittens, which I am contemplating making for her to have in time for her class ski trip…we shall see. I hesitate because if I do, she will certainly lose them; if not, I’ll worry about her little fingers.

Will there be room in the Twilight saga for another character?

Finally finally finally finished Amelia! I so desperately needed a cardigan to take to Chicago for Christmas. Hey, it’s cold there. I was literally sewing the vintage buttons on the night before we left.

Then in a mad dash for Christmas morning, as soon as the buttons were on, I began a pair of toe-up Van Dyke Socks from one of my all time fav sock knitting books, “Socks from the Toe Up” by Wendy D. Johnson of Wendy Knits. I used wonderful Blue Moon Socks That Rock “mediumweight” superwash merino from my stash! These were for my darling mother who is to have some foot surgery soon. Let me tell you, this was a fast knit. And you all know I do not knit fast. I knit most of them on the plane and If I hadn’t had so many errands to do in Chicago after I got there, I would’ve finished them both there. As it turned out, I finished the second sock on the plane ride home and will now have to send it back. But I did finish it!!

The second sock

So there were so many other “birds” flapping around my life in addition to the main things I listed here, including helping out a couple of sick friends, getting teacher gifts ready, shopping and mailing christmas presents ahead, getting the old homestead ready for the house/cat sitter, mailing out custom work, holiday breakfasts and lunches with dear friends, designing, addressing, and mailing Christmas cards…just to name a few. But these things are things we all do before the holidays, so to list them in more detail would be a bore.

One thing I promise myself, though: In 2011, no matter what, I will make myself ready for Christmas early so that making fruitcakes and plum puddings,  and my dreams of caroling through the neighborhood like I did as a young teen will be memories I can share with my Bug and her cousins next year. That instead of throwing presents into gift bags from the Dollar Tree (which are actually quite nice), bleary-eyed at 2:45 AM,  I have a day to wrap a few carefully made or chosen gifts beautifully.

I think I’d better get started now. 🙂

Here’s wishing you all, my dear friends, the happiest new year yet!

A slow-simmering pot of luck-inducing Hoppin' John to ring in the new year



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