Noel

December 23, 2023


I'm popping in for a quick post to share some knitting and baking inspiration and to wish you happy holidays! I've got two obsessions on the needles right now, the new Yule Do, above from Isabel Kraemer. I love the Christmas trees, dreidels and swags of garland and as soon as I saw it I had to drop everything and cast on. When the colorwork yoke was over, I was actually having fun and not quite ready to be done with colorwork, so felt compelled to cast on for another stranded design below, Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter. I've owned this pattern for a few years and always wanted to make it. I even had the perfect yarn in my stash. 

Now that the yoke colorwork is done here too, I am going to buckle down and knit the mile of stocking stitch that both require (and I do love), although there is a bit more colorwork pattern on the sleeves of Sunset to look forward to. Both are knit in fingering weight wool and will be very comfy in my mild climate.


Two sweaters I've been wearing non stop this December are the crazy popular Field Sweater by Camila Vad below, and farther down the new crew neck version of the Weekender by Andrea Mowry. Love both and soon I'll have modeled pictures and make posts to share here.



To fill the Christmas cookie jar I made easy-peasy icebox cookies with rainbow nonpareils and elegant Swedish Pearl Sugar.  And it cannot be Christmas without a big batch of toffee


Lastly I made pepperkaker that I packed away for the decorating party we'll have when the family arrives.

Yesterday morning I went to the butcher shop ten minutes before they opened to be the first  in line to pick up my meat. I was number eight and by the time the shop opened there was at least 25 more! Everyone was jolly and chatty and happy to share their notions of the most perfect Christmas day dinner. Each and everyone had a different idea! Next I ran to the drugstore to pick up gift cards, the bank for cash, then to the supermarket for the last of my shopping. I was back home by 10AM with an entire day left for cookie making. Last night we had a very soothing chicken soup and a cozy evening of tv and knitting, favorite activities for moi any time of the year. On Christmas Eve I'm making slow cooker beef stew, a family favorite and my husband's idea and absolutely no one in line at the butcher shop was making stew on Christmas Eve! I got on board when I realized it was a perfect no-watch meal that will allow us plenty of freedom to wrap presents, tidy up, prep, and attend any church service we choose. This could be the start of a new tradition. Christmas Day I'm making my Swedish grandmother's recipe for veal birds or "boneless birds" (another item no one else in line was making). Nana made them much like German Rouladen with onion, bacon and a pickle and at some time she switched from veal to beef, and beef is what I use today. Oh what a sweet memory that is. Nana was a recent widow, I was a newlywed, and my father was a dashing bachelor who wanted his mother to teach his daughter his favorite dishes for posterity. She came to stay for a few days and our first stop was the Scandinavian Shop in Menlo Park, now gone, where she bought me rosette irons and a spritz cookie press. I also remember we had to buy special spices, cardamom, nutmeg, and Beau Monde spice were three I remember and now always keep. I also grow dill every spring because of her influence. That weekend we made rosettes, spritz, fattigman, the boneless birds and also meatballs in cream sauce, aka Swedish Meatballs. It's one of my dearest and most treasured memories.

Friends, here's to making new special memories! Whether you're having a quiet Christmas at home or an over-crowded holiday miles from home (or a version of either) I hope your heart is filled with the spirit of the season--love, hope and joy.

But one last thing before I go, my dear friend and choir director makes learning a new song or singing an old favorite even more interesting by giving us some background on the song; either an experience in the songwriter's life or world events at the time that would then inspire a song. One of my favorite stories is about Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Enjoy!

Composer Irving Berlin faced many challenges in his life. When he was just 5 years old, his family fled Russia to escape Jewish persecution. He began his career as a 16-year-old street singer in Manhattan, but soon became a sought-after composer. When he was 24 years old, a beautiful young singer named Dorothy Goetz auditioned for him. She didn’t get the gig, but she won the heart of Berlin! Soon he proposed to the nineteen-year-old. He called her his perfect rose, and told her that life with him would always be the proverbial bed of roses. Following the wedding, the young couple honeymooned in Havana. It was there that the bride contracted typhoid. Dorothy Goetz Berlin died of typhoid in 1912 less than a year after their wedding. Irving Berlin was inconsolable for many months and stopped writing songs. Eventually, though, driven to create, he returned to song-writing. In memory of Dorothy, he had a single white rose delivered to her grave every other day for the next twelve years, only stopping when he met and married his second wife, Ellin Berlin. They would be married for sixty-two years and have four children. In yet another tragic event, however, their only son, 3-week-old Irving Jr. died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) on Christmas Day in 1928. 


Despite his immense talent as a composer, Berlin never learned to read music and was so clumsy at chord changes on the piano that he could only play in the key of F-sharp. Underneath the keyboard was a special transposing lever that made the key changes for him. Despite those shortcomings, he was one of the most prolific composers of the twentieth century.  He wrote music for 11 Broadway shows, and his most popular songs included the classic “God Bless America” made famous by Kate Smith. 


During their long marriage, Ellin Berlin became used to her husband’s erratic hours. He often came home from the studio, excited about his compositions — that is, when he wasn’t disappointed in them! One morning, Irving returned home from an all-night composing session. Despite his exhaustion, he was as excited as she had ever seen him. Proudly he announced, “I have just written the best song I’ve ever written. Heck, it’s the best song ANYONE has ever written!” That song was “White Christmas.” Berlin was not mistaken in his assessment. With 50 million copies sold, not only is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" the best-selling Christmas song of all time, it's also the best-selling single ever, according to Guinness World Records. 


Irving Berlin lived to age 102, dying shortly after he lost his beloved Ellin. In the course of his life, he overcame hardships and sorrow. Even today, his legacy lives on in his wonderful music!


Terry Williams


Here's a favorite clip of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas in the movie with the same name.

I'll be back in the new year with lots of knitting content and maybe even Nana's recipe for boneless birds and meatballs with cream sauce! Blessings to you dear readers, and if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry one, and if you don't, I send you good tidings. xo Kristen

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6 Comments

  1. What a beautiful post!! I have no family and will be spending Christmas alone, so thank you for sharing some reflections of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, a beautiful post! And am off to My early morning grocery errand. Thank you for the White Christmas link! Have a very happy holiday and Christmas! Chloe

    ReplyDelete
  3. P.S. The Yule Do is brilliant! Chloe

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wish you and your family a Very Happy Christmas.
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  5. What beautiful memories you have and you are making. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
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