12 Days Of A Northern Homestead Christmas

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This will be the last post of 2013.

With Christmas just a handful of days away, I have to get into uninterrupted overdrive to get everything accomplished.

Meanwhile, I have made a video for you all to enjoy in my virtual absence
(make sure you turn your speakers on).

Merry Christmas to Everyone!  Enjoy the Holidays with your Family and I will see you on or around January 2, 2014!

Oh… Happy New Year too!

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I’m In The Kitchen…

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and up to my eyeballs in cookie batter and To-Do lists.  The only thing getting a serious workout this week is Black Beauty (my Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer).

I don’t have a ton of time before the BIG Day(s) next week so I am bowing out of posts until Friday.  You will only be missing one days post ~ tomorrow’s and Friday’s post is a special one.  One that is definitely not to be missed as I am pretty sure I will be nominated for a Screenplay Award for it….so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I need to get back to the kitchen before my cookies burn…

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Going Back In Time

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A couple months ago I was up at my Aunt and Uncle’s for a visit and spotted an old-fashioned drying rack in their quaint kitchen.  I love old stuff like that and knew I just HAD to have one….so I thought to myself…”Self…this would be the perfect item for the Homestead when days are not suitable to hang stuff outside (or when it snows either)”.

I then unleashed my googling expert hubby to find one for me.  He did, on eBay.  Not having ever purchased anything on eBay before, we were given a crash course in how it operates.  Basically, we had to bid on it, and hope our bid wasn’t bumped.

Drying Rack_twoAfter a tense couple hours (I know, your like seriously? yes, seriously, I was on pins and needles) it was ours.  But it was located in California and shipping to Canada would have been outrageous, so hubby had it mailed to where he works in NY State.  A week or so later hubby brought it home.  Insert huge SQUEAL here….

It was a little rough looking with one of the wooden slats being warped and the whole thing needing a coat of varathane.  So hubby took it up to the garage, sanded it all down and followed up with 3 coats of varathane.

It looked a thousand times better.  Now all we had to do was figure out where to put it.  We originally thought in the bathroom (that is where our laundry facilities are), but there really wasn’t a place it could go without someone poking their eye out if they walked into it.

Drying Rack_fourWe settled on hanging it beside the coat rack by the back door.  It kind of made sense there as that is where any damp hats, scarves or mitts would have the perfect place to hang out until they dried.

Drying Rack_threeIt works like a charm and when not in use, it hangs flat against the wall.  It fits in so well it looks like it has always been there.

It is amazing what a mundane object can do to make my day…

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Last Minute Gift Idea For Knitters

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This post appeared last December just before Christmas and I am running it again because these knitted slippers are so darn cute and so quick to make, you will have them done in a day.  I am sure there is someone on your list that would really get a kick out of a pair of these…or maybe just for yourself.

Santa Slippers

Not just any slippers either…..but slippers in the likeness of Santa, complete with red nose (from being out in the cold) and white pompom on his hat.  These are just about the cutest things I have seen.  Very festive and sure to stand out in a crowd.

I was asked by a relative last year to make her a pair of these slippers for her to wear Christmas Day.  She found the pattern on-line (via Pinterest, which originally came from the Ravelry site) and forwarded it on to me.

crocheted santa slippers

They looked soooo darn cute, but I had one big issue with them.  It was a crocheted pattern and I don’t crochet, other than a simple chain stitch.

So what to do?

I put on my Engineering Hat and sat down and re-wrote the pattern, adapting from the crocheted pattern to a knitted one.  Easy as 1-2-3.

 

Here is how they turned out….

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All told, took me about 4 hours to make the pair using Bernat’s Softee Chunky yarn and large needles (6.5mm).  A mindless pattern really, very easy to do, even for a beginner.  Click here for the pattern.

These are bound to make just about anyone smile – even ol’ Scrooge himself.

So what are you waiting for?  You still have time left to make a pair of these fun and funky slippers.

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Christmas Decor ~ What Type Are You?

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Inquiring minds want to know…what colour or theme dominates your Christmas Décor?

Are you a ‘White’ Decorations Person? White Xmas Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘Red’ Person? Red Xmas Decor

 

 

 

 

A ‘Blue’ Person? blue Xmas Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or ‘All the Colours of the Rainbow’ type person? Coloured Xmas Decor

 

 

 

 

How about a totally ‘Eclectic-anything- goes-could-be-totally-outrageous’ type person? eclectic Xmas ideas

 

 

 

 

We are a mix of Colour and slightly Eclectic Décor, mainly because I still display some treasured items the kids hand-made when they were little as well as using almost all the decorations we have accumulated over the years. Stuff that is too covered in tree sap doesn’t make the cut, but there are lots of little gems that I like to display.  Like my pipe cleaner animals that hang on the tree, to my animated Santa that plays the Saxophone to the clothespin deer ornaments.

Next week I will be hauling out the decorations from storage as it is still too early in my opinion to deck the halls, but I am looking forward to seeing what you all like to do with your own décor and the reasons behind your choice(s)…so leave me a comment below!

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I am almost done….

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With the Christmas chaos that is.  This time of year requires strength, stamina and fortitude.  Pretty much equal to running a marathon.  Marathons have an official distance of 42.195 kms (26 miles and 385 yards, bizarrely, neither number is rounded), I bet that is how much mileage people put on their feet doing their Christmas shopping.  People train for years to run a marathon.  Some do it only once, but others do it religiously every year, sometimes running several in one year.

Can you imagine going through all the hoopla and hullabaloo of Christmas multiple times in a year?  Call me a Grinch, but I would rather poke my eyes out than go through this more than once a year.

christmas chaosThe To-Do lists seem never-ending.  Baking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, decorating, smiling, planning, partying, hosting, visiting, etc.

It’s enough to turn the most diehard Christmas fan into a Scrooge.

We start off the Holiday season grinning stupidly with visions of sugarplum perfection dancing in our heads.  By the end of the Holidays, we are bloated with food, sugar and booze, eyes puffy and ringed from lack of sleep trying to figure out a way of explaining to your boss the need to wear stretchy pajama pants to work come January 2nd.  All in the name of the Christmas Season.

There is still lots to be done in my household, mainly food related (cookie baking day is today with my daughter, which is one of the days I cherish the most this time of the year), putting a tree up and preparing for our annual Christmas Eve Open House dinner and Christmas morning brunch.  But I am feeling less harried now that the shopping is out of the way.  This is what drives me around the bend the most.  The clogged roads on the way to the mall, the clogged parking lots at the malls, the clogged stores IN the malls.  The moody shoppers pushing and shoving to get that last prized hugging Elmo.

I will now spend the next 2 weeks locked in the kitchen, which is a fate I much prefer over being banished to an over-crowded mall any day.

My advice to all of you?  If you can move to a teeny, tiny island for the month of December thus escaping the pressures of the Holidays - DO IT!

If not….well, your stuck like the rest of us….may as well grab a beer and drown out the jingle bells.

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Carmelized Onion and Mushroom Pizza

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I was stag for dinner one day last week (which is fun, cause sometimes I crave stuff that hubby doesn’t like, like mushrooms) and tossing up a couple of choices for dinner…perogies…or the above named pizza.  Mushrooms will be a clear winner any day of the week.  This pizza is simple, with few ingredients, and oh so flippin’ tasty.

Start off by carmelizing half an onion, thinly sliced, in Olive Oil.  Keep the heat between medium and low and slowly sauté for about 30 minutes; stirring often.  Remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

pizza_oneToss 2 cups of sliced mushrooms into the frying pan that the onions were in; increase heat to medium and sauté until just starting to turn golden.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Prepare pizza dough utilizing my recipe here,  as this was just for me, I made  half of the recipe of dough.
pizza_twoRoll out dough onto a pizza pan, prick all over with a fork and bake as directed in above recipe.

Pizza_threeWhen pizza crust has done the first half of the baking, remove from oven and add toppings as follows:  Spread 2 tbsp. good quality Olive Oil over the crust, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, freshly grated black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Top with onions and mushrooms and a final sprinkle of cheese.

Pizza_fiveBake for another 4-5 minutes until edges start browning, turn oven off and turn broiler on; broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is bubbling vigorously.
Pizza_sixRemove from oven and top with baby spinach leaves.  Ready. Set. EAT!

Makes one small pizza.

Hubby needs to go away more often….
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DIY Christmas Greenery

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For those that know me, know that I am cheap (um…frugal).   The holidays bring out all kinds of over-priced Christmas decorations with every grocery store or nursery displaying row upon row of urns filled with various plant materials topped off with a bow.

They want a minimum of $40.00 for one of these decorative planters.

Sure, they look fabulous, but I am not parting with 40 bucks on something I can make myself for nothing.  Seriously, at home as well as the Homestead, there are tons of trees and shrubbery around to make use of (and think of it as doing some necessary pruning), just make sure you are not pilfering anything from your neighbours, especially if they follow the Texas mantra of shoot first and ask questions later.

First, select a variety of greenery.  I went for a walk at the Homestead on the weekend and gathered up the following:

greenery_oneHoneysuckle berries
Red Dogwood
Cedar branches
White Pine branches
Spruce tree top

I took most of the vegetation that was located at the side of the road as many trees and plants within 10 feet of the road try to grow but end up being hacked down by the municipality to keep encroaching vegetation at bay.

Fill a large planter with soil (you probably still have one leftover from summer/fall to use) then artfully arrange the tree and shrub branches, throw some pine cones in if you have some, then top it off with a Christmas bow (which I made from ribbon I had unearthed from my craft stash) and…

Voila

Greenery_twoMy front doorstep is now festive looking.

For Cheap.

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The Manly Scarf

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Every time I start a new knitting project, the following conversation happens between hubby and myself.

Hubby:     What are you making?

Me:          Socks

Hubby:     Great!  But I don’t like that colour.

Me:          They are not for you sweetie.

Hubby:     (Big pout) You never make me anything!

Me:          I made you the gigantic Homestead afghan.

Hubby:    And it took you long enough to finish it too….

Me:         Pfft!  Would you like to be stabbed with a knitting needle?

Hubby:   Ouch!  What did I do to deserve such animosity?! You are so mean!

Me:        You haven’t seen anything yet…

Me:        So what would you like me to make you?  Socks?

Hubby:   No, I don’t want any socks.

Me:        Mittens?

Hubby:   No, only sissies wear mittens.

Me:        How about a scarf?  You need a warm scarf up here.

Hubby:  Only if it’s manly looking, I don’t want no girly looking scarf.

Me:        Ok fine, a manly scarf it is then.  Will you finally stop bugging me when I am knitting?

Hubby:  Probably not (insert evil grin).

So a manly scarf project is on the needles.  I went out and bought the scratchiest wool I could find (two can play this evil grin game) and selected a very basic, manly looking scarf pattern.

Manly ScarfA simple 2 row pattern moss stitch provides a bumpy texture without making the scarf girly.  The bonus of a simple 2 row pattern repeat is it knits up fast, so I can get back to making more important projects….

For those wanting the pattern, here you go:

Cast on 50 stitches in a worsted weight yarn (gauge is 20 sts and 26 rows equals 10 cm using 4.5 mm needles)

Row 1:  Slip first stitch, *P1, K1, repeat from * to last stitch, K1
Row 2:  Slip first stitch, *K1, P1, repeat from * to last stitch, K1

Repeat both rows until desired length is reached, typically around 70 inches for a scarf.  Cast off and weave in ends.

Wrap it tightly around hubby’s neck to shut him up.

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Next Weeks Menu….

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Is on vacation.

Probably until after the New Year.  This is a hectic time of year and with hubby away 2-3 days working in the States,  I don’t feel like making a regular meal just for myself.

I am opting for reheated leftovers, perogies or anything Mexican that I can whip up in between baking batches of cookies and finishing up sewing, knitting and weaving projects.

Tonight will be the standard Friday night Pizza, as hubby would disown me if I tried to make anything else.  He loves his pizza!

Have a good weekend everyone.   If you are heading to the malls to do some shopping…be nice…this crazy time of year brings out the worst in people…

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