Thursday, December 30, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 4: Knitted Gifts

I started knitting these headbands back in November and I totally got addicted.  I've known how to knit a basic stitch since I was 12 or so but hadn't moved past it until this year.  I picked up Martha Stewart Living for November (you know, I just realized how involved Martha was this Christmas!).  I flipped through the pages at the news stand in the Duluth airport, deciding right then and there that I was going to knit that headband.

To my surprise cabling was quite easy.  My first headband (the green one) took several tries until I got the pattern down, then the rest flew.  I planned to make a lot for friends and family but only made it through four (which is actually pretty good for me, all things considered.)

I gave the Resident Photographer the headband which she is quite beautifully modeling here, and the green one we keep on hand for whoever needs it - usually me on my walks with the dog :)
They're are super cozy and a nice way to keep warm without giving you hat hair.

The other two headbands I knitted went to my sister and her daughter in Utah.  Sadly our Christmas package to them (and two of their other packages!) was stolen off their front steps.  I hope that stupid thief felt guilty when he saw the little wrapped headbands and other homemade gifts.  I was spitting mad, for once my homemade gifts were finished in time and then this.  *Sigh* I still have enough yarn though so I'll be knitting replacements this week.  Elise & Eliana I hope you like your gift!

If anyone is interested the pattern is here.  It's a great anytime gift and we're looking at several more months of cold weather I think - try it out!  I'm eager to test out the mittens but need to finish those headbands first!

happy knitting!

And here's a picture for the road...

Poor thing... we couldn't resist.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - part 3: Christmas Day (or I drink to much coffee day :)

We had a (very) quiet family breakfast Christmas morning.  I can't remember the last time our Christmas morning was so quiet.  We usually have family dropping in early while we're still opening our stockings!  Traditionally when someone got married instead of losing someone we just gained another person!  Then came the kiddos (I have 12 & 1/2 nieces and nephews).  We've turned over a new schedule, which meant this Christmas was quiet (we had the loud celebration with my siblings on Sunday) but next year we'll have everyone to ourselves on Christmas.  It's been so nice that everyone gets along fine and doesn't mind taking turns.

All this to say Christmas morning was a slow start.  Lots of coffee and of course the traditional last minute stocking stuffing.  I planned a breakfast for the six of us: Apple & Cheddar Frittata, potatoes and bacon.  (I'm not allowed to put green things in the eggs - my parents and I like it but my younger siblings protest - otherwise there would have been some spinach in there somewhere!)  We didn't get a good picture probably because we were all still so sleepy eyed, so I'm going to skip to the cake but please know, breakfast was yummy.

Maddie got these antique birds for Christmas from the resident photographer.  
They were the perfect addition.  Grandpa & Papa in back ground.

So... this cake has been rolling around in my head for some time now.  I think I must have been inspired from this post.   We have a dear friend who gives us Lemon Curd each Christmas.  We've had it on cookies and scones but it was time to try something new.  I love white cake but it has to go with the right meal.  We wanted to keep Christmas simple this year since it was just us and our Grandparents so I thought it was the perfect time to test it out.

I made the cake into three layers so we could put as much lemon curd in the middle as possible.  I was worried the cake wouldn't be moist enough without any frosting but it was perfect with a cup of coffee.  We had a rather white meal if I think about it: corn chowder, homemade rolls & White, Lemon filled cake but everything paired really nicely.  You can find the recipe here; I divided the batter into three 8 inch round cake pans for more filling and dusted with powdered sugar.  I also trimmed the edges to make the cake even but the sides did end up looking a little naked after that!

I spent Christmas day sipping coffee (I probably drank an entire pot by myself!).  The resident photographer (See her pictures form Christmas Here!) and I alternating spent time in the kitchen and our "studio" (*cough* which is really half of our room set up for sewing).  She was kind enough to keep me company while I finished a Christmas gift for Sunday.  

Speaking of coffee, I conveniently got a French Press for Christmas!  And some odds and ends:  yarn (yay for knitting!), a basket for my knitting, a scarf, photos, buttons (the pin on kind from the black apple, and a guitar tuner... now I suppose I have no excuses but learn to play!

You guessed it!  Pictures on this post by the Resident Photographer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 2: Truffles

These cocoa babies were probably over kill for Christmas this year, but I couldn't break tradition.  I started making them for my chocoholic brothers several years ago.  My family is big (and getting bigger again!)  I have four (chocolate loving) brothers and three (equally chocolate loving) sisters.  Our numbers exploded a few years ago as people started getting married and having babies so we switched to a gift exchange plan.  I like to add a homemade gift to the package each year and for the boys it became traditionally, truffles. 

Even though we did away with the Christmas exchange this year - everyone was spending more on the nieces and nephews anyways, so we switched to family gifts - I made a batch to share around our celebration.

These are very simple to make and that's part of the reason I love them.  They're easy to squeeze in when you're busy in the kitchen.  I follow Martha Stewarts recipe.  I've wanted to branch out in my coating, I always use dutch cocoa because I'm in a hurry.  I've toyed with the idea of adding something spicy (the way the brothers like things :) to the coating but haven't experimented yet.

We (siblings) celebrated together on Sunday.  We had so much food, these barely got touched!  But fortunately they store nicely in the freezer.

I made up a handful of these little gift boxes for my friends.  They turned out quite cute and were a great way to give away the truffles and marshmallows.  I have lots of paper left over so I'm eager to find more boxes for next years' goodies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 1: Marshmallows

I took on a bit more than I could handle this Christmas.  I was up until 1am finishing projects Christmas Eve and still wrapping presents Christmas morning!  I don't think anyone minded though :)  That also means that my plans for blogging as I worked on projects went out the window.  We just snapped pictures as we we went then washed dishes and cleaned our rooms (again, and again, and again).
This was our third(?) Christmas making marshmallows and boy was it worth it.  After last year almost breaking our Bosch (which isn't supposed to be humanly possible, by the way) and having a huge sticky mess, plus accidentally adding too much peppermint - I wasn't sure if I was ready to try again, even a year later.  
Then I ran into a slightly different recipe over at Seven Spoons.  (I had used Martha Stewarts recipe before.)  We were delighted!

We concluded that the texture was even better than the last two years, but this could also be because our mess was somehow minimized (perhaps we're finally growing up?).  Oiling the spatula is also key!
  I liked the addition of egg whites, which seemed, at least in my mind, to make them "heartier."  Plus we used honey instead of corn syrup with absolute success!

These were meant to have on hand to give as gifts but I sampled way too many.  They melt just perfectly in hot chocolate but even plain they're solid little vanilla squares.  
These are just begging to be made.  I think they'd be perfectly festive for lonely January.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What we've been up to...

Exporing Duluth, and the superior waters

I spent a week exploring Duluth, catching the very very last hints of autumn.  In fact my flight out was delayed by a snow storm.  I spent my days wandering along the surprisingly warm beach, collecting sea glass and eating swedish food.

Then we decorated... wait for it... the garage!
For Thanksgiving!
  As we've grown our centerpieces have all but disappeared.  Years ago, my sister in law led us all in collecting, gold charger plates.  We use them every Thanksgiving.  We've reused the apples for place settings a couple times now but it's so simple and beautiful.  

I'm not super keen on Thanksgiving food but I love all the left over turkey in recipes.  My sister and I made Turkey Noodle Soup from (who else) the pioneer woman's recipe.  We followed her recipe for egg noodles too.


drinking excessive amounts of hot chocolate thanks to the resident photographer

decorating for Christmas

did I mention baking?

Anyone have good gift suggestions for parents?  I've been working on a few ideas but nothing yet!  
I've been knitting away on some Christmas gifts.  We're also plotting some first aid salve for gifts.  And I have a really exciting gift squirreled away for a certain someone.

p.s. I stole most of these pictures from my sister :)