Santa stopped by for Christmas and all I got was this yucky cold.

Not cool, Santa. I awoke this morning with inflamed sinuses & a fever. Just what I needed. Gratefully, today wasn’t a day when I had to be someplace, so I crawled back into bed to sulk. After getting up, I decided to focus on my tasks that bear a deadline & slack off on the rest. I mean, who wants to eat cookies made by a sickie? I’ve been taking my aspirin & echinacea/goldenseal faithfully. Hopefully I’ll be able to manage this thing.

I realized this morning that I hadn’t actually written all of my Christmas cards yet. I managed to finish those while my DH tried (in vain) to get me to eat some soup. When my sinuses get like this, they play tricks on me. Smells that I normally love smell bad to me – like petrol fumes. It doesn’t do much for the appetite.

Today I received the last of the gifts I have to give – this package took an inordinately long time to arrive. I was beginning to worry that it was lost, but I’m glad it’s finally here, and just in time to give for Christmas.

My knitting friends have been asking me for my patterns lately & it’s become clear that I will need to research knitting/charting programs to facilitate this. I tend to use a sort of shorthand for myself that I doubt others will care for. Within a month or so, I’ll add a section of free patterns to the blog.

Ugh, off to scrounge up some more hot tea & a few more aspirins.

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One Christmas down, one to go.


Well, we had our first Christmas celebration last weekend, and nature topped it off with deep snow! Exactly as Christmas should be.

We (truthfully, mostly my DH) baked up a storm. In typical crafty fashion, my DH came up with a new kind of cooling rack for all the many baking sheets full of cookies we cranked out. Looks like a ladder? Pish. It’s all the rage in Paris. 😉

And, of course, I got my holiday knitting done in time. My little nephew’s hat & scarf turned out beautifully. I had a little trouble with my progress on the scarf as I utilised a new-to-me technique – reversible cables – and every experienced knitter who took notice stopped me to take a look & hear about it. I’m happy to share, but I cut it kinda close on this project.

Here’s the finished detail on the reversible cables. Easy, really. And it was well received.

And after the festivities & the snowstorm were over, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, complete with icicles hanging from the eaves, growing in the warmth of the remaining suns rays.

I had a productive day today, despite the fact that I’ve been feeling kinda crappy these past few days. I’ve had a chill in my bones that doesn’t seem to want to leave, and my sinuses are beginning to bother me too. I think I’m finally succumbing to the bug that’s been making its way around as of late. Ah, well. The show must go on.

After a lovely dinner of leftover vegetarian fishcakes with sriracha sauce…

…note the subtle attempt to raise my spirits? Dinner was followed with a hot cup of herbal tea & a movie: Julie & Julia. I liked it, but the DH – not so much. To be honest, I liked Julia & Paul better than Julie & whats-his-face. Meryl Streep played it a little over-the-top, but she had the intonations down pat. She’s a pretty amazing mimic.

Tomorrow I have a pile of things to do – I’ll allow myself Wednesday to recover, and then it’s showtime again come Thursday, as the relatives will begin arriving anew.

I hope you are finding the time to take enjoyment of the simple pleasures this holiday season, as I am trying to do!

Christmas preparations.

I spent the day buzzing about the house, trying to get as much of my holiday prep work done as possible. It was raining hard for most of the day, so I didn’t want to go out, so I started writing out the Christmas cards, tidied the house up, knit on my nephew’s scarf for a while, and did a little preliminary baking – a test run of sorts. You see, I had recently bought some cranberry pistachio biscotti from Trader Joe’s (my favorite market) – and while they were good, I thought they could be a little better. So I found a basic biscotti recipe, and tweaked it a bit. The aromas wafting through the house were driving me to distraction, and my DH voiced a similar reaction. I was so pleased with the results, I thought I’d share. The recipe is so easy, and it tastes like it wasn’t!

Ria’s Easy White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pistachio Biscotti

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 cup vodka (you’ll see why…)

1/2 stick (4 tbs) of butter or margarine – room temperature

4 large eggs

1 3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed pistachio nuts

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder & coarse salt. I used what I had – pink himalayan seasalt – a gift from a few years back, and it works incredibly well in baking.

Cut in the butter or margarine.

In a measuring cup mix the 3 extracts with the 1/2 cup of vodka. The alcohol intensifies the flavors, and then evaporates off, leaving no hint that it was ever used. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients & lightly stir.

In a small bowl, break & lightly beat 4 eggs together & add that to the dry mixture.

Mix well, until a sticky dough is formed. If your mixture is a bit too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of milk or water.

When the dough is well mixed & of a slightly sticky consistency, mix in the cranberries, white chocolate chips, & pistachios. (I got all three from Trader Joe’s.)

Using a pan lined with either silpat or parchment paper, form the dough into a long loaf. Smooth out the sides and flatten the top to create a maximum thickness of 1 inch. The dough will spread a bit when heated.

Bake for 35-45 minutes @ 325 degrees. Take pan out & allow to cool for 20 mins. Slice loaf in half once length-wise, and then slice across to make 3/4 inch slices. Lay these slices flat on another pan & return them to the oven for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, and turn the biscotti over. Return them to the oven one last time & bake for 10-15 mins more. Let cool & devour!

♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥  ♥♥♥

The resulting biscotti are relatively low-fat, not overly sweet, and makes a nice treat to have with your tea or coffee. I hope you enjoy the recipe! If you do try them, I’d love to hear how they came out for you.

And the winner is…..

Congratulations, Oiyi! You’re the lucky winner of a new copy of Rowan Greatest Knits. Please check your email for the details.

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I’ve been just dying to write a new post – I’ve so much to share with y’all, but I didn’t want to create ‘comment confusion’ so I refrained. However, I couldn’t wait to post about some of the plunder I’ve bought recently:

My first BrooklynTweed scarf will be completed with these balls of Noro silk garden.

I got some nice cheerful Ella Rae for my Mom. As I have mentioned in the past, she’s 80+ years old, and recently started knitting again after a long hiatus.

And I finally, I broke down & bought some gorgeous Araucania to try out. The colors are amazing – subtle, kettle dyed hues that the camera did not successfully pick up in these photos. It looks even more amazing in person.

I also downloaded a pretty pattern from Ysolda – Rose Red. I’ve admired it for so long, and as this winter is shaping up to be a cold one, I figure I could use a new hat. It’s beautiful in red, but I’m imagining this in either green or purple. We’ll see! I’ll post pics as I cast on – I don’t wish to post copyrighted pics I don’t own.

And finally, here is the reversible scarf – almost finished! It was a very nice pattern, but it took long enough to finish. I had plenty of time to get sick of it. I don’t like it when that happens – who does – but it’s especially bad when it’s a gift that you’re racing against time to finish, don’t you think?

So, I have just 1 week left before my first family holiday get-together. No pressure! I’m not sure if I take on too many projects at holiday time, or if I’m just getting slower, but next year, I’d better start all the preparations in August. I feel like another Christmas is passing me by, and I’m not getting to enjoy it fully.

FYI, I’m planning a second giveaway for after the holidays, so please check back for that. Aside from not being able to post & share with you all, this was really fun. Thank you to all who participated & Happy Holidays to you all!

A Holiday Giveaway!

Well, it’s been a rough year for almost everyone I know, and now that holiday time is upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to spread some cheer amongst my knitting friends.

SO! I have a new copy of Rowan’s Greatest Knits to give away to one lucky participant, totally free. Just leave a comment on this post, and be sure to include some method of getting in touch with you – either an email address, or a link to your own blog containing contact info – I leave that up to you. I will not share contact info with anyone. This giveaway is open to all. The winner will be chosen on Saturday, December 12th, 2009 at 11pm EST.

ONE winner will be chosen AT RANDOM. I’m sorry, but if I can’t reach you within 24 hours, I will have to choose another winner. Good luck, & Happy Holidays to you!!

A new day, and new FOs & WIPs to share.

I had last posted about some trouble I had with a yarn order I recently placed – an important one. I decided to remove the post in the interest of trying not be negative during the holidays. I didn’t say or think anything mean, I just bemoaned my disappointment at a problem – granted a pretty big problem, but one that has been fixed completely, and I’m completely elated about that. And so, let’s move on…

Winter has taken up permanent residence here – at least for now – and the cold has been wreaking havok with my sinuses. Saline & my humidifier help tremendously, but I always worry that I might be more susceptible to catching cold when my sinuses are like this. I’ll be dosing up on my echinacea & golden seal just to be on the safe side. I have so much to do in the next few months – I just can not afford to get sick now.

Um, who *can* afford to get sick? Yeah.

Anyway… here’s one FO; – a lovely little cabled hat for my adorable nephew:

….made from Cascade 220 Superwash, which feels softer knit up than it does in ball form….and two WIPs; the matching red reversible-cable scarf:

Here’s the back…

…and here’s the front.

…and a Morehouse Bilbao scarf: here’s mine so far:

…and here’s what the pattern looks like on Ravelry, and also at Morehouse. It’s an unusual piece, but very stylish with the right outfit.

My Bilbao is made from Knit Picks ‘Shadow’ Kettle Dyed lace weight yarn in ‘Soot’. I had to double it, since this stuff is about as thick as dental floss, and STILL, it’s taking forever. Maybe because I made mine wider than the pattern called for, with a finer yarn? Hmm. The yarn is lovely & soft, and the color is ever so slightly variegated (kettle dyed). It’s really lovely.

Sorry, my iphone pics are not the best – I have to dig out the digital camera & start using that.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged properly – Thanksgiving kinda took it out of me, but I’m fully recovered now. And here is a hint of things to come: there’s a nice little giveaway in your future!

Stay tuned…

Do I know myself, or what?

Well, I frogged the hood thingie I had started making. I was making it for a sweet little girl I knit for in Maine. I decided instead to make a neck gaiter. It’s a bit big, I think, but it can be shrunk a bit in the wash, and she’s growing, so I think it’ll be ok in the long run. That’s my cat Tony inspecting my work, BTW.

I knit a little staggered heart design into it, but you can hardly see the things because of the color changes. Well, she’ll know they’re there, and so will I.

I’ve also started a hat & scarf set for my littlest nephew. I’m still contemplating whether I should make them attached or not. Kids do a great job of losing hats & scarves! Well, there’s time for that yet.

I really wanted to make something special for my in-laws. They both have piles of hats & scarves & sweaters (though it’s a bit late at this point to try to complete 2 sweaters!) and they’re on a purging kick – they’ve been trying to get rid of all the things they aren’t using that are cluttering their lives – a feat that is as admirable as it is difficult. We attach sentimental notions to our belongings that can make it hard to part with them. I know they’d love a handmade item for Christmas, but I hate to screw up their purgy plans. I have to think it through – we’ll see.

I’m also gearing up for the Thanksgiving meal! It’s the first time in over a decade that we’re having it here in Brooklyn. My DH’s brothers will be driving down from upstate with their families for a festive vegetarian celebration. We are all bringing something: I’ll be making an apple pie, cranberry shortbread, and my super-scrummy bourbon “chicken”. I might make a side dish & some wine, too, but I’ll have to check with my Mum-in-law. She will be hosting the dinner at her house, so she should decide what else is needed.

I’ve got to go to the stores to pick up the ingredients I’ll be needing. It’ll be like descending into a sort of controlled madness, but it must be done! It’ll be nice to have a house full of loved ones again! I hope you have a similarly festive holiday planned for yourself.