Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A book and a bar of chocolate

I've concocted another (very small) idea for a simple handmade Christmas gift - more on that in a few days, if it works out - but also I have been planning for the simplest gifts of all: a really good book, and a bar of chocolate.

This is probably not everybody's idea of a good gift but to me a book is either escapist or educational, and either way it lifts you out of your life and gives you a look at something more.  A vacation, in other words.   And a vacation is a pretty amazing gift.

Also: chocolate.  Jan would beg to differ as she simply does not eat chocolate, ever, but she loves my handknit socks so we won't hold that against her.  Small amounts of really good chocolate can stand alone as a gift or sweeten up something that's boring to wrap, like the eternally dull but often useful gift card.


Gift cards are really the gift bag of presents, aren't they?  No imagination, time, or effort needed, just the card, or the bag and some tissue.  And I'm not criticizing, because I use these solutions all the time. I mean honestly, nobody has enough time in the year to make and wrap a lot of presents, and not all the people you give gifts to will welcome the kinds of things you can make by hand.  (horrible thought!)

I think even Ray and Al, who are currently sealing up all the massive new windows in our house with plastic because we aren't likely to get windows till the end of January and hello, we are in Canada, would not wear a handknit hat or handwarmers while they are working in the literal icebox that will be our house.

So: you have to have other ideas, and sometimes time runs short, and in preparation for that inevitable outcome I have been testing bars of chocolate.  Ahem.

Lindt bars are available even in drugstores, but Green and Black's Organic is pretty easy to find too, and it's a tasty chocolate that looks special.  I especially enjoy the sea salt version.  And I think the very dark chocolate they do is the nicest of the ultra-dark ones I've tried.

Another Digression:

The other day Pete and I were in the drugstore buying Vicks Vap-o-rub, which is a staple of our winter medicine cabinet because colds happen, and it suddenly struck him that he uses the phrase Candy Bar. (as in, Is it bad that I want to buy a candy bar at 9pm with this Vicks Vap-o-rub?)  He felt that, as a Canadian, he should be saying Chocolate Bar.  I feel that Candy Bar is quicker to say and the less mileage between me and dessert, the better, but before I could share this valuable insight the woman ahead of us in line agreed that Candy Bar is American, and Chocolate Bar is Canadian.  This got me thinking about what I called chocolate when I lived in England.  Bar of Chocolate, I think.  or Choccies, as in Choccie Biccies (which I have spelled wrong I'm sure, but refers to chocolate topped digestive biscuits.)

I have no idea whether Candy Bar has a nationality.  Any way you say it, though: chocolate is delicious.  Unless, as I've mentioned, you happen to be Jan.

Meanwhile, I cast on Julia's not-Christmas socks.  I have been working hard on Wayson's socks, but I missed the feeling of the wool-mohair blend in my hands, especially since I've been wearing my own socks from this yarn all the time now that the weather is colder.

What do you think of these colours together?  Do they contrast enough, or look too weird?  I can't really tell.  And I guess it doesn't matter, because these two colours are the only yarn I still have in this weight, plus a tiny bit of pink I'm going to use for one contrast round at some point.

I must say it's very satisfying to be knitting in December, even though I'm not aiming to have either pair of socks completed for Christmas as such - at least, not for Wayson or Julia.  If you do it right, knitting is kind of a gift you give yourself, in time spent sitting, being productive, being creative, and feeling something good in your hands.

Speaking of gifts you give yourself, back in early October I bought myself a really expensive cashmere sweater.  At what Pete refers to as a good price: full.  I did this because the colour is amazing, the cashmere felt amazing (you know, sometimes it's still scratchy in spite of being cashmere), and the fit looked amazing.  So often cashmere sweaters have a cuff at the bottom, but not this one, which is swingy and long.  I loved it every time I went into the store where I'd found it, and one day, there was only one left, and it was my size.

One Last Digression:

If you're petite, it makes sense to handknit your sweaters because you get the cost advantage of less yarn.  If you are wearing a larger size, the advantage goes to store-bought, because all sizes cost the same.  Remember that if you wear a larger size and want to justify a ludicrously expensive sweater purchase.

... and back to my story.  Well, after I bought the sweater - which turns out to be so fragile I can't sling a purse over my shoulder with it on, let alone wear a cross-body bag - I also stopped eating sugar (I know this post is technically about testing Christmas chocolate, but work with me here) and I lost weight.  Enough to be noticeable.  Now the flattering cashmere sweater looks a giant cashmere bag.

So I'm wearing it around the house as my at-home sweater.  And you know what?  it makes an AWESOME sweatshirt.  It is so, so comfy and soft, and every time I put it on I remind myself what it cost and tell myself I am worth every penny.  Because sometimes those reminders need to come from you, especially when you drop an insane amount of money on something you can't really wear in public.

(but trust me, you are totally worth every penny too.)

One last thing for today - an apology for STILL not writing a post here every weekday.  I can't believe I missed posting yesterday because I had something all ready to show you... the day got crazy busy and by evening I was so exhausted I just had to head to bed.

Remember when I used to write something every weekday, and publish at about 6am? I know some readers started their day with a Hugs post, sometimes even on their smartphones before they got out from under the covers. It was so special to me to know that my words were worth waking up to, especially since my own wakeup words are muttery and unencouraging.

I feel badly every day I don't get back to that, and it's been a year now of intermittent messages so that is a lot of bleah.  But I am working on it, and very grateful for your patience!


Pauline said...

I'm grateful my patience is rewarded by you.

Mary Keenan said...

Oh Pauline, that made my day :^)

Laurinda said...

Oh yes, getting posts from you 6 days a week was awesome! But I understand life getting busy (I hate that, too) & will wait semi patiently.
I love the colors together, btw. I've been cranking out fingerless mitts for xmas this year, because I'm still unemployed, & it's really been lovely! Mostly mindless knitting, with wonderful wool

Mary Keenan said...

Laurinda I am so with you about mindless knitting with wonderful yarn... those socks for Julia are keeping me so happy. Last night my friend's flight was grounded because of fog so he stayed over with us, and we spent over an hour looking at the kitchen for the new house and figuring out how to make it work - WHILE I KNIT THEM. It was heaven! The colours are coming together beautifully and I had a huge inspiration about the kitchen that I think resolves all our issues with it. First plan we've had that Pete actually loves, and we've been working on it for over a year, yikes. I thank the socks :^)