Another Christmas Come and Gone

Gifts laid out full

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. Ours here at Magpie Making Do was crazy and chaotic as always. My status as musical sell sword had me running to and fro all Christmas Eve, and the usual family engagements kept me busy for the rest of the time. I didn’t even get a chance to exchange gifts with the boyfriend until the 27th! He loved his gifts (or so he says) – I gave him a set of Knitpicks Harmony Interchangeables (yes, he knits!) and a few other things he had requested including slippers and a pair of Penn State PJ pants.

Pen and Ink

But I have to admit, he outdid me quite a bit this year. He got me a Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen (a flex pen, no less), a bottle of ink, a compilation of a few of my favorite movies that I had been wanting on DVD for forever, and… wait for it… a dress form. I couldn’t believe it. I’m super excited to try it out come the new year.

Dress Form

In general I’m super lucky to have family and friends who know and “get” me like they do. I got so many gifts this year that I love and that show such a clear understanding of who I am. I just hope I managed to do half as well with my gift choices for them.

This year we did change the gift exchanges up a little bit for the sake of finances. My brother and I being the only “kids” in the area on both sides, we used to exchange with the entirety of both sides of my family. Everyone bought for everyone. But this year, with me in a more expensive apartment without extra income and my brother poised to graduate from school in May to embark on his career as a professional freelance musician, my mom’s side of the family (the biggest) decided to switch to a “secret santa” type exchange in order to take some of the financial pressure off of us youngins. It worked out well – we rigged it so that immediate family wouldn’t get each other. And then of course I still exchanged with my parents, my brother, and my aunt and grandmother on my Dad’s side.

recipe journal and books

You can see some highlights of what I received in the pictures here. As for giving, I didn’t do much hand-making of gifts this year due to lack of time. I spent most of my energies working on an afghan for my mom, who has had a rather hard year. Photos of that to come next time I’m at my parent’s house with my camera – I was still finishing it up at the last minute and didn’t grab any photos before having to wrap it.

Yarn and Monarchy

What about you all? Get or give anything good for Christmas?

– Magpie

Knitpicks Cyber Monday Haul

Knitpicks yarn

The last thing I need is more yarn. But I just simply cannot resist Knitpicks’ Annual Big Sale the Monday after Thanksgiving. Last year I got a great deal on a set of Harmony Wood Interchangeable Circular Needles for my Mom for Christmas. This year, I did a bit of shopping for myself – they didn’t have any spectacular sales on needles this year, just yarn.

But ohhhh, the yarn.

In the grand scheme of things, I didn’t buy much. I know plenty of knitters would scoff at my measly purchase of 6 skeins. But let’s face it. It’s not often that I have the capital to splurge on myself anymore, and to come out of a purchase with six skeins? When I only have an extra $20 to spare? I kind of couldn’t let that pass me by.

And so, for a mere $20 I came out of the deal with three skeins of Palette in Indigo Heather, and three skeins of Stroll Hand Painted Sock Yarn in two colors which they were discontinuing – one skein of Legwarmer and two skeins of Pony Ride.

Overall, I’m impressed with the yarn quality. The Legwarmer skein is a little more bubblegummy than I thought it would be, but I still like it. I haven’t done much yarn shopping on Knitpicks in the past, for fear that their cheap prices meant the yarn wasn’t that great. My purchases have pretty much been limited to needles and tools. But now having these skeins has made me rethink that choice (although I don’t ever think I’ll prefer online yarn shopping to my LYS).

Did you get anything from Knitpicks’ Big Sale?

– Magpie

My First Grown-up Christmas Tree

Skiing penguin ornament

This year is the first year since moving out that I have my own, full size christmas tree. We’ve never been real tree people – my mom is the daughter of a fire chief and her whole side of the family is staunchly pro-fake tree. Too many holidays in their childhoods were interrupted by fire calls where families lost everything after their too-dry tree went up in flames. And while I don’t really have the same memories, I’ve grown up with fake trees and I love them to pieces.

Last year was my first year in my “own” place (I shared with four other people), and it was pretty much treeless. The house I was living in last year was kind of a fire hazard as is, so a real tree was out of the question. And as for the fake trees I love so much? Well, the one downside to them is that, even thought it’s only a one time purchase, that one time expense is a bit much for my adjunct teaching finances. We did find a small, already decorated tree in one of the closets – probably left by previous tenants – but it wasn’t “ours,” you know?

Tree De lighting 1

But a new year came, and with it I moved to a new (much less crowded, cleaner, and safe) apartment, and as luck would have it, my parents bought a new, bigger fake tree for their house. The previous tree had been pre-lit when they bought it about ten years ago, and every year since the light strands have been playing an elaborate game of And Then There Were None. We’d been supplementing what little still lit up with separate light strands, but this last year was the final straw and the final strand lost its glow.

My parents, naturally, having shelled out money for a pre-lit tree specifically for the convenience factor, and now lacking both me and my brother at home to unstring the supplement lights simply decided to chuck it. They bought a new one that they know they can just fold up and put back in the box come the end of Russian New Year. And I, poor apartment dweller that I am, quickly hopped on the opportunity to grab the old tree.

But that meant I had to cut all the lights off. Because they’re wrapped pretty tightly around branches, and if I’m going to be using my own lights anyway, might as well just get rid of the old ones so I can fluff the branches to the maximum capacity, right?

Right.

Lights all off

Well, 5 hours and two super scratched up hands later, I finally got them all off. The wires were pretty easy to cut with just a regular pair of scissors, and disturbingly, I found a number of them had already been half severed somehow. My bet is on the cats. What really took the time was unwinding and untangling them from each branch – I didn’t want to cut too much so that I was sure there were no wire fragments left hiding in the branches, so I only cut the strand leading between branches and then unwound each in one big piece.

Now, the tree is up and strung with my own (brighter AND more energy efficient – gotta love LED) lights. Annnndddd, I’m already taking shit from my apartment mate and my boyfriend about it not being real. But I don’t care, I love my fake tree.

Tree all done

– Magpie