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May. 27th, 2010

elements of a lovely Thursday

1. Go and get a haircut. Then strike a pose.

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2. Bake a special treat for your D & D buddies tonight.

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My favorite things begin this way, with a bag full of groceries, including unsweetened baking chocolate.

Stir this:

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Until it becomes this:

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And then resist the urge to taste it, because no matter how many times you tell yourself that this is unsweetened chocolate and that it will be disgusting until you add some sugar to it, you may not be able to help yourself.

Mix up the rest of the batter.

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Then add some of these:

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And these:

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Then suddenly wish that there was no D & D tonight and that a treat was not promised, because you might want these bad boys all for yourself. Then snap out of it.

When they come out of the oven, they may look a little bit silly...

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But Joy the Baker's S'mores Brownies are sure to please any hungry half-orc who just lent you a large quantity of gold so that you could turn your longsword into a flaming longsword.

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Just sayin'. Perhaps normal people will like them, too, but that's not our intended audience.

Spend a few extra minutes watching Joy the Baker's new caramel pudding instructional video, and try to convince yourself that your girl-crush on her is perfectly normal and understandable.

3. Make yourself a healthy lunch to distract yourself from cooling brownies. (Also to make up for the fact that you may have licked the spatula and eaten a stray marshmallow.)

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4. Watch some Monk.

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Because Tony Shalhoub makes any great day even better.

5. Make more brownies. Because the boyfriend doesn't particularly care for marshmallows or D & D, and you don't want him to be left out.

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A lot of butter went down in this kitchen today.

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These are the Moosewood Fudge Brownies from everybody likes sandwiches, Dan's all-time favorite, jazzed up with some walnuts.

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6. Actually get some time to knit while the second batch of brownies bake and cool.

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This is the beginnings of my Que Sera.

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I'm deliberately making it in the smaller size that I could concievably wear, just for the incentive to meet and surpass my weight goal. It's lovely working with Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. I'm surprised I never picked it up for anything before.

7. Head out to D & D and kill some zombies and the like. Still waiting on that one, but I bet my new flaming longsword's going to get a workout before the end of the night.

May. 21st, 2010

oh dear, it's been a while

Apparently, I lost the ability to blog while I was going to school. This past semester I took Biology and Statistics, gathering up prerequisites for nursing school. I'll be continuing with Anatomy & Physiology I and Microbiology this summer, along with working as a home health CNA and working on 5TH CIRCLE's newest production, 1M1W, which we'll be premiering at the 2010 Boulder International Fringe Festival.

I know. I'm getting tired just reading about it.

But there's been a bit of fun stuff so far this summer, just to take the edge off. There have been quite a few culinary triumphs:

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Pecan Pancakes from scratch, with fresh fruit and maple syrup...

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And Strawberry Shortcake, for Dan on our anniversary, just to name a couple...

There has also been knitting, but never as much as I'd like.

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My TKGA Masters Course - Level 1 Submission. (Click on the link to see all the swatches in detail, if you've got Ravelry, that is.) This one was a long time coming, having ordered the package to start sometime in 2006 or 7. Once I got down to it, though, it was a pleasure, although some of the finicky-est knitting I've ever had to accomplish. Plus, I've only got a few things to redo when I resubmit, so that's pretty exciting. Hopefully that won't take me as many years.

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The Hiatus Hat, churned out when I was burned out on tiny swatches. It matches the orange embroidery in my favorite sweater perfectly.

And most recently, my scarf-sized Clapotis.

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This color is much more accurate in this second picture. And it's super-jumbo long, which I've never experienced before in scarves. This one will be fun in the wintertime. Now I just need a coat that fits me properly. I can't start thinking about that now, though, because then I'll start thinking about knitting one, and that's trouble.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to enjoy my tiny two-week break between spring and summer semester. Dan and I enjoyed a trip to the zoo on Wednesday, which was great fun.

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Dan had never seen an okapi before, and now I think they are his favorite animal, along with capybaras and tapirs.

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This was actually the first time that I had ever been to the Denver Zoo in the daylight. We'd only ever been for Zoo Lights in December, which is actually a ton of fun. The first time we went was the first Christmas that we ever spent together. The second time was the time that Dan surprised me and proposed on the carousel. We've been together for four years this month, and I'm glad that we have a spot in Denver that holds such happy memories.

Other than all that, I refinished some chairs today for 1M1W.

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Quite the topic shift, eh? There was no real way to get out of the sappy story without just ending the entry right there.

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These were chairs from Starbucks that I got at the Goodwill, sanded, repainted, and sealed.

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I think they'll be lovely for the show. Now I just need to find the rest of the set. Anyone have any modular shelving units that they don't want anymore? 5TH CIRCLE would love to take them off your hands!

Now that I'm still covered in sawdust, white paint, and clear gloss overspray (how can you tell if you still have clear spray paint on you?), I'm going to jump in the shower so that I can get ready for my CNA appointments tonight. Hopefully it won't be six months until I post again. And for those of you who read all the way down, good job! If I had some gold star stickers, I'd hand them out accordingly.

Jan. 7th, 2010

a new year in knitting

Here's one of those year-end wrap-ups that everyone does, but I've never done one before, so just indulge me for a minute. Here's everything that I finished this year (a knitting year cut short by not being able to knit during the early months due to enforced bed rest and much twitching of the fingers). There are a few things here that didn't make it to the blog before, so enjoy!

ee 090 gg 042 2009-06-20 077 2009-06-20 060
2009-06-20 016 2009-06-20 026 2009-09-06 015 2009-09-07 048
2009-09-26 081 2009-09-26 055 2009-10-24 037 2009-10-26 031
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1. Candy Striping
2. Terra Cotta Pomatomus
3. Monteagle Bag
4. Swifty
5. Ballband Dishcloth
6. Mitered Hanging Towels
7. Dale of Norway sweater
8. One Day Earflap Hat
9. Cranberry Cowl Scarflette
10. Stricken
11. Sally
12. Shifting Sands
13. Brighton
14. Moderne Log Cabin Blanket
15. Christmas Stockings - 2009 - Alexis & Tobias
16. One Row Handspun Scarf
17. Quite an Indulgent Cozy
18. Hemlock Ring Blanket
19. Dan's Sam Socks
20. Juggling Balls

Man, that's a lot of links. It was a good year for knitting, especially near the end with my handmade Christmas roundup. However, it's time to focus on a new year, and new projects, starting with my new Herbivore.

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Oh, and I got a haircut.

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Delicious silky texture from Sundara Fingering Silky Merino. It's light and soft and luscious.

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I'm excited to wear this one out as soon as it gets a touch warmer outside. Doesn't look like the Colorado weather is ready for that quite yet.

Dec. 29th, 2009

Christmas wrap-up

So we already saw Mom's Brighton bag, Dad's Shifting Sands scarf, and Dan's Sam Socks, so here's the wrap-up on the other holiday knitting that went on this year.

First up, Alexis and Tobias's Christmas Stockings.

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These were a wonderfully simple project, from the book Christmas Stockings from Interweave Press (unfortunately, I think it's out of print now).

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Easily customizable!

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Dan and I filled these up with tons of fun stocking stuffers.

Next up, my brother's One Row Handspun Scarf.

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What a lovely surprise this one was. Made of super cuddly Manos del Uruguay, and the stitch pattern just brought out the color changes beautifully.

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The scarf is about 6' long, too. Lots of scarf to loop up and around and look snazzy on the outside of a new black winter coat. Sorry about my crazy hair. It was a frizzy day.

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Next, the finished state of Dan's Juggling Balls.

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It turns out that Bowie enjoys juggling. Or at least watching it and attempting to catch the balls in midair, if possible.

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Dan loves them, and he practices everyday now, trying to figure out the four-ball pattern.

Whew, almost done now. Two more to go...

This next one wasn't a present for anyone, just something nice for our apartment. The Hemlock Ring Blanket.

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A relatively unflattering picture of the blanket blocking, but look at all that texture and detail in there!

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Oh dear.

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There's just something about back-lit lace in the sunlight.

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There are those projects sometimes that you just can't believe you made. The blanket and this next one are definitely part of that group.

I had previously posted pictures of a client's Dale of Norway sweater that I was finishing for her. After all that knitting was done, we had to cut that sucker open so I could sew in the sleeves and zipper.

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No matter how many seams you sew or how much pre-planning you do, cutting open a steek makes you hold your breath.

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And then it does exactly what it's supposed to do. And you are relieved.

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I didn't get full pictures of the finished sweater with the zipper and everything because I was right up against the deadline on this one. But, oh man, was I proud of the work that I did here. It almost makes me want to make one for myself. Almost. Getting paid for it definitely helps you muscle through the steeking.

And there we go. Holiday knitting of 2009. I'm still tired just looking at all of it. I've got a few little things in the works for myself right now, but it's all quite slow-going and lazy just to reset a little bit. Hope that everyone else had a lovely handmade Christmas!

Dec. 7th, 2009

fun winter times

If there's something that Colorado's good for, it's fun times in the wintertime.

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Iceskating's definitely part of it. Even though I wasn't a participant this time, I had a great time photographing my lovely friends as they flew around the ice.

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Gift giving is another great deal of fun. This year, I made as many Christmas presents as I could, and I sent my parents and brother their presents today.

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It was fun to create the customized information for each project (just to make sure no washing accidents occur, of course).

Part of my handmade mission includes both of Dan's gifts for his birthday and Christmas. I already showed the juggling balls for the birthday gift, and I'm almost all finished up with those. The Christmas present is the real special project though. My favorite thing so far.

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These are Cookie A's Sam Socks, and I figured that they'd be perfect for Dan. He had his eye on this skein of Sundara sock yarn since it came into the house, and it worked out perfectly.

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Lots of fiddly detail and complex charts (just the way I like it!), but not enough silliness so that there's fit issues or non-manliness radiating from these socks.

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There's one more present to be made, and then I'll be all done with this massive project. I feel quite accomplished already.

Nov. 14th, 2009

Christmas sneak peeks!

What do you do when you are still unemployed and basically just filling out another job application every morning and then sitting around waiting to hear back and there's nothing else to do around the house and you're not in the mood to make a cake and it's really gray and cold and possibly snowing outside?

You decide that you are going to knit something for everyone for Christmas this year.

And then you are going to take some Advil because your fingers are cramping.

I already blogged about my presents for my mom and dad so far, so here's the rest:

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Juggling Balls for Dan! I'm actually a whole lot further on this than the picture would have you believe. He already knows that these are on deck for his present (possibly his birthday present instead if I get them finished fast enough), so I need to get a good surprise gift for him to go along with these. Any suggestions? (Oh, and I made him five juggling balls because...well because he asked for four, and I figured that he was setting his sights too low.)

These next two won't have any descriptions or recipients named because all three of the people that they are intended for (one is a double-project sort of thing) have looked at this blog in the past, and I don't want to ruin the surprise.

Just sneak peeks:

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Mmmm, yummy texture.

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And something a bit more traditional. If you want to cheat, go look at my Flickr stream. Oh, who am I kidding? Nobody reads this thing anyway! The secrecy is all for my own amusement here.

Nov. 3rd, 2009

serious business

The big news is this: I passed my CNA certification test on Monday morning! I drove straight home, and then Amanda and I celebrated by making Monkey Bread (recipe from Martha Stewart via The Food Librarian).

Get prepared for me typing the word "balls" a lot. And then imagine me giggling immaturely every time. Because that's just how it is.

Here's Amanda dipping balls.

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(It's blurry because it's full of action!)

Then, we piled all the balls in the Bundt.

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Then while the balls were rising, some knitting may have taken place.

First, I had to wind up a ball of Cascade Ecological Wool.

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It barely fit in my bowl!

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Here's the beginnings of my Hemlock Ring Blanket, designed by the ever-fabulous Brooklyn Tweed (aka Jared Flood).

After the balls were fully risen...

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...we put them in the oven, and they became this...

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...this lovely sticky caramelly sticky gooey wonderful thing that may have had large portions removed and eaten before it was fully cooled.

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How could you blame us?

I had pictures of us eating said balls, but they were quite unflattering, and I'd like Amanda to continue being my friend.

It was a lovely celebration to end a lovely day.

Oct. 31st, 2009

snow days

What do you do when it dumps two feet of snow in less than 36 hours? You spend your time finishing up knitting projects and baking, of course.

First up...Sally.

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This is a part of my ongoing process to finally have a Sally Stitches costume. I'm one step closer this year, but not quite there. Dan and I ran out of time and supplies, so our Nightmare Before Christmas costumes will have to wait yet another year.

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This is based on a ridiculously funny Knitty.com pattern called Hallowig. I made a few modifications, of course, lengthening the back, shortening the bangs, and then "killing" the acrylic in the back. This involves quick hands and a very hot steam iron. Since the acrylic starts to melt whenever heat is near, you just press it quickly and end up with stretched-out ribbing that better resembles the flow of Sally's hair.

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Maybe next year I'll even get to wear it out in public.

Next up, Shifting Sands.

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This fabulous pattern from the equally fabulous Grumperina was the perfect pairing for the Dream in Color Classy that I picked up for my Dad's Christmas present.

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He's really picky about color and usefulness, so after extensive searching, I think that this fits the bill.

I also finished my Christmas present for my mom, Brighton.

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Even the purse handles that you can pick up at Jo-Ann's have class when you add them to lacy linen and crisp ivory lining.

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Oh so fiddly and wonderful. Sewing is definitely not my thing, but I gained a bit of confidence on this one.

Let's do a baked good just to break this up a bit. Yesterday, I made the Pumpkin & Chocolate Layer Cake from Baking Bites.

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And underneath all that Maple Cream Cheese Frosting...this:

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Delish. It was a big hit at D&D last night, and an even better hit with me again this morning when I had another slice for breakfast.

And for my snow days finale, I finally completed the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting.

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It's been almost two years. And approximately eighteen million miles of garter stitch.

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It actually seems really small to me now because it seemed so never-ending on the needles.

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I'm so glad to have this for when the rest of the winter falls down around us.

Other than that, my CNA Certification test is on Monday, so wish me luck!

Sep. 26th, 2009

busy week

So I had a little dessert and wine party last Sunday to celebrate Dan and I's new apartment, plus the beginning of my CNA training.

There was quite a bit of baking involved, most of it specialized for everyone's dietary restrictions, which was actually kind of fun to figure out.

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Vegan Cookies 'n' Cream Cupcakes. Oh dear. These were definitely the winners of the night. I'd make them every week if I could. Dan even gave them his stamp of approval by having 4 of them, even though he's not big into the vegan thing.

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Gluten-Free and Vegan Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with powdered sugar in my haphazard patterns...both of these cupcake recipes are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

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Then, S'mores Brownies from Joy the Baker. Let's get a better look at these, shall we?

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Gooey marshmallows, fudgy brownies, graham cracker cinnamony-ness. These were my favorite, hands-down.

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Caramels from the Betty Crocker cookbook. Easier than I thought, but still required two separate tries to make them. First time...caramel-flavored hard candy that I'm still trying to get out of the pan.

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Here's my little party table, complete with labels for everyone. You can see my Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble from everybody likes sandwiches in there. I couldn't get a good shot of it since it was ready after the sun went down, but it was tasty, especially with melty vanilla ice cream. First time eating rhubarb, too, so I think that I did pretty good.

I'll spare the pictures of my guests because I'd like them to still like me. No one looks good with a flash in a really dark apartment.

Other than that, I've been finishing up projects and going to CNA training everyday. The classes are 9-5 every single day, and I have to drive about 1 hour to get there. It's hard and it's a ton of work, but it's worth it. I'll have more to say about it when I'm done with my clinicals, I'm sure. Right now I'm still kind of overwhelmed.

So instead of that - pretty things!

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My Cranberry Cowl Scarflette was supposed to just be a neckwarmer-type-thing, but the ball band on that handspun silk lied to me.

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The yarn, though, made for a lovely knitting experience. It's soft and crunchy at the same time. I finished this a while ago, but I think that the Foofaraw shawl pin ties it all together.

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Then, the Stricken socks.

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Oh baby. This one was a real challenge, but it was worth it. I wouldn't do this with handspun again because it was just too irregular for something so convoluted, but oh man...I'm still in love with Cookie A. sock patterns, and I always will be.

Sep. 11th, 2009

Why didn't anybody tell me that bread was so cool?

Seriously. I made focaccia.

I know! It's crazy.

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First, there was dough.

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And then it rose. For about an hour and a half.

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Then, there were two dough balls...

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Which became dough discs...

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Which suspiciously started looking like bread before they went into the oven.

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And then this came out!

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It has holes in it and everything! Like when you buy bread!

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I limited myself to only two pieces. But the whole apartment still smells like deliciousness, so we'll see how long that lasts. (It's the Easy Rosemary Focaccia from A Year in Bread, by the by).

I also kept working on Angel's Stricken socks.

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(more Stricken details on my Ravelry page.)

Being stuck at home all day isn't so bad with fresh-baked bread and handknit socks. I'll bet I just jinxed myself with that one.

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