What a great Christmas feast we had! An 8 lb. rib roast turned out absolutely perfect, with perfect gravy, mashed potatoes, green peas, flaky biscuits, and a new apple pie recipe that was much better than the usual one I've been making. This year we used Jonagold apples and made a brown sugar crumb topping (Dutch Apple pie cobbled together based on two different internet recipes.) All yummy. After we ate around 3:30, we packed up a dinner plate for a neighbor who is in a nursing home and brought it over to him. When we saw the food they were served, we were glad we did. He's only 59 years old and is stuck sharing a room with two other guys, surrounded by people who are mostly either mentally handicapped or senile. I don't even know why he's in there--he injured his shoulder and can't move one arm, but that hardly seems like reason enough to lose one's autonomy! Anyhow, a plate of roast beef and gravy certainly looked better than a plate with ice-cream scoops of rice, macaroni and cheese, and some form of mashed broccoli!
Kristen made the cutest little felted purse, all in one day! She started working on it on Christmas Eve, based on a pattern in One Skein, knitting in the round in sage green wool yarn. She was so obsessed that she stayed up till 1:30 am to finish it, then felted it in the washing machine on Christmas Day--and it came out perfect! She sewed decorative buttons on it, and it's done and ready to be gifted. I am amazed at how quickly and confidently she's been learning new skills. She just reads the instructions and does it--a large button-hole type thing to create a handle, no problem. Increasing by knitting into the front and back of stitches, no problem. If she ever gets the camera out, I will post a picture. Meanwhile:
http://www.amazon.com/One-Skein-Quick-Projects-Crochet/dp/1931499748/ref=pd_sim_b_4/104-0778110-7397515 (Pictures of other people's felted purses. Hers is cuter!)
While she was home knitting, I went to midnight Mass. The only problem with midnight Mass is that it *starts* at midnight! If they would do it at 10 pm, and end by midnight, it would be more enjoyable! But the Vietnamese congregation has the 9:00 to 10:30 time slot, and then there's a Christmas concert from 11 to 11:50 pm. So my friend Nancy had asked me several months ago if I would take her to Saint Catherine's some time, as she has lived in the shadow of the church for years but has never been inside the doors, never attended a Catholic Mass. So I suggested midnight mass as a possibility, since it wouldn't interfere with her Sunday School duties at the Baptist church.
I had to take a nap from 9:30 to 10:30 pm in order to stay up that late, but I did, and met her at 10:45 to walk over to church. Lovely evening, Orion sparkling overhead. The concert was very nice. There were probably only 100 or so people scattered through the church when we arrived a few minutes before it started, but people came in all through the hour and by the time Midnight mass started, the church was full (maybe 700 people?) There was incense, 5 priests, a slightly scolding sermon from Father Sal (who is a high school principal and a natural-born scold) and a post-script by Father O'Byrne (who is a psychologist and a natural-born comforter and an Irishman with the gift of Blarney!) Janet Hook, whohas a lovely soprano voice, manages to sing an Agnus Dei that starts off on a shockingly high note--I can't imagine being able to just open one's mouth and hit such a note, rather than easing one's way up to it as the finale.
So when I got home from midnight Mass, it was after 1:30 AM and Kristen was still up, having just finished her knitted purse and feeling all pleased and excited.
For Christmas, Sam gave me a microwave oven for my office, since I have a refrigerator in there (left by a previous occupant) but no way to warm up a lunch. I think this will encourage me to eat less junk food. Generally at lunch time, I buy whatever looks quickest at the tiny little canteen, often a slice of pizza. But now I have no excuses and can take some low-calorie frozen meal or left-overs from dinner and have a sensible lunch in less time than running over to the canteen--which has anyhow been closed while they tear down the building! (Rumor is that they will try one more time to open the cafeteria, but that's off the beaten path and they mostly sell junky food anyhow.) Sam also gave me a lovely gift set of perfume and body lotion in the scent called Pleasures, and he gave Kristen a smaller set of Beautiful, which includes a velvet purse and some lipstick.
And Kristen gave me a Japanese calendar and a beautiful knitting book called Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It is visually very attractive, and has some nice patterns (though nothing that I could possibly knit in the time frames they indicate--less then 2 hours, less than 4 hours, etc. If I change hours to weeks, it would be closer to the mark.)
So a nice Christmas. And now what? Um, finish the-scarf-that-doesn't-end? And then maybe try my hand at a baby sweater? http://dogsstealyarn.com/yoda.htm And what would I do with a baby sweater, you ask? Oh, I don't know. It's a way to practice sweater making skills without the need to worry about whether the sweater will fit me! And if I finished it in a month or two, I could give it to so-worker Nancy, maybe. (There are other pictures of that sweater in finished form that look better than the original pattern. Who dresses their baby in Graphite gray??)
And left-over roast beef and gravy sandwiches for lunch! What could be better?