Showing posts from December, 2011

farewell to 2011...

Image was a challenging year in many ways.

I wasn't planning on a post today, but the sunrise was pretty interesting this morning.

Happy New Year everyone!

looking back at Eye Candy Friday...

Image started as a rainy day, so it was too dark to take pictures this morning, It's better this afternoon, but the garden is in full winter mode and there's nothing that I want to photograph.  So let's take a look at some of my favorite pictures of the year.

Kayla's begonia

A little bug on a hydrangea:

Morning glory close-up

White Icelandic poppy:

Golden freesias

You can see all of my 2011 eye candy pictures in this Flickr set.

I've had a wonderful, relaxing few days. I really needed this vacation and I don't feel at all guilty for mostly lounging around! 

Up this weekend: I hope to finish the rest of Jane's Christmas present so I can get it mailed out on Tuesday. For New Year's Eve, the Husband and I plan on a quiet evening and sharing a bottle of champagne at midnight.

I hope you all have a great new year!

Last WIP-it Wednesday for the year...

...and I still can't show you my WIP.

I've been a bad crafter. :( I failed to complete the Christmas present I was making. [sigh] Well, not totally. I got part of it done, but not all. I'm madly working away at it so I can mail it out a soon as I can.

My other WIP was to pack up the cookies and get them mailed out. I spent several hours packing the boxes yesterday, wrapping the cookie individually before putting them into tins and containers, and then into mailing boxes.

Today's goal was to mail them...DONE!!  One of those boxes contains the partial Christmas present as well as cookies (the other part is coming soon, Jane, I promise!)

After that, I have no idea what my next project will be...maybe more needlepoint. I have so many options, it will be hard to pick.

day after Christmas...

...and not much was accomplished.

Christmas Eve dinner was a hit. I managed to finish decorating the house and wrap all the packages before I needed to start dinner. Here's the kitchen Christmas tree:

The cioppino turned out great and everyone enjoyed it,  For dessert, I made a Grand Marnier chocolate mousse. The Daughter brought Sprinkles cupcakes and one of her friend's brought baklava.  We had an abundance of sweets! After everyone left, I packed up the fudge, did the Christmas stockings, and did a load of dishes. I spent a few minutes just sitting and enjoying the Christmas tree lights.

Christmas day was pretty low key. I managed to finish decorating We waited until the Daughter arrived to open our gifts and then went to visit the Husband's parents for  few hours. We had lunch there and visited for quite a while. When we got home, I pretty much crashed on the couch and watched Christmas movies.

I intended on packing and mailing the remaining cookie packages today, but …

Rolling into Christmas Eve...

...I started early this morning when the sky looked like this:

Today, I finished packing all the cookies, biscotti, breads, nuts, and bark. Here they are before I put them in their bags.

This represents gifts for 21 people, including the ones I need to mail after Christmas. I also made  a double batch of Chile-Lime Nuts and a batch of fudge.

Tomorrow, I will cut up and box the fudge, but it won't take very long. I need to finish the last few decorations, clean the living room, and clean the kitchen. And then wrap presents.

The Husband's parents are coming for Christmas Eve dinner at 6pm. I'm making Cioppino, our now-traditional Christmas Eve meal. I went to the grocery store for ingredients and wine this afternoon...what a zoo that was! But I got the things I needed and the Husband will go out tomorrow and get the crab and shellfish while I finish up around here.

Running on fumes...

it's still WIP-it Wednesday...

...the last day before vacation is always long. But I'm home now, enjoying a glass of wine, and vegging on the couch.  Tomorrow is soon enough to pack the rest of the cookies and find my kitchen floor under the layer of flour and sugar.

My biggest WIP right now is Christmas. My tree is partially decorated, my Star Trek tree is still in its box, there are boxes of Christmas decorations are stacked in the living room, and my Christmas cards are still in the Hallmark bag. I'm behind with the Advent calendar...I think the last date I did was the 13th! At least the baking is under control!

I have made almost everything on my To Do list, and a couple on my Maybe list. I still need to make the Chile Lime nuts for the people who don't want the alcohol-flavored nuts...not hard to make and doesn't take much time. I owe my former boss a dozen Chile Chocolate truffles, but I don't need to make them until just before I go back to work on the 3rd.  I'd like to bake some ging…

Weekend report...

...the short version: I baked more cookies and biscotti. I frosted the sugar cookies and gingerbread, and put chocolate on the biscotti. I did not make chocolate bark.

The long version: I spent 2 days in the kitchen.

On Saturday, I baked gingerbread cutouts, chocolate drop cookies, and polvorones. I also made a double batch of fruitcake biscotti. I made 12 cups each of Grand Marnier Pecans, and Amaretto Walnuts. Afterwards, I collapsed on the couch and vegged out in front of the TV. I totally ignored Mr. Christmas Tree other than to turn on his lights to admire them.

Sunday was frosting day and I intended to make chocolate bark. First I made a quick trip to the grocery store for weekly supplies, plus a few more white chocolate chips. For dinner, we decided a crock pot meal was the best, so I bought the fixings for chili and cornbread.  I got the chili going before I attacked the frosting.

I made a triple batch of royal icing...that's 3 pounds of powdered sugar!  I love that my …

racing towards Christmas...

...not intentionally, of course! 

Today's Eye Candy comes from the last pepper harvest of the year. (Sorry, the lighting wasn't great this morning.)

Ethiopian Berber peppers

Anaheim chiles

Bulgarian carrot peppers

Up this weekend: The home stretch for baking.
Another double batch of biscotti Gingerbread cookies,Chocolate barkTrufflesGrand Marnier nuts and Amaretto nutsChile lime pistachio and peanutsFrost the sugar and gingerbread cookiesPut chocolate on the biscotti It sound like a lot, but I can have the sugared nuts going while I make or frost the cookies. The truffles are the big time sink. We'll see how far I get on may be that I only do bark this year!

WIP-it Wednesday, Christmas style...

...I have a feeling Christmas will be a WIP until at least the 21st.  That's my last day at work for the year.  I'm just too tired at night to do much other than eat dinner and nod off in middle of my knitting or stitching.

Remember Mr. Christmas Tree who we put in a time-out a week ago? He finally redeemed himself and is now standing much straighter (just not perfectly straight) in his stand. We put the lights on and that's as far as we've gotten. He looks nice with the lights:

My week has been so scattered between client projects and HR (can you say open enrollment?) that I couldn't post a weekend report until now. Here's what I accomplished:
6 double batches of biscotti (Espresso, chocolate, Grand Marnier, coconut, and peppermint)8 kinds of cookies (spumoni slices, chocolate-coffee slices, cut-out sugar cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, pistachio pinwheels, cranberry-coconut, cherry kisses, and spritz) Still to do some gingerbread cookies, another batch of bi…

Eye Candy Friday...

...but not a lot to show for it.  Here is the one picture I have today:

This lone paperwhite narcissus and the silly rose bush from last week are the only things blooming in the front yard. (I don't count the lantana bushes because they always seem to have flowers on them.

I haven't really done much this week because it's been so cold. When I get home from work, all I want to do is curl up under a warm blanket and sleep. I've made very little progress on the Christmas present that I'm's been one of those one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of thing. I've restarted it three times now. Very frustrating because I can visualize it, but I'm not having much luck getting it into concrete form.  [Sigh]

Up this weekend: I'm starting it a bit early with the company card signing party at 5pm today. We invite our employees to come into the office and sign the holiday cards that we mail to our clients, employees, and colleagues. We have an ornament …

WIP-it Wednesday, holiday version…

…because I can't show you my crafty WIPs!

Our current holiday WIP:

Our Christmas tree is in the house, but we're having issues. Here's one of the problems:

The trunk is huge!  After sitting in water for a few days, the trunk, which was already large, was so swollen that it no longer fit in the stand. The husband and I used a hand saw, a power saw, and a chisel to get it carved down enough to fit. 

The next issue is that we can't get it to stand straight. I think the trunk is crooked. We were both so frustrated last night that decided to let it stand in the corner until we could face it again.  The tree is on a time-out.

We'll look at it again tonight and determine which is the least offensive angle to view the tree, tighten the bolts, and call it done. Then we can decorate it!

The weekend was pretty full. On Saturday,. I did the last grocery run for baking supplies, baked a cranberry cake to take to Spin-In, and then went to Spin-In. On Sunday, we got our tree, I …

November 2011 Recap... was a good month for needlepoint; not so good for knitting (or quilting, or weaving, or...)

11/6 Hopi by Susan Portra (needlepoint) 11/27 Zuni (needlepoint)Books:
The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson  Promises in Death, JD Robb Salvation in Death, JD RobbStrangers in Death, JD RobbThe Wedding Quilt, Jennifer Chiaverini All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin, Stephanie Pearl-McPheeCreation in Death, JD Robb
11/27 Christmas present (that's all the detail you get)11/8 Zuni (needlepoint)11/6 Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
Worked on:
Nefertem Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
Works In Progress, did not work on:
Isonzo Merino-Bamboo top (spinning) [Ravelry] Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry]Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)Jungle Songs quiltNatural Dyes batts from Yarn Wench (spinning) [Ravelry]Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]Royale top, 2 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping War…

Welcome to baking month...

...after today, it's going to be mostly all-baking-all-the-time around here.

For Eye Candy Friday, here is this morning's sunrise:

A very confused rose bush...

It didn't get the memo that it is December. There are at least 15 blooms on the bush.

Wen I arrived at the office yesterday, I saw something odd out of the corner of my eye...

This leaf looked like it was floating in mid-air.

When I looked closer, I saw that it was suspended on a single strand of spider silk. The strand was attached at the top and at the bottom so the leaf spun vertically in the breeze.

There were many more leaves on the ground....

...and in the small stream that runs through our courtyard.

I officially start in baking mode December 1. While I don't actually get any baking done the first couple of days, I finish buying most of my ingredients. On Wednesday, I did the Smart & Final run for flour, sugar, and chocolate chips. Last night, I did the Trader Joe's run for nuts, white chocolate …