Saturday, December 29, 2012

Well, THAT sucked.

Last Saturday, to round out the awful week of losing Mandy, I got the stomach flu.  Got it from babysitting on Friday.  Before I could tell the doodlebugs' parents, they had already gone to Paul's mom's on Saturday to visit the rest of the family who came to visit for the holiday.  In the end, despite thinking some might, no one would escape the awfulness.  I was starting to feel better on Monday, Christmas Eve, but not great so we cancelled going to Connecticut to see my family.  Good thing, because early in the afternoon Paul got it which necessitated cancelling going to his mom's on Christmas day (which was fine since the bug was there by then, too).  This was our view from the couches on Christmas day....
It felt like Christmas didn't happen at all.  It was so strange not seeing my family as usual on Christmas Eve, and then not seeing Paul's family on Christmas day as usual.  I couldn't see anyone opening all those knitted things I was excited to give.  Couldn't enjoy the yummy baked goods and other goodies we usually have.  Couldn't eat too much yummy appetizers and dinner and feel sooooo full later (ok, maybe that wasn't too terrible not to have done....).  To top it all off, this week, after the non-Christmas, we had a big annoying 16 inches of snow snowstorm and then the vet bill came.  Oh my gosh, don't you want to keep reading????

So, before this goes down in history as the most negative, depressing post ever....

"Life always gives lemons, you can sit and suck on the lemon and complain how sour it is, or you can go make yourself a good glass of lemonade." ~Emily Pokoj

.....we are feeling much better and will have some Christmas spirit with a visit to my family this weekend and to Paul's family soon after.  We decided this would be the "Remember THAT Christmas?" Christmas and have a chuckle about it!  In the midst of the awfulness, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not feel like Christmas was ruined, but the most important thing is that, even though it won't be on the exact day, we will still have some quality family time.
Stay tuned for a regularly scheduled, non-negative, festivity-documenting, knitting and book reading post....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We are very sad.
Mandy died today after a very sudden, very quick illness.  I knew her for 11 of her 14 years (longer than I've known Paul!).    She was so very sweet and we will miss her a lot.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What I Didn't Tell You

The last pair of socks is done!
But what I didn't tell you about this and all the other socks?....
I still have to weave in ALL the ends! Instead of the usual two ends to weave in, in a regular one-color sock, there are TEN.  For EACH SOCK!  I think I'm going to have to reserve a whole week to get this done.  Oh wait. There is only a week left.

And I still have to finish these:
One of a pair of felted slippers.  This one is partially done and still needs a second sole.  Then I have the second one to knit. Once I am done with the knitting, I will put them in the washing machine and shrink them down to regular size.  Here is a picture with an adult-size sock, lined up at the heels, to give you an idea of how big it is before felting...
So, now I really need to get crack-a-lackin' to get this all done.  The slippers need at least two days (in front of the wood stove) to dry.

In the meantime, I tested out a cookie recipe and will definitely be making these for Christmas:
These are Ottolenghi's Spice Cookies from The Wednesday Chef blog. (click there to get to the blog post/recipe).  Oh. My. Gosh.  So. Incredibly. Yummy.  They are quite strong tasting (lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg) but I. Love. Them. LOVE.
And they go really well with my Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea:
Which I had before sitting down to knit by the fire, with the animals snuggled in, watching Elf (click there to get on Amazon) in our Christmas bedecked living room:

Speaking of Mandy, please send good vibes her way.  She is sick and in the animal hospital today...
She was not too thrilled when I came home
with these antlers for her....but she looks so cute!

Friday, December 14, 2012

All knitting all the time

I've done hardly anything else but knit for the past week and a half! But, I've got another pair of socks done:
And I'm making my way through the next (and last!):
And my mom reminded me that I didn't post the completed picture of my nightfall socks - the ones for which I wasn't thrilled how the gradual pattern was working out.  So here they are:
She got them for her birthday!

On my list for this weekend, since those socks will be done fairly soon, is to look for the still-not-found-already-started project.  Also, I have one last gift to buy and all my shopping shopping is done!

Ooh - and I've started the holiday decorating!

Speaking of my mom, she is coming to visit this weekend so watch out - the next post will be crazy! Hee hee.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


There are some perks to not being able to sleep and getting up early and having a cup of tea....

.... on the day that Paul got up very early (after going to be very late) to work on painting his friend's car:

Now, what is wrong with this picture?....
Fire burning.  Door and window open wide.  We're heating the whole neighborhood.  Just like our parents told us we shouldn't do.  Our garage is attached to our house, which is where the painting is going on, and the fumes are horrendous.  Even my very strong smelling pine candle wouldn't mask it.  Thank goodness he's done now, and will be on to the next phase -- sanding and buffing.  See what an education you get on this blog????  Now you know some of what's involved in painting a car!

And what's wrong with this picture?:
(What the heck with the sideways business again???  Takes up a lot of blog space...)  Ok, so it's not the whole picture, since I don't want to ruin a surprise.  I sent away for a picture on Shutterfly and had this caption put on it.  Needless to say, I re-ordered, and got my grammar correct.  Good thing I was planning ahead.

Meanwhile, I've got Christmas-baking-on-the-brain.  I found this recipe for Campfire Bars on the Cookies and Cups blog and was dying to make it so I went out and got the ingredients that day.
So, so, so easy!  Just dump the graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, granola and brown sugar in a bowl...
Add a stick of melted butter, mix, put in a pan and put in the oven for 15 minutes....
Cool completely before cutting.....
 They look like a mess, in the pan and when you cut them, but they are very yummy! (and, be warned, very sweet)

The recipe is from this book which I'm dying to get because it's just a cool idea:
Not only can you make desserts in jars, there are recipes for giving dessert mixes in jars.  Like these Camfire  Bars - you put all the ingredients in a mason jar with a pretty cloth topper and instructions for baking, and wa-la a cool little gift!  How cool is that?  (click up there if you want to get one - a really good price for a nice gift!)  Ok, commercial over.

On to knitting!  Finished these for someone unnamed:
Only took me two days!

Also finished this, which you aren't getting to see until it's given, but I thought you'd want to know it was done:
I'm feeling much better about the status of my Christmas knitting mostly because it looks like I'll have more time to find and finish the as-yet-un-found-already-started project.  Or start and finish a new one.

I was helping a knitting student at the yarn shop this past weekend and telling her about the lost project.  She said the St. Anthony prayer for me to help me find it.  Then she said, "Actually, we are supposed to say it together, so it will really work."  So I, being not very religious, had to be taught the words, and then we said it together.  Then she said, "Ok, if you find it you have to give me a dollar.  I'm match it and then give it to my mother, who will match mine, and then donate it to her church."   Sounded good to me.   I'm optimistic.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Two Pretties

Pretty the first:
Yay! A new bed that we hope will be the most comfortable thing ever.  It was delivered today.  Talking about beds and mattresses seems really personal so I'll just say we really needed it and leave it at that.  Isn't it pretty? (as pretty as it can be without bedding --- the windows are open and I'm airing out the new/factory smell of the mattress)

This was our Christmas present to ourselves for the past 5 years or so.  Paul and I don't exchange gifts for Christmas or birthdays.  Our gift is just being together.  Yes, I totally just went there.  But really, what started out as a financial thing, has become a "we just don't need to" thing.  The fact that it is Christmastime is just our way of justifying buying the bed sooner rather than later.  Somehow, we've just settled into the idea that if there is something we want or need, and it's a big ticket item, we talk about it and get it or not get it depending on finances.   And if it's a little ticket item we don't talk about it, we just get it.  On birthdays we go out to dinner and have cake.

And speaking of delivery... don't you just hate that we'll-call-you-the-morning-of-and-give-you-a-three-hour-window thing?  Ugh.  Makes it so hard to plan things.  I had the dog scheduled to go for a bath (boy did she need that) and a chiropractor appointment, both in the morning.  Of course, they called at 7:45 and said they'd be there between 9am and noon, necessitating a quick call to change my appointment and a plea to the groomer to hold onto Mandy if she was done before the delivery arrived.

But isn't she pretty?:
Being a little diva-ish, refusing to look at me...
P.S. I was in the rain and she was under cover.

And speaking of Christmas... I'm sure you are wondering how my Christmas knitting is coming.
I still haven't found the thing that I started that I wanted to finish for someone.  To be honest, I haven't looked terribly hard in the "not-obvious-everywhere" yet.  I figured that will come when it's the only thing left to knit. The problem is, it's something to be felted and will need a few days to dry, so it can't be too close to Christmas.  Which is only 2 1/2 weeks away, by the way.  I realized that yesterday and suddenly my knitting list made me a little panicky.

I did finish these:

Not telling who they are for....
And made some good progress on this:
Sorry, you aren't getting
more than this until the gift is given!
But I've got several more projects to do.  Plus the shopping shopping.

What makes it worse is that I gave in to temptation and purchased this:
Yarn to participate in the Mystery Sock V: April Showers sock knit-a-long from Knitters Brewing Company.  That picture is the yarn and the first clue to the sock pattern, as well as a commemorative stitch marker (meant to be a raindrop - how cute is that?).  So, we don't know what the sock will look like and we'll get clues every week for 4 weeks (I think.  It might be 5 weeks.).  Fun right?

Here's the rub:  The knit-a-long doesn't officially start until January 11th.  The clues to the pattern are free and you get the first clue starting on that date.  But if you buy your yarn from them starting on December 1, you already get the first clue to the pattern.  Therefore, as of right now, i have everything i need to get started.  Which I want to do.  And which I won't do, since I have so much other deadline knitting to do.   It's not like I can knit these for a gift since I will only be able to get a little way and then have to wait until a week after Jan 11 for the second clue.  But it's sitting there staring at me and making it very difficult.

I totally could have waited until after Christmas to order the yarn but something about being able to get the clue ahead of time just made me write down on the calendar, on Dec 1, that I should order it as soon as it was available.  (Have I ever talked about my impatience problem?) And just a little note about Wendy at The Knitter's Brewing company:  She is so incredibly nice and always includes a hand-written thank you note with my purchase.  Excellent customer service! (Click up there on the pink to go to her website.)

Ooh and I forgot to tell you about my Small Business Saturday purchase:
This sideways thing is going to make
me bust a blood vessel in my temple!
November Knits by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley.  Love this book!  It has some really pretty patterns in it.  These designers also did Vintage Modern Knits which had the Brigid Jacket that I made. Click there to see my project page, but you can click here to see the pattern page, since I HAVEN'T PUT THE BUTTONS ON IT YET! (i finished it about a year ago....)  Both books have several patterns that I would like to make.   Check out your local yarn shop to find/order these books.

And speaking of books.....  I'm just going to go ahead and tell you about the book I'm reading now, since I'm still not done.  But I really like it so far: Charley's Web  by Joy Fielding.  Joy Fielding's books are usually extremely suspenseful - see a previous post/review of Mad River Road  here (And click on those book links to purchase on Amazon.) - but this one isn't quite as in-your-face suspenseful as her others.  It's more subtle.  So I'm expecting something big to happen but don't know if it will (der - the definition of suspense?).  Charley Webb is a journalist for a newspaper who gets chosen by a death row inmate to write a book about her.  She committed an awful crime, of course, and Charley is having some doubts about whether she should be doing it since the interviews are upsetting her.  The interviews are also making her take a look at her family relationships, and upsetting her as well.  In the midst of this are some threatening emails and we don't know yet how/if they are related.  And then there is a little bit of conflicted romance going on.  All in all, very engaging.  I'm only a little more than half way through this 581 page (!) book , so it might be a minute or two before I can give you my full review.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep this in mind during the time leading up to Christmas (again, only two and a half weeks!):
"Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency.  Nothing is that important."
~Natalie Goldberg

Monday, December 3, 2012

The status of knitting, books and food.

The status of my Christmas knitting...  I can't seem to find the thing I started that I wanted to finish for someone.  I've looked everywhere.  Now I have to look everywhere that's not the obvious everywhere.

But, I've got this started for someone:

And this started for someone else:

I'm working on more than one thing so things will stay interesting.

And I finished these:

Yay!  Love. Them.  I hope the person I give them to does too.  In case you forgot, these are the Simple SKYP Socks which is a FREE pattern on Ravelry.

I got these in the mail today:
sideways - so aggravating...
I ordered these after storm Sandy.  The Books on the Nightstand podcast posted something on Facebook suggesting that a nice way to help an independent bookstore in Connecticut, who had flooding storm damage, would be to buy a book from them.  So I did, and I felt like I helped.  Don't have to ask me twice to buy books (and you only have to ask me once to buy two books apparently), especially if it helps.  The bookstore is Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT.

I think I heard about one of these books on the BOTN podcast and one on the 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast.  I think Sarah's Key (click there to get on Amazon) will be my next one to read.  It starts in July 1942 in Paris when a 10 year old girl and her parents are taken by the police as they are arresting Jewish families.  Sarah helps hide her brother so he won't be taken.  Then sixty years later, her story intertwines with a journalist investigating the events in 1942.  Have to finish my other book first, though --- if I can get some time to read it other than in bed when I'm already exhausted and can only read two pages.

What have we been having for dinner you ask?  I knew you were wondering.  Yesterday I made wonderful chicken in the crockpot:
ha!  Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the actual dish, so you got the crockpot instead.  It was Italian Herb Chicken.  Oh. My. Gosh.  LOVED. IT.  Put 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces (skin removed) in the crockpot.  Then pour in a mixture of 2 cans  (14 oz) stewed tomatoes (I chopped them up because we don't like the big chunks), 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste, and a packet of McCormick Italian Herb Chicken seasoning  for the crock pot (in the gravy/sauces aisle).  Cook on low for 8 hours.  The chicken gets fall-off-the-bone-tender and the sauce is yummy.  We ate it with rice.  so. So. SO. Good.  It was being cooked in the crock pot while I was babysitting the doodlebugs the other day.  It smelled so good in the house all day long - I couldn't not ask for the recipe.

And tonight?.....
Mmmmmm. Soft tacos.  Haven't had them in a long time (except at Moe's... "Welcome to Moe's!").

And today was apparently impulse day at the grocery store.  Went in for a few things (apples, bananas, roast beef, bread, and sandwich bags to be precise).  Ended up with two boxes of Cheerios since it was buy one, get one free.  How could I not?  And then, I saw these:
Fudge Covered Ritz.  Again, how could I not try this wonderful new product that they placed right on the end of an aisle so it would stare me in the face?  And how could i not pay $3.29 for this little tiny box of what I assumed would be wonderful chocolate-y salty crunchy goodness?  (AND I WAS RIGHT!  They are so. So. SO. Good.)  Plus, it says right on the box, "Limited Edition", so I didn't want to miss out.

How about a quote of the day?
Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, "No, thank you," to dessert that night.  And for what! 
~Erma Bombeck