29 December 2023

Almost a Wrap


It's true. In a couple of days, we'll say goodbye to 2023, whether or not we want to do that. Whether it's been a good year, a bad year, or just a regular year, the next one is coming and will bring its own packaging along with it.

But before that happens, today is my niece Amanda's 50th birthday! She will be celebrating with her husband just the way she wants to, with a weekend in Rehoboth Beach. They have some favorite places there, and she said that rather than a party, going there was the best way she could imagine to welcome her fiftieth year. This pleases me, because she deserves to spend a special birthday in a special place. When you have a birthday so soon after Christmas, a lot of people just forget about it, because they are over celebrations, or they are busy looking forward to New Year's Eve. So I can't wait to hear about her wonderful birthday weekend!

Also today is Holiday Cheeseball making day! I usually make it during the week between Christmas and New Year's, and since I finally found some nice blue cheese (why was that so hard this year??), today it will happen and it will have a couple of days to blend the flavors before we break into it for New Year's Eve.

Am I happy to see the year end? This year has been a mix of good and bad, but the most important and best part of it is that we have been together all year, and we added Miss Esmeralda to our family. Any year that we are all still together is a good year, no matter what else does or does not happen. So I'm not necessarily happy to move on to the new year because there are no guarantees it will be the same in that regard. We have to hope for the best.

Having said that, no year is all good or all bad, so 2024 will bring what it wants to bring. I hope it will be mostly good things, but I have no expectations that it will be perfect. I already know of a couple of things that I am happily anticipating, and that's always a good way to start a new year.

Here's hoping that the remainder of 2023 will be kind to you and that at a minimum, most of 2024 will have good things coming your way.

Oh and also - enjoy New Year's Eve, because:



28 December 2023

The State of the Gift Knitting

Isn't this a pretty candle? I bought this to support a local rescue and it is so nice! First of all, the scent is called "Christmas Tails" which I love, and the scent is nice and subtle. I lit this first thing on Christmas morning, and have used it a lot since then, and there is still a good amount of candle left. I'm so glad I was able to make a small contribution to this rescue, and I'm also glad the candle is such a good one.

So. Gift Knitting. Well, it started out in an excellent fashion. Do you remember this FO from early in the summer:

This is the beret I knit using some fingering weight and some mohair. Originally, I knit this for me. But then The Tim said, "You know, when I see that, I immediately think of Annie. It would be a good gift for her, and then you would already have one gift finished." Annie is one of my nieces, and I had to admit that he was right. So I decided this one would be a Christmas gift for her, and at some point I'd knit another one for me (I have enough of both yarns left). This also made me decide that Annie's family would all be getting knitted gifts this year.

So next up, I knit a Musselburgh hat for her partner:

And for his fifteen year old son AJ, I made fingerless mitts:

And I knit an Antler Toque for 10 year old Jan, and just now realized that I failed to take a photo before sending it! But it turned out really well, and hopefully will fit her.

And so, figuratively speaking, I was on fire! All that was left was to make the pair of fingerless mitts for The Tim when he lost one of the ones I'd made for him years ago. And I decided I wanted to knit him a scarf, and collected the yarns for that.

The first fingerless mitt happened pretty quickly. So I thought, well, I'll concentrate on the scarf for a while. I was feeling pretty good about getting both things finished by Christmas. 

And then.

Going along swimmingly on the scarf, I realized well into it that I had misread the pattern and made a MAJOR mistake. This really threw me for a loop, and I just had to walk away for a while. And it also meant that I didn't want to knit. At.All.Period.

So how did it all end up? Well, the good news is that I wrapped up the single fingerless mitt, and The Tim was thrilled because according to him, it was *exactly* the same color, etc. of the one he still had from his old set. I told him I would still make the second one, and he said, "Why do I need another one, now that I have a pair again?" Which on the one hand, I appreciated, but I told him I was still going to make the other one, and that way if he lost a single mitt again, he'd already have a replacement. So I cast that on last night, and managed to knit the cuff.

As for the scarf. I was so disappointed that I wasn't going to have it for Christmas for him. But after thinking about it, I decided that I can do a variation of the pattern and finish it and maybe even end up with a scarf I like better than the original design. He may receive a scarf for Valentine's Day, or ... well, Christmas comes every year, you know ... 😊

So on the one hand, I did very well with my gift knitting, finishing things in plenty of time for them to be mailed to the intended recipients. Then on the other hand (if my mother was still alive, right now she would interject, "she had warts" which amused me but also drove me nuts), I didn't finish two gifts I had been really excited to make for The Tim. I am thrilled that he was really only wanting a single mitt to go with the one he still had, because it made me feel like he received an actual gift. 

But I'm also not beating myself up at not quite meeting my goals. Both projects will still happen, and he'll receive them, so it isn't like things were a total fail. I'm more annoyed with myself than anything else, for missing a key instruction in the scarf pattern. Such is life though, and no one died, so it's all good.

The good news is that I've gotten over not wanting to knit at all and that's the best feeling. I already have approximately 4,590,270 things in mind that I would like to knit in 2024, so all that's left is to narrow it down to maybe 5 things. 

I'll keep you posted.

26 December 2023

The Fun of Christmas Day

Christmas Day was a good one at our house. It was clear when we came downstairs that Santa had decided the kitties were good in the past year - look at this haul!

Christmas morning, I lit the candle I had purchased from a local rescue group - look at the name of the scent, Christmas Tails! 😊

Alfie and Pip were up first, and giving us the stink-eye to come and help them open their packages.

Pip inspected everything, and then went and sat next to his stocking!

Everything was a big hit, but the most exciting kitty gift was this cardboard Christmas barn, where the floors were scratching pads. (It was very poorly put together by me. Fortunately, cats don't care.)

Pip checked it out first.

Then Milo took a turn.

Then both of them were in there!

At various points in the day, there were different combinations of cats in the Christmas barn. A few skirmishes, when someone would decide they wanted it all to themselves, but nothing major. And there were plenty of other distractions to keep everyone occupied.

Esme: Well, crap he's in there, I can't go in. (If you look closely, you can see Milo's face in the upper window.)'

Disapproving girl.

Everyone had a wonderful day, and the nicest thing is that we all had the chance to be together the whole time. The Tim and I also did well, gift-wise, and we agreed it was a nice, long, relaxing day and an overall success. 

Today it's rainy here, so very conducive to just staying inside and enjoying Christmastime. I'll probably do a few smallish things that I want to accomplish, but otherwise, I'm just going to enjoy a quiet, cozy, rainy day. 

Interrupted occasionally by disagreements over who gets to be inside the Christmas barn when ... 😉

24 December 2023

Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve 2023 - Love

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."
- Roy L. Smith

22 December 2023



"If wishes were fishes and cattle were kings, 
The world would be full of wonderful things."
- Unknown

I'm sure that plenty of you are busy today - either at your job (last day before the holiday weekend!), or preparing for guests, packing for a trip, etc. But no matter what, here is what I wish for you in the following days.

IF you are traveling, may your trip be uneventful and safe.

IF you are expecting guests, may your house be as good-looking as you want it to be, and may you be looking forward to seeing those on their way.

IF you are cooking and baking, may every recipe be a success, and may your stove and dishwasher be in good repair.

IF you are responsible for some event - a holiday concert, and cookie swap, a food drive - may it be a success and as stress-free as possible.

IF you still have gifts to wrap or put together, may you have a lot of coffee to keep you going until that is accomplished.

IF you still have gifts to buy, may you have good luck.

IF you have to work on the holiday, may the workday go by quickly and be as quiet as possible.

IF you are lonely, may you find a friend, even if it's just a childhood stuffed animal who shares your memories.

IF you are sad, may the day land gently.

IF you are missing someone, may memories of them comfort you.

IF you are alone, may your own company keep you company.

IF you are excited, may you enjoy every minute of anticipation.

IF you are dreading being around people that you don't like, may they have to cancel their plans.

IF you are feeling overwhelmed, may you find a few moments to gather yourself.

IF you are surrounded by dumbasses, may they all go home early.

IF you are feeling loved, may you enjoy the warmth of its embrace.

IF you are feeling happy, may you always.

IF you don't celebrate Christmas, may you at least enjoy a spirit of good-will towards others, and hopefully a long weekend.

IF you feel that the past year was awful, may the next one be better.

IF you are still able to be present, enjoy your life, and celebrate that you are above ground, may all the happiness in the world be yours.

IF you have read this far, may this weekend and the coming days be what you want, when you want it, and may your happiness stay with you long after.

21 December 2023

Winter Solstice 2023

Happy Winter Solstice!

One of my most favorite days. I know for some people it's their favorite day because it means the days will get longer, but for me it's the fact that it's the shortest amount of daylight all year. You know me - I love the darkness and the cold weather!

I don't mind telling you that I have been having a bit of a hard time lately. Mostly because of my own brain, to be honest (oh my brain - my best friend and worst enemy all at once!). Grumpy people are getting to me, and I usually don't let that happen, but there seem to be more people this year, and they seem to be grumpier. I am good at managing to keep the world and its problems in their own place, but it's really hard to tune out those surrounding you. 

BUT - today, on the Winter Solstice, I am going to pretend that all of those people do not exist. I'm meeting my friend Louise for lunch. I'm going to wrap a couple of gifts. I'm going to get ingredients to do some baking tomorrow. I'm going to set out the last of the Christmas things to go on the tree tonight. I'm going to take my time and enjoy the day with the kitties. Tonight, we'll have a good evening with The Tim, finishing the tree decorations, lighting some candles, and toasting the solstice!

Tomorrow - I'm going to dust around and clean things up so it looks as nice as it's likely to ever look around here. 😊 I'm going to clean up my nails and give myself a manicure. I'm going to wrap more gifts, and do the baking mentioned above. And of course, more cuddling with the kitties. Another nice evening with The Tim and the kit kats, and we are ready for the weekend!

And the whole time I'm at home doing things, guess what? Christmas music! 

I remember as a kid, whenever I would be in a bad mood/feeling grumpy, my mom would always say, "Well, that's fine, but let everyone else enjoy themselves even if you aren't. You have no business ruining someone else's day." 

So as of right now, I'm done with the grumps. And I've decided that since I don't absolutely *have* to be around grumpy people (I'm off work and so it's easier to avoid dealing with other humans in general), I'm going to make myself feel better. And I hope to use this as a lesson for next year and/or whenever I need it, to make a way to find my own happy and fun. Whenever I can remember to take myself and make it MY world instead of everyone else's, I do much better. 

So my wish for you this Winter Solstice is that you can do the same. Enjoy some light in the darkness, and make your own world the way you want it to be. It works.

17 December 2023

Third Sunday of Advent 2023 - Joy

 Do few things but do them well, simple joys are holy. 
- Francis of Assisi

15 December 2023

Time To Do My Own Thing

As of yesterday, all of the packages to be mailed to others are on their way, which is a good feeling. Not just because it means hopefully they will arrive to the recipients in time for Christmas Day, but because now it means that I can just do my own thing going forward. I've decided this must be how Santa feels once the sleigh is loaded up and ready to go. 😊

This evening and tomorrow we are [finally] going to decorate our tree. Every year, we get our tree pretty early in December, and at some point then The Tim puts the lights on it. And then it sits ... and sits ... until he feels like he has the energy to help me decorate it. Frankly it makes me nuts, but since he does enjoy getting it ready as much as I do, I'm not going to suddenly do it myself. He is just such a low energy person. Not that I am a whirlwind, but compared to him maybe I am! So we'll do some tonight after dinner, and finish tomorrow, and then finally we will be able to enjoy it! I can't wait.

This has been a busy week, with work, a dentist appt (thankfully just a cleaning), a haircut appt, and laundry. Today I have one more load of towels in the dryer, but the rest of the day is all mine. So I think I'll take a walk this afternoon, and I do need to clean the bathrooms, but I'm doing that this morning so it's done and over. 

I also plan to do some more knitting on The Tim's scarf. Here's a really poor photo of what I have at this point:

I've added in the fourth color (the camel shade at the top), so I'm actually moving along pretty well. This is a somewhat addictive knit, so I think I won't have any trouble finishing it by Christmas. It's also at the moment the main project I'm knitting, so it has that advantage as well.

I also want to check a couple of recipes to see if I need to get anything from the grocery store to begin some of my holiday baking. I don't make a lot, since it's just the two of us, but we both have some favorites and "specialties" so it's not the holidays without those.


I have a funny story that I remembered the other day that I thought I'd share. For those of you who don't know, we are vegetarian. We have been for about 25 years. But when we first moved to Philadelphia, we still ate meat. We had a neighbor downstairs in our apartment building who was overall a very nice woman, but a militant vegan - you know, the type who feels no compunction about pointing out everyone's evil habits, etc. 

Well, like I said, she was overall nice and she had two cats of her own. We were going home to WV and Pittsburgh for Christmas visits with our families, and I asked her if she would mind coming upstairs twice a day to feed our cat Molly Bloom and our canary Edward Hopper. She was more than happy to do so.

When we returned, since we knew she wouldn't take any payment, we offered to take her out to dinner. We found a restaurant that would offer something she could eat, etc., and we all headed out there. She ordered some kind of elaborate salad, I'm pretty sure I ordered a pasta dish, and The Tim ordered roast chicken. Our food arrived, and as The Tim went to take his first bite, she said very pointedly, "I hope you know that your dinner used to have a face." And without missing a beat, he replied:

"Well, your lettuce used to have a head."

I cracked up and to her credit, so did the neighbor, and she said, 'Touche." The rest of the dinner went smoothly and pleasantly, and though she would still often annoy us with her criticism, she would also laugh every time we reminded her of this event.

I have to say that for my part, I'm impressed that The Tim had such a quick, perfect response. That's the kind of thing I'd come up with two weeks after the fact and wish I'd been able to say, you know?

I can't remember what led me to this memory, but I thought it might give you a chuckle.

I hope you have a good weekend, and find something to chuckle about - it is the holiday season after all, we should be enjoying ourselves!

14 December 2023

It Comes Every Year

 ... but I'm not talking about Christmastime, exactly. No, today I'm talking about something that happened at Christmastime and that every year when the anniversary rolls around, makes me even angrier.

Every single year, when this day comes and I am reminded by these photos what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, first I get unbelievably sad, and then angrier than ever. These children and adults died because someone had a gun. They were slaughtered for no reason whatsoever. They were killed because they showed up that day for work and for school. I'm guessing they were all excited for the holidays for many reasons, and going about their day as usual because let's face it, if anyplace adheres to a schedule, it's elementary school, right?

When it happened, everyone was not just shocked, but grief stricken, and it seemed like it coudn't be real. Politicians had so many statements about it, talked about so many thoughts and prayers, the need for mental health services, etc., etc., etc. President Obama had tears in his eyes as he talked about it (which of course some mocked and criticized him for, because of course they did).

And nothing happened. The families and parents formed organizations and have worked tirelessly to bring about real change, visiting legislators and pleading for better gun laws. But what has been the result?

Zip. Nothing. Zero. More shootings. Every single day, every single place, and the same politicians send their thoughts and prayers. There are even those who claim that Sandy Hook was a hoax, and never happened.

Now, thoughts and prayers are valid things, if you ask me. That is, if you are actually saying prayers and sending good thoughts to someone. It is often the only way that you can "contribute" particularly in some situations. And I think it lets people know that you wish them peace, send love, whatever. BUT I think for too many people, it's become an excuse to do nothing else. Similar to an automatic "How are you" when you see someone, and you don't really want them to start telling you how they are.  

The sad truth of it is, as some people have said, "If Congress didn't act to mandate gun control after Sandy Hook, and the slaughter of innocent children, they are unlikely to do it anytime soon." And though I don't think that means we should give up, it seems like this is the case right now.

So more school shootings happen. More innocent people are killed because they have the sheer audacity to live their lives by going to work, going to school, attending a parade, just leaving their homes. It happens in small quiet towns, and in large cities, and it happens to nice people not just terrible people or those people who might be "asking for it." 

And yes, there are terrible and untreated mental health issues happening in this country. That is undeniable. But if people with those issues didn't have such easy access to guns, particularly assault weapons, a lot more people would be able to enjoy Christmastime with their friends and families.

I have two issues that are my current top concerns - guns and reproductive rights (and fortunately for you, I'm not talking about that one today!). If people want to or feel they need to own  a gun, make it necessary for them to prove they are responsible citizens. And make it so that no private citizen can own an assault weapon. Personally, I find it hard to believe that an individual needs an assault rifle, and frankly if they do actually have that NEED, I think there need to be a lot of steps taken before it's even considered OK.

This is of course all my own opinion. Because you know, it's my blog. But every year, right smack in the middle of Christmastime, we are reminded that there are families for whom Christmastime can never have the same happy feeling and wonder that it did at one time. 

And it's all because of a guy with a gun. One guy.

It comes every year.

10 December 2023

Second Sunday of Advent 2023 - Peace

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
Breathe out whole buildings
And flocks of redwing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fall and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothespins, clean rivers.

Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
Imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of a fish.
Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.

-Mary Oliver, Wage Peace

08 December 2023

Christmastime Friday Funny

This is one I've seen before, and may have even shared before, but it's a favorite. ❤ 

Today is going to be busy with a few things to pick up this a.m., and then I plan to wrap some gifts to send this afternoon. I like wrapping gifts - I get myself situated with the things I need, put on some holiday music or some Vlogmas podcasts, make myself a nice cup of tea, and I'm off!

This weekend our only specific plan is to decorate our tree. I have already put out 99% of the rest of our decorations (some are in boxes with ornaments), so that's all that's left. I'm guessing that The Tim may do some baking on Sunday while I'm at work, and I'm hoping to start my baking next week. Although I have it in my head for today or tomorrow to make some gingerbread muffins, so I may get a head start on that, we'll see. 

What about you? Anything exciting happening at your house? Whatever is or is not happening, I hope your weekend is a good one!

06 December 2023

So Here's the Plan

It's that time of year when my regular to-do lists have a lot of extras added to them for the holidays. The good news today is that I've already accomplished a few things: I knitted for 30 minutes on a Christmas gift for The Tim, went to a dr appt, returned something I'd bought for his birthday that was the wrong size, exchanged something else for the right size, and picked up a package from the Amazon locker. I am one of those people who are just extremely happy when I can develop a route from one place to another that allows me to do multiple things.

I just finished my lunch, which was delicious. The little market near our house has "Sushi Wednesdays" when their prepared sushi is $5.00, so I stopped there after the Amazon locker because it is almost next door. It was pretty tasty, and now I'm giving myself a little break. Then I'm planning to spend an hour unpacking some Christmas decorations, which I'm sure I will have a lot of assistance doing. We got a tree this past Saturday, and right now it's still bare, but I want to try and get the rest of the non-tree decorating finished before the weekend so we can concentrate on that then. Needless to say, the tree in the stand has provided a lot of hilarity for the cats, what with ambushing, attacking, and batting the branches. Though Esme is still SHOCKED that such a thing would come into the house! 

Then I am going to make some potato-cheese soup to have for dinner with some fresh bread that The Tim baked yesterday. I love soup anytime, but on a cold day, it seems like an especially cozy meal. 

Tomorrow I'm meeting a couple of friends and former yarn store workers for a festive lunch. We wanted to get together before things got really crazy, since they both travel/have lots of guests during the holiday season. I'm looking forward to it since we haven't been able to get together since sometime in the summer. They are both a lot of fun, and always have stories that are fun to hear.

So that's what's happening around here, along with the usual things like cleaning up, doing laundry, etc. The nice thing is that since we don't have guests coming to stay or anything like that, I don't have to get things done right now at this minute, so it's all more doable and enjoyable for me.

I hope your week is going well, and that if you are busy with holiday preparations, you are able to enjoy yourself. Time for me to get moving! 😊

03 December 2023

First Sunday of Advent 2023 - Hope

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.
- Anne Lamott

01 December 2023

Happy December!


As the kids say, IFYKYK. 😊