Thursday, December 29, 2011


Well you know that it's going to be alright.        
I think it's gonna be alright.        
Everything will always be alright.            
When we go shopping....       

I used to be a champion shopper. I liked them all, from the department to the discount stores. My car seemed to automatically swerve towards a WalMart if there was one on the way to my destination. I knew the layout of the mall and every store within. I don’t know when it changed but something happened and shopping didn’t seem as much fun anymore. It could be the lengthy lines of people waiting to get out of the store. Often it takes longer to get out of the store than to do the whole shopping tour. Or maybe it’s the apathy of the store personnel. Then again, it could just be the rudeness of people in general. Whatever the reason, I just don’t like to go much anymore.

This year most of my Christmas shopping was done online. It was so much easier to sit in the chair, click a few times then have whatever delivered to my door, or at least to my husband’s office than to go out hunting and fighting the crowds. It worked really well until I messed up and accidentally had things delivered to an old address on one account. The stuff went to another town. Luckily, the people living in the house knew my name and delivered everything to my daughter!
Maybe not having a willing shopping partner has taken some of the joy out of my quest. There were times, years ago, that my friend Debbie and I could stay in a small town WalMart for two or three hours, just looking at ‘stuff’! But there’s nobody to shop with nowadays. My husband would rather go to the dentist than take a trip to a mall! Now make it Academy or Tractor Supply and he’s a world class shopper! Sometimes my daughter will go with me. Otherwise, I’m on my own. I really don’t mind shopping by myself, most of the time. I can take my time, look at what I want, for as long as I want, try on, dawdle, and generally, just do my thing! But it’s fun, with the right companion, to shop away!

After all the Christmas visitors left, we (my husband and son and I) decided to take an impromptu shopping trip. My oldest son is a great shopping buddy. He could win a prize in the shopping Olympics! So we got a hotel room, piled in the car and took off to San Antonio for a shopping day. We were up relatively early the next morning and headed to an outdoor mall called The Shops at La Cantera. It’s semi upscale, with Neiman Marcus (a good store for me to walk right through) to Macy’s. In fact, we even saw a Payless Shoes there so there’s something for everyone. There happened to be a Bass Pro Shop down the way and an Omnimax theater, so Alan just dropped us off and our fun began. We were looking for bargains and we found a few!
The Shops at La Cantera
Perhaps my favorite treasure was a faux fur coat in a leopard print. Why? Because I could I guess! It was 85% off the regular price. As my sister always says, I couldn’t afford not to! Bryce thinks it’s hideous. And it could be, but I’ll wear it anyway. It’s just for fun. And when I’m in the nursing home I’ll make sure to wear it whenever he comes for a visit!
Fake leopard and I love it!

Quite the haul!
We found a lot of things and had a good lunch. That was our recharge and we went until we couldn’t go anymore. There were so many stores and not enough time! Seriously, even if we had taken another day and night, we still would not have seen everything. Finally, with both of us near exhaustion, and Alan Bass Pro’d and Imaxed out, we headed home. One stop at Rudy’s Barbeque and four and a half hours later, we were snuggled deep in our beds with visions of bargains floating in our heads! It was a good trip.

So shutup 
And never stop. 
Let's shop 
Until we drop...

After that little jaunt my shopping interest is renewed! Of course, I’ll have to wait until I’m in another town because Odessa is severely lacking. One thing I did (sadly) miss out on is the “Happy New Year and Sale” at The Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort, Texas. All their yarn is discounted 25% throughout the rest of 2011 (Wednesday, 12/28, through Saturday, 12/31). That place is one of my all time favorite yarn shops. Their selection is unbelievable. But I really don’t need any yarn anyway. (What? Who said that?) So it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have a project in mind and I would have bought yarn so it saved me some money! (Insert a small sob here.)

Speaking of projects, I had a Christmas knitting success! Ty’s friend Jenni, came home with him for the holidays. He had requested a rainbow scarf for her so I knitted one. It was fun and turned out pretty nice. I decided to add buttons on the end so that she could button and loop it, making an infinity or eternity scarf, or leave it unbuttoned and wear as a regular scarf. That’s about the only Christmas knitting I did this year and I’m sure glad I did! She liked it.
Wrapped three times
Up close of buttons. Crocheted loops to fasten
Worn like a regular scarf
Buttoned and looped twice
It's never enough 
Until you've got all the stuff.
When the going gets rough 
Just shop with somebody tough...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas The Night Before Christmas...

When all through the house, 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

When I was little we spent Christmas with my grandparents in Lubbock. We moved to Albuquerque when I was about three, and my parents always went ‘home’ for Christmas. Both sets of grandparents lived there so it worked out fine because we got to see everyone.

My dad’s mom, my grandmother, always said “Christmas Eve Gift” when we got there. Sometimes it was in the middle of the night but if it was Christmas Eve, that’s what she said in greeting, as soon as we walked through the door.

I never knew what it meant. I thought it was just one of those weird Grandmother things that she did and said. Later, when Grandmother and Granddaddy were no longer around to celebrate Christmas with, we still said it. It didn’t matter if we were at my house, my mom’s or my brother’s, that was the first thing said when someone arrived. It was kind of a joke to Grandmother I guess.

One year, on a knitting list I’m a part of, one of the ladies posted about Christmas Eve Gift. I was surprised! All this time I thought it was just something in our family, so I checked it out on the Internet. (I really don’t know what people did before the Internet. That’s my main source of information!) Anyway, I found out there is a custom, more often than not dealing with gifts, centered on the saying, “Christmas Eve Gift.”

I still remember Grandmother, happy to see us, saying Christmas Eve Gift. I remember walking through the garage, to the back door, and the smell of her house as we came in from the long trip. I remember her having the beds ready, pallets on the floor for us kids, and the warmth and comfort that was offered.

We don’t give or get an extra gift for being the first to say Christmas Eve Gift in our family. I know now what the gift was, as we came through the door and she called out, “Christmas Eve Gift” and we said it back. It’s the gift of being with those you love. It’s the gift of family, together at Christmas.

Remember, the things you get and give this year, the material things, are just that; things. And they will soon be forgotten. The best gift of Christmas is the gift of yourself, spending time with those who mean the most. That’s the gift that will be cherished and remembered, for the rest of time.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...

I found this poem, written by Howard Epstein. I adapted it...just a little, just for fun. Enjoy!

A Knitter’s Christmas 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, 
 Knitting needles were clicking, by way of my spouse, 
Knit one, purl one, and yarn over too, 
Her fingers were flying, so much left to do, 
A ski hat for Ty, a warm scarf for Jen, 
A sweater for Bryce, He’ll start a new trend! 
A silk shawl for Judi, some argyles for Dad, 
A knit toy for Caleb, that loquacious lad,
I watch her with wonder, as objects appear, 
Some flowers, a castle, a river, a deer, 
An edging, a ruffle, are done in a whiz, 
She’s painting with yarn, like the artist she is, 
Her patterns are perfect, there’s never a glitch, 
And I know she is knitting, a kiss in each stitch, 
I think that all knitters, who labor away, 
Giving joy unto others, must feel good every day, 
Her needles stop clicking, nothing more left to do, 
So I sit down and say, “Merry Christmas to you” 
And to all who are knitters, may I say with delight, 
“Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good Night!” 

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, 
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


What you making? Fruitcake! 
What you baking? Fruitcake! 
Candied cherries, red dye number two, 
Green cherries? Green ones too! 
It’s fruitcake! It’s fruitcake! 

Fruitcake. The very word conjures up a variety of images. There’s that crazy person in the office down the hall. There’s the guy on the corner who barks when you go by because he thinks he’s a dog. And there’s the heavy, neon colored fruit embedded, full of nuts, rum soaked cake that one receives at Christmas.
Hear the Fruitcake song!
There are two distinct opinions when it comes to fruitcake: Those who like fruitcake, and those who loathe it. I happen to like fruitcake. If you don’t like fruitcake it’s probably because you’ve never tasted a good one.

My husband has a friend who gifts us with a fruitcake every year. It comes from Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and it’s wonderful! We get their world-famous DeLuxe® Fruitcake. They bake it from their original recipe, developed in 1896. It’s chock full of fruit and nuts and it’s just good!

Collin Street Bakery
Deluxe Fruitcake

There are lots of jokes about fruitcake. You can use it like a brick, for a doorstop. You can build your biceps by using it as a weight. You can put a ribbon on it and give it to your boss. You can use it for self defense. Or you can just eat it.

All this talk about fruitcake has made me hungry. Since we scarfed our fruitcake up (my husband likes it too), before the relatives come in so we didn’t have to share, it’s all gone. After thinking about it I remembered my grandmother and mother both used to make fruitcake. I was sure I had the family recipe so I started digging around and sure enough I found it. I’d like to share it with you.

The Ultimate Fruitcake Recipe 

You'll need the following:
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 2 cups dried fruit (I used one carton of candied fruit) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • 4 cups nuts (pecans or walnuts) 
  • 1 bottle of good quality rum 

NOTE: Rum may be replaced with your favorite beverage.

Directions: Sample the rum to check for quality.

Find a large bowl. Check the rum again. To ensure it is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teacup of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the rum is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the rum to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the rum. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the rum again and go to bed.

It sounds great! I’m trying it tonight. By the way, it's supposedly impossible to age a fruitcake too long. If it’s stored in an airtight container and basted occasionally with liquor, it'll keep indefinitely. Of course you’ll need to make sure it’s quality liquor before basting.

Pecans or walnuts, Citrus peel, lots of stuff, 
Add what you feel! 
Sticks of butter, cinnamon, Mo-molasses, lots of dark rum, 
Artificial color, artificial flavor, 
If your family don’t want it, 
Give it to a neighbor! 
It’s fruitcake! 
It’s fruitcake! 

My friend made a crocheted candy cane for my tree. Pretty, huh!

Here’s a picture of my cute miniature snowman tea set. Just the right size if you don’t like fruitcake!
 Fruit cake! Heavy as lead. 
Fruitcake! If it hits in the head! 
Fruit cake! It could kill you dead! 
It’s Fruitcake! 
Yeah, fruitcake!

Friday, December 16, 2011

This is the Day...

This is the day,  
That the Lord has made.  
I will rejoice and be glad in it ...   

I know you’ve heard before that kids say the darndest things. Well, my kids are no different. In fact, most times I thought they were extremely clever! (It’s possible there could be a bias involved!)
When we first moved to this small town in West Texas, it was a temporary move. That was almost 32 years ago. My daughter was born in the hospital here but the boys were born in a small town about 90 miles away. They weren't delivering babies here at that time and my doctor had moved so I followed him. When Bryce was born my doctor asked my husband how he did that. He meant how we had a boy as he had three girls. Or maybe he was talking about Bryce being born, uh, peeing!

My daughter talked at an early age. She spoke very clearly as well, which sometimes wasn’t a good thing! A doctor once asked me if she was vaccinated with a phonograph needle! Therefore, Bryce didn’t talk. Or maybe it was he didn’t have to (or get to) talk because she was busy enough for the both of them! He did communicate verbally eventually and has proceeded to voice his opinion and speak his mind ever since!
When we moved outside the ‘city’ limits, about three miles, we had some wonderful neighbors named Joyce and Kenneth. Kenneth was a big man, loud and even a bit intimidating if you didn’t know him. I would never have wanted to cross him but he was really a teddy bear inside, especially where the kids were concerned. Joyce is one of the most creative people I know. She’s a true artist and a genuinely sweet person, inside and out.

Kenneth was my husband’s best friend. He was really the age of my parents, so he could have been Alan’s dad, but it didn’t matter; they clicked, from the start. They were a big part of our lives for many years.

One day the kids and I were going somewhere. We used to sing silly songs, either with the radio or just on our own to pass the time. The kids were in the backseat, both strapped in. We sang several songs then they wanted to sing a song they learned at Sunday school. It was simple, and we started singing together. “This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it…” We kept singing when suddenly Bryce sang, “Rejoice… and Kenneth” in his little boy voice. It was incredibly sweet and hysterically funny!

Kenneth and Joyce moved to another house in town. The kids and I didn’t see them as much but Kenneth and Alan were still the best of friends. Kenneth passed away several years ago and there are still days that Alan is sad because he misses him so much. Mama Joyce lives in Midland now and we seldom see or hear from her. We need to make the time because we miss her too. In fact, one of the last times I saw her she was talking about Bryce’s sweet song, "Rejoice...and Kenneth!"

I will rejoice and be glad in it...

I got my present from my Secret Santa the other day. I was expecting it and when I looked inside it was a great surprise! She was generous and gave me yarn, notions, a book and candy! Here’s a picture.
I don’t know what I’ll make with the yarn yet, but I’ll come up with something! And speaking of yarn, I entered a contest and have won yarn THREE times! It's all from Sweden! It's very nice yarn and quite exciting (to me!)since my luck usually runs to the extreme opposite direction!

Looking forward to having the time off from work so I can relax and maybe get a little bit of what I want to do done.

This is the day,
I will rejoice and be glad in it…

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

Ev'rywhere you go;   
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again   
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow…   

And so begins my love hate relationship with the Christmas season. Understand, I’m not a Grinch by any means. There are some things I absolutely love about Christmas. But at the same time, some things just make me crazy!

I love the music. I start listening to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving. I have satellite radio and they dedicate several channels to solid Christmas music. I put it on the autotune selections and I scroll through all my favorites. When I taught school my room was full of computers. I had all kinds of Christmas CDs, some good, some not so good. I would put them in and play them in the background during class when school started back after Thanksgiving until the Christmas break. At first some of the kids would resist. They had some silly idea I was trying to torture them! But after a day or two even the most resistant would be humming along.
I like the lights. There’s a park on the south side of Odessa that sets up elaborate light displays. I come home that way every day. I was a bit late the other day and it was dark. I could see the lights at the intersection where I turn. So I didn’t turn. I went straight and I waited in line and drove through the park. I had a good time! It would have been more fun had I had company but when my oldest son gets home I know he and I will go again. We don’t put up lights at our house. Not outside lights anyway. We did once and I really don’t know why we didn’t ever again. We live outside town so there isn’t any peer pressure from the neighbors to do much outside decorating. It’s a good thing. Nobody has the time now. Instead, I enjoy the generosity of others who are so generous with their lights. And I’m thankful they continue to go to the trouble.
Lights at the park
I love the inside decorations. When I pull out the red and green afghans and blankets and pillows and put them on the chairs I get a cozy feeling. I like spreading the knick knacks throughout the house. I like the smell of the spicy candles and the light of their flickering flames. I like the many trinkets that have amassed through the years and take pleasure in the memories as I unwrap each one and place it on the tree. I like the twinkling lights. I don’t care if they are white or multi colored as long as there are plenty. I even like icicles, the silvery strands draped across the branches. When we’re lucky enough to have a cut tree I love the smell of the pine.

I love snowmen. I really love snowmen! I have snowmen dishes. I have snowmen figurines. I have a snowman wreath. I have all kinds of snowmen. I have bathroom snowmen and kitchen snowmen and bedroom snowmen. Snowmen are lovable and I like the fact that they can be legitimately left out through the end of January. I have a lot of snowmen. So many, in fact, that I have found a stray in April or May that somehow was forgotten when the others were returned to their boxes. And if it’s cold the day of the find, well, that makes it okay!

Happy Hook 'em Holidays!
Let it snow!
I like presents, both giving and receiving. I like how it feels to find something that I know is just perfect for that certain someone. I like watching the expression as the gift is unwrapped. I like the look of surprise and pleasure as they gaze at the treasure. I like opening a present that someone took time to think about. I’ll wait until I have everything that was meant for me. Then I’ll tear the paper to reveal the surprise. I especially like gifts from the heart. But mostly I like that someone thought about me.

I have an idea of the perfect Christmas in my mind and it’s never going to happen that way, no matter how hard I try. I won’t have all the presents wrapped. I don’t like to wrap and I put it off. Sometimes I’ll get some help and sometimes not. The house won’t be clean enough. It probably is clean enough but it won’t be to me. I’ll see things that should have been done. I’ll worry about it and fret until my stomach hurts. I won’t have all the food done on time. I’ll cook and wash dishes and cook and wash dishes and then do it all again. I’ll run out of time and I’ll stay up til all hours, catch a two or three hour nap and then get started again. I’ll be stressed. I’ll look for a place to hide and I’ll cry.

I know that I bring on most of the stress myself because of that perfect Christmas that’s never going to happen. Nobody else seems to worry about any of it so why should I? Nobody is going to go hungry. Everyone gets a present. There’s a place to sleep and there will be plenty of blankets and clean towels for all. And if I hurry maybe I’ll get it all done.

Christmas is a time of celebration, not just something to get through. I’ll remember that when we’re all together. We’ll eat and play and have a good time. We’ll talk of Christmas past. We’ll laugh and plan for Christmas yet to come. And we’ll love and enjoy our gift, Christmas present.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 
Toys in ev'ry store, 
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be 
On your own front door. 

I belong to a Yahoo knitting group. It’s ladies from across the state and I’ve made a bunch of friends, virtually and also in person. It’s called Lone Star State Knitters and if you are a female Texas knitter then it’s open to you! We get together for a face to face meeting at least once a year. Other times, at fiber festivals and the like, if we can, we meet up. Another annual activity we do is our Secret Santa exchange. It’s voluntary and it’s a lot of fun. I’m getting my box ready to send off. I hope she likes what I picked!

Ready to send off!
I made a simple ornament for her that I really liked. It’s a clear ball from Michael’s (or a similar store). I stuffed it with bits of yarn. I gathered the yarn and cut it into little pieces. Then I stuffed it all down into the clear plastic ball. I put the lid back on, tied a couple of pieces of yarn around the top and voila! A yarny ornament for Christmas! Look at some other great ideas over at Our Creative Spaces.

Clear ball stuffed with Christmas yarn scraps.
Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Breathe in…breathe out…

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas; 
Soon the bells will start, 
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing 
Right within your heart.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number

We hear you're leaving, that's OK.
I thought our little wild time had just begun. 
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run. 
But if you have a change of heart… 

When my daughter was small, like most little girls, she had a doll. This doll was a typical ‘baby’ with a cloth body, plastic head and limbs. The baby didn’t have hair but had paint symbolizing hair on the top of its head.
When she first got her doll she wanted to name it. We suggested a few things but she wasn’t interested. One day she proclaimed her doll’s name was Richard. And Richard was a girl.
Richard and Callye were always together.
First off, we didn’t know anyone named Richard at that time. I was a stay at home mom with her so I tried to think of a movie or television show that might have had someone named Richard as a character. Nothing came to mind. But she was adamant. Her doll’s name was Richard. And Richard was a girl.

Richard became part of the family. She had dresses and little booties to wear, but most of the time she was nude. She was very durable, too, as sometimes she was held by the leg or the arm and she still stayed in one piece. It was probably lucky that her features were permanent, or as permanent as paint can be. She had many adventures, some good, some not so good!
A doll like Richard. And it's a girl doll.

One morning as I was folding laundry, I had a movie playing in the background. There was a fight scene and the two men involved were yelling at each other and one said, “I’ll beat the hell out of you.” Richard and Callye were playing house in another part of the room and I glanced over to see if she’d heard. She was busy feeding Richard and had not even glanced at the television. Later that night as we were sitting together, Callye picked up Richard by the leg and started pounding her on the floor. I said, “What are you doing?” She calmly said, “I’m beating the hell out of Richard.” She’d heard.

Richard went everywhere with us. Well, almost everywhere. One Sunday, Alan was on a hunting trip and Callye and I were getting ready to go to Sunday school and church. We were dressed but Richard’s clothes were nowhere to be found. We searched high and low but alas, there was no outfit for Richard. Being the resourceful mother I am I suggested that Richard lay in mom’s bed while we were at church. It took a little negotiation but that’s what was finally decided, and Richard stayed home.

Years later, in the teacher’s lounge, a colleague, who had at one time been Callye’s Sunday school teacher, and I were visiting. We were talking about our kids and their old toys and I mentioned that Callye had loved a doll named Richard but Richard was a girl. She got a funny look on her face and said, “So that’s it!” I asked what she meant and she told me this story: One Sunday morning, a long time ago, Callye had gone to Sunday school. She told her two teachers that Richard couldn’t find any clothes and stayed at home in mom’s bed while daddy was gone.

I was mortified. We lived in a small town and you know how small towns are. She reassured me that she hadn’t thought anything bad, that Richard must be a cousin or something. Yeah, right!

Richard, who was a girl, was a part of Callye’s (and our) everyday life for a long time, but as it happens she eventually outgrew Richard. And I eventually lived down the story that quickly circulated through the school.

Richard isn’t lost. We still have her, packed away somewhere, probably without clothes, waiting to sleep in somebody’s bed! But she'll never be forgotten.

Rikki don't lose that number. 
You don't wanna call nobody else. 
Send it off in a letter to yourself...

Well, I had to tell my sister the shawl wasn’t going to be on time. I’ll finish but I can’t make the deadline. I haven’t had much time to work on it and it seems for every two inches I finish I take out three. I just need some down time and I can whip it out. So, in the meantime I decided on some instant gratification! I saw a scarf on a lady in Ruidoso, probably last year or maybe the year before. I really liked it but she was a stranger and I didn’t want to ask if I could look at it. I should have. I went home and sketched out what I thought it looked like. Then I got busy on other things and lost the paper and didn’t really think about it again.

Loops is a great yarn store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My oldest boy used to live there so I got to visit occasionally. But he’s moved so I just get updates by email and Facebook as to what’s going on there. The other day I got a note about a simple, Neck’s Best Thing scarf. Voila! That was it! That was the Ruidoso scarf! Or at least it was close enough. They were even so kind as to give a FREE pattern! I love when that happens. And it’s a real pet peeve when something says it’s free only to be free if you BUY a bunch of yarn first. But I digress. Anyway, I had some bulky yarn I’d picked up for something or other so I took it out and gave the scarf a try. I used a size 19 needle and cast on 7 stitches. I liked it fairly well but something was missing. I took it to work, for an impartial opinion, and the verdict was, MORE FRINGE! So, that was easy enough to fix, and I did. It’s kind of cute, don’t you think?

The first try. Added more fringe.
It was fun and I liked getting something finished in a short amount of time so I couldn’t stop at one. But this time I thought I would change it up some.

Cast on 7 stitches
US 19, 15mm needles

I found some other yarns I had around and added them to the fringe. This one looks kind of Christmasy.
A little sparkle.
 These are fun and I am already thinking of some other variations.

Up close--yarn is Charisma by Loops and Threads
Fringe a little longer too.
Thank you Loops for sharing this fun pattern! If you’re interested in seeing other creative projects head over to Our Creative Spaces and look around!

The Christmas season brings back memories; Memories of people, places and things that are packed away, maybe not thought of often, but never forgotten.

Rikki don't lose that number,
It's the only one you own. 
You might use it if you feel better, 
When you get home...