Thursday, December 31, 2015

A finished shawlette.

Knock, knock - anyone there? Whew.

What happened to Christmas. It was coming hard and fast and now it's been gone and done for DAYS. Well, almost done. We'll head over the mountains and spend New Year's Day with my side of the family. I'm still feverishly working on my sister's embroidered pockets apron and my brother-in-law's Jayne Hat. Just the earflaps and pompom are left on the Jayne Hat and it's looking good. I'm mostly finished with the embroidery on the apron and I am hoping the already-cut pieces will come together quickly tomorrow morning. It's Christmas break and I'm going to set an alarm for tomorrow. An alarm! For shame.

I do have a finish to show - a little shawlette for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I was thrilled with the shawl pin I found to go along with it and I just love the colors of the yarn. The pictures are dark and don't do the piece justice but it was drizzly out (when is it not?) and I just couldn't get the light to work for me. Don't you think it's pretty on my hall tree? I could have just kept it as a furniture ornament!

Little Women is on Amazon Prime Video. Watch it already. I started a new book by Sara Gruen. If you don't know the author's name, you may know Water For Elephants, her first novel, which sits neglected at the moment on my bookshelf. Her second book, At the Water's Edge, is good so far. It is set in 1942/5 and is about three twenty-something American friends (two are married) looking for the Loch Ness Monster and searching the deeps of themselves and their pasts.

What are you knitting and reading? Show and tell with Ginny. Like my projects? Follow along on my Instagram!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Menu

I have been out--of-sorts this past week with our remodeling project in the stairwell. It has been rather frustrating, but I can't wait to share our finished pictures... and by that I mean that I can't wait until it is finished so I can take pictures!

I had a few minutes to sit down and look through some of my favorite blogs and was inspired by MamaBirdEmma to post my Christmas menu. We will be having a small Christmas dinner and then a larger affair on the 26th with my sister/brother-in-laws, our two nephews, and Julian's parents. We will visit with my side of the family at my Mom & Dad's house on New Year's Day. My MIL has celiac so holidays lack some of the "traditional" things we used to have but believe-you-me, no one suffers on the food front.

Christmas Day


Beef Top Sirloin Roast
Cauliflower au Gratin
Corn Casserole
Broiled Asparagus
Creme Brûlée
Sorbet Floats with Lemon San Pellegrino


GF Vanilla Scones with Blueberries
Clementines (Do you ever grow tired of clementines?!?! I don't!)

Chicken and Rice Casserole
Green Salad
Chocolate Fondue with Almond Quenelles and Fruit

Of course, you know my fridge is also bursting with cheese and Texas caviar, while the pantry is chock full of chips and crackers. I hope my mother in law backs me up in the Christmas candy department with the peanut butter candy and fudge. 

What are you making/eating in the coming days?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Yarn Along 04 - shawlettes, socks & such

 We went to Colonial Williamsburg yesterday to see the holiday decorations and I kind of went wild photographing over 60 doors! This wreath is outside the spinning and weaving display where interpreters show spinning and weaving techniques using wool, cotton, and flax. The picture in the middle up there is of the Leicester sheep that graze in the paddock behind the spinning house.

The picture above is of the Christmas tree in the folk art museum, displaying traditional handmade ornaments.

Thanks for waiting a day for me to get the podcast out. I hope you like what I have to share!

Featured Yarns

Featured Patterns

Featured Folks
Ginny's Sheller @ Small Things
Tif Fussell, aka DottieAngel on Instagram

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yarn Along Preview

Hi friends - I haven't gotten around to filming my podcast for the week. I've got the luxury of having the-one-who-loves-me-best home on Winter Break (until January 16!!) so we've been doing a fair bit of adventuring and house remodeling in between the wallowing in self-pity caused by our shared head colds.

When I do my podcast, I'll talk a bit about my trick for M1L & M1R, my two Emerald City Shawlettes, my yarn wish that got granted, my new favorite shawl edge, and that sock I started. If you'd like to follow along on all my yarn-y, kitchen-y, and completely random adventures, follow me on Instagram (mrsdymacek) until we can visit again here.

How does Thursday sound? You + me? A cuppa tea? Let's do that, yes?


We are up with the sun this morning because we're heading to Williamsburg for our annual go-shop-up-a-big-city trip. Follow along on Instagram if you're interested. I'll post until Julian tells me that I really need to stop obsessing about my phone.

Also, you can join in on the Yarn-Along fun with Ginny @

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mid-December Outing

moody sky :: changing waterlilies :: cypress knees :: eroding shoreline

Who'dah thought that we'd be out on our kayaks in mid-December? Not me. It is warmer than we are used to in Farmville, but not that much warmer - not normally. But I suppose that is the way of things all over this year, everyone seems to be warmer than planned and very un-Christmas-y, too.

Anyhow, a-paddling we did go; a celebratory adventure to mark the beginning of Julian's winter break. The sky was moody, the wind harsh, and the water choppy. We paddled over four miles round-trip.

The Sandy River Reservoir is the lake we frequent most often and one of the many man-made lakes that are local to us. It is so interesting to explore because parts of it are so counter-intuitive because it isn't natural. The "lake front properties" are just country houses with country people living in them. There are no schmancy gated communities looking over Sandy River, because the country folks were there before the lake was.

There is also very intentional plant-scaping to create perfect habitats for certain creatures. You can see in my pictures above that the shore is being washed away a little bit at a time in this spot. What my pictures don't show is the semi-circle of bald cypress trees that have been planted in the water in front of it. Over time, the roots of these trees will grow together into a webbed wall which will protect the shore and form it's own marshy wetland habitat between the strong current of the lake and the delicate border. Genius! But oddly organized-looking.

Such a treat. So good for the spirit.

A note about those cypress knees: they are called "knees" but they are really just knobby parts of the trees' roots that stick up from beneath the water's surface. I can remember as a child seeing cypress knee "santas" at craft fairs and in shops. In the deep south, it was a widely popular (and I assume lucrative) habit to whack the poor trees and then paint on the roots and sell them as a novelty. This has now been outlawed in most states that deal with the problem, making cypress knee santas highly collectible and rather expensive if you consider that it is just a chunk of wood with a beard!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

YA Podcast 03 - So much to think about

The pictures above, most of them, are from my trip to the Yarn Barn. Pat does amazing color work! The autumn color way from the original Baa-ble Hat pattern is very backordered so Pat used 'gingersnap' in her hat and I think it is just perfect for our Virginia clay soils. UPDATE: In the video I talked about the hat coming out too big. Kate aka Willfulmina informed me that Susan B. Anderson had published some modifications to correct this. I have linked to that site below. Apparently I just didn't dig deep enough on that one! Thanks, Kate.

The yarn that I am holding up there is the Noro Yuzen in #10, same as the yarn used in Ginny's cowl on instagram. Pat has 7 skien of it remaining (you need two for the honey cowl, I think) at $10 each.

The sun went down on me, literally, so the podcast gets darker and darker as it goes. 
Let's call it "moody" for effect. I hope you enjoy it. 

What are you knitting and reading? Join along with the group at Yarn Along.
Featured Yarns

Featured Patterns
PurlSoho Linen Apron
New Babeh Sweater

Featured People
Ginny's instagram 
Pat @ The Yarn Barn
Tif Fussell on Woolful

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

that big ol' pumpkin

I didn't weigh that big ol' pumpkin or if I did, I didn't write it down, though I should have. I love a big pumpkin, and this is actually a more eye appealing one than I generally choose. The ugliest ones are the pretty ones in my eyes, and often most yummy. Jack o'lantern pumpkins often aren't yummy at all.

This guy got to live on my front porch for the better part of a month, but when in the pot at the first sign of a freeze. Last year, I brought a pumpkin indoors to stay with us a little longer, not knowing he'd already had his first freeze outdoors. Unbeknownst to me, he sat there on my cream-colored-carpet and rotted from the bottom up.

The first quarter I roasted in the oven. It produced four quart bags of pumpkin puree for the freezer. The second quarter of the pumpkin was diced and tossed in the crock pot where it simmered and I stirred for days. I did not use a recipe, per se, I just went by feel and it yielded two quart jars of spiced pumpkin butter. 

The second half was roasted in the oven and I scooped out about two thirds of the flesh from it and made a pot of pumpkin-lentil- coconut-curry soup. This is now in the freezer as well. The remaining bits of pumpkin from the second half was tossed on the compost heap as I was pretty well over it by then and only half the residents here enjoy pumpkin at all. 

The variety is Flat White Boer, an heirloom variety popular in South Africa. I did save seeds, so let me know if you'd like some and I'll send them your way. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Last week we were out at the lake and found this. We've been watching our busy beaver working diligently through the fall but only seeing signs of jobs he'd gotten done, finished work, trees on the ground, spiky trunk nubs. This half-gnawed tree spoke to me. It said: busy beaver, bit by bit, just keep going, he bit off more than he could chew, unfinished business.

This beaver tree was right beside where we usually park the car and essentially the beginning of our "trail." About a half mile up the way, out of sight of the car and any other civilization, I spot this. 

This long abandoned and heavily overgrown roadway with careful guard rail and leaning sign spoke to me. It said: STOP. We continued our walk over the lake's dam, into the marshlands where we watched a bald eagle finish his supper and flushed a handful of snipe. We walked apart sometimes and we walked together sometimes, but in complete silence most times.

Two hours later and we were back to the car and back to Mr. Beaver's tree. It spoke to me. It said the same thing to me as it said to him: STOP. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Betty's Coconut Pie

I have a theory - I know a fact - that few people are indifferent to coconut. You either love it or hate it. This pie has been known to make lovers of haters.

And really, it couldn't be easier. Just make up a pie crust, mix all the ingredients, pour in the shell and go. The trickiest thing is trying to decide when it is done. If you overbake it, it will split and curdle. To keep the custard creamy, you have to take it out while the center still has a little wobble. It is easier to see than to describe, but the center of the pie will discernibly have a wobble like jelly instead of a ripple like water, when it is done. Also, take the time to toast your coconut, it is the only thing that gives this custard any color, and I would have toasted longer in this circumstance but I was multitasking and worried it would burn.

Betty's Coconut Pie

1 9" pie pastry of your preference
2 eggs
2 T flour
pinch of salt
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. melted vanilla
1 c. milk
1/4 lb. coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 375F. Beat eggs, add flour, salt, sugar. Whisk well to combine. Add butter vanilla and milk. Put toasted coconut in bottom of the pie crust, evenly spread out, pour custard mixture over top.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes before turning it down to 350F. Bake 30-35 minutes or until done, as noted above.

Pie serves best after it has cooled completely in on the counter, then had a little time in the fridge.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

YA Podcast 02 - So much to talk about

I've been ousted from my nest in the den by the Christmas tree, so this podcast has been relocated to the floor in front of the sofa - not half so comfortable as in the window with the birds, but there are worse things. The light in the video isn't very good at showing colors, so I have posted photos here for you to see as well. If you're not excited about listening to me ramble (and say 'um' more often than I am proud of) then just click the links below to get the gist. If you're here for the party, grab your knitting, your tea/coffee and stay a while. {My battery died at the end. Never fear, we will talk about books next week.}

What are you knitting and reading? Join along with the group at Yarn Along.

Featured Yarns

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Featured People
Ginny @ Small Things