get it? block bag

I made a simple drawstring bag for the blocks we got for the babe's birthday. I had what I thought was the perfect fabric on hand...

And some little hot wheels will be making their home in this bag (truck definitely not to scale)

I'm not sure I have a fabric for every toy, but I sure like it when it works out.


mrs claus never gets coal

I needed one more stocking to round out our set of three. Here's the one I made last year, and here's the one I made from a hideous sweater at the thrift store. It was just begging to be made into something new...

This one's for me. Doesn't it look like a stocking that Santa would fill for his wifey? Just call me Mrs. Claus.

But now I think the striped one from last year is kind of a weak link in our set, so I've decided it'll just be Jeff's interim stocking until I find the time to make another one. For sure before next Christmas, okay hon?

How could it possibly take a person three years to finish a set of three stockings when one is already store-bought? Ah, but a clue!



You don't have to look far in blogland before finding some pretty darn cool handmade ornaments. I especially like this felt bird and this cool felt ogee number. Oh gee, I wish I had some felt.


on the list

Between hitting the nog, I want to to make this chili and its scrumptious-looking biscuits. Who thought to put the biscuits on the chili? Genius.

And while I'm wishing I had more time...

how about this darling quilt? think of the advent calendar possibilities
these little fortunes for New Years Eve
honk if you love cardamom and pulla as much as I do
keep meaning to make my own yogurt -- 2011 will be the year
wish I still had photoshop, I'd be making calendars with this cute template
my hot chocolate needs a gingerbread house its own size


make a four, make a knot

Will you be my friend? What if I sweeten the deal with a strip of candy?

I re-learned how to make these from YouTube, and my hands remembered the movements just as soon as I started. Oh man, I made a ton of these back in the day. This one is for a sweet young thing in Michigan -- shhhhhhh.


the moon looks like a shortbread cookie

I'll be up late. I'm making the crowd-pleasing lemon shortbread cookies for tomorrow's party.

I made them before with poppy seeds, but this time I had to forgo the little guys. Did you know poppy seeds go rancid? A quick google search informs me that poppy seeds, in fact, go bad very quickly. Oh well.

I mean, I'll miss their aesthetic appeal, but who can taste a poppy seed anyway?


roasted eggplant pasta

This recipe requires just a bit of planning ahead -- you need to roast the whole eggplant for an hour before getting the rest of dinner underway. But your efforts pay off with an eggplant that's buttery sweet and a great foundation for your pasta.

roasted eggplant pasta
serves 4

1 large Italian eggplant
olive oil
1/4 onion, finely minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teas dried red pepper flakes
1 can/jar tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (reserve a bit of the liquid)
herbs and spices: oregano, basil, parsley, dried or fresh, your choice
fresh parmesan cheese
cayenne pepper
dried pasta for 4

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash eggplant and prick with a fork in several places. Place whole on parchement-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until skin darkens and caves to the touch (so you know the insides are mushy.) Remove from oven and let cool just a bit. To prepare for cooking, cut off the top and roughly chop the body into 1-2" pieces.

In saucepan over medium heat, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds more. Add prepared eggplant and drained tomatoes. Season with salt, stir in any dried herbs, and bring to a simmer. You may want to add a little of the drained tomato liquid for desired consistency. At the end of cooking, before serving, stir through fresh chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, prepare pasta al dente and drain. Combine pasta and sauce and divide among serving dishes. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper.


up do

No crafts or holiday baking for you today. Today we talk hair. Specifically, ponytails.

Ponytails are the only 'do' I do these days. When I stumbled upon these simple tips on how to keep a ponytail from looking like you just got out of the shower and pulled it back (when in fact that's just what I did), I felt like the cosmos had given me a little nudge.

Thanks, cosmos.



Anyone who was reading this blog last year (thank you, so glad you're here!), knows I like advent calendars.

I don't have the one of my dreams yet, but that's mainly because my dreams keep changing. Each year, I'm swayed by other beautiful options like these, and well, I just plain can't decide.

But for someone who loves advent calendars to not have any... well, that seems a bit strange to me too. So now we have a calendar to tide us over until the next -- a wee box calendar from a kit found at the art store and bits of paper I had on hand.

Now I can relax, grab a cup of tea, and continue to hem and haw over my creative options.


cabled fingerless gloves 3.0

Another pair of fetchings (love this pattern -- made twice before)...

...and a stoic little sheep. I cut her out of from hunk of rubber like so, and she'll be tagging along with all my woolen gifts this year. Baaa.


ready for my cameo

I thought these silhouettes were so cute, I'm using the good gift idea for the great-grands this year.


ginger beef

Dinner last night was Elise's stir fry ginger beef. I was delighted by how the cumin and honey in the marinade made it through to flavour the final dish. Highly recommended!


green birthday dress

It's time to party. The babe is turning one next week -- and I finished her birthday dress!

As I mentioned before, it's been a bit of a slow slog of stockinette for this one. It was my first larger-than-a-sock-size project with skinny sock yarn. Beautiful results, but no doubt about it, a labour of love.

So I'm glad she'll get more than one season's use of out of it -- this year a dress, next year a sweater, and possibly a third year of a skin-tight tank top. And perhaps I'll make her drag it to school with her too.

The pattern -- the little sister's dress (free on ravelry) -- is super easy and kind of star-trekkish to me. The Zarina yarn is a super soft, rich, vibrant merino.

I love, love the result. Hopefully she does too since she'll be wearing it for a while.


baked eggs

It was a good morning. We all slept until 8am. That's 8 o'clock, people! Pretty darn great considering we have a babe in the next room that usually wakes us up by 6:30am. We were so happy, we made baked eggs.

(Oh how I wish I had natural light in my kitchen!)

This recipe calls for a few different herbs, but feel free to use what fresh herbs you have on hand. I tend to make this in the summertime when I have a variety of herbs growing, but it's equally good in the winter when I may only have one herb at the ready.

This morning I used fresh parsley and a pinch of dried thyme, but I've also made it with dill and parsley, and it's really good with just tarragon. (But we already knew that eggs and tarragon go really well together.)

baked eggs
inspired by Ina Garten's herbed baked eggs - Barefoot in Paris
serves 4

1/2 teas minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teas minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbs minced fresh parsley
2 Tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 large eggs
1/4 c cream or milk (not skim though, fat content is important)
2 Tbs unsalted butter
salt and pepper
toasted french bread, brioche, or just plain whole wheat

Preheat broiler for about 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6-10" below the element.

Combine the fresh herbs and cheese. Set aside. Carefully crack 2 eggs into each of 4 small bowls. (You won't be baking in these -- you just need to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Put four individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet and put 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish. Place under the broiler for just a few minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Quickly and carefully, pour 2 eggs into each gratin dish and then sprinkle evenly with the herb-cheese mixture. Season each with salt and pepper and then place back under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are just cooked. Remove from oven and allow to set for another minute or two. The eggs will continue to cook but the yolks will stay nice n' runny for dipping your toast.


on the go

There isn't near enough knitting on this blog lately.

For this space to be representative of what I spend my free moments doing, there needs to be more wool and yarn and needles, because let me tell you, I've been knitting.

There's a plum pullover that'll be the first sweater I've ever made for myself,

there's a darling little green dress that's taking forever (skinny sock yarn!) but hopefully the babe will fit it by Christmas,

and I've managed to finish a couple of toques. One fits, one didn't.

That's not all, but the rest are either gifts or I haven't taken photos of them yet. All in good time. But at least now you know where I am -- on the couch, knitting.


it's november

I've been eagerly waiting these 30 days of sewing & gifting inspiration over at Sew Mama Sew. They're giving away a lot of stuff this month too. Very cool. See you there...



Quick, we're only a few days away from Halloween '10!

cast on and knit fast (darn cute yoda hat, anyone?)
make your own owl pellets (I wish I had miniature bones lying around)
adapt these scavenger hunt cards for a scary search
or get working on a costume for me: Indiana Jones, the Lego


gingerbread cake

When it's like this outside...

it's best to stay inside and eat cake.

gingerbread cake
serves 9-10

2 C all-purpose flour
1 teas baking soda
1 1/2 teas ground ginger
1 teas ground cinnamon
1/4 teas ground cloves
1/2 teas salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 C molasses
2/3 C hot water

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease 9" square baking pan (2" deep) and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl.

In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one and a time, beating well after each. Mix in molasses, then flour mixture, then the hot water. Mix well until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a tester is clean. Cool in the pan, on a rack, for another 20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.


veggie chili

Fall is definitely here and I, for one, am ready for it. Ready for some comfort food, ready for these cold sunny days, ready for a fire in the fireplace, ready for a warm bowl of chili...

Oh, look! A warm bowl of chili!

I warn you, this recipe makes enough for an army, or a freezer-full. But it's so good you'll be glad you've got extra on hand. Trust me. Start chopping.

Yeah, I should mention that this isn't a 'quick, it's 5 o'clock what are we having for dinner tonight' recipe (I mean, just look at that ingredient list!) No, this is a lovely vegetable-filled recipe that requires a bit of slicing and dicing. Nothing difficult or tricky, just chopping. Your efforts will be rewarded with layers of flavour and deliciousness.

It is known in our house as 'Kim and Larry's chili' because they are the friends who got us hooked. I'm not sure where they got this recipe, but I hope they don't mind me sharing...

veggie chili
serves at least 12

1 1/2 C dried beans (black, pinto, red, your choice)
4 C water

3/4 C bulgar
1 1/2 C boiling water

2 Tbs oil (or more if necessary)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 C celery, finely chopped
1 C carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" coins
1 C squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" cubes (we use butternut squash)
1 C eggplant, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1 C mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 red pepper, cut into 1" squares
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1" squares
1 zucchini, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" cubes

1/2 teas Tabasco sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs cumin
1/4 C (or 1 Tbs dried) each of fresh basic, dill, and oregano
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teas dried red pepper flakes

2 28-oz cans tomatoes
3 C V-8 juice
2 oz tomato paste
1 C niblets corn
grated Monterey Jack cheese

First, bring beans to boil in water, then simmer until tenter. Strain, saving liquid. Also, soak bulgar for five minutes in boiling water, then set aside.

Saute vegetables (garlic, onion, celery, carrots, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, sweet potato) in oil for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add spices (Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, basil, dill, oregano, jalapeno, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes) to vegetable mixture, and saute 5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, V-8 juice, tomato paste and beans. Add a tablespoon of the beans' cooking liquid, and add more to taste. Simmer, uncovered and stirring often, for 30 minutes. Add corn and soaked bulgar to the pot and cook until heated through.

Serve in bowls, topped with cheese.


a tale of two slippers

Girl's feet were cold. Girl knit slippers.* Girl's feet were warm. Girl was happy.

* Ribby Slipper Socks from Interweave Knits, Holiday 2008 edition. Available as a free download via Ravelry.


knitting needle roll

My knitting needles are no longer tangled up in the bottom of the yarn box. No siree. Now they're properly put away in a cozy knitting needle roll.

The features I wanted: lots of pockets, enough fabric at the top for an overflap, elastic (instead of ties) for quick one-handed securing, and fun fabric.

I used the ideas of a few different tool rolls, including Lotta Jansdotter's in Simple Sewing and this one, but didn't follow any particular pattern. If you want to make your tools a cozy home, there are a ton of designs and options out there. I'll share a few more photos in case you're interested in how mine came together...


for the record

1 bucket strawberries = 5 half-pints jam

3 bags fresh peaches = 11 pints preserved peaches

25 pounds tomatoes = 9 quarts stewed tomatoes

30 pounds apples = 6 pints cinnamony-sugary chunky applesauce for me + what looks to be a lifetime supply of applesauce for the baby

2 bags ripe pears = 10 pints pearsauce



market bag

To market, to market, to buy... a lot!

This here is a hybrid market bag. I used the bottom and body of the 'let's go shopping' pattern (free ravelry download) and incorporated the design of the 'grrlfriend market bag' pattern (another free download) in the top handle.

It was a pretty quick knit, but not so quick that I'd mass produce them for gifts or gift wrap.

This one was filled with birthday goodies and given away. Fun. I definitely see more market bags in my future. Perhaps a red one for me?


butternut squash soup

A perfectly fall soup for these shorter days -- butternut squash with apple.

I know, apple? I thought the same thing. But trust Elise of Simply Recipes. It's delicious!


egg & bluebird

It's an egg...

...no, it's a bird!

I absolutely love this wee reversible toy. And my new book has four more to make -- and there's a freebie on ravelry for a fifth. Oh man, I'm going to collect the whole set. Err, for the baby, of course.

This one knit up pretty fast because there aren't a lot of pieces. Some of the others look like they'll be more fiddly.

Here, in the light of late night knitting, are all the pieces ready to be seamed together...

Now, should I make the frog/turtle or elephant/lion next??


for tobias

The garter stitch wrap top from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies.


reusable bags

Since I made those kitchen towels, I've been re-examining all of my disposable habits in the kitchen. I was feeling guilty over the plastic bags by the sink. I mean, even though we wash and reuse plastic bags around here, they eventually and inevitably get thrown into the landfill.

But now we have muslin produce bags and snack bags to use instead.

produce bags: A simple bag. Nothing fancy. The seams are a mess. But who's looking? Major bonus: I no longer have to fight to open (the wrong side of) those darn thin plastic bags with my hands full of apples.

snack baggies: Again, nothing too terribly fancy, but they have a nifty flap. I used angry chicken's funny video tutorial.


roasted cauliflower

I think we can all agree that cauliflower is not a photogenic vegetable. But trust me, when it's roasted with a bit of lemon juice and garlic, then topped with parmesan cheese, it shines. Head over to simply recipes for the deets.


t-shirt jumper

Cute stripes + long-sleeve onesie + leggings = fall uniform

The warhol dress is a great pattern for refashioning a big t-shirt into a wee jumper. My only modification was the plain neckline (the original has a bow.)

But oh how I struggled and fiddled with that *$%# knit fabric. It was a scene from the high seas, I'm telling you. The mouth of a sailor at the sewing machine.

I am really happy with the way it all turned out though, and we'll get lots of use out of it. After all, it's part of her new uniform.


crazy knitting

Back when I first learned to knit, oh ten years ago, I inadvertently converted how I was taught to knit into a method of always knitting through the back of the loop. The day after my friend taught me how to knit, I remember practicing in front of her -- "I never showed you to knit like that," she said. But because my final products never seemed too different than those made properly (knitting through the front of the stitch) I never paid too much attention to the fact that I knit wrong. Until now.

Just look at this vest.

I mean, it's cute and all, but the original doesn't have a band across the chest. The original doesn't have slanted stitches.

So, with my latest project I'm in retraining. It's a very verbal process: through the front, the front, the front, through the front, not the back. But it's looking good -- and oh so straight! -- so I'll try to keep it up.

Toddler t-shirt vest (free pattern)