[knitting] Fur-trimmed green garter slippers

Another pair of simple garter-stitch slippers:

New simple garter stitch slippers, seamed with fuzzy yarn. #knitting #simplegarterstitchslippers

Used sock yarn held double- a dark green striping yarn and black sparkle. I seamed with a furry novelty yarn. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this before but I love the final effect. And the slippers are still machine wash/dry.

TGIF. Will be heading down to Hmart tomorrow for my quarterly supply run of Korean groceries and alcohol. The rest of my waking hours will be devoted to knit, knit, knitting up gifts. And I think I'll try to get a tree on Sunday; time to deck the halls.


[vermont] Bake for Good: Cookies

I signed up for a series of free classes at King Arthur Flour. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas time the education center offers Bake for Good classes. You show up, bake and what you make is donated to The Haven. You get the recipe and experience.

Yesterday we did cookies. A ginger spice cookie:

Baking for Good at King Arthur Flour! Ginger spice cookies 😍 #kingarthurflour #bakeforgood

Similar to molasses cookies that I make from the KAF Baker's Companion cookbook. I love these types of soft, spicey cookies covered in glittery-sugar.

Those were followed by roll-out sugar cookies. We didn't mix this cookie; we were given a brick of already-mixed dough (from their sugar cookie mix); we just had to roll it out and decorate:

Decorating! That's how we roll (and cut sugar cookies). #kingarthurflour #bakeforgood

Good class. Only disappointing aspect is that you literally do not get to even try one cookie. You know going into it that that's the deal but it still would have been nice to try one of the ginger cookies to decide whether or not you want to go to the shop to buy the crystallized ginger pieces and the sparkling white sugar.

Having said that, the demonstration of the recipe is informative and you learn about mixing at the right speed,  the temperature and measurement of ingredients, differences between roll-out cookies vs. drop cookies vs. cake-y cookies.

Next week we're doing sweet breads!


[cooking] Thanksgiving Pies

I made a couple pies for Thanksgiving this year. A spicy pumpkin pie:

Pumpkin pie ready for the oven. #thanksgiving

And I wanted to do something other than apple. I decided to do a maple bourbon pecan pie (I omitted the ginger from this recipe). Which requires blind-baking the crust. I don't have a lot of luck blind baking- whenever I do, the crust comes out as a big, round shortbread cookie. This time, I shaped the crust and refrigerated it for 20 min before taking it out and baking with parchment paper with risotto rice and pie weights.

Blind baking the next pie crust. Using my special mix of pie weights and risotto rice. I've never had much luck blind baking. #shrinkage

And the final pecan pie came out very good, (very bourbon-y):

Maple bourbon pecan pie. #thanksgivingpie

I think we might have Thanksgiving at our house next year. And I'll keep trying to do pies outside of my comfort zone.


[knitting] Kansas City Socks

Another pair of plain vanilla socks, with contrasting cuffs, heels and toes.

Kansas City socks. Knit to/from KC. Creatively Dyed Yarn with contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. #sockknitting #knitting

Knit to/from Kansas City. Basically the same exact pair as my Amsterdam socks. The main yarn is Creatively Dyed Yarn purchased at Rhinebeck, the one and only time I went many years ago. The skein has been kicked around my stash for a long time. I really like how it knit up: brown and white without any color pooling, with little bits of color here and there. I have a decent amount of yarn leftover- probably destined to become another pair of simple garter stitch slippers.


[misc] Murderface and Penny Monday

It's cold and dark and everyone likes to hang out in bed and snuggle:


Murderface usually sleeps at my waist, on the outside edge of the bed, but he has recently started sleeping in the middle of the bed, between Dollar and I. Probably because it's warmer. 

Sunday morning, the cats let me sleep in until 8am. And even then, Penny didn't want to get up:

Enough sleeping in. Time to get up. You first, Penny.

They have such a hard time getting enough sleep on the weekends.

Christmas gift-making is in full swing. Will probably get a tree this week. 


[travel] Kansas City

A few days after we returned home from the Amsterdam trip, I had to turn around and go to Kansas City for the week. I arrived:

Landing in Kansas City. It's flat here. Real flat.

It's flat. Flat flat flaaaaaat. I could show you more pictures from the week but this is the only other one I took:

KC sunset.

I guess being that flat has it's advantages- the sunsets were nice and long. But the wind was crazy. I have no other pictures because my days were get up, work, go out drinking with coworkers, talk about work, sleep, get up, work, go out drinking with coworkers, etc.

I got my hair did before I went, though. Last year I went blue but it was all washed out in a week. This year I went to a different salon and went red:

No filter. I call it Corps of Engineers red.

I know, right? It's the ombre or balayage technique. The stylist was so great and worked on me for 3+ hours. Here I am during the beaching process:

Time for something different.

It was a long session- bleach my hair, wash and dry it. Paint the color on my hair and wait. Wash and cut and dry. It was $$$ but here's the result (same day as the color) under indoor lighting:

Indoors. ❤️

And the best part is that the color is really staying. My red color has faded over the past few weeks to pinkish-burgundy but it still looks like a fantasy color and I'm not left with just bleached locks. I'll see in a few more weeks what I want to do (more color? or start to trim it away?).


[knitting] Amsterdam Socks

During the Amsterdam trip, I brought yarn and needles with me for a pair of plain vanilla socks. The flights were going to be long and I knew I would be able to get a lot done. I did most of the pair during travel and did the finishing once we returned home.

New socks, knit to/from Amsterdam. Lion Brand Sock Ease in Sourball with contrasting orange cuffs, heels and toes. #knitting #socknitting #bedsocks

The main yarn is Lion Brand Sock Ease in sourball with orange contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. Nothing terribly exciting about the pair but they're perfect bed socks. A little loosey-goosey, so easy to hook a toe around the top cuff and slip them off under the covers when my feet are nice and warm. 


[travel] Last day in Amsterdam

The last day in Amseterdam we tried to cram in as much sight-seeing as possible. We went to Oude Kerk, Amsterdam's oldest building and church at 800 years old.

Oude Kerk. 800 year old church.

It was very quiet inside (not many visitors besides us) but so beautiful. They were doing a little restoration to different areas inside.


The floor was all decorative gravestones (the bodies had been removed)- the stone was so smooth after centuries of being walked on:

Engraved stones in the floor of the church.

Under the organ tower, decorative cherubs:

Under the organ, looking toward the ceiling.

And an area of fold-down seats had a different carving on every single seat. Here are just a few:

Wood carvings on the church bench seats.

We left the church and the red light district is literally on the other side of the canal. We went down a side alley to get to a cool bar that I thought Dollar might like and we did see red light ladies in full-length windows. We kept walking, rather than stopping to gawk (like some men were doing) but I was just like, "Huh. So... yeah. It's really a real thing." 

Anyway, the bar we were going to was the Excalibur Cafe:


Dollar loved it- it has lots of awesome paraphernalia on the walls (armor, swords, axes, rocket launchers, posters, etc). Since it was 2pm, we were basically the only people there but the bartender was friendly and played all the kind of music that Dollar loves. We left after a few and walked around. We saw some of the local fuzz:

Amsterdam beat cops, rolling through the red light district, busting up crime. We easily plotted out an entire season's worth of storyline for these two.

That evening, we went to an "escape room" in the Jordaan called Time Trip. There are two rooms- Jungle and Medieval, and you have 60 minutes to solve puzzles and mysteries to deactivate a bomb:

#timetrip #amsterdam. We chose the Jungle room. Had to solve puzzles to deactivate a bomb in 60 minutes. We did it in 64 minutes.

We asked for a few hints (you're allowed up to three) but still failed. We were so close (and it was a quiet night) that the person running the game gave us an extra 10 minutes to solve it.


Then we walked down to a cafe for a bite and beer. Guess what I saw on the menu?

Grolsch Stender. Non-alcoholic? Wtf.

Non-alcohol Stender. Tastes like disappointment.

Grolsch Stender. I had to order it even though it was non-alcohol. It wasn't good.

So that's it. We had a week in Amsterdam and we were pretty sick but I think we saw and did a lot. I definitely want to go back some day- probably at a different time of year. And I won't declare any tulip bulbs that I bring back (like I did like an IDIOT and they were confiscated). 

I brought home some nice Dutch food items that I'm still enjoying- cocoa, gouda cheese, chocolate, tea. Many stroopwafels were eaten there and brought home. And there are some recipes that we enjoyed that I'd like to get into regular rotation at home: dutch apple pie (of course), veal croquettes (kalfskroketten), bitterballen. I've also got to pick up some nice Dutch mustard- all their mustards were so good. We didn't have any bad meals or beers (besides my namesake above) while we were there.


[travel] The Hague

We took a day trip down to The Hague. The train ride was about 45 minutes and it was a nice, pastoral ride. I noticed that there are lots of farms and livestock... and no fences. All the pastures are separated by small canals.

Train to The Hague.

We did a lot of walking around the city and eventually ended up at the Peace Palace, which houses the U.N. International Court of Justice.

Peace Palace.

Which we wanted to see but they guard was like, "Ha ha, no" when we asked if we could go in. We showed up on the wrong day- Monday. So we left and walked down to the MC Escher museum. Also closed on Mondays. Dammit. Clearly I didn't plan this day trip well enough. We did have a very nice lunch at an old pub (used to be horse stables) where Dollar had some traditional Dutch veal croquettes (which I'm going to try making at home). We ended up at the Mauritshuis museum and saw a ton of wonderful, old Dutch paintings. Including this beauty:

Vermeer. #mauritshuis

Of course, the photo doesn't do it justice. I wonder sometimes what makes one painting so much "better" than other. It's all quite subjective but this painting was so beautiful. I had only one word: luminous. They had so many great paintings at this museum, I'm post going to post a bunch:

Rembrandt, self portrait, 1629:

Rembrandt, self portrait, 1629.


Just a Vermeer, on loan to the museum from the Queen of England's private collection:

Vermeer, from a collection of Dutch masters on loan from the Queen of England.


And I absolutely loved that one of the great rooms had arms sticking out of the walls as candle holders:
The candle holders in this museum are arms.
Really classed up the joint. Still, I enjoyed the Maurithuis more than the Rejksmuseum. We jumped back on the train and headed back to Amsterdam. And I lost my hat on the train. Here's the only picture I have of it, when it was still in progress:
Yes Checks hat, in progress. #knitting
Pattern is Yes Checks by an Amsterdam-based designer (Stephen West). I finished the hat before the trip and it was soft and slouchy and perfect. I wore it every day. Then I left it on the train. I hope hope hope that someone found it and likes it and is wearing it.


[travel] Windmills and Canal Tour

At the midpoint of our vacation in Amsterdam, Dollar and I were both crazy sick. Coughing, flu-like sweating and chills. Because of that and since we were six hours ahead, it was kind of tough to get up even by noon. Not wanting to waste the vacation, I would still get up around 10, trudge down to the coffee shop, buy a cappuccino and croissant and sit outside to feed a pigeon or two (and then run away when two turned into twenty).

Then I'd head back to the hotel and try to rouse Dollar. One day, I was trying to gently shake him, saying, "Heeeey, I know you don't feel good... but, like, we still have to go out and see stuff. Sorry." He rallied and we went up to the train station to go 10 minutes outside the city to Zaanse Schans to check out some windmills. It was overcast and drizzly, but the sun came out for a second:

Got outside the city to see some windmills.

These windmills were cool- and I loved that they are still used. They were all close together and we went inside to see a couple. 



Inside the saw mill, we watched a video on how the windmills are made and this little Dutch kitty came to get some pets:

I got some attention from this Dutch cat in a saw mill.

Back in Amsterdam, we took a canal cruise, which was great. It's totally a tourist thing to do with prerecorded audio but it was still informative on the history of the city, architecture and interesting locations.

Canal boat tour next.

Here's a spot where seven bridges are lined up over this one branch of water:

Seven canal bridges all lined up.

Canal cruise

The facades of the buildings have gables at the top (neck gable, bell gables, step and spout gable). Since the homes can be very tall and narrow, there are winches that extend from the top to hang a rope to move furniture up and down through windows to top floors.



After this, we just spent the evening in the hotel with takeout soup.


[travel] Amsterdam Museums

We visited many museums while we were in Amsterdam. The large fine arts Rijksmuseum was fantastic:

Rijks Museum. #rijksmuseum

There were so many works by famous Dutch painters. Vermeer. Jan Steen. van Gogh:

Van Gogh #rijksmuseum


Rembrandt #rijksmuseum

There was a large library inside:

Library in the museum. #rijksmuseum

Stained glass windows:


I loved this black and white sea scene:


I don't go to museums often enough with Dollar- it's really nice to see everything with him. He notices and points out things that I miss.

We went to the modern art museum after and it was underwhelming. Then we tried to take the tram back up to the hotel but it was packed and slow. One thing we noticed about traffic in Amsterdam- the rule seems to be "go". Watch out, but... go. Cross at your own risk... but GO. Pedestrians, bicyclists, mopeds, cars, trams... EVERYONE GO. Sure, there are stop lights and some semblance of traffic laws but we were nearly run over multiple times by multiple modes of transportation. 

More nighttime walking:

Midnight strollin'

The weather was definitely not awesome. It rained a bit every day off and on, and I don't think we saw the sun for more than a few minutes the entire week.