Monday, December 28, 2009

10 Minute Challenge

Amazing what can be accomplished when one simply makes the commitment to give a certain task attention for a small amount of time each day. I have completed the "Wood Rose" project, a pattern designed by Laura Pierce. Having taken the 10-Minute Challenge on September 21, I forged on when frustrated by trying to match dye formulas (note to self: take even better dye notes!), when I might not have otherwise done so. I was pleasantly surprised to find some yarn for whipping that perfectly matched the background wool.

Now I need to settle on my next project – perhaps one of those UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) I have stashed away in the back room. Heading into a busy time at work, I am tempted to take a break from the challenge, but just like going to the gym, I know it's easier to keep going than to take a break and try to start again!

Imagine what could be accomplished in every area of life if we just gave it a little bit of attention…

Christmas . . .

Well, even though most of the cookies have been consumed, I did take a couple more pictures. These cashew cookies are another standby favorite. The recipe is from a wonderful woman, one of my first mentors – "Cillar". She was a second (or third or once removed or something or other!) cousin to my mother. I always saw her as such a free spirit. She died way too young – in her late 40's perhaps? My first degree was in early childhood education because I so admired the work she did with Head Start as it was beginning in the 60's. She and her three children lived in Iowa City; her husband was a funeral director and as kids we used to love playing in the funeral home. Her daughter Melissa was the maid of honor at my first wedding. One time while visiting her, everyone had somewhere they needed to be and I was left alone at home all evening. Cillar handed me a little book that she thought I might enjoy reading to pass the time. That book was "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah" by Richard Bach and it resonated deeply within me. Amazing how a cookie can take you down memory lane.
Christmas was very quiet and very enjoyable. Dante went to Medford to visit his mom and friends we usually spend holidays with were out of town. A dear friend came over and we prepared prawns the size the rib eye steaks, homemade pasta with leeks, and salad. It always comes back to food, doesn't it? Sue helped me work on a current quilt project…a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
We've been talking about playing mahjong for years and Christmas Day seemed like the perfect time to learn. Takashi hasn't played in nearly 30 years, claiming we needed to have a special table to do so. About four years ago, we bought the materials to build a table top that would sit on top of a card table so we dug out the materials along with the mahjong set, downloaded some tips on playing from the internet and found a book at the library that explained Japanese rules in English. Takashi has a well-worn book but since it was all in Japanese we weren't trusting him to guide us.

Mah jong is an incredibly complex game and we didn't get far…but we will try again…maybe.
My favorite Christmas activity is always the Christmas Eve Candle Lighting service. There is something magical about the story, the music, and the candles that touches me every year. And it just isn't Christmas until I've heard "O Holy Night".

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Baking

Christmas baking has started early … we're going to a Christmas party/dinner tomorrow and bringing dessert. I haven't made my mom's wonderful "Mrs. Claus's Fudge" in years. Oh my! It's just as wonderful as I remember.
I do make cherry coconut bars every year – at least one double batch. I wonder where mom got this recipe? It is absolutely wonderful…here it is:
Pastry: 1 cup flour    ½ cup butter    3 tsp. confectioner's sugar
Filling: 2 slightly beaten eggs    1 tsp. vanilla    1 cup sugar    ¾ cup chopped nuts
¼ cup flour    ½ cup coconut    ¼ tsp. salt    ½ cup quartered maraschino cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, butter, and confectioner's sugar with hands until smooth. Press into 8 inch square pan. Bake 25 minutes.
Mix filling ingredients. Spread over top of baked pastry (no need to cool) Bake 25-30 minutes or until browned.
I always make a double batch and put it in a 13X9 pan.
And no…I'm not sharing ;-)

10 Minute Challenge Update

Continuing my commitment to the 10-Minute Hooking Challenge has been…a challenge. I am grateful that I made the commitment during sabbatical in order to establish the habit before my return to work. While the 10 minutes is now closer to actually being 10 minutes than the 90 minutes it was turning out to be, I still see progress and it keeps me motivated. I must remind myself that much of my inspiration for Sunday talks comes when otherwise engaged in creative pursuits such as hooking, quilting, etc. Why do I always seem to make "work" be difficult?
So here is the current project that I started November 9. It would have been completed over a week ago had I not had to struggle with dyeing more background. After several tries, I got some that was just a tad bit lighter – it worked well in the center of the piece. Today I redyed some a bit darker to use around the edges. I think this will work…hooray!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dyeing Frustration

Here is the progress on my latest 10 Minute challenge rug.

Unfortunately I ran out of background wool – arrgghh! I have notes and was fairly certain that I knew which formula this was – the piece I had been using was something I dyed when playing around with the "wandering" dye method last Spring. The color is off…too bright. It is simply Cushings "wine" over gray Dorr wool and is quite beautiful but not the same as I've been using. After further digging through notes, I think perhaps that was wrong formula…should be wine over light blue followed by mulberry. Hopefully I can carve out enough time to quickly dye that tomorrow.
As I was hooking this piece, it became evident fairly early on that I would not have enough wool for the background but knowing that I had the formula, I kept hooking. I did hook the background at all different points around the pattern in case whatever I dyed was a tad bit off but as you can see, this is just too different. Back to the dye pots!


Finally took a picture of the entrelac scarf. This is such a fun pattern! I am not much of a knitter but this is do-able even for me – just don't look too closely.