Cozy Thoughts

The last few weeks have been spent trying to stay warm, with cozy activities and cozy thoughts. As you know by now, one of my favorite cold weather crafts is crocheting. You just can’t beat the warmth of a puffy toasty crochet blanket, that grows on your lap while you’re working away.  The blanket I’m working on now is still in it’s beginning stages, but we’ve got a few months of winter left in Wisconsin so I’ve no doubt that I’ll finish it before warm weather comes.

And while I absolutely appreciate the wonder of the seasons, I have been dreaming of warm weather. I worked up this forget-me-not teapot cozy free hand, so I now have a little reminder of spring in the kitchen. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, especially for a first attempt. The flower pattern is another freebie found here.

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As if that wasn’t adorable enough, I’ve made some baby goodies. A coworker of mine and his wife are expecting their first child. I don’t know him well and I’ve never met his wife, but babies are worth celebrating so I wanted to give him something small. The hat pattern and glove pattern were both free, and worked up really quickly. I’ve finally bought a Clover Pom Pom maker which are all the rage, and I can see why. Such a nice fluffy pom-pom!

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So enough of the cozy activities, on to the cozy thoughts. I live on a skinny isthmus that runs between two lakes, which have both frozen over for the winter. For the past few weeks Ad and I have noticed a mini evergreen forest out in the middle of Lake Monona. Last weekend, when the temperature was above zero and the wind was not whipping, we shuffled our way out to the trees to see what it was all about. Well I shuffled. Ad is much more capable of staying upright than I am on ice, so he strolled along confidently.

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We found a carefully placed spiral of trees, covered in colorful fabric scraps with little written notes. The spiral is divided into two halves, Entrances and Exits. Each half of the spiral has a little wooden box full of fabric strips, a marker, and some instructions.

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I decided to reflect on an Exit. My great grandpa ,who I’ve always called Pappy, passed away last fall, just shy of his 102nd birthday. His funeral was held in Pennsylvania, and I couldn’t go. Being new at my job, I didn’t have very much vacation time saved up. If I had taken time off of work to drive home for his funeral, then I wouldn’t have had enough time saved up to go home at Christmas. Christmas w/out my family was something I didn’t want to face, so I stayed in Madison and celebrated my Pappy’s life in my own way, as best as I could.

I guess I hadn’t quite finished my goodbye though, and I felt a bit overwhelmed and teary eyed standing in that spiral of trees surrounded by everyone’s reflections on the Exits they had experienced. It felt right to add my Pappy to this community of goodbyes, so that’s what I did.

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Despite the fact that I shared the space in the spiral with some others, and there were happy dogs running around in circles, it seemed a very calm place. The snow keeps things quiet.

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I had my moment, and then we made our way back home again. My head was full of cozy thoughts.

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An Easter Walk

After digging through our Easter baskets this morning and munching on some chocolate, we went for a walk in the sun. The weather has finally improved here, and we’re getting some spring temperatures. The lake is still frozen over, but I think that will soon change.

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We passed lots of flowers pushing through the dirt.

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We are lucky to live where we do. Our neighborhood is quite, pretty, and full of friendly people. In the summer and fall there are always boxes on the curb full of free fresh veggies. Today we found a table full of free seeds! I picked out sunflowers, morning glories, oregano, and marjoram. Apparently I’m not very good at growing seeds, since almost all of the ones I started a few weeks ago have succumbed to damping-off, but I’m determined to keep trying. I think I just need to spend money on some good sterilized growing mixture. Maybe next weekend.

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We ended up at Olbrich Botanical Gardens and Conservatory. It’s only 2 miles from our house, but for some reason we hadn’t gotten there yet. The soggy ground kept us out of the gardens, but the chirping birds called to us from the conservatory! I’m considering places where I could volunteer once I graduate, and this one is now pretty high on my list.

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Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and Happy Spring to those who don’t!

 

 

 

Sunny Weekend

We finally had some sun this weekend, as well as a house guest! Ad’s dad drove all the way from PA to visit us, so we took him around Madison and did all the fun stuff that we never do because we live here. I don’t know why it is, but we never seem to do interesting things in the places we live until a guest from out of town comes. We went to a free art museum on campus, saw a free movie on campus (go see Argo if you haven’t), and had lots of yummy meals out (including food from Afghanistan).

We gave Ad’s dad a walking tour of the campus…

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We also went to the Mustard Museum!

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Mmmm vintage mustard.

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For those of you who don’t know, I really hate mustard. Hate it. Can’t even stand the smell of it. I’m standing in front of a cabinet full of vintage mustard beauty supplies and medicines. One of the tins says “Mustard Bath” and clearly I was saddened by this.

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Before Ad’s dad left today, we took a morning walk at Picnic Point, and stood on frozen Lake Mendota.

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Picnic Point is a long thin strip of land that juts out into the lake. About midway across the point is a Native American burial mound. The spot is beautiful and you can see why it was chosen as a place for something so meaningful.

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And here I am, looking vaguely normal and sporting my new sausage-esque coat. Clearly I chose warmth over style.

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Hope your weekend was just as fun!

 

Long Weekend

It’s the last weekend before the semester starts, and thankfully it’s a long one.  We celebrated Ad’s birthday, took a chilly walk, ate some yummy food, and I wallowed in crafty goodness.

We’ll start with the birthday fun. Here’s the man of the hour, tearing open his presents!

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And blowing out his candles on his fancy home made cake! I found the recipe for the cake here, and it’s a real doozy. Rich, moist, chocolatey  and of course – very easy. You start with a boxed chocolate cake mix and add to it.

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We went to Mickey’s, a local bar, for supper. Our friend Sean surprised Ad with this snazzy Mickey’s shirt!

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Today we took a very cold post-birthday walk. We saw some brave ice skaters, and some even braver ducks. It was 16°F.

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Back to our toasty warm house.

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And of course, I did some crafting.

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Ad fixed some delicious food in his brand new toaster oven, but he’ll tell you about that later!

Nesting

I’ve gotten a bit behind on blogging lately, so I’ll double up this weekend. I’ve had a few requests from people to see more pictures of the house, and I’m happy to share some now that it’s finally coming together.

I’ll show the living room first, since exciting things have been happening there! We had house guests a few weekends ago, Melynn (Ad’s Mom) and Ross. At one point during the visit, Ad and Ross went off to check out a futon frame found on Craigslist. They came back with a couch! Apparently the futon frame was too rickety, but they couldn’t resist a free couch that they found sitting on the curb. The couch was nice and clean, and even smelled good! Yeah, I sniffed it. But there was a problem….after about 20 minutes of struggling it became clear that there was no way that couch was going to fit up the stairs to our second floor apartment. Not to worry! With Ross’s help and rope tying expertise, we hauled the thing up and over our deck (again, on the second story), through the bedroom door, and into the living room.

Ross and Ad, preparing the couch for it’s aerial adventure. This photo was shot from the deck.

Success!

Here are some less dramatic pictures of the living room. I love our built in book shelves.

The view from our living room window. Just behind those houses is a lake!

On to the kitchen. There’s not a lot happening here, it’s a pretty big space that I’m having trouble decorating. It’s all so white! I neglected to get a picture of the cupboards and counter top, probably because there were dirty dishes everywhere. But here’s our table and chairs, a $30.00 thrift store find…

A house is not a home until the fridge is fully decorated.

And now to the bedroom. There’s still some work that needs to be done in here. I’d like some nice curtains, not the subpar ones that I made because I was getting tired of not having any. We could also use another rug, a bed side table, and maybe some more throw pillows, but all in good time. First you get to see the dresser, another curbside freebie that we couldn’t have managed w/out Ross’s help. We were on our way somewhere else, when we saw the dresser and pulled over. We loaded it into the car,and since there wasn’t room for the four of us and a dresser, Melynn and Ad took it back to the house while Ross and I waited for them to come back and get us. While we waited, the woman who had put the dresser on the curb came out and gave us the original hardware. She had taken the drawer pulls off off because she was worried the dresser would just end up going to the junk yard, and she didn’t want to see the lovely hardware go there too. It pays to loiter!

Here’s Ross using wood glue and rope to put the dresser back together. It was in a pretty sorry state when we picked it up.

And here you can see the finished product. That giant Boston fern was only $8.00 at the farmers market. A bargain!

And lastly our bed, another Craigslist purchase. It has some beautiful carvings on it, and it must be quit old because it had to be lengthened at one point to fit a standard sized full mattress.

I’ll post some more house photos in the future, maybe when the Christmas decorations are up! It’s taking all my strength to wait until after Thanksgiving for that.

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We know that we promised you more pictures of Switzerland, but we’re more excited about our new house right now! Here’s a picture of our mid century mod-70s-garage sale-thrift store style living room. We think it works.

In the photo you can kind of see our newest acquisition, an awesome coffee table. Ad earned it, since he bothered to read to the very last page of the furniture postings on craigslist.

On a cuter and more bizarre note, we have acquired our first house plant. A few blocks away we found a small stand selling plants and seed pods to raise money for sea turtles! Kudos to the parent who is helping their child do this, we think it’s awesome. We put in a buck and selected this bad boy. If you know what it is, please tell us, so that we can love it properly.

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We’re moving to Madison! But not for another 3 months. We’re excited! Here’s why:

1. We’ll be in our own apartment.

2. There will be thunderstorms.

3. Fall will smell like fall.

4. There will be actual snow.

5. We’ll be living close to a lake.

6. We won’t be living under a flight path.

7. Ad gets to study rocks!

8. Alison gets to study social work!

9. America’s largest produce-only farmer’s market.

10. We’ll have a yard.

11. We’ll live in a neighborhood with sidewalks.

12. Closer to family.

13. New state!

14. Hopalicious…Ad will explain in a later post.

15. Free bus passes, courtesy of UW Madison.

While we’re happy to be moving on, there are certainly some things that we’ll miss about the Pacific Northwest…