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

Posted by Picasa
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.

Happy hookin'

Another animal friend to add to the collection. This pattern is from here. I added the little feet, which look cute but when I sewed them on he kept falling over. To remedy that I crocheted a tail to balance things out and now he can stand on his own again.This one is for my friend's daughter who really likes penguins. The crochet amigurumi are multiplying. I have nowhere to put them so for now they are all sitting on a table in our spare room. They look like they're talking about something. Recipes? Health care reform? Mutiny? Here's to hoping that the holidays arrive soon so I can gift these guys before they get any ideas.

Best Costume To Date

Every year we argue about costumes. This year was no different. I wanted to make a jellyfish costume to showcase my creative skills, and the littlest insisted that a fish was in no way scary. Nothing but scary would do for this one. So I relented, and as is the case each time I relent, it is a success. Man, I hate to admit that.
So the oldest went to work finding black garments, and then she made a list of what was still needed. I drove to the store with the list and managed very well to pick up each item even though last-minute Halloween shoppers were swarming the seasonal aisles. I returned home to sew some twill tape to the sides of the hat to tie in a bow under her chin while the oldest applied make-up and finished the transformation. Actually the cherry on top has to be the Converse high-top sneakers, but who's counting? A perfect team effort!
I'm always amazed that this little sprite is so filled to the brim with excitement with each holiday. In all of her 13 years, the oldest has never been thrilled to see Halloween arrive while the littlest counted down the days. No, really. Every single morning before I had time to pour the cereal, she noted the number of remaining days. She started this two weeks ago. And while I dreaded it, she begged her dad to bring up the decorations from the basement. She dusted off each skeleton and hung up each ghost and bat in the box. She found some tattoos and made me apply them all over her arm. She planned out all the candy and made special treat bags for her friends. It was insane. And it was contagious. Us adults and teenager couldn't help but smile and enjoy ourselves. Dang kid.