Christmas Day Whirlwind

Here it is New Year’s Eve and I still haven’t posted my Christmas pictures.  I suppose that now that I have re-arranged the playroom/craft area and am totally worn down from all the work plus the nasty cold I am trying to ignore (and I’ve gotten some gentle nagging reminders) means it’s time to sit back and go through all the pictures – at least the ones from my camera – if Paul has any good ones, I’ll have to steal them later.

Christmas Eve the girls made cookies for Santa.


Then they logged into NORAD and checked on Santa’s progress before heading to bed.  An hour later, they were fast asleep.  I don’t know how, or why, but something tells me we’ll never get that lucky again.  (and incidentally, how come they never go to sleep that easily when we’re trying to “get lucky”?  Seriously!)

I was able to get the house all prepped for Santa’s arrival and start the brioche so that Paul could make the pigs in a blanket in the morning.  I got the table dolled up, and as if on cue, our neighbor Jack stopped by and brought us a beautiful arrangement:


Perfect for our table!  And with the girls sleeping so well, we were able to get into bed by midnight for once!

It was a busy day, but at least we got enough sleep -unbelievably we didn’t get prodded to wake up until almost 7:30.  Santa even set a brand new alarm clock next to Emily’s bed and programmed it to play We Wish You A Merry Christmas at 6:00 but she woke up, marveled that Santa had left her a cool clock, shut it off, and WENT. BACK. TO. BED!!!  I don’t know what kind of weird un-kid-like planet Emily comes from, but it got me some extra zzzzz’s, so I guess I can’t complain.  I barely got any pictures of them opening their gifts on account of how quickly they tore into them and how low the lighting was (for once Paul and I didn’t have the “what do you mean you are going to have every light plus the photo lamps set up and on before they can open their gifts?” fight).  But we caught a few happy moments, even with Oona, so wasn’t too sure what to make of the whole thing.



Once the wrap was gathered up and the girls were busily tearing every single toy out of its packaging and demanding batteries and instructions, Paul got to work making the pigs.


It’s a tradition for us – I make up a batch of brioche dough on Christmas Eve from  Baking With Julia and the next morning Paul rolls it out and wraps it around some Lil’ Smokies and voila!  Yummy pigs!


Neve likes to supervise so she can eat as soon as they’re ready.

Uncle Daddy arrived first and helped Neve open her new Bratz doll (yes, she got Bratz.  No, I don’t like them, but I also know better than to make a federal case out of it and turn them into forbidden fruit).


Neve LOVES hangin’ with her Uncle Daddy.  And he’s a good sport for letting her boss him around, which she pretty much did until my parents and sister got here.


Maddie proudly showed off her new togs – all from Hot Topic, and mostly Twilight related.


Grandma and Grandpa got Oona a Dancing Brobee!  (Check out her wicked bed head – she looked like some crazy anime character)


My Christmas Baby.


I was totally excited my brother came, but it took Oona awhile to warm up to her uncle KB (and everyone else for that matter).

Dad helped me out in the kitchen, thank goodness.  He is a total chef himself, and my uncle Eric is also a real foodie.  Both of them spend a lot of time watching Food Network and studying food prep techniques.  They’re both pretty incredible cooks, and as intimidating as you know that is, add to that my Uncle “Daddy” who went to the Julia Child school a few years back.  Try cooking while those three are in your kitchen!  I was nervous also because I was trying a new recipe from Williams Sonoma for stuffing to go with the pork crown roast I made.  It all turned out very well, though I did have to weather some jokes about how ill – equipped my kitchen generally is.  (I am totally taking steps to fix that, and mom and dad got me some awesome Wusthoff knives to help me on my way).   Anyway, just before we sat down to eat my SIL set out christmas crackers filled with whistles and crowns for everyone, each with a different tune, and then attempted to conduct some holiday songs.




FYI: don’t expect those whistles all to work right or play the correct note.  It was a hilarious lesson in making the most out of the moment when things aren’t working right.


And then there was food!  Glorious food!  Actually I am getting pretty hungry right now just thinking about it.  Crown roast of pork (with gravy made by the Gravy Master himself, my dad), apple –  pecan stuffing,  potatoes mashed with parsnips, and creamed spinach, also made by my dad.  droooooooooooool……

The day was a success, the kids were happy, the families were well – fed and then there was this:


My brother.  In my kitchen.  Doing dishes.


Happy Holidays To You!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been by.  Christmas always does that to me.  Frazzles me a bit.  So much to accomplish in so little time!  Is it just me or does it go faster and faster every year? Anyway, here is a short run down before the gift wrap begins to fly:

The kids are brimming with excitement -it’s Christmas Eve and they know who is coming tonight.   They’ll be making cookies for him before they go to bed, and hopefully they’ll actually sleep!


I made the tree skirt with some felt – finished it just in time to put under the tree.

The only thing really that has been missing around here is the snow – we don’t usually get any before Christmas, and this year seems to be no exception.  It’s too bad.  I really miss having a nice, white Christmas.  What we do have is plenty of cookies, plenty of festive music, lots of family coming to visit (my brother came!) , and one very important holiday tradition.  Christmas Eve means watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We do it every year.  I can’t remember exactly when this tradition began, but it was my parents and it has stuck for lo these many years!  I’m looking forward to it this year – I have a boatload of things to do today (Oona goes to the doctor, a last minute gift or two to buy, apple pie and pecan pie – my friend Marcia’s recipe – to make…..and the list goes on) so when I am done I will build a fire (in other words, flip the gas switch to “on”) put my feet up and sample some cookies (hamantaschen, rugelach, macaroons, gingerbread…..where to start???) and egg nog and laugh at Clark and the rest of the Griswolds.


Filling for Hamantaschen…yum!

As for the crafting, it’s been quite a pinch this year.  I completed just enough to be “ok”, but not nearly the list I had planned.  But there is a hat for one person (Unoriginal Hat pattern by the Yarn Harlot in “Storey Time” from Blue Moon Fiber Arts).


There’s a tweedy scarf for someone else (sorry no picture!).  There’s a pair of beautiful socks langushing on the needles that will have to wait until after the new year to be gifted.  And there are these little beauties:


Fabric coaster sets I whipped up.  I love the way they turned out.  Some nice fabric, some squishy batting in between and all sewn up they make some nice sturdy little coasters that can be thrown in the wash!  I’ll be making more of these, I can tell already.

After tomorrow the pace of life will relax for a bit and hopefully I will have time to finish up some other projects and have something to show you.  For now, have a joyous holiday!


The Day That Wasn’t

Christmas is just over the horizon and I’ve been busily preparing.  Most of the shopping is taken care of and the gifts to be made are at least set out and organized.  There’s still some hope that those will actually get done.  The baking schedule is more or less set up, the menu for the holiday is set and the kids all have their chrismtas finery hanging in their closets.  With all of that going on I knew what I wanted to ask for this year: time.  It’s the best (and unfortunately most expensive aorund here!) gift I oculd get right now, and it’s just what I need.  Time to work on gifts, time to get to projects that have been languishing far too long.  I have projects that have been lined up and waiting for over a year now (did your blood pressure just go up, too, or is that just me?) for me to get to.  Not becuase I lost interest, or because I am committing knitter’s adultery (cheating on your current project with a faster, more exciting one). Nope.  They’ve simply been sitting there waiting because we can’t go around naked and we need to eat and clean dishes to eat off of.  They’ve been sitting there because the dog doesn’t take herself out (except for Paul – for me she just runs away), the litter box doesn’t clean itself (nor do the toilets) and the kids can’t drive themselves to the bus stop.  They also don’t pick up after themselves.  And things compound like crazy.  Today the simple act of making lunch for Oona turned into much more.  While I stirred the boiling pasta she opened a cabinet and pulled out all of the placemats and cookie sheets and redistributed those all over the kitchen.  Then she removed 6 magnets and their accompanying pictures from the fridge and found new homes for them in the living room.  SHe pulled the dish towels onto the floor and moved the dog’s food and water bowls into the middle of the room.  She found a napkin and tore it into 30,000 pieces all over the room I had just vacuumed.  And she moved all the dining room chairs out.  Then, while eating said lunch, she populated the wood floors with countless macaroni offerings and spit out a mouthful of juice.  Just her way of showing the love.  This is how lunch turns into an exercise in stamina.  Can you keep up with whirwind Oona?

As I was saying it is all of these reasons and more that I decided time was what I wanted, and so it was granted.  Saturday the kids had an event for brownies that promised to keep them out for at least 3 hours, and Paul agreed to take Oona as well.  It sounded perfect.  I made a mental list of all that I hoped to accomplish in that short time span.  I had planned a nice pork roast for dinner so I could have something yummy to feed everyone with very little effort.  It was overcast and chilly outside so we had the fireplace going, and as the appointed time approached for my family to leave me alone go to their event it started to snow.  It was so lovely and light and very welcome, since we have not had snow before Christmas in I don’t know how long. The weather reports were confusing, though.  It showed us getting a decent mix of snow and ice throughout the evening, and we becamse concerned about this since Paul would be out on country roads with the kids surrounded by other drivers who historically can NOT drive in snow.  The executive decision, as the snow came down more and more, was that they’d stay home instead.  I could still have my time to be productive; it just wouldn’t be in total solitude.   Plus the older girls wanted to go outside and play.  The tree was glowing beautifully, the fire was roasty warm, there was some good tv on…….there was too much niceness for me to worry.  I should’ve known.

First the kids began to fight.  Normal stuff for them, but loud enough to irk me just a bit.  And then they exploded their outdoor gear all over the entryway, making a walk – through to the stairs impossible.  Asking them to clean it up went over very well.  It simply got spread out all over the place in smaller piles of aggravation.

Then Oona began to scream.  She wanted to climb on me.  She wanted to phone.  She wanted…….we didn’t really know.  But she would not stop.  We had to give up on hearing the movie we were watching.  I decided I’d put the roast in the oven and then start on my knitting.  The roast had other ideas.  Despite the fact that it had been thawing inthe fridge for a couple of days it was still frozen.  Solid.  I found this puzzling – afterall it was not a very large roast – and frustrating.   Here it was 5 pm on a Saturday night, rapidly getting dark outside and snowing, and the only clear plan I had for dinner was not feasible.  I may have uttered a few choice words at this point.  And then the satellite went out.  No tv.  Zip.   Zero.   This actually happens frequently enough around here that it less surprising and more homicide inducing annoying.  At this point I decided it was best if I went outside to the car and retrieved the boxes of soda before they froze.  Maybe somehow the tv would right itself in my absence.  Maybe the snow would make me feel better.  Neither.  Instead as I returned to the kitchen and tried to open the soda box on the counter it ripped and a full can dropped onto my toe.  And the rest of the box followed, though I managed to move my foot in time.

I think, that these are those moments that people mention when talking of some poor deranged relative  laying vegetative in bed for years and they say “that was probably the moment her brain snapped”.

Folks, my brain snapped.  So the upshot is that pretty much nothing got accomplished Saturday, although I did enjoy a delicious taco salad from the local Mexican place along with some jelly –  filled churros.  And we got Get Smart with Steve Carrell and loved it.  All’s well that ends well, right?

As for my much – needed time?  You’ll have to ask Oona.

Christmas Crafting Has Begun

The tree is complete.  The stockings are hanging.  The outdoor lights have been strung up (and they look pretty beast this year if I do say so myself.  And also to borrow a hip new term from the teens).  The cookie list is in process – I have yet to narrow down the exact types I’ll be preparing this year, but I’m close.  The gift knitting is in full swing.  I’ll share a little of that as I can…..but we don’t want to ruin any surprises!  Currently I am cutting red felt snowflakes to applique onto the white tree skirt I have made.  Now if we could just get a good snow to really kick the season off!  Ah, wishful thinking around these parts.  But the snowman mugs are out, the fireplace is on and the girls have their new Christmas pj’s.  Which means I have our 2008 holiday picture!


Post – Holiday Let – Down Disorder

You know what I’m saying.  That let – down that occurs after the holidays when reality sets back in and life has to go back to normal.  It’s worst after Christmas, being that there’s an entire “season” that springs into being and seems to take over everything.  Life seems so festive for awhile and then “bam”!  Before you know it, your living room is a sea of shredded wrapping paper, your family’s gone home and all youhave to look forward to is cleaning up a ridiculous amount of ornamentation.

Today I am not talking about that type of post – holiday malaise however; today I am talking about the lesser “Thanksgiving is over and now you only have 28 shopping days until Christmas” malaise.  Turkey Day seems to have far less build up to it, though it is no less anticipated to a lot of people.  BUt like the frenzied early morning unwrapping, it too fizzles out in no time.  Case in point: we spent weeks planning the meal, an entire day preparing and stressing over it, and in mere minutes it was demolished.  It was excellent, it was worth it, but it is gone!  And sadly, like the limited leftovers from such a delicious meal, the relatives have vanished as well.

This year it was my family that came and enjoyed the big meal with us.  I haven’t had much opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family since I got married, so this was a special time for me.  I hope it becomes a habit.  But like I was saying, it came and went too quickly and now I am left hoping that the next holiday will be just as happy.


We had two turkeys.  My uncle is all about the deep fried turkey, and I m glad he is.  If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.


Dad came over early to prepare the other turkey for roasting.  It’s a great thing when you open your home to your family and they come cook for you.  Of course you wonder what it says about your cooking.


The girls trotted out just about every game set we have to keep busy.  Dominoes have always been their favorite, but they learned a new one this holiday: “spoons”.  Now they’ve been begging every night toplay this very fun card game.


“Bucket – O – Baby”.


Oona warmed up to everyone eventually, though she stayed aloof enough to keep everyone wanting more.


I cut Neve’s hair the night before.


My grandmother was the master chef at the hotel, so it’s hard to keep her out of the kitchen! (not that you’d want, to, either!)


Hot oil!


It was a fairly nice day – in the 50’s and sunny.  This meant I was able to get some good pictures of family outside watching the turkey fry.


Teen angst at its best.


There’s always that moment after the holiday when you are unloading your camera onto your computer and you discover that your 5 year old got her hands on the camera at some point.


A much better picture of Neve.


My uncle and grandmother very graciously gave into Neve’s demands to sit at the kids’ table.


Just prior to total meal demolition.

And now it is time for me to tackle the tree.  I spent all Sunday putting the stupid thing together (it had been wrongly taken apart last year and had to be completely re-wired this year as a result.  I had voted for buying a new tree, but was smacked down by the veto holder).  My hands were scratched up and bleeding by the end, but it got done anyway.  Of course this morning an entire section of lights had burnt out again……….next year I am getting a real tree, darn it!

Hope all of your holidays were as pleasant as mine, and hopefully there will be knitting content soon!