Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10 on Tuesday... the Final Push

Today's 10 is "10 things to get done by the weekend"--- timely b/c this weekend is solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah.  My list looks fairly tame considering that for the past 2.5 weeks, I've been running to and from a hospital. My mom got very sick, it complicated her COPD and we are in the midst of a very long exacerbation, currently  at rehab, but started December on a ventilator and with prayers. Needless to say, my normal, exuberant Christmas spirit went right out the window. Even now, we have the tree up and decorated, some of the decor done, but honestly? I kind of just want to get through the weekend (and perhaps a 1 day pass for my mom on Christmas Day, so my brother and SIL can bring up the only grandkid for a few hours to see his Nana). PC and I host Christmas dinner, so there is that to attend to, but he's handling 90% of that task.  And, friends? PC has been a godsend through this. As happily unmarried as we are, you know that you have a true partner in life when he's taking care of everything in the house, so when you get home at 10pm from the ICU, you can eat, cry and sleep.

But, for now... I still have a wee list of things to get done:
1. buy asparagus and Brussels sprouts for dinner
2. clean the bathroom and kitchen. Again.
3. finish wrapping... i have one gift left to wrap. Oh, no... three. Whoops
4. pick up a gift for my dad from my mom (and a few card options too)-- yup, she's a sneaky Santa even when sick.
5. make dinner plans with friends for next week (Sylvie, this is you)
6. buy thank you cards 
7. find something for my brother's kind of girlfriend (??)--- i never know what to get her, and she's sorta kinda still with him.... it's all very complicated.  
8. get my second wreath up on the door
9. make fudge. two small batches, unlike the 12 or so I normally do.
10. finish up a thousand and one little things at work. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The hostess with the mostest

I love giving hostess gifts... so easy and so thoughtful. After dining in friends' homes a number of times, I don't usually bother (so many friends stop being "company" after a few years), but it is nice to have as you approach the holiday party season.

My mom taught me that a hostess gift should be "what it is: a gift for the woman who did all the darn work!" So... here are some of my ideas:

  1. Flowers. In a vase, even a cheap one. (Never make a host/hostess hunt for a vase when they are mid-meal prep).
  2. Plant. No vase needed and can perhaps be transplanted to the yard.
  3. Candle--- go with pretty and unscented unless you know them really well. And their allergies. Soy candles are great.
  4. Hand towels or dish towels. A nice dish cloth or hand towel (embroidered, or having a design) is a nice gift and always handy!
  5. box of chocolates. I always add a note "for you to enjoy later," so they don't feel the need to share it with us.
  6. seasonal or themed notepads, sticky notes, etc. 
  7. a favorite coffee or tea--- make sure the coffee is already ground. 
  8. an ornament for their Christmas tree (this is pretty easy this time of year)
  9. a coffee table book or a book for the hostess to read
  10. a centerpiece--- who couldn't use a nice holiday centerpiece
Also, my top few things to avoid bringing the hostess:
  1. A bottle of wine. yes, it's traditional, but if the hostess has already paired the wine with the meal, she may feel pressured to open your bottle, even if it doesn't complement the meal. If you bring wine, insist it's "for you, for later."
  2. cookies/dessert: unless asked to bring something. As the girl hosting a cookie swap on Friday, the last thing I need in my house is more sweets.
  3. salad, side dish, etc... you may think your helping,  but parties & dinners are usually pre-planned when it comes to food, so again, unless you are asked (or it's a potluck)...
As the hostess, let's review a few things about receiving a hostess gift. 
  1. Acknowledge the gift. 
  2. Say thank you!
  3. Set is aside.
  4. open it later. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ten for Tuesday, Holiday edition

Holiday edition and holiday traditions. My family has a bunch of holiday traditions, many that haven't been done since we were kids, but I remember them...
this is the exact nativity and creche that my mom had when we were growing up

1. Dan and I buy our tree from the local Catholic Church, Our Lady's in Newton. I've never bought a tree from an organization that wasn't benefiting from the sale and I probably never will. Even this one, the attached high school, Trinity, rents the space to the tree seller, so they get the rent each year. The tree can be no higher than the top of my hand when i put my arm up. Otherwise, the topper will never get up there.
2. Making fudge. Nana J's secret recipe... and it's delish.
3. Sending cards. My SIL has the right idea- if they send an e-card, they are off the Christmas list.
4. Christmas eve at my parents. Everyone laughing and raising hell, drinking a little too much, eating WAY too much.
5. Meatballs and sauce on Christmas eve at my mom's... everyone's got a piece of bread dunked in there throughout the day... just waiting for it to be 'done'.
6. Opening stockings and presents on Christmas eve... what can I say, we're Norweigan!
7. Finding the LifeSavers storybooks and Tootsie Roll trees in our stockings... like we're still 5. And we hide them immediately to prevent theft.
8. Blue-tin cookies... you are a definite north-shore-er if you know the blue-tin cookies
9. Midnight Mass. It's poetic and mystical and soothing to me. Our church has the holy spirit knock on the door and the congregation invites the spirit into our church and our lives. It moves me.
10. My cookie swap... it's silly, but fun and everyone has a great time.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Advent Calendar for Jackson Robert

A few weeks ago (pre-Thanksgiving), I started discussing Advent calendars with my sister-in-law. Yep, that sister-in-law, the one who loves anything I make for the buggy one and is also very crafty herself (can't wait to smell her new cinnamon wreath--- she says the house smells like Christmas now).  I wanted it to be different, personalized... definitely say "made for Jack by someone who really loves the snot out of him."  But it needed to be quick! Advent was impending! I hadn't a lot of time! 

So, I dropped my knitting needles and grabbed the felt, scissors and embroidery needle and off I went. To my chair, in the living room, drinking hot tea and cutting, assembling, adorning mittens. 
Love these little mittens, #25 is the only white one and the only one with red letters. The rest are gold. 
Each mitten is a pocket for a toy, ornament or candy. I used the dimensions from creating his 2010 mittens (see here) and made his own hands the mittens! I used a quick running stitch in a contrasting color to create a hand-made cozy feeling. And, every few mittens, I'd trim with the pinking shears. Each mitten has a date (1-25), all hand embroidered with embroidery floss.  

At the corner of each mitten, I strung them with embroidery floss and tied in 3-7 small jingle bells, so it makes noise as he runs down the stairs :) 
And, here they are hung over the doors of my china cupboard. 25 little mittens just waiting to delight and surprise one special little boy. 

The verdict? He loves it! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

little hiatus

My short hiatus got pretty long. The sore throat/cold thing turned into double ear infections, sinus infection and strep throat. Which PC got too. The week of Thanksgiving. So, our Thanksgiving week was, let's say "interesting." I had some unexpected time out of the office (which is never good because my office is pretty unforgiving when you use the time off they give you. More about this later.)  and it resulted in very little knitting. Last Tuesday, I slept for 19 hours. No knitting there.

Thanksgiving was pretty good, but I still can't hear out of my left ear. I've got to see if I can get into the doctor on Saturday.

The 10 on Tuesday is  "ten favorite musicals." Hmm.. i've never been a HUGE fan of them.

1. Legally Blonde, the Musical. I saw this a few weeks ago for a Girls' Night Out and it was great!
2. Christmas Carol, but ONLY by the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Anything else is just not good. (David Coffee as Scrooge is BRILLIANT)

3. The Who's Tommy. I remember liking that one, but the crack-whore scared me.
4. Wizard of Oz... is this a musical? Or a movie with songs?
5. Lion King--- PC took me one year and it was pretty awesome.

6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreancoat

7. Hair
8. Rent
9. Sweeney Todd
10. Le Cage

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Un-Diet

I've been un-dieting for about 3 months now and it's finally clicking. Yes, I'm still watching my carb intake,but that's going to be a life long process, so it's now become a habit. The act of flipping over every product in the grocery to see the carb/serving grams has led me to this: people, we eat a TON of sugar.

My un-diet is very much mental. I'm not feeling deprived, my cravings are lower and I'm feeling better (and sleeping more!) each day. I can go to a restaurant. Or eat a fiber festival. Or work a conference (thank you, Whole Foods Whey protein & shaker bottles). Nothing is off-limits. NOTHING. I can eat cake. I can eat cookies. I can eat meat. (though, I've reduced my meat-based protein intake to once per day)

Today, I'm sharing with you a few things that are getting me on-board with the diet. As you know, this blog is my dumping ground for my life...we'll get back to knitting tomorrow.

1. My nutritionist. Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I would look forward to hauling up 3 flights of stairs to see Paula (at MetroWest Nutrition in Newton) every few weeks, I would have called you a crack monkey. Every experience I've ever had with a nutritionist has been "this is a small apple. This is a medium apple. They are different." Seriously? I've been on Weight Watchers, TOPS, jenny craig, nutrisystem, Atkins, South Beach and  you think I don't know a small apple? I've never NOT weighed my food.  

Paula's different. She's encouraging, full of ideas and really wants you to succeed. And she doesn't let you get away with anything. Don't like broccoli? Find something else. Set limits. Be strong. She talks about having a "bank of self control" and to identify who's trying to rob the bank! Like the well-meaning co-worker who offers to pick up take-out. Every. Day.  Or the relative who pushes the chocolate pie toward you after you've said no.  (Or the wretched people at Stop & Shop who comment on our produce-laden grocery cart and tell me all about Nutrisystem and packaged foods. Okay, maybe that's just b/c I hate people who try to publicly humiliate me.) We're working through some of my food issues and she's helped me be more aware of me, my body and my health. Thanks, Paula!!!

2. My endocrinologist. Dude, he's awesome. Every lb gone gets a high-five. Every minute decrease in hA1C gets a "way to go." And, he hates the treadmill too, but he does it. Every night. And he tells you : he hates it, but he does it and he has to work at eating healthy and staying in shape. He's a great doctor, has helped me truly believe that I can and WILL beat PCOS.  He's current on all the research, loves the ideas my nutrionist has and is dedicated to working with me, not against me.
www.myfitnesspal.com or download the app 

3. MyFitnessPal. A kick-ass app for my android phone that is also a website. I can scan the barcodes of food to enter them. The database is extensive and my nutritionist can log in to see my diary.  You can learn more at their site, but wow... has this made tracking and eating so.much.easier.
See? Kicking things!

4. Steve, from BlackBelt Fitness. Steve's a fairly non-traditional trainer... more like a nicer weekly version of the trainers from Biggest Loser. We do a lot of martial-arts based workouts and I get to kick him. Well, the pads, but seriously? How good does it feel to kick something after work on Thursday? Amazing! Lots of stretching, weight stuff and cardio... it doesn't get boring and I've never had to run on the treadmill.  A weekly personal trainer? Well, someone must be made of money right? Nope. Steve's reasonable and you can buy packages that reduce the cost as well. Both PC and I see him and we agree: Steve's pretty great.
Siggi's is the lowest carb, fewest ingredient yogurt I can find. No HFCS, no aspartame..just milk, agave,  vegetable rennet and  good "bugs"

5. New foods. New food choices are keeping me going. Last week, I roasted brussels sprouts. I never liked them, now I love them! And tonight, we're having seared endive with our dinner.  We're boosting our options at home, getting creative and embracing new recipes. PC's been grilling up a storm too... which is nice because grilling reduces the oil that we use for our foods.

So, keep an eye on the weight loss ticker in the corner there. It's going to be moving and I hope to hear you cheering me on!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Heaven

depending on where you live, this is what you think of when you think "cranberry"
Massachusetts is a HUGE cranberry producer (2nd only to Wisconsin). Growing up here, cranberries (fresh ones) are so common in the grocery store that I was amazed when a friend (who grew up in France) went bananas over them in the produce department 6 years ago.  "imagine," she said," Fresh cranberries!" And until PC's grampa passed away, he had a cousin (Cousin Richard) who lived next to a cranberry bog and "liberated" cranberries and sent them up in a giant box. If you wanted cranberries, you just grabbed a scoop at Grampa's.  Just one more reason to miss him very much (he was pretty damn awesome).
But, here in MA, this is what we think of!Industry! Jobs! Bogs...
(Raise your hand if you have ever taken a school bus to a cranberry bog...)

So what to do with all those riches?
1. Make cranberry sauce. Every Massachusetts elementary schooler knows how to do this (you learn at Plimoth Plantation after you go see the very unimpressive Plymoth Rock): water, sugar, berries: boil, cool and squish.
2. Cranberry muffins. Take you favorite blueberry muffin mix, add cranberries instead.
3. Cranberry-Onion relish. PC's aunt makes a good one... so good, I beg for leftovers at Thanksgiving. And eat about 2 cups of it on my mashed potatoes that day. :)
4. Cranberry pancakes. I had these one weekend in Maine while at the NETA Spa, Sit and Spin event. Delish.
5. Cranberry cocktail. I buy it in the store and I dilute it with sparkling water. Not only does it taste great, cranberries are great for your kidneys and bladder. And will quickly stave off a UTI.
6. Cranberry ginger ale. Add some crushed cranberries to a glass of ginger ale. Yum. Add some gin and you have an adult beverage. Leave out the gin and the kids table looks pretty darn fancy.
7. Cranberry scones. I don't make these, I just get them at the Celtic Corner bakery in West Newton. To.die.for.
8. Fight cancer. Tons of antioxidants are in these wee, bitter and sour berries... so, adding them to your diet can help you prevent cancer.
9. Put it on your face. Cranberry oil is supposed to be good for your skin.
10. best of all... in the can, with ring "impressions" and all... as a yummy low-calorie snack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A knitter's delight

Is three little girls running around a kitchen yelling meow! Meow!  All the while, wearing their handknit cat hats! And hearing that a certain tres chic 14 year old still carries the first purse you knit her. When she was 2. She keeps it in her purse, filled with her essentials.  Yup, love my family.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blog fail

I missed yesterday. Whoops. Two blog updates today to make up for it.

First, its darn cold here today, so warm socks are a must! And, I have noticed that I'm down to a few precious pair.

Tell me: what is your favorite sock pattern?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin gone too far

I'm a sparkling water addict. Since Ive recently tried to really cut out the soda, seltzer and sparkling water are my new bff. And we know I love all things pumpkin, right? Not this.

Pumpkin spice and egg nog water? Gross. The granny smith flavor was pretty awesome, but egg nog????

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Twins' hats are under way. One purple, one pink. Mitten mice are awaiting pink noses and tails (mitten strings).

Using helloyarn's tortoro pattern as the base and converting to a cat.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tuesday's 10

Carole proposed a timely subject as we enter the holiday (or as I say: germ swapping) season: Ten Ways to Care for a Cold.

the common cold virus; quite pretty, considering

  1. Advil Cold & Sinus. The good stuff. The pseudoephedrine loaded cold medicine. 
  2. Good tissues. With aloe. Your nose is so nice to you the rest of the year, it deserves an upgrade to the good tissues.
  3. Slow down. Ha! PC is killing himself laughing right now, because I don't slow down when i'm sick. I should, but I don't. But I do think you should.
  4. Tea. Lots of tea.
  5. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Peanut butter & Fluff on Saltines alongside Campbell's chicken and rice soup. Scientifically proven to make you feel better. 
  6. Nyquil. The nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-stuffyhead-medicine-that-helps-you-sleep. 'nuff said. 
  7. Water. Water. Water. Colds love a dehydrated body...so, fill up on cool water. 
  8. Quilts. Get on the couch and grab one. Snuggle. Add cat if needed. 
  9. Pajama pants. When you have a cold, there is no reason to wear real pants. Get up and shower , but change into clean pajama pants.
  10. Steam shower... nothing like the feeling of the steam working its way through your nasal passages.
and one more ... Elderberry tincture. Once someone near me at work starts to sneeze, I make myself some elderberry tea here at work and grab the lysol. :) 

Monday, November 07, 2011

In which Pumpkin speaks her mind

Hello, Pumpkin here. I have to blog for the Lady Who Carries Me ( let's call her Momma today because she has.something called jury duty. She says its a pain the ass, so I think it's like going to the vet. Very pokey.

I wanted to show you that I, too, love sheep. Not only for their delicious yarns, but for their ability to keep me warm. Take the yarn. Momma brought more home this weekend even though she's not done playing with the ones she has. You know she's done when it's wet.

My sheep is a very warm sheep. She is a little shy, and doesn't sat much, but momma and the Man Who Feeds Me must heat up her food, because she comes back from the Food Place and is all warm. My food is never warm. 

Sometimes momma needs to snuggle the sheep, but I am sure glad I am NOT that sheep, because she squishes her! sheep never complains, but I'm glad momma doesn't squish me. The hugs are bad enough.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Alpacas, Sheep, Goats and... a whole lotta people

On Saturday, after a night of birthday debauchary at a co-worker's 50th birthday bash, I headed off to pick up my friend Dora in Hudson. Switching to her car, nursing some dehydration (beer, laughing and dancing can really make you dry), we headed to Springfield, MA. 
One end of the market
 What's in Springfield? Besides the Basketball Hall of Fame? New England Fiber Festival. Started last year (or was it two years ago?), this little indoor festival has greatly expanded... so much so that it takes up one of the Big E (Eastern States Exposition-- kind of like a state fair,but our N.E. states are kinda small, so we group them all together) fairgrounds.

Aisle after aisle of vendors, all hawking yarn, fiber, spinning wheels, spindles, and much much more. We saw at least 8 kinds of spinning wheels, more spindles than you can shake a stick at (mostly at Amy- Spunky Eclectic's booth) and oodles of sock yarn. If you are a sock yarn ho, this is where you need to be. MILES of it.

After catching up with friends and chatting while walking, we had a yummy and relatively healthy lunch (grilled chicken wrap with blue cheese, crumbles, cranberries and pecans) with a questionably
healthy snack (cheese fries), we headed back to finish off the shopping. I started to feel like this:

the other end of the market
It's a LOT of people.

I left with enough sock yarn from Dorchester Farms for two pair, and a shawl kit from Judy's booth. And a few patterns. Not much more. I've been pretty underwhelmed with what I see in the booths, mostly because I know how much I have in my stash at home.

All in all, a great day with great friends. This is a festival I can see myself going back to, but i'll be honest, I miss the "outside"-ness of an actual sheep fair. And it was a nice trip to Springfield. In my part of the state, the Snowtober storm didn't really impact us ---some crappy slush is all we got. But, my friends to the west? Hammered. So many trees down, so many STILL without power, but what great stories of compassion and fellowship: neighbor helping neighbor. Say a little prayer of thanks for the hard working line crews and tree trimmers. We saw them still hard at work on Saturday, clearing the roads to make them safe and passable.

Mouse mittens will be appearing here soon. Pattern is being written for them soon.

G'night. :)


Serious dedication to your craft. My first thought? I hope it's superwash.

More on the New England Fiber Fest tomorrow, including the goodies.

Friday, November 04, 2011

College and Snowflakes

Saint Anselm College, Mancheseter NH- winter

I went here (see above) for college. It's a good college;  I received an excellent education and I don't regret for a moment that I  went there. I made some great friends, learned more about myself and my abilities than I thought possible and found my faith there. It was not cheap. It was not free. And it did not let everyone in. I received a scholarship for some of my tuition because throughout high school, I was a hard worker and knew that I wanted to go to college. As the youngest of three, college was not a given. Paying for it was certainly going to come down to me (mom & dad helped, alot. More than they should have, realistically), and I'm still paying it. I wore the same jeans for 4 years, I had the meal plan, cigarettes and a keg party ($3 for a cup) were my budgeted items. I saved all summer for book money. I walked and bummed rides to my jobs when I couldn't swing gas. I had jobs. 

Where is this conversation going? I was in Boston earlier in the week for work and drove past the Occupy Boston movement and saw the following scene: a student, with a bullhorn, in $100 sneakers (PC's a sneaker junkie-- i know these were not cheapo kicks, definitely a Bodega buy), a $200 NorthFace jacket, D&G sunglasses ... yelling "College is a RIGHT, not for the rich and white." Note: I think this young man was white. 

I get it. I do. College costs a small fortune today. So does rent, milk, bread, gasoline and haircuts. But, college is not a right. College is a privilege; if you are smart, capable and interested in learning, you should be in college. How many of my fellow students did I see that were partying away their parents money? Too many. Did I think they deserved to be there? No. My college roomie, Mandi, had a great sign in our room: $20,000. It was a daily reminder to us about why we were there and the price we were paying.  

Also, what happened to skilled labor and learning a trade? PC started college and left, knowing that his interest level (and capacity at the time to stay in school) was a waste of his money and his parents'. So he left. He worked a lot of jobs, but he made ends meet, he lived on his own and now, he's "skilled labor" and a supervisor. Why did we make it a bad thing if Susie wants to be a hairdresser and Bobby wants to be a plumber? 

It all comes down to each child being a "special snowflake." I don't want to seem harsh (and I'm not a parent, so feel free to come down on my non-mommyness, you wouldn't be the first), but not everyone should go to college. Our society needs people to mow lawns, fix plumbing, build houses, cut hair, pave roads, drive buses, and carry the mail. We need to recognize the good, honest hard work that goes into working a trade. 

My message to our friend at Occupy Boston? You are not the special snowflake your mom told you that you are. And google the Bill of Rights. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

...with the knitting

In the famous words of Oz (and PC): ignore the man behind the curtain.  

That's PC, holding up Livvie's new hat. It's the Temple Cats pattern, gifted to me by a friend, in Cascade 220 Superwash (Sue: toss right into the washer and dryer, but it'd prefer to lie flat to dry). It's hot pink and baby pink and it's perfect for that 4 year old in your life who loves cats.

I have to admit, the braided band makes me giggle. I love it, but braids are one of those things that are 0% intuitive to me when knitting. They never look like they are supposed to until after you've knit a bit beyond them. This is unfortunate because if you don't like the look, it's ripping out good knitting to get to bad.

The yarn. Cascade 220 Superwash gives me fits. I *love* it, but it's not the same gauge as regular Cascade 220, I don't care what they tell me. I knit this hat on US7 and it needs a good blocking over a vase or bowl to even out the colorwork a bit, but I would highly suggest a US6.

So much of my holiday life is 'knitting' but not this year. A few special hats for a few special kids, some non-holiday mittens (hang on, Jack--- I'm perfecting the dino hat and dino mittens for you this year!), and everything else is coming from a shop. Nice shops, but shops nonetheless. It's not that I don't think people will appreciate them (seriously: my SIL's reaction to handknits needs to make youtube... it makes any knitter proud), but the time. Some of the fam & friends will get handknits but some will not.

More tomorrow... I'm thinking we'll discuss something a little lighthearted and something a little politico-- like something I like to call the Snowflake People. :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

...in which I wow you...

...with my ability to blog every.single.blasted.day of November. Yup, it's gonna get "real" around here! And, on the subject of change... be aware that I have purchased a website, am investigating a move to wordpress and have no bloody idea of what I am doing. Like my mom said, 3 hours into getting us lost on a routine trip home from camp... "it'll be fine. Think of it as an adventure. And don't tell your father." 

Today, well, today I am going to tell you that I was damn near late for work because I was listening to Tom Brokaw on the radio. He's pitching his new book and I'm heading to B&N asap to grab it. His new book touches on some rather unpopular ideas and I'm surprised at just how conservative Mr. Brokaw is, but I like it. 

On the knitting & sewing front: ugh. Bags are yet to be completed. The concussion has led to 4 days of non-stop headaches and I've just been unable to deal with the noise that the sewing machine generates. But, tonight... tonight I sew. 

Knitting: continues... Olivia's hat & mittens are done, off to make some for Tori & Brooke, Olivia's little sisters (twins!). I guess the famous cat hat (pattern to be listed on the side bar for download by Thanksgiving) and mouse mittens (also to be a download) have caused a bit of girl-on-girl fighting at my cousin's house, so to each sister goes a cat-hat. I'm hand delivering these because then I get a smooch from Olivia, who gives the best hugs, and I get to see my favorite cousin, Sue. 

Photos tomorrow, if I can catch the light in the morning. 

NaBloPoMo--- yup, one post a day for a month. Be sure to let me know when you get sick of me.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Tell me about yourself..."

Top 10 Interview Questions.

As someone who has had *ahem* jobs, and therefore a LOT of interviews, I consider myself an expert in this, actually. And I have helped coach a few friends through the interview process. 3rd career calling?

The usual suspects:
1. Tell me about yourself. It's not really a question, but a directive, and it's usually what everyone screws up. This is the point in the interview that you let everything fly out that they aren't allowed to ask you: I'm Sally, married, 3 kids, etc... Nope this should be your "elevator pitch": I'm a hard working, diligent widget maker, with a proven track record of applying continual improvement processes in widget making for 15 years.
2. What are your strengths/weaknesses? Has anyone ever said "I'm lazy and take really long lunch breaks" when asked this one? I work too hard and love my job too much. I'm pretty terrible at time management, so I tend to be honest and tell them time management is something that I continually work to improve (note: i don't tell them the starting point, do I?)
3. Describe how you got here in 10 steps or less. Okay, so this gets to a particular type of interview that I normally encounter: logic and reasoning. This actually tells you a lot about how someone thinks and if they can break down their thought process into constituent steps. Good for scientists, not really needed for dock workers.
4. What motivates you? Money. What motivates you?

And now a few of my faves from interviews I've been on....
5. If you could be a small kitchen appliance, which would you be?
...Kitchen Aid mixer b/c I like to stir things up?
6. What quality do you most admire about your pet?
... her ability to sleep 20 hours a day?
7. Can you name the hierarchy of our R&D team?
2nd question... hadn't met anyone yet!
8. We may require that you work overnight, weekends, or holidays without notice... how flexible are you?
umm... well... no notice? None at all?
9. Explain why you should replace me in this position?
1.5 hours into the interview, I found out she had been let go and was staying on for two weeks to find her replacement.
10. Create a fictional product within our product line and pitch it to me.
last question from a start-up company that interviewed me at Starbucks. No product line. No business plan.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I've fallen...

Ugh. Flew down the back steps this morning, all ten of them, and landed on my head. Bump is forming, and the ankle is being heated, per doc suggestion. Concussion is pretty much a guarantee.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


There will be some changes around here soon. Don't worry, nothing too dramatic, but I'm working with a graphic designer tomorrow to determine a new logo & establish a brand for Minestrone Soup. My little reusable ziplock bags (I call them Eco-Zips) are going up for sale at several craft shows and have spread like wildfire via word-of-mouth (mostly my SIL, who's basically been hawking them at the local playground without knowing it-- having a 3 year old who seeks out his snack bag, can open & close it himself and it has awesome dinos on it? Sold to the mommies and nannies at the park!).  So, there will be a little link on the right directly people for purchasing them. I'll have a BUNCH with me at the New England Fiber Festival next weekend too: about 80 to be exact... $4 each. (camera phone being pushy, so no photos today. Woe.)

Also, I've been working on some new mitten patterns, those links will be going up on the side there too. The #s are being worked on and I'm hoping to get some test knitters soon. Photos by Thanksgiving.

So... changes. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ten On Tuesday: Dressin' Up

The 10 best Halloween costumes I've ever seen? Hmm....

  1. Daschunds as hot dogs. I hate costumes on dogs, but this one cracks me up!
  2. Couple dressed as elderly husband & wife, cross-dressed
  3. our friends have passed around an infant Yoda costume, which is adorable.
  4. I made my brother, J, a dog costume once that was pretty outstanding... he won 1st place at two parties that year!
  5. I love me a chubby baby as a pumpkin, a lobster or any other creature!
  6. I was once a bag of jelly beans: balloons stuffed into a clear plastic trash bag. 
  7. My mom dressed me and my brothers as the California Raisins once, also, involved trash bags
  8. My best friend, Sylvie, dresses her baby up in a dragon costume (first her oldest: he wore it twice , and her newest, he'll be in it on Monday!)--- but the costume is SO big and the baby's so small, it's known to friends as the "dragon-eating-the-baby" costume. :) 
  9. a sweet little Indian girl came to our door last year as "Jasmin" from Alladin...I oohed and ahhed over her costume, but she set me straight: it wasn't a costume, it was "what my mom made me wear to my cousin's wedding." lol... well, that's one wedding outfit that did double duty!
  10. and lastly, I loved the year my brother was  mailbox. My mom made him look like a real USPS mailbox... :) 

Remember, if you are trick'or'treating in my neighborhood on Halloween: No Costume, No Candy. As PC said to one kid last year "if you are in a dark hoodie, carrying a sack in the middle of the night, i'm going to assume you are robbing me, not looking for a kit kat!" 

Monday, October 24, 2011

When life gives you apples....

Make applesauce. My applesauce recipe is not fancy. It's not super sweet. It doesn't require a lot of work, but it is delicious. And freezes very well.

Kate's Caramel Apple...Sauce. 
  • 8 medium apples, skins on, cored and cubed
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 7 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
Add everything to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature and pulverize in a food processor.  Makes 8 1-cup servings, at 98 calories per serving. 

I eat it cold, hot, with pork chops, with a spoon... 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My 17 year old self

My 17 year old self would be hard-pressed to recognize me these days, but just in case time-travel does happen, somewhere, somehow, let's discuss what she ought to know.

Dear 17-year old Mini,
1. You're gorgeous and have a kick-ass body. Love it. Ignore the high school boys.  Own your body and love it. Oh, and stay active... it's the key to those great legs. 

2. Look up. Stop looking at your books and homework. Look. Up. At the world. This is a great time, if you let it be. ( you get into college, it's great and you do fine... lighten up)

3. Challenge and push your parents. Mom & Dad are great, but they think you are strong and fragile all at once. Grow up a little and show them what you are made of. 
4. Yell less. Listen more. Yup, even to Mom.  

5. Hug Nana alot. Don't roll your eyes and try to hurry her along. Enjoy her. Hug her. You are going to miss her.

6. Start having coffee with Grampy. (you are going to do this after college, so start now) He loves you and has a lot to teach you. You are going to miss him too. 

7. Don't drink white russians with Heather Goodwin. You will throw up, you will be sick and her dad will know. Oh, and you will both have to clean the driveway. 

8. Take chances. Being afraid is something you come by naturally, but it doesn't have to own you. You spend a lot of time between 31-34 learning not be. 
9. Take typing senior year. It will prove invaluable in your life. 

10. He's not "the one" and you won't remember his last name when you're 34... don't waste senior year on a guy who doesn't like you back. (the "one" really, really likes you. ALOT. In fact, he loves you.  And he's a great kisser.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10 ways to eat pumpkin

She is NOT amused.
No, not that Pumpkin, but pumpkin.

The large orange member of the squash family that we carve up, dice up, puree and spice to our hearts content. The ubiquitous image of October, fall and Halloween. Anyone who has met me knows: I love all things pumpkin. Even so much that I didn't want our cat at the shelter, until Dan said her name was already Pumpkin. Then it was fate. And then she jumped in my arms. Game over. Sign us up.

So, it's no surprise that I like to EAT pumpkin. And I'm happy to share with you my favorite ways to do so...

  1. Pumpkin beer.  Oh, the varieties... our house is lovin' Harpoon's UFO unfiltered Pumpkin Ale, but i'm a die-hard fan of Cambridge Brewing Company's Pumpkin beer. (available at the bar, in the restaurant, in growlers "to-go" and now, your local Boston area packie). 
  2. my alternative to too sweet pumpkin pie: pumpkin fluff pie 
  3. Pumpkin risotto. I had this for lunch today--- yummm.....
  4. Pumpkin Latte (nonfat, 2 Sweet & Low, please!) at Dunkin' Donuts
  5. Green Mountain coffee company, Pumpkin Spice coffee. Available at Mobil gas stations... and i'm usually a Mobil girl during October just for the damn coffee.
  6. pumpkin muffins
  7. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. PC's mom makes the BEST pumpkin chocolate chip cookies EVER. And, I usually get a dozen for my birthday, which I flat out refuse to share, but none so far this year. :(
  8. Edy's Slow Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream. Or go to Christina's in Cambridge and order the following: 2 scoops Pumpkin, 1 scoop Burnt Sugar. OMG. To quote Rachel Zoe: "I die." or Soc's in Saugus. Add chocolate jimmies for some flair. And don't call the sprinkles. 
  9. Thai Spiced Pumpkin soup.
  10. toasted pumpkin seeds... with salt. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winner: Martita!

OMG: this never published on Saturday morning!!! :( Sorry....

Martita... you won! Send me your addy via email: kskaare (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you an awesome prize!

Everyone else... send me your addresses too! I have "booby" prizes for all of us who just couldn't get to Rhinebeck this year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rhinebeck: Unbound

I'm not heading to Rhinebeck this weekend, for so many reasons, but the first being : crowds. Have I ever discussed with you my distaste for crowds? I can handle SPA, I can handle the guild retreat, but Rhinebeck? Well, it needs a full 2 days, with me getting there when the gates open because I need to be in and out of those barns immediately and before The People arrive. The People who push. Shove. Maneuver. Snatch. Pull. Stop in the middle.

Reason #2? Money. Quilting supplies have been creeping in on my yarn budget. And I'm trying to stick with my budget.

Reason #3... space.  I'm out of yarn storage. Yup. I've hit capacity. And now I have to knit it all. That's a LOT of knitting. I'm trying to finish 2 sweaters (adult) before Christmas, 3 kids sweaters, and 4 pair mittens and 2 scarves. Wish me luck. :)

Reason #4... time. I've been traveling for work, traveling for personal and really ready to have a weekend where i'm staying put. But, of course that means I've planned a day out with a girlfriend to go shopping.

So, why aren't you heading to Rhinebeck? I'll draw a winner on Saturday morning... and there will be a nice prize.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten things...

10 things I did last weekend...

1. Turned 34. Never done that before.
2. Slept in a tent for 2 nights (first night was hovering around freezing).
3. Sat by a campfire with my honey.
4. Drank a pumpkin beer, a gray lady beer, and a Leinekugel Oktoberfest beer.
5. Went to the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine.
6. Rode a ferris wheel.
7. Smooched PC at the top (we always do that... don't you?)
8. Watched a chariot race.
9. Started a stranded mitten and knit on a scarf.
10. Finished 3 books.

Yup, I turned 34 over the weekend. It's a bit bittersweet... I feel ahead of and behind my contemporaries all at once.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 things I do every day

Well, I do a lot of things every day, so let's see what I can come up with that might just surprise you. See Jessalu and Carole for some other great ideas for this 10 on Tuesday topic.

  1. Fight my alarm/phone. Yup. Every dang morning. If I'm on vacation, I'm up at 5a.m., but for work? 7 am. 
  2. Pack a lunch. This is for workdays, but I pack my lunch every.single.day. It's not always a sexy lunch, but it's saves me $5-8 per day. And it's healthier. And I have a weird hang-up about eating salad outside of my house.
  3. Make my bed. I don't know why, but it makes me feel better to come home to a made bed. So, every morning, I re-tuck the sheets, straighten the coverlet and fluff the pillows.
  4. Hold my cat. She likes to be held and carried around, so I indulge her while sniffing her head. Her head smells like rain and I don't know why.
  5. Tell PC "no fighting, no biting; be nice to the guys at work!" and "have a wonderful day!" before he leaves for the plant. He's a boss now, so this has actually gotten funnier as he got promoted. 
  6. Answer over 300 emails. Yup. I average 300 email replies per day and 25 phone calls. Needless to say, I am RARELY on the computer at home. or the phone. 
  7. Sing Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. I have no idea why, but it's on permanent loop in my head, and I sing a part of it OUT LOUD every day. It's like a pleasant version of Tourette's. 
  8. Pray. I do this every day, silently, for compassion, tolerance and humility. 
  9. Cook. I cook 99% of the work nights for PC and I. And whatever we're having for dinner is lunch the next day. It's really, really hard to have a new exciting something to put on the table every night. 
  10. Wash my hair. I'm a compulsive hair washer. I hate unwashed hair on my head... it makes me itchy. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday afternoon

The yarn: Noro Silk Garden
Colorway: 337
Needles: us 7, bamboo
Pattern: Molly from classic elite
The place: l'aroma cafe, Newton Ma.
The people: my friend Dora and I, the football widows.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ruffled, stripes and silk...oh my!

I'm knitting. A lot lately, actually. I cast on for this scarf and the next thing i know, eight inches are done. Magic? Perhaps. Getting close to Christmas? Yup, that is probably it. I have two of these to knit this fall, so I better get a move on.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Empowering Young Women

This t-shirt was pulled by J.C. Penny, but really? It never should have made the shelves.
My high school guidance counselor, when I asked her for college advice, gave me college info on nursing schools and teacher colleges. When I told her I wanted to be a biologist, she corrected me and said "biology teacher." No. A biologist. She looked at me and said "Why? You'll never get married if you're a biologist, teachers have good schedules for raising families." I graduated college in 1995, not 1895. This "educator" looked past my goals & aspirations and straight at my ovaries and mammary glands. 

I'm watching the young women on my street grow up : from playing baby dolls & teddy bear tea parties on the front steps, to a Justin Beiber fan club in a refrigerator box, to their first dances and the boys walking behind them to the bus stop... with a lot of giggling involved. I listen and hear their comments "school's hard." And "I think I'm in the wrong Math." What message are they getting at school? The three of them, for all appearances, are nice young women, with good communication skills (I could use a lot less "umms" but hey: they are 13) and are quite smart. Are they being championed in the classroom? Or has reality tv and being celebritized for being "not smart" winning out? Do you think Snooki aced her math quizzes? Or do you think someone gave up on her? 

Just a rambling from the brain of Mini. I'm knitting. I'll take some photos tonight or tomorrow. My first experience knitting with Noro Silk Garden, and yes... I've already had a knot. *grr*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Headlines for 1977

In 1977... ( I was born October 9)

  1. Elvis died, so did Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby
  2. The Bruins lost to Montreal in the Stanley Cup
  3. The Yankees won the World Series
  4. Star Wars came out in movie theaters: so did Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind (a much better movie, in my opinion)
  5. The Apple II computer came out (with a color screen!!)
  6. Jimmy Carter (the peanut farmer) was President (inaugurated in 1977) and grants amnesty to draft dodgers from the Vietnam Conflict (did immigration from Canada increase as well?)
  7. Son of Sam serial killer is killing couples in NYC (on orders from a dog) and subsequently captured in NYC
  8. Inflation hits 11% (wow)
  9. the Love Boat airs (I only remember it as re-runs)
  10. the U.S. Department of Energy is created

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

I'm always looking for ways to save a buck, so Carole's ten on Tuesday was just the "umph" I needed to break the blogging break!

Ten Things I Buy Each Week:
1. Groceries.  A cop-out yes, but PC and I shop once a week and it's NOT cheap!
2. Manicures. Yup. I'm that girl. Mine costs $12 + $3 tip and includes a shoulder & neck massage. It's my 1/2 hour of me time every Saturday morning
3. Dunkin' coffee. Every day on the way home from work, PC or I stop and pick up the Dunkin's. It's a VERY expensive habit (not Starbucks expensive, but it's getting there!) as it runs us $42 a week, minimum...
4. ebooks... I read ALOT. And really quickly, so I am constantly on the "shop" option of my nook color. 
5. Gas. I have a short commute (roundtrip, less than 10miles), but i'm the primary driver in the family and my commute involves 12 stop lights in either direction, so it's not great on the mpgs).
6. pastry & coffee... my Sunday knitting buddy and I meet at a cafe and well, it has yummy pastry. 
7. Nutrition services & trainer: I swap out the weeks I pay for them, but they are both less than $50 and are essential to my well being.
8. McDonald's diet coke. For some God-only-knows reason, diet coke from McDonald's tastes the best. 
9. Lunch. I only buy once a week and I'm trying to break this habit.
10.... I can't think of a #10, so leave your #10 here! :) 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


I've been cheating on knitting. I should hang my head in shame and just be out with it. I've, I've... been quilting. Yup. And a little fabric stash has begun. I think I know the root of the problem I've been having with knitting: lack of challenge and I needed a new tactile experience.

the fabrics are Moda Charm Pack in "dogwood" and Kona white solid.
An innocent baby quilt for the girl twin in a new set of twins within our extended "family" of friends that are family. The boy twin's quilt is being laid out this weekend.

I perfected my points meeting, creating and installing a prairie point border (which I love--- how sweet is that?), and FMQ (free motion quilting) on the outer border.

the fabric is Keepsake Quilting's 2 1/2 inch strips in "not Christmas".

The above is my mom's bday quilt (which was Sunday, btw... quilting and knitting are the same in that you overestimate easily what you can accomplish in a week!)-- she loves it. Last night, PC helped me lay out the backing, batting and top. I'm pin-basting it tonight and then beginning the quilting.

Will I stop knitting? No. But for right now, quilting is pretty fun and I'm enjoying the process. It's not quite as portable as knitting, so once football season hits and my friend Dora & I revive the "football widow club" for Sunday knitting, the needles will be clicking away.