[knitting] Finished Mermaid Tail Blanket

The finished mermaid tail blanket:

Mermaid tail blanket, done and ready to be wrapped. 🐬 #knitting #mermaidtailblanket

Dollar's niece loved it. They told me she'd go nuts but I wasn't anticipating how nuts she'd go. She got into it immediately and was "swimming" across the floor all evening.

Pattern: Mermaid Tail Lap Blanket for Children and Teens (rav link). I made the in-the-round version

Size: 6 to 7 years

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, less than 6 balls, yarn held double throughout

Needles: US 11

I used acrylic yarn because it's inexpensive and can be machine washed. The materials for this project were less than $18, which makes it a nice, economical project. I encountered no knots in any of the 6 balls. I even have two entire balls leftover.

This is a pay-for pattern but I think it's well worth it. The instructions are well written, there are a variety of sizes and two construction options: in-the-round (for a sack-like result) or back-and-forth (for a blanket-like result). I did in-the-round because ain't nobody got time for back-and-forth during the holiday knitting frenzy.

After so much knitting on US 11, I went back to working on some socks on US 6 and it felt like I was holding toothpicks. I'm going to have to gradually work back down to feeling comfortable on smaller needles.


[misc] Murderface Tuesday

Murderface, my little Christmas helper...

Ho ho help me. 🎅
Ho ho help me

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. We had dinner with family Saturday, Sunday and Monday with lots of gift giving/receiving. I'm honestly relieved it's over and I can do whatever crafty thing I feel like now. I spent a good portion of Monday morning putting away and organizing all my knitting needles, hooks and notions. I took interchangeables apart and put them away in proper cases. I put crochet hooks back into proper cases. I put books and pompom makers and patterns and thread and buttons and yarn away. I'm missing a couple DPN knitting needles... I suspect the couch swallowed them up. I only have a few remaining unfinished projects and I'll try to finish what I can in the next week- to start the new year fresh!


[cooking] Holiday Cookies

I made 6 different cookies to package up and give as gifts:

Holiday baking done. Clockwise from bottom: chocolate crinkles, almond cloud cookies (with homemade almond paste), peanut brittle, soft molasses cookies, peanut butter cookies and brown butter chocolate chip and pecan cookies. All recipes from #kingarthur

Clockwise from bottom: chocolate crinkles, almond cloud cookies, peanut brittle, soft molasses cookies, peanut butter cookies, brown butter chocolate chip and pecan cookies. All of the recipes are from King Arthur Flour.

For the almond cookies, I made homemade almond paste. It came out a little chunky, not perfectly smooth, and wet. When I was mixing the dough, I did end up adding 3/4 cup of flour, just to bring it together a little bit more. But the almond flavor is wonderful!

The peanut brittle was the best surprise. It only took 10  or 15 minutes to bring together and the microwave does all the work. 

In little cardboard loaf pans and ziplock bags, ready to give away:

Packaged up, ready to go. #holidaycookies


[knitting] Fur-trimmed blue garter slippers

A pair of simple, novelty-fur seamed simple garter stitch slippers, to be gifted to my mom for Christmas:

Another pair of simple garter stitch slippers, closed with fuzzy yarn. #knitting #simplegarterstitchslippers

I spent way too much time using a darning needle to fluff out the white fur while watching something on TV. But it's soooooo floofy now.


[knitting] Simple Sporty Slippers

Another pair of simple garter-stitch slippers, this time without the furry novelty yarn:

Simple garter slippers

They came out matchy-matchy, with the bands of color lining up exactly the same for both slippers. Happy accident.


[crochet] Little Doilies

Last year I gave my mother this doily. It's pretty good sized- probably 14 or 15 inches in diameter. I had some of the same crochet cotton leftover and pulled out my 99 Little Doilies book to make some small matching doilies:

Doily #96

Doily #54

They are small, all right. More like coasters:

Two tiny coaster-sized doilies. #crochet #doilies

And I still have some of the cotton thread left over. Maybe for more small doilies for next Christmas.


[knitting] Mermaid Tail Blanket

I've been making a mermaid tail blanket/sack for Dollar's niece:

Mermaid tail blanket/sack grows.

Using the Stephen & Penelope project bag that I got in Amsterdam to hold the yarn.

This is working up fairly quickly on US 11 needles and worsted yarn held double. Hope to finish it tonight (all my other knitting has been kicked to the curb while I work on this) but I've got holiday cookies to make!

Had a good weekend. Friends came over for dinner Friday night- and worked on servicing my snowmobiles, which was so nice. I kind of drank too much (pretty sure makgeolli stops being a health drink when you down an entire bottle of it... still, it's not as bad as soju) and Saturday was just a day of napping and nursing my hangover with kimchi jjigae. Sunday we went to see a matinee of Rogue One and then came home to watch the Pats win in Denver. 

We're on the home stretch to Christmas. So much to do this week- making lists, checking twice, ordering last minute gifts.


[painting] Joy of Painting... a lot.

A few weeks ago, I got out all my oil painting supplies and ran through some Bob Ross Joy of Painting episodes. When I whipped out five paintings over three days:

Got the paints out to whip up some Christmas gifts. #joyofpainting


Whipping these painting out like whoa. #joyofpainting



Now I just need to order frames. I'm out of a bunch of colors so I'll wait until after the holidays to paint more.


[cooking] Bake for Good: Orange Holiday Rolls

Had another Bake for Good class at King Arthur Flour yesterday. This week we did a sweet bread: orange holiday rolls. They smelled so good with orange zest and orange oil in the dough. Here are mine: dough divided, rolled and curled up:

Orange holiday rolls. 🍊 #bakeforgood #kingarthurflour

At this point, the rolls would rise, then you'd brush with egg white and sprinkle with Swedish pearl sugar. After baking, they look like:

Orange holiday rolls, topped with Swedish sugar. #bakeforgood #kingarthurflour

I definitely want to make these again at home. 


[knitting] Aran Cap #3

For my birthday, my sister gave me a skein of donegal tweed. I used every last inch to make a hat:

Aran cap with pompom. Perfect winter hat. #knitting #hatknitting

I've made this pattern (and old, out of print Candide pattern) a couple times. This time around I knit a ribbed fold-over brim and added a pompom. 


[misc] Biggest. Christmas tree. Ever

Sunday we put up our Christmas tree:


It's 8 feet tall! The tallest tree I've ever had. Adding lights was challenging (one string each of rainbow, white, green, red lights) to make it all look even. But I was really spoiled for ornament space this year- so much room to hang stuff.

I always get new ornaments throughout the year and I love adding them. This is a little Peruvian gourd that I picked up in DC last February at the National Museum of the American Indian.


Dollar's mom gave me a bunch of his ornaments from throughout the years. Here's one of his first:

OG ornaments.

One of my many cooking ornaments:


But seriously, though. This tree was kind of spendy and we're keeping it up until Feb to get our money's worth. 

My favorite present is under the tree already:


Now that the weather outside is frightful, our little heat-seeker is constantly climbing into laps and stealing recently vacated seats. This is how she looks at me when she climbs into Dollar's lap in the evening:

Penny just looooves looking at me like this whenever she gets into Dollar's lap.

So smug. 

Still working on holiday knitting and started on some Christmas cookies. Gifts are piling up on the dining room table- will start wrapping soon. Started up the two snowmobiles yesterday and took them for a quick spin- but I think they need to be serviced. And I've got to finish decorating the house.


[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.


[cooking] 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.