I just had a four and a half day weekend, and not much happened and it was fantastic. In fact, I barely left the house, and when I did, it was purely on foot, with Winston, to walk through the frosty meadow in the middle of our little valley. I didn't drive anywhere once I got home Friday afternoon. I made sure to run all my errands, and did lots of grocery shopping on Friday so we were well provisioned. Saturday was an official pajama day, so I made a hearty breakfast of bacon, potatoes, and eggs, and then a good, warm pot of soup for dinner (sausage and kale, a favorite around here). There was a nap and a lot of knitting while sitting on the couch watching Netflix. I might have accidentally cast on three new projects, as well as working on that one existing one, but I will save all that for another post. They are all pretty quick projects and one is almost done, so I don't feel bad.
Sunday morning, we woke up to the sound of the snow plows scraping the street. Finally, we had our first snow storm of the season! It came down heavily all morning, so we decided it would be wise to stay put, and there was still soup to eat, and I also discovered that Downton Abbey was available to watch instantly on Netflix. Have you seen it? Why did they leave us hanging like that? I was happy to read that there will be a second season. If you love a good BBC costume drama, and you haven't seen it, watch it soon, so good!
So, with all this free time, I spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday in my little house studio doing some general cleaning up, but also a little sewing. I've been keeping all my DPNs collected together in a little ceramic pot, which looks really cute, but is super annoying when I actually want to use a set, and have to shuffle through and find a whole set in the same size. So I made a case that I can easily tuck into my knitting bag, and now I will always have the right size needles as soon as I need them.
The new case is the one on the left. On the right is my much-loved case for regular needles from Yvonne from one of our annual Christmas swaps ages ago. And underneath is a binder with page protectors where I keep all of my recently-organized circular needles. Cute, right? Let me tell you about all the things I did wrong with my cute, new case. I should have made some sort of flap to go over the needles, because now, if you turn it upside down, they all fall out. I sewed a piece of ribbon on both short edges, which means that when it's rolled up, one is uselessly rolled up inside.
I didn't do the best job on my little labels. They're just scrap fabric, with the numbers stamped on. I cut them out rather unevenly, but they are just tacked in place with a tiny bit of fabric glue, so I'm thinking I might remove them and stamp the numbers directly onto the polka dot fabric. Ah well, I can just make sure to store it upright, and the one ribbon is long enough to wrap all the way around to keep it closed, and the number labels are still kind of appealing in their wonkiness. Not every project can come out perfect, and sometimes I can just be happy with 'good enough,' and I really like my new little case, despite it's shortcomings resulting from my inability to think it all through before I sewed it. And it turns out that I have four sets of size 7 needles and no eights or nines.
Project number two was to make a batch of marmalade, which is one of Mr. Heylucy's favorite things ever, apparently. I didn't realize he liked it so much, but when I brought home a bag full of citrus on Friday, and told him my plan, he asked me multiple times every day when I was going to make the marmalade. I was greatly inspired by this post from Putting up with the Turnbulls. Heart-shaped bits of peel? Yes, please! I had some organic Meyer Lemons and some mandarins, so I went to work. My heart cutter wasn't quite as cute, but it was just as tiny and blister-inducing, but totally worth the effort.
So I set to cutting and cooking. I didn't add the cinnamon hearts, I just wanted to do a simple marmalade for my first time. I cooked and cooked and tested to see if it was set. I checked the internet and read that it would set once it reached 220 degrees, so I got out my candy thermometer and watched the tempurature carefully. The recommended 30 minutes passed. I waited another 15 minutes, and still, we were only at 210 degrees. Another ten minutes, and it crept up to 216. Then it started looking a little too golden, and then it was sticking to the pan. Oh no! I stopped immediately, and got it into the jars, and then I processed them to seal. I had been licking spoons and tasting regularly and it was really, really delicious. I made myself some toast this morning, and eagerly opened a jar. Not only had it set, it was set more than any other jam or marmalade I had ever had. I could scoop it out with my knife, but it was kind of hard to spread so I just made due with a few evenly spaced chunks. So, another not-quite-a-success. It does taste delicious, but I obviously need more preserving practice. I think my thermometer is not quite accurate, it's the same one I used to make three batches of caramel, and the first two batches didn't work either. I also wonder if the tempurature thing has to do with our altitude at all. I know water boils at a lower tempurature, so maybe I'll try cooking it to 210 or so next time. I will keep experimenting and figure this out! So it was another failure, but a delicious one, and I will keep trying.