Monday, December 31, 2007

Cherish the Moments

On New Year's Eve there is one thing that is inevitable for everyone............ thoughts of the past year and its' high and low points. Over the past few weeks hearing the old news stories and seeing the vivid images of life around the world have been a part of our holiday preparations. So, here we come smack up against a new year stretching before us with a fresh new slate. We make resolutions, we have dreams and for some small measure we can plan and take control of a handful of things that will happen in our life. For the most part however, life is uncertain, sometimes short and often quite the opposite of what we would chose if given the chance. The surprises are those things that can take our breath away and buckle our knees (for the good and the bad).

I'm like every mother in the world, I quite simply adore my kids---- love their little butts to bits! They're all grown up now and out in the world making their own choices, which is a gazillion times harder for a mom if you ask me. When they are still under your care at home you worry like crazy, but they are on a much shorter string. You see them more (usually) and have closer contact. When they are out and about you both worry more and worry less, it's a funny pot of soup for sure. Just because your kids or your loved ones are not sleeping at night under your roof or joining you for meals doesn't mean that you don't cherish them all the more with every heartbeat. It is a pain in the drain not to have control over the life of your children!

My phone rang at 11:30 p.m. Pretty late for most phone calls and it generally means that it's not a very good thing. When I answered I heard the shaken voice of my youngest daughter, she had been robbed at gunpoint. She'd worked late and there was an attempted bank robbery near work. She left for home and her complex is next to the shopping center where she works and where the bank was. I guess you would say in simple terms that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time because she came upon this bank robber outside her apartment door in the exterior hallway. Thank God she was okay and only lost material possessions like her phone, wallet and contents of her purse. She could have so easily lost her life, it would have been over in a flash. I kept thinking that if something horrible would have happened, were there things left unsaid? Undone? Thankfully, that was not the case.

As the world prepares to enter another year and it stretches before us clean and untried, my reminder was to cherish family and friends. Never to take that for granted, not ever----- and to hold them tight in love.

When you reflect upon the year that has passed, count your blessings. As you enter the new year, bring those blessings along and embrace the moments that will come. Hold it all tightly in love.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bringing Lessons

I've decided that I'm exhausted. It didn't take much to arrive at that conclusion either--- total exhaustion. Thursday morning was a bit of break in the weather so I played hooky from the studio (we shall not speak of my do-me list at the moment!) and took down the lights outside. We don't go crazy as I do draw the line at lights around the two story roof line, I enjoy decorating but not that much! Icicle lights around the porch, the bushes along the sidewalk and the wrought iron fence along with a cheery little yard flag along with the seasonal offering of double door swags, the wreath and the Santa. Gone-- Gone-- Gone! It felt pretty good to get it all down and put away. So good in fact that I decided I'd put everything away. I started at 8:45 in the morning and finally finished up about 8 that night. 4 trees in addition to the 'big' one, Santa's and angels, candles and stockings, roping and lights, swags and wreaths------- and I didn't even decorate BIG this year! Ack! But it is all down and tucked away in the basement.

This is what amazes me----- why is it when all of the decorations come down your house is so boogerin' filthy dirty??? I mean, I understand that you might not have been as vigilant about dustbunnies and furniture polishing over the holidays but good grief it is like the house is just nasty!
Scraping off the nasty was the task yesterday. All day. Well the cleaning drudge was broken up by cooking for guests last night. I made a salad and home baked rolls, beef stew and buttered noodles, and dessert was cinnamon dumplings in apple cider syrup with cinnamon ice cream. It was all very good (even with carrots that refused to get done enough) but the appetizer was to die for! Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie! Heaven--- I could have given up dinner and just had that yummy gooey cheese! There is enough leftover to have for lunch if I sneak away and maybe eat it in the bathroom or something.

Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts or pecans
1 tablespoon brandy (I used cognac)
1 (14-ounce) round brie
Apple wedges, for serving
Pear wedges, for serving
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Crackers, for serving

In a small bowl stir together the sugar, nuts, and brandy. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours or up to 1 week.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the brie on an ovenproof platter or pie plate. Bake for 4 or 5 minutes or until the brie is slightly softened. Spread the sugar mixture in an even layer on top of the warm brie and bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the sugar melts. Brush the fruit wedges with lemon juice and arrange them around 1 side of the brie. Place crackers around the other side.

On the other side of putting away Christmas 2007 and a really clean house I have assembled a few Lessons for next Christmas. For me this exercise is sort of like New Years Resolutions, given up quickly or forgotten entirely.

1. Plan earlier
I started planning quite early this year, in October actually. I have decided that this is not enough time. Perhaps the 10 days in November away from home threw me off track a bit, I'm not entirely sure but I will start thinking about things much earlier in 2008. Don't hold me to it!

2. Buy superglue
I had to buy superglue twice this year. Once at the beginning of the season when I found an ornament or two that had a bit of a freak out in the storage box and required some attention. Most notably the little glass olive from the martini ornament on the bar tree! You can't have stuff like that happen you know. Then because the folks who manufacture superglue are incredibly smart and make sure that once you open the bottle it will either spill or evaporate you soon have to buy it again. And you don't know you need to buy it until something is broken and you discover a crusty old tube of glue. So next year I am buying two bottles in early November so I'm ready. This will translate to discovering sometime in December that the entire junk drawer is full of superglue in every possible brand name and formulation sort of like how I've amassed cans of tomato sauce in the pantry. Stuff happens!

3. Remember the silly way the boxes are packed
This is actually the only thing on the list that quite frankly scares me! I packed things a bit differently this year going room by room as well as two big tubs of garland and wreaths. I can tell you right this very minute where everything is and why. By next year I can't swear with any credibility that I will remember. Perhaps copious notes on the outside of the tubs would be of some value but they probably wouldn't make any sense next November either!!!

Putting away the ornaments from the main tree always cause more reflection than putting them on in the first place, I don't know why but that is just the way it works for me. I did enjoy spending a moment or two with those very special ornaments that tug at my heart strings. Last February my ex, who must have had a brief second of being somewhat human, returned to me a small box of keepsake Christmas ornaments. Surely if he knew what they meant to me he would never have sent them. I did offer my thanks and really enjoyed having them on the tree this year!

At the top of the list are of course the ornaments made by the kids over the years. Somehow I don't have any made my my son---- the ones I remember did not show back up here, sadly.

The sweet pasta angel made by my little girl who is now over 30-- please remember that I was a young mom, this makes me feel better!

Don't you love this ornament made from circles cut from old Christmas cards and glued together? The artist is now 22.

And probably my all time favorite is this red Christmas stocking cut from fabric and stitched with yarn. It was the first sewing project and is definitely one of those that only a Mother could love!

I've mentioned before how much I missed my Mom this year and it was wonderful to have some ornaments that she had made. On the tree were the little counted cross stitch ornaments below:

So, I've decided to decorate less next year. There is just no need to go quite so hog wild---- I did pare down this year but clearly after two days of packing up and cleaning it was not enough!

And I will remember to pick up ornaments from all fun places visited. They always make me smile!

Wherever you are in your holiday schedule, I hope that you are warm and happy. If you still have to face the great post Christmas take down, well, I say nanny nanny boo boo. (Sweetly of course!)

NOW------------ back to knitting!!!!! I still have 12" more inches of the cable yoke and then I will be able to place my markers and begin the body of Cable Luxe. One tiny little bit of work today gets in the way, but for the most part there shall be knitting!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Time

The worst thing about Christmas being over is that it all needs to be put away. What took days of dragging and hauling and puttering and plugging, sorting and shining, fluffing and nudging--- well it seems to come down in a matter of hours. Not soon enough mind you, but definitely faster than when it went up. Why is that??

So today, it is time to gingerly begin to get back to it. Not (thank heavens) full time nose to the grindstone but start to do more than sit on my rapidly expanding backside and knit. I do have to mention that I am very, VERY good at butt sitting in my jammies while knitting and sipping tea and the occasionally imported Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha. I ventured out yesterday to pick up a birthday card and some supplies at Target (which happens to be across the street from Starbucks) and I felt like a mole leaving the tunnel!

Yesterday was Miss Thang's birthday---- yes, it is less than fabulous to have a birthday two days after Christmas but I'm sure less than it was back in the day. We ended the day at a fabulous dinner featuring way too much food and everything was completely delicious!

This does bring me to what is on the schedule today. (Heavy sigh for emphasis). Our weather has that little bubble of the end of rain and before it gets snot freezin' cold so the outside lights come down and get packed away. I'll gather all of the decs from upstairs (to include 4 trees) and stage them in the guest room to be completely packed off tomorrow. The hardest thing I'll do today is get back to the gym. Blech and phooey, in addition to wishing I were a trust fund child I do wish that being naturally thin was one of my attributes. It will be a good time to catch up on the last podcasts on my iPod however, besides Stash and Burn's great Holiday Surprise, I am a bit behind.

Fear not however! There WILL be knitting. Not as much as December 26th to be sure-- but there will be working on my new project. Crimson Purl, you were right! It is the Cable Luxe Tunic and so far it has been a lot of fun to work on. The sweater starts by knitting the yoke which when blocked out would be about 5 inches or so of a twining cable. My size requires 52 inches of this panel and I've just turned the corner on inch 34. From there markers are placed and the sweater and sleeves grow downward. I know I'll feel as if I am really making progress when I can see something other than what looks like a very, very long headband!

Naturally, I'm not even done with the yoke and already thinking, when will I get to knit Manon? And how about projects a-f that I'm already lusting after?

Yes, bring on the trust fund please. And someone to put all of this stuff away----

Still can't quite bring myself to take down the Knitting Contrisstmas banner, maybe that will wait until all of the decs are put away or the first of the year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Days are Like That

Oh yeah, that is what I'm talkin' about. Some days are just exactly like that, although quite frankly not nearly enough of them!

  • Feet on the coffee table
  • New doggie flannel jammies
  • Hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows
  • knitting
  • new book
  • check out new leopard trimmed slipper socks

C'mon, is life dipdog great or what???????? Leftovers for dinner, more knitting, and reading and if the truth is completely forthcoming, there will be cocktailin'! I'm feeling something BLUE! :)

After complete (and apparently whining) indecision about what oh What to cast on today for the post holiday days of Christmas Knitting------- time inderminate as of this writing---- the family took a poll. Can you believe it, they told me that they would decide for me what I should knit next as a group, that their wonderfully good taste could be counted on. Because it was early in the day, they like me and were happy with their Christmas gifts---- and the fact that no one was rip snortin' drunked up, I let them. Took the pressure off, y'know?

They looked at photos of all of the options, and there was even thoughtful consideration which cheered me immeasurably. It was decided in a landslide--- can you tell what I'm knitting?

Do not be distracted by the vintage reindeer salt and pepper shakers that must preside over the holiday tablescape each year-------

Whatcha think???? I'll give you a clue, it is the yoke!

And in closing, this was in my inbox this morning, it made me smile HUGE!

I think I'll leave up the Knitting Contrisstmas banner for a few days---- just because. The old one will be back in a bit!

Happy Day after Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day 25: Norah Gaughan

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, --- Merry Christmas! I send wishes for a joyous and wondrous day full of blessings, love and laughter.


The final installment of Knitting Contrisstmas, (before we go back to the more ordinary Knitting Contessa) is an interview with Norah Gaughan. Author of “Knitting Nature”, Norah Gaughan Volume I and the just published Norah Gaughan Volume II as well as many other patterns for knitters that are interesting, unexpected, and extraordinary, Norah is also the driving force behind the Berroco Design Studio and hosts a wonderful blog as well. It would be hard to find a knitter who had not seen something that originally sprung from the creative mind of Norah!

(NG) I blush..... I am so ridiculously just me.

(KC) Never “just you” I don’t think Norah! Thanks so much for spending a bit of Christmas Day with your many fans via the last installment of Knitting Contrisstmas! My first question will be quite easy---- how DO you pronounce your last name? This seems to be quite the fact for argument among knitters!

(NG) Gone - like Vaughan with a "g".

(KC) Just as I thought------ thanks!

(KC) When Norah and I were working on her interview I told her that I’d close Knitting Contrisstmas with her. I might have said something like there was nothing that said HO HO HO like Norah Gaughan! J

(NG) Or as Pogo would sing (think of the Christmas carol line .... now we don our gay apparel ) "Norah's freezing on the trolley, swaller, dollar , cauliflower ala ga roo... or something like that.

(KC) And who said that knitters weren’t funny???? Maybe that is the crux of it, we’re all just a little bit touched?

(KC) People today have a mixed bag of thoughts about this time of year, how do you feel about the holidays?

(NG) I like the Holidays now that I have someone in the house to share them with. I spent many years living and, often, working alone. I fared well, was basically happy even, but the holidays could be rocky and could result in my yelling at my perfectly sweet, and very cool, mother. Having John around is MUCH better for me.

(KC) Without a doubt, having a significant other around is pretty great all the way around. And lucky John to have you to share the holidays as well!

(KC) What has been your greatest gift in 2007? I know, that is a hard question that tends to make you run a bit sappy, sorry about that!

(NG) This is where is seems imperative to put a sentimental phrase about family or love, but I've just done that. Maybe my greatest gift this year was keeping sane (and having so many loving friends). See I just couldn't help it.

(KC) Are you a holiday gift knitter?

(NG) Some years I am.

(KC) This year? Like----- what are you gifting and who in the world are the lucky recipients?

(NG) This year I am "gifting" many of the original items from "Knitting Nature". They are very precious to me, but I don't want them molding in a box in the basement. I want my friends and family to enjoy them. No more hoarding.

(KC) You DO have my address----- right? :)

(KC) As a very prolific knitter do you have any tips for maximizing knitting time during the holidays?

(NG) Don't do housework :) Of course, that's pretty much my year-round strategy.

(KC) Amen. Although I talk a good talk, when the house gets too nasty I really lose all creativity.

(KC) What things do you do just for yourself in this crazy busy time of

the year?

(NG) I watch a lot of TV and Netflix movies while I am knitting - oh and chocolate, chocolate is important.

(KC) Mmmmmmmmmm, knit one, purl two, chocolate three. Got it.

(KC) Anything special on your needles that you're knitting just for yourself?

(NG) Anything not for a gift is for work. It's pleasant work though.

(KC) Time for my favorite question, and I’ll kind of be sad not to hear the answers for awhile! If you were to consider a very special knitting friend what might the perfect gift be this year? If cost were no object, what would you choose? How about if you were budget minded?

(NG) Hmm, I'm not good at thinking of things with no limits. I like parameters, but I'll give it a shot. I would like my best knitting friends to all have full sets of some lovely wooden needles and a full sweater's worth of 100% cashmere in a dk weight in black or prune with an i-pod touch thrown in for good measure. On a more realistic budget I would give those lovely hand hammered silver stitch markers on a silver pin (sorry, I don't know who makes them) or a coat's worth of Ultra Alpaca (yum). On a small budget I would give a hat kit with pattern, yarn and needles.

(KC) Wonderful---- and again, you have my address, right??? Hmmmm?

(KC) Santa might have time for a last minute delivery---- can I talk him into bringing you anything special?

(NG) I just don't know, but I do love boots (size 6, large calf).

(KC) You have knitters from all over the world who consider themselves fans of yours, do you have any holiday greetings you'd like me to pass along for you?

(NG) I would like to thank every one who likes what I do and wish that their hand knit gifts are well received and that they have time to relax and indulge in a project for themselves (one of those projects where you really learn something new) some time soon.

(KC) I echo that sentiment Norah! We’ll hope that around the Internet and on Ravelry we are blessed to see many great projects that will be cast on after the holidays wrap up.

(KC) After the last bit of the holidays have been celebrated, as you are relaxing with great tv or movies----- what will you be doing?

(NG) Designing for Fall 08-09!

(KC) And of course we can’t wait. Speaking of great Norah Gaughan designs, can I ask you how you came up with the creative names for your patterns?

(NG) Patterns from Knitting nature were named for their inspirations, of course. At Berroco, we had a tradition of naming items with woman's names. As you can imagine it's getting difficult to think of new names so Margery and I search on the internet. For Norah Gaughan Vol. 1, I used Finnish baby names for one story and French baby names for the other. Some items in NG vol. 2 (just now being shipped to stores) are named after actions needed to make them - like flow, loop, ruffle & pleat. Some of these words are nouns too, and so have a bit of a double meaning.

(KC) Ah! Thanks! And I have to tell you that I can’t wait to see Norah Gaughan Volume 2! (Note to Rachel at my LYS, hold a copy for me and let me know when it comes in, okay?)

(KC) As I’ve told knitters over the past weeks that Norah Gaughan is going to be part of the holiday blog this year, the comment I get each and every time is "THE Norah Gaughan????" That has to make you smile! So, what is the secret behind becoming THE Norah Gaughan? How did it happen that you are the quintessential knitter?

(NG) Geez, I do so like being THE Norah Gaughan, but the quintessential knitter part is going over the top! I can't stand the thought of not getting better at what I do. So I keep trying to get better - if there's a secret, that's it. (It helped to have the quintessential big brother who told me I'd never be as smart as he is. Thank you, Brian! XXX)

(KC) In my mind that is the mark of a really great knitter, the desire to keep getting better. Very well put.

(KC) I’ve heard a lot of knitters love the star from the Berroco website and your blog. Rachel asks if there is a trick to making it sit up on the top of the tree??

(NG) About the star - we manipulated our artificial tree to hold the star. I was thinking of under-stuffing the center, and pushing the last point it into the center forming an indentation. I think I'd want to stuff it fully after Christmas though.

(KC) You’re right it would look great around the house……. Very sculptural.

(KC) Thanks so much Norah----- I sure do hope you get those boots!

I have enjoyed so much bringing you Knitting Contrisstmas this year! It’s been a pleasure. I hope you stay around to see what else might happen, it would be a pleasure and an honor to see you back.

Many Holiday Blessings, and wishes for a healthy, happy, knitterly 2008!

Hana and Prince (above) are singing a last Christmas Carol for you----- you can tell, they really enjoy it!

Day 24: Christmas Eve Musings

Can I insert a bit of an edit right off the bat???? Somehow, inadvertently I used a cache copy of the interview with the wonderful Carrie Barraco from Socks and the City---- for which I apologize. It’s been corrected on the post from that day but I’d like to give you the correct copy here----- I’m so sorry Carrie!!!!

(KC) Not only are you an early shopper but also a gift knitter! Wow! What are you gifting?

(CB) Every year I do something for everyone, but really only the closest family and friends get projects, and they are small. I suppose I would do a big project if someone really wanted it, but really the holiday knitting is for me more than it is for them, so, small projects that feel good to me fit the bill. I also try to make them useful and they are truly appreciated. Just last month, my Dad brought out his Fuzzy Feet from last year to show my grandmother. My brother wore a hole in his Fuzzy Feet by March, so he got a pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs for his birthday in April. This years projects vary a bit. DH is getting the Felted Clogs, my best friend a crocheted shawl from Teva Durham (totally insane project--and a challenge, but a relatively quick challenge--more a mental crunch than a time crunch. I've already given my daughter her chunky (Colinette Point Five) hat and mittens, and a toque to her boyfriend. My brother's girlfriend is getting a Caloriemetry, and the big obsession has been felted mittens. I used the Charitable Crafters pattern for chunky weight (it's written for lopi, but I used a bunch of different yarns), and my Mom is getting a pair with Disco fun fur cuff, my Dad a simple stripe (ran out of the original yarn), and my brother is getting a flip-top adaptation (also with supplementary stripes).


I have had a wonderful time bringing some notable knitters to the blog! I hope you’ll indulge me a bit as I wax on about many of the same things we’ve talked about during the 25 days of Knitting Contrisstmas.

One of the things I miss more than anything is Christmas with my Mom. She loved the holidays and I can see her little ceramic tree that always sat on the coffee table. It was one of those made in the 1960’s trees that lit up and played Silent Night. That girl could decorate I’m telling you, our house always did the straight up Christmas thing. From the time I was a very little girl to her last Christmas 7 years ago there was always a present (under the tree or in the box shipped to me) with an angel on it. It was the same angel actually; I always returned it to her. Little miss angel was sort of beat up looking towards the end, but that extended the magic. The angel was one of those with the body made of tissue paper honeycomb; you opened up the belly and used a clip to keep it open. 3 D, very fancy. Over the years, the little white clip was lost and I think the last 10 years or so it was replaced by a big old paper clip. The angel package always contained THE GIFT. Needless to say I opened it last. It was always something I wanted desperately, my Mom was the greatestwith those Mom Super Powers that knew just the perfect thing that would make a Christmas magical, and I miss her with all my soul. Like everyone in America who read “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom or who saw the movie I had to ask myself who in the world I’d want to spend one more day with, and what I’d do or say. Without question that person would be my Mom, there were so many things I’d like to take back, things I’d like to add, and things I know I could do so much better. But isn’t that how life goes? We don’t do all the things we should do when loved ones are alive---- and when they are gone and we can’t re-write history we wish we had done things differently. I would love to see the stats on how many people around the world would choose to spend another day with their mother, I bet that number is staggering.

I love the holidays although I have to say that now that the kids are all grown and on their own it has morphed a bit. I think it is more pure…. And that’s probably not the right word. Perhaps when you are a tad less busy with all of the inherent holiday details you can focus more on the spirit of the season. On people. On LOVE, because as I say all the time it is all about the love. I do miss the wild years………….. don’t get me wrong! Some of my very favorite Christmases past are those where I was so tired by the end of Christmas Day I could hardly swallow!

As all of my Blitters know, I am a holiday gift creator. This year my gifts are 100% hand knitted although in the past (and perhaps in the future) there might be a hand quilted gift, or something craftily created. For me, if I don’t have time to handcraft at least one gift the season is not complete. My first Christmas as a newlywed 35 years ago I made a counted cross stitch pillow for my Mom, it was 18 count Aida and a floral design of some sort. It was quite pretty and she kept it forever. I also made among those years a shawl for my (then) husband’s Mom---- it was made out of a length of a purchased knit and textured fabric and the edges were turned under twice and stitched by machine to secure them. It was, looking back, a pretty skanky gift. Made from the heart absolutely---- which is after all, the only thing that matters but perhaps, just perhaps it had something to do with why the marriage didn’t work? Nope, I don’t think so either!

This year was a hat-a-thon for sure and like most giftors, I can’t wait to hear how the giftees like them! Especially my son who is here after all and I will have the supreme pleasure of watching him open his hat (Swell from Knitty, the mirror image hat knit for my oldest grandson who is 10 this year). Daughter number one was gifted with a knitted ‘furry’ shrug, the ribbon cloche and vintage pin and scarf, all of the grandboys received a knitted hat, my youngest daughter and her boyfriend received hats as well. If you think for a moment that my daughter received the wee teenies from the handknit category, her choice this year was cash, cash, cash. Then there was the wonderful pillow with the re-purposed knitted envelope style flap for my birth mom. I think I got so much done by settling on small easily accomplished projects, starting at the end of October, and carrying my knitting with me everywhere---knitting in every available moment. (But of course I do that anyway!)

I’ve asked everyone else how they celebrate the holidays so it’s only fair to comment about mine. Really, the celebration has already been taking place! I firmly believe that to fully enjoy this season of love we have to be the love and spread the love. It is a celebration every time I go out, even something as daily as the grocery store. When we smile, and chat and generally be a good egg, we spread the holiday spirit and joy. Heck, in those terms we can celebrate 7/24/365. More close range, my partner’s Mom will arrive early on this afternoon of Christmas Eve and we’ll all gather with my Son and have a few delightful holiday cocktails and a baked brie and crackers while we putter in the kitchen a little. We’ll pop a turkey in the oven and when it comes out around 6 ish we might eat it……. Or we might save it for Christmas Day. Decidedly laid back, sort of a change up from the days of standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding! I decided to cook early because my son is heading back to La Guardia at 5 on the 25th so I didn’t want to waste my time with him being in the kitchen. We’ll take the turkey out of the oven and pick at it, or not---- and get dressed for church services. Arriving home late on Christmas Eve will put us all in the mood for eggnog and being together as a family before we head off to bed. Christmas Day will have us up drinking coffee, having juice and Christmas Eve Casserole and Orange Biscuits after we open gifts. The gift opening is pretty low key---- definitely not like it was when there are smaller children in the house. But the stockings will be hung and full and lots and lots of fun. Then about 1:00 my partner’s niece and her boyfriend, and one of the nephews will come by and we’ll have turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and dumplings. The dumplings are from the Mom in the house, created in her family tradition and delicious. She makes the ‘slimy’ kind not the fluffy kind and they are just wonderful. And the rest of the day we will play games, laugh and just love to be together. I am fully expecting and anticipating a wee nap when I get home from the airport tomorrow afternoon as well!

I have asked all of the great knitters featured during Knitting Contrisstmas what they do that is special, just for themselves during this busy time of the year. Almost everyone does a little something to keep up their energy and spirits and I’m no exception. As a Reiki Master, I try to give sessions because they are relaxing and restorative to me as well. I’m also a big fan of the mani-pedi, somehow when you get into the thick of the season it is so appreciated! Really, I think just sitting down to knit is about the best thing I (and probably all of us) can do for myself. It’s always good!

As far as anything special on my needles that is just for me------ I just finished that gorgeous Byzanz scarf, and the yummy Malabrigo hat that I’m sure we’ll fight over here at Casa KC. I am fighting with myself over what I want to cast on to do my jammie knitting starting the evening of the 25th. I’ve yet to decide completely although I do have the yarn ready to go and it is down being between 3 patterns, all sweaters. Two a little more complex and the third a lovely stretch of simplicity.

My favorite question asked of those interviewed this month was what would be gifted with an open budget and if there was a more cost conscious gift to be given. And it is a hard question to answer because there are so many fabulous knitting related items out there! More than likely I’d give an Amy Butler bag filled with a sweaters’ worth of cashmere yarn. A few Lantern Moon needles, and some great accessories I made myself like the tape measure, etc. On a budget this year I gave knitty friends wreaths, and tucked in a pattern or a fun pair of needles or knitcessory and they were very well received. You know, the truth is that any gift assembled with thought and care is a winner!

When the holidays are over, for me ‘over’ is a relative term, what will I be doing? Easy. Leopard. Pajamas. I will cast on for whatever I have decided I will be knitting during the next week where I will laze about like a professional sloth doing whatever in the world I want to do and nothing I don’t. Under my lovely Christmas tree are knitting magazines I have not touched yet (even to crack the covers), two Nigella Lawson books and the new bio of Sandra Lee. I will read, I will nap, I will knit, I will relax. Doesn’t it sound lovely? And of course there is always some online shopping if I just can't quite venture out---- can you say The Loopy Ewe?????

I do not have a really favorite designer, I appreciate them all. However I do favor Norah Gaughan and her innovative and fresh designs and Norah herself will wrap up Knitting Contrisstmas with a huge bang tomorrow the 25th. I love Cat Bordhi’s socks for their wildly creative approach--- not to mention the fact that she is such a great teacher. And to all of the designers out on Ravelry???? You guys rock, every one of you!

I’m a woman who loves to knit----- who has known for quite a long time that the act and art of knitting is that which serves to calm, inspire, energize, transport and serve. This art is one that we share with others--- isn’t that what it is all about? My son told me that he was amazed to see so many women knitting on the subway going into Manhattan every morning! He was shocked that not only were there a lot of knitters but that they were such young women. I of course tried not to read in (you know Mom, old like you!!!) and smile and say---- oh yes sir! We knitters are legion and we are everywhere!

Isn’t it great?

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve doing whatever it is that your family does to enjoy the season. Don’t miss Norah Gaughan tomorrow!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 23: Christmas Eve Casserole

Another recipe is just imperative----- truly. I would have to say that it is one of my longest running holiday traditions and something I make every Christmas Eve for Christmas morning brunch. Fabulous. And delicious! Don’t ask me why but I never make it any other time, which is pretty weird, but perhaps it just solidifies it as WHAT you eat on Christmas Day!

The first time I made this my youngest daughter was enjoying her first Christmas. She as the 'end of the road' child was super special on so many counts. First of all perhaps because she grew in my heart and not my body, she joined our family from Korea as this perfect, tiny, always squalling little person with a head full of thick black hair that stuck up all over her head like Don King. Every one of my noble attempts to slick her hair down, or put it in tiny barrettes fell short of the mark and her hair just did its’ own thing. She had (and has) the attitude to match so it was all good! I’d gone to one of the pricier grocery store in town, at that time in life it wasn’t the store that I did the majority of the family food shopping at but surely did enjoy popping in for specialty items and just to look at all of the goodies. They had, as many of the higher end stores still do, a tv show kitchen and a staff of home economists who created all manner of culinary delights. Christmas Eve casserole was such a dish but one they made for purchase and didn't necessarily give you the recipe for. This was a 'begged for' recipe. I remember making it that first Christmas Eve with my precious baby sleeping like an angel and knowing that the night would be a short one as the older siblings would have the house awake at o’dark’thirty to check and see what Santa brought them. Getting up the next morning I preheated the oven while coffee was brewing and I could slip away and put the casserole in the oven and know that when the gifts had been opened, brunch was ready. The kids have all asked for the recipe and make it for themselves on Christmas Day if they are not home for the holidays. Bless their hearts they always say it never tastes as good as when the family enjoyed it together. I agree with all my heart! We won't have full crew on board this Christmas Day but somehow it will taste great knowing that this delight will be enjoyed in two households on the U.S. mainland, each sending hugs over the miles and toasting each other with love and laughter.

Christmas Eve Casserole aka Jenny’s Eggs

  • 6 cups (generally one large bag) frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups milk
  • 16 ounces bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 10 eggs, well beaten with the milk
  • 2 packages of broccoli florets cooked and drained
  • 1 package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use Baby Bellas)
  • 2 packages of Knorr (or good quality) hollandaise sauce mix
  • 3 teaspoons of lemon juice

In a greased or sprayed 13x9 pan layer the potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, bacon and cheese. Pour over the milk/egg mixture.

Bake, covered with foil for ½ hour in a 350 degree preheated oven

Uncover and bake for another 30-40 minutes

In the last ten minutes of cooking, prepare the packaged hollandaise sauce adding the lemon juice

Cut into squares and serve with the hollandaise sauce.

You can make this the night before, or the day of--- just adjust the cooking time a bit upward if preparing from a refrigerated cold state.

I’m telling you, this is just amazingly wonderfully ho ho ho good.

Of course, we serve this with Orange Biscuits and a variety of juices.


A GREAT Saturday before Christmas was enjoyed at my house yesterday! My son and I sat and watched a movie (his choice) while I knitted a bit on my hat. It’s over halfway done and I think I must have had a brain freeze because somehow I had to get more yarn. The beauty of that plan was that a run into my LYS, Knitorious was in order. Thanks Rachel for reminding me about the big sale after Christmas. Not that I needed the reminder you know!

We all went out for the yarn expedition and did a bit of afternoon bummin’. Lunch was enjoyed at Fitz’s, St. Louis’ extraordinary stop for burgers and root beer right across from Blueberry Hill. My son bought his girlfriend a fabulous piece of jewelry (a necklace if you must know) from a gallery in the Loop. It was by a local artist and really and truly great, she will love it! I don't think Miss Thang reads the blog (yet, she's a somewhat new girlfriend) but just in case I won't give you a photo or more details. Then it was time to stop by Starbucks for my beloved Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha. A last minute stop just before getting home took us to Gringo Jones and The Bug Store, local favorites for eclectic and really fun merchandise.

It’s Christmas Eve Eve Blitters! Finish up your loose ends (and maybe pick up the makings for Orange Biscuits and Christmas Eve Casserole while your out buying the necessities) so you are ready to relax and enjoy.

After all, the day will come whether you are ready or not so you might as well get ready to sink into the spirit of the season and smile.


Oh----- the Gingerbread Martini? Seriously good. Getting back into the fitness groove is just going to deeply and profoundly suck.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day 22: Stockings and Yet More Martini’s

It is December 22 but my guess is that you don't need me to tell you that!!

The downhill stretch is on us and I’m amused by knitting and crafting blogs everywhere that detail the frenetic activity of the season! Schedules made, schedules abandoned--- and some that have no schedules at all. I think I like those best! I am enjoying so much reading about fellow knitters who are knitting away madly at school concerts, in the car, on the bus---- and generally full of the season. It’s great and I send you all my best with fingers crossed for easy schedules and a weekend to finish projects for loved ones. Are you done? Will you be?

What to do when you forgot someone? Or need a filler? How about a stocking stuffer???? It quite frankly happens and laying in an emergency goodie or too is a spectacularly great idea. Personally, I think stocking gifts are the very best and I have more fun with them than anything. My Mom was the Queen of stockings! From her I learned not only that the stocking itself needed to look great and reflect the owner but that filling it was an art form. Mine always had certain things you could count on, those chocolate covered cherries that were filled with the sugary glop that ran out if you bit them, Andes mints, and always things that were so fun! Usually a magazine to read in pj’s when all of the Christmas mess had been cleared away, and silly things that made me laugh (then and now). Some of the things I’ve picked up for the 3 stockings I have to stuff this year range from handwarmers to hair scrunchies, disposable razors to gum and my favorite--- a pez dispenser for dogs. Seriously, how great is that???? I am insanely in love with last minute stocking stuffer shopping at Walgreens! It is the coolest place in the world to assemble an awesome collection of wonderful crap! Every year since my Mom has been gone I always buy myself that box of Cello chocolate covered cherries and eat like 5 of them in the car on the way home. Mom smiles every single time.

In case you’re in a jam----- or need a good backup (it happens)----- how about a little chart that can fit into a purse or notebook that a knitter can list what needles are owned???? I think I own five of them and they’re in different knitting bags and notebooks—but they have saved me more than once!

Print it out, laminate it maybe if you’re hard core. My favorite idea is to give it with a little certificate for what needles do you really need…………… my treat card. I gave a card like this to my niece last year and she wanted to know if a set of Denise’s counted. That’s my girl! (And no, they didn’t!) She chose a pair of lovely Lantern Moon needles, I believe they were rosewood. If nothing else I did teach my child about the quality things!

Some of my very favorite gifts are wonderful gift cards that offer things like breakfast, giving the dog a bath….. you know what I mean. I would personally love a card from my significant that said----- “you can sit and knit whenever you want and ignore anything in the whole wide world that is just pissing the boogers out of you by presenting this card. Really.” But you know what? That pretty much is my life, can I get an amen?


It was a lovely day yesterday! What a treat to spend the day with my son just hanging out and talking. And laughing. And eating! We even made dinner together which was pretty great. (Coconut chicken, cauliflower gratin and a nice salad). You have to admit that it is nice during the holidays not to have to actually MAKE dessert with all of the sweet options hanging around the house! Bless that childs' heart, a young man shouldn’t have to hang out with his mother on a Friday night so he went out with some friends leaving me to knit. (Candy Cane Cocktail knitting!) On the subject of those minty cocktails, they are addictively good little suckers. I wouldn’t be partial to drinking a peppermint martini any other time of the year but baby--- you mix equal parts of vanilla rum, Godiva white chocolate and peppermint schnapps, rim that glass with some crushed mints and you have yourself a little Merry right in your glass! Cocktailin’ aside, the scarf from Artful Yarns ‘Broadway’ was finished and I absolutely love it. One of those yarns with enough mohair to be really interesting and the colors and segues were fabulous. The best part was the metallic flecks, not a gold or silver but the coolest sort of marbelly metallic glint. I absolutely love this! And mine. Ho Ho HO!

I had to seriously crop this photo. We’ve discussed before that I hate my neck worse than just about anything and if I won the lottery big or small I’d make a plastic surgeon my new best friend. Which makes me doubly love this scarf---- it hides a multitude of sins (i.e. my neck) and is cute to boot! I think I might have to knit one in every color in the rainbow. Hey---- you can wear cotton neck hiders (er, scarves) in the summer, right? Just in case that windfall doesn’t come anytime soon that is!

News from my oldest daughter------ a Wii will be under her tree for the grandboys! She's feeling smug and exhausted! Those toy people do such an excellent job of whipping the public up into a froth about one thing or another every year. The search for the Wii was even on The Today Show today, sheesh.

I’ve just cast on for yet another hat. I know, the hat a thon around here has just come to an end but I did need one for ME, so I happily cast on for another “unoriginal hat” in Malabrigo Aquarella, the colorway ‘tranqueras’. I'll get my very own hat done by Christmas (I hope) so that I'll be able to do---- well, something wonderful.

What makes me happiest? I think it is probably my first holiday season in recorded history (and perhaps beyond) where it is 3 days before Christmas and I’m done. And relaxing. Enjoying the season. It is a heckuva concept and I think I’ll have to try and replicate the feat in years to come. For now I’m practicing the days after Christmas when it’s jammie time.

Know what? I’m going to be really, REALLY good at it!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 21: Socks in the City

Day 21, it is hard to believe how fast the season is flying! I hope this Friday finds you full of joy and peace. "Virtuous" hit the nail right on the head in the last comment--- it is about celebrating the love, especially during this season that IS after all about love. Yes ma'am. Northland Community Church in Orlando Florida is still the place I call my home church although I have not lived there in quite a few years. I do receive their daily evotional and this week the focus has been on increasing your capacity for joy this season. I have to tell you, that really resonates with me. How to increase your CAPACITY for joy. That is such a rich thought, and there are so many ways that we can accomplish that, each in our own individual way.

On to the interview today...... which of course brings me joy! From the popular podcast “Socks in the City” (I just love that name, it makes me laugh everytime!) comes Carrie Barraco! This popular podcast hosts show notes, and Carrie also has an etsy shop. As a working woman, a wife, a mother and an avid knitter, I know you will enjoy getting to know her a bit better!


(KC) Carrie, talk to me about the holiday season. With small children in the house I know it is busy and lots of fun!

(CB) Overall I really like the holiday season. We celebrate a lot of them—usually it begins with my birthday on Dec 18, and then my immediate family celebrates the Winter Solstice—usually that's on the 21st, Christmas Eve with my father's side, Christmas Day with my mother's side and then we see my in-laws around New Year's. We live far away from our family and loved ones, but this is an opportunity to see everyone. It's fun now to show off Roman and how big he's getting, plus he's so social that he makes everyone happy. It also helps that I am an early gift shopper—not an all-year-round shopper, but finished by Thanksgiving.

(KC) I know that there are a lot of Blitters out there that still have a lot left on their lists so you can do the happy dance about being DONE! And by Thanksgiving? Good on ya!

(CB) If you had to choose just one wonderful gift that you received in the past year, what would you tell us?

(CB) My greatest gift of 2007? Well, there are really so many! This is the year I started the Socks in the City podcast, and that's been so wonderful to connect with all these sock knitters all over the world! Sometimes it's hard to keep up, but I'm planning on sticking to it. I also get so much from the kids I work with (I do Child-Centered Play Therapy with Elementary-aged children), and every session (well, nearly every one!) really is a gift. Plus, Roman is happy and healthy and social, DH got a new job that gives him more days off to be with us, Dad's helping us fix up the house...I could really go on and on...

(KC) I bet you are a holiday gift knitter, are you?

(CB) I am totally a holiday knitter!

(KC) Not only are you an early shopper but also a gift knitter! Wow! What are you gifting?

(CB) Every year I do something for everyone, but really only the closest family and friends get projects, and they are small. I suppose I would do a big project if someone really wanted it, but really the holiday knitting is for me more than it is for them, so, small projects that feel good to me fit the bill. I also try to make them useful and they are truly appreciated. Just last month, my Dad brought out his Fuzzy Feet from last year to show my grandmother. My brother wore a hole in his Fuzzy Feet by March, so he got a pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs for his birthday in April. This years projects vary a bit. DH is getting the Felted Clogs, my best friend a crocheted shawl from Teva Durham (totally insane project--and a challenge, but a relatively quick challenge--more a mental crunch than a time crunch. I've already given my daughter her chunky (Colinette Point Five) hat and mittens, and a toque to her boyfriend. My brother's girlfriend is getting a Caloriemetry, and the big obsession has been felted mittens. I used the Charitable Crafters pattern for chunky weight (it's written for lopi, but I used a bunch of different yarns), and my Mom is getting a pair with Disco fun fur cuff, my Dad a simple stripe (ran out of the original yarn), and my brother is getting a flip-top adaptation (also with supplementary stripes).

(KC) That is quite the extensive list!!! I think I’ll just slink off to my corner with my parade of hats!

(KC) It’s crunch time----- what ideas or tips do you have for knitters and crocheters who need a bit of help in the time management department??

(CB) My best tip for holiday knitting is to keep it small and bulky. Brian's hat will be in (stashed) Colinette Point Five, and all those mittens were written for Lopi. Sweaters are out of the question (at least without a lot of notice...), and socks are of course my love, but I only like knitting them for me... I hate to give them up! I use every available second. Waiting in line at the post office, red lights (don't tell anyone), DH drives everywhere so I can knit. I knit between clients, and on my breaks. I knit in the evenings and weekends. Basically, any time I can eek out is fair game. I might also recommend making a chart of what you need to do, and mini-deadlines along the way. That's how I got through grad school.

(KC) I do love an organized knitter! The knitting at red lights kind of scares me though! Ha!

(KC) Everyone knows that a favorite question for me to ask this season has been what your pick would be for a favorite knitter! Something splurgey and something with a smaller budget.

(CB) Ooooh! A very special knitting gift for a dear friend... It sort of depends on what kind of knitter they are. My first instinct is the Knit Picks Harmonies full set—and if cost is no object, then all the other sizes to round out the collection. Those are sooo pretty! I wouldn't think of one for myself, but for the right recipient, a Jordana Paige knitting bag. On a smaller budget, I would probably make a little sock knitting bag, tuck in a set of Knit Picks DPNs and dye up some sock yarn. Even if you bought everything new and did it up nicely, $5 for high-quality quilter's cotton fat quarters, $5 for needles, and under $10 for sock yarn blanks. And you could do it for less, too.

(KC) Fabulous ideas! I especially love the idea of the ‘smaller budget’ gift that you make yourself. That would be really great!

(KC) You know I can bend Santa’s ear for you…………… what would you like me to casually mention you’re looking for on Christmas Day?

(CB) Since you're such a close, personal friend of Santa, I might ask for, uh, the Harmonies set. Or maybe the DPN set. Or some hard-to-get indie sock yarn....Wollmeise! Oh, wait, I know! A ticket to Sea Socks '08. Yes, that's it ;)

(KC) All of those would be pretty great to receive, wouldn’t they? A trip to Sea Socks ’08? Yes indeedy!!!!!

(KC) Carrie, you have a lot of listeners to “Socks in the City”, many fans from all over the world---- that is pretty cool, yes? You have a nice ranking on the iTunes listing!

(CB) Thank you so much for your kind words and it is a little stunning to me to think of having “fans!” It makes me think of back in grad school—5 years ago I was finishing and one of the exercises I lead in Career Counseling was to visualize yourself in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, etc. to elicit a vision for one's future. I'm not sure which “year” it was at, but I want to be on Oprah—sometimes it feels like that!

(KC) What gave you the push to start “Socks in the City”?

(CB) What made me start? DH had bought a podcasting kit to start his own—it had a mike, a mixer, software, etc. Since he already had the stuff and knew how to use it, and I was listening to every podcast I could, and I was really getting into socks (thanks, L&V!!), and mentioned it a few times. I had the concept to focus on sock knitting, since it's a niche that no one was doing in a dedicated way, but as we know lots of knitters are passionate about their socks. We settled on a name, and bought service from Libsyn, I thought up a few shows and the rest is history. It can be hard to keep up momentum and a flow from show to show. I try to take it easy, and keep it casual and fun. If I polished it up and made it all pretty and fancy, I wouldn't get to do it, or at least far less often. Really, all people's comments and emails keep me motivated, and I really like to reply to everyone, but Blogger doesn't let me know how to find you , so that stinks.

(KC) I agree! I do wish that Blogger had better commenting!

(CB) And, I don't think I would keep up with it if it weren't for people listening. I really don't trust Libsyn's stats, but as of today there have been over 50,000 downloads! It averages around 2500-3000 per show by the time it's been up awhile. That's insane! We are a bunch of obsessed people, don't you think? All this, and the show is always a good excuse, I mean, reason to buy sock yarn.

(KC) A lot of fans, I told you! Yes, we are obsessed people, and not just sock knitters—although I do think they march to their own drummer! I think today’s knitter are super obsessed! We know what we like, we know how to find just the perfect thing and we know how that thing should be priced!

(KC) You know I have to ask, and I’m sure that everyone wants to know, are you exclusively a sock knitter?

(CB) I do knit things other than socks! I probably knit sweaters most often (I just got the Fleece Artist Garter Stitch Jacket kit—I HAD TO HAVE IT after the Yarn Harlot blogged about it), but also hats. I also did a bunch of dishcloths when Mason-Dixon Knitting came out, several scarves and toys. I really like a very quick project for that easy satisfaction. What was it that I just did? Now I can't even was that quick.

(KC) I’m laughing, you know we can all appreciate forgetting! AND that wonderful thing that happens when we read about a great project on a blog or hear about it on a podcast. The “that knitter has it and I want it now” thing!

(KC) One of my favorite things about your podcast is that you do such a great job of critiquing sock yarn, and different patterns, designers and projects. Do you have any one that is a favorite? I know that is a terribly unfair question!

(CB) Choosing a favorite yarn or designer is of course impossible. As far as yarns, I really love the ones that have unique “stamp” on them—where you KNOW who dyed it. Rachel at Dyeabolical is like this, the Wollmeise, Pigeon Roof Studios, Sundara, Twisted Fiber Arts, Brooke at White Willow. As I write this, I really CAN'T choose a favorite, but these are certainly ones I admire. I could add another hundred; I really could. Pattern designers-- I love Norah Gaughan and wish she'd do some socks. Cat Bordhi without question, and Cookie A.

(KC) Great list! And y’know………….. Norah is wrapping up Knitting Contrisstmas!!!!!! J

(KC) Are you a knitter who cooks? Any fave recipes that are so standout that you would like to pass them along?

(CB) I have two recipes to share—one is just a tip that my Mom's famous apple pie is actually straight from the checked Betty Crocker cookbook.

(CB) The second is my memory of a beloved cranberry sauce. Put equal parts fresh cranberries and sugar together in a pan and cook down until it's a nice consistency. You could also add some cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or whatever you like. Before serving, stir in brandy. It originally came from Emeril, but I can't find it anymore.

(KC) Now I’m hungry!

(KC) I’d love to pass along any special greetings to your fans old and new Carrie, do you have any?

(CB) I think if I were to send out holiday greetings to everyone it would be in the form of a traditional Irish blessing:

May the stash rise to meet you,
May the sweater be always at your back,
May the wool feel warm upon your feet,
The rains fall soft upon your sheep and,
Until we meet again,
May the Knitting Gods hold you in the palms of Their hands.

(CB) At least, I think it went like that.... ;)

(KC) When everything has been opened, your friends and family are nicely tucked into their knitted finery and the holidays are over— what’s up for Carrie?

(CB) When the holidays are over, what will I be doing? Sitting on the couch knitting of course!

(KC) Get Knittin’ girl! And thanks a lot for a great interview. I look forward to many more episodes of “Socks in the City”!


My partner arrived yesterday afternoon just before we walked out the door to collect my son---- with a cup of peppermint mocha espresso from Park Avenue Coffee AND a pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. Divine. Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis EVENT----- and heck, no calories there. It is completely fabulous. I can feel my butt getting larger just thinking about it---- ack! The very best news of all is that they mail order these incredible babies all over the world! If Oprah is allowed to have Favorite Things, lambchop this is one of mine! Dale and his crew have them in 64 flavors-----SIXTY FOUR FLAVORS of Gooey Butter Cake------wow. Pop right over there and have Dale send you one too, you'll thank me-- really you will. Tell Dale that I said you simply had to!

From Wikipedia (how did we live without Wikipedia anyway?) comes their definition of GBC, "Gooey Butter Cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the U.S. city of St. Louis, MO, with a bottom layer of a buttery yellow cake and a top layer of either egg, and cream, or butter and sugar. It is generally served as a type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake."

Actually, GBC is an anytime cake and it makes a fine dessert cake! I have to leave you with a recipe, it is that good and dammit I have to get fat alone!!!! This recipe for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (which can’t possibly be as good as mine from Park Avenue Coffee but there you have it) makes you just want to go make it. So do. Please. Or order one from Dale at Park Avenue, just get to one!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

*Recipe from Paula Deen (who does seem quite adept with butter!)

Off the topic of food, at least momentarily---- and definitely about love--- my son is home and it is great to have him here! The dogs adore having someone elses' lap to sit on! He did bring bagels from NYC and I'm off to make coffee and enjoy one!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Day 20: Holiday Love Challenge

For all of the many things that the holidays are (and they are many because we are all different and bring our own customs and traditions) what it is is love. Love that is spiritual, love that is familial, love that is marital, love that just IS.

Today I’m celebrating the LOVE and I invite you to join me. A challenge of sorts! I’m taking out an hour of my day (give or take)---- time my friends, time--- and I’m calling three people I have loved and lost. For me it is lost touch with. A friend that I went to college with and have not spoken to in years and years, my Mom’s best friend in Florida (I haven’t talked to her since my Mom’s funeral), and lastly my Pastor when I lived in New Jersey, moons ago. Time is what we value so dearly during this busy season, and people that have meant much to us will value our time, our thoughts and our love. It is going to be really great!!!! I hope you will make some calls too and celebrate the love. If everyone took the challenge and reached out to three people, we'd make a big impact today. And you know what? It warms our heart too!

I finished my last big project at the studio today, right down to the last detail. (WOO HOO!) Not that there won’t be something from the work column every day (as there always is) but I have to say that my leopard jammies are much, much closer! When I shoveled my desk off, the grocery store called my name and what a blessing the cashier was just a doll and a half! $350.00 later, I came home to unload. We will not discuss how much of that was alcohol. (thanks!)

Another batch of those pretzel/kiss/M&M delights was made (we call them Belly Buttons) and another tray of the easy Ritz snowflake cookies. And, so there will be cocktailin’ tonight when my son arrives, there is a batch of Crabmeat Canapes in the freezer. Delightful indeed.

Knitting? Mmmmmmmm, well, I’ve thought about it but that is pretty much where it lies. I finished wrapping after dinner dishes were done instead. A very few rows happened on the scarf, and even a few were bliss -- I know you understand completely! I went to finish the buttons on the Pocketbook Slippers and completely struck out! I used those “Create a Button” mesh blanks. With a tapestry needle you go in and out of the plastic mesh button top and before you know it, poof, it’s a button. Well, all of my needles that would carry the yarn had eyes that were too fat to go all the way through the mesh---- ack! How frustrating! So you know what? The slippers will not get buttons, so there. During my time of irritation I test drove (someone has to!) a Candy Cane Cocktail. It was really, really good. I only had one, in case you’re counting!


Can we talk gift tags???? I love gift tags almost as much as I love the gift itself! There are some great tags available but the handmade kind is always the best. This year I’m printing my own using the commercially available muslin backed with stiff paper for the printer. (You can pick it up in a package with about 4 sheets in it, I even saw it at my local Kinko's.) Or make your own to run through the printer by cutting out sheets of muslin and ironing them to waxed paper but it is a trickier process that has the potential to muss up your printer, I take the safe route and purchase my sheets. My collection of antique holiday images, postcards and cards over the years has served me well. I have them all stored on the computer as .jpg's. The image is chosen, sized, and a bit of PhotoShop magic is applied, and they can be grouped to save paper and then run through the printer. Once they are printed and dry for a bit, I give mine a good ironing to set the ink. Layer the muslin with a plain sheet of white paper on the front and back to protect the iron and ironing board cover. Then, I can add a backing with a layer of fusible web and a layer of felt. You can also print to cardstock and cut out with those foofy scissors. Then again, if you are a crafty sort you can take the printed tags and just embellish them to your hearts content. Just punch a hole and hang with pretty coordinating yarn.

My tag fetish started about 10 years ago when my best friend and I would exchange a Christmas gift each year. There were rules y’know. Gifts must be handmade, they need not be expensive, and they don’t have to be practical--- fanciful is fun too! Most importantly is that they have to be wrapped really pretty and there has to be a cool gift tag, also handmade. Over the years the tags grew more elaborate, sometimes artistic, sometimes funky, always wonderful! My collection of beloved gift tags disappeared in the divorce, we won't go there it makes me cranky and that is just not fitting to the season! I love to give (and receive-- dare I say it) at least one gift each year that is wrapped in a way you wouldn’t for ‘ordinary’ giving. You know what I mean….. kids don’t appreciate it, much of your family wouldn’t really get into a package that is wrapped over the top.

It is the 20th day of Knitting Contrisstmas and I am gifting a few of my gift tag designs. Use them as you like----- be creative and promise me that you use at least one of them for a very special and wonderfully creative gift! Or step out and create something uniquely yours!

If you would like to use them as the starting point for your own lovely gift tags, right click on the images and use the 'save as' option to save to your computer.


My son arrives in a few hours………… I’m smiling very big! I'll be smiling bigger when the house is clean, there are dustbunnies the size of cats I fear. I've been less than diligent with all of the other things going on around here and I do so love a nice clean house. When Mr. Manhattan comes home he always stops en route to the airport for real live New York bagels. (That sounded like one of those salsa commercials didn't it.... New York City!!!! Ha!) I bought extra cream cheese yesterday in preparation, yum. He's a great kid, and so tall and skinny you wonder how he came from this body! The only problem is that he is a dead ringer for his dad............ I try not to hold that against him! :)

Thanks to those of you who have added me as a friend on Ravelry! How fun is that???? I love it!

Tomorrow on Day 21 is an interview you won’t want to miss!