Chubby Bubby Monkeys

As promised, I present to you baby monkey and classic sock monkey.  For the most part, I stash-busted the worsted weight wools.  I did buy one ball of Patons Classic Merino Wool in a heather-y green.  Ironically I ran out of it before I knit the ears, and gosh darn-it if I hadn't bought the very same shade a year ago for a slouchy beret.  The slouchy beret had been sitting in the basket where knitted projects in progress go to die a slow death.  So I forced myself to finish the beret (which took an hour tops to complete!), and I quickly knit up the ears.  The patterns were fairly simple, but could have been written more efficiently had they incorporated grafting and more knitting in the round.  For example, the green monkey's ears are knit in four flat pieces then seamed together.   It wouldn't be difficult to revise the pattern to save yourself some time and energy by knitting them magic loop and increasing and decreasing and grafting the 'cast-off edge'.   I would also knit the mouths by casting on the lighter wool and decreasing accordingly in the red section and then grafting it closed.  As it's written, you cast on in the red, knit a row, and then turn upside down and pick up and knit the cast on stitches.  This was finicky and tight and all around unpleasant.  Just saying.  Next time, I will trust myself to make those changes and save myself the bother.

O-Ten, not sure if I'm ready for you.  O-Nine has tired me out.  Incentives would be welcome.  I'm going to go work on some goals/resolutions.  Maybe I'll bake a wheel of brie and scarf it down with wheat thins, and I'll quench my thirst with that unopened bottle of white wine at the back of the fridge.  I just have to clear a path to it . . . Who am I kidding?  I'm too much of a wiener.  Hangovers frighten me. 

Wishing you a happy and safe New Years Eve. 



Look at that cinnamon roll.  Just look at it.

See anything new?  After spending weeks researching entry-level digital slr cameras, we splurged and got ourselves (read 'me') a Canon Rebel XS.  I'm having a splendid time tinkering around with it, and in doing so I have spread the love of it amongst my friends and family.   Because if everyone else has one, than it couldn't have been much of a frivolous expenditure, but rather a much needed and common household object.  Right?  Plus I couldn't have possibly been expected to take fuzzy and boring ol' photos of baked goods forever.  Nah, I can't bad-mouth my Fuji point 'n' shoot.  It's done me good.  I plan to keep it around a bit longer.  I also think that a certain teenager would be more than happy to steal it away.

Up next (tomorrow, I hope!) - pictures of finished monkeys for all of you who must be dying to see them.  They turned out wonderfully, and the girls really do love them.  I think they know deep down that the monkeys were a bit out of my usual knitting range.  I like easy, quick, non-finicky, as seamless as possible, more utility projects.  But they were worth every single minute of cursing under my breath for countless nights after they had safely been tucked into bed.

Speaking of which, I must do right now.  It's late!


Filled to the Brim

One last turkey dinner to scarf down this afternoon, and then we can start packing up the xmas decorations for another year.  There's so much.  We gots to trim the trimmings.

As for crossing things off the to-do list, Santa has been thanked.



I am now absolutely certain that if I didn't work outside the home, I would 'make' every day in epic proportions.  Oh yes.   So far on my four days of no work, I have baked dozens upon dozens of squares and cookies, I have sewed up two origami wraps (thank you, Queen of Origami!), made trees for my impromptu winter village, made holiday cards, and knit two fairisle hats with one skein of Briggs & Little.  And I'm reading a really awesome book with very little punctuation and lots of wit.  And I watched Where the Wild Things Are, and tears streamed very heavily when Carol waves good-bye to Max.  There is something very moving about a beast with sadness.   I am pretty sure I had to look away at one point.

Today we're going to get our skates ready for ice skating, and I'm going to brush up on my turkey cooking skillz.  I even bought a baster.  It's as if I'm getting very serious about turkeys.  Watch out, my friends!



I didn't mean to disappear from here for a whole week!  We've been busy finishing up school and work for the year, and we've been busy making.  We downloaded the house and the tree patterns for free and got to work immediately.  Hours of fun!  Honest.

Four more days to Christmas!  Eek!  I thought I was prepared, but I sat down and made another list, and turns out I gots lots to do still.  So off I go . . .


A Timely Diversion

That dang winter edition of Knitty came out yesterday, patterns were printed, the stash was upturned, and I have cast on for the Citron shawlette with wintry white Malabrigo lace.  This is unwise indeed.   I should seriously be knitting ears and a muzzle.  I only have 9 days left.  Oh dear.


Across the miles

On Saturday I packed up some boxes with my hand knits and some holiday goodies and dropped them off at the post office. The boxes are west bound, two are going to my family and friends in Vancouver and another is headed to California to my sister. I was even three days ahead of schedule! This coming Saturday we head to Toronto to spend the holidays with Mr. T's family. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and being back in Canada for a few days. Can you say Swiss Chalet and ketchup chips?!

Because these are Christmas gifts I can't share any photos but I can share that inside each box is my new favourite thing--salted caramels. These are so creamy and addictive that I made up another batch on Sunday for friends in town and a few for me and Mr. T. I cannot tell you how yummy these are. I wont even mind if you stop reading this blog right now and go to the kitchen and make some. You wont regret it.

The tree decorating is out of control.  Some of it has gotta give.


An Ode to the Middle of December

We're 3/4 dressed for the holidays.  We're waiting for the tree to accustom to being in the house, and then it, too, will be 'dressed'.   Lights, ribbons, balls, snowflakes, icicles, acorns and the occassional monkey or My Little Pony.   I was going for simple and classy, but then they excitedly brought home disco ball ornaments and gorillas.   A block of butter is making its way to room temp on the counter for several batches of snowballs.  I've wrapped four gifts, and already I am tired of wrapping.  This inevitably happens every year.  It's tradition.    These are just my random thoughts from one half glass of white zinfadel.  Call it my ode to the middle of December.   I need to buy egg nog.   One litre should be sufficient.  I usually get over-zealous and buy two litres and one will eventually rot, and when I pour it down the drain, I will gag and swear off egg nog forever until next December.  I will say to everyone I converse with from now until the 25th that we MUST get together before the holidays, and I will consequently slap myself for dangerously overbooking my social calendar.   If I ever complain of loneliness, hit me over the head.   The holidays are for connecting and being grateful and GIVING.  Must remember to love a bit more.  Smile and think productive and positive thoughts.   I need to get the skates sharpened.   I think this is the year that the Bumblebee must learn to step away from the wall.  I shall entice her with chicken nuggets all wrapped up under the tree.  That kid loves meat.  I'm also planning my second turkey dinner which excites me to no end.   I'm going to have to make room in the fridge.  Could this post be more random??? 


In Response to Baby Cake Comment

This is a quick post aimed at one of the commenters on my previous post about the baby cake. Maria, if you're reading this, congratulations on becoming a grandmother in January! We love babies and all things baby related. You wanted to know how to make the cake but did not leave an email address or a way that I can contact you so I'll just write up some quickie instructions and you can feel free to send me an email if you'd like more details.

To make the baby cake you will need:

2 cakes in your choice of flavour, filled and iced (I used 8 inch cakes, one vanilla with vanilla buttercream and one chocolate with chocolate buttercream)
About 2.5 pounds of rolled fondant (purchased at Jo-Ann craft store or Michael's or make your own)
13 x 19 inch cake board if using 8 inch cakes
rolling pin
pizza cutter or sharp knife (for trimming fondant)
Gel icing colours in: skin colour, brown, pink, or any other colour that you want for eyes and accessories

Tint 3/4 of your fondant in skin colour. Divide in half and roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness and about 16 inches in diameter. This will give you enough fondant to cover your cake tops and sides. Once your two cakes are covered in fondant assemble them on your cake board so that the two cakes are touching. Cover the bottom half of the bottom cake in white (for diaper) using plain white fondant. Then using the leftover skin coloured fondant make feet and toes, ears, arms, and nose. I just formed all of these parts by hand as if I was using Play-Doh. I tinted the fondant scraps in dark brown for eyes, mouth, and curly hair. I also added pink circles for cheeks and a pink bow as this will be for a girl baby. Feel free to be creative and make your cake in whatever way you want.

If you've never worked with fondant before see these helpful step by step instructions or check YouTube for some videos. It can be tricky to get it really smooth but remember that fondant is forgiving and you can always cover up imperfect parts with the diaper or accessories. Good luck!

Two cakes and a baby

I received an order for a cake from a friend that I used to work with at my previous job. One of her staff members is due in February and they were celebrating yesterday during a staff meeting. I've made one of these baby cakes before but this time around it's a girl (notice the pink bow?). This is one of my favourite cakes to make because the construction is pretty simple and it's quick to make. I tend to get strange looks when I tell people that I'm making a cake in the shape of a baby and then people are going to cut into it and eat it, however, this is more of a cartoon-y looking baby and not at all realistic. Not like this more life-like baby cake. I'm not sure how I would feel cutting into that. Shudder.

Soda Bread: A Review

Any hope of dieting has just flown out the window.  I've discovered Soda Bread.  More importantly, I've discovered Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.   The book is described as 19 culinary lessons and more than 250 everyday recipes that illustrate just how easy it is to eat wonderfully well if you cook, eat, and live by these fundamental guidelines:

  • eat locally and sustainably
  • eat seasonally
  • shop at farmers' markets
  • plant a garden
  • conserve, compost and recycle
  • cook simply
  • cook together
  • eat together
  • remember food is precious
I decided to start with the soda bread because it had four ingredients, required no rising or kneading, and was true to its word of taking under an hour from start to finish.  Really.   And it's delicious.  Funny thing is, it was so simple that I continued to bake because I hadn't even begun to scratch my itch to bake.  So I baked my ol' stand-by chocolate chip muffins.   I then offered up my gift of bread and muffins to my little family, and they gobbled up my bread and left the muffins on the counter all sad and chocolate-y.   Now I must figure out what to make next.


Lemongrass & Spearmint

The salt dough ornaments have all been painted.   I will need to search out twine for hanging them as the holes are too tiny for even the slimmest ribbons.

Four weeeks to Christmas - are you ready?  Last year, we scaled down a bit on gifts, and I did alot of crafting, but I am afraid that my family is tiring of my 'making'.  I really appreciated not having to step foot in a mall in December, not having to drive around parking lots for hours to find a parking space, not having to push past harried shoppers, not having to stand in checkout lines with impatient children, and so forth.  Frankly I felt a little superior to all of those that simply picked something off the shelf and handed over cash.  I spent weeks knitting, sewing, beading, baking, thrifting, and colouring.   I don't know if that's the answer.   I could support local businesses instead.  I could buy gift cards that benefit non-profit organizations.  I could give gifts of time.  Make donations in lieu of gifts.  Or scale down completely.  Make new traditions and continue with old traditions.  What do I want my children to remember about Christmas?  I guess that's the question.  In any case, their few gifts have been well-thought out and purchased, and I am making them each a gift.   I'm keeping it simple.

Happy Sunday, my friends.  We're off to spend good ol' quality time with family this afternoon - decorating the tree and sharing a meal.  That's what I'm talking about.


Holy Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

This was my very first time making cannoli. I've eaten them a few times, and my favourite by far was the Sicilian cannoli that Mr. T and I shared while standing on a street corner in Rome. It was crispy and the filling was rich, not too sweet, and had a nice cinnamon flavour.

I do loathe to deep fry at home. That's not to say that I don't love eating all things deep fried, I just don't like the large amount of oil that gets tossed out afterward, not to mention the smell in the house. Is it just me or does anyone else not like their homes to smell like food? This seems a little contradictory since home is where food should be made and enjoyed but while I'm cooking I'll close off all of the doors and open the windows in the kitchen, even if it's minus 30 degrees out.

Anyhow, I ended up using cannelloni shells as my cannoli forms since I had forgotten to go online to purchase some. I wrapped the cannelloni in foil so that the dough would not stick to them and it worked like a charm. My cannoli dough fried up and blistered like they were supposed to. I think the holes were bigger than I would have liked and took a lot of filling to fill them all but that's kind of ok since the filling tasted very good.
I decided to use mascarpone cheese instead of ricotta since I wanted a really smooth and creamy filling. I really liked the taste and I thought the creaminess of the cheese went well with the pistachio, cinnamon, and orange flavourings that were added. I'm not sure if I'd make cannoli again because of the whole frying thing but other than that, I would say that this was a success.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I'm almost done Monkey #1.  It just needs to be attached at the joints and some nipple-y little legs knit to the body as per the pattern.   While this feels like progress and a head-start on xmas presents, I have had to rip the sweater I was knitting this week because I made a major boo-boo, and the yarn was too shiny for a Cowichan-style cardigan.  I caught my tragic error while gazing at my published blog post.   It occurred to me that the fairisle band around the mid-riff was insanely narrower than the cardigan on the cover of the magazine.  And then the ah-ha moment came like a kick to the stomache.   I had only knit half of the chart!   These things happen for a reason 'cause I really should have ripped it back after an inch into the sweater - the yarn was simply not worthy of the pattern.  I am positive that this is the universe's way of telling me to focus on the holiday gift-making first before I go off on some whim.

Happy Thursday, my friends!  I must go catch up on yesterday's episode of Glee


Salvaged by Wandering

It's just me and my two lovelies this evening. Homework has been completed, soup has been made for dinner tomorrow, cookies baked for lunches, and knitting resumed. I'm fairisle-ing! Holla!

I've dug out my Treeful of Starling cd, and I am unabashedly belting out my most favourite song; although one can not go wrong with any of them.

Happy Tuesday!


Ganomy Bologna

Thank you, everyone, for your 'get well' wishes. The littlest seems to be doing a wee bit better today. The hurling has been replaced with flushed cheeks and shortness of breath. That's probably her asthma kicking in. This is all excellent because I might have told everyone I came across today that she was on the mend - including yourselves as noted in the second sentence.

I was gifted some of this yarn from my sweet neighbour recently and decided to attempt the Ganomy Hat from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac. It's cool, right? I wonder if you say it with a hard 'g' or a soft 'g'. Is it Gah-nomy or Jah-nomy? Either way, it's destined to be a snow-shovelling toque for Mr. J. He cares less what he looks like shovelling as long as he's warm. Ditto that for me. This was easy knitting at it's best. I see piles of Ganomys in my future. Ganomys for everyone!!

Happy Monday! Back to puffer duty.


Sweet Surrender

Yesterday afternoon while Mr. J hung up the xmas lights in the front yard, the littlest and I tried our hand at salt dough ornaments. It wasn't easy. I had to climb a small step-ladder and stand over the rolling pin and put all my weight into flattening the dough. After that small feat, we stuck our freshly cut ornaments into the microwave where they bubbled up really strangely. I will have to go out at some point this week and buy some acrylic paints to finish them up, but just because I don't want all this effort lost. I burnt my fingers on these puppies. She had fun though, and that's what matters.

Then she woke up this morning complaining that her tummy hurt. She had half a bagel for breakfast. The bagel was promptly chuffed, and all liquids since. We've been to the doctor, and there's nothing to do but keep her hydrated with popsicles and ginger ale. Poor kid. So that's been our weekend. Doughy tea biscuits, crunchy split pea soup, watered-down coffee, and puke buckets. It's been a bust. But there's always next week. Please let there be edible meals that remain in our bellies.


Baby Shower

I managed to get the February Baby Sweater finished in plenty of time. I even found a simple white onesie for under the sweater. Rather than knitting buttonholes and sewing on buttons or even knitting i-cords for closing the sweater, I found a very thin lilac satin ribbon in my craft stash, and I threaded it on a seaming needle and simply wove the ribbon through the stitches in the first increase row in the garter-stitch yoke. I really like how it turned out.
And those cupcakes were yummy.

French Press Slippers

I love this pattern from French Press. It's as advertised--super quick to knit up and after it's felted it resembles sweet little shoes. These are for a Christmas gift, as is the other pair that I have yet to assemble and the pair that's on my needles right now. I have big plans to make a pair for myself but what with my huge list of things that still need to be knit for the holidays I'm afraid that my little feet will have to stay a bit chilly until the new year (cue violins).

I told you I was knitting!

Connie the Cactus

If you don't have a green thumb, this is the plant for you. Heck, even if you have a green thumb this is a cute little cactus to have around. I got the pattern for Connie from here. It took me an evening to crochet and then stuff with fiberfill and lentils at the bottom for added weight. Connie enjoys hanging out with other plants and just looking cute.

As a side note, I have been doing some knitting (and felting) so N, you can stop worrying. I have not forgotten how to knit!

The Story of a Blanket

Once upon a time, a knitter bought enough wool for a coveted Hemlock Ring Blanket. The postal carrier brought her that wool one day soon after, and immediately the knitter wound up two giant yarn cakes the size of her head - she did this as to avoid weaving in more ends than necessary as she was a very lazy knitter. The right size of circular needles were purchased, and the blanket was cast on quickly after the children were tucked into bed. To the knitter's amazement, this was one of the most enjoyable knits ever! Despite working full-time, parenting two children, and travelling to another country for a week, she finished the blanket in three short weeks. When cast off, the blanket appeared to be a giant blob of wool and was unrecognizable as a blanket. It needed to be severely blocked in the most desperate way. So the blanket went into a drawer. For eight months, the knitter carefully avoided all conversation about said blanket. She laughed off other knitters who OFFERED to block the blanket. And she went about knitting hundreds of other projects so as to forget about her dear Hemlock. It nearly worked. Then one day she found herself in a dark storage cubby at work that she lovingly referred to as "The Panic Room". Rooting for soup bowls and money jars, she came upon an unopened package of giant foam mats. It was then and there that she knew what she had to do. Five o'clock could not come fast enough. As soon as she returned home, she filled up the kitchen sink with a dash of Eucalan and cold water, soaked the blobby blanket, sopped up all the water in a cushy thick towel, and stretched and pinned that blob to those foam mats. Half an hour was all it took. That made the knitter feel a tad sheepish. (Get it? Sheepish?) And the next day when she woke up, she ran down the stairs and ripped out all the pins, and she swirled and twirled until she nearly chuffed about twenty different kinds of happiness! And the blanket and knitter lived happily ever after.
The end.

Late Afternoon at the Beach

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It was too beautiful outside yesterday to spend the day inside, so we found ourselves on the beach. After sufficient romping around and splashing in the very cold water, we ate a mountain of french fries at Mackies and played several games of table hockey before heading home. I'm not sure how we are going to top that fun today. Cheers!

Friday Night Knitting Club of One

My sister has her graduation ceremony this evening, so when she asked if I could watch her two youngest, I didn't hesitate to say yes 'cause graduating is pretty special, and it's not as if I get to hang with them all the time since we live an hour apart. Are you like me, and if someone lives an hour away, you think of it always as two hours away? I mean, it takes an hour to drive there and another hour to get home, so that's really two hours. Y'all think like that, right? I admit it's the pessimist in me - everything is always half empty! : ) Anyways, the kids are absorbed by the Wii, so's I might as well be invisible. I did manage to coax the two littlest girls to come upstairs and chop apples for applesauce. They chopped much faster than I could peel. I also caught many apple slices being popped into their mouths. The applesauce smells wonderful. I also chose this quiet time to spray winter boots with stainguard, so the applesauce is overtaking the potent chemical smell in the foyer. Next up, knitting. One purple 80% cashmere, 20% silk cowl . . .

Happy Friday night!



I'm digging the brown today. The kids are watching Ghostbusters much too loud, and I have soup simmering for a work gig.