Family Weekend

Aug 21

My brother and his younger daughter came in to town this weekend, and we spent Friday together making salsa. I taught them how to can. Like most things, it’s dead simple: be meticulously clean and follow directions.

Then my oldest sister arrived, and we all went to my favorite pizza joint for a local-ingredients-only pizza.

Saturday morning, I got my hair teased high and put on my prettiest summer dress. Then to church, where I witnessed my eldest nephew and his elegant bride as they promised to cherish each other for ever more.

Aren’t they a lovely couple? They led the fun at their reception, which was replete with a sweets bar (oh, the honeybees in this family loved it!) and a photo booth (I want one in my back yard).

Here I am, yukking it up with the groom’s dad, my oldest brother.

photo by our family photographer, Maureen.

Sunday morning, with the help of my oldest sister, I cooked up a brunch for 21. We had a laid-back time, enjoying the beautiful weather and each other. Family weekends are a rare, fabulous treat.

I’m happy that my nephew has embarked on a new adventure with a partner who seems just perfect for him.

What are you happy about this week?

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Little Pleasures

Apr 20

I spent last weekend in New York City. My Reading and Writing Center Peer Tutors presented their community service project at a regional panel, and they were terrific.

Being in New York was terrific, too. I stayed in the Lower East Side and enjoyed every second. I had a bit of time to wander about. When I peeked in the door of Bisous, Ciao, I couldn’t resist picking up some macarons. The jasmine green tea cookie was my favorite. While these macarons were not as good Laduree’s, they were still delightful.

My hotel was a short walk away from MZ Wallace, which allowed me to try on all of the bags that I’ve long admired online. A tiny bag–unusual for me–came home with me.

A bigger pleasure was going to see Seminar, starting Jeff Goldblum. It’s a smart play, one that MFA grads and academics will find humorous and maybe a little too true.

One of my favorite little pleasures over the weekend, though, was an egg and cheese on a roll from Amona Deli. Ever since I posted about NY egg sandwiches, I’ve been craving one. Amona’s was everything I’d wanted.

What little pleasures have you been enjoying?

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Hoppy Easter

Apr 08

My parents, one of my sisters, and her son joined us for a low-key Easter brunch today. My nephew picked violets for me (nice guy!) to decorate the Easter cake. Everyone has gone home, and before I tackle grading that must be done, I’m going to wander the yard and enjoy the array of dainty flowers blooming.

I hope you’ve had a beautiful day!

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Sweater Girls!

Mar 21

My ABQ SnB was filled with talented ladies, and I still miss our weekly meetings at The Flying Star in the North Valley.  Ramona is one of the fabu crafters I used to hang out with, and I’ve been admiring her Sweatergirls business since she and her partner Chris opened their doors…or hitched their trailer…two years ago. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ramona and Chris. Wait until you read about their business!

Sweatergirls, you bring LYS to a whole new level.  Can you explain the premise behind your business?

Ramona: One of the things I like best about our business is that we are not a typical LYS. We are not confined to a building, or rent, or paying utilities or specific working hours or a large shop inventory. We are both full-time moms who have the freedom to work when we want, with relatively low expenses.

Chris:  We are definitely not the normal yarn store.   We are a fusion of yarn store and teaching studio uniquely free of the problems associated with being shackled to a building.  In our mobile store we keep essential knitting supplies and yarn from small, independent vendors to accompany our classes.  We offer what a yarn store has but in a mobile venue. Bring knitting to the people!

How did you hatch the idea?  What came first, the trailer or the idea?

Ramona: The idea definitely came first. The original idea was to rent a small space somewhere, and just teach a variety of knitting classes. We realized pretty quickly that we just couldn’t afford the expenses that came with renting a space. Chris read an article in Mary Jane Farm’s magazine about Sisters On the Fly, a group of women who travel around in vintage trailers, and camp and fish together. So she brought up the idea of making us a mobile business. Then our friend Margo impulsively bid on, and bought a trailer Chris had showed her on Ebay. Margo traveled to Missouri one weekend with her family, and picked up the trailer, and brought it back to Albuquerque. She parked it in her front driveway for a couple of months until we could afford to buy it from her. I’m not sure there would be a SweaterGirls without Margo giving us that “big push”.

Chris: As Ramona described we were worried about brick and mortar cost and hours needed to invest to make a teaching studio work.  I had picked out the trailer but was unsure my business partners (we were three once upon a time) were ready to commit to a “crazy” idea.  Margo believed in it, and she can be described as a patron saint of the arts.  She didn’t want us to lose out of the opportunity and decided she didn’t have anything to lose other than a weekend spent camping in a Walmart parking lot.  She knew if we didn’t go ahead with it she could always sell a very cute trailer.  Don’t ask her about some vintage barber chairs she hasn’t been able to sell.

Tell me about some of your classes and your favorite locations.

Ramona: I love teaching classes outside at Albuquerque’s Downtown Grower’s Market and at the beautiful Los Poblanos Inn, and at our local yarn store. However, my favorite place is a little bakery called Cravin’ Cookies that is owned by a wonderful woman named Barbara. When we were just starting out and trying to find places to hold our classes, most business owners had a hard time understanding that we were a legitimate business. I’m sure we sounded crazy when we told people that we just wanted to park our vintage trailer in front of their place of business, and teach people how to knit. Barb was one of the first business owners that encouraged us and gave us a spot to teach.

I think my favorite class is still Beginning Knitting. I love to watch people get excited about knitting those first few garter stitch rows, and it doesn’t take long to pick out the students who will become the “knitting junkies”.

Chris: I would like to add that we had the opportunity to launch our business during Women in Creativity Month at the National Hispanic Cultural Center two years ago and that was a great place to get our feet wet.  They offered support for starting our business and gave us a radio spot and exposure all for free.  They are very supportive and promote local run women businesses.

What has been the biggest surprise for you?

Ramona: The biggest surprise for me was how much attention the trailer and Chris’ vintage Chevy truck attracts. You think knitters are obsessed, spend the day with people who love to restore these old trailers and trucks. We always joke that we would be rich women if we just started charging a fee to look inside the trailer and take pictures of the truck and trailer. I also love the stories people have about being a kid and traveling around in a trailer that “looked just like ours”. The question we are asked most is not about knitting but, “What year is the truck and what year is the trailer?” Sometimes I think we could be sitting in front of the trailer knitting naked and people would never notice. Well they might notice, but only because we are blocking their view of the trailer.

Chris:  We do get an amazing amount of attention for our whole “knitten rig”.  Sometimes we are not sure we are in a knitting business at all. We are surprised by what a challenge it is to fill our classes and motivate people to get off their couch and sign up for one of our sessions.  Also, our name gets us in trouble because they think we might be sexy and want to hire us for bachelor parties.

Ramona: Yes, sometimes we are known as the ‘SweatyGirls” or “SisterGirls” or the “DancingGirls”. People love to change our name around

What else do you do?

Ramona: I’m a full-time mom to Alexander and Isabella, and this year I started an etsy store called Thimbleful where I sell my embroidered jewelry.

Chris:  I’m also a full-time mom to three kids- Gabriel, Beatrice, and Oliver.  I have a baby headscarf business, BabyDews, that I honestly don’t spend enough time on since SweaterGirls started, and I sew and knit boutique accessories and clothing for the Downtown Grower’s market under the tag line See Apple.

Anything else to share?

We have a great time doing private parties teaching groups of ladies to knit or learn a new knitting technique.  We bring our teaching booklets and get everyone started and usually by the end of the evening everyone is knitting unless they drank too much.  This is something we just couldn’t do if we were a traditional store. SweaterGirls’ also provides individual private lessons, and we have recently started a monthly knitting group at los Poblanos Inn.

Thanks, Sweatergirls, for telling me all about the coolest LYS around!

Want to know more about the Sweatergirls? Visit their website, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter! Remember: if you’re visiting Albuquerque, look for the vintage trailer!

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Mar 19

Yesterday was my nephew Drew’s 18th birthday. I could wax nostalgic about time passing and what a dream baby he was and how much he means to me, but I don’t want to embarrass him any more than I probably have with my gushing post to his FaceBook wall.

I live too far away to celebrate with Drew in person, but I still did some celebrating. One of Neal’s best pals had a big number birthday last week. We put together a low-key gathering as a little surprise. I made cake and ice cream for it, and I’m still on a sugar buzz. I used my KitchenAid ice cream attachment for plain ol’ vanilla bean ice cream, and this recipe for chocolate cake and this recipe for really delish buttercream frosting.

And privately, I celebrated this.

What has you celebrating lately?

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Jan 28

Thanks for the birthday wishes for Tilly. She had a fun-filled day (I’m guessing) that ended with warm steak specially cooked for her. The dogs always get an add-on to their kibble. Most often, it’s chicken, though sometimes it is cheese or egg or yogurt. Steak is the special treat add on, and warm steak. Well, that puts the dogs into a bliss coma.

I used the random generator to select a winner, and Carole was lucky number 7! Congratulations! I can’t wait to see your Masala!


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