Thursday, December 28, 2006

An Open Letter

Yeah, I know it's Thursday and I should play my own game, but I don't feel like it. I'm sort of Christmas-ed out. (Sherry, did you fall off your chair? Sorry - I should have warned you to sit down first.) Next week I'll be back with fresh Three Things Thursdays for all of you out there. Today, I have a letter for a lurker. For all of you not named Christy, you should know that she is a dear friend from high school that I have not seen in quite a while. Five years? Probably more. We were partners on the debate team, and while you may find that a bit geeky, I'll have you know that we were good and we won several tournaments and I think we made a young man almost cry with our clever rebuttal. But I digress . . .

Dear Christy,

Thank you so much for your gift. It meant more to me than words can say (although I'll put together lots of words here to try and tell you about it). I was actually speechless when I opened it. When I received the package, I put it under the tree without opening it. We have received lots of packages in the past few weeks, and because the kids were getting crazy about the gifts, we laid down the law and said that all packages must be saved for Christmas morning. (Except the perishables - I got to open those as soon as they arrived.) So here we were, ripping open gifts left and right, when someone handed me that package and I opened it. "Who's that from?" Stuart asked me as I was reading your letter. I looked up at him and opened my mouth, and nothing came out. Nothing. I closed my mouth and tried again, but still, couldn't do it. After a few more tries, I was able to tell him it was from you. (He says Hi, by the way. We had a nice moment reliving high school memories, then he brought up the DA - remember that? I brought him as my date, and he ended up knowing almost everyone there and I spent the night talking with you while he worked the room. He loves reminding me of that night. Funny, isn't he?) The kids couldn't figure out why such a nice gift brought me to tears, but I'm sure you understand.

Thank you for thinking of me. I love the candles and the beaded thingies that go around them (I have a weakness for anything beaded, actually). They are on the table right now and they are lovely. I'm going to light them up on New Years Eve and think fondly of you. I'm glad you like the blog and it makes me happy knowing you are out there reading this stuff. The next time we are in the bay area, I'll let you know and maybe we can have coffee and you can meet the kiddos.

Love,
Sheila

Gold Star


Uncle Jon, you did it again! It is a sock!

Last night, I turned the heel. It was all the knitting magic that I hoped it would be. Now I'm working on the foot part. Special thanks to my mom for the sweet striping yarn, which makes five inches of plain knitting fascinating.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Knit Bit: Take Two

Guess again!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Must Watch Myth Busters

If you haven't seen the Diet Coke & Mentos episode of Myth Busters, you're missing out. The great internet video experiment is here. There is some chemical reaction that happens when the candy mentos hit the diet coke that produces an explosion. It's fun. Santa must have seen it, because . . .
this was under our Christmas tree.

Yeah, we all had fun with that gift.

Christmas Day



Christmas Eve

Greetings Bloggers! We have had a very restful, relaxing Christmas around here. Of course, I have a few pictures to share with you . . . .

On Christmas Eve morning, we went to see Night at the Museum. A fantastic movie! Kids and adults alike had a very fun time and I think this movie is really really great. Then we came home to relax and clean up the house. We went to an evening church service and sang carols and greeted friends. Very nice. Then we came home to bake cookies for Santa, open one (ONE!) gift, and watched Pirates of the Carribean. (Yes, that's what we watched. It was fun. We had already watched Elf and It's A Wonderful Life and all the Christmas specials. We needed something different.)

Samuel helps make cookies.

Sally and Samuel write a note to Santa on the special Cookies for Santa plate.

Presents!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Knit Bit: Gift Bags

Earlier this month, I knitted these darling little bags as gifts for birthday parties. They are the perfect size for a gift card - for Michaels craft store, where else? The handles are silver bangle bracelets and I used a regular yarn with fun fur yarn. Super fun. A girl can never have enough purses, you know.




I finally finished these bags that I have been working on since June. June! Of course, I've been distracted by many other knitting projects, but these have always been in the background. They are little book bags for my bookclub friends. They were pretty fun to make - especially since the pattern is one that I made up all by myself. They are the perfect size for a paperback book. Aren't they fun? No, I won't make you one. I'm not even going to make me one for a few weeks because at the end, I was working on them every day and the double stranded worsted weight yarn on size 5 needles sort of hurt my hands.



No, here's what I'm knitting now:

Any guesses as to what that is? First one with the right answer gets a gold star!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Still More

Last night we went to Irvine Park to ride the train and see Santa. We have never done this before, and while it was cold and very crowded, we did have a fun time.

Sally took this picture of us.

Samuel was excited to see Santa, but Sally was a little skeptical.

Favorite Fotos Friday

Yeah! I did it! (Computer tip: restart everything and try again.) Lots of pictures for you. Let's start off with the gingerbread house - big thanks to Grandma Tina and Grandpa Ken for sending us the kit. The kids loved it!

I showed Sally how to work the icing, and she did everything herself!

Here's Samuel's preschool Christmas program. Can you find him?


Hint: He's in the front :)

More Pics!

Here's Samuel singing with his class:


And here's one to show you how big the event was:

Yeah, that's a lot of kids.

Favorite Fotos Friday

@#$%&

I have lots of great photos to post today. Only they are in my camera, and my camera is not playing nice with my computer, and the computer is telling me that it does not recognize my camera, which is a lie because they have traded photo files lots and lots of times. It defies logic. I'm going to disconnect everything and reconnect and give it another shot, but I fear that I need help. I'll have to wait until the computer genius of the family gets home and figures it out for me. Sorry people. Come back tomorrow.

And There Was Great Rejoicing

I got an email yesterday that made me so happy.

They have released the title of book 7.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The end is near. I cannot wait!

!!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Three Things Thursday

Samuel's preschool Christmas program was last night. (It was supposed to be two weeks ago, but a plumbing problem closed the school and it had to be rescheduled.) It was such a blast. With kids that age, anything can happen. It doesn't matter how many times you practice. Some highlights for me were:

THREE kids who, while looking out at the crowd of parents, burst into tears and had to be rescued by their teacher.

TWO kids who absolutely refused to sing. These kids were so funny. One kid was embarrassed by the fact that his mother stood up and waved to him when he took the stage. He turned around and stood with his back to us for the whole song. He even threw his bell down in the middle of the song.

ONE darling son of mine, who stood up there looking a little bored until he spotted me in the front taking a picture and his face broke into a huge smile and he waved at me. Oh, his cuteness makes me weak!

Tomorrow --- pictures!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who Are They?

Here's what I want to know: who are these Jewish people who are really upset about Christmas trees? Because it seems to me that every story I hear about the upsetting nature of Christmas cheer there is someone who doesn't believe in anything getting upset on behalf of people who believe something else.

Come on, people. If Neil Diamond, who is Jewish (right?), can sing Christmas songs about the baby Jesus, then what's the problem? Ben Stein, who is also Jewish, has commented that he enjoys the entire holiday season and has no problem being wished Merry Christmas. Myself, I would love it if someone blessed me with a "Happy Hanukkah" greeting. Believe in something or believe in nothing - that's the good thing about living in a free country. But still, let's play nice together.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Today I was a teacher again. I subbed for a second grade class at my daughter's school. It was my first job as a substitute teacher. I was a little nervous. I was a little excited. I was a little worried that elementary school would be too far a departure from high school and I would freak out the kids - or them me.

I had a ball.

Seriously, the kids at this school are the nicest group of kids I have ever met. One girl was the secretary for the week and she took attendance while the rest of the kids sat down and started their morning work. These are seven and eight year olds! I had the best time with them. If I didn't understand something, I asked this little know-it-all that sat on the left and he filled me in on what's next and how I do it. Two girls sat up the overhead for me. Another girl wanted to collect every paper every time, and her friend wanted to help pass things out. We did reading, spelling & grammar, they went to PE, then recess, then we did math (yea! I love math!) until lunch. I sat with Sally and her little friends for lunch, which they LOVED, and then went out to the playground to talk with my friend who does playground duty at lunch. Then it was computer lab and science and that's the day. Elementary school goes by very fast.

Samuel is loving preschool now that he gets a bed to take a nap at school. Funny, he's not very fond of napping at home, but at school it's very cool.

So now I'm home and I've got to work on my Christmas cards, because having the flu got me very behind on the Christmas plans. Then I have to make some dinner and play some puzzles with Samuel and read with Sally. She's still reading The Twits by Roald Dahl. If you have a second or third grader, they'd love this book. It cracks her up.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sleeping With Bread Monday

I'm happy to report that I have been feeling better and better each day, and that I am still the only member of our little family that was sick with the flu. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this, because I can only imagine how awful it would be to care for a three year old who was sick like I was. Awful.

So, for the things I am least grateful for this past week, I'd have to say the flu, fevers, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a mom of young kids and being sick. One day I couldn't even get the kids to school because one of our cars didn't work so Stu took the one that did work to work and there was no way I could walk them to school. I thought about getting them a ride from a friend, but in my delirious state, all I could think of is getting a phone call that my dear daughter was in the school office with the flu and I needed to come get her and how would I be able to do that? The enormity of this single thought drove me to tears (I do cry alot when I have the flu) and I hugged both kids and told them they had a play day together. They played so well together, building a fort in the living room and coming in for frequent cartoons and crackers.

So I am most grateful for my health. Nothing like being sick makes being healthy seem like such a sweet blessing. Today, my head does not hurt, my body does not ache, and I am a normal temperature. I can think of food and not feel sick. I can eat food and not be sick. I am also very thankful for my family, who really took care of me. Sally was especially great, bringing me water, putting her cool hand on my head and giving me the "sorry you are so sick" look, and praying for me. She's the best. Stuart came home early from work with Happy Meals for the kids and then went to the store and kept the house together. Samuel, well, he stayed out of my way and didn't fight with Sally very much, which is about the best he can do right now.

Hope you are all healthy and looking forward to Christmas! One week to go!

Friday, December 15, 2006

I hate being sick.

I came down with the flu on Wednesday. I was in bad shape through Thursday. I won't even tell you the details. I am feeling a bit better, but I'm still sipping liquids and attempting to eat crackers. My head is killing me and I keep needing to lie down. I'm the only one affected in the house - THANK GOD FOR THAT! Later I'll tell you all about how I get really weird dreams when I run a fever, how I am really weepy when I am throwing up, and how I was so sick that I didn't even want to read or watch TV or talk to anyone but just lie in the dark and think fondly of death. Yeah, I know you're really looking forward to that post. But now I have to go get a dish of ice chips and lie on the couch for an hour or so. This typing has worn me out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Well, Samuel got my cold, so he's in my bed with a box of kleenex, a trash can, and the remote. He's not so bad today - yesterday was much worse - but I'm still keeping him home from school. Also, Stu's car isn't working, so he took mine and he'll fix his tonight. So, I'm at home today. It's not too bad - I have lots of things to do to keep me busy, and the only things I really needed to do I can do tomorrow.

Other than needing to clean the house, put away four loads of laundry, and update and balance my checkbook, not too much is new over here. I ordered some yarn and I've been waiting for it, but I really don't know why because I won't be able to use it for a bit because I have four projects going now. One will be done very soon, and the others don't have a deadline, so I can take my time.

I made two batches of the pumpkin muffins yesterday, so I'm going to go have one with another cup of coffee. The clothes can wait. Oh, nope, never mind. The sick kid wants to play a video game. Got to go be a good mom and play with him. Maybe I can knit while he plays . . . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Knit Bit: 746

Another intersection of reading and knitting is the fun knitting reading club, Knit the Classics. I'm a lurker - I read this blog, but I don't comment or post. Yet. But they are reading A Christmas Carol and I enjoy looking around a place where people love to read and love to knit.

Conversations with Samuel

"Mom, Sally and me are playing that these clock thingies are guns and we are shooting!"

"Okay. But why are your pajama bottoms on your arm?"

"That's the bag for the fish."

"For the fish?"

"Yea, we're popping the fish in the bag."

"Oh. But I don't see any fish."

"That's cuz we're tending!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

Favorite Fotos Friday

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.
And there is nothing like a fresh Christmas tree decorated by kids, with ornaments clumped in the front at the bottom and Mom's feeble attempt to spread them out. She fit in our minivan, only dropped a few needles on the carpet, and smells lovely.

There's a new Knitty (on-line knitting magazine, link on the right) up today, and I've got a bajillion things to do today, including charging up my camera for Samuel's first Christmas play and figuring out how to use that utube thing so I can share it with the world.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Three Things Thursday

~Three Favorite Ornaments ~

(1) Glass candy canes ~ These were given to us by Granny N, who went to heaven last year. Sally remembers her and misses her, so I told her this year that when she has her own house, I will give her these ornaments. (Of course, this started the "Can I have this one too?" from both of the kids . . . )



(2) Golden bows ~ For our first Christmas as a married couple, Stu's cousin Jenni made these for us. They are all tied into perfect bows and have metal twists on them so you can attach them to the tree. I love them. Whenever we get a real tree, I put them on.




(3) Ornaments from my moms ~ Both my mom and Stu's mom give me ornaments for Christmas. I love it. I tell the kids which grandma gave it to me, what we were doing that year for the holidays, and yes, which one of them will get it when they have their own house (greedy!). I think ornaments make a great gift (no, this is not a hint, but to my moms, I love that you give me ornaments!).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Long Overdue Story

Before Thanksgiving, I promised you all a story about the recent drama in our house. I've actually hinted at it here and here and here, and those of you who hang out with me regularly know that we've been in transition over here.

Here's what happened: We came back from our trip to Hawaii at the beginning of October, and two days later my husband got laid off. He's in the information technology business and was working at a mortgage company. With the rising interest rates and decreasing property sales, their company took a big hit and several people lost his job. I had no idea it would be him. In fact, I was caught totally by surprise.

After praying together and evaluating our finances, we realized that we were not in such bad shape as we first thought and we prepaired for some lean months while he looked for a new position. I prepaired to do some substitute work. This turned out to take way longer that I hoped it would. I made the mistake of assuming that since I was actually a full-time teacher in this county that I would be able to be a substitute with little trouble. Oh, so wrong. I finally got all my paperwork in just yesterday. Yesterday! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After three weeks of filling out applications and sending out resumes and going to interviews with placement firms and different companies, Stuart was offered a temp-to-hire position. It was ideal - he worked hourly, he could leave for interviews pretty easily, and it would give him time to see if he liked working for that company.

Two weeks after that, two different companies offered him positions. God is amazingly good to us. We thought this would be a three to six month transition time. I thought I would be able to do some sub work while Stuart was home to watch Samuel. Once again, God knew what we needed and blessed us with it. I have no doubt that this happened because we had faithful family and friends praying for us.

So, since I've done all the prep work to sub, I've decided to try and do it a few days a month. I think I finally have my proverbial ducks all in a row. I'm a little nervous, as even subbing one day a week will change the dynamics of our home and I'm hoping it will be a good change because you just never know. But I am confident in this: God knows. He knows what I want and He knows what I need and He is at work in our lives and He loves us all dearly. As I look back on my life, more and more I see God at work in me and in my life. This is both a great mystery, as I feel unworthy, and a source of overwhelming peace.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nieces

All women are daughters, but I wonder how many women are nieces? I'd guess that most women are - it seems that most people I can think of have an aunt or an uncle. Me, I have several aunts and uncles since my dad and mom are both from large families. One of my aunts has always had a special place in my life because I am so much like her. I can remember when I was very young that I would do something and my mom would look at me in amazement and wonder. She'd say, very quietly, "You remind me so much of your Aunt Kathy." Our mannerisms, our little quirky habits, are very similar. Even my dad would comment on how much I reminded him of his sister.

Today, while I was walking Sally to school, she had her hand on Samuel's stroller. As we crossed the street, she said to me that I could put my hand over her hand. She knows I like to hold her hand so I know that she is safe. My breath caught in my throat when I glanced down at her hand, because she has my sister's hands. But exactly. She has the same long, slender fingers. She has the same fingernails. She even has slightly longer fingernails on her pinkie fingers, just like I remember my sister used to have when she was young. It's amazing to me that Sally looks just like Stuart, and she also looks like Stuart's sister, but she reminds me so strongly of my sister.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sleeping With Bread Monday

Stale Bread ~ Or should I say infected bread ~ The bummer part of the past few days is that I'm dealing with a head cold. It's not such a bad one - have the scratchy sexy-voice thing going on and a cough that won't go away. I had a couple of days of the fuzzy head tiredness thing, where you can't think very fast and everything is confusing and life moves too fast to figure out. I hate that stage. I was spared the headache and runny nose, but every morning I'm coughing so much I feel like walking through the house yelling warnings so that my kids can run and hide. Hearing me cough makes Sally gag, poor girl.

Delicious Bread ~ I only had a cold and not the flu! I hate the flu. Also, I seem to be the only one who got sick, which is a big relief. We had a wonderful weekend with the kids - took them to get a real Christmas tree on Saturday, and we spent several hours decorating it and then watched some movies together. So far, I'm really enjoying the pre-Christmas excitement. Probably because I haven't even started shopping or cards yet. I'd better get busy.

Fresh Hot Chocolate Croissants ~ (yes, that is the best form of "bread" I could think of!) Sally and I spent several hours (yes, hours) this weekend reading together. That is, she was reading her book and I was reading my book. Sitting on the couch together. Quiet. It was fanTAStic. At one point, she turned to me and said, "I love this peace. Peace and quiet." Sweet mercies, is this really my daughter?

Knit Bit: Shawl & Scarf

Here's my mohair shawl that I made! I like it quite a bit. I wore it to the wedding last week, but I'm happy to say that since it is so stretchy, I can scrunch it up and use it as a scarf, too. Lots of ways to wear it.


For the knitters out there, here's the techinical details.

Yarn: Patons Lacette in Touch of Black (Nylon, Acrylic, and Mohair blend)
Needles: US 15
Notes: This shawl looks lacy, but it is just a combination of stockenette, dropped stitches, and yo-P2tog. This is the order I used, but the rows of stockenette can be more or less, depending on how you want your shawl to look.
Cast on 62 stitches.
Row 1: (yo, P2tog)
Rows 2-8: repeat row 1
Row 9: knit
Row 10: purl
Rows 11-14: Repeat rows 9 & 10
Row 15: (yo, P2tog)
Row 16: (yo, P2tog)
Row 17: knit
Row 18: purl
Rows 19-22: repeat rows 17 & 18
Row 23: Knit, wrapping yarn 2x for each stitch
Row 24: Purl, dropping extra stitch
Row 25: Knit
Row 26: Purl
Repeat rows 11-24 until shawl is almost fingertip to fingertip.
Repeat row 1 eight times for border.
Bind off loosly.

I have a big project going on right now that I can't talk about yet, and it hurts my hands. Very tight knitting and double-stranded yarn. Anyway, to give my fingers a break, I cast on for a new scarf - the bias knit scarf featured on Knitty Gritty.
Very cool pattern - it appeals to the math-loving parts of my brain. The yarn is Moonlight Mohair. The darker color I bought to knit in with the black on my shawl, but it was too sparkly and didn't look right. I put it away, and at Thanksgiving my mom gave me the lighter color! I was amazed that we both bought the same kind of yarn! So I am knitting them together for this scarf. It's soft and thick. Now, if it would only get colder around here . . . .

Friday, December 01, 2006

Favorite Fotos Friday

Samuel's Photo Shoot Daddy's Hand
Salt and Pepper
Portrait of the Photographer as a Three Year Old

Thanks To ???



Thank you to the nice person/people who sent us this lovely gift yesterday. Unfortunately, there was no card, so whoever you are, thanks! (and please tell me if it's you because I like to send thank you cards)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Three Things Thursday

"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!"

Three favorite holiday recipes

(1) The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins ~ now "my" baked good. Everyone should have a recipe that is theirs, that they have made so much that they almost have the recipe memorized, that when it shows up at a potluck everyone knows, "Oh, those must be Sheila's muffins! Yummy!"

(2) StrawberryJelloPretzelSalad ~ the dish that causes much distress with my brother-in-law, who insists something this sweet and without any lettuce cannot be called a salad and is really a dessert. (Sorry Dre!) When I make this for a potluck, it's gone. Gone. There are just sad little bits of broken pretzels in the bottom of the pan.

(3) Spritz Cookies ~ Another family classic. There are two signs that the holidays are here. One is the beginning of the decorating of the house. The other is the making of the first batch of spritz cookies. I usually call my mom or my sister (or both!) when I'm baking them. My friend Summer likes them so much that when her daughter was born in December, she didn't care what meal I made for her as long as I brought a batch of these cookies.

Mom's Spritz Cookies

These delicious cookies are made with a cookie press. They can be colored or you can add colored sugars to the top. They make great Christmas gifts.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter*
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
(you can put food coloring in the dough, too)

Sift dry ingredients, Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and extract (and food coloring). Add dry ingredients. Dough will be firm. Fill cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets**. Decorate with tiny candies or colored sugars. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges turn slightly brown. Remove to cooling racks. (Makes 6-8 dozen, depending on your cookie press.)

*Butter should be room temperature or softened in the microwave. Melted butter does not work. Too soft butter does not work. The room-temperature butter makes the cookies come out of the press the right way. My mom's recipe says that you can use margarine, but I think butter gives the best consistency and taste.

**While I am a big fan of parchment paper, I found that these cookies do not stick to it. A cool, clean cookie sheet is the only way to go. Clean off the cookie sheet with a cold wet paper towel and let it cool before putting more cookies on it. They won't stick if it's too hot and you'll be a very frustrated baker.

From the recipe box of Sheila Chew from Musings of a Mommy

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rehearsal

Since we missed the actual rehearsal, we did a test run at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

This is their cousin who was also a flower girl. She didn't like her dress very much that day, but loved it at the wedding. She's so cute!



The girls had silk (?) flower petals in their baskets, and they practiced throwing them around.

Fancy Clothes and Ladybugs

This is the kids before the wedding. We were taking some pictures outside when they found several ladybugs on this wood bench.



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pictures!

the kids at thanksgiving


the kids at Grandma Tina & Grandpa Ken's house


the kids at the wedding

(I'll post more pics of the kids in their fancy clothes, but I just love this shot with the kids looking on as the photographer fluffs the bride's dress.)

Cranberries, Cake, and Clam Chowder

Good Morning People! We are back from a whirlwind weekend of fun, and I am happy to report that (a) we got home safely, (b) nobody threw up, and (c) the last load of laundry is now in the dryer (big thanks to my dear husband for that!).

We started off Thanksgiving Day bright and early with a seven hour drive to my sister's house. We had lots of fun hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law, two nephews, and my mom and dad. My sister outdid herself with a huge meal and two desserts. Thanks again, Joy! The kids loved playing in the sandbox and treehouse and jumping on the trampoline.

Then we were off to Stu's family's house, where we celebrated his step-father's birthday with a fun surprise birthday dinner. Happy Birthday, Ken! All of the kids and grandkids were there, so it was great to see everybody. Samuel got hold of my camera after dinner and took several pictures of the table. He's got talent. (Photos to come!)

On Saturday, we went to Stu's cousin's wedding. Sally and Samuel were in the wedding, and they did a terrific job. Looked cute, too. The reception was a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, with the dancing lions and everything. The food was excellent. (Blogger isn't letting me put up any photos, so I'll post those later.)

On Sunday, we didn't really know what to do with ourselves. Since we were in Oakland, we thought about going to San Francisco for the day. However, it was raining and supposed to rain all day. Instead, we decided to go to Santa Cruz and take the kids to the boardwalk. We used to go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk when we were in high school, and it was almost exactly the way I remembered it. Although we didn't go on any rides, because it started to rain there too, we did play some video games and buy some salt water taffy. You can't go to the boardwalk and not get some salt water taffy. They were also making fresh taffy and we watched the pulling machine for several minutes. So fun!

Since it was raining, we decided to keep on going down to Monterey for dinner and spend the night there. Let me tell you, I think I'm in love with Monterey. We had dinner at Old Fisherman's Grotto, right on Fisherman's Wharf, and I had the best clam chowder ever. I tried a new fish, too - I can't remember what it is called, but it was a local fish and very good. (I'm not much of a try new fish person, especially when macademia crusted halibut is on the menu.) Then we drove around, and we were looking for a specific store but we had left the address in our hotel room. Would you believe it if I told you that my husband drove around and found it? He did. I think I'll turn here, this looks good, and HEY! there it is! Pretty amazing.

Well, I've got to go fold that last load of laundry, and then I'm going to reorganize my yarn stash. My mom bought me some yarn at a big sale she found when her and my dad went to Iowa, and I've got some Moonlight Mohair and some Magic Stripes and some more Sugar n Cream because I'm knitting up dishcloths like crazy. Thanks, Mom!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I know I'm a little early, but things are about to get very busy around here and I've decided to take a blog break. Oh, I know you are sad, but dry your tears and consider all we have to come back to:

a new Three Things Thursday Theme! ~ the month of December will be "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Tell us your holiday memories, favorite holiday recipes, your family traditions, favorite decorations, or three wise men in your life. Fun!

family photos ~ we'll be seeing lots of family over the next few days, and I'll get some pics for the blog (and you know that means some fun stories for the blog, too)

a knitting update ~ I have a few projects that I'm finishing up and I'll tell you all about them

a long overdue story ~ now that the drama is over, I think I'm in the clear to blog about it

and something to enjoy right now ~ a new link! Check out the Parris Studios (this link will be on the sidebar soon, but blogger didn't like me yesterday)

So have a great holiday. Make some pumpkin muffins for a loved one. Take some time to be thankful for all the wonderful people in your life. If there are kids around, ask them to make you a fort and then take a nap in it. You won't be sorry. BYE!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sleeping With Bread Monday

Stale moldy week-old bread ~ cobwebs and dirty ceiling fans. Housework stinks.

Yummy fresh warm bread ~ The kids made a fort yesterday and insisted that I go in and try it out. They had a pillow and a blanket for me and everything. I snuggled down with Samuel, who sighed and said, "I wuv you Mommy." Then he told me, in great detail, how he and Sally were equipped with nail guns and lots of nails to shoot the bad monsters that were outside. "We're just tending," he whispered to me. Sally was sitting on the other side, drawing a picture of a princess and a king. I woke up thirty minutes later, and I was alone. They left me in there and went to play computer games together. As I lay there, struggling to clear my head and wake up, I could hear them laughing. It was a great moment.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just One More


Couldn't resist.

This is me and Samuel in February of 2005.
I love his expression and his hands.
And those cheeks!

Favorite Fotos Friday

It's old picture day! This one is Samuel from November '04. He wore that bucket like a hat for about an hour and we all thought it was a riot.
This is my sister, my mom, me, and Sally at the beach. I think it was May '02, but I'm not sure. I do know this is before I was even expecting Samuel, and I think this is the day my sister told us she was expecting her second child.

This is one of my favorites. It has to be from early in 2004 because Samuel is around one year old. I love how Sally looks with all of her teeth, posing for the camera, and how Samuel is looking away but you can tell that he is laughing. Excellent kids.

Technical Difficulties

Good Morning! We've had some internet connection issues over here, so I wasn't able to do TTT yesterday. Also, the Christmas countdown is causing some issues with my blog format, so I'll try and fix that later today. Sorry, kiddos!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Passive-Aggressive Note To My Kids Who Do Not Have Internet Access

It dawned on me today that I would probably have energy to clean the cobwebs in the corners and dust the ceiling fans and paint the hallway and even clean out the porch light if I didn't have to keep picking up ponytail holders and books and socks and school papers and shoes and dirty clothes and small toys and scraps of drawings and pencils and crayons all over the house.

Probably.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Myself

Samuel keeps saying, "I hurt myself all by myself!"

Did I mention he's a three year old boy?

Yep.

Misty

It's misty today, but I kinda wish it would rain. Then I could sit on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket, and read. And then my car would be washed and I wouldn't have to do it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sleeping With Bread Monday

It's Monday again. Time to reflect on the past week, to think about the things that brought me joy and the things that brought me missery. To remember to be thankful for the former and try and avoid the later.

Misery ~ I have decided that I am anti-door-to-door sales. From now on, anyone who comes to my door will be met with a smile and a simple "I do not buy anything from strangers who come to my door" (with the exception of children selling cookies or cookie dough - I'll buy that). Additionally, I am against pyramid schemes and chain letters of any kind. I am done feeling sorry, guilty, or fearful of hurting people's feelings.

Joy ~ Our church had a potluck last night, and it made me very happy to play two rounds of a fun card game called Schnap (I am unsure of the spelling, but this has to be close). It is a fun game that requires you to yell things at the other players. I like to play cards tough, but I'm all talk. I found a fun group of people who play like me, and we had a great time. My kids entertained themselves (and several other adults) and did not bug me once while I played. Oh, and Jessica's yam (or was it sweet potato?) brown sugar dish was so very tasty. Thanks, Jessica!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knitting Magic

So back when my mom taught me to knit, I cranked out a few things and then put the needles away. A few years ago, I got into it again and really got the knitting bug. That's when I started my knitting education by watching some knitting technique shows and reading knitting books. That's when I learned that I'm a combination knitter - a curious group that knits through the back loop instead of the front. I'm also a thrower, (here's another thrower) which means that I hold the yarn in my right hand and throw it around the left needle. The other type is the picker, which means that you hold the yarn in your left hand and pick at it with the right needle. (YouTube videos are random videos that I found while searching the knitting category. I don't know any of these folks.) I decided I would try and become a picker. I got some books, I watched some internet instruction videos, but it was awkward, slow, and I was knitting way too tight. Every so often I'll try and do the picker method, but I am usually so disappointed that I give it up.

This weekend I cast on for a black little wrap using really big needles so that the fabric is holey and breezy. I'm using a fuzzy mohair yarn that is dreamy. Anyway, since the needles are big and the yarn is easy to work, I thought I'd try the picking thing again. Guess what? My hands finally got it. I started slow, but then picked up speed and whammo! I was a knitting speedster, stitches flying off the needles. It was a magical moment. My only regret is that I don't have anyone around here to show, so I'm again accosting my family and saying, "Look! Look! I'm doing it!" and they are confused because, to them, knitting is knitting and it doesn't look any different. "Yeah, great . . . ." they tell me. But let me tell you - that moment where it all comes together and your fingers just know what to do and they do it . . . . it's pure knitting magic.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More Muffins!

Yes kids, it happened again. Really, I love the fact that people like my muffins and are sharing the recipe. But give me some credit please! I did make four or five test batches to get the spice mix just right. (Yeah, we all know that having to make several batches of an extremely yummy baked good is real work, but somebody had to do it.) Anyway, to Grooved Pavement over at Recipe Zaar, make a little mention to your source next time, kay? Thanks.

And now for the more important part - the modified recipe to handle the big can of pumpkin! This is perfect for me because (a) my grocery keeps running out of the small can and all I can get is the big one and (b) my kids stopped liking the cream cheese part and are crying for plain muffins. Enjoy!


Almost-Like-Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a mommy.blogspot.com
**BIG PUMPKIN CAN (29 oz) VERSION***

4 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ground cloves
5-6 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Generous pinch of cardamom (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp soda
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cups cooked or canned pumpkin (29 oz can)
2 cups vegetable oil
8 oz package cream cheese
Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Put 1-2 tsp cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts. Bake at 350 for 20-25* minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools, as it is very very hot. Makes 24 regular size muffins with cream cheese and 24 mini muffins* without cream cheese.

*The mini muffins are usually done in 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and if you bake everything all at once. Check with a toothpick and remove as soon as they are done in the middle.

Favorite Fotos Friday

Last weekend we had a little Harry Potter party.


We were going to watch all three of the movies (the kids aren't allowed to watch the fourth one) and have a feast.
Stuart made some pumpkin pocket pies and I headed to the store for roast chicken, bread and cheese, and cream soda (which we pretended was butter beer). Oh, and an artichoke, because Stuart and Sally love them.
So we ate our feast with our fingers and clinked our soda bottles in cheers and watched one movie. We all fell asleep during the second one. It was a blast.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Three Things Thursday

Today's theme: all about Samuel

(1) Samuel is doing very well at preschool. He had a little reluctance at the drop-off time for a few weeks, but I figured out it was mostly a show. That's right - a show for the girls, who respond to his shy sadness as quick as dogs respond to people who hate dogs. (Translation: they are all over him.) He is talking up a storm, learning new songs, making friends, and loving the weekly library book deal.

(2) Yesterday, while walking Sally to school, Samuel counted for me: "One, Two, Free, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, 'Leven, Twelve, Firteen, Fourteen, Nineteen, Twenty-Free, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Nine, BLASTOFF!"

(3) Samuel told me this today after school: "I played in the sandbox with my friends, and I ate my sandwich but not all my water but I saved the bottle, and I ate all my chips but not two because I gave two to Miss J." Aw, couldn't you just eat him up?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thoughts Of Snow

I do not believe in astrology. Horoscopes, fortunes, psychic readings - all a waste of time, in my opinion. However, I am a gemini, and there is a duality to my personality that I cannot deny. I love solving problems with neat solutions, and I love mysteries so deep that they cannot be explained. I love reading sad, depressing, unrequited love kind of books, and I love watching juvenile comedies with happy endings. And, while I love living in southern California, with the mild weather, I have been daydreaming about snow.

It started on Monday, the day after I finished my wool gloves, the day that the temperatures soared to the 90s. In November. It was a sad twist of fate that I could not wear the beautiful gloves because I had to come home and change into shorts and a t-shirt.

It continued on Tuesday when I had a coffee and a long chat with my friend. She told me about her recent trip to the East coast, where her husband fell in love with a house that had a workshop/garage connected to the house by a long enclosed walkway. The enclosed walkway is necessary because of all the snow. People regularly get snowed in for days, weeks, at a time. They usually do not leave their houses. The idea of being holed up in a house for days on end does not appeal to my friend. It sounds perfectly lovely to me.

Now, you snow people, don't send me nasty comments about how the reality of lots and lots of snow being really no fun. I know that. I used to live in Iowa. Snow is beautiful for about a day, and then it turns into grey sludge. Snow days are actually pretty rare, and usually you have to bundle up and leave the house for school, work, and groceries. I do know that. Shoveling snow is hard work, and driving on icy roads is a horrible experience that I do not want to revisit. I know all that. However, living where I do, and having November being so NOT cold, I think a little snow daydreaming is acceptable.

Do you remember the ending scene of Minority Report? I'm not too fond of the movie, but I do love the end where the three precogs (the psychics) are in a safe house and they are finally reading books. There are books everywhere, and there is a fire in the fireplace because it is very cold outside, and they aren't talking to each other. They are just sitting around and reading. I love that scene.

Snow. I just can't get it out of my head today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Little Math

So I was watching a little TV yesterday and I caught part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the old version. The teacher always bugs me. He is annoying and rude and the kids seem amused and confused. The percentages lesson is awful. And wrong. 20% is not 15% half over again. 15% half over again would be 15% + (1/2)(15%) = 15% + 7.5% = 22.5%.

Cripes. It bugs me every single time.

Don't forget to vote!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sleeping With Bread Monday

Raindrops on roses
and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles
and WARM WOOLEN MITTENS
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Oh yes, these are two of my favorite things
I finished the knucks!
But first - the sadness. I ran out of yarn.
After trekking to the craft store, only to discover that they were all out of this color (it's a discontinued yarn), I came home to find a close match already in my stash.
Aren't they pretty?