I will admit, it’s been a little hard to blog lately. Every time I open up the page, there’s Serge staring back at me – I miss him terribly, and it’s a little heartbreaking to look at him there in that picture. But also, it’s been everything else too. I’ve been really sad about what’s going on in the world this month, in a hard-to-bear-up kind of way. So in a proactive move toward self-preservation, I’ve decided that I cannot listen to the news for any kind of extended period anymore. I used to come into work in the morning and turn on NPR to keep me entertained while I pushed around the paperwork, but lately that only leads to soggy paperwork. I’m limiting that business to while I’m driving – which means half an hour a day at most.

Which, I think,  is helping. But more than the moratorium on news shows, so is the little stuff that just involves physical doing: getting on the yoga mat for twenty minutes every day, making things with my hands, cooking, cleaning all the things stuff. And trying new things. New things keep my head in the good-space game as much as the physicality of making stuff is soothing by dint of keeping my hands busy. So here’s what I’ve been up to:

For my birthday a couple weeks ago I was gifted with a bookstore gift certificate, so I went kinda hog wild in there – after grabbing some sweet sweet Ursula K LeGuin paperbacks* I headed over to the crafting section and pored over the needlework books. I picked one out for its lovely pictures, only to find out at home that the pictures weren’t terribly detailed, and some of the descriptions of stitches were off. Luckily, I am privileged with internet access, and so YouTube, and dude, I learned some really cool stuff! Look at this pretty thing:

It’s called a broomstick stitch,** and it’s crochet, but it also requires a knitting needle. A huge knitting needle – size 50! So basically, you make loops and hold them on the knitting needle, and then you go back at the end of the line and single crochet them together in groups. I’m kind of in love with this – so far I’ve made two Christmas gift scarves, and a smallish scarf for myself.*** I plan on making a few more for the Etsy shop in the coming weeks.

Also, over the weekend I got busy with bread. Last year (the year before, maybe?) I tried to make a challah, and was unimpressed with the recipe – there were, like, a dozen egg yolks in there, the dough gummed up my stand mixer in a terrifying way, and the finished product was meh with a side of dry. The only redeeming bit was that it made marvelous french toast after everything was said and done. So I’ve been hesitant to make another one. But then the cookbook showed up. Omigod, the cookbook. For Hanukkah, Will Dearest got me a copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook , and, seriously Sister, it’s ON.  Deb Perelman  is one of my all-time favorite bloggers, and I cook a lot from her website, so this book has me head over heels.
So there’s a recipe in it for fig-stuffed challah. Fig. Stuffed. She had me at “stuffed.” And at the part where there are only three eggs involved in the whole recipe. And the part where there were really good, illustrated instructions† on how to braid the loaf. It made me feel a little bit brave. Hello, Sunday baking project:

This happened in my kitchen! Even the braiding! \o/

I sat on the couch with Will Dearest and worked on a scarf while we watched reruns of the French Chef and waited for the oven timer to ding (ok, I haunted the oven a bit more than I sat on the couch). We cut into the loaf while it was still steamy, and agreed that it turned out pretty osm – even Man Cub, who can occasionally be suspicious of figs, really enjoyed it. You know your baked goods are the proverbial bomb when all three people tasting that business are moaning a little while they chew. So, um, yeh – I’ll be making this again at some point. I kind of have to – Jaquelyn and Syd (who got engaged last weekend! ZOMG HOW COOL!) are out of town for the weekend, and I feel the need to share this with them.

So, yes, it’s better. It is – I’m climbing out of the rut, and that feels good. I may even brave the craft store in a little bit to pick up some more yarn. I have some cooking and wrapping for the holidays left to do tonight, and prayer flags to hang this week in anticipation of the new year, thanks to a dear friend in the western part of the state. I have a list that I’m making to inventory the last year, and a companion list I’m working on with goals for the coming year. It’s going to be ok. For reals.

***

*I am a little in love with Earthsea. Just sayin’.
**Also called peacock stitch – I actually prefer that name, as it reminded me of a peacock feather as soon as I saw it.
***I ran out of yarn about two-thirds of the way through. It’s still really pretty, tho’, and I plan to wear it everywhere.
†Guess who’s a visual learner.

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