Snowy Boston

The view from the hotel window The view from the hotel window The view from the hotel window The view from the hotel window The view from the hotel window. The view from the hotel window. The view from the hotel window. The view from the hotel window. The view from the hotel window. The view from the hotel window down the hall. 2015 44/365 The view from the hotel window down the hall. The view from the hotel window down the hall. The view from the hotel window. 2015 45/365 The view from the hotel window.We spent a weekend in Boston last month, enjoying an extra day there courtesy of a well-timed blizzard. I took a bunch of pictures from our hotel room on the 8th floor, and then I went down the hall and took some more from a different vantage point. Mostly I used my 35mm lens (which is the one I use 90% of the time at home, too) but I also played with my 70mm-200mm zoom lens and got in nice and close to some of the city buildings.

I may have gotten the mms wrong on that zoom lens, but it’s all the way downstairs, and I am up in my bedroom listening to Toad the Wet Sprocket and sitting on my fluffy down comforter, and I’m not leaving my cozy spot just for the sake of a little fact-checking. If it’s not 70-200, it’s pretty close to that.

Also, it appears I have a hair or some kind of smudge on my lens. I wonder how long that’s been there?

I’m sharing these images for two reasons:

  1. They’re nice, and I’ve been meaning to post them for a few weeks
  2. My new blog design supports much larger images, and I am eager to see how that looks in action.

Speaking of that new blog design, I’ve already (almost) gotten it where I want it. Since last night when I first unleashed it on you, I’ve made all of the aesthetic changes I have wanted to make, and I’ve fixed the Downloads Shop so that you can order from a mobile browser. Really, the only thing left to do is make the Handmades shop work, but that is going to be somewhat trickier. I need a few days to think on that before I spring into action.

After you’re finished reading here, I hope you’ll consider poking around and seeing if you find anything that looks wonky or doesn’t work properly. Use your laptop, your tablet, your mobile phone – whatever! They should all work.

If you find something weird, please do leave a comment here, or contact me off the blog. For that matter, even if you don’t find something weird, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Enjoy the snowy Boston pictures. Here in NJ we are expecting another storm to roll in tonight. I won’t be surprised if we have a snow day tomorrow. It’s all getting a bit old, but at least it’s pretty when it’s falling if you have nowhere to be.

If we’re all holed up here tomorrow, I think I’ll make cookies.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

More snow.

It snowed again today. Is anyone surprised by this anymore?

You may have noticed things look a little bit different today on the blog. You might also have noticed that some things are broken.

Yeah, I’m making sweeeeping changes, and here’s why.

I did the last major upgrade to this blog in 2008. I found a WordPress theme I liked, modified it to look like I wanted it to look, and I’ve been changing the daylights out of it ever since.

I was still pretty happy with that theme, and I wouldn’t have even considered starting over, except for one thing: my phone. See, now that I have a cell phone that isn’t terrible, I am finding that I actually read blogs on that little screen – something I would have said was crazy just a few months ago.

Using my phone for my blog reading has gotten me thinking about how my own blog functions (or doesn’t) in a mobile capacity, and the truth is that WordPress has kind of moved into the 2010’s without me. There are newer built-in features that make it simple for a blog to function exactly the same way on a laptop, a tablet, and a phone, while still taking into account the specific requirements of each size display.

I want Polka Dot Cottage to function well in miniature. It actually does pretty well on a phone screen, if all you are doing is reading the posts. But there are so many extras I have added over the years, including both of my shops (which are kind of important to me). And all of these special things I’ve done require you to be reading on a full computer display.

How very 2008 of me.

So, I’m starting from scratch. I’m using a WordPress-created theme, and I’m building my own child-theme based on it. This will ensure that my blog design will continue to grow and evolve as the features of WordPress do the same.

I’ve been testing this theme over on my test blog for a few days, but I decided to go live with it now, even though it’s not entirely ready for prime time. Some things (like the shops) are hard to duplicate in a test environment.

So. I know there are things that are not quite pretty right now. And I know there are things that are flat-out broken. I’ll be looking at all of them over the next few days, particularly in the Downloads Shop. I am so excited for you to be able to buy patterns and tutorials right from your phone! Getting that up and running is a priority for me, so it will be in working order very soon.

As I dig deeper into some of the features of WordPress that I’ve been ignoring over the years, I am sure I’ll be taking advantage of some of them and introducing some nifty things around here. I can’t wait!

(I’m totally nerding out over here.)

TWiP: the least I could do

This Week in Pictures

This week, particularly the early part, was pretty much dominated by my surgical procedure, but we’ve already talked about that, so no need to discuss it any further here.

In other news of the week, Aidan turned 15 on Thursday (yikes!) and I got a new laptop. This, in fact, is my first blog post from the new computer. So far, so good.

Remember last year when I dumped a cup of coffee into my old computer? Yeah, those were some good times right there. It was like the gift that kept on giving, because that little incident caused my CTRL key to work intermittently, as well as the right-click mouse button on my track pad. And over time, complications from taking the laptop apart to drain it caused the left corner of the screen to come unhinged. Sometimes using that computer could be comedic. And I’ve been doing it for a year.

It got worse when I started using Lightroom to edit my photos. My whole system was brought to its poor little crippled knees.

So replacing the laptop has been on my radar for quite some time, but I’ve been too reluctant to part with what little cash I have. I finally bit the bullet when Neil found me a great deal on eBay this week. It’s been perfect timing, too, because I have spent a lot of time sitting around recently, between my recovery, antibiotics that make me feel blechy, and good ol’ monthly cramps. I’ve had time to copy my important stuff over and poke around Windows 8, too.

Ok. Enough nerd talk from me. All of the aforementioned laying around has not been conducive to hosting a proper birthday party for my teenager, so we’ve been doing the “low-key supper-and-cake” circuit with the grandparents. On Thursday (his actual birthday) we took him out to the local diner, just the four of us. Last night it was Chinese food and ice cream cake at Neil’s parents’ house, and tonight it is sandwiches and brownies at my parents’ house. I’m on the hook to make the brownies this afternoon, which is the least I could do.

Actually, it may very well be the least I could do.

This entire week, as a matter of fact, has been full of me doing the absolute least I could get away with doing. I’m looking forward to getting my act together again. Like, soon.

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365: 2015 51/365 – Lunch leftovers, duly labeled.

Sunday

2015 52/365

365: 2015 52/365 – I usually like to take my 365 pictures in the morning, but then something like this happens and makes me glad I waited…

Monday

Instagram: Getting my iv in before my procedure. Good times.

365: 2015 53/365 – Monday night: painillers and early to bed. Surgery went well (thanks for all of the positive energy thrown my way).

Tuesday

365: 2015 54/365 – Tuesday morning breakfast: vitamins, antibiotics, painkillers, a Larabar, a hot cup of Tazo Zen tea, a comfy blanket, and Downton Abbey on the DVR.

Wednesday

365: 2015 55/365 – With this Frappuccino I celebrate: 1) Getting out and about after 2 days in my pajamas. 2) Excellent biopsy results. 3) The soothing feel of a frozen drink on a sore throat. 4) A pink and gray blanket on the hook. 5) An outside temperature above freezing. 6) Starbucks Rewards, which got me my drink for free :-)

Instagram: Hey, there, Instagram. Sleep tight 

Thursday

Instagram: Why, yes, I *do* have Clarkesworld wrapping paper. Doesn’t everyone? 

Instagram: The husband stole my phone…

Instagram: The birthday boy 

365: 2015 56/365 – Sometimes you just want a drink with a cherry in it :-)

Friday

365: 2015 57/365 – Birthday party number two, this time with cake :-)

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Twenty days

Squircle

It’s been 20 days since I posted anything in this space that wasn’t a Weekend Favorites or TWiP post. Thank goodness for those TWiP posts, actually, because they allow me to easily share what is going on around here even when I am too busy (or uninspired) to write real content during the week.

It keeps me from having to feel too guilty about letting things slide for several days.

So, it’s Wednesday morning. I had minor surgery on Monday to remove a growth on the back of my tongue. The biopsy already came back and all is well, so hooray for that! But the whole anesthesia thing really throws me for a loop. I get nauseous, and I spend about three times as long in recovery as all of the other patients before I feel well enough to put on my clothes and get in the car.

I’m pretty much back to normal now, although I am still dealing with a fairly sore throat (which is to be expected). And I am in a space of simultaneously wanting to get back to the Real World, and wanting to continue to take it easy a bit. So far I’ve compromised. I’ve taken a shower and gotten dressed for the first time in three days (yay! Real World!) but I’m not in any hurry to get anything else done at the moment (yay! Taking it easy!).

I really do need to start some laundry and do a spot of food shopping, but that can wait until the afternoon.

For now, I’m going to fire up the DVR and watch the Parks & Rec episode I missed last night, and work on a little bit of crochet. I’m making another blanket, and I’ll be sharing the pattern here when I’m done 

Nice chatting with you this morning!

TWiP: Snow, snow, go away

This Week in Pictures

Last week on TWiP, our intrepid crew was holed up in Boston waiting for the blizzard to pound them.

Actually, there was very little intrepidness about it. We were in a very nice hotel, and we watched the snow blow around from the warmth of our room, or the big window down the hall. In fact, we never once breathed the outside Boston air during our stay. In some ways, it seems a shame to drive four+ hours and then hang out in a box all weekend. But, really, it was such a comfortable box, and it had a nice view. I have no regrets.

We ended up staying until Monday and waiting out the storm. Our ride home was uneventful, thankfully, and we arrived back in New Jersey just in time for another snow storm. School was canceled on Tuesday as a result, so we got in an extra day of vacationing. That was nice.

I don’t know if you remember the cabled sweater I’ve been working on. You’ve gotten several glimpses of it in the course of these TWiP posts. I’ve been mostly taking my time with it, but I was very excited to have a weekend away with no commitments, during which I could have a knitting marathon and maybe even finish the darn thing. I had about a sleeve and a half to go. I even made sure to bring my tapestry needle so I could sew all of the pieces together when I was done.

Do you know what I forgot to bring?

Yarn! 

Brilliant, right? I had prime knitting time and I couldn’t use it. As it turns out, another big project fell in my lap, and I found a totally nerdy way to fill up all of those spare hours. All was not lost, and I am happy with how I spent my time.

But it means that my sweater is still unfinished. And I haven’t worked on it at all since I’ve been home, either, since I realized that a crochet project I thought had a late May deadline really ought to be finished by late March. So I’ve had to switch gears to blanket-making.

That blanket really deserves a post of its own. Hopefully this week!

I would love to finish those sweater sleeves before spring, but let me be clear: I am not requesting that the Winter weather stick around longer just to accommodate my knitting schedule. If it comes down to that, I’ll just wait and wear my new sweater in the fall, thankyouverymuch!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

Instagram: There is nothing like a crazy-bright hotel bathroom to really accentuate all of those grays you didn’t realize you had. I mean, I knew I had *some* but not this many!

Instagram: So guess who has two days of prime knitting time ahead of her, and didn’t remember to pack an extra ball of yarn. Sigh. I totally could have finished this sweater this weekend.

365: 2015 44/365 – Saturday afternoon: I took my zoom lens down the hall to a large window for a different view, and some close-ups of the city.

Sunday

365: 2015 45/365 – Sunday morning: another hotel window shot. It’s gotten snowy around here.

Instagram: The blizzard from the 8th floor. Visibility is about as bad as they predicted.

Monday

365: 2015 46/365 – I enjoy having a weekend away now and then, but it’s always great to get home and hang out on the couch with my favorite blanket and my favorite sweetie.

Tuesday

365: 2015 47/365 – More snow. Can’t seem to escape this stuff.

Wednesday

Instagram: Getting a growth removed on Monday. Today it’s pre-surgery blood testing. Yippee.

365: 2015 48/365 – We’ve been home for two days, and the suitcase I shared with the boys was still not unpacked as of this afternoon. I’m very on top of things ;-)

Thursday

Instagram: Sometimes while you’re waiting for the clothes to come out of the dryer so you can fold them, you have an idea that you just need to drop everything to try out, and some books that you just need to flip through to help flesh out your idea…

365: 2015 49/365 – I’ve been working on a new blanket idea since the fall, but I keep being unhappy with it and starting over. I let it sit for a few months, and now I think I *finally* have a color scheme and square design that I like.

Friday

365: 2015 50/365 – I got tired of waiting for the kid who said he wanted to be the one to take the tree down, and started dismantling it today. Yes, you read that right. This is our Christmas tree. On February 20th.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

TWiP: Food, glorious food

This Week in Pictures

To look at this week’s mosaic, you’d think this week was all about food. Junk food at that!

It was almost even foodier than this, as I tried to Instagram my supper tonight (it’s Friday night as I write) but the lighting was all wrong and I gave up. I’m sorry to say, you’ve been deprived of seeing the delicious curry chips I ate.

We’re in Boston right now, waiting for a blizzard to bear down on us. Neil is attending Boskone and we are along for the ride as usual. Most of the times we go with Neil to one of these things, we get out and explore the area, but Boskone isn’t like that for us. For one thing, we’re only there from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, and there’s not a whole lot of time to make plans. But more importantly, I tend to get lost driving around Boston – it’s a frustrating exercise for me. And walking is often not an option because it’s usually really cold. It’s no exception today. My phone is telling me it’s 13F degrees right now. And that’s the warmest I’ve seen it all day!

So, we usually expect our February weekend at Boskone to be entirely hotel-based, and the weather outside doesn’t matter all that much. Except this weekend a blizzard is on the way, and we may just find ourselves stuck here until Monday. I kind of hope that isn’t the case, but if hanging out in Boston another night is what it takes to get home in one piece, then we’ll do it.

I hope those of you that are in the path of yet another Winter storm this weekend stay safe!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365: 2015 37/365 – Saturday night: celebrating my sister’s birthday with coffee and delicious brownies.

Sunday

365: 2015 38/365 – Sunday: solitaire and less-than-healthy snacking in my pjs. This went on a lot longer than I would like to admit ;-)

Instagram: Sunday seems as good a day as any to break my own rule regarding sugary drinks.

Monday

365: 2015 39/365 – I spread salt on the path this morning, and I think I’ll run out and do another round before the wintry mix starts coming down again. Fun.

Tuesday

365: 2015 40/365 – Oh, Lightroom, you are killing me over here. The system is crawling.

Wednesday

365: 2015 41/365 – I may not be able to put off replacing this basket any longer…

Thursday

365: 2015 42/365 – I haven’t finished decluttering my bedroom yet, but I’ve done enough that I really like being in here. I often have my breakfast while sitting on the bed with my laptop now.

Instagram: My son has been asking me to make bacon for a few days, and really, who can blame him?

Friday

Instagram: Welcome to Boston, eh? Picked a great weekend to travel…

365: 2015 43/365 – Boston’s Friday night rush hour from the hotel window. The airport is in the distance.

Instagram: Blue hour.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

TWiP: Little round things

This Week in Pictures

Bowls and mandalas seem to dominate the latter part of the week. Little round things. They make me happy.

This week started out with fruit crisps, visiting family and a snow day.

I’d say more, but it’s Friday night, my decaf coffee is getting cold, and I am really, really chomping at the bit to slip into my pajamas and settle in with a good mystery and some knitting. I haven’t worked on my sweater since Sunday afternoon – it’ll never be finished at this rate!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

Instagram: Flipping through the latest Artful Blogging and I suddenly want to throw on an apron and bake a fruit crisp, thanks to @theclevercarrot. I also want it to be summer, but there’s not much I can do about that.

365: 2015 31/365 – Frozen blueberries and blackberries from last summer.

Sunday

Instagram: Coffee with my sister☺ @donnazone

365: 2015 32/365 – Still knitting this sweater. Today, there’s a family Super Smash Bros tournament happening in the background.

Monday

365: 2015 33/365 – Snow Day! Or, more accurately, Icy Winter Mix Day!

Instagram: The color of my lips during the 1990s #decluttering

Tuesday

Instagram: The sweater I am knitting can wait. I suddenly need a crochet mandala for my night stand

Wednesday

365: 2015 34/365 – I decluttered my night stand, and then I thought it could use a crochet mandala. This is my first attempt. It’s a little bit smaller than I’d like (and the ends aren’t woven in yet).

Instagram: I finished last night’s mandala, but it was smaller than I’d like. So I made this one, which is a better size, but I’m not sure about one of the colors. I’m too picky, LOL!

Thursday

Instagram: Oh, I really don’t think I am getting out of this store without one or two of these adorable little bowls (aka my kryptonite) in my cart.

365: 2015 35/365 – I resisted a lot of things at Target this morning, but little bowls and M&M’s were not among them.

Instagram: You probably guessed how the Lisa Finds Cute Bowls at Target story would end…

Friday

365: 2015 36/365 – Dear New Vacuum, You suck. Sincerely, Me. PS. I think I love you.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!