Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stick a fork in it

'Cause this semester is done.

Yesterday, I got up, filed my grades, went by the post office (still one more package to mail, but that might have to wait until after Christmas, we'll see), dropped a batch of granola off at Yarning For You, went to campus to put out a final that a student wanted to pick up, went to my last two meetings, and it was all over. Technically, grades were due today by 3:00, but since I'd filed, I called it done. What a relief. I survived the first semester of furloughs and all of the craziness that entails. There's a lot more to get through this year, and every projection I've heard says that next academic year will be worse, but for now there's nothing I can do about it, and I can live with that.

I spent much of Monday cooking.
That's the makings for my usual manymany batches of holiday granola, as well as two pots of lentil soup (one for Monday night's Solstice celebration, and one for last night's cookie-decorating party at a friend's house). This lentil soup is my all-time absolute favorite, and the go-to recipe for this kind of thing. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't like it (assuming they eat sausage), including kids and people who don't like lentils. In case you need a recipe like that, I've included it at the end.

Monday night's Solstice celebration (held every year at at the UU fellowship of a friend of mine) was truly wonderful. There is something about this waning time of year, the time of silent growth in the dark places, that resonates for me. It's a time to set intentions, to gather inward all of the energy that usually gets spent outward, and to use that energy to grow the new things that the next cycle needs. Celebrating Solstice reminds me to set those intentions, to be mindful of them, and to give them what they need to grow. It's a time to look back and to internalize what I've learned, use it to move forward. And it's a good time to remember that to the darkest times, light will return.

I've also been knitting. On Sunday, I knitted up that little beaded tam I mentioned in my last post, and I love it so much that I wore it both Monday and Tuesday (I decided that wearing it today would constitute some kind of weird obsession, so I desisted, but it was a close call).
It actually looks all right, even with my short hair.
And I absolutely love the colors. Love them. This goes with just about everything I own, no kidding. I could wear it a LOT.
And the best bit is, this was 100% a stash hat. I had a skein of Koigu tucked away that I'd bought ages ago and hadn't used yet, and these beads are left over from a project I did a while ago. So, this is the Koigu Beaded Tam (my Rav page), made out of a skein of Koigu (with a titch left over, as I did the small size, and the medium size is still one skein) and 90 beads, on size two needles (with size zeros for the band), plus an itty-bitty crochet hook for the beads. I like this so much that I might knit another one to go with my Spiraluscious mitts and neckwarmer (a matching set! imagine!); I'm just not sure if I have enough of the yarn left over, and I can't seem to figure out how to buy more online. Weird... In any case, I need to knit tams for the girls, first, and for that I need to go find more beads somewhere. Maybe early next week I'll take them to pick beads out to go with the yarn for their hats (I think I posted a picture of that last time?).

I also realized that I never showed finished pictures of the socks I finished for Rick while I was in Philadelphia. He's worn them several times since and says they're very comfortable, which is good, as I fiddled a bit with my usual sock pattern.
I knitted these toe-up so I could use up all of this wonderful yarn (March Hare), which I absolutely adored; I bought this at Sock Summit, and I am so glad that I got some for myself, too, because otherwise I don't think I could have used this on socks for anyone but me. I really love this particular colorway, too. Anyway, I ended up with about two yards of yarn left, if that, so I think I made the right choice.

The two main modifications for these was to adjust the toe increases on each foot to more closely match the shape of Rick's foot; first I did half of the increases evenly paired on each side of the toe, then I did all of the rest of the increases only on the outside of the foot. I don't think I have a good picture of that. The other thing I did was to put the heel flap on the bottom of the heel and then make the gusset decreases paired along the middle of the back of the heel. This makes them look as if they aren't gussetted socks (since Rick doesn't like that look), while still getting to put in a heel flap (which I think wears better); it also puts the eye-of-partridge heel on the bottom of the foot, where a little extra padding is, I think, rather nice.
I don't know if you can see there that the eye-of-partridge is on the bottom of the foot, and the decreases are going up the back of the leg.
I'll have to see how these wear as he uses them more. I may make my pair the same way, so I can try it. I made a pair for Older Daughter like this, about a year ago, and they've certainly worn well, so maybe it's a good one. We'll see.

Meanwhile, it's time to work on that next batch of granola, and to start some of the cooking for tomorrow; with luck, I can get the red cabbage cooked, and the cucumber salad made, and maybe even the filling for the pork pie. And the rod grod? We'll see... I probably won't post again until after Christmas, so I wish each and every one of you peace and happiness.

Lentil Soup Recipe:
You'll need: an onions, some carrots, some celery, red wine that you would drink (the best way to test this is to pour yourself a glass as you start cooking), lentils (I use the regular old brown kind), a big can of V-8 (or your favorite tomato juice with herbs et al in it), a big can of crushed tomatoes, and three or four hot Italian sausages.

Put the sausages in a skillet to cook.

Cut up the onion and start sauteeing it in some olive oil. Drink some of your wine to get over the onion tears. Cut up the carrots (as many as you like, I usually use three or so), and toss those in with the onions. You can throw a couple of cloves of garlic in there, too, if you like; dealer's choice. Cut up the celery (I like to include some of the leaves from the heart of the bunch, too, but go with what you like), and chuck that on in there. Let it all saute together for a bit until the onion is tender. If you've put in garlic cloves, mash them up. Turn the sausages over and have a little more wine. Now, put somewhere between two and three cups of lentils into the pot with the veggies and stir them in. Then add the can of tomato juice, the can of crushed tomatoes, and a very generous slug of the red wine. You can also put in some water, depending on whether you want it to be more soupy or more stewy (you can add more water at any point in the cooking process, as you wish). Bring it to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook with the lid on until the lentils are tender. Meanwhile, whenever the sausages are mostly cooked, cut them up and throw them in the pot to finish cooking with the lentils. Serve with bread and maybe some parmesan cheese and more of the wine.


Rachael said...

Cute hat!

I think we are all feeling that sudden and unstoppable plunge towards the holiday. ACK. How does that happen? I was off today for the first day and I'm exhausted! I didn't even sit down until 4:30 and didn't knit a stitch until dinner was on the stove. Sheesh. Vacation my a$$, going back to work would be more relaxing! The good thing is that the errands are all run, the food is prepped, and other than a bit of last minute cleaning I am ready for Christmas! Tomorrow will be all knitting until Scott gets home from work and I am excited! (I think I've earned it)

Nice unvention with the socks, I'm fascinated! Thanks for sharing the soup recipe!

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I love the colours in the hat... I'm going to have to try to dye something like that

Wool Enough said...

Love the hat! Really pretty. And it reminds me that there's something more I need to learn -- I have not yet attempted knitting with beads. Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

That Koigu looks a lot like the STR Raven Clan I used for a hat for #2 son. Nice stuff (both!).

Willow said...

So much to comment on here!

Hat: really cute! Because of the cuteness factor, it's ok to wear it every day. Knitting with beads! That's something I haven't done yet!

Tams: what pattern are you using? I'm kinda looking for a tam pattern.

Grades: The Professor feels your pain-and relief.

Lentil soup: it's one of our faves. My recipe is quite different. I'll have to try yours!

Those socks: They're great! I'm not particularly adventurous with my sock patterns. Maybe 2010 will be the year of socks for me.

Winter Solstice: I like the winter better than summer b/c at the winter solstice I can say 'welcome back' to the sun instead of a slow goodbye.

Merry Christmas from Willow at Willow's Cottage

Miss 376 said...

The tam turned out really well and the colour is lovely. Can I have the lentil soup without the sausages? lol.
Enjoy the holidays with the family and wishing you lots of knitting time

Helen said...

I don't think you should worry about wearing the hat every day, and anyway, weird obssessions are the best sort. Have a happy Christmas!

Mary Lou said...

I have several skeins of what i'm pretty sure is that color koigu in different dye lots, so if you can't find any, let me know.

i appreciate your thoughts on the Solstice and the silent growth in dark places. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

EGunn said...

Congratulations! You made it! Great time to stop, take a rest, and do some assessing. I love the solstice. I love feeling it coming, and then suddenly realizing that the days are getting longer again. It's so nice to have a rhythm in life.

That lentil soup sounds great...I'll have to try it soon. Enjoy your winter break!

Bea said...

Thanks for the soup recipe. Love the tam. Also that is an awesome idea to put the "flap" on the bottom of the sock.

Gwen said...

And what's wrong with wearing the same hat every day? The one I've been wearing is a tam my Mom made, oh, 15 years ago or so, with clay beads. Seems to be the hat for me this year! Yours is beautiful.

I'm hungry. I think I have everything I need for your lentil soup except V-8 stuff. But I'm not at home to cook it. Have to eat leftover lamb curry instead (sad!)

Linda said...

MMMmmmm...for hat, for soup (yum!) and for sock adventuring. Happy 2010.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the hat!!!! Too cute for words.
I'm off to check out the pattern.