Archive for December, 2007

Merry Christmas!

December 26, 2007

Belated Merry Christmas to everyone! Sorry for the belated greetings, and sorry for not visiting everyone’s blogs. I’ve been crazy busy cleaning the house, cooking for Christmas Eve, preparing various food gifts (pepperkåkor, limoncello, and apple butter). And thank goodness we do our Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, because I woke up Christmas morning vomiting. I spent yesterday sleeping and watching a movie, and today I was still kind of feverish so I tried to get work done and rested.

Við ætlum að fara til Íslands á morgun… við hlökkum öll til. Ætlum að koma til baka eftir bara fimm daga. 😦


Taking the T out of Christmas

December 21, 2007

I saw a sign yesterday that said “Canadian Balsam Chris Mas Trees”. Who is Chris, and why does he have trees? I’ve heard people complain about Christ being missing from Christmas but that’s really excessive. Where’s Letterman when you need him?

To remind us of Christmas, I will share my Advent wreath. I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone’s much more creative ones on their blogs.

I can’t believe that it’s almost Christmas. We went to see the Nutcracker last night, but I was waiting in the cold for a bus back from work for an hour (roads were closed because of ice on a tall building which screwed up all the traffic in town today.)

Hartford was honoured by having the Simpsons movie promoted there. Which is rather odd, because Hartford is kind of a boring, conservative city, and not really a Simpsons fan kind of a place. One of my coworkers said he saw a donut floating through the sky. “Dude, you really need to eat something, ” I said, and then another coworker came back from buying cocoa later to say that there were donut balloons tied to the parking meters, advertising the Simpsons movie on DVD. Weird. Maybe the promotion was a day early by mistake, since Hannah Montana was in town the following day. (Note that Hartford hurried up to clean up the almost week-old snow for Hannah Montana. Priorities.)

We had our knitting group holiday party Wednesday. We each bring a gift and do a “yankee swap” (each person has a number and they get to pick a gift in order of the number they have, or steal someone else’s). It was totally cutthroat. Jenna and Corine and I made a swap-pact after their prized gifts were stolen, since I was last, and I got a copy of Knitting Nature out of the deal. Yay! I have so been wanting that book.

And here is the mysterious black and white project:

I found my needle

December 17, 2007

I lost one of the needles from the black-and-white project that I posted a teaser of the other day. (When I have time and it’s light out, I will post another picture). I ended up just buying a new set of needles that were slightly larger which were better anyway. Anyway, I was adjusting the cushions on the sofa today and found this sticking out of one.

Bent needle

We’ve seen some great movies lately. This weekend while we were having a nasty “wintry mix” storm we went to the theatre to see No Country for Old Men. Insane movie. Kind of bloody (like I had to look away icky) but a really intense movie. It’s been getting a lot of acclaim and it’s the Coen brothers but I really went because Ingi wanted to see it. But it was a lot better than I even expected.

On the other side of the spectrum, my local library just got in Cool and Crazy (Heftig og begeistret), which is a documentary about a men’s choir in Berlevåg, Norway. It was a really fun documentary, and I think Ingi put it best when it’s more of a commentary on humanity than anything else. (Plus, in the movie they show a guy peeling potatoes before boiling them so now he knows I am not the only person in the world that does this!! ;))

We also continued our dogme movie-watching trend (thanks to his bandmate who loaned us all these movies) and saw Italiensk for begyndere, which is really a cute movie.

So here I’ve been having Christmas stress (cookie baking and seaming sweaters and shopping and all), and watching movies and knitting and working and that’s about it.

Cookbook Review

December 13, 2007

We worked on our Christmas cards this weekend, and it was very sad that three people on our list have died in the last year. But here’s our wreath (pinecones from our yard), and I’m listening to a very crackly copy of Elvis’s Christmas album on vinyl (somehow more authentic?) which we got for something like 50 cents in the cheap records section of one of our semi-local record stores.

I’ve been taking a lot of cookbooks out of the library, which is a great way to evaluate ones that I am interested in, so I thought I would do a few reviews. I’m especially interested in regional seasonal eating after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so a few deal with that.

Simply In Season – this book is divided into a section for each season, as well as a section for all year. So far we made two things from the Autumn section: brocolli and cheddar gratin (yum!) and sweet and sour Swiss chard (also yum, made with dried fruit and Swiss chard). It seems like a great resource if you have a garden or a CSA membership (I remember when I had a farm share I was trying to come up with yet another recipe for Butternut squash). The recipes are relatively simple and basic, but it’s a good place to get ideas for seasonally appropriate meals. And some sound really great. I am definitely getting this cookbook.

Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stores From Vermont – this is more of a traditional cookbook layout, with sections for types of food. It does have some seasonal-type meals but they aren’t labelled as such. There seem like a lot of good recipes, but we tried one tonight and it was really not much of a success: Lamb shanks with wheat berries and parsnips. We had never had lamb shanks before (lambaskankar) and they really weren’t that an appealing cut of meat. Too fatty. And the food was just kind of boring. Oh well. The cookbook may still be good, I’ll have to try other recipes from the book.

Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book – one can never have too many bread books (or at least me). This one is good because unlike the artisan bread books I already own, this one has a range of recipes, including the complicated-multple-day recipes, and quick, basic bread recipes. I made some wheat buns the other day which came out pretty well.

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers – This book is worth buying just for the baguette recipe. Seriously. It’s that good. Everything else is sourdough, and my last starter was a failure, so I have to start a new one so I can try some more recipes before the book has to go back to the library.

Belgian King Eats Donuts

December 9, 2007

The other day on the way home on the bus, I found a game that was as good as Telephone, and that is “try to read the headlines on the newspaper from the person sitting 5 rows ahead of you.” I still have no idea what the headline really was supposed to be, but the title is what I saw. It’s an especially fun game when one is nearsighted.

I finished K’s curtains last week:

This is what happens when you let a 14 year old decide the colours of her room…grey with red trim. We took the masking tape with the red paint on it from painting the windows to the $1.99/yard fabric store for her to pick out something she liked and that went with the room, and this fabric was just perfect.

Then we had her birthday party yesterday. She always asks for marble cake, and I never have a really good recipe, so I keep trying to find a better one every year. Friday night I tried one recipe and the cake came out too flat. Then I tried a recipe in a round cake pan, and the cake came out so tall that by the time it was cooked through, the outside was hard as a rock. Finally, I made this recipe for marmarakaka, which is from Wikipedia books of all places. The key was to make it in a tube pan, which I should have done anyway.

Wikibooks is pretty neat, I just discovered it this week. There is a section on plant dyeing here.

Crafty Recycled Holidays

December 4, 2007

I have some fun craft things to show, but I have not been able to get photos in daylight, so I’ll talk about some of the sewing blogs I’ve been reading instead.

Notes from the Cocktail Moms has a good article on reusing/recycling wrapping paper. (If you go to the main part of the site, there is a great post on sage pumpkin pasta sauce too. Maybe I will have to try that next week.)

Sew Green has a good post today on knitted/sewn toys. It really strikes a nerve with me, since we were gift shopping this weekend for nieces and nephews and it was almost impossible to find gifts that were not made in China. The middle nephews are getting books, the baby is getting the sweater and a truck that is made in Germany, since he is bound to put things in his mouth. The girls are getting things made in China, sadly, but they are old enough to not be eating their gifts.

And Sew, Mama, Sew has an entire month of ideas (November) of gifts to make, just in case anyone needs any ideas.

My creative brain cells are going, although it doesn’t much help because I’m too busy to do everything that’s in my head. For example, this year I won’t be making making my own wrapping paper and I certainly won’t be making my own wrapping paper out of old jeans. (However, I will be saving scraps of old jeans for next year, and trolling freecylce for discarded window screens if I can find a container that would hold them).

I do think I might make myself a dress to wear for a Christmas party (too ambitious? Maybe) and I think I plan on taking a class early next year on making my own jeans, and I will be trying out making my own bras (I bought a kit a while back and after seeing the high prices for lingerie made in third world countries, I think it’s time I tried it finally).