'Twas the night before Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2012

I am quickly checking in tonight, to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas", a most joyous of holidays alongside your loved ones.

The past few weeks have been a blur of planning, shopping and cooking.

We did manage to make our yearly visit to the Montreal Christmas Market, and I snapped a few photographs. It was a typical Montreal winter day. Freezing cold with a crystal clear, blue sky. We warmed up by huddling together on the train ride for little ones, with a glass of spiced wine (recipe here), and around the fire-pits that were strewn around the market.

Santa made his appearance and for the first time ever, Aidan was fearless, sat in his lap, and spoke to him.
We enjoyed lunch at a little french cafe around the corner, and headed back home. One of my favorite winter traditions we've started.

Perhaps, if I find some time during the holidays I will post about my knitted Christmas gifts. Now, I will go enjoy Santa's cookies and milk, but to be honest, I am thinking Santa deserves a glass of wine. Perhaps, this is a tradition that I will start next year!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Five years. My little boy is five years old today.

I always get a little sentimental when it comes to his birthday, because I know how lucky I am.

Lucky to experience motherhood, when some of my friends have trouble conceiving.  

Lucky to have a healthy, happy child when there are parents that have to endure the heartbreak of caring for a terminally ill child.

Lucky to be able to come home and hug my son, and I have been hugging him a little tighter since Friday's events in Connecticut.

So, today I feel grateful for our good fortune, for living a normal, uneventful life.

Every year on his birthday I've written a letter to Aidan. Sometimes I write about the highlights of teh past year, sometimes I write about my experience being his parent, or about my own childhood. I hope that these will be a fun and interesting read for him when he will reach adulthood.

Do you have any birthday rituals? For your kids or yourself? How do you feel about your kids getting older?

Advent Calendar and accepting imperfection

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There are only 10 days left till Christmas, as I have realized with horror, and not much has happened in way of preparation. Not nearly enough. I am hauling out decorations and feverishly writing lists of things still to do before the holidays. I will never get everything done in time!

I did manage to stick to one tradition I started 2 years ago (see here and here), I made and Advent calendar for Aidan. And that, at the last minute, by that I mean the night before the first of December.

I have been meaning to photograph it , however the weather has been so overcast on weekends, that I barely get any light. This is the best I could do:

My favorite crafty blogs are full on ingenious ideas, and so is Pinterest, but due to the time constraint, I chose to go with a simple idea. Each envelope contains an activity for us to do each day. We have crafts, coloring, baking, singing. There are outdoor activities too, such as a visit to the Christmas market (another yearly tradition) and a trip downtown to admire the decorations.

Aidan has really thrown himself into the Christmas spirit this year, making sure the activities are followed and done the way he believes Santa would like them done.

Seeing him so happy and filled with anticipation, I stress a little less, as I realize that it does not all have to be perfect. He does not care if the decorations match, or the wrapping is "professional", or there are three types of cookies instead of ten, or the house is immaculate. He is perfectly content making his Christmas crafts, while humming carols, and correcting me, when I incorrectly sing along in french!

So tonight, even though my list is still long, I will pour a glass of wine for my husband and I, and we will curl up on the couch to watch a Christmas movie, and glance occasionally at the slightly lop-sided Christmas tree in our living room.

The list will still be there tomorrow morning!

Craft Fair - a weekend captured on Instagram

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ever since I visited the POP Puces market last year, I have been toying with the idea of signing up for a craft fair. But it seemed like such an intimidating endeavor, to open oneself up for criticism, to allow people to see my passion and "judge" it.

But I had to try. In the end, I decided   POP was perhaps too big a bite for me for a first try, so when my son's daycare organized a fair this past weekend, to raise funds for the kid's activities and shows, I was game.

I had 2 months to prepare. This may sound like plenty of time, but considering that I work full-time, and that my husband often travels for work, this only results in a couple of hours of knitting time per night. Still, I threw myself headfirst into the project and did manage to whip up quite a few knits. I focused on simple hats, neck warmers and scarves in kid's sizes, some cup-cozies, Christmas ornaments and felted bowls.

I was immensely proud of my stash. I scoured Pinterest for display and packaging ideas, and exchanged ideas with knitter extraordinaire Rebecca from the blog nook. Friday night I tested my set-up, put together an endless list of things to remember, and went to sleep, anxiously awaiting the next morning.
How can I describe the experience? It was wonderful to meet talented and like-minded people, that I can exchange ideas and stories with. I am always amazed at the wealth of ideas out there, and at how warm, welcoming and helpful the crafting community is.

The event itself, was unfortunately not a roaring success. Not even a mild one to be honest. I was disappointed to see, that despite everyone's efforts, almost none of the 140 families that bring their kids to this daycare showed up. I do not mean to sound whiny, but as a mother, I find it hard to understand that some parents do not take an interest in what goes on at their child's daycare, or what problems the daycare faces. These funds would have been invested in extra activities, as well as outfitting the center with more books and supplies. Who would not want that? Either way, I learned quite a bit, and I am grateful for that.

Regardless of the outcome, I am really happy that I participated and that I had this experience. I will certainly sign up for other fairs, I think I am ready!

I leave you with a few Instagram snapshots of the event.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few weeks ago, something my son did, gave me pause. His cousin had hurt herself, and was crying, but he was completely unimpressed, concerned with continuing the game he was playing.

It made me wonder. Is compassion something you are born with? Is it something that can be taught? To be honest I was bothered by the fact that he did not go up to her to check if she was all right, to try and comfort her.  

In speaking to my friends that also have kids the same age, I was given examples of children reacting the same way, but also of children that are very concerned with the well-being of others. I probably over-analyzed the situation, but I could not let it go.

So my husband and I spoke about this subject at length, and decided that even tough some people may be more sensitive to the needs of others, this sort of attitude is certainly something that can be taught. But how to approach this subject with a 5-year old child?

The perfect opportunity presented itself to us, when my husband was approached by a work-colleague who is a spokesperson for "Samaritan's Purse". It is a wonderful organization with multiple initiatives. One of which focuses on providing kids all around the world with some joy around the holidays.

We chose to fill 2 boxes  one for a boy, and another for a girl. We explained to Aidan that not all kids are as fortunate as he is, that oftentimes parents are unable to give their children everything they need, no matter how hard they try.

Then, this weekend we went shopping and involved him in the choices, and I was glad to see that he was into it, asking questions and maybe even pondering this newly learned information.
I have always talked about how important family traditions are to me, and I think we have found a new one. We plan on packing these boxes each year, to make Aidan a part of the process and make sure that he learns to be loving, considerate and compassionate.

How about you? Any such traditions in your family? Have you ever had your child react in a way that has made you wonder about values and how to teach them? I would be curious to know!

Embracing the cold

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter is just around the corner. The temperatures have slowly been dropping, we've graduated from fall jackets to winter ones, our scarves and mitts have been getting quite some wear.

My main concern in the winter is comfort. I turn to things, activities and traditions that bring my comfort. One of my favorite ways to relax (if and when that happens) is with a hot drink. I always make sure that my cupboard is stocked with all kinds of tea, coffee and cocoa. I am ecstatic that the red cups are back at Starbucks, and that I can indulge in a Caramel Brûlée. Another tasty treat is the London Fog Latte from Second Cup. And this one, I have managed to re-create at home.

For those of you that wish to try, here's how.

1TBSP Earl Gray from David's Tea

1 Cup Vanilla flavored Soy milk
1TSP honey.

Let the tea steep in the hot milk for about 5 minutes (you can use more or let it steep longer depending on how intense a flavor you are looking for). Add the honey and froth some milk to top off the drink, and voila, delicious, homemade London Fog Latte. I like to believe that this is less calorie intensive then the original.

And you know what makes this moment perfect? A tasty macaroon and the knowledge that you can work on your most recent knit project for (hopefully) a blissful, uninterrupted 30 minutes while your little one naps.

Fall is upon us

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Where does time go? I blinked, and fall is upon us! As warm and sunny as our summer was, our autumn is making up for it with cool temperature and rain.

I had a couple of blog posts planned, but our outings were cancelled due to bad weather. Between that, and finishing the basement in our house, my material for the blog has been quite thin.

We did manage to drive up north for our annual apple-picking trip, and even though my favorite kind was no longer available for picking, we had a pleasant picnic and a fun outing. While the kids played, the adults sat on a bench, sipping coffee, indulging in warm apple-fritters, and feeling the warm sun, thinking of what a great summer we had.

I now have 20lbs of apples, and even though we've been eating quite a few, it seems we've barely made a dent. I might delight you with some baking-related posts. At least those are not weather-dependent!

We are continuing to live by the "love where you live" mantra, and thus were thrilled to discover that only 5 minutes from our house there is a nature-park, perfect for exploring on weekend afternoons.

Just like last year, we gathered leaves to use in craft projects at home.

On the knitting front, I have been working on the Conversion Cardigan, by Jared Flood, and it's coming along great (picture to follow soon). Unfortunately it will have to be put aside for a bit, as I have now finally signed up for my first ever craft-fair. I have been threatening to so it, for a year now, and I am now officially stocking up with knits for this momentous event taking place at the end of November.

What have you been working on? Are you in baking mode? Any delicious recipes you'd like to share?

Levenwick Take Two

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I really cut it close, but I am excited to say that I was able to finish 2 sweaters during the now famous luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater KAL. My first was a linen T-shirt, blogged here and raveled here, and my second, a request from a  dear friend, that I was more then happy to oblige. This was my second time knitting Levenwick, and it is a lovely pattern. Perfectly suited for the fall weather we have been getting lately.

I have to admit it took me by surprise. As soon as we came back from our NY trip, the temperatures dipped, and we find ourselves digging out the scarves and sweaters. Our house seems to be located in the flightpath of migrating loons (is that the plural?), and every day we get to see them fly overhead, loudly proclaiming their departure, so close that you can see their little feet tucked in. I have planned our yearly apple-picking visit, my baking recipes have been dusted off, the blankets are out, and I re-stocked my pantry with all sorts of different types of tea.

Fall always makes me feel ambivalent. I am excited about the upcoming holiday season, even though I know it's a stressful time for a lot of us, it's still something to look forward to. At the same time, I feel sad to witness the end of summer. Especially this one, it has been absolutely fantastic. It's scary to realize that my little boy will start school next year, I keep telling myself that I cannot possibly be the mother of a school-child, I mean when did that happen?

But back to knitting. Levenwick is done, blocked and photographed. This time around, I learned my lesson, and took good notes, at least I think they are, so if you have any questions, check out my Ravelry project page.

New York

Sunday, September 23, 2012

You know those weekend getaways that you always say you're going to plan, or take, but somehow never happen? No?

Well, for us, New York City was one of those. It's "only" a 7 hour drive from Montreal, and the last time we visited was 8 years ago. That time it was just the two of us, we went for New Year's and we focused on eating, celebrating and experiencing the city during the holidays.

This time around, it being the three of us, the focus was a bit different. It was great to see the city through Aidan's perspective, to observe his amazement and his enthusiasm, though at times I wished I could have tamed his excitement.

We walked for hours, absorbing the energy that seems to permeate the city. I took a few hundred photos, and it seems impossible to properly capture the atmosphere, to do justice to such an amazing city. I love it's vibe, the buzz, the craziness, the noise. And the fact that all of this is offset by a perfect "little" oasis that is Central Park.

Here are some of my favorite shots of NYC:

The highlight of the trip for A. was taking a cab. After that, he tried to hail one himself for the rest of the trip. Picture a 4 1/2 year old, sitting in a stroller (yeah, he still does) waiving his arms and yelling "Taxi, Taxi", every time a yellow cab drives by. It was pretty funny.

For me, the highlight was being able to dash into "Purl Soho", for a blissful 30 minutes, to admire their goodies. Had it been at all acceptable I would have followed A's example and run down the street waiving my arms and yelling: "Yarn, Yarn". You knitters out there understand, no?

It was a magical weekend, and I can guarantee I will not let another 8 years pass by before going back!.

Next wekend, HOPEFULLY, I'll show off a finished Levenwick.

Love where you live

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not only does the calendar say September, but I have noticed a nip in the air in the mornings. The sun is now only rising after I have taken my shower and there is that hint of gold in the tree-leaves. I am having a really hard time letting go of this summer, it's been so incredible, so our little family is making the most of the last few remaining summer weekends.

This time we visited a bee-farm. Intermiel is only a 30 minute drive from our home. Nestled in the hills, you come across an apple orchard where beehives are scattered between the rows of trees. The farm not only produces honey, but also maple syrup and an array of products related to the two. You can join a tour of the facility and learn about beekeeping or simply wander around and drink in the atmosphere. We chose to do both.

The kids were delighted to discover a petting zoo and a playground and burned off enough energy to quietly join us for some honey-tasting and a visit to the shop.

I cannot tell you how many fond memories this little adventure has brought back to me. My uncle kept beehives as a hobby when I was young. As we lived in the cit, joining him on weekends on his drives to the country to tend to the hives was a wonderful distraction. My sister, my cousin and I would pile into the car, drag along toys, books and snacks and simply enjoy time spent outdoors.

I loved the time we spent cooped up int his garage or basement, helping him work the honey extractor or label the jars. I still remember the smell of the wax and the honey, the sweetness that seemed to permeate everything. This visit brought me back to those days, and I can only hope that I can create similar experiences for my own son.

The next morning, as I stirred a spoonful of honey into my tea and the sun was shining through the kitchen window, I could not help but feel a pang thinking of those days.

As a family, we've made a conscious effort to explore our own surroundings a bit more, to acknowledge how lucky we are to be living here. This "attitude" and therefore this post was inspired by the "Love the place you live" feature on the "Design Mom" blog. It really opened my eyes to the importance of being appreciative of my own environment. Stay tuned for more!

What about you? Do you like exploring your own city?

The Apron

Monday, August 27, 2012

I love food. I love experimenting with different tastes, recipes and spices. One of the first blogs I ever followed regularly was not a knitting blog, but a food blog, La Tartine Gourmande. So there's always something simmering in my kitchen. As in many homes it's the centre around which life unfolds.

Since we moved into out new house 4 months ago, I have been busy thinking of decorating (see my Pinterest board) and making our house into a home. I like to be surrounded by things that have a meaning, items I've picked up during my vacations, a memento from my childhood, family photos. And lately also hand-made items, a felted bowl, a knitted pillow-cover and apron. I know you may think...really? An apron? Why should I be impressed by an apron? But you do not understand, for someone that had to film the sewing instructions she got, this is a big deal!

I am proud to present my second sewing project!

As always, my go-to blog for ideas is The Purl Bee. The Tutorials are the best. I am starting to get the hand of this, though I have to admit that the stripes on the fabric were a life-saver!

I also followed the suggestions of some of my blog followers and purchased the Lotta Jansdotter "Simple Sewing" book and I cannot wait to tackle some of those projects!

How about you? Any great food blogs you care to recommend??

Levenwick- the mystery of the invisible purl increase

Sunday, August 12, 2012

One of my favorite knits so far has been the Levenwick cardigan by Gudrun Johnston . I have worn it countless times, and it is my most admired knit, both in person and on Ravelry. I was asked by a friend of mine to make another one, and I happily obliged. And what better time then now, when there are still 2 months left before the deadline for the Luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater KAL runs out.

I thought it would be a quick project, since I have already knit it once. I was making quick progress on the cardigan until I got to the yoke, which for increases uses the "invisible purl increase". I remember stumbling across this part the first time around as well, so I hopefully turned to my notes. Alas, I did not make any on this particular subject. So I turned to Google, which surprisingly, failed me, as it had the first time around. I had no choice but ti figure it out on my own....again.

The pattern notes give the following instructions:

"Insert the right hand needle from the top down into the purl stitch that sits below the next stitch on the left needle. Purl this stitch and then purl the next stitch on the needle."

A decent explanation, but I am that kind of girl that needs pictures. So here's my first ever tutorial on the "invisible purl increase".

Now, I have no way of verifying that this is indeed the correct way of doing it, all I can say that this is how I have knit it. If I am incorrect, please let me know!

And at this point a "thank you" to my husband who took these photos despite some serious hay-fever this morning!

Spring Garden Tee & why you should always do the measuring yourself!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I've finally finished the "Spring Garden Tee", that was meant to be a birthday gift for my niece. Once the ends were woven in, and it was blocked, I was really excited to see it on my niece. I went over, armed with my camera, ready to take some gorgeous FO shots.

Perhaps I should have known. There had been signs. All I had to do is hold it up to my son for comparison. Or think back on previous conversations with my sister. Because it turns out the more of a tunic. Apparently that's fine, it only means she'll be able to wear it longer.

I guess.

It does look really cute on her, no?

I have also started my second KAL project, another Levenwick, for a friend. I really enjoyed knitting it the first time around, so it'll be a breeze to finish by the end of September. More on that soon.

The perfect summer day

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What do you picture when you think of a perfect summer day?

Mine started with a perfectly blue sky, and enough me time to read a chapter of my new book, while enjoying a cup of coffee.

We then baked a little something. I love rhubarb, and my local grocery store finally started carrying it, so I've been trying a few different recipes. This one is from La Tartine Gourmande.

Lunch was followed by a quick run to my local yarn store . I was hoping to get some Pink Label Tanis Fiber Arts on sale, but ended up with this beauty:

And finally, the rest of the day was spent in my sister's pool.

We got home a little while ago, our skin still feeling hot from the sunshine we've absorbed all day. We're tired, but a good tired, if you know what I mean. I will sign off, and I am going to sit down and do some knitting. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend as well.