Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The layers of our lives

"Oh, that was a lifetime ago."

I'll admit, when I was little I didn't really understand that statement. But as I've gotten older and moved through several "lifetimes", it has taken on greater meaning. Each phase of my life has involved new locations, new friends, new experiences.

We are cleaning and organizing the house, and that meant going through paperwork that needed to be shredded a long time ago. I got through J's old bills and employment paperwork from about 4 jobs ago, years before he met me.

Then it was time to tackle my stuff. I found (to name a few):
  • My student loan paperwork from college
  • A paper I wrote from the summer of 1991
  • Every receipt for every semester I registered for classes in graduate school
  • Acceptance letters for every job I've had
  • Performance reviews and my training record from my dream job

Even my brothers got in on the act. I found the articles one brother wrote for his college newspaper back in the day. And a picture of my other brother from his high school play.

So now I say, "Oh, that was 4 lifetimes ago," and I really mean it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Scenes from a Christmas

The church decked out in Christmas finery

The handbell choir, deep in concentration

The lights on our home tour on Christmas Eve

J loves his Christmas present from his Secret Santa

I love my Christmas ornament from my Secret Santa

And my recipe cards. They're coming to the farmer's market with me

The table, getting gussied up for Christmas dinner


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ahhh, vacation...

J and I are very lucky to work where our companies shut down between Christmas and New Year's. We also had a few days of vacation we had to use. So J has been off since last Thursday, and I am celebrating my first full day of vacation. We don't have to go back to work until January 4. Yikes!

Most of our time is being spent cleaning and organizing, but it's an annual tradition around here. It's nice to end the holiday season and go back to work knowing we won't get lost in the mess that was in our basement, or being able to find ketchup in the pantry without sending in a hunting expedition.

And I can catch up on my knitting. My secret scarf is getting there, and I have some more slippers to knit. The weather outside is cold and windy, so it's a perfect time of year to get all this done.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Working in a winter wonderland

OK, I lied. I took more pictures of the snow. But I didn't get any pictures of trees in the snow.

We didn't get hit as hard as the rest of the east coast, it seems. Maybe 2 inches all told. But it's still really cold and really windy. At last check, there was a wind chill of 10 degrees.

We headed out mid-morning to clear off the driveway. J wore his new rabbit hat.


I, of course, had to take pictures of our yard in winter

The berries on the barberry near the front door

The snow among the blooming heather. This is my favorite picture of the season so far. I swear, I'm never going to figure out the bloom pattern of this thing--I think it's the 3rd time it's bloomed since spring. I guess I should do some research and figure it out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The comfort food frenzy has begun

The snow is not as bad as they were predicting, but we still got some that stuck to everything, and it's bitter cold and windy outside--not a good combination. Unless you're warm in your house (thank God) and in the mood to cook.
So I googled "chili recipes" and found this on on southernfood.about.com. Really basic --meat, beans, onions, chili powder. Ready in half an hour. J hates beans, so more for me!

And because I've had a killer sweet tooth lately, I decided to make some molasses cookies--my first! I was inspired by a friend to find my cookie scoop, which made this job so much more enjoyable.


Tacos for dinner tonight. After the soft pretzels come out of the oven :)

The story of my slippers

So I'll admit, I'm becoming a little bit of a knitting/yarn geek. I read some very funny knitting books by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and learned some knitting tips along the way. And found her blog, where she talked about the amazing French press slippers , which supposedly only take 90 minutes to make and look like ballet flats when you're done. This sounded like something I wanted to try.

Now, these slippers are felted. If you're not familiar with felting of knitted pieces, you make something that's GIGANTIC, and then throw it in a hot washer with lots of agitation. In the process, it shrinks and goes from something that looks like knitted yarn to something that looks like pieces of felt someone lovingly sewed together.

So the last couple of days I knitted my slippers (in between a scarf that was supposed to be a Christmas present but might be done in time for Valentine's Day) and started to assemble them for the felting process. I showed them to J, and he asked if I was mailing them to Shaquille O'Neal. They were that big. I think the sole was 14" long when I was done knitting.

Well, I showed him. Into the washer they went. I checked on them periodically, trying them on to make sure I caught them before they shrank too much. Then I let them dry overnight and put the finishing touches on this afternoon.

Cute, no? And definitely smaller than Shaquille O'Neal's feet. Here, I'll show you.

Yay! My size :) And toasty warm.

I might get fancy and use some puffy paint to give them some traction. But in the meantime I have a cute pair of slippers that I made all by myself. Sorry Shaq. Better luck next time.

Oh, and in another bit of rambling randomness, it's snowing outside. And I'm starting to get in the mood to cook. Chili, Italian wedding soup, and molasses cookies are all on the agenda. I'll update when I have something to show you ;)

Friday, December 18, 2009

December ramblings

Sorry, no recent pictures. And besides, you've seen one snowy tree in the Poconos, you've seen them all.

It's been busy around here, full of randomness that fills each day. I was in full knitting mode trying to get some gifts done before I mailed them off for a variety of Secret Santa deadlines, and as gifts for co-workers. I'm still working on one that I'm aiming to have done by Valentine's Day, if not sooner (so much for getting it done by Christmas). Work has picked up a bit, which means I've been coming home tired and trying to catch my breath for the next day. And I'm reading a favorite book, which takes precious time away from blogging ;)

I was going to head down to MD for a couple of days to see some friends, as I had today off. But the weather forecast has changed, and we're now expecting snow to start sometime tomorrow, which would have made my return trip more of an adventure than I care to have right now.

So I spent a nice day with J, getting some errands done and letting him make me dinner ;) Staying home for the weekend means I get to do some more work around the house that I would normally put off. The weather should keep me homebound--I'm picturing Christmas tea, blankets, and slippers. Maybe some baking--I tried making soft pretzels with dough I made in the breadmaker, and it rocked. I may try molasses cookies. Mmmmm...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas crafts

I've been busy. Sorry for the delay.

I made these coffee cake muffins for a birthday at work.

They were divine.
I also made a peanut butter chocolate chip coffee cake, but I didn't get a picture :( Trust me, it was good ;)

I mentioned recently that I got a little obsessed with Twilight. I've read the series 3 times ::hides:: I'm not the only one, so I decided to make some Twilight-themed gifts for some co-workers.

I'm finishing up this scarf that Alice wore in the first movie. I'll try and get a picture of it when my friend Cathy gets it. She's so excited! Alice is her favorite character in the series (mine too).

I made these mittens based on a pattern from here. They're based on the ones Bella wore in the first 2 movies.
I love them so much, I'm going to make at least 3 more pairs.
In the meantime, I'm trying to finish up a few more projects, but I don't know how successful I'll be. I have to finish a washcloth for a knitting GTG I'm attending this weekend, and that will likely happen. I'm hoping to make a little something for my dad, but we'll see how fast my fingers can fly.
Happy holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Help a friend and donate to a good cause

James is an old friend from my high school days whom I lost touch with for a decade (or two). I found him again last year through LinkedIn, and was thrilled to chat with him and catch up on our lives. I found out that he's become quite the runner, and just finished his first NYC marathon. He's participating in a racing series next year that will consist of 8 marathons and 6 half-marathons over 2010. Impressive!

James is part of the Team in Training program, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I've supported this organization over the years as friends and acquaintances have participated in some of their events. I encourage you to take a look at James's website and consider contributing. Remember, it's tax deductible, and it's for a great cause!

Good luck James!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yarn, glorious yarn!

So my favorite yarn store had their 5th anniversary party tonight. An evening of comraderie, treats, and yarn. Yay!

To prepare, I joined in a knit-along, making a bag for the occasion

I also made a cupcake (but I didn't take a picture)

We all got goodie bags, including this mug that is coming to work with me. And a string of green pearls

While I was there, I won a door prize!

Isn't it beautiful?

There was also a tricky tray/Chinese auction, and I won TWICE!

A knitting for men book and 10 skeins of 100% silk yarn

A pack of pattern books, and 3 skeins of gorgeous wool

Here's my stash. I'm stoked!!!

But the best part of this party was that the proceeds from our evening went to 2 great programs--Angel's Closet and VNA/Hospice. The evening raised $1300 for them.

Congrats on 5 years, Joanne! I had a great time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

And now for something completely different

In May I looked like this:

This morning I looked like this:

And no, it's not just the light. I went to my hairdresser yesterday and said, "Do we have time to go dramatically darker?" Her eyes lit up (she LOVES color) and she said yes. So now I have a new fall hairdo, with lots of chocolate brown with copper highlights. I love it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are you tired of fall yet?

I'm not.

My parents are here from the California desert. First visit to see little old me in 2.5 years. And this place is nothing like where they live. So I had to drag them out in the cold, wind, and rain to get pictures of fall foliage.

I took them to a trailhead that is part of the Appalachian Trail. It was so quiet, and so beautiful.

I wanted my parents to walk across the Delaware River to New Jersey, and this is what we saw along the way.

I also took them to a local resort to check out their fall displays (and Dad got to sample their scotch).

We finished up with a shot from my neighborhood. Pretty, no?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I waited 13 years for this

Back in 1996, I was dating a young man who liked music, especially jazz and blues. I went to visit him (it was a long-distance relationship, after all) and he said we were going to see Koko Taylor. I, not being a jazz/blues fan, had no idea who she was, but she promised me that it would be fabulous.

We headed out in the rain to the concert venue. Turns out Koko was singing in the side lounge, and They Might Be Giants were performing in the main ballroom. I might have wanted to see They Might Be Giants instead. I might have mentioned it to the boyfriend. He might have looked hurt. We went to see Koko.

She was great, don't get me wrong. Amazing voice, great band. But it was a tiny room and the boyfriend wanted to be right up by the speakers. I literally thought my ears were going to bleed. And everyone was smoking (which was something you could do back then), so I could barely see, and the air was so thick I probably could have chewed it.

I still wanted to see They Might be Giants.

Fast forward to the late summer of this year. The boyfriend is a distant memory and Koko Taylor has gone to the great blues hall in the sky. They Might Be Giants are still around, performing all of their favorites, and some new stuff, including a series of songs from children's albums (score! instant gifts for the nephews and niece!). J gets a flyer in the mail that, as part of their homecoming weekend, his alma mater is having They Might Be Giants for an afternoon kids' show AND an adults-only show later in the evening. For $5. We get tickets.

They did not disappoint. They had a great opening act (check out Guggenheim Grotto when you get a chance--their harmonies are amazing). They played a rocking 90-minute set, filled with songs old and new, hysterical stories of the last time they were in town, and a lot of fun. We had a blast.

SO worth it. And only $5 ;)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

!@$#@% Nor'Easter

The weather report has been warning us of the possibility of snow, but we weren't ready to believe it. This morning the weather report was snow above 1500 feet, and we decided that we weren't getting any (seeing as we're at 900 feet).

By lunchtime, DH was e-mailing me that the snow had been falling since 9am, and we could get 4 inches before it was all over. I was heading home by 2:30.

It's still snowing. And cold. Low of 32.

There goes the basil...

Monday, October 12, 2009

A reason to love where I live

If you know me at all, you know that I'm not always thrilled with where I live. It's pretty far from a big city, which makes trips to do some serious shopping or attend cultural events a bit of a challenge. Not to mention that fact that I'm convinced that the worst drivers from NY and NJ are now living in my area.

But this time of year makes me happy to live in the Poconos. The leaves are turning, and the air is getting crisp with the coming of fall. I get to pull out my sweaters and skirts in those rich autumn colors. And make a lot of food that involves pumpkins and apples.

J was out of town over the weekend, so he didn't have to listen to his wife shouting at him to pull over to get yet another picture of the fall leaves. I headed out on my own and got the following shots. Enjoy!

(And by the way, these were all taken less than a mile from our front door)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

We recently celebrated 4 years of wedded bliss, and I decided that we weren't busy enough on the weekends, so we should take a little anniversary vacation. The Finger Lakes sounded nice, so I randomly picked a town to book a B&B and we headed up north.

This was our home away from home for the weekend, The Inn on the Main in Canandaigua, NY. Perfect location on Main St a few blocks from the main roads to wine country, a huge house with lots of room to roam, and lovely hosts.

This is an evening view, giving you some idea of how BIG the house was.

And this was our room. We also had a big bathroom and jacuzzi tub, as well as a sofa for snuggling and watching DVDs. Not like we had nearly enough time to do it all, but it was oh-so comfy.

The first night we were there, we had dinner at a great pub called McGregor's. Home of the 74 beers on tap. We had a blast. We drank some beer. We chatted with the bartenders and some of the patrons. And the food was great!

Of course, we can't be in the Finger Lakes wine region without visiting some wineries. We generally stuck with the Canandaigua Wine Trail, but did go off the beaten path here and there.

We posed for a picture at Widmer Winery, makers of Manischewitz. We passed on the tasting ;)

We decided on one fancy dinner, at the Belhurst Castle. Plus they had wine tastings. It was a beautiful setting, and we had a nice time. And the merlot wasn't bad, either ;)

My friend Chris recommended the Lamoreaux Winery, but sadly, they were closed when we went to visit. But the grounds helped us decide that we might need to make another trip to check things out. Well, that and Chris's recommendation that they make a mean riesling.

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. But we didn't want to take the highway back. We had all day, and the colors are just starting to turn.

We saw this beautiful waterfall at the south end of Seneca Lake.

And just to confirm that PA has some scenery to offer, this was a shot just over the border from NY.
So now we're home with 2 boxes full of wine, a few other souvenirs from our trip, and some great memories of a fun weekend. I couldn't ask for much more.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you ready for some football???

If you know us, or if you read this blog, you know we're a little odd. And this will just reinforce things.

So we like--no, we love--stuffed animals. We collect them on pretty much every trip. And they've more or less become part of our family.

J's favorite is Bear. Bear is a football fan. More specifically, Bear is a Chicago Bears fan.

(By the way, his sidekick is Lish)

That being said, Bear is pretty much kitted out in Bears regalia. He has a scarf in Bears colors, and now he has a Bears football that plays the Bears fight song.

Bear is ready for football season. He gets to hang out on the coffee table and see his favorite team play.

Bear is happy. Especially since his team won :)