I hope those of you celebrating had a wonderful Christmas. We were in Kansas with my family. These are our stockings on Christmas morning - the stockings were made by my Grandma and mom and the quilted fireplace screen was just made by my mom this year. En route, we stopped in Oklahoma to catch up with my aunt and cousins. We dropped off some homemade gingerbread play dough (made from Sugarbelle's recipe) for my cousins' sons. It smells exactly as good as you imagine and comes together in no time.
We made it to Kansas ahead of the snow and did all sorts of wonderful Christmas things like playing Trivial Pursuit, making Rice Krispie treat ornaments, and having dinner on the Plaza with my mom's sister's family before we were all stricken with the stomach flu.
When I was complaining of a lack of Christmas spirit, my friend Katy took me down to the Riverwalk where we sat outside and drank prickly pear margaritas. Totally getting into the idea of a relatively warm Christmas! The Riverwalk Christmas lights are fantastic, like a fairy land (and that's not just the tequila talking).
In the Christmas spirit, I began to plan a special treat for my mom. She loves stollen, but my dad hates the fluorescent candied fruit that so often fills it. Instead, I soaked dried apricots and cranberries in a combination of whiskey and cider for a week before taking the fruit to Kansas with us. I baked up the stollen recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice with a (too thick) layer of almond paste in the middle. It was good fresh, but I liked it best toasted with butter and I found the more muted fruit to be festive (and less frightening).
For my mom, a pair of Cozy Toes socks knit from yarn she picked out while we were in Portland. She knew they were coming but had no idea what they would look like. (In fact, due to some facebook complaining about my lack of time, she thought they were coming unfinished.)
Mom also got a new cover for her sewing machine (which I made good use of in finishing up this and other presents) based on an applique from Ellison Lane Quilts.
For dad, I made a custom-etched casserole dish that no one will ever walk away with from a potluck. Etching glass is so easy and can be done with etching cream that you can pick up at any craft store. It elevates inexpensive glassware into a cherished gift and I think it would be a great way to personalize bakeware that might be on a wedding registry. I also made a casserole carrier to tote it around based on this Sew4Home pattern. Somehow I neglected to take a picture of that part.
By far my favorite gift this year was this lovable guy. He's based on Otto the Lovable Monster with some liberal modifications. I made him for a very special two month old and wanted him to match the That's Not my Monster board book by Fiona Watt. I love these touchy-feely books that all follow the same format ("That's no my monster, his ears are too scratchy") until the final page ("That's my monster, his ears are so fluffy."). So I made his to match the final monster. I think I did a pretty good job. You may recognize this present idea from this dragon and the orangutan up in my header. I'm sure it will come up again because there are about twenty more books I haven't made a knit version of yet!
The holidays - even, and maybe especially being sick - gave me time to slow down, appreciate being surrounded by people I love, and rejuvenate me for the excitement and business of 2013. I hope you are looking forward to this new year too!