Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010... Hello 2011!

Well, this is it... the last day of 2010.
Do you ever think "where was I ten years ago?"...?
I do.
And the memory of those moments
is what fuels me forward right into another brand new year.
What will lie ahead
is for each and every one of us to decide
and make it happen
and try to accept what can not be controlled.
I reckon that's what life is all about, right?

In a lighter tone,
today's also my 100 blog post.
It suits it well I think, to finish the year with post number one hundred...
I've been busy, getting myself ready for the new job training,
getting a little time off since in a while,
and just to relax a little bit
I've been sewing and sewing hexagons... still have to do quite some serious sewing till my project is done,
but here's a small peek of what's looking like.

I wish you all an awesome
New Year of 2011
and I'll see you all
next year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Day After Christmas

On Sunday morning
we woke up
to this beautiful Winter Wonderland here in East Tennessee.

The perfect Christmas landscape,
which is not very common to happen here during Christmas season.
The reverse of the coin is that it's really cold!
The snow has started to melt yesterday,
but the shade spots are really icy now,
and it makes it an hazard just to try to go out on the deck.

I hope you all had a very merry time,
and I also wish you a wonderful New Year for 2011.

As for me,  it was a bitter-sweet time,
with my mind drifting most of the time
into more happy times
and also into very very sad moments.
As some of you know,
J passed way last August  and my mind and heart
kept going to places where I wish I never had to be.
I did do my best, I even cooked a little bit,
and it was nice the girls coming over and sharing gifts.
And of course it was very nice
to talk to my sweet aunts back in Europe.
Since both my parents have also passed years ago,
it feels good to hear them say
"We miss and love you very much".
And of course, my son and my sister and brothers also called,
and it was a very nice Christmas gift from all of them.

This New Year for me is looking in fact like a new year.
I've been dealing, since August,  with all kinds of situations
as you all can understand.
But so far everything seems to be getting along,
and I'll be starting a job the very first of the year.
It will be very new to me
(different from my teaching career that's for sure)
and I'm excited and truly nervous about it.
It will be only for the weekends,
but the best part is that I'll do it from home.
As you can see bellow,
these will be my job tools:
a secure phone land line,
a pair of headsets,
note pads, pencils and pens,
 and of course the computer.
I'll be starting my training January 2nd
and my effective first day on the job will be January 15.
As you might have guessed
I'll be an over-the-phone-interpreter
for a prestigious language services company here in the USA.
These are auspicious news for the starting of the new year
and I'm glad to share it with you.

Stay safe and warm and try to enjoy the beauty of the white stuff,
tough so many people are now having a real bad time
dealing with all the negatives of this so now called a huge blizzard,
specially in the Northeast of the country. 
I'll see you all shortly!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas Eve already!

It's Christmas Eve already.
And tough my mind keeps taking me back in time
and relieve past Christmases over and over,
I still feel the present season spirit.
Yesterday I've finally finished the last Christmas presents.

Some fuzzy crochet beanies/hats which I think came out alright,
different sizes and colors,
and some texture to it too.
Also yesterday
I baked some more cookies
and prepared the artichoke and spinach dip for Christmas day
(just to be sure I'll have the time to do whatever I need to),
since the girls are supposed to come by the 25th.

Last Sunday evening I went to see my niece's Christmas play 
and once again it took me right down memory lane,
specially those years as head teacher at the Community Kindergarten Center.
Back to my niece's play,
it was really pleasant but what I've enjoyed the most
was her contentment and joy to see me there.
She played one of the chickens and
I made the chickens costumes for the play.
That barn had a bunch of animals, don't you think?

It is a very small church yet very nice and somewhat naif,
and that's the beauty of it, I think.
Plus, my niece is a very nice young girl,
and through the years and not so easy times,
she has been there with me and J,
telling me about her girlie stuff, asking me for help
with school projects and so on, 
thus allowing me a so needed distraction
from my daily all the same routines and worries,
helping me to focus on something different for a little while.
And above all
giving me the sense I was needed and loved.
Merry Christmas to you, sweetie!,
and for you all also,
have a very Merry Little Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Hassle Christmas Cookies Recipe

A few years ago I was given a recipe
for some very tasty and no hassle Christmas cookies.
I really like them, not only because they are really good
but also because they are very easy to make.
And plus, the dough can be made in advance and kept in the freezer
till it's time to bake.
That's what I did today.
Last week I had made the dough and froze it.
Last night I got out half of it and put it in the fridge.
And this morning I baked my cookies.
For those of you searching around
for a quick and easy recipe for Xmas,
here it goes.
For the ingredients, you'll need:

- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of softened butter or margarine
- 1 3/4 cups solid shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 8 1/2 cups flour

In a big bowl mix together the sugar, butter, shortening, salt and vanilla
(I recommend to use a really big bowl and electric mixer,
I've used my Kitchen Aid, because it will be really full).
When everything is well blended, add the egg and blend well again.
Then, slowly and carefully, start adding the flour,
one cup at a time and mixing well in between additions.
The dough will be very thick and the bowl really full.
Cut wax paper in rectangles,
big enough to hold a log of dough
(for this amount of dough I got six logs with about 10" each (length).
Divide the dough in 6 portions
(one portion for each wax paper rectangle).
By wrapping the wax paper around the dough and helping with your hands, form a nicely shaped log
(don't forget to tap each end to make them look prettier).
When you're happy with the log shape, wrapped it around the wax paper
and put it aside.
Do the same for all the dough portions.
Now, you have to refrigerate the dough logs,
at least for about a couple of hours
(like I mentioned before, I've froze mines and later thawed them in the fridge).
When you are ready to bake, get one log from the fridge
and slice it
(about 1/2 inch thick slices).
Arrange them on the cookie sheet
(they won't spread out, so they can be placed quite close to each other). Then, with your thumb, make a indention on each of the cookies.
Place in the preheated oven (350 Fahrenheit) for about 10 minutes
(they should be very lite in color).
Let them cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing.
You'll need:
- 2 cups powder sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
(add the water little by little and check for consistency,
you don't want it too runny)
- food coloring of your choice

Mix everything till blended and smooth.
With a small teaspoon, pour a little bit of icing
on each indention on the cookies
(see?, now you know what the thumb holes were for...).
Don't pour too much or it will run down the cookie.
Let it solidify for a bit.
Put it in a pretty tin,
or pack it in gift recipients
for a Christmas stocking stuffer or gift.
They are yummy!
Enjoy, and I'll see you all later!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas

 I want to wish you all,
my readers, my followers,
my friends, my family,
a very
Merry Little Christmas
this Holiday Season!

Canned Xmas gifts: pickled beets in a jar

Christmas is less then a week away,
and I bet that some of you, like me, are still struggling
to have all the shopping and the gift wrapping
and all the handmade gifts ready on time...

I always like to make some of my Christmas gifts,
as I've been telling you about lately,
but sometimes it doesn't come easy to mind
"what could I make for this person?".
Well... today I made something
I think it will be perfect for a couple of my gifts...
I remembered my mom used to make pickled beets
(which I just so much like)
and I happened to know that some recipients for my gift list
also really like pickled beets!
So... I spent part of this morning canning.

And I thought I would share it you,
maybe some of you can use this idea, right?
This is what you'll need:

- 2 cups of beets, thin sliced (or cut in small dices)
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt

This is how to do it:
Start by boiling the beets. Let cook till tender.
Strain and dip the beets in cold water after they're cooked.
Peel and thin slice (or dice if you'd prefer).
Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Add the sliced beets and bring it to a boil again.
Meanwhile, have your canning jars duly sterilized and ready.
Fill the jars with the beets, insert the lids and put them back  
in your canning pot till the water starts boiling again.
Remove the jars, seal and let cool.
Embellish the lid with a seasonal square of fabric,
a pretty ribbon and a gift tag,
and here it is:
a homemade delicious pickled beets jar!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A cat's quilted mat and a beanie, and Xmas trees and... let it snow!

Between the many things
in my to do list for these last days
there was a small easy project for Baby, my cat.
If you remember the pics from her favourite spot,
at the front of the heater,
there was a small quilted rug for her to lay on.
Well, because she's almost outgrowing it, it was time for a new one.
And here it is,
quilted with extra bating for warmth,
flannel top and back,
 edges serged,
super super warm and fluffy.
Tough the fabric print  would be more adequate for a puppy
(I didn't had a cat print material),
honestly, I don't think she minds it.
Actually, she loves it!

Another quick project,
accomplished within a couple of hours while watching TV,
a fancy new crochet beanie,

perhaps ending up as someone's stocking stuffer!

I still have a few more projects in the forge
and I'll let you know about later on.

Switching gears,
one evening last week 
I went to town to see the Christmas Tree lights at the TVF
(Tennessee Valley Fair).
I've tried my best to get good pics,
but since we didn't stop it was kinda hard
to get a good shot from inside a car in motion

(eh eh, good excuse for a not so good photographer, right?).
Anyway, even if they are not clear,
we can still feel the spirit of the season!  
No kidding,
it was very pretty, specially the trees inside the lake
and the pirate ship, 
and I've certainly enjoyed the ride.

And finally,
the storm we have been hearing about since last week
finally made its way to East Tennessee.
So far, it's not that bad,
tough when I opened the door yesterday early morning
the snow just blew inside! 
Brr... it's very cold out there,
specially on the front part of the house
(because during winter time the sun never reaches the front).
 It was a fair amount of snow
but tough I had planned to gear up and go out and build a snowman,
I got caught with something else and never made it.
But the pic collage bellow will allow you to check it out on your own.
We might even have a white Christmas this year!
 I'll see you all later!