Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...BABY knitting! 

So this got done... I'm working on the booties now. This hat went like a dream. It's an adaptation of a simple rolled-brim hat. I felt like an I-cord. And this is about 3.5" of I-cord, simply knotted. The decreases went easily, and in the pattern, the crown is flat. I just wanted a little extra zing for this little one coming along. 

The booties are going remarkably swiftly. It's the "Easiest and Fastest Baby Booties Ever!" pattern, on Ravelry. 

Truly, that's the name. The pattern calls for stripes, but I'm doing all orange - I thought I would do something different, so I do have some brown super-wash wool, but this is so stinking easy! There's no need to complicate it. I've already finished one bootie. It actually only took about 4 hours of total knitting. FOUR. HOURS. Period. There are only 35 rows in the entire pattern. 

I may start adding these to my stash. Great idea to get some stashed leftovers taken care of. I'm making the 3 - 6 month size. I don't want to make anything larger because they're actually slippery for little feet to walk in, so I'll stick with the "pre-walking" stage. 

So they're on size 5 needles. Knitted flat. See the rubber bands? I'm using the DPNs I used for the hat, but I didn't want to chase stitches. So I stuck a couple of rubber bands on the ends. Point protectors would also work well, but of course, I don't know where mine are. 

Till I'm done; then every point protector I have will show up!


So here's the Official Potica Plate in action. As you can see, it worked quite nicely. 

Kid #1 is now home. He just had his Christmas. It was "sock-a-palooza" for him. Yes, they were on sale. And yes, he got a lot of them. I also got him a blue Columbia pullover, and he put that right on... We'll be visiting my mother sometime over the weekend. 

Thankfully, I have Monday off, so we'll be doing something special. Not sure what. However, since he says he lives "in the boonies," he did mention he wanted tacos. This could be interesting. 

Midnight Mass was a trial. Well, it was lovely, but it didn't help that my "Silent Night" got even MORE silent. While tuning the guitar, I popped the low E string. Which takes some work. I knew it was going to happen...the strings should've been changed, but I got distracted, and ZING. Just a pain in the rear end. 

The Christmas Proclamation went well. And Tom's brother showed up. Tom, our organist, has been dead for 3 years. It was really tough on Mark. But he's at least back in church. It's a start. It's hard. But he's doing ok. 

This is The Door. Ever since I was a kid, we've hung our cards on the back of the front door. This was foreign to Hubby. And for a while, we just put our cards in a basket. But this year, I went back to The Door. I like it. It looks like Christmas. And since we didn't decorate like we used to do (which means my December Snowman is already stuck in the closet for another year, as is my "Santa's List" cross-stitch...) - well, we decorated the door. 


I was invited to join Instagram. I know - you don't have to be invited. But I did it. I'm still figuring it all out. But this was the first thing I posted. It's using one of their filters, but for the most part - call me a crazy person, but I prefer my pictures the way I take them. 

I think Hubby ought to be on it. He's a REAL photographer, and his pictures are stunning. But he's not much for social media, except for Facebook. 

So I'll just be on there on my own, and see what I can do. I'm trying to promote the yoga studio as much as I can, so perhaps this is a good way to do it. 

I've been talking about having him shoot some pictures of me in various yoga poses (believe me, I'm no "backbend in a bikini" yogini...), but first I'm working on losing the 20 lbs. I've gained. 

Whole 30...

Speaking of which... My brother suggested I try Whole 30. I've bought the book. I'm not jumping in on January 1, though. I haven't read all of it, and I want to see what I'm getting myself into. I've done a Metabolism B kind of program, which was basically a strict sugar detox. 

My problem with THAT program (though I lost 30 lbs.) was that fruit was a no-no. I'm all about balance (being a yogini, that is...) and I couldn't see me not ever eating fruit again. 

I'm sure it'll be blog-fodder when I start, so we'll see.

Random Picture...

The Changing of the Strings. This was Christmas day. Half-way through. I don't play a lot, so I can change my strings only a few times a year. I take the time to clean my guitar and polish it up. 

I use Elixir strings, and I find that they do last a good long time. I also have a metabolic problem with metal. 

I tend to corrode metal. I joke with Hubby that what that means is that I need GOOD jewelry. But what it means is that my skin is acidic. I will corrode most metal (I've taken the finish off more than a few needles in my day), and silver turns black on me in a matter of a few hours. 

The Elixir strings have a nano coating on them and they tend to last a bit longer for me. My guitar teacher changes his strings monthly. And he said, 'daily when I'm recording.' 

I'm not recording. So I take my time and get my wear out of the strings. 

I'll post later when the booties are done; in the meantime, have a happy, safe, and promising New Year. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays... you! (the song, folks...) Bing Crosby. The movie. 

And besides, I've said "Happy Holidays" for about 20 years now. Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, there are at least a dozen different holidays that are actually celebrated? So, there's no "War on Christmas" unless you listen to a certain television/radio station. 

And the kids working the cashier stations in town? Give 'em a break. They're TOLD how to greet you. It's a holiday gig. Show some true holiday spirit...

OK, as I gingerly climb off my soapbox, I do wish you all a great holiday season - celebrate SOMETHING. 2016 has been a rough year for so many, maybe celebrating the fact that we're all still here is enough. 


So, let's go here first... Knitting on Baby Stuff continues. The hat - a super simple rolled brim, is coming along fine. Right now, I'm at about 3 1/2" and I have to be at 5 1/2" before I start the decreases. I may bring it to Christmas, but I don't know how much time I'll have to work on it. Definitely tomorrow, though. I think I can get to the decreases by then. 

You can find the pattern here:  Simple Baby Hat - and it's from my favorite knitting shop in Oxford, MS - Knit1! Of course, it's all on Ravelry as well. 

Once again, old reliable Cascade 220 Superwash - my baby wool of choice. The colors are sophisticated and if you wanted, you could go "traditional" with them if you want. 

When I knit, I do "untraditional" - as untraditional as possible, if I can. Remember the last baby sweater I did, in a "zebra" print? The little monster is already out of it, because he grew like a weed! Which is exceptionally good, given that he was 11 weeks EARLY. 

And then there's the "foofies." That's what our choir calls them. You'll remember, maybe, about 4 years back, I got the zany idea to knit the ruffled scarves that were all the rage - but for the women in our choir. Today being Christmas Eve, and this being our big Midnight Mass, I brought the "foofies" (as they were christened by a soprano) home. The closet where we keep our robes has an area that's apparently lined with cedar. And the scarves stunk. 

Seriously, cedar is amazing for storing your heirloom knitted projects. Keeps the dreaded M***s away (the beasties about which we do not speak). But it does smell. And I didn't think I could go through a Mass with that smell up in my face. 

I took my Woolies, large wool balls, and dropped 12 drops of Young Living Essential Oil, Lavender, on each of 3 of them (I use 6 balls in my dryer). I took the scarves and tossed them in there, set it for half an hour on "delicate fluff" and let 'er rip. 

There are 10 scarves. This is what they look like... And yes, BORING to knit. But if you remember, at some point, anyone with a set of needles was knitting these things or the ribbon-yarn-stuff that made even more outlandish fluffy scarves. 

I'll never do this again. Seriously, the only knitting I will never repeat. I really didn't like doing the project, though I love the way the scarves look. Our robes are "Cubbie blue" and this white + gold scarf is really sharp. We use them at Christmas and Easter. 

They came out of the dryer in a tangle, of course, and in the process of de-tangling, I found this... a snag. I pulled out some white thread, and made kind of a hash of the repair, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't going to run like a stocking. And you really won't see it in all the fluff. 

So they're all back in the bag again, and ready for tonight. There are far fewer of us in the choir, but that's ok. We'll look spiffy and I'm glad we have them. I'm also happy that they took to the dryer so well. They smell lovely - a hint of lavender that makes them feel as if they're just off the needles rather than having sat in a bag in a closet for a year. 

Christmas Eve...

Kid #2 had a great idea. He said, at Thanksgiving, "Let's let the kids do Christmas dinner." OK. Great idea. Execution was a little rocky. The Kid is a huge control freak ( idea where he got THAT) and one of the cousins likes to fly by the seat of his pants. That didn't help. 

I was talking to my mother about 2 weeks ago, and hyperventilating about the whole thing. She said, "Don't you dare bail them out. If we eat Ritz crackers for dinner, they'll have learned about planning."

So yesterday she called me. Hyperventilating about the whole thing. Of course, I said to her, "Don't you dare bail them out. If we eat Ritz crackers for dinner, they'll have learned about planning."

Man, my mother doesn't like her words tossed back at her... 

They consulted with me, and we decided on a quasi-"southern" theme. They asked me to make my "world-famous" pulled pork. Then the brainstorming began. The "southern" thing is nebulous... But here's the menu:

Pulled Pork w/buns
Chicken 'N Spice chicken chunks (my mom's idea and a good one - they're a Joliet institution)
Baked Beans
Homemade pickles
Cole Slaw
Mac & Cheese
Salsa & chips (see???)
Cookies & Potica

Maybe potato salad will show up. Not sure yet. 

At our Christmas party at the office yesterday, I got a lovely gift. It's now the "Official Potica Plate" because amazingly, it looks like it'll fit an entire loaf of potica on it. Isn't that adorable? It's Fitz & Floyd, and at first, I admit I thought, "I have a bazillion Christmas plates." But NONE of them are long. They're all round. This is perfect. 

Kid #1 won't make it out for Christmas. I'm sad about that. I mean, it really hit me hard. I'm a "raise 'em to go out on their own" kind of mother, and I honestly thought I was ok with everything. 

I'm not. He called me last weekend to tell me. I didn't cry. At least while I was on the phone with him. But I was depressed the whole weekend. Like, I wanted to sit in a corner and weep depressed. Didn't want to eat. Didn't want to do anything. Wanted to sit and cry. Even to the point of not wanting to knit, read or do anything else. 

That's a very strange feeling. It's taken me a few days to pull my head out of itself, but I think it's ok now. We'll see. 

Random Picture...

Will show you this then I've got to go practice and knit some on the hat. Also gotta get the pulled pork rolling soon. 

For over 30 years, I've collected the Hallmark "Frosty Friends" series. I've got enough of them to actually cover a couple of large wreaths. Since we don't put up a huge Christmas tree anymore, I can quite easily cover one small tree with these. This is just a smattering - and I must be overwhelmed, because I can still see "tree" greens. I usually cover the tree from top to bottom. There's too much green showing!

Do you have favorite ornament that goes on your tree every year? What is it? Share your favorite and its story...I'd love to read them! 

Happy Holidays to all of you! 

Friday, December 09, 2016

So I'm Sitting Here...

...with 2 dogs (Quinn on the couch, Raisa alongside/behind my knitting chair), the Christmas tree lit up, Star Trek (the original) on the TV and about 3 days' worth of papers to read. 

I normally wouldn't tell you this, but what the heck...Hubby is on a plane to MT. MIL's house sold in what I think is record time for a tiny town just south of Canada! So he's doing a few things, and packing up what's left of his stuff for temporary storage. He'll be back Sunday night. I hope. 

I say that because there's a winter storm watch set for our area from Saturday to Sunday. It's freezing cold and you can feel a storm in the air, if you know what I mean. 

So it's "just us girls" for the weekend. And I'm a bit miffed because it's not a "relaxing" weekend. And also, by this time, I'm usually in my jammies! Hubby takes the girls out for "Last Call" in about an hour and tonight, it's me. I'll survive! 

The Great Cookie Bake...

Snow on the Mountain
It is done... I'm finished for 2016. We do have some filled cookies and date balls that Hubby whipped together. I found a couple of old lists in my little notebook, and the list is much the same, with a few newbies thrown in each year. A favorite cookie was christened "Snow on the Mountain" by the kids. It's a fudgy cookie you can roll in either cinnamon + sugar or in powdered sugar. 

M & M Cookies
Since Kid #2 is doing a "hot" version (with a tiny pinch of chili pepper, since chili pepper and chocolate are a reasonably delicious pairing), he's doing his rolled in plain sugar - so we can differentiate them when we do the cookie platters for Christmas. 

I've already given out a platter to my guitar teacher. He's crazy about the Honey Cookies, or as Hubby refers to them, "the Jewish Cookie." He's correct: it's a Jewish cookie. It's definitely a keeper now... 

Granny's Crescents
The M & M cookies are my sister's. She calls 'em and she -- well, she demands them every year. In a nice, sisterly way, of course! So I bake them. We found a good recipe which makes a thicker, more chewy cookie. I had been using the old "Toll House" kind of recipe, and they always flattened out and got too crispy, no matter what I did. But this one is good. Only thing is, the recipe calls for making them in QUARTER-CUP scoops! Too big. Really. There is such a thing as "too big" for a cookie. 

I save the hardest for last. Well, not hard, but fiddliest. These are Granny's Crescents. You have to chill the dough at LEAST 6 hours, and I like to do mine overnight. So this takes some planning. You divide the dough into smaller balls - a little smaller than a tennis ball, but not as small as a golf ball. Each ball is about 8 cookies. 

I make a double batch, because THESE are my brother's. He gets a bag. A double batch, just in case you're wondering, is about 160 cookies. ONE. HUNDRED. SIXTY. 

So This is Christmas...

Rowan Oak
These are a smattering of the ornaments on my tiny (4') tree. We've had it on the dining room table forever, and that seems to be where it'll stay - at least till we're dogless. And at that point, we may be too old to WANT a larger tree, though it's in the basement. 

Frosty Friends
This one is the first one I bought on my first Faulkner Pilgrimage. It's the front of Rowan Oak (which at first, I thought was "Roanoke" like the town in Virginia). It's his ... well, I guess "plantation" is as good a word as any. It's his home, at any rate. Maybe he'd be peeved by my referring to it as a plantation, and prefer to call it a farm? Don't know. But I like "destination ornaments"  so I got this one for myself. I also have a few from friends: one from Colonial Williamsburg, and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in Indiana, and a few from my bus trip with my mom: Hilton Head and another one. I got Hubby a "France 2013" suitcase keepsake ornament. Where we were, they didn't have ornaments; we took pictures instead. 

Elkies and Snowman
Next up is the Frosty Friends. I've been collecting these for 30 years. We have several of the larger ones which sit next to the tree, and they're animated. Cute, but I think they're a bit noisy!

The heart-shaped one is a hand-painted one with our Elkhounds as the theme. This is done by Amy Bolin, and you should check out her stuff. She does beautiful work and a lot of her items are used as fundraisers for rescues. This one works for me not only because of the Elkhounds, but because there's a snowman on it. I have a collection of snowmen that my kids are going to regret when I'm dead... 

And finally, Hubby helped me "wrap presents" for under the tree. No, not really! I buy toilet paper for the studio and this time of year, I like to wrap it in seasonal tissue paper. I buy a large economy-size package, and I don't like to have unwrapped rolls sitting around in the studio. There's also no storage, so I bring them in by the half-dozen. The students laugh, but it's a nice personal touch. 

I do have a few more spots on the tree - Hubby says I load it down, but I say "that's the point."

One year, for some reason, we didn't put any ornaments on the tree at all. That was odd. Oh, I also have to paint "The Kids' Ornaments." Every year, I do a set of them, and I'm pretty sure that I have pictures in a couple of these posts going back a few years. That's one of my tasks this weekend, if I can get to it. 


Tomorrow is going to be such fun. The dogs will get me up at dawn, because that's when they're used to getting up. Then, at 8 a.m. I have to get a temporary crown. Then, my church friends and I serve lunch at Morningstar Mission. THEN - I go home and hunker down, waiting for the snow. 

Maybe I'll order Chinese for lunch. I rarely eat it, so I should treat myself. 

I have to remind myself to get the TP to the studio! This is a shot just before one of my classes. Not sure, with the weather, if (a) Hubby will get home on Sunday afternoon; and (b) I'll teach Sunday night! Snow forecasts are mixed, but there's also a strong indication that we're far enough south to get "freezing rain." 

Thanks, but I'd rather have snow!


So this happened - I "accidentally" got a signed copy of a book! I was at Centuries and Sleuths, and this author was recommended to me. The book, by the way, is really good! I plucked this off the shelf - it's the author's "stand-alone" book, and the suggestion was that I read this, and if I like it, work on his series. 

Look what I found! A signature! C & S, a small bookstore, has an amazing niche in mysteries and Chicago-area writers. They have a constant stream of authors coming in to do book signings, and occasionally, they "blind sign" books. I happened to get one signed by the author and it was just sitting there on the shelf. 

I'm told by my friend Sue (who's related to the owners) that a signed book that's personalized isn't as valuable as one that's "blind signed." Well, unless it's someone like William Faulkner signing one to John F. Kennedy - but you know what I mean. For those of us who are mere mortals, it's not as precious in the long run. 

However, this is only a paperback, so I'm not sure that it's valuable in any case, unless I keep it in pristine condition - which I usually do. I will be happy to loan you a book. But it had better be returned in the same condition as it was when I gave it to you. Or else. Just sayin'...


Pumpkin sweater
And here it is! Finished! I've already started on the hat - a simple rolled brim beanie. I'm told it's a boy, so that's nice. The color would've worked either way, which is why I stick to these non-traditional rich tones. I like a sophisticated baby. 

Hat started
There's really no easy way to take a picture of a square with for now, this is the best I can do. When I finish the ensemble, I'll stage it better. 

The hat is a simple one - knit in the round for about 6" and then start the decreases. I'm going to add an I-cord, and then tie it in a small knot so that the hat looks like it has a "topper" on it. I think it's going to be cute. 

If I have time, booties are also on the list. I'm going to see if I have some brown worsted weight; I think I'd like to do the bootie cuffs in brown, to match the giraffe buttons. 

Random Picture...

Tippi for President
Which also may be a political statement. The wonderful folks at Lewis University gave me a stunning portrait of Tippi - which I'm going to have framed! And Tippi got a stocking full of toys. And the assistant librarian made me these buttons. As I said to them, "Tippi would be the only SANE candidate." 

She still loves her therapy work, and I'm hoping that we will continue for several more years. 

We had a great visit for Super Study, and now we have a little break. She's snoozing behind me. Which reminds me -- my 8 a.m. dental appointment will come pretty quickly, so I'd better hit the hay. See you soon!