life

So did 2018 happen or...?

My “holy crap I’ve lost my mind and went rogue with pink, purple, and unicorns” Christmas tree.

My “holy crap I’ve lost my mind and went rogue with pink, purple, and unicorns” Christmas tree.

It’s about two months shy of a full year since my last blog update. Some of you might be wondering what happened to me - I’m asking myself the same thing. 2018 blew by and it was… pretty terrible. I won’t get into the details here because I’m not that type of person but my close friends and family will know why.

Anyway, the holidays are legit right around the corner, which breeds a whole lot of stress while also providing valuable downtime for me to reflect on the past 365 days and how much I did (or didn’t) accomplish.

For example, something that’s bugging me is the fact I barely touched my yarn. If my stash was going to outlast my life expectancy before, it’s just dominating my life and (in)sanity now. I didn’t add much to it, at least, with the exception of some must-haves, like The Cozy Knitter’s 24-stripe advent skein.

I also had grand plans to craft Christmas gifts for everyone this year but I’m plain old not in the mood - for either crafting or decorating. I went rogue with my Christmas tree and minimalist on the tchotchkes. With any luck, I’ll be moving out by April and I don’t feel like dealing with constantly revamping my house for the seasons. Maybe I’m old and jaded, which… fine. I embrace it at this point.

Dot mandalas have consumed my soul (or what was left of us)

Dot mandalas have consumed my soul (or what was left of us)

I started painting dot mandalas earlier this month, though, and that’s been a relaxing project during a season designed to make you rip your hair out with unattainable expectations. I’m an art major and haven’t touched any of my supplies in years because who has the time to indulge in activities that don’t generate money these days? So I’m glad I’m at least looking at my paint again.

What else have I been doing? I took a little working vacation to England for two weeks and had a blast. I’ve been knitting on my Hue Shift Afghan, albeit slowly. I’ve started a million pairs of socks that remain half-finished because I have no attention span. I’ve been cleaning and organizing my house to make things livable while I come up for air after my basement flooding over the summer (and destroying half my living space so I’m feeling claustrophobic, to say the least). I’m going to the Women’s March in DC with girlfriends of mine from a news group I’ve joined and I’m really looking forward to that. At the urging of my friends, I’m also about to dabble in the joy of solo travel, starting with Nashville over President’s Day weekend.

One pair of Halloween socks I started (but never finished) knitting in The Cozy Knitter’s “Haunted” colorway.

One pair of Halloween socks I started (but never finished) knitting in The Cozy Knitter’s “Haunted” colorway.

Oh, and I booked a shawl knitting class with the incomparable Stephen West when he visits one of my LYSes, Conversational Threads, in February. I feel like that’s probably the most relevant topic I’ve rambled about so far and I almost forgot about it. That tells you where my brain is right now.

Really, I’m just trying to get my life back - harder than you’d think but I’m a lucky gal who has the best people around to support me. Every time I think this year almost killed me, I have enough photos and “stupid quotes” documented on Facebook to help me feel like there’s a reason I’m here and I’m loved. And anyone who tries to knock me down can take a hike. I’ve spent the better part of five years being told I’m useless and you know what? Fine. I took that negativity, focused on my career, and became successful (go ahead and google me) so, ya know, silver linings and all that. But I’m too old to evaluate my self worth on a daily basis so if you’re just here to waste my time or cause drama, feel free to go pound sand.

On that note, I suppose I should finish up what’s left of my craft projects before Christmas and wrap up work for my highly anticipated week off. Tomorrow night brings ugly sweaters and beer back into my life and I plan to indulge for the next 10 days - don’t @ me!

So I've started baking artisan bread...

You might be confused as to what a post about my baking of artisan bread is doing on this blog. Well, it's partially because I first heard of it on a knitting podcast you probably watch, and partially because I feel like it. It's my blog, after all!

A couple weeks ago, I was catching up on the Stitched in Sweden podcast while working on one of my KAL projects (note: Stitched in Sweden is one of my favorite podcasts because Maria's colorwork is amazing!)

In that particular episode, Maria had mentioned how her bread baking was going. She had purchased a book called The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and said their methods had been working well. I had no idea what she was talking about, but the idea sounded interesting. Well, as interesting as can be to someone who's never attempted to make bread outside of an electric bread maker before. And that was when I was 10. With my parents.

Anyway, toward the end of the episode, she showed off her latest loaf and, after wiping drool from my face, I knew I needed to buy this book.

I don't know what possessed me other than I needed something to focus that's not the failure that is my life. And I enjoy baking. Which I guess is a good reason. Plus, carbs.

So after ordering and receiving the book, I made my way to the grocery store and bought the meager amount of ingredients needed to make a simple loaf. That's another reason this whole artisan bread thing was attractive to me: the math evens out to approximately 50 cents per loaf for not much of a time investment.

What makes this method different? Well, I really wouldn't know, considering I'd never tried baking bread before. But supposedly it's the fact you mix up a huge batch of dough and let it sit in your fridge for up to two weeks. The dough is extra wet, which helps it "keep" for long periods of time and eliminates the need for kneading (see what I did there?). You also don't need a starter - the dough automatically generates a sourdough taste the longer it hangs out in your fridge. I can attest to that, having now made my way through the entire first batch and noticing a better taste each time.

Really, I thought it would be more difficult or involved. It wasn't. I mean, there are plenty of things you can add for a more intricate or flavorful recipe, but let's face it: it's better if I start at the beginning and learn the basics as opposed to diving in head first. Otherwise, there's a solid chance I'd burn my house down.

I'm two weeks into the artisan bread lifestyle now and I have to say it's been pretty successful; I'm weirdly proud of myself. Not that it matters a heck of a lot as I'm about to start a 21-day sugar detox, but for the time being, I'm enjoying a house that smells like a bakery and feeling a wee bit like an old-school tradesman. You know, sometimes it's nice to do things "the hard way" again. Which I suppose is why we all love knitting so much, right?