Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the day before Christmas....

Now that the surprise-spoiling danger is all but over and my family has more pressing and urgent activities than web-surfing (read: jigsaw puzzle and butter tarts, critical stuff!!), I can share projects. Some of the photos are abysmally poor due to lighting conditions and operating in stealth mode. Such is the lot when you work in darkness and have to get things wrapped before light returns again....

Treeskirt for Sister to match the birdies for her birthday.
I based it on two I've seen though I didn't really follow either. CrazyMomQuilts did a wonderful tutorial and TallGrassPrairieStudios had lovely tree blocks to inspire me (in the sidebar). I preferred my trunk running behind and made myself a little crazy matching the trunk position in the from strip to strip....
Two pairs of hand-knit socks - one for Mum and one for Sister. The herringbone pattern was slightly more time consuming but very satisfying. Free pattern on Ravelry - link is here.

Nigella Yoga bag for Sister - Amy Butler pattern (free). Turned out so well, I'm likely going to make another for me one of these days....
And there was one other project - some felted pillows for Mum that I had been working at off and on for a few months. But I was so very tired of dark photos that I will click them tomorrow after she opens them....

There are no hand-mades for the menfolk. :-( But there are snowball guns under the tree so I imagine there will be handmade fun and much merry mayhem tomorrow!!

To all that celebrate it, Merry Christmas! If you are not of the Christmas persuasion, enjoy your long weekend! I wish you goodness and warmth, health and prosperity, and the glow that comes from experiencing simple pleasures in life (or from a glass or two of wine!)

Peace and blessings!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another friendly family competition...

Candy and cookies and icing - oh my!!
This is what happens when Sister buys gingerbread kits, sends us out for bulk candy, and we have a few hours to visit. Team M, Team H and Team Carly. We're not really competitive but there may have been some idea-defense strategies in place, serious architectural debates and some creative use of fruit leather....
Another afternoon of good clean fun.

Team M:
Note the fruit leather chimney complete with twist-tie smoke....

Team H:
Fruit leather bricks on the path.... Sister was displeased that the kit did NOT contain pieces for a three-dimensional chimney. She promptly stole Dad's chimney and dissected the gingerbread man in order to create the other two sides. (Oooohhhh nOooooo, not the gumdrop buttons!!!)

Team Carly:
A license plate (HOH OHO), taillights and a Chev logo. Inside joke here - the cookies were attached to each other and when I went to separate them, they got a bit crushed. So I made a remark about how I must have been driving. Hence the Chev logo. No winners were declared but I think it's pretty obvious, don't you?? Heehee.

Nostalgia ran amuck this weekend. And in days of yore, when one of the women in our large bunch of matriarchs was making buns, we children were given a chunk of dough in order to make a BunMan. It took us many years to learn that finer details were obscured by the final rise but we tried, time and again, to convey the true essence of our creations. This time, I skipped the raisin face.

Look like anyone you know?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Canadian Christmas Cookie Recipe

A few weeks ago, my mother participated in one of those email recipe exchanges....

This was one of the recipes she received in return! Enjoy!!

Christmas Cookie Recipe

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Crown Royal Whiskey

- Sample the Crown Royal to check quality.

- Take a large bowl, check the Crown Royal again, to be sure it is of the
highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

- Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy

- Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again.

- At this point it's best to make sure the Crown Royal is still OK, try
another cup.. just in case.

- Turn off the mixer thingy.

- Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

- Pick the frigging fruit off floor...

- Mix on the turner.

- If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a

- Sample the Crown Royal to check for tonsisticity.

- Next, sift two cups of salt, or something.... who giveshz a sheet.

- Check the Crown Royal.

- Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

- Add one table.

- Add a spoon of ar, or somefink.... whatever you can find.

- Greash the oven.

- Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

- Don't forget to beat off the turner.

- Finally, throw the bowl through the window.

- Finish the bottle of Crown Royal.

- Make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

Cherry Mistmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Listen and learn, Grasshopper

I had a meeting yesterday and now that it seems things are rolling in the right direction, I'm inclined to share.

I am headed back to school and getting my Bachelor of Education degree.

I want to teach. I want to inspire. I want to be inspired. I want to be surrounded everyday by opportunities to learn and to help others find those moments. I want to be a positive influence. I want to see through as many eyes as possible. I want to be kept young and made to feel old at the same time.

I am passionate, driven, motivated, and patient. I am able to command attention. (Someone just choked on her coffee, right A.D?) I am contagious in my enthusiasm. I am a naive idealist. In other words, I am completely out of my mind.

It was not a decision made lightly. In fact, it has taken me ten years to do it. I needed to be sure. I needed to know that I was doing it for the right reasons. I hated those teachers that were only three years older than me who had never experienced anything beyond their own formal education. I hated those people who didn't know what they wanted or didn't really care what they did and chose teaching so they'd have summers off, people who took drama as a fine art elective because they thought it would be easy. Those people whined when it was more than putting on a silly hat and saying "doth" a lot. They still irk me. And their students deserved someone who wanted to be there, who wanted to teach them, who wanted to hear them, instead of just themselves. Being there for the wrong reasons wasn't an option for me. Teaching is a vocation. Teenagers are incredible people with incredible ideas and helping them learn how to think (not telling them, but guiding them to think for themselves) is an incredible responsibility.

Now, I have lived a bit, traveled a bit, and have been searching a whole lot. I am an actor and a writer. And I need something more. I need to feel I'm making a contribution. People find their niche in all sorts of places.

But when I made the decision on this place, I heard the click. And the support coming in has been amazing! When I tell people, they, of course, say "Good for you." Then they stop to think for a moment before adding, "You'd be a great teacher," as though, they hadn't thought about it before but it makes sense. And that's exactly what I need to believe. (If you think I'll be terrible, please don't tell me just yet.... :-)

The meeting was good - I had made sure that I had the classes I would need to get into Education before I left school - so the track to a second degree is much shorter for me come September and admission shouldn't be difficult. This time two years from now, I could be a certified teacher of Drama and English and Russian.

I could also be screaming, "Stop it. STOP IT. I don't care. Get on the bus. GET. ON. THE. BUS."

But, hey, at least I'll get summers off. :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Too cold to be clever with a title. :-)

That's a glance at the weather here for you. I snapped it on Tuesday just before sunset. As much as the cold can be bitter, there is something sublime about frost that lingers thickly whether the sun shines or no'.

I love the cold and frost and simple beauty of winter so I'm not really lamenting about it. I'd much rather have -30 than +30. Thirty above makes me cranky. Thirty below makes me crafty. (If the temperatures seem weird, you are suffering from Fahrenheit syndrome - think in Celsius...)

Despite the chill, we had a very large crowd for our Soaps Christmas improv show last night. Thank you to anyone who braved the weather and the humour.

Happy Hanukkah, if you celebrate it! Happy Saturday, if you don't.

I have finished a few projects this week and regretfully cannot share them. Gifts are gifts and should remain surprises. Sister only pops by every few weeks, but with my luck, if I showed off what I've made her for Christmas, she'll read it today. :-)

Thank you to AmberLee of Giver's Log for mentioning me and the shop yesterday and for the lovely compliments! You have no idea how much simple joy your blog brings to me. A giver's list of ideas is a gift in itself! (Trouble is, you find all this cool stuff that I want for me... :-) Everyone else - go check it out.

Well, after a week of getting up in the dark at a quarter after "why the hell am I awake" and then coming home in the dark, I was looking forward to a good, solid, teen-style sleep-in until the sun was shining gloriously but my eyes popped open at 8am. So I'll try to be useful and productive instead.

It's a good way to keep warm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Believe...

...that Sundogs are an incredibly beautiful indicator of how very cold it is even if they are incredibly difficult to photograph well...

...that the person who invented the KitchenAid stand mixer deserves the same high praise in my book as James Dyson...

...that family is one of the truly important things in life if you are lucky enough to have one or a group of people that you consider family...

...that perfectly smooth frosting should be reserved for weddings and business functions...

...that a cake baked for someone you love is twice as sweet and has half the calories...

...that Feliz Cumpleanos is way more festive than saying Happy Birthday...

...and that she who baked it has the right of first refusal on licking the spatula.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Six of one, a full dozen of the other...

Yesterday morning, I was in a hurry. I still had several little birds to hand-finish as a birthday gift for Sister before family-double-birthday-dinner-out at 5:30 (Father's is Tuesday). I had tried several times to accomplish this apparently simple task several times throughout the week and had been thwarted - yes, thwarted! - repeatedly. I thought I had them well in hand (so to speak) on Thursday night, enlisting borrowed fingers for stuffing when Sister arrives unexpectedly and there was a mad scramble to conceal the evidence and the smug and untrue accusation that I was a Survivor-watcher....

Luckily, yesterday morning, I was blessed with a solid uninterrupted hour during which to finish and package the ornaments. I mused about having a little sister and that she was getting older and that made me even older than that. I gave myself a good hard giggle when a line from The Three Amigos popped into my head: "Sew, very old one. Sew like the wind!" It was followed by Steve Martin doing his birdcall: "Caw! Caw! Lookuphere, lookuphere!" Why is that movie so very funny to me? I imagine it has to do with precious childhood and days when we were small. Sister does the best "Lookuphere" of anyone I know.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I marvelled at the time I now had to take a shower and eat my brain with a couple hours of a mindless computer game I hadn't played in ages. I could've gotten a jump on some other sewing projects for Christmas but I needed a sewing break.

Because if I'm honest, these birds kicked my ass a little bit. They looked simple enough. BUT I did learn and hone the technique for making them with almost every step. Poignant lessons such as: Small curves need short stitch length and anyone who says that a 3/4" strip can yield 1/2" bias tape is lying to you! Use the full inch. Three-quarters yields burnt fingers, blue-streaked air and semi-useless, mangled 3/4" strips of fabric scraps. A vicious horrible lie.

Like low-fat cheese. [Full body shudder complete with blecch face.]

*Pattern for birds with wings can be found on The Purl Bee. The other birds were found in Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts - written, conveniently, by the talented Joelle Hoverson, who owns Purl, where I would like to visit provided I had some money because I KNOW I would not leave there empty-handed, even if she lies viciously about bias tape. (She has a yarn shop, too. Swoon.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Featured on the Best of Etsy!!

That's right! My mittens were featured today on Mireio Designs with some other very awesome stuff for holiday giving! You can check it out here.

Plus, you should visit Mireio's shop, especially if you haven't finished your shopping. The acorn sachets are soooo very cute and her pillows are the jam. (Jam: noun - meaning: the best part of the doughnut.)

Thank you for the mention, Wende!!

The bleak month of November (which has historically been unkind to me for several years) is OVER and December is starting off with a bang: new job that I actually love, we finally have snow, my car is NOT a write-off, wonderful and supportive friends and family, and an advisor meeting booked for that good news that I haven't actually spilled about yet. :-) Soon.

And if you love free stuff, there is a plethora (yes, a plethora) of giveaways all linked at Sew Mama Sew.

Now - if you've read all that - have a fabulous Wednesday and treat yourself to: a) a dish of ice cream, b) a half-hour alone time with a good book, c) a snuggle with your favourite mammal (human/four-legged) or d) all of the above!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Someone's suffering from attention deficit...

Me: Get out of here.
My original Laptop: Pet me.
Me: Shoo!
Original laptop: I SAID ... Pet. Me.