Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

If you live in the Northeast I hope you get a chance to play in the snow. It looks like good snowman snow. I'm trying to think of an effective way to bundle myself up so that I can take Thomas out today if at all possible. We have lots to do first, but before anything else... it's time for a little cranberry bread and some OJ to warm up our morning.

We might make more fudge later too. The chocolate butterscotch cranberry raisin fudge turned out pretty delish, but I've been itching to make traditional chocolate fudge too, and I know I can find plenty of people who will be happy to eat it right up.

I'm not going to go through last years resolutions this New Years because 2007 was far more eventful than originally expected, and I am feeling pretty good about what we all accomplished together. In 2008 my focus will be on our growing family and not only finding the best way to help provide for them/us, but to enjoy Gabe's first year, Tom's next, and my 11th-going on 12th year together with Brian.

Here's hoping for a healthy, joyful, and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve at Our House

I didn't take a photo of the boys before church this year, but I did manage to grab a few other Christmas Eve snapshots for the blog.

The nativity ornament was a gift from Thomas' teachers and one of many special additions to our tree this year, the pajamas were new Thomas' Christmas Eve present from us, and we ran out of carrots for the reindeer. We hope they liked the apple instead!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Adventures in Cookie Making

What started out as a simple desire to make some yummy spritz Christmas cookies the other night turned out to be a, well, interesting experience.

My spritzer broke after I had made TWO cookies. (The recipe's yield was about 120.)

I fought with the thing for a long time, trying to fit the itty bitty teeny tiny spring back in its place. After dropping and re-washing it three times I finally managed to fling it half way across the room and then heard it ricochet off the cabinet, never to be found again.

I was able figure out a rather uncomfortable way to use the spritzer successfully anyway, though because I used it nowhere near as it was designed, it was quite awkward.

It took forever, but it worked well enough for me to finish. Eventually.

Thanks to some fierce determination to have the gifts ready for Friday morning, not to mention some uplifting if not motivating Christmas music on the radio, I plugged through until I had used up all the dough.

The cookies turned out well enough I think, though I don't believe I will ever make the same recipe again. I chose a basic but highly rated butter cookie recipe, thinking that it sounded good. Then I tasted one and remembered that I don't like butter cookies. Thankfully I was making them for gifts anyway, but next year I'm going to ask my mom for her lemon spritz cookie recipe. She used to make them every Christmas, and I miss them. They were good.

Tomorrow or Monday I will make some more breads and some of my coworker's special fudge with cranberries. I still feel like something is missing, but I think it's because I don't really NEED to bake any more. Since we aren't traveling for Christmas this year my list of baked gifts has shortened significantly. Somehow I still feel like I must have more to do in the kitchen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December Snow

On our way to Thomas' school today I marveled at the snow. We drove past rolling farms and their endless fields of untouched white, a picturesque old red barn in stark contrast with the blanket of soft flakes on its roof, and forests wrapped in so much fluff they looked as if they were almost swept up into the morning sky.

The view down Main Street was a festive display of snow-covered steeples, evergreen wreaths atop lampposts now decorated with icing on each bough, and gently falling snowflakes all around. It was like opening up the page to a storybook from my childhood.

Rays of light started to spear through the clouds as I made my way back home. The farther I traveled, the more there were. They brought a breathtaking sense of fresh winter beauty to the sparkling branches I passed.

One of these days I will capture the true essence of what I saw today and share it with you here. Then again, I don't think any photograph could ever live up to the images I keep in my mind.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Thomas made the above advent wreath at school using rice, glue, and birthday candles. (It was made inside a plastic container. We took it out and put it on a dish before lighting it.)

We hadn't lit one at home in previous years, but I hope to make it a tradition from now on. Lighting the third candle tonight was not only a good reminder of the reason for the season but a great opportunity to teach Thomas about it as well. It may sound basic or just traditional, but it was very special to me, especially with the simple yet meaningful prayer we said with the lighting of each candle.

Of course there were also several days was also another day to open on this year's advent calendar,

there was wrapping,

and who could ever forget the baking?

I only made three small loaves of bread today, and the brownies were for us, but never fear. I have MANY further plans for this week and will share more soon.

I also went Christmas shopping yesterday with the family, though I am still quite behind on that front. We traded in Brian's car on Friday for a minivan (a pre-owned 2007 Chrysler Town & Country) and went out to Babies"R"Us to pick up a crib and changer before heading to Target for the gifts. We were SO grateful to have the stow & go seating. It was great! Of course we will be broke once again for a very long time, but Brian's car wasn't likely to last much longer, and we tried to make the most practical choice, all things considered. I hope it was the right one!

While this has nothing to do with advent, Thomas went to a sibling class at the hospital on Friday too, complete with a tour of the maternity floor so he will have an idea of where I will be in month or so. There was some button pushing on the beds, doll diapering, swaddling, and coloring...

Of course the weekend wouldn't have been complete without a little silliness, playing with the doctor gloves and hair cover thingy that the instructor gave him to take home just for fun.

Yeah, some day he will probably be very unhappy with me for posting those photos, but he was having so much fun that I couldn't resist pulling out the camera. We tried to take some more serious (yet happy) photos by the tree for the holiday cards but couldn't get one where he didn't look totally goofy. I ended up choosing a September photo for the cards (which I pick up tomorrow and will mail on Tuesday, so I apologize in advance if my card doesn't reach your door before Christmas), but at least they are finally on order.

And yes, I must mention football. I have neglected both the Patriots and Red Sox significantly here this year though not on purpose. In fact I have a whole slew of photos from our afternoon at Fenway in August that I just haven't yet shared. In any case, there was football today; namely there was yet another win for the Patriots. (I'm torn between celebrating and not saying a word because I don't want to jinx their record. -Yes, I admit to an occasional superstitious thought even though I know far better.)

Ultimately it was a very productive weekend though there is still so much to be done. I now expect a crazy week at work followed by a very busy Saturday at work and then a few days of rest and celebration at home... for which I am very excited. At some point we'll figure out how to get everything moved and set up for the baby, and I'm praying I manage to finish my online courses before too long, as I had planned to be much farther along on those by now. In the meantime we'll be baking some more, singing lots of Christmas songs, and enjoying a few small parties & more... Here's hoping you have a wonderful week before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why I'm Uncomfortable Tonight

7:57... 8:15... 8:18... 8:42... 9:21... 9:39... 9:46... 9:53...

Yep, those were the latest (Braxton Hicks) contractions... Clearly they were not regular, and actually some were quite far apart. On the other hand though, there were several times in between when I thought one might be starting, but then I decided it wasn't strong enough to count. This (three or four uneven/irregular - but some quite strong - contractions per hour) has been a pattern since about 3:00 or so this afternoon. Up until today they were much more sporadic (the above would happen a couple of nights a week over the course of a couple of hours and that was pretty much it), so I admit I got nervous this afternoon when 3 or 4 came exactly 10 minutes apart, and some were VERY uncomfortable. You veteran moms probably think I'm silly for thinking so much about it, but it can be quite distracting, especially at work! Of course I won't worry unless they start coming at regular intervals, but... Oy! The next 6-7 weeks could feel like forever if this keeps up! There will be lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fluids for me in the meantime!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just Around the Corner

I held up one of Tommy's old sleepers the other day, and it all came rushing back. All the teeny tiny fingers and all the teeny tiny toes and all those wonderful little expressions. I'm torn between not being able to stand the wait and panicking at how much still needs to be done!

I held up another little sleeper last night and said something to Brian about how real it feels when I look at the same newborn clothes that Thomas wore, and he looked at my belly and asked if it wasn't real enough to ME already. Ha. Truly, though, it just reminded me how very small Thomas was as a baby and about how much I loved him then, not to mention how somehow that love is still growing all the time. There is something about bringing a new baby into our family that just seems to make my love multiply for Thomas, Brian, and for little Gabe, all at once. Call it hormones if you want, but whatever triggers it, I won't attribute it all to hormones. I think it's a lot more than that. I think I really am bursting at the (belly) seams with love and affection for my family. Yeah, I'm pretty much on cloud nine, regardless of all the little stuff I stress about here and there, and I'm really looking forward to meeting our newest member of the family.

Six-ish more weeks!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holiday Scarf Pattern

I've been asked for the details on the scarf I started last Christmas, and I thought I might as well post the pattern here. I asked Thomas what I should call it, and he suggested "Mr. Dotted Line Scribbly Line Scarf" which I have to say was a mighty good suggestion. However in the interest of keeping it short, I'm sticking with "Holiday Scarf" for now. I'm still open for ideas.

The pattern is very basic, and I'm sure there are many similar patterns already out there, but this was my own design, so please respect my copyright and do not use this for profit. Otherwise, enjoy!

I've re-posted some photos above to show some of the detail. You can find more photos here. I thoroughly enjoyed making this scarf although I used a cable needle so it took me quite some time to complete. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment. If you prefer to cable without a cable needle I might suggest checking out Grumperina's tutorial here.

This is my first attempt at writing up a pattern, however simple, so please reply with a comment if you happen to catch any errors... I apologize for not having the specifics on the amount of yarn or number of rows. I didn't write out the pattern as I was creating the scarf and completed it almost a full year ago, but I'll do my best to get it right... so here goes!

Materials: Caron Simply Soft (100% Acrylic, Worsted Weight) - approximately 1.5 skeins
Grey Heather
Needles: US 8 straights, cable needle

Finished Size (without blocking): Approximately 70" (178 cm) & 5 3/4" (15 cm) wide
Note: You may prefer this scarf blocked, but I liked the way the cables and stockinette columns striped without blocking. Estimated size if blocked: 8 1/2 to 9 inches wide

Abbreviations: CO: cast on; st(s): stitch(es); k: knit; p: purl; RS: right side; WS: wrong side.


CO 52 sts.

Row 1 (RS): *k2, p2, slip 2 stitches to cable needle and hold in front, k2, k2 from cable needle, p2, repeat from * 4 times (5 cables have been made); k2.

Row 2 (WS): [p2, k2, p4, k2] to last 2 stitches. p2.

Row 3 (RS): [k2, p2, k4, p2] to last 2 stitches. k2.

Row 4 (WS): same as row 2

Repeat these four rows until scarf has reached desired length, bind off all stitches in pattern, and you are done! That's it!

I suggest pairing it with a nice warm fitted pea coat on a cold winter day. Without blocking it is quite thick and very warm!

If you do choose to make one please share. I would love to see your finished results and to know your thoughts on the pattern!

Oh, and one more note: If you prefer, go ahead and switch rows one and three. Then you are not starting on a cable row. I like to think it would look nice either way.