Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a winter wonderland!

We had 6 inches of snow this morning. I took a snow day- I'm not sure if I'll be in trouble at work for not going in, but after spending 2 hours watching cars fishtail all over the place on our street, I decided to play it safe. And do a bit of crafting.

We haven't decorated much, but all that's up so far is stuff I've made.
Above our mantle hang the two gumdrop wreaths I made. I got the idea from Martha Stewart. I used 2 12" stryofoam rounded wreaths with flat backs (a hemispheric cross section), my glue gun, about 20 glue sticks, and 5 19oz bags of red and green spice drops (which left me with probably 3/4 of a bag leftover). I just hot glued the gumdrops onto the wreaths, super easy, although a little tedious. It took under an hour for each wreath (2 episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" each)

Also, my little korknisse santas, my snowflake votive holders (trace a snowflake in glue on a cheap frosted glass tealight holder, sprinkle heavily with glitter, that's it!), the two Simon Pearce glass trees we registered for, and a centerpiece we bought at the Old St Andrew's Church (in Bloomfield, CT) craft fair.

And today I finally hung our stockings. Clint's is made following Martha Stewart's stocking pattern from the December 2004 MSL, and mine was done without a pattern (I've done enough socks not to need one).
This morning I worked on our Christmas cards. Good news- I have all the paper I need to make them! Unfortunately, though, I can't seem to find my stamp box, and my gold ink pad has dried up. I'll probably have to borrow some of my mom's stamping supplies- so let's hope I can assemble all the cards before Saturday, when I'll be home. The photos came yesterday and half of them have been decorated (you'll have to wait for more on that), I've cut half of the decorative paper into the proper sized rectangle, but they all need to have a cut-out done in them. I did 10 last night, and I'm tracing a cookie cutter with an exacto knife, which is very, very tedious. It's hard to do more than 10 at a time. I've made part of 100 paper pointsettias, and need to finish those and make 100 more. Then glue everything together "Happy Holidays" or something on the front, and sign them all. Clint's in charge of addressing the envelopes.

In case you're wondering, yes, I am worried I've taken on too much. My goal is to send out the cards by the end of next week.

In the cooking world, I have my Christmas Cookie 2009 line-up made.
chocolate chip
sugar cookie trees
gingerbread men
peanut butter kiss cookies
7 layer bars (because Clint's never had them, and mom always sends most of hers to my aunts in SD)
mint chocolate sandwich cookies
and maple cookies, which I made last night.

The maple cookies aren't especially pretty. They're a simple butter cookie recipe with maple sugar added. Then you reduce maple syrup (of course, I used Grant family syrup) and pour over the cookies. And sprinkle with coarse salt, "the enhance the maple flavor". The cookies are good, but they're actually really salty, even though I skipped the sprinkling at the end, and I don't find that it enhances the maple flavor at all. I think next time I do these, I'll cut the salt in the dough in half. They're a nice, simple cookie, and the maple glaze is nice (even though I cooked mine too long and it got a little grainy).

EDIT: so I kind of forgot about those maple cookies for a couple days (we had other cookies around), and after 3 days, had another one. And you know what? I like them a lot better than I thought I did. They seem more mapley now, and after a few days in tupperware, they're soft-ish- not chewy soft, not cakey soft, but not shortbread-crispy, like they were tending towards before. I think this is a good recipe (although I'm still cutting the salt in half, the next batch will be given to people on a low salt diet).

Now I'm back to watching all the Martha Stewart Shows on our DVR and tackling the Christmas cards, and later on, when I can't stand to see any more glue, knitting some more korknisse.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a major award, I won, I won, I WON!

Look what I won! Not a leg lamp, but a new knitting bag! I won Simply Simon's Sew Mama Sew giveaway. I'm very excited, because not only is this a lovely bag and it's mine, all mine, but it was one of the top things I hoped to win!!


I have other crafty things to share, but winning this bag totally takes the cake. :-D

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cute things

Normally I wouldn't dedicate an entire post to one cute thing, but this is about the cutest thing I've seen, ever. I'm officially in love with this felt "cookies for Santa" set.

Like, I kind of want to add felt in various colors onto my Michael's shopping list today.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas crafting bug

I caught it! I was actually tempted to skip pilates tonight so I could have more crafting time- and I really, really love pilates, and haven't been in 2 weeks. But I usually get home from pilates at 7:30, and that gives plenty of crafting time.

I've been working on these guys for a couple weeks (I've made 8 so far, and have the pieces for 8 more, and I plan to make more)

Candle holders, inspired by Martha Stewart's Halloween spider web ones I made. I've done 14, and have 16 more votive holders.... but these are kind of painful to do, so we'll see if I decorate the rest.

A gumdrop wreath! I bought 2 19oz bags of red and green gumdrops, one 12" styrofoam wreath form, and luckily was able to find my hot glu gun- but I think I needed 5 bags of gum drops, it's nearly half finished, and I'm out of gumdrops. Alternatively, I could have purchased a smaller wreath form, but the Michael's in Shrewsbury only had one size of white styrofoam wreath, so I had no choice. And I think the 12" will be a nice size. I'm eager to finish this, it'll look really cute. We'll have the green gum drop wreath above the mantle and the red gumdrop wreath perhaps in the kitchen.

Not holiday at all, but here's one of my new favorite foods: beets. Now, why did I never like beets before? They're pink. They turn everything they touch pink. How did I not fall in love with them immediately? At restaurants I always see them paired with chevre, and I'll eat anything with chevre. When we went to the farmer's market in Berrysburg, PA, the beets looked good and cheap, and I decided to give fresh beets a try. First I roasted them in the oven for about an hour (a recipe suggested 35 minutes would be enough- they were wrong), which yielded rock-hard beets that I ate anyway. For this batch, I boiled them for about 20 minutes, then sliced them, topped them with goat cheese, sprinkled some sliced almonds on top, and baked for about 30 minutes. Then I drizzled honey over them. That method worked much better, the beets were nice and soft. And tasty. Unfortunately, since I gave my mom most of the beets I bought, I'm all out. I'll have to see if they look at all decent at the grocery store.

Finally, the model for our Christmas card. It's a 4x6 piece of gold paper with a bell cut-out (I'm tracing a cookie cutter with an xacto knife- we'll see how fun this is after making 100 of them... sigh) and a wedding photo of us- the real thing will have a color photo and I'll also make a little paper pointsettia to stick on the card.
I'm also working on my Christmas stocking- although it needs a bit more planning before I get too much farther, I have to grid out my name to knit in white on the otherwise dark red (knitpicks wool of the andes "hollyberry"- how appropriate) yarn.

Giveaway day!

Bird was nice enough to bring everyone's attention to Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day, which was yesterday, and lasts through Sunday!

I don't know about you, but I'm visiting all these new blogs, entering their giveaways, and adding a ton of blogs to my list.

Um, and also getting oodles and oodles of crafting inspiration. Bottle brush Christmas trees, anyone? And I'm thinking January needs to be an official sewing month- I'd say this weekend, but there are too many Christmas fairs to attend!

Stay tuned for more crafts- I have better pictures of the ornaments I started when I had the plague, I've made a bunch of winter/Christmas votive holders, last night I cast on for my Christmas stocking, and as soon as I can find my glue gun, we'll have gumdrop wreaths! The craft bug has definitely bit me this holiday season- for once, knitting takes a back seat! And I have no idea when I'll fit in all the Christmas cookie baking. I haven't even compiled my cookie clist, that usually happens over Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrating fall

How do you celebrate fall? I like to incorporate apples, and the eating thereof, into my celebration. Thanksgiving is just my kind of holiday- it's all about eating fall foods. Especially apple pie.

Tonight I'm having some friends over for dinner, and because I have a good number of apples at home, I'd planned to bake a pie- basically, another apple ginger cranberry pie, in case Clint and I didn't get enough at Thanksgiving.

Then I was reading Smitten Kitchen, and found this: a caramel apple gingerbread upside down cake. The only upside down cake I've ever had is pineapple, and I'm not a fan (too sickly sweet), but a gingerbread upside cake? ooh.
I made it- it's easy, and I'll let SK tell you about it. I overcooked the caramel a bit, but I don't really think that's a problem for this, since the cake would be baked anyway, and I used more molasses than honey (about 1/6 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of molasses- I ran out of honey), and the batter was really, really tasty. It then smelled really, really tasty. It came out of the oven, cooled for about 10 minutes, and then I got this:
and it looked really, really tasty. And then! There were some stuck-to-the-pan bits that we ate, and the bits were so good, we cursed. Involuntarily. It was that good. I really can't wait to eat this cake tonight.

For Thanksgiving I brought my standard apple ginger cranberry pie and pumpkin pie. Clint said: everyone in my family eats the pumpkin pie, I'm the only one that ever wants apple. When we got there, everyone wanted apple, and only my nephews (I have nephews now!) and I wanted pumpkin. Huh. But they were a big hit, and that's the most important thing.