Marsha Knits

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Name: Marsha Brofka-Berends
Location: US

Marsha knits . . . and reads and cooks and edits and gardens and hikes and thinks and eats and photographs and sings and writes and travels and plans and hopes and . . .

06 May 2007

Birthday baby

It's been a busy week here, with preparations for Sylvia's second birthday underway. Her Opa (Jan's father) arrived from the Netherlands a little over a week ago, and my parents arrived from Illinois two days ago, so we have a full house. The festivities began two days ago, on Friday, when Sylvia's playgroup gathered here. We meet weekly, rotation among our homes and local parks, and this week's meeting took place two days before her birthday. To celebrate the occasion--and provide some massively geeky entertainment for five toddlers--Jan and I built a castle in our backyard, using giant cardboard boxes and plastic rivets designed for this purpose. With two parents as geeky as Jan and me, Sylvia doesn't stand a chance: geekdom is definitely in her future. Her cardboard bridge even had a drawbridge, for crying out loud. Her actual birthday party was yesterday, since that worked out best for my brother, whose crazy work schedule gives him limited time off. We started the day by attending the annual spring festival at a local county park that's a 300-acre historic working farm. Here's the tenuous connection to knitting: the festival is called Sheep and Wool Day, and on this day the farm's eight sheep lose their winter coats. Pieces of freshly shorn wool are handed out to the kids. It's interesting to think about how this dirty, gray, ball of rough hair can be transformed into fine yarn. Back at home, we did the presents-and-cake thing, with three grandparents, one uncle, and two close (adult) friends in attendance. Sylvia was thrilled by all of the attention, and loved the "cheetah" cake that Jan made for her. (She is really into cheetahs and sleeps with a stuffed cheetah every night.) It was a chocolate butter cake with raspberry buttercream, covered with orange-tinted marzipan and black icing "cheetah spots." Delicious! Today, Sylvia's actual birthday, was fairly low-key, since we just had two days of celebration. But we did do something special today nonetheless: a trip to a local dairy farm and ice creamery, for some yummy scoops of freshly made ice cream. Ahhh!

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26 April 2007

A very, very large FO

The living room is finished. The living room is finished. Whew! As promised, here is a photo of it. We got our paint from Sherwin-Williams. For other painting projects, we'd used Behr, but this time we decided to throw down for some really good stuff (this is, technically, the "showpiece" room of the house) and get some much-needed advice from People Who Do Know Squat About Paint. Yes, it cost a bit more than Behr, but wow, it was really worth it. This stuff went on the walls so easily and smoothly. Even our friend Gina, who has loads of experience with painting projects and helped us with this one, was impressed with it. On the walls is Restrained Gold (probably the only color in the universe that goes with our furnishings, which are all from different color groups), in the Cashmere paint line, in a flat finish. It's not completely flat--when you look at it from an angle, it has a slight sheen--but it's nowhere near an eggshell finish. Unlike most flat finish paints out there, this stuff can be touched. That feature was pretty essential to us, since we don't want to spend the next several years telling our child "Don't touch the walls." 'Cause you know what? The walls will be touched. For the trim we used Alabaster (a white with a slightly reddish-gold tint, if you can imagine that), and the ceiling has plain old ceiling white on it. The room isn't 100% finished: we haven't hung anything on the walls yet. We have a giant mirror (a five-dollar buy at a yard sale last spring) that will probably go above the piano after we sand and restain the wooded frame. We're going to wait a little while before hanging any art, though, to give ourselves time to live in the room a bit and see how it feels. So here's a curtain question for you: what should we do with the windows? In the past, we had dark red floor-length drapes that we hated. (But they were left by the previous owners, and free is a very good price to pay for drapes--especially in a room that you're planning to redo soon anyway.) We never closed them, though, preferring the natural light and airiness of open windows. Let me say this up front: venetian blinds (vertical or horizontal, metal or cloth) are not options. I think wooden blinds or shutters would be too "heavy" for this room. I'm sort of inclined to go with a short curtain, something like a little longer than the windows themselves. But isn't there some "rule" about how "formal" rooms are supposed to have floor-length curtains? I don't have anything against floor-length curtains per se, but I think they'd end up getting stuck behind the table-chair arrangement on one side of the window. And I have two cats, so the bottom three feet of long curtains would be covered in cat hair in no time at all. So...any suggestions, anyone? Finally, I want to point out one of the things in this room that gives me the most joy. This desk (a new IKEA purchase, as are the two glass-fronted bookcases flanking the piano) is what we've nicknamed "the dumping ground." You know how you come in the door and your stuff just ends up in places--cell phones (and chargers) all over the kitchen counters, briefcases and purses and diaper bags all over the hallway? We decided to have a space dedicated to corralling this stuff. We don't have a proper foyer, so we put this space just inside the living room, right around a short wall from the front door. The large compartment of the secretary desk is where we put briefcases, diaper bags, and purses. The shelves above it give us extra storage for stuff we don't need out all the time but still want accessible: camera bag, camcorder, external hard drive (back up your data regularly, people!). The bottom shelf is my favorite part: courtesy of an eight-slot surge protector, it's the charging station for cellphones, camera batteries, wireless computer mice (yes, we are geeks), and other such gadgets. Everything has a place to go now, and when the doors are closed it's all hidden. I love it.

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