Big day done

 Wow!  I managed to spend the whole time in the kitchen and got hardly any pictures of the big event.  That's sad.  Rob got sick the next day, so I've spent the rest of the time cleaning up from the holiday and trying to help take care of him.  

Here are our stockings in front of the fireplace.  

And, here are a couple pictures from my cake.  It's delicious!  Spice cake with orange filling and an orange cream cheese frosting.  The frosting recipe I picked didn't work for cake decorating, but I did the best I could with it.  It wouldn't firm up enough to make good shapes, so everything is kind of a blob of frosting. But, I was pretty happy with my ability to wield a piping bag.  

Unfortunately, most of it will go in the trash.  I won't be able to eat the whole thing, but I'm putting the biggest dent in it that I can while it's here.  If I'm going to bake like this, then we're going to have to make some friends to come help us eat it.  

I got to enjoy the last of the Camelia blooms on Christmas.  We had cold weather early this year, so it bloomed closer to Thanksgiving than Christmas, which was unusual.  

Yesterday, while Rob slept, I sneaked away and started playing with my sweater.  I had committed to not starting until I had finished the second Linus afghan, but I ran out of white yarn and "couldn't make anything else work" (read that as I was self indulgent and wanted to work on what I wanted to work on).  To test the gauge, she had me knit a section of the cable pattern.  It's a quarter inch too narrow and a half inch too long which, when blocked, should come out perfect!

It was a good thing she had me do that as practice.  My skills at reading a cabling chart were rusty and it took most of the day!

I don't think Rob has Covid; there's no cough.  But, he is really sick.  Unfortunately, we spent two days taking his temp with a defective thermometer.  It kept saying his temp was normal, so we weren't too worried.  Then, last night, he said "I can't be this sick and not have a fever" so we got an older thermometer (30 years old, maybe?) and took it again and he was right.  He said it was up and down all night.  He says he's feeling better today, and that's a good thing.  

I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling a little post holiday blues.  The hype and distraction of the holiday is over and Rob is sick and I don't really care for the way Syd drops by to eat but runs before dishes, so she can spend the holiday with several other families.  (As far as I'm concerned, if that's how it's going to be, then she can leave me off her list of places to drop by.)  And, now the holiday's over, I'm feeling a bit adrift at sea.  It will pass.  I just need to decide what I want to do with the rest of my time off and get up off my butt and start doing it.  That will make me feel better.  Taking care of myself always does.  Maybe I'll work on this sweater in earnest.  Maybe I'll work in the yard...the days have been beautiful!  Or, maybe I'll just sit and watch what I want to on TV for a change.  Either way, the solution is going to be self-care for a few days.  I deserve it.  I put on two holiday feasts and was a great host.  Next should be "me time".  

Everyone be well.  Take some time for self-care.  Be as good to yourself as you were to everyone else.  



Tis the busiest season...

It's always so busy this time of year, so much going on.  Shopping and wrapping and being of good cheer.  Oh, and the weeping.  Almost every Christmas movie makes me cry, so of course, Rob insists we watch every one ever made.  This year, for the first time, he lumped Desk Set with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in.  I'd never thought of it as a Christmas movie, but turns out, it is in a way.  Fortunately, that's one that doesn't make me cry.  But when Patrick Stewart as Scrooge wakes up and realizes he's alive and starts to laugh, I start to cry every time.  (and I hope I always do)

I did more baking this weekend, making cheese straws and more Hello Dollies and I baked the cakes for Christmas Day.  I made some delicious savory spiced pecans, too.  I followed the recipe and when they came out, they didn't taste like anything, not even a pecan.  Since I didn't have anything to lose, I poured another egg over them and added some additional spices and a bit of sugar and they came out as some of the best spiced pecans I ever made.  And, I managed to give myself a good cut on the finger that really put a damper on the rest of the baking day.  We've been watching The Great British Baking Show, so I have great aspirations for my Christmas cake.  We will see what I can actually pull off.  Three layers of spice cake with a cream cheese frosting and maybe an orange filling.  I'd like to pipe a Christmas tree on top...we will see.  

I finished the Linus afghan.  All made from leftovers and scraps from other projects.  And, I've started another with narrower stripes that will use up smaller balls of yarn.  I've also decided I want to make another sweater, so I've bought a bunch of skeins of wool and am trying to pick a pattern for a cable knit cardigan.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of options.  

I did get to wear a pair of hand knitted socks last week.  I'm hesitant to wear them around the house when I'm working from home, but I needed to go to the optometrist and  it gave me a chance to wear some nice socks and shoes for a change.  

I also think I've picked the border and back for the maple leaf quilt.  We will see when they get here.  The batik is for the border and the paisley for the back.  

I also spent a little time making Christmas masks for us and Syd and her bf.  We're not quite sure what to make of the bf being here for the holidays.  I think Rob had an expectation that we'd still get some time with just Syd, but I don't think she has that same plan.  We will see.  I just keep being reminded that "they grow up so fast."  I thought about buying Syd a Barbie doll because things were just so much simpler back when that was the right gift.  

My man, all masked up in his new mask.

I thought I'd share some Christmas decorations.  This is the mantle, with the Santa collection and some other odds and ends of Christmas cheer.  

And, one of Rob's villages.

And, my favorite Christmas quilt.  

And, one last picture of a December rose.  That will be the last one of the year, and even it is not perfect...but it was welcome the day I found it.

The holidays are hard for a lot of people.  I'm one of them.  The expectations others put on the holidays are a bit overwhelming.  Always one to doubt myself, trying to meet the expectations of others just adds to that.  I try to focus on meeting my expectations and let the rest go as it will, but the closer we get to the big day, the harder that is to do.  I know that most people are of good cheer this season, but also remember those that are struggling to be cheerful amid what feels like a mountain of other people's expectations and disappointments.  And, if you're feeling that way, remember that it's okay to step back from everyone else sometimes and just take care of you.  Life can't just be about meeting the expectations of others.  

Be well, have a good holiday season, no matter what you're celebrating, and try not to think about how much you'd like to shove some blowhard relative's head up that part of the turkey that went over the fence last.  

Happy Holidays to you and yours! God bless us every one.  

Lane, Rob and Syd


All together now

The maple leaf blocks are an official quilt top.  The search for a border needs to begin in earnest.

 I've tried a few things and have determined it needs to be falling leaves on a brown background. I have the perfect fabric.  Unfortunately, it's the leftover backing from a quilt I gave this family earlier.  That doesn't mean I can't use it...it just feels a little awkward.  I know that if I don't find anything else, I'll have that as a fall back.   (fall fabric for a fall back...I crack me up.)

I was sitting in the living room last night, watching TV and looking at this quilt.  This is such a simple quilt and I'm really enjoying it.  

We went to another neighborhood concert on Saturday.  We both dressed comfortably for sitting in the sun, but then the sun wend down past the houses and we were quite chilly, but the concert was great.  They added a guitarist...from George Strait's band, and he really took it up a notch.  A nice crowd showed up and everyone had fun.

Even though it's gotten cold and the flowers are about all gone, there's still plenty of color in the garden.  

For a while, the leaves will carry the load...at least til the first freeze.

This weekend, I set up the portable greenhouse and moved more plants in and I put a few things in the ground.  Of course, I didn't take pics.  I also spent a good part of the weekend baking.  4.5 dozen frosted sugar cookies, not pretty but delicious!  Some Rugelach that I found in Southern Living.  If I do them again, I'll use twice the sugar and cinnamon and a semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet, but they're still good (even though Rob TV ran the saddest Christmas movie ever while I was baking them...maybe that's why they're not sweeter).  Hello Dollies were a holiday staple in my Grandmother's kitchen.  A graham cracker crust topped with coconut, chocolate chips and pecans, layered with sweetened condensed milk and baked.  Delicious, indeed!  And, in the center are some sausage biscuits.  The rest of those are in the freezer to be baked a few at a time.  For Christmas Day, I'm baking a spice cake and going to see if my pastry bag skills are still any good...fingers crossed. 

So that's how I spent the week.  Quilting, baking, gardening, being a good husband and a good father.  And, working my bohonkus off because it was the first week of the month.  Hopefully this week will be a bit slower.


Today, the electoral college votes.  This is getting out of hand.  People are likely going to get hurt. Hopefully, democracy will survive, tho it will be tattered.  Hopefully, we can do better over the next four years than we've done in the last four.  

Oh, and it's Dr Jill Biden, no matter what that creepy man at the WSJ said.  

Everybody have a good week.  Stay home, stay safe.  



The first Monday of December

 I can hardly believe we are this close to the holidays and the new year.  I went to Michael's for an in-store pickup and couldn't believe the crowd.  I looked around and thought 'don't you people have television?  do you know what news is?'  That made my decision about Christmas shopping.  If it can't come in the mail or curbside, cash will do...not just to protect myself but to protect all those people having to work in the stores.  As a society, are we really so into 'gotta have more stuff' that it's worth risking lives for?  And, then I turn on the news and realize that half the country is easily fooled and doesn't care about anybody but themselves.  All I can do is be a better man.

And, as a better man, I stayed home and worked on the Maple Leaf quilt.  I got it laid out...that took hours and two of us looking at it to try to get all the leaves pointing in different directions and the illusion of leaves falling.  The quilt is assembled from left to right, but not from top to bottom.  I'll need to press the seams in opposite directions before I can start doing that.  And, we still don't have border fabric.  But, all happens as it's supposed to happen, right?  This quilt is made almost completely out of the scrap bin.  I hardly needed to cut into my batik stash to create the leaves.  

Remember that I was holding off until new fabric arrived  in case it was a little different color.  The color was spot on, but the fabric density was different.  I run into this all the time with JoAnn's fabric.  I was able to show it to Rob not long ago when we found two bolts of a fabric, but they were from different runs, so one was a nice heavy quilting cotton.  One wasn't much thicker than gauze.  They do the first print on a nice fabric, then they do additional runs of popular prints on a much lighter weight fabric.  You can't really see it above, but if you look from the side, you can see that some of the plain squares are twice as dense as others.  It won't show when it's all on a lighter colored batting, but while it's on this tan carpet, you can see it.  Such a disappointment, and more reason to buy from a reputable quilt shop that focuses on quilting cottons.  (that and the fact I can never predict how much anything will cost in JoAnn's anymore...such a disappointment at the register.)

I spent most of Saturday getting the greenhouse ready.  We had our first freeze warning last week and I dragged everything I could in here and just piled it in, but I couldn't have gotten in to water anything, so I took it all out, cleaned up a bit and then moved it back in, taking advantage of all the shelving and space that was available.  And, when I was done, I gave it all a good watering to make sure I could get to every pot.  Now they're snug as can be and ready for cold weather.  Next week, I'll set up the portable greenhouse and get the larger plants moved into it.  

Rob finished out outdoor decorations this weekend.  Frosty has been freed from captivity in the garage and has a place in the front flowerbed.  

And, the blue lights are on the outside of the house.  The blue lights go great with the gray paint.  

Speaking of new paint, our contract with the contractor officially ended last week.  The door and window company chose not to honor the warranty on the doors in our bedroom and offered him his money back to go buy doors elsewhere...real reputable company there, right?  They delivered a set of doors that was 3/4 the size of our current doors.  I smiled at the delivery guys and told them not to leave them here.  Since the contractor didn't have to pay for the original set of doors, neither did we.  While we were not willing to add a sweep to the door to fix the small flaw when we were paying for the doors, we found ourselves willing to add a sweep when the doors were free.  We're funny like that.  

I'm starting to think that I'm the last person still baking bread.  Everybody was doing it when lockdown started.  I'm fine being the last person.  That thick warm chunk of bread I cut off the loaf last night and smeared with peach preserves was so worth it.  Two loaves is enough for 2-3 weeks and that seems worth it, especially since the Kitchenaid does all the hard work.  All I have is a little hand kneading at the end to bring it all together.  I also made cornbread and a big pot of vegetable beef soup yesterday.  Tis the soup season.  

Rob's dog hurt her back last week.  She had a very expensive visit to the vet where we found out she has arthritis all along her spine, so we're being very careful with her now.  She's finally starting to get back to her old self.  She laid on a blanket in our bedroom for almost a week.  

I didn't realize when I took this picture that she was licking her nose.  Is that the equivalent of catching someone with their eyes closed?

Everybody have a great week.  Stay home.  Wear a mask when you have to go out.  Find ways to connect that don't include face to face contact.  We can do this.  Be well.  Lane