Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22nd

It's December 22nd and we are now ready for Christmas. It's taken David and I a week to get the house ready, but ready it is. We don't have the outside lights up, but that's because David has been down with a ugly cold, and I'm not inclined to get out there and do it alone. All of my gifts are wrapped and under the tree, however, so now I can just relax and knit.

Because of my allergy to live Christmas trees, we have always had an artificial tree. Now before any of you lose your breath thinking Christmas isn't a real Christmas without a live tree, let's stop and think about those of us allergic to the spores and molds on live trees which cause us to lose our breath.

This year the tree looked like this when David got it up. We both looked at it and thought well, we've lots of ornaments and we can get more lights.

After three evenings and lots of new lights, and lots and lots of ornaments, we are pleased with the results.
Now, tell me honestly, doesn't that tree look lovely, and doesn't it look like a live tree. Thought so.

I'm actually on schedule, in fact done, with my Christmas knitting this year. I knit this pair of socks for Rachel and she reports her feet are now all toasty warm.

The yarn is Zauberball Crazy by Schoppel Wolle. It's a fun yarn to knit but I have to admit, there were times the two plys of different colors tested my old eyes. It was worth it though if Rachel's feet are toasty warm. The stitch for the leg is from Charlene Schurch's book Sensational Knitted Socks and is called the Corded Rib. (Love that book.) Rachel, if you want another pair, just let me know. I love knitting socks.

The other morning I was getting my first cup of coffee when I heard stuff dropping. I went into the bedroom to see if David was okay, and he was on his way to see if I was okay. That's when it dawned on us, the noise came from outside. I turned on the deck light and this is what I saw running past the door.

Followed by another one. Aren't they beautiful? They are, but still don't want them on the deck. I had put some old dried lavendar on the table on the deck and that is apparently what they were interested in. Needless to say, once the two rascals were out of the yard, and we let the dogs out, they were busy, busy, busy smelling the tracks.

I love December 22nd. The days are now getting longer instead of shorter. Mind you, this year I'm not complaining about weather, or darkness, or any thing like that. I just like having the daylight hours increasing each day instead of decreasing. It's not because I am depressed by the darkness, it just means we are getting closer to gardening weather. The shorter days haven't been that bad this year because the weather for the most part has been nice (for winter). After last year's crippling snow fall for the holidays, this weather is a lovely gift from God. I just like the idea of more daylight and being able to get outside and maybe getting my hands dirty in the garden.

On the flip side, more dark and cold weather means more knitting gets done, and knitting with wool. Granted, it's harder to stay up later because it's been dark for a long time, but nice knitting weather it is. Since I've finished my Christmas knitting, I am knitting a little something for me. Of course, I'll be staring another pair of socks for commuting, but that really doesn't count. Commuting knitting is knitting to keep y0u busy while going to and from work.

Well, I have a big shopping list I need to take care of, and a guest room to get ready.



Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Official!

After sending stockings to our troops for five years, we decided it was time we got serious. Operation Holiday Stockings is now a Washington state non-profit corporation, and we will be filing for the federal equivalent in the near future. We will be having our first board of directors meeting after the first of the year since we are all so busy getting ready for the holidays.

So many people have helped out in the past five years to make this possible, and for me to keep a promise I made in March of 2006. That was the promise to continue sending stockings as long as we have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It looks like we will be doing so for at least two more years.

We have a very generous list of donors and participants who made Operation Holiday Stockings possible this year, and here they are:

Karen, Seattle WA
Dawn, Seattle WA
Kim, Seattle WA
Rebecca, Seattle WA
Barb, Seattle WA
Bartell’s Drug, Newcastle WA
Al, Shoreline WA
Sue, Bellingham WA
Bedford Jewelers, Bedford MA
Bellevue Club Hotel, Bellevue WA
Susan B, Bellevue WA
Beta Sigma Phi Preceptor Alpha Nu, The Dalles OR
Bitsy, Olympia WA
Gordon, Seattle WA
Randy & Janice, Seattle WA
Kirk Boettcher DDS, Bellevue WA
Glennda, San Antonio TX
Matt & Joan, Bellevue WA
Heather, Molalla OR
Jan, Barre VT
Cheryl, Barre VT
Irene, Barre VT
Beverly, Barre VT
Mary Lynn, Barre, VT
Eastside Knitting Guild, Bellevue WA
Elaine, Shoreline WA
Katie, Bellevue WA
Maryann, South Milwaukee WI
Lisa H, Bellevue WA
Mary, Arlington MA
Nancy, Corvallis OR
Kristi, Seattle WA
Jeffrey Johnson, DDS, Bellevue WA
Kari & Mike, Bellevue WA
Katlyn, Lancaster PA
Glenn & Lisa, Seattle WA
Ladies of the Elks, Sequim WA
Lou & Nora, Sequim WA
Diana, Lyle WA
Susan, Lakewood CO
Barbara, Arroyo Grande CA
Susan M, Bellevue WA
Gordon & Carolyn, Seattle WA
Emily, Seattle WA
Terry, Casper WY
Lisa, Seattle WA
Melissa, Seattle WA
Sue P, Seattle WA
Rachel, Portland OR
Cynthia, Seattle WA
David, aka Frank, Portland OR
Linda, Springfield OH
John, Portland OR
Jim & Rebecca, Seattle WA
Kathy and Friends and Family, College Place WA
Ginny, Hazelhurst WI
Cathi, Seattle WA
Sierra Hotel, Bellevue WA
Silver Cloud Inn, Bellevue WA
Louanne, The Dalles OR
Ricardo’s Family Restaurant, Bellevue WA
Stitches from the Heart, Bellevue WA
Doug & Bev, Chelan WA
Leslie, Sequim WA
Sue R, Bellevue WA
David, Bellevue WA
Chiya, Clyde Hill WA
Sandra, Shoreline WA
Kay, Sequim WA
Beth, Edmonds WA
Lisa P, Bellevue WA
Marina, Bremerton WA
Dave, Bellevue WA
Joe, Bellevue WA
Melinda, Grass Valley CA
Zoe, Seattle, WA
Matt T., Bellevue, WA
Grace, Seattle, WA
Donna, Seattle WA

To everyone who have provided stockings, stocking stuffers, postage money, sweat and tears, and emotional support these past five years, thanks so much. For everyone who has sent prayers to the soldiers we send stockings to, and who have prayed for Operation Holiday Stockings since 2005, thanks so much. This is an effort of many, not just one, and an effort of love and support for the men and women who are away from their home over the holidays. Operation Holiday Stockings has been, and will continue to be, our thanks to the deployed troops, and to their families at home.



Sunday, December 13, 2009


Operation Holiday Stockings is all buttoned up for 2009. Before bringing you up to date, however, I wanted to show the beautiful stockings Melinda sewed for OHS. We already had this year's stockings stuffed and packed, but we are now well on our way for 2010. Thanks Melinda.
Last week David and Matt sealed up all 16 boxes and got them ready for mailing to our troops in Afghanistan, Cuba and Japan. We shipped over 1000 stockings, each one full of love, prayers and goodies.
We shipped 600 stockings to one unit in Afghanistan. They have suffered a lot of losses since being deployed, and we are praying these stockings bring a bit of cheer to them.
We had a special visitor at work. This is Calum, and his mom and dad, Grady and Jenn. What a beautiful family. Jenn tells me Calum loves the blankie I knit for him, and that makes me feel happy. Calum wasn't the only baby to get something specially knit for him.

Johnny got his very own "grown up" knit sweater from Susan.
He loves the sweater and spent the first five minutes prancing around wagging his tail and then he crawled into Susan's lap to give her kisses of thanks.

Susan knit in the St. John's cross, which is the symbol of happiness. Perfect. Johnny has to be one of the happiest doggies I have ever come across. Everyone is Johnny's best friend, and he is always happy.

In the past two weeks we have been dealing with below freezing weather. The days have been beautiful, with clear blue skies, but COLD. I feel like I'm back in Anchorage. I wore wool sweaters and my wonderful hand knit socks to work each day. For the trip to Sequim this past Friday, I had on two sweaters, a fleece vest, my fleece jacket, wool socks, fleece lined shoes, gloves and a hat. This was just so the ferry ride wouldn't be unbearable. It was 15 degrees outside that morning, and with the wind coming off of the water, it was COLD.

Now we all have been managing and most of us have not been complaining about the weather, because NONE of us wants another December of 17 days of snow. The problem with this type of weather, however, is everything freezes. Dog water dishes, hummingbird feeders, water pipes, and water tanks. Many people had their pipe freeze, and then burst, making a big mess. One friend called a plumber at 6:00 a.m. last Thursday, and a plumber arrived at 10:00 p.m. on Friday. Fortunately for her, the pipe that burst was in her garage and not in her house.

We got to Edgar's Acres on Friday morning to no water in the house. To make a long story short, the water tank (that holds the water from the well and is in the garage) was frozen solid. The plumber there told us this cold spell (lasting 16 days) is the worst they have seen in 40 years. By Saturday at noon we had running water again.

At least in this extreme weather we were lucky enough to have heat and electricity. And McDonald's where they have working bathrooms for the cost of a cup of coffee.

It's warmed up a bit so now it's snow we are looking at. Got to love winter. In eight more days the days start getting longer and we will be that much closer to Spring.

Stay warm everyone.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cookies and Stockings

The holiday weekend progressed to Cookies and Stockings.

On Friday we got together with the Johnstons for the annual Christmas Cookie Decorating. I know it was Thanksgiving but all of the kids were in town and wanted to get together for this gathering. In an effort to consolidate efforts, Rachel was kind enough to roll out dough and cut the cookies so we could get them baked before everyone arrived.

The thing about this group, no hesitation to get started. As soon as we said hello, it was down to business.
For some of us, it really is "down to business." Several years ago Jim asked for tweezers in the middle of the decorating. We all were wondering why, but I got out my tweezers, washed them up and Jim started a new technique for decorating cookies. He now has his own special pair of tweezers (more like laboratory forceps). Jim does create true works of art.
Meanwhile, Andrew was in the heart of the activity by decorating and then eating the cookie. Good job Andrew.
Rachel decided the tweezer techique was the way to go so we found her a pair to use as well. She and Jim were very content to quietly create their works of art. Then there are these two. Sarah and Lindsey look more alike each year, especially their smiles.

I baked lasagne and Pat made up a Greek salad and a good time was had by all. John and Phil were too busy catching up but they did each do one cookie, which they promptly ate. Of course, I overlooked the ultimate Kodak moment and did NOT get a picture of all of these kids. Shame on me.
On Saturday we started the stocking stuffing for Operation Holiday Stockings 2009. There are about 1300 stockings on this table (and I have still received some more). I had a crew of 13 to stuff the stockings so I just walked around and took pictures.
This is Frank, the guy who started it all with his request for "233 small knit stockings" five years ago. This is one of the reasons why we do what we do. There are so many soldiers who aren't home this year for the holidays, so we send a touch of home to them.
Rachel's at the end of the assembly line packing up what she's stuffed.

What a great stuffing crew. The stocking stuffers this year were Elaine, Margaret, Rachel, Katie, Emery, Brendan, Zoe, Joan, Matt, Susan, Sue, Mike, Kari, David and Frank.
Thanks to all of you for your help, and continued support.

Well, I'm off to eat dinner and hopefully get some knitting done this evening.



Saturday, November 28, 2009


What a wonderful day we had on Thanksgiving. We had friends, family and food in abundance. Throughout the whole day I was reminded of what a blessed woman I am to be surrounded by so much love, warmth and security. The day started out with turkey no. 1 getting prepped and stuffed by the turkey master, Frank. We put it in the NEW turkey roaster at 9:00 a.m. That's the NEW turkey roaster on the table being guarded by Edgar.
I preheated according to the owner's manual, put the bird in just as I was instructed and it sizzled as we put it in. All going according to plan.
During all of the prep chaos Thursday morning Johnny needed a lap so Rachel kindly volunteered for the job. As you can see, Johnny was thrilled she took up the assignment. Johnny is in love!

I prepped two turkeys and one ham, and honestly couldn't have done it without Frank's help. It's been a long time since we've done turkey together.

John's task was to make all the football arrangments for all of the guys, a task he gladly took on. Even though he looks like he is ready for a world cup soccer game, it was football as we North Americans know it. He was also in charge of the beverages for everyone.
It looks like it was a successful game for all. Me, I stayed home where it was warm and dry. At about 1:30 I walked over to check on the stuffed bird in the NEW turkey roaster. What, the darned thing wasn't working. Okay, so now I was going to be feeding 15 people at around 5:00 and the turkey in the NEW turkey roaster wasn't working. Fortunately the turkey master was there. John ran downstairs for my old turkey roaster (you know, the kind you use in the oven), and Frank and David, with the help of one of the Susans (we had three here) moved the stuffed bird into the old roaster, and into the OVEN it went. In a matter of 2.5 hours, the bird was done. In the meantime the grill master, David was outside grilling turkey no. 2, and a ham.

Since Luke is still teaching in American Somoa we took the annual Thanksgiving picture to send to him. Thanks to Rachel for making us all look good, including the dude on the television.

Now that all of the kids have grown up, we had to have the annual whiskey toast for the holidays. Love traditons.

As you can see this is serious business so we can make the Turkey Toast.

The O'Dea Class of 99 did an excellent job of carving turkeys and the ham. This is serious business and they did a class act.

At this point it was all about feeding everyone and making sure they all left full. What a wonderful day. This weekend continues to be busy, and fun. Next posting, COOKIES!!!!!



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Stockings ...

Stockings continue to arrive.
This is a bunch of stockings that Mel's kids did for OHS. This is the second year they have decorated and stuffed with goodies for our troops. Each stocking also contains a personal note they've written. These will be very much appreciated.

Lisa of Bellevue knit up these beautiful stockings this year. Thanks so much Lisa. It's good to have you join us this year.

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are going to have a houseful this year. We are cooking two turkeys and one ham, and everyone else will be bringing along the other dishes. It's going to be a lot of fun with a lot of good friends and family. David and I are so grateful for the dear sons we have, and the friends they have. We are grateful for our friends, and the love we share for one another. We are grateful for our home, health and good jobs that everyone has this year. And, we are grateful for the love we have for each other. We are blessed, and we thank God for that.

Have a wonderful holiday my dear friends, and please continue to pray for our troops who won't be home this year for turkey.



Monday, November 23, 2009

The Stockings Keep Coming In

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been receiving stockings, candy, and personal care items for our troops for this year's Operation Holiday Stockings. Folks, all of these stockings and items are coming from a very dedicated core group of supporters. We certainly couldn't do this without them. The knitters from the Eastside Knitting Guild came up with another 182 stockings (for a total of 413). These knitters are amazing, as well as very, very supportive. Thank you all of you.

These are 100 knit stockings from Heather in Molalla, Oregon. The first year we sent stockings Heather was pregnant and knit 100 stockings. Well, you guessed it, Heather is expecting again and knit up these stockings for our troops. Heather, thanks for joining us each year! Thanks too for clicking away on those needles.

We had a stuffing party again at work, thanks to Sandra. She is the best. She organized the whole thing. Sandra, you rock, and thanks again for handling this for us.
Karen and her friends and neighbors got together and decorated these stockings. This is the second year these wonderful people have been helping us. The photograph just doesn't do the stockings justice. They are beautiful.
We had other stockings come in and candy donated for the stocking stuffing. What fun.

Emily again was crocheting and sewing and brought these. The stockings in the middle have the cutest, little snowmen on them. Thanks to Emily for joining us again.
Cathi pulled out her sewing machine and made these stockings. Too bad the photographer (yours truly) didn't get a better picture. The green elf stockings are too cute. Thanks to Cathi for joining in with us again this year.
Glennda of San Antonio sent these beautiful stockings, which we will send to Ft. Lewis for the family party. Thanks so much Glennda. It's wonderful to have you helping us out again this year.

Kathy in Walla Walla got together with her family and friends and they made a beautiful batch of flannel stockings. Thanks to all of you Kathy for helping OHS again this year. (Kathy sent a picture of the ladies sewing these stockings and it looks like they are having a great time.)
Linda of Springfield once again knit stockings for us. Thanks Linda, these are beautiful!

Lou in Sequim (of A Dropped Stitch) heard we were doing stockings and went shopping. More fun stockings for the family party. Thanks Lou.
Again Susan in Colorado got together with her family and they made these stockings. Last year we sent a box to Susan's son and he still talks about the joy of receiving our stockings. That's why we do this.

The Ladies of the Elks of Sequim, Washington collected a big bunch of personal care items for putting into the stockings. Thanks so much dear friends.

We'll be stuffing stockings this Saturday, and then shipping then out for delivery to our troops in Afghanistan. We are planning on sending out 1000, but we would have enough if any of you know of a soldier that would like to receive stockings.

To all of you moms out there whose soldier won't be home for the holidays, my prayers are yours. I'm a lucky mom this year. My soldier will be home.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brazilian Bears

One of the paralegals I work with is due to deliver her baby boy any day (or should I say any minute) now. She has been so thrilled to be pregnant and named her baby Daniel months ago. Since then we have all spoken of Daniel and feel we know him quite well. Priscilla said that this is common in Brazil. We had a shower for her last week and I wanted to knit a blanket special for Daniel. Since Priscilla and Flavio are from Brazil I decided to go with the colors of the Brazilian flag.

Priscilla also loves Teddy Bears and is using that as a theme for Daniel's nursery. I decided to use the colors and placement of the colors for a blanket that had Teddy Bears in it.
Hence, the Brazilian Bear Blankie. I had so much fun knitting this. I started with the center piece and it has one bear (I hope you can see him). I got the graph for this bear at Knitting Pattern Central. I then picked up stitches in the log cabin fashion, knit the yellow portion, which has more bears. I then continued in the log cabin technique and knit the green border to help even out the bears so they would lay flat and be clearer.

I am so pleased with myself. The blankie came out just as I had hoped.

Folding it was nice too. As you can see the first thing Priscilla saw was the blue bear in the center. Did she like it? Well, you be the judge.

She was thrilled. I love knitting baby blankets. Every baby needs a blankie. I used Encore from Plymouth Yarn Co. on size 9 needles so it wouldn't be too dense and heavy.

I've got two more baby blankets to knit, a baby boy due in January and a baby girl due in February. What fun.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Stockings Keep Coming ...

While I've been dealing with work and root canals, the OHS stockings have been coming in by the dozens. Last night while the weather was getting really, really windy and raining, I had the pleasure of opening up boxes and bags of stockings sent for OHS. It is really fun. I do really look at each stocking with gratitude. The stockings that have been knit, sewn, or decorated are so dear. I look at these stockings and am reminded of love and support for our troops.

MaryAnn in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin sent a bunch of stockings for the Family Party at Ft. Lewis, for which we are very grateful. We also provide them with any left over candy to help fill up these stockings. The Family Services Office is so thrilled and grateful for our support and contributions. The children get a kick knowing that they get stockings from the same group that has sent stockings over to their soldiers. Take my word for it, it's not easy being home when your soldier is deployed in a hostile zone.
Nancy in Corvallis, Oregon made her beautiful stockings again (the picture doesn't do them justice), and provided more stockings for the Family Party. Thanks Nancy!

Ginny in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin blew us away with her generous gift of stockings for the Family Party. Thanks Ginny. The kids are going to love the Disney stockings.
Katlyn in Lancaster, Pennsylvania again made up a huge bunch of felt stockings for the troops. Katlyn has been making stockings for OHS for five years now, since she was 9. Katlyn, thanks for being such loyal supporter.
Jan in Barre, Vermont, and her friends got together and knit up a beautiful batch of stockings for OHS. Jan, thanks to you and Cheryl, Irene, Beverly and Mary Lynn.
Diana in Lyle, Washington again got to knitting. Diana was the very first person five years ago to answer my plea for stockings when we first started OHS. Diana, thanks again for all of your support, and for these beautiful stockings.
And then there is the Eastside Knitting Guild. Ladies and gentlemen, what can I say except thanks. Your support is so appreciated. I feel privileged to be associated with such a fine group of knitters.
We are still collecting the names of soldiers who will be deployed over the holidays. If you know of one, please contact me at ramsddj at aol dot com. In the last several weeks we have received such devastating news of casualties in Afghanistan and here in the US. We need to let the troops know we support them, and share a little bit of holiday cheer with them. To all of you who have supported OHS these five years, thanks. To all of you who are joining in with us this year, thanks.