Wednesday, December 30, 2009

holiday sweets

Every year I have great intentions of baking and cooking holiday sweets as gifts, but until this year it has never happened. This year I did get a little carried away, but the sweets were well-received and resulted in family members hiding their stashes so they wouldn't have to share with everyone else! That, of course, (despite not exactly promoting the Christmas spirit) made me very happy.

I've mentioned before that I have never gone wrong with Orangette's recipes. I made my favorite granola, and these cookies, which I learned about here. I ate an entire batch of those cookies in about a week, and then had to make another batch for gifts. They have to be one of my favorite cookies ever.

Then I went a little crazy with candied citrus peel. This was on my list of things to make last year, but Levi's birth was on time and therefore citrus peel making never happened. I used this recipe, and did 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges, and 4 lemons. I boiled them all together and they still maintained their individual flavors. Also, I cut the grapefruit peels a little thicker before I started freaking out that I was leaving too much pith (and therefore cut the lemon and orange much thinner), and I actually ended up liking the texture of the grapefruit the best.

Making candied citrus peel is not a quick undertaking. Although it wasn't especially labor intensive, it was time intensive, but the results are incredible. I dipped half in bittersweet chocolate and left half plain. I did not have any suitable packaging and couldn't bear to package my citrus peel in zip-loc bags (!), so I sewed little pouches out of parchment paper. They ended up looking great, but one caveat is that the citrus peel will dessicate if it is not in an air-tight container, so I stored these little gift bags in zip-locs and instructed their recipients to do the same!

After almost 8 hours of citrus peel making, and with Levi down for a nap, I looked at Adam and said "do you think I would be crazy if I made homemade marshmallows right now?" Homemade marshmallows have been on my list of things to make since the December 2003 Martha Stewart Living came out, and then this post really inspired me. I used the instructions from the link on the Angry Chicken post and they turned out perfectly.

I dipped some in dark chocolate and sprinkled them with crushed walnuts for giving. Next year I want to make snowflake-shaped marshmallows and give them as gifts with homemade hot cocoa mix.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

organic cotton washcloths

I just love handknit washcloths. They are the best thing to have on your needles when you want a mindless project, and they are the perfect gift. I have made several in the past out of handspun hemp, but this time I didn't have time for spinning and instead used this amazing soft (and cheap!) organic cotton yarn. I used a lace pattern called "Elfin Lace" from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting patterns and did enough repeats for an approximately 8" square washcloth. Each cloth took less than a half of a ball of the organic cotton yarn, meaning these beautiful little things cost less than $1.25 each in supplies!

Add a nice bar of soap, and you have a lovely little gift. It would have been great if I had time to make some homemade soap for these, but that did not happen this year. I recently saw this post from melissa of tiny happy, and it seems that she had the opposite problem...time for the soap-making but not the knitting!

I wrapped each washcloth in brown tissue paper, tied them with string, added a hemlock branch from our woods, and they're all ready to be given as holiday gifts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My baby turned one last Friday. It hardly seems possible that a year has past since this amazing sweet boy came into our lives. For the occasion, cake was made and devoured, friends came over to play, and owl-themed party favors were made.

I knit these tiny owls and put them on hair clips for the little girls and pins for the little boys.

I originally intended to make small versions of these as well, but in an especially enlightened moment I came up with the idea of making little owl bean bags instead. These are filled with organic popcorn and I will definitely be making more of them. I think Levi needs a set of 5 for tossing!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

dodie's mittens

This is another pair of May mittens, but this time I made them in October! Consequently I used more autumnal colors than my last pair of springy mittens. I made these for my mother-in-law for her birthday, which was back in October, but I just gave them to her this Thanksgiving. She is one of my few readers, so I thought I'd hold off on posting them until they were gifted.

Again I used Noro silk garden. I'm still not sure about Noro yarns...once again I had to split out several of the colors from the skein because I thought they were ugly and clashing. I am happy with the colors that remained though. The bright blues remind me of my mother-in-law (I don't know why!) and the oranges and browns are a touch of my preferred colors. Once again, an enjoyable pattern and a pretty final result!