Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coming around

I'm working again, filling those surprise post-Christmas orders for bunnies and hats and the like, and the remaining orders that had a post-Christmas deadline. But all the while I have that nagging little thought in the back of my mind about the sweater I'm going to make for myself. Yes, it's that time of year where I want to knit for myself and I plan a project, buy the yarn, start knitting, change projects mid-stream, get distracted by new ideas for the shop, decide I can use the yarn I bought for myself to generate revenue and never end up knitting that original sweater. For my knitting friends who see me cycle through this phase every year, you're welcome to tune me out for a while.

But I'm going to give it a go again, despite my past inability to produce an end result and I've dug out an old pattern to try. Well, I say try, but I'm changing the pattern quite a bit. Don't laugh, Pam. It's so cute and free, you can check it out here on Ravelry. I'm going to make it long-sleeved instead of 3-quartered, with raglan shoulder seams and instead of making it short and trapeze-shaped in the bodice I'm going to make it longer, past my hips and more fitted to the body. I know, a complete overhaul. To back up a few paces, if you're a knitter and not familiar with Ravelry, you should give it a look--you can get completely lost there.

So the next step is to scout out some yarn, of the non-itchy variety because that collar comes up close to the neck and I'm planning on wearing the heck out of this thing (famous last words). If it ends up becoming something else I promise not to complain.

Meanwhile, for the record, the three of us who were in the woods the other day have poison ivy. I know, it's dormant, there are no leaves in sight, but those boys were cutting the vines and handling them and I swear then all they have to do is look at me with it on their skin and I've got it too. Luckily they don't have much of a reaction and what they do have is gone in a day or two, but I'm quite allergic, and minimal as it is on me right now, I'll be itching for a couple of weeks.

On a last note, it's almost time to say goodbye to the stockings and all of the Christmas decorations. According to Kevin it's bad luck to keep them up past New Year's Day and as much as I don't like to see them go, it's a good way for me to get a handle on the clutter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Clearing out

It's a strange and blustery 70 degree day here, not conducive to fishing so there's work being done. Winter time is the only time to tackle the massive, woody, poison ivy vines that strangle the trees around the property in summer.

Boy helper helps.
Girl helpers are playing kitchen.

Old lawnmower helps.
Mommy takes pictures.

It's still a bit wild,

but with the telltale signs of the presence of men left behind.

What will move in when the clearing out is finished? More walking/biking trails? John has his eye on a rather large jump I know, or maybe a fort, or chickens...or a knitting studio...I know, don't laugh.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas resolution

I stood in the packed church service on Christmas Eve, telling myself over and over, "I'm not gonna cry when they light the candles and we sing Silent Night, I'm just not gonna do it this year", and I puffed myself up, swallowed deep and tried to be brave. Then the thought overwhelmed me that this could be MY first Christmas, the one when I changed my standing in my own mind, it could be the first one when I stopped seeing myself as an unwanted daughter and instead see myself as a much loved wife, mother, friend, in essence, just me. Instead of dwelling on what wasn't, or on being a small part of someone else's Christmas, I should focus on what is, what's right in front of me which isn't second best anyway, it truly is incredible, all the gifts our family has. It's my turn to create a Christmas experience not only for my kids, but for myself as well, it's about time I had my own Christmas.

Sure enough, I did it, not by "white-knuckling" the whole service, but instead really singing with intention and joy, holding Allie in my arms, helping her with the glowing white candle, hearing the harmony and notes of one of my most favorite songs, and feeling the fullness of sound that comes from having so many bodies in such a small space.

When I awoke on Christmas morning I saw the sunrise above, taking that picture from our front steps just before presents. It had rained on Christmas Eve while we were up late still wrapping, but it stopped through the night, and in the morning the sun pushed back the clouds making way for a beautiful sunshiny day. It was filled with the usual excitement, gifts, piles of wrapping paper, meals, more presents, more food, family and the late night dishes that are left behind.

Exhasuted at the end of it all, I went upstairs to our room and Kevin said, "Honey, come here" and he motioned for me to sit on the bed beside him. "We need to talk". Uh oh, I thought, and felt my face go flush, surely I said or did something that was embarassing to him or me or someone else and didn't know it.

"What'd I do?" I asked.

"That was the BEST Christmas ever" he said, "thank you so much for making it so wonderful". And I felt the tears wanting to come out, the ones I had pushed back, and the lump rising up in my throat and I just put my head down on his arm and said, "Thank you...thank you... you don't know how much that means".

As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep replaying the activities of the day, I kept going back to that sunrise and that hard line of black clouds being pushed back by the sun. And then I felt it all over, my skin tingling, that I had talked to God with that picture and he reminded me once again that a new day always comes, that darkness gives way to light, that hope will dry every tear, and that if we are true to ourselves, then we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I missed it

I knew it'd been about a year since I began this blog and I was kind of avoiding the whole thing if you want to know the truth because I wasn't really in the mood to think about what I'd say about everything, you know a lot can happen in a year and it's pretty hard to sum up that much time in one little blog post. Sure enough when I checked, I started blogging a year and two days ago on the 20th of December 2007 and I missed the anniversary on purpose. Almost two hundred and thirty posts later I'm still writing, trying to take pictures the way I see the things around me, and learning every step of the way both in terms of what I'm thinking and what I'm seeing. It's been a fun journey, one I truly enjoy and I have no intention of stopping or even slowing down.

I took the time just now to reread my first post entitled "Simple Gifts" and was surprised that it still sounded like me. Just why that should be surprising I don't really know, I guess I thought my writing had changed some over the past year, but nope, it was still me, in love with family and confused about life and sad too.

If you read what I wrote, I can tell you that the man who wanted back then to move to some far off exotic land still has those thoughts even more now than ever. The little boy full of enthusiasm on his too-small bike still has that same zest for life, only now on his bike with room to grow. My little writer of a daughter fills books and note pads with her stories and love notes, only now she spells a bit better and writes sentences that are too long like her mother. My youngest is still wild, and loud, and so cute you just want to squeeze her, and so many do. The old friend who lost her daughter still bravely faces every day, full of life and love for the two daughters who remain, paying wonderful tribute to the one she'll never forget. The other friend on a ventilator lost her brave battle with breast cancer almost 10 months after that post. She fought to the exhausting end, leaving her strength behind to carry her grieving husband. And still the other is healthy and recovering, here for many more years if the doctors are right.

We just never know what's in store and I guess that's what both keeps us going and can scare us if we let it. It all just makes me think of a wedding card we received 10+ years ago from a lawyer/writer/author/neighbor, illustrated by her then four year old daughter. You'll like it, it goes a little like this:

May sunshine brighten your days,
May rainbows walk with you always,
May love fill your heart and days,
And may the mysteries and confusions of life reveal depth and wonder.

Yep, I'm right there, somewhere in the middle of mysteries and confusion, and she was right about the depth and wonder.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Berry merry

To the dissapointment of friends and commenters, the pink berry cluster of two posts ago did not morph into a ceiling fan pull, but rather became a new necklace style that I'm quite fond of. I made it yesterday morning and it made it's debut at the cookie swap. It was out again at a Christmas party last night and after for some late night, last minute shopping and then again at church this morning. It's really making the rounds.

There are many other color schemes in the works and it may even show up in my Etsy shop because the picture isn't half bad with my little point and shoot. It's hanging up there from the old door to the laundry room which is off our sunny little mudroom. Too bad my gifts of jewelry have all either gone out or are already made, otherwise this style surely would have found it's way into some gift bags. There's always next year.

I'm enjoying winding down now that all my pre-Christmas orders have gone out and am really looking forward to the few weeks the kids have off from school. No lunches to pack, no paperwork to keep up with, no having to make sure homework gets done, no school schedule to keep. Ahhhh. Enter baking. I really like to bake. Cooking's fine but I like baking better and I'm getting in the mood for more of it and now have the time. The bananas on the counter were just begging to be made into bread so I obliged.

This bread is from the recipe of my friend's now deceased grandmother and is simple, totally foolproof, smells divine and comes out looking like this every single time. It usually doesn't last two days around here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cookie swap

Tomorrow I'm going to my friend's third annual holiday cookie swap that I've missed the past two years because of work, so I'm more excited than I probably should be. Once I realized that what I planned to make didn't even qualify as cookies, I figured she'd probably stop inviting me. Kidding.

I decided I'd make peppermint bark, peanut brittle and fudge. Not a cookie in the group, but great additions to any holiday tin in my opinion. It was pure fate that while I was online to look up a recipe for the bark I came across one unexpectedly over at Soule Mama. Yes, it's easy, inexpensive and really really good!

As far as the peanut brittle and fudge go, I always turn to an old country church cookbook I have that has never failed me. I successfully avoided all dough rolling, icing, baking and cutting out and opted instead for melting, stirring and cooling.

I'm breathing a big sigh of relief with my last Christmas orders going out in today's mail and nothing in the queue, at least nothing that needs to be finished before Christmas that is. Well, unless you count the gifts I'm making/giving. Okay, so I'm not as done as I thought I was at the beginning of the paragraph. At least there's plenty of time to finish what I need to.

I'm looking forward to the kids being on break (she says this now) and an open wide schedule. I'm going to try to take them to a Nutcracker performance if the boy will agree to it, and other than that I'll just be trying to keep everyone from wriggling out of their skin with pre-Christmas giddiness. There is definitely more baking, wrapping and singing in our near future.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When the urge strikes

I'm usually more in a knitting mood than a jewelry making mood, so when the urge hits to make jewelry I have to jump on it. I've been making teacher gifts, busdriver gifts and filling some jewelry orders, so this morning was a full one. Up there is the back of the "red raspberry", my favorite part, and the silver pieces are creations by my friend, Karen who's been making jewelry for upwards of 10 years I'd say. I've spent the last year trying my best to convince her to start an Etsy shop. She sites technological ignorance as her excuse.

I also felt like doing some experimenting. I usually don't show my experiments because they aren't always on target, but this thing has me thinking and fooling around with some ideas. Trick is to figure out what to do with it.

Well, what would you do with it?

I've since unraveled it and am making a berry-like cluster to use as a pendant. I'll show you if it turns out!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Daily travels

It was time to restock some O-wool balance which meant heading into the city today to the only relatively local store that currently carries it. Despite the drive it's always a trip I look forward to, but I'm not so sure the store owners would say the same thing. We never fail to wreck the zen-like knitting ambience to varying degrees, based on the number of children I have along with me, the time of day and present mood of each. Luckily, it was just Allie and I today, which meant only having to tell her to stop messing with the yarn winder twice and catching her twice trying to unpin the newly knitted pieces they had blocking in the back. "Look with your eyes, not your fingers" is my frequently repeated mantra.

Now that I know the students from the local art school decorate their front window and store each Christmas, I'll have to make it a point to get down there each year this time. It was prettier than my pictures can convey, but here goes anyway.

And, as always, there was a good bit of goofing around in the wavy mirror outside the funky toy store next door. That's how I identify the yarn store for the kids. It's the one with the funny mirror outside and the dog that doesn't want to be petted. It's not his fault, he has a sketchy past, but at least now he has a nice family and gets to hang out with yarn all day. Lucky dog.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Now that I've found peace at last,
tell me Jesus,
will it last?

Now that I've found peace of mind,
tell me Jesus,
is it mine?

--lyrics from "Peace at Last" by The Blue Nile

In the midst of the frantic and often reckless pace of this Christmas season, it's easy to get swept up and lose sight of the peace and calm. I've been doing my fair share to contribute to the frenzy, convincing myself once again today that I'm one of the world's worst shoppers, this while trying to find something to wear to a party this weekend. No wonder I came home empty handed.

But the peace and calm really does exist and I've been reminded lately to look for it. I hear it when my youngest bursts into song over the radio in the car, and saw it when my oldest couldn't fall asleep last night before his Christmas program today, and am reminded of it by the little decorations all over the house that tell me to slow down.

I am thankful for this time, and how the Chrstmases of distant past full of turmoil and anger have given way to those filled with love, togetherness and the true excitement and wonder I see in my children and my home, even with all it's quirks and modesty.

Here's wishing you peace this holiday season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting ready

Each year as the kids get a little older I seem to be that much more on top of getting ready for Christmas. Of course there's a ton left to be done, but I'm not in panic mode as in years past. Allie's birthday is also in December which throws in a nice little twist as does the fact that it's such a busy time for the business. And then on Dec. 26th it all comes to a screeching halt. Empty boxes and wrapping paper are strewn everywhere and Kevin and I find the couch so inviting after all the excitement and goings on.

I again have high hopes for finding the time (and yarn) to make socks and a sweater for myself, but I say that every year and so far I've failed miserably. I'm currently on the quest for the perfect pattern. Maybe this time I'll actually stick to it instead of improvising.

The kids are keeping us up-to-date on the daily countdown to Christmas with the Advent calendar and can hardly stand the wait. Their teachers may be in for an interesting week, and I will be in for an interesting two weeks that follow with them home from school.

Lauren let her teacher in on a little secret I thought I'd share about the all school spelling bee she's in but doesn't want to go to. Her teacher right now is actually a good friend who is the long-term substitute for her regular teacher during maternity leave, so she readily fills me in on everything that goes on. You know how I said we were bribing her to go with a doll, which she whole-heartedly agreed to? Well, she told my friend that while the spelling bee was going on, we'd be out buying her a doll, so she would just let us THINK she participated when she really didn't and would get the doll anyway. Alarming deception from our 6 year old. I fear the teen years.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's not just me

I'm not the only one in the family particularly drawn to the sunrise. While I missed it this morning, Kevin caught it for me on his fishing trip. Enjoy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuning out the noise

It was definitely Friday, my body felt it as I slipped out of bed and into an old pair of khakis, you know, the kind that are frayed around the bottoms and pocket openings, just a tad too big and soft as an old cotton sheet. I threw on a big wool sweater I've had for 10 years plus, that looks just as good as the day I got it and rolled downstairs to get the fire gowing strong again. My legs were tired, my hands stiff and my eyes were still half-closed. The day had begun, there were children to pack off to school and another endless "to do" list to tackle.

Half way through the day I ran into a good friend and in the process of normal chit chat I asked her how her week had been. The answer was a little rough and she said she'd been listening to the noise. She said she had to remind herself of what I'd told her, that she shouldn't listen to the noise, that the noise was not the truth, that it was the way of the old life, not the new one. We call noise the nay-sayers, the negative influences, the people who aren't necessarily your adversaries, but you know good and well that they're definitely NOT on your team.

As I listened to my own advice that I'd given a few months back, I soaked it in as if it was new information, this time from her to me, it was a gift, running into her at just the right time. I'd been playing my own noise over and over again all week, like a broken record, and one I just couldn't seem to turn off.

How much easier is it to look in on other people's lives than our own sometimes. If I've said it before I'll say it again, often the advice we most freely give is that which we most need to heed ourselves. One day I'll learn.

I thought you might like to check in on Sunny, see how she's grown? She sits so well on command, fetches and retrieves and even drops the tennis ball when I tell her to. What a great dog, all 7 months of her.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life's little ironies

Used to be I couldn't wait to get to the library to look at a new issue of Country Living magazine. It was a brief time out, in a quiet place, where the kids were safe to play and look at books and I could linger over every pretty page without the interruption of laundry, cleaning, etc. I would check out old issue after old issue to look at late at night while everyone else was asleep, or even better, I would sometimes find back copies in the free bin that quickly became mine.

About a year ago I started getting the subscription, a special offer at $5 for the whole year! As soon as an issue would come I'd drop everything and page quickly through it once and then go over it more slowly in the days that followed. They began piling up on my bedside table.

But gradually over the year, with each issue, my anticipation lessened and my fervor to devour every page waned. And when yesterday's copy showed up in my mailbox I said to myself, "When in the world am I going to have time to read that?".

Funny how life is sometimes. That the things we treasure the most are those which we don't have, or those that require the most work and effort. I'm contemplating cancelling my subscription.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Life in these little things

The candles are in the windows and I am standing still. I think about the day, pictures swirling in my head.

Our youngest turned 5 with her pigtails and pink ribbons, carrying a purse, notebook and pen with her wherever she goes. She giggles and hops up and down with all the attention and cupcakes.

Our 6 year old became one of the top two finalists in the whole 1st grade spelling bee and when she realized what she'd done and would have to go to the whole school bee, she shook her head, crinkled her nose and whispered loudly to the teacher in front of everyone, "I really don't want to go... I'm not gonna go."

On the way out of school we caught the tail end of our 8 year old elf in play practice for the Christmas musical, fervently involved in the "twist" dancing to Elvis-like music. "John, your mom's here!" a classmate yell-whispered and several hands went up to wave.

The candles are in the windows and I am standing still. There is life in these little things that I'm afraid I might forget. So I write them down so one day I can remember.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In the running

Sometimes my "in box" has little gifts inside like the message I got today from Etsy Admin (what?!) that my little green hand knit bunny (pictured above) was in the running for their Holiday 2008 Best Toy Contest!! They chose 60 of their favorites to be voted on by the Etsy public and the ones that get the most votes will be in the holiday gift guides very soon. As for now, you can go vote for your favorite toy up until noon on Friday, Dec. 12th. What do you say, send a little love my way?

Click the link below to see all 60 choices and vote for your favorite.

You must be signed in to Etsy to be able to vote. If you don't have an Etsy user name, they'll walk you through the steps. It's easy, painless and free!

p.s. I highly recommend the gift guides--they are a quick an easy way to see a snapshot of some of the great stuff on Etsy. I visit them often! Why not buy handmade this Christmas??

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This small town

There's a certain quiet out here that's present only when the sun is just coming up or almost down that I don't find any other time of the day. Even with the three children scurrying about early this morning, digging out snow pants and waterproof gloves, excited and giddy about last night's snowfall, it is a time of magic and wonder, where the past and present collide and it seems like it might last forever.

It is these times that endear me to my surroundings, growing closer each day not to the house, but to this place and the outdoors that we also call ours. I went to NYC once, and although it undeniably has an energy and specialness all it's own, after three days I felt terribly closed in, stifled, wary, scared, caged. I need to be able to see past the nearest building in order to feel alive.

We are hardly out in the middle of nowhere, living so close to a major city full of every convenience imaginable, but driving home just a little further than most, it truly feels like an escape to a simpler and slower pace. Imagination thrives here, nurtured by time, beauty and the lack of constant comparison to ones neighbors. It causes an inward focus that nurtures the soul from which grows generosity and outreach among some, keeping many small town traditions and values very much alive. The people that are drawn here are a diverse group and yet the same in some very basic ways.

So while I was surprised to meet a neighbor this weekend who used to work with Joelle Hoverson (!) (of Purl Soho, the purl bee and Purl Patchwork) at Martha Stewart Living, I wasn't surprised at the same time. That's what it's like here, on the one hand we live a few miles from an $18 million dollar mansion, and on the other we are keenly aware that nearly 100 homes in the county still have no running water. Certain areas are saturated with horse farm after horse farm, while our church feeds 20-30 families every Wednesday night from its food pantry. It is a study in contrasts even though it only boasts a population of about 26,000.

And here we are, somewhere in the middle to witness it all, just trying to make our lives our own and raise children who love life and each other. We are growing right along with them, continually uncovering parts of ourselves that were either buried or never there to begin with, amazed at the confluence of all the bits and pieces of our lives, taking credit for none of it, but languishing in the wonder and glory of a greater plan than we ever could have imagined.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mittens and stars

Normally it wouldn't take me two days to finish just one mitten, but that's precisely what has happened. I've been seriously distracted these days by things like Christmas, a certain little girl's 5th birthday fast approaching, making sure I'm on top of all that's going on with the kids, shopping for gifts on Etsy, and going on a very long search for the perfect Christmas tree topper.

We put the tree up last Sunday and when it came time to set the dilapidated angel up in its usual post, Kevin and I both said, nope, not this year. It needs to be a star. At which time the debate ensued about how I thought when we bought that angel he said we HAD to have an angel on top of the tree when I wanted a star and how he said we just bought it because we couldn't find anything better. I think we've had this same conversation every year for the past 10 and the end result is the same. The junky ol' wicker angel goes on top of the tree. Yes, I said wicker. Last year I remember thinking it was cute (that was the first time for that) but now it just looks sad and so I'm on a quest for a star.

I came up empty handed today, even searching out some of the cutest boutique-y places in the city. But I'm probably kidding myself because even if I find one I like I'll probably think it's too expensive. I came close at one store, Smith and Hawken, and of course their star was $42 and in my opinion waaaay too glittery. The girls would have loved it. Isn't $42 alot to pay for a star? I thought so, but then my idea of prices tends to be stuck back in the '80s and so when I see stars for $42 or jeans for $175 I'm taken aback.

And so one of two things may happen. Either the angel will go back atop the tree, or in true diy fashion, there just might be a home made star in the works.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bits and pieces

I tried to think of one title for this post that would encompass everything but it was nearly impossible. This may be a bit list-y but here goes.

Above you see the chocolate dipped pink lilac booties I finally listed in the shop. And on the topic of booties, I've been seriously remiss in announcing my rekindled friendship and affiliation with an incredible website called Craftsbury Kids. I sold some dolls with her back almost a year ago, and now she's offering a nice selection of my baby booties too! The link above sends you directly to the "meet the artists" page where you can see me :) and while you're there if you click the picture of the baby bootie it will show you the whole selection. We've already had our first sale and I'm so excited for what is to come. Thank you, Cecelia!

Currently on the needles (between making booties) are a pair of hot pink mittens. The brown one is from my favorite personal pair, the ones I wear nearly every day and from the pattern I made up as I went last winter. They are so warm in wool and mohair so I decided to spread the love and there was this hot pink yarn just sitting there so I said, why not? I'm getting them ready for a show this weekend.

I much prefer making mittens on two needles rather than in the round, I think they're much quicker.

As for the last bit, I thought I'd share the story from last night's dinner preparation. One of my favorite things about my kitchen is the under the cabinet radio with CD player Kevin bought me for Christmas a few years ago. It makes cooking so much more fun, since we have an old house that doesn't have a great room with stereo or TV access or people access for that matter. The radio keeps me company. So last night I had one song on repeat (I love that feature), "Old Man" by Neil Young. Now I'm not a huge Neil Young fan, but I definitely have admiration for the guy, anyone who can write and sing a song like that has something special, no matter how off beat he may be as a person. So I was dancing and singing and cooking and repeating off in my own little world, with the strange need to hear that song over and over and over and Kevin walks in and says facetiously, "gonna listen to a little Neil, honey?", raises his eyebrows as if to say, "what has gotten into you?" and walks out.

I love being married, and comfortable, and secure, not having to worry about what he thinks about me, just knowing that I can be a little off beat myself and each day we do nothing but grow closer together. Anyway, he should be happy, it's his CD.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Making room

I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have
More than you think
You need more space

--lyrics from "Society" by Eddie Vedder (Into the Wild soundtrack)

Thankfully I don't subscribe to the lyrics above, always needing and wanting more, especially in the way of a house, or at least I check myself when what I have isn't enough. We don't live in a shoebox, nor do we live in a mansion (who would clean it?) but the space we have we fully utilize, so putting up the Christmas tree always involves some furniture rearranging.

Each year it's a little different and each year Kevin isn't keen on the idea and threatens to burn the piano if I make him move it one more time. Point taken. Somehow this year it was a quick and easy process and I need to take pictures so I remember how we did it for next year.

We know our jobs well by now. Kevin moves boxes in and furniture around and puts up the tree. (Yes, it's artificial due to his extreme allergies and my conscience when I realize I've killed a living thing.) I fluff the branches and put up the lights and the kids have a hay day with the ornaments. The bottom branches are dripping with them, hung 5 to a branch, backwards and nearly falling off, while the top remains bare. At some point I come along later and even things out, securing the heaviest and most breakable.

Every year I remember my favorite thing to do at Christmastime, which was to get all the way under the tree on my back and stare up the middle of it at all the ornaments and lights. I used to squint over and over to see how many different ways I could distort them, and every year I'm tempted to get back under the tree and do it again. Maybe this is the year it will actually happen.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Taking it slow

I've been following the cat's advice today which is to do as little as possible. Unlike her however I've decided it's best not to swat or hiss at anyone who disturbs my peace, although the relentless pleading of the kids to put up ALL the Christmas decorations while making homemade pizza doughs pushed me close to the edge.

I was pretty wiped out yesterday and today, I guess from the buildup before Thanksgiving even though I really didn't feel overwhelmed by it all, just busy. I awoke this morning after 9 hours of sleep (!) still exhasuted and experiencing sensations reminiscent of the mono fiasco of February '08. So I decided it was best to wake ever so slowly, sit with a cup of coffee by the fire, watch more Monopoly, let the knitting sit and take a late walk with Sunny.

How different my route looks now compared to just a few weeks ago. Kevin spent several hours on the tractor with the leaf-sucker-upper today getting the last of them up. There is just no way to rake them all, unless maybe we had 10 kids.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


There's been alot of this going on here lately. After a more complete run through the rules and strategy (you can see they have the properties face down on community chest) the air in the house is growing increasingly competitive. That is, competition coming from our oldest, directed at our middle child who now holds all the high end properties complete with buildings and a nice wad of cash. John's stockpile is dwindling and/or mortgaged which irks him to no end, while his sister usually operates under the motto: Oh, you like money? I have money. Want some money? This game may never end.

Yes, the turkey was a success.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How I almost ruined the turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving

Okay, well it wouldn't have really been my fault if the turkey was ruined, but Thanksgiving would have been seriously botched had I not checked in on the turkey yesterday. I bought it fresh last week from Trader Joe's (yes, I'm sick of hearing myself talk about that place too and I promise to stop), sealed in a bag in a brine, guaranteed to be good 'till early December as long as the bag was not opened. I just happened to want to check the weight of it yesterday to estimate cooking time when I realized it was sitting in a puddle of brine in the plastic bag it was in. It didn't smell bad yet, but definitely smelled like raw bird and a chill went up my spine. I quickly was on the phone to the store, told them there was a puncture in the bag and the man said, "Oh, you need to bring that in so we can give you another one." Hallelujah. I don't think Wal Mart would have told me the same thing, do you? So I'm on turkey #2 and keep checking it every few hours. Yes, I know that's obessive.

I've been working like crazy lately, hence the decrease in posting frequency and here's some of the latest:

they're done in O-wool again this time with a pumkin-y color that makes me think of Thanksgiving. I don't have much of it so I'm tempted to just see what the response is locally before I list it in my Etsy shop. What do you think, should I call it "pumpkin cream" or "pumpkin spice" or some other name more fun than orange and cream?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

By chance

I'm without a picture for you today, at the time when I most need one. I was thinking about my last post today and how frequently (or infrequently) one might see "the brightest orange you can find and the brightest turquoise you can find" together in one place, unless perhaps you're talking about a sports team. And then I was driving home from a little sale I participated in, tired, sinking into my seat with the sun setting and me on the offramp, going around a big bend in the road just so happy to be going to my house, family, woodstove, pets and I saw it. Up in the sky were the brightest orange clouds and the brightest turquoise sky I'd ever seen. Together, in one place, like they belonged that way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The beauty of handmade

My instructions were this, make a necklace like the one above but with the brightest orange you can find and the brightest turquoise you can find, they're "her colors" (followed by a giggle). Taking orders for Christmas presents is sometimes a little daunting because you don't always know if the recipient will be happy. It's a much more comfortable situation to have something already made, have someone love it and buy it. That way you know for sure they'll be happy.

So I obliged anyway, crossing my fingers the whole time. Orange--bright. Turquoise--bright. Put them together and you have this:

The picture may be a bit grainy but you can get the effect. If that's what she loves, that's what she'll get and it certainly is one of a kind. Making things by hand ensures that there are no two alike and you can ask for whatever pleases you.

My favorite as always isn't the front of the necklace, it's really the back.

Done in the raspberry color, it looks like the real thing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Knitting with tree trunks

I'm a mid-range knitting needle kind of girl. You can usually find me using anything from size 4's to 8's, but sometimes I branch out. That super chunky yarn I bought the other day requires huge needles which I didn't even have so I had to buy some 17's at the same time. Talk about a different knitting experience, they're almost too big to hold! Don't get me wrong, it was fun to make the scarf above and yes, fairly quick. I'm so fond of it and it's so cozy that I want to keep it for myself, or gift it so I can see it often and remember how good it feels.

In other news, I bought my turkey today for Thanksgiving. Thrilling, I know, but I'm beginning to be impressed with how I'm changing my often last-minute ways. It has been a nail-biter in past years as to whether or not I'd actually have the thing thawed in time for the big day. Best part is it isn't frozen and it's already brined so Kevin and I don't have to wrangle it into a sheet rock bucket full of salty water and then in the already packed fridge the night before. Trader Joe's, you're the best.

I've even been buying Christmas presents here and there which hasn't gone unnoticed by Kevin. I got an "I'm proud of you" the other night for it. He's just glad he won't have to deal with my last minute stress next month. At least let's hope it goes that well!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


picture of our brief snow, it lasted all of two minutes

I overheard Lauren and Allie playing today. There was pounding, jumping and labored breathing coming from the family room and Lauren's priceless commentary, oblivious that I was listening in.

"I'm trying to fly...stomp, jump, huff, puff...it's almost working...I'm staying up a little longer!!-----------I'm still trying to fly...grunt, fall, stomp...I'm training...I'm IN training for flying--------------Here! Fly over this chair, Allie!!"-----

It's days like these that make me wonder how long innocence lasts, and why it doesn't and where it goes and who puts it there? Or maybe bits and pieces of it remain, buried deep, only to be unearthed by our children as it begs us to remember back to what it was like to be little and honestly believe that you maybe, really could, if you tried hard enough...fly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun in a bag

If you'd told me 7 years ago that a bag full of scrumptious yarn would make me a little giddy, I'd probably have looked at you funny. But things change as they do and today I went looking for some of my old stand bys and came home with those and some new things to try. I can't wait to dive into the ones above. It's 100% virgin wool and some of the softest stuff ever. Huge and chunky, a quick knit, I might have to hide it in the freezer so I do the work I'm supposed to be doing first.

I also bought some Berroco "Peruvia", gorgeous Peruvian highland wool and some of their Pure Merino too which is so soft and springy. But instead of getting going on all of that I have to make 4 more hats and 3 pairs of booties today to ship out tomorrow morning. Think it's going to be a late night.

So I'm in front of the fire right now yarn in my lap, computer in front, with my toes on the slate hearth, trying to toast them. Anyone else out there with Raynaud's? The worst is when the tippy tops of my ears itch, burn, turn bright red and swell to three times their size and stick out from my head in the middle of winter. Long hair helps hide them and I suppose a knitted hat would help if I didn't look so goofy in hats. Yes, you heard me right, the person who makes hundreds of hats every year only wears them under the cover of darkness or when skiing. And now at the risk of providing TMI I'm off to do what I'm supposed to be doing.