I’ll Take My Snowless Knitter Re-Caf

This is a follow-up to my previous post, “I’ll Take My Snowless Knitter Decaf”.

So, it turns out we didn’t order a replacement brewer to be delivered. Luckily, though, my dad was able to find a local store that carried the brewer that he was interested in…but not before asking my opinion. This is a big deal for me, because I was in a state of mind for a long time that my opinion didn’t necessarily matter, for a litany of reasons that I don’t feel like discussing. The fact that he asked for my opinion on a brewer feels like a big step. I didn’t commit to either option (either a new Keurig or a Ninja), but I did point out that regular coffee grounds were cheaper than K-Cups, and was thus open to going for the Ninja (especially since I knew he’d been wanting to switch to the Ninja for a couple of years now).

He finally bought the Ninja this morning. Specifically, a Ninja Coffee Bar, which has all sorts of brewing options from classic all the way to super strong (like you’d use in a coffeehouse style drink). I have no idea which store he got it from, but he was able to find it. I consider us especially lucky that we were in a position to be able to get it, considering the price (it’s not cheap, but it’s supposed to brew quality coffee). Heck, I would have been okay with a Mr. Coffee, as long as I’d be able to enjoy my favorite morning brew once again! But my dad is a man of technology and gadgetry; he’s always been interested in the latest of just about everything, from TVs to computers to coffee makers. He likes to wait a little while before he’ll spring for something, but he usually ends up getting his hands on it eventually. It makes me think of when we got our first PC, a Packard Bell that ran (I kid you not) Microsoft Windows for Workgroups…Old School Windows. I remember when the icon to close an application was that little dash mark in the upper left-hand corner! I remember when we upgraded to Windows 95…remember the ad campaign with The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” playing? The “Start” button was a big deal, as was the X button closing an application! Our first HDTV ran on a cathode ray tube system! Remember when HD was top of the line? Now there’s Universal HD and 4K. I remember when my dad’s first cell phone was a flip phone, and his first smartphone was secondhand from my brother (when that iPhone became obsolete, he finally got his current iPhone, which I think is either an iPhone 5 or an iPhone 6). It’s amazing how technology has evolved just in my lifetime alone! Even with coffee makers!

Our Ninja also comes with a frothing device, and my dad has already encouraged me to experiment with it and try to become my own at-home barista (he’s even willing to be my guinea pig 😂). It came with a recipe book, and I am itching to make my first caramel macchiato!

Okay…I haven’t talked much about crafting lately, so I figured I’d fill you in. I haven’t knit much in the last month, partly because I was distracted by a crochet project, but I was also dealing with a nagging back issue that is only just within the last few days finally starting to resolve itself.

The crochet project: I was reading through some other blogs last month when one of them (I think Mad Man Knitting) was talking about a corner-to-corner project. I decided to try it out for myself, and using some leftover stash yarn, I started working on a corner-to-corner piece of my own. I’m not quite ready to show you pictures just yet (maybe in a future post), but it has a nice look so far, a mix of solid and variegated, each separated by a soft white stripe. I’m hoping it will be a sofa-sized throw when it’s done.

My back: About three weeks ago, I had to unclog a toilet in the middle of the night, and in the process, I must have either pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve. The following morning, my back was stiff as a board, my range of motion was gone on my left and limited on my right, and I had to walk at a snail’s pace. Bending over was next to impossible without feeling excruciating pain and when I did bend over (even just to get ice out of the freezer, which is a pull-out freezer), I’d have to do so while supporting myself on something nearby. Laying on my side or sitting with support behind me would ease the pain a little bit. I was able to walk at a regular pace after a couple of days, but the stiffness and the difficulty bending over remained. Sleeping in my parents’ bed (which I do when my dad works in order to help my mom out when she inevitably awakens in the middle of the night) did me no favors either. It took well over a week, almost two to finally get all of my range of motion back, but I am still dealing with a little knot of pain in my left lower back (though now the pain is just annoying instead of excruciating), and I still cannot stay bent over for long periods of time, but it has slowly been improving. My back is at its stiffest when I first get out of bed or when standing after sitting for an extended period of time, but it relaxes after I stand for a few minutes. Whatever I did to it, it’s been slow to heal, but it has been healing.

So, as I write, I have been drinking my first cup of coffee ☕️ in over a week. We brewed a pot on the “Rich” setting, which makes the coffee just like my dad likes it: strong and stout. The carafe that came with the Ninja has a tube going down into it that essentially fills and mixes the coffee from the bottom as it fills, making for a smoother and more flavor-consistent cup of coffee. Mine is Folgers medium roast, with sugar and vanilla creamer added, and it still tastes like a strong cup of coffee.

I hope you all are having a good day, and if you drink it, enjoy your coffee!

And since I mentioned it, here’s “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones!

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‘Tis the Season: My Five Favorite Christmas Songs of All Time

With the holiday season in full swing and Hanukkah already underway, and Christmas coming just a week from now, I thought I’d celebrate with some of my favorite things about Christmas. Today, I share with you my five favorite Christmas songs of all time. One song you won’t be seeing on this list? “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. I’ve never cared much for that song, and hearing it sung every year on The X Factor (both the US and UK versions) was enough to finally turn me off from the song for good (thankfully, they didn’t do Christmas songs on The X Factor UK this year, and the US version hasn’t aired since 2013).

So, here are my five actual picks. The only criterion was that the song had to be Christmas or winter-themed. I make no distinction between hymns and secular songs.

5. Billy Squier, “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You”

This song comes from a time when rock music was just as popular on the radio as pop was (something that long fell by the wayside by the time I was coming of age) and Billy Squier was one of the most popular rock stars of the early ’80s (only to have his popularity wane after a particularly disastrous reception for the music video for his single, “Rock Me Tonite”). This is one of the few Christmas songs by pop or rock singers I’ve heard through the years to not come across as cheesy. And the fact that he did this version with the “MTV Chorus” is even more awesome.

4. “Carol of the Bells”

This has got to be my favorite Christmas carol, with all the complex layers of vocals. The version featured here is one done for South Park by the South Park Elementary School guidance counselor, Mr. Mackey. (The random “m’kays” sprinkled throughout this version always make me giggle.)

3. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon

Another rock Christmas classic, this song combines Lennon’s singing talents with his songwriting, which often incorporated themes of peace and justice. This one is no different. Originally written as a protest song against the Vietnam War, it has since transcended its original political origin and has become a beloved Christmas standard throughout the world.

2. “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken-Hearted)” by Roxette

You didn’t know this was a Christmas song? It was originally written by the Swedish pop duo as a Christmas song about heartbreak and lost love and released in 1987. A couple of years later, it was selected to be part of the soundtrack for a film that would eventually be regarded as a classic romance film, Pretty Woman. A slight lyrical change the year after its original release made it less Christmas-y (the line “It’s a hard Christmas Day” became “It’s a hard winter’s day”), and it ended up becoming one of four number-one singles in the United States for Roxette (along with “The Look”, “Listen to Your Heart”, and “Joyride”) and one of the most popular songs of the 1990s. The video featured here is from the original Christmas single.

Honorable Mention: “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by The Chipmunks

This didn’t quite make the main list, but I must mention that this song was on replay constantly when I was a kid and we wore out the cassette tape this song was featured on! It’s also the only Christmas song to ever top the Billboard Hot 100.

1. “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby ft. The Andrews Sisters

Okay, I’m from Florida, not Hawaii, but this is still the only popular Christmas song that has a distinctly tropical vibe to it. The title is taken from the actual Hawaiian language greeting for “Merry Christmas” (the language lacks the sounds for R, S, and T; the R becomes an L sound, the C is rendered as a K, and S and T become K sounds, turning “Merry Christmas” into “Mele Kalikimaka”). I first heard this song in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in a memorable scene where Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) is daydreaming about the swimming pool he wants to get with his Christmas bonus, including a spoof on Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he envisions a lingerie saleswoman he was talking to earlier in the movie taking off her swimsuit (in a nod to Phoebe Cates in a similar scene in Fast Times) and diving into the pool, although actual nudity is not seen in order to preserve the film’s PG-13 rating. Even on its own, this song is still a favorite of mine. And though Bing Crosby sang a lot of Christmas songs in his career, this one is still my favorite. The scene is featured below, and the studio version above this paragraph. (And if you care to venture over to my Instagram, I posted a brief little video of me singing the song this afternoon, if you’re brave enough to check it out.)

Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday tunes? Share them in the comments.

Maybe It’s Cold Outside?

The weather here is becoming more winter like. Granted, it’s not the snow-covered Shangri-La that only Bing Crosby or Idina Menzel could sing about, but this is winter, Florida-style.

Of the four seasons that visit Florida each year, each varying in intensity and heat, winter is by far my favorite. The air is much cooler, in the 70s at its mildest and sometimes as low as the 20s Fahrenheit at its coldest. It’s also much drier and less humid, which can be hell on my dry skin at times, and a big reason why Florida itself is generally snowless. I love being able to wear my sweaters and other hand knit items out in the cold weather, but I am also crazy enough to wear flip flops in 40 degree weather! Most Floridians get their sweaters and hoodies out once the temperature dips into the 50s, but I think that’s because our blood is so acclimated to warm weather that when the temperature dips that low, it’s hard to handle. It is demonstrated quite effectively in this cartoon shared by the Facebook feed, “More Florida Memes” that appears to have originally appeared in the Palm Beach Daily News:

Source: Facebook / More Florida Memes

We’ve had a couple of cold blasts here since the beginning of the season, but the one we’re about to get this weekend will be the strongest one yet. The last couple of days have seen a stationary front sit right over Central Florida, while the low pressure system to the north of it has been dumping snow on my best friend’s home up in Georgia. Yesterday, my house was in the cold side of the stationary front, with us staying in the 60s while Orlando was in the 70s. The clouds yesterday hung so low that the two broadcast towers that are visible from either side of my house could not be seen, with a misty rain falling for much of the day. Today, that front lifted a bit to the north, which put us on the warm side, with fewer clouds and a high temperature of about 81.

Tomorrow will be an unusual day when that front comes through because it will mean that we reach our day’s high temperature in the morning: a projected high of 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures will drop into the 50s during the day, and then will plunge into the upper 30s on Saturday night. Sunday may be just as cold, and we may not get back into the 70s all week.

I can just imagine all the blankets Floridians will wrap themselves in, the heaters that will inevitably be turning on, and all the hot beverages we will be brewing. This will not be a winter wonderland or a White Christmas, but it will be the first taste of winter as we Floridians know it.

I leave you with this Golden Girls classic moment. While not specifically a winter song, it does mention winter in the lyrics, and part of me wishes this would be a rally song for my Miami Dolphins. Anyways, this is “Miami, You’ve Got Style”.

Until next time!

I’m on Instagram!

Now, a few of my followers here on WordPress have had the honor of being followed by me on Instagram, but I figure now is a good time to spread the word.

I recently launched my own Instagram profile, and you can check me out @snowlessknitter, which is the same as my handles on Ravelry and Tumblr. I currently do not have an active Twitter.

If you’re interested, stop on by my Instagram, give me a follow, and if I recognize you or I just like what you have in your feed, I may just follow you back!

Have a good day, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This won’t be a long post. Today marks Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, which usually calls for lots of turkey 🦃, family (whether you’re traditional 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦, nontraditional 👩‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👨‍👧‍👦👩‍👦👨‍👦, or it’s just the two of you 👫👭👬), and gratitude 🙏.

To all of you observing Thanksgiving today, may yours be happy, safe, and hopefully drama-free. And to those of you who aren’t, well, Happy Thursday anyway! And may your Thursday be happy, safe, and hopefully drama-free.

Happy Thanksgivingto you all from The Snowless Knitter! 🎉

My Love Affair with Books

I’d initially started drafting a post with some philosophical drivel-dravel about conformity and all that stuff, but at times it felt like I was either being unoriginal or incoherent with the message I wanted to get across.  So I decided to trash it after remembering a conversation we were having last weekend.  Let me set up the scene for you.

As of this writing, my brother and his fianceé are a little over two weeks from their wedding day 👰🏻🤵🏻.  Last Saturday marked three weeks out from their wedding day.  My brother was home from work that day, and well…his fianceé (almost my sister-in-law by this point) had decided to have a beer…or few 🍻.  Well, she’s not mean at all when she drinks, but she does get quite…sociable.  She wanted someone to talk to, and the three of us (Mom, Dad, and I) all decided to come over and hang out with them and the baby…and getting to see her is always a bonus.  Well, during our evening there, we got into several discussions, including one about how smart my sister-in-law thought my family was, and she referred to me as a “f⁉️⁉️ing genius” on multiple occasions, wondering why I never finished my degree (she’s currently taking online courses towards an associate’s degree in the hopes she’ll be able to get a degree or certificate later on that will allow her to work in insurance, but was a medical assistant before she gave birth to my niece and is currently a stay-at-home mom).  For the record, I dropped out because of financial and transportation issues; I know I will need to have a discussion with my dad about finishing my associates degree eventually (and I’ve done some research recently, and one of the local universities does offer a bachelors degree in my desired major — and I do have one in mind now — that can be obtained online if I need to), but it’s a conversation I have not quite felt comfortable having up to this point.  Anyways, during this conversation, my dad revealed something that I don’t even remember knowing or learning: apparently, I have known how to read on my own since I was at least 4 years old.

I have had my nose in a book for as long as I can remember…in some senses, I’m probably a real-life Matilda, of course referring to Roald Dahl’s literary heroine who could read from a young age and move things with the power of her mind (well, unfortunately I’m not telekinetic 😬).  My first exposure to chapter books came in third grade, when I was introduced to the novels of Beverly Cleary by studying one of them in our class: Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  In the years that followed, I would not only read some of Ms. Cleary’s other novels (Henry and Ribsy, Beezus and Ramona), but I also discovered Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series, Cynthia Voigt and her Tillerman cycle books, and as previously mentioned in a prior post, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl.  I remember reading the articles in our Reader’s Digest magazines religiously.  My mom had a small collection of classic novels that she bought through Reader’s Digest years ago, although I never could manage to finish most of them: Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Red Badge of Courage, Wuthering Heights, and The Scarlet Letter.  When I was about 12 years old, I discovered the Harry Potter series after getting intrigued by reading portions of the first book over a friend’s shoulder…I do not regret doing that, by the way.  It was one heck of a series.

High school, though…I will admit that high school did turn me off from reading books for enjoyment for a while.  I know English teachers have a job to do, and I understand that…but when reading became a chore, something I had to do, it took the enjoyment for reading away from me for a while, and it took years for me to find that enjoyment again.  I had to look for meanings, themes, and symbolism that was not very obvious to me, and I had to try and remember each and every single plot point, lest my teacher asks about it on a quiz or test 😫.  Needless to say, English was not my favorite class or my best subject in high school.  Sure, I’d read during those years after high school, but it was oftentimes news articles on the web or someone’s Wikipedia entry.  I think the only novel I remember reading during that time was The da Vinci Code.  Hell, everyone was reading The da Vinci Code during that time! It took a second look at those books I had so often ignored (for the most part) in high school and a moneymaking opportunity in order for me to rediscover my love for books.

A few years after I dropped out of college, I remembered the collection of books we had bought for my high school English classes, but had largely set aside.  Two of them in particular, The Awakening and The Great Gatsby, caught my attention and were actually enjoyable once I read those books with fresh eyes.  Then, about three years ago, my neighbor offered to have me babysit his daughter, who was 10 at the time, extremely outgoing, and full of energy.  Our personalities clashed quite a bit over the couple of summers that I sat for her, but the money I earned, though not a whole lot, was enough for me to add some more books to my collection: The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy by Dante, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  During some grocery shopping trips, I was also able to get The Casual Vacancy, The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the two sequels to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that were authored by Stieg Larsson himself (two more sequels were written after Larsson’s death, both authored by David Lagercrantz).  The Millennium trilogy (named after the magazine that male lead Mikael Blomqvist runs in the novels) marked the first time that I actually enjoyed reading crime novels.  The Hunger Games, I managed to finish in a week…but I have yet to find its two sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  Then…another reading lull.  Although recently, that has started to ease.

So, the iPad I was gifted with a few weeks ago?  It comes with an ebooks app, iBooks.  Now, I am in no position at this time to afford ebooks, or at least the ones you have to buy.  However, the iBooks store does have a selection of books available for free, many of them older books that have already gone into the public domain.  (A lot of these books can also be found on a website called Project Gutenberg, which has compiled all sorts of public domain books, including many classics you may be familiar with, into digital editions both available for download and viewable in HTML.  For me, iBooks was a better option as I didn’t have to download an extra app to download the file and then put it into the reader…the app has both the store and an e-reader where I can read the books I’ve downloaded.).  Using this app, I’ve been able to find public domain versions of several classics and there are about 6 or 7 books already queued up in the bookshelf, almost all of them I’ve been wanting to read for some time: Moby Dick, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Jungle, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Les Misérables.  But the very first one I found is the one I’m currently reading whenever I have some downtime to myself: Ulysses by James Joyce.  I’m not very far into it yet, but I consider myself to be in for the long haul.  I hope these books will hold me over, reading-wise, for quite a while.  

I feel like I’m finally rediscovering what I lost all those years ago.  I don’t think I’m alone in this either.  I’m sure a lot of you lost a little bit of your love for books, too, when your teachers made you study them.  My love affair with books has been hot and cold over the years, but I feel like I’ve reunited with an old flame and that reading and I haven’t missed a beat.  I hope this is something that will continue with me for as long as humanly possible.

So, do you all have the same love for reading that I do?  Has it been a lifelong thing or have you had on and off periods like me?  What kind of books do you like to read, who’s your favorite author (or authors…it can be more than one if you want), and what’s at the top of your reading list?  Don’t be afraid to talk about your favorite books in the comments!

Technical Difficulties

I have to keep this short, but I am having issues with my device and will not be able to post again until those issues are resolved.  It is an issue with the tablet’s battery.

I’m posting this so that no one gets worried about me.  I hope to be back sooner rather than later, but other than a pre-scheduled post I already had queued up to post here, this blog will be quiet for a little while.

I will be back as soon as the issues are resolved, one way or another.  See you all soon!