Crochet key keeper

Found a nifty little tutorial about how to make crochet baskets. So I made one, with a few tweaks. Mine’s shorter than the tutorial, but I didn’t need a tall basket to begin. I wanted to make a basket to set on the shelf we have by the front door. It’s so people can put their keys and phones in the little basket while they’re visiting so they don’t get lost. OK, so most people actually just put their keys and phone in their pockets or purse but you know what? I made the basket anyway. And it’s pretty awesome.

Crochet basket 1

I find it deeply amusing that despite my photography skillz I can’t get the color of the yarn to come out on camera as it truly looks in real life. The red yarn in this picture looks really red. Like fire engine red. It’s not! More of a muted deeper red. Ah, well. So it goes. The yarn I used is made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (and do you know how hard it can be to find U.S.-made yarn?) in Mitchell, Nebraska, which is 9 miles from where my grandparents live. The yarn is Brown Sheep Co., Inc.’s Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky. The colors I used are Red Wing and Grey Heather. It’s a very nice, thick yarn. Not super soft, but not scratchy either. Made a nice tight weave for the basket! (So tight that with this particular yarn my hands were beginning to ache when I wrapped this project up!)

WEB crochet basket 2

And here’s my keys demonstrating the purpose of the basket. I realize now that this also looks like a Maranda Lee advertisement, which it isn’t, but hey, if you’re looking for nifty Montana-made purses, diaper bags, and accessories, you could check out Maranda Lee’s stuff too. She’s got some pretty cute things!

If you’re looking for more crochet patterns and projects, might I suggest you browse over my crochet Pinterest board? Good ideas there, I promise!

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To the good life and back again

The Hubs and I went to Nebraska to visit family this past week and had a great time, though it sped by and I’m certainly not ready to be back at work! We stopped and spent time with my grandparents, then went on to his parents. The highlight of the trip for me was bottle feeding a calf I affectionately called “Burger” (a little morbid, I know). Burger’s mom had twins and rejected the poor little guy, so he’s getting raised on a bottle. He’s a greedy little pig and sucks down the bottle twice a day as fast as he can. Don’t think he even tastes it. Then he tries to suck off your fingers.

We’re buds. Can you tell?

We also visited Shawn’s sister and family about an hour away from where Shawn’s folks live. Had a great time bouncing around on a trampoline with my niece and nephew.

But it was a short trip and we didn’t even think to shoot many photos, so the vast majority are from the drive back.

Sunrise in western Nebraska, framed by a pivot.

Traffic jam in Lander, Wyoming.

I-80 was closed just outside Rawlins because of a nasty wreck, we think (saw lots of emergency vehicles and smoke, didn’t see the actual cause of the closure), so we had to take the long way home through Lander, Jackson and down into Idaho. But the upshot was getting to see some pretty country neither the Hubs nor I had ever seen.

The strange part for us was that around Lander it seemed like summer time and vaguely Arizona-like. By the time we reached Jackson, though, we were back to winter (even though it was the first day of spring yesterday!).

We wished there hadn’t been such a low cloud ceiling so we could see more of the Tetons as we drove past, but the view was still beautiful.

Oh, and we hit a major milestone yesterday in Darth Truffle, the mighty Honda Civic.

I’ve put 127,000 miles on my little car in the past 8 years. Yikes.

Also, I would like to note that as I was writing this post, four deer went tearing past the window. I’m in a building at the busiest intersection in town. Oh, Montana.

Thankful

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

This year, a number of friends have kept “thankfulness diaries” throughout the month of November, to remind themselves how blessed they are even when family and friends are unemployed, they are far from home and it’s cold outside. Despite our woes, personal and national, we as Americans have much to be thankful for.

So here’s my thankfulness diary. I hope your diary is as rich as mine!

Nov. 1 – I’m thankful for my God-given ability to write. I started writing a novel today.

Nov. 2 – I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can safely go to a polling place, cast my vote and know that no matter how small it seems, my vote matters.

Nov. 3 – I’m thankful for lectures at Glacier Discovery Square that inform me and others about community gardening. It helps us focus our plans.

Nov. 4 – I’m thankful for teachers in this community. The students in School District 6 are getting a great education despite budget cuts.

Nov. 5 – I’m thankful for people like Elly Jones, who commits her time to making beautiful quilts for people in need. Love and beauty are powerful healers.

Nov. 6 – I’m thankful I can enjoy breakfast with my husband in Butte at Great Harvest. Their biscuits and gravy are unequaled!

Nov. 7 – I’m thankful for quality time with my husband, who lives far away.

Nov. 8 – I’m thankful for people who attend school board meetings and speak their minds in defense of their children. I’m hopeful that those people will petition their elected officials to properly fund Montana schools and continue improving education.

Nov. 9 – I’m thankful for a thriving business community in Columbia Falls.

Nov. 10 – I’m thankful for lunch with a very good friend with whom I can talk about work, good books and good food.

Nov. 11 – I’m thankful for veterans like Jesse Mann, who served his country in Iraq and sacrificed watching one of his daughters change from a baby into a little person so that I can write these words without fear.

Nov. 12 – I’m thankful for sunset over the Columbia River in Washington.

Nov. 13 – I’m thankful for a friend’s hospitality and the chance to visit Seattle for the first time. I’m thankful for the color and excitement of Pike Place Market, for thought-provoking art at the Seattle Art Museum and for a Nebraska Cornhusker bar in a Seattle suburb.

Nov. 14 – I’m thankful for hot coffee and a long drive with my husband. We love driving together because we spend the time chatting, enjoying the scenery and reading to each other from our favorite magazines.

Nov. 15 – I’m thankful for early birthday wishes from old friends.

Nov. 16 – I’m thankful for 25 wonderful years on this earth. Here’s to many more!

Nov. 17 – I’m thankful for a church that trusts me with its junior high youth. I can’t wait for many more fun youth group gatherings to come.

Nov. 18 – I’m thankful for the kindness of people in this community. I’m thankful for churchwomen who make me a quilt for a wedding present. I’m thankful for a guided snowshoe trip and “winter getaway” trip from a West Glacier resort as a wedding present.

Nov. 19 – I’m thankful for a husband who cooks me a delicious birthday dinner of deer filet, from a deer he shot himself.

Nov. 20 – I’m thankful for a fabulous group of friends who I can join for dinner, drinks and conversation, followed by a celebration of November birthdays.

Nov. 21 – I’m thankful for a church community committed to the wellbeing of its members.

Nov. 22 – I’m thankful for a warm apartment filled with the smells of a good supper and the company of two lovely kitties.

Nov. 23 – I’m thankful for my brother Josh, who turns 10 years old today! I’m also thankful for one month of being happily married.

Nov. 24 – I’m thankful for the anticipation of a potluck Thanksgiving with friends tomorrow.

(Thanks Pottery Barn for the image … I wish I could spend lots of money at your store!)

Finding forever in a song

I had the good fortune to spend the past weekend in Lincoln, Neb. for a friend’s wedding. When not playing the role of dutiful bridesmaid, I was able to get some last minute wedding plans secured with my fiance, Shawn.

Bright and early Friday morning we sampled wedding cake. The chocolate — I was sure I’d be getting the chocolate — was disappointing and tasted a bit like moist cardboard. The pink champagne flavor induced tooth aches. But the almond flavor was just right.

Flowers have been finalized. Sunflowers, orange solidago, red hypernicum berries and chrysanthemum will provide the splashes of color at our otherwise black-and-white affair.

Image from http://flowersvegfruit.co.uk/

Got the marriage license. Alarm bells didn’t start ringing on the state of Nebraska computer alerting everyone in the building that my fiance and I are cousins — we’re not, but after hearing a horror story to that effect, I admit I was just a teensy bit worried.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend (other than the beautiful wedding Shawn and I attended) lasted just a few minutes in the santuary of the church where we will be married.

Shawn and I walked into St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Lincoln and it felt like coming home. It’s a grand old church with beautiful, two-story stained glass windows. It’s the church we attended while living in Lincoln.

The wooden pews sat silently empty, uniformly facing the altar, as if in eternal, crouched worship. The sunlight streamed through the windows to illuminate the sanctuary with gentle light. We spoke quietly, our voices ringing off the stone walls.

We met with John, the man who plays organ at St. Paul. He treated us to a short concert to prepare the music for our wedding. I’d never seen an organ played so close before and I was transfixed.

John’s fingers nimbly leapt from keyboard to keyboard to keyboard. He pulled on knobs and pushed buttons to alter the sound, I think. His feet moved in a neat, practiced jig on the pedals that control the deep-voiced pipes. The former silence was broken by the surge of sound. It swirled about the pews and rose to the ceiling.

Then John played “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy on the piano, the song to which the bridal party and yours truly will promenade down the aisle. Many people recognize it as the song that plays while the fountains dance in “Ocean’s Eleven.”

As John played, I let my eyes wander about the church, filled with a moment’s fantasy. I watched the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle. Then I watched myself walk with my father down the aisle.

My ears filled with song. My heart swelled with this glimpse into forever.