Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Monday, December 30, 2013

The In-Between Time

Steve and I went to DC for the weekend, as our Christmas gift to each other, and the weather was perfect.

We went to the Eastern Market and saw some gorgeous things, as well as some beautiful produce.
Why do vegetables look so beautiful at an outdoor market?
This bookstore was amazing and the proprietor was a quirky kind of guy, judging from his position on cell phone usage.

We also went to a knitting shop, where Steve patiently waited with another knitter's husband.


This is the Library of Congress building, which we visited for the first time.

I don't believe I've ever been in a more beautiful building.

The Supreme Court.
Views of the gorgeous sky.

We popped into the National Gallery right before closing in order to see The Dying Gaul, a sculpture that hasn't been outside of Italy since 1797. Needless to say, it was amazing.

We wrapped up the day by eating a delicious dinner in Chinatown.


We got back last night and after running an errand or two this morning, including having the dentist replace my broken temporary crown with another temporary crown, I'm ready to do some clearing out. Glenna had the same idea; indeed, I'm sure this is a good time for many people, as we realize just how much stuff we have accumulated over the past year. I'm not one for celebrating New Year's Eve, but I do like to do a bit of clearing out and cleaning this time of year.

And of course, it's a perfect time to do a bit of selfish knitting, so I started another Hitchhiker.

Enjoy the last of 2013!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Snapshots

We had a marvelous Christmas, full of family and friends and food. In no particular order, here are some snapshots of the last three days.
Gracie has come so far from the scared shelter cat she was in January; here she is checking out the interesting smells under our tree, even though lots of people were in the same room! I use maps and grocery bags for wrapping paper now; I gave up buying wrapping paper about three years ago and I'm never going back. It seemed like such a waste of money, and although it may not be everyone's cup of tea, we like it.
I lucked into a great thrift find for Melissa; an old manual typewriter for less than $5! She's wanted one for years.
Our St. Stephen's Day feast; when we had all the kids over to eat and open gifts.
Christmas Eve, we stopped into the restaurant/bar where Melissa works, before going to the candlelight service at the church across the street.

A montage of some of our decorations.

A beautiful picture of my youthful parents with Melissa on Christmas Day. I really missed having Meredith home this year, but she was in upstate New York with her in-laws.

One of the succulent gardens that Melissa made for gifts this year. I had my girls make their gifts all through their childhood and I am beyond thrilled that they still keep up the tradition.

My niece, trying to nap at my parents' after Christmas breakfast.

Melissa, with the hat I knit for her.


Lindsay, with the gorgeous scarf Stephanie knit for her. She has adopted our handmade gift philosophy.

Melissa thrilled with the hat Stephanie made for her.

All the kids plus a few extra.

Hope you all had a wonderful, messy, relaxing Christmas, and continue to enjoy the upcoming week.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

The last week of school was about what I expected. Thursday was the "off the chain" day, but at least many of my students gave themselves Friday off, which worked out well for me. A full moon on Wednesday didn't help either. I got almost all of the paper grading done and walked out on Friday at the end of the day without bringing a single thing from school home. I'm planning on enjoying this break to the fullest. I gave out KitKat mini bars with a cute little printable as my holiday gift; aren't they pretty?


Now it's Winter Break, and I am right on target for spending as much time in my pj's as I possible can. I've been knitting and napping and generally just hanging out and enjoying my selection of Christmas CDs.


Meredith and Ryan sent me this beautiful yarn bowl; I can't wait to use it, but so far, most of my knitting has been done when I'm out of the house!

Exhibit one, knitting at the coffee shop:

To continue my tale of health woes, I had some dental work done on Thursday, and that, coupled with some crazy weather changes, contributed to a migraine that necessitated a trip to the urgent care for a shot and meds on Sunday. Finally back to normal yesterday, which made it a fabulous day that I spent with Melissa and Stephanie, just hanging out and enjoying the season.

But the tree has lights and smells wonderful, the gifts are wrapped and under it, and that means all is well.

My friend, Lori, gave me this adorable SnowBaby with knit caps; a perfect gift from one knitter to another!

Wishing you all the best of this season, whatever you may celebrate.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wait, What? December is here?

Wow, I can't believe it's the Christmas season already. I lost a week or two during my illness, but thankfully, I'm all back to normal again. Lots going on at school and at home, but mostly it's all about getting ready for Christmas and trying to enjoy the process. Steve is super stressed by it all as usual, but I'm enjoying it. (Christmas, that is, not his stress.). We both have such different experiences and expectations about this holiday that it usually creates a certain level of friction between us, but after seven years together, I am getting better about protecting my joy at this time of year and letting go of my need to bring him along. To put it another way, he owns his experience and we don't have to look at the holiday through the same lens. Not that I always remember this, but I think I'm getting better at it. Having Melissa spend the night last week and moving the mouse on our Advent calendar was an occasion for joy!

Thankfully this doesn't mean we don't share some things as a couple. Last night we went to an ugly sweater Christmas party and today the two of us spent a couple of hours walking around Ghent, doing all of our errands on foot, including popping in on Melissa, since she moved to that area this month. The weather was grey and chilly, which was perfect for enjoying my hand knits! Now we are both home, listening to Christmas music and the rain that is pouring down, enjoying the calm.


This couple was my favorite,

unless you count these two cuties! Gotta love that crooked smile.


Meanwhile, I have a hat I need to knit by Monday, Christmas cards to finish for the staff at school, and I need to make at least one batch of my Toffee Pecans, but at least I have mailed the cards I wanted to mail, the tree has been bought, and most of the gift making is done. Plus, I finished and gifted a cute baby sweater for a coworker's first baby, who is due any day now.


Used less than one ball of Berroco Comfort and this pattern. Not sure why I don't have a picture of the front of the sweater, but hopefully Meg will give me a picture of the baby wearing it once she's born.


Here's the recipe again, in case you need it. Remember, it's highly addictive stuff!

  • Toffee Pecans

    1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 T unsalted butter
    1 3/4 cup plus 2 T sugar
    1 T kosher salt
    3 ½ cup raw pecan halves

    · Line baking sheet with parchment paper
    · Place butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet over med-low heat until melted. Add sugar and salt and stir briskly until mixture comes together. Add nuts and cook stirring evenly and constantly until sugar caramelizes and coats nuts.
    · Cook until the sugar turns a beautiful oak brown—5 to 7 minutes and quickly/carefully pour hot mass onto the prepared sheet. Quickly separate with tongs
    or a fork.
    · When cooled, transfer to an airtight container.

Hope your advent season is a wonderful one.