Friday, December 31, 2010

All Was Calm, All Was Bright

"Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved."
~Augusta E. Rundel

A Kaufman Family Christmas in Photographs

The warm and cozy.

As always, I wrapped my gifts in brown paper.


Glitz and Glam.

Plenty of card playing.

Charlie and Millie get presents, too.

Sparkle City.

Glowing Memories.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Almost Here...

"Peace on earth will come to stay,
When we live Christmas every day."
- Helen Steiner Rice

It's Christmas week, you know. Thankfully, I'm just about set- only a few more treats to purchase and two more sets of booties to knit.

Nothing like kicking off the festivities with chocolate chip cookies and hot, creamy coffee for breakfast. It is Christmas week, after all. grin.

And the hearty dusting of freshly fallen sparkle snow that I woke up to? Perfect.

Have a wonderful week, full of special memories and fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"If you want to make a snowman,
I'll help you make one-- one, two, three.
If you wanna take a sleigh ride,
The ride's on me."
~Rosemary Clooney

I got my wish.
Another snow day.
Happy, happy me!

The Winter Spa

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
~ Maya Angelou

I've always been a "hand-person". I feel that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at his/her hands. The hands, in my opinion, are an insight into the life, struggles, triumphs, and successes of an individual.

Perfect polish or chewed cuticles? Filed edges or french salon tips?
Chipped cherry-red nail lacquer, or buffed pink shine?

I look at rings on both men and women, and I smile when I see those bands of love. I think back to how my great grandmother never even had an engagement ring or wedding band, yet she enjoyed years of marriage to her very best friend.

I look at callouses and admire the effort and intensity put into hard work. I see scars and age-spots and think of a life well-lived.

I imagine all the wonderful things those hands have done. The tears they've wiped away, the high-fives they've given, the children they've comforted, the love ones they've carried.

But, on another, perhaps more uplifting note, I'm also obsessed with soft hands. I try so hard to keep mine silky and supple through the harsh Pennsylvania winters.

I spent the day wrapping presents and knitting, so I figured I'd take a small break and treat myself to my favorite, all-natural sugar scrub. I hope you try it, too. I promise that you will fall in love- with the sugar scrub, that is.

In a small bowl combine:

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Rub all over your hands, rinse with warm water, and follow up with vanilla lotion or coconut oil.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy, Happy and a Good Read

"Star light, star bright, wish upon a star tonight.Add Image
Let it snow and snow all night,
so school's let out by morning light."

I just took my sweats out of the dryer. Mind you, they were already plenty dry and neatly folded away in my closet. However, it's a tad freezing and I needed some extra warmth. Ten minutes on the fluff cycle was like slipping away in a hot bubble-bath.
happy sigh.

While I listen to the wind whip and whirl outside, Charlie snuggles close to her pillow and gently chews on her little paw. Perhaps she's cold, too.

But, even though it's cold-- make that freezing-- you won't hear me complaining. I love nothing more. This cold, severe winter weather puts the sprinkles on my cookies. It makes me wish that I lived in a snug log cabin with a huge stone fireplace and a generous hearth. Worn braided rugs, a dutch oven full of potatoes and veggies roasting over a wood stove, sheepskin slippers, and rugged flannel shirts. Yes, that's what I dream of this evening.

I've always been one to connect with what I read, and lately I've been absorbed in a book called "The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love" by Kristin Kimball. And as I read this memoir about a thirtysomething, Harvard graduate who falls in love with a farmer, I find myself drawn into their life. I feel their struggles. I smell the potatoes, freshly pulled from the ground. I hear the floorboards creek and groan, as they rise at 4:00 a.m. to tend to the milking duties. I shirk in pain as they take frigid showers because they don't have hot water.

But, most of all, I marvel at Kristin and Mark. I admire their dedication, teamwork, and shared vision-- to grow everything needed to feed an entire community. Two people, from two completely opposite backgrounds, who come together to nourish and feed and provide.

mmmmm....I can practically hear the crackle of my imaginary fire, and I can almost reach out and stir my invisible vegetable stew. But, it's only a dream, a little vision and hope that I've tucked away for my someday.

For now, I'll celebrate the fact that school let out early. I love early out days. It's like a bonus point in the test of life. Dare I wish for a snow day tomorrow?

(Yes! Yes! Yes! Come on wind...kick it up a notch. Come on cold temperatures. Start dropping already.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanks, Dad.

"To her the name of father was another name for love."
~ Fanny Fern

I'll never, ever forget last Thursday. It was a father/daughter moment at its best.

Only my dad would come to my rescue at a local hardware store and help me transport the perfect little Christmas tree. You see, I had found this tree, and simply put, I fell in love. And, yes, you guessed it; the tree was the display model and wasn't for sale.

After a fair amount of persuasion and smooth-talking, I succeed in winning over the poor woman who had the unfortunate job of manning the outdoor garden center. Frown. Other than being a housekeeper at a sleazy motel, that's got to be the most miserable job ever. I silently thanked my parents for making me go to college, and then set about waiting approximately 30 minutes for the head of the holiday center, Gino, to unbolt the Christmas tree from a wooden palette. Poor guy. He probably hated me.

While waiting, my dad and I practically had ourselves a little tailgating session in the parking lot at Lowe's. Classic. All we needed were a few drinks and some bratwurst and we'd have had ourselves a party. Finally, Gino arrived, unbolted the tree and helped us load the pine delight into the back of my dad's car. We won't talk about how much water ended up in his trunk, but I will tell you that he was a real sport about the whole thing. Bless him.

We arrived back at 403 and despite the blustery winds, flying snow, and darkness, he helped me set up the tree on the front porch. I wish I had video of him and I putting on the lights. We laughed till we cried and I'm pretty sure those babies are never coming off. Never. Never. Nev-er.

Thanks, Acey. What a hilariously great time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Warm Puppy

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
~Gilda Radner

I didn't sleep much last night. As a matter of fact, I woke up at 4:30 am, ran to the window, gazed upon a white wonderland, and began my "Snow Day Watch".

Charlie T. seemed pretty thrilled about having mama to lounge on the couch with. We didn't waste a minute of such a snuggly morning. At warp speed we plugged in the tree, grabbed our favorite blankies, turned on the news, made tea, and watched- not so patiently- until our school's name scrolled across the bottom of the television screen.

Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy!

Nestled? You could say so.

And all day, she's been this way. I think she's pretty thrilled that I'm here with her. She and I have been cuddle buddies all day. We've studied, done laundry, studied some more, and worked on a paper. Dinner is in the crock pot and the yummy smell has us both in an intoxicating grip.

Snow days- we love 'em.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tap, Tap, Tapping On Our Window Pane...

"When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I'll know I'm growing old."
~ Lady Bird Johnson

Munchkin and I already have our paws and fingers crossed. We're hoping for a snow day tomorrow. A day away from work and the normals of the Monday-Friday grind. She and I, well, we really need a mother-dogger day.

We're thinking: coffee, the Today Show, knitting, studying, and cooking.

Yes, it's the first big snow of the winter season and we couldn't be happier about seeing our favorite friend, Suzy Snowflake.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Addicting Solution

"The belly rules the mind."
~Spanish Proverb

I'm just going to cut to the chase. I have this little problem that develops on Monday and lasts until Friday. This happens every week, without fail.

At about 4:30 PM, or whenever I enter the Dott Avenue compound, I turn into a piggie. A big, hungry, I'll-kill-for-food piggie. It's quite embarrassing, really. I must change.

I developed a plan to combat my insanely ridiculous, after-school eating binges. I figured I'd make myself some healthy snacks, package them, and have them all ready to go for when my alter-ego, HHT (Hungry Hungry Teacher), stumbles through the door.

Hence, Chickpea Crunchers. Yummy, protein packed, delicious treats that not only taste wonderfully, but also deliver some nutritional value.

Thank God for this recipe. It might have saved my life.

Monday, November 15, 2010


"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind."
~Mary Ellen Chase

Meet Delilah.

She's my purple, shimmery Christmas tree.

A few weeks ago my eyes landed upon this tiny cutie in the festive aisle of Wal-Mart. And, gee-whiz, I just couldn't stop thinking about her. She epitomized everything fun. I thought about her for a solid two weeks. Then I caved and made her mine.

I called my Mama on a blustery Sunday afternoon. She was in the middle of baking bread, and although I'm quite certain she thought I was crazy, she agreed to a quick Wal-Mart run. We had 50 minutes until her oven buzzer was set to go off.

Holy wow! The two of us are quite the efficient crew. The tree and all kinds of sparkly, glittery ornaments made their way into my trunk and off to home we went. Mission accomplished...and all before we burned the bread.

Delilah is everything impractical and delightful and frivolous all rolled into one. She's that amazingly adorable tree that you secretly want, but are too practical to indulge in.


Celebrate that inner child, I say. Do something crazy and fun that makes you smile.

So, Delilah now calls my office/studio "home". She and I are great friends. We knit together and read and study and drink coffee and enjoy the scent of pine candles as they waft through the air.

It sure is beginning to look a lot like Christmas...and I just love it!


"Man's mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

After months and months of wanting to learn and after passing over hundreds of patterns due to an intimidation factor, I overcame the very thing that has been holding me back.

I drop-kicked my mental block. I defeated my opponent.

You see, many knitting patterns call for the use of 4 double pointed needles. For those of you who don't knit, that means that rather than using the standard two straight knitting needles, one knits on a rotating circle of 4 needles. Each needle has two points, or ends, and the work is pushed from top to bottom while working in a clockwise rotation.

Knitting on double pointed needles serves many functions and purposes. First, it allows for seamless knitting and second, it is perfect for little circular objects, such as the fingers of a glove.

I've really, really, really been wanting to learn how to do this, but I didn't really know of anyone who could help me. So, I did what any abnormal, desperate person would have done. I hauled it to Michael's, bought a few sets of double pointed needles and the yarn I needed for this insanely cute project I have up my sleeve, and I came home and read some cheesy how-to book.

I'm so psyched. You have no idea.

great. big. grin.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yarn Play

"It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life."
~ Barthold Niebhur

I'm up late having a little fun in my studio. Too bad I must rise early and hit up the day job tomorrow. I'm in a fierce knitting mood.

Yarns and buttons and patterns call to me. Yet, I must sleep.

So long weekend. You were fun, ultra-productive, and restful.

'till next time...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Holding On To Forever

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."
~ Vincent Van Gogh

If you stop and think about it, cameras are quite magical instruments. With the click of a button we are able to freeze moments of time forever and ever.

Forever. Humm....that's pretty powerful.

Someday we will gaze upon photos of days gone by and we will remember. Little by little, memories will tumble from the recesses of our minds and we will re-live those moments.

You've seen people do it. They sit there, studying, losing themselves in the image an old photograph holds.

What do you notice when you take a photograph in your hand?

Do you smell the long forgotten scent of a grandmother's house? Do you remember the sound of a specific laugh or notice a characteristic mannerism or gesture? Do you taste a favorite recipe or hear an old television program play in the background?

The camera is amazing, magical, and perhaps even hauntingly sacred. How else would we forever capture special moments, major events, tiny details, and the faces of our loved ones? And, more importantly, how would we hold on to them forever?

Cozy Morning Reflections

"The world we are experiencing today is the result of our collective consciousness, and if we want a new world, each of us must start taking responsibility for helping create it."
~ Rosemary Rhea

Every now and then I look at this little blog of mine and I wonder why I keep up with it. I question why I am so attached to it and why it's such a huge priority in my life. And, very quickly, I am reminded of the answer.

I write because of days like today.

Mornings when you wake up after a long night of sleep with a puppy curled in your arms who softly whimpers and snuggles closer, begging you for a few more minutes of warm rest. Days when the coffee is already brewed and all you have to do is reach for that favorite mug and the rich creamer. Mornings when you look at your husband as he sleeps and see the genuine peace and escape from the daily stress that is his life.

And you are happy, because the things in life that matter the most are good. All the important things are accounted for and the major worries are zero. You realize that you can sit around and find amazement in a dusting of snow, because when it comes to the big things in your life, you have been blessed.

And you realize what a precious thing life is and how imporant it is to take time for the littles. You know, those tiny, little events and happenings that someday will fall into the cobwebed corners of the mind.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Clouds In My Coffee

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
~ Crowfoot

I believe coffee is a necessity on evenings such as this. Cold. Damp. Blustery.

Even Charlie T. sat by the door with her precious tail between her legs, as I walked about the backyard snapping these photos. "My fur is not thick enough for this," she scolded me.

Burr. Shiver. Chill.

As I fell into my car this morning, toting one large school bag, a lunch box, a bag of dishwasher sanitized coffee mugs (I only rinse at school), and a 32 ounce water bottle, I turned the ignition and found myself greeted by the snowflake light on my dashboard. Perfect, I thought, and a grin spread across my face.

I know I'm pretty much alone in these dreamy visions of winter days, but I can't resist their allure. They tempt me, beckon me, and remind me to pay attention to the smaller things in life. Good books. Fireside chats. Couch cuddles.

As I looked at that snowflake light and adjusted the settings on my heat seat and tuned my radio to the perfect song, I noticed tiny white flecks fall upon my windshield.

Oh my! Could it really be? Was it truly snowing?

And as I continued my drive, the white flakes cascaded upon my car. I loved every minute of it. In fact, I got so excited that I turned on Christmas carols for the children today. All day long, we listened to Burl Ives sing Baby It's Cold Outside and Big Fat Santa, among other festive songs.

So now it's officially snow weather.

I've filled my favorite mug with creamy java and I'm all set for a weekend of fuzzy socks and over sized sweatshirts and studying and knitting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Allow Me to Explain

"All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that."
~ Baltasar Gracian

I really should be finishing my grades. I mean, they are due at midnight. But I can't. I just can't. The thought of logging into my electronic grade book and looking at columns of fractions and total point values and percents literally has me wanting to jump.

Put it this way; I've been a little...ummm....busy. I seem to have zero time these days. I'm not complaining, because I create these messes for myself, but sometimes I wish I could develop the "I don't care" attitude.

But I can't. I do care.

You see, I've totally redesigned my curriculum and lesson plans for this school year. You'd think that after 7 years I'd have the sixth grade figured out. Well think again. I keep reinventing the wheel, making up newer, more intense units, and ultimately making more work for myself. I just might have created a little problem.

And, then there's graduate school. I really enjoy going to the classes and listening to intelligent people share their teaching experiences, but the papers and presentations and looming mid-term exam are totally cramping my style.

It's this perfection problem I have. I can't just write a paper. I have to analyze it and reread it and critique it a thousand times before I can even begin to think it might be decent enough to turn in. ugh. Why? Why, why why???

I won't even begin to discuss how many knitting orders I have lined up and am currently working on. Whipping up treats for The Yarn Bakery continues to occupy every "free" millisecond I might come across.

So, I've been a little absent lately. However, I'm looking forward to making myself be a bit more reasonable. This pace cannot and will not last.

Big Sigh.

Ok, I'm off to do those grades now. Following that, I'll be making flashcards for my Educational Jurisprudence test and studying landmark court cases and then I'll type up two vocabulary tests for the sixth graders. Ninja and I will eat dinner at 9:30, then we will sit on the kitchen counter and talk and share and discuss....and that will be the best part of my day.

The Seashore at Halloween

"It's a beautiful day. Don't let it get away."
~ U2

Don't tell anyone, but I'm having myself a little 10 minute rest, a little "do nothing," if you will. And, I'm thinking. I'm reflecting. In these quiet moments I'm spending time remembering what a wonderful weekend I just enjoyed.

Restful and Relaxing- no. Wonderful- yes.

Children, trick-or-treating and delicious food. Pony rides on the beach, Dunkin Donut coffee, and boutique shopping. Laughing uncontrollably, parade watching, and great conversations. Oh yea, we sure did have ourselves some good old-fashion fun.

I'll skip the part about some car sickness. That's another story for another time. My chauffeur needed a smooth driving lesson. Ahem.

Sea Witch Parade

"When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn't understand the assignment. I told them they didn't understand life."
~ Unknown

Few things in life evoke such sincere happiness as a parade. Take a minute the next time you attend one. People smile, children dash into the streets and return with grins and fists full of sugary treats, bright colors dot the landscape, and laughter softly interrupts marching bands and dances through the air.

Spending the weekend with these adorable kiddos was tops.

Oh yes, parades are a true joy.
Or in this case, a hauntingly ghould time.

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