Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Revolutions

Every year, like everyone else, I make plans for the New Year. Here are mine for 2015:

The two chubby girls who share this house will be turning to fewer calories and more exercise after a last hurrah of fancy French food at Bleu. Bring on the butter! We'll be frequenting the gym and bumping up the vegetables around here. I fell down on my cycling goals last year. This year I will try to get in 100 miles per week. I mean to get out on the water every week, too. Now that I have my kayak I have no reason not to. A long walk every day will be good for me and the dogs. If Roxy does not want to walk far I can drop her off and keep walking.

I have a sweater in progress which I started and intended to finish last year. I'll pick that back up this week and finish it. I want to knit a lace shawl during the year too.  I plan to go to Rhinebeck for the first time next year and must surely have at least one handknit sweater or not be admitted. I plan to try entrelac sometime this year.

I need to do more reading, something that surfing the Internet and knitting prevent. Clearly something needs to move over. More reading, less Internet and TV. I really can eliminate at least the most tiresome TV without suffering unduly. I am at the library once a week. Why don't I read more books?

I intend to post at least weekly here. This is always my intention, with some months more successful than others. If I am short of content some weeks I should go out more! No new content appears in front of my laptop.

I want to meet a friend for coffee every week. I have friends I do not see often with whom I do not want to lose contact. I will also be volunteering at the MSPCA every week, mostly plying with kitties, I think.

The veggie garden needs to be more productive this year. I am inspired to go all in for Square Foot Gardening this year. My garlic is already in place, and we are in negotiations for other crops that will please both of us (one of us does not like squash). I want another flower bed, too. In order to make this happen I really need to be out in the yard for an hour or two every day working on the yard. I really don't mind weeding and I will keep caught up on my podcasts this way. I think the key will be to get moving early and go to bed earlier. I am really not doing anything much after 11:00 pm and one round of morning news will cover most of what I need to know. There is not much happening on the TODAY show of use anymore. That time can go to my gardens.

That's enough in the plan for this year. I haven't looked back at last year's goals yet, but I'm pretty sure I missed the mark in some, if not most areas.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finished With Your Wrapping Yet?

Most of us are already rat holing any gift bags we receive for reuse, but maybe yours are at last too shabby to use again or the wrong size. You don't need to make a special trip back to the store for another spendy gift bag, all you need is some medium weight wrapping paper, tape, and scissors. If you haven't already seen this trick you need it!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Excuse Not to Bake for the Holidays

Off and on for most of my life I have cranked out batch after batch of Christmas cookies for holiday feasting or gifts. My last years in Oklahoma City I made eight or ten trays with four to six kinds of cookies, a quick bread, and some homemade candies garnished with holiday commercial candies & wrapped in cellophane. I loved making them and they were well received as gifts. Since I have lived in Massachusetts I have not made a single batch of Christmas cookies. Mainly it's because I don't have enough people to gift to make it worth while to make many different kinds, and it's not as much fun to make just one or two kinds. Maybe next year I will make some and take them around to my neighbors. It was never cheap or easy to make them but I liked doing it. Some years I did them by myself, other years my daughter Jennifer would help, or my nephew Kyle, or Shana's Aunt Rita.

When I was a girl we would make a lot of cookies, and for the holidays we would make several favorites and a couple of experimental varieties. There was often an Irish Tea Cake, and always some kind of sweet bread for a quick and festive Christmas morning breakfast. It's a tradition worth keeping.

For my excuse this year maybe I will blame it on Martha Stewart, who does everything so well that there is no need for mere mortals to even try.  I do see that she has loads of help, so my pathetic lack of staff will be an additional excuse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas by the Numbers

2014 shipping
I've finished my crafting and even shipped all my non-local gifts out (if you are expecting one look for it on Monday) and here are the knitting numbers:

Pairs of socks: 5
Hats:  6
Mitts: 3
Shawls:  1
Slippers: 1

There is also an item crafted but not knit, but the recipient is a reader, so you'll have to imagine something fabulous. This does not include things that were ripped and reknit, either! There is also a pair of mittens still on the needles which I decided against gifting, so it will be for me. I am still watching Christmas movies, but now I do it while relaxing and knitting for myself or reading.

Our westie has proved to be an unexpected bar to knitting efficiency. Not only has she decided that time spent in the same room with a dog should be time spent with the dog on your lap, but she is taking an unholy interest in my yarn. She seized a leftover quarter skein of cashmere sock yarn and unspooled it into a horrid mess (which I wound back into a ball because I am determined to have it as wristers for
Roxy in her new bed
myself) and is trying persistently to get at the 40% angora scarf I have started for myself with "souvenir yarn" I purchassed on a visit to New Hampshire.  That project is likely to proceed slowly because it is a twelve row pattern which is not charted and apparently I am only going to work on it when I am not at home. I will chart it, but I still have to pay a little attention because although it is a simple lace pattern it is one where errors will to noticeable. I wonder how long I can keep the finished object from her.

Scarf in progress
This week I am putting my money where my mouth is and beginning a volunteer position. I will be volunteering at the Centerville MSPCA facility, I think I will be doing my what they call Direct Animal Care. What that entails exactly I am not sure, but I will be helping to care for animals who have not fared as well as my Amazing Roxanne, who will be turning 16 this year. She's been with us since 2001, and Shana's father is fond of saying she won the lottery when she came to us. As long as I am in good health and have the time I want to contribute some good to our community.

Lest anyone think that the Amazing Roxanne has turned into the "good" dog, let me tell you that we now keep our toilet paper in a little basket on the counter. Yesterday she discovered that the tissue paper sticking out of gift bags makes a very desirable toilet paper substitute for tearing up.  Any facial tissue left around, especially if it contains some DNA is fair game. Also I forgot I had been given a candy cane at my Monday morning meeting with the Twisted Stitchers and had left it in my knitting bag on the floor.  She has almost the knack of getting into the treat cupboard, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Did You Put Your Tree Up Yet?

We have ours up. This year it is a table sized tree with vintage style colored bulbs and red and white bows. There are already a few things under the tree - my daughter Samantha always does her shopping on Black Friday and mails early. Not me. I am still finishing up on a few projects. I'll be finishing my shopping today and still have one project to do before I can ship. I generally come in on time but never early. When my kids were young I had their shopping done the first week of December, mainly because the most popular toys would sell out if I waited longer. Now that I am not worried about that I sometimes have knitted gifts drying on Christmas Eve.

As usual, I am calming my holiday anxieties by watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. I (sort of) ran out of Hallmark movies last night and checked out what was playing on Lifetime. Turns out there is a significant difference. Hallmark holiday movies take place in small towns with slightly older (to really older) characters - usually of an age to have children in the photogenic school-age to young teen ages.  Lots of dead spouses, more than I would have thought statistically likely. Lifetime seems to be going for a younger crowd with glittery parties and romance among the never-married late twenties age group. Lots of outdoor snow scenes on Hallmark, lots of dancing and parties at Lifetime. Sweaters and caps on Hallmark, cocktail dresses on Lifetime. Both channels go with a female centered story. Take your pick. The premium channels have a different selection, with big budgets centered on a more male point of view. The Hallmark bride married Santa Claus; the star of the HBO story IS Santa Claus.