12 December 2017

A Day Late But Not a Dollar Short

Fortunately, Kathy doesn't charge us to participate in her weekly Q&A, which is near its end.  (Stay tuned for her next endeavor!)  So even though I'm a day late, I can still enjoy taking part without getting myself in trouble.  :-)

1. Have your knit a Christmas ornament or Hanukkah things?

Yes I have.  I knit this Advent wreath garland of mittens and hats a few years back:


And even longer ago, I knit this Yule Woodsman, who hangs on our tree every year.


2.  Have you seen a shooting star this year?

I have never seen a shooting star in my life!

3.  What's your preference:  cuckoo clock, digital clock, grandfather clock or a face with hands?

I like grandfather clocks, but wouldn't have room for one if I had it.  My overall preference is a clock with a face and hands.

4.  Do you prefer Chex Mix for cereal or snack mix?

Since I never liked it as cereal, but enjoy snack mix, that's my choice here.

5.  Is your milk expiration date before or after 12/25?

We just bought a new container of milk yesterday - the expiration date is 12/26.

6.  Name a bird you'd love to see in the wild?

Let's see, there are not any I *wouldn't* like to see.  But I wish I could have seen Carolina parakeets before they became extinct.

7.  What is the last color you knit with?

A deep red, on my Holly Berry Socks.

8.  Do you know anyone who believes in the Big Red Guy?

I do!  With all of my heart!  And there are some small kiddos in the family that I know believe in him also.  

9.  Do you have any solar decorations?

Nope.

10.  Mrs. Claus is knitting something for you - what is it?

A yoked sweater with reindeer!  :-)

What about you?  Feel free to participate, or to even include answers in the comments.  

10 December 2017

A Carol for the Second Sunday of Advent

Because I assailed you with horrible songs this past Thursday, here is one of my very favorites for you today.  Happy Sunday, Happy Advent!

08 December 2017

Virtual Advent Tour 2017 : Simple Christmas Happiness


Well, this is definitely a case of the best laid plans and all that.  I signed up again this year for sprite's  Virtual Advent Tour, and I have known for a while that today was my turn.  I had my post all decided in my brain and knew what photos I wanted to use, and I was set.  Then last night I picked up my laptop to get it set up, and ... nothing.  Zippo.  Nada. I did what I thought might "fix" it, with no luck at all.  The Tim was not home, so I couldn't get his assistance.  So I decided that I would get to work early and at least have my post up using my work computer, even if there were no other photos.  So here I am, and I'm glad it's Friday at least!

OK, you don't necessarily care about that so let's move on, shall we?

*****

Growing up, our family didn't leave near any of our other family, so holidays were completely on our own.  My mother was an only child, and though my father had siblings, they had been broken up as children to live with other relatives when his father was killed.  So he was close but not really with them.  And my parents were not the types to stay in one place if moving offered other opportunities, so we moved around a lot.  However, they both had decided that their own family was going to be different.  So we were pretty close-knit, and every single holiday was a BIG DEAL at our house.   Especially Christmas - my parents thought that was the highlight of the year!  (So you see I get my holiday love honestly.)

Our Christmases were so much fun!  We usually started decorating after December 2, which was my mom's birthday.  She was a firm believer in letting people with December birthdays actually celebrate their birthday the same as if it came in July.  We always had a tree, and lots of decorations, and stockings.  There was cookie baking (just the basics, my mother was only "domestic" at holidays), sing-a-longs (in the house, in the car, everywhere!), and just general fun.  On Christmas Day we would wake up and go to church, which could be excruciating, since Santa *always* showed up, and we would have leave the fun to go.  Always there were presents, filled stockings ("Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read," plus an orange and some nuts), and one or two presents from my parents.  We ate!  We drank!  We made merry for the entire Christmas season!

My parents never seemed stressed out.  They never complained that it was too much.  They never told us not to expect much.  I remember as an adult, I once mentioned this to my mother.  She told me that they both loved Christmastime so much, it was always as much fun for them as for us.  I asked her once why she never freaked out about holidays, meals, gifts, etc. and she told me it was because the only expectations she had to meet were hers and my dad's - no one else was around to compare, comment, or judge. 

Now the thing that most amazes me about this when I think back on it, is that my parents had pretty stressful lives.  Most of the time, we were ridiculously poor.  Sometimes we were farmed out to stay with relatives for a while when they were out of work.  There were a lot of huge medical bills.  When things were good, they were really good.  And yet, only as an adult did I realize how bad off we were!  Oh sure, other kids lived in nicer houses/neighborhoods and had more possessions, better clothes, etc., but it never seemed like a big deal.  If we wanted something, we'd be told that it wasn't something we could afford, and even though it was disappointing, that was that.  My mother used to say that just because you were poor, it didn't mean that you had to be dirty, or that you didn't still need to have manners, so even if we didn't have the best things, we always had clean, solid things and knew how to behave.  We went to Catholic schools most of the places where we lived, so we wore uniforms like all of the other kids. 

I do not ever remember a Christmas that wasn't a big deal.  I don't remember us ever not being all together, and having the time of our lives. 

When I think about it all now, it makes me realize that although my parents were not - by any definition - perfect, or saintly, they gave us the best they could and the best they had, often in really crappy situations.  But they kept the simple idea of what Christmastime should be - family, fun, and togetherness - intact.  So much so that my memories are happy, simple, and lovely.

We should all be so lucky as to be able to pull that off, right? 

And now that I poked around on my work computer, I was able to find one photo of my own for this post, so enjoy Christmas Moon Man, a handmade gift from a former co-worker long ago.  :-)



Have a great weekend!

07 December 2017

You're Gonna Hate Me For This One


I apologize in advance for my list today for Three on Thursday.  Why?  Because I realize it will cause earworms and not the good kind.  So I suggest you don't read it until you can counteract it with other music IMMEDIATELY.

My list today is Three Christmas Songs That Should Be Illegal.

Let me start by saying that I'm pretty willing to let a lot slide as far as Christmas songs go.  There are a lot that I think are stupid, or that I just don't like (The Tim gets stabby when "Little Drummer Boy" is played, which amuses me greatly, since it doesn't bother me one way or the other), but most of them fall into a benign category where I just move on to something else or turn off the radio.  Those listed below though, are far outside the pale of my patience and tolerance.  What better way to declare this than to share with all of you??

In no particular order (I hate them all equally), here they are.  And to give you at least one ounce of respite, I'm linking to the Wikipedia entries and images rather than to the actual audios.  If you are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with one/all of them, I would suggest going no further than reading about them.


Every time I hear this, I wish I could be run over by a bus.


There is a perfectly good reason this annoying kid is not getting anything for Christmas.

Oh and whoops, I lied - there is another one, so let's just say these two are in a tie:


I will call The Hippopotamus Protection League if I have to!


I have nothing against Italians, or Donkeys, or certainly not Christmas.  
Together in this song, though?  A crime against humanity.

Again, apologies for the earworms - if it's any consolation, now I'm stuck with them too!  Time to find some music I like and try to salvage my brain.  :-)

04 December 2017

An Excellent Christmastime Weekend

Hello all!  I hope all of you had a good weekend.  As I mentioned, we had some company this weekend, so it was a busy one for us, but we had so much fun!  Admittedly, I'm glad I took today off so that I could recoup and enjoy a day at home, but I'll also admit I miss everyone who was here.

We really only saw Julie on Saturday morning when she was able to join us for breakfast, and we didn't get to see Keith at all - both of them were busy with the wedding they were in town to attend.  But we got to spend a whole lot of time with my sister Mary Ellen and her husband Patrick, and with our little great-niece Penn.  We don't get to see Penn very often, because even though she and her family live in Brooklyn, which is not that far away, Julie and Keith have crazy work schedules, so finding a weekend when everyone is available is nearly impossible.  So this was our chance, to quote The Tim, "to make sure that Penn realizes that we're really fun."  I think we may have succeeded.

The cats were a HUGE attraction for her, which was a bonus for us.  Of course, they are extremely fond of anyone who keeps giving them treats (who wouldn't be?), so I think on Friday after we got back to our house after dinner, they had more treats in one evening than in their lives so far. ;-)  And the game of laser toy was quite exciting for Pip and Jack (Milo is afraid of it, the little wimp), so that was definitely a win.  Of course I forgot to take a single picture.

Saturday morning, we all met for breakfast, and then walked through Rittenhouse  Square on our way over to Macy's.  She wanted her picture with some of the sculptures in the Square.





She is the funniest little kid - she likes to get her picture taken, but will seldom smile, unless she is already doing something that makes her smile or laugh. 

We were going to Macy's, the former John Wanamaker department store, to see one of the most cherished Philadelphia traditions: Wanamaker's Christmas Light Show.  When Macy's was taking over, it was with the understanding that the Light Show would stay.  To their credit, not only did they keep it, but they freshened up the lighting with LED lights, so there are no random dark spots when lights die during a show.  It's corny, and cheesy, and one of the best things to do in the city at Christmastime.  I took LOTS of pictures, so I'm going to show you only one here, and save the others for a separate post.


Santa! Rudolph! Reindeer! A Christmas tree!  What's not to love?   Penn thought it was great, and told us that she liked that Rudolph showed up before the other reindeer, and she also liked the "singing" (there is a recorded background for each segment of the show).   After that we headed outside, and went to City Hall to see the Christmas garden and the city's Christmas tree.


Uncle Tim and Penn had a good time checking things out.  
Uncle Tim was a big hit.  (Uncle Tim is ALWAYS a big hit.)


She liked this reindeer sculpture, and told us that this was "Rudolph's mommy."  


Here is the Philadelphia Christmas tree, with a Liberty Bell on the top.  
She thought that was hilarious.


I thought the ornaments were really cool, and liked this wooden 
old-fashioned snowman inside the branches.

Then it was time for her nap, so we went over to my sister and brother-in-law's hotel so she could take said nap, and we would meet later for dinner.  She wanted me to take this picture of her and her stuffed kitty, Lala, who she said really liked our kitties.  :-)


Later we all met for dinner at a local pub, and then headed back to our house.  More treats for the kitties, and then a game of Kitty Tease (one of those fishing pole type toys with a mouse at the end to chase).  Pip and Milo tired out pretty quickly, but Penn and Jack did not run out of energy at all!

As you can see, it requires concentration on the part of both parties ...


but it's worth it at the end


They all headed home on Sunday.  The original plan was that we would all have brunch together (though The Tim had to work), but as it turned out, I got called to go to work at the last minute for a few hours (don't ask), so I missed seeing them all one more time.  But on Saturday night when they were leaving, Penn did tell us that "I'm coming back to see you and the kitties and sleep over."  So I think she enjoyed herself. 

When I got home from my few hours at work, I decided that I *really* needed to do something Christmas-y, so I made these:


A perfect decision - making some Christmas cookies while listening to Christmas music!  I'd seen this recipe on Facebook, and wanted to try it.  Let me tell you - these are really easy, and incredibly yummy!  In the recipe of course they have you just using one kind of sprinkles but you are probably not surprised to see that I pulled out every kind of sprinkle I could find!

Someday, I would love to be able to be off work, or even just work part-time, during Christmastime, but in the meantime, I try to make all of my own time - especially on weekends - make up for it.  This weekend was an excellent start!

01 December 2017

YAY YAY YAY CHRISTMASTIME CHRISTMASTIME CHRISTMASTIME!!!


Hello and Happy December!!  It's time to hang up our dove garland and get out the other decorations!  Not to mention start baking, wrapping, listening to Christmas music, and all of the good stuff that comes with this time of year. 

We are starting December with a busy weekend, which should also be fun.  My niece Julie and her husband Keith, and 3-year old Penn will be coming to Philadelphia this weekend for a friend's wedding, so we'll get to see them.  Even better, my sister and brother-in-law will also be coming from WV (ostensibly to see us, but let's be real - they want to see their granddaughter, right?), so we'll have a chance for some family and fun at a perfect time of year!  We have several holiday-themed plans that we know they'll enjoy.  And we can't wait for Penn to meet the kitties - I have a feeling there will be a lot of treat-giving going on in our house ...

As a result of having guests and running around, there probably won't be much else happening, but we're good with that.  And I had a day off I have to use or lose before the end of the calendar year, so I'm taking Monday off to recoup and enjoy an extra day. 

And knit.  :-)

Have a good weekend! 

30 November 2017

Three Rewarding Things About Reaching a Goal


Even though I'm not surprised, I'm still surprised that today is the last day of NaBloPoMo 2017.  I'm not surprised, because of course I knew today's date; but I am surprised because this year I found the whole process somewhat more natural than before, so the realization that today was the last day of November and it was in no way awkward or impossibly difficult to post every day was a surprising one.

I used to be a person who set tons of goals for myself, most of them unrealistic.  But I was determined to force them to be realistic.  At a certain point, I realized that really isn't how it works, or how it's supposed to work.  So I adjusted my thinking and my decisions about what should/could/would be a goal for me.  There are still plenty I don't accomplish, but most of the time I've either gotten close or realized it wasn't a goal I was really interested in reaching.

Originally, I started blogging so that I could participate in swaps.  But I also enjoyed writing and posting pictures, even if for a long time it was only for my own reading.  Along the way, I ended up making lots of friends through my blog, and at this point, I think of it as just part of me.

So I managed to accomplish my goal of posting every day for a month.  And though there is no reward in the sense that most people think of it, it's still something I set out to do and was able to finish.  Which brings me to today's Three on Thursday post, Three Rewarding Things About Reaching a Goal.

1.  The feeling of success.  I'm a big believer in small things making a difference.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big joiner by nature.  And for some things (i.e., most KALs), the minute I decided to join, I lose all momentum to continue.  So regardless of whether my goal is to post here every day for 30 days, or to try and knit one fall-related item over the course of months, knowing I managed to do it and enjoy it is a really great feeling.

2.  The confidence boost.  As in, if you were able to reach Goal X, you just might want to give yourself another goal.  You did it this time, if you work at it (and are realistic), you just might do it again.

3.  The discipline.  Granted, there were no legal or other consequences if I missed or skipped a day.  Anything like that would be strictly self-inflicted.  But no one is better at beating me up than I am myself.  So making myself take the actual time to write something, post a photo, plan ahead, or even come up with an idea was good practice.  I am somewhat self-disciplined, but a lot of times if it's not something I absolutely have to do, I can easily justify skipping it altogether.  And especially if it's something I enjoy in the end, I'm always happy when I've made the effort.

So farewell to NaBloPoMo 2017, and thanks to everyone who also wrote a post for me to read/comment on, or who read/commented here.  It was nice to check in each day and see how things were going, and for my part, there were days when having several posts to read made all the difference in how that day turned out.

On to December!

29 November 2017

Holiday Raveling and Reading

Hello there - it's Wednesday, which besides being my middle sister's birthday, is also Unraveled Wednesday.  I thought I would share what I'm knitting and reading because I am just that kind of person.

I just started reading this holiday-themed book on my Nook:


I read another in the series last December, and found it to be really interesting.  I'm only on page 10 (because no one would stop asking me questions during lunch hour!), but so far it seems interesting.

And then on my way home, I'll stop at the library to pick up this book since my turn has come up on the hold list:


I've read good things about it, and am hoping they are true as far as my opinion of it goes.

Currently I have three projects on the needles:  The Tim's fingerless mitts, my For the Birds sweater, and then this project that I cast on during the day on Thanksgiving.  I'm a bit farther along now than in this photo:


For as many pairs of Christmas-themed socks that I have, and as much holiday yarn as I own, I do not have one pair of  hand-knit Christmas socks, so I finally got my act together to remedy that.  I bought a kit for these many many years ago, when I had just learned to knit, and when the idea of knitting a sock was incomprehensible to me.  These are the Simple Holly Socks, by Mary Dominski.  They will definitely be wear-around-the-house socks, since they are worsted weight, but that also means they will go pretty quickly when I actually choose to knit on them.

I can't believe that tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo.  I know for some people it's a struggle, but I have to say that there have only been a couple of times this year when I've wondered what I could post.  I don't know if that means I have more to share, or if I don't care as much if whatever it is turns out to be inane.

Po-ta-toe, Po-tah-toe, right?

28 November 2017

A Proud HO!

I recently heard several podcasters refer to a half-finished project as a HO and found it so amusing, I decided to adopt the term.   Because I will always glom on to something that amuses me.  Work with me here, people, I have to take it where I can find it.  :-)

I have been off work today for medical stuff.  I left the house around 9 a.m. this morning and got home about 15 minutes ago.  That's a long day of prodding, poking, scanning, and whatever else they felt like doing.  Fortunately, it's all routine to guarantee that nothing NOT routine shows up.  But it is still tiring.  Having said that, it's still better than a day at work for me, which is sad but true.

Anyway, I mentioned previously that I was moving along on the fingerless mitts requested by The Tim.  Before I left for my appointments this morning, I'd been able to add the middle finger.


Once I had knit the ring finger, I knew what to expect, so the middle finger didn't take long at all.  Even better, after that it was a pretty short road to a HO:


I just finished weaving in the ends and closing a few gaps a big ago, so the poor thing is pretty wonky-looking, but it looks like what it is supposed to be - YAY!  I tried it on my hand, and it was too big enough that I think the finished pair will fit The Tim just fine.

Someone (Bonny, I think?) asked me about the pattern.  I initially started with a couple of free patterns from Ravelry, but to be perfectly honest, they were not well-written, and since I had never made fingerless mitts with separate fingers, I wasn't able to extrapolate what I should really do (others might not have a problem, but my mind doesn't easily handle that sort of thing, especially if I've never tried before).  So I ended up purchasing the Iron Horse Mitts pattern, and I'm really pleased that I decided to do that.  Though I do think the original pattern designer might have used more than one color of yarn, since it occasionally refers to the Main Color (MC) and Contrast Color (CC) but the mitts in the pattern photo are one color, so once I determined that I was truly not missing something important, I was good to go.  I won't be adding leather palms to them, because I don't really like them that way, and also we try to avoid leather when we can.

I'm very pleased with the first one, and will get started on the second later today or tomorrow.  I think it will be very doable to have them both completed well in time to give as a Christmas gift.  It's also a good feeling to know that I was able to do something new (to me at least) successfully, so it's a real boost for the day!

Down the road, I may even make a pair for myself ... :-)

27 November 2017

Monday Miscellany

Back to work Monday.  Ugh.  It had to happen, and obviously I survived.  But still, Ugh.

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit scattered and don't really only have one single thing to talk about, so I'm doing a brain dump as it were.  Hey, it happens.

I did a fair amount of knitting over the long holiday weekend.  I really didn't make it much farther than the picture I showed the other day on the fingerless mitts for The Tim.  I had planned to work on them yesterday while he was at work, but got myself into a cleaning frenzy and spent the better part of the day and all of my energy on that.  Not only did I decided I should seize the moment when I could, but we are having some family visiting this coming weekend, so I thought I'd clean up sooner rather than later.

I got myself seriously in the zone though on my For the Birds sweater.  I have it in my brain that I would like to finish it before the end of the year, just because.  And that may actually happen!  The front is finished, and shoulder seams are on waste yarn, awaiting the back being finished so I can do a three-needle bindoff.  Then just the neckline and the short sleeves.  I think I can, I think I can!

I also started a  pair of holiday socks for myself, but I'm saving that to show you later in the week.

I do have a funny story.  I already shared this on Facebook, so some of you may have already read it.  Anyway, yesterday I decided to go to church in the earlier part of the morning.  This particular Mass was one where they collect the younger children to go and spend some time crafting so their parents can have some quiet time.  There was one kid who very dramatically clomped up the aisle towards the group and the priest, wearing a #11 Carson Wentz jersey.  The priest always has a little chat with the kids before they leave.  He said, "Well, now Thanksgiving is over, and we have been thankful for our friends and family.  What are we getting ready for next?"  Fully expecting the response to be "Christmas," perhaps hoping to hear, "Advent," but before any of the others could respond, #11 said, "E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES!"  It took the priest a good five minutes to recover, he was laughing so hard.  I love when stuff like that happens.  (BTW, some little girl then said, "Advent," so we were all saved from damnation ...)

This morning, Pip had a checkup with the new vet we are taking the cats to see.  Milo already visited a month or so ago.  The Tim took Pip, and said that he was very good, and was quite popular.  Apparently, one of the people there said, "He's a lot different from Milo, isn't he?"  Oh, you have NO idea!  :-)

As is my usual practice, I'm trying to figure out what to read during Christmastime.  Of course, I'll read "regular" books, but I love reading books that take place during Christmas.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.  Mysteries are fine, memoirs, fiction are fine.  I'm not one much for sappy romances, though.  But suggest away, sometimes I surprise myself!

Are any of you watching the TV show "Godless"?  It's a western, and so far, we've watched two episodes, and it's pretty good. I like westerns, when they don't involve just a bunch of shootouts.  Admittedly, I watched a ton of cowboys vs. Indians movies as a kid, even though they would likely be appalling by today's standards.  But this one so far is more about good and evil, and though there are Native American characters, the main focus is on the hunt for a gunslinger and the survival of a town where most of the men were killed in a mining accident.  Yeah, I know, not necessarily cheery, but well-done.

I guess that's enough for now.  I hope you also made it through your Monday relatively unscathed. :-)


26 November 2017

Quiet November Sunday


Choices
by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain.  But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

25 November 2017

Recipe : Irish Brown Bread

Hello and happy Saturday!  Our Internet has been slow and/or non-existent for the past couple of days, so I am waayy behind on responding to any comments that have an e-mail address that I know.  So please don't think I'm blowing you off - things seem to have settled a bit, so you should be hearing from me all at once.  :-)

When the weather gets chilly, I enjoy baking even more than usual.  Of course, soon we'll be making cookies and other goodies as part of our Christmas celebration, but today I'm sharing my simple recipe for Irish Brown Bread.  This bread is so easy, and incredibly yummy - especially if you are lucky enough to have some Kerrygold butter to spread on it!  Even if you don't, it's good with just about anything on it, and is a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or a bowl of soup.

Irish Brown Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; grease bottom and sides of either a round cake pan, or two loaf pans and set aside.

You will need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup regular bread flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, regular bread flour, wheat germ, oatmeal, and baking soda.  Make sure they are all well mixed together, and then add the egg and buttermilk (these two ingredients make the dough soft and easy to handle).  Mix by hand until well blended.

Form into one large round loaf if you are using a round cake pan; or, put the batter into two loaf pans.  Cut a deep cross into the loaf.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.  Let bread cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan.

Wrapped loaves freeze well.

******

I hope if you give this a try, you'll like it!

24 November 2017

And It's All Good

Hello there - I hope all of you had a good day yesterday, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.  Ours was lovely.  We all spent the day relaxing, particularly the kitties, who could be found in various permutations of this all day long.


Not that we were any more energetic - though we did get up a few times to move along things for dinner.  And dinner was really yummy, with of course lots of leftovers, which is part of the reason we always cook so much - we love Thanksgiving leftovers!  The Tim's pumpkin pie was especially good this year.  Apparently he did something different, but was not willing to disclose the secret.  As long as I get to enjoy said pie, I really don't care, you know?

He's been at work all day, and I have had a both productive and relaxing day.  I got up later than my usual time, but still nice and early to head out for a chest x-ray.  It's walk-in, and I have learned that if you get there shortly after they open, you are in and out almost before you can hang up your coat.  That taken care of, I came back home for a cup of tea, and a little break to get some laundry going, and then ventured out for some gift cards.

If you are in the Philadelphia area, and want to go out on Black Friday to do some shopping, but don't want to deal with the ridiculous crowds, I can attest to the fact that in Center City, there are more people than on a usual weekend day, but no crazy crowds, since most people would rather go to a mall.  So I headed to Lululemon and Lush for some gift cards for my Arizona great-nieces and -nephew.  I stood in line a grand total of *maybe* ten minutes combined for both places.  I was home again in under an hour.  As the day goes on, it does get busier, but as I said, there are never crazy crowds.  And the kids that I was buying gift cards for fall into the category of people who would rather choose their own gifts, and I know they like both of those stores.  So it's win-win as far as I'm concerned.

Then I had the chance to work on some knitting.  Since The Tim wasn't home, I decided to work on the fingerless mitts I'm making for him.  I had gotten to the point where the thumb gusset was finished, and wanted to see if I could get another chunk knitted today.


I'm pleased with how they are coming along.  (Can you see my reindeer stitch marker in the upper left?)  I've still been trying to work on them when he's not around, and though it's working well, today I screwed up a few times, so what could have been A LOT of progress turned out be an acceptable amount.  I got the hole for the pinky finger set up, and the ring finger finished.


The pattern is not overly difficult.  Like most things, it's fairly straightforward, if you pay attention and read what you are actually supposed to be doing!  Apparently, I felt that was only partially necessary ... until suddenly things weren't quite working out like I had expected.  So it was time to do some un-knitting, and then setting things up the way the instructions read.  At which point I was able to go along quite easily.  My next chance to work on them when he is not around will be on Sunday, so maybe I can actually finish this first one, who knows?  In any event, I'm happy with what I've been able to get done so far.

So that's been today.  We'll have some leftovers for dinner, and then probably watch some shows we've recorded, and it will have been a good day.  I'm always happy when it works that way!

23 November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!


"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts
are conscious of our treasures"
-- Thornton Wilder

22 November 2017

Fathers and Eves

Every year on this day, I always think of how - also every year on this day - I would say to my father, "Why is today not Thanksgiving Eve?"  And he would always respond with some version of, "Well, technically it is, but people just don't call it that."  I seldom asked this of my mother, since her response was *always* "Oh for God's sake!" and she seemed annoyed, so I just figured it was better to get an actual answer from my father.

And that was always the first of about a million questions I would have for my dad while I "helped" him fix Thanksgiving dinner.  He was always the cook on holidays, which we loved because although he would use every pan and bowl, etc. in the kitchen, he was a really good cook.  He would begin the night before, cleaning the turkey and starting the stuffing.  My sisters were enough older that they had their own things they liked to do, but nope, I was always available to spend time with my dad.  I'm 99.9999999% sure that I spent most of the time talking, asking "important" questions, and generally making him wish he was out of town, but to his credit, he always let me stick around and in the end, I learned a LOT.  (So much so, that when I still lived at home and my sisters were married and living in other places, they would call me to find out how to cook a turkey- ha!)

But I have to tell you that as a kid, I really gave way to much thought to "eves."  I guess because Christmas got an Eve, and so did New Year's, and those were big deals.  I tried to make Thanksgiving Eve and Birthday Eve happen but to no avail.  Easter doesn't need an Eve, because it has Holy Saturday.  As I got older, I realized that no one a) cared as much as I did about it, and b) that they also didn't want to hear me go on about it.  Go figure.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving Eve.  Make it a good one.  :-)


21 November 2017

In Which I Amuse Myself With Another Q&A

For the past few weeks, Nance has done a Q&A, related to whatever is on her mind at the time.  I've loved reading them, and kept meaning to post my answers, but then I would get distracted by it being National Eat a Cookie Day, or I'd think about pie, or whatever I was going to write about otherwise HAD to be posted then.  (Mostly though, I'd forget altogether.)

But this is the week, so here we go!

1.  Turkey - white meat or dark?

Since we don't eat turkey, neither one.  But back when I did eat meat, I liked white meat if there was gravy, but dark meat otherwise.

2.  Cranberries?

YES!  I love cranberries.  My family has a tradition that they must be served in a dish that is too small.  This is only because my mother would buy canned cranberry sauce, and always put it in a bowl that spilled over onto the tablecloth.  Then she would curse, and we would be amused, and she would get disgusted with us, and a tradition was born!

3.  Single most favorite food of Thanksgiving dinner?

STUFFING.  Always and forever.

4.  How do you feel about stores being open on Thanksgiving?

In the overall sense of things, I'm against it.  I think there should be some days when things except for hospitals, police, fire, etc. should be closed.  But I also realize that for some people, working on a holiday could mean getting paid time and a half, so if it's voluntary, that's fine with me.  But I also think it should be voluntary, not required.

5.  Dog show, football, or parade?

We usually start the day watching the parade.  During which time we complain because instead of seeing a lot of the bands and floats, they show lip-synced performances of people we either don't know or that make us stabby.  Then I must have my yearly rant about how they need to go back to having the Rockettes precede Santa and his sleigh, because that should be a law.  However, not watching the parade is NOT an option!  Then I usually watch most of the dog show, and The Tim sees some of it, but he is usually downstairs starting the brown-and-serve rolls he makes to go with dinner.  We don't go out of our way to watch football, but sometimes, part of a game will be on in-between other things.  More as background than active watching.

6.  Pies?

Yes, thank you.  The Tim makes a mean pumpkin pie, I have to say.  Since there are only the two of us, we don't make more than one pie, since we generally already have enough food that if 20 people happened to show up, we cold feed them. 

7.  Are pets invited?

Is the Pope Catholic?  OK, so they are not invited in the sense that they have a place setting at the table.  But they always get something special for their own dinners on holidays.

8.  Do you have a dress code?

In that we will both get cleaned up for dinner, I guess we do.  But not in the sense that a certain type of attire is either expected or required. 

What about you?  Do you have thoughts on any of these topics that you feel like sharing?

20 November 2017

Thanksgiving Week Q and A

Hello Monday people - not that I think you are enjoying Monday necessarily, but that's what day it is, and you are people, so there you go.

We had a great weekend, celebrating The Tim's birthday.  Thanks to everyone who wished him a Happy Birthday, he was really pleased that so many of you wished him well.  Our dinner out on Saturday evening was especially good, and the performance of Eugene Onegin was both enjoyable and really well done.  Amanda and Pat had to leave early yesterday morning, since they were getting guests for Thanksgiving, and The Tim had to work, so I spent the day catching up on some things.  Last night we watched some of the Eagles vs. Dallas game (neither of us could stay up late enough to see the whole thing), and it's so exciting that the Eagles won!  So all the way through to the end of the weekend, things were good.

It's been a while since I took part in Kathy B's Monday Q&A, but today seemed like a good chance to jump in.  :-)

1.  Do you knit anything from memory without a pattern?

I can knit a basic Seaman's Scarf from memory, and most of a pair of socks, though I have to get my instructions for turning the heel.

2.  What is your healthy goal for Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve?

a) Lose a few pounds
b) Gain under 5 pounds
c) Maintain your current weight

I guess I would choose c, though to be honest, I try not to worry too much about it over the holidays.

3.  Have you ever given up on a yarn?

Oh yes!  I've gotten to a point sometimes where it becomes so tangled, I just toss it and move on.  It doesn't necessarily make me happy to do that, but there is a point where it's no longer worth it for me to keep working on the untangling.

4.  When you go on a road trip, where do you stop for a snack or a meal?

A lot of our trips involve the Pennsylvania Turnpike, or I-95 towards Baltimore.  We usually stop at one of the rest stops where there is a Starbucks, and if we are stopping for food, look for a Popeye's (biscuits!) or our local fave, the Wawa (everything!).

5.  What is your favorite state to drive through?  

I don't know I have a favorite.  I can tell you that I used to absolutely HATE it when we would drive from one part of Indiana to another when we lived there and would go to The Tim's sister's house for Thanksgiving.  It was just too flat and boring for me.  Sorry Indiana natives, just not for me.

6.  Does anyone polish silver anymore?

I'm sure they do.  I have a very few pieces of my mother's that I polish when we use them for special occasions.  Since I don't have to do it a lot, and it's not a job, I don't mind when I do have some to polish.

7.  Do you own an knit-themed coffee mug?

Yes, a few of them.

8.  You have been asked to knit a scarf for a movie.  What movie do you want your scarf in?  

I'd be more likely to be picky about who would be wearing the scarf, though at this time of year, I'd love to have my scarf in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," or "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

9.  Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise?

I'm not crazy about either one.  I was never much of a type for mayo or mayo-type condiments.

10.  Something you are thankful for today.

A short work week!  A three-day week is always good as far as I'm concerned, and when it's right before a holiday, even better.  (Though I do agree with the sentiment below ...)


19 November 2017

Quiet November Sunday


Thanksgiving for Two
by Marjorie Saiser

The adults we call our children will not be arriving
with their children in tow for Thanksgiving.
We must make our feast ourselves,

slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates, 
potatoes and green beans,
carried to our table near the window.

We are the feast, plenty of years,
arguments.  I'm thinking the whole bundle of it
rolls out like a white tablecloth.  We wanted

to be good company for one another.
Little did we know that first picnic
how this would go.  Your hair was thick,

mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff
to look over our storybook plain.  We chose
our spot, as high as we could, to see

the river and the checkerboard fields.
What we didn't see was this day, in
our pajamas if we want to,

wrinkled hands strong, wine
in juice glasses, toasting 
whatever's next,

the decades of side-by-side,
our great good luck.

18 November 2017

Happy Birthday Saturday


Today is The Tim's birthday!  Here he is above with his cake (just kidding!).

So far, it's been like most Saturdays - he got up and went to the gym, came home and had a bagel for breakfast, and just now he left the house to go and get a haircut.  I offered to make him a special breakfast, etc., but he said no, he just wanted his usual bagel.  Clearly we do not have the same approach to things.  :-)

However, the rest of the day will be the way we usually celebrate, with some extra fun thrown in.  My niece Amanda and her husband Pat are on their way from Baltimore.  Once they arrive, we'll do cake and presents, and then later we have dinner reservations at a new restaurant that opened a couple of weeks ago.  Then after dinner, we have tickets to an opera (Eugene Onegin) performed by students of the Curtis Institute of Music.  Pat has never been to an opera, so we bought tickets for all of us.  It should be a fun day and evening, and the best part is that today is Saturday, so the weekend has just begun!

It's always nice when a birthday falls on a weekend, I think.  And in the case of The Tim's birthday, it's followed up with Thanksgiving shortly after, which is a lovely bonus, if you ask me.

I hope your weekend is going well, and that you have a chance to enjoy it. Treat yourself!

17 November 2017

Old Photo Friday


My sisters and I at Bear Mountain, NY, probably 1960 or early 1961.  At that time, we lived in Teaneck, NJ, and used to go to Bear Mountain pretty regularly.  I'm not sure why, as we did not ski, hike, or do other winter sports.  But I do remember it was fun, and there are very few pictures of the three of us, so this one is special.

I also remember thinking that my jacket was quite the thing.  No one else had a plaid jacket with a hood, you know ...

Have a cozy weekend!

16 November 2017

Three Kinds of People Who Make Me Stabby

Well hello there, and welcome to this week's Three on Thursday!


Now just as a disclaimer, when I participate in this, I really do try to think of three things that are funny, happy, interesting, etc., because in spite of my personality, I don't want to go out of my way to post mean or terrible things. But to borrow a phrase, sometimes in the course of human events, people get to be too much for me, and I have to get some things off my chest. 

Thus is born this week's list:

 Three Kinds of People Who Make Me Stabby

I want to emphasize before I begin that I really and truly don't care what people do or think or say in their private lives and minds.  And if I actually ask you something, and you answer in a way that annoys me, I may be annoyed but I don't care because I asked you in the first place.  But the types below are those who must proclaim themselves, even if no one has asked them in the first place.

1.  The Noble Intellectual.  We all know at least one of these people.  Someone will mention how much they like a certain movie, TV show, book, celebrity, etc., and The Noble Intellectual proclaims, "I don't own a TV, I find it a waste of my time," or (this one is one of my co-workers), "I only read the classics, preferably in the original language."  

I always want to respond by saying something like, "Oh thank God someone here has taste and dignity!  I've always wondered if I'm the only person who has read the Bible from cover to cover in the original Aramaic."  I do practice self-control and keep my mouth shut, but it irritates the noodles out of me that there is always a person who clearly feels embarrassed that they were lowly enough to bring it up in the first place.

2.  The *Truly* Generous.  I'll say something like, "I had so much fun wrapping birthday/ Christmas/Arbor Day gifts this weekend," and The Truly Generous will proclaim, "We don't waste money on gifts, since we don't need to only give them on certain days, we love each other all year.  We make a huge donation to The World's Most Important Charity in honor of the holidays, because we feel that is the true meaning of giving."  

Puh-leeeeze.  I was always taught that true charity is giving your time, money, whatever, because you feel it is something you want to do, and that it is not something you go out of your way to point out to others, because that is not what giving is about.  Pointing out your own generosity is not just annoying, it's rude.  A lot of us are generous people, we just don't feel the need to let the world know every time we do something kind.  A lot of us would love to be able to give to specific organizations or causes, but don't have the luxury of extra money.  And a lot of people  enjoy wrapping up a gift - large or small - to give to someone else, even if they have also donated a million dollars to The Fund for Shutting Up The Truly Generous.

3.  The Annually Horribly Offended by Decorations.  These are people who are not just dismayed that retailers start with Christmas/holiday decorations or products near or right after Halloween, but somehow are convinced that no one else has noticed, and they are so affected by this offense, that they are unable to continue to enjoy ANYTHING.  

Spoiler alert: I don't know anyone who is thrilled with this, even the retailers themselves.  But they are in business to sell things and believe it or not, people actually buy things before December starts, and besides this happens every single freaking year.  And apparently, they are absolutely incapable of ignoring it.  These are generally the same people who regularly ignore signs saying "Please wait until your number is called," or, "Pedestrians have the right of way," or the homeless person on the street that they pass on a regular basis.  But I guess those situations are somehow different.

As you may have guessed, I have recently been around the above types to the point where it makes me want to scream.  But because I am a Superior and Controlled Person, I have not physically attacked them, nor have I placed anything dangerous into their food or drink.  And I felt the need to proclaim that, so you would be sure to know.  ;-)

15 November 2017

Cuffed!

Look - it's a cuff!  

So far, that is what I have done on the pair of fingerless mitts for The Tim that started out possibly being for his birthday (which is this Saturday), but are now going to be a Christmas gift.  Paired with my bag from Evertotes that celebrates Canada's 150th anniversary, it actually looks quite festive!


I have no doubts that I will have the project completed for a Christmas gift, it's just that I haven't spent time working on it over the last week, since I was determined to finish the socks in the previous post.  The biggest problem is that I would prefer not to work on them when he is around, but that might not work out.  I'll just tell him they are a gift, he doesn't need to know they are for him!

Today is Unraveled Wednesday, so in addition to my knitting, I should tell you what I'm reading.  On my way to work this morning, I returned the copy of The Resurrection of Joan Ashby that I had borrowed to the library.  It's a no-finish for me, as I just couldn't get into it and didn't care about Joan Ashby enough to make myself continue.  It was a bit disappointing, because I had read reviews that made it sound really interesting.  Oh well.

I'm also reading Buried, about a series of murders of librarians (!) that a true-crime author decides to investigate.  So far, I'm finding it interesting because, come on, WHO WOULD MURDER A LIBRARIAN???  ;-)  Having said that, even if I decide I don't like it as it goes on, I'm not out anything, since it was an e-book freebie for my Nook.

What are you up to reading and knitting wise?  Inquiring minds want to know!

14 November 2017

The Story of My For the Birds Top

Hello all!  Thanks for your kind and supportive comments on my last post about my finished socks.  They are safely tucked away in my Box o' Socks, and I do think by the time I open the box and then wear them that I will feel much more favorably inclined towards them.  :-)

Do you remember a while back I posted this picture, showing the beginning of a work-in-progress?


The pattern is Main Street, and the photo above is about halfway through the bottom border of the top.  In between finishing my Cranberry Custom Fit sweater and the Annoying Pumpkins socks, I've been working on it for bits of time here and there, especially since I have reached the stockinette portion, which is perfect for knitting while watching TV or podcasts, etc.  At the moment, it looks like this:


My photographic skills and lighting, however, cannot really show the lovely shade of the yarn, so here is the link for you to get a better idea of how it actually looks.

OK, so now on to the rest of the story.  

When I decided to try to knit this pattern, I didn't have enough of any stash yarn to use.  However, I did have a store credit at Hidden River Yarns, so The Tim and I drove over there one weekend day to take a look.  My friend (and the owner) Lisa was there, and with her help I decided on the Tern yarn from Quince & Co., and also decided to try a color other than the usual blues and greens that make up most of my sweaters and knitted tops.  We decided on the colorway Dusk, shown on their website in the link provided above.  I was able to get what I needed for making this pattern with my store credit, which was exciting because it was "free" (yes, I know not really, but work with me here).

So I had nice yarn, a pattern I wanted to knit named for a type of bird, and then there was the dye lot - 007!  (Cue James Bond theme.)

And so, this became my For the Birds Top.

Why, you ask? 

Tern = bird
007 = James Bond

But James Bond is not quite who you think he is.  Nope, not the REAL James Bond.

Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond 007 stories, was an amateur birder.  He was very conscientious, keeping lists of birds he had seen, where he saw them, etc.  At the time he was creating his master spy detective, he was also reading a book (possibly Birds of the West Indies), written by James Bond.

WAIT? What?

Yep, James Bond was an actual person, and a well-known ornithologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.  He and Fleming even met a few times.  Reports say that he got tired of people asking him about his name, unless it got him a good table at a restaurant.  :-)

Now, this is all highly amusing to me.  And so, when I started knitting a sweater in a bird-named yarn, with a dye lot number of the master spy, I just *had* to call it For the Birds, to entertain myself!  


James Bond, 007


Another James Bond, 007


Most recent James Bond, 007


The REAL James Bond, noted ornithologist.

And *that* my friends, is the rest of the story!

13 November 2017

Thank the Lord These Are an FO!

This past Saturday, I was determined to do one particular thing.  And I did! 


Project:  Annoying Pumpkins
Pattern:  Little Pumpkins, by Sabine Ruppert (a freebie)
Yarn:  Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Oregon Red Clover Honey
Needles:  US size 1 1/2
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I like the finished socks.  I absolutely hated knitting these!  The pattern was very fiddly, and sometimes hard to understand.  I had to go to someone else's notes to figure out parts of it.  Now keep in mind, the pattern writer is German, and I am suspecting that English is not her first language (of course, I'm sure it's better than my German could ever be ...), so that might be part of it.  But mainly there was just too much going on all the time for me.  Once I finished the first one, I seriously considered not doing the pattern repeats each time on the second.  But then I decided that in for a penny, in for a pound, so to speak.

I know others have made these and didn't have issues with the pattern, so it may very well be me.  I like textured and/or patterned socks, I guess I just prefer it in smaller doses.  And as you can see, I managed to survive, so it may very well be that my issues are just so  much blather.  These will go into my Box o' Socks, and hopefully by the time I open said box and wear them, all of my feelings will have moved on.

The yarn was great to work with - very smooth, and takes stitch definition really well.  This was my first pair made with Socks That Rock yarn, and I did enjoy using it.  The color is also perfect, so that made me happy.

Here's a bit closer look at the stitch pattern that creates the pumpkin-looking texture.


I knit these for the I ♥ Fall KAL hosted by Dee and Vera, and that was fun.  But I REALLY hope they are not prize-eligible, as the prize is getting them finished and out of my life!

So, on to the next thing, yet to be decided.  I'm happy with the way these turned out, but I also have to say #neveragain.