this year’s christmas goodie line-up is…

…pavlova (the Australian/New Zealand favorite shown above), “tropical” mince pies, and two types of shortbread buttercream sandwich cookies. I’m exhausted, my kitchen’s in ruins, but my sweet tooth is sated!

My husband hails from Northern Ireland and for most people far from home, the nostalgia looms large during the holidays. I try my best to recreate the Christmases he’d grown accustomed to, and this year I attempted to tackle the mince pie — a British yuletide staple…but with a twist, of course, as the called-for raisins, dates, and prunes for the mincemeat filling aren’t exactly foods that make my mouth water. I, instead, used sultanas, pineapple, mango, cranberries and substituted macadamias for almonds. The result was rather good, I must say.

And finally, a duo of shortbread sandwich cookies: one filled with lemon buttercream and another a chocolate and mint buttercream combo. I altered Nigella Lawson’s Custard Cream hearts recipe (on the fly!) for both of these. As they actually turned out quite well, I’m upset with myself for not having written down my recipe alterations while I made them and I can’t quite remember the exact proportions. Ah well. Guess I’ll just have to make another batch of both. 🙂

ornament today, afghan tomorrow

I’m in the early stages of my first granny square afghan (my first because I’d never before had the patience for the undertaking!) and wanted to be able to display these delightfully colorful crochet flower motifs right away. It being the holidays, the answer was staring me in the face — deck the tree with them, of course!

I’m sure they’d make a beautiful garland if sewn together at the corners, but I’ve just hung them up as is. The crocheted snowflakes are from this pattern and the mini sweaters are from various free patterns I Googled a while back. Happy Holidays. 🙂

feelin’ “grande”

Whew. It’s been one crazy year. I won’t go into the whys, but simply say I’m breathing a sigh of relief to see it come to a close. The good news is that my time has freed up the last month, allowing me to grind away at holiday gift making. I’m nearly through (hurrah!) so thought that I’d knit myself something as a reward for being ahead of schedule.

I’m currently a fan of ’20s and ’30s fashions, due in no small part to HBO’s terrific new series Boardwalk Empire, so pulled out my knitting books to see what retro-esque patterns I had at my disposal. I decided on the Sideways Grande Hat from Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits. It’s a chic cloche knit side to side on straights embellished with an afterthought twisted cabled. The yarn was donated to me from my sister’s stash and it came with no label, so I don’t even know what it is. Anyway, it was the right color and weight, but I’ll have to do a burn test to figure out what this mystery yarn is comprised of.

Although the book referred to this as an “oversize” hat, it didn’t look quite that big in the photo…but oversized it truly is. Next time I make this lovely pattern, I intend to take it down a notch by using lighter weight yarn and smaller needles — or by simply decreasing the number of stitches. Nevertheless, it was an overall success! Now back to finishing off the rest of my gift list.