Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Indelible Images from the Holidays:

Last night of Hanukah. Latkes (from scratch!) and Chinese food (not from scratch):

Orca Mittens finished! (on trip to Matthew's parents down the shore on Christmas morning. Nothing like cutting it alittleclose!):

Pink Purse needlefelted and done (Christmas Eve, thank you very much):

Gus and Grandpop Dobb playing Battleship on Christmas Day:

Gus won, and on the ride home said, "I can't believe I beat a Navy guy in Battleship!"

Two days after the Expanding Hand got thrown out, another inscrutable object in a bowl of water appeared on my kitchen table:

It's an "alligator egg"; not a real one (I hope).

Also this today:

Gus and next-door neighbor James took a reaallly long time checking very carefully through these Bertie Botts Beans (notice bean sorting and also reference chart on back of the box) with a great deal of debate, but Gus ate an Earwax one by accident anyway.

I hope everyone had a crazy beautiful holiday like me. I love the holidays, but on December 26 I revert to Scrooge and want to run around and put everything down the basement again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

For my family, with love from me this Christmas:

The Bells of Norwich

Loud are the bells of Norwich
And the people come and go
Here by the tower of Julian
I tell them what I know
Ring out, bells of Norwich and let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know.

Love, like the yellow daffodil
Is coming through the snow.
Love, like the yellow daffodil
Is lord of all I know

Ring for the yellow daffodil
The flower in the snow
Ring for the yellow daffodil
And tell them what I know

All shall be well, I'm telling you
Let the winter come and go
All shall be well again, I know

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Stuff

Sing along with me! (to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"):


It's actually quite stable, but I don't believe I've ever had a tree that, ah, leaned as much as this one. I also told Laura the other day that it was the "sheddiest" tree we've ever had, which gave her pause for a moment till she realized what I had actually said. Usually our friends at the Wyndmoor Fire Company provide us with fresh, un-sheddy trees, but this one has been hurling its needles at everything in the house since we brought it home.

Gus and I ran mad errands yesterday, and because he was so companionable I succumbed to his wheedling and whining and took him to McDonald's for lunch. I ordered two Happy Meals (btw, Happy Meals are the best-kept McD's secret for adults - you can get a tiny hamburger, and delicious apples and milk AND a toy! It's cheap and not half bad); anyway, if the server is unsure who the Meal is for, he or she will ask, "Is it for a boy or a girl?" since they have different toys for different genders [don't get me started on that....]

So we get our Happy Meals and sit down, and I realize that, without asking, they gave Gus a Happy Meal with a Yu-Gi-Oh boy toy and me a Perky Pet Store girl toy. For some reason, that just cracked me up!! I LOVE that the server gave me the girl Happy Meal toy!! I chuckled about it on and off for the rest of the afternoon.

Laura and I did our annual Christmas Lights Drinking and Driving Tour last night. First we must stop at a Starbucks, so that I may purchase the extra-large gallon size Eggnog Latte (my secret shame) (or I guess now my not-so-secret shame). Thank God they only have them at the holidays or I'd weigh 500 lbs. Then we drive around and look at all the Christmas lights. We have favorites, like this house:

And this one:

Yep, those people are commited. Or need to be.

Then we go to dinner at The Drake and then off we go to tour more neighborhoods. It is super-festive fun, involving many gleefully shouted sentences like "There's the waving Santa again!!" and "This is a really small cul-de-sac!" and "Is it okay to put a creche on a picnic table?!" and "Here's that really scary street - let's go down it again!!"

Ah, yes, good times.....good times.....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bye, Allen......

I am truly sorry to see how this played out - I really wanted him to finish his career here. In all my years of following Philadelphia sports, I've never come across a player so enigmatic. I could never really settle on whether he was a good guy or a bad guy; I guess he was both and neither, just a regular complicated human being. His relationship with Larry Brown was one for the ages and probably took 10 years off Larry Brown's life. But I'll never forget when he won the MVP of the 2001 All-Star Game and when he got his trophy he kept yelling, "Where's Coach? Where's Coach?" until Brown appeared and Allen gave him a big long bear-hug. It was truly moving.

But then there was, "Practice! C'mon people, we're talkin' 'bout PRACTICE!" [all Sixers fans can recite this from memory] But there was also the 2004 Olympics, when most NBA players refused to participate because of security concerns; Allen never wavered from his commitment to the team, saying he was honored to be chosen and to play for his country.

Did he ever play at 100% healthy? One thing you could never question was his dedication or his heart; he played more beat-up than anyone I've ever seen. In the course of treating one of AI's dozens of injuries, the team physician mentioned that he had given Allen a pain tolerance test, and he had scored off the charts. My sisters and I discussed this at great length.

A couple of years later, I dislocated my toe [yes, folks, I'm going to tell the dislocated-toe story], and when it came time to set my toe, the doctor said he could give me a shot of novocaine, or I could go without, which would be quicker but much more painful. Laura (who was at the ER with me) and I discussed this, and I'm pretty sure AI's name came up, and I decided to go without the shot. It only took the doctor about 5 seconds to reset my toe (and yowee, it hurt like a m**@#$%^&*@#r), but I rolled like Allen, and ended up with a moment that I have and will brag about forever and ever.

"Hey, AI, remember when they set my toe without novocaine???"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I believe that I mentioned the other day that Victorian Lace Today is the greatest book ever written in the history of mankind. I decided to take the plunge and start a project. I chose the Cap Shawl, full of spiral-y goodness and plain wrong-side rows-y goodness (laceknitters out there know how good that is!) I had some beautiful dove-grey yarn, which would have been nice, but instead I went for the insanity of this sunshine-y yellow yarn from handpaintedyarn.com (my favorite source for dementedly saturated colors and soft merino laceweight yarn for like a penny):

The first 84 rows are an easy and easily-memorized pattern and then it picks up another pattern in addition to the swirly stuff.

Better pictures once it's done and blocked. This is the first major lace project I've done in about six months, and it's good to be back. Did I mention that I adore this book?

Here are some catnip mice for the Christmas kitties:

Cast on 5 sts, working in stockinette increase one stitch each end of every knit row until you have 23 sts, bind off. Fold in half, sew up (leaving some tail for the kits to grab on to), leave a space for catnip, stuff, and throw 'em to the cats. I like Lamb's Pride Worsted knit at a fairly tight gauge. Great for using up leftover yarn (of which I have just a bit) and quick - you can make these in 10 minutes, start to finish, and your cats will go wild. I used to make these with a fancy cable down the center, but apparently that was while I was addicted to crack.

Here is Gus's Colour Me Mine menorah in action! (The sign was his idea, though I told him people could figure out what day it was by how many candles were lit....no matter, he's all about signs)

I apologize to those many readers out there who were breathlessly awaiting pictures (or "Laura"), but I realized the other stuff is gifts and cannot be revealed in this space. I'll take pictures now and show them after the holidays.

The Eagles won on Sunday and can win the division if they win their last two games. How did that happen?

Matthew threw the Expanding Hand out on Saturday. I had actually forgotten about it, though it's been sitting on the kitchen table for two months. He said it was getting moldy. Ew. At least I didn't have to touch it again.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Okay, so I got it into my head that I wanted to give "cookie mix in a jar" (or CMIAJ) to some friends who are fellow moms from Gus's school, many of whom dread the upcoming winter break and its accompanying hours of child amusement. (I personally adore break, because we get to sleep late, and I don't have to make a ding-dang sandwich every day.) I thought CMIAJ would be a cute idea, because it wouldn't be a big deal and because it would give the moms an activity to do with the kids over break, and it would be easy to do.

I had never made them before, but there are billions of recipes all over the 'net for them, so how difficult could they be, eh? If you're not familiar with them, you find pretty glass jars and fill them with the components to make cookies and decorate them sweetly and then give them with the recipe attached, and they are so adorable you can't stand it, like so:

Wellllll.....first I had to find jars. Where exactly do all these CMIAJ makers find those pretty jars? I couldn't find any, so I went to the market and bought six jars of the cheapest spaghetti sauce. Which led to this:

I poured the sauce into freezer bags (Matthew still has not mentioned the sudden proliferation of bags of frozen spaghetti sauce in the freezer... Sometimes I think he sees evidence of my temporary insanity and just averts his eyes and backs away.)

So I washed them out and assembled the ingredients and printed out the recipe and filled one of them with brown sugar and white sugar. I looked at the recipe, which said to "mix the dry ingredients and set aside and then in a separate bowl cream the sugars with the butter and eggs." And the (admittedly amateur) baker in me thought, "How can you separate out the dry ingredients from the sugars when they're all in the same freakin' jar together??" I guess people just dump all the ingredients out in a bowl and mix the whole ding-dang thing together, but I just couldn't do it. It is Bad Baking Policy. So I decided to do CMIAB-ag. I put all the dry ingredients in one baggie and all the sugars in another baggie, and put them in a nice brown bag (I LURVE brown bags!!!!), and tied the recipe to the handle. VOILA!!

I love how they turned out - look!

So that was great and everything, but I'm still left pondering how all the millions and millions of CMIAJ makers resolved the sugars/dry ingredients quandary. Has anyone out there ever given or received such an item, and if so, how did you handle it??

On a sort of completely different matter, Gus and I picked up our stuff at Colour Me Mine. Tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it, I will share pictures. I know you all are breathlessly awaiting them.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Back in business!

Yes, the old arm is up and running again, and so I have been (gently) storming back into my knitting.

Here is Gus's teacher gift:

Nice picture, eh? Why don't I pick something blacker to photograph? It is a high neckwarmer (in that it is tall, not that it only warms your "high" neck....oh forget it, you know what I mean) and fingerless gloves, in mock cable rib, out of Baby Alpaca Grande, my favorite yarn to make gifts out of.

[Editor's note: I must be out of practice of writing, because everything is coming out incredibly weirdly awkward-sounding. Even my editor's note! Please forgive and indulge me as I am now so old I seem to have lost the ability to write clearly and cogently.]

And then there's this:

which will be the Cabled Pullover, in dark red LaGran Mohair, for the Tangled Web's next knit-along. I was going to knit the cardigan option, but I realized that though I say I love cardigans, I wear pullovers more. 'Nuff said. I had to go down to #6s to get gauge while the pattern recommends #9s (and even then it was kind of dicey), so who knows how it will turn out? Either monstrously huge or just right. It's an adventure!!

Last night, for my birthday, we went to Jonathan's at the Jenkintown train station for dinner (if you go to "gallery" at their website, you can see the excellent bar). We sat at a booth in the bar, so Gus (and we) could watch all the trains coming through. Excellent! The food was delicious. I had crabcakes, Matthew had salmon, and my mini-gourmand had calamari and macaroni and cheese, a particularly felicitous combination.

I received this for my birthday (from me, ordered gift-wrapped a month ago and sitting in my closet since). I glanced through it yesterday. It may be the most mighty book ever written. Once I plunge into it, I may not emerge for a year or so. I want to make every single project in it. Oy.

Tomorrow Gus and I can go pick up our stuff from Colour Me Mine!!!! I can't wait!!!! Can you?? Cause I'm gonna post pictures of all of our stuff!! You can't stop me!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's that time of year again! Yep, it's my birthday!! Hurrah! Hazooo!

(Back to regular blog-type stuff tomorrow! Hazoo!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Are you knitters out there hankering for some knitting news? I know I am! My arm is recovering slowly but surely. I did knit a little this week and actually finished a gorgeous something, but I can't show it because it is for Someone Who Reads The Blog. But I think this means I will be able to knit Gus's teacher her Christmas present, which has been wildly scaled down in ambition and scope as the tendinitis flared up and the weeks ticked by. No matter - I still have something nice in mind. More info to follow.

Last night, Gus and I went to Colour Me Mine in Chestnut Hill for the first time. It's one of those clay studios with pre-made items that you paint. May I just tell you that this was THE MOST FUN THING TO DO IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD?! Yes, you read right - it was the most fun thing to do in the whole wide world!! I painted some mugs for Some People on the gift list, and Gus painted a menorah. We're not Jewish, but Gus loves Hanukhah [sp?]. I bought a menorah last year, but it was a little skimpy and rickety and towards the end of Hanukah [sp?], we were in danger of burning the house down.

Gus wanted to get a new menorah, and my friend Carole suggested CMM. O blessed Carole - how Gus and I adore you at this moment!!! When we left, Gus said, "Can we come back tomorrow??" and I wanted to shout, "OH YES YES YES!!!" but maternal prudence took over and I said, "No, sweetie [long pensive pause].....but [light bulb goes off in head!] hey we have to come back next week to pick up our stuff, so we can paint some more things next week!!"

Do you see what is going to happen? We ran into a friend of ours and she said, "See all these things here?" (sweeping gesture at every little doodad in the store) "We have one of every single one of them at home." Yeah, I can see that's where we're heading.

Cultural Note: I recently borrowed from the library "Mr Darcy Takes A Wife" by Linda Berdoll. Can you imagine how wildly polarizing this book must be for Jane Austen fans? I fancy myself a big Jane Austen fan, and I must say I found the book extremely entertaining. Except for one thing: The thing that I loathe in the English language more than anything else is when people use "gift" as a verb. What gives with that? Or, excuse me, what gifts with that? You don't save any letters by using "gift" and it means exactly the same thing. Every time I hear someone use it, it makes me want to scream like a banshee. (I should, then maybe people would stop using it around me.) Anyway, Ms. Berdoll has poor Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy throwing "gift" around like a verb all over the place, which disturbed my wa, to say the least. It was entertaining, however, and in the spirit, if not the skill of Jane Austen.

Discuss amongst yourselves....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Okay, so much for the charities and holiday spirit! Look what I got as an early birthday/Christmas present!

Oh yeah, baby! Carol along with me - "Freddy Garcia's comin' to town!!" The Phillies sent the White Sox Gio Gonzalez (former ChiSox highly-touted pitching prospect) and GAVIN FLOYD. Yes, poor Gavin "Deer In The Headlights" Floyd. What gives? Is the world gone MAD?

And as if that weren't enough, look who is gone gone GONE!

Lieberthal signed with the Dodgers. I know that one shouldn't base one's perceptions of players by how they act at Photo Day, but Lieberthal solidified his already-strong and longstanding position in the MM Doghouse this year by loftily walking by the fans without making eye contact or having any interaction at all. He did this both years we went. I know - I was watching him. Now that he's with the Dodgers he doesn't have to be in the Doghouse any more, giving Pujols and Rolen and Burrell more elbow room.

When Randy Wolf signed with the Dodgers recently he called the guy who was the founder of the Wolf Pack (the first of those goofily-named player fan groups - do other teams have them or is it just the Phillies?), and told him how much he appreciated all he did and how he would miss the support and to call him if the Pack came to LA and he would get them tickets. Now that's how to treat your fans!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Today's charities are for the knitters and crocheters out there.

About ten years ago, I was working as a roofer at a church in Norristown. It was late December, and it was COLD. I paused in whatever I was doing on the roof and looked down at the people who were standing in line for the church's soup kitchen. Hardly anyone had gloves or mittens on. I watched them for a long time [much to the foreman's chagrin - I had a habit of drifting off into thought when I should have been hammering or something], I thought, "I should knit mittens for those people!!" That scene and those people's faces came back to me many times while I worked on that job. But I never did anything about it.

The moral to that story is this: There are a LOT of people who need warm clothing out there. And other people (unlike me) have gotten their act together to get that warm clothing to those who need it.

The first is for our backyard. Warm Up America! (WUA!) is an organization made up of volunteers who create handmade afghan blankets, clothing and accessories to help those in need. These items provide warmth and comfort to people who have lost their homes, fled abusive relationships, or are being cared for in hospices, shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Here is the website, with information on how to get involved and the specifications of knitted items they need.

The second is flung far afield. I started reading Ryan's Mossy Cottage blog a couple of years ago. Together with her Cuzzin Tom, who is a Buddhist monk, they started the Dulaan Project to provide warm clothes for the residents (mostly orphaned children) of Mongolia where Cuzzin Tom works periodically. The need was severe, the Project was a success, and the results are heartwarming.

Here is the information page about the Project.

Here are free patterns for knitted items they need.

Final thought for the day: Today I got spam emails from Fripperies T. Topsoil and Bulging R. Micmac. [hee hee hee hee]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Okay, so I can't knit, so there's no knitting news, and it's December, so there's not a lot of Phillies news (Adam Eaton, anyone?), and with this stupid tendinitis I shouldn't even be typing that much, so here's what I'm going to do. For a few days, in the spirit of the holidays and giving and all that sort of good stuff, I will highlight a few charities close to my heart.

Believe me, some years I'm in a giving mood and some years I'm not. Maybe this year you are or maybe this year you're not - I've been there! But if you are in a giving mood, and you need a little inspiration about where to give, for what it's worth take a gander.

Parkinson's Disease has had a direct effect on my family's life, so what Michael J. Fox has done with his charitable foundation is mind-blowingly wonderful. He has no political affiliations, and since 2000 he has raised $80 million for Parkinson's research. My heart goes out to him and his family; I hope a cure or some sort of meaningful amelioration for the disease is found in his lifetime.

Here's his website:

Donate by Telephone

Donate by Mail:
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
Grand Central Station
P.O. Box 4777
New York, NY 10163

Now a final note for today: Some adult in this family who is not me bought Chocolate Chip Pop Tarts for Gus at the market the other day.

This morning, being too lazy to prepare anything healthier, I decided to try said Pop Tarts. When Gus saw what was on my plate he said, "Your tastebuds are about to go on a journey of yumminess!"

Wa ha ha!