I LOVE that “aaarrrrggghhh” is my most used category. . .

Yup. Thanks, Category Cloud, for summing up my life so beautifully. I was happy until the post I was writing decided to vanish after I tried to add a link . . . AAARRRRGGGHHH indeed. . .

Anywho – I’ll try to recapture what was lost through the judicious application of that thing called “memory”. I know this is strange for you, Dear Internet, so bear with me.

First off, I made a totally new recipe (for me) last night (between work and singing, and then after singing too). And there are photos. Which you won’t see until I’ve tried one of the items I baked and decided how I feel about it. And after other people have eated them and told me if they are any good or not. I will say that custard was involved, and said custard was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. My dad agrees, but I really don’t know if that’s an endorsement that will carry much weight for you. Especially when I tell you that my dad? If it’s not too vinegary for him, he likes it and eats several portions of it until it is gone. And no, he’s not fat. He’s not even that unhealthy (though, there was a recent heart-health scare, that has made him realize that he can’t eat like a 20-year-old forever – damn you cholesterol!). For which I am daily annoyed. Damn you, hormones!

I have a cute bunny knit up (with cute wee knitted carrots!) that I need to remember to photograph for your viewing pleasure too. So expect custardy things and bunnies in your future!

I was also writing about how “productive” my day is going today (as evidenced by this blogging that I’m doing currently). Though, I do own that the bulk of productivity for me today lies in the Spoonflower (check out my blog roll thingy, cause links, they won’t work. . . dumb computer) searching I’ve done. You should see my list of “OMG!!! SOOOOOOOO CUTE!! I WANTS IT!!!!!!!” fabrics that is steadily growing. The number of times my clicker has hovered, whistfully/longingly/anticipatorially/tentatively, over that “Buy Now!” button. Because, for some reason, print on demand fabric isn’t all that cheap (it’s not unreasonably priced for the quality of fabric they seem to carry, but it’s still pricy in comparison to the discount online stores I frequent. [Aside: Remind me to tell you about the plaid fabric I fell in love with on Waechter’s online store. Not a discount store, that one. Oh well.] Though, I (proud/sad to say) have not purchased anything from them (i.e. Spoonflower). YET. . . Cause, topiary fabric? medieval besitary fabric? mushrooms? sea creature “paisley”? knitting/sewing/baking novelty fabrics (APRONS! OH THE APRONS!!!)? pigeon paisley!?!?!!??? OCTOPUS paisley? constellations? “SQUIDAMASK”???!!!??? and SKIRT PATTERN FABRIC?????? YES PLEASE! I’d be linking to all of these gems, except, as metioned above, LINKS DON’T WORK HERE RIGHT NOW!! sigh.

Not that I’m excited or anything. . .

Anyroad – Spoonflower, it is awesome (and no, I’m not being paid to say that. Notice the lack of specific advertisers?). And I will eventually make a yard or two (or five) of these beauties mine own. And even if they only end up being used as facing/pocket bags (like to make pockets, not purses. though purses could work too, come to think of it)/linings, they will make me happy. And that’s what matters, isn’t it? Might as well do what you can to make yourself happy in this life (without negatively impacting others, of course), cause it’s never long enough, is it.

My life is pretty full right now, so I think I’ll type out a handy-dandy bullet point list for you, Dear Internet, of all the up-coming projects on my plate. In no particular order, the ones that come to my head are:

  • Solar system mobile (for a tiny new person who’s just joined us here on Earth), using MochiMochi’s Teeny-Tiny earth pattern as inspiration. The Sun is taking for bloody ever, and I’m not even trying to get it in scale. sigh. Mecury and Pluto both only took a couple of  minutes though, so I guess it balances out a bit.
  • Work on my CV and cover letters for several jobs that have come up that I want to apply to in the next couple of weeks
  • Knit up the Teknica gloves (for me, cause I’m that selfish) from the Winter 2011 Knitty Magazine (huh. should link to that in my blog-links-thingumy) – you use conductive thread in the thumb and forefinger, so that YOU CAN HAVE WARM HANDS AND SMART PHONES TOO in the wintertime. Since it is finally getting a little Winter-y up here in the Great White North
  • Sew up two new skirts from remnants (i.e. the FOUR extra yards I got. Cause it was such a good price. . .) of the wool/silk blend herringbone suiting I used as a trim on my Fancy Dress for the wedding I attended this past Fall (have I shown you photos of said Fancy Dress? I forget. I’ll check on that and get back to you): one pencil skirt, and one wrap skirt
  • Sew up a new dress, possibly using the Coffee Date Dress pattern so generously made available on The Selfish Seamstress’ site (see my blog list-roll do-hicky over there on the right-hand side of the screen. Cause, links. . . Remember?) or one of the patterns from the Built by Wendy Dresses book (do an amazon/chapters search, cause I’m lazy. and . . . do  I need to say it?), out of this great large-scale check (in soft blues, greys, and greens) dupioni silk I got for like half off (yaaaayyyy! discount fabric web stores!)
  • Silk blouse (you should see the colour – blue-ish teal-y awesomeness!) from the Colette Sencha pattern
  • Clean my bedroom. Cause it’s making my OCD soul scream in agony. Constantly. So annoying
  • Bake a tasty treat for a singing rehearsal with the Valrhona cocoa I got for Christmas. Lucky girl, or what? I’m thinking the Brownie Cut-Out Cookies, for ice cream sandwiches. Cause nothing is better for singing than chocolate AND dairy products!!
  • Prepare for our first Wednesday night octet. And It Is Going To Be Awesome. That is all.
  • (not actually all, sorry to psych you out there)
  • Make myself (see?? so selfish. . .) a stuffed elephant (same base pattern as the Upcoming Bunny), cause it’s been calling out to me for the past five years and I’ve YET to make her. Which is just rude of me, when you think about it.
  • Look for a new sewing machine, for when I move out. Cause the Huskvarna, it is not the awesome, and why should I get to take it with me when I move out anyway? My sister sews a bit too, so that would be extra-selfish. A helping I’m not ready to take (i don’t kow if your brain is going to follow the logic of that, as my brain is notoriously weird when it comes to logical progressions, but I’m leaving it in cause it makes me happy). Looking at the economical Bernette line from Bernina, but I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve tested one out.
  • Start on that whole find-out-what’s-going-on-in-my-innards medical testing thing I’ve been meaning to get the ball rolling on. . .  

So yeah. . . That’s me for the next little while.

Maybe I’ll start working on finishing uploading all those Newfoundland photos. . . Heh.

See you laters, Dear Internet!

Feienabend

(sorry for the blog-silence, I’ve been busy. . . )

Just so you know, Dear Internet, I don’t actually know German. (And yes, the title of today’s post is in German! how exciting!). Well, I do know a few words and phrases in German, learned from my mom (and singing some songs in German as a kid) who grew up there. So I can pronounce German (well, one dialect anyway) but pretty much understand none of it.

It pretty much translates to “celebrate the evening” – it’s the moment where you can all of a sudden relax and enjoy some free time, put up your feet, and (in North American parlance) veg out. It’s really just a perfect word, and marvelously describes a feeling I have always had in my life, the joy of being able to suddenly have all the remaining time in the day all to myself. For me, this is especially important because it means that I can turn off, reset, and be myself. I’m rarely ever completely myself with other people, and it is supremely exhausting to go through a day consisting of public transit, work, conversations with colleagues, more conversations with colleagues, lunch – more conversations with colleagues, talking talking talking, meetings, then when work is done, more public transit. And if I’m going to the gym, there’s further human interaction and public transiting. And there is only so much talking with people that I can take.

So I really do take a moment, once I’ve gotten home and started to unwind, to realize that – HUGE sigh of relief – I don’t have to talk with ANYONE for the next several hours. I can work on my crafty projects, surf the Intertubes, blog, internet window shop, nap, ANYTHING!! And it is amazing.

Feienabend is pretty much up there with schadenfreude (for me) of awesome words/concepts. So I thought I would share it with you, Dear Internet!!

And, speaking of projects. . .

The boyfriend’s sister has two young girls and apparently could not find nice mittens with idiot strings (you know, the ones that keep your children’s mittens from constantly vanishing??). She guesses that it’s a liability issue – if a child can strangle itself on something, even if it’s you know useful, it cannot be sold anymore. . . So she asked me to make a couple pairs for her girls. So I went looking for a challenging and pretty pattern that would be fun for MY FIRST KNITTED MITTEN PROJECT EVAR!!! YAY!!!!!

So I went to Knitty.com to look for options. And I found this pattern:

Matrix mittens

And, well, I couldn’t say no! I’ve only recently started to plumb the depths of two-colour knitting, so this was a perfect project to further develop those skills. Very quickly as it turns out, since it took less than a week to knit four mittens, their respective idiot cords, finish them, and sew linings for them out of polar fleece. FAST PROJECT, guys!!! Check out the pattern here!!

Here are the mittens I made!!

First project 2012 - Completed!

You use a fairly chunky yarn, so they really knit up fast. And I went a little Mod with my colour choices 🙂  My mom was skeptical that the fuschia and mauve went together, apparently, but did own that they look really cool, once made up in the pattern. I love playing strong colours off each other. And the underlying blue to both colours helps them work quite well together, I think.

And now for our close up. . .

Another pair of mittens!!

So, there you have it, Dear Internet. The reason I’ve been too busy to blog for the last week.

I’m hoping to post about my hike along the Humber River last weekend sometime soon. And you’ll be hearing about my other ongoing projects as they get completed. . . One hint though, to keep you on tenterhooks: there will be more knitting. Surprise! Bet you didn’t guess that one!

Hopefully I’ll be baking soon too – a new recipe has caught my eye! Oooo!!! And there’s my 8-part choral experience coming that I will be telling you about so, rest easy, Dear Internet! I have lots up my sleeve for the next little while 😉

I hate computers

Yes that’s right. I said it. Computers effing suck sometimes.

I was about to finish a nice little nostalgic post, but this stupid site effed up and instead of loading a link I was adding to the post, it MADE THE POST VANISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So you’re going to have to wait for the nice, nostalgic post until I’m less about stab someone. That is all.

My vintage obsession

Ok, I’m lying in bed, exhausted from my first week back to work after my Christmas vacation. So why am I blogging, you ask? Cause I could be doing other things. Things like sleeping, even. But I’ve decided I should share something with you, gentle readers, before I plain forgot.

Soooooo. . . I just watched the first episode of season 2 of Sherlock (!!!!!!), in which there were some seriously cool vintage-style fashions modeled by the lovely Irene Adler character.

Like this one:

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(Source: Addicted to Media)

Which is apparently the Illusion-Bolero Sheath dress from Alexander McQueen. So 40s and gorgeous. Very Hollywood heyday.

And this one:

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(Source: Fashioned for the Geek)

You can’t see it super-well (or at all. Sorry about that) but that one is a stunner. Modern details with classic silhouettes, how can you go wrong?? It seems to be another take on the classic sheath dress, but with a beautifully detailed neckline. I wish I could find a better picture of it somewhere. . .

But, to get to a point of some sort, this is feeding into a newly revived obsession with vintage, and vintage-style clothing. See, I’m starting to follow sewing blogs (like Adventures in Dressmaking, and A Dress A Day, both of which are awesome! Go to my blog roll if you’re interested in checking them out. Or, just go anyway, cause they’re awesome!!). And since my party dress challenge this fall when I learned that I hadn’t lost my sewing skills, I decided that I will try to start making more clothing for myself. Cause 1) I can choose what fabrics to use, 2) I can choose what patterns to use, and 3) I can alter the pattern during the sewing stage to fit me perfectly (and thus develop a repertoire of patterns I can use multiple times with great ease). Plus, with my love of high quality fabrics and finishing, doing it myself will probably end up costing me a whole lot less than what a ready-made dress of equivalent quality would run. Patterns vary from 4$-50$ (for good condition vintage), you generally use 3-4 yards (or less) of fashion fabric and 2-3 of lining, and you can get some really good deals now with online stores from 3$-20$ a yard, which I think is more than reasonable. Zippers, bias tape, and other notions are generally negligible costs in the long run (I can get 500m spools of Gutenberg thread for a few bucks, and they last for multiple projects). So material costs would generally come under 200$ easily. I won’t get into value of my time, cause hey, I’m getting a fucking dress or whatever out if the deal! How easy do you think it would be to find a well-made vintage (in good wearing condition) or vintage-style dress that would fit a “generous” figure like mine?? And if the vintage is even in my size, what are the odds I’ll find good vintage styles that I’d actually want to wear?? So far I haven’t found any anywhere. There are companies like Bettie Page Clothing that are styling modern clothing on retro styles. But I’d like to choose the styles, not just from the styles someone else has chosen to make. The sheer number of patterns out there means that I can fairly easily find a great pattern that is very close to what I’m looking for.

And, there’s the satisfaction of making your own clothes to consider. Cause it’s quite its own peculiar kind of high – I made this!!! It’s actually very similar to knitting a sweater for me. You slog through the uninteresting process of creation, cause well, it’s not a fun activity in itself for me, and you slog through the problems that inevitably arise, and in the end you have this garment you made that someone can actually wear! How cool is that??!?!!!

Pretty damn cool, I say!

So, an ongoing project for this year is to collect patterns and fabric, and start building my new career-woman wardrobe. Though. Not pants. I’ll continue to leave that one to the professionals. To that end, I’ve begun to search (and order. . .) through McCall’s and Simplicity, et al. for patterns new and vintage reprints, as well as through the vintage sellers, for actual vintage patterns. I might even get into eBay at some point as another vintage pattern search option. And there’s the awesome Vintage Pattern Wiki that is collecting all the different vintage pattern info, for posterity. It is a perfect place to search for styles I like, silhouettes that would be great, all the possibilities!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be showing off some new awesome threads sometime in the not too distant future. . .

Anyroad. I think, Dear Internet, that it is time to fall asleep. Cause, damn but I’m tired. Maybe I’ll even be able to sleep in past 8. . .

Good night, Dear Internet! I hope you have exciting plans you’re working to bring to fruition 🙂 And to help bring sweet dreams to you as you fall asleep, I leave you with this:

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(Source: holligenet.tumbler)

Not as sexy as Irene’s I’m-going-to-be-naked-for-a-whole-effing-scene thing, but vastly more amusing . . . Night night!!

One more things. . .

I almost forgot!!!

I have one more area in which I’d like to resolve to be the best me I can be:

6) Procrastination Issues? What Procrastination Issues??

– try to stop putting things off in the hopes that they will magically do themselves. Cause they end up either getting massively horrible to accomplish, or good opportunities fizzle into nothng. Both of which suck. Massively. So, stop it. Dumbface.

– post to the blog more often. Cause I keep meaning to, but having a nap is so much more enticing.

– be better about finishing projects once started, and starting projects that need to be accomplished in a timely manner

That’s it, for now. Over and out!

Hey 2012, what’s up?

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(Source: Nerd Boyfriend)

So. Do I have your attention now?

No? How about now??

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(Source: Who Is Matt Smith? )

Well, now that sexy men have gotten your attention, Dear Internet, I’ll get to my post. Which doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do with those images. Sexy as they are. . . Though, to be fair, I should probably even things out with some sexy woman action too. Just to be fair.

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(Source: Karen Gillan’s InStyle photoshoot

It’s a new year, and everyone’s getting all revved up about making resolutions and turning over a new leaf. Cause, you know, an arbitrary date management cycle has recommenced? Usually my resolution is that I won’t make any resolutions, cause it’s kind of a sham and hooey and they never get kept cause nobody ever makes really realistic goals for themselves. And then there are the tears and recriminations and apathy, and why start that vicious cycle when I only just jumped off the last one? Not that I’m a cynic or anything. But this year, something’s different. I’m at the cusp of making some changes in my life, and it just so happens that I want to start these changes now, at the turn of a new year. New Year’s Resolutions Bandwagon, you are being jumped upon by me, finally.

Grouped into a few areas, here are my goals for this new year:
1) Manage Money Like an Adult, dumbface
– don’t use the credit card as a crutch, if you can’t afford it, don’t go for it
– pay off the little bit of debt I’ve accumulated
– start actually saving money
– develop a proper budget

I’m planning on finally moving out sometime this year, so I really think I should buckle down and become an adult about money. Like now.

2) Get Healthy.
– start the process to diagnose a potential health issue I’ve been dealing with for the past six months
– develop a regular exercise schedule
– plan on changing some food habits, develop a healthy diet plan (where “diet” = the food I eat, not fad self-denial/starvation plan. Cause that shit won’t work for me)
– hike more. Lots more. And try to be more active in general

As I say above, I’ve been having some minor health issues since I finally got a job last spring. I guess the release of all the pent up stress of the two years previous messed up my system even more than I’d thought. And, having spoken with my doctor briefly about what’s going on, she agreed that we should definitely do some (wheeee. . .) testing and get to the bottom of things. And part of the treatment for the condition I might have developed include diet changes and increased activity. Which I wanted to do anyway. So. Win-win?

Now, what does this mean about my baking obsession?? Well, I’ll probably not change a whole lot, cause the things I bake, I bake them for other people. I’ll just have to pretty much not eat most things. And, I’ll probably start playing with new recipes, to test substitution options, and test the Healthy Baking Waters. But let me reassure you all now, there will still be pounds of butter. Cause, sorry margarine enthusiasts, it’s just better.

3) Make Decisions About Things That Have Been Pissing Me Off (finally)
– specifically, decide what I’m going to do about my choir issues. So there will be much research on choirs going on in the next few months
– find a decent paying Sunday choir gig, if possible. Cause I’m sick and tired of feeling like my opinion is invalid because I’m just-a-volunteer
– think about singing lessons, when I have more money at my disposal

4) Plan the Next Step, Career-wise
– start résumé revisions, cover letter writing, etc. well ahead of my contract ending
– start trolling job listings and job boards soonish
– think about where I really want to end up, and how each job I do apply to will help me achieve my goals in my career

5) Take the Time to Art
– use some of my cherished me-time to go back to sketching and painting
– play with new media, and mixing medias
– work on getting my technique back up to snuff, cause I’m feeling a bit rusty
– think about art classes, when I have some income to burn
– play with my craft obsessions and see how far I can push them into my art. Specifically, work on developing my own knitting patterns

During my vacation after Christmas, I worked on my first actual art project in YEARS. A friend of mine, with whom I have been lamenting letting our passion for our arts go in the name of practicality, challenged me to make something for her for Christmas. Well, being one effing-super-busy lady, I couldn’t do it in time for Christmas, so it became a post-Christmas project. And it felt good to be painting again. No, let me rephrase: it felt GREAT!! I’m about half done, so there’s more to do, but I’ve been putting off working on it a little because I don’t want it to be over. I guess I’m starting to realize just how big a whole I’d dug out of my heart when I decided to give all this up. So it’s time to start patching up that gaping hole, I guess.

I wish I could say I know it’ll all work out great. But I’m a confirmed pessimist and I’m not naive. But I can say right now that I am going to put everything into this, which is something I’ve avoided almost my whole life, and that’s both daunting and exhilarating. There are things at stake now!! I guess this is what it feels like to not be depressed? If so, I think I like it!!

I just read a great article about the physiological issues that might be at play in problems with maintaining weight loss. A lot of which makes good sense to me, especially since I watched my mom go through the whole crash-diet-massive-weight-loss-then-incremental-weight-gain thing my whole life. And I guess I could be discouraged since I’m likely to have to work hard at maintaining any weight loss I do accomplish, but it’s really nice to know that at least part of my overweight-ness can potentially be attributable to forces not entirely under my control. It’s kind of freeing, really. I’m also looking at the Mediterranean diet as inspiration for my new food resolutions.

Well. Anyroad, I think I’ve yammered long enough about this. Time to get back to work, Dear Internet!!

Any new resolutions this year for you, Dear Internet??

One last Christmas-related post

Ok. It’s January 3rd. 2012 has officially begun. And I have one more thing to say about Christmas.

Sooooo. You might have noticed my absence the last few weeks, Dear Internet, which was due to my overwhelming schedule. Especially my overwhelming baking schedule. So Imma gonna talk at you about my heaps o cookies!!!

I decided to take the bulk of the week before x-mas off in order to do all that x-mas baking. Cause I wasn’t going to not do my massive x-mas bake-a-thon. No sirree!!

The three days before Christmas I baked 10 kinds of baked good. Ten batches of sweets. !!!!!!!! Cause I’m nuts. I was even planning on down-sizing my baking this year. Apparently not. Also, though I have no photographic evidence currently, I made Christmas cakes with my mom this year. But, like, weeks before Christmas. So for some reason I keep forgetting about them. . .

Let’s get to the crazy then, shall we?

In no particular order:

1) Gingerbread!

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A traditional and perennial favourite!

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2) Traditional shortbread

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With a twist, of course. I used dark brown sugar in this one. Cause it tastes even more awesome. And I used the shortbread mold my dad picked up (sooooooo much easier than rolling out and cutting cookies). Though next time I won’t make such huge bricks of shortbread

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3) Nutmeg Maple Butter cookies (from, where else?, Smitten Kitchen – a new favourite)

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Like, a week before I start my baking I have to come across this post on my most favouritest of blogs. AND I HAD TO HAVE IT!! The Christmas cookie fever was officially upon me. And damn, but these are stupidly tasty cookies. I know everyone hearts the pants off the apple pie cookies from the same (AWESOME) blog, but these are my absolute favourites!!

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4) Toblerone shortbread

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Do I need to justify this for you, Dear Internet? Or can we all just agree that this is necessary?

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Awwwwwww yiiiiiiissssssssssss.

5) Ginger shortbread

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Cause I lurve the ginger. Also, it’s a stupidly simple recipe (from this book) from Donna Hay, the Australian answer to Martha. Definitely recommend this one. And you can flavour it whichever way you like best.

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6) Apple pie cookies

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These were such a hit from my fearless leader’s birthday party, that they had to make a near-immediate reprise. Super-fiddly to make, but oh so worth it!!

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7) Honey Lavender shortbread

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I don’t remember exactly where I got the idea for honey shortbread, but I just had to have some for x-mas! And let me tell you, substituting honey for sugar makes shortbread mighty fine. And lavender? Why not?? It’s floral fragrance works very well with honey. Definitely adding this to the repertoire!

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8) Spitzbuben

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These are straight from my childhood. My mom used to make them, before I stopped letting her do the baking. . . And they’re from her childhood in Germany. It means, from what I understand, “naughty boys”, and they’re delicious sandwich cookies made with lemony shortbready dough and raspberry jam. And you poke out three holes on top to make a screaming face-looking arrangement. Like only the Germans would come up with. Though, what do you expect from a culture that came up with “schadenfreude”?? More awesomeness, that’s what!!

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<eeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!!> and soooooo tasty!

9) Rugalach

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These are from Bonnie Stern‘s Cuisinart cookbook, sadly out of print (or maybe her second Cuisinart cookbook? I forget which. Are there even two of them???). If you’re not Canadian, you probably don’t know who she is, but she was pretty big in the Toronto food scene at least. These have a flaky cream cheese-based dough, tart jam, and a cinnamon/hazelnut/cocoa/brown sugar filling that literally makes the best cinnamon toast EVAR. Cause there are always leftovers. . . And only partly because I make too much in the first place in order to ensure leftovers. Only partly.

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And last, but not least,
10) Mincemeat Tarts

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I make my own mincemeat (of course), from a recipe handed down through my paternal grandmother’s family (I think. It’s definitely from the English side of my family tree), full of raisins, and currents (which technically are just a different kind of raisin. Weird), apple, spices, and, well, beef suet. Not my favourite, but it gets the job done. I make a pâte brisée for the dough (with butter, of course), which is easy to make and work with. And they is tasty. I ran out of mincemeat this Christmas, so next time around I have to make a new batch :D. Some of which I’ve promised to a friend of mine. Can’t wait! I love using the meat grinder!!

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Aside from the massive amount of tasty treats, it was a lovely lovely Christmas this year (despite some minor issues I won’t discuss here) full of family and friends and goodwill towards my fellow man, some of which was contributed to a last-minute getaway to a cottage nicely north of the city. And I hope you had a lovely time too, Dear Internet. Happy New Year!!

Let’s see what 2012 has to dump on our heads. . .