Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Whaddaya Mean One Week?!?!

I promised I'd let you know how far behind on Christmas I am, and so here goes.

I'm very behind, but I am catching up (I hope).

Normally, I start planning in October. Nothing too intensive, but I enjoy daydreaming in October about cookie recipes and handmade gifts. This year, I got as far as buying my usual baking magazine about November sometime, gave it a brief flip-through, and got back to work.

Usually in November, I have a spreadsheet put together so that I don't forget which people I am buying/making what thing(s) for.

I threw something together in the way of a spreadsheet in early December.

This week, I started gift knitting, which is definitely something I usually start in November or earlier. Now, I only have two items to knit, and they should be quick (I love Worsted weight yarn for this), but I'm only mostly through the first one so far.

Now, I did start one thing early, in September, but I won't be able to tell you about that one just yet (if no-one else pops by the blog on a given day, my Mom sure will, and I'm keeping your present a complete secret Mom, so you can keep on visiting. I even have cute pictures of grandkids today).

So what can I tell you about what I have been doing?

Well, we kicked off Christmas plans at our house by pulling out the advent box so that the kids could set out all manner of stuffed toys, books, videos, and odds and ends. We baked with Grandma, and then ate leftover icing.

For the St. Nicholas Day weekend, we met up at my Mother and Father-in-law's place for a party with friends of the family. I made Olliebollen for the first time. It's a traditional Dutch doughnut that is eaten on New Year's. Grandma had chocolate initials for everyone, which is another Dutch tradition (this is all very sweet, because I was the only one there of Dutch heritage, and, well, what can I say but it's lovely of my Mother-in-Law to make it a special day like that. She's quite good at Christmas, and I'm pretty sure not nearly as behind on things as I am).

This past weekend, we finally started the baking that is usually underway by early December with a batch of gingerbread (we should really get the rest of them iced tonight), and, on my eldest's insistence, a fruit cake.

Now, my daughter loved the idea of trying fruit cake, and we couldn't just buy some (nut allergy), so we modified a recipe to use apple juice instead of brandy (though I should have tripled the juice I think), raisins, apricots, mixed peel, and lots of coconut. (My husband abhors candy cherries. I'm not sure we're supposed to admit they exist, let alone bake with them).

The resulting cake, not meant to keep long like a traditional fruit cake, is not quite so moist as might be desired, (hence my note to add more juice), but not half bad either, is very lemony and was topped with cream cheese icing last night.

Now, as for gifts, the other day I told my husband I worked all day, but had nothing to show for it, because I worked on one of his presents, and so couldn't show him. However, I have exacted from him a no-peeking-at-the-blog promise, so I can show you:

I don't normally do much embroidery, and this is my first go at cross-stitch in particular. The pattern is from World of Geekcraft, which has several amusing projects. While the pipe in the pattern is meant be brown to more closely resemble the painting, I enjoyed the Mario green version. It was very fun, but took a bit longer than I thought it would, so I'm behind on my sewing plans (which I will tell you about soon).

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