new year cheer

We're passing these out to friends on New Year's Eve.
Most Perfect Cut-Out Cookies

1/2 cup butter for the flavor, nothing can beat butter for that
1/4 cup shortening for the texture, adds a crisp snap
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat first three ingredients until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients and mix in.  Form mixture into disk and cover in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least an hour.  Roll dough 1/8 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees F for 11 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer to racks to cool.  A simple family favorite.

Follow directions for Royal Icing on the Wilton Meringue Powder can.  Use #4 tip for writing.

I'm feeling very wistful and thoughtful about this year ending and a new one beginning.  It reminds me to take the opportunity to think about what I am thankful for and what I have to be grateful for.  So much, and I pray I never take it for granted.

Thank you all for visiting my blog over the year.  I appreciate all my readers, it means a lot to me that you stop by and I love it when you have time to comment.  Thank you so much and happy new year!  


A new year and a new header.  I was looking around for something to photograph for a header to replace the Santa header and decided to photograph this pillow. 
The pillow was made by my maternal grandmother, Pearl.  She came to California from Tennessee in the "teens" with her husband and 3 small boys.  They settled in Fillmore, California and became tomato growers and had 3 more boys and my mother. 
Pearl, as busy as she was, still managed to quilt and embroider.  This is an example of her handiwork.  Possibly made in the 20's, it's cotton sateen with silk embroidery with tinting on the leaves and the letters. 
In California we call this a pepper tree.  It's a beautiful evergreen tree with lovely papery red berries and thin leaves growing together in long droopy leaflet clusters.  The pepper berries seem to stay all year.  We have several in our neighborhood and I think they are mostly ornamental as I've never heard of anyone harvesting the peppercorns.

I never knew my grandmother, and surprisingly with her 7 children, she managed to have only one granddaughter, me, and since I grew up loving handiwork I have been lucky to inherit her handmade things plus her sewing basket and notions. 

I have more examples of her handiwork, one is an absolutely adorable Big Bad Wolf quilt that I will share with you soon.

I'm gonna be busy

My family knows me all too well.  My Christmas gifts were the tablecloth kits and yarn bundles below.  My family had a little help purchasing these gifts, wink wink.  I think they all thought it was pretty funny how giddy I was over my Christmas loot.

First, enough Rowan Alpaca Cotton for a tunic.
Noro Taiyo, cotton and silk for a summer shawl.  Love the bright pastels!

I fell in love with Isager yarn when I made my Volt.  A pullover and a scarf to match?  Add some beading?

Great yardage on Plymouth Mushishi for a shawl to wear at Christmas time.  I need more red in my wardrobe!

Noro Aya, cotton, silk and wool.  A striped pullover combined with some white Calmer in stash.
I also received two table cloth kits.  This first one was found on ebay, total cost including shipping was $11!  It's a 100% Belgium linen stamped cross stitch table cloth and came with the DMC floss. 
 The cloth is a creamy ivory and the floss is like old brass which will work well in my dining room.
It looks like the kit is from the 50s or 60s.

The linen is high quality and the edging is beautifully done.  Very happy with this!
The next table cloth will make you laugh.  You know I've made a Christmas table cloth before so I hardly need another.  But while doing research to see if my old cloth kit was still available, I found this new one on the Herrschner's web site and I fell in love. 
Had to have it.
Well, this ought to keep me busy for a while.

winning cashmere

I entered a blog give-away, I always do, never win, but this time, can you believe  I WON!  Something so gorgeous and extravagant, two beautiful skeins of medium gray fingering weight 100% cashmere yarn hand dyed by Laura Schickli of Handwerks.  It's beautiful.  I wish you could feel it, sooooooo soft. 

The pattern I choose for this needs to be very special. I'd like it to be around my neck and shoulders, so I can feel it and touch it constantly.  I can't wait to get started on it.  I'm looking at Lisa Mutch's Uncommon Clouds designs.  Perhaps I'm influenced by the color, but aren't they simply beautiful?
 I think the yarn is perfect for Nimbus above.
but I also love Askew. 

I'm also thinking that maybe something lacy would be pretty.  I have 400 yards of fingering weight cashmere yarn.  Do you have any ideas?  I'd love to know what you think.  This will be my first time knitting with 100% cashmere and you can imagine I want the perfect project!

Thank you Laura for the wonderful gift.  I've used the lovely Handwerks yarn before, a silky merino blend when I made Exposed, pattern coincidentally by Lisa Mutch, and I love it.

still merry and bright

I've got something to share that may surprise you, I know it surprised me.  In California we can have roses pop up at any time, but nothing like this in December!  With all our frosty mornings I was still able to pick these bright bouquets.  The first is Simplicity Red picked from 5 bushes outside our bedroom.  In my northern California garden with full sun exposure it grows to 6 feet and blooms about 6 times a year and is disease free.  An amazing rose that I highly recommend.

Below is Simplicity Pink.  I have a hedge of 25 of these in our front yard.  They get trimmed after blooming, about 6 times a year, with electric hedge clippers just as you would trim any hedge.  It immediately starts setting buds and blooms and in a month or two and I get hundreds of blooms from each bush.  For me, this blooms more often and with more flowers than the red, but is not as hardy as it gets spots on the leaves and can get powdery mildew.  In spring with the first spring bloom, it will be a hedge of solid pink, very pretty.

I'm spending the day brushing crumbs and glitter from every surface and am working on a post to show you my yarny Christmas gifts. 


Our treasured family nativity.  I played with this as a child, gifted to me a few years ago by mother.  Merry Christmas and happy happy holidays to all my readers!

my showy travel knit

My husband and I went on a quick get-a-way to Las Vegas.  My husband likes to gamble, and me, I just think the town is beautiful.  I love the city's exuberance, the way it looks, the way it feels, the place is energizing!  But as much as we both like Las Vegas, we sometimes feel a little allergic to crowds.  Their most quiet week of the year is the week before Christmas so off we went.  And really, it wasn't quiet at all, only perhaps by Las Vegas standards.

We had the BEST time, sometimes I had to pinch myself.  We saw two wonderful shows and had two wonderful dinners, one night at Delmonico's and the next at Bouchon.  Gahh, just perfect.
We stayed again at the beautiful Venetian (all the rooms are suites and they have great specials all time time, not kiddin', we stayed for $110 a night)  I found this cozy little spot above and settled in for a few hours of knitting while hubby gambled.
Knitting in public is an invitation for people to smile at you and come over and tell you how their grandma knit them caps, socks, sweaters.  I tell them knitting is in fashion with young people now and they can't believe it.  This scarf got everyone's attention, it's quite showy, just like Las Vegas.
Kidsilk Haze Stripe with colors by the color genius Kaffe Fassett, which is a perfect segue to...
 ...the beautiful Chihuly glass ceiling in the Bellagio.  Our last day we visited the Bellagio just to see their Christmas displays in their famous atrium garden.
 The Bellagio gets my Christmas Spirit award.  Their displays were unbelievably gorgeous
carpeted with thousands of ruffled poinsettias.
 Everything is on a massive scale.  I stayed in the atrium for and hour to ogle.

 The polar bears and gingerbread house were made of carnations.
I have come home to enjoy the week before Christmas in a quiet way... a fire to sit by with candles lit, a little knitting, a little baking.   Sigh.

owl gallery

I had so much fun creating my granddaughter's Christmas gift this year.
Little pillows for her bedroom were inspired by these from the Pioneer Woman and
also by these from Pottery Barn Kids.  I was able to make up my own pattern and use scraps of what I had around here to match her bedroom's black/lime/white color scheme.  You can make these, even if you don't think you are handy at the sewing machine.  They are very easy and took less than two hours for both.
I found this beautiful little leather owl purse at Therapy in Downtown Los Altos.  The owl hat by Bonnie Jacobs is from this free pattern and the Peekaboo Mitts pattern by Abi Conners is also free.  I used one skein of Malabrigo Rios in Lettuce for both the mitts and hat.  My Ravelry link is here.

Take care and see you soon!

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Favorite Cardigan

Joy to the world!  A gift is finished in time to ship and be there well before December 25th!  Now I hope it fits and she loves it.  Ravelry link for some modifications.

I have an owl ensemble to share soon and some other knitted gifts finished but cannot share over this space quite yet.  I have two gifts left to finish, still working on my son's hoodie and a pair of Peekaboo mittens for his girlfriend.  Those don't have to be mailed and am feeling no panic!

Gingerbread House decorating party

We decorated gingerbread houses last week.  SO FUN!  I'm going to share my super secret recipe for the most perfect gingerbread house decorating party.  Please pay careful attention.
Assemble your little house the night before so the icing will harden up and will withstand heavy-handed candy application!
 First, invite the three most adorably cute and sweetest little sisters visiting from Australia.
Next, put lots and lots of candy out in nana's cut crystal bowls.  Cut crystal is the key here.  This is a very fancy occasion and if there ever is a time to make use of your pretty things, it is for candy at Christmas time.  Little girls notice the sparkly table and are very appreciative guests. 
 Add giggles.
 And also add one great-grandmommy.
When finished, present these candy cottages to the daddies and grandaddies.
My recipe is for very sturdy gingerbread, perfect for building projects.  It does taste really good though, and if you plan on eating and not building, you can bake it for less time and it won't be as hard.  I've passed this recipe on to many people and every one has good luck with it so I'd love to know if you use it. 

Gingerbread House Recipe

Bring to a boil: 3/4 C shortening, 6 oz (3/4 C) molasses, 3/4 C sugar, 1 1/2 Tbls. vinegar
Pour this mixture into a heavy duty mixer and add: 4 1/2 C flour, 3/4 t. salt, 3/4 t. soda, 1 t. ginger, 1 t. cinnamon.  Add 2 eggs and mix.  Dough is best worked soon or it will be difficult to handle.  Roll 1/8" thick and cut shapes.  Bake at 350 F for approximately 20 minutes.  Loosen cookies with spatula, turn off oven and return cookies to oven to rest for about an hour to harden. 

Use Royal Icing to act as the edible glue to assemble houses together and affix candy.  I use Wilton Meringue Powder and powdered sugar and follow the recipe on the container.

Over the years I have made perhaps a thousand of these 8" men.  I'm not kidding.
This makes about twelve 8" men or three 6" houses.  My house cookie cutters are from Wilton years ago, a quick internet search and I found quite a few, but they seemed bigger than this one I have.  I double the recipe above and have made dozens for parties in past years.  You can start baking these in October and store in shirt boxes and assemble the night before you plan on decorating.   Recipe is easily doubled.

My son had a gingerbread decorating party every year until he was 18.  It was a tradition even the cool teens were reluctant to give up!

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