Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sorry - I Got Busy...

Last Full Moon of 2013
Oy. Here's a lovely picture of the last full moon of 2013. And I have to tell you - It's screwing me up, big time!!

Monday, my yoga studio owner calls; she's had the stomach flu. I missed her first call, and she had to cancel a class. Then she called again: the gal who does the 5:30 p.m. class was stuck on Rt. 55. And not moving. So, at 5 p.m., I whipped over to the studio to put a sign on the door (I'm truly about 6 minutes from the place).

Tuesday, we had The Great Potica Bake (more on that later). 

Wednesday, I did the 9 a.m. class; then the 7 p.m. class at the studio because of said stomach flu. Wednesday night, I got an emergency text from my teacher/owner. The gal who was supposed to teach Thursday 9 a.m. fell. And broke her wrist.

I'm tellin' ya --- it's just a mess. 

This is a shot after my Wednesday night class, out the back yard. Yep, with the cell phone camera. But it's still a decent shot. I saw it this morning, with Venus, I think, or maybe Saturn? But I'm not sure the picture will turn out. 

I had several articles from the Chicago Tribune to blog about, but you know what? I'm just not going to do that. I think it's time for just some chit-chat. 

The Great Potica Bake...

Long loaf
Kid #1 asked if he could come and do potica (po-TEETZ-ah) - a very old family recipe. Known only if you marry into or are born into the family. I'm dead serious. Those of us in The Potica Maker's Guild guard our recipes zealously and we don't share significant details unless you're our kid or our spouse. And Heaven help you if you marry a member of The Guild - because everyone believes (in all truth) that their potica is the best. I know mine is. The best. Ever. 

So, I know things are serious with The Girlfriend because she came along. We let her grease pans and work with some of the minor ingredients. 

Hey - you gotta earn your privilege to roll the dough. 

I put Kid #1 in charge of filling. We were only going to make one batch, which makes about 3 loaves. He talked me into a double batch. And then made enough filling for FOUR batches. That works out to 12 loaves. Each loaf weighs anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5 lbs. 

We started at 10 a.m. and I took the last loaves out of the pans to the cooling racks at 7:30 p.m. In the meantime, I feel like a truck has run me over. The best rolling pin on the planet (except for my dad's solid oak one with ball bearings that my mom won't part with - just sayin') is my marble one. But it weighs about 12 or 14 lbs. It's a big rolling pin. 

After slinging that around for ages, you get sore. Top that off with the cast iron pans and you get some muscles -- or rather, you FIND muscles that you might not have used in a while. 

Cast Iron Pans
When I was a kid, my dad used to make these to sell for extra income. I started greasing pans. Moved up to grinding spices. Then moved up to making the filling. Eventually, I got to help him load the loaves into the pans, and now I bake them on my own, since he's been gone over 20 years. We started this process before Thanksgiving and continued to nearly Christmas time. We now bake them for only Christmas and Easter, because it's so much work! 

So, we have The Potica Cloth. It's this ragged damask tablecloth that I remember from my childhood. It's square, and worn to threads. I've darned it several times. This year, after over 50 years - closer, probably, to 75 or 80 years, maybe - it's time to put it to rest. My mom said to toss it out. I don't know that I can do that... I have framed my dad's hand-written recipe. Which, by the way, is 1 page long, and the actual directions are 2 or 3 pages, if you write out every step! I love the ingredient list: Flour... That's helpful. "Add as needed." Also helpful. That's why the tradition is that you pass the skill along by doing. 

I have to suss out a 100% cotton damask cloth. And then I have to wash the living daylights out of it to remove all the sizing and get it soft. Wish me luck. It's Potica Cloth II - kind of how you name a Pope.

Above is a picture of one of the long loaves, using my granny's loaf pans. She left me 5 of them, and I have to find a few more. I like the look of the longer loaves. We also did about 6 in cast iron loaf pans. They bake up ok, but the dough is really, really fussy. This time, the long aluminum pans worked better.

So in the midst of the greasing, The Girlfriend says, "Ewwwwww - I've never touched Crisco." Well, that's what we grease with. She was, jokingly, whining about how icky it was and how she didn't like it and then said, "Do I get to stop if I keep whining?" Well, before I could open my mouth, Kid #1 says, "Do you KNOW how many pans she'll make you grease? She raised boys. Just suck it up and grease the pans." 

Yay - I raised him right!! She just laughed. She's the youngest of several sisters; so it's vastly different in this house of boys. 

Charity Afghan
The Elkhound Afghan...

Finally, that project is done, blocked, and photographed. Hubby took the picture and I just e-mailed our group. 

We haven't decided what to do with it. Well, we're definitely raffling it off, but we're not sure whether it'll be a spring one, whether we want the funds to go to a specific thing: like perhaps to help senior elkhounds with their medical needs - the ones in fosters awaiting forever homes. 

The squares are done in several crafts: knitting, crochet, and Tunisian crochet. I wove the ends together and used ivory yarn as "filler." We wanted 12x12 squares, but the measurements were somewhat creative. The edging is 3 rows of crochet, with the last being a small scallop. 

It looks a bit small in this picture, but it's nearly 6' long and at least twin-sized bed wide. It's all out of Jiffy, a blend of wool and acrylic, so it's washable and fluffy. Of course, the colors are those of an elkhound, and yeah, the girls were interested in it so even though it's been fluffed in my dryer, my elkhounds have left a bit of their own fur in the weaving. 

I'll keep you posted as to what happens with it. 

The February Lady Sweater...

Just starting
Well, I cast on for the sweater. And I frogged swatches twice. But I'm now going along nicely, but I changed up the buttonhole because I didn't like it. Other than that, I think I'll keep it in the pattern style. It's a swingy sweater with bell sleeves, but they're about 3/4 length. It'll be nice in the spring and summer. 

Today, after the 9 a.m. yoga class, I got to sit and knit a bit, and tonight I'll do the same, because FINALLY there are decent Christmas movies on!! I wish I didn't have to get up at dark:thirty for the dogs, because one of my favorite movies is on in the wee hours. 

Must remember! Note to self: You're working from the top down, so don't forget to measure and not just whiz on by the placement of buttonholes! I haven't gotten buttons yet, but they'll come. I looked yesterday in Betsy's but I didn't find anything I liked. I may go a little flashy on the buttons since this is a solid color yarn. If it was a hand-painted or variegated, I'd go wood or simple metal. But this needs a little spice, and the lilac (a/k/a "geranium") will be hard to match. 

I'm starting to see the shaping here. There are M1 increases at 4 points, with a K1 in between each pair of M1 stitches. I'm excited to see how this works out because I'm loving the feel of this yarn. I haven't looked at what it cost yet; I'm afraid it would scare me! If I have enough left, I'm sure there's a pair of mitts in my future in the lace pattern to match, or maybe a hat. 

Are you loving those adorable sheep stitch markers?? The pattern called for 6, but there are 4 increases... so that's actually 8. But there are only 6 sheep per pack. 

Yoke-down construction
Last-Minute Shopping...

After the yoga class, I stopped at the local Menard's. I picked up some nice gift bags and just about every "food bag" they had. I needed treat bags for the Christmas Baking. And the gift bags were on sale. I love gift bags. For those of us who wrap gifts like a 2-year old on a sugar high, gift bags are certainly the way to go. 

I also picked up some "critter food." The critters are stalking our bird feeders, so I figured it was easier to feed them in another part of the yard. I'll toss that out in the yard in a bit. It's getting toward dusk and that's when they like to eat. We'll see what we get.

So far, we've missed the "snizzle" and we're supposed to get lots of snow, through Christmas. I'm hoping for a white Christmas. 

Random Picture...

Just a cute shot of the critter-prints on my deck. Squirrel, I think. 

I just went out to put the seed on both the deck rail and in the front yard. Not sure if we'll get deer. We have done in the past. But likely, we'll stick with rabbits and squirrels.

Dinner for tonight: I'm having Butternut Squash Soup. Kid #2 is having Creamy Potato Soup. Both are homemade and I'm getting them out of the freezer and into bowls! We like to make soup in big batches. Kid #2 got pretzel buns to eat with the soup. 

As soon as Kid #2 gets home, he'll take the girls out and then I'll feed them. After dinner (ours AND theirs), we'll settle in for the Christmas movies. 

I bet the dogs will be excited if we've already had critters visit, because they will certainly smell them!

The local PD issued a weather alert - so it looks like we may miss the snow, but we will certainly get rain and ice. Lovely. I'm staying inside tomorrow. I almost got T-boned last night on the way in to yoga, because of the full moon and/or a nut-job who couldn't see my truck. Through his windshield as he pulled out from a driveway at about 30 mph. 

I'm just tellin ya - that full moon will bite you every time. 


As always, I encourage comments! And feel free to share my blog with your friends. 

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