Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Felting - What?

So Drew bought a fun game called Machi Koro that's a Japanese version of Monopoly, if you will, and was quite fun to play in our pre-Christmas anticipation. (I decided to treat every day like the day before Christmas, although I have not cracked open the eggnog even as we speak, and you should ignore the faces of the children.)

I also started preparing way ahead of time for the dinner at our house...not that I was cooking anything important, mind you, because Dean was all over that, but I did plan to set the tables....which meant putting Drew to work polishing silver. Because he polishes his shoes so well for AFROTC, see? He loved it!

Then the family arrived, and a glorious time was had. But first we actually went running and did pushups. No, I'm kidding, that was part of the awesomeness - several of us got up and went for a 9 AM run followed by pushups and situps.

Because it was like 70 degrees on Christmas Eve - nice!

Here's my work of art, accented by my sister's artistic touches...

and the other table accented by my mother's artistic touches.

And here's the kitchen accented by Dean's artistic touches! I cooked exactly one of those dishes. Thanks to Dean and the family for all this food!

And of course the huge Christmas dinner had to be followed by more Christmas exercise, so this is my nephew attacking the horizontal rope.

Sadly, my sister was defeated in her attack.

Then all the ladies took to the streets for a walk...not together, mind you, just to go for a walk. Just kidding - we were walking together the whole time till this hill separated us out.

Okay, now for a funny thing. Do you remember this beautiful Alpaca sweater, that was the second thing I ever knitted?

Well I know you can't tell from this picture, but I washed it in cold water with other items on delicate...not hand-wash and alone like it wanted. So it shrunk up, but I could still force an arm down the sleeve. I was upset, but not devastated because it is REALLY warm for our weather here, and I just wore it last week when it was freezing. It was a little itchy, and my set-in shoulders are honestly a tad wonky.

This is an attempt to show how the stitches are melding together a little bit.

So it was thicker and too small, and I decided to maybe salvage a skirt out of it. I figured I'd felt it one more time so it'd be safe to cut. Can you pick out the ribbing now?

And behold the wonder of a warm-water wash with towels on an alpaca sweater - whaaaaa?!

So now I need suggestions for where to go from here. Boot-toppers? Coasters? Coffee cozies? So many possibilities - and obviously a skirt is no longer in the works. Let me hear your ideas, and also how your Christmas went!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

GCGSW #4 Is On the Blog!

So last weekend I enlisted the boys and my Mom to get the beach house ready for the 4th annual GCGSW. We started with a nice pitcher of beer and barbecue at Hurricane's before diving in. Now when is the last time you shared a pitcher of beer with your Mom or Dad? You should do that - it's Christmas!

Lucas decided to use a string of lights for the stairway handrail - nice idea, Lucas!

Mimi and Drew put up my vintage silver Christmas tree and decorated it while Jake supervised. It reminds me of one from probably 1970 that I can barely remember, but was also the year I got a toy metal stove that was just my size.

Here's the final setup - 7 sewing stations plus couches for the knitters...because I thought it was going to be cold outside - haha.

And the rest of the week I madly finished my first prayer shawl for a friend who lost her husband. It looks great from a distance...

Till you notice that my yarnovers shifted towards the end - arghhhh!

And that brings us to GCGSW - would you believe it was 80 degrees on December 17th?! Thus we all ended up outside knitting or crocheting or needle felting...

and eating and drinking and admiring Heidi's tatting!

Nancy crocheted this precious fox...

and was our grand prize winner of productivity, finishing 4.5 projects, I believe. This is a needle-felting project she did, and I totally forgot to get a picture of an old man's face she did out of wool - really incredible.

Just take my word, a chunk of wool she needle felted ended up looking just like the guy on the left minus the hair.

This was a sweater Yaffa had started years ago using Intarsia, but she was mainly working on a precious penguin - and now I think I need a book of animals to knit...or needle-felt.

After a delicious dinner of Yaffa's brisket and potato latkes plus Heidi's almond flour-crust pizza, followed by Becky's stunning chocolate brownies (recipe below) and Katrina's delicious eggnog, we brought it inside for some sewing and more knitting.

Becky nearly finished a knitted cowl plus worked on a blouse, and Katrina finished a silk top.

This is Robbie's flannel pajama top - love the sassy pose!

And this is a sweater Katrina had been working on for a couple of years that Heidi set the final sleeve in to finish.


And last but certainly not least, Heidi tutored and assisted with lots of knitting questions, worked on a log cabin blanket, and also gifted me with this precious tatted Mardi Gras hat!

No seriously, it's a pin-cushion, and if I can find a way to make it stay on Jake, I'll have a mobile pin-cushion wherever I go!

And I'll leave you with Becky's brownie recipe, but Robbie, can you email me your breakfast casserole recipe please? So It was a wonderful weekend with lots of crafting, talking, and even some walking before dinner - just over 2 miles to be exact - yay us! Thanks for coming, ladies. Have a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah, and let's do it again soon!

Jessica's Sticky Chocolate Brownies
Makes 9
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 4-1/2 ounces dark chocolate 1 Tbsp light corn syrup 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheated oven at 350°F

1. Lightly grease and flour a shallow 8-inch square cake pan. 2. Place the butter, sugars, dark chocolate, and light corn syrup in a heavy­based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the mixture is well blended and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool. 3. Beat together the eggs and extract. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture. 4. Sift together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, and baking powder and fold carefully into the egg and chocolate mixture using a metal spoon or a spatula. 5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until the top is crisp and the edge of the cake is beginning to shrink away from the pan. The inside of the cake will still be quite dense and soft to the touch. 6. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan, then cut it into squares to serve.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas

Long time no blog! It's been a little crazy at work, so I'm catching up a bit here. I was off for Thanksgiving but Dean was working, so I enlisted Lucas's help fixing a dish to take to the in-laws. He opted for Twice Baked Mini-Potatoes, which he found on some website where they speed up the process to make you think you can cook it in 30 seconds. Haha, he didn't believe me when I told him how labor intensive it would be, but God bless him, he cooked it not once but TWICE for my Mom's Thanksgiving the next day! Bake your oiled/salted new potatoes for 35 minutes then cut the ends off and core out the middle...

Mix the innards with butter, sour cream, bacon, green onions. Stuff the shells with that and bake 5 minutes...

Then top with cheese, bacon, and chives and bake 5 more minutes. Delicious and bite-size!

We also saw Arrival (excellent - you have to see it twice - it's required) and had some awesome fires which Drew the Eagle Scout took great delight in building (Dean split a ton of wood himself and bought a firepit so we wouldn't break the drought ban). Lucas YouTube'd how to pop popcorn over an open fire (it's like Googling but on YouTube, and there's a really funny story of something he looked up a couple of years ago on YouTube instead of Google - something he read on a bathroom wall - oops!)

Here's what it sounds like when you hold a foil packet of store-bought popcorn over the fire for about 3-4 minutes:

And here's how it looks - like real popcorn!

And since I was off, I decided the boys and I need to try the new Mobile Duck Boat tour. I've done them in Boston and Stone Mountain, GA, but they have one here now. Here's our first entry into the water next to the Austal shipping facility.

Here's the Convention Center...

And the back of a giant boat in the port getting unloaded. At this point we exited the water to go around downtown, then came back in at the same point...

To see the LCS (Littoral Combat Ship)...

And another troop transport ship that's very shiny to camouflage itself in the waves reportedly.

And then we headed back to Battleship Park where we started to enter the water a THIRD time in Mobile Bay...

to putter around the USS Alabama, which is the state's #1 tourist attraction. I've never seen it from the water - very cool!

And finally, I'll leave you with my fake Christmas tree which I love, even though I refused to try one until last year. I'll go get leftover branches to put on mantels for the smell, but I love the choice of lights:

Jake was not happy to have to sit for a picture, but he complied.

SO...how was YOUR Thanksgiving? Are you ready for Christmas? Well some of us will be working on Christmas projects at the FOURTH ANNUAL GULF COAST GIRLS' SEWING (AND KNITTING) WEEKEND!!!! Yes, in 2 weeks it will be time for crafting, and it's a full house this year, so I can't wait! I'm praying the fuse box holds up, but I know how to throw a breaker if things go south. This year's special guest (I love saying that, and next year I'll mail official flyers - worldwide, baby!) is Heidi Sunday, owner of Mobile Yarn, and Ravelry designer. She's also an instructor for The National NeedleArts Association - WHAT??? I know she'll be working on a quilting project, and I'll definitely post pictures of everybody's projects like last year. I was planning on sewing a blue velvet Mardi Gras dress, but I haven't settled on the actual pattern, yet, so I may be finishing the knitted split-neck sweater I started....twice. Anybody else want to share your project? And Lynda, if you're still planning to stop by, just shoot me an email for directions, etc.