Thursday, December 7, 2017

Decked out

Hello! How is the holiday season treating you? Things are running pretty smoothly over here so far. I'm not feeling too much stress, which is kind of unusual for me at this time of year. I finished my Christmas shopping earlier than ever before, and that helps a lot. I still have to wrap everything, but I'll do it in the evenings over the next couple of weeks. We decorated the Christmas tree and put up the outdoor lights and all the other indoor decorations over the weekend. I'm enjoying having the tree up. I've always liked the feeling of being at home with the Christmas tree all lit up, even in the middle of the day. In fact, I turn on the lights first thing in the morning. The lights are on a switch in the foyer and I walk right to it when I come out of the bedroom (it's about ten paces, my house is small). By New Year's, I'll be itching to get everything packed away but right now, I'm all about maximizing holiday enjoyment.

On that note, I plan to bake cookies over the next few days. I will donate most of them to next week's school bake-sale fundraiser, and probably take some to a friend's party on Sunday afternoon. I usually bake about four different kinds of cookies and will try to do that this year too. I hope to try my new cookie press - a birthday present - to make a large batch of spritz cookies. I've never tried making them before so I've been looking at recipes. I'm excited about all the different ways to decorate them with colored sugars, sprinkles, candied fruits,'s all so pretty. I've been thinking about Christmas dinner too; we'll have a spiral-sliced ham as usual, but I'm still deciding on side dishes and dessert.

It took me a bit to get excited about the holidays, but I'm finally starting to feel it now. The weather has been so warm and dry, it just didn't feel like winter until this week. Now it's freezing cold and we have a little bit of snow on the mountain for the first time. It helped some to go to the mall last week and see the decorations while the Bear and I finished up our shopping and made a return. And now the small Bears have started their chocolate Advent calendars, which lends a festive moment to every day.

Yesterday, I went to Trader Joe's and saw a few things I'll go back for closer to Christmas, for festive meals and snacking. I don't want to buy them too soon because then we'll just eat them all. I did buy a really cool amaryllis bulb. The bulb is dipped in wax and you don't have to water it. You don't even need a pot. I did put it on a saucer to protect my kitchen tablecloth, just in case the red wax rubs off or bleeds. Otherwise, it's really neat! The flowers will be red, which is my favorite amaryllis color. I may buy a poinsettia soon; I don't buy them every year but Smith's has the rose-pink ones I really like.

This weekend, I have a crafty project to work on, to help the LB's teacher. The school has its annual art show next week, just before school finishes for the holidays, and she needs name cards for the display tables. She knows I like to make stuff, so she always sends things home for me to put together. I get to work with pretty papers and glue, which suits me just fine. I've been crocheting a lot in between all the activities and that stashbuster I shared in my link party post is really coming along!

I've been reading in bed at night. We bought ourselves new bedding in the Black Friday online sales and now have a much warmer comforter and two new sets of sheets. I kept saying I was going to buy a white or cream cover to put on the old duvet, but when we seriously started to discuss it, we realized we didn't want to deal with white, and what we really needed was a warmer blanket, so we bought a linen comforter set. It's a pale duck-egg blue color, not white. It's very snuggly and warm, looks great in the room (very pulled-together and grown-up), and matches my Maybelle blanket beautifully, so I'm happy. I can't stay out of my bed now! Everybody wins, haha.

This post ended up being newsier and maybe choppier than I'd planned, but that's just life. I hope you have a good weekend! Enjoy your holiday prep and all the fun and festive times, and remember to breathe - everything is going to be just great.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Winter Project Link Party

Welcome to December's Winter Project Link Party! I hope you'll want to join me in sharing your current winter projects (or recent finishes) and cheering each other on to progress. This month, I'm sharing a stash-buster I started right after I finished Maybelle in November. I couldn't have predicted it, but I actually felt the itch to crochet again almost immediately. I had lots of I Love This Yarn worsted-weight acrylic in my stash from previous blankets and I had been wanting to clear it out for a while. I decided to make a blanket for the living room! I could really use a new one in there; the ones I have were made when I started crocheting in earnest about six or seven years ago. I like them, but I'm tired of them, and besides, they're both a bit small for our needs. I want to make one large blanket, and if I have enough yarn left over, I might make a smaller throw too. For this first blanket, I chose to make large solid-colored granny squares joined in cream, really simple and graphic; back to basics, really.

Here is what I've done so far. These squares are about 12 inches apiece, so the blanket is growing very quickly. Each has eleven rounds (including the cream-colored joining round), made on an I/9 hook. My plan calls for thirty squares total (arranged 5 by 6), which will give me a blanket about 5 by 6 feet before adding a border. I think this will be plenty big enough, but I can always add more squares if needed. I really like this blanket so far. The colors are great because they're all my favorites that I've stocked up on over the years, and I love the look of solid-colored granny squares; they allow texture to be as important as color.

I'm literally joining as I go, one square at a time, which I've never done before. Normally, I make all the squares first, and then have a big joining event at the end. I felt like changing my approach this time, though. These squares are simple and fast to join, and since they're so large, the blanket takes shape right away, which has been really satisfying. I love having a blanket grow down my lap as I work on it, but that can take some time. This blanket is an instant grower. I try to make an hour or so in my day for crochet and I'm usually successful, even if the hour is broken up in small parts here and there, or even if I have to crochet while giving spelling dictation or drilling in math facts. These squares are perfect for my crochet-time allotment because I can typically make and join one square in about an hour's time.

I'm trying a new technique for the squares, which is pretty exciting. I came across a square pattern on a blog called knitpurlhook, which taught me some new things that make granny squares way easier, especially if you're making them in just one color. I'd always turned my squares with each round to avoid getting a "twist" in the work, but this blogger's technique has you joining the rounds in a corner, and only adding one chain in each corner, which keeps the work straight. And you don't have to cut the yarn and start again on another side. It's a great technique, I recommend it highly. This blanket is really filling the bill for me right now, with holiday nuttiness ramping up. There's nothing like a simple, nearly-mindless project to give you a little peace and relaxation. Watching your stash dwindle is a pretty good feeling too.


It's link-up time! Please read the link-up guidelines below. To keep it fresh, please add your project posts about current works in progress or very recent finishes. You can add as many posts as you like.

Be sure to link back to this post in your winter project post to help spread the word about this link party!

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