Doc C's conference is in a pair of hotels which seems to bookend a rabbit-warren of a mall, which has some swanky shops in it including a Tiffany's.
The last time I saw a Tiffany's window display they were promoting their diamond key pendants, which was beautiful timing on their part because I'd just got my key tattoo. This time they had a window displaying a fairytale village made out of tiffany blue books. You have got to hand it to them, they know how to tempt a girl.
Yes that is a diamond snowflake hanging from the trail of stars, and there's also a ring in the beak of the bluebird; but for me it was the book village that was particularly enchanting. Can I live there please?
This is a nice atmospheric shot with no flash, but I wanted to get the detail of all of the text on the stars and house gables, so I got a more harshly lit photo as well.
Isn't that lovely? I'm not sure what the story is that the pages are taken from, but there was some text on the window with a story about a handsome prince who is turned into a bluebird whilst his lady love is imprisoned in a tower. Does anyone know that story? It's sounds like a mash-up of Rapunzel, the Happy Prince and that one about the swans.
Of course I stayed outside Tiffany's and just admired the window, but I still purchased some sparkle today.
Lovely shiny rings! These were total bargains as they were reduced from $20 each, to a dollar each in the Papyrus sale. Fabulous. It's a pity these were the last two in stock, or you know I'd be wearing one on every available digit.
This is the best time to buy Christmas decorations because they are usually all discounted by a ridiculous amount to get them off the shelves. I love it! Shiny things on sale? For ME!
Of course the only problem then is that you have to wait a whole year before you actually get to use your new treasures. I'll have to make sure I put these fabulously cheesy baubles with the rest of the decorations when I get home, so I don't squirrel them away "somewhere safe" and then forget I bought them for the bargain price of $7.
Are they not deliciously awful? I feel a childish delight in their glitter encrusted charms I have to say. These are part of a anniversary release apparently, and are based on vintage designs from when the company first started.
I also bought a box of Halloween decorations by the same company for $6, so I only have to wait ten months to hang these treasures up.
I think my favourite of these is the happy ghost with a pearl sheen, but the cat has really good fangs and the details on all of them are quite charming. I'm obviously going to have to hang the crossed bones beneath the skull, and I think they will all look great on my mini black tree. I cannot wait for Halloween! As ever!
This is my new tattoo, which is on my left wrist. It's an open book, as you can see, and I wanted it to be blank so there wasn't just one correct orientation for it (This would have driven my high school art teacher crazy, the giant painting I once did of a compass was not supposed to have a right way up either and she kept telling me I had to choose, but I never did.)
I've also decided that I am going to design a coat of arms for myself and Doc C which incorporated my book and key tattoos, with his Koi Carp and suits of cards tattoos. That way when anyone asks what the "significance" of the images is I will be able to honestly answer that it is part of my family crest. Sneaky, huh? Oh, plus we already have the perfect motto in Latin "Audio Video Disco", which translates to "I Hear, I See, I Learn".
The weather in Boston has been as predicted, that is to say, OMG SNOW!
Our B&B is toasty warm though, the thermostat is set at 75, which is much too hot for us to be able to sleep actually so we've had the windows open every night we've been here. The first night we were here we also bundled the duvet off the bed and put it on the chair, and when we came back the next day it had been put back on the bed. So the next night I re-made the bed with a thin cotton throw and put the duvet on top of the wardrobe with the spare pillows. That was perfectly comfortable to sleep with, and the next morning I re-made the bed to indicate that this was a conscious bedding choice on our part. There was no change that day, but the next we found that our chosen bed-spread was swapped out for a light weight but fleecy blanket, and the cotton throw was missing entirely from the room! We joked that the cleaning crew were worried that we were a bit soft in the head and didn't know better than to freeze when there were plenty of blankets in easy reach.
This evening, after we came back from sorting out Doc C's conference stuff, an electric heater had been put in our room as well.
There is simply no way that we are going to be allowed to be cold this Christmas. I'm starting to think there is a team of Jewish mothers keeping our room in order.
I've always liked Boxing Day, because it's the day when you get to play with all your presents and eat any food that's been left over. Of course that's a traditional Boxing Day in your own home, so it's slightly different when you are staying in a B&B in Boston; what you do then is get a tattoo and shop for cameras. It's not a tradition as such, but I really think we ought to consider this as a staple of the holiday period.
I made an appointment with the same tattoo artist that did my key about a week before we came, and I'd already e-mailed him some images to give him an idea of the design I wanted. It's an open book on my left wrist, and I am particularly tickled to think it was paid for by the Christmas money given to me by my colleagues in the English Department. That is just dead appropriate, don't you think?
I also had enough money to get a new digital camera, so there has been much on-line researching which finally led me to go to Best Buy and purchase a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5. Naturally I couldn't remember any specific detail of the information I'd read once I was actually inside the shop (and Best Buy employees are notably lack lustre in the day after Christmas), but I did know what I wanted the camera to do and the sort of price range I was looking for. In the end I got the shop floor model, so it was on sale and then further discounted which meant I could also afford to buy a 4GB memory card for it. Nice. There will be no photo left untaken!
Now it's snowing, with the forecast being for it to be a blizzard; in fact the amount of snow we are expecting is being discussed in feet rather than inches. Sounds like the perfect time for me to hole up in our room and work my way through the operating manual for my new camera, whilst periodically washing and moisturising the fresh ink on my wrist.
Christmas Eve was pretty hectic, which was what I expected really. Doc C's family likes to meet up and give the children of the family their presents from the extended family, so it's a lot of hyped up kids and a fair amount of chaos.
This year the main action was at Buffy's house, and her two kids decided that their Aunty Jen (although I'm pretty certain they had no idea what my name was) was the perfect person to sit on, play picnic with, carry them around and generally be an all purpose climbing frame. It made it really quite difficult for me to finish a glass of wine, what with all the running away in circles from monsters, and the swinging small people upside down "Again! Again!" and again! Bear in mind this is before anymore of Doc's siblings turned up, so by the end of the evening there were actually 12 adults and a seething carpet of variously aged children.
And then we still had to go and see the other side of the family, which I thought was going to be a fair bit quieter there being only one brother,one sister-in-law, two nephews and Doc C's Dad involved. How wrong I was. I had failed to consider the volume that can be created by an animatronic Santa singing "Jingle Bell Rock" on repeat, whilst a small child sets off Billy the Bass singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Plus one of their two dogs was feeling a bit anxious what with all the people in the house, and had a lot to say about it, where as the other one fell in love with my hand and just kept licking me or insisting on belly rubs. Clearly I must look like a total push-over to small children and animals, because that's how our cats treat me as well. Still I suppose it's nice to be "loved", even if the creature in question has no idea who you are.
By the end of the day I had, unsurprisingly, a splitting headache, so we came back to our lovely B&B to sleep and all we have planned for Christmas Day itself is a walk around town to locate open restaurants so we can eat something other than clementines and dark chocolate for dinner, and then a stroll around the beautiful Massachusetts countryside.
We've reached our mid-way point in the drive to Boston, and stopped overnight in Pennsylvania. After dinner we walked around the shopping mall to stretch our legs and, as we were at the hysterical laughter stage of a long journey, we could barely draw breath for giggling at shop names. Who calls a shoe shop "Lamy's"? I mean, really?
Also, the town we are staying in is fairly close to Hershey, which is the home of Hershey's Chocolate; even if we hadn't seen all of the signs to the town on the highway I would probably have guessed as our hotel room has three framed posters of vintage Hershey's ads.
I may have nightmares about them adding parmesan to the chocolate and laughing maniacally. shiver.
The cookie baking marathon is complete! Yay!
Today we bought a dozen jam jars with a really cool quilted pattern molded into them, specifically so we can package the cookies and give them to Doc C's family when we see them over Christmas. When we bought the jars we also bought ribbon, because as Doc C said "Tie ribbon in a bow round the jar, and it's fuckin' Christmassy right?"
That's my Sweetie!
This is the terrarium that Amy and I gave to the department chair. We commissioned the terrarium from a small business in Asheville and then added in the mini golf accoutrements because, well, he's a golfer.
The best part is that it only needs 1/8 of a cup of water once a year, and only needs indirect light.
In fact, upon reflection, it's the perfect house plant for me too. How could I possibly kill something which comes cocooned in it's own micro-climate?
Today I tidied the study and the cupboards whilst listening to Goldfrapp, and then I put together the dough for cookies whilst watching "Miss Marple" (Thanks Moth!) Now I'm baking the cookies whilst watching "Leverage". There's just something about pastry made with a crime drama playing in the background, that's the secret to my butter cookies actually.
Tomorrow I'll probably do some laundry whilst making mince pies, and watching "Psych" or maybe "Cold Case".
It's all go!
This is the amigurumi I made for my work friend Amy's Christmas basket. She's based on a particularly terrifying small girl featured in the reality television series "Toddlers and Tiaras", who has become something of a by-word in our office for the majestic power of a well timed strop. It's worth pondering from time to time.
Today we finally managed to meet up with Randy and Laura for brunch, which may not sound like much of an achievement but I'd tried to use Facebook to co-ordinate it and somehow ended up sending them an invitation to meet last Monday. sigh.
After brunch (I had the special french toast), we went to buy bird food and then we went to walk dogs. The first pair of dogs were a very skinny basset hound called Boone, and a husky/shepherd mix with bright blue eyes called Cobalt. The husky in Cobalt definitely came out the moment we got the dogs into the snow, and he wanted to run and run and run whilst pulling things behind him. So Doc and I took it in turns to run behind him, whilst Boone behaved in a much more dignified manner but still tried to pull our arms out of their sockets. After that we thought we needed a change of pace so we asked to take out the small and calm looking Gingi, who then proceeded to turn into a total nutter the moment we got her outside.
We were exhausted by the time we got home, I made a cup of tea and the moment I'd finished drinking mine I curled up the sofa and fell asleep for two hours.
My legs are still aching. Stupid dogs. I cannot wait until we can adopt one of the little lunatics of our own, although Nancy will really not be impressed when we do.
I've been asleep for most of today, which was just lovely, I think it was my sub-conscious welcoming in the Christmas break. Once I finally woke up at about 3, my first priority was to call my Mum and wish her a happy birthday.
I also tried out one of my Christmas presents, a fire pot from my work-friend Amy. The pot is portable and can be used inside because the fuel is smokeless, so it's perfect for when you want a small but atmospheric fire. I only put a small amount of the fuel gel into the reservoir, and it lasted about half an hour. This is also going to be really nice to have in the middle of the table when we have dinner outside in the summer.
Look at that flame!
At lunch today I suggested that Doc and I should get a simple version of Dungeons and Dragons to play over the Christmas break, because I've never played it whilst he spent many a happy teenage hour as a Halfing Thief. I said that one bonus was that we could then hold our heads up in the local comic bookshop, and brag about having "...a mage with plus five dexterity."
Doc C had to really wrestle with his inner gaming geek not to actually snort at such a very basic mistake, but the look on his face betrayed him, so I asked what was so funny. Doc explained that a Mage really wouldn't need dexterity, that's an attribute for an assassin or a thief.
I mean, obviously. Duh.
Last weekend, or maybe even the weekend before that, I dug out the Christmas cards to write address and send. They have just been sat untouched in their boxes ever since; so once again I have failed to send anyone a festive card, cue the festive guilt.
Actually when I got the boxes of cards out, I found several cards loose on top. Which was odd, then it turned out I'd already written the cards, and completely failed to send them. What's more I couldn't then whack them into envelopes and send them to the intended recipients under the guise of their being freshly chosen and written cards, because I'd put the date in them. Christmas 2008?!?
Who keeps unsent Christmas cards for two years? And what should I do with them now? I am just hopeless at this, and I need to either accept that, or damn well get my act together in Novemeber next year.
For this year though:
Dear friends, please know that I often think think fondly of all of you, especially at Christmas, and if I lived closer then I'd bake you all mince pies with stars on the top.
After tomorrow I shall be on holiday for two weeks. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!
Today was kind of exciting. There was no precipitation of ice crystals, and we were able to drive all the way into town! Yay!
Doc dropped me off at work, and then came home just in time to meet the delivery guys with our tank of gas, so we now can have a fire in the living room grate.
Meanwhile, I had some very important sorting of files to do, but after lunch I had a lovely surprise when I was given my Christmas gift from the department. There was even some singing and dancing, and if anything is going to give you a warm fuzzy feeling it's the gift of dance.
Then I came home, to the nice warm fire, and made mince pies whilst we watched "Sid and Nancy".
We were snowed in again today, which after the third day is starting to wear a bit thin frankly. Today we really did try to leave, but we only managed to drive about 10 feet from our front door before the Mini's wheels lost traction in the powdery snow and just started to spin.
It was too chilly to sit still, so I baked cookies, deep cleaned the kitchen sink and put up that insulating cling-film stuff on the windows in the bedroom and bathroom; all whilst watching a SyFy marathon of really bad horror movies.
Hopefully we can get in tomorrow.
I'd made mincemeat yesterday, following a recipe in Nigella's "How to Be A Domestic Goddess" which is really easy to make and delicious. It's cooking apples, raisins, currants, almonds, lemon juice, zest, mixed spices, sugar and cider. Unless you forgot to buy cider, in which case why not improvise with that bottle of Chardonnay that's been lurking in the fridge? Also don't forget the rum, but you can skip the suggested cherries if you like. Basically you put everything in a large saucepan, simmer it until it goes pulpy and there you have it.
Today was clearly pastry making day, so we could have some mince pies and a nice cup of when Doc C had finished his grading quota for the day. These were gone almost as soon as they were cool enough to eat, but I've still got half the dough left and two-thirds of the mincemeat so there will be more tomorrow! YUM!
Doc C has always insisted on buying a live tree in a pot, rather than going to a tree farm and choosing one to be chopped down. He then tends the live tree throughout the year, and is very disappointed if they die. The little tree we've had for the past couple of years is still doing very well, and has grown to an impressive two foot high.
This year we've left it outside on the veranda and decorated it with white lights that we've put on a timer, so it's lit when we come home and turns off when we go to bed. It's very pretty.
This year we also bought another new fake tree(I've put up the tiny black tinsel tree as well!), which actually explained a lot about Doc C's attachment to little fir trees.
It's an officially licensed Peanuts product, and I understand that this is a reference to "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Charlie Brown finds a very scruffy looking tiny fir tree, that he decorates with a single red glass bauble which pulls the branches down even further.
Doc C was apparently deeply affected by the film as a small child, which I will get to see for the first time when it gets shown on TV next week. And, I promise, if Doc C cries I will be tweeting about it at some length.
Instead of partying this evening, I got out the number 3 crochet hook (it's the light blue one, and it's my favourite) and finished Yoda's hands and cane.
I have to throw false modesty to the wind and say he turned out far better than I was expecting him to. Yoda himself is crocheted in cotton, with hair made of strands of cotton rug-hooked in and polymer clay button eyes. His clothes are all knitted, the top and trousers from brown cotton, and the robe from new wool. I also crocheted a cane from beige cotton, and made loops from his fingers so he can hold the handle. The cane and the robe are removable, and of course Yoda can wear his hood up or down.
I made him for my friend Laura to give to a friend of her's who is a huge Star Wars fan, but Doc C is already starting to get quite attached, so I hope I can smuggle him out when the Doc isn't looking.
Today Doc C and I were on somewhat of a mission, we made a list of everything we needed to buy, loaded all the recycling and rubbish into the car and then we went to town. The list was mainly things that we might need whilst snowed in, which there is not a sign of so far I have to say, and included such necessities as whiskey, apples and draught excluding stuff.
We completed our mission within the alloted time frame and then came home to put up the lights on the veranda before the hotly anticipated arrival of snow.
Whilst helping Doc to wire the lights through the kitchen window, I managed to hit myself in the head. If this were a sit-com it would have been something seasonally appropriate, but in real life it was actually a very large wok which I knocked off it's hook and onto my head. Doc came running in, and made me sit down then he checked me for any signs of concussion, but I think I'm ok. Bit of a headache, but that's about it. Edith kissed it better, well, really she just likes the taste of my hair product I think so it was more an affectionate grooming.
We were planning to go to a friend's party this evening, but the wok to the head took the party mood right out of me, so we stayed at home instead. I put up some of the draught excluders, but I've left the rest to do in the morning. Oddly putting up insulation is far less fun then putting up decorations, weird that eh?
We're going to my Department's Christmas Party this evening, which should be quite fun actually. It's a very good thing that it's this evening, because this weekend we have been promised a blizzard. In fact the University has already re-scheduled the exams that were supposed to take place on Monday to Wednesday, I'm assured that this is completely without precedent so this is clearly going to be some serious snow.
I'm already planning the supplies we'll need to buy tomorrow morning to survive the predicted long snow-pocalypse weekend - Mostly this involves having all the ingredients required to bake mince-pies and gingerbread houses, but I also have my eye on some draught excluding caulking cord for the window frames. I am determined to stay warm this year, and I've been reading this blog post about things you can do to keep heat in when you live in a rented home with an eye to making that a reality. Of course my top tips to staying warm over the winter is plenty of tea and a cat or two scattered about the place.
I am this close, > <, to finishing Yoda, so I'm just going to be curled up on the sofa doing that for the rest of this evening; whilst Doc C battles Dark Spawn and Edith sits on my feet. Nancy is probably on our bed, that's were she usually is.
This is a photo I took of a shopping list in progress.
The glitter on the side table was an unintentional bonus from my sorting out some of the more flamboyant Christmas decorations on it. There may or may not be a story about a much younger me trying to make ugly things pretty by the simple application of a touch of glitter, but this really would just be trying to make a silk purse out of sow's ear. Hates the table I does. And we were actually given a matching pair of the damn things. Urgh.
On my list were -
A Small Wreath
A Large Glass Bowl
We were wildly successful in this endeavor.
First I snagged the last one six pack of battery powered fake candles; these have a self timing mechanism, so once you've switched them on they stay on for 8 hours and then turn themselves off for 16 hours.
All of the wreaths I'd seen previously were just too large, and today looked to be turning out the same way until I spotted what was actually supposed to be used to make a pillar candle a bit more festive. It's a mini wreath of fake greenery, berries and pine cones, and it fits on our front door perfectly behind the glass screen door.
The large glass bowl was Doc C's find, it's the footed trifle bowl on the left. As you can see I've filled it with Christmas baubles in a range of beautifully shiny colours.
We also bought part of a Christmas present (I'm making the rest of it), an adorable fake tree (I'll post pictures!), a travel mug that can be put in the dishwasher AND the micro-wave (It's the grail of travel mugs), and batteries for the candles. I was particularly pleased to note that the brand name of the batteries is "DieHard". How very festive, in a Bruce Willis-ian way.
If there is anything better than coming home early from work, it's coming home early from work, having a nap with your loving pets and being woken by the smell of banana bread baking in the kitchen.
Also, in other news, it snowed a bit.
At the weekend I baked some mini star cookies for the lovely staff of my hairdressers, and I had some of the dough left over so I baked some even smaller stars for Doc C's departmental party. I thought I'd try sprinkling the uncooked dough with red sugar, because I thought that would be pretty.
It probably is if you sprinkle the sugar evenly, and don't almost burn the whole batch.
The sugar that fell off the cookies onto the grease proof paper cooked as well, naturally, and it melted into a bubbly dark red pool. Which meant my tray of cookies ended up looking like they'd been baked by Dexter Morgan, presumably when he got the munchies in the middle of a murder.
The suar quickly cooled into a thin hard wafer with a slightly tacky feel to it, so it was possible to pick up and stick onto various body parts. I have some lovely photos of Doc C looking positively delighted with his oddly mobile head injuries.
To give you an idea I just held the sugar in my hand.
Doc had a meeting so he still drove into campus, but the Mini is front wheel drive so he actually had a bit of a challenge just getting up the incline of the driveway and onto the main road. It took him three tries, but he took a good run up and made it eventually.
I made myself some porridge and went back to bed with the cats. They mostly slept, whilst I knitted and read "Freakonomics".
Doc came home at 12, and said he was really glad that I hadn't gone in today because the roads were awful already. He'd brought home a lot of work to do, so he disappeared into the study.
I felt much better this afternoon so I took the opportunity to whip up a batch of heart-shaped butter cookies and some hot chocolate; because if this isn't the perfect weather to snuggle up with a warm snack and a good book, then I really don't know when is.
Doc C took Edith outside for a few minutes yesterday morning, naturally he got bored well before she did. For one thing because she's admirably prepared for such weather with a luxurious fur coat which keeps her toasty warm, and for another she's very vain and knows how gorgeous she looks against white.
I suspect this is how she was given the distinctly snowy name of Mrs Zhivago, because if any cat would look good snuggled up to Julie Christie in a horse drawn sleigh it would be our Edith.
Home with Doc C.
Carr's Ginger and Lemon Creams.
A nice cup of tea.
Knitting Yoda robes.
A floofy lap cat's contented sigh.
A Martini with a twist of lemon.
"CSI" (Original Flavour).
Spaghetti with veggie meatballs.
Today was cold, so I decided to wear a black jacket over a grey striped waffle-weave t-shirt, this always makes me feel like I'm in an unfilmed winter episode of "The Prisoner", so naturally I then accessorised with my Village ID badge and a black military looking cap.
I also wore stripy knee length socks under jeans and boots; which would usually be fine, but the only difficulty I have with skinny jeans, as opposed to bootcut jeans, is that it is really difficult to pull your socks up. I tried pulling them up through the jeans, but then when I tug the jeans back down the socks come with them in an annoying roll. It is a problem.
These black and white knee socks are Little Miss Matched toe socks, which means they come in pairs of three and no sock matches one of it's socky friends. I am intending to knit some of my own along similar lines, but using the Fibanaci sequence to determine the stripe pattern. This sock will be extremely satisfying to both make and wear, I feel sure of it.
I often joke that the students believe that the faculty sleep in their offices, because they seem to be so put out when the professor they need to speak to isn't there at the very moment the student needs to speak to them. Well, maybe sleep is the wrong concept, it's more like power down really as all students secretly believe that their teachers are some sort of artificially intelligent android with no real human attributes like emotions or familial attachments.
In a similar way some of Doc C's students have apparently become fascinated by me, as an abstract concept rather than an actual person as most of them haven't met me. Doc sometimes mentions me in lectures, and when I cropped up in one of his classes yesterday he was asked where I worked. Upon hearing I was actually only in the next building over, a couple of them immediately started planning to come and look at me in my enclosure. Another student is an English major, so he was able to tell the exciting story of having actually spoken to me. He was even able to repeat a witticism I'd made, although I don't know if he tried to do a British accent.
I am so very exotic.