Jingle Bells, Batman Smells…

That was a classic parodic take on “Jingle Bells”, which has been around since at least my childhood, which I remember as going:

🎶 Jingle bells, Batman smells

Robin laid an egg…

Batmobile lost its wheel

And Joker’s dancing ballet…hey! 🎶

(Some versions use “Joker ran away” as well.)

Today is what most people would call “Boxing Day”, but as that’s not really a thing here in the United States, we would call today “Just Another Wednesday”. No major shopping or anything like that, we just go on with our day and get ready for New Year’s Eve.

So, how was my Christmas? Not very eventful. I didn’t get anything in the way of presents or spending money, but I’m not bitter or upset at all. My dad is the primary “giver” in the family, and I hardly ever ask him for anything and even when I went on my last yarn run, I chose to spend my own pocket cash instead of using part of the grocery money for it (even though he said he wouldn’t have been bothered by it if I did). I never expect anything anymore and I don’t get my hopes up, so I never get disappointed, just pleasantly surprised if I do get something. Sure, it would be nice to be in a position to exchange gifts every year, but if all I have to offer is my kindness and a good meal some years, then I’m okay with that.

So that’s what I gave: kindness and a good meal. I decided to make a lasagna for Christmas this year, as sort of a nod to my late maternal grandmother, who we affectionately referred to as “Nanny”. (Her parents were from Sicily, and she grew up speaking Italian as a child; I believe her nickname as a grandmother may have come from the Italian word for “grandmother”: nonna. Her ex-husband, my grandfather, we called “Grandpa”; he was of Irish descent and as I previously mentioned was in the Coast Guard and died of Alzheimer’s in September 2014 at age 85, a decade and two months to the day after Nanny. They had been divorced for over 30 years at the time of Nanny’s death, but they remained on friendly terms for the rest of her life and neither ever remarried.) Nanny was an avid cook, and I like to think I learned my own cooking skills from her. She cooked all sorts of things, but she especially enjoyed cooking her own pasta sauces and making spaghetti. Around Christmas, though, she’d make lasagna for the entire family to eat (on top of that, did I mention she was also diabetic?), and it was always a treat when she’d make it. I’ve made my own tweaks to her recipe over the years, even as I approach the age where I will have lived just as long without her as I did with her (she died of cancer when I was 17, just a month before I started my senior year of high school). I like using crushed tomatoes instead of regular canned tomato sauce and oven-ready sheets of lasagna noodles instead of boiling them (I would have to constantly be spraying oil on them if I had to cook them because they stick together). It ended up coming out pretty nicely, with the exception that I didn’t distribute the cheeses properly, and so the top layer of the lasagna was considerably lacking in the cheese department. The good news is that I have enough boxes of oven ready lasagna in the pantry to make another lasagna in the near future.

I spent most of my Christmas Day doing laundry and watching TV with my mom. I’ve been watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on Netflix, and it’s been many years since I’ve watched the series from beginning to end. I also started trying to watch Love Actually as well (managed about an hour; I have just a week before it leaves Netflix again). Tonight, as Survivor is currently in its offseason (the new season premieres in February), I will likely try finishing up Series 2 of The Tribe and maybe starting Series 3 (I only have 4 half-hour episodes left in Series 2).

The Bambina baby blanket is going well. I’ve finished 3 full rows of squares. Those 36 squares, plus the other 9 squares making up the right-hand side of the blanket brings me to 45 total squares out of 144. I have about 1/3 of my total number of squares finished, and it’s not even New Year’s Eve yet! I’m hoping to get most of the fourth row of squares in this weekend (I’ve been averaging 2-3 squares a day during days that my dad has off from work, and I usually try to get at least one square in on days that my dad does work and I only have the mornings available to myself).

Something else I haven’t mentioned here yet: the last time I went on a yarn run, I decided to look in the Walmart books section to see if there were any interesting books worth buying or if something on my “Want to Read” list was available. The section had considerably shrunk to make room for Christmas sale items, but I did manage to find a copy of a book from my “Want to Read” list to add to my collection.

So, I ended up buying The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I hadn’t heard of this book until this year, but the synopsis sounded interesting to me. It’s been marked as “Want to Read” in my Goodreads list since April. If I hadn’t seen this one, I probably would’ve gotten Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about The Book Thief, and while it is a while off on my reading queue, I’m glad I was able to add it to the collection. Considering that this is right after All the Light We Cannot See, that means I’ll be reading two novels set during World War II back-to-back! As for The Fountainhead, I am only at around the halfway point of the novel, but I’m gonna try to read some more tonight right after posting this.

Anyway, I hope you all have had a happy, fun, and safe holiday season! We’re less than a week away from 2019: two months away from hopefully welcoming my second niece and three months away from both my 32nd birthday and the start of my third year writing this blog. I hope there are good things ahead in 2019 for all of us. Unless something major pops up between now and next Monday, I expect this to be my last post of 2018. And from me and my Bitmoji to all of you…

2018: The Snowless Knitter’s Year In Review

I know early December seems a little early to do a year in review post, but as the “review” part goes from January to November, I plan on ending this post with what’s been going on for me so far this month. I’m sure if anything comes up around Christmas and New Year’s, it will likely warrant a post of its own.

So, what’s been going on for me this year? I won’t bother to link to every single post I reference, as my archive on here is sorted by month and year anyway.

This is 2018: The Snowless Knitter’s Year In Review.

  • January: I rang in the new year with a finished project, the Unicorn Shawl (which was my first major crochet project in several years). I bought a copy of Hidden Figures and joined Goodreads. At this point, I have just a handful of friends on there, just about all of them people I’ve met through blogging or Ravelry, but it has been great for me to catalog and track my reading. I don’t really like reading on a deadline, so I decided not to do the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but I’ve done well enough reading at my own pace.
  • February: I entered a period of both blogger’s block and knitter’s block. I started a blanket, only to abandon it due to both lack of yarn and lack of passion. I ended the month with a day trip to South Florida to see a family friend. It took a bit of a toll on my mother because of the distance, but we did get a lovely picture of my mom and her friend out of it that is on the refrigerator, and my mom looks genuinely happy in it.
  • March: Our Keurig brewer went kaput, which resulted in my longest caffeine withdrawal in recent memory. We replaced it with a Ninja Coffee Bar (which itself has gotten temperamental, but nothing a vinegar solution can’t fix). I spent my birthday month trying to find things I loved about myself, and then celebrated my actual birthday with my biggest book haul of the year: Fahrenheit 451, A Farewell to Arms, Lord of the Flies, Catching Fire, and The Fountainhead. I closed out the month by observing my first blogiversary.
  • April: Not much of note.
  • May: My brother and my sister-in-law bought a house (and, if the math is right, christened it by conceiving a baby). I started “Rock Me on the Bias” and celebrated geekdom.
  • June: I paid tribute to one of the first female writers to inspire me (Anne Frank), extolled the virtues of air conditioning in Florida summer weather (you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone), and made my first real yarn run of the year. I also bought Looking for Alaska and All the Light We Cannot See, which I hope to finally begin reading in the early months of 2019.
  • July: I finished a shawl called “Close to You”, lost a game of yarn chicken on Rock Me on the Bias (but was quickly able to fix), and took an in-depth look at my love of The Golden Girls.
  • August: My blogger’s block struck again, I rediscovered my love of The Tribe (of which I am currently still rewatching the series from beginning to end, and about three-quarters of the way through Series 2), and slowly worked my way through A Fairwell to Arms.
  • September: I compared Ernest Hemingway to Marmite, dealt with our air conditioner breaking for the second time in three months, and publicly revealed my mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s.
  • October: I mused on solitude, talked a bit about a hurricane, made my first cheesecake (among other things), declares that “the future of literature is female”, and announced that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting another girl.
  • November: Talked about my experience at the voting booth and wrote a bit about Thanksgiving at my brother’s.

So, that brings us to December. So what’s been up with me this month?

Just a handful of things, really.

First of all, the knitting. I’ve gotten underway on a baby blanket that I am calling “The Bambina”, after my nickname for my unborn niece. As of this post, I have finished the bottom edge of the blanket and am on the last square of the right-hand edge. Once that square is finished, I hope to start filling in the rest of the blanket, one square at a time. The Bambina uses the same mitering technique I used for La vie en Rose et Violet, but this one is only using small mitered squares rather than a variety of shapes. I’ll also be working a border around it in soft white. I aim to have this done in time for me to be able to present it to my sister-in-law after she gives birth, hopefully right around when she’s due in late February.

I’ve also been making slow, but steady progress on my current book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I’ve just started Part II (of four) this week. The plot so far has jumped back and forth between the experiences of rival architects and former college roommates Howard Roark (the book’s protagonist and the titular “Fountainhead”, as in he is the source from which all the ideals the book is wanting to perpetuate flows) and Peter Keating. I am not going to spoil the book’s plot here, but there is a lot of stubbornness and a woman involved as well. I am only three chapters into Part II and the plot is starting to thicken. I plan on writing more here once I’ve finished reading it. I’ve set a loose goal of trying to finish it by the New Year, but I won’t be punishing myself if I don’t make it by then.

We’re on our second cold snap in the last couple of weeks, connected with a snow system that has primarily affected Virginia and the Carolinas. An old school friend of mine who now lives in South Carolina did share that she got snow at her house, but it seems like North Carolina has ended up getting the worst of it. The front passed through here yesterday after a bunch of rain came through, and it’s not supposed to get out of the 50s F today. We don’t have the heater on right now, but the room temperature has stayed steady enough. I haven’t gone outside much the last couple of days, but my Wonder Woman Wrap (which I have written about on here in the past) has made a wonderful cover for my arms and shoulders when I’ve had to step outside with the dog or to take out trash, especially when I haven’t wanted to pull on a sweater. I’m debating whether to wear it when I go grocery shopping tomorrow just to give that little bit of knitted nerdiness a little public display! All signs point to “yes”.

I hope to post again when Christmas comes around in a couple of weeks, or if some inspiration strikes me. I hope you all are having a happy, wonderful, and safe holiday season! Tonight marks the last night of Hanukkah 🕎, Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow, and New Year’s Day is exactly one week after that.

Stay warm, everybody!

End of the Year Book Tag

I saw this on Saucers and Sorcery and this tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett.

Anyways, enjoy.

Questions:

  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which I have set a goal of trying to finish by the end of the year.
  2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? No, I don’t really do seasonal reading.
  3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? No, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to current authors and novels, although the next two books on my list are both from the 21st century, one of which won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I’ve mainly been focusing on older books from my Book Bucket List.
  4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? Honestly, The Fountainhead is the only one, and I tend to read only one book at a time.
  5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year? No, Catching Fire did a pretty good job of that for my 2018 reads.
  6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2019? I’ve decided I definitely want three books in my collection if I get Christmas money and have enough to buy books: Mockingjay, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Slaughterhouse-Five. I’d also like to add Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and revisit both Animal Farm by George Orwell and Anthem by Ayn Rand (both of which we studied my freshman year of high school but I don’t really remember reading). We’ll see if I actually get the funds to do so. If not, I still have two physical books in my backlog and somewhere around 28-30 novels in my e-reader to go to (some of them public domain classic novels and others I bought with a gift card, several of them when they were marked way down in the Apple Books store).

If you liked this tag, feel free to copy and fill in your own responses.