It's cold.  It's cold outside, and it's cold in my office.  What better way to warm up than with a warm bowl of delicious, spicy soup?

MAKES: 6 servings of just over 2 cups each (approx 13 cups)
TIME: 45 minutes

Sometimes I like to give tree ornaments as gifts during the holidays.  I like to wrap up a present, decorate the box with a ribbon, make curls with the tails, then tie them around the loop of a tree ornament.  This way, instead of a bow the recipient of this gift will eventually throw out (after they're done sticking it to their hair, sweater, other people's sweater, etc.) they get an ornament they can keep and use.   The downside to this is that a bag of 50 bows will run you about 2$, whereas a single ornament can cost up to 20$!  (That's Hallmark wallet raping you, in case you didn't know.)

The solution? Make your own ornaments.  This particular ornament is for that yarn lover (or even cat lover?) on your list.

I came across this knitting spool at Michael's a few months ago, and it brought back a flood of memories.  My grandmother used to use one of these, and taught me how when I was about 10yrs old.  Well, she didn't use one exactly like this.  Hers was homemade. 

If you like to make projects with knitting spools, it makes sense to have more than one, this way you can alternate projects without having to remove your work from the current spool.  Making your own is cheap and easy.  All you need are nails, a hammer and you guessed it...a spool!

You know those plastic tabs that seal under the cap of juice and milk cartons?  Next time you see one, don't throw it away!  Give it a quick wash make a ring with it!  Or stash it with your craft items until you have a few of them to work with.  These are super fun to work with and I'm actually surprised they're not being sold individually every other quirky item used for crafts seems to be!  

I love the look of a bowl of fruit on my table.  Except the fruit never lasts long before getting eaten, so what I'm left with most often is an empty bowl.  Taking inspiration from the colourful fruit of all different sizes that temporarily find a place in said bowl, I decided to make a more permanent centerpiece using some Styrofoam balls and scrap material.

It's growing! All three pods of dill are showing signs of life...

Do you like wine?  I like wine.  There are so many screw top bottles now though that when I get one with a cork, I get pretty excited that I get to use my fancy cork screw.  And I always keep the corks...unless the removal process destroys them of course.

I recently used some of those corks to make great looking gift tags.  (Even though the gifts I gave with them guessed, you can use these on any gift.  That's what I'll be doing come December!

I don't have a green thumb.  There are two plants in my home that I can say are alive...not necessarily well, but alive.  A spider plant and an aloe vera.  If you know anything about plants and which ones are easiest to keep, you'll know that's not very impressive.

These two plants have survived on the same sill together since I moved into this house over a year ago.  This morning, I pissed off the spider plant and took it away from its friend, Mrs. Vera.  I needed to make room for my egg carton garden, which I wanted to be placed in the best spot possible.

I use herbs A LOT in my cooking.  But herbs can get expensive and they don't last very long in the fridge once you've removed them from the plant.  Now, I know that there are better ways to store them in the fridge and that if they are to go bad, I could always freeze them in an ice cube tray with oil before that happens, but I wanted a more permanent solution.

There is plenty of room around me for growing my own herbs and vegetables.  I have a huge back yard and get this, a green house.  Last summer, my first summer living here, I worked in the yard, planted some strawberries and attempted to grow a few other things that eventually died away.  Gardening is hard.  One day I intend to learn, but today is not that day.  It is however the day of my first baby step towards turning these thumbs green.

In order to save space in the house, I used an empty egg carton to plant 6 different types of herbs that I use most often in my kitchen.  Even if you or your family don't eat eggs, I'm sure you know someone who does.  Ask them to keep their empty cartons for you!  Of course, when the plants start to grow (if they do, ahh!) I will transplant them to pots.  Until then I believe this carton will do just fine.  (But what do I know?)

As many of you know, my grandmother was a lady who never threw anything away.  Popsicle sticks included.  When we finished a popsicle, she would wash the stick with the dishes and let it dry, then store it away with all the others.  Eventually she had a large bag full of them, which now belongs to me. 

You can now buy popsicle sticks from the dollar store for like...a buck....hahaha.  So you don't have to eat a bunch of popsicles and save the sticks for a project like this (unless you really want to).  Just be sure to have plenty on hand!

A couple of months ago, I received a text from the sis-in-law that Jim Gaffigan was going to be performing at the Hamilton Place Theatre on Friday July 20th.  When I read the text, I was hopping in my van at work to head home because I had the flu.  I rushed home to check my calendar to see if I had the kids on that weekend or not.  I didn't.  So I texted back to go ahead and get the tickets!!! Well, what fantastic tickets they are!