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

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


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.

12 November 2017

Quiet November Sunday

Anthem for Doomed Youth
by Wilfred Owen

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning, save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Hear this poem read here.

11 November 2017

Veterans Day

With thanks to those who have done, and still do, a job that makes it possible for all of us to have our choices and freedoms. And thanks to their families who give up so much.

10 November 2017

Furball Friday

I would have posted earlier today, but I couldn't get to my laptop, because someone else
was "using" it in the cubbyhole where it lives ...

as a bed.  Pip says he hopes you have a relaxing weekend!

09 November 2017

Unrelated But Interesting

Hello there - it's time for Three on Thursday, and today I am sharing three things that I came across recently and found interesting, though not related to one another.

The first is from a few months ago, and I kept forgetting to share it.  This article is about yarn that generates its own electricity!  As it turns out, we won't be knitting with it, which given my habit of having a cup of tea or something while I knit, is probably just as well.  It would be incredibly ironic if my tea spilled and I was electrocuted to death by the yarn.  In any event, I found it to be kind of fascinating.

I kept seeing people refer to a brouhaha that erupted as a result of something in the most recent Laine Magazine.  I didn't know what it was until I found a link to the Instagram post that started the whole thing.  I find the whole thing ridiculous, to be honest, and am never as amazed as when people take *personal* offense at something that was not about them in the first place, and then feel the need to let the rest of us know how offended we should be as well.  This whole thing, in my opinion, is seriously much ado about nothing.

I laughed a few times when I read this, since I am one of those people who are always listening to others' conversations when I am out in public.  Obviously, only when they are talking loud enough for me to hear, it's not like I break in to the group and sit there to listen!  But though there are aspects of this that are just too bad (no one likes to be lied to), the tweets amuse me greatly.

We're almost to the weekend - YAY!

08 November 2017

Major Adjustments

Thank you so much for all of your kind comments about my finished sweater!  When I got home yesterday, and changed my clothes, I thought as I put it away, "I made this!"  It was a nice feeling. I doubt I'll become a big-time sweater knitter (mainly because a sweater's worth of yarn costs a lot of money, even if the yarn isn't a luxury brand!), but I'm a lot less hesitant about the concept now.  So until I get hit in the face with a major failure, I plan to try it all again.

Today I wanted to share something with you about being fortunate but also having to pay more attention to what you do, what you buy, and how you spend your money.  I thought you might find it helpful as a different way of thinking about what you can/cannot do during the holidays.  (Please note, I am not a certified financial advisor, nor do I play one on TV!)

Back in May,  a week or so before Memorial Day, The Tim quit his job.  He had been working for Barnes & Noble for 20 years, most of that time as an assistant store manager.  And he LOVED it.  From what I can tell/what I have heard, he was also really good at it.  About a year and a half ago, a new store manager was hired who was, from all accounts, a real piece of work.  By the time the first year of this person's time there was over, The Tim was one of only a few of the employees - managers and booksellers alike - left from the original group of people that worked there previous to that, most of whom had been there for quite a while, though not as long as he had been.  (Most employees were part-time, so in any given store, there are not many full-timers.)

The Tim complained about this manager quite a bit (which is NOT a part of his personality at all.  I'm the official Family Complainer), and even discussed a few issues with the District Manager, who for reasons unknown still always thought this person walked on water.  Back in April, The Tim mentioned that he really got the feeling that the manager was looking for a reason to fire him, and would not stop at making something up.  So he told me he was going to quit.

This still shocks me, to be honest, because in all of the years we have been married (going on 40!), this is only the fourth job he has had.  In each of the other cases, he either got a promotion, or we moved someplace because he was offered a job.  So I understood that things must have really been unbearable for him.  The good news was that because he had been there for so long, his severance package meant we would have our health insurance and his regular pay for a three-month period.  I am 99% sure he thought he would have something else by then, and things would go along as usual.

I could have told him differently, but considered it none of my beeswax, since he has always been able to find things without much trouble.  But as I was finding out, no matter how qualified you might be, and no matter how level the playing field is supposed to be, no one wants to hire someone over 60.

So eventually his salary stopped, and so did our health insurance.  Fortunately (but only to a point) I could get insurance through my job.  It's incredibly crappy, but I guess it's better than nothing.  It also means that more than 1/2 of my monthly check goes towards paying for that, and trust me, things have gotten tricky!

Here's the good thing though:  we both are really good at being poor.  I grew up that way, he grew up a step above that, and we were living on fumes for most of our married life before.  So we know we can do it again.  However, when you are used to having a bit of a cushion and good health insurance, there are a lot of adjustments to be made!

A few weeks ago, he did start working three-days a week at Avis/Budget Rent-a-Car as a Fleet Manager, which basically means he takes cars from the main office here back and forth to the airport rental places, and others in the area.  He loves to drive, so that part works.  And though he is paid very little and there are not benefits, he gets paid every two weeks, which means we are not going with only my monthly paycheck.

OK, that was long-winded to get us here.  But anyway, I realized a few weeks ago that this was not a year I had been planning to knit Christmas gifts for everyone, so I would need to figure out a way to still have something to give without a) knitting my fingers to the bone and Making Arthritis Great Again, and b) not having to spend a lot of money.  And yes, I know I don't have to give any gifts - but I LOVE doing it, and want to if I can in any way.

The good news is, I think I have figured it out, and it will still be enjoyable for me.  :-)

I came across a site recently that had an easy recipe for making sugar scrubs using sugar (duh) and essential oils.  There is a place nearby that has essential oils and they are very reasonably priced.  Plus, we always have sugar, especially when baking during the holidays.  Idea #1.

I also saw and printed out a pattern for mini-heating pads, where you sew the fabric pieces, fill them with rice and sew the last seam, and then they can be microwaved for 30-45 seconds to put on a sore muscle, or a headache, etc.  We have TONS of rice all the time, and I have a small fabric stash.  Idea #2.

For any of the male persuasion, I have an idea of a small but inexpensive gift that I can buy for each of them.  A local coffee place is near our house, and my nieces and spouses who have visited and tried it are obsessed with it.  They will get coffee, particularly since a discount is offered when you buy more than one bag.  Idea #3, and the one that will cost the most, but still not much, especially considering the two above will be incredibly inexpensive.

So only the littlest kiddos are left, and I have a small stash of gifts that I've just bought now and then for giving at some time in the future, meaning I should be all set.

I cannot tell you how much better I felt once I got this all worked out!  I love giving small gifts at holiday time, and would have been truly disappointed if I had not been able to have anything.

I'll let you know as I go along if this works/doesn't work, but I think this will be successful.

As for The Tim and any gifts for him - well, that's a whole 'nother post!

DISCLAIMER: We do not in any way hate Barnes & Noble - we still shop there online, and at other physical stores, just not the one near us where he worked.  

07 November 2017

The Big Reveal of a Finally Finished Object

Hello all!  I do hope you have done your civic duty and voted today.  I was voter #7 at my polling place.  I was talking to one of the workers, recalling how last year at this time, I was at the polls when they opened, like I was today, but there was already a line down the block and around the corner, and I was voter #100-something.  She said, "Ah yes. Back when we were all so hopeful."

But remember, all politics is local.  If you don't vote - nothing will ever change.  Ever.

Citizenship lecture ended.  On to the knitting.

Over the years (yes, years!) I have talked about my Custom Fit sweater.  Either that I was knitting it, that I was going to knit it, and/or how I wanted to finish it.  

Here's a brief recap:

October 2014 - I took a class teaching the Custom Fit method of knitting a sweater, created by Amy Herzog, at Loop here in Philadelphia.  I was extremely excited to take the class, and to see how the sweater would turn out.  Not ever having knit a sweater that really looked that good on me, I wanted to see if it was possible (two previous attempts had been questionable at best).  I purposely purchased inexpensive yarn, so that if things went downhill, I would not have invested a fortune in this project.

Zoom!  I was off!  I had the front knit pretty quickly.  But instead of starting the back right then, I put the whole thing aside to work on Christmas gifts.  I picked it up again and knit approximately 1/2 of the back, when I got to a part of the pattern where I was supposed to have gradually decreased to x number of stitches long ago, but I had many, many more.

For a few weeks, I frogged 2-3 rows at a time, until I got to the point where I should have started the decreases.

Then I put it down because probably something shiny grabbed my attention, or it was Christmastime again, or I wanted pie.  Or really anything else.  Or all of the above.

[Time passes.]

Eventually, I realized that the sweater was a) still someplace with all of my knitting stuff, and b) still waiting to be finished.  I found it, and would have gotten going again, but ... the Koodle had revenge peed on the project bag.  And the pages of the pattern.  But amazingly, not on the yarn or sweater pieces!  The project bag was laundered, the pages photocopied, and I was ready to go again.

Except I couldn't find the notes letting me know where I'd left off.  I decided to measure the piece in progress, count the stitches, and then find the spot in the pattern where I *thought* I probably was.  If I started knitting again, and things were going well, I'd continue.  Otherwise, I'd rip out the whole thing and forget about the project altogether.

Well, it worked!  The back, and the two sleeves were finished in no time!

And then ... they sat for a few months.  Finally, I washed and blocked them.  Then realized I remembered nothing about how to seam pieces together.  Enter my friend Kathy, who showed me how to do it one Saturday afternoon last month.  A few weeks later, it was all put together, the ends were woven in, and all it needed was the neckline.

No big deal, right?

One Sunday I sat down with the Eagles game on TV and started to pick up stitches for the neckline.  Then I knit the neckline.  Then I started binding off.  And it looked like crap, and also would not lie flat.  So I put out a call on Facebook to my knitting friends asking about bindoffs for 1 x 1 rib.  I got a lot of suggestions, but my friend Andrea linked to a YouTube video. I watched it, and to be honest, was really confused.  But then on the right side of the screen, were other videos relating to similar topics.  

And that is how I learned the Tubular Bind Off.  And that is how my sweater was FINALLY finished!  Three years to the day I cast on!  Ridiculous, but also pleasing to me in symmetry.

I give you the FO:

Pattern:  Custom Fit, by Amy Herzog
Yarn:  Berrocco Vintage, colorway Sour Cherry, 4 whole skeins and about 1/2 of a fifth
Needles:  US size 8
Modifications:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????
Notes:  Most of them are in the rambling paragraphs above.  As mentioned I used the Tubular Bind Off, with a most excellent tutorial, found here.

The finished neckline.

The back - you can see my seaming needs some work, but I'm fine with it how it is!

Et voila!  The front!

My thanks to Andrea for taking the "modeled" shots this past Sunday after we met for coffee.  :-)

What are my thoughts?  Well, I'm wearing it today, and it's super comfy.  I love the color, though I have to admit that the yarn has already started to pill.  :-(  However, I still have a finished sweater after all of this time, and it FITS, and I really like it.  I can see wearing it a lot.

The really weird thing?  I think  I want to try knitting another sweater ... never say never, I guess!

06 November 2017

Knitting of the Past

Do you have any family heirlooms that were knitted and/or crocheted?  Sometimes when I go into a second-hand, or "antiques"store, and see things like doilies, tablecloths, or christening dresses that are clearly old, I feel bad thinking of the makers.  I think how much time and effort went into making something that was handed down as being special, and now is being sold in lots or sort of as an afterthought.

The Tim's grandmother was a crocheter, and we have some really lovely things that she made to us and gave to us for a wedding gift.  We use some of the stuff regularly, but there is a gorgeous tablecloth we don't use because it's way too big for the table we have.  A couple of my nieces have said they would like to have it, and that makes me happy.

But the knitting of the past I'm talking about are from more recent times - the 70s and 80s.  Knitters get irritated when people think of the stereotypical little old lady knitting, or the pregnant woman knitting booties for a baby.  And I get that, I really do.  But lest we forget, let me share some of the images of knitting that may also be seared into their minds.  (I know they are seared into mine now.)

This begs the question:  Why are there not more booklets and patterns based on the theme of Men in Belted Sweaters????  I guess it's a good thing this guy doesn't have a lot of chest hair, or that tie there could be painful!

This hunk is going not just for the belted sweater, but for the same color, with coordinating ascot.  I'll bet he has to beat the women off with a stick.

Moving on, people in the 70s and 80s were no slouches when it came to fashionable, knitted ski masks to deal with the cold weather.

I swear to God that even in the bright light of day, this would scare the bejeebers out of me.

Now, this is something you just KNOW jazz lovers would love to have in their closet:

She looks like one fun gal!

And as nice as the above sweater is, I think we all might prefer something more elegant, with - as advertised - some "magic" in it.


All kidding aside though, I think this last one has elements of each of the horrific examples above, and yet somehow seems jaunty and always in style.

Perhaps after the holidays, we could have a KAL for this - think how excited the men in our lives would be!  

To paraphrase another saying, just because you CAN knit it, it doesn't mean that you SHOULD.  

The 70s and 80s - Once Was Enough.