Category Archives: Holiday
This past week I have been sick, not horribly so, but sick enough that I’m not getting much sleep and daily activities seem to require a lot of effort. The kind of sick that requires lots of over the counter measures and an all day supply of hot tea to be functional. Germs don’t really care if you have 20 dozen cookies you want to bake or gifts that need to be bought or loaves of bread to bake. They just come on in and take over your life when they feel like it and we just have to sit back and watch it happen. What little energy I have, has been devoted to baking. The house is a mess, no presents have been wrapped, and meal planning for the holidays has been almost nonexistent. I did buy a ham. That should feed us for a couple days. We’ll survive on cookies and ham this Christmas.
The boys were a big help to me over the weekend when we baked up cookies for packages that needed to be sent and for a cookie exchange.
Most of these doughs were made and frozen before I got sick and they just required cutting, decorating, and baking. Then, when the pizzelle maker came out of the pantry, the husband got in on the action as well.
Making pizzelles is a four person operation: one to scoop (that was me), one to time, one to remove the cookies, and the last one to cool and pack them.
The boys also did most of the packing up.
We put each type of cookie in its own tin so that flavors and moisture levels don’t mingle. Then the boys bagged up a lot of cookies and packed up the boxes we wanted to mail out.
Which reminds me that I never announced the winner of my giveaway! It was Sara, also known as crazysheeplady on Instagram. She has a great blog called Punkin’s Patch where she documents her life as a sheperdess. Hopefully, her package will get there in the next day or so. Thank you to everyone who entered!
Once those cookie boxes were sent out (also known as stage 1 of Christmas baking), I turned my attention to stage 2: breads. First on the agenda was Panettone.
I make these every year with the same recipe. The only thing I change is to substitute candied chestnuts for half of the fruit/candied peel mixture. This year I also decided not to do the glaze. It’s very messy and stuff falls everywhere when you turn them upside down to hang. I just sprinkle them with a little pearl sugar and it looks pretty enough for me. This year, I also tried a version with dried pear and chocolate. We’re looking forward to trying that one.
One advantage to being sick and homebound is that it has allowed me to develop a rolling schedule for feeding the starter and building these bread doughs. If I time it right, I can bake a pandoro in the morning and a panettone in the evening. Of course, last night’s pandoro did not rise in our cold kitchen, so it is getting some remedial time in our furnace room which is the warmest room in the house.
Hopefully, these will turn out well and we’ll have some yummy bread to go with our cookies and ham. Maybe I should try to cook something red or green, too. How about these. Would these count as a vegetable?
I thought we were done with cookies, but I had to squeeze these in for my younger son. I’ll tell you the story next time!
Hope your holiday preparations are humming along! What are your strategies for getting it all done when time is running out?
Happy New Year to you! I hope that you had a wonderful break from your normal routines. We sure did enjoy ours. It was very full of baking, travel, and spending time with good friends. Now that it is over, I can feel just how good it was to take a break from the everyday work of our regular lives. We really needed that physical and mental break!
Also, now that I am not a crazy person who bakes every moment of every day, I have really enjoyed revisiting my other hobbies: quilting and knitting. On the quilting front, I was able to get my charity quilt for do.good.stitches organized for machine quilting. I’m doing simple straght-ish lines because my machine is really basic and doesn’t really do free motion quilting that well.
I do really love all the blocks that came in for this quilt. I’ve got all the horizontal lines done and just need another afternoon or two to get the vertical ones done as well as the binding. The only trouble is that I really need to do the quilting on the dining room table in order to be able to have enough space to move it around. Unfortunately, the dining room is also the most used space of the house! Well, maybe I can convince the boys to go somewhere else to work for a day or two if I give them enough chocolate!
This week, I also took an afternoon to take a hard look at all my knitting projects and my yarn. I took out every work in progress and asked myself if I really liked the yarn and wanted the finished product. After ripping out three projects, I was left with a few that I felt could be finished rather easily and quickly. A couple of dedicated knitting evenings meant that I had a handful of things that needed a bath.
Clockwise from the top right are: Fraxinus from Ysolda’s 2016 club, Mareel from Knitworthy3, an 1898 hat that I gave to the husband for Christmas, a cowl that I made from a blanket strip from Blanket Statement, and in the middle is a really old Andean Chullo hat that just needed its crown finished.
I’m really happy with all of these, except for the Llama hat. After blocking, it turned out too big for anyone. I started that hat years ago and let’s just say that my stranded knitting skills have greatly improved since then and I am not happy with how uneven it looks.
My happiest finished object of the bunch has to be the cowl I made from the unfinished blanket strip. Oh, how I love blankets, but Oh, how I hate to knit them! I thought maybe a club knit along atmosphere would help me with that, but alas, though the spirit was willing, other projects were just more interesting. As I was holding it in my hand, wondering if I should rip it out, the thought of turning it into a cowl suddenly came to me. It was just the right length. Eureka! Fifteen minutes later, I was sewing in the ends and giving it to my older son who expressed an interest in it. I just love it when things like that happen.
With my Mareel shawl, I was able to use the new blocking pads and wires that the husband gave me recently. They worked like a charm! Blocking shawls is not always my favorite thing to do, so anything that makes it faster, more accurate, and easier is great in my book. I especially like the fabric that has 1 inch grids that came with the blocking mats. With that underneath the shawl, it was easy to make the points symmetric–something that is always challenging to do with a shawl.
Oh, and I almost forgot! I did manage to finish a secret sweater project for the husband for Christmas.
I designed the sweater as I went along, but couldn’t really talk about it here because it was, you know, a surprise. The most challenging part of the sweater was sewing in the zipper along a steeked opening. I used a sewing machine, which has a tendency to push stitches along as it sews, so even though I basted in the zipper, I had to redo it to make the colorwork pattern line up properly.
Also, I am worried that the steek will start to unravel as the garment is worn, even though I reinforced it with two lines of sewing–time will tell!
Overall, I am happy with it, though there are a couple of things I would do differently if I were to do it over again. The collar does not quite come up far enough and it is also a bit tight when fully zipped. He’ll just have to go for a casual, partially zipped look when he wears it! The important part is that it fits, which is always a worry when one is knitting a surprise sweater.
What about you? Have you been doing any organizing or clearing out? I’ve got some more to do in my sewing room, but that will have to wait for another day. I’ve got a little startitis to work through.
Hi All! Just popping in to announce the winner of the Christmas Treat Box Giveaway. I used the random number generator to help me pick the winner and it chose post 67, which is Laura C. with this post:
“I’ve seen these cookies before but never had any. Glad the machine was fun and easy to use”
Well, Laura, there are some pizzeles in the box I just shipped off to you, so I hope you enjoy them and the other treats as well!
Thank you to all of you for being faithful readers and commenters. I wish you could be here to enjoy a piece of cake with me. Our event on Saturday ended up being cancelled due to weather, so we’ve had to eat the whole cake by ourselves, but I would have loved to share it with you. You all make writing this blog a lot of fun!
Today, despite getting off to a late start, has been fairly productive. My candied orange peel is drying now.
And the next batch of panettone dough is made and rising (very slowly). Do you see how stretchy and sheer the dough is? Heavenly! I know it’s only Monday, but the week is looking good so far! How’s your week looking?