2014’s version of this. Sadly, both girls will likely have outgrown these coats by next year, so we are squeezing every last festive drop out of them.
One final weekend of baking and knitting and shopping and prepping before the main event. We’ll be cozied up in VT with my family. And despite the forecast of rain, I’m dreaming of the white stuff.
I spent most of last week knitting, tearing apart, knitting, tearing apart, and finally knitting this baby sweater for my dear friend’s son’s 1st birthday. Third time was indeed a charm. I fell in love with these puppy buttons as they reminded me of Jack’s two Puggles, Peanut and Butter, and I’d be itching to try this sweater pattern (the pattern Kaki’s FGM used to make Courtland’s 1st Christmas present.) My knitting process tends to involve lots of knitting and redoing and knitting and redoing when I’m learning or adapting a new pattern, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this particular process was rather lengthy.
I’ve been in the knitting zone, having finished a Michigan-themed version of this sweater for Sunny’s FGP’s son’s Hanukkah gift (I failed to snap photos of it before dropping it in the mail, but Dellie’s handy with a camera, so I’m sure they’ll be documentation of it) and two of these adorable gnome hats for Kaki’s FGP’s daughters (I have now made a whole bunch of these hats and have yet to photograph them. It’s a fabulous little pattern, and a quick knit. I highly recommend and will try to document one the next time I do it). I’m now working on a purple sweater for Courtland, as I knit Sunny a rainbow dress last Christmas, so it’s my second born’s turn for a little hand knit love from mama.
But for now, Jack’s puppy sweater in his signature orange and camo-green.
The yearly snap with Mr. C. Amazingly, Sunny convinced Courtland to stand near the bearded fellow. Courtland is typically fearful of anyone in costume who’s not easily recognizable and she was definitely wary of Santa, but given Sunny’s encouragement, she begrudgingly posed for 2014’s photo.
Past Santa Snaps: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 (with a reindeer instead of Santa, and no Courtland, and no follow up on those pix I promised of Sunny with Santa. Not sure what happened there. Man, that sure feels like a lifetime ago, and yet I can hardly believe that 2014 is coming to a close. hashtagtimeisaclichedotcom)
This weekend, in between marathon hours of knitting and a few holiday soirees, I whipped up a batch of homemade caramel corn. I’ve been making this recipe for years, and it never disappoints. It makes great hostess slash holiday gifts. Sunny will be doling it out to the 8 babillion teachers (think not just her classroom teachers, but her music, art, gym, library, computer teachers and her bus driver) she’s determined must receive gifts this season, and rather than bankrupt our family (or disappoint our Kindergartener), this recipe stashed inside a few mason jars with a festive red bow will do the trick.
For her classroom teachers (and Courtland’s), we actually made personalized notebooks through Minted. I’m eager to see them in person, but think the personal touch is an added bonus.
ANYWAY, this recipe. SWOON CITY!
Granted, it makes an outrageous sticky mess, as I still (after five years) have not mastered a graceful way to make caramel, but it’s worth every sugary blob scattered around the kitchen.
10 c. of fresh popcorn (I cook it in a big pot on the stove with a little bit of oil and salt)
1 c. brown sugar
¼ c. light corn syrup
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped peanuts
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Coat a large mixing bowl with butter or nonstick spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl.
Before you begin making caramel over the stove, have the baking soda and vanilla at the read (pre-measured, ready to pour). Then, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 225°F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. I find that the caramel nearly doubles in size at this step, so do use a larger saucepan than you think you need as I inevitably underestimate and then am scrambling as hot caramel bubbles all over the kitchen floor. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”
Sunny: Following little sister’s lead. It’s so often the opposite that it’s nice when Courtland inspires her big sister’s behavior.
Kaki: Olaf love. The face painter at the local holiday farmer’s market was a hit.
“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”
Sunny: Barrettes turned crown. Just a typical Saturday morning chez Cart.
Kaki: After acquiescing to Sunny’s crown assembly, the bows were promptly removed post-photo. Sunny, on the other hand, wore the look all day long.
While dropping Sunny off at school yesterday, she was eager to show me the hat and mittens her Kindergarten teacher had handmade for her and each of her 21 classmates. Her teacher wanted to be sure that every child was warm this winter, regardless of socioeconomics.
And I was reminded, once again, that teachers are super heroes. It takes a big heart to teach little minds and I feel so grateful that my daughter is on the receiving end of such an enormous one.
This weekend was a particularly special one. My family watched Sunny “dance” (i.e. prance) across the stage in her inaugural “Nutcracker.” Kimmy and I danced for Boston Ballet’s school as children, and my family sat through many a performance of The Nutcracker during the 90s. The music is in our core. We could probably (and by probably, I mean definitely) reenact the choreography for the entire production on demand. So this passing of the sleigh, as it were, sure was emotional.
My father burst into tears at the first note of The Snow Scene, and the rest of us were all in tears by the time those itty bitty reindeer “pulled” Clara’s sleigh across the stage (thank goodness for the valiant Snow Cavalier who pushed from behind). Our pediatrician’s daughter was Clara, so it was particularly fun for both Sunny and Courtland to see Dr. Art’s daughter in the lead role.
And, Courtland, I have to comment on how enchanted she was with the entire show. I wasn’t sure if she’d get bored and loud and antsy, particularly during the Waltz of the Flowers because even I start to fade during that dance, but she was completely engaged and enthralled by the dancers on stage, showing a particular preference for The Sugar Plum Fairy and the Dew Drop Fairy (surprise surprise).
^^Find Sunny at the front right of the sleigh. She was beaming throughout, and resisting the urge to gaze from side to side at all the the dancers while on stage.^^
^^I think that these selfies she captured while waiting backstage say it all. She was just so very happy. We all were.^^
^^There’s nothing quite like that post-performance high. I am so grateful that my daughter now knows that feeling. She’s already talking about next year’s performance!^^