Category Archives: Food

Weekend Roundup, Imbolc Edition

Yes, I missed last weekend’s roundup. I’ll do it eventually and backdate it [It’s done, here.] The most important bit was the spinning 102 class, and I have that in note form written to people who asked about it via e-mail.

This was a fun weekend, but draining. Friday I went out to lunch with MLG, where I had truly delicious braised lamb shanks and a pint of cider, and then as the weather was lovely, I walked him to class. It was a tutorial, actually, but wow did that feel odd; I’ve been out of school for a decade (my shiny new MA is no longer so very shiny or new) and the university neighbourhood has been polished and reworked, and two new metal and glass buildings have sprung up where there were once boarded-up lots.

(Many joke intros ran through my head on the way home. “So a cellist and a drummer walk into a pub…” was one of them. So was “So an EngLit MA and an MBA guy walk into a pub…”)

On the way home I stopped to deposit Emily’s second cheque (so close to the end of this project!) and pick up immediately necessary groceries, and I swung into Winners to do a quick look round because I could, and I so rarely do. While there I saw a pair of burgundy shoes on for half-price and wavered for a moment, but then told myself sternly that I shouldn’t even try them on and left.

Saturday morning we all went out on errands. While out we finally found an Anakin figure as well as an Ahsoka figure, and the boy was thrilled to finally have people to fly his starfighter. We also picked up a new Scrabble game, as ours has gone AWOL (most likely to people who love it and use it frequently), as the boy saw me playing an online Scrabble-clone game on the iTouch with Emily and various other people, and was frustrated because he couldn’t play. I promised that a real board would be easier to use, and it was. He loves it, and calls it Scramble, and we got about five rounds in before he decided he’d had enough.

Saturday afternoon Ceri called and asked if I wanted to go over and play, so I packed the spinning wheel, my Phat Fiber box to show her, and my cotton, and off I went when the boy went down for his nap. We had lots of fun, although spinning the cotton continues to elude me. I tried shredding it and spinning from a cloud and it sort of worked, but it keeps drifting apart. I’m trying to find the sweet spot between overspinning it and getting it to hold together, and it’s just not happening. I saw another video where a woman was long-draw drafting right from the unsplit roving; I think I’ll try working on that again, since the cloud doesn’t work, and the splitting roving to narrower pieces doesn’t quite work either.

I soothed my annoyed spirit by making my first foray into the Phat Fiber samples and spinning a quarter-ounce of lovely dyed Merino wool from Ambrosia and Bliss. It was my first experience with Merino, and I suddenly see why people like or hate it it so much. It’s very spongy, with lots of tiny crimp; quite unlike the smooth BFL and Corriedale I’ve been working with. It made a lovely chain-plied 20 wpi yarn:


Why, yes, 20 wpi is heavy laceweight/really light fingering weight, thank you for noticing. And for noticing that it’s chain-plied, too, which means there’s three strands in that plied yarn. You’re very kind. I draw ever closer to confidently spinning the gorgeous Lorna’s Laces fibre Ceri bought for me my spinning wheel when I got it. And while taking pictures of the yarn on the bobbin I accidentally discovered a setting on my camera that I dubbed Awesome Yarn Shot, which does excellent close-ups. It’s so much better than the so-called macro setting, which just gives big blurs. Both those pictures are taken with the Awesome Yarn Shot setting. Go on, click View Image to embiggen the picture of the skein and see how lovely the yarn is. That’s a standard-size business card with it. (Yes, there’s a bit of variation in the grist of the yarn but hey, it’s my first Merino.)

Sunday morning we headed over to the Preston-LeBlanc household for an Imbolc brunch. Things were a bit rocky because the boy woke up at 4:30 and decided to come snuggle with us, and I didn’t have the energy to march him back to his own bed. I should have, because he squirmed and kicked and played with cats and talked and made everyone tremendously grouchy, so when he said at 5:30 that he was hungry and wanted breakfast both HRH and I had had quite enough. HRH fed him a piece of bread with some juice, and told him to go back to bed. The deal was he could sleep with us if he slept on HRH’s side of the bed and not the middle, and lay very still so that he’d actually fall asleep. This happened, thank goodness, and we all got another hour of dozing in. Once up, I made a fabulous pesto-cheddar quiche with a homemade pie shell, and off we went. I also packed up the wrap I’ve been working on for my eldest goddaughter since, what, October?, having sewn the buttons on the night before. We were greeted with mimosas and happy people, and the morning was subsequently wonderful. Our plates were full of raspberries, blueberry scones with crumb topping, and bacon, and quiche, and it was all fabulous. We made Brigid’s crosses with pipe cleaners afterward, and then we gave my goddaughter her wrap. She loved it, and I wish I’d been less tired by that point so I could have made more of a fuss over her. The new batteries I’d put in the camera that morning turned out to be dead, so I took photos with their camera and will post them when they get to me.

When we got home we fed the boy and then we all napped. After the boy’s nap we went out to pick up the groceries we needed for the rest of the week, and thanks to the encouragement of fellow Twitterers I went back and tried those shoes on. They’re so incredibly comfortable, and both HRH and the boy approved, so I bought them. And finally, we went to the library, where I collected the new Tracy Chevalier book Remarkable Creatures and the latest 44 Scotland Street book by Alexander McCall Smith, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. And I snagged the Clone Wars Visual Dictionary for the boy, which interests both HRH and I so much that we may have to own a copy of it.

The boy clamoured for Scrabble game before dinner, so all three of us installed ourselves at the kitchen table at his direction and we played a really solid game. The boy did lose interest again after five rounds, but he brought toys into the kitchen and played while HRH and I kept going, and we played his turn for him too.

It was, overall, a lovely weekend, although I was wiped by Sunday noon.

Weekend Roundup

I’ve been trying to work up the energy to do this post, but it’s hard. Saturday pretty much killed me, and various small irritations on Sunday piled up and got bigger, and by this morning I was ready to classify the whole weekend a loss. Which isn’t accurate at all, and intellectually I can look back and see all the good things that happened; I’m just in a bad headspace, and the fibro is winning today.

Saturday morning the boy and I took HRH to the airport, where he rented a car to drive to the Ottawa anti-prorogation rally. The boy and I came home, made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, then headed out to attend the double-barrelled Aubin-Murphy progeny birthday party at Fundomondo. The boy had been looking forward to this for weeks, so it was a crushing obstacle for both of us when he encountered the giant indoor play structure and realized that it overwhelmed him. He desperately wanted to play on it, but it scared him at the same time. There were about twenty minutes of very stormy tears before I could coax him into the party room for some snacks and juice. Part of the problem was that the last time he’d been, he was young enough to play in the little kids’ section, and this time he was definitely not. But he’s old enough to get halfway up the big kids’ structure, look down, and be terrified. In the end we spent our time curled up on one of the couches together, playing with the games on the iPod Touch (and Debra showed us a rollercoaster game on hers, which thrilled him to no end). He was awkwardly caught between the ages of the older children and the youngest, who has been his playmate at the caregiver’s, but who was sticking to her older sister like glue, racing around the play structure with no fear. I think he might have been okay if he’d had someone of his age up there with him to distract him and encourage him along. He was very upset that I couldn’t play up there with him.

For my part, it was lovely to see and speak with adults I don’t see very often. And I got a cup of coffee and a piece of cake out of it, too.

(Small irritating thing of the weekend Number One: When we were divesting ourselves of our winterwear, the staff member who greeted us asked the boy if he’d like a grilled cheese or a hot dog for lunch at the party, and the boy said, “Chicken nuggets.” The man said, rather snottily, “We only serve healthy food here.” To which I wanted to say, “You’re offering my son hot dogs and you saying you’re serving healthy food? We make homemade breaded chicken nuggets, thank you very much, which I guarantee are one hundred percent healthier than your hot dogs.” I need to rethink my “keep mouth shut and don’t engage” policy, because I’m really tired of being the one to bite my tongue to avoid confrontation when people deserve to have their rudeness pointed out.)

After the party the boy indulged me and let me go to the yarn store in the same mall, where I picked up two braids of Fleece Artist roving (why I didn’t pick up all three there I do not know; perhaps I will stop by this weekend and see if the last one is still available). We got home and assembled the Knex kit that had been in his loot bag, then played with Lego and coloured until HRH called to be picked up from the airport again. After dinner the boy asked if he could play Rock Band, so we set it up and he absolutely smashed his way gleefully through Blitzkrieg Bop on the drums. Twice. Allowing him to do something so exciting just before getting ready for bed may not have been the best of plans, but we had a heck of a lot of fun.

Astute readers will see that there is no nap in this daily summary, and that is correct. I suspect that had something to do with the tears at the party as well; it all coincided with what should have been his naptime. Anyway, all this to say that when the boy’s teeth had been brushed and his pyjamas put on, he came into my office to tell he was ready for our storytime, and he looked at the computer monitor, where he saw dear little Zoe, Neil Gaiman’s cat who was dying from a esophageal tumour (and whose exquisite portrait graced my desktop for a good three months last year). And without a pause, the boy said, “Is that cat dead?” and started crying. Yes; before I’d had a chance to tell him who it was, and why I was reading a post about her. We soothed him for a good ten minutes, because he was extremely distraught about this cat whom he’d intuited was dying, and that propelled him into wanting Maggie, and asking if Zoe was going to go to the Summerlands, and was she going to be well again there, and what happens to their bodies?, and it was hard for everyone. We talked about writing “your friend Neil” a note to make him feel better about Zoe, telling him that she would meet Maggie in the Summerlands, and it really touched me that this child wanted to reach out to a man he’d never met to make him feel better about his loss. He is, at times, so intensely empathetic.

He passed out within four minutes after his story, before my cuddle was even over. I wasn’t surprised. It had been a very emotional day for him.

HRH and I were then initiated into the joys of Settlers of Catan, a board game that we’d heard about for a good sixish years but had never played. The upstairs neighbours bought a set, and we all settled down with Bailey’s and cookies and had a really good time. HRH and I are planning to buy an expansion set for it so we can do this semi-regularly.

Sunday we decided to do absolutely nothing. Friday I’d broken into the light brown Coopworth I had bought over Christmas week, and I was horrified at the quality of it; it’s full of neps and vegetable matter. It’s frustrating because under all the crap I can tell there’s a fluffy, soft, silky long-stapled wool. So Sunday I decided to wrestle with it and try to determine the best way to spin it, because I wasn’t going to waste it. I got some Aran/bulk two-ply done, but I decided to experiment with a laceweight single, theorizing that it might be easier to pick out the neps and dried grass that way. The Coopworth has grudgingly agreed to be spun laceweight, but only with plenty of cross-lacing, and by supported long draw. Neps were mostly minimised this way, but it’s still annoying. And I discovered that I have *another* bag of Coopworth stashed, in dark brown; it’s what was included in my wheel when I bought it. A quick peek into the bag shows vegetable matter and a few neps there, as well; I wont know the extent of it till I haul some off to predraft it and try to get it spun. Research on Ravelry forums this morning has turned up the general opinion among wheel sellers and buyers that the fibre included in the Louet wheel kits is of seconds quality; apparently some LYSs open the boxes and switch out the crappy fibre for good fibre instead, which is really nice for the beginning spinners. Reading this, though, I wondered if the LYS I bought this bag of fibre from did something similar, but put the lousy-grade fibre taken out of the box on the shelf to sell to an unsuspecting spinner, like me. Either way, I’m not impressed. People have assured the spinners of low-quality fibre that the Louet stuff in general is good, which has otherwise been my experience.

While I spun and muttered nasty things at my fibre, HRH and the boy played video games. The boy’s getting to an age where he’s got more fine motor control and a better understanding of how to manipulate controls to obtain a desired outcome, and to understand instructions. He has also reached the age where he finds the Raving Rabbids hilarious. HRH still has to talk him through things, and often has to direct a lot of the action, but it was great to hear them giggling together in the next room. We also got him going on the Wii Fit balance games, and the Shaun White snowboarding game that Scott worked on, and much fun was had.

For dinner I made a fabulous turkey pot pie with half the breast we’d frozen from Christmas dinner, and slurry stock from the 2008 Christmas bird. I usually use phyllo pastry to top my pot pies but I forgot to defrost it in time, so I made a basic shortening dough which worked brilliantly. Lacking anything else I added diced potatoes and parsnips along with the onions, and it was delicious. While I cooked, HRH whisked the boy downstairs to look at the upcoming weather, and while they were down there they logged on to WOW and the boy made a character of his very own. When I went down to get them I discovered that the boy had made a gnome rogue, and had already mastered how to move around, how to initiate an attack, and the key combos to follow through. He very proudly showed me how he took down wolves to sell the meat in order to gain a pair of leather gloves.

When he was in bed, HRH and I headed out to our sort-of-monthly-but-not-really steampunquian game, which was fun for most of us but oddly paced. When I got home I slept badly, being woken up once by a cat and once by the boy, and in between having stressful dreams about the steampunquian party being caught in a dangerous underground situation, and then about having a huge emotional confrontation with one of the player characters (one that I suspect is coming eventually, but it was very upsetting in the dream nonetheless), and finally about stage managing a play where no one was ready for anything and the second lead actress didn’t show up after intermission so I had to go on with a script in my hand while still stage managing. And something that frustrated me on the way out of the game the previous night started gnawing at me, so today has been unpleasant as a result of it all. And it’s grey and rainy and I’m just generally out of sorts.

But so far I have done work associated with the cello manual, and solved a wifi Mac mystery with the help of my research skills and my local Mac allies (which took up way too much of my time today, but at least now I know that it’s nothing I’m doing wrong — in fact, I am doing everything extra-right — it’s someone else who hasn’t secured their computer properly and my Mac is picking up their file-sharing signal), and have handled correspondence, among which was contact made by a previous client who will have more work for me soon, and who put a friend in contact with me for a small contract with them. So!

I missed the window I had for cello practice when no one was in the building, and because it’s so grey outside I can’t tell what time of day it is, which messes with my sense of how the day unwinds and things are paced. No, looking at a clock doesn’t help; I can’t internalise it. And so the day feels like it has gotten away from me.

I need to repeatedly remind myself that when the fibro rears its ugly head, I am not a failure, and that it’s okay to be quiet and not get things done.

Weekend Roundup

After being sick for a whole week, I’m grateful for a fabulous weekend. Friday was good; I ate bland food cautiously, but did a whole editing pass on the cello manual, got an hour and a half of practice in, yogaed, and even played some Wii sports that night after the boy went to bed (had the achy muscles the next day to prove it, too).

Saturday morning I had my first cello lesson of the year, and it went well. This may have had something to do with the hour and a half of work I did on Friday reacquainting myself with book 3, or the beautiful weather (cold, but sunny and still) but whatever the reason, I was in a terrific mood, and pulled off a decent Gavotte. We then filled my slate with working on the musicality of the Gavotte, the 3rd pos Ruined Castle tonalisation, and the Boccherini minuet. (Good grief, what is the Boccherini doing so early in book 3?) And with the pile of work we have to do for orchestra, that’s going to be plenty. When one’s teacher shakes her head over the orchestra material and says, “This is going to be a challenging programme,” you know you’re in for it. I’ve been very afraid to look at the orchestra material. As much as I love it all, it’s hard, and I know that means I will love it less very soon, and least of all right before the concert. It will take a couple of months before I enjoy it again.

I also have to keep reminding myself that the work I’m doing in the Suzuki material is supplementing my orchestral development in particular, and my musicality in general. It’s not like I’ve never used third position, or extended shifts, or seen these keys before. I’ve reviewing things I’ve learned elsewhere, and using simpler pieces to work bits of technique and provide a relatively easy environment to play with musical expression. I need to get past the oddness of telling people that I’m on book three, but I’ve been playing for fifteen years. (Whoa; I just checked, and I started in July 1994. That means we’re rapidly coming up on sixteen years.)

I’d intended to run a couple of errands on the way home but I’d forgotten that I’d have a cello in the car, so I rescheduled them for later in the day and made a cake when I got home instead. After the boy’s nap we all headed out for the errands and checked a couple of shops for a Star Wars action figure the boy has been hunting for, I made a pile of photocopies at the office supply shop (and picked up some tags for my skeins, although I forgot the larger binder I needed for my cello lesson material, grr), and then we went to the library. I scored a pile of books, among them a new Timothy Findley collection. One stops watching for new books to be published when an author dies, so this one slipped past my radar when it came out in 2004. Hurrah for libraries that actually keep up on Canadian lit! This is called Journeyman, and is a collection of articles and personal journal entries by Findley and edited by his partner, Bill Whitehead. It’s a nice companion to In Memory and From Stone Orchard.

The boy and I mixed a rub for the pork roast when we got home (dijon, flour, salt and pepper, various herbs) and the boy painted it on very intently. Then we made icing for the cake and frosted it (with an icing-sugar rescue from the upstairs neighbours, bless them). The boy put sugar sprinkles shaped like yellow baby chicks on the top (part of an animal set we’d bought to decorate one of his birthday cakes; the set had fish, dinosaurs, pigs, and chicks) and was delighted with the effect. The roast was fabulous, but the potatoes not so much; they’re a floury potato instead of a waxy kind, so I didn’t get the texture I was going for at all. And the gravy separated when I put the cold juices in, almost curdling, and it never got back to what I wanted it to be, either. It all tasted fine, of course. The cake was delicious, and was 95% gone twenty-four hours later.

Sunday morning we made pancakes for brunch, and then Ceri picked the boy and I up and we went to Ariadne Knits, our favourite local yarn shop, to play. I registered for the Spinning 102 class at the end of the month (exotic fibres, open to wheel spinners, not just spindlers, hurrah!), petted the Hound spindles but was steadfast in my resolution to not try one (the fifty dollars can go other places, like towards that workshop, or fibre, or, you know, groceries), and got most of the order I’d placed in November! My tencel and oatmeal BFL came in, as did the BFL/silk blend (soft, soft, soft!), but they’d been sent the wrong size of high-speed bobbin, alas, so the one thing I was really, really hoping for was not there.

We knitted for a while and chatted with MA. I worked on the boy’s scarf; he did one whole stitch on his own and then bounded off to play with storage cones again. The boy played very well with the toys on the shelf and the books (“Can you read this to me, Mama?” “Um, it’s German.” “Oh. Then I’ll read it.”) and the games on his camera. When it was time to leave he reluctantly got dressed and packed to go, and when we were home we hauled Ceri in for tea and cake, and we all knitted some more. I have now knitted back all the stuff I’d frogged on Mum’s silk scarf and beyond. There’s only 0.2 of an oz left (which is what, five grams?) and while that sounds like nothing, it’s a pretty fine yarn and so there’s more than you’d think. That tiny ball of yarn feels like it hasn’t gone anywhere, though, which is understandable, I suppose; after knitting a couple of feet over Christmas I ignored it for a week, and then adding and frogging fiveish inches this past week means it’s stayed pretty static overall.

I decided to make spaghetti for last night’s dinner, and that was delicious, too. I have just discovered that crushing a final clove of garlic and stirring it in just before serving the sauce adds a very nice flavour. It was a very good weekend food-wise… no, it was a good weekend all around. I’m very thankful for it; I really needed one.

Weekend Roundup: Sunday, Solstice Edition

Sunday morning we had the upstairs neighbours over for our now-annual Yule waffle brunch and small gift exchange. Blade and I were still in fine form from the party the night before and snarked all morning, amusing ourselves terribly. The boy got a Lego tow truck kit from them and decided that I should be the one to assemble it. I don’t work with Lego very often because I simply don’t think in three-dimensional block form very well, but give me a kit with instructions and I’m fine. They gave me a lovely Celtic knot print in my favourite autumnal earthy colours, and a sampling of Saxon chocolates, including my favourite sea salt caramels!

The local grandparents arrived just past ten-thirty for our early Christmas celebration. The boy was very patient for all of ten minutes, so we settled down and started opening presents. He’s at the age where he can actually appreciate each gift he opens again, instead of just enthusiastically opening things left, right, and centre. There weren’t as many gifts as there usually are, for which was very thankful. Part of this is due to the fact that we didn’t have both sets of our parents here, so the floor around the tree wasn’t as crowded as usual, but part of it was that we were all pretty restrained this year. We gave HRH’s dad a movie, and his mom a hand-knitted scarf, and Liam got a camera of his very own, which he began using right away, taking some very respectable pictures of his favourite ornaments on the tree.

The big hit, though, and the present we saved for last, was the early gift that Santa brought him: the racetrack he’d asked for when he saw Santa at the mall. (I knew HRH’s parents had bought him something from the Cars line of toys, so I pinged his mom to see if that’s what they’d gotten, and it was, so we were all covered. Bless them.) A very close second was Anakin’s Clone Wars starfighter, which went to bed with him for both nap and overnight.

HRH and I both got wallets (with money inside, hurrah!) and socks (it amuses me that when you get socks as a kid you’re let down, but as an adult you’re thrilled because it’s one less necessity you have to buy). I got a lovely plum-coloured knitted wrap that’s just gorgeous and so very soft.

My best gift, hands-down, though, was this:

It’s HRH’s newest painting in his Celtic Totems series. My office smells like oil paint, as it was still a wee bit tacky when HRH brought it up for me. (Kudos to Blade, who improvised a nice cover the other day when I was downstairs in the basement office and said, “Hey, it smells like varnish or something down here.” “Oh, I accidentally hit the button on one of my spray paints,” he said. Apparently when I’d left HRH looked at him and said, “Smooth. Thanks.”)

While everyone else played with the toys and nibbled on the various seafood and other hors d’ouevres that HRH’s parents had brought, I started getting food going. I’d brined the turkey the night before, and had realised while falling asleep that I didn’t have enough bread with which to make stuffing. I made a batch in the breadmaker as soon as I got up, a whole wheat/herb quick bread that I shredded and toasted in the oven when it was ready. In retrospect I shouldn’t have toasted it into croutons, because the whole wheat bread was already drier than white. I mixed up the stuffing and put half in the bird, and half in a baking dish, then put the turkey in the oven. Then I mixed up pie dough, because I was short a pie shell thanks to the previous day’s disaster, and had the worst time trying to get it to stick together. I kept adding ice water and it just wouldn’t cling. Eventually I squeezed it together and put it in the freezer to cool off a bit before rolling it out and mixing up the pecan pie filling. And then I discovered that unlike the little aluminium plates that prepared pie shells come in, my metal pie tin doesn’t fit in the oven next to the roasting tray, so I had to take the turkey out to blind-bake the shell for twenty minutes. I couldn’t afford the next half-hour it would take to bake the pie entirely, though, so a quick phone call confirmed that the neighbours were fine with us borrowing their oven, and HRH went upstairs with it. I set our timer to remind us to go get it when it was ready. The bird went back in the oven, was ready around quarter past four, and HRH carved it for me while I made the gravy. I heated up my mother in law’s excellent special mashed potatoes in the oven as well as baking the other half of the stuffing (which turned out to be unneeded on the table), and parboiled carrots before frying them in butter and doing a quick maple syrup glaze. And then we all feasted, feasted, feasted! The pecan pie was lovely, even though some of the filling managed to work its way through the shell and caramelize on the bottom. A soft dollop of whipped cream balanced it nicely.

Somehow, I completely forgot to make rolls to go with dinner. Didn’t even think about them in the overall meal plan.

After his grandparents left, there was a bath for the boy, the second chapter of Prince Caspian, and then bed. He woke up for no particular reason around ten while I was in the bath, although I didn’t find out till I checked on him between bath and bed. I cuddled him back to sleep, and fell asleep myself. A very full day, and forgetting to eat properly in the middle of it was not a good thing. Apart from that, though, it was wonderful. We are so blessed to have close friends and family with whom to celebrate the season. And the celebrating has only just begun!

Weekend Review: Saturday, Pre-Solstice Edition

On Saturday HRH and I had a treat: we got to drop the boy off with his local grandparents early on, and go out all day by ourselves!

It was a shopping day, mainly. We hit the big Chapters on the West Island and found gifts for seven or eight people in one place, which shortened our day impressively. We were thwarted in our attempts to obtain the new TMBG kids’s album yet again and told them to correct the damn inventory already so we’d stop asking them to find it for us, and to prevent other people from going through the same exasperating exercise. (Seriously, people: stock’s been at three since September. Are they actually in the store? No. No one’s been able to find them any time we’ve asked for it.) Thsi time they gave us a coupon that gave us 15% off a book as an apology, which impressed us. And when we got to the cash I discovered that I had a 25% off coupon in my wallet, so the camera we bought for the boy was less than we thought it would be, and we had the swipe-twice card as well. It was a good experience; always nice to be told at the cash that you’re paying substantially less that you expected to pay.

We picked up what we needed at Omer de Serre and Best Buy with little to no pain and stress, and would have gone to the dollar store for the usual socks, mittens, pencils, and Christmas cups for the boy’s stocking except the lines were positively ugly, so we picked up our groceries instead and went home. I wrapped what presents I could, having discovered that somehow all our tags, ribbons, and bows had been thrown out in on of the several garage clean-ups this past year. Fortunately, we still had a bunch of gift bags and some usable tissue paper, and I cut up some of last year’s Christmas cards for tags.

At home I made lemon meringue pie for the co-coven Yule gathering later that afternoon. We will never again buy the No Name pie shells (in the interest of full disclosure, I do have to say that I usually buy the Tenderflake shells if I buy shells at all HRH picked these ones up). I baked the first one and it came out of the oven in pieces, although it had gone in as one unit. I rescued the second shell before it did the same. Homemade lemon pie filling is delicious, especially when one uses brown sugar instead of white; it has a lovely butterscotchy undertone. Piles of meringue, thanks to the stand mixer. In fact, the recipe made so much filling and merigue that I layered the pieces of the first shell in a baking dish, poured the remaining filling over it, and covered it with the rest of the meringue. Of course, this means we have a lemon pie here, and I have no idea when we’ll eat it.

We packed the upstairs neighbours into the car and got to the hosts’ home for the co-coven party, and it was just lovely. Good company, good food (sushi! Chinese fondue with the best broth I’ve ever tasted! duck and bison meat! an absolutely fabulous hot spinach and cheese dip om nom nom!), lots of laughing, very social cats, a great simple but important ritual, and an all-round wonderful time. Our gift exchange was reduced from the usual baked item and a gift for our Secret Santa exchange to a single “make or bake” item (money’s tight all around), and as luck would have it I drew HRH’s name. On Friday I knit him a striped cup cosy for his take-out coffee (he always forgets his reusable travel mug at school) from the leftover yarn I used to make his Gryffindor scarf last winter, then I hand-felted it so it could be washed without a problem, and it was a hit! (I was told later that it also fit beer bottles, which amused me.) I was the only person who made my gift instead of baking it! I got a tin of very excellent Rice Krispie squares (no cat feet were involved in the making of them, I am assured). We had to scurry away to collect the boy so that his bedtime wouldn’t be too insanely late, but it would have been wonderful to sit and laugh some more.

The boy was sitting quietly in his grandparents’ living room looking at a book when we arrived, all bathed and in his pyjamas. They’d had a wonderful day together, decorating the tree, baking cookies, and playing. We also collected the turkey for the next day’s festivities, and a lovely evergreen swag that my mother-in-law made for our front door. Back home we curled up in bed and read the first chapter of Prince Caspian together, and then it was bedtime. Everyone needed sleep, because Sunday was to be our local family Christmas celebration!

Weekend Roundup: Saturday With A Side Of Friday (backdated)

Most of Friday is detailed here.

When the boys got home I pulled myself together and we headed over to the mall for the boy’s Santa visit. We timed it well; there was only one person in line ahead of us, and several piled up behind us while we waited. The boy chattered about what he was going to ask for, and instead of the train he’d been talking about for weeks or the airport he’d recently begun considering, he suddenly decided he wanted a racetrack. He uncharacteristically went shy when it was his turn, and we all had to coax him along to even begin talking to Santa; he wouldn’t sit on his lap but eventually climbed on the stool once he’d started talking non-stop. As always, the Santa and elf on duty were fantastic with the kids, and the photographer was great as well. In this miraculous digital age he took three snaps and allowed us to choose which one to keep.

While the photo developed at the one-hour place the boy and I took HRH to the flu clinic in the mall and left him there while we mailed a little package and went to Renaud-Bray to pick up a couple of small gifts. We were on our way to the car when we remembered the photo, and went to collect it.

Once home we baked some chicken nuggets for the boy and started decorating the tree. I was supposed to attend a cookie exchange party, but officially bailed due to dizziness and light fever (and in retrospect wasn’t that a good idea?). HRH put the lights on while the boy and I unwrapped all the ornaments and laid them out in like groups. The boy hung a handful of special ones (among them his Lightning McQueen ornament and the X-wing ornament MLG got me years ago) and then it was bedtime. Speaking of MLG, he agreed to stop by and take the yarn I’d spun for Janice and the Rice Krispie squares I’d been able to salvage from the Cricket-catastrophe along with him to the cookie exchange party, for which I was fervently thankful.

HRH ordered our traditional tree-decorating sushi dinner, we ate, and by that point I was so exhausted that I could only sit on the chesterfield and watch him hang the majority of the remaining ornaments. This is a big thing, because I’m the chief ornament hanger, and direct the show. Not this year. I was so tired I couldn’t even bring myself to worry about where things were going. We left the tiny ornaments that go on the ends of the branches and the wonderful icicles Jan made for the boy to finish hanging the next morning.

Saturday morning I got myself to the dress rehearsal for our annual holiday cello concert, which was excellent. Our duet got an appropriate impressed response from the other students (yay us!), and the group pieces were really nicely blended. Our teacher had made macaroni and cheese as a light lunch after the rehearsal was over (this was inspired by the fact that every time her two youngest students did an exercise perfectly she’d put five pieces of macaroni in a jar; the goal was to collect as much macaroni as possible before the concert!). I left feeling really confident about the concert.

When I got home I told HRH I wasn’t going to ADZO’s surprise party, scheduled for late that afternoon, and eventually he agreed to take the boy alone. I was cranky about missing yet another social gathering, but I would have been crankier if went, because I was tired and achy and had a nagging headache. (Again, in retrospect, an excellent decision, what?)

On to Sunday!

Today…

… we get our tree after school!

Of course, first I have to get through half of this project, and spin the rest of Jan’s yarn, but still! Tree!

The boy is having a hard time understanding why we’re not decorating it till tomorrow, though. I’ve explained the need to let a real tree rest in the stand so the branches relax properly, but he doubts me; I imagine he suspects me of just dragging the whole thing out to torture him. Anyway, before we decorate tomorrow evening, there’s a visit to Santa for the boy, shopping for me, and a flu shot for HRH that has to happen after school. HRH and I will order sushi, as is our tree-decorating tradition, and the boy will probably have chicken nuggets, although I will offer him hosomaki as I always do, and maybe ebi nigirizushi.

Now, I will make more tea, get the first load of laundry going, and get to work.