With the holidays quickly approaching it seems like a good time to share some things I have been really enjoying lately. Perhaps my list of recent favorite things might inspire your holiday gift list :-) I’d love to hear some of things you are enjoying right now as well.
1. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers is an album I have been listening to nearly non-stop. Somehow I have not yet managed to overplay it. I am kind of amazed. I think the rich harmonies of these three guys is what captured me. It can be described as rock and pop with a mix of folk and bluegrass and occasionally even more diverse elements. The title track was what caught my attention, but I love several other tracks like Kick Drum Heart, Ill With Want, It Goes On and On and Incomplete and Insecure.
2. Earl’s Cocoa is a hot drink a friend of ours invented. Earl’s Cocoa is a blend of hot chocolate and Earl Grey tea. Our method of making Earl’s Cocoa is to put a small splash of hot water into the cocoa mix and stir to form a paste while some White Tip Earl Grey tea is steeping (I love this particular kind as it doesn’t easily oversteep and amount of bergamont is perfect for the cocoa). When the tea is complete we add that to the hot chocolate paste. Drew had made an Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse from Tea Cuisine by Pruess & Harney before so we were quite eager to try this hot beverage version when Simmon suggested it. It makes a great winter dessert that helps warm you up on a cold night.
3. One of my favorite sweet snacks this time of year is Anna’s Ginger Thins with a light spread of pumpkin butter (if you can’t or don’t wish to make your own try Dickinson’s Country Pumpkin Butter). The ginger thins are relatively low in calories and fat because they are so thin and they are only moderately sweet. Add a touch of the pumpkin butter and you’ve upped your beta carotene, vitamin A and fiber intake significantly!
4. Schoolhouse Press recently re-released what had been a volume of 3 books by Maria Erlbacher in one fantastic resource on twisted traveling stitch knitting. Twisted-Stitch Knitting is not to be missed!
5. When it is cold outside and I’m super busy there is nothing in my kitchen I love more than my Crockpot. With some prep in the morning I can have a warm dinner on the table for supper with minimal effort. One of our favorites things to make in it is chili, followed closely by spaghetti sauce. But a good friend of ours gave Drew Art of the Slow Cooker for his birthday last year that we are exploring currently.
6. For reading before bed I’ve been caught up in two different vampire series. The first one to draw me in was The Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Book 1-8 Boxed Set which are the books by Charlaine Harris which the HBO series, True Blood is based off of (love season 1 of that too and am eagerly awaiting the release of season 2).
7. The other paranormal romance/vampire series I’ve been enjoying is a bit racier (at least racier than the Stackhouse *books* but perhaps not racier than the HBO series) is Brotherhood of the Black Dagger Series by J.R. Ward. Chris turned me onto them so she is to blame! ;-)
8. The Jane Austen Movie Collection is a staple right now when productive knitting is paramount. I know the stories well and I’ve seen the movies at the very least once on Masterpiece Classics if not more times so they make for great company when knitting. I can pay them as much attention as a knitting project allows. Thankfully, DH got me the set (plus The Jane Austen Book Club) for my birthday two years ago so I’m all set for marathon holiday knitting entertainment!
9. As we near the holidays I’m always a little more in touch with my Swedish roots and the family customs that survived the generations. Doing so always makes me seek out some of the foods that are harder to source here in Colorado than they were in Minnesota. I’ve been buying and stocking the fridge and pantry with things like Lingonberry Jam to top my ostkaka (Swedish cheesecake made with homemade cheese curd which DH kindly makes to keep me from whining so much about not getting to spend the holidays with my family) and swedish pancakes with. I’ve also been scouting out lefse. Though my grandma gave me all the supplies needed to make it I’ve been a bit intimidated and haven’t tried it yet.
10. Deb shared her winnings from Maryland Sheep & Wool with me several months back and I’ve been enjoying a set of three Lexi Barnes pieces. I wasn’t sure about how they would suit me at first, but I’ve fallen in love. My favorite is the Large Mini. I didn’t think yarn cakes would fit in these ungusseted bags, but I was proven wrong. I don’t think a 100 g cake of sock yarn would fit, though I could be surprised. I’ve been working with skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk lately and they and their respective accessory projects have fit in it quite well. What I love best is the ability to just grab it from the Lady B bag and toss it into my purse or into my laptop bag. The fact that it is ungusseted makes it easier to slip into the non-knitting bags a bit easier than my box or sack project bags because it is a bit sleeker and slimmer.
What are some of things you are enjoying or finding useful in these busy holiday times? Leave a comment or write a blog post of your own and share the link in the comments here. I’m in need of gift ideas!