A Bo Ssam Christmas














This is by far my most favorite time of year, and I love it even more when we host a Christmas party. This weekend we did just that with a Bo Ssam party. If you don't know what Bo Ssam is, I didn't know until last month and now I'm a BIG fan! It's a Korean dish of slow roasted pork shoulder and it's delicious. It's served with tasty and light Korean side dishes. I didn't get any pictures of the food but did get some pre-party pictures of the party set-up and the house decorated for Christmas. But I'm here to tell you that a Bo Ssam party is the way to go for a big buffet. It was fantastic in every way because:

It's economical.
It's super easy--(as in no possible way to fail).
It's easy to serve.
Your guests will love it.

Just about everyone went back for seconds and some for thirds. I think it's ideal for a big or small winter party as the meat slow roasts in the oven all day and warms the kitchen and makes the house smell heavenly. If you are thinking of what to make for your next gathering, make this! I promise you that you won't regret it. One of my girlfriends is going to make this for Christmas day and I'm going to make it again for New Years Day for my family.

This is not my picture, but this is what the meat looks like when you take it out of the oven.
Image credit: What's Gaby Cooking

Here's the link for a Bo Ssam pork shoulder recipe that originated with David Chang of Momofuku.  It was an absolute delight to serve this and every single guest asked for the recipe.

Some extra party details: 

-I was lucky and had some girlfriends to help me bring and serve food such as appetizers, dessert and sides. I do think you could tackle this on your own, just make sure that all your recipes are simple and do-ahead.

-We served only wine, champagne, and sparkling water. Our cocktail hour was a bit long at 1 1/2 hours, but we were celebrating a birthday and had toasts to make!

-I borrowed glasses and plates. I wouldn't mind renting, but I do have friends who are happy to loan    me things, so why not save money?

-We served two appetizers and had Nigella's Lemon Polenta Cake for dessert.

-We purchased ready made sauces.

-For 26 people I made three 8 lb. pork shoulders and used 3 cups of salt and 3 cups of sugar for the marinade. Don't freak out, that is only for the marinade and it is discarded before cooking. After marinating I didn't scrape off any of the sugar and salt that was still left on the meat. I didn't do the final step with brown sugar as my roasts were nicely browned and it was packed with flavor already. 

- I served it with butter lettuce cups, rice, and picked three Korean sides from this wonderful site, but I think two would have been enough.

-We had a buffet line and I had four friends help with serving: one passed out plates and one served the meat (and gave a little lesson explaining what it was and how to eat it); another friend served the vegetables; another friend helped serve and explain the sauces. I was at the end of the line to hand out a napkin and fork. This helped to speed up the process of feeding 26 people while the food was still hot!

-Just as the buffet line opened, I asked a few men to open up more bottles of wine and put them around tables.

-I had space at my dining and kitchen tables for sitting for only half the people. The rest sat on the sofas in the family room and living room, which is fine because it's easy to eat and no knife was needed.

-I engaged a few friends to gather the plates and put them in the sink, but I do my dishes after the guests leave.


See you soon with some knitting!

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tot sweater and hat ensemble







You'd never know it by the way I'm lollygagging around the house this morning, but we're having a party tonight. I have the house decorated for Christmas and have many things done so I gave myself permission to do as I please until lunchtime. Then I'll hit the party mode button hard and go full steam.  I think the house looks pretty and the party should be fun; a Bo Ssam party for a special birthday for a special friend. Never heard of a Bo Ssam party? Me neither, not until last month when I was invited to one. I think it's a great idea for a large buffet, and three big pork shoulders are slow roasting in the oven right now and will continue to roast all day, warming up the kitchen and making the house smell heavenly. I've got a posse of girlfriends coming to help me a half hour before the party starts, just at that time when I am in full panic mode. It's not until the fire is on and the candles are lit and the first guest arrives that I finally feel I can relax. If I get some nice pictures I'll post them here, but either way I'll let you know how it goes and I'll be honest whether or not Bo Ssam is a good party idea. Wish me luck.

I've finished a few sweaters, more like six! I am determined to get them photographed and blogged in January. In the meantime I am merrily wearing them. They were all on biggish needles, size 6 and 7. It really made me miss tiny needles! I was thrilled to see that Kate, this gorgeous cardigan by Truly Mrytle is now available for download. I snapped it up right away and cast on with some wool I purchased in Quebec City last month. It's lovely to knit with and so nice to be holding skinny needles again. I'm taking it on a trip next week to the Pacific Northwest to visit a girlfriend, just me, no hubby. We are going to take long walks, go wine tasting, sit by the fire and chat and knit. And lollygag for sure, a lot of that! I CANNOT WAIT!

The baby ensemble was made for my grandson. He's coming for an overnight tomorrow so I hope to get some cute pictures of him wearing it. I think we are going to take him out after dinner to see some pretty Candy Cane Lane streets. We have one in our town and one in a neighboring town. If you are unfamiliar with the term, Candy Cane Lane is a name given to a specific street in cities around the world which have their houses decorated for Christmas every year. I've always thought it would be so fun to live on a Candy Cane Lane, but now that I'm older and I realize all the work that goes into it, I'm glad I'm not! I have to beg shamelessly to get my husband to hang up two stands of lights! 

Both the hat and pullover patterns are FREE! The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in natural and the colored stuff is Mineville Wool Project DK, but it knit as a worsted weight for me. I rarely use crazy variegated wool like this because I loath pooling and sometimes you don't notice it's happening until too late, but this yarn behaved itself and striped up nicely and only pooled once (I cut my yarn and rejoined). I guess I also just don't really care for variegated yarn, but I like this for a baby. I think he'll look like a living doll in his new sweater and a pair of jeans. The button is from a dress I had as a child. It had clowns all over it and I loved it so much, that when I outgrew it and had to give it away, I secretly cut off the buttons and have somehow saved them all this time. This is the last one left. Just looking at it makes me laugh. I only recently told my mother about all the buttons I cut off my dresses when I was a little girl. She didn't seem surprised. 

Tiny Tot hat pattern by Knitionary is a free pattern download.
French Macaroon by the Noble Thread is a free pattern download.
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Summer into Fall







I adore this little dress! Summer Into Fall by Lisa Chemery is a pattern I've had my eye on for a long time and I was happy when I had the occasion to make it. I made the size 4 and used 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.  Like all the other cashmerinos, it's lovely stuff, machine washable, and it's also pretty safe to go in a warm, not hot, dryer. I whipped stitch some grosgrain ribbon to the underside of the straps for stability.

I signed up for a month of the Making Things App, a monthly subscription service where you rent patterns and access them online. There are hundreds and hundreds of patterns available so it's easy to find something to knit, but you cannot print out a pattern and instead knit exclusively from the site that you can access while you are a member. Built into the online patterns are tools that you use to jot down notes, count stitches/rows, highlight sections, get help, etc. I had previously bought the above pattern when it came out, so I did have a printed version, but it was also on the Making Things App so I was determined to give this new manner of accessing patterns a try. In the end, I had to admit I way too clumsy to be able to knit this way. For me, the counters and note taking was too cumbersome. I ended up getting frustrated and falling back on my printed pattern, using a pencil to jot notes and my handy Clover counter to count rows. While I love the idea of going paperless, and I'm pretty proud that I've gone paperless in many areas of my daily life, I'm more comfortable with a printed knitting pattern at my side, at least for now. I really wanted this to love this and I still think it's pretty wonderful that our hand knitting world is getting so big that this type of thing was actually invented! If it intrigues you, I'd give it a try. If you've tried it, I'd love to hear how you are doing. Scroll down or click here to leave a comment.

Summer Into Fall by Lisa Chemery, sizes 3 months to 6 years




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finally, rain in California











Today it's raining; a very welcome respite from the smoke and wildfires, but not too much please, we could do without landslides and toxic debris racing through the creeks. What a week for California. Catastrophic and apocalyptic are words that roll off the tongue. We are many miles from the Southern California fires but have friends and family that were way too up close for comfort. The Northern California fires are also miles away but we did get its smoke which has hovered over our valley for a week. 

We are looking forward to the holiday tomorrow. We all love a good turkey dinner and I'm especially looking forward to serving Carter his first real Thanksgiving dinner. Last year he was too little, and in fact I think he was napping while we ate. I'm adding in a few things I know he'll like, such as mushrooms to the gravy because this little guy loves mushrooms. Also, extra sausage in the dressing because he loves that too. 

I'm knitting a test for Truly Myrtle. I am LOVING it and can't wait to finish it, wear it, and share it! I also finished a toddler dress last night. I'll photograph it soon and post. It's just darling. The little girl is coming over this afternoon to meet Carter and maybe she'll try it on for me.  

Hey, do you follow the blog, Posie Gets Cozy by Alicia Paulson? I've been following her for a decade more or less, and just love her to pieces. This year she offered knitter's advent boxes with one treat to be opened each day of advent. Inside the box are 25 tiny packaged goodies that I get to start opening on December 1. When it arrived today, I showed it to my husband and said, "Look what you got me for Christmas!" He loves it when I buy my own presents, thank goodness. FYI, the boxes sold out in minutes and I was lucky to get one. I'll take pictures as I open the goodies and share them here.

Better go. Carter is napping and I have a million things to do.  I hope that if you live in the USA, you have a wonderful, blessed, fun, and love-filled Thanksgiving. Safe travels. xo Kristen

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Isaac Pullover restyled








This little guy has completely captured our hearts. He is one big, happy personality filled with hugs and giggles and cuteness. And bless him, he shows off my hand knits so well and I can't stop knitting for him! I love this fisherman pullover so much; I want to make it in a bigger size so he can wear one just like it next year. The leggings--are they just the cutest things? I got them on Etsy from Village North Baby. I cannot recommend this Etsy seller highly enough. I bought a few pair and I'm going to order a few more for him. They are super soft, very, very well made, wash up nicely and come in the coolest patterns.

Visit the Etsy shop,  Village North Baby for the leggings. The above are called the Boho leggings. I also bought these darling black and white trees to wear with his gold honeybee sweater for fall and his red sweater for Christmas. I'm swooning over these moon phases pants, but truly, I could buy up every design in the shop, I just love them all so much.

The sweater is called Isaac Pullover by Linda Whaley from her Little Rowan Cherish Book. It's a fantastic book that is still available; they have six books at Webs and I imagine you could easily find it elsewhere with a little search. I have knit several things from the book and love it. This Ravelry link shows all the designs in the book.  Here's my Ravelry project page for the Isaac Pullover.

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Top Ten Totally Fun and Totally Free Knits for Christmas

We knitters like to start our Christmas knitting in August, but sometimes that doesn't exactly work out, does it? If you are in the need of a quickly made knit, I think you'll find something in this top ten totally fun and totally free list. The links are within the text, so have fun queuing away!

Fire up the glue gun for this charming no-knit wreath from thischarmingyarn.
This HAS to be on my front door this year.

Every year I look at this pattern and think, "this is the year". I love how
 Jean Gifford uses simple cables to create the most darling snowman!
The above mittens were made by Corvid.
Julie Williams from Little Cotton Rabbits designed these lovely advent mini socks.
There are so many beautiful projects on Ravelry; above and below are just two. I'll be honest, I don't think 25 socks
could be made quickly, but a half dozen seems possible and would look awfully cute on the tree.


I love anything scrappy and stripey, and Scrappy Santa by Whole Earth Education
has inspired me for a set of family hats for next year.
Rebecca Danger's Snowman, Elf and Christmas Monsters are just sweet!
I hope you don't mind if I toot my own horn, but I do love my own little Christmas Dolls.
The pattern uses craft supplies as well as knitting yarn, but it includes the specs on everything you need.
These Christmas gnomes use vintage wooden spools wrapped with yarn.
Pattern includes the directions to knit a very simple hat. Woodland Elves by Kristen Rettig.


Another one from the Knitionary design shop. I love to wear Candy Cane at Christmas,
but also for chilly July 4th picnics at the beach. A fun, pretty, and easy knit.
Last year I used the Mrs. Claus Boxy Hat pattern to knit a family's worth of hats for my son, daughter-in-law, and their son.
Seriously, is there anything cuter than this? A family of hats really does not take much time.
The designer says, "I haven't met a kid yet who doesn't love these mittens!"
I believe her! Santa Mittens from Theresa Pendlebury. I will have to make these for Carter one day.

If you want to knit something darling and fast for an 18" doll or teddy bear this Christmas,
consider my Popsicle Toes pattern. You can also knit the original sweater and hat for a child, also free patterns.
French Macaroon Sweater by Noble Knits, sizes newborn to 4 years.
Tiny Tot Hat by me, Kristen Rettig, sizes newborn, baby, toddler, and child.

Of course, you can knit anything in red and proclaim it to be a Christmas sweater,
but if you need something quick, I knit Flax from Tin Can Knits in 3 days!
The pattern is sized for the entire family from newborn to 4XL
and it, like all of the others on this page, is free.

The Clover site has quite a few cute patterns that are free, in fact, three pages of free patterns
including the Santa Bear and doggie-in-stocking above, and the Christmas dog house below.




I can count and know this is more than ten, but top ten sounds so much better than top fifteen!
Thank you to all the designers who bring these special patterns to us for free.

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