Friday, December 27, 2013

Argggh! What's This?

I'm getting ready to start a new color block, and notice one thread bubbling up like it doesn't have any tension on it. Normally a broken thread is no big deal, but as I go to the back of the loom to see where it broke, I find a whole section that looks like it's been cut!! OMG! It was hidden under the separating paper, which was probably the only reason it didn't show up sooner.

Now what? Generally when you have a broken warp thread it is a simple matter to tie in a new one and hide the ends. But I've never had this many stop at the same place. This is going to be a pain in the "you know what"! Somehow I'm going to have to stagger the new ends without the overlaps being too close together or they'll show on the surface of the fabric. I'm crushed. I'm already about 1-1/2 yards into the project, and really don't want to have to cut it off and start again. So I guess I'll muddle on, crossing my fingers that I can get past the break and that there aren't any more surprises waiting for me in the next 5-1/2 yards!!

But the bigger question is how the threads were cut in the first place...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Granny's Peanut Brittle

Every Christmas, for as long as I can remember, my grandmother made all the men in our family their own batch of peanut brittle. And as we all got married, that turned into a LOT of peanut brittle. The first Christmas after she had to move to assisted living, my husband commented on how much he was going to miss that peanut brittle. So I got her "special" recipe and made it for him. A few years later, I was comparing her recipe to the one on the back of the peanut bag. OMG! They stole my grandmother's recipe! I'm sure it was the other way around, but my mom and I had a good laugh over it.

Now I make the peanut brittle for James and Chris, and this year have added my gem of a son-in-law, Shaun. Since several people have asked how to make it, I'll share the recipe with you. I slightly changed it to make measuring easier (no one I know has a 1/3 tsp measure). Before starting, measure all ingredients and have them ready to use. Silicone is the peanut brittle maker's best friend! I use a silicone spatula for cooking, and two buttered silicone baking sheets to pour the peanut brittle onto. Makes it really easy to pick up. Traditionally, my grandmother, mom, and I all had big wooden bread boards that had been seasoned really well, which were used when pouring out the molten brittle. Most of the time this worked fine, but occasionally you'd get a batch that stuck to the board and that was NOT fun! I also use a candy thermometer so that I get really consistent results.

Sophie's Peanut Brittle

2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup white Karo (do not use generic brands if they list water in the ingredients)
2 cups raw peanuts
2 Tbl butter
1-1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring to a boil sugar, water, and Karo. When the mixture reaches 280º add the peanuts. Stir constantly until mixture turns amber (about 305º to 310º).
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Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted. Add soda and salt, stirring briefly until creamy. Immediately turn out onto prepared surface.
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Use silicone spatula to spread mixture to thickness of single peanut, and allow to cool.
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Once cool, break into pieces and place in foil-lined tin. I don't know why it has to be foil, but that's the way Gran did it so I do too.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

One door closes...Another opens.

I've been planning my retirement for too many years to count, and finally that day has arrived. A long time ago I imagined it would be a special day, filled with fireworks and festivities to herald a new beginning. What I've found is the reality of a quiet transition to a new phase of my life. The day began and ended with the same exasperating drive to and from work. And in between, I saw the same patients that I do every day. They were so sweet and encouraging, as they are at that point in their lives that they know the importance on living each day to it's fullest. Spend time with those you love, doing what you love, because we never know how many days we have to take advantage.

When I changed careers ten years ago, I never would have imagined how many special people I would meet and get to know, and how much I would learn from each of them. I was granted an opportunity to give of myself, but received so much more. I learned what is important, and what to let fall away. The experience prepared me in so many ways to make the most of this new journey.

Now I'm taking that scary leap into the next phase of my life. There are so many things I still have left to accomplish, and I hope I'm blessed with the time to make them happen. I'm so looking forward to being able to spend more time with family. Not necessarily in flamboyant ways, but to cherish those everyday moments that I felt like I missed with the phrase, "Sorry, but I have to work." It's time to give back to family and friends for supporting me and understanding when I was giving to others.

So stay tuned. One of my goals is to blog once a week. Not that anyone really reads it, but I enjoy so much being able to go back and revisit projects and experiences. I'm going to have to learn now how to balance knitting, spinning, and weaving with housework and family. I have really missed having a clutter-free home, so that's going to be the first project to tackle! That and completing my current weaving project that has a fast approaching due date!