Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Tonight is New Year's Eve, the last night of 2009 as well as another full moon. You can read all about the "blue moon" on Susan's blog. It looks like we won't be seeing it though as it's raining here. We did, however, catch a glimpse of the almost full moon last night as we walked through our neighborhood, enjoying the clear skies and the remaining holiday lights. Waiting in our email this morning were two new photos from Chicago.

Look who's almost up on his hands and knees. Jill and Michael do such a good job of sending us photos and helping us keep up with the daily changes in our 3 grandchildren. It's hard being so far away, but thanks to technology we can stay in touch. Here's Sophia wearing a robe that my mom made for Jill many years ago. Jill, however, did not have the same pair of sparkly shoes that Sophia is wearing.

Now that we've celebrated Catherine's birthday, I can show my last few handmade gifts. In keeping with Seattle's green effort, I knit a bag for Catherine to take to the market. It's Vicki Square's pattern, a free download from Knitting Daily some time ago. The basketweave stitch which is used on the edges was quite interesting and fun to do. Catherine had admired the Rhythm scarf, so it is now hers. We enjoyed a fun evening altogether with Dick's brother and his wife, Mary, Brent, Carl, and Melinda all there to wish Catherine another happy year. (And yes, we had Coca-Cola Cake!)

One other project which I sewed for Catherine for Christmas was a case for her Kindle, using Kim Walus's Bookeeper pattern from the Moda Bakeshop site. It's a fun way to use a bit of stash and useful to boot.

As the last of 2009 draws to a close, I'd like to wish everyone a blessed New Year, one of happy times and good health. With two family weddings in the early part of the year, 2010 promises to be interesting!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Knitting Projects: Hats, a Scarf, Some Socks, and a Dishcloth

Knowing that my BIL, Bob, was spending Christmas on the Oregon Coast and time before New Year's visiting friends and relatives back East, I decided he might need a warm hat since he's used to the relatively mild weather in Palo Alto. Dee supplied me with the link to a fun pattern and here is the Ryan hat:

Our other BIL lives in Minnesota and can always use a warm hat in the winter, this one especially. So, I used some yarn from last year's hat-making and created a two tone version of Ed's Hat, a pattern from the Lionbrand website.

For my SIL, Mary, I made a scarf using a very interesting yarn called Bahamas. That particular Ironstone yarn has huge slubs which make it a little tricky to knit with. I love the color.

And then David asked for a pair of blue socks. For those I used one of the balls of cotton yarn that Jill found in a knitting bag I had given her. The receipt was there too with my name on it, so I reclaimed them and of course, David chose the blue one. What was I going to make with those balls of red, white, and blue? I have no idea, but I sure have enough for quite a few pairs of socks for little feet!

My last big knitting project I can't show till after Catherine's birthday, but I did give her a dishcloth in her favorite colors. She pronounced it "too pretty to use" which got me thinking. How come we have the idea that dishes don't deserve to be washed with something pretty? Oh well, most people have dishwashers now days I guess.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aprons A-Plenty, a Bib and a Few Potholders

Now that all the gifts have been opened, I can share some of my fall projects. Earlier I posted a photo of an apron made for Angelina's December birthday. Well, since I really made 6 of these Vanilla House patterns (3 large and 3 small) plus 1 bib and several potholders with the leftover fabric, I think this pattern needs a rest. The really fun part is picking out the material and buttons, but it's a relatively quick and easy project, once you've done the first one.

Apparently Sophia has taken to sleeping in her apron along with her new Bert doll and a miniature broom.

This one was for my sister Jane, who made an apron for each of her grandkids and forgot to do one for herself.

I used pickle fabric on the back of Sophia and Jill's aprons and a tomato print for David, Michael, and Daniel. Everyone has chicken buttons as a reminder of the Ohio farm trip, while the girls have sunflowers and the boys have red peppers as a reminder of this year's garden bounty.


Would you believe there is still fabric left? Now that I have a bit more time, maybe I'll make some napkins! That sounds about my speed at the moment!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy this special time with friends and family!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Guess who just turned 40 last Friday?

Jill broke with tradition and made something other than a Coca-Cola cake because David, whose current interest is Outer Space, wanted a space shuttle cake for his daddy. I think she did a great job!

David and Sophia had a great time celebrating Daddy's milestone birthday.


And in case you're interested, here's the family birthday cake recipe for COCA-COLA CAKE
(from a friend who found it in the Farmer's Almanac long ago)

Sift together:
2 cu flour
2 cu sugar
3 heaping T. cocoa
½ tsp. salt

Bring to a boil and pour over sifted,
dry ingredients:
1 stick margarine
½ cu cooking oil
1 cu Coca-Cola

Add:
½ cu buttermilk or sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 tsp. Vanilla

Beat batter till smooth, then
fold in 1 ½ cu mini-marshmallows.
Turn into greased 9X13 pan. Spread
marshmallows around with spatula.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 min.

Icing
Put in saucepan:
½ stick margarine
3 T cola or milk
2 T cocoa

Bring to boil, then add:
1 ½ cu powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cu. chopped nuts or coconut (opt.)
Pour over hot cake and spread evenly.
Decorate with sprinkles. Allow to cool
in pan.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Random Thoughts and the Last 2009 TUSAL

Santa shows up in the strangest places: having arrived in a most unconventional vehicle, an emergency response ambulance, here he is at Sylvan Lake with David and Sophia. What is David looking at? Not Santa! Nor is Sophia. She wanted Santa to be sure and notice her pink snowsuit and green frog boots! Classy, eh?


Our kitchen counter doesn't look at all Christmasy since this plant arrived. The UW hospital had a great orchid sale a few weeks ago, and we succumbed to this beauty. Many of its buds fell off with the shock of being transported in the cold, but the few that opened are truly beautiful. We were intrigued by the tiny hooks at the end of each bottom petal.


The new moon date totally escaped me, perhaps thanks to our overcast skies and the fact that we haven't seen any stars ever since our weather returned to normal. Notice the new container and how the threads spread out when they were no longer squished!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back to Normal!

The clear skies and cold temperatures have moved on, and our normal winter rain has returned along with warmer days. What you've heard about the wet weather in the Pacific Northwest, I heard "Northwet" on the radio recently, is mostly true and is certainly reflected in our vegetation. We're the EVERGREEN State for a good reason. Many of our tree branches are covered with lichen, like this hairy branch.

Long ago in biology class, we read about lichens and moss. Moss was common in the Wisconsin woods, but back then I never expected to live in a place where lichen grew so readily. It's everywhere, even on rocks in our garden.

And then there are these little critters which are all over the sidewalks. At first we thought they were the result of errant birds, but on closer examination, we realized that they are some sort of plant!

Our damp and chilly weather make a warm hat a necessity. We learned in a mountaineering class once that you lose a lot of your bodily heat when your head isn't covered, so a knit hat makes a lot of sense in this climate. Thanks to Dee and her blog, I found a link to this pattern called "Utopia." It was fun to do and should keep someone's ears and head nice and warm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Birthdays

Ever since I had a December baby, I've had a special spot in my heart for people born during that month. So often, their birthdays are lost in the hustle and bustle surrounding the holidays. My friend Debbie and her daughter have December birthdays that are before Christmas, so this year I made an apron (Vanilla House pattern) for Angelina and a matching hotpad for Debbie, hoping they'll know that their special days are important, too.
Happy Baking, Debbie and Angelina!

Our Catherine's birthday is a few days after Christmas, and one of her fond memories is a half-birthday celebration that Aunt Jane had for her long ago one June when Catherine ventured off to Minnesota all alone to spend a week with her cousins. What a great idea, don't you think?

A couple weeks ago, during a tough week, I got this beautiful coaster in the mail from Sheila, who'd had a giveaway on her blog. Little did she know how this gift lifted my spirits. Thanks again, Sheila. I love pewter and your blog.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NOEL!

'Tis the season for church programs and choir concerts. Thanks to Grandma Janet, we have this photo of Jill with Sophia and David, following behind them, from last weekend at Jill and Michael's church in Illinois.


We spent this morning rehearsing for tomorrow's Worship Though Music Service, which will be streamed live at 9 and 11 AM, Pacific Standard Time. If you care to join us in the morning, just click on the "Watch Live" button in the lower right-hand corner of the church website. Join us this third Sunday in Advent as we celebrate Jesus' birth through song: Noel!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Beginning to FEEL a Lot Like Christmas!

For the past several mornings, all the rooftops have been very frosty, and the thermometer outside has shown temperatures in the twenties, which is quite chilly for us. The cats have taken to "fighting" over who gets to sleep on the register. Mocha, who has perfected an impressive growl, usually wins, and sure enough, she wasn't sharing one inch today as a lengthy "Grrrrrrr!" came up from under the desk as I was reading email.
The Heater Hog

As you can see from their dress and rosy cheeks, our family in Chicago is not stopped by frosty temperatures. David left us a phone message about their exciting trip to see the Christmas Train. Looks like I need to knit Jill a hat one of these days!
Waiting for the Christmas Train

I've been busily working on Christmas projects most of which I can't share. However, I did complete these mitts for a friend, and despite their springy color, they keep hands nice and warm. Thanks to Pat, I discovered this pretty pattern and a new knit shop to explore the next time we go to Ellensburg.
Fingerless Gloves

Another sure sign of the holidays is the annual women's Christmas dessert at church. For the past several year, my friend Debbie and I have decorated a table together, and this year she created a lovely centerpiece with a variety of beautiful ornaments that she made from applesauce, cinnamon, and glue. These were hung from a tree and surrounded by old cooky books and cutters, making our table look very festive, indeed.
One of Debbie's ornaments

Mysterious boxes have a way of appearing on our doorstep at this time of year, and Friday saw the first one, an intriquing two-colored Christmas cactus from our daughter's inlaws. Now the challenge will be to get it to bloom again next year!
Thank you, Montsic and Janet!

The calendar speeds up at this time of year, I am sure of it. Each day seems to last but a moment, leading up to that holiest of nights, Christmas Eve, and shortens the time left for creating yet another gift.