Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Time Cookies

As part of my lovely Thanksgiving week, I naturally worked hard to move thru the pounds of pumpkin puree in the freezer. There was pies naturally, and a bread or two, but one of the most fun to make was Pumpkin Hazelnut Cookies.
Butter, sugar and honey creamed, then an equal measure of pumpkin. Don't forget all the spices - cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
Leavening and whole wheat pastry flour, I then sifted the fine bits out of my roasted hazelnuts. Whenever I use my food processor to chop nuts I end up with both nearly whole pieces, and very fine flour. Putting it in the cookies gave a subtle nutty flavor, but kept them from getting lumpy.
I rolled it out pretty thick, I like squishy cookies not burnt ones. And I'm not afraid of big cookie cutters either! I made both oak leaves and these odd turkey (?) shaped ones. No matter how fast I roll I rarely can keep up with the oven...
Have you been making seasonal yummies? Try something new, and it may become a common occurrence...
UPDATE - These cookies were brought to craft night at the local coffee house, and shared with the barista a few weeks ago. Last week he had a special request "it's my birthday next week, will you make me some of those cookies?" This "recipe" is officially part of the repertoire!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Etsy Finds - Shop Local in Denver for the Holidays

Now we begin the Yule-time season. Don't let winter take all your color tho, no need to hide the brights until spring! Here's a selection of some great items made right here in my hometown. Use the "local items" feature on Etsy search to find amazing things from amazing people in your backyard. JanuaryJonesPrints mapped out my hometown...

A perfect gift for any little one, robots in red! Made by CounterCoutureDesign

A dot of brilliant color for a winter's day, this lovely wreath from KiyaBee

Cheerful and cute card for the Winter Holiday season, by MyJuly

Brighten up the kitchen, or gift to your favorite host! From UrbanBirdandCo

A splash of rich ox-blood red for your ears, from VerreEncore

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small Business Saturday

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? In my family we have always taken great pains to be sure that the Yule-time holidays don't overshadow the greatest holiday of all. I mean, really... It's a holiday that every American can celebrate. There's no religious undertones, no ethnic history, celebrating questionable history. (Ok yes, the Europeans and the Natives didn't get on all that well ultimately, but it's a celebration of survival and plenty, not conquest.)

But as a business woman I have to recognize the simple fact, this starts a shopping rush. But Black Friday? Is there really anyone who looks forward to lining up in the wee hours of the morning to fight someone for the last Tickle-me-Elmo? To a rushed and harried day of desperately searching sales. To waiting in long checkout lines as miserable clerks run up your credit card debt. Is this really what the Holiday spirit is all about?

Make this year different, make Friday a "Buy Nothing" day, stay home with your family, play in the leaves, enjoy your turkey cranberry sandwiches and some hot cider. Leave the ravenous hordes to fight for scraps.

But if you have shopping to do, consider joining in Small Business Saturday. Go to the little clumps of locally owned boutiques, stroll the street with friends and family, take your time perusing the goods. Often your small local stores have items you just can't find in a Big Box retailer, so you will bring home something unique!

Need more reasons? It's estimated that $0.45 of each dollar you spend in a locally owned shop stays in your community, through the salaries of the workers and the profits of the business, and the fact that these community members often shop local as well! Building strong sustainable communities requires diverse small businesses.
Shopping Local
ensures a unique variety of goods is available, and makes every city and nieghborhood different. It makes sure you have options. Also, no local shops I know of are opening at 2 in the morning, their employees get to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families and plenty of sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crafty Update

I must apologize for the paucity of post this month, school has hit hard, Winter greeted me with a nice bout of the flu followed by walking pneumonia, and crafting takes precedence over writing about crafting. But here's the update on what's been going on in my house!

Firstly, alpaca socks in the scroll work two color pattern. Oh, wow. These are the softest socks (the inside is full of the carried strands for extra amazing-ness) and the warmest socks I have ever worn. I have been enjoying them as slippers around the house for a week now! And no, the photo isn't fuzzy, the yarn is.

I had a considerable measure of yarn left over, so I decided to make arm warmers for the wonderful professor who brought me this alpaca roving as a gift. Seems fair that she should enjoy the fuzzy bounty.

As for sewing, I've been splitting time between my usual bag making, and a new project. I've made victorian style cuffs before, making use of my copious lace bits and fancy brocade scraps. I've decided the time is ripe for a separate Etsy shop for such pursuits, so I'm building up inventory to have a grand opening!

What are you making lately? Is everyone swamped with handmade gifting projects?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Train Heist!

There is a place in Golden Colorado where relics from the steam age are not forgotten hunks of rusting iron...
The Colorado Train Museum! Trains ranging from 150 years old, to just a few decades grace the grounds with it's maze of criss-crossing tracks. One can take a ride on a train pioneered by my own Great-Grandfather : The Galloping Goose! (Narrow gauge for you rail geeks out there).
My fellow Victorian time travelers and I were there to arrange a train heist, a good steam engine is essential for steampunk shenanigans.
Naturally we considered the largest driver there, almost two stories high and at least 100ft. long this seemed perfect for hauling time exploration equipment...
There are however some problems relating to sneaking out with such a beast. In fact, the museum had built a special set of temporary tracks to get the train in place.
In the end we settled on a smaller and more manageable piece, let the shenanigans begin!

DISCLAIMER We did not, in fact, steal any trains. Please don't report me to anyone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warm Crafting

It's wool time. It's time for warm fuzzy socks everyday, all day long. So I've been cranking up the winter season crafting!
This striping yarn with sparklies was a cool estate sale find. I got a huge bump of tweedy wool with four different colors laid out next to each other. I ran it thru the carder with mylar sparkles to blend it a bit and make it more fun! This funky yarn in perfect dark colors will make something warm and chunky...
I've been working on my stash of handspun for personal use, so the alpaca socks are finally becoming a reality. Don't let the fancy pattern fool you, these are still a basic sock pattern, the colorwork is not challenging. In fact, it makes the knitting go faster because one is obsessively knitting so that "I can see how the pattern turns out!".
Share the love this season, and knit something warm for your friends and family, or even for a charity that provides warmth to those in need. Everyone deserves to have at least one pair of lovingly hand-knit socks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Slipping Up

It's cold weather season. A cup of tea can warm hands and faces, but not do much for your feet. How about some fuzzy woolen slippers?
I happened to have a bag of sweaters which had met an unfortunate fate in a too-hot washing machine, and this child's sweater is a pathetic little blob of thick wool. Perfect for keeping toes cuddly!
I traced my feet a little big (these are for my boy, his feet are big!) onto faux suede then pinned that to the sweater as a template. I then cut the top front, slightly wider than the bottoms. The rest of the sweater yielded short strips to go around the back of the heel.
I cut a dart out of the top fronts, and sewed that up to make it three-dimensional. I then layered everything ("right" sides together) to start sewing! The suede is sitting in the middle because it will be the bottom. One could also use real leather, recycled denim, or any tough and not-too-slippery material for your base. I whip stitched all the way around joining the heel strips to the sides of my toe covers.
Turn them right side out and check your seams. I used quilting thread, and put a sturdy knot in every inch or so for longevity. Put them on and enjoy toasty feet!
Winter is a great time to upcycle any "oops I put that in a hot wash" wool goods. Have you made any warm things out of old sweaters?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Hallows' Eve Leftovers...

It's the morning after, only the crummy candy is left at the bottom of the bowl. But there are bags of it on sale at the local store, so the sugar high needn't stop just yet! If however, you wanted to have some real food without losing the spirit of the season, one need only look at the front porch!

I carved two curcubits this year, a traditional orange pumpkin and a gray skinned Hubbard squash. So the day after Halloween I let out some anger. Poor Jack-o-lanterns! They were mercilessly hacked to pieces in order to bake, peel and puree...
This is the Hubbard, very thick skinned, but firm enough to chunk up for freezing and cooking. The pumpkin was all pureed, I've already had pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, pumpkin chai... there was in all about 14 pounds of puree off a single pumpkin! And the Hubbard squash took about 5 cake pans full to be all chunked up and cooked.

But this bounty has already made it's way to the table as well! I will have to carefully sneak pumpkin ans squash into dishes for several weeks, after this holiday orgy of giant squash carving! I suspect there will be plenty ready to go for Thanksgiving for sure.

The ultimate winter food is soup. Which is also convenient to make in huge batches and freeze any survivors! Curried squash soup, spicy pumpkin soup, creamy Hubbard soup... Winter is not so bad right?

A good bit of the squash became mixed with bread and veggies for baked stuffing. It's the best in cold weather comfort food, and it taste even better the second day so make a big batch! My largest cake pan is barely enough...