Wednesday, December 31, 2008

bagels


Is there anything better than a NY bagel? Not much. Every once in awhile my husband will grab a dozen on his way home from work, a big treat!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

yarn


I have been knitting a lot lately. In the past month I have made six hats and two scarves. I have used up almost all the yarn that I had in my stash. For one reason or another I have had a hard time getting to the knitting store to get some new yarns and some new ideas for things to make, I am getting a bit tired of the hat and scarf thing.

I was just looking around on etsy and found some great hand spun and hand dyed yarns . I think etsy might be the way to go if I can't get to the store in the next week or so.

Above handspun merino and silk yarn by Snowberry and Lime

photo by snowberry and lime.

Monday, December 29, 2008

knit


I made this scarf the other day. I modified a pattern from the purl bee. It is a quick knit.

I am not sure what I will do with it, perhaps give it to a friend who has a birthday coming up, or maybe I will just keep it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

warm weather


The weatehr was unseasonably warm today. We decided to take advantage of it and spent some time at the park. It was nice to be outside.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

marshmallows


For a holiday treat I have been making the kids homemade hot chocolate and using the extra marshmallows we had left from the cookie bags. The marshmallows are simple to make and well worth it.

Homemade Marshmallows
From Barefoot Contessa

3 packages of unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow it to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high and whip until it is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust and 9x13 inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top (it helps to wet your hands and tamp with your palms, it take a bit of practicec for it not to be messy) and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them into squares. Roll the cut marshmallows around in more confectioners sugar to coat all the sides and stop them from sticking to each other.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry merry


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tradition


We took the kids into the city (Philadelphia) today. We needed to pick up some stuff for our dinner tonight so we made a day of it. We first took them for some lunch and then headed to get our dinner items. Ater that we went over to Macy's (the old Wanamakers) to see the light show. We have taken them a few times before, it is a fun Philly christmas thing to do. After the light show we did a bit of shopping and headed home.

We will have a late Christmas eve dinner and then off to bed for a busy day tomorrow.

merry, merry!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

all finished


After a long day of baking (really it was a long week), all the cookies were baked and wrapped last night by eleven pm. I packed up eleven bags to give out to teachers, offices, friends and family. Each bag was packed with fouteen different types of cookies and one confection. I am not sure how I wound up with so much, but I need to rethink things for next year, I am crazy exhusted.

If you have a spare moment, give these cookies a try, they are a hit in this house.

Homemade Oreos
Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

still baking...


Still busy baking. I think I am about a third of the way done. Monday is the final baking day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

baking


The holiday baking list is finalized. Here is what I settled on for this year.
spritz
macaroons
sugar cut outs
molasses
thumbprints
chocolate chip cookies
toffee bars
double chococolate brownie cookie
brownie squares
chocolate toffee cookies
peanut butter brownies
homemade oreos
rugelech
chocolate thumbprints
homemade marshmallows

If you are interested in any of the recipes let me know and I can let you know where they are from, or send the recipe for some.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

cards


Our cards our finally done. I am so happy to have them going in the mail tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

crazy


It was a crazy day today, and not a good kind of crazy. I am trying to wrap up all the christmas card orders along with my own.

I also need to start baking asap.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

no. 4


It is hard to believe, but no. 4 turned four today. Time sure flies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

decorate


While I was redoing the downstairs this past fall I told the kids that I would redo their rooms in the summer. I just came across this great wallpaper by Julia Rothman on a favorite blog of mine, liquid paper. I love it. I wonder if I could talk the girls into doing a wall or two, or four.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

spirit


I am having some trouble getting into holiday mode. Our Christmas cards are still not done (we finally picked a picture today), the cookie list is not done, not sure when the gingerbread village will be made, I never decorated the outside urns and I didn't even bother to decorate the fireplace this year. I am lost on what to buy the kids. They need nothing and have not really asked for much this year. I spent a ton of time today looking online for things to get, but everything that I came up with seemed like I was going to buy it just to buy something.

I went into NYC last tonight for my husbands company party. I bought a great outfit, got a new haircut and even went as far as buying a new tube of mascara. I thought that might bring on some holiday cheer, I was wrong. I did get to spend some time by myself on the ride into the city and I got a lot of knitting done. Then on the ride home I got to alone with my husband.

On a positive note we do have the tree up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

baking


Every year I bake like crazy for Christmas. I give big boxes of cookies to a select few people and teachers.

Last year I made twelve different kinds of cookies and one candy. I figured that I probably made well over one hundred dozen cookies. For the past few weeks I have been thinking about the cookie list for this year. I always make a few of the same cookies every year, I have a few people that will be sad if I get rid of their favorite. But on the other hand I like to add new ones each year, so I think that is why I am up to a dozen different types of cookies (I have a feeling that it will increase this year).

In the next few days I need to finalize my list and work out the schedule of when everything will be made. I usually bake over a four day period. I like everything to be fresh when I give it out. I also need to figure out how I will package them, I try to change it every year.

Any suggestions?

Monday, December 8, 2008

snapshot of fall 13


It is not officially fall yet, but it sure feels like it outside.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

new


I have been working on a new card. I have about 20 or so packs done for the house party tomorrow. I am interested to see how they do. I will also try to get them posted in my etsy shop.

Friday, December 5, 2008

house parties


Here is a tip, never do two house parties in one week.

I am going crazy trying to get ready for the second house party of the week. The first one, hosted by a friend on Wednesday night, was decent. It is odd how these things work. I sold a lot less at this one than at the one another friend hosted a few weeks ago that had two-thirds less people. You never know.

The next house party is at my house this Sunday. I am doing it with a friend who will be selling her book. On Monday I need to box of a bunch of sets and send them off to one of my sister-in-laws who said that she would put them in the teacher's room where she works. She seems to think theat they will sell well.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

blondies


I made a batch of blondies yesterday to bring to a house party that a friend was hosting for me (along with a batch of the toffee blondies). I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, my favorite blog. They are super easy to make and can be tailored to many different tastes. I put in about 3/4 of a cup of dark chocolate chips.

Really, it does not get any easier that this.

Blondies
How to Cook Everything

8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Butter an 8×8 pan

Mix melted butter with brown sugar - beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below).

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle.
Cool on rack before cutting them.

Further additions, use one or a combination of:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the vanilla
Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit, especially dried cherries, into the prepared batter

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

presents


I found two patterns that I might use to make some gifts. The first is a hat pattern that I found on the Soule Mama blog. You can get the pattern here.

The other pattern is for a scarf. I found the pattern on The Purl Bee. You can get the pattern here.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, December 1, 2008

hats


I was able to get three hats done last week. I made two for the girls and one for my daughter's friend (it is a gift for her birthday). We went and picked out a yarn for my son's hat today, so I will start his tonight.

I have been trying to find something fun to make to give as gifts, but nothing is jumping out at me. I was planning to go to the knitting store this past weekend to see if something inspired me, but I never made it there. I was just looking online but nothing...