3rd February
written by Steph

Flowers from my sweetie to celebrate my birthday!

Today I am 28!

But tomorrow is when the festivities are really taking place... I'll have the full report (including my super awesome present!) for you guys in a few days!

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23rd January
written by Steph

One of the things that I've discovered about my new knitting obsession is that I tend to make far more things for others than I do for myself. Hardly seems fair, though I must admit, I do really just enjoy the process of creating and while the end result is rewarding, it's always nice to give something homemade to another person and watch their face light up. Still, I figure it's only right that I should reap the rewards of my new hobby every so often, so one of my first projects of 2011 was to knit a pair of fingerless gloves for myself. My office at school is generally freakishly cold, so I plan to make good use of these, as they'll keep my hands warm while I type. Not to mention they're a pretty awesome fashion statement as well!

Spirit fingers!

Time for the close up!

This was probably the most difficult pattern that I've tackled to date, simply because of the intricacy of the "lace" patterning to create the fish scale motif. I learned the benefit of using a "lifeline" with lace knitting, and on my first attempt, I probably had to unravel the glove three times before I was able to get the pattern down. I'm super happy with the end result, however, so the hard work certainly paid off! I'd definitely be up for making another pair and/or making the socks that inspired the gloves in the first place! I'm not the only one parading about new threads, as Emmy recently found herself in possession of a new t-shirt. Snagged in the kids section of target, I love the look of this shirt on our little girl. If there's a dog who loves clothes, shopping, cupcakes, and BFFs more than Emmy, I've yet to meet her! There was a flouncy pink tutu style skirt that would have complemented this perfectly but I thought that might be going too far, so for now Emmy will have to settle for breaking hearts in a shirt alone!

Who's cuter than Emmy Lou? No one!

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8th January
written by Steph
Given my new obsession with knitting, I wound up whipping up a few winter wear items this past holiday season. Now that the gifts are given, I can finally reveal them to all of you! Ever since I started my new hobby, Tony has been begging me to make him a patterned hat (as well as a sweater, but I figured I would start with a hat because it's much smaller!). This is a traditional Norwegian fair isle design that I really liked, as did Tony, so after he picked out the wool he wanted, I got to work. I know it looks super complicated but it really wasn't that bad! It was actually a lot of fun to knit and allowed me to master two skills: knitting in the round on double-pointed needles (DPNs) and also multi-colored yarn work! Love how it turned out, though I did have to drop the hem around the brim a few more inches than the pattern called for because Tony has such a huge noggin! 😉

Looks complicated, doesn't it?

Next, I have an entrelac scarf using Noro yarn that I made for my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, I didn't manage my time well enough to get a picture of her wearing it (perhaps she will be kind enough to snap a picture with her new camera and send me one?), but you can see Rory modeling it! This is another pattern that is deceptively difficult in its appearance but fairly easy to knit up once you get a hand of short rows. Love the colors that Noro yarn comes in, and I'm now making a similar scarf for myself!

"It's my scarf, not yours!"

Finally, I had some left-over yarn from knitting up Emmy's sweater, so I made myself a quick, retro 1930's-esque French beret. It's very slouchy, but I gather that's rather on trend at the moment. Also, now when Emmy wears her sweater and I wear my hat, we will match! Yaaaay! 😉

Me... in a hat!

[I should also mention that I did make my father-in-law a pair of "glittens" (aka fingerless gloves that convert into mittens), but I also forgot to take any pictures of those (not even ones modeled by puppies). So I am going to ask him to also take some photos of himself modeling his new homemade knits so I can post them here on the blog.] Next up: I'm working on some fingerless gloves for me (one down, one to go!), and will be starting on a winter toque for my brother-in-law, Ben. Thankfully he's up in Minnesota, where I know he'll still need a warm hat for the next few months... I'm sure I can get it done before the snow thaws...
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6th January
written by Steph
I have decided that 2011 is the year for funkiness.

New hair!

That is all. (Also, for those who didn't know, I now wear glasses! All the better to read books (and drive at night) with!)
23rd December
written by Steph
Today we are leaving (not on a jet plane, alas, but rather our Mini Cooper, Pip... at least he has heated seats! And no screaming infants!) to head up to Minnesota (or as I affectionately refer to it, MinneSNOWta) to spend the holidays with Tony's family. We depart in just under 2 hours, so in the interim, I will be busy scurrying about making sure we have everything packed, updating my ipod with sundry podcasts, and of course finalizing our reading loot for while we're away. Actually, scratch that last one since I have finalized my picks and Tony had his figured out last night. Here's what Tony will be reading during the holidays:
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (to review for BookPage)
  • West of Here by Jonathan Evison (to review for BookPage)
And here's what I'm bringing with me
  • The Wilding by Benjamin Percy (Indiespensible #22...halfway through!)
  • The Instructions by Adam Levin (Indiespensible #23)
  • True Grit by Charles Portis
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire (won at a Dirty Santa Swap this year)
  • Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles by Kira Henhan (won from Kerry over at Hungry Like the Woolf)
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (won from Erin over at Erin Reads)
I probably could have just stuck with The Instructions since it is such a BEAST, but I figured I'd bring a variety of things and be optimistic that I'll get looooooots of reading done. As you can see, I am not bringing any books that I HAVE to read for review since I'm making holiday reading all about me!!! (Because clearly this time of year is all about being selfish... right?) What will you be reading this holiday? When we get back I'll post my best of 2010 list as well as reading plans for 2011; I know some have already published theirs, but as the year isn't yet up, I don't want to prematurely cap it off only to read something supremely awesome and miss out on pimping it out. Alas, Tony's family only has dial-up internet, so we'll be absent from the blogging world for the next week or so, so please all have safe and happy holidays, however you celebrate, so we can all catch up when we're back!
7th November
written by Steph
When reading slumps hit these days, I'm always grateful that I have knitting to fall back on to help me feel productive. And with the weather finally dipping into the autumnal range in Nashville of late (some might claim it's even been downright nippy!), I actually have occasion to start wearing knitted items... So it was about time I actually made something for me to wear... It's only taken me 2.5 months and several other completed projects!

Finally a scarf for meeeeee!

Voila my "A little ruffle" scarf, which I knit up in an Alpaca-Silk blend (no itchy wool scarf here!) in a lovely light lilac color! I'm very happy with how it turned out, and I've had several people comment on it, while mentioning how "not homemade" it looks, which pleases me muchly. I abhor the notion of lumpy looking homeknits, and I feel this scarf is sleek and pretty, and save a few flaws that only I notice in the body of it, pretty professional looking (if I do say so myself).

It's Emmy! In a sweater!

Next up: Emmy Lou finally gets her long-promised sweater!!! After botching my first sweater attempt with a misunderstanding regarding puppy measurements, I knew I'd have to make it up to Emmy. At the very least, I knew her winter sweater would have to be ready before our trip to Minnesota at Christmas time. So I picked up a pretty, purple  bulky yarn and spent yesterday knitting her her sweater. That's right, this was a one day knit! I realize it sounds impressive, but super bulky yarns do knit up rather quickly, so I only spent about 6 hours on this baby.  But the time was obviously well worth it, since look how pretty my little girl looks! And the kicker: mother-daughter shot, with us both in our new knits!  Happy Sunday, everyone! Snuggle a puppy (or a kitten) if you can!

The family resemblance is uncanny!

5th October
written by Steph
As you know, I've recently taken up knitting, but what you may not know is that I've taken it up with a vengeance. I have come a long way since my days of a simple ribbed K2P2 scarf... Now I have cable knits, entrelac, and even a dog sweater to add to my growing list of knit projects.  Below are the two projects I recently finished: a cable knit merino wool scarf for Tony, and a hoodie that was meant for Emmy Lou, but due to a misunderstanding about how to take dog measurements, wound up being more appropriate for Rory. I think we all know what this means... Cue Kelly Kapoor from The Office chanting: "Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!" (Click the pictures to enlarge!)

19th September
written by Steph

It's a scarf! And I made it!

If updates here at S&TI! have been less than fast and furious over the past week or so, I apologize but I've had a new obsession take center stage. After finishing Scarlett Thomas's Our Tragic Universe (review to come very soon), I was struck by the undeniable urge to knit (the link isn't as tenuous as it might seem, but I'll get into that more when I talk about the book proper)... something I haven't done in, oh, 15 years or so. What this meant is that I had to go out and ransack the local Michael's store to buy some supplies and also spend many hours on Youtube watching knitting tutorials, because I was damned if I could remember how to do anything other than pluck my wool from the middle of the ball rather than the outside. After many hours getting tangled up and making knots worthy of boy scouts but not necessarily helpful in terms of the art of knitting, I finally began to make steady progress on a basic K2P2 ribbed scarf design. I dedicated my first project to Tony, and because he has such a freakishly long torso, it meant it took me a while to reach the 68" desired for comfortable scarf length. At times this task became tedious as the pattern is anything but challenging (it looks impressive though, right?), but I'm so happy with the outcome! It doesn't look like those lumpy, shapeless messes I so often associate with home knitting. It's not perfect by any means, but for a first effort, I'm pretty ecstatic with it. Reading is my first love when it comes to hobbies, but I must say that it's awfully rewarding to create something with my own hands. Something other than meals, that is (since Tony is always reminding me that I'm plenty creative and productive in the kitchen)!

Tony wearing my first scarf!

Emmy Lou happens to think the scarf belongs to her...

Rory didn't much care to wear the scarf, but we forced him to take part in family scarf time...

I've already set to work on my next scarf - this time with a cable knit pattern, because I'm all about upping the ante and challenging myself. My goal is to eventually get to the stage where I can make some of the drool-worthy sweaters I've been seeing in Vogue Knitting, but until then I figure I might as well try to teach myself something new on every project, hence tackling cables on my next scarf. I completed 16 rows last night, and it's actually looking like, well, a cable-knit scarf!  Huzzah! If you're interested, you can follow my progress on this next endeavor (and get a sneak peak at it) on my Ravelry project page.
2nd July
written by Steph
I imagine many bloggers will be offline this weekend, enjoying the long weekend that accompanies 4th of July celebrations. Tony and I certainly will be!  But, our break will be a little more prolonged, as we take off for Puerto Rico tomorrow morning and will be gone for nine whole glorious days, during which we'll celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary (can you believe it's already been a year?!? Also, we decided that as an update to the old-fashioned gift-giving guide in which paper is the appropriate gift to commemorate the first year of newlywed bliss that our e-readers will count as 21st century paper...)! We'll be taking plenty of pictures to document our trip, but we won't be blogging whilst we're away. I could have pre-scheduled some review posts, I suppose, but I'm going full-out lazy on this one. Just know there will be plenty of new content (and yes, that includes pictures!) when we get back, starting around July 13. We wish you all happy and safe long weekends (or regular ones to those not in the good ol' USofA), and look forward to catching up sooner than y'all can imagine. If anyone needs us, we'll be on the beach...

Me not in Puerto Rico (this is Miami), but the response will be pretty much the same...

16th April
written by Steph
Last night Tony and I celebrated our three-year anniversary!  We're both pretty on the ball when it comes to remembering dates (except when I maybe, accidentally told someone the wrong date when they asked us when we got married... but in my defense, I'd had maybe three too many drinks that night), but the anniversary of our first date is also Tax Day here in the U.S., and really, what says romance better than the IRS, am I right? 😉 But really, after a few weeks of sending emails back and forth on Match.com, and one phone conversation, Tony and I first laid eyes on one another in real life on April 15, 2007, around 5 pm.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Sparks flew, and they only burn brighter three years later. To celebrate this year we decided to try out a new restaurant (well, new to us), and went to one of Nashville's fancier restaurants, F. Scott's (leave it to us to go to a literary-inspired eatery!). Hey, I'll take any excuse to wear a pretty dress! 🙂  After much research on my part, I settled on this place because it had the adventurous kind of menu that I love.  When we eat out, I like to try out stuff that I'd never have the stones (or the skill) to cook in my own kitchen, and F. Scott's definitely didn't disappoint! Click through the gallery below if you'd like detailed descriptions of what we ate: This meal was SO good.  Definitely our new favourite splurge restaurant, I think.  Everything we ate was divine, and even things we had eaten before at other places were finessed in really interesting and updated ways.  One of the things I love best about Tony (of course there's so much to love), is just how adventurous he is as a diner.  He never shirks away when I say things like "let's order chicken livers" (in fact, he kept most of it to himself...) or "oooh, fried marrow"! I figure there are plenty of ways to measure compatibility, but a couple that can happily dine together and guess what the other person wants to order off of the menu are bound for greatness, right? It's little wonder Match.com ranked us as 100% perfect matches! Three years in, I still marvel at how lucky I was to find Tony and how fortunate I am to spend my life with my best friend, a man who cherishes and challenges me every day. A poem by Neruda, and then one more tidbit:
‘Perhaps not to be is to be without your being.’
Perhaps not to be is to be without your being, without your going, that cuts noon light like a blue flower, without your passing later through fog and stones, without the torch you lift in your hand that others may not see as golden, that perhaps no one believed blossomed the glowing origin of the rose, without, in the end, your being, your coming suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life, blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze: and it follows that I am, because you are: it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we: and, because of love, you will, I will, We will, come to be.
In three months' time we celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, which we promise to do in style!  After much discussion of possible getaways, the tickets have been bought, and from July 3 - July 12, 2010 Tony and I will find ourselves vacationing in.... PUERTO RICO! Soooo excited! Anyone who has ever been, recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated!