Friday, December 30, 2011

post-Christmas caffeine rush

Paul delighted me with a fancy Nespresso machine for Christmas. It's very quick and easy, and the espresso is fantastic! I have some lingering qualms about the wastefulness and expense of the little Nespresso capsules, but overall it's terrific and fun to use. The Nespresso booklets and website, however, are pretentious to the point that it's amusing (capsules can be couriered to you posthaste in case of a dire espresso shortage!). I have a feeling that T-Mos would love using this gizmo just before reciting lines from the Inferno in Italian.
I've sweet-talked the girls in my knitting group into a knit-along for the new year:
Aidez, a free pattern by Cirilia Rose for Berroco

I rustled through my stash and rounded up some Cascade Eco Plus in a lovely shade of light blue:
#9452 Summer Sky Heather
I've been on a reading kick lately, and my goal for this long weekend is to spend some more quality time with a good book (or four), sip espresso, and do some knitting. 

Some recent recommendations:
 Chosen by a Horse, by Susan Richards 
I'm not usually one for nonfiction or "feel good" memoirs, but this book really spoke to me. Richards writes about adopting a neglected horse and how it helped her reconsider her own life and dare to trust and take risks. Rescuing horses is one of my dreams for "when my ship comes in," and I'm one of those who got hooked on horses after a childhood spent immersed in Misty of Chincoteague.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Fey is funny, warm, and genuine in this book about her path from Pennsylvania to 30 Rock. It's a book that seems very real -- not like something cooked up by a ghostwriter to cash in. Some parts are humorous, others talk candidly about being a woman, both in comedy and in society in general.

What I'm reading now:

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
So far it's charming, but wow, does Meloy love adjectives... this runs the risk of being overly precious, so we'll see how it goes...
Back with crafty photos soon, I hope. Camera research is underway, though I may have to break down and start using Paul's tablet gizmo's camera feature in the meantime.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

so drink your gin and tonica...

It's time for Hannukah, Festivus, and all the other wintry holiday celebrations. Ah, the immortal words of Adam Sandler.

The tree is trimmed, the cards are (mostly) written, and cookies have been baked. Sadly, my digital camera just bit the dust so I have no tree or knitting photos to share. Time to start researching cameras!

We're hosting a second holiday family gathering at our place on the 26th. I'm going with a mostly Scandinavian theme -- gløgg, pickled herring, gjetost, Norwegian and Swedish baked goods. I couldn't bring myself to make lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) though -- so gelatinous and disgusting. Now we just need some snow!
Looking for some holiday music that's not run of the mill? We've now exhausted our steady rotation of Low, Vince Guaraldi, and Sarah McLachlan.

Check out all the mixes over at I Am Fuel, You are Friends, or listen to my wintry mix:


No, this is not Capricha! A feline visitor bunked with us last week while her owner was away. Lewes is essentially Capricha's (thinner, longer-tailed) doppelgänger. Lewes occupied the front half of our flat, while Capricha stuck to the back -- they seemed surprisingly oblivious about each other's presence. (P.S. This is the last photo from my poor camera...)
 Last December Paul introduced me to one of his childhood holiday favorites, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. It's pretty much the sweetest, funniest holiday special. The muppets are adorable and kind of primitive, the story is a thoughtful take on "The Gift of the Magi," and there's a lot of great (and hilarious) music.  Apparently we're not alone in loving Emmet Otter! Here are some recent shout-outs from the folks at NPR and the Onion.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

in which I exhibit some wisdom

So, I resolved to be smart about unventing the scallop-edge garter stitch throw. Not only did I check my gauge, but I also did some math and took a long, careful look at the fabric I was getting with the lovely Quince & Co. Puffin yarn. And then I carefully wound up the yarn and shoved it back in my knitting basket. :( This was, however, a good learning experience:

a) I would have run out of yarn.
b) The fabric didn't have enough drape.
c) It was very, very heavy on the needles.

Some of the puffin yarn is destined to become a State Street Cowl (thanks, ifandany, for highlighting the pattern the other day!).
To make up for NOT knitting myself that cozy (but sure to be ill-fated) throw, I instead started crocheting like a madwoman. This is the easy-peasy diagonal box stitch, worked corner-to-corner, which I love, since one avoids making a foundation chain. (Mine are often too tight.) I'm using a very affordable superwash wool -- Knit Picks Bare Swish Worsted. Very soft and cozy, and the undyed version comes in nice long 220-yard skeins.
in the kitchen

I hosted a low-key crafty afternoon for the girls from my knitting group this afternoon. Such a great, relaxing way to start off the holiday season! I tried not to go too overboard with the menu this time, but I did make a few things:
- brie en croute with brown sugar, bourbon, and pecans (holy smokes, this was awesome)
- my family's recipe for Norwegian cookies 
- easy mulled wine (next time I'd fortify it with Cointreau or maybe brandy)
- "the best" pumpkin bread (pretty good, but not as terrific as my mom's recipe, which I need to track down)

Monday, December 05, 2011

sofa city, sweetheart

I managed to catch a nasty cold while spending far too much time at doctor's offices last week. Blech! The upside? Lots of knitting/tv time, plus Paul tended to many of my (increasingly crazy) whims. As much as I am a homebody, too much time spent housebound makes me nuts. Paul does make a pretty terrific hot toddy (a family cold remedy on my mum's side).
Good thing that True Blood has strong healing properties. So trashy, but so addictive...

I knit two of these cozy Armando hats -- red for me, charcoal grey for Paul. I love the texture! The pattern is easy to follow. I knit 7.5 repeats of the "lace" pattern (manliest lace I've ever seen, btw, but it does feature yarnovers and thus does technically qualify, I suppose).  Using smaller needles (US 7)  was a good choice. I'll definitely knit more of these, especially since the holidays are just around the corner.
The Oatmeal Pullover has been frogged, and these lovely balls of Puffin are ready for me to unvent the Pottery Barn scallop-knit throw.
Capricha is taking over Kylie's old job as clean-laundry tester. So cute, but I'll have to rewash that towel...

- knitting behind bars
- a bookshelf that's bigger on the inside