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December 2009

It's Working

Only one more week until Christmas. . . and my efforts to reclaim Christmas for myself are working!  Oh, I'm busy.  And I've still got lots of things to do before The Big Day.  But I'm not stressed like I usually am at this time of year.  I am enjoying the busy-ness and the festivities.  I'm having fun.  So, going into "crunch-week" I'm going to keep this sentiment in mind. . .

Frost this 

Another card I found at Barnes & Noble.

Of course, we just put up our tree last night (it's not decorated yet -- we're waiting for Erin's arrival on Saturday).  I haven't mailed out any cards.  And I haven't baked a cookie!  But that's okay.  I'm surrounding myself with decorations and lights and movies and events and music that are adding energy to my days.

I also finished one more hand-knit gift!  This one is for my friend, Sandie.  Green thumb hand warmers for my great gardening pal!  Couldn't be more perfect. . .

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I used Sundara Yarn Aran Silky Merino for these mitts.  Mmmmmmm.  Gorgeous yarn!  These are very luxurious little hand warmers, and I think Sandie's going to love them.  This is such a clever little pattern -- with a great fit.  Quick, too!  I think they're especially perfect for gardeners!  Here's my Ravelry link.

And, now. . . on with my list!


Well, December is spinning out of control.  I mean, how did it GET to be December already. . . let alone MID-December?  And in the midst of the chaos that is my calendar, my son is blasting through his senior year in high school.  It goes so fast.  In the blink of an eye!

Blink.  Senior pictures . . .


Copyright Jeff Mitchell.  Used with permission.

Blink.  Hockey season. . .


Blink.  Winter formal. . .

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Blink.  College decision. . .

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Congratulations, Buddy!  The college-of-your-choice AND an assist (that was a true thing of beauty) all in one day!  Blink!


Jenny thinks she and Brian are both "puppies" in our pack.  She likes to do whatever Brian does. . . and she vies with him for our attention.  She insisted on having her own senior pictures done.  This is her "yearbook shot". . .

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We haven't told her, yet, that she won't be going off to college in the fall. . .

Watching Christmas

When I was a little girl, I got so excited about Christmas "shows" on the television.  Absolutely giddy, in fact!  I would mark on the calendar when my favorite shows were going to be aired. . . because, back then, you watched the show when it was on. . . or you missed it completely.  No DVR.  No DVD.  No Internet.  You got One Chance. 

This was my favorite.  I never missed it!

Of course, by the time I had my kids, "Rudolph" was available as a recording. While I never got enough of "Rudolph" as a child, I certainly had my fill as an adult!

My sister and I discovered "White Christmas" when we were in our early teens, and we loved it!  I still watch this one every year (on DVD!) -- and I think my sister does, too.

It wouldn't seem like Christmas without Bing!

Tom and I have always loved Ralphie and "A Christmas Story."  We used to watch it - just the two of us - once we'd put the kids to bed on Christmas Day.  Now, the kids love it just as much as we do.  In fact, it's one of those movies that has wormed it's way into the family lexicon:  fra-gi-le. . . you'll shoot your eye out. . . it's a Major Award. . . he lay there like a slug - it was his only defense. . .Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie. . .

My current favorite Christmas movie, though, is this one. . . "Love, Actually."

A bit sappy. . . but perfectly fun.  And. . . who can resist Hugh Grant dancing through the halls!

I still love watching Christmas movies!  What's your favorite?

Fa La La La La La La La La

As we Deck the Halls this season, Monique is hard at work. . .

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modeling seasonal head-wear.  Don we now our gay apparel. . .

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Fa-la-la La-la-la La La La. . .

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I've been doing some gift knitting lately.  I don't get really stressed by the whole gift knitting thing.  I have some ideas.  If I have time, I knit gifts.  If I don't have time, I don't worry about it.  (I always have a Plan B when it comes to gift knitting!)   So . . . Monique has also been hard at work with her "real" job -- Modeling Hand Knits. 

Hats 001

This hat (Ravelry link here) - for my niece's boyfriend, Chris - is the fabulous Thorpe pattern from Kristen Kapur.  Last year, I was a Thorpe-Factory!  I turned these hats out for EVERYone.  But Chris, being "new" this Christmas, missed last year's surge.  I tried out Knit Picks' City Tweed for this hat (in the "Orca" colorway) -- and I really like it.  It's soft, and nice to knit with, too.

Neck warmer 002 

This neckwarmer (Ravelry link here) is for my brother-in-law, Kurt.  The pattern is called Textured Cowl -- but this is Not a cowl.  It is a Neckwarmer.  I learned, as I was knitting this, that the word "cowl" has a negative connotation among the testosterone crowd.  "Neckwarmer" is the preferred term.  Again, I used Knit Picks City Tweed.  The colorway on this one is called "Cottontail" -- but I discovered that the testosterone crowd much prefers the word "Tan."  So. . . this is Tan Neckwarmer.  Not a Cowl-in-the-Cottontail-colorway.  Important distinction.

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And this hat (Ravelry link here) is for my son's girlfriend, Kim.  It's another Mondo Cable Cap by Bonne Marie Burns, and I used more of the Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool in the Berries colorway for this one.  When I made my own Mondo Cable Cap, Brian ASKED me to make another for his girlfriend.  How could I resist?  This is a great pattern, and knits up very quickly.

So, as Monique says. . . Strike the harp and join the chorus!  Fa-la-la La-la La La La La!


This past weekend was what I call a "crush" weekend.  I'm sure you've experienced it, too.  There are only 2 or 3 "good" weekends before Christmas. . . so all kinds of events and activities get scheduled at the same time!  Parties and open houses and performances and luncheons and cookie exchanges . . . all layered on top of the "usual stuff" -- like hockey games and winter formal  -- and the "holiday stuff" -- like shopping and putting up the tree.  It's holiday insanity at it's best.  An exercise in making-it-work; in fitting it all in.

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So.  That was my weekend.  Crushing.  And on Friday night, I was tired by the time we headed out to the fourth event of the day.  I was worried that I might not have the energy or stamina for . . . one more thing.  But walking through the cold, snowy streets of downtown Kalamazoo was nice.  Really nice.  (Being fortified by fine food and drink and plenty of merriment from Tom's work party helped, of course!)  And then, I saw this -- our destination -- and my step quickened a bit.

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I had never seen Bela Fleck and the Flecktones live before.  And, wow!  What a show!  It was fabulous.

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It was wonderful to sit with Tom and just let the fabulous sound of the Flecktones (and their guest artists, Alash, a group of Tuvan throat-singers) wash over me.  It was relaxing.  It was peaceful.  It was perfect! 

So I didn't get my tree up.  I didn't finish my shopping.  I didn't do much wrapping.  I haven't signed a card.  I didn't bake any cookies.  But I was. . . crushed by fun!  And for me, that's what it's all about this year!

(Here's a little sample of the Flecktones. . . with the Tuvan throat-singers.)

That's the Spirit

Here's a reminder for you.   As holiday obligations and a sense of urgency begin to wreak havoc with your patience . . . get into a little holiday spirit!

Shaken not stirred 

This is a Papyrus card I picked up at the grocery store to send to a friend.

Enjoy some holiday spirit this weekend ---- however you like it!

Snow Day!

It's a snow day here in West Michigan.  Time to dig out the boots.  The REAL boots, mind you. 

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The form-over-fashion, get-the-job done, waterproof, snowproof, warm-lined boots.  Because there's a whole lotta snow out there. . . and more falling.

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I'm a little nuts, but I like snow.  At least, I like it until February.

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It makes an otherwise-dreary landscape a little more interesting.

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The bleak sky is just a bit more palatable with a glittering of snow.

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Sure, this is no fun. . .

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But, hey. . . it's not my car!  My son is young.  He has a day off from school. He can deal with it.  (My car is snug and dry and snow-free in the garage.)

You know who especially likes the snow? 

Snow day 036 

Jenny!  She LOVES the snow.  She buries her head in the snow and "listens" . . . for whatever is going on under there.

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I'm looking forward to a cup of tea and some knitting.  THAT's the way I like to spend a snow day!

Snow day 027

Let it snow!

A Bright Spot

When I was a little girl, I loved pretty much everything about Christmas.  One of my favorite things, though, had to be Christmas lights.  I remember being so excited about this outward show of holiday spirit.  I loved driving around town, seeing the lights.  We always had colored lights on our house -- outlining the roof line.  I remember my Dad being a bit Scrooge-y about having to put the lights up. . . but he did it anyway! 

I still love to see Christmas lights on houses.  We don't do much to light up the exterior of our own house, though.  Just some entry trees that are easy-peasy.

Lights 014 

Jenny and I go for a walk every night before dinner.  It's dark when we go out now, so Jenny wears a little light on her collar (Tom says she reminds him of the Hound of the Baskervilles out there. . . with her blazing light!).  I enjoy seeing all the Christmas lights.  Last night, I took my camera with me on our walk.  The photographic results:  Bad!  I didn't have my tripod, and I did have an antsy dog on a leash.   But you'll get the general idea.

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Most of the lights in my neighborhood are white.  When we first moved here, Tom and I used to joke that it must be in the covenants that only white lights were allowed. . . but they really do look pretty!

Lights 023e 

Lawn deer are very popular here, as well.  When these kinds of lights first go up, Jenny notices -- and thinks they're real!  She growls at them.

Lights 026e 

About a mile from my neighborhood, Jenny and I reach our turning-around point.  This is a different neighborhood, and colored lights and lawn displays are more popular here.

Lights 027e

A lot of people even display "Christmas cards" in their yards.  I know that this photo doesn't really show the card. . . because it's so blurry. . . but I like the effect of all the lights kind of blending together.  (The big white blot to the right is one of those cards.)

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Some displays get pretty elaborate.  This one has something-for-everyone!  Colored lights, white lights, manger scene, Snoopy card, deer, flag!  It's all there!

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I really enjoy my walks in the dark at this time of year.  The lights provide a bright spot. . . when it's so dark so much of the time!


I got a few questions yesterday about the softness of the Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool I used in my Felicity Cowl.  Let me just say. . . it is soft.  Really soft.  Like Malabrigo-soft.  The skeins include a generous 250 yards -- for about $10 a skein.  I love this yarn!

No Sleeves!

Now that I've finished The Twelve. . . here come all those pent-up little projects -- the Not Sweaters --  I've been dreaming of knitting!

Cowl 003 

First up is the Felicity Cowl.  (Here's my Ravelry link. ) I had originally intended to make this for my trip to London, but I ran out of time.  

Cowl 002

I've never knit a cowl for myself before -- but I'm so pleased with this one, I'll definitely try some more.  What a luxurious accessory!  Warm, soft wool (Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool -- a Michigan product! -- in the "berries" colorway).  A great pattern -- (opposing cables and short-row shaping) -- that was fun to knit.

Cowl 005

I love everything about this cowl!  The fit, the feel, the color, the design.  And. . . best of all . . . no sleeves! 

The Refiner's Fire

When I married Tom, I got more than a life partner.  I also got a whole new set of hobbies and interests.  Fly fishing, for example.  Chemistry.  The Grateful Dead.  Beer.  Handel's Messiah.

Tom first sang Handel's Messiah in high school.  It is deeply embedded in his psyche -- and, now, in mine, too.  As an adult, Tom joined a local Oratorio Society just so he could continue singing the Messiah -- and he did, for many, many years.  I have seen Tom sing in the Messiah countless times, but I have never seen the Messiah performed WITH Tom, as an audience-member!

Until this weekend.  This weekend, the family Messiah-baton was passed. . . as Tom and I and my Mom watched Erin perform the Messiah for the first time!

Erin's messiah 020e 

It's so challenging to take decent shots from the audience!  Between other people's shifting bodies, and the cellos, and a bobbing bassoon. . . this was about the best I could do!

Erin is a vocal performance minor at Denison.  She sings in the Chamber Singers there, and this year, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, Denison's Chamber Singers and Concert Choir combined forces with the orchestra to perform the Messiah.  It was wonderful!

And, best of all, Erin was a soloist!

Erin's messiah 004

She sang this. . .

Erin is a tiny little thing. . . but she has a Big-Woman-Voice.  Surprisingly powerful!  (Not quite like Sarah Connolly, here, but quite fabulous all the same.)

Erin's messiah 011e 

This was a wonderful way to celebrate the season.  And to see something come full-circle in our family was just really cool!  Tom couldn't have been more pleased -- to see his "girlie" perform the music he loves so dearly.  

Erin's messiah 027e 

(And Tom, to his great credit, was not one of those annoying former-Messiah-singers in the audience who sing along. . . out loud.  No.  But, unfortunately, that guy was sitting behind us. . .)

And -- special thanks to my Dad this weekend, too.  He stayed at home with Brian (who had a hockey game -- where he scored a goal!) and Jenny -- so Tom and my Mom and I could spend the weekend in Ohio - with our little mezzo-soprano.