Last post of 2015...

...I can't believe how quickly this year has passed!

Here's a photo of this morning's sunrise to document the day:

Sunrise 12/31/15

I managed to take some photos of the quilt I finished. Here is Going Snow Global:

Going Snow Global quilt

Specs:
Start date unknown; fabric line is from 2006, so sometime after that.
Finished top and backing fabric: 12/31/12
Completed: 12/26/15
Pattern: Yellow Brick Road pattern by Atkinson Designs
Fabric: Moda’s Nick & Rudy snow globe fabric and other Christmas fabrics in the line

I also finished spinning the singles for Calypso [Ravelry].  I planned to ply it today, but that might not happen as we had a little fire drill this morning for a web site we manage.

At any rate, the Husband and I have a bottle of Champagne chilling outside (it's cold enough that we don't need a cooler) and we have some munchies. We'll ring in the New Year tonight in a very low-key manner, as always.

Happy New Year!
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Yes, I'm still here...

...things got very busy at work right before I went on vacation and then spiraled into the Christmas chaos. I thought about posting a few times, but just didn't have the energy by the end of the day.

Yesterday, I finally finished packing the boxes to be mailed and made the trip to the post office. The house looks like a disaster area, but at least that's done. I still have a couple of bags to deliver, but I'm pretty much done with goodies.

Here are a few photos to show the volume of packaging that I do. Here is the biscotti staging area, right before I start putting them into bags:

Biscotti staging area

Here are the containers ready to receive cookies:

Cookie staging area, before

...and after they are filled and ready to distribute:

Cookie staging area, after

All-in-all, I packaged 36 goodie bags/gifts this year.

It's been unusually cold in our area and I wanted to knit a hat for the Daughter to help keep her warm. I tried this hat, but I wasn't happy with the tight cast-on edge:

Gray Ribbed Hat

Specs:
Started 12/17/15
Finished 12/20/15
Pattern: New Quick and Easy Ribbed Hat by Laurie Kimmelstiel
Yarn: Lion Brand Hometown in Charcoal Gray

Fortunately, hats, especially those knit in super-bulky yarn, are very quick to do, so I knit a second hat. This hat fit well and allows her to turn up the brim when she doesn't want her ears covered.

Snow Queen Hat

Specs:
Started 12/20/15
Finished 12/24/15
Pattern: The Snow Queen by Bo Peep's Bonnets
Yarn: Lion Brand Hometown in Charcoal Gray

The day after Christmas is my R&R day. I don't do anything else I don't want to do as it's the lull between the madness of Christmas and the packing of the boxes to mail. This year, I decided to work on the Christmas quilt that has been in an unfinished state since 2012. I finally finished it and just need to take some photos.

Now it's time to look at my WIPs and UFOs and try to finish some of them.  Here's the roll call.

Worked on:
     Nothing yet

Works In Progress, did not work on:
  1. Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Calypso handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
  3. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Empress handspun [Ravelry]
  5. Mermaid of the Pearls (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)\
  4. Tuscon Twilight (needlepoint)
WIPs To Be:
  • A peacock or mermaid quilt for me.

Eye Candy Friday...

...a week before Christmas. Holy Cr@p!

Today is my last day at work for the year. I packed cookies and biscotti for my co-workers. I managed to get one small batch of Peppermint-Chocolate bark made and into their goodie bags.

The snowflakes turned out fine this year:

Snowflake sugar cookie 2015

and another view:

Snowflake sugar cookie, another view

Up this weekend: I need to make all of the chocolate bark, finish another batch of nuts and start packaging all of the goodies. I figure that will take a while, so I'll spread it over a few days.

The goal is to get everything packed up by Wednesday so I can remove the extra table from the kitchen and get all of the baking supplies put away. I also need to finish decorating the tree and the house. This is probably the latest I've ever done that, but it's hard to get motivated when it's so friggin' cold at night!

When I'm done with the packaging and the decorating, I can clean the house and get ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

At the last minute, I decided to knit a hat for the Daughter. I have some lovely charcoal gray bulky yarn that will make a nice warm hat. Heck, if I have time, I might make one for me. :)

I'm looking forward to having a couple of weeks off! Don't be surprised if my blogging is even more sporadic than it has been this month!
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Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...blog-and-run.

This week is very busy as I clean up my desk so I can take my annual Christmas vacation. I have so many open enrollment things to wrap up!
  1. Almost no crafting is happening right now, but cookies and biscotti are.
  2. Saturday was Biscotti Day. I baked 666 (I know!).
  3. Sunday was Icing Day. All of the sugar cookies were frosted and I spread chocolate on a little more than half of of biscotti.
  4. I also made 16 cups of Amaretto Nuts and 14 cups of Grand Marnier Nuts.
  5. I made one batch of Macadamia-Lime Fudge.
  6. Still to make: Chocolate bark, Chile-lime Nuts
  7. Still to do: Package everything! Not to mention Christmas shopping...I'm going to need this vacation!
Here are a few photos of Icing Day. The staging area (the dining room table):

Biscotti and cookie staging area

Bee and ornament cookies:

Bees and ornament cookies

Chocolate snowflakes:

Chocolate snowflakes in process

Peppermint biscotti:

Peppermint biscotti


Cranberry-Pistachio biscotti with Gingerbread biscotti in the back:

Cranberry-Pistachio biscotti
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WIP-it Wednesday...

...and it's all Christmas all the time around here. Crafting has come to a stand-still.

The biggest WIP right now, besides the baking, is out Christmas tree. We got it last Saturday and it's been sitting in a bucket of water until last night.

We moved the furniture and brought in the tree. Getting it in the stand is always challenging, but we managed by trimming some branches on the bottom. Getting it upright took brute force. At some point we're going to have to admit our ages and have someone help us. For now, we can still handle it.

After moving the furniture into the Christmas configuration, we decided that was all we could do for the night!

Christmas tree 2015, work in progress

I checked the stand for leaks this morning and found a small one. I puttied it and will check tonight when I get home.  If it's not leaking, I'll start decorating tonight.

I have a few pictures from Sunday's cookie baking. Here's one; the rest are in my Flickr photostream.

Chocolate-Espresso Slices

WIP Roll Call:

Worked on:
  • Baking:
    Finished the fruitcakes, lemon bread, and pumpkin bread. Made 772 cookies; about 175 need icing. Next up are biscotti, chocolate bark, and sugared nuts.
Works In Progress, did not work on:
  1. Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Calypso handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
  3. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Empress handspun [Ravelry]
  5. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  6. Mermaid of the Pearls (cross stitch)
  7. Sail (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)\
  4. Tuscon Twilight (needlepoint)
WIPs To Be:
  • A peacock or mermaid quilt for me.

Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...and the weekend report.
  • Saturday was bread and cake day. The results:
    Lemon bread - 8 mini loaves
    Pumpkin bread - 6 medium loaves and 6 mini loaves
    Fruitcakes - 8 medium and 12 mini loaves
  • We bought our Christmas tree Saturday morning, between the baking of lemon bread and fruitcakes. It's destined to come inside tonight after I get home from work.
  • In between bread batches, I did most of the laundry. At one point I had 3 timers going: one for the oven, one for the stuff in the refrigerator, and one for the laundry.
  • I also made the dough for 5 cookies that must be chilled before baking.
  • Sunday morning, on preparation for my friend Linda's arrival at 1pm, I cleaned the kitchen, living room and bathroom.  I had already arranged to have the Husband do the grocery shopping so I didn't have to go out for that. Then it was on to baking
  • Linda called and had to cancel...totally OK because her family had some time open up so they could go together and get their tree. It was right in the middle of when she was coming over. 
  • My rhythm was off all day Saturday. I kept dropping and spilling things, which doesn't normally happen. It continued somewhat into Sunday as it took me a while to get going.
  • I tried one new cookie that needed to be chilled before baking. OMG, the recipe was so annoying in the way the instructions were written.

    "On a cutting board, cut a log in half and half again. Then cut each quarter into thirds, yielding 12 cookies."

    Why not just say cut each log into 12 even slices? Or quarter/half-inch slices?

    By the cutting point, I'd already modified the recipe to make the logs longer than the 8 inches it specified because I wanted my cookies smaller in circumference. I went with a standard quarter-inch slices. As a result, I got 7 dozen instead of 4 dozen with one batch. Works for me!
  • The housework and being off-rhythm put me behind on Sunday. I ended up not having the energy to bake all of the cookies I wanted to. I'd been on my feet for two days, and if you think about it, it was the second week in a row where I did that--Thanksgiving was Wednesday ans Thursday of the previous week. No wonder my feet hurt!
  • I baked the last batch of cookies last night after work. I might make one more cookie, but that won't be until I take vacation right before Christmas.
  • The cookie total for Sunday and Monday:
    8 types of cookies, 772 total. Some of those need to be iced, which will happen next Sunday.

Late Eye Candy Friday...

...we had our card-signing party at the office today. Between that and some HR stuff I needed to do, the day got away from me.  So, I'm keeping this simple.

One of our Thanksgiving guests brought a gift and flowers.  The gift was a beautiful, scented candle:

Scented candle

The flowers are still going strong a week later:

Thanksgiving bouquet

Up this weekend: The baking orgy begins!

Saturday, we're going to get our Christmas tree. After that, I'll bake the fruitcakes, pumpkin breads, and lemon breads. I also need to make the slice and bake cookies so they can chill.

On Sunday, our friend Linda is coming over to help bake cookies. While she's handling the slice and bake cookies, I'm going to try a new cookie.  Linda and I will do a taste test and decide whether it's a keeper.

My goal is to finish all of the breads and bake most of the cookies. The following weekend will be biscotti and icing. Somewhere between now and the 18th, I need to make a batch of Grand Marnier nuts and package the gifts for the office.

It's going to be a busy couple of weeks!
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November 2015 recap...

...finished a couple of things, but really didn't make much headway on the WIPs or on my reading.

Finished:

  • 11/29 Sail (cross stitch)
  • 11/22 Additional Christmas stockings for Jane (sewing)
  • Books:
    1. Infinity Lost, S. Harrison,
    2. Daughter of Sand and Stone, Libbie Hawker
    3. Prince Lestat, Anne Rice
    4. Moonstone Beach, Linda Seed
    5. Wishes for Christmas, Fern Michaels
Started:
  • nothing
Worked on:
  • Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  • Calypso handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
  • Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  • Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
Works In Progress, did not work on:
  • Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  • Empress handspun [Ravelry]
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Mermaid of the Pearls (cross stitch)
  3. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  5. Tucson Twilight (needlepoint)
WIPs To Be:
  • A peacock or mermaid quilt for me.

WIP-it Wednesday...

...it's December. You know what that means...it's cookie time!

Baking is my main WIP this month, at least until Christmas Eve!  I have purchased all of the ingredients, although there are two that haven't arrived yet. I will start baking on Saturday!

WIP Roll Call:

Worked on:

  • Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
    I have 20 of 67 inches completed on the scarf portion of this project.
Works In Progress, did not work on:
  1. Calypso handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
  2. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Empress handspun [Ravelry]
  4. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  5. Mermaid of the Pearls (cross stitch)
  6. Sail (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)\
  4. Tuscon Twilight (needlepoint)
WIPs To Be:
  • A peacock or mermaid quilt for me.

F.O. Tuesday...

...I managed to finish two things in the last 10 days.

First, a completed cross stitch piece. This is Sail:

Sail, complete

Specs:
Started 9/6/2015
Finished 11/29/15
Monthly Musing by Shepherd’s Bush

I'm happy that this is finished. It's not my favorite piece because of the problems with the blues, but it's part of a series and it's done.


Next is the stealth sewing project. It is now in it's new home, so I can reveal it.

I made 3 additional stockings to match 6 that I made in 2008 for my friend Jane (story below):

Christmas stockings, take 2

and

Christmas Stocking, front and back

She also requested that I embroider a new name on an already-completed stocking.

Specs:
Started 10/24/15
Finished 11/22/15
Created 3 stockings to match the 6 that I created for Jane in 2008.
Fabric:  Nancy Halvorsen panels; unknown plaid fabric for binding; new backing and lining fabrics to match the colors of the originals

The story:
I originally made 6 stockings for Jane. Two were for Jane and her husband and 4 were for her daughter's family. Fast forward and her daughter remarried 6 months ago. Her new husband has two children, so she asked if I could make two more stockings that matched the 6 she already had (and put a new name on one of the existing stockings).

Now I don't know if you know that fabric lines are only available a year or two unless they are extremely popular. Pretty much, if you see a fabric you love, make sure to buy enough of it because you might not find it again. Given that the panels I used to make the stocking were available in 2008, there was no way they'd still be available.

I researched the fabric online. I found that the only place to buy a panel was from the UK and it cost an arm and a leg. I bought a book by the designer that had smaller versions of the same designs, but I would have to do design work to create larger appliqu├ęs to come up with something similar.

Now, I know me: I always buy more fabric than I need in case I make a mistake or I hate the way something turns out. So I searched in my long-term fabric storage and found 3 extra stocking panels. Whew!

I also make more binding than I need and tuck away the extra. When I looked in my binding storage bin, I found the leftover binding from the first set of stockings. And it was definitely enough for the extras! Score!

I enlisted the help of the local quilt store to find a backing fabric that was in the right color range since I could not find anything similar to the old fabric. (And, of course, I bought extra of that!) I found a similar lining fabric online and purchased more than I'd need (thank you equilter.com).

I checked with Jane to get the correct spelling for the two kids' names. And she asked for another stocking!! Apparently one of the kids has a half-brother...it's good that I had an extra stocking panel and that I had enough binding.!

With the existing stocking as a guide, I quilted the stocking pieces and embroidered the names (and embroidered blond curls on the elf) on before assembly. By using the same binding, the stockings all look the same on the front, and only look different on the back and on the inside.

She was surprised and thrilled to get them yesterday, just in time for Christmas decorating. Mission accomplished!

Now that I have those completed, I can swing into full baking mode!
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WIP-it Wednesday...

...pretend I'm posting this on a break during my cooking marathon. ;-) WIPs Roll Call Worked On: Charred Teal Shawl (knitting) [ ...