Last year I taped our Christmas cards to the mantel, and in February when it was time to replace them with Valentines, I had a hard time cleaning off the tape. So this year I decided to make a cord to hang them on.
I went to Michael’s and picked out some sparkly “eyelash” yarn, in red and silver, and crocheted them together into a long chain. (I chose the hook size by finding a pattern at the manufacturer’s site for a similar chain.) This worked out really well, and created a nice cord that would make a good garland for draping on a tree or bannister. It was a little stretchy for hanging things on, and next time I might pre-stretch it, or braid the yarn instead.
Clips turned out to be less easily obtainable than I’d thought. Next year I’ll have to order little colored clothespins from a craft supply store or from one of those catalogs that sells party favors in bulk. I ran out of time and energy to look for these, and ended up using tape, which worked okay but doesn’t leave much of the cord visible.
We had guests over the weekend, both before and after Christmas, and my plan to cook (unusually) for both of them was about to run aground on my inability to find two different menus, when I hurt my back and decided not to cook the first weekend. Not sure how I hurt it. I did a lot of shopping, and schlepping through the mall, turned half backward to see where my four-year-old was. Then we both got sick, and I spent the better part of two days in my bed with her, enjoying the only room in the house that has sunlight in winter between ten (UPDATE: what was I thinking? that should say "eight") and one o’clock. Then I bent over a laundry basket and couldn’t straighten up. The pain is mostly gone, but if I go a day without stretching or exercising at all, I’m likely to wake up the next morning with pain again. Welcome to forty-six, I guess.
So this past weekend I made kielbasa with potatoes and bell peppers. This was easy and very tasty. The potatoes pick up the flavor of the sausage, so all you have to do is cut up the ingredients and put them in the pot. I considered substituting turkey sausage to make it healthier, but I couldn’t find a similar recipe using turkey sausage and didn’t know whether it takes the same amount of time to cook, or whether it would be too bland without additional flavorings.
I also made a cranberry orange quickbread, from a version of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from about 1980. This is probably only the second quickbread I’ve ever baked. I substituted the 1 cup of fresh cranberries with between ½ and ¾ cup of dried sweetened cranberries (one website said to halve the amount, the other said to subtract ¼ cup), and I discovered after I cut into them that “Cara Cara oranges” are actually some kind of orange-grapefruit hybrid. I also misread the recipe and drank some orange juice that I thought was left over, but which ended up being needed to thin the glaze. This was a big hit, even with persons who predicted that they did not like cranberry orange bread. Next time I think I would leave out the orange zest topping, which looked very 1970s-ish and had some bitterness (due undoubtedly to my lack of skill in zesting). This is a dairy-free but not vegan recipe. It seems relatively low in fat, with one egg, nuts, and a small amount of oil.
We also made spiced cider from a Sesame Street cookbook for preschoolers. It was easy and came out well, though my daughter likes cooking new foods more than she likes eating them. That’s fine unless I end up being the only one eating a dessert that was meant to serve eight people.
And I learned how to dry books, after a not-watertight sippy cup was tossed (and picked up and tossed again, by me, who should have known better) onto the sofa, near a blanket under which were several paperbacks, including one that was brand new, and a hardcover D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths which I’ve used as a lap desk for many years).
And I learned that the attention span of a four year old setting up a science experiment (from a magazine for preschoolers) is much longer than her ability to care about the results, much less the explanation, especially if you have to wait ten minutes or more to see them. I learned something about how PPO makes apples turn brown, though.