Tag Archive | road trips

Back to real life

Whew, it’s been a whirlwind this past week! I thought I’d have a post up a day or two ago, but there just hasn’t been the time or energy or brainpower. We had a wonderful trip. The girl is all settled in to her dorm room and is loving college life so far. We love her campus, the people seemed friendly and helpful, and we already know it’s a great program, so I’m feeling okay about leaving her there. It was sad that night when we left, but overall I’d say we’re handling it just fine. I don’t know, maybe it’ll get worse, but so far, I’m just happy she’s where she wants to be.

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We saw lots of gorgeous mountains, hiked in the Flatirons and in Rocky Mountain National Park, and spent a lot of time wishing we could move to Colorado. (Someday!) We hit bookstores and record stores galore. I found a place called The Chocolate Lab that had boozy butterbeer. (Too much actual beer. Gave to the husband and ordered a Dark Chocolate Elixir with Godiva liqueur instead. YUM.)

And yes, yarn stores! I visited three, only three, but I did some significant damage. No, that sounds too negative: I found a LOT of marvelous yarn. Too much to share in this post, to be honest, so that will be my next post. For now, I’ll share the progress I made on my newest project. It’s called the Michigan Avenue Wrap and I’m using three colors of Brown Sheep Stratosphere, their new superwash DK. The colors are gorgeous together and it’s growing quickly. I’m looking forward to having it for the cold fall temperatures.

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It’s a lovely, soothing mindless knit, which is really important right sometimes. But to be honest, I’m feeling less stressed now that we have the girl settled in at school. Yes, I miss her, but it’s not hanging over my head anymore, and we can all settle into the new routine.

Can’t wait to show you all my new yarns!!

Road Trip, Part 1

I have so much to share! I’m pretty sure this will be a multi-post story, because otherwise it would be TL;DR for all of you. This past weekend, the girl had an audition for the music school at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, so she and I got to take a short road trip. The audition was Saturday, so we drove down Friday morning to give us plenty of time to explore Lincoln. We were most excited about bookstores, so our first stop was Bluestem Books, and it was our favorite! It was a beautiful shop with a big knitting section right in front:

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There was also a charming children’s room with a big, squishy armchair, and a lovely literature section, with lots of collectible first editions. We both found a couple of books there. From there we went for lunch, and we were told to try Runza. I loved this table sign:

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Sadly, they call it “hand-knit” when it’s really crochet, but it’s an awesome scarf and I love that they’re doing this! Our second bookstore experience was A Novel Idea, and it was a fun store too. It was more funky, had an eclectic selection, focused on reading copies more than collectible copies, but we still found books to buy. And two shop cats to pet! I also loved that they featured knitting/crafting books in their front window.

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This was the awesome staircase between the basement and first floor. Wouldn’t you love to do this in your house? I would!

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We had our first experience with room service (loved it!), ate a lot of junk food, and walked all over downtown Lincoln. The campus is right next to the downtown area, which is super convenient. We had a delicious meal at Vincenzo’s, a locally owned Italian restaurant, and made our way to Indigo Bridge Books. It’s an independent new bookstore, so it had a small selection of new books, as well as an attached coffee shop and other fun stuff (notebooks, pins, totes etc). I was very tempted by this bag.

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We made sure to visit Hurt’s Donuts, open 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. It was sort of like a secret club, hidden inside a big building downtown. We had three people stop us as we left to find out where it was. They have so many wild and crazy donuts and we bought six and all six were delicious. Choosing just six was very hard. (FYI: Andes Mint, Dirt, Twix, Cookies & Cream, Cosmic Brownie, and Cookie Monster.)

Of course the real reason we were there was the university. It was cold and icy so it was hard to explore the campus too much.

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But there were good informational sessions, and a pizza lunch where we got to sit with the flute professor and ask whatever we wanted. The audition went well, at least to my untrained ear, and the girl felt good about it, so now we just have to wait for some good news. And if it’s good news we get, the girl has her Cornhusker hat ready to go!

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It was just a really fun trip, and I’m so glad I got to spend this time with her before she runs off and leaves me. Next time, I’ll tell you about all the yarny goodness, and believe me, there’s plenty of it!

Colorado weekend

Guys, I have SO much to share today that I’m not even sure where to begin. (This is gonna be a long post, I think. Get a big cup of tea and settle in!) You know how the girl recently turned 17? Well, she seems to think that when she graduates high school, she’s going to leave us and go away to college. And despite a few misgivings, I think that’s probably for the best. She’s got a solid list of schools she’s considering, ones with strong music departments, and this weekend we drove out to visit the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. We’ve been to Colorado many times and love it, but had never been to Greeley. We left thinking it’s still a strong contender.

My only complaint was that you couldn’t see the mountains everywhere on campus! It had a nice small-town feel but with plenty of things to do and places to shop, and it’s maybe an hour away from Denver and Fort Collins and other bigger cities. The campus wasn’t fancy but it was pretty, and there was a ton of green space. There was even a dog park on campus! One of the reasons she liked this school was because they have a pet-friendly dorm. Sadly, the limit in those apartments is 40-pound dogs, and Grace is above that, so if she wants Grace with her later, she’ll have to move off campus. But it still means there will be tons of animals for her to play with. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet the flute professor, who was out of town, and that’s a critical piece of the decision, but it means we’ll get to go back if she decides it’s one of her top choices. We had a pretty good time.

Greeley even had an Old Chicago, which was such a treat after a long day’s drive. Yes, that’s my cool and tasty beverage right there. Wee thing, isn’t it?

Okay, now let’s get to the fun stuff! Who else uses any kind of road trip as a reason for yarn crawl? All of you, right? Because our time was limited, I was going to be good and only go to one yarn store: The Loopy Ewe in Fort Collins, because how could I be so close and NOT go? But as we drove through Kansas, I saw not one but TWO billboards for a yarn store in Salina, and we were planning to stop in Salina anyway! How lucky is that? (Lucky that I have a generous and patient family, for sure!)

A short detour found me inside Yarns Sold and Told, and what a lovely shop it was! Great selection, with both big names and small dyers, lots of colors, comfy couches, and as the billboard stated, they were very friendly. I wish I could have spent more time there. But I did pretty well in just under thirty minutes. I got a Baah Sonoma in Pink Tourmaline (pink might be one of the hardest colors to photograph well), two skeins of Ella Rae Cozy Alpaca (SO soft, I never would have thought it was mostly acrylic), and that gorgeous multicolor Ella Rae Lace Merino DK.

Then on Saturday before leaving for home, I finally made it to the Loopy Ewe! (Cue chorus of angels here) I feel like this should probably be its own blog post, but I can’t wait that long.

If you are ever near this store, you absolutely need to go. There was SO much yarn, so much gorgeous yarn from all kinds of companies big and small. The girl and I had a marvelous time and of course I walked out of there with WAY too much stuff. See?

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Yes, that’s a big bag, and yes, it’s very full. But see, it looks that full mostly because I bought a bulky hoodie (and a couple of fun little things).

And okay, yes, I bought too much yarn. Please remember, this is a safe place. No judging!

I tried to pick yarns I couldn’t get at home, which meant I passed up some gorgeous Malabrigo and Lorna’s Laces. But that’s okay, I came home with fantastic yarn. Here’s what I chose, each row left to right:

  1. Loopy Legends sock yarn in Jennifer’s Sweet Inspiration. Had to get some Loopy yarn!
  2. Tumbleweed Yarn sock kit in color Confetti Kit (these will be my first socks with contrasting heels and toes!)
  3. Julie Spins Silky, a 50/50 silk/merino blend, in Carbonite. So soft, and such a beautiful, versatile color. This will be a shawl.
  4. Baah LaJolla in Berry Cocktail. I can get Baah at home but not as often and this color just grabbed me.
  5. Magpie Swanky DK. Merino/cashmere/nylon blend in color Night Rain. This was my biggest splurge. The rich color, the softness, oh my!
  6. Knerd String Fingering in color Hotter. I loved that this is from a Colorado dyer!
  7. Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock, color Rock Star. Because look at it!!
  8. Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock in color Poppyseed. This was brand new yarn I snagged from a tub at the counter, not even in inventory yet! Oh, the colors! Squee! I’m not sure yet if this will be socks or a Hitchiker. I kind of don’t want to hide the colors on my feet!

Whew, what a haul. I’m such a lucky girl. Can’t wait to start knitting ALL the new yarns! I did quite a bit of knitting while we were gone too, but that’s going to have to wait: I have yarn to play with. Happy Sunday, friends!

My Weekend Adventure

Eleven days! That’s how long it’s been since I posted anything, and it feels like longer. The worst part is that I haven’t even been knitting in that time, or crocheting either! I know, I know. It’s a bad thing. I need to fix it. But you know, it’s summer, and I decided it was a good time to clean out the basement. We’ve lived here for 16 years, the kids have been sticking old toys down there for almost that long, and it’s just getting uncomfortably full. For the last 10 days, I’ve been busy going through boxes and getting rid of stuff left and right. It feels good but it’s hard work too! That’s why I was so glad to take a break this weekend.

See, I have this friend, Rory. I met her on Facebook through a mutual friend, and I discovered her jewelry page first, Kind Spirit Jewelry. We started chatting a bit, I had her make me a special necklace in memory of my dad, and the friendship just grew from there. She’s truly a kindred spirit for me: our circumstances are the same in many ways (SAHM of older kids, creative people, part-time caretakers for moms, lost our dads too soon), we see situations much the same way, we finish each other’s sentences, she’s just…a special person. Kind and loving and supportive and encouraging. I love her.

But. I live in western Missouri and she lives in Ohio. We’re 13 hours apart. That’s not fun. Texting and messaging is great, but not the same as face to face. A couple of months ago, she said she was thinking of coming to visit me. After squealing a bit, I realized it could be easier on her if I met her halfway, plus I’d get the benefit of a little getaway. Halfway was the Chicago area, but neither of us are big city girls, so we found a Hampton Inn in Ottawa, IL. Not much to recommend it, but we just needed a room to house us while we talked.

Of course no road trip is complete without a yarn store, so I did some searching and decided to stop in Milan, IL at the Naked Sheep Yarn Barn. And guess what?? When I got there, I found out the entire store was 50% off!! How cool is that? I was fast and within 15 minutes I had paid and was on my way with these goodies. IMG_2663I got two skeins of Berroco Peruvia wool, two skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Worsted, and one marvelous skein of Scrumptious superwash (hello, Hitchhiker #2!) I was quite delighted.

Anyway, I made it to Ottawa and met up with Rory and it was so so good. It just felt like we were already old friends. There was no awkwardness even though we’d never met before. 2+ years of conversations means you get to know someone pretty well. We got along just as well in person as we did online. We talked, drank a bit, walked around the little downtown, ate too much, laughed a lot, slept too little. It was heavenly. I let the stress of all the stuff at home melt away and just enjoyed the calm, easy friendship. I even got to introduce her to margaritas! (Can you believe she’s never had one before? I couldn’t. But now she knows the joy that is a margarita on the rocks with lots of salt.) She made me a bracelet while we were there, working away while we chatted, and it’s perfect. Iridescent rainbow sparkly beads with a lot of purple, and a heart “friend” charm. IMG_2664Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time, and after only 24 hours together we had to say goodbye and drive our separate ways. I think this was only the first of many meetings. As Rick says in Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” IMG_2660