Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye Grandmom

Monday morning at 7:30 am my Mom called to tell me she'd just gotten a call from my Uncle John saying Grandmom had passed away in her sleep. My Dad was actually undergoing hernia surgery so we found out before he did that his mother had died. Does this technically make him an orphan, since his dad died years ago? Can a person be orphaned at 67 years old?

My Grandmom was a small, firey, fiesty, mouthy German lady with a big name; Dorothy Charlotta Schaediger Ross Zadlo. Her peers called her Dot. She was 93 years old.

I found out 3 weeks ago that her favorite color was purple. I'd always thought it was blue.

Grandmom had 6 children, my Dad is the next to youngest of them. She had, as far as I know, 18 living grandchildren and upwards of 25 great-grandchildren. Maybe even some great-great grandchildren, since most of the grandkids are in their 40s & 50s and the great grandkids are mostly around my age in their 20s. My Dad was a late bloomer.

Until recently Grandmom drove a little red Cheverolet, with lead feet and lots of brakes. Everyone else on the road was a "jackass" or a "dummy."

When I was a teenager my Dad would take me to her house for the afternoon and I would help her with chores. I ran her acient, heavy (and when the self-propel kicked in, posessed) vacuum and scrubbed her plastic covered patio furniture which never any looked better when I was done. Sometimes I would sweep her driveway. She always forced me to take a $5 when I left.

For lunch we would eat real deli-sciled ham on crusty bakery rolls with Helman's mayonaise and watch Matlock while drinking gingerale from the can. They were the best sandwhiches I have ever eaten. I don't like mayonaise.

When I was born she told my parents that Desiree Nicole was too big a name for such a small baby, and from then on only called me Dolly. Even my birthday cards were addressed to "Dolly Ross." The card I got for my 21st birthday was addressed to "Desiree Bowman." When I turned 21, she'd given me my grown-up name.

She drove from NJ (where she moved about 2002 to live with my Uncle John) to be at my wedding. They also came for my son Jeremiah's second birthday party, the first time she ever met him. They visited again last fall when Hannah was a baby. (See the above pictures).

I was not sad when I learned of her death. As I write this, I am getting sadder by the minute. When I told Jeremiah on Monday that Grandmom, Grumpy's Mom, had gone to live with Jesus he said "Okay." I told him I just wanted him to know because now he only had 6 Nana's instead of 7. He said "Mama, even if a person goes to live with Jesus, they are still a Nana." He's precious.

Living in another state 12 hours away, Grandmom hadn't been a big part of my life for several years. She called occasionally, or I called, or talked to her at Mom's but not nearly enough. When was the last time I told her I loved her? Did I tell her that the last time I talked to her?

93 years is a long time to have a full life but I suddenly can't help thinking that my brothers, sisters and kids will never get to hug her tiny little, frail frame. To kiss her papery soft cheek. I won't ever get another birthday card with 3 crisp dollar bills stapled inside; neither will they. Funny how that was so weird but now it seems like it was so special.

The one joy, other than the memories we have, is that she did love Jesus. My Mom said Grandmom was in her 70s when she told her, she'd been a member of the Lutheran church all her life. Every Sunday she'd attend, but never before had a preacher made her understand that Jesus loved her.

I don't really know how to close this blog post, except to say Goodbye for now to my Grandmom and to pray that everyone enroute to her funeral (my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins) have a safe journy and the Lord will bless them with comfort.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chocolate Snowcap Cookies...again

I shared the recipe for these last year but since it's burried in my archives and they are delicious (allbeit NOT on a low sugar diet!!) I thought I'd share again.

Tonight I made a batch of these and my family went through a whole dozen before the 2nd set of trays came out of the oven!

Chocolate Snowcap Cookies:
Makes about 11 dozen (I never end up with this many, but I make big cookies)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly (2/3 bag choc. chips)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling

Heat oven to 350°.
Chop chocolate into small bits, and melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water (or microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds until melted). Be sure not to get even a DROP of water in the chocolate because if you do it will ruin it! Set aside to cool.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt.
Beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add the melted chocolate.

With mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk until just combined. The last addition of flour you will want to switch to a stiff spoon.

Dust hands with powdered sugar. Using a t-spoon dipped in powdered sugar, dip up balls of dough and roll them in more powdered sugar.

**Alternately or if your kitchen is warm, on a clean countertop sprinkled generously with powdered sugar, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using more confectioners' sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss in confectioners' sugar, a few at a time. **

Using your hands, roll the pieces into a ball shape. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners' sugar again to coat completely.

Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a foil, parchment, or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until cookies have flattened and the sugar splits, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Note: I always end up having to chill the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes before I roll them into balls. Otherwise the dough will stick to your hands like no tomorrow! But these are totally worth every bit of "trouble".

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spin Along Mittens

I've been knitting my Aunt Bev some mittens from the yarn I got from WoolyHands' Spin Along. I knit almost a whole mitten yesterday but then I frogged the whole thing because it was too big! Not to be detered I cast on again with less stitches and started to knit.

This is what I've come up with! I LOVE them and I think she will too! The tan merino yarn I had to substitute with for the finger tips and thumb looks much better in person that in does in the pictures for some reason. I decreased twice between the thumb and fingertips to mske the fingers more fitted and less bulky.

I cast on 32 stitches, joined in the round and knit 2, purl 2 for the ribbing for 10 rows.
Knit for 8 more rows and on stitch number 32 I knit the front and back of the stitch to increase 1.
Continued this process for 8 rows so that I effectively increased 8 stitches for the thumb.
Placed those new 8 stitches on another needle to hold them and knit 7 more rows.
On the 8th row I knit every 7th and 8th stitch together to decrease evenly and slightly.
Knit 5 more rows, on row 6 I decreased every 6th and 7th stitch.
Knit until I ran out of the spun along yarn and switched to the tan merino. I think it was 5 rows until I cinched and tied off.

I wear a woman's size large glove and my hand is 7.5" long. I just had to try the mittens on occasionally to see how much farther I had to go. These were VERY quick to knit. If knitting while watching TV they only take an hour or two each. The yarn is average worsted but is think and thin. The needles are size 4.5mm which I think is a 7.

Happy Knitting!

And the hits keep comin...

Right now I'm fondly remembering the days of having maintenance men on call at our appartment complex. Our tub had been drainging rather slowly as of late, something my dear husband blames on my ever-lengthening hair that falls out fairly easily. I picked him up a bottle of some Drain-O type stuff he likes to use Friday and Satruday morning he tried using it on the tub (we've done this before with no problem.)

It never drained.

He took a quick shower anyway before work yesterday morning and by bedtime last night it still hadn't drained. So today he went out and bought an auger/snake plumber thingie and tried that.

No dice.

Thankfully we have another free standing shower downstairs, stuck almost as an afterthought next to our washer and dryer. I used that to shower Jeremiah and couldn't figure out why he cried the whole time until I showered in it and it was like being beaten to death by a geyser. I told Tony our next move is to get a low-flow shower head for it because honestly I think it dumped 400 gallons of water on me in my 2 minute shower. In which I didn't get to shave anything because THAT shower wasn't draining quickly either and it only has a 2.5" lip around it to hold water and it was almost full when I stepped out into the freezing basement.

To find Tony had set up this blow up firehouse my MIL got Jeremiah. It has a continual air pump that keeps it afloat, kind of like those bouncy house things. Tony and both kids were playing in it. I kept trying to get a pic of Tony but Jeremiah, the terd he is sometimes, kept sticking his head in the way! Hannah had great fun running around in it until she ran out and into the shower, still wearing her tights, and got her feet wet.

She got "bath" in the kitchen sink because I wasn't sure I could keep her standing upright in the scary shower downstairs.

Before we came up from the basement I scraped some more paint off the antique hutch that was left in the house. Still haven't managed to get it refinished and up in my entry way, but eventually!!

Not sure what we're going to do about the tub. I guess we'll have to call a plumber or redo the bathroom. Neither which we can afford right now, but we can't go without a tub either. MIL does live 5 minutes away and she has maintenance men!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Budding Gothling Fingerless Mitts

I made myself a to-do list today. It said:

Change Sheets
Put up ALL laundry
Read the Gruffalo book to the kids
Actually cook dinner

And I kind of failed on some of that.

I changed the sheets, grocery shopped, Walmart shopped for things like paper towels and miniature flying helicopters, hit the post office, read The Snowy Day instead of the Gruffalo, wrapped some presents and finished my Budding Gothling fingerless mitts I was working on for someone for Christmas. Oh, I also inhaled massive amounts of Excederin and homemade pizza Mom made. And not quite good store bought chocolate chip cookies.

Oh! And I spun 52 yards of camel colored merino to use for the fingertips and thumb of the mittens I want to knit for my Aunt Bev from my spin-along batt yarn from yesterday's post. Whew, that was a mouthful...

I absolutely love these fingerless mitts. They are knit from NaturallyCaron.Com's "Country" yarn which is a blend of micro-fiber acrylic and merino-wool; I've said before the yarn is horridly splitty but once you get used to it is very wonderful. They took hardly any yarn. I got almost one whole mitt from what was leftover from Tony's hat, actually all but the 3 rows of ribbing/bind off around the fingers and the thumb. I bought another skein for the 2nd mitt and it used hardly any of it. Very quick knits too, though the pair took me a week because I had to do Rush's hat and mittens in the meantime. : )

I am also so in love with these little skully pewter buttons! They are a little snug on me but they're intended for somene who's hands are significantly smaller than mine but I wanted them to have room for that person to grow. : )

While we were out Hannah's hair was static-city! It was so funny I just had to snap a pic! And, weird, weird, every fast food place I've hit in the last 2 months has given me 1 more straw than I needed! I now have this collection of straws in my car that I don't know what to do with.

WoolyHands' Holiday Spin Along

I follow a person on twitter, who just happens to have an etsy shop called WoolyHands and she just happened to be doing a thing earlier this month called a Spin Along. You bought it and what you got in the mail was an approx. 2oz batt of some kind of wonderful fiber, some fun add-ins and some chocolates.

My chocolates were immediately decimated by my family. My husband picked up the batt and said, "OOOOooh this is SO soft!!" I got one called "Aspen Lodge" (which you can purchase for yourself here) which was a wonderful blend of icelandic wool, coopworth locks, corriedale, wool mill ends, mohair, angelina and firestar sparkles. My "add-ins" were some sparkly sheer ribbons in brown and white and brown/turquoise and 2 cardinals on wires. I got some woodsy colored jump rings from UnkamenSupplies (great people to work with, awesome products!!!) to spun in the yarn also and I cut all my ribbons in half length-wise to make them thinner to spin in.

This batt was a JOY to spin. It drafted easily enough that a beginner would have no problem, but was textured, colored and the fibers were different enough to keep an expirienced spinner from being bored. I was actually sad when I got to the end of it!

I got 84 yards of yarn from the 2 ounces, spun thick and thin with the ribbons and jump rings thrown in here and there to make it artsy. I am going to spin about 30 yards of some moorit/camel-colored merino I have to go with it and make my great aunt some mittens. She loves these colors and LOVES cardinels, which I think I will attach at the cuff/wrist somehow.

I had so much fun doing this Spin-Along; I will definitely be up to doing another!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Warmies

Time to share some more crafty, okay, mainly knitty, projects I've been working on that last couple weeks. Though a couple recently completed projects won't make an appearance until after Christmas because some people are nosy.

I finally finished Tony's "Random Bump" hat, which I only had to rip out 4 times but now fits him perfectly. As if it were made for him, LOL! I had seen in a knitting book once where a lady knit a sweater in a chunky yarn, and just randomly threw purle stitches into the body of it so that there was an occasional "bump" or even sometimes a line of 6 or 7 purl stitches. I thought that was so neat so decided to do that with Tony's hat. He wanted a solid black hat and just knitting it seemed rather boring; it needed some texture. I used's Country yarn which is a microfiber-acrylic/merino-wool blend and is lovely to use! Very splitty, almost like knitting with 10 unplied threads, but once you get used to that it's worth it I think. The knitted cloth is VERY nice!

My Goddaughter Lily LOVES cake. With a passion. It really is all about cake. I thought I would knit her some cutesy pieces of cake but after attempting on piece twice I gave up and threw it out. (gasp!) I can knit sock without a pattern but plain triangles? No! Then I went and picked up some cheapy craft felt, cut out a piece and hand sewed it. Nope, still wasn't right. Sure the pieces were right but the hand stitches didn't look secure enough for a 2 year old to chew on. I finally went with machine piecing them and hand sewing the pink beads to the "icing" (top piece of felt), then handsewing just it on. I LOVE the way they came out! SO cute, I think! Jeremiah says Hannah needs some of these for her birthday. Her birthday is in April, so I'm good.

My Godchildren are army kids; their Daddy is right now in Afganistan. My Godson Rush just turned 5 so he's about the same age as my Jeremiah. I found this pattern on that was SO cute, it was called "Kiddie Cadet" and made a little, military-style cap for kids. I knew I wanted to make him a hat using the pattern for Christmas. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to by the camo-colored/patterning yarn. Don't know why. Instead I picked up the same type of yarn in the blue/brown camo colorway. And it didn't pattern like camo! Still though, the hat is pretty cute! I have no idea why Jeremiah closes hisa eyes for every picture now. The flash on my new camera is BRIGHT but Hannah doesn't do it. Who knows.

Today I've been working on him some mittens to match. I used Jeremiah's hands as a guide and got one mitten started and finished in about 5 hours, taking 2.5 hours out to have a nap with the kids. They are quick knits! I have the ribbing done on the other and I'm almost ready to start the increases for the thumb. Hannah had to try on everything I had Jeremiah try on today. Jeremiah is absolutely smitten with the mitten, saying he wants some out of the SAME yarn! No matter that I am almost out of this yarn and will be lucky to get the 2nd mitten, and I still have almost all of a huge 244yd skein of the navy blue I used for the lips on his fish hat. Does he want navy mittens to match his hat? NO! He wants blue and brown stripedy mittens. Of course. So...probably I'll buy another skein of this yarn.

I have also been working on a pair of "Budding Gothling" fingerless mitts for a friend of my sisters, for Christmas. I have kind of designed these around 1) the ribbing I used on Tony's hat, loved the chunky look and 2) these distressed pewter skull and cross bones buttons I saw at JoAnn's last week. :-D Originally I was just going to sew 2 buttons in the purl stitches of the ribbing on th cuff but then I had a bright idea to pick up stitches and knit a flap, pull it over and sew it down with one button. The button then of course is non-working but still looks really cool! They are just a tad small for me but not everyone is built like a dockworker with man hands, so I think they'll fit the recipient nicely. Made from the same Country yarn as Tony's hat.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Painting Christmas Ornaments

All the fun you can have for $2.79!

The last time I was at JoAnn's I grabbed a couple poured plaster Christmas ornaments to let the kids paint. This morning we broke out the paints and brushes and they had at it. I don't do a whole lot of crafty things with the kids, which makes me feel bad because I do plenty of crafty things myself. One thing I do do with them is let them paint. I have a ton of those little Apple paint bottles and keep a supply off tons of brushes, small canvases, etc.

Jeremiah painted a snowman with a scarf around his neck and Hannah painted a little bird. She said "It's Daddy's!" while she painted so I guess it's for him. She also painted her hands, face and chest. Jeremiah, being profficiant at painting, did not. LoL!

When he had finished his sparrow he painted a little tiny canvas I'd also bought. I think it's 2.5"x3", so cute! They sell little easel stands for them which I will have to go get one of since Jeremiah says this painting is for his Nana Cheryl. He always paints in abstracts and I always love them.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa
I've tried to be a good girl this year and as always, but especially at Christmas, it's the thought that counts. Right?

So this year for Christmas I'd really like the Twilight movie on DVD (my son Jeremiah wants to give it to me), a gram scale (for weighing yarn and fiber, not dope--I promise!). I'd also like a smallish wooden peg board to hang at the top of the stairs to hang my purses on and the DVDs of Chocolat or the Taming of the Shew (with Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton.) And maybe the Twilight soundtrack on CD; don't judge me Santa, it's a good book!

Thank you!

P.S. I could also use a cheapy handheld electric mixer for the kitchen. It doesn't even have to be red.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Okay, We're Festive Now

It has been a long weekend. Jeremiah has been bugging me since Thanksgiving about our tree not being up. I am not a decorate the whole house for holidays type person; I decorate, moderately, for Christmas. I do Easter baskets for the kids. That's about it. Naturally I would do even less than that, but for my children's sake I try to get cheery about things. I usually try to have us set up the tree Thanksgiving weekend but this year I am just running behind.

I have been having a really hard time emotionally lately, though I have no idea why. That, the lack of sleep I have (or haven't!) been getting, and normal get-ready-for-Christmas business have put me far behind in my holiday preparations. I'm not done shopping, haven't begun baking, and am not done decorating totally but by golly, we got the tree up!!

Yesterday afternoon the kids and I went to my niece's 3rd birthday party and sat around for 4 hours in a cigarette-smoke saturated house that induced a headache I've still not recovered from. We picked Diantha up on our way home because she really is so much help to me, with the kids and the house. When we got home I decided that before we could start working on the tree I HAD to sand the wall upstairs.

You see our tree goes downstairs next to the stair railing and upstairs above the stair railing is the closet Tony built and if I didn't sand it and clean up all the resulting dry-wall snow, it wouldn't have gotten done until after Christmas. And if we don't get a move on these renevations I'm going to have a meltdown. Again.

So, Diantha plays with kids while Des very efficiantly and professionally sands the drywall mud/joints. Then I had to dust and mop upstairs, the edges of all the stairs, the ladder, the walls up and downstairs and the floor. Thankfully yesterday morning before the party Tony helped me move all the living room furniture, clean out from under the pieces and sweep so the couch wasn't against the wall with the stair railing to get
covered in dust!
While I mopped Diantha drug up the boxes of Christmas things and then we set up the tree, fluffed up the branches and I put on half the lights. That's as far as we got. My headache was too bad and the kids were too sleepy and cranky to do any more.

When we got home today I finished putting lights and garland on the tree, then Diantha and the kids decorated it while I fussed with making the fireplace more festive. Never before in my life have I been able to hang stocking by the fire!!! These are just Jeremiah's (left) and Hannah's (right); I need to get another package of hangers and fix my stocking before I had Tony's and mine.

During all this our neighbor brought over 4 freshly made and still too hot to eat oatmeal raisin cookies, which Hannah and Tony sat around eating. : )
When they were all done decorating they helped me wrap presents! We still have about 6 people to buy for, Tony says he needs to shop for me and we haven't shopped for our kids yet. Behind, behind. But, we have big families and we are very blessed to not only have the family but also be able to budget in gifts for them!!

DURING all this hubbub I finally managed to finish Tony's stupid random bump hat which I had to pull out 4 times but now fits him beautifully and perfectly, cast on and knit 75% of one fingerless glove for my sister's friend for Christmas and cast on the KiddieCadet hat for my godson Rush. Whew!

No wonder I'm exhausted.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jeremiah, Budding Photographer part2

Jeremiah got ahold of my new, new camera today (not to be confused with the old new camera that went back to the store because it took pictures of purple fuzz) and did some more of his photography snapshots for me to share.

First we have the inside of my car, complete with random trash. This is his view since he likes to ride in the middle.

Then we have the ever important, all encompassing new Walmart they built in Clinton out at 1-75. Yes, he really was taking the picture of the Walmart and NOT the car. In fact, he said the car was in his way. The nerve.

Then when we got home, he sneaked in on me while I was doing dishes. He made sure to get not only me in suprise, but also me in action and then the Grande Finale the baking dish being rinsed. He's nothing if not thorough.

And then he found the sausage I laid out on the counter to thaw for dinner. YES, it's SAUSAGE. Heart-healthy turkey smoked sausage if you must know. Get your mind out of the gutter.

And then suddenly the floor was interesting.