A Special Announcement

I used the Dice Roller since there were six entrants in our big give, and a four was rolled. That means that Kathryn won! She suggested:

I think the blog at sewmamasew is doing their month of gift thing again this year. There were so many great ideas last year. http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/

I had forgotten about the Sew Mama Sew month of gifts in December! Kathryn, please email me at corazenia(at)hotmail(dot).com with your address, and I will get that Gratitude Wrap out to you pronto!

Here's an oldie that I found on my computer at work. You gots to love a little wizard-y witch and her sidekick Tigger. Happy Halloween, everyone!


Random Facts Meme

I’ve been tagged by Robyn for a Random Facts Meme. Holy moley, I could have gone crazy with totally random facts about myself. If there’s anything I am, it is random.

Here are the rules: Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post. Let each person know he or she has been tagged. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Random Facts About Me

:: I only run for the bus, and even then, I leave really flippin’ early so that running is prevented. This goes with my golden rule to never, not ever pet a porcupine.

:: I have spelling and grammar skills up the wazoo. In Grade 5, I came in second in my county spelling bee only because I spelled Celsius with a little c. I was rewarded with Chinese food, but I have NEVER made that mistake again. I also feel huge pangs of guilt when I end sentences with prepositions, and I don’t use commas unless I can connect it to a rule in my Gregg Reference Manual. I have fought grammar wars with this office ‘bible’. My edition is riddled with highlighter and there are a gazillion self-inflicted coloured tabs to mark the really important stuff. My co-workers don’t get it.

:: I love to eat as if I am a vegetarian, but I am not a vegetarian and can’t fathom giving up meat. When eating out, I order strictly vegetarian meals. I also LOVE bran muffins, and can eat up to ten a day if I had the resources. No, I do not have issues with my bowels.

:: I dance wildly around my house with the music blaring when no one is home. I think I inherited this from my father. Once, in high school, I popped home for some toilet paper for a bush party (y’all brought your own TP, right?), and it was a Saturday afternoon, and my dad was home all by himself, and the music was really loud, and I caught him dancing in the basement. We never spoke of it again.

:: I am too lazy to bring all my clothes up to my bedroom from the laundry room. J installed rods and some shelving in the laundry room, and my clothes all stay in the basement hung up or in piles. In my defence, I shower in the basement, and my bedroom has a giant picture window facing all the houses in the neighbourhood, so it makes sense for me to dress in the basement, fresh from the shower and where all the clothes are located. Silliness aside, I do bring up all the girls’ clothes, and they are placed neatly in their drawers for the most part. Some frequent spillage does occur.

:: I am not married. J and I have been living common-law for almost 14 years. I have a million and one reasons to not get married, and maybe three reasons to seal the deal in front of our family and friends. This has never bothered either of us as neither of us want to dance in front of anyone. Secretly, I am a little thrilled that this shocks people. I think that people sometimes assume my children have different fathers because of the nearly seven years between them and the fact that I am not married, but J and I never wanted people to say that we married just because we had kids. We’re rebels. Maybe one day when everyone least expects it, we’ll pop into City Hall and make it official and shock their pants off. This does not mean, in any way, that I don’t love me a good ol’ wedding invitation. Other people’s weddings are fun because I don’t have to plan it or pay for it – and the food!! Mmmm . . . the food.

That was fun!

The Finest of the Flavours

So my pound of organic Tahitian vanilla beans arrived by mail last week. Mr. T just rolls his eyes whenever another package arrives for me (but secretly he is happy because he benefits from the goodies that get made by said packages). As someone who bakes a lot I go through a lot of vanilla extract and it gets expensive. I came up with the idea of making my own from the Instructables site and really, isn't homemade always better?

Hmmm, what to do with the rest of that vodka?

Eight weeks and I'll have vanilla that lasts indefinitely (you keep topping off the jars with vodka as you use it).

Ok, so vanilla not your thing? How about winning something totally cute and handmade from our very own N of London, not England? Don't forget to check out this post and leave us your ideas for inexpensive and quick to make holiday gifts and you'll automatically be entered to win a gratitude wrap. The winner will be announced this Friday! Bonne chance mes amis!

C'est L'Halloween Again

I'm a sucker for punishment. The littlest and her friends had such a fun time at last year's boo bash that I felt compelled to bend over backwards to plan a repeat performance. I pulled a few new tricks from up my sleeve. Witches' hats made out of Pillsbury crescent rolls brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, cardstock skeleton bones ready to be attached with tiny brass brads, and a spiderweb vanilla cake topped with a strawberry jelly spider. That was just for starters.
For two hours, four little girls swooned and danced around a sullen Darth Vader. He defiantly remained in character throughout the party, and subsequently kept us in stitches. He fumed and stomped and answered questions about being tricked into going over to the dark side and loving his saber. He did not dance to La Bamba, and he asked for water to 'avoid dehydrating'. He's definitely invited back next year. That was awesome!

The Big Give

I mentioned before that my friend Jane and I made FOUR gratitude wraps, and well, I can crank note cards out my butt, so T and I thought one filled up gratitude wrap would be an appropriate gift to say thanks for popping into our little old blog and being so nice. The wrap is exactly the same as T's, but I might switch up the note cards a bit. We'll throw in some pens - maybe Kata can help us pick a couple - and some stamps because you gots to have stamps to mail your thank-you and thinking-of-you cards. You just do.

T and I haven't begun our Christmas crafting, and we're getting anxious, and you's all have lots of good ideas. So leave a comment with your quick and cheap Christmas crafty gift ideas between now and Thursday at midnight my time (What is my time? Anyone know what London, Ontario time is called?) to be entered into the draw. We'll google up one of those random number generators and reveal the winner's name on Friday.



Classic Mittens and Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Maybe I am a bit tired of knitting socks and scarves. Or maybe I just needed to switch it up a bit. I haven't knit many pairs of mittens. I find them fussy. I am amazed how some people just crank out dozens without a second thought. I am even more amazed when they give them away to charities as if it was nothing. Mittens are work for me - all the shaping, following the pattern, counting rows, knitting thumbs, and doing it TWICE! Well, I came along a mitten pattern in Weekend Knitting, and it had very minimal shaping, and I figured I would knit the first to fit my hand, and the second, to match the first. I used some of my Briggs & Little wool that I scored at the KW Knitters Fair, and I am happy enough. I think the wool might have been too heavy, therefore making the mitten a bit too roomy width-wise for my hand, but easy? This pattern was easy to do away with the book for a good part of my knitting. Holla.

I've been trolling around the Crafty Crow blog for Halloween crafts and activities, and I couldn't resist whipping up a Chocolate Cake in a Mug. Do you have 5 minutes? Flip. Go make one for yourself. You deserve it.
Speaking of good things and a worthy audience, T and I are concocting a little giveaway to just say THANKS. We've been at this blog nearly two years now. We started this space to keep in touch and continue to inspire each other, but it means so much more than that. For me, I find myself reflecting on my days - how they're spent, what's most important, and seeing the beauty in things that would normally go unnoticed. It's not just writing the blog, but reading other blogs. My bloglines has replaced my daily dose of 'real' news. I find myself trying to be a better parent, a better partner, a better friend, a better person. Blah, blah, blah . . . Seriously back to the giveaway - be on the lookout. Maybe Monday? What better way to start a new week. Please come back. I think you will like what you see. :)

One Click Shopping

Can you believe that I have extra time on my hands? So much time in fact, that while Mr. T was out last night at class, I bought a pound of organic Tahitian vanilla beans on eBay and paid for my other recently acquired auction item, 2.5mm Addi Turbos for $2.99. What a deal! And having a PayPal account sure makes buying things easier. Too easy.

What does one do with a pound of organic Tahitian vanilla beans you may ask. Well, anything and everything. Stay tuned.

My mom brought these very cool vintage knitting pattern booklets with her when she came for the wedding.I especially like the "Beehive Style Sets for Men". Now if only I could get Mr.T to wear something other than grey sport socks.

Back on the Horse

Greetings! Ah, it's good to be back. The wedding turned out to be all that Mr. T and I were hoping for and more. It truly was a fairytale wedding and we felt so blessed to have all of our loved ones there with us. I must give a shout out to Mr. T's parents and my (somewhat) new parents-in-laws for making our wedding dreams come true. We do love you both and can't wait to see you in Toronto next month!

I must admit that for the first few days after the wedding I experienced wedding withdraw. There were no vendor meetings, I didn't have thirty emails in my box, there were no last minute changes to make, and those little cream coloured RSVP envelopes stopped coming in the mail. I did not know what to do with myself.

Luckily I am a knitter and as soon as the laundry was finished and the wedding gifts were unwrapped I pulled out the three balls of silk Berger du Nord and casted on for this scarf. I'm not sure who it will be for but already I can tell that the drape is fantastic.

N, thanks again for spending a total of 40 hours of your life transporting yourself to our wedding. Mr. T and I had so much fun and I know that I've never laughed that much in a Target store before. You're a real keeper. And I've already used your lovely gift to send a card off to our pastry chef. I shall keep B's chicken dinner card for someone who is worthy.

Simple Gifts

I enlisted some of my talented co-workers who also have had the pleasure of working with T to help me with her wedding gift. The gift had to be handmade - that was a given. Surprisingly, there was no knitting! Four lattes, eight cats, a glass of wine, five phone calls, two slices of buttered cheesy toast, and three hours later, Jane and I had sewed up four gratitude wraps 'sans' binding. We made four wraps so we would have room for three errors. To be honest, Jane did all the sewing, and I cut, ironed, and pinned. I am a Grade A assistant - just ask Jane.

I then drove across the city to chill with Heidi and baby Andile where we stamped a gazillion note cards. Good times. Heidi was a pro stamping cards with one hand and holding onto Andile with the other. That's no easy feat as he is one chubby bubby!

How 'bout a toast to good friends?


Home Sweet Home

I'm back in London-not-England, and it feels good to be home. I scooped up B in my arms as soon as she got home from school, and that kid talked for four hours straight. Apparently I missed some good times at 'Gramma and Grampa's'. I just sat there and soaked it all in. I had the most fun in Minneapolis with T and all her family and friends, but I am a mum, and without the girls to drag around behind me everywhere, I feel a bit amiss. T pulled me aside at the wedding reception and told me she felt very honoured that I would make my way halfway across the country to be with her on her special day, and that was when it was made apparent that I don't leave my house very easily. I guess it's true. I like my comfy white sofa and my yellow curry door and my chocolate brown bedroom. The girls are the same. We're homebodies. We would really appreciate if the world would just come to us. All the same, T rewarded me for this long journey with the perfect necklace. I haven't taken it off since I returned - except for bed.

Shockingly, the crafting began shortly after my first dinner home - invitation cards for our second annual Halloween party. We are hooked on Ed Emberley drawing books, and currently we have nearly every single one out on loan from the library - that's a lot of drawing books! We used The Big Orange Drawing Book for the spider.

Thanks to T's hawk eyes, I grabbed up some of these zit-licious Zit Poppers at Target for the party. The girls were equally thrilled and grossed out. I am now the coolest mum ever!

I've got some planning to do! And decorating! Sweet.


Go Forth and Explore

Sunday morning at 8 a.m. (I had to wait until it was light outside), I went for a walk to the Farmers Market.
On my half an hour walk to the market, I saw one man. He peed on a tree while keeping eye contact with me. I am a competitor at heart, and I, too, kept my eyes locked with his, and at the same time attempted to appear non-chalant. I held my breath as I passed him, and he zipped up. I don't think I breathed again for about a block. If that was some sort of test, I hope I passed. By the way, the tree above was not the tree with pee.I have had the pleasure of passing this garden each day so far, and I am glad I was able to get a decent picture. Below the garden was a cozy Italian restaurant smells wonderfully delicious. I wish I had had the nerve to eat by myself. I'm kicking myself in the butt for not going in and gorging out on pasta and cappucinos!
How can one not enjoy a walk when the buildings are covered in wonderful art?

I was too in awe while browsing the Farmers Market, and I only took one picture of the fall bouquets - I picked up one for T. I have NEVER in my life seen so many tomatoes, peppers and onions in every colour under the sun. It was insane.
Here's the Basilica recovering from the wedding the day before. It was still standing. Can you believe that T has the privilege of attending Sunday mass here every week? I'm not Catholic, but this could convert a person easily.
Some very thoughtful and creative soul decorated the crosswalk sign. Sweet.
This was the view from the wedding suite - I got a peek while they were checking out yesterday. It was breath-taking.
Later, the T's took a bunch of us for a driving tour of the City, and we stopped at Lake Harriet and took more pictures. There were lots of sailboats out, bicycles zooming by, and families out strolling around the lake.

I only have one regret about this day. I forgot to go back to the booth that was selling Obama buttons for a dollar. That's today's goal. And maybe some yarn shopping!



Wedding Bells

I may have slummed it down to Minneapolis on the Greyhound, but I went all out on my accomodations! I just had to take a picture of the room - I have actually been caught referring to it as 'home'. :)
This one is for all the non-believers that I truly wore my hair down at T's request, and get this! I blew dry it all by myself. That's right. Truth is, I was too afraid to go down to the salon. Apparently when push comes to shove, I can churn out a fairly good 'do. I can NOT take a good picture of myself however. The bride and groom looked spectacular, and everyone was crying all over again.
It was the perfect day for a wedding. The sun was out, and it was very warm. Absolutely everything was perfect. Congratulations, boy-T and girl-T!

Next up: Me wandering around the City in which I discover that people pee on trees everywhere in the world.


Vietnamese Tea Ceremony

"Ugly Vietnamese Shoes" as declared by T. I couldn't disagree so I remained somewhat silent. I probably made it worse by trying to get a good picture of them. Unfortunately they were hidden beneath her beautifully intricrate Vietnamese dress. T absolutely sparkled.
Her sister styled her hair in what could be appropriately described as Vietnamese too. I was blown away by this family's skills. Don't get me started on the FOOD!!
While T was upstairs deep-frying the last of the spring rolls, the groom's family handed over gifts for the bride's family (I got to be one of them!!). I was bursting from pride and a little anxiety over getting it just right, but I didn't have to worry - her sisters had me covered.
T's dad gave us the history of the tea ceremony, and T was presented to the groom's family, and everyone got a tad teary. She looked amazing as always. Gifts were opened and introductions were made. And the parents clinked their tea cups, and it was official. Everyone was one family! It was BRILLIANT!

T's little niece kept exclaiming "Wedding!". Right on. Today is the big ceremony at the Basilica. I should really get ready. I have just three hours to dress and get all ready. Are you ready for more pictures?? I almost don't miss the girls. I am subsiding on cheeky emails from E. That girl is hilarious and smart as a whip. How did that happen?



Junior Photographer

A couple of weeks ago while on a secret mission, I relinquished the prized camera to the littlest in the hopes that she could keep herself amused, so that I could semi-accomplish a project under the radar. I kept a close eye on her from inside the house, and she appeared to be shooting upwards and downwards in a rapid zig-zaggy fashion. I could only hope that we would have some memorable random pictures of clouds and dirt. I got that and more.

:: Clouds and faint telephone lines
:: Bricks

:: A sister who thought she was well-hidden from the junior photographer . . . and my two favourite shots . . .

:: Bird feeders

I'm adding these to my 'bird' collection!

And in other news, the eyebrows have been waxed and tweaked. An outift befitting of a wedding has been found. Family health cards and library cards (both equal in importance) have been separated and stored safely for our brief time apart. The wedding gift is in progress, and I am thrilled with how it's all coming together! Next step: Plan travel knitting - will need patterns, needles and yarn. I have lots of each. I just need to organize it, so that it is light-weight, compact and efficient - not to mention reasonable. I am thinking socks and mittens.


Instant Gratification Shawl

Seven days of knitting, and I was wearing the shawl to work. It's very toasty, and although not everyone would agree that it is super soft, I think it's just cozy enough. I used up four balls of Plymouth Boku and a 6mm circular needle. This was easy to travel with to ballet classes and hair cuts. I even smuggled it into a Legal Aspects of Nonprofits workshop. I guess I best be getting back to the Woodland Shawl -surprisingly it isn't showing signs of neglect as I am on the third and last skein of Loeut Gems fingering-weight superwash wool. It's all good.

I must get packing. I am going on a big trip. Big for me, anyway. It's T's wedding in less than two weeks, and I know that both of us are anxious in our own ways. I've never been away from my little family for nearly a week, let alone a 20-hour drive between us. But the excitement in seeing T and sharing this special time with her will be well worth the temporary separation. My parents will be helping J with the girls, so I know they are in good hands. :) Get ready for the Balkan Style reunion! I'm fervently working on a music request list for the reception. Something along the lines of some JT and Fergie and sprinkled with a little Hawksley. Or what if we all sing drunkedly to this? Oh, it's gonna be sweet!