Noel


























Hello friends! Phew, have you had some time to take a breath a relax a bit? We have had a nice holiday season so far and have been able to enjoy festivities without being overwhelmed. I've had a few dinner parties and have kept them very small, four people, with simple but great food. Both dinner parties I made gougere and served it around the fire, my favorite winter appetizer, then soup and salad at the dinner table, and always homemade Christmas cookies and apple slices for dessert. I know everyone appreciates lighter fare at this time of year when there are so many other opportunities to overindulge! We also had a party but kept it smallish--17 guests made up of my birthday group and their spouses. Two friends brought appetizers and I served Champagne. Dinner was a make-ahead chicken paprikash over noodles with green beans on the side. It was so pretty and scumptious and very easy to serve. We had an old fashioned cookie exchange for our dessert with our guests bringing the most gorgeous cookie gems to share. The evening was festive, casual and easy. We had so much fun and know our guests did too.

I had never made chicken paprikash before but was searching for make-ahead dinners to serve to a crowd. Chicken paprikash kept popping up and after making and serving it, I recommend it too. My two tips are to use a fresh can of smoked Hungarian paprika, and LOTS of it! Also, add the sour cream right before serving and heat through but do not boil. Leftovers reheat well. To avoid boiling a big pot of noodles at dinner time, I served a make-ahead noodle casserole: boil a 12 oz. bag of wide egg noodles until al dente. Drain. Mix in 8 oz. each of cottage cheese and sour cream, 1/2 tsp. salt and 3 sliced green onions. Put in a pretty casserole dish and cover. Can be refrigerated for up to two days. When ready to reheat, pour over 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken stock (to make sure it stays moist) cover with foil and heat on medium heat in oven until done. I doubled this recipe and it took about an hour in a 350F oven to heat through, but it was cold from the refrigerator.

We are having one more party. Our annual neighborhood pot-luck, BYOB progressive party is next week and we will be hosting the appetizers. Dinner will be served a few doors down in one of the newer, roomier homes, followed by carols and dessert in another home. We have had this tradition for decades and it's fun for everyone. New neighbors get to meet everyone, and the children that grew up on this street decades ago come back to show off their young families. We will have about 50 people and it's very fun. We even have our own personalized songbooks that we pull out every year!

I know not all of my readers celebrate Christmas, but I know all of you celebrate peace. My choir director has again chosen this beautiful Christmas carol for the choir to sing. It's so moving. If you have a moment, take the link: I Heard The Bell on Christmas Day/Peace on Earth.

“The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.” Norman Vincent Peale.

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy

“If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

"When you make peace with yourself, you make peace with the world." Maha Ghosananda


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt



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Chroma, free pattern








 


I'm so happy with this bright and scrappy sweater. I used the free raglan sweater pattern generator from Knitting Fool that is available here. You can read what I previously wrote about the pattern here, but basically it's a web site where you enter your yarn gauge and the sweater size you want to knit and it conjures up a basic, no frills pattern which is all I needed. It's a very cool site.

I have a few tips for using scraps of different yarns in one sweater: Do make sure the yarns achieve the same gauge with the same needle. And do make sure they all have the same washing care instructions. You can mix wools and cottons and blends, but if one of your stripes is hand wash, that makes the entire sweater hand wash or you might have a little felted stripe in the middle of your sweater. I know this first hand! My Ravelry page is here.

You know I knit a LOT of sweaters for my grandson. Here's why: 1: He looks darling in them and is a perfect model. (This time I bribed him with a cookie. Worked great.) 2: Most of them are knit with scraps and I feel good about using up yarn in my stash. 3: They are fast to make so it's pretty close to instant gratification as you'll get in knitting. But the biggest reason is 4: He tells me he loves me and loves the sweaters and says they are nice and soft and that I am nice too. And then he kisses me. This kid is killing me! But if I'm honest I know it won't be long before the sweet two year old grows up and wants to wear Spiderman sweatshirts and all that awful stuff. So until then I'm taking advantage of his sweater adoration.

Below are pictures of Carter's own corner in our family room. This past summer we brought down all of our son's and daughter's toys (Carter's daddy and aunt) from the attic. They are definitely old school; no flashing lights or techno sounds in the lot. I cleaned out the cupboards that previously held our Christmas things, (and while I was at it, I purged unloved and unused Christmas stuff and reorganized and rearranged them in another cupboard.) Now these cupboards hold his daddy's collection of Brio trains and track which we all still love to play with. There's quite a bit of vintage Fisher Price Little People in the cupboard too. Can you spot the barn at the end in the corner? So cute. I remember getting it at a garage sale 35 years ago and even at that time it was considered vintage. So many cute toys in a happy, sunny corner. It makes my heart sing to have them loved again.

We had him for a sleepover last night and today when mommy came to pick him up, I kissed him in his carseat to say goodbye and he asked, "Can I come again another day?" I almost died. yes yes yes. Heart melt.





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The forecast is Sweater Weather















Rain is forecast for the entire week--perfect sweater weather! On this rainy play day in grammy's garden, Carter is wearing his newest Flax (I cannot stop making these!) and his new hat, Sif's Christmas Hat. Both are knit with Rowan's Softyak DK, a yarn I am deeply in love with. It has a great hand, is soft and easy care, plus it is perfectly warm but not overly warm for an active child. I looked it up on Ravelry and I've used Softyak for over 20 projects! Big thumbs up for both patterns and yarn. 

I made no modifications to the hat, but a few with Flax. I made the size 4 for my two year old grandson because I feel this pattern runs a little small and he is a little big for his age anyway. I LOVE Flax. It’s just about the best free pattern out there with endless possibilities for customization. 

Warning: the neck opening is too large in Flax! At least it is for children. I made the neck smaller by casting on for a size two sizes down. The cast on is stretchy and it goes easily over his head and fits so nicely.  (Edited to add:) After you cast on your fewer stitches and finish the neck ribbing, you will start your raglan increases and increase until you have the correct amount for your size. Also, I think you should not worry about what the stitch count is on the pattern, but instead keep increasing until you are at the chest size measurement that you need. I wanted a 26" circumference so just kept increasing until I achieved that measurement.
The stripes were made by purling the color change row. I love the effect.
The yoke is made of 
charcoal, Plateau 
purple, Meadow 
gold, Savannah 
blue, Terrain
The light gray in the body and sleeves are Cream and the dark gray is Plain. 
The links:
Flax by Tin Can Knits (free pattern, sized newborn to adult 4XL)  
Sif's Christmas Hat by Nissehue (sized doll to adult L)
Oh, and I have to ask---did you survive the weekend? Our Thanksgiving was wonderful, but on Friday I DID manage to stay in my sweats all day and decorate for Christmas. Yay me! I'll try to get some nice pictures to share as it really looks pretty around here. On Saturday we stayed home too as we had Carter for a sleepover. He had a runny nose and was feeling low, poor dear. We mostly stayed huddled on the sofa with a book or Mickey Mouse Jr. on the tv. Lots of sleeping and cuddling. He decided he really wanted to go outside and jump in the puddles, but when the rain stopped and we went outside he thought he'd rather dig in the mud. These pictures show a busy boy, but he was not in the mood to give a smile to the camera.  Oh well, I get that. He came inside where a warm bath was waiting for him and soon his parents came to pick him up. Just another sleepover with grammy and papa.



I still have plenty left!

We have cleaned out the vegetable garden and even though we have oodles of repairs to make in the watering system and raised beds, we won't give it much of a thought until spring.


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