A Recap of Sorts




I see lots more prettiness ahead.

I just finished reading Twilight, and El is quite proud of me. I agree with the rest of the world that the book is ridiculously addictive and fast to read and most difficult to put down, but it seriously makes me want to scream and pull my hair out all the same. I guess you just have to read it. I don't know if this review I read AGES ago tainted my opinion of the writing, or whether I would have easily come to that conclusion on my own. I'd like to think that I am that perceptive.

I can't believe another year has gone by. I feel all sappy and cheesy all of a sudden. What am I going to make out of 2009? I have ideas. Dear sewing machine, I promise that I will dust you off and USE you. That reminds me - I must remember to send myself a Christmas card from the photocopier next year and pretend to be shocked and thrilled when I open it in front of everyone. Please don't let me forget. As soon as I publish this post, I am emailing myself at work to add that to my Outlook calendar. Yis. Good plan.

Happy New Year, friends. Eat and be merry. And knit lots. Here's to you!

N

Little Extravagances

:: tea parties

:: reading this book

:: reclaiming the space previously taken up with a tree and all the trimmings

:: eating leftovers

:: watching Prince Caspian over and over

:: knitting at a non-hectic and non-panicky pace

:: laundering the bedding properly

:: family in good health despite the germy atmosphere pre-Noel

:: Sequence




I hope everyone is snuggled in and finding time for the fun little extravagances, whatever they may be.

N

Orange & Pink Crush

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!
My most favourite Christmas gift were a set of six origami parrot ornaments folded expertly by El. She also lent me her Twilight book, so I can be as cool as the rest of the world. Woo-hoo!
B got this really fabulous jar of pop beads from the in-laws, and she hasn't stopped playing with it since Christmas Eve. When she's not making beautiful bracelets, rings and necklaces, she's been popping together families of colourful snakes. There are babies, mommas, poppas, sistas, and bruthas.

I spent the rest of my Christmas afternoon finishing off this slouchy beret. Easy and pretty.

Erica Bear got this 'new' dress for Christmas, and I think she looks absolutely lovely. I took an old baby skirt and threw on some buttons and ribbons and voila! A dress.

Speaking of loveliness, B was our Christmas princess. The orange snowmaggedon shrug fit her perfectly, and she AGREED to wear it! I was over-the-moon thrilled! In fact I see an orange and pink theme here. Weird how those things happen.

Overall, it was a perfect Christmas. Both girls were happy with their handmade and recycled gifts as were J and I! We spent the day lounging about, and our dinner was simply soup from scratch and a warm cheesy quiche. We actually have the big festivities with family this afternoon. The girls are looking forward to more gifts and playing with their cousins. I'm looking forward to turkey and all the fixin's. MMmmm . . .
N

Not a Creature was Stirring

Except for a sock monkey. Merry Christmas to all and from our house to yours, may the new year bring much health and happiness.

Eight Dancing Princesses & A Fairy

She was going for 12, but had only 8 stickers. I am head over heels in love with the princes and the fairy buzzing around up top.

Have you seen this tutorial? It's crazy addictive, and if you are sick of the magazine Christmas trees, try using up your magazines this way. Origami wreaths - perfect for slapping on top of a gift or throwing into a card.


Found my addi turbos (after I dashed out to Michaels for a pair of Susan Bates Velocity circs which are incredibly equal to addis in every way!), and I resumed churning out mittens.


And because I have a 12-year old who whines horribly when I am baking shortbread snowballs, I have probably baked a dozen batches of these so far. They disappear faster than I can make them. I have stocked up on bricks of butter like it's going out of style. This is all T's fault.


Back to the sewing machine. Ugh. I love the finished product when sewing, but I really dislike the whole process. That machine is going back to storage after the holidays. I swear to Todd it's jeering at me from the corner of the dining room.


4 more days to go,

N



Snowmaggedon

I think I'm repeating myself when I say there's nothing better than shacking up inside all day cozy and warm while the snow blusters all around us. I'm feeling equally justified about blowing the Snowmaggedon horn yesterday to anyone who would listen. I've never heard such laughter. I do like to say Snowmaggedon. It's catchy. Snowmaggedon is a GIFT! Last minute knitting is getting accomplished. I baked a yummy simple quiche. Later, the girls and I will bake more apple & pear crisp. Hey, want my quiche recipe? It's really easy.

Basic Quiche

1 store-bought pie shell
1-1/2 cups of cream
3 eggs
pepper
salt
nutmeg
shredded cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In the pie shell, toss the shredded cheese (this is the time to add bacon, ham, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc.). Whip up the cream, eggs and seasonings in a separate bowl (I have a handy dandy shakey thingee), and then pour over your quiche fixings into the pie shell. Stick it in the oven for nearly an hour. Remove it from the oven, and let it set for about five minutes. Enjoy!

I started this little shrug ages ago, and I picked it up from the mountain of discarded projects, and I finished it in an hour. Thank you, Snowmaggedon. It will fit B perfectly! I just hope she wears it.
My mum came over after work one night this week, and while our tomato soup from scratch simmered, we beaded 11 pairs of earrings. This, my friends, is truly addictive. And fun for the whole family. When I say 'we' beaded, I mean little B beaded and my mum crimped while I shouted out orders like, "Those two beads with that little bauble in this exact order!!" and "Could you go any faster???". Okay, maybe not that militant, but I didn't really do much but watch the soup simmer. As B would say, "Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy."
Happy Friday!

N

Git yer' Molasses Crinkles


By popular demand, I present to you, my recipe for Molasses Crinkles.


Molasses Crinkles

2 tbsp butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp salt
Extra sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, butter, molasses, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir until well blended and smooth.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt; add to the molasses mixture and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.

Roll dough into 1” – 1 ½” balls and roll the balls in sugar to coat. Place about 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake 12 – 14 minutes until just set around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool or serve warm. Store extras in an airtight container or freeze.

Makes 20 cookies.

It's Business Time

Somehow my gingerbread men turned into gingerbread-business men. See the too small ties? See the bald heads? See the unhappy frowns? So they're not too festive but they sure are funny. I also made some "normal" ones but every year I throw in some creative gingerbread people, like the rappers that I did one year (sorry, no pictures).

Over the weekend Mr.T and I went downtown to see the Hollidazzle parade. It was as warm as it was going to get in awhile so we bundled up, filled a thermos with hot chocolate (and shhhh, Kalua) and found a spot amongst the throngs on Nicollet Mall. It was, as advertised, dazzling. Our favourite were the humongous Christmas bulbs.
Here comes Santa Clause! The picture is blurry due to my excitement to see the man in red. I've been really good this year!

A Plea

Hey!

Remember the magazine Christmas tree I made a few weeks back? Well, Kat told me about this contest, and I submitted it, and now y’all gots to vote! I’d love it if you voted for me, but I’m all for fairness. Just vote because you all get a chance to be a winner just by voting. Maybe we’ll both win!! Wouldn’t that be sweet?

A vote for me is a vote for peace, I mean, fleece.

N

Certificate of Incompletion

I lost my favourite 4mm long Addi Turbo circular needle. It's rather hard to concentrate on anything else. There are mittens to be knit!!

The tree is up and decorated. The boxes and tissue paper are strewn all over the dining room table still. You just have to keep your eyes in the direction of the tree and ignore all the mess in the perimeters. I baked up a storm last Sunday, and within two days, all the goodies were gone. Luckily I prepared two big balls of cookie dough and stored them in the back of the fridge in advance, so I can have fresh holiday goodies ready within any given hour. It’s taken me years to get this good. I do wonder though, how a grumbly sick man can eat an entire batch of chocolate chip almond biscotti in four days. I found this incredibly odd considering he wouldn't drink coffee all week and moaned about everything and anything, yet ate these rock hard cookies that were meant to dip in coffee. Am I the only one that thinks this is criminal?

People are falling ill all around me. The ladies in the office are looking frighteningly mad, and J has been popping Advil Cold & Sinus pills and washing them down with spoonfuls of Buckleys. It’s only a matter of time that this virus attacks me and the girls. I know my immune system is one of beauty – it’ll take something strong to take me down. Frankly I am surprised that B is still standing. That kid picks up everything and anything. She has taken to hiding from me when I get home because I poke and prod the crap out of her and give her the third degree to see how she’s holding up being in the centre of this festering cesspit of nasty germs.

My stomache was beginning to hurt, but mysteriously stopped once I left the office. If I am going to get sick, I need it to happen asap. I think it’s best to get this over now rather than spend my holidays in the fetus position on the floor beside the toilet. Bring it on.

N

She's making a list

And it is growing fast. Does anyone know where to get toys from the Happy Feet movie? I just spent this afternoon searching the toy stores of this city for penguin toys and came home empty handed. The search continues online.

Back to the list! There's this to seam up...And this to complete...
And sock monkey appendages to sew on.How sad/funny/slightly scary.

Plus a hat that has not even been started yet for our neighbour's daughter and felted slippers that were promised but will have to wait until after the holidays. Whew! Back to work....

The Birth of Ninja Jesus

It doesn’t feel like I am getting a heck of a lot accomplished, but I just looked at my handmade holiday to-do list, and I crossed off a fair amount. Good.

My sewing machine has been giving me hassle, so I have been loathe to get it out. Unfortunately I can not possibly knit everything on my list. I very much hope that my mum can come over and guide me through some jewellery making. I picture very simple drop earrings – maybe a clear oval bead on a pin? Or bright opaque rounded rectangles? We’ll see how that goes.

I had every intention of posting a tutorial on sewing a robe out of a sheet, but I don’t know if it is meant to be. First off, I found an old stained flannel bedsheet that was heading to the trash, and I cut it up like my hippy vintage sewing book said. I made the robe too long, chose not to add a hood, and my sleeves turned out really skinny. Well, the sewing part was easy. Getting a pre-teen to wear it was another story. So I adopted the sad, stained too-long robe, and it’s warm, but it makes me look a little discipley. I had to hold it closed a good deal of the time, so I started using a black knitted belt from a sweater that went missing. And that’s pretty much how I came to be known as Ninja Jesus. The girls think nothing of asking me to bless their bagels before I karate-chop and toast them. Oh yeah, it’s super hilarious. And no, I am not posting any pictures. I can chalk it all off to not paying enough attention to the pattern and choosing a gross bedsheet. Here’s to hoping the next one is nicer.

The concerts, potlucks and traditions are filling up our evenings, and so far, I have managed to keep up with the pace. Last night was B’s first Concert des FĂȘtes, and she sang beautifully, looked absolutely precious, and enjoyed herself to no end. The little boy she stood beside was in tears because he couldn’t find his parents in the massive crowd. B tried to console him and said, “Don’t cry. I found MY mum and dad.” Her intentions were the best – she saw us and felt good and couldn’t imagine anyone being sad after having the pleasure of seeing us as well. (shrug) I’m just trying to spread cheer one kid at a time.
I mistakenly clicked on this youtube video last night just before I headed to bed. Bad idea. I hope you’re all reading this in the morning, so you have time to shake it off. Or for heaven’s sake, just trust me and skip it entirely. I don’t think I’ll be going to see this movie or borrowing it from the library. Do you think the library would even have it? Eek! I'm scared.

Fifteen days and counting,
N

Everyone Sits on Santa Rule

Yesterday the girls and I drove around southwestern Ontario in the most treacherous weather for multiple holiday gatherings. We're pooped today. There's even more snow today, so it would seem that we are to be gratefully stuck at home. That's just fine with us because there is a ton of baking and cleaning and making to do. Am I always saying that? Probably. But it's true.

Oh, but first, I have FUNNY stories to tell. Well, they're funny to us. Where should I start? Oh, I know.

Our first stop was a very Baptist Chinese lunch with the in-laws. Keep in mind that the father of my children was sleeping (rightly so as he had worked all night, but never-the-less, he was absent), and this was HIS family gathering. Ten of us showed up due to weather and previous commitments like sleeping and such, and there was enough Chinese food to feed a small army. I've never seen that much Chinese food. Just saying. I encouraged the girls to eat as much as possible since the next stop's buffet would literally be untouchable.

As we sat to scarf down a plate of chicken balls, J's uncle bellowed out, "NOW I know who you look like! (pointing at me) You look EXACTLY like Monica!" The room went quiet as everyone tried to think who Monica was. I don't know J's family at all, and he was looking at me as if I knew who Monica was, so I thought long and hard about the Monicas I knew. This was serious and deserved a very serious answer. These Baptists are not jokers. After the longest pause, I blurted out desperately, "From Friends???" It wasn't pretty, folks. First off, the only thing Monica Geller and I have in common is dark brown hair. Without missing a beat, Uncle Ed disgustingly shook his head. I think he may have sneered when he hissed, "No." I also think El may have choked on a mouthful of chicken fried rice. Even I wanted to fall on the floor laughing. The next ten minutes were spent describing Baptist Monica to no avail. It was useless. No one knew who she was. Needless to say, El called me Monica for the rest of the day, and I kept explaining to the family at the next dinner that they might recognize me from NBC's hit show Friends. I played Monica Geller. We got a lot of quizzical looks. My family is used to this. They think I'm off my rocker anyway.

Next party: This story begins with me pouring myself a nice big cup of hot coffee. I like my coffee with a little cream and a tiny bit of sugar. As I stirred my coffee, El ran up to me breathlessly (this is unusual because this kid NEVER runs!), and still panting, she spits out, "Don't drink it!". I smiled at a second cousin who was also pouring herself a cup of sugar and cream with a little bit of coffee, and together we scoffed at this silliness. I patted El on the back and reassured her that the little black bits in the sugar were simply coffee grinds and would hurt us none. It was simply adding a little flavor. El looked confused and walked back defeated to the table where we were sitting. I quickly forgot about this and chatted up some more family before returning to the table.

As soon as I sat down, El and my gazelle-cousin inquired a little too curiously whether I had drank any of my coffee yet. I noted that I hadn't. My coffee was still too hot to drink. That's when they let the cat out of the bag. Apparently they had spent the last fifteen minutes watching in awe while a ten-year old stood beside the sugar bowl twirling and licking his finger, and when he wasn't getting enough sugar off his finger, he began to eat it with the spoon. We nicknamed that kid "Sugarfinger" for the rest of the evening, and it was no surprise when Sugarfinger began to bounce off the walls. It was entertaining. As for that cup of coffee, I rinsed out my cup and poured myself another with just cream. The second cousin with the cup full of coffee-flavoured sugar and cream was simply amazed that I finished the first cup so fast. I couldn't bring myself to tell her the truth - she seemed to be enjoying her cup way too much.

I've not laughed that much since last weekend and our Sequence tournament. I wouldn't give up my family for anything.

Poor J, he misses ALL the fun! I also got teased for wearing mustard tights with my homemade skirt. Whatevs. They all wish they were as 'coo' as me. Holla!

Happy Sunday!

N

Reconstructed Skirt

I have such a hard time throwing anything out. This creates big problems - mainly mountains of crap. My new personal favourite are the clothes that are getting smaller. This knitting gig doesn't do anything for the body. So as I was cleaning out one of the dressers, I found a pair of jeans that I haven't worn since El was a toddler. We're talking ten years. Oh, and they're those horrible high-waisted, billowy hipped, and narrow-ankled black jeans. Ugh. Not flattering for someone whose butt needs no help emphasizing. B noted this morning that the rolls of fat over my pants were a sign of too much food. I rose above her and gave her a sweet kiss on the forehead and shoved her out the door to her grandmother's arms. "She's all yours, today!", I yelled from inside.

Rather than throw those hideous jeans out to the curb, I found this fantastic tutorial to convert the jeans to a skirt, and I went to work on my sewing machine. At first I was making it for El, but she scowled and practically spit on it. I am assuming that means she doesn't want it. Whatevs. So I gave it a whirl, and guess what? Those old high waisted pants suck the entire tummy blubber inside. It looks like I have been doing crunches instead of eating crunches. Don't ask me what that means. I need to go look for more of those butt-ugly pants fast.


Huzzah!

N

A Sweater for Sara

This is the Eyelet Yoke cardigan from Lion Brand. It's a Christmas gift for my niece, Sara, who is three. I'm considering it done even though I haven't found the perfect button for it yet. I've got another cardigan three quarters of the way done for her sister, in a deeper pink. I liked the simplicity of the pattern and how quickly it knit up. As for their one year old brother, I was really searching for a pattern for a sweater for him but then realized that I was running out of time and that a one year old will grow out of a sweater in six months. So I went online and bought two pairs of Rockford Red Heel socks for a sock monkey! I've always wanted to make one and now I finally have an excuse to. The socks arrived yesterday and they're actually nice socks that I would wear but wont since I don't think my nephew would appreciate it. So my plans for this weekend are to finish up the second Eyelet cardigan and whip up a sock monkey. Pictures to come!

Monster Love

I envy you your Craft-O-Rama and Holy Land plate-o-meat, T! I'm busy that weekend, or else I would drive the 18 hours there to drop in and say hello. :) It's really unfortunate because I could set up a table and sell these monsters that B and I whipped up after dinner. These were our inspiration for this project. Such a cool, little dude that Noah is.


Must resume Christmas knitting,

N

Craft-O-Rama


Just a quick reminder to any local, Midwest readers (are you out there?) that this event is happening this week in Minneapolis at Midtown Global Market on Lake Street.

I am hyped for all of the cool and crafty things to look at and purchase and perhaps a stop in for a nice, meaty, lunch at Holy Land...N?