Crafting for the Holidays

The holiest of holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart; The secret anniversaries of the heart.”      – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The holiday season is officially upon us. Many people stress out about getting the perfect gift for the loved ones in their lives. It’s no surprise I like to give everyone I can, knitted items. I attempt to make small items through out the year trying not to frantically craft items in December. Sometimes that can be hard when I don’t know what I want to create for a person. Although, this could be the reason I’ve not posted in a bit. (I’ve been frantically crafting holiday gifts!) Since there are a few items (hats and dishcloths) I love to make all year, I’ve started collecting them in my gift bin. My goal is to have a few gifts completed for when I need something last minute. Ultimately, I would like to be able to pull most of my holiday gifts from the gift bin. (I know that seems unlike given how many new projects I’ve started lately. Everyone needs a dream.) 005.JPGFortunately, the gift bin already contained several completed holiday dishcloths. Years ago, I bought these huge skeins of Christmas themed cotton. A decade later, I’m still making dishcloths with them. Here’s some Holiday Ballband cloths and my Holiday All Washed Up.  010.JPGI’m also a huge fan of illusion knitting. Can you find the hidden Christmas image?

This is Gracie’s idea of holiday crafting. IMG_20171212_1849013.jpg

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The Completed Wips of November

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. – Epictetus

It’s hard to believe yesterday was December 1. My goal was to complete four wips last month. I made it half way which is better than none at. Presenting my Bonfire Night Headband and Cashmere Three Color Hat. The cashmere hat is amazingly soft and cozy. I love it. My headband will come in hand once it warms up a little on my morning runs. 002.JPGI may not have finished four projects, but I started at least that many. First, I decided I need more fingerless gloves. Sometimes I wear them around the house, and I was taking them out of my coat pockets. I could never find them when I needed them. This lead me to conclude fingerless gloves would make great holiday gifts for a few people I know. So far, I’ve cast on three new pair (I suspect these won’t be the last)! 007.JPG

Fingerless Mitt Wips:

In the background, you can see a few other holiday knits I have on the go. I’m pretty sure there will be many more to come in future posts. IMG_20171119_2033575.jpg

It’s cold and rainy today. Ernie was wrapped up from the elements.

 

 

Here Comes the Rain

Rain showers my spirit and waters my soul. ~ Emily Logan Decens

Last week was wet! I know you’re thinking the PNW is well known for being wet. Most of the time it’s a light rain or more of a mist.  Actually downpours don’t happen that often. Last week was an exception. Naturally, every day the British Hubby and I wanted to hike it was down-pouring. Hiking in this type of weather isn’t that much fun.

Our next idea was to cook! If you haven’t guessed yet, I like to cook, bake and eat. We bought a ham from our new favorite butcher. My favorite way to make ham is this simple recipes glazed ham. It was fantastic with our leftover brussels sprouts. 004.JPGNext I made this low carb/low sugar pumpkin cheese cake. Instead of using a graham cracker crust that is full of sugar, I made a coconut macaroon crust. Next, I only added half the sugar. I use an organic coconut palm sugar that isn’t as sweet as regular sugar. This made a fantastic holiday dessert. Although, I still think my Ginger Pumpkin Fudgy Flaxseed Cake may still be one of my all time favorite no carb/no sugar adaptations. I’ve been thinking I need to make a Christmas themed one maybe with cranberries? 009Most important this past week was all the time spent snuggling! IMG_20171121_1935506.jpgIt’s the end of the month and I only have one completed wip so far, eek. I was hoping to get three or four done this month. Let’s see how many I can finish in the next few days.

Sprouts, Sausages and Sales

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. ~ Harriett van Horne

I’m a feeder. I grew up with a large extended family that liked to eat. My grandma cooked everything from scratch. No boxes or mixes in her kitchen. The British Hubby says I learned how to cook for an army. Then I had to relearn how to cook for two people. Okay, it’s debatable if I actually mastered that last one. I always cook more food than we actually need. It’s a good thing we love leftovers. This week I had a chance to try a few new recipes and a new butcher. IMG_20171121_1815148A few years ago, I tried a broccoli casserole that tasted great, but gave us such horrible gas that we didn’t finish the dish. Since then, I’ve been a bit skeptical to try a new cooked vegetable dish. Our no carbs and no sugar quest meant I needed to rethink our traditional holiday foods. (All though our Thanksgiving holiday is anything but traditional, it has been a bit carb heavy in the past.) I came across this brussels sprouts recipe. I made a few adaptations by using salad cream instead of mayo (The British Hubby isn’t a mayo fan) and using cheddar cheese instead of swiss. (That last change was an accident.) The recipe was easy to make and could be prepared ahead if you’re feeding a crowd. IMG_20171121_1856195This was my first attempt at cooking brussels sprouts as well as eating cooked ones. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The salad cream gives them a nice tangy flavor. While, this didn’t replace my all time favorite cooked veggie, asparagus, this is a nutritious low carb and high fiber side dish that I would make again. 002.JPG

Next we had sausage taste test. We tried a new to us local butcher. The British Hubby was very excited to see they make Bangers in house. Naturally, our first trip had several of those in our cart. We also tried some chicken curry sausages. The Bangers didn’t live up to the British Hubby’s expectations. Personally, I thought they were quite delicious, but the British Hubby thinks the spices weren’t quite right. The chicken curry ones are fantastic! An exact replica of a proper take out curry in the form of a breakfast sausage. I can’t wait to try more flavors. 009My local Ben Franklin Store has already started holiday sales. I’m constantly impressed with the selection at this local store. I went in for some fabric to start a few holiday gifts and was pleasantly surprised to find all yarn 20% off. To my delight they had several new colors of Malabrigo in stock. I had a difficult time deciding, but I finally chose a Renaissance in Mechita. Check out the neat fabric I found. I’m especially excited about the cats in space. 002.JPGErnie maybe to tired to craft, but stay tuned for plenty of gift giving ideas. I’m a fan of giving small handmade items that can be used through out the year.

Celebrating Life: No Workie this Weekie!

Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love. ~ Tom Hannah

Today is the very first day of a nine day Thanksgiving Break the British Hubby and I have together. My day job completely closes the week of American Thanksgiving so the British Hubby uses some of his vacation time so we can have time off together. Our kitchen calendar reads, “No workie this weekie!” 005I started the nine day celebration of with a fantastic cup of Autumn Almond Chai. It’s great as tea or in a tea latte. On a whim, I joined a tea club last Spring. It was the best gift I could give to myself. If you are holiday shopping for a tea lover, I highly recommend signing them up for a tea club. Amazing loose leaf teas come right to my door! A tea lovers dream. 006My lovely cuppa was a perfect pairing with the Thanksgiving Fudgy Flax Cake I made. I made a few adaptations to the original recipe. I added some chopped up crystallized ginger pieces along with cinnamon spice, all spice, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. This lovely chocolate cake now has a little bit of a kick. I think I prefer our holiday version to the original. 001.JPGWhat’s in store for the next nine days? A low carb and sugar free culinary feast including a few new recipes, hiking, riding Ulysses and plenty of crafting. Ernie is preparing for nine solid days of snuggling.

Stay tuned of tales of our outdoor adventures.

Travel Knitting

One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things. ~ Henry Miller

It’s been about a week since my last post. I’ve been traveling in the Midwest to attend a family wedding. It was so cold that it makes the rainy windy conditions in the PNW feel balmy. 007.JPGNaturally when traveling, I always bring extra knitting. I want to be prepared for the time I’m stranded for days in an airport. Normally, I think small compact projects, but this trip I went a little wild and brought my Never Gonna Let You Go Wrap with all three skeins. It had no problem going through airport security. I managed to get the next single color section completed. The shawl is currently at 129 stitches. 003I also brought along my Bonfire Headband. I was hoping to get this project completed. I’m using leftover bits of skeins from previously finished projects. Of course, I left the second partial skein sitting in the lounge at home. 003.JPG

Ernie says we have snuggles to catch up on!

P.S. I think the first completed wip for November will be finished very soon.

 

Bonfire Night & The Second Snow

Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that last inch, we are free. ~ V for Vendetta

November 5 is Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night in Britain. This is one of my favorite British holidays. I love that they celebrate an attempt to blow-up parliament. This mild mannered tea drinking culture wants the people in power to remember the 5th of November. The British Hubby and I watch V for Vendetta every year. Typically, we eat sausage rolls with quality street treats from our favorite British supplier. This year we settled for bangers, veggies and more tomato soup (sans the bread). 010

I also started the first of many Cable KAL projects, Bonfire Headband, using Malabrigo Rios in Niebla. 005.JPG

We also had another round of snow. Since turning on the heat six days ago, we’ve had two days of snow fall and about three inches of snow! I suspect this is going to be a great snow shoe year. I know you’re probably wondering why the British Hubby and I haven’t been hiking or out on Ulysses in a bit. We’re preparing for a family event in the Midwest. I know I’m missing my nature fixes, but sometimes one has to make sacrifices for your loved ones. IMG_20171106_1752284.jpg

Speaking of sacrifices, look at how Ernie instead to sit this evening. Secretly, I think it’s because he wants his own Malabrigo Caracol Cape. I really wasn’t sure when I finished this project if I would wear it. I wear it all the time. It’s perfect for wearing around the house doing chores or cuddling with Ernie trying to knit.