Stasia's Place Of Grace


Friday, December 06, 2002

Grateful For...

Those things on my feet are my Orvis ram slippers...

Walking Chester around the path in our yard, stopping to wait for him, closing my eyes, feeling the crisp winter wind on my face, not feeling the wind on my cheeks and neck because of my ultra-warm "dogsledding" hat from Wintergreen (worth every penny!)

Listening with eyes closed and hearing only a Blue Jay, a tractor moving hay at the farm behind our yard, the wind rustling in the leaves, and the tree branches squeaking as they rub against each other. There is movement, but so much peace, even during the afternoon hours of this sunny day. It is amazing what you can hear when you just stop and shut your eyes...

A Christmas CD of solo guitar music that our realtor sent us as a "Happy Holidays, please keep me in mind" gift. He does it every year. It is a great marketing tool (having worked in Marketing, I can appreciate that!) and it actually gets used. I love it!

Having a new knitting magazine sitting here waiting for me. The anticipation of sitting down with it and a cup of tea is so intoxicating that I have kept it up for 24 hours now, just waiting for the perfect time, when I know I won't be interrupted by husband or dogs... perhaps tonight, when Jeff is playing hockey and the dogs are settled for the evening, I'll plug in the fireplace, make a pot of orange spice tea, grab a couple of my fresh-baked cookies, and have some time just to myself. Though I might not want to make anything from the issue, it'll inspire me to get moving on my works in progress.

I wrapped garland and white Christmas lights around the firescreen on the (fake) fireplace and it looks very Dickens-ian! Sill wish I had a woodstove like Linda or Kary, though!

Cut-out Christmas cookies that turned out really good. (Take heart, Nan, they're easy peasy!) Here's the recipe:

    from Family Circle's Holiday Cookie Cookbook supplement, 11/1/96
    by Maureen Luchejko

    Makes: 32
    Prep: 10 min
    Refrigerate: 1 hour
    Bake: 350 for 10-12 minutes.

    3 c. all-purpose flour
    2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    2 tsp. ground ginger
    1 tsp. ground cloves
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
    1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
    1.5 c. sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 egg white mixed with 1 T. water

    1. Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg and cardamom in bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture. Divide dough in half, flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour. (I just stuck it in Tupperware containers.)

    2. Heat oven to 350. Coat 3.5 to 4.5 cookie molds with nonstick cooking spray. (I didn't use molds, I used cutters, and they worked great. I just put them in flour in-between cutting cookies - no spray.)

    3. On lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll out half of dough 1/4 inch thick. Press cutters/molds gently into dough. Gently pull cookies out of cutters/molds. Place on ungreased (mine were non-stick, insulated) baking sheets. Brush with egg white (I didn't use - mine are plain or use water/confectioner's sugar/vanilla frosting). Reroll scraps. Repeat with remaining dough.

    4. Bake in 350 oven 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Remove to racks to cool. Store at room temperature or freeze.

The close of Hanukkah. Click here to see Jeff lighting all the candles.

It has been a fun celebration this year. I love how the menorah grows brighter and brighter with the passing nights and addition of candles. It's practically blinding by this time! I gave Jeff several books on Judaism and even Yiddish, so that we can learn more about his new-found family history (his father found out last year that an ancestor was Jewish - something we had not known before, and a fact which sparked our interest in starting to celebrate Hanukkah each year.)

I had a phone conversation with my father - we haven't spoken in a couple of years now - and it went very, very well.

His newly-adopted step-daughter is now dating his grandson (by the son of his first wife, my elder half-brother) which, if they get married, would make my dad Dad-Grandpa and make my nephew's father Uncle-Dad, but that is a whole 'nother thing...

The kids seem happy and are dealing with their long-distance relationship (Las Vegas/Maui to Baltimore) maturely, in any case. But doesn't it just sound strange?

One nice thing is that when I don't get along with my own mom, at least I now have a step-mom... even if she is only about eight years older than I! (She's very sweet, though.)

I was able to catch a sick bird and take it to the Wildlife In Need Center for treatment. It had conjunctivitis - one eye was swollen shut - and it is a very contagious condition, so the woman at the Center said it was good I brought it in.

I knew it was ill when it let me approach it as it sat in the feeder, and didn't go anywhere despite my reaching out to touch it.

I caught it by tossing a light towel over it as it fluttered around on the ground, then putting it into a paper grocery bag in the garage, and then putting it into the car (and not running the heater, so I wouldn't shock it).

I'm grateful the WINC is around to help wildlife, and that I was able to get the bird without injuring it further.

To be back on the Spindlers list, which I have missed. There is a lot of mail to keep up with, true. But I have found that it also provides a welcome respite from the rest of my day to sit quietly and catch up with everyone. I have to learn to balance online/e-mail-reading time with offline, real-life productive time. I need to make time for both - for the social aspects and sense of community both have to offer, without the stressors of too much involvement in either. I must learn to be more consistent in setting boundaries, not getting caught up in the moment, and sticking to my daily plan of the things I need to do in order to gain/maintain good emotional and physical health.

I am getting better at it. I am doing well with setting limitations with family members, with not getting caught up in "icky" situations (others' manufactured problems), and with knowing how much time is enough to spend on any one thing (baking, reading, fiberarts, e-mail, housework, self-care).

Things are going well. There are Christmas lights and Hanukkah candles twinkling in my house tonight. There is warmth and a sense of balance in my heart. There is hope despite the darkness of the night outside. I have comfort food to eat, I have relaxing guitar music playing, I have a fire (albeit a fake one!) lit, I have four well-behaved puppy dogs snoozing, and I have a good husband on his way home from work. I have wonderful friends who stop by to read this silly journal.

I wish you these same feelings tonight! Happy last night of Hanukkah!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Happy Hanukkah!

We're having a great time celebrating Hanukkah! To see what we've been up to, please click here!

My mother came by for our "big" Hanukkah dinner tonight. It was relaxed and everything went well. I think it is because my family didn't celebrate Hanukkah, so there are no holiday expectations to live up to!

The latkes (potato pancakes) were wonderful and we all ate far too many!

Here is some helpful information on celebrating Hanukkah, and on how to make and use advent wreath.

I received a wonderful early Christmas gift this weekend...

A Tasmanian Myrtle Burlwood Nina Spindle!

This is from my dear friends, Linda and Tom Diak of Grafton Fibers. Tom is the maker of these fantastic spindles. I can't say enough good things about them. I love the different shiny finish on this one!

What a wonderful and unexpected surprise! "Hanukkah Claus" was very good to me this year! I was reading an article on Tasmania the day it arrived - how strange is that?

I'm grateful to be making some progress in the "present room." I have separate piles made for each "giftee," ready to be wrapped and shipped.

I hope that soon I'll be able to get in our music room and play my recorder again! I'm looking forward to playing holiday songs with Jeff (he plays cello), and I hope that as soon as I'm not ill any more and I won't infect my instruments, I'll be able to pick them up again.

Just have to clear those gifts off the floor first! Thankfully Mom took hers with her when she left tonight.

Jeff and I are each making batches of holiday cookies, and we're planning to include some with our families' gift boxes. My nephew even asked me to send some... and how could I refuse a request? Especially when I have all these fun cookie cutters from Downtown Dough to break in!

Jeff also surprised me with a new, big, rock Maple rolling pin from a trip to Williams-Sonoma today (his favorite place!) I can't wait to try it out - it's a vast improvement from the antique pin I was trying to use yesterday. "The right tool for the right job," Jeff always says!

We have made pfefferneuse, gingersnaps, honeycakes, and sugar cookies. I'm going to try Norwegian spice cookies tomorrow if I have the energy, and Jeff's making chocolate crackles now...

I'm grateful that Jeff and I discovered we enjoy baking together. We can't both cook at the same time without arguing over seasonings and stove heat, but baking is relaxing, and fun to share. I think this will become a tradition for us!

Fiberarts Progress

  • Almost finished with the second front half of Jeff's Grandpa's blue knit Christmas vest. Ready to do the shoulder and neck decreases.

  • Making a little progress on the Cranberry Cable Patons Kroy socks. I'm loving doing them... just have been focusing more on the vest due to the Christmas deadline. They are not going quickly, but every stitch of these that I find time to do is enjoyable. I really like this yarn.

  • Have not yet finished warping the loom for the Treenway Silks silk scarf kit. Have realized the scarves will not be finished for the holidays, but that's ok... then I don't have to give them away! (Hee hee!)

  • Picked up stitches around Jeff's new kippah/yarmulke and ended up crocheting some more rows. It no longer looks like a flat doily, but has a nicely tapered, properly cupped edge. Much better! He now looks like a Jewish man instead of a Catholic woman when he wears it.

  • Made a beaded necklace and two beaded ID card holders for my sisters for holiday gifts. Then realized why I gave up jewelry-making a while back... my fingers are not liking working with the little bits and pieces.

    Maybe I will give someone this new collection of beads and findings for a holiday gift, and let them enjoy doing it instead! (Linda, how's that needle felting, by the way? Hee hee!)

    I'm a firm believer in the motto if it ain't fun, don't do it... Life is too short and energy too precious to spend time doing things I don't enjoy. Fortitude is very good in work and education, but dreading a hobby isn't my cup of tea. If you feel the same way, join the AbandonedCrafts Yahoo Group!

Currently Reading...

Still trying to finish up Fanny Burney's "Evelina". I like it - it's funny and very Jane Austen-esque - but it's quite long and slow-going. I'm trying to rush through so I can get on to book group books: "Anna Karenina" and "A Prayer For Owen Meany".

I am also reading snippets from "KnitLit", edited by Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf (Three Rivers Press). If there's one thing I enjoy more than actually doing fiberarts, it's reading about fiberarts, and this book has some interesting and inspiring tales. My quote of the week comes from page 42:

    "There is a difference between fear and danger. You [are] not in any danger. It is only your fear allowing you to believe you [are] in danger."

I need to remember that when I have a panic attack!

FMS Progress

After enjoying my book groups so much, I thought I'd try to join a local Fibromyalgia support group.

The local one is apparently now defunct. But, by chance, I received notice of another group at another hospital in the mail this weekend! It's a pretty far drive, and FMS people don't do real well out on cold winter nights, but I will try to get there. I think it would be helpful - along with my continued medical monitoring, therapy sessions, medication, and alternative treatments. Every little bit helps!

I also plan to focus on getting back into my stretching/strengthening routine this week, now that this horrible cold/sinus/throat thing seems to be tapering off a little...

Sleep has not been good lately, so will work on becoming more relaxed in the evenings to encourage better rest and health.

And no more latkes! Greasy, carbo-y food isn't good for me! (But yummy!)

Recommended Listening

Jeff got a new CD from "Hannukah Claus." It is "Jacaras: 18th Century Spanish Baroque Guitar Music of Santiago De Murcia". What a mouthfull! But it's a great and very unusual recording and I've enjoyed listening to it all day... until dinner time, when we put on Klezmer music for our Hanukkah feast!

I hope you're living in the moment, taking things one day at a time during the busy holiday season, finding some new things to celebrate, making some new traditions, and going with the flow... it makes this time of year so much more enjoyable! Have a wonderful week and be kind to yourself!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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