Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Four Sleeps!

Only four sleeps until the big day! Our village has snowy trees::

The presents are wrapped {we went with a red and white theme this year ~ using a lot of brown craft paper, a bit of red and white paper from Ikea, and some baker's twine left over from the wedding crafts}::

And there's a steady rotation of Chieftains on the iPod::

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Citrus

This week our Sunday was a bit busier than last!

A batch of grapefruit marmalade was made for the stockings, although I'm a bit worried that it didn't jell. If that's the case, I'll be looking for some creative uses for grapefruit syrup ~ perhaps over vanilla ice cream? I remember having this same worry in the past, and things have always worked out. Fingers are crossed.

After the marmalade it was on to candied rinds, or rather the gummy worm candies according to Calder ::
So far I've made some lemon and grapefruit rinds. This was my first time making the lemon rinds, and now there's no going back, they are the tastiest gummy worms ever. I use Martha's fool-proof recipe, and they turn out perfect every time.

Ca$h was busy too, rather than sleeping the day away, he stole the cat's seat by the window, and did a bit of squirrel watching...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Soundtrack

Oh people, it's time to bring the music back!

It sure has been a dry couple of weeks around here, all of that traveling didn't leave much time for listening to new stuff {it's hard to get pandora while in flight, and in Germany they're still listening to David Hasselhoff}. Now that it's Christmas I can play the good stuff that I try to ration all year, but before I smother you in the Chieftains and George Winston, I have something fun and new to me.

Song: Christmas in the Ashram
Artist: Chris Rosser
Full lyrics can be found at the bottom of this page. My favorite lines:
The guru must be out of town
There's tinsel in Vishnu's crown
Someone hung a Christmas star
From one of Shiva's extra arms

I love Chris' version, but couldn't find one that I could share, so here you have it performed by Tom Prasada

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Sunday

It got a bit lazy around here yesterday afternoon::

I had plans to bake some cookies and finish up a few presents, but found myself under a pile of Calder and Ca$h! Luckily my hands were free to work on a knitted Christmas gift, and the computer was within reach to catch up on Bones!

Hope your weekend was just as relaxing*

Friday, December 09, 2011

Decking the Halls

The ribbon candy is in the tree:: A trick I learned from my mom. It's fun to tell people they can eat the ornaments, and even more fun to catch Calder taking a nibble!

Above the hutch, and near our Sibley's bird poster, is the little village of bird houses:: Another great idea from Design Sponge. I picked up the birdhouses at Micheal's, and drilled holes in the back for Christmas lights:: Since my village is placed high in the room, I drilled the holes near the bottom of the houses, so that you can't see the lights when you look up at the village. I used some old coffee sacks for the burlap surface. I love this little village, and think it's going to make an annual appearance, but next year it might be fun to add some sparkly white snow and icicles to the roofs!

A couple of grey army blankets, saved from our wedding, have become the tree skirt:: I'm loving the rustic yet cozy texture.

And finally, we've started a little village above the kitchen cabinets:: I think we need some Christmas trees and maybe a streetlamp or two to really set the scene...

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Hey! Ho!

It's been a whirlwind of a month. The big picture: there were three weeks away from home, and one crazy week at home.

You know about the work trip in Germany, but I forgot to show you some of my fun purchases. The theme here is enamel. Somehow I never noticed all of the enamel goods available in Germany shops, but this trip they really caught my eye.

I picked up a couple of white enamel cups, planning on keeping them in the van for our road-trip camping. Even though they aren't the most sensible for winter camping because of the lack of insulation, I couldn't resist! The green sugar container and pitcher are for the house. C loves using the picture when he's steaming milk for morning coffees, which warms my heart and cup. And finally, possibly my most favorite purchase of the trip ~ that's an enamel lunch container on the left. It has a rubber seal and tight locking lid ~ perfect for preventing leaks as I bike to and from work!

Guess how you spell/say enamel in German? It's the original email!

You also know about the new four-legged addition to our home. But I never told you how we found him.

We have to thank these guys::
That's my sister Kris and her BF, Ryan. I think they're each other's bff, and they're the proud owners of this pup, Dutch::

Don't let that sleeping shot fool you, she was wiped after a weekend of hiking and camping {she had a lot of hikers to keep track of}. Dutch is an active and uber smart Australian Cattle Dog. In addition to Dutch, they like volunteer as a foster home with their local shelter, and that, my friends is how Ca$h came into our lives. He was their latest foster pup, and they realized that he was just too good to let go. C and I weren't actively looking for a dog at the time, but we knew we wanted one, and we're smart enough to know that you don't let a good one go! We also have Ryan to thank for the creative spelling of Ca$h's name, I guess Ryan's the dog-father.

Here are the two pup bffs together::

And look, some knitting! While we were out on the walk, I noticed that Kris and Calder were wearing some of my knits gifts. Warms my heart as much as the steamed milk in email!

And the hats bring me to week three, because unfortunately during all of the fun and adventure of Thanksgiving C's hat was left in CA... in fact, he had already left it in the Bay Area by the time those pictures were taken, so now I'm scheming up a new one in time for Christmas.

Speaking of knits, the two projects in this post have traveled with me from place to place. I'm happy to report that both are almost done, but have to stay under wraps until Christmas!

So, that brings me to this past week. A week spent in all-day meetings, many in rooms without windows. At night my brain was a zombie, but I was still able to fit in a good amount of holiday knitting. Along with the secret projects, I put together some jingle-bell garland. I tried to take some evening photos in the dark hotel:: Um yeah. This was an easy and fun project. I'll give you more details and better photos soon!

Wow, it was fun to catch up! But now? The next month is going to be spent at home! I have plans for decorating, baking, and of course, a bunch of present crafting. Let the holiday fun begin!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fun was most definitely had by all...

Of course there was a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

This was followed by the largest Christmas tree expedition to date::

How many people does it take to pick the perfect tree? Seven it is ~ three for doing the serious work of choosing, cutting and carrying, and four for causing trouble.

Throughout the snowball fight, I stayed cozy in a combination of tried and true knits:: That's my first and most favorite owl sweater paired with a woolly hat that I made last winter. I promised a pattern for the hat and realized I never delivered... it's on my to-do list.

There were challenging {uber challenging if you know this group} games of Monopoly::

And we rounded out the week with a bit of sledding::
Usually we're struggling up the sledding hill through a few feet of snow, but not this week. The snow was shallow and rock-hard forming a crazy fast track with a jump, making each run equally terrifying and exhilarating.

I hope your holiday was full of fun and smiles*

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Hello from sunny California! We're out here for a bit of Thanksgiving fun.

As I was hopping on the plane, I remembered these photos that I took on my way out the door to Germany. It's the mundane, but oh so important, extra items that I pack to make long travels comforting. And if you're interested in some more exciting travel posts, follow my sister's writing as she travels around Thailand.

The basics:: I always pack some Emergen-C packets - they're powdered drink mix full of vitamins, minerals, and a bit of fizz (like alma seltzer). I figure the extra vitamin C is always good when confined to cramped quarters with a bunch of strangers, and having the flavored drink mix helps to make any water-fountain water more palatable. Along with this I carry any empty water bottle. A few Cliff or Luna bars always go in my bag ~ on some trips I don't need them, on other trips, like the last one to Germany, I'm surprised by how quickly I go through them. A snack bar can really come in handy when flight schedules change and you don't have enough time to grab food in the airport. They're also great when you land in a foreign country late at night {or on a Sunday in Germany} and find most businesses closed. And finally, chocolate.

The meals:: I'm not opposed to eating in the airport, and sometimes it can be fun and delicious {I just had a fantastic salad full of veggies, avocado, and almonds on our layover in Phoenix}, but when I know that my travel is going to span several meals, or don't want to fork over the $$$, packing a meal is the way to go. Remember that the "no liquids and gels over 3oz" rule applies to food too, so I veer away from anything slightly gel-like {no yogurts, soups, etc.}. My favorite stand-bye is a bean salad. I picked these up at Wegmans, and cooked up some quinoa to go with them. So easy, filling, and delicious. On our Saturday flight, I skipped packing a meal, but packed a big slice of my mom's carrot cake - it was hearty enough to substitute for breakfast until we found lunch on our layover.

The entertainment:: I never travel without some project to keep me busy. Usually it's two projects so that I can switch them up if I'm bored, and so that I have plenty to keep me busy if travel plans change or are delayed. I always make sure that one is small enough for a plane so that I don't disturb my neighbors, and I try to stick to mindless projects that are difficult to mess up when I'm exhausted and jet-lagged.

Those are my travel necessities, what about yours? If you're hopping on a plane this holiday season, I hope stay well fed and entertained!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Johnny or Money?

Meet our new buddy, Cash!

About the pup::
~ he's about six months old
~ he's a mutt, a mix, a heinz 57, we don't know what he is
~ he's super gentle and calm for being a puppy, but put a squirrel in front of him and you can barely contain the crazy
~ he may have gotten into the cat litter once or three times {we finally bought another gate to keep him out}
~ tipping the scales at 45 pounds or so, he fancies himself a lap dog and will crawl right up the moment you sit down

About the name::
~ he came with it
~ we don't know whether it's short for Johnny Cash or for Cash Money {he is from Philly after all}
~ to keep up appearances, we're assuming his first name is Johnny, but to cover our bases, he goes by Ca$h
~ he comes when we call it

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A day in Berlin

Thursday was free of meetings, so I bundled up, and headed out for a walk across Berlin, taking pictures along the way. The good: This post is full of pictures! The bad: It may take a while to load.

Getting to the city required a walk past the lake::

And through the woods::

To the most deserted-looking train station ever::

So deserted that I wasn't all that surprised when a fox strolled through like he was making his daily rounds::

I would have thought that I was in the wrong place if it weren't for the fresh cigarette butts near the bench, a clear sign that someone recently waited for a train... at least I hoped that's what they were waiting for::

Once on the train, I love to get a sneak peak at the German allotment gardens {this picture doesn't show just as awesome and neatly maintained the allotments are, but the wikipedia link provides a few more shots}::

I hopped off the train near the Berlin zoo, and peaked in at the animals as I walked along its perimeter::

I soon left the zoo and took off through the Tiergarten, once hunting grounds where fox was prey::

I continued through the center of the Tiergarten::

And then found a nice bench for lunch::

I walked through the Brandenburg Gate::

And continued towards Mitte, the central borough of Berlin, passing by the Berlin Cathedral along the way::

Once in Mitte, it was time for a rest. After the long walk, I need both a bathroom and internet access...enter Starbucks, definitely not a truly German experience, but it was fun to order a "Lebkuchen Latte" and comfortably relax before heading back out for some shopping::

***the picture taking stopped for a few hours while I visited some of my favorite {and some new to me} shops for a few stocking stuffers****

By the time I filled my bags with goodies, the sun had set and it was time to make my way to the evening's hotel. I passed through the market at the Hackescher Markt Station::

I picked up some raspberries for an evening snack, and then headed into the train station for one more ride::