Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Recurring Gift (A New/Old Tradition)

My husband's grandmother, Helene, was a charming and gracious woman that I was very fortunate to get to know.  She was a thrifty person, as those who lived through the Great Depression tended to be, and didn't spend much money on herself.  But she did have a weakness for at least one thing -- and that was Waterford. 

Every Christmas (and most other gift-giving occasions) back when John's grandfather, Grandpa Jack, was alive, he would give Helene money with which she would buy herself a pair of Waterford glasses.  Each time she'd select a different pattern and a different type of glass.  Over the years she amassed a beautiful collection. 

Before Grandma Helene passed on, she distributed her collection to various grandchildren, and I was fortunate and honored to receive a set.  I got the Old Fashioned glasses -- old fashioned glasses indeed, as I don't know anyone who drinks Old Fashions these days.  But they are good for eggnog, or brandy, or the occasional Kahlua and Cream.  I find having a set with all different patterns utterly charming, and it's fun to select a particular glass when I do use them (which really isn't often enough; I need to get over my fear of breaking them). 

I was thinking of Helene and her annual gift tradition recently, and decided that I liked it so much I was going to foist it on suggest it to my own husband.  And thus, the Annual Signature Needles Gift has been born.  I get something useful and beautiful that I might not otherwise buy for myself, and John doesn't have to struggle to come up with an appropriate gift.  It's a win-win.

This year, I selected two sets of circular needles (US9 and US10).  I generally knit with straights, but I needed some circs in larger sizes and thought perhaps Signatures might get me over my circ aversion.  I think they just might; I cast on this afternoon and have been happily knitting on them ever since. 

The needles:  Signature Stiletto circs, size US 9/5.5mm
The yarn:  BMFA Gaea (100% Certified Organic 21.5 Micron Merino)
in the colorway Haida Fledge. 
The pattern:  Ida by Debbi Stone

On this Christmas night, I will pour a brandy into a carefully selected Waterford glass, and toast Helene's memory and the start of a new/old tradition.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Mulled Cheer (a recipe post)

Holiday Greetings!  Happy Solstice!  It's hard to believe that the year is almost over.  My Ringlets were mentioned in the Yarn Harlot's blog at the beginning of the month (over which I am ecstatic, and honored, and grateful), and I've been glue-glue-glueing ever since.  But in the last day or two the madness has finally died down and I'm turning my attention to home and hearth and the season's celebrations. 

Food and drink are of course central to any good celebration, so I've been flipping through recipes in preparation for the upcoming festivities.  I came across this mulled cranberry wine recipe that was given to me almost 30 years ago.  The recipe card is creased and splattered -- the sign of a good recipe!  It has indeed been present at many a Crowley gathering, but I haven't made it in a long time.  I've decided it needs to make a re-appearance, and thought I'd share the recipe.  It's quick, easy, very tasty, and makes enough for a crowd.  Leftovers can be refridgerated, and reheated gently whenever a warm cup of cheer is desired.


32 oz cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
4 inches of cinnamon stick
12 whole cloves
peel of 1/2 lemon, cut in strips
2 fifths dry red wine, such as burgundy or port
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups water

Put all ingredients in a large sauce pan,* bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Drink and enjoy.

*When serving this for a gathering, I usually put the ingredients in a crock pot, cook on high, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, then turn the crock pot to low.  (Alternatively, cook on the stovetop, then transfer the mulled wine to the crock pot set on low to keep it warm.)  Surround the crock pot with mugs and let guests help themselves.  It's a good idea to remove the cloves, or else put them in a muslin spice bag or tie in some cheesecloth. 

Wishing everyone peace, love, and the best of the holiday season.