As I was making ginger cookies last week, I took this picture. This is my mom's recipe. When I got married, she gave me a recipe box filled with our family recipes, written in her hand. It's one of the best gifts ever.
Here's a couple of close-ups of the tree - new this year
is the red ribbon, picked out by Sam.
Also new are the wee red mittens that I knit up.
Yes, I'm charmed by them.
My camera is always blurry with no flash, but I like
the way the lights look. I'll make the picture smaller,
and maybe you won't notice that it's out of focus.
Yes, Christmas is just six short days away, and it's crunch time. Am I shopping? Wrapping presents? Finishing my Christmas cards? Nope. I'm sitting on the couch by the fire, lurking around facebook and flipping through a fashion magazine, sipping some peppermint tea, thinking about knitting, and that's about it. I've been dealing with a head cold for the past two days, and now Stuart has it. I made him soup and panini sandwiches for lunch, then sent him to bed for a nap. It's raining and windy and there is no way I'm leaving the house for anything today. We ventured out to the store for supplies, and that's it. Well, no, I do have to take the dog for walks because he won't pee or poo when it's raining unless you walk him. He's gotten so spoiled over the past few months - it's been so rainy, and he's been inside frequently. He's got us trained pretty well. I won't let him in certain rooms, and he won't go potty in the rain without a walk. I know this because I tried the shortcuts of putting him the the back (he holds it) or putting him on the leash and standing in the doorway (he still holds it) and then just when I give up and let him back inside, he goes on the floor. I mutter that he's a stupid dog, and Stuart comments quietly that he's probably the smartest dog he's ever seen because he's figured out how to train humans. Whatever.
I did some crazy last-minute deadline knitting, but I finished! I have a few things packaged up and ready to mail tomorrow. I'm expecting the post office to be a crazy madhouse, but I'm still going first thing Monday morning.
It's so cozy by the fire with the sounds of the wind and rain right outside the window. I think I'll sign off the internet, finish my tea, and take a nap. After all, I'm sick. I need the rest. Six days until Christmas. This is peace.
I'm having a great time, but I'm on the edge. I am finding space to enjoy the holiday season, but just barely. My to-do list is verging on ridiculous, my cards might get in the mail this weekend, and the gifts are mostly bought but nothing is wrapped. On the plus side, we've made three batches of spritz cookies, two of fudge, one of ginger cookies, and a huge batch of pumpkin muffins. All of this baked goodness has been shared with loved friends and family, and it is all gone. Today I am baking some more for the next round, and I am going to finish knitting a hat - a crazy last-minute gift decision that has a deadline of (ahem) tomorrow. That's ok - I started Monday, finished one on Tuesday, started the other one Wednesday, and am over half way done. It will get done. I thought I was doing great, then went to pick up the kids from school yesterday and remembered that I forgot to take Sally's flute to school for her and almost burst into tears. Thankfully, she was in the best mood I've seen in 2010 and forgave me instantly and couldn't figure out why I was so upset. So Christmas miracles still abound, if you only stop to see them. Slow down enough to enjoy the season! It's possible!
I was driving home the other day when the junior high was letting kids out of school. I watched a group walking home, talking and laughing. I saw a couple, holding hands, with that lost-in-love look, and I wished that I could go back and be young again.
Then I saw a boy in a van with his mom. He looked miserable. I remembered that I was mostly a geek in junior high, and that I didn't have a boyfriend until I was a senior in high school, and that junior high pretty much sucked.
Katy Perry can be young forever. I like being a grown up.
I came across this little gem today while doing a little web surfing. Watch the first video. It's . . . . uh, let's just say when she started to play "this little piggie" with the possum, I was beside myself. (Now you have to watch, right?)
I am reading The Good Earth. It is quite depressing. I'm not sure why I got it into my head to read it, but now I'm too far invested to NOT finish it. I'm in the last 100 pages. It's brutal. I keep falling asleep.
I got it into my head that I need to knit myself a new hat to match my Harry Potter scarf for the new movie coming out next month. I keep trolling around the internet looking for patterns. I think I may have it narrowed down to two or three. Soon, the obsessing over yarn will begin. I like this part of a project just as much as I like the knitting part. Maybe more.
I love the cold weather this week. I've been making lots of soup. My kids' current favorite is tomato. I almost always boil over the tomato soup. I have no idea why that is, and it makes me mad every time.
I am still thinking about the three Hunger Games books that I read this month. They were so good. I wish I could find some more books that were great like those were great. Maybe I'll read them again.
I'm still not eating most meat, but I'm now trying to add back in fish. It's slow going. I keep forgetting to eat it.
I am reading Where the Red Fern Grows out loud to the kids. I have a special fondness for this book. My fifth grade teacher read it to my class, and I can still hear her voice when I read it. My kids are loving it. I really wish I could find my fifth grade teacher and tell her how this book has stayed with me, how it is being passed on to my kids. To all teachers out there who read to your classes - they will remember your voice and that book for years to come. Thank you for reading to your students!
I wish I didn't need to sleep so many hours every night.
I tried the blueberry coffee from 7-11 today. (I hardly ever get coffee from 7-11.) It was surprisingly good. It smelled like blueberries, tasted like coffee, and somehow the two worked.
My garage is pretty clean right now. It won't last.
I hope it rains again tonight. I sleep really great when it rains.
If I could get to the place where I had Romans 8 in my heart and mind all the time, well, wow. I can't even imagine what life would be like. I think Romans is the book of the Bible that speaks the loudest to me. I'm also quite fond of John. And Proverbs.
Fall is finally here. I'm able to wear long pants with warm socks and a sweater. We're in the middle of a rainstorm, and I always sleep so good when it rains. Our dog has been in the house. I'm keeping him in the rooms that don't have carpet - just in case - and Sally keeps making him little beds with her blankets. Today he has a purple pillow and a blanket with pink hearts on it. Part of me should be mad at her, that she's using her "good" blankets for the dog. The other part of me is so in love with her, that she's using the "good" blankets to make a bed for our old dog. It's so sweet, so tender. I hope this dog appreciates how good he has it, that Sally loves him.
I've been reading alot. I've made myself a new goal for this year. I was looking at my book lists (yes, I keep track of what I read. see below. i'm starting to forget things if i don't write them down) and I realized that last year I read 42 books. (42 - hear that, Douglas Adams fans?) I had never read more than 40 books in a year before last year. (My actual best before last year was 34 books.) 42 books. That's a lot of books. But this year, I want to read more than 45. I'm pretty sure I can do it, too. I'm on book #40 already.
I need to download pictures and post some. I need to write down my recipe for Chicken & Dumplings for a friend on facebook. And I need to go to the grocery because we are almost out of bread. I also have a whole mess of knitting stuff to blog about. That's going to have to wait for next week, because I have a book to read.
Happy fall! Don't forget to make a batch of pumpkin muffins or grab a pumpkin spiced latte. And wear a scarf!
Well kids, it's finally happened. I went to the library and got a few books last week. I read The Hunger Games in two days - great book! - and then started another one of the books last night. I read two pages when I realized that I knew what was going to happen. I flipped ahead a page, and sure enough - I have read this book before and totally forgot about it. I stil can't remember when I read it, or how it ends, but I've read it before. And I forgot it.
Laugh lines and grey hairs I was expecting. Forgetting whole books? Never saw that one coming.
The kids are back in school, and they are slowly getting used to the schedule. I'm even slower this year - the schedule is not a bad one, and I have our activities spread out so that we have free time days (very necessary for us). Still, I'm finding myself making tons of lists and feeling like I'm getting nothing done. Isn't that such the Mom Thing? To undervalue the millions of little things we do every day that are not on the list, that go unnoticed, that are necessary to make our families survive? The food, the laundry, the grocery shopping (we hardly ever run out of stuff!), the balancing of the checkbook (ok, thanks to our pc that doesn't take me long, but still), the picking up of dirty socks and the reminding of doing homework, the enforcement of shower time and bed time. Wow, that was quite a rant. It's been awhile since I've written a proper post!
We closed out our summer with a camping trip, which was great fun! There are lots of pictures over on facebook, but I'm putting my favorite one here. This is Sally and Sam at the lake (in the back is one of the jet skis our group rented to play with that day.) We went to Shaver Lake with some soccer friends and it was a really relaxing time.
During the last week of summer, I took the kids to the beach, and another day I took them to the Natural History Museum with their Auntie Jen. My parents were here for Labor Day weekend. We swam and played cards and the girls went shopping.
I've got my hands full with a few things this year. I'm still working with students through the Home Hospital program, but so far have not been assigned anyone. All my kids from last year are back in school this year - very proud of the bunch. I'm volunteering at school and at soccer, so that's new this year. I get to work with the teachers and students on the Reading Program at school, which was my New Year's Resolution - to be involved in something that inspires me. I think I'll try and teach some more people to knit this year too. I took a small project (baby hat!) to school yesterday and knit while I waited to pick up the kids. Before I knew it, I had a few moms watching me and asking questions. Then a little girl came up to me and said, "Hey, you do yarn! My mom used to do yarn! Bye!" Love that girl!
I'll close for now. I put the Glee songs on the top of the playlist because that's what I'm looking forward to next week - Glee (Tuesday) and The Big Bang Theory (Thursday). And I can't wait to see what they decide to do on The Office. I have to say it - if Michael and Holly don't end up together, I'm going to be seriously bummed.
It's time to make baby hats! Once again, Warm Up America and Save The Children are collecting newborn and preemie sized hats for third world countries. This time the program is called "Caps for Good". It is very easy to make a little hat for a baby, and it's a great project for new knitters and crocheters. I've sent in about a dozen hats in the past few years, and knowing that my craftiness is out there in the world, helping someone that I'll never meet, is a very cool feeling.
The Caps for Good program will conclude on February 28, 2011. You can visit GoodGoes.org/caps and WarmUpAmerica.org for patterns and information on how to send in your hat. They even have little cards you can print out and fill in.
I have Startitus. Every time I sit down to knit on the Whisper Cardigan, which is taking forever to knit, I think about knitting other things. Not actually knitting, just casting on and STARTING other things. It's crazy. I started a new project yesterday - a sweater using really big needles instead of the tiny ones I'm using for the Neverending Whisper Cardigan - thinking that the instant gratification will help. It's not. I'm already thinking about starting some socks. The only good thing about that is I've already got the yarn, the pattern, and the needles in a bag ready to go. I'm starting another hat today too - I've been knitting hats to give as Christmas gifts this year, so if you get a knitted hat from me, act surprised.
Maybe if I make a list of all the projects I have going and post it on the internet, that will help.
1 - Whisper Cardigan - I've knit one arm and the back and am on the second arm. It's laceweight yarn and is taking forever. My mom thinks I'm crazy. My only defense is that 1738 other people have knit one on Ravelry, so I'm not alone.
2 - Beach Glass Cardi - the one I started yesterday. I'm making up the pattern. The yarn color is "beach glass".
3 - Hat - finished one on Tuesday and will start another one today
4 - Tea Cozy - ok, this is one I've been at for awhile now. I shoved it in my car as Just In Case knitting. Hmm, maybe I'll work on that tomorrow at the beach . . . .
5 - Socks. Bought the yarn for my birthday a few months ago and haven't started them yet.
So five things isn't so bad. I can go start that hat because that's a gift. And the socks because I already have the yarn. And maybe one more thing, if I use yarn that I already have.
The kids and I just got home from a week long road trip. We had lots of fun, but I am very tired of driving and very happy to be back home.
Sally got to spend a week with her grandparents, learning to ride. Here she is brushing the pony she rode all week, Hershey Cocoa.
She also did lots of chores around the ranch, and she had lots of new experiences. While she did have fun, she told me that horses are "not her thing". Whew! We can't really afford to have them be "her thing", so that's not all bad :)
Sam and I drove up to my sister's house for a week. Sam is a great traveler:
My sister has two boys, and they are around the same age as Sam, so they all had a blast. They jumped on the trampoline, worked on their tree house, picked blackberries, played games, did crafts, and other fun boy stuff. Aren't they so cute?
Joy and I talked and played cards and prepared food and tried (in vain) to keep the boys somewhat clean.
It was a fun week.
I also took random pictures of stuff I like:
and did a little reading and knitting:
This is a hard trip because of the long drive, but it's even harder because there are so many people that we know in the area to visit, and we can never seem to fit everyone in to our plans. If we didn't get to see you this time, please know that we miss you (you know who you are!) and hope to see you next time.
For my birthday, my wonderful husband got me the Veganomicon cookbook. I am really enjoying it. I'm not vegan - I still eat cheese and sometimes eggs and other dairy stuff - but I enjoy the challenge of making things that are vegan and that taste good. So, when I saw this recipe, my first thought was "Ew". As in, no thank you. But I read some reviews and everyone loves them so I thought, "Why not?" Believe me, no one was more shocked that I liked them than me. My meat-loving husband even liked them - he had seconds.
The first time I made them I cooked them in a cast-iron skillet. Pretty fast, and very good. The second time I put them in foil and cooked them on the bbq. It took a little bit longer, but was much easier and also very good. (Also less olive oil and no pan to clean, so that's the way I'll be cooking them from now on). You can also cook them in the oven.
This recipe is all over the internet. Here's a link. Try it. We like ours with honey-mustard sauce. It's also good on a bun with some lettuce. Someone wrote a blog post about making them into nuggets - that sounds pretty good too.
I adapted this recipe from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook. I took out a few things (peanuts) and added a few things (carrots). The key is the sauce. The sauce makes them really good. Again, I changed up the sauce by adding some mango to it. I like it this way. Amounts are approximate - have fun. (The photo doesn't have carrots - the carrots was a suggestion by my friend Rob and I'm planning on adding them the next time I make these.)
Frozen cubed mango (about 8-10 oz - use the rest of the bag in your fruit smoothies)
Cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup shredded raw carrot
4 oz thin rice noodles (I used bean threads and had a lot leftover)
Package of spring roll wrappers
1/4 cup thawed mango chunks
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Asian chile oil (I used sesame chile oil)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sugar
Follow package directions to soften rice noodles/bean threads. This usually involves covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce by putting all ingredients into your blender and mix. Chill until your spring rolls are ready.
Cut the cucumber and mango and cilantro. Have a pie plate or shallow pan filled with a few inches of warm water to soften the wrappers. I use a cutting board for assembly. Put a wrapper into the water until it's soft and flexible (there are usually directions on the package for this too). Lay the wrapper on your board and put a few tablespoons (or half a handful) of noodles, some cucumber, some mango, some carrots, and lots of cilantro in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the top and bottom and roll up the rest. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I put a moist paper towel in the bottom of a plastic container and put the spring rolls on it and they stayed fresh all day. (They may stay fresh longer, but my friends and I ate them all.)
Serve with lots of sauce, because the sauce is the best.
Make these with your kids - they love to help with the assembly, and watching the wrappers soften up into something you can eat is a little bit of kitchen magic.
"My new year's resolutions for 2010 is to find a cause. I want to find something that I care about and believe in and I want to invest myself in. I don't know if it will be a medical cause, like breast cancer or leukemia or brain tumors or children's hospitals, and I'll walk a 5K (or try and run with Sally and not kill myself). Maybe it will be political and I'll find a local campaign and get involved. I don't know. Maybe it will be something smaller, something in our community. But I want a cause. I want a thing. And I'm going to take the whole first part of the year to look and listen and pray and wait." ~ January, 2010
I've looked and I've listened and I've prayed. Several things passed by me that could have been my thing, but none of them really lit a fire in me. But then, about six weeks ago, I checked out a book called "Raising bookworms : getting kids reading for pleasure and empowerment" by Emma Walton Hamilton. I started reading it, and it really spoke to me. I started thinking about my kids and reading, then I started thinking about other kids reading and me being a part of that somehow. I decided that I would try and give books as a gift as often as I could. I bought some books for people. I bought some giftcards for bookstores. It felt good. Then, I got a newsletter from the kid's school about some open PTA positions. One was for the reading program. And I sat down the very same day and volunteered.
That's when I realized that I found my thing: it's reading. (Well duh, you might think. Yes, I thought that too.) It's getting kids to love reading, it's supporting my local library in ways beyond checking out books, it's improving the reading program at our school so that more kids are motivated to read, it's being more intentional about reading with my kids. That's my thing.
(Admit it - you thought it was going to have something to do with knittng.)
I finally finished the grey sweater that I have been knitting for myself. I've been waiting a long time to make this sweater for me - I've made two other sweaters with this pattern, and it's practically the perfect sweater pattern to knit. Top down - so you can try it on as you go - very little finishing work - some cables at the bottom to add some shaping and interest so you don't get bored at the end.
It reminds me of a sweater I used to wear. It was my grandfather's cardigan, and my grandma or my mom gave it to me after he died. I loved that cardigan. I wore it so much that it got holes in it and I had to throw it out. Anyway, this sweater reminds me of that one. Of course, now it's summer. But, when fall rolls around, I'll have a nice new sweater to wear.
(I made this for my sister, and hers and mine are different colors, but we have the same button. Matching buttons!)
Well, I found my cause this week. More to come - after school finishes and I turn in my paperwork and come up for air. (oh yeah, and after I turn 40, plan a birthday party for a boy who turns 7, and finish 25,432 other little things between now and next week)
I made up this recipe after eating Amy's frozen vegan black bean enchiladas, which are very yummy and I still keep in the freezer in case I don't have any of my own left. Since I started making these, I've made them every other week by request - they are seriously good. (And easy.) I tried using leftover cooked zuchini, and it was not as good. Raw veggies are better. You can use cooked meat if you eat meat, or skip the fake meat altogether. I buy extra sauce, because we like a lot of sauce around here. They are also good with a side of mexican rice and cheese on top. (Or fake cheese, if you avoid the dairy.)
one can black beans, rinsed
one can pinto beans, rinsed
one package soy "meat" (taco or mexican flavor)
1-2 cups frozen corn
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
2 zuchini, chopped into small pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
2-3 cans enchilada sauce
12-15 corn tortillas
In a large bowl, place beans, "meat", corn, rice, and chopped raw veggies. Mix. Add some enchilada sauce and mix. Pour some sauce in the bottom of your baking dish (I use square glass pans, and usually fill two or three of them). Coat both sides of a tortilla with sauce, fill with 1/4 to 1/3 cup mixture, and roll. Continue until all the mixture is gone. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas until they are covered. Cover pans with foil. Bake at 350 for an hour. (These are actually better the next day, but we can never wait that long.)
spoiler alert - don't read this post if you haven't watched the last episode and care about that kind of stuff
I think Jack's father summed it up: "To remember. And to let go." That was the whole last episode for me. To remember the last six years, and to let go of this story that will probably stay with us for a long time. I've been thinking about the last episode for a few days now, and I have to say that I loved it. When I was first watching it, I loved it up to the end. Like many fans, the last thirty minutes were iffy with me. When I started to realize that the sideways world wasn't "real" in some way, and that they were going to "leave", I started to get nervous. But, a few days later, I re-watched a few scenes, and I cried all over again, and grew to love what the writers and actors had done. They brought all of us to a place to remember and to let go.
OK, details. LOVED the James/Juliet scene by the candy machine. Hands down the best part of the whole series. Jin/Sun remembering is tied for me with Kate/Claire/Charlie. They were both great and made me cry. I'm glad that Kate ended up with Jack, but it didn't make me cry the way I cried when Juliet said, "Kiss me James" and he called her Blondie. I'm so so glad they ended up together.
But then again, Sayid? With Shannon? Are you kidding me? Why didn't he get to be with his true love Nadia? I never really liked Shannon anyway, so maybe it's just me. Another thing: purgatory? the place between? I don't believe in that, but it worked. While I was watching it, I got it. (I still don't believe there is such a place, but if I'm wrong, that's ok too.)
Hurley being the Protector of the Island = genius. Pure genius and I never saw it coming, but it was a great move. I was so sad that Ben sat outside the church, but that was true to his character - he was always on the outside of the survivor group. I'm glad that Locke forgave him. Even though the whole series was Jack's story, it turns out that Locke was right about everything and, in a way, he was a hero too (it's not his fault he was the smoke monster for awhile, right?).
Some things I never got until the end:
Jack's father's name: Doctor Christian Shephard - hello Christ figure. How did I miss that???
The Numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 - 42 is the answer to Life The Universe And Everything. Missed that. (One of my students would be thrilled that 23 is one of The Numbers. I guess there is a whole movie about The Number 23.)
Questions I Wish They Would Answer:
Who is Penelope's mother?
How did Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking get involved with the island?
Widmore, Hawking, Faraday - why all the different last names?
All in all, I'm happy with the ending. I'm going to go back and watch the last season, now that I know some of the answers. I'm sad to see it over, but it was time.
We've been working on the garage since we moved into this house - almost seven years ago. It seems to be never-ending - we get a few things done, then get distracted, and everything goes to chaos out there. We are making some real progress, thanks to a friend who found some cabinets for us. Those are up on one wall, and now we're working to finish the wall by the washer/dryer. We had the large cabinet on the left put together:
and this weekend, as a birthday surprise for Stuart, Sam and I built this cabinet next to it:
Here's some pics of Sam helping me:
Now, to do something about that wall behind the cabinet . . . . another item for the never-ending garage project . . . .
(ps - i love assembling pre-fab furniture. it is so satisfying. this cabinet and the tall one next to it were both purchased at Home Depot)