Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye Forever

Haha, I stole this sentiment from the Pioneer Woman, and she's right, it's just fun to say lol. So 2008 is almost over. The major thing that happened this year was the birth of our daughter Rayna, who is now three months old. Everything else is pretty much the same. I started quilting this year and discovered I love it. I also started this blog this year, which has been a fun experience. It really is a neat way to communicate with so many wonderful people out there all over the world. I suppose this time of year is supposed to be for reflection and insight, but I just don't think I can be reflective and insightful right now! As I write this, Rayna is babbling at me from her position beside me on the couch.

Wow, I have totally veered off my creative path and started reading again, I can't seem to do both at the same time, I am either totally dedicated to reading and rip through several books one after another, or I'm sewing project after project after project. I still have several lined up... like the table runner that I was going to do for myself! Oh well, the gifts I was making got finished and they were given and received with great love. I have a huge material stash started, so now I think I better get back to business and continue creating things, as I'm running out of storage space, and my husband is getting annoyed at my sewing machine sitting uselessly on the table. (I have no craft space!)

But before that happens, I am going to finish reading the Twilight series. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book! What an incredible love story, and the way it was written had me turning pages, not sooo intense, but it flowed and I just did not want to put it down. I finished it in a day. And was hungry for more. I went to the bookstore to purchase the rest of the series and the second book, new moon was sold out. AUGH!! Figures. But, I knew my friend had been reading the series as well, so I phoned her and she lent me the next two books on Monday. Yesterday, I read New Moon. Not as romantic as the first, but a good book on it's own, and I still didn't want to put it down, I want to keep reading and see what the future holds for Bella and Edward! So I am currently on Eclipse, and just started reading it this morning. I want to set the laundry and the dishes aside, forget that it's New Years Eve, cuddle up with my favorite blanket, a cup of coffee, and READ. Unfortunately, we have plans for tonight, the laundry is piling up, and the real world keeps encroaching on my book world. It has been sooo long since I was so absorbed by the story that I pretty much zone out and tune out everything and it's like I'm right there. Ahhhh, I love books. Amazing the things I see and the places I go just by reading a story. I'm also keeping track now of how many pages I have read since Christmas, like I've seen on the blog Five Funny Feet. I thought it was a great idea, and don't have a goal set but am curious how many pages I will read between now and next Christmas!

Alright, I guess I should wrap this up as my daylight is fading already (it's only 3:00pm) and I need to bath the baby before we go visiting tonight. It's not much warmer here yet, it's still
-27C, so it's too cold for the kids to go sledding like we originally planned.

2008 was a good year, and I'm looking forward to all that 2009 will bring, and I wish you all the very best in the new year. Goodbye Forever, 2008!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mrs.D's Peanut Brittle

Alright, so I know I said I wasn't going to post again before Christmas, but I just had to share this with you. I recently went through my recipe box to decide on all my Christmas baking and decided to make peanut brittle. I apparently have had this recipe since I was in grade 8, as that is what I wrote on the recipe card, (we won't go into how long ago that was!) I am no longer sure who gave me the recipe, possibly Ted McCarty's mom, but I'm not positive!! So Ted, if this is so, and you see this post by some freakish cosmic coincidence, step forward and claim your fame!! Anyways, I made this tonight and I forgot how good it was, and how quick and easy. So here is the recipe, wish I had a downloadable one for you but my skills are not that advanced on here yet, so you'll just have to write it out or select and print. Here are the ingredients:

1c white sugar
1/2 c white syrup
1c salted peanuts
1tsp butter
1tsp vanilla
1tsp baking soda

In a 1 1/2qt casserole dish, mix the sugar and syrup.
Microwave on high for three minutes. Stir in peanuts.
Microwave on high for another three minutes.
Remove and add 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla.
(This will bubble up alot at first, but give it a second and then stir it in.)
Return to microwave for an additional minute.
Remove from heat and add 1 tsp baking soda.
Stir gently until well mixed, but don't take too long as this will start to set up quickly.
Just make sure to mix it thoroughly.
(If you don't when you break it up you
will find pockets of baking soda that weren't mixed in.)
Pour onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet and place in fridge to cool.
Turn onto wooden cutting board and break into pieces.

(I use a sharp knife and a gentle stabbing motion!! Great for stress relief at this time of year as well hehe) I didn't actually measure it, but it looked to be that it made about 3 - 4 cups. Three cups for sure with a handful left over. I wrapped small portions in wax paper and then in a really sparkly cellophane with a custom tag and it looks pretty good. And the best part is, it's really good and literally only takes about 10 minutes to make. Impressive huh!!

Anyways, I'll say it again just in case I don't post again before Christmas, Merry Christmas to everyone out there, have a safe and happy holiday!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Raggedy Tree Skirt

Ok, so this was one of my last Christmas crafts... and I love it! I got the pattern from a lovely lady named Margaret Lanti of Quilt Addictions. If you would like to purchase a copy of the pattern, please e-mail me for her phone number and I will send it to you, as I don't think she has a website. I had been searching for a pattern for over a year now, and she was at our local farmers market craft fair, and I saw her tree skirt and purchased the pattern from her. I think it was around $8. It's done like a regular rag quilt, layer your pieces, quilt them and then piece them together... It's done in 8 sections, and I actually had an idea to maybe use the pattern and one section and maybe sew pockets on it to turn it into a Christmas tree advent calendar, but maybe next year.

Some of the material I purchased from Quilt Taffy (the striped, polka dotted, green and red Christmas words and the red snowflake), although I didn't purchase enough as I bought it last Christmas before I had the pattern, so I managed to match it up with a couple flannels from my local material store.

I also put a solid white flannel in the middle for batting and a black "holly" flannel for the backing, which shows through nicely once it's clipped. And ohhhh the clipping. I almost thinks it takes just as long to clip the whole thing as it does to piece it together. And it's so messy!

Thank goodness for the random lady that talked me into purchasing these rag blanket snippers, they are spring loaded, and are designed for cutting through several layers at once, and are extremely sharp!

After snipping for a while, my hand still gets sore, but I can't imagine using regular scissors to do this! (They were around $45 so I was hesitant to splurge but am so glad I did!)

I used a narrow, fairly tight zig zag stitch to finish around all the edges, although my machine was giving me some grief over it! And once it was all stitched, I washed it...

And voila! I think it turned out really well! On the pattern, they actually used plaid fabrics and appliqued stars onto the large squares where I have the Christmas words, but I imagine there are all kinds of different ways you could do this!

The finished project... I'm so glad I got it done this year! It's almost a little small as our tree is extremely full, but that's ok, it's homemade, like everything else on our tree! We finally put the tree up on the 16th or 17th I think.

Chase was so excited to hang that first ornament! And all the ornaments have some meaning (mostly to me, but now to my family as well).

This one I had purchased for my husband last year, as he is a hunter, and when I saw this I just couldn't pass it up!! (Again purchased from a stand at the local farmer's market).

This one I purchased for myself this year, as I have a thing for the "Grinch" movie, I have watched it every year at Christmas for as long as I can remember! My sister bought me the Grinch snowglobe last year (I collect snowglobes) and when I saw the ornament I had to have it. I love the "who-lectric" sign on the top of the fridge, and it has a button to push and the fridge lights up and plays a verse from the movie.

This one, I had made this year, as our family is completed with the birth of our daughter, so it was to commemorate the year and our family, and this one was honored with the spot at the top of the tree!

So our tree is done... we're waiting for Santa, the countdown is on. We have pine needles on the floor every day, and the scent is filling my home.

I need to fill my home with the scents of baking as well, and I used my air miles to get myself a fancy Kitchen Aid standing mixmaster. I can't wait to test it out and make mega batches of cookies!

I'm not sure if I will have time to post again before Christmas, so to all the visitors to my blog I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Okay, so I spoke too soon. This is what the thermometer outside on my deck says for today. You will notice on my last post that the temperature was hovering around a balmy zero degrees Celsius.

And yes, in case you can't read that, here it is again.

Yes, it does say -32 degrees Celcius. And yes, that is frost that is covering the thermometer casing. It's freaking cold here!! Sometimes I forget that I live in Northern Alberta, and that the weather can change by 30 degrees in 24 hours. So, needless to say, I stayed inside and crafted for today. This is what I accomplished; three very cute baby bibs that I made using a kit I purchased from GrammysBabies on Etsy.

They turned out really nice, and the pattern was super easy to follow, it came with all the material (including the ribbon which was wrapped around the material but I added to the bib myself), and even the velcro for the closures. It also came with a pattern for side closure as well as back closure.

I probably could have figured out how to make these using a free tutorial like the one at Crazy Mom Quilts, but I liked the material and it is hard to find the chenille fabric in my area. So hopefully it warms up outside, but on the plus side, I've been getting lots done lately, and we need to get our tree up and decorations out, so maybe one more day of this freakishly cold weather won't hurt!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mish Mash

Wow, only thirteen days til Christmas!! I finally turned my lights on! I love multicolored lights.

And here is a picture of our little house with the lights on at night. I notice there is a small section (maybe two) that isn't lit up, and the anal person I am, it is driving me nuts and I want my husband to climb up there and fix it!! He claims they were all working when he put them up. Hmmm. Curious.

Winter has descended upon us with force. So I did the only thing I could do. I downloaded the Pioneer Woman's recipe for her favorite Christmas cookies and I got baking. I watched the snow fall outside and baked cookies with Chase. He started out helping me with the dough, but as you can tell by the picture he couldn't wait to get to the cookie cutting part, as he has a cookie cutter in his hand, lol. He used the mixer for the first time, usually he covers his ears and runs, he's always had a thing for loud noises and power tools and not liking the noises they make, but today he didn't seem to mind it.

And of course the favorite part of mixing the dough, is licking off the egg beaters... :)

I had a hard time rolling out the dough for this recipe, I found it a little crumbly, although I am thinking it may be something I did rather than a fault of the recipe. Anyone have any idea why this might have been? I'm always up for constructive criticism! The cookies did turn out wonderful though, and they look so pretty! Even with my sloppy icing job! And Chase loved them, especially the rogue Santa cookie. For whatever reason, we only made the one Santa, so Chase got to eat that one.

He's sideways for those of you that can't tell! Chase asked me where his eyes were, and I told him Santa is magic and doesn't need eyes to know if kids are good or bad!

This was the view out my front door this morning, which I was surprised at. We haven't had decent snow removal like this since we moved into this area 3 years ago, it was nice to see them clearing the streets.

And then, it started snowing again. Everything in my yard looks so desolate in winter! My bird feeder for instance (I have had this bird feeder for maybe two years now and have no birds. I have never had to refill the birdseed, and it makes me sad, as I put it there to attract birds and drive my cat crazy but that's another post altogether.)

The tree in our front yard (which looks huge from this angle but if you look in the picture above it is actually quite dinky) looks lonely as well.

I find children's play equipment is also a little incongruous with the winter environment. The rings hang in silence, waiting for a child to come and grab on and swing...

And there is a little pile of snow at the bottom of Chase's slide that shows us that no child's bottom has graced it for several days now!

And though it's snowing like a bugger, I suppose I should be thankful that it really isn't cold yet. This is a mild December for us by any means. Roads suck and we have to shovel the walk daily almost, but there's always a bright side!

Like the fact that it gave me a reason to bake! Nothing like a little bit of snow to give you that magical feeling and give you a little bit of the Christmas Spirit. And thank you PW, for sharing your yummy recipe!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Let's Keep it Real

So, do you go with a real Christmas tree or a fake one? There are benefits to both. Let's look at this rationally, and go through all the positives and negatives...

A real tree smells wonderful. A real tree looks wonderful. Knowing it's a real tree just adds to the festivity somehow, and brings back memories for me of my childhood. We always had a real tree. A lot of times when my dad was out hunting (and yes, I occasionally went with him) if he saw one he liked, he would cut it down and bring it home. They were usually pretty Charlie Brown-ish, and one side was usually lopsided and bare, but we filled it with ornaments and lights and garland, and once everything was on it, it didn't look so bad. I remember mom always had to do the lights first, before we could start putting ornaments on. What a challenge to sit and wait for her to do that!

Now with that said, there are also some negatives about real trees as well. Two words. Pine needles! Every real tree out there by the end of the Christmas season will be dropping needles all over your floor. Last year, as my husband dragged our tree from our living room out the front door, the tree lost over half the needles on the underside of the tree, which we then spent half an hour vacuuming out of the carpet. They also have sap. Very sticky sap which stuff. Also, you have to water real trees. I know there are people out there that can't keep plants alive to save their lives, and real trees need to be watered. This can also be a bit messy depending on the type of stand you have, and if you have to crawl halfway under your tree to water it you almost need to be a contortionist to do it without knocking half the lower ornaments off. (We actually found a really nice stand at Canadian Tire with a cup that the trunk fits into that actually swivels so you can straighten up a crooked tree. It also holds 3.3L of water. Very cool!) The other thing with real trees (can be a positive or negative thing) is that you have to get a new tree every single year. If you purchase them, this can get costly, as around here they range from $40 to $100 for the 7-9ft variety we usually purchase. You never know if the shape of the tree is going to be great, or if it's full all the way around or has a bald spot. On the plus side some people make it a family tradition to go out and choose their tree every year, so it's not always a bad thing! And then there is also the environmental factor. For one thing, we're cutting down a pine tree for the sake of dragging it into our homes and hanging some baubles on it for a two to three week period at best, and then tossing it like yesterdays lunch. If you're conscientious, you may take it to your nearest environmental center to be recycled into mulch or whatever. The other thing with real trees is if you don't want it all dried up and brown by Christmas you really can't put it up before, say, the 15th of December. My parents usually put up the tree around the 20th, and left it up til New Years. And don't get me started on the whole fire hazard thing.

Now the thing with fake trees (or I guess we can be PC and call them artificial trees) is that basically everything about real trees is the opposite for artificial. No losing pine needles. No sticky tree sap. No watering. You only have to purchase it once. No wasting of our natural resources. Already lit!!! I repeat, already lit!! No waiting for mom to untangle last years lights before you start decorating! No bald spots or ending up with an uneven or unbalanced tree. One of the only downsides to the artificial tree is having to have room to store them for the other 11 months of the year. (Which I don't seeing as how our home is only 1000sq ft.) lovely fragrance. No feeling the mood because you're pulling in that piece of the wild from outside to inside. No wondering if Chip and Dale are going to creep out of the tree in the middle of the night to terrorize the cat and eat the nuts on the table in the snack dish.

Now it's up to you... to decide which way you're going to go. There is no judgement here! This is a judgement free zone. Although I can tell you right now, I will always have a real tree. I love bringing it into the house, watching my husband struggle to trim the trunk to fit into the base. The smell of the sap and the needles. The little bits of snow and dirt that fall onto the lino in the kitchen as the branches relax and let down after being tied up so tightly. Bringing in the tree is one of the things that really signals me that Christmas is here, and since we put it up so close to Christmas it really gets me in the spirit. It is one of the traditions that I remember from when I was little and will share with my children. Chase is already asking when we will put up the tree. I think Blair is taking him to go get one tomorrow, and we'll leave it outside until the 20th, just like my mom and dad used to do. And then I will be the one to untangle last years lights and make my child wait to hang the first ornament...

Thursday, December 4, 2008


So I made marmalade today.

Doesn't it look yummy boiling in the pot?

I have never actually eaten marmalade, and the tastes that I got out of this batch makes me think my oranges were not very sweet... but I'm giving it away as gifts to family so I hope it's not disgusting lol. I scrapbooked tags to attach to the jars as well as wrapping them in cellophane or covering them with material scraps trimmed up all pretty.

Tomorrow is perogie day at my sister's house. My mom and I are going to go over and help make a big batch for Christmas dinner, which is being held at my sister's house this year. This helps me out as well, as I am going to scam about two dozen to freeze and take to my in-laws dinner. One less thing for me to have to do at home on my own :)

I finished scrapbooking all my Christmas cards and got them organized to send out today, along with my daughter's birth announcements and thank you cards. I still haven't started my table runner. I have a little quicky pattern I want to make for my mother in law as well as a gift, so I think I will be doing a little sewing this weekend. My son Chase helped me make the countdown calendar above, and I use it as a way to explain to him how much longer til Santa comes. He gets a "kiss" every day and when they're all gone, then Santa comes. He loves it. And every day when I log on here, I notice my Christmas countdown, and realize time is slipping away and if I want to have my gifts done I have to prioritize them!! Hopefully I will get it all done, I'm feeling like Miss Molly Homemaker lately with all the crafting and cooking I've been doing in preparation for the holidays! We made sour cabbage rolls yesterday... I think this is the reason God made Christmas only come once a year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Napkins

Are these not the cutest Christmas Napkins you've ever seen?? I think so too. And they were so simple and easy to make! I ran across them at the quilting store in town, and this is how I made mine:
First I made a template on a piece of paper using a 16 inch pizza pan. (The ones at the quilting store were made using a 19 inch pan.). I purchased some random Christmas themed fat quarters (12 in all) with a gold theme to all of them as I made these for Christmas Eve dinner at my sisters house and she said she's having a gold theme. So first I cut out two half circles from each fat quarter.

Then with right sides together, I sewed around using a 1/4" seam.

I left an inch to inch and a half opening for turning them right side out.

I trimmed the corners so they would lay nice when they are turned right side out also.

I turned them inside out. I used a wooden spoon handle to push the seams out, then I pressed them flat.

I top stitched around the edges to give it a nice finish (and also because I'm lazy and didn't want to hand stitch the inch opening shut by hand!)

Then I pressed them this way...

and that way... so they lay flat and look like Christmas trees!! I know, ingenious, right!

It only took me a couple hours to whip these up from start to finish, I made twelve in all, 6 matching pairs. And I love that they are all different but similar enough that they won't look funny on the table.

And then I used the leftovers to cut up into squares to make into these cute fabric baskets (only Christmas themed!) You can find the tutorial on Pink Penguin's blog.

The fabric baskets will have to wait however, I do remember saying that my next project would be my table runner, so last night while I was chopping up these little scraps, I also cut up the charm pack for my runner, so I will be able to start piecing it today! Maybe... I have so many projects on the go right now. But as always, I will keep you posted!

Beware the few racy photos...thought it was worth it to see all the other ones!