Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very, Merry Bovine-Protein-Allergy Christmas

The last of my Christmas baking recipes! All the yumminess that has been blogged about so far can't be consumed by Elly due to her bovine protein allergy. She's not allowed any dairy, or beef for that matter, though she can wear leather shoes, as long as she doesn't chew on them.

Not being able to eat butter can turn sharing Christmas treats into a bit of a challenge, but Elly has altered a few of the classics on her own, and I've found three new winning recipes that I'm able to offer.

From the Fall 2008 issue of Home for the Holidays Canadian Living comes Tropical Fruit Bark. In order for this to be dairy-free I buy the dark Bernard Callebaut chocolate, as I know for certain what's in it, whatever chocolate you buy, make sure it's good quality and check those ingredients!

Tropical Fruit Bark

1 lb. good quality 70% chocolate, melted
1/3 cup each chopped dried papaya, pineapple and mango (Elly also has a pineapple allergy, so I skip that and use either mango only, or mango, apricots and papaya - the all mango is best)
1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds (I've only ever used pepitas)

Line a 15x10 inch baking sheet with foil; grease foil. Set aside. In large bowl, stir together melted chocolate, fruits and seeds. Spread to about 1/4 inch thickness over the prepared pan. Tap on counter to release air bubbles. Refrigerate bark until firm, about 30 minutes. Break into chunks.

Was that easy, or what?

From the December 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine, this recipe doesn't make very many cookies, but they're low in fat and calories and very tasty.

Espresso Crinkles

4.5 ounces flour (about 1 cup)
1 1/4 cups icing sugar, divided
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
5 1/4 tsps canola oil
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (again, this needs to be dairy-free chocolate)
1 tsp instant espresso powder granules
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp light-coloured corn syrup
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
2 large egg whites

Combine flour, 3/4 cup icing sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine oil and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Add espresso powder to pan; stir until blended. Remove from heat. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, syrup and vanilla. Add egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently just until combined. Cover; chill at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dredge balls in remaining 1/2 cup icing sugar; place balls 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until tops crack and are almost set. Cool cookies on pan 2 minutes or until set; remove from pan. Cool cookies on wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

I highly recommend those espresso cookies, they're excellent.

From the Holiday 2000 issue of Canadian Living Holiday Best:

Sweet Spicy Pecans

1 lb. pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp each chili powder and ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper

Blanch pecan halves in boiling water for one minute; drain well. Transfer immediately to large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with oil; toss to coat well. Let stand for 10 minutes. Spread in single layer on greased foil-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake in 325 degree F oven, turning every 5 minutes, for about 25 minutes or until nuts are crisp and slightly darkened. Meanwhile, in metal cake pan or other heatproof pan, combine cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne; toast in oven alongside nuts for 5 minutes. Dump nuts into large bowl; sprinkle with spices and toss to coat well. Spread in single layer on baking sheet to cool. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.

This is another excellent recipe, being savoury rather than sweet makes this a nice departure from the other baking being passed around this time of year. My batch didn't turn out as well as usual this year, when I reached in to take the pan of pecans out of the oven, I knocked the pan of spices and half of it spilled all over the inside of the oven. Not only was I facing small flames, but I had to act fast and pull extra spices (which I didn't bother to measure) from the cupboard and mix them into the hot pecans. I think they ended up needing more of something, possible cumin, or chili powder. However, they were still pretty good.

That's it for me for pre-Christmas blogging, I'll be back next week with some knitting to show you.

Have a happy and relaxing Christmas week-end.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Festive and Fruity

I've two more recipes for you today, plus a little knitting at the end of the post. If you're weary of all the baked goods, just skim done to see the jolly, red fellow I knit a couple of weeks ago.

First recipe today is for Orange Cherry Poundcake. I'm not sure where this recipe came from, my Mum use to make this when we were younger, so she must have discovered it from a book or a friend in either the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s (I had a lengthy childhood). Ian has discovered this year that he loves this cake, in years past he wouldn't try it, being too suspicious of "things" (like cherries) inside of other "things" (like cake). I guess he's not a baby anymore...

Orange Cherry Poundcake

1/4 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is a nicest)
1/2 lb. red glace cherries, cut fine (sorry, i don't know how to make the wee accent mark over the "e" in glace)
1/2 lb. butter, softened (that's one cup, for you novice bakers)
1 1/4 cups berry sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Grease two standard loaf pans and line with wax paper. Mix the juice with the cherries in a small bowl and stir well to separate the fruit. Cream the butter thoroughly and add 3/4 cup of the sugar gradually. Continue beating, add flavouring, then flour sifted with the salt. Beat well. Scrape the batter into a larger bowl and add the cherry mixture and zest. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until fluffy; add the remaining sugar gradually and beat until very stiff (the egg whites, not your arms). Fold the egg white mixture gently and thoroughly into the cherry batter and scrape into the prepared pans. bake at 300 degrees F oven for 1 1/4 hours or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan, then remove and peel off the wax paper. When cold, wrap airtight and store 24 hours before slicing.

Another cherry-filled recipe that I found through Mum, this one comes from the November 2006 issue of Chatelaine. It was a recipe submitted by a reader, who mentions in the preamble that her Mother found it in a recipe book back in the '50s and they've made it ever since at Christmas time.

Festive Cherry Bars

2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. each baking powder and salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a bowl, using a fork, stir flour with 1/2 cup icing sugar. Using a pastry blender, or two knives, cut in 1 cup butter until coarse crumbs form (or instead pulse ingredients together briefly in a food processor). Press over bottom of baking dish. Bake until light golden around edges, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir flour with baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs, then stir in brown sugar. gradually stir in flour mixture, then almonds and cherries. Spread over base (no need to cool the base after baking, as it's going right back in the oven). Bake at 350 degrees until filling is set, 25-30 minutes. While filling is baking, in a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cherry juice with 3 Tbsp butter and almond extract. Gradually beat in 2 cups icing sugar until fluffy. Cover and set aside. Cool bars, then evenly spread icing overtop. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into bars. Store in airtight container.

My Festive Cherry Bars didn't look so great this year because I forgot to chill the bars before cutting into them, I just left them to cool on the counter, and now the icing looks a tad sad and wilted. This, of course, won't happen to you because you'll follow the recipe.

Off the needles recently is another Alan Dart toy, this one is the Little Devil from the October issue of Simply Knitting.

I thought why not Old Nick instead of Saint Nick for the festive season. He's not all that threatening though, as I never did make his trident.

On an unrelated-to-anything-except-for-Christmas note, this video makes me wish I'd asked for a timpani drum for Christmas:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Something Nutty

More recipes today! Three, in fact.

Mmmm....see that, it's called Tiger Butter and it's wee Ian's favourite. Like the rest of the Christmas baking, I make this treat early and then squirrel it away in the freezer to dole out in small plate-fuls through the holiday season, most other years I've noticed this item dwindles quite quickly, despite being frozen solid, as Ian would quietly help himself after school. This year has been different, and even now, so close to Christmas, there's still plenty in its little box in the freezer. It tastes just as good as always, so I suspect that Ian, now 14, is simply going through a "lacking initiative" phase (also evident in his algebra marks).

It's one of the easiest of all the Christmas baking, involving simply measuring, melting, marbling and cooling. It's important to use good quality chocolates and a natural peanut butter for this recipe, it makes a huge difference in the flavours. I use Bernard Callebaut chocolate and I purchase it at Scoop 'n Weigh on Taylor Avenue.

Tiger Butter

1/2 lb. white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Line the bottom of a 9-inch square cake pan with wax paper. You will use two glass bowls set separately over a saucepan with hot, but not boiling water. In first glass bowl, melt white chocolate. Stir in peanut butter, and pour into prepared pan. In second glass bowl, melt semisweet chocolate over hot water. Pour the semisweet chocolate over white chocolate in prepared pan. Spread evenly, then draw a table knife through both layers to create a marbled effect. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until solid. Cut into wedges or squares to serve.

More nuttiness:

Here's a classic Northern and Eastern European Cookie, Almond Crescents, the little lovelies on the plate aren't actually "almond", other nuts can be substituted for the ground almonds, I've used pecans in the past and this year I used ground hazelnuts. They're very nice, but I'm going to recommend almonds, because the flavour is stronger and more defined (more festive...?). Nigel and I both agreed that the hazelnuts were just a little too delicate in flavour.

Almond Crescents

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or other nuts)
2 1/3 cups flour
more icing sugar for dusting

Cream the butter and icing sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, than add the almonds. Stir in the flour and beat until well combined. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a roll 1-inch in diameter. Cut each roll into 3/4 inch slices, roll each slice into a cylinder 2 inches long, place 1 inch apart on baking sheet and form into crescent. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let cool, then dust liberally with icing sugar.

This next recipe is from the Canadian Living Holiday Best magazine from 2005, reading through the recipe, they sound a little fiddly to make, but they're not as bad as they initially seem, and very tasty if you're partial to coconut.

Coconut Macaroons

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each coconut and almond extracts
2 cups flour
45 chocolate macaroon candies (this would be one box of Neilson Original Macaroons)
1 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Line baking sheets with parchment or grease; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg yolk, salt and extracts. Add flour, stir until smooth. Roll dough into 1 Tbsp balls. Press 1 coconut macaroon candy into centre of each, covering candy with dough. Roll with hands into smooth balls. In small bowl, beat egg white with 1 Tbsp water. Place coconut in shallow dish. Dip each cookie into egg white mixture; roll in coconut to coat. Place, about 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake in 350 degree F oven until coconut is lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool. of my new faves.

Meet me here tomorrow, I'll have two more recipes for you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Tale of Two Shortbreads

I had big plans for December, and though I've accomplished a fair bit, I never did blog all my Christmas Baking recipes like I'd planned, so I mentioned to Nigel the other day that I was going to blog every day until Christmas with one cookie recipe. He scoffed when I said this, and it seems he may have been right - there's only four days left before Christmas day and I have more than four recipes to share, hence, the title of the post.

Let's get down to some baking:

Everyone I know has some recipe or another for Shortbread, but I'm here to share with you how it's really done. Shortbread is the purest of all the baking at Christmas, there are very few ingredients (specific ingredients, please) and a simple, though exhausting technique.

Real Scottish Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened (that's butter, please, no margarine or other faux fats)
1/3 cup berry sugar (not granulated sugar, and not icing sugar, those are wrong)
1 2/3 cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup rice flour (you can use 2 cups unbleached flour, but you'll get your hands slapped)

Cream the butter very well (this sounds simple doesn't it? It's not, I put my butter in the stand mixer and beat, beat, beat until it's very pale and soft. If you don't have an electric mixer you can expect to develop big, brawny Scottish forearms.) Gradually add the sugar (again this sounds very straightforward, but the word to remember in that line is gradually, just a spoonful at a time). Gradually add the flours (see sugar reference). Turn out of bowl and knead dough until it begins to crack (this shouldn't take long if you've done everything else I told you). Wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface about 1/4 inch thick using as little flour as possible (too much flour will make them tough). Cut into fancy shapes - try to be economical in your shape cutting, you want to roll and cut as few times as possible. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes (if you've rolled them a little thin you'll want to make sure to check them so they don't burn).

Well done! Here's another recipe that's for "shortbread" too:

Lemon Shortbread

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar (I know, that's why I call it "shortbread")
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt (I don't bother with this if the only butter I have in the house is salted)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light. Sift the flour and salt together in another bowl, and add to the butter mixture. Then add the vanilla and lemon zest, and blend thoroughly. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in wax paper, chill for 4-6 hours (well...sometimes I cheat a little on the time). Remove from the refrigerator and let softened slightly. Line an 8-inch cake pan with foil or parchment. Press the dough into cake pan. Sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp sugar, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake until the shortbread is just starting to colour. about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, then cut into 2 x 1 inch bars.

Not real Shortbread, but very nice none-the-less.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Begins

Winter has arrived of late and I've been busy, busy, busy.

I'd been thinking through November that I should blog all my favourite Christmas baking as I baked - showing the finished project and sharing the recipes, but then I went ahead and started baking and completely forgot about sharing. Already baked and squirreled away in the freezer are my Cherry Pound Cakes, Hazelnut Crescents, Lemon Shortbread and Coconut Macaroons. I think, perhaps, I'll treat a sampling to a visit to a plate and do a wee photo shoot. I suspect Nigel and Ian will help make sure that none of them have to return to the freezer...

Today though, was Jan Hagels day...

this cookie recipe was one Mum use to make years ago, and one I've made every Christmas for a long, long time. I suspect the recipe came from a magazine, possibly a Canadian Living, but I'm honestly not sure, all I do know is that it's not listed in their recipe index.

But don't despair, because I've got the recipe right here:

Jan Hagels

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (I use granulated)
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour (I use unbleached white)
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds (I suspect I use more than that)
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

With mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolk and almond extract. Blend thoroughly. Stir in flour (I don't stir, but beat it in with the mixer). Turn cookie dough into an ungreased 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan. Spread evenly to edges with spatula (for many year the pan I had was too big, so I only spread it to three edges and about 3/4 the length of the pan - use your judgement people!). Beat the egg white until foamy. Spread evenly over cookie dough (I don't use all of it, I brush it on with a pastry brush until there's a nice even coating on top), spread nuts evenly over top (I use a fair bit, probably more like 3/4 cup, rather than the 1/2 cup stated in the original). Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over nuts (I always have a shaker full of cinnamon and sugar in the cupboard, for making cinnamon toast, I don't measure this out I just shake, shake, shake all over the top of the almonds). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes until lightly browned (hmmm...actually, I check them at about 22 minutes, and if they look and smell done then I take them out - don't let them burn). Let cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Cut into 8 lengthwise cuts and 12 diagonal cuts (I use a pizza cutter). Cool in pan, remove with spatula. Mmmmm...

There's always a few odd, too-skinny shaped pieces that are left over for snacking. This makes Nigel very happy.

I got a tree for the landing and decorated it with a collection of vintage ornaments.

My favourite...

and the tree topper, so lovely...

Every year since Ian was tiny we've put up the Playmobil Advent calendar. It's been amusing me every year that no matter how old he gets, he'll make a bee-line for the calendar and open the little box first thing in the morning, before anything else, but today...for the first time... number 1 still sits and waits.

They break your hearts for the first time at fourteen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Would You Knit a Gingerbread House?

Isn't this a fabulous piece of embroidered vintage linen? A friend who speaks German says it means: "Do it like the sundial, only count the bright hours", which, I assume to mean, "look on the bright side".


It's a dresser cloth, approximately 3 feet by 2 feet, it must have taken the maker such a lot of time and effort, it always breaks my heart to see something like this end up in a thrift shop - I had to give it a home.

I've been on a real tear with regard to new acquisitions lately, and not just linens...

I'm afraid I've amassed quite the collection of old books lately, even Nigel (who never criticises) remarked on how many there seemed to be...

...perhaps I should blog them all one day...

I really need to steer clear of the shops, it's not like I don't have enough projects to keep me busy:

The Lady Grey continues to haunt my days (just a ghost, of course, it's not materialising into anything concrete).

Lining is cut out...

I started a new shawl called Kiri by Polly Outhwaite. It's suppose to be a fairly easy knit. I'm working it in Elann Super Kydd in black. I made the mistake of starting it in a dimly lit room one evening, and it promptly had to be started over.

Here's a snap of the scraped first attempt:

so sad...

Also, on and off the needles lately has been Alan Dart's Gnomes at Home.
I started this project thinking it might make a cute Christmas display, but after finishing the first gnome,

I decided the gingerbread house was a tad tacky. I did finish the gnomette, but have yet to take her picture. I'll show her next time, she's rather sweet, with crooked ears.

Also, just look at what's been on and off the lemon tree!

Yes, it's a bumper crop!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en

Nigel and Ian and I went out for our annual walk through the graveyard yesterday. There are two we like to frequent, this is St. Andrew's on the Red, it's one of the older cemeteries in the area (the other we like is the Lower Fort Gary Cemetery). We've been going for years, but I still find new markers every time we go.

There'd been a bit of snow the night before, which had started to melt and drip off the trees. It made a strange pattern on this headstone and we wondered if underneath it had a name like McKay...

it didn't.

Ian does strange things when we get to this site. This year he crouched under a tree and stayed there for a long, long time while Nigel and I took in the history of the place.

Later, I snapped him skulking around the edge of the church, but he was reluctant to venture in amongst the headstones.

There's a photo from him here in this old post from 2007, sitting in a tree.

Don't know what to make of that boy sometimes...

I finished up the Emily Dickinson shawl (started back in this post). I'd finished the knitting a few weeks back, and have finally blocked it. The silk yarn is so fine you can roll the entire shawl into a ball and fit it into the palm of your hand.

It's got a fabulous spooky quality to it...

Also finished is the Noro Striped Scarf started recently.

Shortly after I started it, I realised the colours were very carnival/tropical...very... Jane. So this one is for you, Jane - you can collect it next week-end when you come to town!

Here' a bit of Belle and Sebastian:

Happy Hallowe'en.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Post Birthday Post

It's that time of year again. Time to get your Hallowe'en decorations up. I put all mine up the first week-end of October. No sense in not enjoying my favourite season of the year.

Draped across the mantle is a Martha Stewart bat garland I bought a few years ago at Michael's.

The first year I cut a few bats off one end and taped them to the hall mirror, in fact, I do believe I blogged about it back here.

Well! Just look at what Martha Stewart is selling this year! Clearly, she's following my blog.

I've finished basting the hair canvas to the fronts of my Lady Grey coat.

I've also finished pad stitching the lapels. It's coming along nicely, though I'm still way behind where I'm suppose to be time-wise. I'm not too concerned though, coat season is a very long season here in Winnipeg, I could take months to finish and I'd still have plenty of opportunity for wear.

I've got a :::Friday Find::: today. Two, in fact.

Nigel and Ian and I went out for lunch to Eat! Bistro today - one of my favourite local lunch spots (the must have is the Eat! Platter, available for one person or two, so fantastic....) The bistro is located at the back of Aqua Books - my favourite local vintage book store. Found today was "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" by Gayelord Hauser, 1961 edition. Known for his nutrition books and products, this is Hauser's "Invitation to Beauty", wherein he states, "beauty is duty".

I may have to read a little more to figure out just what that's suppose to mean.

On seeing the back of the dust jacket Nigel asked if this beauty book was written by John Diefenbaker.

Really, Nigel!

The illustrations are charming. Love the exercises!

Check out this one - the "Rag Doll Slump"...

now that's my kind of exercise!

And this:

what on earth?!

My other little treasure was found last week-end at a neighbour's garage sale.

A stunning piece of Franciscan Ware pottery.

It even had it's little lid.


and just $2 - an excellent birthday week find!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.

Remember back to this post in April when I bought my wee lemon tree?

Well, it produced three lemons which have grown and grown, and in celebration of my day it's decided to finally ripen those formerly tiny lemons.

And look, at least one new teeny, tiny one is starting for me.

Can't wait to see what other gifts await me later today!

Friday, October 8, 2010

What's That Name?

I've been working double-quick time lately, getting caught up on the oh-so-many lingering projects around the house. Along with the lovely red Citron Shawlette in the photo, I finished painting the bedroom ceilings and ripped out all the half-dead petunias in the front garden beds. We had a spell of cold weather in September that hastened in Autumn, killing off the annuals, and turning the leaves. It's turned warm again, so the trees are looking very bleak and spooky, but it's warm enough to go out jacket less and in short sleeves. Strange.

I've got a :::Friday Find::: for you today -

a vintage ceramic goldfish lamp in chartreuse. I bought this back in the spring, but it was without a shade and it took a fair while for me to find one that was acceptable. It should really be made of fibreglass to be authentic to the 1950's era - Elly has suggested a rice paper shade would be better than the one I chose, however, the proportions are not far from what it's original would have looked like, and the colour is good enough. I'll keep my eyes peeled for one that's even better. I've been skulking around Vintage in the Village in Osborne Village, hoping they'll bring in one that's just right. I'll post if I find a new one.

Work continues slowly but surely on the Lady Grey sew-a-long project.

I'm way behind where I should be, but I'm trying not to get too hung up on that - it really should be more about the journey and not the destination, as they say.

I would post photos of the process, but the fabric I purchased is black (beautiful black cashmere/wool blend) which doesn't photograph well at all, and the lining fabric is a hot magenta silk - also beautiful, also doesn't like being photographed. So, you're all just out of luck until the project is finished and I can do a photo-shoot outside.

New on the needles is a stripey scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock.

I love this pattern, dead simple, the perfect mindless knit and very effective with the colour changing stripes. It makes me very happy.

In adventures away from the craft room (*I very nearly wrote craft tomb*) I've had an ongoing issue through my adult life with my name. I'm not sure when it all started, but for a fairly long time I've had problems getting my name spelled correctly on official documents. My birth certificate and my social insurance card are both fine, but everything else has had an issue of one sort or another.

My name is Harriett Anne, and I go by my middle name (not so complicated, right?). Years ago, when I got my first driver's license, the woman that took down all my information told me that if I didn't go by my first name then it should be listed as H. Anne on the license - OK, fine, whatever - I was just happy to have finally passed my driver's exam.

Then when I applied for a passport I was told that I had to have the name on the passport match the name on my driver's license, despite having to show them my birth certificate as well - something to do with matching up to the photo-ID. I was tempted at the time to argue with them, but I was happy enough to be getting a passport, so I didn't.

Then there was the time when some ninny at the bank decided to change my name on my account to Anne Harriett because it was easier for them to find me in the computer (a wiser teller spotted it and fixed it).

The worst was when I was traveling home from Scotland on my H Anne passport, and I noticed that my airline ticket had me listed as Hanne, and I was about to try to get through security with that discrepancy. It turned out to not be that big a deal, but these are not the best of times to not have your ducks in a row.

So I've made more of an effort to correct things as they come up (like when I re-newed my passport), and to insist that both my full first and second names are listed on most things (though my cheques currently call me Harriett Amme), but this week I got my voter's slip in the mail:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Flaming Lips

We (as in the lot of us) went out to see The Flaming Lips perform last night. It was truly most excellent.

Someone has already posted a video of the event - video recorders aren't allowed at the venue, so someone must have had a half-decent, small device with them.

Check it out:

There was lots and lots of confetti, balloons, and streamers everywhere. Wayne Coyne also walked across the crowd in his giant space ball/hamster bubble. Very cool. And no, I didn't shoot the video, because I was right down in front about four people in from the stage.

Oo, very loud...

Here's an official video of them:

Thank you, Flaming Lips, for a fabulous show, and thank you, Nigel, for buying all those tickets for us!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've been absent again, haven't I?

I'd love to confess that I'm living a secret double life - like a spy - and am fighting international crime in some exotic locale, but in truth, I've been getting Ian ready for the start of school (which happened last week) and painting Elly's old bedroom (which is an ongoing saga). I painted the walls of her room the very lovely Gossamer Blue by Benjamin Moore that all the other bedrooms have been painted, but no sooner did I finish that, then I realised that the trim really needed a fresh coat of glossy white, and now that that's done, I'm realising that the ceiling really, really needs to be does Ian's does the Master Bedroom ceiling...

...and so the saga shall continue for a while yet...

However, there always things to link to!

If you haven't already noticed the new link button below my fish pond (just a glance to your right), I've signed up for the Lady Grey Sew-a-long over at Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing. I've never done a sew-a-long before, but since I've been wanting to get back into sewing, I thought this might be a good place to start. The Lady Grey is a coat pattern by Colette Patterns out of the States. I've made a coat in the past and this one doesn't look to be beyond my skill level, so lets cross our fingers shall we? We're suppose to start next week with cutting our muslin models. I had to measure myself this week, and good god!!! I've become a tubby wee lassie! However, I suspect I'm not so fat as to be unable to find enough fabric to cover myself. I'll let you know how that goes...

In another sewing related link, eBay has the most comprehensive collection of Vogue Magazines for sale. Check it out. Yes, you read that correctly, for just $58,000.00 US Dollars you can own the complete set from the 1950's to the 1970's. It says shipping is $5,000, but further down the page it says that shipping is free - so, well, you might just want to clarify that point with the seller.

And, have you seen this?

Yes! At long last! PeeWee Herman has a blog!

How I've missed him...

You should also be making note of the following service...

andvinyly, as in "and finally". You can preserve your loved one's remains in record form. This has become Nigel's new preferred treatment post-death, as opposed to the former being shot into space.

I've favourited the link so I don't forget when the time comes...

And finally... was I the only one that missed the German entry for the 1979 Eurovision Song contest?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Finally, Buttons in Frames

After ages and ages, I'm ready to show you my best antique buttons in their frames.

I'd bought some old vintage frames at a thrift store last year, and I'd even painted them a lovely antique silver way back in the spring, but I didn't get around to putting them all together until mid-June, didn't hang them on the wall until July, and hadn't taken photos until this week-end. For shame!

I've sewed them onto handmade paper, layered with poster board, though I may re-do them at a later date with crisp, white linen.

The three matching round frames hold the mother-of-pearl and shell buttons, mostly from the Victorian era.

The long, rectangular frame has the vegetable ivory buttons, most of which are probably from the 1930's and 1940's. Gorgeous!

They make me happy every time I walk past them in the hall.

I still have a box of old glass buttons, as well as some metal ones and copious amounts (an understatement) of plastic. More projects, for another time...

On the needles at the moment is the Vixen Shawl available through KnitPicks.

I'm working it in Zauberball Lace weight in the colourway called cranberries. It's extremely vivid, but should be good and bright for those dreary winter months that are ahead. I may have to add a repeat or two of the pattern, as the pattern calls for fingering weight, not lace weight, but we shall see...