Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Four Letter Word

There's another four-letter word that I'm banned from using (or spending too much on): book.
Fortunately, Major Knitter is cleaning out a lot of her old books (wow, what a concept), and gifted these to me.
I'll read them, and pass them along.
A lending library with no due date.
How's that?
If anyone wants to dib something, let me know!
Of course you have to wait until I read them first.
Can someone come over and clean my house so I have more time for my hobbies?
Pretty please?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Springtime KAL

Anyone in the mood for a KAL?
I received an email from Red Heart - hey, don't judge, they have good patterns - announcing their spring KAL.
They took votes, I guess, and decided to do Kate's Shawl based upon the shawl Kate Middleton, or rather Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was photographed wearing at a supermarket in England.
Here's Kate in her now infamous shawl:

The KAL begins March 28, and honestly this looks like it might be a fun spring project.
It's done on size 8s with four skeins of Red Heart Soft Yarn, so you know the cost won't exceed $20 unless you substitute more expensive yarn.
Here's the Red Heart version:

I'm even considering doing it in the green color just because a grass green is a good spring color (although they used one called Dark Leaf - slightly darker, I suppose).
I fear their green color may make me look bilious, and I've looked at options on the Web, and I do think I'll go with the grass green. I suppose I should go to the store and see if they have it.
That would be too hard.
The only part that looks a little fiddly is when working the ruffles - you have to pick up and knit 144 stitches (yikes!) for the bottom ruffle, and 285 (egad!) for the top. Otherwise the body of the shawl is a simple 2-row pattern repeat.
More information can be found at the Red Heart blog.
Let me know if you're thinking about doing this.
I think I just might.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Homeward Bound

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On our way home.

We got home, unpacked, started laundry, and played with the dogs and cats who missed us.
And went to work on Monday morning.
That was tough.
We were glad to be heading back, sorry we couldn't stay longer, but a whirlwind trip can create just as many memories as a longer one.
And now we can talk trash about how we traveled through eight states (and DC) in four days and drove over 1,200 miles.
Oh yeah.
I don't think we'll be doing this again anytime soon.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


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Early Saturday morning.
New York City.
Fog covers the buildings, and a misty rain continues to fall.

And I'm first up to drive.
It did give me a chance to listen to my music.
That's our rule, as I've said before, whomever is driving gets to choose the music.
Everyone else will listen to their music on headphones.
Know what this means?
I can sing as LOUD as I WANT when I'm driving, and it disturbs no one.
Although I do wonder what people think when they see me singing because oh yes, I'm sure you can see me singing.
I also had an opportunity to listen to the soundtrack for Godspell, and as I listened it allowed me to relive the show from last night.
As an aside, don't you think it's sad that the lowest gas prices we saw during our entire trip were on the New Jersey Turnpike?
It didn't take us too long to get to the baby shower - well, over 4 hours, although we did arrive 30 minutes late.
No worries.
We got there.
That was the mission.
The shower was already in session, and it was okay.
I had the presents shipped to the future grandma's house, and she kindly wrapped them for us. I also brought a pair of baby booties from Major Knitter for the future mother (she loved them a lot, by the way).
Here is the guest of honor opening her presents:

Let me tell you, I hate perfect pregnant women. You know the ones, they never gain more than they're supposed to, carry only the baby, and can fit perfectly in their original size clothing just made "maternity" by addition of a little extra fabric.
That was never me.
Seriously, love you T, you're a gorgeous mother-to-be.
And here's the ecstatic future grandmother - she's the one taking my picture back.
It was nice to meet up with people I haven't seen in, oh six years.
Here are Kathy (standing) and Audrey (in the chair).

It was great to visit and it made me miss living in Virginia.
We didn't run into too much traffic either which is what usually snaps me back to reality and kills that particular daydream, so that whole conversation hubby and I had about, "Could we live here again," was even more relevant.
Of course my youngest wants to move back to Northern Virginia because she likes the shopping there.
Uh huh.
Mother-to-be chose to have a book-themed party, as she wanted to build up her baby's library.
She also has some very generous friends.
Here's the count: 90 books, and 45 blankets.
So many blankets.
Her godmother (also her aunt) gave her four huge bags of blankets, bath towels, and clothes.
What was even nicer was that a lot of the blankets she received were handmade by either her godmother or a family friend.
Great heirlooms, for sure.
Here's the Corduroy cake (yummy).

And the future grandmother made some delicious peach punch.
I told her to give me the recipe.
She didn't.
I did, however, find it on the Web.
It's a Taste of Home recipe.
Here's what you need to make Peachy Lemonade:
10 ServingsPrep: 10 min. + chilling


  • 8 cups lemonade
  • 2 cans (5-1/2 ounces each) peach nectar or apricot nectar
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened sliced peaches
  • Fresh mint sprigs, snapdragons and lemon balm


  • In a 3-qt. glass pitcher, combine the lemonade and nectar;
  • refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, stir the lemonade
  • mixture; add frozen peach slices. Place mint sprigs along the sides
  • of the pitcher and float the flowers on top of the lemonade. Yield:
  • About 2-1/2 quarts.
You know Goya carries a peach nectar, and my friend used the Simply Lemonade you find in the refrigerated section to mix with the nectar although she didn't add the flowers or lemon balm, and that's okay.
I'm sure if you made homemade lemonade and added that the taste would be completely different.
I think this will be a staple at my picnics over the summer.
It was a great book-themed party, and a good time visiting with long-time friends.
I thought I'd have time to knit at the party, but I was so busy eating, drinking, and talking that I just didn't get to it.
At the conclusion of the party when almost everyone had gone home, the future grandmother took out the invite list to check over who had come and who had not.
Audrey said, "It's a good thing you made it, Julie, otherwise there'd be a black mark next to your name!"
Now that's funny because it's true! There would have been hell to pay if we had not gone down to Virginia.
I'm glad we did.
And now we just have to wait until April to find out if it's a boy or a girl.
This was worth the crazy trip.

Friday, March 09, 2012

NYC, Part Two

You know how a secret is not really a secret, it's available for everyone, yet it still feels like it's a secret? Maybe I'm not explaining this well enough. It's like the difference between being ignorant and being stupid. When you're stupid, there's no excuse, but when you're ignorant, well, you just don't know (or know any better) until someone points it out to you.
Even after having spent over 20 years in and around the military, I forgot about the USO.
They served me Thanksgiving dinner in Jacksonville NC in 1983 - without them I wouldn't have had anything. Nothing other than the chow hall, if it was even open that day. I'm sure it was, but still. Gotta love the USO.
And I've always had a deep respect for the USO. They are bi-partisan in all things, staffed primarily by volunteers, and are there to support the troops and their families. Period.
While in Connecticut, I was angsting to Major Knitter about my need to get tickets to a Broadway show so we could take the SIL out for her birthday.
And of course I was dying to see Godspell.
But really, it was for her.
That's why I chose Godspell.
(Do you see where this is going?)
So as I'm telling Major Knitter how expensive the tickets were for the show, she said, "Go to the USO."
Both hubby and I kind of stood there, catching flies (my normal pose), and said, "Duh. We never thought of them."
Major Knitter dialed the phone right then and talked with someone at the front desk, and then put the phone in my hand and told me to ask them the questions I needed answered.
Come to find out, the USO is in the Port Authority bus terminal three blocks up from our hotel.
Told you it was in a good location.
We had to go there, and what a great place.
Staffed by volunteers, you do need to have a military ID to get in, and also to use their discounts, but they have over 10 pages of discounts on Broadway shows, as well as information about other military discounts in the NYC area (restaurants, the zoo, Empire State Building, things like that).
And to think that we just did not even consider the USO.
I'm appalled at my ignorance and lack of forethought, but hey, I didn't know what they offered.
Now I do, and you can bet I'll be back there.
When we went there we didn't think we'd be able to get the tickets I we wanted, so we discussed what shows we could go see.
I've been dying to see Mary Poppins - you can imagine how thrilled everyone was for that.
Second choice was Jersey Boys, but that's playing Rochester next month (and I really need to get tickets), so I'm satisfied seeing that here.
They did give us information on getting discounted (I hope they were) tickets to see Godspell, but said it wasn't available on Friday nights.
Now I'd love to tell you that I didn't get my hopes up to see this show before we came to NYC, and I'd also love to tell you that I didn't listen again and again via youtube to one of the songs from the show sung by the lead, and I also love to tell you that I'm okay when I don't get my way.
Unfortunately, none of those are true.
That last bit is more of a lifelong problem.
And I blame my mother.
So yes, Godspell was the show I wanted to see, so when we left the Port Authority, after an okay lunch at Chevys, I said to hubby, let's just stop at the Circle in the Square Theatre and see if we can get a discount on Godspell tickets.
You know this story is going to have a happy ending, don't you, and I'd like to refer you back to the I must always getting my way problem attitude with which I go through life.
Curse of the being the youngest.
So yes! they had tickets! And yes! we used our USO discount! And yes! we went to Macy's after that and I burrowed myself further into debt via my Macy's card.
After dinner, then, we all walked from Carmine's up to the Circle in the Square theatre, totally excited to see the show.
Hubby was kind of meh about seeing a show, but honestly, you come to NYC, and isn't that what you want to do? At least once during your trip, right?
Last time we went to see Wicked, that was the youngest one's request - and those tickets are phenomenally expensive, but the show is worth it, but Godspell tickets - not as much.
I'm a purist - I've never seen the Broadway show, but I have seen (and own) the movie, and the soundtrack, and it's on my iPod, and I listen to it often, etc., so I knew that I had to keep an open mind about any differences the show would take from the movie version.
I was so not disappointed.
By either the change, or by how much more fantastic they made it.
It was incredible.
The energy was palpable in the theatre, and  the show was updated to reflect a more contemporary theme while still remaining true to the original.
At intermission the entire audience was invited up on stage to share some wine (aka grape juice), and there was a lot of audience participation with the cast throughout the show.
I'd go see it again - USO discount or not.
And I bought the soundtrack CD, so now I can go between the movie version and the stage version.
Hubby is not big on musicals - he just finds it hard to believe that people would just break into song - but he didn't mind Godspell. 
Mostly because the actor, Hunter Parrish, who plays Jesus also plays Silas in the Showtime series Weeds, and hubby loves that show.
Sometimes it's about peaking interest through connections.
After the show ended we went outside and hung out with a group of folks to see if we'd won the drawing to be allowed backstage to meet the cast.
We didn't.
But it's okay, because two of the cast members were outside!
First we saw Lindsay who played, well, Lindsay - incredible voice - here she is signing autographs.
And then we got to meet the Jesus player himself - Hunter Parrish.
Can I just tell you, he is every bit as good looking in person as he is in this picture.
And unbelievably talented.
Oh to be half my age and my size.

I barely recognize my little one in this picture, but it's because she had her makeup done at the Benefit counter at Macy's. Sometimes I look at this picture and think she's some random girl who got into the middle of the frame with us.
A good time was had by all, and even walking home in the rain did not impact my our good mood after seeing this delightful and inspiring show.
And now that you're all anxious to go see it, or at least get the movie version, here's a Youtube video featuring Hunter Parrish singing "Beautiful City."
Why this hasn't been released as a single on its own is beyond me.
I'd buy it.
Oh wait, I already did.
Tomorrow we leave for Virginia.
Did I tell you, that's where Hunter Parrish is from.
It's providential, don't you think?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

NYC, Part One

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New York City.
The Big Apple.
Did you know that even though I grew up in New York State, I never visited NYC until I was 23 years old.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
My family just didn't travel like that, it's not something we did. Actually we never even took family vacations.
Don't worry, I'm not feeling deprived, just making a statement.
Hubby, however, grew up in NYC.
He loves being there although he's not quite so sure if he'd want to raise his kids there (and let's be honest, we certainly don't make enough money to live there either).
Although it would be nice. I don't mind the city, and I don't mind the country. I'm happy in either place.
We left Major Knitter's and drove quite easily into the city having left Connecticut well after rush hour.
We're so smart, aren't we.
After checking into our hotel we left our bags and went out.
With only one day to be in the city, we had some things to do.
Sadly, no yarn shop adventures for me.
I used up my opportunity a year and a half ago when I made everyone go to Purl Soho and Lion Brand Yarn Studio. 
That's okay, I have enough yarn to see me through this lifetime (but don't tell hubby I said that).
We had a nice room at the Marriott Residence Inn on 6th and 39th. I'd go back there again - it's four/five blocks down to Macy's, and within walking distance of many theaters and Times Square. Plus the breakfast was huge (and free).
Of course the city view while amazing...
...is not always necessarily pretty.
That's okay, we didn't come to NYC to sit in a hotel room.
We only had part of the day and the night to do what we wanted to do.
What we did was eat lunch, get tickets for our show, and then went out to dinner with the SIL.
Now my sister-in-law just turned 50 on March 1, and you certainly wouldn't know it.
Here she is on the left.

Here are pictures of us at dinner.
Of course the fat girl got in the pic at the end.
The woman on the far right is a childhood friend of hubby and the SIL - they grew up on the same block together, so this was the first time in 30 years that hubby has seen her.
We had dinner at Carmine's Restaurant - it was delicious, but man that place was packed.
They serve the food family style, all on big platters that you share, and that's fun, but it is a popular place.
I'd go back. Anyone want to join me?
After dinner we went to our show, but that you'll have to hear about tomorrow.
A domani! (as they'd say at Carmine's)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Connecticut, Part Two

I'm not afraid to use four-letter words.
Not at all.
One of my favorite four-letter words, of course, is yarn.
Many of you who have read Major Knitter's blog over time know that she is an expert on yarn, and if you're not reading it, well, then you should be. Get on it.
After we hit the beach (figuratively), we headed over for a quick trip to Westport Yarns.
It amazes me at times that such unassuming buildings can contain such a plethora of pleasures.
(Since I don't really know how to use, or even actually have, Photoshop, I've made this picture small in an attempt to make me look smaller. Lie to me and tell me it's working.)
Hubby was thrilled to be making this pilgrimage.
My younger one too.
(That's sarcasm just so you know, if you're not recognizing it for what it is.)
Hey, get over it.
It's yarn.
They stayed for about two mikes, and then left and found a pet store.
To each his own.
How is Westport Yarns?
As I was saying earlier, it holds so many goodies that it's hard to resist the siren call of yarn.
So I didn't.
Here's pictures of what I bought.
Some Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane. Should have purchased three. Oh well.

And a local yarn - sock yarn - called Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets, Zohar's Socks in Waterman Silver.

It's only one skein, but I took two pictures trying to show the colors.
The colors reminded me of the Long Island Sound in winter, and like the ocean in winter, the colors keep their secrets.
Wow, that was bad.
Moving along.
Odd, don't you think though that I chose yarns that reflect the dark greyish-blue of the water?
Hmmm...I wonder if there's a connection....anyway...
Major Knitter, one of those gift people, also ensured that I had another Connecticut memento.
Here's a knitting bag made in Connecticut:

Isn't it pretty?
I love how the blue theme - you'd almost think it was my favorite color (it is).
It's from Fibers Entwined by Laura Hein Eckel.
Sorry everything is so dark. Do I need to tell you again? It's March in New York, it's always dark.
After our quick journey to the four-letter word store, we came back home for a delicious dinner with Major Knitter and BF.
Now if you recall, Major Knitter sent me some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock for Valentine's Day.
I had to bring it with me on the trip so Major Knitter could see it.

Pretty....my precious....
Since I had every intention of finishing my sock that I am currently working on (but didn't), we decided to wind my yarn, and enlisted my youngest to help.
At first it was fun:
And then it was just a bit less fun:
And then it became a chore, but she worked on it with a smile on her face:
Winding yarn is hard work. Here she is with the finished project. Time for a breather:
What a great day we had.
In the morning it was time to leave and say goodbye to Wilma, oh, yeah and Major Knitter and her BF too, although I'm doing that virtually because BF is a very busy man - half of a very busy couple!
Knowing that they carved out some time from their collectively busy schedule makes our quick visit that much sweeter.
It was great to see you - hope to come back soon! We can sit on the beach and knit (now that sounds like fun).
And now we're off to New York City!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Connecticut, Part One

Before I left, my husband said, "You're staying in the guest room of a person you barely know."
"Pretty much," I said. "I met her in person once. She sent me yarn."
"This is just something knitters do, isn't it?" he said.
                Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously
                Adrienne Martini

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Our departure from New York state on Thursday was early, inauspicious, yet filled with questionable weather.
What can you expect - it's New York in March. Anything is possible.
We had started our journey planning with one goal in mind, and that was to make it to Virginia on Saturday. Then hubby's sister asked if we could come spend time with her in NYC, and then I mentioned to Major Knitter that we would be in the area and she invited us to come stay. Last time we were in NYC we really would have liked to see Major Knitter, but if there's one thing you need to know about her, it's that she's very, very (very) busy. She's the type who if you need someone to step up and get something accomplished, she's the person you'd want (which means that those slackers out there depend on can-do people like her, and then they do nothing). So this opportunity to see her (and her BF) was perfect.
Knowing this we decided to make this a perfect (yet busy) trip.
And it worked out perfectly.
Fortunately our journey to Connecticut was quick (enough) and we ended up on the doorstep of none other than Major Knitter!
Let's be clear, I have known Major Knitter for a few years now, and I have stayed at her house once before (and she once at mine), so the quote above applies, but now we've been friends for over 10 years. (Can you believe that? Over 10 years!)
Plus I let my daughter stay with her for a few weeks, or a month one summer. It's been so long that I can't remember. But that innate trust? It's a Marine thing too, not just a knitter thing, and the Marine Corps is where I met her, down at Quantico VA.
As I told my youngest, who was traveling with us, Major Knitter is the person who taught me how to knit!
She looked at me with such surprise, and that alone kind of shocked me.
How could someone who had such an impact on my life (all to the good!) not be the stuff of family legends!
Perhaps the older kids are aware, but it could be that as she is the youngest and was only three when the good major and I became fast friends she just never made the connection. (She probably thought she was just some lady who sent me gorgeous yarn.)
Now she knows. Now she'll remember.
Major Knitter and her gracious BF hosted us overnight on Thursday, and it was such a great time.
You know those visits where every moment is precious, and you enjoy each one.
What we didn't know is that we have something in common, and I'm sure as with many Marine families, and some civilian ones too, is that we are all quite cognizant of the storylines for each season of NCIS.
That just kind of tickled me, as BF has given Major Knitter NCIS-inspired gifts, and they enjoy watching the show on DVD. Too awesome for words.
And then as we talked I realized, wait, it seems that I know just a bit too much about this show as well.
There's something else we have in common - you guessed it - yarn.
More about that later (like tomorrow).
Upon arrival we were met by the venerable wonder dog, Wilma.
Wilma is even cuter in person than she is in her pictures.
We settled our bags, and immediately left the house to go to the beach.
Upon our arrival at Compo Beach we realized that, yes, it really is too cold in March to go into the water.
But not too cold to take care of some business, right Wilma?
Don't worry, it got cleaned up.
Later on Wilma decided that she trusted us enough to take a nap while we sat on the couch.

See! I told you! Lots of good times on this trip.
More tomorrow where I'll discuss that four letter word again - Yarn.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Three One Night Stands; or Our March East Coast Tour

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1,259 miles.
Three nights.
Four days.
Good times.
Many friends.
Major Knitter.
Souvenir yarn.
Happy birthday.
Italian food.
Great show.
Baby shower.
Virginia spring.
Much money.
Bad weather.
iPod shuffle.
Sock knitting. 
No tickets!
Priceless trip.
Still sick.
Home safe.
Tomorrow starts installment one because tonight I start the laundry.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

So Our Lenten Season Has Begun

Or as I like to say (in my somewhat irreverent, borderline blasphemous manner), it's New Year's Resolutions Part Deux Reader's Digest version (which means it's in a condensed period as opposed to 365 days).
We are now officially one week into Lent.
Have you decided to give anything up for Lent?
My Lenten sacrifice came to me instantly - I'm giving up pizza.
Of course this came to me immediately following a meal of pizza and garlic parm wings.
This was probably because I still had a sensitive stomach that was slowly recovering from my 24-hour bug.
I'm all better now, but I'm not craving pizza.
It's as if a light switch had been flipped off.
Hopefully I can keep it up.
I do realize that I can have cheesy stuff - like lasagna - that duplicates some of the pizza or calzone taste, so I may end up eating more of that during the Lenten season.
That's not cheating, I don't believe so.
But no pizza.
Not for me.
Problem is I have a trip to NYC coming up, and if there's one thing you want to eat in NYC it's pizza.
Can I hold out against that kind of temptation?
We'll have to see.
I live in a town that has - wait, let me count - 7 pizza parlors, both local and chains, and 6 of them are within walking distance of my house.
And then I read blogs like The Rochester NY Pizza Blog that tell me how good (or not so good) pizza in the area is.
Temptation, temptation, temptation.
I can do it.
I just won't keep looking at pictures of pizza.
And no Friday pizzas around the counter at work.
Wish me luck!
Just to keep things interesting, here's a recipe for hot pizza dip from Closet Cooking.