Let's make turkey soup together!

 






We can't pretend that Thanksgiving and Christmas won't look and feel very different this year. I hope you are all in the very best of spirits this holiday season even though I know keeping spirits merry and bright can be a challenge. Feelings of melancholy pop into my thoughts too often these days but I have a few temporary pick-me-ups that get me back on track. Besides reminding myself of all that I have to be grateful for and look forward to, I'm listening to Christmas music, crafting a little here and there, and keeping up with some of my cooking traditions, though on a smaller scale. Those little things make me happy. Thanksgiving will be small but still full of all the foods we love, and in the days after the big feast, I'll make my traditional turkey soup and that will make everyone happy. I'd love you to join me in my after Thanksgiving tradition. 

So...let's meet next week about this time and make some turkey soup together! I hear from so many of my friends that they toss the turkey carcass away thinking it's too much trouble to bother with. But they will be missing out on one of the best things about the Thanksgiving feast. Humble as turkey soup may be, it is gorgeous and quite the beauty queen of soups, plus it is healthy and soulful and completely delicious, and contrary to what you might have heard, not a hassle at all, in fact, it's a cinch. For decades it has been my tradition to make turkey rice soup after Thanksgiving and serve it to a crowd on Sunday evening before we would head downtown for the annual Christmas Parade. The parade is of course cancelled this year, but the soup is not. I hope you'll come back next Friday and I'll show you the how-to. It is a two day process, one day to make stock, and the next day to defat the stock and make the soup, but most of it is hands off simmering so you can merrily watch TV or decorate the tree or do whatever you like to do on that long weekend. 

If you can join me you'll need to add these things to your shopping list:

-12 large carrots
-1 large onion
-1 large bunch celery
-4 cloves garlic
-1 bunch fresh spinach or 1 bag baby kale
-herbs; I use fresh parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary, although dry herbs are fine.
-2 C uncooked rice or 1 bag dry noodles, depending if you like turkey soup with rice or turkey soup with noodles. If you are a pasta maker or can purchase fresh noodles, your soup would be a worthy recipient.
-1 big ole' turkey carcass. If you have a smallish turkey, don't worry, even small turkeys can make soup! If you have stuffed the turkey, it's ok to leave tidbits of stuffing inside. 

This year we will have a 20 pounder even though we are only 6 people. I always make a big turkey because we love leftovers. If you are going to join me and make soup, you need to prepare the carcass on Thanksgiving evening after the feast. I know, big groan. If you are absolutely too pooped after dinner, just cover that turkey in foil and refrigerate and deal with it the next morning. You may or may not have leftover meat, and if not, don't worry, you still have the carcass and you can still make soup. My husband and I prepare the leftover turkey meat in this way:

-Save the nice slices for turkey sandwiches.
-Prepare 6-8 or more homemade "TV dinners" with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. (I use these restaurant containers. They are reusable and my pack of 50 looks like it will last me a lifetime.) We send guests home with a few and the rest I put in the freezer for busy nights when I am too tired to cook. 
-Pick every last bit of the turkey off the bones and cut into small, soupspoon-sized pieces and put in a separate container. 
-Put the carcass and any undesirable bits, such as floppy skin and fatty bits, the pope's nose and any leftover juices and drippings you did not use for the gravy, into a large stock pot. Put some water in that roasting pan and scrape away until the tiny leftover browny bits are loosened, then throw all that into the pot too. If you have not used the giblets and neck for gravy, add them to the pot too. Cover and refrigerator for Friday's stock. 

I'll see you back here next Friday...to be continued...🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃 🦃

xo Kristen

My neighbor invited us over to pick one of the last of the pomegranates from her tree.
We chose this massive one. Seeded, it produced TWO cups of seeds. 
Into the freezer they go to use on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.


Late roses and an early paperwhite!

My sous chef.


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Dino Softies--a hand sewing project


I don't know why I suddenly had it in my mind to make a felt toy. I hadn't made a toy in years but I was itching to make something tiny and sweet out of felt.  I usually go along with my crafty whims (they won't go away until I give in) so I went on an online search to see what the world had to offer these days. I quickly narrowed it down to dinosaurs as we are big dino fans around here. There were many patterns available but most of them were too cartoony looking for my taste. I zeroed in on this set from Aimee Ray of Little Dear as it was exactly what I was looking for. The set included the important big-five all-stars: T-rex, triceratops, pterodactyl, brontosaurus, and stegosaurus. They were also small enough to fit into a tiny hand, looked more sweet than scary, and being two-dimensional they looked like they would be fairly easy to sew. But the tipping point for me were the sprigs of embroidered wildflowers.  I'm a gal who loves the little details and my heart melted when I saw the posies. The set was super fun and fast to make. Each one took less than an hour. I know this because I made all 5 while watching the first 4 episodes of The Crown season 4. (Yes, The Crown is back!) The dinosaur set has now been wrapped up as a Christmas gift for my 3 year old grandson. I already miss holding them and looking at their cuteness! I have a feeling that they will be squished and hugged and smothered with love and attention. 


I purchased the PDF download from Little Dear on Etsy. The pattern includes a color page for reference, see picture above, plus the patterns and simple directions. She has done a nice job creating the pattern and it's simple to follow. Don't feel you need to be an expert hand sewing seamstress. Far from it. Just take your time and work with some good light and you'll be fine. Toy making requires a good quality felt. Cheap synthetic craft felt won't do for a toy you are going to put hours into. I purchased my wool blend felt from Benzie. It is very soft but firm and is lovely to work with. I loved Aimee's sophisticated color choices so I tried to recreate the look with one of Benzie's color bundles. Benzie has something close to 100 colors to choose from, so a color bundle that they already put together was the easiest way for me to shop. I'm just thrilled with my prehistoric pals and can't wait until Christmas morning. If you'd like to try your hand at making felt softies, Aimee Ray has generously offered my readers a 20% discount on any of her PDF patterns with the code KNITIONARY (all caps), good for the next two weeks. She has many animal patterns, but also adorable soft books, candy and fairy homes, plus embroidery patterns. See the pictures below for some inspiration  and let me know what your next project is going to be! 


Shopping Links

Dinosaur Felt Animals pattern from Little Dear on Etsy

Use the code KNITIONARY (all caps) for a 20% discount on any PDF pattern

from the Little Dear shop on Etsy.



Benzie carries an array of high quality wool and wool blend felt

in a selection of gorgeous colors.

I purchased a pretty bundle called Boho Garden.





This is a book, and it's opened below. So cute.



Thank you for popping by. I'd love to hear from you! You can click here to make a comment, or scroll down if you are on the website. xo Kristen


winter scene night lights--a Christmas craft




Is it too early to listen to Christmas music? Not for me; I've had it on since November 1st. It's my music to craft by. My husband has suggested we wait until after Thanksgiving before we turn on the Christmas full force, but everyone knows that crafters start Christmas early for heaven's sake. For the first time I actually feel like I'm ahead of the game: I've started wrapping presents (yay me, I'm early for once) and besides completing the one craft below, I have two other Christmas crafts going: one very big one (that honestly I'm not sure I'll finish this year) and one very small one that is finished and drying. I've also set up the Christmas ornament hospital. I am determined to repair and restore broken wings, bald glitter spots, chipped paint, literally every. single. thing that has bothered me over the years. If I cannot fix it, it's going to get tossed. Wish me luck friends. (I'm really glad you can't see my craft room now; it's a holy mess.)


But today I have a totally finished craft to share. I had so much fun making these Christmas night lights. It's an easy craft and I'll go through it step by step.  If you craft with younger people, this is a craft appropriate for an older child. I made the mistake of starting this with my 3 year old grandson. I gave up after a few minutes and we just played with the deer and smooshed the clay around. When he left, I went back to the craft room and got cracking. Here's the step by step:


Gather your supplies. For the greenery I cut up a small plastic Christmas tree I never really cared for. I gathered up little plastic figures and trims but ended up preferring to use only the deer and the mushrooms. I went through my mason jars to find six jars that did not have embossing all around. Most of mine had "Ball" or "Kerr" embossed on the front side but were plain on the back. You'll want your jars to have at least one plain, unmarked side for this craft. You'll also need the screw cap but not the lid, white air-dry clay, glue that dries clear, and a little bit of faux snow. Next you'll need one package Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert per jar. This light comes with both a regular sized lid and wide mouth lid so you can use either size jar. Lastly you'll need 3 AAA batteries per jar. Shopping links are at the end.


Wash and dry the jars. They need to be sparkly clean.


Roll out the clay to approximately 3/8" thick. Cut rounds (I used a small jar) to make a base that will fit into the jars. While clay is still soft, dab a bit of glue on your greenery and figures and poke them into the clay. Let this air dry overnight. See the pictures below.


When your figurine base is dry, dab a bit of glue to the bottom and place it in the jar. Sprinkle a tiny bit of faux snow around the base. 


Insert batteries and affix the light to the lid as per package direction. Screw the light fixture onto the jar and push the on/off button. Voila! The light is just bright enough to illuminate the charming wintery scene.


I ended up making 6 total and am giving them as gifts with a note saying, "open me now" since they will be so pretty to have out at Christmastime even though I plan on having ours in our bedroom year 'round. They are adorable and I'm so happy with them.


Holy cow! After I wrote this post and was gathering my shopping links, I found that the LED light inserts are near impossible to find for a decent price. I bought mine for $7.50 each but they have now sold out. I found them on some other sites but they were closer to $20 and I don't think they are worth that! Perhaps you'll have better luck than I did with a search. Search "Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert". Good luck and let me know how it goes. As an aside, I also have some solar fairy lights for mason jars that I was planning to use this summer. I wonder if they would work for this craft. They would not have an on/off button, but would be fun for an evening, you'd just have to recharge it the next day with sunshine--no batteries!


LINKS:


My favorite air dry clay is Delight. If you've never used lightweight air-dry clay, you are in for a treat. It's soft, clean and easy to use. 


These adorable little deer are identical to the ones I had in my stash.


These mushrooms look very similar to mine.


Transform Mason LED Lighted Lid Insert: This company is out of stock but they say that more are coming soon and you can get on their notify list. It's as good a price as you'll find. They also appear to be out of stock at Joanne's.



Since Carter is totally in love with Rudolph, I painted a red nose on the reindeer I am giving him.





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xo Kristen xo


granite fade









I don't think these pictures showcase how beautiful this sweater really is. I love it so so much. The pattern was designed to be worn with either the stockinette or reverse stockinette side showing, but it is so sophisticated and gorgeous on the purl side, I know I'll never have him wear it any other way. 

The pattern: City Limits by Tanis Lavalee is sized baby to XXL adult. I seem to remember that Tanis offered this as a free download for one week at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown. How nice. I thought I would knit the pattern for me but realized I only had enough yarn for a smaller one. The pattern suggests you make a fade with two strands held together. That's just what I did and I ended up with a fabric that looks like an ancient piece of granite. On the first picture at the top, you can see the side details of the slipped stitches. Tanis is an experienced, eloquent pattern writer and City Limits is a little gem for the entire family.

The yarns: Swans Island Natural Colors Fingering in charcoal is 100% organic merino hand-dyed in Maine using natural dyes. Heavenly soft. This yarn is a great value at a whopping 525 yards per skein! I held it with another fingering weight wool, a mini set of Destination Yarns Postcard which is a merino/nylon superwash hand dyed fingering weight wool blend. I have no idea what possessed me to purchase this crazy mini set at Stitches a few years ago, see the last picture below. Variegated yarns aren't usually my thing, but I remember their booth being so gorgeous there was no way I could walk out without a little something.  I  love it mixed with the charcoal and very happy with the overall look of the fabric. I did wonder if it was wise to mix two hand dyed yarns together  but very little dye was released in the bath, so all was good. I also questioned mixing a superwash with a non/superwash, but it was patted into shape easily and seemed to have none of the limp characteristics of superwash, so that was good too. End product was a scrumptious super soft sweater for a finicky tot.


The photo shoot: Our local park is now open. Yippee! On this day we ran into several friends with their grandchildren. It was wonderful and felt like the old days. Carter was so excited to be back on a playground with its swings, slides, and rock walls; the same play structures his mommy and daddy played on a few decades before. After a good play, we walked up the dry creek bed that meanders through a redwood grove, careful to be on high alert for big bad wolves and dinosaurs. He walked ahead talking about all the predators we were likely to encounter, and got himself so scared he had to run back to us and hug our knees for a few minutes before he could feel brave enough to lead the way again. Who cannot love the mighty bravado of a three year old?

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reverse stockinette side

stockinette side

a mini set of Destination Yarn Postcard and Swans Island Fingering

 

Hercule











Here's my handsome little dude wearing his new grandpa cardigan. Hasn't the time just flown? It seems like just a few months ago when a size 1 year sweater was enormous on him. Now he outgrows sweaters so fast I can hardly keep up with all the knitting. Just kidding, of course I can keep up. 😊

Pattern: Carter's grandpa cardigan is Hercule by Lisa Chemery of Frogginette designs. It is knit in worsted weight yarn and comes in sizes 3 mos. to 10 years. I knit a size six for my very big 3 year old grandson and it should last him the entire season. When choosing a size for children, look at the schematics and choose chest size rather than age. Hercule can be made with or without pockets, but I should tell you that Carter was thrilled when he discovered the pockets. When he came over yesterday he was wearing it and had his favorite tiny pterodactyl tucked safely inside his chest pocket. Some new techniques for me were learning a very neat and tidy buttonhole and a trim little chest pocket. The sweater is knit top down in once piece. The pockets, shawl collar and button bands are finished at the end. The pattern is well written and easy to follow and creates a lovely classic.

Yarn: For my sweater I used Malabrigo Rios which is a very soft superwash worsted weight 100% wool. Warning--it comes out of the bath very, very limp which is unfortunately common with too many superwash yarns. There was no way this would be patted into shape and it had to go in the dryer to regain some body. After a time in a warm, not hot, dryer, and when it became lightly damp, I could finally pat it into shape and leave it to finish drying flat. I do love that superwash yarns are so soft and can go in washer AND dryer--both qualities are nice if you're knitting for a little one, but the superwash process usually kills all the natural bouncy and springy characteristics of wool that I love so much; and so continues my love/hate relationship with superwash. (With that said, I've knit with this many times and have more Rios in my stash!)

Below Carter is playing with one of the many incarnations of fairy forts we have built since spring. Sometimes dinosaurs live in these forts so technically they are not always built strictly for fairies. This latest one however was constructed to be most appealing to fairies. We used apple tree thinnings and flowers which I told Carter the fairies were sure to love. Two days later it was smashed, possibly trampled on by gardeners (although I hate to throw them under the bus), or maybe naughty fairies, a running dog, or a grandpa? Papa pleaded not guilty, although he admits to accidentally stepping on at least one fairy fort in the past. We decided to dismantle it and build a fairy tee pee instead. Next to it is a rose tree stump that we use as a fairy picnic table. Carter collected acorn caps while on a walk with mommy and daddy, painted them at home, then brought them over to set a table with his fairy bowls. Next day they too were scattered about. Carter was mighty astonished to imagine that the fairies who visit our night garden might be a little naughty. We have a lot of fun talking about what they must have been up to while we were asleep--a little bit of dancing, a little bit of mischief. This age is so dang cute.

Links
Malabrigo Rios I used Blue Jeans

As an aside, since pattern was named for Hercule Poirot, I have two mystery books to recommend that are along the line of Agatha Christie. I've just finished The Guest List by Lucy Foley and really enjoyed it. Last night I started  Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy and it looks really promising. Dying for book recommendations. Have any???






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Sunset Slouch

 













I've just finished the coolest hat and at the same time was able to try out a new yarn. Well, maybe not too new. The yarn was introduced last year but I had never heard of it. I would not know about this lovely yarn still if not for this hat kit announcement arriving in my inbox last month. I think little stripy kits are a great idea to offer to knitters; it's like getting a shade card and sample yarn pack in one. I wish more yarn makers would do this; offer a little project kit with a little taste of yarn and a good sampling of colors. The yarn is Weld by Hudson + West Co., a fingering weight that is 70% Merino and 30% Corriedale. It is USA produced from sheep to skein.  Weld is terrific--it is springy and lovely to knit and all the colors I received except the navy have a heathery nuance. The stitches cling together to make an even, soft, pliable, and stretchy fabric with great memory. If you don't mind hand washing a baby or child's sweater, Weld would be a great choice for children's garments as it is lightweight and soft. I could also see it for any shawl or sweater project for that matter, and imagine colorwork, lace and cables would all work beautifully in Weld. All the available colors were included in the kit except the white, gray and black. The kit also included a fold-over leather H + W label for the brim. Love that little touch. The hat is comfy and fits my noggin and my grandson's too. 

Jogless stripes: I don't think you'll be able to spot the beginning of the color changes very easily, see last photo above. There are many ways to knit jogless stripes in the round, but the method I use is the easiest and it works perfectly each time: 

1. Add the new color and knit the row.
2. When you come to the second round, slip the first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in back. Knit the remaining stitches.
3. On the third round, knit as usual, but on the first stitch, give both the new yarn and previous yarn a little tug or two to line them up. 

This method works best for stripes that are 3 or more rows wide. All jogless methods work best on wool and not as well on cotton and linen. 

You can purchase the kit for the Sunset Slouch here. You can find the pattern on Ravelry here. My own project page is here. Weld yarn by Hudson + West Co. can be purchased here. It's a good one.

Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my previous post. I received over a hundred comments and all were in agreement that social media has become too intrusive and divisive. I'm not suggesting that walking away from Facebook and Instragram is for everyone, but for me, and it's only been one week, I know it was the right decision. I'm surprised how much social media had negatively directed my mood. And the time I spent! Now I have more time for things I really enjoy and honestly, I don't know why I waited so long. I have not replied to each comment as yet, but I will in the week to come. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. You can comment on this post by scrolling down if you are on my website, or by clicking here. xo Kristen

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