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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

Now that my favorite mitts have turned up, I was happy to do a little unraveling for Unraveled Wednesday. I was only halfway into the ribbing on these replacement mitts and there are too many other projects calling, "Knit me! Knit me!", so a spare pair can wait.

I've been plugging away on my gradient Hitchhiker. Last night John asked if there was something wrong with the dyeing and I explained that it was a gradient and meant to look like that. He just shrugged and said he like the dark blue, but not the color change. Good thing I'm not knitting it for him!

I'm putting this photo here as motivation for myself to get going on these mitts for Ryan. I did finally talk to him about how long he wanted them, but I've worked on them very little since then (and I do want to finish them in time for Christmas). Next week I hope to be showing you a photo of a completed pair of mitts. (Feel free to place your bets!)

I finished Promise Me, Dad last week, and while it gave me interesting insights into Joe Biden as a person and politician, his grief was sometimes almost too much to listen to. He has led an extraordinary life, filled with tragedy, profound grief, and triumph, but has still maintained his humanity and hope. In the book, Biden cites Immanuel Kant's "Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for", and he is working hard in numerous ways to make sure that he has those things in his life. I'm still listening to The Golden Compass, and it's full of much more excitement and adventure than I had remembered.

What are you making and reading?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What Is It?

Today's post is simple, straightforward, and short. I've searched through my bag o' blog topics, and this is just about the last one left.

Does anyone have any idea what this is? My sister-in-law found it years ago on a Pacific beach in California. She loves new and interesting things from nature, so she had to collect it and bring it back to Pennsylvania in her suitcase.

She doesn't know what it is, and over the years we've discussed and researched it a lot, but haven't had any luck in identifying it. We've both asked "plant people" that we know and I showed the photo to folks at our Extension Services, but so far nobody has a clue. We've always assumed that it was some sort of plant or blossom growing upright on a stem that she is holding, but the last time we were together speculating (and enjoying lots of elderflower cordial mixed with St. Germain), John had an idea we had never considered.

He hypothesized that maybe it actually grew this way, and the parts now at the bottom might be roots with just one stem growing upwards. Either way, we still don't know.

It may be a long shot, but I'm hoping it looks familiar to someone (and I've got nothing else to write about today). Thanks in advance for any clues, or even creative or humorous guesses!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Good, Not So Good, Fun, Weird, Lovely, and Great

Some scenes from the weekend:

I had a good time visiting with the llamas while Christmas shopping at WoodsEdge Farm on Saturday morning.

Not so good was the rest of the day spent with John in the ER while they checked out the "cobwebs" and light flashes in his eye. The ophthalmologist thought his problem was most likely a small retinal tear that should heal on its own. He has a patch but won't let me take or share a pirate photo.

I had fun shooting my bow on Sunday afternoon. It felt really good to get outside in the fresh air and shoot multiple rounds.

I shot at my mother-in-law's house, and she lives next to a Christmas tree farm. I thought the pink, blue, and purple trees were just plain weird, but to each his own, I guess.

I was treated to a lovely sunset after I took a walk through the woods at my mil's. I much prefer the hues of pink and purple in the sky than on spray-painted trees.

And Mary's Spiced Rum Cocktail was just great! It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time after getting home from the ER. The spiced simple syrup is every bit as good as Mary says, and I enjoyed some in my tea on Sunday. I haven't yet tried the Campari Spritz, but that is what I'm looking forward to tonight. So cheers to Mary and her sister Karen, cocktail geniuses; cheers to the week ahead, and cheers to the last few days of NaBloPoMo!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Guess What I Found!

I've been searching for my lost mitts, and it was really beginning to bug me because the beige pair were my favorites. I got in my car yesterday to head to the alpaca farm, spied my ice scraper, and all of a sudden I knew were they were.

This is a cupboard in our barn where John stores car stuff (complete with help from the kids the first time we painted the barn.)

One morning a few weeks ago I went out to my car and discovered I needed to scrape the windshield. Somehow my good scraper had gotten put away, so I needed to look for it. I was carrying my mitts, set them on the pile of barn gloves when I opened the cupboard (see them there on the top, just to the right of the red oil funnel?), grabbed my scraper, closed the cupboard, scraped the windshield, and went on my way, leaving my mitts just where I had put them.

I know there's no frost on the windshield in this photo, but I was thrilled to find my mitts and put them on immediately. There was enough light for a photo and I liked the reflection, so I wanted to celebrate their glorious return.

It made my day to finally remember where I had put them, and finding them almost made up for the fact that I had carelessly misplaced them and forgotten where for a few weeks. My blue pair is still missing, but I have high hopes they'll show up in some slightly interesting place.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Not a Woolly Bear

I found this caterpillar hiding under a pile of leaves and got all excited about what an all-black woolly bear meant for the severity of winter.
I checked The Old Farmer's Almanac, but they just told me that the more black there is, the more severe winter will be. That doesn't bode well.

My next source, the National Weather Service, went into a lot of detail about whether the head or tail is dark predicting the severity of the beginning and end of winter, and if the caterpillars are traveling north (mild winter) or south (cold winter). This was more complicated than
I really wanted, but it did lead me to my third source.

I learned that this isn't an all-black woolly bear at all, but rather a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. It has distinctive red bands between segments, but apparently no weather prediction abilities.

I haven't found any real woolly bears around here, but the "Winning Worm" (the overall winner of the 1,000 entrants in woolly worm races) at the Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival seems to predict that it will be a fairly average winter. Nothing says excitement like woolly bear races!

Friday, November 24, 2017


This baking happened on Wednesday when I wrote this, but I'm posting it today because it's about as close as I can get to taking a day off during NaBloPoMo. In real life on Friday, I'm eating pumpkin pie for breakfast, still in my pajamas, knitting, reading, and that's my plan for the rest of the day.

My family has always loved crescent rolls, and it started with the kind that came in the tube. The boys liked to whack them on the counter to open them, helping to roll them up, and enjoyed eating them even more. As they got older and I had more time, I decided that I could make better crescent rolls than the tube kind. My first attempts were the full-on roll out the dough five times, spread with butter and laminate kind, which were delicious but also took eight hours and loads of work. As Ryan put it, they had a very high work:deliciousness ratio. Over the years, I've changed and modified things to arrive at a roll that still tastes wonderful, but doesn't make me crazy in the preparation. A much lower work:deliciousness ratio!

I cheat and use my bread machine to make the dough. I think it does a much better job of kneading a really smooth dough than I can.

After the dough is made, it goes into my bread bowl to rise for about 90 minutes.

Then comes the fun part - rolling, cutting, and shaping the dough into actual crescent rolls. John made my rolling pin for a Christmas gift one year and it's the perfect weight and smoothness to roll this dough easily. I love it and always welcome a chance to use it.

Next, the formed rolls rise for about an hour before the real excitement of baking them. I wish I could somehow attach the delicious smell!

And voilĂ , four dozen crescent rolls! It looks like a lot, but we eat them with Thanksgiving dinner, with leftovers, and Justin has been known to eat six at a time for breakfast. Hopefully a few will be left to enjoy with turkey soup, but we will have them all gone in just a few days. 

*The Great Bonny Baking Show
Paul and Mary from The Great British Baking Show would probably hate these since they are not uniform or real croissants, but guess what? They're not invited (but at least I don't have any soggy bottoms). 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Three Four things I am grateful for:

These guys

This guy (That's John picking peas.)

This stuff

I'm also grateful for all of you who take the time to read my ramblings, and maybe even comment. I appreciate everyone who visits and love the idea that we're all part of a knitting, making, reading, supportive community. Thank you!

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of love and gratitude, and if it's just Thursday for you, I wish you the same!

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Opposite of Unraveled

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

This week I'll spare you yet another photo of my unfinished hitchhiker, and instead show you the pair of fingerless mitts I just cast on to replace my errant ones. I've just barely started but I firmly believe that with a new pair on the needles, the old misplaced ones will show up sooner. I like the yarn and the pattern, and even I (the slowest knitter in the world) should be able to finish these soon(ish). 

While I was digging through the stash I also found the yarn I had set aside for a cowl for Justin. He works outside in upstate NY, so I thought a nice warm alpaca cowl is just what he needs. He may be hesitant at first, but the pattern is called Just Try It ... which is what I'll tell him if he seems skeptical. Both the mitts and the cowl are easy, round and round knitting, just what is called for during some rushed Thanksgiving preparations and a relaxing not-shopping day on Friday.

I finished A Stash of One's Own last week and quite enjoyed it. Like any collection, there were some authors that I enjoyed more than others, and highly recommend Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's eloquent piece and Franklin Habit's poignant essay. I started listening to The Golden Compass because I want to read The Book of Dust prequel. I think I read the trilogy with Ryan when he was about ten, and that was 17 years ago, far too long ago for me to remember much of the story, so a re-read is in order. I also began Promise Me, Dad, made even more heartrending because Joe Biden narrates it himself. 

What are you making and reading while your pies bake?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Heresy and Sacrilege

I've knit lots of fingerless mitts, mainly for Ryan, but also a few pairs for my sister and myself.

Eight pairs for Ryan, plus two WIPs

Two green pairs for my sister, the two others are mine

When it started to get chilly and my hands got cold, I went to my knits pile in the armoire, expecting my fingerless mitts to be there. They weren't, so in the Kon-Mari way, I took everything out. I got rid of a few sweaters, etc. that were no longer bringing joy, refolded and put everything back, but still no mitts. I spent the next few days searching - in the family winter accessories box, coat pockets, my car, but no luck. I was at Walmart, saw these for $2.00, and bought them with the intention of knitting a new pair for myself soon.

I met a friend for lunch, and before we even had a chance to say hello, she grabbed my hands and cried, "Heresy and sacrilege!" She thought it was awful to be wearing less-than-ideal purchased mitts instead of something hand knit, and I agree. So as soon as I finish a Hitchhiker, cast on a Match and Move, complete two other pairs of mitts and a hat for Ryan, and a pair of mitts and a cowl for Justin, there will be more fingerless mitts for me, declared the slowest knitter in the world. Maybe my lost pairs will show up if I actually cast on a new pair, she said hopefully. It's worth a try!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bits and Pieces

Some random bits and pieces from my weekend:

We have cleaned up most of the garden, but John has been nagging me to trim these purple cone flowers that have gone to seed. I've steadfastly refused because the goldfinches love them, and I love to see the goldfinches. Plus, I think they look lovely in their own way.

Our leaves have been a big disappointment this year, with some falling while they are still green and lots of drab brown. I did find a few red oak leaves while I was raking the piles of brown and was inspired to create an autumn tableau.

When you have lots of carrots to use up, need a vegetable with dinner, but want it to taste like pie, carrot souffle might be just the thing.
(I think it's even better if you only use 1/4 c. brown sugar.)

Just in case you're making Thanksgiving preparations, it looks like the date may have been changed. This sign is to alert people to street closures for the Turkey Trot in our town which is always on Thanksgiving, but when I stopped by the borough office to let them know that Thanksgiving is on 11/23, they insisted that 11/24 was the date on the work order, so that's what they had to program on the sign. They would, however, "bring my concerns to those in charge".

C'mon squirrels! You're supposed to hide the walnuts for winter, but it's clear that you've just given up.

Hope your weekend was a good one!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What's for Dinner?

Sometimes Justin sends me music links, and he has a pretty good idea of what songs I might like, so I'm always grateful for his thoughtfulness. Other times he sends me links to recipes, but I think he might have a slightly different motivation with these. The recipes are interesting, but I think they are things that he would like. I almost always tell him that I'll make whatever the latest recipe is for him when he's home next, especially because this is a young man that dislikes cooking enough that he complains if he has to make spaghetti. Here are a few of the most recent ones.

Bacon Cheeseburger Bombs - I rarely make food that has "Bombs" in the title or that calls for refrigerated biscuit dough, but I did try these. I thought they were a bit too much work, but the taste was okay. I think I would prefer to just make decent full-sized bacon cheeseburgers instead of bombs.

Bacon Wrapped Cheesesteak Meatloaf - I haven't made this yet, but am seriously considering it. I'm a little unsure about how fiddly this will be and wonder how frustrated I'll get trying to roll everything up, but I'm willing to give it a try. 

Pickle Egg Rolls - I thought this one was a joke when Justin sent it, but when he said "Looks really good to me! It would be awesome if you made them!", I figured this might be food that only a 24-year-old could love. I like the ingredients separately, but together and fried, they honestly sound a little repulsive to me.

I don't know if Justin will be able to be here for Thanksgiving, but if he is, we may be having Pickle Egg Rolls as an appetizer. That's why I searched two different grocery stores for what seems to be an "exotic" ingredient around here and now have a pound of egg roll wrappers in my refrigerator. Never let it be said that I don't love my son; I'm even willing to fry cheese and bacon-stuffed pickles for him!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sky Watcher

I've been trying to time our walk so we're at the top of the hill in the cemetery when the sun sets. Here are two of my favorites from this past week.

Since we've lost about four minutes of daylight this week and the same next week, I'm not sure I can be in the right place at the right time to capture too many more sunsets.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mum's the Word

We used these mums as decorations at the 40th wedding anniversary party we threw for my in-laws. There had been some debate about waiting until their 50th anniversary, but we were very glad we hadn't delayed when my father-in-law died the next year. Looking back at that party is poignant, but filled with good memories (but I digress). I can't throw out plants, so I brought some of the mums home and planted them. These have been growing and spreading in my front flowerbeds for about 20 years, and they are always a delight when they bloom.

They don't bloom until late October-early November, so they seem to serve as a great source of pollen for many bees and a stopping point for other insects when there aren't many other flowers around.

The best one of all was this visitor.

He visited on November 6, very late for monarchs to be in this area, but seemed glad to have found a place to rest and warm his wings. (You can tell it's a male from the black spots on his hind wings.) He's also far away from the usual monarch flyway in NJ, so I do hope rest and some pollen helped him find his way to Mexico.