Ta Ta for Now……

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We miss you Vermont! Send some snow our way.

I am taking a short break from the blog so I can focus on family and fun for the next two weeks. I have enjoyed sharing all of our travel adventures, my LYS finds, and my crafting and cooking creations with all of you. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! I look forward to being back in the new year!

-Christy

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Foodie Friday: Cranberry Citrus Muffins

CRANBERRY CITRUS MUFFINS

CRANBERRY CITRUS MUFFINS

The combination of cranberry and orange is timeless. The sweetness of the orange is the perfect balance to the tartness of the cranberry. I love cranberry orange bread, but I wanted something a little different. Also, muffins are much quicker in the morning than bread, so I came up with this recipe.

These muffins would be perfect for Christmas morning. The cranberries are a Christmas-like red and the citrus will help you wake up. These are perfect for making ahead of time and storing in a Ziploc bag. If you are making them more than a few days ahead you probably should freeze them to help maintain freshness.

You can use this recipe with no changes if you would rather have bread. You will probably have to bake it longer. Also, these are fairly tart muffins. If you don’t think you will like that you can decrease the amount of cranberries, cut them in half or increase the sugar to 1 full cup.

Cranberry Citrus Muffins

Yield: Approximately 12 standard size muffins

Wet Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsalted organic butter *Melted and cooled.

1 cup citrus juice. *I used 4 medium oranges and 1 small lemon. Use whatever mix you would like. Strain to remove seeds and pulp. If you are in a hurry you can purchase juice; just make sure its 100% juice no additives.

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg *Beat lightly before adding to other ingredients.

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp fine salt *If all you have is regular salt use even less. Test taste the batter if necessary.

Large pinch of ground cloves

8 oz pkg organic fresh cranberries.  * If using frozen, thaw and rinse.

Heat oven to 350. Grease muffins tins or loaf pan. Make sure to get a good coating on there.

Combine all dry ingredients except the cranberries into a large mixing bowl. Use a whisk to blend everything together.

In a smaller bowl combine all wet ingredients. Use a whisk or a spoon to combine.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Make sure to stir while doing this. I found a spatula works great for this part. Blend everything together while making sure you do not over mix. Once the dry ingredients look wet its time to stop.

When it looks like this stop! Over stirring creates tough muffins.

When it looks like this stop! Over stirring creates tough muffins.

Fold in 1/2 of the cranberries. (You can use the other half for your next batch!)

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The cranberries are such a pretty addition.

 

Spoon batter into prepared  tins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

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What do you all like to bake around Christmas time? I’d love to hear what your traditions are.

-Christy

 

Wooly Wednesday: Crochet Christmas Cowl Free Pattern

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A few days ago  I shared my tips on how to have a handmade Christmas and with those tips in mind I created this pattern. It takes me two days at most to finish one of these cowls and that is with running errands, doing laundry, making dinner etc. The high quality but not too expensive yarn makes this project great for gift giving. The size makes is perfect for everyday wear but it is long enough it can be worn doubled on a bitter cold day.

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Crochet has a tendency to be stiff so the choice of yarn for this pattern is important. I picked Cascades Cloud/Eco Cloud. The chain-like construction helps the piece drape and keep from becoming stiff. The yarn is a lovely mix of merino and baby alpaca and it runs around $15 a skein. $30 for a handmade Christmas gift is a steal! Rowan’s Lima would also be another great choice.  If you google “chainette yarn” you will find other options as well. Some are listed as bulky but they would still work well with this pattern if you increase your hook size.

The pattern is simple and straightforward. There are pictures after the pattern to make a few of the directions clearer. Please post any questions regarding the pattern in the comments. If crocheting isn’t your thing check out my Etsy shop where these cowls are for sale.

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Crochet Christmas Cowl

Materials:

2 Skeins Cascade Cloud or Eco Cloud (Worsted/Aran Weight, 164 yards per skein)

Size K/10.5 6.5mm Crochet Hook

Tapestry Needle

Finished Size: 9.5 inches wide, 50 inches around (approximately)

Abbreviations:

CH=Chain

SC= Single Crochet

DC=Double Crochet

Directions:

Chain 28.

SC into 2nd CH from hook. DC into same CH. (#1.) Skip next CH. SC, then DC into the next CH. Repeat this until the end.

Work a SC/DC in the last chain. CH 1, then turn.

SC into the hole created by the SC/DC from the previous row. DC into same space. Repeat this all the way across.

The last SC/DC is worked into the turning chain from the previous row. (#2.& #3.) CH 1, then turn.

Continue the SC/DC in the holes then CH 1 before you turn your work. (#4.)

Keep this going until you have used almost all of the yarn from both skeins. (#5.) Remember to leave yourself plenty of yarn to sew the ends together. If you would rather have a scarf with fringe on the ends then you will need an additional skein of yarn.

Use your tapestry needle to weave in the yarn tails. Then hold both ends of the finished piece together and sew. When the cowl is flipped inside out the seam is hardly noticeable. You are DONE!

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I hope you enjoy this pattern and it helps with your holiday gift giving.

-Christy

Favorite Five: A Handmade Christmas

Making those Christmas gifts.

Halloween is almost here, Thanksgiving menu planning is on my mind and preliminary gift giving lists are starting to make an appearance. Yes, Christmas will be here before you know it.

Since I have re-discovered my crafty side I have really tried to push the handmade gift envelope. However, like many others, I ended up staying up all hours of the night trying to finish something, or having to hand someone a card that says “hey your gift is coming…”. Being tired and stressed out or not having a real gift to give someone is not the best way to enjoy your holidays. Here are my five favorite tips for having a handmade Christmas

1. MAKE A LIST AND NARROW IT DOWN. Write out who you are planning on giving a gift to. Then think long and hard about who would appreciate a handmade gift and put them on a separate list.  Your time is precious- don’t waste it on someone who won’t completely love what you have made.

2. CHECK YOUR LIST TWICE. Just like Santa. After you initially narrow it down you might find that you still have a lot of people on your handmade gift list. Ask yourself some  more questions. Did you make them a handmade gift last year?  If yes then maybe they are off the handmade list this year. Did the person already indicate something specific they are hoping for? If someone asks for books or gift cards or whatever then that’s what you should get them. They will be happy and you will have more time.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. I am guilty of violating this one. In the daze of Christmastime joy, fueled with too many peppermint mochas, I convince myself I can do it all!! Then, inevitably, there I am frantically knitting a scarf in a bar on our way to a New Years Eve party. Look at your calendar and honestly ask yourself what are your commitments? How much free time do you have in a normal week? How long does it normally take you to make whatever it is you are planning on making? And when you are done estimating give yourself even less time because things always come up during the holidays.

4. PICK YOUR PATTERN WISELY. Now is not the time to try that complicated pattern with the fancy stitches you have been eyeing. Nor is it time to knit your Aunt that lace-weight shawl she has asked for. If you create things often you probably some patterns you have done before that you know are fairly straight forward and quick. If you are looking a new pattern you need to read through the whole thing. Are there stitches or instructions you don’t understand? Is it calling for anything less than DK weight yarn? Do not pick something outside of your skill set or you will be frustrated and end up with an unfinished gift. Sometimes I’ve seen a pattern rated “easy” or “beginner” and knew for me it was more in the “advanced” area. You know what you can do better than anyone else.

5. HAVE FUN. I know, that sounds super dorky but often in the craziness of trying to make or find the perfect gift all of the fun gets sucked right out of Christmas. Maybe you have several small kids at home or a demanding job. Christmas craftiness might not be for you. You can always designate your handmade gifts for birthdays. A throw pillow or blanket would be a great wedding or anniversary gift for a couple. When a friend has a baby that would be a great time for to make something special for her since most gifts are geared towards the new infant. And if you don’t have the time but still want to give something handmade check out sites like Etsy or Zibbet.

I hope this list helps you make your Christmas gift giving go a bit smoother. Happy Halloween everyone!

-Christy