Monday, December 27, 2010


As it's been some time, I might as well try to explain myself (aka make excuses) for my neglectful posting. I was preparing for the holidays which always seems to get me all flustered. Cleaning, shopping, mailing cards and making foods and gifts sure does take time!

First, there was the baking of cookies and the business of making candies. The cookies this year were scaled back a bit. I made some vegan sugar cookies, vegan chocolate chippers and these Vegan Caramel Pecan Bars which were very good and very sweet. One of these is enough to satisfy the biggest sweet tooth! They were also the easiest to make.

I tried my hand at some candies. First I made some yummy Rock Candy or Glass Candy.

It seems to go by both names. I used vegan granulated sugar and the only other ingredients are water, corn syrup, food coloring and flavoring oil. I made red cinnamon flavor and green spearmint flavor. I remember this candy fondly from my childhood; my grandmother always had it during the holidays. I thought she made it herself but my mom thinks she bought it from someone every year. Either way, it was relatively easy to make and yummy and I now have some very fresh breath.

The vegan gumdrops...not so happy an ending here. There was a recipe for gumdrops in a recent Better Homes and Gardens mag that seemed pretty close to vegan. I tried to make the coconut flavored gumdrops but my vegan fruit pectin I bought at Whole Foods came packaged a bit differently from the pectin the recipe was intended for and alas, I don't think I used enough pectin. It turned out like coconut flavored jam which really is sort of a weird thing. I ended up throwing it away but have lots of toasted coconut sugar on hand (which is what you roll the gumdrops in after they firm up and you cut them into little squares). I will let you know what I use it for...unless anyone out there has some suggestions? Seriously, I would love some.

There was some knitting. Three Interchangeable Hats (aka Poppy) for three lovely nieces.
Last year, I made one for one niece as I had her name in the big gift exchange we do for all the children in Nature Boy's family. Apparently, her sister has been stealing said hat and stretching it out. Since Nature Boy and I had the other two remaining nieces for the exchange, I went ahead and made three to cover all the nieces. Don't worry, they don't just get a knitted hat for the gift exchange, they get some cool presents too, these are just in addition to...

I also managed to knit up a sweater for a certain wee one who will be arriving in Hawaii close to the time Wee Too shows up here!
The pattern is the same as the sweater I made for Wee Too recently. I also knit up a Greenleaf hat to match.
After the baby shower, as I was driving home, it struck me a babe in Hawaii may not require sweaters and hats. I guess it's the thought, right?

Finally I made up some earrings and a ring out of some vintage buttons for my mom and one of my sisters. I also began another project but alas, it was not finished in time. I will detail more on this one another day.

Lastly, on my recent birthday, I think I got a strong message from the universe I am still trying to sort out. I was given a card with owls on it from Nature Boy in the morning. A package arrived from my sister with a birthday gift that was wrapped in owl paper she had made. At the night's end, as we were sitting on el coucho, Nature Boy tapped my hand and spoke softly to me that there was an owl outside on the pole. As I looked, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a small Eastern Screech Owl sitting ON OUR PORCH!!! IN THE MIDDLE OF PITTSBURGH!!! Looking right in the window at us!
We watched the owl for an hour at least, then finally had to head to bed. The owl did not leave but when I awoke at 3AM as usual, I came down and looked and the owl was gone. I have heard owls outside as a girl but have never seen one outside in the wild. It was truly an amazing birthday, one I will never forget!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday (whatever you choose to call it or however you celebrate it). Peace, love and joy to everyone out there!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Holiday Cheer

So I finally finished my holiday project--

These were the rules (self-imposed, of course):

  • It had to be el cheapo. They turned out free, my favorite price.
  • It had to be something to hang in the dining room windows which are normally quite barren.
  • It had to be quick. Something one could finish during naptime.
So under those parameters, I think they turned out fairly well. I was looking for wreath ideas when I stumbled across this little cutie by Laurie Cinotto and decided I could use the idea to make some window hangings. I collected the larger branches for the frame, pine cones and pine needles while we were walking in the park; the smaller sticks were found around the estate grounds and on walks in the neighborhood (aka city streets and alleys). I used some scrap fabric to make the deer and birds and stuffed them with some stuffing I had on hand. I used some surplus ribbon from holidays past for the hangers, along with some thin wire. Thick floral wire was used to tie the larger pieces together for the frame, as in the inspiration piece.

I hand-sewed the deer and birds together using a blanket stitch and this took the longest of all. I'm thinking it would look just as cute to use deer and birds or other animlas cut out of pretty paper or even out of a photo (kind of like THIS, another source of inspiration). Now I almost wish I would have made a sasquatch for one of the hangings, how fantastically fun would that have been?

Maybe they aren't the most modern, most neat, most sparkly holiday decorations out there but I really do like their simplicity. It fits our home, our lives, our year.

I also made some trees from this tutorial from The Small Object with scrap fabrics and although they look a bit wind-blown (ahem, crooked) they were fun and easy to make. I'm not sure where they will end up in the estate, maybe the kitchen and bathroom which seem to feel a bit neglected right now.

So maybe now I will get back to knitting...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December already?

Wow these last few months have really been going by quickly! With the first snow of the season today, it is really beginning to feel like the holidays are on their way. I've been working on a project to decorate the estate this week and will post some pics and information when they are finished. I need to let some sticks (that's right, sticks!) we found today on our walk dry out before adding them on to the project.

I started and frogged a sweater for Wee One, then refigured the pattern using my actual gauge as I did not use the same yarn as the pattern was written for and my fibre is much thinner. Keep your fingers crossed here! I've only cast on and knit about three rows. I've been slacking in this arena. How surprising, right?

I am still trying to figure out some gift ideas. One great resource has been the November blog entries over at Sew Mama Sew. Great links to tutorials for all sorts of gifts! Sewn gifts, that is. Go check it out if you need some inspiration.

Happy start of Hanukkah to those out there who celebrate this holiday!