Monday, June 24, 2019

Snapshots from the weekend

Our Saturday was spent working on the house, but on Sunday we took a day off and went to the beach. Just the two of us, swimming, talking, resting. It was good. When we came home we napped (yes, really) and then we went to a friend's house for a bbq. 
It was a good, relaxing weekend and I actually feel, more or less, up to facing a new, busy and difficult (my mother is starting treatments) week.
Wishing you all a great week!
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Friday, June 21, 2019

The poncho (cowl?)

I finished the poncho two weeks ago but never got around to taking pictures of it. Time keeps slipping away these days. Anyway, here it is. I just love, love, love the color changes.  So glad I decided to use both skeins on one simple project, instead of splitting them up for hats.

(Um, ignore the face, I was very tired when I took these pictures).
I started with a cowl and then proceeded with 4 increases every two rounds like in this pattern. If I make a poncho like this again, I'll do a round of many increases right after the cowl part, to have more room around the shoulders.

Since I had only the two skeins it's actually a rather small poncho. Or maybe it's not a poncho, but just a cowl? Or a shrug? A shawl cowl? I don't know. I do know it's soft and warm and really comfortable. It won't get much wear here (cause it looks quite silly with a t-shirt and shorts), but it is perfect for when I travel back to the Netherlands.


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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Three on Thursday :: on my mind

Three things I've been thinking about a lot these days.

This. I'm not a feminist at all, but I can't understand why there must be a difference between men and women in the workplace. Yes, men and women are different and sometimes that makes one of them better for the job, but caring men can be great nurses and strong-minded women can be wonderful CEO's. On the other hand, I also don't think we should place women in higher positions, just because they're women (I don't know about the US, but this happens in the Netherlands). Each job should be done by the best person available, regardless if it's a woman or a man.
I hope that someday gender will not be such an issue anymore. The same goes for race and sexual orientation, by the way.

Aging. Not the physical part, though of course, I feel that too. I'm talking about being well past half your life. Looking back at almost half a century of life and knowing that you still have a lot of time ahead, but not as many years as you've already had. I try not to have regrets (and I don't), but I sometimes feel I'm late to the game, wish I had started something earlier. I guess my mother's condition makes me realize that our time is limited.
On the other hand, it does feel great to decide that I'm too old to change some of my ways (the things that don't harm me or anyone else, like never using patterns or recipes). One thing I've learned over the years is that you can't really change who you are, you can just correct some of your habits. I'm still the girl I was when I was eighteen, I just have a bit more experience. The real goal is to put that experience to good use.

Food. I wrote about this before, but I'm trying to find out what my body needs and what it doesn't cope with very well. Staying away from gluten has proved to be a good idea, but combined with not eating sugar, cheese and soy it's sometimes hard to deal with, especially when eating out. My girls have been through this too, so now I try to do what I've always told them.
Be prepared. Always have something you can actually eat with you, even if it's just potato chips. Have a (small) meal before you go to barbecues or food-related parties, to make sure you're not so hungry that you'll cave and eat the wrong things.
For real and/or formal 'at the table' dinner parties you talk to the hosts - timely, not at the last moment -, explain the problem and ask if you should bring some of your own food.
This works, but it sometimes feels like I'm just making things hard for everybody. And then I eat what is provided to find out a few hours later (or the next days) that I shouldn't have. I really have to train myself to be more mindful of my own needs...

Linking up with Carole's Three on Thursday
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Knitting & reading

This is what happens when you leave your knitting outside during the night. It got wet. We were so tired last night that I left my knitting bag on the porch and there was a big shower early this morning. Oh well, luckily it was the cotton project I'm working on (potholders again), not the wool one. This will dry a lot sooner, I think.
I finished reading four books by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and I think that is enough for now. It's fun to read them, but the idea of stash building (or actually not being able to do that) started to haunt me and that's not fun at all (not her fault, I'm just susceptible to worrying right now.
The book in the picture I found in the free library at the supermarket. It's an older book (1970's) by a Curaçaoan woman about a girl moving to the Netherlands and then back to the island and how she copes with all things related to that. I hope it's a bit more uplifting than the cover suggests, but I really want to learn more about the people on this island.
This morning I'm also driving into town to pick up my order from Amazon. It took a month to arrive here and I have to pay taxes before I get it, but then I will be the owner of Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'The Opinionated Knitter'.
It's been on my wishlist ever since Amanda wrote about it, so I'm really happy about this. Can't wait to start reading it!

Linking up with Kat's Unraveled Wednesday
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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Keep calm and craft on

It really feels like that, right now.
Yesterday and today we had to be at the new house early because we were awaiting deliveries (material to repair the cesspit). That meant getting up even earlier than normal, getting ready faster than usual. Not the best way to start the day.
But once we're at the house, I can relax. Well, yes, there is a lot to do. But I'm still not feeling great, so I'm taking it kind of easy. I'm so grateful to be able to sit on the porch, watch that view and knit. We have internet here now, so we can work and blog from here too. It's starting to feel like home more and more, even though we can't really move in yet (no running water, no electricity, no cesspit).

I'm working on a few things at once right now. Potholders from cotton scraps, a sweater/shirt/tunic from light gray wool and (not pictured) a scarf from dark gray wool. Not the most exciting projects, but just what I need to stay calm.

linking up with Nicole's Crafting On
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Monday, June 17, 2019

Right now

Right now I am...

:: sitting on the porch of the new house
:: listening to the birds singing
:: looking at that view (I don't think I'll ever get enough of it)
:: so happy that we have internet there now. Still no electricity though, so I have to be mindful about my battery.
:: thinking that being mindful about how much to use the computer isn't too bad actually
:: catching my breath after another morning of rushing about (though this time I knew it from the start - that helped
:: hoping the delivery we had to be here for so early is coming early too (between 8 am and 5 pm is a bit of a wide window of time)
:: planning to get some painting done
:: wondering if I can't just sit and knit for another day though
:: glad that I have done that last week
:: feeling a lot better now, though I could use another week of rest
:: looking back at a fun weekend (lots of gatherings with friends)
:: smiling because in that second picture I keep seeing more birds the longer I stare at it (the bigger ones are orioles, but there are a lot of bananaquits)
:: hoping this will be a good week
:: wishing you all a great start to your week
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Giant potholders (or: so maybe gauge does matter - a little bit)

I needed a simple and washable project to take with me to the house. So I decided to knit some potholders. I have been doing that the same way for years now.
Just knit diagonal squares by casting on three stitches, make a stitch in the second stitch of every row until I have sixty stitches, knit one row without decreasing or increasing and then knit the second and third stitch together every row until three remain.

Simple as that. No need to worry about gauge or needle sizes. Size isn't that important for potholders and since I make them by crocheting or sewing two squares together they're always thick enough even if I knit a bit loosely. I like that, because gauging is not my thing, really (yes, yes, I know... but I rarely knit clothing from real patterns, I usually just wing things).

I finished the first square rather quickly, but when I got halfway the second one, I remembered that I've always gotten only one and a half square from one ball of cotton. So I frogged part of the first one and added black stripes on both of them.

After finishing the first two squares I got kind of bored, so I thought it would be a brilliant idea to make crochet squares for the backs. I happily crocheted away, but I found that every time I thought I was done, the knitted square stretched just a bit more and I needed to add another round of crochet.

After a while, I realized that this cotton was a bit (or actually a lot) thicker than the cotton I normally use for potholders. I was also using larger needles and I could have stopped increasing at fifty stitches to get the size I make them normally (which is already bigger than most store-bought potholders).
By then I was almost done (or so I thought before I found I needed to add another round of crochet), so I thought 'Oh well, bigger is better'.

I did not take into account that with crochet the squares also gets thicker.  Ahem.

So now I have two giant, really thick potholders. But you know what? I love them. I use that cast iron frying pan a lot and with normal sized potholders I often accidentally touch the hot handle. With these, I have never done that (and I have been using them at least twice a day for almost a week now).

All is well that ends well, I guess. But I will try to remember to at least consider gauge for my next project.
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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Three things - a good day

Three things I did yesterday:

:: freak out when I heard T. on the phone saying 'we will be there in 30 minutes'. We had to go to the house because they were digging out the cesspit. It's a 30-minute drive, so that could work. But I had to pack food and water for the day, I was about to make breakfast, I had to make the bed, tidy the room, write a column (that's paid work, so kind of important) and... well, you get the drift.
I took a deep breath (okay, and some valerian) and started doing what I had to do. Made breakfast, packed lunch and water, tried to ignore the rest.
It took me the whole day to realize that I shouldn't have panicked. Eat lunch for breakfast (lunch doesn't need to be cooked), go out for lunch. Just pack water and let the rest be. Oh well, sometimes life gets a bit overwhelming and then I can't think straight. I'm learning to accept that, but I also hope to remember this lesson when something like this happens again (I'm sure it will).

We arrived only 20 minutes late, which is totally acceptable around here, and found they were almost done already.
Next week they'll start to build the walls for the pit and then we will have indoor plumbing! (no running water yet, though, but we hope that will be connected this month too)

:: decide to take it easy for the rest of the day, so I sat on the porch and did some knitting. Yes, of course, I brought my knitting.  In fact, when the phone call came, I was packing my knitting for the day. First things first, you know. Priorities.
I spend the morning and part of the afternoon knitting on the porch (with that fantastic view) and then all was well with the world again. Especially when I realized that this really is my home now and within a few months I'll spend all my knitting hours there.
We also brought our laptops and I managed to write next week's column and then I felt up to sweeping the attic. I had been ignoring that part of the house because the bats used to live there, but it seems they moved out permanently. It felt good to do the sweeping and then I moved on to putting stuff away and tidying up a bit. It's time I start treating the house as my home instead of a renovation project.

:: visit friends for 'rum night'. Which is always fun when you're the only one drinking water ;-)
No, it really was fun. Good people, good talks. And they have a fantastic view too.

I guess it was a good day after all.

Linking up to Carole's Three on Thursday
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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Knitting & reading - a little bit obsessed

- Knitting

 I've finished the poncho and the potholders, so right now I'm thinking about what to make next. I want to use up my 'stash' (don't laugh, pictures below show all I have) before I buy new yarn (that will be a bit of a challenge on this island), but I'm not sure what I want to make. A hat, of course. Maybe even a few hats, now that I know where I can send them to (see the link in the first comment on this post). And while I'm at it, I might even consider a scarf to donate. Try my hand at some cables or something to make it interesting. I'm not too happy about all that gray, but it is good yarn (most of it is real wool), so I don't want to waste it.
I think the cotton scraps will be another set of potholders and maybe a headband (or two). And maybe the pink is enough to try knitting a sunhat?
Wouldn't that be great, to be knitting hats that I can use myself? I still have to figure out how to get a stiff brim though. Maybe knitting them on a much smaller size needles would help. Going to look into those patterns I found.

- Reading

I wanted to use my e-reader to get through the endless stockinette (I can't read paper books when I knit) and found out that though my subscription stopped working here on Curaçao, I can download books that I downloaded before. And since I hadn't read all of the books I chose before, I started browsing my archives. And found that I had five books by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee at my fingertips (one of them I own, the rest through the subscription). So now I'm happily reading away.
And getting a bit obsessed with knitting, because she makes that sound perfectly normal. She also makes me itchy to build a real stash, but I'm holding that off until we move. I hope to be able to buy myself a 'crafting cupboard' to hold my yarn and fabrics and other stuff (oh, I do dream of claiming an entire room, but for now a whole cupboard would be heaven!).

linking up with Kat's Unraveled Wednesday
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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Cheaper than therapy

Last week I was looking at my knitting projects and not feeling it at all. I didn't like how the potholders were working out (more on that later this week) and the poncho was still in the phase of endless stockinette. I needed something a bit more fun and a bit more capable of taking my mind off things.
So I cast on for a hat. Reluctantly, I might add.
I finished my last hat in December, a few short of my goal of 52 in 2018. At that time I thought I was sick and tired of knitting hats and wouldn't like to knit one for a long time. Also, I felt bad about dumping most of those hats at the thrift store in March, because my family was already drowning in hats. Such a waste of time and yarn. But the mad hat knitter inside me is stronger than my reasoning. I need to knit hats every once in a while. Or so it seems.
Because I happily knit the brim, alternated with the other two projects and finished it only two days later.
And now all is well in my world. Well, in my knitting world anyway. And I do feel a bit better overall too. So maybe I should be knitting hats, despite not knowing what to do with them. It's cheaper (and more fun) than therapy.

Pattern: the Rosa Hat, a free pattern by Soulemama
Yarn: a thrift store find

linking up with Nicole's Crafting On
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Weekend adventures

It was a weekend full of ups and downs and apparently I didn't feel like taking pictures, since this is the only one I've got. Oh well, sometimes it's like that.
I had a minor breakdown (it seems it took some time for my mom's condition to sink in, but right now I'm having a bit of a hard time getting to grips with it) and I also seem to have caught the flu or something like that (headaches, nausea, slight fever).
But in between feeling um... off, I did have a good time. We met some friends, I did some knitting and reading, we worked on the house and had a good talk about a lot of things.
This week will be busy, but I feel like my body is telling me to take it easy, so I'm trying get the most important things done and let the rest go.
Knit, read, rest. That's my main plan.

Wishing you all a great start to your week!
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Friday, June 7, 2019

Palm tree (or it will be, some day)

I was going to share some house updates today. You know, after one month of working on it. But this week... well, a lot has been happening, but we've not been able to even visit the house since Saturday. Of course, I could just repeat the list I made a few weeks ago and yes, there are things that I can happily cross off now. But I think it would be more fun if I had some recent pictures to go along with that and I just didn't have time to take them. So that will have to wait.

Let's talk about palm trees instead.

Living in the tropics you need to have at least one, don't you think? Or actually, at least two, because you need two to hang a hammock.
Or maybe three, to hang two hammocks?

Palm trees are expensive though. Especially if you buy full grown ones. But our landlord had some in his garden and was kind enough to give us three coconuts to sow. Because yes, the nuts are the seeds. Sort of. The real seed is inside, but once it sprouts, it feeds off the water and the flesh inside the coconut until it's strong enough to face the outside world.
It takes months before you see anything happening. We put them in the ground on March 2nd.

(we had some help from an expert, who taught us to bury them only halfway into the soil)

And then we waited patiently. And not so patiently. And then we were about to give up on them.

But on the 10th of May, we spotted this:

One of the nuts is actually growing something. It's like watching an egg hatch. But slower. A lot slower.

May 23rd:

And yesterday (June 6th).

Bring on the hammocks!

(sadly the other two nuts are still not doing anything, but we still have hope they will eventually).
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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Three things that make me happy

Silly things, maybe, but that doesn't matter, does it? As long as it does make me happy.

1. making. Something. Even when my current projects aren't really exciting, it makes me happy to work on them. And to dream about what to make next.

2. cleaning. Hmn. Really? Well, yes. Sort of. I have to admit that after days and days of scrubbing bat droppings off my walls and floors I was not really into cleaning for a while. And that showed in our tiny apartment. Ahem. But yesterday I kicked myself into gear. T. was working at a client's location and I knew he would be home late, so I put on some cleaning videos on YT and just started. It felt so good!

3. that cat. Okay, he's not a thing, but he does make me happy. I never realized how much I missed having a pet until he came along. He waits for us outside when we get up and comes around begging for attention (okay, and food) a few times a day. Our landlord says we can take him with us when we move and I'm glad about that. I'd sure miss him.

Linking up with Carole's Three Things
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Knitting and reading - Bitter & Sweet

The cowl* poncho is coming along slowly, but I love the color changes. I'll have to pick it up more often to finish it, but the endless stockinette is a bit too boring right now, I need something to take my mind off things. This morning I tried to download a simple read on my e-reader to try knitting and reading at the same time again, but Kobo Plus (the subscription I've been using for over a year now) has decided to block users from Curaçao.
I finished two squares for the potholders and decided to crochet the other two squares, but I regret that choice. Somehow knitting feels more relaxing and soothing than crocheting. But I'll finish these now.

*edited to add: I was wondering why I got comments about a cowl. Oh, I see. My mistake. It's a poncho, not a cowl.


I've read books by Jenny Colgan before, and I liked all of them. Just simple feelgood stories, but interesting enough to keep reading.
In "Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams" Rosie temporarily moves from London to the country to help her great aunt Lilian sell her sweet shop and move to a home. It turns out the sweet shop hasn't been open for years, but to sell it for a good price (they need the money to pay for the home), she needs to get it in business again. Of course, that doesn't go really smoothly. There are some classic but funny 'city dweller moves to countryside' incidents, she meets a few interesting men and makes friends along the way. Through flashbacks, we also get a bit of insight into Lilian's past.
Such a sweet story! (pun unintended at first, but I kinda like it, so I decided to keep it).

Linking up with Kat's Unraveled Wednesday and Ginny's Yarn Along
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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Right now...

Right now I am...

:: listening to the birds singing
:: thinking there is some life lesson in the fact that the most beautiful song comes from a simple greyish bird, while the ones that have the most spectacular colors just squeak loudly
:: watching the cat play with a nutshell he found somewhere (I guess he didn't do any hunting last night since he's very active this morning)
:: thinking about yesterday and smiling, because my husband got me a new bikini for his birthday
:: admitting I'd never buy a bikini like that (this one in a slightly more muted colorway) for myself, but also that I did feel good wearing it and he loves seeing me in it
:: having mixed feelings about my decision to 'test' my gluten intolerance Sunday night and yesterday by eating the wrong things. I enjoyed the things I ate but I now know for sure I should stay away from gluten. I hope my body is able to restore itself fast because I don't like how I feel right now (and the timing is all wrong)
:: feeling slightly overwhelmed by the uncertainty and scary things that await our family in the weeks ahead (I'm not trying to be secretive about it - my mother is seriously ill -  but I decided that the details aren't my story to tell)
:: trying to focus on the good things in life
:: also trying to focus on the work that needs to be done (grocery shopping, cleaning, writing, bookkeeping)
:: going to start doing that now
:: wishing you all a great day!
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Monday, June 3, 2019

Weekend adventures

Friday evening we went to the first Rum Festival on Curaçao. Which is kind of funny since T. usually sticks to beer and I drink wine about four times a year. But we were invited by friends and well, why not?. So we attended a 'masterclass' where we were learned how rum is produced and got to taste four different rum (I took little sips of all of them, just to get an idea - I actually liked the most expensive one). There were live music and a little exhibition of classic cars and it was fun.
Saturday we worked at the house, but I didn't take any pictures.
On Sunday we went to the beach, to rest because we were having a party at our favorite beach bar that night and for once we didn't want to show up tired as we have done on parties of other people this past month.
We were celebrating our own birthdays after all. I turned 48 two weeks ago and T. turns 50 today. We invited the few people we know and when one of them asked what to bring we told them to bring some of the people we've met through them, but didn't know how to get in touch with. We ended up with a group of about 20 persons and it was a great birthday for both of us.

Today we'll do some more celebrating for T.'s birthday. It's not just that 50 is a special milestone, but we feel really, really grateful to be able to celebrate this birthday since last year we were afraid he wouldn't make it to 50. But here he is, fulfilling his dreams of living here and feeling healthier and stronger than before (the last time he had a heart-related incident was four months ago) and I'm so happy about that.
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Friday, May 31, 2019

Green stuff

One of the things I really missed when we stayed on the island last year, was taking care of plants. I've always had lots of them (long before it was a trend). But with all the traveling back and forth it just wasn't an option, unless I wanted a lot of dead plants on my conscience.
But in January, when I knew we would stay longer this year, there was no holding me back. I bought a plant the very first day when we went to the supermarket and I've been adding plants ever since (if you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught up on that).
I've been meaning to post about my plants for a while now. In fact, I had a post, and pictures all ready to post weeks ago, but somehow I never got to it and then some of those plants died and it wasn't fun to post it anymore.

Last Sunday I was repotting some of my plants and I decided to take some new pictures and write a new post to go online this week. So, here we go.

This was that very first plant. It's an Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen). One of them wasn't doing so well, so I took them out of their shared pot, rinsed the roots and gave them both their own place to grow. We'll see if that helps.

Lemon balm is my favorite herb for tea. It tastes great and it's calming too. I love to use fresh leaves, but I hope this plant will grow large enough to harvest and dry leaves too.

I think this is some type of agave, but I'm not sure. I tend to buy the cheapest ones in the supermarket plant section and they're usually not labeled.

These are cuttings I brought from my favorite plants in Holland. The top one is a Ficus Benjaminus (Weeping Fig), the one on the bottom a Schefflera Arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree). I thought they were doing well and took them out of their shared pots to get their own and then I found out none of them have roots. Still, they're growing and creating new leaves. Not sure what's happening here. I gave them a different type of potting ground and hope they will grow roots now.

Another medicinal plant: Aloe Vera. At least I know this one will survive here, though I'm not sure if it likes being in a pot.

I don't have to worry about these two either. Sansevieria's (snake plants) are very sturdy.  I had them in Holland too, but I bought these here.

Last, but not least: a pepper plant I grew from seeds. I have more outside (I'll show those later), but I decided to take one of the stronger plants and add it to the selection I keep inside, just to see what works better.

It is time we move to the new house though. There are so many more plants I want to buy, sow, or take cuttings from, but I wouldn't know where to put them...
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