Decking the Halls

Over the last decade, my parents have invited the grandchildren over to decorate their revolving, sparkling Martha Stewart Christmas tree.  This weekend was no exception.  We arrived to a bare tree and boxes of bows, balls, and ornaments, and by the end of the night, the tree is decked out from head to toe.  I love that they have favourite ornaments to hang, and they feel just as close to the ornaments with which my sister and I grew up coveting.  My favourite ornaments are the cream embroidered and stuffed stars that my mum made one year when I was in high school.  I also especially love the crystal beaded icicles that my sister, my mum and I slaved over for an entire afternoon so many years ago.  Maybe 25 years ago?   And now our children squeal when they pull out an icicle or the ceramic sled with all of their names written on it.  It's gold!

And then my mum makes a big dinner worthy of Christmas day.  This year was roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, corn and dinner rolls.  I brought pie and ice cream and cookies.  We ate until we were stuffed.  Naturally the board games were dragged out, and we ended up playing Apples to Apples.  My throat was killing me by the end of the night from all the screaming, laughing and joking around.  It was CRAZY fun.  I was in tears.  And everyone except the two little girls played - they took advantage of this time by moving every piece of my parents' furniture in the basement and building the biggest fort ever made. 

We had such a great time that we rolled up into our driveway well after midnight!

Clearly, this is happiness.  I am so grateful that I have my family, and we enjoy each other's company.  I am ever so thankful for our good health and good fortune.   I have everything I need.


Pass the Dutchie

Today we went "home" to see Sinterklaas.

The littlest and I rather enjoyed ourselves.  I had no idea about this Dutch tradition of Saint Nicholas.  Despite being one part Dutch, growing up we celebrated a Christian Christmas on December 25 with Santa sneaking down the chimney - very American.   My goal this Christmas is to skip the shopping malls, and instead we will spend quality time with family and friends.  There will be lots of ice skating, online shopping, wintry hikes, movie nights, board games, exploring other traditions, baking bonanzas, crafting, visiting, laughing, feasts, pyjama parties, and tobogganing.   Doesn't that sound perfectly fun?



This one has been off the needles for over a month now.  I was slow to sew on the buttons and mailing it off to Quebec.  This is the day she opens all of the gifts her blog friends sent, so it should be safe to post today.  I love this pattern.  It really is simple and quick, and I used a smidgeon more than one 50g ball of dk-weight wool.  All the deets are on ravelry here.

As for what's happening on the homefront, I'm sitting on school council, volunteering in a newcomer youth program teaching needlecraft, playing indoor soccer, madly knitting gifts, cooking up applesauce, baking bread, and slow-cooking some spicy tomato soup - not all at the same time.   I've made some big decisions recently - wear more sweatpants and build a caring community.  I'm really into the sweats.  It was I all I could do today to not drive to the store for more sweats.  I wonder if it's a cold weather thing.  I wish I could wear them to the office.  Could you picture me sitting in on Board meetings wearing sweatpants and a hoodie all curled up and cozy recording the minutes?  It would be my luck that it would end badly like the time George got the security guard a rocking chair.

Ooh, I nearly forgot. Mr. J and I went out this week to see a concert at the Aeolian.  This never happens.  We never go out.  We like to be in our jammies by 8 p.m.  We're pretty boring.  However, I was able to pick up some tickets for cheap while also giving to charity, so I youtubed some of the upcoming performers, and I stumbled upon this video.

I fell in love instantaneously.  One of the musicians in the ensemble is the lead singer of The Weakerthans, and I didn't even know this until after I got home.  Apparently I was already in love with this band, and I didn't even know it.  See, I have this friend who makes me mixes - fabulous mixes - without liners.  I have no idea what I'm listening to EVER!  It's weird and brilliant at the same time.   There's a lot of music out there that I absolutely adore, and I haven't a clue what it is.

Speaking of jammies, I think I'll go get mine on, grab a cup of tea, and settle on the sofa with some knitting.


Thursday cake

I came home from work today craving a slice of cake.  Two layers, yellow cake, chocolate frosting, home made.  So I made it

And I ate it.  Despite not having gone to the gym in over a week.  Happy Thursday!

Little House on the Conservation Area

I found my paradise in the form of a pioneer village.   We learned about printing presses, really tiny fonts, making ink from soot, carding and drafting wool, singing God Save the Queen, churning and molding butter, and living in a one-room homestead.  It was awesome.  We only saw half of the village, so I'm eager to return and visit the rest.  I'm packing a bag.  Wonder if it would get wi-fi.  Hmmm. 


PS. The littlest and I are reading The Little House on the Prairie every night before bed, and I'm amazed that I've made it this far in life without reading this series.  We've just finished chapter 9 in which Pa has built a fireplace for their new house on the prairie.  I was super relieved last night/chapter 8 when Laura helped Pa build a door to replace the ol' quilt that hung over the doorway.  I barely slept a wink after chapter 7 in which a giant pack of 50 or so of the biggest wolves that Pa had ever seen surrounded the house howling at the moon.  I honestly don't think that Pa and his gun and Jack the scruffy dog would have been a match had the wolves stormed the quilt-covered opening to the house.  Evidently I am quite consumed by this book.  I'm going to freak out when they have to move house again.  Just saying.


The Bee's class is studying Remembrance this month, and each of the students must choose an aspect of war to present to the class.   Armed with a couple of images, she has to rattle off a paragraph or two.  I gently steered her towards Children and the War Effort.  I was trying to keep it light, but how do you make anything war-related pleasant?   I guess that's the point.  We've talked about how many people lost their loved ones, how many people were hurt, and how scary it was.   We've talked about freedom and protecting our rights.  I'm surprised at how much she understands at the age of 8. 

I will be spending some time today thinking of courage, remembrance, heroes, self-sacrifice and freedom.  I believe it's important.


My First Bokeh

Of course, it would be completely unintentional, but it still counts as the real thing.   Now I just need to learn how to do it on purpose.  :)

And one day we're going to wake up and find ourselves turned into crusty loaves of artisan bread.  We eat THAT much.  I'm just saying, don't be surprised.


Meet Yo Yo. Yo Yo, Say Hi.

Sorry about the silence.  I haven't taken a picture in seven days!   I'm back.  This is Yo Yo.  He was a gift for the Bee's eighth birthday.  Yo Yo is still kind of leery about us.  He plasters himself up against the side of the bowl when we come near.  He seems to remember the blue fishnet really well when I need to clean the bowl.  He's very slippery and can evade the net for hours until I give up.  I never completely give up 'cause the bowl needs to be cleaned.  It usually takes a few tries.  It's been very trying.  We never had this issue with Tartar Charlie.  Tartar Charlie was most cooperative when it came to cleaning the bowl.  Who knew fish had such personality? Oh Yo Yo.

As for some things I've been working on, I have another pair of stripey socks nearly complete, I've whipped up three of these bracelets out of an old tee that was destined for the goodwill pile, and I only have two months left to finish my EZ project which has stalled with a fairisle vest.  I need to step it up!  I'm going to need to focus, priortize, organize, plan, coordinate, gather up my resources, implement, do, make, go, knit, sew, cut, thread, run, bake, cook, clean, lead, drive, play, create, eat, drink, be merry.  All of that.  Beginning now.


Bunting card FREE download

I spent last night putting together these bunting cards from fabric scraps that I had.  I wish my fabric scraps were a little more vibrant in colour but these worked in a pinch.  With the help of my trusty old Kenmore sewing machine, I was able to whip up three cards in less than twenty minutes--from printing, to cutting, to gluing, to sewing.  You could totally hand sew these cards too if you don't have a machine.
I lined the cards with coloured paper in order to hide the stitches on the inside.  I guess if you like the stitches you could leave the card unlined too.
Want to make your own?  Below is a link to download the PDF card template.  I've only gotten around to making a template for the "thank you" and the "happy day" cards.  You will need:

-  white cardstock or cardstock in a lighter colour
-  fabric scraps or felt scraps
-  scissors
-  glue stick
-  needle and thread or sewing machine
-  printer to print out template

Once you've printed the template onto cardstock:

-  Cut the cards in two along the dotted line.
-  Cut out triangles from scrap fabric or use felt.  You'll have to eyeball the size of your triangles and try out different sizes and shapes.  My triangles were about 1.5 cm by 2 cm.
-  Glue the triangles in a row just slightly above the light grey line.  I found that just a tiny dab from a glue stick was enough to keep the triangles in place while I sewed. 
-  Either using a sewing machine or hand sewing, stitch along the grey line.  You should be stitching the triangle pieces along the top, which will secure them in place. 
-  If you want to line your cards, cut paper slightly smaller than the cardstock and glue into place inside the card. 

Voila!  A lovely bunting card to celebrate any occasion.  For the blue card above I just free-styled two rows of bunting. 

Download the PDF template here!