Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in review

Here is a mosaic of most of the things I made in 2012.  A little knitting, a little crochet, a little cross stitch, a little baking, a little quilting, a little embroidery...what a great way to spend the year!  If you look at this mosaic on Flickr, I have links to each individual item.

I am already busy working on things that will be completed in 2013, beginning with Alicia Paulson's Winter Woods sampler.  When she premiered the design on her blog last winter, I fell in love with the woven heart, the mittens, the snowflake, the bunny, the snail, and the little cottage, but mostly I was smitten by that blue linen she stitched it on.  Where I live, the winter sky is just that color in the early morning and late evening.

The evening winter sky makes me ache to stitch!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope it is full of all the things you love best.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I have been baking the past few days, mostly old favorites, but I'm trying to mix it up this year with a few new-to-us recipes (like the springerle).  Yesterday I had two sticks of butter softened for one old tried and true recipe, only to discover that I was missing a key ingredient.  My eyes fell on a recipe for Boterkoek that I clipped from a newspaper many, many years ago but have never made.  The very first ingredient listed was 2 sticks of butter, softened, and I had everything else I needed, so I took it as a sign to give it a try.  The recipe also fits my criteria for fast and easy.  I really don't enjoy shaping individual cookies, nor do I have much patience for rolling and cutting dough, so any cookie recipe that says "spread in pan, cut when cool" has me at Hello.


2 sticks butter, softened
1.5 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg white, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour and mix well.

Divide batter and spread into two pie plates. Decorate with cross hatching marks made with the tines of a fork.  Spread the egg yolk over the tops.

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Bake for 30 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Cool and slice into wedges.

It tastes like butterscotch!  I have found other versions of boterkoek online that call for regular sugar, and I'll bet that tastes like shortbread, but butterscotch is a favorite flavor in this household, so we're thrilled.

I don't know if I'll post again before Christmas, so I'll wish everyone a Very Merry, full of love and family and cheer, and lots of good food. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweater is done!

Finally!  The baby sweater for my great niece is done!  It took me over two months, but it was time well spent, and it's done in time for Christmas.  Fingers crossed that it won't be too small for her.

The photos were taken before I sewed the buttons on.  I knew the light would be gone before I had them attached, so I improvised for the photo shoot.  Plus, I was trying to decide between two sets of buttons.  I ended up using white flower buttons, rather than these, because they provided a better contrast, and I think my niece will like them better.  I sewed them on with thread that exactly matches the yarn.  Very cute.

My Christmas crafting for others is done.  I have more photos of all those projects to share here, but they will have to wait until the recipients have received their gifts. The next few projects on my to-do list are all for me me me!  That's a fun way to start the new year, I think.

I did make the Springerle cookies yesterday.  I used anise extract as the recipe instructed, which gives them a licorice flavor.  Some people in the house aren't happy about that.  Next time I make them, I will use almond extract. (Shelagh, if you are reading, what does your mom use?)  I think I will package a couple of the cookies up and have my children give them to their German teachers as a little Christmas gift.  Both of my children are studying German for their world language.  I am certain before I even do this that my daughter will dutifully deliver hers to her middle school German teacher, but my son will "forget" to give his to his high school German teacher.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Moment of Silence

Front page of New York Times, 12/16/12

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mid December (the 12-12-12 edition)

This is a hand-carved mold for springerle cookies.  I bought it at an art fair years ago (pre children), and I hung it on my kitchen wall when my kitchen had a more rustic, country style to it.  I always meant to make the cookies, but for some reason never did, and when we redid our kitchen several years ago I put the mold away and forgot about it.  It resurfaced this summer during our basement project, and I felt ashamed for having hidden it away for so long!  Now springerle cookies are on my list of things to try this season.  They seem a little complicated, but I'm up for it!  After that, I am going to find a place to display this mold.

I was vacuuming our living room today in half-light conditions, and as I neared the Christmas tree I heard something bigger than cat hair get sucked into the machine.  I wonder what it was?  I probably won't know until we put the tree away in a few weeks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Birth Sampler

My great niece's birth continues to keep my needles busy!  The latest item for her:

I covered up her name for privacy when I took the photo, which makes the sampler look unbalanced, but her name is stitched in the same color, size, and font as the other two lines of text, and it  looks quite nice when everything is visible.

I "designed" this by typing up her birth information in Word, experimenting with different sizes, fonts, and layouts, and then I used the border from this free embroidery pattern to complete the design.  I am having it professionally framed in a pink frame without matting, so the completed work will be about 7 inches square--a nice size that can be hung on the wall or propped in an easel on a bookcase.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spinach Quiche

Like all good elves this time of year, I am busy busy busy with the making of gifts.  Nothing is finished yet, not even the sweater, because I am working on an embroidery project I need to take in for framing this weekend.

The house is all decorated now.  Every year I say the same thing:  I dread the work, but then when it's all done I am so glad we made the effort.  

Until I have photos of finished creations to share, I thought I'd share my recipe for a crustless quiche.  I adapted a quiche recipe I found on Allrecipes, and make this quite often.  Usually I eat it for breakfast, but last year this quiche was my contribution to the Christmas Eve potluck dinner with my husband's sisters (which is probably why it's on my mind for a post this time of year):

Spinach Quiche (you can also use Kale)

1 bag of fresh spinach (or you could thaw a package of frozen spinach, but I prefer using fresh)
diced onion to your taste preference
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Greek (or regular plain) yogurt
5 eggs
handful of shredded cheddar cheese
handful of crumbled feta cheese

Wash your spinach in a big colander.  With water still clinging to the leaves, put the spinach into a large pot, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until it is wilted (usually 5-6 minutes).   Drain the wilted spinach in the colander and let it cool.  (If using frozen spinach, thaw it and drain it.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the milk and yogurt, then add the eggs and whisk again.  

Spray a pie pan with non-stick spray.  Spread the spinach over the bottom of the pie pan.  Sprinkle the spinach with onions.  Layer on the shredded cheese and crumbled feta.  (I don't give amounts for the onions and cheese because you can use as much or as little as you like, although with cheese, more is often better!)  Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and spinach.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 45 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for 15 minutes more.  Remove quiche from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Cut into 8 pieces.

Whatever we don't eat the first day, I freeze.  The best way to do this is to put all the pieces on a cookie sheet, not touching each other, and pop the sheet in the freezer for an hour.  When the quiche pieces are frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and put them in a freezer bag.  Now you have an instant breakfast or lunch! Just microwave single pieces of quiche for one minute on high to heat them up.