Thursday, September 29, 2011


Cleo's hat was finished up last night.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I think she'll love it.  I'll be sending it to her for her birthday which is just under 2 weeks away.  Aren't you impressed?  I'm done with her gift and I still have almost 2 weeks!  Remind me the day before her birthday to overnight it, k?  I'm sure I'll forget. :)

One of my favorite parts of knitting is giving the things I've made away.  My things usually seem well appreciated, and I know I love getting hand made gifts - they seem to be much more personal.  Don't get me wrong, a Starbucks gift card would rock my world too, but home made stuff just seems so thoughtful to me.

Another part I love is finishing one project and searching for the next.  It's such a wide open world of possibilities right now of what to make.  I love searching Ravelry for ideas.  I do have a few ideas brewing in my head for some Christmas gifts, which will kind of be a bummer because I won't be able to blog about them as I knit them.  I do love knitting this time of year because it's not 100 degrees outside.  When it's 100 degrees outside, you can really only knit very small things because the minute your blanket, sweater, scarf, etc is long enough to hit your legs, you become a sweat machine.  Or maybe that's just me.

Now, something I do EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. is think of 27 projects I want to make for people for Christmas.  I start thinking in September, and figure that I have 3 solid months yet to get things done.  Seems very reasonable, right?  And then it takes me 2.5 months to get ONE gift done and I'm stuck fighting the crowds to shop for gifts I haven't had any time to think about.  I KNOW that this year will be different.  I know it.  (I hope it)

So for now, I'm going to enjoy the calm feeling of having a perfectly reasonable plan for all these Christmas gifts and am going to happily go search for patterns and yarn yumminess.  Because certainly this year I won't be turning into Animal from the Muppets the week before Christmas like usual.  Nope.

Still optimistic (a little)...



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For Anyone Keeping Track...

1.  Thank the good lord above, the blanket I was knitting was finished this weekend.  I will take some final pictures of it and post them sometime soon.  Yay!  A new hat was cast on for my niece Cleo.  I am really happy with how it's turning out.  I got lots of good knitting time in while I was on vacation.  That made me really, really happy.

2.  Today is picture day at school.  There were NO picture forms that made it home from school before today.  This makes it very challenging to know how much to write your check out for.

3.  I had to buy a trumpet last night for a 6th grade boy.  Dear Everybody That Lives Within a Mile of Me, I'm really sorry.  Be glad it wasn't a tuba.  Or the drums.

4.  I am proud of the things I cooked for my friends on my trip, but I don't cook, so I'm not going to talk about them.

5.  Yesterday was my mama's birthday.  She is awesome, so if you know her, and didn't wish her a happy birthday yesterday, please do.  I love you mama.

6.  The first day back at work after a vacation always sucks.  I don't see this changing ever.

7.  My liver is very glad vacation is over.

8.  I need another vacation.

9.  Thank you for reading my blog.  You are a quiet bunch (I'd love some more comments!) but I can see right over there on the right side, that I've had 565 page views.  I think that's pretty darn cool.  If you keep coming back to read, I'll keep writing something. 



Monday, September 26, 2011

Madeline Island Vacation

I just returned from one of my very favorite trips that we go on every year.  Twelve years ago, my BFF Angela got an anniversary gift from her Mother In Law for a getaway at a rental home near Lutsen, MN.  The home looked gorgeous online, was right on Lake Superior, and had four bedrooms.  The awesomeness that is Angela couldn't go on a getaway with her husband to a four bedroom house and leave three bedrooms empty.  So, she decided to invite three other couples to join them.  We had an amazing time.  A few rounds of golf, a hike through the north woods during prime autumn leaf season, bonfires on the beach of Lake Superior, cocktails, extravegant dinners, card games, and excellent company.  An annual tradition was born!  How cool is it that we just returned from our TWELFTH trip?  I am so so lucky to have these friends in my life.

The majority of our trips have been up to the Lutsen/Grand Marais area, but this year we decided to go a different direction and headed to Madeline Island, which is one of the Apostle Islands, located north of Bayfield, WI, out in Lake Superior.

As the name implies, the vacation home we rented is located on an island, which meant we had to take a ferry for the short distance across Lake Superior.

The marina that we caught the ferry at had that magical feel to it.  I don't know what it is.  There is something about being near a large body of water that is so calming to me.  The sounds of the waves and seagulls, the smells of fish that have been brought in by the local fishermen...  I love it all.

The docks on the other side of the ferry ride were smaller, with fewer boats, but were accomodating to the small size of the island.  I found this tugboat completely charming, and it was even labeled with my initial.

As much as I am afraid the seagulls will poop on me (don't ask me why I have this fear) they are as much a part of Lake Superior life as the water!  This fella has clearly been fed well by the tourists.

It was overcast most of our trip this year, but it really didn't make it any less memorable for me.

Tom's Burned Down Bar was a necessary stop for us.  Here, Beth and Lorie are enjoying really, really big cans of Foster's that were so cold they needed their mittens to hold them.

Here is our gang (minus Scott - he was taking the picture) getting cozy at Tom's.

There were some very interesting locals bellied up.  I have a feeling this fella has a permanent stool here.

Campfires on the beach never disappoint.  Especially when you are learning some new photo techniques!

The Sepp's dog Buddy loved his time roaming the beach too!  I'm pretty sure he'll be sleeping well tonight.

LOTS of laughs.  I'm hoping I burned off some of the calories I took in this weekend.  But I really don't want to think about that right now.

Here is the group sitting down to a wonderful dinner of salad, grilled veggies, and steak.  We did not go hungry, that is for sure!

We have discovered that pouring a perfect Black and Tan is a task that must be well practiced.  It's not as easy as it might seem.  Just ask Beth.

It was not hard to look at this every day.  Not at all.

We did finally see a bit of sun, so frisbee golf was a must.  Gotta hang on to any warm-ish fall days we get!

All good things must come to an end though, right?  The ferry ride back over to Bayfield was a bit choppy!

Dan, Beth, Angela, Scott (& Buddy), Lorie, Dave, me, and Nate!
Like I said before, I am lucky, lucky, lucky to have all of these friends (and family) in my life.  Thank you all for making this 12th annual "Lutsen" trip as successful as the 11 that came before it.  I love you all!

Here's to 50 more "Lutsen" trips!



P.S.  How are your blue photos coming along?  I took several on my weekend trip.  It was cool to be looking around the town for blue stuff.  Remember to get them posted to the Flickr group before midnight on Thursday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boys of Fall

Football season is here!  I refuse to talk about the Vikings until they can turn things around.  So I'll talk about my very favorite team instead.  Go Hawks!

That's my baby right there, with the bright blue sleeves.  I cannot think of many things cuter in the world than boys in football gear.

For the record, there aren't many tall Hooper's.  My baby is in the same grade as that giant right behind him.  This can make mama nervous when watching giants fall on top of her baby.

Oh boy.  He's down.  Please, nobody fall on my baby.

Here is Morgan and her friend Addie.  Don't worry.  It's a sunflower seed, not a tongue ring.  I promise.  Morgan always is happy to see a friend show up at one of her brothers games.  I can't say I blame her.  

Ooo! Good blocking Andy!  Goooo!

He's ready for the kickoff.  I said a little prayer at this point that it didn't come towards him.  Usually people tend to fall on the person who is holding the ball at the time.

Yes, I realize that this last picture is completely inappropriate, but I just couldn't help myself.  Can you stand it???

We ended up losing our first game of the season, but we did make two or three completed passes, which I believe is more than we had all last year.  So we are getting somewhere!  I just have one question.  Who the heck is responsible for picking WHITE pants?

Thankful for my good stain fighter...



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Fall TV Lineup

Does it seem like there is an overabundance of good TV this year or is it just me?  I can't remember the last time that I was excited about so many new shows starting.  It kills me that we are so busy in the evenings with hockey, dance, football, zumba, etc, that I can't be at home on my couch with knitting needles in hand every single night from 7-10 PM to catch everything!

Last night I watched the first hour and 1/2 of the new season of Dancing With the Stars.  I like watching the first episode and making my predictions for the season.  Last night was a fun one to watch, but at 8:27 I noticed that one of my facebook friends posted something about 2 1/2 Men, and I really wanted to see that first episode with Ashton Kutcher.  So I flipped it over to that channel and caught the last scene where Ashton walks into the kitchen naked.  Pretty funny.  I didn't really watch that show last year though, but kinda wanted to see Ashton.  Not the end of the world that I missed that one.

I could have flipped back to Dancing With the Stars at this point, but the new one called Two Broke Girls came on.  It was just ok in my opinion.  The story behind it is good, but I thought there was something missing in the acting.  Maybe it will progress as time goes on, but it needed a little work.  I wanted to give it a chance though, so I made it through the episode.

Next up?  The Playboy Club.  I had heard a little about this one, but not too much.  I really, really liked this show last night.  Main reason?  Eddie Cibrian.  As my BFF Angela likes to say, "HOLY HANNAH!"  Who wouldn't love looking at this for an hour every Monday night??  Eddie plays the strikingly handsom Nick Dalton:

Yep.  Mighty fine.  Don't you agree?  What?  You need another picture of him to be sure?  Um, ok.

Yes, just as handsome as he was when he was in CSI.  I have a thing for guys with dimples.  I even got to marry one! Lucky me!  :)

Seriously though, aside from this eye candy, the show really has a great storyline so far.  It's set in the early 1960's, and one of the bunny's from the club kills the mob boss with the heel from her shoe to his jugular when he's trying to assult her in the back room of the club.  Luckily, Nick came to her rescue and helped her dump the body into a river.  Now they are trying to convince the mob that they don't know what happened to their boss.  It's exciting, great acting, great writing, the costumes are fantastic, and it grabbed my attention enough for me to make an effort to be home on Monday's at 9PM.  Let's hope it continues on!

Other shows I'm looking forward to watching this year:

Up All Night - seems VERY relatable as a parent, and I really like Christina Applegate.
Prime Suspect - this one could be great, or it could be another cop show.  I'm willing to give it a chance.
Revenge - I loved Emily Van Camp in Brothers and Sisters, and the previews looked really good to me.
Modern Family - I haven't gotten into this one at all yet, but with all the hype, I think I need to give it a shot.
X Factor - I gotta admit it will be good to see Simon and Paula again!  Kinda like a car accident - you gotta peek at it on your way by, right?

I'm sure there are others that I'm not thinking of right now, but my lunch break is almost over.  What shows are you excited for this season???

TV Junkie...


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Monday List

  1. Even though I work with some fab people, I'd still rather be at home.  Or outside in the sunshine!
  2. Today is International Talk Like a Pirate day.  I thought about writing my post in all pirate, but that would require me to go find some translator online and paste my post into it where it would convert it for me.  That would take too long.  And you'd have to try to read it, which isn't easy.  This holiday is more fun when you speak to others out loud instead of read/write a blog.  I will throw in an "Arrrrrrrrrrrgh!" for you though.
  3. I'm going on a vacation soon with some friends and am 100% excited for it.
  4. I have lots of stuff to do to prepare for this vacation, which makes me 100% not excited.
  5. Peach Citrus Fresca is nummy.  Arrrrgh!
  6. My Monday is already half over, which is very cool.
  7. I already know we will have more photo submissions this week.  This makes me giddy.
  8. I'm supposed to bring an appetizer to my vacation.  Do you have any good appetizers you like to bring places that are easy and don't require a lot of cooking or putzing?
  9. I have not yet picked out a knitting project to bring on vacation.  This has me a little stressed.
  10. No, the blanket still isn't finished.
  11. I had a good weekend.  Did you?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Stacy!!!

I work with a very cool bunch of people.  At any given moment, when I'm overwhelmed and at the end of my rope, I know I can count on SOMEONE to listen to my woes and go for a walk to pick up ice cream.  It's really how I think we all survive.  I'm so lucky to be able to call many of these folks my friends.  We lean on each other.  We listen, and we agree.  We share recipes and stories about our kids.  In a horrible economy, I'm so very lucky not only to have a job, but to have one with an awesome group of ladies that I get to see each day.

We like to treat each other to lunch when one of us has a birthday.  Last week, my friend Stacy increased her age by one, and as is tradition, we celebrated!

It is very unfortunate that we work 1/2 block away from Pizza Luce.  It is also very unfortunate that they make the very best Tostada Ensalada that I've ever eaten in my whole entire life and I'm not even exagerating. Funny thing about this Toastada Ensalada - they recently changed it a little bit.  Don't you hate that?  Why change something that is perfect?  There are no longer refried beans on it.  This made me very very sad.  I even emailed them off of their website.  I don't think they are going to change it back, but it's still the very best Tostada Ensalada that I've ever eaten, except for that old one.

See it there?  Right in front of me?  Dang, I want one now!  Yummmm!  These are some of my girls (L to R) Amy, Stacy, Mindy, Larissa, and me.

Pizza Luce is a great restaurant, I highly recommend it.  They have a lunch counter where you can come in and pick up a quick slice of pizza, soup, or salad:

They decorate their walls with artwork by local artists that they will sell to you on the spot!  It's always different every time we go.  This day a wonderful photographer was featured, with awesome photos of the Duluth area.  This beauty was hanging over our booth:

There aren't many places left these days that give you a free dessert on your birthday.  But this one sure does!  This isn't just any dessert either, this is a WARM brownie sunday with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream drizzled with chocolate sauce.  Come to mama.

(sorry for the crappy photo.  This one is too dark, and the one I took with my flash was way too light.  The girls wouldn't let me try anything else before we dug in!)

Here's the birthday girl with her sundae.  Isn't she cute?  Thanks for sharing, Stacy!  I've actually known Stacy since I was about 5.  We used to bowl together every Saturday morning for a lot of years.  I think it's SO cool that I get to work with her now.  She's awesome.

So, thank you for having a birthday, Stacy.  I love our girly birthday lunches!  I hope you had a great day!



P.S.  Has anybody seen the end of this blanket I'm knitting?  I have put in a significant amount of time on it this weekend, and I just can't find that end!  If anyone spots it, please send it my way. Thanks!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photo Assignment #2 Topic

Miss Morgan and I have chosen the next assignment topic, and are ready to announce it.

For the next two weeks, challenge yourself to take pictures of:


This was mostly Morgan's idea, and I really like it.  I have a feeling I'm going to be walking around for two weeks looking at everything in my path to try and see how much blue there is that I don't notice on a normal day.  The sky would be the easy way out I suppose, although a bright blue sky can be stunning.  Or maybe you catch someone struggling with sadness and is feeling rather blue?  Interpret it how you'd like.  Try to think outside the box.  Who knows?  Maybe it's a blue box!  Have fun!

Ready? Go!


Photo Assignment #1 Submissions!

Well I didn't get as many submissions with this first assignment as I was hoping for, but that's ok.  You can still send them in if you'd like to!

Here are the submissions.

My sister Kelly submitted her back to school pictures from the last two years, and they just absolutely crack me up.  Her son, TJ, clearly loves school and cannot wait to get there.

Before first day of school 2010:
And before the first day of school 2011:

This year, Cleo looked at him like "TJ, you look like a dork when you pout!"  Hahaha! Love it!  Kelly didn't want to send in her pictures because she took them on her phone and she thinks they are too blurry, but I still think they capture the moment, and did I mention that they crack me the heck up?  (besides, I made her submit them.)

And the only other submissions were my own.  I cannot believe they are in fourth and sixth grade.  What happened to my toddlers?????

Last but not least, she made it through the first day!

So if you have pictures that you'd still like to submit, it's not too late!  I had fun playing with a few different settings and processing tools on these.  I still have a long way to go (my second picture is clearly overexposed, and I'm just not sure what to do to make it right...) but then again, I'm pretty happy with my shots from assignment #1!

Photo assignment #2 will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

C'mon Photographers!

Nobody has any back to school pictures to enter???  I know there are some out there besides my own!!

Upload them to my flickr group before midnight tomorrow night, and then I'll announce a new assignment on Friday, and share any pictures submitted here.

See this post for more info.


Realizin I'm sounding kinda desperate...



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another reason I love living here...

There are a lot of reasons I love living where I do.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I really think that I live in one of the prettiest places on earth.

Last Friday night as we were driving home from Andy's hockey game in Superior, we were about to cross the huge bridge that connects Wisconsin to Minnesota, over the St. Louis River, which feeds into Lake Superior.  I could tell the sunset was going to be spectacular after we got past the last few buildings on the land and hit the bridge.  I dug in my purse for my camera (I love that I'm carrying it with me more and more now!) and handed it to Morgan (I have my limits).  This was our view:

Can you even stand it?  Absolutely gorgeous.

I was in awe of the colors in the sky that we were seeing.  So warm!

I wanted so badly to pull over and get some good pictures, but it's kind of hard when you are on the bridge going 60.  Morgan was having so much fun snapping pictures, I told her to keep going!  I wanted her to get as many as she could!  I'd look for a spot to pull over when we got off the bridge.

Unfortunately, once we got off the bridge, we were kind of too much at the bottom of the hill, and the colors weren't quite as vibrant.  And Picker Sisters was on TV.

Morgan just kept snapping away as we drove home.  I really like this one for some reason.  All the intersecting lines, with the mix of colors behind it...

Even our liquor store looks pretty with a sunset behind it!

The blurry moon looks pretty here during dusk...

And so do my hydrangeas!  Ohhh how I love hydrangeas!  Too bad I killed one of the bushes the dear previous owners planted in my yard. 

Hydrangeas mean the end of summer to me, but they are so darn pretty, it's worth the wait. 

TWO days left until the photo submission deadline!  I do hope you will upload some pictures to my Flickr group that somehow fit in to the back to school theme.  It's almost time for the next assignment to be announced!

Lovin' my Duluth...


Monday, September 12, 2011

Just Another Weekend...

Another weekend has come and gone.  Unfortunately mine was filled with fighting off a migraine, while trying to take care of all the other stuff I was supposed to do.  It makes things a little challenging.  I didn't even take any pictures of hockey!  Something must have really been off...

Andy's team took second place in his hockey tournament this weekend.  It was very fun to watch.  I love the format of a 3 on 3 tourney, with a shootout at the end of each game.  Andy played out of his mind this weekend.  I'm so proud of him!  The first football game is next weekend, and I'm looking forward to the change in pace.  Let's pray for nice weather for the next 6 Saturday mornings.  I have my polar fleece ready.

The weightloss journey has been slow going so far.  I've been walking outside when time and weather permit, but it's not been enough.  I hope to make it back to Zumba tomorrow night, if another conflict doesn't come up.  I really need to take a trip to the grocery store and pick up a few fresh things so I have some healthy options available.  I've just been having a hard time staying motivated.  Anybody have any great suggestions for me?  What a struggle!

What did you all do this weekend?  There are only a few days left until the photo submission deadline!  Are your pictures ready?  I can't wait to see them. I wonder if I'll have more than my own submissions this week? :)

Have a great one!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to School

The first week of school has come to a close.  It's been a tough week for everyone in our house, trying to get back into the swing of things.  It's amazing how three months can make children lose all sense of responsibility.  I can remember hating going back to school too though, so I can't say I blame them.  You have to actually get dressed every day?  That stinks.  I have to bring a piece of paper all the way from this building to my house, have my mom sign it, and bring it all the way back?  OMG.  How will I ever do that????

This year has been one of many changes for both kids.  Middle school, lockers, lunch tickets, new bus routes, new starting and ending times, changing classes, etc. etc. etc.  It will take a little getting used to, but I don't think it will take them long.  I'm really proud of them both.  I can't believe we've hit fourth and sixth grade.  No more elementary school Christmas programs!  That makes me kind of sad.  They are growing up so fast!

I haven't been posting too much about school yet, because I'm saving my pictures for the photography assignment!  How are your pictures coming along?  Remember to submit them by midnight next Thursday, and on Friday I'll announce the next assignment.  I can't wait to see your pictures!

I am off to spend the weekend in a cold hockey rink.  Kind of a shame, when this is supposed to be our last really nice weekend for the year.  It's 83 degrees out right now, and I'm heading into a frozen arena.  Perfect.  This is why I knit warm things.

Whatever you are up to this weekend, make it fun!



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Awesome Website:

If you know me at all, you know that knitting is one of my favorite hobbies.  Now that my kids are a little older, it's easier for me to find time to actually do it every now and then.

I can remember when I was a little girl, I'd sit on the couch beside my mom, and I was absolutely fascinated at the speed in which the yarn would pull out of the center of the skein that was sitting on my lap and feeding into her hands (usually to a crochet hook, but sometimes to a set of knitting needles).  I used to love to "help" her pull the yarn out of the skein so she could turn it into one of her beautiful creations.  I would let it pool a little, and then watch as it was used up and it was time for me to pull some more out.  She would give me dirty looks sometimes, when I'd daydream and the yarn would pull tight, interrupting the steady rhythm of her stitching.  I flashback to these memories every time my own daughter sits next to me on my couch and lets the yarn pull tight and I throw her the same dirty look my mom threw to me.  (It is pretty annoying when your rhythm gets interrupted!  Sorry mom!)

Mom taught me so much about knitting and crocheting when I was young.  I remember getting so frustrated at those dang loops and how they just wouldn't go where I wanted them to go, when mom made it look so easy.  My crocheted rows never looked even - it seemed I would always turn one stitch too early, or my tension was so uneven that most of my rectangles turned out to be triangles.  I made tons of Barbie bibs (what 8 foot tall blonde with big boobs doesn't need a bib?) and doll blankets with mom's scraps.  Well, when I'd actually make it to the end of a project, which in all honesty, was pretty rare.  And knitting was nearly impossible for me at the beginning.  Wrap around the back or wrap around the front?  Put that needle in WHERE?  Ugh.  She was so patient with me and kept telling me that I just needed to practice, but of course I didn't want to hear that.  I kept plugging away though, and I'm so glad I did and that I can pass down my moms wisdom to my own daughter.  I don't know if my stitches will ever be as fast or as even as mom's, but they are close.  :)

So since I'm slightly better at my yarn crafts than I was when I was 8, and I can actually make things that people might like to receive as a gift, I am constantly looking for ideas of what to make.  Since I am so cheap frugal, I am often going to the internet for inspiration and free patterns.  There are SO many out there if you know where to look.  One of my all-time favorite websites is  This is an online community for knitters and crocheters, a.k.a. Heaven.  Users can create an account and catalog their creations, linking to the pattern they used that will most likely already be stored in the library of thousands and thousands of patterns.  They can also record the yarn they used, how much it took, and any notes that would be helpful to remember in case they wanted to make it again, or offer advice to anyone that might make the same pattern.  Adding your own pictures is very easy too. 

There is an awesome search tool where you can search through available patterns or finished objects that meet certain criteria.  I have spent hours and hours searching and dreaming and getting inspired.  It's a great place to send a friend that might ask me to make something for them, but they aren't sure exactly how they want it.  It gives them the opportunity to see the item they choose in different colors.  They can send me the link and I know I'll be making them something they will really like and actually use.  The forums are full of friendly people always willing to lend a hand if you have questions on a certain pattern.  All of this for FREE!  I love that word.

Wouldn't these make an adorable advent calendar hanging from your mantle?

Cold feet?  How about some nice felted slippers?

Someday when I'm feeling really ambitious, I'd love to try this beauty!

If you'd like to see some of the items I've made, head on over to and search for nancy88.  If you dare, head to the pattern section and look at some of the awesome things people have made and are willing to share.  It's very, very inspiring!

I <3 the internet!!!