December 29, 2012

Our Slightly Wonky Christmas Part One

Just about everything about Christmas was different this year. To begin with, we knew we were not going to be able to spend very much because we have so many bills to pay. Our little baby is a running, climbing toddler now, so a lot of our normal decorations (and Christmas activities) had to stay in the box, as it were. Add in some sickness and you end up with chaos.

I guess the very first thing that was different this year was that my husband and I decided that we should only spend $20 on each other. I was worried because I knew that it would be unlikely that I could find anything at that price that would make him happy, Doldin being an electronics guy. So he suggested that we each choose our own gift, which was a first for me. He wound up getting parts to make an arduino (and no, I didn't know what that was until he explained it to me), and I got this. Yes, it is a children's product, but it will be very useful to me in my paperdoll designing. I even got it $2 cheaper with the aid of a coupon.

Though I like my choice, I found it somehow sad to be buying my own gift. Maybe I'm just old fashioned?

Another thing that was different this year was that we attended our church's Christmas Eve service rather than going to my parents' house. Unfortunately, Doldin was feeling awful and The Precious was very sleepy, so they had to leave before the service really got going and I spent the rest of it alone. At least I didn't mess up when it came time for me to bring up the wine. I had never been an oblationer before and was pretty nervous, but as I said, it was fine. After church I got a ride home from a friend who really needs to do a blog of her own--she's incredibly talented! Just look at the gorgeous gift basket she gave us! And believe me, the contents taste even better than it looks.

We didn't get the tree decorated until Christmas Eve. Or perhaps I should say, I didn't. My husband put up the tree and got the lights on, but there were no decorations except a paper chain I made from old Xbox magazines until the very last minute. After the service, I decorated the tree feverishly while poor Doldin snored on the couch feverishly. I could only decorate part of the tree because The Precious thinks that ornaments are toys. Most of the ornaments that I have had since I was a child were breakable, so they were left off. Instead, we ended up with a tree covered mostly in handmade ornaments and those painted Styrofoam balls from the dollar store. The star would not go on straight either.

So, not our most glorious Christmas tree, but at nearly midnight on Christmas Eve, I didn't care.

But the tree wasn't all that I had to work on! I still had gingerbread to make and a hat to knit for my new baby nephew, and Santa still hadn't arrived.

So I stirred up my gingerbread, which baked

while I knitted and did festival quests on Lotro!

I also tried to get caught up on dishes and laundry. At two AM on Christmas morning, I gave in and fell into bed. The hat still wasn't done.

Thankfully, I woke again full of Christmas spirit, largely due to the smiles of my sweet baby and husband. It was wonderful to see how much The Precious enjoyed her new gifts!

Santa knew she'd love a xylophone!

The Precious unsheathing the sword Santa left in her stocking.

She has never seen a sword wielded in a movie or anything, but she knows what to do with one anyway!

She enjoyed sitting in her new (used, but new to her) chair and unwrapping a gift from a relative.

She was so full of joy she just had to stop for a cuddle.

Of course the cats had to play with the wrapping paper, and Moonbeam found a box to sit in.

In my family, it was a tradition that each of us kids receive an ornament every year to save for our future Christmas trees. We decided to continue this with The Precious, and found her a lovely porcelain angel made by a local artist.

I got some great gifts from friends and family too--I'm going to have to do a whole blog post about my new jockey cap soon! And I have a feeling that the Jane Austen calender is one I'll be using for wall decor even when 2013 is past.

Where was Doldin during all of this? Photographing and filming when I couldn't, of course.

There were lots more presents and way more photos than I could fit in here, even splitting this into two posts! So, friends and family, you will find a link to the rest of the photos soon. Just please be patient. All three of us are sick at the moment!

Part Two coming ASAP.

December 27, 2012

Thank You, Everyone!

I have not felt very well and have avoided the Internet for a few days, but I wanted to say that I have just been overwhelmed with the generosity of my family and friends this year. It has been a very rough year for us financially but at this difficult time of year, thanks to you (and you know who you are!) our cup runneth over. I am truly blessed to know such good souls, and I pray that God will bless you as you deserve.


PS. There will be Christmas posts coming soon. Late, yes, but they will be here.

December 26, 2012

A Tribute to Helena

I've been meaning to make a treasury like this for ages: a treasury inspired by Helena Bonham Carter and her fashion choices. I finally got around to it today and the results are pretty good, I think.

Helena Bonham Carter Treasury

Please check it out, click on your favourite items, and give it some love!

December 24, 2012

The Doctor is in my Little Golden Book

While reading one of my childhood books to The Precious this morning, I made a startling discovery. The Doctor has been there all along.

"I wear a candy cane now. Candy canes are cool."  His bow tie is under his collar, but it is there.

The Doctor does look pretty jolly and I love his silly legs.

And here is the book that held the Christmas surprise.

Now we know where the Doctor was in 1974. But of course, it's what he was doing in Victorian England and how he met a certain Clara Oswin that we are all dying to find out, and tomorrow, we will!

A Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. :)

December 23, 2012

Nerdy Quote of the Week

This week in honour of Christmas, I give you a piece of A Christmas Carol that is always left out of the movies. To me it is special because my childhood largely featured feeling alone except for the characters in my books, who seemed so real sometimes that it was hard to believe that the kids around me were the reality and the characters mere fictions.

The Ghost of Christmas Past has taken Scrooge back to his childhood and showed him his old school, with the young Scrooge left alone, reading in a cold schoolroom when the other children have gone home for the holidays.

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his young self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading an ass laden with wood by the bridle.

"Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstacy. "It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, yes, I know! One Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine," said Scrooge, "and his wild brother, Orson; there they go! And what's his name, who was put down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus; don't you see him! And the Sultan's Groom turned upside-down by the Genii; there he is upon his head! Serve him right. I'm glad of it. What business had he to be married to the Princess!"

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed.

"There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. "Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again after sailing round the island. 'Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?' The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!"

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, "Poor boy!" and cried again.

"I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late now."

"What is the matter?" asked the Spirit.

"Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all."

Already Scrooge's heart is softening! The power of the pen is great indeed.

On the 11th Day of Catmas my True Love Gave to Me...

December 22, 2012

When Christmas Cooking Goes Awry

Dear Liz and Tammy,

I was going to give you each a nice jar of homemade chocolate covered cranberries. Instead, you are getting this blog post. I am so sorry! Here's what went wrong.

To begin with, I have never made chocolate covered cranberries. It was just an idea I got when I found cranberries in Winn Dixie's produce department. It sounded like a good idea and I still think it is, it is just my execution of it that was horribly flawed.

The melting of the chocolate went just fine. It is, after all, hard to mess up that step unless you just walk out of the room and leave it for an hour or something.

It was only when I added the cranberries that the catastrophe occurred. See, I had left them frozen thinking that this would make the chocolate stick to them quicker and more easily. Well, it did all right. It immediately adhered to them...and turned them all into one giant mass.

Not particularly appetizing, is it?

Well, I thought I still might be able to salvage things by breaking the mass apart and separating the cranberries. Nope. When I tried that, I found that inside the huge block, most of the berries were completely uncovered with chocolate, and when I tried to get chocolate to stick to them, it wouldn't because it was now too cold thanks to the freezing berries.

Here were the sad results of that attempt. Some of them have chocolate on them that is still squishy, or was when I started this post at any rate. I guess it just couldn't handle the cold temperature of the berries and it started separating.

I am SO sorry! I love y'all and I really wanted to give you a unique gift. The good news is that this might end up on, so your names could be immortalized in the blogosphere. Not quite what I had hoped for, but maybe it will do for now?

Love (and Merry Christmas!),

December 18, 2012

The Last-Minute Christening Gown

In November, Doldin and I were confirmed and The Precious was christened. I knew it was coming for months but of course ended up waiting until right near the actual day to start making the christening gown for The Precious. I made a practice version, which you can see here.

Based on this prototype, which was based on a dress I have made for myself a bunch of times, I got ready to make the real thing. First I had a panic upon looking at the eyelet fabric I had chosen. What had seemed like plenty now looked like it would not be enough, so I took the long drive to the nearest Joanne's to find something similar. Apparently eyelet is considered a seasonal fabric and there was NONE in the store. I found an interesting alternative fabric, however, and mentally redesigned the dress to make use of a plisse cotton for the bodice and lower sleeves (added mentally to balance the fabric usage). While I was there I grabbed some bleached muslin to use for lining and found a gorgeous lattice ribbon for a sash.

Upon actually sitting down to cut the dress out, guess what I found out? I had had plenty of fabric all along after all! GRRRRRRRRRR

So with time running out quickly, I cut out the dress pieces.

I still use the pincushion that my mama made for me when I was about six years old!

I unfortunately don't have pictures of this part, but the night before the big event, I was still making the dress and realized to my horror that I had sewn the bodice on upside down. To make it worse, I couldn't find my seam ripper anywhere. I was worn out and collapsed, thinking that I would probably have to dress The Precious in a dress I'd picked up at a yard sale--the same one where I'd bought her Halloween costume dress, in fact! It wasn't solid white, but it would be better than nothing.

The day of the christening/confirmation found me taking The Precious to the doctor (another very long drive) because her hair was disappearing at an alarming rate. It turns out that she is pulling her hair out as a way to relieve stress. I'm very glad that it isn't a sign of a vitamin deficiency or anything, but it was very unfortunate timing--she had a big bald spot just in time for her big night!

We got home late in the afternoon and suddenly I was seized with the crazy idea that I still had time to get the dress together. I used a needle to pull up a stitch so that I could snip it with the scissors and so removed the stitches holding the bodice on upside down. Then I still had to sew it on the right way round, add the sleeves, make the elastic casing, thread elastic through the top of the bodice, get it to the right degree of tightness, and finish it off. Doldin came home and was dressed and ready to go to church; I was dressed too and still trying to finish the christening dress. We were already really needing to be at the church when I managed to tack the ribbon to the waistline to make a sash.

And so The Precious was christened in a white eyelet dress that has way too many flaws in it to be considered anything but a piece of last-minute sewing. Many of the seams are not twice-turned and the top still somehow ended up being too bosomy, but she looked beautiful anyway. The service was quite long so she was pretty tired when it came her turn, but she didn't even cry when the bishop leaned her head into the font, and remained quiet through the whole service.

Here she is with our priest, who is one of our favourite people.

Her proud new godfather, James, held her part of the time. He's so good with kids! (And ladies, believe it or not, he's available!)

The bishop was very busy but he held her for some pictures too. He also blessed and signed the Bible she was given, which is, appropriately enough, covered in white eyelet.

Read Your Way to Freedom--Literally!

My husband, Doldin, just wrote a really interesting blog post about a solution to jail overcrowding that is truly (warning: pun coming!) novel.

To read about it, visit Lost in Dictation here.

December 17, 2012

Accessories FTW

I love how adding a different hat or piece of jewelry can completely change an outfit. Here are some of the accessories I'm drooling over at the moment.

I have been dying for a mini top hat ever since I first saw one, and this is, to me, the best-looking of the lot.
Satin Top Hat

I am in love with this shabby-chic fascinator!
Victorian Rag Doll Fascinator Hat

Big floppy hats are a must, in my opinion. You can't go wrong with one in a colour like this.
Head First Hat

I love all of the handcarved hairpins from The Ancient Muse, but this is my favourite.
Forest Elf Mori Girl Woodland Hair Pin

Tie dye is always fun and cheerful. Yes, I am a hippie and I know it.
Tie Dye Headband

I know that some of my choices are a bit unusual, but surely everyone will agree that this is wonderful.
Giant Dwarf Constellation Crown Silver

Let me just say here that I was going to include my favourite bobby pins and realized that they will have to be their own post--I have so many favourites!

Literature and jewelry--a great combination.
To Kill a Mockingbird Finch Brooch

Cats and flowers are another.
Black Cat Brooch with Pink Flowers

This ring has been tantalizing me for too long now! It has even inspired me to try to achieve the same look on my nails (with mixed results).
Sea Green and Gold Size 8 Multifaceted Eco Resin Ring with Suspended Gold Flakes

I can't imagine a ring getting much prettier than this.
Vine Heart Ring Size 8 to Size 9

Everyone needs an unusual necklace or two. I love this swinging rabbit!
Rabbit on a Swing Necklace

For darker moments, this heart necklace is perfect. I have never been into cutesy hearts so this is just the thing for me!
Anatomical Heart in Brass Necklace

I love funny jewelry for dreary days. So here it is, a true "statement" necklace!
Look at My Shoes Necklace

Tiny golden masks are somehow both whimsical and elegant.
Tiny Gold Mask Earrings

These amazing earrings not only make you look beautiful--they help Darfur too.
Dreamers for Darfur Earrings

Art Deco is big again, thank goodness, and these bracelets from Avon would add a hint of Deco flair to any outfit.
Pavé Accent Bangle Bracelet

Real fern and baby's breath are preserved in this bangle!
Fern and Baby's Breath Resin Bangle

As a seamstress, I want this measuring tape bracelet! What a creative idea :)
Red and Black Vintage Measuring Tape Bracelet

Coloured, textured tights are a necessity year-round. If you can stand wearing them in summer, that is. Aren't these fun?
Sheer Houndstooth Tights

20 Denier Checkered Fishnet Tights

Commando Big Dot Tights

The closet goth in me is dying to make some cuffs like this!

For carrying around my books and knitting, this would be cute and useful.
Red Kitty Tote Bag with Pink Bow

I would probably use this as an everyday sort of bag, especially if I ever get to go back to college. It would look perfectly at home in the anthropology department!
Pocket Boho Bag

To organize little things inside the bigger bag, I would need this cute pouch made by a local seamstress.
Brown Linen Zipper Pouch With Cotton Crochet Trim

And this I would love to have for fancy occasions! Tres chic, non?
Light Blue Silk Clutch Purse with Gold Antique French Script

Finally, I have to include some bow ties, because, as we all know, bow ties are cool! I really enjoy wearing them.

Eco Friendly Bow Tie

Hawaiian Quilt Freestyle Bow Tie

Mens Bow Tie Cocoa Brown Irish


Fashun iz Exausting