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Oh Helen

Not only have I finished a pair of socks this summer, but I also started – and finished – a new scarf.

This is Oh Helen.  It’s another free pattern I found on Ravelry.

The yarn is Twirl Twirling Petals; I bought it at Yarns on First during our day trip to Napa when we were visiting Rooster and his wife.

I mentioned, in previous post, how easy of a knit those socks were.

Y’all, this scarf was even easier – as long as I paid attention to which side I was on.  I may have had to tink back ten or fifteen rows after I discovered that I had gotten off track.


Let’s talk about the yarn a minute.

This was the first time I’ve ever had to remove pieces of debris from the yarn I’ve knit with.  It was a little annoying.

With that said, I absolutely love the colors in the yarn and the way it’s spun (or is the term plied?) together.

Because gauge wasn’t important, I decided to use both skeins.  Waste not want not!  Here’s what I had left.

What can I say?  I like to live life a little dangerously when it comes to knitting.

I gave the scarf a bath in cool water when I finished.

I should have taken a picture of this pre-blocked.  It’s a pain to pin out knitting projects, but the results are always worth it.

See how open the stitches are?  The pattern really shines through because of the blocking.

For blocking, I use thick, foam play mats that fit together like puzzle pieces.  They are the perfect thickness for the stainless steel T-pins and blocking wires that hold my knitted pieces down.

The scarf only took three days to knit – not even full days, mind you.  Because I used size 8 needles, my hands didn’t cramp up.

The yarn is a blend of Alpaca, goat, and wool, and boy is it warm.

Photographing this in 80+ degree heat and humidity was fun.  Ahem.

I’d originally taken pictures of the while I was wearing flowered shorts and a pink flowered shirt, which I had worn while visiting with a friend earlier that day.

And I posted said pictures on Instagram – because I’m extra like that.

When I looked at the pictures, I realized that I was committing a grand faux pas and not showcasing my work very well.

This is definitely a scarf that begs to be matched with something solid.

The lacy pattern needs to be set off with a darker background.

Although I’ll be back in school by the time I can start wearing this, at least I’ll be grinding away in style.


Knitting Shenanigans

As you have probably seen, I’ve been taking the low-key approach to my summer vacation.

Not only have I been spending a lot of time at the pool, but I’ve also indulged in a bit of TV time.


I’ll not apologize, though.  First off, it’s World Cup season, and I’ve had a blast watching every other team beside the U.S. play (you should see me rolling my eyes right now).

That requires a lot of sitting time, which has translated into knitting time.

If you followed my posts about my trip to California, you saw a running theme – socks – or rather the creation of a pair.

I finished them about a week after we got home.

These are my Hermione’s Everyday Socks, the second pair I’ve made from the free pattern I got off of Ravelry.

It’s a seriously-easy, easily-memorized pattern, so it was perfect when I was distracted by close games that often ended in PKs.

Do you see that calf muscle action happening?  It’s the 80 Day Obsession, my friends.  I did crop out my rear end from these pictures.

You’re welcome.

The yarn is Brazen Stitchery Paparazzi Sock, and the colorway is Headmaster.

Go ahead and marvel at my cleverness when pairing the yarn and pattern together.  This is what happens when a teacher is on summer vacation – her brain starts working properly again.  Ha!

I purchased the yarn in San Antonio (Inskein Yarns) when we were out there for Rooster’s basic training graduation.  I guess you could say that these socks are now one of my souvenirs from that trip.

Not that I need to justify any yarn purchase.


I did a rib cast on, which I found here.

If you want to see more details about the socks, check out my project page on Ravelry.

Beach Day

I thought I’d give you a recap of how the Mr. and I spent our 4th of July.

Being empty nesters allows us to march to our own beat, so to speak.

First, we both slept in.  I started off the summer so well . . . getting up early each day to walk.  Since getting back from California, I haven’t been able to, though.  I was exhausted the first week and gave myself some grace.  I hurt my back the second week and am still healing, so walking has been out.

I did manage to get dressed in my favorite workout shirt, an homage to my Rooster, and do Leg Day of the 80 Day Obsession program I’ve been making my way through.

Excuse the bed head.  I had not even brushed it at this point.  I knew I needed to get on the ball with my exercising before the Mr. started hollering.

A couple of hours later, we headed out to one of our favorite spots . . . the beach.

Parking was a bit of a nightmare with a bajillion other people taking advantage of the gloriously sunny day.  Fortunately, we found a space on our second pass-through.  We’d packed a little lighter because of my back and settled in for the afternoon.

The Mr. had ordered me a patriotic bikini, and the visor was the one I’d found at the BX during our visit to Rooster’s base.

Ahhh . . . toes in the sand (the prettiest sand I’ve ever seen).

Oh my word, but the beach was c-r-o-w-d-e-d.

People were almost sitting on top of one another.  I can’t say that I like it when it’s that busy.

I’d read that the water had been clear for the past few days.  Boy, was it ever.  It was also freakishly hot, so many, many people stayed in the water.

A big gripe now.  I really wish that smoking would be banned from the beach.  Even though I grew up in a home where the adults smoked, I have become very sensitive to it.  It seemed as though EVERYONE around us was smoking that day.  It was so gross and gave me a headache.


One more grip:  Why are people so rude and sit in front of you and then set up tents?  We are very careful when we set up shop so that we won’t block others’ views of the water.  Ugh.

All of my complaining aside, it was a glorious day.  The forecast had called for rain.  I’m glad we ignored it because we didn’t see anything.

People watching is something we enjoy doing at the beach.  Take a look at this guy . . .

He was feeling the holiday.

We left around 4pm, sandy, tired, and hungry.

After feeding the dogs, who were extremely happy to see us, a shower, and a change of clothes, we headed out to dinner.  Nobody felt like cooking, that was for sure.

We had a 50% coupon for Bonefish Grill, a reward we’d earned after three qualified visits.  What can I say?  We really like this place.

I had been wanting a beachy drink.  This one hit the spot.

Dinner was wonderful, as it always is.  I always get the House Salad.  It’s light and hits the spot.  A former student who works as a server came over and spoke to us for a few minutes.  We see him almost every time we dine at Bonefish.  It’s always fun to catch up with my kids once they’ve left high school.  He’s turning out well, which does my heart good.

There was a long table beside us filled with some older folks.  One cute-as-pie lady gave us sparklers, which she’d made, and told us to have fun.  We assured her that as empty nesters, we were doing just that.

The Mr. suggested that we watch one of the many fireworks displays in town, but I said no.  I’m a homebody at the core of my being and just wanted to be with my fur babies.  Plus, I needed time to mourn for Molly (I didn’t say this to the Mr.).  The sad stuff had been building all day and it just needed to come out, privately.

It turns out that this was the best decision because he didn’t feel too great later that evening.  It had been a fun, albeit exhausting day.

Plus, we’re old like that.

One Year Later

July 5, 2017 was a day I’d rather forget.

It was the day when I lost my beloved fur baby, Molly.

One year later, the pain is almost as unbearable as it was that tragic day.

One year later, I’m still wiping tears from my face as my thoughts frequently turn to her.

Some people might think it’s dumb to grieve so deeply over a dog, but she was so much more than that to me.

She was a member of my family – my little shadow – the neck that I hugged after a bad day.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her . . . when I don’t miss her, even with all of the quirks that she had.

Every time I lift my wrist to check the time, I see one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, taken in healthier and happier times.

Last night, as I began to hear firecrackers popping in the sky, I cried.  I couldn’t help but remember the way that Molly, so scared of loud noises, slept through them last year, another sign that her life was ebbing away.

One year later, my heart is still shattered over the loss of my best furry friend.

July 4th, 2018

Gosh, but is it really the 4th of July already?  It doesn’t seem like an entire year has gone by since the last one we celebrated.  I actually remember spending a few hours at the pool before hurrying home to spend time with my sweet Molly, who wasn’t feeling well.

How will you be spending the day?  Will you watch a parade?  Will you grill out with friends?  Will you stick your toes in the sand and listen to the sound of the surf as I’m planning on doing?  Will you spend the evening watching a gorgeous display of fireworks?

What will you be thinking about as you engage in your fun?

Will you relish the day off in the middle of the week?  If you’re a teacher like me, will it be just another day in your second month of vacation – a day to spend with family?

I don’t know that I gave the 4th an extraordinary amount of thought until two years ago when my Rooster enlisted in the Air Force.

Perspective is everything.

Now that I’m a military mama, I recognize the day for what it is:  a celebration of the freedom that selfless men and women gave their lives for in the early days of our country’s founding.

This freedom is still being fought for.

I count it an honor to count my Rooster among that special group of people.

Rooster, thank you for what you do.  Thank you for answering the call to serve your country.

You always said that you wanted to serve where you would make a difference.

You do.

Every day.

I am so proud to be a citizen of a country that was forged by incredibly brave individuals.

More than that, I consider it a great privilege to be the mama of a serviceman.

Happy 4th of July, sweet friends.  Let us never take for granted the freedom that is uniquely ours.

California – Day 6

Oh Day 6, how I wasn’t prepared for you to arrive so quickly.

It was to be the day of our departure from our Rooster and precious bonus daughter.

I woke up at o’dark 30 to get in a workout.  I knew that a long day of travel was ahead of me, so moving my body was of utmost importance.

It was me by my lonely self – probably because I’m the only crazy person who works out at 4am.

The payoff is always worth it, as it was that final morning in CA.

I put in a little over four miles on the treadmill after my Obsession workout, keeping a close eye on the time.

Rooster had made it clear what time we needed to leave, and I’d been warned that I’d be left behind if I wasn’t ready.

Nobody was awake even after I’d prettied myself up, so I put the finishing touches on my packing.

The camo bag was my carry-on, and the green bag was going to be my personal item.  I don’t pack light, y’all.  What can I say?

After a final hug for Gus, we headed out . . . 8:30am . . . plenty of time to make it for our noon-ish flight.

The weather was strange as we drove, sunny but with smoke or something covering the tops of the hills.

The weather grew more overcast the closer to San Francisco we got.

The traffic situation also worsened – to the point where we were crawling – as we neared the toll booth.  I think it took us forty five minutes to travel eight miles.  It was a very good thing that we’d left early!

Once we paid the toll, we moved a lot faster and arrived at the airport two hours after we’d started.

But yes.

Now I’m going to tell you that I do not do departures very well.   Try as I might to prepare myself, it is very, very difficult to let my kiddos go.


I’ve always had a hard time with this, but being a military mama has made it even more difficult.

There’s a saying in our world:  There aren’t any goodbyes, just see-you-laters.

Goodbye feels more permanent; whereas, see-you-laters hold promises of future get-togethers.

I also tend to like to draw out our moments, but that didn’t happen this time.

Rooster and N didn’t plan to park and walk us in, like we always do when they visit us.  I couldn’t imagine the cost of parking, and the airport was a serious madhouse, so it just didn’t make much sense.

This was actually better for me, because when he pulled up to the curb, we had to hurry to get the bags out of the trunk.

I tenderly hugged N and told her how much I love her.  She is MORE than what I prayed for as a wife for my boy.  She is thoughtful and tender-hearted.  She is so freaking smart and gentle.  She’s as beautiful on the outside as she is on the outside.  ❤

Then, I hugged my boy and told him how proud I was of him.  Gosh, but I can’t even type this without getting tears in my eyes.  This boy of mine has grown up so much in the past two years.  He was always incredibly smart, but to see him doing life with his sweet wife and adorable dog.  Well, y’all, I guess I should stop calling him my boy because he’s a man now.

Getting to live in my kids’ world for awhile was an incredible experience.  It brought peace to my heart and created a connection between their world and mine.

I turned back to watch as they switched seats – overhearing an impromptu deal about who was driving and who was navigating the return drive home.  I wanted to wave to their car as they drove off, but the reality was that we needed to get checked in and through what we expected to be a long security line before we could truly relax.

So we headed in.

Ok, so one thing we could not figure out was how to print our tickets at the kiosk.  On our trip over, a sweet Delta employee had walked us through it.

I had the Delta app on my phone, so my reservation information was there, along with a QR code for both of our tickets, but we were old-school and wanted paper copies of the tickets.

Since we couldn’t make them print out at the kiosk, and we still needed to check one bag each, we got in the ticket line.  The gentleman who assisted us told us we could just use the app.

Okayyyyyy.  We were nervous.

Just as we thought, the TSA security line was l-o-n-g.  Summer travel was full speed ahead, and unfortunately, we had not remembered to do the pre-check-in, so we had to wait.

It took almost forty-five minutes for us to get through.  Before entering the line, we had to show our tickets.  This was the first time we used the app, and it worked like magic!

After being all cleared, we found our gate quite easily – it was the first one after the security check in, and took turns looking for food.

While I waited for the Mr. to come back from his scavenger hunt, Rooster texted me to see how things were going.  I explained that we’d just sat down and asked how his trip home was proceeding.  He said that they were almost home (remember that he was navigating).  It took them about an hour to get home – half the time to drive to the airport.


When the Mr. came back, it was my turn to find food.

I’m not going to lie.  I bought all the things because I was nervous about being hungry like our first trip had been.

I got myself a delicious wrap and bought boiled eggs and fruit for the Mr.

Then we waited for our flight to board, plugging into the entertainment system as soon as we sat down.

We got to see the score for one of the World Cup games that day.

Then, I settled in for a movie that I’d spied on our first trip.

I had new ear buds I’d purchased at Walmart the day before (see the green plug there), so I was set to go.

We had already picked out the extra snacks we wanted.  This was a box loaded with all vegan-friendly food.

I completely embraced the flying thing.  I mean, what better way to splurge on your healthy diet than with snacks and tomato juice, handed out by friendly flight attendants?

For the record, I brought home most of my box, uneaten.  I was actually full after the wrap I’d eaten for lunch and the free snacks they provided.

I knit my way through the movie.

And through an episode of Chopped . . .

I had the middle seat, and there was a lady sitting/napping to my left next to the window, so I couldn’t take any pictures of the land we were flying over.  Bummer.

We landed in Atlanta with plenty of time to spare.  The Mr. and I grabbed dinner and waited, actually running into a guy from our church who was also headed home and would be on our plane.  Small world, eh?

Departing from Atlanta at 9:30 was a neat experience.


The city lights were beautiful as we gained altitude.

The final leg of our journey was only 35 minutes.  We’d barely gotten off the ground before we were landing.

Chicky picked us up, and the first thing I noticed when we stepped out to the car was the heat and humidity – even past 11:30pm.

Hello, Florida.

The dogs were so confused when we got home.  They thought they were going to bed with Chicky; instead, they were returning to their normal routine.

We were so thankful that Chicky had held down the fort while we were gone.  She’d cleaned part of the house – the kitchen and my bathroom.  It was so nice to come home to a clean abode!

So that, my friends, was our wonderful trip to California!  We had originally tried to plan this last summer.  I am so glad we didn’t with all of the health issues we had going on.  We would not have enjoyed ourselves as much as we did with the trip taking place this year.

I am grateful that we had the opportunity to make incredible memories during this special trip.


California – Day 5

This was going to be our last full day in California, and I didn’t want to waste a minute.

I got on up and did my workout.  It was the first day of Phase 3 of 80 Day Obsession and boy did it kick my rear end.  Beach Body on Demand rocked, y’all.  I loved using the app!!

Then, I put in almost three and a half miles on the treadmill before heading back to the apartment.

We were taking it a little easy as far as adventuring.  We went with the kids to see a house.  They were looking for a new place to rent – one with a small yard and a garage.

Doing everyday things with the kids almost made me forget that there are 3,000 miles that separate us on a regular basis.

The kids went to the gym when we got back, and the Mr. headed out to exercise in the apartment’s gym.  I took the opportunity to start packing.  I knew that we would be busy later that day and didn’t want to waste precious together time with the kids.

Later that afternoon, we headed out toward Sacramento for one last hurrah.

We’d heard incredible things about Topgolf and were eager to give it a whirl.  Rooster and N had played before.  In fact, they were the ones who suggested that we put this on our agenda when we were planning our trip.  Chicky has played where she lives too, so we were the last ones in the family to try it out.

Now, you guys know that I’m a bit athletically challenged.  The only golfing I’ve ever done is Putt Putt.


Still, I was excited to try something new.

Oh, and that bling?  Well, I was wearing a matching bracelet (duh), which was not the best decision.  I wound up taking it off later; it got in the way of golfing.  Lesson learned.

We asked for a bay on the third floor, which N said would be the easiest for hitting balls into their targets.  She wasn’t wrong about that.

It was another gorgeous day – sunny but not too hot.  Take a look at the view . . .


Have you ever done Topgolf?

The way it works is that you pay one price for the bay.  You get assigned an attendant who will assist you with getting your games set up and will take your food/drink orders.

The menu had a lot of options.

I went for the margarita in the souvenir cup, of course.  Check out the golf club straws too.

We placed our food orders and then began playing.

There are quite a few golf clubs you can choose from, and they are marked as far as how much distance they cover – very helpful for newbies like me.  The Mr. and Rooster also provided invaluable advice in this regard.  They’re more sports-oriented.

You wave your club in front of the scanner, and your ball drops down onto your putting green.  There’s a tee for you to set your ball on.

Now, you just aim for whatever target you want, depending on the game you’ve selected.  Rooster set us up with an easy game based strictly off of points.  The further the target, the more points you earn.  There’s a monitor that shows you exactly where your ball lands each time.  It’s a little like bowling, only much more fun.

I was a nervous wreck when I started teeing off.  I didn’t want to look dumb by whiffing the ball.

Yeah, I whiffed.


Rooster chuckled but encouraged me.

I couldn’t believe when I actually connected with the ball and hit it over the edge.

Check out this video that the Mr. took of me . . .


I felt like a character from the Jetsons.  Do you remember this cartoon from back in the day?

We played almost an entire game before our food arrived – nearly an hour’s worth of fun – so we signed up for another hour.

I got better the longer we played.  The key thing for me was remembering to keep my eyes on the ball and lower my shoulders.  When I hunched them around my ears, my ball went awry.  Once I got the hang of that, I was able to put more muscle into my swing.  All of those planks and pushups were finally being put to good use!  Ha!

This place has got it going on $$-wise, I’m telling you!

The food was delicious, and our portions were large!  I really enjoyed my hummus and veggies.

After finishing the first game, which I came in second or third in, we began the next game.  Rooster made this one harder.  We had to aim for certain targets each round.  I wound up almost beating the Mr.  I think I may have come in second in this game.  I think I surprised my crew, as well as myself.  This is a game I was made for!

After our second hour was up, we headed back home.

The sunset was breathtaking.

I hung out with Rooster and Gus while the Mr. packed.

Oh y’all, I was dreading the next morning, but I put on a brave face.  The kids had taken the entire week off just so they could spend all of their time with us.  What a selfless family I have!

We went to bed a little late, but like I said, I knew that we would be harried the next morning, so I eked out every bit of together-time that I could.

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