Sunday, December 30, 2007

Revealing gifts

I made cookies. The gingerbread ones came out very cute though my icing was quite runny so the bows on the dogs are kind of vorpal. It's a good recipe (Joy of Cooking gingerbread men) . It was to go to the office Friday for cookie Friday but I forgot to take the box. And the Santas? The dough's still in the fridge. The second batch. The first batch was made with too much butter so I colored that with two colors and made spiral cookies. The Santas require a fair bit of work which I'm not up to today (throwing off another cold.)

I want to at least show you a few pics of the bowls I had been making for gifts. These are moebius bowls from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury and the pinochle portfolio for Sam and Clark. As you can see there are different shapes and twists. Part of it was the decreasings. The first one, done in Noro with a Cascade handle, was my first attempt. I didn't catch the extra twist in the cast on so ended up with a tri twist handle. The Noro didn't shrink as much as the Cascade so it has more of a pot belly than I expected.

The second bowl was my intentional tri twist. It's done entirely in Noro but I was disappointed in how it came out. For some reason it ended up being really pointed on the bottom and I couldn't felt it down enough to make it stand up well. The decreasing wasn't to my liking so decided that on the following bowls I'd try a different decreasing method.
The third bowl was one done in Manos but in the decreasing process, I did the first decrease too radically and ended up with a flat bowl. The bottom is green though. It'll be good for holding change and keys. Another lesson learned: pay attention to the knitting.

I did succeed in making a bowl out of Araucania Nature Wool with a single twist and basic hat decreasing for the bottom. I didn't get a picture of it though, which was my bad (it went to Don and Bo). I then did a basket in Manos and the hat decreasing and was very pleased with how it came out.

This is the pinochle folder I made for Sam and Clark. It's made of Cascade 220 in cream and chocolate brown like a fudge sundae. The left pocket has a red insert like a cherry and the right side is large enough for a 6" x 9" pad. This was to replace the sticky, icky cards they had been playing with since -- ohhh I don't know when. ;)

A trip to New Seasons market for various sundries including raisins for the Santas yielded also a fresh batch of catnip. I had a box left from a shipment I got earlier in the week and the cats were enjoying getting in it to roll around and bat a toy inside. So I seeded it with the fresh catnip, laid out a couple other lolling sites, and watched the fun.

Monday, December 24, 2007


All sorts of treats have been showing up at my doorstep. Gingerbread and spritz, jam filled nibblies and fudge have shown their sweet faces to brighten my Christmas. It makes me want to dig up the box filled with cookie cutters and bake.
Mom had a fair number of cookie cutters on hand for the holidays. Besides the Santa mold cutter, we had gingerbread men, stars, moons, reindeer, animals, and all sorts of shapes. My sister Shirley has the Santa mold but I have a whole bunch of the others. In addition to the cutters from Mom's kitchen, I also have the cutters from my Aunt Mildren's kitchen. She had all sorts of animals (especially bunnies, for she collected rabbits) and shapes. She also had many candy molds for mints and chocolates. They fill a box the size of a large boot box so it's fun to dig them out and see how many kinds there are to choose from.

As you can see, they cover the card table. Most are at least 40 to 50 years old. Some are tin, some aluminum, a few plastic. A few are hand made. There were a few sets of shapes in graduating sizes and sets of seasonal types.

I know what the ax is for (Washington's Birthday) but what is the fish for? Lent?

Every baby shower should have baby feet to nibble.

Take a bite out of your favorite party.
My aunt collected rabbit figurines and such so it figured she'd have a large collection of rabbit cutters.

I want to know who gave her this one.

Plenty of gingerbread men and women to make and decorate.

You don't see many with this kind of detail. He's got to be at least 50 years old.

I have a few picked out for making gingerbread and sugar cookies. And of course I'll be test driving the Santa mold. Just for you Ted.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One reason for sending Christmas cards

You receive a picture like this:

These are my grandnephews Hayden, Patrick, and Preston, sending Christmas greetings to all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Counting down

The end of the year is approaching and the talk in the halls is of what folks have and don't have done for Christmas. Strong ties to tradition surround the holiday. Family have certain expectations in mind when this time of year comes around. At the same time we're being told to not do so much. To slow down. To not stress over the year. It's a challenge to not be stressed when you're trying to figure out what to buy for folks for gifts and carry off an entertainment extravaganza when they all come over for the feast. All of this has to be fitted into schedules already packed with the usual brouhaha: work, school, friends, sports. We wonder how we'll get it all done, then by the end of the year when we can sit back and take a deep breath we realize we got it all done and survived another holiday without killing the dog for making off with the Christmas roast.

I've neglected some of the traditional things that are done during the holiday season. Christmas cards is one of the things that has fallen down in the ranks of things to be done. I'll pass out cards to those in the office but the cards to be mailed don't get out as early as they used to. Five years of singing Christmas concerts has pushed its way into the weekend I used to do it on. Another is Christmas baking. I would send out cookies and breads to family. What with health issues to consider, including my own, I've opted to take that out of the duties of the season. I don't put up lights anymore for just Christmas. I have some lights that have been strung up since the summer that give the front porch a welcome glow. And room considerations and time have put a stop to putting up a Christmas tree and decorations in the house.

But setting aside these things is not a sign of my getting Scroogish at this time of year. I do feel a pinge of guilt when I see how much folks have done, but it goes away when I think 'Why should I?' The cards will go out with my newsletter by New Year's. Gifts will be sent and while they will be a little late will still be appreciated. One less tree will be wasted. Good wishes will be given along with prayers for peace.

Traditions have a good place. They hold ourselves together with a common memory. What we do with those traditions is what makes us unique. The holiday will hold special meaning for everyone in different ways. Some people love the bustle and excitement. I love the peace and quiet. It's all good.

For all of you who are stopping by: may the last weeks of the year be joyous and calm for you and your families. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The only place where there ain't no snow

And we're not classified as a warm clime. Storms have been crossing the country and dumping snow and ice in the Midwest and East like nobody's business. Here in the Pacific NW we got our wind/rainstorms resulting in floods but no snow. Occasionally the weathermen whisper there being a chance of snow, which appears as a flurry or two then nothing. I know many would like it to stay that way but I wouldn't mind a few snow days off from the office if nothing else but to take it easy on my hands, which are getting cranky again.

The weekend has been busy so far with getting gifts ready for distribution for the office and family. The cats have been curious what with all the goodies strewn across the card tables set up for the process. They can't be any good. There's no catnip.

The holiday concerts went very well this year. The weekend concerts in Salem and Corvallis were well received and the annual concert at the Portland PFLAG chapter's December meeting was a lot of fun. My good neighbors and friends Ruth and Laurie attended the Portland concert and got to chat up with my fellow choristers. Now we're on break until January. Tonight I'll watch the Portland Gay Men's Chorus' performance (with a few Confluencers in the chorus and in the audience) with the knowledge that I'll be able to spend my Sunday lazing about the house.

My brother Grant and SIL Yvonne sent a wonderful treat. Years ago our mom would make cookies and candies for Christmas. Amidst the spritz and nut brittle would be these fancy Santa sugar cookies that we kids would help decorate. They had raisin eyes, coconut frosting beards and hat brims, and red food coloring cheeks. The mold Mom used ended up falling apart from so much use and substitutes were attempted but the substitutes were never quite as good as the original. Well, Grant found on line the original makers of the molds and sent me a set of them. It was such a treat to see them. I'll have to see if I can find the recipe Mom used for the cookies to see if I can recreate them. Yvonne also sent two loaves of her nummy breads, banana walnut and pumpkin date pecan. Mmm!

I hope you're doing well with your holiday projects and that the commercial brouhaha isn't getting you down. So far I've been able to ward it off with judicious use of the mute button. The lights people have been putting up have been beautiful to view. And there's always the joy of singing to put smiles on folks' faces.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just another blustery day in River City

We had a little storm come through, one of those fed by subtropical moisture that comes north and whips us about. It was a strong one that generated hurricane force winds at the coast and threatened to be nasty further inland. It turned out that once it hit the coast mountains the winds cut down quite a bit so we didn't get as much damage in the valley as was expected. But the coast is flooded with trees down and roads closed. One tree in particular, an ancient Sitka spruce that was a landmark for travelers going to the beach, was finally felled. I've been trying to get a hold of my relatives on the coast but the phone lines are still down. I'm hoping they didn't sustain much damage or get flooded out.
Confluence's concert is next weekend in Salem (Saturday) and Corvallis (Sunday). We ran through our music last night and it sounds good. There are a few rough spots but if the chorus is like any other it will pull itself together at the last minute. We're hoping that the weather is cooperative. As for the West Linn Community Chorus, the commute there and other things convinced me that it wouldn't be a good fit, so my Thursday eveningswill still be open.
The knitting needles are going great guns. Item number four is just about ready for felting and number five is getting churned out. I have been taking pictures of the FO's to post after the holidays because some of my readers will be recipients. Of course I could post pictures of all of them and make them guess which one they're going to get, but that wouldn't be nice, right?