Friday, December 31, 2010

It's 6:30 PM here and there's only a little bit of 2010 left.  I can hear fireworks somewhere out there in the darkness.  Pk and El and I are just finishing up dinner (quiche and nice chewy bread) and then we'll clean up and go spend the next few hours with my brother and his children.

I spent the day doing some tidying up and some cleaning out.  The laundry is done and the closet cleaned out and my work clothes are cleaned and ready for me to go back to work.  (and I didn't forget to pack the gym bag)
The groceries are purchased and put away.  I put some beans into the crock pot and they should be smelling good very soon.  We'll eat them with potato salad and ham on Sunday. 

It feels good.  I wanted to clean out the spare room and straighten it up but that's for another day.  It's not too messy but it's become a dumping ground and I want it to be an organized dumping ground.

Other than that, all the chores for the weekend are finished.  Tomorrow, we'll have dinner with Em and Jim and then Sunday I think we'll be lucky if we get dressed.  It's our last day of vacation and we'll spend it vacating in our pajamas.

We've had a great holiday.  I got to spend some time with my family and a good bit of time by myself which I need sometimes.  I did some knitting and also some spinning and lots of cooking.  It was nice to have the time to be creative and to spend time doing what I enjoy.  I make time for my crafts all during the year but often it's little snatches of time here and there.  This was days of time just for me.  And I loved it.

In a short bit, it'll be a whole new year.  It's like being given one last gift for Christmas.  I can't wait to see what it brings!

Here's to a happy, healthy, crafty, crazy, fun-filled, thoughtful, incredible 2011.  Happiest of Happy New Years.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Elanor's bedroom window

Can you stand a few more snow photos?  This is the view out my bedroom window.  For some reason, the snow piled on top of the birch stumps caught my eye.  This was early yesterday morning.  And these are some huge icicles hanging from an ice dam in the gutter.  They were almost 3 feet long and rather impressive.  The front of the house gets the morning sun and this was about noon-ish. 

And here's my little snowmen sitting in the snow.  They're about 8 inches off the ground normally but now are just sitting on the snow.  They were covered up by the blowing, drifting white stuff for a few hours but looks like they have dug themselves out.

It's very bright when you go outside.  The light reflects off all the white and it feels like you're in the middle of a light box.  We went out yesterday to take a care package and check on one of Em's friends that she was worried about.  Turns out the friend already had someone there so we dropped off the soup and juice and came back home.

I spent most of the day working on my cowl.  I want it to be long enough to be a hood so I'm doing 4 repeats of the chart.  I'm halfway through number 3.  If it's not quite long enough, I may do an extra repeat.  The pattern calls for worsted weight and my yarn is more fingering. 

I still have considerable congestion.  Since I can't take decongestants (blood pressure) I have to wait for my body and gravity to clear out my sinuses.  I use warm rags when the pressure gets too much.  I've enjoyed being off from work and could easily get used to being a woman of leisure.  I've been sleeping 8-10 hours a night and napping if the urge strikes.  It's been wonderful.

I've also had some random thoughts.  Because I have no shame, I'll share them with you.

Do you think the yarnharlot reads all her comments?  Sometimes when I read her blog, there are literally hundreds.  Even if I have something I want to say, I won't bother.  I can't imagine anyone has the time/patience to read through that many comments.  Would you?

I was cruising the boards on ravelry and ran across a thread titled "whatcha get?".  For some reason, I found this really offensive.  Not that people shouldn't talk about how excited they are about what they got for Christmas, I got some really lovely things, but somehow it felt like it was in poor taste in this economic climate.  Like it's flaunting.  I don't know.  I'm still thinking this one through.  I guess I just read too many threads where people are struggling just to pay the bills and put food on the table. 

We actually have some plans for the next few days.  Tomorrow, Pk has to go to work for half the day to meet with someone and explain the new program he wrote.  Then we're going shopping to exchange some items and do the grocery shopping.  Friday night we'll spend with my brother and his family playing games and eating goodies.  Saturday we're going to Em's house for dinner and then Sunday will be a pajama day. 

And then it's back to ordinary life on Monday.  le sigh.  Back to the gym for a gradual reintroduction to my workout.  I have not gone regularly for over a month and I can feel the difference.  This, more than anything, will convince me to go back and be more loyal to my workout .  I have noticed that I have more body aches than I did when we were going regularly.  I may not lose weight, but feeling better is way worth the effort. 

Any New Year's resolutions on your agenda?  I am endeavoring to be kind to people and give people the benefit of the doubt.  I am going to try not to jump to conclusions about people's motives.  I am going to continue to try new things in my knitting/spinning and acheive continued gaak.  Hard to believe it's time to think of this stuff again, isn't it?

Monday, December 27, 2010

When it started snowing yesterday at around 11 in the morning, it looked like this (right).  Lots of fine flakes that quickly covered sidewalks.  It had been so cold that the snow "stuck" to the ground easily.
By mid afternoon, it looked like this (left).  I sat firmly ensconced on my couch enjoying the company of the Christmas tree and making myself a Strider cowl.  By the end of the night I had finished one repeat and will work on it some more today.  It's the polwarth/silk yarn that drk gave me when she came to visit.  It's soft and light and I think will keep my head warm (I'm making it as long as I can to pull it over my head) without being too tight. 

And this is what it looks like this morning after Pk has started to dig us out.  It's cold.  Really cold.  The snow is powdery and light and is blowing all over in the wind.  I don't think he'll be outside any longer than he has to and I don't think we'll see too many kids outside, although kids seem to be immune to cold where snow is concerned.

I'm so glad we both have today off from work.  It will be a mess there  as people call and cancel appointments.  Philadelphia doesn't plow the small streets and people can be snowed in for a few days as neighbors help dig each other out.  My office mate is providing coverage for me and I told him that all my people were in fine shape and he wouldn't have much to do.  I lied.  He'll probably have to spend the day faxing prescriptions for people who can't make it in for their appointments.  And tomorrow, too.  I guess I'll owe him one.

I'm going to do some laundry and knit and maybe get the wheel out for a while.  I haven't been spinning since I moved the wheel to the spare room for the holiday.  Em gave me some merino/tencel mix and I'm itching to try it out.  It looks like it'll be shiny. 

My cold is slowly receding, as colds do.  The sneezing and watery eyes have given way to sinuses that are blocked and rather painful.  A hot shower this morning helped tremendously.  Some Mucinex and hot tea will help some more (I hope). 

I forgot to show you one of my favorite Christmas gifts.  It's a Wood Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls.  Kate made it.  It's so warm and the color is much redder than in the photo.  I kept it wrapped around my shoulders most of yesterday. 

It sounds like Pk is finished (I hear the garage door opening and closing) and I want to make him some hot food so I'll close now. 

Have a wonderful Monday (and stay warm!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We have a surfer

We had a snowman corps robbing a train
 I thought I'd share some decorating images with you.  I'm proud of my family's creativity.  We started with some cookies late in the day on Friday. 

And a quadraplegic moose with wheels
There were some normal looking holly leaves and bells and stars but who wants to see them?  We ate some cheesesteak sandwiches while the cookies were being decorated and then moved onto the tree.

Pk puts the lights on and then I unpack the ornaments and the kids hang them.  Everyone helps out with the tinsel.   It was finished by about 10 o'clock and it's beautiful. 

We were up early this morning and spent a happy few hours opening presents.  I think the best part is the explanations that go with the presents.  The "oh, I got this because....." parts.  That's what memories are made of, not the gift itself.

I must have been an especially good girl this year because I got some lovely presents including one that made me smile and laugh out loud.

I have an inordinate fondness for pop-up books.  Kate gave me a Star Wars pop up book that is so cool.  Here's a photo of R2D2 and C3PO.  How cool is that?  And it's a thick book filled with pages that pop up all over.  And the final page has Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and their light sabres light up.  It was tons of fun. 

We had a lovely roast beef with roasted veggies for dinner.  Best part?  It all went into the oven with minimal fuss and came out 2 and a half hours later just perfect.  The oven did all the work while I napped and did some knitting.  This was important because the "little head cold" that I had on the 23rd blossomed into a colossal sneezing, nose blowing, eye watering mess.  I managed to make it through the day in one piece but I'm beat.  I will be doing nothing tomorrow but sitting around in my pajamas and eating soup.  (although I did make it through most of a game of Risk with Kate, Patrick, Elanor and Pk before Kate spilled wine and we had to mop everything up rather quickly)

Our holiday was peaceful and filled with joy.  It's a pleasure to watch my children interact with one another.  There is an intimacy there that warms my heart.  I am so grateful for what I have.  And my wonderful Peter Kevin!  I almost forgot to tell you that he made me some darning eggs!  I can now darn my handknit socks without using a lightbulb.  And here is the gift from Mumbai.  It's a knife blank.  Pk is making the handle for it.  It's a gift for Jim.  It didn't get finished because when Pk drilled the wood for the rivets on the handle, it cracked and was irreparable.  It'll be finished sometime this week.  If you enlarge the photo, you can see the etchings on the blade.  It's really pretty (Jim likes it).  It came with paperwork in three languages all declaring "this is not a weapon".  We got a kick out of that.  If it had come in the two days it was promised (instead of the ten actual days), it would have been done. 

This is our weather forecast for tomorrow. They've been toying with us all week saying 'it will snow', 'it won't snow' until it finally looks like it WILL snow sometime tomorrow morning through Monday morning. Over a foot is likely. I will be watching it from the inside and being very glad I don't have to go outside.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas (or if it's not your holiday, a happy weekend) !

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas Adam here for another 3 and one half hours. 

I had today off from work and managed to get an enormous amount accomplished, albeit slowly since I am coming down with a cold.  Not an at-death's-door kind of thing but a I'm-tired-and-my-throat-hurts-and-I-have-a-head-full-of-snot kind of thing. 

I baked the babka for Christmas morning and the chocolate torte that tradition (and my family) demands.  Both went well.  I did the laundry and cleaned the house and wrapped the presents. 

And then I took a nap. 

We were invited over to Patrick's mother's house for a holiday buffet and while the wise choice would have been to stay home, we went for a short while.  I'm sure it was nice but my heart (and the rest of my body) just wasn't in it.  Pk and Kate are out doing some father/daughter bonding time and shopping.  I am sitting on the bed in my pajamas with a cup of tea and some throat lozenges.  I plan to go to bed early and sleep late and be as lazy as humanly possible tomorrow. 

That won't be difficult.  The only thing on my agenda is to bake some cut out sugar cookies so we can decorate them in the afternoon.  I'm looking forward to it. And I promise to take photos of the creativity.  Pk and Kate have accepted this as a personal challenge to come up with unusual designs.  If they start drinking the eggnogg I made, they could be interesting indeed.

 The weather is clear and cold and windy tonight.  It's the kind of cold that blows right through you so I thought I'd make myself a cowl to wear.  I have scarves and hats (but I hate hats) and never saw the usefulness of a cowl until I saw someone pull one up over her head and voila, a hood that will not mash my hair and make my head itch. 

I expect that tomorrow will fly by as it always does now that I'm an adult (funny how slow Christmas Eve went when I was a kid).  I plan to do some knitting and put my feet up and let everyone wait on me.  I expect Em sometime early in the afternoon and Kate will be here around the same time.  Em and Jim will spend the night and Kate will come over with Patrick after they walk the dog in the morning.

I just didn't want the time to slip by without having the chance to wish you all a good holiday.

Merry Christmas! 

I wish you peace and love and contentment.  Cold eggnogg and warm hugs.  Laughter and joy and the ability to recognize how lucky we truly are. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Black cherry almond thumbprint cookies

Wanna see some suggestive cookie photos (notice how I cleverly avoided the P word?)?


Kate came over after her bass lesson and we baked 3 batches of cookies and made the dough for one more to be baked tomorrow.  Elanor made her signature cookie, the Spritz.  We have a cookie gun that works when it wants to so it's always an adventure.  El volunteers to play around with it each year and makes us a batch of the cute little melt in your mouth dainties.  These are lemon flavored.

Kate learned a new skill. She learned to use the pizelle iron and made her first batch of pizzelles.  We are not fond of anisette so we use vanilla and they are light and crisp and not too sweet. 

I made the thumbprint cookies using black cherry jam (we didn't have any raspberry) and they're yummy.  I made chocolate walnut cookies and coconut macaroons on Sunday and Monday so we're on our way. 

Tomorrow we will make the pfefferneuse (spice cookies which use ground black pepper in the dough) which is chilling in the fridge and also Pk's favorite Polish Butter Horns.  Then all I have left is the chocolate torte and the cut out sugar cookies which we are going to bake and decorate on Friday afternoon when Em and Jim come down.  Em loves to do this but didn't want to  make them just for herself (Jim and Colleen weren't familiar with the concept of Christmas cookies) so I offered to wait for her to come on Friday and we'll have a table full of people making outrageous cookies.  We have had ninjas with stars sticking out of their heads and reindeers all bloody from being shot with an arrow, not to mention pirates with one leg..... My family is nothing if not creative.

And speaking of creative (I can segue with the best of them), I never showed you the beautiful yarns Kylie gave me when she stopped briefly in Philadelphia.  Aren't they gorgeous?  The grey one is a polwarth/silk blend which is destined to become a cowl.  I have a pattern that I think I might like and it will make a nice, soft warm thing to put on my head since I really don't like hats.  The blue one is a merino laceweight which is all the colors of the sky.  It's just a perfect blue.
And there was a bag of Caramellos for Peter Kevin which he graciously shared with Elanor. 

So, Christmas is advancing at an alarming rate. I managed to wrap some gifts last night and am too tired to do any more tonight after all the baking.  I learned that Elanor already owns the video game I bought for her so I am heading out to the store tomorrow after work to return it and buy her something else.  It's a good thing Kate asked her about the game.  Pk is steadily working away on his crafty projects.  He's making good progress.

Things are falling slowly into place and it looks like with some luck and hard work and maybe a pinch of fairy dust, things will be done and ready for Santa. 

How about you?  Everyone at work keeps asking "are you ready for Christmas?".  I'm never quite sure what to say because I'm fairly sure no one wants to hear about how I still have to wrap presents and bake cookies and then there's some house cleaning (although Pk informs me he has taken over the laundry room and I am not allowed in there.  Secret Squirrel Christmas stuff so laundry will not be getting done just yet).  I usually just say, "of course I'm ready.  Aren't you?".  Then I get to listen to how THEY haven't finished wrapping/baking/cleaning/shopping.  It's a tradeoff.

Just a reminder, only 4 more days until Christmas in case you're not ready.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How about a little Saturday night random?  I have recovered my holiday spirit.  It came in with the snow flakes we got on Thursday.  Locust Street with snow flurries.  There was something about the little bit of snow that finally put me over the top.  I talked to Em today and she found her spirit hiding in a box of star cookies.  It doesn't matter to me where my spirit was hiding as long as it found me. 

Friday night, Pk and I gave up date night and went to the grocery store.  If it weren't for having to give up date night, I'd always go after work on Friday.  It wasn't crowded at all.  I expected a mob since Christmas is coming soon but it was not .  We got food and then went to the liquor store to get rum and wine and beer (for eggnog, wine punch and just plain drinking).  Elanor helped me put the food away and then we were free to do the other holiday chores for the rest of the weekend.

That included shopping.  I went to Delaware this morning with Pk to get some bits and pieces for the gifts he is making.  Then he went with me to the yarn store to get some bits and pieces for gifts.  I was able to find everything I wanted and it felt good to buy it locally.

Next was a trip to Joann's (fabric store) for other gift items and a trip to Best Buy.  Cue the dramatic music at this point.  Best Buy is in Deptford which is home to several shopping centers all in the same 2 mile radius.  It was a madhouse getting to the store.  The store itself (electronics, music, etc) wasn't that crowded and we got what we wanted and got right out but the roads leading up to the store were crowded. (and people are basically insane and driving on the shoulder of the road so as not to have to wait).

 And then an exciting thing happened in the life of my car.  I have an Isuzu Rodeo ( a '94) and today we did this (look at the odometer).  It's a little daunting to think that we put all of those one hundred thousand miles on the car!  This is the coolest thing about having a small camera.  I had it in my purse and could take a photo of the odometer just as it hit 100,000.  (we were stopped at a red light, no risky behavior here).

We also made stops at the farmers' market to get kielbasa for the holidays and then I dropped Pk off at home and went out and finished my shopping.  I got home a little before 6, fixed us a light dinner and now I'm sitting here with my sore feet up and getting ready to plan the cookie baking schedule for the week.  I'll make the list and put it up on the refridgerator.  Hopefully, El will feel inspired and do some of the baking.

This is my monkey socks in progress.  I love all the colors in this yarn.  They're just happy looking socks.  I have been working on the grey sweater and needed some color so I pulled these out of my work bag.  It's a glorious riot of color and soft and just lovely to work with.   I have to pick out the bound off edge and pick the stitches back up on the sweater since the armhole isn't going to be large enough.  I made it to the pattern measurements but I don't like the way it's going to fit so I'll make the armhole a little larger and I think it'll hang nicer.  It's only going to need a few inches added but I think those few inches will make a big difference. 
And in the "you never know when you'll need a handful of roving " department we have my coworker Angelo.  He got hold of a Santa suit and was going to wear it for program but needed a beard.  I had a bag of white roving that I had leftover from the Wellness fair so I pulled out the scissors and some rubber bands and we cut and attached the roving to his face with the rubber bands around his ears.  It's not perfect but it worked.  This only further enhances my reputation as a Martha (stewart) in my office. 

That hot air balloon in the photo used to hang over the changing table when the girls were babies.  I made it about 25 years ago and I now have it hanging in the window of my office at work.  It's just a little bit of whimsy.

And don't we all need a little whimsy?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I have spent 20 minutes trying desperately to embed this video into the blog but my analog personality is taking over today and I have been unable to figure it out.  If you follow this link, you can watch a funny holiday video.  It's worth the click.

The S word (as in Snow) was in the forecast today and amazingly, it actually snowed.  Just a bit, but enough to make the already very cold asphalt very slippery.  We were glad to get home safe and sound.  It was enough to put out the French Toast Alert.  You don't have this?  It's the phenomenon where any time the S word appears in a weather forecast it is MANDATORY to stock up on bread, milk and eggs.  We are ignoring the alert at our own peril.  We might not be able to get out for hours!

Last night after work, Pk, Elanor and I went to the mall to do some shopping.  It was fun.  We walked around and looked at lots of stuff but not much that struck our fancy. (Malls don't have much in the way of merchandise that is different from any other store anymore. )  It was just the walking around and being together that was the thing.  It helped that little spark of christmas light inside shine a little brighter.  And the snow this afternoon?  That did the trick.  I felt myself grinning all the way home on the train.  And tonight I plan to wrap some presents unless Kate comes for dinner.  I told her we were having some shrimp bisque and she jumped right on that.  In fact, she decided that Patrick could eat leftovers and she'd be over in time for soup.  Poor Patrick.  Thrown aside for a bowl of shrimp bisque (he doesn't eat shrimp and has to go to class tonight, so Kate's not all that mean). 

I have psoriasis and have had it for years.  It's mostly on my head, on my scalp.  Occasionally it comes out on my eyelids (I know, weird).  This year, I have a patch on top of the thumb joint of my left hand.  It's about the size of a quarter and itches like hell.  I'm trying everything I can to encourage it to go away and it seems to be fading a little.  Bodies are so weird sometimes.  The psoriasis is usually more dormant in the winter for me.  Unless I'm feeling particularly stressed.  I have more breakouts in the heat of the summer.  I don't feel especially stressed at the moment but maybe my body knows better than my brain does. 

I got a thank you note from the Director of my building today.  I helped out with the audio visual (computer and projector) for her meeting last week.  (I think it goes to say a LOT about the technical know how of our agency when I am the go-to person for IT).  Her secretary was busy with something else so I set up the laptop and hooked up the projector and ran her slide show.  In my mind, I was just helping out because that's what people do (it's what I do anyway).   In our agency, there are an awful lot of people who don't do anything extra or out of the scope of their daily job.  They don't put themselves out at all.  I can't work that way.  If I can help, I do.  Can't help it, it's the way I am made.  So, I helped out and the Director recognized it.  I didn't know she even noticed.  It makes me a little nervous.  I don't like being on the radar.  It gets me in trouble every time so I try to keep my head down.   But it was still nice to be thanked.

Pk's sweater is moving along.  The front/back is done and now I'm working on the other front/back.  He keeps touching it and admiring it.  It feels really good to make something that someone else really likes.    I'm at the stage where I'm looking at the yarn and wondering,hoping,praying I have enough to finish.  The suspense!

Oh, and I almost forgot, the merchandise we were waiting for from Mumbai came yesterday.  It's interesting looking and the packaging was interesting.  There are lots of disclaimers about it not being a weapon and the paperwork is in Hindi and English.  We're going to include the paperwork with the gift.  When it's been given, I'll show you a photo.  It's so cool.   and Phew!  That's a load off my mind.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's cold here.  The temperatures have not gotten above freezing here for the past two days.  Little bits of snow have fallen out of the sky but only enough to lift the heart.

I have noticed that there seems to be a dearth of Christmas spirit this year.  Do you think it's because the economy is shaky?  It was just as shaky last year and I don't remember people seeming quite so reluctant to celebrate.

I have been feeling kind of blah myself but have decided that I don't want to feel that way.  I believe that sometimes we can decide how we are going to feel and I am deciding to throw myself into the holiday and enjoy it all.

We will finish our Christmas shopping this coming weekend and that leaves me a week to do the baking.  I have to make the list of cookies to bake and see who I can rope into (encourage to participate) baking with me.  I work up until the 23rd since we have the 24th off and then I am taking the week between the holidays off.  Pk doesn't have the time left but he can work from home so there's no rushing around in the morning.  He'll have to spend the day in front of the computer but at least it's at home.

I haven't heard anything about our item still on order.  It's been over a week now and that's hardly a 2 day delivery.  The last email I got said that it took 5 days from India and then it would have to come from New York (which should only take a short bit since NY is only about 100 miles away).  Pk is pretty sure that it won't arrive in time for Christmas but I'm holding onto hope that it'll get here in time.

He was out scavenging for wood after work tonight.  He brought home some rather large hunks of oak and felt it was an altogether profitable trip.

I always tease Elanor that she looks just like her father.  Well, here's the proof.  It's one of the only photos I have of the two of them that close together.  Look at those faces.  They couldn't deny each other, that's for sure.  We were on our way back from Delaware and stopped at a pancake house for dinner (they were humoring me, I love pancakes).  I took advantage of having my pocket sized camera and took a photo of the two of them.  Aren't they cute?

I can tell from the smell that dinner is almost done.  I made chicken with garlic and olives and put some potatos in the oven with some acorn squash.  We're trying to eat different vegetables and hopefully this will be a success and we'll like the squash.  

Stay warm y'all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's 3 pm on Sunday afternoon.  I am sitting on the bed, drinking tea and reading blogs.  Pk is killing zombies.  A fairly typical Sunday afternoon.

Back up 3 hours.  We left the house and headed to Drexel Pizza to get some cheesesteaks to take for lunch with Kylie and Nadine.  We got the sandwiches and some cans of soda and headed for 30th St. Station in Philadelphia.  There's Peter Kevin looking at the board to see which platform the train is coming in on.  Doesn't look too crowded, does it?  It wasn't really.  Lots of people moving about.  Men (boys really) in uniform.  Yesterday was the Army/Navy game here (Navy won by a large margin) and they're making their way back to Annapolis or West Point.

It looks like Kylie is coming on track number 3.  I'm ready with my sign.  I don't see her anywhere so I go back to the table where Pk is sitting with the lunch and grab my cell phone to text her.  She says she's by the info booth.

And there she is!  She looks just like her photos.  And here's something that surprised me but I'll share it with you.  She has an Australian accent!  I know! 
How weird is that?  (When I read blogs, I read them to myself in my unaccented American English.  It doesn't sink in that other people have different accents until I hear their voices).  It was altogether odd and wonderful.

We made our way to the table where there were cheesesteaks, a pizza steak and a chicken cheesesteak. 
Pk and I chose to bring lunch here because Kylie and Nadine only had about an hour and a half and the weather was abysmal this morning.  The train station has tables and chairs (and of course a coffee shop and a McDonalds) so we parked ourselves in a quiet corner to sit and eat and talk.

There it is.  Proof that they made it into Philadelphia.  I went to the souvenir store and got some little Philadelphia mementos, a Liberty Bell keychain, a LOVE statue magnet and a  map of the city along with some chocolates.

Dr K gave me some lovely yarn that I already have some thoughts about (doesn't take long does it?).

We talked about their trip and the different things they've seen.  New York is the last stop and I imagine they'll have a grand time and be exhausted by the time they get home.

They left with plenty of time to retrieve their bags and get back on the train for the next leg of the journey.  They'll be in NY soon, it's not a long ride.  And us?  We'll continue on our lazy Sunday path.  I put ingredients in the bread machine to make dough for a panzarotti for Pk for dinner and I think I'll have an omelette.  I'm working on the alpaca sweater and watching some Japanese animation (Mushi-shi, strange but interesting).  It's a blustery day with rain and wind and lots of grey and ominous clouds.  No more going out for me.  I'm comfortable right here.

I hope you are all comfortable wherever you are. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I was sitting at my desk yesterday minding my own business (well, minding other people's business but since that is my job basically, it's ok) when the phone rang and a coworker told me that had an extra ticket to see A Christmas Carol at the Walnut St. Theater and would I like to go.  I asked when and she said they were leaving at 9:45.  I looked at my clock.  It was 9:35.  I looked at the 2 foot high pile of charts on my desk, all crying out for attention and said "of course I'd like to go". 

So, I did.  The Walnut St. Theater holds the record for the longest continually running theater in the English speaking world.  It's only a few blocks from where I work so we walked.  And since I have this lovely camera that I can carry in my purse, I have a photo.  My sock in progress and the stage.   Yes, people looked at me sideways when I pulled the sock out and took its photo but I like to show my knits a good time.

The play was a musical and it was well done.  It was only an hour long so it was a wonderful bit of holiday fun in the middle of a work day.  It was difficult to tackle that pile of charts after I got back but I managed to get everything done before our computer program decided to crash around 3 in the afternoon.  So, I'm ready to start the week on Monday.  Thankfully, since it's a full day of people to be seen.

Pk is working on his wips today and so am I.  I have laundry to do but not much else.  The shopping will wait until next weekend when we get paid. 

A local house all lit up

Here's a few photos from life around here

Some people go all out with the lights. But mother puts on quite a show all her own.

And a little bit of Oregon here in New Jersey.  Look, Roxie.  You're a clementine!

Have a good Saturday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kylie's coming, Kylie's coming, Kylie's coming!  I got email confirmation that drk and her sister will be able to stop in Philadelphia on Sunday for just a short time but it's enough to have lunch.  Unfortunately, the Terminal Market is out of the question because of the time constraints but we should be able to find a good place for a cheesesteak (a sandwich for which Philadelphia is known). 

I'm feeling a little peeved this morning.  Pk is making some holiday gifts this year (and going through the same "am I going to finish in time" angst as any knitter) and we had to order a piece for him to complete one of these gifts.  The website has an American flag and bald eagle as part of its logo so we assumed it was an American company.  Now, I want to say here that I don't have a bias against ordering from other countries and I'm not a "have to buy American" kind of person, but I think you probably already knew that.  The issue is that we paid extra for 2 day delivery.  I ordered the product on Monday and by Thursday, according to the site, it hadn't shipped yet.  (and my bank shows that the money was paid out on Monday)

I emailed the company and asked what was up and learned that the product is coming from Mumbai (which is ok) but hadn't shipped yet.  The "hasn't shipped yet" part is what is making me peeved.  If it gets hung up somewhere in transit, that's one thing.  If they haven't even sent it out yet, that's another.  The person who responded to my email said they "were checking on it" and should they refund the extra I paid for 2 day delivery.  It was only 2 dollars extra (which is why we paid it) but it's one of those principle things.  If you advertise 2 day delivery, then people should get 2 day delivery.  If it's not possible, don't advertise it.  I have written polite emails inquiring as to when we could expect this but if it hasn't shipped by tonight, I may have to cancel the order.  Thank goodness for paypal.   

Kate and I did a little holiday shopping last night but I was a lightweight.  I got tired and hungry so we weren't out too long.  I think she got what she needed and I got a few things.  I'll have to finish during the week and then next weekend.  I have plenty of time.  The holidays seem somehow surreal to me this year and I can't pinpoint why.  I seem content to ride along and go with the flow.  I'm not usually a fretful, anxious person but this year I seem to be even further out there. 

I'm sitting at my desk enjoying a still warm soft pretzel.  One of our clients brought them in and it's wonderfully doughy with a light dusting of salt.  That along with my coffee and I'm in a happy place. I have a huge pile of charts here next to me and the phone keeps ringing.  It's Friday, the day the phone rings all day. 

Have a good one!  I promise to take photos on Sunday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm home today.  I've managed to pick up a bit of a cold, not much, but enough to keep me from sleeping well last night.  I don't have anything important to do today at work so I gave myself the day off.  There's a piece of pork in the crockpot with onions and garlic and marjoram for dinner.  I'll make some couscous with vegetables for dinner.  Easy.

I also have to make some cupcakes for work tomorrow for the Recovery Committee's anniversary party.  I have boxes of cake mixes so it's not going to require much work/attention on my part.

These are our snowmen and the color changing star lights in the midst of a color change.  They move from red to blue to green to yellow and back to red and then they go all crazy and manically change.  The little snowmen just sit there and smile. 

Someone said we were going to get some snow next week and it's certainly cold enough.  This makes Pk excited even if it means he'll have to shovel out the walkways and the car.

This is Pk's sweater-in-progress.  I'm trying to work on it as often as I can.  It fits him just the way he wanted, loose and hanging softly.  He doesn't like tight fitting garments and this is loose enough for him to wear something underneath.  Can you see the difference in tension?  It's not as obvious in real life.  I don't know any way around it.  I'm trying not to knit tightly especially on the purl rows (every other row is a knit row so on the back side they're purled).  I don't know what else to do.  I'll block it when I finish and we'll see.

I'm just about finished the holiday socks.  Only a few inches and a toe.  I haven't been spinning much since we put the wheel in the spare room.  I prefer to spin in front of the window downstairs and the windows in the spare room aren't big enough to see out of it. I'll move it back downstairs after the Christmas tree comes down in January. 

Front window with lights!

I'm looking forward to meeting drk's train on Sunday.  Pk said we should grab a cab and go to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch.  It's a local landmark and it's a fascinating place to visit.  Good food and often music and interesting shops.  There are two stands that sell cheesesteaks but I think they're closed on Sundays so we'll see.  There are Amish bakeries there, too but I know they're closed on Sunday.  I guess we'll have to have a few alternate plans since I don't know what kind of time limits we're going to have and I won't know until I hear from kylie when they make their reservations.

I hope you are all having (or have had) a good Tuesday.  I'm off to finish the holiday socks and then work on the endless grey sweater. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This is becoming part of our regular morning routine.  Pk scraping the frost off the windows of the car.  In the old days, I used to start the car and let the defroster clean the windows but I feel bad about the extra emissions so now we scrape.  The temps have dropped to freezing for the weekend and the week to come is not predicted to be much warmer.  It's December so it's to be expected but it was balmy and we were wearing light jackets just a few short weeks ago.  My toes are perpetually cold as soon as I get out of bed in the morning even with handknit socks.  It's a thyroid thing.  Cold hands and feet. 

I managed to twist my left ankle but I don't remember doing it (I am really getting old).  It hurts to put weight on it so I found one of my ankle braces from when I dislocated my other ankle and it's helping.  So is sitting with my foot up.  I think I'll wear my sneakers tomorrow with the brace.  Mondays are not sit-at-my-desk days.  I have to be able to walk around so I think I'll need the support.  I'm fairly sure I didn't do more than twist it but I've heard all the stories about people who break bones in their feet and don't know it.  If it's not better in a few days, I'll get it looked at. 

Pk, El and I went out on Saturday to find our Christmas tree.  For the first time, we all got out of the car and went directly to the same tree.  It was tall enough (for Pk and El) and the preferred kind (Douglas fir) for me.  With the help of the nice, young men at the tree place, we tied it onto the top of our car and headed home.  It is now sitting in all it's undecorated glory waiting for Christmas Eve for the family to gather to decorate it.  It seems to be really fresh and it is making the house smell wonderful. 

Today was grocery shopping.  It wasn't too crowded and we got in and out in a fairly quick fashion.  We also got some new lights to put up out front.  Little snowmen.  They'll line up out front with our color changing stars.  I'm waiting for it to get dark so I can go outside and see them.  I love holiday lights.  Any holiday but especially lights at this time of year.  As the nights get longer and longer, the holiday lights make it easier to bear.  Slowly, we're replacing our older lights with LED lights which are supposed to use less energy and burn brighter. 

I have some dough rising in the bread machine to make focaccia (onion bread) for dinner with some potato soup.  I just have to boil some potatoes and chop onions and garlic for the bread and we have a warm, filling meal.  I use Jeff Smith's (the Frugal Gourmet) recipe.  It's easy and delicious and if you slice the bread in half, it makes wonderful sandwiches.  I got some swiss cheese and some ham and now I've made myself hungry and it's 2 hours until dinner time.

No Christmas shopping was done this weekend.  I didn't want to stress my foot and was not in the mood for it yet.  I like to shop for the holiday and I'll get it done but I'm not ready yet to jump into the melee.  I've been spending my time listening to some good books and working slowly but surely on the alpaca sweater.  I'm noticing a small difference in the way the stitches look since I've divided the front and back.  They seem tighter. I think it's because now I'm purling the in between rows and not knitting them as I was doing when I was knitting in the round.  I hope when it's done and blocked that it won't show.  No one else thinks it's noticeable but I can see it (you know how that goes). 

I also read Stephen King's new book Full Dark No Stars.  It's really good.  Nothing supernatural or alien.  Just people in all their dark and wondrous ways.  It is not a nice, friendly book.  The title says it all.  I enjoyed every page.  He has good insights into people and how they react to situations. 

Have a good week. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

I am not a person who says things like "OMG" or "SQUEEEEE".  Not to say that I don't get excited because I do.  I just don't do the squeee. 

Today, I feel a squeeee deep inside just waiting to get out.  When drk said she was coming to my part of the world I had hoped we would be able to meet face to face.  It didn't look good as her schedule was booked pretty tight and getting into New York City during the workweek wasn't looking good.

Then a small window opened up.  Her train goes from Washington, DC to New York through Philadelphia.  This brings her almost to my doorstep.  I asked if she might want to get off the train to have lunch/dinner/whatevermealisclosest.  And she said Yes!  How cool is that?  She and her sister are coming to Philadelphia for lunch.  Next week!

So, next Sunday (the 12th), I'll finally get to meet drk!  There's that squeeee feeling again!

Now, I just have to settle down and get some work done.  I treated myself to a 4 dollar cup of coffee today at Starbucks.  This is something I don't often do because $4 dollars for a cup of coffee!  I usually make coffee at home and bring it with me or if I'm feeling flush, a cup at the local convenience store for 1.50.  Today is good coffee day.  I have a decaf mocha latte (which for all it's 4 dollar price tag is really good) and a cranberry orange muffin.  Breakfast of champions.

Pk and I are planning to go tree shopping tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it.  We also have to travel to Delaware to his lws (local woodcraft store) for some supplies for his Christmas wips.  He (like so many knitters) has grand plans and I don't know where he'll find the time but he says it's totally doable.  It reminds me of all the ravelry threads that describe what people still have to make in time for a holiday that is 3 weeks away.  And the lists include entire sweaters.  More stress than I need.  I have a half a sock to finish and then everything I planned to knit for the holiday is done.  Anything else is gravy. 

Speaking of stress.  (I am so good at the segues!)  I asked my doctor about lowering the bp meds since I go to the gym and am getting more exercise.  He says "when you quit your job, we'll talk".  He thinks the source of my elevated bp is the stress of my job.  He could be right, it can be stressful.  He also says I probably have bursitis in my left knee which has been acting funky for a few months and said something about injections but I'm holding off on that.   First the x-rays to rule out anything else. 

I gotta go before that squeeee gets loose.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the Schuykill Expressway (which is the major route to Emily's house), there are signs warning of falling rocks.  The road is built through hills of rock and falling rocks are a reality in the winter when the ice and rain get into the cracks.  There are also signs warning of deer crossing. 

I'm sure you've all seen some form of these signs, they're fairly standard but PennDot (PA Dept of Transportation) has a sense of humor.  If you embiggen this photo, you can see the red nose on the deer.  The first time I saw this, I laughed out loud.  Then Pk got into the right lane so I could try to get a shot out of a vehicle moving at 55 mph.  

It makes the drive to Em's house a little more fun.

When I went shopping last weekend, I bought bananas from the Produce Junction, something I don't normally do.  They sell fruits and vegetables in bulk and we don't eat the bananas before they go bad.  I don't like wasting them.   Usually, I buy them at the grocery store and buy only a few at a time.  I noticed that there were 8 small nearly brown bananas in the fruit bowl yesterday and tonight before I made dinner, I made 4 loaves of banana bread.  Two are done and two are in the oven.  Kate will pick one up tomorrow and Pk will take one to work.  He likes to share baked goods and his fellow workers seem to enjoy them as well.  This way there will only be two loaves in the house for Pk, El and I to eat.    It smells warm and cinnamon-y in the house.  Mmmmmm.

It rained like the dickens today!  The temps were 20 degrees cooler at the end of the day than they were in the morning.  The wind blew fiercely so the few leaves that started the day on the trees are now on the ground.  It's seasonable for December.  It will be winter here in 3 weeks (and btw, I think starting the seasons on the first of the month is way easier but we tend to base it on earth movement, etc, so our seasons change at odd times) and for the first time, I wore a wool coat to work with a shawl underneath.  It's the shawl that was made and given to me when Em had her surgery.  I wore it on my shoulders at work and received so many compliments!  (photo from obviously much warmer weather!)  I left it on my chair and use it for pulling over my shoulders when my office mate wants to open the window. ( our office is way overheated).

Pk and I are starting our Christmas preparations this weekend.  The house is decorated and the shopping will be started.  We'll hopefully find a tree we like and also find some star cookies (chocolate covered graham cracker stars without which it will not be Christmas according to Pk).    I enjoy Christmas shopping and actually look forward to it.   I like this time of year and the anticipation that comes with it.  It makes me feel like a kid.  Not that it takes much to do that.

Work gets a little hairy this time of year.  The holidays bring out the emotional in people.  I spend a lot of time scrambling to make sure people get what they need and feel like someone cares.  For me, it's the most important part of what I do, making sure people feel respected and cared for.  There's so much stigma attached to mental illness that some of my clients feel like no one understands what they're going through and they depend on me and the agency to provide them with support.  Mostly, we do a good job.  One of my clients said "I like coming here.  When I came in the door, I go aaahhhhh.  I know people will take care of me".  While I appreciated the sentiment (after all this is what we aim for), I thought to myself that I go aaahhhh when I go OUT of the building at the end of the day.

There goes the oven timer.  The banana bread is done.  Time to take it out and let it cool.  Have a good night, all.

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...