Saturday, 27 December 2008

More Christmas crafts!

I have this thing about being on time. I kinda don't like getting places late. I'm not crazy about it, but I do always try to be on time when I go places if not a little bit early. I think it's polite. I am pretty much the opposite of my brother whose favourite shirt says: "Procrastinators of the world unite! Tomorrow..." That said, you'd think that I'd be great at giving Christmas gifts on time. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. I just finished these up. December 28th. i.e. late. 

They are very simple mittens I made for Xavier. But really, they were a gift to my mom. She requested them. She wanted a pair of knitted mittens for him, but didn't have the time to make them herself. So in steps Aunt Jean. (somehow, I'm Aunt Jean, not Aunt Jeanne.)

And that isn't the last Christmas craft I'm planning on giving either... I have another that I've only sort of started. It might not get done until January.
Oh, the horrors.... I'm going to be ridiculously late on those. 

But in other fun semi crafty news, look at what I got from Jen (the older sis)! 
It's Kirigami. I had no idea what it was before I started. It's Origami, but you are allowed to make cuts into the paper. 

These ones just look like the snowflakes that you make in grade school, which was always one of my favourite crafts. I even decorated my University residence window with snowflakes, so it's a great gift.
It's from a calendar that gives me one to do a day. Obviously... I haven't quite stuck to that. According to my calendar it is now January 6th. Oh well. C'est la vie, and they are fun! 
And they will get harder. I think they are just trying to ease you into it. But if there are any cool ones, I might post some more in 2009.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone! (It's still Christmas in PST, and I might be on EST, but can we let it slide? It's been a busy day...) 
It's been a good day here. Hope it's been good everywhere else too! I think that my crafted gifts have been well received in general. I was hoping to post some pictures of people in their gifts, but it wasn't to be. Not with all the rushing... but I did get a picture of them before and a few other fun things, so be prepared for some pics!

So, let's start with some semi-bad new. Xavier's Twisted Tree Sweater? Too big. WAY too big. Wanna know how I knew even before Christmas? This is him in his sweater from last year... (taken Dec 23rd, 2008)
At least it's still cute on him! And although I was initially suspicious that he was only wearing it to please his aunt Jeanne, well the permanent tomato something-or-other stain on the shoulder placated me. And on the bright side, at least he can wear the Twisted Tree eventually right??

My other (finished) crafted gifts were Caliometry (I can't spell that name) for the girls in the family. (Sister, sis-in-law & brother's gf.) This is the one the gf got:

A blue striped and a green with a funny cable added were also made. I still think I like the grey one.
But the sweater for the unborn niece was appreciated. 
& There are about 3 other unfinished Christmas gifts still to come...

But, back to the gf... toques off to her! She's only been around us crazies for 6 months and she already passed the packy snow test. Say what? you ask. Well... this is what we did on Christmas eve day. 
It started out at about noon. I was playing outside with Moxie (the dog) and couldn't help but notice that the snow was packy. When I got inside, I called my bro's cell and said: "John, I have two words for you: packy snow." He said, "I know and A (the gf) is going to come prepared."
They arrived about 2 hours later and we didn't get outside until about 2:30pm, and since John and I have been doing this forever we just started rolling snowballs. 
BIG snowballs. 
There were no questions. No discussing. Nothing. We just started. We've done this so often, always with a slight variation, but there wasn't much to talk about. 
When you grow up 'in the middle of nowhere' with about 1.5 acres of snow, you learn how to use it! It probably started on some snowday where we got to stay home and Mom made us play outside.

So, we start rolling these snowballs... and not that long afterwards this conversation was heard:
A - "This one's getting pretty big."
John - "Keep going."
A - "But it's getting big. We won't be able to lift it on top." 
John - "Just keep going."
A - "Isn't this going to be the middle ball?"
me - "Middle ball?"
A - "For our snowman?"
me - "You haven't explained to her what we do?"
A - "We aren't building a snowman?"
John & me - "No."
A - "What are we building?"
me - "Um... a big snow thing."
John - "Sort of like a tower. Sort of. You'll see. Just keep rolling."

A while later my other brother arrived. And this year by some stroke of genius or because we were remembering our 7th grade science basic tools we decided to use a ramp... proving in fact that the pyramids could have been built using manual labour.
But they would have needed better organization than us! That's what you get for having 3 engineers on the job. We probably had about 20 conversations that started: "Wait a sec. What's the plan for getting this on top of that?" And at least once someone said: "I don't think we are up to building code! And we definitely don't have a permit."

Well, enough bad lead up. This is what my sister saw when she finally arrived at 7pm:

I'm even impressed with us. It's two people high, and that huge ball required five adults (+ one supervising toddler) to roll it up. Unfortunately... it didn't last until morning. The ramp is still there, but the top snowball has fallen... But the fun is in the making.

Hope you've had just as good a Christmas. 
Merry Christmas! (and happy boxing day.) 

Monday, 22 December 2008

When in Canada...

They say: When in Rome, do as the Romans. Well, a slight modification to that would be, when in Canada, do as a Canadian would. Well, if you are a smart Canadian you bundle the h*$& up. It's one thing to know snow is cold, it's quite another to have it blowing in your face.
Quite seriously, I went from going outside in a tshirt last week (and being chilly) to waking up to this outside my window for the past 3 mornings:

Oh lovely home. Yes that is a road out there with a stop sign. This was taken before about 12 snowplows went by. 
This may sound like complaining, but it's not. I actually sort of miss the snow. No. Correction. I do miss snow. I miss having to wear all sorts of lovely knitted type things. I miss being able to have snowball fights and skate outside (not that we can go on the canal yet and probably won't be able to while I'm here). Snow and cold is something that just is a part of life that I sort of miss. 
I don't miss freezing cold feet. My toes have been so cold ever since getting her. But I'm also not going to complain about it. With only two weeks a snow a year, I think I can deal.

But it gets me to thinking - I knit now because I love it. I think my mom only ever used to knit out of necessity. No wonder ALL of our mittens were made out of the same pattern. She didn't have time to add embellishments. You got to choose the colour. Maybe you even got to choose two colours for a stripe, but the pattern was always the same. She had to knit for 4 kids and there was no time to be fussing with cables or fair isle detailing. Unlike me where I can wait a week or two to finish a project and it really doesn't matter, if the kids didn't have mittens our little fingers would have been frozen!
But my Bella mittens have been invaluable. I love them even more now that I wear them EVERYWHERE I go. And they've stretched a bit, so they do fit over the sleeves of my winter jacket. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad about that.

Anyways... More pictures to come of real crafts. I simply cannot wait to give the crafts I've made for Christmas this year!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Good Day

Today is a good day. Why? There are just sooo many reasons. To quote that poetess, “Let me count the ways.”
1) It is my last day before I fly home for Christmas!! Yay. Home for Christmas. I can’t want to see my sibs and rents, and my bestest friend, and my nephew (and the snow!). I still have a ton to do tonight (laundry, pack, etc, etc) but it’ll get done and tomorrow morning I will be at the airport trying to find a way to
2) Mrs. K-S said she liked our Christmas cookies!!! Mrs. K-S is the wife of a co-worker of mine. She is probably the best baker/cook/chef I will ever meet. She makes her own ice cream, bread, chocolates, pasta from scratch… you get the picture. Whatever you want, she can make it for you. She’s the one who helped me practice and taught me all the decorating techniques I would need to make Jim and Erin’s wedding cake. So, L and I actually went through all of types of cookies and only gave her the ones we thought were good enough. Yay for our cookies being good enough!
3) I got two (count them two!) requests for knitted gifts today. As much as I love knitting, I love knitting things for people even more than I love knitting for myself! I’m one of those weird people who would much rather give a gift than receive one (although I like gifts too!). So to get two requests in one day is amazing! One will be a late Christmas gift, but the other I probably won’t start until January. Still, I’m already stoked for it!
There is one reason today is sort of a sucky day (other than the rain outside. Actually – I like rain.). The cookies have not arrived. I had them delivered to work because it’s sort of a pain to receive packages at home, and they didn’t come. *sigh* Thus I have bequeathed them to my office. I’ve told a few people that should a box arrive for me next week they are allowed to open it and partake of the contents. Maybe I can convince someone to take a picture for me and I can post that.

The next post will have more craft details I promise. There’ve been some changes to the Christmas arrangements and thus I’ve been scrambling to finish up a few small projects to give as gifts. I’ll post about them on or after Dec25. Until then they are sort of secrets..

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Baking Interlude: Christmas Cookies

I don't generally post about baking, but with the magnitude of cookies that have been made in the kitchen lately, it deserves a mention. Here they are! The L&J Christmas Cookies:

Look at all those fabulous cookies! 
I'll be the first one to admit that we sort of went a little overboard this Christmas. Okay. We went a lot overboard! The picture doesn't even have all of the kinds that L and I made. Sort of starting at the top, this is what we made:

- Gingerbread [J&L] (Two kinds. One butter, one shortening. I wanted to do a taste test and FYI - butter won. Thank God.)
- Peppermint Brownies. [L]
- Peanut Butter Marshmallow bars [J] (I made these b/c my Grandma makes them.)
- Vanilla Meringue [J]
- Sugar Cookie [J] (the snowflake)
- Hazelnut Linzer with Nutella filling [J]
- Peppermint Bark [J]
- Pumpkin Spice [J]
- Lemon with cream cheese icing [J] (Round cookie on the right)
- Lebkuken [J] (rectangle cookie. I had to make freaking candied orange peel to go in this cookie! That was on ordeal let me tell you!)
- Chocolate Pistachio [J] (They are Christmas trees, although you can't tell in this picture)
- Chocolate Toffee [L]
- Vanilla bean Jam thumbprint [L] (These are fabulous. I ate 6 in one sitting.)
- Cherry Chocolate chip Drops [L]
(Not shown: Nanaimo Bars[L] & Pistachio White Chocolate Biscotti[L])

Did I say overboard? Yes. Yes I did. 
Can I say, I gained 10lbs already this Christmas? Okay, I could say that, but it would be a lie. Although maybe not by much. 
The freezer is is so empty now that they are all gone. L and I packaged them up in chinese food boxes, and when we ran out of those red paper bags. Aren't they cute? Our company is small, so we only had to make 30 bags, but they were FULL to the brim. We actually had more cookies than could fit in the boxes/bags.
(I wasn't lying when I said overboard!)

Then we handed them out at work today. That's just us helping to keep the BMI high. I think we did a very, very, very good job of that. If I never see a stick of butter again, that's fine by me. Or maybe at least until next November. 
Okay! Who am I kidding? I still haven't gone home for Christmas. There will be more cookies there and I still won't say no. Especially to gingerbread! 
But that's what New Years resolutions are for. Right?

(Still waiting on my exchange cookies. I hope they get here before Friday! Otherwise, L will be eating all of them. I at least want to see them...)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

When good things happen to bad crafts.

I really, really, really, really want to learn how to continental knit. Really.
Right now I knit using the old fashioned throw method and this is why it isn't as good (from what I can tell):

1) It's slow.
2) My hands hurt after I've been knitting for a while, and I think I'm going to give myself early arthritis in my knuckles.
3) Did I mention it was slow?

So last week on someone's knitting blog I read a random comment about continental knitting. To show you just how little I know, I thought to myself: 'Continental knitting? What's that??" So thanks to the glory of youtube, I now know what it is. All that's left to do it actually learn it.

After looking a bit on Ravelry for a really simple stockinette stitch pattern, I found one. And I really want to try it. (Even though I'm supposed to still be knitting Christmas gift(s) for my family!) But I didn't have the yarn necessary. So, I spent probably about 2 hours last night frogging an old craft. I made this purse earlier in the year and never, ever once used it. Okay - I used it ONCE, but then decided that there was something totally wrong with the strap (It stretched way too much with any sort of weight in the bag) and I didn't like it.
So, it had the yarn I needed and wasn't something I was ever going to use, so this is what happened to it:

Frogging takes a lot longer than one might think! Especially since I sewed it with thread rather than yarn (I ran out of the yarn...)
I really hope I can master continental knitting quickly. I'm a little worried since I'm so right hand dominant, and you have to use your left hand a lot is seems, but I'll let you know how it goes.

(And as a total side note: I made cookies for the cookie exchange hosted by Batter Splattered and this is who got my cookies. I'm so glad they were liked. Now I'm just waiting to get mine from someone else.)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Mitten Madness!

If any month was to be a month of Mitten MADNESS, December really does make the most sense? Doesn’t it?

So, as you may recall here, I bemoaned the fact that I really wanted Kristen Stewart’s mittens. I wanted them so much, I made up my own pattern! (At the time, you had to pay for the one that was on ravelry, and I didn’t like that pattern much anyways. Pictures are so key. I’m not sure I like the free one up there either, even though I do think it’s closer to the movie pair, but more on that in the next post.)
But, look! I made my own set! They’re sorta close.

I love them! But, I hate them. I made a few updates on the 2nd one in the pair, and it’s getting better… But I think there’s still a ways to go.

The next pair I make are going to be better still. I’m sure of it. Really. And I will make another set. (And maybe give these slightly unmatching mittens away as a gift. I can think of a few people who would love them and never notice the differences! Is that mean of me?)
But I have other mittens to make now.
Turns out my family is doing a Secret Santa for all of the older generation of people. We all get things for the kids (oh wait. There’s only one (and two thirds)!) and then we only have to get stuff for one other person. So much easier than buying for 8 people I see only one month of the year. That’s so hard!
So I got my mom, and as part of her gift I think I’d like to make her mittens. I think she’d like a (slightly) funky pair of mittens. Too simple and they aren’t cool. She was the one who taught me to knit after all, so it has to be somewhat interesting to impress her.
Mom also commissioned me to make a set of mittens for Xavier. I wasn’t planning on it. He already has the sweater coming his way, but she wants them for him. She babysits him at least 1 day a week, and she wants knitted mittens for car rides, and things, when super hot store bought mittens are too much, but bare hands aren’t cool for a 2yo.
So. Mitten Madness is about to ensue!
Now, I just have to find a fun 2yo pattern and one for my mom.
And then perfect my Bella Twilight mittens.

(Preliminary pattern to come.)