Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Practicing

Now that November 11 (Happy Birthday, Gloria!) is past, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. The operative word there is “thinking”. I’m not big on decorating for the holidays, really. When we were growing up, the tree didn’t go up until just days before Christmas. When we had our children, the tree didn’t go up until school let out for the holidays and came down when they went back to school in January. It’s a day, not a season.

However, all that said, when it comes to Christmas baking, a little bit of time and preparation is required. This year, with the discovery that Kristen is gluten intolerant, it also means practice runs of promising recipes. That’s what this weekend has been about.

This is going to seem like a digression, but it really isn’t. When it comes to cookie baking, I’ve always wanted a cookie press. Each year, I check out Amazon.ca for their prices. I wander over to Michael’s to see what they have; and each year, I don’t buy one. My mother had an aluminum one years and years ago but it was never really used and I have no idea where it ended up. This year, I decided it was time to just get one. I went to my favourite kitchen store (Chef’s Edge in Kelowna, if you must know) and bought one. The price was reasonable, very much in line with buying it online, and taking into account the delivery costs. Plus, I didn’t have to wait for it to arrive.

With new toy, er… tool, in hand, I set about to finding some recipes to play with. I came across one that looked really good – Vanilla Cardamon Spritz. The recipe I used is from Serious Eats, one of my favourite food websites. The only thing I did differently was to use a 1:1 gluten free flour.

vanilla-cardamon-spritz_plain

The cookies are crisp, buttery, perfectly flavoured. The cardamon doesn’t overpower the vanilla but gives the cookies a depth of flavour that’s really nice. With a cup of tea or coffee, these are perfect.

I didn’t do much in the way of decoration, as you can see. I wanted to try out the recipe gluten free. However, I did play a little bit later.

vanilla-cardamon-spritz

A little melted dark chocolate, some sprinkles… it doesn’t take a lot to make these little cookies look festive and cheery.

Then, because I’m not super big on sweets, I decided to try my hand at some savoury biscuits. During my hunt for the spritz recipes, I came across a cheesy spritz recipe. It seems this recipe is all over the internet – how have I never come across it?

This time, I inadvertently used wheat flour, even though the gluten free flour was already on the counter beside the mixer. Doh!

cheesy

These call for a pound of aged, sharp cheddar so they’re not an inexpensive treat but, my oh my…. they are addictive! They go very well with a glass or two of white wine. VERY well. Don’t ask how many I ate, ok?

I did have a bit of an issue in getting these on to the cookie sheets – they wouldn’t stick very well, even after I washed, dried, and cooled the cookie sheets in the freezer. In the end, I rolled out the last bit of dough and cut cookies out with a small square cookie cutter, kind of like Cheez-Its.

I followed the recipe on the TGIF (This Grandma Is Fun) blog but I’ve noticed that the same recipe appears on numerous other blogs. Some bakers add a little dry mustard to their mix but I found that the addition of a little hot sauce (I used Franks’s) works well. Seriously, these are good!

If you do bake them, whether with wheat flour or gluten free (that will happen at some point), I’ll offer one tip: beat the heck out of the butter and cheese mixture. Seriously, you can’t underbeat it. The longer you beat that mix, the easier it will be to put it through your cookie press.

Categories: Baking, Christmas, Just stuff, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

White Christmas Indeed!

We did, indeed, have our forecasted white Christmas. And it hasn’t stopped snowing yet. Here are a few images we took yesterday (by “we”, I mean Ethan and I; he stayed the night).

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Our back yard. It doesn’t look quite the same this morning as the kids played back there later in the day. And there’s more snow there now.

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My car, before Ethan and I cleaned it off. There’s about 8″ of snow on there. We used a broom to clear it off and, even so, it took nearly half an hour to clear off the car and the snow immediately around the car!

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My helper. The two things they forgot to bring were his snow pants and his boots. He definitely had fun, though. He did have mittens but when you’re playing with a remote control car (all weather vehicle), mittens just don’t work!

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The guys who belong to the trucks cleared the driveway for us, thankfully. John was under the weather and barely got out of bed all day. Charlie was having a blast, looking for her (imaginary) ball.

Categories: Blogging, The Weather | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Almost Christmas

Time certainly flies when there’s much to do. It’s almost Christmas already. Here, in the house, you’d never know. The only decorations up are the Christmas cards that have been trickling in and the giant 3D snowflake Trinity made for us.

3d star

While the kids were here yesterday, we made a batch of sugar cookies; Ethan was more interested in breaking eggs and adding ingredients while Trinity was most helpful when it came to rolling out the dough and cutting it with cookie cutters. We embellished them very simply with some coarse vanilla sugar. When they left, I gave Kristen a small tin of cookies and kept a small tin for ourselves.

Sugar cookies

Today, I’ll be baking up a couple of very Dutch recipes, speculaas squares and koek, a spiced loaf cake. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe on my cooking blog (also sorely neglected), In Ev’s Kitchen.

We’ve decided to go completely non-traditional with this year’s Christmas dinner. When I asked Kristen what we should have, and suggested turkey, she nixxed the idea right away. Between the three of us, Kristen, John, and myself, we decided to have a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings and a variety of vegetables. No stuffing, unfortunately. That’s my favourite part of Christmas dinner. Yorkies make up for it a little bit, I suppose. They’re definitely a favourite around here.

As for Christmas day, the weather man has guaranteed that we’ll be having a white Christmas this year. There’s snow on the ground now, with light snow falling.

Snow

To all of my family and friends, I hope you have a wonder-full, safe Christmas and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016.

Christmas Tree Hand-Lettering

 

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cooking, Just stuff, No Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2015

Well, the Christmas madness is over for another year. I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2014’s back side. It’s been a year of ups (Kristen and the kids moving here, our 10th anniversary, to name a couple) and downs (the deaths of two family members and Zachary’s horrific accident). All of that is in the past now; it’s a new year and time to look forward to new things.

We had a marvelous Christmas; it’s so much more fun when there are children involved.

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Ringing in the new year was fun, too. A friend of ours is an amazing flute player and the band he is in played a New Year’s Eve gig not far from our home. It was a wonderful night of music, dancing, and catching up with some friends we’ve not seen in, quite literally, years. S, who lives upstairs, joined us for the evening, as did another couple. It really was fun to ring in the year with friends.

Now, it’s time to get back to normal. There’s knitting to be done – Trinity and Ethan’s slippers still aren’t finished. I’m also working on a new pair of gloves to match the new coat John bought me for Christmas. And then, there’s the knitting my son wants me to do for him, and….. well, you get the picture. I’m definitely back in the groove.

And that’s it…. the first post of 2015. I know a lot of people use this time of year to make resolutions; I’ve done that in the past and have decided not to do that this year. The only thing I will say is that I will do everything I can to make this coming year the best year I’ve ever had, in whatever way I can.

I hope that you, my friends, my family, my dear readers will have your best year as well. I wish for each of you a year filled with peace, safety, family and friends. May 2015 be a year to remember.

Categories: Just stuff, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Five Days to Go

The weekend before Christmas… where has the time gone? I’m finished work until the 29th (that will be catch up and clean up time, I’m sure) and we are now in full-on Christmas mode.

John very kindly did some scoping out of gifts on my behalf yesterday; he knows I dislike going to the mall at the best of times. Going there at Christmas, with hordes of people out shopping and browsing and generally milling about, is definitely not something I look forward to. Now though, he knows exactly where to take me to get the things we’d talked about. He even bought a gift or two, as well as the wrapping paper required.

The next few days will be spent prepping Christmas dinner (no Morton Thompson turkey* this year!), wrapping gifts, decorating the house (at least a little bit), and making things Christmas-y… and relaxing.

To all of you, my readers, my friends, I wish you and yours a most wonderful Christmas. I hope you are surrounded by those you love and cherish. I hope that you spend some time creating good memories.

Christmas centerpiece

*If you’re curious about our Morton Thompson Turkey adventure, you can read about it here. The link will take you to Part 1 of 5.

Categories: Just stuff, No Knitting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

December

And suddenly, it’s December! We’ve had snow, we’ve had freezing rain. We’ve had cold temperatures (down to about -15ºC); it’s warming up a bit now (at about 3ºC right now). Both John and I have been hit with our first colds of the season; mine kept me home for two days. We’re on the mend now, thankfully.

snow bikes

With winter weather comes the urge for knitting. I’ve really been bitten by the knitting bug this winter, more than I have all year. I suppose the break from knitting was a necessary one. Coming back to it now, I’m finding myself enjoying it more than I have in what feels like a very long time.

This past week, I’ve kept my needles busy. One of Ethan’s slippers is finished… well, the knitting of one slipper is finished. The second is almost half finished. They won’t be completely finished, of course, until the felting process is complete.

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The little piece of purple yarn is there as a marker for joining the cuff to the foot. Once felted, these slippers will look like high top running shoes, complete with laces. Once Ethan’s are finished, I’ll make Trinity’s and won’t felt them until the kids are around to watch the process.

I also started, and finished a small project for a friend with a baby. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that scarves on little ones can be a hazard and the use of scarves is no longer encouraged for infants. When the weather’s cold, though, little necks need to stay warm, too. I’ve always been of the belief that if it’s cold enough for you, as a parent, to pull on a sweater or wear a jacket, hat, scarf, and mittens, you should be dressing your child accordingly as well.

To that end, I went hunting on the Drops (Garnstudio) web site and found a cute little pattern for a neck scarf that ties at the back.

The pattern is Henrik VIII (click the title to see the pattern). It uses less than one ball of yarn and would have been finished in one evening if my cold-clouded brain had comprehended the increase row near the end. If you check out the pattern pictures, you’ll see that it covers the neck nicely and looks almost like a dickey. It should definitely keep any cold winds or gusts off of the recipient’s neck.

The yarn I used was some leftover Sandnes Garn Lanett Baby Ull, 100% superwash wool on 2.25 mm straight needles.

I also decided this week that I’m going to knit another pair of socks for myself… maybe. I’m not sure I have any more of the yarn I started with so this may end up just being an experiment that will be frogged once I see how it fits after turning the heel.

red socks

We shall see. For now, it’s simply mindless knitting. I’ve been toying with a few ideas. I may knit this one up to the heel, work the heel in a different colour, then work the cuff in a third colour. Hopefully, working it like that might leave me with enough yarn to work the foot of the second sock in the same way. I only have one 50 gm. ball of the red yarn, unfortunately. I bought it quite some time ago so I doubt I’ll be able to find another ball of it; even if I did, I don’t remember what brand it is as there’s no tag or label with it. I do know that it’s a superwash DK wool and is very soft and cushy. If I do manage to make a matching sock, they will definitely be nice and warm. I like nice and warm!

Before I end this post, I have to do a bit of bragging. It’s not bragging about myself; I have to brag about my daughter. She’s been crocheting for some time now but has never quite picked up on how to read a pattern; well, she sure can now!

owl hats

Ethan doesn’t look very happy, does he? He wasn’t feeling well when Kristen picked the kids up from school and, shortly after this picture was taken, he threw up. He does love his hat… really! Kristen has been keeping her crochet hooks flying and I have convinced her to join Ravelry. Once she saw how easy it is to look up all kinds of crochet patterns, she was hooked (yes, bad pun, I know… couldn’t resist).

There’s more I could write about but this post is, I think, long enough. I’ll save the rest for another post. For now, I’d best get going. I made a big pot of pea soup last night and I’m planning on baking a couple kinds of bread today – Raisin bread and another couple loaves of white bread for the freezer. As well, there’s laundry to do and Christmas decorating to be put up, and…… well, you get the picture.

Categories: Knitting, Slippers, Socks, The Weather, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Was Your Christmas?

The Christmas season is coming to an end. There’s just New Year’s Eve to get through and then we can get back to normal again. That really sounds rather “grinchy” doesn’t it? As nice as our Christmas was — quiet but nice — I’m happy it’s behind us. Both John and I were hit with a flu/cold bug of some sort about a week before Christmas and we’re both struggling (John more than me) to get over it. Neither of us has our appetite back yet so making a fancy dinner wasn’t necessarily all that appealing.

It was, however, a lovely dinner. We chose not to repeat last year’s adventure; remember the Morton Thompson turkey? If you’d like, you can read about it on the old blog, the original Strings ‘n Things. There’s a series of posts about the turkey.

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Judgement Day

This year, we decided to go a completely different route. Instead of turkey, we decided to cook up a prime rib roast with “the fixings” and to invite our friends Mike & Judy. We feasted on a perfectly cooked prime rib roast with roasted sweet potato, parsnips and carrots, steamed brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the must have Yorkshire puddings. It’s just too bad that we really could not eat as much as we normally might have… or maybe that’s not such a bad thing. John asked yesterday whether or not Kelly (truly the sweetest dog I know) had had any of the roast beast during dinner; I assured him that Kelly had indeed “helped” me with my dinner.

Kelly-8x6

Even though I’m happy that this holiday season is almost behind us for another year, I must say that I was happy for the extra couple of days off. It did give me the opportunity to do some much needed knitting.  (I would have done more painting but the paints were put away so we could use the dining room table for what it is actually meant for… dining.)

I’ve been saying for quite a while now that I need/want some slippers that will keep my ankles warm. They’re not always cold but when they are, I get really cold. I’d bought a pattern quite some time ago (like a year or more ago). I really like the leg warmers but, as I posted in a previous post, I’d bought the pattern and wool to make a pair of felted boots and now, with a couple of days off, it was time to make them.

felted boots

They were done by the end of Christmas day, as in knitted, felted, and drying. I was even nice enough to let Judy wear them while we were having dinner as her feet were icy cold (I could tell by looking at her). She was very appreciative!

Alpine boots

Now, however, they are mine… all mine!

Alpine boots feltedI’ve also been working on the 10-stitch afghan but when I looked at how much progress I’ve really made since the last time I posted about it, I’ve only really completed one half of a round. Granted, the blanket is getting bigger with each round but I thought that I’d made a little more progress than that! Ah well, that blanket will be a work in progress for some time to come; there is no rush to finish it, thankfully.

In closing for today, I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas, no matter how you celebrate it and I wish for you a year filled with good and happiness.

 

Categories: Cooking, Finished, Health, Just stuff, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s Right Around the Corner

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I’m nowhere near ready. It isn’t that we do a lot for Christmas – we don’t – but I do like to send out a few cards to some special people in our lives. I usually make my own cards from one of my own photos or a photo I’ve found online (from a site like stock.xchng). They’ve always turned out well and, I think, been well received. This year, however, I’m doing something different.

Having taken up water colour painting, it’s only logical that I paint something to be used for my cards this year. It’s an agonizingly slow process, unfortunately. I mean, it is for me.

In progressIt’s taken a couple of weeks to decide the best way to tackle this little subject. This week, it all came together and I’m finally making some progress. There’s still some work to do on the painting but I should have it finished this weekend.

In addition to the painting coming together, I’ve also been doing some knitting this week. It’s a very simple knit but I anticipate that it will take a while to finish this project.

lessismoreThe pattern is Less Is More by Phazelia and is a free Ravelry download. The scarf in this picture is not mine; it’s a picture from the pattern. Here’s mine… all 2″ of it.

Lessismore_evThe reason it could take a while to finish this scarf is that it is knit with lace weight yarn on 2.5 mm circular needles. That’s some pretty fine knitting. The scarf is a long tube with “tufts of grass”, visible in the  top picture. I’m making the tufts and I’m adding some complementary glass beads. Both the tufts and the beads are placed randomly, wherever I’m inspired to put them. At this point, I’ve made two tufts and place one bead; I have a long way to go!

It’s been pretty cold here this week; right now (at about 12:30 p.m.), the temperature is a balmy -12ºC (11ºF) but the sun is shining and the sky is clear. There’s still a bit of snow on the ground and there’s a possibility of more on the way but at least today is a clear, sunny day. I’m already tired of the dark and dreary days we’ve been having lately. We don’t really want to go out but there are groceries that are needed and I really would like to stop in at Opus, our local art supply store. Once we get back, the painting will be worked on again… and finished!

 

 

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, Knitting, Painting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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