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Funeral Dirge for a Crock Pot

Today was a sad day in the AuburnChick home.

I pulled out my crock pot to make this recipe.

After mixing two bottles of beer with 28oz of ketchup, I lifted the porcelain insert and prepared to carry it to the outer, metal heating element.

To my dismay, I heard a loud pop and watched as ketchup decorated my counter and floor.

What in the world?

Taking a closer look, I saw this…

The bowl looks intact until you view it from this angle…

The bottom fell out…neat as can be (minus the ketchup mixture).

Ever the dedicated blogger, I called out to Rooster, begging him to grab the camera.

Then, I called out to the Mr.  He took one look at the mess and said, “Never did we have stuff like this happen to us until you started blogging.  Time for you to stop.”

Um, not on your life.

Anyhoo…

Clean-up was no fun, but I figured out that I could open the dishwasher, fit a bowl under the cabinet edge, and scrape the ketchup into the bowl…

As I put the pot into the trash, I sang a funeral dirge…

Dum, dum, da dum, dum, da dum, da dum, da dum.

Mr. Crock Pot, I first met you when you first made an appearance…either at my wedding or my first Christmas as a married woman.

You served many purposes over the years…

  • Meal preparer
  • Baby bottle warmer-upper
  • Hot compress preparer (when Chicky had a staph infection and needed sterile compresses round-the-clock)

People tried to tell me I needed to replace you as you were an antique, but I stuck to my guns in my determination to keep you to the end.  Considering that I am addicted to technology, this is saying a lot!

Replacing you will be difficult as the bar has been set high.

I told the Mr. that I would ask for another one for my birthday, but he said that he will buy me one sooner as I have come to rely heavily on my cooking friend.  In his words, “I’m sure we can find something inexpensive.”

To which I replied, “Well, actually I’d like one with a timer…all the bells and whistles.”

To which he rolled his eyes and smiled.  We have, after all, been married a long time.  He knows me well.  I’ll wear out favorite items, but when it’s time to throw them out, I’m definitely going to get the latest and greatest.

Writing Thank You Notes

Technology is wonderful, I’ll admit.  These days, we have email, skype, and even video conferencing via game consoles!

However, it is my opinion that by gaining the ability to communicate instantly with the masses, we’ve lost the art of connecting at a more personal level.  As a result, some traditions have lost their importance and are thought of as “quaint.”

One of these is the act of writing notes.

I began penning notes during my senior year of high school when graduation gifts began arriving in the mail.  It was the only way I had of personally thanking those whose generosity had touched my life.

I spent many evenings before my wedding dutifully, yet joyfully, writing notes.  The Mr. finished this task after we got home from our honeymoon…while I was at work.

After Chicky was born, we continued this tradition, allowing her to “sign” each card with her crayon-laden fingers.  Rooster joined her after his birth.

Every year, after birthdays, Christmas visits, and other unexpected treats, we have all written notes.

I’ve heard from some people that it’s not necessary to write a note if you’ve thanked the person face-to-face; however, I think it is important to hand-write our words of gratitude.  It’s been a good way to reflect on the gift giver and the memories we recently created with them.

And so, the tradition will continue.

You can be sure that Chicky will be sent to college with a collection of personal stationary, a book of stamps, and an address book.

It’s one small gesture that stands out in a world of impersonal, electronic how-do-you-do’s.

Hot Chocolate Day!

In one of my previous posts, you saw the Mr. Coffee Hot Chocolate Maker I received for Christmas.

Today I finally had a chance to run to the store and buy milk, so that meant that today was HOT CHOCOLATE DAY!

First, I unpacked my new gadget…

The ingredients were few…

4 tbsp cocoa mix and 16oz of milk

If you choose to make the hot chocolate using water, you have to increase the amount of cocoa.  One item I did not have was chocolate syrup.  I will watch for it to go on sale and indulge myself.

I added the ingredients and plugged in the appliance, watching as it began to whip everything together…

I could smell the delicious aroma of hot chocolate as it heated up.  It was ready in under ten minutes.  I love the auto-shutoff feature!

The most important test?

Taste!

YUM!!

The hot chocolate was frothy and had a creamy texture.   YUM!!!

For fun, I shot a little bit of video…just so you could see the live action…

Betcha want one of these now, eh?

A Thoughtful Friend

When I walked out my front door this morning, I discovered a package.

Hmmm…I wondered what it was since it was addressed to me.

Was this another free item I had signed up for on the internet?

I had no idea.

When I opened it, I saw this…

I checked the packing slip, unsure if I had accidentally ordered something.

That’s when I discovered the note enclosed…

Oh my!  It appeared as if I had a Secret Santa!

As I tore open the wrapping, I racked my brain…trying to figure out who had sent the package.  Beneath the packaging was this…

Oh my, oh my!

Whoever it was knew that I love chocolate!

The only people I know in California are my knitting friends.  I mused about this as I opened the box…

Oh my, oh my, oh my.

About the time I popped a piece of heaven into my mouth, I was alerted to a Facebook update.

Susan, one of my internet/knitting friends welcomed me home and asked if I had found a package.

Woo Hoo!  Mystery solved.

I wasn’t surprised to find out she was the generous gifter.

I met Susan on KnittingHelp.com.  One day, she found out I had never seen Malabrigo, and she insisted on sending me a skein.  She actually sent two, I think.  I was shocked that one person would send another person such a lovely gift…simply because that person had not had the pleasure of experiencing the joy of owning a particular item (should have told her I’d never driven a convertible!).  heehee

Coincidentally, when I read Susan’s blog today, I discovered just how generous she can be.  Hop on over there and give it a read.  It will touch your heart.

This is a gal who has been through a lot in the last couple of years.  That she can be so thoughtful is both inspiring and humbling.

Thanks, Susan, for making my day.  Huge hugs to you, my Friend.

Goodbye Willie

On Wednesday, my local community will bid farewell to an amazing gentleman.

His name was Willie, and I knew him because of his job as a soccer referee.

Good referees are hard to come by in our parts, so it was always a relief to see Willie take the field.

Like most refs, he wasn’t perfect, but we all knew he did his best to be fair.

It always amazed me to watch a man of his age (no disrespect meant) run up and down that field in the cold temperatures and frigid rain.

I loved the way he talked to the players on the field.  He maintained a sense of humor even while parents were hollering, “Now c’mon, Willie.  You know that wasn’t offsides.”

The thing that will stand out most in my mind is the respect Willie showed to his country.

Last season, I captured the following photo of him…

I know, I know.  I needed to be standing at attention myself, but I was so moved by the sight of him, that I could not resist the urge to pick up my camera.

I am so glad I did.

Who knew that this spirited man would suddenly get ill?  It seems like only a couple of weeks ago when he worked one of Chicky’s games.

Sigh…

Willie, we’re going to miss you more than you will ever know.  Soccer games will not be the same without you.

Random Dozen

Linda posted this list of questions, and I totally loved them, so I’m gonna answer them here!

1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends? YES!!  I don’t share drinks with anyone, including my children!  Blech.

2. What have you learned this year? (You didn’t see a question of that weight coming, did you? At least not for #2.) Taking challenges one step at a time is less intimidating than looking at them as a whole.  It’s just like walking…one step at a time.  Or else I, being the clumsy person I am, fall flat on my face.

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?  Within a few days of getting home from visiting family…usually before January 1st.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:  Finishing my super-secret project.

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?  Spring takes forever to get here after Christmas!

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?  I bought stuff, but it wasn’t on sale.

7. Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve?  Nope.  Just staying home.

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?  Chicky’s 18th birthday!

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)  Definitely drama.  With a husband, two teenagers, and three dogs, could it be anything but?

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.  At least an hour.

11. Who runs your household?  Me.  It should be the Mr. though.  But I won’t let him.

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.  To find a teaching job.

Throwing Out the Word “Practical”

Yeah, yeah…I know.  I haven’t blogged in a few days.

What can I say?

It took awhile to pick up the pieces of my broken heart after unskillfully destroying the two knitted gifts I had tried to whisk out of thin air.

No, I’m just kidding.

Actually, I was out of town, visiting Grand Pooba, Coupon Queen, and Super Sis’s family (they live right around the corner from the in-laws).

I cannot believe how quickly the last five days went by!

But first, I have to share a picture with you…

That, my friends, is Chili Pie.  It was the fuel that energized me during my shopping trip for a gift to replace the slippers I had made for my mom.  Doesn’t the dish look divine?!  And no, I did not have to take any of the heartburn medicine I have in my cabinet.

Getting back to the present (or rather, the last few days)…

Christmas Eve was very busy.  I rose early and, for some reason, got the bug to get my hair cut.  I opened the Yellow Pages and let my fingers do the walking.

Or rather, I kept calling places until I found one that had an opening.

The gal did a FANTASTIC job with the mess of a head that I proudly claim as mine.

Then, I went shopping with Coupon Queen.

My mission:  Locate the perfect gift for Super Sis.

We went to a Christian bookstore, where I found this…

The journal is beautiful, and I loved the way the pen matched it.  I accepted the store’s offer to wrap it…

The Mr. returned to his parents’ house, children’s gifts in tow.

We all did our thing, shopping like mad people along with half of the city.

Christmas morning came a little too early.  Chicky and Rooster woke us at the bright hour of 5:30.

Ugh.

I will say, though, that opening presents in the dark is part of our tradition.  I have no idea what I’ll do when they are older, and we open presents after daylight.

Santa left this for Your’s Truly…

Oh yeah, Baby!  I won’t tell you how many cherries are left as of this writing…

Anyhoo…

The kids investigated their gifts.  Rooster seemed very happy with what he received.  It took a little time for Chicky to warm up to her main gift, a flip-style camcorder.

Super Sis’s family arrived at the house a bit later, and the fun began.

Our tradition is that everyone takes turns opening gifts.  We go from youngest to oldest.  It’s fun because we all get to admire each other’s gifts and properly thank the gift givers.

I was very surprised when I opened my gifts…a gift card to a local bead/gift store…and the following…

A hot chocolate maker! Woo Hoo!!

A hair straightener! Woo Hoo!

I was thrilled beyond belief.  Now I can wear something pretty showing off my “Jennifer Anniston hair,” while drinking hot chocolate!  All while wearing my fuzzy robe!

Woo Hoo!

I also got money socks.  Woo Hoo!

Yeah, life is good.

Super Sis opened her gift and seemed pleased.  She’s a private journal-er, unlike me who puts almost every thought out in full public view.

For fun, I pulled out the disaster of a journal cover I had made and asked her to guess what it was.

She was at a loss for words.

I’m so mean.  heehee

Everyone seemed quite pleased with their gifts (thanks all!!!).

We cleaned up and prepared for one more Christmas celebration…with my mom and her husband.

They arrived at my sister’s house in time for lunch.

Now, I’ve gotta tell you.  Mom is an interesting sort.  She always had lots of presents for Super Sis and me to open when we were children, and she has continued this tradition into adulthood.

This means that our children and husbands get to watch us open about ten presents each.

At least.

This year Mom was too tired to wrap them all individually, so she combined them into three packages.

We got our usual assortment of Christmas-themed items…dish towels, serving pieces, and candles.

Lots of candles.

In fact, candles seemed to be the theme for the year because everyone got candles.

Even the kids.

LOL

We’ll be able to burn candles every day until next Christmas.

She returned home after spending a few hours at my sister’s house, and we all separated to do our own thing (Super Sis took a nap after rising at 3am to play video games with my nephew Music Man).

The day after Christmas, we all got up and went shopping.

Everyone had gift cards and/or money to spend.

Now, you know I don’t enjoy shopping, but when someone gives me money, oh boy.  That’s a totally different thing!

Super Sis and I decided to hit the road together, and boy did we have fun!

The first stop was at the store where her family had given me the gift card.  I picked up a lovely pair of earrings…

We visited a bead store next door and ooohhhed and aaaahhhhed over the pretty items.  Props go out to those of you who make jewelry.  That store was a little intimidating.  Guess that’s why I knit and not bead.

The next stop was Target, where Super Sis picked up some wrapping paper and ribbon for next year.  I was such a good girl and didn’t spend a dime.  I wasn’t even tempted by the large 50% signs!

Next, we met everyone at Best Buy for a little electronic therapy.

Oh baby.  This was a huge store!  I started salivating when my feet passed through the glass doors.

You see, I was on a mission…

For something totally impractical.

However, much to my disgust, they were completely out!

Go figure.  Some nutty people decided to gift the exact item I wanted to their loved ones.

After a quick lunch at Chick fil A, Super Sis humored me and drove me back to Target.

I was on a mission…

To get something totally impractical.

It was something I debated about long and hard (an entire 12 hours).

I argued with myself.

Do I really need this.  Do I really want this.

Rooster assured me that I would love it.  So did my younger nephew, Dr. J.

So I did it.

I spent ALL of my Christmas money (and it was a lot) on this…

Yes, folks, I am such a nerd.

That is a Nintendo DSi.

Do you think I could be happy with the DS or the DS Lite?

Noooooo.

I had to have the fancy, smancy internet-capable thing-a-ma-bob.

And you know what?

I felt happy.  Even giddy.

Since Super Sis was driving, I opened the package in her car.

I made her smell the new smell of the manual.

Yeah, I’m a nerd.

I lovingly ran my hand over the game console.

I think I might have hugged it.

You see, I’ve been all about practical for many months now…ever since getting laid off from my law firm job.

I was wearing a pair of pants with a rip across one knee (I’ve been told that this is “the” style), and I could have used the money to buy a pair to replace them.

Did I?

Nope.

I threw out the word “practical.”

And it felt good.

It felt a little too good though.

I am now addicted to Super Mario Brothers (thanks Dr. J for letting me play wirelessly with against you, even though you beat the pants off me).

I want NEED this game.

LOL

Another Christmas over.  What a wonderful one it was though.

I sincerely hope that all of you made some wonderful memories with the ones you love.

More importantly, I hope that you threw out the word practical and bought something simply for the fun of it.

A Day of Oopsies

Ok…so this hasn’t exactly been the best day as far as oopsies are concerned.

Things started off well enough.

Chicky and I got all three dogs to the boarding facility, although perhaps I should have paid attention to the clue to how our day was going to proceed when Chicky took the longgggggg way (i.e. she got lost) to the place (she had Molly, and I had the other two dogs since Molly and Aubie don’t get along still).

However, this was a magical day (yeah right…see previous post).

As we drove to the Mr’s grandmother’s (Mama D) house, I felt strangely relaxed.  This Christmas was turning out to be one of the best in a while.

The kids had enjoyed the impromptu gift-opening session we had last night.  Nobody complained about the presents they had received.  We all smiled for the umpteen pictures that were taken.

Our trip to even more Podunk USA was uneventful.  I actually found myself even more relaxed as I knitted and thought about the people I had grown up with.

Upon arriving at the house, we settled onto the comfy couches and chatted up Mama D.   I was anxious for her to see the booga bag I had made her, but I was polite.  After all, you don’t arrive at someone’s house and demand presents.  We’re not that redneck.

However, Mama D brought up the subject of purses herself when she told me that the one thing she wanted me to make her was a purse like Super Sis’s.  She had seen it a few weeks ago and commented about it last weekend when they visited.  She even offered to buy the yarn for me!

At that moment, Chicky announced, “Let’s open presents,” knowing what was in store.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

First, the obligatory pose…

 

Then, the look of surprise and joy as she peeked into the bag…

Mama D was so happy that she could hardly speak…

In 20+ years, I’ve never seen her hug a present before…

We went out to see the Mr’s cousins, who were getting ready to go horseback riding.  By the time we got back to Mama D’s house, she had switched her stuff from her old purse to the booga bag, and she was trying to decide what she is going to wear to church on Sunday to match the purse.

True happiness and the entire reason why I knit.

Getting back to the point of my story…

As you can see, the day was going along nicely.

We left Mama D’s house and drove to Grand Pooba and Coupon Queen’s house, arriving at 8pm.

I had my episode with the journal cover (see previous post) and went to Books a Million.

Now, I was already feeling down-in-the-dumps, and then my phone rang.

It was the Mr.

“AuburnChick, did you grab certain “bags” from the house before we left?”

“Um, no…didn’t you grab the super-important-Christmas-Eve-must-have bags?” I responded.

Silence.

We realized that neither one of us was joking.

We were an hour and a half away from some very important things.

After spending about six hours in the car, neither one of us relished the idea of going back home.

I, after all, have massive, last-minute shopping to do thanks to unkind knitting demons.

The Mr, to his credit, did not totally blame me.  Oh, he did make a weak attempt, claiming that the person who bought certain gifts should be the one to pack them.

I gently loudly reminded him that he was the shopper of said items…everyone knows I cannot stand to shop unless it’s for groceries, and I’m getting free stuff.

Yep.  That argument went right down the toilet.

We had to come up with a plan.  Who was going back?  Would said person be driving back tonight or in the morning?

The Mr did the gentlemanly/fatherly thing and got in the car.  Yeah, he grumped, but he felt fortunate that illumination had revealed this potential disaster before Christmas Eve night.

Or maybe it was Chicky’s response that she might stop believing in Santa if he didn’t leave presents for her to find Christmas morning.

Almost 18 years old, but she got us.

He left.

Sigh.

In 20 years of traveling during Christmas, this is the first time we’ve ever left gifts at home.  I sincerely doubt this little oopsie will happen again.

A P.S. to Super D.

When said blogger called a certain brother-in-law to inquire about acquiring a glass of wine to soothe my feelings of frustration, you refused, stating that said wine is highly valued in your home. 

Seems to me like another oops just occurred.  Just wait until I knit you a Bama wine bottle koozie!

Oops.

P.P.S.  I know that Super D hearts me in his heart.  I also know how much he hearts his wine.  Empathy only goes so far.

Always Have a Plan C

First off, Super Sis, if you’re reading this before Christmas, do yourself a favor and skip it.  Just for a few days.  You’ll get it…later.

Back to my story.

Somebody somewhere is having a good laugh right now…

At my expense.

You see, for some odd reason, the knitting magic has disappeared from my hands, and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why.

You’ll recall the disaster I encountered with the felted slippers.  A HUGE thanks to all who assured me that this tragedy has befallen others in the knitting kingdom.  I don’t feel as stupid as I did.

The latest mishap occurred today.

The AuburnChick family headed out for some Christmas visiting, spending oodles of hours in the car en route to our multiple destinations.

I figured this would be the perfect time to finish the project I made reference to in yesterday’s post.

The pattern I had set my heart on was the Journal Cover, found in the 2010 Calendar included with the December issue of Simply Knitting.  As soon as I saw it, I thought of Super Sis.  She loves to journal, so I figured I would pair it with a nice pen and Voila!

Of course, this is AuburnChick.  Simply saying “Voila” doesn’t make things magically happen.

Anyhoo, at 8:00 this morning, I was still blind to my lofty aspirations.  This is, after all, the Christmas season when there is magic in the air and when miracles happen.

I eagerly knit to my heart’s content, marvelling at how quickly I was making progress.

It wasn’t until we were headed to our second destination that I realized I might have a problem.

As I was working on the journal’s strap, I ran out of yarn.

Great.

I closely eyed my project.

I pulled out my ruler.

That’s when I discovered that my gauge was off…by two stitches per inch.

Yeah.  You can guess what that means.

The cover is humongous…and oddly shaped.

Still, I held out hope and carried it with me as I entered Coupon Queen and Grand Pooba’s home.

Queenie pulled out a journal she had in the closet.  I realized that this was the size the journal cover was SUPPOSED to be.

Great.

Take a look for yourself…

I didn’t exaggerate, did I?

I voiced the idea that maybe I could find a journal at the store…one that was a little taller and narrower.

Everyone raised their eyebrows.

Around this time, Super Sis’s husband, Super D, came to visit.

I explained my dilemma, and he did what everyone else was doing.

He laughed.

Oh, not a snicker, but a deep gutted laugh.

Thanks.  I feel so much better now.

We decided to play a game.  How many different things could this “thing” be?

Here’s what it looks like right now…

Perhaps it could be a wash cloth.  Except that my sister is the same size as me (which ain’t big, mind you).  This thing is large enough to almost go around her waist.

How about a kerchief?  Or a bib (to which Super D said that she has gotten kind of messy lately)?

A shawl?  Or how about if I put a dowel in the top, embroidered “Sisters are Forever” and asked her to hang it in her kitchen (to which Super D responded that this would be the thing you hang up right before said company visited). 

Gee thanks.

You know, though, I can be stubborn (ok people who know me…I know you’re SHOCKED by this admission).  I decided to visit the book store anyhow…just to make sure I had covered all bases.

Coupon Queen looked on as I tried to figure out a way to make this thing work on the many journals lining the store shelves. 

One thing she didn’t do was to lie.  She didn’t say a word as I stretched that piece of something over each book.  However, she did look visibly relieved when I finally seemed to come to my senses…declaring the mission (and the project) a total failure.

Needless to say, we’re headed out shopping VERY early in the morning.

Just for laughs, I plan on wrapping this thing with whatever her “real” present is.  Just to watch her reaction…see how nice she can be about something so utterly unusable.

As for me…Plan A, B, and C will henceforth involve better planning and a mass-produced item…just in case.

I am, after all, AuburnChick…Queen of Disaster.

Always Have a Plan B

Ugh.  Sometimes being a knitter around Christmas is not a good thing.

Oh sure, people will make comments like, “You’re so lucky.  You can just make things for people.”

Yeah, right.

That sounds like a good plan if you start in August.  However, when you start a project the second week of December and expect to have a wonderful gift by the 25th, you should always have a Plan B because, as we all know (or have learned through trial and error), things rarely go as planned.

Enter in my brilliant idea, which I got after reading this, posted by the Yarn Harlot.  These would be the perfect gift for my mom!  I was so proud of myself and patted myself on the back for being so smart.

Why, oh why does the Yarn Harlot make everything look so easy?

I mean, I was realistic in my expectations.  I knew that if she only needed 90 minutes to knit an item, I would need a week.  I know what I’m capable of.

But hey, I can knit.  I can purl.  I can seam (thanks to the frog project I recently completed).  I can most certainly felt (think back to the oodles of booga bags I’ve made).

I eagerly bought my yarn, using coupons to buy both skeins…

The directions were tres easy too, with all pieces knitted up in a few days (taking into account something called Life, which got in the way, time-wise).

However, the seaming…well, what can I say…it was a royal P-A-I-N.  But, I had read about this too, and I thought I had psyched myself up to face the challenge.

Sunday night was to be the big night…Felting Night!!

The slippers appeared to be doing okay.  I could see the yarn doing its thing…losing stitch definition.

Things were progressing along nicely.

Until…I pulled them out for the last time, figuring that 20 minutes in the washer was enough.

First of all, the slippers looked too big, still.

My mom has itsy bitsy feet.

Great.

One look at the “straps,” and I knew I was sunk.  They were misshapen.

Ugh.

I tried setting them out and shaping them with newspaper stuffed inside plastic bags.

This trick did not work.

I put the slippers on my shoe dryer to speed the drying process.

When I pulled them off, oh, they were dry.  But I still had huge issues.

They didn’t look anything like the picture in the pattern (which I had to pay for, by the way)…

The slippers had a couple of big problems:

Problem #1 – Which ends were the toes, and which were the heels?

Problem #2 – Which slipper was the left, and which was the right?

Together, these problems equaled U-G-L-Y.

Sigh.

This is what I get for allowing myself to think that I had the knit-know-how to pull this off.

But, I had little time to feel sorry for myself.  I now had an extra present to buy.

Enter Plan B.

Thanks to developing savvy shopping skills over the last few months, I snagged a box of tea from Bed Bath & Beyond, using a $5 coupon in the process.  I added a teapot from an antique store downtown, and the gift set was complete…

Poor Mom.  I think this will be the third teapot I’ve given her in the last two years.  I think I have forced her to start collecting them.  Oh well.  Plan B is better than nothing.

I think I’ve learned my lesson though…or maybe I will have learned it.  We’ll see as I try desperately to finish one last gift.  Stay tuned!

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