Sunday, December 29, 2013

The List: December 2013

December is rolling to an end, and, incredible as it seems, 2013 is on its way out. What a ridiculous month this was. Too many chips, dips, cookies, casseroles and parties altogether. Here's some of the highlights of this month.

A sampler of our Baking Day products
Baking Day: I got together with two friends one Sunday for a big baking day. From noon until 4 PM, we baked non-stop. Dozens and dozens of cookies including cranberry chocolate chip cookies, fruit and nut shortbread, almond biscotti, mini elephant ears. One person mixed, another scooped while a third manned the oven. V was given the job of shooing the kid and the dog away from the cooling cookies. We also made samosa style puffs to snack on.What an excellent way to spend a chilly afternoon.

I took some of the cookies to a neighborhood cookie exchange and got to meet some new neighbors over wine and appetizers before swapping boxes of cookies with them. It was a lot of fun but I've realized that I like baking cookies more than I like eating them. Or more accurately, I only like eating cookies that have been made by myself or by Trader Joe's!

Cooking for lots of friends, old and new. A highlight of the month, no, this year, was last week, when old friends of ours drove 12+ hours to come spend a few days with us. We were 11 of us crammed into the house- 6 adults, 4 kids under five, and 1 dog in the middle of it all. Can I just say how wonderful it is to cook for foodies who are not picky and who eat with gusto? We just lazed around the house and cooked and ate and laughed the whole time.

On the menu were some of our favorite meals- dosa, waffles, misal, sev puri, enchiladas, lasagna, biryani. I baked elephant ear cookies with the 5 year old- they somehow vanished in minutes off the baking sheet, even before I could transfer them to the cooling rack. We made several loaves of buttermilk bread from the New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - this bread was a huge hit with the crowd. Also a big hit were these mandelbrot or almond biscotti- I've made many batches this holiday season and everyone has raved about them.

One friend whipped up Kentucky Sours- whiskey cocktails that are a quick and tasty way to get tipsy fast! He shared the recipe: 1 part egg whites, 1 part simple syrup, 1 part lime juice and 2 parts whiskey. Or something like that, I was too buzzed to pay attention ;) Another friend made fluffy omelets for breakfast- funny how something as simple as omelets can be different when made by someone else. It was a food festival all the way.

The kids all enjoyed their 72+ hour play date. I got matching pajamas for all four kids and it was super cute to see them prancing around in excitement looking all matchy matchy. They all got stuffed stockings and presents on Christmas morning, just for fun. Even Duncan had his own stocking with toys and treats. He amiably played the role of a one-dog petting zoo and deserved some pampering. We would put the kids to bed and then watch stand-up comedians on Netflix. Our roaring laughter kept waking up the littlest baby, much to his mamma's consternation.

All in all, it was a treat to get to bond all over again with old friends, and they were the nicest house guests possible- jumping in to do the dishes, happily eating leftovers every few meals, meaning that we had lots of fun while not wasting any food.

Then- another surprise, a visit by Mandira of Ahaar and her sweet family- it was great fun to chat in person over a cup of chai while our kids played together. She's even sweeter than I imagined her to be!

Making

Mini stockings as gift card holders for Lila's teachers. I used this pattern- it was quick and easy. Sewing curves was the only slightly difficult part, but it is a gift card holder and not a garment- it does not have to be perfect. I sewed the ribbon loops by hand.


For a friend's daughter's third birthday, our gift was a fleece blanket paired with a
book. When this child comes over to play, she always snuggles with the quilts I have in the living room, which is why I thought she might like this. I made this by putting together two different 1.25 yard pieces of fleece and sewing them together with a blanket stitch on the edge. The book is Press Here by Herve Tullet- Lila got this as a gift from my friend Cathy and it is so delightful that I bought more to give as gifts.

And I've been knitting small gifts- a giraffe hat for a giraffe-collecting co-worker who is expecting her first grandchild.

And

mini sweater ornaments for a couple of quilter friends.


Reading took a backseat this month. But I read Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth, continuing her memoirs of being a midwife in the East End of London. Again, this book is beautifully narrated and worth reading even though there are portions that are almost unbearable. Also, this month, I read one of Agatha Christie's most famous books that somehow I had not read until now- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. And I re-read a book that I read and loved as a child: Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. It is a sweet and sentimental story- an orphan girl, a wise and dashing uncle, 7 boisterous boy cousins, aunts galore- and a great read if you're looking for something light this holiday season.

Watching  holiday movies, which is a first for me. I very rarely watch movies and almost never the holiday classics. Too many people kept gushing about Love, Actually so I finally watched it. They call it a feel-good movie but it seemed rather bittersweet to me and with too many story lines- certainly there were many cute moments, but they were sprinkled in among plenty of ludicrous ones. And for some reason, men (the PM and the writer) kept falling in love with women who served them tea. What gives? But I enjoyed the soundtrack very much. Have you seen this movie? Am I over-analyzing it? :D

It's A Wonderful Life was showing on some channel as I surfed through and I'm glad I finally watched this classic. As I was knitting holiday gifts, I also watched and thoroughly enjoyed some episodes of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, set in 1920s Australia.

So what have you been cooking, baking, eating, reading, watching this month? Did you get any exciting holiday gifts?

I wish you all a wonderful 2014. Via One Hot Stove, I hope to continue sharing my favorite recipes and books and crafts with you in the coming year. Cheers!

39 comments:

  1. I hope you have a wonderful 2014! And way too many cookies, chips, dips, and parties here too!

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    1. December has a way of being that way, huh? Happy New Year to you too!

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  2. Hope you have an even better 2014! It was so much fun reading about your holidays. My comments about your knitting and sewing are getting repetitive but I have to say everything is sooo cute!
    My list
    Baking : molasses crinkle cookies, pumpkin gingerbread bars, marmalade muffins
    Cooking : undhiyo style winter vegetables, paav bhaji, papdi chaat with all homemade chutneys.
    Making : christmas trees from pinecones, christmas cards

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    1. Thanks Nikita! Your baked goodies sound wonderful and so does the cooking. Cute idea to make christmas trees from pine cones- maybe I'll try that next year!

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  3. Your life always sounds full and never more than in the festive season. Baking and eating with friends is a joy and I love all your craft. Am pleased to hear you are watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - good to see our local show is getting some international viewing. I have seen Love Actually quite a few times - the first time it annoyed me for some of the reasons you say - but it has grown on me and I now enjoy watching it

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    1. Johanna- From what I'm hearing, Miss Fisher is gaining many many fans in the States!

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  4. Happy new year 2014 to you and your family, Nupur! Long may your blog continue! :) On an unrelated note, I'm trying my hand at crochet, and if some day I get to be a fraction as good as you, I'll consider myself very lucky :)

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    1. Shammi- Thank you and wishing you a wonderful 2014 too. How exciting that you're crocheting- isn't it fun and a wee bit addictive? I hope you'll post pics of what you are making.

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  5. What a happy post! I always feel so good when I read your blog, Nupur.
    Wishing you, your husband, Lila and Duncan all the best for a fabulous 2014 and beyond,
    Kamini.

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    1. Thank you, dear Kamini! I wish you and your family (including the furry kid, of course) a wonderful 2014. Can't wait to read more of your writing in the new year.

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  6. Lovely to have stumbled across your blog. Happy holidays :)

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  7. Happy 2014!
    Your handmade gifts are so precious! I am sure your gift receivers will treasure them so much!
    I love 'Love Actually'. I love to watch it every holiday season (though did not do it this year yet). To me it signifies the different ways one could fall in love. And I feel the characters have been beautifully done.

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    1. Thanks Sangeetha- and wishing you a wonderful year too!

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  8. About Love actually...You are absolutely not over-analysing it!! I felt the same when I saw it many years back..Its cute but kind of stereotypical in many ways. If you want a really good holiday movie, I will suggest "the Holiday". One of my favorite movies (holiday or not!). I will go as far as begging you to please watch the movie!! haha.
    I am not doing anything much in the cooking/making/watching areas this month.. Finished reading Born to run and LOVED IT! Very gripping and informative read.
    Happy holidays and a very happy new year to you and your sweet little family! :)

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    1. Neha- If The Holiday is on Netflix streaming I would be only too happy to watch it :) Happy New Year to you and your family too!

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  9. I love reading your posts Nupur. Have A happy new year with V Lila and Duncan
    Padma

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    1. Thanks Padma and wishing you a wonderful year too!

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  10. Dear Nupur, you have been busy! What fun. Everything you've made looks great! I liked Love Actually - Colin Firth is my favorite actor and I like almost anything with him in it. (Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant are not bad either.) I read Murder of...decades ago and don't remember much. Will have to re-read it and look for Eight Cousins. Happy 2014 (and not only!) R

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    1. I do like those actors too, I must say! There's something about Hugh Grant that is goofy and charming. Happy 2014 to you and yours, R!

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  11. Hi Nupur, your December sounds like a whole lot of fun! Just reading about those Kentucky Sours gave me a buzz-- I wish I had been there. :) I've been trying to cook more this month -- and cook healthier-- although all the cookie baking around the holidays did set me back a bit. :) Desi loves holiday movies although I never had the patience for them-- I have watched It's a Wonderful Life many times though. This time I did watch some holiday movies with him, including umpteen versions of A Christmas Carol, a story that never goes out of date. Also we wrapped up several seasons of Midsomer Murders on Netflix and spent the next few days talking about how dull life was without Inspector Barnaby, Jones, Cully and Joyce. :) Have you ever watched those? As a fellow murder mystery enthusiast I definitely recommend it. Just this morning we decided the Miss Fisher mysteries were going to be our next addiction-- glad you recommend those. A very happy new year to you, V, Lila and Duncan.

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    1. Vaishali- you should come down South and visit us- we can have Kentucky sours and many other things ;)
      I've watched some of the Midsomer Murders and will watch more, I'm sure, they are great for knit nights. I read all the books and loved them. You'll like Miss Fisher, I am quite sure. Have you watched Foyle's war? Another series worth watching. Happy New Year to you and Desi and the furry friends.

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  12. Wish you and family a very happy new year Nupur!

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    1. Thank you Anjali and I hope you have a fantastic year as well!

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  13. Wishing you, V, Lila and Duncan a Happy and Healthy New Year!
    All the very best.

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    1. Best wishes to you and your lovely family as well, Manasi!

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  14. Wishing you , V, Lila and Duncan a rocking new year!
    I loved the fleece blanckets....I wish I had one. I get too lazy to crochet one.
    Thanks a lot Nupur; It is because of you I learnt crochet (and ravlery). Thanks a lot, I have a wonderful hobby for keeps. Sorry I haven't been much online lately. I recently got a job and things have been hectic after 5 years of staying home. I also moved my blog to wordpress. Blogger has been acting up for quite some time now.

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    1. Preeti- making fleece blankets is a 100 times quicker than crocheting them because you only have to work on the edge! I am so so glad that you're enjoying crocheting! Good luck with the new job and congrats on the baby nephew.

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  15. Oh I also finished a baby afghan for my new born nephew!

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  16. तू नेहमीच छान लीहीतेस

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  17. Happy New Year to you too Nupur. Such a wonderful month you had. It was lovely to meet you finally and we all loved our treats. Thank you!

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    1. Next time I hope you'll come and stay with us! Lila totally enjoyed meeting your little guys.

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  18. Happy new year to all of you Nupur . Funny we watched Love Actually again over the holiday. It's an old favorite of ours. Must say the sex scenes seemed uncensored on the netflix version and made awkward viewing with a 2 year old and two parents :) we had to change the movie. Hope you gave a great 2014!
    Arpita.

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    1. Arpita- Oh yeah not a movie I would want to watch with toddlers or my parents! Happy new year to you and yours!

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  19. Happy New Year to you and your family. It was fun as always reading your end of the month highlights. We had a really fun filled busy month too. My hubby gave me a big surprise by planning a trip to visit my brother for the holidays. The surprise was revealed the morning we had to leave and I just couldn't believe it! even when the flight landed I couldn't believe this was really happening :-) I met my brother and my sister-in-law after 2 years and we had so much fun together. :-)

    - Priti

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    1. I have seen 'Love Actually' twice but both times I found it pretty average. The holiday movies I end up watching are the ones that we absolutely adore irrespective of it having to do anything with the holidays :-) For instance I watched Bawarchi on youtube and it has nothing to do with Christmas but full of simple feel-good moments. We also enjoyed the two seasons of Sherlock Holmes on Netflix. We also went to see Dhoom3 and enjoyed it a lot!

      I prepared a big batch of my mom's multi-grain mix ideal for winter breakfast. It's a mix of several flours - Ragi, Rajgira, Moong Dal, Singada, Aliv all roasted individually in very little homemade ghee. A spoonful or two is mixed in some hot milk with some crushed nuts and jaggery for a cozy, comforty, yummy treat. I can send you some if you like.

      - Priti

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    2. What a perfectly sweet surprise from your husband- I can just imagine how wonderful you felt, both about the trip and spending time with family and about this thoughtful gift.

      I'll have to watch Bawarchi on Youtube!

      Your winter breakfast sounds amazing and I'd love to try some. Maybe I can trade you for some homemade goodies from here? ;)

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  20. Dear Nupur..
    Reading ur post brought back old memories...specially due to mention on memorable old book 'Eight Cousins'. how i loved reading that when i was young..
    Here's wishing you a very lovely New Year..

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