Amy Artisan

Family | Travel | Craft | Life | Books

Category: The Ville (page 2 of 3)


Ah, November…always a favorite…with my birthday early in the month and Thanksgiving late in the month…in the midst of celebrating and giving thanks, these are some of the things that filled my November days…
A gorgeous Sunday evening sunset in the 'Ville after a very rainy day...

A gorgeous Sunday evening sunset in the ‘Ville after a very rainy day…

Reading…nothing earth shattering…some freebie fiction for flights & travel…(the majority of my Christmas wish list is books!)

Watching…enjoyed The Giver on DVD with the family while home in the ‘Ville…

Office birthday decor...

Office birthday decor…

Celebrating…a “decade turning” birthday in so many different ways: it started with dinner at a new restaurant while down in TX for some fall fun with my girlies – on my birthday, friends at work decorated my cube & treated me to lunch at a local fave – it continued with a Packers game & more with the WI family – and “finally” a bit of celebrating with the family when I was home for Thanksgiving…

Crafting…lots of progress on a “Simple Shawlette” during Thanksgiving week…

Browsing…a nice tale of a Make-a-Wish kid who was at the Packers-Bears game…Hank the Ballpark Pup has contributed more than $146,000 to the local humane society…a “throwback” article on how spreadsheets came to be…a bookmark worthy list of grammar rules

App-ing…family Christmas cards designed & ordered through Shutterfly…

Cheering…heartily at the Packers game & taking most of the month to recover my voice…

One of many mugs of "voice recovery" tea this month...

One of many mugs of “voice recovery” tea this month…

Sipping & Squawking…A lot of hot tea with honey & lemon to soothe my throat and return my voice after the game…workdays filled with conference calls were lots of “fun” as my voice took it’s time returning…

Cooking…my holiday “traditional” shredded Brussels sprouts dish for our Thanksgiving table…

Leftover cranberry pie for breakfast!

Leftover cranberry pie for breakfast!

Baking…A double batch of my Nantucket Cranberry Pie to share with the church Thanksgiving dinner at home in the ‘Ville…we brought home leftovers and shamelessly enjoyed pie for breakfast!

Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie - a new Thanksgiving dessert tradition?

Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie – a new Thanksgiving dessert tradition?

Noshing…a simple & tasty Thanksgiving meal with the family: turkey with Grandpa’s dressing & gravy; my shredded Brussels sprouts; Rebecca’s green bean casserole; roasted cranberries & butternut squash; a family favorite cranberry jello; and for dessert…we went non-traditional with Mom’s fabulous lemon meringue pie & Rebecca is requesting it becomes a Thanksgiving tradition now…

Flying…Flights early in the month pushed me into gold frequent flier status…it has been several years since I’ve had “status” – thank you trips to the UK for making that happen…

Sunset out the window as I fly north from Thanksgiving in the 'Ville...

Sunset out the window as I fly north from Thanksgiving in the ‘Ville…

Traveling…I was only home 1 weekend this month…otherwise my weekends were filled with travels & adventures with all my favorite people in TX, WI & GA…

Looking Ahead….ah, the anticipation & fun of Christmastime!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?


April showers…seem to be very prevalent this month…the month is closing today with rains of biblical proportion, to quote the radio announcer on the drive home – it sure seems like it has been a pretty wet month. Although, there was that one weekend of early summertime that yielded some much needed patio time. So what was I into throughout the month?

Reading…quite a bit, as I shared in my twitterature link-up and continue to work through more books. On the nightstand right now, a childhood throw back “Little House in the Big Woods” as I join in a blog-based book club (post coming)

Watching…Sabrina (one of my faves); The Great Gatsby; Heat; enjoying the new Fargo series on FX; the whole family thoroughly enjoyed seeing “God’s Not Dead” while I was home in the ‘Ville.

Listening…I finally downloaded Pink Martini’s new album with The Von Trapps (indeed, from “that” family). As with all Pink Martini albums, it’s a winner! And how can you not help but smile when listening to great arrangements of “Lonely Goatherd” & “Edelweiss” sung by the Von Trapps. It has been way to long since I’ve seen Pink Martini in concert – hopefully one of these days their tour schedule and my schedule will align again.

Crafting…recording the Brewers baseball season in stitches (& contemplating how to use this approach for some other sporting fun); needing to finish up on the baby knit since the baby has arrived

Painting with an Amy Artisan Twist

Painting with an Amy Artisan Twist

Painting…a work team outing to Painting With a Twist was to paint a beach scene with a palm tree & beach chairs – I just wasn’t feeling the palm tree & chairs…so, I googled “Door County Beach Sand Dunes” on my phone, found a couple of pictures for inspiration & instead turned my canvas into an interpretation of my preferred beaches. Thanks to my friend Melissa for being another renegade beach dune painter – we were both very happy with our outcomes.

"Go To" Recipes

“Go To” Recipes

Cooking…Spring Simplicity = Roasting shrimp & asparagus and pairing with homemade citrus curry aioli; Baked oatmeal for breakfast (raspberries in the mix brighten it up for spring!)

Sipping…it’s time to keep a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge all the time again; while I enjoy iced coffee year round it’s time to order more of one of my warmer weather favorites: Blueberry Cobbler from Door County Coffee & Tea Co.

Warm Weather Fireplace Screen

Warm Weather Fireplace Screen

Greening…now that the fireplace is not in use, I’ve picked up a fun plant to provide a bit of color in front if it.

Styling…a long overdue haircut has really brought out the curly in my hair that is now the longest it has been since high school…My 20% off everything at Ulta coupon was a catalyst for a spring makeup refresh – the Pur Minerals CC cream is perfect coverage, a bright new lipstick, a makeup palette inspired by Capri…

Easter Sunday Family Selfie

Easter Sunday Family Selfie

Traveling & Celebrating, Part I…it was great to be home in the ‘Ville for Easter with the family – I’ll never be too old to enjoy wearing an Easter orchid corsage from Dad!

Will's First Communion

Will’s First Communion

Traveling & Celebrating, Part II…a favorite kid’s first communion was the perfect opportunity for a long weekend in Marinette! When he woke up on Sunday morning, his first words to me were “You can call me First Communion Boy today, Miss Amy!” So many fun moments with my WI family during my days back with them – cheering on a cousin as she hit a home run in her final college softball game on a very chilly Saturday afternoon and having some roadtrip fun on our way there & back; lunch at my fave Marinette restaurant where the owner greeted me with “Good to see you again, Amy”; watching the Brewers on TV; prepping all the food for the family party after church; general silliness among us all…and so much more… We are all counting the weeks till they head my way for some summer vacation fun…

Looking Ahead…planning what patio gardening I will do this summer…summer vacation planning…adding to the never ending “to read” list…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?

P.S. A bit late to the game…I’m finally claiming my blog through Bloglovin – so pardon the extra code…Follow my blog with Bloglovin

On Holidays & Home

As 2010 comes to an end, I look back and see that most of the year was spent away from home. My Christmas photo card shows that while I may not have been home that much I enjoyed many “home” moments during the year.

While up north this month, I managed to do a lot of Christmas prep work. Many evenings in the hotel were filled with simple gift knitting for some dear kids in my life. One evening I made the paper chain from holiday papers and “O Holy Night” lyrics to loop on the mantel. On one Friday afternoon trek home, I stopped at exit 107 to once again pick up a beautiful wreath from a Boy Scout stand to provide fresh greens for the house. The UPS Store up there was very handy for getting packages mailed. Holiday décor and Christmas gifts were found at some of the local stores.

For the 2nd year in a row, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree at home because of my WI work assignment. Needless to say, I definitely look forward to having a tree at my home next Christmas! The mantel and fireplace glow with white lights as a back drop for the fresh wreath, the paper chain and nativities. My collection of nativities is on the mantel including the newest addition that I picked up in Door County in August. The top of the entertainment center is a forest of Christmas trees. In the dining room, my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The Sunday before Christmas I hosted my 5th annual Holiday Tea for several girlfriends – over plates of tea treats & cups of holiday tea we all escaped the hustle and bustle of the holiday prep to celebrate friendship. The Monday before Christmas I finished up my Christmas cards while enjoying the glow of the decorations in my living room  – it has been a couple years since I had the cards done before Christmas. This afternoon I hosted a friend for lunch and knitting in the midst of the holiday light glow. Tomorrow, the decorations will come down as I watch the Rose Parade.

I’m thankful that the flights to and from Georgia were non events – the highlight of the travel was on my flight down to ATL…the frequent flier in seat 1C gave up his seat for an Army Captain in a middle seat in the back of the plane. At home in the ‘Ville, I think we had the most perfect Christmas tree ever – it took us till Christmas Eve morning to finish decorating it; however, even just with the lights on it was gorgeous to gaze at. On Christmas Eve we enjoyed our family tradition of a movie in the afternoon and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the evening. On Christmas morning, holiday coffee and Mom’s orange rolls provided sustenance for tackling the mound of presents. Rebecca once again hosted the family for a lovely Christmas dinner – at the end of the evening we looked out to see the car covered in snow & big, fluffy snowflakes falling – it was the first White Christmas in Atlanta in more than 130 years. Other decorations of the time at home included catching up with high school friends – including some that I haven’t seen since graduation – it is nice to be better connected with these friends once again.

Looking back on the month that was, once again I’m reminded that holiday and home can be found in the simplest things – traditions and new things equally contribute to the happiness. As I look ahead to the new year, I look forward to more moments of holiday and home – both near and far.

An Artisan Family Christmas

The Artisan family has always said that our holidays aren’t about tradition – they are about being together. Over the years, we have developed some traditions; however, we also know that the holiday will “go on” if we don’t do the traditions. Christmas 2008 was a real test of our holiday approach…looking back now, I think we all would agree that we succeeded.

A week before Christmas, Grandma was admitted to the hospital for unknown reasons – it was obvious that she was in general decline. After a couple of days she stabilized and we learned that she would be discharged to nursing home care – once a bed became available. Needless to say, it was tough being up here in Chicago away from everyone as this was all unfolding – I was counting the days until I would be flying home for the holidays. I made a last minute decision to fly out on 12/23 instead of on 12/24 as originally planned. On the 23rd I awoke to a snow storm here in Chicago – before I even left for the airport my flight was already delayed an hour. I didn’t care what the delay was – as long as I was able to get home! One hour turned to 2…3…4…but finally the flight was in the air.

Christmas Eve was filled with last minute shopping (groceries), visiting with Grandma and the final preparations for Christmas. Mid afternoon, while sitting with Mom for a bit at the hospital, I taught her how to knit (more on that in another post!). For dinner, I pulled together “a taste of Ikea” comfort meal – with a packet of the Ikea gravy mix, a bag of frozen meatballs and a pan of roasted potatoes & onions we quickly had a delicious dinner. Our Christmas Eve evening tradition is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life – this year, we were in the mood for Christmas in Connecticut instead.

When we awoke on Christmas morning, Mom made her delicious orange rolls for breakfast & as we enjoyed peppermint coffee we opened about half of our presents in the morning. Mom & Rebecca then went to the hospital to see Grandma. One of Rebecca’s friends brought us a delicious spread for our Christmas dinner in the early afternoon. Afterwards, we finished opening our gifts. After our traditional Christmas afternoon of napping & diving into the new books, Mom & I went up to the hospital for a bit – we took a plate of Christmas dinner for Grandma.

The day after Christmas, we received notice that a bed was available for Grandma at the nursing home – by dinner time she had been transferred. We were all relieved to have Grandma out of the hospital. On Monday afternoon she was transferred to the memory care unit – something that we all agreed was needed. The rest of the holiday time was spent visiting with Grandma, watching movies, reading new books, simple meals and just being together.

Rebecca got a new kitten, Maylene Noel, the weekend before Christmas who was more than happy to provide us with extra love & cuteness whenever we needed it. Because she was recovering from her “fix” surgery, she was just a lap kitty – although she was ready to get on the floor & explore.

Underneath the Christmas tree, there were many handknits. After months of keeping quiet about some of my knitting it was fun to finally share the projects with them!

For Rebecca, a Sunday Market Shawl in Dream in Color Butter Peeps. For Dad, a Hurricane Hat in Creatively Dyed Yarns Woodbrook. For Mom, a Christmas Lace Scarf in Brooks Farm Yarn  Four Play. I actually gave Mom her scarf when she was here in October – it was a cold weekend & it provided her with just the extra warmth she needed.On Christmas morning I placed a Mitered Hanging Towel on the oven door handle for Mom – I was thrilled with the JOY button that I found for it.

One of these days, I will knit socks for everyone in the Artisan Family – this was not the year for it. However, I was still able give everyone hand knit socks. This fall I discovered Fernwood Woolworks – Lynette uses her antique knitting machine to knit socks to your size specifications using the yarn that you send. So, I dove into my stash & found yarns for each of us. These socks are great – they fit us all perfectly!

Not all of the yarn under the Christmas tree had been knit by me. The Peruvian yarn feast continued with 2 more presents from Rebecca. I’m amazed that she was able to bring anything else home in her bag. In my stocking – a small skein of alpaca in 2 natural alpaca colors. Under the tree – a cone of beautiful forest green alpaca. Hmm…maybe a colorwork project?

All too soon, it was time for me to repack my suitcase & fly back to Chicago. While none of us could have predicted that this was how our Christmas would be this year, we all agreed that it still was a memorable one because of the the time we had together just “being a family.”

As this new year starts, so too starts my 4th year of blogging here at Amy Artisan – I’ll save my “year in review/looking ahead musings” for another post.

Holiday Transitions & Traditions

Every year it seems like Christmas arrives into the stores and advertisements earlier and earlier. I had to chuckle when the Christmas commercials started in on Halloween evening – most households hadn’t yet sorted through their trick-or-treat loot before the focus was on the red and green. With this rush to Christmas it seems like Thanksgiving tends to get overlooked. The last week has been filled with Thanksgiving fun that served as a great way to transition from autumn into the Christmas season.

In the last couple of years, a day trip on the Saturday before Thanksgiving has been what transitions me into Thanksgiving and on to Christmas. For 3 years now, Kristy & I have spent this third Saturday over in Harbor Country and this year the fun tradition continued. When we first ventured over there it was to pick up wine gifts at our favorite winery – the last 2 years we have added to the list of “must do” activities. This year’s excursion started at Round Barn Winery and then a quick stop in the old-time Ben Franklin. Continuing down Red Arrow Highway we stopped in a favorite antique mall and then at Pomegranate Home – where the shop owner greeted us with “Hello, it’s been a while since you’ve been in.” (Sisters weekend in June) After lunch at Stray Dog, it was time to Sit & Knit. The entire time we were there the couches and chairs were filled with knitters – one woman was on row 3 of her first scarf ever when we arrived; cousins were working on assorted projects; Bill came in with a bag of knits and started to work on a hat for a niece and wow us with all the other beautiful yarns in his bag; a recent Brooklyn transplant picked up some bright yarn for a winter scarf and proceeded to cast on. All the while, Kim & Jack were the ever attentive hosts in the shop keeping the coffee coming and providing snacks to munch on. When our sitting and knitting was done, we proceeded down the Red Arrow Highway towards Michigan City – a few shoe purchases at the Bass Outlet and then some “serious” holiday shopping at the Meijer’s. As we prepared to head back to the city I turned on the “constant Christmas music” radio station and commented to Kristy that it was now ok to hear Christmas songs. The yummy cranberry shakes from Culvers (best.shake.ever) kept the holiday spirit going. We arrived back in the city after the Christmas lights had been turned on along Michigan Ave. so the holiday spirit continued. In keeping with tradition, we ended the evening by picking up Thai food and watching Love Actually while working on gift knitting.

The Lights along Michigan Ave.

The Water Tower & Hancock Building & a few holiday lights

On Tuesday afternoon I headed to the airport to fly home for Thanksgiving with the family in the ‘Ville. Over eight hours after I arrived at the Chicago airport I arrived to the Atlanta airport – however my luggage didn’t arrive until after dinner on Wednesday. Tuesday was definitely one of the most difficult travel days that I’ve had in all my years of travel. At the last minute my flight was cancelled (reason: unclear) but I was immediately booked on the last flight out; however, that flight was delayed over 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully my carry-on bag was filled with plenty of knitting to pass the time. I think that Malabrigo projects are becoming a Thanksgiving flight tradition for me – when I got to the airport I cast on for a new winter hat and over half of the hat was finished by the time I arrived in Atlanta.

Our Thanksgiving day was quiet and filled with family, friends and food. We often joke that our Thanksgiving tradition is being non-traditional. The definite tradition is being together; however, the menu can be varied. In previous years we have enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Benihana and at the Planet Hollywood in Washington DC. When cooking at home we will try out new side dishes – but 2 things remain the same: how the turkey is prepared and the stuffing/dressing recipe that we use. This year family friends joined at our table. A favorite brussel sprout recipe is becoming my traditional addition to the holiday menu.

Our Thanksgiving Table

While at home I knit several triangles for a new batch of Christmas trees to be gifted this year. These will definitely be a family production – Mom & Dad will take the triangles and transform them into decorated trees – pictures will be posted later. In keeping with a recent “tradition” Dad & I picked up our Christmas tree on Friday morning – I helped to get the hundreds of lights on the tree on Saturday. While none of us were up at the crack of dawn on Friday morning to begin our holiday shopping, a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday with Dad and Rebecca yielded some good progress on the gift list.

Before I knew it, it was time to re-pack my suitcase and head back to my home in Chicago. An early flight this morning brought me and my suitcase back to Chicago with no problems at all. Today’s airport and airplane time provided just the right duration to finish up a current pair of socks on the needles.

And so, Thanksgiving is over. Although, Thanksgiving is more than just a day on the calendar – it is a state of mind. So often I’m reminded of how many things I have to be thankful for: family, friends, experiences and more! In fewer than 4 weeks it will be time to head back home to celebrate Christmas. However, between now and then there are lots of things to “complete” on the path towards Christmas: decorating the house, finishing up the gift knitting (& shopping), hopefully some holiday baking, the company holiday party, holiday get togethers with friends and of course – just taking time to enjoy all of the magic of Christmas.

…stay tuned for a post with finished knits…

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