Showing posts from December, 2007

moving into the new year...

...with the last sky picture of the year:

We're ready for the new year with our tree decked out in streamers:

Wishing you all a happy, prosperous, and safe New Year!

Tying up loose ends and December recap...

...I have managed to finish a couple of crafty things and started a new project. Realistically, I won't be able to finish it by the end of today, so I've included December's recap at the end of this post. I'll post my year-end recap later today or tomorrow.

There was one cookie that I forgot to document, so here is its picture. These are Pistachio Spiral cookies:

On to the crafty stuff...I made a new hat using a yarn from my stash and the same pattern that I used for Jane's hat. Here's Teddy modeling the hat:

Finished 12/28/2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Claret
Needles: Size 13 circulars
Time to knit: 5 hours (!), proof that I can knit something quickly

Next, I got a little spinning done. This yarn is spun from a Yarn Wench wool top (before its bath):

Here's the dime shot:

Finished 12/30/2007
Yarn Wench Merino Wool roving (4.1 oz) in Cherry Cola 1
Spun and plied on Lendrum Folding wheel
Navajo-ply, yield: 189 yds.
Weight: 12 WPI, Medium …

Eye Candy Friday, and secret projects revealed...

...first up, our little tangerine tree that has gone crazy with fruit:

My friend Jane has received her gifts, so I can reveal them here. But, then, you've already seen them! This year I did the "hide in plain sight" version of gifts.

Remember this scarf?

I knit this specifically with Jane in mind, When she visited a few weeks ago, I showed her the scarf in progress, but didn't tell her that I was making it for her!

And remember this wall hanging?

It was also for Jane. I had this idea that I wanted to make her a wall hanging, but I wasn't sure whether she'd like the fabric. So I showed her the fabric panel and let her think I was making it for me! Here's the label:

She mentioned that she needed a hat for the cold weather that was soft and warm, so I got some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Charcoal and modified a Lion Brand pattern (you have to register to get the pattern, but then it's free). I didn't get a picture of the hat, but I'm going …

more about Christmas gifts...

...starting with the dryer that was delivered at 9:30 this morning! The nicest part was that they were scheduled to deliver between 10:00am and Noon, and they got here early. And, they were finished within 20 minutes! Laundry is running as we speak. (It's the little things...)

As promised, here are pictures of the wonderful gift from our friends. The side view...

...and from the front.

I wish the pictures could show the beautiful finish and the true color of the wood. It's really gorgeous! They included some cinnamon-scented candles, which make is smell like Christmas. For now, it's on the coffee table where we can enjoy it. It will also make a great centerpiece for the dining table.

On today's agenda: spinning! I haven't had time to spin anything in a month and Sirena is languishing under her cover.

Boxing day... they call it that because there are boxes everywhere? (LOL!) Of course, the gifts that came out of the boxes were well worth it!

I do have to give props to the Daughter and Husband as they flattened out the boxes and folded up the gift bags so we could store them more easily. Still, it's hardly "picked up" around here.

After a little trip to Sears this morning to buy a dryer (did I mention that our dryer died last week?), I spent most of the day trying to get my sewing room back in order. It tends to be the place where everything lands when we have company, plus it never really got back together after the windows were replaced. I managed to get all the books back on the shelves and re-fill the armoire. Since I lost one bookshelf, I had to do some major rearranging and a little stash purging.

I went through a bunch of yarn and put aside all of my Lionbrand Homespun yarn (about 30 skeins). Since I won't be knitting any more afghans for a while, I want to find a loca…

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it...

....and Peace on Earth to everyone.

Can we open them now??

a little of this, a little of that...

Image was a busy day yesterday. (Picture-less for now; I'll take pictures later when there is better light)

The last installment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club. I love the colors and the pattern, so it's going to be tough to choose whether to make these socks or the Lenore socks, which have been patiently waiting for Christmas projects to be done.

I packed up the secret Christmas present and mailed it yesterday. It's now wending its way to my friend Jane's house. As I mentioned before, I didn't quite get everything in it that I wanted, but I think she'll like it (and she'll be surprised at what's in it).

I finished the rest of my Christmas cards. I had already sent out the cards that don't get a Christmas letter; yesterday's batch contained the letter. I also made up a "business" card with my personal contact information and sent that to some with whom I've had little contact and those who are new to the list. Next …

confessions of a former poinsettia...

...just for you on Eye Candy Friday. First the picture:

When I was in elementary school (Gilroy, CA), we always has a Christmas play. Because I was in a dance group, I always got picked for a part in the play. I guess the teachers figured I was already used to being on-stage and wouldn't freeze up. I vaguely remember playing a doll one year, but it's pretty much a blur. Except for my fourth grade year: I was a poinsettia. There were other poinsettias, too and we all had to sing and dance this little number. I can still remember the song...

Down in the garden, growing in rows
Nodding our heads when soft the wind blows
Close by a window, over the wall
Singing our glory for one and all.

Here are poinsettias petaled in red
Flowers for the holidays, [something that rhymes with red]
Growing like living flame, Christmas we share
Bringing you happiness everywhere.We wore this big, red poinsettia "frame" around our faces and we wore green clothes to represent the stem and leaves. Th…

packaging central...

...I got all my bags together and put the name tags on them. Then, I spent a couple of hours packing cookies into their containers. Here's what the staging area looks like:

I ended up with 20 gift bags instead of the original 27 (you can't see all the bags in this picture). I have a basic rule that if I won't see the family member during the holidays, I don't make them a goodie bag (I sent Harry & David instead). At the last minute, three family members canceled their plans to visit, so that reduced the numbers (down to 24). There are a few questionable ones, so there are 20 that we know for sure. I did pack a few extra cookie containers and put them aside just in case.

I think the only cookie I haven't shown yet are the Cherry Kisses:

This cookie is based on a recipe that uses a chocolate kiss in the center. I found the cookie hard to eat with the big kiss in the center plus I wanted to taste the cherry more. I modified the recipe to include more chopped cherrie…

declaring victory...

...DONE!! (Warning: pictureless post ahead)

Last night, I made a batch of the Rocky Road bark and a batch of the Cranberry-Pistachio bark.

Then, I rolled the Chile-Chocolate truffles (another signature dish), the Cran-Marnier truffles, and the Macadamia-Lime truffles. I coated the Macadamia-Lime truffles in sifted powdered sugar; the rest were coated in sifted cocoa powder. And yes, I did keep the chile ones separate from the cranberry ones! It wouldn't be very nice of me to accidentally give the chile ones to those who can't eat, or don't enjoy, hot stuff!

Tonight, I start the packaging. I use an assembly line process that's very efficient. I also need to start defrosting the fruitcakes and pumpkin breads that have been waiting patiently in the freezer. Then I can line up all the gift bags and start filling them with goodies!

Once the main packaging is done, I can work on getting the kitchen back in order. Over the years, I've discovered that it's simpler not t…

Adeste Biscotti 2007...

Image's the picture of this year's biscotti:

Clockwise: Pistachio-Cranberry (top), Espresso, Chocolate, Coconut, and Grand Marnier.

Last night I made a batch of the Peppermint Bark. I love making bark because it's so simple when you use chocolate chips. I suppose I could do the whole tempered chocolate thing, but who has the time?

Tonight is truffle night. I have all the little paper cups I need for these; I just need to check if I have enough candy boxes.

The only things left to make after that are another batch of bark (Pistachio-Cranberry) and some Rocky Road. Then comes the real work: packing it all up! I bought my cookie containers from Smart & Final this morning, I have a stash of cellophane bags and ties, and I have the gift bags that will hold them.

So how many of these goodie bags am I packing this year? Around 26 bags(!) Now, I only need 7 of them for Friday. The other 19 I can pack over the weekend.

There is light at the end of the tunnel...

let's do the time warp again...

...yes, I can manipulate time to get everything done.

This is what I accomplished yesterday:
Went grocery shoppingOther than stocking stuffers and a couple of gift cards that I can get at Safeway, finished Christmas shoppingFinished wrapping presentsBaked double batches of the following: Chocolate Biscotti, Coconut, Biscotti, Espresso Biscotti, and Pistachio-Cranberry BiscottiIced the sugar cookiesPut the finishing touches (luster dust and edible glitter) on the snowflake cookiesWhew! (Yes, I'm tired...)

I still need to dip the biscotti in their respective coatings. I also still need to make the Peppermint Bark and roll the truffles. The final step will be packaging this stuff up...

Here are some pictures of the cookies I made on Saturday. I'll post pictures of the other cookies and the biscotti when I have time to take the pictures.


Maybe I should have taken this week off, too.

Sunday morning checklist...

It's after 7am and I've already started for the day. I'm running through my list to see what I still need to do.

12 cups of the Amaretto Cinnamon Walnuts
Mexican Wedding cookiesChocolate Mexican Wedding cookiesBaked the cutout sugar cookiesAlmond spritz,Cinnamon spritzCherry cookiesGrand Marnier biscotti, baked and dipped in semi-sweet chocolatWrapped 1/3 of the gifts (Now this is monumental....I usually don't start wrapping gifts until after the main baking is done.)
It was a LONG day...starting around 6:30am and ending at 11:45pm. In another unusual turn, I took a lot more breaks during the day to rest my back and legs. Never one to sit and do nothing (LOL!), I worked on the secret project during my "breaks."

On today's agenda:
Frost the sugar cookiesPistachio-cranberry biscotti (white chocolate dipped)
Coconut biscotti (white chocolate sprinkled with more coconut)
Chocolate-hazelnut biscotti (dark chocolate dipped)
Espresso biscotti (I found some mocha ch…

Eye Candy Friday, now with more Christmas trees...

Our tree...

...reflected in one of the new windows:

And I have the best husband ever! When I walked in the door last night, I saw this:

He bought a new coffee table! Our old one was was losing all its veneer strips (and the cats were doing their best to help it along) and didn't quite match the rest of the furniture. We had been talking about getting a new one for a while. We saw an ad in the newspaper on Wednesday and he checked them out yesterday. Bottom line: he bought it and brought it home.

It matches the entertainment unit, down to the drawer pulls (the drawer picture is closest to the right color):


It looks great and I love the drawers!

I still haven't found 7 people who haven't done the meme [*pout*]. If I have a few minutes this weekend, I may just post my 7 weird things anyway...

Up this weekend, the Husband is gone until late Sunday night. The Christmas frenzy kicks into high gear as I need to finish all the baking. Here's what I have planned:
Friday night:

Oh, Christmas tree...

...I came home to this the other night:

w/o flash ..... w/flash

This is in the back yard, visible through the kitchen window. The Husband created this little tree out of a stack of wire tomato cages and some icicle lights! (He is a very creative person. Some would say twisted, but...) This tree makes me smile every time I think about it!

In the continuing saga of Christmas goodies, I made the Macadamia-Lime Truffle mixture last night and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I now have all of the truffle mixtures made, so I just need a truffle-rolling session to finish them off. I'll probably wait until we're a little closer to G-day (gift day is 12/21 for the office).

I spent most of my time last night getting out the tree decorations, setting up the Nativity scenes (2), and setting up my New Mexico village. The decorations are coming together, but I need to time share between this and finishing up my secret projects.


red sky in the morning...

...this is what the sky looked like when I got back from the gym this morning:

I love how the clouds look like they've been painted with red.

So, nothing new today. My Pilates class ran long last night and I didn't get home until 9pm; by the time I finished dinner, it was 9:30—too late to start baking or do anything that required a lot of energy.

I did work on my secret Christmas project. I need to finish this up since I'd like to send the package real soon now. I think she'll like my gift. (Are the lack of hints bugging you yet, Jane?? )

I'm still looking for 7 people to tag for the meme...if I don't come up with them soon, I think I'll just post my answers anyway. (You really want to know 7 weird things about me, right?)


...baked the first two last night: Spumoni Slices and Chocolate-Coffee Ribbons.

As the typical over-achiever, I made the Spumoni slices 6 layers instead of 3 and made the the Ribbons 7 layers instead of 6. (Just can't leave well enough alone!)

I also prepped two batches of truffles; they have to chill until firm enough to roll. I made a batch of my Chile-Chocolate Truflles (using the last tablespoon of my Santa Maria chile powder and some cayenne) and a batch of Cran-Marnier Truffles (dried cranberries, Grand Marnier, and orange zest).

My house and tree still aren't completely decorated, but I'm working on it! The Husband has decided to visit relatives in San Diego for the weekend, so I hope to get a bunch done while he's gone.

And, I got tagged for a meme--I've never been tagged before! However, I need to find 7 people to tag in return and most of the people I read have already been tagged for this meme. Hmmm, I guess I'll have to go exploring!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...we got our Christmas tree on Saturday. It was a beautiful day:

And the trees sparkled with morning new (and a little rain):

We had to slog through the mud while we search for our tree, but we finally found a 10-footer we liked. We got it into the house last night and put the lights on it. I'll post a picture once it's decorated.

I started my baking Saturday afternoon. I started with the fruitcakes and pumpkin bread. I make them in mini-bundt pans so they cook a little faster than the larger loaves. I made 18 fruitcakes, 6 small pumpkin breads, and two larger pumpkin bread loaves. These all sent into the freezer and will be defrosted in time for gift giving.

I made all the cookie doughs that need to be chilled; I can bake these during the week. I made two kinds of Mexican Wedding cookies: regular and Mexican chocolate; Spumoni bars, Chocolate-Coffee ribbons, and a double batch of the sugar cookie dough. I also made 10 cups of the Grand Marnier candied pecans.

Somewhere in the mi…

Eye Candy Friday pictures...

Image distract you from the lack of crafty content.

First, another sky picture (now with birds!)...

...and a picture of a leaf during a rain storm.

OK, that's all I can show. I am making progress on my secret Christmas projects, but you can't see those yet!

I have finished my preliminary shopping runs for baking supplies. I still need to get some ingredients for my fruitcakes and some hazelnuts, but I'm pretty much ready to start. My kitchen now looks like the baking aisle of the grocery store—20 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of sugar, 10 pounds of nuts, and 9 pounds of chocolate chips takes up a lot of room!

My goal is to make all of the cookie dough that needs to be chilled, then start on the fruitcakes and the actual baking. I find that I can bake a batch of cookies a night during the work week if I have the dough ready to go.

I'm hoping we can get our tree this weekend. However, that depends on the weather. The idea of tromping around in the mountains in the rain and mud do…

it's December 5th...

...and I am so far behind! I haven't purchased my baking supplies yet and I've barely started decorating for Christmas!

We finally got the living room furniture and the dining room table back in place last night. Now it doesn't feel quite as chaotic. My craft room is still a disaster and the Daughter's room is still not back together, but I can at least sit on the couch.

I did manage to get a few things up, like the stockings, the wreath on the door, and the little Advent Calendar. This little calendar has been well used the last 29 years:

I made it when the Daughter was born; it was a Lee Wards felt and sequins kit that I bought on a whim. As I recall, it was a pain in the neck to assemble, but it has held up very well.

Knitting and spinning are taking a back seat now as I gear up for the baking frenzy. The few craft things I'm doing are secret so there will be no pictures of them until after they are received by the giftees. Instead, be prepared for pictures of bak…

November recap...

...'cuz I've got nothing else. My living room is still in chaos; the finishing coat on the grids and baseboards wasn't dry enough to move furniture back yesterday. Which means that I haven't been able to start decorating for Christmas... On the plus side, the windows look great, the walls are painted and I'm rearranging my craft room.

Anyway, here is the recap.

Finished (pictures in my Flickr projects set):
Christmas Wall Hanging, unofficially named "Merry Little Christmas"Poppy socks fromSundara Yarn's Petals CollectionCorrugator scarf in Blue Moon bySpunky Eclectic (my own handspun yarn!)Spinning 4.3 oz of Yarn Wench BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) in Splendor Variation 2; first bobbinPeekaboo mittens using Red Heart Simply Soft yarn in Gray and size 5 circularsYarn Wench BFL in Splendor Variation 2 (4.3 oz) and Falkland roving (2.0 oz) in Purple 2
Spun and plied on Lendrum Folding wheel
Yield: Traditional 3-ply yarn, yield: 158.5 yds.; Navajo-ply, yield: 50…