Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Hangover


Urban Dictionary describes a Christmas Hangover as “The day after Christmas, December 26th when you wake up realizing all the fun is over and you have to wait another 365 days until Christmas.

I am a creature of habit.  And as much as I love Christmas or any holiday for that matter, it throws a monkey wrench into my normal boring hermit-ish existence. 
So ...I do not like to pick fights or anything but I think that definition is wrong.  I think as an adult it could best be described as the exhaustion one feels from having…found or made the perfect gift for everyone on your list, wrapped it, labeled it, packed it, shipped it or delivered it, bought the tree, decorated the tree, decorated the house, made the nog, the dinner, the cookies/pies/stollen , cleaned the house from top to bottom  for all the holiday guests….several times because the kids, husband and dogs thought you had too much time on your hands, prepared for family and their animals that stay over, tried to prepare for any “unforeseen” that usually happens, and after weeks of this the exciting finale of watching them open presents finally came and you are still going at mach speed… 

All those later than usual nights, earlier than usual mornings, having all these people in and out of your usually quiet abode, the extra laundry, the excess food consumption (or alcohol) that your body is not use to finally takes its toll and you become mentally and physically exhausted.  And yesterday when everyone left I could only sit.  I could not concentrate enough to knit, I could not read, I just sat like a lump on a log and watched something on tv that I don’t even remember…and then more friends came over … and tonight we will have company … Wednesday night into Thursday #2 son is having three friends coming over that love to eat … Friday life will semi return to normal only to have the New Years activities.  If I can make it until then, New Years day the tree and decorations will come down so that Tuesday when the kids return to school I can sit in my everything is back in it’s place, empty house and … take a nap!  Actually this is when I will get to really enjoy my gifts.  I have ebooks to buy and a kickass kitchenaid that was insulted when all I asked of it was to whip up a dozen eggs.  Trying to redeem myself in the eyes of the mixer earlier I had it working on a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  It was amused but is asking for a real job… I am thinking bread might make it happy.  I know it will make the man happy!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas that left you with a enough of a hangover to know that you had a good time with family and friends but not so bad that you don’t want to redo it for another 365 YEARS!!!



Monday, December 19, 2011

Each Christmas...


Each Christmas I remember
The ones of long ago;
I see our mantelpiece adorned
With stockings in a row

Each Christmas finds me dreaming
Of days that used to be.
When we hid presents here and there,
For all the family.

Each Christmas I remember
The fragrance in the air,
Of roasting turkey and mince pie
And cookies everywhere.

Each Christmas finds me longing
For Christmases long past
And I am back in childhood
As long as memories last.
~ Carice Williams Christmas Past

We found a tree farm closer to home and on Saturday we got our tree.  It is a blue spruce which quickly scented the house. I told the kids it would be very “pokey” and by the time I was done putting on the lights my arm looked like I had put on porcupine  arm warmers.

Then we started to decorate.  It is always a walk down memory lane. 

This ceramic mouse ornament is from many moons ago.  My nickname was Mouse because I loved cheese so my mom made me this ornament.

My mom also bought this ornament for #1 daughter’s first Christmas. 


Years later we were given this one when she was deployed to Iraq.




In Montessori school #1 son made this and we use it to mark where his presents will be under the tree each year.  It is my favorite school picture of his, so young and innocent.


After he graduated and got his first full time job as a carpenter.  So we documented it with an ornament.


#2 daughter’s place is marked by her handprint done in pre-school.


Several years later we bought her a horse .  As Christmas approached we bought an ornament to remember when this happened.  We spent New Year’s Eve in the ER with a broken wrist from her falling off the horse.


#2 son felt very manly when he was allowed  to skip school and go salmon fishing in Pulaski, NY.  That was the first of many fishing trips.  He still holds the nickname “Bob” because he kept falling in and “bobbing” up and down in the river. 


Each ornament is dated and I try to commemorate some event in their life that year.  I hope later they will decorate their tree and pull out these ornament and remember years long past.

And now that the tree has been procured, decorated and there is less than one week left where does it find me?  Well the presents are bought or made and for the most part wrapped.  I did encounter a small problem…the square afghan that I was knitting and that I thought was 6 feet wide turned out to be 4 feet.  It must have been wishful thinking on my part.  I had been measuring from the center to the corner.  I wrapped it and will let them decide if they want it bigger, knit all the way around or added to on the top and bottom.  It is just a throw for their sofa so I don’t know which way they will go. 


In the baking department….I seem to have married and birthed hoover vacuum cleaners.  As soon as I make something it is inhaled.  I love that they love it but would like a little for company and baskets.  So today while everyone is still occupied with work and school I will try to bake and hide it.

#2 and I still have bird seed ornaments to make  to put on the outside tree on Winter Solstice.  This is something she saw on Little Bear many years ago and we still do.  

I think that is one of the best things about this time of year...the memories and traditions.  Love it!





Monday, December 12, 2011

Uncritical Small Children...I hope

“The best thing about doing needlepoint for very small children is that they are so uncritical. They don’t say things like, ‘I see you’ve missed some stitches over here on the leg, was that intentional?’ or ‘Was this creature blinded in a fight?’ They will clasp it in their little arms and love it besottedly, inseparably as the thing becomes more and more rancid.” ~ Carole Berman and Jennifer Lazarus.

Let’s hope that carries over to knitting also. I finally finished Baby O’s stocking.

I am so happy it is done. I know I should have done his name in white also. Trying to find graphs that would fit into the stitches cast on, trying to not make it too baby-ish so it will grow with him, trying to make it large enough that his mom would be happy, trying to knit stranded …was very trying! Size wise I over compensated and his parents will have a very happy child! And no I did not do that on purpose.


When I wasn’t able to work on that stocking I just did plain knitting on this one to keep my fingers busy and use up yarn. I did an afterthought heel for the first time. I like it but should have used more stitches.

Now to finish the lap-ghan. I have 8 more rows, 4 lace 4 plain , before the seed stitch border so I know it will be done before Christmas.

I did some baking this weekend but #2 son had two friends over and they ate. Needless to say nothing is left for Christmas! But almost all the decorating (other than the tree) is done. Boys come in handy for high places and carrying things. Guess that is why they were soooo hungry!

And it has finally gotten cold and feels like December. Woke to 16 degrees this morning next to the house. No snow left to make it look like Christmas outside but it sure does feel like it.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Put a Little Holiday in your heart


Feel the cold wind blowing-winter's coming on
'Tis the season, so they say
If you need help believing 'cause your spirit ain't
Too strong
Hold my hand - we'll push that cloud away

Put a little holiday in your heart
It'll put a little shuffle in your step
Give you a song that you can sing
With a melody you can't forget
And if you wanna join in a little harmony
To keep the world from tearin' apart
Well you know where to look
Yeah - you gotta put a little holiday in your heart

~ Lyrics Put a Little Holiday in your heart

Remember I said I didn’t like to bake but didn’t mind it during the holidays? Well I was on the phone with #1 daughter making two loaves of rhubarb bread. Later, I pulled them out of the oven and threw in two loaves of orange cranberry and when they came out I tossed in holiday bread (think cream cheese, cherries, almond extract deliciousness). When I pulled the holiday bread out I noticed they didn’t rise. I check the recipe and I didn’t add in the baking powder. I call it a day and clean up the kitchen. I opened the fridge to get lunch and there sits a measuring cup full of rhubarb….it never made it into thebread. The man and kids ate the no rhubarb rhubarb bread but I have officially quit baking until my bruised ego recovers from my stupidity. Definitely put me in a scroogey mood and I needed a little holiday in my heart.

And as if to answer my prayers it snowed. Now it was 40 degrees yesterday and raining all day but it cooled down, the snow started and the slush froze. Snow definitely means holidays tome. I sat up knitting and watching it snow until 11:30. Thank goodness the kids had a two hour delay.

Walked the dogs this morning and it seemed funny to see the forsythia blooming with snow on it.

The snow is almost gone but tonight the man brought up all the Christmas boxes. The washing machine is running with all the table runners, place mats, shower curtain, table clothes, mug rugs etc. Tomorrow we start to decorate. It is a slow process as I pack away whatever is currently occupying the space needed.

As this is the last weekend of deer season I figure we will hold off getting the tree until next weekend. We always get live trees. With the woodstove sucking the very life out of the tree and the dog’s tails attempting to knock it down I try to not have it up too far before Christmas.

The man found out today that his company is having a Christmas party after all. They originally said no but plans are on for the 16th. He will have to work ½ a day on Saturday so we won’t be out long . When he gets home we can go chop a tree. The lady we went to for years closed and we have been buying a tree at Home Depot but I found a place in NY where you can cut your own. We will be going over the river and through the woods to get our tree!

Who knows if I watch a couple of more Christmas movies and keep listening to carols, I might even try baking again this weekend.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Gambling

Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing from something.

We left early to arrive at the VFW. Surprisingly the place was already filling up. The table behind the caller was stacked with prizes and lots of certificates from local businesses.

By the time the games started every chair was full. The numbers were picked, Bingo was called, the prizes were distributed but for the first time in the history of my going I came home empty handed.

Took a friend with us for her first time and she won a sleeping bag and a really neat flashlight and the 50/50 drawing. She was ecstatic and said she is going with us next year!

She is another convert that didn’t really like bingo but found that this is not your regular bingo. It may be played the same but the cast of characters, both the players who don’t take it serious and like to rib other players to the members of the VFW who only do this once a year and make a ton of mistakes, make it worth it.

It was a great night. We laughed until it hurt and donated money to a really good cause so we were all winners and did get something out of it. Can’t wait for next year!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Let the stress begin...21 days and counting


I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become….but there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress. ~ May Sarton

I use to be such a Christmas nut…now sometimes sadly it is an effort. I love going to church on Christmas Eve. I love driving around and looking at the outside Christmas lights. I love walking, preferably in snow, to find the perfect tree. I love the wrapping of the presents. My mother was a master at disguising gifts so it has become somewhat of a game. The guys are downstairs now working on something…I love to make believe I am coming down and listen to them holler! I love the music…Bing, Frank, Dean, Nat. I love watching all the shows on TV. I love reading all the Christmas stories. I love turning off all the house lights and just watching the blinking tree lights dance on the ornaments and create shadows within the branches of the tree. I love going to bed on Christmas Eve with butterflies of anticipation. I love watching people open their presents. I love when the presents are all open and everyone is so absorbed in what they got. And even though I don’t particularly like to bake I don’t mind it at Christmas. I made two batches of cookies today. It is a start.

I don’t however, like to shop on a normal day. Add to that snarky people vying for the biggest, best or last gift to be had and I hate it even more. When forced to enter a store during the holidays I get nauseous and before I exit I have a headache. If I have someone with me and I have psyched myself into it I can laugh off their rude obnoxious behavior and after they have rammed their cart into me…again, I can smile at them and say “And a Merry Christmas to you too”. Only once was that followed by calling her a female dog. That being said you know that I was NOT shopping on Black Friday!

I got most of what I wanted before Thanksgiving. However,some people don’t give you ideas early enough to make this happen….and those I try to cover by shopping on line or I’ll grab the man and psych myself up.

Thankfully it is early enough that when I had to go into town on Thursday it wasn't all that bad. There were more people but they were still pleasant. Now the best part of shopping is when I come home, stoke up the wood stove, make a cup of tea and sit down to work on my grandson’s stocking…and all the tension of shopping just slips away with the stitches off the needles. I have finished three presents ...these are another pair of fingerless mitts for #2 daughter as she looses them all the time and the dead fish hat for Baby O.....


Besides the stocking I have two more projects in various stages of completion. If time allows there are some other gifts I could work on but if it doesn't happen it is not a big deal.

I only have a couple of things left to pick up including the duck for dinner. Oh yeah and the tree. But that can all wait a while because tonight is another one of my favorites of the season….VFW yearly prize bingo. My mom and I went every year and now my kids are all going. The proceeds go to the children’s Christmas party. My kids use to love going to the party but now they are all way over the cut off age. It is by no means a serious bingo game. The men buy or get donations of prizes so a lot of them include booze in some form. If you are not lucky enough to win something you want, most people are willing to swap for something you won! I have won dinner at a local restaurant, money off my phone bill, free hair cut, free oil change, $25 gift certificate at grocery store, bird feeders and a whole lot more over the years. Cheap fun for a good cause and one of those saving graces that makes up for the downside of the holidays. Now when I was outside earlier a bird flew over and pooped on my shoulder....that's good luck right?! Oh well if it isn't please send me some!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life…a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year – and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God. ~ Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)

On New Year’s Eve most people reminisce on what the year has brought to them. I find myself doing so at Thanksgiving. My mind skims over the good, the bad and the ugly of everyday life. I could take up pages of what I wanted to accomplish that didn’t get done or I can be thankful for what we were able to get done. I can bemoan the plants that didn’t grow or serve up those that did. I can cry over those that won’t be with us or welcome the new ones to the table. Sometimes in the daily grind it is hard to always realize the upside of things.

And because others can say things so much more eloquently than I...

For flowers that bloom about our feet,

For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,

For the song of bird and hum of bee,

For all things fair we hear or see,

For blue of stream and blue of sky,

For pleasant shade of branches high,

For fragrant air and cooling breeze,

For beauty of the blooming trees,

For this new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends,


Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing all a very Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preparing for the holiday


Music with dinner is an insult to both the cook and the violinist. ~G.K. Chesterton

Now music while preparing the dinner is perfect. My mother and I always started listening to Christmas carols while preparing the meal for Thanksgiving.

Today finds #2 daughter and I making pies and listening to Christmas carols. That is something I love about the holidays and that I try to keep alive…the little family traditions which you later realize are so meaningful even to those that you thought were oblivious to them.

Now to get her to wash the china without breaking any…maybe I will do it myself!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gleam in your eye

"You know you are getting old when the gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals."

After putting it off for as long as possible, I now have joined the ranks of those that need to wear bifocals. I walked into the optometrist’s office and read a sign that said… "If you don't seewhat you're looking for, you've come to the right place" Ya think?!

I updated my information and sat down in the waiting area. I pulled out my knitting, raised my glasses and started to knit. I have been nearsighted since I was a teen but the raising of the glasses to knit or read has been a more recent development. Last time I was there my vision was acceptable enough to not

warrant bifocals but since I haven’t been there in ….well let us just say some time….it has deteriorated.

I hate doctors of any kind and though I make sure my children get their physicals, shots, dental exams and eye exams, I tend to procrastinate until I have to go. This Spring #1 made me get a whooping cough vaccine because of Baby O and since I was

there I got all my medical tests run. The reason for finally going back to the eye doctor was because I broke the arm off my glasses and was now wearing an older pair…and headaches from the fore mentioned older pair.

I got the progressive lens. They should make life easier so long as I don’t have a problem with them. I get to pick them up next Wednesday. Just in time to make or break Thanksgiving dinner!

But the eye sight or more accurately lack there of has not stopped me from getting Christmas started. I am actually about 80% done. The other 20% is either knitting or waiting on the paycheck to hit the buy button.

Last year we did clues for #2 daughter and son to find their big present. They want them again this year so I have come up with how to word the clues and where to hide them.

Other than that I started some homemade kahlua and cranberry cordial to brewing. I also have mustard seeds soaking for homemade mustard. I took a day to help #2 with her senior class project. She is a junior but it is now out of the way and next year she can concentrate on getting scholarships and grants…and figuring out what she wants to go to college for.

I got the garden pulled, blackberry canes cut and everything piled up to burn. The log splitter is splitting more wood for

whatever the winter holds - so far so good. I let the fire go out during the day as it has not been that bad but at night Mr. Woodstove has quite the appetite and enjoys his supper of oak and hickory.

I found my ball winder. I emptied some bobbins and spun a little. My needles have been clicking away for Christmas but I can’t show anything until after. Nosy people you know!

We have a busy weekend planned. The man has to work Saturday to make up for Thursday's day off (says the boss), #2 daughter turns 17 and is having friends for a sleepover and viewing of the newest Twilight movie, the school is having a juried craft fair which is usually a good one, my brother needs help ripping up his kitchen floor and we told a friend we would come help hang some shelving. Most people look forward to weekends, I look forward to Mondays when quiet reigns down once again!

So since there is not much I can show I will entertain you with shots of what is entertaining me at the moment....












Monday, November 07, 2011

Canning for the Zombie Invasion


My daughter found that picture on Pinterest. She has a board named “Can this Mom” where she collects various canning recipes for me to make her! Can't wait for them to be able to move closer so I can teach her and she can do it herself!

I have almost finished canning. The sauerkraut is still fermenting and I need to can some soups for the man’s lunch but the bulk of the garden is in various size jars on my shelves.

Whenever I can I write it down and then tally everything at the end of the canning season. For the past couple of years I have tallied here so I could refer back.

This years totals look like this…..

Quart Pint 1/2Pt

Rhubarb Relish 5 9

Canned Rhubarb 4 3 2

Baked Beans 11 1

Green beans (blogger keeps moving) 25 1

Bread & Butter Pickles 18

Dill Pickles 1 8

Hot Pepper Mustard 26 6

Crushed Tomatoes 37 8

Watermelon Jelly 9

Yellow Mustard 5

Brown Mustard 5

Salsa 41

Salsa “juice” 4 1

Garlic Tomato Sauce 9 17 2

V8 13 19

Tomato Sauce 15 5

Tomato Soup 17 9

Cowboy Candy 4 16

Cowboy Candy Syrup for glaze 2 1

Lemon balm syrup 7

Choco Mint Syrup 7

Maple Walnut Syrup 4

Green Tomato Relish 11 3

Apple Juice 139 3

Apple sauce 24

Apple Pie filling 20

Apple Butter 7 5

Christmas Jam 7

Hot Peppers 1 2

Grape Juice 16 3

Pear Sauce 2

S & S Red cabbage 8

Potatoes 28

Froze

6 quarts brussel sprouts

13 pints of pumpkin

6 ½ gallons of apple cider

7 pounds of zucchini cubed and shredded

2 pounds cubed yellow squash

9 ½ pounds rhubarb

27 bags with 3 cups of corn in each

chestnuts

Stored

9 heads cabbage

75 pounds potatoes

12 butternut squash

15 pounds sweet potatoes

2 rutabegas

Hickory nuts

Black walnuts

No typos… we got A LOT of apples this year! #2 son & daughter take apple juice in their lunches and #1 will give some to Baby O. I saw all the jars but didn’t realize just how many until I added everything up from the list.

Each year is basically a crapshoot as to what the garden is going to be able to produce with that years weather. Where the apples and nuts were abundant this year the birds got a lot of the berries I would normally have used for jelly.

All in all not a bad year….So let the zombies come.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The first snow

Lo. sifted through the winds that blow, Down comes the soft and silent snow, ~George W. Bungay

Yesterday, it looked odd to see the bright yellow of the leaves in the drab grey and white world of the snow storm.

Even though the lights went off several times they always came back on. I woke this morning to see some residual damage…


a tree I had wanted down anyhow succumbed to the weight of the snow. If only the tree had gone through the shed as I want that taken down also. The tree is now cut up and stacked for later use…guess I would be pushing my luck asking for the shed to be taken down today too!

I went out about 6 am and measured. Down in the valley we are somewhat protected from the worst but we still got a fair amount.


Slowly daylight comes. It starts with a slight lightening of the sky above the ridge.
Then the sunlight touches just the tips of the trees on the top of the mountain.

On zoom they look like they are on fire.

Eventually the sun gets high enough in the sky to shine over the mountain on the other side of the river. The sunlight works it way down the hillside until it finally shines on the house. It happens every day yet I never tire of it and with the snow it was spectacular.

The kids did some small snowmen, had snowball fights and went riding down the mountain on a tube with friends and nephews. We had our taste of winter and enjoyed it but we are not sad that the snow is melting pretty fast. We can wait for more until later in the year!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Visit from Jack


The door was shut, as doors should be,

Before you went to bed last night;

Yet Jack Frost has got in you see,

And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;

And not a single word he spoke ,

But pencilled o'er the panes and crept

Away again before you woke,

And now you cannot see the hills

Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;

But there are fairer things than these

His fingers traced on every pane.

Gabriel Setoun

I do remember waking up, looking at and tracing the designs in the frost on the window panes. With today’s windows that is something we no longer have to deal with yet I miss it. I now have to get dressed and traverse outside to see the magical designs of Jack Frost on the hood of my car.

Yesterday we awoke to 42 degrees and the temperatures went down from there. We had rain and then our first snow flurries.

This morning the temperature was 27 and we received our first frost/freeze.

Turning on the TV I find that Old Man Winter doesn’t want to ease us in but wants to give us a rude awakening as this is our forecast for tomorrow…

LOCATIONS...NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA AND SULLIVAN AND DELAWARE COUNTIES OF NEW YORK.

* HAZARDS...HEAVY WET SNOW COULD DOWN TREES AND POWER LINES RESULTING IN POWER OUTAGES ALONG WITH SNOW COVERED SLIPPERY ROADS.

* ACCUMULATIONS...HEAVY WET SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 7 INCHES WITH THE GREATEST AMOUNTS CONFINED TO THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS.

* TIMING...EARLY SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH EVENING.

* TEMPERATURES...LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S.

* WINDS...NORTHEAST WINDS AT 5 TO 15 MPH.

* IMPACTS...HEAVY WET SNOW MAY CAUSE POWER OUTAGES ALONG WITH HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS.

I am actually excited about this! Sounds like it will be a great day for soup and homemade bread!

And as I was carrying more firewood I realized I never bought bird seed for the winter. Of course the stores will be a zoo today with that forecast so I think they will have to make do until next week!

Hope everyone has a great, safe weekend. Stay warm.