Friday, December 31, 2010

Baby Arrival Pool!

I think it is time for a contest, don't you?

We have less than 5 weeks to go until Sprog's due date, and I have had the odd day (like today) where the contractions have been strong enough to have me gasping and holding onto something. When I was pregnant with Willow, we had a huge number of friends and family who had birthdays in July, and everyone was trying to guess whose birthday she would land on. In the end she was born on two people's birthdays - my friend Yoko and GrandBag (the name would take some explaining - she is a friend of my grandmother).

So, my official due date is 2/1/11. Personally, I think I will be going earlier than that - but perhaps that is just wishful thinking. Please put your guess in the Blogger comments field. Please don't use the Facebook comment area for this because I won't be able to track them both - and you won't be able to see if someone else has already chosen that date.

And the prize? Well, if you are a knitter, the prize will be a skein or two of yarn. If you are not a knitter, I will make you something like a hat, sleeveless mitts, scarf, etc. - we can work out what you want/need if you win. The contest will close Wednesday, January 5th at 5pm EST.

Bring on the guesses!


Just a random picture of Willow - I hate to have pictureless blogposts, and the ultrasound tech I had this week was really grumpy - didn't speak to me unless solicited much less print off any pictures.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dad's Rustic Garlic Cheese Bread

Just so you don't think my Mom is the only one in my family who bakes...

Dad's Rustic Garlic Cheese Bread

My Dad made some Rustic Garlic Cheese Bread, then taunted me with pictures. Doesn't he know that is not a very nice thing to do to a pregnant woman? It looks good, though - makes me think I need to make a hearty soup and some bread myself...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Think I Owe My Mom An Apology

Mom, I'm sorry.


I had no earthly clue how time-consuming meat pies and cheese pies were to make. When I think about all the pies I have gobbled down in my 38 years, absolutely oblivious to the effort that goes into them... well, let's just say I feel very, very guilty.

And the crazy thing is I only made a dozen meat pies and a dozen cheese pies - and I am freaking exhausted! Yes, some of that has to do with the pregnancy, but there is a lot of mixing, bending over, and rolling out involved. I can't imagine making enough of these for a family of five plus extended family members like my Mom does. They aren't the prettiest pies, but as my friend Kelly says, they don't have to be pretty - they just have to be edible.

Andrew is going to have a fit when he sees how many dishes I dirtied in the preparation of the pies... hopefully he can be placated by their meat and cheesy goodness...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WiP It Wednesday: Sprog at 34 Weeks

Sprog12.22.10 Sepia

Another week, another ultrasound. This was the fourth in the cycle, and every fourth appointment is a longer one where they measure the baby's limbs, weight, etc. How long was the appointment? I'm not entirely sure - because I fell asleep on the table! I've been on vacation since Monday afternoon and I have been indulging in all sorts of bad behaviour like staying up until 2am reading...

Sprog is trucking along - the ultrasound tech says Sprog is 4lbs 14oz now, and I was told that anything over 5lbs is not really considered premature. Not that I am advocating Sprog making an appearance before the new year, but I have a sneaky suspicion that we will not be going all the way until February 1st. I've been having Braxton-Hicks contractions every day for about a week now - the longest stretch was for about 90 minutes last Friday. I was knitting and catching up on all my documentaries (yes, I'm a nerd - I watch documentaries like some people watch soap operas) and after about 45 minutes I realized these contractions were coming at regular intervals. Hmm... maybe I should start timing these. They were about 6 minutes apart lasting for a minute each for about another half hour, and then they petered out. I mentioned them to Andrew as we were climbing into bed and his eyes just about bugged out.

The other funny thing about today's appointment was that Sprog was going crazy during the ultrasound - so much so that the tech was laughing because you could see the belly moving away from the ultrasound wand. Yep - sounds like one of mine.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jo's Cheater White Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cookies

I came up with these cookies last year quite by accident.  I was in Target and found these Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips in the clearance aisle (which should have given me a clue as to how difficult they would be to find later...) for $1.67 and bought them with no clear plan of how to use them.  As it turned out, I had to make cookies on short notice for Willow's class holiday party - so I added the chips to some Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix... and people couldn't get enough! (Especially my father-in-law!)


You will end up making these over two days (or at least in shifts in one day), so plan your time.  You will start with the baking chips, the cookie mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick (1/2c) of butter.  This isn't a deviation from the regular sugar cookie recipe - the 1 egg and 1 stick of butter are exactly what the package calls for.


As I mentioned above, after that initial find of the baking chips in the Target clearance aisle, I never saw them again.  I did find a few places where you could buy them online, but the price effectively double or tripled when you took the shipping charges into consideration.  Luckily, I was able to find the candy that the chips are made from easily enough, so I bought a few packages at Happy Harry's (a local drugstore chain). 


You need to put a little work into unwrapping the cookies and chopping them up into baking chip sized pieces, but it is so worth the effort.

Add the baking chips to the sugar cookie mix, softened butter, and egg.  Mix together with a spoon.  The mixture is on the dry end - you may need to get your hands in there and knead the dough to incorporate all the butter and egg.  It's a neat feeling, though - the peppermint oil in the candy makes your hands all tingly.

Form about a third of the dough into a log shape on a piece of plastic wrap.

Wrap it up, tuck the ends under, and roll until it becomes a more cohesive, even log.  Repeat with the other two-thirds of the dough.  At this point, I usually keep the dough in the refrigerator overnight - but I think if you were to do it for at least 4 hours, the dough would been firm enough.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, pre-heat your oven to 375'F (again, exactly what the package called for).  Once the oven is pre-heated, slice your logs into 1/4" slices.  You will need to use a very sharp knife to cut through the candy pieces.  Place on parchment-paper lined cookie sheets.

Pop into the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes.  At the 7 minute mark, open the oven to see how well-browned the cookies are (because your oven mileage may vary).  I found these were perfect when I did them for 7 + 2 minutes.  I've made a half dozen batches of these so far, and trust me - it's important to check on the browning - don't just set it for 9 minutes.  Be careful when you open the oven, as the peppermint oil wafts up pretty strongly.

Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a baking rack to cool the rest of the way.

Enjoy!  These are so yummy that it is really hard to believe they come from a mix.  You will get 3-4 dozen cookies from this batch, and at this time of year, both the cookie mix and the baking chips are plentiful and cheap.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Late WiP - Sorry!

Sprog 12.15.10

Sorry for the tardiness - I was trying to wrap up some presents last night that will have to get sent out express mail because I hadn't realized it there were only 10 days left until Christmas. HOW IN BLOODY HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?


Yesterday was full of appointments - OB in the morning, perinatologist in the afternoon. Found out Sprog is still head down, heartrate of 146, and I had lost 3.5 pounds from my last appointment. They seemed surprised by the weight loss, but I wasn't - my previous appointment was in the late afternoon after a big lunch, and the nurse snagged me before I would whip off my winter sweater. At that appointment the nurse chastised me about gaining 5 pounds in 2 weeks, and all I could think was, "No freakin' way did I gain 5 pounds in 2 weeks..." A pound and a half over 3 weeks is much more reasonable.

At the ultrasound in the afternoon the tech told me that Sprog already has a headful of hair - they could see it standing up like a halo on the ultrasound screen (Ah well - Willow started out that way as well - dark and long - but it all fell out when she was 9 months old and grew in blonde and curly). And the nose isn't flat like in the picture - that's a distortion because of how the machine sees contours - this one might actually have my ski jump nose according to the profile shots.

Back to wrapping and mailing...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Due February 2011 Swap Package

My apologies! This post has been sitting in the queue since Friday and I haven't had a chance to add text.

I received my 'Due in February 2011' swap package last week, and to my surprise, my upstream partner this time was my downstream partner from the last swap - Lucy. Lucy lives in the UK, and she sent me these lovelies:


I completely squeed over the card - I absolutely love Licorice Allsorts, and Andrew can't stand them. He won't even kiss me if I have been eating them. I cut the card up into bookmarks to use later - if I can't eat licorice right now (they can jack up your blood pressure if you have hypertension), at least I can look at them. Lucy also included some muslin blankets, some great bright-coloured baby socks, some sweets (which Willow immediately laid claim to), and a beautifully soft tam and pair of booties.

A close up of the cabled booties:


A close up of the tam:


Another close up so you can see the different colour around the brim:


Lucy did a fantastic job with the pom-pom - mine never look that plush or filled out. Thank you, Lucy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WiP It Wednesday

Sprog 12.8.10

Yep, another Sprog ultrasound. One of my co-workers said that Sprog almost looks big enough to come out - no no no! Willow and I were in Carter's earlier this week, and she was frothing over the baby's first Christmas outfits. I had to put a stop to that right away - we definitely don't want Sprog to come out before Christmas.

I do have knitting WiPs also going on right now, but most of them are Christmas presents or birthday presents, so I can't post pictures of them without spoiling the surprise.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Due January 2011 Swap Package Received

I love getting packages in the mail - especially when one is in an exceedingly grumpy mood. The other day I didn't get home until nearly 6pm, it was pouring rain, somebody (ahem, Andrew!) was harassing me about what was for dinner... and there was this package on my steps...

This package is from Nikiana, one of my fellow members in the Due in January 2011 group. Yes, I know I'm not due until February 1st, but since I am straddling two months (and personally, I think I will be delivering in January) I joined both the January and February groups. The more the merrier!

I tried doing a photoshoot of all the neat stuff inside the box... but I had a very nosy cat who decided he needed to be in on the action as well...


I'm kind of curious whether Nikiana has a cat (or a dog) because Lucky was very interested in smelling everything that came out of the box!


My doll is the only thing I have around here that has a baby-sized head, so she got to do the modelling honours.


Willow loved this hat - I think she wants one, too! Oddly enough, she seems very keen right now with wearing matching clothes with Sprog. I'm trying to break it to her that we are not likely to find size 8 and size newborn stuff in the same styles or colours.


Lucky and the stuffy.


Nikiana even included some stuff for Willow (thus making a very happy little girl), including some headbands (she is wearing this one to school today),


a purse (yeah, not sure what is up with that super intent gaze), and


some bracelets that Lucky was certain were for him. He especially liked the purple one with the silver beads. Nikiana also included this baby toy - you pull it down and it vibrates back up, which sent Lucky into a paroxysm of pleasure. We didn't have a cat when we had Willow - somehow I foresee a lot of baby toys becoming cat toys...

Nikiana - thank you! It was a wonderful package and I love everything in it!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sprog Update

Another ultrasound this afternoon, and another lovely picture of Sprog. I don't think I will ever get tired of this!

Sprog 12.210C

I still think that Sprog looks an awful lot like Willow, and have a sneaky suspicion that Willow will have a mini-me on her hands before long. Just for comparison, here is a picture of Willow when she was 5 days old:

Willow 7---1.27.02

This morning was feeling so much pressure in my upper abdomen right below my breasts, and the skin was stretched taut - very uncomfortable. According to the ultrasound technician, Sprog's bum is wedged up high in my abdomen, and Sprog is head down (Thank God!), with her feet down with her head. Look at the ultrasound below - those two small ovals to the upper right of Sprog's head are feet!

Sprog 12.2.10B

I hope Sprog finds a more comfortable position soon - but stays head down!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WiP It Wednesday: The Non-Knitting Version

I have two swap packages that I have to get out the door tomorrow, so I have been frantically trying to get everything finished. These two babies (haha - pun intended!) were the last things to get finished:

Bib clips

Anyone guess what they are?

Maybe this picture will help:

bib clips on doll

They are bib clips - so you can transform any napkin, handkerchief, or washcloth into a bib or a cover-up while nursing. I saw some on Etsy when I was looking for some baby presents, and I thought they would be easy enough to make. Who would have thought that the most difficult part of it all would have been finding the actual mitten clips! It may have been neater to do these with a sewing machine... but I don't have a sewing machine, so I whipped them up by hand. I hope my swap partners like them - I know I do - and I have one set of clips left so I can make a bib clip for Sprog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And, I'm Done!

Okay, this wasn't so painful. I know that my Dad (WHO HASN'T POSTED A COMMENT THIS ENTIRE MONTH!) will probably say, "Then why don't you do this more often?"

Gah. Life gets in the way. Blogging every day in November is easy because A) it is one of my favourite times and seasons of the year, B) my birthday is smack dab in the middle, and C) it is so colourful that I can't wait to go outside and take pictures.

I do want to blog more often. I recently had to change my blogroll over from Bloglines to Google Reader, and it caused me to have to review the blogs I had been following. I came to the sad realization that many blogs I used to read and enjoy just aren't very active at all anymore - and that is if at all. I know people grow up, move on, get married, have babies, etc., etc., etc. Such is life. I'm not a big commenter on people's blogs - so maybe some of these bloggers didn't realize how much their writing affected other people.

Thanks to everyone who has left comments this month - I do get a kick out of seeing what other people have to think about what I write. I think that Odie deserves a frequent commenter award - for someone I've never met, he's left an awful lot of nice comments on my blog. Thank you - it makes blogging frequently that much more rewarding.

Monday, November 29, 2010

How Fat Is My Cat?


Well, he doesn't fit into the cat food bag...

That being said, Lucky isn't huge - he's a long tomcat and weighs about 16 pounds. We had him on diet cat food at one point and he slimmed down to 13 pounds - but then developed crystals in his bladder. At that point we had to switch to special moist food and limit his (also special) dry cat food to once a day. A fat, healthy cat is preferable to a skinnier one who pees blood (trust me, that was scary!).

Lucky snuggling A

Lucky is a lapcat by nature - if anyone sits on the sofa, he comes running up to claim the primo spot - and come to think of it, other than is 15 minute crazy freak out most nights, that is about all the exercise he gets. He loves the laser pointer, but those tend to go missing in our house. Trader Joe's paper grocery bags are great fun as well (he chases them around the kitchen and then hides in them). Does anyone have any other ideas on how to exercise your cat? I would love to hear them!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Maybe my Magic Chef bread machine isn't so dead after all. I started thinking about this last night - and when I thought it died last week, I had been trying to make pizza dough. I normally set up my bread machine in the sunroom because I really don't have the space for it in my kitchen. However, Pizza day was very chilly - I think the room was so cold, that the heat generated by the bread machine to rise the dough wasn't enough to counteract the cold in the room - so my pizza dough didn't rise.

So, I decided to experiment.

I woke up early this morning, so I lugged the bread machine into the kitchen, put it in front of a heating vent so it would warm up (it was only 29'F this morning). Once at a more temperate room temperature, I set the dough up for these Cinnamon Rolls in the machine, and plugged it into my crowded kitchen wall socket.

The dough rose! It was all the way to the top of the glass when the dinger went off.

Here's a pic of the nascent cinnamon rolls first put together:


And after the dough had proofed:


And out of the oven and glazed:


Yummy! So, maybe there is a bit of life in my machine yet. I think a new one will be on the horizon in the next year, but this one will do for now - I will just have to remember to set it up in the kitchen rather than the sunroom.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mystery Plant - Need Some Help

My father-in-law was helping his neighbour move some bushes in his yard, and the two of them came across this bush, and no one knows what it is:


I can say with certainty that it is not an azalea - my father-in-law has over 100 azaleas in his yard, so if there is a plant he could recognize with ease, it would be an azalea. You can see that the leaves are changing colours as well.

Here's a close up of one of the leaves:


Does anyone have any idea of what this plant (ha! I wrote pattern at first!) is? If so, please let us know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My mother-in-law is making Thanksgiving dinner, but I offered to bring the pies for dessert. There will only be five of us, so I didn't need to make multiple pies - so I decided on two - an apple pie (because I am getting really good at making apple pies!) and a pecan pie as it is my father-in-law's favourite pie.

One problem, though - I've never made a pecan pie before. I looked on Tastespotting which really has become my go-to website whenever I want to find a recipe, searched for 'pecan pie,' and found this blog: Sugar and Spice by Celeste (her recipe is at that link). It seemed simple enough, and oddly enough, I had all the ingredients except for the pecans. Can one make an almond pie? I had a one pound bag of almonds in the pantry.

So, I whipped up my pie crust, let it chill, rolled it out for the pan, mixed my ingredients, let it bake for 70 minutes, and voila!

Pecan pie for Thanksgiving

It certainly looks like a pecan pie, doesn't it?

Pecan Pie Close Up A

The pie bounced back when I tapped the top like Celeste said it would, so I let it cool for 2 hours as per her instructions, and was happy that it solidified quite a bit in those two hours.

Pecan Pie Close Up B

I wish I had a smell-o-vision camera, because let me assure you, the pie smelled heavenly! Unfortunately, I had to put it away and keep it for our Thanksgiving meal. That, and put the cat in the basement because he was much too interested in the pie...

And just for giggles, I caught this view when I was trying to frame up the pie for the first shot - so now you know what *I* see when I look down!

Pecan Pie and belly

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you are able to spend the day with friends and loved ones, have a fabulous meal, and truly be gracious and thankful for all the blessings we have in life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WiP It Wednesday


Sprog counts as a work in progress, right?

We had a hard time getting a clear shot of her today - Sprog's hands were up and together as if she were praying.  That dark spot near Sprog's left eye is just a cross section of her hand.  The ultrasound tech told me when they do the 4D scan they sometimes are too close to a body part, so it comes across as an empty spot on the screen.  Sprog has turned around and is currently in a breech position, so I hope that changes soon and Sprog goes back down to a head down position.  Sprog is also weighing in at 3 pounds - yay!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finished Objects: Baby Set for Cheryl

My co-worker, Cheryl, has a baby girl arriving about a month before my baby is due - and without going into her specifics, this baby has been a long, hard time in coming. Normally for my co-workers I will just donate to the gift cards or maybe make them a baby hat - but I really felt the need to make something special for Cheryl - and even doubly so since our babies will be born so close together.

Cheryl's Baby Set:

Set for Cheryl's baby

The Cardigan Particulars:

Yarn: TLC Baby in Color 8322 Powder Yellow
Needles: Hiya Hiya bamboo 16" circulars and dpns, size 4
Pattern: Sam, Sadira, and Katie by Cabin Fever (Rav Link) - in the Sam (plain style) in size 0-3 months.
Modifications: None

Cardigan for Cheryl's baby

The Booties Particulars:

Yarn: TLC Baby in Color 8322 Powder Yellow
Needles: Size 3 Knitpicks Harmony 5" sock dpns
Pattern: One Strand Bootie by Carole Barenys (Rav Link)
Modifications: I decided to leave off the tie, and I changed up the welt pattern to make it flow better.

Booties for Cheryl's baby

The Hat Particulars:

Yarn: TLC Baby in Color 8322 Powder Yellow
Needles: Hiya Hiya bamboo 16" circulars and dpns, size 4
Pattern: Made it up. I originally was going to use a sock yarn based baby hat pattern with a rolled brim, but casting on with this yarn gave me a hat that would practically fit Willow. So, I ripped it out, cast on 80 stitches, knit for 12 rows, did 2x2 ribbing for 8 rows, then back to stockingette until the hat looked long enough, then started to decrease. I wanted Cheryl to be able to fold up the ribbed part so it fit a newborn, then unfold it to fit an older baby.
Modifications: I guess you could say the entire hat was a modification...

Hat for Cheryl's baby

Would I make these patterns again? The sweater, definitely - it was a very easy top down pattern, and the pattern comes in sizes up to 18 months, so I can see myself making this a few times over. The booties? Well, not for a newborn, despite the pattern claiming to be a newborn size - they are larger than I expected them to be, and I used yarn and needle size called for (no gauge is given for the pattern). The pattern is very easy, however, and I liked the fact that they are seamless.

Okay - now to finish something for my baby!