Ella Raglan sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Rabbit Repaired
Ella Raglan sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Quilt in Progress

It seems like I can never quite make up my mind regarding resolutions by the time December 31st rolls around. I feel like I should review my year and make goals for the next, but in the midst of the Holiday season, it never happens.

Now that the calendar has turned to quieter days of January, that time for reflection seems more appropriate and available. I'm thinking I should just give up the Gregorian calendar and make my resolutions for the upcoming Lunar New Year (which falls soon enough on February 19th). 

From the time I was in middle school, up through college, I dutifully made a scrapbook for each calendar year. After several years off, I returned to the tradition of the annual photo albums in 2013. Of course now I make them digitally and get two copies printed, one to be perused, poked, and enjoyed today, and one kept safe for LMC someday.

My 2014 books arrived in the mail over the weekend allowing me to look back on the past year to some events seemingly so far away now (her first birthday! summer!) and some as near as two week ago. We did a LOT of stuff last year.

Some of it, much of it, wasn't a big deal - like going to Old Orchard Beach for pizza and pier fries in the snow, or trying out the splash pad at a local park. Others were medium deals - trips to the nearby petting zoo, apple picking. And there were handful of big deals - the vacation in Camden/Rockland and the trip out California. But all put together, it was a very full year. Looking back, my only regret was not taking off more days in the early summer to just be.

So I guess if I have one concrete goal for 2015, it's to take more vacation days in June and July.

But since I've taken so long to come up with my resolutions, why stop at one? 

I thought I had made a list of ten additional of disparate goals, but upon review they all sort bunched into one: 

Fight the entropy.

Or what Mr. Cleaver calls "entropy" - the gradual descent into disorder, the propensity of any flat surface to accumulate "stuff," for things once ignore to stay ignored, etc., etc. 

Yes, I'm going to try to put things away, or recycle or shred them, but more importantly - I'm attacking those stacks of needs-repair or half-finished or planned and purchased projects. Whether that means completion or admitting that its really not important to me. Sock without a mate from 2012? Unpainted closet door from 2010?  I'm looking at you!

I've actually made some good headway on this project thing, including sewing up a raglan dress for LMC and a dress for her doll I cut out in early September. I turned a broken necklace into a new bracelet/necklace.  I've repaired no less than three stuffed animals mauled by Steinbeck in his pre- and post-travel anxiety days. And I started working on a quilt I did some piecing on back in 2013. 

I'm sure in a few weeks I'll get all excited by some shiny and new project, but even it that turns out to be, I've still made a good dent in my existing stacks of stuff. 

What about you, did you make any resolutions this year? 


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Month by Month

Before I start, can I say that it feels like forever since I've done a proper blog entry? I've really had a tough go getting going this month. Let's call it the early-mid-winter slump and try to move on, shall we? Last year, I decided that the New Year's Resolution, while good in theory, doesn't really pan out well in real life  - even for those of us who have in the past planned out parts of their lives 3 years in advance to a fairly high degree of success.  Instead, I found last year that thinking of things on a monthly scale worked out better. 

So for January, my goals have been two-fold:

  1. cook more
  2. make our apartment more "homey"

And I've done decently on both accounts.

So far this month I've learned to make a quiche, chicken pot pies and given another go at making wheat bread in the bread machine (though I'm still in search of a great bread machine/wheat bread recipe, so if you have one, send it my way!). 

Last week Mr. Cleaver and I took a trek to Massachusetts in search of cheap Swedish furniture and while we came home with a few nice pieces, neither of them were what we were looking for  (if you know of an affordable TV stand approximately 52"w x 30"h x 18" d or something to put a ten gallon fish tank on we'd be ever so grateful!) Even without said furniture, I did do some work on the living room - mainly hanging up pictures and sewing a pillow cover. In any case, I'm finally going to show some photos of the apartment.

A before and after, both in all their non-cleaned glory.



We bought the chair and couch separately (at a consignment shop and Goodwill respectively) but they match amazingly well. The borrowed tray table and fabric covered plastic boxes add a touch of class to the original arrangement as does the printer, just hanging out on a spare dining table chair from Craig's List.



The Chicago neighborhood print was a Christmas gift I gave to Mr. Cleaver and is flanked by some vintage Maine postcards (one of which feature the Westbrook highway-seriously) and my first real art purchase, a Clifton Henri photo. The two photos by the closet are by my father and myself. The end tables are real tables now - but the printer is still hanging out, keeping it real. Not a real big change, but it does feel much better.


I whipped the pillow cover out of some leftovers of felted sweaters. And if a certain reader from Oregon is wondering, hey aren't those my sweaters? And shouldn't I have some coasters/bowls coming my way? Yes they are and yes you do, they're just going through one more wash cycle before I mail them out next week - promise!

Speaking of sweaters and things completed on monthly scale, I'd also like to present to my "Mermaid Coat," so named for its sea moss colorway and oyster shell buttons. 

My Mermaid Sweater

The pattern is the quite popular Drops A-Line Jacket, the  yarn is Peace Fleece Worsted in Kamchatka Seamoss, and the shell buttons are from Savaged Relics. And like an actor in in their first high school play, I have no idea what I'm doing with my hands here.

My Mermaid Sweater

It is super cozy and super warm. It's a simple pattern and I finished the whole thing in month - give or take a day.

My Mermaid Sweater

So I guess you could day I'm sitting pretty on this whole "month-a-lution" thing. Now maybe for February I should decide to be a better blogger.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

Although our apartment doesn't have the greatest view (McDonald's parking lot anyone?), we have a pretty great place in a nice building.

One the best parts? Our cadre of doormen - kindly folks who open doors when our arms are full of groceries, sign for our packages, give movie recommendations, discuss local sports, and know both my maiden and married names. I don't know who is in charge of hiring these people,  but seriously, they are awesome and deserving of the best cookies I know how to make - Ghirardelli chocolate chip.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year! 

Because of the pre-holiday craziness and a lack of all-purpose flour, I didn't get a chance to make these in time for Christmas - so now they get to be surprise New Year's cookies.

This recipe comes from the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag and is good.

I grew up in the Bay Area so I have a special place in my taste buds for Ghirardelli chocolate, it's not the fanciest chocolate out there, but among the brands commonly found in grocery stores, I think it's the best - so take that Toll House!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients

Our Cast O' Characters 

Adapted from 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Yield: 4 dozen 

  • 1/2 bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 bag of 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 3/4 cup(s) package brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) all purpose flour (I use wheat flour for the 1/4 cup - it makes me feel a teensy bit healthier about the whole 2 sticks of butter thing)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar. Although the Kitchen Aid Mixer is the traditional wedding gift in our family, Mr. Cleaver and I opted out on that one. If I don't make butter cream by hand how would I work my biceps?

Butter/Sugar Crea

Baker's Workout - Butter Cream

Add vanilla and eggs to the butter cream. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add the flour mixture to the butter cream. This cookie dough is VERY dry, so this also takes a little oomph - more calories burned for me! (See new year's working out is easy!).

After the dough is mixed well add in the chocolate chips. Jewel had a buy one-get-one-free offer of chocolate chips, so I used two different kind here: semi- and bittersweet, but it works fine with just one.

Put in the Chips

Maybe one the most wonderful sights in baking. 

Mixed Dough

The finished dough on the way to my mouth.  My mother always said that the sugar counteracts the egg, so you can't get salmonella, I chose to believe her.

Cookies on Sheet

Pretty Maids all in a row. 

I've found the cooking time on these varies wildly from oven to oven - until I moved into my current apartment it always took around 12, but now it takes eight.  So watch the first batch carefully.

Cookies in a Row

I like my cookies on the larger side - who doesn't - but I usually end up with fewer than the four dozen the recipe indicates, in tonight's case - it was 39. 

Quality Control

Err, 38. Quality control. 

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