Thanksgiving thoughts

We had 9 for dinner yesterday. Not our biggest crowd ever, but a good size party.

Lots of conversation and fun.

I also enjoyed the quiet visits I had while I was getting ready.

I thought of my friend Jeff who gave us the magical extending table that seats us all – it has 5 leaves! We used to work together, and we had so much fun! When he got a new table, he gave us his old one. We love it, and are so glad to have it.

The dishes we used were from my grandmother, “Ma”, and the glasses were from the other grandmother, “Gram”. They had such different ideas about how one should live a life and entertain. I think I learned a lot from each of them and blended it all with what Mom taught me until I came up with how I live my life and entertain.

“Pa” (married to Ma, of course) stands with me as I sharpen the carving knife. I remember him with his sharpening steel and the big carving knife every year, those long smooth strokes, then perfectly carving the big birds Ma cooked. I am pretty sure he would have cringed if he saw what I did with the knife I sharpened on my little knife sharpening gizmo! I can get the meat off the bird, but it isn’t pretty!

Then there is my ex SIL, L, mother of nieces B and C the younger. Potato peeling is what brings her to mind. I always make too many mashed potatoes (except the year I baked them, and the reaction was so bad that I won’t do that again!) but I can’t beat L in the too much department. One year, early in their marriage, she and brother C hosted Thanksgiving in a cold, drafty-but-beautiful farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that they were renting. There were 5 of us for dinner. She made 20 pounds of potatoes!! She wanted to have enough. She nailed that! She also wanted to keep the stove going because it kept the house warm. I don’t remember being cold, but only how much fun we had, and how we all laughed at those potatoes. And still do.

My 1st stepmother,P, helps me get the gravy right. Stir, stir, stir forever. Longer than you want. Longer than your arm can stand. Just stand by the stove and stir while people move about you, move you to this side and that, while the meal gets itself ready to be eaten. When the gravy is ready, it’s time to eat!

It got quite crowded in the kitchen at times with all the present people and the past people, but that’s what makes it a good holiday celebration, isn’t it?

A lovely pre-holiday weekend behind us and a busy fun week ahead

A and I are trying to do a lower key Christmas this year, since our finances are different. Not bad, just not as reliable in a steady stream as previously.  But what that means?  We aren’t really sure.  A wanted a monitor and keyboard, which are for her business, so are tax deductible.  Not a Christmas gift, but she knows they took a chunk out of the Christmas budget, so she won’t tell me what else she wants.  I asked for an ott light, and she got it, then saw me struggling to make cards in the dimness, and gave it to me then.  So Christmas morning will have little under the tree, I think!

Both of our families do Yankee Swaps, and we are making things for those, so that is easy.

The end result is NOT MUCH SHOPPING!

LOTS OF CRAFTING AND BAKING!

More focus on visiting with people!

This weekend was all of that – Saturday morning we got our tree and wreath, and then A took them home while I went over to Whorls and Purls for knitting.  I was working on the legwarmers, which are not as awful as I had dreaded. Knitting with two fingering weight yarns held together goes ever so much faster than one fingering weight.  And makes a fun garment, too. You can’t see it here, but the lighter yarn has sparkles in it. Ooh la la!

I even worked on my chain mail shawl – probably about half way done with that.  And I wound the yarn for a sweater I will start in January.  It was productive, but it also was fun to sit and knit with the ladies again.

When I got home we got the tree up and into it’s stand.  We will decorate it sometime.  Maybe.  There have been years where all we did was put on the lights, then add any ornaments we were given.  This year, though, A has asked if we could really decorate it.  So, we will.

Sunday we had brunch out with A’s nephew and family from PA, and her niece and two “children” who are more local.  It was so much fun!  All the great nephews and niece are in college now, and growing up so nicely! The niece and nephew (who are close in age to us) are fun and interesting people, so it was a great meal.  From there we went grocery shopping since the big store was right in the same parking lot, and then home again to make cards, bake cookies, and knit.

I will get the holiday knitting done on  time, but maybe not the cards, unless I change up how I am doing them. But I really like how they are coming out, so I am just not sure about this.

A made three different kinds of cookies this weekend.  Some to keep and some to give, and she plans more before the week is through.  WOW!  We diet for sure on the first of the year.  But in the meantime, we are enjoying it all very much!

This week is a short one for me – I am off after work on Wednesday.  I have a lot to do, and a training to give on Wednesday afternoon, but then I am off until 1/2/18.  Another WOW! Wednesday is also our holiday potluck, for which I will bake some more cookies, but which I will have to miss most of for the training.  😦

Thursday I am planning to drive down to the Boston area to meet up with a fellow Raveller who could not make the trip to Wisconsin last summer.  That should be loads of fun! Friday is about recovering from the trip and doing housework while A works. And making cards.  Lots of cards!

So, a different kind of busy week this week!

Odds and Ends and dreams really do come true with enough forward planning

So last week A got the truck of her dreams.  She has wanted this thing the entire time I have known her.  She has suffered cheerfully through not one, but two, efficient subcompact Toyotas which seem to never die (which is good, unless you want to replace them with the vehicle of your dreams.)

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She is in love.  I am surprised she doesn’t sleep in it.

 

But being the wonderful person she is, while she was getting this, she got ME the car I have long been wanting! Of course there is no photo of me in my beautiful new Prius, but trust me, it is gorgeous, a nice deep blue.

That is right, we bought two new vehicles last weekend.  It is a bit alarming.  We always knew we would get these two, but I did not think we would get them both at once!  But the deal on my Prius was too good to resist (apparently when gas prices go down, so do Prius sales, so incentives go up) 0% financing AND cash back!  That, combined with the fact that we had saved up a good deal of money toward the truck made it possible to make this crazy move.

So now we have to behave ourselves financially for the next, oh, five years, but at least we have fun cars to drive during that time!

Other bits of life –

This past weekend was busy – errands, of course, on Saturday, followed by knitting in the afternoon. Sunday, niece B came over for a visit, to do some laundry and get the suitcase she stores at our house.  She will be heading for home this weekend, not back for a month. She only has one more semester of school!  Oh, how we will miss her when she moves back home for good.  She had us open her presents to us, and mine was a new cribbage board, so we played a few games to christen it before she left. She even let me win one of them.

Sunday evening we went to a “real” party – Debbie from Purple Fleece invited us to her holiday gathering, and this pair of introverts went, wanting to go but not sure we would really enjoy it.  You know the drill.  🙂  Well, we had a great time!  A met some of the knitting ladies, I met some of the husbands about whom I hear so much (all good, of course) and we both met some local people who were loads of fun. On the way home, we both commented how glad we were that we had ventured forth in our good clothes and party manners on a cold almost-winter’s night.  🙂

The Christmas knitting winds down, I did a couple of rows on a shawl for me last night, almost forgot what I was doing with it! Then it was back to gift knitting, I cast on some more of the tiny secret project, and a hat for a young niece. It’s to match the doll hat already knit.  I love this particular yarn I spun last summer – I might need to get more, the colors are just so fun!

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Had this happen on my spinning – what?

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Debbie told me it was OK, that I could wind what I had spun  on to a different bobbin and re-glue this one, or ask A to do that for me. So have done that and moved on.  🙂 Except for the equipment malfunction, I am loving this spin.  It is merino/silk from Three Waters Farm, planned for my sister – either the yarn will be her gift sometime (not Christmas) or something I knit her from it will be her gift. It is so SMOOTH, and soft!  I am using my new spinnerz gauge to try to keep the singles nice and even to get a DK weight – my sister likes heavier yarn to knit with, I know. It’s all good practice and good for learning.

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I split the braid in half, but not directly – first, I laid it out and found the pattern to it, then divided it so I got the gold in one half and the purple in the other.  I will ply it together as a two ply. I hope the purple and gold won’t muddy each other, but I think it will be fine.

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I love grays in this spin.  I think I should do a tonal spin soon, like the “you red my mind” one I did last summer – I love to knit with them, I think I would like to spin more of them, too.  But all the colors keep calling me. 🙂

Here’s some finished yarn – Cadillac Mountain – isn’t it so pretty?  I love it!

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And Wood Nymph – a hard spin, but it is done now.  Not sure what I will do with 56 yards of bulky… but I know I can get more if I need it.  Just am not in a mood to spin it right now – silk feels so much softer!

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Hats  have been selling!  I brought them all to work one day last week, and sold several, plus some earrings and a bracelet, and then one sold on Etsy this weekend (thanks, Renee!) and this morning when I got to work one of the girls across the hall asked if I still had a particular hat she loved.  I do.  It is hers.  This is all VERY good as this money goes straight to fiber stash cash, and what with new vehicles my beloved-wife-the-household-bookkeeper won’t have to make faces when fiber comes in the house, she will know I earned the money for it by selling other fiber stuff.  It’s a great circle. And inventory is getting low, so I think I will be knitting more hats after the New Year.  They are great to knit during tax training, I can usually do a hat a day that week.

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This weekend promises to be busy – I am house/dog sitting for my brother Friday night, as far as I know (he will confirm sometime before then) and there is knitting to go to on Saturday.  Sunday is a family gathering with A’s family for a birthday party. A Christmas tree will be procured and set up sometime soon as well (or why bother?).

We are on vacation next week – loads to do to get ready for the big holiday, plus Mom will come spend a night, so she can visit and watch sappy Christmas movies with us. (At her house, all channels seem to lead to sporting events, no matter the season.) We will be registering vehicles and maybe going for a ride or two to look at Christmas lights.  Then there are lights and a tree to decorate at our house, cards to make (yes, I am SO FAR BEHIND on these!) that will likely be called holiday cards, not Christmas cards. 😉 I hope not St Valentine’s cards…

Before that can all happen though, there is real work to be done – 2 sessions of tax training this week… a few committee meetings… a few letters to send out, nothing slow and boring about this time of year!

A month of news, with photos

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I got you caught up on what we are up to!  It has been a rather crazy month – bookended by holidays, filled with family visits and parties, a crazy amount of knitting for the holiday pop-up shop, shopping, and finally, vacation this week, and we both have nasty colds.  It never fails that when we make plans to get through big chores during vacation, someone’s health suffers.  Still, we have managed to get things done that need to be done, and so have time to just lie about and enjoy ill health.

This month has included thanksgiving and gingerbread house decorating:

 

Followed by some major furniture moving the next day.  This buffet is an immense solid piece that was my great, great grandmother’s.  It holds the many many dishes that my grandmother gave me over the years.  We hardly ever use any of them, because A is nervous about using the “good” china, but every now and then I break it out.  Thanksgiving is one of those times.  But I have never had it all out at once, as we had to do to move the buffet. It is a little overwhelming, all these dishes for two people.

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Oh, and these were in there as well.  Not the pumpkin, but everything else.  The white and gold dishes were another great-great grandmother’s, the clear glass ones were given to me on my 40th birthday by my mother’s aunt – a wedding gift to her in the thirties.

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With the buffet out of the way, we can move the table to the wall, which opens up the dining area quite a bit.  The table comes out far enough that the light is not a hazard to navigation.  It is easy to pull out when we need to fit more people around it.

 

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Where did we put the buffet?  We moved it to the living room section of the room, against the big wall, behind where all those people were sitting at Thanksgiving.  The couch used to live there, but now lives across the room.

I took this picture before the move was finished, because I loved the shadows on the wall. The sun is so low, it shines in at that angle at about 2 pm. No leaves on the trees, the lines are so pretty.

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Then it was time for the holiday pop-up shop in Bucksport, Creatively Maine to open.  The open house was the Sunday night after Thanksgiving – I too lots of photos, but that is because all of the crafts and arts were so amazing, but more than that – the fact that Sonja was able to take the work of 53 artists and in TWO days create this space from a plain white box.  So, here are some of the pictures I too that evening.  The neat thing is that every time I go in, it is different – as people buy things and stock gets replenished, she rearranges to fill gaps, and so it always looks fresh and amazing.  And in about two weeks it will all be gone, packed up and cleaned out.

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All of this jewelry is made with eggshells.  Yep, eggshells.  She raises chickens and one day got the idea of painting and dying the shells and making jewelry.  She does something to it so that it doesn’t break easily, and they are actually quite lovely.

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Here are some of my things – and some one else’s hats as well.  (The large black and white one did not stay on the little head very long, she switched it out the next day.  🙂 )

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You can see some of my shawls hanging on the rack in the background of this shot – I put three in the shop, including an Estonian lace one that had a (for me) high price tag on it. Funnily enough all were some shade of blue-green.  I kept all the other ones I knit this year, and parted sadly with these three.  🙂

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This window is on my “really want and don’t know what I would do with it” list.

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From my frame of reference, the shop has done really well.  I sold several hats, and two of the three shawls, including the Estonian lace one!  I also had a custom hat order from a guy who saw the TV coverage of the opening, spotted my hats in the background and came in to buy one.  He was disappointed to find that the one he wanted he had only seen from the back, and it was a woman’s hat.  So I knit him up one without the button flap and button.  🙂  There is still about ten days to go, but I expect the big sales will be done tonight when the shop closes. My yarn stash now has a bit of cash in it, which is good.  And I have a nice sized bag of yarn for making hats and shawls, which I will work on this year so that I have a bigger inventory ready to go and won’t have to spend every waking minute in October and November making hats.  🙂 Having the shawls sell well also feels really good – vindication – they are beautiful AND practical and people will buy them.  I’ll make more, and try to brace myself to part with them.

Onward….

We got our tree last week, and decorated it this week. A declared that anything we don’t put out for Christmas decorations this year is going out the door, so I kind of overdid the ornaments, lol.  I also decided she is wrong.  Anything that doesn’t get put out this year gets reviewed and possibly given away next year.  But not definitely.  I like to mix things up a bit.

 

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So that brings us up to date – the house is decorated, the presents are bought and wrapped, the Christmas cards were mailed Tuesday (just a BIT late!) and we are sitting around this Christmas Eve wondering if we will be well enough to go to Mom’s tomorrow for the big festivities… I think I will be, but not sure about A  which will mean my day there is abbreviated, as hers was last week for her family gathering.  That was different – I participated in the Yankee Swap by cell phone pix and text.  It was fun, but not the same.

But while we wait , sniffle, and hack, I can work on some deadline-free knitting –  I’ll finish this up, make a hat to match, then list it on Etsy.  THEN I will get back to the things I was making last September… 🙂

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And a post from me would not be complete without a few cat photos – Zumba has been particularly cute this month.  🙂 She loved checking out the bags that came in on Thanksgiving, they all smelled so good!

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She is finally growing hair on her belly – guess we solved her food allergies at last. She loves to stretch out and show it off in front of the fire.

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Happy Christmas to all!