"Respect the earth, live in harmony with nature, spend time with your family, be good to your neighbor, and value the dedication, skill and care of the craftsman."

Dining Room Week

November 19th, 2017

It’s Dining Room week on the HGP. I made Fiori di Sicilia Spritz Cookies for the freezer. They’re a light, delicate cookie that should freeze well. The flavoring is “Flowers of Sicily.” I also made Cranberry Fudge, which should keep nicely till Thanksgiving.

Holiday Prep:

  • ‘Deadline Week: If homemade gifts are not done, put them away. After Thanksgiving weekend and go buy something. This is not a contest, this is life.” The deadline was for years 12/10, and I plan to keep to that. Give up the week of Thanksgiving? I think not.
  • “Get everything out for Thanksgiving Dinner and prepare everything that can be done ahead of time. Make sure enough dishes are available.” It is definitely time to cook! #2 son is coming in on Tuesday and the Empress, #1 daughter and Nico are coming in tomorrow.
  • “Stock bathrooms and first aid kit.” I don’t know about the first aid kit, but I certainly must get the guest room and the bathroom ready.
  • “Wednesday: Use one of the Freezer Meals, buy a salad at the store…” This sounds like excellent advice.
  • “Friday or Saturday: Have children make/set up Advent Calendar.” I’ll send one home with #1 son for his children.
  • “Set up the Creche area and add figures each day as we read from an Advent book. Continue until Jan. 6 when the wise men come.” I might do that after Turkey Day.

Today I have church and a play with some friends. We’ll be watching Avenue Q.

I also must make the horseradish cranberry relish:

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar

Grind the raw berries and onion together. (“I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,” says Stamberg. “I’m sure there’s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind — not a puree.”)

Add everything else and mix.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (“It should still have some little icy slivers left.”)


I’ll give half to the Empress. I may also make some more cookies, to have some to serve on Monday as well as a couple more kinds for the holidays. But cleaning is probably the highest priority.

Sweater Decisions

November 18th, 2017

The vest is finished, except for blocking. In general, I like it a lot. I will definitely make it again.

However, I don’t like the neckline. The vest is designed to have edges that are finished, more or less, as you knit.

There’s an interesting back neck band which I might try out when I next make this.

It’s also designed to have a sort of triangle of ribbing. I replaced that with a nice cable from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible. That could be why the edges just look messy rather than rustic and interesting.

So I picked up the stitches around the neck and made a small ribbing band — small enough to look like the edging on the armholes.

But then the armhole edgings looked messy, too.

Sonow I’m thinking maybe I should do the edging at the armholes as well. I tried the vest on to see how messy it looks while being worn. The answer is — not very.

I think it needs edging, though. I should still be able to finish it today. Then a blocking to get the cable looking its best, and it’ll be ready to wrap.


November 17th, 2017

I have to make my Marketplace decision about next year’s insurance. I paid thousands for health insurance last year and didn’t use it except for dental and vision. On the other hand, I’ve been blogging for the top website on the subject and therefore doing lots of research.

So my choices are these:

  • an HMO type, at about the same price I’ve been paying, with a predictable co-pay for doctor visits and prescriptions
  • a catastrophic coverage type with an $11,000 deductible, which pays nothing until the deductible is met.

Essentially, I can pay thousands for something which I will probably not use — but I might, since I could visit a doctor for $40 — or pay fewer thousands for something which I will almost certainly not use.

Half of all the healthcare expenditures in the U.S. are for about 5% of the people. Those people are typically old people with chronic diseases. I may be old, but I am in rude health and never need medical care. All Americans have about a 20% chance of needing hospital or emergency room care. But since that number aligns with the 5% needing predictable care, my chances of needing a hospital stay are actually very slim.

Now, if I have the bad luck to rend up in the hospital, I couldn’t afford $11,000 for the deductible anyway. I’d be unlikely to need that much care, actually, and if I did I would just have to pay it off gradually for the rest of my life. So the high deductible catastrophic coverage will be $1,000 or so from which I absolutely won’t benefit.

The other option will cost me closer to $3,000. That’s what I paid this year, and I’ve had a couple of dental visits, the most expensive of which came during some sort of waiting period and was not covered, and an eye doctor visit which cost me $600 counting the glasses. No doctor visits. So I might well spend more with that option and still not benefit.

That is, the most likely outcome either way is that I will pay a lot and get nothing much. From that point of view, I’d be better off paying the smaller amount for nothing much.

However, if I choose the HMO option, I might get preventive care, catch something early, and maintain my excellent health until I’m eligible for Medicaid or Medicare or whatever it is, which will actually happen in a mere five years. From that point of view, I’d be choosing between paying a lot for nothing, or rather more for something.

Studies have shown that people who get preventive care feel healthier, even if they are not healthier in fact.

Since I have to pay for it anyway, it might make best sense to pay more, and then make sure to use it.

Is It a Salad or a Cake?

November 15th, 2017

This should be a Vegetable of the Week post, but it has been more than a year since I last had one. It would have to be Vegetable of the Year, or at least Vegetable of the Undefined Months-long Time Period.

This is beet. A Chiogga beet, specifically. Courtesy of Blue Apron. It became a pickle — or at least part of it did, because no way could my husband and I eat a whole pickled beet.

We used to grow these pretty vegetables, and I put them into salads, because you always can, right? I once had an interesting conversation about salads with a group of people who had determined that anything could be a salad if it had three ingredients.

This doesn’t make sense, of course, but it did get us discussing all the thing people call a salad.I feel as though it has to involve fresh produce, but that doesn’t explain pasta salad, Jell-O salad, tuna fish salad, egg salad, or even canned fruit and vegetable salads.

What the heck is a salad? Research suggests that it is the dressing that makes the salad, and the cut up ingredients. Not the number of ingredients, but the cut up ingredients and the dressing. Interesting, eh?

In my search for something interesting to make with half a beet, I discovered Chocolate Beet Cake. Having just been ruminating on the salad issue, I was reminded of the Craftsy class I saw in which a German baker explained the difference between a cake and a torte by saying that a cake had just one or two ingredients.

The Little Girl agreed. The one ingredient in a cake could, she thought, be cake.

So would a beet be better in a cake or in a salad?

This is the big question.

Amount Per

Calories 59
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.2 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 106 mg 4%
Potassium 442 mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 13 g 4%
Dietary fiber 3.8 g 15%
Sugar 9 g
Protein 2.2 g 4%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 11%
Calcium 2% Iron 6%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 7%

Beets have plenty of fiber, and a good amount of protein for a vegetable. They’re chock full of vitamins and minerals, and they also have betaine, a substance that protects our cells from stress.

Maybe some Red Flannel Hash, or Beetroot Pudding?

Chicken hash with potatoes, beets, and kale. Delicious, in spite of the beets, which essentially taste like dirt.

HGP Attic Week

November 12th, 2017

Once again — or maybe still — I am not feeling well. Fortunately, it was a perfect day to stay on the sofa with a nice warm blanket and a Murdoch Mysteries marathon and Christmas knitting.

Above, the front of #2 son’s vest lies atop the back. I’ve reached the under-arm bind off rows. I should finish it this week if all goes well.

The attic is the cleaning area on the Holiday Grand Plan for this week. We have a little attic but we never use it, so I can clean the rest of my house, which has gotten pretty messy over the past few weeks.

Here are the other things we should do:

Holiday Prep

  • Make one batch of Holiday Goodies.
  • Make one extra meal for freezer again labeled HOLIDAY MEAL.
  • Buy two canned food items from menus (get 2 of each item, one to use and one to donate to food drive).
  • Buy 1/8th of TO BUY gifts. Save all receipts, note return policy before buying. Ask for gift boxes.
  • Wrap and label packages. If needing to ship, get some shipping boxes now and store packages in them.
  • Work at least 1 hour a day on homemade gifts.
  • Make place cards.
  • Make 3×5 card for each serving dish, list what goes in it, garnish, how much before dinner can it go in and serving silverware used with it; tape it to edge of dish.
  • Be sure all dishes are clean!
  • Borrow or buy any additional serving dishes needed.
  • Buy reusable foil bakeware from party paper place.
  • Are linens clean and ready? Unfold and verify that all spots can be hidden by centerpiece.
  • Work on centerpiece.

I’m not planning to make more cookies ahead of time. I have two kinds of drop cookies and a simple cake in the freezer, but I’ll wait and bake the weekend before Christmas.

Here are some things I’m thinking of making:

I’ve bought all my Christmas presents and all the canned goods I’ll need. Wrapping gifts must be done, and of course the Thanksgiving preparations — including buying the turkey and baking the desserts!

I think it’ll take more than an hour a day to get the handmade presents done.

Visiting the Baby

November 11th, 2017

How cute is the Baby?!

I went over to#1 daughter’s house. We had lots of conversation, worked on a frou-frou dress for the baby and shared pizza for lunch.

A pleasurable day.

Baby Visits

November 10th, 2017

The Baby is two months old. She came to staff meeting and we played.

She likes the little shaker egg. She looks for it as I move it around. She follows the sound and then focuses on it. Pretty thrilling!

KnitPicks City Tweed

November 8th, 2017

The vest for #2 son (.2) is knitting up very nicely. I’m a couple of inches short of the shoulder on the back. I like the way the ribbing up the side finishes off the sleeve edge.

This is Aran weight City Tweed on #5 needles. It’s soft and substantial, and it looks great.

At this rate, I could complete the vest by next week. I could finish my other WIPs by Thanksgiving and then I’d have just one gift per week to finish by Christmas. In short, if I spend every spare minute knitting, I just miht complete all the gifts I have planned.

If I give up working and sleeping, of course, it will be more likely.


November 6th, 2017

I felt a little under the weather, so I spent the weekend on the sofa, reading and knitting an drinking lots of fluids.

Sometimes you can head a virus off at the pass with this method.

Today, however, I am having a lot of trouble focusing. I still have a lot of work to do, and it is an hour and a half from Quittin’ Time. I’m not feeling very productive, though. I’m tempted to pack it in and go to bed.

You Only Improve What You Measure

November 6th, 2017

I’m just about at my second anniversary of using the Happy Planner. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it has improved my life. I’ve been able to take up good habits and lose bad ones, I get more done with less stress, and the arts and crafts aspect makes serious planning more fun.

But you only improve what you track. I’ve reached a point, as we can see from last week’s spread, where I put in the stickers to track water, expenditures, meals, exercise, steps, social media, and all that good stuff — but I quit tracking.

Some things have become such firm habits that I don’t need to track them, but most have not. If I don’t check off those 8 glasses of water, I don’t drink them. If I don’t make a point of doing social media posts for my company, other priorities crowd them out. Using the checkboxes helps me keep priorities clear.

I’ll do better this week. And maybe I need some washi tape over the black chevron lines at the bottom, because if it looks good, I’m more likely to enjoy looking at it — and checking off those actions.

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