Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter Hat and Holiday Cookies

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  Living in Southern California I don't have any snow balls to throw!  But I do have bath bombs that look remarkably like snow balls!  Yes?  If you live where it snows for sure you will want to throw snow balls.  Obviously.  And you certainly need a cute winter hat to do that.  But even if you don't live where it snows it's still fun to have a cute winter hat!

Long ago I lived in the midwest (Indiana) where it actually does snow.  I've made snow angels, thrown snow balls and slid my car off the road in a snow storm.  I can remember mornings scraping thick ice off my windshield, the magic of freshly fallen snow, snuggling under an electric blanket and drinking lots and lots of hot cocoa.  And I loved it all.  Except the part about sliding off the road.  In a year like this where there is virtually no winter at all in Southern California I particularly miss those times and how the holidays seemed so much more special with snow on the ground.

But you want to hear about the hat! This is a super fast and fun knit.  I purchased it as a mystery KAL kit.  I chose the main color (blue) and the designer picked the contrasting red and white colors.  I think she made a perfect choice and left to my own devices I'm not sure I would have done as well.  Lately I've seen a resurgence in color work popularity.  In particular there are some gorgeous color work yoke sweaters that are showing up online (I have the Sunset Highway Sweater on my needles).  Color work projects are a lot of fun but can be intimidating if you haven't tried it before.  If you are considering color work my advice would be to practice, practice, practice until you get comfortable knitting holding two yarn strands and are able to knit with an even tension.  There are a number of ways to hold the yarn but I prefer to hold the background color over my index finger with the pattern color over my middle finger.  You can find any number of free youtube videos demonstrating ways to hold the yarn.  Try out the various methods and see what works best for you.  And practice, practice practice.  Once you get the hang of it you will find that you can knit almost as fast in two colors as one.  Incidentally I have a super easy way to deal with floats that I'll share when I post my Sunset Highway sweater, which might be next month or next year depending on my fancy.

Particulars: Stranded in Toronto hat kit; designed by Cindy Garland (Raverly Group:Wild Prairie Knits); Stunning Strings Studios, Simply DK (purchased as a kit);  US 7 needles for both brim and the body.  I delayed beginning the decreases for 2 rows to give it a little extra length.  I love this yarn - very soft and warm - although as a single ply I'm not sure how well it will wear.   Previous color work projects that I've blogged include BaaBle Hat, Hebe Hat, and Osebury Scarf.

In case you are wondering the scarf that I'm wearing in the photos is my Good Vibes Shawl and the mittens are my Snowflake Fingerless Mitts.  Both get a lot of wear!

Holiday Cookies ~

The holidays are fast approaching and there are a million things that need doing.  I know that.  The house needs to be decorated, presents need to be purchased and wrapped, and everywhere you go you need to bring a dish or a dessert.  But in all that rush don't forget the quaint tradition of leaving a plate of cookies out for Santa on Christmas eve who surely deserves a treat.  And since I'm Santa in this household, ho ho ho, that means baking a cookie just for me.  And if I there is one cookie that I especially enjoy at Christmas it's the Nick of Time cookie and that's the recipe that I'm sharing with you.  Just in case there's a Santa in your household who likes cookies too.

I would describe this as a rustic cookie with a nice crunch that is chock full of cranberries, white chocolate and pecans.  In other words a typical American cookie.  Admittedly sweet, every bite tastes like a holiday party in my mouth.  I look forward to them once a year.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Nick of Time Cookies
~ yield ~ 3 dozen cookies (4 inches across)


1 cup very soft butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I use super fine baking sugar)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
Orange zest, from a large orange
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 3/4 cups All purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried organic cranberries, if whole roughly chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped (I use elliot pecans)


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine soft butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl.  Mix on medium  speed until well combined (mixing 3 to 5 minutes minimum).  Add egg and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping bowl sides as needed.  Remove mixer from stand.

3.  In a separate bowl combine baking soda and flour.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir with spoon until just combined.  Stir in white chocolate chips, cranberries and pecans.

4.  Drop large tablespoon sized cookies onto parchment paper (slightly flatten with fingers or back of spoon).  Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 12 to 14 minutes.  The edges should be set and just slightly brown on bottom but the tops should not be browned.  It's important not to over bake.  Remove cookies from the oven and allow to continue cooking on sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to finish cooling.  Store in air tight tin or freeze.

Slightly adapted from the original version of the King Arthur Flour recipe for Nick of Time cookies since renamed and modified as cranberry-orange white chocolate Drops.

Southern California Wildfires

I want to briefly address the wildfires that have been on the news. If you are not already aware we are having terrible wildfires raging in Southern California which are ferociously consuming our dry parched terrain and everything in its path.  So I've found it hard to feel jolly and in the Christmas spirit this year.  My heart is heavy thinking of all the brave fire fighters on the front lines, poor terrified animals, and of course families who loose everything.   A sobering reminder how quickly events can happen that forever change our lives.  With regard to the Thomas fire at this time it looks like my sister's home (in the foothills of Carpinteria) will be spared but my parent's home (in the foothills of Santa Barbara) has just been moved into mandatory evacuation status.  Even the newscasters are asking for prayers for a break in the weather.  The red flag warnings continue throughout the region and there is no rain in the forecast.

Until next time be well, love well, and Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and remember to grab hold and hug all your loved ones.