a shiny clean new year and my works in progress

Happy New Year! Any plans for NYE? We had planned to attend a smallish neighborhood party but it was cancelled because of the recent uptick of covid. We are now going to have a quiet dinner at home and then wrap ourselves in blankets and walk over to another neighbor's house at 9 for a champagne toast around a bonfire. I think most of the neighbors are going, we live on a small street, and it sounds just as fun, and also safe and quiet, a perfect ending for another not-so-great year.  


Besides my new knitting projects below, I've taken on a very ambitious project: DEEP cleaning such as I've never done before. I always do my spring cleaning in winter after I pack away the Christmas decorations because in actual spring I am busy in the garden. I admit that I love to clean and I often stress-clean; some people stress eat, others stress exercise (I wish) and others, like me, stress clean. I am a terrible worry wart and cleaning relaxes me and takes my mind off my worries. I guess any time you can get up and be active is good, and the benefits of stress cleaning is dirt removal and stress removal. Since I decluttered over the last two years, I thought, this should be a snap with nothing too terribly dirty, right? Wrong, the cobwebs and gunk I'm finding is shocking. 


I don't know how I got such a cleaning bee in my bonnet, but once I committed to going in deep and thorough, it's become addictive. To take this on I've been cleaning in no particular order, and don't have much of a plan except at some point in January or February, every piece of furniture will be moved into the center of the room, emptied out, cleaned inside, under and behind; every bit of floor, wall, woodwork, cupboard, drawer, closet and window will be washed and sorted inside and out.  To do this I don't use much more than a bucket of warm soapy water (I love a combination of Mr. Clean with a teaspoon of Dawn mixed with warm water), micro-fiber cloths, a magic eraser, a few specialty brushes, my vacuum cleaner and a step ladder. I clean for a few hours in the morning and always try to finish by noon. I like to clean but don't want to clean every day, so I am being nice to myself and allowing eight weeks to cross the finish line. I'll report back to let you know how it's going or if I've lost interest (please no) and if I think it was worth it (hope so). If you have already purged and organized and are keeping to the one-in, one-out rule, a deep clean is the next step. If you haven't already de-cluttered, and you want to, I encourage you to get on with it. Do a little at a time, your own way, and don't worry about what influencers are doing. 


M works-in-progress include some gorgeous patterns and yarn. Here they are:



I love knitting this one. I'm using Shimo by Ito, a blend of 80% wool and 20% silk. It's divine, so soft and easy to knit. The reviewers say it blooms after blocking, but even if not, it's still gorgeous as is. The pattern is Ren by Japanese designer, Yamagara. I absolutely love knitting it. The cable pattern is addictive.



This is my movie knit. I always need one project that is super mindless and this is perfect. Billow by Shibui is just lovely, easy to knit and so soft. I'm using Pollen, Abyss, Ivory, Noire and Tar. The pattern is Medley by Lucinda Inglesias and is free with a yarn purchase. I found the yarn at my lys. 


I gathered up my odds and ends of leftover fluffy yarns such as Kidsilk Haze, Rowan Patina Selects and Alpaca Classic for this throw. My colors are shades of soft pink, white, brown, gray, charcoal, navy and mustard. The pattern from Tin Can Knits is fun and makes a nice TV knit. 


However, I've set the Tin Can knit aside and my new TV knit is my Christmas gift. I ordered the kit a few months ago and put it away without even opening it and told my husband he bought my Christmas gift and thank you very much. I was so happy to open it on Christmas morning that I cast on right away and knit a few inches throughout the day. The pattern uses short rows to make the crazy stripes and Cheeky Merino Joy by Rosy Green Wool, the most yummy yarn ever! I purchased the kit from the Rosy Green website and think they are wonderful to work with. Their prices for yarn and shipping from Germany are decent, plus they have good communication. I highly recommend them and have purchased kits from them twice.




Happy New Year!


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Wishing you a merry

 






                     



Last night I watched the Andy Williams Christmas Special 1966 on YouTube. As a girl I would watch those shows religiously. The Andy Williams show itself my family loved, but the Christmas Special was always a highlight of the season. These days it's hard to watch many of the old variety shows; The Dean Martin Show, as much as we loved him, is next to impossible to watch now. It's terribly dated in many ways, even if the music, costumes and sets are retro and fabulous, the jokes and monologues are dreadful. Not so with Andy Williams. He employed his handsome, singing brothers to join him plus his parents, his wife (the annoying Claudine Longet, try to ignore her) and their adorable kids and the cousins. It was a pleasant, family show and is still watchable today, that is, ahem, if you are a certain age. The Osmond Brothers (before Donny and Marie) were regulars on the Andy Williams Show and I went to school with the two oldest boys, Allan and Wayne. Wayne was in a few of my classes and on Monday morning, the night after a TV show had aired, I remember he would quietly slink into class. He was tall and would bend low and keep his head down and melt into his seat, definitely not wanting his classmates to notice him. Middle schoolers are not know to be kind to someone perceived as different. He was friendly but shy and I think some girls might have made a fuss over him, I know teachers did, and that probably embarrassed him even more. They moved soon after they became famous, I think to Utah.


I made the tablecloth for my kid friendly Christmas table decades ago. It's so retro now, it makes me laugh. The choir girls were made earlier this December. They came about because I own many lace doilies made by my maternal grandmother who died before I was born. I've held on to these doilies for decades never knowing what to do with them until I got the idea that they should be dresses! Below is a quick tutorial if you also have doilies that need a purpose in life. If you do, bookmark this for next year. 


 


a
Aren't they gorgeous? All crocheted by my grandmother!

Paint the body parts but don't glue the head on quite yet.



After painting on the faces I painted the heads with gloss paint.


Glue pipe cleaners cut in half for arms, then dot a bit of glue on the top.
Find the center of the doily, put it over the glue, add more glue and put on the head.


They start to look adorable at this stage, but now you've got to poke the arms out of the lace.


I added felt capes and hats. I fiddled with a pattern but both are pretty much triangles
with rounded corners cut with a pinking shear.


The last bit was to tie a bow around her neck and glue the music book to her pipe cleaner hands. I found my mini choir book on an adorable blog, but dang, I cannot find it now. I did however save it as a PDF. If you want it you can email me (email address is on the side bar of the website), or alternatively you can search for a free image of something similar and size it down. I printed these onto a lightweight card stock. I also decided her shoes needed to be black.

Links to supplies I used:

doll pins and stands

doll heads


Happy holiday greetings to all, and if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one.

If you'd like to make a comment, please click here or scroll down. I reply to each comment and that response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply you can contact me using the contact form on the right side at the very end of my websiteIf you would like to receive Knitionary posts by email, please subscribe here. Some links may generate a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the blog. 

a recipe for an easy, make ahead appetizer







Over the years I've shared this recipe many times but recently realized that I hadn't actually written out a "formal" recipe. I'm here to fix that!


Every 60s hostess had a cheese toast recipe in her recipe arsenal. My mother made these regularly and I remember her using a mix of leftover cheeses, as in whatever she had on hand. I always like to have sharp cheddar, gruyere and parmesan if possible. The one pictured  above has fontina and jack in them too. My mother often added blue cheese but I find that too overpowering. The point is, just use your favorite cheeses and bits of this and that are just fine. You could elevate it by adding flaked crab, but then you must serve it with champagne, just because!


Kids LOVE these. Just warning you in advance. I'll add the recipe to my recipe blog so you can find it again easily.


Retro Cheese Toasts  


You will need 1 sliced baguette.

Start with 1 1/2 cups grated mixed favorite hard cheeses and mix in enough mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture, I would guess about 1/3-1/2 cup but I've never measured. It's an "add and stir until you get it right" mixture.


Mix in one, two, or more of these add ons:

chopped chives

thinly sliced green onions

finely chopped pimientos

finely chopped green or black olives

drained capers

a heaping spoon of pesto or chopped chutney

chopped, drained tomatoes

1 tsp of your favorite dried herb or a tablespoon of your favorite fresh, minced herb

1-2 tsp of curry

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp prepared mustard

1 can drained crab or 1/2-1 C flaked fresh cooked crab or tiny bay shrimp


Spread mixture on bread slices.  Sprinkle with paprika, cracked black pepper or additional herbs if desired. At this point, cheese toasts can be flash frozen on a baking sheet. After a few hours in the freezer and they are frozen solid, place in freezer bags. They will keep nicely for up to a month and are very handy for the busy hostess. To bake: line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up. Place rack on top and place toasts on top of rack. Bake frozen toasts in a hot oven, 375 F for about 8 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in spots. Unfrozen slices take a little less time. Baking them on a rack is optional, but it crisps up the bottoms nicely. Makes about 3 dozen.

             


 






I thought you'd like to see the pretty table my friend set in her sunny dining room for a girlfriend Christmas lunch. For appetizers she served champagne with crab toasts and homemade puff pastry crackers topped with duxelles, and oh my, did we ever love being spoiled!  Next we were delighted with roasted tomato and red pepper soup with pesto aioli, and a beautiful platter of See's Chocolates for dessert.  No one wanted to leave. 


My little best buddy and I made gingerbread men with this Norwegian Pepperkaker recipe. I subbed molasses for the Karo syrup to give it more oomph. We rolled them thin and baked them crispy. Fabulous! We packed a car-ride supply of our little men and headed to the coast for a walk on Mavericks at Half Moon Bay then a late lunch at Sam's Chowder House. No big waves but the sky was bright blue and glorious and we were able to collect a good amount of shells and beach glass. The ride to was filled with singalongs of our favorite Christmas songs where I finally learned the correct hand movements for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. The ride home, well, two of us took a nap. Such a nice and relaxing way to spend time during the busy week leading to Christmas. 


I've been making soup at least once a week since the beginning of fall because my husband and I are both souper soup fans. Pictured above might be cream of mushroom, cannot remember. I only took a picture because the lavender garlic chive flowers looked so pretty. Even when it's just the two of us, or maybe especially if it's just the two of us, I like to have our dinner look pretty. I'm going to try this soup next.


Friends, I’m wishing you merry, relaxing, and fun filled days before Christmas. I know many of you are in lockdown again, with the rest of us being limited in other ways. I hope you have chances to slow down and enjoy the season and maybe even learn the hand movements to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, although I warn you that it's quite challenging, especially if you have a grandson who is a rigorous tutor.


 xo Kristen


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peg doll elf how-to

 


Last year I made peg doll angels, remember them? Because they were so much fun I knew I would be making more again this year. This time I was inspired to make elves and I confess I'm already dreaming about next year’s doll. Peg dolls are fun to make and give, and these elves made me smile every step of the way giving me a pleasant few hours in my craft room. They are nice for either gift embellishments or tree ornaments and of course, little ones like to play with them too. If you are inspired to make these, here’s the how-to:

Supplies:

glue
paint in brown, black, white, red
matching thread and fine needle
2.5" wooden peg dolls (they are the "dad" doll)
You'll also need a few small paintbrushes, toothpicks or a small wooden skewer, and a fine tweezer is helpful.

Now it’s time to make these little fellas. Let dry between each step. For easier clean up, work assembly line style if making more than one.

--First, paint on hair with brown paint. I left the faces unpainted except for the eyes and mouth.
--Next, with a skewer or the end of a small paintbrush, dot on white paint for eyes.
--Just off-set of the white eye paint and using picture below as a guide, dot on black paint for eyes. I wanted my elves to have a rascally Elf on the Shelf vibe.
--With a fine brush and red paint, make a teensy smile.
--Paint body with glue and sprinkle with fine glitter. 
--Make felt hat pattern: Cut a 3" circle from paper and fold into fourths. The 1/4 circle is your hat pattern.
--Make felt hat: Using pattern, cut felt adding a scant 1/8" to each straight side for seam. Cut a 2" piece of baker's twine for top loop and glue to underside of hat tip. With tiny stitches, hand stitch the hat together, securing baker's twine loop with stitches.
--Place a line of glue to inside of hat rim and place on head.
--Optional: embellish hat with tiny leaf, holly berry, snowflake, bow, etc.
--Wrap twine or ribbon around neck for a scarf.`

Tie to a gift or hang on your tree and smile! I'll hand these out as I see my friends, plus I'll take a walk around the block and set them on our neighbor's front porches. 




Peg Doll Angels link



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holly jolly




























We have had such a lovely Christmasy month so far. The house is decorated, we've made cookies and candy, we had a dinner party, and Carter and I made dioramas out of jar lids--mine, wintry scenes with deer, his, solar system with smiling Earth, Saturn, and deep space. Hint, drill two holes at the top for the hanger before crafting. Carter can fit into his daddy's coat from long ago and he looked so sweet and he loved it so much. On the first Friday night of each month our town organizes bands to play on every downtown street corner, and there must be a dozen. There is always an oom-pah band, a Barbershop Quartet, folksy duos and trios and quite a few rock bands. This time they also had a big band and they were terrific! Carter felt brave enough to make requests if I would go up with him. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Have A Holly Jolly Christmas and We Wish You A Merry Christmas were his requests. He is learning them at school and has hand movements to go with each song. Very cute. We turned one corner and were surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus, all alone, like they were waiting just for us. Carter was very shy and they both reached out their arms for him but he wanted us to go with him. It must seem like a long walk up to Santa's throne if you are very little. He didn't want to tell Santa his wish list, he told me later he had already written him a letter, but in a whisper asked him what kind of cookies he liked. It's chocolate chip, FYI. Later on at home, Carter wondered why Santa needs our cookies because Mrs. Claus is always baking. Doesn't she pack him any? Valid questions. In our Golden Books she is indeed always baking cookies. Maybe he likes to try new recipes? The last picture is a gougere, a beautiful and delicious first course I made for my dinner party. It was made earlier in the day, refrigerated, then popped into the oven a few minutes before our guests arrived. Serve it by the fire with a glass of champagne for a memorable slice of holiday heaven. If you are going to make one new recipe this year, try this. Children love it too.

I just found more comments in my junk file and while trying to retrieve them, I deleted quite a few and now can't find them anywhere. If you have written to me and would like a reply and I did not reply, please forgive me and give me one more chance and resubmit your comment. 

If you'd like to make a comment, please click here or scroll down. I reply to each comment and that response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply you can contact me using the contact form on the right side at the very end of my websiteIf you would like to receive Knitionary posts by email, please subscribe here.





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