Mitts Off My Lunch!

Sitting there, knitting and minding my own business this morning, I hear a loud THUD into the family room window. Looking out to see if the birdie is okay, I see this:


No, the poor dove is most definitely NOT okay. He's lunch. That's a sharp-shinned hawk (an adult, even though he's very small) with one of the plethora of doves who hang out in our yard. He was kind enough to stay there while I ran for the camera.

This is the mark left on the window by the dove as it tried to escape:
Dove Mark


Christmas was a wonderfully relaxing day. The animals let us sleep until 8:30, we got up, opened stockings and gifts, made breakfast (French toast made with Panettone -- yum!), and then crawled back into bed. (Our definition of a good day often involves being able to crawl back into bed for an hour or two in the afternoon. -- minds out of the gutter, now!) There weren't a lot of gifts to one another since this splurge shortly after we moved here:


That's Django. He's a recumbent bike, made by the now-defunct Burley. I chose to go with a recumbent because of the lack of stress on my wrists (carpal tunnel is forever, even after surgery). He's fabulous, and I love him dearly. Tucson is a very bicycle-friendly city, and there are many easy routes in our area. I try to ride almost every day. M also got a bike: a pink Townie 3. She loves hers,too.

Anyhoo, spend a couple thousand on bikes and another couple thousand on furniture (at least the moving expenses were all reimbursable), and that makes for a slim Christmas.

We did, however, send gifts Maine-ward:

Moms Scarf
A scarf for my mother.

Pattern: Plain weave with a sett of 16epi
Yarn: Warp: 2/8 Shetland, lilac; Weft: WEBS 2/14 alpaca/silk hand-dyed and gifted by Gail when she was experimenting with colors
Loom: Leclerc Voyageur 15 3/4" 12-shaft

and a close-up of the fringe:
Scarf Fringe
this was my first use of my new quad fringe twister (though I only did a double fringe).

Dads Socks
Socks for my Dad, and ...

Robs Socks
Socks for my brother.

Please don't ask what the colors are, though the yarn is Regia 4-ply Strato Color which WEBS had on closeout a couple years ago.

My sister-in-law received the already-blogged Monkeys, and for the niece, well, just the bestest thing ever:

Quilt and Pillow

That's a rag quilt and matching pillow. Take seven yards of cotton flannel, cut into squares, sew into strips, sew strips into a blankie, then spend two painful evenings snipping the heck out of the thing before washing and drying (guess I love my niece more than I love my new washer and dryer). Wendy gave me the idea; she even has a tutorial (pdf file). I made my squares 8" instead of 7" so the quilt would actually be almost blanket-size for a toddler bed, and it fits the bed perfectly, as you can see:

Quilt on Bed

E loves it, as does her mother (ETA: J now wants all the leftover fabric and any more I can pick up at the store to do other decorating in the room). It seems that, unbeknownst to us, they had just moved E into her toddler bed and didn't have a blanket or quilt that fit it. I love it when things just work out like that.

About the snipping: I had to stop after doing about 2/3 of it and have M finish. It's the first thing I've encountered which truly aggravates my carpal tunnel. In fact, part of the index finger on my right hand is still numb. That killed my original plan to make us one, too. I do love this quilt, and it's really very easy if a little fussy and time consuming.

Oh, the in-laws? As I mentioned, they're the hardest people EVER to buy for. We sent them a fruit basket from Harry & David, and they loved it. We really do wish we could give them something more personal, but it's really not worth it. We've tried, believe me.

Return for the Holidays

Yeah, well, we hit some bumps in the road after Thanksgiving. Homesickness and work-related stress got the better of M for a while, but things have improved immensely now, and life is once again good. Christmas in the desert is a lot better than Thanksgiving in the desert. Just remember, the first Christmas was celebrated in a desert without evergreens or snow.

Pictures of just what we DO have in the desert for Christmas are forthcoming.

Now, to jump back in, some holiday factoids, stolen from Melissa and others.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love to wrap presents and make them beautiful with bows and ribbon and stuff. Reality, however, is that I have had to mail my gifts to their recipients at least as often as I have delivered them in person for the last two decades, so I haven't always been able to go all out with the wrapping. Okay, this is a long answer already, so here's the crux: re-use is important to me, so gift bags are a natural choice. In fact, there are some gift bags which have been making the rounds in my family for the better part of a decade. This year, many of the gifts we sent Maine-way to my family were in gift boxes (you know, the ones that already have holiday decoration?) because they were festive but easy to pack in a shipping box.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial -- for reason #1 see answers 3 and 4 -- real trees become dangerous after a couple weeks. Reason #2 is that I agree with my father that the idea of killing a tree so I can hang stuff on it for a month or so is just anathema. When I was a kid, we bought ball and burlap trees and planted them in the spring.

3. When do you put up the tree? If at all possible the day after Thanksgiving. If not, as soon thereafter as possible.

4. When do you take it down? Epiphany -- January 6 -- or as close thereafter as possible.

5. Do you like eggnog? No

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Can't really think of any. Though one year my grandmother gave me a whole make-up kit.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Many. When people don't know what to give the pastor, they give her a nativity scene -- and if it's also an ornament, so much the better. Our favorites are the frosted glass one I got in college and the one from the Middle East that M got as an ordination gift.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Hands-down my in-laws (both of them). Even M thinks so.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Our 2 1/2 year old niece.

10. Worst Christmas present you ever got? Really can't think of one.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? None. I find most of them cloying or stupid. I do, however, love "The Year Without a Santa" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I find things. I rarely go Christmas shopping -- I just buy things as I find them. We've even got a storage box in the guest room closet for them.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably.

15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas? French toast made with Panettone.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored.

17. Favorite Christmas song? "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and "Adeste Fidelis" (yes, in Latin).

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I'm married to a pastor -- if anyone wants to see me on Christmas, they have to come to me.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel or star on top of the tree? Angel.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning -- or afternoon depending on when we get around to it. When I was a kid, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve after church.

22. Most annoying thing this time of year? I don't really know.

23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? Only if all-the-ornaments-we've-collected-and-love is a theme.

24. What do you leave for Santa? Nothing since I've grown up. Used to leave cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer, of course).