[travel] Boulder City, Nevada

I was away last week for work- our annual meeting. I stayed at a very nice resort in Lake Las Vegas and my room had a great view:

Sunrise view from hotel balcony

There was a lot of commuting back and forth between Henderson and Boulder City. I did get to see Hoover Dam on the first day:

Back side of Hoover Dam.

And visited an amazing quilting store:

Visited an amazing quilting shop... ❤️💛💚💙💜

Unfortunately, I got very sick. Very, very, should-I-go-to-the-hospital?-sick. I don't know if it was the flu (I had body aches and chills/fever- I felt like I fell down a flight of stairs) or food poisoning, but I was not well for days. I drank water/Gatorade non-stop to hydrate but I didn't really feel better until the night before I returned home.  

I did go into Las Vegas to gamble on the last night with a friend from back home. I didn't do well but it was fun and I get to say I played poker at Caesar's Palace.

The last morning, I took a drive through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area during sunrise:

Sunrise along Lake Mead Parkway

Lake Mead.

I did bring home a few souvenirs. I stopped by an alpaca shop to see what they had... other than this army of alpacas...

Alpaca army...

There was some yarn here but it was overpriced and didn't feel great (totally felt acrylic- shame!). I did get an alpaca pillow cover for the cats to use as a mat at home:

Panda alpaca mat

It's SO cute and it's SO soft. I put it on one of the sofas and when the sun is shining on it, I'm seriously jealous of whatever cat is napping on it.

It was a good trip. Not great. I really had no remarkable meals while I was there (wasn't up for any booze or weird food). I'm glad I got to do some sight-seeing on the first day before I got sick. But I would definitely go back. 


[quilting] Country 9 Patch Quilt

On to another quilt. I had some charm packs of 5-inch county(ish) floral squares. The last quilt top I made was a bunch of simple 4-squares. This time I'm doing 9 patch squares. I cut some plain white 5-inch squares from a bolt of muslin that I have for the center of all the squares. I laid out a design plan:

Going to try making a new quilt top with misc charm squares while on vacation this week. I placed all the squares and stopped fiddling with them so the hard part is over.

Then I picked everything up and stacked them in sewing order (Santana was running across the squares on floor and kicking them all out of place). First the dark blues:

Four 9-squares done. Sixteen more to go... #quilting

Then lighter blues:

Four more squares... #quilting

Then the reds:

Four more squares... onto the reds. #quilting

And pinks (you can't mess them up after they've been sewn together, Santana):

Pink squares done. Just have another four to do and then time to think about putting them all together with borders. #quilting

I still have the last row of light browns to sew. I will cut and add some simple white borders around everything- hopefully the quilt will end up large enough that I only need to get some backing and binding fabric. I might mix up the 9-squares for the final design- rather than doing bands of color. We'll see how it goes.


[cooking] Pesto Star Bread

If given a choice, I will always choose savory over sweet. I did a cinnamon star bread as the King Arthur Flour bakealong recipe last November. The December challenge was the same recipe- but make a savory version. Yessss. 

Pesto Star Bread

It's pretty. It's tasty. It's pretty tasty. And quite easy. Make the dough, divide it up, roll it out and start layering. I smeared each layer of mine with a little pesto and mozzarella cheese.

Pesto Star Bread

Cut, twist, pinch into a star:

Pesto Star Bread

Let it rise again. It puffs up and the tips of my stars came apart but that's okay:

Pesto Star Bread

Bake it and try not to eat it all at once. It was great as is but I wish I had had a little cup of marinara to dip the pieces in to. Next time, next time.


[crochet] Finished unfinished doily

I started a new doily last summer but never got around to finishing it. I rain out of the main color that I was using and planned on switching to a different color- but didn't like how that looked, so I just stopped before a new motif started and blocked it. 

A little #crochet #doily for my mom.

Probably only 9 inches in diameter; not very large but big enough to look nice under a vase or something. Gifted to my mom for Christmas.

I've got to add some doilies to my to-do list for me. I have a book of 99 Small Doilies that I love to work in a heavier size 3 thread (rather than the thinner size 10).


[knitting] Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

Over the holidays, after all my gift knitting/crocheting was done, I stash-busted some leftover sock yarns to make house slippers:

New simple garter stitch slippers 🔥 #simplegarterstitchslippers

Quick and easy. The pattern is free on Rav: Simple Garter Stitch Slippers

I even made another pair:

New pair of slippers- stash busting leftover sock yarn. Photobomb by Penny. #simplegarterstitchslippers #knitting #knitslippers

They're the same yarn/colors as my Kansas City Socks. I had two  leftover balls of the confetti brown. The slippers are knit with a double-strand of sock yarn so I knit both slippers at the same time, from both end of the balls. It wasn't so bad until I starting nearly the ends of the yarn and really had to count rows and go back and forth from one slipper to the other to use up every possible inch of yarn. Once the brown was gone, I just finished both toes and seamed in teal.

This second pair of slippers ended up a little small for me, so I might gift to my mom for her birthday.


[crochet] Owl

Another Christmas gift for my niece:


Pattern: Owl Henriette (available on Rav, not free but well worth it- clear instructions, lots of variants shown)

Yarn: Leftover bits and bobs of this and that in the stash

I always say I'm going to make more amigurumi but when I look at all the pieces:

Will be an owl, soonish. Just have to block a few pieces. #crocheting #amigurumi

I think, "Yeaaahhh... I don't want to sew all that stuff together." But it really only takes an hour of dedicated whipstitching to pull it all together. And it's pretty forgiving; things can be a little crooked and it will look more cute and homemade.

The only other things I needed besides yarn for this project were white felt (for the eye background) and black safety eyes.




He (she?) can even stand up, which is nice:


Very cute and very soft (they grey yarn has a decent amount of angora in it). I have a little pile of Ewok pieces that need to come together... eventually.


[knitting] Bumblebee Dress

The little sister dress was so cute, I decided to make another- this time with DK-weight yarn.  I made the 12-month-old size and with the heavier yarn/bigger needles, it worked up rather quickly to a 2-year-old size.

Black and yellow bumblebee dress (with bumblebee buttons). #knitting #littlesisterdress

I saw some very cute versions of this Little Sister's dress on Ravelry- using two colors for the top bodice. I thought back and yellow bumblebee colors would be cute. I had to work the purl and knit bands in 4 rows each (rather than 3) to avoid blips of color appearing on the front from the purl stitches. That's okay- it just ended up making the top a bit larger.

I used stash yarn- the black I've had kicking around for ages (was going to make a double knit cap for Dollar) and the yellow was from a misc grab bag that a friend gave me. Both are machine washable. 

Again, fiddly but cute little buttons:

Bee Buttons

The black yarn kind of collects dust and fur like crazy. I had to take a lint roller to the dress before wrapping. I say my sister should just put it on my niece and let her roll/crawl all over the house- then your dusting is done.

I would happily make this pattern again, in a even smaller size with worsted yarn and larger needles- for an even faster project. 


[knitting] Little Sister Dress

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and New Year's. I had many much-needed and much-appreciated days off. Super frigid temperatures kind of meant I was stuck indoors for most of it, but I had time to chill and do misc crafts.

Christmas morning looked like this:

Things were a little blizzard-y this morning... ❄️❄️❄️☃️❄️❄️

Straight-up blizzard. But the snow stopped before noon and we made a slow drive down to my mom's for lunch. I finally gave out all the secret stuff I've been working on and can post pictures now.

Here's the little dress I knit for my niece:

I can finally show off all the handknits I made for my niece. #littlesisterdress #knitting Hopefully this can transition from dress to shirt as she grows.

Pattern: Little Sister's Dress (free on Rav)

Yarn: Purple: Knit Picks Stroll Heather (1.2 balls), Confetti: Uhhh, I don't know. I wound it into a ball a while ago and didn't neatly tuck the label into the center of the ball like I normally do. It's a hand-dyed sock yarn that I picked up at some sheep and wool festival.

Needles: US 3

Size: 2 years

It's more of a tunic than a dress and as the niece grows, she can hopefully continue wearing it as a top. It's knit with sock yarn so it's machine wash/dry. I hit a little road-block with color pooling near the hem- I had to rip back the body a bit and continue on straight (no increases) to avoid colors stacking up. 

The buttons are a little fiddly because of their shape, but so worth it for how adorable they are:

Bun Bun Buttons

All in all, it was a good pattern- very easy, interesting construction. A bit tedious with fingering-weight yarn and US 3 needles. Would probably go much faster in DK weight yarn...


[cooking] Mincemeat tarts and peanut brittle

Last night I made some mincemeat tarts (with the mincemeat I started weeks ago) for a work party today:

mincemeat tarts

They're good- I like them. But we'll see what kind of feedback I get today. They still have a bit of a game-y taste but I think it's from the suet I used (rather than the venison). I don't know what real mincemeat is meant to taste like.

I also made some quick microwave peanut brittle (to add to the variety of Christmas cookies/treats I'm giving out):

peanut brittle

I unfortunately lost one of my glass bowls in the first attempt (heard a sad, low pop come from the microwave and I immediately knew). Not sure what the problem was- it was the same bowl that I used last year with the same recipe- maybe there was a new scratch on the inside of the bowl, I'm not sure. Anyway, it was very sad.

Gotta carve out some crafting time. And last-minute gift shopping. And wrap everything. And finish up the Christmas cookies.


[misc] Penny Wednesday

Penny, helping me with my second pair of Camp Out Mitts:

Penny helps me start a new project.

My work holiday party is tomorrow afternoon and I'm going to bring doenjang jjigae (vegan) and mincemeat tarts (loaded with venison, definitely not vegan). Lots of cooking to do tonight. And I didn't make any holiday cookies last night, so I feel behind. Nothing's wrapped. But packages are on their way from Amazon. At least this week is going by fast- I am in dire need of a vacation.


[knitting] Camp Out Mitts

Whipped up a pair of quick fingerless mitts with less than one ball of Noro Kureyon:

Mismatch fingerless mitts. #campfiremitts #kureyon

I've had a couple old balls of Kureyon kicking around my stash for years. It was such a fast project that I'm making another pair in a different colorway...

I used a very, VERY short US 7 circular (less than 8 inches?) to do the main body and it's a little awkward holding it. I found that I can't really work continental style (picking with yarn in my left hand) and have to do English style (throwing yarn with my right hand). The actual needles are very short so it's difficult to get acclimated to where you can actually hold on to them. I think it might just take more practice.


[travel] Mobile, AL

Was away last week to Mobile, AL for work. Got to stay in a pretty posh hotel:

Christmas tree goals 🎄

Has some good food (this was at Loda Bier Garten):


I was able to get one soul-food fix at a place called Mama's. Sometimes the best food isn't the most photogenic, so no picture of my shrimp and grits and okra and collard greens but it was just what I was looking for in terms out Southern comfort food.

On my way out, I made a pit stop to a local yarn store called Mobile Yarn:

Visited a lovely yarn shop in Mobile before heading home. Got my souvenirs!

Great shop- I can't recommend it enough. The owner was so nice. The other ladies participating in a class were hilarious and friendly. Good yarn selection. Very nice samples and bits and bobs around the shop. I hope I get send to Mobile again- just so I can go back here.

Now it's time to catch-up on everything. Christmas is 7 days away? Maybe I should start thinking about, you know, getting ready for it? Siiiiiiiiigh.


[misc] Penny Friday

Penny, last night in my lap while I knit:

Lap cat wants me to stop knitting and get her supper already. 🍗

The cats get supper at 6:00 pm. At 6:01, Penny starts staring at me... which progresses into meowing and tapping me (my head, hair, shoulder) with her paw. So demanding.

Still chugging away on the little knit dress. Will be traveling next week and should have plenty of airport/airplane knitting time.


[cooking] Pozole

Last night's supper, pozole:

Pozole last night, with collard greens. 🍲

I already had some pork shoulder that I slow cooked a while ago and froze. I just defrosted some chunks and pulled apart with my fingers into a big pot. I added two cans of rinsed hominy. I had some dried New Mexico chilies soaking in boiled water. After 30 min, I pureed them with some onion and garlic- and added this paste to the pot. Cover everything with some chicken broth, add salt and a couple teaspoons of Mexican oregano and simmer. To make it a bit healthier and add some greens, I chopped some collard greens and stirred this in near the end and simmered a few more minutes. Pretty easy weeknight meal.

I spent some of the afternoon at the King Arthur Flour Baking School for a free Bake for Good class. This was a basic bread class- you don't take anything home (everything that the classes make gets donated to the Haven shelter/food shelf) but you learn best practices and get to ask questions. I think it's borderline cruel that they wheel out previous classes finished rolls from the oven, for you to see/smell while you're working but... you go home with the recipe and experience to make it yourself. The highlight for me was seeing the instructor roll a bit of dough into a perfect ball. It was like, 50% technique, 50% black magic. 

I've been putting off starting mincemeat so I figured I might as well do that last night as well (that was a mistake... a multi-hour mistake). Boiled up some venison shoulder in cider, sugar and spices. Gathered and prepped all my dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, apples). Minced the venison and suet by band (I'm going to ask Santa for a meat grinder this year). Put everything together, reduced, topped off with some Sortilege maple whiskey and into the fridge it all goes for weeks. If it comes out well, I might portion some into mason jars to give as gifts.

I had no time to knit last night... siiiiiiiiiigh.


[knitting] Knit Dress

Working on a dress for my niece:

Working on a little knit dress. I’m at the miles-of-stockinette stage. #knitting #littlesisterdress

Making progress on the stockinette body. The little pops of color in the yarn keep it at least a little interesting. I think I'll measure and do some math after and figure out what size to make using heavier yarn. 


[misc] Penny Monday

Penny in the bass case:

Penny in the bass case. 🐱 🎸

Weekends are now spent covered in cats- they are constantly looking for a warm lap to hang out on for hours. Santana's winter spot is under the covers on my side of the bed to curl up and nap in. I don't make the bed so I can never tell when she's in there and will inevitably (a) try to lay down on top of her (oops), or (b) plop a laundry basket down on top of her. I realize my mistake only when I hear a plaintive little mew and the covers start moving.

Started a little dress for my niece in fingering weight yarn. I'm doing the 2-year-old size but I feel like it's coming out so large, I might save it for Christmas next year. I also took out some black and yellow sport-weight-yarn. Once I finish this one, I'll try making a "bumble bee" dress in a smaller size.

Working on a (too large) toddler dress with thin yarn and US 3 needles after whipping out a bunch of hats and socks so quickly is a little humbling. (I'm so humble, I am the most humble-est, number one at the top of the humble list.) I do have some sweater patterns printed for DK and worsted weight- maybe I'll squeeze one of those in before the bumble bee dress.

Also rummaged around the stash and found two ancient skeins of Noro Kureyon- going to try to make a couple pairs of fingerless mitts.

I made Nantucket Cranberry Cake this weekend. It's legit awesome. I had a container of fresh cranberries that I didn't use for Thanksgiving (I like the kind from a can; someone else brought homemade cranberry sauce)- to what to do with fresh cranberries? More than a few people recommended this recipe to me and it's awesome. 


[knitting] Cotton-Ease Socks

I already have a couple Christmas presents done for a certain someone:

Cotton Ease Socks

Leftover Cotton Ease Socks

The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. It has been discontinued for a little while and if you can't tell from the patchwork 2nd pair, I'm using up all my leftovers. I'm very tempted to cruise around Ravelry and see what users are selling from their stash... but I have a bag of misc worsted weight superwash wool, so it's not time to go hunting for yarn yet.

I love this yarn though- it really holds up to so much wearing and washing. And because the yarn is worsted weight, I was able to knit two pairs in a week. Now I can move on to other Christmas gifts... 


[misc] Penny Thursday

Penny, napping in a basket of wool and semi-finished handknits:


Stopped by my aunt and uncle's last night to help her block a shawl. I was able to score from fresh venison- I'm going to try to make some traditional mincemeat (with lean meat and suet) for pies around Christmas time.

I think I'll try this recipe for mincemeat filling but use the misc dried fruit I have. 


[crochet] Star Ornaments

Working on some quick crocheted ornaments to give as gifts:

Whipping up some star ornaments. ⭐️️Only two rounds to work, each one only takes a few minutes to make. ✨ #crochet #ravelry

The pattern is free on Rav: Star Christmas Ring Ornament by Doni Speigle. In the past, I've done the same designer's wreaths and snowflakes.

I can't even believe how easy these stars are- only two rounds to work over the ring. Gobbled up leftover yarn nicely. I'm going to have to dig around the stash for more DK-weight yarn to use. Hopefully I can find more yellow...


[misc] Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Last Saturday we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Manchester, NH. This has become an annual tradition and it's always so good. The music, the lights, the storytelling- it's so awesome.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

So good. If they're going to be anywhere near you, you should try to see them. It will put you right into the Christmas spirit. The first half of the show is story-telling, with video and singers. The second half is more of a fun free-for-all with familiar Christmas and TSO songs. The musicians are always excellent and the light show is the best ever. And there's lots of pyro!