mod bkgd

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

biding my time in minnesota, still sadly snowless

Happy Holidays to all

Christmas was filled with merriment, Scrabble, books, and way too many cookies. The only thing missing was knitting-related. Next year I need to point Santa towards this list over at the Yarn Harlot.

I started Wavy yesterday, using red Plymouth Suri Merino. I'm not sure that this pattern is truly yarn-worthy. It's a bit tedious -- just knit and purl, but it involves constant row-counting and pattern checking. It may be headed for the frogpond. I would like to find a slightly lacy pattern to coordinate this scarf with the red hat I made last week, not the one in the pic below, but the one from a few posts ago.

A completed Lace-Edged Women's Hat in size large, which is quite big indeed. It may be destined to grace my mother's generously-proportioned noggin.

The beginnings of a Marsan Watchcap, about to enter the frogpond.
I don't have enough of this hand-me-down mystery yarn to finish it, plus I don't like how the variegations are turning out, and the texture is rather rough. All those twisted stitches have been a little rough on the hands and wrists with this yarn.

Kylie Cat just loved all the preparations for Christmas, as well as the fleece catnip mice and paper shopping bags that Santa left for her.

I paid a visit to Needlework Unlimited on Dec. 24, and it was hopping! Who would have suspected that so many knitters would be trolling the LYS? What a great yarn store. There's a huge variety here -- solid-color workhorse basics, luxurious hand-dyed yarn, delicate laceweight, etc. They carry tons of patterns. None of the Chicago knitting stores have the amazing variety and range that this place does. I came away with some Jaggerspun Zephyr laceweight, some Cashsoft for a hat, and Jamieson's for those Squirrelly Swedish Mittens that have been on my to-knit list for quite some time.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

final Christmas Cookie recipe

Here you go... Mom's Nut Balls. The recipe is written down in my dad's handwriting, but I thought it was a little distressing to call them Dad's Nut Balls. Maybe we should just call them Russian Tea Cakes.

1 C butter
½ C powdered sugar
½ T. vanilla
2 1/8 C. flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ C. finely chopped nuts

Mix in order listed. Chill dough. Roll into 1” balls. Place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool. Roll again.

Makes 2.5 dozen

Merry Christmas to all!

blogging from Minnesota, sadly snowless

I made it safely to Minnesota, and I was sorely disappointed by the lack of snow. We did, however, arrive just in time for my brother's birthday dinner. He just turned the big 45, so I was glad to be here for moral support. After dinner we watched a movie of his choosing -- XXX, starring the indomitable Vin Diesel. Quite the film, I tell you.

Today's cookie recipe features eggs in a rather unusual form -- hard-cooked. This makes a small batch, so feel free to double it!


Norwegian Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

2 hard-cooked egg yolks
1/4 C. sugar
1 C. flour
1/2 C. butter
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter. Rub egg yolks through a fine mesh strainer. Add to creamed butter. Add sugar, part of flour, and mix/knead well. Add rest of flour. Add almond extract. When mixed well, shape dough into small balls. Roll in colored sugar. Place on ungreased pan. Keep an eye on them while baking -- probably about 8 minutes.

Friday, December 22, 2006

cookies, glorious cookies

Good thing I'm heading to Minnesota tomorrow and can share the abundance of cookies! I'm really looking forward to going home, not just to see family, but also to see friends. One has a new baby, one has a new house AND is expecting, and one has a great new job as a film editor. My New Year's party is at a friend's lake home, and the plan is to ice skate, but it's uncertain if the lake will be frozen by then. Hopefully Jack Frost will stop slacking off and get to work. Crack the whip, Old Man Winter!

Today's recipe is a great one. It makes a small batch, so you may want to double it if you're baking for a crowd.
Kanelkakor ~ Swedish Walnut-Cinnamon Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/3 C. butter, room temperature
2/3 C. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1.25 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ C. finely chopped walnuts
2 T. cinnamon
2 T. sugar

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light. Sift flour with baking powder and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Add to the creamed mixture, blending well. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the walnuts, 2 T. cinnamon, and 2 T. sugar in a small bowl.

Shape chilled dough into balls the size of walnuts. Roll each ball in the walnut-cinnamon mixture. Place on prepared baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden and set. Do not overbake.

This recipe is from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas (University of Minnesota Press, 1988)
Beth sent me a great holiday package for the SOSF ornament swap. Such cute little reindeer! Thanks, Beth! It's looking very festive around here now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

blue skye at morn

That's right -- another skye cap. The lace pattern is far more distinct this time. I'm using Plymouth Suri Merino again.

Things that are making me happy:

  • The new Anthropologie store that's just a short, 10-minute walk from my apartment. Fabulous for finishing off the Christmas shopping! Plus they're handing out these cute little yarn ball present toppers. Supposedly they contain a little snowflake ornament within; I'm resisting the urge to open one up and find out for certain. Anthropologie has not always appealed to me, but this new store has changed my mind.
  • The darling pom pom wreath on Kristin Nicholas' blog. It's colorful and whimsical, and it's a great way to use up odd bits of yarn. I'm going to enlist my mother's help in crafting oodles of pom poms while I'm home. I predict that next Christmas I'll be gifting many a wreath.
  • Ellie's army of Korknisse. 'Nuf said.
Grandma’s Sugar Cookies

1 C. butter, salted
1.5 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3.5 C. unbleached all-purposed flour, sifted
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Cream butter; add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Sift or whisk dry ingredients together; add gradually to creamed mixture. Chill thoroughly – at least 2 hours, or overnight. Roll out on well-floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool, then frost and decorate.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

my favorite Christmas treat

My brother likes these so well that he requests them in lieu of birthday cake. Enjoy!

Swedish Kringler Bars


Crust:
1/3 C. butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 C. flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 to 3 T. water

Cut butter into flour and salt using a pastry blender or the pulse function on a food processor. Add water gradually while stirring with a fork just until dough can be formed. Form into a square. Coat well with flour. Roll out on cookie sheet to a 14 x 18 inch rectangle.

Topping:
½ C. butter
1 C. water
1 C. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. almond extract
3 eggs
¼ C. sliced almonds

Melt butter in water. Stir in flour and salt. Cook stirring constantly until very thick and mixture leaves sides of pan. Add almond extract and egg, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in almonds. Spread over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Frost warm. Sprinkle additional sliced almonds over the icing if desired. Cut into strips or bars using a pizza wheel.

Icing:
1 C. powdered sugar
2 T. butter, softened
1 T. milk
½ tsp. almond extract

Beat until smooth.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

coconut cookie bon bons

Much better! Here's the Skye cap in natural light. It took just under 1 skein (120 yds, I think) of Plymouth Suri Merino. I used US 6 Clover bamboo straight needles.

Know what this is? I'm guessing you only do if you're either a) Scandinavian-American, or b) Minnesotan. Today was lefse day! Lefse is essentially a Scandinavian potato tortilla. My father just loves the stuff, and I enjoy a piece or two (or three), usually with a good cup of coffee. In my family we usually spread it with butter and sprinkle it with sugar. I add a little cinnamon if I'm feeling extra sassy. My friend (a fellow Minnesota native) and I made 11 cups worth of riced potatoes into lefse in about 1.5 hours. That must be some sort of record.

Cookie recipe of the day:
Coconut Cookie Bon Bon

3/4 C. cold mashed potatoes -- make with water instead of milk or use instant but add less water than directed

Add:
4 C. (1 lb) powdered sugar
4 C. flaked coconut (sweetened)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Shape into balls and refrigerate at least one hour.

Melt over double boiler:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 square baking chocolate, unsweetened
1/2 bar parafin wax

Dip balls in chocolate and allow to cool on waxed paper.
Paul's showing off the finished product. He always pitches in with cookies that require dipping -- I hate that part. What a good sport!

Monday, December 18, 2006

red skye at night

Here's a Skye Cap on the needles. I'm using Plymouth Suri Merino again, and the color is rich and beautiful, a bright cherry or ruby red color, with not a hint of orange to it. I'll have to get a picture of the finished hat in the daylight. There's an inset lace panel just above the ribbing. Apparently my counting skills have declined since my kindergarten days, since I had some trouble with the lace pattern. I can't bring myself to rip it back to fix a couple mistakes, but I might knit another one to master the pattern.

I picked up a little early Christmas present for myself the other day. I found a great deal on this baby. My grandmother had a red set of Le Creuset cookware; my aunt still uses it.

Today's recipe is Paul's favorite. He's always in charge of dipping the truffles. They may not be the most decorative cookies, but they are absolutely delicious.


Cookies & Cream Truffles

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

4 C. chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos), crushed

12 oz. almond bark/ white candy coating (* you may substitute 2 C. white chocolate chips + 1 T. shortening)

Beat cream cheese with a mixer until fluffy; blend in crushed cookies. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll dough into one-inch balls. Melt almond bark in a double boiler or a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Dip balls into mixture to coat. Place on wax paper to set; store in refrigerator. Makes 2-1/2 dozen.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

cookie recipe #3

The holiday baking extravaganza was a success! Exhausting, but highly productive and a lot of fun. Here's one of today's recipes.

Buckeyes

1 lb butter

2 lbs peanut butter

3 lbs powdered sugar

24 oz chocolate chips, semisweet

1/2 bar paraffin


Melt butter, mix with peanut butter and powdered sugar. Roll into balls, chill 1 hour.

Melt chocolate and paraffin, stick toothpick in ball, dunk into chocolate. Chill. Makes about 150 or so.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What have I been up to?

Here's the answer:
a little of this

a little of this

a lot of that

Way too much gift wrapping, and I'm not quite done.

Here's today's cookie recipe, another German family favorite.

Hazelnut Macaroons

Ingredients:
6 egg whites
4 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. ground hazelnuts
Colored sugar, for decorating

Directions:
Beat 6 egg whites stiff (for about 15 minutes). Add 4 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla, beat until mixed -- save a small portion of this for use later.

Fold 1 pound ground hazelnuts into above major mixture. Gently is the key word here!

Drop above mixture on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for about 6 minutes.

Put a small dollop of egg white/sugar mixture on top of the hazelnut cookies, and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 2 minutes more.

Friday, December 15, 2006

a cookie a day

I'm going to post a cookie recipe each day between now and Christmas! I'm hosting a baking extravaganza at my apt. on Sunday. I've been digging into my recipe box and cookbooks (especially my late grandmother's annotated church cookbooks), and I've been emailing my mom for some favorite recipes.

This recipe is a traditional German favorite: Pfefferneuse ("Peppernuts"). My family's version is rather unique, I think, in that they're rolled out and frosted rather than formed into balls and dusted with powdered sugar. Also, they have no oil or butter in them. If you use butter in your powdered sugar frosting, that will contribute some fat. The frosting softens these cookies up. I usually store them in tins.

Pfeffernuesse

3 beaten eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp soda in ¼ cup hot water
1 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 cups flour or until stiff

Mix all ingredients together. Roll out on floured board and cut into wreaths. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Frost with a powdered sugar frosting and decorate with green sprinkles and red cinnamon candies.

Miles to go

Mia referred to a poem by Carl Sandburg that really affected me when I first read it: "Fog." Creative use of figurative language draws me to literature. It's one of my favorite things to think about as I read. Anyway, I thought I would share a winter poem today.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go... I can relate to that, especially today. There's a mountain of tasks to accomplish, some fun, some not-so-fun: wrapping, decorating, cleaning, organizing, marketing, and going to the dreaded post office.

Last night I went to Chicago's annual Christkindlmarket with Paul and friends. We enjoyed some gluehwein (spiced, mulled wine) and potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream. The sweet shop is definitely the best of the stands there; it's really more of a global market since there are stands selling sweaters from South America and the like. I picked up a cute little straw mobile for my dining room.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas terror

This little guy gives me the creeps. Those eerie little eyes! The too-high, uneven eyebrows!

Paul's parents gave each son an ornament every year. Many of them are very cute, especially the ones from when Paul was very little. But some of them...

This elf/gnome creature is the most terrifying by far.* As Paul grew older, his mother selected ornaments that reflected his interests and hobbies: two different versions of Santa playing tennis, a saxophone decorated with holly, a glass beer mug covered with glitter, a blown glass Green Bay Packer... WOW! We could have quite the tree if I were willing to put up all of those babies.

* I think it reminds me of a very creepy tidbit involving an elf figurine sitting in the woods and singing on an episode of Siffl and Ollie.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

decking the halls

I whipped up this cute little Korknisse last night. Ellie mentioned that she would like to knit up a whole army of them; I think I would be hampered by a lack of corks. I've been reverting to my old favorites lately, the gin & tonic, 7 & 7, vodka tonic, and vodka cranberry, so we don't have any wine corks to spare! I don't think you could make as cute an ornament with the metal cap from a bottle of Stoli. This little guy is heading out to my buddy in the Knit the Classics holiday ornament swap.

Speaking of the KTC holiday ornament swap, look at what arrived here yesterday. So, so cute, and so, so tiny! Thanks, Kristen! She also sent along some yummy dark chocolate (mmm) and a book, Skipping Christmas. Here are a couple more of my contributions for ornament swaps:


I'm knitting up a quick and easy broken rib scarf as a Christmas gift. I'm using some Noro Cash Iroha from my stash, and I'm not too impressed so far. It has some odd slubs in it, and it's not as soft as my favorite Malabrigo. Oh well, perhaps it will bloom after a nice bath. It coordinates nicely with one of my favorite African violets.

I tried using this yarn for two other patterns. First I attempted the Bejeweled scarf by Shobhana. Lolly mentioned it in her blog a few days ago and is hosting an informal knitalong. Well, apparently I just can't read a pattern. I think I keep messing up the psso. Next I tried the Toasty Twisty pattern, and I couldn't do the darn right twist. Apparently it was not my night for trying new things in the knitting realm.

Back on the subject of plants, I think it's time for me to admit defeat and get rid of a few. I have a soft spot in my heart for living things, and I tend to take my friends' unwanted and unloved plants off their hands. You know what? I don't want or love most of them either, even when I've nurtured them back to health!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

another hat



The London Beanie is finito! It turned out fairly well, and the Lang Zoom yarn is quite soft and easy to work with. I'm going to knit another in grey with a blue stripe, and I'll put the stripe closer to the ribbing.

The stats
Pattern: London Beanie, by Mark Thrailkill, modified by Maureen

Yarn: Lang Zoom, a little more than half a skein of light blue and just a tiny bit of light grey

Needles: Clover US 6 16" circs, Clover US 7 16" circs, Brittany birch US 6 dpns (I should have used size 7 dpns, but I don't have any)

Notes: I changed the stripe pattern, and it hits a little too high up on the head.

Friday, December 08, 2006

silk garden beanie

It's done! It's a little short, and I have a little yarn leftover, so I'm kicking myself for starting the decreases so soon.
The lone bloom on my Christmas cactus this year and two more ornaments that just arrived for the Holiday Ornament Swap! The bird is so cute and funky, and the embroidery on the rectangular one is just lovely.

holiday favorites

It's that time of year again! I'm starting my Christmas shopping this afternoon.
If you're looking for some holiday cheer, I highly recommend Celestial Seasonings' Candy Candy Cane Lane tea. This stuff is awesome. I buy it by the boatload in December so that I can drink it nearly year-round. Trader Joe's Cranberry Stollen is pretty darn good -- it's not quite as good as the stollen that my German grandmother used to make, but it has the added bonus of a marzipan filling.
The cats have been fighting and pointedly ignoring each other for a few days. They finally seem to have reconciled, in large part due to the chilly temperatures here in Chicago.

Another holiday favorite:
Bob Newhart is just awesome in this movie. If you don't like Will Ferrell, there's still a very good chance that you will enjoy this playful and light-hearted flick.

Reconciliation

I listened to my first podcast today. I can see why people are hooked on these things! Jana recommended The Knitting Cook podcast in a recent post, so I checked it out, and I give it a thumbs-up. This would be great in the car -- now I just need to get one of those iPod/car broadcast system thingies. Santa? Are you listening?

run, don't walk

The new Knitty is up!

I'm loving:
- Tiffany
- Corazon
- Piggle

There has definitely been a colorwork bug going around.

the times, they are a'changing

Yahoo! Avatars
Winter break is here, and I am loving it! I'm going to be playing around with the format of the ol' blog and redoing my links over the next few days, so please bear with me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

best. secret. pal. ever.

She is spoiling me rotten!!!!I have a bounty of reading materials for winter break now:
  • Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa at Home; I bought Ina's first cookbook as a wedding gift for a friend a few years ago, and I could barely part with it. All of these recipes have a limited number of ingredients, and they seem very do-able, even on a week night. On my must-try list: Mexican Chicken Soup, Shrimp Bisque, and PB & J Bars.
  • Kate Atkinson's Case Histories. I really enjoyed her first book, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, so I have had my eye on this one for a while.
  • Melissa McConnell's Evidence of Love. I read a great review of this novel.
  • Kristin Nicholas' Colorful Stitchery. This is such a neat and unusual embroidery book. Nichols has a great eye for color, and her project ideas are fun and fresh. There are no frills or pastels here. There's an online SAL for the book.
And, for good luck, she sent me a little Lucky Cat figurine, who will grace my desk in the study with his presence while I prepare for my last prelim exam over the next couple months. There's also a booklet that explains the history of the Lucky Cat, Maneki Neko, a symbol of prosperity that originated in Japan and spread throughout Asia. Now that I think about it, there are quite a few of them in the Thai restaurant half a block away!

Maneki Neko hangs out with my latest WIP, a beanie out of Silk Garden to go with the latest MD scarf, a holiday gift for a friend of mine. Alas, so far only the dull colors have shown up.

I'm trying to clear out some WIPs and knit a few holiday gifts before I start in on my Hourglass sweater. I've had a Mason-Dixon baby kimono on the needles for quite some time. I picked it up again today, and I just don't like knitting with cotton very well. When it's done, it's done -- no pressure -- then no more cotton for me.

My brother-in-law requested a handknit hat for the holidays. He was kind of a hoot, because he was so specific. He wants a light blue beanie-style hat with a medium-wide light grey stripe. And he wants it to be machine-washable. I found a pattern that looks great via Flower City Knits, the London Beanie. I'm going to futz with the stripe and follow Maureen's modifications, since my BIL is also a member of the large-headed crew.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find nice light blue and light grey worsted weight washable wool or wool-blend yarn in Chicago? I looked while we were in Milwaukee, too, and had no luck there. I was hoping to buy either Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran or Rown Cashsoft Aran (both of which I've heard a lot about but never tried), but no such luck. Apparently all of those yarns were shipped back to the distributor after the cashmere scandal to be re-labeled. UGH!!! The shops are just now getting some back in stock, but not in my desired colors.

I ended up buying something that was expensive and not quite what I wanted -- Lang's Zoom in heather lt/med blue and heather lt. grey.
The ornaments from the Holiday Ornament Swap have begun to arrive. Aren't they lovely? I especially like the little mittens on a clothesline.

Now we just need a tree! Father Christmas (AKA Paul) must trek down to the dark and dingy basement storage unit to bring up the Christmas boxes. Can you tell how much I love the storage unit? Like taking out the trash and taking care of spiders, this falls within Paul's area of expertise. Surprisingly enough, the cats' litter box falls within my domestic realm.

Eunny has finished her pattern for the Anemoi Mittens! They are so beautiful -- I'm picturing them in dark blue and cream or pearl grey.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On the knitting front

Here's my contribution to Larissa's Meathead KAL, pre-embellishment.


Pattern: Meathead, by Larissa Brown
Needles: US 15 plastic Lion brand single points
Yarn: Plymouth Galway Chunky, color 129, doubled
Size: Large

Notes
The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. It was a very quick knit due to the HUGE gauge. The large size is quite humongous, too big for my fairly large noggin. Despite being a fun knit, the finished product is not exactly flattering in appearance when on the head. Knit with smaller gauge it would be very cute and pixie-like on a small child. After I embellish it and post a photo on flickr, I'll be frogging this baby.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well I liked Plymouth Galway. It's some pretty nice stuff. I knit a baby blanket out of Plymouth Encore a while ago, and it soured me on the Plymouth brand for a while. But between the Suri Merino and the Galway, I may be back on the Plymouth bandwagon.

Also, huge plastic needles are a pain in the *&!($. I learned to knit on those things, but now they seem cumbersome and awful.

Multidirectional Scarf #2 -- still needs a bath and blocking
This batch of Silk Garden seemed thicker than the last batch, so I went up to size 9 needles.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Non-Reader
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Sunday afternoon tea

I pulled Paul away from watching football on his new HD setup to have tea this me.

Recipe: Triple-Fruit Scones from Cooking Light.
I add finely chopped candied ginger. These can be fairly dry. I sometimes add a little extra buttermilk.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Stranded

The quarter is drawing to a close, so things are beginning to slow down a bit around here. I'm planning to do plenty of knitting over the next month, and I have joined Stranded: The Colorwork Challenge.

I'm always in awe of colorwork, and I treasure my Dale sweaters that I picked up in Norway a few years ago, so it's time for me to broaden my knitting horizons.

I'm going to start off with the Fake Isle Hat from the November issue of Magknits. Depending on how well that goes, I'm going to make either Elli's Squirrelly Swedish Mittens that I have been lusting after for so long or a hat from Bea Ellis Knitwear (either Kristen or Ufserud).

Christmas meme

I found this over at Happy Zombie and Pam Kitty Morning, and I thought their answers were a hoot.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Tough one -- hot chocolate, I suppose, since I love it in all its forms. Eggnog is wonderful, too, but I only like the non-alcoholic, low-fat version. Some people might say that's not really eggnog.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa doesn't visit us right now due to the whole no-kids, just-cats thing. When I was a kid, Santa just put the presents under the tree unwrapped. And up in Mom's closet. She would dash back in there at least once each Christmas Day to retrieve a forgotten gift.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Plain white lights for me! My bachelor brother used to have a "disco Christmas tree" at his house, with flashing colorful lights, and it was a little too much for me.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope! We do plenty of kissing already. :-) Plus I would worry about poisoning the cats. They eat enough random stuff around the house already. No poinsettias for me, either.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Early to mid-December. The real question is when I take them down! That, my friends, will remain my little secret. *cough*nearly valentine's day*cough

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding desser?
This year my mother's making Christmas lasagna, citing the "Christmas colors" of the red tomato sauce and green spinach as a reason. Her lasagna's always darn good.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Probably not the year that I was so overstimulated about Christmas and Santa Claus that I wet my pants at my parents' Christmas Eve party.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
The little neighbor girl across the street shared her suspicions with me, and her mother confirmed for us that Santa is "the spirit of Christmas," not a real guy. I'm still best friends with her despite the disappointment!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
When we're with my family, we open all the gifts from the immediate family on Christmas Eve, and then open gifts with my aunt and cousins on Christmas Day. It's the exact opposite when we spend the holidays with my in-laws.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Most of my ornaments are red and white or straw. It's all very Scandinavian!

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it! I'm from Minnesota, I had better love it. I love cool, crisp air, and I love it when the snow sparkles in the sun. I enjoy going for long walks and looking at animal footprints in the snow.

12. Can you ice skate?
But of course. My mom took me to the skating rink right by our house when I was 2 and set me up on double-runner skates. I took figure skating lessons when I was in grade school, too.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The cozy penguin down throw (blue, of course) that my husband gave me for our first Christmas when we were really poor (and kept the heat down VERY low). Great for snuggling up on the couch!

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Relaxing, spending time with friends and family, and baking up a storm.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
My mother's Swedish kringler bars. Puffy almondy goodness!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Singing Christmas carols, baking, watching the Peanuts Christmas special, going ice-skating

17. What tops your tree?
A straw star. Once again, very Scandinavian.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Giving! I enjoy Christmas shopping, especially for my mother.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"The Christmas Song"

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Meh, they're OK. I like them best as ornaments on the tree. I think we'll keep on using the same ones that we've used for the past 4 years. I just make sure no one tries to eat one.