last Eye Candy Friday for November...

...and it's raining too much to even try to get a picture of something other than wet plants. So I decided to just go with it:

Rain water

Taken in the courtyard at work. This is one of the many low places that collect rain water during storms.

I'm about two-thirds done with the thread burying task for Jungle Songs. Man, are there are lot of ends! I definitely will not finish this quilt in November, given that tomorrow's December. But at least I got close!

Last night I did the first grocery run for my December baking-Trader Joe's.  I buy most of the nuts, dried fruit,  and butter at TJ.  The checkout guy commented about the amount of butter in my cart...you should have seen his face when I told him that the 8 pounds I bought was just a start! I typically use 12-15 pounds of butter for baking.

Up this weekend: I need to make a Smart and Final run to get flour, sugar, chocolate chips, eggs, and the takeout containers I use for packing cookies. Next is a Safeway or Nob Hill run to get the rest of the grocery items I need. I'll ask the husband to do the Costco run to buy pecan and walnut halves. For the volume of nuts I make, Costco has the best prices for the halves. Trader Joe's prices are OK of you only need a small amount. The prices is the same, but the packages are now 1/2 pound instead of a pounds, and I need at least 4 pounds!

When I have most of the ingredients, I start baking the fruitcakes and pumpkin bread.  This year, I want to try the Starbucks Lemon bread knock-off recipe I found.  If I'm not happy with it, I'll swap over to making gingerbread loaves.

After the fruitcakes and breads have chilled, I'll freeze them and move on to cookies. First, I'll make the cookie dough that must be chilled before baking. I think there are 5 cookie doughs that must be chilled, but it could be more. I'm adding a couple of new cookies this time and don't remember the details of their recipes.

And that should pretty much fill up my weekend!
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oops! Missed WIP-it Wednesday...

...the rain must have thrown me off. LOL!

I'm still burying threads in the back of the Jungle Songs quilt. I'm making progress, but I'm starting to get bored. There is a reason I tend to do geometric machine quilting: there are far fewer threads to bury and they are rarely in the middle of the quilt!  And I'd be done by now.

Besides Jungle Songs, I am playing with the layout of the Christmas Yellow Brick Road quilt I discovered in my stash. Because several of the fabrics contain snow globes,  I have named it "Going Snow Global." The fabrics are all from Moda's Nick & Rudy fabric line that was released in 2006 (or before), making this WIP a lot older than I thought it was. Time flies...

Going Snow Global quilt

As with all Yellow Brick Road quilts, I need to adjust the layout to make sure the same fabric isn't touching and to avoid too many reds and greens touching. It's obvious from the picture that I need to do a lot more rearranging. I'll adjust it a few more times (read: 10+ times) until I'm OK with the layout. This quilt will prove to be a challenge because there are so many reds and greens.

The next spinning WIP I'll tackle is the Natural Dyes Wild Card Batts that I started in 2010.

Natural Dyes Wild Card #4968
At the time, I wasn't enjoying the natural dyes. Now that I have a few of these types of spins under my belt, I can go back and finish this. 

I should probably pull out one of my knitting WIPs just to have in the rotation, but none of them are calling my name right now.  It's just as well, I probably won't feel much like knitting once I start baking!
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Tuesday's weekend report...

...I finished two things!

The first is the knitted cowl I've been working on:

Midnight Botanical Cowl

Midnight Botanical Cowl [Ravelry]
Started 11/3/12
Finished 11/23/12
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Midnight Derby
Pattern: Botanical Cowl by Megan Goodacre

It was a good on-the-go project. I really enjoyed this project!

The second is the Heather merino-silk handspun I started in 2007:

Heather handspun

and the close up:

Heather handspun, close up

Specs:
Started 10/15/2007
Finished 11/24/2012
Chasing Rainbows top in Heather: 2 oz. Merino-Bombyx and 2 oz. Merino
Skein #1: 320.1 yards, 2-ply, 15 WPI
Skein #2: 46 yds singles, about 13 WPI

I finished machine quilting the Jungle Songs quilt and am in the process of burying all the loos threads. I need to finish that process before I can sew on the binding and declare this quilt done. And not a moment too soon...so ready for this one to be off my list!

While I was putting stuff away, I found a Christmas-themed Yellow Brick Road quilt I started a couple of years ago. All the blocks have been sewn, I just need to assemble to top. I've done a preliminary layout on my quilt wall and am in the process of refining it. The good part is that I can probably finish this quilt quickly as I rarely do more than stitch-in-the-ditch quilting on Yellow Brick Road quilts. I already have the binding assembled and the yardage for the borders and backing. First I have to finish Jungle Songs, though (sigh).

I need to cram in as much crafting as I can in the next few days, because come December 1st, it's all about the baking. Hmmm, I need to start buying the ingredients RSN (real soon now).
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after Thanksgiving Eye-Candy Friday...

...we had a great meal and great time with family yesterday. I hope you all did, too.

Here's a peek at our holiday tables:

Homemade cranberry sauce

and the star of the show:


The daughter brought some beautiful tulips a that we placed on the buffet:


Tulip, close-up

We just got back from our annual trip to the Crest Family Christmas tree ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a gorgeous and incredibly warm day. Usually, it's on the cool side, frequently very cold, and sometimes rainy. So this was a treat!  Good food, good friends...it was a great day,

Up this weekend: I want to make progress on the quilt and I have a yarn to finish plying. I also have a knitting project to work on.  Other than a couple of errands and laundry, I plan to craft as much as possible for the next two days. Heaven!
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countdown to turkey day...

...my last day at work until Monday.

This morning's sunrise was pretty:

Sunrise 11/20/12

Over the weekend, I managed to accomplish a few of the tasks on my list: dusting, cleaning out the cupboards, doing the first grocery run for the holiday meal, and make the cranberry sauce. I also wanted to vacuum, but that didn't happen. That will be added to tomorrow's task list.

The cranberry sauce is chilling in the refrigerator. This year I added fresh pomegranate juice, raspberries, and brandy to the mixture. It was pretty tasty before aging, so I think it will be really yummy on Thursday. I plan on adding fresh pomegranate seeds to the mixture before serving so it will have a little crunch to it.

After Craft Night tonight, I'm going to do the last grocery run so I have everything I need for prep on Wednesday--it will be a full day. I need to:
  1. Cook the giblets for broth
  2. Make the stuffing (dressing)
  3. Assemble the yam casserole
  4. Make the desserts
  5. Make sure the turkey is defrosted and apply the dry brine.
  6. Vacuum
  7. Clean the front bathroom
  8. Clean and mop the kitchen
  9. Get the dining area ready for company
I won't set the table until Thursday because one of the cats thinks that a clean tablecloth is the best place in the world to sleep. We've tried to train her to stay off the table...she's almost 12 now so I don't think we have much hope in that happening!

My goal is to get as much done on Wednesday as possible. Thursday will be all about the turkey, vegetables, table, and family.

Wish me luck!
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Eye Candy Friday, and the madness begins...

...the madness called The Holidays.

First, the eye candy. I was playing with my camera's fish-eye feature the other day and took this:

Sunrise 11/14/12, fisheye

The Husband has planted new flowers. Mona Lavender Plectranthus:

Mona Lavender Plectranthus 1

Coralberry Punch Superbells:

Coralberry Punch Superbells

Lemon Slice Superbells

Lemon Slice Superbells

We have a Junco nesting in one of our hanging baskets. She's laid four eggs:

Oregon Junco eggs

She is a protective little thing. If you go in the backyard when she's around, she yells at you to stay away from her nest. A true mighty mite!

Up this weekend: finish cleaning the house in preparation for the madness. We got part-way there when we freshened things up for the appraiser (re-fi in progress). Now we just need to finish the job.

I need to do the first wave of T-Day shopping, including buying the turkey so it can defrost by Tuesday, when I get it into the dry brine. I'm still debating whether to make a trip to Williams-Sonoma and get their dry brine mix (which I love) or try to make my own. I suppose it's just a matter of whether I have enough time to make the trip to Stanford Shopping Center or Valley Fair Mall.

I will make the cranberry sauce this weekend and if I decide to make my own bread cubes, I'll do those as well.  I'm taking Wednesday off so I can have enough time to make some dishes ahead of time and not feel so rushed on Thursday.

I need to go through the cookie recipes and pick which one's I'll be baking this year. I always make biscotti, Mexican Wedding Cookies, cut-out sugar cookies, and spritz. There are a few new candidates this year. I need to decide which recipes are hibernating this time around.

Somewhere in there I'd like to do some crafting. I can dream, can't I?
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WIP-it Wednesday roll call...

...sound off! (Because I have no new pictures today.)

WIPs, in current rotation:
  1. Chasing Rainbows Heather: 2oz  Merino-Bombyx plus 2oz Merino wool (spinning)[Ravelry]
  2. Botanical Midnight Cowl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Jungle Songs quilt (quilting)
  4. Recipe for Summer by Pine Mountain Designs (cross stitch)
WIPs, candidates for rotation:
  1. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  2. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)
  4. Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry]
  5. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
  6. Natural Dyes batts from Yarn Wench (spinning) [Ravelry]
  7. Oriental Dragonfly, Dimensions kit (embroidery) 
  8. Pilgrim top, 2 oz (Merino-Tussah Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm (spinning) [Ravelry]
  9. Royale top, 2 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm (spinning) [Ravelry
  10. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry]
    Hibernating, candidates for IDJ (It's dead, Jim):
    1. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
    2. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
    3. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry]
    4. Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)
    That's a total of 18 acknowledged projects in process. I know I have more somewhere...
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    random Tuesday

    ...because I'm a little scattered these days.
    1. Next week is Thanksgiving!! WHAT?!  I am no where near ready for that!  Thank goodness the family likes a traditional dinner and the menu is pretty much the same every year.
       
    2. I was productive at Spin-In. I finished spinning 2 ounces of a Merino-Bombyx top and started the matching Merino top that I will ply with it.  I ended up baking some oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies to take.
       
    3. We installed our new microwave/exhaust fan unit. That sounds so simple, right? NOT!

      We had to move the range (this required removing the oven door) and take out the old unit. Then the issues started.

      The support bracket for the new microwave needed to be in a different location. The holes for the bolts to go through the cabinet to anchor the microwave were in a different place. The opening for the microwave exhaust vent was in a different place. The length of the exhaust chimney was longer.

      The Husband went to Home Depot/OSH at least 5 times to get the right parts. And then we couldn't get the range oven door back on!  While The Husband made his last trip to Home Depot,  I did some research on the internet. You know, it helps if they have the correct instructions in the  handbook that comes with the range! I found the right ones and got the oven door back on.

      We collapsed after that!
       
    4. We did get some cleaning done in the kitchen as we were installing the microwave. I don;t know about you, but I rarely move the range to clean under there because it's such a PITA. But it's all nice and clean now, the drawer under the range is clean, and I mopped my kitchen floor!
       
    5. The rest of the house, on the other hand, is still cluttered and needs a lot of work. Let's not even talk about the dusting that needs to happen...
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    [Brrrr!] It's Eye Candy Friday...

    ...the AC is working overtime in the office and there's a slight nip in the air outside.  We're waiting for a new furnace filter at home, so I haven't turned on the heat yet. Thank goodness for electric blankets!

    Today's eye candy is from one of the few things still blooming in the garden: paperwhite narcissus:

    Paperwhite Narcissus

    Up this weekend: Spin-In tomorrow!  I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with the spinners and my wheel. I'll probably bake some cookies to take as they are easy to make and I'm not feeling very imaginative, baking-wise.

    Also this weekend, the Husband and I need to install our replacement microwave/exhaust fan unit. Our old one refuses to heat anymore. After pricing the replacement and comparing that to the cost of a repair bill, it was a wash.  The new one arrived and we just needed some concentrated time to install it.

    I need to get serious about cleaning up the living and dining areas. Thanksgiving is at our house and it would be nice of people didn't trip over boxes, etc.

    Looking forward to going home and getting warm!
    .


    WIP-it Wednesday...

    ...where I confess to having a new WIP. (oops)

    I have been wanting to knit a cowl for quite some time. I just never found a pattern that appealed to me. Well, I found one last week, and I had the yarn in my stash!  I cast on during the drive to The Husband's parents on Saturday and knit the ribbing while I chatted with the family.

    I took it to Craft Night last night as I didn't feel like working on the cross stitch. Here's what it looks like for now:

    Botanical Midnight cowl
    Specs:
    Started 11/3/12;  [Ravelry]
    Pattern: Botanical Cowl by Megan Goodacre;
    Yarn: Midnight Derby Smooshy by Dream In Color

    "For now" meaning that I am going to rip back to the eyelet row and knit it again. I'm not happy with the way that the yarn-overs look. It looks like there is an extra stitch in each hole, which is not true. According to another Raveler, I should snug up the K2tog that follows the YO2 to take up some of the slack. Someone else suggested either KTB and PTB when I knit the YOs. If that doesn't work, I'm not sure what to do. I hope these two suggestions help.

    I'm going to try hard not to start another new project, even though start-itis nagging me to. I already have more than enough WIPs!  :)
    .

    Happy voting day...

    ...and if you haven't already, get out there and vote!

    We had a nice family gathering on Saturday. What I couldn't mention last week was that one of the Husband's brothers was proposing to his girlfriend and we were responsible for bring the cake to celebrate.  Only a couple of family members knew what was happening,  so it was a surprise for most of them.

    Anyway, we didn't find out until too late to special order a cake.  I didn't think there would be any problem finding a round decorated cake. We decided to decorate whatever cake we got with marzipan bees as the happy couple have an apiary and urban orchard in the foothills of L.A.  Saturday morning I made the bees and then went out to buy a cake.

    1 Whole Foods, 2 Safeways, and 1 French bakery later, I ended up at Sugar Butter Flour, where I should have gone in the first place. I really wanted a classic round cake with white icing and flowers that had room for writing. All of Whole Foods' cakes were yummy looking, but no flowers and no room for writing. There were a couple of Safeway cakes that would have worked if the flowers weren't all bright orange (eww), and there were a couple that were badly iced—I could have done a better job! The French bakery only had one small chocolate cake.

    Sugar Butter Flour had several regular cakes. Because the cake had to be alcohol-free, my choices were narrowed down to a couple. Their cake with strawberry mouse between the layers had room for writing and looked yummy. In addition, they do the writing for free if it's in chocolate. Score!

    We put the bees on the cake once we got to J's parent's house. The cake turned out pretty well:

    Engagement cake with marzipan bees

    The bees were easy to make. I used egg-yellow gel food coloring for the bodies and black gel food coloring for the stripes. (The black food coloring was messy even after being mixed into the marzipan.) I added eyes and mouths with a toothpick dipped in black food coloring. The wings are sliced almonds and tended to be a bit delicate. Fortunately, I took extras so I could repair any broken ones.  I think they turned out pretty cite:

    Marzipan Bees, close up

    The newly engaged couple totally loved the cake!

    I spent Sunday running errands, prepping stuff for dinner, doing laundry, and crafting. Sadly the running errands and prepping dinner tasks took up most of my day and I didn't get to crafting until about 2:30. At least I could do laundry while I quilted!  And the Fall Back time change completely affects my sleep cycle. I crash about 9pm and wake up at 4am. It takes me several weeks to get into a normal schedule again.

    The quilt is progressing, but obviously I didn't get very far this weekend, much less finish. [Sigh] I might not finish this puppy this year, but at least I'm closer to finishing!
    .


    October 2012 recap...

    ...I finally got my new glasses prescription on the 24th. I'm still getting used to them, but at least I can knit again!

    Finished:
    • 10/24 Tiffany handspun (Spinning) [Ravelry]
      Tiffany Wild Card Bling Batts (5.5oz) from the Yarn Wench;
      147.0 yds chain-ply, 11 WPI;
      26 yds single ply, 16 WPI
    • 10/13 Studio bench cushions (sewing)
    • 10/11 Plum Sauce handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
      Merino top and pencil roving from Schoppel-Wolle (150g)
      308.9 yds, 2-ply, 13 WPI
    • 10/7 Chocolate-covered Raspberries handspun, skein #2 (spinning) [Ravelry]
      Seawool top (8 oz total) by Creatively Dyed
      217.75 yd, 13 WPI chain-plied
    • 10/7 Isonzo handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
      Wool/Bamboo/Seacell top from Creatively Dyed
      Chain-plied
      #1 180.5 yds, 13 WPI
      #2 178.7 yds, 14 WPI
    • Books:
      1. Skinwalker, Faith Hunter
      2. Blood Cross, Faith Hunter
      3. Cat Tales, Faith Hunter
      4. Mercy Blade, Faith Hunter
      5. Raven Cursed, Faith Hunter
      6. Death's Rival, Faith Hunter
      7. Into the Woods, Kim Harrison
      8. Nightwalker, Allyson James
    Started:
    none

    Worked on:
    1. Chasing Rainbows Heather--one Merino-Bombyx (2 oz) and one Merino wool (2 oz) (spinning)
    2. Jungle Songs quilt
    3. Misc studio tasks
    4. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
    5. Recipe for Summer by Pine Mountain Designs (cross stitch)

    Works In Progress, did not work on:
    1. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
    2. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
    3. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)
    4. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
    5. Natural Dyes batts from Yarn Wench (spinning) [Ravelry]
    6. Oriental Dragonfly, Dimensions kit (embroidery)
    7. Royale top, 2 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm [Ravelry
    8. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry

    IDJ (It's Dead, Jim):
    • Carousel Socks  (knitting) [Ravelry]

    UFOs/Hibernation:
    1. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
    2. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
    3. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry]
    4. Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)

    um, where did that week go?

    ...it's Eye Candy Friday again and I haven't posted since last Friday. And, it's now November! WTH! It's not even worth offering excuses, so let's just get on with it.

    The Husband and I decided to replace the hydrangea bush in the courtyard because it was simply did not like where it was planted. The courtyard gets a lot more sun than the hydrangea wants. We replaced it with a bougainvillea, which we will train to spread out rather than up so it does not block my studio window.

    The color is pretty intense right now, but it makes me happy!

    Bougainvillea

    Close up:

    Petals and Leaves

    He also planted a bowl of chrysanthemums that sits on the other side of the studio door:

    Pink chrysanthemums

    Since I missed WIP-it Wednesday, here's a look at one of my current WIPs:

    Summer Recipe, as of 10/30/12

    and another WIP that has gone back into hibernation.

    Pomatomus socks, as of 10/28/12

    I love the yarn and I like the pattern, but I keep falling asleep in the middle of a row! These socks might be destined for the frog pond. I haven't decided yet.

    Up this weekend: The Husband's parents are having a small family gathering. J's aunt (from Boston) and his sister (from New Orleans) are in town, so it should be a nice visit.  That will pretty much take care of Saturday. Sunday will be full of errands and I hope some crafting. I'd really like to finish quilting Jungle Songs, but I don;t think I'll have enough time this weekend to do so.

    Now that we're in November, I have one month to finish up some WIPs before I go into cookie mode in December.

    Guess I better craft faster!
    .

    Eye Candy...

    ...on a Saturday. After  processing the photos and uploading them to Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram, I forgot about the blog. Oops! The y...