29 December 2009

odds and ends

This was an interesting Christmas, and it's not exactly over yet. We've done Christmas with my family, but we don't get to do Christmas with my husband's family until next weekend (I may finally meet his elusive, furniture-making grandfather who refuses to leave the island).

I did do some baking this year. I made my very first fruitcake, and it was delicious. I've discovered, in recent years, that I actually like fruitcake, and now that I know how easy it is to make one (I didn't do one that has to sit for weeks wrapped in paper and brandy), I plan to make more. I made my first batch of divinity that was not crunchy (although I need to fine-tune some of the process since it was more like a giant marshmallow in consistency), and the fudge turned out okay. I can get it to taste exactly right, but I'm still having problems with it being too soft. It takes practice. I made pumpkin butter a couple days ago. A friend made some a while back and it sounded really good, so I hunted down a recipe. It smells good and the leftovers that I put straight into the fridge taste pretty good. I canned most of it. The batch made more than I expected.

My parents and brothers came for a visit. The hats I knit my brothers were popular and the camera cozy for my dad was put to immediate use (it fits his underwater camera pretty well). They brought me some bamboo yarn from Yarnia in Portland. I have a plan for it at the moment, but I am open to changing it if I run across a pattern I like better.

We spent Boxing Day evening at the hotel my family was staying at. We cooked dinner on the minuscule stove, played a few games, and set a Christmas pudding on fire (so much fun!). I had forgotten how incredibly loud my brothers are. J. can be loud but if you put him and my three brothers in the same room, the noise is deafening. And my dad already has hearing loss, so having a conversation with him with the rest of the family in the same room is difficult. I guess he and I should both learn ASL and then he and my mom and I can all talk in spite of the noise.

The next morning, their car started having problems. It was hemorrhaging oil and came to a stop at a gas station. A friend at church generously let them borrow a car from him and recommended a mechanic a block from where J. and I live (we don't have a car, so we're not really up on the best mechanics in the area--now we know). So Sunday afternoon was spent arranging a rental car so my dad and brothers could get home on Monday. I couldn't do much, other than allow them the use of our phone and internet, so I baked pumpkin pie. Brother 2 immediately informed me that it was "not as good as Mom's." He got scolded by Mom for that. She thought the pie was great.

So my mom spent an extra day with us, getting the car fixed. It was nice to spend some more time with her, although I would have preferred it if their car hadn't had problems.

And now it's New Year's Eve. We're staying in. I'm not a party person and I've no interest in getting drunk. We have a couple seasons of Fry and Laurie out from the library and I'm working on my technique with fair isle. It's going pretty slowly right now, but if I get frustrated with it, there's always the sweater or a pair of fairly plain socks. I'm nearly finished with the increases for the sleeves on the sweater. I have hopes for this one, since I've already knit my disastrous first sweater. This can be the fairly decent second sweater.

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