Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Project Recap

Well, 2006 was a a good year for project stuff. I finished a few more things than in 2005. So without further ado, here's the recap.

Finished in 2006 (alphabetical order)
  1. Advent calendar (sewing) 12/2006
  2. Baby booties in Lorna's Laces Angel (knitting) 02/2006
  3. Baby hat in Lorna's Laces Angel (knitting) 02/2006
  4. Catnip Mouse, tan (knitting) 04/2006
  5. Catnip Mouse, teal (knitting) 05/2006
  6. Cowboy Santa Ornament (cross stitch) 12/2006
  7. "Dances with Turtles" quilt (quilting) 06/2006
  8. Kitty Pi bed (knitting, felting) 10/2006
  9. Knit2 prototype sock bag in red, black and white (sewing) 09/2006
  10. Knit2 sock bag in copper, black and blue (sewing) 09/2006
  11. "Kokopelli" (needlepoint) 01/2006
  12. "Ohm" shawl (knitting) 03/2006
  13. Rainbow Collection box of quotes (other) 06/2006
  14. Santa Fe #2, “Woman with Pots 2,” (needlepoint) 02/2006
  15. Scarf, aqua & purple scarf in Athena & Rowan Kidsilk Haze (knitting) 02/2006
  16. Scarf, purple Misti Alpaca, version 1 (knitting) 09/2006
  17. Scarf, purple Misti Alpaca, version 2 (knitting) 10/2006
  18. Scarf, steel blue Patons Carmen (knitting) 12/2006
  19. Scarf, teal and blue scarf in Moda Dea Cheri (knitting) 02/2006
  20. Scissor fob with purchased Fimo beads (other) 09/2006
  21. Sewing room reorganization (organizing) 02/2006
  22. Shawl, black and silver in Paton's Glitterallic yarn (knitting) 01/2006
  23. "Sister Moon" quilt (quilting) 08/2006
  24. Socks, Calla Lily from the Petals Collection (knitting) 09/2006
  25. Socks, Cedar Creeks (knitting) 06/2006
  26. Socks, Rock and Weave (knitting) 07/2006
  27. Socks, Regia yarn in "Passion" (knitting) 01/2006
  28. Spa gift baskets (5): 6 bars of Grapefruit Cassis soap, 6 bars Papaya-Coconut Soap, 6 bars Pina Colada soap, 5 jars of Grapefruit Sugar-Salt Scrub, 5 jars of Lavender Bath Salts, 1 knitted washcloth (other) 08/2006
  29. Stash database updated to include books, yarn, and needles (organizing) 05/2006
  30. Stitch markers: 4 with crocheted purple beads, 7 with blue glass beads (other) 09/2006
  31. Stitch markers: 6 with purchased Fimo beads, 3 with aqua glass beads (other) 08/2006
  32. "Stockings Were Hung" Pine Mountain pillow (cross stitch) 12/2006
  33. Teal felted bag (knitting & felting) 04/2006
  34. Travel case for my DPNs (sewing) 06/2006
  35. "Winter Foursome" Pine Mountain pillow (cross stitch) 01/2006
Works in Progress (Started in 2006):
  1. "C is for Kitty Cat" by Sweetheart Tree (cross stitch)
  2. Baby afghan (knitting)
  3. Cascade Fixation anklets (knitting)
  4. Central Air socks (knitting)
  5. Flip-top mittens in charcoal Plymouth Baby Alpaca, second one on needles (knitting)
  6. Hydrangea socks (knitting)
  7. Twinkletoes slippers (knitting)
Works in Progress, Long Term (Started before 2006):
  1. "Hopi" by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  2. "Peacock Majesty" by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  3. "Paint it Black" quilt
Works on Hold, Long Term (Started before 2006)
  1. "Flower Power” quilt; top finished, need to sandwich and quilt (quilting)
  2. "Jungle Songs" quilt; top finished, need to sandwich and quilt (quilting)
  3. “Queen Mermaid” by Mirabilia (cross stitch; poor thing is still languishing in its stretcher bars)
  4. “Seahorses” pillow (needlepoint; one third done; have not resolved the problem with the faulty canvas painting)
  5. “Wright Stuff” quilt; sandwiched, just need to quilt it!
Back to the Drawing Board (all knitting):
  1. Jaywalker socks in Trekking XXL purples
  2. Jaywalker socks in STR Lagoon
  3. Opal Tiger k2p2 socks
  4. T-shirt in claret TLC yarn
You know, it didn't look like this much during the year, but when I put it all in one post--whew!

I haven't set any concrete project goals for 2007 yet, other than a vague "I've got to finish some of these old WIPs!" There are also a few projects that I finished long ago that need their pictures taken.

I think I'll spend some time looking over my WIPs and prioritizing them. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually finish a few!

Happy New Year to you all! Wishing you a peaceful and productive 2007!

Recapping December 2006 and the year...

I realize that I have the rest of the day to finish something, but considering the projects that I have in progress, that probably won't happen!

I'm going to list my end-of-the-month recap here and post my end of the year stuff in a separate post.

December 2006 recap
  • Advent Calendar for my daughter (sewing)
  • Cowboy Santa ornament (cross stitch)
  • "Stockings Were Hung" Pine Mountain pillow kit
  • Scarf, Patons Carmen in steel blue

  • Twinkletoes slippers (knitting)
  • Burgundy Alpaca scarf (knitting)

Worked on:
  • Sangria Shawl (knitting)
  • Flip-top mittens: one done; working on ribbing for the second one (knitting)
The second flip-top mitten is coming along slowly. Since I'm not sure whether my daughter can even wear them due to her allergy problems with animal fibers, I'm not in a big hurry to finish these. And I had to take two steps back on the Sangria shawl due to a needle problem. I still haven't found the perfect needles to use for this shawl. I am now trying some Boye Balene needles I had in my stash -- they are flexible and a little easier on the hands, so we'll see how they work with the pattern.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Last Eye Candy Friday of the year...! It's hard to believe the year is almost over! Here's my last installment of Eye Candy Friday:

Mermaid in glass
This gorgeous glass mermaid was one of the gifts from my husband. While we both love the ocean, he's not quite into mermaids as much as I am (although he's kind of stuck with them since I have two cross-stitched mermaids hanging in our bedroom). However, we both love the mermaids by Lionel Chapital (Andaluzia Art Glass). This is the third Andaluzia piece my husband has given me. I have another mermaid hanging in my bathroom and a beautiful seahorse sculpture.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours unearthing my sewing room. It's still a little chaotic, but its far better than it was when I started. I did manage to get the leftover Christmas fabric put away, as well as a bunch of stray knitting needles. I "found" two quilt tops that need to be sandwiched and quilted, as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright quilt that is ready for quilting. I'd tucked them away into a cabinet and totally forgot about them! (Not to mention the many cross-stitch projects that have been patiently waiting for me to get back into the mood.)

We'll see what catches my attention today!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas gifts revealed...

In previous posts, I mentioned that I had crafted some gifts for a friend, Now that she has received them, I can finally show pictures of them.

Here's part one of her gift: a Christmas pillow I made using a Pine Mountain Designs kit.

Christmas pillow
I love their kits -- they always look great when they're finished. I love the fabrics and finishing that they use.

Here's part two: a cowboy Santa ornament.

Cowboy SantaI used one of my favorite patterns for the ornament. It was originally in Southwest Crafts, a magazine that was only around for a year or so (1989-1990). I love the cowboy boots and hat! I used a strip of leather as the hanger and treated the raw edges of the fabric with a touch of fabric glue so they wouldn't unravel.

I enjoyed doing these two cross stitch projects. Maybe it's time to add a cross stitch project to my rotation. We'll see...

Yesterday, I took some time to visit my local yarn shop, Purlescence. I picked up a copy of Victorian Lace Today, some more Socks That Rock (Downpour, Rocktober, Love-in-Idleness), and some Rowan Calmer in chocolate brown to make Twinkletoes from the current issue of Knitty.

I started on Twinkletoes and then spent a little time working on my Sangria shawl and on the second flip-top mitten for my daughter. It was a very relaxing day. I could use a few more of those!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Rocks!

Santa was very good to me! Not only did I get the iPod shuffle I wanted (to use when I run), but I also got the KnitPicks Options needle set I've been coveting. And my daughter gave me a gift certificate to Burke Williams Spa for a facial (their facials are to die for!) and a very warm Johns Hopkins hoodie...I feel very spoiled!

After opening our presents, we went to my in-laws house to have lunch and visit. We got home late afternoon and kicked back...watching old movies and just enjoying the quiet. Oh, and I knitted a scarf for one of my daughter's friends.

Today the daughter went to visit friends. I made quick grocery run and cleaned up the remains of the unwrapping. I set up the new iPod and read a little. Now, I'm actually going to do some knitting for me, probably my lace shawl that has been stuffed in a knitting bag for several weeks.

I like this being on vacation thing...I can pretty much do whatever I want, when I want. I could get used to this!

Monday, December 25, 2006

[Happy|Merry] holiday_of_choice and Peace to All...

In our house, we celebrate Christmas day. It's always been a special time for our family, although some years it can get a bit scattered due to various obligations to parents, grandparents, etc. This year, we'll spend time with my husband's parents for part of the day; we were there yesterday to see some family members who couldn't visit today.

I finished packing all the gift items on Saturday. The chocolate is stored in the refrigerator until it's time to deliver the bags. Here's what it looked like yesterday before we started delivering them:

Gift Bags
Keep in mind that 6 small and two specialty bags have already been delivered and are not in the picture. Also, the number of bags increased to 26: 9 small bags, 15 large bags, and 2 specialty. I made an extra one for my sister who was in town for the 49er game and another for our daughter's good friend who's in town from L.A.

I'm up before everyone, as usual, enjoying the peace of the early morning and admiring the tree. We do have quite an eclectic tree, with ornaments that I have collected since my Freshman year in college. For now, it also displays my daughter's collection of ornaments. Every year since she was born, I give her at least one ornament for her collection. Once she finally gets settled into her own home, she has enough ornaments for her own tree.

Unlike the trees we had when I was growing up, I do not use glass ball ornaments, except for a few small ones. Each year the combination of ornaments is a little different. Some years, I put a lot of the Hallmark lighted or musical ornaments and we have a very noisy tree!

Tree Detail
This year's main tree has a mix of Winne the Pooh, basketball, cats, Southwestern, Mexican tin, mermaids, mirrored ones from India, wooden toys, celestial, cross stitched, and knitted items. You'll also find a sequined brontosaurus (from when our daughter was into dinosaurs), a beaded pea pod (her nickname when she was a baby), and a little wooden box of floss (for my cross stitch obsession). (I also have a smaller Star Trek tree. Every year I buy the new Hallmark ornament and have too many to keep on the main tree. As my husband says, nothing says "Christmas" like a Borg cube!)

Anyway, we like having a "different" tree -- it's so us!

Merry ChristmasSo from our house to yours: We wish you peace and happiness. Live Long and Prosper!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eye Candy Friday, Christmas-style

In honor of the fast approaching day... (click to see larger versions)
  • A snowflake cookie...
    Snowflake cookie
  • Our Christmas tree, sans star (our daughter will put this on when she gets home)...

    Christmas tree 2006
  • ...and some Christmas candles

Last night I was up late packing the gift bags for work. Now, there were only six for work, but I end having to pack up everyone else's cookies, biscotti, and sugared nuts just to make sure that everyone gets at least a sample. The grand total this year is 24: 9 small bags, 13 large bags, and 2 specialty (one soap-only and one with only 5 cookies -- these were by request). Not the highest number I've ever done, but it's close!

Tonight, I'm going to wrap presents and not look at baked goods for one night!

Are we there yet?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Adeste Biscotti...


Last night, I frosted the cookies and put chocolate on the 4 kinds of biscotti I baked over the weekend. I used white chocolate topped with ground pistachios for the Pistachio-Cranberry biscotti. All the rest got semisweet chocolate; the Double Espresso biscotti got an added bonus of chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans as a topping. I wish I'd had enough energy to take a picture of it all last night -- oh, well!

I made the last batch of chocolate bark. I made pistachio-cranberry in semisweet chocolate. I made a lot of pistachio items this time because my boss (who owns a pistachio ranch) gave me 3 pounds to use in my baking. I still have a ton left, but they make a great snack!

I also made a batch of Winter Solstice soap as a gift for someone, which I delivered today.

Tonight I pack everything into boxes or bags so I can deliver my presents to coworkers tomorrow. I'm looking forward to being done with this all so I can find my kitchen floor under it's layer of flour, sugar, and chocolate! Also, my kid comes home tomorrow and I want to spend some time with her!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Red and green, not just for Christmas decorations...

...they are also the colors of my fingernails. Gel food dyes work really well.

After frosting all the sugar cookies last night, my hands look frightening. Aside from being very dry because they are washed many times, they are also lovely shades of red and green, with a little blue thrown in. It will wear off quickly, thank goodness. But, I have lovely, green Christmas tree and cactus cookies, pretty yellow stars, blue moons, and, of course, white snowflakes.

I also made a batch of peppermint bark and a batch of Rocky Road candy. I love these because they are so simple--melt the chocolate, add stuff to them, and chill!

Tonight, I add the final touches to the snowflakes (edible glitter and pearl luster dust) and put chocolate on half of the biscotti. Then, it's time to start packing up all this stuff! Yay!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Short, but nice visit from the brother... my brother arrived last night 5 minutes after I got home from work. Perfect timing! It was take-out for dinner, but that was fine.

While we chatted, I rolled the truffles and placed them in their little foil cups. My brother tested the Chile-Chocolate version and approved!

I did the finishing work on the last Christmas gift, gift-wrapped everything, and got it ready for shipping. This morning, I braved the Post Office to mail it. Now, normally I would have sent it FedEx or UPS, but the recipient will be out of town when it would arrive by one of those methods (no comments about getting it done and sent before today! ).

So, I stand in line at the Post Office...did I mention that they were on half power and only one terminal was working? That was OK, there were only 4 people in front of me and no one had more that 3 boxes. 30 minutes later, I'm next in line and the lights go out. ACK! But the terminal is still working...I only have this one package and I'm paying cash. So the guy weighs my box, tells me the cost, puts the postage tape on it, takes my $20 and rings it up...the terminal crashes just as it opens the cash drawer, but before it prints my receipt. Whew for me! Bad for the people in line behind me. In fairness, the person working the terminal did announce several times that they were on partial power and that things could go down any time...

Anyway, my package is sent and will hopefully waiting for my friend when she gets back after her Christmas trip.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So, what does 450 cookies look like?

...something like this (ok, not quite 450 but what's 2 or 3 between friends):

Here's a closer look at the cookies at the far end of the table (Pistachio Pinwheels and Spumoni Slices, with some Mexican Wedding cookies on the fringes):

Cookie Close-up
I had never taken pictures of my baking frenzy. Somewhere I do have a picture of the pasta I used to make at Christmas, but not of the cookies.

Anyway, it was a full weekend.

Saturday was devoted to cookies -- Mexican Wedding cookies in three variations (117 classic, 120 chocolate, 86 cherry-pistachio), 60 Cinnamon Coins, 41 Pistachio Pinwheels, 80 Spumoni Slices, and 180 green spritz. I also went Christmas shopping.

Sunday was supposed to be biscotti day, but I ran out of steam on Saturday to bake the sugar cookies. So, first I baked 97 sugar cookies; they still need to be frosted, so I'll do that later in the week. Then I made biscotti -- 60 Almond-Grand Marnier, 61 Hazelnut-Chocolate, 66 Pistachio-Cranberry, and 64 Double-espresso. While these were baking, I made the second batch of Amaretto-Cinnamon nuts (10 cups of walnut and pecan pieces) and prepped the Chile-Chocolate truffles and the Macadamia-Lime truffles. I need to shape the truffles and get them in their little paper liners, but I can do that in front of the TV.

Somewhere in there I finished my Christmas shopping (
Yay! Now, I just need the various e-Santas to come through), went grocery shopping, and made dinner.

Oh, yeah. My brother called and said he was on a road trip from Seattle, and he and a friend are coming tonight. Hmmm, that meant picking up the disaster we call home. Because baking takes over the world this time of the year, it's not worth cleaning up until after I'm done. Everything wears a film of flour and sugar, including me! But, it's not a pretty sight and you don't want strangers seeing that! So, my husband spent a lot of time cleaning up and doing laundry. I helped between batches of biscotti and while dinner was cooking.

Tired? Yes, I am! Is it worth it? Yes, people enjoy the gifts I make, so I'll keep at it for a while...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Eye Candy Friday...12/15

This weeks' contribution:

PoinsettiaThis poinsettia is on my desk at work; I have its twin at home.

I am way behind on my baking, so I'll have to really haul you-know-what to catch up this weekend. The only thing I've baked this week are a batch of biscotti and an eggnog bread pudding for the office party today. I couldn't figure out way I was so behind this year, when last year went so smoothly. Then I realized that last year I only had outside commitments for two nights of the week (yoga and a standing IM session with a friend). Adding a third commitment (Pilates) really takes a chunk out of my baking time, not to mention my knitting and craft time, and "rest" time. Next week, I don't have either class so maybe I'll make my deadline!

On the knitting front, my daughter has discovered that Alpaca causes her to itch, too...not as bad as wool, but it's still uncomfortable. So I guess I need to switch to cotton or bamboo yarns for her. She'll try out the alpaca mitten I made for her to see if her hands are not as sensitive as the rest of her, but it's probably best if I switch anyway.

I've finished one part of a Christmas gift for a friend and I'm about halfway with the second part. My goal is to get this gift in the mail/FedEx/UPS person's hands on Monday.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas prep...

...that's my weekend in a nutshell. My husband had an unplanned trip to Boston, so I was able to spend as most of the time in the kitchen or decorating for Christmas.

I made fruitcakes, a batch of eggnog bread, and a batch of pumpkin bread. I also made the dough for 8 different kinds of cookies and have them stashed in the fridge. Any cookie dough that has to be chilled before baking is a candidate for this treatment. This way I can bake a batch of cookies after work without having to worry about making the dough -- just pull out a package, slice or shape the cookies and bake. I also made the first batch of Amaretto-Cinnamon Nuts.

Next weekend will be devoted to biscotti and the cookies that don't need to be chilled beforehand (like spritz).

Boy, was my husband surprised when he got home yesterday! Christmas kind of exploded in our house. LOL! When he opened the fridge, all he saw was containers of cookie dough! And the freezer is full of Christmas fruitcakes and breads!

It will be this way until I finish around the 23rd...It's a lot of work, but fun!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sky Candy Friday :-)

The sky was amazing this morning, so I decided it was Eye Candy Friday-worthy:

Sky Candy Friday
This was taken at 8:30 this morning. These clouds were a precursor to the rain that started at 2:00pm.

This weekend I start the cookie frenzy. Due to some family issues, I've been unable to start before now. I'm seriously behind, not only with my baking but with Christmas decorating. My poor tree is still bare! What this means is that crafty stuff will be put on the back burner until I can catch up on both of these tasks. At least, I love doing both of them!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hey, where'd Monday go?

OK, yesterday totally got away from me. Between a little online shopping and work, time just disappeared!

This past weekend was devoted to finishing my daughter's advent calendar.

Advent Calendar--Done!
I packed it and the 24 little ornaments to go in the pockets, and shipped it yesterday. Yes!

I also finished the left flip-top mitten and started the right one. Here's a picture of it "closed":

Flip-top Mitten
and one of it "open":

Flip-top Mitten, open
It feels really soft and warm. I still need to sew on a button or something for the loop to attach to, but I'll probably wait for my daughter to pick out what she wants.

On Sunday, My husband and I went to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our tree. It's only 8 feet this seemed like most of the full trees were between 5 and 8 feet, while the taller trees were on the skinny side. Oh well, the one we picked has a nice shape, it's nice and full, and it has a nice top to put the star on (last year the tree was so big that we never got the star on it). We'll bring it into the house tonight and get the lights on it. It will take me a while to decorate it, but that's the fun part!

It's starting to look like Christmas inside. The stockings are hung and the advent calendars are up (yes, I have two: a quilted wall hanging that I made last year and a felt-and-sequins one that I made when my daughter was born in 1978). And I've hung the wreath on the front door.

I need to get serious about my baking. Over the weekend I bought the first onslaught of supplies from Trader Joes (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, butter) and Safeway (flour, sugars, eggs). I got strange looks in both stores...what?! Haven't they seen anyone buy 8 pounds of butter or 20 pounds of flour before? LOL! (the scary part is that I'll have to make another run for eggs and butter before I'm done...)

Yes, I bake a lot, but these are my gifts to family and friends. And my gift list this year has 20 people on it. They will each get an assortment of cookies, biscotti, cakes, candied nuts, chocolate bark, and anything else I come up with. I've been doing this now for 20 years, so I've gotten it down to a science. This year I'm determined to take pictures of the whole thing to document the process. Who knows...maybe someday I'll stop doing it!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Eye Candy Friday, Happy December, and November Recap

Well, that was a fast month! In honor of December and Eye Candy Friday, here's a small portion of our tree from last year.

Christmas past
It was 12 feet 9 inches tall (after trimming the tip top branch by about 6 inches). I've promised my husband that we'd get a shorter tree this year! LOL!

Here's the November recap, such as it is!
  • Absolutely nothing!
Worked on:
  • 2 Christmas presents (can't say what they are or for whom!)
  • Sangria lace shawl
  • Hydrangea socks (still!!)
  • Paint It Black quilt (I'll probably rename this quilt...just haven't come up with anything better yet)
This weekend marks the beginning of holiday baking. First up are the fruitcakes and other breads (pumpkin, eggnog, or whatever else I decide to make.) And maybe we'll get our tree!

Have a great weekend!

Not-quite Eye Candy Friday...

...we've experienced a week of poor air quality due to the fires north of us. So many people (and animals) have lost their homes, some...