30 December 2017

The In-Between of Christmastime

(Fortunately, not like the "Upside Down" in the TV show Stranger Things ...)

This has been a good week, as any week that begins with Christmas Day should be!  This year I was able to take the week between Christmas and New Year's off (long annoying work-related story, but the ending is happy!), so it's been extra nice.

And yes, it's been frigidly cold and today it is snowing, but a) I like wintertime, and b) I'm fortunate to have warm cozy clothes and kitties to cuddle.  Lots of tea, knitting, wine, reading, laughing, yummy food and treats, seeing friends and making new ones.  For such a crap year, my end of year has been perfect.

I knew things were going well when I ventured over to Loop earlier in the week to return some yarn, and had the chance to have a fun chat with friends who work there.  (Yes, I returned yarn - after I bought it for a specific project, it just didn't speak to me when I pulled it back out.  It hadn't been wound, and I had the receipt, so now I have a store credit, which will be very exciting down the road!)  When I left there, I decided to wander into the used book store two doors down to poke around.  I asked the guy if by any chance he had any books by Barbara Pym.  She is one of my fave authors, and most of her books are out of print.  And it's even hard to track them down via the library, so I figured it was worth asking him.


Behold - two hardcovers, one paperback, all in nearly perfect condition!  Even better?  All of them combined cost me just over twenty dollars!  To say it made my day was an understatement.

Then on Thursday evening, we went out to the 'burbs to have dinner with Dee and her husband Steve, and it was wonderful because a) now they live close and we can see them, b) we love them both, and c) WE GOT TO MEET GIROUX!!!!  Oh my God, he is so adorable, and he was showing off his new Philadelphia Flyers nametag, and he is perfect!  Needless to say, he was not as impressed with us (as one would expect of a cat), but he did let me kiss him and hug him, so even if he was just being polite, I was in 7th heaven!  We had a great evening, and got to see their really lovely and festive townhouse.  They took us to dinner at this AH-MAZING Indian restaurant, and then we had some of the best cherry pie ever at their house afterwards.  It was so much fun, and it's so nice that they moved up here from Florida. 

Also, The Tim's fingerless mitts were finished after a small (HA!) blip and he loves them and they fit!

(I'll write a post about them, including the story of the blip.  It's amusing so nothing to worry about.)  I also finished my Holly Berry Socks, and today will finish my For the Birds top, as all that has been left to do for a while now is the neckline, and between being busy with other stuff and then forgetting to wind another skein of yarn, it's just been patiently waiting. 

I didn't manage to knit 12 pairs of socks for my Box o' Socks this year, but I did knit 11 pairs!

Although, according to The Tim (Mr. Atheist), I did knit twelve, because I'm the sort of person "who would knit a pair of socks for Baby Jesus to keep his feet warm, and they don't need to be corporeal" ... I have to say that amused me greatly!  I think he thought I was feeling bad that I was one pair off, and was hoping to make me feel better.  :-)

Today we are staying put and just doing things around here that we are in the mood to do.  The Tim is baking olive bread, so the house smells really wonderful right now.  I'm getting ready to fold laundry and make our cheeseball for tomorrow evening.  And we're watching/listening to "Carols from Kings" which we recorded on Christmas Eve, so it's a very pleasing day.

I hope your week has been a good one as well.  If you are in the cold/snow snap, I do hope that you and yours are all OK.  Enjoy the rest of your New Year's holiday weekend!

26 December 2017

Scenes of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Oh what a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we had!  Of course, we are still celebrating, but I thought I'd share some photos I took while we were enjoying things.

First of all - The Tim had to work on Christmas Eve, which was not in and of itself weird, since while he was at the bookstore, that was always the case.  However, in past years, he worked until the store closed at 7 p.m., and would usually get home and we would eat dinner by 8 p.m.  Not a lot of evening left after that, which was always fine, but not as good as this year by a lot!  This year he worked until 3 in the afternoon, and was home by 3:30 - it was like we had the whole day together, and that was THE BEST.

Christmas Eve while we were setting the table, etc. for dinner, Milo the Koodle sat on the chair across from the tree the entire time, and later into the evening.  We decided he was either a) hoping to catch Santa visiting, or, b) making sure Santa saw what a good boy he is (ahem). 

(He had been nervous all day (and is still recovering) from an event earlier in the day, so this is as much as we saw him.  That's a story for another post.)

We were amused at our Surprise Dinner Guest:

Who could it be???

Even though we didn't do as much decorating as usual this year due to one of The Tim's projects, our tree still looks great.

And yes, there are two Rudolph's under the tree.  The one on the right lights up and is supposed to be outside, but The Tim doesn't "want the weather to ruin him," so he stays inside ...

Jack was the first kitty to come downstairs on Christmas morning, and was quite pleased to see that Santa had in fact visited our house!

Stockings and packages were opened, toys were played with, treats were eaten, and general hilarity was the tone of the day.

The Tim put this ribbon/garland/whatever on Pip - when he was busy with something else, it was fine, but when he'd remember he was wearing it, he'd go nuts!  We took it off after a few minutes after taking this picture.

A few years ago, a friend sent our cats at that time a catnip-filled Newt Gingrich toy, and they really hated that sucker - they would attack it and tear at it, and it was hilarious.  This year, that same friend sent a catnip-stuffed version of our current Eejit in Chief, and he got a LOT of attacks, etc.  Which pleased us immensely.

Good boy, Jack.  Resist.

24 December 2017

Hope. Anticipation. Love.

There is nothing that aggravates me more than the statement that Christmas is for children.  It implies that unless you are a child, or unless you have children or can be around them, that Christmas means nothing.  The people who spout this are generally the same people who complain that Christmas is too commercial and/or that the true meaning of Christmas is forgotten.

Here's the thing about Christmas though:  You don't need to be a child to love it.  I for one love it even more as an adult than I ever did when I was little.  And if you ask me, the single most exciting day on the calendar is today, Christmas Eve.  What?  But isn't Christmas Eve just the day you have to get through so you can get to the "real" holiday?

Christmas Eve is the very last day of Advent, the season of waiting, of expectation, of hope.  We've been told something is coming, and we have been preparing, and the hope has grown.  The anticipation is at a fever pitch.

Growing up, and now, Christmas Eve is a busy - but definitely fun busy - day.  As a kid, I would wake up early and have breakfast with my dad, who was an early riser.  Everyone else would still be asleep, and we would eat, drink, and discuss the day.  I'm sure I did most of the talking, and that 99% of it involved Santa - what should we leave for him and the reindeer, did it matter if there wasn't any snow - you know, important things like that.

But the big thing at our house for Christmas Eve was the Christmas dinner.  My parents were very social, and at some point they decided that since we had so many people who stopped in on Christmas Day, it was better to have our "official" Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.  And that was as exciting as opening gifts the next day, because dinner was always full of "fancy" foods (read: things we could not regularly afford to have), and preparation happened throughout the day.  The fanciest linens came out to go on the table (after someone would iron them of course!), and - get this - we had appetizers!  Yep, every Christmas dinner started with shrimp cocktail, and if that isn't the height of living, I don't know what is.

Christmas Eve now is so much the same, but different.  The Tim usually has to be at work on Christmas Eve, as he does today.  So, the day starts with me having breakfast and planning the day with the cats.  We will decide the order of what needs to happen, which mainly involves making sure we have the ingredients for dinner, and some gift wrapping.  At some point this afternoon, I'll take a walk up to Rittenhouse Square, to be around people, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this day without needing to worry about not being ready for it.  This is the time when Dug was alive when we would put on his reindeer antlers and jingle bell collar and make people smile when they saw him.  It's not the same at all without him, but it's still part of my Christmas Eve.

Then I'll come home and start fixing our Christmas Eve Risotto.  This year, The Tim will actually be home after 3:00 instead of at 7:00, so that will be exciting!  (Though I'm guessing he'll probably take a nap, so my day will be mostly the same.)  After a leisurely meal, we'll just spend the evening relaxing and watching corny Christmas programs.  This one (but only "The Night Before Christmas" part) is an absolute must-see:

We absolutely LOVE this because it is just so ... much.  (The Tim:  "I think the Nativity one is really bad.  It looks so fake."  This is why we don't watch it.  Apparently the high quality of the first one causes the second to pale by comparison ...)

Before we head to bed, we put gifts under the tree, and put the Baby Jesus into the creche (but only after we have all given him a kiss and said, "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" ... yeah, we're weird that way).  Then we ring the sleigh bells that hang on our front door to remind Santa where we live, and it's up to him from there.

And you know what?  Every single year, when we get up the next morning, he has remembered to stop at our house!  We have stockings filled with goodies, and it's time to get Christmas Day underway.

It's the best.  But nothing beats Christmas Eve, because it's a day of Hope. Anticipation.  Love.

And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them: "Fear not:  for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.   And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."


This post is part of sprite's Virtual Advent Tour, and for another year, not only have I participated, but I've enjoyed it all.  Thanks to her for keeping it going and getting it organized so that we can all appreciate others' thoughts, traditions, and ideas for the season.

Joyous Christmas Eve to all of you!

23 December 2017

For Your Consideration on the Saturday Before Christmas Day

I used to work with a woman who had this posted on her wall.  And though I am not an overly religious person, and in some ways it's corny, I think it has some good reminders for all of us, especially at Christmastime, so I decided to share it with you today.  I hope you are enjoying the season.

1 Corinthians 13 for Christmas

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.
But giving the gift of love will endure.

22 December 2017

Festive Furball Friday of Christmases Past

I am especially missing our sweet Jetsam this Christmas season.  He used to love being involved in all of it, all the time.  (The others participate, but thankfully not every minute - let's just say they don't "get" it the way Jetsam seemed to ...)

But Christmas is as much about yesterday as today, so I'm sharing these photos with you, and I hope that you have a loved and adored one who, even if you miss them being right here to hug, makes you happy to love and remember.  

Have a Happy Christmas weekend!

 Helping The Tim check the string of lights

Looking to see if Santa's sleigh is on its way 

A kiss for Rudolph

21 December 2017

Oh For God's Sake!

(Said in the disgusted tone my mother used to use.)

Every once in a while, I remember something that I forgot to do, and it's so ridiculous that I am completely disgusted and amused with myself.  Keep in mind, I forget to do A LOT of things, but some are just too much to ignore (like I do with all the others). 

I was walking to work this morning, and trying to decide if I wanted to do a Three on Thursday post, since I didn't immediately have three things in mind.  Then I moved on to how lovely it is that tomorrow is the last day of work before Christmas, and how this year work has been so incredibly awful and stressful at work, I've gone home during the last few months exhausted and not able to accomplish much during the week.  It has been working hard to suck every last bit of Christmas joy out of me, and though I have not allowed it to completely take over, it's definitely been a factor.

It was only then that three things came to mind because I forgot to do them and OMG WHO AM I?

So here is the Oh For God's Sake List of Three Things I Forgot to Do So Far But That I Will Still Do Because I Enjoy Them and Once I Get Away From the Horror of Work It Will Be Fine.  (Yes, that is a long, run on title/sentence.  I'm not here to impress.)  It's lunch hour, so I have a chance to write this post.

1.  Send Christmas cards.  This is one of my most favorite things about Christmas - sending and receiving actual mail!  It's bad enough that so few people actually send cards any more, but I cannot believe that I forgot until now.  So they will be sent, probably this weekend, which means they will be late for Christmas Day but still received for Christmastime.  Which is the point anyway. 

2.  Wrap The Tim's gifts.  Again, something I love to do, and I don't feel as dumb about this one, as there are usually a few last-minute purchases or stocking stuffers that get wrapped on Christmas Eve anyway.  But to have none of them wrapped yet?  Ridiculous!

3.  Do more baking.  Right after Thanksgiving, I made a batch of cookies, and since then - not one.  The Tim has made some pizzelles, and a batch of peanut brittle, but I had two other kinds I wanted to make this year.  I can definitely bake them this weekend and/or next week.  But seriously.

My dream has always been to have a job that allowed me to take a lot of time off at Christmastime, even when I've had great jobs at great places.  Clearly this year, that would have been more valuable than ever!

I hope if there are any things you've forgotten, they are either a) things that are not important to you, b) that you can still get done with a minimum of trouble, c) things that no one else notices or cares about so they won't mention it, or, d) all of the above.

Happy Winter Solstice!

19 December 2017

Sugar Scrubs

It occurred to me that although I had said I was going to make this Rosemary and Peppermint Sugar Scrub for some Christmas gifts this year, I never followed up to let you know how well it did or did not work.  So today is the day to give you my report.

According to the recipe, each batch makes two cups.  I looked at several different options for jars to use, and finally decided on some clamp type jars that I got at Ikea.  

As you can see if you have looked at the recipe, it's really straightforward.  The only thing that was different for me was that it took approximately 45 to 60 seconds for our microwave to melt the coconut oil; and, I used more drops of each essential oil for scent.  

I had also considered adding some color to them, but I couldn't find any of our food coloring.  Finally, The Tim informed me where he had "put them away" after Easter last year - when I was on the last two!   But I added just a couple of drops to those, and got a lovely pale pink color.  Here's how it all looked when I was finished.

I have to say that if you need a fun but also quick gift, this is a good one!  The hardest thing for me was getting the coconut oil out of its container to put into the measuring cup to melt, as it was pretty solid.  But otherwise, it was really easy, and it was also fun to see the ingredients become a scrub.  The house smelled so good for the rest of the day after I made these!  I took the small amount left in the bowl once I was done, and put it into a small jar to use myself - it is so nice, and my hands have never been softer. :-)

The whole thing was discovered to have one drawback though - the jars are glass, which meant that sending them through the mail could be trick (no problem, bubble wrap), and well ... they ended up being kinda heavy.  So they added a bit of weight to packages.  Overall though, I still saved some money with this idea, which was the original plan.

Switching gears, I'm glad you all enjoyed Santa Pip!  He's such a funny cat - he wasn't exactly thrilled to be dressed up, but didn't really make a fuss, and seemed more puzzled than anything else.  I told him that he made people smile, and that is what Christmas is about, so I'm guessing that the real Santa will reward him for being a good boy ...

Also, we had tickets this past Saturday night for the Christmas concert by the Philadelphia Boys Choir.  It was fantastic, but I had to laugh when they started one number - "Carol of the Drums" ... or, as most of us know it, "Little Drummer Boy!"  The Tim almost had a heart attack, and at least 10 times on the way home told me he has NEVER heart it called that (neither have I).  From some of your comments a few posts back where I learned he has many compatriots in  his distaste for that carol, I thought you'd enjoy the story.

I am behind on responding to comments, but I plan to do the best that I can to catch up. Though for some of you I have either misplaced, or never had, your e-mail addresses to respond.  So please know I'm not ignoring you!  I guess I should try to respond on the blog, but I just never think to do so.  I'll get it together one of these days, honest.  :-)

15 December 2017

Festive Furball Friday

Santa Pip hopes you have a merry weekend!

13 December 2017

So Close!

Hello and Happy Wednesday!  I'm joining with Kat and everyone else today in Unraveled Wednesday, not because any unraveling has happened, but because I am thisclose to having three knitting projects finished!

On the base layer here is my For the Birds top, which needs only a neckline, woven in ends and a good blocking to be finished.  My goal was to finish it before the end of the year, and I think that - even with the other things going on related to holiday time, I can meet that goal - YAY!

The green stringy thing on the left is the second of the fingerless mitts I am making for The Tim. Two fingers done, just the index finger, pinkie finger, and thumb to go.  I thought the second one would go more quickly, but not really.  I think because I don't get to work on it as much as I'd like.  At the moment, it has still not been seen by The Tim, so I want to keep it a surprise.

On the lower right is the second of my Holly Berry Socks.  I realized when I stopped knitting the other day that I had only knit one row of each of the small rows with white at the top and bottom before the charted pattern - and you are supposed to knit two rows!  But I'm not ripping back all of it, particularly since these are for me.  Theoretically it will bug me, but I'll live.

So that's the knitting part.

As for reading, I just started How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny.  It's the next (for me) in her Armand Gamache series, and takes place at Christmastime, so it's the perfect storm of reading right now!

I hope your knitting and reading are keeping  you happy and merry these days!

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?


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


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!