Thursday, December 22, 2011

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Christmas when I was growing up was not always stellar or spectacular.  My mom was famous for saying bah humbug and being in a terrible mood from just before Thanksgiving until well past Christmas.  We weren't allowed to put our tree up until Christmas Eve. When we finally got the tree it was mostly me decorating it with a bit of help here and there from my brother who really wasn't enthused about the whole ordeal.

Christmas got better when I was a teenager because my maternal grandparents moved to Maine and across the street from where I grew up.  They moved in with my great grandparents, Sophie and John, to help care for them and to get my grandfather, who had Alzheimer's, out of the city.  My grandmother, Olga, was and still is one of the strongest women Ive ever known.  Through all that was going on with caring for her aging parents and very sick husband she still had time to make Christmas wonderful for her family.

On Christmas day I would go across the street to her house to help set the table and hang out.  Olga would be cooking and direct me as to what to do then shoo me off into the living room.  My great grandmother would be sitting in her spot on the sofa next to the wood stove and she was always knitting. She made everyone in the family socks, mittens, gloves and sweaters.   I would sit with her and sneak candy from the coffee table and she would tell me story's of when she was young girl in Russia and how she came to America.

Dinner time would come and we would all gather at the table and have a fantastic feast. Throughout dinner Sophie would continually say she couldn't hear those who were speaking to her, particularly those she wasn't fond of.  After dinner she and I would retreat into the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes.  If I spoke to her she would sush me so she could evesdrop on what was being said in the dining room!  Selective hearing gotta love it! 

Those are the best Christmas memories I have, and possibly the best memories of my childhood.

So, what's your favorite Christmas memory?  

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Until this past weekend I really haven't been able to get into the swing of thing for Christmas.  It's been a challenging year with health issues; some serious and some not.  Huge and unexpected repairs to our home; a new heat pump,  having to replace leaking skylights and attack of the ten million ants which lead to having an exterminator. The recent passing of my paternal grandmother which Im still in shock from has just added to the mix of stress. 

Ive been really down in the dumps and as always Andy has done everything humanly possible to distract me and cheer me up.  It's worked.  He started with hanging lights inside and out.  We put up our tree and got almost all new ornaments for it so we could have a fresh look. 

Our tree is small and is on the coffee table in the middle of the living room.  We had to run the power cord  to it off the ground so the bunny won't nibble on it.  It's the second year we have had a smaller tree and it's working well.
Blue lights really do make me smile.  Unless of course they are behind me while Im driving.

This past weekend we drove through Amherst after our trip to the farmers market.  These adorable Nutcrakers were on display in the roundabout.

Andy has sat with me and watched nearly every Christmas movie known to man over the past few weeks (have I mentioned how awesome he is?).  My favorite is the Holiday.  Not only does it make me cry like a baby I am completely in love with the stone cottage house in it.  There are even a few sheep in one scene.

We have decorated and baked cookies.  Two batches of the spritz kind so far.  They are almost all gone.  So we wouldn't be crazy piggish with them, Andy has taken quite a few of them to work to share. 

With Christmas less than two weeks away Ive finally cheered up a bit.  I wrapped and packed all the gifts that needed to be mailed this morning and took them to the post office.  Thought of one more small goodie for Andy and stopped for that on the way home. 

As horrible as this sounds Im not doing any Christmas knitting.  Last year everyone on my list either got something hand knit or sewn.  I made myself  crazy knitting all day and late into the nights leading up to Christmas.  This year has made me think that this is what it must be like for people who don't knit.  Weird!

Monday, December 12, 2011

When Giltter and Wine Mix

This weekend Andy and I decided to take a trip to the local farmers market and hit some of the antique/junk shops in downtown Lynchburg.  We came across this unique and dated owl wall hanging.  I was going to pass it by when Andy suggested that with a little paint it would take on a whole new life.

It sounded like a great idea to me.  We brought it home and cleaned it a bit with Dawn.
Sunday a trip to Michaels was in order to pick up some supplies.  We found some great colors of paint in the Martha Stewart collection and did a base coat of Beetle Black to start with:

I then added some highlights in Sterling which is a metallic accent paint.

And then came the glitter.  I may or may not have had a glass or two of wine while waiting for the Sterling to dry.  First I added just a bit.  Then I realized that glitter is fun.  And the more glitter you add the better.  My inner tacky child was coming out.  Here is the result:

It's actually quite pretty in person.  A bit hard to photograph though.  In any case we have a cute decoration for less than $10 total.  Sucha deal!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Felted Soap

Looking for something quick and easy to make and give this Holiday Season?  Felted Soap makes a wonderful gift that even non fiber (are there such a thing?) people will love. 

 To get started you will need assorted colors of feltable roving. 

I have a big bag that came from Stony Mountain Fibers in Charlottesville, VA.  Barbara Gentry, the owner, has a lovely assortment of wool roving in all sorts of colors displayed in cubes along one wall of her shop.  I went through and put a random assortment of colors in a bag just for making soap and needle felting. 

You will also need the following:

Bars of soap  Obvious, I know, but you will still need them.  This batch came from our last vacation.  It's Crabtree & Evelyn and it was a nice hotel.  That's all Im saying!

Heat resistant kitchen gloves.  Mine are latex free.

A large glass container that can go in the microwave.  I use an 8 cup glass measuring cup.

Step one: fill the glass container 2/3 full with water and heat in the microwave until steaming but not boiling.

Step two: take small pieces of roving, about  twice as long as the bar of soap you are using, open them up and lay them on top of each other.  Randomness works best and gives the most interesting results.

You want to make sure the roving is thick enough so that for the next step no part of the soap will show through.

Step three:  Determine which side of the roving you want to show on the finished soap and place that side down.  Place the bar of soap on top of the roving.

I wasn't kidding about the Crabtree & Evelyn.  Nice, eh?

Step four: Wrap/wind the roving round the soap leaving a bit hanging over the side edges:

I smooth the roving out just a bit with my hand before the next step.  Make as many as you like, it's fun!

Step five: This is the fun part!  Put your heat safe/resistant gloves on. *note each soap is done one at a time
Making sure your water is very hot, submerge the roving wrapped soap into the water.  It is important to hold the soap so at the beginning the roving doesn't loosen up or become unwrapped.  I cradle the soap in my hand. 

Now using both hands agitate the roving on the soap.  This can be done in the water or above the water.  Re submerge the soap as necessary to keep it wet and help in the felting process. (If the roving is not felting quickly try shocking it in ice water then back to the super hot water)
When the roving is firm and appears to be felted around the soap, rinse under cold water.

Step six: Lay your finished soap in a well ventilated area to dry.  A baking rack works well.  I use an old window screen on top of a clothes drying rack.  The soaps should be dry within 24 hours.  If you live in a humid area it may take a bit longer. 

When they are dry they are ready to give!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My New Favorite Sweater

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be a test knitter for Anne Hanson's newest sweater design; Blümchen

I love my finished Blümchen.  Not only does it fit perfectly but it was such a fun and very easy knit that Im currently shopping for yarn for a second one!

If you are looking for a well fitting and flattering sweater this is the way to go.  I used Knitting Notions Classic SuperwashMerino in Pumkin Spice. 

The finished sweater may give the impression that it was difficult or challenging to knit, but I promise it was quite easy.  The lace pattern is easy to remember and I knit the majority of it while watching tv with Andy in the evenings.  I even brought it to our knit group and worked on it while catching up with the girls.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Finished Product

As promised and better late than never - a drum roll please - our Turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Andy and I started our own Thanksgiving tradition a few years ago and have really enjoyed it.  Andy takes the week of Thanksgiving off for a staycation.  We watch movies at home, usually go to see a movie in the theater and work on some projects around the house.  It's relaxing and fun and we both enjoy the time away from everyday stress.  One of the best things about our Turkey Staycation is that we have our Thanksgiving dinner early in the week and get to enjoy it for the time we are home together.  It's less cooking over all for me too heh.

Today is our feast and the turkey is in the oven. I will post pictures of the finished product later. 

This is the best and easiest way to make a mouthwatering, moist, people knocking down your door (you know who you are) to get more turkey:
Thaw, rinse and pat dry the turkey you wish to cook.  Take a knife and very gently separate the skin from the breast and body.  Place pats of unsalted butter under the skin with the following:
fresh sage
fresh rosemary
dried bay leaves
Then rub the top of the turkey with unsalted butter

In the cavity of the turkey:
fresh cracked pepper
ground sea salt
a few sprigs of parsley
2 - 3 green onions
minced garlic
2 small stalks of celery

In the turkey pan lay a couple of carrots, stalks of celery and a cut up onion and then place the turkey on top of these.  This will help to make very savory drippings for the gravy.

Cover lightly with foil and bake at 325F  for the proper time for the weight of your bird.  Baste occasionally.

Im quite squeamish and toss all the "stuff" that comes inside the turkey.  We won't discuss this anymore as Im starting to gag at the thought!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where have you been?

When your vacation to Orlando starts with 12" of rain over three days some people might throw in the towel, pack up and head back home.  This is Andy on our first day there.  He ran out and got two umbrellas and rain ponchos for close to million  US dollars at one of the Universal gift shops.  The poncho's didn't work super well so that night we headed off to Bass Pro and picked up some real waterproof jackets and pants. 

The sun came out the next afternoon, but we stayed dry that morning and during Halloween Horror Nights which was totally awesome.  If you have never been and enjoy being scared out of your mind this is the place to go!  One of the haunted houses was of a winter graveyard complete with a snow machine that sprinkled snow down on us as we went through it.  No pictures of anything there sadly, but lot's of great memories.

Im really glad we don't fish for anything this big!

My most favorite part of our trip was feeding the baby roo's at Busch Gardens Tampa.  I spent an hour in with them and Andy went back to the front to get more food.  Notice the large puddles in the background.  Did I mention that it rained so hard that the waterparks were closed?  Why close waterparks in the rain?  Don't you get wet there anyway?  Ok onto something more fun!

Andy and I got to meet this lovely Owl and her trainer who let us pat her.  She's been in captivity since she was an owlet because of an injured wing. She seemed quite happy and was interested in everything going on.

A dolphin at Sea World.  We went there on one of the wet day's figuring that dolphins, whales and sharks are already wet.

Happy Hour in Jurassic Park.  It starts at 3:00 and we were there almost every day.  Our favorite bar tender who is originally from Wales was there.  We met him last year and it was nice to see him again.

CityWalk which is at the entrance to Universal and Islands of Adventure

We had some fantastic food there at The Latin Quarter.  We tried several restaurants: Bubba Gump, Emril's, and a few in the parks but liked The Latin Quarter the best and went back three times.  That says a lot since we are both particular about food!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hay, what did you do this weekend?
Andy and I went to the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival in Montpelier Station, VA.  It's a lovely drive through rolling hills and countryside that we enjoy.  The leaves are just starting to turn here so there was a bit of color here and there.

Montpelier is by far our favorite festival.  It's really low key and everyone is laid back and happy.  You can find fibers and yarns that are hard to come by and lot's of unique ones as well. 

I entered my Holden Shawl in the Handspun Hand Knits Wearable division and it received second place.  This was really exciting and quite an honor.  One of the ladies working at the fiber arts display said that there were twice as many entries as there had been in past years. 

This is Judith modeling her hand dyed shawl.  Can you guess what she used for dye?  I never would have figured it out.  She went to a workshop where she learned how to dye with mushrooms.  Every color in this stunning shawl came from a mushroom.  I have to tell you that this was a hot topic in the car on the way home!
What would a fiber festival be without sheep?  This little gal is one of Heidi Passino's Shetland Sheep.  If we had land for animals we would have several sheep from Heidi.

This is a needle felted wall hanging that was entered in the fiber art's competition.  I love how the artist incorporated locks on the body of the sheep.

A wrap with hand spun angora yarn and emu feathers

The picture of this rug hooking doesn't do it justice, it was just fantastic in person!

This is a 6' tall hand felted wall hanging.  It was outside of one of the vendors tents.

Andy spotted this lovely arrangement in the fiber arts tent.  We have a little wheel like this and I think it would be great to use for a floral arrangement.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Dreams May Come

I had a really horrific health scare late in the summer that required a biopsy.  There were sleepless nights for my husband and I before and after and quite frankly a lot of worry. 

A couple of nights before the biopsy I had a vivid dream where Anne Hanson told me that if I joined her Fall in Full Colors club my breast would be fine. 

Now, Im not into reading into your dreams or fortune telling or anything like that.  But I figured, what the hell.  It's yarn and patterns by one of my favorite designers, how could I go wrong?

Well, Im not saying that the Fall in Full Colors club has magical healing powers, but my biopsy turned out just fine. 

The last time Andy and I were out on the boat the leaves were just starting to turn a beautiful yellowish green.  With the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains the colors were spectacular!  I was thinking that it would be great to find yarn in these colors:

Since I work for Kristi I knew the September shipment would be Shalimar Breathless.  But I had no idea of the color.  There was such a happy dance when this arrived:

Fantastic, yes?

The pattern to go with it is for Hazeline a stunning shawl.  I can't wait to get started on it and will be winding the yarn today.  I have one cuff left to finish on the Vodka Gimlet that Im doing in Honey Worsted Black Truffle and then will get to cast on for the Hazeline.  Im proud of myself for showing restraint and not casting on until the Gimlet is finished. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Love Notes

Andy surprised me last night while we were watching The Big Bang Theory.  It's the sweet thoughtful things that he does out of the blue that really mean so much. 
Next month is our sixth wedding anniversary.  As each year blends smoothly into the next I realise that I can't imagine having a better friend to spend them with. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Knitting Fish

You may be saying to yourself - Hey, I thought this was a knitting blog what up with this gigantic fish?  Andy and I went fishing yesterday morning and he caught this 8lb large mouth bass and two others that were around 3 lbs.  It's the largest bass Ive seen in person and it was quite exciting to see Andy bring him in the boat!

You may remember back in July that my in-laws had adopted two boxer cross puppies.  We stopped by to visit on the way home from fishing.  I thought you might enjoy seeing how much Bo had grown since July.  He's now 6 months old, almost as tall as me (Im 5' 8"), and we think around 70 lbs.  He's just the sweetest guy and loves to give kisses.

Last Friday I arranged for our knit group to take a field trip to Wyrd Sisters in Roanoke. Cate, the owner, is so much fun and truly a wonderful person.  Her shop has some great yarns and fibers including Unplanned Peacock which is a local company.  I came home with a skein of Diva Sock which is a merino/cashmere/nylon blend and a braid of merino roving - yum!

This is Cate in a stunning vest that she knitted:

From left to right: Lynn, Missy, Rose and Cate.  We all had a fantastic time.  Thank you Cate!