Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day of Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days. It's in the top five with my birthday, my anniversary, Christmas Eve and July fourth. Sorry, kids, but your birthdays are in the top ten. They cost me money, plus I have to bake a cake and cook your favorite supper. I like my birthday much better even if it means I add a year to my age. The Man does all the cooking and I get presents. That's a great day.

Thanksgiving is all about food, family, fun, and festivity. As my friend Terri would say, "Life is all Fs right now!" Since we had dinner at my sissy's house, I did not have to get up at o'dark thirty to start the turkey. I had a rather leisurely morning, filled with pulling up Christmas decorations from the basement and eating monkey bread. This stuff is delicious and deadly. * not attempt to eat this dish alone. You will eat the whole thing by yourself.* I found the recipe here. It was so good I made it again on Saturday morning when my twin six year old nieces slept over. One of them asked, "Auntie, can we bring the monkey bread home?" Oooops, I forgot to give it to her. We ate it Sunday morning. Sorry D.

We spent the rest of the day at sissy's, ate until we had to be rolled away from the table, took a walk, ate some more, made some Christmas ornaments, and left for home. A full day, but oh-so-much fun.

I used these instructions for the Christmas ornaments. The flower fairies were a huge hit with all the girls. We limited ourselves to Christmas colors and flowers but really you can use anything. Some of them were much more sparkly than others. Show-offs. My son's girlfriend missed out on the flower fairy making. She wants me to do it again so she can make some. I told you they were a huge hit.

The rest of the weekend was spent with my nieces and a sleepover at Auntie's, decorating the house for Christmas, celebrating my BIL's birthday with homemade chicken and dumplings that the Man made, and cleaning my bedroom. Honestly, I don't know who keeps messing it up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homemade Vanilla tutorial

I have used so many tutorials over the years that I'm starting to feel guilty. This is my rather meager attempt at writing a tutorial. I picked something easy - a child could do this. Well, except for buying the vodka - they can't do that. And you probably don't want them measuring and pouring it either. Oh yeah, there's a sharp knife involved. I'd keep them away from that, too. So maybe this isn't really a tutorial for a child to follow. But it's easy enough that they could.

It takes thirty days to make homemade vanilla. Well, it doesn't take you thirty days to make it. Rather, it ferments for thirty days so you'll want to start this around Thanksgiving if you want to give these bottles away for Christmas gifts.

You're going to need three things: medium sized glass bottles with cork tops, vanilla beans and vodka. You use one vanilla bean and one cup of vodka per bottle. Wash and dry the bottles and corks.

Slice open one side of the vanilla bean pod with the tip of a sharp knife. I don't cut all the way through the pod, just one side of it. After I cut it, I bend it a little bit to open it up some. You can use your fingers to do this too. Put one vanilla bean in each bottle. You may have to bend the bean to get it completely in the bottle.

Pour in one cup of vodka making sure the vanilla beans are completely submerged. The bottle in the front has only a half cup of vodka in it since I ran out. I had to go get more vodka. A fifteen minute project turned into an hour long project. Moral of the story? Make sure you have enough vodka on hand and this is a fairly quick and satisfying project. Put a cork on it and let it sit in a dark cupboard for thirty days. Mine started to turn gold within an hour or so and it gets a nice deep rich color as the days go by. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavor. This makes a fantastic gift for any baking friends you have. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sissy Weekend

Sunday night. The end of a great weekend spent with my two sisters out at the beach. It was quiet and dark. We don't get a chance to be out there by ourselves too often. Most of the time there are aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, cousins, and brothers in law hanging out with us. But this time we were all alone. Kinda spooky. No street lights. Deserted houses. Wind blowing off the water and up the sandy cliff, whistling through the windows and rattling glass panes. Once we got in the house and all locked up for the night, it was all good. We cozied up in our jammies, poured ourselves glasses of wine, and settled in on the couches to watch.....the Food Network. Jeeesh, we go away for the weekend, plan on eating out all meals and we end up watching programs about cooking.

We got up bright and early Saturday morning, went out to breakfast and then started meandering our way down to Chatham. Found a wonderful independent bookseller Where the Sidewalk Ends on Main Street. She had a little bit of everything: books, music, stationery, knitting supplies, coffee, and chocolate. Really it was a perfect little shop. The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup made us laugh out loud. And want to make gingerbread pirates of our own to save from that cannibal, Santa Claus. Cute story, great illustrations. Fantastic gift idea for anyone with toddlers or young elementary aged children to buy for.

We stopped at odd little shops up and down the Cape and found some interesting pictures along the way. At one stopping point we saw a great big old house for sale in Harwich and started dreaming about buying it and opening our own bed and breakfast. Oldest sissy - me - would be in charge of reading to them each night, middle sissy - holding the book above - would be in charge of providing complimentary ballroom dance instruction, and youngest sissy - below - would be in charge of all things edible. While we were dreaming, youngest sissy looked down the driveway and found some rusted bicycles.
All the shops were ready for Christmas. We shopped along the way and found several clever little ditties to put in the stockings, especially at a great shop in West Barnstable, Yummy Goods. It was a pleasure to meet the owner, Melissa, and browse her pretty gift shop. I can't tell you what I bought in case K. is reading this but trust me, they're great stocking stuffers!
We finished out the day at Old Jailhouse Tavern in Orleans. I had New England Clam Pie which consisted of a huge slab of clam pie covered in New England Clam Chowder. It's my new favorite seafood meal. I'm going to get it every time I go to the beach. And I'm going to make the Man get it, too, because I know he'll be sorry if he doesn't. Then he'll be wishing he had just done what I told him to do which would be to order the pie.
Sigh. Another gorgeous November sunset. Nice way to end the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I just love this picture. These are our hands. Clockwise from right: the Man, me, my son J. and my daughter K.

It took a lot of work to get this picture. Some screeching, way too much laughter and ridicule, a little lot of pouting from me, and some dire looks from the Man. And fifteen minutes. Don't forget the full fifteen minutes it took to snap one lousy picture of a loving family. And we are loving. Despite the rolling eyes and heavy sighs. And "She touched me", followed by "I'm not holding HIS hand" that made me question why I was trying to do this. I thought about snapping pics of their hands separately and photoshopping them in. But that seemed a little stalker-ish. Plus, it's much more fun making them "hold hands". I live for these moments.

I needed this connection today. I needed to be reminded there are people in the world that like me, even if they have to because they're married to me or I'm their mother. Most days, I love my job. But today....whew... today was a wee bit challenging.

The middle school in town had a half day of school for teacher conferences. Half days of school are very bad. They result in hordes of tweens descending upon the library with nothing to do and lots of time to do it in. They usually involve running, tipping chairs, throwing things, non-stop giggling, and general all-around mayhem for the entire afternoon. I followed tweens around, chasing them out of dark corners, book stacks and meeting rooms. I gave a tour of our stuffed bird collection to one young man who jumped out and yelled "boo" at me when I walked down the hall. He looked like he needed something to do and I was happy to give him the tour. He couldn't get away fast enough. But he didn't yell "boo" for the rest of the day. I got on the elevator with them when they insisted on riding it up and down, non-stop, a dozen or so times. I asked them questions about school and their teachers. They couldn't get away fast enough. But I wasn't trying to chase them away. Really. They were just being tweens - bored, hungry and needing to show off in front of their friends.

The library staff was edgy, and by the end of the day all I really wanted was a glass of wine. Instead, I came home and attempted to take a picture of our hands. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up
dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
-attributed to Socrates, by Plato

Monday, November 16, 2009


Sigh. We're in the thick of November. No to cold and snow and ice. No to long, dark nights. No to imported fruits and vegetables. No. No. No. November reminds me that winter is coming. Ugh. The only things I like about November are sunsets and Thanksgiving.

November sunsets are simply spectacular. The colors seem richer and more vibrant than any other time of year.

Don't you just stop and stare when you see a sky like this? The colors change so quickly, it's a new picture every few moments or so. I think more people should just stop and stare. Life's too short to miss even one minute of a sky like this.

But then, once in a while, we get a really nice day like today. Warm temperatures, foggy mornings, no jackets needed. The sun is shining and there's a few stubborn flowers hanging in there, getting every last minute of their bloom out. Grazing cows can almost fool you into thinking it's really spring. But, alas, it's not. It's still November.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bad Sweater and Lovely Table

Aaaaargh. My knitting project is driving me crazy. The twisting cables are wandering all over the place, they're not going where they're supposed to be going, and they are making me look like a bad knitter. It's a stupid pattern and I really don't like this sweater anymore. My knitting teacher wouldn't finish it for me, even though I asked very nicely. I think she's heard too many bad words come out during knitting class and refuses to have anything to do with it. Pooh.
I have to finish the darn thing myself. But I don't have to like it and I'm certainly not going to wear it. Especially if these cables don't start behaving and getting back in line like they're supposed to. So there, stupid sweater with stupid cables.

On the other end of the spectrum, I love my new bedside table. I saw one at Anthropologie a couple years ago that I had to have. But it was about $800. Not in my budget. So I've been carrying around a picture of the table for two years and finally found one similar in size and design. Here it is before I sanded, painted, and added new knobs.

My new table. I heart it.

Best of all? $9.99 at a thrift store, $8.49 for two cans of paint, $6.98 for two glass knobs.
Total cost $25.46. Yay. That's in my budget.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holiday Gathering

I'm starting to gather some ideas for Christmas gifts. Teenagers are hard to shop for. Cash is definitely king. That's what they want and it's easy. But it is not fun to watch them open a card with money in it, or even open gift card envelopes. So for my own sake, I try and find unique things every year to surprise them.

Building brick speakers for an iPod. You can get these here. My son loved this gift last year. He uses it every day and takes it with him when he travels. Great gift for a teen or technogeek.

A bubble calendar. How cool is this? If you want to waste a few minutes or hours, you can pop the bubbles here.

I'm just starting the search now. I'll keep you posted if I find anything good....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Packages in the Mail

Yay! My books finally arrived! Any day that brings a new book to my doorstep is a good day. And I'm particularly happy with these three books because two of them are about a tomten and the other is about sewing. I'm a wee bit obsessed right now with tomten, also called tomte/nisse. These are mythical creatures from Scandinavian folklore. In the past, folklore held that the tomten were believed to care for a farmer's home and children, especially at night. But as time passed, they became the bearer of Christmas presents, called the julenisse.

[I love their red hats. And they remind me of gnomes. I've made several tomtenisse, two out of fabric and one knitted. Chickpea Sewing Studio used to have a free tutorial for the fabric nisse but it's not there anymore. However, you can see pictures of her nisse here. He's very adorable. Then I found this knitted pattern. It's not free but it was only about US$3.50. Well worth it. That little guy is way cute.]

So when I found a couple books about tomten by Astrid Lindgren I ordered them. Ms. Lindgren wrote the Pippi Longstocking stories, some of my childhood favorites. I just had to have them. Of course, the Man doesn't think this way. He thinks I have too many books. I tell him there's no such thing as too many books. He says we have enough books to build furniture. I think he's a little dramatic.

Now, the third book is this little beauty.

There are some seriously gorgeous projects in here.

I mean, really, have you ever seen anything this beautiful?

I think this has Anthropologie written all over it. Yay.

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Steps

This isn't my first blog. I have a quasi-blog with one of my sissies. We aren't very good about posting. We tried to take turns but I ended up posting way more than she did. That led me to this blog. Since I was just about writing the sassy sissies blog by myself, I might as well have my own.

A little bit about me....I like to knit and read. I also like to eat, which means I have to cook. I don't cook all the time, since my days are pretty busy. Lots of the time, my husband, the Man, cooks for us. He's a pretty good cook, too. Especially his dumplings. My kids love them. Which is a good thing.

I love am obsessed with taking pictures. My cameras go with me everywhere. I have four. But I don't use my very first digital camera anymore, and I lent the Canon to my son's girlfriend. So I really only have two: a small Cybershot I keep in my bag and a Nikon D80 that I am absolutely in love with. And I just got a new 50mm f/1.8 lens that rocks. I have no professional training but maybe I'll take some classes in the spring. With one child in college, it'll be tough, but I hope to be able to swing a class or two.

But most of all, it's all about my family. I just love 'em. They make me laugh, scream, run, hide and go crazy sometimes. But really, all I want to do is hug them. You'll get to meet them eventually. I take lots of pictures of them, much to their chagrin. After ten years of clicking, I'm holding out for the day they'll get used to it and just ignore me as I snap away.