Monday, December 31, 2007

Ten Years Ago...

This was me:

Jo's new short hair

Wasn't I cute? I loved that hairdo. Makes me want to chop off this mop I have on my head right now and go back to that. It's hard to believe this picture was taken ten years ago. My skin is not nearly so unlined or unblemished now.

(oh - ETA: Sorry - this was 8 years ago, not 10. But still - a great haircut!)

I'm ending this year on a quiet note - I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that 2008 is all that you want it to be.

And tomorrow? A challenge, not a resolution...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gingerbread Dude Socks!

Two finished objects in two days - woohoo me!

I *love* these socks!

The Particulars:

Yarn: Blue Moon Socks That Rock Silkie in 'Gingerbread Dude' colourway
Needles: Size 2 bamboo dpns
Pattern: Ann Budd's basic sock pattern. I lengthened the ribbing a bit - about the only modification.
Time: It took a couple of weeks for these socks, but that was in between working on other things.

I will definitely be buying this socks yarn again - it is so soft - hardly feels like there is wool in it, and the colourways available are so pretty. I can't wait to wear these to work in the new year and show them off!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Friday Finished Object


These Fuzzy Feet were made for my MIL as a birthday present. I had to make some surreptious inquiries on the Knitty Board as to how long a size 11 foot actually is - in the and they were a little big, but she says she will try and felt them a tiny bit more to make them snugger.

The Particulars:

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky - 2 skeins of lavender
Needles: Size 11 bamboo dpns
Time: About one week in between other projects

This was my first felting project and I was filled with trepidation about the whole process. I am not sure that felting is really my thing - but I could see myself making another set of these for myself. I saw Cristi's Fuzzy Feet in Patons SWS recently and I think I like that better than the Lamb's Pride.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catch Up (and a brief thing about books)

Sorry for the lull of a few days - I was really trying to relax during my Christmas break. I think many other people had the same idea as well because there was slim reading pickings on Bloglines as well. Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holidays weren't too stressful.

Isn't this a cutie? My friend Carrie gave me this ornament for Christmas. Silly me - I glanced at it while at work and said thank you - but didn't get a good look at it until I got home and went to put it on the tree. Poor Carrie was probably thinking, "Why isn't Jo making a big deal about this?" Carrie, I love it!

And now for some other Christmas day highlights... may I present Andrew's slippers:

He said he wanted some monster feet slippers, but for the life of me I couldn't find any. Adding to the specific nature of his request, he also has size 11 feet. Willow and I ended up finding these in our local mall, of all places. Andrew loves them.

And here are the knitting books I received for Christmas:

Two brief Willow shots:

The kid was spoiled rotten for Christmas - I have pictures to send to the people who sent her gifts - hopefully I will email them by the end of the week.

See this odd bowl? It was one of my Christmas presents from my sister, Teri. I unwrapped it and thought - what could I put in it? It's a record, so there is a small hole at the bottom. Then I turned the bowl up so I could see whose record it was...

ARGH! Teri - sacrilege!!

Who could do that to one of the most beautiful songs ever? ('Suzanne', for those of you uninitiated.) He's even getting inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.

For the final Christmas picture, may I present our Christmas Angel:

Andrew did the Santa duty at our house - but when we got to the Grandmother and Grandfather's house Willow wanted to do the honours. The angel wings were courtesy of Uncle Stewart (back left) and she impressed everyone by reading all the gift tags.
Now I know I usually do a book report on Thursday, but honestly - I didn't finish reading a book since last Thursday so I had nothing to write. Instead, I am giving you a list of the books I received for Christmas:
1) Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives by Veronik Avery
2) 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant
3) Traditional Aran Knitting by Shelagh Hollingworth
4) Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts
5) Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
6) Heart of Stone by C. E. Murphy
7) My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon edited by P. N. Elrod
8) Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell
9) When We Were Young edited by Stuart McLean
10) Vinyl Cafe Unplugged by Stuart McLean
11) Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn
12) Storm Front (audio CD) by Jim Butcher (narrated by James Marsters!!)

Look for these in future Thursday Book Reports!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don't You Want To Marry Me?

Andrew: Honey, could we please have some of those cinnamon rolls? You haven't made them in a long time...

Me: Sure...

And just for Asami -

Okay, disregard the dirty stovetop - they actually look like onnigiri! I even put tuna and kewpie mayo in the middle!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Meme? Never...

This has been percolating in my head for a few days - a meme concerned with 'never.' Please feel free to steal - but if you do, please let me know in the comments so I can read your answers.

Five Places I Have Never Been (but would like to)
1. Scotland
2. Denmark
3. New Zealand
4. Yukon Territory
5. Nantucket, MA

Four Things I Have Never Eaten (and don't care to try)
1. Escargot
2. Plantains
3. Lutfisk (did I spell that right?)
4. Scotch Bonnet

Three Books I Have Never Read (and probably won't)
1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Two Things I Have Never Done (yet...)
1. Skiing
2. Been in a hot air balloon

One Thing I Will Never Do... Again.
1. Play with a sewing machine and have the needle go through my finger and nail. I think I will stick to knitting.

And the nephew has a name! Hunter!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Book Report: An Ice Cold Grave

I was first introduced to Charlaine Harris when I started to read her Sookie Stackhouse 'Southern Vampire' series - and enjoyed her so much so that when she came out with a new series, I picked it up right away. While the worlds of Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly (the heroine of this series) touch on the supernatural, they could not be further apart.

There are no vampires, werewolves, and fairies in Harper's world - she is much more grounded in ours, with the bad guys being serial killers, neglectful parents, and kidnappers. How does Harper connect with all of this? She can find corpses - and on the odd occasion, see ghosts and souls. As a teenager Harper was struck by lightning, and while horribly injured in the event - she came away with this gift. She senses a 'tingle' in her brain when there is a dead body nearby - and the fresher the corpse, the stronger the feeling she gets. So what does she do with this gift? Along with her stepbrother/companion Tolliver, she has a business where she finds lost children and solves murders.

It's not an easy job - people naturally think she and Tolliver are mercenary frauds, and time and time again she has to prove herself - and then on top of that prove that they had nothing to do with the crime on hand. She says in one part of this book that the FBI has a thick file on her to do with this exact thing. They don't like her, are suspicious of her, but resort to using her abilities when nothing else works.

An Ice Cold Grave is the third book in the Harper Connelly series, and Harper and Tolliver find themselves in rural South Carolina to help a (stereotypically) mistrustful Sheriff with the disappearance of six local teenage boys. Sheriff Rockwell is new to the position, and elected to it because of these crimes. Her predecessor dismissed the disappearances as runaways but she knew in her gut that it couldn't have happened to the range of boys gone missing. Harper does her job, but in doing so angers the perpetrator coming after her and putting her into the hospital - all in the midst of an ice storm.

The book moves at a very fast pace - 280 pages and it only took me a day to read (yeah, I had the day off yesterday). There are some surprising changes to Harper and Tolliver's relationship - apparently Harper wasn't the only one struggling with the 'brother' label. Harper's mother and Tolliver's father had married when Harper and Tolliver were teenagers - but they are not blood relations. I have to say I guessed the perp quite early in the story, but still liked how the story was brought about - and am eagerly awaiting the next volume in this series.


Extra Credit Thursday Book Report

Fairyville by Emma Holly

Yeah... Just read Susan Johnson's caption on the front cover. Yum. I think that is all that is required.


Oh - and the nephew still hasn't got a name yet!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Have A New Nephew!

Isn't he a beauty?!?!

He was born yesterday morning, and if I remember correctly, Jaime said he was 8lbs 8 oz and 21 inches long. Right now I think he looks more like his Daddy, but we will see what happens.

I want more pictures!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Christmas Package and a Christmas Outing

Woohoo! Look what I got in the mail on Friday!

This was my Knitty Sno-flake Swap from Holly and I love it! First and foremost is some absolutely lovely Merino-cashmere yarn (240m - someone give me some ideas of what to do with it!), one of my favourite Christmas movies - 'Love Actually,' a snowman ornament, lots of chocolate (Yeah, Willow has laid claim to most of that), some Christmas-y votives, a lovely-smelling sachet (lavender?), and she even sent some stuff especially for Willow (the stickers and the snowman pencil). Holly, thank you very much!

Last night we went to Longwood Gardens with our friends Asami, Gara, and Ray - and met some new friends, Doug, Yuko, and Chura. Longwood Gardens has a magnificent Christmas tour and it is a popular destination this time of year.

Please excuse the outside pictures - my camera was low on batteries and wasn't too keen on focusing for the outside shots. They have huge trees lit up all over the place and it looks like a fairy wonderland:

Another blurry shot:

This room was set up for a party in what I could only assume was a theme inspired by the with in "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe":

This was the Christmas tree opposite the dining table:

This was the prettiest poinsettia I saw all night - it was called a "Cinnamon Star":

This ball is a Christmas cactus and it was easily four feet across:

I could have taken pictures all day in the orchid room, but the 5 year old whining to get picked up and the dying camera batteries were against me. Still, I did manage two nice shots:

Truly, if you love orchids and are traveling through southeast Pennsylvania, you have to stop here.

This one. Hmm. Those people for whom this shot is intended know who they are...

Willow and I in our hand-knitted finery (me in my Calorimetry and Willow in her Nippertails (and as usual, Willow has her eyes closed.)

And our walk back out:

We all had great fun and it was a beautiful night to walk around. We all went back to Asami's place afterward and she made the most delicious curry rice... just the thing to warm us up after a cold night out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Book Report: Devil May Cry

Now this is an odd situation. I have recently both read the physical book and listened to this book on audio CD. Why odd? Well, I am going to give different (and divergent) reviews for the two.

This book is part of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series - I looked on her website to find out which number, but it is a bit confusing - it is listed as the 21st story in the series (some were novellas and short stories). Dark Hunters are nigh-immortal guardians of humans - their main goal is to protect the world from daimons, a vampire-like race created when Apollo lashed out against a bloodline after his son was killed. The leader of the Dark Hunters is Acheron (or Ash), a mysterious (and likewise cursed) person with ties to Atlantis and the erstwhile sex companion to Artemis.

The main characters in this book are Kat (one of Artemis' handmaidens) and Sin, a Sumerian ex-god. Ex as his godhead was stripped from him nearly three thousand years ago. Kat has been a recurring character in many Dark Hunter novels, usually as female muscle and/or a close friend of the female lead.

Artemis made enemies with Sin long ago, and he has made it his only wish to see her destroyed. Kat? Well, Artemis in her fear sends Kat to remove Sin from the picture - but instead of doing this she becomes intrigued by the non-daimons he is fighting and horrified when he seemingly desecrates human remains. She soon realizes who he is and why Artemis perceives him to be a threat - and her own part in the scheme of things. So, instead of fighting him she joins him in his work, partly out of guilt and partly out of lust.

Ash plays an important part in the storyline, but I can't get into that without getting into an integral plot point. Suffice to say, I am always pleased when the author manages to surprise me after so many installments in a series.

It's a romance novel - the sex? I wasn't terribly moved or impressed her (it was no Night Play!) All in all, Sin didn't do it for me. It was interesting, however, to have the introduction to the Sumerian pantheon. I'm looking forward to see if Kenyon can pull another god or goddess out of that one - especially Sin's ill-treated daughter, Ishtar.

Onto the audiobook. It was narrated by Holter Graham and was the unabridged edition. I didn't like it. He made Sin sound like he perennially had a frog in his throat, Kat like she was an insecure California girl who ended every sentence on an upswing - but my most savage criticism is reserved for his portrayal of Kissar, who came across as part John Travolta, part Russian mobster, and part Apu. This was the first of Kenyon's books I have listened to on audio and I hope that plenty more come along... but I equally hope they use a different person for the narration.

In the end, I am not entirely pleased with the direction that Kenyon has taken Kat's character. I rather liked her as the prickly mysterious warrior princess torn between two pantheons... but I suppose everyone is due his or her happy ending.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

Look! Real knitting! A whole one and a third socks done! I have to confess, I am loving this sock yarn. It is Blue Moon Fibers' Socks That Rock in the 'Gingerbread Dude' colourway.

A close-up - isn't it pretty?!? The yarn feels so nice, too -I definitely think this is one I will come back to and knit again. I bought it at Stitches East earlier in October.

There has been some crocheting going on around here as well - here is the baby blanket for my sister Teri's Raisin, who is due to come on the scene sometime in February. She and Carl declined to find out whether Raisin was a boy or a girl, but my hunch is pointing me toward boy, so I am knitting a cornflower blue blanket.

I figure if Raisin turns out to be Raisinette, she will just be the lucky recipient of a pretty blue blanket!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blame it on Ed

It's all his fault.


Now, I have to say I take exception to this. Just because I *know* a lot about alcohol doesn't mean I imbibe often.


I had to work from home today - Willow has had a snotty cold and cough the last few weeks and over-the-counter stuff had been keeping her somewhat less snotty... until last night, that is. Poor thing -she coughed until she vomited and I felt like the worst mother on earth because I couldn't give her any more cough medicine as I had dosed her only 2.5 hours before. She saw her pediatrician today and he diagnosed her as having a nasty sinus infection - which in turn caused the cough. We are now armed with antibiotics and high-test cough syrup. I feel bad, though - she missed out on the gingerbread house making activity in her kindergarten today.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Henry the Eighth I am I am...

Well, not quite...

Found this on Dulcedosa's blog:

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

I think that is a fair assessment of me. Plus, Katherine Parr was one of the few of the wives who made it out of the marriage alive and in one piece -so woo-hoo!

I'm really excited to see The Other Boleyn Girl when it comes out in a few weeks. I think Natalie Portman will make a fabulous Anne Boleyn. And in a few more weeks after that, the first season of The Tudors comes out on DVD and my Netflix queue is all ready for it... bring it on!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Meme for a Lazy Sunday

Stolen from CBear's blog

1. Elaborate on your default icon:
Which one? My blogger one is an old picture of me and
Willow, and for the life of me I can't figure out how to change

2. What's your current relationship status?
Happily married for ten years.

3. Ever have a near-death experience?
Not really - but I was in a car accident in my senior year
high school with my friend Lisa. I remember closing my
eyes as we crashed, thinking "well, if we are going to die I
sure as hell am not going to watch!"

4. Name an obvious quality you have:

5. What's the name of the song that's stuck in your head
right now?
Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on my Guitar"

6. Any celeb you would marry?
I don't think I could stand the scrutiny of celebrity life.

7. Who will cut and paste this first?
Not sure - blog comments have been way down recently. I
kind of hope it is the holidays and that I haven't pissed
someone off.

8. Has anyone ever said you look like a celebrity?
As I child I used to get Shirley Temple a lot - it's the
curly hair. As an adult I have been told I look like Natalie

9. Do you wear a watch?
No - I can't stand to have it bang on the keyboard. I use
my cell phone for a watch.

10. Are you pierced?
Only once in each ear.

11. Do you have any tattoos?
Nope. Figured the stretch marks were ornamentation enough.

12. Do you like pain?
I have a high tolerance for pain, but can't say I *like*

13. Do you like to shop?
Only for certain things - like books and yarn.

14. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
Mushroom soup and french bread for lunch in the cafeteria

15. What was the last thing you paid for with your credit
Books from Amazon last week. Can't say what, though - elf

16. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
My MIL - about 5 minutes after my Mom and Dad. She was
asking about Willow's head cold.

17. What is on your desktop background?
Bah humbug. Nothing since my hard drive at work crashed
and they replaced it and I don't have access to webshots

18. What is the background on your cell phone?
A picture of winsome Willow eating french fries.

19. Do you like redheads?
Yes - especially really dark redheads.

20. Do you know any twins?
Plenty - even in my own family.

21. Do you have any weird relatives?
Yes - and they all know who they are!!!

22. What was the last movie you watched?
In the theater - Enchanted (lots of fun!). At home - the
last Die Hard movie.

23. What was the last book you read?
Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

24. Is there such a thing as love at first sight, or it is
more likely to be lust at first sight?
Lust - because I think you need to know someone to love

25. What's your favorite book?
I'm a big fan of series - and I would have to say S.M.
Stirling's Nantucket series (and its Oregon offshoots).

26. When was the last time you visited the street where you
first lived?
Close to ten years ago. There had been a industrial park
down the street when I lived there, and the industrial park
has grown to encompass everything around it. No green
areas anymore.

27. When was the last time you googled your own name?
Last week - found out there is dean of a prominent
university with the same name.

28. What was / is your favorite subject at school?
English primarily - but despite an annoying as hell
teachers, I enjoyed Chemistry a lot as well.

29. What was / is your least favorite subject at school?
PE because they made us run laps.

30. Do you like having your photograph taken?
I don't like candid shots, but I don't mind if you let me

31. What time were you born?
7:26am PST

32. Ever seriously questioned your sanity?
Every time I think about having a second child. This one
drives me batty - surely another one will make me catatonic.

33. How many phone numbers do you have remembered and can
say off the top of your head?
Nearly every phone number I have ever had.

34. Can you Limbo?
I can get lower than waist high - does that count?

35.Have you ever killed your own dinner?

36. How long have you been living at your current
Nine months

37. What phobias do you have?
Spiders and slugs

38. What's your ideal breakfast?
Vanilla latte and a two-egg omelet with fried potatoes,
onions and cheese on the inside. Served with ketchup and lots
of black pepper on top.

39. Where are you right now?
That's classified information.

40. Why do you blog?
I need the attention. Honestly - that was the first
thought that comes to mind. Also because I like the idea of
documenting at least part of my life.

41. What would you call your autobiography?
I will have to think on that a bit more.

42. What's the longest time you've stayed out of the
country / where?
Well, that's up for debate. I am Canadian, but haven't
lived in Canada since 1995. I lived in Japan for the first
three years, and then here in the US on my return from Japan.
So I guess you could say 12 years and counting.

43. Do you use ICQ, AIM, etc..?
Yahoo Messenger and virtually never unless Keith catches me

44. Do you have nightmares frequently?
Not recently, but I have 'angry' dreams a lot.

45. If you were another person, would you be friends with
Yes - I make great cookies.

46. Which TV character could you be friends with?
Chuck from 'Chuck' - and I would have a secret crush on

47. What's on your mouse pad?
I don't have a mousepad - it's just an extension off my
keyboard tray.

48. What is your ring tone?
Tchaikovsky's 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies'

49. What did you watch on TV last night?
Last year's Dr. Who Christmas episode - 'The Runaway Bride'

50. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy ending all the way.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Book Report: Dexter In The Dark

What is a synonym for the idiom 'in the dark'? That's right... 'clueless'

Remember a few blog posts ago I said that I wasn't only going to write book reports on book I enjoyed? Well, I am about to hold up that promise. Dexter In The Dark is the third book in Jeff Lindsay's series about a serial killer in Miami who redeems himself by offing other bad people. Some people may better recognize this character from the Showtime series Dexter (and Michael C. Hall is an inspired bit of casting in my opinion!)

Admittedly it has been a while since I had read the first two Dexter novels (there was a gap of over two years between books 2 and 3), but when I started reading this book, I started feeling rather clueless. Maybe my view of the storyline and characters has been tainted by my recent viewing of the television series - but I don't remember Rita being such a flighty twit or her kids being mini-psychos in the making!

I had a big problem with the children's storyline. No parent likes to think of children being future psychopaths or sociopaths. I feel that Lindsay is putting too much emphasis on the environmental impact of childhood on a person's development. Dexter is the way he is because saw his mother dismembered with a chainsaw and was left alone with her body for a few days when he was only three years old (Okay - I did mention that this is a series about a serial killer killing other serial killers!) Astor and Cody didn't have that level of horror inflicted upon them and yet here we have Dexter grooming them in similar ways that his adoptive father Harry has schooled him.

Another detraction from this story was the multiple points-of-view and the mystical shadow or being that Lindsay infers all killers have. Somehow I don't think this off-shoot of the storyline was thought through thoroughly - because if it were the case, Dexter should have been 'seeing' these long before now. And the ultimate let down... well, I won't get into what it is because I don't want to give away a large part of the story - but suffice to say, I can't believe Dexter would be such a wienie when things don't go his way.

For all of the this being a negative review, there were enjoyable moments in the book - chief among them was how Dexter and Rita's overbearing(and over-charging!) wedding caterer is dealt with. I think there is a good underlying story to this novel, but Lindsay somehow felt the need to pad and elaborate and in the end the cohesiveness of the story was lost.


Holly asked me how I find time to read, knit, work, etc. The truth is, reading is usually higher on my list of priorities than sleeping. I love my night reading light! For the most part I can read 'til the small hours of the morning and Andrew doesn't complain. Just shakes his head in dismay when he asks me the next morning at what time I put the book down...

Batty said she admired my time management skills. Sweetie, you are welcome to come over for tea or coffee any time. Just don't mind the fact that we have lived here for nine months now and I haven't finished unpacking. Priorities, people!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WiP'd It Already Wednesday (But It Was A Secret!)

Friends do not let friends spin out sock yarn in the washing machine when they are really tired. Because sometimes they are so tired they put it on for the full cycle and not just spin and then have to spend two hours painfully unravelling it all around and around.

Okay, I learned that lesson. On the positive side, I got lots of exercise this past week walking around and around my sunroom unravelling stuff!

A few weeks ago my friends in my knitting group decided we would have our Christmas party in a local fondue restaurant. I was really excited about this because the last time I had fondue was on my 21st birthday party... and um, as we all know from my recent birthday contest, that was 14 years ago. I decided I wanted to make something for my friends - knitting them something seemed silly - they all knit for themselves - so I decided to hand-dye some self-striping wool for them. I ordered some Swish Superwash sock yarn and worsted weight from Knitpicks and off I went.

This one is for me... I have wanted some blue and brown sock yarn for the longest time, and I call this 'Lazy Friday in Jeans.'

This sock yarn is for Denise. I called it 'Denise's Water Lilies' because she like fishing and boating:

This one is for Kathy. It is the worsted weight and I called it 'Kathy's Mystery' because the first go-around with the dye left it half bright electric hunter orange. It was supposed to be peach! I over-dyed it with two different blues to negate the orange. Now it is sunny Caribbean blue on one half, a muted browny/purply/navy/black on the other:

This sock yarn is for Michelle. I was inspired by a vest that Michelle had knit for herself earlier this year, so this colourway is called 'Michelle's Vest.'

I even tried to make it look semi-professional by making myself some yarn labels as well - check out the name:

No, I have no plans to go into business here. There are plenty of people who do this better than I do and it is an awful lot of work!
Here are some pictures of our meal:

This was the main course and there was sirloin, lobster, shrimp, pork, chicken, steak, ravioli, and vegetables in a spicy wine/citrus/chicken broth.

Michelle and Denise digging into the chocolate dessert fondue:

A closer look at the food:

Cheesecake, brownies, strawberries, bananas, rice crispy treats, marshmallows dipped in a milk chocolate/Baileys/pecan concoction.
I don't believe I will be eating tomorrow...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Come Join Me In Bouluria!

This was fun! You know those AT&T commercials right now where the person creates a new palce name based on places they live and work? Courtesy of Stuck on Socks I found the link to the AT&T website where you can create your own fictional place. Mine? Bouluria - a combination of the last three places I have lived before our current address. Anyone want to puzzle them out? My family and friends are not allowed to answer!

If anyone (except friends and family because that would be cheating!) guesses it I may even throw in some yarn...

(edited - I changed the name to omit our current address.)