Thursday, 18 December 2014

The unexpected and unplanned

Today was one of those days where things don't really go as you planned and it just tosses off the mojo of the whole day. I was planning to get a bit of work done from home and then kicking off the start of my holiday break in a fabulously lazy style. But the morning started when I woke up with a swollen eye thanks to a painful stye.  Then came a knock on the door and the announcement that the apartment was replacing all the windows in my unit. Starting right now.

I grabbed Rufus, stuck his leash on him, bundled up, and headed out into the freezing weather, not really knowing what to expect on how long this whole mess would take and kind of frustrated that a kink had already been thrown into that whole idea of a relaxing start to my holiday. (On a related note, I don't really welcome passive aggressive comments about the state of cleanliness of my apartment from workers who show up unannounced at my door at 9:30am.)

Rufus enjoyed chasing sticks and rogue non-hibernating squirrels in the park for a bit before the freezing of my face could no longer be ignored and we sought shelter in the car. It was a very unproductive morning/early afternoon for me, but I'm sure the window installation crew feels differently. 

The day's start put me in a weird funk and I couldn't get back into the rhythm of things... even if it was just supposed to be the rhythm of vegging out on the sofa for a bit. But I did manage to get one thing accomplished today. I cast off and put on my December pair of socks for Liesl's sock challenge.

They are just plain old vanilla socks, knit cuff-down in a skein of Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes that I picked up at this year's Knitter's Frolic. One of the best things about this yarn (besides great color combinations in pretty stripey colorways) is that it comes wound in two mini skeins so you can match the stripes on both socks - genius. Especially because with other self-stripping yarns, I am routinely too lazy to find the repeating color pattern and make sure my socks match as a proper sock should. So don't tell my other poor stripey socks this is what they should look like if I were a diligent knitter - just let them believe they are unique (because they are!).

I've already cast on another pair of socks, too. I loved this pair over at Woollen Wilderness so very much that I can't resist making a pair (or 5) for myself. 

Now to sleep, press reset, and try a less unexpected start to my break again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A few of my favorite things: Baking

Christmastime is one of my favorite times of the year, so I wanted to spend some time in these few remaining days before Christmas day arrives to share some of things I enjoy most about this time of the year. 

One of the easiest ways to get me in a cheery mood is through my stomach, so we're starting with yummy, delicious sweets, my precious. The holidays provide an excellent excuse for baking up a storm and then devouring it all with little guilt (until New Year's arrives and reminds us just how naughty we have been). 

Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorite things to bake during the holidays because (for reasons completely unknown to me) these treats aren't really around any other time of the year. And it's a crime because gingerbread is so delicious. And because they use molasses, something I never use in my other baking/cooking, they make me feel old-timey and very traditional, which I love about Christmas. I am always searching for great gingerbread cookie recipes. This year I tried one that produces chewier cookies, which was quite yummy, but I think it needed a bit more spices added to it. 

When I'm not in the mood to chill and roll out dough, I go with these amazing ginger cookies. They are some of the most delicious ginger cookies I've ever had. I make them for gifts or bring them to the lab during the holidays and everyone raves about them.

I also love gingerbread with a warm, sticky toffee sauce. (I really like gingerbread, okay? It's delicious, and I stuff my face with it as much as possible during the holidays.) This cake is one of those treats that is so delicious warm because the toffee sauce gets absorbed by the cake making a wonderfully sticky topping. It is just so comforting on cold nights. 

When I'm not consuming large amounts of gingerbread, one of my other holiday favorites (and something else you can only seem to pull off during this time of the year) is peppermint ice cream. I use this recipe, which starts off with an amazingly delicious custard. If you don't end up eating the custard right out of the sauce pan, it makes an excellent ice cream that never lasts long in my house.

I also really love making gigantic batches of peppermint bark. It's easy to make and is a great gift (who doesn't love chocolate and peppermint?). 

I'm always looking for new recipes to try out during the holidays (I think this year I'm going to try some of these), so what are your favorite things to bake this time of year?

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Courtyard beanie

Yarn: Cascade 220 in Charcoal and Turquoise
Pattern: Courtyard by Melissa Thompson

Sometimes I get so caught up in my bigger projects that I forget how satisfying and fun a quick knit can be. And how smaller projects are great for using up those partial skeins of yarn I insist upon hoarding. This hat is the epitome of a quick, satisfying knit. I started it Saturday night and finished it just before bed on Sunday (even though it meant pushing back bedtime an hour or so just because I wanted to wear the hat the next day). 

When browsing patterns for hats on Ravelry, I started noticing a new (to me) trend in design: beautiful stitches traveling across a striped reverse stockinette background. And I loved it immediately. It is quite eye-catching and the result looks more complex than the pattern actually is. (Here are some of my other favorite hats with this design that I came across: Thermisto and Neon). 

I ended up with Courtyard because I had worsted weight yarn I wanted to use up and I liked the shape. And it was great fun to knit (it would make a great last minute Christmas gift, if you don't end up keeping it for yourself). My only modification to the pattern was to stick a pom pom on top, because it seemed like it needed one. And I've really wanted a pom pom hat for a while now, because I'm sort of a dork like that (I used this video tutorial for making the pompom).

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Snow, snow, snow

When I woke up this morning, I peeked out the window, and this song immediately popped into my head. We had just a wee bit (sarcasm abounds) of snow overnight.

And it's just kept on snowing and snowing all day long.

So I took off from work early and headed to the market to pick up fixins for shepherd's pie (those shepherds knew what was what because this stuff is perfect for snowy days) and gluhwein. I think it's time to turn on White Christmas, snuggle with the fur baby, and settle in for the weekend (just a wee bit early, but what are massive amounts of snow for?).

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Crew in progress

I've resigned myself to the fact that although my Perianth cardigan "fits," it doesn't really fit me. And by that I mean that I can get it without any problems, but it will never ever button comfortably. And that's fine, too, just wearing it as an open-front cardigan. But there's part of my brain that is hung up on the fact that it is wrong. That, on top of the fact that I kind of hate making sleeves, has stalled Perianth for now. I plan on making another one for myself and gifting this one to my sister who (if you can believe it) is even tinier than I am. 

In the mean time, I'm using the left over MadTosh from Perianth to work on a different project and get some of my mojo back. I cast on Crew last weekend and have been working up the stripey front. Because I'm using fingering weight yarn, I went up one size on the pattern to compensate. The purple and white stripes will be complimented by a charcoal grey back with some more MadTosh I bought on sale for Black Friday. 

As far as reading goes, very little has been done recently because of travel and holiday business. I'm still making my way through Going Bovine by Libba Bray and I'm liking it. Hopefully once things get less busy and I'm on holiday break, I'll have more time to dedicate to some fun-time reading.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Monday, 8 December 2014

November socks

Project: November socks
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Blue Box Fever
Pattern: Zigzagular Socks

The November socks are finished! (Check out all the socks completed for Liesl's challenge here.) I got them off the needles while on my way home from San Diego (technically it was December already, but at least I started them in November). These socks had a false start early in November when they were coming out way way too big, even though I was using my usual needles and stitch count. So I started over, went down a size, and they are snug and fabulous. I may stick with this smaller size from now on because I'm liking the fit so much on these. 

The yarn is so psychedelic Socks that Rock that Andy gifted me for my birthday, so it felt appropriate that my November socks would be birthday socks, too. He said he picked the color because it was bright and something I didn't already have. That kid knows my tastes pretty well. Plus, I think the name of the socks refers to the Tardis (at least that's the only blue box I know about), which only makes me like the socks even more.

This is my first time working the zigzagular socks. I'm not usually a giant fan of twisted stitches (they throw off my knitting mojo). Something is just wrong with them, twisted. But I had fun making these socks and I love how they turned out. It is a great pattern for busy variegated yarn. Plus, it's simple enough to work up quickly, but the cabled twisted stitches keeps your brain happy.

On to December! 

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