Fijne Foodie Feest

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season.  Me?  I’m cooking and eating a lot.  And not running so much.  You know what that means…. it means I’ll have to start running a lot to get rid of this extra holiday flab.  Same story all over the western world I think.  We eat and relax and eat again!

Above is a photo of my chocolate and vanilla tart, with chocolate leaves.  Doesn’t that look pretty?  It was pretty tasty too.  On Christmas Eve we met with a group of friends, 16 of us in total, and each household had to bring a course.  We, as usual, bring dessert.  I made the above tart and a carrot cake.  I’m especially proud of the chocolate leaves, although actually it’s dead easy to do.  Melt some high quality Swiss dark chocolate (70% or more).  Go outside and get some small leaves that are still in good shape.  We have a Wisteria out back which sheds leaves much later than other trees so there are still a lot of green leaves on the ground.  Gently brush chocolate on the BACK of the leaves and put them in the fridge for 10 minutes or more.  Then paint on a second coat and chill again.  Be careful not to get chocolate on the front of the leaf.  When it is hard and cold carefully peel the leaf off and voila! Chocolate leaves.

I have a load of food photos from the past week.  I took photos of food we ate in Cologne (we were there for 2 days), food at Christmas, and just food everywhere.  I forgot to take photos of the Swiss dinner we hosted two nights ago.  DB’s family came over and we had cheese fondue and raclette and we kept to the traditions of those foods.  Thank goodness no one insisted in putting broccoli in the cheese fondue.

Here are some food photos from the past week:

Now I’ve made myself hungry.  I’m off to the kitchen….

Holiday Knitting

I can finally show you some things I knit for Christmas presents!  I knit socks for Mom, M & J.  Here they are:

These pink ones went to my mom.  I want to make myself a pair too.  All of the above socks were made with DK weight possum/merino/silk yarn.  I’d better warn everyone that they need to be washed by hand.  I forgot about that!  They are super soft and warm and perfect for cold winters.  I was pretty proud of myself for getting them done in plenty of time that they got to the recipients long before Christmas.  Yea!

M sent me a photo of her and J wearing their new socks on Christmas day:


These holidays I have quite a bit of knitting time and I’m busy with a few projects.  I’m making a new iPhone sock, a color work hat, and I just cast on for a cardigan.  The cardigan is for a KAL I started for our knitting group.  It’s actually a CKAL (cardigan knit-a-long) meaning you can knit any cardigan you like.  It’s supposed to be started and finished during the winter season, between 22 December and 21 March.  It’s so nice to be working with worsted weight yarn and bigger needles!  It moves right along.  I’ve started with a sleeve:

The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in color Mourning Dove.  This photo, with dim winter light, doesn’t show all the variations in the color very well.  I’ll try to get better photos as I go along.  The pattern is HERE.   Based on these photos you’d think I’m on a cable kick.  Maybe so.

Finding Some Spirit

We finally felt like doing some Christmas decorating.  Above is our little tree.  I love this tree.  I love it because it has lived 3 years in that pot in the back yard and let’s us bring him in every year and hang stuff on his arms, and he happily keeps growing every year.  We don’t use him for our Christmas tree every year because we are cheap.  We use him because he’s a survivor and deserves the attention.

We also put out some candles.

And I set the holiday animals in the front window.  Here’s how they greet everyone:

So, along with the pro”beer”tje is a knitted Christmas ball that a colleague of DB’s made for me (how sweet is that?!).

That’s about all the cheer we can muster up at the moment.  It should be enough to see us through the holidays.  How’s your holiday cheer holding up?

The Last FO for 2012

I’m pretty sure this will be last Finished Object for 2012.  This is the warm and squishy scarf I made to go with my glittens and hat.  It’s made with Madelinetosh DK, held double and knit on 7.5mm needles.  I used 400 grams in total (4 skeins).  It’s so thick and comfy!

There are several patterns out there that are similar.  Mine is not a cowl (like one popular design), the cables are a little closer together and fat, and the gauge is really different.  Therefore, I’m quite happy to tell you here exactly how I made it, without worrying about stepping on anyone’s copyright toes.  It’s dead easy:

CO 40 stitches.

row 1:  Knit 8, (k1, p1) x 8, knit 16.  row 2:  knit 16, (k1, p1) x 8, knit 8.

Repeat over and over and over.  Every 10 rows make an 8×8 cable over the 16 off-center (k1,p1) stitches.

This creates a reversible, thick scarf.  You could join the ends together to make a cowl, but that’s not what I wanted.  You could do the cables every 14 rows to make longer, less thick, cables.  You could choose to put the cable in the center.  Just play with it.  Have fun.  Knit yourself something beautiful and functional.

Now all we need is some really cold weather!  (I might regret saying that at some point…..)

That Time of Year

It’s that time of year when people are getting ready for the holidays, buying presents, decorating the house, preparing for guests.  Us? Not so much.  At least not yet.  Our holiday cheer is taking a beating.

If you’ve been following along with the story, first we were moving to London, then we weren’t, then DB would be unemployed here in NL since he quit his job to move to London, and now, dear readers, I’m going to be unemployed as well.  You know I never write about work in the blog, since it’s a damned small country here and it’s not a good idea to piss people off in a public forum (at least not yet; let’s wait and see how the end of this story really plays out).  But I will say that my lawyer is talking to their lawyer and hopefully we will all come out of this better off than we were two months ago.  Sigh.

Now, what do you do when your entire household will soon be without a job?  Go shopping of course!

We’d been wanting to buy some new kitchen pots for quite a while and with all the holiday sales going on, we decided now was the time.  We found these in a small lovely kitchen shop in Haarlem, regularly 380 euros on sale for 149 euros.  You can’t beat that.  They are stainless steel, built to last, safe to use everywhere, even the oven (except for the lids).

So, that’s our Christmas shopping out of the way!  Ha!

I also got a new iPhone 4S.  I’d been wanting get one since they were launched, but was waiting for…. well I don’t know what for.  A better price I guess.  I really wanted to get onto Vodafone’s network since they, and KPN, have the best network in the country.  T-Mobile is bloody slow and unreliable.  Telfort has a good phone network (they use KPN’s network), but their data traffic is the slowest of the lot.  Believe me, I’ve tried them all.  I was just very undecided if the quality of Vodafone was worth the premium price to me.

I built a business case spreadsheet.  I compared the price of ordering an unlocked phone from the US and having my mom send it to me.  I compared the 2 year cost of ownership in every configuration and carrier I could think of.  Until recently, getting a new 2 year contract with T-Mobile was the cheapest deal.  But then as of 2 days ago Vodafone dropped the price of the phone and is offering 4 months at half price for the service.  I plugged those new numbers into my spreadsheet and voila, Vodafone and T-Mobile were the same price over the 2 years!   Off I went to the Vodafone shop in Haarlem and came home with a lovely new white 16GB iPhone 4S.  Yea!

That’s the end of my toy shopping for the year.  I don’t need anything else.  I have to start being really conservative with money – from now on.  No clothes until I have a new job and need work clothes.  No shoes.  No tech toys.  No software.  No yarn – I have a house full!  No fancy dinners out – ok, maybe now and then dinner at an “eet cafe”.  We are so lucky to have all the great things that we have, and now is the time to appreciate what we have and realize that we don’t need a damned thing more.  Except jobs.

I’m so Blue

This last March I made some glittens (not mittens, not gloves, but glittons).  They are wonderful!  Here they are again.

I’ve been wanting a matching hat, and being too lazy to design my own, I chose to make a hat that already had a written pattern, called Uskglass.  That is a Ravelry link to the pattern.  Normally I link to non-Rav pages so that everyone can see them, but for some reason the author doesn’t have the pattern on her site.  Anyway, this blog post is about my hat.

I knit it in the same yarn as my glittens, namely, Madelinetosh DK in color Lapis.  Here is the hat, before blocking.

It’s really floppy and I wasn’t at all happy with the picot edge hem at the bottom.  It seemed way too big compared to the next cabled section and it didn’t lay nicely at all.

So I soaked it for a long time, then laid it over a small bowl, which was just the perfect size to smooth out the cables.  I turned the bowl upside down and sat it precariously on top of a wine bottle.  Don’t touch or it will fall over!  It sat like this for 2 days, drying.

Yesterday it was dry and today I got DB’s help to take some photos of the finished hat, on my head.  I’m super happy with it!

Now all we need is some cold weather.  It has been super windy these past days, but not all that cold.  I hate the wind.  I’d trade it for 10 degrees colder and no wind.  Then I could wear my hat!

I still have enough of this yarn left over to make the 3rd piece of the set….. you guessed it – a scarf.  I wanted something quick and easy to make so that I can finish it in time to wear this winter.  There are several scarf patterns out there that are like that, but of course I wanted something just a little bit different.

I’ve ended up knitting a scarf with 2 strands of this DK weight yarn held together, making it more like Aran weight yarn.  I’m using big needles so it’s zipping along.  It is also completely reversible, which I love.  Here’s a WIP photo:

I’ll tell you all about how I made it when it is finished and I can properly show it off.

So, I will be all blue from head to finger tips, very soon.

Hands and Feet FOs

I have some FOs (finished objects) to show you.  They aren’t ALL the FOs I have to show you, but this is what I can post before Christmas.

First, some mittens for the woman who has been giving both DB and I massages for the past 5 years.  It’s about time I knit her something for her hands.

These are snapdragon mittens from the lovely and talented Ysolda Teague.  They are knit with 8 play Supreme Possum Merino yarn so they will be super duper warm.  I had made a pair of these for my mom already, so the second time worked up pretty quickly.

Here they are buttoned with the flip top folded back.

Next, I have finished my November SKA socks, Magic Mirror, made with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn.  I have to say, I don’t know if I’d make socks with this yarn again.  Actually I bought the yarn to make something complete different, but thought the’d look good for this sock pattern.  The sock pattern was on the list of possibility for the November SKA KAL, so I went for it.

This yarn is heavier than normal sock yarn so I ended up knitting them on 2.5mm needles and making the small size.  They fit my medium sized feet just perfectly.  They do feel nice and cozy!

I’m almost finished knitting a hat, in the same yarn I made Glittens out of last year.  I’ll post that up in a few days I think.

On the Amsterdam SnB group on Ravelry we are getting ready to start a Winter CKAL (Cardigan Knit A Along) and I’m so excited to start knitting a big winter sweater.  It’s been AGES since I knit something like that.  About time to do it again!  More on that coming up soon.