28 December, 2006

25 December, 2006

Wonderful Day

Christmas Day - terrific from beginning to end, even if small D. did wake up at 4-odd in the morning because he was so excited. He ended up sleeping in our bed until Lily came in at 8 to wake us all. Santa brought lovely things, family and friends sent wonderful things, and even Mommy and Daddy gave some nice things. Mommy and Daddy even got a present or two of their own.

Dinner was yummy, we got to speak to all the grandparents, and there was a Doctor Who Christmas episode. True excitement for the kid who got a TARDIS playset from Santa.




Here's a nice shot of the shop that Santa left - we've since changed the shopkeeper's chair for a shorter one that fits better.

Check out the Family Blog for a few more pictures of the kids enjoying some of their gifts...

24 December, 2006

Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader




Wherever you may be, know that I wish you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year ahead. May your Christmas have love and friends, family and fun!

And maybe some quality knitting time by the fireplace, with glass of delicious mulled wine close at hand, and your sweetie by your side. Sounds really nice to me. I'm just sayin'...

23 December, 2006

Fortunate

A fortunate Festivus to you, Gentle Reader!!
My Fortune Cookie told me:
Tomorrow will be an excellent day for putting Slinkies on an escalator.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Too true! Especially if anyone is out there heading to the shops on Christmas Eve. Hoping like heck that WON'T be me. We're done here. Kinda need a bit more cello tape, however.

22 December, 2006

Joke for ya; Festivus decor

First, a great joke from small David.


Q: What do misers do when it's cold?
A: Sit round a candle.


Q: What do misers do when it's VERY cold?
A: Light it.



The pantomime was HILARIOUS and great fun for everyone. Highly recommend them...



Here's a picture of David with the Festivus pole - unadorned, as per Festivus tradition.

Dude has a new blog!

Papa's got a brand new blog, just in time for Festivus. I expect humor and curmudgeonry abounding...Today we are off to see our first pantomime - panto is huge here in England at the holidays. This one is Jack and the Beanstalk. Should be a hoot.

20 December, 2006

Decorated for Christmas



Here's that dollhouse - all greeneried for Christmas. David wants the Borrowers to come live in it...so do I, actually.

FitDay

Not much happening here as we hit Day 1 of the Christmas break. Everyone is off work and school, and we are reveling in the late wake-up. Today's activity plan: decorate the dollhouse for Christmas. This is a dollhouse I won in a raffle at the Sandringham Flower Show this summer. The kids and I have gotten some bits of furniture for it, but now it's time to put the greenery on. Picture will follow...

The other activity going on around here is tracking food that we (adults) eat - D. is using the Weight Watchers site and I am using FitDay. Gotta say - for a free service, it's pretty spiffy. I can add custom foods quite easily. The only hassle is adding custom recipes - have to do lots of math BEFORE I get it added in. Or I can track them an ingredient at a time. It all works, somehow.

Rather than gaining ANOTHER 5 pounds over the holiday, the goal is to lose a pound or two before grooving into the New Year with some more weight loss

17 December, 2006

Critical Mass

Tonight, we have achieved something I fear - my daughter has enough of her favorite color clothing to make an entire laundry load of PINK. Perhaps I can encourage a new attachment to loden, or violet, or burnt sienna...

16 December, 2006

In which I consider the relative joys of Festivus...

Yes, there are times I can see the beauty in the simple aluminum pole and non-rituals of Festivus. This afternoon? Oh, that might be such a time...

On the plus side of Christmas preparations, there are many things. First, I found a rocking Christmas music internet radio station with a true mix of tunes, all of which I've enjoyed so far. Check out Superjukebox. Only the occasional plea for funds, and I like 'em so much I may just make a donation!

We were able to pass on some Christmas love by giving Lily's old toddler bed to a new toddler through Freecycle this afternoon. So her lovely Pottery Barn-looking pine bed will help another New Big Girl sleep well...that's cool.

I had a great time with Lily this afternoon, mixing up a great big batch of sugar cookie dough. Tasty stuff. That's more Christmas love, as we are making the cookies for single airmen who are here in the dorms (barracks) far away from family at the holidays.

On the minus side, oh, let's see - ahhh, yes. The fact that I somehow FORGOT about the BAKING POWDER for the entire batch of dough, and didn't realize this until we had rolled and chilled all of it, and were cutting the first batch of cookies to bake.

Yes, that was a minus. It was even an opportunity for me to use colorful language. LOTS of colorful language. I'll need more flour AND more butter before I redo these the right way, because I am just about out of both. Sigh...

So, on to a plus. We do have two dozen chocolate chip cookies done (these were the slice and bake jobs but the kids added their special sprinkles touch to each one). Made those already while the "sugar cookie" dough was chilling.

Furthermore, I have made great flourless peanut butter cookies before, and they're dead easy to do. Even had organic PB around so they wouldn't taste totally of sugar. They took no time at all to make up, and David rolled each one in sugar for sparkly good looks.

Oh, wait, a minus! The cookie baking is supposed to be nut-free to avoid allergy issues in any recipients. However, we decided that might just be a plus, because it means 2 dozen cookies are going to be eaten right here at home...

And a final plus - the test batch of "sugar cookies" that I went ahead with tasted just like boring but good pie crust. So I have taken some of the batch and I'm baking a crust right now. We'll have an apple tart from it, at least.

No, wait, another final plus - because I'm a DOOFUS, the house will smell of baking cookies for two days instead of one. I love Christmas, you guys!

Signing off for a coffee and one of the non-givable peanut butter cookies now..

14 December, 2006

Socks and Turkeys

Thanks for the input on teeny sockdom for this month. No, there are no knitting police! So I will forge ahead and finish them up, and if they're big enough, I'll count them as Official Socks for December.

Meanwhile, we have turkeys in the yard. A medium-sized trailerful of turkeys. Here's a view from the kitchen door - you see a corner of Knitting House at left and the wall that separates us from the stables behind the trailer.
Our landlord and local landowner has been raising some lovely Norfolk turkeys this fall for the holiday eatin' season. They've been in a little fenced-in area across the lane. Today Lady Landlord knocked on the door to ask if she could stash them in our yard for a little bit - they're loaded and ready to go, but I guess wherever they are going TO isn't ready yet. Since it's really their yard and all, and since we could park a dozen cars easily and still fit ours, I graciously agreed :) And that was very sweet of me...

13 December, 2006

If...

If a knitblogger wants to knit a pair of socks in December but is:

a) sick,
b) rawther lazy, and
c) still working on a certain Snowdrop Shawl

do American Girl doll socks count as official Sock-a-Month socks? In my defense, I can't get that gauge (8-8.5 st/inch) to save my life on size 0 needles, so they will be bigger. Perhaps even requiring a touch of felting to fit the dolly. Could I call them booties, which do count? Rules are: Must fit a human.

Writing of the Snowdrop Shawl reminds me - poor Yarn Harlot has outgrown her webspace, or something like that, and can't make new posts or take comments until it's sorted. I, along with multitudes of others, am in serious withdrawal.

12 December, 2006

It's hard to believe sometimes, but it's been over 10 years since I left the world of the office, first for full-time freelance work, then part-time, and for the past 2 years for plain ole Stay-at-Home-Momliness. Now, way back in my Cube Farm days, I used to indulge my Not-so-inner Dork by sticking plastic action figures or the odd Happy Meal toy to my computer monitor top - He-Man and She-Ra had a good run, as I recall...it kept me amused. That and lots of coffee. And doughnuts.






Now, if they had had these fellas back then, you know I would have had them in the cubicle as well! Darling Son has had the various Cubicle Playsets on his wish list since we discovered ThinkGeek.com. Hours of fun, baybee.








Something else essential for any cubicle is a Successories poster, or maybe a Despair ,Inc. poster instead, like this one at left. Caution: some of these are so funny you may snort beverages from your nose.

10 December, 2006

Six Months in a Nutshell

"Ooooh, I'm in a nutshell...oooh [say it a la Austin Powers for full effect]." If you want to see our last 6 months in a nutshell, check out the Family Blog for all the words and pictures...

I feel good because I am catching up on lots of things that have needed to be done, but I've still got Christmas cards for family and a few small packages to prep for mailing. HAS to be done by Tuesday, the day I am driving down to the base to the U.S. Post Office. Good times...yeah, fun times.

And craftily speaking, here's an awesome sampler that David made in school for a Christmas gift. I am well impressed. How about you?


07 December, 2006

Schooly Thoughts

David's friend Ciaran and Ciaran's brother Benjie received letters from Santa today. David told me this the instant he came out of school today. And insisted I blog it. So what was IN the letter, I wonder? Money? Fabulous gifts and prizes?

Nope, and David will tell us: "It came in a red corrugated envelope with a seal (not an otter, snort) that says 'Merry Christmas from Santa' around the edge. Inside there was a letter and address was Snowflake Cottage, Icicle Lane, Reindeer Valley, North Pole. Ciaran's letter finished off with: 'Must dash...I've got to get Leacham off the ceiling.' (Leacham was an elf who was trying to see how high he could bounce on a pogo stick and got his head stuck on the ceiling) Benjie's finished off with: 'Must go...Mrs Christmas has reminded me I need to exercise the reindeer before I go to bed.' They both came with a red leather pouch and inside was a small bag of Elf Fairy Dust. Uses of Elf Fairy Dust: on Christmas Eve sprinkle some outside and it will guide the reindeer to landing. Also, put some under your pillow; you'll have sweet dreams all night and be fast asleep when Father Christmas comes."

Special thanks to David's photographic memory for that.

My schooly thoughts: OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) are scary. I am the chair (voluntary position) for Lily's preschool. The preschool staff and I met today with the Link Teacher (sort of a mentor) about being prepared for OFSTED's surprise at-any-time inspection. It was a bit overwhelming. NOt so much for the inspection of the school itself, which is a terrific place; it's the paperwork and documentation that they want supporting every plan, or activity, or what-have-you. I'm feeling a bit ISO 9000 about it all. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon doing the instantest bits, and making a list I can go through with the head teacher so we can get all our ducks lined up most efficiently. The staff are so amazing - they are truly gifted with the children, and Jane (head teacher) is also incredible with planning, etc. But this paperwork has got to be a real team effort...

05 December, 2006

Checking in...

Quick post to say "I'm here, still alive and kicking..." Mom arrived safely back in the states, and we are all missing her. I'm just sick is all, with Lily's cold having taken up residence in my chest, thankyousomuch. Delivered David to school and took to the couch for the rest of the day, with periodic breaks to feed Lily and otherwise keep her from burning the house down. Lily deserves the Well Behaved Preschooler of the Year Award for her incredible patience and behavior today.

Feeling a bit better now. Tomorrow looks busy - Simon's last visit until spring, I should think (Simon is the Garden Guy who makes it all look good) and the preschool treasurer is coming over to puzzle out an annual report we have to file. Fun times.

There are Christmas cards to write...none of which got done today, Tae Kwon Do class to go to (that job goes to dadster tomorrow), knitting to finish, food shopping to do (this is URGENT), etc., etc.

But I got this cool badge from fussy.org's site - I claim it, even though I had one post which could not be put up on the date because of bad wireless mojo.

03 December, 2006

Mmmm...gingerbread

Thank you, premade gingerbread house kit! This is what the kids did on my mom's last night here - David decorated the back and one side, Lily decorated the front and one side. I think it came out pretty well, and it was VERY easy to assemble, unlike last year's Rice Krispy House.





The Jultomten Are Watching...


In this season of Advent, just remember that the Jultomten, the little Swedish Christmas elves, are watching you! They may appear anywhere in your home each day, and they report back to Santa Claus. But only if you are Swedish, or a little bit Swedish at least.

My mom (the Swede in us) left for the U. S. yesterday - we took the train down to London and Heathrow and it was surprisingly smooth. May I recommend On-line Check-in for Virgin Atlantic? The Bag Drop line was about one tenth as long as the other check-in lines. Excellent...

More posting later, maybe later today, when I show you the work of the Gingerbread House Construction Crew.

30 November, 2006

It's Exhausting...


This is what it looks like when you've been sick all week, you feel a bit better, decide to dress up as a ballerina, and become soooo exhausted by putting on your costume that you need to lie back down. Poor baby.

I would show you what it looks like when you are sooooo exhausted from blogging each day all MONTH, but I don't think it would be quite as cute.

29 November, 2006

Today's topic...no, wait. Darn.

Drat! And again, drat, I say. I was quite excited to see I've been tagged for a meme by Everwhelming Liz - I love these things, and I am in dire need of some interesting things to say as we head to December. But then, as I started typing, it seemed familiar. TOO familiar. Yep. So, see my archives and look at 15 October for that one.

Lilybean is indeed sick, so sick that I sent my charming spouse to the computer last night to blog FOR me because Lily was asleep on me, feverish and coughing up a lung, or so you would think. My 2 AM call to the nurse line was oddly reassuring (especially since the nurse was in California and I'm in England...weird). Despite coughing till she threw up, twice, the Bean has no "Get thee to the doctor right now" symptoms. I don't think it's croup, because she's not exactly barking, but at times I wondered last night.

Our pediatrician is calling me back today to do a phone consult. I'd just like to know if there is a cough suppressant on the planet that would help her stop long enough to go to sleep. Poor little cookie. Kids look so small when they don't feel well. She hasn't eaten more than an apple wedge or two in over a day. She is drinking, though. Send happy, healing thoughts her way...

What else? I'm really close to finishing the Snowdrop, or at least to getting started on the I-cord top edging. If Lily conks out, I'll be on that. Christmas shopping is pretty much done, except some bits for nieces and nephews. Cards...sigh. Maybe when I have had some more sleep.

Speaking of no sleep, I was SO thankful for Mr. Ward, the taxi, today. David's school is so small that there's no school bus, just the school taxi. Last year he rode there and back in the taxi most days. This year it's not as consistent, because Lily goes to preschool round the corner in the mornings, I usually drive David as well. But with Lily so sick, Mr. Ward has added David back to the morning run this week. Bless his heart. This also meant that when Lily feel asleep at 6, I could stay on the couch with her while my mom got David ready for school.

p.s. Check out my buddy Lynn's blog as well. She's been quite the busy lady, and just finished some kickin' socks. I am envious, but I have accepted Sockless November as the price I pay for Snowdrop November. Heh.

28 November, 2006

Minimal post

This is a pro-forma post, because the Lilybean is sick (cold/flu/ickiness) and that's where the priority is right now. Back tomorrow!

27 November, 2006

Today's Snowdrop Progress

Here's what you can do when you are at home with a non-running car and a nose-running, sick little girlie who's mostly sleeping - check the size of your Snowdrop Shawl:

While Lily drowsed, I took the shawl off the needles to spread it out a bit. Without even beginning to block it, I can see that it will be amply big. In fact, I won't be adding the edge to this one, or it would be about 5 feet long at the tip and waaaay too big an armspan. As it is, with two more repeats (1.5 really) to go, I'm thinking it may be too big. Is there such a thing?

The next one (hee!) will be stopped sooner or knit with even finer yarn so I can try the edging.

26 November, 2006

Turkey Lurkey Loo...

Here's what Thanskgiving turkey looks like on Day 4:















I'd say it's a good thing we only cooked a 4-kilo turkey, wouldn't you, Gentle Reader? The turkey noodle soup was lovely for tonight's dinner, though. All's pretty much well here as we roll to the end of the lovely long weekend.

A few glitches popped up - the weather totally failed to cooperate yesterday so the friends we hoped would come by couldn't make it, Lily has blossomed with a lovely cough today, and...what else? Oh. Yeah. My lovely little car won't start. The engine turns over but immediately stops unless you keep the gas pressed. Taxi man is lined up for David for school tomorrow, and I'll be communing with the local garage. I think they tow in. I sure hope they do!!

25 November, 2006

Just a Quiet Weekend Day

Ahhhh. The end of a quiet, rainy day here, and I'm about to settle in with a mug of tea and my sweetie to watch a movie. I don't really have much to say - I'm about to end the second ball of wool on the Snowdrop shawl, however. It looks like it will take most of three balls to get the main body done, and then perhaps one more for the edging. We'll see.

This I know for certain, I will not get my varsity Sock Letter for the Sock-a-Month Knitalong this month. There are no socks on the needles, or in mind, right now. I'm just sayin'...

24 November, 2006

Day 24

Day 24 of the NaBloPoMo - and I am hanging in there. Came close to forgetting today, however. Yoikes!

Mom and I went to the Sandringham Craft Show today, and it was surprisingly easy to resist the things on offer there. Guess I am Craft-Showed-out.

This afternoon, David's buddy Nathan came to play and as usual they had a terrific time. I love watching them set up a game and play for ages. Today they spent a long time with the wooden track, making a mondo layout (spanning two rooms and connecting to Nathan's Thunderbirds playset he brought along). And they are always so tolerant of Lily, including her quite often in things they do. Good kids all around.

David the Elder and I just started watching Casino Royale, the original "Bond" movie starring David Niven. One word: Ewwww. It's very campy and tongue-in-cheek and British Bad. Not worth my telly-watching time, really. I'm lobbying for bedtime. Night, all!

23 November, 2006

Oh MY!

The childebeestes went to school today, as we were planning to dine late and a day of cooking is much more fun for all when children don't have to loll around. Lily came home at lunch and helped make our lovely centerpiece with Grandma. David attended the opening of the village shop with his schoolmates (all 70 or so). Guess who officiated? PRINCE CHARLES!! Click that link for an article about the shop and the Prince.

p.s. The shop is lovely, and the meat they sell is good stuff indeed. Not too pricey, either.

Happy Day to You


Happy Fabu Glamtastic Thanksgiving Day, Gentle Reader. May all your celebrations be occasions for family, happiness, warmth, and crazy-cool centerpieces like ours.

22 November, 2006

So.

On the day before Thanksgiving, I just want to say "Is it too early to start playing Christmas music 24/7 on the iPod, the radio, the laptop?"

I know you'll say "Why, yes. Yes, it IS too early." But I can dream.

Did I mention I got two 3-foot fakey trees so the kids can do their own thing decorating, as well as decorating the big one we'll get? Did I mention I bought another 3-footer for the Knitting House? (Fear not, they were less than 3 pounds each.) I am definitely ready to get in the Christmas mode.

21 November, 2006

What I Did Today

What I did today was...bake pies. Lots of pies. These are going to folks David works with, for Thanksgiving. I had a lot of fun with the apple pies, although my Stoopid Brain took over and I skipped a crucial slicing step for the first two pies. I'm confident they all taste equally appley and yummy, even if they aren't as pretty as the Smart Brain pie pictured here. Also made three pumpkin pies, which were definitely tough to resist.

Tomorrow is baking day for our Thanksgiving dinner - but I think I'll let today's pictures speak for both days of baking.




20 November, 2006

Just Another Not-so-Manic Monday

Seems like this Monday has just moved on by without event, although I am positive we did something today...

Preschool staff and mummies were quite happy about the money raised this weekend, we put up new (to us) drapes in the dining room so now the radiator is not covered in curtain fabric, and we actually ate some leftovers for a change. So, there's that.

Come to think of it, the highlight of the day was when I averted a near-disaster with a holiday present we had picked up yesterday. (Now, really, don't you think that when items come in two boxes, the staff might politely advise you when you've taken only one?) I was actually gazing upon the beauty of said present this morning when I saw the dreaded "Box 1 of 2" notice on it. With 90 minutes until preschool pick-up time, Mom and I were off to town in a flash. The manager was expecting us :) - she'd noticed the problem this morning, so when she saw the lady run in and go right for a "box number 2" she was ready.

Sorry, no pictures today and no really enlightening observations. Day 20 of NaBloPoMo isn't the best day so far. Here's to better tomorrows.

19 November, 2006

Three Words for You.



Best. Bond. EVAR. David and I were lucky enough to see Casino Royale this afternoon. I make no apologies. I'm a big fan of the James Bond flicks. I love them: good, bad, and really bad. This one blew all the others out of the water. "Daniel Craig is the new Bond hotness. All other Bonds are old and busted," to totally rip off Will Smith's line in Men in Black. David thought it was terrific, too. In fact, the first words out of his mouth as the closing credits rolled were indeed "Best. Bond. EVAR."

A grand day at the movies...

18 November, 2006

Progress, progress, progress

The Snowdrop Shawl is actually growing, although it's hard to believe night after night as seem to do only 3 or 4 rows... Check out the latest shot. There's enough to drape now.

The boot sale was a pretty good success today. We got windburned and stiff but moved most of the donated items and made 104 pounds, or 196 dollars. Rock on! That still does not include the money I will kick in for some things I cherry-picked during sorting, and have to pay for. A nice bit of change for the preschool funds and I learned some boot sale wheeler-dealer-man-ship from David, as well!

Something else to check out is my sister-in-law's babywearing blog, for a nice essay and a link to an absolutely gorgeous mei tai sling she made. Maybe I inherit my crafty side from the in-laws??

17 November, 2006

What I did today...

No pictures, no scintillating observations today. I do apologize, Gentle Reader.

Today's theme was "Get Ready for the Big Car Boot Sale," and it's been a very long day. We are participating in the boot sale (like a giant multi-seller yard sale) to raise funds for Lily's preschool. This morning, I picked up a last carload of donations, to add to the boxes of things already donated and waiting at home. Mom and I spent the afternoon sorting out items by category and then David and I sorted into prices this evening. For the crowning touch of sheer excitement, we managed to pack everything into one car. I really thought we'd need to take two, but "I was wrong." Right, sweetie?

By leaving out the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, a bunch of books, and assorted china/glassware, David was able to Tetris everything into one vehicle. It's highly stacked, and there's absolutely no visibility through the rear window, but well done! There's another jumble sale coming up in 2 weekends where we can take tomorrow's leftovers and the things we didn't pack in this time.

Now it's eggnog time, soon to be bedtime. Early start tomorrow - mom will watch kidlings while David and I wheel and deal.

16 November, 2006

One Word

Day 16 of NaBloPoMo and I'm flagging just a bit. To my rescue, a nifty (and brief)list of things about me that you never knew you wanted to know. Seriously, thanks to knitchat.com for this one...

1. Yourself: chilly

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): loving

3. Your hair: greying

4. Your mother: role-model

5. Your father: sad

6. Your favorite item: ring (wedding)

7. Your dream last night: forgotten

8. Your favorite drink: coffeeeeeeeee

9. Your dream car: Mini

10. The room you are in: cluttered!

11. Your ex: distant(memory)

12. Your fear: loss

13. What you want to be in 10 years? healthy

14. Who you hung out with last night? hubby

15. What You’re Not? polished

16. Muffins: Ehhh.

17. One of your wish list items: ballwinder

18. Time: enemy

19. The last thing you did: phone

20. What you are wearing: scarf

21. Your favorite weather: monterey-ish

22. Your favorite book: Unfair! (not just one....)

23. The last thing you ate: motrin

24. Your life: blessed

25. Your mood: pensive

26. Your best friend: warm

27. What are you thinking about right now? shawl

28. Your car: blue

29. What are you doing at the moment? idling

30. Your summer: crazy

31. Your relationship status: great

32. What is on your TV? fingerprints

33. What is the weather like? windy

34. When is the last time you laughed? recently

15 November, 2006

Today's Funny Brought to You by SPLU.net

Yes, Gentle Reader, I have The Funny linked right here, and it is good: Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager. You must go HERE and watch these short videos. They're hilarious, and even safe to watch with kids around. I can't wait for Episode 5...

14 November, 2006

What? No knitting??

Ai yi yi...another day with no knitting as yet. Time has gotten away from me. Took the small D. to an allergist appointment and then lunched with uppercase AND lowercase Ds before returning lowercase to school. Came home to a nice HUGE pile of leaves and dragged them to the mulch pile. Consumed much-delayed coffee. Delivered small D. to Beavers (small Scouts) field trip to the grocery store. Consumed MORE coffee in store cafe. Read gossip magazine. However, I bought it for a friend of a friend. Honest!

Now it's time for one last coffee and mebbe even some of that knitting stuff.

I leave you with this question from David's letter to Santa: "P.S. Can you make snow fall? Or are you just used to it?"

13 November, 2006

Thank You, ZoomCafe




At David's suggestion, we made these for dinner tonight...funky! The recipe is on the Zoom web site - we altered it to use hummous for the dip and veggies on hand for the other bits. Lots of fun to make.

12 November, 2006

Best. King Arthur. Tale. EVER.

I finished reading The Sword in the Stone to David this evening. This has been an off-and-on part of our bedtime routine for a few months. The first time I read this book, at 9 or so, it rocked me back on my heels to encounter such vivid writing; I've re-read it many, many times since and the older I grow, the better it is.

It was a perfect read-aloud book for us, giving me a chance to perform and David a chance to sit back and be read TO. That's a rarity when you're 7 and your reading levels are far off the scales... The writing style is denser and much more descriptive than today's books aimed at children, even the Harry Potter books, but it's a terrific tale even at his age for listening. I loved the edition pictured here, which has some absolutely gorgeous color illustrations in it by Dennis Nolan.


In other news, mom's returned from the Mystery Tour, which packed a LOT into 3 days. They visited Oxford, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, AND Greenwich (home of the prime meridian and Greenwich Mean Time and the Cutty Sark and lots of coolness). But wait, that wasn't quite enough - how about the London Eye as well? Quite the weekend!!

11 November, 2006

Art and Life and Veterans' Day

Today is Veterans' Day, or Remembrance Day here in the United Kingdom. My political opinions aren't a topic I choose to talk about in this blog. In general, politics doesn't make for very good conversation anyway, does it? Politics aside, I am proud to be an Army veteran, a daughter of a World War II Army veteran, a sister and sister-in-law of Navy veterans. I am proudest of my husband, an Air Force veteran now back in the blue suit after 9/11. This day is deeply important to me. I remember those who have served, and I honor those who have fallen and those who are serving their countries now.


Garry Trudeau is the author of Doonesbury. He's been talking about the wounded veterans of this Iraq war for the past three years, in a way as real as art can be, in that way that great characters and great writing can become real. Today I read an awesome article about him, about the strip, and about some of the veterans whose stories he's been telling in a way. On this day, why not check it out here?

10 November, 2006

Yoda's Got a Buddy...and Tales from the iPod


Dadster found one of the picture files with Yoda AND Anakin. Don't they make a lovely pair? I can't believe how young David looks - he was nearly 5 there and looks so babyfaced to me now.

More randomness for your reading pleasure...how about "Stuff That's On My iPod" for a topic? There are four Rick Astley songs on there, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Hey, remember the 80s? I sure do. There is NO Tiffany, however, or Debbie Gibson. A girl has to have her standards.

Other iPod goodness...all U2 songs EVAR, because D's iPod is a U2 edition. George Strait and lots of him, for a weird juxtaposition. One Blues Traveler song. Moody Blues. Grateful Dead. Simon and Garfunkel. Barenaked Ladies. Barry White, baybee. All the 80s music you can choke on, says D. And lots (as in many, many songs worth of lots) of Johnny Cash (souvenir of D's latest trip to the Sandbox and some file-sharing). And you know something, Gentle Reader? I have discovered that I really like Johnny Cash.

[Edited with News Of Mom as of this evening] I've waited to post today so we can all know the exciting Magical Mystery Destination for my mom. She was picked up at the door this morning at 0730, and taken on a long long journey. Spoke to her at lunchtime, when she was dining in Oxford, where they visited the Ashmolean. Now she is in Reading. Our guess WAS a seaside destination on the southern coast (like Bournemouth or the Isle of Wight) but they are actually in the Reading area, near Wokingham. The hotel is quite posh, and she reports that her bed is about 7 feet square. Tomorrow there will be a Mystery Expedition. They're 20 miles from Windsor - my guess is Windsor Castle or perhaps a Random Stately Home?

09 November, 2006

Blog you must! Mmmmm....


"Blog daily you must," decrees young Yoda. This is actually a Halloween pic from 2004 - D. found it while working with some older hard drives. Lily was 6 months old for this one - David was Anakin, and a very cute Anakin he made as well. D. didn't send that picture to me, so you'll have to take my word for it.

All's well. I am into the second ball of wool for Snowdrop, which is gratifying. It proves progress, even when I can't really see it.

Mom is packing for a Magical Mystery Tour. Well, it's a Mystery Tour....3 days to somewhere, courtesy of our local travel agents. Cool, no? She'll have a mobile phone along, so she can tell us where they are, when they get there. I'm thinking Blackpool. She thinks York. Stay tuned, Gentle Reader!

08 November, 2006

Snowdrop Progress Pictures

Two posts in a day - mercy! Actually, I forgot to post these pictures in the previous entry and wanted to show them off anyway. You can see I have done a little bit in the past few days, but it's still nearly impossible to see the beauty that will come, even when I try to stretch it out a bit with my fingers. This pattern is really intriguing, and keeps my interest without completely taking my mind away from activities around me. I have even been able to watch a little television while knitting on it. Impressed? I am. Heh.


I'm all about the little-bit-boring stuff today. My mom has been very busy with the computer and CNN.com, checking out election results while rubbing her hands together gleefully. "All as planned, all as planned, mwah hahahahahahahah!" Well, that's sort of what she's doing. And felicitations to you, Mother Dear, voting in your very first election ever. (New citizen this year, doncha know...)

Boring-ish knit content - I continue to make progress with the Snowdrop Shawl, even though I kind of a little bit fell asleep in front of the fire last night, instead of finishing the repeat as I had planned. My rudimentary geometry skills tell me I am 25% done with the main triangle, but it's got a mighty big edging as well, so I have a long way to go.

Just to keep you busy, this quiz was quite fun, and one of the first that has actually pegged my origins correctly. Usually I am diagnosed as Standard Broadcast American English or Midwestern. Which I'm not.


What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

Philadelphia
The Inland North
The Midland
Boston
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

07 November, 2006

Election Day in the U.S. of A.



....Have you? We voted by mail, sending ballots back to our home state of record (New York). I am actually glad we voted absentee, reading a little online about today's electronic voting machine and numerous glitches. Mail-in ballots still are tangible sheets of paper, big ones in the case of New York state.

All's well in our corner of the world. There was leaf-clearing and kindling-gathering this afternoon, and a bit of shopping as well. The kids are doing a Chrismas gift thing for a charity through the primary school. David was back at school today, but Lily helped me buy some of the bits and pieces to fill each shoebox today. One small problem: the shoeboxes are too small. We'll have to find some bigger ones to pack all the goodies in by Friday, when the school is gathering all the boxes. That's a nice problem to have, however.

Have a terrific day, and if you are in the States reading this today, VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE! 'mKay? That'd be.....great.

06 November, 2006

You know what's great?

Here's what's great: cheesecake, a fire, some interesting knitting (I am into about row 100 of the Snowdrop shawl), and an iPod on random. Signe from Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Ripple and Box of Rain from the Grateful Dead's American Beauty album....all kinds of loveliness comes up and makes for a really relaxing evening.

Semi-extended weekend day here at Casa de Coughing. Small D stayed home from school with HIS cough and a little fever. He was much too cheery about no school, though, and as the fever has gone, he will be doped with cough medicine and sent to school tomorrow. Lily had preschool, during which time I did a little long-overdue paperwork. And coughed. A lot. There were naps in the afternoon for small D and me and my mom. Big D worked on reviving a computer. Pretty slow day, all in all.

Ah well, back to my knitting. I have at least an hour before I get too tired to follow the pattern. Cheers!

05 November, 2006

Remember, Remember...


Remember, remember
The 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot!

Yep, today is Guy Fawkes Day here in England. In honor of this failed revolutionary, fireworks have been going off all weekend. We didn't go see any displays with the kids, but we did light some sparklers in the garden tonight and in lieu of a bonfire, we had this:



Isn't that a pretty sight? The first fire of the 2006/2007 season. It was a lovely afternoon here by the fireside. I hope it was equally relaxing wherever you may be.

Time-shifted November 4th...

Sooooo...on our mini-trip, we were unsuccessful in findiing WiFi. Went out to two local pub/clubs but there was NO signal and MUCH Guy Fawkes weekend madness. So here's what I tried to post then...Written on the appropriate day, at least!
******
Gentle Reader, I almost forgot about posting for day 4 of NaBloPoMo -
yoikes! DH and I are on our mini-getaway in town, and our hotel,
whilst fetching and comfy and all that, has no notion of the
internet. So I've enjoyed an entire day and a half without even
thinking about computers or email or blogs - until dinner tonight.
We did bring the laptop because I had intentions of finding local
wireless connection to upload a post. And if we succeed in that, I
shall indeed post this tonight. Either way, more from me tomorrow.
Mebbe even a picture or something! Yours in utter relaxation, Susie

03 November, 2006

Socks, Needle Size, The Universe, and Everything

This morning I used my trusty new (replacement) Susan Bates Knit-Check gauge checker to check the needles I've been using for socks. The trusty blue needles are not size 1. Nope, they're size 0. Who knew? And here I thought they were size 2 at first. Goes to show you that an old cigar box (however kitschy and kicky it may be) is not the most organized place to keep DPNs. Heh. Maybe I'll start keeping the gauge checker in there too.

What this means is - to knit any tighter in lightweight socks, I'll have to move into 1.5 mm or 1 mm needles. What are those called in US sizes? 00? Or maybe I need to knit some socks in thicker wool. I have a rawther loose stitch gauge and my Vanilla Blue socks (56 stitches around on these size 0 needles) are already seeming floppy on my nonskinny ankles, after only a month of occasional wear. Those were knit in a DK weight machine-washable wool blend (Sirdar something). However, I had been gentle washing and then air-drying.

Today's experiment was to machine wash and dry them like normal clothing and see if they spring back a bit. The result was equivocal. They shrank in length a teeny bit, but sprang back almost perfectly to original width/circumference. Sooooo, I will knit the next pair 4 stitches narrower but 10 rows longer in the toe. I've got a lot of that wool and I love the way it feels on my feet. Sadly, I think the Vanilla Blue socks go to my mom's sock drawer now, however. She has shorter but still wide feet!

Boring stuff, I know, but with the Sock-A-Month KAL, I think about socks a bit :) There are a few more patterned socks out there that I'd like to tackle in plain colors. I love the look of the Diamante Socks in the fall '06 Knitty, and they are also an interesting challenge because they are knit from the toes up. But the pattern is 72 stitches around, and I would have to downsize that too. I might even have to .... swatch!! Aiyeeeee. The author did post a 60-stitch version on her blog, and I have got it somewhere on my computer now.

ANYway. This weekend there'll probably be SOME Snowdrop Shawl knitting time. DH and I are heading away for a couple of nights, all of 5 miles away into town. We'll be staying here, within easy reach of my mom if she needs help with the kiddly beans:



Lots of downtime with my darling. It's a Good Thing. Thank you very much, Mother Dear!!!

02 November, 2006

Ghosts Walkin'

Tonight my agenda includes no knitting.

Do not despair, Gentle Reader, because I shall be joining a Ghost Walk around Ely in Cambridgeshire. This is a lovely little city, and I know approximately nothing about it except that Oliver Cromwell lived here. Apparently it's quite haunted as well. Maybe we'll see old Oliver tonight.

This is the November event for the spouses' group I belong to, and afterward there will be Pizza Express. With grownups only. Imagine!! Almost makes up for not being able to knit and walk in the dark at the same time...

01 November, 2006

The Complex Project

This is what I have been communing with in the knitting house, for several hours yesterday and again for a little while today. I'm into the 3rd set of pattern repeats and I think I'm finding my groove now. It is the Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl and I am in lurv.

I am using the Swaledale wool I got from a local charity shop (3 pounds 49 pence for over a pound of very finely spun wool). The wool is a bit "rustic" in look and feel but feels softer to knit and touch than I feared it might. Needles - Clover US size 5 bamboo with flexible ends and a bead for the end. Sort of like knitting with a circular cut in half.

If you squint and imagine this stretched out, you can see the pattern really starting here as I finish row 77. This is going to be a timesucker of epic proportions, I can see - not that there's anything WRONG with that...

31 October, 2006

Socks and Costumes and Candy, Oh My!

First things first - the finished Lily Socks. You can see that they are a bit wonky in the toe grafting. I don't think I pulled the yarn quite tight enough, and also usually I take it down to 8 stitches and graft sideways. This time, I stopped at 12 stitches and grafted front to back and it looks a little awkard to me. Lily likes them, however!
















After photographing the socks and doing the school run, I retired from the scene and spent some hours in the knitting house with my coffee and a complex (to me, at least) pattern. Details on that tomorrow...

Next on the agenda was Halloween. David was Doctor Who and Lily finally decided on Pink Fairy, after adding in Hedgehog and Leaf as options during the morning. She was a toasty warm, if rather bulky, Pink Fairy, with 3 layers of tops and bottoms under the costume. David had long underwear under his Doctor Who kit. They had a great time going around the military housing area we went to (here in our own village of about 250, there are perhaps a dozen kids, so ... it's not the best Halloween turf).

Check out the costumey goodness - Lily's courtesy of Woolworth's and David's courtesy of mommy and grandma B.







David looked extremely Doctor Who-like, and several people really "got" the costume (we did put a name tag on it, in case).







When we got home, Lily was asleep and David kindly let us sort out all the peanut candy for grownup consumption. Now I am drinking hot tea and coughing and ready for bed myself. Got to get some rest before NaBloPoMo begins tomorrow!

30 October, 2006

Bob the Viking says...


...it's NaBloPoMo!! That's right, National Blog Posting Month. Check out Fussy's NaBloPoMo page. What a great idea - a post every day for the entire month of November. I'm in; are you? You have until the end of November 1 to sign up, my friends. Remember, Bob the Viking wants YOU to blog every day.

(Really, Bob the Viking is a random viking dude from the Jorvik centre in York, but I couldn't resist.)



Knitting update - Lily's stripey socks are thisclose to being done. I have to decrease toes tonight, and also graft the other toe. Couldn't do it on the road, because I need a visual guide to graft, and didn't have a knitting book or the laptop along. Good thing they're almost done, because tomorrow is the last day for October Socks!

Trip update - York was keen, as always, although we only had a day there and it was raining AWFULLY hard. Carlisle is unexpectedly interesting as a city. Pretty castle, cool museum (Tullie House) that's entertaining for both kids and adults. Hadrian's Wall country looked just as mom and I have always pictured it, and the fort we visited (Birdoswald) was a nifty excavation. Both kids did well on the trip, thanks to several side excursions to playplaces, etc. And everyone was bloody happy to get home.

Everything else update - no yarny souvenirs from the trip. Sigh. There is a nice knit shop in the Shambles in York, but it's heavy on Rowan yarns, and frankly I wanted some sort of local wool, knowhaddimean? Reading Catch-22 again, for the first time since a looooooong time ago, and it's just as good, but better, this time around.

Halloween costumes are the other craft of the month, and David will be a wickedly good Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who. Mom and I found the bits and pieces for the costume over this month, and have hemmed sleeves, etc. There WILL be pictures. Lily was going to be the Doctor's Companion, Rose, and we have all the kit for that as well. But she's vaccillating between Rose or a Pink Fairy. I am not worried, since the Pink Fairy happens to be a dress-up costume we have already :) I am sure she'll reach a decision by the time we head out the door tomorrow night.

I am catching David the Elder's oddball cold - he had a cold for week, then was fine for week, then came down with extreme layrngitis this past week. Made for some interesting times on our trip. His voice is mostly back now, to his great relief. He's off for 2 more weeks before heading back to work, which is fabulous!!

24 October, 2006

Quickie Post

It's been a LOVELY weekend - David came home Saturday morning bright and early! So....not a lot of knitting, all in all. Which is not a problem, believe me. But I am making progress on the October Socks.

This pair are for Lily, and I cast on 36 stitches to start. WAY too tight. Went up to 40 and I was a bit worried that they would be too tight but they are perfect! The yarn is Fortissima Socka Colori - stash that's about 10 years old, I think. I have a memory of buying it in Frederick, Maryland, BEFORE we were married there in 1996. Size 1 needles again...sensing a trend here.

Started (the color is very washed out here...thank you, Flash):
















Look! One sock 98% done and it even fits!!

15 October, 2006

Four things

What did we do this weekend? We went to the beach. Now, in Norfolk in October, that does not mean swimming or sunbathing. We packed up the buckets and spades, put on our sweaters and jackets, and went off to dig in the sand...there were tons of other people there, walking around the boardwalk or walking on the beach, but not one swimmer. My mom and I had coffees and looked for interesting rocks and the kids made sand castles and other sandy goodness for hours. It was a wonderful day.

I forgot the camera, but we were in Hunstanton - here's the cute town sign.



















Because this was a non-knit sort of weekend, but I still feel like posting, I'm chiming in with the Four Things meme Crazy Aunt Purl posted.

- - -
Four jobs I’ve had:
* Traffic analyst/linguist
* Nanny
* Copy editor for a scientific journal
* (Briefly, one summer) Encyclopedia salesperson


Four movies I can watch over and over:
* Office Space (this is not fiction, this is real cubicle LIFE!)
* A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (stoopid, and wonderful)
* Volunteers (ditto)
* Real Genius (ditto)
I guess you could say I lean toward comedy, eh?

Four places I have lived:
* New York City, New York
* Monterey, California
* Baltimore, Maryland
* Here in lovely rural Norfolk, England

Four television shows I love to watch:
* Doctor Who
* House of Tiny Tearaways, in which Doctor Tanya puts three families with terrifying toddler behavior issues in one house for a week, and cures EVERYONE (She rocks.)
* Little Britain (veddy politically incorrect. VEDDY funny!)
* Spooks

Four places I have been on vacation:
* London, England
* San Francisco, California
* Hong Kong, China
* Cancun, Mexico

Four of my favorite dishes:
* Chicken tikka masala
* Enchiladas
* Sushi
* My mother's lasagna

Four websites I visit daily:
* www.cnn.com
* www.nytimes.com
* www.bbc.co.uk
* www.google.com (Google is a verb in this house)
I'm a bit of a news junkie and I don't watch TV news or listen in the car because I don't like the kids hearing the really rotten bad news.

Four places I would rather be right now:
* Here, but with my darling David home too
* Back at Louisa's Place on the Ku'Damm in Berlin, again with David, reliving our great trip this summer
* Monterey, California, just hanging out there and in surrounding towns
* Home in NY state with David and kiddoes, visiting friends and family

Four bloggers I am tagging:
* You - are there four readers TO tag?? Hehehehehe. If you read this, consider yourself tagged!

10 October, 2006

Fuzzy and blue...

Just like Grover and Cookie Monster of Sesame Street, I'm feeling fuzzy and blue.

Fuzzy because I'm unmotivated. Blue because I am really, really missing David, and it seems these last couple of weeks waiting for him to come home from deployment are the longest year of my life. Just like the last week of my 42-week pregnancy with small David was the longest year of my life.

Time is crawling, the usual diversions don't appeal to me, and I'm just cranky and taking it out of the kids and my mom. Just to add a little spice to it all, the cold bug has hopped from David in the desert here to David and mom...sigh. I hope everyone feels better really soon, and I hope I feel more chipper as well. At least Lily is relatively perky.

Hurry home, my sweetness:

09 October, 2006

No knitting THIS weekend















As I rather suspected, I got no knitting at all accomplished. With ambitious plans, I did put the wristwarmer-in-progress in my bag, but I was mostly sleeping, or having a Lilybean sleep on me, during the bus ride.

Here are a couple of scenic shots to make up for it :) The photo of me and the kidlets is not the most flattering picture, but it proves we were there.

Back to normal today: cleaning out the old coal shed for storage and moving outdoor plants to indoors. Mom pruned some of the big potted plants, I heaved them up, and they now grace the knitting house windowsills. I'll take a picture soon.


06 October, 2006

Knitting Spots; Miscellany

I see Crazy Aunt Purl has posted some awesome knitting spots on her page - I have to peer into some of these! The knitting goes slowly here, mixed in with a trip to London last weekend, plus lots of commuting to doctor's and eye doctor's - small David has joined the near-sighted club. Welcome to the family, son!

Working on a square for Grandmother Purl, and the wrist warmers for my mom out of Baby Cashmere. I think my October socks will be for Lily, out of the supergaudy orange/pink/green yarn I got at Woolworth in Berlin. (I got it to test knitting socks on two circulars...have to say, I get the technique, but I am slower with it than with 4 or 5 needles. I did like the not-slippiness of it, though. That could grow on me!)

What I really want to do is start on Ivy from Knitty. I have the yarn ready, waiting, crying out in fact...but I must do the wrist warmers at least, first. And then there's the pair of socks for my friend Jill that are languishing with only one cuff done so far....

There won't be a lot of knitting this weekend, I think. Took D. to see the Basil Brush live show tonight in Peterborough, which was a surprisingly not-bad drive. Basil Brush is a fox puppet who has a comedy show on the kids' BBC channel. Very fun time had by both of us...

Tomorrow Lily and I are visiting a friend who's hosting a stamping? scrapbooking? get-together. And then Sunday is our expedition to Stonehenge. I will photograph SOME knitting there :) Maybe I'll even get some done on the bus ride. However, I rather suspect I will be entertaining Lily instead...

23 September, 2006

September Socks Finished

FO: One pair of Vanilla Blue socks.
Yarn: Sirdar Legend DK (wool blend) from stash, 2 skeins and it took all but 3 yards of each skein!
Needles: size 1 (US)dpns. I thought they were size 2, until after I'd finished. I'm glad I didn't know because small needles make me nervous.

Socks modelled by my mom because the pictures I took of my feet from above were...not flattering to the socks? They're a tiny big big for her, but perfect for me.