Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Hustle

Well - it's happened again! I haven't posted for over a month. I guess I got caught up in the death spiral of school/holidays/and just life in general.

Our family enjoyed a nice Christmas together and we also enjoyed our Annual Hors d'ouevre dinner - the 7th one! Here's this year's spread:

2008 party

Mmmmmm.....everything was delicious!

- and just for fun - here's me posing in the beautiful mohair roving Janice gave me:
mohair dreads

When I think back on Christmas 2008, what I'll remember most is all the cooking I did. We had ham and turkey. I did two loads of dishes every day! I love having all the boys home, including John, but they can really eat & make a mess! I even made six (6) fresh apple cakes - my mom's recipe which she borrowed from Mrs. Virginia Pugh's entry in the Rodes Family Night Favorites cookbook. I've plurked about the cakes several times, so as a New Year's present, I'm going to share the recipe.

Fresh Apple Cake
First, peel & chop about three cups of apples - I use Granny Smith's and find that two apples usually do the trick

In a large & deep mixing bowl combine & mix well:
1 & 1/2 cups of oil
2 cups of sugar

add 3 eggs and mix well-
then add 3 cups of flour - mix well
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla
a dash of cinnamon

add 3 cups of chopped apples - mix well
a cup of coconut
a cup of nuts (I use walnuts)
a cup of raisins - but I use a cup of chocolate chips instead-because I am not fond of baked raisins!

Bake in a mold, (bundt, etc...) at 350 degrees for 1 & 1/2 hours or until done.

1 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1 stick of butter
Combine in saucepan. Stir until everything has melted. Boil gently for 1 & 1/2 minutes. Ice cake while still warm, slowly, so mixture will run into cake.

You can even make cupcakes!

I never made this cake until after my mom died. I remember her saying that it wasn't hard to make & it isn't. I hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as we do!

Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, & peaceful 2009.
God bless!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Knit/Spin Recap

It's been a busy and yet relaxing week - is that even possible? I enjoyed a two day school week and luxuriated in spending Wednesday morning spinning up the rest of the Cotswold, purchased at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.


Merry enjoyed it too, as she got to show off a little new jewelry - just in preparation for the Holidays, mind you! This was made by Jennifer at Felux Fiber Crafts. Merry lurves it!

Merry Jewelry

The boys & I (DH was already there for work) left for Northern Virginia on Wednesday afternoon after an oil change and unanticipated brake job for my car - but now the brakes work and that's important when you live in the mountains! While waiting for the car, we heard the terrible news from Mumbai - not knowing at the time that a group from our county was there on a spiritual retreat - including my workout friend Lisa. Sadly, two members of their group were some of the first killed in the siege.

We spent Thanksgiving Day at DH's brother's house in Great Falls. This has become a tradition of sorts. You see, they have a really big living room which doubles as a dining room for family gatherings. Here's my mom-in-law, Scamp on Ravelry. Friend her - but be warned - she'll ask you to knit dog sweaters for the Heritage Humane Society! Doesn't she looked so pretty in those colors?

Mary Joan

We also got to see nieces and nephews who flew/trained in from all over: two from San Francisco, one from Portland, and this one from New York. Here are DH & New York niece- two smarties- discussing the election - they are cut from the same cloth, those two!

Philosophocal discussion

Yep-smart, pretty - and oh yeah, funny, too!

On Friday, m-i-l, s-i-l, and I went to a nearby yarn shop, Alyin's Woolgatherer, where I scored this:

Aylin's Wool Gatherer purchase

...which is turning into a pair of mitts - to be followed by matching socks.
Mitts for Lisa
This is Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks. I'm doubling it for the mitts.

I knitted all the way home & arrived to find this:


SQUEEEEE! You know how I LOVE packages! The top two are Christmas pressies, so they will remain anonymous, but here is the content of the big one on the bottom-

DIC Starry2

Dream in Color Starry in Flamingo Pie and Ruby Red.....wait - do those colors look familiar? I seem to be on an apricot/magenta kick. AND WAIT! The Ruby Red might be a present too....oh poop...but aren't they beautiful?
AND WAIT! - there was more from TLE....apparently, I'm a Loopy Groupie! WOOT!
I'm a Loopy Groupie!
I wasn't keeping track of my orders, so this was a nice surprise! Sheri certainly does know how to make her customers feel special!

Then it was time for Lights Out....really...

Blue Ridge Brewery Holiday
...a Holiday brew from our local Blue Mountain Brewery.....and with that - the Holiday season is off and running! How will I ever catch it?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Almighty WIP

Every now & then, when I pause to think about what's impending, due, or overdue in my life, my WIPs will rear their beautiful little heads and I end up with a case of knitting guilt. You see, I have several WIPs that have been WIPs for y-e-a-r-s....some of them could be least none are approaching my grade level yet-5th grade- where I teach 9 & 10 year olds. My problem in finishing my WIPs isn't that I dislike the pattern or have grown tired of the yarn. Oh NO! Not at all - like this one for example:


This is the De Colores Jacket by Ginger Luters and it's almost old enough to be in Kindergarten. With this WIP, it seems that I'm going to have to modify the back by leaving out one panel - made the wrong size. I don't think that's going to problem, but it will mean that I have to pay attention. I've actually finished all the body panels and have started the sleeve panels- only eight to go! What I've learned by knitting this WIP is that I don't like finishing very much. I'm pretty sure I'll never make another modular sweater...if i ever actually make one!

Then there are younger WIPs like the Shawl with Cables

Cable shawl progress

...nothing wrong here...but oh look! It's another modular project that I'm not in any hurry to finish.

And my Plurk Socks ....

Slave to the Plurk

I messed up the heel on these and had to frog back a ways. I keep putting off turning the heel because, again, I'll have to pay attention and that seems to be hard to do these days.

It seems my knitting mojo has been on the fritz or vacation or down with the flu...or something. Today for example, I started some Handsome Mittens by Cheryl Niamath from this quarter's Interweave Knits. It's not a hard pattern - just reverse what did I do? I just knitted right through the increases and found myself wondering why they were so RIPPIT-RIPPIT-RIPPIT they went- all the way back to the cuff...sigh .... I hope my whole "knitatude" improves soon - or my "Almighty WIPs" might have to become "Eternal WIPs"!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Perfect Day

Today, despite the pouring rain, I bundled up a fully loaded Merry in a blanket and a trash bag, along with various fibers, a knitting project, spinning books, and my camera, and headed over for an afternoon of spinning at Janice's house.

Loaded Merry

I even brought lunch...mmmmm!

Chirio's veggie pizza

Then it was time to spin! We started by looking at my first attempt at plying - done with the first and second roving I'd spun on Merry. I needed to reply it, so Janice showed me how. Here it is just before we washed it:

My first plied yarn

One of my student raises alpacas and had given my this little treasure to play around with -

Alpaca from Jamie

I managed to turn it into this -


Meanwhile, Janice was spinning up her BFL.....isn't it beautiful?

Janice's BFL

While we were busy spinning, one of Janice's kitties got into my knitting bag and made off with a hand wound ball of practice merino - pesky little creature!

Cats' merino

It ought to have looked more like this!


Janice knitted on her sock project and I spun a little Cotswold from the Frontier Culture Museum and then knitted a little on my Eternal sweater. By then the rain had stopped and the day had turned as beautiful on the outside as on the inside!

Janice's yard

It was a perfectly beautiful ending to a perfect day - don't you think?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Addition to Family

OMG - my life has been so whacked, I haven't posted for over a month! Have I subconsciously been waiting for a momentous occasion - like today - in order to have something half-way interesting to blog about? Who knows...? In any case, today was truly momentous because I witnessed the birth of my spinning wheel, an Ashford Traveler. Here's a photo diary of the day's events. I'll add a little commentary, too!

After the great eBay defective wheel debacle/disappointment earlier in this week, I decided to go to a nearby fiber shop, Stony Mountain Fibers, and purchase a wheel from shop owner Barb Gentry. Barb has a great little shop with a wide variety of spinning wheels to choose from and one particular wheel kept popping into my head after the Majacraft ordeal - an Ashford Traveler. Stacey & I made a quick shop visit on Friday afternoon, but didn't have enough time to play & purchase, so decided to make to 45 minute trip again this morning - 11-8-08.

When we arrived, Barb had begun putting together my wheel.

Birthing b

Brithing a

Wheel birthing #2

birthing c

Meanwhile, around the shop, Stacey was busy trying out wheels of her own. She settled on a Kromski Sonata, only in the lighter wood. Here she is playing around with its cousin!

Stacey spins

birthing d

Finally - the wheel was ready! Isn't she beautiful?

birthing e

Here we are - all loaded up & ready for the trip home. I made Stacey promise to drive v-e-r-y carefully!


Now it's time to think of a name for her.....and practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Daily Dose of Fiber .....Times 10!


Today Janice & I went to the Montpelier Fiber Festival. It was a glorious day - starting off crisp & chilly, and heating up nicely by mid-day....just warm even to force us fiber-freaks to start shedding our woolies - a sad fact, but kind of funny in a way. We are in Virginia after all, and the sun is still pretty intense at 38 degrees north in October!

We started our day by walking around and just looking at everything...yes just looking!

fiber 1



- oh...and we did a little touching, too!

touching stuff

and even some smelling, especially when we were near the food tents! Mmmmmmm - we had lamb sausages & fries for lunch. My fries were sweet potatoes.....double mmmmmm!


Then we doubled back to revisit our top picks. Here's one of mine - Diane a.k.a Creative of Creatively Dyed, both on Ravelry and on plurk. She gave me a Ravelry name button and sold me some very beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I'm thinking this will be a BSJ for someone.

Creative Kynda

I also tried out a couple of wheels. First I took a spin on an Ashford Traveller - I really like the looks of this wheel and it felt ok. Next I sat at a Schacht Ladybug for a second test spin. This wheel feels oh-so-right, but I just don't know if I'd like enjoy looking at it everyday...gosh, I hope I can decide soon!

playing with wheels

Many thanks to the nice folks from The Drafting Zone in Bowie, Maryland for their patience in letting me try their wheels! (They don't have a website!)

....and what's a fiber festival without a few critters? Here's a few from today's menagerie:


handsome-buck bunny

Ann's sheepsters

and finally...fresh back from herding sheep -


All in all, it was a superb day -I think the only thing that would have made it better would have been meeting more Ravelry and plurk friends...maybe that will happen the next time!