Sweet Sixteen

Monday, December 23, 2013

After a full day, I am happy to report I believe I have successfully accomplished a memorable sixteenth birthday celebration for my young lady. 

We managed a practical gift (driver's education), an unexpected gift (the fencing shirt and a very funny book from her brother), a birthday lunch at a favourite restaurant with Mr. A's parents, a homemade dinner with her guest of choice followed by dessert with my extended family. 

Most unexpectedly for her, Mr. A and I surprised her this morning with plans for a special coming-of-age adventure. It will happen later this summer and will include a plane trip out West and a week on her own to pursue her fencing. All possible with generous grandparent support - it's a good thing she comes with three sets of grands and a great-grand!

More details later as I am tired out. A successful birthday includes putting Christmas on the back burner for the day amidst the busiest of Christmas planning times. Christmas dinner with my extended family yesterday kicked off a week of dinners and celebrations and visiting which will continue to a New Year's Party then a girly sleepover. I'm sure I'll be glad to get back to our regular homeschooling schedule. But for now, I'm enjoying seeing the kids celebrate and watching Mr. A enjoy some well-deserved holidays.

Mrs. A. 


Byte Size Blog #7

Monday, December 9, 2013

Today I bring you Byte Size Blog #7. Not being able to figure out bullet points on this silly Blogger App, you'll have to do with very short sentences. 

Christmas stress arrived today. Along with a cold-flu thing. Yay me. 

School work got done today. Mostly. I skipped out on science. 

Today begins the 12 Days of Bond leading up to Christmas. Day 1 is Dr. No with my good friend Mr. Connery circa 1963. I'm looking forward to catching a few more Bonds this week and next. 

Christmas cards are the task of the week. List completed yesterday. Today I created a photo collage of the kids, sent it off to the photo center to be printed and picked the prints up with Mr. A. after work. Tomorrow I'll get cards written and signed. Hopefully addressed shortly thereafter and mailed before Friday. Here's a preview of my silly beastly teenagers who couldn't be bribed to stand still for a nice picture. 

I've completed the Christmas knitting project: a Cowichan sweater for my sister's husband. Well, mostly completed. The bulk of the knitting is done. Of course, I still need to block, assemble, knit the collar on, block again and then it will be completely done. Pics later when it's finally really done. 

This concludes the seventh edition of Clip Blog brought to you by My People Required Way Too Much Chauffeuring Tonight and I Need Another Decongestant Cold Tea. Bah humbug. 

Mrs. A. 


Practice Makes Perfect

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Time and time again I wait until an actual occasion to make treats. Of course, then the pressure is on to have a nice looking finished product.  Pressure = stress = not a fun time for Mrs. A. 

Last week I surprised myself by creating an occasion to practice some cookie making and decorating. I tried out two new recipes that have been sitting in my recipe cabinet for some time now (coughyearscough). 

Citrus Sugar Cookies on the left and Double Vanilla Sugar Cookies on the right. Both from Canadian Living magazine. The citrus cookies were really good. The Vanilla ones, meh. But, I did get to use a real vanilla bean for the first time. Even though the recipe called for the vanilla bean plus 5ml of vanilla extract, we found the flavour fairly bland. The dough was a bit dry and I had a hard time getting it to hold together. 

First up was a meringue wash. I used the stencils and a small paintbrush to apply the wash to - mostly - the parts I wanted it to stick to. Then decorator sugar and voila! Snowflake cookies version the first. 

Then onto more complicated things...

The stencils were something I'd wanted to play with for a while. Since I like the idea of snowflake cookies so much, it would be nice to find out if I like actual snowflake cookies. Geez. It's about time. 

This batch of icing worked out much nicer than the batch I tried at Hallowe'en. It actually worked. I used the stencil to guide piping the design. Then I covered the wet icing in decorator sugar, shaking off the excess into a dish. 

This batch went over fairly well. That was that. So what did I learn? I learned I like decorating cookies when the icing actually works out. I should use the Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe. I learned to bake one day and decorate on another. Decorating takes a while. So, I expect I'll have another go at some of these and we'll have actual snowflake cookies for Christmas instead of just thinking about snowflake cookies at Christmas.  

❤Mrs. A


December Is Here...And Flying By!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

As the blog title indicates, December is here and it feels like it is flying by. I thought I would mention it just in case you didn't see the other 43259868147567 mentions about it in your inter-web travels. 

What does this mean for me?

It means two weeks - and I'm seriously thinking of a third - of hit-the-books school work. All my shortcomings and insecurities as a homeschooling mom are in super sharp focus. I'm balancing retention with 'how much content can we cram in?' 

It means it's December 4 and my Christmas bin still sits on the storage shelf downstairs. The advent calendar is still packed away, for goodness sake. I can't decorate if it's not 'properly' clean (by that I mean Mother-In-Law Is Coming Have You Dusted The Drywall? Clean) and how can I clean properly if the dogs won't stop shedding?!?

It means I am reminded about my distaste for but requirement of the Christmas List. 

It means I'm ready and wanting to climb into a hole and die for want of family politics relief. It is very clear that my extended family is going to continue - year after year after year - to expect things of me that I am not willing to participate in. And I have a hard time saying no. So I try to make a middle ground. I'm not sure why I bother because I don't think it's popular with my family, I constantly worry if the middle ground is good enough and I'm sure the Extendeds are grumbling about it. Can you taste the stress?

All is not lost and doomed, however! There is a Christmas Plan in place! Mr. A and I are on the same page about our holiday celebrations and I think we're on track to pull it off. That is good thing the first. Also, there is a New Year's Eve party with friends to mark the end of our holiday season. That is good thing the second. It's like a there's a finish line to the madness. 

❤Mrs. A. 


Wayne Grady's Emancipation Day

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wayne Grady's Emancipation Day is knocking at my door. Really, the universe is knocking me over the head with it. 

A few months ago this book popped up on my radar. The local talk radio program (and I use local in the national sense...CBC Radio) was taking about Canadian author Wayne Grady and his new book - his first novel. I was interested since he's written 14 books, translated a dozen and edited a number of anthologies...yet this was his first novel? Then I learned that he resides in my backyard. And I mean 'backyard' in the Canadian sense, so within an hour of my home. I announced to my book club that I felt I should read this book. 

Shortly afterward, I was attending a meeting of the local Friends of the Library. It's a newly formed group that I've been volunteering a bit of time with. We managed to have a successful fundraising event in which a popular author visited. While basking in the glow of success, we began throwing names around of authors it would be nice to host. We were very much kidding around until someone said "Wayne Grady" and then someone else said they knew Wayne Grady...the very Wayne Grady who had written Emancipation Day and had been nominated for the Giller Prize this year. Mr. Grady was invited, he accepted and I need to bake cookies for his visit this Friday. 

Just last week a friend stopped by my house at a strange time. She had been out and about when she came across a locally published magazine that made her think of the Girl Child. The magazine featured the profile of a fencer. When flipping through it, I noticed that the topic of the Book Launch column was none other than Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady. 

I was not too surprised this week when a book club friend announced she had a copy of the book. She has no time to read it, so if anyone wants it before Christmas....I figured I should probably snap it up. After all, I'm not sure to what lengths the universe would go to. Sometimes it can be pretty insistent. 

❤Mrs. A. 


So...It Snowed...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We got a bit of snow! It seems it will be joined by another friendly neighbourhood storm currently making its way up the eastern coast....which means that it seems we will just continue to accumulate snow for the foreseeable future. 

I had occasion to think about snow this morning...at 6:30 while I shoveled it. 

We knew this snow was coming. There were weather warnings. So I did the responsible grown-up thing and cancelled our weekly out of town trip to The Girl's fencing lesson. Not a popular move for my parental ranking. Especially unpopular since there was no snow or inclement weather at the time of the decision. 

The Boy - upon hearing of the impending dumping of snow - immediately began negotiations for a 'snow day' should the local school board declare one. This is curious. We don't use schools. We only very loosely follow the school year calendar and that has more to do with sports and jobs than school days. I said there would be no snow day...it was going to be a normal school day for us. This firmly cemented my reduced popularity in the parental polls. 

So, it will be a normal school work day for us. I will be sure to intersperse it with regular shoveling breaks. It's the first day of winter weather and there's no way I'm going to be reelected. 

❤Mrs. A.


Knitting Lately

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It seems that I've been knitting for everyone else and not myself. Of course, that's not totally true, but the sentiment speaks to the feelings I've had about a recent project or two. It could also be a convenient way to say I wish I had more time to knit for myself...which leads to the Why Can't I Be More Organized? conversation that my self and I regularly have.

This photo shows a recently finished piece that was a collaborative effort. It was a 6 month long project filled with stress - both good and bad kinds - and requiring much diplomatic management. The finished object has been passed back to the lovely lady who donated all the yarn and who wishes to raffle it off as a fundraising project. Unfortunately, the Province of Ontario says my group and the intended recipient organization of the fundraising monies are not allowed to have a raffle. This has not pleased the Lovely Lady. So the blanket sits in limbo for a bit as I attempt to move forward through official (legal) channels and the Lovely Lady does what she likes. (Don't ask don't tell, right?)

The blanket also marks the end of my leadership of the local knitting group. I fully expect the group to carry on. Hopefully a new volunteer who can lend some leadership and direction to the group will surface. It was hard for me to step away from my little knitting group. Although, unless cloning myself became an option, I'm not sure how I would have continued... I was not enjoying the group as much as I could have since I was increasingly being asked to teach and fix problems, leaving little time to work on my own projects. 

In September I took my mom to a fibre festival. Being around all sorts of wonderful yarn inspired her to pick out a project while I attended a class. I've just finished knitting up a lovely pink tussah silk scarf for her. I have a pic of it in its bath, but it dried and was packed off nicely before I remembered that a finished project picture would have been nice...

The last Project-For-Others is on very big needles right now. It is a Cowichan style sweater that my sister has commissioned me to knit. It will be a Christmas gift for her husband. Of course, all began simply and straightforward but soon I discovered alterations would be necessary. New skills to learn, math, re-designing graphics, the blending of two patterns:
I'm pretty excited to knit this up. I hope it turns out as nice as it looks in my mind. I must remember what a quick knit this project will be because it is on such big needles and uses 5 strands of pencil roving instead of spun yarn (Briggs & Little County Roving for those who are interested). 

I've decided not to knit for Christmas this year. Instead, I have Winter Kitting ideas percolating in my head. I'll get to them after Christmas, I'm sure. In the meantime, I am avoiding stash tossing and pattern surfing so I don't get distracted from the last of my projects for others. 

Signing off but hoping to be back soon,

<3  Mrs. A.


Testing, Testing...Is This Thing On?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It seems that after an extended period of ignoring updates, the long suffering Mr. A commandeered my iPad and did the updates himself. 

And - who knew?! - Blogger has a fancy new interface for tablet blogging. 

Methinks Melikes. 

Obligatory test photo: 

A somewhat apropos photo/meme as this is where my headspace has been lately. I'm freaking out in my head (which actually is productive for me as I am motivated by adrenaline) at planning our school year. At the same time, I'm trying to be calm and productive and keep a daily routine. 

That's all for now..

<3 Mrs. A. 


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