Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcoming in 2011

“New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights” ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

I think we all hope that whatever bad there was in the year going out will end and that better things will happen in the coming year.  For some reason I have approached this years end with a few other illusions...

We spent the day with the family and then the man and I went shopping and out to dinner as it is our anniversary.  We stopped at a shop which sold items on consignment to look at a crock we had seen there.  Sadly it had a crack in the bottom which made it useless to me.  But while walking thru I found this...

My uncle did beautiful wood work but only when he felt in the mood to work on it.  It was a hobby and he did not like it becoming a job.  I did not understand that until recently.  Anyhow, many years ago I had driven him to the VA hospital.  The younger two children were babies at the time and it was a heck of a day with no where to sit, cold outside, and an all day affair.  He wanted to pay me and I would not accept the money but told him I would like a coffee grinder.  He said if I bought the parts he would work around them.  I bought the parts and he kept telling me he was going to get to it but sadly he never did.  This one is unfinished so it gives me the illusion that he did work on it.  I have butcher block wax which I am going to finish it with.  I threw a couple of beans in and it works great.  So I don't have one made by my uncle but I have a substitute which makes me think of him.

We stopped at several other places and then came Dick's Sporting Goods.  Fishing poles, ice augers, hunters camo and... socks with balls of yarn on them! 

The man argued they were soccer balls, which the one on the left  is but the others look like yarn balls.  I brought them home and without coaxing I asked the kids and they said it looks like balls of yarn!  I will wear them proudly as yarn socks and to heck with anyone who disagrees. 

And to further add to the illusion....I bought a lottery ticket for the Mega-Million! Well actually it didn't cost me anything since I had winning tickets which were given to me for Christmas.  I have the illusion of winning and getting the barn I want, new truck for the man....  Oh come on it is New Years eve, one can dream anything is possible in the new year! 

I hope all your dreams for the new year come true.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shhhhh It's a Secret

“Secrets are made to be found out with time.” ~ Charles Sanford

I have had a secret for a couple of weeks.  I was going to keep it a secret, but at the meeting I attended Monday evening, they said we would have more success if we made ourselves accountable for our actions.  So my little secret is that I have been attending Weight Watchers.  Yeah I know, not life shattering but it hopefully will be life changing. 

I started to gain weight eleven years ago when I quit smoking.  At first I was very aware of the fact that I might gain and watched for it.  But slowly I let that slip away when I was finally able to quit working and become a full time mom/housewife again.  Then it just got worse taking care of my mom, eating hospital vending food or McDonald's while she was getting chemo or we were going to/from appointments.  Then I would come home and make comfort food because I needed the comfort.

I would also gain more during all the cold months and lose some during the warmer months.  Some being the key word there.  It doesn't help that we have more cold months than warm either.   When winter arrives I tend to hibernate like the bear, unfortunately I also tend to pack in the extra calories to get me through the cold.

After finding out I was going to be a grandmother I decided I need to literally get off my ass.   I still have issues with my left side since I had the mini stroke so I needed to stop working around them and exercise to change it.  I want to be able to carry my grandchild all over but more importantly I want to be part of my grandchild's life.   My  family history has cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes.  Right now I don't have any problems, except migraines which triggered the mini stroke,  but I need to keep it that way.  I was going to wait until the new year but then asked myself why I was putting it off.  If I fully intended to commit why delay so I attended my first meeting on December 6. 

I ate my way through a friends dinner, a company dinner that included an all you can eat seafood buffet, (NOTE: I LOVE SEAFOOD)  and another friends annual Christmas party.  Then I baked and baked and baked some more.  Christmas arrived and I pushed out a buffet dinner on Christmas day and a big duck and ham dinner the following day.

On top of that, out of the last 29 days only 3 were average temperature, 23 were below average.  Which in a nutshell means that all I have wanted to do is hibernate even more and eat stick to your rib foods.

Each week I walk in to those meetings and cringe while they read the scale.  Thankfully I can announce that through it all I have lost over 6 pounds and #2 daughter who joins me has lost 10. 

Now that the holidays are behind us I won't have the temptations and hopefully the weight loss will continue.  The plan is easy and allows a lot of leeway.  So I have approximately 18 weeks to go before my grandchild enters this world and my goal is to be 18 - 20 pounds lighter by that time.  Very do-able at 1 pound a week, two pounds would be wonderful but I also want to bet on a realistic goal.

When I left PA in 1982 I was 124 pounds, when I returned after two kids and a divorce I wore a size 3.  Life continued for 17 years and  my current weight we will keep a secret but suffice it to say I will never go down to either of those sizes again but would be perfectly content with 150.  That is my long term goal.  I will leave the cleaning off t of he grandkid's plates to the parents and my contribution will be to  chase him/her around!  Hopefully this works and I will be able to chase and not roll after him/her.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Singing my song

Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them? ~ Rose Kennedy

Two definitions of storm atmospheric disturbance manifested in strong winds accompanied by rain, snow, or other precipitation  OR a strong outburst, as of emotion or excitement.  We have had both of these....a snow storm which dropped only 4 inches by us but covered #1's area with 12 inches and the storm of Christmas excitement.

So today I delight in the calm that comes after the storm.  The man is at work, the older kids have gone home and the younger are visiting friends or getting good use out of their presents. 

I read a blog where she perfectly describes it as a day of self indulgence because we don't have to knit, cook, or bake a thing.  It is also a planning day, what are we going to do with all the extra time we have on our hands?  I was looking at patterns since I now have time to work on projects for my grandchild.  May is coming quick.  I am working on a pair of socks

until I pick up yarn tomorrow for the baby project. Grandma here ain't gettin' any younger and I need to stay warm!

I am also trying to find out how to use new gifts...Canon's PowerShot SX130is!  Love it!  Smaller than my other but more megapixels.  I missed out on a class they were offering to get the full potential from your camera so I have to see what is available in the Spring.  I took lots of test shots but people had their hands in front of their face or moved when I was trying to take the shot.  Birds are much easier to photograph

or inanimate objects.  My daughter who doesn't crochet made me this doily. 

The very first project I ever did was a red doily for my mother.  My neighbor LouLou, who was like my grandma, helped me with the pattern.  She made me rip, redo, rip and redo until I got it right.  I never did do another project until years later when I was married.  #1 did a great job with no help and included a poem with it.  I am going toblock it and frame them as soon as I can find the frame I want. 

Later in the week there will be plenty of time to clean, put away the gifts, clean out the fridge and other mudane jobs but for now I am going to bask in the aftermath of the a wonderful Christmas.  Tomorrow their are appointments but for now....


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends. ~Margaret Thatcher

#1 and I were talking about traditions recently. In her married life and with a baby on the way, they are forming their own traditions. They are combining some traditions from both of their childhoods and forming new ones along the way.

Last year when we were still scarred from losing my mom and uncle, everything HAD to be done the way Mom did it. I was never the baker and here I was trying to make all her foods without her recipes. I was making my own gift tags, making my own cards, making a lot of the gifts and making my own wreathes. Everyone was trying to deal with their own grief and different traditions held different meanings for everyone. I tried anticipating it all and drove myself ( and possibly others) nuts while trying to do so. I came to realize traditions are great but they are nothing without the family. And with that fear of trying to perfectly replicate the Christmas’ past removed,  I was free. The traditions are still there but I can do things my way and if need be cheat along the way.

So this year went easier…I bought wreathes for home and the cemeteries, I had gift tags left over from last year, this year’s cards were easily printed out, and I had a year of baking mistakes under my belt. If all the cookies burnt then there was always the bakery. I made some gifts.  If I had something in mind but the pattern was driving me crazy, I sat it aside and didn’t force myself to work on it. If the project gets done it can be put away for another time or even another person.

So, the decorations are all up. I have all the shopping done. A few gifts are still in shipping but will arrive before Christmas but if they don’t they are not any of the important ones. I have everything else wrapped. The breads are made. Almost all the cookies are made. The meats have been taken out.

And now instead of spinning around like a mad woman, today I am watching Christmas movies and finishing off a pair of fingerless mitts for a friend. If time allows I would like to make her a pair of slipper socks, if they don’t get done on time, her birthday is in February!

The kids came home early from school and the man has tomorrow off so instead of trying to do it all I can pawn off various jobs on them! 

So the traditions are still there but not at the expense of family or my sanity.  Everything is right on track but if it goes a stray it could become a new tradition.  And to make sure I don't forget my lessons and worry to much about the traditions and not enough about the family is the newly knit Shelf Elf.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with friends and family.  Keep the traditions close but the friends and family closer.

Christmas is not in tinsel and lights and outward show.

The secret lies in an inner glow.
It's lighting a fire inside the heart.
Good will and joy a vital part.
It's higher thought and a greater plan.
It's glorious dream in the soul of man.
~ Wilfred A. Peterson

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Lovin' from the Oven"

“The smell of good bread baking,
like the sound of lightly flowing water,
is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight”
– M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

The warm temperatures of this past weekend did not stick around for long.  The seeping ground water is making ice sculptures and sheets are floating down the river.  But still no snow to speak of.

So with Christmas fast approaching and the daily highs barely hitting  20 degrees, I decided to warm up the house with some baking.

Yesterday it was 2 loaves of Orange Cranberry bread, 2 loaves of Holiday bread, 1 loaf of Banana bread, 2 loaves of Zucchini bread, and 3 loaves of Pumpkin bread. 

Today, I hope to get the Date Nut bread and some chocolate chip cookies done.  The Caramel Nut are already mixed and frozen, they just need to be sliced and baked.  This is a job #2 daughter wants for this weekend.  She also wants to bake Peanut Butter, Choodles, Sugar cookies and Almond Crescent's.

Tomorrow I have to make three Cheesecakes for a Christmas party.  Then I will be done baking for a while except for regular bread. 

Tomorrow night we will finish our Christmas shopping.  Then it is just the count down....8 days!!!!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Letters are expectation packaged in an envelope. ~ Shana Alexander
Two envelopes recently brought the past from both sides of my family to the forefront.

The first...I was paging through one of my mother's knitting books and found an envelope, yellowed with age it had "get copies made" in her writing.  I opened it up to find old negatives.  I took them to be developed curious as to what would be on them.  Modern technology didn't know what to make of old negatives so it took two weeks to get them back!  They were photo's I had never seen before.  One photo was of my maternal  grandfather with three of my cousins and an unknown woman.  The second, taken the same day, is my grandfather with one of my cousins.  The third was my grandmother and grandfather holding my cousin obviously at a birthday party.  The fourth photo is of my mother and father cutting hay with a scythe.  As soon as I saw it I remembered her telling me about haying that way and that it wasn't hard because once you started you would get into a rhythm.  So I made copies to put into the Christmas cards to the cousins.

The second envelope was put into my hand at the annual VFW bingo.  The woman (K) who gave it to me had once dated my older brother.  They broke up and she married someone else.  I babysat all three of her children.  Her son is my nephews godfather.  So suffice it to say that the families have been friends for many years.  She said "I just recently found this and while it is too late for #1 daughter to use it at her wedding, I thought you could put it away for #2.  Your (paternal) grandmother gave me this for my high school graduation".

I opened the envelope to find a linen hankie with tatting around the edges. 
My grandmother use to tat, crochet, quilt and make rugs but K was not sure if my grandmother had done the work on this or not. 

 Either way it was wonderful of her to have kept it these many years (40+) and to give it to #2.  

When my grandmother gave this to K she was a widow living in a house without indoor plumbing, heating/cooking with a coal stove, and surviving on a railroad pension.   I am not even sure if she had electric then although I know she did in 1970.  My point being that even though she had little she found a way to commemorate a graduation day and the thought was appreciated.  I know that kids now a days would laugh at receiving something similar for a graduation present and would toss it out.   I think later they would regret the loss of what could have been a family heirloom.  #2 just turned 16 so she will not be using this at her wedding anytime soon but this will go into her hope chest, right beside the afghan made by her grandmother for her first child.  I love these links to the past.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hallmark Moment

"You didn't have to do what you did.  That's what made it so special"  Hallmark card from Hallmark commercial
I recently was the recipient of a couple of gifts.  While totally unexpected they are so appreciated and each day has been brightened by them....literally and figuratively

A "manned" a booth for my cousin (in law) for a couple of hours.  Right next store was a crafter that could get me in a lot of trouble.  I ogled this one product and I mentally argued with myself  if I should buy it.   I walked out without the product because Christmas is coming and it was a "want" on my part and not a "need".  Thanksgiving Eve my cousin (in law) dropped off the object of my ogling. 

*Thank You Again*

I immediately put it centerstage on the table and lit it.  Oh it is beautiful!  It decorated our Thanksgiving table and was oohed and aahed over by company.  It now sits on the buffet so the children don't play with the might think they were old enough to listen but nope.  I have lost many a candle to their antics.

When #1's mother-in-law came on Thursday she came bearing gifts.  When she asked if she could bring something I suggested sparkling grape juice as the kids like to think they are drinking wine.  She had the juice but also brough champagne which my sister-in-law and I quickly consumed, some yummy coffees, some gardener's hand therapy soap and lotion,

 and a bethlehem star made of beveled glass and copper trim.

 It was like Christmas a month early!  *Thank You Again*

So this morning I didn't have any kids home, I didn't have to leave the house for any reason so I sat by the fire with my softening hands wrapped around a cup of Misletoe coffee, the smell of pumpkin spice from the candle perfuming the air and prisms of light bouncing off all the walls from the sun shining through the star.  It was a perfect Hallmark moment where you realize you truly are blessed, given to me from two women who didn't have to do what they did and that's what made it so special.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Unexpected

The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations. ~Eli Khamarov, Surviving on Planet Reebok

Yesterday was a gloomy day.  It slowly warmed up but was rainy with 2-3 inches expected.  I had to go to town and I stopped in the thrift store for shits and giggles. 

I walk in and was greeted by...
it reads "The Joys of Winter Never Melt Away".  He is happily ensconced on the oak bench as you enter my house.  Cooper (the coon dog) stares at him and whines because he thinks it is one of his play toys.  He is not going to get him.

Next I spied this little towel

which goes with my curtains so I HAD to buy it.

I maneuvered through some shelving units and came to the side wall full of kitchen paraphernalia, pots, pans, dishes, coffee pots, bread machines etc.  I look up on the top shelf and there sits a beat up box that reads pressure canner.  Well I have a pressure canner but it is a 23 quart and sometimes I only need to can a couple of pints.  I open the box and the canner is pristine as in never used.   The weight had never been removed from it's envelope, everything was there including the book and warranty papers.  It is a Mirro 8 quart canner.  The original price tag says $55.95.  I couldn't find one of their price tags and was walking toward the counter to inquire what they would want for it when I thought to check the bottom....$7.99!  Where it wasn't the best bargain I have ever found, it was one that made me extremely happy. 

In other news, #2 daughter turned 16!  We need to get her a driver's permit.  The teaching will fall into the man's lap.  When I ride with anyone I usually knit as a distraction from becoming a back/side seat driver.  I don't particularly like to drive but I am also not comfortable riding!  This should be loads of fun.

Thanksgiving was wonderful.  Thirteen of us ate till we could eat no more.  We did without the holiday buying spree and sat at home together on Friday.  Saturday we did venture out to cut a tree but when we got there they were only selling pre-cut ones so we left.  Our old cut your own place closed and we have to find a new one because cutting it yourself just adds to the whole season for me and it is something we all look forward to.

#1 daughter and Sir T sent pictures (sonogram) of the baby.  I say it is a boy but his mom says it's a girl.  Since they won't find out we will have to wait and see.  I need to finish the little coat just in case his mom is right.  Either way I have to get knitting since Christmas comes first and that is only 23 days away.