Showing posts from November, 2011

Advent Wreath

For as long as I can remember, my family has set up an Advent wreath every year, lighting a new candle each Sunday of the Advent season until we reach the Christ candle in the centre on Christmas day itself.  This Sunday ritual is one of my favourites, so when I realised I'd be spending the entire season of Advent in my own place and not at home, I knew I needed to set up an Advent wreath for myself.

I could have bought one but I didn't like any of the options I could find in my price range, so I decided to devise my own.  I knew I wanted something rustic, unpolished.  My first thought was to use a grapevine wreath as a base, but all the ones I found were so rigid and densely woven it would have been hard to affix the candle holders.  But a trip to Hobby Lobby produced a hank of raffia and a coil of floral wire wrapped in green fibres.  

After some experimentation I formed the wreath by braiding the raffia tightly, then twisting and tucking the ends into each other.  (Conrad ran…

Music for the First Sunday of Advent

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent!  I love Advent; maybe because it hasn't been secularized by the rest of the world in the same way Christmas has, it's always been a really special time for me.  I thought that this year, it could be fun to share some carols and hymns which are suited to the Advent season, before we move into the true Christmas music.

Today, a lovely anthem, "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending."

Enjoy this first week of the Advent season!

More for the shop

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving day with family and friends!  I wasn't able to travel home to be with family, but I had a good time with my landlords and got to help with the cooking.  (I'm really glad I did - I can't imagine Thanksgiving without spending a lot of time in the kitchen!)

I've spent the rest of the weekend doing some finishing work and listing things on Etsy!  Yesterday I showed you lots of socks; one pair was just recently completed but the others have been hanging around for a while, waiting for me to get my act together.  Today, I have two crocheted afghans and a set of quilted coasters.

First up, a granny square afghan from the stash.  I used up most of my scraps in the blue/grey colour range, with the centres of each square in a creamy white surrounded by robin's-egg blue.  It's not symmetrical but it all works together!

Then I made a set of quilted coasters, using part of a "fat quarter" of calico.  They're backed with …

A quintet of socks in the shop

Finally the weather was clear and I was able to photograph my backlog of items for the Etsy shop!  Today, a quintet of wool socks:

 Check them all out in the shop!  And spread the word to your friends who might be looking for hand-crafted Christmas gifts :-)

Bus Stop

You meet the most interesting people at bus stops.  On Monday I went to the library by bus.  Coming back, the bus was late, and it was raining.  I had my backpack (enormous and heavy) and a tote bag (ditto) and a large red umbrella, and wet boots.  There were two gentlemen at the bus stop.  Both were smoking, one of them inside the semi-enclosed shelter.  Cigarette smoke does not do good things to my lungs, so I stood outside with my umbrella.

Smoking gentleman #1 (the inside one) decides to come out and offer me a seat.  It was very good of him, I say, but I'm extremely allergic to smoke, so I'll just stand out here.

He retires.  A moment later, he's back to offer to stand outside.  So good of you, I say, but even the lingering smoke would trouble me.

He turns away.  Then back.  "You say you're allergic... what does it do to you?"

I try to explain about deep, hacking coughs, and headaches, but I don't think he gets it.  He wanders back into the shelter…

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

I don't know about you, but I have a weakness for flavoured coffee drinks.  Specifically the holiday-themed ones Starbucks comes out with.  Their warm, creamy goodness can make the worst day seem better.  That is until I look at my bank balance.  At upwards of $4.00 a cup, they add up quickly.

So I decided I would try to make my own!  I stocked up on canned pumpkin the other week when it was on sale (as well as cooking down a couple of fresh ones), so starting with the pumpkin spice latte seemed like a good idea.  I took a quick look at a few other make-your-own recipes floating around the web, but I ended up just coming up with my own.  My goal was not only to save money, but also to make it a little more healthy!  I'm sure the commercial version is full of sweet syrups.  The most expensive item here was the Reddi-whip I used, which cost about half what a single latte at Starbucks would run, and will last for many drinks.  (Mine was enough to go with an entire apple pie plus…

Poor Conrad

Conrad went to the vet yesterday, and now, in the words of some famous author whose name I can't recall, he is an ex-gentleman cat.  He also got a microchip implanted - useful for if he gets out, and required if I ever take him out of the States.

He took it pretty well, though he spent most of the evening looking like this on a chair:

Later he perked up a little and looked out the window, and now he is chasing his feathers-on-a-stick toy around the kitchen.  I think he's feeling better.

By the way, it's incredibly difficult to administer syrupy pain medicine in a syringe to an alert and unhappy cat.  I tried wrapping him in a towel, but that only made him mad.  Eventually I just dosed his food -- and since he's been acting like I've starved him for weeks, he scarfed down the medicine with no fuss.  We'll see how this evening's dose goes...

A Case of the Mondays

1. To begin with, I'm still sick.  We've proceeded to the sandpapered-throat, hoarse coughing stage, accompanied by a voice which has dropped at least a fifth and which is threatening to give out entirely.  I probably shouldn't have gone to school today, but I decided to muscle through and go anyway.  Which leads me to

2.  I locked my keys in the car.  Normally I'm extremely careful about that.  I collect my things, holding keys firmly in hand the whole time, and I check three times before I actually shut and lock the door.  Today, possibly due to 1), my mind was elsewhere.  As I pushed the door closed I saw the keys sitting on the seat, winking at me.

3.  AAA is really a great convenience.  I am glad I am a member.

4.  I wish I hadn't needed to find out how convenient they are today.

5.  Conrad went to the vet to get neutered today.  I'm going to have a sad little kitten after school.

6.  We will probably spend the rest of the day feeling miserable together.  …

Still Sick

This whatever-it-is feels like flu, only without a fever.  In pretty much every other respect it is the same, though.

Thanks to Nyquil I slept almost 16 hours last night, which probably helped.  I have spent most of the day lying in bed contemplating my various ailments, which is not very pleasant.  However I did not even have the energy to knit (which is how you know I'm really sick.)

Then a friend recommended a remedy.  It involves green tea, honey, lemon juice, salt, and a splash of strong liquor (I used rum) and she said "don't skimp on the salt and the rum!"  (They are supposed to kill bacteria.  It is the most vile-tasting concoction I have ever swallowed in my life, but it seems to have helped.  I sat up, watched True Grit, and took out my knitting.  (I stocked up on movies at the library this weekend, which turns out to have been a good thing!)

I do not recommend this brew to anyone with a weak stomach or a strong gag reflex!  However it does seem effective.


I've been fighting off a bug for more than a week, but today it finally got me.  It's time for boxes of tissues, doses of Nyquil, and a lot of hot tea and pineapple juice.

And bowls of chicken soup.  What a good thing I decided to make a big pot of it yesterday!

Now, if you'll excuse me while I tuck myself into bed and sneeze quietly to myself.  Conrad has made it clear that he will accompany me.

Autumn Leaves

A bright, blustery day.

A day of crisp sunshine in which it is impossible to be unhappy, and which dares you to go out of your way and crunch in the fallen leaves.

I may be slightly insane

A friend posted this link a couple days ago:

In case you don't feel like following the link, it's a relay race.  A 196-mile relay race.  And I'm actually seriously considering signing up.

If you know me at all you know how ridiculous this is.  I've done a couple of 5-K races, but usually with reluctance and a great deal of mental swearing.  The last one I only did because my sister needed a running partner.

But this looks... well... fun.  The thing is, you're running with a team of 11 other runners, and the most anyone runs is 20 miles, broken up into 3 sections.  The website also has a detailed training schedule posted, which would help a lot.  And the next one in our area isn't until next November.  I'd have a whole year!

So, I've decided I'm going to work on the training schedule.  Even if I don't end up doing the race itself for some reason - scheduling issues, or not getting a team together - it gi…

Butternut-Apple Soup

I bought a smallish butternut squash last week and then realised I had no idea what to do with it!  After an appeal to my facebook friends, I had lots of suggestions.  I decided to try soup, and since I had some cooking apples on hand, I threw one of those in as well.  Below is the recipe, more or less - I didn't measure anything so amounts are approximate.  This was warm and satisfying; the perfect Autumn food in my book!

Butternut-Apple Soup
makes about 4 servings

1/2 a medium-small butternut squash
1 large cooking apple
1 large onion
1 carrot
about 2 T. butter
cumin and curry powder - a sprinkle each
2 peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1 quart water
2 cubes chicken bouillon

Cook onion in butter and salt until soft.  Peel and chop the apple, carrot, and squash.  (My squash was in about 1"-square pieces; the apple and carrot were roughly diced.)  Add to pot with the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil; keep at a low boil/vigourous simmer until all the veggies are soft.  Ladle out…

Mischief Managed

Finally, I have a post about the costume I've been hinting about!  I'm so glad to have this project finished, but I had a blast making it!  If we're friends on Facebook, you've likely seen a few of these pictures, but here are lots more plus all the construction details.  At some point I would love to do a "real" photoshoot of this dress; I think it deserves it.  For now though all I can manage are some mirror shots and a couple of self-portraits done with my camera's timer :-)

I've wanted to copy Bellatrix Lestrange's costume ever since the trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out.  But I never had an excuse to wear it, or I couldn't find a pattern, and with one thing and another it's been nearly five years since that first viewing.  But this fall the boys decided they were going to take me trick-or-treating (the first time I've ever been!) and I felt that my sewing skills were finally good enough that I could ta…

Fall 'Mums

A glory of bright chrysanthemums in the autumn sunlight.

Fall Break, part 2

Officially my Fall Break was two weeks ago, but this past weekend I took a trip to Knoxville to visit two of my very best friends.  It was so relaxing -- more so in fact than my "real" fall break, which was spent driving to South Carolina and back to see my brother's graduation.

I got to spend time with Zack and Shannon, who I hadn't seen since August.  (That's William, too.  He's the one with the lovely fur coat.)

We went to Six Flags and rode roller coasters.  Like this one.

We were giddy with cold and adrenaline, and I think we all felt about ten years old again.  Which is nice, every so often.

They fed me meals that looked like this.

Their backyard is full of sunshine and bright leaves, like an autumn fairyscape.

Most of all, it was a joy to spend a couple days with people I'm so comfortable with, whose beliefs and ideals are the same as mine, and with whom I feel surrounded in love and friendship.  Zack and Shannon, thank you for the beautiful weeken…