Archive for November, 2007

Holiday Meme

November 29, 2007

I saw this meme on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog and thought it would be fun. If you do it, go to that blog and post a link in the comments.

Gifts
Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?
I like giving things that I feel will be appreciated, so I usually do something different every time.
If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making? (Post photos if you have some!)
Well, some recipients might read my blog, so I can’t talk about those things, but I am definitely giving the dinosaur sweater and socks for my sister and some kind of homemade food gifts (probably chocokate sauce and something else).
Do you have any good stories about handcrafted gifts you’ve given or received?
Last year, my aunt gave me a bunch of hand-embroidered cloths that my grandmother had made, which weren’t crafted for me personally, but were a wonderful, special thing to get.
Name one thing on your personal wish list.
A serger.

Traditions
What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
Opening presents on Christmas Eve.
Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?
Having real dinner on Christmas Eve, my mother always wanted to do something fast.
What do you love most about the holiday season?
The smell of greens, the anticipation of Advent, the festive decorations, pretty much everything.
What do you like least about the holiday season?
The fact that I can’t go anywhere near a mall until it’s over, so if there’s anything I needed to buy at the mall I just have to wait. I don’t do crowds.
Anyone close to your heart that you’ll be missing this year?
My grandfather, who passed away this year.
What is your favorite holiday food?
Rice pudding.

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The last of the red hot turkeys

November 28, 2007

When I was grocery shopping yesterday, I noticed something interesting. The supermarkets around me used to have the line that was “10 items or less.” Apparently, the grammar cops came to all the supermarkets, because they have suddenly started using the proper English: “10 items or fewer.”

We finished using our leftover turkey. Here’s how it got used:

Gratin of Penne, Turkey, and Mushrooms (this one uses leftover gravy and leftover swiss cheese if you served cheese and crackers)

Stacked Turkey Enchiladas (if you can’t find chipotle chilis, add some cut up jalapenos from a jar and chili powder or chipotle chili powder to the beans)

Asian Turkey Noodle Soup (I served it with Sriracha sauce — this is a very Vietnamese Pho-like soup. I really want to find a good pho recipe though.)

Lots of sandwiches

Chinese-style turkey omelettes (egg foo yung, which should not be served with brown gravy, despite the American Chinese restaurant’s attempt at proliferating this disgusting trend)

We really saved money by hosting a dinner party at our house– despite some of the more exotic ingredients in our leftovers meals, we still are eating pretty cheaply this week, and believe it or not, turkey pretty much every night is not boring this way.

Now I’ve got to go figure out what my cat did with the sock needle from my knitting.

Sewage

November 27, 2007

I was originally planning this title this weekend when I was working on a sewing project (think pronounced like “sew” and then “age”), but then I saw this article on how people will be basically drinking sewage water in San Diego. Ick ick ick. It is ironically at the same time as I borrowed Animal, Vegetable, Miracle from the library. I’ve only just started reading it, but it chronicles her move from overcrowded Arizona to Appalachia, as well as her move to eat only locally grown food. It just horrifies me that people live in these crowded conditions in areas that aren’t meant to sustain that much life.

Anyway, on sewing… Dammit, Jim, I’m a knitter, not a sewer! It occurred to me this weekend that one of the things I don’t like about sewing is that it is so much like housework. In fact, it is very much like housework, since it involves so much ironing, which is my least favourite form of housework. I actually like the act of sewing, but it’s all the prep-work that I hate. I still do plenty of sewing projects, though, because I want the sewn things… but I guess I just think of it as less of a hobby and more of work.

Or maybe it’s just that I don’t like sewing curtains.

It’s Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas

November 25, 2007

OK, so I fell off the posting-every-day wagon. Whoops. Friday was a lazy day, I had a vacation day and we were going to do something fun but couldn’t come up with something everyone agreed with, so walked down to the centre of town and did a few errands, did some things around the house, that sort of thing, and I looked at the clock and saw it was past midnight and I had forgotten to post a blog entry. So then yesterday I was less inspired, it’s like, what’s the point now? Oh well.

The Boy Scouts were selling holiday wreaths (this is how their troop raises money to keep things going) and yesterday was the day to pick them up. The unheated room in my house where the wreaths are being stored until they are finished being decorated and delivered smells so Christmas-y. It kind of bugs me how everyone jumps on the holiday before it even happens, but there is something fun about the roomful of wreaths and the smell of them. I love the Christmas season, I just hate how it gets so commercialized.

I have officially started getting weird search terms landing on my blog: “how to make a skirt out of old pans”. Now, I have made a skirt out of old army pants before (I never did do photos of that, and I wore it trimming the bunny’s fur and he has this bad habit of biting my pants when I groom him, so the thing is all ratty with bunny-bit holes in it and I wear it around the house in the summer). But old pans? I’d like to see that. The only way I can figure it would work is if you had maybe steel or aluminum pans and you smelted them and then cast them into rings and hooked them together, like chainmail or something. That would make one heck of a metal-working project. I wonder if the person ever did figure out how to make a skirt with old pans. I used to have friend who made chainmail, he would make little rings of wire and hook them together while watching TV… I always thought that was kind of like his version of knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2007

This is a little bit of our autumnal decorations. In the back is a jar of lavender, and we have the nest that a bird built in my shopping bags the other year, and then a leaf dish that B made in school with a bird’s nest that he found with two feathers in it (I think blue jay and gold finch), some gourds, and some bittersweet vines. If you notice, there is a little knitting project in there too. My other two current projects are for other people, so I am working on something for myself too (this is probably enough active projects to be going at once). I get what Cassie says about not have control when it comes to lace.

Today is Thanksgiving here in the States. We fed 11 people today for dinner (including us four); it was supposed to be 12 but my uncle was going to visit and got bronchitis and couldn’t fly. I woke up early so that I could spice our giant turkey and give it time to actually absorb the flavours (I used a little olive oil, herbes de Provence, oregano, herbamare, and pepper, and it was just perfect), and I stuffed it with spiced bread and apples, and the food was done at noon, which was when we were planning to serve it (since some of the guests are diabetic and have to eat on a schedule). I was pretty happy with that, because when you are cooking such a large piece of meat it is really hard to time. The cat kept wondering why he smelled a tasty bird and couldn’t have anything.

Now I am boiling the bones for soup. Usually if I cook a turkey I save the bones to make soup, but forget to do it and then too much time goes by and I have to throw it out. And we are able to be lazy and relax, so it was a successful day, I think.

As American As Apple Pie

November 21, 2007

How on earth did apple pie get associated with America? If I hadn’t had such a long day, I would try and google and figure it out. We had a crisis at work so I thought I would have a nice normal day, and instead I worked late and had to come home and make rolls and pies for tomorrow. I was going to make mince tarts as well, but I found out at the last minute I was off the hook with that.

Apple Pie

Crust:
2 cups flour
pinch salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (if you can’t get it you can use butter, but it doesn’t come out as nice)
1/2 cup ice water

Mix flour and salt. Cut butter into pieces and mix it and shortening in with a pastry blender or two knives, until the dough is like small crumbs. Sprinkle in and stir in the water until it is all mixed together. Make 2 flattened balls and refrigerate wrapped in parchment paper for at least an hour. Works great to make the night before and just wrap them well so they don’t lose moisture in foil or plastic wrap. Roll dough out, one piece should be slightly larger to go in the bottom of the pie pan, and a smaller circle for on top.

Filling:
6-8 apples (less sweet ones are best)
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (I like to use a litle brown sugar and a little white sugar, like half of each, but you can use either)
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (depending on taste)
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves
lemon juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon butter

Mix apples, sugar, spices, and lemon juice (I used half a lemon for two pies). Stir together, and put into pie crust. Cut butter into small pieces and dot the top with it. Place the top crust on, press edges to seal, and prick holes in the top to let the steam out. Bake at 450F/230C for 10 minutes, then at 350F/175C for 35-45 minutes, until the filling is start to bubble and the crust starts to brown.

Snjór

November 20, 2007

We had our first snow this morning. My wool jacket was at the cleaner’s, so I had to borrow a fleece jacket from the kids. I guess there are advantages to being not very big. It was just enough snow to be pretty, but not enough to cause any hassle– just perfect.

Jenna was talking about having a section on her blog on notes-to-self (knitting related). I think it’s a pretty good idea, although my note-to-self isn’t knitting related. Don’t buy cranberries at BJ’s. This was the first time I have ever bought cranberries that had bad, mushy ones in there. Or maybe it’s just don’t buy industrial-sized packages of cranberries, in general.

Cook and clean and cook and cook

November 19, 2007

There was an article today about how women who make more money do less housework. Hmm. I always thought I was pretty well paid for a woman, but I do plenty of housework (well except when we let things pile up). We cleaned all weekend and I feel like I’ve been just cooking like crazy (and more to come since we are having people over on Thursday for Thanksgiving). I thought maybe it was because we women with professional jobs are too busy. But I guess the article just said well-paid women hire help and buy pre-made food. Yuck. I do think that women with good jobs tend to have husbands without sexist attitudes, because if one makes more than one’s husband and he has a sexist attitude, he’ll feel totally emasculated. My confident-in-his-manliness husband cleaned the cabinets tonight, for which I am VERY thankful.

Among the cooking I did was making the blue cheese potato soup here, which I recommend, it was really great. I used cauliflower (blómkál) instead of broccoli, which I think was probably even better than it would have been.

Any guesses what I am working on?

Plastic Passion

November 18, 2007

I don’t have much to say today since we spent the weekend cleaning but I came upon this interesting site which talks about all the scary chemicals in our bodies from plastics and other things (like the Chinese manufactured lead-containing toys). I keep hearing about this from other sources and it’s really starting to freak me out. We’ve already started throwing out a lot of our plastic containers and replacing them with glass. I really like the ease of Tupperware, but the Tupperware containers that I like best are the ones containing that nasty Bisphenol A so no thanks. I haven’t thrown out perfectly good containers, but as containers get moldy or broken, they don’t get replaced with more plastic. We bought some great glass cannisters for storing flour and sugar and so on, and we use glass canning jars to store things like nuts, raisins, and oats. I even bought glass bowls with plastic lids (so the glass is still what’s touching your food) for storing in the fridge or bringing to work. And frankly, they look cooler anyway.

In China They Eat Dogs

November 18, 2007

No, they don’t, but it’s the name of the movie we watched tonight. It is now available on Netflix; I’d seen the sequel but we had almost bought this one because there was nowhere to rent it. It’s a gangster comedy, for want of a better genre.

Speaking of China, I got linked to (and quoted by, is that creepy? Or is it just the way the Internet goes) by this site nomoremadeinchina.com. It looks like an interesting place to look for information on Chinese product recalls and buying American-made products. When we were shopping today we came upon all this designer clothing made in Bangladesh and China and so on, and it’s kind of pathetic and sad to us that these hoity-toity designers can’t be bothered to use their power to ensure that their products be made in the US. Denmark gets by purchasing Danish-manufactured goods, it’s sad that US companies just want to put making more money ahead of social responsibility.

(And once again, it’s only Saturday the 17th in EDT.)