So They Said...

Before I became a mom, all of my mom friends (including my sisters) told me that I'll love my mom even more once I have my own little one. The sentiment makes sense, right? I mean, moms sacrifice their physical and mental well-being to care for their children. The pregnancy itself leaves many to wonder what their body was like pre-pregnancy (a reality I'm still coming to grips with myself). And "sleep" takes on a new meaning - no more deep, restful sleeping. Sleep is simply the byproduct of exhaustion. So, the idea is that once a new mom realizes how much her mom had to sacrifice to take care of her when she was a little baby, the new mom will have a deeper appreciation for her own mother. That seems logical, but before becoming a mother, I thought, I already love and appreciate my mom. I wasn't quite sure how much further it could go.

I'm very close to my parents, but to understand exactly what that means, you have to know a bit more about my family. I'm the youngest out of four children, and we're all pretty close in age. Even though there are four of us siblings, our house was full of at least six to eight kids at any given time because our house had a revolving door - cousins and friends would come and go seven days a week, almost twenty four hours a day. I remember one of my cousins saying that she loved hanging out at our house because it was so "lively." Well "lively" is one way of looking at it. Now being a mom myself, I think I'd use a word like "maddening" or "anarchy" to describe the atmosphere.

Given all of these chaos and activity, I still forged a very close relationship with my parents, especially my mom. I think it had something to do with being the youngest. I was always the one left at home. I was left at home when my siblings went off to school full time. I was left at home when they were allowed to have an extended curfew in high school. I was left at home when they went to college. I was left at home when each of them got married. (As a disclaimer I have to mention that I wasn't technically living at home at this point, but I still spent the most time at home since I had fewer responsibilities). Being around them without my siblings helped me form a very open line of communication with my parents. My mom will always be my mom first and foremost, but she is also a dear friend. So, given our already close relationship, I wasn't sure how much more I could love and appreciate her once I became a mom myself.

Once I emerged from the haze of being a new mom (which took me a good three months), I soon realized that my mom friends were right. As my experience of motherhood takes its course, the more I truly understand just how much my own mom sacrificed for me, and I appreciate and love her more than I ever thought possible. We talk almost every day, even if it's a simple, three minute conversation. And I try to show her how much she means to me through small gestures of appreciation.

The most recent gift I gave my mom is this pair of French Press felted slippers (the link to the knitting pattern only works if you have a Ravelry account). My mom loves the slippers, and that makes me so very happy (who doesn't like keeping their feet warm in these darn cold midwestern winters).

This is my first felted project, and I have to admit that the felting process was much easier than I had expected. I used my sister's washing machine because her's is a top-loading washer, a pillowcase, and six tennis balls. I'm hoping to try more extensive felting projects in the near future. I will make these slippers again, and here are the changes I will make/mistakes I will correct:
1 - I will sew the two side pieces together at the toe, just past the hump. On the left slipper I sewed too far down, past the hump. Sewing just past the hump is what gives the shoe a ballet shoe look.
2 - The cuffing trick for the backs of the slippers works really well, but again, I took it too far with the left slipper. I need to use more restraint next time!
3 - Instead of using puff paint traction, I'm going to try these suckers out. Apparently they can be sewn on to felted projects as well.

One more note, I used a very sharp and rather thick needle to sew the straps onto the already felted slippers. I actually used a needle that's meant for sewing through leather. It worked like a charm.

These adorable ballet slippers were knit using triple strands for the bottom and double for the sides. It was knit in six pieces (as seen below).

Then the pieces were sewn together. Sides first:

Then the bottoms sewn on:

Once they were felted, I stuffed the toes with crumpled plastic bags to help with shaping.

Once dried, I figured out the placement for the straps and buttons.

After applying puff paint traction on the bottom, here they are on my mom's feet. Yay for my first felting project!


My Obsession with Sandwich Cookies Continues...

So, my obsession with sandwich cookies continues with these beauties - Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies. I find myself drawn to sandwich cookies, and I'm not quite sure why that's the case. At first I thought it was because sandwich cookies are so substantial. I mean one sandwich cookie is really two cookies smashed together with a delactible filling peeking out between the cookies (in the case with these cookies the filling isn't really peeking out, it's oozing out!). Another thought is that sandwich cookies are an example of a very simple method (using a tasty concoction to stick two cookies together) that often produces a rather show-stopping result (visually and gastronomically).While making these cookies this holiday season, I've come up with yet another possible explanation for my affinity for sandwich cookies. It boils down to this - you always want what you can't have. In the '80's, Oreos were made with lard. Good o'l fashioned pig fat. That made them null and void in my household due to dietary restrictions. That meant, if we wanted to eat chocolate sandwich cookies, we were forced to opt for Hydrox. I realize that there's a huge fan base out there for the now discontinued Hydrox, but no matter how many of those suckers I ate, I just knew that they weren't as phenomenal as Oreos (I actually didn't know because I couldn't eat the lard Oreos, but my nine-year-old instincts told me that Hydrox just fell short). I finally beheld the chance to test my instincts when, in the '90's, Oreos replaced the lard with vegetable fat. My gut instinct was right - Hydrox had nothing on Oreos. Thus, my love affair with sandwich cookies began (or at least that's my hypothesis as of right now).

On with the recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies. The recipe is from the December 2005 issue of Bon Appetite, and can be found here. I made these (six dozen of them) for the 2009 Mother Daughter Cookie Exchange. They were a big hit, but hey, who could resist chocolate- peppermint-sandwich cookies rolled in crushed candy canes? Only the Grinch!

One of the biggest bonuses of this recipe is that the cookies are drop cookies (no rolling and cutting dough). I used a handy ice cream scoop. Then used my fingers to flatten the cookies. Next time I'll use the bottom of a drinking
glass to flatten the cookies because my fingers left a
bit of an indentation!

Crushing the candy canes was much more of a challenge than I thought. I found that placing them in a freezer-grade zip top bag (freezer-grade works best because it's thicker) then using a rolling pin and some good old elbow grease is the most efficien
t way to crush them.

Here they are, sandwiched together, rolled in the candy canes, ready to be devoured.