Dec 26, 2012

What we did this Christmas

I want to wish a belated Merry Christmas to all those celebrating. I enjoyed the long weekend off from work the way me and mine always do.  We ate Chinese food and watched a movie.  Actually we watched a few movies and, thankfully, they were really good ones.  Here's the low-down on all of them in the order that I saw them.

  1. Argo - Go see this movie! I saw it with the older girls and my husband and we all loved it.  Actually, I think everyone in the whole, packed, theatre loved it.  In case you haven't heard about it, this is the story of 6 americans who escaped from the US Embassy in Iran when it was seized in 1979 and our country's creative efforts to rescue them.  Even though it's a true story and we knew the outcome going in, we were still on the edge of our seats. 
  2. Lincoln - This was such a good movie and the story was really important.  It absolutely deserves to be seen.  My only critique is that it's a long movie that felt like a long movie.  On the other hand, Daniel Day Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln is masterful.  He manages to humanize the icon.
  3. Silver Linings Playbook - Not only is Bradley Cooper sexy, he's a great actor too.  Actually, all of the performances in this movie are excellent.  This is the story of a man trying to get his life back together after being in a mental institution.  He has lost it all and often seems like maybe he came home a little too soon. This movie was funny and sad and ultimately really satisfying.

By the way, the picture above is of a little treat I made recently.  It's called Christmas Crack but we're calling it Hanukkah Hash.  There are recipes for it all over the 'net but here's the one that I used.

Dec 18, 2012

A Visit from a Dude in Red

It's that time of year again.


Time for a visit from Santa on his big yellow fire truck.


And our girl wore what any good Jewish girl would on such an occasion. Her I Love Hanukkah shirt.


Actually, it was a total coincidence but it totally worked.

Dec 14, 2012

ECF - Hanukkah Lights Edition

A little something as we end the Festival of Lights.


In rge back is a menorahe that we bought last year.  In the front is one that I made when I was younger than Stinkette.

Dec 11, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - Ten Favorite Holiday Cookies

I love cookies and the holidays are such a great excuse to make many batches of them. It’s also the time of year that I enjoy trying new recipes for them. You can really let your imagination run wild and decorate them colorfully or incorporate unusual flavors into them.


This is a picture of a plate of cookies we brought to a Hanukkah party 4 years ago. The blue and green ones were Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies  and the others were Mini Black & White Cookies. Those would have to be the first 2 entries on my list for this week.

1. Chocolate Chip – the classic never gets old.

2. Rugelach – in our house we call them Ruggies and we love them but I’ve never made them myself. I’d like to try it soon.

3. Hand Cookies  – we saw these on a show and I made them with a Girl Scout Troop. The girls had a great time and the cookies were delicious.

4. Cinnamon Maple Rings – These are in the Mrs Fields Cookie book and they are so good. I make them when I need something that is not chocolate.

5. Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies  – I saw these on a show the other day and they looked so good.

6. Brownies – Of course these aren’t cookies exactly but who cares. They’re irresistable.

7. Coconut Macaroons – The ones I make are dead-simple and yummy. They look like little haystacks but they taste divine.

8. Gingerbread – I really want to make some and decorate them with my girls over the holidays this year.

What are your favorites?

Dec 7, 2012

ECF - 17th Birthday Cake Edition

This is indeed a cake although it looks more like a cookie in this picture. It is a made from scratch chocolate fudge cake with a chocolate ganache filling. It's my girls favorite and they always ask for it for their birthdays.


One of the things that is making it look kind of flat (aside from the angle of the camera shot) is the frosting.  It's a black buttercream and the only part of the cake I did not make.  The decorations are white chocolate dusted with silver sugar.  Not my best work but DQ likes it and that's the point.

Can you guess what the motif is?  Here's a hint: it's been mirrored.

Dec 6, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

In a week marked by birthdays and the start of Hanukkah I’ve got the perfect finished object to share. Meet Elvis the Elephant! The pattern is E is for Elephant  by Emily Ivey and it’s pretty well written. Toys can be a little tricky because the placement of the features and where you attach the arms and legs can mean the difference between cute and creepy.


The yarn I used was Blue Sky Organic Cotton that happened to be on hand when I felt the sudden need to make this elephant. The color is fun and the yarn is very soft but I’m not sure I love it. It feels like it could shred into nothing way too easily and it leaves fluff in it’s wake.

This was one of those things that I saw and needed to knit right away. I didn’t have any great reason other than it looked cute and I thought Miss M would like it. She did – while I was working on it. She kept coming over an trying to grab it out of my lap. Now that it’s finished she is a little less interested in that classic toddler fashion. Snuggle, snuggle, drop. Right now it’s in a corner of mu living room. But only until she notices it again.


It really doesn’t matter if Miss M is kind of lukewarm on Elvis. The rest of the family is charmed. Who can resist such a cute tush?

Dec 5, 2012

To My Dad on His Birthday

Today is my father’s birthday. He would’ve been 70. He’s been gone for five years but it’s still so hard to believe that he’s not here.

All 7 in November 2012

This picture was taken last month during my trip to Indiana. It shows all of his grandchildren and all that he’s missed. Three of these children never met my dad and 2 are named for him. Another three of these children have had their Bat Mizvahs since he’s been gone and I know he would have loved being there to celebrate with them. Four of these kids have finished elementary school and moved on to Middle School and High School. My dad would have been proud to mark these graduations. There have also been football, lacrosse, and softball games he could’ve watched his grandchildren participate in.

He has missed it all and we miss him.

Dec 3, 2012


See that girl on the left? The one with the long, shiny, dark hair? That is what seventeen looks like. 17!!!!


I know that I say this every year but wow does that ever sound old. I think it’s because she’s the oldest. Everything with her is the first and the sense of amazement never fades and never gets old.

She says that seventeen is no big deal. It’s not really a milestone per se. There is no card for 17 and aside from being able to for to R rated movies without me, there really isn’t any change in status. None attached to the number 17 specifically but, in reality, there is ever so much that is notable.

This kid is amazing! Outstanding! She works hard in school, she holds down a few (yes, more than one) jobs, and she is active in youth groups, honor societies and school activities. I don’t know how she does it. I do know that I love her more every day and I feel so lucky to be her mom.

Nov 29, 2012

Three Years of Yarn Collecting

My knitting bag is quite full these days. I feel energized and optimistic about all the things I can and will make. Part of the reason for this are the things that I have finished recently and particularly this sweater. It’s the Tulip baby sweater which I have wanted to make since I first saw it over three years ago.

Since then I have dreamed about these sweaters and tried to settle on which baby I’d make it for since, until recently, I had none. But in all honesty the Dream in Color yarn is kind of pricey and you need quite a few skeins. I’d have to really, really, love a baby to make that kind of investment. So for three years I dreamed of making the sweater and bought yarn. This picture was taken in March. Since then I bought a *few* more skeins.


When I finally sat down to choose my color line up my daughter was kind of shocked at the amount of yarn I was choosing from. I could probably make one of these for Miss M for the next 4 years and still have yarn left over. And I may just do that because there are so many color combinations you can go with. Part of the fun (and challenge) is in selecting just the right colors in the right order.


Once I chose the colors the knitting itself was fast and easy. Based on notes I read on other completed projects I made the 2 year old size but added 2 rows to each stripe (changing every 10th row instead of every 8th). It was a good call but I inexplicably decided to go with 8 rows on the sleeves and they came out more ¾ than full. This is really ok for a baby because it means that she drags her sleeves in her food less. It’s worth noting though.


Ultimately, this sweater lived up to all the anticipation and Miss M loves it. It’s a good thing that the yarn seems pretty sturdy because she tries to put it on herself often and stretches it this way and that. No worries though, because it still looks great every time she wears it.

Nov 27, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Mittens/Mitts I Want to Knit

This is yet another perfectly timed topic for a list. We spent our Thanksgiving in New York and it was cold up there. We spent Saturday morning walking around in the city and I suddenly realized that Miss M has no gloves. What kind of Knitty Mom lets her child walk around with cold hands.

Wouldn't they look better covered in hand knits?

Hence the first item on this list of 10 Mittens/Mitts I Want to Knit is the Imagine Mittens from the current issue of Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts. I don’t know exactly which version I’ll make but you can be certain that she will not have cold fingers for long.

Beyond that there are many patterns for mittens and gloves that call to me. Many are calling loudly enough for me to have purchased yarn for them already. Here is my list, in the order hat I suspect things will actually get made.
1. Imagine Mittens – for my sweet baby girl.
2. Citrus Mittens  – there is something so delicious about making mittens with a summery motif.
3. Knotty Gloves  – I bought black cashmere a few years ago to make these. It’s shameful to let cashmere marinate in ones stash
4. Postwar Mittens  – I just like these. I can’t put my finger on the appeal but it’s certainly there.
5. Latvian Mittens  – I may not make this specific pattern but I am going to make a pair of Latvian Mittens for myself. I have a book of them at home and I seriously love them.
6. Horatio & Oren Mittens  – Hello, you’ve gotta love cute owls.
7. Gnome Mittens  – and gnomes.
8. IO Gloves  – these aren’t mittens but I’m a fan of gloves too and these are so freakin’ cool.
9. Skull Mittens  – When I get around to making these it will be for Stinkette. Come to think of it, she’s been nagging me about making a new pair of mitts for her lately. Perhaps I ought to move these up higher on the list.
10. Anna’s Mittens  – After all the crazy mittens and gloves these are a sweet end to my list.

Nov 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in New York... Again

We survived another Thanksgiving trek to New York. We visited family and friends and had lots of laughs and good food.

We also did a wee bit of sightseeing. So who is buried in Grant's Tomb anyway? IMG_0728[1]

We also checked out another little spot in Harlem. Care to guess where we went?

We really had a great trip.

Nov 20, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Things I am Thankful For

This year, more than ever before, I am thankful.  Why?  Here's a list.


  1. DQ - I love the person that she has become.  More importantly, I'm thankful that we have the kind of open relationship where we talk to each other about most things.
  2. Stinkette - My crazy red-head is still crazy.  She works so hard for the things she wants and I'm so thankful for all the color she brings to our lives.  She makes everything more interesting.
  3. Sweet Miss M - I am beyond thankful for this sweet girl.  She has brought such joy to all of our lives.  Having another baby after so many years may have seemed like an insane decision but it was absolutely the best thing.
  4. My husband - I am thankful that I have a great partner for all of life's adventures.
  5. My family -  I really love my siblings and all of my extended family.  I am so thankful that my thanksgiving holiday will include a visit with my grandfather. 
  6. My friends - I am thankful for fabulous friends who we can laugh with and count on to be there when we need them. 
  7. My home - Now, more than ever, I am thankful for my home.  It is so much more than a house to us.  In the 13 years that we've lived at the same address we have built such memories here but now the physical structure is worthy of those memories.  A sanctuary that makes us yearn for home every time we leave.
  8. My knitting - it keeps me sane and makes me feel accomplished.
  9. Living in Northern Virginia - I am thankful for the life we lead and all the opportunities that we have been able to offer my daughters.
  10. Gainful employment - Need I say more

Nov 19, 2012

The Tile that Ate My Weekend

It seems that the process of finishing off the house goes on and on.  While it's certainly lovely and livable there are all these little details and I really want them to be just right so I'm going very slowly.


This weekend (and the one before) was consumed by tile.  This is some of the tile that I used for the backsplash in the kitchen.  I knew that it was the one as soon as I saw it and now that it's up on the wall I am so happy.  Part of the happy is that I'm the one who put it up.  I took 3 colors and mixed them up a bit.  It satisfies my need to literally have a hand in the renovation. 

One note about this picture.  The bright blue bits were unexpected when I took the picture.  They are the reflection of blue glass bottles that line the window ledge above my kitchen sink.  They add a pop of color to my kitchen just as they do in this picture.  Very cool!

Nov 16, 2012

ECF - Bloomington Edition

Before I went to Bloomington my impression of it was of a little college town in the middle of nowhere.  And it is definitely that.  But it's also quite charming.


This is the little yard at Wonderlab.  The kids had such fun exploring it.  I had fun watching them and looking at these flowerlike sculptures.

Nov 15, 2012

Tree Sweaters

I obviously went to Bloomington for the family time but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t check out the fiber situation there ahead of time. I found that there were at least 2 yarn stores there and made a mental note to check at least one of them out. On our first stroll through town we encountered this and all of us were kind of blown away by the coolness. IMG_0647[1]

There were several trees that had sweaters. Some were just pretty and many had themes. We all grinned at the one above with it’s decidedly adult theme. There was also one covered with knitty sea life. We all had fun searching for Nemo who was hiding in some knitty coral. IMG_0648[1]

I took a picture of this one on that initial viewing. I thought that it was lovely. It wasn’t until the following day, when I visited Yarns Unlimited, that I found out that this one was not supposed to be quite so short. It had been vandalized! How sad.

It was a very nice surprise to find the tree sweaters. I may feel a little inspiration coming on. Hmmmm…. There are trees behind my house that may be cold. Maybe I should use a bit of the yarn I brought home from Bloomington with me. It was from a local Indy dyer so it would be very appropriate.

Nov 14, 2012

Red for My Nephew

Amid all the running around and general craziness I've been super busy knitting. It seems like now that I've gotten back to it again I just can't stop. It's like I'm compelled to finish all the WIPs and try all the patterns that have been languishing in my queue. As a result I have a backlog of FO's to share. Can you believe that?
Since I just got back from Indiana I'll start with a baby gift I delivered there.
Normally I wait until a baby arrives to start knitting for it. It's kind of a superstition I guess but I just can't shake it. This time I had a gift ready when my new nephew arrived because it wasn't originally meant for him. I started it quite a while ago for my cousins baby. He just turned one.
While it wasn't the right size for the baby it was originally intended for, my nephew "M" has plenty of room to grow into it.
Isn't he handsome?

Nov 12, 2012

Trip to Indy

There was a lot of craziness recently that kept me busy and away from the blog. My recent trip to Indiana was crazy in it's own way but only the travel part. Thank you Amtrak and Sandy.

The family visit that we had looked forward to was great. IMG_0663[1]
We went to welcome the newest member of our family. My nephew M was born the day before my girls and I arrived in Indianapolis and came home late in our first full day there. Timely. He is very cute and does exactly what you would expect - eat, sleep, and poop like a champ! We foresee big things in his future.
As with so many vacations and gatherings, it felt like an endless succession of meals and planning for meals. Much of what we ate was new to us and we needed lots of instruction on what it all was. My sister-in-law is Korean and her friends were making lots of Korean dishes for her to eat while she recovers. Most of it was really good and other stuff is still a mystery. One thing for certain is that there is more Korean food in our future. Stinkette did some of the cooking under her aunts tutelage and she is inspired. IMG_0668[1]
We were mostly concentrating on spending time together so there wasn't much sightseeing going on. But we did take the time to identify and visit (repeatedly) a local ice cream place that made their own. What interesting flavors! Still not sure what I think of Cherry Wasabi. IMG_0666[1]
We did take the time to go to the Wonderlab. What a fun place! Even the big kids had fun there. In fact, all of the pictures in this post were taken there. So.Much.Fun.

Nov 9, 2012

ECF - First Flight Edition

I'm still recovering a little bit from my recent travels.  Until I'm totally caught up and normal blogging resumes, here is a quick shot of Miss M on her first airplane ride.


She found the experience a little underwhelming.

Oct 23, 2012

Bess Fyman 2/21/21 - 10/22/12

Yesterday, one of the greatest love stories I know ended with the passing of my grandmother, Bess Fyman.

 February 21, 1942 - Mr & Mrs

She was one of the luckiest women I know because she had the good sense and good fortune to marry my grandfather over 70 years ago. He thought that she was the smartest and most beautiful woman and he treated her as such, always putting her first.  We will all miss her very much.

Oct 22, 2012

Softball Weekends

Another fall weekend dominated by softball. What is there to say about watching my kid play softball that I haven't said before?  They played. We cheered. They lost.  It's a young, new, team and I have hope for the future.


Beyond all that, this weekend was homecoming and DQ had all kinds of plans this year. Really, dinner with this group, then going to the dance with another group, and finally, going to see The Rock Horror Picture Show with still another group. I'm so glad that she can keep it all straight because just thinking about it is exhausting to me.

Of course while I adore being a part of my kids activities, my thoughts were in another place this weekend.  I was thinking of Rhinebeck and yet another year that I didn't go. So sad that the closest I came was stopping at the table for the Culinary Institute of America at a huge college fair last night.  Because going to college fairs is exactly what I want to do on a Sunday night.  Right?  And there on the display were pictures of the lovely plaza at the CIA that I've walked through many times while enjoying the gorgeous view of the Hudson River and the fall foliage.

Oct 19, 2012

ECF - Fuzzy Little Chick Edition

Oh yeah, there were lots of animals at the pumpkin patch last weekend too.  My favorites were the baby chicks. So cute!


Oct 18, 2012

Really, Truly, Amazingly, Back

I've been trying to get back to knitting for the longest time.  I tried picking up WIPs. I tried to start new projects.  I looked at countless patterns.  I bought more yarn. None of it worked.


Then I saw a cute pattern being tested in a group on Ravelry and I signed up.  The pattern is Dyning by YarnMadness and the yarn is some Elann Lara from my stash.  It had a reasonable but tight deadline which forced me to keep at it and before I knew it the cute little top was done and I was moving on to the next thing. And the next.  And the next.


The finished top is very cute.  It isn't fancy but it's just right for my girl. Most importantly,it was a pretty easy knit and it's the first thing that I finished in a long time. The weather really isn't quite right for Miss M to wear it right now but something tells me that she'll like it.


So, is the dry spell really over?  Well, since I finished it on October 1 I've knit another sweater from start to finish and another that was a long term WIP is nearly finished too.  I may cast on yet another thing tomorrow.  A toy maybe.

Oct 16, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Mystery Books

Ten favorite mystery books!  Only ten? I read mysteries all the time.  It's my favorite genre... which is ironic since I've been wanting to tell you all about a really good book I just read and it isn't a mystery at all. It isn't even fiction.

It's called "The Destiny of the Republic" by Candice Millard and it's about James Garfield.  Never in a million years would I have thought I'd read a book about him, or enjoy it so much, but there it is. I suspect that I'm like many of you when I say that prior to reading this book all I knew about Garfield is that he was our president and he was assassinated.  What I learned was that there's so much more to know. This was a president who should've left such a lasting mark on our country and yet, all that most of us know is how he died. You should really check this book out.


But back to the subject at hand.  Mysteries! I read many stand alone books but I read a lot of series.  I tend to enjoy the development of characters over time.  I like to see how they change over time.  Each time a new one comes out its like watching Law & Order with a visiting friend.  You catch up a little and enjoy a really good story.

  1. Sue Grafton's Alphabet series - I stopped reading them years ago because I was afraid to finish the series.  I didn't want them to end.  So recently I went back to the start to refresh my memory before continuing through to "V".  So close to the end of the alphabet.  Then what?
  2. Karin Slaughter's Grant County books - they're twisted and she really doesn't seem to like her characters very much but the stories are very absorbing.
  3. JA Jance's JP Beaumont series - These take me to a setting that is foreign to me in a way that is so vivid and that adds something to the experience . I remember when I first started reading them and I felt like if I actually got to visit Seattle I would recognize it.  
  4. Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series -  this is one of my favorite authors.  So much so that she makes 2 appearances on my list.  As a plus, these are set mostly in Baltimore which is close and feels very familiar.
  5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane - I picked up this book at a library convention where they were giving away copies for free.  Signed copies!  How could I resist?  Then it sat, unread, until it started showing up on lists of the best books of the year.  So I had to read it and I'm so glad that I did.  It's just so good.
  6. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo - This is the first in a series and these mysteries are set in Amish Country, an unusual setting that fascinates me.  
  7. William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series - this is another series that takes me to an unfamiliar part of the country and offers a little taste of another culture.  In this case the setting is Minnesota 
  8. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series - No list would be complete without Harry. Not only have I read the books, but I've had the pleasure of hearing the author speak about them a few times as well.  I even read one of Raymond Chandler's books because he cited them as an inspiration.  I didn't like them though.  I'll stick to Harry.
  9. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series - these are just fun.  Silly, escapist, fun.
  10. To The Power of Five by Laura Lippman - my oldest daughter and I read this one around the same time and it really stayed with us.  We discussed it a lot.  It's that kind of book.  One that makes you think a little about relationships and peer pressure and family.  It still stays with us.

Oct 15, 2012

Fall is for Families

This weekend we did something we haven't done in ages.  We went to the pumpkin patch. It was quite the accomplishment and required us to coordinate and clear our schedules for the day weeks ago. Crazy, right? Thankfully, the day we chose so long ago turned out to be gorgeous.  It was clear and just cool enough to feel like fall.


We started in the corn maze.  It was super corny and so much fun.


Then Marissa woke up from her nap and we all went on a hayride.  She looks unhappy here but trust me, she wasn't.  She played with hay and went from one lap to the other.  She loved it.


Then we moved on to the slides.  While my older girls went on the really big slide, Miss M went on this one with Bruce and she enjoyed it very much but...


then she found this little one in the kiddie area.  It was just her size and she went on it over and over and over again.  She loved it.


At the end of the day we got pumpkins and ate cider and kettle corn and went to bed happy and thoroughly worn out.  It was a great day!

Oct 12, 2012

ECF - Orchid Edition

This orchid was a gift after we completed the work on the house. I kind of love it.


Oct 11, 2012

Last But Not Least

We've been giving a lot of tours of the house lately and they all end up in the same place, one of my favorites.  The new master bathroom.  It's the one room that feels really decadent to me.  The rest of the house is fresh, updated and exactly what I wanted but the master bathroom is beyond anything I ever imagined.  It's big and relaxing.

So come on in.  There's plenty of space.  On one recent occasion we had about 10 people in there... And room to spare.  The opening on the left is Bruce's office if you get my drift.  It's got a pocket door to close it off and it's own fan.  Thank goodness for the fan.  The handle sticking out beyond that on he left is our shower.  Two words for it - river rocks.  They're on the floor of it and I love them.


Walking into the bathroom you see my office.  I wish that was more of a joke but my girls have a funny habit of coming in to discuss the news of the day (and request funding for activities) when I'm in my office.  I suppose that when I'm in there I am the definition of a captive audience.  I am also very relaxed.  Too bad I can't conduct all my business in the tub.  Then again, that could be scary.


Continuing on yo see our vanity with the double sinks and plenty of room for us both to spread out.  you can also see the television and the mini-fridge.  I told you that the bathroom was a wee bit decadent but really, if you're relaxing in your tub, wouldn't a cold beverage and a good show be lovely?


And finally, here's a shot with my fisheye lens.  Party in the bathroom anyone?  There's plenty of room and the fridge is stocked.


I really hope that you all enjoyed the tour of our renovated house.  It's a project that I have long dreamed of and never imagined possible.  I pinch myself everyday and I am thankful that I can call this my house.  I am happy to share it with you all too.