Archive for November, 2007

Lost!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

No, thankfully not the child. Although, this is a picture of Julie from late 2005, so the child she was then is gone, in a way. She has grown up so much since then.

What’s lost is the hat. Sophie was wearing it this morning when we snuck out to the mall to try on new winter coats while Julie was at pre-school. She had taken it off and was holding it in her hand, and I thought I was keeping an eye on it as we strolled through Macy’s looking at the coats (none that I liked) and waiting for Eddie Bauer and J. Crew to open. We had actually walked all over the place in the store, and then I looked down and noticed that the hat was…..gone. So we walked all over the place again, scanning the floor, me begging the clerks to keep an eye out for it, to make sure it gets to Lost and Found if they see it.

I gave my phone number to the Lost and Found people and tried to explain that this hat is special, that I knit it for my older daughter and that they’ve both worn it and it’s part of our history. I know that to them I am just another self-important holiday shopper, and I can accept it. I am resigned that the hat is probably never coming back to us. It’s hard to imagine someone finding the hat and taking it for themselves – it is not in brand-new condition – but it should have been on the floor somewhere in the store, and yet it was not.

And really, although it was beautiful, and impressively comment-inspiring, it was rather ill-fitting – too narrow around and too tall. And it was knit out of Cascade 220, which can be a bit itchy. I know this because my winter hat is knit out of Cascade 220 and I am constantly scratching my forehead. For those interested, the hat was a kit from KnitWits – the Herbie model.

Anyway, we eventually gave up looking for the hat, and headed on over to look at the coats I had in mind. As I feared, neither of the two stores carried that coats in question in the store. So I ended up calling in the order for the J.Crew one from the store to get the free shipping. And because I wasn’t absolutely certain about the sizing, I ordered it in two different sizes, at least one of which I will return after I try them on. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

In a little while, I will be dressing the girls in their fabulous matching holiday dresses to go visit Father Christmas. More about that this evening, if I still have the time and energy after teaching my class tonight. Cross your other set of fingers for me that the girls cooperate!

Oh, and I’m editing to add that I just had second thoughts about the coat – not really second thoughts, just additional ruminations. I got another e-mail from Eddie Bauer offering free shipping and I figured what the heck, I’ve already mail-ordered two very expensive coats, why not go for a third? So I ordered the one I was thinking about from there, and will now be returning at least two coats once they’ve all arrived.

Also, I wanted to share this yesterday but forgot: Hip Hip Hooray! I’m wearing my pre-Sophie blue jeans. The post-Sophie blue jeans were getting ridiculously loose, so I summoned up the courage and tried on the size smaller which has been waiting patiently in my closet. They fit great! And they came from Eddie Bauer, so I was going to order another pair of them while I was at it, but guess what? Eddie Bauer no longer makes blue jeans without evil spandex content. I hate stretch pants. I’ll have to go through the pants-finding process again. But at least that can wait till after X-mas. And Julie is waiting patiently for me to bring her some construction paper, so I better go do that.

Hey, Peeps!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I'm sitting in a local coffee shop, waiting for mt friends to show up
for what we call knitting night, but what is really an excuse to see
each other and gossip like old times. I skipped out of the house pretty
quickly after Joe got home, so I've already had time to eat a sandwich
and knit a few rounds. Now I'm sipping on my Medium-sized half-caf mocha
extra hot with cinnamon. I plan on staying out till it is time to go
home and straight to bed, so there will be no more posts tonight.

Oh, and Jen? That's your birthday present hiding behind the red monkey
bag.

Wish List Update Continued

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Oh, I know you all just love me after my comments from last night! I mean, the response to this contest has been overwhelmingly fun. I truly appreciate all of your ideas, even when they are not things I personally want. I think lots of people are probably reading who are either trying to figure out what to ask for themselves, or trying to figure out what to get for cranky auntie so-and-so who is also horrid to buy for.

But, and I type this with a bit of a smirk on my face, I have gotten a few anonymous comments in the last 24 hours saying things like “I can see why you’re so hard to shop for. In fact, considering how you’ve shot down every single idea so far, I wonder why you even asked your readers for their input? ” And I laugh because um, the whole point of the contest is that I desperately want to ask for something special for me that I will enjoy, but I *am* hard to buy for! Not to mention that I haven’t shot down every single idea. Joe just told me at dinner tonight that he has ordered some pajamas for me. So thanks to all y’all who suggested pajamas of one kind or another.

And just to make it perfectly clear: I changed the rules a bit. Just because it doesn’t make it on my personal short list of gift ideas doesn’t mean you don’t get a chance at the book. If I say “your name is in the hat” that means that I’ve put your name in the pile of names from which I will draw the winner randomly.

Let’s pause to look at a gratuitous cute-kid-and-cat picture which will hopefully make us all feel ever so much more relaxed and happy.

Now, on with the Wish List comments commentary.

Several kitchen appliances have been suggested. Yes, I’m going to shoot them all down for my own personal list, but I think most of them are great suggestions for people who cook. It just so happens that earlier tonight I was using my KitchenAid mixer to whip up a double batch of chocolate chip – pecan cookie dough. I love this thing. I had put it on our wedding registry, but nobody got it for us, and then we spent the Target gift cards on a video game console for Joe – I can’t remember which one now – so then a year later I asked for and got this as a combined X-mas/Birthday present from Joe. I have to say, I’m glad I waited and did a little more research. If you’re going to bother getting a KitchenAid, get the 6-Quart Pro version with a bigger bowl and a bigger motor. I don’t think the smaller versions can handle double batches of cookie dough, or for that matter decent size loaves of bread. Now that Julie can eat wheat, I plan on trying my hand at baking bread more often.

As for the other appliances, I pretty much either already have them or don’t need them. We just bought a new coffee maker, and although it is a Target cheapie, Joe is the one who uses it and doesn’t much care about his coffee quality. I use a french press to make my cup in the morning. An immersion blender would be nice to have around, but I don’t want it to be my personal Christmas gift. I think we actually have a waffle maker around here somewhere that I bought at a garage sale a couple years ago. Must go dig it out and try making waffles.

Someone mentioned a flat-bottomed whisk, and I am intrigued by this idea for a stocking stuffer. Joe, if you can find such a thing and it’s a version that’s safe for our non-stick pans, you have my permission to buy it for me as a stocking stuffer. All y’all kitchen gadget folks can consider yourselves in the hat.

Sophiekat suggested getting someone to weave in blankie ends for me, which I actually don’t mind doing so much, and says she’s getting a massage. I’ve never had a massage before, but my back is usually a bit sore too. It’s getting better now that Sophie likes to walk on her own more, and is sleeping in our bed less. Still, good suggestions from a fellow mama!

Katy had lots of good suggestions, and I especially liked the cloth menstrual pads idea, though somehow I’m just not ready to commit to them. Funny how cloth diapers don’t bother me one bit, but the pads kinda do. Plus, I’m still strongly considering the whole ablation thing, and if I’m really lucky, it might render them useless. I think they’re a great idea in theory, though!

Oh, and she also mentioned the TV series Firefly on DVD. I’ve already watched it through Netflix, and it was great! If you haven’t seen this show yet, go buy or borrow it!

Allergicmom suggested some family board games, which sound somewhat appealing. Those would fall under family gifts, but I’m glad you brought them up so they’re in the hat. We’re done buying gifts for the girls, but maybe for the next gift-giving opportunity we’ll consider them.

I have a light tent, and I have a full-spectrum lamp. But hey, Nicole! I love the idea of bronze knitting needles! Hey, Joe – $30. I want the size 00 ones.

Hey, Carol Ann – I have New Pathways for Sock Knitters – I recommend it – and thanks to you I just added Knitting America to my Amazon wish list.

Melonkelli had several good ideas – including the Daring Book for Girls, which I think sounds like a great book but that I probably wouldn’t take the time to read any time soon, a Clover accessory case, which I think is incredibly cute, but I don’t particularly need, and something from the Textile Center, which I love but probably wouldn’t use. Good suggestions, Kelli!

Rustynoodle made me laugh my ass off when she suggested Joe have a t-shirt made for me that says “DON’T EVEN ASK…MY HUSBAND IS ASIAN” She’s obviously been reading the archives and my rants about idiots who ask me where I got my kids. Joe thought it was funny, too. Rusty, you’re in the hat for sheer humour alone!

notsupergirl suggested a “personal massager”. I have never actually owned one of those, but have always been a bit curious. I have to wonder when I would find the time and privacy I’d require to try it out. I can’t imagine trying it when Joe’s around. hee hee. (and OMG I can’t believe I’m talking about this on the internet. If you know me in person, please please please don’t ever mention having read this part.) You’re in the hat!

My friend Elizabeth suggesting this yarn CSA which I think sounds cool, but I’m having a hard time believing I would actually know what to do with the yarn. I think that would be a better option if I were a spinner and could do it with the fiber.

Michelle had lots of self-pampering ideas, all of which were very nice. You’re in the hat Michelle!

Carol suggested a Knitzi, which is like a point protector gadget for a sock-in-progress. I think it’s cool looking, but impractical for me since I have the point protectors with the end caps joined by elastic and almost never use them because I forget or am putting my knitting down so quickly that I don’t have time to fumble with them. You’re in the hat, Carol!

Oh, and I’m forgetting who suggested that I get some comfortable socks because maybe I don’t wear handknit socks all the time. And it made me laugh because I do in fact wear exclusively handknit socks in the fall/winter/spring. I took a picture of my current collection minus a couple pairs that were either on my feet or in the wash at the time.

I have enough socks to go more than three weeks between washings if I wanted to! And no, it’s not enough.

Oh, and finally for tonight – when I was shopping at Old Navy on Black Friday, looking for a winter coat for Sophie and boots for Julie, I picked up this sweater for only $25.

I like it, but the top is a little snug while the rest of it is a little loose. I’m thinking the designer didn’t take into consideration that the cables at the top would pull in so much. Joe saw it and declared that the bobbles down the front looked like extra nipples and that I could nurse a litter in it. Looking at this picture again, I think I will keep it, but trim the “bobbles” off – they’re not knit into the fabric, but knit separately and tied on, so it would be a breeze. I’m really short on wearable sweaters. I’ve put off buying new ones for way too long because I keep thinking I’m going to knit up some of the ones in my yarn closet.

Thanks again for playing, everybody – more later!

Wish List Contest Update

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I’ve gotten lots of great responses so far to the wish list, and I want to respond to so many of them, plus give people additional chances to enter the contest. The rule was that you have a random chance of winning if you suggest something that I might actually want. Part of this post is to help narrow it down for Joe, who is reading along and still looking for ideas about what to buy me, so I’m going to be honest about what works and what doesn’t. Still, there were some great ideas that just aren’t right for me at the moment, so those people will get a name in the hat as well – because I like to imagine that there are readers out there just like me who are still trying to figure out what they want for the holidays, too, and maybe your suggestions will help them.

Allergicmom suggested a Wii. Great idea! and I loved the idea of the game you suggested. But, Joe – not for me this year. Too hard to find, too expensive, and honestly I just don’t have the time to play it. I’d rather be knitting and blogging. You get your name in the hat, though.

Several people suggested an IOU or coupon-type gift for time off – a vacation or just time to myself or a night out. I’m sorry, but none of you win the prize – come back and enter again with a different idea. Here’s the thing – I’m blessed with a husband who understands that everyone needs time off to go have fun. I get to go out and teach my classes, I get to go have afternoons or nights out with the girls when I want them. And I’ve already been promised a trip away by myself when I’m ready (after Sophie is weaned, and it’s really my choice when I’m ready to wean her – I’m getting close.) There is only so much “extra” time available in our lives – only so many times when it is reasonable for me to be away – because things have to balance out with his time alone, family together time, time for chores to get done, etc. I am confident that I get my share already, and I’m sure as heck not going to accept what I consider a baseline part of our relationship in place of a Christmas gift. And neither should any of you! Besides, when people give coupons like that, it’s really not fair because most of the time we still feel guilty for cashing them in.

Serenknitity suggested a gorillapod. Interesting idea, but we already have a tripod, and I have the feeling that I’d never have it on me when I’d need it. If you’re into photography, though, go take a look.

Okay, a couple people suggested chocolate. I’m sorry, but if you’ve been reading here, you know that I just lost 15 pounds and one of the major habits I changed was the chocolate habit. Hi, I’m Shelly and I’m a chocoholic. I’m in recovery, people. We don’t keep fancy chocolate around the house right now because I have no willpower. Hell, I’ll even dig into the chocolate chips if I get desperate enough. I can hardly keep those around even. Joe, under no circumstances should you consider buying me chocolate any time soon. Anyone who made that suggestion, you’re not in the hat yet – come back and give me something more appropriate.

Another suggestion was additional knitting needles. Believe it or not, I have more size 0 dpns and circulars than I care to admit. There are probably some gaps in the other sizes, but it’s because I don’t use them very often. Nice thought, but that’s one of those items I’d buy if I needed it. And I’m too lazy to go figure out what I might want. You’re still in the hat, though.

Some people suggested various yarn clubs. Joe was all hot on this suggestion, specifically the Rockin’ Sock Club. He was all ready to whip out his credit card. I think it’s a great idea, and anyone who suggested something like it is in the hat. But here’s the thing. I already have tons of sock yarn. I love surprises, but I hate it when I get surprised with something that doesn’t suit me. A big part of buying sock yarn for me is the falling in love with a specific skein. It’s seeing it, fondling it, loving so much that I can’t bear not to buy it. There is no way I could actually keep up with knitting along with a sock club, and I have a feeling it would just end up making me less happy over the course of the year as it all piled up unknit. So that’s a no-go.

Lynn suggested various knitting notions for the stocking stuffers. That’s a maybe. Joe, if you can find something cute and funny that you think I’d love, I’d be down with it. You know that stitch marker you found in the car the other day (and readers, go check out his post – it’s hilarious!) I could use another packet of those. Seems kinda silly sending him to the yarn store for them, though – I’m in there twice a week.

A couple people suggested digital picture frames and/or photo albums. My Sidekick takes care of the portable pictures thing, and I like regular frames for around the house. I do need to buy and fill some more, though. Still, good idea for other people.

Oh, and Tupperware was another suggestion. I like Tupperware too, but in my mind, that is not a Christmas gift. That is a household necessity. It’s not like I’m the only person who benefits from it – the whole family benefits from the work I do in the kitchen. Still, it’s fun to go to their site and poke around. Maybe after Christmas spending is over I’ll pick up a few new pieces. But I always do worry about plastics and food…must find balance!

Heather says I should get a magazine subscription. I already subscribe to a cooking magazine or two, and no fewer than four knitting magazines. I love getting mail! It’s a great idea, but I’m already taken care of.

Sue suggested an annual pass to the zoo for the family. That’s another one of those not-really-for-me gifts. I think it’s a great idea if someone like the grandparents wanted to buy it for all of us. But I’d kinda be offended if they bought it just for me. Try again, Sue!

TheBon had some great ideas. A digital food scale – yep, I have two! They’re great! Digital probe meat thermometers – I wouldn’t try to cook without mine. I have a great one that has a probe attached with a wire to a unit that sits outside the oven. You can set the temperature you want, and an alarm will go off when the meat reaches it. It has a timer built in, too. Put that on your list if you don’t have one. Oh, and we have Here Come the ABCs (not a gift for me, though – that’d be for the kids!) and we love it. Thanks for the heads up on Here Come the 123s, and if you haven’t already, go check out N0! We love that one too.

J. Denae suggested a massage or facial. Hm. Interesting idea – I’ve never had a real massage, and it might do me good. She also suggested classes of some sort. It’d be tempting, but it runs into that time commitment thing, which I think I’m already maxed out on. I will say that the next time Susan Rainey teaches her zipper class at the Yarnery, I’m planning on finding a way to take it if at all possible. She also suggested DVDs of a tv show I want to watch – I use Netflix for that and love it. If you don’t have Netflix already, ask for a subscription! I gave one to Joe last year for Christmas, and he loves it. I just added an extra DVD to my subscription and set him up with his own queue. He didn’t think he would use it at all, but he does, and in fact it has saved us a lot of money because he was buying those DVDs before instead of borrowing them.

Wow – it’s getting late, and I’m nowhere near through the comments so far. One last thing, though – lots of suggestions for PJs. And that’s one that I’m 90% sure he’s going to get me. I showed him the pajamas in the Eddie Bauer catalog. I like the flannel pants and the long-sleeved t-shirts. Some day I will wear silk pajamas, but they’re just not practical right now.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up and head to bed. But tomorrow, I’m going to head to the mall while Julie’s at pre-school and see about trying on some coats.

Holidazzled

Monday, November 26th, 2007

We had a really cool, surprise evening of fun today. This afternoon, a good friend of ours called us up and asked if our family wanted to be in the Holidazzle Parade tonight. Our friend works for Metro Transit, and part of his job is doing publicity for and and being in charge of the Twinkle Bus during the parade.

For those of you not native to the Twin Cities, we have this parade thing that happens in downtown Minneapolis every Thursday through Sunday from Thanksgiving till Christmas. They’ve been doing it for sixteen years now, I guess, and it’s not just a parade. It’s a lighted parade in the dark and in the cold, and there are people dressed up as all kinds of characters – and the costumes have lights all over them! And the floats have lights all over them! And it’s really neat and the kids love it, and there is always a crowd even when it is cold because it’s fun and exciting!

And we – we were very excited at the prospect of not just *seeing* the parade, but *riding* in the parade too. So we fed the girls a little early, put on our warm coats, and hopped in the van. We arrived in plenty of time to watch the floats setting up – in fact, we were stuck in traffic for a minute as the floats drove by from wherever they store them to their setup point and it was really funny because Joe said “Hey, look at that, the circus must be in town – it looks like a circus train!” And he was serious, and then I looked up and saw what he was pointing at and said “Uh, honey, those are the parade floats.” It was mildly amusing.

And then we got there and started walking around amongst the floats, looking for our ride. And I realized that, like an idiot, I had left my camera at home on the kitchen counter. So all I have to show you are these crappy camera-phone photos. So crappy, in fact, that Photoshop didn’t recognize the sideways ones and automatically rotate them for me like the good software it usually is.


Yep, that’s a pretty crappy photo, but you can see the smiling faces.

And we found our bus – all decked out for the parade. Those snowmen on top of the bus – they wave their hands at the crowd as the bus passes by. Our friend J. was there, being all organized and taking care of details. His son M was there too, and some other friends of theirs, who were also very nice. M and his other little boy friend are the same age as Julie, and the stark contrast between the rowdiness of the little boys and the somewhat shy observance of our little girl struck me a bit.

Our place was almost at the end of the parade, so we got to stand at the corner and watch most of the floats as they started off. There was, indeed, a circus train.

Complete with little “animals” that were just as cute as could be – those are kids dressed up in the costumes.

The Hansel and Gretl float was beautiful, except for the witch who rode in the very front of it – not visible in my crappy picture, but she was a bit scary. I picked Julie up and gave her a big hug till that one went by.

Before long, it was time for us to take our places on the bus. Here’s the view from the inside…Julie is looking up at the string which somehow I ended up being responsible for pulling – the string that makes the snowman on top of the bus wave at the crowd. It was kind of fun!

Joe and Sophie waving out the window. And somehow, Joe kept letting Sophie climb down the bench to sit with me, even though there was no room on the bench by me and I didn’t have an extra hand to hold Sophie on the bench (because we were in a moving vehicle and all). Not that I’m complaining or anything.

Really, it was a great time. Our friend even handed out little flashing buttons for us to wear during the parade, and to take home. It just so happens that tomorrow’s Show-and-Tell at pre-school is something that starts with the letter F, so Julie can take her “flasher” in and show it to her friends and tell them all about how she rode in the parade.

Saturday Stuff

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Beowulf was fun. It wasn’t a great movie, but the 3-D part was pretty cool. It reminded me a lot of looking at the Viewmaster slides, only oh-so-bigger and better. And it was fun to be out and about, free of responsibility for a few hours with my husband. Not to mention the popcorn.

I’m loving the suggestions on the Christmas list so far. Some of them are totally off-base, but there are at least as many pretty good recommendations. Keep ‘em coming!

My new coat came in the mail yesterday. I opened it up and tried it on, and I was more than a little disappointed with it. It was too big, and the fabric was less than appealing, and it just didn’t look good on me. So I took it back to the local store, no problem. But now I need to find another coat to buy. I’ve looked all over the Internet and haven’t found anything that just screams “Buy me, I’m the one!” Right now I’m down to two contenders that are close maybes.

I like the crisp lines of this one at J Crew. I like that it has Thinsulate lining for warmth in Minnesota weather. I like the length. The price is a little high – the price is kind of a lot high. And I really wish they had it in an olive green color kind of like the coat I’ve been wearing for the last seven years. The brown color might not be too bad, though.

This one over at Eddie Bauer is a lot more affordable, and in fact is the one I was thisclose to buying earlier in the week. It doesn’t come in green, either, but the merlot isn’t bad. Joe says it’s okay if I buy whichever one I want, especially if I think I’ll wear it for as long as the current one. What do you all think?

I need to go get a little knitting done before bed…

Post-Thanksgiving MishMash

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Hey, everyone – I’m really sorry last night’s post was such a cop-out. I mean, I’m not ashamed to post a cop-out post here and there during National-Gonna-Blog-Every-Day-Dammit-Month. It’s gotta happen. (Although I have to admit this month so far has been a good exercise in getting me to write at least a little something every day, and perhaps has inspired me to write one or two better-than-usual posts maybe). Yesterday, I had a very nice blog post all written in my head and then BAM! by the time I got home from dinner at the family’s I was a walking zombie. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, let alone type something coherent.

So here I am now, and I won’t try to say what I was going to say yesterday, I’ll just do a little brain dump and call it a night.

First, look what I finished on Thanksgiving morning…

Some Rainbow Barf socks for Julie, which I cast on just before the sock class I recently taught – these were my Magic Loop examples. Julie had been begging for more socks, and I figured smaller socks would be easier to knit along with the class. I let Julie pick the yarn.

That picture just speaks for itself, no?

I did 2X2 ribbing all the way down the cuff and along the insteps. It’s the basic standard traditional flap-and-gusset sock, no pattern need be named, but I used 50 stitches circumference on size zero needles. I’m feeling a little bit guilty because this project went completely unmentioned on Ravelry till – well, I’ll put it up right after this post. Is it cheating to cast on a bunch of projects and not put them up because who knows when you’ll get around to actually knitting on them? That’s a whole other post.

Back to Thanksgiving, though. It was a nice day, and best of all because I was only responsible for one dish. I made the green bean casserole, and instead of following the traditional canned-soup, canned-bean recipe, I once again followed Emeril’s recipe, only this year I used this recipe for the mushroom soup. Last year I spent more than I want to think about on fancy mushrooms, and all it got me was WAY too much mushroom flavor. This year I went with the simple and cheap, and was wonderful. I had a bowl of the leftover soup for dinner tonight, and it was great. And the casserole turned out great this time too.

We went to Joe’s cousin Sarah’s house for dinner, and because Sophie hadn’t napped all day, she fell asleep in the car on the way there, and miraculously slept through me carrying her inside and laying her down in her cousin N’s crib. She slept for a good hour, long enough for me to indulge in a glass of wine (enough to give me a good buzz and account to some extent for the extreme exhaustion later in the evening). Julie and her cousin K. were upstairs watching a video for the same amount of pre-dinner time, which meant that I was free to hang out with the in-laws and chat ‘em all up, for better or for worse. It was great!

Sophie eventually woke up, in a great mood, and had all kinds of fun on the indoor playground.

Joe and Julie did a little story-cuddle, which was sweet.

We all stuffed ourselves on the most traditional of American 20th-century middle-class Thanksgiving food, including pie for all. I have to admit that during the pre-meal prayer, I shed a few tears when Sarah mentioned thanks for Julie being able to eat whatever she wants. Heck, I’m shedding a tear right now thinking of it. I am SO thankful for that! I think this was Sophie’s first taste of pie…

And Julie thoroughly enjoyed her slice – she chose pecan.

Wanna know a pet peeve of mine? Where I grew up, it was pronounced puh-cahn. Everyone here pronounces it pee-CAN. ARGH! Like fingernails on a chalkboard!

But back to the story. Joe chose to get up at 2:00 this morning so that he could be at Best Buy to stand in line in 10-degree (Fahrenheit) weather for three hours to buy an X-Box 360 with Guitar Hero game package. It’s my X-mas gift to him. He got it, he’s happy. Then he came home and slept till we all woke up.

And then – then we went and had breakfast with an old friend. Back when Joe and I were dating and pretty much until we had kids, we used to eat breakfast more Sundays than not at the New Uptown Diner. We’d almost always split the Cajun Breakfast, and it is awesome. We only went a few times after Julie was born because she was so fussy it was hard to eat out with her, and then once we figured out the allergies it really wasn’t safe for her to eat there. Since she’s been eating everything again, we’d been planning to go eat at the Diner some morning, and today was the day. Only now there is a satellite restaurant called the New Calhoun Diner right by us, and we went there and it was all the same good greasy goodness. mm-MMM! Julie and Sophie had pancakes bigger than their heads, and everyone was happy.

We did a little shopping, in search of new winter boots for Julie (who loves to sing along to the Interjection! song on Schoolhouse Rock)

And a new winter coat for Sophie (how did we manage to get Julie to this age without ever having purchased a winter coat in size 2T – oh, because she was wearing 2T when she was barely 1 and therefore was still wearing the bunting style of winterwear.)

Sophie loves to take her shoes and socks off while riding in the car.

She’s always so proud of herself.

We made it home and ate Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch, I put Sophie down for a nap, then I sent Joe upstairs for a nap. Julie and I did some cheesy arts and crafts stuff, Sophie woke up and we made and at some cookies (just a few from the pre-made dough I got in the school fundraiser) and then it was time to go meet up with awesome reader Katy who came through on the awesome Viewmaster offer. I can’t believe she was willing to give us her childhood toy – not only an old-school viewer, but a projector and a stack of reels – all quality ones that I’m happy to share with my kids. I know, most of you probably think I’m crazy to hate Dora the Explorer with the passion that I do, but really she is evil incarnate.

Anyway, Katy was really cool and sweet even though I had, uh, left the package I’d meant to bring for her on the kitchen counter at home (argh!) – Katy, it’s all packaged up and ready for me to mail out on Monday! And also, even though I was incredibly distracted my my four-year-old who was being a little monster-brat. I swear, she is not that bratty most of the time, but then again I don’t usually take her out for meet-and-greets at 4:30 in the afternoon. I should have known better, I just didn’t want to wake Joe up from his nap when he was clearly so tired. I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I was in Julie’s behavior. But it was really nice to meet Katy and put a face to the comments! Thanks again, Katy!

I look a little wild-eyed and crazed in that picture- trust me, I was. I was so pissed off at the squirming, whining preschooler in the stroller in front of me.

Now I must off to bed – tomorrow, the in-laws are coming over to watch the girls so that Joe and I may go see Beowulf in 3-D at the IMAX theater. All reports say that Beowulf is a horrid movie and not worth seeing even for the 3-D. You know what? I don’t care. Anything for the chance to go somewhere and sit in peace with my husband for a few hours. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 3-D movie before. I just hope I don’t get motion-sickness. Do people get motion-sickness in 3-D movies? Full report tomorrow.

Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

I’m posting only because of NaBlogMo – I’m exhausted. We had a great Thanksgiving, I am very thankful, my stomach is even a little bit thankful. Now I’m going to bed. Sorry.

Wish List – and a Contest!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Life is so simple sometimes. Like tonight, I mentioned during dinner that we would be going to meet Santa next week (and by the way, if you live in the Twin Cities, we visit the best Santa ever at Steamworks Coffee, and it’s a great deal. Go check it out.) I told Julie that she would get a chance to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas, and asked her what she would tell him. She said “An Angelina Ballerina doll” and I did a mental jumping-up-and-down YAY! She also mentioned that she expects Santa to leave the doll in her stocking. And I’m thinking that can be arranged. It’s good to know that I’ve scored at least one home run already.

Now, on to my own wish list for Christmas, which is oh, so much harder. The problem is that as a a grown-up, things that I want tend to fall into one of two categories:

1) I wanted/needed it badly enough and we could afford it, so I went ahead and bought it. For instance:

  • Last year I told Joe that I really really wanted a new laptop after Christmas, and we went and bought it for me. Geesh, was that just a year ago?
  • I really wanted a new handbag recently, so I bought one.
  • When I got my eyes checked a couple weeks ago, I needed new regular glasses, but I also treated myself to my first-ever set of prescription sunglasses as well.
  • On top of that, I just ordered myself a new winter coat last night – more on that when it arrives, but it was kind of a necessary purchase – although the one I have is at least five years old, probably six or more, it’s still in fairly good shape and I *could* squeeze another year out of it if I had to.
  • That crazy brownie pan, which is awesome – I bought it for myself just a month ago!
  • And when it comes down to it, when I want some new yarn or a new knitting book – when I know that I *really* want it enough to part with the money, guess what? I buy it. This is why I have more yarn and books than I know what to do with.

Which leaves me with category number two – stuff that I would love to have, stuff that I would really love, but can live without and/or we really can’t afford, at least right now. Like:

  • Lasik eye surgery – I’d be a great candidate for that. I have awful nearsightedness, but it is stable. My eyes haven’t changed notably since I stopped growing. To get it done right, it would cost around $4,000.
  • Remodel the upstairs bathroom – we as a family almost desperately need this. But it would cost at least $5,000 to do it the way I would want to do it, not to mention no end of hassle.
  • A new couch in the living room. And a new coffee table and rug while we’re at it, but I could settle for just one of those things right off. I want a nice couch with slipcovers that we can wash, or at least have dry cleaned, when someone marks on them or does something unspeakably worse. I’m thinking Sophie’s going to be potty training in a couple years. I think I’d like a sectional to replace both of the couches we currently have, which are old, yucky and don’t even match or fit the space very well. This would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500 at least.
  • Okay, but before I spend that kind of money on new furniture, I’ve been wanting to get a consultation from an interior designer. A friend of mine told me about some people she used when she was getting ready to sell her house. For a couple hundred dollars, you can hire them to walk through your house with you and tell you how to re-arrange your own stuff to improve the flow, and just make things feel nicer. I bet if I hired them, they would make a recommendation as to what kind of couch would work best in our kind of weirdly laid out space. This might be an actual option for a present for me, although it really would be in the interest of the whole family, it’s on the upper cost end of what I dare ask for as a present, and it would feel pretty silly to get all this advice and not be able to use it. But I’m sharing my dreams here, so now you know.
  • I’d also kind of like the new Sidekick LX now that I’ve seen it in person. The brown color is a lot darker in person than it is in the pictures. Unfortunately, I haven’t had my Sidekick 3 long enough to qualify for contract rebates on a new phone, so the thing would cost around $400. I can’t justify that much money on a slightly-fancier version of an electronic toy I already own, even if I use it every day.

I’m sure I could think of several other incredibly spendy options, including fancy vacations that we also can’t afford. The thing is, they just don’t fit into our standard of living, and that is okay. We just saved up and bought a mini-van, and every time I get into it I think about how glad I am that we were able to buy it outright instead of having to finance it. We are only able to live the way we do with me at home full-time because we choose not to go into debt to buy fancy stuff all the time.

So, what to tell people when they ask what I want? Namely Joe, who is the only person who has asked. I don’t really love the idea of gift certificates. So here is what I’ve come up with.

Knitting Lace by Susanna E. Lewis. It’s long out of print, but copies are available – for around $90. I’ve wished for this one for a long time, but the price tag has always seemed a little too high to justify it. I have a wish list over at Amazon, and there are other more reasonably priced books on it. Any of those would still make me quite happy, and there is a nice range of prices among them. Be very wary of buying me a knitting book not on this list! I have a lot of knitting books already, and the ones I don’t have (of those that are in print) are likely to be ones I’ve considered and rejected.

There are a couple of different page-a-day calendars about knitting out there. I bought both of them for myself last year and was not all that thrilled with either, so I may just wait till after Christmas and look for them on sale. But if someone put one in my stocking, I’d receive it gladly.

I was briefly toying with the idea of that software the Yarn Harlot mentioned a few weeks ago. But I already have Stitch Painter software, and I don’t have any immediate plans for designing charted patterns. Plus, it’s kind of expensive.

There is one thing I saw during the shop hop a couple months ago. It was that Artyarns Beaded Cashmere. I found it online here, and I like the colorways 2265-G and 2218-G. I remember seeing some Artyarns at Amazing Threads, but I can’t remember if they had the cashmere as well. Anyway, if a certain husband were to find a supply of this stuff and were willing to fork over the cash for it, I’d need at least two skeins, but three to be safe in order to make a scarf to go with my new coat. But again, that’s pretty expensive.

Alright, and this leads me to the contest. I need ideas. What do I want for Christmas? I don’t want an i-pod (I have an mp3 player built into my cell phone, as well as a separate Creative Zen nano, which more than cover my needs.) I don’t like smelly stuff – no candles, no scented soaps, no bath bombs unless they’re stink-free. I’m trying to lose weight, so candy and food aren’t great ideas. Fun kitchen tools might be nice, other knitting-related stuff might be nice, some piece of clothing that would suit me perfectly (although I don’t iron anything ever). Go crazy with ideas. I’ll admit it, I’m hard to buy for!

It just so happens that I sort of accidentally ended up with two copies of Clara Parkes’ new book – The Knitter’s Book of Yarn. I was so excited about it, I ordered it online, then forgot that I’d ordered it online and scooped up a copy at my LYS when it was available. Oops. But it seems like a great book, and maybe one of you would like it as a little early Christmas present from me. Just post a comment on this post suggesting a gift that you think my husband should get for me for Christmas. It needs to be under $100. Deadline is blog-posting time on December 1st (whenever I get the kids in bed and get around to my computer). I’ll post a list of the gift suggestions that I think actually fit my wants, and randomly draw a winner from those who suggested them. Make sure you include an e-mail address so I can contact you if you’re a winner. Oh, and Joe needs to stuff my stocking too (and I’m not talking innuendo here- I mean an actual Christmas stocking.) Give him some ideas for that as well. Thanks in advance for playing along!

Tossed-Salad Tuesday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

This post is not about tossed salad. I just needed a title, and it’s sort of a toss-salad of topics for this Tuesday – sorry, the holiday wish list is going to take at least one more day to ferment in my brain. And in case any of you reading this who haven’t heard me talk in person are wondering, yes, I really do say things like “ferment in my brain” and sometimes when I say things like that, they come out with a slightly southern accent. I am, after all, from Missouri originally. Now that we got that straight, I’m going with a camera-dump post.

Sophie has a thing for messing with the Daisy cat whenever she gets the chance. Thankfully, Daisy is pretty patient with her. We have another cat, Harry, but the kids rarely see him because he spends most of his time hiding from them in the basement. I can’t explain why Sophie is wrapped up in the afghan, but it was cute. That afghan was a gift from my maternal grandmother, and even though I barely knew her, I hold it dear.

Sophie with “Aunt Dottie”

And with “Uncle Bill”

There is a back story here. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Bill are actually the aunt and uncle of my Julie’s namesake, my best friend who died of ovarian cancer two years ago in July. They are good people, and sort of my own adopted extended family. They live in St. Louis and were up here for a wedding, so they stopped by Sunday afternoon. Sophie took to Bill like a duck on water. Both girls enjoyed their visit, and ran a little wild while they were here. I think it was the toys they brought.

Here is proof positive that I am not the perfect mom, nor do I always make the best of food choices. We had McD’s for lunch yesterday. Julie tried chicken nuggets for the first time ever, and liked them, and one of their hamburgers for the first time ever and hated it. At least we ate grapes and carrots along with our grease. I only do fast food like that maybe once a month, usually less. It used to be that Julie could only eat the french fries.

Sophie likes the grease too…

Here is today’s lunch just before I served it.

This is much more typical at our house. It takes about five minutes to throw together, and even though they are going to leave something untouched on their plate, it’s all healthy and they’re likely to try something they don’t normally eat if I just slip it quietly onto their plate. Julie loves it when I give her big chunks of, or preferably whole, cucumbers. Nobody but me ate the celery today. Those crackers? They’re wheat, but they’re a healthier whole-foods version of they type of cracker they resemble. Darn tasty, though!

And finally, Daisy came over to check out the giant bandage on my foot. That stupid toenail started to grow back, and it was immediately ingrowing again. This time I made it in to see an actual podiatrist, and he “took care of it” permanently (we hope). The good news is that the procedure was 99% painless. He somehow managed to numb that sucker up entirely, and was dismayed to hear what I had suffered through at the urgent care, although not surprised. He hears about it all the time. Man, he even had this magic freezing spray that he put on before doing the lydocaine injections, so those barely hurt.

Oh, and a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the Christmas presents for the girls. Thanks to all of you who mentioned tips about the View Masters. I hadn’t even considered getting vintage ones, but that’s a great idea, and reader Katy says she may even have some around to pass on to the girls (crossing my fingers!) Hey, Katy – I could pay you in sock yarn and patterns if you want!

As soon as she mentioned that, I went and checked out e-bay – they have tons listed, and I may bid on a lot of those eventually. I had kind of a negative experience on e-bay recently where the seller claimed the handbag I bought was in barely used condition and it arrived quite worn. I tried disputing it through Paypal and got a big fat zilch back out of it. But you place your bet, you takes your chances. I’ve had lots of other quite positive experiences with e-bay and I guess eventually I’ll have to jump back on the horse.

Also, thanks to Kathy for the heads-up about Hearthsong. I will keep an eye on the calendar, and cancel the order if they don’t ship in reasonable time. That is SO frustrating!

Alright, I’m off to surf the net for my own present ideas. By the way, after writing yesterday’s post, I started to wonder if maybe the present list for the girls is not so excessive after all. I mean, we don’t have a huge extended family. They won’t be getting many additional gifts besides what we give them – maybe 2-3 others, and probably half of those are likely to be ones we deem totally inappropriate and likely to “disappear” quickly. I’m really hoping we can convince Joe’s parents to buy them a play tent with a tunnel attached. So let me ask you – if they were your kids, would you get them more stuff or less? Honestly. You won’t hurt my feelings. Also, if you have suggestions of toys you think I might really really like for the girls, what are they?