Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !

One last post before the new year arrives.

I've been away for a few days and haven't had access to a computer - there's a lot of reading to do to catch up with all the new blog posts I see posted.

Christmas was quiet for the most part - DH & I had the day to ourselves, til suppertime anyway. We were invited to a friend's house so someone else did all the cooking - always a good thing !
Boxing Day morning was an early one, I left for New Brunswick to visit my family - the bus departure was 6am ! Had to be up before 5am - never a good thing. LOL :-)

It was a great week at home. With 7 siblings & a multitude of nieces & nephews and not all of them living in the same city, it's hit or miss whether I see them all or not when I'm home. This trip everyone was home at the same time as me at some point. Each day it seemed someone was leaving and someone else was arriving. I hope my Dad means it when he says he loves having us all at home 'cos oh boy, we certainly descend on him at holiday time.

DH doesn't make this trip with me and if I manage to actually stay awake to midnight, then I want to be wishing in the New Year with him so I always make sure to be back home on time ! I took the overnight bus last night and arrived home this morning.

Some of you are looking back over your year of sewing accomplishments. This was what I consider my first real year of sewing and I certainly did not accomplish a great quantity of items - but I'm very happy with what I 'have' done and everything gets worn.

I started with a shirt (M4399) for DH - which he likes and wears.

I made 3 skirts for myself (only took pics of 2) from M3341 - all 3 were worn all summer - really comfortable !

I also made a pair of Ottobre capris which I do wear but one posting of the picture (sometime back in June) is quite enough - 'nuff said.

The big project of the year, of course, is my coat (V8346) - I joined Marji's coat sewalong and hope to finish it soon. Now that the holidays are over, I'll get back to it. It's taking forever, but I'm learning alot and just completing it will be a major achievement - it doesn't really matter how long it takes me.

Next year, although I won't do an actual SWAP, I'd like to try to make sure any new items 'go' with each other and/or with pieces I already own. There are also quite a few UFO's lying around that I'd like to finish.

It looks like I'm going to make it to midnight this year - the clock says 10:47 - I'm sure I can manage another hour :-)

Happy New Year everybody !!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas !

Heilige Nacht
Heilige Nacht

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a safe, happy & healthy New Year !

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Just Rambling

I spent some time this month making my gifty coasters but no other sewing - might as well post food pics.

This was the end of the Christmas leftovers - the last piece of Lemon Pie (no, it didn't last til today - I took this pic on Tuesday, I think !) - I have no idea what it tasted like...I never got a piece, LOL !

This week was as busy as expected, but on a high note, my project was finished Friday, on time and complete. I finish on Fridays as 11:30 am and hit SEND on my email at 11:25 am ! I'd made no plans for Friday afternoon, knowing I'd have to stay till it was all done so finishing on time was BONUS !!!!!

Now all I have to do is pick up and wrap the last couple of gifts for Christmas Day. That'll have to be today since they're forecasting a snowstorm all day tomorrow. My sewing table is now covered in wrapping paper, tags, etc. so sewing is still on hold. I hope to get back to 'the coat' asap.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Leftovers & more leftovers

Enough for a few meals anyway.
Dessert leftovers will last awhile. This was the end of the eggnog ice cream.

Still have some cherry pie, lemon pie and lemon pudding - everything else went home with someone at the end of the evening.

Now, after the hustle & bustle of the past month, this week I'm doing nuttin' !

Work will be crazy - we've got a big deadline for Friday - but once I'm home, 'nuttin' !!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Twas a Success !

I hope you all had a great weekend - ours was absolutely wonderful - we spent it with family & friends, after all :-)

It's almost bedtime and except for driving my brother home this morning, this is the first actual thing I've done today.

The party is over & a good time was had by all :-)

As a lovely, tho' unusual and unexpected, development our guests started arriving mid-afternoon. Normally, everyone only shows up about and after 5pm. This gives them the day for themselves and the evening for us. Also, just about every year there is a problem, snowstorm, ice storm, work on the bridge, closed lanes on the bridge (everyone who comes has to 'cross the bridge' to get to us), etc, etc...THIS year there was nothing ! no storms, no roadwork, no traffic !

Supper was excellent, all the desserts turned out well - we stuffed ourselves silly - that IS what Christmas dinner is all about, right ?

Now with only 2 people in my house, I bake one thing at a time, things I know we like, but when I have company, I tend to try new things out on them. They are my guinea pigs and they're ok with it - most things turn out, but this group has been first hand witnesses to many failures ! Lemon pie in bowls eaten with spoons, comes to mind :-)

This year, my pies had 'made from scratch' pastry (only my 2nd attempt at this) instead of premade pie shells. The cherry cream pie was a successful first attempt. The eggnog ice cream was a hit - there is only about 1 cup left in the container - it MAY make it til tomorrow, but I wouldn't bet on it LOL, the buttered rum sauce was great on the ice cream.

The lemon filling didn't thicken (only the 2nd time this happened to me) but a bit of gelatin to the rescue and the pie turned out great. The lemon pudding and cheesecakes are both standard desserts for this party.

Every Christmas my Mom made each person's favorite dessert - we used to eat just enough dinner to get to the 'important' part of the meal LOL - with 8 kids, that was alot of baking. After setting everything out last night, I realized I'm carrying on this tradition ! I think there were more desserts than main meal dishes - hmm, I should have thought to take a picture of the lunch counter all laid out.

Anyway, my gift packages are now all opened so I can post pictures of what I made.

You all know about the weeks of cookie baking. Here is a box all packed and ready to be closed up (7 boxes - about 6 dozen cookies per box)

I always use knitted dishcloths for washing dishes - I haven't bought dishcloths in years. Most people I know like them but don't knit - so I decided to make everyone 2. Here are the first few, finished except for weaving in the ends.

During my blog reading, I found Angie at Quality Time's post of her version of criss-cross coasters. For the directions, she linked to the following site (check out both of these sites for gift items)

These were way too cute to NOT try. I immediately tested one with some squares of flannel I had laying around and decided that everyone had to have a set. Is a fat quarter 1 piece of 18"x22" or 4 pieces ? WalMart had sets of 4 pieces of coordinating cottons and 1 set made about 11 coasters, give or take. Each gift package had a set of 4 and I've got all the leftovers.

Here's a pic of 5 sets of discloths and coasters ready for wrapping.

Pics of our Christmas decorations - the tree:

The mantle: (yes, 4 stockings - 2 people, 2 dogs, we all get one)

The table - almost ready (those towels DID get moved of the back of the chair before people arrived LOL) - you can just see the lemon pie on the counter to the right of the table.

And finally, like so many others, I'm going to copy Summerset's 'parting shot' - this was the view from my front door this morning. It certainly looks like winter has arrived !

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1 more day to go

I've only got tomorrow to get everything together - anything not done by tomorrow bedtime - oh well.

So, far,

cookies - all done
ice cream - french vanilla, eggnog - done (I wanted to make peppermint also but can you believe I cannot find peppermint candy canes only red - the red ones are cherry flavored - peppermint is red/green & I'm afraid of what color ice cream THAT'll make !)
cheesecakes - 2 in the oven - done

cherry cream pie - to do
lemon pudding - to do - hmm should do that tonight it only takes 15 minutes - done
cranberry sauce - will do tonight - again, only 5 minutes or so - done.
apple crisp - to do on Saturday
rum sauce for the ice cream - to do
fruit puree topping for the cheescake - to do

gift sewing - all done - to be pressed - iron is heating up - done
gift knitting - have to count - I think I still have 2 more to make.

wrapping of said gifts and packing of cookies into the boxes.

tree is up and lights are on - still have to decorate it - DH is decorating the tree

Panic mode is well underway ! :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eggnog Ice Cream !

Ok, the eggnog ice cream has been in the freezer for just about 24 hours.

Any of you who have been interested - TRY IT - it is excellent. I just took the tiniest spoonful to try it and ... whoa, there won't be much left over by Sunday, I'm sure.

The link to the recipe is here (along with lots more tempting recipes !) CDKitchen Eggnog_Ice_Cream_with_Hot_Buttered Rum Sauce

I did make one 'itty bitty' change. I don't use whole milk, only 1%, so instead of 1 cup milk I used 3/4 cup of 10% cream and 1/4 cup of the 1% milk.

Trena - if you like ice cream - the attachment is definitely a good buy - the homemade stuff is just so much better.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thoughts on Ice Cream

When I got the Ice Cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid I made the French Vanilla recipe that came in the book. It was a lot easier than I was expecting and it turned out Fabulous ! Even I liked it (and I don't usually like vanilla anything)...Then I found a chocolate ice cream recipe in one of my books. Worked well too. Not the greatest tho' - will try another recipe.

Any recipe I've come across calls for cooking. Marjie has also been making ice cream but she has recipes that you don't have to cook first - gotta try one of them !

This week I decided to make an Eggnog ice cream for my Christmas dinner this Saturday. The recipe I found called for 1/4 cup rum - I DON'T LIKE RUM ! But DH does and he can't drink the processed eggnog because the preservatives give him a migraine. So, I figured this could be a good substitute.

During the course of the week I also came across some comment that if you add liquor to ice cream it will prevent it from freezing so hard. TRUE ! I made the ice cream today and normally when it's ready, the Ice Cream maker will start to make a clicking noise and skip. With the rum added this ice cream was still VERY soft after the processing was done. Will soon see how hard it is once it's been in the freezer a while.

Oh, and although I really don't like rum - this ice cream will not last long - it's great - yes, of course I tasted it ! LOL

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still in the Kitchen.....

Ann asked how many cookies I have to make for my christmas tins.

Well, I made 5 kinds. Each of the 8 tins will probably have 2 dozen ribbon, 1 dozen each of shortbread, spritz & almond balls & 1/2 dozen candy canes , I didn't make enough to put in a full dozen, oops - I'm also expected to bring a container in to work sometime before Christmas AND have a full cookie jar at home - All I can say is it's a lot & thank goodness I'm done. (I 'might' still make fudge - somebody STOP me !)

Now, I'm baking for dinner Saturday - ice cream was on sale this week - did I buy it ? NOooo, what a silly idea ! LOL ! I made the French Vanilla on Sunday (check), Eggnog in the fridge chillin' (check), Peppermint (or Candy Cane), have to buy candy canes tomorrow and get the ice cream cooked and into the fridge for chilling - hopefully to be processed and frozen on Wednesday.

Still need to make a cheesecake, lemon pudding & an apple crisp (only to be made on Saturday, DH request - he can help peel apples :-) ) I'm sure I'm forgetting something, hmmm...

Plus the sewing & knitting still has to be finished. Off to sew......................

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The end of the cookies

This morning's baking...I made the dough for these yesterday and baked them this morning. Should I post the recipes ?

Candy Cane cookies & Almond balls

Cookie tins will have Ribbon cookies, Candy Cane cookies, Almond balls, Spritz, & Shortbread cookies - that oughta keep all the men happy !

The balance of the afternoon was spent on the knitting projects, finished the 2 on the needles and started 2 more, hopefully to be finished or almost finished tonight.

Tomorrow during the shopping trip I'll pick up the fabric I need to continue/complete one of the sewing projects.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Baking

1 more batch of cookies done, that is, if you consider 16 dozen 1 batch, LOL ... Spritz won out since they are the quickest to do, especially on a weekday evening. I made these Tuesday evening.

1st tray just going into the oven:

All done and cooling.

Now this year, after making the same mistake 2 years in a row, I wrote the 'correct' baking time on my recipe. It say 10-12 minutes at 375° - well that amount of time produces the dark cookies you see at the top right corner of the 2nd picture ! Spritz cookies are NOT supposed to be dark - although they taste just fine - trust me ! LOL

In my oven, 8 minutes produces the desired result, next year I won't mess up the first tray.

Spritz Cookies

2 cups butter (MUST use butter !)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp almond extract)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 375°F. Refrigerate UNGREASED cookie sheets until ready to use.
Note - pressing the dough out onto cool, ungreased sheets makes it possible for each application to stick on contact.

In a large bowl, mix butter until creamy.
Gradually add sugar; cream until light and fluffy.
Add egg and beat well.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Gradually add flour to mixture beating well after each addition.

If the dough is too soft to go thru the cookie press cleanly, chill the dough for 15 minutes or so.
If the dough is too firm, add 1 or 2 tsp of milk.

Pack the dough into up your cookie press fitted with your desired shape. Press cookies onto ungreased baking sheets about 1-inch apart.

Bake at 375° F, 10-12 minutes

Let cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes and use a very thin spatula to remove them to the cooling racks- they're quite fragile and will break easily !

Makes approximately 6 dozen.

The Coat's a Bust ...

No, not forever, I haven't given up on it !

BUT...Christmas is just around the corner and as I've mentioned, my big dinner is next weekend ... the to do list as it stands now is:
  • Put up Christmas Tree
  • Put up Decorations
  • Finish gifts for 13 people (5 couples, 3 singles) - everything in varying stages of completion but none done.
  1. 8 tins of cookies - still 3 kinds to make
  2. knitting - what I decided to do last month (2/3 done)
  3. sewing - what I decided to do last week (1/2 done)
  4. more sewing - what I decided to do last night (hmm, just started)
WHAT was I thinking ?! (on the bright side - on Sunday I almost added PJ pants to my sewing to do list and reined myself in - all by myself LOL)
  • Wrap said gifts (cannot post pics yet, I'm not 110% positive that no-one knows about this blog so I don't want to take any chances.)
  • Grocery shopping for dinner - I DO have the turkey
  • Baking for dinner (tentatively a couple pies, couple cheesecakes, lemon pudding w/fruit & marshmallows, ice cream (from scratch this year ?) & COOKIES)
  • Cooking dinner is a 2-man deal, after 15 years, DH & I have the assembly line down to a science now.

Plus the things I still have to do and have forgotten at the moment. 8 days and counting.....

All that adds up to absolutely no coat progress any time soon. I won't get to even touch it before Dec 15th - just about the time everyone else starts to panic in preparation for Christmas !