Hey there, Epiphany! Didn’t see you coming. . .

I was sitting on the bus, on my way home from work. I had opened my massively large book:

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(Book 1 of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver)

Only to find, what seemed like only moments later, that I was suddenly at the subway stop already. I’d gotten so caught up in the story that time stopped for me, even as it whizzed by all around me. This made me think of one of the other books I’m currently reading (yup. I read several books concurrently. Deal with it), the most recent in George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Which I’m finding REALLY hard to get through right now. And I’ve been blaming the writing’s short-comings (which may yet be a factor), but now I wonder. Because I’m reading that series on my new e-Reader. . .

So my Epiphany was this: I don’t think I can get totally immersed in The Story if I’m not reading from a Real Book. Maybe it’s a sense-memory thing (Maybe it is the not-quite-but-almost dreadful writing. Or maybe it’s the Martin-style Waiting To See Which of My Favourite Characters Gets Killed Next), but I’m really having trouble with A Dance of Dragons. . . It might be different if I’d grown up with reading from a screen, who knows. But Real Books? They’re just better. For me, anyway.

Now. That’s enough introspection. Here’s some stuff I’ve been meaning to post!!

Knit bunny toy!!

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Pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson (and beautifully photographed by Anna Williams). It was SUPER-EASY to knit up, and lots of fun too! I can’t wait to make my elephant version!! I also got a commission to do one for another friend who just had her first child. I’m happy to report that a collective “Awwwwwwwww!!!!!” rose from the ranks of the baby shower where the little guy was unearthed And I apparently need to get More Last Minute Knitted Gifts now. . . When will it end???

And here’s the present all wrapped up, for those of your who have a wrapped present porn fetish:

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(I did in fact knit those carrots too. They’re from the Mochimochi Ninjabun pattern)

I also gave them a copy of the obligatory, and seminal, Pat the Bunny (I detect a theme!!), and my mom graciously donated one of her Tree of Life knit baby blankets (she kind of knits them compulsively, and we have at least three hanging out in our linen closet, waiting to find a new home. . .). No pictures of that, so you’ll just have to imagine it – it’s a creamy white, and ridiculously soft, as the new synthetics can only be. Synthetic yarn, you ask? Well, it’s hypo-allergenic AND easily washable! Perfect for baby blankets!! 😀

And here is a raft of pictures of food I’ve made!!!! Take a look!!

Portugese Custard Tarts!!

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Though, I have to tweak the recipe as the custard isn’t quite what I was hoping. The dough is super-cool to make. I’ll have to tell you about that sometime. . .

Here’s a tease:

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Ingredients!! For an appetizer I’m making for the Wednesday Candlelight post-Service Wine & Cheese. The Quintet is doing the food this week! This stuff, when combined with the Dreaded Phyllo Pastry, will become (hopefully) a nice tasty treat!! I’m only not quite sure about it cause I kind of totally made it up. Though, mixing up various mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, garlic (LOTS of garlic), Gewurtztraminer, panko, fresh basil and parsley, and freshly grated parmesan all wrapped up in a crisp and rich phyllo pastry crust is going to have to work damn hard to be inedible. . . Just sayin’. I’ll take pictures of the finished products when they’re assembled, promise!! And I’ll let you know how people liked them too 😉

More teasing:

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I forgot to take a picture of the finished product (yup, gonna have to wait on that one too, Dear Internet), but all those photos? Those disparate pictures show the makings of my sinfully delicious brownies!! They’re from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook – the dark chocolate and prune brownies. And before your brain explodes in disgust, let me tell you that 1. You start the recipe by soaking the prunes IN BRANDY for three, count them 3 days; and 2. I use dried cherries instead of prunes . . . Yes. It is made of awesome. I do intend, at some point, to make them as the recipe instructs, but not quite yet. All the dark dark dark chocolate, the lovely cocoa (and yeah, TOTALLY using the Valrhona cocoa for these. . .) and the sweet tartness of the cherries, WITH BRANDY??? These are pretty special brownies. Though, not that kind of special, just FYI. Not that there’s anything wrong with those brownies, per se.

I found out last night that I’m definitely in teenage-starry-eyed-first-love with the baking scale I got for Christmas this year . . .

I also need to show you my progress on the knit solar system (no photos yet) – I only have Saturn left to finish. Plus all the FINISHING. . . And I have two skirts to make, and my Colette Sencha blouse (I’ll actually be making a wearable muslin of it too – Shock! Horror!!! Cause I have a BOATLOAD of this lovely turquoise Kona cotton, and why not?? I have plenty of buttons. . .).

And in Katie’s Actually Going To Be Moving Out This Year!! News: I just found out that my parents will actually get me a new sewing machine for my birthday XD I so excite!!

So, apropos of nothing really, here’s a bunch of books I want (I’ll have to show you some of my Amazon wishlist sometime too, so you get a better sense of the crazy. . .):

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(totally bought the above already. . . Nope, not at all compulsive. . . Nuh uh. . .)

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Enjoying the photo-bombing so far?? Here’s some more!!

This is a dress I saw in the Holt Renfrew window display that I NEED TO HAVE!!! Even if I’m not willing to um pay the (I’m assuming) roughly 700$ it would probably cost there. . . Here’s a photo:

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And here’s where I’ve become Internet Famous!! Ok, not exactly. But that’s where the lovely Adventurous Dressmaker answered my question about what patterns I could use to approximate said awesome dress!! Wheeee!! Pattern bought, so all I have to do now is figure out what fabric to use. . .

Some more goodies. . . A coat!!

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I stumbled across it on Dear Golden Vintage’s etsy site. I thought “Awesome coat! It’ll never fit me!” then I looked at the measurements, and sure enough I was wrong – my size!! And even with conversion to CAD from USD, and with shipping, I got this lovely beauty for less than 100$!!!!! Some indications (sleeves that are a few inches too short, belt that hits me a good two inches above my natural waist. . .) that point to this coat being originally for someone several inches shorter than me. But I don’t care! It otherwise fits awesomely! And I lurve it 😀

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That, above, is a terrible photo of an AWESOME snack I made yesterday in the middle of my serious cooking/baking-palooza: red lentil spread!! It’s a Donna Hay recipe in her Off the Shelf cookbook. Super-easy and packs a nice flavour punch. Especially since I add smoked paprika and cayenne to it. And extra garlic. Of course. There’s some in my lunch today 🙂 Just so you know, Dear Internet, I made the brownies, the filling for the phyllo appetizers, Home-made Mac-n-Cheese (Mom makes the cheese sauce, and I do the everything else. And since we add tons of veggies and canned tuna, that’s more than people usually do with the dish. So you don’t think I’m just being a whiney baby. Not that I’m not a whiney baby. . .), AND the lentil spread. That’s a lot for one evening. I was standing for a good 5 hours straight. Oh the first world problems I have. . .

Spangly dress I saw in a crazy dress shop window during a Queen Street window-shopping trip with a good friend, and fellow Whovian (whom i have also infected with love for the new BBC Sherlock series. ) :

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Awesome silver shoes I bought during said “window-shopping” trip. . .

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But they are awesome and cost 50% off the original price, so I forgive myself. . . I’m going to wear them to the two opera productions I’m seeing in the next few months!! In the interest of full disclosure, that “window-shopping” trip netted me those shoes as well as five different belts. . . Oooops . . . This belt was so awesome, I just had to have it though:

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Seriously awesome. And also 50% off. But now I’ve been researching the company that made this belt (Brave, in Toronto), and there’s at least five other belts I now covet. . . Including this gorgeous obi belt. . . Only 90$. . . But . . . Sigh. . .

And now for something completely different: the new subway train!!!!

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I finally got to ride the new train!!!!! I got a second ride Monday night, so I’m felling like a proper Torontonian now!

I think that’s enough for one day, don’t you, Dear Internet?? I’ll leave you with today’s sunrise, as viewed from the window near my office. Sorry about the not-too-awesome quality. . .

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I have something I’d like to say

Okay. So. I’ve been a little busy. Preocupied, even. 12 job applications in the last 2 weeks, attempting (and sadly failing) to finish my knit solar system (Damn you, Pinched Nerves!!), planning some baking (brownies, and phyllo appetizers!! Photos to come! I promise!!!) and all the other things that fill my life full to bursting, leaving me to ignore you, my Dear Internet. An unforgivable crime, I know.

But. Today, on my way down to the subway level (and I’ll admit, I was preoccupied with my thoughts at the time and might not have paid attention as well as usual), I ended up cutting off some dumb biddy (not that I’m feeling annoyed or anything) to get down the stairs. I was going round a corner, fairly quickly as is my wont, and heard this muttered “Christ!!” behind me. Oh, I’m sorry, Slow Person! Did I go too fast for you to realize I’d get to that spot before you did?? Also, how is it my fault that I got there first? I wasn’t trying anything, You. Walked. Into. Me.

And it’s hard not to add “Dumbass.” there at the end. . .

I’ve been having various conversations on this theme lately, one at lunch today even – the Rudeness in Public Transit Conversation. Or possibly the Thoughtlessness in Public Transit Conversation. Well, they’re basically the same thing, aren’t they?

People push in front of you to go slowly, people stand at the top/bottom of staircases or in doorways obstructing the way, etc. ad nauseum. And apparently, people resent others who go faster than them.

But. Why should I have to be the one who makes way all the time? Why do I have to pay attention to EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME?? I’m the one who moves out of the way on the sidewalk when the person going the other way doesn’t move out of my path. I’m the one who let’s the other person go first, the one who let’s someone have the seat I wanted, even when I’m having a terrible headache and really need to sit down. Not that they ask, in general.

So what if, on occasion, I don’t bow to other people’s needs? How often have I missed my train/bus/etc. because of staying behind the Slow Person Who Takes Up The Whole Pathway??

/rant

How was your day, Dear Internet?

And, just so you know, there will shortly be a much less rant-y post to follow. . .

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. . .

Knitpocalypse

Sooooooooo. . . First off, don’t blame me for the lateness of this blog post, as I did warn you! I’m so busy right now that 6 hours of sleep at a time is an amazing luxury . . . And I still have 8 knitting projects and one embroidery project for Christmas presents, as well as the boatloads of cookies I’m going to be baking next week. And the decorating, and the parties, and the singing, and the sing-along messiah, a crazy-packed weekend coming up, and the fact that I’m going to be at work until next Wednesday. AND ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO MARATHON!!!!!!! Not that I’m excited or anything. . . Though, I finished and packed all my presents bound for Calgary (for the boyfriend’s family) yesterday – just in time to ship them off on the last day that Canada Post will guarantee arrival by Christmas. And I didn’t even have to wait in line! It was surreal.

I just had a full day of software training at work today (so. bored.), and I’m running off to see my fearless leader for our present exchange dinner (at Elle M’a Dit – Alsatian cuisine!!). And I also have a treat to make for the post-service wine and cheese tomorrow. That I’d forgotten about until yesterday. Oops. . . I’m soooooo busy!!

So I can’t go swimming until Thursday, mope. Since a bout with the flu a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been pretty terrible about regular workouts. Though, that’s offset by the roughly 5 pounds I lost because of the flu. Which I somehow haven’t gained right back. . .

In the YAY column of life – my concert this past weekend went amazingly well!! Though, coming off the major adrenalin surge I got from that isn’t fun. Headaches and exhaustion and lethargy, oh my! Also awesome are
The sunrises recently – they’ve been so spectacular I haven’t been able to resent being up early enough to see them. Wish I had photos to share, but I was so awestruck I missed my photo opportunity window two days running. . . I do have a couple photos of the spectacular moon the last couple of days though:

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Maybe it’s the excess X-mas spirit I’ve gotten from singing a concert of Christmas carols (and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols!!!), maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s finding someone whose awesome nerdiness rivals even my own, but damn but have I been feeling chipper. Exhausted and chipper, weird combination. Maybe it’s the fact that for the first time in two years I’ve been able to be genuinely happy without stress or excessive pressure on my shoulders. Maybe this is what real happiness feels like. Though, it’d be sad if I can’t recognize pure, unadulterated happiness, wouldn’t it?

Screw it, no introspection for me today. Life is good! It probably won’t stay that way for long, but dammit I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

And seriously – I’m ridiculously excited about my upcoming Doctor Who-a-thon this Friday: awesome show, awesome awesome people to hang out with, awesome Whovian crafts (can’t wait!!), awesome Whovian snacks!!!! This week is going by soooooooooo slowly. . . If only I had a better TARDIS than this one:

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(made by me!)

It would definitely come in handy right about now. . .

And now, back to some knitting. How busy are you this month, Dear Internet?

(and, reading this back to myself, I’m noticing that sleeplessness really doesn’t help in elocution. Sorry about the jumping from topic to topic. . . Maybe I’ll be more lucid after the craziness of Christmas has passed? Not that I was very lucid to begin with. . .)

Opera, and other stuffs

Ok. So. . . That was an AMAZING opera production. AMAZING!

I must admit to preferring early opera to Romantic or Classical opera. I just like the music better. Don’t get me wrong, I do ocasionally lurve the Mozart, it’s just that well. . . He never really hits my heart the way earlier music does.

That being said – if you’re in Toronto, I HIGHLY!! recommend going to see Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Guest conductor, Italian Stefano Montanari, is charismatic, expressive and a great leader for the exceptional Tafelmusik Orchestra. He didn’t even let smacking his stand light off at the Concertmaster phase him. Did I mention that he was expressive? Veeeeeeerrrryyyyy expressive. My fearless leader and I could imagine that Mozart would have conducted very similarly to him, which did add quite a lot to our viewing pleasure. I’m only sad that I don’t have several sets of eyes so that I could have watched him throughout the opera as well as the action on stage.

And boy, was there some action on stage, let me tell you.

They definitely played on the Opera Buffa aspects of the piece – there was a certain amount of Ham Acting going on. But it was never too much. They played with that line (between hilarious and tedious) and never crossed it. There was a freshness to the performance that maintained its buoyancy throughout the show. No miscasting either – the stars were definitely suited to their roles.

The sopranos were effervescent, in this soprano-heavy opera. Carla Hutanen as Zerlina, Peggy Kriha Dye as Donna Elvira, and Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna were all superb. The different colours of their voices suited them particularly well to their respective parts and they are all fabulous singers. Donna Elvira was my favourite, but then I’ve enjoyed Dye’s singing for several seasons of Opera Atelier productions now, and she always delivers the goods. And then some.

On to the basses: Leporello, played by Vasil Garvanliev (who, oddly enough, I have actually sung with. If briefly – he was a member of my Sunday choir for a few months, before he got all famous and stuff) was both buffoonish and endearing. And damn, but he can sing. He is also able to act with his singing voice, which isn’t something everyone can do well. Opera Atelier mainstay Curtis Sullivan (playing both Masetto and the Commendatore) was great as usual. Though, to be frank, he’s got a better baritone range than bass range and for some reason he keeps getting bass-y parts. He can sing the lowest notes, he just doesn’t have the same power on them. Though this was less evident in this performance than in his turn as Sarastro a few years ago (Sarastro’s solos are one of my favourite things, ever, so I must admit to some disappointment there. . .). And finally, Phillip Addis as Don Giovanni himself. Hoo Boy. I’d let him seduce me too. He has a beuatiful, supple bass voice – it just flows over you like silk and cashmere and some smooth alcohol that i can’t think of right now. I definitely came close to jumping out of my seat to jump into his arms. . .

The cast is intentionally young and fresh which adds a believability to the insanity of the story-line: only young people are that dumb about stuff. Also, the chorus and dancers were great. Not to mention the tight pants on the men – Opera Atelier is definitely known for their busts and bulges and this performance was no exception.

And, in the tradition of saving the best for last, the tenor. You thought I’d forgotten about Don Ottavio, didn’t you?! Well, how could I with Lawrence Wiliford playing the part?? I’d seen him previously as Damon in the Opera Atelier production of Acis and Galatea last season. And, forgive me basses (you are my one and only true love, never fear), but holy hells can this man sing. Don Ottavio’s solo brought me to tears. Wiliford, in contrast with the majority of opera singers, has very little vibrato, and sings with a pure tone. And what a pure tone. He also has incredible power and supreme control over his voice that is simply a treat to hear. This guy could sing the highway code at me and I’d swoon. I’m not kidding.

All in all, I’m going to have to say that Opera Aetlier’s Don Giovanni is a masterful production that marries beauty for the eyes and beauty for the ears in one sumptuous spectacle that is not to be missed.

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Now for some life stuffs. . .

I can’t wait for work to be done so I can go for a lovely swim. I might be having some sinus troubles that are spreading to my ear canals, but hopefully the Otrivin will offset the water in the ears. I should really invest in some ear plugs for swimming, what with my being prone to ear infections and all . . . But regardless, I’m going to love my swim – it’s been a little bit of an indulgent week so far – Hallowe’en, opera and a lovely meal out, no exercise. . . – that I really need to get back on that horse.

Though, I did do a little hike yesterday afternoon, so my week isn’t a total loss exercise-wise. I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist yesterday for a routine check up. Well, I was supposed to have my check-up, but a lateitude of buses made that unpossible. So I’m going again next week, and this time before work, so I won’t have to deal with afternoon rush hour that somehow starts at 2?? When did that happen??? Well, anyway, I walked home from there – From Weston and Eglinton to Dundas and Islington. If you know that part of the city, you’ll know it’s a bit of a hike – about one and a half hours or so, walking pretty fast. I listened to the Sixteen’s recording of the Missa Papae Marcelli, so I didn’t really notice the time. At all.

And then, after a very satisfying nap (thanks Otrivin!) we sang some beautiful music for the Samhain/All Souls service – which went swimmingly 😀  And there was booze and food after the service (with stupidly tastsy pierogies. mmmmmm pierogies. . .).

To wrap up, I’m just going to let you know, Dear Internet, that my posts will become rather more infrequent in the next little while, as my plate, it is full – I’m almost finished my Christmas shopping, but I’m waiting for my yarn to arrive to start the immensely long to knit list (it’s like externally-enforced procrastination, I prefer internally-enforced myself. . .), I have two belated X-mas present dinners to plan and execute, music to learn for Wednesdays as well as a Carol Concert I’m doing with some friends, baking, preparing a TARDIS cake for a friend’s Dr. Who Indoctrination Marathon this weekend, a cake and a tasty present to bake for my dad’s birthday, more baking, buttloads of knitting, etc. ad infinitum. Not to mention working full time and being desirous of exercising regularly (to offset the extreme amount of eating that will be happening in the next couple of months. . .). I’m tired just thinking about it. . .

Well, I’m really looking forward to the recipe I’m going to be trying out for the TARDIS cake! That’s going to be fun 😉

I hope your holiday-season lead up isn’t super stressful, Dear Internet. I know I’m only doing this to myself, but it isn’t Christmas without several nervous breakdowns, I always say.

p.s. There will be a separate post of some photos regarding Hallowe’en coming your way soonish. . . so stay tuned!!

The posts that never come. . .

Okay. . . So much for resolutions like “I _will_ write at least one blog post a week!!” or “I need to finish talking about my bleep-ing Newfoundland trip!” or “I should sleep more!!!”

This “gainful employment” thing kinda sucks, aside from the money, the doing something awesome with my days instead of being eff-ing bored All. The. Time., the meeting new and awesome people, the money, and gaining useful experience for my CV. Did I mention the money? Cause two years of almost total unemployment paired with me still wanting some kind of life left me with one sad credit card statement. So money coming in is both very confusing and awesome. Confusing since it’s weird to see the bank statement increase bi-weekly. Though that does get sucked into the credit card pretty quickly.

And Christmas is coming.

Which leads me to a raft of excuses for why I’ll probably be AWOL for most of the rest of the year. See, I’m going to try to actually _do_ stuff in the next couple of months, along with working 5 days a week, singing Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, knitting a stupid number of X-mas presents, going to the gym 4-5 times a week, and baking the usual ridiculous number of cookies. Plus several birthday treats for the several birthdays coming up, and finally making good on a couple of presents the boyfriend and I gave a couple of years ago. Heh, you heard right – a _couple_ of years ago. . .

We’re so awesome. . .

And, oh yes, I almost forgot Hallowe’en. Because 1. I’m actually trying to make a costume for the first time in years (I don’t know if you remember how old I am, but it’s pretty ridiculous, since I’m not 7 anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with other people who dress up who aren’t 7, _I_ just feel ridiculous), 2. It’s my Mom’s birthday and I have a new recipe I want to make for her (it involves potatoes. My mom _loves_ potatoes in an unholy way), 3. I have to carve a ridiculous pumpkin (I might not _have_ to, technically. But this is me, and if I can be truly ridiculous, I can’t help but be even more ridiculous than that), and 4. There’s not enough time this weekend to come close to finishing everything I need to do. . . Unless I don’t sleep of course. . .

If only that were a feasible option.

In addition to making myself waaaaaayyyyyy too busy, I’m also in a kind of not awesome place, emotionally. Which is part of why I’m filling my days too full, so I don’t have time to think about things. I’ve talked about the problems I’ve been having with my choir before, so I won’t belabor that point. But it’s getting to the point where sometime in the near future I’m going to have to make a decision. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to leave a choir I’ve been a part of since I was 6. I don’t want to have to be the one to tell my church’s priest exactly what’s wrong and why I’m leaving the Sunday choir. I don’t want to be the one to tell my choir director why the choir isn’t as good as it could, no _should_ be (i.e. Her. . .). I’ve been talking about this off and on for the last few years, enough so that the boyfriend is probably a little fed up with me. But there’s a reason I’ve put off looking for another choir, that I’ve put off telling the people who need to know what they need to know, that I’ve remained (increasingly) frustrated about the situation I find myself in. One reason is the convenience of it – the church is literally 2 minutes away from my parents’ house. Which won’t always be the case, if I can keep up this fully employed thing and move out next year. But more problematic is the emotional attachment. I’ve sung at this place for more than two decades, my grandparents are buried in the cemetery on the church grounds, I know and care for a lot of people in the parish, it’s my Dad’s church, I’m friends with a significant number of members of the choir. And this is all tangled up together in a big jumble of emotion that pretty much paralyses me. I’m in a kind of straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back kind of situation, and yet I can’t let myself do anything about it. Why should it be me that leaves? Why does it have to be me??

And after some gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair I came to a realization: for now, the good outweighs the bad. Just barely, but still. I’ve always been one to put friendship above my own needs, and why should I change that now? There are plenty of points at which I can reevaluate the situation, other times I can think about this.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking at possible options. . .

Back to work! Any tough decisions on your plate, Dear Internet?

I guess I should subtitle the blog “And don’t forget the knitting!”

Cause yeah. . . this post is going to be about a bunch of the next knitting projects I have in the planning stages. Already. My “To Do” list is kinda scary. I plan years in advance on some things. . .

For Christmas I got Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits which I’ve been lusting after since I heard about it. And with a bunch of people on my present-giving list, I like expanding my pool of potential gifts to make. And who wouldn’t like an octopus, or jackalope, or hermit crab for Christmas? Am I right??

You know I'm totally making that angler fish

And I know how obsessed with me you are, Dear Internet, so I know you’re also following my links (hint: they’re on the right side of the website, underneath the “About Me” page. You’ve found it now? Awesome!! Now go! Internet away!! After reading my deathless prose, of course. Wouldn’t want you to get distracted and forget all about little ol’ me, now would we?). Well, one of my more favourite intertubes discoveries is Mochi Mochi Land – Anna Hrachovec (dear lord I hope I spelled that right. . .) has an amazingly offbeat design sensibility that instantly endeared her to me (as did her free patterns. . .), and the pdf patterns she sells through her website are very well priced. And awesome. She writes patterns very well, so they’re easy to follow (as well as to adapt to your own knitting style, as I’m wont to do). Her first book came out last year, and somehow I only got it a month ago. For shame! Some fan girl I am. But, thanks again to the intertubes, I set that to rights and Knitting Mochimochi arrived at my doorstep to my great delight.

Don't we all need cute moster slippers that are eating our feet??

This is not a book for someone who doesn’t like weird shit. Though, why would you be reading my blog if you’re not into the weird? Anyway, a confused moose, mod muff (for your hands when it’s cold, if you don’t know old-timey lingo), pigs in wigs, and a scooter-squirrel = awesome!! And I have even more possibilities for upcoming x-mas and birthday presents! It’s win-win-win! Also awesome are the instructions and suggestions for how you can design your own knitted monstrosities, which I’ll totally be playing with once I start really feeling fall set in and the knitting bug comes back in full-force.

Aaaaaaannnnnddddd. . . I hope you’ve been following Mochimochi, but if not – there is even more awesome! Ever since Kitting Mochimochi, Anna’s been doing this tiny knits challenge and making the most adorablest awesome little thingies evar. And made a book of them!!!!!! Which I ordered as soon was humanly possible. Guess the heights of my joy when I came home to an unlovely large packing envelope!!!

SQUEEEEE(to the power of infinity)!!!!!

YES!!!!! As soon as I get a new job, I am totally buying out the nearest knitting store’s supply of fingering weight yarn to make as many as these as I can before I succumb to extreme cute. Going through the book, I’ve already decided what my first project out of it will be. Which I’m going to tell you about, Dear Internet, cause that’s what I do 😉 You can get your very own copy of Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi at Mochimochiland’s web store or amazon (if you get it from her store, she signs it for you!!). And you should do so, right now.

You done? Ok, moving on. . .

The project I want to start with will highlight my amazing nerdity. One of the patterns in the book is to make a teeny Earth, Neptune, and Moon. So naturally I think, “Hey, all the planets are kinda planety shaped – Infinite adaptability!!” Which naturally led me to the decision to make a weeny solar system mobile! I don’t know if you know The Magic School Bus, the one about the solar system was definitely my favourite. Cause I’m Nerd-squared, apparently.

I’m certainly going to have fun with this one – choosing yarn colours, researching the relative sizes of the planets so I can approximate that in the mobile (did I mention I was a nerd at all?), figuring out the mobile apparatus (again, nerd). This is gonna be sweet! And maybe I’ll be able to part with it. But maybe not. I’d have to really like whoever would be receiving it. . . As in Let-me-have-your-babies-like. . . So pretty much just Nathan Fillion or Benedict Cumberbatch. D’you think they’d be interested?

Any awesome projects on the go, Dear Internet?

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Update! Half an hour with the aforementioned books and look what I’ve done!

20110825-110424.jpg

Yup. I used up an entire post-it pad marking up the projects I intend to eventually work on. And I have a bunch of x-mas present, stocking stuffer, and other present ideas! As I said before, I am a total nerd.

This week, in baking. . . part 1

Hello, The Internet!
I said that I’d be posting some more this weekend, and here’s one of them. Let’s see if I can get all of the posts I wanted up by the end of the weekend – but I’m pretty sure that I’ll only get two of the four done by the end of this weekend. I’m working this weekend, and for some reason that takes up a lot of time that I could be spending blogging. Ah well. You’ll get them when you get them.
Let’s look at the making of. . . Thick, chewy granola bars!! I, of course made a few alterations, as well as two – that’s right, two – different flavours. One used dried cherries and blueberries, maple syrup, white chocolate chips, and apple butter. And the other used the same dried fruit, buckwheat honey, hazelnut butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
mmmmm apple butter. . .
mmmmmm hazlenut butter. . .
My only excuse is that I had to try apple butter but I wasn’t sure it would work out using that instead of a nut butter. The irony being that the apple butter granola bars ended up working out better than the hazelnut butter ones – though that might have been also due to not cooking them quite long enough to set fully (see note below) . . . Live and learn. I’ll just have to make several more batches of granola bars to see how different flavours and ingredients work. It’s a hard knock life, isn’t it?
Now, a string of photos of creating the bars!
gathering ingredients and preparing the tins
mixing dry ingredients
 Just a quick note – I used a bit less than half a cup of dark brown sugar, instead of the 1/2-3/4 of a cup of white sugar. I dislike overly sweet anythings, and dark brown sugar has so much more character than white that I thought I could get away with less than the required amount of sugar. And the bars were still a little bit too sweet. Though, if I made the bars without chocolate, the amount of sweetness probably would have been perfect.
measuring out the tasties
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon?? Hah! That’s a
heaping teaspoon for you
mixing the yumbly stuffs together
pouring out some buckwheat honey
action shot! whisking the wet ingredients
adding the hazelnut butter
squooshing it all into the pan
ready to bake (über-blurry. . . wheee)
I tried something arty. Didn’t work
Baked!
A second note – notice the closer square is less evenly golden-brown? The tin I used was slightly smaller than the other, and so the squares were a bit thicker than the first batch. My inner-expert-baker was having a nap and this didn’t occur to me as an issue until I was starting to cut the squares. . .
listen to the original recipe – use a
serrated, not sharp, knife
They weren’t the prettiest bars – I should have waited to cut them until after they were thoroughly cooled. But they were certainly tasty. After giving some to my friend, and some to the boyfriend, we have very little left today, only a few days after they were made.

Yup. Two left. Oh wait, I ate one. . . So just one left now.
And I have lists of ideas for other flavour combinations. I can’t wait! Two more baking projects to share with you, Dear Internet, coming up in the near future. I hope you’re having a phenomenal weekend!