Monday, December 24, 2018

From Our Home to Yours

Whatever you might be celebrating - Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Yule, Saturnalia, the Winter Solstice, or Monday - I wish you and all those you hold dear good health, warmth, peace, comfort, joy, contentment, and love.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Amaryllis Watch

I showed you old photos of past amaryllis yesterday; today it's the current crop. It's not going to be all amaryllis all the time here, but I will admit that they make for relatively quick posts.

There are some small changes, with the intriguing preview of several visible blossom shoots. Last week I said that growing amaryllis involved Patience, and this week the word that comes to my mind is Hope.

I  hope you have a good weekend, without crowds and frustration, but with plenty of hope and celebration for the return of the light.
Happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with amaryllis from past years. My current ones are growing slowly, which makes me happy since that way I'll have blossoms in January or February. While I wait patiently, here are three I found in my photo files.

And a bonus photo of some dramatic buds. 

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with one pair down, and 25 more rows to go on the second pair.

When we visited The Loopy Ewe last August, Ryan spied the Hedgehog Fibers Egg Yolk colorway and said immediately that he wanted some Fried Egg & Waffle mitts - one mitt in Egg Yolk, one mitt in an Egg White colorway, and both in a waffle pattern. I was happy to oblige for Christmas! I have offered to knit him another pair just like it, in case he ever wants to match. Fingers crossed tightly that the post office doesn't lose these, but with a six-day delivery estimate for a priority package that I mailed on Monday, they might arrive after Christmas. As long as they get there!

Justin's mitts are almost done, and I'm going to follow Kat's example and finish them today, while knitting in lots of warmth and love.

I'm still reading A Place in the Woods, but am enjoying it so much that I plan on savoring it.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fortuitous Tuesday

Today was a day of errands. Justin's truck had a recall that had to be done by the end of the year, so he took today off, came home last night, and we headed to the Ford dealer to get the crankcase vent replaced and the PCM reprogrammed. (Does it sound like I know what I'm talking about? I don't.)

Justin works for wonderful people who really value him and his work, and he had been rewarded with some very nice Christmas presents. He received a very warm and wonderful piece of outdoor clothing, but unfortunately it was too small. I called around to Cabela's in PA, CT, and DE in hopes that he could exchange it for a larger size, but we weren't that lucky. He decided to return it and see what else he could find as a substitute, so we headed 75 miles down the road to Cabela's in Hamburg, PA. The return went smoothly, we had a fun time shopping with barely any crowds, he found what he was looking for, and I even got some accessories to improve my bow shooting.

 After lunch we headed home, and on the way, he got a call from the optician saying his new lenses were ready. Justin was welding and a spark burned a hole right through his lens. He swore he was wearing a welding helmet, but better his glasses than his eye. Jim the optician popped the old lenses out, popped the new ones in, and told us they were free. He congratulated us on our fortuitous Tuesday, and I wholeheartedly agreed. I wish every Tuesday could be just as fortuitous, but I certainly intend to appreciate this one where everything fell into place and better yet, I got to spend it with Justin.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Scenes From the Weekend

We had our family Cookie Day on Saturday, and I think it was a rousing success. We each bring  a couple kinds of dough or baked cookies, and after everything is done, we split them up and go home with a large variety of cookies. The first year we met at my SiL's house, we did all the baking there. That took us over twelve hours, and honestly wasn't much fun. Now, ten years later, some of us bake our cookies ahead of time, others bake them at whoever's house we are gathered at, we have soup, chili, and sandwiches for lunch, and lots more people come. We've added spouses, significant others, and kids. I invited Justin's girlfriend (he had to work), and she brought 160 cut-out cookies! This is kind of a big deal because nobody else likes to make them, so we are going to try and keep her around. Best of all, my niece moved into a new house and she has a double oven! Now we have plenty of time for baking, visiting, and even eating a few cookies.

I hope you had a sweet weekend, too!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Amaryllis Watch

I haven't shared my amaryllis in almost a month; they were off to a slow start but now that that they've gathered their resources they've all got leaves and the very beginnings of flower stalks showing. Not particularly exciting, but they are hopeful and a reminder that all good things happen in their own good time and usually involve patience.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, with three random things today.

1.  On Tuesday I set a challenge for myself to get a smile from the clerk when I mailed my packages. Did I succeed? Yes! In the middle of our transaction, I said "take a picture" out loud; I was reminding myself to take the above photo when I left. I explained this to the frowning clerk, and she burst into laughter. She told me that she had been wanting to say "buy stickers" for the last few minutes so she wouldn't forget. We bonded over out to-do lists and both of us had a good laugh. I think I'm going to approach more of my transactions this way. It was a loonngg wait in line, but not nearly as bad as I expected since I got to laugh. 

2.  Last year we had sculptures on loan from Grounds for Sculpture, including Disgruntled Shopper. This year we have a velociraptor. I'm not sure why, but I do like him. There is a sign saying "Do not ride the dino!" so you know exactly what I wanted to do. 

3.  Look what I found, Vicki! I was looking for wine for a gift and did a happy dance when I saw the lovely Loveblock label. I was a little disappointed when I read the label and there was no mention of Maddy, but I bet it's good anyway. I'm very tempted to go back and get some for myself, especially if I could find the Bone Dry Riesling. 

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. 

So this happened. This particularly unsatisfying photo of a barely-cast-on Sockhead Cowl illustrates exactly why I need one. It's dark, cloudy, and 26 degrees outside, bad for photographs and people who want to be outside taking a walk. I'm still not done with my fingerless mitts, but I told myself that I would just cast on, admire the lovely color and then put it away and finish the mitts. Now all I have to do is resist the lure of the cowl until I really do finish the mitts. Lots of knitting is on the agenda for today. 

I am excited about a book I just started, A Place in the Woods. I found it while browsing Amazon for a gift book for someone else. I originally found the sequel, The Gift of the Deerand really wanted to read that one, but decided I should start with the first one first. I searched for it at five libraries and when there were no digital or paper copies to be found, I thought that maybe John wanted to get them for me as a Christmas gift. I'm lucky that he knows exactly what I wanted!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Piles o' Progress

As I look around the house, I see various piles o' stuff, all of which represent progress.

I'm taking this pile of boxes to the post office this morning. My goal is to get them all sent on their way and to make the clerk smile. Our post office is not known for their friendliness, especially during busy times, but I'm determined.

This bunch of bags is wrapped gifts, sorted by family, and ready to be delivered. That will probably happen by Saturday.

While not exactly a pile, this is the ribbon I wrap the porch columns in. It might happen today, or I might wait until Friday when it's supposed to be ten degrees warmer.

This is the start of the pile for cookie day. My SiL made me this apron that says "a true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked". I love it and wear it every cookie day. This pile will eventually have four types of dough added to it, along with several crock pots and lots of chili so we don't make ourselves sick on cookies.

I like seeing these piles, especially because they show that I'm getting things done. The post office pile will be dealt with shortly, and I can soon get back to where I'd really like to be, working on this pile o' knitting.

Time to go see if I can make the post office clerk smile!

Monday, December 10, 2018

For Donna

Today's post is for Donna, a reader who loves one of my Christmas cactuses - the purple one. She's commented on it for several years and looks forward to it blossoming next year. So as promised, here are some photos from this season.

When I trim the plants in the spring, I usually stick the cuttings in soil to start new plants. This is what resulted from doing that in April, and the new purple ones are blooming already.

Sorry for possibly too many pictures, but I did want to show Donna as many as possible.
Here's one last photo since you'll have to wait another whole year for more. 

Thanks for asking!

Friday, December 7, 2018

I Miss You, G'ma

I've written about my grandmother before, and because she was a wonderful woman who deserves to have her praises sung, I'm reposting this from two years ago. I miss her and think of her almost every day, but especially today, her birthday.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. It's an easy date for me to remember as she always joked that it was "a date which will live in infamy". I don't know what year the picture above was taken, but that is how I often think of her. A kind and gentle woman, but photos don't show that she was also independent, creative, and even rebellious if it meant doing what she believed was right.

Born in 1904, she became a schoolteacher as many women did then. She met my grandfather, but didn't let the fact that Ohio schoolteachers weren't allowed to be married in 1927 deter her. They ran away to West Virginia, got married in secret, and kept that secret for a year by living apart. I marvel at the courage it would have taken to defy her parents, society, and jeopardize a job she loved and needed. She told me, "It isn't fair that a woman should have to give up everything of herself when she marries."

I was the oldest grandchild of five, and while she always made me feel as if I was special, I think my sister and cousins might all say the same thing. Even though we lived more than 400 miles away, my grandparents came to visit us at least four times a year and we spent two weeks with them every summer. Those were glorious days when she taught me to knit, sew, crochet, garden, and cook. On walks through the woods she showed me how to identify trillium, bloodroot, and dig sassafras roots for a spring tonic. I'm not sure when we started calling her G'ma, but she loved it and it stuck.

G'ma was an excellent seamstress, sewing dresses for us for every occasion. This is my sister and me in new dresses, with our mouths and hands full of the licorice and gumdrops G'ma kept in the canister in the kitchen, just because she knew we loved them. Her sewing abilities extended to drapes and slip covers, almost always without a pattern, but fitting perfectly.

G'ma excelled at traditional "women's work", but didn't think twice about doing "men's work", too. This is the cabin that she and my grandfather built, and the outhouse that she dug a six-foot deep pit for. I wish I had a photo of the wood-burning stove inside where she cooked meals, and baked bread and cakes, after she had chopped wood for it.

Because I know how much G'ma loved me and appreciate everything she taught me, I think of her almost every day. Sometimes it's when I'm making dinner (city chicken because cubes of pork and veal on skewers used to be cheaper than chicken). Other times it's when I'm thinking about taking some half-assed shortcut and hearing G'ma's voice saying, "That's not how we do things, Bonny!" But it's always with love because I would not be the person I am without G'ma.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Three on Thursday - Coming and Going

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Today it's with three things about spending time in MD and NJ.

1.  We don't really have a set schedule because life (and long meetings at work and weather) happen, but usually we drive down to MD on Sunday night and head back to NJ on Thursday night. Winter should be interesting.

2.  This means that I spend time on Sunday and Thursday packing - my laptop, ipod, Kindle, phone, and knitting are must-have items, and there are often other things. Furniture, bird feeders, spices, clothing and shoes for a special occasion, and Hitchhikers have all been transported from NJ to MD, and sometimes back again. I always feel like I've forgotten something in both places.

3.  And then there is the matter of food. We came down to MD on Friday after Thanksgiving, so I had to freeze most of the leftovers in NJ. When we went back last week I got everything out and made a huge batch of turkey soup. I froze some in NJ and brought the rest down here to MD, but since today is Thursday and we're not done with the soup, I'm taking it back, along with the bread I made that will be stale in MD by Sunday night. I never know where we have milk and if it will be sour or not. John thinks we should just eat hoagies from WaWa (where we can also get milk) here in MD and I'm beginning to think he's right. 

I feel bad complaining about these relatively minor things when we're lucky enough to have two houses and this was our choice, but they're beginning to wear on me a bit. I did have boots in MD when it snowed, but no snow shovel (I borrowed one from a neighbor) and I haven't experienced the tragedy of leaving my knitting someplace I'm not, so I guess it's all good.

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, and the daydreaming is strong today. 

I'm still working on the Christmas mitts, and this is the second one in the first pair. This is lovely yarn to knit, but I'm ready to knit something besides dull green. 

I've got another mitt to knit on a second pair, but 'll explain more about them later. (Christmas knitting, you know.)

This is what I'm really daydreaming about - a Sockhead Cowl for me out of this gorgeous yarn.

The color is hard to capture (it's not blue, but a really rich purple) especially in too-dark-for-photos winter light, so here is a slightly jarring photo of it on the red couch at The Loopy Ewe last summer when I bought it.

Even though I can't take a good photo if it, it is lovely and I hope to cast on soon.

I'm also daydreaming about books. I'm reading Calypso, and I think it might be David Sedaris' best - the perfect blend of humor and poignancy. Kat talked about The Folded Clock and it intrigued me enough that I might need to read it next. None of the libraries I use to access Overdrive has a copy, but one of them uses a recommendation feature. I can recommend that they purchase the book, and if they do, they will check it out to me. I did this, but the next screen made me laugh.

The only criteria for recommending other books must be that they are available. No Rock or Willie Mays for me; I think I'll buy The Folded Clock before that happens.

What are you making and reading this week?