Monday, December 31, 2012

The end of 2012

I had great intentions for the last few weeks of December, 2012 but a cold/virus got the best of me.  The week before Christmas was spent mostly comatose while liquids spewed from my ear, nose & throat.  Eeww!  Thank goodness I woke up on Christmas Eve feeling much better, but that didn't leave much time for all the shopping & baking that I'd planned.   The week since Christmas has been spent frantically cleaning up the messes made during the week before Christmas and knitting a custom ordered afghan.  Anyway, let's just say I haven't accomplished a tenth of what I'd hoped to.

One of the things I'd planned was a big novella blog post about a couple of my favorite purchases of 2012.  Rather than writing a novel about them, I'm blogging Twitter style.  The first purchase was a set of knives.

That's one of the set of eight.  I got them at BJ's, our local wholesale club & the set of eight cost less than $20.  Each knife is a different color and there's six different sizes.  I absolutely LOVE these knives.  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought them.  I think I was simply attracted to the pretty colors.  I didn't need any new knives, although I had been wanting to try out a ceramic blade to see if it really did make a difference cutting lettuce.   I still haven't paid any attention to whether they keep the lettuce from turning brown or not, but who cares!  They cut like a dream.  They are comfortable in my hand.  They are dishwasher safe.  And even if the dishwasher does dull them, who cares.  They cost less than $3 a piece!

That's a close-up of the manufacturer in case you are wondering.  If you ever come across a set of these knives at your local warehouse club, buy them!  I actually prefer them to my expensive Cutco knives!

Did you notice the scratched up cutting board the knife is resting on in the first picture?  My dad made that cutting board for my mom as a wedding gift in 1942.  Mom used it every day for over 65 years.  It's one of my favorite inheritances.

My next favorite purchase of 2012 was another BJ's find.  An enamel lined cast iron pot.  I've been wanting one forever but could not justify spending over $100 for one.  After all, microwaved popcorn tends to be about all I cook these days.  But, there it was, sitting on the shelf at BJ's for a grand price of $39.95.   It was mine!

Of course, I practically needed help lifting it into the shopping cart.  It is heavy.  But it's also a beautiful sunny yellow color, it cooks as well on top of the stove as in the oven, and clean up is a breeze.

See all that splattered stuff on the sides?  You'd have to scrub a normal metal pot pretty hard to get that burnt on potato & corn splatter off, but this pot washes right up with a normal dish cloth & normal pressure.  No actual scrubbing required.  It even came clean with just a regular pot scrubber that time I forgot I was cooking (on high heat of course) and the spaghetti sauce burnt so bad it was crunchy on the bottom.   So again, if you see one of these at your local BJ's, snag it.  You won't be sorry!

Because I'm running so late with this post, I won't bother with a ton of Christmas photos.  If you are really interested, you'll be able to find a few more on Facebook but, we did have snow on Christmas Eve.

Okay, so we only got about 30 minutes of snow & it didn't accumulate.  That snow must have fallen off a tractor & trailer when it stopped at the truck-stop for fuel.  But still - a pile of snow on Christmas Eve!  In Virginia!

Minnie & Max would publicly like to thank Zack for helping them hang their stocking.

The dogs love their Christmas stocking and got super excited when I brought them out of storage.  I swear they remembered them from last year.

Okay, that's all for now.  It's time for me to go get ready for the New Year festivities.

Have a safe & happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Tin Foil Christmas Wreath

So, everyone is making fun of my new, tacky, Dollar Store Christmas wreath.

I love my new wreath.  The moment I saw it in the store, I instantly fell in love with it.  I have no idea why.  It's totally not me.  My Christmas decorating style is much more Williamsburgy.  You know, natural wreaths with natural fruit & nuts on them.  Maybe a small red, tasteful bow.  Natural garland, real candles, bowls with fruit or nuts with a few sprigs of holly tucked in, and a single electric candle in each window.

The new wreath is not traditional nor Williamsburgy.  There is absolutely nothing natural about it.  It looks like it's made out of shiny green tin foil.  It is SO not me, yet I LOVE it!  It also doesn't hurt that it cost $1.00.

But the best thing about my shiny wreath is that the birds hate it even more than my friends & family.  In years past, we'd spend the entire Christmas season listening to the dogs bark at the birds on the wreath.  Birds apparently have Williamsburgy tastes too.  They do not like shiny green tin foil wreaths.  They don't nest in the new wreath.  They don't try to eat the shiny red tin foil berries off of it. They don't even land on it.  And since the birds aren't landing on the wreath, they also are not scratching or pecking at our door.  Even the spider that constantly hangs out on our front door no matter how many times we swat  him away is keeping his distance from this wreath.

I really love my new wreath!

In knitting news, the Infinity Shawl, uh, I mean Starry Night shawl, is now 30 inches long.  I managed to get a whole inch knit yesterday!  I'm on fire!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Starry, Starry Night

Hey, look at this - two blog posts in one month!  I'm on fire!

For the past two weeks, I've been knitting on Starry Night, a lacy scarf or shawl.  It will be shawl size, but it will probably end up being worn as a scarf.   I'm thinking of changing its name to The Infinity Shawl though because it seems to be never ending.  It may be the year infinity before I finish it.

Two weeks of knitting and I'm only at the 29 inch mark.  I have no idea why it's taking so long.  It's an easy pattern and nice yarn to work with.  The yarn is not at all splitty, or so slippery that it falls off the needles accidently, nor does it hug the needle & refuse to move from one to the other.   It feels great in my hand.  It has just, for unknown reasons, become a lifetime project.  Probably because it knows I have other things to finish before Christmas.

Here's a close up in bad lighting.

I love the slight color fluctuations.  And I really love the glitz it gets from the tiny bit of silver thats been spun into the yarn.   The yarn is Night Sky from Swift Fiber Studio which is a great shop on Etsy.  The owner is very friendly so if you are in the need of yarn, stop by.

Here's another close up:

For once, those little fuzzy things that look like dog hair stuck all over the yarn, aren't dog hair.  They are tiny bits of silver that have been spun into the  yarn.  The little bits of silver give the finished product the appearance that you were probably working with silver glitter some time over the last few days.  It's simply gorgeous!

And as a space filler,

Minnie says she's been a good girl.  It wasn't her that got into the trash can.  Really, Santa, it wasn't.

Max says, "Yum, that was tasty.  When's the next meal?"

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Remembrance

Today is Pearl Harbor Day & it always reminds me of my dad.  Dad always got weird on Pearl Harbor Day.  He wasn't there, but he had many friends & family members who were.  Dad's WWII experience was in Europe.  He hit the beaches of Normandy on Day 2.  After surviving that, but made his way across the land & survived The Bulge as well.  At the Bulge, he picked up a bit of German shrapnel which he carried in his leg until his death many, many years later.   Dad was always respectful of D-Day and celebrated in his own way, but on Pearl Harbor Day....

Every year, on Pearl Harbor Day, I'd wake up & come down stairs to find my big, strong, strapping, full of life father sitting in the rocking chair, lost in thought & frequently with a tear running down his face.  He'd remain in that spot all day.   As a small child, it was a bit scary.  A quiet, silent, lost looking father was not normal.  And by the time I was 7 or 8 years old, I knew that it was not a day for loud noises, lots of laughter or for having friends over to play.  It was a day to be respectful.

And so, Pearl Harbor Day has become the day that I'm reminded of my dad, even more than I do on his death day.  So, on this day, I take a moment of silence to honor both my father and all those men & women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

And now, because it's been months since I've posted here (yes, I'm hanging my head in deep shame) let's talk knitting.  A friend asked me to knit a shawl for her.  The pattern was for a cape, but I lengthened it and now it's a collared shawl.

The yarn is Chrystal Palace Mochi Plus in the Blueberry Pancake colorway.   If I'm ever lost on a deserted island, I'm taking a big pile of Mochi with me.  I don't care what weight, it's all heavenly, but as long as I have some Mochi, I can survive.  I absolutely LOVE this yarn!  I may not take Blueberry Pancake though.  Not sure that would be a good thing considering the entire time I was knitting this shawl, I was craving blueberry pancakes.

The lace border detail looks like this:

That's all I'm going to talk about for now.  I'm hoping that by not telling you what I'm currently working on, I won't wait another two months to tell you about it.

While you wait for that next post, I hope you'll check out my Facebook page.  I'm counting down the days until Christmas with gift ideas for your favorite crafter.

See you soon, I hope.