Previous month:
December 2020

You know what else is random?

My Christmas tree is still up and there's been little movement (or mojo) to make it otherwise. This is by far a record. But we are loving the light!

I snapped a few photos before turning off the lights the other night... it's nothing but a tree of memories, really.

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I know I've shown it before, but that pink-striped ornament was my maternal grandma's. You can see wee Ginny & Junah in the shadows! There's the tail-end of a couple of hand-carved fish that my Uncle Jim made. One of two or three bunches of grapes that my mom had.

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Hanging nearby, my addition to our 2020 tree. I'm sure Grandma would not approve, but "Peanut" seems amused. My sister Karen punched designs into the metal ends of frozen juice containers to make ornaments, some of which doubled as gift tags (name & date on the other side)... you can maybe spot a blurry star.

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I kick myself every year for my mistake in buying only one of these amazing antique ornaments instead of all three! The blue orb is likely one from my parents' first Christmas tree. You can just see Santa's head peeking in at the bottom -- one of three cross-stitched, jointed ornaments that I made for the girls.

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I have a few pewter ornaments -- most of them were my mom's, and maybe this one was, too. I don't remember. We've been watching VIKINGS on TV, though, so there's current meaning, anyway.

There's been talk of removing some/most/all of the Christmas ornaments to make a "Valentine" tree. Again, no movement or mojo!

 


Weekending: Lots more random stuff!

Just because I haven't mentioned football much (at all?) this year doesn't mean I haven't been watching. We have, of course!! And our Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl hopes were dashed in yesterday's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Boo.

Well, at least the sun is shining today!

I had some new plants delivered on Friday! I started a new plant subscription with Horti and will have a plant delivered every month until I decide not to. (I actually heard about them first on the AARP* website.) Plants can be purchased individually, in sets, or by subscription, along with related items. Mine came with a cute painted clay pot & saucer, soil, and care directions. I can also specify/choose plants for low light, that are hard to kill or are pet-friendly, or let Horti pick.

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Friday was one of the coldest days we've had so far this year, and my Crispy Wave Fern was packed so snug & secure, it did just fine even though no one was there to take it in right away. The tips of maybe two leaves are wilted, but honestly, I really had to look. There are healthy new shoots, and it'll be fun to watch them unfurl. Some of these plants will eventually go into the Airbnb. I have long-term guests there through next month, though, so not yet!

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I also ordered a Marimo Kit -- the small one, but those Marimo are BIG! I will definitely order more -- and get a bigger home for them! They're so cool. They are natural "seaweed balls" that are found in freshwater lakes in Japan, Scotland, Iceland, Estonia, and parts of Australia. I love that I have a connection to a couple of those places.

If you're interested, use my referral link for 10% off your first order (and I'll earn some coin/points, too). 

On Saturday, we ran around and looked at some real estate for sale... because. It's a long story and who knows what, if anything, will happen... just know that I love looking at real estate listings (once thought I might become a REALTOR®)! The only thing new is that I'm doing it with a bit more intention and interest than usual... and even hopping in the car to do a drive-by.

Then I did some of that dreaded bookwork that I need to get done SOON... and I will, as soon as I figure out how to scale the brick wall that I've run up against.

Ali usually spends Sunday mornings at the coffee shop working on special projects. They've been closed on Sundays for months -- and even on Mondays for a while. The current project is Valentines... or anti-Valentines...

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Cooookies

Haha.

I finished weaving in all the ends on my MDK House square and need to figure out how to proceed to make it a pillow.

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Meanwhile, I started mending another elbow. This time, I picked up stitches and knit a patch that I will then sew down. I realized that I could have made some increases so the patch would match the overall sleeve a little better, but... naaaahhhhhhh.

*Even though Kate says that I can't just choose when I want to be a senior citizen... sometimes I do**! Her tongue-in-cheek comment made one day when I pondered whether to use the reserved parking spot at the store (it was cold). In reality, I almost always park quite far from the door -- it's more important to be closer to a cart return!

**I was very excited the first time I could buy a senior ticket at the movies... I'd gladly pay full price & more right now to safely & comfortably sit in a crowded movie theater again! It came up in my memories yesterday that we'd purchased tickets a few years ago for the Best Picture Festival at our local theater, and it made me sad. Will the Oscars even happen?? (They're planning on it... Sunday, April 25th (Maddy's 30th birthday!))

 


Random: Just for fun

The Bernie memes!

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I had to make a couple of my own! The top photo was taken on the North Shore in November, and I shared it on FB/IG on Wednesday (without Bern) for our anniversary... and then BERNIE happened. I just had to! I also immediately thought of the kids with their chairs in the water when we were in Door County last summer. SO FUN.

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I know that some of you follow Maddy on Instagram and/or were big fans of her Madventures blog back in the day (about four years ago, haha). Well, now she's on a new tack and has started writing a newsletter instead (one, so far) -- if you're interested, click this link to subscribe: The Chook Wife.

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I dunno... intarsia is OK but maybe just not these houses. I enjoyed knitting the Safe At Home houses more. And what I keep thinking about, so must really want to knit from this collection, is the Watercolor Cowl!

Warning: The following photo may cause stress and anxiety.

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I have a few more ends to weave in that I should because I sort of forgot about splicing half-way through (I blame Covid).

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I made it about half-way. The rest tonight!

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Much better.

Have a great weekend!!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Darn it!

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & mending!

KNITTING:

Can you believe it? There's not a gnome in sight...

Just a quick pic of my current knitting:

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It's a bit of a mess and I'm not in love with the color of the house @ top left, but I'm carrying on. I was knitting this pre-Covid and made some modifications of my own -- including color choices, knitting each house's sky in a different color, and adding a narrow border between each row of houses -- and ended up with two charts with scrawled, crossed-out, and scrawled again numbers... so this is a bit of a mash up! It'll be fine.

DID YOU SAY "DARN IT"?

Today's main event: my first attempts with the Katrinkles Darning Loom!

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I did not take any video, but Sarah has posted a couple demonstration videos on YouTube, if you're interested: Part 1 and Part 2.

I have an old slubby cotton cardigan from J.Jill that I wear at home -- it makes up part of my "loungewear" ensemble, along with a night shirt/gown, a pair of cropped pants, socks, slippers, and sometimes a shawl. It used to be in regular daytime rotation, but it would get stretched out and not bounce back (even with heavily ribbed sleeves because... cotton), the big buttons would get caught in the cart at the grocery store and some of the buttonholes are enlarged and it doesn't always stay buttoned, and then I wore a hole in the left elbow. Somehow, it works just fine at home, though, even with flaws.

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Hole at left sleeve elbow.

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Katrinkles Darning Loom Kit (included, but not shown: soft elastic loop for securing, darning needle, and instructions)

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I slipped the circular part inside the sleeve and positioned it so that the hole was pretty centered. The "heddle" part is put into place and it's all secured with a soft elastic band.

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Then you warp your little loom! The yarn is anchored at the heddle end, brought between a set of heddle teeth and gently pulled to cover the hole, caught in the "good" fabric just beyond the hole, and brought back up to the heddle... wrap, catch & repeat as needed!

Because this was a pretty big hole, I used a double strand of leftover sock yarn for my patch. After the warp is done, you just catch the yarn in the fabric and begin to weave. It was a last-minute decision on my part to double the yarn, so I ran out and had to cut a new length part-way through. (What's another end to weave in?)

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I started weaving from the bottom up, and removed the heddle when I got close. The "live" ends are woven & tacked down, and I did extra stitching and/or weaving wherever needed, using the "eyeball" method. Heh. And here's my first finished patch, front & back. Not too bad!

Admiring my work in the mirror, I noticed that there was a pretty bare spot on the right elbow -- not a hole, but almost, so I decided to fix that right away using a single strand of the same sock yarn.

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This time, I began by sewing running stitch along the sides & bottom of the area I wanted to patch to define the edges -- mostly an effort to keep the edges more straight & consistent. It worked okay... it's a little better. I definitely need more practice! I'm sure that using coordinating rather than contrasting yarn would make any wonkiness less visible!

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The back-side of the second patch.

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Here are both patches (and the cute unicorn scissors that was also part of Kate's gift). I love them!

I have another hole to patch in the other elbow of another favorite J.Jill sweater -- it's smaller than the first one that I patched a few years ago, but too big for the Katrinkles loom. Darn. I really like that sweater for springtime, though, so I'll probably do that soon and use the ham again.

IN OTHER NEWS:

OH HAPPY DAY!! We get to officially welcome our new President and Vice President today!!

And... it's our 36th Wedding Anniversary!

 


Mixin' it up

I was in Rio de Janeiro eight years ago! Ann & I tried to attend a Cook In Rio class the entire time I was there; thwarted at every turn, for one reason or another, until finally (miraculously), it all came together on the last day before my departure and we made moqueca!

Last weekend, we did a Zoom class with the New Orleans School of Cooking, which was extra fun because we actually visited New Orleans together -- both for the first time -- almost four years ago. She & Brian visited since then and did an in-person class at NOSC, and loved it.

You really do learn a lot about a place -- it's people, history, cultural influences -- when you take a cooking class! (Even if it's virtual.)

Well, this weekend it was a virtual trip (for me) to Lima, when Ann & I got together on Saturday with our instructor, Franco, to make the national cocktail of Peru (& Chile - different recipe) -- PISCO SOUR!

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Kate helped me test my Zoom settings from across the room beforehand, so the technology wasn't an issue this time (though I wish the volume would go a little higher on the laptop)!

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Ann received her lovely box via courier earlier in the day. It had everything but ice cubes! The pisco, simple syrup, a cocktail shaker, shot glass, limes, and serving glass -- all very festive looking!

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Her pisco.

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My pisco. (My options were very limited!)

We forgot to discuss the differences in the types of pisco with Franco, but I think it has to do with type of grape and variables in the distilling.

Anyway, the Pisco Sour was very good, and we learned some tricks for mixing & serving. (Franco has won a few awards for his Pisco Sour!) I love a lime-y drink (I will never get scurvy), so this was right up my alley... and definitely similarities with Brazil's national cocktail, the caiprinha!

We've mixed a couple other pisco recipes since then -- Andean Sidecar, above, and Count Pisco, a negroni but with pisco instead of gin!

These classes were my birthday present from Ann, and now hers is coming up this Saturday! It took over 2 months for us to get it all together for mine, so I figure I have until the end of March for hers! Haha.

Tomorrow: Mending with my darning loom!

 


Can you handle it?

Just. One. More. Gnome.

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I knit the beard & appendages and made the pom pom last night.

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If the weather cooperates, I'll drop him off today on my way home from work.

We're expecting some snow on top of the dreaded "wintry mix" all with the temp right around the freezing mark... could be "fun."

I promise something new next week, and here's a big clue:

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This was my Christmas present from Kate! I have at least three sweaters with elbows that need patching, and Ali has a pair of socks. I'm excited to give it a go (and have a few more sweaters back in rotation)!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Um. Really??

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading!

KNITTING:

I bet you thought I was finished with gnomes for a while, and so did I! Then, on Saturday, I went to a drive-by surprise birthday party for my godson/boss who turned an unbelievable 40 years old on Monday (how did that happen?). His Aunt Carol was also in the party parade and she'd previously mentioned on an FB post how much she loved my gnomes, and even offered to pay me to make one...

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...and, well, that's not going to happen, but as long as I had the yarn and DPNs handy, I might as well make one for her! This, again, is Susan B. Anderson's Gnome and it's the (true) large version, just as I made for Junah. And, just as the one I made for Jün, it's not weighted right. I can re-weight/-fill him and all will be well. Notes for next time: I don't really like the shape of the body, less all-around round and more like a barrel (so knit fewer rows).

READING:

I finished Kitchens of the Great Midwest last night. It was "about" a girl named Eva, and each chapter was a different part of her story -- but she wasn't always central, and there were big jumps in time. I liked it. I'd really like to read The Lager Queens of Minnesota, another book by J. Ryan Stradal. I'm not sure what's next in pages right now (tonight)...

I'm definitely into Hamnet, though my listening time is limited.

IN OTHER NEWS:

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Junah turned 7 yesterday!!

 


Weekending... in New Orleans!

For my birthday, Ann wanted to do some sort of online cooking class together, and we finally found something that would work!

We're going to learn to make Pisco Sour -- the national cocktail of Peru -- from Franco, an award-winning mixologist in Lima. The price includes a kit, delivered by courier, with everything you need... unless you live in Wisconsin, and then you're on your own... and hopeful that you can even find pisco! Haha. Some gift, huh?

Well, a hunting I did go, and I found some! I was advised to look for Peruvian pisco, not Argentinian (they're different), and there were two varieties of Peruvian at my go-to liquor store. Naturally, I bought the more expensive one because it had this cool sticker on the back that you viewed through a window on the front... I'm easily enchanted! I did a little research on the website and found that they actually have four varieties, and their Pisco Sour recipes called for a different variety. Awaiting word from Franco...

Meanwhile, Ann sent me an email from the New Orleans School of Cooking and wondered if there was a class there that I'd be interested in. She & Brian had an in-person class there a year or two ago and really liked it. We talked on Saturday and looked over the choices/calendar together and found a class for Meat Pies & Dirty Rice... on Sunday! So we signed up!

I was positively thrilled when the confirmation email triggered a notification on my TripIt app! I got a little "ding-dong" reminder -- something I haven't heard since March!

The shopping list, recipes, and instructions were sent ahead of time, so on Saturday I went shopping. On Sunday, it was all about chopping and measuring for mise en place.

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This was my set up for the Meat Pies (puff pastry sheets thawing behind me). I had another tray set up with everything for the Dirty Rice, and all the necessary skillets, pots, and bowls were handy.

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I had some technical difficulties, so had the video up on our old laptop but the audio was on my phone (also with video, though, and that was cool because I could see Annie & her set up a little better on my phone while keeping the class feed on the laptop). The last time I used that laptop was for a Zoom class to make my wreath and everything was fine... so I dunno (technology sometimes - ugh!).

The class was 1.5 hours long (we went a few minutes over), limited to 30 participants, and I think we were numbers 26 & 27, so it was pretty full. People from all over, including a group from MN who did it as a Christmas present, which was cool. The instructor was friendly, chatty, knowledgeable, and efficient. Everything was done step-by-step, she gave us options for different ingredients, methods, and presentations.

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We got the Dirty Rice going first. Mine is not technically "dirty," as they didn't have chicken livers at the store so I had to sub a chicken thigh (apparently, it's the organ meat that makes it dirty). It's not very picturesque, but oh my goodness, is it tasty!!

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The meat pies turned out GREAT! I got a dozen out of the recipe. The class was in the afternoon, so Kate & I split a pie and had a little rice when they were super fresh. We all had same for dinner, and Rusty was warming up some rice this morning to have with an egg for breakfast. I can't wait for lunch today... guess what's on the menu!?!!

And next weekend, PISCO SOUR!

 


Eye Candy Friday: The grandchooks

As of this morning, I have 9 grandchickens on two continents.

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Maddy & Viv have Silver/Gold Laced Winedots (the ginger ones are Viv's) and a Plymouth Rock.

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It's a different season in Australia than it is here.
Ahhhh, summertime! A garden!

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And they love them so much! Maddy's always sending videos... shooing them into their coop when it's time to go to work, or just showing off how cute they are.

Well, this morning, Alison upped the CUTE CHOOK GAME!!

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One of these was getting picked on at their former home, so was given to Ali & Rod... and came with a friend! I believe they are Golden Laced Polish.

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Lordy, they're gorgeous!

Have a good weekend... take care of yourself and try to keep your blood pressure under control. Wednesday was one helluva a week, huh? I am appalled, sad, angry, disappointed... afraid. 12 more days and he'll be out -- sooner, with any luck!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Here We Gnome Again

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading!

KNITTING:

Aha! It's a different gnome!

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He's not quite finished -- still needs a pom pom -- and he's far from perfect, but he sure is cute!! This is Sarah Schira's Here We Gnome Again. Though the pattern has been in my library since its release, this is the first time I've knit it. Heheheh... not the last! Sarah's collection of gnome designs is amazing (and there are others in my library)! 

HWGA has options for both fingering weight and worsted weight versions -- this one is worsted. It is/was intended for my sister Ann but, since the earliest I'll likely see her is July, I have plenty of time to try again. The centering of motifs & patterns on this guy is a little off, and I'd like to improve that, and possibly try some different yarn (perhaps some of my own hand-dyed).

READING:

In pages, I started Kitchens of the Great Midwest when I was recovering from COVID, and I'm enjoying it -- not blazing through it, but it's going quicker than some!

In audio, I restarted Hamnet the other day... with a bit more focus. I love Ell Potter's narration.

 


Makin' a plan

For the first time in memory, there is nothing on my calendar except birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, reminders. As of this moment, I have a "normal" work schedule, and my usual Wednesday day off from now to the end of time. I know that will change, but it's a bit surreal right now to scroll through my calendar... same, same, same, month after month.

I have a lot of bookwork to catch up on for both Ali and myself. I really let that slide in the last half of the year, so that will occupy the bulk of at least my Wednesdays for the next month.

Hopefully, I'll be in pretty good shape by the end of the month because...

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I will resume working on my Alabama Chanin June's Spring Car Jacket for (at least) 100 days beginning on January 31st! Here's where I left off... the last photo I took (presumably the last time I worked on it) was May 2nd.

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January 31st is far enough in the future that I can get some things done that need to be done (including organizing my workspace), and look forward to it instead of dreading it.

That's the plan, anyway. And it's on my calendar!

 


Weekending: Happy New Year!

I'm afraid I may have misled a few of you with my closing meme on New Year's Eve! I cannot remember the last time I went anywhere to celebrate the New Year; it's possible that I never went anywhere -- ever -- except for my own back yard (and to my aunt's when we were kids/teens)! Trust me, there are plenty of years that I'm tucked in & cozy well before midnight. Heh. Also, I can count the days on one hand over the past 2.5 weeks that I've worn anything other than PJs, leggings & a sweater... anywhere in my house, or even outside of my house! In fact, one day, feeling better but still not quite "well," we went for a joy ride -- to the credit union (only the drive-thru is open), the library (curb-side only these days), and just to drive down a road we'd never before traversed -- I just put my jacket on over my PJs, and even wore my slippers. What the heck, I wasn't getting out of the car.

That said, I actually went to bed on the stroke of midnight on Thursday. I couldn't watch anything on TV, though... it was way too depressing (or perhaps I tuned in at the wrong time/channel). Who in their right mind would want to review the news stories of 2020? It's all still very raw and many reminders are still in the news every damn day.

Anyway...

On Friday, I tore out the hat on Junah's gnome so I could refill and balance him better.

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I reused as much of the original yarn as I could, but the reworked has an extra bit of orange at the tip -- to coordinate with the boots, I say!

Also on Friday, Kate & I got started on our Buche de Noel. We baked the genoise, rolled it up, made the cream filling, spread it on the unrolled genoise, and then rolled it back up again. On Friday, we assembled & decorated.

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Kate did most of the Saturday work. The meringue wasn't turning out for the mushrooms (various stress factors involved), so we nixed that part and just dusted our yule log with powdered sugar "snow." The kids were impressed!! It tasted great, though next time I would cut back a bit on both the cream filling (also trying vanilla instead of chocolate) and the French buttercream frosting. Everyone cleaned their plate, and some people even had seconds!

The stars of Saturday were the kids! HUGS! KISSES!! CUDDLES!!!

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Davy is smiling & giggling! Malina seems so old now, and is a little sassy! Ginny was her usual chill & ultra-cool self. Junah... is Junah!

I didn't take very many photos, and regret that I didn't get one with Junah (not for lack of trying... but my request was denied!). We'll be going out there a week from tomorrow for a little birthday celebration, so maybe then.

It was so great to see them. Rusty took Junah & Ginny sledding on a nearby hill while I started getting the pot roast ready & in the oven. We had a nice dinner, the kids loved their presents (and so did the adults), we played...

It was just perfect.