Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 Year in Review

According to my Facebook feed, 2016 has been a year that most of my friends are happy to see leave (“goodbye! don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”). Election results, death, humanitarian crises around the world, job loss … the year has certainly packed a few punches.

For me personally, I’ve had worse years although yes, it was a sad year in which I lost a close family friend to cancer. I look back at 2010-2011, a period of two years where we faced a financial crisis, and then on top of that, my own cancer diagnosis and for good measure, a herniated disc. All in all 2016 it has actually been pretty good to our family.

  • My husband found a great job after leaving his consulting position at a startup; he’s happy with the work and the people he works with.
  • Our son entered high school in the fall and is doing well. He’s in honors-level classes and has made first-honors with his grades (first-honors = A average).
  • My mother’s myeloma roared back in the fall, but this was mostly because she wasn’t taking her medication as directed. It was some work for me and my stepfather to get her to become a “compliant patient” (my mom can be “feisty,” lol), but once we got her on a regular routine of taking her meds each day, her myeloma went back into remission. This was HUGE good news because it meant her medical team wouldn’t have to go to plan B, or chemo drugs that I’m not sure her slight frame could bear.
  • While my father and stepmother went through a divorce, they’re still together … which probably makes no sense to anyone except for my family reading this. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say, this is good news. 🙂
  • My dad is heading toward 80, but he’s in fantastic shape and still working.
  • I went into business with my long-time co-author. We haven’t made a ton of money YET, but it has been good for me to have a focus. We released Money Shots in the fall and will be releasing a third edition of The Renegade Writer early in 2017.
  • My sweetie bought me a new car this fall, so we’re back to being a two-car family. This was after being car-less for two years.
  • We spent 10 wonderful days in Germany this summer visiting family.

  • And lastly, we have a new family member to look forward to this spring. I’m not sure how public this news is so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice it to say, I’m very excited about the prospect of baby knitting/sewing. 🙂

My knitting and sewing projects took a hit in 2016, mostly because I was so busy with my new business venture and taking care of my mother in Connecticut. I’m not sure I knit anything that memorable — no sweaters, maybe a half-dozen socks for the sock drawer. For the last few months, I’ve been working on baby knitting, including a large project that I can only work on at home. (I get a lot of my knitting done in the car, in waiting rooms, etc.)

I hope you had many good moments in 2016 that you can reflect on and wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous 2017! Until then …




Today was my son’s last day of school before the holiday break so I drove over a little early, figuring it would be nice to sit in the warm car and either read or listen to BBC World Service. (I chose reading … too much upsetting news.) I happened to be sitting in bright sunlight, and with my glasses on checked out my appearance in the rear-view mirror and …

WHISKERS! Actually, more like a mustache…a sparse one, but yikes, those black hairs were scary looking.

When my son got in the car, I asked him how long I’ve been walking around with a mustache. He said he never noticed I had one. So there’s some good news there.

Oh, the joys of being 50! 😉

Merry Christmas, and if I’m not back before then, a Happy New Year, too.

Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year. When I looked out the window yesterday afternoon at 4:45 p.m. it was completely dark. I don’t like wishing my life away but I do look forward to January and the days getting longer.

I haven’t much to show knitting- or sewing-wise as mostly everything I’m working on is meant for gifting. One of my siblings is going to be a father this spring, so I’ve gone a bit crazy with baby knitting. Although I learned to knit as a child, I didn’t get back into it until my son was well into elementary school, so I missed out on knitting for my own baby. It is very exciting because this will be my first niece or nephew from my side of the family. (No word if baby is a girl or a boy. My feeling is boy. The Burrell family is male-dominated.)

The expectant mom is a knitter and wants me to show her some tricks. She calls herself a “basic” knitter, which is how I think of myself. I’m not very clever, just good at following directions and patient when things go wrong … and they do, all the time. Take for example one of the huge baby projects I’m working on… Only this morning I realized I had one fewer stitch I needed in a critical row, which means tinking back three long rows of lace to fix a missing yarnover. It annoyed me so that I put aside the project aside; I’ll return to it when I’ve cooled off and can face the task without any emotion. As I told my sister-in-law several weeks ago, I think the sign of knitting competence is not in the fancy stuff you can do, but in being able to look at your work, see where it’s gone south, and know exactly what you’ll have to do to get it back on the path. Getting back to that point is often a boatload of work (to mix metaphors), so extra points there. 🙂

And Christmas is almost here! It feels like it snuck up on me this year. We elected not to put up a tree. I would have done it if O insisted upon it, but he’s never been that affected by holiday spirit, so we’re going to put a few bulbs on our potted Norfolk pine and call it a day. Our cat Winston is a climber. Last year he knocked our tree over so many times it was more of a hassle than it was worth. Live and learn!

We spent Thanksgiving in Florida this year. My mother-in-law’s extended family built an amazing outdoor pavilion on their property so they had a family reunion of sorts. It was an interesting experience eating Thanksgiving dinner outdoors in 70 degree weather! On top of that, the food was definitely “southern style,” which interested me greatly as a food writer. For example, there were no vegetables that were cooked on their own. In other parts of the country, I think it would be common to have side dishes of plain green beans, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and/or winter squashes, but with this Southern-style Thanksgiving, the vegetables were cooked into casseroles with a lot of added ingredients. Again, it was interesting to experience a different regional style of celebration. 🙂

OK, so the photo above. That happened Sunday afternoon, right after my husband and I returned from grocery shopping. I had just settled down with a cup of tea at the dining room table when I heard a loud crack. I looked out the window, saw pine boughs falling to the pavement, heard more cracks, and then I jumped up and ran to the other side of the house because I could tell the tree was coming down. What a noise! It ripped out the power lines, caused some significant damage to our neighbor’s home, and shut down the street for hours. We are very lucky no one was hurt, and we had power back by 9:30 p.m. (Actually earlier for us … my husband had the foresight several years ago to buy a backup generator after we lost power for a week at our old house.) This has been the third or fourth tree to come down sort of close to where I’m sitting. Yikes! Think someone’s trying to tell me something?