Good Morning, Mr. Snowman

Posted by mrssmythe on February 6, 2016 in Seasons |


I was the first one up today, and as I was filling the tea kettle, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a snowman off in the distance. (Ginger’s handiwork).

It was such a friendly, unexpected thing to see, first thing in the morning. It got my day off to a wonderful, smiling start.

Truly, the world needs more snowmen.

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Snow Day

Posted by mrssmythe on February 5, 2016 in Critters, Seasons |


We woke up to snow today. Snow on the ground, snow in the sky. Snow that continued to fall well into the afternoon. Schools closed, traffic slowed, and, for a while, at least, the world was very, very quiet.


One of the first things I did was walk the dogs. There’s always something fun about getting out into the weather – be it snow or rain or just plain cold. I’m learning how to dress for the elements, and when I’m out there, able to stand the the weather comfortably, I get a wonderful feeling of having put something over on nature. Like I’m getting away with something. I like it very much.


After the walk, I let the dogs out into the back yard where they frolicked and cavorted like puppies.


Manny, our Catahoula leopard dog, does very well, despite his short coat. Ursa has even taught him how to take “snow baths.”


And there is always a good deal of racing around the yard in circles.


The dogs end up exhausted.

One down side to snow play, though, is snow dingles.


That’s what I call the little (and sometimes not so little) balls of snow that collect on Kipper and Ursa’s coats. Kipper seems to get them most. They stick to his fur and are difficult to pull off. If we leave them, though, I end up spending part of the morning going around, mopping up puddles.

But it’s a small price to pay for a winter landscape that looks like this:


So beautiful.

From the dining room table, glad we’ve finally gotten a proper snow,

Mrs. Smythe

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Something “New” to Read

Posted by mrssmythe on February 4, 2016 in Books |

I participated in a church-sponsored book exchange over the weekend.

Actually, it wasn’t supposed to be an exchange, per se. Rather, the idea was for each of twelve people to bring in thirty books. The resulting 360 books were then set out on tables and offered up to anyone interested. All of this took place after services, during coffee hour, in the fellowship hall.

It seemed like a brilliant plan, especially as I already had a box of books ready to go out the door when the announcement was made.

However, once we got the books set up, grabbed our coffee, and began to mingle, something strange happened. The twelve people who had brought the books began to look at all of the other books, and then they began to pick them up. Which, of course, led to their taking just as many books home as they had brought. So – for those of us who were hoping to clear some space on our bookshelves – well, no success. On the other hand, we walked away with some really good books.

For example, this little treasure.


A Short History of the Civil War, by Fletcher Pratt.

Honestly, I grabbed this book more for it’s cover than its topic. Sad, I know, but, I was unexplainably drawn to the wallpaper-like design. And then there was the fact that it was so wee – practically pocket-sized. Printed in 1948, it has all sorts of fun features you don’t usually see in books these days.

Things like speckled pages…


And gold embossing on the spine.


But, really, this book is more than just decorative. I did a bit of research, and, according to many readers, Pratt did a first-class job when he wrote this history. After all these years, the book is still in print, and its Amazon page is brimming with five-star reviews whose writers claim it is the place to start when attempting to learn more about the American Civil War.

So, though I am not normally a reader of military history, I’ve added it to my beside reading pile. Once I finish The Time Traveler’s Guide To Medieval England, I plan to give it a go.

In the meantime, I’ll just admire its pretty cover.


From the dining room table, with time to get in a chapter or two before bed,

Mrs. Smythe

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The Mittens are Done! (And a Hat)

Posted by mrssmythe on February 3, 2016 in Crafting, Critters |

I am happy to report the Possum Yarn mittens are complete!


They have even been worn. And yes, they are soft, they are warm, they are everything a pair of mittens ought to be.

That is not, however, to say they are error free.

Do you remember when I was working on the thumbs? That was a tricky bit. I had to open up a hole in the (almost) finished mittens, insert needles, and pick up where I’d left off. Literally.


Ugh. After the first thumb, My shoulders ached. I was so intent on the process, I unwittingly clenched them as I hunched over my knitting. And, in the end, I accidentally shifted everything over one stitch on the first mitten, so the stem of the flower doesn’t line up exactly. You can see it in the photo below. the thumb on the left doesn’t sit as cleanly as the one on the right does.


By the second thumb, though, I had things pretty well in hand and the pattern came out the way it was supposed to.


I suppose I could rip out that first thumb and do it all over again, but sometimes when you do something like that, you just make things worse. Also, I was heartened by something I read in Norwegian Mittens and Gloves. The author writes,

     Today, we expect that everything that is made should be perfect, with a clear and obvious pattern and mistake-free finishing. Perhaps it is because we see so many mass-produced goods...
    Knitting is a folk hand work and not high art. It is precisely those small errors; the bits that don't quite fit that indicate a handmade item. These are the qualities that give life to the garment, as opposed to the stiffness that characterizes perfect artistry and mechanical production.



I’ve decided I agree with the author – if for no other reason than the thought of unraveling and re-knitting that thumb makes me want to cry.

And, also, because I think she’s got a point.

Now – what to do with the leftover yarn? Knit a hat, of course.

At first, I didn’t think I would have enough yarn to continue the original color scheme, so I reversed it. I made the background charcoal and the motif red. I also took the motif from the mittens and reworked it some so that it looked like a star.


That was all well and good. Five stars fit around the circumference of the hat very nicely. However, the hat turned out a wee bit on the large side. And then, there is the problem of the “eyes”. Half the time, when looking at the hat, I see stars. The rest of the time, I see eyes. Do you see what I mean?


The girls thought this was hilarious. Pepper dubbed it my “Eye of Sauron” hat. And, I have to admit, she has a point.

So – between the pattern going a awry, and the fit being somewhat off, I may re-do this hat. Plus, now that I know I have enough yarn to make the background red, I can make it more of an exact match to the mittens, which is a pleasant thought.

And, what does Shadow think?


Shadow thinks I should turn the hat into a cat pillow. That’s what Shadow thinks.

From the dining room table, getting ready to retrieve my tea from the kitchen (I had forgotten about it, and, by now, it’s almost certainly cold),

Mrs. Smythe

P.S. If you’re interested in the pattern for the mittens, you can find it HERE

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Soldiers on Rainbow Ponies

Posted by mrssmythe on February 1, 2016 in Musings, Toys |

I have a love/hate relationship with the toys the girls take into the bath. I dislike these toys because I frequently find them scattered all over the tub area – along its sides, behind the shower curtain, in with the soap and shampoo – too wet to be put away, and too jumbled to properly dry.

On the other hand, I love how they give me a glimpse into my children’s minds.

For instance, last week, I stumbled onto this tub-side vignette:


Now, what in the world is going on here? Soldiers riding into battle on…rainbow ponies?

How embarrassing for them (the soldiers, I mean).

And how hilarious.


These poor soldiers were purchased at a garage sale several years ago. Since then, they’ve led a pretty tame existence. Most often, they’re pressed into service as dates for Disney princess dolls and the like.


This just might have been one of the most exciting days of their lives.

I only wish I knew the details.


From the dining room table, thinking there will eventually come a time when I mourn the fact that there are no bath toys scattered all over the tub,

Mrs. Smythe

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