December 31, 2011

{T'was the week after Christmas...} Just Relax a Little

One of the Cricut-assisted creations I made to decorate my home this Holiday Season!

T’was the week after Christmas
and all through the dwelling
All the creatures were doing
something they found compelling
Dad drove F1 cars
Mom surfed and repinned
While the animals lounged happily
and if they could have, they’d have grinned
It’s nice to relax
Sit and enjoy one another
Too soon we’re headed back to work
And vacation memories fade darker
So enjoy the here and now
embrace the piles and the clutter
Housework can wait a bit
there’s something to eat smothered in butter...
The New Year is coming
all shiny and fresh
And we're crossing our fingers
that it is bringing us the best!

Hope you've been enjoying spending time with those you love, and sometimes barely tolerate :)
Have a safe and happy New Years Eve!!


December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve is Here Again

The shopping has been finished and wrapped and under the tree for almost a week. I am taking lots of time to sit and enjoy evenings with HOTGI and the animals. Today is Christmas Eve, and it feels damn good to be finished everthing.

He-of-the-Good-Ideas went out earlier "for a drive". Uh huh. A drive. When he got home though, I disappeared upstairs so I didn't see what he was bringing in (I hate spoiling a surprise!) and I have since been banished upstairs so he can go all elf-tastic with the wrapping paper.

Tomorrow morning we'll get up, open the stockings that Santa left and drive to HOTGI's hometown for Christmas Day with his family at his sister's house. I am really looking forward to witnessing Christmas morning for our niece and nephew this year!

Monday, we are hosting my mom, grandma, dad and stepmum for Christmas at our house. We have a Butterball for the oven and a cupboard full of Christmas Cheer and I am super excited. I can't wait to set the table and set out the place cards I made!

I am so glad I am relaxed enough to enjoy everything about the Christmas Season this year.

Let me share you with something that warms my heart:

Happy Christmas to all of you. For those of you that follow my blog, thank you. I appreciate your comments and love to hear feedback for what I am posting. This first year of having a blog has been great for me. I've loved sharing with my readers some things I have cooked and crafted, and I find now when I create something I feel as though I should have a camera at the ready!

There will be another turkey soup made soon and I plan on updating my turkey soup recipe with pictures! Look for some other turkey leftover ideas too!


December 15, 2011

Holidaze Time

Today marks the middle of December. HOW is it December 15th already?

Momma and I went to see The Nutcracker this afternoon, and loved the performance! The grace of the ballet paired with the sensational orchestra telling such a beloved Christmas tale was an awesome part of Holidays 2011.

I thought I was all done with shopping, stores and the amount of people that populate every retail store at this time of year but there always seems to some unexpected thing to go out for. I am pleased with the gifts I've chosen for people and hope they enjoy them as much as I expect they will! I've given one gift so far (a necklace I made for a friend, and forgot to take a picture of before I gave it to her!) and have many left to wrap.

I don't hate wrapping, but I don't really like it all that much. But I love the look and feel and presentation of a wrapped gift, so this season I am a tape and ribbon maestro!

So there's wrapping to do, and gorcery shopping cus' we still gotta eat, a house to clean, a dinner menu to finalize, parties to attend and still try and make sure you get the opportunity to sit back and relax with loved ones and enjoy each other's company.

It's all well and good to get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season but maybe let it be less about rushing to get to the mall to spend and shop and be more about hurrying to the welcoming home of a friend for a visit.

I'm getting ranty...

I think I need a egg nog Noel Nog (lactose free and tastes WICKED!), or a toasted almond (made with lactose free milk, the idea of drinking cream skeeves me out), or a nice warm buttered rum. Mmmmm

How are you making out this Holiday season? Ready? Nowhere even close?


December 3, 2011

Festive Favourites - Little Drummer Boy

I love holiday music. I love the classics, the standards sung by the likes of Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. To me, Santa Baby is best by Eartha Kitt, not Madonna.

Tonight I watched a video of Winnipeg, Manitoba teen Sean Quigley performing his version of Little Drummer Boy. I am so happy I happened to watch this video tonight. I love the song, I love how he made it modern and energy filled but kept it pure and familiar. Thank heavens for Youtube; I hope he records more!


Awesome right?


November 27, 2011

{This Chistmas} Let me tell you where to go

Since we confirmed that HOTGI and I would be hosting my family Christmas dinner this year, I've had it in my head that I wanted to have place markers at everyone's spot. We are only going to be a small group, but I like the presentation of a well laid table and for me part of that look this year is personalized place markers. I knew I needed to made something fun :)

There are a lot of inspirations out there on the interwebz, and I like everything so I knew I needed a starting point. So when I went to Michaels this morning, I found these super cute place card holders! They were 2 for $1.50 and I knew they'd be perfect.

Using my Cricut and a borrowed cartridge (thanks Andrea!) I cut out a 3" tag using the "shadow" feature with brown cardstock and a 3" tag using the regular feature in a sheet of holiday scrapbook paper (again, thanks Andrea!) and glued them together.

Then, in an excercise of patience and dexterity I applied glue (via glue-stick) to the back of each letter of each person's name and placed them on the prepared cards with a set of precision tweezers.

I cut a length of pretty green satin ribbon, tied it through the hole of each card and trimmed the ends.

Adorable right?

There are six of us confirmed for Christmas dinner at our house this year and I am incredibly pleased with how these place cards turned out. They might not be appreciated by anyone but me, but I cannot wait to see how they look on my table, and sometimes it's the little things that make me happy!

Now that this project (that admittedly took a bunch of time) is over, I have a mountain of other things to get done... asap!


November 19, 2011

Flexing my Creative Muscle {making Christmas gifts}

I am fortunate to have a great group of friends who - though we are spread across the country - are closer than some who see each other all the time. We decided a number of years ago to do some fun exchanges a couple times a year (usually Christmas and in the spring) and have names drawn and kept secret until the gifts were recieved. This year for Christmas, we decided on a more modest budget for each other so I expect there will be some creative ladies sending some lovely packages.

As for the friend whose name I drew... she will be getting some awesome (in my opinion) handmade/heartmade things along with some baking. I hope she loves what I send her! I had the Cricut set up last night, cutting out some paper with a cartridge borrowed from a mega-crafty friend and flexing my creative muscle for part of her present!

Oooooh what's it gonna be??! :)

Now I need to decide what to bake and send...


November 11, 2011

Take time to Remember...

Every day, brave men and women in our military risk their lives in the name of freedom as so many have done before. In time of war, lives are lost. Too many lives lost. The honour and bravery displayed by members of our Canadian Armed Forces is applauded and remembered today.

Whether going to a Remembrance Day service at a cenotaph or watching a service on television, I always take time on November 11th to pay my respects and say a prayer of gratitude. I always cry too. The music never fails to get to me. The ceremonial gathering of aging veterans in uniform with expressions of both sadness and pride makes my heart ache. I figure making time to express my thanks for their servitude is the least I can do.

One of my favourite bands (The Trews) came out with a song called Highway of Heroes that gets me every time. Take a listen, and take a moment to be grateful for our freedom.

And in the words of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


November 10, 2011

I've been shot!

Okay, so it was the flu shot and I'm being dramatic. But I have a bandaid over the injection site and my right arm feels like it weighs 50lbs.

Are you planning on getting a flu shot this season? Some folks are really passionate about getting the vaccine, or not (as it were).

I used to think it was all hooey but the last 2 years I've had the flu shot and not been sick with the flu, but I used to always get knocked out for at least a week in the winter with a nasty plague-esque flu before I started getting the inoculation.

I also work closely with a guy who has a compromised immune system (thanks to necessary but immunosuppressant meds), so if me getting a flu shot helps keep the nastyness that can really hurt him at bay, it is worth it. And with me having surgery in February, I figure I am only doing good for myself by getting a flu shot.

Besides, my company has a nurse come into our office to administer the injections, so it really couldn't be easier. If we didn't have someone come in, who knows if I'd have even started getting the flu shot!


November 8, 2011

So, do you think you know Movember?

I've been seeing and hearing lots lately about Movember. I have no co-workers participating (that I know of) however I see people all over Facebook taking up the cause, and growing shadows on their upper lips. Some will become flourishing lip ticklers, some will sadly remain in the "crustache" stage. I give props to all those men who take part, and fundraise for a wonderful cause. Some of these men look dashing with newly mustachioed faces, others... well I look forward to December 1st.

Want to learn more about Movember and be entertained by local musician (not singing in the video) and HOTGI's schoolmate Charlie A'Court?

Read up on the risks of prostate cancer and how you can help all men in your life make sure they aren't made a statistic. Getting checked might not be a brilliant good time, but it could mean the difference between a long life with loved ones, or an unfortunately premature demise. Be educated, do youself and the people in your life a favor. Thank you.


October 28, 2011

Upcycle a book into a decorative pumpkin!

I've been seeing books turned into creative decor items all over the internet recently so I decided to try my own. In the spirit of Halloween, a pumpkin seemed to be a good choice.

You should try it too! Here's how I did it...

First thing was finding a paperback book I didn't mind destroying. I am pretty particular about my books, so selecting one that was going to be ruined was a serious internal debate. I chose a book that came in a box of random books I bought at an auction that I had zero interest in reading.

Ripping the front and back pages off made my heart beat quickly. Ruining a book goes against everything I believe in.

I drew the shape of half a pumpkin on the front page.

Time to start cutting away the excess paper outside the pumpkin shape.

I started with scissors.

After the first few pages, the scissors became too awkward to use, so I switched to a knife with a fresh blade. The new blade was necessary since I tore a bunch of pages with the dull blade that was in it.

There were a LOT of teeny tiny paper pieces while I was cutting, it was a handy idea to keep the vacuum nearby!

Now... when you do yours, try and keep your edge straight. Unlike mine. I was so frustrated  by the time I got to the end that I trimmed up the pages as best I could and hoped nobody would notice. Thank heavens it turned out well.

I opened the used-to-be-a-book and bent the front and back around to meet each other and use hot glue to keep it together. I kept the glue close to the spine to make it more stable. It look some fussing and fidgeting to get the pages spaced the way I wanted, and I used some more glue to keep them where I wanted.

Then there was the whole issue of how to colour the pumpkin. I thought about watered down acrylic paint but then I worried about the pages sticking together. Then I thought about an orange ink pad, but I didn't find any I liked. So I used some orange spray paint. When I spray paint a project, I use the low part of the rock retaining wall in my backyard.

I let it dry inside while I went foraging for something to use as a stem

I ended up grabbing a twig the maple tree in my front yard left behind. I trimmed it to a reasonable pumpkin stem length and hot glued it in the middle of the hole made by the spine of the book

I rummaged through my ribbon basket and found a pretty green ribbon to tie around the stem for an extra punch of colour. Displayed next to a large decorative spider, it makes the bookcase at the top of my stairs look fun and festive!

Go ahead! Give it a try! Let me know how it works out for you!


October 24, 2011

It's Apple Crisp Season Y'all!

I love this time of year. The leaves are turning, the temperatures are shifting to cozy sweater necessary and the apples are ripe on their trees. Over the past short while, I have come to be in posession of 30 lbs of apples.

20 lbs of Gravenstein - 10 lbs MacIntosh
What better thing to use up some apples than the favourite dessert of He-of-the-good-ideas... apple crisp?!!

So I grabbed my favourite casserole dish (1.8L French White) out of the cupboard of my newly completed kitchen (squee!) and peeled a mix of as many peeled apples filled my dish (my version of fancy measuring!)

Naked apples in a dish
I core and cut mine into segments with my Pampered Chef apple slicer which I love because it cuts the apples into 10 segments. For the segments with a bit of the core still on it, I use a paring knife to tidy them. Toss the segments into a large bowl for doctoring.

I grease my casserole dish with soft margerine and sprinkle it with a tablespoon of flour.

Take your bowl of apple segments and pour in 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup white sugar and a "shake" of nutmeg. Honestly, I don't measure this. I use this kind of nutmeg and use the wee shaker side.

Mix it all up and pour into your greased casserole dish. I assemble the apple pieces to make sure there aren't too many big bits sticking up. Take a piece of sweet, cinnamonney (it's a word!) apple and eat it. Okay? Eat another. I ate about 5. Okay, 6.

Now, for the topping!

I use a half-cup of block margerine that I cut up small and microwave in a glass measuring cup.

In another large bowl I mixed together 3/4 cup quick rolled oats, 3/4 brown sugar and 3/4 cup of flour.

Add in 1/4 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder

(I didn't take a picture of it, but I put in about 1 tbsp of cinnamon and a few shakes of nutmeg)

Add in the melted margerine

Mix together until crumbly

Mmmm I ate a piece of the topping too

Bake at 350 for half an hour. Sometimes I turn the broiler on for about 5 minutes at the end, sometime I don't.

I set it on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then dug into it with a nice big serving spoon!

A nice big bowl for me and an even bigger one for HOTGI!

Oh my... so good!! There is totally a 2nd serving in the kitchen just calling my name!

If you make apple crisp, I'd love to know what you do that makes yours a family favourite!


October 14, 2011

A Halloween craft on a Friday night

I tidied up my crafting room tonight. It still needs some serious sorting and organizing but I can easily use the space now and set up my new Cricut Create! Tonight I made something fun and festive for Halloween!

After some trial and error with blade depth and cut speed, I cut out a few letters using some orange coloured copy paper that I've had hanging around for years using the Don Juan cartridge. I glued the letters to a piece of black craft foam from the dollar store. Then the craft foam was glued to another piece of orange paper, popped the whole thing into a dollar store frame that I bought for a wedding project 4 years ago and finished off with a piece of green ribbon that was in my ribbon basket.

Cute, non?

I think it looks adorable all nestled into the bottom part of our TV stand in the living room. It is a fun punch of colour and seasonally appropriate decor. And on a $0 budget too!

How are you decorating for Halloween this year?


October 13, 2011

Mama's got a brand new toy!

So lately I've been dreaming about having my own Cricut machine. I have have been reading reviews and checking out prices and talking to others that I know who have them, trying to determine the best machine for my needs.

Then this morning I got an email from Michael's announcing that they were having a 2 day sale with some smokin' good prices on certain things. One particular thing was a Cricut Create on for $79 (reg. price $199!) so HOTGI went over (Michael's is fairly close to his office) after a meeting this afternoon and picked it up for me!!

I cannot wait to play with it!! Tonight I have too many domestic things to take care of around the house (not to mention baking an apple crisp to take to work tomorrow) so it will have to wait, but I have so many ideas of what I want to use it for!


October 6, 2011

Soapbox Moment – Local Community Support

Last weekend was the annual fire hall auction held by the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade. This annual Harvest Sale is an auction that sells items both large and small as donated by members and friends of the community.
I love this auction. I look forward to it in a sensation that feels like a kid waiting for Christmas. You never know what is going to be there that you need. Or don’t need. Ahem.  Oh by the way, He-of-the-good-ideas is one of the auctioneers. I absolutely love listening to him up on the podium! He’s quick and keen and his description of some items leaves me and many of those in attendance in stitches. When he was younger he was an active member of the fire hall;  his father still is.

He-of-the-good-ideas and Johnny

There are dressers (there was an awesome one that got away) and lamps (I bought one), an alphabet stamp set (complete... also mine), some truckloads of gravel (good deal if you need it), a bull calf (for reals!), a bunch of embroidery thread (as seen here and here) and a bunch of other weird and wonderful things.

It’s a serious plunge into rural country life. There are some real colourful characters and some real good ole’ nice folks.  There are people I look forward to seeing every year. A nice older lady I missed seeing this year, but she’s a real sweetheart. I should ask if my MIL knows how she is.
The thing is... when you donate to a community fire hall for a fundraiser – either as a monetary donation or items given – you are helping your friends. Your neighbours. The people you care about. Give what you are able, if you are able.
The money raised helps the volunteer firefighters buy the things that make a firehall operate. The things that educate; the things that save lives. Volunteers who protect person and property have the resources to keep current and functional.
Never been to a community fire hall auction? Go. Do it. You never know what you might come home with. Maybe a passion to be a volunteer yourself.


October 4, 2011

It's Tuesday and I'm Kinda Nuts

So remember when I last posted, I showed you all of the embroidery thread that I bought at an auction?

Here they are now!

Oooh pretty! And holy crapload of work!
Yup, I wound all 124 skeins of thread around plastic bobbins that I bought at a hobby shop!

Added to the thread I already owned, I am now in posession of a whole mess of pretty bobbins!

And no, they aren't in colour order... that is a project for another day! For now (until I get more appropriate storage) the bobbins are hanging out in a 9x13 cake pan!

So, what should I stitch first?


October 2, 2011

Weekend Deal in Colour Order

This weekend marked the annual firehall auction/sale for the community where HOTGI grew up. He's been one of their auctioneers for the past 16 years or so and I have a blast every year when we go. You never know what you might come home with! There are some smokin' deals to be had if you are able to think outside the box a little bit.

This year I came home with some great goodies that I will be sharing in future posts, but what I am sharing today is maybe the favourite thing I came home with...

Embroidery floss. 124 skeins of embroidery floss... for $6!!

Check out these five shades of variegated threads!

Lots of beautiful colours! I can't wait to start creating with them!

I have lots of thinking/planning/stitching to do!