Friday, December 8, 2017

Decorations Delivered

I like using greens to decorate for Christmas, and debated buying some bunches when I was out searching for glitter-free poinsettias. I decided against it at the time, thinking that a walk in the woods at my mother-in-law's this weekend would do me good, and I could cut plenty of pine, cedar, and holly myself.

But then these guys pulled up early yesterday morning. They are "my" tree guys, but they were here to trim my neighbor's trees. They wanted to use my driveway, apologized for the noisy chipper but chuckled politely when I asked them to use it on the quiet setting, and got to work.

I got a little more excited when they moved the truck and I saw that they were also going to trim my neighbor's pine tree. I ran out to talk to the guy on the ground and after he handed me a hard hat, I asked him if he minded if I cut some of the greens that they were trimming. He told me to take all that I wanted, so I got my clippers and stood back in my hard hat. (Sorry there's no selfie; he already thought I was a little odd.)

Thanks, guy in the bucket. The best greens are a little higher up.

Yes, please trim some for me from the very tippy-top!

How lucky I am to have a big basket of decorations delivered! I haven't done anything with them yet, but my hands smell delightfully piney and I've got loads of greens to decorate with. Thanks, tree guys!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Aside from a few poinsettias, I haven't decorated much (yet), but I have been noticing decorations in my travels. So today,
Three Interesting Christmas Decorations.

Remember these trees at the tree farm next to my mother-in-law? I was at my mil's earlier this week, and decided to walk over for a closer look. I talked to Harry (he runs the tree farm) and he told me the trees are sprayed with a latex colorant. He further explained that Christmas trees have been sprayed green by tree farmers for many years (Harry called this green spraying "just a touch-up".) This is usually done to treat chlorosis, a natural yellowing of the needles caused by shorter day length, because it makes the trees look healthier and easier to sell (I had no idea, and feel a bit deceived and disturbed. We've always gotten a real tree, but real trees may not be completely real. Hmm ... ) A few years ago, someone got the bright idea that if they were spraying the trees green, then other colors would be good, too. Harry said this type of spraying is labor-intensive because each tree needs to be manually sprayed for even coverage, and it can only be done when the temperatures are above 40 degrees. He thought they were eye-catching, but has only sold two painted trees so far. Interesting, but not for me. 

While I was at Lowe's looking for poinsettias that were not artificially colored or sprayed with glitter, I came upon this "handmade" amaryllis with no need to water. Curious? Here's what it looks like.

It seems like the bulbs are dipped in some sort of rubbery wax, and then a circular spiked base is stuck into the bulb so it will stand on its own. This one is budded and getting ready to bloom, so I guess these "handmade" amaryllis do work. Interesting, but still not for me.

Lastly, someone has given Disgruntled Shopper a hat. She doesn't look any less disgruntled but she does look slightly more festive. Interesting, and this one I like.

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

Maybe you remember last week when I hoped to have a completed pair of mitts by today? If you don't remember, that's just fine, because this is all I've got.

Outlander is the cause of Kat's short row shaping problems, and I place the blame for my lack of progress squarely on Amazon and Comcast. I've been chatting daily with Amazon customer service, and knitting during these surreal conversations. Every conversation seems to end with "please be patient; your package will be delivered tomorrow", but tomorrow hasn't arrived for the past four days. I should know better than to knit in situations like this, and all the unraveling I've done to correct my mistakes has finally taught me. 

But this morning Comcast joined in the fun. I usually start my day with tea, emails, blogs, and some work, but without internet this morning, it was just tea. After investigating things on my end with no fix, I had to call Comcast. I had returned a non-working modem several weeks ago, but it seems they had mistakenly decided to deactivate my working modem last night at midnight. The good news is that I was busy enough resolving the Comcast issue that I didn't have time to chat with Amazon. 

So tomorrow is a new day, and I am starting anew by following Kym's process for starting my morning with tea and knitting. No internet, no customer service, no emails, just centering and meditating with knitting. I feel better just thinking about it. 

What are you making and reading?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

And One for Me

I love all kinds of books, but children's picture books hold a very special place in my heart. Many happy memories with my own boys come from reading to them, and I worked in elementary and middle school libraries for lots of years. Now that my sons are grown, and I don't have a good local book store, I don't often get a chance to browse and appreciate wonderful new picture books.

But I do have five great-nephews and two great-nieces, ranging from four months to 16 years old, and I'm the great-aunt that gives them books. (Books may not be a child's first choice in gifts, but they're not quite as bad as Ralphie's pink bunny suit or underwear.) I shopped on Amazon last weekend and a big box o' books just landed on my porch. It was almost like Christmas (for me)!

I ordered some old favorites, along with some new ones, hopefully choosing books tailored to each child's age and interests.

But there was one book that I just couldn't stop thinking about, The Antlered Ship, written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by the Fan Brothers (the same siblings that wrote and illustrated The Night Gardener).

I'm not exactly sure why, but once I read the description and saw the illustrations, I was hooked. This book was in and out of my cart many times, and in the end, I just ordered it, with no specific recipient in mind. I'm so glad I did.

It's a creative and beautiful story with gorgeous illustrations that carry me away. I had intended to gift it to someone once I had a chance to read it, but that may not be happening. So far, I've resisted buying yarn, adult fiction, tea, wine, alpaca hats and scarves, fountain pens, and a cutting board made from whiskey barrel staves for myself while Christmas shopping for others, but this time I had to give in. I'm happy to give the gift of books, and one for me.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In Which I Deal with BS*

*Brussels sprouts!

The garden has been done for a while now, with only the Brussels sprouts remaining. John wanted to pick them a month ago, but I kept hearing my grandmother saying that they are always better after a few hard frosts. That finally happened, so I decided it was time to quit procrastinating, get out there, and deal with them.

 I yanked them all out,

then cut off the leaves and the roots. Some of the stems were big and tough enough that I had to try a bigger tool than pruning shears. Here's my gardening tip of the day: don't use the saw to try and cut through Brussels sprouts stems. It won't work (and you might end up saying bad words).

So I left the roots on and sat outside at the picnic table to pick the sprouts off.

Why, yes, this did feel like a lot of work for not too many sprouts, especially when they still needed to be cleaned, trimmed, and blanched.

I just guessed at how long to blanch the sprouts because I had a combination of tiny little ones and slightly more normal sized ones. If Barbie ever grows Brussels sprouts, I'm pretty sure they'll resemble the miniature one on the left.

Lots of tedious work yielded only five packs of sprouts for the freezer, but that is better than none, and I don't have to deal with BS for another year!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Peace Be With You

Beginning today, The Healthy Knitter is hosting Project Peace for the second year, and who doesn't need more peace in their life? This year's pattern is a lovely shawl with a feather and fan lace edge; you can find the pattern here on Ravelry. You can also check Michelle's blog every day from today through the Winter Solstice for some peaceful reading and an opportunity to incorporate peaceful strategies into your life.

My own Peace Project is a little different this year. I've favorited and purchased the pattern, but I don't think I'm going to be knitting it (at least not now). I complained about how long the Peace Cowl took me last year, but I really do like it and wear it often. So I'm going to be knitting last year's pattern with some very special alpaca worsted that I got in Montana. 

To promote more peace, I've decided that there are no rules, no judgement, and no deadlines for this project. It might be nice to finish it in time to wear this winter, but if not, I'm betting winter will also arrive again next year at this time. I hope that just feeling this lovely yarn flowing through my fingers is going to bring some peace every day, no matter whether I knit ten stitches, ten rows, or ten pattern repeats. 

And if you need something to help the peace process, here is the Campari Spritz from Mary. Delicious and beautiful! Mary did warn that it might be a little more bitter than I was used to (and it was), so mine has an added glug of orange juice. I wanted to try this one because I think Mary may be posting two more cocktails tomorrow! 

So cheers to the weekend, and cheers to peace, however you can achieve it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Three Thoughts on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Some day I'm going to actually knit one of these medals.  © elf518

1.  We did it! Congratulations to everyone who made it through 30 days of posting. It's always nice to set a goal, and accomplish it (even though on some days this one was tough going)!

2.  You did it! You are the ones who chose to use your valuable time to read and comment. I realize this is a big deal (especially because there is so much to read during NaBloPoMo!), and I feel honored and grateful for all of you who take the time to read. Thank you!

3.  I am very glad it's done! Happy December!

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.