Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another Christmas Miracle

I know I talk a lot about pre-Christmas miracles, meeting miracles, and wedding weekend miracles on this blog, but seriously, this is amazing.

I've been making a few infinity scarves for friends-- basically you sew a wide tube of fabric (knit, not woven), and kabam! you have an infinity scarf. You don't have to hem it or serge it or any of that business. Just sew it into a tube, loop it twice around your neck, and you're done. It looks like you just walked out of the Gap or American Apparel.

Recently I was at St. Vincent de Paul (my favorite thrift store) and I spotted a piece of blue stripey knit fabric that would be perfect for making these scarves. After scooping it up for the bargain price of $1.00, I took it home and dumped it in the Project Pile, where it sat for a couple of weeks until last night, when I realized that if any of my friends were going to receive infinity scarves for Christmas, I would need to actually make the scarves and put them in the mail. So I got out the fabric, and I was just about to get out my sewing machine when I noticed that the fabric was already sewn into a tube! No lie. The fabric I was going to sew into a tube was already freaking sewn into a tube. Please someone comment, "Totally tubular." Anyway, I grabbed my rotary cutter and sliced that long tube into four shorter tubes, making four scarves. They're in the mail now! If you get one... I'm sorry your present only cost 25 cents. I still love you.

The site of the miracle

Showing off one of the new scarves... with an angel on my shoulder.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pre-Christmas Family Field Trip

Last Thursday, my mom, Karl, and I drove down to Oak Park, Illinois to visit my brother, Elsworth, and his girlfriend, Lia. They have a super cute apartment. Here's their Christmas tree:

The ornaments are all beautiful and handmade, including ten guinea pigs, like this one.

Elsworth had a cookie exchange at work while we were there. One person brought rosettes and of course they were completely mashed by the time Elsworth got them home. Note to cookie bakers: Rosettes don't travel well.

Here's our mom, posing with some squash.

Lia and Libby like to play Wheel of Fortune on the ipad.

We got to tour Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Oak Park, and we took the train downtown to a Christmas market. Karl and I got to go to Macy's and see the big Christmas tree on the 7th floor, and we were lucky enough to visit my wonderful friend Mara and her sweet baby Simon. I couldn't get enough cuddles from Simon!

We also managed to stop at Ikea twice during the 49-hour adventure. Nothing says "Christmas" like Ikea.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pre-Christmas Miracle

I've been thinking for a while about re-vamping my weekday morning routine. After realizing that about 30 of the 45 minutes I need to get ready in the morning are spent boiling an egg (in my amazing egg cooker), packing my lunch, and making oatmeal on the stove, I thought I'd try to scale that back and maximize on sleep. Packing my lunch ahead of time is easy (the hard part is remembering to grab it from the fridge!). And when we recently got a new Crock-Pot, a mini Crock-Pot came with it (for cheese dip and that sort of thing). I just put my oats and water in at night, plug it in, and in the morning my oatmeal is done! And of course I can make the eggs ahead of time, but I needed a little push... which I found at a thrift shop for 26 cents over the weekend. It's a vintage refrigerator egg box (not the one pictured above; mine is actually olive colored and a teensy bit cooler than the one in the picture). On Sunday, I boiled five eggs and put them in the new box. They're ready and waiting for me every morning!

Can you believe I found that egg box just when I needed it? Now I can get up at 7:30, which is a full half-hour later than before. I'm in love. Maybe I'll start sleeping in my clothes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Overheard on the Bus

I got on the bus after work yesterday and sat down toward the back. I wasn't really paying attention. The bus wasn't crowded, and there was someone sitting a few rows behind me, at the very back of the bus. A couple of stops later, someone else got on and sat down by the person in the back. This was the conversation I overheard:

Person 1: This is the last day I'll be seeing you on the bus. I got a new job, and I'm moving to New York.

Person 2: Whereabouts?

Person 1: Manhattan. It's for a company I used to work for. They made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It's going to be amazing. I fly out on Thurdsay.

Person 2: Do you know where you're going to live?

Person 1: I got a great place, just five blocks from my new office.

(long pause)

Person 1: What are you thinking?

Person 2: I'm just thinking that I've always wanted to kiss you, and now I'll never have the chance.

Person 1: Oh, no, you need someone much taller, with better legs.

(short pause, while I assume Person 1 rolls up at least one pant leg)

Person 1: See? My legs are all pasty and skinny.

Person 2: No, your legs are perfect.

Honestly, it was all I could do not to turn around and watch the scene unfold. Among other things, I love the free entertainment available on most public buses. Unfortunately, I had to get off the bus right after the perfect legs comment, so I have no idea what happened. Best of luck to Person 1 at your new job in Manhattan!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tree is Up!

We got our Christmas tree! Every year, we go to the tree and wreath sale at the UW-Madison Stock Pavilion. You drive right inside, pick out your tree, write a check to the forestry club, and you're on your way. So fun. I'm completely in love with our tree and the lovely light-up tinsel star at the top. Soon we'll have the ornaments on it, and our own little indoor woodland will be complete.

But let's get serious. I'm trying to decide on a tree skirt. You may remember our original mini-skirt from 2009. Since that time, we've gotten a new tree stand, so we needed a larger skirt. I made a blue and brown one last year, and that was the one I originally put on our tree this year:

But last night I was at a thrift store, and I snagged this hand-crocheted beauty in 100% acrylic for just 60 cents. That's right, 60 cents.

So now the dilemma is choosing which tree skirt to use. I like Bluey, but Acrylicy is so sweet and quaint. I know I don't need two tree skirts, but I'm afraid that if I re-donate Acrylicy, it won't get purchased and loved by anyone else. Can I really live with that kind of guilt? Christmas is so difficult. Please feel free to comment with your opinion, or just stay tuned and I'll let you know what we end up doing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Christmas Present!

Guess what? I got my first Christmas present of the year! My sweet friend Laura left it on our doorknob yesterday, and it was waiting when I got home from work. All wrapped up in woodland Christmas paper and everything! She's so thoughtful. And the card was signed "XOXOXO, Gossip Girl." My friends are the best.

Last week, my mom gave us an Avent calendar that is also perfectly woodland critter-themed. Plus it has glitter on it. What more could you ask for, really? It's precious. I can't wait to start opening the doors to see what's inside! Here's our little Hedgie, showing off the gift from Laura and the Advent calendar from my mom:

Advent Calendar Mayhem

I'm sure you've been wondering what I put inside our Advent calendar. Well, wonder no longer.

What we have here is a little assortment of goodies from Trader Joe's and World Market, plus a couple of other things I picked up here and there. The little Pinnochio is from our trip to Italy this spring.

"Help! I'm stuck in a stocking!"

Here's what he looks like at night.

Chocolates, lip balm, and more chocolates aren't my dream contents for the Advent calendar, but December 1st crept up on me and it was the best I could do. I have a secret plan for next year's calendar: I'm going to put 24 slips of paper in our nightstand. Then throughout the year, when we do something special together or have a really great day or something happens that we want to remember, I can write it down on one of the slips of paper. Secretly, of course. Then when December 1 comes, I can just roll up the slips of paper and put one in each stocking. Karl can open one up each day and read about some of our favorite memories from 2012. Hopefully we'll have more than 24 memorable days, but realistically, it will be an accomplishment for me to write down that many!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 30

Today I'm thankful for:

  • venison chili in the crockpot

  • the chance to wrap up birthday presents for our nephew's 2nd birthday party

  • a not-so-little treat I just ordered for our house... I'll tell you all about it when it gets here!

  • the library

  • Christmas movies, especially this one!

  • the Thirty Days of Thankfulness project (which I did not invent); it has kept me thinking all month long

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 29

This morning before work, we hung up our Advent calendar. I still need to fill it up, but it made me so happy to get those 24 little stockings up on our fireplace.

Last night I got home from work after a looooong work day (ending at 9:00) and I found the sweetest surprise! My mom had dropped off a copy of this book, which I've been secretly wishing for. I'm thankful for my mom and her thoughtful treats. Can't wait to try some of the projects in the book-- there's even a squirrel ornament, which of course will be perfect for Woodland Critter Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 28

Today I'm thankful for the fantastic thrift stores in our area. I love shopping at thrift stores because of the prices, the environmental impact, and the fact that the money I spend goes to an organization doing lots of great things in the community. I also love the idea that any item I purchase has a secret past that I'll never know about. So mysterious and fun! But even more fun when this sign is posted on the door:

That's right, twenty percent off at my hometown St. Vincent de Paul store on Black Friday. My mom and I found a few treasures, including wrapping paper that I've already put to use. Whoever thought of thrift stores was a total genius.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 27

Overheard today (from a little boy):

"Ya, but infinity only goes up to 'and beyond.'"

I'm thankful for all of the candid little comments I overhear on a regular basis at work. I'm not eavesdropping; a lot of kids just aren't really good at talking quietly.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 26

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with lots of family time with Karl's family and my mom. We had amazing food, celebrated our nephew's second birthday, and got some plans nailed down for Woodland Critter Christmas. The newest addition is the meringue contest. I'm imagining meringue mushrooms and possibly squirrel tails. I'd better start practicing!

I'm thankful for our family and friends, and for what promises to be a delightful Christmas!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 23

Remember the other day when I broke a mug? Well, a chunk of the handle was still hanging around in the garbage disposal today, causing all kinds of havoc. I'm thankful for:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 22

I paid our mortgage today. While I don't love paying that ridiculous amount every month, I am thankful that:

  • We have a house to live in

  • We have enough income to pay for our house

  • Our bank (UW Credit Union) is fantastic

  • My sweet husband is great at home repairs

  • We live in a safe neighborhood within walking distance of lots of things, including the bus line, grocery stores, and a movie theater

  • Karl and I have an emerging shared vision of how we want our house to be "someday"

  • Our cozy fireplace is willing to work for us all winter long, keeping us happy and warm

  • I get to wake up tomorrow and not have to leave the house to go to work... I took the day off and I'm looking forward to an around-the-house pie-baking jammie-wearing kind of day. Hooray!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 21

I know a girl who is allergic to corn. I am really thankful that I don't have that allergy. Talk about inconvenient. Actually, the only thing I'm allergic to is nickel, which is pretty easy to live with. I just have to keep a sweatband in my banjo case to protect my wrist from the nickel-laden metal part of the instrument. Who doesn't want to play banjo while wearing a pink sweatband?

I'm also thankful for a nice sunshiney run this morning, for friends who make me laugh, for fires in the fireplace, and for the fact that I don't own any clothing that says "ZUMBA" on it in rainbow colors. Unlike one of my Zumba classmates last night (not the teacher). Who knew they make parachute pants and matching tank tops with ZUMBA written all over them? I really was dying to know the back story on how that woman got her outfit. Where, when, and why, please.

Oh my gosh. Do a Google images search for "Zumba clothing."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 20

Today I tried Zumba for the first time. And the last time. It was an okay workout, but man alive, that music is dorky. I was thankful for:
  • the rest of the people in the class, who seemed just as uncoordinated as me
  • the opportunity to leave early (during a water break)
  • an open lane in the pool, where I went to finish working out. No dorky music there, thank you very much.
Karl and I went grocery shopping and I think we've got everything we need for Thanksgiving! We're doing the two-family double-header this year, so I better start working up an appetite now! We're planning to get our Christmas tree on Friday and I cannot wait. Did I mention that I'm thankful for Karl? I am. He's the best.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 19

Today I accidentally broke three drinking vessels (two glasses and one mug) in three separate shows of coordination. I'm thankful that we had more than three drinking vessels at the beginning of today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 18

This morning I got up early and went swimming before work. And it was a looooong day at work, so I was thankful all day for my morning swim. It made the day a lot more bearable. I'm also thankful that my mom called a couple of hours ago! She was in the neighborhood, and she picked me up and we did a little bit of Christmas shopping. It was a fun surprise to see her!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 17

Today I am thankful for:

  • Items crossed off my to-do list

  • A short Friday to-do list

  • A two-day work week next week! (Well, okay, four days if you count Saturday and Sunday)

  • The luxury of not needing to own two cars

  • A really nice swim last night

  • A brisk but sunny walk to the Post Office today

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 16

Yesterday I started and ended my day at healthcare facilities. I had a 7:45am appointment at the clinic for routine blood tests, which was super fast and easy. But on my way to my banjo class last night, I was rear-ended, so after class I stopped by urgent care. Just a casual spine X-ray, nothing to worry about. So today I'm thankful for access to medical care.

The people at urgent care last night were really nice. I got there fifteen minutes before they closed, which I apologized for about a thousand times. They were all super cheerful and made me feel like I wasn't standing between them and their cozy houses and families (even though I was). I hope I treat library patrons the same way when they come in just before closing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 15

Is it really already November 15? How in the world did half of November already happen?!

Today I'm thankful for:

  • My wonderful husband, who got up early to drive me to work

  • The gorgeous, gorgeous weather (I ran home yesterday, with no jacket or gloves)

  • The promise of a Chirstmas tree in the near future (I cannot wait to decorate for Christmas!)

  • My Tuesday schedule at work, which includes two storytimes and an after-school knitting club

  • Working in walking distance of the Post Office

  • Approved vacation for the day before Thanksgiving! I work on Saturday and Sunday, but I'll have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off. Yay!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 14

I'm thankful for screen-free days (like yesterday!), when I don't look at a computer at all. So refreshing.

Last night I was talking with some friends about curtains. At our house, we still have the boring blinds that came with the house. Snooze. But I've been searching and searching for the perfect curtains-- or at least ones that I like. Nothing too sophisticated. Nothing too drapey. Just something fun and colorful. A few months back, I met the curtains of my dreams at a coffee shop. They were darling: floral but not too floral, colorful but not overwhelming. The barista told me the curtains were from Urban Outfitters, so of course I immediately tried to order them... only to find out that they were discontinued (why a company would discontinue the most darling curtains ever is beyond me). After our curtain chat yesterday, I decided to check out the Urban Outfitters site just to see what else they've come up with. And guess what? THEY'RE BACK! The perfect curtains are now available... backordered, but whatever. I just have to do some measuring at home and then order them. I cannot wait. And let me just say that the photos on the website don't do these curtains justice. They're way cuter than they look online. All that to say that I'm thankful for potential home improvements!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 12

How luxurious is it to lay in bed mid-morning, reading? Very. I love it. Today I'm thankful for the chance to relax.

For you curious readers who commented with questions:

1. Karl and I went to Luigi's, a new Food Fight restaurant near Sequoya Library, with Nichole and JM. I'll let you wait and read the full report on their blog, but for now, let's just say... go somewhere else. The best part was going next door for chocolate-dipped bananas for dessert and then checking out the self-check machines at the library (Nichole is a librarian, too; we love these things).

2. Photos of the miracle posters, taken in the driveway... there are 12 all together, but I'll just give you a little peek. They're by illustrator Brian Wildsmith and I think they were made in 1971. Each month features a different animal.

My friend Caitrin used to tell me that I was the world's worst photographer, because I was always cutting people's heads off in pictures. I guess that applies to turkeys, too (look on the left). Oops. Always room for improvement, I guess!

This one might be my favorite:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 11

Guess what Karl and I get to do tonight? We get to go out for dinner with Nichole and JM of Eating in Madison A to Z! Nichole and I went to library school and volunteered with the Jail Library Group together. We also ride bikes and play games together sometimes. So I am thankful for what will surely be a fun evening of good food and good company!

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Four on Ten Edition

Usually on the tenth of every month, I post ten photos of my day, as part of the Ten on Ten project. Yesterday was the tenth, and here are all the photos I took. In my defense, I had an all-day meeting and I didn't want to be the inappropriate person taking pictures during a meeting. Then I got to hang out with a sweet baby, and of course we were much too busy playing to even think about getting the camera out.

Garage roof dusted with snow :: Car heater turned up :: Knitting bag :: Teeny knitted gnome

I'm thankful for tons and tons of great ideas that were shared at yesterday's meeting (youth services librarians are a creative bunch, let me tell you!), and for the chance to play with Baby K, who is cruising around as if he's been walking all his life. He's also on the verge of talking... so fun.

Oh and I am thankful for the Meeting Miracle of yesterday. For a long time, I've been looking for a certain set of posters that we had when we were growing up. They're basically impossible to find. At yesterday's meeting, some people brought extra stuff to give away. I brought a really awesome tri-fold flannel board that we weren't using (it got snapped up right away) and two pitiful marionettes that no one wanted. The poor things are going to Goodwill later this weekend. But I scored-- you guessed it-- the entire set of posters. The whole set! They're not perfect but they're intact because they were laminated and honestly I think it was meant to be. I was so happy that I nearly hugged the librarian who put them in the swap pile. A Meeting Miracle, I tell you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 9

This morning Karl and I left the house in the pouring rain. By 9:15am, I was watching snow fall sideways out the windows of the library.

I'm thankful for:

  • My co-workers, who are lovely to work with

  • The teensy bit of sunlight remaining in the sky at 5pm

  • A weekend, only two days away!

  • The promise of a fire in the fireplace tonight

  • The cutest little itty bitty gnome on my knitting needles

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 8

It's rainy and dreary, and we finally turned on the heat (but I'm trying to convince Karl to turn it off-- it's in the mid-50's today!). I'm thankful for:

  • Storytimes this morning

  • My 'tween knitting club this afternoon

  • Banjo class tonight!

  • A husband who chops up butternut squash and helps me make delicious dinners

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 7

How is it already November 7? Wasn't it just September?

Today I'm thankful for:

  • A reasonable to-do list

  • A newly cleaned storage closet at work

  • Fun ideas from other librarians

  • Finding my pinking shears (they were in the storage closet)

Usually I work from noon till 9pm on Mondays, but today I'm working 9-5, which is AWESOME! I love it. You guessed it: I'm thankful for today's work schedule.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 6

I'm so thankful for the extra hour we had today! I slept in, went to a baby shower, visited Karl's grandma, and did a bunch of canning and freezing. We now have several quarts of beets (not pickled; I used my new pressure canner so I didn't have to pickle them!) in the pantry and a few bags of frozen kale, squash, and pumpkin in the freezer. I'm thankful for the big bucket of beets my mother-in-law picked for us; we'll enjoy them all winter long!

It's not even six o'clock and my to-do list is basically finished! Hello knitting. Hello reading. Yes please.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day Five

Today I am thankful for gorgeous weather! I'm just about to walk out the door to frolic in the sunshine. I love fall!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day Four

Today I am thankful for a day off with my husband. Seriously this never happens. He has clinicals every Saturday and Sunday right now from noon to 11pm. So a whole day together is very rare. We went on a little tour of thrift stores this morning. I scored a water bath canner with the insert for jars and everything. I already have one water bath canner, but having two means I'll be able to process twice the number of jars at one time. Oh and it was $1.67 after tax.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day Three

I'm heading to a conference in Milwaukee today, where my library director and I are giving a presentation. I'm thankful for the bus ride there, a nice long chunk of uninterrupted knitting. I love sitting back and relaxing while someone else takes care of the driving. With Christmas just around the corner, I 'll take all the knitting time I can get!

And I'm thankful for the chance to hang out with two of the coolest kids ever, William and Henry, tonight!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 2

Today it's rainy, and I'm thankful for:

  • an indoor job

  • hot tea

  • wool socks

  • my husband picking me up after work

Today is the birthday of my lovely friend Bridget, who passed away this spring after a courageous battle with cancer. I'm thankful for the chance to have dinner with her sweet husband, who lives in Portland but is coming through Madison, and friends tonight at one of Bridget's favorite restaurants.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness: Day 1

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's already Thirty Days of Thankfulness time again! Many thanks to Cassie for being on the ball and posting her first Thirty Days entry super early today-- I probably would have forgotten otherwise!

Today I'm thankful for sunshine and leaves turning colors. I'm thankful that I got to drive to work today, which means that my commute was super short and I can go run a couple of errands at lunch (I'm buying tomatoes and ginger for slow cooker Palak Paneer, if you must know). I'm thankful for my husband, who was washing dishes as I left the house this morning, and who studies around the clock so that he can finish his nursing program.

And I'm thankful that Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team is back on in its full glory. Man, I love that show. We don't have cable, but the full episodes are available online. If you've ever secretly wanted to be a dancer or a cheerleader or a prancy-prance type of girl, you'll love it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sharp Shooter

This is what my brother gave my mom for her birthday. It's a BB gun. She lives in the country, okay? She has a lot of varmints that like to destroy things. We're just trying to be proactive.

This is one side of my mom's yard. Notice the beautiful red apples hanging from the tree, just wainting to be eaten... or shot at.

Guess who nailed an apple on her first shot?

Weekend at Home

Last weekend I went to my mom's house. All of my siblings were there, too. We played a lot of Boggle (our favorite game) and ate nonstop. Here are a few peeks at the highlights:

I love rural Wisconsin.

Yep, we did the 10 for $10 deal.

Elsworth and Lia's sweet dog, Libby, in her mummy costume

A little trip to the apple orchard

I have adored this cabin at the orchard for basically my entire life. You can look in the windows and it's set up like a real old house, with furniture and accessories and everything.

My mom!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Love My Husband

Last night, our across-the-street neighbors came over for dinner. We made Brazilian Black Bean Stew, the same meal I made for Karl on our very first date. The food was delicious, the company was fantastic, but the best part came after the neighbors had gone home and the kitchen had been cleaned up. We could have plunked down and watched The Office, as usual. It was tempting. But at Karl's suggestion, we got out our instruments and played a few songs together. Just your typical lineup: You Are My Sunshine, She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, Careless Love, those kinds of songs. Karl is so patient and tolerated my millions of requests to change every song to multiple keys (I'm learning how to change keys in my banjo class). It was so nice just to be doing something together, to take the time to interact. I recommend it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten on Ten: October

  • Making pumpkin cookies (again!)

  • Chimney cleaning by my multi-talented husband, looking forward to many cozy fires this winter

  • Karl's contribution to our seasonal decorations

  • Let the raking begin!

  • Karl got to go canoeing at Devil's Lake... I got to go to work. Not fair. But I'm glad one of us got to go.

  • From the bike path on my way to a meeting on campus (repeat x 5-- it was so beautiful)

Read more Ten on Ten here!