Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas...





Blessings to you and your families throughout this Christmas season, and always!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baby Shower Gifts!

A few finished items that I've finally sent to the recipient...

A little Owl Sleep Sack for Gunnar...
Aren't those owl cables just adorable?!
 And of course, some Big Sister gifts for the girls... these little owl hair clips are sooooo cute! And super easy to make. It only took a few hours from starting the cables to gluing them onto the hair clips.



Everyone was happy to receive their gifts, and I can't wait to meet little Gunnar!

D and I also contributed the altar flowers a few Sundays ago in honor of my father-in-law's birthday. I enjoyed putting the arrangement together, and think it turned out pretty well. Being the first Sunday in Advent, our chancel was awash in beautiful blues, and I wanted to incorporate some of that blue, but not overwhelm everything else. I think they turned out rather nice, don't you?


I've been busy decorating for Christmas, and I think it's time to finally put the tree up! Sounds like a perfect afternoon for some hot chocolate, too. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reflections

It's the end of an era. Literally.

Shortly after noon today, I submitted my very last final project for graduate school.

It's such a weird feeling. I'm done. With a Master's degree. But it hasn't fully sunk in yet. It will. Probably this weekend when I walk across that stage and receive my fake diploma, shake some important people's hands, and get my picture taken multiple times.

Wow.

I run in two polar opposite circles these days. On the one hand, it's very much expected that grad school is normal.... like it's very natural that I went on to graduate school right out of undergrad... and in a way, I feel like a quitter for not going on to get my Ph.D, or another master's degree, or... something.

On the other hand, it's a huge deal that I'm receiving my Master's, much less right after college. Being in the academic bubble for so long, I'd honestly forgotten what an accomplishment this is, because well..... it's what I've always expected from myself. I mean, I've been talking about getting a Master's degree since before college started.

And this past week, as I've completed 20 years of formal, fairly rigorous education, I've been so incredibly thankful for those who reminded me that yes, this is a Master's degree, and yes, this is really impressive.

It's been a long road these past two and a half years. Full of tears, anxiety, confusion, exhilaration, purpose, and questioning. Add in all those personal life changes, and it's been quite a ride.

Landing my first post-college, rock-your-socks-off-awesome, career-related job.
Getting married.
Quitting that fantastic job (and the heartbreak to go along with it).
Moving to a different city.
Meeting new people. Finding my place in the adult world.
Adjusting to my husband's somewhat public-eye career.
Community volunteering. Fieldwork. Comprehensive Exams.
And all those little things in-between.

But you know what? Now that I'm through, and stepping out of academia into the working world, it's been worth it. The memories and experiences, good and bad, have all helped shape me into the librarian I am today.
The librarian that will continue to encourage people to research, study, be the best scholars they can be.
The librarian who will still not-so-secretly nerd out about cataloging and metadata.
The librarian who will continue to connect people with the vast world of information and help them navigate it.

But really, I'll still be in academia. Because home is home, no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sankt Nikolaus Tag!

Today, we celebrate St. Nicholas' Day. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Last night, we put our shoes by the front door, and sure enough, St. Nicholas visited!

Presents from St. Nick! Also, notice the hilarious difference in shoe sizes... 
Originally a German tradition, Sankt Nikolaus Tag celebrates the life of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who died on December 6, 343. He is best remembered for his generosity toward those in need, especially children, which is where our tradition of giving presents at Christmas time began.

For more information on St. Nicholas, you can go here: St. Nicholas Center.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Which I Fail at Fondant... Mostly


{Tasty Thursday | Cupcakes!}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.


It's been a busy few weeks, full of baking, cooking, and food! Here's some photos of this past week's cupcake adventure...

Earlier this week, we planned on having a baby shower for a friend of mine. Well, as things are wont to happen, our shower was postponed after I had made the cupcakes. I wasn't too upset about the sudden excess of cupcakes around my house, as the fondant just didn't turn out to my liking. I thought it dried out too fast, but was still too sticky. Oh well. This was also the first time I used self-rising flour, because I didn't have time to convert my recipe to regular flour and include the other baking ingredients. I'll admit, aside from how cute they turned out, the peppermint cream cheese frosting was probably my favorite part. :)

Here's the fondant mess I made... Never again.
I'm definitely not meant to be a professional cake decorator with this stuff.

Little fondant bluebirds... I was so excited that they actually looked like birds!

All put together and ready for taste-testing!
 Because there is no way I can eat 14 cupcakes by myself, I took these little bluebird creations to my knitting friends anyway. The rest of the cupcakes received a more festive makeover.

Now, I'm not normally one to celebrate seasons way ahead of time (and it's not even Advent yet!), but I am one to work with what I have. This is the result:

Thanks to Pinterest, I learned of this super easy way to package and transport cupcakes!

Christmas sprinkles to make the peppermint cream cheese more festive!!

Christmas-themed cello gift bags to wrap up the festive cupcakes.
I brought them to my Bible study Tuesday night and gave them out to everyone there. Now I only have a few cupcakes left in the fridge, and it's a much more manageable number to eat!

*****
Baby Shower Update: We did wind up holding the baby shower, but I had to miss it. Of course hubby decided to get sick right before, and I didn't want to risk transmitting The Plague. Pictures of our knitted creations coming soon!

*****
P.P.S. This is officially post #100! Let's all celebrate by eating a cupcake, k? :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Which There is Crazy

There is the light at the end of the tunnel... and I'm afraid it may be a freight train at this point. Seriously, things are getting finished, the end of school is closer each day, but I feel like it's a frantic rush to the finish line.

This week in particular has become even busier than expected. I'm playing catch up and get ahead all at the same time. Apparently I can't say up until 2 and work off of 5-6 hours of sleep each day anymore... didn't think I was that old yet! ;) Add Thanksgiving into the mix, Christmas preparations are right around the corner, and then there's my hubby, just as busy as I am as it's gearing up to be his "busy season" at work... ah, the life of a pastor! To put it bluntly, things are crazy around here right now.

And here I am, writing a blog post while formulating my thoughts for discussion posts... and the only thing I really wanted to say right now is this: I can't wait to do some selfish knitting and take a nap at 10 am without guilt. Less than a month of crazy left! LET'S DO THIS! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

- There is so incredibly much to accomplish in the next month.
- I GRADUATE IN A MONTH! WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE!
- I am not British, but certainly enjoy my daily tea time lately.
- The more I work with it, the more I realize just how much I'm loving metadata {the course, and the topic}.
- Autumn Leaves is one of my new favorite scents of Yankee Candle. :)
- It's so much easier to concentrate on homework when the apartment is clean and (mostly) tidy.
- What happens to the bad batches of cookies in a cookie factory? Do the employees get to take them home?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Swap Packages!

A few months ago, I signed up to participate in a swap on Ravelry. I always enjoy participating in these, and it's always a fun and exciting adventure. Shopping for someone you've never met on a pre-determined budget, trying to make things as fun, useful, unusual, and/or practical as you like.... and then getting a mystery package in return!

This swap was a small, simple 6x9 padded envelope swap. Basically, what you can fit into the envelope is fair game. We had to include a recipe and a handmade item, plus whatever else fit the budget and the envelope.

I had so much fun shopping for my assigned partner. Here's what I came up with, which I sent off to my new friend, Cati:

Halloween stickers, stamps, and notepads, fall teas, hot cocoas and ciders, some chocolate, lotion, mock cable mug cozy, and a recipe for caramel apple cookies. I was amazed at how much stuff I could find for under $10 total!

Mock Cable Mug Cozy. I never did a proper finished object post on this one...



Today, I received my surprise package in the mail. Such fun things awaited me inside that envelope!

A handmade jar opener!! I'm always having trouble opening jars and constantly asking D to open them for me, so this will definitely come in handy. Why have I never thought of making them before?!

Cute bicycle themed recipe cards! Perfect for writing down Tasty Thursday creations, or sharing recipes with friends.

Pretty notecards, which are perfect for all those times I want to send snail mail to my dear college friends.... and perfect to add to my notecard collection!

A recipe for Pumpkin Curried Soup! Yum! It sounds tasty, and I can't wait to try it out on one of these cool, fall nights. I bet it would be great for a dinner party, too.

And finally, two skeins of recycled sari silk yarn! In the prettiest fall color-- reddish orange! I've got project ideas floating around already... but clearly this is license to spend time on Rav looking up more patterns. :)

Thanks so much for the awesome swap package, Peg/LadyLisetta!!

{Also, I just realized that November 6 was officially 4 years since I've joined Rav. Many, many thanks to M and Nicole for convincing me it wasn't just a Twilight-themed fan club and that my life was not complete until I joined. They couldn't have been more correct.}

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happiness

Happiness is reading a blog, seeing a cardigan pattern you like, searching for it on Rav, and not only discovering that it's already in your Faves, but also free. :)

Happiness is a quiet evening and good cup of coffee.

Happiness is realizing people are willing to help more than you originally thought.

Happiness is knowing people in stressful and often thankless jobs haven't forgotten how to have fun and laugh.


What makes you happy today?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Splendid Fall Weekend

What a splendid fall weekend! The weather was perfect, the company delightful, and the fall colors absolutely gorgeous! First, I met up with my mom and aunts in Historic St. Charles. As a child, I always looked forward to our trips out there on Saturdays during the fall, and I was so excited to go back and explore it as an adult with a different sense of appreciation.

Daniel Boone Statue, a truly noteworthy pioneer 'round these here parts.
Main Street, Historic St. Charles

As always seems to be the case, some things are very much different than I remember them, but some things never change. Like the Ice Cream Parlor tucked back on a side street in the building's lower level. They were closed, but oh, what a treat it was to get an ice cream cone after walking around for hours as a child! ;)


The Gazebo! When I was a little girl, I dreamed of getting married here...

Two worlds colliding. The MKT RR built Sedalia in the 1860s.


Friday night two lovely and wonderful friends and I met up for pizza at Pi. Of course, we forgot to take a picture, but the hours we spent together were so relaxing and enjoyable. I do so cherish time with my girlfriends and always look forward to the next time we'll meet again.

Saturday, my parents and I spent the day in Hermann for some good old fashioned Oktoberfesting. We toured Stone Hill Winery, sampled the wines (and came home with a few bottles), and enjoyed some delicious German food. How can you say no to brats, sauerkraut, applesauce, and potato salad? :)


In the Apostles' Cellar. Named such because of the twelve archways in the room.

Some of the oldest bottles of wine vinegar.

Wine press with old, old wines in the background.



One of the many portions of the vineyard. The Germans originally planted their grapes on these hills, but they were burned during Prohibition. Replanted they provide not only grapes for the wine, but a glimpse into the past and a lovely view.

Star Crossed Oktoberfest Hat, knit for the occasion.


And of course, what's a trip without buying some new wooly goodness? These lovely purchases came from Knit and Caboodle, and I can't wait to see what they'll become! {Above: Manos del Uruguay Maxima, in the colorway Fire. Below: Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool, colorway Sunrise.}


Friday, November 2, 2012

Applesauce, Apple Pie, and Cookies -- Oh My!


{Tasty Thursday | Fall Favorites}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.


It's been another busy week, and who doesn't find themselves busy this time of year? With Halloween over, costumes are going back into boxes, Thanksgiving plans are in the works, and for those of you truly committed people, Christmas gifts are being crafted and prepared. (I'm not quite there yet... I've got some ideas and some of the materials, but haven't found the time to start working on them yet.)

This past weekend found me busy in the kitchen preparing a variety of different things. Most of them went to our Chili and Soup Day either to serve or sell, but the kitchen certainly smelled heavenly!


I made my signature apple pie to serve with the Chili Day meal, although this time I decided to make it Caramel Apple. Yum!!




I also made some Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies and some Pumpkin Spice Cookies to sell at the Country Store.



From this....
And finally, I still had an abundance of leftover apples. Combined with my moderate Pinterest addiction, I decided to try out the recipe I found for Crock Pot Applesauce. It was easy, it smelled wonderful, and tastes just as good! I think next time I'll use a variety of apples, including some sweet ones. The ones I used this year were mostly seconds and bruised ones, still tasty, but not as sweet.

To this!
What are some of your favorite fall recipes? What have you been busy cooking and baking?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best Mistake Ever


{Tasty Thursday | Breakfast Casserole}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.


Today's post is short and sweet. I've been crazy busy lately, catching up from last weekend (picture post coming, I promise!) and trying to get a head for this weekend's exciting and exhausting adventures. We've got our annual Chili and Soup Day coming up this weekend, plus a youth hayride/bonfire, and Reformation Day services and choir practices, and food.... I'm so looking forward to it all, but I'm also ready for a break from all the busyness!

Because of how hectic things have been lately, and because I love continually volunteering for things (sometimes that's not so good for my sanity, oh well) and helping people out, I offered to make breakfast for our Chili/Soup Day workday today. Not really thinking, I didn't realize that I've got assignments due this weekend, plus all the normal readings and homework, Bible study, choir rehearsal, cleaning the apartment, recovering from last weekend, and preparing for this coming weekend.

Enter my obsession with Pinterest. Which leads to the Best Mistake I Ever Made (yet). Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole. (Sorry, I completely forgot to take pictures. But it looked like breakfast casserole, trust me.)

I came across this recipe last winter, probably while procrastinating on homework. (Noticing a trend here with the homework? Ha!) Originally, the plan was to make it when M came to visit, but there weren't enough meals in the visit for it to really happen. So this week, I decided it would be a good idea to try it out.

Why I insist on trying out new recipes when I cook for groups of people may just be one of the great mysteries of the world. But it worked. Everyone said it was delicious. Yay! {I did make a few changes, namely sausage instead of bacon, and oregano and paprika instead of dill. I was positive I had dill, but apparently it's currently hiding somewhere in the far recesses of my cabinet. Also, when I got up at 6, it was already starting to burn around the edges, so I turned it down to WARM. 8 hours was plenty for my crockpot.}

So, if it's so good, why is it the best mistake ever? It sounds so simple. You put all the ingredients together before you go to bed, turn it on LOW for 8-10 hours, go to bed, and wake up to a delicious, hot breakfast. Except for one thing.

When you wake up at 2:30 am, smell the casserole cooking, and realize how hungry you are, it's definitely the best mistake ever.

And that's fine with me. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mondays, Lutheran Mugs, and Homework, oh my!

After a weekend that was nothing short of amazing, today is a particularly rough case of the Mondays. It's one of those Mondays that makes me want to curl up with soft, squishy knitting projects and tea, not digital libraries and metadata readings and homework assignments.

This is what my Monday looks like so far:


At least there's knitting tonight! That keeps me a little more motivated to get some homework done this afternoon! :)

And yes, that is the awesome Lutheran Mug my husband received for his birthday from brother-the-younger. I borrowed it this afternoon, since he obviously isn't using it right now.

Pictures from this weekend coming soon! For now, I'll leave you with a few photos of my gorgeous view on Saturday. Couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Arrow Rock Heritage Festival

Whew! This weekend turned out to be even busier than I imagined, but I also had a ton of fun! On Saturday, my friend Carol and I headed over to Arrow Rock for their annual Heritage Festival. I loved it! It was so nice to get away for a bit from all the homework and normal stresses of life and escape to one of my favorite "best kept secrets." (Well, what I like to think is a secret, anyway.) Arrow Rock is this adorable little town tucked back off the highway, and it's like walking back in time when hard work and honesty still made a man (or woman) successful. The history major in me loves it every time.

I'd never been to their festival before, but I'm so glad we went! Even if we did get chased away by the rain and storms that rolled in earlier than expected... :) I was impressed with how much there was to see and learn! (And yes, we found the yarn. First, and completely by accident. I only came home with one skein, but it's so soft and squishy and pretty...) Enjoy just a few of the highlights from our adventure:

 Broom making!

 A visit with the blacksmith! (Did you know the metal is still about 900ยบ F when it turns from red to black?)

 And of course, the pretty yarns from That'll Do Ranch. :) Mine isn't pictured... I bought it before I thought to take a picture, but it's from the pinkish-orange section.

Natural, undyed yarns. Look at how many won ribbons at the State Fair!

A festival's not complete without some dancing!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finally! Another Finished Object Post!

Facebook has informed me that today is officially "I LOVE YARN" Day! Whoo hoo! We all know how much I do indeed love yarn, and I know many of you do as well. I'm excited to celebrate a little later today by working on some of the projects I currently have on the needles. But first. It's time for another finished object post!

I've actually finished with this shawl a while ago, but haven't had time to write up this post and get all the pictures together in one spot. This project was a Christmas present from my wonderful husband, who went with me and let me pick it out the kit. I love the way it's turned out, so soft and warm and squishy... :)

Pattern: Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox Lace Shawl Kit (by Romi) [Ironically, I can't find it linked on Rav anywhere... although the pattern really does exist!]
My Project Page: BiblioBleez's Wisteria Lace Shawl
Mods: None


Here it is, pre-blocked. Love the way the colors turned out!
After blocking, the transformation was remarkable! I'd never blocked anything seriously before, and I admit I was scared to try it. I made sure my sink was rinsed out super well... I didn't want any bleach stains to mar my new shawl. :)

Ta-da! :)



Please don't mind my spring-themed wreath. Turning it into my fall wreath is on this week's project list.
Can't wait to wear it this fall and winter!