Monday, December 29, 2014

It's A Wrap!

Oh man it's hard to believe Christmas has come and gone!

I did manage to get the tree done.
Rudolph even got some lights.
After work last Monday night and over the next two days, I spent all my time preparing to host Christmas day dinner for myself and my honey's family. Including us, there were a total of 12 people. This was my first time cooking for this many and while it was a lot of work, I enjoyed the end result of sitting around the table with loved ones enjoying the home cooked meal that I put so much thought and effort into. Would I do it again? Absolutely.
Only after the table was all set, I could then focus on finishing cooking the dinner.

Our vegetarian dinner included a total of nine dishes, plus one dessert. I am still amazed that I managed to pull that one off, especially since according to my honey, they were complex dishes. Even better, is that I managed to get them to the table warm or, oh my gosh, even hot!

My menu included (all recipes are linked):
With it being a vegetarian dinner, I wanted to include a variety of items. I think I succeeded. I was told everything was delicious and here I was just praying it would all be edible.

I didn't take pictures of everything as it was finished. I completely forgot. But I do have these:
The soup I made the day before and reheated.
Leftovers I had the next night.
Somebody enjoying the rest of the green bean casserole.
Frozen Peanut Butter Pie I managed to make on Tuesday.
After dinner, gifts were exchanged, dessert was consumed and before we knew it, our guests were departing for the evening.

Between myself and the help of some elves (my honey, his mom and his cousin) all the dishes were cleaned, dried and put away. I tried desperately to clean all the crumbs up from the floor and sofa's before going to bed. After our house guest departed the next morning, my honey and I went into cleaning mode and we got the place all back in order.
I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday recovering. I had sleep I needed to get caught up on and didn't feel overly ambitious to do too much. The remainder of the long holiday weekend was spent on the couch knitting.
One of these items may have been finished during a Harry Potter moviethon! Will have to follow-up with a FO post.

All in all my Christmas was wonderful. It was all I had wanted and hoped it to be. I have to give my honey a huge thank you! He was the most supportive person during the days leading up to, during and after Christmas. He helped me whenever and wherever he could. He never hesitated to help. I am truly blessed to have him as my partner in life!

With that I leave you with one of my favorite photos from Christmas day:
Hope everyone had a beautiful holiday! Tell me, what were some of your highlights from this holiday season? Any traditions old or new?

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Five Stages

Christmas is officially 6 days away and I am wondering where the heck the time has gone?!?!?!

My honey and I are hosting Christmas this year, so I am in full on preparation mode right now. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, so while many have told me I am crazy for wanting to host, I say "Yes Please!" even though at times I may look like this:
I am actually very excited as this is our first year to be living in a home where we can have more than 1 person over to visit comfortably at a time. My honey and I have our very first Christmas tree together even though we've been together for 5.5 years and this will be the first year in a very long time where we are celebrating in our own home. So what's not to be excited about is what I say.

While my brain has been mulling over recipes, making a list (checking it twice) and finalizing the menu and grocery shopping list, I have also been trying to finish decorating. Our Christmas tree has gone through some stages during the past two weeks since we've welcomed it into our home.

It all started on December 7.

Stage 1 - Sunday Afternoon
Managed to get this 8 foot baby up to our top floor apartment. Picture honey pulling it up the steps while I am pushing it. I had moments of thinking I was going to be landing at the bottom of the stairwell. Who knew just how heavy this baby was? Apparently not I!

Stage 2 - An hour later (or so it felt)
I saw scenes from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation flashing before my eyes here folks.
But alas, all turned out well. The tree became upright even after some tricky moments of trying to secure it in the base. I was holding, while honey laid underneath the tree. I envisioned us trapped under the tree for days without food or water.

Stage 3 - Sunday Evening
It's up. It's got lights and the star is shining! Then it's determined more lights are needed.

Stage 4 - Saturday Morning (Almost one whole week later - December 13).

Conversation between me and my honey:
Me: We need to go to Home Depot for more lights.
Honey: Ok.
Me: Sooner rather than later in hopes of them not being all gone?
Honey: OK

Late Saturday Afternoon:

Honey: I am going out for coffee.
Me: What about us going to get the tree lights.
Honey: I will try and go afterwards.
Me: Well please try as I am worried that the lights we want will be all gone.
Honey: OK

Saturday Evening - 3-4 hours later

Honey: I got lights!
Me: Yay lets put them on so we can put on the ornaments.
Honey: Ok

Ok turned out to be Monday evening after work.
250 more lights later, including a super cute strand of snowflake lights . I think it still could use a few more strands, but we are calling it all good for this year.

Stage 5 - Operation Get Those Ornaments On

Um, so yeah, Stage 5 is still in the works. I've been waiting all week for the honey to have some free time to decorate the tree with me. I thought he'd want to help since this is his first tree as an adult. After a quick discussion in the car this morning, it was determined that I would start putting the ornaments on and if he could free up his work life, he would help. So come heck or high water, this tree will be finished tonight!

I've been decorating here and there in the meantime. Still need to pull out some more stuff, but I need the honey to bring the boxes down for me. We did get this cute little guy when we bought the tree...
What I love the most about him, besides his adorableness, is that he is made from the Christmas trees that didn't get sold the previous year. They cure the wood and make these little guys in three different sizes and then sell them the next year. And no he does not light up. I know that the outlet and plugs behind him makes it look like he does.

While all this Christmas craziness has been going on, I have been getting some knitting done. Been working on a couple last minute knitted gifts. Once those are done I'll pick back up with my Hermione Everyday Socks.

How are your holiday's shaping up? Going crazy? Enjoying the season? Getting knitting done?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Socks On The Needles

After I completed my Mystik Spiral Socks, it took me about a week before I started itching to cast on for my next pair of socks.

A couple of weeks ago I was home from work not feeling well when the desire hit me. I immediately went stash diving in search of the perfect yarn that was going to ease my woes.

When I came up for air, I had this beauty in my itty bitty hands and immediately marched it over to the ball winder.
Be still my beating little heart! Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in Rare Gems. I purchased this lovely during one of my last trips to Rhinebeck and it's sadly the last of it's kind in my stash.

This yarn is growing up to be a Hermione's Everyday Sock (Free Pattern on Ravelry) and it is everything I thought it would be.

Oh the coloring and stitch definition!
And how quickly this pattern knits! I made it down to the heel flap in two days!
By the end of my self imposed four day weekend, the foot was starting to emerge.
By last Friday evening the foot and toe were complete. All that is left is to knit/graft the toe closed.

I quickly snapped a picture this morning before work. Please ignore my practically ornament less tree. We finally put on the additional lights last night and after being completely exhausted from it, one ornament landed on the tree. If you look reeeaaaal close you might be able to spot it!
Tonight I am planning on sitting down and re-watching this youtube video to refresh my memory on how to knit kitchner the toe closed. This is the ONLY way I will ever close a toe again. I completely stink at sewing it closed (envision multiple undo's and pulling of my hair). When I came across this technique a year ago, it saved my knitting sanity.

Sock number two will be on the needles soon. I am also in the middle of some unexpected Christmas gift knitting. I look forward to sharing that with you soon. It's going better and faster than I anticipated which is good because my brain is in the middle of planning our Christmas dinner menu. We are hosting this year, first time ever! So easy knitting is what I can handle right now.

By the way, does anyone else notice a particular theme with my knitting these days? Here are a couple of clues:

Friday, December 12, 2014

FO: Mystik Spiral Socks

Happy Friday! Another work week is almost over and we are another week closer to Christmas. Eek!

My honey and I managed to get our 8 foot Christmas tree up this past Sunday and quickly realized we needed more lights. 350 lights for an 8 foot tree is pretty, but just isn't enough and honestly when the lights were purchased we had no idea how big of a tree we were getting. Hopefully tomorrow we'll have success in purchasing additional lights and then we can finally put all the ornaments on it.

Once the tree is all decked out, I'll share some pictures, but today I'll be sharing another FO with you!

Pattern: Mystik Spiral Socks by Josh Ryks
Yarn: Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn in Bubble Gum Hop Scotch
Needles: Knit Picks Circulars 1 1/2 (leg) and 1 (foot)
Started: August 7, 2014
Finished: November 29, 2014

This beautiful sock yarn started like this...
and ended up like this...
These are the socks that went on my European Backpacking Adventure this year.

They were on planes...
Balconies in Greece...
Ferries in the Aegean Sea...
Only to be completed and then realized there was a huge mistake...
On our last evening in Greece, I frogged the ribbed cuff and figured out I forgot to knit 11 rows right after finishing the heel gusset. I had to make the decision of whether or not I would just add the 11 rows right before the cuff or if I would frog the whole leg of the sock. I was quite perturbed with myself and couldn't make my mind up right then and there. I was sad that I wouldn't be bringing a completed pair of socks home with me.

Once home, the socks went into a very long time out. I battled with myself whether to "kind of" fix the issue and have some seriously fraternal socks or to fix the issue properly and have matching socks as much as the pattern allowed.

The perfectionist in me won out. I spent a little time the day after Thanksgiving with it and frogged the whole leg. By Saturday, I could call them complete.

In the finished picture at the top you can see the cuffs are a little fraternal. I am not entirely sure what happened. It could of been where I started the second sock in the skein and also that I had to reattach the yarn from where I cut it when I originally thought the socks were complete. (Note to self: In the future, make sure both socks match up before snipping the yarn.)

With that little issue aside, I am beyond thrilled with the final outcome. This was my first time knitting with self striping sock yarn and I am happy with my pattern choice. I knew I wanted to try something different instead of knitting traditional vanilla socks with the yarn. The pattern is straight forward and well written. I did find a little error in the pattern and will be noting it on my Ravelry project page.

In the end, I am sure I'll be knitting this pattern again and now every time I wear these socks, I will think of the fabulous time we had venturing through Italy and Greece!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

FO: Some Cloudy Day Legwarmers

It seems like forever since I have shown a completed knitted project. Well it's probably because one hasn't appeared here since June when I last showed off my finished "Iced Eucalyptus Beret".

While I have been knitting, it seems things are taking longer than they should to be completed. In my last post I did mention that I finished one of those "On The Needles For Forever" projects and promised to share all the details. I was waiting to share in hopes of obtaining a better picture, maybe a modeled one, but realized that with the way life is right now, we'd probably be waiting for a very long time.

Without further delay, I present an FO.

Pattern: Some Cloudy Day Legwarmers by Tiny Owl Knits (Link to Free Pattern)
Yarn: Sublime Yarns Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK
Needles: Size 5 Double Pointed Needles
Started: July 15, 2012
Finished: November 22, 2014
I had bought this gorgeous yarn during a visit to my sister when she still lived in Myrtle Beach. I fell in love with the squishy softness and color instantly. Sadly, this yarn is discontinued today.

I started this knit while I was still visiting the beach and within a week had the first legwarmer completed. Within a day of finishing the first one, I had cast on for the second. I didn't want to have a case of the "Second Sock Syndrome". Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. For whatever reason, the second legwarmer was put to the side and was not to be picked up again until this past November.

Anyhoo, the important thing to focus on today, is that they are finally finished. I really did enjoy knitting them. The pattern is easily memorized once you complete a few pattern repeats. They also knit very quickly. The only modification I made was to knit the cuff to 3 inches instead of the called for 2.5 inches. I love that they go over the knee. While knitting them in this DK yarn, they turned out a bit thicker and wouldn't necessarily fit down inside my knee boots as I had originally thought they would. Nonetheless, these turned out wonderful and will be worn a lot during the upcoming winter months.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conquering the WIPS

Last Friday as I was coming down with a nasty cold, I had the overwhelming desire to go through my knitting WIPs and decide what I could conquer. I know getting sick doesn't equate with conquering lists of things to do, but for some reason this kind of list helped me through my somewhat miserable weekend and yes, with the exception of going food shopping, I spent my entire weekend in my sweats on the couch knitting. Get rid of the nasty cold and it equals a perfect weekend!

I wrote a post back in June where I last talked about my big list of WIPS. You can read it here and this was a shot of my Ravelry In Progress page at the time.
I am proud to say that #1, #2 and #3 on this list moved to the FO section sometime between June and September. #7, TTL Mystery Sock 2012 was frogged.

As of Friday my In Progress Page looksed like this:
At a quick glance you can see that there have been some new projects (three to be exact) started while 10 of the original WIPS are still on the list.

After some pondering and pulling projects out of their sleepy hidey holes, I decided upon three projects in the current list to focus my sick energy on over the weekend. My Glazed Carrot Mod Podge sweater was not on that list. My purpose was to focus on older projects.

So what projects made the cut?

#1 - Some Cloudy Day legwarmers
I remember buying the yarn for this project with my sister when she still lived in Myrtle Beach. I remember rushing home and we both casted on for these legwarmers at the same time. I even bought double pointed needles so I could start them. I remember I had finished one leg warmer in less than a week. I remember casting on for the second leg and getting it almost to the finish line. I remember putting it aside, but I can't remember why.

This project made the cut for this past weekends list simply because I was thhhhhiiiiiissssss close to having it finished.

I will tell you now that as of Saturday afternoon this project became an FO. I will also tell you that even though I was really close to completing the project, it wasn't without knitting drama.

Let's just say I knitted 14 pattern rows and then when I started the cuff, realized I had 61 stitches instead of 60. After analyzing my knitting, I noticed where the extra stitch came from and that was 15 rows back. I'm pointing to the little bugger right here:
The mistake happened the last time I worked on these babies. It must of been fate for me to have made that mistake way back then because after I frogged back to the mistake on Saturday, I relooked at my pattern notes to compare the number of pattern repeats between #1 and #2 that I needed to complete before the cuff, and realized that I only needed to knit 7 rows and not the 14 that I originally did before I noticed the mistake. I am so glad I realized this mistake, because I guarantee I wouldn't of noticed it until after I bound off and snipped the yarn. Then I would of been in knitting tears.

I'll do a follow-up post soon showing the completed project with all the project details I like to include.

#2 - Mystik Spiral Socks
While this isn't one of the "older" WIPs, it was one that I felt needed my attention if it was ever going to be finished. If you remember, I started, and could of had these socks finished, while I was on my European Backpacking Adventure this summer, but on my last day abroad, I realized I missed 11 rows on sock number two, after I had already bound off and snipped the yarn. This post shows you what the pair looked like when I discovered the issue.

To fix the problem, I needed to decide if I was going to just remove the cuff, add the 11 rows and call it finished or if I was going to frog the sock from the cuff all the way down to the ankle and add the 11 rows where they belonged in the pattern.

This is what I decided:
After I frogged down to the ankle, found where I was in the pattern, I added the 11 rows that were missing and put the project aside for another day. My goal was to decide what I wanted to do with the sock and take action towards getting it closer to the FO list. Goal accomplished.

#3 - Back Bay wrap
As you can see above I started this wrap in November of 2011. Eeek! When I last worked on it, and I can't remember when that was it's been that long, probably when I first started the dang thing, I had completed two pattern repeats. That's 20 rows per repeat, so a total of 40 rows plus the setup rounds had been done. By Saturday evening, I had added another 20 or so rows:
I worked on it again all day Sunday and Monday (because I was home sick) and as of right now it looks like this:
I'd say that's some good progress. We have a total of six 20 row pattern repeats done. I believe that the pattern calls for a total of 20 pattern repeats, so I am not close to being done, but definitely heading towards it.

After putting my Glazed Carrot Mod Podge sweater aside for the weekend, I did end my Monday evening with completing sleeve #1. I plan on casting on for #2 this week, but don't anticipate completing the sweater by months end.

I think I kind of liked splitting my attention between a few different projects this past weekend. I really want to get a few more WIPs off the above list by the end of the year.

So, as I look toward my long four day weekend thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, my goals are to finish the Mystik Spiral Socks and the second sleeve of the sweater. After that, we'll see where we go.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Being A Tourist

Back in late October I got the chance to be a tourist in my own city. The last time I played this part was when my sister and niece visited me probably 3-4 years ago. My brain can't remember exactly when, I just know we went all over the place and had oh so much fun.

This time around, when my niece had her Fall break from teaching she asked if she and her boyfriend could come visit for a few days. Why of course! I didn't think twice.

As I am sitting here flipping through the pictures on my phone, I can't help but reminisce about their visit and all the fun "touristy" things we did.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite highlights.

Our Day 1 adventures began with a walk through Times Square in search of TKTS.
With TKTS not open until 2pm, we headed down to South Street Seaport. After having TKTS success and Broadway Show tickets in hand, we strolled over to the water.

It's been a long time since I have visited the Seaport. I couldn't believe how much had changed. The mall that was there is all boarded up and appears to be going under construction. One thing that hadn't changed was the ship.
From the Seaport we decided to stop for a bite to eat. If my memory serves me correctly, we had Lebanese food.
After our bellies were full, we strolled over to One World Trade Center.
Not matter where you stand, every time you look up, the building comes to a point. Of course, we also stopped by the 9/11 Memorial.
It's really beautifully done and happy that I finally visited.

From here we went over to the Hudson River and walked up to The Highline.
My day out quickly came to an end after we checked out, and sampled, some yumminess from the Broadway Bites setup at Herald Square. By this time is was early evening, I headed home as my niece and her boyfriend went to their first Broadway Show.

On Day 2 of their visit, I sent them out on their own as I had a doctor's appointment in the morning and didn't want to hold them back.

However, I was back out there with them for our Day 3 adventures. Even though it was raining for practically the whole entire day, we still made the most out of it and had some fun.

We started with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Fortunately we were walking from Manhattan into Brooklyn so the rain/wind was at our back.
Once we got off the bridge, we got our bearings and headed towards the water. We stumbled upon this beauty of a used bookstore.
This picture just captures a small portion of all the books they had. Heaven!

What visit to Brooklyn wouldn't be complete without a visit to Grimaldi's?
Best pizza ever in my opinion!

After lunch, we strolled through the neighborhood to do some architectural sightseeing and shopping.
This place must be pretty amazing, and expensive, to live in. Loved everything about it.

We also did some thrifting.
Well after my quick perusal of the racks, I planted by behind on a bench and watched the two youngens shop their hearts out. I was completely happy just watching.

Lastly, we headed back to Manhattan for dessert and landed at Veniero's.
All of this for just three people? Yes please.

Of course, before we knew it the fun had to come to an end. The next morning was time for our goodbyes, which is always hard for me. I miss having family close by, so this was extra special for me to have them visit. Can't wait for the next time!