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. 


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