Showing posts from December, 2013

Last day of 2013...

...our tree is ready to bid goodbye to 2013 and welcome the new year:

I have some champagne chilling and most of the fixings for tomorrow's Hoppin' John.  I need to make a quick grocery run for tonight's dinner once I figure out what we're having! After all the baking and Christmas celebrations, cooking is the last thing I want to do.

I'm trying to finish a couple of things before midnight (go ahead...laugh). I have a bobbin full of Cazadero Mist singles ready to ply and 2 or 3 edging repeats to finish on the Southern Skies shawl. I suppose I can't really declare the shawl done until I block it. I'm not sure I have enough time for that!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! See you on the flip-side...

last Eye Candy Friday of 2013...

Image's sunrise:

and some paperwhite narcissus:

and another:

Up this weekend: Today, I'm buying the boxes for mailing the goodies and presents to my out-of-town friends and relatives. It will take me several hours to wrap the cookies and biscotti so they will survive the gentle handing of USPS. LOL!

The Husband is delivering the goodies to our Sacramento-area family on Saturday. I'll prep those for the 2-hour car trip. They don't need quite as much prep as those being mailed, but I won't be going with them. I'll give them a little extra cushioning just to be safe.

Once I mail everything, I'm swapping over to craft-mode. My studio needs a little help as that was wrapping-central, but it won't take long to get it back in order. The a little spinning, a little cross stitch, a little...

Happy Boxing Day...

...with the flurry of activity around here, I didn't get a chance to post until now.

I finished all of the goodies by Sunday and started packaging Sunday afternoon. I got the cookies and biscotti done, but had to wait until Monday to package everything else. I've separated the stuff that needs to be mailed and that will be tomorrow's task...I need to buy boxes first.

The final goodie total:
Bark: 9 poundsBiscotti: 661Breads and fruitcakes: 30 mini-loaves and 10 medium loaves Cookies: 815Spicy nuts: 3 pounds Sugared nuts: 12 pounds After that, I cleaned the house and moved into Christmas Eve dinner preparations. I made the last grocery run as early as I could on Tuesday (but still not early enough...what a zoo!), while the Husband went out to get the seafood for the Cioppino.

I made a coconut flan for dessert that turned out pretty well. I think next time I might chop the coconut separately and then adding it to the liquid mixture. The recipe calls for blending it all toget…

Eye Candy Friday, Christmas-goodie style...

...having successfully delivered goodie bags to my co-workers, I can take a small breather to get some pictures. Ready?

Polar bear sugar cookie:

Sheep! sugar cookie:

Horse chocolate sugar cookie:

You'll notice that these cookies are very simple in the decoration department. That's one way that I keep my sanity when I make 500+ cookies. :)

Gingerbread cookie:

This is the result of Plan B. Although I followed the recipe closely, the dough was way too dry to form a ball, much less be rolled out so I could use my gingerbread man cutter. Instead, I made one-inch balls, rolled them in sugar crystals, and flattened them with a glass. BTW, this was the second Gingerbread-FAIL I had this season. Time for some new recipes!

Grand Marnier Pecans are a staple in the goodie bags:

And new this year, Salted Caramel Bark:

I need to rework the recipe a bit because there was no way to break the bark. I think cutting it with a knife would have been easier, or mixing the caramel in a bit more.


WIP-it Wednesday roll call...

...sorry, no pictures as I haven't had time to take any!

My long-standing WIPs have had no play this month and probably won't get any until after Christmas! I need to concentrate on the gift knitting when I finally get some craft time!

WIPs in rotation:

Mediterranean Mermaid (cross stitch):
Still working on the hair. The Night is Purple and Full of Stars (Southern Skies) shawl [Ravelry]:
Stitching edging repeat number 41 of 58. Carbonized Zombie socks [Ravelry]
Working the instep decreasesStealth project for a friend's Christmas present (knitting)Make Mine Gray hat for the Husband [Ravelry]
Waiting to be rotated in:
Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint) Cazadero Mist handspun  [Ravelry] Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry] Hive cross stitch (see above)Love Scissor fob (cross stitch) Hibernating:
Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry] Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)Seaweed Cardiga…

Random Tuesday... I rapidly run out of spare time.

The weekend report: 661 biscotti baked; one cookie dough made and chilling in the refrigerator, spread chocolate on 75% of the biscotti (we keep some plain), and frosted the sugar cookies. The snowflake cookies got their base coat (stage 1 of 3). BTW, the repaired mixer did need for the back-up mixer! Hooray!

I also got most of the decorating done. The only thing left to decorate is the Star Trek tree.

Still to do: the chocolate bark, the macadamia fudge, the chile-chocolate truffles, and the chile-lime nuts. And then there's all the packaging. There's light at the end of the tunnel, though. My last day at work for the year is Friday and I'll have the 21st through the 23rd to finish and package things up. I just need to worry about the gifts for our coworkers this week.

With having so much to do, it doesn't help when I feel sick. I think something I ate yesterday did not agree with my highly-charged body and I felt a…

Eye Candy Friday-the-13th...

...and we're getting closer to Christmas!

Today's eye candy is Christmas decorations, I bought a few things from Pier One that caught my eye when I was buying candles for Thanksgiving. I love peacocks and the colors normally associated with them ...turquoise, blues, and greens. I found a peacock ornament and some sequined ornaments that had to come home with me. The tail of the peacock ornament:

a bowl of gorgeous colors:

and a close-up of one sequined ball:

I've been spending my evenings decorating the house. The only things left to are to put up the nativity set and decorate the Star Trek tree. The main Christmas tree can always use more ornaments, but if I don;t add any more, it's good as it is. I'm way ahead of where I'm normally at for the 13th. Now if I could only get my Christmas letter written!

Up this weekend: tomorrow is biscotti day! We'll see whether the mixer's new gear holds up to the 7 types of biscotti that I have planned. I have a backu…

My mixer is fixed!

Image least, we think it is. Here's what the old and new gears look like:

I did a trial run of gingerbread loaves last night and the mixer worked fine for that. I'm a little gun-shy about resuming my normal, double-batch ways, but I really don't have time to do much else!  Just in case, I've researched local stores for prices and availability for a new time to wait for one to be shipped from Amazon. I hope this new gear fixes the problem as I have no desire to see my loom savings account  to go towards a new mixer.

Anyway while we waited for the part to arrive, I started decorating the house for Christmas. The tree is about 75% decorated:

I'm still unpacking the decorations that go on the buffet and various tables. And  I haven't touched the Star Trek tree yet.

Christmas is my biggest WIP right now!

Christmas Baking: The good, the bad, and the ugly...

...the weekend had all three elements, in varying order.

Saturday started great. We bought our Christmas tree and got it set up in the house. I did a quick run to Trader Joe's to get pistachios and eggs. Then it was time for baking!

I made the fruitcake batter sans fruit in the mixer. Because I make so much fruitcake, there's no way the KitchenAid mixer can hold everything, so I always finish it in my giant mixing bowl.  I used mini-bundt pans, some larger paper bundt pans I found at Cost Plus, and a mini rose cake pan.
The good: The paper bundt pans worked great plus I don't have to unmold them!The bad: The mini-bundt and rose pans are a giant P.I.T.A. when it comes to unmolding the fruitcakes (or any cakes). It took a good 30 minutes to get them out of the pans. Ugh!The ugly: the fruitcakes in the rose pan were way to dark...not suitable for gift-giving. Scratch 6. The rest of the day went well. My goal was to make all of the dough that had to be refrigerated and I met t…

Mum's the word for Eye Candy Friday...

...chrysanthemum, that is. The mums are holding their own in the cold weather and the mums in my Thanksgiving flower arrangement are still looking good.

Yellow mum:

Orange mum:

Mum in flower arrangement:

and a distinctly un-mum purple flower:

Up this weekend: Baking!!!  After we get our Christmas tree tomorrow morning, the cookie baking begins. I need to make all of the chilled doughs first so they can spend overnight in the refrigerator.  Then I'll bake the fruitcakes and get them into the freezer. Then, I'll start the cookies that don't need to be chilled, like the spritz and the cherry kisses.

On Sunday, Aunt Linda will come over to help with the refrigerator cookies and I'll work on some of the others. The goal is to get as many of the 11 cookie types baked this weekend. Next weekend will devoted to baking the biscotti, icing the cookies and putting chocolate on the biscotti, and making the chocolate bark and truffles.

It will be a full weekend!

WIP-it Wednesday...

Image which the major WIPs are baked goods! At least  I've started  started my Christmas baking!

I baked the pumpkin bread on Monday and baked the lemon bread on Tuesday. I think those are the only things I can really make until the weekend. The fruitcakes take a long time to bake and I make 24 mini cakes--they won't all fit in the oven at the same time.  I simply don't have enough time to bake two batches after I get home at 7pm. It's going to be a busy baking weekend.

My kitchen is now in cookie mode: I have moved in the extra table, covered it in foil, and then placed cooling racks on top of that. I managed to clear out half of the freezer, which I have no filled with the pumpkin and lemon breads. I need to clear out more room for the fruitcakes. We're about done with Thanksgiving leftovers, so I can clear the refrigerator shelves in preparation for cookie doughs and chocolate.

On the craft front, I was able to make some progress on the mermaid. She now has a fa…

Hello, December...

...I'm not quite ready for you yet!

The blog was not high on my priority list last week...sorry about that.  With  all of Wednesday spent cooking, all of Thursday devoted to Thanksgiving, and Friday spent with friends and family at the Christmas Tree Farm, the last thing I want to do on Saturday was spend a lot of time on the computer.

Pictures were also secondary, but I did get a picture of my Thanksgiving table before everyone arrived:

We had a total of 13 around the table. It was a lovely Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed having new guests. There was too much food (as usual) and not enough time to spend with everyone. But everyone had a good time!

We continue to reorganize things in the house. I finally let go of some glassware that we've been storing and have not used in years. I swear, I have no idea why I wanted to keep wedding gifts that my ex and I received...out of sight, out of mind!  But they're out of here!

We replaced our butcher block island with a large rol…

November 2013 recap... which not a lot of "done" happened.

11/17 Verdant art yarn (spinning) [Ravelry]
Art rolags (3.7 oz) from The Yarn Wench;
Auto-wrapped with gold DMC thread;
core-spun with Aunt Lydia crochet thread in blue-green; Bulky weightBooks: Archangels Legion , Nalini SinghDark Witch, Nora RobertsUnfinished Business, Nora RobertsDead Witch Walking, Kim HarrisonSome Girls Bite, Chloe NeillChocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Joanne FlukeA Touch of Dead, Charlaine HarrisDevils Food Cake Murder, Joanne FlukeStarted:
11/17 Cazadero Mist (4 oz) from Royale Hare [Ravelry]Worked on:
Be a Witch by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)The Night is Purple and Full of Stars (Southern Skies) shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]Love scissor fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia, originally started 11/6/11; restarted 9/1/13 (cross stitch)Carbonized Zombie Socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
Works In Progress, did not work on:
Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)Celaeno Shawl (kni…