Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No beans!

Here I am at home for my second snow day and I have no beans! Actually today was more of a "wintery mix" day. The wonderful snowy winters of my childhood are long past. Global warming has seen to that. Now for the beans--whenever I have a snow day, I make one of two things--either chili or Pasta e Fagiole. Typically the pasta soup is the choice because it uses things I typically have on hand and it requires no meat. As luck would have it, I didn't have beans! The soup requires dried beans and the chili requires canned. I had neither! Bummer. Even worse--I had the worst craving for a grilled cheese sandwich at lunch and I didn't have pepper jack! I'm just a big fat failure today! I had to use swiss cheese with red pepper flakes. It just wasn't the same!

So I've had two days off and I have not accomplished one single thing. I figure that snow days are freebies so I'm not "required" to get stuff done per se. I certainly could've sewn or done some knitting but I did neither. I managed to watch "24" which I had recorded and "No Country for Old Men." That is one strange movie!

So that's it! I have my winter concert tomorrow though if school is delayed we will miss our dress rehearsal. Oh well! We roll with the punches around here!

Kitty Cam:
This one is from Ems--Chelsea insists on following Mokey everywhere--even to the bathroom sink!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In with the new !

I knew that I would be emotional. I just didn't expect how overcome I would feel watching as the day unfolded. The atmosphere in the DC area was one of sheer excitement. You could literally feel it in the air. I chose to stay home and watch history on TV. The tears started flowing as the dignitaries were being brought into the ceremonial area.

The faces on those in the audience were ecstatic. Faces of all ages and colors.

As a baby boomer, I remember times when this was not the case. The DC suburb I grew up in was all middle class white. My first memory of race was when I was in kindergarten. My teacher, Mrs. Plummer, was an African American. I don't remember really thinking about her as being different. She was everything you would want in a kindergarten teacher--warm, loving and genuinely concerned about her students. I remember giving her hugs everyday upon entering and leaving the classroom. So around the second week of school, I noticed that some of my friends were conspicuously absent from school several days in a row. Upon asking my mother, I was given a sober lesson in reality. "Some people," my mother told me, "don't like people who are different than they are. They think that because Mrs. Plummer is 'colored,' she isn't as good as they are." Wham! There it was! My childhood was forever changed by this harsh reality. My mother told us that judging people by their color, religion or nationality was just wrong. We are all equal in God's eyes. This was a sentiment that we would hear in our house throughout our lifetime. My mom, the child of missionaries, grew up in China. She would tell us stories of coming back to the states to visit her grandparents in New York and being teased mercilessly by the neighborhood kids. They would call her and her sister "Chinky Chinky Chinamen." She told of how hurtful it was. No one should ever belittle people who are different. No one--ever!

As a baby boomer, I remember seeing "Colored Only" signs on water fountains and restrooms in Virginia and segregated swimming pools in the south where we would visit my grandparents. I remember when Martin Luther King Jr. was assissinated and the riots that ensued in DC afterward. I remember that my high school graduating class of almost 800 had exactly 3 black students in it.

Times have changed. I teach in a school in that very same suburb that is extremely diverse. There are classes with no white children in them and the most any class has is one or two, yet you will see every single shade of brown imaginable. I continue to marvel at how my students don't see color. This is as it should be. I tell them stories of my childhood and they are in disbelief. Many of them are too young to understand that their options have been limited. Yes--we tell our children that anyone can grow up to be president, but those doors have never really been opened to anyone who was not a white male--until now. This fact, in and of itself, offers much hope.

It is my sincerest hope that the country will continue to feel the unity it does now. I hope that we will reach across party lines and discontinue the partisan politics of the past. I hope that all of us will see our responsibility in making our country a better place for all.

I hope . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Out with the old . . .

As promised--my top 10 Bushisms:

10. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." --George W. Bush, Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

9. "I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging." -George W. Bush, at the dedication of his portrait, Austin, Texas, Jan. 4, 2002

8. "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." --George W. Bush, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005

7. "More than two decades later, it is hard to imagine the Revolutionary War coming out any other way." --George W. Bush, Martinsburg, W. Va., July 4, 2007

6. "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." -George W. Bush, Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002

5. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." --George W. Bush, Jan. 3, 2000

4. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --George W. Bush, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

3. "Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" --George W. Bush, Florence, South Carolina, Jan. 11, 2000

2. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

1. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

A new day in America! A leader who inspires takes the helm in about 15 minutes!
God Bless America.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to survive a cold spell . . .

Here I am by my lonesome self this weekend. DH went to the beach to help his brother with a home improvement project on their beach house. I've been enjoying the solitude but it has been cold around these parts--record breaking cold! I vowed not to go out this weekend, but I ended up making a run to Joann's to get some notions for a pair of pants I want to make. That was basically it! So--how does one keep comfortable in this cold while being frugal with energy?

First of all--keep the fire going.
Fortunately DH had gotten the fire started before he left early yesterday. I've been keeping it going by throwing the wood on every hour. The cats have been hanging out right in front of the wood stove. I really thought that I'd have at least two of them in bed with me last night. Greg ALWAYS sleeps wedged between DH and me. He never even came upstairs!

Second--keep a warm latte handy at all times.

Third--cook something in the crockpot. This was throwing off some lovely fragrances all day!
I came home from my errand to have this for dinner:
Split Pea with Ham Soup topped with a dollop of sour cream! There's nothing like homemade soup in the winter. I had been craving split pea soup so I indulged myself! I discovered that Hormel has packages of cooked, cubed ham for sale at the grocery store. You get around 2 cups with was perfect! I didn't have a ham bone handy so this worked out well and it was 99% fat free! Good stuff!

Oh--one more thing--actually two--Have some good movies or cable handy along with your favorite knitting project! I have almost finished the body of Silken Scabbard. About an hour this afternoon will take care of that. Tonight will be spent watching the Ravens game then the SNL Presidential Bash! I have to record two other shows--Big Love starts back tonight and the Mentalist is on a special night. I love my DVR! I would like to watch the Inauguration Concert this evening as well.

Things are a buzz around these parts. I'm so glad that my school system decided to close schools on Tuesday. Our Superintendent didn't want to but the BOE voted to do so. We directly border DC and have a lot of metro stations. It will be a zoo. A lot of main roads into DC are being closed and all the bridges from Virginia into DC are closed. Given that many of our employees live in DC and VA, that would have meant that many people would either be hours late to school or not make it! We were closed on Inauguration Day when I was a kid. Given our proximity to DC, this should be a holiday. The funny thing about this Inauguration Day is that many, if not most, of the locals aren't going anywhere near the city! A lot of people have been interviewed on the radio and many of them are going out of town! They are saying that literally millions of people will be on the mall for the festivities. They will have huge jumbotrons set up for the masses to see the swearing in ceremony. That's the best part, if you ask me--especially when your new president is such an incredible speaker. I remember working half day on Clinton's first Inauguration. I drove home like a bat out of hell to hear his speech. He didn't disappoint! Having a leader who communicates well does much to inspire trust in our government. Let's hope that congress doesn't impede his programs. I think that the country is so desperate for change that they will cut him some slack. Here's hoping.

I wore my Surplice Camisole Thursday to school. I didn't think I would ever wear it as I was disappointed with it. I rather like it as a layered piece though.

Now for the last Bushism of the Day:
"So I analyzed that and decided I didn't want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression." --George W. Bush, Washington D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

Kitty Cam: This is how Mikey is spending his cold winter days:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Late Show - Farewell to

We come to the end of an era. The late night comedians are going to be scrambling for material. I don't think Obama will be providing so much!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

There are a few good things about George Bush . . .

Is that the cutest thing or what? I've known that the Bush's had Scotties but the black kitty was a surprise. Unfortunately their kitty who was 18 years old died this week. I never pegged George as a cat guy. I think the kitty was more for the girls. There was a site that had a pic from Jenna's wedding with the girls holding kitty as well as several pics of Laura holding kitty. That Valentine photo is just dear. Here's another one that I found cute:

I also have a thing for Scotties. I had one for 16 years and they've always been my favorite breed of dog.

Today was a day for comfort food. I made meat loaf. My mom always made meat loaf, but I never liked it. Mom did not like highly seasoned food and she didn't cook with salt. I don't cook with salt, but I love a lot of seasoning. This meat loaf recipe has been a favorite in my family since I can remember. I got this recipe from a Sears Microwave cookbook from the 1970's. My parents were the first people I know that bought a microwave. The book that came with it had some good stuff! I've modified the original recipe a little by using ground turkey.

Our Favorite Meat Loaf

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c. cracker crumbs
2 pounds ground beef (I use turkey)
salt and pepper to taste (I omit the salt)

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine meet, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture and blend thoroughly. Shape into an oval loaf and place in an oblong baking dish. Make a depression in the top of the loaf and pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the meat.

Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a corner to vent and cook at 60% power for 25 minutes.

If you prefer to cook the meat loaf in a conventional oven, you may cook it at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

This meat loaf hit the spot. I served it with Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes and fresh organic broccoli florets.

So I finally tried on Silken Scabbard to see how many hip increases I will need to do. It fits quite well and is really stretchy so I don't think I'll need to do as many increases as normal. I need to get crackin' on finishing it. Here's what I have so far:

I'm still adjusting to being back at school. The next few weeks will be quite busy as I have a winter concert coming up on the 29th and the grading period ends on the 23rd. My time will be consumed by grades and rehearsals.

Time is getting short for these:
Bushism of the day:
"Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people." --George W. Bush, Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2008

Kitty Cam: Harley is making his winter nest. He pulls down my bath towel and kneads biscuits on it by the radiator!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is it June yet?

I should not be asking that question the first week of January. I typically don't feel that way, but the first day back at school after a break is always tough. First off--I'm totally exhausted! I went to bed before midnight last night which is unusual on a Sunday night. I always stay up too late on Sunday and then start the week tired but I was responsible last night. I have no planning periods on Mondays and Fridays so they are harder to begin with. The kids were out of it. When I would comment on their lack of attention, they would complain of being tired. Well, duh! Teachers are people too! It will get slowly better. I will admit that I am doing the snow dance tonight and tomorrow morning--or should I say, the Wintery Mix dance! I'll take whatever I can get!

No knitting today. I did start off the day being somewhat productive at home--I got a load of laundry in the washer, the dishwasher filled and running and dinner in the crock pot before I left for work. I didn't go in early because I anticipated staying late for a staff meeting. Our meeting was cancelled so that we could take the time to "get back in the groove." Thank goodness!

Bird treated himself to some new ink for graduation and he sent me a photo:

I've always told that boy that Mom is the one girl who will never break his heart! I guess he must agree!

Bushism of the day:
"I think it was in the Rose Garden where I issued this brilliant statement: If I had a magic wand -- but the president doesn't have a magic wand. You just can't say, 'low gas.'" --George W. Bush, Washington D.C., July 15, 2008

Kitty Cam: Ems sent this photo of Mokey. When she got home, he immediately got in one of the bags before she could unpack!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fast away the old year passes . . .

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses . . .

The years seem to come and go more quickly, the older I get. So does my winter break! It takes the entire break just to regroup. Forget actually getting stuff done around the house! The holidays take up the first part then I need to recover and get some sleep! This year was busier than most because we had Bird's graduation party. It was fun though. Now I can only hope that he can get a better job before those student loans come due. Speaking of jobs, Ems lost hers so we will have to help her out a bit.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I've decided that I am going to seriously try to not buy stuff. I got some nice things for Christmas and I really just don't need anything. I may make one more yarn purchase for something that cannot be knit from stash:

I typically would not attempt a coat, but this is chunky yarn. The actual stitch count is the same as one of my usual sweaters so it should take about the same time to knit. The one issue I see is that the "plain" parts of the sweater are done in seed stitch. That might just drive me crazy. I'll see if the sale yarn I want to get is still available on my next payday. If so, then I will get it. If not, then it's not meant to be at this time.

The only other things I can spend money on:

Consumable items that I use regularly--In other words, no browsing around Sephora for new eye and lip colors. I have a ton of stuff already.
Notions and patterns which enable me to use my fabric and/or yarn stash
School items --which are usually reimbursed anyway.

Here are some of my holiday FO's:

First--the Struan hat I made for Bird:

Pattern: Struan by Ysolda
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Blue Graphite
Needles: Size 5, 16 inch Addi's and Size 5 Brysun D
Here's Ems' Struan:

Same details except the color which is called Shocking Pink!

I just finished the Fawn Earflap Hat for Ems:

I'm not exactly the best model for it. It will look so much better on Ems!
Here are the details:
Pattern: Fawn Earflap Hat from the book Boutique Knits
Yarn: Twinkle Soft Chunky in violet
Needles: Size 15--16 inch Addis and size 15 wood DP's

I love everything in Boutique Knits. They are all accessories and all of the styles are different and a bit edgy. Now I have to finish my Silken Scabbard. That will be a priority.

My secret pal sent me some nice goodies for Christmas:

I love the cable stitch mug from Starbucks! The green tea and chocolate covered almonds are going straight to school!

I got some nice things for Christmas from the family as well. DH got me the Cole Haan boots I've been wanting for over a year. They appeared on Ebay brand new, in my size and a fraction of the original price: The leather is like glove leather. The shaft of the boot is woven leather strips. They are stunning and the photo just doesn't do them justice! DH also got me this:
I've been dying for the Ally McBeal boxed set. The problem is they aren't available in the US due to some copyright issues with the music. You can get them on Amazon UK but they are not the correct format for players in the US. This set is a region free format and they were ordered from Hong Kong. I need to try them out to make sure they are okay. The reviews were good so I hope these work! I watch dvd's when I sew. I've watched all 6 seasons of Sex and the City and I'm now almost done with season 4 of Six Feet Under. Ally McBeal is next!

I've been cooking more during my break. I'm trying to plan meals better so that I don't waste money on food that doesn't end up getting used. Last night I made pizza from scratch. I used to do this all the time. Trader Joe's has pizza dough which I was using, but I decided to go back to making my own. It takes literally 5 minutes in the bread machine. It mixes and rises in the machine over a period of a little less than 2 hours so I may start making it the night before.This is before the pizza was cooked. I like this dough recipe because it is easy to hand stretch. Here is the recipe for a thin 14 inch crust:

Pizza Dough

2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. yeast.

Put all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed and set on dough cycle. When the cycle is finished, stretch dough to fit a greased 14 inch pan. Put desired toppings on pizza and cook for 15 - 20 minutes in a 450 degree preheated oven.

My pie was topped with Arrabiata sauce, 4 cups of shredded mozzarella, vidalia onion, yellow bell pepper, black olives and Trader Joe's precooked spicy Italian chicken sausage. We only ate half of it and will have the other half tonight!

It's back to the old grind tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to getting up in the dark. I've been keeping my preferred hours of going to bed around 2 a.m. and getting up around 9:30 a.m. If only I could keep those hours on a normal basis!

Happy New Year to you all!

I'm running out of time for the
Bushism of the day:
You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President." --George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

Kitty Cam: Both Samantha and Harley have enjoyed the Christmas Tree!