Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas cooking - Fudge


Yesterday I made a big batch of fudge for holiday gifts and to take to a Christmas party.  Half of it went to the potluck and there were only three pieces left when I departed!  I guess that means it was a winner ;-)



 
The recipe is basically the "Never-Fail Fudge" from James Beard's American Cookery book.  I added in some chopped walnuts and dried cherries to make it a little more festive.  And I took pictures of the process because I love the way it comes together.



Fudge - totally not scary to make, and a really great holiday treat!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Clean

Housework goes so much better with an apron on.

My room was just as much a disaster as ever, but took less than half the time to clean that it usually does - because since I organized over the summer, I know exactly where everything is *supposed* to go.  I may not put it there on a daily basis but when it comes to clearing up, at least I have some structure to work with.

Conrad acts like we've moved to a new place every time I clean.  He has to sniff around and explore all the nooks and crannies as if for the first time ever.

I still have far more fabric and yarn than I have space in which to store them.

Candles make everything better.  So do fresh flowers.

I'm much more motivated to clean on days like yesterday - grey and blustery - than when it's sunny outside.  I'm not sure why that is?

It's finally beginning to feel like Christmas.  I think maybe I just needed some order in my life.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

restless

If I've been quiet around here, it's been mostly the time of year - end of semester exams, recital hearing (I passed!), work, pre-Christmas concerts.  (As a singer, this is probably my busiest time of year.)  But more than that it's just me.  I've been restless, unsettled - incredibly busy yet feeling at loose ends.  More than that I'm really having trouble believing that it's only a week until Christmas.  The weather's not helping - it persists in behaving like early October... but somehow the "Christmas spirit" is awfully slow in coming to me this year. 

This week I'm busy cleaning and cooking in preparation for my brother's visit, and also finishing up the last of the Christmas knitting (more than there should be, but I think it's doable.)  After Christmas you'll get all the gift-knitting in photos, but for now there's not much to show.  So I'll just leave you with a song from Kate Walsh, who I discovered a while ago but have really fallen in love with this week.  She has the sweetest voice. 


Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Amy Scarf


You've seen quite a bit of this scarf around here in various stages of completion, but here she is in all her full glory.  Or not - the sik in this yarn gives it a luscious shimmer which just doesn't quite translate on camera and makes the colour really quite difficult to capture.


But I think you get the idea.


Just for comparison -- here's the original, and here's how mine turned out.  I think I got it!



And even if you've never watched a second of Doctor Who and couldn't care less about Amy Pond, you've got to admit the lace patern is pretty.


This beauty is in my shop this week, and I think I'm going to have to make another just for myself, because I'm a little in love!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Sunny Days


This quilt may be the only sunny day I see for a while!  I went for a bit of a bike ride this morning to photograph this - the weather was gorgeous, mid-60s and breezy, and it was delightful except for the fact that I haven't ridden a bike since July or so, and my legs protested.  But this afternoon it turned cold and cloudy and it's been raining since about 4 pm.  Not that I'm complaining - it's almost December and it's about time we had some cold weather.  It's just not so great for bike rides ;)


But back to the quilt!  Almost all of this fabric is left over from other quilts - the yellow didn't fit into the colour scheme of its original project quite so well as I thought it would, and the blues and greens are mostly from the Summer Nights quilt I made a few years ago.  The backing is the same sheet I used on that quilt as well, but there wasn't quite enough, so I pieced some of my yellow fabric into it.


It's machine-pieced and hand-quilted, as all of mine are (my poor machine can't handle that many layers, and I love the look of hand-quilting!)  The main quilt is just done in simple diagonals, but for the border I used one of the quilting stencils which a dear friend gave me for my last birthday.  (Thank you, Joy!)  It was so easy - I just traced the pattern with a fabric pen, stitched along the lines, and bunged the whole thing in the washer to get rid of the ink.



I really like how this one turned out !  It's cheerful and sunny and I think it would be perfect for a baby boy.  It's crib-sized, but would also work well for a play mat.  It's in my shop tonight!


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

First Frost


The only, only good thing about waking up at 6 AM (to a blast of Arctic-seeming air from the heating vents, as the landlady has turned the thermostat down from 70 to 65 overnight...) and scooting out of the house at 7:05 and missing the bus by 30 seconds at 7:20, thereby necessitating a drive to school... the only, only good thing about all that was waking up early enough to get a good look at this year's first hard frost.


Beautiful, the juxtaposition of autumn's last blaze and winter's first ice, like the intersection between the real world and fantasy.


But which is which?


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cat pictures and French songs

This last week I've been busy and sick.  Some busy, but mostly sick.  Seriously, I'm really tired of getting bad colds and losing my voice right before important concerts!  So let's have some pictures of Conrad to fill the blogging void:

Brooding.

This is his "What? You mean I'm not supposed to be sitting on the table?  Nobody told ME that" face.

He's so huge.
(I've been knitting, too, but it's all Christmas knitting at this point and I don't know whether the recipients are liable to read my blog.  So I won't be flashing around too many finished-object photos for the next month or so.)

I've also been slightly obsessed with French songs lately.  A friend posted a song by Pink Martini a few weeks ago and I've been loving their music... which led me to this song, which I love, and I think you will too.  Enjoy :)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Quiet life

It's Friday night and I don't have to work, and I'm making the best of it!  Between rehearsals, concerts, work, and more rehearsals, I've hardly been home for the evening at all for the last two weeks or so.  But tonight I got home by five and the landpeople are all out at various functions, so I have the house to myself.  An entire evening of blessed reprieve from the constant television and radio (often at the same time).  Bliss!


Mostly what I'm doing is using the time to catch up on laundry, but I also made a proper dinner for the first time in a while.  Quite simple - pan-cooked pork chops (and when I say pork chops I actually mean pork loin which I sliced up into smaller sections because I can't eat a whole one in a reasonable amount of time), rice, corn, and gravy.  It looks and tastes pretty fancy, for very little effort!

And because this is me, there is also knitting.  The latest sock, waiting for me to finish eating so I can put in another few inches.


(And yes.  I drink my wine out of a ball jar.  I'm classy like that.)

I hope you all are having a lovely beginning to your weekend!

P.S.  On a housekeeping note, I'm re-instating the word verification thingy, because I've recently been inundated with spam comments.  And there's nothing worse than thinking you have a legitimate comment on a blog post and then finding out it's someone spouting off about how they can help your photography or make you money off your blog.)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pond life

You may remember last year I went all out with my costume for Halloween.  This year I decided on something a little more low-key, since I had to be at school and church and at least pretend to be professional.  So, here I give you my interpretation of Amy Pond's costume from the "Vampires of Venice" episode.

I don't know what that face is.  Challenges of self-photography with a timer...
Unfortunately I don't have many good photos.  I really need a tripod instead of relying on whatever object of convenient height might be standing around... that or a friend who likes taking outfit photos!  It's not a completely accurate reproduction of the costume - Amy's boots are black, her shirt slightly more muted, and of course she's a ginger.  But I worked with what I had (and I didn't dare play with hair dye less than a month before the opera.  I have no desire to be slaughtered by an irate director!)


I'll be wearing this again though, to get proper photos of the scarf.  It's the defining piece of the outfit, to me... and I finished it at an ungodly hour of the morning, gave it a quick bath, and stretched it out on a couple towels so it would be wearable.  Once it's had a proper blocking I'll do an official blog post before it goes up in the shop.


Anyway, I achieved my goal.  I got to dress up as Amy, which pleased me; I still looked fairly "normal", but friends who watch Doctor Who figured out the costume.  Oh, and my new haircut turned out to be just about the right length for Amy, though that wasn't my reason for the trim!

(Side note: this may be the shortest skirt I have ever worn.  The scary thing is it wasn't nearly the shortest one I saw in my size in the shops. Yikes.)


(Clothing details: Skirt and shirt from thrift stores, belt and jacket from Target, tights from Forever 21, boots from Payless.  Scarf made by me.)

Bonus: pretty sunshine!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Photo Shoot


Yesterday I did a bit of a photo shoot for the completed secret knitting.  I'd planned it all out in my head -- Dunbar Cave again, with brilliant blue skies, blazing autumnal foliage, and the warm golden light of late afternoon.  October has been behaving more like September recently, anyway.  It would be perfect.

Then it rained.  Really rained -- not to mention the unexpected 30-degree overnight drop in temperature.


But since I have a deadline to send this off, I decided to go for it anyway.  My sweet model was a trooper, and we just worked the umbrella into the photos.  I think I might like the shots I got even better than what I'd originally planned for.


You only get the vague, distant, or slightly blurry ones today, since after all it is a secret project and I can't really show you until it becomes un-secret.  When that happens, though, I'll have a proper post with all the photos and more details about the project!  For now, just enjoy photos of a big red umbrella in the rain.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Happy things

Once again I've been neglecting my blog... it's the time of the semester when professors decide you really need more projects, and there seems to be a performance every week, and you start getting stressed about being ready for the opera or your voice juries.  (That's if you're me, anyway.)  So today, three things that have made me happy this week!


These no-bake cookies.  They have craisins in them and they're so yummy!  Between the oats, peanut butter, and dried fruit, I can pretend they're healthy... right?  (I bet they'd be good with other kinds of fruit in them, too.  I plan to experiment!)


My Amy Pond scarf.  It's over half-way finished now, I think!  The colour is refusing to photograph correctly - it's a true red, not at all orange, not too blue.  This is the closest I could get, but the red is a little darker and more saturated.


This book!  My professors know me too well.  One of them found this at a used book store over the weekend and said she had to get it for me.  It's great :-D

Also in the past few weeks I've hemmed six choir dresses and done alterations for a friend's recital dress (two layers of heavy knit fabric and one of chiffon - youch.)  And I finished the secret sample knitting, but I can't show you pictures of that here yet for a while.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Back to creating

I've been on a bit of a crafting hiatus these last several weeks, as my hands and wrists decided to let it be known that I'd been overworking them*.  I've been wearing a brace on my right hand and trying to teach myself to be ambidextrous (since the left hand is not nearly as sore.)  Apart from the pile of choir dresses and tuxedo trousers I hemmed, I haven't touched a project since mid-September.  Three weeks of essentially no knitting has been difficult!


Today, though, my hands were feeling better and I decided to tackle the quilt tops I pieced last month.  Now I have two lovely quilt sandwiches, just waiting to be quilted!


I also sliced up a pile of fabric scraps into strips, ready to become another quilt top.


The brace is back on for insurance but I don't think I've damaged myself by today's exertions.  If all feels right tomorrow I'm going to give knitting a try!


*Possibly mild carpal tunnel syndrome, although it doesn't fit most of the common symptoms (numbness, tingling, loss of grip.)  It's just sore if I use my hands too much.  And yes, I plan to ask my doctor about it next time I go in.)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

October sunshine and a birthday hat


I went for a walk today after church -- mostly just to enjoy the gorgeous weather, but also to scope out possible sites for a future photo shoot.



The weather was perfect!  Maybe about 60, with sun and a brisk wind, pleasantly chilly when I took off my coat.  (People at church kept asking me why I was "bundled up" - I never thought that a lightweight trench coat, thin scarf, and hat chosen for fashion purposes counted as bundled up when the projected high is 55*... but maybe I'm wrong.)



These are all at Dunbar Cave state park, just a couple miles from school.  The trails are very easy - the longest is only about 2 miles - but it's pretty!  The woods were alive with squirrels and birds, and I startled saw a doe and her fawn off the trail at one point.  Down by the lake (Swan Lake!) were ducks and geese, and turtles sunbathing.


Mostly there were other hikers (complete with requisite "exercise" clothes and a couple of dogs apiece).  Somebody told me "you look too cute to be hiking!" which I decided to take as a compliment, except I didn't really consider this a hike.  More of a leisurely walk through the woods, for which purpose my outfit was perfectly adequate.


Also: people look at you really funny if they catch you taking self-photographs on a woodland trail.  So mostly if I heard someone coming I took nature photos instead.

We're not at peak colour yet, but some of the trees are putting on their autumn finery!
Oh!  And the reason I took the camera in the first place was to get photos of my hat, which my sweet sister made for my birthday.  (She forgot to weave in the loose ends afterwards, but I forgive her!)  Since my birthday's in July, though, I haven't had an opportunity until now to wear it.


I love it.  It's the perfect shade of red and it looks good with my hair loose, which most hats do not.

Fuzzy, overexposed, failed "jump" shot. It makes me laugh.
(Dress from Ross, several years ago.  Tights and boots from Target.  Coat from Old Navy.  Scarf from a market stall somewhere in France - Nice, maybe?  Hat from my sister.)