New Year’s Day Brunch Plans

Hopefully you are having a peaceful, loving, happy holiday!


We had a bit of a kerfuffle Christmas Eve with not one but two valve stems on the Jeep blowing out.  If it was any other day it would have been an “aw, dang”, five to ten minute fix (even with me “helping”).  After dinner, on Christmas Eve, it was a little bit more of a problem than that!  Fortunately, we were able to get things sorted out and were able to spend some lovely, quality time with our families, even if it was a shorter amount of time than originally intended.

We’re home safe and sound now, so we can turn our attention to the next big celebration: New Year’s Day!

Lance and I decided several years ago that, for us, going out for New Year’s Eve was too much of a much.  Under normal circumstances we’re homebodies, so curling up on the couch with a couple of good movies and maybe flipping the tv over to watch the countdown if we notice it’s getting close to the time (and not caring if we miss it) is much more our style.  This year’s showings are shaping up to be some combination of Gettysburg (since we missed the traditional family showing with Lance’s dad), the second half of Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 mini-series version), season 2 of Letterkenny and season 3 of Sherlock to get ready for season 4 on New Year’s Day!

New Year’s Brunch is an open house sort of thing, with food throughout the day.  Things are laid back, things are generally chill and the “rules” are pretty lax.  Actually, the only real rules are (1) call before you get here and (2) the Tournament of Roses Parade will be on (unless New Year’s Day is a Sunday, like this year), so deal with it.

Foodwise, we typically graze.  So once we are up and ready to potentially receive our guests, I pull out a fruit tray and a batch of mini-doughnuts.  If you like to fry you can make your own a day or so beforehand, if not store bought on a nice plate is fine, the point of this party is to relax and spend some downtime with friends during the holidays before returning to normal life, don’t knock yourself out!  If you’re feeling guilty about not making them yourself, you could make kabobs with alternating fruit and mini-doughnuts.  Or put skewers in a tall glass between the fruit tray and the plate and let your guests make their own!  Add a plate of cheese and crackers, some cured meats, maybe some croissants and you’re in business!  For us, and several of our friends, so much of the holidays is a command performance,  with where we are supposed to be, at what time, with who, eating what being dictated because “it’s tradition!” So this party is a conscious rejection of that.  Show up when you show up, eat what you like, sit where you like, just be merry!

We make sure to have the coffee on, and several varieties of tea, as well as milk and sugar for those who use it.

I like to make up a mimosa bar with three or four types of fruit juice and a bottle or two of sparkling wine or sparkling grape juice.  Traditionally mimosas are made with orange juice but I can also highly recommended lemonade or limeade. I’ve also noticed several recipes for apple cider mimosas on Pinterest, and while I haven’t tried they yet, I will definitely consider them while doing my grocery shopping tomorrow!  The recipe for mimosas is dead simple and barely worth writting out so in honour or my knitting the Knitter’s Almanac in the new year I’m taking a page from EZ’s book and writting some pithy derections like she would.  Ready?  Ok – pour about half a glass of your choice of bubbly and half a glass of your choice of juice.  And basically that’s it.  Some people like to garnish with fruit, some people don’t, some people prefer more bubbly, some less.  Experiment a little (responsibily!) and find out what your preferred combination is and then go with it!

Around one or so, Lance will put on the roast beef.  We cook ours low and slow so the smell fills the whole house and it is glorious!  About an hour or so before it is done we’ll add in the potatoes, onions and carrots around the outside of the roast.  Then, around six, it’s time to dig in!

The whole spread is simple and clean up is fairly straight forward!  Just the way to start the New Year off if you ask me!

So, what are your plans for New Year’s Day?

Knitting the “Knitter’s Almanac”

I’ve had a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac since about a year or so after I started knitting.  I’ve read through it, and referred back to it so many times that it flops open to certain sections almost automatically (one row button hole, Emily Ocker’s Circular Beginning)!


I love EZ’s conversational style of writing, it feels like sitting with a good friend f0r a cup of tea while you both get caught up on what’s what and spend a little time working on your current project.  She’s like my best knitting buddy!

So, with my fairly regular re-readings, checking up on techniques often enough that my book seems clairvoyant and BFF necklace with the book, it was kind of surprising to me when I realized I hadn’t really knit much from it.  Sure I’ve knit  a couple of stars from her Christmas fiddle-faddle (August), and shawls based on her Pi shawl (July).

But actual real projects?

Not really.

And I don’t know why.

I love the February Lady Cardigan, I’ve meant to do it since I got the book.  I have the yarn in my stash!  And the hats in June?  Love them!

Well, with some of them (ahem, Nethergarments (September) I’m looking at you!) just seem absurd to me.  With all the geometry that would be required to fit my belly/hips/etc, I don’t think there’s a universe where that would happen!  Even in the many-worlds interpretation…. but then again, applying what she wrote to making a pair of tall socks…. now there’s an idea I can work with!

So, in 2017 I’m challenging myself to knit at least one of the patterns from the Almanac for each month.  Or take apply the ideas to something that does work for me, won’t you join me?

Christmas Cookies!

It’s that time of year again!

It’s Christmas cookie time!

We try to make about four different kinds and try to spread the baking out over the course of a few evenings so that it doesn’t feel like such a rush.

This year we’ve started off by making peanut butter cookies on Monday for his soccer team (it was the finals!  They lost :() I may need to make a second batch to fill out the cookie plates but this is such an easy recipe and having extra peanut butter cookies is never a problem around here.

On Tuesday we made gingerbread trees using this recipe, which is apparently the same one Disneyland uses. Having not been to Disneyland (yet) I cannot confirm or deny that it is the same recipe, all I can say is that they are so good!  I really like the flexibility of this recipe with the refrigerating time, when we made this batch, we made up about half for the soccer team and left the other half in the fridge to be made up on Wednesday (yesterday) and both turned out beautifully!  I keep thinking maybe I should add a tiny bit more ginger but I am a big fan of ginger so your mileage may vary.  If I do end up making another batch this year and tinkering with the ginger amount I will let you know.

Today is an off-day because (a) it’s hockey night (b) it’s practically a blizzard out so I am hunkered down underneath many blankets with a cuddly dog and (c) the dishwasher needs to be run!

Tomorrow we plan on making these cookies which are insanely easy and get tons of compliments.  They are good “filler” cookies, taking up a lot room on the plate without taking all that much effort.  The Cool Whip makes them light and fluffy, and they practically melt in your mouth.  Our nephew can eat these by the plateful, and while he is not what anyone would consider a connoisseur, he is a sweetheart and always makes sure to say thank you when he takes handfuls of cookies!

At some point next week we will be making my Great Grandmother’s shortbread cookies, and maybe something full of chocolate!

What’s on your baking list this time of year?

Pavonis Cardigan

I’m so sorry for the delay – I’ve been recovering from a migraine and trying to get some Christmas running done while Lance is still willing to help.  I’m not in love with these photos so I’m going to try and get better ones in the next few days.

Without any further excuses, I present my finished Pavonis cardigan!

The pattern is written by the lovely Robynn Weldon and is available on Ravelry.  I received my copy of the pattern in return for test knitting the XL size.  The pattern was well written and Robynn was a lovely designer to test for.  I highly recommend this pattern and have my eye on several of her previous patterns!  If she were to release a version of this pattern in fingering weight yarn I could see myself knitting a couple in different colour and/or lace combinations.

The pattern is written with full sleeves but, since I always push up my sleeves I made mine with three-quarter length sleeves.  The bind off is a touch tight, so I will be redoing that this evening.

I like the way the shoulders are created but I did have some trouble picking up the stitches for the sleeves.  I am fairly certain this trouble was created due to the floofiness of the baby alpaca yarn and/or user error.  I think that if I had have used a sturdier yarn things would have been a lot easier.  One of the test knitters bound off and then cast on stitches for the armholes, and then picked up the stitches for the sleeves from there. If the “structural integrity” of the yarn you use is low (like the baby alpaca I used) I would suggest you consider this modification but if you are smarter than I am, and use something sturdier, you should be ok.

While I was knitting I was thinking I maybe should have done an extra repeat or two on the longer side.  Now having blocked the lace, I am happy with results.  I think for this size the lace repeats as written are prefect.

(I’m so sorry for the face I’m pulling here, Lance was being a dork and I think I was giving him heck when he snapped this one… Unfortunately it is the best of the photos he took :s)

This sweater took me a long time to knit (almost 6 months) but it is an XL sweater in lace weight with intricate lace work and beading.  I am tickled pink with my results and cannot wait to rock it this holiday season.

December 2016 – the month ahead

A very busy month coming up!  Lots of travel to and from our parents’ places, people to see, things to do!

Here’s what you can look forward to here!

Schedule

December 8 11Pavonis cardigan – review and thoughts
December 15Christmas cookies!
December 22Knitter’s Almanac challenge 2017
December 29Tips for an easy New Year’s Day Brunch

On My Nightstand

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

Middlemarch by George Eliot on Audible

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas on CraftLit

I’m chugging away at “How I Killed Pluto…” and while interesting, it is kind of slow going. The science side of it is well written, and easy enough for a layperson to get the general idea of, the problem I’m having is once I put the book down I don’t really feel motivated to pick it back up again. Middlemarch is ok, I’m only about 20% of the way through so I am still hopeful it will improve. I have already downloaded “the Martian” with my next audible credit so at least I have that to look forward to. I continue to love “The Count of Monte Cristo”.

On My Needles

Pavonis by Robynn Weldon and vanilla socks for Lance

I love my Pavonis, it’s gorgeous, it’s so soft, it’s almost done! I’m writing this post a little earlier than I had planned to so hopefully by the time this goes live I’m in the process of binding off (or close to it, I know myself too well to hope that I’ll have bound off!) Lance socks are always good mindless tv knitting, prefect for watching cheesy holiday movies with!

Happy Football and Food Day!  (And Happy American Thanksgiving if you celebrate it!)

Happy Football and Food Day!  As Canadians we celebrated Thanksgiving back in October, so for us today is all about watching Lance’s Detroit Lions, my Dallas Cowboys and eating more food than we should!  TV sit-coms have taught me this is pretty much what American Thanksgiving is about for a large portion of Americans anyway. 😉

It’s sort of exciting that all three games today matter as far as the standing go!  I don’t think that has happened in a long time, or at least since I started paying attention to the NFL.  Not that I pay too much attention other than to ask if my Cowboys won and if Detroit lost, but I digress.

Food-wise, I like to make up a veggie tray, we’re going to be eating a fair amount of junk food over the course of the day so if I can sneak in a carrot or two (even drenched in ranch dressing) I’m going to call that a win.  If I’m feeling particularly virtuous (or maybe optimistic) I’ll make up a fruit tray too.  If when I’m doing my shopping the pre-cut bowl are a decent price I will usually pick them up — healthy snack, no more effort than a bag of chips!

Since the first game starts around lunch our time, we usually make nachos!  Nothing fancy, just brown up some ground beef, lots of cheese, some salsa, corn chips and layer them all together, toss it in the oven to melt the cheese and you are good to go.

About halfway through the second game tummies start to get a little rumbley again so it’s time to head back to the kitchen.  One of my favourite game day recipes is garbage bread.  It’s basically a Stromboli that isn’t folded as neatly, and man are they good!  I use this recipe and it is super-easy to customize so let your imagination run wild!  The Buffalo chicken in the original is really good but you cannot go wrong with any of the standard (or even more inventive) pizza combinations.  Canadian pizza (mozzarella, pepperoni, bacon and mushrooms) is one of our favourites but I don’t think we’ve ever made a “bad” one.  Go wild!  And if you come up with something you think is amazing let me know!

It also keeps fairly well for the next day if you wrap up the cut end, so don’t feel that you have to eat the whole thing!  😉

Near the end of the third game we start wanting something a little sweet.  If I didn’t serve the fruit tray earlier, I’d bring it out now, maybe with a yogurt dip, or chocolate sauce.  A plate of cookies or something else small that can be made up ahead of time is usually a good bet.

What are some of your favourite game day dishes?

So… what do you *do* when you’re knitting?

One of the top three questions I get asked when I’m knitting is “what do you do when you’re knitting?” (The other two are “is that hard?” And “Will you make me a ____?”  The answer to both of them is “No!”). The answer to the first one, well a lot of things!

  1. Watch Lance’s sports

    Lance is very active in sports, from about September to about April he plays hockey one night a week and soccer twice a week, plus any pick-up games. From about May to September, he plays baseball a couple of nights a week and usually at least once on the weekend. So, I spend a lot of time in the stands at various sporting parks. He needs someone in the passenge seat so he can drive in the HOV lanes, I get a couple of hours of guilt-free knitting! No matter the score, I call that a win 😉

  2. Socialize

    There are very few things better than gettting together with some friends. Add in something simple like a vanilla sock, Grandma’s favourite dishcloth or miles and miles of stocking stich and boom you’re being productive at the same time… just make sure if you’re working on anything complicated that you stick with just tea (learn from my fail here, any tinking or ripping back will be even more painful than normal).

  3. Podcasts

    I am a big fan of the CraftLit podcast. Heather is such a great podcaster, and learning more about the context of classic literature has been fascinating. Currently the podcast is working on the Count of Monte Cristo (which I don’t think I ever read but I do have distinct memories of watching the Wishbone version on tv!). If you like the podcast there is also a subscriber podcast that just finished working on The War of the Worlds.

  4. Audiobooks

    I’ve got a subscription to Audible and every month I love looking over the books and listening to the samples of different books I’m considering (Nick Offerman reading Tom Sawyer was recently added!). If you’re like me and your to-read pile is growing faster than you can read it, maybe give Audible a look.
    Or if you are a fan of classic literature (or anything old enough to be public domain) maybe give Librivox a look. The quality can be a little hit or miss sometimes, but they are free, so there’s that. If you’re new to Librivox, or haven’t heard the reader before I recommend downloading only the first three or four chapters before downloading the whole book just in case. Knock on wood, I haven’t had much problems with annoying readers, and I’ve worked through the backcatalouge of some really good ones.

  5. TV and Movies

    I love classic films, Audrey Hepburn will always be my favourite actress (and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador) and as a result I watch a lot of TCM. We also watch a fair amount of sit-coms and I love a good British drama (but nothing to tense – it messes with my tension!). Lance also plays video games, so I spend a lot of evenings watching him play.
    So… What do you do when you knit?

Comfort foods

With the fall weather, there has been some definite nesting going on over here.  And food-wise that means a lot of soups or stews, bread or biscuit and peanut butter cookies.

We don’t have an actual recipe we follow for our soups, just a general idea.  Depending on what we have on hand, we either put in a beef soup bone or a package of stew beef, beef broth if we have a box open, a couple of cans of vegetables, (usually mushrooms and until we use them up, corn — we accidentally bought a second case from Costco before we used up the first one!  Oops!  Good thing we like corn!) if we have some we toss in a few potatoes and fresh carrots and then whatever is in the fridge that sounds like it might be good in the mix we have going on.  It is never the same twice but always good.  Oh, and the main difference between my soup and stew — how thick it ends up being.  On the very rare occasion I’ll add a thickener like corn starch but I usually don’t worry too much either way.  Throw it all in a crock pot on low for an afternoon and ta-dah!

For bread and biscuits we have two main recipes we like.  This potato bread is great because the amount of potato is flexible, an important consideration in our house.  My all time favourite biscuit recipe is this (NSFW language) one I found on Pinterest.  It makes cheddar biscuits like at Red Lobster and they disappear so fast!  Just thinking about them makes me want to make up a batch… maybe later this afternoon….

Anyway, I have never met a peanut butter cookie that I don’t love.  Kraft has a fairly standard recipe that I use most of the time.  It’s adaptable so if you want chocolate chips or such, you can toss them in,  if you’re feeling particularly ambitious I can highly recommend tossing in about half a cup or so of chocolate chips and another half a cup or so of mini marshmallows for a s’mores cookie.

What are some of your favourite fall cozy recipes?  

A Very Special Day

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I can hardly believe it, in a strange paradox of time it seems like not that long ago and yet forever… ten years ago today Lance and I stood up in front of our friends and family and made our marriage vows to each other.

We’ve been through a lot since then, three moves, two new cities, new jobs, starting a brand new company from the ground up, a demon bird, a crazy dog, saying hello to new family members and sadly goodbye to some too… We’ve had good days, great days, not so great days and some downright awful ones too, but we’ve known through it  all we have each other.

I cannot wait to see what the next decade, and beyond, has in store for us.