Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Finish of the Year

Well, I did it.

I finished the OnlyChild`s 2011 ornament...on Christmas Eve, as usual (despite my early start this year).

I know there are still a few days left in the year, but I won`t be here to start or finish any more projects because tomorrow morning, the OnlyChild and I are headed to PARIS!

It`s just a short trip (5 days total) and it was completely free, except for the spending money. How? The tour company with which I booked our school trip to Italy in the Spring offers "training tours" for tour leaders. As a bonus (because I have a rather large group), I was able to bring someone along with me. Normally, this would be a spouse or another trip chaperone, but Mr. P doesn't like to travel (I know...weird!) and the other chaperones all have family obligations over Christmas and New Year's, so I'm taking the OnlyChild.

We are going to have a great time! And I will take lots of pictures to share with you...because I got a new camera for Christmas this year!

I've been playing around with it a little...

Big head AbbyDog

Sock Monkey Peejay made for the OnlyChild by my Mum

 The table set for Christmas dinner (colour select option on the camera)
I've emailed myself a copy of the camera manual in PDF, which I will download onto my iPad...just in case I want to read up on the camera features. Wow - technology.

By the way, my new camera's name is Rosie. She's a Nikon (much to the OnlyChild's horror - she's a Canon girl) CoolPix S8200. She's red and very cute, not that "cute" should be the primary feature of a camera. I can't wait to learn more about how to use her...and I can't think of a better place to experiment with photos than Paris!

See you all in a few days.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas greetings

Christmas pudding made from recipe by Thimbleanna. Clean sheets on the bed with new Christmas pillowcases (won in the Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway from Crystal). Presents wrapped and under the tree. Meat pie thawing for Christmas Eve dinner. All I need to do now is help Santa out a bit by wrapping some stocking gifts.

With the holiday upon us, I'd like to wish each and every one of you

All the best from my sewing room to yours! xo

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas craziness

It's been a bit crazy around here this week and I am so very glad that today is Friday...and the last day of school before Christmas break. The assignments and tests are coming in fast and furious, so I have lots of marking to do and haven't had a moment's peace at work. It's been the same at home.

Our tree is up and decorated, but there are very few presents underneath since I just haven't had a chance to wrap them.

See that yellow and black box next to the tree? Funny story about that...it's a tool box, a gift for Mr. P. I went out shopping Tuesday after work to look for this. I found exactly what I wanted for a good price, wrestled it into the shopping cart and took it to the till. The cashier asked me if I wanted some help loading it and, after a bit of humming and hawing, I agreed. Well...I drive a car. A small car. The Home Depot employee and I tried every which way to get this box into my car - Trunk? Too small. Back seat? Front seat would go far enough ahead. Front seat? Sure, but I drive a standard and the gear shift was blocked by the box.

In the end, I had to phone Mr. P and get him to rescue me (and his present) with the truck. So much for Christmas surprises! He's promised not to look at the picture on the box until Christmas day haha.

Here's a new addition to our Christmas ornament collection, bought while the OnlyChild and I were in San Antonio last summer:

I picked up a little treat for myself a few weeks ago - a Rupert the Bear advent calendar! It reminds me of Christmases past, when I was a little girl in England. I've enjoyed opening up the little doors to find the sticker each day.

Today, I'm having a little party for my students. My group wanted to do a Secret Santa gift exchange so I said I'd bring the treats. I made sugar cookies with glossy, blue icing:

And some fancy cupcakes:

Oh, that "cracked ice" on top was such a headache. It's easy when you know how, I guess, but it took me FOUR batches to get it right.

The first two batches wouldn't set because I didn't cook it long enough. What do I know? I've never made it before. The recipe is from Martha Stewart Living magazine and can be found here; it's actually a Halloween recipe, but I thought the "broken glass" would work as ice too. The instructions were so vague that I was pretty near ripping out my hair. When I went to bed at 11:15 last night, I had two pans of the sugar/water mixture sitting on the counter and I just knew neither was going to harden.

I couldn't stop thinking about it and I woke up at 2:15 this morning still thinking about it and wondering if I should google the recipe to see what others had to say.
By 3:30, I still wasn't asleep so I got up and did just that. I found out that this stuff has to cook like caramel - so for 20-30 minutes. I tried batch #3 but cooked it too long and it turned yellow.

With the last cup of sugar in the house (including that pilfered from the sugar bowl), I embarked on my last chance...and finally, it worked!

Cracked ice!

I hope my students appreciate this!
I am going to be one tired, sorry little creature by the end of the day. I will bring home my humongous bag of marking, take it straight upstairs, and bury it somewhere out of sight. It will not be uncovered until after the OnlyChild and I return from Paris. I have decided to actually enjoy the holidays and not worry about work! Yes, I'm giving myself permission to power down and cut back on the craziness.
Well, I mean after I make Thimbleanna's Cranberry Christmas Pudding tonight.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sock Monkey Shirts!

What a busy weekend!

Yesterday: Cleaned, made homemade hot chocolate mix (for gifts), wrapped presents, made fancy dessert for company, cooked fancy dinner, went to bed at 1:00 am.

Today: Awake at 4:00 am (ugh!), up by 6:30 am, baked banana muffins, made more Nutella Caramel Corn, made pastry, baked meat pies and mincemeat tarts.

And also today...Sock Monkey Shirts!

 Tutorial here .

I made both of these while chatting with the OnlyChild and helping her pick out fabric for a baby quilt she wants to make (will I end up making it, I wonder?) Such an easy little pattern...now I want to appliqué sock monkeys on everything.

Back to work tomorrow. If life was fair, I'd already be on Christmas vacation...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Button Book - FNSI results

With all the excitement of the giveaway and the return of the OnlyChild, I forgot to blog about this week's Friday Night Sew-In. Heidi and Bobbi decided to host TWO in December to help us get all those projects done.

There's a bit of a backstory to my first finish. A couple of months ago, you may recall, I attended a conference in Canmore with my whole staff. While I was there, I saw these awesome boots in a shoe store:

I was chatting with one of my colleagues, Sue, in the shoe shop about how much I loved the buttons on these boots. The next week, when we were back at work, she brought me this book:

She said she had bought it a while back as a gift for someone but it had never made it to the intended recipient. So she gave it to me!
It has wonderful stories and sayings about buttons along with pictures of some of the most beautiful buttons I have ever seen. This was my favourite (of course):

As a little (belated) thank you, I made Sue a Button Tree:

It is 6 3/4" x 8 1/2" - a little fabric card or tiny wall hanging. I hope she likes it.
I've also made some progress on the OnlyChild's Christmas ornament. I didn't have any time to work on it since last weekend so now I'm finding myself pressed for time to get it finished. Well, I have a week, but I know it's going to be a busy few days at work until we finish for the Christmas break.

The OnlyChild got home last night around 9:30 pm. She is so happy to be sleeping in her own bed with AbbyDog snuggled up beside her!
We're making our preparations for Paris in 10 days. She is so excited!

And so am I.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

The Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway is now over.

Thank you to all who visited and entered the giveaway. I even got a few more followers, although that wasn't a requirement to win.

I picked a number using a random number service and the winner of the Santa tea towel (and some extra goodies) is...

Comment #60 Sallie of Sallie's Sampler whose favourite handmade gift was a quilt she made for her son.

I have sent you an email, Sallie. Congratulations!

Now back to regularly scheduled programming, which means marking, sewing and the baking of Christmas treats.

I got my sock monkey socks in the mail yesterday. All is right with the world.

And...the OnlyChild comes home tonight for three whole weeks! Hurray!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day

Today's the day!
It's the Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day.

Here's what I'm offering on my humble blog:

A handmade Santa tea towel. 
I might throw in a few extra goodies for the winner.

If you'd like to make this yours, all you have to do is leave a comment answering the following question:
What was your favourite handmade Christmas gift ever (either given or received)?

Winner will be chosen using a random number draw on Friday, December 16 @ 5 pm PST. Please make sure I have a way to contact you (if you're a no-reply blogger, leave your email).

For move giveaways, head over to Sew, Mama, Sew! and check out the links.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

FNSI and Nutella

A wonderful combination, don't you think?

I begged off my staff Christmas party so I could stay home and relax. And by "relax", I mean make stuff.

First up, Nutella Caramel Popcorn. Oh my goodness. I got the recipe from the Vittles and Bits blog.

I assembled the ingredients

Followed the recipe

And ended up with a huge batch of this wonderful, sweet, crunchy delight. Most of it is gone by now. Okay, don't be too judgmental. Mr. P did take a tin of it to his boss's open house this afternoon, but yes, I had it for both breakfast and lunch today. This is the "test batch" after all.


Mine isn't a chocolatey as the picture on Vittles and Bits, but it was darn good anyway. I may have popped a bit too much popcorn. Or maybe it just needs more Nutella. More!

And for Friday Night Sew-In last night, I worked on the OnlyChild's 2011 cross-stitched Christmas ornament. For once I'm getting a head start and (probably) won't be rushing to finish it the morning of Christmas Eve.

This will commemorate our little trip to Paris after Christmas. Don't be jealous - it's a "training tour" for my upcoming Italy trip with 33 students and I just happened to have enough travel points to take along the OnlyChild. Needless to say, she's thrilled! Me too! New Year's Eve in the City of Lights!
Don't look too closely at my cross-stitch above. I made a mistake adjusted the pattern a bit. I'm not quite sure if I will add all the embellishment - the words and border. Definitely there will be a date, but I don't want this tree ornament to be humongous and awkward looking so I'll probably make it smaller than the original pattern (which I found at Blackbird Designs, by the way).
I spent this morning and into the afternoon writing the FINAL paper for my master's course. And since this is the last course I need to take, it was also the final paper for the entire degree. Barring any catastrophes (e.g. I miscalculated or the university reneges on their agreement to accept the course I took at another university), I have officially finished my M.Ed! I won't get the actual diploma until convocation in May, but the relief I feel right now is...amazing.

I think I'll spend the rest of the day celebrating. And by "celebrating", I mean making stuff.

P.S. don't forget to come back on Monday for Sew Mama Sew! giveaway day.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Not Machine Washable

Another one of my brainwaves...wash my ironing board cover. It was looking a bit dingy and, since I take a lot of photos of projects on top of the ironing board, I figured it needed some sprucing up.

The tag said, "Not Machine Washable".

Ha! I laugh in the face of washing instructions. I put it in the machine anyway and out it came, looking like this:

And there is NO way it's going to fit back on the ironing board. 
It's not like I iron clothes on it or anything - although Mr. P irons a shirt for work every night - but I had plans to join in the Friday Night Sew-in tomorrow night and, without the use of an ironing board, I won't be able to.

I guess it's off to Superstore for me. Maybe they'll have a cover in a nice, pretty yellow to match my sewing room.

What are you going to work on for FNSI?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Projects of Christmas Past

Last year, right before Christmas, I made a few tea towels

but there was one I didn't finish. So, last night I completed the appliqué and it's ready to be a gift for someone.

Last year, around Christmas, I also started some green, red and white string blocks. I got a stack made then put them away and didn't take them out again

until last night. I only got two made, but now I remember why I started the project in the first place. Fun!

Last year, maybe after Christmas, I did a cute little stitchery from a picture I found on this blog. I wish I could show it to you, but I can't find any pictures of it - none in my files and none on my blog posts. I also can't find the stitchery itself so I'm beginning to wonder if I imagined it. Nah. Couldn't be.

I planned to make it into a Santa Sack for my mother's stocking presents. Sigh. Since I couldn't find that project to work on tonight (after I finished my marking, of course), I started something else. I can only show you a little peek right now.

I got to use my ruffler foot - and you know how much I love that ruffler foot! I wish I could spend all my extra time at the sewing machine.

In case I don't get back on here in the next couple of days (the marking is starting to pile up again - crazy stacks everywhere - and I have an "engagement" or two to attend), I wanted to let you know that I will be participating in the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day.

Come back here on December 12 and see what's happening!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Christmas Aprons!

I love this pattern from Sew4Home. It was very well-written and easy to follow. The aprons were quick to sew and so cute!

I did change a couple of things - I made the aprons fully reversible by sewing a contrasting band to both sides, as well as a pocket and towel loop. I also omitted the buttons (I know, hard to believe given my fascination with buttons).

Here are my results:

The first one is a gift for my friend Patt; the second may just make its home with me.
I think I'll be making some more of these in non-Christmas fabrics!