Thursday, December 30, 2004

On Again and Off Again
I'm very very pleased to report that I've gained less than five pounds over the eating season. There wasn't a time when I deprived myself of goodies offered, either.

How do I explain that?

Well, I can't eat as much as I formerly ate in my pre-weightloss days. Even though I ate all kinds of good food this season, I didn't stuff myself to the discomfort level. Also, I saved the calorie splurging for things that were worth eating, skipping the less desirable goodies instead of stuffing my face just to be eating something.

Now that I'm not accustomed to eating many sweets, I could feel those sugar jolts and they weren't pleasant. That tended to moderate the amount of sugar going in. It wasn't worth feeling the aftereffects.

Diet food assortmentNow it's time to get the extra pounds off. I'm looking forward to doing that.

The chocolate has been replaced by fruit. The cookies have been replaced by Lo-fat Wheatables. The eggnog has been replaced by Aquafina. The pastries have been replaced by shredded wheat.

Ready, set, go! Off it comes!

Monday, December 27, 2004

My Favorite Christmas Gifts
Two skeins of Opal Magic, a little dog, and a Sock Journal We agreed to have a frugal Christmas this year. I could tell all the gifts were thoughtfully selected with love. That makes them so special.

These are my knitting related gifts plus a little bobblehead dog from Kimmy. He is just the cutest thing with a hybrid of markings that resemble both of my little dogs.

John and Anne sent Opal yarn from Idaho. Both skeins are from the Magic collection.

I've told my family that I will love any skein of Opal they pick out for me. They just can't go wrong getting me a skein of Opal. I love all of it. Even if it's a duplicate, I'll be happy to knit the same color again. No problem.

Mom ordered the Sock Journal from my Amazon wish list. When it came, she was concerned because it was so thin. Nothing to be concerned about. It has twelve socks patterns, one for each month of the year, technical advice, and plenty of places to keep notes. There are several of the patterns I want to knit.

Two tiles, a dog calendar, a little dog, some white Chocolate The tiles are from Heather and Kimmy. They're about 12 x 15 and intense in color. Now I'm looking for the perfect place to hang them.

Heather traditionally gets me a can of Almond Roca, one of my favorite candy treats.

The Workman Page-A-Day calendars are my favorite because they have graph paper on the back of each page. I use the torn off sheets to make lists, take notes, and sometimes to chart out knitting patterns.

In this case, I'm sure I'll be saving some of the torn off sheets just because the dog pictures are so cool. Thanks Carrie.

The three Lindt white chocolates in the upper left are what was left out of a bag of them I received from Carrie. Now there aren't any left. They were melt-in-my-mouth wonderfull. The kind of thing that isn't going to hang around here very long.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"An income tax form is like a laundry list -- either way you lose your shirt."
-Fred Allen

1) Do you use fabric softener or softener sheets?

My washer and dryer are in the basement. When I put a load in the washer I don't want to go back down the stairs until that load is ready to go into the dryer.

My washer has an automatic fabric softener dispenser for the liquid, but I've never trusted it. If the fabric softener gets into the water during the wash cycle the detergent won't work, the cloths won't get clean, and I may never notice until I'm folding them.

It's much less hassle to use the sheets in the dryer.

I've found that I can rip one sheet into three pieces, use one piece per dryer load, and it works as well as a whole sheet.

2) Do you dry clean clothes on a regular basis?

My husband has a suit that needs to be drycleaned. Fortunately, he never wears it.

I have one dress that needs to be drycleaned. It's the only dress I own. Fortunately, I never wear it.

I don't like to wear clothing next to my skin that's been cleaned in solvent.

3) Do you do laundry as it piles up or do you wait until you are out of clean clothes?
I do laundry every fourth Monday.

I sort it into piles on the floor by color group, and write down the time. Then every 90 minutes I take a load down to the basement, take a dry load out of the dryer, clean out the lint trap, put the last washed load into the dryer, put the new load into the washer, bring the dry load upstairs and fold it.

It takes all day, but it's done in little spurts and really isn't that burdensome. And when it's done, it's done for four weeks.

Yes this does require four weeks worth of underwear. It doesn't cost any more than having less underwear because underwear lasts a long time when it's only worn and washed once a month.

I wash bedding and towels once a week. They're not part of the four week cycle.

I wash the throw rugs by the Flylady zone schedule and more often if something gross happens to them.

4) Do you use a clean towel every day for your shower or use the same one throughout the week?
I have a bath sheet - very large - and use it all week. How dirty can it get when I use it fresh out of the shower?

5) Who does the laundry in your household?
I do.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Little Christmas tree and associated ornaments at Monette's apartmentWhat a Turkey!
Christmas Eve morning the twenty pound turkey was delivered to Mom's apartment, stuffed with three pounds of bread, onions, celery, and eggs.

Mom lives on the third floor. My original plan was to carry the turkey up in the roasting pan in a laundry basket. The roasting pan wouldn't fit in the basket.

Plan B was to wrap the turkey in foil and towels and put it in the laundry basket without the pan. That did work.

Bob came along to do the heavy lifting. That means he carried the basket with the turkey in it.

Once the turkey was in the oven, I stopped to shoot this picture of Mom's cute little live Christmas tree. The painting in the background is one of her oils titled "Circus Music".

Late in the afternoon when the family gathered for turkey dinner, it was Bob's job to get the turkey out of the oven and then onto a platter. We all left him alone in the kitchen and he successfully accomplished his mission. We didn't ask him how he did it. We just expressed admiration for a job well done and let him wander off while Mom made gravy, Heather set the table, and I carved.

The turkey was excellent. Heather took turkey home, Mom kept a big container full of turkey, and Bob and I brought home the carcass. It has enough meat left on it to feed us until we're tired of turkey.

Kimmy plaing with tiles while waiting for Christmas Eve dinnerAnticipation
Granddaughter Kimmy played with Great-Grandma's tiles while waiting for dinner to be ready.

Her maturity was evident in her patience. She's nine years old now and so grown up in so many ways.

I was impressed by the gifts she picked out for family members. She matched the gift to the recipient and was so concerned that everyone liked what she gave them.

Kimmy received many CDs and DVDs. They were on her Christmas list and she was excited to get them. She did receive some toys with small pieces and immediately saw the wisdom in her mother's suggestion to leave them in the box until she got home.

She opened one gift to play with and was very careful to keep track of the pieces instead of tossing them all over the floor as in previous years. This restraint was welcome but sad in that it's just one more sign she's growing up.

It's bone chilling cold outside and snowing very lightly. Bob and I are sitting in our warm, peaceful, quiet little house with our happy Christmas memories and enough left over food to feed an army.

Every few hours we dress up as warm as possible and take the dogs out for a short walk/run. They don't want to be out very long in this weather, but they do need some exercise and so do we.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Food Rant 1 - The Turkey is Too Big
Daughter Heather received a twenty pound turkey at work and promptly gave it to her mother to fix for Christmas Eve dinner. It rolled around in my trunk for over a week. In Michigan freezers aren't required in December.

Monday I brought the turkey into the house and started the thawing process in the refrigerator. It doesn't appear to be thawing very fast. I think it's going to have to come out and have a few cold water baths in the sink tomorrow, and probably more on Thursday.

I don't think I've ever fixed a turkey this big. Fourteen pounds has been the largest bird I've wanted to wrestle with. So how did I get talked into this?

Food Rant 2 - We're Not Having Rib Roast for Christmas
When I read about standing rib roasts for $6.49 a pound in the Sunday Meijer's ad, my mouth started watering. A good standing rib roast is my favorite meal.

What a disappointment when I got to Meijer's on Monday.

In the meat counter along with the very ugly, fatty sale roasts were beautifully marbled standing rib roasts at almost $13 a pound. After looking at the expensive ones, the sale roasts weren't even an option.

I'm not usually cheap, especially at Christmas time, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay forty dollars for a small roast.

Food Rant 3 - Out of Control Eating
There has been so much good food lately, I'm afraid to step on the scale. I've been enjoying it all way too much.

Fortunately I feel bloated and sugar saturated, so I'm looking forward to getting back to eating healthy again.

Mom feels the same way. So what are we going to do tomorrow? Go to Mr. Cody's Chinese Buffet.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yuletide Traditions
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings." -George W. Bush

1) What is a Christmas tradition that your family did when you were a child that you loved the most?
Grandpa and Grandma would come to Michigan from Chicago. They usually brought plenty of "stuff" with them, but now many years later I just remember the excitement of seeing them arrive.

2) What is a Christmas tradition that you plan to instill in your own family or already have instilled from when you were a child?
I'm having a hard time thinking of a tradition that has been in the family that long.

What has endured through the years is the feeling of love we have in our family.

3) What is a new Christmas tradition that you have instilled in your family that is new to both you and your significant other?
My mother has Christmas Eve dinner and present opening at her house. This leaves Christmas day open for the younger generations to stay home or visit relatives on the SO side of the family.

When my inlaws were alive, we would see them on Christmas Day. Now we stay home and enjoy a relaxed day with our gifts from the previous evening. The gifts usually include new books and yummy things to eat.

4) Do you make any traditional holiday dishes?
Dare I mention the Green Dream again? Green Dream is made from lime jello, marshmallows, cream cheese, milk, Miracle Whip, Cool Whip, and crushed pineapple.

I've been making Green Dream for over thirty years and the family expects to see it, even the family members that don't like it.

5) Does your family open Christmas gifts Christmas morning, when the clock strikes twelve, or one gift the night before and the rest the next morning?
We open gifts on Christmas Eve at Mother/Grandma/Great-Grandma Monette's house.

When the kids were home, Santa would come in the night and there would be more gifts in the morning. It's been a while since Santa visited.

We're having turkey for Christmas Eve dinner.
What's for Christmas dinner at your house?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pappy's Doggy School Party
Pappy checks out the cookiesPappy had a great time at his doggy school Christmas Party.

Here he is in his Christmas tie checking out the people treats. One of the doggy moms brought a plate of chicken pieces for the dogs - real chicken that she cooked up special for the occasion. Needless to say, the dogs loved that.

I shortened the tie by several inches so it would fit little Pappy. Other dog owners wanted a doggy tie, but Gail was out of ties and doesn't know where to get more.

We played the same three games as were played at Sunny's Party on Monday night. Pappy did as I predicted.

He did make it through a few rounds of limbo just because he's short and could walk under the pole. He wouldn't crawl.

For the game where he was supposed to knock down ten cans in twenty seconds, I had him dance in a circle. He managed to knock over two cans, which was two more cans than Sunny managed.

Benson in his I Believe in Santa Paws bibAnd then there was the hotdog retrieve. Yum yum. I disqualified him by taking the hotdog away from him after he'd eaten a few bites. When we got back to the sidelines, I gave him another small piece of his hotdog and fed the rest to Benson.

This is Benson the Newfoundland. He weighs about 130 pounds and was happy to help Pappy out with the hotdog.

Benson usually wears a bib because Newfies drool. This bib says, "I believe in Santa Paws." Benson has other bibs that say "Mama's Boy" and "Drool is Cool".

Benson's owner, Sue, formerly worked at Pfizer and is now happily creating a second career making embroidered dog bibs. I suggested she might want to add dog neckties to her line. She may do it.

Sparky the Sheltie helps open his giftIt was fun to watch the dogs during the doggy gift exchange. Their humans had to help them open the packages, but the dogs all seemed to know the contents were for them.

This is Sparky the sheltie being very interested in his gift.

Millie, a German shepherd/chow mix, had Pappy's name. She gave him a stuffed cat and a bag of treats.

Now we have two weeks without doggy school. The dogs are going to miss it. I'm going to enjoy the break. All three of us will be glad to get back in January.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sunny's Doggy School Party
Sunny playing with I Cube
Sunny received this IQube as her Christmas gift from Rex, a golden retriever. There are four squeaky balls in the cube. Both little dogs are having fun taking them out and tossing them around.

The gift exchange was the final event at the doggy school Christmas party Monday evening.

Prior to exchanging gifts, the dogs played three games and Sunny won two of them.

The first game was limbo. The dogs had to go under a bar without knocking it down. The bar kept getting lower and lower until finally the last three dogs, including Sunny, jumped over it instead of trying to crawl under it.

Sunny is very good at crawling. Her prize was a Christmas neck scarf. She was not impressed with it and hopes to never see it again.

The second game was a bunch of empty pop cans standing on the floor in bowling pin formation. We each had 20 seconds to get our dog to knock down as many cans as possible.

Most of us used the same strategy - lead the dog into the can formation with treats. Sunny was ever so careful as she danced through the cans. Thanks to two years of agility training, she didn't knock down a single can.

The winner was Ella, an energetic great Dane/lab mix. Ella got every can down with time to spare.

For the third game we had to throw a hot dog across the room and have the dog fetch it without eating it. The dog who brought their owner the biggest piece of hotdog was the winner.

This was the funniest game of all. Most of the dogs romped out to the hotdog and took a second or two out from being obedient to gulp down the hotdog before returning to their owner.

Sunny brought me the whole hotdog and she was the winner. The other dog owners couldn't believe she didn't eat it. The other dogs couldn't believe she didn't eat it. Now her classmates are wondering if she really is a dog. Or what?

Her prize was a Christmas neck tie. She thinks it looks way too masculine and she gave it to Pappy.

Pappy playing with I Cube BallHere is Pappy playing with a IQube ball. His doggy school Christmas party is tonight. He's going to wear the Christmas tie and take a gift for Dahlie, a bull terrier.

Pappy doesn't like to crawl. He doesn't like to knock over empty pop cans. He is going to eat the hotdog. I don't think he's going to win any prizes, and he may barf. A whole hotdog is a lot for a 14 pound dog.

He does like to be with his doggy school friends and he is going to get a present from whichever dog drew his name. And, did I mention that the dog owners all bring people goodies to snack on while we watch the fun?

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Saturday Morning Lounging
Kimmy making a potholderWhen granddaughter Kimmy comes to spend the night, she likes to get up in the morning and mess around in the back room. Last Saturday she decided to make a potholder for her mother.

After the potholder was done, she got out the paper and markers and wrote a poem to honor the canine members of the family.

The pictures are not proportional to the size of the dogs.

Glory is a 70 pound lab mix.

Sunny is an 18 pound second generation designer dog (joke), part papillon, poodle, terrier, and many other things that we can only guess.

Pappy is a 14 pound papillon. He is the only dog of the three who appears to be a specific breed.

All three dogs are rescue dogs and most of their history is missing. All three are intelligent, loving, and very fond of Kimmy.

The "new" in Kimmy's poem refers to how long we've had the dog. We've had Pappy for two years now, but Kimmy still thinks of him as the new dog. She also thinks of him as royal in his appearance and behavior because he is very beautiful and dignified.

Glory, Sunny, and Pappy. A poem by Kimmy
Glory, black lab mix
Glory is pretty.
She's very nice, too.
She loves every one,
And definitely you!!!!!!!

Sunny, papillon mix
Sunny is cuddly.
She's not very new.
She is just perfect,
The way she loves me and you!!!!!!!

Pappy, papillon
Pappy is royal.
He's new, too.
But I still love him,
And he loves you!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Where does the violet tint end and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blending enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity."
-Herman Melville

1) What is your favorite color?
My very favorite color is the deep blue/purple color of the wild violets in the spring.

This color does not translate well into clothing, car paint, or walls. It needs to be wild violets blooming in the dappled shade in the spring. So rare and beautiful.

2) What colors are your cars?
Tan, the color of the dirt and mud of the dirt road we live on. Not very sporty, but very very practical.

Living on a dirt road, I can't even get the car home from the carwash without some fresh dirt on it. There are many advantages of living on a dirt road. A clean car isn't one of them.

3) What color are your eyes?
Blue with green highlights.

4) What color do you like to wear most often?
Bluejeans with almost any color casual knit top except white or yellow. The majority of my tops are blue, turquoise, purple, green, pink, or red.

5) Name your favorite possession of each color of the rainbow: (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple)

For red it's my Opal Crocodile socks handknit from the yarn I got for Christmas last year. (Thanks again John and Anne.)

My brain is hurting from trying to think of an orange possession. Guess I'm going to have to get up and walk around the house to find something.

OK. I'm back. I found orange on the handles of my favorite sissors.

For yellow it's The Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara C. Walker.

The four Barbara Walker treasuries are my most loved knitting books. The second yellow volume is my favorite of the four.

For green it's the wonderful, warm, cozy flannel comforter on the bed.

It's a cold, snowy, windy night here in Michigan and I'm looking forward to snuggling down under it when I go to bed tonight.

For blue it's my Squall parka from Land's End. It's perfect for Michigan winters - waterproof, wind proof, and warm.

For indigo it's my jeans. They are my uniform now that I'm not employed. They're warm, don't show the dirt, don't collect dog hair, and have great pockets.

I love it that I can wear a size 10 again after losing 40 pounds. I need to remind myself of that a hundred times a day during the Christmas eating season. It will be a depressing January if I can't get my jeans buttoned up.

For purple it's my blogs, Seasons of Violet and Stitches of Violet.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Hey Lady! Can't You Read?
Last week I went grocery shopping at Meijer, a big Wal*Mart type of store. It's the kind of store I can only tolerate for short periods of time. After an hour in there I lose all ability to make decisions and my brain starts screaming, I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!

Last Thursday I had a large list of non-typical items to hunt down and I exceeded the hour.

Fighting the inclination to ditch the cart and run toward the door, I steered toward the checkout lanes and spotted a cashier I knew to be quick and competent. Her line was short. The cart in front of me only had a few items in it. What luck!

After unloading $130 worth of groceries onto the belt and getting most of them bagged and into the cart, the competent friendly cashier leaned over and whispered, "Did you know you are in the express lane?"

I looked up. And, what to my wondering eyes did appear? A sign saying


Me with a look of embarrassment on my face.For my whole life, I've been the obedient shopper who accurately counted the items in her cart and wouldn't think of going into the express lane with one extra. Now I was standing in the express lane with an overflowing cart containing dozens of items. Yikes!

I admitted I had no clue. I apologized to the cashier without explanation. There was no good explanation.

Competent friendly cashier tried to make me feel OK by telling me that sometimes when the store is busy the lane manager sends regular orders to the express lane.

I didn't feel better. I didn't look at the people in line behind me. I know what they were thinking, and I deserved it.

I just pushed the cart out the door and went home, very embarrassed.

It's almost three days later now. And I'm almost able to laugh about it. Actually, it was a great way to get checked out quickly.

Wonder if I could get away with it again?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Doggy School Chatter
One of the many things I like about going to doggy school is being in the company of like minded people.

We talk about things that aren't acceptable conversation in mixed (dog people/not dog people) society.

In Advanced Fun and Games, the name of our doggy school class, common topics include:

  • Dogs who sulk, get jealous, or get into trouble because they're bored.

  • Counter surfing.

  • Dog hair in food and drink.

  • Sleeping with dogs in the bed. (I can't get the dog to move off the pillow so there's room for me in the bed.)

  • Birthday parties for dogs.

Then there are the digestive tract topics:

  • Barfing dogs.

  • Pooper scoopers and poop bags.

  • Dogs bringing home prize horse turds.

  • Dogs eating rodents in two bites and the details of how sick they get from doing it.

  • That wonderful first day in spring when the snow melts and dog owners go out with gloves and a garbage bag and spend an hour picking up dog poop.

Front of Monthly Doos calendarLast Christmas my dogs, Sunny and Pappy, bought their trainer Gail Monthly Doos, the dog poop calendar for "When you care enough to give a crap." published by Watch Your Step Productions.

Gail loved the calendar and showed it to everyone that came along. We gave her a nice gift to go with the calendar, but I think she liked the calendar the best.

It hung on the wall at doggy school all year, and this Christmas we're giving her the 2005 version.

This calendar has gorgeous pictures, each one incorporating a fact of our doggy owner life, dog poop. It's full of horrible (meaning funny) puns about - well you get the idea.

Any dog lover will get a big laugh out of this calendar. Out of consideration for not dog people, there might be a problem finding a place to hang it.

As much as I'm into dog poop (with three dogs I have no choice about this) I don't want this calendar hanging in my house. But doggy school is the perfect spot. Let the beginner classes look at it and wonder about how their life is changing in so many ways.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Precious Metals and Gemstones
Questions from Sunday Brunch.

"Riches cover a multitude of woes." -Menander

1) Which stone is your birthstone? Do you like it?
January is garnet.

Yes, I do like garnet, a deep red stone which is very common and not expensive to buy.

2) Do you prefer silver or gold?

I find gold to be more beautiful than silver. Silver has an annoying tendency to tarnish.

3) Name the jewelry that you wear whenever you leave the house.
My wedding ring, a plain gold band.

My watch, a Swiss made Movado retirement watch from Pfizer.

Pearls that need stringing4) What is your most precious and valuable item of jewelry?
The cultured pearls that my grandfather brought back from Japan in the early 60s. They need restringing. I tried to do it myself but the effort fell short due to lack of skill with the knotting.

5) Do you carry insurance on any of your jewelry and if not, why not?
During the years I was making stone jewelry and selling at art and craft shows, my raw material inventory and my finished goods inventory were both insured.

Now I don't have any jewelry worth insuring, and that's OK with me.

Friday, December 03, 2004

And the Sticks Came Tumbling Down
Branches down in the front yardThis week we had more snow, more wet and heavy snow.

It was heavy enough so many surrounding areas lost their power when the branches came down. Our house had some power flickers, but we never completely lost it.

This is the back yard looking out toward the back field where the dogs and I walk multiple times a day. Now it's an agility course for the dogs as they get to jump over the branches on the ground to get where they're going.

The branches are frozen into the ice and snow, so we haven't tried to pick them up yet.

Sticks all over the front yardThis is the front yard. No big branches but too many sticks to count.

I'm no longer feeling sorry I didn't get all the leaves raked up before the snow started. It's all going to need to be raked again.

Pappy sleeping on his backRomping in the snow gets the little dogs very tired very quickly.

This is Pappy in one of his favorite sleeping spots, right up next to Mom while I'm working on my laptop.

He was a member of our family for a whole year before he felt safe enough to roll over on his back. Now sometimes he sleeps in this amusing, relaxed position. It always makes me smile and be thankful that we were able to rescue him and bring him to a loving home.

Sunny sleeping on her backSunny was also a rescue dog, but she came to live with us when she left her mother at eight weeks. She has never know abuse or been afraid to sleep on her back.

In this picture she's taking a nap in the bed with Bob.

Bob is that big lump under the flannel comforter right behind Sunny. In the actual picture before cropping, you could see him snoring. Wasn't I nice to crop that out?