Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Introducing HandCraftedLife

When I started this blog last year, my friends asked me what I would do when my 45th year ended, since I named this blog specifically for my 45th year challenge. My reply, as those who know me well would expect, was, "I'll think about that when it happens."

I thought I might find blogging burdensome, and I didn't want to commit beyond a year. Sometimes the length between posts is longer than others, but all in all it's well worth the time in what I get from back from it...a sense of creativity, expression, and community.

Now I'm ready to kick it up a notch. I'm moving to a new blog, HandCraftedLife, with a new focus.

Read about it here.

45 years and 45 miles

See RocBike for a full ride report of my 45-miler.

And my flickr set of the ride is here.

Here are my favorite pictures from the day, a swan on the nest

protected by its mate

and a family of Canada geese

Remember that quote about a young man's fancy turning to thoughts of love in spring? Same for birds...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Unfinished business

So, my 45th year is over. I had a sense of being at a turning point when I started this blog, and while I can say I’ve rounded the corner on this particular turn, I’m not quite back onto the straight road.

The growing independence of DD and DS has been one major cause for this turning point. I’m still learning what it means to parent at this stage of the game. I consider it a major victory that we all still make it a point to spend time together…not just me, them too. It's a funny thing with parenting…just when you think you’ve got it down, they go and change again!

The blog has been a great place to not only document my 45th year challenge, but also to process various things happening in my life. Some things I’ve discovered about myself:

1—I really like to write. When I don’t have time to blog, I feel out of sorts and kinda mentally constipated…like there’s just too much stuff in my brain and some of it needs to get out!

2—I also like to take pictures of the things around me. The act of documenting helps me see things with new eyes.

3—I like being part of an online community. This blog and RocBike have introduced me to people and experiences I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

4—Now that I know I can do this blog thing, I’m ready to move into something new that I think may have an appeal to a broader audience. More on that in the next post…

But first, for the unfinished business…

Here are my last 3 finished objects (finished before my birthday, I swear!), modeled by DD in between homework and watching "So You Think You Can Dance."

A yoga mat bag for T (from the same pattern as this one

Scrap striped scarf. (I am all about using up the stash right now. Don't worry, it will pass.)

Colorful scarf from various yarn scraps, with no particular pattern. I just switched yarn and pattern as the mood struck.

There's also a random hat somewhere which I made to use up some yarn, but I can' find it. That's okay, it would be number 46, anyway!

Up next…the ride report from my 45-miler! Then, on to the next stage of the blog.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I did it!

I completed my 45-mile bike ride today (and none too soon, as tomorrow is my birthday!). I covered terrain from Rochester to Lake Ontario, back to Rochester, to Perinton, and BACK home to Rochester. It felt great...complete ride report to follow.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

FOY (First-of-Year)

For those who watch birds avidly, FOY stands for First-of-Year. My first Great Blue Heron of the year, seen on a bike ride on the Erie Canal, near Lock 33.

Every Spring, we go out to a special spot in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. If you go at the right time, you'll hear a chorus of frogs singing their mating song. It's kind of eerie (made a bit more so this year by a rather intoxicated man circling the trail and talking loudly and angrily, but he was harmless). Hearing the frogs was worth it. Here's a picture taken just before the song began (which intensifies right as darkness falls).

Yesterday, T. and I went to Highland Park to look for FOY warblers. We saw the following: black and white, black-throated green, yellow-rumped, and lots more. Plus a blue-headed vireo, the first I have seen (that's called a "lifebird" if you're an aspiring bird nerd like me).

I couldn't resist the magnolia blossoms which had fallen to the ground.

Up next, my FOY flower bouquet from my garden--forsythia, the last daffodil and some other things whose names I don't know.

And it was the FOY South Wedge Farmers Market. You really should go to the website and watch the short video of the festivities, including DD, dear friends Hillary and Vicki, and favorite kids Max, Quinn, and Katie, among others, dancing around the maypole.

I picked up some Asian greens at the Market from Freshwise, and I already had some feta and chevre from Lively Run, so I modified a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone to make a double-crusted fresh spring greens tart. It will be tomorrow's dinner.

And by the way, my 45th birthday nears. I have completed the hand-made objects, although they may not get uploaded right away as my time is limited due to end-of-the-semester grad. school and work stuff. (I realize it probably doesn't seem like that, since I sound like nature girl in this post. This stuff has happened over the last 2-3 weeks, interspersed with bursts of research, writing, and conversations where I use words like "pedagogy" "theoretical" and "retention" as though I were talking about my children.)

The bike ride is coming soon...stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I was walking to class a couple of weeks ago and was blown away by this view in front of the library.

This despite the fact that spring is a bad allergy season for me, although Chinese herbs and dietary changes have made it more of a minor annoyance than the season of headache it once was.

Speaking of which--those innocuous looking yellow flowers are buttercups, which according to weather.com, are a common allergy trigger in my area right now.

Huh...DD and I just pulled a bazillion of them, the "creeping buttercup" variety from the yard. (They're just as insidious as they sound.) And I thought that good feeling was just from the satisfaction of getting rid of them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Recently seen on my bike

(Cross-posted at RocBike).

After a powerful Earth Day sermon that echoed many of the themes in Michael Pollan's recent call to each individual to do something about climate change, and included a mention of the Rochester Chicken Club (of which I am a proud member--more on that topic to come), I came out to find this on my parked bike.

And this week, on my ride to yoga class, where I met my daughter, my new Ortlieb panniers managed the task of carrying our two yoga mats admirably.

I splurged on the panniers after I decided that an XtraCycle is not right for me, at this point. An XtraCycle is great if you want to be able to give someone else a ride, but my 17 and 19-year olds aren't likely to want to be seen on the back of their mom's bike. And everyone else I might be traveling with would likely ride their own! So, I got the panniers instead; they hold plenty of groceries and are very easy to use. I recommend them if you're in the market.

Bikes, chickens, and yoga...what more could you want?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Delayed gratification

I must like this...that feeling of preparing the soil, nourishing it with garbage that turns into luscious, nutrient-filled food for life...planting my little seeds, lots of them, which other creatures try to dig up and root out...watching the many seedlings come to life regardless...carefully plucking out the uninvited plants to keep the desired ones healthy...giving them lots of food and water to keep them growing, while working hard to keep the pests away that would injure them...giving them support as they grow so they don't fall over and collapse from the weight of all that new growth...until they finally reach their fullest potential.

The first new spring pea, fresh summer tomato, fragrant oregano--that's what I call delayed gratification. But not as delayed as the gratification I got last week...

It's hardly original of me to compare gardening to parenting, but in Spring, just too impossible to resist. Cliches are cliches for a reason...because they speak some truth which we really need to hear and remember.

I'm sure DS' fullest potential has much more room to grow, along with some continued need for nurturing and support, but still, it felt like a milestone.

He's been playing cello since the second grade, and over the years we've watched his frustrations, his nervousness, his stumbles, along with his successes and joy in playing.

Most of the people at this particular concert were probably family of students performing in the orchestra or choir, and between us, we must have logged millions of miles, hours, and money in supporting these musically-talented and hard-working young people. At the end, they got a lengthy standing ovation. It was as though the collective feeling was, "WHEW! My kid made it to perform at Lincoln Center. I am going to enjoy this moment and I am going to stand and applaud for as long as I damn well feel like it."

I don't take credit for the tomato...it had its own inherent "tomato-ness" to reach that has nothing to do with me. Similarly, I don't take credit for the performance. He's the one who practices for hours a day, who's passionate about his art, and who has a work ethic and attitude admired by his teachers and fellow students alike. But supporting a kid in their passion is no doubt a family commitment. So I'll take a little of the credit for preparing the soil, planting the seed, warding off intruders, providing support. And never mind that it took just short of 2 decades...the wait was worth it.

And when I say, "I must like this," it's because the ways in which I choose to spend my time all have this similar feeling. Lots of quiet waiting, interspersed with bursts of fierceness and a constant love. Gardening and parenting yes, but also counseling and teaching college students, community service and activism, knitting, cooking, research, and even yoga and meditation.

There's a lot to be said for patience.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Read all about it at RocBike.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mania meme

Radical Cross-Stitch tagged me for a meme. Does it sound like I'm speaking a foreign language? If you don't know, memes are kinda like chain letters. I always hated chain letters, but memes can be fun. You learn something new about people whose blogs you read, and you get to direct people to other bloggers they may not have discovered.

In this one, you're supposed to tell 6 things about your life which look like manias or tics, and then pass it to 6 other persons. So here are mine.

#1. Bike helmets--I've written before about the people I've known who've been seriously hurt or killed while cycling. While there is some controversy within the cycling community about the promotion of helmets (some argue that helmets don't protect you from the many different kinds of injuries that can happen and/or that they give cyclists a false sense of protection), I'm all for protecting brains. When I see a cyclist without a helmet, it's all I can do to refrain from yelling at them, "PUT A HELMET ON!!" Generally I do refrain from yelling it, but should anyone have the misfortune of being in the next seat/on the next bike to me, they will hear me rant and rave for several minutes about stupid cyclists who don't wear helmets.

My favorite comment about helmets is from The Art of Urban Cycling. Wear a helmet, but bike like you're not wearing one.

#2. Hummers--Actually, any SUVs. Hummers do not belong on streets. SUVs are not necessary for urban driving. (My mom calls them UAVs...Urban Assault Vehicles.) They waste gas and their owners too often drive as though their mere size gives them the right to hog roads and parking spaces. We should have more regulations which discourage driving these gas-guzzlers and encourage saner forms of transportation.

#3. The serial comma--You don't know what that is? Obviously you didn't have me for your high school English teacher. Here's the Wikipedia definition.

The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma or Harvard comma) is the comma used immediately before a grammatical conjunction (nearly always and or or; sometimes nor) that precedes the last item in a list of three or more items. The phrase "Portugal, Spain, and France", for example, is written with the serial comma, while "Portugal, Spain and France", identical in meaning, is written without it.

I believe in the serial comma. I admit that there is no logical reason for this other than the fact that that's how I was taught by MY high school English teacher. I just think it nicely separates each item in the series, according them each their own space all to themselves, without the conjunction running right up against them. Is that too much to ask?

#4. Proper pronunciation--If you are related to me, I will most definitely correct your pronunciation any time necessary. I may or may not refrain if your boss, dad, or best friend from high school is in the room. I am not trying to humiliate you; I just can't bear mispronunciation. In my mind, I am doing you and everyone else a favor by enlightening you as to the correct pronunciation of societal, paradigm, and epitome. (And you did notice my serial comma in that last sentence, didn't you?)

If you are not related to me, I may refrain from correcting you. Or I may not.

#5. Effective meetings--Have you noticed that these are getting more obnoxious as I go? In my mind, meetings (whether I'm at work, volunteering, or doing a group project for school) should be to-the-point and efficient. If they're meant for team-building and getting to know one another better, fine, but let me know in advance. Otherwise I expect meetings to have agendas, to move those agendas along in a timely manner, and to actually get things accomplished. I like to socialize, but I'll do it after the meeting, thank you very much. Get in, do what you need to do, and get out...that's my philosophy about meetings.

So, yeah, not everyone shares that philosophy. When I'm the boss, that's how meetings go...but I'm not always the boss. Then I get cranky at ineffective meetings. It's not always pretty. I'm trying to be more flexible.

#6. I am woman, hear me roar--I tend to take on too much in life. Yes, I do. I admit it. It's related to my eternal optimism. But god, there's so much good and fun stuff to do, it's hard to resist at times. I could have worse traits, right? (such as the belief that only I know how to correctly pronounce every word in the English language and how to run good meetings, perhaps?)

So there's my list. The one thing I feel a bit uncomfortable about with memes is any perceived pressure on the people I tag. So I'm going to tag these 6--but you know, it's your blog, do the meme or don't do it. I won't be mad. Here you go--Tracy at RahChaChow, Ann at Purls off a string, Michelle at Crafting Sanctuary, Melissa at Elemental Stitches,Patti at Patti's Purling Place, and because I think his list would be really funny, Jason at jasoncrane.org.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Signs of spring in Rochester

Tulips from the Public Market. Not only beautiful, but fragrant as well. Makes the whole house smell amazing.

High-schoolers on the Genesee River.

Crew teams doing their thing.

College students with frisbees.

While the fire alarm, undoubtedly pulled as a prank, blares from one of the fraternity houses across the river.

All from my short bike ride after work today.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The dark months

Well, winter in Rochester is always a little bleak, but this one seemed more than usual! Not that that completely explains my lack of posting. Let's just say I took on a little too much for a normal person (turns out I'm not actually SuperWoman), and something had to give...sadly, it was blogging. Here's a little update on what I've been up to.

--I took on an extra teaching gig, which I absolutely love, but it's made for some loooonngg days.

--Still doing the grad. school thing...I applied for a transfer from the Ed.D. program to the Ph.D. I got it, and I even got some financial aid, which will definitely help out!

--Good thing I'm close to my 45 FO's, because I've had NO time for crafting. But I do have a couple more things to add to my list.

--Those things haven't been added because my camera died. I'm getting a new one this weekend. I had really gotten used to walking around with the camera, and it really helped me see my world in a different way. I can't wait to get back to shooting some pictures.

--I performed in The Vagina Monologues on March 8. It was an amazing experience! I'm hoping to get some pictures to share with you all.

--I got the worst case of the flu ever...sick for 10 days, with the cough lingering another 7! Yuk!

--I did my 45-hour retreat, although not solo. I decided that I wanted the opportunity to do a retreat with Toni Packer, so I signed up for one with her. Unfortunately she was ill, but I'm still glad I did it. In fact, I had a roommate (which I've never had on retreat before), and let's just say that negotiating with a roommate you've never met, on a silent retreat, is not exactly easy. I think a solo retreat would have been easier than what came up through those interactions.

In other news, T.'s show at RoCo was a success! Her pieces looked great, and she sold 7 of the 12. DD got her driver's license (yikes!). Actually, she's a very responsible driver so I don't even worry (too much) about her driving. DS is back at college and playing some amazing music. Hear his premiere of a composition by a fellow student here.

Much more frequent posting in the future...probably lots of attempted artsy photos as I play with my new camera!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Still here

Busy, now sick...too boring to tell you about. I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Famous fuzzy

Betz White, author of Warm Fuzzies, has highlighted the cupcake which Brianne and I made, in the Warm Fuzzies Flickr pool.

Go check it out for some snowy day inspiration!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

We celebrated this weekend, and above you see one of my gifts.

These olives come from Cut Out + Keep.Here's what they look like up close (with too much flash).

The label is backstitch on some green burlap-y cloth I found at Craft Bits and Pieces.

Hope yours was just as sweet as mine!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Almost there...

At least when it comes to 45 handmade objects! (The retreat is scheduled for next week, and the bike ride for late April. Which is good since my birthday is May 7, and that's my deadline!)

Here's what I've been doing...First, I made some gloves for DS. These are his annual pair, ever since he allowed me to knit for him. (He loses them every year...maybe this year will be different?)

Alas, I have no picture because my camera was on the blink, and I finished them just in time to give them to him before he headed back to college. He has since declared that he loves them and they are "snug and warm." They are basic black, Lamb's Pride Worsted, as he is that kind of guy.

Next, DD declared one day that she wanted to spend it crafting with me. How could I deny that request? Together we designed, and I sewed, this purse for her.

The outside is a thrifted, felted sweater, lined with a fabric from a thrifted shirt (also the source of the external patch), and the cow button has just been waiting for its rightful place!

We also made a cupcake, from thrifted and felted sweaters, from Betz White's book, Warm Fuzzies.

This next one is so simple I almost feel like I shouldn't claim it. But they're so practical that I'm going to...long gloves, loosely following the instructions at Craft Addictions. They're made from those inexpensive stretch gloves, sewn onto a sweater sleeve. They fit perfectly under my dress coat and keep my warm while I'm waiting at the bus stop. Before then, wind would blow right up my arms. Now I too am "snug and warm."

And seen at the top of this post, one of the most popular projects on Ravelry, My So-called Scarf. This one will be available at our (nearly) annual holiday artists' swap (minus the adorable girl, in her hand-crocheted hat from a friend).

And finally, I feel a bit sheepish claiming these as well...

These are my version of the Peekaboo Mittens from Magknits, except that they are actually made from a pair of socks I made, which were too big. I felted them but didn't know what to do with them. DD said, "those look like mittens!" I cut a hole in them, and now I have the perfect winter-shopping-at-the-Rochester Public Market gloves.

That adds six more to my FO list...up to 41. Actually, I have two more, but they'll be part of a future post. And those flying mittens...well, the first one is finished...if only I can muster the fortitude to finish the second one now...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Flying mittens

Conversation after the half-knit mitten went flying through the air, still attached to the ball of yarn:

T--Don't do that!

Me--(As I reel in the mitten from 10 feet across the room) Why not?

T--It just doesn't seem like a good idea. What's wrong with it anyway?

Me--It has dropped stitches.

T--How do stitches get dropped anyway? (For the record, she is a knitter, but not quite a Knitter)

Me--If I knew that, I wouldn't be throwing it across the room.

Monday, February 4, 2008

That's just how I feel about patriarchy

In light of my recent feminist rants, here and here, I direct you to an awesome site, Radical Cross-Stitch with a perfect cross-stitch pattern that sums it up, here.

I've already ordered my kit.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy anniversary

My card to Tanya on the occasion of 12 years together. I'm thrilled with it, and she loves it. It's made from hand-dyed felt, with images cut from last year's calendar by Nikki McClure. You've seen the fabric a lot because I got it on sale when Fabrics and Findings went out of business. I love it...its earthy tones reflect our favorite colors and the decor of our house.

Her card to me said, in part, "Twelve wonderful, amazing, loving (and sometimes difficult) years together and I feel more grateful for and committed to our relationship than ever." We both laughed about the "difficult" comment. But it's important.

When we first got together, it seemed like nothing difficult could ever touch us, because we were so in love. I suppose a lot of new lovers feel that way, and I don't think it's a bad thing. That early glow is a great thing to have in your memory bank when things do get tough. And, life being what it is, things will get tough.

Surviving, and even thriving, through all that life brings, gives me more confidence and security than ever in our relationship. Let me tell you, security may not sound sexy, but to have another person know you, and still love you, at such a depth, and through times when you, she, or life in general was really horrible, that is cause for great celebration and rejoicing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feminine Psychology?

Threading Water has linked to an employers' guide to hiring women from 1943, which states...

Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

I'll be sure to let my supervisor know...

And now for something totally frivolous

Betz White, whose book Warm Fuzzies is highlighted over there on my sidebar, posted about her celebrity look-alikes, or so she's told, and then a commenter mentioned this website which scans a photo you upload and spits out something like this...

I'm glad to know I look more like Meryl Streep than Larry King! Actually, in my 20's I was frequently told that I look like Meryl Streep, but not so much since I cut my hair short!

Who do you look like?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The personal is still political

I've been thinking about women's lives a lot lately. I used to think about them all the time, when I headed up a university women's center. I'm proud of the work I got to do there, but got pretty burned out (and just plain burned) and had to take a mental break.

However, being mom to a seventeen-year old daughter means growing up female in the U.S. is never too far from my consciousness, particularly in a week when there was an attempted abduction of a young high school woman in the area.

Then today, T. and I got to talking about how it seems that in the 1970's and 80's, progressive women who got married kept their last name (I'm not going to use the word "maiden." Please!) Or, maybe they and their husband hyphenated or created a new name altogether. Since the 90's, it seems that more and more women are taking their husband's name.

Now when I was a teenager growing up in the 70's in my small Indiana hometown, the library was my sanctuary.

Rushville Library

I happened upon the one shelf of feminist books. I have no idea of the book or author, but I read a very powerful essay about the politics of the name issue. As I remember it, the author asserted that the tradition could be traced back to the days when a woman was considered the property of her husband. She made a powerful argument that our name is our identity...when we change the name we are given at birth, we are allowing a part of our identity to be subjugated. I vowed at that moment never to change my name, and I never have.

I'm not going to make this a polemic about the issue, and certainly many of my close friends have made a different decision, and I respect their choice.

At the same time, we must always remember that the personal IS political...it cannot be otherwise...and we too easily forget the historical and political context of our choices. (Well, Hillary is very aware of the political context. She's essentially gone from Hillary Rodham to Hillary Rodham Clinton to Hillary Clinton.)

And finally, when I went to a church we're thinking of getting involved in, and the minister said, "We come to church so we don't forget," I remembered. I remembered that feminism is the first social justice issue I cared about, not just because of that small library shelf, but also because of the very powerful ways in which I had personally experienced and witnessed violence against women.

So, I'm gonna continue to do my part. Sometimes it's a little thing, like wearing my Take Back the Needles shirt. You pretty much have to be both a feminist and a knitter to get it, so I mostly just get looks of befuddlement when I wear it. Depending on who's asking, I might offer a bit of an explanation. I might tell them about the Take Back the Night movement. I might tell them that knitting needles were once used to induce abortions, when desperate women had few options. And I might tell them about the newest generation of diy/riot grrls/young feminists who subvert traditional notions of women's crafts and create awesome works of art in the process.

(Coincidentally, today, my Stitch 'n Bitch calendar featured Barbara Walker, who most knitters revere as the author of treasured knitting patterns. But most of us DON'T know that she also wrote The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, along with several other books about women's spirituality and history.)

And I'm gonna do my part in a somewhat bigger way. Today I went to a casting call for our community V-Day production, a performance of The Vagina Monologues, to benefit our local Rape Crisis Center and the women of New Orleans.

I have a long history with VDay, going back to when I helped RIT become the first college in the area to participate, back in 2000. It was a life-changing experience, and it is also one of the reasons I got "burned," as mentioned above.

Now I am ready to move to a next step with VDay, where I get to participate only as a cast member (rather than as producer/counselor/advocate/lightning rod).

Like everyone, I have a lot of things going on in my life. And my personal life hasn't had a lot of political activity in it lately. If I'm going to honor my ethic of living a life that attempts to live up to my ideals, I have to make the time. Just like I made the time to grow my own veggies, support my local Farmers' Market, preserve a lot of homegrown, handpicked produce to carry us through the winter, and commute by bike/bus whenever possible.

And this is a way I can be a part of reminding members of my community about the lives of women...from all the ways we experience our vaginas, through birth, sex, violence, and power.

How can that NOT be political?

The performance is March 8, 8 pm. More details to come...Save the Date!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ode to Toronto

You gotta love a city with this public sculpture.

I already published my cycling Ode to Toronto, and, since I love it not only for its cycling resources but also its crafting, I had to write about it here as well!

We visited the Kensington Market neighborhood, home to Lettuce Knit, a beautiful yarn store with a lot packed into a small space.


While in the neighborhood, T. and I both tried to cure our cold with miso soup and hot and sour soup from this really yummy vegan Chinese restaurant.


Then, over to Romni Wools, which is truly the largest yarn store I have EVER been in (and I've been in a LOT of yarn stores). They were having a boxing day sale, and it was great fun to look around, and even fun to wait in line for 20 minutes. It gave us lots of time to admire all the hand-knitted hats, scarves, and gloves worn by the knitters of Toronto.


If you ever go to Toronto, stroll along Queen Street West. Once you get past the chain stores, you'll come upon amazing deals on fabric and beads, and a cool book store, paper store, and more yarn. I always find just walking in and out of the stores to be inspiring.

On the next day, we went down to the harborfront and saw some contemporary art, along with a whole craft center, with a fiber artist in residence who de-constructs old sweaters and re-creates them into beautiful sculptures.

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Finally, I highly recommend the Textile Museum. Even for non-fiber artists, its exhibits are interesting and inspiring. Unfortunately, my camera died the day we were there, which is too bad because there were some beautiful pieces. So, you'll just have to go yourself!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Handcrafters' holiday meme, part 2 (AKA, Better late than never!)

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Although I'm a little late, I'm finishing up some of the questions from the Sew, Mama, Sew meme.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

So many...my favorite one that is carried over from my family of origin is the Christmas eve pizza dinner. My mom always had tons of cooking to do for Christmas day, so Christmas eve dinner needed to be simple. What to do? Homemade, everyone helps out, pizza! Being a working mom in the midst of the canned foods revolution that swept the Midwest in the 60's, our pizza then came from a mix...dough from a box, sauce from a can, pre-shredded Mozzarella, pepperoni slices, and a few fresh veggies.

Now, with my family, I make the dough, everyone who wants helps spread it (that's the hardest part, so often it's just me and maybe DD). Then we each pile on our favorites...choosing from mozzarella, cheddar, feta cheese, homemade pesto,(usually) homemade sauce, lots of veggies, and maybe some fake ground beef or sausage.

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I love how it brings us together in a low-stress way to share a great, low-key meal. When the kids were younger, it was also a great activity to occupy them as the moments till Christmas morning d..r..a..g..g..e..d by.

Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?

We make a "Feast for the Animals." (However, this may be the last year for that, as we've discovered that we need to come up with some new traditions as the kids become young adults.) T. and I like it, though. We string up popcorn and cranberries, and put out fruit, nuts, and so on, for the birds and squirrels.

If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making?

Now I can tell you about them! A bag for DD's new yoga mat, along with a yoga eye bag, and a yoga blanket. The bag pattern is from Fig and Plum, the eye bag is a knitted rectangle with a muslin bag inside filled with flax seed and my home-grown lavender, and the blanket is just fleece on one side, with fabrics pieced together on the other side, mostly from my stash.

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I also made two hot water bottle cozies for the daughters of friends, in exchange for an acupuncture treatment (I love bartering!). The cozies are made from sleeves of an old sweater, slightly felted, and embellished with homemade Fimo clay buttons and other sweater, fabric, and fleece scraps.

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More holiday photos, including some from Toronto (which I'll write about next!), here.