Sunday, November 30, 2014

Challenge Met!

I decided to commit to NaBloPoMo and post daily during November on the spur of the moment back on October 31. I hadn't been very happy with my posting frequency, and I thought this would be a way to make me think about topics, sit down and write, and just do it. I'm happy to say the challenge was accepted and I met the challenge!

I have loved looking forward to and reading daily posts from many friends. Some of my own posts are more worthwhile than others, but that is true even in months other than November. It was difficult at times, time-consuming, but also fun, and made me think. Thank you to everyone who took their valuable time to read and/or comment, especially because many of you were busy writing your own daily posts. Now that it's over, I may actually consider doing it again next year!

We all deserve a medal!

Farquhar, Betsy. Knitted Military Medal. Digital image. Ravelry. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <>.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Snippets - The Here and Now Edition

Saturdays are for small bits and pieces, and here are the small pieces going on here and now.

Bemoaning - The fact that I confused my deodorant and Icy Hot stick this morning. This was not a good idea.

Hoping - That I learn from my mistake and never do that again.

Eating - Thanksgiving leftovers, of course. These are some of my favorite foods - turkey sandwiches, cranberry orange relish, homemade crescent rolls, and fried stuffing. That last one may possibly be a bit unhealthy, but I only eat it once a year, so that's my justification.

Reading - A Spool of Blue Thread. All I really want to do is read and knit, but work, Thanksgiving, laundry, etc. keep getting in my way. I'd like to say I'll be done soon, but some Christmas planning needs to happen before I can just sit and read.

Knitting - Still working on Happy Times with Ryan.  Projects don't get done very quickly if you fall asleep while knitting.

Dreading - Christmas planning. This mainly means shopping. I have a bunch of gifts that I've already gotten, but I need to evaluate what I actually have and what I still need to get. My biggest problem is coming up with ideas.

Counting 1.0 - The days until Youngest Son is home for Christmas break - 14!

Counting 2.0 - The days until Oldest Son is home for Christmas - 21!

Hoping - That both sons will want to play some board games with me. I love Yahtzee, Scrabble, Monopoly, St. Petersburg, and even Cards Against Humanity, but my husband refuses to play. I think this is due to some traumatic childhood tantrums and tears as his brothers and sisters feel the same way.

Trying -  This French Onion soup recipe.

Drinking - Bitter Elder. St. Germain is also good in chamomile tea, but this may contribute to the falling asleep, noted in knitting above.

Listening - To Yo-Yo Ma, "Attaboy" from The Goat Rodeo Sessions.

Enjoying - Writing the penultimate post of NaBloPoMo!

What bits and pieces are happening in your life?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Craft Friday

Beverly came up with the idea of Craft Friday and as I began to read about it with increasing frequency on quite a few blogs, it seemed only natural that I should declare myself as a participant because:
  1. It's what I would normally be doing on Friday after Thanksgiving (and most other days).
  2. I really dislike shopping, especially on Black Friday. 
  3. I get to knit vicariously together with friends!
  4. I can blog about it. There are only a few more days in NaBloPoMo and I'm really searching. 

My plan for today is to knit and sew. I'll be finishing the Gabriel Roni hat for my brand new great-nephew, working on my Happy Times with Ryan Hitchhiker, and sewing some of these rice-filled shoulder heating pads. It's going to be a low-key, no-pressure day, with Thanksgiving leftovers, Netflix, maybe an audiobook, knitting, and sewing. I really want to finish Gabriel's hat as he's two days old and deserves a warm welcome to the world, but my only goals for the other projects are progress and enjoyment.

So Happy Craft Friday to all! Just think how much happier we are, crafting, far from the madding crowds!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

May the biggest part of the wishbone be the end that's held by you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Portmanteaus or where is the faction section?

While checking out Into the Wild at the library, the clerk told me that he heard it was a good piece of faction. I figured I hadn't heard him correctly, but in response to my quizzical look, he said, "You know, fact-based fiction - faction." I pointed out the 917.98 call number and mumbled something about it being non-fiction, but figured the people in the growing line behind me weren't interested in this discussion.

I did think about this on the way home, and it seemed odd that someone working in a library didn't understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and was also making up a classification  that this particular book didn't even belong in. He is a teenager with an after-school job so this wasn't the end of the world. But after hearing about faction, it seemed that I noticed portmanteaus (combinations of two or more words and their meanings into a single new word) everywhere. With the epic lake effect storm in Buffalo came snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowverkill, snowvember, snowmergency, and snowmania. I heard stagflation (stagnation + inflation) used in a discussion about Ben Bernanke. A woman buying donuts at the convenience store told the clerk she was hangry; I had to look this one up and found that it means your extreme hunger has caused you to be angry. While searching for music gifts for a young teenager I came across the song Alcoholiday.

There are some portmanteaus that seem natural and descriptive to me, like brunch, jackalope, smog, and moped. I'll admit we have and use sporks, but metrosexual and hangry just seem silly to me, clear examples of poormanteaus!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Thankfulness Edition

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is, of course, 10 Things You Are Thankful For. I'm blessed, lucky, and grateful that I have so very many things on my list.

1.   My Family - A wonderful husband, two terrific sons, a loving and accepting extended family - I couldn't ask for a more wonderful bunch of people.

2.   A (recently replaced) roof over my head and a comfortable home - I am grateful that we were able to find a great roofer and afford to completely replace the roofs on our house and barn. Now I smile when it's raining instead of worrying.

3.   Enough money for a comfortable life - This one is huge and I'm thankful every day.

4.   The ability to read - I'm thankful that Mrs. Neusch taught me to read in first grade, that my mother always supported my reading habit by not telling me to go outside and play too often when I was immersed in a book, that I have access to some great libraries, and that I can find out almost anything I'm curious about by reading.

5.   The ability to knit - I'm thankful that my grandmother taught me how to knit, my mother reinforced it and helped me when I got stuck, that I can buy yarn even when I don't need it, and I can show people how much I care by knitting for them.

6.   Health - Overall I'm in good health, and so is my family. We've had some years where this hasn't been the case, so we try to take care of ourselves and I don't take good health for granted.

7.   Access to health care - We have health insurance, and while it has a fairly high deductible, we can afford it and it is insurance. I hope we never meet the deductible because that would mean someone is quite ill, but it's comforting knowing that insurance and access to health care is there if we need it.

8.   Four seasons -  I've lived in Florida where there is just "hot and sweltering season" and "a tiny bit cooler than torrid season" so I'm happy to live some place that has four distinct seasons, each one with its own beauty.

9.   Learning from mistakes - I've made my share of mistakes, both big and small. I'm glad that I'm really learning to see my mistakes as learning opportunities instead of embarrassing failures.

10.  Our upcoming last undergraduate tuition payment - This one is a big, big, BIG deal! I'm grateful that it's the last one, but I'm also very thankful that we were able to make those payments.

I'm thankful for everyone that takes the time to read my ramblings. Thank you!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Amaryllis Cam(aryllis) - Week One

I had to run to the grocery store the other day for some forgotten but necessary items, and I couldn't resist the amaryllis on sale. It (let's call her Ruby, on the left) seemed a little lonely, so a few days later when I was buying a new carbon monoxide detector, I brought home a friend (let's call her Rosa) for Ruby. There may have been some talk about how much their friend Blanche would also like to live here, but we'll see. They're not much to look at now, but hopefully they'll encourage each other, engage in some healthy competition, and be blooming in the depths of winter. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sustenance on Sunday

Sundays are for writing about food. Today it's something that many people have most likely made, but it has proven itself to be a worthy opponent in my kitchen - Libby's Pumpkin Roll. I've tried to make this many times over the past few years, and while it's tasted fine, I could never manage one that didn't crack (usually multiple times) when I attempted the roll maneuver. This year I decided I would not be bested by a mere pumpkin roll. The pressure was on because this was going to be dessert for company.

I read all the tips I could find, looked at different recipes, and applied some common sense. I had always used the jelly roll pans I had on hand, but this year I got one that was the specified 10"x15" size. In previous years I  rolled the cake in a kitchen towel dusted with confectioner's sugar; this year I used parchment paper to line the pan and roll the cake. I let the rolled cake cool completely instead of being impatient to spread the filling. It worked and I won! The first one worked so well I made a second one just to test my new-found confidence and it worked, too! I was grateful to have at least one presentable pumpkin roll that I could serve to company but it's a good thing I made two.

This is all that's left - one last piece for the baker.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Snippets

Saturdays are for small bits and pieces that I love. No children's books today, but instead it's the books I'm reading, attempting to read, or planning to read.
Books I'm Reading:
  • Centennial by James Michener - I started this during my last visit to Colorado, and just added an "in it for the long haul" shelf to Goodreads, specifically for this book. It is interesting and worth reading, but at more than 900 pages, it's definitely a book that requires a long-term commitment. 
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - Another epic novel. It's very good so far, but I'm easily distracted by new and shiny books. Monogamy may be required here, or at least giving this book the attention it deserves. 
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler - This is the new, shiny book that has distracted me. Anne Tyler has said this will be her final novel, and that along with a cover I love made me want to read it immediately. Luckily, an advance copy came my way so now I've started reading it in earnest. It's good enough so far that I've chosen to read this instead of knitting in the evening, and that's saying something.

Books I'm Attempting to Read:
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman - I read this in 2010, and then forgot about the rest of the series. I've heard wonderful things about books #2 and #3, so I reread this as a refresher. I gave it four stars, but there were definitely things that I didn't thrill me, like the main character's whining and constant unhappiness.
  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman - I recently started the second book in the series, but Quentin bothered me so much that I had to put it away for a while. I still plan to give it a fair chance because I'm assured that this book is even better than the first, and Quentin may even grow up a bit.  
  • The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman - Some readers whose opinion I value have told me his is the best book in the whole series, so we'll see if my attempts to read the first two carry me through to this one.

Books I'm Looking Forward to Reading:
  • Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz - I can't wait until December 9th when this book will be available in audio format. This one may push The Magicians series farther back in the queue.
  • Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I've been anxiously awaiting this annotated autobiography since August. I've thought about rereading the Little House series, but I think this will be a much better book for me to read as an adult.
What books are you reading, attempting to read, or looking forward to reading?
 I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fox on Friday

I didn't take this beautiful photo, but Youngest Son did. He spends hours in the woods in all seasons, and this wonderful photo is one he was lucky enough to capture during those many hours. It's one of my absolute all-time favorites!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


One thing I didn't think I'd be writing about in mid-November is the garden, but the survivors deserve to be celebrated. We cleaned up most of the garden about two weeks ago, but the snow peas and Napa cabbage looked so good we couldn't bring ourselves to yank them out.

The snow peas are still producing peas and even more blossoms through wind, snow, frost, and frigid temperatures. We haven't even covered them, so while I don't completely understand their fortitude, they are still hanging on. I've picked enough peas for two meals and frozen five packs since they weathered the first frost, and I'm picking more for dinner tonight as soon as I put the camera down.

The Napa cabbages are still growing, but since they've withstood the same cabbage-killing weather as the peas, I'll also be cutting them today so their courage and durability will not have been in vain.

Here's to the delicious survivors!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One of My Better Ideas

Christmas was always a fairly simple, easygoing holiday before I had children. I worked in various hospitals from Florida to New York depending on where we were living, and because hospitals never close, I worked on Christmas for 15 years. By the time we were celebrating our second Christmas with Oldest Son and Youngest Son came along in 1993, it was slowly dawning on me that Christmas was becoming more complex and complicated. I did love orchestrating it for my young sons, but there's no denying that it took quite a bit of time and some late nights. I could see what the problem was but didn't have any good solutions.

I was browsing in the fabric store after that Christmas and chanced upon some Christmas fabric for $1.00/yard. I couldn't resist this incredible bargain, so even though I didn't have specific plans for it, I bought a bunch. On the way home it came to me - I would sew gift bags. Wrapping presents is one of the holiday-related chores that I don't enjoy one bit, and by spending some low-stress sewing time throughout the year, wrapping gifts would be as simple as popping them in a bag and tying the ribbons.

I don't remember how many I sewed that first year, but they were such a success that I've been sewing bags every year since 1994. I enjoy choosing fabric and along the way I branched out into birthday bags.

 I've amassed quite a stash of bags, but that way I almost always have the right size for any gift. When my sons are both settled on their own, I envision divvying up the bag stash and gifting the boys with their own bag collections.

Fabric for a few more bags!
I don't have good ideas every day, but this is one of my better ones and has worked wonderfully for me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Dead or Alive Edition

Today's interesting Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Musicians You Would Bring Back From the Dead. I've had way too much fun searching for whether some of my list ideas are actually dead or not!

1.   Jeremiah Clarke - If I had to name my favorite song of all time, it would probably be The Prince of Denmark March/Trumpet Voluntary. I walked down the aisle to it at our wedding; it's the ringtone for my family members, and I have an itunes playlist with quite a few different versions.

2.   Johann Sebastian Bach - His organ and harpsichord works are impeccable, and his compositions are often playing when I'm home.
3.   Frederic Handel - Our high school choir sang The Messiah and even after plenty of frustration and endless practices for over a year, it still brings chills and I feel compelled to sing the alto part when I hear it. 
4.   John Lennon - Sadly, he was gone far too soon, and I think he had so many more valuable things to say through his music.
5.   Jim Morrison - Many of The Doors' songs are iconic to me because they provided a sound track to my adolescence. I often wonder what his life would have been like if he had been able to calm down and focus on music and poetry.
6.   Pete Seeger - He wrote so many incredible songs with valuable messages. I've always loved this version of "Turn! Turn! Turn!".
7.   Harry Chapin - I have a soft spot for "story songs" and "Cat's in the Cradle" is one of the best.
8.   Johnny Cash - Even though country is not my genre, I'm a fan of his distinctive voice and songs like "Ring of Fire" and "I Walk the Line".
9.   Harry Nilsson - In college we played his album A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night until it was worn out. I'm not sure why, but his voice really stood out on this standards album.
10. Michael Dunford - Not a name that is widely recognized, but he was a guitarist, chief composer, and creative force for the band Renaissance. Their albums provided the soundtrack to my young adulthood, and I'm grateful for Michael Dunford's part in that.

Who would you like to bring back for more music?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fancy Family Flatware

In 1990 we had just moved from Syracuse and were now close to both of our families; we had bought a house with a huge dining room and a 12-foot table to fill the huge dining room, so I was hosting my first Thanksgiving. I was both excited and nervous while I made my lists and started preparing. I made progress with grocery shopping, cranberry-orange relish making, and pie baking. I had a little trouble finding a tablecloth for a 12-foot table, but my sister-in-law's sewing skills saved me. I did run into trouble when I realized that my stainless service for six wasn't going to work for the 14 people that were coming. While browsing through an antique mall I stumbled upon the perfect solution, a set of Oneida Tudor Plate flatware for 14 in the Queen Bess pattern for $35, and thus began my slight obsession.

It was a set of the basic knives, forks, and spoons, but I decided I needed a few serving pieces. I got several serving spoons, a pie server, cold meat fork and a gravy ladle from ebay, but continued my search after Thanksgiving. 

Over the years I acquired iced tea spoons, jelly spoons, butter knives, and the elusive butter spreaders, seafood forks, and demitasse spoons.

And once I saw the baby and youth sets, of course I had to have them!

I was captivated by the idea that this pattern was part of Betty Crocker's coupon program. Housewives saved coupons from Gold Medal flour and other General Mills products, sent them in with some money, and were rewarded with a new teaspoon or place setting. You could buy one or many pieces at a time depending upon your budget. A teaspoon cost 34 coupons and 5 cents or 2 coupons and 20 cents! The date usually given with this pattern is 1946, but I'm not sure if that's when it was introduced or discontinued. With one of my ebay purchases the kind seller included the original paperwork from when she had sent in her coupons. My growing set began to feel like a family heirloom, one that started with me.

But wait, there's more! I eventually found out that hollowware had also been offered in this pattern. These pieces were much more rare, but I enjoyed the hunt for ones I could afford. After 15 years or so I owned a butter dish, serving tray, water pitcher, vegetable dish, gravy boat, candelabras, and my biggest find - the complete tea set. It's engraved on the back, but that engraving put it into my price range and I do think about the ladies of Emmanuel Shrine #4 while I'm polishing it.

This is probably the only thing I've actively and intensely collected over many years. I had fun finding pieces, but I'm enjoying polishing it less and less. It's more vintage than antique and it's only silverplate so it's not especially valuable, but maybe someday one of my sons will be hosting Thanksgiving at their house and I can pass on the fancy family flatware.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sustenance on Sunday

Sundays are for writing about food, or When Life Gives You Green Tomatoes, Make Relish.

While I don't think relish would sustain me for long, we do use quite a bit of it. I'm not a big fan of fried green tomatoes (but did like the book and the movie!) so after cleaning out the garden,it was time for lots of:


Sitting with salt



3 quarts of relish done

We will relish the taste of our hotdogs and hamburgers with this relish!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Snippets

Saturdays are for small bits and pieces that I love, and by popular demand (okay, one person. Thank you, Mary!) the snippets are from another picture book. I should probably think of another name for Saturday posts, but there are only two more and Saturday Storytime sounds silly. Today's book is a silly story, but it's another one that both of my sons adored and I loved to read. Bonus: it's also a really fun way to practice money and counting skills.

Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells is the story of Max and Ruby who set out to buy a gift for their grandmother. Ruby (the responsible rabbit sibling) has saved up a walletful of bunny money. She finds the perfect birthday gift, but it costs far too much, and she also has to deal with Max, who thinks that Grandma would really enjoy a set of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. Max gets messy, hungry, and thirsty, all of which use their dwindling funds. They eventually find some great presents that Grandma clearly loves; the picture of her wearing them is wonderful!

For extra fun with this book, you can photocopy the endpapers and make your own bunny money to use along with the story. The money took a bit of time to make, but it added immeasurably to our enjoyment of this already-great book. Imagine my surprise when I also found two lucky quarters in our bunny money wallet! Max carries his lucky quarter, and of course both of my boys had to be holding lucky quarters when we read this. 

Rosemary Wells has a whole series of Max and Ruby stories including Bunny Cakes, Bunny Party, and A Christmas Tree for Ruby. More good news is that she's been writing and illustrating for over 40 years and has a multitude of other books besides Max and Ruby. One of my favorites was Yoko, even though my boys felt it was a bit too "girly" for them. They were, however, quite curious about red bean ice cream.

This fun book has stayed with me for 20 years or more; I still wish I could find a pair of singing bluebird earrings for $4.00!

Friday, November 14, 2014


I feel like a kid in the back seat asking, "Are we there yet?"

Here it is, less than halfway through NaBloPoMo and I may have run out of things to post about. For next year, I'm proposing National Blog Posting Fortnight. NaBloPoFo sounds almost the same, but it's only half as long, so it's twice as good.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Much of my day last Saturday was spent with my BBF. He helped me accomplish this.

We have three large maple trees and two gigantic oaks. I appreciate the shade they provide in the summer, but there is a price to be paid in the fall. Raking used to be a big family event, but since two family members no longer live here, and the other one was traveling this weekend, the carpet of leaves became my job. 

BBF is Behemoth Best Friend, and he truly is that for this job. He's very heavy and quite noisy but using him saves me quite a bit of time over raking. 

So thank you, BBF, for all your help. I think we'll be spending a few more days together before you get to rest for the winter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

 Ten Six on Tuesday Wednesday

It just seemed wrong not to post about Armistice Day on the actual day, but I may also be running out of things to write about for NaBloPoMo, so I don't want to waste a topic when it's handed to me. Because I'm the boss of my blog, I'm using the Ten on Tuesday topic for Wednesday - 10 Collections You Have Had Over the Years. I'm not really a collecting kind of person, so let's see...
1. Steiff stuffed animals - Some of these are mine from childhood and some of them were my mother's, but I think they qualify as a collection.

2. Can plants be a collection? - I think so, and there are quite a few more.

3. Silverware (let's be fancy and call it flatware) - The set on the right I inherited as an instant collection; the set on the left I got a little carried away on ebay collecting pieces.

4. Yarn - I tend to think of my stash as "a resource for knitting" but if I'm honest, I have far more than I will ever knit, so I'm really just collecting some of it.

5. Stained glass - I didn't set out to collect these, but have ended up with three pieces. They're tough to take pictures of, so this collection really does look much better in real life.

6. Rocks - These aren't anything special in a geological way, but they are special to me. We've brought "good rocks" back from family vacations for 20 years or more. The best small ones are in baskets and some of the larger ones have been moved outside as part of the garden landscaping.

My current favorite is this sparkly one I found in Fort Collins this summer.

That's all I can come up with, since I'm sure dust does not qualify as a collector's item!