Sunday, June 25, 2017

Week 24 - The Sister Weekend

The week itself was nice and then ended with a sisters’ weekend in eastern Iowa, which was the icing on the cake. Add that the heat broke so the weekend weather was stellar and it was all good.

The work week went by quickly, as usual. Nora was out for 2 days so I was on Brook duty. He’s our wonderful new analyst and he’s still in learning mode so there was lots of one-on-one time showing him things. My evenings were all booked like they always are but on Wednesday I opted for a movie with Cindy instead of water aerobics. We saw A Quiet Passion – the Emily Dickinson movie. I thought it was long and once Emily became a recluse and the entire second half of the movie took place in her house, I was less interested. Cindy liked it better than I did but nothing ventured, nothing gained. The popcorn was yummy.

The only other out of the ordinary thing that happened was Pie, my semi-tame, once campus feral cat, had her mouth stuck open all day Thursday. This happens once in awhile and I have figured out how to get it shut without a trip to the vet but it requires me to actually get my hands on her, which is hard on a regular day and nearly impossible when she’s freaked out with her mouth wide open. She stays out 95% of the time in the summer, including overnights, so I saw her first thing Thursday morning with her mouth stuck open and her front covered with drool but she wouldn’t let me near her. I went to work hoping it would fix on its own over the day and confident that she’d stay cool (it was in the 90’s that day) under the deck. Well, I got home at 7:00 having left swimming a bit early and her jaw was still stuck. She still wouldn’t let me near her but I left the slider open and she did eventually come in on her own. Two hours later when she wanted back out, I was able to grab her (she was dehydrated and weak by then I’m sure) and manhandle it shut. I kept her in that night (the other cats were all out) and was happy that 30 minutes later she’d cleaned up her wet front and was purring in my bed. One good thing about this was I had a super productive evening while I was worried about her and so unable to relax.

That was a good thing because I’d have no weekend to speak of. I would be on the road by 7:00 a.m. on Saturday to meet Dottie in the Quad Cities area of eastern Iowa. I got a bit of a late start when I had trouble downloading an audio book – Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates. I enjoy her snark and especially like her audio books for road trips. This one was about the group right after the pilgrims who settled Boston. It was worth the wait but did delay me 20 minutes as I sat in my driveway downloading it to my ancient iPad. Regardless, I made up time on the road so arrived in Bettendorf on schedule.

We had arranged to meet at a yarn shop that was in the process of closing. Now I’m on a yarn diet but travel yarn is exempt so I was all set to buy. Most everything was 40% off and they had enough sock yarn to satisfy me, including one of my favorite types to knit with – wool, cotton, nylon and elastic, which makes stretchy socks for warmer weather. It also has great stitch definition. $138 later, I left happy to check in at the B&B.

Our plan for the afternoon was lunch then thrifting. We had a delicious lunch at The Blue Cat, a brewery in downtown Rock Island that I’d found online. The owner asked what our plans were and when we said  thrifting, he told us of two other places to hit. Now I was excited to hit the Salvation Army that Andrea and I had gone to on the way back from Canada a year ago fall but it was pretty much a bust. The DAV we went to from there was even worse so we headed to the place the guy had told us about. Now it was hazy, hot and humid and this antique mall (of sorts) was in an old barn with no AC. After 20 minutes, I was ready to go. We did stop in at another building that had AC but didn’t buy anything there either. It was time to head back to the B&B for a bit before dinner.

Well, we were just about to leave for dinner when the sirens went off. We turned on the TV but it was just a bad storm with egg sized (an odd comparison I’d never heard before – we use golf ball size hail in Nebraska) so we decided to wait a bit. Good thing we did! We didn’t get hail at the B&B but the wind was whipping and the rain slammed the windows. Once it passed, we headed to Maid Rite – an Iowa chain that specializes in loose meat sandwiches, which Dottie had never had. Delish! When we got back to our room, I pulled out a couple of thrift shop sweaters and taught Dottie how to harvest yarn from them. She wasn't enthused about he process so I took the rest of the sweaters home to donate back to Goodwill. I guess there isn't much point when the resulting yarn is just acrylic, which is pretty easy to find cheap.

We didn’t have any firm plans on Sunday but had passed a sign for a botanical center so after a yummy breakfast with all the other B&B guests, we headed out. The botanic garden didn’t open until 11:00 so we headed towards the Rock Island Arsenal to see what there was to see. Well, we ended up at the swing bridge, that was open to let a barge through so we parked and watched that process. When the bridge swing back, we decided we should walk across the Mississippi and so we did. The bridge was open again on the way back so we sat on the grates with the river flowing underneath us and waited it out. It was kind of cool and killed enough time that the garden was open. It was pretty small but was enjoyable in the gorgeous, post storm weather.

When we were done with the garden, we decided to head our separate ways, which would give us both a bit of time at home before the day was over. I had a 5.5 hour ride and pretty much blazed through with only one stop for gas and a ladies' room. I did drive through a McDonald's (I can't tell you the last time I ate there and for good reason) mid-afternoon when the big breakfast wore off. I was almost done with the audio book when I got home just before 6:00, which left me a few hours of daylight. I had decided late in the week to take Monday off so didn't have to slam on laundry and chores, which was nice. But what a lovely weekend! And the gorgeous weather would still be there on Monday so hopefully I could find spend some time outside.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Week 23 - I'm Over It

My “somewhere to be every night” schedule is beginning to wear on me. Add in that it’s the time of year when I struggle to sleep and I was getting more tired with every passing day.

It’s especially bad that swimming is later – only 15 minutes later but it leaves me getting home at 7:15 and that’s if I go right home. Add just one stop at the market and it can be closer to 8:00. The biggest victim of this time change is dinner. I find myself not wanting to eat meat/veg when I get home that late, even if it’s ready to nuke, which it wasn’t this week. I think I had a bowl of cereal one night, a noosa yogurt another… the salmon I cooked on the weekend was untouched and will now be cat food. There’s still hope for the Brussels sprouts.

Despite this eating of crap for dinner, I still managed to lose some weight over the week and am down 7 pounds from my post-surgery high. That’s with 2 weeks of kinda sorta dieting with too much snacking in the evenings. I guess the lack of sweets in my house meant the snacks were on the healthy side so I still lost some weight. I need to give this some thought since rotating is harder to stick to than it used to be. Whatever. At least the scale is going down.

I’m also over PT. On Tuesday they upped all my weights and gave me new exercises so clearly I’m making progress. On Friday I informed them that I wanted to be done on June 30th and they seemed OK with that. I see the doctor on July 10th and I’m sure he’ll release me at that point and since the 4th is Tuesday, what’s the point of going the Friday after? No point so done on the 30th is the plan. Yay!

Having spent the past 2 weekends solo at home, it was time for an excursion. I slept late (8:30!) on Saturday so the 1:00 pick up time for Drae came early. We were headed to Omaha for pedicures, lunch, thrifting (both drop off and shopping) and an Aldi run. We had planned to start with lunch but when the salon could fit us in at 2:15, we reordered the day. We hit one Goodwill for drop off but found nothing to buy then had a lovely pedi that was almost 2 hours long. The color I picked is perfect and I left with happy toes. Having eaten nothing since breakfast, I was more than ready for dinner, which was burgers and beer at Farnam House.

My reason for wanting to thrift was my impending sister weekend with Dottie in the Quad Cities area of eastern Iowa. She has already used all the yarn I gave her at Christmas, which was my big suitcase FULL! The plan was to meet in the middle and offload more yarn for her hats for the homeless project. I started collecting acrylic from thrifts as soon as I knew she was out and would add more from my basement and donations from Anne’s stash. But I also want to teach her to harvest yarn from thrift shop sweaters, which are much easier to find than yarn, so I was on the hunt for acrylic sweaters. I found 11 for $10 at the Goodwill we always do best at. Yay! We hit HyVee for strawberries and closed down Aldi at 8:00 so it was a long day but I was happy with all my finds and had no plans outside the house on Sunday.

I slept late again (8:00) and had a lovely day of doing load after load of laundry (mostly sweaters) and hanging them out on the line. Between loads, I neatized the house a bit but mostly knitted and streamed Orange is the New Black, which I finished late Sunday. I did do a quick bit of dyeing – taking the sleeves off of one of the wool sweaters I’d bought and dyeing them as blanks. I also did a small skein of sock yarn with the extra dye the sleeves didn’t absorb. It felt good to dye because I hadn’t done any since last fall. The only cooking I managed to do was a big batch of egg salad, which I’d have to lunches but also had Sunday night for supper since it was all that was ready.

In addition to booking a fun B&B in Rock Island, Illinois for our sister weekend, I also bought my ticket to Rhode Island for after fiscal year end. It’s a good thing I waited because Mary is going to be out during most of the fiscal year close so my busy weeks have shifted a bit later. On another travel note, I dragged my ass deciding on Ireland in October and the knitting trip Anne and I had been considering is now fully booked. Oh well, back to the drawing board for Europe in the fall.

On a closing note, Cindy and I ended the work week watching a video of the Life is Good founders that Anne had sent me. It was very inspirational so here’s the link. Take half an hour and watch it. You won’t be sorry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Week 22 - A Crafty Weekend

What’s not to like about a week that starts with a Monday holiday? Nothing! Then add total productivity and the week was off to an amazing start.

I went back outside again on Monday morning and had the rest of my containers finished by early afternoon. Since the flowers all looked good, I decided it was time to clean up the deck from winter and get the hoses situated. I puttered all afternoon until Heidi arrived with John so he could mow my lawn. Heidi was hosting knitting at her house but I told her I would most likely not be coming because I didn’t want to stop. After she left, I ran over to Lorri’s to water then finished prepping my last raised bed (John had tried again and did a better job but it still needed attention.) With that done, it was time to plant the veggies. I pulled out all my seeds, happily finding that I had just enough to plant this year’s garden, which was a darn good thing because I hadn’t ordered any seeds nor so much as cracked a catalog, which I so should have done when I was home in March. Anyway, I planted everything but pole green beans (I had leftover seeds but hadn’t liked them last year so would look for a new variety) and even mulched – in the beds (or one bed anyway) with the clippings John collected when he mowed and between the beds with non-organic clipping from my neighbor. I was done by 7:20. Yay! Mission accomplished.

Once the gardening was done, it was time to slam through the book for book club on Thursday – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’d been reading it a few pages each night before bed for a month but had 2/3 of it to go. I thought I’d get right home from PT on Tuesday and start reading but the tech who works with me on Tuesday asked me to look at a tree in her yard and by the time I did that then stopped at my neighbor’s to get her opinion (she’s a horticulture extension educator), I didn’t get home until after 8:00. I had a bowl of cereal for dinner and did get a bit reading in before bed but not enough. Oh well.

The gorgeous weather was hanging around (how nice!) so I read during lunch on Wednesday, took a reading break in the afternoon and then went to swimming. I did almost all of the weight work, using a tiny weight on my left side and seemed fine. Showered and wearing veg clothes, I headed home to read. And read I did for 2.5 hours, finishing just in time to go to bed. But with nothing to read, I struggled to fall asleep. I finally got up at 11:45 and since June 1st started at midnight, I casted on my June socks. Luckily 20 minutes of knitting was all it took and I was able to sleep.

I woke up sore on Thursday morning. Maybe I shouldn’t have done all that weight work in the pool.  I decided to skip swimming Thursday night, which would leave me time to make a decent dinner (I hadn’t eaten one yet all week) before book club. But I was so hungry Thursday afternoon that I ate everything healthy I could find in my desk drawer – almonds, raisins, peanut butter on crackers – so much that I wasn’t hungry so didn’t eat dinner after all. Stupid! At least book club was good with a great discussion that had us surprised when we saw it was 7:55 so we had to pack up. And just one more day until the weekend.

I had 2 meetings on Friday, lunch with Layton at the Chinese buffet followed by a HyVee run for groceries. Add in leaving at 4:00 for PT and the day was over in a flash. Nice. I had no weekend commitments so was planning to hunker down inside with the AC on because summer weather had arrived. 

My goal for Saturday was to put my new loom together and get it warped. I dug some crappy yarn out of the basement and had a few inches of a scarf done before the day was over. Yay!

The heat and humidity were killer but I had a few more things to plant (I was done on the weekend but then picked up just a few more plants on Tuesday at lunch - sheesh!) I went out late Sunday morning and planted the last few pots. I'm trying tomatoes and peppers in pots on the driveway, where they will get more sun than they do in my garden. I was outside for an hour in the shade doing not very taxing work and was absolutely dripping with sweat! Have I mentioned how much I HATE summer in Nebraska? I thought Rhode Island was hot but it's nothing compared to Nebraska. Anyway, I went inside, happily, and spent the afternoon knitting and streaming, which is my summer go to activity.

I began to feel guilty around supper time and got up and got cooking. I had lots of produce to prep and wanted to take the scraps to knitting for Lori's chickens so I got busy. We also were having a food day on Monday so I had to figure something to take for that. I was in the kitchen until bedtime but by the time I was done I had made macaroni salad for food day, stew, tabbouleh, jello, beets, homemade bread, the piece of salmon I'd thawed on Tuesday and Brussels sprouts plus had prepped berries and rhubarb, freezing a bag for pie this coming winter. I had a few pots and pans left in the sink but figured I'd better shower and get to bed since it was after 10:00. 

So I ended the week with my gardening and chores done and a fridge full of food for the week. My last minute burst of productivity helped assuaged my guilt with at having crafted all weekend. I know, I shouldn't feel guilty but it's how I roll. What can I say? : )

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Week 21 - Able to Garden

With my evenings all full, now I got to add work being nuts to the equation. Again, better busy than bored.

The complicating factor at work was Nora was leaving for vacation on Wednesday. That lead to a flurry of emails, making my to do list huge. Then in addition to my training classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I was in charge of keeping Brook busy while Nora was gone. We were both going to AP training on Wednesday afternoon and I scheduled a one-on-one session in the conference room on Friday afternoon. That meant that half of every day except Monday was fully booked. Then Nora actually left and I got to handle all the calls she normally would and be Mary’s go to for all things Nora would do. She pulled me out of the AP training after only 15 minutes and 2 hours later, we were still in the conference room. Whatever. It all pays and as I’m fond of saying, I’ll do anything but toilets.

At the same time Nora left for vacation, so did my friend Lorri. So on top of my fully scheduled evenings, I had to add watering at Lorri’s house. Just one more thing to add to my evening list every night. I’d be needing some recharge time so it was good that a 3 day weekend was coming.

The forecast for the weekend was rain on Saturday but then nice weather on Sunday and Monday. With this in mind, I planned to do my chores on Saturday and then work outside starting Sunday once the rain stopped. By noon on Saturday, it was clear the rain had and would pass us by but the chores were done so I was still ready for Sunday outside. I did manage to go out late in the day and use my garden weasel to prep one of my veg beds. It was an experiment of sorts to see if it would hurt. It didn’t appear to but I’d wait to see how I felt Sunday morning. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I woke up feeling none the worse for my garden weasel work so went outside first thing Sunday, not sure what I’d tackle first. I had done absolutely nothing outside because by the time my shoulder would allow limited gardening, the weather had turned chilly and rainy so I had lots to accomplish. I started with containers.

Now my normal process for planting the 30 or so containers I do every year is to set up a table in the shade and then fill the wheel barrow with soil, which I mix from the previous year’s soil, sifted compost and peat moss. Well, that wasn’t going to work this year because of my shoulder so I got out my orange rubber garden bucket and did everything in small bits. I’d mix up enough soil to fill it halfway so I could pick it up with just my right hand, pot up as much as I could with that amount and then start again. It actually went faster than usual. I spent all day Sunday outside, finishing about 2/3 of my containers and prepping 2 more of my raised veg beds VERY CAREFULLY.

So, another productive week over. I must have been getting used to my new schedule because I wasn’t exhausted on Friday like I had been last week and was able to power through all the yard work. Clearly my shoulder was on the mend, which took a load off my mind. I had Monday off work to look forward to and another few days of gorgeous weather. All good.

Week 20 - My Summer Routine

Things just all fell into place so that I started a new routine that will take me through the month of May and into June. I’d have busy evenings but it would all work and busy is good, right?

First off, I started a 600/900 calorie week and was happy to do it. What started with gaining a few pounds in Scotland last summer and then a few more over the fall, became a full on OMG situation post-surgery. While I had had plans to eat healthy and try to get exercise when I was home recuperating in March, I see now that that was ridiculous. I was purely in survival mode and when you’re completely disabled and in pain, eating a salad? Not so fun. But being 30 pounds up from my sustained low meant it was time to get serious and lose that weight. With my mind in the game, rotating was easy and the weight started to come off. I’ll be rotating for the foreseeable future but it’s worth it to be heading in the right direction.

On another positive note, with PT only twice a week from now on, I could abandon my early Monday sessions, opting instead for Tuesdays and Fridays at the end of the day. Not starting the week with 7:00 a.m. PT was a gift.

Also on the healthy side, after being told we wouldn’t have water aerobics until early June, it was announced that we would have class after all but in the lap pool so we could use those life guards. While the shallow isn’t ideal for knees, it actually helps with bum shoulders and with my new PT schedule, it meant I could swim Wednesday and Thursdays. It was joyous to be back in the pool! I had to limit some moves and getting in and out of the pool was awkward (try going up a pool ladder and not using one arm – not easy) but my friends were there to help and I managed just fine. I did need help getting my bathing suit pulled up in the back on the first night but they were there for me then too. All good.

The weather was hinky on top of it all. The week started with 2 days of heat and humidity, which I toughed out without putting the AC on. Once the weather broke, the temperature plummeted and it started raining. We got 5+ inches between Tuesday night and the weekend. But after my week of something every night (Monday was knitting, Tuesday PT, Wednesday and Thursday swimming and Friday PT again), I was ready to be home in the house all weekend so the soggy yard was a good excuse. I spent the weekend inside getting chores done and recharging. I ended the weekend in good shape for another week of this new, busy schedule.

As I’m fond of staying, busy is better than bored so I’m going to power through my new schedule. It’s all progress and I’m happy to be back in some semblance of normal. Now to get my gardening started once the ground dries up a bit. Happy summer!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 19 - Semblance of Normal

PT Monday morning was killer since I'd only gotten home at midnight the night before and then had struggled to fall asleep. But somehow I got through the day and headed to knitting with 2 trays of butter tarts from Canada. There were only 3 of us so I sent Heidi and Andrea home with tarts because I had a couple more at home and that was plenty after all the ones I'd eaten in Canada. Because I had just 2 more days and then I'd be rotating again.

Tuesday was an all day IT conference and then Wednesday was jam packed. I had a doctor's appointment at 10:10 after which I hit the market on the way back to campus, a UAAD picnic at noon, a team meeting at 1:00, training at 2:00 and was leaving at 4:00 for PT. Good thing I had been catching up on sleep by then plus the week was more than half over. Nice.

As for the doctor's appointment, it was my 10 week post-surgery follow up and he seemed pleased with my progress and OK'd me for strength exercises at PT only twice perweek going forward instead of three. That was great news because I'd no longer be starting the week with 7:00 am PT. Excellent! I fessed up to the nurse that I'd started taking meloxicam before my Canada trip and the doctor never mentioned it. Big relief! I left with new PT orders and an appointment to see him for the last time the day before I leave for the International Master Gardener Conference in Portland in July. Perfect timing since he'll be releasing me for sure then. I was happy when I left.

I stopped at the market because I was out of milk but I also needed to stock up on produce because I was starting a rotation on Thursday. I was ~30 pounds up from my sustained low of -65. I'd gained some starting with last summer's Scotland trip but had really packed on the pounds the month after surgery when I was home doing nothing. Even when I was more mobile, the lack of meloxicam meant every step hurt so I couldn't do anything to exercise. With my knee much better once I started taking drugs again, I was ready to get moving again and drop the weight. The diet would start Thursday and I got an email Wednesday - the same day the doctor OK'd careful exercise - saying they'd added water aerobics in May. Previously they'd had swimming starting June 5th so I was thrilled to have swimming as an option earlier than that, even if it was in the lap pool. All good.

I was actually excited to lose weight so when Anne and I went to a movie (Their Finest - a period piece about film makers in England during WWII) on Thursday after work, I happily drank water while she ate popcorn. Layton was fine with Chinese on Friday so I ate baked chicken and veggies. Determination makes dieting so much easier.

I was looking forward to catching up on everything over the weekend so made a concerted effort to do any and all shopping before leaving for PT at 4:00 on Friday. I headed to Wahoo with flowers, groceries and cat food ready to get busy.

The only obligation I had was a graduation party for Anne Marie's oldest on Saturday afternoon so I thoroughly enjoyed both vegging and getting things done in between bouts of knitting. I had enough of my to do list done to feel good when I left for Andrew's party, where I ate some cut up fruit and plain pulled pork. When I got hungry later, I boiled up a bunch of carrots and had that, determination again making it easy. When I weighed myself Sunday morning, I was already down 8 pounds. Now half of that was water but I'd take it.

I did many many loads of laundry on Sunday, hanging much of it on the line since it was hot, dry and windy. And I mean hot! It was pushing 90 by the end of the day Sunday, which was too hot too soon. I shut all the windows and blinds before the heat set in and so the house was 78 when I went to bed. After a nice shower and putting fans in the windows, it was fine to sleep. The weather is due to break Tuesday night so I'm hoping to avoid putting the AC on. But I digress....

Once all my chores were done on Sunday, I started prepping produce and cooking, ending the day with a frig full of produce for the coming week and a big bag of scraps for Lori's chickens, which I did drive over and give them that afternoon. Cross that off. I also managed to swap out my winter clothes for summer and found 3 pair of capris that will fit in my fattened state. Hopefully they'll all fit by the end of the month. I enjoyed a night of PBS and knitting to end the week, happy that I was back on track with eating, chores and life in general. Next on the list is gardening, which I'll be doing very carefully and with the help of my friend Heidi's son, who will till up my veg beds after he mows. Now to get some gardening weather instead of premature summer heat we had Sunday. Sheesh!

Week 18 - Canadian Knitting Retreat

It was a 3 day work week for me that was bookended by PT first thing Monday and last thing Wednesday. Between that and spending 2 hours each day training Brook, the work week flew by, which was a good thing because it was all about Sue's knitting retreat in Canada.

I had called Nora while I was still out with my shoulder to ask about taking vacation for the retreat so my guilt kept the trip short. Anne and I were taking a 7:00 am flight out of Omaha on Thursday that would get us to Toronto early enough in the afternoon to rent a car and drive 3 hours north to Southampton. The retreat was Friday and Saturday so we'd be leaving the B&B Sunday morning right after breakfast for a late afternoon flight home. I'd get home at midnight but that meant I could work Monday. Two days of vacation was all my guilt would allow me to ask for.

Anne and I met at the airport and our travel was uneventful. We picked up the car, a Kia Forte, and then had time to kill before meeting Cindy and her friend to share the drive north. We actually sat in the Thrifty garage and knitted until a few minutes before their flight arrived and then headed out. That's when the fun began. 

We could see where we needed to be to meet them but it was one way and we were past it. Thinking there was a ring road, we headed out but the signage was dismal and we ended up on the highway. Every exit we tried lead to yet another highway and we were miles away before we turned on the GPS to find our way back. It was super stressful and we thought the clock was ticking but when we got back to the airport, we got a text that their flight was delayed. Fearful of getting lost again, we sat in the loading area for 1.5 hours, amazed that no one kicked us out like they would in the US. Gotta love those nice Canadians! 

When they finally arrived, we headed north on country roads to Southampton, arriving in time for dinner at a yummy local restaurant. It was great to see Eileen and Gail (hadn't seen them since Shetland last summer) and Sue, who I hadn't see since the last retreat in September of 2015. We also got to meet the 2 Brits - Francoise and Bridget. I knew immediately that I was going to like them. All good.

The retreat was a blast. There were lots of locals who came for the day and 8 of us staying in the B&B, which is run by a woman, Jenny, who is a fabulous host and an amazing cook. My first class was weaving. Yes, I was touching a loom. I knew when I signed up for it that I'd be buying one but I was OK with that. Weaving is MUCH faster than knitting and you know I have some yarn. How's that for an understatement? I took to weaving like a house afire and was instantly hooked. I had signed up for a crochet for knitters class for the afternoon purely because I didn't want to do rug hooking (the alternate class.) Since I could already crochet, I helped a woman who knew nothing. I also popped out periodically to work on my weaving. The day flew by filled with knitting goodness.

That evening we ate dinner at a local restaurant and then had a trunk show (a fashion show of knitted items featuring a specific yarn line) at Sue's shop. I wasn't much interested in the show but did take the opportunity to spend some money on yarn. Now I've been on a yarn diet and have bought no yarn in 2017 except for a few thrift shop skeins, which are always exempt. Travel yarn is also exempt and between the 20% discount we got with the retreat and the Canadian dollar only being worth .75 cents American, everything was super cheap. I loaded up on yarn and bought a 16" loom with an additional heddle for using sock yarn (yup, I've got lots of that) to the tune of $700+. But it was <$500 American after conversion so a fabulous deal. I went back to the B&B for knitting in the common room where we laughed and laughed. Day one was marvelous and Saturday was going to be full of fun too.

After another delicious breakfast and some weaving time, we headed to Bulk Barn with the Brits to stock up on all my faves. From there we went to Sue's to dye sock blanks. These are scarf like things that are knitted with 2 strands so when you unravel them you get 2 identical socks. You can paint them with any pattern you like so I wrote a message on mine just to poke Eileen, who is mortified that my favorite Canadian store is Bulk Barn. We all had fun then met back at the shop, where I bought just one more skein of sock yarn. Couldn't resist.

After a snack lunch of leftover cheese, crackers and fruit, the afternoon workshop was double knitting, which I've always wanted to learn. We sat in the common room and knitted the afternoon away. Dinner was catered in and was delicious. All this time in the B&B meant that I should have packed more comfy clothes but my single pair of black stretchy pants got worn a lot. At least I had fresh t-shirts. 

After dinner, I pulled out the huge suitcase of felted sweaters that I'd brought for Eileen because paying to check a bag was cheaper than shipping plus that gave me a bag to fill on the way home. (Check out her Etsy shop here to see the mittens she makes with them.) It was a little trunk show of my own and Eileen was thrilled with what I'd brought. She even got some orders where people picked out the exact sweater they wanted her to use. After that we sat and knitted for hours and I haven't laughed so hard in ages. It was a wonderful evening but that meant the retreat was over. Quick but fabulous and worth every penny and the travel.

Sunday was all travel. We left the B&B at 10:00 after tearful goodbyes and headed to Toronto. We dropped Cindy and Christine off for their flight then returned the car, having better success navigating the airport once we realized the numbers in the box on the signs were terminal numbers. Other than getting pulled aside by Customs because we'd checked "No Food" and Anne had 2 big bag of Canadian doritos (Humpty Dumpty Snack Mix actually) in the top of her carry on, our travel was uneventful. 

I walked into my house just before midnight, ending the week exhausted but on a high note. I'd had a blast and got to spend time with some of my favorite people while learning new things. I'd also met two new friends and got an invite to Oxfordshire to boot. This weekend adventure is what I live for. Travelling, knitting and friends - life doesn't get any better. Bliss!