31 October 2016

No Tricks or Treats

Happy Halloween!  

I hope your Halloween was more fun than mine was - we did not get a single trick-or-treater.  It's so disappointing, as I love seeing the kids in their costumes.  In previous years, Dug and I would sit outside on the steps and needless to say he was very popular!  Tonight it was a little bit too chilly to sit out, but other than the little girl next door who always has a party with her friends, I didn't even hear any kids around.



I signed up for Gratitude Week, which I read about at Kat's blog.  I figured it would be a way to focus on good things, but also help me slide into NaBloPoMo.  I participated in NaBloPoMo last year, and though some days it was really a challenge, it was also a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.

Anyway, today I am grateful that I can still enjoy Halloween even without trick-or-treaters.  I enjoy seeing ours (and others') decorations.  I like seeing pictures of kids, adults, and pets in costumes of all kinds.  It will be a nice treat to have some candy to eat, since all of ours is left over (we didn't buy that much, but it's still all here).  In a world where plenty of people can't celebrate Halloween even if they wanted to, or where having anything at all to eat, much less leftover candy, is a struggle, I know that I am a lucky person, and I am grateful for that.

Farewell, October.  Tomorrow we're on to November, to see what it brings.

24 October 2016

Kathy's World Series Q & A

Kathy is thrilled that the Chicago Cubs have made it to the World Series - and frankly, so am I!  To be honest, I have nothing against the Cleveland Indians, but Chicago is one of the places I have lived - both as a child and then for a couple of years once The Tim finished grad school.  So I have a "home" connection to Chicago, and I hope I haven't just jinxed things for them. ;-)

So anyway, let's answer this week's queries.

-- What is your favorite fabric to wear?

I have to say flannel in cold weather, and cotton in warmer weather.  They are comfort fabrics to me.

-- Who woke you up this morning?

My bladder.  I woke up ten minutes before the alarm, having to use the bathroom.  This is actually surprising, because 99% of the time it is some combination of the felines in the family ... and a lot earlier. (ugh)

-- Last time you had to turn off the announcers and turn on the radio for a sports event.

A few years ago, when I was watching a Phillies game.  Usually though, I leave the TV and rant.  Pleasant, no?

-- Last food item you ate?

I had a slice of leftover pizza for dinner.

-- Last item you had knit regrets about?

My Multnomah Shawl.  I screwed it up when I got to the lacy border, but didn't realize it until well into it.  So every once in a while, I rip back a few rows, hoping that when I get to the last row before the border, that a) I'll realize it, and b) I can "get" it when I try to knit the border again.  It's really too bad, because I had zoomed through the shawl, loved knitting it, and couldn't wait to wear it. Grrrrr.

-- Last time a family member said to you, "When are you going to finish that thing?"


-- Are you still working on a New Year's resolution?

I don't make resolutions, really, I just try to decide on some goals and intentions.  But I am continuing to work on one in particular, because I got sidetracked over the summer.  I'm doing OK with it, so I'm glad about that.

-- Last great amateur photo you saw?

My niece Liz took a photo of her son Zach and another niece's daughter Penn this past weekend when they were all together for my brother-in-law's birthday.  It's both adorable and beautifully composed.

-- Do you know someone who is an organ recipient or donor?

Yes.  A former neighbor had a kidney transplant a few years back.  And both The Tim and I have marked ourselves as organ donors.

20 October 2016

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Carole and Kat have devised a new weekly project for us - Think ... Write ... Thursday!  They will provide prompts every week, and those who participate give it some thought and write something based on said prompts.  Well, I like to think and I like to write, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try, using someone else's ideas for a topic.

This week, they want us to write about The Best Breakfast I Ever Had.

Hm.  I didn't used to be a big breakfast eater.  As a kid, the only day we ever had what most people would call a proper breakfast was on Sunday, after church.  My dad would make eggs, sausage or bacon, and toast.  Some weeks it would be fried eggs (or as I called them until adulthood, "church eggs") and other weeks it would be scrambled eggs.  It was a big deal, and the only time we ate breakfast as a family.

My mother worked, my father worked, and my sisters and I went to school, all on slightly different schedules.  Once I was old enough to make it for myself (probably third grade), my favorite breakfast was a bowl of this:

I would put soy sauce on it, and along with my cup of tea, I was one happy camper.  This was the only rice we ever had growing up, and I LOVED it!  (Now it makes me gag ...)

I still love a big, yummy weekend breakfast, but am usually not that interested in fixing it just for myself.  And during the week, I generally eat cereal in the summer, and oatmeal in the winter.  Both are quick, filling, and I like them.

The Tim and I have lovely holiday breakfasts, and they are pretty amazing, especially when he makes hash browns!

But I think the best breakfast I ever had was the summer that I was 9 years old, and we were at the Jersey shore for a week of vacation.  My dad did not believe in making reservations, so we stayed at a somewhat sketchy place - but it did have a decent pool, and a reasonable diner attached.  My mother used vacation to sleep late, but my father was an early riser, and would get my sisters and I up every morning bright and early to walk along the beach.  This made my sisters miserable; me, not so much, since I was always sleeping on a terrible cot that was brought to the room, and was usually uncomfortable.

So we had taken our walk on the beach, and we were at the diner, and my father said we could get whatever we wanted for breakfast - we were, after all, on vacation.  I have no memory at all of what my sisters got, but I ordered a Pixie Cup.*

(For the uninitiated, Pixie Cups were small, individual cardboard cups of ice cream with cardboard tops, and little wooden spoon.  When you took off the top, there was a picture of someone famous on the other side (as shown above).  We *never* had Pixie Cups at home, because I'm sure they were not cheap to buy.)

The waitress said, "Oh honey, I don't think you should have ice cream for breakfast," and I was ready to have my soul crushed by this strange woman who wanted to ruin my vacation, when my father said, "I told them they could have whatever they wanted for breakfast.  If she wants and goddamn Pixie Cup, bring it to her."  He didn't say it in a mean way, just very factually.  The waitress was clearly shocked, but took the order, and brought all of our food shortly after.

And I sat there as pleased as I could be, enjoying a Pixie Cup for breakfast.  As I continued to do the entire week we were there.  Because we were on vacation, and my dad said so.  ;-)

14 October 2016

Old Photo Friday

It occurred to me the other day that I used to do Old Photo Friday pretty regularly, but that I haven't done one in a long time.

Today is the day, then!

Eight years ago nearly to the day!  The Tim holding Jetsam, our great-nephew Zach, and me.  Zach and his parents came for a weekend visit and he wanted a picture of "all of us together."  At the time, Jetsam was the only cat (and you can see he wasn't that thrilled to be in the picture).

Have a wonderful weekend!  We're off on our weekend adventure in a few hours, and I can't wait.

12 October 2016

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Apologies to the Rolling Stones for stealing their words.  I'm sure they'll be furious.  I'll just have to take my chances.

Lately, I've been thinking of all the things I wish I was able to do but cannot for whatever reason.  None of them are necessary things, hence the wishing part.  But you know how it is, sometimes you get things in your brain, or someone reminds you about something, and you just keep thinking about it.  

For example, nearly everyone I know here in Philadelphia who is a knitter is going to Rhinebeck this weekend.  I've never been to Rhinebeck, but would love to go for the following reasons:

1. Duh.
2. Supposedly there is wine- and/or cheese-tasting.  See #1.
3. Upstate New York would be so pretty this time of year, and I would love to see the changing colors.
4. It sounds like there is so much to see and do, both as far as actual activities, and what people are wearing that they have knit.
5. Animals.

I do wish I could go some year, and who knows, maybe I will.  Again though, not necessary.

Also, I would like to knit a sweater.  Technically, I would like to finish a sweater I have been knitting (way more off than on) for two years.  Now, again, since I do not depend on my knitting skills in order to be clothed (thank you, Fiber Jesus!), I don't ever have to really finish it.  But I want to, for the following reasons:

1. I like the yarn and the pattern - from a Custom Knit class I took at Loop.
2. I started out like a house on fire ... then found a mistake, ripped back, and lost inspiration.
3. Theoretically, being a Custom Fit pattern, it will a) fit properly and b) look nice.
4. I would like to actually start knitting a sweater, finish knitting said sweater, and then wear said sweater.  You know, like some people do.

Theoretically, this can happen.  Not soon, as I am not allowing myself to be derailed from my gift knitting until it's all finished.  Fortunately I'm enjoying it.  Unfortunately, so is Jack the kitten, so I don't get to knit as much as I'd like.  But if nothing else, I plan to knit more for myself in 2017, so perhaps I will actually finish said sweater then.  

Another thing I'd like to do is learn to how to do watercolor painting.  I adore watercolors, and had a knitting friend who was also an artist who offered to teach me.  Then she moved to Florida.  (Coincidence? I think not.)  Now there are any number of places here where I could take classes, but I have not for the following reasons:

1. I cannot currently afford classes in anything.
2. They all require some other classes as prerequisites (Intro to Drawing, Basic Painting Techniques, Other Ways to Get Your Money Before You Take the Only Class You Want To, etc.), and due to the combination of #1 and my lack of interest in the others, it isn't happening.
3. I am not overly artistic.  I mainly want to learn so I can entertain myself with colors and shapes on nice paper.  Even more basic than basic.
4. In reality, I don't actually need another hobby.  (See also: Why I Haven't Learned to Spin)

Now the aforementioned friend recommended an online class that costs ~$75.00, and you can go at your own pace.  At some point, I may be able to afford that, so I'll keep it in the back of my brain.  Again, not something I desperately need to know/have, just something I'd like to try.  Having said that, online things with audio are often frustrating for me, since it's usually the situation where the audio goes for about half a sentence, and then pauses for five minutes to load the rest of the sentence.  Even on my best day, that makes me stabby!  

Finally, I would like to have someplace to go occasionally that is near the ocean and that I really like.  Fortunately, this weekend while everyone else is at Rhinebeck, we will going to Rehoboth Beach for a long weekend - YAY!  I think I've mentioned before that my niece's husband Pat's family has a beach house there, and Amanda and Pat invite us a few times a year.  However this visit will be our last, because the owner of the house has decided not to renew their lease.  We don't know why - I'm sure we'll hear all about it this weekend - but I fear it might be because he wants to sell it to someone who is planning to tear it town and build one of those obnoxious Beach McMansions.  The house is perfect for the following reasons:

1. It is a nice, little, beach cottage.  Like there should be everywhere.  
2. It has screened in front and back porches.
3. On the front porch, you can look down the street and see the boardwalk and sand dunes.
4. On the back porch, there is a view of lovely trees and a little lake.
5. It is less than a block to the beach.
6. It is within walking distance of most of the shops and restaurants - including yarn stores! - that we like.
7. It felt a teensy bit like it was our own.

It's unlikely that we'll go to Rehoboth or anywhere once they no longer have the house.  Hotels are expensive, even in the off-season, and you usually can't take your dog. (Dug LOVED the little beach house, and someday when we have another dog, I'd like to take that pup with us as well.)  Granted, sometimes over the summer, we go to the Jersey shore for the day, and that is better than nothing.  But the past couple of years we haven't done that, due to health issues, and problems with The Tim's work schedule and mine meshing.  

Not necessary.  But lovely.  So we will make sure to eke out every bit of loveliness that we can this weekend.  :-)

I guess these are good problems to have in the grand scheme of things - they are, to quote one of my sisters, "White Man's Problems."  And they are not in fact real problems.

What about you?  Do you have any things in your brain rolling around like this lately?

09 October 2016

Sheila's Applescotch Crisp

Today in Philadelphia, it really, really feels like fall!  It rained most of yesterday and this morning, but around noon the rain stopped, and now it's sunny, breezy, and cool.  The perfect kind of day to share one of my favorite fall recipes with you.

This recipe was given to us by The Tim's late sister Sheila.  I have no idea where she got it, but when we lived in Indiana when The Tim was in graduate school, Sheila and her late husband Dave (who was also best man in our wedding) were both teaching at Purdue University, in West Lafayette.  We would visit them every once in a while, and always went to their house for Thanksgiving, since we would save the trip home for Christmas break.  Sheila loved to cook and bake, and this is one of her "go-to" desserts in the fall.

We used to also make this pretty regularly, but I thought I'd lost the recipe, so we haven't had it for years.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I found the card stuck to another recipe card.  Hooray!  So I made it again, and it was as yummy as we remembered.

If you are an apple fan, you'll want to give it a try.


Sheila's Applescotch Crisp

Bottom layer:

4 cups, peeled, sliced apples
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients, making sure they are well mixed.  Pour into an ungreased 9-inch square pan.

Top layer:

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 package butterscotch OR vanilla pudding mix (not instant)
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine ingredients and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle over apple mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.  Serve warm or cool; keeps in the refrigerator nicely.

*I have only ever used butterscotch pudding mix for this, so I cannot vouch for how it tastes if you use vanilla pudding mix
*You can also add raisins, dried cranberries, or other ingredients - try what you like!
*It's yummy as it is, but a dollop of Greek yogurt on top works nicely

Let me know if you try this, and how/if you liked it.  It's really easy to put together and the house smells really wonderful while it's baking.  :-)

Have a good week!

05 October 2016

Jack Attack!

Hello, everyone - I'd like to introduce you to Jack:

He loves to "help" with laundry (what he was doing in the above photo) ... or just about anything.
He's hard to photograph, because he is on the move a lot!

He doesn't stay still for very long.  Here is the first time I tried to take his picture.

The Tim was actually able to get this one.

Jack joined our family this past Sunday.  He is a tiny boy, only five months old, and has only one eye ... not that he seems to notice at all.  He is bouncy, happy, a lovebug, and completely ridiculous.  He never, ever seems to stop purring.  I will happily write a longer post later about how he came to join us, and what happened with his eye, but I wanted you to meet him and get a look at how cute he is!

In the meantime, we are thrilled ... well, at least The Tim and I are thrilled.  The other cats are shocked - SHOCKED I tell you! - that such a thing could happen.  There's no growling or hissing though, so it's just a matter of time until it's no big deal that he is here.

04 October 2016

Kathy's Inquiring Mind

Kathy's latest set of questions are especially fun, in my opinion.  And since the post I was planning to write has to be put off for at least another day until I can get my pictures straightened out, I figured I'd share my answers with you.  

Because I'd hate for you to go any longer without hearing from me, you know?  :-)

*Which did you last wear - flannel shirt or sweatshirt?

I don't actually own any flannel shirts (though I have lots of flannel pajamas), and I have lots of sweatshirts. And though I haven't pulled them out yet for this year, the last time the weather called for it, I wore a sweatshirt.

*Which chart is easier for you to read - fairisle or cables?

I have to agree with Dee on this one - I think fairisle is easier to read, but cables are easier to do.  I'm not all that good at charts overall though, to be honest ...

*Do you prefer a turtleneck or a cowl neck?

Turtleneck. I have one sweater with a cowl neck, but find it uncomfortable if I'm wearing a coat.

*Have you been on a ghost walk? Where?

Nope.  But during the time I worked at Eastern State Penitentiary, I spent some time around groups that would come looking for ghosts.  And many co-workers claimed to have seen ghosts.  

*What is the bulk of your stash - sock? worsted? bulky?

Sock yarn for sure!  I have some worsted, and a little bit of bulky, but most of my stash is sock/fingering weight yarn.  I have a serious issue saying no to sock yarn ...

*Have you tried acupuncture? Would you?

No and yes.  I know lots of people that it has helped considerably.  

*Have you eaten Halloween candy yet this year?

Yes.  The Tim brought home a bag of candy with the little individual packets inside, and I had a couple.  (It wasn't my favorite kind of candy, or trust me, I would have had more!)

*Have you seen Christmas decorations yet?

No I haven't.  But I also have not been out to any stores for at least a month, so they may very well be covered in decorations and I just have not seen them.  Having said that, I'm good at completely ignoring them until I'm good and ready to enjoy them ... you know, after Thanksgiving.

*What's your charity of choice to donate to?

I try to spread my $$ across several of the shelters here, where we have adopted animals.  Then each year in December, I make an extra special donation to one of them, taking turns so that each gets soimething.  And I also usually donate to a couple of charities that my great-nieces/nephews are doing fundraising activities for - last year, my great-nephew Zach did a jump rope fundraiser for the childrens' section at Johns Hopkins Hospital and I donated to that.

*You are at the apple orchard - do you buy: apples? donuts? cider?

Yes.  :-)

(Though since I haven't been to the orchard yet this year, I am planning my weekly treat for tomorrow to be an apple cider donut from Wawa.  Sooooooo GOOD!  Plus, I love Wawa.)

01 October 2016

Hello October

Oh October, I'm even happier to see you than usual.  You are one of my most favorite months, but for you to show up on a Saturday after a Friday at work that lasted from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., is particularly considerate of you.

I've been thinking about you a lot, since you mean so many different things to me.  On this, your first day, 47 years ago, I became an aunt for the first time.  So exciting and mystifying at the same time.  My aunts and uncles were all older people by the time I was born, with families of their own; so although they were nice, kind, and loving to me, they were not overly invested.  But I had a nephew and I was 13 years old!  I knew then that no matter what, I wanted to be an aunt who tried as much as possible to pay attention and be involved.  Now that nephew has a wife and four kids of his own, and The Tim and I are close to those kids, even though they live in Arizona and we live in Pennsylvania.  It all worked out well. ;-)

You are the month of cooler weather, pretty leaves, hot drinks, and cozy clothes.  You are the month I got married.  You finish off in a spectacular fashion, by giving us Halloween.

But this year, I've decided you are going to be the month that I start making an effort to be more of myself.  Though I'm doing better than I used to, I still need to realize that it's up to me to live my life the way I want to, regardless of what else is or is not happening.  I want to stop chastising myself if I don't get things done on a weekend.  If I decide to take a nap because I don't feel all that great today, it doesn't mean that I have to "make up" for it.  I want to try and get back into my habit of tackling some things a little bit at a time, so I am not instead overwhelmed by the task all at once.

I want to try to take more walks.  Taking walks has always been something I loved to do, but suddenly I am on my own, since my constant walking companion is gone.  It's been hard to go out on my own.  And since we walked everywhere in and out of the neighborhood together, there are very few new paths, so the ones imbued with memories are the ones I have to take.  It will be OK, and I know I'll enjoy being on my own again at some point, but it's been really difficult.  I'm going to use October to move ahead.  :-)

I want to start enjoying things that have started to feel like chores and obligations because of my overall frame of mind. I love cooking and baking, especially on weekends, when I am not just trying to get something fixed at the end of a frustrating day at work.  And since The Tim and I don't always get to have dinner together, I want to enjoy it when we do.

I know there are those who are somewhat disappointed to see you, because the start of October means they must finally admit that summer has ended.  That is one of your best attributes, as far as I'm concerned.  Instead of October as the End, I see you as a Beginning.  Of things mentioned above, as the leader to the holiday season, as the time when wanting to stay at home and do my own thing is more acceptable - because, as you know, in the summer, you're supposed to want to be outside with friends all of the time, and it's suspicious if you aren't interested.  But during October, "hibernating" becomes more acceptable.  I thank you for that.

And so today as I am writing this, I'm still in my pjs, though I have been up for hours. I've had a lovely breakfast, two cups of tea, and only some vague notions of what I want to do for the rest of the day.  I don't feel pressured to have a plan, and I'm not worried about admitting that.

Thank you, October, for allowing my perspective to clear and my soul to renew.

(Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, shortly after sunrise, September 14, 2016)