2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


I don’t often venture into the garden…

However, there were a few things crying out for attention so I did.

I’ve been growing some herbs on my back deck and lost the thyme but had parsley and basil.  I had tried peeping them up with some of those water holding crystal things but didn’t read the instructions.  So the water was being conserved but great quantities of soil were being pushed up and out of the pots.  So I got everything tipped out into a bucket and re-mixed and re-potted.  The parsley was in several little plants with their own little tap roots so I’ve spread them right out among three pots in the hope that I get a decent crop of the stuff.

Of course that led to some light weeding around the roses and a dose of rose food for them.  Dh decided we no longer needed a front garden bed before Christmas so he moved my 4 rose bushes into a narrow bed that runs alongside the house.  They are hanging on, just, but I don’t yet know whether they will survive the experience.

Then I divided up a couple of Celosia plants that Daniel bought before Christmas and re-potted a Bird of Paradise plant which has also moved up onto the deck.

Then I was involved in a ferocious battle.

Yes, you read right.

There is quite a proliferation of water based weaponry at our place and it all came out today.  Pride of place was given to Anthony’s new battery operated water rifle that the boys bought him for Christmas but we have a number of pump action guns that were also put t good use.  Not that it was all high tech.  The old “pyrex jug of water tipped over deck railings on the unsuspecting head below” trick is an oldie but a goodie.

A Little Bit of Decorating

We didn’t get to do much extra decorating this year and a lot of our lights have given up the ghost but I did get two little projects done.  Using cut out “slices” from cardboard tubes I made Silver Christmas Stars with Daniel and I managed to finish my Christmas star garlands for each boy.

The star garlands had ten stars each which made a total of 20 stars.  That total isn’t really important until you consider the “blocking” of the stars which took 200 pins.  My poor thumb!  I was very happy with the finished result however!

The cardboard roll stars were pretty easy with the use of the hot glue gun.  Daniel enjoyed having a go of Mum’s hot gun even though he had to be VERY careful.  Silver paint and clear sparkly glitter finished them off.

I’ve seen many ideas for Christmases to come and I’ve been pinning and pinning and pinning.

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Christmas Cooking

I had a bit of fun cooking for Christmas this year.  I didn’t stick to Weight Watchers principles because as my very wise WW leader said, “It isn’t what you eat between Christmas and New Year that matters but what you eat between New Year and Christmas.”  So I didn’t scour the Internet for recipes that were low fat but edible and rack my brains trying to make everything healthy.  I just let go and enjoyed Christmas and the cooking that could be done.

I made shortbread for the first time.  I’d never been interested in it when I was younger then when I got married my MIL’s best friend (from Scotland) made (and still makes) the best shortbread ever.  So even though we never got to have J’s shortbread on a regular basis I never thought mine would measure up.  But you know what?  Mine didn’t need to measure up.  It was what I made, it tasted and smelt great and everyone agreed that it had that nice shortbread texture helped along by the rice flour of course.  I drizzled my first batch (stars) with white chocolate and they were gone by Christmas.  So last night, in preparation for today’s gathering, I made another batch (Christmas Trees) but the “drizzling” didn’t go too well. I normally put some choc melts in a snap lock bag and put the bag in some hot water to melt the melts then snip off a corner and drizzle.  Last night I think a drop of water must have found it’s way in to the chocolate because the drizzling was more like er – plopping in unattractive lumps.  However it all still tastes good and we had a good laugh in the kitchen when dh and D were waiting to assist with the mini m&m decorations.

The other thing I was really happy with was my batch of Rudolph Chocolate Tartlets.  They consisted of a biscuit base and yummy chocolate filling (most definitely a Christmas treat!!!).  Then I decorated them at my sister-in-law’s place with the help of my 21 year old niece.  Apparently doing *anything* in the kitchen is a foreign concept to this girl so I think it was regarded as a Christmas miracle when she was standing beside me doing reindeer eyes.  These were very easy to decorate and so effective so I’m confident I will be reprising them in 2012.  Today I did the same tartlets but with a holly decoration and they were just as yummy.

The other treats on the table today were “Christmas Ice” – coconut ice in Christmas colours of red and green and little pancetta frittatas.  All was well received and most of the time I enjoyed the preparation and presentation.  Christmas is probably the only time I really have the chance to stand around and “decorate” food so I made the most of it.

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On My Needles – The Post-Christmas Sequel

Now that Christmas is done and dusted including the Christmas gathering for my parents and sister and family that happened today I can share some of the other things I was working on.  I presented my youngest nephew with his very own cross-stitched Christmas ornament this morning but forgot to take a photo of the finished product!  So there is only that photo for now which will give you an idea and I was chase my sister for a photo of the finished one.

I also knitted four vintage mitered kitchen hand towels – one for me, one for my MIL, one for my sister and one for my Mum.

They were a relatively quick knit from the Canadian Living site and I was able to use some of my Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran cotton that I already had lying around needing a home.  The feature of them that I really liked was the way the tops of them (hanging tab) were knitted with a double strand of cotton for extra strength.  So they are machine washable and will stand up to a bit of rough treatment as well as looking good so it is a win all round.

Edited 31/12/11 to add:

Thanks Trish for the lovely photo of Luke’s ornament.  I hope he appreciates it – maybe when he is older than 3!

Just a Little Bit Smug

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How good is it when you are decorating for Christmas and you suddenly you remember something pretty cool that is a finished project and all ready to go?

I remembered my Embroidered Santa Sacks that I started with the wonderful Anissa from Threads and More at one of their “crafternoons last year.  Ok, so they weren’t finished for Christmas last year but boy was I organised for this year!

On my needles

Strictly speaking there are some things “on my needles” that I cannot speak of just yet because it would spoil some surprises for December 25th.  However there are some bits and pieces I am working on that can be shared and inded should be as they are making me happy.

Firstly some “older projects” are being worked on intermittently.  My Jared Flood Guernsey Wrap is a good project to take places now that I am reasonably quick at reading the grid for the pattern.  I estimate that I am about 75% through it but in the end it is going to need a “severe” blocking with blocking wires which I am a bit nervous about by Lynda from Threads and More has stated quite firmly that I will survive the process with her help.







For some Christmas decorating I have started on a couple of things.  I’m doing a Christmas tree garland in random “vintage” colours using tapestry yard as it sits nice and flat.  The actual Christmas tree pattern is designed by the Woollen Hippy.  It is an absolute hoot to dip my hand into the bag and knit with whatever I draw out!  They also knit up very quickly so I don’t think it will take too long to finish.  I may embellish with gold beads but haven’t decided for certain.  I certainly didn’t do greens for the leafy part of the tree like she did and because I do not crochet I couldn’t do the ornaments for the top but now that I have seen some of hers with bows at the top, that could definitely be a possibility.

The other thing I’m working on is “star garlands” for the boys from the blog Knitting in Color.  I was very dubious about these after the first ones I knitted up looked like pentagons rather than stars but after I moaned to Anissa at Threads and More she said, “Block ’em!”  I should have known better.  So after a good blocking with the steam iron they were much more “star-like” so I will continue with them. 

That is all I can share for now but there will be more things after Christmas so that no surprises are ruined!