In Which I Tackle the Gordian Knot & Consider Strangling a Cat With It

Yesterday I had a big goal, which was to finish making the Christmas tree skirt that I had promised to Mary and Jordan as a wedding gift. (Hey, better late than never!)

Lots of things made it difficult. Like walking into my sewing room and finding what used to be a very lovely skein of brushed baby alpaca yarn. It looked more like several tarantulas locked in mortal combat. I’m pretty sure I know who the saboteur was, and his nickname is Ginger Pants.

Over the course of the afternoon and evening, whenever I took a break from my sewing, I worked at the knot. I know it took me at least 2 hours to get it untangled. The fluffiness of the yarn made it so much worse. I thought many thoughts of wreaking some sort of appropriate retribution on Neko, who also chewed up some foam padding and other assorted things in my sewing room. Grrr!

I got the tree skirt finished at about 3:30 this morning. Yay me. I am so tired.

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Let Me Explain. No, There is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up.

So, I meant to post yesterday, but somehow it just didn’t happen. We had a great Thanksgiving. I got up early to put the breakfast casserole in the oven, and then of course got going on other food preparation.

We had our traditional breakfast of casserole (all gluten free, of course) and orange wedges and orange juice. I was blessed to have lots of help in the kitchen. In addition to the Thanksgiving dinner stuff, we also made a cheese dip and a hot artichoke and spinach dip. Jonnie came over, and so did Spencer’s friend GT.

We had a delicious dinner with 11 of us around the table. This year I just made the entire dinner gluten free. Afterwards we watched a movie and then it was time for the paper airplane races. Everybody made a paper airplane and then we all went outside and lined up on the driveway.

11-27-2014 airplane lineup

After a few practice throws, it was time for the distance race. Jonnie’s plane won by a nose.

11-27-2014 Jonnie for distance

Then it was time for the “airtime” race. The last plane in the air was GT’s. Not bad for a guy who hadn’t made a paper airplane since he was seven!

11-27-2014 GT for airtime

Then it was time to put all the planes together to judge the “prettiest.” I bet you can guess which one we chose:

11-27-2014 airplane beauty contest

Yes, Kat was the winner of best-looking plane!

11-27-2014 Kat for appearance

By then everyone was ready for pie. This year we had chess, pumpkin, maple pecan, and dutch apple. All gluten free and all yummy. Spencer, Kat and GT left to spend some time with Kat’s family, and the rest of us watched another movie.

Yesterday (Friday) we all slept in. Eventually, Walter and Spencer went to do leaf removal at the lake properties they maintain. I started backing up all my files so that Flynn can fix my computer, and I couldn’t find my external hard drive. Grrr! I filled up my flash drive but soon ran out of space.

Meanwhile, after lunch Jasper and I needed to go deliver the last two poinsettias he had sold for his 4-H fundraiser. The wife had emailed me directions to her house, so we merrily set off with the plants. I followed the directions exactly and could not even find the right street! After driving in circles several times, I remembered that my phone has a GPS which I’ve never used. Thank goodness that GPS knew what to do and soon we found the street. (My directions were missing two crucial turns onto streets that were not mentioned.)

Eventually, we even found the house number we were looking for, but the landmark I’d been told to look for was not in evidence. We got out and knocked on the door, but there was no answer. What to do? I was so anxious. There was no family name on the mailbox or anywhere else that we could see. Still, the house number was correct! So basically, I based my decision to leave the flowers there on the fact that we were at the address I’d been given, and on the fact that there was a box in the driveway labeled “books the kiddos have read.” That sounded like the kind of box a homeschool mom would have.

When we got home, I emailed her and asked her to let me know if she got the flowers. You can imagine my relief when she eventually replied that I had indeed left the flowers at the right house!

On our way back from that stressful experience, I did something that I normally avoid. I walked into a store on Black Friday. The crowds were long gone, obviously, but the deals were still in effect, and I was able to get two new big flash drives for less than half price so I can finish transferring all my files.

I did some sewing and knitting and then in the evening the kids played a game:

11-28-2014 game playing

I love it when they do that.

After Jasper went to bed, the rest of us watched a movie and I got more knitting and file-transferring done. It felt like the third Saturday in a row!

Poo Free is Not For Me

So what happened in our house today? Lots of cooking and baking. Four pies and a cheesecake happened. I made my fabulous cranberry sauce. Mary had a friend come visit for most of the day. The friend is nine months pregnant. She might have an exciting Thanksgiving!

I also went shopping for last-minute items (twice) and squeezed in a few minutes of knitting. Then we had a pie social at church, and it’s a good thing we took two gluten-free desserts, because no one else did!

And I also gave up on a project that has lasted for 13 weeks as of today. Have you ever heard of going “poo-free?” That means not using shampoo to clean your hair, and there’s a pretty big group of women who are proud to declare their independence from shampoo. Having successfully eliminated deodorant, I thought this might be a good next move. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself more willing to take some effort with my hair in order to keep it looking good. I eschewed sulfate-containing hair products many years ago.

So, I was open to this new idea, especially since my research turned up rave reviews from dozens, if not hundreds, of women. According to them, if I stopped using shampoo, my hair would grow in twice as thick, be shiny and silky and healthy and glide effortlessly through a comb or brush. It would never get greasy and I would only need to “wash” it with some alternate product maybe once a week or even once a fortnight.

I have a friend who swears by a baking soda solution followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. I knew this wasn’t for me, because I tried it before and the results were truly horrific. So, after doing quite a bit of research, I decided to go with sulfate-free conditioner. That is, you “wash” your hair with conditioner and then rinse it out and your hair magically becomes splendiferous. I was told that it might take my hair two weeks to adjust to this new routine.

After two weeks I hated going out in public with my greasy hair. I had already tried three different conditioners, including one which was intended to be used instead of shampoo. My hair always felt wonderful for the first couple of hours after I “washed” it. By the time it was fully dry, however, it was already starting to feel oily in back. I haunted a couple of “poo-free” message boards online and found that some people needed a full six weeks to adjust.

Six weeks came and went and my hair continued to remain very greasy just a few hours after I washed it. I had to remove my old shampoo from the bathroom because I was so desperate to use it. Last week, at the twelve week mark, I was pretty discouraged, so back to the message boards I went. You know what they recommended? They said that if your hair was still getting greasy after giving it time to adjust, you should rub cornstarch into it between showers, and then brush the cornstarch out.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Instead of having the carefree hair you expected, you now must “wash” it just as often and then rub cornstarch into it too if you want it to look nice. Since when do I have time to rub stuff into my hair? Besides, it sounds messy.

So today, as I waited for my turn to take a shower, and as I contemplated the greasy, stringy locks of hair that hung limply around my face, I quietly snapped inside. When it was my turn for the shower, I borrowed my husband’s shampoo and thoroughly washed my hair. It felt wonderful. It kept on feeling wonderful all day. When I had to go out to run errands, I bought shampoo. If going poo-free works for you, I’m happy for you–and also envious. It just did not work for me.

The Countdown Continues

I continue to live in a sort of twilight zone where I’m not really sick but not really well either. This morning Mary and I went to Walmart with a big fat list and came home with a LOT of food.

She made the “green stuff” (fruit salad) and I got the turkey brining and made peanut butter fudge. Jasper and Jordan teamed up to make a beautiful loaf of bread.

I also finished knitting the scarf I’ve been working on so that Mercy can give it to her friend.

At 4:45 this afternoon, I had just finished my tea and was thinking about what to do next, when I checked my phone and saw that I had a message reminding me to come pick up poinsettias before 5:00. Yikes! I remembered about it yesterday, but not today! Jasper and I jumped into the car and drove up to the 4-H meeting place to pick up the 7 plants he sold for the annual fund raiser. We got there before 5:00!

He has already delivered all but two of his plants, and those we should be able to deliver tomorrow. The 4-H kids did a great job of selling poinsettias this year, which means Jasper may finally see his dream of a 4-H Lego robotics club come true.

Despite all that needs to be done, I admit that I’ve also been reading–such a rare luxury for me. My copy of the newest #1 Ladies Detective Agency book was pre-ordered and arrived some time ago, but I haven’t had time to read it until this week. What a treat! Each book is like a visit to Africa. This book, The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café, has a puzzling case and some changes for the characters, but the reality is that I just love hanging out with them in Botswana for a few hours.

This evening I got the sweet potato casserole made, leaving tomorrow for pies. Lots of pies.

The Rash of Doom

Yesterday, I stayed home from church because I was still far from well and I wanted to feel as well as possible later in the day when Mary and Jordan arrived. I did manage to do quite a bit in preparation during the afternoon, and I made a very pretty supper which we served as soon as they got here:

11-24-14 orange chicken

That is my crock pot orange chicken, which is pretty tasty and which I really ought to make more often.
Today I woke up with a rash. I have had this type of rash twice before. Both times, it was the harbinger of a very painful and debilitating viral illness. Please pray with me that I do not get sick this time. I have a good anti-viral supplement that I am taking but I just do not have time to be sick with Lina coming a week from today!

I did some rather fruitless errand-running this morning, then came home and made a massive batch of gluten-free flour, followed by a batch of gluten-free bread and three gluten-free hamburger buns. This meant that Mary and Lucy and I could have hamburgers on buns tonight!

I cut a lot of GF bread into cubes which are now drying in the oven so I can make GF stuffing on Thursday. And, I will be getting up early to do the rest of the pre-Thanksgiving shopping, so I think it’s time for me to get off the blog and go to bed!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

I asked Mary to choose a hymn to feature today, and this is the one she chose (after we had to eliminate some that I have posted quite recently). There are, apparently, many versions of the words to this hymn. People just took the original stanzas, chopped them up, changed them, and then put them into hymnals. So this is the version I grew up singing.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Robert Robinson

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

A Day Which I Hope to Forget

Today was not a day upon which I will look back fondly. In fact, I am only posting because I didn’t post last night, and I know there are a few people who worry if I don’t post two nights in a row.

I had a really, really bad night and woke up this morning feeling very sick and weak. However, I don’t have someone who can substitute shop for me, so Jasper and I headed off to Walmart, where I alternated between wondering if I was going to pass out and wondering if I was going to toss my cookies.

I don’t think it is a “bug” of some sort. I think it is a result of some other health issues. By the time I wobbled out of Walmart, I was too weak to even load the groceries in the car. Thank goodness I had Jasper with me! I was so thankful to make it home safely and went straight to bed.

So, no sewing, cooking, or cleaning really got done. I was running a fever for most of the day. I would get up, stay up as long as I could (usually less than an hour) and then go back to bed. I hate having my plan ruined by illness.

I wasn’t the only one having a bad day, however.

Mercy has a very painful sprained ankle from running on Thursday night and can barely hobble from one room to the next.

Jasper asked permission to play with a friend until lunchtime, at which time he would return to clean in his room. 5:00 rolled around and I still hadn’t seen him. I had to haul my sick feverish body down the street in an effort to locate him. He “lost track of the time.” He also lost computer privileges and playtime with friends for the next week. I was so worried!

Lucy can no longer put off cleaning in her room and it has been very stressful. She had hoped to go to an event at the library tonight, but by the time she remembered, it was too late.

Mercy limped into the bathroom to help with cleaning and the faucet broke. This caused water to pour down inside the wall and into Walter’s workshop.

Walter had to go out in the pouring rain and turn off the water supply to the house–BEFORE anyone but Jasper had taken a shower. Then he and the kids worked hard to put buckets beneath the roof runoff so at least we’d have water for flushing toilets. I was no help at all because today, sitting up is kind of an achievement.
Poor Mercy was so horrified at the idea of going to church unwashed that she went to shower and spend the night at a friend’s place.

Walter continued to assess the water situation and ended up fixing things to the point where he could turn the water back on. My hero!

So what did I accomplish today? Lots of napping. Knitting five rows on a scarf. Crocheting the last little bit on a muff cord. Tuning my autoharp. That’s it. My bed is calling me.

One Week to Turkey Day

And I haven’t even started doing anything yet. I’d better get going!

Today was a difficult day, health-wise, and the only reason I mention that is so you’ll know that even though I didn’t do all that much, it took everything I had to get it done.

Today was the monthly homeschool lunch at the church where Lucy goes to youth group, so one of the first things I did this morning was to get going on cooking our contribution.

I also had to do school with Jasper and grade papers and prepare for my class. The food was done in time and we drove up to the church. I was able to get a few rows of knitting in before the lunch started. I got asked to knit a “bonus” project and I’m starting to get a little nervous about all the sewing and knitting I’m mentally committed to doing before Christmas.

I got to visit with some other moms at the lunch and then Lucy’s friend Martha came home with us, after a brief stop at the park so that I could drop off a copy of my book to one of the moms at park day. We don’t get to go to park day anymore because of my class.

We arrived home half an hour before my class started, which barely gave me time to make tea, print out my materials, and find the DVD for us to watch. I was just so grateful to make it through the class, and grateful for caffeine too!

Now I don’t have to teach again until December 1st, which is the day Lina returns!

Meanwhile, I need to keep track of Lucy’s efforts to clean her room. It needs to be in tip-top shape before Mary and Jordan arrive this weekend, because Lina will be coming the day after they leave!

I spent at least an hour today trying to get a “free” knitting pattern from the internet. I found the pattern on Ravelry and followed the link, only to find that I couldn’t access the pattern unless I joined the Yahoo “group” associated with it. So I joined the group, was flooded with a bunch of emails about it, and still can’t get at the pattern! So vexing.

Happy Day

What made today happy? Well, certainly not the lack of pain. My teeth continue to really give me grief, and I only have one more day of antibiotics to take.

One happy thing about today was that I helped Lucy clean in her room in order to begin preparing for her sisters, and I found her red cloak that has been lost for a full year! I’m surprised you didn’t hear my shout of exultation from wherever it is you live. It is such a lovely cloak and I knew it had to be up there somewhere!

I also made my first batch of hot chocolate mix for this winter. When I make hot chocolate mix, I don’t fool around:

11-19-14 cocoa mix

Cookie Delivery and Critique

After a really bad night last night (I have some health issues that sometimes surface at night) I struggled to get going this morning, and I was nervous about going to meet our new neighbors. Jasper and I went over there with our plate of cookies. Both parents were home, and they were very friendly and gracious. Their son was off at school, so we left the cookies and our good wishes before returning home. I’m so glad the boy was not as seriously hurt as we feared, but I still feel bad that he had such a traumatic introduction to our neighborhood!

After lunch Lucy and went out to run some errands. The time has come to make my world famous hot chocolate mix and we needed to stock up on the ingredients. Well, maybe it’s not world famous, but it’s pretty well-liked among my friends and family! I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment seeing that I don’t drink hot chocolate myself.

After returning home I just had to get my stuff together and head out for my critique group meeting. I am so thankful for those ladies who are skilled at finding my mistakes and pointing them out to me! Really. It is so helpful. Then we had our regular writers’ meeting, so I didn’t get home until almost 9:00. My one evening out per month!