Thankful for Pie 2019 Edition

It feels a little silly to have a big round-up post riding on the heels of so many catch-up posts, so we’re going to do things a little differently this time.

Less talk, more reminders of the things that I loved this year, in no particular order.

Now, what did I love most?  Well, what’s always the closest to my heart at all times? Yep, you guessed right.

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It’s pie.

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And ice cream. Homemade is best, always.

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But let’s not forget the whole world of treats available to us. Snoballs from Hansen’s…

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Fresh beignets and frozen coffee from Cafe du Monde with a walk in the park…

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2019 roundup

Homemade birthday cakes…

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And brownies!

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And cookies!

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And waffles!!

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And, most especially, super fancy birthday brunch with my very dear Internet friend Alon Shaya. Or at least at his restaurant when he probably wasn’t there.

It’s all so good.

But we made sure to appreciate our vegetable friends this year, as in previous years, through growing our garden and participating in Grow Dat’s amazing CSA program.

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And what to go with all those veggies and sweet treats?

Alcohol, apparently, if my camera roll is any indication.

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All the best things.

And what else did I love this year?

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Dan. I mean, just every day.

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There just no one else I’d rather live my life side-by-side with. Dan is the best.

And of course, our children.

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Just the sweetest, fluffiest babies ever. Bowie and Trip bring us joy every day, unless they are actively destroying the house. Well, sometimes those things happen concurrently.

I’m thankful for quiet moments.

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And little adventures.

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And several booty-shaking opportunities.

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Seriously, Planet Booty and KP will make you dance so much you lose 10 pounds, every show.

But most of all, the thing I loved most this year, probably because it came in such few and far-between moments, was making things.

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Effervesce.

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Tiny kimono.

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What? My DNP project totally counts. I birthed that thing from my womb.

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Mary Blanket Squared.

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Night Sky Saurey.

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Sandworm!

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Cardamom, and the Little Dragon Hat.

And this year, unlike most years, I got to experience the beauty of mending together things that were once broken.

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I’m not going to go through the arduous process of counting my patient load this year or the amount of pages I wrote, which were considerable, because it only reminds me of the time I spent away from the things I really love the most. So please, as you look back on this year with me, take the time to remember the things that made you most happy, the things that made the year worth living.

And just remember that all of you reading this just made the list for me.

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Happy new year, everyone. Let’s make it a good one.

Catch-Up Time, the Last: a Plethora of Kimono

Here it is, our last catch-up post for the fall and winter of 2019.

You remember my dear friends Jonathan and Rebecca? Of course you do. Just last year, I knit them some socks to keep them warm during their cold Bay Area nights.  This summer, I got the exciting news that they, too, were expecting a baby, although she wasn’t due until at least January.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve fully explained just how important these people are to me on here before. Jonathan is my oldest friend. I know that we all have people that we follow on Facebook and check in with occasionally from elementary school and high school, and of course we consider them friends, but Jonathan is the friend who has always been a major part of my life, despite multiple moves and life shifts by the both of us all across the country over the past 22 (is it 22?!) years.

I was sitting here trying to figure out how to sum up how we became friends and stayed close all of these years, but really, it’s not necessary. Just know that he has shaped who I am today and that I love him dearly. Rebecca makes him sublimely happy, and she accepted me and embraced me immediately when we first met, so she deserves the world.

So, as you can see, this baby coming into the world of two of my very favorite people was a big deal. So big that only one knitted item wasn’t going to be nearly enough to show just how happy I was for them.

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And so we have here, a plethora of kimono.

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When I told Dan about the baby, he said, “Oh, you need to make one of those baby sweaters that you made for Dani that time.” He was talking about when my friend Dani in Colorado was expecting for the first time, and I made her two little sweaters, based on the fantastic pattern One-Piece Baby Kimono by Cristina Shiffman, part of the seminal classic knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting. At the time when I made those sweaters (here and here, if you want to see how cute they were!), Mason-Dixon Knitting was still a relatively new blog/phenomenon. I was delighted to find out that they are still going strong, now selling their own beautiful yarns and pattern kits.

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However, sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than the classics.

In this case, I went with my own stockinette-based tweak of the pattern. When you modify the pattern so that you do it this way, you can get a whole sweater out of only one ball of Cascade 220 Superwash, my very favorite yarn for baby stuff, plus it just looks super chic and elegant this way, yes?

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Yes.

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After you knit one, which seriously only takes an afternoon if you’re motivated, you can’t help yourself and need to keep going.

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And going.

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And going.

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They are just too much cuteness. You can only really consider stopping after five.

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The colors I chose, in descending order here, are Cascade 220 Superwash in #1946 Silver Grey, #873 Extra Creme Cafe, #905 Celery, and #1949 Lavender, and Berroco Vintage in #5101 for the white.

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Dan picked out the ribbon colors, and I think he did a wonderful job. They are all 1/2″ satin ribbon from Offray, and there are so many colors out there, you’re bound to find a great match.

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Weaving and sewing in the ribbon is a particular bit of fiddly business that I enjoy. In the original pattern, they only recommend sewing in the ribbon in ties on the side.

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I can’t ever help myself, and I always have to go a little bit further. For mine, I wove the ribbon in and out of the eyelets, skipping two bars on top and one on the bottom. If you try to just weave it in-and-out of each hole, this width of ribbon starts to crumple and fold over in an unattractive way. By skipping holes on the top to create a larger “bump,” everything lays flat and lovely and shiny.

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See?

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After these were blocked and be-ribboned, they got sent off to San Rafael with all my love, just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I sent them early, because Jonathan and Rebecca’s birthday baby girl decided to come over a month early! She is perfect and beautiful, and I hope that she understands just how much she is loved, not just by her amazing parents, but by those of us across the country, sending our love and good wishes and warmth in the form of teeny, tiny handknit sweaters.

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So that just about wraps it up for this fall and winter. I am still exhausted, mostly in the brain area, but taking the time to sit and write these out has helped me to see how much I accomplished this year that wasn’t just assigned to me by professors.

In real life, I am a fairly prickly person. I am slow to friendship. I am exacting and organized and suspicious. Those people around me, the ones who love and care, deserve so much more love and appreciation than I am ever able to fully present with just words. So, I make things with my hands. I try to infuse the good thoughts and warm feelings that lurk deep within so that they can see them, finally, on the surface. And I hope that they understand.

Catch-Up Time: Night Sky Saurey

For our next catch-up post, we have a real labor of love.

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Not that it was a difficult thing to make at all, but it was a project infused with love from the start.

You remember my lovely friend Kelli?

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Of course, you do! She is a glorious ray of sunshine in my life, and when she told me that she and her husband Taylor were having a baby, I immediately got to work finding the perfect baby blanket pattern for her. After finishing up a happy dance around the kitchen, of course.

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Kelli is a very stylish lady. She effortlessly surrounds herself with handpicked items that suit her perfectly, without ever looking too very. She taught herself calligraphy, and it is always a treat getting hand-addressed letters and cards from her in the mail. She loves the handmade and the one-of-a-kind, making her the ideal person to grace with a truly loving handknit project.

I’m pretty sure it was only a few days (maybe even the next day?) when I starting prying her for details about her perfect baby blanket. Cables? Stripes? Intarsia?

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Lace? Bingo. Introducing our Night Sky Saurey.

Kelli and Taylor weren’t going to find out the gender of the baby ahead of time, and she had already decided on a “night sky” theme for the nursery, so something lacy and reminiscent of the starry, inky night sky was just perfect.

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She picked out the pattern herself, from a curated selection from me, and specified that she wanted it in navy blue.

The pattern? Saurey from Berroco, made in Berroco Modern Cotton. The color Goddard was just the perfect shade, somewhere between navy and royal blue, to evoke those sleepy nighttime nursery vibes.

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Now, I am apparently not the only person who thought that it was just perfect, because it was on back-order from every single online store I could find, for at least 2 months. However, patience won the day, and I ended up with 3 skeins of this beautiful stuff with 2 months to spare to knit the thing.

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And let’s talk about this yarn for a second. Kelli specifically wanted cotton, something that would be able to be washed and beat up a little bit and not get too hot, because regardless of the season, we do live in Louisiana where the weather is trying to murder us at all times. Modern Cotton is a pima cotton and modal blend, meaning that it’s super soft and pliable, not hard and unforgiving like a lot of other cotton yarns, but still very resilient.

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It’s got great stitch definition, even when knit up a little bit loosely, like is required for this pattern. It’s also got a wee bit of a sheen, and when combined with the lace yarnovers and the tiny spaces between the stitches, it makes it look like it’s shimmering when it moves.

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I mean, could there have been a more perfect blanket for a night sky theme? Or a friend more deserving? I don’t think so.

Only two more installments of catch-up posts! More baby stuff, plus something I’ve never done before! Exciting!

Catch-Up Time: Cardamom, the friendly dragon, and the Little Dragon Hat

I am very tired.

For the past eleventy-billion weeks, I have been heavily involved in my (hopefully) second-to-last semester of grad school, including performing my DNP project. And working. And writing a million papers. This may sound like complaining, but really, I think that I’ve earned the right just a little bit. It’ll all be worth it when I can make people call me Dr. Jinger, right?

Right.

Anyway, throughout all of it, I have still been working on a multitude of projects, mostly because my loved ones just will not stop having adorable babies and letting them grow up into adorable toddlers. It’s relentless. So, for the first of these “catch-up” style posts, I’ll be featuring two freaking adorable knitted items that I made for one of the super cute babies in question.

My wonderful friend Tobias and his girlfriend Alexis welcomed a baby boy in September, and because these are the dear friends with whom I lived out my D&D adventures for many years, I knew that I had to make them something that was both adorable and adventure-based.

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“Where thou go’est, weary traveler?”

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Presenting, Cardamom, the friendly dragon.

This sweet little guy was knitted up using the fabulous free pattern Tarragon the Gentle Dragon from Knit-A-Zoo, purveyor of all sorts of cute knitted animals. I loved the original name, but I definitely more of a sweet than savory person, so Cardamom it is.

This pattern really threw me for a loop while I was making it and putting it together, mostly because I just couldn’t get over how freaking cute all of the details were as they appeared. Like, there are little toe bumps on the dragon’s feet.

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Toe bumps!

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The shaping of the head alone gave it so much personality, even before the eyes and spikes got added.

And the spikes!

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Although I had no idea what to expect when I started knitting that little purple strip of spikes (seriously it took me a minute to understand exactly how they would work, but, just trust the pattern, it knows what it’s doing), they sewed in so perfectly and were, by far, my absolute favorite part of the project.

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But, wait! The wings!

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And his little tail!

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So good.

I didn’t really modify anything here, because everything was so perfect. The only thing I did was use my standard felt eyes, rather than the pre-made doll eyes suggested by the pattern, just because I want all of my handmade creatures to look a little bit sad for some reason.

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That face.

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Such a sweetheart.

Now, I had plenty of yarn left over, and I knew that just a little dragon toy wasn’t enough, especially for a future adventure-baby, so I figured that I had to make a little bit of adventuring gear to go along with it.

What better than a little dragon hat to match his new dragon friend?

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Modeled here so excellently by R2D2 is the Little Dragon Hat, made from the pattern Little Dragon by Fox & Crow. Fox & Crow’s website is a smorgasbord of cuteness and style, albeit all in Dutch, but do go give it a look and feel all kinds of knit-based envy.

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The overwhelming delight of being able to match the hat to the stuffed animal? Almost too much.

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This one was so much fun, even during the little fiddly bits. I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I originally attached the wrong color and knit 2 spikes in green before I realized that something was wrong.

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And then, after I was finished with all the spikes, I had to go back and undo and replace the very first one again, just because it was one stitch off from laying flat with the other ones, and it was going to make me go insane if I didn’t fix it.

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It was definitely worth it to get it perfect. The hat is a little (lot) too big for the baby right now, but I know he’ll get plenty of use out of it later, when he’s venturing out to explore his new world.

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Don’t they make a charming pair?

I knit both of these with Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, but really any DK- or sport-weight yarn would work wonderfully, as long as it’s not too high on the acrylic/viscose/whatever-plastic content. I only say this because you need to do a fair bit of ironing for the dragon’s spikes and for getting your hat spikes perfect and pointy, so you don’t want something that’s going to melt or get weird and shiny. Rialto is a 100% merino with a very fine multi-ply structure, so you get really good stitch definition.

For these projects, I managed to make both out of 3 balls of Apple and 1 ball of Wisteria, but now that I think about it, I don’t even think that I touched the third ball of the green. August seems like forever ago, you guys. Stay tuned for more catch-up posts as I try to piece back together a year that felt like it took 3 years to pass.

Thankful for Pie 2018 Edition

You guys. This year was a hard one to recap due to the fact that so many things were just so terrible this year, just in general. From the world seemingly falling apart around our ears every other minute, to the more mundane and personal challenges that Dan and I experienced…it was difficult to sit and take the time and attempt to see the silver lining of everything that was going on. This year has felt like five years packed into one, but if you would have asked me before I started to sort through my pictures, I would have had a difficult time telling you the highlights. I guess that’s part of the point, though. Taking the time to sit and reflect and see the good things that happened.

It would feel a bit hypocritical to not mention that all of these things probably only functioned as temporary distractions from the greater problems and difficulties that were occurring all around us. However, that doesn’t make them any less important. You’ve got to find those things that make getting through life worth all of the problems and strangeness, right? Here we go.

In January, I got to make delicious chocolate pie with Kelli, one of my favorite people.

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We made plans to make more pie (which hasn’t happened yet because I am a busy, bad friend), and to make a dog sweater for her cutie, Ellie.

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Awwwwwww.

There was also the completion of this masterpiece, now proudly hanging in my dining room.

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I mean, people talk about life goals, but I didn’t know that having a giant picture of Ralph Macchio on my wall was one of mine until I had properly achieved it.

I made the pinkest socks ever for my friend Sabrina, right in the middle of a crazy hard freeze, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t happen very often in New Orleans.

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And I got to attend a wonderful Hamilton sing-a-long with my friends and fellow nurses Eli and Carolyn, plus Tessa, the coolest kid I know.

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Of course I wore my Hamilton hat, plus I met a fellow super-cool shirt-wearer.

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February brought with it a very cool woodworking project from Dan. I’ve been begging him for years to make us a coat rack because Trip loves to infiltrate the hallway coat closet and sequester himself in there whenever anyone opens it. True to form, Dan cut down a tree and made a forest in my hallway.

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It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

This year, we really got into tending our own backyard garden rather than participating in a CSA box, mainly because the washing and storage upkeep on the CSA vegetables would have been pretty impossible with all of my grad school work. In March, the whole yard was sprouting and blooming and glorious. A few highlights from the spring and summer:

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We planted wildflowers in nearly every empty space in order to bring the bees on over, and it worked like gangbusters.

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It wasn’t long before the sunflowers got taller than Dan.

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Then, taller than the fence and the patio roof.

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I could look out of my second-story bedroom window every morning and see them blooming. It was fantastic.

We planted a whole crop of carrots, too, which brings me to another goal of the year, which I started in April: annoying a James-Beard-award-winning chef into being my internet friend.

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Dan had bought me Alon Shaya‘s cookbook, Shaya, a little while back, and I spent a large portion of my year making various recipes out of it and tweeting them out to him personally.

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But, it worked! I can’t tell you how many times I danced around my kitchen, roasting red peppers over the open flame and delighting in the fact that a famous chef was delighting in the fact that I was cooking his recipes. It’s a recursive cycle of joy, really.

In April, I also learned how to suture.

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Another skill, along with knitting and CPR, that will serve me well in the apocalypse.

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Plus, I made a very pretty beaded shawl and flounced around in the park with it, feeling like a pretty, pretty princess.

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In May, Dan and I celebrated our twelfth anniversary, and I sent him on a scavenger hunt around the house, collecting fancy dark chocolate candy bars commemorating various landmarks in our relationship.

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We went to NOMA a whole bunch, to see the beautiful exhibits, and to escape the overwhelming heat.

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And I made a beautiful baby blanket for my friend Christina and her new baby.

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I don’t usually call my own work beautiful, but I can’t remember ever being so proud of a project as I am of Autumn Vindauga. It was the perfect way to kick off the Summer of Baby Blankets, because I was just surrounded by pregnant ladies.

In June, in-between writing essays for my nursing ethics class and knitting furiously, we grew some mystery melons.

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Seriously. We did not plant these. They just appeared. And they were yummy.

Then, my friend Bailee surprised me with what might be the most perfect birthday present anyone has ever received.

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Yes, friends, that is me, clad in my Captain America dress, being held aloft by a very sexy, bearded Captain himself. Do yourself a favor and go look at Sakibatch’s other amazing fandom art and support her! This thing is just glorious.

The Summer of Baby Blankets continued into July.

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I put my fingers to the test with all of these tiny cables, but man, it was worth it.

And I made a tiny rainbow!

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In August, the baby blanket mania finally came to an end with the coolest illusion knitting ever.

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A video that I posted on Tumblr revealing the illusion stars is the most reblogged thing that I have ever posted. A small accomplishment, but people love their illusion knitting something fierce.

Then, Bailee and I attended the Ninja Sex Party concert at the Joy Theatre. Aptly named, because sheer joy was just the theme of the evening.

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I mean, look at that. There’s just sunshine and happiness and glitter and rainbows emanating off that stage.

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Because we got VIP tickets (priced appropriately at $69.69), we got treated to Danny and Ninja Brian’s lovely faces as they answered questions and talked about the music they love.

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We wore an awful lot of glitter, but we definitely weren’t alone. There was so much cosplay and sequins and joy joy joy everywhere.

I was introduced to Planet Booty, an energetic and exciting band that travels with a disco-mirrored mannequin butt that they bring out on stage.

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I did not manage to get a picture of this part because my jaw was hanging open while I danced my ass off.

Then, we rocked out to TWRP‘s electronica-disco-dance-party stylings.

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Then, NSP blew our faces off.

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I would have never known about these wonderful bands and people if Bailee had not introduced them to me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have been listening to them this entire time while writing this, and it’s just impossible to not be happy while you listen to their music. Seriously, go to their channel and immerse yourself in awesomeness.

September brought more musical greatness.

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My friend Kyle, better known as KP, rapped all about bad bitches right in front of my face. Go check out his Soundcloud. His stuff is just…it seems wrong to say delightful because that’s such a “me” word and not a word for super cool rappers, but it honestly makes me so goddamn happy.

Then, we saw Taylor Swift at the Superdome.

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Yes, I only own one shirt with sequins on it. Again, I was not alone in being a sparkly lady here. Never before have I seen so much glitter. On the crowd, on the stage, floating in the air. It was unreal.

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And snakes!

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There are no words. It was the loudest, brightest, craziest spectacle I have ever seen, and I loved every second.

In October, I made socks for some truly-deserving people.

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Plus, Dan and I went and saw Aaron Mahnke of the Lore Podcast, a truly wonderful little bit of creepy storytelling you should add to your weekly routine.

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He treated us to a book-signing and a reading from his new book, Dreadful Places, and we chatted for a bit about exhumed graves. Like you do.

In November, we saw Nine Inch Nails.

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Again, there are no words. I will never stop loving Trent Reznor, especially when he pulls out a freaking saxophone in the middle of concert and plays us some ambient end-of-the-world sounds for about 30 seconds, and then puts it away and never mentions it again. My hero.

So, here we are at December. One last project got completed before the end of the year, a little good, good dice bag for Bailee to enjoy while she’s in grad school in London.

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Plus, we’ve got pickles going in the fridge from the last remnants of the garden, tons of bell peppers and green roma tomatoes.

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And, I’ve got a new pair of socks on the needles for my friend and coworker Kristen, all single-stitch twists and bubbles.

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I also wrote the proposal and designed my DNP scholarly project this year and wrote a total of 85,710 words and 320 double- and single-spaced APA-formatted pages on everything from fall prevention to nursing ethical dilemmas to atrophic vaginitis. I saw 411 patients. Yes, I kept track of all of these things because I am a giant nerd. Some of our long-term patients at the hospital passed away or had some crazy near-misses. I sat with mothers and grandmothers and children as they cried in frustration and fear and relief.

I am very tired.

Let’s hope that in the new year, we can truly delight in the things that bring us joy, rather than only using them as a balm to distract from the horrors of the world. I’m trying harder to do this every day, and I can only wish that it gets easier for all of us soon.

Thankful for Pie 2017 Edition

Here we are, at the end of another year. This year in particular was a challenge, mostly due to the fact that it seemed like every other day that the world as we know it was crashing down around our ears. That’s why doing a year-end round-up thing is usually so pleasing to me. Even if nobody’s reading/listening, it gives me an opportunity to look back on everything that happened and pick out all of the good parts. Especially the stuff that might not have made it onto the blog. It makes you remember the good things, even when everything else is still pretty terrible.

First up, in January, Dan and I went to the Women’s March here in New Orleans.

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We hung out with some of the coolest, nicest people ever and got to see some truly hilarious protest signs.

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It really felt good to walk amongst so many people who felt like they just needed to do something. Who are doing things and working hard to make things better. I had a coworker ask me, very sincerely, the day afterwards, “But what is everyone marching for? What’s made them so angry?” My answer: “Everything.” I knitted quite a few Pussyhats for friends and for myself, and Dan and I will definitely be wearing them when we march again this year.

In January, I also finished a vest for Dan, a project that still fills me with pride.

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Speaking of Grow Dat (the little farm that Dan’s running through all joyfully), in February, Dan and I really got the ball rolling on getting creative and cooking with our weekly CSA haul.

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Every week there was more and more kale, and we rose to the challenge. Seriously, I have never eaten so many greens in my life.

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I pickled beets and carrots and daikon and peppers and okra and anything else I could get my hands on. And that’s just a tiny sampling of all of our homecooking. We unfortunately did not sign up for the Grow Dat CSA this year, mostly due to the fact that my time’s going to be even more limited because of school, but it’s definitely helped us to eat better and for me to step up my cooking skills. Do go check out Grow Dat and the Hollygrove Market if you’re here in New Orleans. You’ll be glad you did.

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Studying was a huge part of my life this year, having started grad school in January after graduating from nursing school in May of 2015. I did not take many pictures of it, because it is not particularly visually exciting, but school really ran my life this year. I kept working full-time as well, until the summer, because I am a crazy person and thought that I could handle it. Now I’m down to two days a week (but it’s still night shift and still a crazy-busy job), but at least now I can breathe.

In March, I had to go to “intensives” for school, and I got to see what is possibly the greatest billboard advertisement of all time.

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You might think that a busy highway is no place for Sir Mix-a-lot jokes. You are wrong.

In April, Dan and I found my doppelganger in the New Orleans Museum of Art.

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And we went to a Hootenanny!

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Grow Dat hosted this huge party for all of its subscribers and donors this year, complete with bluegrass music and square-dancing lessons, and all kinds of amazing food and cocktails from all around the city. I may have had a whole lot of strawberry punch and donated a large amount of money to buy a tractor, but those kids were so excited that it was impossible to not get super excited about tractors right along with them.

In May, I made some dice bags.

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Want to make your own? Here’s the pattern, and here’s the chart for your very own LOTR-inspired monogram on the front.

Then, Bailee and I drove ourselves down to Austin in order to personally hand them to the McElroy brothers.

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It was amazing, plus I made an extra-special awful face in that picture, so that’s how I get to remember it for the rest of time.

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We got to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law, and I got to meet some wonderful Twitter people in real life and eat brunch with them, which is why I think the Internet was really invented: to eat brunch with cool people in different parts of the country.

In June, I went to San Francisco to visit my best friend, Jonathan, and his wife, Rebecca, who are two of the best people, just hands-down.

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We went to a Japanese mall.

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We saw Justin Townes Earle.

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We saw the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model.

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We saw beautiful water and gardens.

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We ate at In-N-Out Burger.

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We saw Elvis Costello at the Greek Theatre. (My third time seeing him, and a wonderful birthday treat.)

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We saw so much modern art at SFMOMA that I’d previously only seen in textbooks, which blew my mind a little bit.

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Warhol, Chuck Close, George Segal, Robert Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Duchamp, Josef Albers…I didn’t want to leave.

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We also watched a lot of the new season of Twin Peaks, so it seemed only fitting that I baked us a cherry pie to enjoy.

What a wonderful trip.

During July, I was deep into the throes of knitting for the Summer of Socks, but I figured that this would be a good opportunity to post some pictures of the baking I did this year. Nothing ended up on the blog, but dang there was some good baking coming out of my kitchen.

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And I haven’t posted any pictures of the cats yet!

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Bowie and Trip make every year better.

In August, I made a lovely baby blanket for a lovely lady.

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And a very cute bunny.

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Dan and I also enjoyed the eclipse with Dan’s custom made shadowbox viewer, and a giant welding helmet. Everyone loved science for a whole day. It was great.

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In September, Dan and I finished up a masterpiece.

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And then we just couldn’t stop doing puzzles. We have three now that need to be framed and hung before we’re allowed to do any more.

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Dan also took this nice picture of me in the courtyard of Le Petit Theatre before we saw a show.

In October, we showed some friends from out-of-town around the city for Halloween, which always includes some above-ground cemetery action.

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Yep, that’s right, that’s a human jawbone just hanging out. Every day is Halloween here.

I took those same friends to the National World War II Museum, and we had a great, although sobering, time.

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The production value of this museum is downright astounding. I highly recommend it, even though I’m not really a huge wartime-history buff, just because everything was so detailed and interactive. Just make sure you plan to spend the whole day there so you can see everything. The place is massive, and the four hours we spent were simply not enough.

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This was my favorite fun fact.

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I also posted about some awesome socks in November.

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And I visited Bailee in Mississippi for her birthday!

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We ate all kinds of fried chicken and fancy pastries, listened to Taylor Swift and did our Tarot. A really, really good day.

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I surprised myself and made a beautiful rainbow baby blanket in December.

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Complete with turtle friend.

And then I made another one.

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With elephant to match.

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All of these pregnant ladies in my life have such good taste, so I really had to step up my game to give them some beautiful things.

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Dan requested apple pie for his birthday (as per usual), so I got my buttermilk crust game-face on.

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He also had an extra request this year, and that was that a make peach cobbler for one of his coworkers, a widower whose wife used to love to bake. He’s a good egg, that Dan.

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Then, the Summer of Socks was upon us, and I posted all about my super-secret sock knitting escapades, in three installments (1, 2, and 3!).

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Then, just a few days ago, Dan and I welcomed a new family member into our lives.

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Her name is Turbovicki, and she’s very red and half-electric. We love her.

I have never had a new car ever in my entire life, so I’m having a complicated mix of feelings about it. On the one hand, I feel like I really don’t deserve something so nice. I’m bad about treating myself and doing nice things for myself, because I just don’t ever feel like I’ve done anything special for it. It was a very big decision to even allow myself to think about having a new car.
On the other hand, oh my god if this isn’t the coolest car ever. I’m trying to get over myself and enjoy it.

So, all in all, a pretty good year, full of baking and knitting and schoolwork and love. Speaking of baking…

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First thing for the new year will be a new pie recipe, so you can enjoy all kinds of chocolate and cherries to start 2018.

I can’t even express how good it feels to look over all of this and to be able to share it with all of you. I’m always glad to have the outlet of blogging and to be able to share my (albeit small) accomplishments with a tiny corner of the world. I hope that you all had a good year, despite the ongoing garbage fire of a world, and that we can share the upcoming goodness of 2018 together.

Austin Recap, plus the Good, Good Dice Bags pattern!

First things first, I know that everyone was chomping at the bit to get the pattern for these good, good dice bags, and I did not want to disappoint, so here it is! (At least, I’m hoping that a few people wanted it, right?)

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Click right here for the dice bag pattern in an easily-printable PDF format, and then go here for your very own LOTR-inspired monogram letter to stitch on the front.

I did some extensive reverse-image-searching to find out the designer of this gorgeous Hobbit-y font, and found out that it’s the free font Hobbiton Brushhand designed by Nancy Lorenz, and you can download it right here if you want everything on your computer to look like Bilbo wrote it.

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After the image search, I went ahead and hand charted all of the letters out for you guys for no other reason than that I love you. And that I want you to have such wonderful dice bags.

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Please go knit some and get your duplicate stitch on.

Now, let’s get down to the Austin recap. Last time you joined us here at jingersnaps, we were getting ready to head out to Austin to see the freaking McElroy brothers perform The Adventure Zone and My Brother, My Brother, and Me live.

I know. I had to catch my breath, too.

Bailee and I drove 10 hours from New Orleans, being sure to stop along the way to look at a roadside gas station live tiger.

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Don’t worry, Tony had a lot of toys and space to roam, it seemed. He’s also the source of quite a bit of controversy, as evidenced here. But yes, you’re right, it’s real weird, even for a tiny Louisiana town.

If I broke the whole trip down into timeline-based increments, I think everyone would stop reading right here, so let me just tell you my favorite bits. Austin’s got a lot of really good food, and I’m all kinds of snobby about this stuff.

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Hayley Cakes & Cookies is also a goddamn treasure. They sell cookies on Etsy and ship all over the place!

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I was quite enamored with these chicken and waffles from 24 Diner as well.

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Mother’s Cafe is all vegetarian and fabulous for brunch, especially if you get this ridiculously large slice of chocolate cake to finish. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you meet all kinds of new fandom friends there and they turn out to be the nicest people you’ll ever meet. You guys are awesome.

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Ramen Tatsuya has freaking delicious ramen, plus the funniest bit of bathroom graffiti ever. Bailee made sure to tell me to get in there to see this, and it was definitely worth it.

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Stay classy, Austin.

The other thing that Austin has a lot of is amazing cosplayers.

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The Adventure Zone is a D&D podcast, of course, so we were expecting to see some costumes, of course, but the Austin crowd went big. All of these cosplayer pictures were taken by Bailee, just so you know, because she is much cooler than me and knows better how to talk to equally cool strangers.

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All of those fantastic Taakos and Anguses and Magnuses and Loups…sometimes the only thing we could do was squeal and clap.

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The McElroys themselves also didn’t disappoint. How cute is it that they came out in their character costumes?  And how amazing are our seats?!  Row D!

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The live episode will be out soon, for your listening pleasure. I won’t ruin anything by posting details, but I will tell you that Space Jam is involved.

Another thing Austin has a lot of is McElroy references just out in the real world.

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When we saw these in Toy Joy, we knew we were amongst our people.

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As if things couldn’t get any better, there was a special surprise opening show on the second night by Sawbones! If you’ve never heard it, Sawbones is a medical history podcast that reveals all of the horrible things that “medical professionals” used to do to their patients before anyone had any idea what medicine or science really was, and it’s fantastic. My little nursing heart loves it, and seeing Sydnee and Justin onstage together for this show, talking about gonorrhea, made me so, so happy. That episode’s already out now, so do go listen.

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Bailee got her King Rancho on for the MBMBaM show, and people loved it. We had to run in the rain with giant umbrellas to keep that spider webbing semi-safe, but it was worth it to watch everyone’s faces light up when they saw her.

This live show is already also out, as well, and I just can’t bring myself to listen to it yet because hearing it live the first time made me laugh so much my face hurt. I just don’t understand how three people can be so damn funny in front of so many adoring fans. It’s so, so good, you guys. Go listen.

After the show, we got wrangled into an excessively nonsensical line in order to take pictures and do the fastest meet-and-greet ever. The boys declared that they loved Bailee’s costume (actually Griffin said it was “fresh,” but I could never say that word for real and not sound like an insane person).

Then…

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In my defense, the flash that they yelled at us to put on was super bright, and my face is just horrible. But look at their happy faces!  Griffin is holding his bag!  When I put the dice bags in front of them, Travis and Griffin were just the nicest people ever. Griffin said that he saw them on Twitter, and when I told Travis that I was also the person who made the Candlenights stockings for their kids, I got the warmest response possible (jovial arm punching and quite possibly the best manly handshake in history) when an angry theatre employee is yelling at you to move out of the way. What good guys.

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On our way home, we took Griffin’s advice and stopped at Mrs. Johnson’s Bakery to get some delicious donuts. Listen to the episode, and you’ll find it impossible to resist going there, too, I promise.

What a good trip surrounded by good food, good silliness, and such good, good people. We’ll be back soon, Austin, especially if the McElroys are involved. Keep the donuts warm for us.

Good, Good Dice Bags for Those Good, Good Boys

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I have previously spoken of my love of the McElroy brothers, and if you are new to my special breed of knitting-based insanity, I highly suggest you click that link and read all about it. When I wrote that particular post, I was merely only full of the Candlenights spirit, and had no idea of what was to come the following year.

One frantic morning, I spent the better part of an hour sitting in front of my computer and cell phone, all hopped up on not yet having slept after a 14-hour night shift, alternating refreshing each screen and texting back and forth with my friend Bailee’s friend Chelsea as we attempted a coordinated strike to obtain precious tickets for two McElroy shows in a row.

Let me back up a little bit. The McElroy brothers, and their charming father Clint, announced that they would be recording two separate live podcasts in Austin at the end of May. Opportunities to see BOTH My Brother, My Brother, and Me and The Adventure Zone, the greatest D&D podcast that I have ever had the honor to listen to, dangled in front of me. (It’s actually the only one I listen to, but when it’s THAT good? You only need one.) My friend Bailee and I knew that we had to get tickets, but the problem was that each show was only being sold separately, and both lots of tickets went on sale at the same time, at about 10am central time when I would normally be sleeping (because night shift makes you a vampire-person) and Bailee would be working as a productive non-vampiric member of society.

What to do?

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You make it wooooooooork. You enlist Chelsea, one of the greatest and most devoted supporters of other people’s silliness (and just freaking awesome person), to purchase TAZ tickets at the exact same time while Jinger is sitting at her computer, still awake after 14 hours of screaming, vomiting children, poised to click as fast as possible to get those good, good MBMBAM tickets.

You join the hundreds (thousands?) of other rabid McElroy fans that have the exact same brilliant plan that you do. And then you crash the damn website.

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That’s right. So many people were ravenous to see these ridiculous podcasters that the ticket website was completely overwhelmed, which resulted in everyone getting “stuck” in the queue for tickets for over an hour while everything stalled. What to do when that happens? Chelsea, that brilliant girl, gets on the phone directly to the theatre, and actually gets through. She bypasses the system and scores orchestra seats! And then you do the same! Miraculously! Much dancing about in your chair occurs, as well as joyous proclaiming of your mutual awesomeness splattered all over Twitter for rational people to ignore. Seriously, Chelsea, you’re my hero.

After all the excitement settles, you’re left with a question. What on earth do you make to give to these wonderful podcasters, especially since they will be the first ones in history to receive two (2!) handknit gifts from you that are not directly related to you? Or Dan?

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Dice bags? Dice bags!

We all know that I hold a special place in my heart for acting-intensive roleplaying games. And every roleplaying person worth their salt needs a good, sturdy dice bag to hold all of their special treasures, right?

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I chose Knit Picks Dishie for these, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Lovely saturated colors (Ash, Eggplant, Navy, and Silver, if you want to know…), a hint of a sheen, great stitch definition, and sturdiness that somehow also remains soft and pliable. Good, good stuff.

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But you can’t just let things be simple, right? Of course not! It’s just not a Jinger-project for famous strangers unless it involves a silly amount of duplicate stitch.

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I sat down with a glass of wine and a screenshot of the Lord of the Rings handwriting font (click here if you’re interested in the exact one, for some weird reason), translating them into knitter’s graph paper to make custom monograms. Like a completely sane person.

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Yep.

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All kidding aside, there are few things I love more than well-executed duplicate stitch. It’s so satisfying to do when you hit a really good stitching rhythm, and it’s really fun to sit down with the graph paper and chart out something lovely, especially when it turns out exactly the way you saw it in your head. These letters, in particular, please me, due to the varying line-weights in the strokes, and how those things actually still come across in the final, embroidered version. It felt really good watching them “develop” right in front of me while I was working on them. When I finish writing up the pattern so that everyone can make one, I’ll be sure to chart out the other letters in the LOTR alphabet style so that you can enjoy it, too.

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It seems like you have a lot of dice until you lay them all out. Maybe some clever cropping?

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Better!

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Do we think Justin, Travis, Griffin, and Clint might like them? I hope so. I hope that they like the new dice that I picked out to go with them, too, because what’s good is a new dice bag if it’s empty?

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I tried to pick colors to coordinate with their bags, and also just ones that were pretty. Because opening up your dice bag should feel like looking at little precious stones. Little precious stones that could make you a triumphant hero. Or they could make you trip on your shield and split your tongue in two so that you have disadvantage on all spell-casting, and you’re a cleric.

I might have a little bit of experience in critical failures, you guys.

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To the McElroys: Wengelbertina Slapdeback, my all-time favorite character I’ve ever played, a holy cleric of Pelor who also looks like a German beermaid who could beat your ass down with her flaming longsword, prays that all your attack rolls are crits with max damage. And I hope you guys don’t get overwhelmed with all of the aggressive nerdiness coming your way this weekend in Austin.

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Amen.

A Vest for Dan

My boyfriend Dan is extremely picky? discerning when it comes to knitwear.

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It can make making things for him somewhat challenging, but after being together for 10 years, you learn how to make things work. He has very strong opinions about vests in particular. They have to have buttons. They have to be all one color. They have to have a stitch pattern, but it can’t be cables or anything too too fancy. They have to look good with blue button-down shirts.

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They have to be BB-8 approved.

Okay, maybe I made that last one up.

Point is, there are a lot of rules. And how do we get around this, being the incredibly patient knitter that we are? We make Dan pick out every single aspect of the project. We sit together for two hours on Ravelry, going through every single listed knit vest pattern for men, until it is narrowed down to only one.

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The winner? A Vest for Charles by Kathleen Dames, from The Best of Jane Austen Knits. This one ticks every box up there: buttons, all one color, an unobtrusive but lovely brocade-inspired stitch pattern…perfection for the picky man.

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The yarn? Well, this is the first time in my life that I have ever done this, but this project is knit in exactly the same yarn and colorway as pictured in the original pattern, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the color Truffle Hunt. (Click the link to buy some from Loop! They were super fast and super friendly! Highly recommended.) I gave Dan several suggestions as to other worsted weight yarns and tweedy options, but he had his heart set on the exact one in the picture.

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And you know what? He couldn’t have been more right. Truffle Hunt is a gorgeous color, somewhere between gray and brown (as you can probably tell from the fact that it looks like a completely different color in almost every single picture), with tiny flecks of teal green, dark blue, gold, brown, and white interspersed throughout. And because Shelter is what’s called a “woolen-spun” yarn, it’s very soft, light, and airy, while somehow also providing amazing stitch definition and warmth.

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I mean, look at all that double-diamond action. I’m definitely going to invest in some more when it’s time to make a sweater for me.

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Jane Austen Knits is a really fun book for those who are into regency-influenced fashion, so I felt like I needed to get a picture of Dan enjoying a bit of Persuasion. Fitting, as it’s the character Charles Musgrove for which the pattern is named.

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As for the pattern, although it’s absolutely perfect for my slender, just made-for-an-ascot-looking counterpart, it has its ups and downs. The charts are easy-to-follow, but more complex than they appear at first glance. Keep your stitch markers going (even though it’ll seem ridiculous at first) and take plenty of notes as to where you start and stop for each section of pattern when you get to dividing up for the sleeves. You’ll thank me later.

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Keep close track of your buttonhole rows, because they don’t line up with the stitch pattern at all, even though in the finished project, they look like they do.

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Speaking of buttonholes, this is actually one of the things that I thought was really marvelous about this pattern. While you’re knitting, you knit in buttonholes on either side of the chest closure at the same time, resulting in doubled matching buttonholes all the way up. This is for two reasons: one, so that the vest can be unisex and you can choose for yourself which side to sew the buttons onto; and two, so that when you are ready to sew, you know exactly where that button is to be placed, down to the exact stitch.

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It’s not super easy to see, but the post on that button is going to land directly into the yarnover, which matches exactly with the other side. I know that all knitters have had that moment where, no matter how well you measure and mark out your buttons and pin out everything perfectly, the buttons never, ever look exactly evenly spaced. I’m so happy to know that there’s a solution to that problem.

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The buttons? Dan picked those out, too. Well, more like he was guided into choosing them by the amazing staff at Promenade Fine Fabrics on St. Charles Ave. here in New Orleans. If you go to their website, the fantastic man who helped us is the owner, Herbert Halpern, the distinguished-looking gentleman on the left in the photo at the bottom right corner. He came right over to us, picked up the vest, steered us away from the wooden buttons, and found the absolute perfect match. Dill 1942 Full Metal, style 6486, if you’re wondering.

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They’re just exactly the right mix of modest and military. And just like the yarn, they change color depending on the light. I ended up using 13 buttons instead of the 11 called for in the pattern, because even though I made the 36″ chest circumference size, Dan’s torso is really long in proportion to the rest of him. The result? A super-flattering slim fit that makes him look taller. And even though I made the vest that much longer, I still somehow ended up with an extra skein of yarn left over. Maybe a hat to match? Or an ascot?

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Last, but not least, Dan got to pick out our photo shoot location. Grow Dat Youth Farm is one of our favorite places in the city.

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They teach kids all about sustainable agriculture and sell their food through farm stands and CSA boxes throughout the year. We finally became CSA share members this year, after debating for some time, and we’ve been having a lot of fun so far preparing the seasonal vegetables that they provide.

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I am all about those purple carrots now.

So, if your boyfriend wants to show off his brand-new sweater vest by running around in a field of greens that you’re probably going to eat later, you let him.

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Thankful for Pie 2016 (is the year over yet?) Edition

Well.

I know that I’m definitely not in the minority when I state that 2016 was mostly a flaming garbage fire of a year. Losing so many inspirational people (especially David Bowie…my bestest kitten’s namesake…that one still hurts) and watching this country (well, large parts of the world, actually) attempt to tear itself apart with prejudice and hate…

It’s very hard to be thankful this year.

However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try. So, here’s my annual year-in-review, Thankful for Pie, featuring a whole boatload of photos and stories that did not end up on the blog this year due to the fact that working night shift makes blogging extremely difficult. I will try my best to not be so lame about it next year, I promise.

January started with a very special project…

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cap and peggy

making hats for Cap and Peggy! My friend Bailee and I got up insanely early in the morning in order to spend 15 seconds getting this picture late in the afternoon, and let me tell you, what a fantastic decision that was. Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell were both lovely, lovely people, and they deserve all the handknit love.

Later that month, I spilled an entire gallon of milk on my kitchen floor.

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It was really a grand achievement.

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Dan and I also got into watching professional darts competitions on YouTube, and I discovered that I am acutally pretty decent at darts. Please, do yourself a favor and go watch some of these things, and then walk around your house yelling “One hundred and eighty!” at the top of your lungs. You’ll feel awesome.

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Many walks in City Park were had as well, and we were particularly photogenic that day.

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And we got to go see Tool! Second time for me, third time for Dan, but I will go see that band every time I can until the day I die. So good.

In February, Dan made me go canoeing on Valentine’s Day.

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I say made me because for some reason, even though I am a decent swimmer and also wearing a flotation device, going out in this canoe gives me all kinds of anxiety. We seriously bought this canoe with spare change collected from over a number of years, and I need to make a special point to get more comfortable getting into that thing, because Dan has suggested we go canoeing every single weekend since.

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There was Mediterranean food at the end, though, so that made it okay, with the added bonus of my Captain America t-shirt.

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That month I also discovered that Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls and I have the exact same kitchen light fixture. Good deal.

In March, I got to deliver a baby blanket filled with love to my much-deserving friend Christina.

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She remains one of the reasons why I’m still sticking with night shift at my crazy-busy hospital, and her tiny baby will continue to receive knitted love from me whenever possible.

Dan’s family came into town that month, and we took them to China Lights.

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The entire park was filled with these beautiful sculptures made of hand-painted silk and light, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

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Stunning.

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I made some awesome socks, and told their name to any- and everyone who would listen. Say it with me. Drachenschwingen.

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My friend Paul made me the most beautiful masterpiece of a snoball at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, one of the greatest places on Earth. Snoballs will remain a theme throughout the year.

In April, my good friend Kelli from nursing school got married, and I got to see some much-missed friends.

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It’s always nice to see beautiful weddings happen to really good people.

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I also got a really good 7-letter word in Scrabble that month, you guys.

In May, Dan and I celebrated our ten years together with brunch and pretty trees.

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Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe will always treat you right with the good, good breakfast food.

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My best friend’s band, the Ghostwood, had their very last show. Jonathan and his wife Rebecca have since moved to California, and I miss them all the time.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t really sad, but I did have a moment of triumph at this particular show. A crowd-surfing/mosh-pit/poorly-place speaker situation led to the guitarist Andy’s lovely girlfriend Lisa getting hit really hard in the knee, and I got to spring into first aid action, helping Andy get her out of harm’s way, providing her with ibuprofen, and then getting her an ice pack. I felt downright nurse-like.

She’s totally okay now, guys, don’t worry.

Dan and I got to see this really awesome papier-mache elephant.

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And I got to witness what is possibly the greatest license plate of all time.

June. Oh my god, June. I completely forgot to tell you guys what happened to…bum bum bum…the Hamilton hats. This could be a post all by itself, so hang in there.

Well, first things first, I made an insane amount of hats for the entire cast of Hamilton.

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Actually, first-first things first, my brother and sister-in-law made the arrangements to take me and Dan on a fantastic New York Hamilton-based trip for my birthday, which I will never, ever be a good enough person to deserve, so I have no idea why they keep doing these awesome things for me.

And then I wrote a rather unintentionally heartfelt post about them addressed directly to Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The hats came with us to New York City!

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We saw Fun Home! It was an astoundingly beautiful piece of theatre, and I was totally crushed when it closed earlier this year. Every single person in this world would benefit from seeing it, and I hope that communities get their own productions running soon.

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Ignore my weird grinning double-chinned I-totally-wasn’t-bawling-my-eyes-out-ten-minutes-ago face in these, but just be excited that Beth Malone and Michael Cerveris were such wonderful friendly people. Michael Cerveris was super excited to talk about New Orleans with me for a little bit (he lives here!), and I dream of one day being super cool and not weird at all if I bump into him on the sidewalk.

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The entire cast was just so friendly and sweet to the fans. It was really fun to watch them.

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On Hamilton day, Dan and I started early and roamed Central Park.

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Dan discovered that in order to get the proper angle on some extremely important photos, you have to fall over backwards into a bush.

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The original bag that I had packed the hats in disintegrated in my suitcase, so I packed the hats up into a nicer laundry bag from our hotel, complete with a printed out copy of the blog post, like a giant dork.

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We went to this super-cool lunch/interview thing at Sardi’s where there was a Q&A with Betsy Struxness and Stephanie Klemons, original member of the Hamilton ensemble and assistant choreographer/dance captain of Hamilton respectively. Two very cool and accomplished ladies who encouraged everyone to pursue the arts and get their entire families involved. Also, I was wearing an awesome dress with chickens all over it that I got from Trashy Diva.

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We got in line for the show, and I mustered up the courage to knock on the backstage door, at Betsy and Stephanie’s advice. A kindly older gentleman came out and asked me who the hats were for. I told them that they were for everyone in the cast. And that was it.

Until. We got inside the theatre, bought some merch, made our way to our seats, and then my sister-in-law Kim tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Jinger, look!” I turned to see who I assume was the stage manager, wearing one of my hats and making her way up into the booth about 5 minutes before the show started. I died for a second. And that was it.

No, seriously, that really was it.

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We waited for autographs afterwards, plus after the evening show, and even though we saw and chatted with both Rory O’Malley and Leslie Odom, Jr. (both fellow Carnegie Mellon alums and people I have actually met and interacted with in real life before), neither of them knew anything about the hats. I tweeted and re-tweeted about the blog post to Lin-Manuel Miranda and other cast members, and aside from getting a “like” from Renée Elise Goldsberry…

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…which, don’t get me wrong, was freaking awesome, I never heard anything else about them. I sincerely hope that they didn’t end up in a garbage can somewhere. Perhaps they are hanging out with Jeff the Squirrel somewhere.

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Got Rory, Leslie, and Ephraim Sykes (who has since gone on to win hearts playing Seaweed on Hairspray Live!) to sign my Hamiltome, too, even though there were no pictures of that due to the crush of the crowd, so that was good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, there were many other wonderful things about the trip.

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We toured the Aladdin theatre and got to interact with some cool Disney Broadway memorabilia.

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We saw a DeLorean parked behind a pile of trash.

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We had a wonderful picnic in Central Park with more incredibly beautiful people from Carnegie Mellon, my friends Carla, Nora, Marie, Evan, and Evan (yes, I meant to type two Evans), who all, even though I see them only every five years or so (which is ridiculous and I hope that we can change), remain the most lovely people who fall into conversation as if we just saw each other the day before.

This picnic took place on Sunday, Tony Awards morning, which was unfortunately also the day that the news erupted about the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting the previous night. It was a good day to hug your friends as tightly as possible.

Speaking of Tony Awards…

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We went to a viewing party at this wonderful restaurant whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment, but we had a great time. Dan cheated off of me on our Tony ballots, but promised to split the prize with me.

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We ate an array of tiny delicious foods and drank an astonishing amount of wine, all while tearing up while watching Lin-Manuel accept his award with starkly beautiful poetry and seeing Hamilton and The Humans just clean up all the awards. Good stuff.

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A wonderful trip, but bittersweet.

In July?

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Dan and I made pie, but unfortunately zero pictures of pie or pie recipes ended up on the blog this year, for the precise reason that I absolutely sucked at pie this year. I just could not get my crust game together, and I still have absolutely no idea why. Many attempts were made, many disappointments were had. I am aware of the irony that I always call this post Thankful for Pie, but the reasoning for keeping the name this year will be made clear later.

I made a decorative throw pillow for one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk.

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I think he liked it.

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In fact, I know he did.

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Look at the little picture he took of me! What a good dude.

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I also took the month of July to binge listen all of The Adventure Zone podcast while drinking coffee and coloring-by-numbers. It’s hard to stay in the lines when you’re listening to those McElroy brothers, let me tell you.

August brought with it more snoballs.

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Plus, my new favorite shoes, turquoise Vans covered with beach balls and tiny kittens playing in inner tubes. Like you do.

In September, I started a new vest for Dan, which will get a massive blog post when I’m finished, I promise.

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I went on a granola-baking binge.

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We had a few beach moments before it got too cold and gloomy to do so.

Something also happened in September that was awful, but ended up being something that I am incredibly thankful for. Because this involves nursing and patients, I have to speak very, very generally, so bear with me. We take care of a huge range of high-acuity patients on our floor, and having very young children with tracheostomies and ventilators is not uncommon. Early one morning, I happened to be the one to respond to a mother’s call for help and ended up performing CPR on an unresponsive and not-breathing baby with no pulse with a trach/vent for nearly five minutes. I got rotated out when the code team arrived and seconds later, her heart started beating again.

She’s totally okay now, I promise! She was back to her old self the next night, and I know that this is par for the course when you work with very sick children, but it would be wrong to pretend that this didn’t affect me deeply. I had nightmares for about a month afterwards where I saw the entire thing happen over again. We also had a long-time patient that I took care of all the time pass away this year, so it was like the entire reality of my job hit me all at once.

Hold on, let’s look at something happy.

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My parents dug up an old Karate Kid movie poster puzzle for me.

Plus, I have really cute cats!

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Like, the cutest! Feel better? Okay. Me too.

I am not rethinking nursing in any way, trust me. If anything, I’m digging in deeper. More on that later.

October started with the greatest Halloween decorations of all time.

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I see this house on my way to work all the time, and I wonder if the guy who does this knows how much happiness it brings me.

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More snoballs, this time featuring Hansen’s well-known motto.

Then, for a dress-up opportunity at work, Dan made me the greatest gift a man has ever given a woman.

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My very own Captain America shield made out of a garbage can lid. (Just like in the first movie! I know!) It is possibly now my most prized possession. I wish I could carry it around every day.

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And dang it if it didn’t look super cute with my vintage-y Captain America dress.

All this dressing up was for our superhero-themed Pediatric Nurses’ Week poster contest, and let me tell you, people on 6 Center know how to throw down.

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I know that we save lives and stuff, but this just might be my greatest accomplishment as a registered nurse. I’m way down in the lower right-hand corner, but all of the collaging, drawing, and lettering was all done by yours truly. Needless to say, we won the crap out of that poster contest.

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I finally got the Hamilton soundtrack on vinyl just in time for our Hamilton’s America documentary viewing party, which also included alcoholic cake…

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Drunken Pumpkin Bundt Cake, to be exact…

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…lots of Hamilton shirts…

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…and hilarious Hamilton bingo.

Remember how I said that I was digging in deeper into nursing? Well, in November, I was accepted into Loyola University’s DNP program.

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In three years, I will have a Doctorate of Nursing Practice, and will hopefully be able to work in a clinic in underserved communities to help children and their families. I start in a week and a half. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified, plus happy to buy some new school supplies.

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Dan and I did our part and became part of history, voting for the very first woman candidate for president. We all know how that worked out, but I’m still proud that we got a chance to do such a thing, and I can’t wait to do it again.

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For Thanksgiving, I continued to experience crust and pie-related failure. The pumpkin pie was perfectly fine, but that apple and cranberry one up on top was a huge mess. I fought through uncooperative crust and managed to make something that looked really good, but for some reason the filling never…gelled together. I sliced it open and dished up mangled pieces of apple, cranberry, and crumbled crust and tried not to get really upset. Pie really is a mystery that way. You can go from start to finish thinking everything is fine, but you won’t know until you try to get that first slice out of the pan.

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At the end of the month, I got to help make a baby’s first Christmas a little more special. Christina’s baby (mentioned above with the baby blanket) has been “adopted” as honorary grandbaby to one of our other coworkers, and she commandeered me to make a label for this adorable stuffed bear. I went ahead and said, how about I make it a lot harder and make a whole sweater for the bear? No one who reads this regularly is at all surprised, I’m sure.

Also, the bear “unzips” up the back and flips inside out to fold into a plush ball, which is really, really cool, but makes it so that the sweater had to be able to come off, hence the wide neckline. When my coworkers saw it, they all declared that the cowl-neck was adorable, which was hilarious to me.

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In December, I made tiny Candlenights stockings for the McElroy brothers.

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I destroyed my coworkers in bowling.

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We ate even more snoballs. Any and every time of year is right for this icy goodness.

And, then, to finish things up on a high note, I conquered crust.

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I got out the big guns and let Joy the Baker tell me what to do. Every step was painstakingly followed, I rolled out everything extremely slowly and chilled everything multiple times, and it was perfect.

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Dan’s birthday apple pie was a success, and I will continue to kick ass at pie in the new year, hopefully.

I hope that you all take the time to find the light in such a dark year and also kick ass at whatever you choose to do. Although, seriously, you should make some pie. You’ll feel better, I promise.