Sunday, December 31, 2006

Holiday recap and New Year's Eve

Wow, that was kind of a long break. Where does the time go? We are still sick, but hopefully on the mend...or at least in a holding pattern and not getting any worse. We felt crummy enough this morning to skip church and just putter around the house in pajamas (or "cha-meese" as Daughter calls them).

Anyway. I think I speak for many of us when I say: uuuuuuuuuugh. No more food. No more cookies. No more dressing up. No more viewings of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. No more
gifts, even. It just gets to the point where you can't even remember who gave you what gift, and that's just ridiculous.

I feel really weird, like Christmas didn't even happen. Part of that is our total lack of snow this winter. Since that horrible storm in October I don't think we've had any accumulation to speak of. So it doesn't even feel like it was time for Christmas yet. And we're in this limbo where our old
holiday traditions are fading away but new ones haven't been fully created yet, so, I don't know...the holiday season doesn't feel complete to me. I got as excited about it as I could for Daughter's sake, and she seemed to enjoy it once she got the idea.

I have lots I could say about how we present Christmas to our kids - really they know nothing of it and we kind of force it upon them from such a young age - but I don't feel like diving into that tonight. Suffice it to say Daughter had fun opening her gifts and she scored some great stuff. The
best thing, though, was my youngest sister's gift to my child. She's a stinking brilliant artist and I asked her to paint a little wooden table for playing, tea parties, etc. I figured she'd slap a few flowers on it and call it good. This is what she made:

I know. Just LOOK at that. It's my favorite of all the gifts given and received this year. I think she should make these and sell them. She'd make a fortune. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen! She does it all free-hand, and she started it on Saturday night (the 23rd) after driving around 10 hours to our parents' house. A-MA-ZING.

So Santa was good to all of us. Yes, I got my cedar chest. Hubby went and bought it anyway, and inside he stuck 2 gift cards to stores I like so I can do something about my pathetic wardrobe. 2 pregnancies and breastfeeding have left me a bit of a different size and shape than I was before,
so I have little that fits and/or is in style. So he basically turned his Christmas bonus into gift cards to force me to shop for myself during the after-Christmas sales. Sa-weet!

The giving of gifts was super fun at my parents' house this year. Daughter stole the show, running back and forth from the tree to hand out the gifts to everyone.

So it was good.


After Christmas we were slowed down a bit by a serious mucous attack. That's one of the only photos I have of Daughter without stuff running down from her poor little nose. (Side note: I am usually in favor of all businesses being closed on major holidays, but this year I was quite excited to find a Walgreens open on Christmas Day so we could get some Triaminic. We've been so fortunate with her health that we didn't even own any baby medicines besides Tylenol.)

So some of our plans were cancelled for the middle of the week, but we did family Christmas part 2 on Thursday, and then on Friday we drove 300 miles to have lunch at the Olive Garden. Seriously! My college roommate and best friend was home for the week on the opposite side of NY state, so we agreed to meet in the middle for lunch. My sister and my mom came along, and her mom came too. We haven't seen each other since my baby shower in March 2005, and I don't
think I'd seen her mom since graduation in '98, so it was awesome to have this opportunity. The best part? We picked up right where we'd left off. She's that kind of friend, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. Who else would I drive 300 miles for? Not many people, I can tell you that. And she was psyched to meet Daughter, who was a squirmy bump in my belly last time she saw us.


Then on Saturday night we had SABRES tickets - awesome! I was totally sick and hopped up on DayQuil but it turns out you can get hot tea at HSBC Arena, so it was a-ok. We had seats in the very top row of the arena. Holy moly. I almost puked the first time I looked took me awhile to acclimate. But the Sabres won! And it was almost worth screaming woo-hoo for each of the 4 goals. I could sort of talk today. Sort of.

That's about it for the holidays this year. Today has been a putter-around-and-do-laundry type of day, and I'm just trying to get my family healthy again. We're having a quiet evening at home watching Ryan Seacrest and...Dick Clark? Is he there? Or is the show just named for him out of respect? I don't think we've seen him yet. Huh.

The sewing machine was stashed until the new year, so no sewing was done over the past couple of weeks. It will be fired up again soon, though, to start Daughter's summer wardrobe. I did do some knitting, but I don't have photos. Maybe tomorrow.

As for the new year...well, I have to say I mostly hated 2006. I'm sure you can understand that. But despite the difficulties my family and I faced, we still are so grateful for our many blessings. My one resolution for 2007 is simply to live better. Things fall apart, and things go back together. It's time to pull them back together. It may take kicking and clawing my way up, but I'll get back on top, from eating and sleeping better to being kinder to my friends and family to being financially more responsible to painting the beat-up walls of my house to restoring my physical and emotional many things each and every day, but all one day at a time.

Happy New Year to you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you for seeing me through 2006, and I hope you will stay with me for 2007. God bless you. Be safe tonight. See you next year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

it isn't the holidays unless someone is sick

We had a merry little Triaminic Christmas around here, and now the bug has moved on to me. But we still have several obligations to go, so I must press on.

Help me. Send Nyquil.

Holiday rundown to come soon...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I am touched by all your kind responses to my little ornament. You know when you just get that need to make a thing, and all your energy goes into it until it's done? Once I remembered that I owned the pattern for those little ornaments, I immediately burned through 2 naptimes to make it. And I feel much better about Christmas having done so. My baby needs to be remembered, and I'm so comforted that you all remember her too.

I'm signing off for Christmas now. I have toilets to clean, floors to mop, and cookies to bake, so I must put away the computer for a few days. Then we're booked solid for almost the next week with family and friends, so hopefully I'll have some good stories to bring you.

Merry, merry Christmas to you all, and God bless. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Wow, I'm psyched to have gotten so many responses to the question I posed. It sounds like everyone has their own "thing" when it comes to gifting one's spouse, but most people end up putting something under the tree. I think we never really outgrow that thrill of unwrapping a box, especially when the contents are a surprise.

As for us (since some of you asked), we generally do a rather specific list for each other, though in the past we've put the money toward furniture instead. In recent years (since buying a house and having a kid and lots of medical expenses), we've made short, inexpensive lists. This year we were lucky to get a refund from one of my medical bill payments that allowed us to purchase more and better gifts for our families than we otherwise could have afforded. For ourselves, well, I only
wanted one thing but it turns out I can't have it*, so I don't know what Hubs is going to come up with. He actually neglected to give me a list this year, so Daughter and I went to Old Navy and just bought up a storm. Have you all shopped there this holiday season? The bargains are astounding! He's also getting a giant bag of Starbucks coffee and a big bag of chocolates (mint Hershey kisses because WHERE ARE THE MINT M&Ms THIS YEAR???) in his stocking, because we never splurge on that during the rest of the year.

So that's that. Nothing too special. I was just wondering how everyone else does it. As an interesting follow-up, what are you actually getting your spouse for Christmas/Hannukah/whatever this year?

So I am driving a rental car this week. Hubs finally got around to making an appointment with the body shop to fix the damage caused by the woman who merged into his passenger side last month, but I ended up making the phone calls and actually going to drop off the broken car and pick up the rental. Grrrrr.

The weird thing is, I haven't driven a car, or a new vehicle at all, in YEARS. I drive a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport. Basic model. Cheap-o because 2001 was the last model year and the dealership was trying to unload the 4 or 5 they had left. It has power windows and locks, and 4WD, but that's it. No cruise control, no CD player, no power seats, etc., etc. And I adore it! I plan to drive it until the wheels fall off, a la The Blues Brothers.


This afternoon I slid into the driver's seat of a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. This car has everything.
It's all fancy and digital and it smells new and it's just...fancy. I mean, a Grand Prix isn't the creme de la creme of cars, even, but it makes my Jeep seem like a crummy, tired, dirty old toy. Because Hubs got the last new car, I get the next one, but that won't be for quite a long while. And I'm ok with that because we can't afford a new car right away anyhow, but wow. I could really get used to driving around in a swanky new car.

The only problem is, I could barely reach to get money out at the ATM, and when I hit the drive-thru for a coffee, I couldn't see over the counter. I'll be happy to get back in my Jeep when Hubs gets his car back (I am driving the rental because I hardly go anywhere, so less risk of damaging it. Plus, it's fancy and swanky and new and I want to drive it, so there).

My 20 month old daughter answered the telephone today.

Thank goodness it was her grandmother on the other end.

Speaking of Daughter, she has been going on the potty every day for almost a week. Today she went before nap, stayed dry through her nap, went again after nap, and then went again after dinner which blows my mind. People, she turns 2 in April. Could we be in big-girl pants by her birthday or am I just a sucker for being excited? Stay tuned!

Sorry, this post isn't very interesting, and there aren't even any pictures. Wait, hold on, I'll show you a preview of Christmas Dress '06:

Don't mind my leggies there in the background. This was during Christmas Photo Shoot attempt #1 (a total failure) when I was trying to herd my child toward the Christmas tree. This was the first time I had the dress on her, and I am in love with it. I am wild for long dresses on little girls (none of that Shirley-Temple-ruffled-behind-sticking-out stuff for me, thanks), and this fits the bill perfectly. The pattern was a pain in the rear, but I am so happy with the result. I can't wait to get her dressed up for the actual holiday. Wait, what am I going to wear?

*The thing I want is a cedar trunk that I have only seen at Joann etc. stores in my town. I love it because it's the simplest thing you ever saw, and I want it to protect all the wee sweaters my mom and I have knitted for Daughter. When she becomes a mother I want to be able to just pass on the whole chest of knits to her for her babies. Anyway, we went to get it yesterday with a coupon and the dumb thing is already on sale for Christmas. Joann used to let you use the coupon anyway, but you'd get the discount off the regular price. Well they don't do that anymore. Poop! The sale price doesn't fit our budget. Maybe I can have it for my birthday when it goes to regular price and Hubs can go back with another coupon. Stupid Joann etc.! Stinkers!

Friday, December 15, 2006

informal poll

Well, I guess it's not so much a poll as it is a regular old question. What I want to know from you, internets, is this: how do you and your spouse/partner handle Christmas gifts for each other (or the holiday you celebrate if it's not Christmas)?

Do you just go shopping for each other and it's a surprise?

Do you give each other a list?

Do you get one large-ish gift together (like a new TV, or a new piece of furniture, or that air hockey table you've both always wanted, or something like that)?

Do you skip the gifts altogether and just buy for the kids?

Help me on this, internet friends. How do you do Christmas?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

knitting interlude

So, after all that complaining little girl went pee-pee on the potty! She woke up dry from her nap, so we toddled straight to the bathroom and she did it! Hey, it's a start.

Anyway, on to the crafts. I find that when in the midst of a crazy time, like perhaps the holidays, it sometimes helps to just stop and do something enjoyable. For the past 2 nights I've spent my TV vegging time knitting up a little scarf for Daughter. Oh man, I can't believe my baby is big enough to require a scarf.

Basically, this is to tie around the hood of her coat so it doesn't flop down. Or, when it's really cold and she needs her big poofy parka I can wrap it around her neck inside the coat for warmth.

The pinks are not quite so bright in real life. It's just so crazy sunny today I couldn't capture the colors properly.

Yarn: Patons Soy Wool Stripes in "natural geranium"
Needles: US size 9
Measurements: about 4" X 33.5" (unblocked)

This yarn is neat. I've never seen or heard of it but I was in a Michael's store the other day for something else altogether and it caught my eye. I really need to stay out of the yarn sections of those stores. Sheesh. Anyway, it's 70% wool and 30% soy, and 110 yards. The gauge info says you should get 4" with 17 stitches on a size 9 needle...that sounded good to me so that's what I did. I just knit seed stitch back and forth till the yarn ran out. Apparently this yarn felts (they had a little felted swatch hanging next to the yarn in the store) so I will have to be careful laundering the scarf. I may have to pick up more of this yarn in the other colorways at some point. It's really pretty, and feels very silky.

Well, the laundry isn't going to fold itself. And it's over 50 degrees (F) today - in December, in Buffalo, and oh my gosh someone call Al Gore! The globe, it is WARMING! - so Daughter and I should really get out for some fresh air. Or at the very least we should get to the supermarket so we don't starve. Have a great day, everyone.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

who am i? where am i? is it christmas yet?

What day is it? This is one of those weeks for me...I'm so confused. On Monday night we were frosting cut-outs for Hubs to take to work and when I looked at the clock it was 9:01 and I freaked out because we! were! missing! HOUSE!


I have spent half of my time over the past few days preparing for Christmas, and the other half sitting on the floor next to the potty. I'm not sure which one I like less right now. That bathroom floor is cold, yo! But the wee one wants to sit on the potty and try to go, so there I sit, talking to her and
reading books and running the water with my butt going numb. So far, nothing has happened, but I am happy that she is interested. (Please, no comments re: how to potty train my kid. We're really only just starting and I'm not in a hurry. You know me, when I want help, I will ask.)

On the Christmas front, I have baked at least 20 dozen cookies, most of which have already been consumed (don't worry, a ton went to the office with my husband), bought eleventy-billion more gifts because there's always just one more person I've forgotten, wrapped like about 3/4 of the gifts, crammed a tiny bit of knitting time in, and oh yeah, I've sat by the potty.

The yo-yo garland may not make it onto the tree this year. I just haven't been able to work on it, because I can't have sewing needles and small scissors around when Daughter is exploring the universe. At least knitting can be shoved in a bag or crammed on a shelf with minimal damage. So the
sewing has been languishing.

I have gotten some knitting done:

The back of Daughter's latest sweater, dunked and blocked on Friday night. (By the way, this is Patons Classic Merino in denim, and it bled like the dickens. Just an FYI for anyone knitting up Christmas gifts with this yarn!)

Sneak preview of another project for Daughter. I'll tell all about it when I finish.

And finally, I missed the "share your favorite ornament" party hosted by Morning Glory last Friday because we didn't have our ornaments out yet, but I want to share that this is my favorite ornament this year. This is Tiny Ella. The real Ella is now at my in-laws' house and from what we hear is adjusting nicely. In her place Daughter seems to have adopted this tiny schnauzer ornament, which neither Hubs nor I can recall acquiring. She has a tiny chip in her tail, which Daughter will show anyone she can find, and as you can see there was a terrible accident involving one of her rear legs. That happened last night when I had to tackle Daughter as she stuck her finger in the one uncovered outlet in the entire house (yes, I have since covered it). Tiny Ella was in her other hand and went flying. I do have the bottom half of the leg to superglue on later. Whoops. Anyway, Tiny Ella goes everywhere with Daughter, including to the supermarket, the library, Christmas shopping, Grandma's name it. It is adorable. There are other ornaments that I technically like better, but this year Tiny Ella is my fave.

Gotta go. SO MUCH TO DO! And yet again it is after lunchtime and I have not even showered. Crikey. Ho ho ho!

Teresa, that hat pattern is coming, I promise!

Friday, December 08, 2006

more than you ever wanted to know about yo-yos

Goodness, I have a to-do list today that would make you weep (starting with 'take shower'), but here I am instead, writing about yo-yos. Why is blogging so much more fun than all the other junk I have to do?

A few people have asked about my yo-yos, and in real life I've had many people say, "yo-yo? What is this yo-yo of which you speak?" I thought everyone knew about these, but then again, I suppose I didn't know much about a lot of sewing stuff until I worked in a quilt shop.

So here is some yo-yo info.

You want to start with a circle of fabric - something lightweight like a calico is perfect. They look especially sweet in vintage fabrics, like 30s and 40s feedsacks and other small prints. You don't want anything large-scale because you'll lose the design. The circle you start with needs to be approximately two times (2X) the size you want your finished yo-yo to be.

I must have wanted about a 2 or 2.25 inch yo-yo, because I made my initial circles 4.5 inches across. You don't have to be really precise about this unless you have special circle templates to work with. I used a round food storage container, and just traced each circle with a marker. It takes a long time, and so does cutting them all out, but it's a good tv-watching activity. If you can get your hands on a die-cutting machine, so much the better. Punch out a bunch at a time and you're ready to go.

Making yo-yos is not a precision activity. Mine vary from about 2 and 1/8 inches to 2.25 inches finished. That's ok with me.

Once your circles are all cut, you can start stitching. You can't beat these for simplicity of preparation. Just thread a fine needle with a double strand of thread, about 15 inches long or so, tie a double knot at the end (important because you will be pulling it quite taut), and begin folding the edge of the circle to the wrong side, about 1/4 inch. As I said, no real precision necessary. I am right-handed, so I fold the edge with my left hand and load the stitches with my right.

Use a running stitch, making sure to keep the knot on the folded side so you won't see it when you're done. Make your stitches about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. You don't have to be real neat here, just try to keep both your stitches and the amount you fold over fairly consistent.

Sorry for the lousy quality of some of these photos. It's hard to take pictures of such small stuff. Here I am just trying to show that I load a lot of stitches on my needle before pulling it through.

When you get all the way around, simply pull the stitches up as tightly as possible. If you've done it correctly it will resemble a tiny shower cap. Take a couple of tiny stitches in one of the folds and knot off the thread. Clip the threads close to the fabric. Then you just have to fuss with the finished product a little to make it lay nice and flat.

From what I have read I believe that, technically speaking, this is the "right" or "public" side of a finished yo-yo. But, as with all things crafty, I suppose that's up to the person making them.

If you like this side better, go for it! You definitely see more of the print this way.

Yo-yos are NOT meant to be made into a quilt that will get a lot of hard use. They are nice for decoration only. This is because when you sew them together, you just whipstitch the edges.

Hold two yo-yos with either the right or wrong sides together, depending on the look you're going for. Also, use a thread that will blend in well - I used this light cream so it would show up on the blog, but I will do the rest in a darker tan. Whipstitch the edge for about 1/4 inch, catching just a few threads at a time so they lay nice and flat.

Here are two joined together. Aren't they sweet?

You can lay them out in any arrangement that pleases you, of course. I am hoping to make a garland out of mine, so they will just go end-to-end, but you just do the same whipstitch between them to make rows.

Another neat way to use them is shown on Amanda's blog, where I originally got the garland idea. She glued them to ric-rac and I think also used buttons as accents.

Fun, huh? I am sort of yo-yo'd out after making all of these, but I will most likely be stitching some up again in the future.

Hat pattern to come over the weekend, hopefully. Now, about that to-do list.....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

a funny - and possibly sacrilegious - memory

Chris wrote a funny post about getting out the Christmas decorations that ended with a decapitated baby Jesus...go read it, it'll make more sense (it's the one titled "if only the king's men had glue guns things might have worked out differently").

It reminds me of the time this statue

actually blew off its pedestal in a terrible windstorm - ND people, do you remember that? It was NUTS. The next day people were climbing up there and posing, taking photos. That's probably total sacrilege or something. I didn't do it, nor did I photograph anyone doing it, but I admit I probably laughed at the people who did.

Sorry, this post makes no sense to anyone who didn't go to college with me.

Coming soon - a post that will make sense to all (maybe).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

a hat and a dog bite

As promised, here is the hat I made for Daughter. It fits perfectly and looks adorable on her head, but of course she hates it. She'll wear a roll-brim hat until the cows come home - in fact she sometimes goes and gets one and wears it around the house - but this earflap stuff is not her taste. Oh well, too bad, when it's in the 20s outside, she'll be wearing it.

Side view, so you can see the flaps. The edge has a row of single crochet to keep it from rolling and to give it a more finished look. The yarn is Patons Classic Merino in cream or natural or off-white...some variation of that color. I would tell you exactly what it is but Daughter made off with the ball band. She likes to wear them as bracelets.

I pretty much designed this myself, using whatever elements I could remember from patterns I've seen or used. If anyone is dying to make one of these for their toddler, I can try to post a pattern. Let me know. Also, I am thinking maybe this needs a simple little embroidered flower on the front. What do you think?

In other news, dudes, the dog bit me this morning.

She is a 7 year-old miniature schnauzer, usually pretty good-tempered. She tore up the bathroom garbage, I yelled at her and told her to go outside, but when you yell at her she turns into a statue and will not move. I went to grab her collar to pull her to the door, and she growled and bit my hand, hard enough to draw blood. Actually, I'm almost bleeding through the bandaid I put on. NOT COOL. I was super mad when it happened and I called Hub at work to tell him she needs a new home. I'm afraid that if she will bite me, she could bite Daughter. I just cannot abide that kind of danger in my home. He called his parents and they said they will take her. I hope it works out, because I won't take her back into my house.


Oh well, I guess I'll go make some more yo-yos, if I can work around this gross bandaid.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yo! Yes?*

Hoo boy! I am really excited about this Christmas project, shamelessly stolen from Amanda (if you don't read her blog, by golly you should start).

I have all these yo-yos I started making way back in...uh...2003, I think. Was it? I think it was. Yes, yes, it was '03. My plan at the time was to use them for some sort of little quilt - possibly a mantel cover for Christmastime or something. But at the time we were living in an apartment and didn't even have a mantel, so I didn't rush on the project, and you know what happens...of course it got shoved into a box and put in the craft cabinet.

The fabric is Nancy Halvorsen's Christmas collection from way back when - I don't remember what she called it. It was distributed by Benartex, I do remember that. She is by far my favorite fabric designer, and I bought lots of this collection. During the holidays I have to physically stay away from quilt shops because I WILL buy Halvorsen fabrics, and a) I need more fabric like I need a hole in the head, and b) I can't afford to buy any more fabric, especially at this time of year.

Anyway, these circles have been cut and sitting in a box forever. I had 1/8 yard strips (about 4.5" wide) of each fabric, and traced a Rubbermaid container closest to that size to get consistent circles. Then I just tie off a length of thread, and make a not-very-fancy running stitch along the edge, folding the fabric over to the wrong side as I go. At the end I pull it up and knot it off. Voila, yo-yo!

I'm now planning to get these done in the next few days and make a garland out of them. Awesome! Hubs hates regular garland (I happen to love it, but I will sacrifice sparkly silver garland for the sake of our marital happiness), so I'm hoping this will be an acceptable substitute. Our (artificial) tree is on its way to us from Home Depot, and with clear lights and lots of our old childhood ornaments, I think this will look quite sweet. Stay tuned for finished project photos and a tree-modeling shot!

Also stay tuned for photos of Daughter's new winter hat that I whipped up last night and this morning. I wanted her to have an earflap hat with ties, so I sort of designed one. It's done but currently being bossed into shape on my blocking board (I hope) because the edges were curling. I'd also like to embellish it with some embroidery, maybe, to match her coat. We'll see what happens!

*with apologies to Chris Raschka.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I was all psyched to say "Kate's Christmas Sweatshop is now closed for the holidays" but alas, I forgot I have one more gift to stitch up. The fabric is being washed right now. But, I am happy to report, I finished three gifts this afternoon:

Flannel pants for Mom and sisters.

Pattern: McCall's Easy Stitch & Save # M4136
Size: one each of small, medium, and large
Fabric: Flannel, with elastic and a twill tape drawstring

This pattern stinks. The measurements are from outer space or something. I grabbed it off the rack on a day when Daughter was starting a hissy fit in the shopping cart so I couldn't examine it too closely, but the finished product came out like clown pants, for pete's sake. They are humongous. I am almost embarrassed to give them to my sisters and my mom - I don't want them to think it's a comment on their size or anything! I mean, I understand lounge pants should be comfy and loose, but these are just silly. If you have this pattern or you happen to buy it, be aware you might want to make a smaller size than you would normally. That was my experience, anyway.

Oh well, they are now wrapped and ready to go. Along with all this stuff:

I'm rockin' and rollin' and it's only December 3rd! I've been wrapping things as the orders arrive on my doorstep so I don't have a mountain of stuff sitting around all month. If the gifts are wrapped and tagged, they won't get misplaced and/or forgotten. Unfortunately, all the gifts are going to have to live on the dining room table until Christmas, because if I put them under the tree I'm sure Daughter will take care of unwrapping them in short order.

Speaking of the tree, we did not get one today. We left the house too close to lunchtime and Daughter got very tired very quickly, so we only got one errand taken care of before returning home. I'm off to order one online. That is how much I dislike shopping at Christmas time...we are taking our chances online ordering a tree from Home Depot so we don't have to actually go anywhere. Sad, eh?

Got to run...I can smell the lasagne so it must be just about done. A warm, yummy meal on a cold, yucky night!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

so tired

Wow, I must be totally out of my mind. I actually went out shopping today. Saturday. Saturday, 3 weeks before Christmas. At like, 2 pm.

I went to WalMart, Target, Joann Fabrics, and AC Moore. There are no greater hotbeds of Christmas activity than those 4 places, I'm pretty sure. It took me 3 hours to get through 4 stores, and I knew exactly what I wanted before going in. SO! MANY! PEOPLE! I could never do all my Christmas shopping in real stores. It's bad enough that I have to supplement my online shopping with a few trips to brick & mortar places. At least I was able to go when Hubs was home to stay with Daughter. She would never have held up if I'd had to drag her through all the craziness.

Anyway. So much for my weekend knitting time. I sewed all night, trying to finish up some more gifts (almost done!), and tomorrow is tree day! Yay! Tomorrow is also fix-the-leaky-ceiling-in-the-bathroom day. We'll be cutting a hole in the bathroom ceiling to try and find where the leak is coming from, fixing...something...and then patching the hole. Maybe. Hopefully the result will be a nice, smooth, pretty ceiling and not divorce. (Kidding!) (Sort of.) (No, really kidding.)

Friday, December 01, 2006


I have been knitting lately, I swear. What, you want proof?

Cable sweater for Daughter. Because she surely doesn't have enough sweaters! This is definitely going to need a good dunk before I sew up the pieces, to open up the cables. It looks frighteningly narrow, but it pulls out to the proper measurements for the size (2) so I'm forging ahead. The pattern calls for US size 4 and 6 needles and worsted weight wool so I went up to sizes 5 and 7 because I'm wound up like an 8 day clock and I knit just a wee bit tightly.

I don't know what this pattern is off the top of my head and I'm too lazy to go get the book right now...I do know it's from Knitting the New Classics (which, if you also have it or have ever seen it...those are classics?!? Dude, those are Bill Cosby sweaters through and through. Not so much classic in my book). I'll give full stats when I'm finished. I can tell you the yarn is Patons Classic Merino.

What's this? Another sweater for Daughter? I'm afraid so. I have a sickness, my friends. Can't...stop....knitting...wee....sweaters...

There is a fine line between cute and horrific, and I'm not sure where this yarn falls. It looks better in this picture than it does in real life. I thought it was pretty in the skeins because all I could see was grey shot through with blue and pink. Then I started knitting and the neon-ish orange and yellow showed up. Yikes. But whatever, I was committed at that point, so I finished up the body and knit the collar. It's not horrible, I suppose, just kind of...bright. It will be a good sweater for Daughter to knock around in, and since it's acrylic, I don't have to worry about laundering it. It's about a size 3, so I'm not in a huge rush to finish. I just work on it when I want something mindless.

Early Christmas prezzies! For me! This is Knitpicks Essential sock yarn in Pumpkin and Grass. I ordered a gift from Knitpicks and had to get my order to $40 so I could get free shipping, so I told Hubby I would take care of some of his shopping. I'll stick these under the tree and pretend to be surprised on the 25th.

The weather is supposed to get a little crazy around here starting tonight, so I may get some quality knitting time in this weekend (or sewing time...still have Christmas gifts to finish up). That is, when I'm not chasing Daughter around, trying to keep her from destroying the house.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

we need a little christmas

My uncle's funeral was this morning. It was really, really nice. The priest who said mass knew my uncle and that makes such a difference. It's awkward when you can tell the celebrant never even met the deceased and yet they try to say nice this case, it was very genuine. Apparently my uncle was a member of a group of elderly gentlemen who regularly serve at funeral masses, and they call themselves "The A Team," which cracks me up. My aunt is doing very well, considering the circumstances. I find myself quite consumed with worry for her emotional well-being. She'll probably be fine, but I just keep trying to imagine what it must be like, after 57 years of going to bed and waking up next to the same person...and then having to get up each day and drink a cup of tea and read the paper without that person sitting across the table. What a shock to the system, you know? It makes me sad to think about it. But her sense of humor appears to be intact, and faith is pulling her through.

Still, there have been two funerals too many this year for my taste. :(

I don't feel much like doing anything today. I have changed from my dressy clothes into some relaxin' clothes, and I think I'll make some tea and knit a few stitches. It's warm out (60s) but dreary...a good 'curl up on the sofa and hang out' day.

Here are a couple lousy pictures of the Christmas dress - the camera appears to be on the fritz, or maybe the batteries are dying, I don't know:



The color looks pretty accurate on my monitor - it's a dark sage color. I don't really go for the bright red and green at Christmas. I much prefer the muted tones of pine, dark sage, cranberry, etc., mixed with silver and gold (side note: our first Christmas tree as a couple was decorated in burgundy and silver with white was gorgeous).

The info:
Pattern: New Look 'easy' #6175 (also the pattern I use to make the pull-on pants)
Size: Large
Fabrics: Dress - fine wale corduroy from Joann Fabrics, about 1.25 yards. Bodice lining - leftover calico from making our Christmas stockings a few years back. It's gold with stars.
Buttons: Gold stars with shanks from Joann Fabrics
Mods: only one - I hand stitched the bodice lining down after attempting to machine topstitch it as per the directions. It looked like crap, so I redid it by hand. Much better.

As I worked on this dress, I remembered why I never make anything with gathers. I hate making gathers!! I have lots of trouble sewing straight seams when one side is gathered and one is not. This came out ok, but there was much finger-crossing involved. Oh well, at least it's done and we can try to get an official holiday photo now.

I'm hoping to get our tree this weekend. I suddenly find myself jonesing for some Christmas spirit. I got out the stockings and holders last night, and my Santa tea-light holder, and the Christmas textiles (towels, table runner, hotpads, etc.). I can't actually hang the stockings, though, because they hang from heavy holders that spell out N-O-E-L, and if Daughter were to pull on one of the stockings we'd probably end up at the Emergency Room getting stitches in her head. I'm really wanting to use my Twelve Days of Christmas goblets, too. They've never been out of the box! You guys want to come over for a party?

Anyway, I am hoping for a fake tree this year. I know, I KNOW, it's not the same, but people, can I just tell you that I am STILL finding needles from last year's tree? No matter how much I vacuum there are always more needles. I can't take it. I want a nice, fake tree so I can just swing the branches down and voila! Instant tree! Plus we won't have to water it and have that skanky wet trunk to drag out in a month, the dog won't try to drink from the stand, and Daughter won't be able to pull needles off and then come running to me, crying and hollering "ick! yucky!" when they stick to her fingers. Yes, a nice fake tree. That's the ticket. Anyone know of good deals on about a 6-7 footer? I think I will check out Home Depot and Lowe's. I seem to recall they had good prices.

I'm off to take advantage of naptime. It's a rest day. Hope you all find time for some rest too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

all over the place

I feel terribly disjointed lately. The holidays do that to me. I come unhinged so easily. Nothing is making much sense in my daily life, my projects all feel aimless, and I'm all crazy with the inappropriate anger again.

The other night we decided to give Daughter one of her Christmas gifts early. We figured it was more important that she have the opportunity to play with something educational now than to open another box on Christmas morning, which she won't understand anyway. Plus she was tearing up the family room out of boredom and we couldn't take it anymore. So I went up to the secret gift hiding place and brought down the Parents Magazine Raise the Roof Barnyard. This thing retails for way more than I can afford, but I found several at Tuesday Morning for about 1/3 of the retail price, so I was psyched. I save all the Christmas receipts every year in the clear pocket cover of
my Christmas notebook (I know, so organized, right? I only started it last year to keep track of what we get everyone...we'll see how it goes), but I'd left the receipt with the farm on it out on the counter, because I had to return something else from the same purchase.


We opened the farm set, gave Daughter the 12 animals (which she proceeded to herd and organize), and started pulling out parts of the barn. Sadly, one whole side of the building was splintered beyond repair. You couldn't tell this from the outside of the box, so it was a big surprise. Ok, well, I figured I'd just round up the animals after Daughter went to bed, put it all back in the box, and return/exchange the whole thing. But when I went to the kitchen to get the receipt, it was gone. I called to my hubby, "honey, did you do something with that receipt that was laying here?" There
was a moment of silence, and then he said, "I think I threw it out."

You know when you get that haze of crazy anger, like everything in front of your face turns red or something? Maybe you have better self-control than I do, but I proceeded to scream...yes, I said scream, "YOU WHAT? NO! NO NO NO! HOW AM I GOING TO RETURN THIS FARM? NOW WE'RE GOING TO BE STUCK WITH A BROKEN TOY! HOW COULD YOU THROW THAT RECEIPT AWAY?!?!? HOW COULD YOU???"

Yes, I am a pleasure to live with.

I don't know what that was about. I'm really not like that. I don't want to be like that. And my husband, bless him, didn't say a word. He just went outside, got the trash bag, and dug through the
yucky kitchen garbage until he found the receipt. Then, the next day, he returned the farm to the store for me. I'm such a jerk. I just felt so bad about the broken-ness of the toy. I want so much to have nice things for my child, and we don't have gazillions of dollars to spend, so I find the best toys I can at the best prices possible, and I really thought the farm was a score. I was so disappointed I couldn't even function well enough to speak in a normal voice. How ridiculous is that? It's not like the meaning of Christmas is all about the dumb toys anyway.

Maybe it's still grief that's clouding up my brain, I don't know. I'm trying, I really am.

Anyway. At least my Christmas shopping is done - yep, done, I do it all online - and I even managed to squeak out a gift for us while picking up stocking stuffers at Target yesterday:

Flannel sheets. Covered in "Po-nam" according to Daughter, or "snowmen" for those who don't speak her language. How cute are these? Go get yourself some...only $15 this week at Target, any size. And the flannel is decent, not flimsy and cheapy at all. Plus the elastic goes all the way around the fitted sheet, not just down the long sides. I'm so excited to sleep on these tonight. And I'm praying for some sleep, because every time I closed my eyes last night I had horrible dreams of Daughter somehow getting hurt. It made for a hideous night. Sheesh, what's wrong with me?

Well, I'm off to try and accomplish something today. The pot roast is already burbling away in the crock pot, which is something. Maybe I can get Daughter's Christmas dress done in the naptime that remains...all I have to do is buttonholes and buttons and I'll snap a photo for you all to see. It's quite sweet, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

another goodbye

My uncle passed away last night at 11 pm. This is the last picture I have of him, with my aunt, on the boat ride we took about 2 weeks after Elizabeth was born.

I picture him in Heaven, taking it all in, reuniting with all who have gone before. It's a lovely image, isn't it? I am joyful for him, and cheered to know he is there to watch over my baby.

May he rest in peace.

Friday, November 24, 2006


My great uncle is in the hospital right now. He collapsed two weeks ago at home, my great aunt called the paramedics, and they revived him. Since then he has been slowly dying. My aunt has been by his side constantly. They are the closest things I've had to grandparents since I was 21. He is 85, she is a bit younger. They have been married for fifty-seven years. Fifty-seven. They go to church every single day, and he has been active in the church community for years. He even goes in to count the collection money each day. They have great faith.

I finally got to the hospital today. I've been waiting until Hubs could be home with Daughter so I could go alone. I couldn't believe it when I saw my uncle in the bed and my aunt sitting next to him, holding his hand. He was a Marine, over 6 feet tall, and she was a teeny beauty, about 4 foot 11. Now he looks helpless as a child, and she just looks so tired.

They have three children and eleven grandchildren. Just about all of them have been here, and they had Thanksgiving at the hospital yesterday. All are preparing to say goodbye.

I only stayed in the room for a few minutes, it was all I could bear. I hugged my aunt and she said, "God sure is working strange these days, isn't He?" And then I told her that it's ok, he is going to be with Beth, to rock her and hold her, to watch over my baby for me. We were both crying, and she said this:

"And do you know what she's going to say to him? She's going to say, Welcome."

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I am thankful for so many things on a daily basis it would be impossible to list them all here. But in the spirit of the day, I will share a few. I am thankful for:

My wonderful family, most especially my amazing daughter and husband - my reasons for getting out of bed each day.

The fact that we live in America and not anywhere else. Enough said.

My husband's ability to provide for us so that I can be home with Daughter. We don't have a lot, but we have enough.

My friends, both here and in real life.


The faith that has pushed, pulled, and dragged me through this whole difficult year.

Coffee. And tea.

My God-given abilities (I think I would just die if I couldn't knit and/or sew every day).

There are so many more, but I have to go get cleaned up, get Daughter dressed in her Thanksgiving frock, and head to Mom and Dad's to gorge on Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

well, this week is shaping up to be a winner

Can you believe some lady changed lanes right into the passenger side of my husband's car yesterday?

All I want to know is, what did we do that was so wrong? Why does crazy crap keep happening to us?!?

I am going to the kitchen now to retrieve one of these from the toaster oven. My mother-in-law made them for Thanksgiving Part 1 and they were so decadent they were practically dessert. I highly recommend them if you like sweet, sweet things. I do, and I could really use something indulgent right now.

I sure hope the toaster oven hasn't started on fire or anything by the time I get out there. It would figure.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

another quality post brought to you by insomnia

Well, Thanksgiving part 1 is over. It was fine. Turkey, dressing, blah blah blah. Here is a tip for any of you who are living with a smoker: hanging one of those tree-shaped car air fresheners in the family room to try and hide the smoke smell does not actually hide the smoke smell. In fact, it just makes it hideously obvious that you are trying to hide said odor. Particularly when it is the "new car" scent. Good heavens. We have been home for hours and I still can't get that smell out of my nose.

Anyway, the dress was a hit!

See? Even cuter when modeled by my wee one (shoes are Buster Brown, for anyone who might be interested in that).

I'm a little hyper tonight. I was in bed already but got up because I'm in that state of bug-eyed, spastic know, where your brain can't stop flipping from one thing to another and you feel all nutso. So you're getting the results of it, internet friends, because no one else wants to talk to me at 11:30 pm, including my husband who is snoring away. This is a strange feeling for me because I can almost always sleep on fact, hubs teases me about the fact that I just about always fall asleep before he even comes in from brushing his teeth. Seriously! I'm a super-sleeper.

But not tonight. Which is stink-o-rama because I have so much to do tomorrow. The ironing pile is threatening to attack, the bathroom is approaching a 3rd world level of dirty, I need to go shopping for something to wear on Thursday because nothing in my closet fits me, the walls in the back hallway are spattered with ick from the dog shaking herself off when she comes in from her daily constitutional so I have to scrub those, not to mention the floor back there where we toss our shoes...and we're out of milk and the furniture is dusty and there's unfolded but clean laundry everywhere and oh my goodness I am out of control.

The funny thing is, none of this will make any sense tomorrow.

I guess I'll go google ex-boyfriends or play internet scrabble with some other insomniac. Pleasant dreams, ya'll.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

hooray! and also, phew!

Hooray for Karen of The Big Trade-Off! She brought forth an 8 lb, 10 oz miracle on Thursday. I am on pins and needles waiting for a photo of the little guy. According to her mom and sister, all went well. I probably checked their blogs 50 times on Thursday waiting for the news. I'm not a freaky stalker, really I'm not. I was just so excited for her!

And speaking of pins and needles (ooh, check that segue), I swore I was not sewing/knitting/crafting for the holidays this year, but that, apparantly, is like telling me not to breathe. So I'm now mired in the middle of 5 sewing projects. Two are dresses for Daughter (one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas), and three are flannel pj pants for my mom and sisters. See, I went to Old Navy yesterday to get a birthday gift, and while I was there I cruised the little girl stuff. They had the cutest wee corduroy dresses with coordinating tights. I was sorely tempted, but I put
back the cranberry dress and striped tights, because I figured I could go next door to Joann Fabrics and do it up even better than store-bought. For $10 less than the price of one dress and tights at Old Navy, I got all the stuff to make two dresses. Most people don't find sewing to be economical these days (and for the most part, it's not) but you can still save and be really creative when sewing for kids!

And after a cutting session yesterday and a sewing session today, I have one dress done! Phew!

Yes, this is the same jumper I have made about 6 times. It's an awesome pattern, what can I say? I have it totally memorized now so I just cut and then fly through the stitching. I hit a snag when I realized I had traced one of the facing pattern pieces incorrectly (I trace them onto pattern paper so I don't have to chop up the original), but that was quickly remedied. I'm such a spaz! Anyway, it came out even better than I expected. Here's the info:

Pattern: New Look Kids #6578
Size: 1, but I cut it to the size 3 length
Fabric: Fine-wale brown corduroy (16 wale, maybe?) from Joann Fabrics, 5/8 yard; facings are orange fall leaf pattern calico from a quilt shop
Embellishments: "Favorite Findings" Falling Leaves buttons, purchased at Joann Fabrics (but you can get these in most craft or fabric stores)

I originally planned to sew the leaf buttons in a cascading pattern down the front of the jumper, but I couldn't come up with a pleasing arrangement. I took a cue from a cute Gymboree shirt Daughter has that features little heart buttons sewn across the front, just above the hem. I used two red leaves for buttoning the straps, and then sewed the rest in a symmetrical pattern across the front. I LOVE IT!! I am so pleased with this little jumper. No wonder I keep making it over, and over, and over...

The colors look way better in real life, so I'll try to get a photo of Daughter wearing it to show it off. I'll probably have the opportunity tomorrow, when we head out for Thanksgiving part 1. My mother-in-law decided last year to have her own Thanksgiving on a different day, because her sons both had other dinners to attend on the actual holiday. It works out nicely because we don't have to run from one house to another and eat two turkey dinners. I don't even know how we would accomplish that with Daughter needing a nap. I guess we would have to alternate years, which we have offered to do, but she insists on doing it this way. Well, ok. We're game.

The only bummer is a selfish one on my part, because my father-in-law is a chain smoker (indeed, he has asked us to bury him with his cigarettes and no I'm not even kidding), and now the dress will be stinky. He doesn't smoke while we're there but still. You know how it goes. I suppose I'll just have to wash it and pray all the buttons hang tight till Thursday. I think I sewed them on securely enough.

Back to the machine...Christmas is coming!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

For Karen

Just about a year ago I started on this blogging adventure. A bit after that I stumbled upon a funny, sweet blog written by a funny, sweet woman who was totally whining about turning 30. It turned out she would hit 30 exactly ten days before I did, so I started leaving her comments, sharing in the pain of leaving our 20s. She returned the favor, and we became frequent reciprocal commenters (I totally just coined a phrase, don't you think?).

Then, surprise! We both had unexpected pregnancies, and the bond grew. We rejoiced together, and suffered together. When I had problems with my pregnancy and my thyroid, she led the charge in praying for me and propping me up emotionally. I tried to do the same for her through her difficult moments.

When we faced the tragedy of losing our daughter, she was there again, writing a beautiful, heartfelt post and letting me know that she, and others, were there for me. She is a fantastic person in word and deed, prayer and practice. I have lived the end of her pregnancy vicariously, and I couldn't be more excited for the arrival of her third child, a boy.

She will be heading to the hospital tomorrow morning and should soon have the babe in her arms. People, please join me in prayer for Karen, that she may have a wonderful, beautiful birthing experience. Please also join me in congratulating her family. Karen, good luck! Can't wait to meet the newest member of the Trade-Off family!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

scratch that

Ok, nevermind that last one. I think I got it. I decided it couldn't be that complicated and just sallied forth, starting chart B over before chart A was finished. It seems to be right.

Soooooooooo dark and dreary today. It's the kind of day where no matter how much cleaning and straightening you do the house still looks like a dingy, drab mess. Bleh.

Hope it's nicer where you are.

Monday, November 13, 2006

again with the asking for help

Knitters, I need you again.

I got the instruction book for the Great American Aran Afghan a couple of weeks before Daughter's birth. Then I kind of forgot about it. But I just recently dug it out and have started a square. It's kind of a fun thing to work on as an interlude between larger projects. Except I guess I'm totally dumb because I don't understand the charts for the square I'm making. If you don't know anything about this afghan pattern, click away now. If you do have the instructions and/or if you've knitted this thing, please help me out!

I'm working on the second block, designed by Julie Levy. There are 2 charts for this square. You work Chart A, then Chart B, then Chart A again for each row. But chart A has 30 rows, and Chart B has only 28. So what do I do on row 30 when I get to the middle section (Chart B)?

The instructions say to work rows 1-30 of Chart A twice, then rows 1-15 again. So that is a total of 75 rows, right? I tried to do the math to make Chart B line up with that, but 28 doesn't go into 75. I'm confused. Do I just start Chart B over again and knit row 1 of Chart B while while knitting row 30 of Chart A?

The other squares in the book that have multiple charts all have row counts that divide into each other (ie, Chart A has 8 rows and Chart B has 24, so you do Chart A three times over the course of knitting Chart B).

I feel like this must be simple enough to figure out, but my brain isn't getting it. Am I dumb? How do I knit this thing? I've knitted 29 rows and now I'm just sitting here staring at the pattern. Dur. Help!

(Oh, and thanks for all the kind comments about Adamas! I'm waiting for the rain to stop so I can get outside and take some nice natural light photos of it.)

Friday, November 10, 2006


Adamas shawl, by Miriam Felton (pattern available from Knitpicks)
Finished measurements: almost 72" by almost 36" (I knit so tightly I could probably whip up a diamond if you gave me some coal...I wasn't able to quite stretch it out to the stated measurements in the pattern).
Materials: about 1.5 or so hanks of Knitpicks Shadow in the Vineyard colorway, one US size 5 circular needle (I think 29"), and twelve billion stitch markers.

Indispensible for this project - a row counter. I just use the cheap little red one you can get at craft stores - you know, the one where you roll the numbers. It's a must-have, no question. As stitch markers I used jump rings, which were a whopping 75 cents for a pack of 100 at AC Moore. I did not use lifelines. I'm a daredevil like that. Did I make errors? A couple. Can you see them? I don't think you can.

I know next to nothing about blocking lace (obviously) but I tried. It's tedious, yo. Since I plan to do more lace, I will be heading to the hardware store for some stiff wire. I'm not paying a bazillion dollars for fancy blocking wires when I can just get something off the shelf at Lowe's for pennies.

I have to highly recommend this shawl if you're looking to start knitting lace. It's not a hard pattern to knit if you have a little experience, though I would recommend sitting down in a quiet place (no TV!) to start out. By the end I was able to knit and at least listen to the TV, but I couldn't really look up for fear of losing a YO on the purl-back rows.

Thank you, Miriam, for another wonderful pattern!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

morning thoughts

First of all, is anyone even remotely surprised that Britney is divorcing Kevin? Nope, I didn't think so. I just hope she invested her teen-queen money because I don't know how she plans to revive that career. And now she's raising 2 kids alone. Goodness.

Apparently I have nothing better to do than to worry about celebrities and their marriages.

On the home front, here is my child rearranging the refrigerator:

My kitchen is really not that dark and dingy, it's just hard to take a photo into a lit fridge. This was taken seconds before she lifted a large glass jar of pickles...and dropped it. Onto the floor. Where somehow, it did not break. And I said, out loud, "oh, thank you God!" because I truly did not need to mop up broken glass and pickle juice this morning.

And here is Adamas...almost finished!

It doesn't look like much, but it's getting quite large. I have 1/2 of the last repeat to finish (5 rows) and then the 12 row edge chart. The problem with lace like this is that each row gets progressively longer. At this point I have well over 300 stitches on the needle and each row takes at least 30 minutes to knit. I'm antsy to get this off the needles so I can see it - I think it's going to be quite lovely when finished. I'm finding this to be very addictive and have been planning which shawls I want to knit next with the laceweight I received for my birthday way back in January. It's just such satisfying work...and possibly the best part is that when you're finished, you're truly finished. If you splice the yarn together properly when you join new balls, all you have to weave in are the beginning and ending yarn tails. Awesome.

Well, I smell something unpleasant whenever Daughter walks by, so I guess I'd better go attend to that. Can't wait till she can use the "pah-tee" (as she calls it). The bigger she gets, the more disgusting the diapers become. You know.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Oh my gosh, again with the busy, busy, time to blog.

We live in an older house (1945-ish), which has a yard full of maple trees that were planted in the stone age. They are HUGE and they drop so many leaves it is absolutely unbelievable. I mean it, I didn't think this many leaves existed in the whole world, much less my yard. We have been blessed with some gorgeous weather today and it will continue to be warm (50s) all week, so I've just been a raking fool. Other than tomorrow, when I have an appointment, I will be out there cleaning up the yard every day this week.

There has, however, been knitting in the pm hours. Eagle-eye Ruth guessed it right the other day when I posted a purple lacy blob - I am indeed knitting Adamas. I have 2.5 repeats left of the main shawl body (out of 14 total repeats), and then the final chart for the edges. I should have it finished up by the end of the week, I hope. The only problem is that all the yardwork is roughing up my hands, making the laceweight yarn catch. In a perfect world I'd have my own personal yard crew
to do all this raking crap for me, so I could just knit full time (well, other than watching my kiddo, of course).

Friday, November 03, 2006

don't even bother reading's just stupid

One interesting way in which my grieving manifests itself is this: inappropriate anger at people in the world around me.

On the Monday before my baby's funeral, I decided to return the maternity bathing suit my mom had bought for me on sale at Target. We'd been planning to do some August swimming and I dragged my feet on a suit till my mom finally just bought the silly thing for me online and had it sent to my house. Well, obviously I had no need for it anymore (I hadn't even cut off the tags yet) so I went online and followed the instructions for printing out scannable receipts which then have to be taken to the service desk at a real Target store. It was a pain in the rear, and the two pieces had shipped separately so I had to do them one at a time. Hubbo was with me when we went in to do the return and we were waited on by a young-ish girl, probably in her early 20s. She tried to scan the sheets I handed her and it didn't work so she said we'd have to go over to the gift registry kiosk and do the whole thing again, so she could scan in the code. Hubbo asked, in a reasonable tone, if she couldn't just try to manually enter the numbers. She shot back, "well, that's a lot of work for me."

I was 2 days out from delivering my stillborn child and when I tell you I could have climbed over the counter and throttled that girl with my bare hands and felt no remorse, I totally mean it.

Thank goodness my husband was there to say, in a slightly less reasonable tone, "well, it's a lot of work for us to go and do this all again, so WHY DON'T YOU TRY ENTERING THE NUMBERS MANUALLY."

She did, and lo, it worked. I got my mom's money back and we went on our way. I realize she did not know the situation, but nevertheless, her customer service skills could use some work. She is lucky I was not there alone or she'd have more problems than that.

I started feeling that inappropriate anger again today when I got one of those nasty notices from the bank telling me they were charging me $32 for insufficient funds in my checking account. I freaked because I know there were perfectly sufficient funds in there to cover our bills for the end of the month. When I investigated I discovered that my mortgage payment had been deducted twice, and while there was certainly enough money to pay it once, there was not enough to double it and still cover the other bills.

After being transferred among - I'm not kidding you here - 4 different departments at my mortgage company, I finally got to a gal who could help me. Turns out I had accidentally set up an extra profile in the online payments because when I sign in under MY name, I don't see my husband's profile. It looked like my mortgage wasn't set up to be I thought I should set it up, and avoid missing a mortgage payment altogether because THERE IS NO GREATER FINANCIAL ERROR THAN THAT. Ask me how I know this. But I was wrong, and so they took twice as much money as they needed to, which seriously screwed up other things, like the car payment. The extra profile has been deleted, but when she transferred me to yet another department to ask for my money back, I was told (after holding several times) that I have to submit a written request for the refund. Awwww, come on. Are they serious? Forget that. Turns out I can just leave it alone and we're a month ahead, and I'll just have to juggle some funds around at the end of November.

Then I had to call the bank, because I want my stupid $32 back! It wasn't my fault this happened (ok, it sort of was, but not really because the mortgage company website stinks). And when I called I was feeling that inappropriate anger sensation. I had my speech rehearsed about how if they wouldn't give me back my $32 I would come right down there, so help me, and close my accounts, because there are a lot of banks in this town and I can easily take my business elsewhere. The girl who answered the phone (after I went through fifty-seven menus) must have sensed that in my voice, because they were able to credit my account the $32 "as a courtesy." I should hope so.

That is all. I hope I haven't wasted too much of your day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

maybe I should stick to sewing and knitting

Ow. Today there is pain. My back, my arms, my wrists and hands are all on fire. But I finished the tree! It is cut back to the property line which is good enough for me (for now). Next spring we can go out and clean up a bit more and put down grass seed. I really had to get this done now because a) it is supposed to snow soon and b) the town is sending trucks to pick up yard debris due to the big storm we just had, so I have to take advantage. Normally we would have to pay someone to remove so many branches.

Honestly, I am rather impressed at what I was able to do with 2 hand tools and a rake in just 2
afternoons. Now I am excited to attack the front corner of our yard which is just covered with densely overgrown stuff. This is what happens when Home Depot lets a yahoo like me buy a saw. Whee! For those who asked, I can swing a picture of the saw (and my finished handiwork in the backyard) but a picture of the duck is probably not possible. I don't know of a stealth way to do it as the wading pool is on the front lawn. Seriously.

But anyway, this is not Kate's Lumberjack Blog, it is a craft blog, so here's some sewing for you:

Corduroy jumper for Daughter. Same pattern I always use - I don't have it handy so I can't tell you what it is, but if you need to know, tell me and I'll look it up. Jeez, it looks a wreck here, but in real life I promise I did a good job. I'm a horrid photographer.

Here is a closeup so you can see I used a contrasting calico print for the facings. I still need to stitch the buttonholes and attach buttons. Hopefully this will be done for church this Sunday.

Wee pants! This is also the same pattern I always use, though I'm going to have to start lengthening them. These are just barely long enough for my tall girl. The special thing about these is that they used to be Hub's pants - I cut the pattern from the legs of pants he no longer wanted. Then I got some ribbon trim at Joann Fabrics and stitched it around the legs. Cute!

Wee Christmas pants! It's a little early for these but the holiday season will soon be upon us. These are flannel that I bought a few weeks ago at the shop where I used to work. It's the more expensive quilters' flannel and you can tell the difference. Nice and thick and substantial. These will be nice and warm when the temps really drop.

Lest anyone think I have superpowers or anything, I did not complete these at the same time as cutting apart a huge tree. These were done early last week but I was all miserable and didn't feel like blogging. I wish I could stay awake long enough at night to do a bunch of sewing after cutting down trees, but alas, I cannot.

And in the "it's all about me" category...anyone want to hazard a guess as to what this amorphous blob is? It's a project just for me, me, me. It feels so deliciously selfish to make myself something so lovely. I've made a deal with myself that I don't have to make any Christmas gifts this year unless I really, really want to. So far, I don't want to. So I'm making myself something instead. Dammit, I deserve it.

Too much outside work tired...I'm off to get my kid to bed and then curl up with that blob of knitting for the few minutes I have until my eyes close...........

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

hell hath no fury... me and my bowsaw.

Yes, that's right, I said bowsaw. I went to Home Depot today and bought myself one. Then, when Daughter fell asleep for her nap, I went outside and started to dismantle a dead tree that's been laying in our yard for a year and a half. It fell during a spring ice storm in '05. Technically it is our
neighbors' tree, but as they have 15 dirtbikes, a horse from an old carousel, a duck with its own wading pool, and a trampoline in their yard, we don't figure they are the type of good people who will ever offer to have their tree removed from our property. They also just stand in the doorway and scream at their kids during the warmer know, those kind of folks. Whatever.

Here is what remained after I chopped, hacked, and dragged. I should have taken a picture before I started - the change is pretty big. It has been laying there so long it's just a tangle of viney growth. The tree it landed next to has started to grow around it. It's a mess. We will probably lose the tree in the foreground as well - the back split off during the storm 2 weeks ago. We will pay for that to be removed, but I can do the dead tree myself.

Here's what I removed. The photo doesn't even do it justice. There's a lot of stuff in that pile.

And here's a look at the whole mess. I really want to reclaim the backyard so we can seed it next summer and have nice grass for Daughter to play on.

It was really satisfying to do this work. I just chopped away at the smaller stuff with big hedge clippers, and sawed the branches that were too thick to be chopped. Then I dragged and raked and dragged some more. There's something very cool about the moment when you're sawing a branch and it makes that "crack!" sound before it splits off. I worked until my arms felt like noodles, I could quite literally smell myself (eew!) and I had sweat running down my back (also it was over 60 degrees today, which is kind of why I did it in the first place). I also bitched and crabbed and talked to myself, letting out some pent up emotion that really needed to be released.

Now that I am done I have that crazy high - you know how that is? You work so hard it hurts and then you just feel so...cleansed, or something. My arms are going to hurt SO MUCH tomorrow (I already started taking ibuprofin to head off the pain), my palms are blistered, and I have some scratches on my hands, but it was worth it. I'll be back out there to do more as weather permits. Who knew cutting apart a dead tree could be such good therapy?

(Yes, I was conscious of my safety - nothing could fall on me, the tree is laying on the ground. And I am very careful with my shiny new saw.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

stuff and stuff

You know, I'm usually not one for fact, I hate feeling weak and weepy in general. But quite frankly, I feel like life's been kicking me while I'm down for like, the past year.

Every day I wake up feeling like I'm huddled at the bottom of a dark hole, my knees hunched up and my hair hanging in my face, all cold and wet and sad. And I have to make the conscious decision every day to get up and try to climb out of that hole. Some days - most days, really - I am able to do just that, and I go about my business. But some days the walls are just too slippery and I slide back down into a crumpled heap.

This week was filled with those days. Last night I had to run off and be alone, so after dinner I scooted out to the craft store to get a knitting needle for my current project, then wandered around WalMart almost until closing time. Man, that's a lame and sad thing to do. You ever do that? Just wander WalMart late at night? You'll see an interesting cross-section of humanity.

I bought some stuff, but that didn't make me feel any better. I stopped for drive-thru coffee to bring home to Hubs, and got one for myself but that didn't do anything for me either. Finally, halfway home, I burst into tears. It quickly turned into ugly crying, with the snotty nose and the gagging. I cried loud and I cried hard, until my throat hurt and I could hardly see as I drove through the rain. I was still crying as I pulled into the driveway, so I sat in the car with my head in my hands and let it come.

I started this blog about a year ago now (well, November 1), and I looked back today at that first month of posts. Back then the blog was what I had intended it to be - a lighthearted look at my little life with Hubs and Daughter, and my crafty endeavors. The writing is nice, light, entertaining...and was written by a different girl altogether than the one typing this tonight. I am so glad that a number of you found me here and came back for more. I am so sorry that you've had to get to know me through hearing about the worst year of my life.

Thank you for sticking with me and understanding. Thank you for letting me use this craft blog to share my feelings and experiences, and thank you for your words of support.

I'll be back in a few days with some new projects, some completed projects, and probably some more maudlin words. Here's hoping the next year will be better than the last.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

wee break

Sorry for the lack of post-age around here. I'm having a difficult time right now and don't much feel like talking.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

attention knitters

So I want to make myself this sweater. Anyone know of a pattern?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

getting back to (relative) normalcy

Thanks for your kind responses to our disaster...though quite frankly, it hasn't been much of a disaster for our immediate family. I think God let us off easy on this one because of all we've been through. One or two of you have asked if there is anything far-away people can do. I would say just pray for the people who are still without power, that they may remain patient and allow crews to get the job done. Otherwise, it isn't too bad around here, I don't think. The roads are passable, the supermarkets are open. The main problem is getting all the huge old trees cleared and fixing the power lines. Buffalo is an old city and has (or had) thousands of gorgeous giant trees - that's actually the whole problem with this storm. The leaves weren't finished falling by a long shot, and they caught the heavy, wet snow. That's what caused the breaking of the branches in the first place.

Also, to clarify, this was not the kind of snow you really wanted to go play in. It was too dangerous to be outside anyway. Plus, I haven't bought boots for Daughter yet - it's only October for pete's sake! I have looked at them at WalMart and Target - over the weekend I couldn't help but think of Karen's post last winter in which she advised us all to "just buy the boots!" Karen, you were right. I should have picked them up when I saw them. I'll be doing that this week.

Onward to more fun stuff.

To answer a comment question, the buttons on the blue sweater were purchased at WalMart. I swear, it's true. They have only a tiny button rack but there are some treasures to be found.

I did much knitting by candlelight over the weekend, so there are projects in progress that I hope to show soon. I wasn't going to knit for Christmas this year, but there has been a special request by my bro-in-law's girlfriend for a pullover. How could I refuse?

And today I finished up 2 paid projects:

Fall leaves on a black background

Fall leaves on a cream background

YAY! No more applique! These were a lot of work but they came out really nice, methinks. You can't tell here but the leaves and stems are stitched down about 1/8" inside the edges with King Tut cotton variegated thread in the colors of the leaves. It's purdy. There are 2 because the store I work for has 2 locations - one of these wallhangings will go to each.

The pattern is "The Old Oak Tree" (#338) by Prairie Grove Peddler. It has directions for two different size table runners and this wallhanging (finished size 24" X 27").

I have a bunch of fun projects as well as a bunch of necessary projects on deck. I changed my quote up top there - it used to be from the Beastie Boys (I'm a dork!) but now it's a neat quote I got from somewhere I can't remember. I like the sentiment and am trying to live by it and not purchase quite so much new stuff. Many of you are total thrift-meisters and better at this than I could ever be, but I'm trying. In that vein, I am about to make new king-size pillow cases for our bed from an old fitted sheet that has a tear, and hopefully some curtains for our bedroom from the same sheet. I'm thinking of using some Rit dye for the curtains (the sheet is bright white, 100% cotton). I've never used Rit before but I'm adventurous. Stay tuned for that one.

Also on the boring but necessary front, we decided to cut apart the back pillows on our sofa, wash, re-sew and re-stuff them. The dog has ruined them by laying up there to sleep. I've done 3 of 5 so far and frankly, they look awesome. All I've had to buy is the new stuffing, and that will only end up costing us about $30. That's a lot cheaper and more responsible than getting whole new couches!

Also, I have fabric for Christmas flannel pants for Daughter, some purple corduroy to make her a church dress, and eleventy-billion quilt projects started. I intend to knock down some of the languishing project pile over the winter. And I'm trying to choose a month to dedicate to knitting baby items for the hospital bereavement program - I'm thinking January, for something to work on in the Christmas/holiday aftermath.