Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie Mania

I returned today from the annual sister cookie baking weekend at my mom's up in Wisconsin.  My sister Anna and I actually started this tradition about eight years ago when she was living in Chicago.  We made a list of cookies we each wanted to bake and even organized a schedule that included which cookies needed to be refrigerated before baking and which could be baked right away.  All together, we made a whopping 30 types of cookies between the two of us and a friend of Anna's who stopped by briefly to help us but accidentally broke the oven instead.  By Sunday evening, we were both sitting at the kitchen table sharing a much needed bottle of wine and looking at about an inch of flour, sugar and sprinkles on the kitchen floor.  Thus was born a tradition.

Since then, we try to get as many sisters on board as possible.  This year there were three of us, a three year old and my mom.  We made a lowly 15 types of cookies, but it was just enough to put together plates and tins for good friends, neighbors, co-workers, family and still put some away for Christmas day.  We are pretty serious about the cookie baking at Christmas time in our house.  There are some recipes that just HAVE to be made--they are non-negotiable.  These include mini chip snowballsisland cookies (we use macadamia nuts in these instead of walnuts), mandel bread and anise biscotti.  The last two recipes are from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri.  I have to admit to having a flour and sugar crush on this man.  Everything I have ever made from any of his books about baking has been amazing.  If you like to bake, you should definitely add a book of his to your library.

island cookies

It is just as important to add a few new recipes to the mix as it is to keep making the old ones.  This year, these included Greek butter cookies, crock pot peanut clusters (not really a cookie but there are no steadfast rules here...), cardamom butter squares, and peanut butter thumbprints.

crock pot peanut clusters

cardamom butter squares
It was nice to have a break from sewing over the weekend--especially to do something just as fun.  There is something about baking and Christmas music that puts everyone in a good mood.  And, we had such a feeling of accomplishment Sunday night after we had packed up packages for everyone on our lists and cleaned up the warzone that had once been my mother's kitchen!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

LOFT baby quilt

Well....It's been a while since I've posted here.  Something happened...I think I blinked....and all of the sudden it was December 14th.  Anyway, I've been working on a lot of projects that I can't post anything about at the moment....and some that I can.

I've recently started a new quilt for a special little someone in our lives, and it's meant to be a Christmas gift.  (And about Christmas sewing:  why is it always December before it occurs to me that I could make gifts for people?)  This quilt is one that I have been wanting to make ever since I made the original for Colorful Quilts last year.  It's called LOFT.

Of the five quilts that I have in the Colorful Quilts book, LOFT might very well be my favorite.  I love the simplicity and straightforwardness (if that's a word) of it.  Even though I made the original with all solids, I have really been wanting to try it with a solid/print combination.

I decided to do pink and cream, since this quilt is for a little girl.  I always like to meet a baby before I make a baby quilt.  I find that I make color and fabric choices that are influenced by the baby's personality.  This particular little girl is bubbly and sweet, and happens to have a little ( or actually a lot) of pink in her nursery.  Not that I am overly concerned with being matchy-matchy, mind you, but if it works out that way, it's like a little bonus.

One of the fun things about this quilt is that the blocks go together pretty quickly and are really fun to sew.  Here they are, ready to be sewn together with the sashing and borders:

The top is actually together, and ready to go on my quilting frame to be quilted--with a week to spare!  I can do this--no problem!

But, you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see pictures on the finished quilt :-).

Hope you're having a beautiful holiday season!