Amy Artisan

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Category: ABC Along (page 1 of 2)

An Obvious O

My plan for Friday evening was simple – watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony and cast on for a new knitting project. Earlier this summer I started thinking about what my Olympic knitting project would be. As I mentioned during the Winter Knit Olympics, crafting has always been a part of Artisan Family Olympic Watching. For this Olympic crafting, I’m knitting another Capri shawl – more details about that in future posts. As I continue to jump around the alphabet for the ABC-along, I’ll jump to an obvious O.


I’ve had the opportunity to see the Olympic torch relay twice – for the 1984 Games while living in Lompoc, CA and the 1996 Games while living in Greenville, SC. In fact, when I saw the torch relay in SC, a local tv station interviewed me along the route because they were talking about the “once in a lifetime experience” & I mentioned that I was seeing a second relay.

1984 Olympic Torch Relay

1984 Summer Olympic Games Torch Relay – Lompoc, CA

I have two key memories of watching the 1984 games on tv: 1) Our whole family became enthralled with the rowing competions and I remember us buying a rowing machine for at home. I’ve often thought that if I had ever gone to school where rowing was a sport I could have seen being a part of that team. 2) To this day, whenever I hear “Rhapsody in Blue” I think of the opening ceremonies and the site of 88 baby grand pianos playing that classic song.

 1996 Olympic Torch Relay

1996 Summer Olympic Games Torch Relay – Greenville, SC

I was in high school when Atlanta won the 1996 games. My senior year of high school, our marching band show included John Williams “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” which I have always enjoyed since it debuted at the ’84 games. For Christmas one year in college, I gifted my college roommates with an inscribed brick at the Olympic Centennial Park and “made” bricks for each of us – I still use mine as a doorstop. By the time the games arrived in 1996 I had moved to SC and wasn’t in Atlanta at all for the games. I don’t have any “key” memories from watching these games – maybe because I was working full time then and the coverage wasn’t quite as non-stop as it is these days. I do remember cringing when the shiny pickup trucks were on the field during the opening ceremony – really, was that the best we could do?

So far this year’s Olympics have provided several memorable viewing moments – the 9 year old boy who rescued classmates from the aftermath of the earthquake definitely stole the show on Friday evening. Today at work everyone was a buzz talking about the 4 x 100m men’s relay last night. I wonder what other memorable moments are yet to be made?

Chicago is in the running to be the host city in 2016 – I must admit I’m more excited at the prospect of Chicago hosting the games than I was of Atlanta hosting – maybe there will be another Olympic Torch Relay viewing in my future?

Happy Hibiscus

As the ABC-Along continues to progress, I continue to be a bit behind. (Actually, more than a bit behind.) However, looking on my back deck this evening when I came home from work I immediately knew what to post for a long overdue H entry.

Deck Hibiscus 2008

H is for Hibiscus

I have always loved the hibiscus flower. This picture is from my Grandma’s house in California (30 years ago this spring) – among the blooms in her beautiful garden were hibiscus – in fact, this photo shoot might have been what started my love of this tropical flower. This picture frame is on my mantel today.

Hibiscus Sisters

In 1997, a work trip to St. Croix USVI included many opportunities to see these beautiful flowers. In 1999, a fun family vacation to Bermuda was filled with many of these blooms.

An Artisan Dad Hibiscus

Artisan Dad & I enjoy picking hibiscus for our potted gardens each year. As I was pulling together my garden for this summer (that will be another post…) I didn’t feel like my garden was complete until I had picked up a hibiscus – the 2 blooms at the start of this post are the first blooms on my deck.

When I redecorated my bathroom here several years ago, the hibiscus was a guiding theme – a shower curtain of tropical postcards & hibiscus; hibiscus art from our Bermuda trip and a few other blooms to complete the theme. Even in the middle of dreary winters I can escape to the tropics.

The hibiscus truly is a happy flower for me. When I see a bloom it brings a smile to my face – and happy memories come to mind. Hibiscus blooms can seem to be so fleeting; however, memories of hibiscus moments past can last forever.

While the blog has been a bit radio silent this month, I have been non-stop busy…hosting Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug; the start of farmer’s market season & having fun in the kitchen with my bag of produce each weekend; some knitting time – finishing projects, starting new, hosting a knitting circle; getting back into gardening after a few years away from my hands in the dirt; and more…more posts to come…

A Weekend for Joy(ce)

I have several things I want to blog about, including getting up to date with my ABCs (err, H & I) but for now I’m jumping straight to J.


J is for JOYCE (aka Artisan Mom)

I remember when I was learning to read I made the connection that within my Mom’s name was Joy. Even at a young age I knew how appropriate that was – Mom has always brought joy to everything that she does.

This weekend she had a ‘big’ birthday. It was made even better because the whole Artisan Family was together here in Chicago to celebrate Mom. It has been several years since the four of us were all together here in Chicago – most of our family celebrations have been home in the ‘Ville. This weekend we were greatful for some wonderful respite care for Grandma that allowed for a Chicago birthday celebration for Mom.

Given the state of air travel these days, unfortunately it wasn’t that much of a surprise that their flight was about 3 hours late arriving on Thursday evening – it was almost midnight when we got to my house, so our planned Thai takeout dinner would end up being Friday lunch. The Chicago weather was perfect spring – sunny, blue skies, and lots of green grass & trees accented with lilacs and other spring blooms. We didn’t have many plans for the weekend – we just gave Mom some “dress code guidelines” for Friday & Saturday reservations. We did a little bit of shopping, a little bit of driving, a little bit of relaxing with books & a favorite musical on DVD, and a lot of just enjoying being together. On Friday evening we had reservations for dinner at A Mano – it was fun to order several things off the menu & share amongst us all; of course we saved room to enjoy their delicious gelato for dessert.

Our “big” surprise was Saturday afternoon – all Mom knew was that we had 4:30 PM reservations & we were dressing up a bit more. As we headed downtown, Mom was just glad that we were all together & didn’t seem to have a clue where we were going. It wasn’t until we turned the corner and pulled up in front of The Peninsula Chicago that Mom realized we were going to enjoy afternoon tea at my favorite tea spot. As we enjoyed all of the delicious treats on the menu we recalled the lovely afternoon tea we enjoyed in Bermuda 9 years ago this month. This “quick pic” at the end of the afternoon definitely captures the fun of the weekend.

And to celebrate a milestone birthday for a Mom who has done so much for so many I had a secret knit on the needles in the last month: “A Hug for Mom” – a simple shawl using yarn that I picked up last summer.

The Details – Pattern: Simple Yet Effective Shawl; Yarn: Brooks Farm Yarn Limited Edition III a wool and silk blend in a medium/steel blue, 2 skeins; Needles; Size 10; Modifications: Since Mom’s birthday is the 17th I had the garter stitch section at 17 ridges; the edge of the shawl had 2 stitches & then the yarn over to increase.   When I bought this yarn last summer I had a specific pattern in mind; however, as I started with the yarn and pattern it was obvious that they weren’t a match – same with the 2nd pattern. Truly, the third time was a charm by going with a simple pattern that I had knit before – the simple stitches allowed the yarn to really come to life.

The weekend trip may have been quick; however, it was wonderful to celebrate the JOY that is Mom!

Spring Green

Springtime in Chicago is unique every year. Sometimes it comes early – sometimes it comes late – sometimes it seems like we go straight from winter to summer. With the winter that we’ve had this year, I’m not sure what it will be – although the sun and warmth that is creeping in this week gives me hope that spring may come this year. As I was starting to think about this entry, my page-a-day calendar had the following quotation that seems very appropriate:

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. – Guinean proverb

G is for Green

It appears that I have been choosing Green as my spring accessory color. A new scarf and a fun purse. I picked up this yarn last spring and loved the colors. I started hearing concerns about the ability to get a pair of socks from a skein & so I decided that it would be best to use the yarn for a non-sock pattern. While browsing through Ravelry I stumbled across this pattern and decided it would be a good choice for the yarn. The one row pattern made it simple de-stressing knitting early this winter. This scarf was the perfect weight for the spring weather in DC last weekend.

The Details: Pattern: Vine Stitch Scarf in Collinette Jitterbug (Toscana); size 5 needles; I cast on 28 stitches

The colorway is Toscana; however, as I look at it I am more reminded of a different destination: Taliesin in Spring Green, WI. The splashes of color against the green yarn remind me of the vibrant spots of color that the flowers in the garden provided to the lush green landscape of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home.

Green in my Garden – My flowerbed has been neglected the last couple of years; however, a few perenniels that managed to survive some hungry dogs in years past are making another appearance. This week I see that the sedum & bachelor buttons are starting to push through the dirt. The hostas have purple tips just starting to come through the dirt. While it’s definitely too early to start buying & planting in the garden, it’s not too early to start planning for it. Gardening catalogs have been arriving in the mail & it has been so fun to “ooh” & “aah” through them. I look forward to the coming weeks and months where I can “play in the dirt” in the evenings when I get home from work.

Green has always been a favorite color and I have always enjoyed using my green thumb to tend to plants and flowers. When Rich Mullins released his song The Color Green it became a favorite song. Since then, whenever I see a field of green I often find myself humming the chorus:

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

– from The Color Green by Rich Mullins

We’ll Have Fun, Fun, Fun…

Many things come to mind for the letter F – family, friends, faith, flowers, and more. My trip to Dallas last weekend to celebrate Easter with Miss Butterfly and Miss Doodlebug encompassed many of these things. The overarching theme of my trip was yet another F…

F is for FUN

Easter Egg Fun

March has been a pretty busy week at work and so several days with the girls was just what I needed to break free of the winter blahs that have gripped me so often in these recent months.  I arrived after the girls were asleep on Wed. evening but from the time they crept into my room on Thursday morning until I left on Monday we indeed had fun, fun, fun!

Dallas Blooms

F is for Flowers – Another beautiful spring day to enjoy the Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum. The tulips were at their peak and the late afternoon sunshine made for some great photo opportunities. As we were taking pictures of the girls, whenever we would tell them “Say Cheese” Miss Doodlebug would reply “I already said cheese” which yielded some funny faces. This year’s Dallas Blooms theme was Star of Texas – it was fun to see Texas icons interpreted in flowers & grasses.

F is for Feelin’ the Sun – After the winter that we’ve had in Chicago, it was wonderful to soak in the sun. Sunscreen was needed to avoid burning but it was great to have the sunglasses on and just be outside in the sun. There were plenty of opportunities for that. Many fun times were spent in the backyard pushing the girls on their swings or at the park.

F is for Friends– While it is always great to spend the time with Miss Butterfly and Miss Doodlebug it is also such a treat to hang out with Maya. After the girls were in bed we managed to catch up on a couple of movies from our queues – we finally saw Once & the soundtrack has stayed with us ever since. On Friday evening we left the girls with their favorite babysitter and enjoyed some fun out & about – a bit of shopping, another excellent meal at Zanders House and then lattes & dessert at Cafe Obzeet. Saturday while the girls had afternoon rest time we enjoyed manicure time out on the patio while soaking in the sun.

Easter Girls

F is for Faith– Easter Sunday morning was a whirl of activity. After the thrill of opening Easter baskets,  watching a bit of an Easter basket DVD and cracking the glitter eggs & having hard boiled eggs with breakfast, we enjoyed a lovely Easter service at church. The service was topped off with a sing-along of the Hallelujah chorus.  Throughout the weekend, when the girls would pick out stories for me to read they included several tellings of the Easter story which can yield lots of questions when you are 4 & 2.

Easter Kids

F is for Family – Even though I wasn’t with my family for the holiday, I was still a part of a family celebration. Easter dinner was at Maya’s parents house. It was the same group that gathered for Easter when I was there in 2006 so it was fun to see them all again. Everyone contributed to the dinner spread – I was on for one of my appetizers, the Mushroom Caviar was definitely a hit. The ‘big kids’ had a great time hiding the Easter eggs in the backyard while I kept the little kids distracted with reading several stories. The little kids loved the Easter egg hunt, the eggs with the coins inside were definitely the ones to find. Everyone had fun cracking confetti eggs on each other’s heads later in the afternoon.

The rest of the weekend was filled with all sorts of fun things that were perfect for recharging from the winter – lots of “read us a story M’Amy” story times; Miss Butterfly loved having me tell stories about when she was a baby here in Chicago (“and then what…and then what…”); making a feast with the playdough in the Easter basket; ice cream cones at the local ice cream shop and just all the fun that it is to be little girls.

(more pictures here)

Even “f is for flight delay” on both sides of the trip didn’t diminish the fun that was had. I had knitting in my bag but didn’t knit a single stitch at the airports or on the trip – but I did enjoy reading a couple of good books.

As spring continues to fight it’s way into Chicago (really, did we need to see snow again this week?) the fun moments of last weekend keep me looking forward to the arrival of the spring and summer and all the fun that will be had in the coming months.

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