Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old

Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011
Here we are again at the last day of a year. You know what they say.... if you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it. Well, there are bits of this past year we'd rather not repeat (like the 6th Nerve Palsy whose possible return sits heavily on our minds) but there were also really terrific things that happened, too.

We saw the happy marriage of the youngest Coconut and the birth of a precious GreatCocoNiece and the engagement of the oldest Coconut. We visited and were visited by lots of extended family and reconnected with our cousins-in-the-Big City. We traveled. Not a lot, but enough! We're pleased to continue long-standing friendships and also to have made new, good friends, both in person and virtually through this blog.

As well, we've picked up a couple of new interests. Last year, on this day, if anyone had predicted we'd be fascinated by cookie decorating, we would have told them they were out of their everlovin' minds! But here we are, up to our snouts in Royal Icing.....and loving it.

Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011

And the beads!!! Who could have forseen the micro macramé addiction?

Yes, it's been an interesting year and if we turn and look toward 2012, who could possibly predict what might be waiting for us?

We can only hope there's something good in store for all of us.

Happy New Year, everyone!
Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011

PS  Does the cookie image look familiar? 

It's a sugary take on this: 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tamara's Papa Bear Sampler Scarf

Now, isn't this just the manliest Papa Bear Sampler Scarf yet??? 
Tamara sent us this photo. 
She used just over 1 ball of On Your Toes 4 ply sock yarn with aloe vera. 
What great colours. Although, you know, we think any lady would love it, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bird envy

A very common, not exotic, well-adjusted woodpecker.

Karen wrote about her fancy, schmancy woodpecker just before Christmas. He's exotic. And flashy. A Come-From-Away woodpecker. He probably squawks with one of those sexy foreign accents and drives all the girl birdies wild. He's certainly colourful with his red-feathered detail but we'd like everyone to know we have a woodpecker, too. He's just more modest. Not flamboyant at all. He doesn't need to be. He's very secure. He wonders what's up with the weird feeder though.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Beware the Boxing Day Crowds

We've had an unusual reaction to our cookies. Oh, Karen tried to warn us but would we listen? No.

We put out plates and platters and trays of our cookies. We smile and say, "Cookie?"  People oohhh! and ahhhh! but there are very few takers.

They're delicious. Really. And, we're very fastidious in our preparation so we're pretty sure it's not a hygiene concern. No, it seems to be more of a "they're too pretty to eat" problem. Shoot! We keep trying to tell people we have to see these consumed so we can make more but it makes little impact. In fact, the only people who actually eat these things are very small children and certain varieties of men ... most notably, the kind who carve out a big hunk of the cake you're planning to take to your potluck tomorrow and then act all surprised and wounded when you threaten to divorce them.

We can assure you we have photographed each and every cookie with the greatest of care. Its place in history is well documented. There is absolutely no reason NOT to eat them before they go green with mould and heavy with dust and the odd stray cat hair.

Grandma Coco has decided she'll have to take extreme measures. When you're out in the malls today, braving the crowds, be sure and guard your shopping bags.

Copyright Cheryl Coville 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Recently, we spoke (at length, as usual) about giving gifts. Today seems an appropriate time to think about receiving gifts. The first, and most important thing to remember is that not all gifts come wrapped in pretty paper and sometimes, it's a question of recognizing a gift when it comes our way.

This Christmas, as we reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the gift of friendship. We have met some really kind and wonderful people through this blog. And all of them are wonderfully talented as well. Some are great quilters. Some talented knitters. Many are artists who work in a whole host of media. Some realize they're artists and some don't know it yet. Some have a talent for friendship and we may value them most of all.

This Christmas, we are grateful for the gift of eyesight since we spent the summer without it.

This Christmas, we are grateful for something silly that the giver probably didn't even know she gave us (except that we already wrote and thanked her). We're allergic to milk (little known fact) and we haven't tasted a peanut butter cup in over 20 years. We've been able to work around lots of other treats so we can enjoy some of what "normal" people enjoy but never those peanut butter cups. Not, that is, until Paula (the Vanilla Bean Baker) offered up her recipe on her blog this week. She says it comes from Joy of Baking and we were able to tweak it very simply by substituting milk-free margerine and fancy dark chocolate. Such a gift!

This Christmas, we are grateful for the gift of our dad's company. This is his 90th Christmas Day and that's a lot of Christmases. We will treasure it.

The Cocos, Christmas 2011

And last, but by no means least, this Christmas, we are grateful for the gift of love and companionship that we are given every single day. That's the gift that makes it Christmas all year long. May every one of you be so blessed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A cautionary tale in sugar and spice

Grandma Coco would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to eat and drink responsibly this holiday season 
lest this be your fate ........

Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011
Did you really think she'd forget to make gingerbread men?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies? Check

This is the last of the cookies we planned to decorate for The Big Day. We think they're the best of the lot. We saw a tiny photo of some Christmas birdie lights-on-sticks thingies in a weekend flyer somewhere. It might have been Canadian Tire. Maybe Home Hardware. Anyway, those birds just stuck in our imagination and after a while, they just begged to be drawn.....Grandma Coco-style in royal icing. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another finished scarf

Not by us!! No! We've been goofin' off baking cookies (as you well know).

No, this Papa Bear Sampler Scarf  is lilaclinny's (That's her Ravelry name.) She made it from Teksrena yarn which is new to us. The yarn description says it's similar to Kauni and comes from Lithuania. It's a lovely gradation from red to black. We think it suits the pattern perfectly. lilaclinny reports that she stopped at the 10th pattern because the scarf was plenty long. She sent it to school with her son as a gift for his teacher. Lucky guy! (or gal!)

Just a reminder....all the parts of the pattern can still be found on this blog (for free!). We've also prepared one .PDF that corrals the whole pattern into one manageable file. All the pattern stitches are written out as well as charted. It's available through our Ravelry store for $3.50.

If you send us a photo of your finished Papa Bear Sampler Scarf to show on this blog matter when (we'll be here!)..... we'll send you a file for a gift tag as our thank you.

Another gift box

It's probably obvious that Grandma CoCo likes fancy, fussy gift boxes. Often, we get more excited over packaging than what's inside. Does that make us shallow?

We had one of these on hand and ...

Oh, the possibilities!

Our doughnut cutter (why do we have one of these? we never deep fry) turns out to be the perfect size for cookies that could stack inside. 

Now, who to give them to?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What kind of person are you?

Are you a dog person?

Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011

Or a cat person?

Copyright ã Cheryl Coville 2011

The world seems to be made up of one or the other. Grandma Coco is definitely both.

Once she sets her mind to a task, she is also doggedly determined. Ha!Ha! With her learner's permit in hand, she decided to make a second run at sugar run-outs. Kittens and puppies this time. As Monika was quick to notice, these are like icing appliqués. We're sure only a quilter would make that connection. They were made to sit on a 2 inch x 4 inch cookie. Not delicate by any stretch. More of a man-sized cookie.

We made the puppies first and used parchment paper as the base. Parchment paper won't tape down. It keeps curling up and that produced the first of our problems.....they're not really level.

Secondly, the cookies aren't level either so some of the puppy feet are sticking out of the base coat. That makes them pretty fragile.

The kittens were made on waxed paper which will tape down but we still had the unlevel cookie complication. No matter. We offered cookie first-aid where necessary and we'll be eating the evidence shortly.

Coco's Cookies

We are undaunted. We'll definitely try this technique again. We just need to go even smaller and simpler next time. That's the beauty of a learner's permit. We can try and fail and yet, not BE failures!

Cookies for Kate! who is definitely a cat/dog person. (Such a cat person is she that she fosters kittens from the humane society. Kittens! For fun!!!) However, she'll have to settle for enjoying her cookies cyber-style since she lives so far away and these are so delicate they'd have to be kept on life-support and hand-delivered. Not a job for Canada Post!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quid pro quo

chocolate cookies!

It's one week until Christmas and today's sermon is about gift giving.

Grandma Coco is a very generous soul. She loves to share….her talents and her time. She likes to find the perfect gift for the perfect recipient.

What she doesn’t like ….. and you know there’s a pretty long list…..but in this case what she doesn’t like is the Obligatory Gift. She hates, hates, hates having to worry about that whole quid pro quo thing.

Grandma Coco has always understood a gift to be what Wikipedia defines as "the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return". A free-will offering.

Occasionally, Grandma Coco has the inspiration to give someone something but then begins to worry that this will set up a feeling of obligation for the recipient. Definitely not cool and definitely not Grandma Coco's intent. This is the quid pro quo aspect to which we referred earlier.

Wikipedia defines quid pro quo as a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. If you give a gift with the expectation that you'll get something back in return, that's quid pro quo.

Sometimes the shoe's on the other foot. Some Christmases, when she knows a gift will be expected but she also knows she won't come up with a single good idea until, say, March, she ends up settling for something lame and uninspired like a gift card. (If you've bought Grandma Coco a gift card, just forget that last bit.)

Darn that obligatory gift!

What Grandma Coco would like everyone to know this holiday season is this: If you receive a gift from her, please just take it and run. Oh, you can say "Thanks", if you like. (We weren't raised by wolves, after all.) But, for heaven's sake, don't worry about getting her something in return. Just seeing your little eyes light up is pleasure enough for her.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some days you're the windshield....

You know the rest......some days you're the bug. Today, we're the bug. Splattt!

We're inspired by The Vanilla Bean Baker who recently was brave enough to post some of her disappointments. From what we've seen on her blog, we're certain hers are few and far between. If you're interested in decorated cookies, you should definitely check her out.

We regularly fall on our face but we don't usually share those moments here. We're not sure's all part of learning and stretching. We learn more from our failures than we ever do from our successes and mastering new skills always involves lots of practice and lots of trial and error. In our experience, LOTS and LOTS of error.

And that brings us to our most recent failure. We changed our mind about how to proceed with this bracelet and set about unknotting and harvesting the beads for a re-do.

Grandma Coco's gone to fetch the scissors. :(

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Catch of the day

We take our motto very seriously around here. You know....."Every day we get up and play".... We really do. We are aware it makes us look a little unfocused maybe we need a good dose of ritalin.....but, really, who cares? Certainly not us. We're like dogs that way. We catch a scent on the breeze and we run with it.

While we're waiting for our new sugar run-outs to dry in between colours and when we're tired of knitting on our new socks.....and while we're waiting for inspiration to strike for our new drawing commission.....we  finished another micro macramé bracelet.

It uses a lot of the same beads as we used in the last one .... the one with the fabulous dragon fly button closure. We seem to be in a little bit of a purple/fuschia rut ..... a great rut to be stuck in, if you ask us. We haven't amassed a huge stash of beads yet so we thought it safer to acquire beads that would at least look nice together. We expect to branch out (colour-wise) soon. It just takes time....and cash. (Sigh.)

We made tags to attach to our bracelets because these are for gifts. The tag-making was almost as much fun as the bracelet-making.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Snow Dudes

Cookies by Coco

Edited January 10, 2012 - We are new at this cookie decorating adventure so it might be interesting to note how these dudes ended up.  Clearly, we still have lots to learn.

Grandma Coco says, "Welcome to the Kingdom of Coco!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

If today marked your 30th wedding anniversary
then these would be the cookies for you. Just sayin'. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another wonderful scarf!

Yesterday, knittingdancer (from Ravelry) sent us a photo of her Papa Bear Sampler Scarf. It's beautiful!! The colour is gorgeous (but still totally suitable for either a man OR a woman). Whoever receives this as a gift will be very happy, we're sure. The yarn is Wollmeise Sockenwolle and the colourway is Sanguinella. Isn't the background quilt beautiful, too?

Don't forget......If you knit a Papa Bear Sampler Scarf and send us a photo to use on this blog, we'll send you a little gift.....a file to print a gift tag to go along with it! Send your photo to us here: grandmacocosdesigns (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birthday Biker Boy Cookies

Someone we love is having a birthday soon and Grandma Coco thought Cheryl should make some celebratory cookies. We have all week. What's the problem? Well, the problem is we're still learning and you know what that means. Everything takes much longer than you'd think. If you rush a cookie, you invite disaster. You could even get (gasp!) bleeding so for a novice, every decision is pretty much life or death. Cheryl doesn't like to live on the edge the way Grandma Coco does but in the end GC was right. We have a plate of pretty cool cookies for a dude who likes motorcycles and cigars.

Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2010-2011

In the beginning....there was a drawing. There always is. Remember it? We simplified and simplified (remembering the complexity of the snowman this past weekend).

We can hardly wait to make more.

Photos of   Papa Bear Sampler Scarves   are beginning to trickle in.

This lovely (handsome!) example was made by shoshieb (her Ravelry name) and it's a beauty! What a great lavender colour that any man (or woman!) would be lucky to receive as a gift. Well done, shoshieb!

If you have finished a Papa Bear Sampler Scarf, send us the photo to show on this blog and we'll send you a file to print your own gift tag.  Here's the address: grandmacocosdesigns (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All Wrapped Up

We've been working on gifts and inevitably the puzzle of how to package them must be addressed. Last year, we were completely smitten with our friend Karen's lovely gift boxes. This year, we tripped over a tutorial for Japanese Gift Bags on The Quilt Show. You have to register to see them but it's worth it. They're quick and very cute. And just the right size for a beaded micro macrame bracelet.

And what do we have here? Femmeng Kate sent us a photo of her Papa Bear Sampler Scarf. Very handsome! The yarn is lovely. It's Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label Fingering. Thanks for sharing the photo, Femmeng Kate! and thanks, too, for knitting along with us.

We've sent Femmeng Kate a file to print her own gift card to go with her scarf. Don't forget, we'll send you one, too, if you send us a photo of your completed scarf to show here on the blog.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nifty, Gifty Socks

It's rainy here in the Kingdom today. Our friend Tony calls it a "dirty" and just enough misty rain to make you feel miserable if you have to be out in it, working hard, as he does. It's the kind of day that just begs for warm, wool socks.

We've been working on a pair. Nothing spectacular but we're pleased with them which is good 'cuz they're a gift (for a fella who obviously doesn't read this blog). We made them from the same yarn we used for the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf.'s Sock It To Me Dankai....this time Colour 62 which is unfortunately no longer available. (They have other colourways left though.) We liked this yarn when we knit the scarf and we like this yarn for socks. It's very soft and the colours are very pretty.

We knit it with size 2.75 mm bamboo needles and 72 stitches. We worked 8 inches and turned the heel and then 8 inches for the foot and finished the toe. As usual. We had quite a lot of yarn leftover. It's a big ball of yarn.....420 metres (458 yards)....generous, indeed. The stitch pattern is simple but interesting enough to keep the needles clicking.

Row 1: *k2, p2, rep from * to the end.
Row 2: same as row 1
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit


Now, to reach into our stash of yarn and choose another skein. Such luxury.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cookies for a Sunday afternoon

For centuries art students have studied the masters. In a time before photography, art students would set up easels in galleries and copy the colour choices and brush strokes of really great artists. As long as you don't try to pass off this copy as your own work, we don't see the harm. It's a learning process.  Concentrate on the technique by not having to worry about composition or colour. Master the technique and then go on to pursue your own vision in the new medium.

Today, we want to document our own learning process. And the medium du jour is cookies! Remember art is everywhere.

We've been stalking a new-to-us cookie blog called Sweetopia and if you're at all interested in cookies, you should check out her blog. Go ahead. We'll wait........... Right. You're back.

There are about a million ways to decorate a cookie and one of the first that caught our eye was what Marian (from Sweetopia) calls a 'runout'. So cool! Seriously! It's a design made of royal icing piped onto parchment paper. Once it's dried, you can pick it up and set it on top of a cookie.

Like one of those art students, we set out to master this technique by totally copying Marian's project. I don't think Marian has to worry. We're clearly no threat because we made a ton of mistakes but we learned lots, too. For instance, when we went back to look at Marian's tutorial, we noticed that she had made a runout that fit on a cake top. Hmmmmm....perhaps that's why we had a wee bit of trouble making ours cookie-sized. :) Next time, we'll go with a simpler design.

Runout on parchment paper

This time we made Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies. It's a recipe we got years ago from Canadian Living Magazine (we think). You don't roll this dough. Just pat it into shape. We drew a rectangle on the back of the parchment paper and patted the dough out to cover. Bake and then slice while still warm. Because the snowmen are sorta large, the rectangles had to be big, too. Each cookie is a whopping 2.75 inches x 3.25 inches. Now, that's a cookie! We wrapped them up as party favours.

We really like how they turned out and we have big plans for more cookies to come. If you'd like to know the fine points of how this is done, head on over to to get it from the horse's mouth, so to speak. You don't want to learn from amateurs. You want to learn from the masters, too.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weird Science

We're sorting out the details for a new beaded micro macrame bracelet. We haven't been at this long but we seem to have amassed a pretty good stash of beads and cords and findings. However, we've learned that no matter how many beads one has in her stash, she's always lacking one. That seems to be the way it goes.
20 ga. bronze craft wire
We need a special bead for the closure on our new design and we can't really start until we've selected one because the loop is done first and it has to be the right size.

It needs to be a sort of dull bronze. Coincidentally (ever notice how often that word comes up in the Kingdom of Coco?) we saw a tutorial on the Beading Daily blog for making beads out of wire.

That was pretty easy! And we ended up with a nice bead....albeit a shiny bead.

We read that you can give copper and bronze an antique-y patina with a chemical called "liver of sulphur" but we also read that it's more toxic and difficult than we're comfortable with. A quick internet search (where would we be without Google?) suggested there's an all-natural alternative. That's for us!!

We hard-boiled an egg, chopped it up and put it in the bottom of a ziplok bag. We put our bronze Precious-es in there as well and sealed it up. The article said to leave it 4 to 6 hours. We left it overnight.

See the difference?

In the morning, we opened the Ziplok bag and laughed our maniacal mad scientist laugh.

It worked!

Can world domination
be far behind?

Cassie's interested in science, too!

Friday, December 2, 2011

One lump or two?

Having passed the first day of December on the calendar, it seems it's all full-steam ahead to Christmas. Grandma Coco is, as you might imagine, a big fan of the holiday being the party girl she is but Cheryl is harder to drag on board. We pick and choose our to shopping and crowded malls, for example, and yes to.....

Christmas sugar cubes? Really, Cheryl? Yup.

The logical next step after sugar cookies. We caught the bug. We started with ordinary store-bought sugar cubes and royal icing and graduated to the "what if?" of how do they make sugar cubes anyway? Good question.

We experimented, finally settling on a mixture of 1/2 cup granulated white sugar and 1/4 cup icing sugar. We added water 1/4 teaspoon at a time until the mixture felt like damp sand. We found a very small and shallow plastic cap and lined it with plastic wrap. We packed the sugar mixture into it and scraped it off flat. This process is a lot like playing with a bucket at the beach, minus the sunburn. We tipped the cap over and used the edge of the plastic wrap to anchor the sugar as we lifted off the cap.

We left them to dry and found they were solid! Really solid. They don't crumble at all.

Anyone for tea?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday: We did it our way!

We saw the cutest project on Sew-Sisters' blog.  It's a play mat from Moda Bakeshop. A Cathedral Window look-alike. Really, really cute! But you know Grandma Coco. She always has to do things her way.

First of all, we would never, never, a million years, never!....cut 40 circles of fabric and 20 circles of batting and then try to sew them all together. Not gonna happen. That would be way too fussy. Nah, what we did was mark a circle on the right side of one piece of fabric. (We traced around a metal pie plate.) We layered this with batting and a 2nd fabric, stitched all around and then trimmed close to the stitching line. We ended up with a stack of 20 disks that didn't need to be turned inside out (which would have been a colossal pain).

The Moda Bakeshop tutorial blithely says that you should make a template of a square that fits on the circle where each point just touches the edge, in order to mark the lines which join the squares together. The designer does say that our square may not be the same size as hers because it depends on the size of the circle you started with and the width of the seam allowance, etc. However, she doesn't say exactly how to accomplish this particular bit of geometric wizardry. We scratched our head over this one for a while and then we figured it out. Measure the exact diameter of your circle. That's the diagonal of your template square. Draw a second line (the length of the diameter of your circle) at right angles to this line, through the mid-point. You have an 'X' where the end points are the 4 points of your square template, each one touching the perimeter of the circle. Join them up and cut out the square. It IS simple. We just couldn't visualize it at first.

Grandma Coco found it was easiest to mark the squares as we went. We're working with circles so we only really need to mark one side, slap another circle up to it and stitch. (Trying to match a marked line on one circle to the marked line on a second would again be a colossal pain.)

Once we had them all stitched together, we gave the arcs a little press just like the Moda Bakeshop lady said to do and then we riffed on her idea by top-stitching them down with a zig-zag satin stitch, finishing the edges and stitching them in place all at the same time. Cool!

Cassie gives it 4 paws up!!

Since there's been precious little quilting going on here
in the Kingdom of Coco lately,
we're delighted to be able to link today to the
Needle and Thread Network for the WIP Wednesday.
Be sure to hop on over there and see what everyone else is up to.