A Finished Knit…or Three, New Year’s, and Fun with Kitchen Appliances

We made it through Christmas, and despite the lingering sadness that permeated the season, we ended up with a simple yet wonderful celebration. Good food, good family and friends, and new memories. Even with the pared down festivities, I still ended up running around like a madwoman, and left too many tasks until the last minute. When I wasn’t working, I cranked out a few more knitted gifts:

mittenPattern: Antler Mittens by Tin Can Knits (Available both on their site and through Ravelry). I selected the adult medium size.

Yarn: Berroco Comfort Worsted in Burgundy Red

Needles: US Size 6 and 8 DPN’s

Notes: This was a super easy and fast project, though the decrease sections were a pain in the rear. Otherwise, great project that was a gift for the neighbor.

slippers

Pattern: Non-Felted Slippers (available on Ravelry).

Yarn: Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in Moss and Pewter.

Needle: US Size 9

Notes: The original pattern is about a US women’s size 7. I researched plenty of other Ravelry members’ project notes and upsized them to a men’s size 13 for the husband. Quick knit but it’s a tight gauge, making those decreases a little challenging.

headbandPattern: Blue Leaf Headband (available on Ravelry).

Yarn: Lionbrand Woodspun in purple colorway.

Needles: US 10-1/2

Notes: Well-written, fast pattern. I made it in less than a few hours. I followed the buttonhole option for finishing, rather than adding icord ties.

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As for me, I received the spirializer attachment for my KitchenAid, which came just in time for much-needed New Year’s resolutions. Since Mom passed, my gym time has been sadly lacking and the scale informed me this morning that something’s got to give. The fact that my jeans feel like they are cutting me in half should have clued me in sooner. I played with it last night and made spicy butternut squash fries with maple-yogurt dipping sauce. I passed on the rice and ate that with my chicken instead, then made it to the gym bright and early this morning. Baby steps indeed:

squashI’m jumpstarting this New Year with a good attitude and a list of goals a mile long. After all, as Adam Duritz once wrote: “It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.” I certainly hope so.

Finished Knit–Snappy Hat Version 2.0

Back in the day, I made Bean this hat, which her melon head quickly outgrew:

So, for Christmas, I decided to whip up a larger version, especially since this pattern takes no time at all. Normally, I refuse to use variegated yarns on patterns with cables because they end up looking too busy. But, alas, Bean is often a too-busy hot mess who marches to her own drum anyway:

Pattern: Snappy Hat (available on Ravelry and it’s free). This is the medium size, while the first pic/hat was the child’s size.

Yarn: Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky Prints in DN 6005-15 colorway.

Needle: Both circular and DPN’s, size 10.5

Notes: After making this again, I think something about the decreases at the crown give this hat a tendency to pull back off the head. That’s not a good trait in a kids’ hat as she keeps having to pull it back down to stay on. However, it is a cute, fast hat, and ensures that all the Heathen’s get something handmade from mom this year. Let’s call that a win, even if it looks like unicorn…never mind.

Advent Traditions–Motivating the Heathens to Be a Little Less Heathen-ish

adventWhen the kids were much younger, I started an Advent tradition for our family that I hoped would bring some sanity to dinnertime. Each night at dinner, as we light the Advent candles, we take turns reading a small reflection and prayer. It helps everyone get a small daily reminder about the meaning of the season, and also helps the kids keep at least some focus away from gift fever. Last year, as I was struggling with my own inner-apathy, I added a new component to this routine.

I place a Mason jar in the center of the wreath, and next to it, I add a small container with blank slips of paper and a pen. Each day, everyone writes either a good deed that they did that day, or something for which they are grateful. They fold up the slips and place them in the jar. On Christmas morning, after the bustle gifts, we sit down to a big breakfast. While we are eating, we pass around the jar and each person takes out and reads a slip. It’s amazing to hear all of the wonderful things the Heathens did or thought, and drives home how blessed we are. The unexpected side effect is that this really motivates the Heathens to do good deeds so that they will have something meaningful to add to the jar.

This year, as we continue to grieve and heal, I hope those good deeds help bring some holiday spirit to others. In the meantime, that whole dinnertime sanity thing is still pretty much a pipe dream…

Post-Thanksgiving Rest

towelWelp, I survived a Thanksgiving marathon like no other. To be honest, we had a great holiday, and despite hosting 20 of our family and friends, things proceeded smoothly and happily. As I was giving my dad the event recap, he asked in exasperation, “Who even has 20 chairs?!?” This girl, Dad…this girl.

During the days of preparation, my neighbor’s daughter stopped by and handed me this kitchen towel as a sweet pre-holiday gift. That 11 year old was on to something. I accepted ahead of time that big holidays can be chaotic, and that if something went wrong, it really would be ok. I’m  so over the pressure for picture-perfect gatherings, and I realized that once you have that mentality, you certainly enjoy them a lot more. I enjoyed the preparations, and approached the whole she-bang with very uncharacteristic calm. We ended up with a wonderful meal, a bucket of leftovers, and happy memories. We even got to spend unexpected extra time with my husband’s great uncle, which resulted in days of happy stories and tree trimming.

As I talked about in this recent post, we made a special effort this year make the most of our leftovers and to stretch them into as many meals as possible. We did the traditional next-day paninis with everything  on them:

 

panini.JPGWe also made and froze several casseroles of turkey tetrazzini, several quarts of turkey soup, and ham pot pies.

Now, it’s time to slow down a bit, catch up on work, and enjoy the first bit of sunshine we’ve seen. Not to mention my pressing need to pick up the pace on those last-minute knitted gifts! We won’t even get into the mess that has overtaken my house. Or the laundry pile…Dear God, the laundry pile…

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well! I’ll just be over here, closing the laundry room door.