Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Gathering

We went home for the weekend for a surprise birthday dinner for my gramma's 75th birthday. The drive up was terrible - we drove through snow squalls for about 3 or 4 hours. We were stuck behind 2 plows for a good bit of the way:
Fun stuff.... NOT. At least by the time we hit North Bay it stopped snowing & Saturday was sunny & gorgeous:
A bit chilly with some snow on the ground, but a very nice weekend for a party.
My Auntie Caroline had these "masks" printed up of my grandma's face for the dinner - we all had them on when she arrived at the restaurant:
It was hilarious! She was definitely surprised & we had a great evening. I took some candid shots throughout the night:
What a sweetheart!

My goofy cousin Jeffrey - I didn't notice the cross-eyes until editing these photos!

My brother Matt showing our Auntie Caroline how he drove his busted up car after the moose hit it this summer.

Afterwards, we went to my grandma's for cake & family photos. Here's take 1:
Eddy's not looking!

OK... take 2:
Pat isn't looking! Pat! What the heck?!

Of course we didn't take another photo after that, so I edited Pat's head to look forward. I think it turned out just fine:
Back row: my dad, Auntie Cathy, Jack, pumpa, gramma, Terri-Anne & me
Middle row: John, mom, Auntie Caroline, Uncle Jody, Matt & Pat
Front row: Jaden, Edward, Dustin, Jeffrey & Jeremy

In case you don't know us, the family units are as follows: my gramma & pumpa had 3 girls: Cathy, Cindy & Caroline. Mom (Cindy) & dad had us 3 (Matt, Amanda & John). Auntie Caroline & Jody have Jeremy & Jeffrey. Auntie Cathy is with Jack. My brother Matt married Terri-Anne who had Dustin & Jaden & then they had Edward. Pat's with me.

So that's my family - you can check out my Flickr photostream for more photos & out-takes!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Five

Only one more week until my craft show. I haven't started panicking yet... I'll reserve that for next week!

Here's what I did this week:
  1. Tuesday was the day for midterm evaluations in the course I TA. We (the teaching staff) met with each student one by one to discuss their performance in the lab so far. It's a little intimidating for the students, but very beneficial. Indeed, on Wednesday in lab, everyone was on top of their game: participating enthusiastically, asking questions, showing initiative. Hopefully they'll continue improving throughout the rest of the year.
  2. Remember these? Well 2 of those stacks look like this: And 2 more look like this: I still need to make quite a few more globes before next weekend!
  3. My new moo cards came in! They look GREAT! I started making them into bookmarks that I can give away for free (why yes, I'm copying scientific_culture - now hopefully I can be as successful as her at my show!). Hopefully a big "FREE" sign will attract a crowd (& some sales).
  4. I bought our tickets for the holiday ball the grad student federation is hosting - it's the evening before my craft show... I must remember not to drink too much & set an early alarm!
  5. I listed these lovely flat notecards this morning:
Pat & I are heading up North for a quick visit & a surprise birthday party. Should be fun & rushed - too bad it's the last weekend before my craft show! I'll have to try to take some things with me to work on...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Creative Space

My creative space is finally clear of those custom notebooks it took me too long to finish (thank goodness for the patience of friends!). So here are some photos of the finished books (sorry for the bad photos... they were taken late at night while I was packaging).
This one is by far my favourite. It turned out so well! The fabric is perfect for a notebook & looks great with the chocolate brown ribbon ties. The ribbons are extra long & are attached at the spine so that they can be wrapped around the book a couple times to hold it shut.

This one is the same size (around 8x12") & also has watercolour paper pages:

The following 2 are approximately 6x9" - the first has cardstock pages:
And this one has recycled & new pages:
I really like how this one turned out too. The owl is there to let you know who's book it is & there's also a book plate on the inside cover:
I love how the spine looks with the coloured signatures:
Now I have to concentrate on preparing for my craft show - only a little over a week left!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Item of the day: Morning Dreams

I want a hand-painted silk scarf from silkstory for Christmas. I particularly love this goddess one:
A girl can dream, right?

My Holiday Cookie Challenge (Progress)

I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon in the kitchen baking. I made 3 different kinds of cookies. Once I get started, I just don't want to stop!

First, when flipping through the flyers this weekend, trying to figure out what we needed at the grocery store, I saw persimmons on sale everywhere. I've never had or bought persimmons before (I'm not even sure you can get them back home...), so I had to find out how you eat them. Apparently, they make delicious cookies - so how could I not try them out? Of course I didn't think to pull out my camera before I had the dough made, but I did snap a picture of the pretty orange pulp:
I used this recipe. I know, I know. It isn't a recipe from the Canadian Living cookie magazine I challenged myself to bake through... but how could I not try something new? I'm a sucker for trying new fruit & vegetables in particular.
The dough was silky smooth & the cookies turned out to be moist & flavourful (very similar to pumpkin cookies). I had no problems baking them... though the finished product has a greenish cast that is absent in the raw dough:
A friend told me this is normal, but I wonder why... I did find some recipes that mixed the baking soda into the persimmon pulp first (I didn't do this) - maybe that has something to do with it?

Next I made these Toblerone cookies:
Why yes, the first 2 ingredients are a very large chocolate bar & a pound of butter. For 15 cookies... These are BIG!
Just smush the Toblerone triangle into the round & wrap the dough up the edges:
These also turned out perfectly (with the oven 25F lower than called for):
Decadent - one cookies is definitely more than enough!

Finally, I made some ginger shortbreads.
This recipe called for "crystallized ginger." I found "sliced ginger" that was covered in sugar. I'm assuming they're the same...? But that combined with freshly grated gingerroot really gives these cookies a nice, bold flavour.
I loved how these baked up: one batch in a cake pan. With the parchment paper, they lifted right out. And scoring the square before makes cutting the fingers super easy:
My pan was smaller than the 9" recommended, so they're a bit thick. But that makes them moister than a typical shortbread. YUM!

A very successful baking session if you ask me! Stay tuned for more holiday baking!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Item of the day: Droplet Earrings

This week (and probably for the next few weeks), I'll be showcasing things I want for Christmas - starting with these gorgeous droplet earrings by tqbdesigns:
I have the same pair in a juicy berry tone & wear them often... but I think this lovely charcoal colour would be even more versatile!

Mosaic Monday

Blue rain.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lost.

Sorry I haven't posted anything this weekend - I usually like to keep things happy & fun here. But this weekend has been a bit of a low point. My life is just not where I want it to be... but I don't know where I want to go either. I feel like I should be following my dreams, but I don't have any. Not sure if I lost them or just never had any to begin with...

Je suis perdue.

I just have to get through the next couple of months. Once I have my degree, things will change dramatically. It just seems like I'll never get there... And when I do, then what?

It's a little frightening...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Five

This weekend is my last free one before my craft show. Hopefully, I'll get more done than I usually do on weekends (sleeping in, cleaning up & running around eat up most of my time)... especially since this week wasn't super productive craft-wise. Here's what I was up to:
  1. Fat. I've been getting more fat samples lately, which means I have more experiments to run. Finishing my project up...
  2. I did sew together 3 of 4 coptic notebooks (that have been lingering for too long). Only one left to do - I WILL finish it today! Of the finished ones, this fabric-covered one with ribbon ties is my favourite:
  3. A friend requested some bird ACEOs - so I drew this little guy up yesterday:
  4. Last night I had dinner at my supervisor's with the other TAs. We discussed the students we teach for their midterm evaluations (which is on Tuesday). It's always nice to get together in a non-lab setting!
  5. I listed some new holiday tags - I love this set:
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Creative Space

Just a quick one today: I'm determined to sew these last notebooks before I do anything else. This doesn't help with my motivation though:
I snapped the thread. Arg!

I also have these waiting on my desk for me: They used to be old Christmas cards; they're going to be shiny, sparkly globes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recipe: Ginger Chicken

This recipe comes straight out of my Love Food Thai Cooking recipe book. The only modifications I made were the vegetables I used & how I served the noodles. It was so good though - much tastier than any ginger chicken I've ordered in a restaurant!

Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

2 tbsp peanut oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2" piece of fresh ginger root
2 carrots
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper
handful snow peas (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp soy sauce
handful bean sprouts (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
package of flat rice noodles
4 green onion
4 tbsp fresh parsley

Methods:

1. Chop your veggies & chicken into bite-sized pieces. I cut the onion, carrots & green peppers into thin strips. The ginger is peeled & also thinly sliced. The garlic is minced (with a garlic press) & the snow peas are trimmed. The green onions & parsley are roughly chopped for garnish.

2. Warm the oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic & ginger.
Stir fry for about 2 minutes.

3. Push the veggies aside & add your chicken.
Once the meat is no longer pink, mix with the onion, carrots & ginger.

4. Add the green pepper.
Fry for another 2 minutes - the meat should be pretty much cooked & the carrots should be fairly soft.

5. Add the snow peas, broth & soy sauce.
Gradually bring to a boil, then lower the temperature & simmer for about 5 minutes - the green vegetables should be getting soft, but not overly so.

6. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package. You'll have to soak them in hot or boiling water for 10 to 30 minutes. Once they're cooked, throw them in with the stir fry at the same time as the bean sprouts.
I added about 2/3 of the package to get the desired noodle ratio.
Mix them in & let it warm on low for a few more minutes to allow the noodles & sprouts to warm up & take on some of the flavours of the sauce.

7. Serve sprinkled with green onions & parsley.
Enjoy!

Variations: Feel free to alter the vegetables to your tastes. The recipe only called for the onion, carrots, ginger & a can of bamboo shoots. I thought the green was a nice addition & the sprouts always add a delightful crunch.
The recipe also called for cilantro instead of parsley, but I used what I had on hand & liked it.
The recipe also states 4 tbsp of Thai soy sauce - I reduced the amount because I have a rather strong, generic soy sauce & I'm not a huge fan of the flavour. Go ahead & increase the amount if you wish.

Let me know if you try this out!