Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 46, 54 to go: Lavender Pizzelles

Click this picture to enlarge the sparkle
That pizzelle iron sat there taunting me.  I know I should have put it away last night.  But I didn’t.  So today, there were lavender lemon pizzelles.  I don’t think I have made these before, but I can assure you I will make them again.   I swirled in some purple food dye to identify this flavor… and sprinkled on some white “sanding sugar” for sparkle and crunch. 

Uh oh.  This could turn into another thing like the pajama bottoms—once I start I can’t stop! Somehow, I don’t feel hopeful about an Etsy shop selling pajamas and pizzelles…

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 45, 55 to go: Creamsicle Pizzelles

I have been making pizzelles of all kinds since someone gave me her pizzelle iron when I lived in Kansas City.  She had bought it thinking it was a waffle iron.  They make terrible waffles.  Her mistake was my triumph.  Tragically, that pizzelle iron jumped off the top of my refrigerator and did a kind of twist dive to its death earlier this year.

I hadn’t replaced it despite the fact that I had a few visions about new flavors I would have made if I still had an iron.  A dear friend sent me one for Christmas, so I am back in the business of pizzelle creativity. Heaven forbid I make the traditional anise flavored cookies.  Because I'll be making German springerle which are anise cookies, I like to make pizzelles with different flavorings. 

One of my favorites over the years was a pumpkin butter pizzelle.  They are so autumnal.  I made a big batch for my sister’s wedding cookie table. (It’s a Southwestern PA tradition. In addition to wedding cake, a table full of a variety of cookies are required.  It’s kind of a serious full-contact cutthroat sport to see who can have the most and best cookies for the table. Sisters, aunts, grandmothers—all the womenfolk—spend weeks making every cookie they can think of trying to out-do the last wedding they attended. It's a point of pride.)

The pizzelles I tend to make most often are flavored with rose water.  They are so perfect with tea.  I like to tint them pink to delineate them from the other flavors.  Pink pizzelles are just so pretty with their lacey imprints.

Orange-swirled Creamsicle Pizzelles
Today, I christened my new pizzelle iron.  This batch is “creamsicle” flavored because they have orange peel and vanilla flavoring.  I swirled in some orange food coloring to distinguish them from the additional flavors I have planned.  I really like the orange cream flavoring in these.  What could make them better?  In the morning, I just may drizzle some of them with chocolate too.

Stay tuned for further pizzelle experiments.  I realize they are not “authentic” Italian when I flavor them creatively, but as a person of German-Swiss extraction, I don’t feel bound by the official practices of Italy.  (Making springerle, a German cookie, in any other flavor but anise does feel wrong to me.)  Gingerbread pizzelles maybe?

(Supervision of the pizzelle iron christening today was provided by Felicity.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 43, 57 to go: Vegan Chili

Black and Navy beans with tomatoes, onions and spices.
I managed to put the dried beans and water into a crock pot last night so that this morning, the beans were tender and ready to become chili.  It will cook down a bit in the crock pot and then be ready for an assortment of culinary adventures.  I like it over rice with some shredded cheddar or jack sprinkled on.  I like it in a taco salad and I like it over tortilla chips with cheese and assorted nacho toppings. Usually I make a crock of the stuff and freeze portions in zip-locs so that I can just quickly nuke it when I don’t feel like cooking (or when I do feel like chili) Oh, and it can also go on a chili dog, can’t it? (Except that I rarely eat hot dogs—and then only the turkey or chicken kind)

It just happens to be vegan. I don’t eat cows & pigs.  Turkey chili just doesn’t make sense to me.  So my version is just beans, no meat, no animal products whatsoever. (Until I top it with cheese… ) The crock pot really helps it to cook for a long time. 

Fergus Cassidy, Supervisor
Today’s supervision was provided by Fergus.   Felicity is supervising the typing—apparently she wants me to go to sleep now since she has climbed atop my wrist and is holding me down.  I can take the hint, Fifi.  Just let me post this and I promise to turn off the computer and snuggle with you, sweetheart. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 42, 58 to go: Lava Lamp Dish Cloth

Swarming catlings. No need to panic.
I spent the day swarmed by two catlings who were not about to let me out of their sight.  Felicity wouldn’t even let me out of her touch.  I guess they missed me when I was gone. I certainly missed them.  So I decided to indulge them and not do too much running around.  (Going down to get the mail caused a slight panic along with a stern lecture from Fergus.) 

When swarmed by catlings, knit a dish cloth.
I picked up my knitting needles and made this dish cloth.  My mother learned this pattern somewhere.  (Probably church.)  They are made from cotton yarn and I have come to prefer them to any other kind.  The nubby knit is great for scrubbing dishes or wiping countertops.  The yarn is fairly colorfast—it takes quite a few bleachings before it starts to fade, and still retains a good amount of color. She was knitting them for us, especially around Christmas time in red, white and green ombre yarns.   I love them so much,  I made her teach me how to make them.

This yarn colorway is called “Lava Lamp.” I think it is awfully subtle for its name.  I would go with “baby nursery.” I like to try new colorways of this yarn to see how they knit up.  Lava Lamp includes some of my favorite colors and I was dying to see how it came out.   There is another variation on these colors that is knitted together in a “twist.” The yarn is made of a strand of pink, a strand of lime and a strand of robin’s egg blue.  The twists make cute dish cloths.  (I also used a twist in the red striped hat I made for Zoe at Thanksgiving) 

A few years ago when I was unemployed, I knitted a zillion dish cloths for all of my sisters, friends and my mother.  I experimented with making them with several different colors of yarn.  I really liked the ones where I knitted a third of the way in one color, added a stripe of another and returned to the original for the last third.  The pattern is simple and only increases or decreases at the beginning of each row.  I have to pay attention to the first four stitches and then just knit the rest of the row kind of mindlessly.  That’s my kind of knitting.  It allows me the mindspace to either meditate or half-way watch tv.  After the travel and visiting of the last week, the respite of knitting a dish cloth was just what I needed.

I always think of these as dish cloths, but I also think they would make nice wash cloths.  The nubbiness would probably be just rough enough to exfoliate without rubbing skin raw.  I have thought about maybe packaging them with a bar of homemade soap for the Etsy shop.  Wouldn’t that be a nice gift? I guess I could make sets of these dish cloths to go with embroidered dish towels... Hmmmm....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 41, 59 to go: Grandma models Rachel’s hat

I am typing this at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia while waiting for the train that will take me home.  I have an old Dell hand-me-up laptop from my brother for which I am very grateful.  However, for some reason it will not run on its battery.  This made for a very long ride on the Megabus.  The electric outlets on my side of the bus were not working.  When we got to the rest stop, I switched seats to the side that was working.  But the wi-fi kind of went in and out, so I couldn’t write this on the bus as I had planned. (Well, I could have, but it would really have annoyed my seatmate, I think.)

When I got to 30th Street, I discovered that what I thought would be a half hour wait for my train was actually an hour.  (Darned bi-focals!!! Can’t tell the difference between 19 and 49)  However, when I went up to the track to wait for the train, I discovered an electrical outlet conveniently situated next to a trash can, so I balanced my computer on the trash can, plugged in and here we go. 

The genes are strong with this one.
I made another hat like the “earthtones” one I gave Zoe yesterday.  This is for Mini-Me, Rachel, who loved Zoe’s.  This one appears to be “seatones” --greens & teals.  So here are Zoe and her grandmother modeling the hat in two colorways.  (My mother was the only available model as I was getting ready to leave. Thanks, Mom!) 

This is an example of the difference between the self-striping on Zoe’s hat and the “ombre” on Rachel’s.  The colors fall in an arbitrary way with the ombre.  The band of the hat just happened to be a length that made the same colors fall together in columns as I went around, so it does give a kind of vertical stripe effect as opposed to the self-striping horizontal earthtones. 

Of course the most interesting thing about these pictures is how obvious it is that Zoe got an awful lot of her grandmother’s genes.  Could they have more similar cheekbones, face shapes, eyebrows etc? 

I still have some Christmas presents to work on when I get home, so I don’t know what tomorrow’s crafting will be.  As far as I’m concerned, I have until January 6, Three Kings Day to get the Christmas presents out.  Starting with Borg #7 of 8's birthday last week, we are now in “birthday season” in my family and there will be birthdays just about every other week from now until the first week of July.  Party on dude.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 40, 60 to go: Finishing the Hat

The last tendrils of yarn with the finished hat.
I love Sondheim.  I am so excited I got to use the name of a song from Sunday in the Park With George in the title of this post.   Today was actually “Sunday teaching crocheting with Maggie and Lily.”

First, the finished hat. Zoe asked for a hat in earth tones.  I ordered some, but when it came, the yarn designer’s idea of “earth” was coral, shrimp, white and brown.  It was a fairly small skein of yarn and I didn’t have any additional solids to augment it with, so I needed to create a hat that would make the yarn go as far as possible.  This is the finished hat surrounded by the 2 yards of yarn that were left. I can’t imagine coming much closer to designing a hat that would use just the amount of yarn available.

Not a gnome hat
Here is the fabulous gnome-and-hat-loving Zoe modeling said finished hat.  Sadly this shot is a bit washed out, so you can’t really get a sense of the color.  The yarn is called “self-striping.”  This means that they dye several yards of it one color, then the next color for several yards and then the next.  The hat looks like I made it from 4 different yarns, when it was, in fact, just one skein with all of those colors in it. I really like the effect.   Most multi-color yarns are called “ombres” and they have maybe 18 inches or a yard of one color before they switch.  They create a more random color effect.  (You’ll see what I mean in tomorrow’s riding-the-bus hat.)

I worked with Lily (age 5 ½) and Maggie (age 4) on crochet and knit lessons for quite a while.  Lily got the fattest knitting needles I have ever seen for Xmas.  They must be close to an inch in diameter.  I showed her how they worked, but they are really difficult to get the tension right for an experienced knitter.  She gave it a shot, but the two ginormous needles were beyond her (and me.) 

I showed Maggie how to finger-crochet chains.  She was starting to get the hang of it.  I remember doing a lot of that at Grandma’s feet. Sometimes Grandma would even take the really long chains I made and stitch them into a coiled mat I could use as a doll rug.  I was so proud.  Since Lily is intent on learning to crochet, finger-crocheting is Maggie, ever the little sister’s “me too.”

Lily is quite good at chain stitching with the crochet hook.  Using the hook rather than fingers is actually pretty sophisticated.  We worked on some single crochet stitches, but she will need to sit and practice and practice if she wants to learn.  Getting the tension right in the stitches and the feeder hand takes a lot of dexterity.  At 5, she might not quite have the fine motor skills she needs. 

Luckily, I was able to recruit someone to give them follow-up lessons.  Rachel, my Mini-Me niece lives near Lily and Maggie, is a great crocheter (I taught her when she was about 10 and she picked it right up) and most importantly, is a rightie.  She is excited about continuing to coach them.  I think it’s important to let Lily set her own pace so she falls in love with it rather than gets too frustrated by it. 

All the cool kids know how to crochet.
Here is a picture of Maggie, her Mom (Borg #6 of 8) and Lily after the crochet lesson.  On the left, providing an excellent photo bomb is Mini-Me (in case that isn’t immediately obvious) ready to carry on the tradition of crocheting to the rest of her generation.

Rachel loves Zoe’s hat, by the way, so I am making her one in greens and blues.  I also showed her generally how I made it.  She is plotting to have a little crochet circle with her friends to all make hats now.  I think she just needed the concept of how they go together (as opposed to afghans).  I love it. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do.  I gave her a quick Intro-to-Pom-pom-Making tutorial too  Seriously.  I can’t wait to see her hats.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 39, 61 to go: more crocheting

Still working on that lacey hat.  It doesn't look like a hat yet, so I will hold off posting pictures until it does. 

We had a lovely, raucous Christmas Eve gift exchange tonight with all of my siblings—including one who was with us via Skype.  I wish we had had Skype when we were kids so we could have gotten to share Christmas Eve with our cousins who were back in the Motherland of New Jersey while we were living around the burgh.

Thank you Miss Lily!
Miss Lily surprised and delighted me by picking out a Christmas present for me at her school’s Secret Santa shop.  Her mother says this was all her idea.  Aren’t these fuzzy pink socks adorable?  We are pink-loving buddies, I guess.

She got a learn-to-knit kit for Christmas.  She wants to learn to knit and crochet.  Her mom (Borg #6 of 8) is an awesome crochet-er, but there is a little problem.  Lily is right-handed and her mom is a hardcore lefty. 

I would just like to point out here that her mother can crochet because I taught her, despite the fact that I am right-handed.  I had been showing my youngest sisters how to crochet, but she wasn’t really getting it.  Usually lefties are good at turning right-handed things around in their heads to figure out how to do a task lefty because they do it their whole lives.  But she couldn’t quite get the crocheting.  So I did.  I managed to hold the needle, yarn and work the way a lefty would.  It was awkward and slow.  I only managed to do it for a few stitches, but that was all it took.  She just needed to see the way her own hands would hold it. There are a lot of moving parts to crocheting.  You really do need to see it in motion a few times.  After she had those basics down, she could "translate" more stitches for herself.
And boy did she go to town after that.  She crocheted afghans for King sized beds for herself and a couple of our sisters.  I have crocheted a lot, but nothing on her scale.  She got really good and prolific.  I am thrilled that Lily wants to learn.  So, tomorrow I am going to take some yarn and my needles over to the family Christmas gathering at my sister’s (#2 of 8) and sit with Lily and see what we can learn.  The kit she got has nice big chunky knitting needles and fat pink yarn, which will be fun to make a scarf out of.  I’d like to start her with crocheting though, because I think it’s easier to learn to handle the yarn and one needle before moving on to knitting with two needles that don’t have a hook on them.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care...
This is a picture of something I made a long time ago which has come to symbolize Christmas at my mom's.  In the late 70s, I was inspired by the idea that Santa had 8 reindeer and my mom has 8 kids.  I made felt stockings with a silhouette of Santa's sleigh for my mother’s stocking and then silhouettes of reindeer on each of the kids’ stockings so that when they all hang in a row like this, it creates the tableau of Santa’s sleigh being pulled by Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest of the team.  (This was so long ago, I made a 9th reindeer with a red nose for Grandma's stocking--she died when I was in college.) The felt stockings were smaller, decorated with glitter and quickly wore out. I remade them about 25 years ago in cotton velvet with red flannel cuffs --leaving out the disco-era glitter.  I still love the way they hang here under the crèche figures. They seem timeless to me. 

I love my sister's handiwork.
When our nieces and nephews came along, one of my little sisters (#7 0f 8) took up the stocking-making gauntlet and made these for them.  So even though I didn't make these, I am including them here because I am so proud of her. (And relieved that someone else took up this task.  At the time, we had no idea the number of grandchildren would stop at a mere 11) The grandkid stockings hang on the banister in the front hall--the fireplace being pretty much at capacity.  I love the way she embroidered the names of each child in glittery white floss on the cuffs. Grandma would be as proud as I am to see her seamstress legacy carried on into a third century.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Extra: Raggedy Christmas Eve

Ready for sugarplums to dance in their heads.

My sister (Borg #6 of 8) posted this adorable picture of her Raggedies and their dolls.  I just had to share!  

Merry Xmas Eve!

Day 38, 62 to go: Daring the Fates...

An English Tradition
I finished the list I was working on yesterday and uploaded it to our family website.  Let the changes of life commence. I have dared the Fates.

I learned a lot while determining the whereabouts of some extended family members, even managing to glean a story or two from my mother about her cousins in the process.  

Proper Cracker Procedure (See the crowns?)
What I spent the most time making today was: family bonds and memories.   I raided the local TJ Maxx for our traditional Christmas crackers with Borg #7 of 8.  Crackers are an English Christmas tradition—you and a partner pull them open and they snap loudly.  Inside, there are a paper crown, a toy or trinket and usually a slip of paper with a Christmas-themed joke or riddle.   Any British movie set at Christmastime will include a scene with at least one character wearing a silly tissue paper crown.  Now you know why.

Later, we went out to dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday again.  It was the same crowd from yesterday plus our 2 oldest nieces and our friend Bridget.  The restaurant is a former Elks lodge hall complete with a wall carved with the initials of Elks of generations past.  They had an interesting gingerbread carrot cake on the dessert menu that I am going to have to go home and re-create.  The gingerbread flavors in a moist carrot cake are inspiring.  They serve the cake with a coffee caramel sauce which I did not have.  (Coffee and caramel are yucky to my palate. I’d rather eat Brussels sprouts.) I am thinking I will do a chocolate hazelnut sauce instead. 

Tomorrow will be the Christmas celebration with the whole family.  There will be so many people packed into my mom’s living room that we have to turn off the heat a couple of hours beforehand and sometimes even crack a window to offset all the warm bodies.  It is a noisy, joyous raucous time.  Disappointingly, my brother, sister-in-law and their awesome kid will not be able to make it in person, but at least can join us by Skype for the gift-opening and annual family portrait. 

Until the crowd arrives, I had better spend tomorrow crocheting the rest of that lacey hat I started the other day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 37, 63 to go: Family address stickers

Tracking large Catholic family
Over 10 years ago, long before there was Facebook or even myspace, I set up some family websites at  It has been a great way to communicate with my numerous siblings, their kids and my mom.  We only have to post our news once, rather than making a bunch of phone calls or having separate emails to update each other. The threaded conversations have been amazing-- enlightening, entertaining, touching, and mostly encouraging.

We have been able to post pictures, have a running calendar of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations etc.  There is a feature that allows us to make up polls.  (Wanna know our favorite Christmas specials?) We can share files, recipes, jokes, stories and generally keep track of each other despite distance and asynchronous schedules.

Early on, I assembled a Word document that everyone could download to print out address stickers for our immediate and extended families.  We have not been at all good about updating it.  One of my sisters (Borg #6 of 8) requested an update, so I have been working most of the day trying to gather information from various sources to update it.

Looking at all that has changed over the last 10 years has been a fascinating exercise.  So many of our cousins’ children have moved out on their own and started families.  My sisters (#5 and 6) have had 4 kids between them who were not even imagined the last time the list was updated.

In the extended family, we have lost several aunts and uncles and some of my parents’ cousins.  People have moved from their family homes to senior living arrangements – or in with their children.  It’s just the circle of life which comes into sharp focus when you look back at 10 years in one document.  So the thing I am making today is not especially crafty, but it is a gift of love for my family as I try to organize the information for the next few years.  I will try to do this annually if I can from now on. 

When I am done, we should be able to have a general idea of where we are, where the college-aged nieces are,  all of our first cousins' addresses (including the priest in Kenya), some of their kids, some 2nd cousins and assorted family friends.

I realize that I will be tempting Murphy’s law when I upload it.  I will just be daring the Fates to change some information.  Hopefully they will be some good changes.  Our Aunt Marion died over the weekend at the ripe old age of 96 (the funeral was Monday) and it was hard for me to remove her from the list.  It helped that I could add some of her great grandchildren though. 

So I have spent the day thinking about how our families evolve over time—even if the family of choice is cats.  When I logged onto Facebook this evening, I learned that 2 women I used to work with died.  Both were much younger than I am and had children—aged 10, 13 and 15.  Just so sad and such a shock.  I feel for their children who will endure this anniversary every year at Christmastime.   

I know some of how they feel.  When I was flipping through channels earlier, I came across a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery on C-span for the 270 people who died during the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988.  I know exactly where I was when I heard the news that two of our friends returning from a college semester abroad had been murdered.  Sudden unfathomable death out of time and right before Christmas.  I listened as they read the names of 268 strangers and two friends during that ceremony. 

And then we had birthday dinner for my sister (#7 of 8).  She was a year or two older than those girls who died.  I know how lucky I am to have all 7 of my siblings and my mom—all healthy (knock wood) at Christmas, not to mention the Gang of 11  nieces and nephews, many of whom have been wearing new pajamas this week.

I should be done with this list soon and hope to return to our regularly scheduled craftiness.

Hug your loved ones, (especially the catlings) and tell them how you feel about them.  Time is short. And it’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 36, 64 to go: Crocheted lacey hat

It was a long day on the bus.  No internet access.  Some crocheting.  And lovely chatting with my seatmate who was on her way from Philly to Detroit.  I do not envy her time on the bus.

So I got this hat started.  It doesn’t look like much but should be more hatty in the next day or so. 

The gnomes are not making themselves.  They did not fit into my suitcase, so I will get back to them when I get home.  Very little fit in my suitcase, and it turns out it’s just as well.  I arrived in “dahntahn” Pixburgh just as torrential rain started blowing sideways.  I was soaked through in about 3 minutes.  As I unpacked tonight, I learned that my hot pink rolling suitcase is not remotely waterproof.  So at least the gnomes are warm and dry back home on my kitchen table. (And probably under a cat or  two)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 35, 65 to go: Dotted tree skirt

Volleyballs, Snowballs, Jingle Bells
Those gnomes still have not made themselves.  And Xmas is coming awfully soon isn’t it?  I will spend much of tomorrow on a bus, so that means more hat-crocheting. 

Once I get to my mom’s I am gonna have to make a lot of gnomes…

In the meantime, here is the tree skirt I have actually finished.  Remember those failed volleyball pajama bottoms?  Here is a tree skirt for that niece.  I was quite taken with the print on this fleece.  It was only later I realized it could be taken for a barrage of volleyballs…or snowballs…or jingle bells? 

Day 34, 66 to go: Polka dot and Blackhawk jammies

Fifi and I both object to combat jammies.
I tried to cut out these jammy bottoms, but Felicity weighed in with some serious objections to the design and did whatever she could to interfere with my cutting them out.  (She did not involve herself at all when I was cutting out the pink and green polka dot fabric)

Peacenik that I am, I really had to try not to look at this as I was stitching these together.  (They were a gift for someone I knew would love them the minute I saw this fabric.) 

Blackhawks and Camo. Blecch!
This was an important experiment for me.  Who knows what other fabrics I might have to work with despite my aesthetic and philosophical objections? 

So here are the finished ones.  (Closing my eyes so I don’t have to see—like the Burl Ives snowman in Rudolph when the Bumble comes along.) 

Girly peacenik non-combat jammies

And here are the pink and green polka dot jammies I knew I would not be able to resist rick-racking.  I have been wearing these for the last couple of days and I LOVE em.  Could they be any more opposite the ones above (that I still can't look at)? 

Or maybe it was just because they are so soft.

It took me several tries to get the shot of the rick-rack because Fergus apparently wanted to be in the picture too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cut off from the world

My DSL and Landlines are down.  I feel so cut off from the world!  I made a couple of pairs of jammy bottoms yesterday and will post --and catch up on missed days when service is restored.  The soonest Verizon can come is Tuesday.  Any time between 8 am and 8 pm. 

Hopefully I will use my time off line well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 33, 67 to go: Polka Dot jammies

You know what? It takes an awful lot of time to wrap parcels for the mail.  Maybe it would have gone faster if I had just plopped stuff in boxes, but I was trying to keep the weight down, so I wrapped things in kraft paper. That, and taking them to the post office used up the better part of the afternoon.  Felicity and Fergus had advised me that I had better not even think about returning home without food for them.  So I hiked down to Petco to get them their “age-defying” food.  

Polka dots begging for rick-rack
They were quite happy and expectant when I returned and are now back to defying their ages once again.  It makes me feel old having cats who are age-defying.  Fergus is not quite 11, but I am not feeding them 2 different formulas.  I figure it makes up for the extra time Felicity was on regular adult waiting for Fergus to be old enough for “active longevity” at 7 years.

I cut out a pair of pajamas for myself today.  This pink and green polka dot fabric has been calling out to me.  I didn’t finish them, but it won’t take long in the morning.  I will have to post a picture when I finish.  I think I hear rick-rack calling. 

As I went to write this post, I read that Christopher Hitchens died tonight.  It’s an odd coincidence because I had been on the phone with a friend for hours talking about god-knows-what.  The discussion ended on him because her father had survived the same cancer diagnosis.  Her dad is still alive and kicking 10+ years after his treatment.  She seemed to think Hitchens might have the same luck.   I had hoped he might because he has 3 kids who are pretty young.  I just hate it when parents die while their kids are still children.  We had that in my family and it really sucked. 

I am grateful I got to know Hitchens’ writing while he was alive.  He was brilliant, articulate and belligerent.  I relate. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 32, 68 to go: Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Pink Cookies
I’ll have you know I am really taking the discipline of this 100 days of making seriously.  Several things transpired today to suck up a lot of time and prevent me from making anything.  But I knew I wouldn’t sleep if I hadn’t gotten anything made. (I did finish putting buttons on yesterday’s nightshirt, but that felt like “finishing”, not “making” to me.)

So, I made this batch of Cranberry White Chocolate cookies.  I got the recipe from my sister (Borg #8 of 8)  I love the juxtaposition of the tart cranberry flavor with the white chocolate chips, particularly because some of the chips get lightly toasted and have almost a burned butter flavor to them.  #8 makes them with Craisins, but I use fresh chopped cranberries.  She also uses only half as many chips.  What can I say? I like a flamboyant cookie. 

VBPT with pink spoonula and dough
I thought I should introduce the VBPT here just for the record.  This is my dearly beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer which was a gift from my second cousin Vince a few years ago. It was so sweet of him to accommodate my love of pink by choosing this particular model.  (Felicity says “hello” by the way.  She just climbed onto the table and plopped her very-loudly-purring-self down in front of me between my arms as I type.  Not to be outdone, Fergus just came by and swished my shin with his tail.  All of this cat love! Not that they were anywhere to be found all night.  But now that there is something to interfere with, here they are doing their duty as Hall Monitors.)  Anyhow, the VBPT stands for “Vinnie’s Big Pink Thing,” which was what this mixer got dubbed when it arrived.  The name stuck. “Kitchen-Aid” and/or “Stand Mixer” just didn’t have the same panache as naming conventions. 

Pink teakettle and tongs at rear.

What this has to do with anything is that I was making this dough in the VBPT, scraping the sides with this pink spoonula, grating orange rind into the dough with a pink-handled rasp grater and then using pink-handled teaspoons, dropped the dough onto the pink silicone cookie sheet liners.  I was just enjoying the pinkness of my kitchen—and the pinkness of this particular dough as the cranberries tend to tint it.  These cookies would be great with tea made in my pink tea kettle, but not at 1:30 am which is when I am typing this—with the help of Felicity who is still purring, though not as loudly.  She is sitting on my mouse which is on the hot pink mouse pad, of course!  

Mom got this recipe from a lady at church. They are yummy.


1 c margarine or softened butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
2 c quick oats
1 c coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries. (OR 1c craisins simmered in 50% diluted cranberry juice for 5 -7 minutes)
1 T grated orange peel
1 pkg (12 oz) white chocolate morsels. (Borg # 8 of 8 prefers only 6 oz)


  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Mix in vanilla.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and soda, 
  3. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. 
  4. Stir in oats, cranberries and orange peel. 
  5. Stir in morsels.   
  6. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart on parchment paper covered airbake baking sheet. 
  7. Cookies are done when tops are golden and some of the white chips are golden as well.
  8. Immediately store in a waxed paper-lined airtight container with sheets of waxed paper or parchment to separate layers

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 31, 69 to go: Blue Roses Nightshirt

Adorable and not Barbie-proportioned!
These arrived in the mail today—presents from my friend Cathy.  Aren’t they adorable?  The dressform part is about 3 ½ inches high. Cathy said she saw them and thought of me! I WILL find ways to display them all year around.  They are just too fabulous.

I kind of want one for myself.
Today, I made buttonholes again.  I made this nightshirt at least a year ago, but meant to make it about 3 years ago.  I made one just like it for my friend Laura’s baby shower.  I thought with the buttons down the front, it would make life easier for the new mommy.  Our friend Jacqui mentioned that  she loved it and I decided to make another for her.   So here it is 3 or 4 years later.  Jacqui has 2 kids and probably no intention of any more, but I finally have buttonholes in this thing.  So I just have to sew on the buttons and this will finally be on its way.  

The fabric hanging behind the nightshirt is a little preview, by the way.  I plan to recover my couch with it.  I am still trying to decide whether to use it vertically or horizontally.  And I am still ambivalent about whether to reupholster or to make a slipcover.  Tune in again in January when I start on that project. 

Maybe tomorrow will finally be the cookie-thon.  I was just jonesing to make buttonholes today.  I guess this is what happens after getting past the phobia.  I have moved on to philia. 

I also need to make a recon into Center City to check out this year’s Christmas Village and this charming Victorian candy shoppe.   And laundry.  There’s always laundry, isn’t there?