Friday, 30 September 2011

How I Became a Knitter: An Ode to My Eight Year Old Self

When I was about 8 years old my mother taught me how to knit. She started me with a scarf and I feverishly worked away in garter stitch with a blue acrylic yarn and plastic needles. I was dedicated, and that’s saying a lot for a child with a wandering attention span. When the scarf was finally completed it had giant holes in it and was about 2 times longer at one end than the other. I decided this knitting thing was a total frustrating waste of time and then threw away the needles. 

Over the years my Mom and Nan tried to get me back into knitting. We tried another scarf. Same result. We tried squares. I was bored. Dishcloths. Bored. They finally gave up and decided that it just wasn't for me.

Then when I was in university, the knitting fad hit my university residence. A bunch of girls from my dorm started working on projects so I went out and bought better yarn and learned how to purl. Again, my project of choice was a scarf. My mom had hope, and praised me for my ability to knit about 2 inches without a major mistake. I knit about 1/3 of its length and then got distracted by exams and the politics of spring formal so the project got stuck in a drawer and later tossed out in my end of semester purge. 

In the spring of 2010, E&L began helping some blind women do fiber crafts as our workplace. At this time they decided to learn how to crochet. I got hooked, so to speak. The three of us took a class and my love of using a hook and needles really began to take shape. By the end of the first class I had gone from indifference to obsession: making piles of granny squares and star dishcloths. It took a while to get me back into knitting; I was still traumatized from the first disappointing scarf 20 years ago. But E gently coaxed me back into it with a basic flat-knit hat in a rib pattern and showed me how to correct mistakes.

One hat turned into two, then three, then the yarn started breeding in my apartment. As I grew more confident, I started taking classes. I learned to knit on circulars, knit on dpns, how to make cables, colourwork. I was (and still am) addicted with learning as many techniques as possible. I knit a cowl, socks, and finally was bold enough to knit another scarf. When the scarf was finished and the two ends were the same width, I knew I was a knitter. I started ditching the acrylic yarn and started on the good stuff. Merino, silk, angora, cashmere, and then I discovered alpaca. Ah, alpaca. My first true fiber love.  Now I am unstoppable. Really. I know that E, L, L and my guy have considered an intervention. 

My first scarf that was the same size at both ends! This is a dropped stitch pattern with Wooly Bully yarn. 

My mom is always shocked when she sees my finished projects. She can't believe that that child who was so annoyed by that scarf in 1991 has become an obsessional knitter. As I sat by the Christmas tree last year, tongue sticking out, teaching my self how to make a cabled cowl, she just shook her head. Now I am the one trying to teach her new techniques and she gets irked and goes back to making dishcloths. Oh, the irony. 

My short attention span has not really improved that much over the years, and just like my 8-year old self I have about 10 projects on the go at anytime. Every now and again I get super frustrated with myself and have a weekend of finishing and all of a sudden I have 5 finished projects that have been sitting in the WIP (work in progress) bin for months.

Unfortunately, this is not one of these times… A recap of my WIPs

1. A thrummed mitten KAL (knit-a-long) that I am working on with E
2 & 3. A baby vest in need of seaming, and a baby sweater in need of sleeves
4 & 5. Two shawls. One that I started in July, the other is my Citron that I have talked about before on the blog.
6. My grandmother’s birthday socks (her birthday was Sept 23)
7. A monster of my own design for my office.
8. Beaded napkin rings made from knitted wire.
9.  A beaded cowl for my grandmother (K’s mom) for Christmas
10. A sweater for my mom that I started in April.

Plus, two cowls in need of buttons and a baby sweater and snuggle sack needing their ends weaved in.

Now one would think, after committing that list to paper, I would be horrified with myself and would want to finish something. I would pull out the needle and start weaving in ends. I would block something. I would finish poor Nan’s birthday socks so her feet aren’t cold. That would be the sensible thing to do. The practical thing would not be to get out the swift, wind a ball of Dream in Colour Classy and cast on baby socks. That would just be silly.

Making these with my favourite Dream in Colour Classy. 

Err…. Yeah…. So how is your day?


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Birthday Blog

Well another birthday has come and gone. I have a love-hate relationship with my birthday, so this year I decided to go small and have a quiet dinner party at our place with just my closest family and friends in attendance. My mom and K were amazing and came to our place during the day when we were at work and decorated and cooked a delicious dinner. K also fulfilled my birthday wish of a yarn swift and he built this one himself... yesterday! What a guy. I was totally impressed, surprised and excited and set to work right away on winding some skeins to test it out!
Kevin checks out his handiwork while I wind away. 

I got really excited and needed to wind a lot of yarn! 
Much to the chagrin of the other party guests I wound 5 balls of yarn before dinner. What a party animal I am.
(Clockwise from top: Turtle purls yarn, Malabrigo worsted, Malabrigo Rios, Misti Alpaca Baby Me Boo, Waterloo Wools Huron Worsted)  
While I was winding, my mom had put together an incredible feast. I am almost ashamed to show you a picture of the copious amount of food on my dinner plate, but hey it was my birthday and it is too delicious not to share.

Clockwise from top left: Roast beef, roasted carrots, onions and shallots from mom and Kev's garden, Mom's famous Cesar Salad, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and broccoli (had to get something healthy on the plate!)  
During dinner Lola decided to entertain us with a show. We had set up a small table to put extra dishes on next to the table, but she decided that it was the perfect perch from which to watch the action and try to sneak a taste of dinner by being adorable. This series of pics was too cute not to share. 

While dinner was digesting I was showered with amazing gifts from the special people in my life. My three besties were present and L promised me a road trip to an American yarn festival of my choice and E&L got me lots of goodies including a cool Table Saw to cut cake with and Skull and Crossbones ice cube trays from one of my favourite companies Fred, a cupcake pen to dole out perfect blobs of cupcake batter, and gift cards to 2 of my favourite places: Starbucks and The Purple Purl. It should also be noted that E showed up to work today with a very cool Starbucks to-go cup with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pure heaven! In addition to the yarn swift, Mom and K got me a great set of pyrex nesting bowls that I collect, and a gorgeous mixed media art-piece that my mom got at an auction. I need to do some research on the artist and I imagine that will be the subject of its own post because it is a beautiful piece of art that I am thrilled to have as part of my collection. Nan kept me in yarn money.

My guy struck gold with his gift when he bought me this amazing hand-crafted yarn bowl. He had a sure winner by combining two of my favourite things: owls and knitting. All of this equals one very spoiled birthday girl. 
My owl yarn bowl that my guy found on etsy from Little Pig Pottery
Finally it was time for cake. Since Nan's birthday is only a few days away she helped me blow out the candles. This cake is incredible. Buttermilk cake, layered with frosting and peach jam with fresh peaches on the side. If anyone wants a slice there is still half a cake in my fridge. 

My delicious cake, made by the best baker around, my mom. 

Nan and I blow out the candles.

About to dive in with my Table Saw. 
All and all it was a wonderful birthday evening. Thanks to all of those who shared it with me. 

Before I go to bed to sleep off the excess, one last story and present that really touched me today. The story is this: My mom is a nurse and she works at a long-term care facility. She had often told me about the group of knitting ladies that meet regularly to knit at the home. Unfortunately, some of the women who knit here do not have a lot of money for yarn, and some will even knit a project and then tear it out so that they can reuse the wool. This story made me incredibly upset because I can completely understand the drive to knit and the therapeutic benefits that it can have for people. I decided that I would clean out my stash and send a bunch of yarn to the knitting club. This has continued for months now, ever few weeks I send some new yarn for the ladies. They have sent me gifts back every now and then: pairs of handmade socks, a lovely necklace. I tell my mom that they don't need to send me anything, but they are insistent, so we have had this lovely long distance craft barter going on, even though we have never met. When I came home from work today one of my gifts was wrapped in a beautiful knitted ripple blanket that the ladies made for me. I am so touched and grateful for this gift.

Now to sleep...


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mid-week Comfort Food

Well it's Wednesday. This has felt like a painfully long week at work so we had a mid-week comfort food feast tonight. My mom and step-dad were visiting so my Mom made supper for my guy, two of my best friends E&L and myself. That is comforting in itself, but to make it even more soothing the menu was Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. How can you get better than that?

Not just any grilled cheese and tomato soup mind you. Grilled cheese with old cheddar, prosciutto and red onion from my folks' garden. Yummy!

Crispy on the outside and melty and cheesy on the inside. Mmmm.

The soup is Cream of Roasted Tomato from my absolute favourite cookbook 300 Sensational Soups. If you love soup this is a must have book. The book is affordable, the recipes are easy and most of all they are delicious! They are also very easy to make and usually make enough to feed 4-6 so you have enough for your family, or leftovers. All of the soups I have tried have also frozen really well. For this version my mom roasted cherry and heirloom tomatoes from her garden. Mix that with the classic combo of onion, garlic and herbs and yum!! We also substitute milk for the whipping cream to reduce the fat content.

Fresh Roasted Tomato Soup

After everyone left tonight, my guy settled in to watch the season finale of his favourite show (Deadliest Warrior - Vampires vs. Zombies... seriously?) and I decided to bake these incredible Banana Chocolate Chip Nutella muffins that I found on the blog Daily Unadventures in Cooking (click the link for the recipe). As I write this they are cooling on the rack and I can't wait to take a bite!

My trusty KitchenAid mixer. One of the best gifts ever!

Garfield guards the cooling muffins. 
The nutella gives these a lovely brown colour.

Who can wait until breakfast? 

Another hour of sock knitting and I'm off to bed. Two days until K's birthday and I am on the foot of the second sock. Almost there!


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Yarnapolooza 2011, Or 12 skeins of yarn, 4 brand new patterns, and a partridge in a pear tree

It's been an interesting week. Between the new job, working on two contract projects, and the challenges of returning to work full time there wasn't much that could inspire me to get out of bed before noon this Saturday. But it just so happened that today was the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair and if there is anything that can get me out of bed it is the promise of yarn. And maybe bacon.

Yarnapolooza is the name that one of my friends gave to this event because there is yarn, yarn everywhere! I had a set amount of money in my purse and I spent (almost) every penny. I wanted to stick to local dyers and support smaller companies so I tried to spend the majority of my money on local products.

Lola is very confident that I bought this yarn for her amusement.
My first and most pricey stop was the Tanis Fiber Arts booth. I went with the intention of picking up her new Adelia Pattern with a couple of skeins. For this I bought the Purple Label Fingering weight, a yummy combination of merino and cashmere in Plum and Sand colourways. I then found the "One of a Kind Bin" and I couldn't resist picking up a blue and red multi skein. I have the My Vampire Boyfriend socks in mind for the red and a baby sweater in the blue. 

Tanis yarns, from left to right: plum, sand, and 2 one-of-a-kind skeins

Next stop was the Feather My Nest Booth, a LYS from Sarnia, ON. Here I bought a kit to make a linen stitch scarf. The yarn accompanying it was Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. Not a Canadian yarn but from Chicago, where we just got home from! This pattern seemed to be popular at the fair this year and I saw kits at more than one booth. Linen stitch is very interesting as the finished project looks woven, not knitted. Looking forward to casting this one on soon.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in 3 colours:  Huron, Envy & Franklin's Panopticon  (L-R)

Another non-Canadian yarn, but I couldn't resist the prices that the Busy Hands booth has on one of my favourite yarns, Malabrigo.

Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras, and Malabrigo Sock in Caribeno.

Waterloo Wools is another local dyer that has really great yarn. I bought this bright orange yarn and the Kaie Beanie pattern to make hat for my Dad for Christmas. He loves Orange.

Waterloo Wools Huron Worsted Weight in Persimmon.
Another gift for my Dad, I couldn't resist this bright orange and black sock year from Manspun yarns (based out of somewhere in Ontario).  Touted as the yarn of manliness, this colour: Harley Compatible.

Love the Harley influence in this manly sock yarn. 
So I was all done shopping, but then I came across the Indigo Dragonfly booth. When I saw this yarn called "Zombie Grover eats a Cookie", how could I resist! Another great Canadian company from Halliburton HIlls.

Love the colours in this uniquely named yarn!
The only other thing I bought was an awesome pattern for this family of zombie dolls from Joey's House. Zombert, Zombella and Zombot the pet! I took this picture on my phone at the Shall We Knit? booth. Can't wait to make these critters to add to our knitted collection of oddities at home. 

Well I'm now broke and exhausted. Off to reorganize my stash and take a nap!


PS. Super big thanks to one of my bff's L, who drove me out to the fair and enables my yarn addiction. Love ya!

Friday, 9 September 2011

September Sock Knitting

September is a big birthday month in my family; we have 6 birthdays this month and one on October 1st. This means I am very busy knitting at the moment trying to get presents completed on time. The big birthdays (other than mine :P) are my step-dad and my grandmother’s. I had big plans for knitting this year, but due to my ever-narrowing time constraints they are only getting one knitted gift each. It just so happens that both of them have developed a taste for hand knitted socks ever since I learned about a year ago. Now for every special occasion that is what they request. My grandmother likes fuzzy ankle socks for wearing around the house and K, my step-father, likes the full sock, as long as it is warm and non-scratchy.

I picked out the yarn a while ago and have been slowly plodding away. For K, I chose a very cool yarn called ONline Supersocke 100 Butterfly Color that is patterned to look like butterfly wings. These were an awesome find in the bargain basement of one of my favourite LYS, Romni Wool. Being a nature guy, I know that he will get a kick out of these. I really like the way the patterning of the yarn has come along. I am finished the first sock, but I have a whole other sock to go and only 1 week to knit it! I cast on last night and then promptly fell asleep – this full time work thing is really getting in the way of my knitting schedule.  

Butterfly sock!
For my grandmother, I let her choose the wool from my stash and she immediately gravitated to the Mesa colourway of Chroma worsted. I have made her socks from this before and they are so scrumptious and soft. Again, I have one sock completed that I made in Chicago, and another to go. These aren’t such a big deal because they have a very short leg and are made of a much thicker yarn. 2 weeks until her birthday.

A cozy ankle sock out of Chroma Worsted

I always have about 5+ projects on the needles and I am dying to finish these socks so I can go back to a project intended for myself, Citron by Hillary Smith Callis. I am making this out of one of my favourite yarns Dream in Colour Starry in the Deep Seaflower colourway. I rarely make items that I end up keeping so I would really like to get this done for the cool fall days ahead.

Such pretty sparkly yarn!

One last thing before I leave you, I came across this article from the guardian that I thought was really awesome. It's about Joe Strummer's daughter, Jazz Domino Holly and her new book about crafting. I have put this on my amazon wishlist! 

My favourite quote from her: “Crafting is the perfect antidote to cookie-cutter mass-production, and gives us a means of expressing not only our individuality but also our originality in a handmade rebellion against passive consumption.”

I love this because it is so true! The reason I craft and knit is for just that reason. In an ever modern world there is so much focus on consumption of things that are easily acquired and that are essentially all the same. When I knit something it takes time and contemplation, and every item is distinct. I've yet to meet a knitter that doesn't make mistakes! Just like the people who knit and receive their craft, it is the imperfections that make something unique. 

Happy Knitting, 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Changing of the seasons

There always seems to be the most spectacular sunsets in fall and early winter where we live. We were treated to a gorgeous pink sky sunset a couple of nights ago, which to me signifies the changing of the seasons. I for one love fall, and can't wait to break out sweaters for the crisp autumn days and bulkier yarns for quick knits. This will be the fall & winter I finish my mom's "spring" sweater and make myself a cardigan!

In the meantime, here are the photos from our balcony. 


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Home from the Windy City

It has been a while since my last post, partly because I was finishing up end of term marking and then my guy and I went on vacation to Chicago for a few days before I started back at work. Yesterday was my first day back at full-time, go-to-the-office-everyday work in about 2 years. Between getting my master’s degree, working part-time and work at home jobs it’s been a whirlwind couple of years. So trust me when I say getting up early in the morning, wearing “work clothes” and packing a lunch has been quite the shock to the system. It’s a slow start to the new job but I know it is going to pick up soon, so I am trying to ease myself back into the “real world”.

Onto pleasanter things, the guy and I had a great time in Chicago. He’s not accustomed to going on “vacation” so it was a nice treat for us to go away for a few days away from all the stress that has been happening on the home front lately. I have wanted to visit ever since reading Erik Larson's book, Devil in the White City. We stayed downtown Chicago for 4 days and had a wonderful time sightseeing around the city, going to museums, shopping and doing otherwise touristy things. I even got to go to a wonderful yarn shop called Loopy Yarns. I could have spent all day browsing here, but I behaved myself and only picked up a few things that they had on sale, partly because the suitcase was already very full and partly because the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitting Fair is this upcoming weekend (squee with excitement!). 

My small stash from Loopy Yarns: A cute pouch for knitting notions, a very cool German sounding sock yarn meant to be knit 2 at a time, and a Malabrigo silky merino in the lettuce colourway

Interspersed with pictures, here are 10 things I discovered about Chicago:

1) The Museum of Science and Industry is not only cool because it is housed in one of the few remaining buildings from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, but is also a place where you can run on a human hamster wheel, see baby chicks hatch, check out the Apollo 8 command module and witness and indoor tornado. I definitely channeled my inner child and got really excited about getting to sit in a big John Deere tractor. I’m about as “city” as they come, but for some reason this really thrilled me.  My other favourite thing was Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, a huge dollhouse that was constructed by the silent film star Moore in the late 1920’s. The dollhouse contains real artifacts, gemstones and tiny furniture all inspired by various fairytales (it even has a secret treasure room for Ali Baba!). Even the guy couldn’t help but be impressed by the detail in the castle.

Awesome stuffed toys in the gift shop: sun, earth and moon. The shopkeep must have thought the guy and I were total nerds as we giddily rotated them around each other in the store. 

I had a lot of fun with the shadow screens, in which you can manipulate the video feed by using your body's shadow. 

A baby chick that I watched hatch moments before this picture. Her shell remnants are off to the left side as she takes her first breaths. 

The guy runs on the human hamster wheel. He was very proud that he got up to 10 miles and hour. 

2) The “El” (elevated trains, part of Chicago’s public transportation system) is slightly terrifying. Especially for a gal afraid of heights and going at a brisk speed. Seriously. Scary. I remember seeing the El on ER many years ago and thinking, “that looks a bit frightening”. And it was. The guy thought I had officially lost my marbles as I clung to him with a look of terror on my face as we went about 5 miles an hour saying "We're going to plummet to our death!". I’m not proud of it.

Entrance to the dreaded El train. This was one of the more rickety stations. I have rendered these photos in black and white to signify my fright.
The El heads over a bridge. Notice the absence of side rails. This shot really reminds me of Gotham City (Chicago was the scene for Gotham in The Dark Knight)

3) When it comes to fireworks, American’s do it right. We went to Wednesday showing of the twice-weekly fireworks at Navy Pier and it was outstanding. By far the most impressive firework display I’ve seen. On Navy Pier we also browsed at the shops and checked out the small section of old-school rides: a carousel, tilt-a-whirl, and Ferris wheel. All lit up at night, they were truly magical. Another interesting Chicago fact is that the first Ferris wheel in the world was built here for the World’s Fair in 1893. According to my friend Wikipedia, this first wheel was 80.4 meters tall and could seat 2,160 passengers. What a sight that must have been in the 19th century!

Gold raining from the sky
Green lightning! 
The park on Navy Pier featuring the Ferris Wheel
Lonely horses waiting for riders
The tilt-a-whirl in action

4) The architecture in Chicago is truly awe-inspiring and reflects the changes in this infamous city over the years. On our last morning we went on a river cruise put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Over this 90-minute cruise a docent told us all about the styles of architecture in Chicago and we saw some of the iconic buildings from the water. I am not known to be a lover of boats, but paradoxically I do love being on the water so its a risk I often take. This was a lovely cruise and despite the heat and inevitable sunburn I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the architectural details of the Chicago skyline. One of the things we did not have time for was to see a Frank Lloyd Wright building, so if we ever go back that will be my first stop. Ever since I read the book Loving Frank by Nancy Horan and saw the retrospective of his work at the Guggenheim a couple of years ago I have been fascinated with his work.

A view up the Trump Tower. The dark lines that encircle the building are at strategic points the mimic the height of surrounding iconic buildings. 

Chicago skyline from the river. 

Look up, look way up! I can't remember the name of this particular building, but this circular style of skyscraper really caught my eye. 

Prarie-style architecture that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright.

A view of the skyline at the other side of the river, showing the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Stock Exchange Building. 

The Civic Opera House on the right with other skyscrapers in the background. 

Loved this gothic style architecture on the Tribune Building. 
5) The impressionist collection at the Chicago Art Institute IS all its cracked up to be. I was most excited to see Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, or as I called it as a child "Sunday in the Park with George" (after the Sondheim musical). My grandmother had a print hanging of this in my childhood bedroom and I remember staring at it with wonder. I loved the lady walking with her monkey and the clothes worn by its subjects. I marvelled at how this image was really made up of tiny dots. I didn't know that this work was in the CAI collection so when we turned to corner and saw it tears welled up. Its truly impressive in person and the size of it astonished me. Other highlights were Van Gogh's The Bedroom,  and the Renoir and Monet Collections. Outside of the Impressionist galleries, the CAI did not disappoint with icons like American Gothic and a couple of gorgeous Rothko and Pollocks. The guy loved the Arms and Armour collection as well. But my favourite stop was the Chagall stained-glass windows. I could have stared at them all day. Chagall's use of colour always smacks me in the emotion centre of my brain. Love it. 

One of the three panels for Chagall's stained glass windows.

A close-up of one of Monet's Water lilies

Van Gogh's The Bedroom 

A crowd clustered in front of Seurat's, Sunday in the Park. Can anyone else spot the accessibility problem here?

As the guy looked at the armour collection I got creative with the camera and lighting effects to make these time-travelling knights. 

A noble steed charges into the future.

6) Chicago is a city dedicated to public art. I can't remember the figure off the top of my head but on our architecture tour the guide told us that a penny for every x amount of development money must go to public art. My favourite public sculpture that we saw was the iconic "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park. The park was full of many other neat installations, and there were more at Navy Pier and scattered throughout the city. I wish that we would have had time to explore them all.

The Cloud Gate, known to locals as the "bean"

The skyline reflected in the Cloud Gate

Inside Cloud Gate

A public art installation/water park in Millennium Park. Water would squirt out of their mouths from time to time. 

A 26 foot tall sculpture of Marilyn in her iconic pose from The 7 Year Itch. 

7) The Shedd Aquarium is the home to Granddad, an Australian lungfish that is reportedly 86+ years old. He was acquired by the aquarium for the 1933 Expo! He looks like a sunken log. In addition to granddad, the aquarium is home to over 25,000 fish from around the world. I visited my first aquarium, the Boston aquarium, when I was about 7 years old and have loved visiting them ever since. I love being in the water and the mysteries of the deep both fascinate and terrify me. The aquarium also had a special exhibit on Jellyfish which we both really enjoyed.

View of the city from the aquarium over lake Michigan.

A jelly undulates across its tank.

From the size of those brains, these fish must be destined to take over the world. 

A variety of corals.

Tiny sea snakes pop their heads out of the sand.

Think these are all corals. Look again. 

I couldn't resist a Finding Nemo reference. 

8) Chicago is beautiful lit up at night. I love night photography and getting another perspective of a place once the sun goes down. Chicago did not disappoint. We stayed to the main strips in the evenings (Magnificent Mile, Michigan Ave, and Navy Pier), and enjoyed people watching and seeing the buildings all lit up.

Michigan Avenue bridge at night. 

A night time view of the Chicago River. 

The view of the city from Navy Pier at night. 

9) Chicago is home to Sue, the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found. She lives at the Field Museum, where there is also an incredible jade and gem collection, and Egyptian tomb, a Fossil Prep lab and other fun exhibits aimed at kids and adults alike. I loved that the exhibit curators have a sense of humour and the written descriptions and illustrations of the exhibits made me chuckle more than once.

Rawr! Meet Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Gotta love the illustration on the left. 

An amber pendant with a bug preserved inside. Jurassic Park anyone?

Inside the Maori Meeting House.

The Grainger Hall of Gems includes this beautiful Tiffany stained glass window. 

An opal sun broach.

Yes, please! My birthday is just around the corner. 

10) My guy and I are geeks no matter where we go.