Friday, December 31, 2010

We Have a Winner!

Thank you all for participating in the CSN giveaway!  I had a lot of fun visiting many new blogs and will continue to do so for the new few days.

The winner of the CSN $40 gift code is...

Number 47, julstew!
Congratulations, Julie!  An email with all the details will be on its way to you shortly.  

By the way, if you want to see a cute little puppy, check out Julie's half miniature dachshund, half yorkie (a "Dorkie," Julie says).  She is just adorable, and her name is LuLu!

Thanks again to all who stopped by and entered the giveaway this week.  I hope you come back soon!  And to all, I wish you a safe and Happy New Year!

(Note: I removed the first comment from the entries, since my friend Shay lives in Australia and therefore had to sit this one out, in case anyone was wondering why Random Number Generator shows only 86 entries when there were 87 comments.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway!

Did you get everything on your list for Christmas?  Are you in the mood to shop some more?  I'm not talking about shoveling eight inches of snow from the driveway and bundling up like the Michelin man to go to the mall.  This will be much easier than that.  We're talking pajama shopping from the comfort of your own home.  Are you warm to that idea?

Then you've come to the right place, because CSN Stores is giving one lucky reader who comments on this blog post a $40 gift code, which can be used at any one of their over 200 specialized online stores!  Whether you're looking for modern decor, furniture, office supplies, or shoes (even in my size!), you can probably find it at CSN!

I clicked around their All site for a while the other day, since I'm feeling in a bit of a home decorating rut, and found several things close to the $40 range that I wouldn't mind having, such as:

Ashton Sutton Starburst Mirror

 Le Creuset Teakettle in Kiwi

 Dwell Studio Owl Boudoir Pillow in Sky

 Nexxt Float 5-Piece Collage Frame

Graham & Brown Sepia Sunrise Printed Canvas

All you have to do is leave a comment with a valid email address, either one I can find readily in your profile, or type it in your comment (use DOT and AT for the symbols, if you want).  Please check before you comment that your profile has an email visible and that you are not set to "no reply."  I want you to win, but I won't be going to extraordinary measures to find you if you've won and I can't email you to send you the gift code.  In that case, I will simply redraw.  Actually, Random Number Generator will be doing the work of picking a winner, but you get what I'm saying.  

You can get ONE ENTRY for commenting.  You can get a SECOND ENTRY if you are a Follower and leave a second comment telling me so.  If you're not already a Follower, feel free to hop in the Follower conga line forming over there on the right, but please don't feel you have to.  I'm not out to increase my Followers to a certain threshold.  Okay, maybe that'd be cool, but it's not the point, and anyway I'm probably not all that interesting.

You have until noon Central Time on Friday, December 31 to enter.  I will announce the winner shortly after that.

Edited to add:  I almost forgot--this giveaway is open to residents of U.S. and Canada only, as that is where they ship to.  Sorry Aussie and international friends.

Let the fun begin, and good luck to all of you!

UPDATE:  Giveaway has ended and the winner has been posted HERE

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 20

Did you have a good Christmas?  

I did, but I'm a little sleepy and hung over feeling this morning. 
Oh, not in the too-many-glasses-of-Merlot sense.  I mean the lots-of-food, so-much-going-on sense.  Like you need a day in your Snuggie watching the Clint Eastwood movie marathon DVD you got yesterday, drinking strong coffee, and maybe taking a walk
later in the cold air.  Or maybe that's just my idea of restoring equilibrium after all the festivities.

My niece Shaina - She got the Phil's Diner pillowcases!

But it was all good.  I had a great time with family yesterday.  

These two little guys, my great-nephews, are adorable:

Chandler is walking like he means it.  He turns one next month.  

Big brother Brayden meant business with this piece of pie!

Dad got the shop vac he wanted.  He's looking forward to another Wisconsin Badgers Rose Bowl Championship sweatshirt after next week's game against...whoever they're playing...the Horned Frogs or something?  Horned Frogs.  Okay, seriously?

Christmas dinner was great--three varieties of lasagna: Meat Lovers, Veggie Lovers, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free--and baked ziti as well.  I brought home few leftovers, so even my GFDF version went over well.  Don't knock the tofu and pine nut "ricotta" until you try it.

After dinner and the gift exchange, we siblings tuned up the guitars and played some music together.  That was a lot of fun (never mind the expression on my face...I hadn't played guitar in a couple years and my fingers were throbbing).

We worked out a few songs from the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration.  Then we broke out an old Eagles tune, some Hoochie Coochie Man blues, a smidgeon of Zep, and ended with some Christmas songs.  Good times.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
I was the lucky winner of a couple of giveaways before Christmas.  The first was this darling selvages and strings needle book from Brenda at Scraps & Strings.

I also won the Christmas book giveaway at My Mink Betty.  She has a Christmas Book Advent Calendar tradition in her family that sounds like fun, and now I've got a jumpstart on one of my own.  

I especially love the book Olive, the Other Reindeer, and look at the facing pages!  

Would that be an awesome quilt?  I'm trying to figure out how I could do wonky seams and still make everything line up.  Hmm...

And you can be a winner too (please forgive me for sounding so Publisher's Clearinghouse cheesy).  I'm going to be hosting a giveaway soon.  Check back in a day or two for details on how you can win a gift certificate from CSN Stores.  Did Santa forget something?  Does a little after-Christmas shopping sound good?  I thought so.

Oh, and Before I Forget - Happy Birthday, Norm!
Today is my husband's birthday, which I usually forget until halfway through the day, poor guy.  His special day gets lost in the holiday hoopla (though he does get some extra presents on Christmas).  But hey, it's still morning and I've remembered to wish him a happy birthday already, so we're doing well this year.

And I hope all of you have a great day relaxing or doing whatever makes you happy.  Now where's that remote?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

Also:  Aretha Franklin singing O' Holy Night (unable to embed, but well worth the click to watch on YouTube).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry and Bright

It's a beautiful day here in the Upper Midwest.  Temps are just above freezing, making the roads slushy, but the sun is bright and glimmering on the freshly fallen snow.  A good day for enjoying the view from the kitchen window and stirring up a batch of caramel corn! 

I've made caramel corn at Christmastime for many, many years, as it makes a great gift for coworkers and friends.  And since I've gotten a few recipe exchange emails lately (which I won't be forwarding but appreciate the sentiment), I thought I'd share this recipe here with you today.  

It's one of those tried-and-true, easy recipes that came from a friend's mom who made the best caramel corn I'd ever tasted.  This was back in the early '80s, when I had better handwriting but my college-educated self apparently could not spell the word "caramel."    

I spelled it like we say it here in Wisconsin:  'CAR-mel.

We also say things like "Oh, yah" and "Hey, dere."  I'm just sayin'...*

Anyway, popcorn.  You need two big batches of unsalted popcorn.  I use an air popper and fill up my turkey roaster.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Then, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt a stick of UNsalted butter and a stick of margarine with 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of dark Karo syrup, and 2 teaspoons of salt.  When this starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue boiling it for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in a scant 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. 

That's the fun part, because it gets all foamy.  Yah hey, it does.  Okay den.

Pour the caramel mixture over the corn and give it a stir.  Don't get too crazy with the stirring though, because you don't want to crush the corn kernels.  Go easy dere, hey.

Put it in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.  You're going to take it out and stir it every 15 minutes for an hour.  The stirring spreads the caramel throughout so the popcorn gets coated evenly during the hour that it bakes.

Wait once.  We have to put some wax paper down on the table while it's baking.  This is where we're going to dump it to cool after it comes out of the oven.

I use a little dab of glue stick to keep my sheets of waxed paper from shifting.  Don't worry, it says it's nontoxic.  And it's not like it hasn't been taste-tested by thousands of kindergartners all over the world anyway.

After the fourth and final stir, immediately dump the caramel corn onto the waxed paper and spread it out to cool. 

Then eat!  Or, bag it up and give it away.  Or freeze it (we Wisconsinites call that putting it out in da garage).

*I have never used "dese, dems, and dose" in conversation, nor did my parents.  I'll never forget the comment of my first boss, who said one of the reasons he hired me was because I could "speak the King's English."  (That's Wisconsinese for "articulate.")  Saying "Yah," however, is another matter...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 19

I've taken a pretty minimalist approach to Christmas decorations this year.  We plugged in a pre-lit, four-foot tabletop tree the first week of December, but never got around to hauling out the other boxes.  That's okay; we're feeling the Christmas spirit all the same.  

My dad gave me some vintage ornaments that he remembered being on the family tree when he was growing up. I put some in an old relish dish and hung the rest.  I came downstairs one morning to find them sparkling in the sunrise through the east window.

I made good progress on various sewing and quilting projects this week.  I finished sewing all the clutch purses, which I blogged about earlier this week.  I also worked on a couple other small things, which I can't show you yet because they're gifts and the recipients might be reading this.  

I also finished quilting the baby quilt for a friend.  It's done in a variegated blue thread, which seemed to work pretty well.

And I made myself a hat out of some scrap fleece.

It really makes my hair static-y, not to mentioned flattening the heck out of my do.  But it's warm.

Digging It
The blizzard of last weekend dumped 11 inches, per the official total.  It took a few days for the snow to finally melt off the top of the garden window.  As it did, an extraterrestrial appeared. 

E.T. phone home...

My African violets don't care what the weather is outside.  They're bloomin' crazy!

This is the one I repotted a couple months ago.  It's pretty happy about its new digs, I think.

The doorbell has been ringing fairly regularly with deliveries of Christmas gifts ordered, etc.  But I was super stoked to get this package.

Cheese!!  Well okay, it's fake cheese, which I'm sure sounds like a really strange thing to get excited about.  But since I have to eat dairy-free (and gluten-free), I was ecstatic to find out about this vegan alternative.  So far I've tried it on a tuna melt and in a baked pasta dish, and you know what?  It tastes like cheese!  We are having lasagna for Christmas dinner, and I cannot wait to make a pan with the mozzarella for my daughter and I to enjoy.

Though this post seems pretty much all over the place, things are coming together for the holidays around here.  I have wrapping to do and maybe a little more baking.  

Gluten-free Chocolate Cookies, recipe by Gluten Free Gobsmacked

How about you?  Are you ready for Christmas?

I listened to Harry Connick, Jr.'s holiday album while I quilted today.  Here's one of my favorite tunes to get you started out on a festive glide over the week ahead.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PhD Challenge

I have hopped on board Myra's PhD Challenge (PhD = Projects Half Done), and my project list post is up over there today.  Click HERE to check it out.

Here is a quick list of the projects (plus an extra) that I've committed to finish between January 1 and June 30, 2011.

1.  Doll Quilt.

2.  Whirlygig Christmas Quilt.

3.  Wave Runner Quilt.

4.  Attic Windows Wall Hanging (optional).

5.  Climbing Lanterns Quilt/Wall Hanging.

6.  Veggies Wall Hanging.

I'm a little intimidated by the list, but I'm more embarrassed about it than anything.  You can join in too!  Just click the link above or on the side bar and sign up before January 1.

Here's to tackling those PhDs!