Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Here we are Easter Morning sitting in the sunshine.  Pk was watching a soccer game and I was just leaning on him and photosynthisizing.  The air was a bit cool but the sunshine was just lovely.

I brought some flowers inside to enjoy the color and forgot how smelly daffodils are.  I really don't like the smell.  I also don't like the smell of lilies (that actually gives me a headache) or eucalyptus or cilantro.  That is my favorite small pitcher/vase (once it became a vase, it was never a pitcher again-something ewwwy about that).  It's made of local clay by a local artist.  And it's just big enough to hold a small handful of fresh cut flowers.

My roses are here!  We stopped at the garden center on Monday to get some grass seed and just happened to notice that there were roses.  These are Knock-Out Roses.  There is a white one, a yellow one with flowers that fade to cream and a pink one.  Pk dug the garden bed just for them as an anniversary present last year.  We have been haunting the garden center but everything is a bit late this year due to Winter's seeming unendingness.  The bushes are in the ground now and with any luck will start to bloom soon and will bloom all summer until we have a hard frost.

Knit picks advertised some limited edition colors in their sock yarn in neon colors.  I don't know about you, but I couldn't resist.  We got purple for Elanor and Pk and I both got neon green.  He wants his socks to be a solid green color but I decided to stripe mine with navy blue.  I'll make the heels and toes blue and then it's 5 row stripes.  I'm going to carry the alternate color up the side so I don't have many many ends to weave in.  I started one last night to see how it would work and I love it.  And I'll have enough to make2 pairs.  I'm thinking of doing one in Fibonacci stripes and one with regular stripes.

And sadly, tomorrow is the funeral of the last of my mother's siblings, my Aunt Elsie.  She was born in 1925 and was a preemie.  She was so small that my grandfather's wedding ring fit all the way up her arm to her shoulder.  But, she survived.  She was one of the funniest and loveliest women I have ever known.  She loved to get down on the floor and play with the kids.  My girls adored her and when her grandson was born, she was over the moon.

On Hallowe'en, I used to take the girls to my Aunt Joan's house and she and I would cook dinner while Aunt Elsie took them trick or treating.  It was dark and she would shine the flashlight all over saying "Lightning! Lightning is everywhere!".  She wore a pumpkin hat and got as much candy as the kids some years.  I will miss her so much but I am thankful to have had her in my (and my girls') life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We are all about the Spring here.  I say that even though it was only 32 degrees F (0C) here this morning and I pulled out my woolen mittens so my hands didn't cramp up on my way to work.

But all around the house are dozens of daffodils and tulips and grape hyacinths all hopefully blooming.We had a few days of 70-80 degree sunshine and boy did those bulbs make the best of it.  They are so beautiful but then a frost hit Tuesday night with actual snow in some areas and the fairly fragile spring blooms are not going to last very long.
 I am sitting here trying to psych myself up for the day.  It's Thursday in the real world but for me, this is my Friday.  I took off Friday and Monday to give myself a long weekend.  Although there have not been any immediate ramifications of Peter Kevin getting laid off, I can't seem to stop my mind from going to the "what if" place.  What if he doesn't find a job by September? (when his severance ends).  What if I can't pay the mortgage, what if we can't buy food?

I know this is a useless thing and just makes me grind my teeth but I can't seem to help it.  I am generally a positive person deep inside I believe everything will work out but some days.......Added to this, they are changing our insurance at work and I have lost the plan I've had for the last 20 years.  I understand that we are a health system and they want us to use our own doctors.  I really do.  But I live in NJ and the health system is centered in Philadelphia.  If I have to be hospitalized, it'll have to be in Philadelphia which is a bit of a pita for Pk.  Parking alone could bankrupt a person.

Fortunately, my current pcp accepts the new insurance but my copays will be higher because they are not one of the Penn Health doctors.  But they're MY doctors and we have a relationship that's been built over the last 15 years.

But, enough of that.  Things will work out.  They always do and whatever happens, we'll deal with it.  We always do.

This weekend is Easter and that means cooking.  We are going shopping tomorrow which will include a trip to the Russian market to get some kielbasa and some breads.

Then it's off to the produce place and then Shop Rite and then the liquor store.  Then someone has to come home and put away all those groceries.

Saturday we will make baked beans and potato salad and I will bake babka and maybe some sugar cookies (we'll have Easter mooses and bats and dinosaurs of course.  What else would you have?).  On Sunday, I'll have to just put the ham in the oven and cook up the kielbasa and pierogies.  There will only be the three of us so I'll cut back on the amounts.  When I suggested that maybe we didn't need quite so much food, Pk said "Why don't you just ruin Easter?".  So, I'll humor him and make his traditional favorites but just much less of them.

The garden center folks said the roses bushes will be in at the end of April.  The season is a bit slow this year due to all the cold and snow.  By the time they come in, the bulbs wil be done flowering and will just be photosynthesizing to make more bulbs.  We're going to put 3 or 4 rose bushes right behind the daffodils and tulips.  I am so excited.

Work is busy.  We have an inspection coming up in about 10 days.  It's an important one because it's mostly financial.  They want to see notes for every service we billed for.  Fortunately, I am not much of a billable person so I don't have many notes to worry about.  But everyone is a bit on edge because you know, it's all about the money.

The sun is shining and the tree outside my window is full of ugly smelling flowers (although they are rather pretty) with their bright yellow pollen.  Yes, the pollen is flying and starting to cover most surfaces.  I am ready with antihistamines and extra tissues.

I hope y'all have a joyous Easter (if that's your holiday), a warm and happy Ostara (if that one's yours) or a happy and healthy Passover.  And if I've forgotten one, I'm sorry.  Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope your weekend is happy and healthy and filled with all the good things in your life.

"Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look."

~Pema Chödrön

Monday, April 7, 2014

The crocuses managed to fight their way through the snow and ice and bloomed into these lovely purple and white beauties.

And the yellow ones are so intensely yellow that they glow in the sunlight.  They were well worth the wait.

We have some hyacinths and the daffodils have finally decided to throw off their green coats and show off their frilly yellow dresses.  I think they are my very favorites of all the spring bulbs (at least until the grape hyacinths come up-they're so darn cute)

(photo from celtic swan website)

We had a birthday dinner for Em over the weekend and Pk and I gave her some hand forged needles from Celtic Swan Forge.  They're bronze and silver with rose quartz set in the end.  They are gorgeous.  We gave her some cashmere yarn to knit with them and I think she liked them.
And of course we had cake!  Em wanted chocolate so I called the bakery and asked for chocolate cake.  They made fudge cake and then put fudge on top of it.  It was delicious. 

Sunday I did the laundry and tried not to give in to the nervousness that is waiting just below the surface.  Peter Kevin got laid off on Thursday.  They gave him a modest package (he'll get 8 paychecks going forward 4 months and then that's the end).  Theoretically, if he finds a job within that timeframe, it's all good.  I am not so optimistic and our job market continues to be dismal so the nervousness sits just below the surface of my day. 

This is the first of two baby sweaters finished this month.  I think I'm caught up now.  Most of the folks who work here are young-ish and in that baby-making stage of their lives.  This is such an easy pattern to make and it makes a nice, unisex sweater.  I used a cotton/acrylic blend so it's washable and also a bit soft. 

I'm hoping the baby machine will slow down a bit.  I have to get started on Kate's wedding dress.  I'd like to finish it before the heat of the summer sets in.

I was given a gorgeous skein of red laceweight yarn and bought a pattern that uses roses as its main design because I thought it would be pretty.  The pattern has 6 charts.  SIX.  I am not good with charts and I am having second thoughts about this but I just put it aside for the time being.  I am cleaning out wips that are never going to get finished and looking for things to make that will require some concentration and will teach me something.  I'd like to try the roses but SIX charts gives me pause. 

Life goes on here like it does everywhere.  We will keep moving forward (as you do) becasue what other choice do we have?  There may be some belt-tightening going on but we are so lucky and have so much that we'll be fine for a while. But, if you run across any spare job finding mojo, could you send it our way?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Monday PM

Tuesday AM

Happy Friday!  Here we are with some crocuses coming up on Monday after work.  They are later than usual due to the cold weather not wanting to give up it's hold.

And here are the same two crocuses on Tuesday morning after it snowed (again!) on Monday night.  Thankfully, crocuses are hardy little things and these are still blooming. 

I think we are out of the woods as far as snow goes but I am afraid to believe it.  It's supposed to rain pretty hard all weekend so outdoor activities may be out of the question.  But we can handle the "liquid snow".

Peter Kevin continues to soldier on at work. Monday is the meeting to discuss the progress of his Performance Improvement Plan.  He's met all of the goals, just not by the deadlines set in the Plan.  Partly this is due to the changing requirements of one of the managers but I'd bet they are not going to take that into consideration.  He's been bringing home personal things a bagfull at a time so that if and when they tell him he's terminated, he won't have to be escorted out with a big box.

One of our new doctors (a good one) is leaving on July 1st to work in another part of the health system.  His wife is pregnant so I'm trying to whip up a baby sweater to give them before he leaves.  I hate that he is leaving.  He's bright and personable and works hard for his patients.  He's also young and ambitious and I can see him running the entire system before the end of his career.  We've hired some new young doctors to take the place of the ones that have left but they don't start until July so until then we juggle. 

If someone asks you to describe yourself, what's the first word that comes to your mind?  Woman?  Mother? Wife?  Author?  Craftswoman?  Artist? Do you identify your role before your gender?  I've been thinking about this alot because I want to try it with my social rehabilitation group on Wednesday.  I'm curious to see how they define themselves.  Where will the illness fall on the list of descriptive words, or will it be on the list at all?  I don't identify myself as a person with arthritis, hypertension and thyroid disease.  Why would someone with a mental illness add that to their description of themselves?  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that more than half the group will say whatever their illness is first.  It's what society has taught them.  "the most important thing about you is your mental illness".  It's what they get the most attention (both positive and negative) for so I guess that makes it the most important. 

So, what would you say?  I think I would describe myself as a Woman, Wife, Mother, Social Worker, Craftsperson, but those are my roles.  I would also describe myself as compassionate, kind, loving, hard working, patient and allergy prone (especially to strong scents). 

I am part of a team in a study of movement, walking in particular.  I had to install an app on my phone and it keeps track of my steps all day and then transmits them to the study people.  When we signed up, we had no idea that there was a minimum number of steps we are supposed to hit each day.  It's 7000 steps.  I hit 2000 yesterday but didn't come close to the 7000.  My team is never going to be eligible for prizes at this rate!  I think the idea is to see if with encouragement, people can be coaxed into walking more steps.  Pk has offered to walk around the block with me after work to make sure I get my 7000.  I'm going to take him up on it.  We've wanted to get some exercise and since we don't like the gym, this may be a good way to get started.

I'm getting sleepy sitting here at the computer so I am going to get up and walk around for a bit. (More Steps!!) Today is a mostly paperwork day so I'm going to be fighting off sleep for a bit I think.  Have a good Friday and a restful weekend.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This was our house on Tuesday when we got home from work.  Those are deadly looking, aren't they?  Our gutter leaks there but the ground has been so wet/snowcovered/muddy under the window that Pk was afraid to put a ladder up to put on a new piece of gutter.  As soon as the weather clears, he'll do that.

Needless to say, the peas did not get planted.  We're hoping to get to them this weekend (no rain in the forecast). There are, however, snow showers in the forecast for later next week.  I will try to remember this in August when we're complaining of the heat.

Pk has been having a hard time at work.  One of the managers wants him gone and gone he will be.  Probably sooner rather than later.  And since PA is an "at will " state, they can fire him without giving a reason.  It's very stressful since the job market is so tight.  And we only have a year and a half on our mortgage.  It would be a good time for us to win the lottery.

He actually feels a bit relieved.  The writing is clearly on the wall and he doesn't have to guess anymore.  I am feeling stressed and more than a bit anxious.  He'll be covered under my insurance but his salary is significantly more than mine.  There will be a lot of belt tightening in our household.

All of this cold weather has brought out our need for warm comfort foods.  I've made chicken and dumplings and pot pie and stew and this.  Cream of Potato soup with bacon and cheddar cheese.  It was absolutely delicious.  I really like the soup alone but the bacon and cheese just make it better , kinda like how a hamburger is good but a bacon cheeseburger is better.  Bacon and cheese make most everything taste better.

I found a new copy of the pattern for Kate's dress and the cutting and pinning will commence soon.  She has opted not to help but wants to leave it up to me.  Kate has never een a frilly girl and this style looks just perfect on her.  I love making formal dresses.  I like playing with the sparkly bits and the fancy fabrics. 

I just finished most of the grocery shopping here at my desk and will stop at the store to get the rest and pick up my order.  I am getting used to using this service.  It feels like giving myself a small gift of time.

And in case you didn't see this yet, let me introduce you to the newest time suck I have found.  It's a game called 2048.  It was developed by an Italian teenager and it's here  I apologize in advance for the hours you are going to lose.  It's deceptively simple to learn and then unbelievably addictive.  I am not a number game person but this one grabbed me and won't let go.

"Hello, my name is Donna Lee and I am addicted to 2048"........(I can see it now)

Monday, March 17, 2014

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

This isn't what it usually looks like around here on March 17 but this is what greeted me this morning as Iwalked out my front door.  What you can't see is the snow continuing to fall at a good clip as I made my way to the car.

And then down Locust Street.  Look how much lighter it was once I got into Philadelphia.  You're supposed to plant your peas today but I don't think we're going to get there.

And in the Here We Go Again category, clothing division, I went wedding dress fabric shopping with Kate yesterday. 

This is the colors and fabric she chose.  The green will be the underdress and the lace (which has sequins all over it) will be on top.  We've made this dress before.  When Kate went to the ROTC ball in high school she chose this dress pattern and we made it in an ice blue color with a sparkly overdress.  It is a perfect style for her and this color will look lovely.  There's plenty of time until the wedding in October but I think I'd like to get it done before the heat of the summer sets in (if it ever stops snowing!).
I made 6 loaves of soda bread Saturday.  We ate one right away after it came out of the oven.  I only make this once a year and it is so delicious. I used dried cranberries in place of raisins because we like them better.  
And it may be all white and grey and brown outside but look at the lovely bright spring-like colors in this yarn.  It's one of Zen Yarn Garden's artwalk yarns.  It's Monet's Roses and the colors are just so pleasing to the eye and it's so soft and squishy (merino/cashmere/nylon blend) that it's such a pleasure just to touch.

It may be St Patrick's Day but that doesn't make it a holiday here.  I have a busy Monday ahead of me as long as my clients can make it in for their appointments.  It's 8:15 and no one has called to cancel so I guess we're on for the morning.  Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We made it through what will be (hopefully) our last snow storm of the season.  There are flakes in the forecast for Wednesday night but they are not supposed to amount to much.  I didn't have to take a day off on Monday so I can start accumulating vacation time for the days when the sun is out and I can get outdoors.

Here's a few of the things happening in our world here in NJ.
There have been interesting ships in the river.  This is an amphibious craft docked on the Delaware river.  It looked like a giant Lego ship.  I kept trying to get a photo every day as the train went across the bridge. 

There have been soccer games on weekend mornings.  This was the reason we broke down and bought a television and Pk has been taking full advantage of it.  The English games are winding down and the  MLS games here are just starting up so it's soccer all year round.  And let's not forget World Cup this year. 

Peter Kevin gets up early and sits there in the sunshine, "photosynthisizing". 

Kate wanted a pair of socks to wear with her boots when it's warmer and naked legs won't be too cold.  She admitted she hates making socks so I started a pair of Snow Queen socks for her.  They're about 9 inches tall, just enough to stick out the top of her boots and look cute. 

We get the NYTimes electronically.  I like reading the paper and it has lots of links to additional information (and lots of photos).  One thing I did not anticipate was Food.  They have one or two food writers.  Not critics but actual food writers. 

We've tried a few of their recipes with mixed success.  This one was a hit.  It's Polenta with butternut squash and sausage and fried onions.

I've only ever had polenta in one of those plastic tubes where you cut it into rings and cook it.  It has some corn flavor and some interesting texture but not impressive.  The food writer said this stuff would blow the tube stuff out of the water.

So, we went out and hunted down a butternut squash and Peter Kevin ground our polenta a bit to make it finer.  I grated the squash and cooked it with the polenta and then spooned the sausage on top.

I liked the polenta itself.  It was warm and soft and very comforting.  It had good corn flavor, slightly salty but not overly so.  I will state right out that I am not a sausage fan.  I should have just gone for the onions and left the sausage off but Pk and Elanor really liked it.  This will be added to our resevoir of recipes.

DST is kicking my ass this week.  I am dragging.  I had a hard time sleeping Sunday night but last night I slept fairly well and I am still not my energetic self this morning.  I know it takes about a week for my eyes/brain to get accustomed to the change in light.  This week will be a bit of a struggle. 

So, life has been fairly quiet.  Kate and I are going out Sunday to look for fabric to make her wedding dress.  It should be fairly easy since she already knows exactly what she wants in the way of a dress.  I made her one to wear to a formal in high school and she wants the same dress, only in a different color.  It's fairly plainly designed with an off the shoulder neckline and short sleeves and a fitted bodice which falls away to a slightly a line skirt.  It was ice blue taffeta with a lace/sequined overlay.  She looked beautiful.  It was feminine without being frilly.  I still have the pattern so she can get exactly what she wants. And I get to spend time in a store with fabric and sewing things.  Win/win.

It will be 60 degrees today (15.5C) and will be 29 degrees on Thursday (-1.6).  Welcome to Almost Spring in NJ! 


About Me

I am a woman with a family and a job and a love of making things with my hands. I like to cook and sew and knit and laugh, always laugh.
It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
~chinese proverb