Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 15 in 2015

I am going to be perfectly honest here and say that I stole this idea of my 15 favorite things from 2015. No, I didn't steal it from Oprah, although she may be one of the originators of this for sure.

And no, you aren't getting a car from me for Christmas.

Actually I stole the idea from my friend, Amy, who is doing something just like this over at her blog....and giving something away. You should go over there and check it out cuz.....a chance for something free....over there....

But not here. Here you just get my list of my 15 favorite things from this year. These are in no particular order and they aren’t the only favorite things that I have had this year but they are my favorites. They might not even be new things, but they are still my favorites.

1. S'well Bottles.
I am going to admit that when Shoe Queen extolled the virtues of her S'Well bottle, I was skeptical. SUUUUUUURE it keeps your water cold for 24 hours. SUUUUUURE it keeps hot liquids hot/warm for 12 hours. I drink a lot of water and a lot of coffee. I really hate lukewarm water and I really hate lukewarm coffee. Basically I hate any liquid that is lukewarm, well except for beer for which sometime lukewarmness actually brings out the more subtle flavors in the brewski. But that is a topic for another blog post. I took a chance and ordered a S'well bottle. I say chance because the standard size bottle is $35 and if it didn't live up to snuff I would have spent a lot of sock yarn money for a bottle.

Oh my goodness gracious and all the water gods in heaven. This thing was magic. I love ice in my water, and no I do not chew the ice as that is very bad for the teeth. Did you know that there is actually a name for the compulsive need to chew ice? It is called pagophagia. I know this because before the great uterine removal I was VERY anemic and one of the glaring symptoms of severe anemia is pagophagia and I had a RAGING case of that.

You know, I think I got off topic there for a moment. Where was I? Oh yes, ice in the bottle.
So, the opening to the bottle is a bit small so I ordered ice cube trays that make tiny ice cubes and now I have ice and water in my S'well bottle and the ice lasts for 24 HOURS! The only problem was that the standard size bottle holds about 16 oz and that meant that I was filling that thing up with water 4+ times a day. SO, for Christmas I bought myself a large S'well bottle for water and now I use the standard one for my coffee in the morning, coffee that now stays BLAZINGLY hot for hours and hours and hours.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Yeah, I am a Star Wars geek. Not as geeky as SOME in my family, and you know who you are, but still I rank up there. Saw the movie twice in the first week. Don't tell HHBL but I am thinking about seeing it again a third time by myself, if I can every find the time to do that.

I will do a longer Star Wars post that will be FULL of spoilers but that will be some time in January I think.

I do have some theories about some things.

3. Brunty Farms Poultry CSA
Sorry, unless you live here in the Frozen Northeast Ohio you aren't going to be able to partake of the goodness that comes from this place. But if you ARE anywhere around my area you should sign up for this. $375/year gets you 20 chickens, 8 dozen eggs and the most fabulous fresh turkey that I have ever tasted. Pick ups are spaced out over 4 months for the basic poultry, that means that in June, July, August and September you drive out to the farm on your appointed day and you pick up four newly dead chickens and 2 dozen eggs. And you can shop at the farm store for other things as well. I don't think there was a pick up time this year when we didn't buy bacon, sausage and other things. The lamb burgers are TO.DIE.FOR and the Chicken Blueberry sausages are....are....well, my mouth is watering right now just thinking about them.

4. Pistachios.
I always thought I didn't like Pistachios. Maybe it is because I haven't ever been very fond of things that have Pistachio flavoring in them. Whatever the reason, I have avoided pistachios most of my adult life. And then we went to AZ in February to visit the in-laws and there was a bowl of unshelled Pistachios sitting on the counter and I tried one. I cannot get enough of these things. Shell, eat, shell, eat, shell, eat.

5. Mystery Sock Yarn Year
I have talked about it before but I totally loved my mystery sock yarn year. I loved it so much that I am going to do it again this year....and perhaps every year until I no longer knit socks, which will not be until the Lord calls me home. It rejuvenated my already egregiously large love of knitting socks.

6. Pepperplate
Have I told you about Pepperplate? I feel like I have but I am going on 56 years old and the little gray cells are more Swiss Cheese and soft, gooey Brie that a nice hard cheddar.

Pepperplate, lets talk Pepperplate. This one also came from Shoe Queen. She raved. I scoffed. She was right. Pepperplate is an app that resides on my phone and my ipad. I keep recipes on it. I can order them any way that I like. I can tag/keyword them to my hearts content. If I find a recipe on the internet and I want to try it, I put it in Pepperplate. When I am at the store and I go, "Dang! What were the ingredients that I needed?"....Pepperplate can help. I am actually in the process of going through what few cookbooks I still own, the ones that I just never open that is, and looking to see if there are any recipes that I might want to try....and putting them in Pepperplate.

Go and try it.

7. My little back patio
This is our second full year at Chez Knit. Last year we didn't have a grill and we didn't have patio furniture until late in the year.

This year we have both. When I say patio furniture what I mean is a small patio table and two chairs as well as two plastic Adirondack chairs to sit in.

This year I also expanded the planters and actually kept everything watered pretty well. I was successful in growing a few tomatoes and herbs. In fact, I have still been able to use fresh herbs from the planters well into December because we haven't really had any snow....which I am sure will change fairly soon. Drat.

We ate Sunday brunch on the patio all summer. HHBL grilled on our new little right sized for a small patio grill....remember those Brunty Farm Lamb burgers I mentioned in #3. Add some homemade tzatziki sauce, a slice of home grown tomato, some pickled red onion and a bit of lettuce. Oh momma. We sat and read, enjoying a weekend morning and the amazing quiet that is back there, even though we live no more than 300 feet from a busy road. I put up a hummingbird feeder and actually had a bunch of the little buggers find it.

I love my little back patio

8. My Kindle
I finally decided that I would get one of those handy little devises. I have an iPad. I love reading on my iPad. BUT, I realized that if I read on my iPad for any length of time before I go to sleep.....I don't go to sleep. Or if I do manage that then I don't sleep well.

I value my sleep people. You don't want to be around me without my sleep.

SO I bought a Kindle Paperwhite. That is what you want to get, a Paperwhite, because that is the one that is back lite and can be used in the dark of night. I know, I have tested it. Don't get the regular Kindle. I still read on my iPad but not in bed.

9.  High School wrestling
Ummm, this is a REALLY new thing, like a yesterday new thing. HHBL wrestled in high school and in college. He LOVES wrestling. I have no clue why we haven't gone to wrestling matches/tournaments before now. It is a puzzlement to me. There was a wrestling tournament at the local high school and we went last night.

Oh. My. Gosh. It was completely fascinating. I want to go again. I need to read and learn all the rules. I love complicated sports that require skill and thinking.

That must be why I love Curling so much.......

I need to bring a more comfortable seat to sit on the next time we go. If I hadn't been all squirmy after the first hour I would have been in an even more happy place.

And they started the whole thing with a bagpiper playing Scotland the Brave. I am hooked.

10. Continuing to clean out my house
Guys I STILL have too much stuff. It is an ongoing battle. And I will win it if it is the last thing that I do.

By the way, this doesn't apply to yarn. I just thought I should tell you that, cuz, I just bought yarn today for two baby blankets. There might be someone having twins this coming year and those boys will need blankets.

11. My neighbors
The people are a hoot. HHBL and I have lived here 2.5 years now and we are really just getting to know our neighbors. Thank goodness for the quarterly dinners and the fact that people like to walk the oval when the weather is nice. I have been so thankful for all of them. There is a small "cupcake committee" that brings goodies to everyone at the holidays. I might admit that my Christmas cupcake didn't even make it to the kitchen.

I was hungry. So sue me.

12. My counter top ice cream maker
We might, perhaps, love it a bit too much. Who wouldn't love the fact that with very little effort you can have ice cream in about 30 minutes. Really good ice cream. I might just have all the makings for chocolate ice cream that tastes just like a Wendy's frosty waiting to be used right this very second.
Orange sherbet, strawberry ice cream (with mini chocolate chips in it), peach ice cream, Oreo cookie ice cream, plain old vanilla, and many more have we consumed this year my young Padawan. You need one of these. It is made by Cuisinart and mine came from TMO and TSiL last Christmas.

13. The fact that I don't have to pick up dog poopies when it is -20F.
I miss my Maxie Poodles Good Dog more than I can say, even after two months. But, I am not in the least missing having to pick up doggie doolies.

I just have to be honest about it.

14. Fried eggs on top of my toast.
This was a great surprise to me. Up until this year my eggs and my toast were not to touch each other.

There was no mingling of yolk and crust, not slathering of white and butter together.

Egg and Toast segregation was complete.

And then I saw a friend consuming her fried egg on top of an English Muffin, and it all just made sense.

Fried egg on toast. Fried egg on English Muffin. Soft boiled egg on anything and everything that might be thought of as bread. All that has happened this year at breakfast time.

This might even make me re-think my COMPLETE aversion to Egg in a Hole. But only if the yolk is runny. Which I think means that I toast the bread on both sides in the skillet and THEN put the egg in.


15. Evernote
If you do not use Evernote, you need to.

My world would be dark and bleak without Evernote. I write notes for a meeting on my work computer….and they are instantly available on my home computer, my phone and my iPad.

Go, run, download. Be happy.

Wow, that took me WAY longer than I thought. Have a great New Years Eve, and a safe one. We are off to have our yearly pig out extravaganza dinner with LaurenLeap and The Tech Guy at Maggianos.
I can feel my waistband expanding at the thought.

See you in 2016.

Which is tomorrow.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I Love A Good Mystery

Let's talk 2016 shall we. Specifically lets talk socks.

I know, a post two days in a row. Try not to have a heart attack or anything. I am trying my best to get back in the swing of things blogically speaking.

As many may know, I live to knit socks. Oh I knit a boat load of other things as well, sweaters, baby blankets, Christmas ornaments, the odd toy, shawls, mittens. But what I really love to knit are socks. In fact, that is why I took up knitting again after a 30+ year hiatus. I read a book about why people knit, this one in fact, and I had this overwhelming urge to knit my own socks. I hadn't knit in 30 years and when I decided to knit again I had to pick one of the harder things to knit. I had knit only oddly shaped scarves and one amazingly scary blanket with dubious gauge and amazingly ugly colors. I have it still, tucked away so I can bring it out occasionally just to remind myself how far I have come. Thank goodness for the internet and plethora of knitting books because that is how I taught myself to knit socks. There was a LYS (Local Yarn Shop for the not in the know) in my old little town but the proprietor, rather than being enthusiastic about helping a very new knitter, said she would help, if I paid her $15/hour for the privilege. She is notorious for such behavior. I shall not name her.

Thanks but I think I can figure it out on my own.

Over the years I have knit a lot of socks, 100+ pair by my reckoning, although they are not all reflected in my Ravelry projects page. I occasionally just forget to put them up there. However, over the past several years, as my sock yarn stash has morphed into something that needs its own room grown I found that it became more and more difficult to actually pick the yarn for the next sock to go onto the needles. I would have sock yarn paralysis as I would stand in front of the closet of wooly goodness and scratch my head at what to pick next.

Hmmmmm, there might be a fair number of skeins of sock yarn on that shelf. I am not saying HOW many but trust me when I say......if I never purchased another skein of yarn for socks, I might be able to knit for the next 10 years and be satisfied.

And we KNOW that it is a pie in the sky dream that I am never going to buy another skein of sock yarn. Sock yarn calls to me like fame calls to the Kardashians. It cannot be denied.

So in 2015, to give my sock knitting mojo a boost, I came up with an idea. What if I picked out twelve skeins of sock yarn, wound them up into the center pull balls that I love, and then stuck them individually into plain brown paper bags, stapled the bags shut and then had my own mystery sock yarn thing going.

Oh my gosh I loved it. I average a pair of socks a month that come off the needles so every month it was like the anticipation would build, knowing that I was going to be able to open a new bag and see what I would be knitting with. On each plane trip we took this year (Arizona twice, Florida twice) I would wait until I was ON the plane before opening the bag to see what I would be casting on as the small tube of metal hurtled down the runway.

The whole mystery sock yarn thing was so fun that I am doing it again this year. Here are the yarns that will be waiting for discovery over the course of 2016. I do not know what patterns I will use, I leave that up to the little gray cells to figure out after the bag has been opened. Some of the skeins of yarn are from indie dyers both local and off of Etsy (which is a REALLY dangerous place if you love sock yarn), some are basic sock yarn purchased at a big box store, some have come from travels far and near.

By December 31st they will all be encased in their plain brown wrappers, just waiting to be revealed.

I can hardly wait.

And, just because I know you are dying to know, here is a sampling of what sockiness came off of the needles this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We Corrupted the Missionary!!

The annual ornament bloodbath stealathon exchange has come and gone and we all survived with happy feelings intact.

Actually, my group of friends know what to expect by now and in the yearly recitation of the “rules” make it clear. Have I ever actually explained the rules for this bloody contest of ornament wills? 

1. Any given ornament can be stolen ONLY twice. The third owner of the ornament is the final owner of the ornament.

2. #1 opens a wrapped ornament from under the tree. Participant #2 can either open a wrapped ornament……or they can steal #1’s ornament. If this happens then #1 opens another wrapped ornament because…..

3. You may NOT steal back an ornament that is stolen from you.

4. You work through all the #’s with people opening a wrapped ornament or “liberating” an ornament from someone else. When all ornaments are accounted for then #1 has a decision to make. If she is satisfied with her ornament then the exchange is done. If she chooses though, she can exchange her ornament for one of her choosing from someone else. And then the game ends.

5. You may not unwrap OR steal the ornament that you brought. If you liked it that much you should have bought two.

6. The Hope and Heather Rule: There will be no collusion between participants on the getting and retention of ornaments. We could also call this the Dottie and Carolyn rule if we so choose.


And now on to the show.

We start the evening with food….lots of food. I always make enough to feed everyone and then many people bring things. Some year I should just not make anything, we would still have enough food! The first couple of years we ornamented first and then ate but the whole things works better if you go at the thievery with full bellies.

 Oooooo. Ahhhhhh. And the exchange begins. This year Hope was first and Heather was second. 

 Sue opened a lovely golden bell.

Lynelle promptly stole the bell from Sue. These women have known each other for many years. We have been in a small group together for 20 years………

On this one night of the year that has no bearing on our behavior.

 Can you see the pleading look on Dottie’s face when Kelly sauntered over to check out the absolutely adorable deer head ornament.

Amazingly it worked and Kelly went on to acquire another ornament and Dottie was able to keep the deer head….for a while.

Laura had absolutely NO scruples about stealing the ornament from the OCTAGENARIAN MISSIONARY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!

Aunt Virginia was actually new to the exchange. She came with her niece, Sue. I have known Aunt V for many years and have come to love her very (like the Sahara) dry sense of humor. I think she might scare some people, but not me…..much.

And so Aunt Virginia stole the deer head from Dottie.

Aunt Virginia might have been an Ornament Exchange Virgin….but that didn’t stop her from making her way, with her cane (she has a broken foot), over to Dottie and very politely but firmly stealing that ornament without a moment of hesitation or remorse.


I have known Sue for over 20 years. I do not think I have EVER seen her laugh that hard.

But Aunt V didn’t keep it for long. The deer head now has a place of honor in Michelle’s kitchen.
Michelle apologized the entire time that she was stealing the ornament from Aunt V.

But she did it anyway.

HHBL just likes to sit on the stairs like a child out of bed after hours and watch all the goings on. He seems to think that we are LOUD or something.

Dottie’s next very cute ornament.

She didn’t go home with this one either.

About this time I stopped taking pictures. It might have been because I was laughing so hard.

And so we came to the end of the evening. I think everyone went home with something they liked.
And I finally got my house cleaned up.

Until next year.

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Ornament Is Safe

It’s that time of year again! The first Monday in December……

The Ornament Exchange.

Really, I should start thinking about this thing earlier in the year than I do. Oh, I have grand and glorious plans about having the ornaments that I give to everyone who walks in the door all done by Labor Day.

I think about it a lot.

But it never really happens.

The ornament muse just doesn’t get ramped up like Lake Effect snow until it gets cold enough to feel like Santa is Coming.

Sorry, I just finished listening to Justin Bieber’s “Santa is Coming” and now I can’t get it out of my head. Curses!

Where was I? Oh yes, The Ornament Exchange. Sometimes I feel that it would just be easier to go out and buy 20+ of the same cute ornament and be done with the whole crazy business. But NOOOOOO, I have to come up with a unique concept every year. Darn my little creative hide. I just can’t do it. I have to make something. And lest you think it is easy breezy…….

Well, if you think that then I have to think that you are not the sort of person that comes up with crafty ideas in the middle of the night and has to creep into the bathroom to write them down.

Not that I would know anything about THAT.

This is how it goes.

September: I really should start thinking about that ornament. Knit? Craft? Snowman? Santa? Other? I have PLENTY of time.

October: You know, the Ornament Exchange is like two months away. I really should get started on them…..tomorrow.

November (somewhere around the middle of the month): Oh SHIT! I have got to put my thinking cap on and get something down on paper.

It wasn’t until mid-November this year that I started working on the idea that became the thought that moved onto the prototype that finally became the ornament.

Yes, there are prototypes of the ornament. It is a straight out of my head, thought up from scratch thing (or adapted from something I saw). This year there were two, or perhaps three, variations before I got to the final product. Have you ever seen the movie “Alien Resurrection?” You know the scene where they find the lab with all the various mutations of Ripley after they have figured out how to extract her DNA from the liquid metal that she threw herself into in Alien 3 as the alien was bursting out of her chest?


Hmmmmmmm, well, it is sort of like that only not quite as gory and bloody and nobody gets eaten…..generally.

This is the 15th year for The Ornament Exchange. That means that there should be 15 unique ornaments hanging about somewhere. I was going to show them all to you…..but I still have things to do before people start showing up. But I will show you the ornament for this year.

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Hope, you can look cuz you have to go to that pesky school board meeting. I will send yours home with Heather.

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Lauren…..don’t peak.

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

Red heart

2015-12-07 12.38.29

Somehow, a Snowball that looks like it is in the middle of a proctology exam just seems to fit with my crazy brain.