Friday, December 07, 2018

Eye Candy Friday...

...and rolling into a long baking weekend.

I'm completely loving the skies and clouds.

11/30/18:

Clouds 11/30/18

12/5/18:

Morning clouds 12/5/18

Today was a co-worker's birthday and she bought her own cake from Whole Foods. This is a Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch cake:

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch cake, close up

Up this weekend:  We hope to get our Christmas tree - I just don't know if it will be Saturday or Sunday. Other than that, the primary focus will be baking.

I have the 9 cookie doughs in the refrigerator to bake. There are 3 or 4 other cookies to make as well.

The day that we don't buy the Christmas tree will be biscotti day. I need an entire day for that!
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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

WIP-it Wednesday...

...it's December, so you know my main WIP is baking!

I've mentioned before that this is the last year of my cookie baking marathon at Christmas time. Since it's the last one, I thought I'd document some of my process. Who knows...you might want to do your own marathon! While my processes work for me, they might give you an idea of how to modify them for your own use.

First up: how I organize my recipes and track what I'm making.

Organization is key.

When I started in 1986, I used a calendar to identify what I wanted to bake and when.  I started tracking what I was making from the beginning, but I didn't always note how many I actually baked per recipe. The calendar evolved into a spreadsheet when I realized that I was going to devote my month to baking and the only date that mattered was 12/24! And I got a lot better at noting how many I made.

I used to bake one cookie per day, mostly because I only had a couple of cookie sheets and I needed to wash them in between. Now I have multiple cookie sheets (17 at last count) and cooling racks, and devote 3 weekends to the entire baking process to produce many more cookies than before.

I used to print copies of spreadsheet and mark them up as I finished things up. I'd also print fresh copies of the recipes and mark them with any changes. I finally realized that I wasn't changing the recipes any more, so I printed them on card stock and laminated them.

Before baking season starts, I peruse cookie and baking magazines to see whether there are any fresh decorating ideas or recipes I want to cycle in. I print the new recipes and sort through the laminated recipes to come up with a set of what I want to bake. Then I organize them in envelopes.

A peek at how I track my Christmas baking

  • I mark a new envelope with the current year. I'll track cookies on the left and other items on the right.
  • Receipts: I put all receipts for ingredients and packaging in this envelope.
  • To Do: Holds the recipes that I plan on making.
  • In Process: Holds recipes that are partially done, like ice box cookies that are chilling or cookies that need decorating.
  • Maybe: Holds recipes that I might make if I have enough time.
When a recipe is complete, I put it in the envelope marked with the year. At the end of the baking marathon, I remove all of the recipes from the year envelope and move the receipts into this envelope. I update all of my spreadsheets and file printouts and the year envelope in a binder.

It takes more words to explain things that it does to handle them!

WIPs Roll Call

Worked On:

  • Charred Teal Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
    Three-quarters of the way through section 4.
In the Queue
  • Renaissance Mermaid (cross stitch)
  • Sand and Sea quilt for MIL (quilting)
  • Shimmering Advancing Point Twill Wrap (weaving)
Works In Progress, Did Not Work On This Week:
  1. Baroque Hat (knitting) [Ravelry
  2. Finishing work for some old crewel pictures (sewing) 
  3. Look Through My Window quilt for me (quilting)
  4. Mother of Dragons shawl (knitting) [Ravelry
  5. St. Charles (needlepoint)
  6. Valley of the Heart's Delight sampler design (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Bear Paw pottery (needlepoint)
  3. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  5. Tucson Twilight (needlepoint)

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November 2018 recap...

...a lot more reading!

Finished:
  1. 11/3 Bohemian Tote Bag (sewing) - formerly known as Secret Project
  2. 11/3 Sunflower Zip bag (sewing)
  3. 11/3 Chloe's Catnip Mousie (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. 11/3 Envy handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
    Merino-Tussah Silk-Black Welsh-Stellina (4.0 oz) from Homestead Hobbyist
    236.4 chain-ply; 13 WPI
  5. Books:
    1. Alone, Lisa Gardner
    2. Archangel’s Prophecy, Nailing Singh
    3. Find Her, Lisa Gardner
    4. The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines
    5. Crash and Burn, Lisa Gardner
    6. Rapid Falls, Amber Cowie
    7. If Not For You, Debbie Macomber
    8. Here’s to Us, Elin Hilderbrand
    9. Right Behind You, Lisa Gardner
    10. Any Dream Will Do, Debbie Macomber
    11. Gods of Magic, Linsey Hall
Started:
  • 11/2 Chloe's Catnip Mousie (knitting) [Ravelry
  • 11/3 Sunflower Zip bag (sewing)
  • 11/3 Envy handspun (spinning) [Ravelry]
Queued
  • Renaissance Mermaid (cross stitch)
  • Sand and Sea quilt for MIL (quilting) 
  • Shimmering Advancing Point Twill Wrap (weaving)
Works In Progress:
  1. Baroque Hat (knitting) [Ravelry
  2. Charred Teal Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Finishing work for some old crewel pictures (sewing) 
  4. Look Through My Window quilt for me (quilting)
  5. Mother of Dragons shawl (knitting) [Ravelry
  6. St. Charles (needlepoint)
  7. Valley of the Heart's Delight sampler design (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Bear Paw pottery (needlepoint)
  3. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  5. Tucson Twilight (needlepoint)

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...and the weekend report.
  • Friday afternoon, I did ingredient shopping at Smart and Final and at Trader Joes.
  • On Saturday, I hung up the Advent calendars and the stockings.
  • I also did the ingredient shopping at Safeway.
  • I baked the pumpkin breads and fruitcakes. I made room in the freezer and got them all in. Yay!
  • In between baking batches of breads and cake, I managed to get the laundry done.
  • On Sunday, I did a regular grocery run and picked up a couple of things I missed on the previous day.
  • I spent the rest of the day making cookie dough, right up to dinner time!
  • If this wasn't the last year of the cookie marathon, I know which cookies I would cycle out: the Pistachio Spirals, Spumoni Slices,  and the Espresso-Chocolate ribbons are the biggest PITA to make. They all require rolling the dough into certain sizes.
    • The spirals require stacking 2 rectangles of dough and then rolling them up.
    • The ribbons require stacking 3 rectangles of dough in a certain order.
    • The ribbons require stacking 2 portions of 3 dough rectangles in a certain order and then stacking the stacks until you have six layers.
    Even after chilling, the dough is somewhat soft, making it hard to stack the dough precisely. One of them always falls apart!
  • The doughs are all ready to slice and bake, when I get the energy!
Weekend tally:
  1. Pumpkin bread: 10 mini loaves
  2. Fruitcakes: 18 mini loaves
  3. Cookie dough: 9 different kinds

Friday, November 30, 2018

Eye Candy Friday...

...such as it is.

I have not had time to take many photos, but I do have one from our trip to Mom's: a rainbow on the way home:

Rainbow 11/24/18

Up this weekend: It's time to cycle over to baking.

Today, I will start the ingredient shopping. The goals for Saturday and Sunday is to bake the fruitcakes and pumpkin bread, and prep the cookie dough that much be refrigerated. It doesn't sound like much, but I'll be in the kitchen all weekend!

The advent calendars will go up tomorrow and then it's the mad scramble to get the Christmas decorating done at the same time that I'm baking.

Yes, it's Cookie Time!!
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

WIP-it Wednesday...

...sorry, no photos this week either.  It was raining too hard for me to go out to the studio and take photos of the current WIPs.

I have added another project to the list: a quilt for my mother-in-law. When we visited her at her memory care facility before Thanksgiving, I noticed that her side of the shared room was pretty empty of anything personal. Her roommate has a nice quilt on her bed, so I decided we needed to make one for my MIL.

My original thought was an Irish-themed quilt, but I quickly discarded that idea. The quilt examples that I found were either too complicated (Irish-Chain quilt) or too cartoony (leprechauns) for her taste. Given that the quilt might accidentally disappear at the facility, I don't want to invest hours and hours in it, but I do want it to be nice.

She really loves the seashore and seashells. In my stash, I found a panel from the Sand and Sea collection by Wilmington Prints and a couple of other fabrics in the line. The panel has large seahorses and shells that she will love. I just ordered another panel and one more fabric in the line. Combining the two panels and the fabrics will give me enough to make a quilt to fit her bed. I already have a fabric to use for backing - it's a print of ocean waves.

Another project for the queue!

WIPs Roll Call

Worked On:

  • Charred Teal Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
    Finished Section 3...finally! Halfway through section 4.
In the Queue
  • Renaissance Mermaid (cross stitch)
  • Sand and Sea quilt for MIL (quilting)
  • Shimmering Advancing Point Twill Wrap (weaving)
Works In Progress, Did Not Work On This Week:
  1. Baroque Hat (knitting) [Ravelry
  2. Finishing work for some old crewel pictures (sewing) 
  3. Look Through My Window quilt for me (quilting)
  4. Mother of Dragons shawl (knitting) [Ravelry
  5. St. Charles (needlepoint)
  6. Valley of the Heart's Delight sampler design (cross stitch)
UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Be My Baby for My Baby (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Bear Paw pottery (needlepoint)
  3. Canto de Sirena shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  4. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  5. Tucson Twilight (needlepoint)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...and the Thanksgiving report.

The long weekend was pretty busy, so I didn't really have time to post.
  • We woke up Wednesday to rain!! It was so good to smell clean air after 10 days of smokey and hazy days.
  • We went to my Mom's on Wednesday. I baked an apricot cobbler when I got there so I wouldn't have to deal with it on Thanksgiving Day.
  • I helped my sister set the table and helped my mom with whatever she'd let me do. Let me tell you, at 88 she still has a ton of energy!
  • ON Thanksgiving day, we all pitched in to do whatever needed doing. The turkeys (!) were cooked in electric roasters, freeing up the oven for the side dishes.
  • 14 people arrived for dinner. It was yummy and the desserts were fabulous. We all ate too much, but it was all SO good!
  • We came home on Saturday morning. I cooked our turkey and The Daughter joined us for dinner.  I cooked a smaller turkey this year because there were only 3 people. So, fewer leftovers, but that's a good thing!
  • I worked on the Charred Teal Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry] in our car trips to Mom's. I finally finished section 3 and I'm about a third of the way on section 4.Yay!
  • I really didn't work much on anything else. Even though I had 5 days off, it really only felt like a regular weekend.
My apricot-almond cobbler:
Apricot-Almond Cobbler

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Eye Candy Friday...

...and rolling into a long baking weekend. I'm completely loving the skies and clouds. 11/30/18: 12/5/18: Today was a co-w...