Tea & sympathy.

It strikes me that this is the grimmest holiday season I have yet seen. All of my friends & loved ones have been touched in some way by the economy & the related fallout. It’s a fine line (& getting finer) between ‘doing ok’ & ‘in trouble’. I think you can relate – we all know someone who fits this description. So, I’ve spent the last week running around trying to make preparations for the upcoming visitors who will soon be here, trying to create a day of normalcy for everyone – where we don’t have to think about the mortgage, or the job, or the shrinking stock portfolio, or any of the other unpleasantness that seems to be welling up on us from all angles. An old fashioned sort of day┬áspent cooking together, playing board games with the kids, bringing gifts of food to elderly neighbors, laughing, smiling & sharing what we have & being thankful to have it.

Today I went into Chinatown to pick up the remaining ingredients for the holiday table. We are having a vegetarian Thanksgiving (as always) using some of our favorite recipes. I picked up the soy chicken today for the main dish from a store called May Wah.

They specialize in all ┬ákinds of vegetarian ‘meats’ & other soy products. We discovered them a few years ago & recommend them highly. We’ve done the tofu turkey from the health food store – you know the one I mean – and it’s just not…good. The incentive to the non-vegetarians in our group dissolves when the promise of good-tasting food is removed from the equation, so we decided to change the menu to free us from the typical fare of turkey & stuffing. Thanksgiving has become a much more festive event ever since!

It was an afterthought to stop off at Ten Ren on Lafayette to pick up a little pick-me-up for myself. I got a small bag of rose black tea.

I used to buy Twinings rose pouchong tea up in Canada when I used to travel there frequently, and I’d always enjoyed the way the subtle scent of rose would reveal itself only after taking a sip of the hot tea.

This was a typical looking China tea – long leaf & bold, with a slightly earthy scent that usually accompanies Chinese teas of mid-level quality, but the brewing told another story.

The resulting brew had a beautiful reddish-copper color that I usually associate with Indian teas. The flavor was distinctly Chinese, and the rose aspect was perhaps a bit too subtle to be perceived over the strong tea flavor, but it was a nice treat all the same.

I have also managed to start the next knitted gift project – a red cabled hat for my little nephew. It’s simple – 5 cables total, with repeats on the 5th row.

I’m using Cascade 220 superwash for this hat & a matching scarf. It’s quite cold where he lives, so I feel he’d benefit from the warmth of the wool over the softer feel of the acrylics he’s used to, and I’m sure his parents will appreciate the easy washing instructions. I should be done with the hat by tomorrow & I haven’t yet decided how to make the scarf. I picked up the winter issue of Interweave Knits today & there was a nice article in there by Lily Chin on reversible cables that I thought night be an interesting technique to try out on the scarf. I’ll swatch it up & photograph it by Friday, hopefully.

I probably won’t be able to post again until after Thanksgiving, so I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have the opportunity to celebrate the things that are good in your life & share them with those who are special to you.

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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.