Tuesday, January 30, 2018


My favorite month is ending and there's nothing I can do about it. From here on out, the year picks up speed, careening through birthdays and holidays until it slams right into December, with all its Christmas cheer and concomitant festive requirements. Dammit, I might as well start writing 2019 on my checks RIGHT NOW.

Ironically, as my life is speeding by at breakneck speed, I'm slogging away at a snail's pace on my January project, which HAS to be finished by tomorrow because I don't want it to drag into February. We knitters have deadlines, you know.

The name of the pattern is Pure Joy; but I'm telling you, this pile of yarn is anything BUT that right now. The problem with these crescent shawls is that they are deceptive. They lure you in with a seemingly harmless nine-stitch cast on, but then they increase every other row, which means those last five rows take FOREVER.

This particular project has, quite frankly, overstayed its welcome.

Of course, that's not the only thing I knit this month.  That would be boring. Also, I wouldn't have any knitter cred if it were. They're a tough crowd, these knitters. No, I also finished some socks (my January socks, if you must know) and I knit that cowl for my yoga teacher and a hat for Susie, to make up for the one I sent north for Christmas. Oh, and there was a stray dishcloth that worked its way in there somehow.

These things happen.

The January project, though, was a special treat for myself, something ambitious knit with special yarn that I got at 30% off way back during my Black Friday yarn-buying spree. It seemed like a good idea at the time; but now? I'm sick of it. I'm fickle. The Fickle Knitter.

Is "fickle" a word?

In other news, no one but myself seems to care what this house looks like, I swear it.

The kids have good stacking skills, though.

"Why don't any of you dump the compost in the bucket outside when it gets full?" I asked Brian the other morning, in full exasperation mode. "Look at that mess!"

"It's not a mess," said he. "It's a visual representation of the wastefulness in modern American society."

You know, I thought I was living with slobs, but apparently? They are just misunderstood artists.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Surprisingly Mundane

Oh, hi! Just sitting here wondering where my weekend went. And you?

Larry drew the short straw, as it were, and had to spend his weekend driving a bunch of Civil Air Patrol cadets (including our very own Rachel) 3 hours away to do whatever it is they do when they spend the weekend together. Drills, physical training, saluting practice...

That left me here holding down the fort. Happily, since the 2 kids left here with me were 12 and 17 (crazy but true), "holding down the fort" meant going about my normal life, occasionally texting to make sure everyone was okay. So I went to yoga Saturday AND Sunday morning, and hung out with friends Saturday AND Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and I finished this cowl for my yoga teacher. Only one month late!

I'd feel guilty about the easy life I am leading at present, but then I remember that I spent, oh, 16 YEARS not getting anything remotely resembling a full night's sleep and I don't feel guilty AT ALL. And that's not even counting all the barf clean-up I've done over the years.

I probably just jinxed myself, boasting about the halcyon existence I'm leading. We'll all be quarantined with the flu for the next month, I know it. But at least I will be well provisioned, because one of my friends went home to Ireland for Christmas and brought me back chocolate.

There used to be 3 of these. I seem to have eaten one already. Whoops.

You know, I'm sure Larry is thrilled I'm preserving all these pictures of knitted items and chocolate bars for posterity. Also, cunningly posed photos of refrigerator discards. Those are my specialty.

Do you know I haven't taken a picture of my own kids in ages? I mean, they take pictures of themselves, and then I beg them to share them with me on Google photos or whatever the thing is we use, and sometimes they even listen to me. But I save my own photography exploits for inanimate objects these days. Maybe because inanimate objects can't roll their eyes at me.

Yeah, I think that's it.

Don't forget to comment on Friday's post (NOT THIS POST) if you'd like a chance of winning a copy of the Yarn Harlot's book Knitting Rules!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gotta Be In It To Win It

I just realized (a tad belatedly) that it is that time of year again. Yup, it's Yarn Harlot's blogiversary (14 - which is about, oh, 67 in blog years, I'm guessing) and time for me to do a giveaway of the book that, oddly enough, changed my life.

A knitting book. How stupid is that? But really, Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules is about so much more than just knitting - it's a rumination on the creative process, as it were, interspersed with commentary on how it is possible for a sane person to end up with a completely insane amount of knitting needles. It's permission to be your creative self, with absolutely no regard for what you produce as a result.

Also, it's funny. What more could you ask?

So comment below if you are interested in participating in the drawing for her book. I'll give it until Monday or Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, so you have lots of time. And if you happen to already be a Yarn Harlot fan, feel free to donate to her People With AIDS Bike Rally fundraiser for 2018. Stephanie does the 6-day ride from Toronto to Montreal each year to help raise money for people and their families affected by AIDS. Because, obviously, she's a much better person than I am. Also? More fit. Which is pretty amazing for someone who sits around and knits all the time, come to think of it...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Time Travel

Hi! I spent 3 hours napping this afternoon, and 3 hours yesterday afternoon, too. I assume I'm fighting off the flu. I don't know. I still feel sorta weird (at 8 PM), so I figure I'll spend the rest of the evening knitting while watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

My 17-year-old self? Would be horrified to read that paragraph. HORRIFIED. In a KILL ME NOW sort of way...

But first, before plunking myself down in front of the TV, I thought I would spread my germs all over this keyboard so the rest of my family can suffer with me. I mean, it's not as if they are leaping to get the dishes done and the bathrooms wiped down while I am ailing. So what does it matter? We'll all get sick together, like in Little House on the Prairie, and a traveling doctor will have to stop by and save us all before we die.

You know, I don't think the Ingalls even had to give him a co-pay. Those were the days.

My 17-year-old self didn't have this
gorgeous hair. Just sayin'...
I knit a bit after my nap today (note to 17-year-old self: I'M SORRY) and listened to the audio book of Troublemaker, because my friend recommended it and even showed me how to download it to my phone using Overdrive. I've been meaning for 3 YEARS to put Overdrive on my phone, but I never got around to it. Also, it needed my library card number and password, which just added another layer of complexity.

I'm a very simple person, you know.

Anyway, my friend helped me and I didn't have to ask Brian, which is a plus. He's getting a little sick of Larry and me and our technological helplessness. Actually, I think he's sick of us in general. He and I drove to Home Depot yesterday so he could help me buy the right light bulbs, because OMG have you seen the light bulb aisle lately, and yes, this is yet another example of technological helplessness on my part, but WHEN did light bulbs get so complicated, huh?

Where was I? Oh, yes, I pulled into the parking lot of Home Depot and said something like, "Oh, wow, it's so busy - where did all these people come from?" and Brian said, "You ALWAYS say that when we go to the store!" And I said, "No, I don't," and he said, "Yes, you DO - here, and at Target, and Harris Teeter..."

Look, I don't really care whether or not Brian is right; but, considering we had just come from 3 HOURS at the DMV so he could get his driver's permit, I think maybe the better part of wisdom would have been for him to keep his mouth shut.

Teens: making me feel lousy since, oh, 2006 or so. Thanks, kids!

And my 17-year-old self would be thinking, "OMG, they're right, you're a loser." Shut up, 17-year-old self. Just SHUT UP.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bakery String Only Looks Useful

Today? I tackled this:

That's half the junk that is in the (not supposed to be a) junk drawer next to my stove. I emptied out the drawer and went at it. I don't remember why. Probably, I was tired of not being able to close it anymore. Or I was looking for something and got sidetracked. I don't know.

I found some things that I didn't even know I owned:

Why do I have these?
As discussed previously in these pages,
I'm not Ma Ingalls and I DON'T line dry clothes.

Strawberry hullers? Tell me,
did I really use to be
the sort of person who
would buy strawberry hullers?

In the end, I managed to throw out all this:

You know, this picture could be turned
 into a really irritating jigsaw puzzle

And this:

I KNOW that knob belongs somewhere,
and I'll probably want that mug hook tomorrow

And this:

My kids made this. I tossed it anyway.
It's a tough world, kids.

I wound up with this:

I kept the strawberry hullers, I don't know why

Every time I open that drawer now, I sort of cry with happiness. Or with dismay, because my family has already tried to sabotage my beautiful work by throwing other things in there. I will prevail, however. I WILL PREVAIL.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Purse Snatching. Switching. Whatever.

Last night I cooked these One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs, which recipe involved lots of steps (well, more than 2, anyway) and ingredients I had to go out and buy (baby potatoes, mushrooms) and I was pretty darn proud of myself. I mean, A for effort, right? Also, it tasted pretty good.

So I was all set to come here today and tell you I had tried one of the chicken recipes you all had recommended in the comments to this post, so you wouldn't think I'd been wasting your time. Only I went back to see who had recommended this recipe and, um, no one did. I have no idea where I got that link. NONE.

Still, I highly recommend it. Sunday, I'll try one of the dishes you folks suggested. I PROMISE.

In other news, I told Susie about the stray sock incident at the dentist yesterday and she said, "Well, at least you didn't have your pants on backwards!" That kid has way too good a memory, is what I'm thinking. Also, she's right, that would have been worse.

Yes, the pants-backward thing really happened. I'm not proud of it, but there you are.

Some color to brighten up these gray winter days
In other other news, I did my mid-winter purse switch a few days ago, which means that I'm currently living in chaos. You see, an organized person would have emptied out the fall (dusky purple) purse completely and then transferred most of those items to the mid-winter (hot pink) purse, maybe throwing out the old ChikFilA receipts and the never-used Bed, Bath, And Beyond coupons.

I'm not an organized person.

Instead, I grabbed my wallet, credit card holder, pill holder (with my Excedrin Migraine in it), 2 pens, and a tube of Carmex and threw them in the new purse. Then I headed out to wherever I was going, enjoying the feel of a MUCH lighter purse on my shoulder. Of course, this means I'll spend the next 2 weeks pillaging the old purse for whatever I find myself missing.

So that's how I ended up at Knit Night yesterday evening with nary a tape measure or stitch marker in my bag. It was a little disconcerting, but I soldiered on. And when I got home? I took the tape measure and the little stitch marker box from the fall (dusky purple) purse and put them in the mid-winter (hot pink) purse. So, yeah, it's a system of sorts. Just not a very good one, I guess...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Dangers Of Static Cling

Hi! I've been gone, off on a knitting weekend at a friend's beach house (yes, I DO make excellent friends, actually) with a bunch of knitters (duh), and I was going to tell you all about it, because riveting, I know. But first, I have to tell you about my dental visit, because riveting AND humiliating, all in one.

During the (fun! relaxing!) knitting weekend, a temporary crown came off my tooth. I had just had it put on there Wednesday, after sitting in the dental chair with people's fingers in my mouth for 2 whole hours - because really, I know how to have fun.

I knit during dental work - did you know that? It's the only way to get through it.

So, the crown came off, and for sure it has nothing to do with the fact that one of the knitters brought a pound of my favorite gummy bears to our little weekend retreat, so SHUT UP. I managed to squish it back on without passing out (but it was close, because OMG squeamish) and I went back to the dentist office this morning to get it glued back on until the real crown is ready.

All this talk about crowns is making me feel rather royal.

Anyway, I was running late, so I hustled upstairs and threw on jeans and a sweater fresh from the clean laundry basket (personal motto: dressers are for storing yarn, not clothes, duh) over my comfy leggings and shirt and ran out the door to my iced-over car. I scraped off my windshield (sort of) and managed to get to the dentist's just in time. Whew! Then I lay back in the chair and suffered more fingers in my mouth until the nice dental technician (really, they hire the nicest people there, with the exception of that one dental hygienist) said, "Okay! You're good to go! Just rinse over here by the sink and I'll walk you out."

So I gathered up my knitting (remember? I knit during dental work) off my stomach and sat up and got really confused because there was still yarn there? On my sweater? Or wait - under my sweater? Poking out?


People, it was a sock. I was lying in that chair with a stray wool sock poking out from under my sweater the whole time. In fact, I must have walked into that dental office with that sock poking out from under my sweater.

So then I was trying to surreptitiously pat myself all over my sweater, looking to see if there were any other woolen lumps under there, when the dental hygienist came back in the room. "Everything all right?" she asked, probably puzzled to see this middle-aged dame feeling herself up in public.

And that is why I probably should have just stayed at that beach house...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Cry For Help

I'm gonna lead with a picture of the latest food fad around our household, a dish that, miraculously enough, the entire family is enjoying this winter.

Hello? Anyone here?

Well, anyway, voila:

Pretty, isn't it?

Roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots - it's what's for dinner. I mean, along with pot roast and potatoes, of course...I'm not trying to starve anyone around here.

Do you think the other veggies are jealous that Brussels sprouts get to be capitalized but they don't? Just wondering.

We're also still eating up all the cheese left over from our New Year's Party. The problem is, I seem to have cooking-related dementia: aside from pot roast and meatloaf, I can't remember ANY recipes that I usually use for winter dinners. Nada. NONE.

I mean, I know I've cooked chicken before. Larry usually grills it during the summer, or I cook it in salsa and shred it to eat in tortillas with black beans and sour cream and such.

Everyone's sick of that one, in case you're wondering. Everyone but me, of course...

But now? When it's not hot out? My bag of Kirkland frozen chicken breasts sits woefully neglected in the freezer, wondering what went wrong. Because chickens just can't wait to be eaten, I guess...or, at least, cows can't wait for us to eat chicken. Anthropomorphism is confusing, actually.

Do me a favor and toss some favorite chicken recipes my way, will you?  I'm at a loss here.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Pizza's Important, Right?

Over the past few days, I set myself the task of eating up all the remaining holiday junk food in our house: the Hershey's kisses, the Moose Munch, the cheese and crackers, etc. You know, so I wouldn't keep eating it.

That does SO make sense. Shut up.

I've also been knitting. Later I'll watch Stranger Things AND knit. I'm doing my best, obviously, to live up to my New Year's resolutions.

Our holidays, unfortunately, were disrupted by death. Just before Christmas, my boss was brutally murdered, along with her husband. The next week, after my friend/co-worker and I went to the memorial service, I was surfing through Facebook, hoping to wallow in photos of happy families celebrating their holidays without having to think about senseless violence and their own mortality; and that's when I noticed that people were tagging a long-time friend of ours. Our families had been stationed together, years ago, in California and then DC, and we'd kept in touch ever since.

Turns out, he had just died, at the age of 55, 2 weeks after a diagnosis of cancer.

I'll bet you weren't expecting any heavy stuff here. Well, join the club - neither was I.

Here are some more pretty flowers from my neighbor, just to make us all feel better

So, still reeling, Larry sat down with me a couple of days later to make sure I knew all his passwords and how to pay our bills electronically (I used to be in charge of that job, but somewhere around the 4-kid mark, I passed it on to him). "There!" he said, when we were done. "Now, if something happens to me, you'll at least not have to worry about THAT."

"Yes," I said. "But what if something happens to me? What do YOU need to know?"

We both sat there in silence for a couple of minutes, trying to think of what areas he'd really be floundering in, should I unexpectedly shuffle off this mortal coil (I TOLD you we had a really fun holiday season, didn't I?). Finally, Larry asked, "Where is it you get the cheap pizza from?"

"Costco - $10 for an 18-inch," I told him.

We were both quiet again, thinking.

"So, uh, I guess that's it," I said.

"Yeah," he agreed.

 Which makes me think, maybe Rachel's right, after all...

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

School was canceled today, because we had a dusting of snow and OMG how could the children go out in that? Meanwhile, on Tuesday, it was 7 degrees out and Rachel stood outside for 20 minutes waiting for a bus that never came, because school buses here simply cannot handle the cold.

Go figure.

Anyway, my point is that Rachel was home today. She volunteered to go skating with us and acted downright pleasant all morning. So I'll admit it, I had my guard down when she approached me this afternoon.

"I have to interview an old person in my family," she announced. "It's an English assignment."

"Well," I said, thinking out loud, "you have no grandparents left, but Auntie Kate is 65. And Uncle Fred is in his eighties - you could ask him."

"Nah, I don't want to," said Rachel. "I was just thinking of asking you."

Apparently my anti-aging face cream is NOT doing its job.

So I was telling Larry about this at dinner and he said to our daughter formerly known as beloved, "Well, you could interview me then!" He was trying to be helpful, you know, and take the spotlight off my obvious decrepitude. Larry's nice that way.

"No," said Rachel. "I mean, you're busy - you have things to do."

Unlike moi, apparently. I left the room, while Rachel stammered away in the kitchen, trying to walk back that last comment.

I'm binding off these (uncritical) beauties tonight

You know, in case any of you wonder at my obsession with knitting, consider this: My yarn never calls me old. OR useless.

January, Thanks Be To God

Larry and I pretty much shouted "Happy Anniversary!" at each other this morning, so no one won this year.  Also, the whole scene sounded weirdly competitive and not at all romantic.

Still, 27 years - that's nothing to sneeze at, you know.

Then Larry spent the rest of his time before work talking at me about doors, because, hey, SEXY. You see, even though he completed the basement renovations last April, he didn't really, because we still have the old doors, which don't fit anymore, because Larry made the wall thicker with all that insulation. Also, there are openings all around the doors, where he and the handyman tore the old trim out, etc.

It's COLD down there right now, is what I'm saying. Also, because Larry in his obsessiveness also insulated the basement floor, we can't properly open the doors either, because now the floor is higher and it blocks them.

Picture me explaining all this to the guy who came to measure for new doors today. Just picture it.

In other news, for the 11th year in a row, we managed to hold a New Year's Day open house for the neighbors. And for the first time, we didn't have to spend all of New Year's Eve cleaning up the basement in order to avoid public humiliation. Nope, between the renovation earlier this year, during which Larry took gazillion trips to the dump and we (well, Larry, actually) ripped out the ugly carpeting and dated wallpaper, and the post-renovation cleaning up we gave it before Larry's sisters visited, we actually have a basement/family/guest room that is fit for public consumption, as it were.

Bonus: Larry spent his spare time on Sunday cleaning up the laundry room, which had fallen into its typical state of disarray. It is now a joy to behold.

So, instead, we spent New Year's Eve watching Stranger Things, Season 2. We're done with 4 episodes, and I'm not sure I'll be able to watch any more. It's getting freaky. Well, freakier.

One of my wonderful neighbors came by the day before the party, took all my vases, and returned them with fresh flower arrangements for today's party.

Nice, right? Complete with photobombing camels!

She really made us look classy, that's for sure.

And since New Year's? I've been focusing on knitting, because I'm done pretending anyone around here cares what I cook or what I clean. They're all taller than me and can fend for themselves, anyway.

So here are my January socks, which I made a bit of progress on while I waited at the DMV for over 2 hours so Brian could take his written test and get his permit.

Sock toes...or tiny little hats. Whatever.

Only, he didn't pass the test. So I guess we'll be doing that again in 15 days. Good thing I like that kid.

And here is my current obsession - a crescent shawl knit with short rows and yummy yarn:

Trust me - it's gonna look great. GREAT.

It's not done or blocked yet, which is why it looks like just any old pile of yarn. You know how expectant couples will force you to view a sonogram picture of their baby and you nod and smile and murmur something positive, even though you really can't tell what it's supposed to look like? Same deal here. Just nod and smile.

Well, I've got to get going. Those leftover Christmas chocolates aren't going to just eat themselves, you know.

Have I mentioned how much I love January? No? Well, I do. I certainly do.