Monday, December 27, 2010

Crafty Gifts, 2010

Gift Guide, 2010

Handmade Gifts

Jack and Barney Ornaments

Crocheted "Barney" Ornament, for Mr. and Mrs. Kinne.

Barney Ornament

The pattern is by Nekoyama (ravelry link here). It was originally in Japanese, so it's "translated" into pictures, which actually worked to my advantage, as I'm new to crochet. I added a Santa Hat and scarf with the year.
Model: Mr. Barney himself:

Crocheted "Jack" Ornament, for Beth and Bob.

Jack Ornament

Same pattern, but I was able to make the legs and tail longer because I had more yarn to work with. The Model:

Crocheted "Jasper" Ornament, for Megan.

(Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it to her?)

Pattern from Lionbrand here. It's a little smaller, and the I improvised the ears to make it look more like Mr. Jasper.

Homemade treats . . .

For my work friends, I made a bunch of different Barks.

1) "Christmas Bark" - White chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistatios

2) "Layered Peppermint Bark" - White chocolate, candy canes, and chocolate ganache

3) "Spicy Chocolate Bark" - Milk Chocolate, chili powder, cashews, and pecans

4) "Almond Bark" - Milk Chocolate, slivered almonds

5) "Toffee" - Butter toffee and walnuts

The Takeaway:
1) Toffee is tricky. This recipe did a great job explaining what it should look like and when it's done. Still, I found it difficult to cut it, get it out of the pan, and keep it solid.
2) Don't mix the nuts into the chocolate before spreading it out (like it says to do the Almond Bark recipe). You'll see that that batch looks "muddy" and messy. Compare it to the Spicy one with all the nuts: the spicy one looks much cleaner and more like candy.
3) My apartment is a little too warm for candy-making. I had to put each batch in the freezer to make it firm enough to break.
4) The peppermint with the ganach is AMAZING!!!! Technically, I messed up the top layer, because I didn't let it cool completely. But I still turned out pretty good!

Photoshop Card
Getting two people, a dog, a belly-hat to look good all at the same time, in an apartment without the best lighting, is not easy. Good thing I'm decent at photoshop.

Happy Holidays 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Crafty Roundup

Because I can't post the actual holiday crafts I'm working on, because the recipients may actually read this, I will post crafts that hopefully I'll remember to tackle next year.



I want . . .

Silver Footprint Pendant on Chain

I just emailed the link to Chris. I'm not subtle.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My need to plan . . .

So I love calendars. I love planning. I love lists. I love applications to allow me to make calendars and lists. I just signed up for Evernote, where you can link online, on a desktop app, and on my phone (and maybe Chris's phone) all sorts of notes and lists. There is also a web clipper where I can bookmark a website and add notes. It's coming in handy for making Christmas lists.

There are a lot of things I need to plan, Christmas probably being the least important actually. Last month I printed out blank calendar pages from November through April and began filling them in with things like "sign up for childbirth classes", "finish painting the living room", and "don't freak out that you're overdue".

Today I took it one step further and planned one for all the knitting that needs to get done before April.

According to this, I should be done with my Alphabet Blanket squares by March 30, taking appropriate breaks for Christmas gifts, Doula Training weekends, baby birthday-presents, and having something do over of New Years (we're going to St. Paul for a wedding . . . in December . . . it's going to be -20 degrees. I need a project to keep me in-doors!). Also, I took into account my commute; between now and January, the commute needs to be reading time to get through the required books for my training; after that, I think I can take some time for knitting squares. Now I know which colors I need to pack when I leave town for Christmas and New Years.

And finally, on a more micro level, I feel the need to fill my calendar with the minutia that I have to get done on any given day. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with everything, but somehow "finish painting the living room" is less overwhelming than thinking "on Monday, take off the grates and paint behind them", and "on Tuesday take out the A/C and paint the rest of the trim". I'm hoping that if I write it all down, I can see the small steps as just small steps, and not freak out about the whole.