Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Christmas Miracle

This is a Christmas miracle post, otherwise known as the post in which I do not complain.  

Sorry folks.  Even I'm sick of hearing myself whine.  My life could be so much worse and the fact that I lost a hand towel....  Well, all I can say is that I've had the emotions of a hormonal 12 year old girl lately and I'm sorry.  Next time I start to whine, call me on it.  Tell me to buck up and act like an adult.

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/stashbuster-shawl
Holly Berry Stashbuster Shawl

Something that has helped me buck up is the Stashbuster Shawl.  It's four short set up rows then you repeat the fifth row over and over again until you have just enough yarn left to bind off.  The picot edging is knit as the shawl grows rather than having to knit all those little picot things at once on the cast on or off edge.  It's so simple, so quick and so perfect for knitting while watching The Grinch with the family.  

And let's clarify, the 'real' Grinch, not that awful Jim Carrey movie version.  (Sorry Jim Carrey, but you can't improve on perfection and you should never have tried.)

And yes, the shawl will match my Christmas socks because yes, I broke my no new yarn rule once again.  Having a knitting group meeting at the knitting shop is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

And then,


The coolest thing happened.


I stepped out of the shower and could hear all kinds of unusual activity on the train tracks out back.  (Yes, when I say we live on the tracks, I pretty much mean it.)


The CSX train crawled by at the slowest possible pace while a track-hoe with a claw on it rode on top of cars, unloading replacement trestles on each side of the tracks.  


Once the track-hoe-claw machine finished unloading, the train stopped while the track-hoe pulled itself to the end of the train, then it lifted itself down onto a lower bed on the final train car.  And then the train slowly pulled away.

How cool!

I'm SO wishing we were still homeschooling and the kids could have been here to see it because it was definitely one of those weird, fun homeschool learning moments.  

I'm also SO hoping that Mr. CSX guy standing back there at the back of the lower bed of the train didn't happen to look over and catch me standing buck-naked in the window taking pictures of him and his train.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Supper - Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

It may only be December 8th but I'm already thinking about Christmas dinner.  Or more specifically, Christmas dinner desert.  Or even more specifically, Sarah's chocolate peppermint cheesecake.

Christmas cheesecake desert from https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a50775/chocolate-peppermint-cheesecake-recipe/
chocolate peppermint cheesecake from delish.com

For several years now, while I've been busy at work, Sarah has taken over the roll of holiday desert baker and believe me, I'm not complaining!  A few years ago she tried out a new desert recipe and I talked about it here.  Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake.  Oh  my goodness!  That cheesecake was so good that I've dreamed about it many, many times since.  My mouth waters just thinking of it.  Heck, I gain four pounds just thinking of it.  It was SO FREAKING  good! 

Last year she tried to make it again but....  I don't know if she used a different recipe or if she fudged on the ingredients or what but....  Sorry to say, Sarah, it was Not the chocolate peppermint cheesecake we were expecting.  It was good.  I mean, there was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't the FREAKING AWESOME cheesecake of the previous year.

This year, I'm hoping and praying she'll give it another try and use the "real" recipe without skipping or exchanging any of the ingredients because believe me, that original cheesecake was 25 pounds (possibly not an exaggeration!) of pure chocolate and peppermint bliss!

If you're wondering what to bake for Christmas this year, give this cheesecake a try.  I don't think you'll be sorry.  (Unless you try to eat the entire thing by yourself that is.)

Friday, December 6, 2019

Five Days

Not bad!  I knit a cowl, start to finish and got it on the blocking mats in five days.  Doesn't sound all That impressive but considering I knit some other stuff during that time, read a few books and lived my life...

Madeline Tosh yarn in the Sycamore color way
MadiTosh Merino Light

On Sunday, December 1st, I woke up and thought that perhaps I should start on my Christmas gift knitting.  I mean, I'm only a little bit behind schedule.  No need for panic or anything.


I dug out the yarn, found a pattern to try and found a place in this house where I could set up my swift and ball winder.  That was a chore, let me tell you!  In the old house, my desk was an old dining table and the swift and ball winder simply lived clamped to opposite ends of the table.  But the desk/table didn't come with us.  The only place I could find that wasn't fancy furniture and had enough of a lip to clamp to and enough wide open space to accommodate the swift was the kitchen counters.  Yes, counters.  I had to stretch the yarn across the room with the swift on one side and the winder on the opposite, slightly too close to the fridge so that I had to stand at a really awkward angle to crank the handle.  I'm now hoping Santa brings me a table top swift. I've always thought they would take up too much space but....

Eventually I started knitting.

knitting a cowl for a Christmas gift

And I knit some more.

Serenity Cowl or Cashmere Cowl on Ravelry

And yesterday I finished the cowl and even got it on the blocking mats.  As in, actually wet and pinned to the blocking mats.  Not just casually tossed on top of the pile of mats in a futile hope that it would block itself.

The yarn is Madeline Tosh Merino Light (or fingering) in the Sycamore colorway.  I absolutely loved knitting with this yarn.  Besides the yarn being dreamy soft, there was never a dull moment color-wise.    The pattern is, well I'm not sure.  If you search Ravelry, you have to search for Serenity Cowl, but the pattern printout says it's called Cashmere Cowl.  Whatever it's called, it was a fun, fast and easy knit and I will most likely knit it multiple more times.  


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Three on Thursday - Christmas Bucket List

I'm joining Carole for Three on Thursday.  

My new reality is setting in and my Christmas expectations are changing.  And honestly, today might not be the best day for writing this post.  I'm in a bit of a snit.  My favorite, handmade Christmas hand towel only survived being on display for about 36 hours before it was ruined and now I'm acting like a three year old who's had their favorite toy taken away.  I'm way over reacting and I know it.  I'm just super frustrated by it.  

But let me stop whining and talk about good things.  My Christmas bucket list for this year.  Many of our family's traditions will not be able to happen this year but to make up for it, we plan to go all out with the decorations.  Thankfully my husband and daughter are seriously into decorating because it's not really my thing.  I LOVE a well and wildly decorated house, but the actual decorating part of it isn't my thing at all.  

Since we are no longer living in a 'neighborhood' and  are now living on the edge of the Chickahominy swamp...

wild mistletoe, photo compliments of commons.wikimedia.com

Item #1 on my Christmas bucket list is to go out, search for and shoot down wild mistletoe.  It's something I always did with my dad every year and I've missed it.  From the time I was five or so up through my early teens, we'd go out into the woods each December and he'd shoot down mistletoe with, I guess, a BB gun. I know nothing about guns.  It looked like a shot gun but only made a popping noise, not a big bang noise so I'm assuming it was a BB gun.  Anyway, I'm planning to force my husband to do this with me.  He's probably not going to be thrilled with the idea but too bad!  It's the number one item on my wish list for this year and he has an arsenal of guns, many inherited from my dad.  We're going mistletoe hunting!

Winterfest, kingsdominion.com

Item #2 seems a little silly but I want to attend Kings Dominion's Winterfest.  I miss working there, I want to see what's new this year and maybe see an old friend or two.  Plus, I have free tickets and will probably never pay for tickets to go in future years.  Besides, Sarah and I had fun last year.  We'll have fun again this year.  I think I'll skip the ice skating though.  Walking around the park will be much more enjoyable without sore skater's legs.  Perhaps I'll take some knitting in case Sarah wants to skate.  I'd be happy to sit and watch her but I think the ice is definitely off limits for me this year.

The Nutcracker, photo courtesy of ticketmaster.com

Item #3 is to attend the Fathom Events viewing of the Nutcracker.  Believe it or not, I've never seen it in it's entirety and Sarah has always wanted to see it performed on stage.  Tickets for our local ballet run $200 to over $600 and we've never been able to afford to go.  I feel like seeing it on the big movie screen is a somewhat okay compromise.

What about you?  What's on your Christmas bucket list this year?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Unplanned and Forsaken

Nothing is going as planned at the moment.  Absolutely nothing.

Saturday night I spent a few hours organizing, rearranging, and generally moving stuff around in my room until I finally had everything situated so that I didn't have to get up and dig through 1,000 boxes and/or drawers to find my stapler, or a paper clip, the proper size knitting needle, or the next ball of yarn in line to be used.  Life was good and I was going to spend Sunday being productive at my desk and with the camera.

But...

Sunday morning, I woke up to water pouring all over my desk, computer, my to-do list notebook, the file cabinet, two knitting bags and of course, my old fashioned Roladex (because a wet computer wasn't bad enough...)  Somehow, the window frame had sprung a leak and the rain was pouring in. 

So now, everything that was on that side of the room, everything salvageable that is, is in the middle of the room, the stuff in the middle of the room is encroaching on my bed on the other side of the room and I'm just praying I don't break another toe tripping over everything.

triangular shawl knit with Universal Yarn's Colorburst in Horizon
Colorburst shawl

All of that to say, instead of photographing the hats I finished recently, I threw myself a good pity party, cast on a new shawl and spent the afternoon and evening engrossed in a good book and knitting while dumping the leak bucket every few hours.

I am absolutely loving the shawl.  There's no official pattern, just a triangular shaped piece of fabric forming by increasing on each side and in the center every other row.  A very simple shawl, but the yarn... the yarn is So not simple.  It's gorgeous!  The yarn is Universal Yarn's Colorburst  in the Horizon colorway.  I picked it up at my weekly Sit and Stitch meeting this past week.  (Shhh - don't tell anyone.  I broke my 'no yarn in' rule the very first week.  Yikes!)  The shawl is supposed to be a Christmas gift but... I'm not so sure I'll be able to part with it.  But then.... Maybe I can.  Did you follow the yarn link?  Did you see Earth and Sky?  OMG!  That is SO me!  My LYS wasn't offering that colorway.  I just may have to break the rules again.



The book I had my nose stuck in (Can you have your nose stuck in a book if you're reading on a Kindle?) was Forsaken by J. D. Barker.  Even if I hadn't been throwing myself a pity party and hiding out in my room, I'd have had a hard time putting this one down.  I loved that Stephen King allowed Mr. Barker to borrow a character and a location from one of his own books.  

The whole time I was reading Forsaken, I was wondering if Barker was a pseudonym of Mr. King's.  The writing style wasn't King's but the topic sure was and the familiar location....  Turns out, Mr. King read an early draft and liked the story enough to share according to Google.  Anyway, I loved the book and was quite surprised by the ending.  I did not see that coming!

And now, it's raining again.  I have to go dump my bucket.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday Supper - Lentil Soup

We're welcoming December's cold with some warm, hearty soup.  

https://frenchwomendontgetfat.com/recipe/lentil-soup/
Lentil Soup from frenchwomendon'tgetfat.com
We're going to give this lentil soup recipe a try.  I hope I can talk my family into trying it.  Lentils are supposed to be so good for you and the only way I've ever cooked them is in an Indian dish that was way too 'curry-ish'  for the rest of the family.  This recipe seems much more bland for those who don't like steam to come out of their ears while they eat.

And,  I love the creator of this recipe, French Women Don't Get Fat.  I'm taking their word that I can eat this soup and magically become skinny.   :)

What are you having for tonight's Sunday supper?