Friday, December 30, 2005

Changes

Well, it's that time for me. The wrapping paper is finally all gone, the left-overs are looking depressing, and I've stepped on enough Duplo blocks that I have banished all toys to the bedroom. Yes, it's that glorious after-Christmas letdown.

But in some ways, it's a relief. Christmas just wouldn't be so special if it wasn't confined to a small part of the year. (although I'll admit to celebrating it for a bigger part of the year than most, lol!) We would not be able to keep up all of these festivities and whirlwind jolliness for twelve whole months. Besides, Santa needs his vacation just as much as the next person.

I do like to try to keep that spirit of giving and thankfulness going all year. That's why I shop and craft for Christmas all year long. But the lovely thing about that is the fact that you can take it in small doses and then go on to your gardening, or swimming, or football, with the rest of the world being none the wiser. No need for full-scale gaiety, lol!

So now, I go back to stodgy, old, practical mommy, with too much laundry and not enough patience, but in the back of my mind is that little glimmer of Christmas lights and holly that I can take out and dream over in anticipation of next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back Again

Oh, I warned you all, didn't I? I told you in the beginning that I had very little in the Powers of Concentration department. Be thankful that I made it all of the way to the Nineteenth!

But onto more pleasant topics...


Christmas was really wonderful this year:

* We spent two nights in a row at home together enjoying our booty and each other's company

* I received too much as I am very blessed

* My husband pulled out all of the stops and presented me with an amazing, very-unlike-him gift that actually made me sit at the foot of our tree and cry Christmas Morning

*I had the strength to fight my pack-rat ways before the holidays and removed ten garbage bags of toys, clothes, and household items from our home, which were put to very good use by other people, allowing me the ability to find homes for all of the new things without cursing and sweating.

* Santa brought my Peanut a play kitchen for Christmas, so I have had the fun of sitting down to pretend meals of "Juice-covered Pancakes" and "Peas, Carrots, Eggs, and Cookies Casserole" lovingly prepared by my two-year old (but she still makes me do the washing-up!)

*We got a chance to see family that we probably will not see again , until next Christmas and of course I wallowed in the compliments on my child's beauty that were piled on by one and all!

* I went to see "Pride and Prejudice" all by myself and enjoyed it immensely, knitting my way through to Lizzie and Mr. Darcy's kiss. (my husband won't let me knit when I go to the movies with him. He says that it's distracting and embarrassing, lol!)


I hope that everyone else is enjoying a lovely holiday. Give your families hugs from me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jokes

Day 19

What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?

Crisp Cringle.


If athletes get athlete's foot, what do astronauts get?

Missile-toe!


What is the best evidence that Microsoft has a monopoly?

Santa Claus had to switch from Chimneys to Windows

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pregnancy

Day 18

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:4-7 ESV


The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is roughly 70 miles. A trip that would have been 4 or 5 days long. Now imagine that you are nine months pregnant and fifteen years old, riding on a saddle animal or walking. Swollen ankles, aching back, and exhaustion. My goodness, how Mary's faith must have been tried! I can remember complaining about the smallest things when I was that far along, lol!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What Christmas is Coming To

Day 17

As a little girl climbed onto Santa's lap, Santa asked the usual, "And what would you like for Christmas?"
The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: "Didn't you get my E-mail?"

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pillow Talk

Day 16


The pillow talk that occurred in our bedroom last night:

Me: "So, are you all finished with your Christmas shopping?"

DH: *yawn* "No, I still have some things to pick up."

Me: "When are you going to make a trip to the store?"
(knowing full well that his schedule is packed from now until the 23rd, and that my DH hates going to said store at the best of times)

DH: "Oh, I don't know. Definitely not this weekend, the stores will be too crowded. Maybe next weekend."

Me: (after a few beats) "You do realize that Christmas is next weekend?"

DH: "No it isn't! Is it?"

Me: "Afraid so."

DH: "Do you think that everything will get here in time if I order it online?"

Me: "Please say that you have already bought my present."

*30 seconds of Silence*

DH: "Of course! It's not like I forgot about Christmas!"

Me: "Um, technically, you just did."

DH: "Feeling like coal this year, are we?!"

Me: *snoring* (deciding that discretion is the better part of valor and that being right is not nearly as important as having something under the tree Christmas morning with my name on it)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Christmas Memories

Day 15


This morning my Peanut awoke at 5:00AM, bright-eyed and ready for the day ahead. Mama, who is a notorious insomniac and therefore usually runs on 3 to 4 hours sleep, also awoke at 5:00AM, not so bright-eyed or quite ready to face the day ahead. You see, Thursdays are my errand running days and if there is ever a day that I need adequate sleep to prepare for, it's Thursday. I try to do all of my "running around" in one day to save on fuel and time, but this means that I run from morning until evening and to simplify things, Peanut usually spends the day with Grandma and Papa.

But back to our pre-dawn rising.

Here we were, with a whole day of errands to do, and it was too early to start out. I also knew that if I didn't get started on my day, I would be all too tempted to turn on a Wiggles video and snooze in the chair while Peanut bounced around the livingroom, effectively killing my drive to do anything else for the rest of the day.

Then it occurred to me. Our market is of the 24 hour variety. There was really nothing stopping me from going grocery shopping, even though it was an early hour. So that just what we did. I bundled up the Peanut, got my list, and we were off. Believe it or not, it was lovely.

First of all, it was so quiet and dark. Very peaceful. Plus, it was snowing this perfect movie snow; beautiful even flakes with no wind. Add to that the fact that most of the Christmas lights on our street were turned on and you had a veritable winter wonderland. Peanut and I just stood in the front yard for a few minutes and enjoyed.

The market was not crowded, Peanut behaved beautifully, and I even remembered my coupons. All was right with the world!

I think this has been my first truly magical day of the holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Oh Tannenbaum!

 
Day 14

Our cozy Christmas tree! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ha Ha Ha

Day 13


Two of my favorite Christmas jokes


Q: What do you get if you cross Raquel Welch and Santa Claus?
A: A thank you card from Santa.

Q: Why does Santa wear pink underwear?
A: He's a man. He did all his laundry in the one load.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Snow

Day 12



Snow

Blanket of white covers all
muffles mankind's din
yet sharpens our perception

by impromptu-mom, age 11


Found this old poem while digging through some of my old school papers yesterday (I'm easily distracted and was supposed to be putting away the empty decorations boxes. I really was working! No, really!) It was in an old book of poetry that I had written for some independent project in 5th grade. I fancied myself a poet at the time, and I had written a Haiku for each season, (I went through a period of Asian interest about then, lol) and illustrated them with some very bad drawings of trees. Definitely not an artist! After the 5th grade and poetess didn't work out, I moved on to playwriting for the next two years (the boy that I had a crush on also wrote plays. It gave us an excuse to hang out in the library together, lol!). If anyone is ever feeling down and needs a good laugh, I have enough failed writing attempts lying around to cheer anyone out of a funk!

I thought that the winter Haiku was appropriate for the advent calendar and our current weather. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Wonder of Men

Day 11


The Shepherds and the Angels

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"[c]

15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:8-20 ESV

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ha, Ha, Huh?

Day 10


Why is an elephant large, grey, and wrinkly?

Because if it were small, white, and smooth it would be an aspirin!



This was the joke in Peanut's Christmas cracker today. Maybe it's an English thing, lol!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

And On a More Sober Note...

Day 9

FIREPROOFING CHRISTMAS TREES

Into 1 gallon water mix

* 1 cup ammonium sulphate (available from garden supply store)
* 1/2 cup boric acid (available from drugstore) and
* 2 tablespoons borax (available from grocery or hardware store)

Mix well. Pour into a spray bottle. Spritz on tree and pour the remainder into the tree stand instead of in water.


What can't you find on the internet?

Christmas Memories

Day 8


One of my favorite Christmas memories involves my Grandparents and their love of Christmas.

My family with it's large Irish roots has been too large to gather at any one person's home for years now, what with all the Children, Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren (we are often 44 for Christmas dinner, and that's just three generations of immediate family). So, we started the tradition of renting out a local hall for all our holiday get-togethers. We pot-luck it and laugh and sing and eat. But the highlight of the Christmas festivities is the annual 'Christmas Show'.

Starting from around the time that I was 9 or 10, my Gram decided that we kids were too focused on the gift exchange. So, to entertain our thoughts and make the night last a little longer, she insisted that we "work" for our gifts by putting on a Christmas program (one of the benefits of a large family, there are always enough kids around to put on a show, lol!). We would work through October and November, memorizing poems and lines, praticing songs and pieces on our instruments (for those of us of the 'band-geek' persuasion ;)), and thinking up costumes for Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men/Women. And thanks to my very fertile Aunt (mother of 9), we almost always had a real live baby Jesus, lol! I remember loving it when I was young and scorning it in my teen years, but until I was married, I took part in it faithfully, every year.

Now that I look back, I am so thankful that my Gram helped us to create those memories. My Grandparents' healths are failing and the family is so busy that "The Program" is often a put together a bit hastily on Christmas Eve, but I still have the memory of those great family Christmas productions, and they really mean a lot to me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Gifts

Day 7


Eight Gifts that Don't Cost A Cent...

1) THE GIFT OF LISTENING... But, you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming,
no planning your response. Just listening.

2) THE GIFT OF AFFECTION... Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back
and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and
friends.

3) THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER... Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will
say, "I love to laugh with you."

4) THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE... It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full
sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a
life.

5) THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT... A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a
super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

6) THE GIFT OF A FAVOR... Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7) THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE... There are times when we want nothing better than to be left
alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8) THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION... The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind
word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, "Hello" or "Thank You".



From a lovely site called "Home & Holidays"

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Christmas Cheer

Day 6

Christmas: When you exchange hellos with strangers and good buys with friends.



Had a marathon wrapping session last night, four hours!

I really do like wrapping presents. It's one of the few useful skills my Mom taught me. She was a perfectionist when it came to our presents. She says it's because we never had very many things under the tree, so she wanted to make them as pretty as possible. Truthfully though, I never realized that we didn't have much until I was older. Christmas was always a blast at our house!

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Jesus

Day Five

Jesus

By
Jason Shulman


The mysterious child,
our mysterious boy
only he, alone among his friends
could say the secret words
that could stop the moon
He looked up at his mother:
she was fifteen and blamed no man
for her situation
She smiled the same smile
the hanging air spoke to her
from above.
She knew this wordless infant
was teaching her heart to love

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Gift of the Magi

Day Four


I remember reading this story for the first time when I was eleven or twelve years old. Then, as now, I would go on reading jags; finding one story by and author and liking it so well that I would read everything else that had their name on it. After discovering "The Ransom of Red Chief" I went to the library and found a nice tome of some of O. Henry's collected works. When I read "The Gift of the Magi", I cried. Not just cried, I bawled. The story just touched me in a strange way, somehow. Since then it has always been a favorite of mine.


"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! A quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Merry!

Day Three


"Christmas Pie"
by George Wither

Lo! now is come our joyfull'st feast!
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed,
And every post with holly.

Now all our neighbours' chimneys smoke,
And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with bakemeats choke,
And all their spits are turning.

Without the door let sorrow lie,
And if for cold it hap to die,
We'll bury it in Christmas pie,
And ever more be merry.


I've always loved this poem! I think that "joyfull'st" in one of my favorite words of all time!

Ha Ha Ha

Day Two

Just a few Christmas Jokes for you!

Question: Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
Answer: So he can ho-ho-ho.

Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Answer: Frostbite.

Question: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?
Answer: Ribbon hood.

Question: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
Answer: Claustrophobic.

Question: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Answer: Snowflakes.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

I-Mom's Advent calendar

Well, I'm hoping to give you all a little Christmas countdown, with a holiday-related post every day until Christmas. We'll see! (I have no illusions about my own powers of concentration, lol!)


Day 1

Why is Christmas sometimes spelled Xmas?*

... especially when combined with the word "sale"?

According to the book Did You Ever Wonder... by Jeff Rovin, the word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. The use of the shortened form "Xmas" became popular in Europe in the 1500's. The word "Xmas" is common in advertising most likely because "Xmas" and "Sale" have the same number of letters, and "Xmas" is significantly shorter than "Christmas".


Who knew? I actually have relatives who will not write or use the word Xmas because they feel that it dishonors Christ. Just goes to show that none of us are as smart as we think we are, lol!


* For more great fun Christmas facts like this, scoot on over to How Stuff Works!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Harry

 
I have now been to see lovely HP4 twice, and I loved it both times! My sister and I went together on opening weekend (I'm the VERY round one on the left) and wore our scarves. The usher stopped my sis on the way out and went on about how her scarf looked so authentic to the movie. She told him that I had knit it and I felt a little swell of pride. Of course, he didn't say anything about my scarf, so obviously mine didn't look so authentic. Either that, or he was trying to pick up my sister, lol!

My husband wasn't thrilled with the movie. He complained that the book was better (well, duh!) and that they left too many important things out. But just as it is with any book that is made into a movie, you have to take each as a separate entity. They are never going to be able to include all of the very wonderful things that J.K. Rowling puts into her stories and keep it under three hours.

This is now my favorite of the four. It's funnier than the rest, but also scarier. The soundtrack was a little disappointing (only a little wisp of the original John Williams pieces), but the great scenes made up for that tenfold. (I heard three different moms complaining as we left that the movie was too scary. They all brought six and seven year olds to a PG-13 movie. What did they expect?) All in all, this is a great movie. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Book Report

Today saw our first 'real' snow of the season, so I found myself snuggled up inside digging through my piles of books (shocker!) and catching up on a few things. At any given moment, I'm usually reading at least four books, and though it may seem like it would be confusing (my husband says he gets a headache just looking at my nightstand, lol) it really is the only way I know to quench my reading habit. So, for your amusement, I thought I'd give you a little peek at my current reading list.

"KnitLit" edited by Linda Roghaar & Molly Wolf

This is a soothing collection of essays by and about knitters and their experiences. Some of them are hilariously funny and really hit home, others are sad and touching. I have really been enjoying this one, as essays are short and it makes good before bed reading. There are also two more volumes in this series.


"The Book of New Family Traditions" by Meg Cox

I have found a lot of good suggestions in this book. The author has gathered together all sorts of little rituals and traditions that you can use to mark holidays and special days in your family. She also talks a little about the importance of traditions to family life and the consequences that a lot of families are suffering today because of the loss of the home as the centralized hub of activity and comfort in most families. A great read for those of us who are big believers in the need to bring back the idea of strong, "old-fashioned", extended family groups!

"Retro Happy Hour" by Linda Everett

Contrary to the title, this is not a book of cocktail recipes (although there is a slim chapter in the back of the book devoted to alcoholic drinks), but fun little upbeat book of great '50s style party food recipes. With appetizers that have names like 'Creole Clementine's Ham Balls' and 'Hoowee Loowee's Crepes Supreme' how could you have anything but a raging fun time at your next bash. I picked this up on a whim at the library and have been so pleased. I have found so many good 'nibbles' recipes for our little at-home Christmas Party this year. They also have loads of recipes for delicious sounding, non-alcoholic slushy pitcher drinks and punches. Plus the book is full of great retro '50s and '60s style party ads and graphics. All I can say is Yum!

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J.K. Rowling

Now, as anyone who has read my blog more than once can tell you, I am a Potter fan. And I have one of the HP books going at all times, be it in written or audio form. But this is my first time through the UK versions of Rowling's books and I am enjoying finding the differences between the versions. Although the books are essentially the same, especially the later titles, there is a difference in the editing and wording that makes the UK version seem to ring a little truer in my mind. I don't know if it's the result of a British editor editing a British writer or the fact that all of the little 'Britisisms" are left in but I think I like the UK versions better. Besides, if I sit down to read a book that I have read a dozen times before and it all seems fresh and new to me, I'd say it's worth the time and energy!

"AlterKnits" by Leigh Radford

This is a beautiful book! Full of off-beat ideas to shake off that 'scarves and hats' rut that it is very easy to find yourself in as a knitter, you can sit and goggle at the beautiful photos and dream up wonderful projects. She even has a pattern for knitting your own screen door out of nylon-coated upholstery thread! Definitely not your grandma's knitting pattern book.



Well, there you have it! Go out and look for one of these (or two or three, if you are anything like me!) and snuggle away the holiday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Huffle is Done!

 
 Posted by Picasa Well, here is my Hufflepuff scarf in all of it's buttery glory! I have to say that I love this yarn (KnitPicks Merino Style)! Thank you so much for the suggestion and advice, Erin!









 
 Posted by PicasaThe next project on the needles is a fluffy pink poncho for Peanut. I'm knitting both halves at once because I am terrible with matching gauge from one piece to another. This way, they will both be lumpy in the same sections, lol!

I can't wait for Saturday! GoF, here we come!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Getting Close

Well, I should be putting the fringe on my Huffle scarf before I go to bed tonight. I'm kinda glad. It's starting to feel like a job instead of a labour of love. But I will look so chic Saturday night! I'll post pictures tomorrow.

My hubby is now starting to pout because I'm going with my sister to see GOF the first time. Even though he hates big crowds at the movies and had no interest in going on opening weekend when I bought the tickets a month ago. And even though we are going to see it together over the Thanksgiving Holidays. I think he is feeling left out because in all of the time that we have been dating and married I have only gone to the movies two other times without him. But he will really be much happier if he waits a week. He would spend the whole time scaring small children with his dirty looks because they won't be quiet, lol. This is the same man that will not allow you to even answer the phone in the same room that he is watching a movie in when we are at home. Trust me, he'll thank me in the long run!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Nothing New Under the Sun

My first Christmas edition magazine arrived in the mail today (Woman's Day) and, after sorting the rest of the mail, I set it aside to be devoured once the Peanut was asleep. I'm excited when the holiday editions of women's magazines hit the newsstand. They always have at least one idea that I love and have to try. The crafter in me feeds off of ideas,lol!

So, this evening, I sat down with my cup of peppermint tea and excitedly began scanning the pages. Instantly, I was struck by how familiar the decorations looked. Every page seemed to be covered in pictures that I had seen somewhere before. And then it hit me. Most of this years "fresh, new, holiday ideas" seemed to be exact copies of decorations and recipes that my Grandma has been using since 1953.

"Add some color and up-to-date style to your tree by making [ornaments] in blue, pink, turquoise"

"Spray paint berry garlands white to hang across window tops and mantles"

They have directions for little glitter houses and star toothpick ornaments in jazzy retro blues, pinks, and greens.

And yes, a silver tinsel tree, decorated in candy buttons, safe-t-y pops, and candy necklaces

There is also a recipe for a cheese ball in the shape of a bell decorated with what looks like parsley, pimento, and almonds


I'm telling you that they must have raided my Gram's attic for their ideas. Not that it doesn't look beautiful in their magazine spreads. It's just that I can remember looking through some of my Grandparent's old decorations when I was a kid and thinking, "Who in their right mind thought that plastic, glitter coated, pink and blue houses and fruit say 'Merry Christmas'?" And the wreath on page 109 made up of little glittery bells, balls, and be-ribboned packages? Lets just say that I'd better give Gram a call, because I'm pretty sure that she has been robbed!

Everything really is beautiful though. Not quite what I like in holiday decorations, but beautiful nonetheless. And I'm sure that someday my grandchildren (please Lord, let there be grandchildren!) will look through my decorations and think "Does Grandma have some kind of crafting disease or maybe a glue fetish? How many things can you make out of sticks, felt, and mulberry paper?"

Frankly, I can't wait!

Monday, November 7, 2005

Emmit

Took another trip down memory lane today. I was browsing in my favorite big-box-economy-killing-Mart and came across the Christmas DVD section. Being the Christmas junkie that I am, I just had to stop and take a look, lol. There, right in front was a little show called "Emmit Otter's Jugband Christmas". I almost squealed with delight!

"EOJBC" is a wonderful special that Jim Henson did for HBO back in 1977, while he was still doing "The Muppet Show". It's based on a sweet little book of the same name by Russell and Lillian Hoban that tells the story of a widow otter and her son who are struggling to make ends meet and wishing they had the means to give each other "real, store-bought Christmas presents". It's not an overtly Christmas themed show, just a sweet story with beautiful bluegrass and folk songs that ring true with most of the music created by Paul Williams for other Muppet productions. You won't find Kermit or Piggy here, but it's definitely worth the watch.

I can remember this show from early childhood. It first aired when I was one or two, but I'm sure that I remember it from a slightly later date. I had searched for it for a long time with no luck, even calling our movie supply house (when I worked for 'International Video Rental Store') to see if they had any leads on where I might be able to find a copy. I'm so happy to have found it today!

While watching this afternoon, I was reminded of why I had been searching so hard. This is such a great story! Not to mention the beautiful work by Jim Henson and Company. Henson was such an artist and this special really shows it. The music is so lovely and it often brought tears to my grown-up eyes that never would have been understood by my childhood self. The fact that he accomplishes "suspension of disbelief" using puppets is a true testament to his labors. And he did it all without CGI!

Go out, find this one, and enjoy it with your family! You won't be sorry!

Friday, November 4, 2005

Singin' In the Rain

My little Peanut is a movie watcher just like her mama. She loves to stand at the shelves and flip through all of the DVD and VHS boxes, and since mama spent many years (too many!) working for various video chains, there are a lot of boxes to play with. Most of the time, it's The Wiggles who rule the viewing roost around here, as Peanut is crazy about anything with music, but I got a pleasant little shock the other day when she brought me "Singin' In the Rain" and asked to watch it. She loves it! I must admit, with such great songs and the likes of Gene Kelly's lightly tripping toes, not to mention the scads of oh-so-yummy shoes featured throughout, how could you go wrong? Peanut has been making me sing "Lucky Star" and "Singin'" every night this week. Maybe I'll dig out all of my old musical favorites and see if anything else strikes a chord with her!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Today's Lunch

 
Even though this will have mostly disappeared into my husband in about ten minutes. Even though my hour's worth of work will be non-exsistent by dinner time. Sometimes you just have to Martha things up for yourself and brag about it a little! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Trick or Treat

 
Today was candy day for my little Peanut. She did remarkably well, considering Mama had her wearing little white slippers that kept 'slipping' off of her feet and the smallest bag that I had for her loot was as tall as she was. She had a very fun time. We even managed to get her to say thank you at most of the houses.

Hallowe'en is such a fun time for me. I know that there are a lot of people, many of them my own friends, who don't think it's right to celebrate Hallowe'en, but for me it has always been a fun and festive holiday. When I was a child, we always made our costumes and had family costume parties. I especially remember one year when my youngest aunt, newly married and moved into her first home, turned her house into a "haunted house" for all of the nieces and nephews. She had a different "scary" scene (my Grandpa dressed up as a clown, a witch handing out donuts and cider, crepe paper spiders and sticky webs, ect.) set up in each room, culminating with apple bobbing and pumpkin carving in the basement. It made such an impression on my little four-year old mind, that I can still remember the prizes that I won that night and what a good time we had.

As I've grown older, Hallowe'en has become a good reason for my stodgy, old, adult self to wear costumes and have a good time. I've never run with a real "party crowd" so most of the fetes I attend are pretty tame. We just have a good time and enjoy the company and costumes. My fav costume of my adult life was the year I was almost nine months pregnant and I went as mother nature. It took almost five yards of white flannel to make a toga to swathe my huge belly. I kept telling everyone all night long that I was a very fertile, late summer, mother nature. It was lame, but pregnancy costumes are really hard to come up with. It was also one of the few times during my pregnancy that I allowed my picture to be taken, lol!

I love to make costumes. I went to a small school that was lucky to have a drama department, so most of the drama club wore multiple hats. Along with my acting roles, I also got to handle props and costume making. We had to be pretty inventive because there was no budget for drama. Anything we needed, we had to get by donation or pay for it ourselves. This led to a certain amount of creation on the fly, but really, that was half the fun. I will never forget the time we were traveling for competition, two hours from home, and our leading lady realized that she had left her costume bag at home and had brought nothing but jeans and shorts. At curtain, we found ourselves dressing her in one of the supporting players dresses and sending said supporting player on stage in nothing but her undies and a full length winter dress coat. Ahh, the memories!

Now that I'm a mom, I'm in my costume-making glory. I love to dress up my little Peanut, and I'll be the first one to admit that I have to watch myself, as I can tend to go overboard on costumes, such as the aforementioned slippers. They were so cute and the perfect finishing touch, but she was slipping everywhere on their shiny satin-ness. We actually had to stop back at the house and switch for real shoes, but that's OK, she still looked oh-so-cute! Boy, am I dreading the day when she won't let me pick her costume anymore, but hey, there's always grandchildren to look forward to!

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Hallowe'en! Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Peas and Carrots

Peanut and I had a Veg-Out day today. We got out the Play-Doh, spread crayons, colored pencils, and markers all over the livingroom, and dug out all of those toys that I find myself saying "no" to most days because they are such a pain to clean up afterwards. We stayed in our pajamas all day. I fixed popcorn, cheese and crackers, and a nice warm bowl of chili for lunch. We also left the TV on all day (gasp! I should probably have my mommy license revoked!) and watched my Sweetest Day present from my hubby, the first season of "The Adventures of Pete and Pete".

"TAOPAP" is a hilarious (if slightly skewed) little show about the everyday lives of two brothers, both of whom are named Pete. They face all of those normal rites of passage dealt out to American kids in the suburbs. Sibling rivalry, first loves, and evil nemeses with funny names (my fav is "Butt Stripe", the kid with the stripe of mud up the back of his pants from riding his bike in the rain. I went to school with this kid!). It's all there. That mixture of love and embarrassment every kids feels towards his parents, the charms of summer vacation, and the fear of being humiliated in front of the world. All presented in a lovely, off-beat way that made this one of my favorite shows in high school. I never missed an episode.

My husband gives me the best presents!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Have A Holly Jolly October

Ok. It's time for me to come out of the closet on this one. I am a Christmas addict.


There, I admitted it.


I love Christmas so much. The planning and preparation. I just thrive on the suspense.
Which would be why I Christmas shop all year long. Trust me, it has nothing much to do with being organized. I just love to plan for, buy, and make gifts. I put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and some years I wouldn't wait that long if my husband hadn't made a "No Tree Before Turkey" rule, lol. Peanut and I are already listening to "christas moosik" and singing and dancing our way towards Hallowe'en. It's just such a joyous and wonderful holiday, I can't help but want the thoughts of Christmas with me through the wet days of April and the hot days of August!


The thermometer is reading 36.1 degrees here in my office tonight.
Maybe we'll get snow!

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm Still Here!

Boy, does time get away from you! Seems as if October just began and now we are staring at Hallowe'en!

Some sobering facts:

Thanksgiving is only 31 days away

Christmas is only 61 days away

I will be thirty in less than a year


It's been all hustle and bustle here in my little house. We are getting ready to purchase some land for our new home and have been playing with houseplans like a couple of eight-year-olds with a new dollhouse. I'm very excited about the prospect of building, but the truth is, we are a year or two away from actual hammer on nail. We are putting our own house on the market (hopefully before the end of autumn) and I'm a little nervous about the idea of a self-sale. Also, when our current house sells, we'll be moving in with my parents-in-law for an undetermined amount of time, until we are finished with building, which is a situation that I have mixed feelings about.

Although my PIL are the sweetest people on earth and we will technically be living in our own apartment (the lower level of their home is a two bedroom apartment), I just can't help but remember how awkward things were for me when we lived in their home for a few months after we were first married. I also worry about my wonderful little Peanut. They spoil her mercilessly, as do I. I don't know if her little psyche can handle so many over-indulgent people on a daily basis, lol! Hopefully, things will work out well and all of my fears will be unfounded.

Aside from preparing for moving house, I've also been busy preparing for the holidays. My gift shopping and crafting is done, but we have started the yearly tradition of sitting down to decide just whose parties we can and cannot attend this year. It's never a fun task and this year, we've decided to trim the excess even more so that we can have more at-home-alone time with Peanut. That leads to deciding just what food I'm taking where and what recipes need to be converted into sugar-free forms. And don't hate me, but I've already started addressing my Christmas cards.

Things have been crazy but good. I've been a little over-stressed, but in a not-too-bad way. The big news is, my Huffle scarf is now past the half-way point! I just cannot wait for the new movie! It is going to be so good!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Stuff

The Machine That Seems To Suck Away My Will To Live is still running wonky, so no pictures posted of current projects yet. But...

I broke down and gave my sister her Gryffendor scarf today, for her birthday, instead of waiting for Christmas. Mainly because I also got her tickets to "HP and the Goblet of Fire" for opening weekend. I didn't want to be the only adult standing there looking silly in my HP gear, lol!

Yes, I have already bought my HP tickets. It's become our tradition, my sister and I, to go together and see the movies. Then, I also go with my husband, of course. Frankly, I'm so thrilled by the new trailers for this flick that I don't know how I'm going to make it another month!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fives

Catching up on a tag, sent my way from thicketdweller.
I'm not tagging anyone in return, just though I'd post my answers for your entertainment.


What were you doing ten years ago?

It was 1995. I had just turned nineteen and I had just graduated high school in June. I now spent my days arguing with my parents about the fact that I gave up my scholarships and didn't go to college. After pushing myself so hard to prepare for the "college track", I discovered that I really didn't want to go, and I needed a break from academics. I bummed around with some older friends, working at a small local movie theater/video store and avoiding any "real" work as much as possible. A true Gen-X slacker.

What were you doing five years ago?

In 2000, I was 24. I had now been married for 2+ years. I owned a home, two dogs, three cars. I was working 50 hours a week for the world's second largest jewelry distributor, chatting with people in foreign lands all across the globe on a daily basis, but talking to my own husband for no more that 20 minutes a day. Our schedules were opposites. We actually saw each other more back when we weren't married and living in the same house. I really didn't like my life or myself much at this point. I wasn't very comfortable with the life that I was creating for us and our home. My how things can change in five years!

What were you doing one year ago?

In 2004 I had just celebrated my 28th birthday and I was preparing for my beloved we've-been-so-blessed-finally-I-understand-isn't-she-the-most-wonderful-child-ever Peanut's "First Birthday Bash". I was juggling invitations, food plans, and family feuds for 60 people. I was stressed about the party but loving being a mom. The breastfeeding, the little clothes, the smiles. It was all just so good!

What were you doing yesterday?

Thursday. Errand Day.

I did the grocery shopping. I washed the car and filled it with gas. Bought my hubby's Sweetest Day gift (first season of "Everybody Loves Raymond" on DVD). Did two loads of laundry. Visited my new niece and nephew. Took down all of my birthday cards. Worked on Peanut's Trick-or-Treat costume. Finished reading "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer. Knitted a few more rows on my Huffle scarf and listened to two chapters of "HP and the Half Blood Prince" on audio book.

5 snacks you enjoy

1. garlic bagel chips
2. tortillia chips dipped in sour cream
3. caramel corn
4. green bell peppers
5. cashews and raisins mixed up together

5 songs that you know all of the words to

1. The whole Wiggles catalog (I know this is waaay more than five, but I will not bore you by listing them all)
2. "The Parting Glass", A traditional Irish folksong (I know all of the words, but can rarely sing them without weeping, lol)
3. "Tom, Dick, and Harry" from "Kiss Me, Kate"
4. "The Hairbrush Song" from the Veggietales
5. Just too many more to list. My sister and I sang everything while we were growing up, and I still do today. I'm that really hilarious looking person you see sitting in her car at stoplights, belting out the words to the song on the radio, eyes clenched shut, pretend microphone in hand!

5 things you would do if you had a million dollars

1. Set up trusts for each of my nieces and nephews
2. Pay off all of our parents' bills
3. Pay all of our bills
4. Take Peanut traveling when she gets older
5. Build a larger house with enough room for both my husband's hobbies and my books

5 things you like doing (just 5?)

1. reading
2. knitting
3. cooking
4. singing
5. visiting

5 bad habits

1. nail biting
2. too introspective
3. being lazy
4. being disorganized
5. tend to get carried away on a new project, but lack the discipline to see it through

5 things that you would never wear again

1. hot pink cullottes
2. jelly shoes
3. big, pouffy bows in my hair
4. the absolutely gorgeous blue velvet, three-inch heels that I bought for one of my husband's formal business dinners, in which I danced my way to 5 blisters and a twisted ankle. (but, boy did they look nice!)
5. cowboy boots

5 favorite toys

1. my computer
2. my mp3 player
3. my digital camera
4. my sewing machine
5. my sewing box

Monday, October 10, 2005

Viruses, Electronic and Otherwise

Boy oh boy, do I feel like I've been gone forever! Our computer has been at the doctor for the last 8 days, due to a nasty bit of spyware that I just couldn't remove myself. Meanwhile, I've been stranded in no-technology land, not even able to check my email. I had over a thousand messages waiting for me when we got back up and running!

The house was run through by a little bug, of the human-affecting variety, and we had many days of drippy noses and sore throats. Everyone is now well though!

It may take we a few days to get caught up on everything, so if you have left a comment or question, don't despair! I will get back on track soon!

One plus side to the lack of computer. I have now knitted my Huffle POA scarf, in all it's yummy Merino glory, up past the fourth set of trapped bars! Yea! Plus, I was able to make an interpretation of an apron that I own, that once belonged to my Grandma and I have always loved but never wore very often for fear of spoiling it. I now have one to wear in my own kitchen. I'll post pictures later this week.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pigtails!

Pigtails! Posted by Picasa


We finally managed pigtails in Peanut's hair. My baby was a baldy for a long time. Then, she inherited Mama's straight, slick, hair. Add that to it's baby-fineness and you have a little head of hair that is very stubborn and frustrating. But we conquered it! (For a whole two hours! LOL!)

Twins!

My niece and nephew were born on Monday, September 26. My sister and the babies are doing well and are now home. Peanut is enraptured and asks to go see the "new babies" all day long!
Alana Marie, 5lbs, 6oz Posted by Picasa
Alan Michael, 5lbs 13oz Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

Impromptu-mom's Winter Checklist

Lovely H-H has asked for a few request posts. While I'm definitely not a role model when it comes to the housewifely duties, I will try to oblige you as best I can H-H!

I'll start with the first one.

H-H writes:
1. Please give some guidance on what to do (if anything) to prepare for winter. This is my second winter and the first where I get to plan. And I don't know where to start, what to shop for and when to do all that. Honestly, am quite scared.


If I remember correctly, H-H lives in Michigan, but she originally hails from India.
Michigan mostly has the same type of winters that we have here in Northern Ohio, cold, snowy after Christmas, and long, so the things that I do to "get ready to hibernate" will translate very well to your area H-H.

I usually start out the fall with a "Do Before The Snow Flies" list.
Do not let the title fool you. Seventy percent of my yearly list never gets finished in time, but it helps to focus my energies a little and bring to mind all of the little things that are not done and that will drive me crazy when we are stuck inside for five months. This list includes any little household projects that need finished, like fixing hinges and putting up the screens. It also includes outside chores like putting away patio furniture and big outside toys, cleaning out the gutters and mulching the vegetable beds. Anything that can not handle extreme temperatures or severe weather should be protected or put away. Also bring in any outdoor perennials that will not stand the winter and protect any young or delicate trees or shrubs with burlap.

Next, I go through all of our cold weather clothes and weed out what is too small or too worn and pass it around to family and friends who can use it. I pull out all of those sweaters that I have been buying for half price at Goodwill all summer long, (This is an obsession of mine, sweater shopping at Goodwill. No one looks for sweaters in July, so you always find beautiful stuff, and I usually pay $1.25 or less.) air them out and put them away. I check to see that everyone has a good fitting coat, hat, and gloves, plus I stock up on a few spares of hats and gloves for inevitable losses. I dig out the heavy scarves and buy a yard or two of fleece to cut out a few lightweight spares. (you can buy a yard of fleece, cut it into a few wide strips and you have "instant scarves". No sewing required!) I go over my Hubby's winter sports gear (parkas, snowpants, heavy gloves, boots, ect.) and make sure nothing is missing or needs repaired, and I check on and schedule appointments to have his snowboard serviced and waxed. (I'm not quite sure how this became my duty, as I couldn't snowboard to save my life!) And I go through and make sure everyone has good fitting boots and heavy shoes and pass around the too-smalls.

I check that we have a good stock of candles and lamp oil, as occasionally, but not often, we lose power in the winter due to ice storms. Plus, candlelight and oil lamp light are so beautiful and cozy in the winter! ( if you want a great place to buy candles in large quantities at a great price, check IKEA) I dust out the fireplace and put down rag rugs in the kitchen and by the bedsides (hard floors are a cold shock in the winter!). I get out the throws and small blankets that we keep in a basket in the livingroom to snuggle up under while reading or watching TV, and put up heavier curtains or curtain liners to help keep out drafts. I bring out the heavy quilts and the flannel sheets and make sure eveyone has at least one matching pair of slippers. We also buy our ice melt salt now because the stores inevitably run out on the middle of winter when you need it most. (we just keep it in a five gallon bucket next to the snow shovel) This is also a good time to check out your snow shovel and sleds to make sure that they are in working order and don't need replaced.

I don't go overboard on stocking up non-perishable foods (twenty quarts of tomatoes isn't "overboard" is it?) but I do make sure that there are a few things in the pantry in case of bad weather. I also buy a few boxes of powdered milk (which my husband hates and refuses to drink!) for this same reason. I go through the deep freeze and check on the levels of frozen foods and meats, and I usually have a few loaves of bread and bread dough frozen and on hand at all times. I like to stock up on things for yummy cold weather foods like cocoa, chili, and soup so that I can make them up on short notice. Most of my winter prep in the pantry is just normal, everyday supplies just plus a little. I also tend to get a small back stock of things like toilet tissue, toothpaste, and paper towels, depending on storage space (which is a real premium at our little house!)

I do stockpile books and movies. In fact, my hubby and I joined NetFlix last year during the cold weather months and plan to do the same again this year. This being my first full "knitting winter" I've also added to my stash of yarn, hoping to keep my hands busy. The internet is also such a bonus during the cold weather. It helps you feel connected, even when you can't get out!

As far as when I do all of this, mostly I'm done preparing by mid-October. I like to get everything sorted and ready early. It makes me feel prepared and peaceful. The truth is though, depending on how rural you location is, most of this is not necessary. Many people may not have to worry about extended snow-ins or lengthy power outages. It's mostly depends on where and how you live, but as the old saying goes "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". It can't hurt to be prepared!

Hope some of this helped H-H! And if anyone else bothered to read this lengthy tome, feel free to leave your suggestions for H-H in the comments or a link to your own winter checklist post! I'd be very interested to see how others prepare for winter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Well, a few new projects will be getting their start this weekend. The yarn for my birthday-present-to-myself Hufflepuff POA scarf should be arriving tomorrow from KnitPicks. I went with the Merino. I just ordered a whole bunch and crossed my fingers that it will be enough. I'm going to knit it as a tube (No 1x1 rib for me! I'd never finish!) using Lauren from atypicallyknit's pattern slightly modified for the lighter weight yarn. I also ordered some Gossamer in the Leprechaun colorway, hoping that it would inspire me to a beautiful shawl. I want finish my scarf in time for the movie release in November. We'll see!

This weekend will also see me slogging my way through the one-day sale at our local Joann Fabrics. I need to get the material for Peanut's Trick-or-Treat costume and some fabric for a few new cooler weather skirts. Things will be crazy because of the sale, (probably a 25 minute wait to have fabric cut!) but luckily, everyone is very nice and polite. I've even swapped some great ideas and patterns with other ladies who were waiting around during previous sales. It almost has a festive air!

And why would anyone really care to hear about my crafting plans you ask? Truthfully, I'm sure no one cares but myself, but I've found that if I publish on my blog that I am going to do something, it kinda helps me stay focused. I am a notorious "super-starter, bad-finisher". I need all of the help that I can get!

Monday, September 19, 2005

What We Are Used To

First of all, let me just say thank you for all of your kind words!

You all make me feel like some kind of domestic goddess, instead of a frumpy lady grousing over her tomatoes! Who knew that preserving was such an art form.

Very often, I get comments from wonderful people who make me remember that this blog is read by more that just a few of my local friends. I've had this discussion with other bloggers before, and it's very easy to forget that this is a worldwide forum. My blog has opened up friendships for me all over the globe, and has allowed me to get a glimpse into the everyday lives of real people that I would have otherwise never met. It's kinda like having the world as your neighbor.

Canning your food is very commonly known here. Even if most of the under 50 set don't do it, they have watched their Grandmothers at it and recognize the process and the lingo. The fact that someone had never heard of apple butter would seem ludicrous. That just goes to show you how much I tend to live in my own little world.

We live our lives, day in and day out, with own worries and struggles, working to surmount the huge mountains of our fears and hardships. The funny thing is, our mountains, very often, look like molehills to someone else. The things that we agonize over would seem trivial to someone else. Without that "other" perspective, it's very easy to think that I am the center of the whole universe. Thanks to all of you for giving me that perspective!

And that wraps up the introspective portion of tonight's post!

Exactly how did a discussion of apple butter lead to this?
Ahh, my addled brain!

Gadgets

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The techno-geek gods have smiled down on our household.

I got my mp3 player!

You know what's even better?

It was free!

Audio books, here I come!

Mmmmm! Potato Soup!

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Two Quarts in the Freezer!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Harvest Time

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Yesterday was Spaghetti Sauce day here. The house still smells of onions!
I feel like I'm all canned out. I can not imagine doing this on a wood fired stove.

So many kind people have given us produce this year. After the news of our groundhog trouble (they have eaten everything in the garden! Even the garlic.) got around, people started showing up with bushels of stuff. I have put up more produce this year than I have ever done before. And it keeps coming. Even though I have put up 20 quarts of red and yellow tomatoes, my MIL dropped off another bushel and a half of Roma tomatoes yesterday morning. Hence the spaghetti sauce.

The thing with fresh picked produce is that it must be dealt with immediately, and when someone shows up with a surprise bounty, you have to drop everything and preserve it right now, or lose it, which can sometimes be a burden. My mother just tells me to toss it, as the gifters would be none-the-wiser, but I can not throw away so much good food. I just can't do it! So, I find myself standing over pots of boiling water at 2AM, finishing up yet another bountiful gift. I'm tired but happy, and the sparkling jars of food look so pretty! (Is it a sign of sleep-deprivation that I find spaghetti sauce pretty?)

I must also come clean on the new bushel and a half of tomatoes. I myself gifted most of them out to my Grandma. I kept enough for five quarts of sauce, and that was all that I could face, lol! Funny thing is, Grandma was so happy to have them. She and my aunt spent the day puttering around the kitchen, canning them up. In fact, they both wished for more to do up at the end of the day, because they had so much fun canning. Do I smell a surplus produce outlet?

I really do love the feeling that I get at the end of the harvest season, when all of my shining jars are lined up in neat rows on the shelves. And actually, I love to can, just like my Grandma. The only downside is that I usually do it alone, and it is the kind of work that is much more fun and goes a lot faster with two or three other mouths and pairs of hands along. Maybe I should start a local canning group!

**********************************

Also, I wanted to include my* Crock Pot Apple Butter recipe. My lovely friend, thicketdweller requested it, so I thought I would just share it with you all!

Crock Pot Apple Butter

A note about the applesauce. If you are lucky enough to have your own apples, by all means use them. They will make for a nice thick apple butter. But I will tell you that I get just as good results with store bought, unsweetened applesauce from a jar. It is a real time saver, especially if you are giving it away as gifts!

7 cups applesauce, natural
2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves,
1/2 tsp allspice

Put everything in a large crock pot and cook for 14 to 15 hours, stirring occasionally, until it is dark and thick. Put in hot, sterilized pint jars, seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for 24 hours.

yields 4 pints

One more thing, and some people will probably drop dead of botulism fear when they hear this, but I usually don't process this recipe in a water bath. I find that if I wash my jars and put them to heat in a 225 degree oven, pulling out one jar at a time as I fill it, they seal just fine. Frankly, this stuff has been cooking for more than half a day, and as long as you have hot, clean, sterilized jars, there really isn't any danger. In fact, I use this method for my tomatoes also. But just to be safe, especially if you are new to the whole canning process, check you specs when it comes to individual foods and their processing times. A great resource is "The Ball Blue Book" or you local county extension office (and yes, they even have these in cities!). I really don't want anyone to suffer a horrible death just because I'm flippant about the rules of canning, lol!

Enjoy!


* I use the term "my" very loosely. I did not make up this recipe, it is just the one that I use. I, in fact, can not remember where I got it. So, this will have to be my disclaimer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fair Day!

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It's County Fair time again! We spent the day yesterday, petting all of the farm animals and eating food that is sooo good but soooo bad, lol! Peanut was enchanted with the sheep and the chickens, but the goats made her laugh her bum off. Every time she heard a "maaaaa" she had a giggling fit. We walked around in the hot sun (doesn't Mother Nature know it's Autumn?) and looked at dozens of tractors (my husband dreams in John Deere Green). We went through the Home Economics building and I snapped a few pictures of shawls that I might like to interpret and try knitting. We came home sweaty, sticky, and with a wagon load of cotton candy and local doughnuts, but very happy!

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mmmmmm!

Apple Butter day here today. Thanks to a cheater recipe that just plops the whole lot of ingredients in a crock pot and simmers it for 15 or 16 hours, my whole house smells delicious. I personally hate Apple Butter, but everyone else around me adores it, so I make it. I certainly do love the wonderful aroma though, lol!

The downside is, due to a lack of planning, I must set my alarm and get up in three hours (4:00 AM) to can it all up. Nothing like standing over a huge cauldron of boiling water in the middle of the night to make you feel in the Hallowe'en mood! (insert evil witch cackle here)

Double, Double, toil and trouble,
Apples are messy when they bubble.
Good thing there's a lid on the old crock pot,
Because better things than cleaning, to do, I've got!



Please excuse me for sounding a little like Yoda. It is after 1:00 AM here, lol!

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Old Favorites

Peanut and I were perusing the children's section at the library today, when I came across an old favorite of mine on audio book, Susan Cooper's "The Dark Is Rising". Ms. Cooper's is the first fantasy series that I ever read and listening to it in the car on the way home reminded me why it is only second to Harry Potter in my heart's library hall of fame.

I can still remember the first time that I discovered "TDIR". I was eleven, and digging through the school library, where I worked during my free periods and generally could be found whenever I had a free moment. Our middle school library was pretty small and having read most of the fiction section, I was trying to find something new. I pulled out this book, looked at the cover with it's foreboding dark man on a rearing horse, black crows, and a small boy cowering on the ground, and thought it might be worth the time. I took it home and read it that night. I was in love, and when I discovered that it was the middle book in a series of five, I couldn't get my hands on the others fast enough. We didn't have them at the middle school, so I borrowed two from the high school and bugged the local librarian to find the other two for me (no small feat in the days before widespread computer use and easy interlibrary loans!). Luckily, I was one of those bookish but not annoying kids that adults don't seem to mind, lol!

I can remember wishing that I was like Will Stanton. Hoping that I would just wake up one day and find out that I was someone completely different than I thought I was and that I had this important destiny to fulfill. A common childhood wish I'm sure, but none the less strong. The series was one of my favorite escapes, long after I had outgrown the wish.

I came home and found a used set of the series on eBay. Soon, I'll be running through the lanes of my childhood escape! I can't wait!

Do any of you have a favorite book or books from childhood that you still visit now and again, even though you are grown up?

Monday, September 5, 2005

Taking Stock

We have returned from the last camping trip of the season. Now, all of the gear will be cleaned and packed away until next year. The leaves have already started to fall from the tree in our front yard. Tomorrow, we will drain the pool and prepare it for winter storage. By the end of the week, I plan to have a sort through Peanut's massive wardrobe to weed out the too-smalls and the too-worns.

Yes, the year is winding down.

I'm sitting here, nursing a glass of rootbeer, thinking of everything that I want to accomplish before year's end. My Peanut will be two in just two months and two weeks. I haven't decided how we will celebrate this year. I don't want the huge, 60+ guests party that we had last year, but because of family logistics, people feel snubbed if they are not included in the celebration. We had planned on going to see "The Wiggles" live (four men whom Peanut thinks hung the moon!), but the closest they are coming is a two hour drive away. I really struggle with the whole problem of making things special but not doing too much. With Peanut being an only child, I tend to go overboard on birthdays and holidays, even though I start out with the best of intentions. I not very good at finding a happy medium where my baby is concerned!

I've been looking over my yearly to-do-before-the-snow-flies list, and I have sadly noted how many items, that were listed last fall, still aren't finished. We have some projects on there that have been half-completed for five years! I hope to do better this year, (although, most of the unfinished stuff is my hubby's) and cross everything off of the list.

I am toying with idea of trying something new for Thanksgiving. We have so much family that, every year, we have to turn down two dinner invitations and pick a third to visit. When we were first married, we tried to make everyone happy and ended up eating three huge meals only four hours apart! I'm considering having a Thanks giving dinner here at our house and inviting someone (non-family) to share it with us. I know it won't go over well with the families, but I feel the need for a less stressful holiday this year.

And speaking of less stressful, how awful would I be if I ran away to Europe for Christmas, with my lovely hubby and darling baby in tow?!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Oh So Funny!

You all must go and check out this site.

Threadbared is a hilarious little blog done by two southern girls that pokes fun at those oh so weird pictures on the front of sewing pattern envelopes. They feature patterns from the 40's to the 80's, and they are just too funny! I laughed so hard while browsing my way through insomnia the other night that I woke my husband.

I can remember looking at patterns when I was little and thinking that sometimes they just didn't look right. These ladies hit the descriptions right on the head!

Scoot on over and enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Empty House

Well, my hubby left this morning for four days. He is off on another jeep adventure, somewhere in Pennsylvania. I opted not to go, since the trip would consist of me sitting in the wilderness for four days, trying to amuse my twenty-one month old and seeing my husband for a total of 40 minutes a day during the gap between when they stumble in from the trail and when he collapses into a snoring heap.
Since the whole family wasn't going, he decided to stay in a hotel, and is splitting his room with some guy he barely knows. I hope he's having fun!

It's funny how empty the house feels without him. Even though his usual schedule keeps him away from home a lot, it just seems different somehow, when I know that he won't be there when I wake up in the morning. Very strange.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tomatoes and Fears

Tomato canning day, here at our little house, and due to our house being so little, my MIL and I joined forces and did the job in their basement canning kitchen. Seventeen sparkling quarts of alternating red and yellow tomatoes, lined up in my pantry. Winking merrily and promising untold treasures of chili, soup, and sauces.

I really enjoy canning with my MIL. Aside from the fact that the work goes much faster with two sets of hands and two tongues wagging, I also get a chance to take a peek at my husband from her point of view. I can honestly say that I like spending time with her, and when it comes to canning, she definitely knows the way to go!

My PIL have a cozy little kitchen in their basement that they use just for canning. Their house had originally had a business in the basement, so the
whole bottom of the house is fully equipped with all of the creature comforts, circa 1954. They do A LOT of preserving and have everything set up so efficiently that it is a dream to work there. You feel like you could tackle even the messiest job alone! The only downside is the fact that I have to walk past The Crow to get there.

My FIL is a hunter and marksman, He has been since boyhood, and his gun office is also in the basement. Outside the door is the bird who has haunted my dreams since the early days of my marriage. A stuffed albino crow, mounted very realistically on a log. It stands there, head cocked, sleek white feathers gleaming, fixing you with it's pink-eyed stare. Crows are very large birds, when encountered face to face, and this strange specimen is no exception. His pointed beak and forbidding presence make it easy to see why some might think that crows are the transporters of the souls of the dead.

I don't remember the details of the story, other than the fact that the bird died, either as my FIL's pet or a surprise find while out hunting squirrel one day as a boy. Nick (my FIL) was so taken by the bird, that he had it stuffed and mounted to be able to enjoy it's beauty always. I met it in the first week of my marriage, as I was moving my things into my PIL's home. My hubby and I (due to various reasons, including eloping six months early) stayed with them until things were finalized on our house, and our room was just down the hall from The Crow.

I'm not sure why the bird bothers me so much, but I find it very unsettling. I swear that I often can see it moving out of the corner of my eye! My imagination has been fueled by too many spooky novels and scary stories and I had no problem imagining that strange bird hopping down the hall to our room, white feathers glowing in the darkness, and perching itself on our footboard, a la Poe's "Raven". "Awk! Nevermore!"

It's very funny to my hubby and FIL. They tease me mercilessly about "The Crow". In fact, during the early years of our marriage, I could rely on turning this or that corner and finding the thing lying in wait with one or the other of them, to see if they could get a rise out of me. They are quite the comedians. My daughter seems to love the bird and thinks that it is a great playmate!

Ahh, the things that one must go through for delicious canned tomatoes!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Obsession

Ok, I think it's time to put away the dishcloths for awhile.

I was sitting on the sofa today, knitting of course, while my hubby was watching TV. He glanced my way and then bursts out with, "How many of those things are you going to make?" I look up with surprise showing on my face, as he rarely notices anything that I am working on, especially if he is watching TV. He then says, "I've counted ten just lying around this morning." He then proceeded to give me a look that said "you are obsessed, I'm going to check into getting you some professional help!" and turned back to his show, shaking his head.

Better start a new project soon. I don't want him to worry.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Gryffendor Behemoth

Here is a picture of my finished HP scarf. To answer your question, Erin, it's obviously a Gryffendor. My sister is a huge Won-Won fan, so she always sides with the Lions. And yes, that is a Christmas gift bag that it is propped up on. It's already wrapped and put away. Most of my Christmas gifts are. Feel free to hate me for being so uptight and overprepared, lol!

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Friday, August 19, 2005

On Knitting

I've been on a knitting roll recently. I finished my SS/CoS Harry Potter scarf last weekend. I am amazed at it's finished length! I can't believe that I sat down and knitted something over six feet long and it only took me a few months on and off! If any of you had a look at my pile of half-finished projects, you would realize just how big of a miracle this scarf is. My sister is going to go mad over it at Christmas!

On Monday, I made a lovely wool moebius scarf (If anyone one is looking for a quick fun project that makes a lovely and soft gift, this scarf is great! Even I finished it in one day!) for my Freecycle yarn angel. This wonderful woman has, on several occasions, given me dozens of skeins of different Lion Brand Yarns. Her brother has crafting connections and brings her piles of yarn when they discontinue a color or style. She insists that she can't work with anything but "plain old yarn" and so gives away the excess (usually 40 to 50 skeins at a time!) through Freecycle. So, not only do I get to take a crack at some large projects that normally my budget wouldn't allow for but, I also get the pleasure of spreading around some really great yarn to my family and friends!

I've been in dishcloth high gear for the last few days though. My Grandma always complains that she can't find knitted dishcloths like she had when she was a girl, so now that I can knit, I'm giving her a whole bag of them for Christmas, to use or hand out to the neighbors as she pleases. They whip up so quick and I like working with cotton. I love anything that gives me such gratifyingly quick results!

While doing all of this knitting, I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books, on audio book. I got hooked on audio books back in my pre-Mommy days,when I worked for the country's second largest jewelry firm. My job was to look through our jewelry orders and check for quality and accuracy, and then call the suppliers when there was a problem. As most of the jewels sold in this country are imported from elsewhere, I had to do most of my calling in the late evening hours to compensate for time differences. This meant that I and the other girls in my department, spent many nighttime hours in a huge, empty office building, listening to our own voices echo around the place. Our solution was Walkman's and Audio books. Back then you couldn't get them on CD and most libraries in our area had a small selection. We would check out four or five at a time and then trade around with each other when we had finished our own. On average, I finished four or five books a week this way!

My love for audio books has never waned. Now there are so many more titles available and so many formats too. I always have one book going in the car and I've been begging for a Mp3 player for Christmas so that I can take them on the go. And now that I have discovered knitting, I can happily while away many an hour, making wonderful presents and listening to great stories! If you have never given audio books a try, make a trip to the library to pick up a copy of an old favorite. Pop it in while you do the dishes or work on some handiwork. You'll find that it will replace the TV or the radio quite often!

But back to knitting. (I swear, it takes very little distraction to get me off on a wild tangent!) My next sizable project is going to be a PoA/GoF Hufflepuff scarf for myself, to wear to the next HP movie premiere in November.(yes, I AM a Hufflepuff badger!) I'm trying to decide whether to make it in Red Heart acrylic, like my sister's or some beautiful Knitpicks Merino Style. Both are so affordable, but I worry about ordering enough from Knitpicks to finish atypically.knit's lovely pattern. I stink at figuring out the amount of yarn that I need for a given project. Unless it's spelled out for me in the pattern, I always buy too little or too much. Anyone have any advice?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Autumn on it's Way

Well, it's official. It may only be halfway through August, but Autumn is knocking on the door. I made my first batch of Zucchini Bread tonight.

I can feel that stirring in my soul when the first of the harvest starts to come in. The mercury may still be reading in the nineties, but once we start pulling veggies in from the garden, I'm ready to get out the sweaters and make pumpkin pie. The bread I made tonight perfumed the whole house with the harvest smells of cinnamon and cloves. And that first slice, still warm and slathered in butter, was a balm for my summer weary soul. I love Fall and Winter, and I just can't wait for them to get here!

I think I just talked myself into another slice!

Monday, August 8, 2005

Myrtle Beach

Well, my family and I are back from our surprise vacation to Myrtle Beach. Things went well, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I got my first look at he the ocean and only one mild sunburn.

We left at 5:40 AM on Thursday morning to start on our 11 hour drive. My hubby, who plans and drives a trip like Clark W. Griswold, expected a smooth, straight through drive with maybe one stop for lunch and two potty breaks. He still hasn't gotten used to the idea of what traveling with a one-year old entails. All in all, we didn't do too badly on time. Even with all of the unplanned stopping, we still made it in under thirteen hours.

Our hotel was wonderful (a very kind gift from my PIL who were with us), right on the beach with pools and whirlpools galore. We were on the 14th floor, which was actually the 13th. I never understand this. Do they think that superstitious people are that easily fooled? Just because it is labeled 14 doesn't make it any less the 13th floor. The fact that the elevator numbers skip from 12 to 14 should be a dead giveaway! lol! But all superstitious silliness aside, the view from our balcony was breathtaking. The only thing that I regret was the fact that the air conditioning was so loud that when the door was closed you couldn't hear the ocean, even though we were mere feet away from it.

The weather was beautiful, but hot. We did a little shopping and a lot of eating. My husband went parasailing and drug me along for the boat ride on the choppy morning before a storm rolled in. I decided then and there that I was never sailing the ocean again on anything smaller than a cruise ship. I love boats and I am an experienced ski boat driver, but those waves in all of that vastness had me so tense that my muscles were sore the next day. The armchair historian in me couldn't help but think of all of those people who have come to this country across the choppy waters of the Atlantic. I kept picturing Pilgrims and my own Irish ancestors crossing that water, not knowing what they were coming to. And I thought I was scared!

I really loved the ocean, but I think I could have done without Myrtle Beach. It was so crowded and noisy. Very touristy. The Atlantic of Maine is more my speed. Cold and wild. I'm not exactly a beach bunny. Below, you can see a few snaps of the trip.

The ride home took even longer (15 hours) and I was glad to see our little house. I've finally gotten all of the all of the clothes put away and the sand out of our hair and shoes. I'm ready to stay home for awhile.
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