Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Dancing Girls

Is there anything more New York-y than seeing dancing girls on Christmas day? We had the most New York Christmas I think that a person could have. The glitzy New York, not that old crabby New York.

Drake and I started the day at home and opened our presents which were for the most part a surprise and a delight. I say for the most part because I ruined Christmas by routinely checking our bank account and accidentally scrolling down and noticing a large purchase from knitpicks.com alas. If being fiscally responsible is a crime then lock me up.

Along with the knitting needles, I received a book called Holy Headshot! which is hands down the most hilarious thing I have ever received. It's a compilation of funny/horrifying/inappropriate headshots AND their accompanying resumes. Basically the best book ever for many reasons, not the least of which is my vested interest in headshots.

Drake got new coffee mugs from gimme coffee and a box of yarn (which will soon become a new knit tie) as well as a set of Russian Dolls that you paint yourself and a couple of books. Oh yes! and an ipod touch (I'm very crafty) He now spends his days adding "apps" and such and saying things like "This is so awesome, and I've barely even had time to play with it yet." He's said this at least 3 times. It is also a lie.

We then sang at church ate delicious bagels from Essa bagel on the lower East Side, and hung out with Drake's parents at the hotel. We headed up to Radio City Music Hall and saw the Christmas Spectacular, which was indeed spectacular, and has a new 3D part which was lots of fun. Drake enjoyed watching the 7 year old girl a few rows ahead of us try to grab the 3D objects, I enjoyed watching his mom and I do the same :)

We had a great time and followed it up with a stop at the Oak Room where we were seated next to Yoko Ono (!) and Sean Lennon. She was dressed all in white including a tall fur hat. After the Oak Room we went to Nougatine in the Trump Tower and had a delicious dinner. Drake was so happy that his parents came to NYC. I think he said that about a million times, but it deserves reiterating here. Howard Stern was there, with whoever his wife is. But his presence was totally eclipsed by every delicious thing we ate. It was really exceptional.

The next day we made a quick trip to the Museum of Modern Art, and then on Saturday we went to Ellis Island (where several people mistook Danny for Michael Corleone) and our big night out at the Met! We ate at the Grand Tier in the Opera House, and saw Thais with Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson. It was such a great night-- really a big event and through a friend of Susan's we were given a backstage pass and met them both. A lovely time all around.
For more pics click here

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas fun-times.


My Red Ryder
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
As I predicted, Drake was indeed tricking me and got me this needle set for Christmas! Hooray! In honor of this, I have tipped the current knitting projects list in his favor, and after finishing a very quick baby project I will knit him a tie because he asked me to.

Drake asks me to knit things for him. And then he wears them. It is bliss for both parties involved. He wears his slipper socks every night. It has made me desirous of my own pair, but I'm going to make mine a grown-up version of a pair of Pompon slippers from the Debbie Bliss Baby Knits Book.

Current WIP (works in progress for non-knitterly types):
1. Baby Pompon slippers
2. My First Pair of Socks (toe up)
3. Drake's tie

To-Knit list:
1. Lace socks with birthday yarn from Maureen :)
2. Socks for Drake (with noro self-striping sock yarn purchased in November)
3. Grown-up Pompon slippers
4. Sweater for Drake
5. Scarves for Danny and Susan
6. Sweater for me

I have already completed very many Christmas scarves and elves which I will post shortly here and on Ravelry--

We had such a lovely Christmas week with Drake's parents and did a lot of fun things in NYC that we hadn't done before (like go to the Greenwich Tavern, and the Oak Room and Nougatine and the Rockettes and the Statue of Liberty!) Again, I'll expound after I have access to those pictures. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Holiday/week!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Delicious Christmas

As I type this I am eating shredded wheat. Accompanying the shredded wheat on my desk are:
1. half of a cookie (discussed yesterday). It was for my co-worker, but she left work before I could give it to her and won't be back till January 2nd. I figured it would be best if I just ate it.
2. an untouched, dressed salad for which I was not hungry after eating half of the cookie.

For some reason I have decided to eat the shredded wheat. Maybe it's subliminal punishment for the cookie over-indulgences of late.

Drake's parents have landed in NYC and are probably unpacking and settling into their hotel as we speak! This, of course, means that I am driven to horrible distraction at work and cannot wait until the bell rings (I always feel like a school girl when 5 o'clock rolls along) and everyone floods the streets. Really, there is no bell.

It's been a lot of fun seeing things in NYC snazzed up for the holidays. Some of the regular parts of my commute have become pretty special. The guy with the really big smile who sings Beatles hits in the 6th Avenue underpass (between the L and the 1,2,3) had someone with him singing harmonies the other day. Some of the hipsters in my neighborhood are wearing Santa hats. Our neighbors put up one of those enormous inflatable snowglobes that plays out of tune Christmas carols at all hours of the day and night. AND the guy who usually blasts rap music while working on his car was blasting Sinatra Christmas Carols at the Giglio Boys Club when Santa was there to greet children on Saturday afternoon.

I hope you all already know about Santaland diaries?

Also click on the picture for some great nostalgic photographs just posted by the George Eastman House.

I hope to check in now and again to chronicle the big fun we'll be having with the Texas faction of the family in NYC!
Merry merry-making!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My turn...


I'm a cosmonaut!
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Drake just sent me this one!

I wish I could go home right now and bake some more-- once the clock strikes 5, we'll make a quick stop at the craft store for some bells then home and a quick batch of cookies before dinner with friends.

Isn't this a great week?

Ho ho ho! And a history of chocolate chip cookies.


drake santa 2
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
Isn't Drake lucky that his cute face fits so seamlessly on most pictures of Santa?

This week we got snowed in my cousin rescheduled our Christmas party, so we spent the weekend watching the first season of Mad Men (which makes me want to go dress shopping) and baking and knitting. I finished the second sock of my first pair! now all I have to do is rip out the ankle of the first sock and redo it in a rib to match the second one, cast off more loosely on the first sock and then I'll have my first wooly pair! I can't wait.

I also finished 6 Christmas presents (Drake cheated and is wearing his today) and baked some cookies and a chicken. The chicken was a gesture of good will and healthy eating-- I made (and ate) the cookies first. A new recipe, and the jury is still out. I am attempting to copy the Levain cookie of my dreams and this is my second attempt. I think that the first attempt may have been more successful. I will expound.

I have been baking since the beginning of conciousness. Not cooking, mind you. Baking. I have no interest in "food" as it were. Just cookies cakes and (seasonal) pies. Toll house-ish recipes sufficed until high school when on a trip to BJ's wholesale club with my mother I happened upon the Mrs. Field's cookie cook book. I decided that I shouldn't buy it, but that if I happened to memorize the chocolate chip cookie recipe while we were in the store, why not try it. So I did. I'm a quick memorizer :)

Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies, as altered by the waning memory of Alta:

1 c. butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar ( I used dark brown)
1/2 c. sugar
(beat until fluffy)
add 2 eggs, one at a time-- thoroughly incorporate. Add 1 tsp vanilla with the second egg.

in separate bowl, whisk
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips (these days I use Ghiradelli bittersweet and milk chocolate mixed together)

Cook for 7-10 minutes at 375.

Then I lived in Rochester and my friend Ali introduced me to The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook which has some of the tastiest cookie recipes I have ever encountered. I'll leave you to discover them as they're readily available. All baked goods in this cookbook, especially the Ultimate Carrot Cake are ridiculously delicious.

Then I moved to NYC and discovered Levain. It's like a meteorite of cookie heaven. Their cookies are a full 6 oz. Have you seen a 6oz cookie before? unreal. This is the cookie that convinced me, once and for all that my allergy to walnuts is worth ignoring. So my tongue swells a bit, who cares! they're that good.

And so, faithful friends, I give to you this Christmas a link to my new favorite cookie recipe. I know that you will hesitate when you see just how big a 6 oz cookie is, but please I entreat you, make them 6 oz. otherwise you don't get the gooey goodness in the middle. Also toast the walnuts.

And don't blame me when you eat a pound of cookie.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!


drake santa
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
YES!
How much do I love ,a href="http://www.sumo.fi/products/sumopaint/index.php?id=0">SUMO Paint?

I'm starting to get ideas.....

Isn't this brilliant??
A few Christmas cards have trickled in, and it makes me wish that I had thought to stage something cheerful and hilarious to send out. I did that a couple times back in my early old-age/late youth....

I imagine that once we have a puppy or children the options for humorous pictures increases, mainly because they can't protest (right away). Drake indulges me to a certain extent, but he's not as funny as babies and puppies, or candle heads for that matter. That's a cool mom who made that card. Don't you think?

Why do I assume it's the mom? I guess cause it's my mom that always had zany ideas for projects, and I figure it will be me when we have kids too... This is not to say that Drake won't participate in fun projects, and appreciate candle-face-cards. I imagine that our children will build robots with his prodding and I know that he is pining after the future Dantzler family string quartet. (Which means that we have to have 3 children, Drake, because I mean it when I say that I refuse to learn a stringed instrument. You were there when I attempted the violin last year. It was not a pretty sight. I will not go there again.)

Oh drat!! why did I not send out Christmas cards??? mark my words, next year you will all (all 3 of you) receive an hilarious (yes! "an" before an h!) Christmas card in the mail from me. It will be jolly and bright, and Drake may or may not be dressed up in a doggie-reindeer costume....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time


My Red Ryder
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
"I don't think a football is a very good Christmas present."

Those who have ever spent any time with me during Christmas know of my obsession with the movie "A Christmas Story". I doubt that it will ever lose its shine as the most sparkly wonderful hallmark of the holidays.

I think I have found my Red Ryder for this Christmas.
Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set.

Is it just me, or is this the perfect Christmas gift?? Drake is currently carrying on about how he's not going to get me *knitting needles* for Christmas. He pronounces "knitting needles" as if it is some repugnant vegetable. I'm hoping that he's tricking me and he's just making a great show of what an awful present it is so that he can trick me and hide the present somewhere on Christmas, and he'll be all "So Ralphie, I mean, Alta, did you have a good Christmas?"
then I'll be all:
"Yeah I guess"
"Did you get everything you wanted?"
"Almost."
"What's that over there behind the desk? Santa must have brought it...."

Mom did that kind of stuff all the time. Or maybe it was me... Mom am I confusing you with me again? I did play a lot of "Christmas-is-not-about-the-gifts-but-secretly-the-best-present-is hidden somewhere-I'm sending-you-on-a-long-scavenger-hunt" type Christmas tricks on my brothers who are significantly younger than me.

The best one (stop me if you've heard this one) was the Christmas after I left home for college. It occurred to me that Greg would not remember a time when I lived at home (he was 5 when I started college) so I thought that I ought to create a memorable Christmas through trickery.

I achieved this in the dead of night on Christmas Eve. I was wrapping the presents and addressing them to their intended recipient, but then in a masterful turn of events, I folded the tags in such a way as to display "to Alta from Santa." on each and every present in Santa's beautiful script handwriting. (Santa had very elegant handwriting)

So in the morning my brothers ran downstairs (and by that I mean I went upstairs and woke them all up at some ungodly hour) and they started sorting and delivering the presents.
"This one's for you Alt!!" "Oh, this one too" "This one is for Alt" "Wow, Alt you got a lot of presents"
As the presents piled higher and higher in front of me I began to pick them up and shake them.... "ooooo!! this sounds like legos! Cool, I bet this is a video game!!" and my mother gave me the fish eye:
"What on earth did you do."

Before they cried or threw fits, but after all the presents had been piled in front of me, I quickly pointed out three presents that I had craftily hidden behind the chair---
"Look!" I said with good cheer. "Look, Santa didn't forget you! There are three presents over there!!"

They ran over and unwrapped three child-sized shovels. Oh the trickery! I then confessed that I had snuck into the living room before they woke up and turned all the tags and written my name on them as a joke, and redistributed the presents.

Perhaps not the most good-spirited Christmas trick in retrospect.... in fact it may be outright mean to trick 5 year olds, but alas. What's done is done, and Drake if there's a child-sized shovel over in the corner, I'll be very distressed. It's been done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Toyland


toyland-9267
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
For the full gallery, visit my website click on galleries then Babes in Toyland

Toyland!


toyland-9299
Originally uploaded by Alta Marie
It was such fun. Here is most of the immediate family (minus half of dad's face....)
we were squatting to get into the frame, though clearly there was room for us to stand up straight.

The show went really well, it was so much fun to work on and even more fun to perform. Avery Fisher is a pretty giant hall! hard to gauge audience response in a hall that large, but I could feel little ripples of laughter. That is, until the marching band entered at the end of the show... That ellicited quite a response in all of our rehearsals/performances! It was such fun!! Nothing like a 140-member band with baton twirlers and flag-girls and everything swarming your toys store to save the day. When we did the preview on Tuesday, the 2500 children completely lost it. It was next to impossible to get them to sit down and finish the show after the March of the Toys. They were jumping on the seats and screaming and clapping. such fun!

I'll post some more pictures, but for the complete set, visit
my website click on galleries then Babes in Toyland

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas List.....

In the spirit of The Yarn Harlot's Christmas Knitting Schedule, I decided to make one of my own. There is a distinct problem with this because it is now December 11, and our family Christmas party is December 20th, which means that should I plan to knit anything for my family-- I have all of a week and 1 day to complete the knitting--

This is impossible. So perhaps I will give up. We'll see.

As I type my husband is saying that he has "all the time in the world" to prepare for Christmas..... he is literally saying this right this moment. :) I guess this means he is not hand crafting my gift.

We had a preview on Tuesday for 2500 school-children and it was so much fun!!! They started giggling and screaming right at the beginning, and at the end, they totally lost their minds with glee and were jumping and screaming and it was so much fun. It was also fun to sing in Avery Fisher. There were a few brief moments at a brush up rehearsal on Wednesday where we got to sing without mics, and that was great fun (even though I had "bank voice" from sitting at a desk all day rarely talking, and definitley not singing).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In rehearsal...

This is the first time in a while that I haven't had to leave home to be in a show! what fun this is!
We're at Chelsea Studios rehearsing from now until the show goes up on the 13th. so from 10-6 I'm here rehearsing, knitting and browsing the internet. What a lovely lovely job!
I have knit many cork elves and also some slipper socks for Drake. I'll post pictures soon. One of my colleagues here calls them my "gun cozies." (you know, since we're from Texas...)

I am so thankful to be at a rehearsal space rehearsing instead of auditioning. Such a great feeling! I can only hope that it happens more often...

We decorated the tree a couple days ago, and there were only a few ornament casualties. Yesterday I came home and when I opened the front door I could hear Christmas Carols coming from our apartment upstairs-- Drake baked a delicious ham! how lucky am I this week? toyland, christmas and ham.