Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top 5 Economic Charts of 2011

Wall Street Journal: Top Five Economic Charts of 2011.

BOOK REVIEW: Textual Healing

Textual HealingTextual Healing by Eric Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book that desperately wants to be a movie. From the very first page, I could see the movie in my head -- the first words of the novel read as a voiceover, with a scene-setting panorama of New York City, before cutting into Ace's apartment. It reads as a kind of mashup, Scott Pilgrim meets High Fidelity meets Empire Records meets the bookstore of Notting Hill. The movie image was so clear in my mind, I even have the film all mentally cast.

Ace, a writer whose one best-selling, made-into-a-movie book is now gracing the clearance shelves at Barnes & Noble, has writers block, his girlfriend has left him, his used book store does hardly any business...and then the real upheaval starts, as a blind date turns into a life-changing experience for him as well as for those around him.

The novel can't be taken all that seriously -- really, all of the action takes place in a single week? -- but that adds to its charm, and you're not reading a book like this for a dose of reality, anyway. The characters (and boy, are they all characters!) are likable and a lot of fun -- and really, who wouldn't want to cross paths frequently with a haiku-speaking ninja? Life would be a lot more interesting if we all had wacky people like these populating our lives.

I had to knock off a star for the amount of typos, confusing punctuation, and flat-out errors in the text -- I found it really distracting to read. I also was a little turned off by all of the pop-culture references, many of which seemed gratuitous, forced, or both.

Despite my negative comments, though, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky, romantic-but-not-sappy stories. With a bit of editing, the novel would really shine.

Copy received from the author for review

View all my reviews

Happy Anniversary!

Well sure. I don't post for a month and then I post too much, but I had to.

Today is my four year blogging anniversary! Hooray!

One funny parallel to my first year of blogging would be that I am again pregnant as I type this (only a month farther along with this baby than the one I was expecting four years ago at this time). In fact, when writing my very first post, I was about two weeks away from finding out that Noah was a boy.

I have met so many amazing people through the blogging community. I have learned new hobbies, been introduced to new music, learned new ways of cooking, cleaning, gardening -- everything about me has changed for the better in some way thanks to the friends I've made over these past few years.

I wanted to have a giveaway ready for this post, but I am forever running behind lately. I have two soapy swap packages to bundle up and send on their way first, but when that is done, let's ring in the new year with a little something from me to who knows who. I owe it to the universe for all the amazing goodness that comes my way, thanks in no small part to the community I stumbled into through the world of blogging.

Thank you all so much.

And the verdict is…


One healthy, perfect baby girl. :)

looks like a smile

I think am still in shock, and we are all thrilled!!! Our little family will be taking on a whole new feel come the middle of May!

Best of 2011

btt button

What were your favorite books of 2011?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!



There are a lot of reasons why I'm glad we waited till we'd been married for a decade before moving ahead with Project Child, but one of them is that we had a number of holiday seasons in which to create our own holiday traditions without having to work a kid into them, too.  By the time Ian rolled around, we had things pretty sorted out -- you all know it can be hard to create new traditions while still upholding the old ones that you both bring to a relationship -- and, having had a long time to think about what is important to us, we had some pretty good ideas about how we want to share that with our son. 


We aren't religious by any definition, but that doesn't mean that it's not an important and sacred, if you'll forgive my use of the word, time of year for us.  We are lucky enough to have wonderful families that we love and are close to (and actually legitimately like, rather than just tolerate!) and if that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is.  Giving and sharing and caring, and lighting the darkest nights of the year -- all things that are a wonderful basis for a holiday.


Last year we put up our Christmas tree after Ian had gone to bed, but this year he helped. (He helped us pick it out, too, of course!  He was much more interested in the proceedings than he was last year.)  He held the lights for Jim while he was putting them up, and then dropped a couple of ornaments under the tree (he can't quite work out how to actually hang them) before amusing himself sorting the non-breakable balls we bought into piles, while Jim and I did the actual decorating.  :-)


I've been going to the Wadsworth Atheneum for the annual Festival of Trees for years now, and last year I took Ian with me on a day off.  This year, Jim came along too.  I think the three of us were the only people there under the age of 50 on the Friday morning that we went, and so Ian was very busy amusing groups of little old ladies with his (well-behaved) antics.  We also went to the Christmas House in Torrington, which I cannot adequately explain for you other than to say that it is amazing that the place hasn't burned down, what with all the fire code violations.  It's awesome.

We didn't go see Santa -- Ian isn't old enough to care, and he HATES standing in line -- but he can now identify Santa on sight ("Tanta!") and will tell you that he says "ho, ho, ho" while rubbing his own little bowl full of jelly.


Most important of all, though, is spending time with our loved ones.  And this year we get to do it an extra lot -- we always celebrate Christmas in January with my family, so we still have that to look forward to -- but this year Jim's siblings and their spouses, sadly, couldn't overlap their visits home.  So we had our usual Christmas Eve with Jim's mom, grandma, sister, and her husband, and then Christmas Day with the three of us plus Mom and Grandma.  Tonight we're doing Christmas Eve, redux, but with Jim's brother and his wife in place of his sister and her husband.  Ian LOVES all the attention, and once he figured out what the deal was with presents, he loved THAT, too.  


Christmas morning at our house was nice and low-key.  Jim and I exchanged our gifts, and tried to get Ian to open some of his.  


He liked his very first present from Santa -- some play dishes -- so much, that all he wanted to do was play with them.  :-)  It took us most of the day to get through his gifts, one at a time as his interest dictated.  I can't say I minded it -- I know it'll only be a couple of years before he's in full-on Must Open All The Things As Quickly As Possible mode, and for now, it was nice to be able to spread it all out and see the excitement on his face as he opened each thing.  Everything elicited an "ooh!" or a "whoa!", and what really made my little nerdy librarian heart happy was when he opened up his very own copy of Gossie and Gertie -- he loves that book so much, he's worn the library copy right out -- and yelled out "Gossie!"  My boy can identify books!  And gets excited about them!  O happy day!


I sincerely hope that you all had a Christmas that was every ounce as happy and fun as ours was.  

And now, I can start to unveil the Christmas projects -- although even some of that will have to wait till the end of January, after we see my family!!

Catching Up!

frosty carrots

Between the holidays and everything else, I seem to have disappeared for twenty days!

I have so much to catch up on, and so many pictures to share, so how about a little bit of everything, okay?

Let's see. I made some modern day pomanders,


which turned into a garland with bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

good-smelling garland

garland - different view

Started knitting up some of that yarn I dyed at some point over the summer I guess? It is looking lovely, but the indigo powder is coming off on my hands like crazy.

yarn colors

The weather has occasionally turned a little colder, but for the most part, it has been unseasonably mild so far!

There were enough frosty nights to get some requisite lawn and garden pictures.

frosty lawn

a little closer

frosty nepeta - a little closer

strawberries with a little frost


I couldn't stop, sorry.

There was so much more. Mr. Ambry ran his first race since he started running this year.


I think he got a good reception at the end.

congratulatory hugs

Of course, then there was Christmas.

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Christmas Day 2011

I won't try to cram in the yarn photos here -- between a HUGE surprise package from my amazing friend Susan and a swap with another wonderful Ravelry friend, I have enough of a yarn stash built up to make anything I want for a while. That deserves its own post, believe me.

Two other things coming up first though. TOMORROW MORNING, at 10:00 my time (EST), I go in for the 20 week ultrasound where we will obviously make sure everything is still moving along properly in there, but with the added bonus of attempting to figure out exactly who we are looking forward to! I'll be updating tomorrow by early afternoon, after the family calls have been made. I cannot believe I am at the halfway mark already!

Another thing (but slightly less exciting at the moment to me) is that I am coming up on my four year blogging anniversary in a few days!

But I'll be back tomorrow with baby news first. :)

Reflecting on 2011 and Counting Down to 2012

Knitting Madness
I never really cared for this time of year.  In spite of the family gatherings and all the parties, I always felt so small and alone.  What I didn't realize was that I was spending the time reflecting in my own space, rather than reaching out and making others happy.  
Baby Buddy came out of hiding and went
right back to the tree on Christmas Eve!

And now, I can't believe Christmas is over!  I've been running around, knitting like crazy, baking, Christmas shopping, and taking care of a sick cat.  With all of the incredibly bad things that have happened this year, I had so much to be thankful for once I sat down and thought about it.  When you look at all of it, I still have my wonderful family and many opportunities ahead of me.  I even got my own Christmas miracle when I found out that we did not have to put Baby Buddy to sleep!  They did not find cancer but we will have to have more tests run to see if his growth is affecting anything.  He even started to act like his old self again and came to sleep next to me on Christmas morning (something he has not done in a few months because he didn't have the energy to get upstairs).

In between the regular Christmas-time running around, I managed to make a few gifts for the people in my family who have been admiring some of the things I've made so far this year.  There was:
    My two sisters-in-law were really excited about their hats:
    Slouchy Beanie in Peacock Colors (left) and
    Simply Elegant Beanie (right)
  • A pair of socks for my aunt in Arizona
  • A pair of socks for my grandmother
  • A hat for two of my sisters-in-law
  • A pair of slippers with suede soles for another grandmother (husband's side)
  • A custom-made sweater vest as my first Etsy sale
  • Finishing the hats that my brother-in-law ordered
*sigh*  My husband and I also decorated the house and built Peanut's larger gifts.  We also took turns baking: I made sugar cookies and oatmeal cookes (with dark chocolate and toffee chips) and hubby made three different kinds of cheese cake (peppermint, eggnog and apple).  When it finally came down to it, we spent Christmas Eve at my father-in-law's house, Christmas morning at our house opening gifts, and Christmas evening watching football at The Royal Victorian Manor, my parents' Bed and Breakfast. 

Peanut models in front of the Christmas tree.

So much love, so many smiling faces.  Now I remember why I do what I do.  I love helping people and making them happy.  If I can do something well enough to brighten another person's day, I know I have a purpose and something to look forward to.  Working in health care did give me that opportunity, I mean, I managed a clinic for people who would have no other access to health care if it wasn't for our little clinic.  And speaking Spanish allowed me to be a representative for women's health education to a rural Hispanic community, giving those women a chance to learn more about important women's health issues.

With Peanut around, I want to spend every minute with him, watching him grow and learn.  He's helped me to realize that there are many things that I love to do, but if I must help my family succeed.  Why not do that while doing something you love?  And this is why I knit.  I love the arts, I love my family, and I love making people happy by making something that keeps them warm or warms their heart.

I am looking forward to see what 2012 will bring for my own personal growth and the growth of Cherished Moments.  I'll be:
  • Frantically working on my business plan
  • Designing knit clothes for babies and children that have a timeless style
  • Writing patterns
and enjoying every little part of the process.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!
Christmas at the Royal Victorian Manor.

2011 knitting, part two




I learned when I went to China for Betsy the value of having a project tied to such an adventure. Even though this Citron shawl took me much more than two weeks to knit, I think of it as my heritage-tour knit.  I used the spec'd yarn, Malabrigo lace, because I had it from a Mystery Stole I gave up on years ago. Some of this yarn also went into the stripes of the Volt shawl a year earlier. 


As soon as I discovered this Little House Shawl pattern -- I think it was via Twitter -- I knew Little B had to have one. I didn't realize that her teacher was reading the books to her first-grade class. And when I started it, Wee C said she must have one, too, and she will, but it may not happen before 2011 ends! Sock yarn from Virginia dyer Spirit Trail Fiber Works in her favorite color.

Mid-front  Mid-back  Mid-button

Here is the Middlefield Pullover from New England Knits, which I quickly finished this fall in about two months, using delicious hand-dyed yarn from Juniper Moon Farm (this is from their sheep, not the new line) that I bought the first time I visited what has become one of our most special places. Perfect buttons, too, which I bought from Jennie the Potter at Maryland Sheep & Wool ~ without the yarn in hand. As the card held five, I had jeweler Louise Ellis convert the remaining pair into earrings. Ravelry was a huge help with this knit, as other knitters' project descriptions guided several  modifications I made to the pattern.

Cowl  Cowl2

 The last project I finished this year (although there's one more on the needles for a 12/29 delivery) was this Albers Cowl in seven colors of Koigu. Designer Ann Weaver has two projects based on Josef Albers' “Portrait of a Square” paintings. Last winter Kay Gardiner blogged about her Albers Shawl and suddenly I had to make the Albers Cowl. The best part is that soon after her post I was in NYC and Kay & I went to Purl Soho together. She affirmed my color choices and I cast on in her company. These squares were my carpool knitting all year. I decided to give the cowl to my friend Sarah for Christmas (and make another one for myself thereafter.) 

Bombshell Dress: Part 2, the Dress!