Catch Up & A New Venture

I have not posted in an embarrassingly long time. I have had a lot of knitting to share and ample time to sit down and work on a blog post, but I’ve had a hard time feeling like I deserve to spend my time doing so. I got laid off at the end of September from my job of almost two years. (Go back a little over two years and there is a nearly identical post.) I do not have the luck when it comes to steady jobs. I have also not had the luck as far as finding a new job. Most of my spare time I feel I must spend hunting for, applying for and sometimes interviewing for jobs. I am trying to remain positive that the right thing will come along, but some days that is really, really difficult. I actually feel like I’ve interviewed for the right job many times over since September but I have not gotten an offer from anyone yet. The market is very competitive right now. At every interview I have managed to get I have been told how many people (usually 50+) applied for the job and how they are interviewing at least half of them. It takes just the tiniest little things for someone else to have a slight edge over someone else. I am signed up with about 5 temp agencies (as of today) and have gotten just a couple of jobs from them since I’ve been home. One of them was a month-long. I am getting unemployment. Things could be worse…but I really just want to be done with this job hunting phase and be back to work.

I will get around to talking (briefly) about what knitting I have finished since my last post but first let me tell you about my Etsy shop. In a desperate attempt to feel like I’m contributing (even just a little bit) to my household while I look for my next job I have started an Etsy shop. I have been told by several people in the past that I should consider opening an Etsy shop and selling my knitted items. Mostly I’m selling some cute, decorative Mason Jars with knitted cozies. I made a slew of these as Christmas gifts this year. I am also posting a few items that if people would be interested in they can custom order and I will knit it up special for them. I’m not telling you about this shop to ask you to go buy something from me, but I am asking that if you are an Etsy user, please go visit my shop and maybe like it or an item (or several) that I’m selling. The more traffic that I get and the more likes I get the more attention it will draw from others and maybe some potential customers will find their way to me.. Thanks in advance!  Here’s the link: NicolesKnitGifts

New Finished Objects (corresponding photos below)

A. Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas – I made these for me. Despite having to battle second sock syndrome with these I love how they turned out and hope to make them again.

B. Pacifier Leash by Angela Munden – Made for my niece. Sometimes she likes to chew on it…silly girl!

C. Wildstyle Hat by Me – Minnie dressed up as Wildstyle from the Lego movie for Halloween. I improvised a hat to look like her hair.

D. Elizabeth Elaine Dress by Taiga Hilliard – I Love this designer. She has the sweetest little baby dresses! I am gearing up to knit another! This one was for my niece! She wore it in her 6 month photo shoot!

E. Molly Hat by Erin Ruth – One of my fabulous sisters in law and I organized a trade. I would knit her a hat and she would make me a quilted table runner. I do not have a picture of this hat on my SIL…so my husband is the stand in model.  (Don’t tell him.)

F. Milo by Georgie Hallam – I love this pattern, I have knit it a few times before. This one was part of my niece’s Christmas gift.

G. Candle Cozies by Silje Camelie – I made these as Christmas gifts for my kids teachers as well as for several family members. They are fun to knit and really cute! (These are also what I’m selling in my Etsy shop.)

H. Chopper Mitten Liners – I used the pattern Classic Mittens by the Bernhard Ulmann Co. to make chopper mitten liners for my Dad. I hope they work well for him on ice fishing trips. 

I. Calypso Shrug/Shoulder Wrap by Debbie Haymark – I started this ages ago and hated it. For some reason I remembered it and went back to work on it. It became my Mom’s Christmas gift. I still need to get better pictures of it before my Mom gets the final product this weekend.

Too Many Projects, Too Little Focus

I feel like I just posted, but I do have new knitting I haven’t talked about yet. Part of me feels like I should wait until after this weekend. I might have some finished objects to share and not just lots of in progress ones. We are headed to the Upper Peninsula for MI for the Labor Day weekend which mean a lot of travel time in the car and a lot of uninterrupted knitting time for me.

I have cast on all sorts of things recently. Sometimes when I start new knitting after finishing up knitting that is a gift for someone or has a specific deadline attached to it I have trouble committing to one project. It is like I have too much free time to just knit whatever and it all goes to my head. I wish I thought that imposing a deadline on myself would work. Unfortunately the procrastinator in me would still know that I was unbounded and my knitting would run wild.

The Ramona Racerback Tank by Katherine Vaughn seemed like a great thing to knit because I enjoyed the other tank top I knit for Minnie this summer. I have not been enjoying this pattern as much though. I did knit pretty seriously on it for a week or so and then got annoyed because it is knit flat (in pieces) and not in the round. I really hate knitting things that need to be seamed. So, as much as I was liking the idea of the finished piece I was not really giving this a lot of my time. I also realized that it was not that smart to be knitting a tank in mid August that I would probably not finish before school started again and that I couldn’t guarantee would fit her anymore next summer. (If I was being totally honest with myself I would tell you that this is probably destined to be frogged very soon.)

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Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas is one of those patterns that I’ve had in my queue forever. It is such a cute little pattern and who couldn’t use some sweet little socks/slippers? I knit the whole first slipper and even cast on the second one but I haven’t made it real far on the second. Normally I would plead second sock syndrome…but these knit up so quick that it really can’t be that. It is more likely because of the seaming (again.) There is minimal seaming on this item and while I succeeded in seaming up the first one I’m not sure it is a very flawless job. I should just finish these…I know I would wear them!

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The Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland is the perfect pattern to finally use the Yowza! skein of yarn I bought from Miss Babs for the Brickless shawl that I decided I wasn’t really that into. I have tried out this yarn on multiple shawls/cowls and not found the right thing…until now. I love the texture that this pattern produces! I am looking forward to wearing this when the weather gets cold again. It is just not that exciting to knit. And I have to pay more attention than I want to during the slip one, purl one row. I pull this out and work on a row or two here and there…it will get done, but it is not one of my all-consuming sorts of projects. I have also picked out a hat pattern that I want to knit out of the same yarn. Maybe I will even have enough yarn to make some mittens! (A Yowza! skein from Miss Babs is 560 yards!)

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The Zigzagular Socks by Susie White was cast on because the Honey Cowl was a little slow to knit. This is the project I’m making the most progress on right now. It is also the project that I carry around in my purse incase I have a few spare minutes (like that ever happens anymore) to just knit. This pattern is advertised as the perfect pattern to use your wildly variegated yarns with. I love how great the yarn on the printed pattern sheet looks knit up as this pattern, the zigzag really pops. My yarn isn’t quite as stunning…but I do like it. I have been thinking about possibly making these pedicure socks (no toes.) For some reason I have been wanting a pair of socks like that. Probably mostly so I can wear socks and flip-flops at the same time! We’ll see though. This has been weighing on mind as flip-flop season is probably quickly coming to a close. Flip-flops are probably my favorite kind of shoes.

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I also keep looking back at other works in progress that I should hurry up and finish. If I ever become a knitter who can fully dedicate herself to one project at a time it will be a miracle!

I hope I can narrow it down to a project or two (or three) for the trip to MI. And I hope that I have some finished objects to report next time I post!

Happy Knitting!

Busy Having Fun!

I keep meaning to come and make a post since I finished the Kismet tank top for Minnie. We’ve just been having too much summer fun! Every time I get a few minutes to sit still I think, “I should go write a post,” but I’m too exhausted to follow through. So, this will be a quick one.

I did get to knit and knit and knit while I sat by the lake at our family camp and watch my kids (and nieces and nephews) swim. It was a glorious 4 days away from real life and I hope I can make it work to go again next summer! (Stay tuned for some camp photos below.) Mostly I knit on the Kismet tank for Minnie. I actually got so into knitting it that I read my pattern wrong and knit 6 extra inches on the back (whoops!) It was easy to rip it back and finish it up. I did finish it there at camp besides the blocking and buttons. Once it was all finished up me and Minnie had a little photo shoot! I would highly recommend this pattern! I have been looking through this designer’s patterns to see what else I want to knit!

After I finished the Kismet I started a cowl with the yarn from the  Brickless…I have already ripped it out. I wasn’t feeling that one either. I need to keep looking to see what to do with that yarn. Then I cast on the Hooded Baby Sweater with Back Zipper for Baby Girl. I love this yarn! I’m knitting her the 12 month size. It is good mindless knitting and it shouldn’t take me too long to finish up. I am undecided what I’m going to work on when I finish the sweater.

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Here is a little photo collage of our summer including: Family Camp, Fourth of July and Como Water Park.

Enjoy your Summer!

Summer At Last!

How is it the end of June already? I wish I could quote the old cliché here that time flies when you’re having fun, but I feel like I’m still waiting for the fun to start. I guess that is how it goes when you work 40 hours a week and your fun is restricted to the weekends only. I have a couple of days off coming up that will give me a four-day weekend. I am taking my kids to family camp that my father-in-law has been nice enough to get them to for the past several years. I plan to sit by the lake and supervise their swimming while I knit and knit and knit. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have taken to eating my lunch at work outside everyday that I can so I feel like I’m getting to enjoy some summer. I typically soak in the sun while I eat, knit and listen to my most current audiobook.

I promised I would post the impromptu item I was working on for Baby Girl when I was done. I finished about a month ago already, but here they are. Leg warmers! I love leg warmers on babies. They are both adorable and practical. That being said, I’ll have to wait to see Baby Girl get some use out of these. The size range on these is about 3 months to 3 years. Right now she is too skinny to keep them on her little legs, but since it is summer that works out fine. I used a solid yarn with a variegated yarn. I almost made it though a whole color repeat. I kind of love that these coordinate instead of exactly match. (This pattern is Legwarmies by Alana Dakos)

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My daughter felt much neglected, knitting wise, during the months leading up to Baby Girl’s birth. And, looking back at the number of things I knit for Baby Girl, I guess she has a point. So, I made it my first priority to cast something on for Minnie. She actually wanted a fun pair of rainbow leg warmers too, but I told her I’d knit those in fall since she shouldn’t wear leg warmers during MN summers anyway. For a few years now I have been thinking of knitting her a summery top. I decided on the Kismet pattern by Sara Gresbach. (If you are at all interested in knitting a summer top, go look at my Ravelry profile(GreenEyed79), there are oodles of tank top type patterns in my favorites.) I am nearly done! At a certain point you split the round you’ve been knitting in and knit half for the front and half for the bank of the tank top and sew them together at the top of the shoulders. I am anxious to see how this fits and how it looks after it is blocked. At the bottom edge there is a little seed stitched edge that is probably supposed to keep it from rolling up but right now that part is always folded up over the body, so hopefully blocking will remedy that I have gotten no other work done. Just knitting and knitting on the tank top. (It has been good TV knitting as it is pretty mindless to knit endless rounds of stockinette.) I do want to get back to my Eiffel Towel shawl! I also plan to start on a Zip up the back Hooded Sweater for Baby Girl soon.

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Last week I went and spent a gift card at my favorite yarn shop (Amazing Threads in Maple Grove, MN) that I’ve been hoarding since Christmas. As I poked around looking for the best yarn to spend my money on I thought about how I go about spending a gift card. Typically I do not go in with a specific project in mind. I just wander around and buy what calls to me the most. Which is probably stupid. That is probably why some of the yarn in my stash has been unused for as long as it has. I wish I was better about shopping for specific projects. This time I did spend part of it on yarn for the hooded sweater for Baby Girl, but the rest was just random yarn that I liked and thought might knit up into something nice at some point. How do you spend your gift cards?

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I’ve been looking at my list of unfinished projects again, big mistake! How do I let things get this out of control? I need to sit down and seriously consider if I’m going to finish these items or if I should frog some of them and reclaim the yarn. I am pretty sure that the Shaelyn is getting frogged. I have come to hate that shawl. Something went wrong with it and I have spent hours trying to sort it back out and I’m not getting anywhere. And after all this time I just don’t love it like I used to. I should save the yarn and knit something else out of it.  Same with the Brickless…for as anxious as I was to cast it on, I’m not sure I’m feeling it anymore. I also think I should have used larger needles. I should go online and see what else I could do with yarn from both of these projects before I frog.

My sister has gotten some proofs back from her newborn photos shoot of Baby Girl. They are so gorgeous! I was especially excited to see photos of Baby Girl modeling some of what I knit for her. Here are few are my favorites. These photos were taken by Rebecca Zenefski. Her website is: www.byrebeccastudios.com you can also visit her on Facebook at: facebook.com/byRebeccaStudios

Enjoy your summer! Eat your lunch outside in the sun if you have to!

Here’s a picture of my kiddos from their last day of school.

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New Dress & Nostepinne

I am starting to feel the crunch of a looming deadline. Baby Girl will arrive in roughly 6 weeks and I feel like I still have so much I want to knit for her. This is a self-imposed deadline of course. I can obviously keep knitting for her once she arrives, I just have an idea of what I want done and folded neatly into a gift bag for the hospital visit. I still have one hat I wanted to knit and one more pair of booties too. I am still working on the large mystery item which is close to fully knit but it going to require a lot of finishing work. I also cast on something new for Baby Girl on Friday evening. (I will resist mentioning all the other cute little patterns I want to make for her…there are oodles of them.)

Back to my newly cast on item. I LOVE when I cast on a project and it feels like magic! I always love knitting, but I’m talking about a project that goes smoothly and feels fun and exciting to knit and as the item takes shape you can just tell that it is going to live up to expectations. I was going to try to keep this item a secret too, but I think I already revealed too much about it while talking to my sister on the phone. It is a dress. I will not show a picture beyond this boring one below. I will also not share the pattern name, yet. I am knitting the 0-3 month size. It is knit in fingering weight yarn. I really like how it is turning out. Despite checking my gauge and moving up a needle size I keep looking at the neck hole and wondering if it should really be that tiny. It has been awhile since I’ve had a newborn of my own, but wow, tiny! There are button holes knit into the garment but I am already planning on adding a button loop so that if the neck is too tiny the garment can still be functional.

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I have to give a shout out to Knit Picks. I know I was kind of harsh after their systems got hacked and MANY of us had our credit card info stolen, but this makes up for it. I really have resisted shopping with them since the hacking ordeal, but I may have to revise my position and just use the PayPal feature they have now instead. About 4 years ago for our anniversary my husband bought me a swift and ball winder from Knit Picks. They have since gotten a lot of use. Recently one of the wooden screws that holds up the spinning part of the swift broke and in turn the swift was no longer functional. I called Knit Picks to see if I could just get a new wood screw to try fix the problem. They shipped one out immediately, for free. I tried it and the swift still wasn’t working. Possibly the problem was with the part the screw, screwed into. I called them back to see if they had any ideas of what I could try. They sent me a brand new one, for free, after four years of use on the original one! The one I got in the mail is their newer version! It is so nice. I am totally impressed with how well they are standing by their products. They just as easily could have told me “tough luck, lady.” Way to go Knit Picks, you have earned back my business!

My ball winder from Knit Picks has also stopped working properly. It would be tempting to call and see if I can score a new ball winder too, but unlike the swift I know that the reason it is not working is my own fault. It worked fine until I bought a skein of Yowza! from Miss Babs. This is 400-some yards of worsted-weight yarn. That makes one GIANT ball of yarn! At one point of its winding some of the yarn slipped off and got sucked into the gears that turn the winder. I have taken the thing apart and removed the yarn and tried to put it back together right, but it has not been the same since. A new ball winder doesn’t cost that much money, but I have still been reluctant to buy one. My broken one is still kind of limping along. I decided to buy a nostepinne. Basically a nostepinne is a wooden dowel that you can use to hand wind a center pull ball of yarn on. I ordered from a company that I found on Etsy (if you want to know who, let me know and I will go check.) I watched a few YouTube videos when it arrived and hoped for the best. It took much longer to wind a ball of yarn this way than I expected. Mine also didn’t turn out as the shape I usually get from my ball winder. I may have wound it too tightly as I had trouble getting it off the nostepinne at the end. It was kind of a fun experiment for me though. I will keep practicing! A few of the podcasts that I listen to have talked about nostepinnes. I guess there is a theory that using a ball winder stretches the yarn out and using a nostepinne instead would not. I feel like I did more damage to my yarn using the nostepinne than the ball winder, but that is probably just due to my inexperience.

It is snowing in MN again today. The weather has been so very depressing this winter. My kids have 38 days left of the school year, not counting today. I am just hoping it does not still feel like winter when their summer vacation starts.

Radio Silence

It has been months since I last posted. It was hard to write a blog post about my new knitting when all my new knitting was a secret! I know my sister reads my blog (which I love) and so I was trying to avoid talking about my knitting projects for Baby Girl here. The problem was that all of what I had been knitting is for Baby Girl. It was not a bad problem to have, I love knitting for babies. I just missed updating my blog. I solved my own problem though. I have handed over all the completed items, so now I can talk about them here!  (She did offer that I could say right at the top of my posts if she should skip reading particular entries; but, what fun is that?)

The very first item I knit for Baby Girl is a tiny little hat. Upon finishing it I realized it would fit her for about 2 seconds, or not at all. Oh well, if it never fits her maybe she can use it as a doll hat someday. I had visions of knitting matching booties for this hat but have since abandoned the idea due to the possible failure of the sizing on the hat. I used a preemie hat pattern but sized it up…I maybe didn’t size it up enough. (I do love the color gradation though.) The pattern used is Preemie Baby Beanies by Karen Everitt.

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My sister  requested one item that she wanted me to knit for Baby Girl: Booties, specifically those booties that look like little Mary Janes. I have knit a pair or two of these before, so that was an easy one. for Baby Girl I have knit two pairs so far. A pink pair and a purple pair. Each pair coordinates with one of the several hats I’ve knit. I kind of want to knit one more pair of booties in a neutral color so that if she is dressed in something that pink or purple doesn’t really go with she still has booties to wear. The pattern I used is Saarjte’s Booties. It is a great pattern! Easy to follow and minimal sewing of seams at the end. My favorite part of these is finding cute little buttons! The pattern used is Saartje’s Booties by Saartje de Bruijn.

At one of the two LYSs (Local Yarn Store) that I frequent I spotted a sample baby hat I fell in love with while shopping for yarn for booties. I asked the shop lady if they sold the pattern and she told me that they didn’t, it was from a book. I immediately went online and ordered a cheap used copy of the book from Amazon. To my surprise, when the book arrived the hat was nowhere to be found in its contents. I went on Ravelry, looked up the pattern and discovered that it was in the book “Itty Bitty Hats” rather than “Itty Bitty Nursery” as the shop lady told me. I was able to buy the Kindle version of the book fairly cheaply. I have not knit the hat that I bought 2 different books to get the pattern for yet, but I did knit two others from the Itty Bitty Hats book.

The Upside Down Daisy hat is very cute. I don’t think mine turned out quite as well as the one pictured in the book. I was surprised that the hat was knit in its entirety and the flower was knit separately and then sewn on. I feel like if the pattern was knit in such a way that the petals were incorporated into the hat design rather than being an afterthought it would have had a better finished look. (That might just be me though, I am not awesome at the sewing/finishing part of knitting.) The pattern used is Upside Down Daisy Hat by Susan B. Anderson.

I also knit a hat that doesn’t really have a name in the book. There were three hats in the beginning of the book that are Simple Baby Hats 1, 2 or 3. You chose 1, 2 or 3 based on the weight of yarn you were using. Then there was three different ideas of toppings to put on the hat: fleece strips, tulle strips or feathers. I loved the look of the tulle one – so girly! It was a fun quick knit that I did on my scrapbooking weekend. The pattern used is Simple Baby Hat 2 by Susan B. Anderson.

I blended a couple of patterns to make this headband. The flower is indeed knitted and not crocheted. I kind of prefer crocheted flowers. I will need to make another and crochet the flower. Not that this didn’t turn out cute. I am worried that this is going to look positively massive on a newborn sized head. I will have to aim to make the crocheted flower smaller too. The pattern for the headband is Spring Baby Headband by Amy Andersen. I do not know the name of the pattern that I used for the flower – I’m still trying to track it back down. (Sorry!)

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Part of the idea behind all these cute little newborn accessories is that my sister wanted some cute things that could possibly be used for newborn baby photos. We realized that Baby Girl would need a diaper cover or something that would look good with the cute hats and booties. I knit up this soaker pattern. It will be perfect for photos, but should not be used as a functional soaker. I used the wrong kind of yarn for it to be used functionally. A true soaker should be knit out of 100% wool. The wool naturally acts as a moisture barrier. I used a wool/acrylic blend that seemed much softer than the 100% wool yarns. The pattern used is Snapdragon Soaker by Heather Fox.

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I do have a few others things in the works for Baby Girl that I can’t talk about yet. One of them is quite large and I have been working on it for months now. The end is in sight for that one, but it will probably be the gift I bring to the hospital when I get to go meet Baby Girl. I have been starting to get excited about knitting something other than baby things. I’m thinking Minnie needs a cute knit top to wear when it finally warms up here in MN. I also bought a cute pattern book of clothes that would fit her American Girl dolls. I haven’t knit anything out of there yet. I had thought I would knit myself a winter headband to wear in lieu of my winter hat, but it is getting a little late in the year for that. My itchy fingers will have to wait a little bit longer!

Spring has been slow to arrive in Minnesota. The photo below is from April 4th. I am desperately hoping it was our LAST snow storm until we get back around to next winter.

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Until next time – Happy Spring (hopefully Mother Nature won’t torture us anymore!)

 

 

Burr!!

Happy New Year! Here in Minnesota we have started off the new year in a deep, deep freeze. My kids were supposed to return to school today from Christmas break, but they are at home enjoying an extended break since school was cancelled due to the extreme cold. And I just heard that tomorrow is cancelled as well. (Too bad I still have to go to work.) Our high temperature today is supposed to be -15. The low is -20 and that doesn’t even include the wind chill. With the wind it feels like -40s out there. Yuck! When we get back up around 35 degrees this coming weekend it is going to feel darn right tropical!

So far this year’s knitting has been all about socks. I finished the After Thought Heel Socks for Minnie I had going on simultaneously as the ones I was working on for myself. Technically I finished those last year as I finished them on New Year’s Eve. As much as I came to dread this pattern as it is so dull to work on, this is the kind of yarn that this pattern should be used for. Yarn that is vibrant and exciting all by itself that doesn’t need a busy pattern getting in the way. I love how these turned out and I love that she has worn these many days already in our frigid weather. I will keep this pattern in mind for next time I have busy yarn to use, otherwise I will stick to fun sock patterns.

Since Minnie has a finished pair of socks I decided to start a pair for LJ. I recently downloaded a pattern booklet from Ravelry called Tiny Treads. It is all sock patterns for kids! I picked one called Goosey Goosey. (I have no idea why that is their name.) I am knitting them two at a time on circular needles. I tried this before and it worked on the boring leg area of the socks, but it was a Cookie A pattern (Kai-Mei) and the feet had something rather dramatic going on and I was never going to be able to keep the left sock straight from the right and have the patterns mirror each other, so I gave up on knitting two at a time after that. I have not done it again since and have come to realize that I should. I get second sock syndrome so badly!!

I have also worked on my Brickless a bit, but made very little progress as I had to tink back to fix where I forgot to cast off 11 stitches…whoops.

I forgot to mention in my last post that one of my sister-in-laws has taken up knitting! I am so thrilled. I always love when people discover knitting. She asked if I would teach her how to knit when we were together at Thanksgiving. She came armed with yarn and a pattern. I brought needles and spare yarn to teach her the basics before she started on her first project. She had looked at some instructions on-line previous to our lesson, so she picked it up extra quickly! I am anxious to see how her first project turns out!

My family started off this year with a special treat. For Christmas my husband bought tickets for the four of us to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Orphium in Minneapolis. We Love FOTO! He and I saw it in Orlando almost four years ago. The kids have never seen the stage or movie version, but have loved the music for years. My husband has been very anxious to take them to see it. They did very well and both enjoyed it! It was a wonderful show! I was so glad we braved the bitter cold to see it.

Stay Warm!

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