Friday, December 31, 2010

Handmade Christmas ~ In the Mail Part Two

I sent my cousin and his family a box in the mail for Christmas.  For Aunt Betty, I sent a pillow that I had made using an applique block from the flower series I was working on.
 I had said I wasn't sure about this blue one, and she mentioned it was her favorite one.  Perhaps she was just being polite; that'll learn her!  haha!
The pillow form comes out (the back of the pillow overlaps) and it was kind of a breeze to put it together.  The applique seems well done, which was a pleasant surprise, considering I made it!

I also sent two (semi-)matching candlesticks I had painted.  You know, what can I say?  They look like they should match, but one has more flowers than the other.  Whatever, I figured they can ignore the imbalance, or simply keep them in separate rooms, so as not to offend.  What a great gift!  oh dear.
 I found this dish towel too, when Cori and I went to Bizarre Bazaar a few weeks ago, so that went into the box, of course!

And we put in a letter from Tommy to his favorite "Uncle Moose", some pictures of the boys, and finally, there was this:

Also made from the applique blocks, using all three from the red series, I made them this 'table runner'.  I had decided a long time ago to make this for them, because Kelly had written in her blog about wanting to paint their dining room "eating room red", or something like that.  They have an amazing historical house mansion, and she was researching traditional paint colors, and so she mentioned it in passing and god I hope she meant it or this is going to be awkward.  haha

This table runner was very nearly the death of me, and there were three different times that it nearly didn't end up in the box.

The first time, was when I had sewed it together.  Using no pattern, and apparently no skill or sense, either, I managed to fashion a table-runner-esque object around the original three blocks.  Here's a picture of me, using my mad measuring skillz, to try and figure out what I needed to do:
Erik actually came up with the idea about how to do the red border and blank blocks.  I was pleasantly surprised that he was willing to play that game with me, and I think it was a mistake on his part, because it's a game I never grow tired of.
By the time I got it to here, I thought it was going to be great!  Then I layered it and pinned it, sewing the edges and turning it, and I was so bad at doing this that I actually considered cutting out the white blocks with the applique on them and starting over.

The second time it almost didn't make it into box, was when it was finally put together, and I realized there were some smudges on the fabric.  It was just dirty in spots, but who could complain?  That little square has been kicked around and lugged to football and baseball games for, like, two years or something.  What?  I'm slow.  I was REALLY afraid to put it in the washer, though, because for all I know, it wouldn't even survive one washing.  I mean, isn't it better for it to disintegrate on somebody else's watch?  Common sense prevailed (eventually) (barely) and it went into the washer and came out sparkling clean.  Yay!

The third time it almost didn't go into the box, was when I took it out of the dryer and saw the good news that my applique skills have come a long ways since I first started the flower block project!  Wow, am I getting good at it!  The bad news was that these red ones were among my first blocks... showed.  :-/  In my defense, circles are hard!  Well, then, that's that!  I thought to myself.  I definitely can't send this out now!

But then I remembered this blanket:
 My mom made and gave me this blanket, and I LOVE IT.  I really, really, do.  And you know, my mom is not the most patient, detail-oriented person I've ever met.  These octogons had to be pieced together, and where I have spent weeks meticulously weaving in tails my mother simply tied the knots so tightly it was like she was mad at them, then snipped the yarn tails to a low nub, and moved on to the next one.  The combined effect is to have little pieces of yarn sticking straight up from various points on the blanket (my OCD was happy to discover that one side was less like this than the other, so now it's a directional blanket, for my sanity) AND I've had to resew the octogons in several spots, just because the little knots don't always hold.  I was able to pick up a few pieces of the actual yarn she used when making the blanket, so it still looks great.

Did I mention how much I love it?  Because the truth is, my affection for this blanket (and the person who made it for me) is no less diminished by these (slight) logistical issues. 

I thought about all these things while I used the blunt edge of a flat, wooden toothpick to push the tiny edges back under, in the (many) various spots that they should have been tacked down with my needle and thread, and when I ironed the whole thing, I was this close to saying, yeah, this might just work.

When Erik held it up from across the room though, I thought all those mistakes just went away and it actually looked nice, from where I was standing.  That sealed it.  Into the box it went.  I should have thrown in some toothpicks, as I'm sure it will need a washing at some point, but I leave it up to Moose and Kelly, who are very competent and will, I'm sure, attack this situation with the vim and vigor it requires.  Including, but certainly not limited to, tucking it away, ready to pull out and decorate the table, should we ever come visiting.  There must be some statute of limitations on how long somebody needs to give up valuable cupboard space for such an occasion, but I want to publicly say, here and now, that I will never ask them how the table runner is working out for them.  It's considered part of the gift, at this point.  Just do what you need to do.  ;)

To summarize:  I will send you a box of half-ass gifts because even though I'm not very good at something, it looked great when I pictured it in my head.  Is it my fault that the execution doesn't come to the heights of my vision?  I say no.  Merry Christmas, Moose, Kelly, and Aunt Betty!!!!  :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas ~ In the Mail Part One

 The Stitch Family ~ oh how I love them! ~ are so perfectly perfect.  They are, collectively, the funniest family on the planet.  They are also sweet, sassy, intelligent, generous, and friendly.  It's a mind-blowing combination!  Because of all their hippie-goodness, I was pretty sure the gnomes were a must have...It looks to me like this picture is missing one or two.  Well, no matter, because I need to make more for the boys because these are for Brit.  Never underestimate the need for gnomes felt by every adult woman I've come by in the last few weeks.  :)
I wrote about making this rag rug before, too, and it was always going to be for The Stitches.  I think it's so wonderfully thick and yummy!  On a post I wrote last year about how to make these rugs, a commenter recently left a note that her mom made a crocheted rug out of thrifted wool clothing that took years to make, and eventually covered the entire living room floor.  The kids still have it, having inherited it after their parents passed away, and it weighs more than 300 pounds!  I mean really!  More than 300 pounds.  It's so joyfully absurd, I just LOVE that story!  This rug is not big enough to cover a room (instead, it's about 2.5 x 3.5 feet or so), but it really made me think that if I ever did make one big enough for a room, The Stitches would most assuredly be the recipients. 

Every once in a while, Brit or I will email each other with blogs we like to read; she told me about Soulemama's blog, which I quite like.  Poor sweet Amanda Soule, who seems like a lovely person, also seems to be the recipient of an inordinate number of angst-ridden posts re:  every mother's inability to be her.  Oh, folly!  :)  I have so many hobbies, but this constant comparison is not one of them...even on the one hand, that I can enjoy a voyeuristic peek into somebody's life through their blog, I don't seem to experience the other hand of that, of wishing for what they have or do or believe.  It's not that I'm so full of esteem for myself, nor am I so full of disdain for others; I think it's a gene, inherited from my mom, that if you're busy (enough of the time), and happy (enough of the time), and choose to still feel busy and happy (the rest of the time), then it's okay to be cool with that and not worry about anything, or anyone else, while you're at it.   I will point out that my mom probably takes this to a mind-numbing, socially-embarrassing extreme, but she's rad so we ignore that.

The point of all that, I suppose, is to say that Brit is sort of my "Soulemama"!  I've always thought of Brit's blog as a love letter to her children, and in the best possible way, I'm a fan of her perspective and choices and mama-ing, plus she's so creative and talented; it's like a great big lovely-ball-of-wax, and I'm so glad to know her and her husband in both my real and virtual lives.

They might move pretty soon, and I know it's too much to ask for, but I do wish on a star that they might find their way down to my neighborhood.  :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Handmade Christmas ~ Mom and Baby

My mom and my niece's baby, that would be!  Erik and The Boys got my mom a Rolling Stones Package of the Keith Richards' autobiography Life and the Martin Scorsese film, Shine a Light.  My mom, you should know, thinks the drug-addled and semi-insane Richards is hilarious.  Okay, Ma. 

She is a huge Stones fan...for years, when we were growing up, she had one of those license plate surrounds that said, "Hey you, get offa my cloud".  It was custom made, people.  Custom made.  So, that was a good call.  I picked up a dish towel with a squirrel screen printed on it from an etsy shop.  Stones and squirrels, she loves them both.

Then I also made her this:
It's just a fabric banner, but I really like the jewel-tones.  She asked for one to hang over the french doors that separate her dining room from the living room.  The french doors are from her grandmother's house, and she wanted something that wasn't a flower garland.  Why?  I don't know why.  She got a bug up her butt, and this is the result.
I couldn't get a great picture of it on my bed, so I hung it up in the kitchen.  The white of my grandma's hutch is similar to the white of her grandma's doors, so it's a pretty fair representation!  These garlands are an absolute snap to make.  And, looking at it here, it seems I need one too.  Dammit.

My niece's baby is due in March, and I gave her this crocheted swing coat.  It's so cute!  The pattern is from one of the first pattern books I ever must have been 6 or more years ago, now.  It's all patterns for babies and toddlers.  My FAVORITE knit and crochet projects are for babies and toddlers!  Partly because every babe needs a handmade welcome, and partly because the time frame for these wee little projects suit my complete lack of focus and commitment.  ahem. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Handmade Christmas ~ My Brother's Family

 I already wrote about the rag rug I made my brother for Christmas.  We don't actually exchange adult presents in our family (except we all get or do something for my parents, and them for us) so I technically could have given him the rug at anytime.  I was going to give it to him a few weeks ago, when I finished it, but then my mom was all, "No!  Give it to him for Christmas!" and I was all....okay.  Besides, I had found an online sale on good bath towels and got him and my sister-in-law (not through him, through my other brother) a half-dozen towels each.  So there you go.  Together, they made a very practical present.

Anyway, my brother has two of my favorite girls and I like to make them things.
I made Kaziah this totally adorable corduroy skirt that has running horses embroidered on it.  I could die.  I want this so badly in my size!  It could not have been simpler to make, using the Oliver + S Lazy Days skirt tutorial (or, more to the point, what I remember of it from when I made the skirt before) and with no measurements and no pattern at all, I managed to nail it in both length and width.  High fives, all around.  She also loved the skirt, and wore it on Christmas Day after she opened it.  Love!  I also made her this sweet, slouchy, cap which I knitted.  (The pattern is free, if you sign up at their website.) 
 She put that one on right away, too, and as I predicted, it looks awesome on her!    It's exhausting being right all the time.
 Her entire prize package also included her own pointy scissors (which may or may not have been immediately confiscated by her mother) and Emily Martin's new paper doll book
 For my brother's ex-wife, I crocheted this rasta-inspired hat.  I've made this hat for her in several colors, and she loves them and they look adorable on her.  She had asked me for one in these colors, and I'm glad I finally made it.  When I got to my mom's, Monica was already wearing a gray one I had made for her last year!

And for sweet-girl Giannah, who is just as sweet and sassy as my brother was when he was growing up, I made this little gnome village.  This was easily my favorite thing to make this holiday season.  It involved a jigsaw and a drill, for one thing.  Plus, I am totally in love with these gnomes and their gnome-y kids from Wee Folk Art.

I also loved making the accessories; sleeping bags and a bushel of apples and a basket of eggs, and I even put in a Christmas tree with presents underneath.  I crocheted a rug for the bottom floor and had little tables and a flower pot with a rose bush.  *swoon*

I can't tell if Giannah actually liked it...I also gave her a Melissa and Doug wooden pizza party play set, and she loved that, but gave no attention at all to the gnome village or anything in it.  It may be something that she re-discovers in the quiet of her home;  I left lots of room for her to be creative, and to find rocks and wood to use as furniture, so she may end up liking it more when she's made it her own.  Or it may have been a (oh-so-fun-to-make) miss.  Either way, it's so cute!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Taking Suggestions

We added to our family this weekend, and now we have this to deal with:
She's pretty dang funny.  I don't care for an overly-confident dog, myself.  I like my dog's slightly insecure.  This one's self-esteem is fully intact, however, as evidenced by her proud and regal stature.  There's only room for one top-dog in this casa, my friend, so stand down.

Fortunately, she has personality to spare and she seems very bright.  It's the little things, you know?  I put a harness and collar on her, then hooked up a leash and took her for a spin in the court.  I've had dogs who lay down and make you drag them under similar circumstances, but she got right with the program.  She also had the good sense to immediately remove the plaid sweater I was going to make her wear.  So I have hope for her.

I can't believe we finally got another dog.  We loved our Howard so much, and when we lost him (over two years ago now) I thought I'd NEVER get another one.  We've always had big, working, busy dogs, but I insisted that we have a totally different experience this time.  A shitzu-toy poodle mix seems about as far from Australian Shepherd as you can get.  It barely seems like the same species, and I've never owned a small dog in my life.  In fact, I'd probably still be dogless, except my brother found these and got the sister, then Erik shocked me by approving the purchase.

She loves to play fetch.  Another point in her favor.  We got her situated with a crate today, so forget about sleeping in the bed every night, chump.  Now we just need a name.  We usually give our pets human names, because we think it's funny to have a goldfish named Keith, a dog named Howard, or a cat named Tim.  For some reason, my family has lost its collective minds with this one, though.  Without your intervention I'm going to be stuck with Brain (Scotty's choice, who is an Inspector Gadget fan) or Tron II (Erik's choice, who is an ass) or Sparky (Tommy's choice, who seems unconcerned that our new dog is a girl and might want a less gender-ambiguous name).  The phone lines are open, and we clearly need a voice of reason.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry and Bright

Scotty believes.  We had a box of 10 specialty bakery cookies for Santa.  By the time My Boys were finished 'snacking', he was left trying to convince me that one cookie would be enough for Santa.  haha!
This week we watched the lunar eclipse in full awe of nature's miracles.  The weather was stormy that day, but at just the right time that night, the clouds were blown away and the sky was crisp and clear, the air was cold but without breeze, and Erik laid in the driveway and told me, "I can't believe how spherical the moon looks!" was the perfect solstice gift.

The rest of our week was spent visiting family and friends, doing a bit of shopping (Erik) and a bit of making (me), and spending entire days (and nights) without even leaving our house.  I'm feeling grateful (always) and wistful (slightly) and overwhelmed (vaguely) and if I know one thing, it's that I'm so glad to be right here, right now.

Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today in The City

Today, the whole family took a ride over the bridge and Erik and Scotty played cards, while I knitted, and Tommy practiced drums at his drum teacher's adorable and quirky artist's bungalow.  It was a sweet, slow morning.  Before heading back home, we stopped in downtown and spent a couple of hours in Union Square.  I love going to San Francisco these days, where I feel like a tourist in my own town.

 In the lobby of the Westin St Francis Hotel.

 Macy's has used these huge wreaths in every window for as long as I can remember.  The look, to me, has lost none of its charm.

 Lunch!  :)
 Saks, through the square, from in front of Macy's.  For about a hot second we contemplated getting into the ice skating rink.  Decided to pass.
 The boys positively love San Francisco.  When we come over the bridge, Scotty tells me, with an expansive, encompassing flourish of his hand and a huge grin, "I got all this for you, Mommy!"
Be still my heart.
 If you look closely toward the center of the St. Frances, you can see the glass elevator on a quick descent.  Sadly, it was being "policed" by lobby officials, and was not available for riding "probably until the first of the year."  I'm not sure if we were considered a terrorist threat, or if the crowds just grow to unmanageable proportions during the holidays.  No worries.  We can wait, and come back any time we please.
It was a good day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm With the Band

Erik has been playing guitar since he was 15 years old.  Do not doubt his commitment to his craft.

When Tommy was born, Erik was so excited!  Now he had a person he could train up from infancy in the ways of the guitar.  My family name is "Hendrix"  (seriously) and when I was pregnant, in the midst of all his day-dreaming about having a prodigy, I would point out that it's probably too much pressure to put on a fetus.  His response:  "I don't know what you're talking about; little Jimmy Eddie Joe Hendrix can be whatever he wants."

Upon realizing that Tommy was not that interested in guitar, he steered him toward drumming.  Tommy loves drumming, fortunately, as it allows Erik's dream of a family band to remain in tact.

Fortunately, we had a second chance at success when we decided to make another person.  Enter Scott.
Here's Scotty, enjoying Tommy's "Festival of Lights" pageant from his perch on Erik's shoulders.  He loves music!  And I love this hippie school, where the kids do a rockin' rendition of "One Love", complete with Bob Marley slide show on the movie screen for the win.

Scotty is the person in our house who breathes music, for sure.  He loves to make up his own songs.  His most recent one is called "There's No Problems With Christmas".  He insists on recording on the four-track Erik uses with the computer.
He's also the prime orchestrator of any and all hoot-en-annies (sp?).  This picture actually cracks me up, because this kid is never dressed.  If he has pants on, there's no shirt.  If he has a shirt on, it's no trousers.  We've convinced him that he needs at least pants if he's going to visit the neighbors, and we don't have to argue about full-clothing on school days anymore, but he's stripping down in the car and good to go by the time he hits the front door.

 In the video, you can see that Scotty is using the hand-me-down 3/4 size Squire guitar that used to be Tommy's.  Which Scotty thought was great, UNTIL he met the 1/2 size Squire guitar in what he calls SUPER RED (candy apple red, instead of the orange-ish red pictured in the jam session :).  
Erik had told him "no" at the guitar store, and though Scotty was (clearly) devastated, because, and I quote, "I love this tiny super red kitar", Erik wasn't fooling me.  Not even for a second.

Guess what Scotty's getting for Christmas?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Budgets ~ a four letter word?

Well, I first wrote about budgeting back in May, so it seems apt to make an end-of-year declaration as to the success (or not!) of our budgeting attempts this year.

The good:
  • We saved a lot of money this year.  We made an audacious goal back in May, and we killed it.  I feel very protective of that egg, so if you need me to float you a loan, I'll make a face.  I'll write the check, but I'll make a face.  Sorry.
  • We worked hard to reduce our monthly obligations.  The first thing I attacked were random subscriptions and anything that was 8-dollaring-us-to-death.  Then we dumped comcast cable.  That's right!  Old-school antenna, Tivo (couldn't live without ya, kisses!), and the same Netflix subscription we've had for years is saving us $150 per month.  We're still paying for high speed internet, but all television/cable/land line expenses were eliminated. 
  • We pay cash for everything.  Erik has been living within his (very generous!!) monthly allowance.  It took a while for him to come to grips with the idea that he might have to spend some of his monthly allowance on things he didn't actually want.  He's become a bit of a hoarder when it comes to his cash, so when he's obligated to pay $50 for a going-away dinner he didn't particularly enjoy, he couldn't quite understand why that would come out of his allowance!  haha!  He's so funny.
  • We bought a cow.  Actually, we bought half a cow.  It's a grass fed, organic, grain-finished cow, to be precise.  I'd been buying grass-fed organic ground beef for around $6.00 a pound at the market.  Our chest freezer, which was empty and unplugged, is now completely filled to brimming with a cow.  It's around 260 pounds of meat!  With the butcher's fee and per-pound-cost of the cow itself, it cost us about $1100 in upfront costs. That works out to about $4 a pound.  Which is pretty decent for the (ahem) 120 pounds of ground beef, but it feels pretty spectacular for grass-fed organic porterhouse and t-bone steaks, and the dozens of roasts, etc.  I'm not even sure where I would get organic tri-tip roast, but I'm sure it would not be cheap should I come across it.  Anyway, having all that quality meat on hand (sue me, we eat meat) makes our weekly grocery bill all about the basics, and that's a huge savings every month.
The bad:
  • We pay a lot for Scotty's preschool and some after school care for Tommy (uh, roughly  half-a-cow every month); Tommy doesn't go all the time, but I pay for it so it's there when I need it.   My housecleaning bill is rather ridiculous, but I'm a 'spread the wealth' kind of gal, so I don't mind paying for the weekly service (when I know I can get by on half that) just because I know it's supporting her family and she needs the work, too.   I think our cash allowances and 'funny money' are just this side of extravagant, but whatever.  I can go all month with the same 15 bucks in my wallet, but once in a while I'll spend like a drunken sailor on shore all evens out, somewhere, I'm sure.  Good for us?  That day care, housecleaning, and cash allowances are all easily reduced and/or eliminated should our income become drastically reduced.  (knock wood, that doesn't seem to be on our horizon, but who even knows these days?)
  • Please do not ask me how much we are paying for two iPhones each month.  When I saw it, back in May, I literally squeaked.  Now I just look away.
  • We went way over our Christmas budget this year.  We had the cash to do it, but it seems like I still can't figure out what exactly we're buying for all that money.   Ho Ho Ho?
The interesting:
  • I'm really grateful that we have money.  I say this with total humility, and I'm hoping it doesn't sound otherwise.  I mean, it's exciting and fun to watch our balance grow, but if push came to shove, and we had to live on our budgeted amounts without ever dipping into extra cash that we have, this would be a very different story.  
  • It's funny, when you don't just go out and buy something, when you actually plan and save up to get it, how often it happens that, by the time you have the cash and are ready to make the purchase, some other more important thing has already come up to claim whatever money you put aside.  It really makes you think about what the word "need" means.
  • With a freezer full of meat, I'm really looking forward to garden harvest next year!  I'm curious about how low our food bills will go when I'm shopping for veggies and meat right here at home...
That's the 2010 status of Operation Quit Wasting Money.  Now that we know what that feels like, we'll start looking at goals for the next couple of years.   Whatever we land on, it's going to be BIG.  I've decided I like to shoot for crazy town when it comes to these kinds of goals; that way, even when we fall short, we end up in awesomeville.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Health Fair Auction

Tommy's class put on a Health Fair at their school.  It was from 6:00 - 8:00 on a Friday night during the second week of December.  Really?  Oh, but it was so fun!  I was swamped with parent conferences, report cards, and teaching, but I carved out some time to make and buy a few things to donate to the the silent auction.
 I made this crocheted bag and attached a wool felt flower and lined it with a thrifted vintage sheet of pale yellow and red flowers.  It cost about $3.50 to make, and it sold for $25.  It was a HUGE hit with the 6th grade girls, who were begging their parents to put in bid after bid.  So cute!
 I made a set of re-usable grocery bags (hey!  same fabric as the lining!) and included a set of Tumbler produce bags.  I spent $12 and the set went for $15.
The theme was, of course, healthy eating.  Tommy did his whole presentation on how bad fast food is for you.  (And can I just say, with a sigh, how equally wonderful and horrible it is for a young boy to get a little bit of knowledge?  We don't eat fast food often at all....maybe once a month?  And it's usually because we are out after a long of school/work and straight to ____ practice ~ go ahead and fill in the blank ~ and I'm telling you that, under those circumstances, I don't need the scolding from a ten year old when I pull into the drive-through.   Just saying.  Also, I could deal with the righteous indignation if it weren't also accompanied by the descent into emotional chaos, complete with anxiety attacks, he now suffers whenever a cheeseburger, plain is ordered.)
Anyway, it was a 'healthy food' theme, so I picked up a crockpot on sale and a cookbook to go with it ($40.00 total) because I know my crockpot has saved us from a dinner of take out more than a few times per month.  It went for $32.00.
 Finally, I picked up a yoga mat and set of yoga dvds (did I mention the HEALTHY?) and that was $35 for both.  It sold for $26.00. 
 Here's Tommy giving his presentation to the Lower Elementary kids, with a monkey on his back.

So.  Brisk clap.  What have we learned here today?  The bag, net-net, was by far the best auction item!  It cost almost nothing (except my time) to make, it was universally loved, and it sold for a nice profit to benefit the school.  I don't regret buying the other items, however.  It was a donation, to raise money for their classroom projects, and I'm glad that the families who ended up with the items were able to get them at a discount.  Things are tough all over, and I know the families involved were excited to get something for less than it would have cost them at the store. 

So that's what I donated to the auction; you may be wondering what did I win?  I won a shoebox diorama of an organic farm made by a 5th grade student.  My bid was $6.00.  Total bargain, and I love it!  Scotty was quite smitten also, because he kept asking where his "game" had gone to.  haha!  I bought it to show to my own students, so they could understand what a "diorama" is, in case they wanted to do a project themselves. 

There's another silent auction (for the school, instead of the class) coming up in the spring.  I tell myself, after the holidays, I'll get going on a stable of crocheted and lined bags.  But, I think we all know that's a long shot.  "procrastinate" is my middle name!

Kathy's Recital

My dear friend Kathy is a retired teacher who used to share my teaching joys (and frustrations!) from her classroom across the hall.  She was my partner in crime, and there are four of us who've maintained our close connection, despite how life has a way of moving on sometimes, you know?  (Two of us are retired, one moved to Hawaii to be with her grandchildren for a couple of years, one became a principal, I've had two children, etc., but we always find the time and energy to stay in touch and see each other....getting all four of us in the same room 4 times a year is no small feat!)

Last Sunday, she had her 'recital'.  She's a real debutante, having taken up drumming in her retirement.  She's been a constant source of encouragement and information for our own little drummer, and even goes to all his gigs, so of course we went to see her perform on her ukelele up in the music hall at the university!  This has been one of my favorite December events (in a month of piled up events!) for the last several years.  I brought my Nikon with my 70-300 telephoto lens (it's like being right next to you!) but Scotty was able to capture his perspective from my iPhone:
 We got there early and staked out our seats in the rear of the theater, as they set up for all the performers.
 Here'  Ahem.
 That's better, son!  You got it!
 Wait, no, that a splotch of yogurt on my shoe?  Ugh.
 What the hell, Scott?  Who is this?
 Here's some that I took, of Kathy getting settled
(her instructor accompanies her on the guitar for both songs.)
 I LOVE this picture!  Every picture I took, he's laughing like this.  Kathy is so funny!
 She played two songs, and we enjoyed all the performers.  There were a lot more adults this time around (usually Kathy goes last so, as she says, her fellow students can finish up and get home for their naps, haha!) so I think she must be inspiring people!  I have my own little dream, so maybe,  some day, me too.  :)
We left the campus and went out to dinner with Kathy and her husband and some other friends, and it was such a lovely time.  I'm so grateful for these little excursions with my boys!