Thursday, December 31, 2009

In With The New...

A decade ago, we were all afraid that every computer in the world was going to go haywire because they wouldn't be able to figure out the "2" at the beginning of the date. A decade ago, I was single, living in the smallest basement apartment you could imagine, going out three or four nights a week, eating Extreme Pita for dinner a few times a week and constantly in a state of angst. A decade ago, I was 24 years old. A decade ago, you could still bring water on an airplane. A decade ago, 2010 seemed so far away.

But, here we are. And although it seems like so little time has passed, when you stop to think about it, a lot has actually happened and the '00s will probably be remembered as a relatively well-defined decade. On the grander scale, the decade's story arch is very dramatic: fear on North American soil and war in so many parts of the world. Obviously, what happened in 2001 is the most defining moment, but so much more happened. George Bush was the president for the bulk of the decade, but hopefully, it will also be remembered in history as the decade in which Obama started his two-term presidency and made some positive changes (work with me here, people). It started as the decade of Nickelback and Limp Bizkit, but ended as the decade of Lady Gaga (this in my mind, is definitely change you can believe in).

Personally speaking, it was a very transformative time for me — perhaps because the years between 24 and 34 bring life changes for a lot of people. I started dating my husband in 2000, got married in 2001, and spent the next five years becoming a real adult in a large city on the other side of the country. I went from that crap basement apartment into a nicer apartment, then a house that I owned, then a nicer house back in the city I grew up in. I became a parent. Twice. I went from a working (but very poorly paid) magazine writer to being a stay-at-home mom. My husband went from being a struggling professional touring musician to having a very successful career in a business he had never even heard of until after he had kids and decided to work for a better paycheque. I look older when I look in the mirror. I don't mind.

How was the decade for you? Can you believe the '90s have been over for 10 years? Can you believe the '90s started 20 years ago?

Happy New Year, peeps. It's going to be a good one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost A Wrap

Whew! What a crazy week it has been. I'm sure you're all feeling the same. I've got loads to share, but I've been so busy eating chocolates and watching the first season of True Love on DVD that I couldn't possibly type out a proper post just now.

And look -- the stockings were hung with care by Christmas Eve. I'm so happy with them. I'll do up a proper tutorial soon -- not that many will really care for another 10 months or so. But, until then, happy holidays and all the best for the new year. xoxo

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not A Creature Was Stirring...

Except for those disturbed by the never-ending whirl of the sewing machine. The presents are wrapped, but I'm busting my hump trying to get these stockings made before they have to be hung on the banister with care. I'm feeling like I'm completely insane for taking this on, partially because I don't really know what I'm doing and am kind of winging it. And I'm making six. But the end really seems to be in sight, I think I just need one more night in front of the machine.

Then there's the baking to do! I'm planning to make this for Christmas dinner. And I have to make my Grandma's famous Pistachio Pudding Pie for Boxing Day. And Christmas morning brunch. Thank heavens I'm not doing a turkey (thanks, mom).

Oh, and Ruby had her best friend from school, Julia, over yesterday to make gingerbread cookies. I used Martha Stewart's gingerbread recipe from the Cookie Book, and baked them in this crazy Wilton pan where you press the dough into molds rather than roll it out and cut it with cutters (I refuse to roll cookies). I gotta say, they were not great. It took me a few gos to get the baking time right (burnt gingerbread is never great), but they still tasted weird because they were super super spicy. Granted, I may have put too much in when trying to bake with two four year old girls and one one year old boy, but there was a lot of ginger and cinnamon in the recipe. Santa's going to get a bit of a kick in the pants when he stops by on Christmas Eve. Let's just hope he has some stockings to fill by then.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Checking In

And the race is on to make six patchwork Christmas stockings before this time next week. It's not going to be easy -- I'm exhausted, not finished my shopping or wrapping, have a really painful cooking burn on my arm, and fear that Henry has the croup. Yes, I am whining. But if I don't finish, I can always buy some at the drug store on Christmas Eve and save these for next year, right? Right.

In other news, after constantly referencing Julie and Julia on this blog, I finally saw the film (I have kids -- I only make time to go to the theatre if it's a kids' or a, ahem, Twilight movie) and looooved it. How could a movie about cooking be so good? Of course, now I have all these plans to cook like crazy in the new year, which will probably never materialize. But it is nice to dream of duck wrapped in pastry, isn't it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Little House

I finished the Cozy Cottage from Alicia's kit. I'm telling you, this is the Sistine Chapel of felt ornaments -- so much beautiful detail, and actually quite time consuming. Mind you, I did go a little overboard on the beading, so that could be why it took me almost a full week to make it. But I loved every second of it, especially embroidering the holly. So fun. I'm kind of desperate to move onto the Ice Skating kit, but I'm also committed to making six (!) patchwork stockings in the next 11 days, so I think I might stash them away until next year. Christmas, how do you always manage to come so quickly?

But I do love this Cozy Cottage, and I'm very glad that this one is not intended as a gift, it's staying put on our own tree. Also, it's near and dear to my heart because I started it, appropriately enough, while on a pre-Xmas family vacation that took place here:

And featured a view of this:

Yep, last weekend was bliss in a rented house in the mountains. We risked life and limb driving there in a horrible blizzard, but got to spend almost three whole days with Aaron's parents and his sister and her girlfriend, which was amazing. And certainly made me feel very Christmas-y indeed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From The Family Vault

Our annual holiday party is coming up shortly before Christmas and I've been slaving away in the kitchen, though this year I've had little direction when it comes to my obsessive cookie baking. Last year it was all about the Martha Stewart Cookie book (and this year I've already pulled a couple of those out). I also very recently got a reprint copy of Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book, which I'm completely obsessed with and want to bake through Julie and Julia style (I know, I've used this analogy before, but it's true). But it's come to me so recently, I haven't been able to organize myself to make many recipes from it (though next year I might restrict myself to ONLY baking from it). I'm also trying to cook my way through my family cookbook, which brings me to the next two recipes.

What you see above are something that I grew up calling "choco-balls." I have no idea where the recipe comes from. It's a no-bake cookie that includes raw egg. I could not bring myself to include raw egg, knowing that my children would want to eat them, so I substituted with corn starch mixed with water. I don't know if it was the lack of egg or what, but they did not form into balls unless I chilled the mixture first. But not too much, or it gets hard. Either way, it wasn't hard to figure out and they're quite delicious if you want to give it a whirl (though I do admit, they look like meatballs).

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 beaten egg (I strongly suggest some kind of egg substitute to avoid poisoning yourself)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnut.

Mix together. Form into 1 inch balls. Chill until firm.

Next up, my Grandma's Nuts And Bolts. These call for Rice Chex, which I don't think they make any more (or at the very least, don't sell in Canada any more). I substituted it with something called Crispex Krispies, which are in the Rice Krispie family of cereals and pretty much look and taste like Rice Chex. In fact, I only just now noticed that there's a very similar recipe on the Crispex Krispies box, only it omits the Cheerios (not Kellogg's, you know) and adds onion powder and lemon juice (which may be more delicious). I do warn you, this recipe makes a boatload of this stuff. Also, the quantities are 1950s sized, so you'll have to just use your judgment on what size of box to buy (I got large boxes, not "jumbo"). In fact, I was asking my mom about it, because I remember eating tons of this stuff at home every Christmas, and she told me she's never actually made it. My Grandma just had so much excess after her own holiday entertaining that she handed it off to all of her children. Either way, it's tasty and very old school. Enjoy!

1 large box Rice Chex (or Crispex Krispies)
1 large box Cheerios
2 boxes stick pretzels
1 lb bbq peanuts
1/2 lb melted margarine (I used butter)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp garlic powder

Combine in a roasting pan. Bake at 200F for 2 hours

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


We're still a young family, so we're still in the process of collecting special Christmas ornaments to fill our home. Which means that even though we have a relatively small house, there are lots of places that are begging to be filled with seasonal items. Ruby and I have really been digging this book, which is full of crafty ideas for the preschool set. Today we made some tree ornaments out of felt, but her absolute favourite is these construction paper angels. Ruby is all over the angels this year. Like myself as a child, she likes anything that represents girl-dom. It's quite funny, really. Anyway, she's made two so far, but she asks to make more every day. It's a craft that she still needs a fair bit of help with, but when I have a spare moment, I don't mind helping to put these girls together.

And here is my kitchen space spruced up for Christmas. This space never photographs well, but I feel the need to document it as I change out the treasures. Note the coveted Pyrex Christmas bowl. I love it so, but I refuse to serve anything out of it during our holiday party because I'm so afraid someone will break it. I'm dorky that way, you know.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Drum Roll Please

So, after much ado, I'm ready to announce the winner. After consulting a random number generator (you're going to have to trust me on this one), the winner of my giveaway is Firesong! Firesong, I've emailed you to ask for your deets, but if you didn't receive that email, please contact me at the email address on the sidebar. You'll receive the apron pictured above (it's folded, so it's still a wee mystery).

And thank you to all of you who stopped by, entered the contest, and especially those of you who are coming back or have added me to your follow lists or readers. It really means a lot of me. I love using this blog to keep myself motivated and it's easier to keep motivated if other people are watching. So please feel free to come back often and to comment on the posts. And if you're still hankering for a tea towel apron, there are a few (including the original one pictured in the giveaway post) available in the shop with more being added very soon.

In other happy news, I'm a winner too! I won a mystery prize from Home, Heart, Happiness. I'll let you all know what it is when it arrives.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is A Ztar Warz Movie

Wow. First off, thank you to all who have dropped by/are still dropping by to sign up for my giveaway (the post is one below this one if you're still looking for it). I knew the response would be good since Sew Mama Sew is so popular and I am, after all, giving away something for free, but you've all said such nice things, it's warmed my heart. The comments will be open through the weekend, then I'll announce a winner on Monday.

What else... oh, I finished the Snowy Tree ornament from Alicia's Walk In The Woods kit. Cute, no? This means my teachers' gifts for playschool are finished. Whew. I'm moving on to the little house next, which will go on our own tree (yes, the Snowy Tree is currently on our own tree, but it's just for display purposes, I swear).

And I had to share Ruby's letter to Santa. I suggested that she dictate to me and I'd write it, but she insisted on writing it herself, with me spelling out every single word for her. I realize that I mislead her in the spelling of "Claus," but it was early and I had yet to finish my first cup of coffee. So much for my former life as a professional editor, eh? Still, it was hard for me to put this in an envelope and send it off, it is so precious. I have no doubt that Santa will bring her her Polly Pockets and Star Wars movie, because she is indeed the world's greatest girl.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent/Giveaway Day

It's here! The advent calendar is up (and the first day's treats are long eaten), Santa has been visited and Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day is here!

So, here's how it goes: Sew Mama Sew has a giant list of blogs participating in giveaways of handmade items and craft supplies (or will by tomorrow morning) and I'm happy to participate. All you have to do is comment on this post before end of day December 6. On the morning of December 7 I will randomly choose a winner and ship off the gift. This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Please make sure I can get a hold of you when you comment -- either leave your blog information or email address in your comment.

And what do you win? A vintage tea towel apron like the one pictured above. It won't be the exact one pictured (that one is for purchase in the shop), but it will be just as nice. I promise.

So please, comment, let me know who you are and if you're a regular reader or if you found the blog through the Sew Mama Sew List. And check out the other giveaways! I know I will.