Monday, November 30, 2009

An Update [and The End]

My niece Rachel had a birthday in September this year.  Since she's in dance classes, I made her some legwarmers (and a hat to match).  Apparently Bethany has been trying to get a picture of her in them but she's been sassy about it and doesn't really want to wear them.
If this is her sassy face, it's also pretty cute, huh?
Maybe she'll start to wear them more when it gets colder and colder in the dance studio?

And so, this is the end of my blogging-every-day.  It's been a fun month, but I don't mind admitting I'm happy to go back to a more relaxed schedule :)

Looking back over my posts for this month, I am (oddly enough) struck by the many blessings I have.  Some people call it "human nature" to be always longing for something more, something else than what we have in front of us.  Some people think that it's all fine and dandy to lose sight of the present moment in all its moment-ous richness. I often find myself falling into those camps, forgetting that right now is what's most important. [I don't mean to say we shouldn't, for instance, keep our "sights" on Heaven and know that we are longing for God, etc, but as for living our lives, the present moment is all we have "control" over, if that makes any sense.]

I'd like to think that, most of the time, I'm "in the moment."  I'd like to think that I appreciate things as they come, and don't spend too much time looking wistfully into the future, or longingly back to the past.

So, at the close of this month of Thanks-giving, I give thanks for all the many blessings I have been given. A wise confessor (at World Youth Day in Toronto) once asked me: "What do you have that you have not received?"  The only answer is "nothing."  All is gift.  Therefore, all our breaths should be exhalations of thanks.

Grant it, O Lord.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday (Sunday, Someday)

Does anyone remember Strong Bad? He (and his ridiculous emails) were "all the rage" when I was in undergrad... Every time I write about Sunday, I think of this email :) too funny.

[Not to mention that a group of us actually went to a monster truck rally that came to Spokane. We dressed appropriately for the event, too. And, we finished many of the announcer's lines with "covered in syrup!" Good times.]

Um.. anyway :)

Today our Roman Catholic brethren begin Advent.  It's always a joy to see festive greenery in the church.  One of the hardest things for T and me in Boston is that we don't have a Byzantine church here. That is, there are lots of Eastern rite churches in the area, but no Ruthenian parishes.  Thankfully, the Roman church we attend (St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine) is a beautiful church with a truly wonderful community, and we are very happy there.

But still, we miss our Byzantine traditions. As the altar server lit the first candle in the wreath, I couldn't help thinking "We're on week three already."  It's not a "we're better than you" thing--but I couldn't help feeling (just a little bit) that they were "catching up," if that makes any sense.  I don't mean to sound resentful at all (far from it), but I've been waiting for greenery in the church for two weeks. At any rate, I'm glad it's here now :)

After, Mass, we came home and had leftovers for lunch (is there anything better than Thanksgiving leftovers?). I tidied the house, finished a knitting project, and blocked my knitting for the first time.  I made a tasty turkey soup (based on this recipe) with buttermilk bread for dinner.  Then we headed downtown to Myers and Chang for their Dollar Oyster Night.  Tasty (cheap) oysters + great company = fun night for all.  T thinks oyster Sunday needs to become a weekly thing.. probably at least through finals :) Hope he survives!

And now, time for bed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lazy, but Not Un-Productive

For some strange reason, I have always felt that sitting down and knitting is "lazy."  I'm not sure why (especially when so many of the items I'm making are gifts for other people), but whenever I sit down to knit I feel like I ought to be doing something more "productive."

But really, knitting is no less productive than, say, sewing.  So in the interest of banishing un-reasoned prejudices against knitting, I'm going to discuss my productivity on this lovely, relaxing day.

I finished a hat today.

And I finally figured out a piece of a mittens pattern I was stuck on.

I knitted a few rows of my lace knit cowl.
(Which is taking forever. I'm not sure how I feel about lace knitting yet..)

I started a little bitty bit of one hat.

I made good progress on a cable-knit scarf.

All the while sipping hot tea and deliciously aromatic coffee, listening to T type away at homework.

Miso soup for lunch; leftovers for dinner ( = minimal kitchen duty).

So, even though I didn't get any laundry done, or make the bed, or even exercise, I'm still going to call this a productive day.  It won't be forever that I can sit and knit knit knit all day, right?

Besides, it was ridiculously windy today and who wants to go outside in that sort of weather anyway? even if it's sunny.

Happy stitching! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Waif-Away-From-Home Thanksgiving

Because T and I were in town for Thanksgiving this year, we decided to invite to dinner any of our friends who were unable to go home for the holidays.  A collection of waifs (first definition).

Now, that's not to say that we (or our guest) don't have any friends in Boston. Obviously not since we had 11 people for dinner last night.  But it's hard not to feel like a waif when you can't go home for Thanksgiving.  It was good to be surrounded by friends :)

We woke up early to get a good start on our day.  The best start, actually--we went to Mass.  What better place to begin the a eucharistic feast (as in: eucharistein--to give thanks) than by celebrating the Eucharist?  What a blessing it is to have our Lord in our midst, so clearly and so readily.

Refreshed from the Feast, we headed home and I started prepping the turkey.  We got a 21 pound turkey from the same farm where we get the rest of our (naturally raised, grass-fed, wholly organic and sustainable) meat.  It was a beautifully huge bird. And it was running around, happy as a... turkey.. just one week ago!  I used the maple-butter recipe that Momma used for Viv's Golden Birthday dinner last year.  Truth be told, I think I overcooked the turkey.  But the gravy was pretty tasty, and even overcooked turkey makes great leftovers.  Better overcooked than underdone, right? Finally, this is only the second turkey I've made. I'm not ashamed to admit I can keep improving :)

We also had apple sausage stuffing. I made a double recipe (well, we need leftover stuffing for our leftover turkey, right?).  I used a sour dough bread and did half ground beef/half sausage for the meat.  This was the highlight of my Thanksgiving.  I've never had better stuffing (sorry, Momma).  It was delicious!  We finished one (13x9") pan last night and T and I finished half of the second (13x9") pan for lunch today... so try it :) It's pretty tasty.

I also made (coconut milk) scalloped sweet potatoes, which were also very scrumptious.

Next on the menu: cheese (mmmm)

(no further description necessary, right?)

So are you wondering how we fit 11 people at our table?  We got two additional folding tables (raised with corks stuck in their legs (and still a little too short)) and put them next to our bitty table.  It was a squeeze, but we managed (and hey, we're all friends, right?).   The magic of squeezing is Friendship!

Again, a big thank you to our parents who have so graciously completed our china service for 14. The crystal was a wedding present, too.  We are indeed very blessed :)  Someday, probably when we have our farm, I'll have a big dining room with one table that can seat all our guests and you can all come over for a meal.  We will use the china and the crystal and have a good ol' traditional sit-down dinner and stay up chatting late into the night.

Which is what we did last night.  Our last guest didn't leave until after 1, and I (for some silly reason?!) decided I needed to start the turkey stock.  I picked all the meat off while our guests were still chatting and got the bones in the pot soon after they left.  What took so long was bringing the pot to a boil before reducing it to a simmer.  At 2 o'clock in the morning (this morning!) I turned off the lights and headed to bed.

All in all, I'd say it was a tremendous success.  For dessert we had a chocolate pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, a blueberry tart, a traditional pecan pie, a chocolate pecan pie, an ice cream cake, and ice cream.  Frankly, with a spread like that, who cares if dinner was a success? :)

If we are in town next year for Thanksgiving, I hope we can host another gathering.

And next year, I'll make a better turkey.

Happy Feast, everyone!  (and to all a good night)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It's two o'clock in the morning.

Dinner was a success.

We served 11 people a sit-down dinner.

Dessert was a success.

We went through 20 bottles of drinks.

I've even picked off all the meat from the turkey and put it in the fridge.

The bones are in a stockpot, merrily simmering away.

All the dishes are done except for the handwash (which is soaking).

I'm going to bed.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Quiet

...before the storm that is Thanksgiving.

We have invited ten people to dine with us.  I know, those of you who have seen our house and our table are thinking: "How can she possibly feed 12 people a sit-down dinner?!"  Magic (and a few card tables). That's how ;)  After all, we do have a 21 pound bird. That should be enough for a dozen hungry students, right?  And a BIG thank you to our parents, who have so lovingly gifted us china (and serving pieces!) for 14... so we have room for two more, if you're in town :)

I have made the cranberry relish, and it's happily "mellowing" in our (new, roomier, and quite luxurious) fridge.

I have done the apple cider/maple butter for the turkey. It's heavenly :)

I frosted the sugar cookies.  They turned out rather psychedelic, and not terribly autumnal, but they are also tasty, which means they'll pass.

I made the filling for a chocolate pumpkin pie last night, but the crust was a flop. Tonight I tried a buckwheat crust, which didn't make it as a roll-out crust, but it seemed to manage well enough as a press-in crust. It's pretty enough, anyway :)

I made a blueberry tart, too, at Taylor's request.


sweet potatoes
and, of course, all those pesky little things like cleaning the house and setting the table.

I'm excited :) It should be lots of fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Holly Days

I've been a big fan of Holly Cole's music for a while.  I love her sultry voice and the fascinating rhythm in the arrangements of her songs.  She's able to take "old" music and make it fresh and exciting, while still keeping it familiar enough to not be weird.

Then I found her Christmas album, and I was completely hooked.  (I wish she'd make another one!) It's my favorite album to listen to during the holidays. It's bouncy, fun, playful, but still pensive and reverent and serious enough to be an all-around great CD.

However, since we can't will Holly to make another Christmas album, T is taking me to her Christmas concert here in Boston :)  I'm super-excited. Giddy almost!

So next Friday, December 4, I'll be on cloud nine, listening to some deliciously smooth jazz in the Christmas spirit at Sculler's Jazz Club.

I wonder if they'll let us dance at all? Hmm.. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pilgrim's Feast (hehe)


I know it's "too early" to be talking about Christmas (ha! not for Byzantines!), but I was very strongly reminded of it today.  We're having some friends over for Thanksgiving this year and I decided it would be fun to make sugar cookies to have for dessert.

I made the dough yesterday (being careful not to sample any--darn food allergies!) and stuck it in the fridge until this afternoon.  I wasn't expecting to be brought back to my childhood holidays. But there I was, remembering all the many times we'd made sugar cookies at Momma's house.

We'd make dozens and dozens of cookies, all shapes, all sizes, and for all the holidays. We'd have turkeys and pilgrims and leaves and pumpkins. There would be stockings and santas and Nativity figures and Christmas trees and presents and reindeer and sleighs.  There would be snowflakes and snowmen and bells and stars and gingerbread men (and women).  Then we would spend countless hours decorating them (with all different colors using only spoons and toothpicks!) for all the different holidays.  There were always sugar cookies around from November through January in our house. It was beautiful :)

So go ahead, siblings, try it. Make some sugar cookie dough, close your eyes, and smell it.  Then take a small taste, and you're in Momma's kitchen, elbows propped up on her butcher block table, kneeling on the bench, waiting to pick away (and devour) more scraps of sugar'd cookie dough.  Next thing you know, you'll be wondering where the sprinkles are so you can shake the sparkle-colored sugar over the lovely cookies before Momma puts them in the oven.  I can already taste the powdered sugar frosting she used to decorate them.

Momma's sugar cookie recipe
Cream in mixer:
--3/4 c crisco (or other solid shortening; using butter makes the cookies come out pretty soft, and more prone to breaking when you decorate them)
--1 c sugar

--2 eggs
--1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together and add to liquid ingredients:
--2 1/2 c flour
--1 tsp baking powder
--1 tsp salt

Refrigerate dough for at least 4 hours (I did it overnight--it keeps a few days).  Roll out on to floured surface and cut cookies out.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frozen Socks

So far today, I'm feeling a lot better than I was yesterday evening *cheers and applause*   Since feeling better has persisted into the evening, I'd like to believe that I'm actually better. (We'll see tomorrow, though)

What did I do? Let's see:
  1. Let Taylor love me. Ahh, always the best medicine! 
  2. Rest. Though I didn't get into bed till 10:30 (see below for why), I slept until 8:30 this morning.  Sleep is the best thing for getting better.  ['Course, this becomes a problem when one is too sick to sleep well. Yuck.]
  3. Homeopathic remedies, including: neti pot; hot shower; lots of fluids (spicy soup, too); vitamin C, D, concentrated garlic, and fish oil; hot tea. 
  4. The "cold wet sock treatment."  Yes, this is also a homeopathic remedy. And yes, it does sound rather bizarre. I didn't even remember about this until I was already in bed (at 10 pm) but I'm glad I got up to do it. Bizarre, yes, but kinda fun. Here's how you do it: 
You'll need one pair of cotton socks and one pair of wool socks.  Prepare a nice hot water bath for your feet (add some tea tree oil or eucalyptus to clear your sinuses a bit).  You want it really warm, but not so hot as to scald you.  Before you soak your feet, drench the cotton socks in cold water and squeeze them out well. Put them in the freezer (yes).

Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes. You want your feet to be very warm and cozy.  When you're done soaking, dry your feet off very well and get your cotton socks out of the freezer and (here's the worst part) put them on!  Immediately put on the (dry) wool socks and bundle yourself up and go to bed under warm covers.  In the morning the socks should be dry and you should be feeling better.

The idea is to trick your body into heating itself up and killing whatever-it-is that's making you sick.  I don't recommend this treatment if you already have a fever.  Also with this treatment, the sooner you do it, the better.

Our (naturopathic) doctor told us this is what doctors used to tell their patients all the time "back in the day," before the advent of widely-available antibiotics and medications.  And it seemed to work for me this time (hooray!).

Of course, it could have been the special chocolate we got today
(because Sundays are always special)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bodies Are Funny Things

I slept in this morning (ooh, so nice!) and had breakfast with Taylor (also very nice).  We had some delicious coffee together and said our morning prayers.  Then he headed off to a tutoring session and I started my day...

I put the breakfast dishes in the sink and cleared off the table.  Then I cued up my exercise video (which, cheesy as it sometimes is, seems to be working well for me--highly recommended, as long as your TV has a mute feature (once you learn the exercises)) :) and did my exercises.

Feeling pretty accomplished, I decided today would be a good day to clean up the house. The whole house.  I cleared the floor in our bedroom and closet and swept thoroughly; made the bed; tidied my sewing area; re-organized our closet so we have more room in the entry closet for Viv when she comes [ = super exciting!]; dusted; and put all our clean clothes away.

I put new sticky-pads on the legs of our kitchen chairs; I vacuumed all our rugs and put some rug-stabilizers under them; I dusted the living room; swept everywhere (including T's study nook (under his bookshelf) and under the TV bookshelf); I organized my knitting and the magazines; and put away all our coats and scarves.

I even did my hair.

I dusted in the bathroom; cleaned the mirror; scrubbed the tub; swept the floor; and wiped down the toilet.

I moved to the kitchen and washed all the dirty dishes, dried them, and put them all away.  I wiped all the counters and the table and swept and mopped the floor.

Then I made dinner (broccoli soup and rye bread), just in time for T to get home from studying and a hair cut, and we sat down to eat in peace and cleanliness.  Didn't last long, though--I started sneezing and my nose was running and my head got really congested.  All in the space of 20 minutes. What gives?

It's strange to me that I felt so well all day and then, all of a sudden, descended to icky-ness. I guess my body figured: "Whew, T's home to take care of me now. I can relax--especially since the house is all clean, too."

And he is taking care of me :)  He's cleaning up the dinner dishes and getting our vitamins. He's so good to me, all the ways he loves me!

The soup was very good, though--with just enough cayenne pepper for a kick to my poor sinuses.  I've taken some medicine and am heading to bed, after I do the "cold, wet sock treatment" (curious? I'll explain tomorrow if people are interested) since I don't have a fever right now.  Hopefully I can nip this thing in the bud.  Who wants to be sick for Thanksgiving?!

Here's hoping!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Finer Things

One of the nice things about having a 6 week fast before Christmas (with T and me, at least) is that you get at least 6 Kris Kringle presents.

You might ask, "What are Kris Kringle presents?"  They're awesome, that's what they are :)  As kids, "Kris Kringle" always found the best presents and small gifts to give us.  On Sundays there would be a gift for the family, usually a Christmas book or chocolates--something we could all share and enjoy.  During the weekdays (it seemed to me, most often, on those days when my poor 3rd grade week was just too long to endure), we'd wake up and find a small treasure--sometimes wrapped, sometimes not--waiting on our pillow or on our dresser for us.  It was always such a treat, and so unexpected.

Two years ago, I decided Kris Kringle should come to our house, too.  And what'd'y'know? we found gifts waiting for us all 6 Sundays of Advent :)

The best part is that you never know where the present will show up, or even when.  We got this on on Wednesday--a special present. I guess Kris knew we needed a few things from the Body Shop.

Taylor really wished that he got a cut-throat razor to go with it, but I'm not so sure about those yet...

He really did enjoy his new brush, though--it was super cute, and, he says, "much better than that stuff from the can."  Well done, Kris Kringle!

And now we sit,
freshly brewed
oolong tea
in nifty
tidying up our day
before heading to bed.

The finer things in life
are usually very small.

But always fantastic.

Enjoy them :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Dish Wonder

Writing again late at night, but this is a quick one, anyway :)

Everyone in my family remembers shepherd's pie.  It was one of Momma's leftovers dishes and pretty simple--ground beef, frozen peas, condensed tomato soup, mashed potatoes. Bake it to warm. Dish it up, salt and pepper to taste :)  Ahhh, memories.  I'm not sure how much she made each time, but when I make it, T and I easily eat up half of the recipe in one dinner.  How did she stretch her recipe for a family of 7?!  Maybe she used bigger pans...

Anyway, I've been "experimenting" with this recipe of late.  I added onion because I love onion :) it's completely optional in the recipe below.  I didn't have tomato soup one day (I know, Daddy--the SHOCK! [Momma and Daddy always had canned tomato soup on hand.. it was one of their staples]) and so I used some canned tomatoes I had.  Tonight, I didn't have any mashed potatoes ready, and figured dicing them would be less mess than mashing them (certainly less to clean out of the pan).

Really, though, the possibilities are endless--change up the vegetables, carrots instead of peas, pearl onions with the ground beef, a layer of scrambled egg, different potatoes, cheese on top, etc.  Experiment with your own ideas!

So here it is, my small twist on
Momma's Shepherd's Pie

1 pound ground beef (or turkey, your preference)
1/4 onion, chopped (or 1 T dried onion)
2 T flour (or arrowroot powder)
1 pound bag frozen peas
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 c chopped parsley
leftover potatoes (if you have leftover potatoes--diced, mashed, fries, hashbrowns, etc., this really is a one-dish meal.  You'll need 2-3 c potatoes [chop the french fries into smaller pieces]. If, like me, you don't have any leftovers, follow the instructions in brackets)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the beef in a large oven-proof skillet.  Add onion and saute until tender (or re-constituted).  Turn off heat, add flour and stir to combine.

While beef is browning, [bring a pot of water to a boil. Par-boil 3-4 diced potatoes until barely fork-tender (5-8 minutes).  Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and] toss potatoes with 1/4 c chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Set aside.

Layer the vegetables over the beef (in the skillet) in this order:
frozen peas

Place the whole skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until juices are bubbling.

Serve warm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CHECKing In!

Look what I've done this week :)
  1. 4 of these:  CHECK (yes, I started with this one on purpose)
  2. 5 of these:  ALSO CHECK! (ok, I only had to "make" this one once)
  3. 5 of these:  CHECK
  4. 5 of these: Check-a-partial-one. Given the above three CHECKs, these don't seem so bad anymore :) 
  5. 3 of these:  Check a-partial-One!  Two and Three: pending successful completion of one. 
  6. 1 set of these:  Check part One and Two. Third part--in progress! 
  7. 1 of these:  No check. Coming up next, though! :)
  8. mail this: CHECK
  9. Order these: CHECK!
  10. 2 of these: nope, haven't started these either. 
In other news, it's been sunny here of late. Sunny. And Windy. And (therefore) chilly.

Why does everyone think Sun automatically makes it a "nice day"?  Having been raised in a desert, where it's sunny all the time, I'm here to tell you that premise if flawed.  Don't get me wrong--sunshine is great (really!) but what's wrong with clouds?

Anyway :)  Enjoy the sunshine, wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

O Joyful Light

Advent is here.  That joyful season when we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth.  I've been thinking about Christmas for months now (homemade gifts + an ever-expanding family), but with the advent of Philipovka, it's time to prepare the soul (and body, and home) as well.

Yesterday, after work, I tidied up the house and got out the red cloths and candles for the icon corner.  I put away the familiar white cloth behind the crucifix, and I folded the fancier cloth that sits on the shelf, under our candles and icons and holy cards.  When our small red candle is lit for prayers, the red flame stands out against the golden icons.

I pulled our Star of David out from the shelf and unwrapped the six red candles I had saved from last year and set it up on our table. I placed our prayer booklets for meals, with matches and a candle snuffer, on the table next to the candles.

I unpacked the Advent Calendar and hung it on our bedroom door.


Now I'm ready to wait for Christ.

Menu planning for the next 6 weeks will be a bit different.  See, part of our Christmas preparation is to fast, and I need to factor that in to my meal schedule.  Oatmeal for breakfast, very small lunch or snack, modest dinner, no desserts.  I know that some people may think fasting is "old fashioned" and "unnecessary" but I firmly believe in its benefits (spiritually as well as physically).  By abstaining from certain foods for certain reasons, our bodies remind us to prepare for Christmas, to pray, and to give thanks for the gifts we have.  Abstinence makes the heart grow (fonder, more charitable, holier).  Also, how much more feast-ive is the Christmas day feast when the fast is broken and the much-missed foods return to the table!  If one can fast from good things, one is free from slavery to them, and thus, closer to God.

Over the next several weeks, I will decorate our house for Christmas.  We will put up our nativity sets, hang lights and Christmas pictures, find a tree, and decorate it beautifully.  We will hear readings at Church each day that increase the anticipation and excitement with a voice crying out in the wilderness, "Ready the Way of the Lord!"  The house will be full of goodies which only make an appearance at Christmastime (cunningly saved in winter tins to await the end of the fast).  We will play Christmas music and wrap presents and visit family and warm our hearts and souls and bodies against the cold with all manner of Good Things.

But for now, it is just the beginning of the journey toward Christmas, and we enter the wilderness for 40 days to make ourselves ready.

Last night we had lentil and sweet potato soup with a quick wheat bread (recipe from my birthday cookbook).

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

2 c. red or brown lentils (or combination) soaked overnight
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 onions (or 3 heaping T dried onion)
2 qt water (or combination water and broth of choice)
1/2 tsp paprika
juice of one lemon
dash cayenne pepper (add this after soup is done simmering! if it boils, it intensifies!)
salt to taste

Combine water [and stock], lentils, sweet potatoes, and onions in soup pot and simmer until veggies are tender.

Blend soup until smooth.

Add seasonings to taste.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread
adapted from: From a Monastery Kitchen

1 c flour
2 heaping c coarse-ground whole wheat flour
2 T sesame seeds
2 T toasted wheat germ (I used milled flax seeds)
2 T rye meal
1 tsp salt
1 T brown sugar
1 heaping tsp baking soda
2 c buttermilk (dairy allergy/vegan? use milk substitute + 2 T vinegar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add 2 c buttermilk and stir until just combined (adding water if mixture is too dry--it should have the consistency of banana bread batter).

Grease bread pan. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Cool (or not) and serve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Writer's Block

It's a tricky time of year.  It's also Monday, and that means I feel frazzled--whether or not I have reason to.  Mondays mean I have to go into work after a couple days off (oh blissful days!). Mondays mean I have to start thinking about the week ahead (though I usually do that on the weekend, too).  Mondays mean I need to exercise again (I give myself Sundays off).

It's a tricky time of year because I can't talk to you about most of the crafty projects I'm working on ( = no accountability!) because most of them are presents.  And the projects that aren't presents I don't usually have time for, so the list would be short and, really, rather stagnant until post-holiday.

But in the name of (hopeful) progress, let's give this a try:

  1. 4 of these:  CHECK (yes, I started with this one on purpose)
  2. 5 of these:  ALSO CHECK! (ok, I only had to "make" this one once)
  3. 5 of these:  Check One, Two, and a-partial-Three. Four and Five: pending
  4. 5 of these: Um... we'll talk about these later. 
  5. 3 of these:  Check a-partial-One!  Two and Three: pending successful completion of one. 
  6. 1 set of these:  Check part One and Two. Third part--in progress! 
  7. 1 of these:  No Check. Should be easy, though :)
  8. mail this: have to make a card!
  9. Order these: waiting for one more this
Hmm. That does feel a little better.  And it makes me smile to think that (most of) you have no idea what I'm talking about :)

So it's still Monday... but on the bright side, I still have 30-some day before (most of) the gifts are due.  And since it's Monday, that means that tomorrow's Two's Day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Start Spreadin' the News

"I'm leavin' today! I want to be a *part* of it: 
New York, New York!

That's right!  T and I headed down to NY (for the first time ever) yesterday to visit his grandparents who are in town for another event.  We woke bright and early (well, this time of year it wasn't exactly bright) and took the train down--sleeping most of the way.

From Penn Station, we walked to the hotel to check in and meet up with Grama--since Grampa was still in a meeting.  After a nice lunch at il Menestrello (ooh, tasty tomato and prosciutto pasta!) we went for a leisurely walk though Central Park.  The weather was cool and rather damp, but it made the whole atmosphere very cozy, in a way, and delightfully secluded, muffling the sounds of the city streets.. even the clip-clop clip-clop of the horse-drawn carts through the park was less clamorous.

Grampa took us all to dinner at the Bull and Bear in the Waldorf-Astoria and I had duck for the first time!  A lot like chicken, but (naturally) more game-y. Quite tasty :)  And the best part of our day? Yes, we were in bed, asleep, by 8:30 p.m.

Today: 9am Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, brunch with Grampa, Grama, and (her sister) Aunt Mary, visit to the Frick Museum (a very impressive private collection--we saw the original St. Thomas More painting!), stroll to the train station, knitting all the way home.  Anti-climactic?  Not at all.  

As far as out-of-town weekends go, this was certainly a very relaxing one.  And it was wonderful to see family--we miss you so!  Thank you, Grampa and Grama for inviting us down!

New York

Saturday, November 14, 2009

St. Philip's Fast

[I know it's a little early, but T and I are going to NY today and I won't have time to post until we get back.]

Today is the eve of the Feast of St. Philip and (for Byzantines) the eve before the beginning of Advent.  This year, as a Kris Kringle present, I made an Advent Calendar for Taylor's family :)

Hope they like it.  And I hope this post hasn't spoiled the surprise, since it's one day early!

Black's Advent Calendar

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bittersweet Friday

So, Fridays are great!  It's the end of the week, the beginning of a new weekend, and whenever I leave work, I want to throw up my hands and laugh into the wind at being free for a few days :)

But this Friday, although fantastic in many ways, was a little bittersweet.  See, my sister (that is, my Seester), who has been visiting this week, left this evening :(  She was such a fabulous guest.  When I got home from work today, the dishes were done and she had stripped the futon, folded it up, and tidied up the house.  Is this what it's like for Taylor when he comes home?  I mean, what a treat!

Honestly, though, I won't be missing her just because she doesn't seem to mind cleaning my house (but really--isn't that awesome?), I'll miss being able to be silly and ridiculous with her, talking about old cartoons or movies we watched all the time as kids (and I really mean, all the time).

So :) let's all say a prayer that she moves to Boston next semester and finds a good job so we can hang out more often!  (Don't worry--I won't make her clean my house while she's here)

Wouldn't that be fun?

C'mon, Viv, I LOVE YOU and I think it'd be awesome to live in the same town again.  Don't you think so, too?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Feet

I walked through a lovely pile of ginkgo leaves on my way home today.  Happy Feet :)

Not so happy in those shoes, though--I wore them all day yesterday as Viv and I walked around downtown to find her interview places.  Why did I wear them to day, then, you ask?  ...I'm not sure either.

Yesterday was a full day as well. I guess that's just the way it is when one has guests :)  Work in the morning, lunch downtown, wandering around with my Seester, browsing some stores (during her interview).  We had baked beans for dinner last night--my very own Boston baked beans--and some whole grain pull-apart bread (which turned out well!).  Watched a movie together (with T (and tea)).  Generally a great day!

I got off work early today and T and I drove Viv out to Framingham for another interview (which went well--they would like to talk to her in January when she's available!). Sushi for lunch (YUM!) and then we went to a lecture at BC (while I promptly forgot about picking up our food for the week.. our CSA produce and our fresh, local fish :( oops) and had a tasty (free) dinner on campus with other lecture attendees.

Then (and my favorite part), having found a fellow Animaniacs-lover in one of our philosophy friends, we all came back to our place and watched an episode of the Great, the Wonderful Animaniacs.  A perfect way to end the evening.

And now I'm off to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll blog during the day, when I'm not so tired. This is getting to be a bad habit :(  (but I am still blogging each day--that's gotta count for something?)

We shall see :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

4 of a Kind

You may remember I told you I was crafty this weekend :)  I can't think of anything else to blog about tonight (hey, it's late--what do you want from me?), so I figured now would be a good time to tell you about the nursing covers I made.

Of course, the idea came from the original bebe au lait nursing covers (aka, "hooter hiders").  I used this tutorial for the first nursing cover I made, and the fabric we picked out was too light-weight, and the boning didn't keep its curve.

Then, being me :) I thought "why not add another layer of fabric for the boning and make the cover reversible, too?"

And voila!  A two-in-one nursing cover.

Even the pockets are reversible.

And (just like the original ones) each one comes with a matching bag.

Pretty nifty, huh? :)

[(C) all rights reserved; for private, not-for-profit use only]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Twist on Two's-Day

Well, today was a busy day! Taylor had a long day at class ahead of him, so I had a 'two's-day' with my sister instead of T.  What a treat to spend such good time with my favorite younger sister!

T and I woke up at 4 am to (shower and) get to the airport by 5, when Viv's flight arrived.  Having flown jetBlue, her flight was early :)  But we successfully snatched her and her bag and headed home.  Breakfast (buckwheat pancakes) was relatively leisurely, and then I headed off to work, T to class, and V to bed.

When I got home around 11:30 this morning, Viv was just waking up. So we had some lunch, and went to BC to show her the campus.  We met two amazing people but ended up chatting the afternoon away for the rest of our "campus tour" :) sisters will do that, you know!

Chipotle for dinner, she and I headed downtown to check out the "night scene" and to see the Holocaust Memorial (it's the best at night).  It was a great evening "on the town" but we had to go get a new kitchen cart I've been coveting (this one).  When we got home, Viv picked out her outfit for tomorrow (two meetings downtown) and we talked and puttered until T got home (from his 12-hour day at school).  Now for prayers and bed... zzzzzzzzz

Ok, so re-reading my post it doesn't seem like our day was that busy, but it sure felt very busy. And exhausting. I suppose waking up at 4 and staying awake all day will do that.  To all you parents: I admire your fortitude!

Anyway :) Here are some pictures from our evening :) We had a good time.

Viv's Visit!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Catching Up?

Here we are again--time when I should be in bed but I'm blogging instead (hey, that rhymes).

I'm blogging about yesterday, though. Does it still count?

T did a 5k race on Sunday with the law school.  It's called Race Ipsa (a pun on res ipsa loquitur... I didn't quite get it either).   But the race went very well and T had a good time--felt really good after the run, too.

[I have to admit, law school does not leave much time for idleness.  They say "idle hands are the devil's workshop," but don't you think it gets a little silly sometimes, with the number of "events" the law school/classes/sections/clubs plan for their members?  Hm..]

So here are the pictures. There's some more "mini-blogging" in the captions :D

Race Ipsa

In other news--I got the house mostly cleaned up for my SEESTER! who's arriving bright and early tomorrow morning (another reason I should be in bed with my Sweet P'Taylor, instead of staring at a computer screen).  She's visiting Boston to scope out the job scene--keep her in your prayers! We want her to move here and hang out with us!  

I did some sewing, too (can't share what yet. 'tis the season, I guess).. which is one reason why I'm blogging now, instead of being a good girl and doing it earlier in the evening.  

Maybe tomorrow I will be better.  


We'll see. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 8

[Here I am... day 8 of NaBloWriMo.  I'm technically still posting before tomorrow!]

A friend of mine asked me what makes my new birthday scissors so nifty. So I've made a short list.

  1. They're shiny!
  2. They're silver (anyone who knew me in middle school knows how much I like(d) silver)
  3. They're left-handed
  4. They're "knife-edged" (no, I'm not sure what that means, but they make an awesome sound when you scissor them near your ear... shhhck shhhck)
  5. They make cutting fabric like cutting through tissue paper (= nice break for my hands)
  6. Taylor gave them to me :)

Also, I made four of these this weekend.  What are they? Well, you'll just have to wait and see :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Many Happy Returns

Yesterday I posted about my first birth day.  Today I thought I should share my 26th birthday with you :)

I went to work in the morning (ah, another year of successfully not telling them it's my birthday. There can be so much frivolous fuss in offices... I prefer to avoid it) and then hurried to meet T at the T :)  He had picked up some sushi-to-go for lunch, and when I arrived at the station, the train was just pulling up so we hopped on and headed downtown.  Also while I was at work, T had waited in line for rush tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra's matinĂ©e performance of Beethoven's 8th and 9th Symphonies (skipping class :-o and waiting in the frigid wind, I might add--see how much my husband loves me?).

We sat in the sunshine to eat our sushi, since we made great time getting downtown and the concert didn't start until 1:30.  Even though the sun was shining, we were still cold, holding chopsticks, shoving (tasty) sushi (and maki) into our mouths as the wind whipped past our faces and stripped us of all body heat! Brrr...

Thankfully, Symphony hall was nice and warm :)  The symphonies were thoroughly enjoyable (despite our afternoon-drowsiness--who's idea was it to hold concerts during siesta time?!) and we were glad to have been able to get tickets (Thank you, Taylor!).

Dinner reservations were for 5:30, so we had some two hours to pass after the concert finished.  We ambled over to the Museum of Fine Arts (well, we walked briskly... into the wind... hands in pockets!).  The MFA has a great cafe, so we sat down and had some deliciously hot beverages to warm up.  T read me some poems (aww) and we chatted about this and that...

Then we visited the Secrets of Tomb 10A exhibit.  I know, the name sounds a bit dry (C'mon, people, "Tomb 10A"?), but it was very interesting for us Classics majors :D  For some reason, I get such a kick out of looking at objects that are thousands of years old. Isn't that crazy?

For dinner we went to Meyers + Chang, a restaurant with a "funky indie diner setting" that has fabulous food! We ate a whole lot... but it was very good (and we must have been pretty hungry because we weren't terribly full afterwards, either (though we did enjoy the long-ish walk to the T...)). Highly recommended if you're in the Boston area!

So we walked back to the T through downtown Boston, warm, full bellies under our coats, and came home to open presents.  I got:

  • several awesome books (I'm sure you'll hear about them eventually)
  • some new crystal glasses
  • an awesome scarf/glove set
  • the niftiest sewing scissors I've ever touched :D
  • a "Faith Hope Love" stamp
  • and, of course, oodles of lovely cards!  

Without question, a fabulous way to remember my birth day :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts On My Birth Day

Two years ago, after I found out that Momma's cancer had returned, the birthday card she sent me made me cry.  She told me about Halloween the year I was born: "I remember walking through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, holding a flashlight in one hand, Bethany's small hand in the other.  My arms would go to sleep I was so large with you.  The neighbors were out on their porches handing out candy. It was the end of an era."

The idea that this time of year--fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving--reminded her of my birth had never struck me before.  I suppose that's just what mother's do is think about their children.  Not that father's don't of course :) but mothers have all those special memories of their babies all the way through their lives.

I was born at 7 in the evening, at home in Florida (having been raised in CA, I always adjusted the time for Pacific time--4 pm, thankyouverymuch).  Daddy was in California at the time (I can't recall why--business trip? looking for a new job?) and so Momma was "on her own" for the end of her pregnancy with me. Of course she had a wonderful community of close friends in the area, so she had lots of help.  That day, Momma took the older three kids to Church's Fried Chicken drive-through for dinner.

She had been having mild contractions all day (and didn't feel like cooking), but hey--with her fourth kid, she was a pro at labor by now, right? :)  At the drive-through, she pulled into the lane, ordered her chicken and pulled forward to wait in line.  Another car pulled up behind her and--as if on que--her contractions intensified and she began to feel claustrophobic.  I mean, who wants to get stuck in a drive-through lane when your water breaks?  She she started her breathing exercises and told the kids to sing!! Musical distraction, she told me--to let her body know that right now is not a good time to deliver Baby.

They got their chicken without incident and drove home.  I can't remember what she did with the older kids--sent them to a friend's house or just let them watch TV?  She started walking around, breathing through the contractions, rubbing her lower back, as she called her friends to let them know "The time has come." My God mother delivered me at home, in my parents' bed.

[Have I told you I have pictures of my birth?  Don't worry--I won't post them here! (They're in my baby box--and I only looked at them once, until I realized what they were) :) haha... I guess my God mother wanted Daddy to experience the birth too?  I dunno...]

Momma always told me, "You just slid out, you were so small."  I was 7 pounds 8 ounces.  A perfect baby :)  ...a perfect baby with such fatty thighs that they had to peel them apart to see if I was a boy or a girl!  Daddy picked my name, Anne Michelle.  At first, he thought "Michelle Anne" would be nice, but then he decided that sounded too much like Michelin (as in the tires).

I was just two and a half weeks old for Thanksgiving. I wonder what Momma did that year--with Daddy out of town.  Did he come home for Thanksgiving to meet me?  For my first Christmas, I was nearly two months--and probably quite fascinated with the lights of our Christmas tree...

Momma and three of her girls

This is the first birthday I haven't gotten a birthday card from Momma... so I'll send her one, in prayer, this year.

Happy my-birth-day, Momma :)
Thank you for the gift of my life,
and for the gift of yours!