[dɛkt] transitive verb
1. Decorate or adorn brightly or festively: “Ingrid was decked out in her Sunday best”.

2. Knock (someone) to the ground with a punch.

We fit the bill on both counts around here.

It was well into the month before we worked up enough Christmas Spirit to start bringing out the cheer. A little bit of snow and freezing rain curtailed tree-cutting plans, but rather than waiting until another weekend came around, we made an after-dark run to a nearby farm and cut the tree down by the car headlights. Except for my interpretation of the Advent Calendar this year, it’s just about all the decking we’ve managed for our hall-less abode. But it’s perfect, and nothing  makes me feel like a warm fuzzy quite like a lit-up Christmas tree. Btw, all ornamentation pales in comparison to the Disco Dino. I wish my tree was full of them.

The festive feeling had been postponed, partly, by the Pointy-Eared One with Many Names. Man, that kitten was sick. For days the poor thing couldn’t or wouldn’t eat. The vet could see nothing wrong without some major testing, so we gave him one more day. Lo, the next morning he ate his breakfast and he’s been ravenous and a royal Pain in the Arse ever since. Then, the kiddo went down and he went down hard. He curled up in front of the wood stove and slept for an entire day…a little hot coal on the floor. Now he’s right as rain and I’m exhausted. I have too little time for too many tasks…especially this one. I have no idea how I’m going to pull it off, between school being out tomorrow and vending the Christmas Eve farmer’s market downtown. Where are the elves when I need them? And why do I wait so long to start these projects?

I have managed only to post spinning kits in the shop over the last few days…my new felt model, mentioned in the previous post and soon to be revealed, had three kiddos down with the awful fever thing and then there was our time with The Sick and well…the time has just run out. There are a couple yarns left, but most of the yarns I managed to list were snatched up quickly (THANK YOU!!!) and I’m scrambling to get some loveliness ready for this Friday’s market. I have so many fresh ideas for 2011, though, and cannot wait to share them with you. There are many exciting new projects in varying stages of readiness that will see the light in the coming weeks.

Falklands fluff ready for your wheel!!!

Okay, so here’s our Advent Tree…really just branches we collected and put in a vase. We strung it with popcorn and cranberries and, each night before bed, we hang a glittery star on it…when the bowl is empty of stars, it’s Christmas Eve! I’m really hoping to find an extra day or two between now and then (I’m sure I just misplaced one somewhere), but I don’t regret for a moment the time I’ve spent this holiday season healing the sick (ha ha) or celebrating with friends instead of running my business. Last night was an enchanting Solstice Hay Ride at Fair Winds Farm followed by a sweet and cozy potluck with beautiful people I’m so happy to have back in my life.  I broke out some of my quince for the occasion, as such a taste of flowers and peaches seemed ideal for welcoming back the light.

I wish you all the joy the season can bring!


in which I wonder what’s in your fridge…

Assuming it wasn’t Zuul and I’m about to be possessed by a creepy dog-like minion of Gozer, I think I might know the valet for this parking job.  Rainy day + cabin fever + young, silly mind.

Settling In has been a rather quiet, private process…I’ve neglected the home “office” in favor of unpacking, repacking, rearranging and re-rearranging, making plans and generally nest-building before we’re covered in snow. There are large projects and small projects, some that really should happen now and some that can wait…perhaps List-Making is our #1 activity at the moment, but I’m enjoying how we’re taking our time with this, watching the space morph little by little into something we can call home.

When we’re not List-Making, btw, we’re getting to know a New Friend:

He’s pretty awesome and answers to: Potato, Pancake, Latke, Cupcake, Kitten, Potato Head and more. And yes, he likes yarn.

Where was I? Home. Right. So, the studio is still unheated and in total chaos, but I hope to remedy that soon after the holidays. Work will begin on its transformation into The Spun Monkey HQ in earnest since, come June, Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff will be returning for another VT Camp Pluckyfluff! So, if you missed it the first time around, don’t let it happen again, and if you participated in 2007, come back for some new tricks and a VT Camp reunion! Keep it on your radar for the weekend of June 25/26th, and I’ll post a link when registration opens.

And now, in this Post of Randomness, I must extend a big THANK YOU to all who stopped by my table at the Bazaar Bizarre in Boston on December 5th. It was a blast! I meant to have posted here about the event one more time, but, as mentioned above, there has still been much more Settling In happening than Office Hours. This is soon to be remedied, but if you want reliably timely info about shows/events or shop updates, please “like” my Facebook page (see the sidebar on the right for the link) or email me a request to join my newsletter at: thespunmonkeyATgmailDOTcom. I feel like those places are more appropriate for such matters, anyway, and would prefer not to inundate my blog with it in future. I also mentioned there (as in Facebook) and not here that I was unable to attend Mass Market 7 this past weekend. Get this, though: Christmas Eve itself, our farmer’s market is having a special market day from 10am – 2pm. Christmas Eve! Crazy, but I’ll be there. 🙂

In the meantime, I’ll be updating my Etsy shop every day with yarns, spinning fibers and nuno felt pieces (I have procured myself a felt model!). Enjoy a free upgrade to Priority Mail shipping on all orders from now through December 22nd. There’s still plenty of time!

Fiber and yarn clubs are also going up and make fabulous gifts for the fiber lovers in your life. Just sayin’.

And in the Spirit of Randomness, I’ll conclude with a snapshot of The Boy’s chosen adornments…

Logs Consumed. Two Ways.

I welcome Solstice as the beginning of a New Year.

Celebrations = Baking, and holy cow, I made this:

Gingerbread cake with chestnut buttercream, topped with chocolate buttercream and merengue mushrooms. This was my first foray into baking a very traditional holiday dessert in a very traditional way. Apparently, I’d never made REAL buttercream before, as that was the most intensive (and delicious) part of the whole process…

Of course, this Log of Love was made gluten-free:

With some help from my batter-licking sous chef, Miss M:

Actually, I think that’s buttercream, and now she’s a fiend for the stuff.

So, we started with the cake…it wasn’t hard to alter the recipe, as there was only a 1/2 cup of flour and three tbsp. almond flour. As I’m sensitive to both gluten AND almonds, I used a gluten-free pastry mix for the flour and ground up pecans instead of almonds. Perfect.

For cooling, she was rolled up in a towel, so she wouldn’t crack when we rolled her up again later (yes, a cake is a she, just like a boat or a car).

She was happy in the quiet house, basking in the glow of festive tree lights. She knew she had purpose. And while she sat, contentedly reducing in temperature, it was time for us to make the buttercream.

It started with a simple syrup, boiled until it reached the hard-ball stage. We used soft, peach-colored palm sugar for this and worked out wonderfully. Then we drizzled the syrup into the eight egg whites we had whipped up:

Then we added butter, one tablespoon at a time until we’d been through the entire pound and a half. Some was scooped out and blended with chestnut puree and vanilla and the rest received a treatment of melted bittersweet chocolate.

The cake was happily cool to the touch, and so she was carefully unrolled and spread thickly with the chestnut cream…

…and rolled up again.

Then came the chocolate…

…and a dusting of cocoa powder for good measure. She felt very sophisticated then.

Little did she know, there were friends coming to play on her bark…

…mmmmmmmmerengue + a little buttercream glue and voila! Mushies!

And then,…


The real yule log the children had decorated was outfitted with a candle for each. When they were lit, the log was placed atop a burning piece of last year’s log…a continuous line of yule logs in this family for the past sixteen years. It is a treasure to be part of this tradition, and it was joyous to contribute something new. And it almost made me swoon to be celebrating seven years with C. We seem to have lived many lifetimes since then and here we are at another crossroads, ready to set forth on a new leg of our journey together.

Winter is beautiful everywhere…

…but after loving several Vermont winters, I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to be on the west coast this time of year. The parks are all lush and green. The temperatures are cold enough for sweaters, but my eyelashes aren’t freezing to my face.

And so, we have been getting our hike on. Every day that isn’t raining, we at least take a walk to the open space around the corner. Yesterday we followed squirrel roads, bothered a camel cricket and took off in an oak tree airplane. We found mushies that we hoped were Candy Caps, but they turned out to be a lookalike. Boo. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying a candy cap mushroom, you need to make it happen. I cook four or five of the tiny candy caps in butter (you need to cook them in fat to bring out the flavor) and the whole house smells like maple syrup for days. But, I digress.

A few days ago, we actually piled into the truck and spent a few hours at Briones Regional Park. It was the perfect day to be out in the woods…misty and cool, only a few other souls about…an opportunity to practice being quiet like a fox.

The sun would burn a hole in the clouds for a moment, and then retreat.

Conditions were perfect for mushie-hunting, but no edibles that we knew.

There were slippery, leafy hills to navigate…

…and mellow paths to tromp along.

We came upon a gorgeous, well-tended Medieval-style labyrinth. I have not been successful in finding much information about it, except that it was recently restored. It is artful and serene, surrounded by a branch fence. We walked it in silence…the Boy seemed to understand and only broke in for a few questions, mainly on specifics about construction (of course). We made an offering, and the adults made a secret plan to come back early some morning, alone. I tend not to photograph sacred spaces, so you’ll have to see it for yourself if you’re in the area.

In holiday news, it is the eve of Yule, an important celebration around these parts.

Yesterday, the kids in the house collected herbs, berries and greenery to decorate the Yule log we will burn tomorrow night, and today, M (my li’l sis-in-law) and I are going to attempt the baking of a traditional Buche de Noel to add to the celebratory feast. This will, of course, be gluten-free. I can’t get around the dairy, as it’s absolutely loaded with buttercream, but I seem to be almost okay with pastured butter. I anticipate a few days discomfort after any family event these days, anyway, so whatever. It’s going to be beautiful. I might even be content to just look at it.


Anyway, should be messy…will document!

Where, oh where…

…do we go from here?

We find ourselves, once again, a family with a Mission but without a Place to manifest it.

We find ourselves, once again, relying on the kindness of our parents, their open hearts and home.

We find ourselves, once again, in the Bay Area for an As-Yet-Undetermined length of time.

I am heartbroken. I feel desperate to find the place where we belong. Our desires are simple, but this world is complicated.

And so we bake cookies:

Yes, that dough is the color of charcoal. I took a basic sesame tahini shortbread ala Mollie Katzen (the Sesame Stars from Vegetable Heaven), and used black sesame tahini and my new favorite gluten-free flour mix and YUM happened.

Many are in the freezer, waiting for relatives we will see around Christmastime. A few are on reserve to leave out for the gnomes. It was Joy, it was Delicious, and at times it was Serious Business, this cookie-making.

The hardest part was waiting for the cookie sheet to be free for the next round of cutting shapes…

I am working hard to breathe in Hope and breathe out Anxiety so that I might enjoy this holiday season. It is the first in four years that we have not been 3000 miles away from all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, etc. I need to celebrate this, but my mind is consumed with where where where are we going to go next and how are we going to get there…