30 December 2016

The Good Things

Dear 2016 ~

I am guessing you have been hearing from A LOT of people all year long.  I'm also guessing that most, if not all of it, has been complaints, accusations, and even some threats.  I'll admit that there have been times when I've thought you were overdoing it.  And I don't want to be a Pollyanna (which trust me, no one has EVER accused me of being), but I also want you to know that there's at least one person who knows that just like any other year, you were not all bad.

Everyone seems to want you gone.  Which is understandable, because even in the best of times, people like to think and hope the future will be better.  And it doesn't improve anything to live in the past.  But at the same time, I always wish that people would not wish time away.  Because time never ever comes back.  Even on my darkest days, I'm aware of that.  Maybe your time here has to be threatened for you to appreciate it (for my part, I think I've learned this many times over, so you could actually give it a rest, at least for a while); I don't know.  I just know that life is way too short, whether you live to be 2 years old or 102 years old, and though it can be difficult, if you can remember to try to at least acknowledge and maybe even appreciate, the here and now, you'll be better off in the long run.  I think it avoids the coulda/shoulda/wish-I'd-done-feeling when it comes to the end.

Anyway, I would like to point out the good things from this year, so that both of us can know they actually happened.

1. I celebrated my 60th birthday!  I love birthdays and love being here to celebrate them.  When I turned 60, I was well aware of the fact that I had been here on earth for seven years longer than my father had.

2.  For the first six months of the year, our Dug the Doodle Dog was with us - and for at least the first four months, he was his usual, happy self.  I will ALWAYS be grateful for this.  He meant so much to every single one of us, and even during the last couple of months, when he wasn't feeling 100%, he was such a wonderful boy.  We are glad that he didn't suffer, and that he is no longer sick at all.  We would love to still have him here, but not if  he had to be sick.  Thank you for every minute of 2016 we had to spend with him.

3.  We had some great weekends in Rehoboth Beach with family.  This was not just a treat, but some of the best times we had the entire year.  To be there, having such fun, and laughing so much, should be something that would make any year a good one, no matter what else happened.

4.  Our September trip to New England was not only amazing, but helped us feel some genuine happiness at the chance to go new places, and see new things.  Every part of it was perfect - it was nice that even when it rained, it was only overnight!

5.  And then at the beginning of October, the arrival of Jack the Kitten!  His sweetness, craziness, and plain old kitten-ness is just the kind of thing we needed.  The other kitties decided he was OK, and he just carved out his own little spot in the family.  Even with all of his, er, "activities," we couldn't love him more.  And frankly, he seems pretty pleased with us. ;-)

6.  The Tim turned 60, and we had a fabulous weekend with family in Baltimore to celebrate.  Both of us are still here, with no plans to go anywhere else.  We had a blast in Baltimore, and the surprise party for The Tim was definitely a highlight of this year.  I have to tell you, 2016, I wasn't really worried that The Tim wouldn't be here for the Big 6-0, but I am eternally grateful that he was and is.  I would be lost without him.

7.  The success of my Harry's Hundred Project!  I wasn't sure how/if it would work at all - especially since I was so busy with Christmas gifts most of the year, that I only managed to knit a few things for my part in it.  But by the end of November, we'd surpassed the goal, and I know there are some additions for December as well.

8.  The Holidays.  OK, we are - at least in our house - still celebrating the end-of-year holidays, but we've had a good holiday season this year, and made sure to enjoy everything we could about it.

9.  Our extended families are well and happy.  Invaluable.

10. Our immediate family is well and happy.  Though as I write this post, I'm dealing with a particularly obnoxious cold, we are - all of us - doing just fine.  I am hoping that will continue, and one of my goals for 2017 is to get the cats back on track with their regular vet visits (we got distracted this past year, as I'm sure you understand).  I plan to do my best to improve my health, and I'm guessing The Tim wants to get back on track too.

So there are ten things, 2016, that happened this year that are good things, happy things, and wonderful memories.  I want you to know that they mattered to me, and that I have every plan of enjoying the last couple of days you are with us.  I hope that 2017 will also give me a lot to celebrate (in spite of the ascendancy of The Orange One), but I'll only be able to know that by living it.

Thanks for every minute of the good.  If you have any influence at all, please put in a good word for us to 2017.

Best regards,

29 December 2016

We'll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet ...

For this week's Think Write Thursday, Carole and Kat asked us to write about New Year's Eve - like or not? Celebrate or not? Musings?

I'm one of those people who enjoys New Year's Eve.  The only time I haven't enjoyed it was the year in high school when I babysat for a couple on New Year's Eve.  First of all, I wasn't really into babysitting. Secondly, they didn't get home until 3:00 a.m. and then they were still drunk.  Fortunately, I lived two blocks away so I didn't have to be driven home.

But I digress.

I've never been one for big parties, though I would have liked going to New Year's Eve in Times Square before that got ruined by TV "events."  Growing up, my parents were either home and had people over to play cards, or they went to friends' homes to do the same.  I used to like staying up and watching the ball drop, and thinking "Wow, it's another year."  I have to admit that the idea still kinda amazes me.

But our New Year's Eve is lovely, if what others might think of as boring.  The Tim usually has to work, but fortunately the bookstore closes about 6 p.m.  So we usually go out to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood, and then come home for the rest of the evening.  Around 10:30, we get the treats ready - always a Christmas cheeseball, often some steamed shrimp, and whatever else appeals at the time - and the champagne.  At about 11:55, we toast away the old year.  Then we watch the ball drop, have our little family "Happy New Year" exclamations and kisses, and have more champagne.

And we are generally in bed no later than 12:30 a.m.

New Year's Eve does make me nostalgic, though.  I miss family members, places, and things.  I feel sad that another year has passed and will never be again.

But in the end, if I am able to celebrate New Year's Eve and New Year's, it means I've made it.  And though every year has it's goods, bad, and uglies, I'd still rather be here than not.

26 December 2016

2016 Year End Q's and A's

Hello all - I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day, and continue to enjoy Christmastime.  Ours was great, and you will be forced to hear/see more about it, but for now I wanted to play along with Kathy's end of the year Questions and Answers - on the actual day they are posted!

Name your best FO of 2016.

I would have to say the Vacation Socks I knit for The Tim during our New England vacation in September.  I knit them at what for me was record time, and though he saw them as I worked on them, he had no idea they were for him.  I love the way they turned out, and seeing them reminds me of a wonderful part of what was a difficult year.

Ask someone in your family to name something you've knit for them.

Well, right now there is just The Tim right here, and said, "Socks!"  (Those above to be specific.)

Did you get any yarn gifts this holiday?

No, I didn't.  But Santa did bring me a copy of Knitting from the North, which I am really excited to have!  More than a few of the patterns are things I'd like to try.

Did your pets get any gifts?

Oh yeah!  They did very well this year, with treats and some catnip toys.  They also got new food bowls which to them is probably the equivalent to a kid getting underwear ... :-)

What is a great tip or idea you got this year?

I have to say that I am most proud of my Harry's Hundred idea.  I was, and continue to be both humbled and happy that so many things were knit and donated as part of the project.  Of course, my mother's 100th birthday anniversary will be in 2018, so maybe I should do something in her honor as well ... I have a whole year to think of a catchy name. ;-)

(I didn't mean to sound braggy, I'm just excited it all was a success!)

How did you surprise yourself in 2016?

I surprised myself at how well I managed to hold it together this year.  It was one of the most challenging years I can remember, and though precarious, I did better than I thought I would or could.  I hope at the end of next year I can say the same.

Name a favorite book you read in 2016.

My favorite book this year was A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman.   As a matter of fact, it's one of the few books I have added to my list of favorite books ever.  I can actually see myself reading it again sometime.

What is the latest you stayed up in 2016?

Well, I'm guessing this means stayed up for a reason other than not being able to sleep, so that's how I'm gonna answer.  The first Saturday evening in December, we had a small dinner party, and it was a lot of fun, but by the time everyone left, I cleaned up, and had a chance to settle myself, it was ~ 2:30 p.m.  I'm 99% sure I never stayed up that late on purpose even when I was younger!

Name a play, show, or concert you went to in 2016.

This is one of the first years in my life I didn't make it to any of the above.  However, I did go to two books talks at the Free Library of Philadelphia: one by Anne Lamott, and one by Alan Cumming.  They were both amazing, funny, and really enjoyable in their separate ways.  And since we each gave event tickets to one another for Christmas gifts, we'll apparently be making up for missing plays, shows, or concerts in 2017 ...

Name a new drink, dessert, or dish you found in 2016.

My favorite new dish that comes to mind is the recipe for Creamy Avocado Alfredo Pasta (shared here).  It's relatively simple, and just so yummy!

What about you?  How did your 2016 do, according to these questions?  Feel free to share in the comments, or write your own post - I enjoy reading everyone else's as much as I enjoy writing my own.

Thanks to Kathy for a fun year of these Q & A posts - I for one hope they continue!

24 December 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

The wait is nearly over.  We once again have the chance to start anew.  I hope your holiday, whatever one you celebrate, will bring you happiness, merriment, laughter, hope, love, and peace.

Whether you are in the circle of your family and/or friends, or learning a new way to celebrate, I hope it's one of the best holidays ever.  Know that you are loved, even if that is sometimes hard to remember.

Happy Hanukkah!
Merry Christmas!

May the light of the season bring you joy.

23 December 2016

Adaptable Traditions

Today I'm taking another turn contributing a post to sprite's Virtual Advent Tour.  Before saying anything else, I have to tell you that it has been so great to read everyone's posts this year.  I hope she will consider hosting again next year.

Part of what makes the whole thing so interesting is finding out how people "do" holidays.  To some degree, it's all variations on a central theme, but I don't think anyone celebrates holidays *exactly* like anyone else.

Now as anyone who knows me knows, I truly love Christmastime.  All of it.  I like making/buying gifts for others.  I like wrapping gifts.  I like baking goodies.  And I love decorating.  Just to name a few things ...

Years ago, I remember reading an article in the newspaper written by a family therapist, and she said that most of the couples who come to her had issues with two topics:  Money and holiday traditions. I read that part out loud to The Tim, and then said, "Fortunately, we agree on money issues, and we've never argued about how to celebrate holidays."  And he responded, "That's because we've always done it your way."

The short version of the discussion that followed was that first and foremost, he was giving me a hard time, and secondly, there were very few traditions that seemed overly important to his family, so he was more than happy to adjust to how I wanted to do things.

Which is lovely, and we have had wonderful holidays throughout our marriage.  And I realize that I do take it all more to heart than he does.  Everyone teases me, for instance, about my "Christmas Rules" (many of them), which of course I feel everyone should follow.  Intellectually, I accept that everyone does things their own way, and should be able to do just that; emotionally, I am convinced they should follow my example ... ;-)

Having said that, we have adjusted some of our traditions as well as created new ones over the years.  Originally, we both used to have jobs where we could either take the week between Christmas and New Year's off, or could take the time off without any problem.  So we would travel to be with our families.  It was always fun, and there are so many happy memories from those times.

Once The Tim started working in retail, not only did we no longer travel at Christmastime, but we had to adjust to the fact that he couldn't take any time off, and was also required to work six days a week during December instead of only five.  Trust me, that took some adjustment!  But now it's the usual, and though I would love to be able to see more people and do more things at holiday time, we still have the best time ever.

Traditions are open to interpretation, is what I'm saying.  So if there are any of you struggling because you can't do things this year the way you have always done them before, remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun.  And no one can have fun if all they can think about is what they are missing.

19 December 2016

Almost There!

Well, on a day that could have been better, but was not expected to be (I'm referring to the Electoral College), let's see how things are coming along this Christmastime.  I don't know about you, but it will definitely make me feel better ...

All of our packages have been sent, and we already know that one has arrived safely.  :-)  I am hoping news of the others will be the same.  Frankly, once that is done, The Tim and I have a nice long stretch all to ourselves to relax and enjoy the wait for Christmas Day.

This past weekend we finished decorating the tree and putting out all of the decorations.  Then yesterday I [finally] cleaned the house so a) it would look nice for the rest of the season, and b) Santa would not be appalled.  It makes such a difference!  The house gets to be sooo gross with the two of us and our furry companions.  But at least right now, it's looking good.

Today I took a sick day, not because I was sick, but because I had a few medical things to take care of, and they were gonna take the better part of the day anyhow.  First up was my yearly mammogram, very early this a.m.  I took this photo of Rittenhouse Square as I was walking through, because I think it looks so lovely.  I got an all clear result, for which I am extremely relieved and grateful.  (I always think I should get 50% off, and just get a "mam-gram" but apparently that isn't how it works ... )

Then this afternoon I had my eye exam.  Usually it doesn't take all that long, but the person who I had the appt with had called out sick, so they had one optometrist for all of the appts.  My future cataracts have not advanced much, but my Rx had changed pretty significantly, so I have to get new glasses. I can live with that.  The funny thing is, this is the first time for a few years my eyes had not been bothering me prior to going.  Those years, the other Rxs had been affected (computer and reading); this year, it was my distance vision that had apparently changed a lot!  I guess I figured the distance was just naturally a little blurry?

This is a nice short week for me, with today off and Friday taken as my last personal day for the year (I didn't want to lose it by not taking it before the end of the year!).  That is just fine with me.

We have had one casualty, though.  We actually did not put out some decorations, thinking that maybe waiting until next year would work better with Jack.  But this morning, I did come downstairs to discover that a snowman ornament had departed this earthly plane ...

RIP, snowman ornament.  We hardly knew ye.

Cookies.  Cards.  Wrapping.  That's what's left.   I love Christmas!  (In case you hadn't noticed ...)

16 December 2016

Christmastime Friday Lullabye

One of my favorite Christmas CDs is this one.  And though I have never ever thought of it as a Christmastime song, the last one on the CD it is Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel), by Billy Joel.  Their performance of it is so beautiful, and evocative of Christmas feeling in the way it is arranged, that it has become one of my favorite versions of an already favorite song.

So on this Friday, when there are 9 days left before Christmas Day, I hope you will enjoy it as well.

Have a wonderful holiday season weekend.

14 December 2016

Monday Questions. Wednesday Answers.

This week brings us another bunch of good questions from Kathy, so I'm going to play along.

BUT - before we get to that, I wanted to share a couple of links.

I know this is lambswool, and I know it is handknit.  I'm also sure it's probably worth every penny (pound, rather), but I would like to know WHO can afford it???  But I see this, and tell myself I REALLY need to get moving on making one with yarn from my stash, as I love these kinds of blankets.  Maybe 2017 will be the year ...

And then, for your Christmastime pleasure, here are a few cute ornaments to knit, courtesy of Kate, and they are freebies, so it's a win-win!

OK, on to the business at hand ...

1. Have you ever knit a Christmas ornament?

Yes.  I made this a few years back, and want to make more!

And, a few years ago, I knit an Advent Calendar garland, which is a Christmas decoration, if not technically an ornament.

2.  Have you ever knit with sparkle yarn?

Not so far, though I have two skeins of sock yarn with stellina in them, so somewhat sparkly knitting is in my future.

3.  Did you buy yarn while travelling this year?

Yes!  I bought a skein in Mystic Seaport, CT during our New England vacation, and a skein in two different places on two different trips to Baltimore.

4.  When's the last time you wore something you knit?

Today.  I wore my Silk Kerchief, which is one of my fave accessories when it's cold.

5.  Do you remember your dreams?

Sometimes.  Usually when they are extremely weird or disturbing.

6.  What's the one thing you don't want to run out of?

Spiritually, Christmas cheer.  Practically, tea.

7.  Deep dish or thin pizza?

Thin-ish.  Not real paper thin.  The Tim makes a perfect crust.  If you are in Chicago though, real deep-dish pizza is mighty tasty.

8.  Name a favorite holiday Christmas CD, or album for us oldies.

Kathy herself already mentioned the James Taylor one, so I have two that I'll mention: Just in Time for Christmas, by Nancy LaMott, 

and, Christmas with the Cambridge Singers.

9.  How do you remind yourself a candle has been lit?  

Whenever I have a candle lit, I'm right there.  If I leave the room, I automatically blow it out and make sure it's out.  Having lived through two house fires, I'm very conscious of it.

10. What's the ring tone on your phone?

I don't have a cell phone, so it's whatever came with the phone we have ...

OK, that's it for today - have a good one!

P.S. to any commenters: Blogger seems to have stopped sending me e-mails of comments, so I can respond.  I don't know how or why this happened, but I promise I'm not ignoring you!  Hopefully it can be resolved soon.  (Is anyone else having this problem, by the way?)

12 December 2016

Photo Shoot Fails

This past weekend was a 50/50 one.  Saturday was kinda lousy, Sunday was much better.  Basically Saturday morning The Tim and I had a huge misunderstanding about plans, and it just irritated me so much I wanted to spit.  I did get over it eventually, and I did some laundry and baked a few cookies to keep my mind on something else, but it ended up being a frustrating, wasted day.  I hate when that happens, but I especially hate it at Christmastime, when I have things I really want to do, and instead I let my mood distract me.  In the end, yes it was nice to have baked some cookies, and have finished some laundry, but frankly those were not high on my list of what I wanted to accomplish on Saturday.  Such is life,  First world problems and all of that.

Sunday I made up for a lot of what I didn't get done on Saturday by getting an early start, and - yes, I actually did this and not for the first time - set our kitchen timer so I would work on things for a minimum of time before allowing myself a break. And then even the breaks were timed!  This is what it's like when you are me.  I don't do it a lot, but when I do, it works pretty well.  But even I can admit it's a little bit sad ... ;-)

So that's the overview.

One of the things I thought would be a great idea on Saturday afternoon, since it was sunny, was to take photos of the Turn A Square Hats and Portfolio Scarves I'd knit for Christmas gifts before I wrapped them up and sent them to their respective recipients.  The Tim and the cats were all dozing, so it seemed like a good time to work without interruption.  And that should have been my first clue that I was being delusional.  Because although Jetsam and Milo the Koodle pretty much stayed asleep the whole time, and just showed up at the end to sniff, Pip and Jack decided that I couldn't be trusted to accomplish this task on my own.

At first, they were each sitting in a window in the guest bedroom where I was going to take the photos.  The light is decent in there when the sun is out, and the bed has a white bedspread, which would work well for contrast.  I got everything set up for the first idea I had for photographing things, and the second I grabbed the camera, both cats jumped onto the bed!  Because of course why wouldn't they?

I tried various distractions to try and get them to leave the room, but really when you are the world's most annoying helpers, why would you leave?  Every time I would try to pick one or the other up to move them, they would get their claws stuck, and I didn't want to risk harming the knits.  So for a couple of minutes, I let them enjoy their hilarity.  Once that was done, they each went to another part of the bed and started to get ready to nap or to take a bath.  Well, until I started taking pictures, that is.  After a while, I just gave up and tried to do the best I could.  

Granted, I'm not Richard Avedon.  But I did just want some nice photos ... maybe even one that looked a teensy bit artistic.

First, the hats:

"These hats are striped like I am!"

Then the scarves:

"These would be more comfortable if you could bunch them together."
(Now with bonus Jack butt!)

I tried a few more shots, and got some that might work after some editing.  But clearly the next time, no matter how zonked out the feline members of the family may seem to be, I'm closing the door!

09 December 2016

Homemade Noodles

This post is actually related to two things I participate in:

Carole and Kat's Think Write Thursday, and Sprite's Virtual Advent Tour.  And as it so happened, both asked us to write about our favorite holiday tradition.  I have thought long and hard about this, and I cannot choose just one, or even decide if it's more favorite than another.  Instead, I've decided to write about something *related* to a holiday tradition in my family.

Our big Christmas meal was always on Christmas Eve.  This was largely because my parents were incredibly social, so Christmas Day, after church, we'd be lucky if we ever got near a meal, between people stopping to visit us, and us visiting others.  So about the time I was 8 years old, my parents decreed that our big family meal would be on Christmas Eve.

Something to keep in mind is that it was seldom ever just our immediate family.  There were always extra people, friends of my parents who might not have anywhere to be, friends of my sisters who weren't going home for Christmas, orphans from the orphanage where my great-aunt (one of the nuns previously written about) who had no where to go, and I don't know ... just others.

Also, my parents tended to go all out at Christmas.  We were relatively poor, but they would take money out of their savings, and use credit for Christmas - both for foods and for gifts.

So that's the background.

One year, my father realized that his Uncle Bill and Aunt Viola would be alone at Christmas for the first time, as both of their adult daughters had found jobs in California and wouldn't be able to travel home.  They didn't make plans to go to California, because according to my father, Uncle Bill was "so cheap he would not pay a nickel to see Christ jump off the cross."  (Yeah, I know.)  So my parents decided to invite them for Christmas Eve dinner.  When my mother called to invite them, she told Aunt Viola to feel free to bring anything that was something they generally had for Christmas dinner, and it would be included.  Aunt Viola said that she would bring homemade noodles, because they were "Bill Arthurs' favorite."*

Aunt Viola was a good cook (or, as my father said, "Does it just seem that way because you never get enough to eat at their house?"), and the idea of homemade noodles was exciting to all of us, particularly since my mother never really made homemade anything.  So we were all looking forward to trying them.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve dinner.  Everyone is there, and the table is COVERED with food of all kinds.  There's talking, laughing, drinking, eating, and at some point during the meal, Aunt Viola asked my mother about the noodles.  My mother responded in a surprised and contrite fashion, saying that with all the people and all the food, she forgot to fix them.  Disappointing to be sure, but it's not like anyone was going to go away hungry.

Only after every single person but our immediate family had gone, did we learn the truth.  Aunt Viola arrived with a small baggie of homemade noodles - enough for a serving for Uncle Bill!  My parents said there was no way in the world (well, they said it more colorfully) that they were going to cook a single serving of something for one person.  My father claimed this was further proof of their cheapness.  My mother pointed out to us that, "Well, it *is* your father's family."**

So we never did get the homemade noodles.  But to this day, whenever we eat our Christmas meal, I think about those homemade noodles, which have become holiday legend in our family.  We'll sit down to eat, and even The Tim will say, "Oh, I forgot to cook the homemade noodles!"

The Tim and I have a tradition of a special Christmas Eve meal, and then a special Christmas Day meal.

But sadly, neither includes homemade noodles in any amount ...

*Our last name was Arthur.  However, Aunt Viola always referred to Uncle Bill as "Bill Arthurs."

**My mother was from a small family, and had cousins rather than siblings.  So she enjoyed pointing out to us the failings of my father's family.  :-)

P.S. If you want to sign up for the Virtual Advent Tour, go here.   It's fun and there are still some slots left!

06 December 2016

November Harry's Hundred Update

Before I get too carried away with December (and God knows I do get carried away!), I wanted to give you the Harry's Hundred update for November.  It was a good month!  Not just because the items below joined so many others that people have contributed, meaning that those who need some special warmth and attention will be getting it, but because here we are with one month left in the Project, and:


I am so incredibly excited about this, and humbled that so many people - particuarly ones I will never meet in person - have participated.  People all over the U.S. and Europe!  I had hoped that at least a few people that I am in touch with on a regular basis would contribute, and *hoped* we could get close to, or at least reach 100 by the end of the year.  I am truly blown away by the thoughtfulness of people.  

So, let's take a look at the things from November that pushed up the numbers.

From Gringa Turista (Rav link), who has done so many lovely mittens and included them in Harry's Hundred, we have three more pairs:

 Blue Popcorn Mittens

 Black and Blue Mittens

 Grey Guys

From marjos (again, Rav link), in Belgium, who has been knitting for local shelters, we have So.Many.Things! (Plus, according to her profile, she has two pups, so you know she has to be a good person, right?)

 3 blankets, 1 shawl, 1 readers wrap, 1 pair fingerless mitts, 4 hats

35 hats
(I'm 99% sure I haven't knit 35 hats in my entire life, much less in one fell swoop ...)

Now I have to tell you, when I got the messages from these two people and realized they would put the Project over 100 items, I was so touched, I cried.  Because people will be getting these and they will be able to feel warm, cozy, and hopefully at least a little bit loved.  And for a lot of them, it may be the only thing making them feel that way.

That is what it's all about in the end.  Kindness and giving, without expecting personal thanks or recognition from the recipients.  Giving because you want to, not because you feel you have to.  Not worrying about who receives it, or if they'll wear it or use it the way *you* would want them to.  Real gifts.

Thank you so much!  I would like to think that Harry is smiling big in heaven, knowing that these things were donated in his name to help other people.  I know I'm smiling big right here.  :-)

Here's our tally with a month still to go:

Goal:  100
Tally so far:  124!!!!!

Now that my gift-knitting has been completed, I'm hoping to squeeze in a few more things myself, and I hope if you are so inclined, you'll do so too.

Amazing.  In the best way possible.

Happy Holidays, indeed.  :-)

05 December 2016

December Q&A Hooray!

Kathy has some good holiday season questions for us this week in her quora, so I thought I'd share my answers.  'Cause, you know, I'd just hate to deprive you ... ;-)

*Can you knit something by heart?

I can knit basic socks by heart, and now, I'm 99% sure I could knit both the Turn A Square Hat and Portfolio Scarf by heart!  Though who knows in 6 months, they may be part of the mists in my mind.

*Would you like some yarn for Christmas?

Let's just say I wouldn't be upset.  But it's not like I'm currently wishing for any particular yarn, and hoping against hope that someone gifts me with it.

*Did you shovel any snow this December?

No.  We've had lots of rain instead of snow.

*Can you make a bow for a package or a gift?

Yes.  I love wrapping presents and making bows.  They aren't very elaborate, but they are bows ...

*Do you buy used books or new? 

Hm.  Frankly, I don't buy a lot of books at all, other than maybe the occasional knitting book.  Then it's a mix of the two.  Most of the time, I'll borrow books from the library.

*Have you seen a living Nativity?

No, and to be honest, I'd really only be interested in the animals anyway.

*Have you ever received home-baked cookies in the mail?

Just the other day, as a matter of fact!  A co-worker from long ago, who was originally trained as a pastry chef, has sent us Christmas cookies ever since she moved out of town.  We enjoy them, but I'm always a little bit surprised/flummoxxed, since though we were co-workers, we were never particularly close, and she is truly one of the strangest people I have ever met.  Having said that, we love getting the package of cookies!

*When was the last time your toes froze and your nose was red?

I honestly can't remember the last time my toes froze.  And my nose is always red in cold weather, regardless of temperature or how I'm dressed.

*Did you know that Christmas and Hanukkah are intertwined this year?

Yes, I did.  I always check, since I am intrigued every year to find out the dates for Hanukkah.

*Do you love to get a Christmas card?

Yes I do!  It's actually part of the reason I started my little holiday project, which has been extended through tomorrow, December 6.  (So far we have a small but enthusiastic group.)  I love to get mail in the first place, and Christmas and holiday cards make me feel even happier!

Though admittedly, I do not want to see this happen - I told The Tim, I hope Jack the kitten doesn't find a selfie stick somewhere ... ;-)

04 December 2016

Nice Try, Universe

Hello there - I hope you are all enjoying and/or surviving December.  Thanks for all the nice comments about my post welcoming the month.

Remember the cold I had, that had started to worm its way into my system over Thanksgiving?  Well, for a couple of days, it acted all casual, like "OK, Bridget, I'll give up and you can feel better, no big deal."  And I was pleased about that.  And then, the Universe apparently stepped in and said, "Nope.  You're gonna have to feel a lot worse before you can even *think* of feeling better."  And I have NOT been pleased about that.  I have, however, carried on as best I can (even if I basically was just able to function well enough to go to work, and then would come home and crash), so I feel that the joke is [mostly] on the universe.   Because in spite of its efforts, I've still been happily thinking about it being Christmastime, listening to Christmas music, and reading Christmas-themed books.  Granted, I have also been taking medicine, cough syrup, and cough and throat drops.   But. Not. The. Point. ;-)

However, as a result, I am behind on things, so I have decided to extend the deadline for anyone who wants to participate in the Great 2016 Holiday Snail Mail Card Exchange, to the end of the day on Tuesday, December 6.  Then I'll send out the list to everyone on Wednesday, December 7.  So far we have a few people, so I think it will be easily manageable for everyone involved, and anyone else who would like to join us.  So please do, the more the merrier!

We did something we haven't done for a while last night - had a small gathering and a dinner party.  We had originally invited people for the day after Thanksgiving, but since both of us were sick we rescheduled for last night.  It was pretty low-key, and nothing very complicated was served, and we had a great time.  Though no one left until about 1:30 a.m.!!  I cannot remember when I have been up so late on purpose, and I was pretty useless today as a result.  But it was worth it.  Though I think the most exhausted family members were the cats ...

This week our Christmas plans and preparations really go into gear.  The Tim is planning to bring the boxes o' decorations up, and we'll go and pick out a tree.  So exciting!

I hope all of you have had a good weekend, and are not feeling crummy at all like I am!  I'll be back soon with more ramblings.  Have a good week!

01 December 2016

And December Is Beginning

Well, we've arrived.  Today is December, which means that 2016 only has a few weeks left.

It's also Think Write Thursday, and today, Carole and Kat have given us the topic "Hello, December."

Hello, December ~ I hope you know how glad I am to see you, but also how bittersweet you are to me.

I love it when you show up, because Christmastime is one of my favorite times of all.  Unlike most people I know, I don't find the season stressful or annoying.  Rather, I look forward to the decorations, the music, the feeling of anticipation, and the fun of making or buying gifts for people.

I love it when you are cold, because to me, December is supposed to be cold.  I love that you are dark, because it makes the lights of the season and the idea of the Winter Solstice seem more special and beautiful.  I wish you would be at least a little bit snowy, but that seems to be something only in my childhood memories most of the time now.

I think you like showing up and making people pay attention.  Even those who do not celebrate any holiday realize that it might be time to wrap up some plans, and/or start thinking ahead to what will be next.  It's hard to travel through December and not notice something!

Then again, I think of my mother's birthday on December 2, and how we would ease into Christmastime between Thanksgiving and then, and then afterwards, it was full speed ahead.  I remember what fun it would be to make sure that she had a birthday, and not a Christmas/birthday combination.

My father LOVED Christmastime, and is most likely the person who passed that love on to me.  He'd be so busy with decorations, and cooking, and wrapping gifts.  And he'd always ask us if we didn't think he sounded just like Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby when he'd sing Christmas carols (the answer, in cas.e you are wondering, was always "no").

All the Christmases we would all be together, in one place all at once, having so much fun celebrating and catching up with each other, and all of the nieces and nephews having a chance to get to know each other and having such fun waiting for Santa.

And most recently of all, my favorite recent tradition on Christmas Eve.  Since The Tim always has to work, I'd put Dug's reindeer antlers and jingle bell collar on him, and we would take a Christmas Eve afternoon walk through Rittenhouse Square.  People couldn't help but smile, and some people would want to take his picture, or have their picture taken with him.  He loved the attention.  And I always told him that if he made people smile, even just for a minute, he'd given them one of the best Christmas presents ever.  It's gonna be really hard this year when that won't be able to happen.

But you know what?  It will be OK, because a good Christmas is about love.  And even if it can't be the same as it always was, or recently was, your memories make it sweeter.  You still have the love for those not here, and you can't lose that, any time of year.

So December, thanks for showing up, especially this year, which has been a tough one.  And I'm counting on you to make it worth going through the rest of it.  I have The Tim, Jetsam, Pip, and Milo ... and this year, Jack, who has no idea what December or Christmas or Santa or even sadness is!   Let's make the most of it, so that by the time 2017 pushes it's way in, we'll be able to say that you gave us a good ending, and we did the best with what we had.

Thanks for showing up. I plan to enjoy you as much as I possibly can,  'cause I look forward to seeing you every year,  And regardless of what else has been happening, I'm not willing to give up on that.

30 November 2016

November Is Ending

So yes, today is the last day in November, that last day of NaBloPoMo.  I'm happy that I decided to play along again this year.  The only time it was a challenge to post was last weekend, when I was sick, and then I realized that my post saying I couldn't say much counted ... :-)  But seriously, I enjoyed it.  I like that it forced me to sit down and actually organize thoughts and turn them into posts.  I compose so many posts in my head that never actually see the light of day.

I was thinking about this November, though, and it feels like the beginning of the month was so long ago.  Everyone was so excited about the upcoming election.  I remember when I actually cast my vote, I teared up, because I never ever thought that during my lifetime, I would be able to vote for a woman to be President.  And though I have no immediate plans to depart from this vale of tears, I do sometimes feel that it might have been my one and only time.  After Election Day, it just all seemed so sad, then upsetting, then infuriating.  I feel like it overshadowed any of  the good that happened.  Which is too bad.

Because there was good.  People found new ways to connect with each other.  Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated.  Thanksgiving showed up right on time and helped to remind us of the importance of being in the present.  Several people were motivated to some sort of activism, which is never a bad thing when you are standing up for your beliefs.  Fall colors surrounded us, reminding everyone that ultimately, we are not the ones in charge.  For all of the horrific things that happened, good people pulled together and helped.  And if you are reading this, it means you woke up on the alive side of things, which is always a good thing.

Part of me is sorry to see November leave, because usually it's a month I really enjoy.  Though I had happy times related to special events, I think this year I'm ready for it to move along.  I sincerely want to be here to see it again next year, and hope that it will go back to being the kind of month it usually has been.

Goodbye, November.  I hope during the next year you have the chance to get over the turbulence of this year, and can come back to us ready to be enjoyed.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart may desire.
-- an Irish blessing

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading this month (and always, of course).  Part of the fun of NaBloPoMo is hearing from you more often than I might otherwise.

On to December, with hopes for the best it can bring to us!

29 November 2016

The Last of the Turn A Square Hats

Yep, they are all finished!  I wove in the ends of the last one - the one for my niece Annie's boyfriend Patrick - on Sunday evening.  And, though you have seen every single other one, and know my thoughts, I'm still showing you the last two!

First, my great-nephew Zach's hat, in orange and black, the colors of his favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles:

I was working on these near the time of Halloween, and people kept saying, "Oh how cute, a Halloween hat."  So I guess if he decides that's what it is, that's what it can be.  But when I chose the yarn and was knitting, it was all Baltimore Orioles to me ...

And the final hat, for Patrick, in black and tan (though the pictures make the tan look more whitish):

By now, you know the details of the pattern, and the only different thing is the tan yarn, which is Berocco Vintage in the colorway Oats.

If you want to review things, and/or see them all "lined up" together, here is the link to the project page on Ravelry.

I am both pleased with how well they all turned out, and that they were all made with yarn already in my stash!  Win-win.


Thank you for your good wishes that my cold will move on soon.  So far, it's still digging in, but at least I have medicine that is making me able to function pretty well, and good cough syrup that makes it possible for me to get a decent amount of sleep at night.   At this point, I think it's just a matter of waiting it out.

I'll be back tomorrow for the last day of NaBloPoMo - see you then!

28 November 2016

Post Thanksgiving

We had a lovely, if more quiet than usual, Thanksgiving.  Both of us woke up feeling slightly under the weather - not horrible, just not great.  So we did even less then we usually do (as in, usually we'll take a nice long walk in the early afternoon.  This year we barely went back and forth to the kitchen and bathroom).  The Tim took a couple of naps, and though we had our stuffing (AT LAST! and it was wonderful), and other holiday foods, we didn't eat as much as usual - or even fix as much.  Except for stuffing, which we always make in huge amounts, since we both like it left over as much as the first time ...

This was all fine with the cats.  The first sight I saw on Thanksgiving morning once I'd gotten myself up and moving was this:

We've had this pad a long time, and never before - well, at least that we could see - have two cats shared it.

The theme continued, with variations throughout the day:

In the evening, Milo decided that he wanted to sit on my lap.  Jack was already ensconced, and before I knew it, they were both there.  And no altercations!

Clearly the whole family was enjoying Thanksgiving.  ;-)

The Tim had to work the next morning, and I decided to go out to a couple of places for some specific items I wanted for gifts.  No, I am not one of the morally superior types who scoffs at the idea of going out on the day after Thanksgiving to shop.  Granted, it's not crazy in Center City Philadelphia, since most people drive to a mall somewhere, but it's still busy and crowded enough.  But I go very early, and I knew that the things I wanted to get would not be likely to be around very long if I waited.  As it turns out, I got both items on sale, so it was a worthwhile adventure.  I was home by lunchtime, and enjoyed the rest of the day reading and knitting.

The story changed late Friday night when I started to feel slightly more off.  I'd actually felt better on Friday than on Thanksgiving, and was happy to not be getting really sick.  Ha ha.  For the next 24 hours, I had a miserable gastrointestinal bug.  And only I was lucky enough to get it - The Tim was fine.  Which is a good thing, since he had to work all weekend, but I guess the bug was not the result of something I ate or drank, because we both had the same things.  Fortunately, I felt better by dinnertime on Saturday.

Lest I get through the weekend with only that glitch, though, I woke up on Sunday morning with a scratchy throat and a cough.  Which as the day continued, got considerably worse.  I lost my voice, and could barely swallow.  So I started taking some Day-Quil and rustled up some Rx cough syrup left from my last episode.  By this morning, I was feeling better though still not great, and I can at least talk well enough to be understood.  Imagine how pleased I was to come back to work [insert sarcasm].

On the plus side, I did - for real this time - finish the last of the Turn A Square hats!  I felt good enough intermittently to knit, and it worked up really quickly (at this point I think I could knit the pattern in my sleep. LOL).  So I'll show you that sometime soon.

And so.  My absolute last planned item that would be sent to the recipient for Christmas is complete.  I'm feeling really good about it.  I think I mentioned in another post that I also toyed with the idea recently of knitting a hat for my little great-niece Penn as well.  Today is November 28.  My plan is to cast on tonight, see how it goes, and if it is smooth sailing, I think I can have it knit by the end of the month.  I mean, it's a kid's hat, and I have three evenings to work on it.

27 November 2016

Scenic Sunday

Advent Wreath
First Sunday of Advent
November 27, 2016
Old St. Joseph's Church
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

26 November 2016

Drive-By Posting

Hi all - nothing really from me today, but I did want to keep up with NaBloPoMo!  I am at the end (thank God!) of what I think is a 24-hour gastrointestinal event.  Started late last night, and is finally settling down.

So I'll see you tomorrow - hope everyone is having a good weekend!

25 November 2016

So I Had This Idea ...

Hello!  Happy day after Thanksgiving!  I hope yours was good and yummy and cozy.  Ours was slightly different than usual, which I'll share in another post.  But of course it was good because we were all here together for the whole day.

I was watching the parade yesterday, and saw a commercial where one of the people opened up a Christmas card and smiled.  And I thought about how I do love to get Christmas cards (or any snail mail, really).  Last year was somewhat disappointing in that way, since we only received a few actual cards in the  mail.  I know that people are increasingly sending electronic greetings both for convenience and for environmental reasons.  I know that I'm grateful when I realize that someone's birthday is  nearly here, and a card sent in the mail would be late, that I can still send my good wishes in time.  But in the end, there is  nothing I like more than actually getting a card (or even a letter!) in the mail.

I even use the cards we receive as part of our decorations!
(This is from a few years back)

So I had an idea, and wondered if anyone else might like it too.  I thought it might be fun to have a little holiday card exchange, for those who are interested.  Here's how it would work:

* The Great 2016 Holiday Snail Mail Card Exchange *

1.  Each person would agree to send a holiday card via snail mail to the others on the list.  Nothing else is required, just your signature if you want it to be as minimal as possible.  No gift items, no packages to send, simply a card to let someone know you took time to think about them.

2.  Anyone interested can e-mail their name and mailing address to me before midnight EST on Friday, December 2 (a week from today).  

3.  I compile the list, and e-mail it to all of the other participants no later than midnight EST on Monday, December 5 (a week from this coming Monday).

4.  Every participant sends out their cards no later than Tuesday, December 20.

5.  Recipients open their cards and smile.

Now I know that everyone gets really busy this time of year, so if you don't think you can do it, or if you are just plain not interested, that's fine.  But for those who think they would like to be part of it, please join me in spreading an extra little bit of holiday cheer to each other.

If you decide to participate, please send an e-mail with your full name and mailing address to me at: baclancyATverizonDOTnet by midnight next Friday, and we can get started!

*For those of you who do have environmental concerns related to this, I can say that most cards are recyclable.  If you don't want to immediately put them into the recycling bin, you can use the fronts or parts of the front for gift tags next year.  In our area, there are local charities who will take the front of cards that have no handwriting on the back, and use them as gift tags for things they give out.  And you can send all or any greeting cards all-year-round here to be re-used.  So there are various options.

24 November 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
-- Albert Einstein

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at our house!  
May your day be full of small miracles and those you love.

23 November 2016

Prepping for Tomorrow

I finished getting the stuffing ready about half an hour ago, and then washed the dishes.  It will sit and savor itself overnight and be perfect for dinner tomorrow.

Now I'm sitting here in my pajamas, watching one of the Thanksgiving episodes of the old "Newhart" show.  The kitties are recovering from their hard work assisting me.

It's a good evening.  I hope you are enjoying yours as well.

22 November 2016

Kathy's Thanksgiving Week Questions

Kathy wants to know the following:

*So it got cold here! What's the silver lining for you and the cold?

For me the silver lining IS the cold!  I love cold weather, and winter, and snow (NOT ICE) and getting dark early, and the coziness it makes me feel.  I am serious when I say I get reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder during the summer.

*Did you have an AHA! moment while knitting this weekend?

No, because I didn't do any knitting this weekend.  (Shocking I know.)  We were out of town, and I knew we would busy going various places.  Plus, everyone I was with was someone who would be a recipient of what I am currently knitting, so I didn't even want to try.

I did however, have a AHA! moment last night, when I realized I actually did have some black yarn left that I could use for one of the gift hats I'm knitting.  I had put it somewhere other than usual and forgotten.  I am really happy about it, because I had a specific color combo in mind that required black, and didn't want to have to buy yarn, so I was trying to talk myself out of it.

*Have you begun your holiday Thanksgiving prep or baking?  

The Tim does most of our Thanksgiving meal and baking prep.  My biggest contribution is making the stuffing, which I will do tomorrow night, and then on Thursday, making the stuffed celery that we always have.  He nearly always works during the evenings this week, so he has time for the baking and can do any prep shopping leading up to the big day when the stores are less crowded.

*Have you stepped out of your fashion comfort zone lately?

Not really.  I usually do that when I am going someplace or to some event that is very special.  There really hasn't been any of that going on.

*Did I thank anyone this weekend?

Lots of people!  Everyone in my family who went out of their way to make The Tim's birthday extra special.  Also, I visited a yarn store, and thanked the woman there for showing me the local yarns.  And waitresses, etc.  I'm kind of a serial thanker, I guess.

*Do you knit when your family visits?

I do when we are not running around and/or if I am not in the process of knitting something for the person or persons visiting.

*Has your cat caught a mouse in the house?

As far as I know, we've never had a mouse in our house, though I'm sure there are some in the walls, as I hear it now and then.  They all like to kill bugs though.

*Are you buying any Thanksgiving components?

Ingredients, yes.  Components, no.

*Are your hands cold?

Nearly all the time.  I apparently have poor circulation.  But fingerless gloves make a big difference, and I almost always have a hot drink going and can hold that from time to time to help, so most of the time, it's not a big problem.

Play along if you like - it's fun!


P.S. I am DYING for some stuffing - it's all I can think about this week!!

21 November 2016

Celebrated in Style

We arrived home about 3:30 yesterday afternoon from our overnight trip to Baltimore.  It was a bit whirlwind, but one of the best times we have ever had, and I think The Tim is likely to remember his 60th birthday!

After we arrived on Saturday, we headed out with my niece Liz, her husband Greg, and my great-nephew Zach, who is ten years old.  He was telling us all about how, after we got home that evening from my other niece Amanda's house, his friend Evan was coming to spend the night. Then he was talking about some of the things they do together and I mentioned that it sounded like Evan was a pretty good friend.  To which he responded, "He's probably my best friend.  I mean, I have other friends, but to be honest, a lot of them are duds."  The Tim and I nearly fell over laughing at this, and it's still cracking me up today.

Then all of us met up with my niece Annie, her boyfriend Patrick, who we were meeting for the first time, and his kids, eleven year old Amir, and seven year old Jan (short for January), and we all had lunch together.  Frankly, the restaurant was disappointing but we had a blast and it was fun to finally meet Patrick, et al., since we have heard so many good things about them.  He is a sweet guy, and everyone his hoping things will continue to go well, because Annie has a history of, shall we say, "duds."  ;-)

The rest of the afternoon we caught up with everyone's news at Liz's house.  Then we headed to my other niece's Amanda's house, where it turns out that she and the others had their party for The Tim.  It was quite the event, let me tell you!  I was so busy laughing, talking, singing, eating, and drinking that I ended up with only one picture from the evening, which didn't even turn out that well.  But Amanda took this one, which I figure you'll enjoy seeing.

(Believe it or not, this was at the beginning of the evening ...)

The food, the drink, the decorations, and the company was just wonderful.  We saw a slideshow of The Tim's "greatest moments" with the nieces, which was both hilarious and touching.  We all did The Mannequin Challenge, which took quite a bit of discussion, since everyone had different ideas  - and then we had to explain it to The Tim.

Before we headed home yesterday, we took everyone (including Zach's overnight guest) to brunch, where we had fun hearing about the plans for Thanksgiving.  All of them alternate holidays between my sister and brother-in-law's, and their respective in-laws.  Since this is the in-law's turns for Christmas, everyone will be at my sister's, as well as my brother-in-law's family and their kids and grandkids - 40 people in all!  I'm sure it will be crazy fun.

In a way, this weekend was our holiday visit.  We won't make it to see anyone for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, so this was a treat.  Both of us really enjoy spending time with my family, and unlike a lot of other families, we are fortunate since there are no Big Problems among any of us.  And now we get the best of both worlds, with a fun visit with nearly everyone, while also still being able to have our quiet and cozy Thanksgiving here.

Before I forget, The Tim was truly touched and pleased with all of your birthday wishes.   He sends along a sincere Thank You, as do I.  He truly deserved every bit of extra birthday attention that was showered on him.

20 November 2016

Scenic Sunday

Ceiling of the chapel, United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland
June 14, 2016

19 November 2016

Another FO, Another Gift, Almost Finished!

Around February or March of this year, I decided to knit gifts for four of my nieces and their husbands who are appreciative of knitted items.  For the guys, I chose the Turn A Square hat.  This was mostly because I've knit a few for The Tim, and not only does he love them, but he's always gotten lots of compliments.  Also, I knew the pattern was a pretty fast knit.  And one of the big things I wanted to try and do was make as many gifts as I could using yarn already in the stash.

As time went on, I also decided to make one for my 10-year-old great-nephew Zach, because he would probably like having a hat similar to his dad's.  And then, my youngest niece in that particular family started dating a guy that everyone thinks is the real deal, and they really like him.  We haven't met him yet, but he and his kids have already had summer vacation with the family, and are spending Thanksgiving with them.  So The Tim suggested he might get a hat too.

At this point, I have all but the boyfriend's hat knitted.  I know I'll get it done well before the end of November, which was my self-imposed deadline for all of the gifts.  But today I'm going to show you the one I made for my niece Julie's husband, Keith.

Here are the specifics of this one:

Project:  Hat #4 aka Keith's Hat
Pattern:  Turn A Square by Jared Flood
Yarn:  Berocco Vintage in Smoke (gray color); Berocco Vintage in Sour Cherry (red)
Needles:  US 6 and 7
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I truly enjoy knitting this pattern, and actually knit this hat over a weekend, while also doing lots of other weekend things.  I guess you could always knit it with several color, or as a solid, and I might try that sometime.  But I wanted these to be two colors.  If you want to knit a hat for someone, give this one a try.

And here's a bonus picture of the hat blocking, with my "helper's" paw assisting in placement of it to be just right ...  ;-)

(P.S. The reason the hat looks wet in spots is because these photos were taken right after I misted it with a spray bottle to properly block it.)

18 November 2016

Today We Are Sixty

And I say "we" because for the past 8 months and 4 days, I've been the only one here who's been sixty years old.  But today is The Tim's 60th birthday.

We have both taken the day off from work, as we are wont to do on birthdays.  And it's up the birthday person to determine the specifics of the day.  This year is slightly different, since he accidentally got the entire weekend off from work (long story, but who cares?), but it will be great I think.

Today he wants to go out to breakfast (once he gets up), then just relax and hang out at home.  One of his big plans is to wash the car ... but his birthday, his plan. I baked a yellow cake with chocolate ganache at his request. and am getting ready to put stuffed peppers in the crock pot for our dinner.

Then tomorrow we will head to Baltimore to my niece Liz's for an overnight visit.  We are staying at her house at her specific invitation - we usually stay at her sister's house.  But we'll get to see everyone, and meet my one niece's boyfriend and his kids, who we've heard many good things about from everyone.  They have planned a dinner birthday surprise, which should be fun and I am beyond certain he has no idea they will be doing anything at all.

Then we'll probably all go to brunch on Sunday morning before we head home.

So I think it should be an amazing weekend, and it will be a nice break for him not just for his birthday, but for a little fun break before the retail holiday crazy begins.

And no one deserves all of this more than he does.

So take a minute today if you will and raise a glass to The Tim for his birthday.  And have a wonderful weekend!

At the original front door to the House of Seven Gables,
Salem Massachusetts (September 2016)

17 November 2016

Everything's Coming Up Stuffing!

Today, Carole and Kat wanted us to talk about a recipe we love, and if it could be tied to Thanksgiving and/or a special memory, all the better.

Thanksgiving is a week from today - only a week!  Hooray, hooray, hooray, I love Thanksgiving so very much!  It's cozy, it's happy, it's relaxing, and it's food-related which to be honest all holidays are to me. But, on Thanksgiving, no one cares if things are food-centric which makes it even better. :-)

For the past week or so, I have already been thinking about STUFFING!  I don't care if you call it dressing instead of stuffing, but I DO care if you don't have it and you invite me for Thanksgiving ...

When we used to eat meat, I did enjoy the turkey, the leftover turkey for sandwiches, etc.  And I've never met a Thanksgiving side dish I couldn't make friends with, but for me the biggest and best thing in the meal has always been stuffing.  I think it was because when I was growing up, it was such a long and drawn-out process (still is, actually in our house), and it involved getting to spend time with my dad, driving him nuts helping.  He was always in charge of holiday meals, and they were always very involved, and I trailed him like a wanted criminal used to love being part of it.

And yes, I do know that you a) you can actually make stuffing any time of year, and b) you can even purchase already-made stuffing, some of it pretty decent.  But at Thanksgiving, I only want REAL stuffing!

As an adult, the thing I find amusing is that it was such a special and tasty thing to me, and what it was/is, the way we make it, is what other people have as the base for their stuffing.  No sausage, no chestnuts, no berries, no oysters, nothing but just:

Day old bread
Mushrooms (if affordable)
Seasonings - sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt (or as we used to have at home, a can of McCormick's spices "Poultry Seasoning" though my dad would still add more of the other stuff)

There's no recipe per se,  But it's still my most favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving.

And I *always* start thinking about it around Veteran's Day.  And then I can't wait.  :-)

16 November 2016

Linking Up (Which Is Not the Same As Hooking Up)

Well, how are you today?  I will admit to still feeling somewhat discombobulated, frustrated, and depressed, but fortunately my brain is returning to its more active state every day.  It's hard to believe the world changed so much just a week ago.  Feels like years, at least to me.

But I thought I'd share some links that you might find interesting, useful, or just plain enjoyable since I know that I always like to see what others offer for my perusal. Admittedly, there is not a lot of variety here, but I still think it's worth sharing.

This article from New York magazine is well worth your time to read.  It is well-written, and contains some excellent observations.

I know that a lot of us are trying to decide what to do next, who might need our help, or how we can make a difference at even the most basic level since the election.  This list is a good place to start.

Do you occasionally find that you've been led to click on a headline or an article, only to find that it falls into the category of "fake news" or clickbait?  (I think it's safe to say it's happened to all of us at least once.)  Or some are parody/satire sites that seem so "real" they often suck people in - a la The Onion, which I have to say is one of my favorites!  Anyway, here's a list of some of the sites.  It's not comprehensive, but it might keep you from getting sucked in.

Switching gears somewhat, did any of you see the movie "The Goodbye Girl" years ago, with Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason?  Do you remember the little girl - Quinn Cummings - who played Marsha Mason's daughter in that movie?  Well, she is an adult now, and I came across her on Twitter, and let me tell you, I love her so much!  She's witty, observant, as well as a person who provides foster homes to kittens!  Her commentary, particularly related to the newly elected person whose name shall not be mentioned (who she calls "Giant Toddler"), as well as comments that are "responses" to beauty magazine headlines ("Five Ways to Look Young Forever"), is so spot on as well as often viscerally bruising, she is one of my new heroes.

On another topic altogether - the holiday season - I found these two pieces that I thought were worth sharing:

First up - a tutorial on how to make a quilted, holiday-themed table runner that is not only pretty straightforward (if you sew, of course!), but great-looking!  I see some of these in my future, both as gifts but also for myself.  Probably not this year, but fortunately Christmastime rolls around each year.

And then, as a way to remind children - and adults - that the Christmas/holiday season is about kindness and happiness for others as well as ourselves, this idea of a type of Advent calendar.  I'm thinking of making it simpler for myself, maybe a decorated jar or box with slips of paper that have something on them for the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  As she suggests, as simple as holding a door for someone, or paying for their coffee.  I love the holiday season so much, but often wish I could think of more ways to help others.  Even if they are small acts, if they are done sincerely, it's a gift to everyone involved.

That's what I've got for you today.  I hope you'll enjoy poking around.