A Very Merry Candlenights to You…and You…and You

I am in love with the McElroy Brothers.


Yes, all three of them. At the same time.

Not romantic love, no. But a deeper, truer love. The love that you feel for the kind of people that make you explode with laughter while you are trying to keep your shit together and look cool on the elliptical machine, simply struggling to breathe in general and now having to deal with hilarious antics at the same time.

Please tell me that you guys have listened to at least one of their amazing podcasts. If you haven’t, please do so. Right now. I’ll wait. Just pick one at random, you won’t be disappointed.

Done? Good.

I have been listening to My Brother, My Brother, and Me for the longest (Since 2012, I think? The days just run together now in my sad weird night-shift life.), and I highly recommend it as a way to introduce the McElroys into your world. You will soon be unable to resist adding more podcasts to your rotation — I myself have now listened to every single episode of Sawbones (which makes my little nursing brain so happy), The Adventure Zone (which makes me pine for the long ago days when I played D&D like a goddamn boss, even sometimes across the country), and ‘Til Death Do Us Blart (of which there are only two so far, but if you listened as well…you would know that this is an accomplishment to be celebrated).

Justin, Travis, and Griffin are, quite possibly, the most charming set of three brothers alive. They are insanely quick and clever. They are ridiculously vulgar. They play D&D with their adorably curmudgeonly father. They love horses. And haunted dolls. And Jimmy Buffett. They talk about ASMR in a non-insulting manner, which is quite a thing and warms my heart.

So, as most of you know, if there are people in the world that I admire and feel the need to let them know about how much they make my life better, and, let’s be for real here, remotely tolerable in this towering garbage fire of a year, I have to knit something for them. In this case, both Travis and Griffin, the middlest and babiest brothers respectively, have recently become fathers to some ridiculously beautiful babies, who will be celebrating their first Candlenights this year, along with Justin’s wonderful two-year-old. (And can I take a moment to mention the fabulous wives of these guys? Sydnee, Teresa, and Rachel are also hilarious, wonderful people, and…I don’t mean to single anyone out specifically, but I kind of want to be Sydnee when I grow up. I guess my going back to school to get my DNP starting in January is a first step towards that. [Yeah, I’m going to put myself through the torture of school again. More on that later.])

What’s Candlenights, you say? Well, in the McElroys’ own words, it’s “a pan-religious, pan-sexual, personal pan winter holiday…Candlenights starts and ends for each person at different times, is about different things for each person, and is celebrated differently by each person. People from all countries of all religions and those without religion alike can celebrate their own Candlenights in their own way.”

It sounds lovely, right? So, as my Candlenights gift to them, I decided to knit the first ever (probably?) Candlenights stockings to shower upon the three babies McElroy, to hang wherever and fill with whatever to celebrate their first winter together.


These stockings are super heavily-modified versions of the Keepsake Baby Stocking from Interweave’s Christmas Stockings, which is the greatest Christmas stocking book of all time, and sadly, out of print. Just try to pry it out of my cold dead hands.


They’ve got super-sexy Latvian braid, always a favorite.


They’ve got my very silly duplicate stitching and tiny stars embroidery, just to add to the Candlenights spirit.


They unintentionally look a lot like the Amnesty International logo, now that I’m looking at them. Whoops.


They are also completely coincidentally the colors of the Chipmunks’ shirts, as I am now realizing. That’s what happens when you decide that the perfect yarn is from the leftovers from LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow scarf, I guess.


Oh, and Justin, Travis, and Griffin, if you’re reading this…yes, that was totally a shameless name-drop. I made a scarf for LeVar Burton and handed it to him! Seriously! And I made an owl for David Sedaris! This is just how awesome I think you guys are! I think I can quit it with the exclamation points now!


Anyway, these lovelies are headed over to your respective P.O. boxes soon, so please keep an eye out for them so that all of your wonderful babies can share something silly and fun and handmade this year, made with love and hugs from down here in New Orleans.

You guys are great. And you help keep me sane in trying times. And also make me look like a deranged person at the gym. Keep up the good work.

Snowflakes in July

2013-07-26 021

School starts up again soon, and I have a mixture of feelings about it. This summer has been a much-needed relief from the ridiculousness of my school plus work schedule, and I have been enjoying it immensely. However, near the end of any extended free time, we all feel that same nagging feeling that maybe you should be doing something. Something more than eating crackers and watching marathons of Criminal Minds.

I have been celebrating the end of my awesome summertime monotony by dutifully making delicious oatmeal creations every morning.

2013-07-26 284

I have been writing thank you notes and catch-up notes to fantastically patient pen pals. (Cassie, it’s in the mail!)

2013-07-26 017

I have been waiting to see the first blossoms bloom on the baby magnolia tree we planted earlier this winter.

2013-07-26 266

And I have been making super awesome Christmas stockings.

2013-07-26 274 2013-07-26 251 2013-07-26 280

As previously stated, one of my coworkers requested some Christmas stockings so that she and her husband could celebrate their first Christmas with their new baby girl in style.

2013-07-26 002

I may have gotten a little too excited about having something to do, and therefore made this a huge embroidery project to satisfy the weird urge in me to make simple things more difficult.  Graph paper and radially symmetrical doodling was in order.

2013-07-26 039

These stockings are a heavily modified version of the worsted weight basic Christmas stocking from Interweave Press‘s Christmas Stockings.

2013-07-26 036

You can tell it’s modified from all the giant post-its.

2013-07-26 032

Sarah, my lovely coworker, requested something simple with their names at the top and a single snowflake on the front of each stocking. Because this was not going to be a fair-isle affair due to the pattern not going all the way around the stocking, it was a good time to polish up my duplicate stitching skills.

2013-07-26 035

I mean, look at that stuff! I am so pleased with myself. And isn’t that what blogging is all about?

2013-07-26 028

2013-07-26 026

2013-07-26 023

Now, I can’t keep tooting my own horn and say that I was planning the whole thing from the very beginning, but I really like how the dad’s stocking’s snowflake is a little heavier and more solid, the mom’s snowflake is more delicate and airy, and the new daughter’s snowflake is somewhere in-between.

2013-07-26 022

See? I’m not just imagining that, right?

2013-07-26 019

These parcels of early holiday joy are all packed up and ready to meet their new owners soon. And now before school starts in 2 1/2 weeks, I need to make a knitted carrot with a smiley face. Because, why not?

I Heart Knitting

I forget sometimes just how much I love knitting.

2013-07-10 003

Luckily, sometimes there are those projects that come along that make you realize just how much the mere act of doing something small makes you super happy.

2013-07-10 034

These two projects in particular are responsible for my knitting happiness as of late.

First up? My Grey Gardens, made from the fabulous Knitty pattern of the same name.

2013-07-10 009

Like that chandelier growing out of my head? Me, too!

2013-07-10 025

Much better.

I love the texture that the entrelac has after blocking. Lovely little quilted squares all interlocking together.  And that twisty bit!  Great stuff.

2013-07-10 023

Now, as you can see from the fact that I am wistfully staring outside in these photos, I have yet to develop the self-confidence and bad-assitude necessary to rock one of these in public.

2013-07-02 080

Just kidding. However, it was only for a few minutes due to the fact that it is summer, and it was extremely hot outside. Come fall, I am going to be so freaking awesome.  And I will have very warm ears.

This next one should keep me occupied for slightly longer.

2013-07-10 033

My friend at work is going to be having a baby this fall, and I asked her if she’d like for me to knit her something for the baby. She asked me if I’d like to make Christmas stockings for the baby and her husband for them to enjoy during their first family Christmas. You can’t say no to that adorable-ness, even though it is a bit strange to knit Christmas stockings in July.

2013-07-10 038

The pattern is a highly modified version of the worsted weight basic Christmas stocking from Christmas Stockings by Interweave Press (very sadly discontinued because it’s a great starter book for this particular craft), and yarn is the classic Caron Simply Soft, one of the more lovely acrylics out there on the market.

After I finish knitting the stockings themselves, I’ll be working up charts for duplicate stitching their names and some snowflakes on there. There’s something about their vast expanse of smooth even stockinette that is extremely satisfying. I keep stopping in the middle of the rounds and admiring them, which is ridiculous, but I know that my fellow knitters are totally with me on this one. We all need to take some time to revel in our excellent craftsmanship skills, yes? Right?

Please tell me someone else does this.

How to Have as Non-Garage of a Christmas as Possible

The title of this post is probably rather confusing to those of you who do not know me personally. Those of you who do have probably already heard me rail on about how, during the Christmas that Dan and I were hosting this year, my father determined that we would be eating Christmas dinner in the garage.

Yes, the garage. With the garage doors and the bikes and the cars that live there. The garage.

Upon hearing this news (and after complaining about it for who knows how many hours), I resolved to make our garage Christmas as non-garage-y as possible. With 10 people at the table, there was limited space to make this happen, but Dan and I persevered.


Candles and greenery helped to draw the eye down from the roll-doors and down onto the delights of the table, I think.


My tone is sarcastic, I know, but watch what happens when you turn the fluorescent lights off and let that candlelight shine.


Much better, yes?


The word ambience was even tossed around by certain relatives.  I love the wonder that a few candles, some pine branches, and some nice placemats can do.


Dan did his part by stringing up the Christmas lights, which imparted a rosy glow to the table and buffet-style line as well.

2011-12-27 008

Atop everyone’s plate was a gift bag, pointing out their place at the table and giving them some special after-dinner treats! The stockings were hand-knitted by yours truly, using Mara Jessup’s adorable pattern, Mini Stocking Ornaments. I figured that the hand-checked name tags were a cute reminder that everyone was on Santa’s good list this year.  (Ravelry links above, by the way.  Are you on Ravelry yet?  You should be.)

2011-12-27 018

What’s that peeking out there on the side? Homemade Peppermint Bark! Per Martha’s Basic Bark recipe, of course.

2011-12-24 041


2011-12-24 045

…became this…after several whackings with the rolling pin.

2011-12-24 050

There was also considerable amounts of chopping up chocolate, and then melting it over the stove and resisting the urge to shove my face in it.

2011-12-24 053

The peppermint pieces were doled out, and the whole thing got chilled in the fridge until it was quite cold and satisfying to break into little pieces.

2011-12-24 064


2011-12-24 062

I feel that peppermint bark is very photogenic.

2011-12-24 069

I also did a batch with less, but bigger candy cane pieces, just to mix it up a bit and to not make a huge mess all over the counter with broken candy bits like I did the first time. Picture not available of the mess, thank you very much.

The second treat that ended up in everyone’s gift bags was my second attempt at Sprinkle Bakes‘s Icicle Candy.

2011-12-24 060

I went with red, clear twists with peppermint flavoring, which seemed to make sense at the time, but which ultimately confused everyone. Dan was expecting cherry when he saw the color, but I just wanted it to look good with the peppermint bark. *Le sigh*

This recipe was an adventure in candymaking that made me terribly unsure of my kitchen skills. First of all, the sugar and corn syrup that make up the candy twists are melted in the microwave, and because I do not want to call Sprinkle Bakes or her microwave a liar, I’m just going to call my microwave a monster. After the second called-for trip in the microwave, I ended up with a black melted sugary mess that required a lot of soaking in the sink and a lot of swearing in order to give things another go.

On my second attempt, I adjusted things for the melting times, and everything seemed like it was working great. I poured out the candy and waited about 30-45 seconds before attempting to cut the candy strips so they could set up a little. Set up they did.  It was already pretty much solid. I had to stick the entire sheet in the oven and work on cutting through the candy slowly and painstakingly while half-hanging out of the oven and shooing the cat away as well. Most of the shorter pieces on the ends were already so hard that there was no way they were twisting. Others got twisted just fine on the way out of the oven (which is a fantastically new way for me to singe my fingers, I discovered), but then slipped right through the wire cooling rack, shattering on the counter top.

2011-12-24 054

I was originally going to make 2 different colors of candy for everyone, but after I realized that I had enough for everyone to get a little sample after only one go, I gladly gave it up for the rest of the day. Possibly for the rest of my life.

2011-12-24 078

After the fact, I have to say that I’m proud of them and my first foray into hard-crack molten sugar, but I think next time I’m going to do something with a lot less sugar-to-skin contact.


The rest of the house was kitted out in lots of my grandmother’s old Christmas decorations, including a small tree that we decorated with all of her gold, white, and crystal ornaments. Bowie has been really good so far in resisting the temptation of all the dangly bits, I must say.


Here’s the grandmother in question, Grandma Winnie. She is my last living grandparent, and part of my goal was to make her feel as welcome as possible during a Christmas that could have been very confusing and troubling for her. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and has a lot of troubles with memory and changes in her routine, but I feel like the day was a success.


I’m glad that my mom and I had the opportunity to get this picture together with her on one of her better days.


Add to all this the sweet sounds of our Elvis and Booker T & the MG’s Christmas records (that got all cleaned up with my handy-dandy rubbing alcohol and an old toothbrush), and you’ve got a good idea of how non-garage-y it was in there.


I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or whichever holiday you choose to celebrate!), and I’ll be seeing you more in the New Year, I promise!