Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Ice? Hmmmm

The severe weather came in back-to-back storms, said Mike July of the National Weather Service in Kansas City. "We're going to get hit with a double-whammy," he said. The first storm rolled through Kansas on Wednesday afternoon, on the heels of near-record setting high temperatures earlier in the week. It dumped half an inch of ice on tree limbs and power lines in eastern Kansas, contributing to a fatal car accident on the Kansas Turnpike and raising concerns of power outages.

Suddenly, the Indian summer we've been enjoying - temps in the 60's and 70's have been replaced by winter. Yesterday's temps fell 40 degrees in one day! Then we had ice . . . now we have snow. It took me two hours both last night and tonight to get home from work. Normally, it's a 45 minute drive.

Lucky for me, I really like - well, let's face it LOVE winter!!!! I am a cold weather kind of gal. I'm not afraid of driving in it either. I just don't like to take 2 hours each way getting to and from work, makes an awfully long work day.

Anyway, winter is officially here now. Pictured is a view from the door of my house looking out at my snow-covered car. And that's the snow that had accumulated in the 2 short hours since I arrived home. It doesn't count the deep snow and ice I drove through on the WAY home. Yikes. Too bad I can't have an official snow day off work, but my company will stay open no matter what. They even have a generator on the premises.

How this snowy weather makes me yearn for more luscious stay-at-home and cuddle in front of the fireplace with my family and a hot cup of coffee.

By the way, Phyllis, thanks for calling to check on me. You are too cute!!! Worrying about me is so sweet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Retrospective

I've had such a good, fun, relaxing 4 days off - this is Sunday, the final day of being OFFFFFFFFFF. Sure could use more 4 day breaks like this. Say I don't have to go back to work on Monday??? Say I can put my feet up for one more day. Say I still have ONE MORE DAY to enjoy. Yeah.

I love being off. I had a chance to spend some time with my family on Thanksgiving - and although there are only 5 of us now celebrating - the three of us and two grandmas, it still was a beautiful day. We are so thankful to still have my 91-year-old phenomenal Grandma with us and inspiring us. I remember my childhood Thanksgivings when the whole big clan got together, but sadly, that doesn't happen anymore. Our family is growing older, less kids, and those that still exist are fractured and living in different parts of the country. Ah well. It was still nice to have each other. And the food was delish as usual. I ate far too much. Way too many leftovers. Getting sick of said leftovers. Guess it's time to start freezing things.

I saw some delightful friends, including my old childhood friend, Pam. It was wonderful seeing her again! Our long-held friendship is precious, and she's gone a long way in keeping in touch with me through the years. We laughed over some warm childhood memories and gave one another parenting and middle age advice. Everytime we get together, we remember who we once were, and still are - and notice the many changes that life has brought our way. It's so good to have someone who has known you since you were five - it sort of anchors you.

I had a chance to speak with Phyllis by telephone. Phyllis, Phyllis, Phyllis. I can never get enough of you. I wish we lived closer so we could laugh together in person. But you make me laugh no matter WHAT is going on.

As a family, we went to Warrensburg for the day on Friday. We love going on daytrips and Warrensburg drew us this time. I was tempted to drop by and see Kay and her geo dome home, but I didn't have her address or phone number with me. Kay, wouldn't you just have LOVED a pop in visit? Ah, no, probably not! We ate at Players restaurant. Great salads and sandwiches there. Then we went to our favorite Antique mall/glorified thrift shop called Those Were the Days. The two girls, Emily and her friend, found two French style fancy phones that they snapped up.

One thing I picked up at the thrift store was a new/old coffee mug. Did I ever tell you that I collet coffee mugs as well as drink lots of coffee? Well, I do. And I like collecting old named brands of old such as "Ever-Fresh" that are no longer made. During the big move two months ago, one of my favorite Ever-Fresh mugs broke. The handle snapped off due to rough packing by me. So yesterday I found another Ever-Fresh mug at the thrift store. It's not a replacement, because I still love the old one. And in spite of everything, what I like best is a plain black cup of coffee with no added stuff. But I like brewed FLAVORED coffee the best - no extra calories, but loaded with flavor.

While I was sitting at YS&More Tuesday night during class, they were playing the most relaxing music!!! Even though I'd arrived that evening stressed out from work, after sitting there with that group of women and listening to this soothing music playing overhead, I felt settled in and so relaxed! We asked Tamra, the teacher, what was the source of this incredible music. She said it is Sirius radio, on the Coffeehouse channel 30. It's a mix of various artists, but all in acoustic guitar. It's very soft and not the same old top pop mix.

Suffice it to say that over the weekend, I did my homework on it, and we now have Coffeehouse at MY house. They have almost 200 channels for $12.95 per month - although you have to buy a car mounted receiver thing and a home docking port if you want that. But all in all, I am getting a $30 rebate on that, so for about $30 I have it in my car and I can listen online in the house. I will probably eventually get the home docking station too. Itr's much cheaper than buying CDs.

Music. Family. Friends. Knitting. Bubble baths. Reading. Sleeping late. Goofing around. A Jewish girl drinking and savoring Christmas coffee. Not necessarily in that order. Hope your Thanksgiving was the blessed too.

Thanksgiving Knitting

Met with the knitting group on Saturday and that was a blast as always. Everyone is working on great projects and Mary just finished the most beautiful man's sweater. It inspires me to work on more sweaters.

My husband is wanting a zippered cardigan from the Northampton Wools book -see photo at left. I can probably do the cardigan itself, but the zipper - ah, I may need to hire finishing help on that at the knitshop. I don't usually put zippers in sewed or knitted items. Zippers are not my friend.

As far as UFOs are concerned: I am still finishing up the socks I've been working on since summer! I'm on the second sock, and just have the toe left to do on the second sock. I hope to finish that up, maybe today?

My newest project is an Alpaca Grand Vest, the pattern is from Plymouth yarn Design Studio #26 - (see photo). It is a very simple and fun to make vest that feels as soft as heaven and knits up fast. Size 11 needles. You basically just knit up a big ribbed rectangle that cinches in during the middle part and flares out again. There are only two short side seams to stitch up. Easy and fun! And hopefully I'll end up with an amazingly soft, wearable garment. I love vests! They help make a large bust less conspicuous. In fact, a good vest hides a variety of figure imperfections.

I just started this on Tuesday during class at Yarn Shop & More and already, with not a lot of knitting, I'm quite a ways on it. Here's where I'm at:
The teacher tells us that this pattern is amazingly similar to an old 1940's vest design. Tamra collects vintage patterns, and she is going to try to bring the one from class that this is so similar to.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Grateful My Favorite Holiday Nears

At the office last week, we had our Holiday Feast where everyone brought in delicious food to share for an early Thanksgiving blowout. I love to cook, and here's the cranberry sauce I make in case anyone needs a quick Thanksgiving recipe:

Simply Delish Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 12 oz pkg fresh cranberries
2 small naval oranges, with the skin grated off and the oranges inside chopped up
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup chopped chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 chai spice tea bag from Stash
1 individual packaghe of Alpine (from Krusteaz) Original Apple Drnk Flavor Mix

In a med. saucepan, boil water and sugar with grated orange peel until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add Chai Spice teabag, the dried package of apple cider, cranberries, chopped orange, apple, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook the fuit and spice mixture until the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes or so.

Add pecans and cool the sauce.

That's it - easy and delicious. Next time I might put my Mother's Mushroom crab appetizers up here.

Back to Gratitude, although many authors and self-help gurus have suggested it at various times in various ways, I believe it was Oprah Winfrey who insisted that whenever she was down, she fixed that by either: volunteering to work for the underprivileged in a soup kitchen. She also makes a regular habit of keeping a Gratitude Journal where she writes down five things daily that she's grateful for. This is a wonderful habit to get into.

A couple of years ago, I kept a gratitude journal and I challenged myself to think of 5 different things each day, with few repeats. Sometimes it was amazing that the things I most appreciated were the little things i.e. finding a missing SOMETHING that I really needed and had misplaced; someone letting me in a busy line of traffic; a clerk being kind and letting me return something when I'd lost the receipt, any number of small things that made me feel good about human nature.

I haven't been keeping a gratitude journal lately, but I really need to do it again. Now that Thanksgiving is nearly here, I'm grateful, DESPERATELY grateful and anticipating the paid days off to spend with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Wanna Stay Home

I'm tired - just got home from a Bar Mitzvah for my nephew in St. Louis. I have a personal theory that there are three types of weekends: 1) the kind where you relax and recharge; 2) the kind that are fun and stimulating but busy; 3) the kind where you work around the house doing serious cleaning or working on a household project. This weekend we had a stimulating and busy weekend traveling to see the relatives on husband's side.

Susie and her family are loads of fun. Susie fulfills the role of "connector" for us - she and her mother Eve both do that. They keep us connected through their invitations and inclusion in family events. They always have family get togethers, parties and celebrate special events. This was her son Bryan's Bar Mitzvah and it was great. It was a whole series of events - including the temple service and a series of brunches and parties. We had a lovely dinner and dancing. Thank goodness I still fit into my black evening dress - the one special party dress I still own, so I didn't have to run out at the last minute and buy something new.

We had a chance to spend time with people we love but seldom see. Relatives and friends came in from several states. Emily had a chance to see her cousins. They are all growing up remarkably fast - and that makes us feel out of touch. In fact, some of the kids were so grown up, I literally didn't recognize them until we were introduced. We splurged and I mean SPLURGED on delicious food. Boy, I need to start that diet again!

I missed my knitting group today because we got home too late. Darn! I really love going to knitting with everyone. It recharges my emotional batteries. But I'll be there next week for sure.

We had a fun time. It made me realize that while I'm prone to wanting to spend my weekends doing the relaxing/recharging activities, my husband and daughter really enjoy the "get out there on the road and do fun things" kind of weekend. I should be more flexible sometimes in going away for some fresh experiences.

When you're a working woman, life just really feels like one big rat race and when you do take the weekend away - everything back at the house such as the avalanche of dirty laundry, the failure to go to the grocery store and other duties that I usually do on the weekends all pile up and populate the following work week. So now I'm having my post-weekend hangover. It's fun while you're out there, but when we come back, you're hit with all the stuff you didn't do while you were gone. I swear, I'm feeling that bluesy sense of "there's no time left for me in my life." I know, it's a pity party. But I'm craving a day - a weekend - a week all by myself. Wouldn't it be great to stay home, curl up in front of a fire? Read a book? Knit a little? Watch some movies? Light candles? Listen to music? And not leave the house for an entire day/weekend/week? Ahhhhh. Sheer bliss.

P.S. I didn't get to knit much this weekend because we were moving from one activity to the other and on the way home, I was so tired I slept the whole four hours while husband drove. Social events are fun, but they wear me out!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Yeah, yeah, it's my birthday. I'm getting older, but I'm still kick'n.

And I'm an election baby - born on Kennedy's election day so many years ago. That's proven prophetic for my political leanings.

And the election day yesterday - perfect! I enjoyed savoring it today.

Not many birthdays this satisfying. When I'm feeling more technically inclined, I'll try to scan in the photo I found of my teenage self.

Regardless of how you voted, I think we can all agree that we're sick of the political ads and it's time to move on. Ready for some unification and healing in this country. Whew! I'm certainly ready for that.

Peace and love, everyone - let's hope for that.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sweater Weather - Let's Talk About Sweaters

It's November, and even though we've been having a brief burst of Indian Summer, the late Fall air is beginning to get a wee bit brisk, the beautiful red leaves outside my front window are falling. There's frost on my car windows in the morning, because I still can't get my car into our crowded-with-boxes garage. And it's time to think about winter, and comfy sweaters to keep warm!

The one really good thing about my current job is that we get to "dress casual" every day. This means I get to wear my handknit socks and sweaters to the office every day with jeans if I want. Isn't that great? The weird thing is, although I've knit lots of socks, scarves, a few hats, several purses I don't carry and many fingerless gloves - I haven't made many sweaters - only two in fact! One was an Einstein coat for Em when she was in fourth grade and the other was the Reynolds Smile Sweater I made for myself early last Spring.

So my thoughts have turned to sweaters, and what I could make that I would really enjoy and wear. I love wearing both vests and sweaters. I am planning on making a vest, too, in Pymouth's Baby Grand Alpaca - but that's a whole different topic for another blog entry. I'm starting on that in a couple of weeks when I take it in a class at Yarn Shop and More. I'll share that info with you later.

Back to sweater talk. For over a year now, ever since I found Norma's blog, I've been wanting to make her Plain Vanilla Sweater. Here's the pattern photo of it, it's made off the Knitting Pure & Simple Neckdown Pullover pattern #9724 shown here:

And I even bought the yarn for it - last January! It's Marr Haven's Merino and Rambouillet all natural 2 ply yarn, cleaned without chemicals/all natural in the color NATURAL. But I haven't made it yet. So I'm going to get started, hopefully today, I'll make a gauge swatch and get started this afternoon. The only problem is, the pattern calls for using both size 9 and size 6 in both a 16" and 24" needle size - so I need 4 needles that I don't have a lot of. I have scads of needles in every other side, but I may actually have to dig up some of these sizes. I can't find my Denise needle set since the big move. I will do a gauge swatch because in all likihood, I will need to go down to a size 7 or 8 and a 4 or 5 on the smaller needle. I knit loose. But at any rate, if I can get the needles together, I may start swatching on that today.

Did you read what happened to Norma's Plain Vanilla sweater? (See my sidebar for a link to her blog and to read the whole story). She spilled something on it. Coffee? Merlot? I'm not sure, but she ended up dying it into the most beautiful shade of red! I love red! It looks beautiful on her, too. But I haven't ventured into dying just yet. I'll be happy if I can just end up with a wearable casual sweater that will go with anything.