Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pistachio Pudding Pie

In an effort to get more than a half hour's wear out of Ruby's clown costume (why did I spend countless hours sewing a costume for a toddler?) I hauled her down to Aaron's office today for his company's Halloween potluck lunch. While that in itself isn't really worth writing about, I've got to tell you about the dessert I made for the occasion. The official name of the dish is "Joanne's Dessert" (who Joanne is I'll never know), but in my family it's known as Grandma Ruby's Green Dessert. In reality, it's kind of a pistachio pudding pie.

Every year my Grandma Ruby makes two pans of this stuff for my parents' annual Boxing Day party, which is attended by about 60 of my relatives. We all love it. We wait for it. We take a serving along side our ham, just in case there's none left when we go back for dessert (this actually happened to me once when my cousin Cathy cut the squares too big). It's delicious. After my Grandma got hip surgery she wasn't up to making it last year, so I stepped in and whipped up a double batch. I was really excited about it because I got to use her special Green Dessert pans, which are metal and have a lid that slides in, making them really great for desserts that need to go in the fridge for a couple of days.

Below is the recipe for Joanne's Dessert, a.k.a. Grandma Ruby's Green Dessert. It's one of those great mid-century recipes that will cause any organic chef to recoil in horror -- basically a step above dump cake -- but I love it. If you make it and love it, let me know -- I'll pass it on to Grandma Ruby.

Joanne's Dessert

1st Layer

1 cup flour
1/2 cup margarine (I couldn't do it, so I subbed with softened butter)
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)

Press into 6 by 12 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.

2nd Layer

2/3 cup icing sugar
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 large container cool whip (I believe it's the 12 oz size)

Mix together until creamy. Spread over crust

3rd Layer

2 pkges pistachio instant pudding
2 1/2 cups cold milk

Beat. Spread over cheese layer and refridgerate for 20 minutes

4th Layer

Spread remaining 1/2 container of cool whip over pudding. Sprinkle almonds slivers on top. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Monday, October 30, 2006


It's still another day until Halloween, but I thought I'd put a picture of my little pumpkin up today. Oh, how she's grown since last Halloween when we carried her around in a sling to go trick or treating. Unfortunately I don't think the TNT is going to go off too well this year -- ever since I was a kid, Halloween in Calgary was always ruined by a major snowfall. We got a dumping on Sunday, and it's cold as can be, so I don't think Ruby will be out for too long tomorrow. It's not like we let her eat candy anyway, but she's got to get some use out of the costume, right?

I'm pretty happy with the costume -- for my first real sewn garment, I'm pretty pleased. She loves it too. It was a struggle getting it on for the party we went to on Friday, but she's been begging to wear it ever since. Aw, my little clown. I'm glad you like it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Listen Up

I don't often write about music in this space. Not because I don't listen to a lot of it or because I don't think about it, but because writing about music is how I make my living (in addition to chasing a toddler, of course) and making what you do as your living into your hobby as well isn't all that fun. But, I feel like it is my mission as someone who likes music to tell the handful of people out their who drop by this blog about Woodpigeon. As a seasoned music critic very little impresses me anymore, but Woodpigeon actually amaze me.

Okay, here's the story: Woodpigeon comes from the mind and heart of Mark Hamilton, who happens to be a very good friend of mine. He's the art director for Ruby's annual Walmart Christmas shot. For about a decade, I thought that Mark had a great visual eye, that he knew a lot about the cinema and that he was an excellent photographer who recorded much of his life with a camera. I didn't know that he wrote songs. Nobody knew that he wrote songs -- he didn't sing them in public. A couple of years ago while we were living in Toronto, Mark sent Aaron an MP3 of one of his songs, asking if it was good enough for him to bother continuing. As a trick, Aaron played the song without telling me who it was and I said I thought it was great and we should buy the album of whoever it was. I couldn't believe it when he told me that it was my quiet, unassuming friend Mark.

I try to be supportive of all of my friends who make music, but I often catch myself realizing that if they weren't my friends I probably wouldn't be as charged by their music. I find myself asking if I could hold them up to Belle And Sebastian or Fleetwood Mac or some other band that I worship and the answer is always no. After seeing Woodpigeon play their CD release party at a soft seat theatre last night, the answer for them is "yes." I was moved to tears. (Oh, and their opening act, Aaron Booth was pretty tear-worthy too. And swoon-worthy as well, if I may add. Check him out at the link on the side panel). So please, if you have an opportunity to see or hear Woodpigeon, please take it. You can check them out online here.

Back to suburban crafting tomorrow. I promise.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Get It

Okay, I get it. I get why you all like Noro so much. I've always passed the Noro in the shops and thought "Why do all the bloggers love this stuff so much? The colours are wacky, the thickness inconsistent and it's rough as all hell." Well, I get it now. Noro is great -- it just has to find the right project. And here it is:

Child's Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Noro Kureyon in two different coloured balls (I threw out the bands, so I can't tell you which numbers)
Needle: U.S. #9 aluminum
Mods: none
Comments: This pattern is GENUIS. It really plays out the sheer craziness of the Noro colour combos and it's a real crap-shoot as to if portions of the scarf are going to look like vomit. I started one ball from the outside and one from the centre-pull (just because) and I think I ended up getting a much better colour combo than if I'd gone the other way. Now I want to do this over and over again just to see what combos I can get. I was really addicted to knitting this scarf and I'm sad it's over.

In other news, as you can see, my camera is back from its trip to Florida, as is my husband. So, hopefully, post-Halloween of course, things will be less stressful around here soon. Hopefully.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Camera Shy

My camera has been whisked away to an exotic locale, so there will be no pictures of anything for at least a few days. It's too bad, because I'm feeling a creative wave hitting me. I've been furiously knitting and sewing away, trying to get Ruby ready for Halloween/winter. I'm also aware that I announced the commencement of holiday knitting well over a month ago and have not one gift to show for myself. That's all coming to an end. Xmas presents, articles to warm my family's extremities -- bring 'em on. And yes, that blasted clown suit will be done in time. Mark my words.

I'm also feeling kind of inspired because I finally got my copy of Craft magazine in the mail today (Canadian subscriptions are always a bit slow). Very inspiring indeed. And it reminds me, I've got some robots to knit...

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Little Kitten Has Found Her Mittens

It was pointed out to me recently on a crisp day that my child's hands were freezing. Last winter (and the winter before) Ruby had yet to join the realm of the walking, so she was bundled up Maggie Simpson-style with her hands pretty much bound inside her snowsuit. So, I totally forgot that little kids need mittens in the winter. Ruby's Nana thoughtfully purchased her a couple pairs, but a kid can never have enough mittens and like any good knitter mum, I decided to cook her up a pair.

I've never done mittens before -- kid or adult size -- and who would have known they were so easy? After months of sock knitting, they were a total cinch. Here are the specs on these little kid mitts:

Ruby's Mittens adapted from the Bold Banded Mittens from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits For Tots
Yarn: Schachenmayer Nomotta Bravo Baby Soft
Needle: U.S. 3 bamboo for the cuffs and string and U.S. 5 acrylics for the body
Mods: I sort of just used the pattern as a basic mitten recipe. I took another one of Zoe Mellor's books from the library and there were a couple other fancy mittens, but all with the same basis. She also recommends doing a braid for the string, but that was way too much of a pain. I started doing some icord, but it seemed a little bulky, so I knit a flat three-stitch band to string the mitts together.

It's funny, I went to a posh LYS that carries a lot of brand name yarn because I was going to splurge and use the Rowan that the pattern called for. After searching through the piles of DK yarns I decided on this Bravo Baby stuff, which cost a whopping $3.50 and is totally washable. Hooray. As you can see from the above photo, my back garden has transformed into a virtual winter wonderland, so Ruby will be needing the mitts. Still, she prefers to prance around the house while wearing them as a scarf -- very chic.

Friday, October 13, 2006

W.I.P. Friday (The 13th)

Happy Friday 13th! I plan to spend my evening eating hotdogs and celebrating my friend Jane's birthday. Hooray!

Speaking of scary days, I've been hard at work putting together Ruby's Halloween costume. Let me tell you, this learning how to sew is a steep learning curve. But the clown suit is looking pretty good so far and I'm thinking that I may actually finish before the party she's attending on the Friday before the actual Halloween day. In the last couple weeks I've learned how to do gathering, set in sleeves (with easing!), do an elastic casing, collar facing and much more. It's sloppy and won't fit very well, but clowns are supposed to be goofy looking, right?

And as an added bonus pic, here's a shot of Ruby in the ruby red slippers that a friend of ours bought for her in Las Vegas almost a year ago. They fit a lot sooner than I expected them to (despite having a tiny body the Rubester has enormous feet for a girl her age) and my girl was tap dancing around the house all morning. She loves walking in heels -- I don't get it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Canadian Thanksgiving, that is. That's right Americans, we have our own turkey eating festival/reinterpretation of European-Native North American relations too. But, since our harvest is a bit earlier to accommodate the blistering cold winter, we do it at the beginning of October. Yesterday I joined about 30 members of my family to walk 5K to raise money for the Alzheimer's Foundation. My grandfather passed away nearly 10 years ago after a struggle with the disease and for the last five years or so the fam has been marching to raise money for research. It was a gorgeous walk along the shore of the Bow River and I had a great time hanging out with my clan.

So, in the interest of posting something about knitting, here is my finished City Shawl. Please excuse the hideous photos. Here are the details:

City Shawl, a Glampyre pattern
Yarn: Lion Brand Suede in black
Needle: Addi U.S. 15 circs
Mods: I added about 20 rows

I'm in love with the finished product, but I had trouble getting this one started. I looked high and low for some really nice chenille at various fancy yarn stores, but everything was in gross colours or variegated (or variegated gross colours) so I decided to hoof it to Michael's and grab some Lion Brand. The pattern calls for any bulky chenille so without paying much attention I grabbed the LB Thick 'N' Quick Chenille. I later noticed that other bloggers used the same yarn with unhappy results. I also noticed that TNQC is actually a super bulky, which is why my shawl was starting to look like a teddy-bear skin coat. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that Stephanie actually suggests LB Suede on the pattern, so I switched it up (I also switched from bamboo circs to my Addis because the LB was sticking on the join and with both the suede and the TNQ chenille the bamboos held the yarn so tight that I broke the yarn on some of the K2togs).

So, the lesson learned? Pay attention to your yarn, use appropriate needles and if you need to, keep knitting until the shawl's a-fitting. My finished product is warm and cuddly and looks cute too. The edges are starting to dog-ear and curl a bit and the ends didn't weave in as nicely as I'd hoped, but I love the pattern and am happy to have a functional and finished item that I've actually worn many times since finishing it last week. Hooray!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Crochet Me? I Don't Mind If You Do!

I'll admit it -- I was skeptical about One Skein Secret Pal. It was a blatant marketing scheme for a book that didn't particularly wow me (I didn't actually get the book until after I signed up for the swap) and I didn't feel like I had a whole lot in common with the pal I was assigned to, so I had a hard time choosing items that I thought she'd like. Luckily, the pal assigned to me was awesome throughout -- she sent me great yarn, threw in additional goodies and had a healthy appreciation for my love of pink. I just got my final package from her (I was warned ahead that it'd come a bit past deadline and the lateness was for some very good reasons, so I didn't mind one bit) and not only did she send great stuff, but she seems like an all-around awesome person to boot.

My pal is none other than Kim Werker, who will be known to crochet addicts as the editor of Crochet Me which is kind of like the crochet version of Knitty or Magknits. She also just published her second book, Get Hooked. Since she knew I can't do it myself, Kim chose to crochet me an item rather than knit (although she can indeed knit as well) and she came up with this bobbly-textured little pouch. As the mother of a toddler my purse (which doubles as a diaper bag) is very poorly organized and I know this will come in handy. Plus I'm in love with the pink yarn and the bubbly texture. Being the gal she is, Kim also threw in a ball of beautiful Rowan tapestry and some Knit Klips, which I'm dying to try, seeing as I'm still struggling with my finishing skills.

All of this really makes me want to make good on my pledge to learn how to crochet. I love the tightness of the stitches and the sturdyness of this little pouch -- it's structured enough that there's no need for lining. With Kim and also Amy Swenson having new crochet books out and that dusty copy of the Happy Hooker on my shelf (well, actually in a box in my still unpacked basement), I have no excuse. Will 2007 be the year that the hook and I finally become friends?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

F.O. And SPC

Since I'm just that kind of gal, my picture for today is doing double duty as Self-Portrait Challenge and a picture of the new neck-warmer I made. Both me and the neck-warmer fit the theme of imperfection for this month. Me because winter is coming in and my skin is going wacky, my hair both dry and oily at the same time (I can't tell you why my mascara is smudged. But it adds to the effect, no?) Calgary's climate is really weird: dry and cold but sometimes dry and hot and it's murder on a girl's beauty regime. Even Ruby, who is a picture of physical perfection is suffering with rashes and dry patches. So yes, winter time in these parts makes the imperfect even less perfect.

And what about the neck-warmer? Well, here are the specs:

Adapted from Pashmina Cowl from Last Minute-Knitted Gifts
Yarn: The worsted Blue Sky Alpaca that my One Skein secret pal sent
Needle: U.S. 10 circular
Mods: Well, this clearly is nothing like the pattern in the book. And intentionally so, but I'm not sure I'm that crazy about this thing. When I got this yarn I knew I wanted to make a neckwarmer, because it's so nice and soft. I very loosley based it on the cowl in LMKG, which is knit with a superfine cashmere and is much drapier and finer and taller and slouchier. What I have here will work fine under a coat, but I'm seriously thinking of splurging on some cashmere and doing the real thing in the new year. Mmmm... cashmerey and cowly.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


What I did this weekend (apologies for being a day late):

Bought Ruby a Fisher Price Three Men In A Tub set for $1 at a garage sale; did pilates; went for brunch with friends; worked in the yard; played in the leaves; finished a shawl (pictures to come); started a cowl; watched a movie that made me cry; ate a Dairy Queen sundae; took a bath; had a nap; sent Ruby downtown with her grandparents for the first time; got lots of work done; put my feet up; spent time with family; cleaned out the linen closet; ate pie and ice cream; got some much needed rest.

p.s. I couldn't resist the three men in a tub. It was my favourite when I was a kid. My brother remembers putting soap on his face in the bath and using the men to "shave." Ruby hasn't taken them in the tub yet, mainly because she can't get enough of them on dry land. The second I game them to her she was delighted and refused to unhand them most of Saturday -- she even insisted on taking them into the restaurant when we went for brunch. Her current favourite game is running from the living room to the kitchen, putting one of the men in the cupboard, running back in and putting her hands up to signal "where is he?" then running back to fetch him and show him to Aaron or I. She probably did that about 30 times on Sunday night. I couldn't be happier that one of my favourite toys, which I was able to purchase for such a small sum, is causing more joy in my little one than a $50 T.M.X. Elmo ever could.