Rhinebeck Bus Trip 2014

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Being Thankful

I'm thankful all year long.  However, this topic always comes up this time of year.  Afterall, Thanksgiving is on Thursday. 

This topic also comes up in my professional life.  I work with people with addictions.  Every month, we have a Life Skills Workshop for our clients.  One hour of the workshop is a seminar - on life skills, parenting, or drug & alcohol topics.  The November workshop is always entitled, Gratitude.  Being thankful, having gratitude is a huge part of recovery.

I believe it's also huge for people who are not addicts. 

Gratitude keeps us centered and wards off jealousy and negativity.  Grateful people not only count and take joy in their blessings, they also influence others with words and deeds by deliberately displaying their pleasure and appreciation to those who should receive it.

Here are 10 things I'm thankful for:

1.  My daughter.  She is smart, and kind, and she has a wicked sense of humor.  I am thankful for her every day.  I have become a better person because of her.  This is a teenager who saw a girl standing on the road leading out of Wal Mart, asking for money.  Kyra was with my Mom, and she wanted to give the girl money - all of the money that she had at home, that she had been saving for something else.  My Mom told Kyra to wait until I got home from work.  When Kyra & I went back to Wal Mart, the girl was gone.  Kyra cried and was so upset the rest of the night.  She's a very special person.

2.  My family.  And by family, I mean my parents and my daughter.  My family is always there for me.  I appreciate that.  My parents help me out with raising Kyra.  I know that, if Kyra's school closes early (usually due to weather), my Dad will pick her up (he works nights), so that I don't have to take off work.

3.  I'm thankful for my job.

4.  I'm thankful for music - and that I'm able to hear.  I love music.  Music is a part of my life.  Songs express how I'm feeling.  Some songs remind me of places I've lived, or of people I've known.  Some songs remind me of people who are still in my life.  I love music - but don't play any instruments and I don't read music.  I went to public school in Southern California in the 80's, when arts were being cut out of the schools.  I often wonder if things would have been different if I had been exposed to music (education) in elementary school.

5.  I'm thankful for my daughter's education.  In her school, she is taught art and music.  She is also taught about caring for others.

6.  I'm thankful for books.  I really cannot understand how people can go through life without reading.  I read everything!  Cereal boxes, stuff on the internet, books, magazines, signs, I've even been known to read the important information in the front of a phone book.  But, books!  Books take you places you (may never) go!  There are times that I'm reading a book, and am surprised when I stop reading and realize that I'm not actually in the place I was reading about (or that the weather's different).  I could totally do without TV, as long as I have books to read.

7.  I'm thankful for knitting.  What do non-knitters do while they wait?!?  And how do they stay focused in meetings???  Also, I kind of look forward to winter.  One, because I can wear my hand-knit items.  Two, because there's always the possibility of a blizzard - that means that I'll be able to stay home & knit (& read)!!!

8.  I'm thankful that I was born in this country.  While I feel that we have many problems here, I feel that I am very lucky to have been born here.  I am a US citizen, not because I did anything special, but because I was born here.  And I benefit every single day from living here.

9.  I'm thankful that I lived all over the US as a kid.  My Dad is retired Navy.  I'm thankful for the people I met, and also because my horizons were expanded by having lived different places.  I feel that I'm more open to different kinds of people than I would have been if I had lived in Lancaster County all of my life.

10.  I'm thankful for my friends.  I'm an introvert, so I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones I have are there for me.  I know that I can count on them, and that's important to me.

Being thankful, having gratitude is something I think about all year long.  I especially think about it this time of year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I often refer to Christmas as The Fourth-Quarter Earnings Holiday.  I feel that it has become all about retailers having a good 4th Quarter (take, for example, the fact that many stores are opening on Thanksgiving day).  Also, retailers have taken the 12 days of Christmas (which start Christmas day & go into the New Year) and have made it the 60 Days Before Christmas.  But that's another rant.  Today, I want to talk about introverts and this Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Once it's November, I feel like we're all on a roller coaster.  There are parties - Christmas parties and Holiday parties - from every aspect of your life (work! school! church! youth group! Girl Scouts! sports!).  There are gifts to buy and food to buy (and prepare).  There are people telling you it's the MOST Wonderful time of the Year and that you should be happy and loving and jolly.  And all of this makes introverts...exhausted.

You see, introverts are drained of energy when they're with other people.  If there are a lot of social events close together (say, something every night, or a few times throughout the week), our energy reserves become depleted and we're exhausted - and, most of us get a little (or a lot) grumpy when our energy reserves are low.  It's hard to be jolly and happy and loving when you're exhausted and drained of energy. 

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you may be an extrovert.  Extroverts have their energy reserves filled up by being around people.  If extroverts spend too much time by themselves, they feel tired and bored and sad.  So, having a lot of social events is exciting and energizing for extroverts.

But, for me, this time of the year is so draining. 

I have a small family and I spend time with them all year long.  So, "the holidays" is not some special time where I see people I only see once a year (or so). 

I didn't realize, when I had my daughter, that kids add to the holiday social events.  Now there's not just my events (work, friends, church), but also hers (school, friends, youth group).

I start feeling the dread in October, when retailers start pushing Christmas stuff.  By November, when people can barely wait for Thanksgiving to be over with so that they can get ALL THE GREAT DEALS on BLACK FRIDAY, I'm feeling dread and tiredness.  By December, I'm just hoping to be able to hold it together til January.

My ideal Christmas goes like this:

Christmas Eve - We attend the candlelight service at church.  We sing the Christmas hymns (not songs about Santa or Rudolph or Frosty or mommy kissing someone, or a hippo).  By the time we get home, it's after midnight - Merry Christmas! 

We go to sleep and then wake up in the morning to exchange gifts.  This consists of me, my daughter, and my parents.  My Mom usually cooks.  Christmas day is spent relaxing and eating and playing with our gifts (which, for me & my daughter, often include books). 

No traveling.  No rushing.  No having to go to 68 different houses.  Just a quiet, relaxing, un-rushed day.  We don't spend a ton of money (or go into debt) for Christmas.  We get each other gifts we really want.  We are thankful for what we have.

Now, I need to get back to planning what food item I'm going to take to which gathering, and, also, how many gifts do I need to buy & to knit.  Also, the sweater knitting has been suspended because I am currently doing birthday/Christmas knitting.  It started out as NO deadline knitting, moved to knitting a hat, and has escalated into knitting a hat, finishing one whole fingerless mitt, the thumbs for three pairs of fingerless mitts, and a pair of fingerless mitts (it's kind of like, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"). 

Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

Monday, November 18, 2013


Weeks have been flying by for me.  I think about blog posts, but don't manage to do them, and then it's Tuesday (& time for Ten on Tuesday).

Part of the problem is that some of the posts I have in my head involve pictures that are on a digital camera.  I'm unable to save those pictures with my work computer & I don't actually have a computer at home.  My daughter has one, and I can borrow it, but it usually needs charged and just ends up seeming like a lot of work.

Another part of the problem is that I've been sick since the end of September (sinus infections(s), ear infection, bronchitis, strep throat).  I also had an unfortunate side effect from one of the medicines I was prescribed.  A lot of my free time has been spent resting/trying to get well.

My blue, Custom Fit sweater should have been done by now.  It has been such a quick knit!  But I found myself not spending much time knitting while I was sick.  Last night, I finished the front (the back was already finished), and I sewed the shoulder seams together.  All that's left is to pick up the stitches for the sleeves and knit them in the round.  That will be a quick knit, too.  The sleeves are only 3/4 length, and they're all stockinette stitch (which is all knit stitch when knitting in the round). I tend to speed-knit when I'm knitting in the round - which is why I've always loved knitting hats.

I love the Custom Fit pattern - it's so simple!  I feel like I could knit hundreds of this pattern (so that I have my favorite sweater in all of my favorite colors).  The only drawback is the yarn.  I just don't have an endless supply of Miss Babs Yowza - Whatta Skein yarn (I know, I feel it's very unfair, too!).  My Christmas list this year may consist of yarn/yarn gift certificates.  Who knew I would love knitting sweaters so much?!?

That's all I have for today.  :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is: 10 Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes.  Well.  I'm vegetarian, so Thanksgiving, for me, is all about the side dishes!

1.  Mashed potatoes.  I love mashed potatoes any time of year, however, we always have them on Thanksgiving.  I'm talking real potatoes - not instant.  I like them with butter and some seasoned salt.

2.  Candied sweet potatoes.  We always have these on Thanksgiving, too.  I like them cut in half and cooked with brown sugar and butter.  I'm not a fan of the marshmallow sweet potato dishes.  A sauce made from brown sugar and butter is perfect to me.

3.  Cranberry relish.  I make this with whole cranberries, some orange zest, Grand Manier, sugar and walnuts.  Sometimes I add apple, too.  It depends on my mood.

4.  Green veggies.  I love most green veggies.  For Thanksgiving, we usually have green beans, broccoli, or brussel sprouts.  Since most of the other dishes are carbs, this dish is a must.

5.  Filling.  You may know it as stuffing or dressing.  I believe there are subtle differences between each of these terms.  But here in Lancaster, we call it filling.  Again, I'm vegetarian, so I only eat filling that has not been cooked in the bird (I never eat filling at a restaurant).  I love filling how my Mom makes it - bread cubes, egg, onion, celery, salt & pepper.  It then gets baked.  It is SO yummy!

6.  Baked pineapple.  This is kind of like bread pudding with pineapple added to it.  I'm not a fan of bread pudding, but I love baked pineapple.  It's crispy on the outside (and kind of buttery), the inside is soft, but not slimey. 

7.  Fruit salad.  We make fruit salad with yummy fruit - grapes (usually green and red), oranges, apples, bananas, cherries, kiwi, fresh pineapple, and whatever else we're hungry for.

8.  Pecan pie.  This may be my all-time favorite pie.  Lancaster County has many bakeries that make baked goods that taste as good as homemade, so even if there's no time to bake a pie, we are still able to have (good) pie.

9.  Sweet potato pie.  My friend's mom makes these every year and they're so good!

10.  Pumpkin roll.  This is a dessert that's really standard in Lancaster County.  It's basically a pumpkin cake (baked on a large, flat pan, so that it's thin), spread with a sugar/cream cheese mixture, and then rolled up and sliced - like  a jelly roll.  This is another item that is easy to bake, but if you don't have time, there are many local bakeries that make it.

So, yeah...Thanksgiving is all about the carb side dishes here in Lancaster County.  We also often have pineapple upside down cake (which I love), and baked corn (which I don't love) for our Thanksgiving meal.  There are also snack type foods:  celery, carrots, olives, pickles, dates stuffed with peanut butter.  Oh!  And rolls.  Warm rolls.  With butter (not margarine).  Lancaster County has many dairy farms, so most of the people who grew up here eat real butter.

That's my list.  I know that I included desserts with the side dishes, but to me, they're the same thing.  :-)

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes??

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ten Thoughts on Daylight Savings Time

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is Ten Thoughts on Daylight Savings Time.  Here are mine:

1.  YAY!!!!  An extra hour of sleep!  I look forward to this day the rest of the year.  When we "spring forward" & lose an hour of sleep, I am messed up for several weeks.  I'm tired, I feel off.  It's horrible.  And the "extra" daylight doesn't make me feel any better about losing an hour - especially an hour of sleep! 

Apparently "losing" time is very hard for me.  Whenever I travel from PA to CA, I'm fine going to California & "gaining" 3 hours.  But when I have to come back to Pennsylvania & "lose" 3 hours?  It messes me up.  Every. Time.

2.  I have a hard time remembering which devices automatically change the time & which I have to change.  I "think" I know that my cell phone changes automatically, but then I always worry that I'm wrong and that I'll show up somewhere the next day at the wrong time.

I used to have this clock radio that I bought in the 90's.  It automatically changed the time when it needed to.  That was great until the Powers That Be changed when we change our clocks.  After that, the clock radio would change whenever it was programmed to, and I'd have to correct it, only to change it manually weeks later when it was (the new) time to change clocks.  I ended up getting rid of that clock radio.  It was too confusing.

3.  Generally, I love the start of Fall & even the thought of Winter.  I live in South Central Pennsylvania and we just don't get hard winters.  We have (maybe) two snow storms per Winter.  As a child, I live in North Chicago for three years.  North Chicago has some Winter weather!

Fall, and Winter, for me, are cozy times.  I love sitting in my house, cozy (usually wrapped in blankets because our house is on the chilly side), knitting or reading.  Maybe drinking a cup of hot tea.  Relaxing.  I love to watch the Lord of the Rings movies and knit (all day).  I don't have a big need to be out around a lot of people, so staying home, with my family, is great.  I always hope for a really good snow storm that shuts the county down, so that my daughter is off of school and I'm off of work and we can spend a cozy day at home.

4.  Last night I left work around 6:00 and it was so dark!  I felt like I was going home at midnight or something.  The darkness does make it  seem much later than it really is.  This is a little unnerving for me, mainly because I don't have a very good concept of time anyway.  For instance, I have no idea (unless I'm specifically looking at a clock) if 5 minutes have passed, or if an hour has passed.  So, early darkness makes it even harder for me to know what time it is.

5.  Every year, I wonder why do we change the time?!?  I don't think we should.  I think the time should be the time, and should never be changed. 

On facebook the other day, I saw a saying that went something like this:  only the government could cut off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and say that the blanket is now longer.

6.  The day after the time changes, when I get in my car, I realize I have to change the clock in my car.  Then I wonder if I remember how to do it.  I spend a few minutes thinking about this, then I realize that I do know how to change the time and that it isn't as difficult as I thought.  I go through this every time we change the time. 

7.  When I get to work, I realize I have to change the time on the office phones and on the wall clock.  The wall clock is simple.  I need the manual to change the time on the office phones.  It's annoying.

8.  Worry.  I always worry that I have the wrong day.  You know, do I change the time Saturday night or Sunday night.  Am I sure I have the right night? 

9.  Sometimes I stay awake, watching my cell phone, so that I can see the time change (so that I know for sure that it changes itself, and that I have the right day).

10.  Despite all of the worries that come along with changing time, I like Daylight Savings Time. Extra sleep, a perfect time of year for knitting.  Those things really cancel out any negative thoughts I have about changing time.