Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 12 Disasters of Christmas

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And now for a special holiday edition of First World Problems! Here's your post-holiday quiz...which of the following twelve disasters befell the Lottloft before Christmas?

  1. The Christmas tree sustained a terrible gash at the hands of incompetent Home Depot staff, so it died in like a week.
  2. Aforementioned injured tree fell with a spectacular crash. Three ornaments remain unbroken.
  3. Although we own approximately 62 strings of lights, only two of them actually worked.
  4. Michael gets sick enough to have to go to the doctor, resulting in loss of cookie baking time.
  5. Michael loses a toe when he drops a stocking holder on his foot in a bout of illness-induced vertigo.
  6. While taking a vacation day, I am made late for a Christmas party because my office calls me to fix a problem created by someone else...who is also on vacation but is NOT called to fix his problem.
  7. Our house fills with toxic black smoke and we have to evacuate.
  8. Problems at work continue for a second day, meaning that to get ready for dinner and a show out with Michael's parents, I have to get ready one-handed while I type with the other.
  9. On the third day of issues from work, there were no French hens, but ugly tears when I realize there's no way I can still get all the cookies baked and presents made on time.
  10. Even though I've made the same cookies for six years in a row, this year's batch turns out flat as crispy little pancakes.
  11. Pre-Christmas rain exacerbated some leaks in the Lottloft, causing water to pour through new holes in the ceiling.
  12. I realize I've made a mistake on my sister's knitted mitts...50 rounds back.

One of these is made up, three are exaggerated, but the rest TOTALLY HAPPENED. Ready to see the answers?

  1. Gashed Christmas tree - TRUE
    I always take a piece of ribbon with me the same length as our tree stand is deep, so I know which branches to tell them to cut off. A "helpful" employee made a mark on the trunk at that height, but the guy with the buzz saw thought that meant where he should CUT OFF THE TRUNK. My high-pitched screeches stopped his saw after he'd cut through the trunk about 1/3 of the way. They offered to give us a taller tree (duh...it wouldn't fit), but we'd already spent an hour picking this one out, so we decided to risk it. The tree refused to drink any water and is now a nine-foot-tall fire hazard.
  2. Tree crash - FALSE
    I am an engineer, after all.
  3. Massive light failure - EXAGGERATED
    There were a few strands of lights that didn't work, but they were old outside lights, and no big loss.
  4. Michael's ill - TRUE
    Poor guy; he had a sinus infection. He was laid flat for two days (ministrations caused me to lose some additional prep time) and had to go in to work later, on the day before family festivities.
  5. Michael loses a toe - EXAGGERATED
    He "just" hurt his foot pretty bad. But in later days, continuing sickness-induced clumsiness caused him to kick a door with the other foot, and bang each of his knees several times.
  6. Idiot coworker ruins Christmas - TRUE
    Did I mention that I received the call right after we got home from taking Michael to the doctor and the pharmacy? When I was thinking, OK, I CAN STILL MAKE THIS CHRISTMAS THING HAPPEN!
  7. Toxic black smoke - TRUE
    A rubber-handled pizza cutter fell on the heating element in the dishwasher. I realized soon that I needed to get my spouse's infected sinuses to fresh air, so we went up to the deck. Luckily, it was 60 (degrees F). Unluckily, it was windy and the wifi only reached so far, so I had to sit with my back against the deck door (on the floor) to get reception. Because I was working. Yeah...this happened pretty much right after the call. I had to throw out another batch of cookies due to smoke pollution.
  8. Getting ready one-handed - TRUE
    Yeah. Although I told them I needed to leave, they kept asking questions. I finally just shut the computer and left.
  9. Work still can't do anything without me - TRUE
    It's nice to be needed, but this is ridiculous. All told, I lost over 12 hours of baking and prep time.
  10. Sudden cookie problems - TRUE
    Not tragic, but did I mention this happened after the whole illness-noxious fumes-work apocalypse thing?
  11. Water pours through the ceiling - TRUE
    Seriously?? My Christmas present was supposed to be having leaks fixed, not having more turn up!
  12. Knit mitt mistake - EXAGGERATED
    It was only four rows back. I did however take about six tries...I think?...to pick up stitches on the cuff for the mitt just before I realized my mistake. I managed to get one mitt done for my sister. *sigh* At least she crafts, too, so she understands. Plus, she showed up with a handmade ornament for me...that she was supposed to give me last year. =)

So how'd you do? Did you guess correctly?

I hope your New Year has fewer problems than my run up to Christmas!

No real disasters, my holiday plans were just derailed a bit by an idiot at work!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day Book Winners

There were three of you who said you'd like a Kindle book in my Advent Blog Hop giveaway: Gillie, Brenda, and Carolyn. Three is such a nice, round number, so I'm happy to say you each win a book! Please send me your selection by the 31st (you'd better send me a second choice just in case you all end up wanting the same book).

Coming up in my next post, a quiz: who out there thinks they can name all the disasters that occurred at the lottloft leading up to Christmas??

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Blessings


May the love and peace of the season surround your heart.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Online Advent Calendar

Dasher by Mirabilia

Welcome, welcome! For those of you that have never been here before, I'm glad to have you! And for my regular readers, in case you don't know what's going on, I'm participating in Jo's annual Advent calendar blog hop. Click on that link and you can enjoy previous days and wait around for days to come!

Now stop dashing around for just a little while (see what I did there?) and let's hang out and talk about...COOKIES!!

Jo asked us to talk about festive foods we enjoy. Well, for me, Christmas means cookies. Ever since college, I have made at least six or seven varieties each year. It all started with one Christmas cookies cookbook (from Better Homes and Gardens) that came as a freebie with some other book my mom ordered. I confiscated it and started out trying new cookies each year. As time went on, though, my family started DEMANDING barring the door if I showed up without requesting certain cookies, so now there are three favorites that get made every year: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies (recipe here...they're the bottom right cookies in the picture above), Eggnog Thumbprints (above the gingerbread...this recipe is close, and you can substitute milk + rum extract for the rum), and Buried Cherry cookies (here, which my family continually amuses me by pronouncing "burrrried churrries"). Yeah...these:

I really do enjoy trying new cookies, though. This was a fun one...
A Dutch Stroopwafel, filled with caramel. You set it on top of your teacup (or coffee mug, if you're into that sort of thing) to melt the caramel before munching and dunking away!

Each year I give away some cookies to a select few who really appreciate them.
One year I gave some to a friend and never heard a thing from him. I finally asked, "Did you enjoy the cookies?" His response was, "Oh, yeah, they were good." He was off the list!

This year I joined the Cookie A Sock Club, and in addition to two beautiful patterns and an oh-so-squishable skein of sock yarn every two months, I also get two cookie recipes.
I've tried a lot of new things this year thanks to the club, and I've baked a lot more, so maybe in the future it won't seem so onerous to "only" try three or four new cookies at Christmas.

If you have read this far (whether or not you had to get up and take a cookie break), CONGRATULATIONS!! You're entitled to a giveaway! I went a little nuts on Black Friday ordering Kindle books, and I ended up getting a few special offers as a result. Since I'd already gotten a lot of new books, I wasn't that interested in getting more, so I thought I'd share with you guys! Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can use the free Kindle app on almost any device, or you can read online. So if you'd like one of these books, leave a comment on this post (you don't need to tell me which book you'd like now). Here's the list:
Fiction books
Mystery books
Science Fiction books
Young Adult books

I'll pick some winners on Boxing Day (the 26th). I *think* I can gift the books even if you're not in the US, but if that turns out not to be true, I'll substitute something else. =) If you win, you'll need to get your email address to me before the 31st.

Thanks for joining me, and I hope you all have a blessed Christmas filled with fun, friends and family...and COOKIES!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Theme-a-licious Detritus December Check-in

You guys, I continue to be very impressed with the themes you're sending in! You're all so inspiring! For those of you that haven't sent in a theme suggestion yet...what are you waiting for? (See here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) Remember, your theme can be as carefully crafted or as simple as you'd like...I'll take care of writing it up if you just want to send me one word! And you'll get a prize if your theme is chosen!

This is going to be a yarn-heavy post!!

The Cookie A Sock Club has caused me to get a lot more things finished because there are potential PRIZES...each shipment, Cookie draws a winner from all the FOs from the past shipment. This time around, the entries were worth double...and the prize was membership for next year! Although I sadly didn't win, I did finish two more socks. First, these are Vamps:
They are still blocking here, and it's not the best picture, since it was really just for "proof" that I'd finished. I'll take a better picture with them actually on my feet (and it'll probably be coming to a Finished Object Friday near you. ;)

Next, I had a pair of socks that only needed a couple inches and a toe done; I had put them away to start the next shipment. These were actually the second pair of socks I knit in the same shipment! I guess my track record isn't too bad; out of five shipments, I knit both socks from two of them. In fact, there's only one of the shipments that I don't plan to knit both socks!! Anyway, without further ado, here are my Pirouettes:
Also not a great picture...and also pre-blocking.

And in case you missed it in the last post, I also finished a cowl.

Whoah. Of course, I have finished ZERO needlework projects. That's OK; I have done a little work on my hardanger piece, but it doesn't look that much different than it did at the end of November. I've only done half of the filling of the section I cut out. I WILL finish this this month!!

So how is Detritus December going? Are you clearing anything off your WIP list...or at least making some progress in that direction? Please add your link below (to your check in post), and visit some other Themers if you can (everyone loves comments and encouragement!) Our next post will be on the 1st of January (not the 31st of December like usual...we're switching to the 2014 beginning-of-month dates), when we'll wrap up Detritus December and embark on the New Year of Theme-a-licious, starting with Jardin January!

Remember to go here if you want a sidebar graphic for your blog (or a header graphic for a blog post)!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Honey Wine Cowl

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I can't believe I'm posting two Finished Object Fridays in a row!! Hmmm...I notice I haven't posted much else. I'm waiting for the Christmas tree to be completely, completely done to post about that (it's been mostly done for a week!). Of course, Theme-a-licious check-in is coming up, and you are all doing SO WELL with sending in your themes! I'm greatly enjoying your creativity and I've giggled over several of them! But remember that, along with the finely-crafted, alliterative and generally clever themes you've been sending in, you can also just send me something simple, like "hearts". I can spin it into a particular month. So if your creative juices are drying up like a batch of gingerbread you left in the oven too long, don't let that stop you from participating!

So now...on with the finished object!

This is a Honey Cowl, knit in Malabrigo Rios. YUM, this yarn is sooo soft! It's knit with only one skein, as I didn't want a super-wide cowl (plus I only had one skein due to a bone-headed purchase--towards the end there). I'm excited to have one more thing off the needles! Soon I'll be in single-digits with knitting WIPs!

BWAHAHAHA!! None of you buy THAT, do you?

Jiff Notes
Two Finished Object Fridays in a row?? What is the world coming to around here??? For more lovely knits, head over to Tami's Amis and Wisdom Begins in Wonder!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Istanbul (not Constantinople)

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I have two...TWO!...things to show you today. First off, here is another installment in the Cookie A Sock Club, Istanbul (not Constantinople...sorry; still genetically incapable of saying one without the other):
I tried a new heel on these (short rows with wrap & turn) because I DETEST picking up gusset stitches. It looks a little strange to me and I was worried I'd feel the decrease there along the heel, but I wore these the other day and only noticed it once.
My real disappointment with these socks is how HUGE they are. It seems I'm a very loose lace knitter (which is odd to me given the death grip I have on the needles all the time). I knit the small size, and even went down a needle size, but I guess I should have gone down another needle size. That being said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color of these (Inkwell by Miss Babs) and the lace is beautiful.

And to answer the question I know you all have, NO, I am not wearing white tights underneath these. My legs are really that white in sunlight.

Next, I finally FINALLY finished a square box that I started...back in May?? Gee whiz.
I still love my sewing machine, and although some bits of the bag are kind of wonky, I'm pretty pleased with it. It's lined an everything!
This is not for the faint of heart, though, and I gotta tell you that you should go pay those sellers on Etsy whatever they want for one of these bags!! One bit of the instructions I followed had me staring at the screen for about five minutes straight before I understood them!

For more finished objects, check out Tami's Amis and Wisdom Begins in Wonder!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Theme-a-licious 2014...This Year, It's Personal!

Finally! I know some of you have been waiting for this post, and I'm sorry it's so late!

Since some of you demanded a theme every month (*cough*Jo*cough*), I have obliged...but you're going to have to help! Only half the themes will be set at the beginning of the year, and the other months I will draw a theme that one of YOU has sent in! If your theme is drawn, you'll get a little prize from me. =) We'll only post once per month, on the first, to wrap up the previous month and talk about the coming month...or would you rather continue on the last day of the month? I'm flexible.

So...here are the themes! I'm afraid I couldn't give up my favorites. =)

Jardin January
The holidays were a little stressful...let's relax in a nice garden. Work on any piece with flowers or gardens.

It's a Mystery...for now!

March Madness
Work on something different every day...it's madness...of the funnest possible kind.

It's a Mystery...for now!

Menagerie May
Is it a zoo in your stack of WIPs? How many projects can you find that include animals or birds?

It's a Mystery...for now!

Jubilee July
It's time to celebrate! What are you celebrating this year? Stitch on your holiday-related projects, OR find some WIPs you know you'll never finish and set them free.

It's a Mystery...for now!

Supersize September
Dip your needle into the vast swath of fabric dedicated to your BIGGEST projects!

It's a Mystery...for now!

No-Xs November
What can you make without making an X?? Blackwork, hardanger, embroidery, needlelace, and the list goes on! Don't panic...you can even backstitch for the month!

It's a Mystery...for now!

Well, I guess that's about it! Oh, what's that? You want graphics?? ;)

What do you think? =) There's also a plain version for those of you that don't care for Sherlock (say what??)

Now, to use the graphics, just link to the ones on my site, because if you download and upload to Blogger, the banner won't animate. Just click in the box under the graphic you want, copy, and paste into your post (or your sidebar, for the small graphic).

The theme's afoot! Version:

Non-geeky, plain version (not that there's anything wrong with that):

Sidebar graphic:

I'm looking forward to seeing what you all come up with...email me your themes now! You can email as many as you want, so email early and often. ;)

Old Geek-outs