Archive for December, 2009

Blizzard Aftermath

We woke up to a bright, sunny day with nearly 2 ft deep snow everywhere. For some perspective, here is the picnic table across the way from our barn – the first shot was taken yesterday morning; the second was taken today:

Our trail to the goat pen:

The goats looked great –  nice and warm and happy to see us.  Hubby got this shot of me feeding Ivan with Hamlet in the background, as usual. Notice my ski goggles!

Also, our cat Luna is a serious snow adventurer:

We’re leaving in a couple days to spend the holidays with my family out West, so this is likely my last post for the next 2 weeks or so. Enjoy the holidays & have a happy new year!


We’ve just been hit by the largest snowfall in December in recorded Virginia history. It started last night (Friday) and is just now (11pm on Saturday) tapering off. We’ve got a solid 22 inches at the farm and have been tucked in our barn all day. Although we did venture out this morning to feed and check on the goats – at the time, there was only 8 or 10 inches on the ground, but it was still enough to bury Hamlet up to his belly:

Hubby went in with the tractor and plowed a path between their shelter and their hay bale:

Walking the path:

Hamlet is looking very dainty in the snow; he’s got with lots of straw in his coat from laying on it to stay cozy:

Ivan wasn’t wary of venturing into the snow drifts:

That’s all for now – as I said, we now have more than double this amount of snow. I’ll take more tomorrow and post them for you to see the magnitude of the storm. So much snow!

Lung Tie

My dad is a pulmonologist (lung doctor) and this year I decided to make him something lung-themed for his holiday gift. I thought about knitting him a giant lung (there is actually a ravelry pattern for it!), but ultimately decided to make him a tie with lung embroidery, because he often wears ties. However,  sewing and embroidery are by far my weakest crafty skill-sets, so this project was a big challenge for me.

I found the pattern for the tie (Osman Tie) at BurdaStyle and purchased it for a very reasonable $2.00. Then I sent out to my local fabric store and bought several yards of medium gray silk (plenty of extra) and some navy suiting wool to use as the tie liner. [Note this is the true color of the fabrics.]:

The pattern was very well written and easy to follow – I had no problems whatsoever. But I decided to use a double layer of the suiting wool for the liner because one layer didn’t seem substantial enough. Here’s an incredibly blurry photo of the liner laid inside the pieced-together silk (notice how jagged my cuts are – yikes!):

And here’s a shot from later in the day when I had wrangled all the folds into place and pinned it…took me forever! Please excuse the poor lighting:

After pinning I did a loose basting stitch along the tie seam to keep it together, which apparently is done on all ties  – I had no idea.

As for the embroidery, I love Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching patterns and noticed a while back that the “Vital Organs” pattern pack includes a lung, among other awesome anatomical parts. My dad really likes the color purple (yep, I said purple), so I purchased two shades of it in silk embroidery thread and set to work. Now, dear readers, I’m under no illusion that my work below is actually good, but it’s passable – and I’m totally okay with that. Once again, please excuse the poor lighting – it was horribly foggy this morning…and clearly, I need to iron the creases out:

I just got these labels made and am really excited to use one for the first time!

I didn’t have any tissue paper on hand, so I’ve wrapped the tie in paper towels for now – not so pretty, but it works:

Phwew! That was fun, but stressful. I should have practiced embroidering something simple like pillowcases first. Or better yet, stick to knitting!

Homemade Candy Canes

I’ve wanted to make candy canes ever since I watched an episode of Unwrapped on the Food Network several years ago showing the process.  It seemed easy enough, so I invited a friend over to try it with me. Luckily, she had just made a HUGE batch of lollipops and was familiar with how to handle poured sugar.

We made two batches; our first was a good learning experience, yielding lots of misshapen (but yummy) lumps of peppermint candy; our second attempt was a bit better, but still not so professional looking. Let me tell you – it is surprisingly hard to make candy canes! Although we were wearing rubber dish-washing gloves, the sugar was WAY too hot to handle after its prescribed cooling period – but once it cooled enough that we could actually touch it, it was too hard to manipulate. So we had to work though the intense heat on our hands to pull, dye, twist and shape the sugar before it hardened.

Here are some pictures of my attempts (the white & green canes were from try 1, while the red and green were from try 2) – please excuse the picture quality:

We both saved our misshapen lumps from the first batch (in the blue dish) to crush up for use in other holiday treats:

Here’s a closeup of some of the better canes:

My friend and I both agreed that we could have done a better job with gloves that more effectively insulated us from the heat of the molten sugar. We also recommend working with a very small batch size for your first one or two tries, and using Pam on everything that touches the sugar mixture so that cleanup isn’t as bad.

Here’s a version of the recipe pretty similar to the one we used, while this YouTube video illustrates the process (notice they use welding gloves to work with hot sugar).

If you decide to make some – have fun, but be careful!


This winter Hubby and I are going to visit my Aunt and Uncle in CA, who I only get to see every few years (and who hubby has never met). I decided I’d like to knit them both holiday gifts, but wasn’t too sure of their tastes – so I finally settled on socks. Everyone loves socks, right? And if you don’t like them they’re easy to hide under pants & shoes! Socks it is – except that I’ve never actually made adult socks. So I searched for some free patterns on ravelry and came across the Naive Socks pattern by SpillyJane (raveled here) to knit for my Aunt. I love the pattern so far – not too hard, but not too simple.

They’re knit from the cuff down; I’ve almost finished the leg portion of the first one – lots of pretty cables (sorry, the light from my window wasn’t fabulous this morning):

The stripey yarn washes out the cables a bit, but not too badly:

Now I just have to figure out this heel-turning business…

As for SpillyJane, I’m in love with her designs. I want to knit most everything she’s created, especially these adorable pear mittens, which are now very high on my to-knit list.

She blogs here and her ravelry designer page is here.

Tree Trimming

While I’m not much for the religious side of things, I really do enjoy the tradition of trimming a tree during the holidays. The farm began selling trees & wreaths the day after Thanksgiving, so this past weekend Hubby and I went down to the corner stand and I picked out a fraser fir. By tree standards, Hubby tells me I picked a funky one – long and tall, rather than bushy; some gaps between the boughs,  some branches much longer than others – but I think it’s perfectly adorable.

We used LED lights this year, so our tree has more of a brightness to it than I’m used to – but I’m willing to make the concession in favor of energy savings:

We’re slowly accumulating ornaments [we purchase them as vacation souvenirs], and while the tree looks much more decorated than our first Christmas together, we certainly have a ways to go.

By next year, my plan is to knit a star-shaped topper (raveled here) and a tree skirt (raveled here)…oh, and there’s Hubby’s cross-stitch stocking I’m now on YEAR 4 of making. Sigh. I see lots of year-round holiday knitting / stitching in my future!

Cold, Sunny Morning

It’s bright and sunny this morning with a crunchy layer of snow everywhere.

Ivan humored Hubby for a few closeups:

This morning, we also tried to get a photo with the goats for our holiday card.  My father-in-law volunteered to be the shutterbug, but (as you might imagine) the goats weren’t really into it. This is one of our many outtakes:

Oh well, maybe next year.

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rambleonrosemary [at] gmail [dot] com

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December 2009
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