Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Birthdays and Such

We had a fantastic Christmas with family, and quickly got into the swing of birthdays. My daughter's was the 26th, my mom's was the 27th, and my niece's is Thursday (the 31st)! I'm working on getting gifts done for the birthday girls by the big family party on Thursday. I'm knitting a tunic for my niece, sewing a hobby horse for my daughter, and have absolutely no idea what to do for my mom! This is unusual for me. I always have ideas, at the very least. I took the day yesterday to organize my fabrics and yarns, and cleaned my house top-to-bottom. Still no inspiration for a gift for Mom. Shucks.
Two pairs of longies were finished yesterday, and one was shipped off Priority. The Hemlock Peace Fleece longies with the 14-inch inseam were sent on their way to Texas, and and the Ella-inspired striped longies were washed, blocked, dried, and put away for this week's stocking. I wish I had time to do a matching top with some of the gray cotton interlock I have , but there's nothing to embellish it with without a trip to the store, and I'm not sure that will happen today.
I plan to do a couple of twirly skirts and dresses for the stocking, but am a bit intimidated at the time it will take, considering my mountain of laundry that needs washing today and closing shift I'm scheduled for at work tonight. We shall see how it all pans out.
The congo I am a member of is planning a make-over and big ta-da for the New Year. Our one-year anniversary is in March, so we're working on a graphics over-haul, collaborations with multiple vendors for something new, and raising funds for more advertising. Right now, I have my items there on sale, and am planning to do a large stocking of Valetine's-themed items for January 10th and 20th.
My teapot beckons, as do my other two blogs before the rest of the house wakes up. Have a blessed day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baking and Inspirations

I've spent much of the last several days baking, with a little bit of knitting as we travel from here to there. Still more baking to be done today, before work  at 2pm. *sigh* Yes, the job outside the home beckons even on Christmas Eve.
On Tuesday, we did so much baking, I thought the oven would run from dawn until dusk. We made a new creation that I thought-up: S'mores Brownies. Basically, just a box mix of classic fudge brownies, add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the mix, and bake as usual. When they're out of the oven, I spread some marshmellow fluff on them while they're still hot, sprinkled a cup of crushed graham crackers over them, and popped them back in the oven on BROIL for 1 minute. Just long enough to toast the marshmellows and graham crackers on top. DELICIOUS!
Another of our favroties year-round, but is especially good at Christmas time is Chocolate Crinkles. We use THIS recipe from Allrecipes, but substitute peppermint extract for the vanilla, and Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa for regular baking cocoa. The rich, dark, minty flavor is like  Andes candies with the texture of a brownie, but in cookie form. So yummy.

Not much sewing being done as of late, considering THE STORE is stocking on Saturday, but knitting has been in high gear. I find that knitting is not only productive, but is soothing, and an excellent way to pass the time in all the doctors' waiting rooms and long car rides to more waiting rooms all over the state. I recently finish a pair of longies for my niece's Christmas present. She's a 'sposied girl, so no need for wool, and if I know my sister like I think I do, she'll love the convenience of machine washing the faux woolies, rather than hand-washing.
I also started a pair of small longies for THE STORE with Cascade 220 and PureWool. I've seen a lot of the "Ella the Elephant" fabric, and love-love-love the pink and silver color combination. I was digging through my yarn bin yesterday, trying to find my missing 16-inch size 8 bamboo circulars, when I ended up with these two colors in my hands. I abandoned my hunt for the needles (still haven't found them :'( ), and decided to cast on this project instead. I love it. I'm excited to stock them for the first big stocking in the New Year.
I doubt I'll blog tomorrow, as it's a busy day, and we'll be travelling to see family after a quick breakfast here, so I leave you all with prayers for a blessed holiday. However you choose to celebrate, I pray you all enjoy the season as our family celebrates the birth of our Savior.

Friday, December 18, 2009

WIPs and Queues



When I first received the order for longies with a 14-inch inseam, I was intimidated. They have gone rather quickly, though. I have been pleasantly surprised. I weighed my project and yarn as I knit along, and according to my calculations, I should have had 1/10th of an ounce of yarn leftover. Sadly, I miscalculated. I was down to the seed-stitch cuff with 3/4's of an inch left, when my ball ran out. I searched for-sale-or-trade boards everywhere, only to be disappointed when no one had what I needed. The Peace Fleece website obviously had what I needed, but the flat-rate shipping was more than the yarn itself, and would have taken much longer to get here than I needed. After I had exhausted my search, I posted on my 'home' community, Cloth Diaper Nation, in the Knitter's Knook how frustrated I was with the situation, and asked if there was any chance that anyone in the small group of ladies there had an ounce of Hemlock Peace Fleece I could buy. Not one, but TWO mamas responded with JUST what I needed. I sent a private message to the first mama who posted, giving her my address and asking how much I could pay her. Her response: Nothing. Merry Christmas. It truly blessed my heart. She sent it out immediately, and she's only one state over, so Lord-willing, I'll get it tomorrow or Monday, so the longies can go out Tuesday, just one day beyond my quoted turnaround time. I let the buyer know the situation, and I believe she'll be understanding. She's been great to work with all along.
Also in-progress, I have my niece's Christmas present. I was planning to knit a pair of lounge pants on brushed acrylic (she's not a cloth-diapered babe), and a matching jumper. I've had so many other projects demanding my attention, though, so I'm running out of time. The longies are nearing completion, and I'm thinking I might have time for a quick tunic of my own creation, but we'll see. I may just need to settle for a matching headband, embellished with a chain-knit flower or something.
Next in my knitting queue is a pair of longies for my big girl. She's been potty trained for a year now, but has been having trouble at night. The awesome mama at Simply Sanity Creations made us some custom trainers from prefolds to help my big girl out at night. She'll be getting them for her third birthday, which is in 8 days.
My girl also LOVES her woolies, and since the cold weather rolled into the Northeast, has been sporting her woolies from last year, which are pathetically too short- about 3 inches. I let her go through my wool bin, and she picked out the yarn she wanted her woolies made from: Peace Fleece in the Blueberry Borscht colorway. The girl has excellent taste! It's a lovely colorway of mainly blue, with twists of purples and flecks of a pinkish-red. After the Christmas presents are complete, I'll be casting on her new woolies, with a 15-inch inseam. Ooh boy.
Despite all this knitting going on, my plans for today include a lot of sewing. I have Christmas pants to sew for my kids, and the niece of nephews, so their pajamas all match on Christmas morning. It's a fun tradition. For the last three years, I have sewn matching fleece lounge pants for all the kids to wear on Christmas morning when we all get together. The first year was festive stripes. Last year was candy cane stripes. This year is turquoise with snow flakes. I plan to finish those up (four more pairs), and maybe sew a couple sheep. We'll see how busy I am with the kids and hubby.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Knitting and Pumpkin Fudge

Winter is in full-swing on the Northeast coast of the country, and I'm loving it. Everything looks so fresh and clean, covered in its blanket of white. As I write, I'm watching my almost-three-year-old through the sliding glass door, stomp around in the snow on the back porch. She's thrilled.
Winter brings so many nostalgic feelings, and fond memories of warm, wholesome goodies. When one is snow-bound, what better way to stay busy and warm than to cook? Yesterday we made pumpkin fudge. It's one of my daughter's favorites. She frequently asks if we can make 'punkin pudge' for her birthday. I always promise her that yes, we can, and since her birthday is nine short days away, we made a practice batch yesterday. This fudge is so rich a delicious, not even a die-hard sweets addict like myself can eat a big chunk- just a little dab will do you! Follow the directions EXACTLY, or you could end up with a 9x9 pan of a delicious, but goopy mess:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 7 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Line a 9x9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and set aside.
  2. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  3. Mix in pumpkin puree and cinnamon; bring back to a boil. Stir in marshmallow creme and butter. Bring to a rolling boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 18 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and add white chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until creamy and all chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan. Cool, remove from pan, and cut into squares. Store in a cool, dry place.

I'm finally working down the second leg of the Hemlock longies. A 14-inch inseam is daunting, but with my 11-inch size-8 circulars, they're going faster than I expected. I hope to have the longies finished and ready to ship by Saturday, since I have today and tomorrow off from work outside the home. My only concern is running out of yarn. I have two ounces to knit the last eleven inches of the second leg, plus a 2-inch seed stitch cuff. Crossing my needles! This yarn is absolutely gorgeous, and while I wouldn't mind ordering a third skein for this project, that means waiting a week for the yarn to get here, not to mention shipping that costs more than the yarn itself. That's why I only buy Peace Fleece through co-ops.

For the last two days, my daughter has been prancing around the house on one of her toys, pretending it's a horse. It has inspired me to make her birthday present. I think she would LOVE a hobby horse. If work is profitable on Saturday, I plan to stop by my local JoAnns on Sunday after church for some brown felt and an appropriate size dowel. I'm really excited about it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baking at Sunrise


The Christmas season always has me giddy like a child. I honestly feel sad for all the people I see around the city and elsewhere, who are stressed and look miserable. Christmas is such a joyful time! Why are they stressing themselves out? Why spend so much time and energy on making sure you buy JUST the right gifts, make JUST the right goodies (and plenty of them), and rush-rush-rush to get everything done? Why be nasty to those around you because you're so stressed? I guess it's just a difference in how people observe the holiday. We observe with family. We're not huge on gifts- most years only the kids get gifts! Big family get-togethers are about seeing each other, being together, and everyone making one small piece of the feast to come toget her and make the whole thing a feast. Christmas, for us, is about celebrating

the birth of Christ, and celebrating that together makes it an awesome holiday for us, no matter what material things we have.

I did some baking yesterday. A couple dozen were to take to the big family Christmas today, where we'll do a cookie swap. A few more dozen I took to work last night to bless my co-workers. They were a huge hit. I'm always glad to do a little something extra for them, because we work rather thankless jobs.


My recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, for those who care:

Ingredients

  • 2 cup s all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
  2. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in the last egg along with the peppermint. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Drop by heaped teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden, 9 to 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Still working down the body of the Hemlock Peace Fleece Kumfy Pants. The color is so rich, I adore these pants so much. I'm excited to get them finished for the mama who ordered them. I'm definitely buying more of this colorway for a pair of shorties for my son's summer stash.
It's crazy to already be thinking spring- It isn't even winter yet, technically speaking. Truly, though, I have knitting to do to get started on the shorties season by March, plus plenty of babies coming in the spring and early summer that need some woolies. I love knitting the tiny things. Not only are they adorable sheerly by their size, but they're super quick knits, too.


The sunrise was beautiful this morning. I couldn't not take a photo of the gorgeous colors. A winter sunrise in central New York:



Friday, December 11, 2009

Candy Canes, Peace Fleece, and Liam the Lamb



I spent all day on Monday sewing-sewing-sewing. I made 8 pair of matching fleece lounge pants from my Kumfy Lounge Pants pattern. I know how much my family loves our matching Christmas pants every year, so I made some for the store.
Next on the sewing list: Christmas pants for my own family! In the end of October, I took advantage of a sale and additional discount code at JoAnn Fabrics, and bought a couple yards of a fun, wintery, gender-neutral fleece to make Christmas pants for my kids, niece, and nephews.

I also cast on a pair of longies for a you-pick-size slot purchased on my store. They're going to be size large knit Kumfy Pants, but with an extra-long 14-inch inseam. That's long!
The yarn is scrumptious. I adore Peace Fleece. Some people say it's too rough for a newborn or tiny infant, but I was very pleased with both pair of newborn Peace Fleece longies I knit for my son, and continue to use it now. These particular longies are being knit use worsted-weight Peace Fleece in the Hemlock colorway. GORGEOUS! So bold and vibrant! I wish either of my kids needed more woolies, because this color is just amazing. The inseam will be daunting, but the yarn is such a pleasure to work with, I look forward to watching it stitch together. Work-in-progress pictures to come!

Another new creation is from a pattern I created. I have a very dear friend who lost her son to SIDS. For the five short weeks she had her Liam, she nicknamed him Lambchop. In honor of her little man, I named my newest creation Liam the Lamb. The ribbons around his neck or the SIDS Awareness ribbon colors. My kids each have their own Liam, and another Liam found his way into a polymailer, and headed off to Liam's mama. He was delivered this morning.

Getting Underway

I'm going to admit it straight away: I'm a blogging addict. Truly, I have a private blog where I write about my every day, mundane happenings, as well as the personal, private matters in my life. That blog is on a small-time, rather unknown hub, and access is restrict to the select few friends and family members I choose. Another blog is completely anonymous. I write about the lessons I learn in a very raw, insanely honest fashion, while hiding behind complete anonymity. I decided I wanted a blog I could link people to, and share one of the things I love most in life: creating. Whether it be sewing, knitting, or photography, creating is an intense passion of mine, and one I wish to share with anyone and everyone. Thus begins my third blog.
I spent quite a bit of time deciding on a name. I knew I wanted to include some form of the word, 'Create,' in the title, because this seems to be the essence of my being. Thus came the second word: Essence. I was working with the word 'necessity,' and 'create,' but couldn't make it sounds just right.

es⋅sence

–noun
1. the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features

That seemed to sum it up for me. My essence is being creative.