Friday, December 13, 2019

Black Magic Butter Dream Cookies and Christmas Gnomes ~

Who doesn't love Christmas cookies?  No one that's who.  And if you master the art of baking Christmas cookies you will always be in demand at holiday parties, social gatherings, and secret political coups.  But mostly you will reap the benefits from your own family's enjoyment and eager anticipation for your holiday cookie baking to begin.  This year I'm sharing one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes which has the added bonus of being super easy to make!  So those of you who are not stronger bakers (and you know who you are) or even if you think nothing of whipping up a classic french Croquembouche you will find this cookie a nice addition to your Christmas cookie repertoire.

Black Magic Butter Dream Cookies
~ yield ~ 2 dozen

The recipe was given to my mom from a lady in her church.  She called it Black Magic Butter Dreams and they indeed melt in your mouth in a pretty dreamy way.  It's also a pretty quick recipe to make (although you need to chill the dough for a couple of hours) and it's a good all round additional to your holiday cookie plate. 


1 cup (8 oz)  sweet butter (unsalted) room temperature (I like to use Kerry Gold Irish butter)

1/2 cup - sifted - powdered sugar (plus an additional powered sugar to garnish baked cookies)

1 tsp vanilla extract

 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (chop by hand as the irregular pieces create nice texture and crumb)


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Using an electric mixer beat butter, 1/2 cup sifted powered sugar and vanilla at medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on how soft your butter is) or until light and fluffy. 

3.  Sift together flour and salt.  Using a wooden spoon stir flour mixture into butter mixture until fully incorporated.  Add walnuts and stir briefly until distributed evenly.

4.  Refrigerate cookie dough for 2 to 3 hours.  When dough is chilled use your hands to roll  into 1 inch balls and bake 15 minutes or until set and slightly brown.

5.  While cookies are still warm, roll in powered sugar.  When cool give them a second roll in powered sugar.  

I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does.  I've seem similar recipes using pecans but I think walnuts are especially nice in Christmas cookies.  One of my favorite Christmas cookies of all is a walnut cookie recipe I shared many years ago called Festive Walnut Christmas Cookies.  This was a favorite cookie of my father's and I make them every year.  

It's Nice to be Gnome for the Holidays ~

In my last post I mentioned that I'm going crazy knitting gnomes!  This is the newest addition to my collection and I think he's a jolly addition to my Christmas decorations.  He's perched here on the edge of my Swedish advent calendar, which is only appropriate as gnomes (or tomte as they are known in Sweden) are a traditional part of Scandinavian folklore.  Apparently Tomte have been living in Scandinavia since the beginning of time.  They live in lofts or barns and wear bright-red caps and wooden clogs.  Rarely seen except for children and the family cat, he is a helpful guardian of the farm and livestock.  If you are missing a sock or something has been mysteriously moved then the tomte borrowed it.  But be wary because if you offend him he may play tricks or do something even more nefarious. On Christmas eve good children in Sweden climb to the barn loft in the countryside or their house attic if living in the city to leave a bowl of rice pudding with a lump of butter and a mug of beer for the tomte.  In the morning little gifts are tucked into their shoes and the bowl and the mug are empty, proof that the tomte was there!  I've always related more to my mother's tradition who is English but since my father's passing (he was Swedish and Norwegian) I've wanted to connect more to his part of my heritage.  And what could be a better way than bringing these whimsical tomtes into my home!

Particulars:  Gnome Pun Intended; designed by Sarah Schira (imagined landscapes); US 1 needles; mini skeins by Black Sheep Dyeworks (colorways cinnabar (red) and lettuce tonal (body) and scrap white yarn by Knitspot stranded with scrap silk mohair for the beard.  Finished gnome is 8" in height.  I did add a pretty bead to the tip of his hat which I think is a nice finishing touch.  To see my autumnal gnome see the post Sweater Weather and Gnome Spotting.  And to see the original project using the silk mohair used in the beard see the Northern Skies shawl post.  I must confess the knitspot yarn was knit into a fantastic project but it has yet to be photographed.  Someday!

We all love this newest addition to our holiday gnome family.  Especially Simcha.  

Until next time be well, love well and know that Steve, Simcha and I are wishing peace, happiness, and good tidings to all this Hanukkah, Christmas and throughout the New Year ahead. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Sweater Weather and Gnome Spotting ~

At long last it's sweater weather here in Southern California!  I can't tell you how relieved I'll be when rain arrives next week (as predicted) as fire season seems to get longer and more dangerous every year not just here in Southern California but all over the world.  Of course fire risk is nothing new to me.  I grew up in California and when I was young there were several fires where we were evacuated.  And about ten years ago I spent several days in evacuation status with my parents (our misadventures coalescing into my Tips for the Wildfire Evacuee).  But recent fires are without a doubt more intense and spread more quickly.  Thankfully we have amazing firefighters who just yesterday stopped a small wildfire from spreading right here in Topanga Canyon.  But then there was no wind blowing.  When the wind blows there is nothing any firefighter anywhere can do.

And on that cheery note let's talk about my "I didn't get to go to Spain" consolation sweater.  Back in May we were supposed to travel to Spain but I tripped and badly sprained my ankle.  I was laid up with my foot in traction for several weeks and this sweater is the result of that inactivity.  As I have found before knitting is a wonderful panacea for the bumps and bruises that occur in my life.  It takes my mind off my troubles and soothes me to create something beautiful despite whatever else is going on.  You probably recognize this sweater as Andrea Mowry's very popular Comfort Fade Cardi.  It's a fun and easy knit but I made two significant modifications that I think greatly impacted the finished sweater.  First I changed the sweater from a reverse stockinette fabric to a traditional stockinette leaving the garter stitch trim (collar and cuffs) and second I greatly reduced the depth of the collar around the neck opting instead to make the front band wider.  I did that because some of the projects seemed lopsided with too much fabric for the collar around the neck area and too skimpy in the front.  Those modifications were the right call for me and something for you to think about if you are planning on knitting this sweater.  I've provided more details on those modifications below.

Despite my somewhat gloomy musing in this post I have actually been enjoying myself this Fall.  I have an amazing capacity to live in the moment and enjoy small things even when I might have big worries.  Like burning to a crispy crisp in a wildfire.  The following list is some of my favorite Fall things:

1.  Sweater Weather (music video) by The Neighborhood.  Not only does this video have a cool apropos title it's shot in and around the Pacific Coast Highway/Malibu area and the vibe might help explain why people live in SoCal despite wildfires, earthquakes and crazy politics;

2.  Adding a dash of cinnamon to coffee grounds before brewing.  I learned this trick from someone who learned the trick from Molly of  A Homespun HouseI used to add cinnamon to a cup of coffee but it is so much better when added to the grounds;

3.  The change in the sun angle and quality of the sun rays.  Fall is hard to find in Southern California but for those who pay attention the changing light quality is a special and enjoyable part of Fall;

3.  Burning Scented candles.  This Fall I'm crushing on Bath and Body Works candles, Pumpkin Cupcake is very yummy;

4.  Seasonal Baking: Cinnamon Raisin Bread (Steve's favorite fall treat), Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Topping, Granola (wonderful sprinkled over fresh persimmon on top of morning oatmeal), and Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies (this is just one of several recipes I love from Bake From Scratch, Holiday Cookies Magazine (2017);

5.  Scented bath soaps.  My favorites are made by Lush Cosmetics and Philosophy Bath and Shower Gels;

6.  Hiking with Simcha and collecting Fall foliage for decorating around the house; and

7.  Snacking on Honey Roasted Pecans!

So that's what's been going on in my world this Fall.  I would love to hear what you are up to and what you enjoy about this time of year!

Particulars Comfort Fade Cardi; designed by Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits) ; US 5 needles; Big Sky Yarn Co., Squish DK (superwash merino) purchased as a kit.  I loved knitting with this yarn and couldn't be happier with the sweater.  It knit true to size (I knit XXS) and this yarn has a lot of bounce and holds it's shape well.  But as discussed above I made two significant modifications:
  1. As I preferred the look of stockinette I knit it with stockinette as the RS (versus WR).  Although the color fade transitions are probably not as smooth in the stockinette that didn't bother me; and
  2. I modified the neck/front band in two ways. First I only did one repeat of the short rows and two I increased the number of full rows to 60. I made this modification as I thought that the front band of the sweater looked too skimpy while the neck area too large. I faded the colorband as follows:  Note: The rows below only includes full rows. The one repeat section of short rows were all done according to the pattern as written and in colorway A.  
1-8 = A 
9-10 = B 
11-12 = A 
13-24 = B 
25-26 = C 
27-28 = B 
29-30 = C 
31-32 = B 
33-42 = C 
43-44 = D 
45-46 = C 
47-48 = D 
49-50 = C 
51-60 = D
This modification ended up with a front band depth of 5.5 inches (on each side) and a 7 inch depth at the back of the neck.  For tips on how to knit a sweater that fits I refer you to my post Knitting a Sweater and Achieving a Custom Fit.  To see other cardigans that I've knit see: Solstice Cardigan, Little Wave, Bud, Flo, Cabled Riding Jacket (these are the sweaters that I wear and enjoy the most).

Gnome Spotting ~

Have you ever noticed that Gnomes are seasonal creatures?  They appear suddenly in the Fall and then mysteriously disappear in the Spring.  I have no idea where they go or why.  That's just part of their charm.  This is Gnellie a cute little gnome and she loves all things Fall.  She likes to collect foliage, mushrooms, feathers and other treasures of that sort.  While she's formidable she is also very shy and I'm delighted that she posed for this picture.  I will be very sorry when she disappears.  But I suspect that she'll be back when the leaves turn next year.

I knit Gnellie as part of the Oh, Gnome, You Didn't  mystery KAL hosted by Sarah Schira (Imagined Landscapes).  I bought the yarn as a kit on Etsy from Black Sheep Dyeworks (which I augmented with a few odds and ends of stash yarn).  For example her nose is knit with yarn leftover from my dragon socks).  This is a pretty small project (roughly 5 inches tall) and not really a "toy" but more a decoration.  Be warned knitting gnomes is addictive.  Once you start it's hard to stop.

Until next time be well, love well and remember to enjoy the small things that make Fall special.  And a very big Happy Thanksgiving to all ~ from our Gnome to yours ~  

Monday, May 20, 2019

SCONES - the British Way

As an American I've found it a long and arduous journey to find the perfect British scone recipe.  There were many perils along the way from disappointing recipes, confusing measuring conventions, differences in flour composition, and perhaps the most challenging factor, no decent example to be found anywhere.  I've had tea at the Biltmore in Santa Barbara and numerous other posh establishments and never had a cup of tea worth drinking or a scone enjoyable to consume.  While I didn't know how to make a scone myelf I knew enough that the pale, slightly risen, and cold offering was not a proper British scone.  Not by half.  Which is why I made it my mission to figure out how to bake a British scone and why it all goes so wrong in America.

The simple answer is that it's due to the flour.   All purpose flour in England has a higher protein content than in America.  But it's more than that.  I won't lie.  To succeed in America with baking British scones requires yes, the right flour, but it also requires its very own technique which is why I've been very exacting in the instructions below.  Follow this recipe and you'll be happily munching on scones as you watch Wimbledon this summer with butter and jam dripping down your fingers.  Or regularly with a cuppa and a good book, as I do.  Parenthetically I'm thoroughly enjoying the Maisie Dobbs series.

The recipe I'm sharing is my own and derived from a variety of sources including trial and error and serendipitous surprise.  As mentioned above I can not stress enough the importance of using the right flour which, luckily, is lurking at your nearby grocery store.  I actually had self raising flour imported from England (quite expensive) and didn't like the result as well.  Similarly cake flour (which has a higher protein content and is sometimes recommended for British scones) gave disappointing results.  The good news is that Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour is reasonably priced and available at a variety of grocery chains and, incidentally, makes fabulous baguettes as well.

Without further ado good luck and I hope that you enjoy these scones as much as Steve and I do!

SCONES - the British Way
Yield ~ 9 to 10 scones


1/2 cup currants - soaked 10 minutes in earl gray tea (or plain hot water)
4 oz sultanas (golden raisins) (no soaking necessary so long as fresh) - set aside

Combine in a large bowl:
450g Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour or British self raising flour
If using Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour add 2 TBS baking powder
If using British self raising flour add 2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
85g (6 Tbs.) sweet butter - slightly softened (I use a European butter such as Kerry gold) cubed

Combine in a separate bowl (and reserve 2 TBS):
1 large egg plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup
7 Tbs. (92g) fine white sugar  (caster sugar or C&H baking sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Garnish: Demerara sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  N.B. you will drop the temperature to 425 as soon as you pop the scones in the oven.

2.  If using currants instead of sultanas soak currants in earl gray tea or hot water for approximately 10 minutes and blot dry.   Measure and set aside whichever you are using (either currants or sultanas).

3.  In a medium bowl combine your choice of flour, appropriate amount of baking powder (depending on your flour choice), salt, and cubed butter.  Using your finger tips rub butter into flour mixture until consistency of fine sand.  It is very important that there are no lumps of butter left as you want a cake like consistency and not a flaky consistency like a biscuit. Set Aside.

4.  In a separate small bowl combine egg and milk mixture, sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk until sugar is entirely dissolved.   Remove and reserve 2 Tbs. of mixture to be used later for brushing tops of scones.

5.  Add either currants or sultanas to the flour mixture and toss to combine.

6.  Add the milk mixture (less the 2 Tbs. reserved to brush the tops) to the flour and raisins.  Using a blunt knife cut the wet ingredients into the flour mixture to form a wet and shaggy dough.  Don't worry if not all the flour is incorporated - it's better to not incorporate all the flour rather than having a dough too dry (there are a variety of factors that can affect how much flour is needed to create the dough such as humidity).  Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and kneed a couple of turns until smooth.  Then gently fold dough in half three (3) times to create layers.  Use only a small amount of additional flour to prevent sticking as adding too much will create heavy scones.  Use your hands to pat dough into a smooth round approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches inch thick.  Do not use a rolling pin as it will overwork the dough.

7.  Using a floured biscuit cutter (2 3/4 inch diameter) stamp out scones using a quick hard stamping motion with the heel of your hand and do not twist the cutter.  Be as efficient as possible in cutting as many scones from this dough, as the scones made from the re-rolled scrap dough are not as nice. Place scones on prepared baking sheet and transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes (which allows the baking powder to begin work and keeps dough cool to prevent spreading).

8.  Just before placing scones into oven brush tops with reserved milk mixture.  Only brush the tops (not sides).  Finish with a sprinkle of demerara sugar or similar course baking sugar.

9.  Drop oven temperature from 500 to 425 degrees and bake 7 minutes and turn pan.  Continue to bake scones an additional 7 minutes (a total of 14 minutes) or until dark brown on top.

Scones do not keep well and are best served warm from the oven when they are absolutely divine.  Contrary to the Brits I enjoy mine with strawberry jam and a spot of sweet butter but for the real deal use clotted cream and/or whipped cream (I find clotted cream at Gelson's Grocery Store).  Once cool freeze the leftovers and I find they are best briefly microwaved (30 seconds) and toasted in a warm oven.

If traditional British scones are not your cup of tea you might enjoy previously shared recipes for Irish Scones and/or  Almond Scones (these scones are easy and delicious and this post includes my mother's tips for brewing a perfect cup of English tea).

And There Has Been Knitting ~

As regular readers know this has been a sad year for me with the passing of my father and my mother relocating into assisted living.  There is still much to be done not least of which is the closure of all the loose ends from a lifetime (60 years) that my parents spent together.  But time passes and it gets easier.  It's been a reminder for me that nothing in this world remains the same.  And my faith is stronger for it.

Throughout it all I continue to knit.  But I won't pretend this shawl is fresh off the needles as it was finished last Spring and there are many other more current projects.  But I wanted to show this shawl as it's been a really useful addition to my wardrobe. Every once in a while I'll pick a design for it's simplistic beauty, as in this case.  Although it was a fairly challenging knit and required close attention to the pattern the payoff has been worth it and I don't believe it would be a problem for an average knitter with determination.

Particulars:  Rheinlust designed by Melanie Berg; 2 skeins Ella Rae Lace Merino (920 yrds).  I was concerned about having enough yarn and only knit 8 repeats of Chart B and ended up with 4g yarn remaining.  Final blocked measurements 20" x 73."  A previous pattern of Ms. Berg's that I knit was her Qwist Mitts.

Until next time be well and love well and may all your scones be sweet ~

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Girl's Best Friend.... a Cozy Shawl and Something Chocolate

I am wearing A Girl's Best Friend Shawl which I finished in time to enjoy this Winter. Hurrah!  And boy have we had a winter this year in Southern California.  Complete with rain, mudslides, and freezing temperatures.  I'm starting to wonder why I ever wanted a change from our perpetually sunny skies in the first place.  Isn't there a song about it's never raining in Southern California?  Ah yes, It never Rains In California by Albert Hammond.  That's clearly wrong.  These days I'm humming along to Keith Urban's Long Hot Summer (filmed incidentally on a local Malibu beach) as I wistfully recall endless summer days at the beach, and my lost youth.

I've been thinking about music as we watched Bohemian's Rhapsody last night.  I highly recommend the movie.  It's a poignant story of the life of Freddy Mercury who was the lead singer of Queen (rock and roll band in the 70's).  It's worth watching particularly if you remember the band.  I grew up in the 1970s and I think that era had the best music.  There are a few artists that I enjoy today but give me the seventies rock and roll any day.  That's probably what every generation thinks - that their music was the best.  In any event Bohemian Rhapsody has been nominated for a number of Oscar awards, including best film and best actor.  Tune in February 24th to see who wins!

But back to my shawl which I really love.  It's called "A Girl's Best Friend" presumably because it's  easy to hang out with, makes you feel better about yourself, and isn't demanding to knit.  I used three different types of yarn which came together beautifully.  I took me a long time to find the right combination but once I did I knew it was right. And the best part is that one of the skeins came from a dear online friend Andi, My Sister's Knitter.  She had a give-away on her blog and I won the beautiful dark magenta yarn that finished off this shawl beautifully.  It can be tricky finding a good mix of colors for a shawl.  But using totals and neutrals is always a safe bet which is what I used here.  And, of course, having a good friend's input is sometimes just what you need. Thank you Andi!

I also have to quickly mention the fun pom poms on this shawl.  They are such a cute addition! They are also super easy to make.  All you need is a fork and you can make mini pom poms to your heart's content.  Here's a link to a Youtube tutorial.  I don't see why you couldn't add pom poms to any shawl for a little extra pizzazz.  Or make a fun garland of these to hang on your Christmas tree next year!  Note to self: that's a good idea.

Particulars A Girl's Best Friend, designed by Isabell Kraemer (Lilau on Ravelry), US 4 needles; 3 different yarns (Plucky knitter - Primo Fingering (colorway wintery mix); Anzula Yarn - Squishy - (colorway rosebud) and Peepaloo Fields - Sock (colorway nevermore)).  I made no modifications to this shawl pattern, although I did knit one less repeat of the neutral section due to yardage concerns.  If you are interested in knitting multi-colored shawls you might want to read Multi Colored Shawls and Testing Yarn for Color Fastness.   While none of these yarns bled you should always consider that risk before you embark on knitting a multi-colored shawl.

And just so you know that I'm not completely stuck in a time warp and do enjoy some contemporary music here's a link list of some of my favorite Youtube Videos ( (warning: very eclectic list):

Labryinth ~ Beneath your Beautiful
Lana Del Rey ~ Summertime Sadness
Katie Perry ~ Teanage Dream (filmed in Santa Barbara where I grew up)
Back Eye Peas ~ Meet me Halfway
Gotye ~ Somebody That I Used to Know
Nelly ~ Dilemna
Sara Evans ~ I Could Not Ask for More
Gwen Stefani ~ Cool
Rhianna ~ Take A Bow
John Legend ~ Save Room

I could go on and on.  I was young still when MTV launched and still love music videos, especially videos shot on locations I'm familiar with.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti ~

Speaking of a girl's best friend I would be remiss if I didn't mention something about chocolate. Chocolate makes me weak in the knees and eating it makes me happy.  But I don't allow myself to buy a box of chocolates very often because I simply can not control myself.  Especially if it's Sees Candy which are my favorites. On the other hand baking with chocolate renders a fine result and I'm not as greedy and as compulsive about gobbling down every morsel in the vicinity.  Probably because it doesn't have as high a sugar content and doesn't spike a craving fit.  So, for me, it's safer and more prudent to skip the candy and bake something instead.   Like Chocolate Almond Biscotti.  This recipe is a winner from Pastry Affair and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

If you like biscotti I also recommend trying Pistachio and Currant Biscotti (recipe link in the Finishing Touches post).  I've made these many times over the years and it never disappoints.  There's a batch cooling in my kitchen as I write this as a matter of fact.

Until next time be well, love well and remember that when you go through difficult times it's more important than ever to spend time with good friends and enjoy simple pleasures.  Sometimes all I need is a good cup of coffee and biscotti to feel better.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Indispensable Trait of Determination for Knitting and Life

It's been unusually cool this Winter in Los Angeles, California.  How cold has it been you wonder?  So cold that we've been needing clothes that we typically don't need in LA.  Like socks.  Fortunately that's no problem for me as I've knit many a pair over the years.  But I don't have many of the sturdy variety and hence these Carlos and Arne socks have been great to have this winter.

I have to admit that knitting these socks was a love/hate affair.  It's obviously a self patterning yarn and, incidentally, the first commercially dyed self patterning yarn I've knit with.  While I loved the beautifully intricate pattern magically unfolding as I knit without any effort on my part, whatsoever, I was also turned off by the scratchy feel of the wool traversing over my fingers.  And knitting is a very tactile experience.  Hence the hate.  I almost tossed them aside as not worth the bother.  To be fair it was summer when I was knitting them and in the warm summer months lots of wools can feel scratchy.  But when I thought am I such a wimp that I can't handle a little scratchy wool?  Seriously?  That's pathetic.  So I determined to finish them and am very happy that I did.  You know what else?  Magically when the weather turned cool the wool suddenly wasn't scratchy any more.  I have no idea what the science is behind that. 

The moral of this story is that sometimes you have to stick with things through thick, thin and scratchy times.  Because if you don't then you may miss an opportunity to add color, warmth, and satisfaction to your life.  Like these socks have to mine.

PARTICULARS: Pairfect Design Line by Arne & Carlos, Schachendmayr Regia Sock Yarn (75% wool / 25% polyamide); (Colorway #9090); 100 g 459 yrds.; US 1 DPN; I followed the pattern provided on label and made no modifications whatsoever, other than I followed my own toe decreases from my Colorblock Socks pattern.  This sock yarn is a tremendous value and I highly recommend making your own Pairfect socks!  They should wear like iron.  But if you are more interested in luxury sock yarns I would recommend a mix of merino wool, nylon, and 10% cashmere and a favorite brand of mine is Sun Valley Fibers, MCN (80% merino, 10%cashmere and 10% nylon) which is what I used for my Winter Rose socks and for another pair I have yet to photograph.

Simcha and Determination

The topic of determination and sheer doggedness would not be complete without a Simcha antidote, who has more determination in his right pinky err paw than most people have in their entire body.

For Simcha size has always mattered.  From the time he was a little puppy it didn't matter if it was a toy, treat, or stick it was clear that bigger was definitely better.   Out on the trail hiking he doesn't pick up any old stick.  Instead he will forage to find the very biggest stick around and then he'll carry it for long distances before eventually discarding it.  It's not always easy for him to extract these massive sticks.  They are often partially buried in the ground or entangled in limbs of trees and bushes but he will thrash about pulling until it breaks free (I used to pitch in and help him with this until he accidentally sliced my finger in half and after that I decided he was on his own). There was only one time when I thought he was going to be defeated.  He had jumped off the trail into some brush below and there was a  sheer rock wall that had to climbed to get back on the trail.  I stood and looked down watching him.  He had found a large stick that he clearly wanted to bring with him.  He was whining in frustration because he had made several failed attempts to get up that rock wall with his stick.  I could see the problem was that he didn't have enough space to run and gain any momentum to help carry him up.  I thought he was beat.  But then he put his head down, griped that stick in his jaws, raised his head up and by the sheer force of his determination clawed his way up that rock face onto the trail with that giant stick in his mouth.  I was astonished.  He's older now and doesn't have the same drive and determination but I'll never forget seeing him do the impossible.

There's a number of excellent books about dogs and their amazing stories.  I know he's fictional but I think that Simcha has much the same personality as Buck from Call of the Wild by Jack London.  I also love the book Where the Red Fern Grows about a boy and his dogs growing up in the Ozarks.  And my dad used to read Old Yeller aloud to my sister and me when we were little.  These are all sad and yet wonderful stories.  If you have a favorite book about a dog I would love to hear your recommendations. 


I love the idea of welcoming winter with celebration and those things that bring warmth and comfort into our lives. Which is why the St. Lucia celebration in Sweden appeals to me.  Well to be perfectly honest it's the rich tasty St. Lucia buns that appeal to me.  Flavored with saffron and vodka these buns are warm and savory with a tiny sweet crunch from the pearl sugar topping.  They are simple but I really like them.  It must be the Swed in me. If you are familiar with St. Lucia buns and this celebration then you know that I'm late in making these (St Lucia is celebrated on the first day of winter).  But honestly being untimely hasn't effected my enjoyment of the buns one tiny bit. Note to self: Make these every winter, preferably on St. Lucia Day.  Recipe from Bake from Scratch Magazine, November/December 2018.  The New York times shares a St. Lucia Bun recipe (highly rated) free online.

Until next time, be well love well and may your winter months be filled with warmth, comfort food, good books and cozy socks!