Look at that! It's a bluebird Christmas Day after a short blizzard and a very cold night. The snow was just what we'd ordered for Christmas.
We invited Cheryl and L to join us for brunch, but the menu was only partly successful. Smith's latkes and my chocolate cookies were delightful, but the bourbon toddies were a little frightful. We'd all prefer our whiskey neat, please.
If I could I'd insert a little drum roll here as I announce the winners of last weeks comment contest. brrruuummm Kathy left the 65,000th comment! I've had to check that number every time I type it as I'm a little stunned by it. Nancy is the random comment winner. Thank you, dear readers for years of fun blogging. You make it all worthwhile.
This isn't the first place you've heard about the Winter Solstice and it won't be the last. There should be a beautiful picture of lights, or candles, or a sunrise or something else denoting the longest night and the shortest day, but yesterday worklife ran over me with its truck. The truck will likely back up and do the job again today, but I digress. Even without the aid of a glorious picture, I will share my thoughts on this day.
After the events of Friday last, there seems to be little peace and joy in our world. The unspeakable evil that descended on Newtown has brought sorrow and heaviness to every heart. Many of us feel the need to DO something--for the children, for the town, but you may feel there is little you can do. You may feel frozen by the deep sorrow around you, but we need to do anything we can to bring peace and joy into the lives of others. Reach out and do just one something, one random act of loveliness.
On this, the shortest day, in the honor of a child, I ask you to follow in the footsteps of many, many other participants and reach out in just one random act of love. Give something of yourself to another person. Do it rashly, out of the blue, perhaps by slowing to allow in a car who has trying to turn out into traffic, by opening a door for the person behind you and giving them a warm smile, pay for someones lunch, or buy the drink for the person in line behind you. Just DO something kind, give a little of yourself. Be the best you can be, keep love in your heart over the next week (and always). Go into the New Year in peace and love. Give yourself this gift. May your Solstice be bright.
If you like, report your simple act of kindness here. This isn't a brag sheet but a way of sharing how many of us have within the ability to give, to share, and to love. We can change the world, one person at a time.
The story starts when I decided to follow Monikita's tradition of knitting her husband a hat for Christmas. Mr. Smith agreed it was a grand tradition and that he'd like a nice warm beanie to keep his ears warm in frosty weather. His choice was Fortnight, which I hoped would not take me a fortnight to knit.
On the 3rd night of Hanukkah I finished, and since it was a cold and snowy night, I presented the hat to Mr. Smith just as he was leaving to walk our Moxiedog. The next morning I found it propped up against the menorah (which was such a sweet way to say he loved it).
Mr. Smith is very happy with the way the design covers his ears and protects the back of his neck. He is very happy with the color and the softness of the Shepherd's Wool. He is not, however, happy with the prospect of having his picture taken.
Happy Hanukkah, Mr. Smith and a Merry Christmas, too!
Psst-This is post 2070 and comment number 65,000 is >< far away. You have until Sunday evening at 5:00 to comment on this post. Number 65,000 will win a prize, as will a random commenter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear reader!
Last Saturday I let the best blogging opportunity pass by. It just goes to show I am not in my right (blogging state of) mind, if I can't remember to take pictures of such a unique event. I went to Nancy Bush's Estonia Winter Market at Black Sheep Wool Co. The sad part for you, and the lovely part for me, is I was totally in the moment. Seeing friends I hadn't seen in a very long time, bumping into other knitters I know, and sorting through the piles of hand knit treasure from Estonia, swept me away.
Not only am I going to show you the treasures I bought, but you can see Cheryl's treasures on her blog, too. First, let me show the lace and colorwork gloves that feel and smell like Estonia. Their rustic wooly feels authentic, substantial and warm. As luck would have it, the cuff is long enough to cover my wrist, an added benefit for warmth.
One of the benefits of arriving early was having the full selection of items to sort through, fondle, and peruse. I took full advantage and picked up everyone of the beautiful, elegant hand knit shawls. The shawls were knit with various yarns, some wooly and rustic, others soft and drapey, and all were knit in shades of white and cream.
The minute I touched the whitest shawl on the table it cast its spell on me. As she unfurled and showed her full measure, I gasped at the elegance of knitting. Her silken fabric left me undone. She never left my hands, she would not go back to her place amongst the other shawls, she clung to me, she felt alive.
This piece of Estonian history, a shawl from Haapsalu, a traditionally knit shawl, of the Queen Silvia pattern, needed a good home...my good home.
As Vicki's post reminded me...To review-- in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (one favorite posted photo from each month), one not necessarily related to the other.
February My handwriting is terrible and it's the main reason I rarely write long hand.
March A month of no snow ended with a week of weak snow.
April The weekends go so quickly and this weekend offered a much needed respite from a very busy week.
May I've been trying to write this post for days, but my thoughts lead nowhere, and then, (just yesterday) I realized Cheryl's birthday, which is today, was the perfect way to show off my latest finished project.
June Admittedly, the items on my list of Summer Goals are easily attainable and, with the weather cooperating, the warm and sunny weekend made all but #6 a success.
As I walked around my neighborhood and, as the leaves have left the bones of trees undressed, I've been able to spot what's usually carefully hidden away. The birds do a fine job of securing their homes into the joints and joins of branches and I've have had a good time seeking out the winter abandon nests.
This one is only about 12 ft off the ground and easy to spot now that the tree is leafless.
This is such a tiny nest and the only one I could find in this very tall tree (I used the zoom just so you could see this nest). I wonder if there are more homes hidden in crooks of branches and my eyes just can't find them.
Can you spot the nest in this picture? It's very large and has been in the tree for years and years. I wonder if it's used any longer?
This dear little nest is nestled in the tangled branches of a lilac bush! It's very near the sidewalk and can clearly be seen. Hopefully no one will catch sight of it during the winter months and the little home will remain undisturbed. (I'll know where to look, or just listen, for baby birds once spring comes.)
This tree, my favorite tree, could have been designed by Edward Gorey or Tim Burton. I've searched through its dense growth quite carefully and, so far, have found nothing. Maybe I should take a pair of binoculars on my next walk and see if I can spot a hidden home.
Rather than list my favorite Christmas cookies for Carole's ToT, I'm going to take you on a little walk down memory lane.
My Mom loved to bake and she was quite proficient with doughy things. Her cinnamon rolls were beyond compare. Oh my, how I loved the yeasty, sugary, nutty (with raisins, too) gooey goodness of them. She made wonderful pies (all year round with every kind of filling you can imagine), but my favorite (her favorite, too) was lemon meringue.
My first Christmas
Halloween and Christmas were the two holidays that sent her into a kitchen frenzy of baking and candy making. She made popcorn balls (the best ever), divinity (pink and white/with nuts), fudge, with and without nuts, and her pièce de résistance, peanut brittle!! THE best ever peanut brittle (with coconut too). To make thin and crunchy pieces she would pour it hot off the stove onto a marble slab and pull it with her fingers. The little shards would melt in your mouth! It was just THE BEST EVER.
My second Christmas
The one thing we were allowed to help her make were her highly successful and totally sought out be all the neighborhood kids, was her sugar cookies. We would carefully measure the ingredients and make sure we did every step correctly. The trick to remember how many cups of flour we'd used (it's hard to keep track of 7 cups of flour), was for everyone in the room count out-loud as each cup went in. The cookie dough had to be refrigerated for hours, so we often made it the night before. (The we in this story is my Mom, me and one or two of my sisters.)
My 6th Christmas
Baking day meant hours of rolling out the dough to just the right thickness, cutting the dough with various cookie cutters, and carefully putting the shapes on the baking trays. The art to this cookie is not to over bake and Mom could tell, just by smell, the second they were cooked to perfection. We would then carefully lift the cookies from the trays and put them onto cooking racks.
Once cooled we could decorate. Mom made an icing with confectioners sugar and from there she would let us decorate as we liked. We could use gumdrops, red hots, sugar sprinkles, licorice, or tiny silver balls. Mom would also pipe the edges of a few cookies and everything looked festive and wonderful! I wish I had pictures to share, but that is not to be. However, I do have her recipe, a recipe made to be easily rolled, as well as fluffy light and soft creations.
Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings, mixing well.
In a separate bowl mix baking powder and salt with flour, then scoop flour mixture into mixing bowl with wet ingredients one cup at a time. Do not over mix. Finish by hand if needed.
Chill dough a minimum of 2 hours before using. On a floured surface roll chilled dough to a ¼” thickness and cut immediately with cookie cutters.
Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look under-baked when actually done. Do not let them brown on the edges.
When I was a kid we didn't have parchment paper, but you might find it keeps the cookie from sticking. Also, if you don't want to ice the cookies, you can sprinkle them with a little sugar before baking. This cookie is best with a glaze or with icing as it needs the added sweetness. Enjoy!
You know that moment, the moment something hits you and you say, "oh no, not again!"? I have this thing, I'm not quite sure how or why, but it's a thing with me and I do it all the time. I get into ruts. Ruts of color (extended periods of knitting with red, or blue, and now, it's neutrals), ruts of style (a year of sweaters, of socks, of shawls), and ruts of designers, (Kristen, Veera, Susan and now, Brooklyn Tweed). (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
First on my list of BT projects is Quill, a Jared Flood design inspired by his (and many a knitters) idol, Elizabeth Zimmermann. The second BT project is Breckon, which is from BT's Wool People 3, a designed by Amy Christoffers. Lastly, there is my little side trip into yet a third BT pattern, Fortnight. Yes, it is my foray into Christmas knitting.
A couple skeins of the soft and warm Shepherd's Wool (my fave!) have been languishing in my stash. I was very please when Smith consented to a row of a different color around the edge. The bit of gold sits nicely against the main color of brown.
Until purchasing the pattern I was unaware of the ear flap option. Jared uses short row shaping to create ear flaps and a neck covering at the back of the hat. The shaping is almost invisible, but it add that extra bit of warmth needed in the cold of winter. The hat should be finished in plenty of time for Smith to wear on Christmas Day, but the only thing we really want for Christmas is snow (lots of it!).