Monday, 28 December 2015

2015 In Review

I continue to blog because I love writing. It's hard to believe I've been blogging for almost two years already. In 2014, I was amazed to surpass my goal of one post per week, writing 63 posts with almost 17,000 views. This year, I am even more amazed to have written 76 posts receiving over 28,200 views (45,200 views total) from all over the world. I'm still not sure how I feel about Blogger stats. I have to be careful not to compare my blog to hugely successful sites. It helps to remind myself - this is a hobby. It's something I do purely for pleasure.

This year I was happy to add a "Free Crochet Patterns" page to my blog. I am new to pattern writing. It takes a lot of time and patience, yet I enjoy the process. I wonder if I will create something new in 2016? No pressure. I prefer following my creativity without making demands. My goal is to keep this whole thing fun and relaxing. 

I had intended to create monthly collages throughout the year to make it easier to complete this "2015 In Review" post . Of course I didn't do anything until today and couldn't remember how it was done. My link from last year explaining the process was no longer valid. Luckily I was able to find instructions on creating photo albums here and collages here.

I've worked all day reviewing my posts deciding what to include. Check out this series of collages providing a visual overview of 2015 at meo my crochet. As you will see it was another busy and productive year. 

January (Fluffy Ripple Blanket, Moss Stitch Infinity Scarf, Sweet Summer Ripple Doll Blanket, Packing for Cuba)

February (Daughter's TBT Birthday Wishes, Bobo Bunny Pattern, Bike Tour in Cuba)

March (Bunny Patterns, Greg Curnoe Posters, Travel Tale, Evie Bunny, Boo Bear, Pink Piglet, Crochet Chicks)

April (Freddy Frog, Crochet Kitty, Lucy Lamb, Curbside Scores, Son Moving to Guelph, Four More Chairs, April Birthdays, Easter, Blog-worthy Meal)

May (Pot People, Empty Nesters, Little Lambs, Ellie Elephant, Breakfast Crochet)

June (Devinci Drama, Baby Green Goblin, Fathers' Day, New Bike for Work, Starting Something Green)

July (Summer Staycation, Canada Day, Fergus Weekend, Party for our Neighbours, Happiness is a Choice, Mom's 70th Birthday)

August (Sunflower Doll, Elora Gorge, Moe, 30th Anniversary Niagara Weekend, Professional Photos of me Biking to Work)

September (Summer Crochet, Cat Bum Coasters, 60th Anniversary Celebration, Point Pelee, Husband's Birthday)

October (Fall Crochet, Crochet Companions, Boulder Trip)

November (More Owls, Crochet in the Car, Honey Boo Bear, Tidying Up)

December (Christmas, Lasagna, Training for our Trip)

I hope it brightens your day to read about my adventures in crochet and life. All the best to you and your families in 2016. Happy New Year!

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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Our Christmas

Our Christmas focused on family traditions and food. It was as wonderful as always, although we did miss family who could not join us this year. 

My husband's brother and his wife are traveling on a 4-week Asian Adventure. We've been entertained with their Facebook updates and photos from their travels, but we missed them at our family festivities this year. Their daughter (our niece) celebrated Christmas with her boyfriend's family near Goderich, so we missed her as well.

Our daughter and her family are starting their own Christmas traditions in Boulder, CO. They had their turkey dinner Christmas Eve. On Christmas day they opened gifts then ate home-made cinnamon buns for breakfast. For dinner, they ordered Chinese takeout, allowing lots of time to relax and enjoy the day with their kids. We miss them, but completely understand how difficult it is to get together when they live so far away.

Our Christmas started with my parents joining us for coffee and gifts around 10 a.m. (much later than when the kids were little). Our gifts adorned a table in our dining room this year, since we didn't put up a tree. It was suitably colourful and festive. My parents brought a gift for our dog who was very excited. She loved her new squeaky stuffy.
They also bought a fun gift for our son. A beer glass with the words:

And what to my
Should appear,
But a big bag of
And a six-pack of

Then they brought out the chips and beer. He loved it. 
More gifts were unwrapped. Everybody made fun of me for picking up the paper as the gifts were opened. I don't seem to be able to leave paper clutter, but everybody is used to my weirdness, so we laughed.
Our son tried out his antique wooden juggling pins catching on quickly.
After gifts, my parents went home. We walked to the Sifton Bog. The record-breaking mild weather was such a change from last year.
We were so pleased to see a couple of Santa's reindeer across the pond. 
Father and Son with Son finally taller than his Father.
Mother and Son with Son demonstrating his strength.
 We enjoyed walking in the Sifton Bog with all it's cool sights.
Back at the house, my husband did something in the garage involving his Audi TT and spark plugs. It kept him busy all afternoon, while I prepared our traditional turkey dinner.
Drinks, snacks and more gifts before dinner.
The table (smaller than usual) set and ready for the festivities.
We started with our Christmas Crackers. Lots of laughs, lots of food and good times with family. We thoroughly enjoyed Our Christmas.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Cute Christmas Tree

This year we finally got a Christmas Tree. My parents bought us a Cute Christmas Tree. It's a live fern type plant decorated to look like a Grinch Tree. It's tiny and totally cute in my opinion. 

After Christmas, we can remove the decorations then, if it survives the winter, plant it in our garden. How cool is that? 
Thanks Mom and Dad for this Cute Christmas Tree. We love it.

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Home for the Holidays

We couldn't be happier to have our son Home for the Holidays. His last exam was on Thursday, so my parents drove to Guelph to take him out for lunch before bringing him home. He is ready for some much needed rest, relaxation and recovery after a grueling first term. Second year Computer Science at the University of Guelph is challenging. 

After sleeping well into the afternoon on Friday, our son made our family favourite lasagna using my Dad's special recipe (scroll to end for recipe). 
It was delicious and a wonderful way to finish off our week. Lasagna, oregano focaccia bread, Caesar salad and red wine. Let's dig in. 
A couple more photos to celebrate our son being Home for the Holidays. My husband would rather I fetched the knives and forks while our son photobombs with 'the' finger. Yep that's our boy.

Lasagna (my Dad's special recipe)

1 lb extra lean ground beef
48 oz Heinz tomato juice (has to be Heinz)
1 bay leaf
1 - 5.5 oz can tomato paste

Fry ground beef until cooked through, add tomato juice, bay leaf and tomato paste.
Cook on low until done (simmer ~ 2 hours).

1 box oven ready noodles
1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese (we used grated)
1 lb cottage cheese (2 small containers or 1 large container)

Grease lasagna pan to prevent sticking.
Assemble 3 layers as follows:
Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese
Alternate directions for the noodles, lengthwise, crosswise, lengthwise

Bake at 375 F for 50 minutes (cover with tinfoil for first 45 minutes)
Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve, dig in and enjoy.

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Monday, 14 December 2015

Training for our Trip

We finally booked our next trip. I am so excited to be going to Cuba again with our bikes. Last winter, we joined CanBiCuba for a two-week guided cycling tour which was fabulous. You can read all about that trip here.

This winter we will be taking our bikes and staying at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo an all-inclusive beach resort surrounded by the Sierra Maestra mountains. This resort is located at the end of the South Coast road (our favourite route from the tour). It is quiet, rugged and perfect for cycling. We plan to explore the whole area within a 50 km radius on our bikes. There are plenty of route options. We'll just have to be careful to pack enough water and spare tubes since we'll be on our own this time.

Of course, now that we've booked, it's time to start Training for our Trip. My husband pumped up our tires on our 'trainer' bikes today. Tonight we rode indoors for the first time this winter. We're currently watching season 1 of a series called Longmire. It's a perfect distraction to take our minds off indoor riding. 

Our gym is well equipped with a comfy bed for our poodle, exercise mats, exercise balls, weights and a television. It was actually fun riding tonight. I managed 35 minutes with 10 minutes of stretching while my husband rode the full 45 minutes then finished up with some weight lifting. I think Training for our Trip is the best kind of fun.

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Keeping Christmas Simple

This year I am focused on Keeping Christmas Simple. I love our Christmas decorating featuring lots of snow people, Christmas lights, cards and Christmas crochet. We didn't put up a tree or switch over to Christmas dishes, but I think we have done enough. It's simple, yet lots of fun too. I am happy with Keeping Christmas Simple. Check it out.

This summer Peter Li took a photo of me riding home from work. If you missed it, you can read all about his kindness and generosity here. This week, Peter stopped me on my ride home and gifted me with this lovely print he had done for me and wished me a "Merry Christmas". What a nice thing to do. Thank you Peter. I love it. 

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