Sunday, December 24, 2006

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas

Ah, Christmas Eve! Hardly a white Christmas Eve in my neck of the woods...unless you're imaginative about the incredibly thick fog out there...but that's okay. A soggy greenish Christmas has its benefits too. The annual trek down to my parents house is easier when the roads are clear, and it makes the whole day a little less worrisome if nobody's in danger of getting stuck by the side of the road.

For the first time in years, I'm not spending Christmas Eve panicking, finishing up last-minute things in a big spastic hurry. All of my knitted projects are done & wrapped, save for one pair of socks (I'm down to the toe decreases on the last sock, so no big deal there) & the Ben & Jerry's cozy for my dad. The cozy itself is actually done, but I still have to wrap it. Those are, fortunately, the last two items to be wrapped, and I'm just thrilled about that. Even my husband had commented on how I tend to stress out a lot during the last week before Christmas, because I tend to get overconfident about what I can accomplish in a certain amount of time. Not this year!! It's really been quite wonderful...I've spent a good deal of time with the boys, watching silly Christmas movies, and with my husband (he beat me at a game of Scrabble the other day...he's terribly smug about it, too), and the stress level has been quite low this year. I have to say, I'm quite proud of myself. No, I didn't finish the Christmas stockings, but that's okay, I've got stockings that we can use, and I'm not going to fuss about the knitted ones. I'll finish them in January, I'm sure.

Speaking of finished knitted objects, I finished the alpaca sweater for my Mom, and it blocked up beautifully.

The discoloured splotches aren't really discoloured--that's where it was drying faster than the rest of it. It's not a great picture, but the sweater looks fabulous, and I gotta say, I'm really proud! The braided cable opened up very nicely, and the sleeves blocked to the perfect length. I really really hope Mom likes it...and if she doesn't, I hope she gives it back! I also knitted a couple Noro tea cozys for her, as well as a pair of Fuzzy Feets & a pair of lovely brown socks. Boy the Younger also gets a pair of socks, since he's such a sock nut. I did take a picture of his sockies, but Blogger won't post them, so I'll just tell you that they're made from Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sock, in the Black Purl colourway. They're more fraternal than identical, as one has more blue to it, and the other has more pale purple, but that's okay. Five year olds rarely care about such details. The boy just loves purple, though, so I think he'll like these.

In other news, I received another lovely package from my Sockret Pal! She sent some wonderful goodies, like some wonderful smelling tea, a yarn ornament for my tree, a green Chibi (oh Chibi, how I love thee!), some of my favorite hand cream (how did you know??), a sock pattern from one of my favorite vendors, and an adorable baby sockie coin purse (that my boys promptly swiped for their own nefarious purposes...I think they're carrying a marble collection in it or something). Thanks so much, Sockret Pal!! And speaking of my lovely Sockret Pal, she also sent me a cool little questionnaire the other day...y'all know how I like these silly things...

1) What's the oddest gift you've ever received?

Hmmm...well, I'm pleased to say that my family is pretty darn good at gift giving, so not too many weird ones so far. When I first moved out of the house & was just getting on my feet, my mom gave me a pretty odd was a huge bag full of just about every cleaning supply known to man. She had mops & brooms & rubber gloves & silver polish & floor wax & dish soap & a million other really was a pretty darn cool, and very useful, gift, but it was just a little weird to open. I plan on doing that for my own kids someday, when they get their first place too. :-)

2) What's the oddest gift you've ever asked for?

Well, odd is in the eye of the beholder! My mother thinks I'm completely warped for wanting sock yarn for Christmas this year. Heh. It seems like a perfectly reasonable request to ME, though. When I was younger, my family was really fairly poor, so I always wrote out my Christmas list with that in mind. I'd include things from all price ranges, just so my folks would have a nice range to choose from, and wouldn't feel bad if they couldn't get everything on my list. As a result, every year I asked for a Boeing 747, and every year I was dissapointed. I never got a little genie of my own, either. Heh. (There's a certain irony here in that I *did* get a pony, even though I'd never actually asked for one for Christmas. She wasn't a Christmas present, but I was the only little kid I knew who ever got a pony.)

3)What's the oddest gift you've ever given to someone else?

Heehee...dh gets some pretty weird ones. He's incredibly home-oriented, one of those guys that would much rather hang out at home with his family than go out with the guys all night. He really liked the silly bathroom accessories I'd gotten once, the kind with little fishies floating in the base of the cup or soap dish, and was all happy when he'd found a shower curtain to match, so last year, I got him a bathmat for Christmas. It's shaped like an ironed-out duck. It's cute & dopey, all at the same time, and while I worried that it'd be a lameass present, he really did love the silly thing. Of course, it's not the only present he got, but it was indeed a weird one.

4)What's the worst gift you've ever received?

Oh heavens, that's a tough one! I really haven't ever received any bad presents that I can think of. Pretty much anything received from a teenage boyfriend could probably go on that list, but I can't remember what anything was. Like I said, my family's really good with gifts...dh is known for picking things that are really sweet (he's incredibly sentimental & thoughtful), my mom has really fabulous taste in all sorts of stuff, and my dad is getting a reputation for sniffing out the coolest, weirdest books & things ever. I'm really quite lucky that way.

Good questions, Sockret Pal! It's fun thinking back on Christmases over the years. This is the 8th Christmas I'll have spent with my beloved, and boy, we've had some good times. My parents love my husband, and really enjoy spoiling him at the holidays, and that's a lot of fun to watch. Y'all probably know that my sweetie is a drummer, and also a teacher. The first Christmas we'd spent together, my mom & I conspired to purchase a really nice snare for him (Yamaha Maple Custom, matching the rest of his kit, for those who care), and omg, the look on his face when he opened that up!!! He was literally speechless! Well, not completely speechless...he kept saying "Oh shit" a lot. Heh. He LOVES that snare, and was so happy to have it.

This year should be just as sweetie is finally going back to school to get his Bachelor's degree (WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!), and he'll be starting class in a little less than two weeks. He'll be taking piano & voice lessons (the BA is in Music Education), as well as percussion, and the aging keyboard we have is kind of not so great...keys broken (thanks a lot, cat), sort of small, not very up-to-date. Don't tell my sweetie, but my awesome Mom got the mother of all keyboards for him this year! It's a full size keyboard (I think that means all 88 keys or however many octaves or's over my head, either way), with all the weird MIDI bells & whistles & whatever else he wanted. It is, however, freaking huge, so we're going to have to drive both cars down to the farm in order to bring it home. Dh still doesn't quite understand why we need to drive both cars, and it's entertaining watching him contemplate the reasons. I'm really looking forward to seeing his face tomorrow!! This keyboard should be a huge help with his schoolwork, too. He practices as much as possible already in between teaching (there's a piano in the lesson room where he teaches), but now he can practice at home, too! Yay!

Okay, now I'm just getting way too excited about tomorrow. I can sure tell that I'm getting older, though...I've hardly given a thought to what I might receive, and all my excitement is centered around seeing other people open certain things (mom's sweater, dh's keyboard, Boy the Younger's sockies...). Life is Good. :-)

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

O Christmas Meme

Shamelessly stolen from Old Lady Pen Pal (a really cool lady from my beloved knittyboards).

Christmas Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Can't I have both? I love egg nog, but real egg nog, not that bottled stuff from the store. Mother's gonna make a huge bowl of real egg nog on Christmas, with likker to be added in individually, since the boys certainly can't have any, and my sweetie is a big baby about liquor (HATES it. SO not the Irishman one would expect.). I also love hot chocolate, and it's even better with a hefty shot of Bailey's Irish Cream in it. Yum!
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa doesn't wrap, generally speaking. Therefore, in our house, Santa provides all the weirdly-shaped shit, and MomMom & Da provide things that are relatively easy to wrap. The boys haven't caught on yet...
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Coloured lights, to be sure. Someday I'd love an all-white tree, but while the kids are little, the more colour, the better. It's part of the magic of childhood.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No, primarily because I can never find/afford the real stuff, and the fake stuff just looks so plasticky and fake. I'm not a big fan of fake, if I can help it. Besides, I get tons of smooches every day, regardless of the season.
5. When do you put your decorations up?
The day after Thanksgiving!! I absolutely love the Christmas season, and can't wait for it to start. I also don't get tv (no Christmas commercials, no Christmas specials, no Christmas movies/tv shows/parades/whatever), and don't work in retail (no Christmas songs on the Muzak 24 hours a day), so the Christmas season isn't shoved down my throat like it is for other people. If I want to really get into the season, I have to manufacture it myself, and it doesn't wear me down as fast as other folks. If I start right after Thanksgiving, then by the time Dec. 27th or so rolls around, I'm happy to take down the tree & put Christmas away till next year. If I waited till closer to the 25th to start, I wind up feeling ripped off & sad when Christmas is over, like I didn't get enough. This way suits me just fine.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Excluding dessert??? Gosh, that narrows it down...I'm all about the desserts! Well, I make a Boursin cheese that really rocks (we do a cheese & cracker board for most of the day at my mom's house, and then a dinner in the evening). Mom usually gets this incredible smoked Mozzarella that's really good, too. I sometimes make a ham with a maple rum glaze that I really love, and mother's onion dill rolls are awesome. Um, but we're mostly about the desserts...pies, fudge (several different kinds, all made by me), cookies, etc. Yum.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Snuggling up on the couch after the presents were all opened, & going through the contents of the stocking. I'd pull a blanket over my lap, and carefully lay out each item one by one. There was always a box of chocolate covered cherries (made by Brachs, before the bastards quit making them. Grrr.), and you had to be careful that they wouldn't get all melty in your hand, since the fireplace was usually going. I miss having a fireplace!!
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was about six, and my evil older sister told me. She even dragged me halfway down the stairs to spy on my parents setting stuff under the tree. It really crushed me...
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yep! Even before I had kids, I kept that tradition. It's nice for the kids, as it helps to lessen the spastic excitement about the next day, and it's also a nice incentive to help shove 'em into bed afterwards. Heh.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
It's really eclectic. It's just lights & ornaments, no garland or tinsel (tinsel's dangerous for the cat). Each ornament has a story, though, and I adore every one of them. I only hung one or two ornaments myself...the boys & their Da hung all the rest. As a result, it's not very evenly spaced, but whatever, they were proud as heck to do it. Someday, when the kids are older & out of the house, and we have a real house of our own, I hope to have one main big tree, and then lots of smaller trees throughout the house, with goofy themes. My sweetie will get a tree in his studio with all his drum ornaments, and all the music related ones, and probably all the freaky Star Wars ones too (yes, we have a crapload of Star Wars ornaments on our tree. Not really what I'd think of when I think Christmas, but then, I'm not a guy, so whatever). I'd like a tree just for all my Disney ornaments, and a little teeny tree in my knitting corner with lovely yarn garland, and tiny knitted mitties & socks, and little bitty sheeps. Yeah. That would be nice.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it, now that I live in town. Back when I lived on the farm & had to do chores in all that stuff, I HATED it. It's hard work to slog through three feet of snow & chase horses! Now, I really like to look at it out the window, though I still don't like to be in it very much.
12. Can you ice skate?
Heck no! That requires waaaay too much skill & coordination.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My most favoritest recent gift was last beloved husband, who takes great pride in his shmoopie-ness, picked out the most perfect chair for my knitting corner, and a lovely bright lamp to go with it. I LOVE the's the perfect colour, and the style is so very me. More than that, though, I love the thought behind it. See, I already had a chair (a crappy little one that did the job, but wasn't terribly comfy or attractive), but he knew how much I enjoy things like knitting, so he wanted me to have a tiny little sanctuary to do my thing in. It was just about the sweetest, most thoughtful thing ever. He's pretty darn good at stuff like that. He also helped the boys make a nice pile of lovely bookmarks for me last year, too. The boys coloured all kinds of pictures on both sides of strips of construction paper, and dh laminated them. I use those bookmarks ALL the time, and I really treasure them.
14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
The magic of it. That general feeling of old, old magic, a special, intangible sparkle that's almost timeless, and makes you warm in the darkest days of winter. More importantly, passing that magic on to my children, with their big wide eyes and open, believing hearts. Also, it's the one time of year that it's okay to spend money on things for my loved ones (we're REALLY poor, so extra money is rarely spent on gifty things). It's so much fun to do that for my husband!
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Um, yes. All of them. Ahem. Really, I love my own Christmas cookie recipe a lot. It's not too sweet, and flavored with nutmeg, and makes the best cutouts. I made some this weekend, and they're almost all gone already. I also make several really good varieties of fudge (my peanut butter fudge is like's a wonder I'm not 400 pounds by now), and though I don't make it often, my caramel recipe is to die for.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Wow, I don't know...I like them all! I love getting up Christmas morning & watching the boys as the come into the living room. Their eyes get so huge! I love bundling up the family & taking a long, leisurely drive through town late at night & looking at all the Christmas lights. I love decorating the tree, and hanging the wreaths, and listening to Christmas carols while I clean the house (don't so much love the cleaning the house part, though). I love hauling the kids & the presents for my parents down to the farm on Christmas Day, and snuggling with my hubby in front of the fire there, and seeing my mom's face when she opens whatever weird stuff I've made for her that year. (This year it's the alpaca sweater, and ooooh, I hope she likes it!!) Yeah, I pretty much like all of our traditions.
17. What tops your tree?
A lovely porcelain angel in a burgundy dress, with golden wings & dark brown hair. The only thing I would change if I could is to give her darker skin, so she'd look more like us, but whatever. It's not a big deal, and she really is awfully pretty.
18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I like both equally. I adore giving things to those I love, especially things I made by hand & worked really hard on. It's like a physical representation of my love for them. Sappy, but true. I'm also not so stupid that I don't like receiving, especially from my parents. Mom has fabulous taste, and often picks out things that she knows we'd otherwise never have because we can't afford such luxuries. I've gotten so many cool kitchen things from her! Dad has the most wonderful, if completely bizarre, taste in books, and always gets the COOLEST books ever for me. Most of the time, it's titles I've never even heard of, but really suit me. My husband, like I said, has a major gift for choosing the sweetest, most thoughtful things possible.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Carol of the Bells, if it's done by a really good a cappella choir. Gabriel's Song, by Sting, also. I tend to prefer classical tunes, rather than pop tunes, and pretty much anything made/written since the 50s annoys me after one hearing.
20. Candy Canes… Yuck or Yum?
Yum! Especially the multicoloured cherry flavoured ones! Mmmmm...