Lovely, Glorious, Beautiful Christmas – Be Prepared

First of all, you must understand that I am a Christmas girl! I prepare for it, pretty much year round. I can’t wait until Halloween is over so I can start listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies without scorn. I long for the “yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and good will to men.” My heart starts fluttering when I start seeing the Christmas paraphernalia start appearing in stores. It just makes me happy; “Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”

Thanksgiving week, I was thrown for a loop when I was not feeling well and my son told me I looked like a Simpsons’ character or an Oompa Loompa, only yellow. So, after a quick turn in the hospital to yank out the offending gallbladder, I am back to planning. “Oh, but no matter. Christmas was on its way.”

I am absolutely positive that not only am I prepared, but that things are most likely NOT going to go as planned. But however it ends, I know the outcome will be great. I have faith! Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” has an oft quoted line: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go askew”. I could say that about much of life – you plan one way but it comes out another. And that’s ok; but I still have to plan and be prepared – and most important, be flexible.

If you have time, you might like to read “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. He was a farmer by trade (which is why he was known as the Ploughman’s Bard) and this poem was his thoughts while he was ploughing one of his fields and disturbed a mouse’s nest.

http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/mouse

* Words in Italics come from the movie “A Christmas Story” – definitely one of my favourite Christmas movies. “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!” 

Christmas Tree

Urban Decay 24hr Glide on Liner: Product Review

Every once in a while, you come across a really great product that makes you want to stand on the highest hill and sing it’s praises! For me, it’s a product that works beyond expectation and does exactly what you want it to do. Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if all products fit this bill! Alas, it’s not meant to be.

Products that make me want to sing are cast iron skillets, (yes they’ve been around forever, but you will never be without one again once you learn to use one), Tide with Bleach – it works great and it smells fantastic (nothing else, in my books at least, compare), KitchenAid Stand Mixer – the best,  and Toyota vehicles – they run forever, etc. I know all of this is highly subjective, which is why some companies can get away with selling garbage!

Another love of mine is Urban Decay make-up. Nearly everything I’ve used of theirs is exceptional. It works great and it lasts a long time. I say “nearly everything” because I found one of their products is downright horrid. Sad face.  I have used the Urban Decay 24hr Glide on Eye-liner in Black and Brown and about a year now and I love it! It goes on great, you can tight line with it, and it has staying power; not 24 hour staying power but definitely a good long time. I ended up purchasing some of UD’s 24hr Glide on Liners in various fun colours because I love the black and brown so much. Big mistake. They are not true to colour and have virtually zero staying power – ok maybe 15 minutes.  Oh how I wish they were just like the Black and Brown colours in the same line. I absolutely recommend the Black or Brown: I absolutely don’t recommend any other colour in the line. Totally wish I could. Now I’m back on the hunt for a different brand of smooth liner that come in fun colors and lasts longer than 15 minutes.

Time to go to Sephora!

Urban Decay - 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Vault

Lovely Autumn! Tis the Season to Get Back Into Knitting

Are you like me? The second the weather takes a crisp turn, I get the itch to pull out my knitting. Of course, if I was smart, I’d be planning and knitting year round but that’s not my bag baby. I’m a “whenever it strikes my fancy” kind of knitter.

I started thinking about all those stinking cold days standing around outside in whatever the weather chooses to throw out, watching my boy play soccer. Rain, sleet, snow – makes no difference; they play from September through March, three to four days a week. My son doesn’t seem to get too cold, but of course he is running around the entire time. When you are standing in a pile of snow for an hour and a half, things can get quite nippy! I decided this year, I needed leg warmers. I don’t even care that they are in fashion again – by mid winter, they’ll probably be out of fashion. I care not one iota. These babies will keep my legs warm.

I picked up some funky wool blend yarn by Red Heart – Boutique Treasure in Horizon. From there I just fiddled until I got it right. I used my awesome stainless steel 32″ circular needles – knitting in a magic loop. By the way, I love the magic loop method! It’s fantastic when you have circular needles, but not the right length. DPN’s drive me bonky so Magic loop is the way to go for me to knit very small circumference items. If you’d like to know how to work the magic – heres a YouTube video to teach you. Simple Magic Loop

My super simple leg warmers:
5.5mm or 9US circular needles
Cast on 44
Knit 2′ Purl 2 until you get to a satisfactory length. Make it longer than you think necessary.
Bind off and weave in ends.

You can make them smaller or larger- just decrease and increase as necessary.

I’m making another pair in chunky raspberry wool now! Oh the possibilities!

Wear and be warm!

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Lazy Man Kindling

I have a love/hate relationship with camping. I love the sights, the sounds, and the smells of camping. I could do without some of the smells of camping though: the spoiled milk from a not cold enough cooler, the smell of dirt on my pillow, not to mention the horrid dampness in all the bedding and clothing. I really hate sleeping at night………outside……..with wild animals. Lets just say I had a bad experience with a bear one time, nosing my stomach, trying to flip me over during one never forgotten camping trip. I think I’m actually a gosh darn good sport for even going camping nowadays at all!

Another thing I dislike about camping is that it’s a stinking lot of work! I’m really more of a hotel girl. As much as I am organized, I always forget something or remember that there are so many fantastic ideas available on the net to make your camping experience more enjoyable. I’m just not that forward thinking enough I guess. I always intend to bring my own kindling – cause when I want a fire, I want it now and I don’t want to have to go scrounging for wood pieces or watch my hubs axe off little bits of logs whole the rest of us cower in the background with our fingers on our smartphones ready to call 911 and wondering if Daddy will come home with all his fingers.

So here I sit, in May, pondering our July camp out and thinking about kindling. I’ve contemplated melting wax and pouring it over dryer lint wads loaded into paper egg cartons or scrunching up newspaper into toilet paper rolls. But my son has come up with the best idea of all. Doritos! Yes I said Doritos! Due to their wonderful, tasty, dusty, high fat content, artificial flavor coating, they make excellent kindling. They will burn long enough to get your fire stated. Who doesn’t have Doritos on hand when they go camping? It’s almost synonymous with s’mores! My son demonstrated how well they work using an old coffee can, a few Doritos, and a handy dandy BBQ lighter, and poof – cheesy goodness gusto!

Dorito Kindling

Ramps: the Ephemeral Vegetable of Spring

Yesterday, my Mom and I were discussing all the wonderful things we are growing in our respective gardens this year. When I told her I was growing beets, I could sense her disdain. She grew up on the canned goopy sweet Harvard beets. Still today, she doesn’t like beets – even done the right way! I grew up with “no” beets, so as I was introduced to them as an adult in the form of roasted beets, I grew to adore them very quickly! They are magnificent! My Mom feels the same about asparagus – growing up on blasé, mushy canned garb – it pales in comparison to fresh asparagus  lightly coated in olive oil and grilled until there are char marks on them, perfectly seasoned with sea salt and served with a bit of fresh shaved parm. Nothing quite like it! The epitome of scrumptious!

I was looking this morning for new things I could plant in my garden by perusing recipe websites. I came across recipe after recipe calling for ramps. At first I seriously thought it was a misprint. But after seeing numerous recipes calling for this magical spring delicacy, I had to know more!

While I consider myself a connoisseur of good food and a culinary adventurer, I sadly, did not know anything about ramps. They are simply wild leeks, spring onions with a garlicky flavor. They are the first spring vegetable around and they are in season about 3 days. They cry out to be roasted and fried and cooked into other wonderful concoctions.  I had not, as yet seen any in the markets – but in my defence, I live on the west coast and ramps are grown decidedly, on the east coast. You can grow them here — from seed……. and wait for years for them to naturalize and spread out into large colonies so you don’t eat them all in one shot! I don’t think I am that patient. But I am all for any vegetable that I can roast to a perfect hint of caramelization! After a long winter, people are anxious for fresh grown veg. And ramps, unlike other chef trendy veg like fiddlehead and morels, do not disappoint!  If you are so lucky as to find some ramps in your farmers market this spring – give them a try and blow off those winter blues!

Rockin’ Roasted Ramps

Bunch of ramps trimmed and cleaned well (make sure all the sneaky dirt is gone)

Toss them in olive oil

Season to taste with freshly ground sea salt

Put it on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for about 15 minutes

OR

Toss in a heated cast iron pan until the bulbs are tender and the leaf edges begin to crisp up.

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Easy Stained Glass Drawings

Today my son and I made some Stained-Glass drawings. They were easy, fun, clean, and relatively quick. We used a Halloween theme of a spider web and a pumpkin but you could adapt this to any drawing. The effect is spectacular and very satisfying.

Materials:
Black Construction Paper
Clear drying glue
Oil Pastels

Process:
We used Elmers clear glue for this project. (We tried Elmers white glue first, but it did not dry 100% clear.)

With your glue, draw on the black construction paper any design you have in mind. Do the outline and add some details as well.

Let it dry! You might need to let it dry overnight. I had to do this but it’s been very rainy here lately.

Once dry, choose your oil pastel colors and fill in the areas. Try not to go over the glue lines – if you do, just wipe it off. You can smudge your pastel effects by using your fingers or a tissue to smooth out lines or blend colors.

Sit back and enjoy your masterpiece!

Pumpkin at Night
Pumpkin at Night
Spider Web
Spider Web

Ode to a Jack O’Lantern

Ode to a Jack O’Lantern

Behold the jack o’ lantern
Grins aglow
Face slowly changing
Teeth sucked in, black rot, fuzzy spots
Becoming earth once more

Jack

Oh ephemeral jack o’lantern – can anything be done about it’s early demise? Truth be told – the answer is yes and no. Once you cut into your great pumpkin, the end is already near. However, there are things that can be done to prolong the life of your pumpkin – at least for a few days before tossing it into the compost heap!

There is a product called pumpkin fresh that does an amazing job of prolonging the life of Jack. But, if you don’t want to buy yet another product – try the bleach method. Use about 1 tsp. of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Spray your jack o’lantern well, inside and out, and then turn it upside down to let any extra drain out – alternately, you can just stick a paper towel or two inside of it to wick away the moisture – just remember to take the paper towel out BEFORE you throw in a candle! 😉 Spray down your pumpkin with the bleach water daily. I’ve heard recommendations smearing (ugh, I hate that word) vaseline on and in the pumpkin after the bleach treatment but that just sounds a wee bit disgusting to me. It’s tough enough to get all mucked up yanking out pumpkin guts!

So, hopefully, our jack o’lantern will last more than a day this year! Crossing my fingers!

Happy and safe Halloween