Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long 2008.

2008 has been quite a year! In a lot of ways it has been quieter and more laid back than others, but in some ways it has been more meaningful. It was a goal of mine in 2008 to be more aware of the moment, to find meaning in the present instead of only looking ahead. Although there was less excitement and travel this year, I feel very satisfied when I look back on it.

Right now I am looking forward to 2009, with its many new adventures and unknowns!

Enjoy the New Year, however you plan to spend it. I look forward to hearing about your 2009, and sharing bits of mine with you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year Long Scarf.

It's embarassing to admit how long this scarf has taken me to knit. I made the mistake of making my stitches way too tight, and it was just the same thing over and over (knit knit, purl purl, knit knit, purl purl), and it became a pain. I also like my scarves long, so this was a big project to take on for a slow knitter like me. I kept tossing it aside in favour of other projects, and sometimes didn't touch it for months. Last night I decided I couldn't keep putting it off and I finished the scarf, finally.

Here it is in its first stages, more than a year ago.

Slowly growing. Slowly.

About two thirds done.

And today, testing it out in the snow.

It was very rewarding to finally wear this scarf around my neck. I do have to say I'm not too happy with how the yarn knitted up though. It isn't too obvious from the photos, but it knitted into coloured sections of equal size. I was expecting it to be more random. I think I'm going to make a hat next!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cooking With Uncle Mike.

My uncle Mike is an incredible chef. He makes the most amazing Pasta and Italian treats, and likes to do his cooking the old fashion way. No short cuts! He usually cooks up some special treats for the holidays, and this year he invited my cousin and I over to help out. We made Pasticci and Tortinetta. I'm not really a fan of Pasticci, but I love Tortinetta.

We started with the Pasticci, making a simple dough out of flour and egg. My uncle made the chocolate chestnut filling earlier in the day, so all we had to do was prepare the dough and fill it.

They look a lot like pierogies, but pierogies taste much better!

For the Tortinetta we made up another batch of dough, and used the pasta maker to cut it into linguine sized strips. We then had to cut all the strips into tiny little squares. A very grueling task!

After an hour or so of cutting tiny squares, they were ready to fry up!

We had a quick break for some yummy brie pasta, and then it was back to work.

We underestimated the amount we'd end up with, oops! We could've used a much bigger pot.

Just five of the eight trays we made. Delicious, but not for those with tooth troubles!

I hope we make this into a yearly tradition. It was fun to cook up something new!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warm Wishes for the Holidays.

Wishing you a wonderful and warm holiday. Peace!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gift Giving.

Everything's still in the shop, but I've taken some pictures with the point and shoot and uploaded them onto the laptop so I could share a few things.

The gift giving began last week with gifts given to friends at work. This year we went with simple homemade gifts. The recipients are teachers, so something practical was a must. What can every teacher use more of? Square bottom tote bags, of course! Tote bags with fabric carefully selected for each.

Lined with cute prints, as if I would have it any other way.

This wool fabric with pink embroidery was my favourite, and this bag went to someone very special to me. I wish I had made this bag a little smaller though so it fell better when held. The legnth was fine, but it was a little too wide. I still like how it came out, and I was told it got a wonderful response. I may have to use the leftover fabric to make a matching bag for the daughter of the person this one went to. She wanted to keep it for herself!

I wasn't crazy about this fabric to begin with, I only chose it because it fit the recipient perfectly (classic, with a touch of fun), but I'm very happy with the finished result. I was toying with the idea of placing buttons in the middle of the black and red ribbon flowers, but nothing fit quite right. After lots of playing around I decided it was best as it was.

I packaged them up in some homemade gift bags. Bags inside bags! I wasn't crazy about this fabric either, it reminds me of neck ties or grandpa pajamas, but my mom convinced me it would make cute gift bags. I guess it does.

I always worry if homemade gifts will be liked by those I make them for, but I think most people appreciate the sentiment if nothing else. I hope everyone is happy with their gifts this year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quick Update.

My camera is still in the shop, and now my computer is too. I'm really not having any luck with electronics lately. I have a lot to update about, but it'll have to wait until things are fixed. Hopefully I'll be up and posting again soon!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Older One.

My camera is in the shop due to a bad fall, so I haven't been able to take photos of anything new. Instead you get a post about a craft I made a while ago.

I should start off by making a confession. I am a roller coaster nerd. That's right. My boyfriend and I go on road trips to several different amusement parks, to ride as many roller coasters as we can. The thing about riding roller coasters all day is that having a lot of stuff with you is a huge inconvenience. We usually only bring things that will fit into our pockets, or if I am brave enough to admit it, a fanny pack. EEK.

I leave my Canon at home and take my little point and shoot with me, but even though my camera is small, most cases for point and shoots are too large to fit into a pocket without creating a giant bulge. I started carrying my camera without a case, but I was constantly worried it would get too banged up, especially when being thrown around on rides. After the search for a smaller case proved fruitless, I decided to make up my own.

The fabric is from Super Buzzy and is a combination of my very favourite, pink elephants(!!!!!), and cute pink and white polka dots. I quilted a couple layers of fleece and used that as a lining to add a little padding. The closure is a simple draw string in coordinating pink and white ribbon and pink star beads. Simple, yet very effective, and small!

If you would like to see the extent of our nerdiness, feel free to visit this set on my flickr account!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Post About Pets.

One thing people who know me well know about me is that I live with a lot of animals. Really it's not that many, only four, but to some people that seems like quite a lot. Since they are such a large part of my daily life, I thought I would dedicate a post to them.

The most recent to join our family is my one and a half year old West Highland Terrier Lola. She has spunk, she is full of personality, and she is the most loving ball of fluff you're likely to come across. She loves everyone and everything, especially that little girl up there who is her new best friend.

Then there is Rory, my four and a half year old black velvet chinchilla. She is my laid back girl, with the cutest little cheeks. She is sometimes very stubborn, but can't be bothered to care too much most of the time.

Lenore, Nor, or Nor-Nor, is my four year old mosaic white chinchilla. There is no word to describe her besides crazy. She bounces off the walls (quite literally), steals Rory's toys, and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. She is very grabby with those little hands, so we are careful not to leave anything near her.

To sneak a little crafting into this post, I made that hammock. You can get a better look here.

Last but certainly not least, we have my snow queen. She is my companion and friend. She is 17 years old, but absolutely refuses to give up on life. She is strong, stubborn, beautiful, and sweet.

Although he's not mine, I had to sneak this picture in. This is Max, my cousin's dog. I'm checking in on him each day this week, and we played out in the snow yesterday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gift Bags.

We have always tried to avoid wrapping paper in our house. Cloth gift bags are always a big favourite, although we do also reuse paper gift bags that were given to us from others, and what wrapping paper we do use is leftovers from years and years ago. A lot of our cloth gift bags are getting pretty old, so I decided to whip up a few with this Rudolph fabric I found in the clearance bin at my local fabric shop. The panels are supposed to be made into a cloth book, but I thought they would be the perfect size for little gifts.

These were a quick job. I didn't bother with lining or worrying too much about making things perfect. I'm still really happy with how they came out.

I didn't have any appropriate ribbon on hand, so I used old shoe laces for the drawstrings. I can always change them out later, but I don't think they look too bad.

I'm going to have to make some more gift bags in larger sizes. There are a few gifts these little bags don't fit!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Fair Trade Show.

There was a Fair Trade Show held in my neighbourhood, done by an alternative trading organization called Ten Thousand Villages. The show is a yearly event in downtown Toronto, but this was the first time we've had one in our area. It was a wonderful event, full of incredible wares from many countries, and carried out by volunteers. It was much more fun shopping for gifts here than in a mall. The best part - by buying, one is supporting artisans from around the world in earning an honest wage. I was excited to learn that there's a webstore and a few store fronts as well!

There were so many interesting and one of a kind things. My favourites - recycled newspaper trivets, star basket, Nursery Tales, hummingbird ornament, wooden squirrel toy - okay, I will stop there.

I'm glad they added a show closer to us, although the trek downtown would have been well worth it.

Just for fun, here's a little peek at the holiday decorating going on in our home this weekend.

The topper needs to be fixed, and the puppy needs to be trained to not steal ornaments!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


There hasn't been much sun around lately, which is typical for winter days. It's a special treat when we do get some sun peeking through the clouds, even if just for a few moments. I used the opportunity to snap a couple pictures, before losing the sun again. I love natural light for photographs, especially since the flash on my camera broke when it fell.

I'll never fail to find a dog or cat enjoying a patch of sun on the rug.

And another on the back of a chair.

I'm sure my little eggling is glad to bask in the sun. One of the cacti died, either due to overcrowding or lack of light. I love the way the cacti glow in the sun.

And I am very grateful to have had a little extra light today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Temporary Christmas.

I love the holiday season. It is such a magical time, even for those of us over 8 years of age! Or perhaps some of us only turn into oversized eight year olds. There is so much going on - festivals, gatherings, and light displays, to name a few. The atmosphere is great. The music, the smells, the pretties, the closeness and warmth, the anticipation - it all makes me happy.

I'm one of those people who would start putting up decorations in October if I had my way. Alas, I am forbidden from unleashing the holidays on the house until the first weekend in December. Sort of a yearly tradition (more like a limitation!). This year December first fell on a Monday, so I am impatiently waiting until then.

It seems that the rest of the world began decorating weeks ago, and I just couldn't stand it any longer, so I began a 'Christmas Shelf'. The favourites can be found on one little shelf, hidden away from everyone but me. My little piece of the holidays, just a little bit early. My favourite part of holiday decorating is pulling each item out of the box and reminiscing. This is why it takes us an entire day to put up the tree. We like to remember where each thing came from and why it's so special to us. I thought it would be fun to share a little with you.

A good mix of old and new, gifted and handmade, found and thrifted, and some store bought. There has never been a theme, just a mish mash of things that make us happy.

There are some old favourites that the holidays cannot be without. This little wooden nativity scene is probably the most important of those. I am a spiritual person, not religious, so to some it would seem a little strange that my favourite decoration would be one with such religious symbolism, but we've had this one since I was a small girl and it has always been my favourite. It just would not be the same without it.

These are another old favourite. Tiny story books that open into pop-up star shaped books to hang on the Christmas tree. So sweet.

The stories are a little dumbed down because they need to fit in only a few lines on five little pages, but the illustrations and pop-ups are beautiful. I'm sure we had more of these, but I don't know what happened to them.

Then there are the new favourites. I added this Erzgebirge arch ornament this year. We usually add at least one each year, although that probably is not the smartest idea as our tree is already overcrowded as it is. I would love to eventually add an Erzgebirge pyramid. We could definitely find room for that!

Another new favourite. If you know me, you can imagine why!

I've been keeping an eye out for Holiday decorating posts in the blogs I frequent. I love getting a little peak into the traditions of others. Everyone has their own style and their own favourites.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


There isn't much better than good friends. They brighten your day, and make you feel cared for and special. I am very grateful for good friends. Today I was surprised with a beautiful gift made by a special friend, and although gifts are never necessary, it is nice to be thought of.

A beautiful handmade crocheted blanket for my sweet Lola. I just love it! Of course Lola thinks her beautiful gift is much better chewed, so she'll only be napping on it under supervision.

Speaking of friends, I have a few projects in the works for the holiday season, but I can't share them here because of certain people who may be reading. Maybe I will post a few after the holidays!