Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's a Family Afffair

Has that title got you singing?
It does for me - every time.
You know, when you have children you try very hard to help them shortcut through the rough times.
Especially with music.
I ask mine all the time, "Why are you listening to that crap?"
They laugh.
I get serious.
"Listen, there's Yes, the Allman Brothers, Neil Young, and Tori Amos - all sorts of wonderful artists out there who make exceptional music, and not the vulgarity-ridden crap you're listening to."
Sometimes the lesson takes.
We are nothing if not a family of Tori Amos fans.
All of us - yes, even hubby.
Well, fan is a strong characterization - I would say that he has songs that he really likes, and might even have on his iPod, but he's not worshipper of the Cult of Tori like some of us.
But I've talked about music before, so I won't go on about that. Just know that I don't think all new music is bad, however, so give us some props for having great taste in some new tunes - we are nothing if not music-prescient at times - hello - Skrillex - Grammy nom - kudos dude!
Stick with me here, I'm getting to the segue.
So yesterday I'm in the car with the sometimes angry beautiful teenage girl and my baby boy, and I said to her, "You know, we need to finish watching Family Affair"
She replied, "Yeah, I know."
And then she did something totally unnatural and completely unexpected.
She started singing, "It's a family affair...it's a family affair."
Know that tune?
It's this one:

Was she actually singing.....gasp.....good music???
She was!
And then, of course, I ruin it by trying to teach a lesson.
"You know," I said, "the song I like best by Sly is 'If You Want me to Stay.' That bass line is remarkable." And THEN I proceeded to start singing.
Way to ruin a magic moment, eh?
Sometimes you just have to let them talk without teaching.
Apparently that's happened with her pulling some Sly and the Family Stone out of her back pocket.
She's listening.
I just need to shut up.
Here's s'more Sly to see you out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January Hats

Behold, my pile of January hats.
Thus called because they were crafted in the month of January.


Truth be told, they weren't all made this month.
At least two were knitted in December.
And yet here they sit waiting to be finished in January.
So in my own weird logic world, they are still being "made" in January.
Okay, I'm going with that.
One is for my mother, as I had bought some yarn for her in the spring to make her two hats.
Then I promptly misplaced the yarn.
If you could see my yarn room you'd understand.
Then magically I found a skein, and even though it was blue, and I don't think she picked a blue, but one charcoal and one brown or something like that, I made her a blue hat anyway.
Using, of course, one of my all-time favorite patterns, the Button Tab Hat.
Last night I sat at the table (still watching Netflix, and working my way through the show Kingdom), and I thought, "I really need to get these hats finished. Sure they look awesome, and I feel accomplished to have a stack of hats sitting on the table in my yarn room, but wouldn't they be better served by being finished?"
I had convinced myself.
Now one hat is for a gift, and one was supposed to be a Christmas gift, one is for hubby, and the other for the baby boy (who I call my baby boy even though he will be 21 in April), and then the one for my mother.
So I finished the gift hat, finished weaving in the ends for the baby boy's hat, and wove in the ends for the hubby hat, who promptly put it on his head and then went right out to shovel snow at 9:00 at night.
Wearing the red hat.
Oh yeah, remember that hat?
Yeah, he's claiming it, and I'm cool with that.
So once I got the three hats done, I was down to two (look at me - doing math!) - the Christmas gift, and my mother's blue hat.
Yeah, a Christmas gift.
Since the recipient is only three and not expecting the hat, I think anytime will work so she's in no hurry.
Then I looked at my mother's hat.
By then it was 9:30, and I was tired.
I almost left it, but then I thought, "Dang, tomorrow's her birthday. You have to give her something!"
I finished the hat.
She's getting a hat for her birthday, and not in a color of her choosing, but I know she'll make it work.
Mothers always do.
And soon it will be February, and I will move on to something else.
But hopefully I'll have "finished" all of my hats.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pinterest - I don't know whether to hate it, or love it

I think I'll go with love it.
The newest mind suck.
Or rabbit hole.
Call it whatever you want, but anyone I know who is on Pinterest can't help but be led along one path, only to divert to another path, and then down another.
It's the "Look! A Squirrel!" reaction for humans.
Today I found my latest obsession, and in my obsessive way decided to share it.
This is so awesome - Mason Jar Meals, as shown on the Big Red Kitchen blog.
Oh, I'm in LOVE with the idea of cooking meals ahead and storing them in mason jars.
If you remember, I have plenty of mason jars due to my last obsession with canning (that was before all the freezing).
And my mother gave me all of her canning supplies, in addition to what I purchased, so I have about two racks in the back room filled with jars and lids.
I would also imagine that since you're just putting your meals in the fridge and not canning them, you could reuse the lids. You know that with canning once that seal on the lid has been used you can't use the lid again.
So in love.
I'm totally cleaning out my fridge (more so than I've already done) and making some mason jar meals.
Of course the hubby has to poke that pin in my Pinterest balloon and tell me, "So what do you need all your Tupperware for?"
I hate it when men inject common sense into a conversation.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Today's Menu....


I love apples.
And I love applesauce.
I have a good friend who makes apple butter every year, but we're still working our way through some jam, and as much as I'd love to make it I know that it probably wouldn't get eaten.
But perhaps next year.
Pumpkin butter too, yum.
Today, however, I was using up the last of our apples.
Well, our apples that we bought, not that we harvested.
Although that might be a good future occupation...hmmm....that and a Christmas tree farm.
I tried to use the apple peeler corer slicer, but since the skins were getting soft it wouldn't work, so I spent a good hour peeling, coring and slicing 18 apples by hand. I am making a triple batch.
Next year I'll use up the apples sooner when their flesh is firmer.
There are lots of recipes for chunky applesauce out there, but I've taken mine from The Dutch Oven Cookbook.
Of course then I modified it.
So here's how I make my applesauce, at least this version, modified from the published version:

Six apples of whatever flavor the farmer's market has, or of your choosing, and cut into chunky pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar (I like a lot of sugar)
juice of one orange
the zest of one orange (or as much as you'd like to get from there)
one cup of water
one teaspoon of cinnamon (I like a lot of cinnamon too)
1/8 or so teaspoon of allspice
1/8 or so teaspoon of nutmeg
one cinnamon stick

Heat over medium heat until it starts to sound like it is boiling, and then lower heat to simmer and simmer the mixture uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the flavor sufficiently permeates your house, or until it cooks down long enough to mush, but with enough chunks of apples left in there. (Perhaps I should say, until it's at the desired consistency.) Remove cinnamon stick before serving. Cool slightly and serve warm, or freeze, or refrigerate. Bring for lunch and tease your friends with just one small taste.

Okay, so Julia Child I'm not.
You won't see a cookbook in my future, but I'm telling you this stuff is good.
Well, my youngest and the hubby don't seem to think so, it's too sweet for them, but my oldest has a much more discerning palate, and he echoed my thoughts -- it tastes like apple pie filling!
So what I think I will do with some of this applesauce is use it for handheld apple pies - like empanadas, or pasties - choose your regional name for whatever you call them. Think Hostess fruit pies.
You could even add raisins or nuts to the mixture if your heart desires.
Lovely stuff.
Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

And how long ago was this?

I remember the night that Welcome Back Kotter premiered on television.
Know why?
Because it was my birthday.
My 12th one to be exact, and for that birthday I was given the great present - every year actually until they started screwing up television seasons - of a brand new TV show(s) happening right on or around my birthday.
Remember when you could count on going back to school and also getting those huge September issues of TV Guide that would describe all the new and returning shows?
Now everything's so mixed up throughout the year that I usually end up waiting to watch a show on Netflix about three years after it's been cancelled.
I sure miss the agrarian-based system of television. You know, keep the summers free for farming (show repeats), and we'll premiere the new shows when the crops are in.
But September 1975 - it was a clear evening, and after my birthday dinner and some cake, I was hanging outside with a couple of friends talking about the new show that was coming on that night.
It was a school night - a Monday to be exact.
I was wearing green pants.
I think.
And if I wasn't I will have been - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Enough of the details.
Suffice it to say that we were all pretty excited for "Welcome Back Kotter".
Life was pretty exciting in my town - still is.
It's a hot time in our town, etc., etc.
But from the first I was hooked.
I still love that show even though it's now thirty something years later (stop trying to do the math, I'm old, okay?).
Even after watching it recently (thank you again, Netflix, now quit raising your prices) I was immediately drawn right back to that first viewing and the palpable magic of being there as witness to the birth of a hit show.
Sure it's a little dated, but it's easy to get hooked again, and it had such a great storyline with such memorable characters.
Even my kids have watched it and thought it was a great show, and they're the YouTube generation! Nothing shocks them!
Now which Sweathog was my favorite?
Hard to say, they were all rather quotable, but surely Epstein, or at least his "mother", were memorable.
But who didn't want to be a sweat hog, right?
They were so dang cool.
And for that matter, who knew any Puerto Rican Jews? There certainly weren't any in my hometown.
I'm happy to say, however, that in my world travels I have acquired two gentleman friends who are indeed Puerto Rican and Jewish.
Yes, we have made the Epstein reference in conversation.
It's obligatory.
Sadly, Epstein's mother has written her last note, as Robert Hegyes, the actor who played Epstein, has gone to the big classroom in the sky.
Here's a little bit of the magic that was revealed to the world in 1975.
That was a long time ago, but it seems like yesterday.
Enjoy and remember. Or discover!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sure I'll Eat That Ham

Thank you, dear farmer, for the lovely Christmas ham, but please don't plan on raising those nasty smelling animals so close to my house.
Now I don't necessarily feel that way.
During several years of my childhood there was a pig farm just downwind of where I lived, and on a warm, windy summer day when those breezes were blowing in from Canada they would bring along the fresh scent of pig.
Was it gross?
Certainly, but having grown up in an area where there is a lot of farming (whether it's animal or vegetable/fruit/grain), you get used to the smells.
Rotting cabbage in the fall?
We've got it.
Cow manure?
Not as prevalent as it used to be, but in certain spots you can get it.
(We also have ICE cruising the area at all times looking for illegals, although how diligent they are only their records would show, but based upon the recent stabbing in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I'd say not very. That's a blog post for another time though. We're here to talk about pigs.)
Farming, to be exact.
We need farmers.
There is no argument against this.
How else do we expect to have food?
With farms close by you can always eat fresh (or can/freeze it and save it for the long hard winter).
But Americans are a funny, selfish lot.
We don't mind finding our food in nice shiny wrappers at the grocery store, but we certainly don't want any stinky reminders of where that pretty food comes from.
Farmers can farm, as long as they keep the smell downwind.
That's why I have sympathy for this particular farmer.
I can appreciate the plight of the people across the street, but certainly the town needs to pay attention to how they're encroaching on agricultural land.
And really, do they need more housing?
No, we need more pigs.
Or farmland.
Support your local farmer.
That's all.
Now I'm down off my soapbox.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finding the Magic

Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday.
Were you surprised by any of them?
I guess some were a little surprising - Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids? - congrats - you were awesomely funny.
But the whole "who got snubbed" piece - I haven't been to all that many movies in the past year to really give any original thought to the nominations. In previous years we were frequent movie-goers, but lately I find that even when my desire to go out is there, my flesh is weak and I stay home.
Hello Netflix!
(how's that for Cinéma vérité - pun intended)
I did make an effort this summer, however, to get out to see one particular movie.
And oh how I loved, loved, loved it.
I was really hoping someone would get it for me for Christmas, but no joy.
I did eventually rent it, but I'm really ready to watch it again.
(Gifts are always welcome! Feel free! Ha!)
First off, I love the director. Not that I love every single movie he makes, but I appreciate his artistic vision (not to mention we both feel the same about Ingmar Bergman - he just says it better). I love the mood he presents, I love the font he uses, and sometimes regardless of the subject he just wraps it up in  such an incredibly comfortable package that we're okay with not only our neuroses, but the characters' neuroses (and resolutions) as well.
(That is my objective - or is it subjective - opinion - see Love and Death for the decision on that one.)
Which movie?
This one:
What a magical film, and for any lover of ex-pat 1920s literature it was a dream realized (for both Owen Wilson's character, and the viewers). We got to meet all of our favorites, as they were brought to life!
So congrats to Woody Allen for the nominations!, and for making such a magical (can I say that too many times?) movie that just gets better with each viewing. This is my new Hannah and Her Sisters.
Thank you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Born Too Late

It's pictures like this that let me know I was definitely born in the wrong era.

 Look at the arms on this one. And the ankles! They look familiar (I say as I look down at mine).
I could totally work that hourglass shape, and honestly, it's a bit scary to see that I might actually resemble her. From face to thigh.
Here's the mummified bride. I'd look good too if they covered me with a body length white stocking and then put gauze over the top of me. I suppose this is a precursor to soft lighting.
But really, these photos show that our ideas of what makes a beautiful woman are totally out of whack.
And these photos are from the 1890s!
Anyway, if you want to get a good look at some more of these beauties (and I mean that in a totally non-snarky, I'm living in the wrong century kind of way where women have to be anorexic to be considered beautiful), head on over to Retronaut.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Long Live Rock

Music is such a big part of my life.
I realize that I should probably be listening to more non secular music, but I'm sure the Lord will forgive me for finding inspiration in all types of music.
And music can be inspirational, and bring good feelings of harmony and love.
It also causes us to think.
Sometimes we think about why a particular artist is popular even though they have no discernible talent, can't sing without auto tune, and never perform completely live.
Then there are musicians and artists who you don't have to wonder why or how they're so talented - they just blow your socks off.
Elton John is certainly one of them.
The man is talented - we can't even begin to doubt that.
I remember that for a long time (in the 70s) I didn't really like him.
Because it wasn't cool.
At least to my friends.
Fortunately I'm at the stage in my life where I don't give a right crap what others think (but you will tell me if I've offended you at any point, won't you?) so I listen to the music I like.
And I could never understand why I stopped openly liking Elton John when secretly I adored his music.
His songs are not really just "songs" but more like anthems.
Ones that encourage audiences to sing along.
I've never had the pleasure to see him live, and you know, I'm okay with that.
I hate crowds anyway.
If I could go back in time, however, when his voice was in its prime, there are certain songs I'd want to hear him perform.
So for your listening pleasure here are some great songs with which to start your day.

And this last one I include - even though it's not a complete version of the song - because it really embodies that anthem-like, crowd-unifying spirit of Elton John's music (and, I believe, Bernie Taupin's lyrics - couldn't cook with fire without him). Cameron Crowe really captured that feeling, don't you think?

For the record, I know that Elton John did not sing "Long Live Rock."
I like The Who too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How I spent $300 on 2 skeins of yarn, or shopping at the mall with my husband and teenage daughter

There are some activities in life that should always be done as a solo act.
Monologues immediately come to mind.
Maybe time in the toilet?
Certainly that's an activity that you hope remains something you do by yourself until you're too old to function without assistance.
What else.
Oh, I don't know, maybe.....shopping?
Specifically shopping on a budget?
Any woman (or man, to be non discriminating) worth their salt knows that you don't take your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other to the grocery store with you unless you intend to make a lot of impulse buys.
I'm not saying that it's wrong to have impulse buys - they certainly make shopping enjoyable and less of a chore.
That sponge candy conveniently placed by the checkout at Wegmans? Total impulse buy. And totally justifiable! (Don't know what sponge candy is? I've included a link so you can get a good idea what it is.
If you're British (or Canadian) and reading this, think of Crunchie bars.)
Yum....chocolate.....Oh wait, where was I?
Oh yeah, impulse buys.
So the other night I went to the mall with the long-standing hubby (and I don't mean he's been on his feet a long time, but that he's been hanging around me for close to three decades), and the angst-ridden, angry teenager.
All so I could get two skeins of yarn to make gifts for a swap.
At Michael's.
How much would that normally cost?
Yarn is usually not overly expensive (depending upon your taste), but this yarn cost me $300.
What happened to the budget, you ask?
Yeah, I asked the same question.
It got lost somewhere in the clearance sales at Bon Ton, a department store that is closing next month. I am not even going to include a link because in a short time that Website will no longer be viable.
Sure, sure, I bought a couple of things for myself (at 70% off!), and the hubby got something, and so did the teenager, but dang, all I needed was yarn!
My head's still reeling.
But I sure am loving my new coat.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Slippery When Wet

On an extremely windy, rainy night while thousands lost power, I sat in my kitchen and ripped out/unknit several rows of my hat.

And watched Netflix.
Why yes, that is Murder, She Wrote that I'm watching.
This is another hat using this same pattern I used earlier - I really like it - it's simple and warm, and who doesn't need a red hat?
I don't, not really, but I want one, and since I'm knitting from my stash....red it is!
But this yarn is dangerously slippery on metal needles. No matter how much I mash the stitches together as I'm knitting on one needle, it invariably moves and gets too close to the end on another needle - or in my case, drops several stitches off the end.
Since I knit my other hat with these same needles, you'd think that I would have learned from experience - if the yarn is slippery on metal double points, then switch to bamboo/wood.
Did I do that?
Heavens no.
On this particular hat I had to take out several rows and then do the New Yankee Workshop exercise. You know - count twice, knit once - isn't that how it goes? - to make sure I didn't need to rip out any more.
It's a laborious process at best, but sometimes the only way to fix mistakes.
Exercising patience. Yet another resolution.
And speaking of Yankees, and Jessica Fletcher, next time we head to Maine, which I hope is soon because we loved it there, I hope to have my red hat done.

For your viewing pleasure, here's a gratuitous shot of Sand Beach on MDI.
Love it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Interpretation of Dreams

Not to go all Freudian on you, but have you ever wondered what your dreams mean?
The other night I had a dream that I was in our old library building.
Now we have this brand spanking new library that is up-to-date, state of the art, but like a lot of contemporary architecture lacks warmth.
Here's the current building:

Lots of room, on a good-sized piece of property (donated by a local family), and room to expand if necessary.
Tons of books, and computers all on one floor.
And I love the library, I do, but it's lacking something.
Kind of like contemporary church structures - big and open, but lacking feeling.
Sure it's a pretty picture, and I love the books, but it doesn't feel cozy.
Our old library was housed in a Victorian home owned by a prominent 19th Century citizen.
Here's the old library which is now the current Village government building:

That extension on  the eastern side was added in the 80s (or 70s, I can't recall exactly), but it was in this building that I really came to love reading.
Outside of my first grade classroom, of course.
The second floor was, and still is, used as the Village museum, so only the ground floor was open to patrons on a daily basis - and oh how cozy it was.
Cramped yes, but definitely cozy.
The main room was filled with oak bookshelves, tables, and chairs, and the librarians always encouraged everyone to take as many books as we wanted. Seriously. I used to go there in the summer for the week-long activities, and I recall one librarian whose name escapes me (but it was a male librarian, I do remember that) who told us that if we wanted we could bring a wagon everyday to the library and fill it with books.
I still think about that when I go to certain libraries and they have a limit as to how much you can check out.
I like libraries with no limits.
But adjacent to the stairs in our old library - and just by the entrance - was where I would always find the books I wanted to read some of which are probably not stocked by libraries anymore.
I would read Rosamund du Jardin's novels over and over - the quintissential 1940s/1950s books about young women and growing up.
Sure, life wasn't like that for me, I was a product of the 70's, but I loved those books - and I still do.
I remember leaning against the staircase and turning the upright book rack looking for a paperback that caught my eye, or browsing through the hardcover books on the built in shelves.
You know how you imprint a certain memory or place in your mind and use that as the basis for all future comparable locations?
That's how it is for me with our old library.
I know that's an unfair distinction, and no libraries look like this one did, but for me, it was the best library ever.
Which probably explains why I dreamt about it.
Only problem is, why was I wearing my bathrobe while I was there?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Safe Return - Catherine Dexter

Below is a book I had to get from another library as I believe it is currently out of print.
Sure you can find copies, but remember, I'm not buying books this year.
This story taught me a few things - or at least caused me to explore a bit further - about "Sweaterhags" a phrase that when used will cause your search to be automatically redirected you to "sweater bags."
No, that's not what I said.
Sadly, I can't find a lot of information about these women, but here's what is written on the book jacket:

Catherine Dexter says the story of Safe Return was inspired by a true incident in 1824 on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. "I discovered it while reading a book of knitting patterns from the island and thought, 'This is too good to pass up.'" 
I'm presuming the mitten book she is talking about is The Mitten Book: Delightful Swedish Country Mitten Patterns with Traditional Designs to Use for All Your Hand or Machine Knitting Projects.
Well, that title is quite a mouthful. I'd love to look at the book, but sadly I believe the knitting level for the mittens is beyond my skill set. Interlibrary loan? Possibly.
That's how I got Safe Return, and here's my short review:

Safe ReturnSafe Return by Catherine Dexter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're a knitter, you'll love this book. If you're not a knitter, you'll still love it. It's a sweet little tale about an orphan girl who lives with her aunt and uncle on a Swedish isle. Ursula, the young girl, does not know how to knit, and everyone on the isle knits. Even the men. This causes her a lot of anxiety, and adds to her feeling of being an outcast amongst the island-born natives. As Ursula's aunt prepares to leave for her annual pilgrimmage to Stockholm to sell sweaters at the market, Ursula's fears of being orphaned by yet another mother figure are all too present. For adults this is a quick, yet enjoyable read, and for the younger crowd this is a good life lesson in self-sufficiency and faith. That this tale is based on a historic event makes it even more interesting, and the author has added depth to the supporting characters so that Ursula's fears and daily anxieties are much more tangible, and all too real.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the year of living frugally

Every year new resolutions are made by so many people.
Personally I think you can start each new day with a resolution, or each week, etc., but there's something about kicking off a new year with new goals.
This year I am attempting to live more frugally.
Something, I might add, that I should have been doing for years.
Alas, better late than never.
Now my latest guilty pleasure (but is it really pleasurable?) is watching the show Hoarders on Netflix.
Wow, way to make me repulsed, feel superior, horrified, and saddened all at the same time, A&E. You go.
As I forced my way through show after show I began to recognize certain of these compulsive traits in my own behavior.
For me, however, my brain is wired differently - I can throw stuff away once I get off my lazy butt and do it. And garbage belongs in the trash can, and not on my floor. Yuck.
I do hoard food though.
Last year (or was it 2010?) I bought a big freezer at Lowe's and as it was on sale, had free delivery, and combined with my military discount (10%) I got a really good deal.
I proceeded to fill up all 20 cubic feet.
That's a lot of space to fill, but by golly I did it.
And then there was the pantry.
I live in an old house, ergo I have a really big pantry.
Closet space is sucky, but room for food storage? I've got it in spades.
Is that full too?
Sho nuff.
And books, wowee, do I have books.
So many - and in so many places - that I checked out a book from the library because I couldn't find my copy in the house.
It's here somewhere, I'm sure, but where?
Yarn is everywhere too, but let's not go there shall we.
My new year's resolutions couldn't have come at a better time. (Like at the beginning of the new year - odd how that happened.)
They are simple enough in theory, but it's the execution of them that kicks my butt.

  1. Create a meal plan. And stick with it. There is enough food in the freezer for several, a lot, too many meals, so go through that and figure out what to eat each day. Now as my red-headed friend would say it's probably better to create meal ideas instead of identifying them with specific days, but we hadn't had a chance to huddle over my idea since we were on break. I do see the genius of her plan, however, I had already enacted mine. So far, so good. The meal plan has accomplished several goals: (a) I have spent less money (only $36 to be exact) on eating out in two weeks; (b) we have been eating good, wholesome meals from the food that is on hand; (c) my grocery bills are 50% less than what I normally spend/waste every two weeks. What will I do when my private stock is depleted to dangerous levels? The hoarder in me is avoiding thinking about that, but I do know that Fort Drum will be holding their first commissary case-lot sale in May. The way my luck goes it will probably be the weekend we have Commencement, and you know I'll be stressed with that. But yes, I will drive three hours (or so) for a case lot sale, and this time I'm bringing the truck. The last few we went to my Subaru was completely filled except for the front two seats. Don't judge.
  2. Buy no new books. Or old ones. Or any! This one is just as tough. My theory has always been that since I work hard for my money (a la Donna Summer), I should be able to treat myself. Thank you Amazon Prime for enabling me with even faster shipping. So I have been going to the library. Like this is a new concept, right? But I've been checking out cookbooks, and trying recipes, and getting free books through my Kindle, and deleting any emails I get from Crafter's Choice, Barnes and Noble, Interweave Knits, Amazon, etc. STOP TEMPTING ME! I will resist. I'm kind of digging the cookbook from the library thing because I try a recipe, and if it's a success I actually write it down on a recipe card. Remember those things? Sure, from back in the stone age. And let's be completely honest - I also own about 40 hundred cookbooks (that's a pretty accurate count), so I should be using those too. And a big shout out to online recipe sites such as allrecipes. Love it. You're the best. Plus, I work at a college - did I tell you how long we can check out books for? A year. Yes, 365 days. And then if they're not returned - automatic renewal. Love it! Apparently the librarians know that faculty (which I'm not) get cranky if asked to think outside their bubble, so they've afforded this courtesy to all faculty and staff. Talk about blessings! And free Inter-Library Loans! WorldCat is our oyster.
  3. Impose immediate yarn diet utilizing the same principles as the meal plan. Somehow writing things down helps keep me focused, so it's good for me to think about what I want to make. How many times have you seen a project, bought the yarn, and then by the time it gets into your home you forget what you were going to make? Raise your hand, I can see you out there. Of course I signed up for the Valentine's Day yarn swap through Natural Suburbia. It's not like I'm buying for myself, right? I'm purchasing a gift of some sort for my swap partner. (Hoarders always have a remarkable ability to rationalize any situation.) Knit, knit, knit, and listen to audiobooks courtesy of the Monroe County Library System. You rock. Now see how two of my resolutions meld together? I'm so awesome.
And here we are in the middle of January - so far, so good. I'm feeling good about everything, enjoying the idea that I don't have to come home and stare into the fridge/freezer and decide what to make. Or give up and get McDonald's. Did I tell you my pants are not as tight? Hmmm...I wonder if there's any correlation here. Let me ponder.
I'll have to continue to monitor my progress, and I'm sure I'll backslide, but I am resolute!
What have you resolved to do this year?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And I'm still reading

Last year I created a very unhealthy challenge for myself.
I decided to read 175 books.
I'm not very good at any kind of math - even simple arithmetic - but even I could figure out that 175 books in a year equates to a book every 2 days.
Was I crazy?
Did I change the amount?
You betcha.
One hundred books seemed a more manageable goal, and I ended up reading about 120 or so.
This year I decided to push my goal up a bit - not quite into the 175 range again - but this time to another manageable goal.
101 books.
That I am pretty sure I can accomplish.
It's actually pretty cool to keep track via GoodReads because it's great to look back on books I have known.
And loved.
Some of them anyway.
You too can join the challenge - if you're up to it, although I'm falling a bit behind with only five completed books this year. That's a book every three days! Oh the horror!



      2012 Reading Challenge

          2012 Reading Challenge


        Julie has    
             read 5 books toward her goal of 101 books.





        5 of 101 (4%)

          view books



Monday, January 16, 2012

...and so it began

The year 2012 began with a right punch in the face.
My mother passed out in church (we go to different ones), and I received a call at home (I had actually skipped church that day - serendipity? - I think so otherwise I would have still been at my church), so I was at home to take the call at 11:03.
Exactly at that time. I remember.
I went down to the hospital and actually got there before she did - the ambulance crew was taking their time, giving her an EKG, etc.
So I waited the hour, marveling over the varying degrees of social aptitude and personal hygiene displayed by many of those who live around here. Yeah, it's interesting, but that's a blog post for another time.
My mother was eventually transferred to a hospital in the city where she stayed for the week.
Happy New Year's Day!
I'd like to say that knitting helped calm me down, but I felt like a caged lion...or hippo....I'd go with the hippo. I was too antsy to really focus, so it took me almost an entire week to knit this simple hat. I mean, I am a slow knitter at best, and extremely inattentive, but that was much too long a time to take for that hat. (Now ask me if it's actually finished, as in ends sewn in, etc. - you guess the answer.)
I had been off of work for two weeks already (our annual shut down period - love it!), so being out of work during a week when I had intended to catch up was really not on my to do list!
Fortunately my boss was not at work that week, or my guilt/anxiety level would have been even higher.
Anyway, so far all is well, no heart attack, but we're proceeding cautiously. My mother will be turning 81 at the end of this month, so it's time to slow down. Living in a place where it snows almost six months of the year doesn't help either, as she really shouldn't be out in the snow/cold/ice, so I'll be doing her grocery shopping for a while.
Such is the life of the youngest/only daughter/only one living nearby.
Fortunately my husband is very patient with her although she talks enough to drive a man (or woman) to drink.
Hmmm, that could explain all his beer drinking....
So there's my saga for the beginning of 2012.
From here out let's hope it only gets better!