Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's been real, 2011...

...The other night, Ricky and I were discussing 2011.  It wasn't an awful year, but it also wasn't the easiest.  We both had to face some tough things in our lives, though I feel the experiences made us grow as people in the long run.  We've also grown quite closer, helping each other out when things got tough.  These experiences, though, are a bit personal, and not meant to be written about in a public blog.  But if you know either of us personally, you know it's had its ups and downs.  There were tears, and stressed sighs, and harumphs from both of us all twelve months.  Speaking with some friends of ours, it seems the whole year was rough on many people.  I, personally, am ready to be done with the whole year and start fresh. 

That being said, 2011 had its high moments.  Our trip to Vermont was the loveliest few days I've ever spent.  I fell in love with Northern Vermont, and if we could I'm pretty sure I'd change my random musings from the 0-1-9-7-0- to random musings from the 0-5-4-0-1.

We've discussed a return to Burlington soon for another vacation, so I'm sure there will be more stories and photos from Lake Champlain in the months or years to come.

We also adopted this little guy:

And any year which involves that face has its merit.  Since February, Lewis PizzaCat has charmed and snuggled his way into our hearts.  He's grown up a lot since this photo was taken (from 1.9 lbs to 11 lbs) but he's still the snuggly baby we adore and obsess over.

So, 2011, I am glad you're going to be over.  You were rather unkind in many parts.  I'm hoping 2012 is bright and fresh and new and exciting.  I have high expectations for sure.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A hat

One of my goals for 2012 is to knit items that have been in my queue for a long time that I haven't gotten to yet, along with using up my yarn in my stash.  A perfect marriage of these two ideas came when I decided to make the #1 item in my queue since April 2008 with a random half skein that I've been holding onto for awhile.  Behold, my version of The Republic Hat.

I really like this pattern, especially since it was quick to whip up.  It took me about 24 hours to make the hat.  I started it Christmas morning and by the end of the following day, I was wearing it.  I like how the hat has the spirit of a curled brim hat knit in the round, but is a bit fancier with the garter edge and the button.  I used a bit of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky I had sitting around.  I'm not sure how much of a skein I had leftover, but I'd say half of one would do fine.  The button is from Windsor Button.

This hat is sooo warm.  I wore it yesterday when I was walking around Salem, and my head was perfectly warm.  I like slightly larger hats that can cover my ears, since I walk to the train and then to work and when it's freezing my head/ears need protection.  This will do nicely once it gets freezing and snowing in January.

I strongly recommend this pattern, since it's quick and easy to knit up and has some visual interest to it.  This would also make a great gift for someone.  I may make one for my mom or Ashley down the road.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stash organized!

Thursday afternoon, and here's my to do list, with things done crossed off:

Grown Up Friend Date with Patti.
Clean my closet. 
Clean computer room. 
Get materials for Jess' ring pillows.
Knit something with quince yarn.  
Organize stash. 
Make shepherd's pie for Ricky for dinner.  Update:  make something in crock pot (thanks, Ricky's mom!)
Find shoes for Jess' wedding.
Donate things to good will.
Fix sewing machine tension.
Make ring pillows.
Another secret project for Jess' wedding and also for Erin's wedding

So so far, I'm doing quite well.  I haven't heard from Patti or Jess yet about hanging out or if she still wants ring pillows, respectively, so those may just be on hold.  The computer room is slowly being cleaned, bit by bit each day.  The bags of good will are by the door.  Basically the sewing machine is the only thing that hasn't been attempted.

The clean closet feels great.  It's easy to manage, and I feel better about it.  I was able to throw out a lot.  (note to self:  there's no need to keep the packaging and documents affiliated with a phone you haven't had in over 4 years)

The yarn stash was a bit daunting at first, but once I decided on a process, it went quickly.  I'm glad I emptied it all out in a big pile to sort, but dear lord did my heart skip a beat seeing that huge pile at first.  It's amazing how much yarn you can accrue over the years! 
Before... eeek!

I decided to have all the lace weight and sock yarn in the small tupperware, and then devote one big tupperware to all the yarn I have that I have a lot of (i.e., I could make a sweater out of) and then the other one to all the random one skeins I have that can be for smaller projects.  The basket is still what I had it for originally, which is the ends of skeins that I can use if I want a small amount of yarn for trim or whatever.  2012 is going to be a year of knitting through my stash, so I'm hoping that if I take a photo of these containers in a year, they won't be as stuffed.  I've already knit a hat out of some leftover yarn, so I think I'm on the right track.

After... muuuuch better.

I full acknowledge that this is perhaps the most boring post I've ever written.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quince cowl

Two things have been checked off my list!  First, I made something with my Quince yarn, and secondly, I organized my stash.  The stash photos will come later in the week.  But first, I want to show off my cowl.

When Ricky and I went to Portland, I purchased two skeins of Quince.  At the time, the company was just starting out, and only had a handful of patterns.  Not thinking (I was on vacation, after all) I purchased a skein of honey and a skein of pomegranate.  They did not go together AT ALL.  So they've been languishing in my stash for awhile now.  I decided that for winter break, I needed to use it up.

Well after finishing my Christmas knitting, I got ambitious and decided to just knit something out of it for Christmas instead.  I found a simple seed stitch cowl on Ravelry, and then found an example of someone making it on a smaller scale in Quince.  I decided that this was the route I wanted to go.  I measured how long I wanted it on me and off I went.

I did a lot of work on it in a coffee shop in Cambridge waiting for my old roommates to arrive in Harvard Square and have dinner with me, and also on the train.  I've definitely been enjoying whipping out smaller projects while commuting, since I've been getting a lot of satisfaction out of finishing them in only a matter of days.  I think 2012 will have a sweater project in it, but for now, I'm just focusing my energies on smaller projects to use up some yarn and make gifts for people.

This project was insanely easy.  It was done by December 23rd and I was wearing it all day on Christmas Eve.  It's not the warmest, but I like how it's more of a "I want to be kind of warm" or "I want to look cool" cowl.  I also love the color, though after seeing it on me, it makes me question my desire to knit myself a whole sweater out of this color.  Small projects against my hair and skin tone might be best, instead of a giant one all over me. 

BTW, because I got a crock pot from Ricky's mom for Christmas, Shepherd's Pie has changed to a stew or something I can make in a crock pot.  Very excited about that one!  I think today's projects will be starting the computer room, and maybe finding shoes.  We'll see.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas knits: the boys' hats

A few years ago, I made my brothers fingerless mitts for Christmas.  While this was fun, it was perhaps a bit too ambitious to start them in December, since I was a slower knitter and barely finished them.  Or, if I recall correctly, I only finished one mitt for each and then made the other two while they were on winter break.  There we go, that's it.  This year, I decided to just stick with hats, particularly because they both lost a mitt (ugh) and also because I didn't have as much time to focus on something that small and detailed with all the other knitting projects I had to do this time of year.

I made a bit ago the Turn a Square hat by Jared Flood for Erin's boyfriend, Matt.  He liked it, and with the scrap yarn I made myself a hat.  Matt had requested another striped hat for Christmas, so I decided to make one for him out of whatever scrap yarn I had from Pete's hat. 

Because Pete's a redhead, I decided to go with browns and greens.  This is also the color of his winter coat.  Matt's looks similar to Pete's, except that his is more darker grey stripes and less brown and green.  Sam likes blue more, so I went with various colors of blue.  The skein of striping yarn for Sam also included some greys and whites, which helped not make it too blue, if that makes sense.  I really like how they turned out, and I think they both liked them.  I used Cascade 220 for both solid colors and then Noro Silk Garden for the self striping.  Noro's colors are lovely, and I like how Cascade both highlights and mellows it.  Also, it's a very warm hat, since I've been wearing mine a lot while walking to the train and then work.  Quite pleased with it.

Mum was so impressed by Sam's hat, that she's requested her own.  Fortunately, you can make two hats from a skein of Cascade 220 and a skein of Noro Silk Garden with this pattern, so I have all the materials already!  Hers will be a bit brighter of blue, but that's fine.  When I finish that hat, I'll post the photos of both that hat and Matt's hat. 

Again, here are Ricky and I modeling Christmas hats by the water.  (in case you were wondering, we went out for Breakfast, and then grabbed all the Christmas knits and took photos of them before wrapping them up)  Ricky's wearing Pete's hat, and I'm wearing Sam's. 

I can't post the rest of Christmas knitting right now since I haven't given it away yet, so I'll be posting some of the to do list accomplishments I've completed so far.  (hooray!)  My list may also have been too ambitious, because Ricky got me Price is Right for the wii and I am hoooooked.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas knits: Beth's cowl

Now that Christmas is over and most of my Christmas knits have been distributed, I'm going to blog about them.  The first will be the cowl I gave Ricky's mom Beth.  Beth's had a hard few months, and she's always been very sweet to me, so I wanted to make her a nice hand knit this year.  And, since time was of the essence, I went with a cowl.

My friend (and new mom!) Crystal of Domesticated Human recently published a cowl pattern she made for a gift using one skein of Malabrigo.  I love Malabrigo merino worsted for it's soft squishiness, and thought that Beth would as well.  I had a skein of a light purple -- I thought I'd like the color when I purchased it, but no such luck -- that I decided to use, since it's a color she'd enjoy.

Knitting this up was a breeze.  It only took a few days of knitting on the train, and I was finished.  I decided to go up a needle size to make the drape looser and also because Beth is taller and her features are larger than Crystals.  (she's like 5'10")  I'm glad I did, since it did make it a lot looser.  I loved how the dropped stitches looked, and it made for an interesting pattern.

I modeled it by the ocean to take photos for ravelry and also here.  It was definitely warm and soft, so I'm glad I picked this yarn for the gift.  I gave it to her yesterday, and she LOVED it.  So much.  Ricky was even touching it and she joked with him not to, in case it got damaged (note:  it won't, it's quite sturdy).  I'm glad I made it for her, since she definitely appreciated it and will get a lot of use out of it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On the lookout

I took this photo and told Ricky that Lewis was waiting for Santa and looking out the window for him.  I think in reality, he's watching birds, but I thought it was funny.  If only it was snowing or there was a soft reflection of Christmas lights, then it'd be perfect.  Lewis spends a large portion of the day sitting this like:  sitting on the back of the couch with his paws on the window sill, watching birds outside.  It's quite cute.

Friday, December 23, 2011


We're going to my friend from high school holiday party tonight -- dubbed Friendmas -- and the cookies are all packed and ready to go.  Chocolate and peppermint and gingerbread with lemon icing.  I hope they are well received!

I always enjoy Friendmas, because it's a nice way to see old friends and catch up when not at a wedding.  We're all just there to hang out.And now that people are settling down and pairing off, it's also nice to have a big ol' party with spouses and what not.  There's also a lot of good food.  And it's in Beverly.  So a pretty winning combination.

The rest of the weekend will be quite busy, so it's good to have this party tonight.  Christmas Eve is devoted to Ricky's family, and Christmas day to mine.  A lot of running around and time in the car, but it'll be good.

I also finished all my Christmas knitting, and they are blocking.  Tomorrow will involving taking photos to document projects, and then I'll share them here.  I must say, I think they all turned out quite nicely. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas traditions

As Ricky and I get older and celebrate more holidays together, we've decided to create our own Christmas traditions that are ours.  One that I've enjoyed two years in a row is to travel into Cambridge on a weekend and see It's a Wonderful Life at the Brattle Theatre, then walk around Harvard Square to Christmas shop, eat snacks, and enjoy treats.  Today we went into the city and did just that.

There's something I really love about The Brattle.  I think because it's a small, no frills, independent theatre that plays both large hits and old classics.  I've seen lots of movies here, and it's great seeing movies that I was unable to see on the big screen.  It also feels great supporting a small, independent theatre, something I fear is disappearing in this day and age.

After the movie, we got our standard lunch at Cafe Crema (mmmm) and a dessert at Burdicks, and walked around only slight.  It was waaaaay too cold to do our normal loop.  I saw recently that a Burdicks is opening down the street from where I work, so perhaps there will be more chocolate penguins and teas in my future.

I think it's great that the longer we're together, we're establishing our own traditions for holidays and memories.  Our trip to see It's A Wonderful Life is something I'll look forward to every year for a long time.  It's a nice wintertime date day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Break Goals

It's like "mini resolutions".

One of the joys of working in education is that I have lots and lots of holidays off.  I also have the week between Christmas and New Years off, as the college closes.  This is, especially after years in the private sector, completely magical.  The whole school is off, and there's no pressure to check email or catch up.  I love it.

Many of my friends, however, do not have this time off, so I find myself with a week almost completely to myself.  This is okay with me, though, as I'm using it as a week to catch up on things.  A mini-GSD week, as it were.  I made a checklist, which I will update as that week progresses:

Grown Up Friend Date with Patti.  My friend/old roommate is a teacher, so we both have a week to ourselves.  We've resolved to grab lunch and catch up.

Clean my closet.  It's become a catch all for all my crap, and now I can't see the bottom of the floor or the crap I've thrown in there.  Time to tackle.

Clean computer room.  Not as bad as the closet.  This is the room where we put things that we don't want Lewis to eat.  But it needs some order of semblance.

Get materials for Jess' ring pillows.  I'm in a wedding in March, and I've been asked to make two ring pillows for it:  one is pink, and the other is the color of The Boston Bruins.  (I'll probably be leaving out gold or just have it as an accent)

Knit something with quince yarn.  I have a ball of this, that's been sitting in my stash since I purchased it in July of 2010.  I want to wear it.  Probably as a cowl.

Organize stash.  With all the Christmas knitting, there are balls of yarn everywhere.  And it's chaos.  I need to make it not be chaos.

Make shepherd's pie for Ricky for dinner.  I love a recipe I found for this that has ground turkey, lots of veggies, and no tomatoes.  I think it'll be a dinner one of the nights, since it is a bit time consuming.

Find shoes for Jess' wedding.  I need a pair of pewter heels.  I've been a giant failure to date in finding a pair that I like and don't hurt my feet.  This is the week to find those shoes.

Donate things to good will.  This will free up some closet floor space.

Fix sewing machine tension.  It's been wanky for a year now, time to fix it so I can use it!

Make ring pillows.  Photos will be posted of this, I am sure.

Another secret project for Jess' wedding and also for Erin's wedding.  Secrets secrets.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Name that tune

Today an ensemble was playing a song in the room next to my office, and it got stuck in my head.  I knew the song, but couldn't place it.  I then spent about 15 minutes googling various things to try and find it.  I knew the following things:

--It was from the late 60's/early 70's
--It was used in an old game show
--It was also used in an old meme this girl Chloe I went to high school with used to love when we were in high school.

And (not) surprisingly, it was hard anything on the internet using all of those criteria!

After lunch, I decided to try to find it using the instrument that I heard playing it -- marimba -- and lo and behold, I FOUND THE SONG.

Spanish Flea by Herb Alpert.  You will also recognize it as the bachelor music from The Dating Game:

Note:  I changed the video, because I found a better one in all its 60's television music spot glory.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Midnight Breakfast

I learned earlier in the year that my college President would be retiring.  He put in 12 good years, and was all-around liked by the community, even naming a building after him in celebration of a job well done.  HC's website has been marking the "lasts" of Fr. McFarland's tenure, which is bittersweet for sure.  But today, I read about a "last" that for some reason hit really close to home.

Fr. McFarland is serving his last Midnight Breakfast with the senior staff at HC.  I don't know why, but this struck a chord with me, as Midnight Breakfast was one of my favorite memories of college.  Every night of Finals Week, staff and faculty members would stay out late and serve breakfast to the overtired, overworked Crusaders.  It was a nice way to break up days of stressful studying and paper writing (and for me, play directing) by meeting friends in Crossroads to read, edit papers, and drink way too much coffee while eating egg sandwiches.  I remember in those broke college student days making sure I budgeted enough in that last week to get orange juice, an egg sandwich, and that side of bacon to stuff into said egg sandwich. 

I know that others went regularly, but I mainly remember meeting up with my friends Tim, Jess, and Karin at Midnight Breakfast.  We were also the crew who spent way too much time in the campus center on couches, reading and drinking coffee and being slightly bitchy.  I also remember making plans to see people or study with certain classmates at Midnight Breakfast.  It was the place to go when being in your room or one of the libraries was a bit too much.

Fr. McFarland would always be there night one, happy to scoop out homefries to the busy students, always trading in his priestly attire for jeans and a plaid shirt.  I don't know why, but this always charmed me. 

So I'm sad to see Fr. McFarland leave the community, and it makes me think fondly of my four years at college all over again.  I only hope the next president enjoys his time at midnight breakfast, and has a trusty plaid shirt to don while scooping out eggs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A big day for a little guy

Ummm, I'm the cutest cat ever.
Today Lewis turns one!  We didn't adopt him until February, so we didn't know the little peanut until he was about 9 weeks old.  It's hard to believe, though, that my baby kitten is now a kid cat. 

(note, what I'm writing next points that I may be a crazy person when it comes to my cat)

Every morning, when my morning alarm goes off, Lewis comes running from wherever he is in the house and jumps on my chest and immediately starts purring and cuddling.  I honestly can say in all my cat-owning years, I've never met a cat who is that affectionate and snuggly.  So to the haters... cats can be loving if they are special cats.

Anyways, this morning after he ran in to snuggle me before I got out of bed, I sang him happy birthday and then treated him to his favorite cat food (which is going out of business... that's a story of meltdowns for another day).  Ricky also gave him some yogurt.  I'm sure we'll do something equally crazy tonight.  That being said, my coworker told me she makes her dog a carob cake every year for her dog's birthday... so on the sliding scale, I feel like I'm looking pretty good.

So today is just a little shout out to my favorite cat, Lewis PC.  And when I say he's a little guy... it's true.  He's only 11 lbs.  The photo is of him sitting on the back of the couch and having his paws on the windowsill as he looked out the window at birds, cars, and leaves.  It was quite cute.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And... in tribute to everyone's favorite fake WWI Vet who's also a fake Korean War Vet

It's been real, Harry Morgan.

Seventy Years

70 years and never forgotten...

Making my apartment prettier, one minor art project at a time

I needed a bit of a hiatus after posting (mostly) every day for a month.  It's tiring!

I wanted to share a neat project I just completed to make my apartment look a little nicer.  Ricky and I don't have a headboard, mainly because we want to wait and get a real bed once we have a house/upgrade to a Queen mattress.  In the meantime, I wanted to make something to give our bed a bit more substance.

A while ago, I received a postcard from my friend Kirsten.  It was the Penguin Books cover of The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield.  I've always loved the look of Penguin Books, and asked where she got the postcard.  It turns out there's a postcard set that sells 100 popular Penguin Books covers as postcards for quite cheap.  I purchased it, and decided to make collages of the book covers and frame it to make a cool "headboard".

Ricky made one and I made the other.  We went through all the covers and "claimed" which ones we wanted to use.  They were either books that meant a lot of us personally, or book covers that looked neat.  I bought two posters and two frames, along with some rubber cement.  We lined them up, glued them to the poster, and then framed the posters. 

I really liked how it turned out.  The colors are varied, but because they were all made by the same publishing company, the colors work well together and look similar enough.   We're going to try to hang them later in the week, and after that, I'll take more photos of it.

I can't stress enough at how easy this project is.  We have extra postcards, so we're going to make one for the living with just the titles (i.e., no covers with actual artwork on it, just the plain books) over the winter.  I'll take photos of that, too.