FO Friday ~ Rayman GAL Square

As I mentioned on Wednesday, today we have a knitting post instead of a reading post! Here’s my latest finished GAL square:


If you enjoy platform games and haven’t played any of the Rayman games, you need to start. Now. They’re a ton of fun, and very silly. And, at times, HARD. I’m very glad that Mr. Wyrm is a better platform gamer than I am, because otherwise I never would have gotten to the end of Rayman Origins. Come to that, I haven’t finished any of the other Rayman games, either. The only reason I have even seen some of the levels in the original Rayman (released in 1995 – has it really been that long?) is because my sister’s boyfriend at the time was a beta tester and showed us some of the levels.

The picture above is what I will be using as the front of the square. Here is the other side:

I don’t like it as much, since the teeth look weird in black. I didn’t dislike that enough to alter the pattern, though. This one I knit exactly as written (unless I made any goofs, but I didn’t look too closely for those).

If you’re interested in learning more about the Geek-A-Long that I’m participating in, check out the Lattes & Llamas blog. All of their GAL posts are here. And while you’re there, if you want to support a good cause, read their blurb about the Child’s Play Charity, which is what they’re putting on this whole knit-along to support.

WIP Weds for 5-25-16

It’s time for a WIP update!

First up is one that’s almost finished: the Lacy Entrelac Scarf. I’m to the point where I think I need to knit the ending triangles so I don’t run out of yarn. I was hoping to have the colors match up a little better at the seam, but when you’re working with leftover yarn with a long color repeat, you can’t always pick and choose.

Of course, I still have to knit to the point in the pattern where I’m supposed to knit those triangles, but I’m on the home stretch! It’s nice to have projects which can be finished relatively quickly instead of only huge projects.

Speaking of huge projects… I have started a new square for the 2016 GAL Blanket.

This is the 2016 Portal square. Don’t be confused by the fact that I have already knit two Portal-themed squares. Those were 2014 squares (which are allowed for this blanket, too). It makes me very happy to have three Portal squares for my blanket. If there were more Portal squares, I would knit those, too. (It’s not likely, though. I won’t say it’s impossible, just not likely.)

As with all the other official 2016 squares, this one is written for two colors only. (Well, two colors at a time. Some of the 2014 squares had you change colors during the square – the Pac Man ghosts, for example, changed colors when you got to a new ghost. So far all of the 2016 squares have been only two colors.) However, I really wanted to have both blue and orange in this square – those of you who have played Portal will know why. So I have elected to do the circle in orange and the man in blue for the front side of the square. The back side will still be only two colors, which means that for the bottom section of the square I am carrying three colors at once. It gets a little confusing at times, but so far I’m managing.

And since there is a new square, that also means that there is a completed square… but you will have to wait until Friday for that one. Since I haven’t been reading as fast as I often do, I won’t have a Friday Reads book review this week, so I’m saving the finished square for this week’s FO Friday post. Stay tuned!

Ten On Tuesday ~ Dessert!

Sorry for the blog silence last week. Last week’s 10 on Tuesday prompt didn’t spark any creativity in me, so I didn’t end up writing it, and then I got busy with other things and just didn’t make it to the blog. But this week’s 10 on Tuesday prompt is one that I really like, so here goes!

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for Tuesday, May 24, 2016 is 10 Favorite Desserts. I can’t believe we haven’t done this before but I checked and double checked and couldn’t find it. If we have please don’t tell me and just do it again!
Have fun!

Yum! This is my kind of prompt. Here are ten of my favorite desserts in the order in which I think of them. I’m not playing favorites today!

  1. Port Wine Brownies! AKA brownies (from a box mix) made with port wine substituted for the water. You add a little more wine than the recipe calls for water, because it evaporates differently. But they are so good! And of course, it’s best when you can then drink the remaining wine while eating the brownies.
  2. Tiramisu. A good standard.
  3. Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes. I can’t pick just one flavor; so many of them are good. My current favorites are the Dulce de Leche, Pecan Turtle, and Tiramisu cheesecakes.
  4. Ice Cream! Again, I can’t pick just one flavor. But I do love most of the cherry ice creams (such as Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia), the mint chip varieties, and a good fudge swirl ice cream. The problem with the fudge swirl varieties, though, is finding one that is actual fudge making up the swirl, rather than fudge-flavored ice cream.
  5. Strawberry Shortcake!! I love this. It’s one of my three favorite summer desserts, because the strawberries need to be fresh.
  6. Strawberry Tarts and Pies! This is the second of my three favorite summer desserts. I used to live across the street from a Nation’s Burgers, and I would wait anxiously for them to start offering their strawberry tarts. (Speaking of, it’s about that time again…)
  7. Peach or Apricot Cobbler!! The third of my three favorite summer desserts (but which one I like best varies day to day). We have a family recipe which is a good (IMO) blend of sweet and tart, especially when made with apricots. (The peach version is a bit sweeter and less tart, as you would expect from peaches.)
  8. Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting. This has been my birthday cake of choice ever since I can remember. I just adore it, which is why I keep neither the cake mix nor the frosting in my pantry. I’d be too tempted.
  9. Jian Dui – known to most Americans as sesame seed balls. These are a favorite Chinese dessert often served with dim sum.
  10. Nian Gao Another Chinese dessert, this one specifically made for lunar new year. (Though, since I know the recipe, I can make it any time I want.) It’s essentially brown sugar and water, with a bit of rice flour for consistency. Very sweet, very sticky, and very good – if you’re used to these kinds of flavors. It can be an acquired taste, though.

Have a great rest of the week! I hope there’s a yummy dessert in store for you this week.

Friday Reads: Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter

61-ysf6XIIL._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter
2016 Book Challenge: a book with non-human characters

by Beatrix Potter
narrated by Katherine Kellgren
(children’s fiction, classic fiction)

This was one of Audible’s “deal of the day” audiobooks, I think, which is what brought it to my attention. (I do hope that the purchase volume balances out the reduced cost, and they continue to do these. I’ve found some great books that I otherwise wouldn’t have listened to thanks to the daily advertising.) I’m pretty sure I’ve read some of these stories before, but not all of them. To clarify: I know I’ve read some. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read them all. I’m glad I listened to it this time – while I’m sad to have missed out on the illustrations, it was great to hear the songs actually sung. The best option, I feel, would be to listen to this with the book in front of you, so you can get the benefit of both the illustrations and the songs.

While this has always been billed as a children’s book, I do think it’s one that all adults should read (or at least “have read”) too. It’s fun picking out the type of animal from the descriptions, in the instances where Potter doesn’t specifically name them at the beginning. (As an example, “Tom Kitten” is obviously a cat. But “Mr. Todd” is left up for speculation for quite some time.)

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It has a good narration, too, so if you want to listen to it this is a good version to pick up.

Ten On Tuesday ~ Welcome!

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for Tuesday, May 10, 2016 is 10 Ways to Welcome Someone New To Your Neighborhood.
Have fun!

This is an oddly appropriate topic for today, since I’m writing this as we watch “My Neighbor Totoro”. Though, sadly, I haven’t done any real “welcoming” of new neighbors in a long time. So I guess this list comes with a disclaimer… though these are good ideas, I haven’t used them in too long.

  1. Just knock on the door and say hello!
  2. Bond over pool time (if you have a community pool, like in condo or apartment complexes).
  3. Flowers! Always bright and cheery.
  4. Bake them a dessert or a casserole. This is tricky these days, though, with so many more known food allergies than when I was a kid. (I’m sure the allergies were still there before, though some studies say in smaller concentrations. But we’re more aware of them than I remember when I was young.)
  5. Host (or attend) a neighborhood event. Some neighborhoods have BBQs or block parties. (Ours doesn’t, but I know that some still do.)
  6. Trick or treating! It’s a good excuse to visit neighbors once a year, at least.
  7. Caroling! Another good (once annually) excuse to go visit neighbors.
  8. . . .

And I’m out of ideas. Oh well. There’s still seven good ideas that I haven’t used in way too long, and I should try to make the tie to put those to use.

Friday Reads: An Artificial Night

cover_aanAn Artificial Night: October Daye #3
2016 Book Challenge: a book with magic

by Seanan McGuire
(urban fantasy)

This is the third book in the October Daye series, and I’m starting to have a harder time of classifying them for this challenge. Since they’re all (so far) set in the same place and with the same basic character set, they tend to fill the same categories as the ones before, and no new ones. So for this book, I’m using a category I had been saving for when a book didn’t fit anything else – “a book with magic”. That describes most of the books I read. Oh well. Maybe I’ll have to read more in this series without counting them towards the 2016 book challenge, unless I can come up with other categories where they fit.

Anyway, the book itself. Like the prior books, this one deals with Toby getting herself into trouble. And as usual, the trouble is not initially of her own making, but she causes it to be more trouble than it started out as. Parts of this book were rather predictable (unlike its predecessor which left me guessing a lot more), but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I loved getting to see more depth to the old characters, and getting to meet new characters too. It will be interesting to see how much of the new characters we get to see in future books.

Without getting too spoilery: the trouble in this book is that the leader of the Wild Hunt has kidnapped the children of some of Toby’s friends. They as her to bring the kids back, so off she goes, even though it’s into some nightmarish lands facing one of the most powerful fae alive. (No one is surprised. Even though she hasn’t yet admitted it, everyone else – from the reader to the characters sending her on the mission – know she’s a Hero with a capital H.)

One of my favorite parts about this novel is the way nursery rhymes are used. I didn’t know all of them (and I suspect some of them may have been made up, or at least modified, for the purposes of the story). Still, I love seeing how authors use things we take for granted as “normal” and turn them into something different and magical.

I will certainly be continuing this series. I love the character development and the plots of the books. My only complaint is that once I get about 1/3 of the way through, I have a VERY hard time putting the books down. Makes it hard to get back to work, since I do a lot of my reading on my lunch breaks at the office…

FO ~ Semele Shawl

Semele Shawl

I finished the shawl yesterday! (It hasn’t been blocked yet, but I think I’ll do that today.) Only a little longer than a year since I started it, and given the long time-out the shawl had, that’s not a bad amount of time for it.

After its time-out, I did end up ripping back to the center section and decreased the center repeats to one. I then was able to knit the rest of the second side of the shawl nearly to the end of the pattern without any problems – though I did have to cheat a bit at the very end and cut out the final leaf chart. It made things a bit creatively interesting, but since no amount of knitting faster was going to make my yarn last longer, that was the only other option. The casual viewer won’t know the difference, and I was at least able to finish the leaf repeat I was on and do a proper bind-off at the end. However, counting both the spare yarn at cast-on and the spare yarn at bind-off, I think I only have about 18 inches of un-knit yarn. EIGHTEEN INCHES. That was cutting it close, guys.

Semele Shawl

I’m really looking forward to when I can unpin this shawl and wear it. I love the look with the contrasting color beads.

Semele Shawl

Suzy is enjoying watching the shawl dry. Luckily, she’s not the type of cat who wants to be my blocking helper, and she doesn’t nap on blocking knitting. She does like to watch, though, and she will play with the yarn while I’m knitting it…

Semele Shawl