Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Party

"Ring out the old, ring in the new/ ring, happy bells, across the snow/ the year is going, let him go/ Ring out the false, ring in the true." - Alfred Lord Tennyson

New Year's Eve and Day are upon us, and my menus for both are simple yet elegant this year.

For New Year's Eve, my family likes to have a spread of appetizers on hand to nibble while waiting for the ball to drop. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Spanakopita wheels
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Serve with little pieces of toast or chips on the side.
  • Cheddar Chives Cayenne Biscuits. Serve these with lemon curd on the side as a spread.
  • Caramelized Ham Spirals
  • Baklava. This has been a New Year's Eve favorite with my family for years. Either make your own, or look for it in the frozen foods section of the super market.
Being part German, my family always makes pork tenderloin with sauerkraut for New Year's Day, and we burn a Bayberry candle or two (burning it down to the nub is supposed to bring good luck for the new year). Because of health concerns among family members this year, we've decided to change the menu a bit.
  • Boiled Lobster Tails. I would only recommend this to people who live in areas where decently fresh lobster is available (and no, it is NOT supposed to smell fishy! if it does smell fishy, don't eat it!), or where frozen lobster can be obtained. Serve with melted butter or cocktail sauce.
  • Hawaiian Meatballs. We've been substituting ground turkey instead of beef in ours lately, and they're really tasty.     
As far as drinks go, I recommend Andre or Korbel for champagne, and Martinelli's for Sparkling Cider.

Happy New Year's!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Knitting and Fleece Blankets

"I could remember she'd take her knitting with her to the movies. She could knit in the dark." - Edith Johnson

On the rare occasions that I go see a movie in the theatre, I take my knitting to work on while the commercials/previews are running. It's more useful than watching what trash is coming to theatres next.
Anyway, my knitting to-do list is humming along as usual. Currently on needles are:
  • Paris mittens. I'm really excited about these, and am making them in two contrasting shades of grey, which give them a distinctly French look. The wrist section is not too difficult, but switching to the mitten section is proving a bit tricky. 
the wrist of the Paris mitten

  • Simple, striped leg-warmers. I'm making these with 100% wool worsted-weight yarn, in earth-tone colors. Leg warmers are basically knitted tubes, and there is a broad range of variations possible.
  • Elijah the Elephant. I've always wanted to knit a stuffed animal, and this looks pretty straight-forward.
  • The second Placemat in a set of eight. This is going to be a looong project, but very pretty.
  • Another knitted tea cozy for myself, except that this one is just plain stripes with no writing, and the colors are Spruce and Kelly greens. I call it my Green Tea cozy
  • My "Wine and Roses" lace shawl. This is my own variation on another pattern, and there are no pictures of it yet, but they will be forthcoming. 

I visited a Jo-Ann's Fabric store today, and was dismayed to see that, two days after Christmas, they already have St. Patrick's Day paraphernalia out. I like gettin' my shamrocks on as much as the next lass, but this seems a bit extravagant, even for Irish folks. However, it didn't keep me from getting materials to make a new fleece-tie blanket:

 Slainte, and have a cozy winter!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

News of Great Joy

"On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring/ news of great joy, news of great mirth/ news of our merciful king's birth." - the Sussex Carol

My family's indoor Nativity scene

I rarely go outside the realm of homemaking in my posts, but what with news articles abounding with stories of people (in the States, anyway) getting into physical fights over material goods and even canceling Christmas because they just can't afford it, I think a reflection on the true meaning of the season is in order.
During this Advent season, I've been meditating on the role that darkness and light play in Christmas. Today, lights are put up on trees and houses and turned on at night to bring light to the darkness. This is a remarkably good illustration of what Christmas means - a world in darkness awaiting the light and joy brought by the birth of Christ the Savior. Even if we are not able to spend a certain amount of money on our festivities, Christmas should be a time of gratitude, joy and peace.

Peace, Joy and a Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Macaroons, Shortbread and Baby Outfits

"Sugar and spice and everything nice - that's what little girls are made of" - Nursery Rhyme

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love" - Hamilton Wright Mabie

This year my family and I made two types of Christmas cookies, both new recipes for us, and they came out beautifully - I heartily recommend them.

The Peppermint Macaroons (see previous post for recipe) came out beautifully, and is sure to be a family favorite year after year.

The Orange Shortbread dipped in Chocolate is very tasty, and also sure to become a family favorite. The recipe we used comes from Fine Cooking magazine. To make the orange shortbread, add a tablespoon of orange zest when you add the vanilla extract.

Now for a knitting update: the vintage 1970's Patons Pram Set is finished, and had been shipped to the family who commissioned it. This was a delightful project to work on - just challenging enough to keep me interested, yet straightforward and simple enough that I didn't get too frazzled while working on it.

the whole set on the blocking board

If anyone is interested, I do knit on commission, and would be delighted to make this to order. Price is US$100, ships only within the U.S.

coat with buttons


Girl's Bonnet (Boy's Helmet has a pom-pom on the back of the head)


Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Recipes and Goodies

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Charles Dickens

The time has come to post about recipes and other tasty delights which will feature at my home this Christmas. So, let's begin with my list of cookie recipes:
For multiple reasons, we're keeping our baking list small this year, and I've decided not to make Panettone bread, although it is delicious toasted with butter for Christmas breakfast.

This week I will be making Baked Brie for a church event. This is a rich, tasty appetizer that goes well at Christmas parties and events.

 If you are looking for a last-minute gift, Williams-Sonoma has this delightful Cocoa set that is sure to please the chocolate lover in your life.

There's not much to say right now concerning knitting - I am doing my best to finish the baby pram set mentioned in previous posts on time for Christmas delivery. It is competing with another knitted Christmas gift for a family member for my time. Hopefully both will be finished and under their respective Christmas trees by Dec. 25.

Merry Christmas to all!