Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Stockings

Ever since I bought my sewing machine a few months ago, I've been dying to have a sewing day with my sister, Emily. She was the one who told me how great the BabyLock machines were and I totally covet her giant sewing room with built-in shelves for fabric and a cute little orange desk for her machine. Once I found out that I had a few extra vacation days from work, I figured that the best way to use one of them would be to go down to Emily's house and sew. I ordered fabric online to start some quilts and was super excited. However, by early this week, the fabric hadn't arrived yet and I had to decide on another project. Emily was planning to make a Christmas stocking for her youngest boy, so I figured that a stocking for Benjamin was in order. 

Mum made this gorgeous stocking for me when I was a little girl and I love it. I love that it's Christmassy without being too childlike. I love that it's kind of sophisticated, but still fun. Even tough Benjamin says that it's too small, I think it's just the perfect size. I decided that I would make a similar one for Benjamin for out first Christmas as a family. 

I found some perfect red velvet at Fabricland and also got some perfect gold rickrack and white edging with tiny pompoms. Emily refreshed my memory on chainstiching and french knots and by the end of the afternoon, I had his stocking finished. (Although halfway through embroidering his name on the top, I wondered why I had to marry someone with such a very long name.)

I've hung our stockings on the wall for now, since we don't have a fireplace or any kind of mantle-like place in our little apartment, but it'll do for this year.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Candies

(mine will not be wrapped in anything near such a picturesque manner)

Since this was my first Christmas with a family of my own (yes, I view Benjamin and myself as a family, not just a couple) I decided I should make some Christmas goodies. I've been collecting Martha Stewart Holiday Special Editions for several years, and there was a recipe in one of them for gingerbread caramels that I had been dying to try. Never mind that I've never made candy before and had no idea what soft ball stage was supposed to look like. All you need is a recipe and a candy thermometer, right? Right?

Turns out that although those will suffice, I'm sure, it helps to have someone around with a modicum more candy-making knowledge than oneself. When it turned out that my largest pot was too small for Martha's giant recipe (as the boiling sugar, butter and cream threatened to bubble over onto the stovetop), Benjamin was the one who warned me that taking it off the heat would only cause the sugar to "crystallize wrong" - whatever that means.

Despite having to move half of the boiling batch into another pot to prevent a sticky mess and only having one incorrect candy thermometer for two pots of caramel, the candies seemed to turn out ok. As long as you don't try to unwrap them when they're not freshly chilled in the fridge. Oh well, they taste good, and that's all that matters, right? Ok, maybe most of what matters.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No More Lonely Commutes

It's a little late, but I have some great news to share - Benjamin got a new job! He started as a Materials Specialist at Fluor Canada two weeks ago and is definitely loving it.

Benjamin graduated with his Commerce degree back in April and started looking for work. We were incredibly blessed that I have such great work and that he had something waiting to keep him busy (his part-time employers at Rona were virtually ecstatic to have him work full-time hours while he looked for career employment) but we hoped that a job would come along quickly. Benjamin is a super hard worker and I personally believe any company would be lucky to have him (although I will admit to being a little biased). 

Benjamin sent out resume after resume and contacted everyone he knew that might have a position open for him. No luck. So he visited the career centre at the university, sent out newly-updated-resume after newly-updated-resume and contacted everyone who was an acquaintance of an acquaintance  that might have a position open for him. By this time, full-time work at Rona was starting to get really old. We were getting more than a little tired of the job search and were praying that an opportunity would come along soon, but still nothing. Benjamin had had only two calls back and two accompanying interviews after 6 months or more. 

One Friday, Benjamin called me at lunch to say that he had heard from two companies. One of the previously mentioned interviews wanted him to go to a second interview, and the other wanted to set up a first interview. We were so excited, then when he picked me up from the train station that afternoon, he told me that he had just gotten off the phone with a third company that wanted to interview him. "When it rains, it's a monsoon." he wryly noted.

When he interviewed with Fluor, he was told it would take about 3-4 weeks for them to get back to him. Imagine our surprise when he received a phone call less than 24 hours after the interview ended, telling him that a job offer would be forthcoming. It was such a blessing to have this job come up - it's a perfect opportunity for him, doing exactly what he wants to do and learning from a great mentor. It even worked out that he'll be working from downtown instead of driving a 45-minute commute to their main south office. I know that our prayers were answered.

My favourite thing about this new job is having Benjamin coming downtown with me. It's so fun to have a buddy on the bus and meet up with him sometimes during our lunch breaks. Mostly, though, it's great to see how happy he is and how much he loves his new job.