Sunday, December 23, 2012

Looks (and tastes) like Christmas

Finally, amidst the whirlwind of it all, there was time for baking.

Peppermint bark is a family favorite and so easy I can't help but make several batches.

Layer cookies, my husband's favorite, are a must.

And then are the pfeffernusse, the very old, traditional German Christmas cookie, the one I grew up eating by the handfuls, dunked in milk, coffee or just plain.  I haven't made them for years but decided I needed to start again because they're just that special and my kids need to know about them.  There are many variations it seems, ours appears to be somewhat Americanized and the shape may be specific to our family.  Whatever the case, they're perfect for dunking, one little clover leaf at a time.

This tub full may not make it all the way till Christmas.

I'll have them with my coffee for breakfast while they last...the kids had theirs with hot chocolate...too good.  Some things just feel like Christmas and without them it's not quite right.


Sunday, December 9, 2012


It was a bad week.  I had a bum elbow (which is on the mend), a run-in with the past that rocked me and the worst of the worst patient experiences.  It reaffirmed why I am not a social worker or cop.  I can't handle the evil in the world.

I'm okay now thanks to family and friends but need a little peace, some quiet.  I plan to read, return to knitting, sit, run of course and prepare for the holidays. I need as much normal as I can get.  I'd like to tell my story with pictures for a bit, it feels like the thing to do.  I hope you'll stick with me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I have painter's elbow.  Or knitter's elbow.  Or maybe you know it as tennis elbow, only I feel funny calling it that because I haven't been playing tennis but it's the same thing.  I've been painting, most recently my youngest daughter's bedroom right after Thanksgiving (to top off all the other painting) and knitting.  I managed to finish the hat and forgot to take pictures for you before I sent it off last week.  Oh well.  That one will have to remain a mystery.

The bad news is I have a little tendonitis in my right elbow.  The good news is I know how to fix it.  The bad new is I'm a terrible patient and have ignored it and let it worsen by knitting with it and doing other things to aggravate it.  The good news is I started treating myself last night and am responding to therapy.  The bad news is I'm impatient.  The good news is my feet and legs still work.  The bad news is it's still painful just to pick up my coffee mug this morning.  The good news is I went for a great run yesterday afternoon when it was 60+ degrees outside and snapped some aftershots for you.

So, instead of showing you my knitted works-in-progress you get to see little snippets of sunset from my house post-run taken with my phone, not my real camera.  It's the best I can do, busy life and bum elbow and all.  Next time I'll do better.  And I'll see if I can't talk some sense into that wayward patient inside, she wants to knit and still has to paint a door and the trim around two windows.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Knees to the ground: mountain biking edition

{a recurring series, a post between friends, inspired by a mini-meditation retreat led by Karen Maezen Miller. we are grateful she showed up.}
Clair and I had an opportunity yesterday, the kind we couldn't pass up.  We were invited to go mountain biking with friends. 
Important fact:  friends are mountain biking experts as noted by the bike turned upside down below (only a pro does that, the rest of us aren't that cool).  Clair and I are extreme beginners.

We had no idea what we were getting into, in fact, I don't even know Maureen all that well, but we've been itching to tackle the outdoors together.  I knew we were in trouble when she changed shoes.

{Maureen, fearless leader, giving us the low-down}

{my (husband's) sweet ride} 

{Clair and the last-minute lipstick app in her husband's sweet ride}
We were joined by Suzanne (not pictured) another seasoned pro and took off like the grinning, goofy, naive, forty-somethings we are, ready to get schooled and have our arses kicked royally.
To recap, we were led by Maureen (codename: Rocket) who's been biking for 12+ years and says it's "her sport" (yes, by golly, it is).  Then came Suzanne (codename: Ponytail) who'd been riding horses all morning and made our ride look like she was taking a nap.  Next, Clair, (codename: Lipstick), who you may already know, and it is she who gets the hero award for the day for it was discovered that she brought a hybrid bike (codename: Beach Cruiser) that weighed 50 lbs.  Last, and I do mean last was me, (codename: Pokey) who just tried to keep up and not look like a fool.
It was a gorgeous, warm day.

A little shaky on the uphills...and the downhills, who am I kidding?  I held on for dear life and tried not to fly off my bike.  It was thrilling.  It was also slow.

We had no problem covering the rear.

We're comin! (dweebs in unintentionally matching white helmets)
shew! (look at that weakness in Pokey's L shoulder--who is her PT?)  Not you, Lipstick, you look like a champ.
And when it was all over we decided to have a little sit on the edge of the wheat field at the entrance, onlookers be damned!  We grabbed our zafus, set the timer on my phone and sat in silence (meditating) for a bit, till the first car came and I started giggling and Clair thought I was throwing up and we both got the giggles and couldn't stop laughing and then the second car came and the ambiance was trashed but we did it anyway. One new experience met by another.  My arms tingled in the cool breeze from the fatigue and sweat of the ride and it felt good to have made new friends and to be outside and together, revisiting something I once loved (and still love) to do.




Sunday, December 2, 2012

Feels like Christmas

Yesterday my youngest and I traveled down to the city to a local art/craft show, perfect for pre-Christmas planning and shopping.

She prized a doll, originally minus the face and hat, and named her Carrie. 

Without intending to, I made a serious dent in my gift purchases.  From little packages,

to the prettiest chocolates,

and things that come in little boxes, I walked away loaded down and with empty pockets.  I finally met a friend of a friend who's married to an old high school buddy of my husband's (I've heard the stories for years), and even ran into this guy who remembers me from my selling days, apparently we were in a show together what seems like eons ago.  And that's when it hit me, what a tiny town Richmond really is.

A local show like that will put me in the Christmas spirit much more than the mall.  I like seeing what I don't usually see, really things I've never seen before and I always come away inspired.  Tired, but inspired, enough to decorate the tree.  The kids have taken that over though.  For the past three years at least I let them do it entirely after I string the lights.  I realized any control I wanted to have over how the tree was decorated was a futile attempt, so now I sit back, relax, listen to the music and watch the mayhem unfold.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'm picky like that

I've been looking for the perfect cream-colored scarf for too long.  When you're picky about how you spend money the search can be long, tiring, and before you know it you've gone whole seasons without what you want.  Yes, this is me and it's annoying.
The knitter's solution is to make what is needed.  So I am.  I think.

the yarn: illimani royal I

the pattern:  snowflake scarf

Pictured above is my slow start. 

I do have a way of making things difficult.  The pattern calls for bulky yarn, big needles, a quick knit.  I've decided to make it with little yarn, little needles.  It's much slower work, especially when there aren't long, open blocks of time for knitting. I do love the way it's working up however, light, exquisitely soft, I suppose it will be worth the wait. I tried a new cast on too, just to keep things interesting, to teach myself something I haven't done before and I'm hooked on it.

And to keep myself honest, I even posted the project on Ravelry.  You can follow it here if you're so inclined.