backgammon for boardgamers

Hope ya'll had a great holiday! Now that the presents have been opened, I can show you what we gave my brother and his wifey...

I knit them a backgammon board. I think it's pretty cool that the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Romans, and Iranians all played a game similar to the modern backgammon. Like Go and Mancala, it's a simple game with enough strategy to keep you playing.

And it's a short enough game that you can afford to challenge "best two outta three!" if you happen to lose the first round. :)

the details --
* pattern in Weekend Knitting - uses intarsia
* yarn is Cotton-Ease, an aran weight cotton/acrylic blend
* container holding the pieces is a spice tin I covered with yarn


mint snow-top cookies redux

Merry Christmas!

I hope you enjoy the holiday festivities, taking time to stop and smell the tree.

I'll be back after Christmas with some spoiler photos of my handmade gifts. In the meantime, if you find you need a bit more sugar in your system, allow me to recommend the chocolate mint snow-top cookies.


colourful quant

With the focus on sewing these days, all knitting projects have been at a standstill. That is until I got this beautiful wool from my friend in the mail (belated birthday packages filled with all sorts of goodies are one of life's most awesome surprises.) I promptly dusted off my needles and cast on something new...

The pattern is Quant, from Knitty's winter 07 edition. I love the way it is turning out, but I'm not gonna lie -- the entralac technique involves continuous counting, which is my least favourite part about knitting.

Just several more inches (and a few more hours) to go and I'll have a complete headscarf!



I spent this last weekend almost entirely inside, and I can't even blame the weather. Both Jeff and I ventured out into the world once, on Saturday night, for a long walk. Although perhaps a bit more exercise is necessary to remain happy and healthy, every once in a while a couple of cozy days don't hurt.

However, I was not a complete sloth. I made things. And since I can't show any holiday-related wares just yet, I'll round up a few little sewing projects destined to stay right here at home. Inside, all the time.

1) This is, as my dad would say, no silk purse. It is, in fact, a laundry bag.

I tried to wing it, to make a simple drawstring bag out of an old corduroy curtain without any instructions. Well, let's pretend that all seams are straight (oops!) and that I didn't not think through how the drawstring would go all the way around the top (Um, yeah).

But after a bit of fixing, I have a snazzy red bag to cart our dirties down to the washers. (And it'll make a great Santa Bag for packing presents over to the in-laws.)

2) I swear our apartment building is responsible for wasting a ton of energy -- the balcony doors are all still original to the 1960s and any insulating material has long-since worn off. Since I can't seal our balcony door shut with caulking, I made a draft snake.

The pattern is from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. It's kind of cute... for a snake.

3) And lastly, a runner to cover up our hideous metal filing cabinet disguised as an end table. It definitely needed some beautification action. Enter: plain little runner made of old duvet.

An improvement, no?


chock-full granola bars

I love granola bars, but most of the ones you can buy in the store are just too darn sweet.

Enter homemade granola bars -- as sweet, crunchy, healthy, and chocolaty as you want 'em.

granola bars
makes 9x13 pan

2 C rice krispies
2 C quick rolled oats
2/3 C dried fruit -- a mix of raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, golden raisins, etc
1/2 C roughly chopped nuts -- try a mix of peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
2/3 C peanut butter
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 C milk chocolate chips

Combine rice krispies, oats, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and syrup to a boil over med-high heat. Stir frequently so the sugars don't burn. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until blended.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture. Stir until coated. (I tend to use my hands at this point to blend everything together well.) Let stand a few minutes to cool, then add chocolate chips. Press into 9x13 pan. Once completely cool, cut into bars.

This year, my Santa is getting a granola bar with milk.


let the patchwork begin

I'm in love with patchwork. It's such a great way to make use of awesome fabric -- one little bit at a time.

I gussied up a couple of plain ol' kitchen towels with the help of this easy tutorial -- thanks SupaFine!

One of these towels will be packaged with some Canadian maple syrup for Jeff's grandparents this Christmas. They love calling attention to the fact that he's living in Canada -- peppering their speech with ehs and abooots. So in good fun, we're gifting them something actually Canadian.

Ready for some close-ups...


soup n' salsa

You know how sometimes you try a new recipe, even though you aren't sure how good all the ingredients will be together? I'm not talking about if a recipe calls for beets, hazelnuts, and goat cheese, 'cause you know that will be good. No, I'm talking about when you can't really taste how it's going to turn out, but you make it anyway.

Well I was pleasantly surprised -- no, downright shocked -- at how well the ingredients in this soup and salsa recipe came together. The beans, the hint of pepper, the basil, the creamy feta, the texture of the orzo, the lemon -- oh the lemon adds a very special something, so make sure to use a fresh lemon and not the bottled stuff -- I will definitely be making this again.

white bean soup with salsa
(modified from this Real Simple recipe)
serves 3-4

1/2 C orzo
1/2 red onion, diced
1 ripe & tasty tomato, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
5-8 leaves fresh basil, julienned
1/8 - 1/4 C feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teas dried red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can white (navy) beans, rinsed
2 C low sodium chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon (a few tablespoons)

In a small bowl, combine tomato, red pepper, basil, feta, a dash of vinegar, and a dash of olive oil. Toss to coat well and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute red onion for a couple minutes, then add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is quite soft. Add beans, 1 3/4 C of the broth, and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute before ladling hot soup into a blender or food processor. Pulse until a chunky puree.

Return to pot and add last 1/2 C broth. Return to heat and bring to a simmer. Finally, stir in orzo and season with pepper, and salt if necessary. Ladle into serving bowls and divide salsa among the bowls, spooning it on the top.


non-cheesy free knitting patterns

Before we all start twiddling our thumbs (since the 30 days of sewing ideas are over), we must head on over to Garnstudio and cast on some yarn -- we now have 24 days of great knitting patterns! (Thanks for the heads up, Glenda!) I'm loving the wrist warmers and will be finding some suitable yarn asap.

And because I'm now a member of Ravelry (yay!), I can put these little warmers in "my queue." Since Organization and I are long-time friends, I think Ravelry and I will get along fine.


book totes for the kiddies

For xmas this year, two special kiddos in my life are getting a Robert Munsch book (the author of one of my absolute favourite children's books, The Paper Bag Princess), and a little tote bag.

The totes were so much fun to make! I didn't use a pattern -- obvious by the lack of fancy techniques and tricks -- but I think they turned out pretty cute.

I guess if I ever advance to sewing for adults, I'll have to let loose my inner perfectionist. But for now, I'm enjoying learning by doing, and being content with the results.
The x makes it look almost pro, don't you think?!

I love Marimekko fabric


holiday postage

Before too long, I'll be sending these off with love & cheer.

- one of my favourites -

- and one based on this gift tag tutorial by A Little Hut -

If you aren't up for making your own cards,
check out these, these, and these.