Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry And Bright

From Our Family To Yours,
May All Of Your Christmas Dreams Come True!
Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Magic Words

Yesterday afternoon my Gram called. During the course of our conversation, I fessed up that our Christmas gift for her this year was 'rather funny.' Instead of stressing out about a gift for a woman who doesn't really need anything, we had decided to give her a selection of pictures from the girls' Christmas portraits. Yep, this was cheating a bit as we technically didn't order any for her, but gave her the extra prints from our own order, BUT we knew she would like them. Gram was actually quite pleased to hear that she was receiving the pictures, and agreed that there was really nothing she needed.

"But," she said, "There is something I want...."

I pounced on that little phrase with an excitement not to be contained. Gram NEVER asks for ANYTHING! I would move heaven and earth to give her something she actually asked for!

Last weekend my parents decided to take the girls and my Gram out to see the new Disney princess movie. Afterwords they all went over to Grammy-great's house for some popcorn and treats. During that visit, my Gram fell head over heels in love with the Sunflower Tams that my girls were wearing.

And so, she had decided that she wanted a hat of her own. In red, please.

As soon as my husband arrived home after work, I dashed out the door to Hillcreek so that I could pick out red yarn to make my Gram's hat. True reds are apparently not so popular right now, and so unfortunately I didn't have that many yarns from which to pick. No matter, I think she'll like the Debbie Bliss Chunky Cashmerino I found!

The funny thing is that I had to go back this morning to get a size 9 in a 16 inch and in DPN's. I almost never use anything above an 8, and as I have a huge supply of needles it hadn't occurred to me that I wouldn't have what I needed. The ladies in the store just laughed.

I'm getting ready to sit down and cast on, and will have plenty of time this evening to knit the entire hat. It's looking like we won't be able to go see my family tomorrow because of the weather, but if we do, I'll be ready with a new hat for Gram.

PS. In other knitting news - I've decided the monkeys will be a Valentine's Day gift. Promise I'll explain more next week. Also, my husband talked me off the knitting ledge yesterday and I've decided not to immediately get started on cardigans for both girls for this winter. (I know, I know....silly knitter.) I'll order the yarn and start that this summer for next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Two-Day Shawl

This is my one special handmade gift this year - something that truly comes from the heart. Yes, it's probably a bit much to make a shawl for someone with whom my friendship is based upon a business relationship, but.

Meghan has proven to be the perfect partner for me in my quest to build a better, healthier lifestyle - pushing when I need to be pushed, challenging when I'm ready to be challenged, providing sympathy and understanding when I need the extra help and always, always believing in me - even when I'm not so sure myself. There's truly a lot more to a good personal trainer than I ever thought there was...or maybe I'm just lucky to have been paired with Meghan.
Plus, Meghan has gone above and beyond by providing multiple free sessions so that my training would be uninterrupted.
So you see, of course she deserved something nice!
I tried really hard to figure out whether or not Meghan has any favorite colors, but she proved to be a really tough nut to crack. (I never see her in anything but her gym uniform of black.) As the gym staff proved to be no help either, I decided to go with something from my stash which I thought would suit her. Likewise, I selected the pattern because I felt that it's simplicity would go well with the handpainted yarn. It's also a good patten for someone who might not be a 'lace' sort of person.
Project Details:
Ene's Shawl by Nancy Bush in Scarf Style
Yarn: The Unique Sheep Leili, Gems of Turquoise, 4 skeins (with lots of leftover in the last!), purchased when the company was Liisu Yarns.
Needle: US 6, Addi Turbo, 24 inch
Time to knit: Cast on Dec 15th, but the bulk knit on December 19th and 20th.
Gifted too: Meghan, the world's most fabulous personal trainer!
PS. When I dropped it off at the gym this morning, I discovered that Meghan had left a gift for me, too. What does a trainer give her client? A pack of new running socks and a microfiber ear band for running outdoors in the weather! PERFECT!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Monday List....Christmas Edition!

We had some visitors this weekend, and I was utterly charmed by the quiet evidence of their presence.
My apologies for the spotty posting over the last couple of weeks. December is a crazy month for us - as I'm sure it is for all of you as well. I'll share with you this week a few more pictures of all of the things which have been keeping us busy, promise!
In the meantime, here's a super-special Christmas Edition of the Monday List. What, exactly, is different this week? Well, in honor of the holidays I only have a to-do list of the things that must be done. All else will be left to opportunity and chance.
  1. Finish the monkeys! The bodies are done, but need heads, ears, tails, embroidered faces a rather unforeseen circumstance...clothes. (More on that later this week.)
  2. Block the shawl, take pictures of it for posterity's sake and then gift it on Wed. I'll explain the two-day shawl when I post it.
  3. Two sessions with my trainer and three sessions on my own. I'm being good to myself, and am not requiring perfection through the next week. Success in December will be maintenance and a more relaxed less-stressful holiday season than last year.
  4. Christmas cards - which I'm quite looking forward to!
  5. I must go and fetch the children home at some point this week - probably on Tuesday. My parents came to visit on Friday for the Pixie's preschool Christmas program, and they took both girls home with them for a much-anticipated visit. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the few days alone that affords me to work on Christmas projects, but I quite simply must get them back before my parents decide to keep them forever!
  6. Finish up the Christmas shopping...which will only take an hour or so tomorrow morning. Easy-peasy.
  7. Wrap gifts...recruit husband.
  8. Make a decision - by tomorrow AM - as to where exactly we're going to be for Christmas. It's a long, long story, and one that caused a bit of an argument this evening - albeit one that is minor compared to past disagreements in the family. Sigh. It's no wonder that part of me dreads December.
  9. In the event that we end up with Christmas here, the kitchen will need to be cleaned thoroughly, and food will need to be prepared.
  10. Put together the photo pages for my Dad's little scrapbook. It's the only thing he wanted for Christmas.
  11. Try to relax and enjoy the spaces both small and expansive.
And just because it was so pretty, I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of our backyard this morning. The snow melted off today, but was beautiful while it lasted!
Have a great week everyone!

In Case You Were Wondering...

It is possible to knit an entire shawl in just a few days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I fully admit that the Christmas Cookie tradition is just not my thing. This is one holiday event that belongs entirely to my husband. In fact, he uses his paternal grandmother's cookie recipe. You should hear the raptures which he and his father go into when discussing this recipe! They are both rather distressed that I don't like them. (Sorry!)

At any rate, the girls LOVE making cookies with their daddy, and I LOVE the fact that they all have a fun activity to do together.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas Candle

Several years ago, a real gem showed up amongst our Christmas decorations. We're not entirely sure where the gingerbread house Christmas Candle came from, and we've never put it out because it really is rather tacky. I think, perhaps, it was a white elephant gift from a Christmas party.

Anyway, for the last several years when it's turned up as we've done our holiday decorating, we've wrinkled our noses at it and put it right back into the boxes. Now who knows why we didn't just get rid of it. Some things just seem to hang on longer than they should. This year, however, my husband decided that the Christmas Candle needed to have its day in the sun. In fact, he's determined to burn the entire thing before Christmas...just to make sure the thing gets used up for once and for all.
Every evening my sweet husband lights the candle as we sit down to eat, leaving it burning until we all leave the kitchen for the night.
He won't admit to it, but he's enjoying the candle more than is reasonable. He's even got the kids excited about it, and they examine the silly thing every day to see how much progress they've made.
I think he's going to miss his special candle when it's gone!
Seriously, though, he's so cute with the beard that I'd let him do anything right now...even buy a new candle for next year.
I'll let you know if he succeeds in burning the entire thing!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever....Or At Least The Most Amusing

Yesterday our entire family gathered together at church to enjoy the annual Christmas pageant. The Princess has been participating for three years now, and this was the Pixie's very first year. The story centered around the angels' experiences at Christmas as the angel in charge led a group of rag-tag angels to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I ran the camcorder, and so unfortunately this is the only picture I got. The small one in the front with the wavy hair and green tutu is the Pixie....about 10 minutes before she decided that she was NOT wearing a costume for the performance. (Kid throwing fit v. only angel without wings....not even a close call.)

So how did it go?

Well, the best word I can use to describe the performance is "Chaotic." With five (5!) angels under the age of 4 who absolutely refused to conform, and thus spent the entire time running around like crazy.....I'm sure you can imagine what it was like. Add on top of that the fact that Sunday morning was the first time - in two and a half months of rehearsal - that all of the children performed together, and you have one hot mess. The pageant director was stressed out of her mind, we Moms were pretty darn tired, and the kids were so bouncing off the walls because they were thrilled to finally have an audience.

The Princess received many compliments afterwords for her great showmanship. She took her part and her lines very, VERY seriously, and delivered each one to the best of her ability - stepping up to the nearest mike to make SURE she was heard. She absolutely loves the pageant, and I'm so glad that she had such a great experience.

As to my little one, everyone loved watching the Pixie try to boss the other wee angels into submission. In fact, many, many people told me that the joy and enthusiasm of the wee angels was one of the best parts of the play. After all, someone has to be in charge of creating joy and happiness in heaven! I would also like to point out that of all of the baby angels, she was the only one who actually stepped up to dance and sing during many of the numbers.

As to me, well I still can't get the words of my favorite song out of my mind.

"I said, HEY!!!! Don't be Afraid! I've got some Great News!"

Christmas Miracle

Dad got a hearing aid today!

For those of you who don't know our family in person, you will not understand what a very big deal this is. Dad's been losing his hearing for the last 15 years - helped along significantly by his career as a vet. He tried this once before....about 10 years ago....but pronounced the whole thing a failure after about two minutes. (or so it felt to the rest of us...) He's a stubborn man, and has just refused to do anything about it while the rest of us have grown more and more frustrated.

I just had a conversation on the phone with my Dad, who is happily testing his new hearing aid out in as many circumstances as he can. It's the first time in years and years that I've been able to have a phone conversation with the man in a normal voice - without having to yell or repeat myself multiple times.

A Christmas miracle indeed!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

At Long Last

It's really just a glorified dusting...but it counts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Minis....or, My Big, Fat Christmas Annoyance

As you all know, I like to knit mini socks. In general, I like to knit one for each pair of regular socks that I knit. Here, you see my latest batch. Often people ask me what I do with my minis. This whole thing started as a bit of a lark and has, after all, turned into quite the obsession. I LOVE my minis, and so OF COURSE they need to be displayed in a way befitting their specialness.

And so, every year for the holidays I set up my 5-foot artificial pencil tree and completely cover it with all things handmade. (My husband has a matching tree in the basement. It's decorated in Star Wars. To each his own.) My handwork tree has become near and dear to my heart, and I love being able to add to it each year.

The problem is that mini socks tend to attract a lot of unwanted attention from the small creatures in this house that call themselves "children." Said beasts have caused lots of problems in the past by playing with the mini socks...moving them around at will and sometimes making them disappear for a time. This causes the Green Woman and I no end of irritation as we then have to constantly count and recount the minis to make sure they all return safely to the tree.

My solution to the problem was apparently to bundle up the socks after last Christmas and put them away somewhere safe. (As opposed to putting them in my bedroom where the wee beasties can get to them throughout the year.) Quite naturally, this deviation from the norm means that the mini socks are now missing.

Tomorrow....we tear the house apart.


Goodness Bless Ravelry!

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a fellow Ravelry knitter who was interested in a trade. Long story short, I got rid of 1,400 yards of Mountain Colors Weavers Wool in a 'what the heck was I thinking' colorway (purchased at a sale, which most likely had something to do with it) and now have 5 beautiful skeins of Koigu!

Oh the possibilities....

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Monday List

A wee portion of our Christmas decorations, for your enjoyment!

As promised, we're back to regular posting today...which means a Monday List! So let's take a look at what was accomplished last week, shall we?

For starters, my husband and I now have our Christmas plans well in order. I spent an entire afternoon on the computer last week, selecting and ordering much or what we needed - including the girls' Christmas clothes and their main presents. I have one thing left to order, but then we're pretty much done! There are small things left to get for various family members, but that's the fun stuff that I actually enjoy shopping for. As to the Christmas cards, well we're still a bit on the fence.

Let's see....I also bought a sports bra, but then decided not to run the 5K on Saturday because it was just too darn cold for me. (YES, Meghan agreed with that was in the lowish 20's when the race started.) I did a bit of reading about options for my cardigan, but pretty much decided to set it aside until after Christmas. Finally, I did a very, very small amount of sample spinning this weekend to see what the fiber wanted to become. It's a start!

And now, for the list du jour:

  1. Carmen Banana. Drat it, I just didn't get either one done. I'm almost there with the first, and hope to have it done for my guild meeting on Tuesday.
  2. Ditto with the photo shoot for my new shawl. We'll blame in part the grey weather..which makes photos with my camera really tough.
  3. Make an appointment for the girls' Christmas photos.
  4. Start mittens for the Pixie. She needs them!
  5. Finish decorating for Christmas.
  1. Start a spinning project on each spindle. It's a bit nutty, I know, but it could be fun!
  2. I want to bake something. Anything. It's not a good idea, but it's definitely something I want to do.
  3. Get Dad's present underway. He's requested new pages for the photo album I created for him two years ago. (Made him cry!) It'll be an easy-enough gift to create, and shouldn't take a real long time.
  4. Shopping for everyone else...doesn't technically need to get started this week, but it would be nice to finish early.
  1. acupuncture appointment would be nice.
  2. So would a massage.
  3. And a nice, long afternoon to myself in a coffee shop.
Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Contemplations

My goodness, I took a deep breath and an entire week slipped by!

I don't actually have a wonderfully creative post to share with you today, so instead I thought I would share a few things that are on my mind. After all, I do have some wonderful relatives who tend to get a little bit worried when they don't see regular posts!

  • I will be really, really happy when the Christmas pageant is over. It will - quite naturally - be a wonderful event, but I am very, very tired of the rehearsal sessions. It's been over two months of near non-stop chaos, and it's been a huge time commitment. This family needs a break! (And the pageant director needs a big, fat gold star for her patience, creativity and energy.)

  • To be quite honest, I'm feeling a bit grinchy this year. I'm just not ready for the holidays, and I can't quite get excited about them.

  • The reasons behind that last point are probably tied to a bit of a medical issue I'm having. Long story short, I discovered this summer that I have a Vitamin D deficiency, and I'm having trouble getting my levels up. The most recent high-dosage pills made me sick for two weeks, and so if they didn't manage to boost my levels I'm not sure what we're going to do. The more research I do, the more I believe that this could possibly be part of what's been wrong with me for the last 20 years. I'm not one to blame any one specific thing...that's too simplistic of an idea when our bodies are so very complex and individualistic....but wow, the evidence is pretty strong.

  • Case in point, I felt my annual case of S.A.D. kick in this last week. I'm unreasonably tired and depressed, and feel in desperate need of some sunshine to feed on. And what does sunshine give us? That's right! Vitamin D.

  • And yes, for years and years I've felt that I 'fed' on sunshine. It was a need that I identified at the end of my freshman year in college - after living for a year with absolutely no natural light in my room. Funny, I'm not a huge fan of summer...but I know that I need the sun.

  • While thinking about all of this, I'm extremely grateful that this year I am in considerably better shape than I've ever been because I have both the support system and the healthy lifestyle in place to alleviate much of the problem.

  • The other problem with my holiday cheer is that last year was a bit of a disaster for me. I gained 15 lbs. over the holidays - part of what pushed me into finally finding the help I needed - and have to admit that I'm very worried going into this holiday season that the same thing will happen despite my best efforts. I love Christmas, but if I'm honest it's not been a happy time of year for me since childhood. (Christmas of '91 is when the trouble started.) I need to make a plan so that this year is different.

  • Told you I was grinchy.

  • On to other, happier topics.

  • I have a really squishy skein of hanspun shetland/alpaca yarn on my desk. I thought it was overspun when I made it, and have admittedly been abusing it. However, I keep touching it and it keeps calling my name. Too bad I only have one skein of it. Is it bad to keep a skein of yarn just so that you can squish it once in a while?

  • Speaking of handspun, I'm in a bit of a quandary. I need to be knitting, but all I want to do is practice with my spindles. That's right....spindles. I have a wonderful wheel, but all I want to use are my spindles. I'm reading a couple of spindle books right now, and I also keep looking at spindles online. I don't want any more, but they sure are fun to look at! Too say that I'm obsessed might be a tad of an understatement. I always was more of a spinner than a knitter (even if my project list doesn't reflect that) and I feel like this is the next great adventure in spinning.

  • I do want more fiber. Part of my spinning issue is that I'm totally bored with the colors I have right now, and want something completely different to work with. I feel my paypal account calling. I knew I was saving that money for a rainy day!

  • In the last week, my littlest daughter lost her handknit mittens and my eldest lost her hat. Both are completely distraught. Guess what I'm going to be doing as soon as I finish up the monkeys!

  • I spent all day yesterday in my pajamas. Everyone should do that once in a while. I also slept in late, took a nap and went to bed early. Can't say enough good things about this plan.

  • I also read another de Lint novel this week...could be part of why I didn't post! Drat the man! Just kidding. I learn something new about myself every time I read those books. AND, this particular book was (I believe) my introduction to the Crow Girls, who are favorite characters of mine.

  • I got to spend some time with my BKB this week. I've really missed her! We don't get to see each other so much anymore because of my gym commitments and our children's routines. It totally stinks.

  • My husband loves my friends. The most recent reason? When I asked my BKB if she could potentially babysit for my husband's employee appreciation party at the end of January, her response was, "Yes, but only if you let me go shopping with you to find a hot new dress."

  • Peppermint mochas - much to my trainer's dismay - are about the world's most perfect drink.

  • We have a local radio station that's been playing Christmas music 24/7 since shortly after Halloween. Too bad they only know about 15 songs - including Wham's "Last Christmas" the perennially distasteful "Santa Baby" and "Feliz Navidad" which my husband transformed into "Really Stinky Dogs" for the kids. Sigh.

  • The kids are happy and occupied, so I'm going to go put up Grampa's nativity set!

We'll be back to regular posting tomorrow!