Randomly on a Day Close to Christmas

 1. I’m so glad the list of awesome and amazing stuff I was making for Christmas was private.

2. Now nobody knows how much of it I’m not doing.

3. Hank and I had our regular Christmas outing, and got his shopping sorted and made cookies. 

When we were done, Hank asked if he could use the ball winder, and reflected (in that way that twelve year olds talk like they’re sixty-two)  that he has enjoyed the ball winder his entire life.

4. That’s true, actually.

5. He also commented that he thinks he’s forgotten how to knit. I kept my mouth shut.  Nothing like adult enthusiasm to take the shine of a rose like that.

6. I am still sick.  I am starting to wonder if I am going to be slightly ill forever. That maybe that first cold I got lowered my resistance so I got the Noro Virus, and that lowered my resistance further so I got this cold,  and I’m thinking that I’m just going to be in a loop until I get in a bubble or something that breaks the cycle.

7. I’m pretty sure that’s happened to me before, but it was a yarn buying  thing.

8. One sweater almost down, one to go.

9. The other one has a long way to go. A really long way. I should be knitting right now.

10. I would show you a picture, but there are spies everywhere.

11. Last night when I was talking to my mum, she told me that she’d tried to make these Martha Stewart cookies and they didn’t work. They were supposed to hold together so that you could "gently shape them into haystacks" and they wouldn’t. She tried everything, even pressing them together so hard her hands hurt, and they still wouldn’t make haystacks.  Just screwed up inedible coconut lying in egg puddles. Apparently it was super frustrating to have a cookie failure this close to Christmas because then my mum said Martha Stewart should go f**k herself.

12.  I was not even shocked by that. It’s almost Christmas.  There’s a lot of cookie pressure.

173 thoughts on “Randomly on a Day Close to Christmas

  1. Noro virus is usually transmitted by those WITH the virus — most frequently via food handling (or if someone sneezes or coughs on you or you’re a child in a day care center). You don’t get it because your immune system is weak — the intensity of it is based on immune system conditions. Either way — it still a pretty crudy thing to have at any time of year. Get well soon.

  2. OK, the end of 11th point got me laughing out loud. Plus, what is not to like about a ball winder. It appeals to your inner Type A personality traits!

  3. Thank you, Stephanie (and your Mom) for item #1! It caused a surprise snort/chortle and guffaw that caught me off guard — but was fully appreciated!! Your sense of humour has not been affected by your (temporary!) illness… Get better soon!

  4. Tell your mom I think Martha Stewart tells you to do things that don’t actually work because she is a spiteful, evil woman.
    And tell Hank his hair color is awesome!
    And I hope you get 100% better soon!
    And Stormy had our baby! Her name is Ember. 🙂

  5. Your delicious piles of cookies have me committed to more gingerbread making with my son today 🙂
    It sounds like you are starting to have the “winter of discontent” that I just finished with. I swear btw July 1 to Sept 30th (sth hemisphere) there was barely one week in my family without fever, vomiting or bronchitis. Knitting eases the yuck. Apply liberally as required.

  6. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Stephanie. Stay warm and cozy as you continue working away on your “amazing stuff”.

  7. My grandmother taught me to k it at age 6. She cast on long rows. When I got to the end of row to turn, I had forgotten how to purl, and vice versa, and she pariently taught me again. At some point I got the hang of the difference between knits and pulls, and have been knitting and purling ever since, some 58 years. Hank will get it, especially because his interested.

  8. I’m sorry you’re sick. You are still hugely inspiring however — I’m 2/3 done with my first sweater in fifteen years! This, in celebration of my first winter visit to Minnesota.
    Love and healing energy coming your way!

  9. Martha recipes are a bit hit or miss. A fudge haystack/nobake recipe will come together nicely.
    Feel better!

  10. Martha seems not to test her own recipes. Several failures from her recipes in my house.
    Cookie pressure. Knitting pressure. Pressure everywhere. Let it be. No one ever had a ruined Christmas on account of impossible haystacks. You’re doing great.

  11. A LOT of Martha’s recipes, especially the older ones, are complete crap. They don’t work. I think she does (or did) it on purpose to make people feel bad about themselves, or to make herself feel superior. Who knows? Tell your mom that’s it’s totally not her, it’s all Martha’s fault!

  12. I love how the shirt Hank is wearing matches what he’s doing…Merry Christmas/Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours!

  13. Tell your boss you need time to rest and recuperate, and then actually do it. (I’ve heard your boss is a real taskmaster…) 🙂 It takes time to get well! Of course knitting is always an excellent way to recuperate.

  14. How in the world did Hank become 12?? Surely it hasn’t been that long ago that I first ‘met him’ here online. He was a little boy…and now so…well 12!

  15. I so agree with your mother about Martha; I haven’t forgiven her for showing up Julia Child on a TV show when Julia was already elderly. Martha just couldn’t resist making her structure bigger and better than Julia’s. Julia was amused – but I wasn’t.

  16. Actually, I made those cookies (allegedly for my gluten intolerant granddaughter) and ended up eating them with friends. Not sure why your mum had that trouble. I am not the best with that kind of thing, but these macaroons worked for me – go figger!

  17. I’m having a really hard time coping with the fact that Hank isn’t 4 years old any more. Feel better soon!

  18. It has been said by more than one person that Martha Stewart intentionally leaves out one key ingredient or step in recipes. I gave up on her recipes long ago. When I am thinking of making something, I look up several recipes so that I can compare them and see what the common thread is. The “bad” recipes tend to become obvious by comparison. Hopefully this will save someone from a few of the kitchen disasters I’ve had in the past! Merry Christmas!

  19. I really do feel for your mother(we are close in age). I had a similar malfunction of a Christmas dinner dessert. I had abandoned the traditional trifle in favour of a spectacular Croquembouche. I had seen it in a patisserie on Bloor West(near you). It was not easy to assemble, but that was nothing compared to trying to serve it. “Using 2 forks, gently pry…” was a definite non starter. A chisel was needed. I think I cooked the caramel sauce a little too long. My father-in-law’s comment was, Wow! That could pull the fillings out of your back teeth”. Luckily my sense of humour and my self esteem are both robust. I reverted to trifle the following year.
    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

  20. @Barbara at 3:38 and anybody else who’d like: a cup and a half of almond meal, a cup and a half of powdered sugar, mixed into three beaten egg whites and baked at 350. Gluten-free, healthy, scrumptious. Merry Christmas!

  21. I live outside the realm of Martha and reading the comments so far I think that’s a good thing – a dodgy cake might be the thing to tip me over the edge and see me trying to wrap the dog.

  22. My family calls the Norwalk virus “no walk… RUN” Virus. Awful stuff. I hope sickness leaves your house soon. And that the list stays secret.

  23. Yeah, I hear ya on Martha. One Christmas season she suggested making outdoor candle holders out of ice. You know, simple right…use a tupperware bowl filled with water, submerge a smaller container in the middle to make a spot for the candle etc etc? The only thing I DIDN’T factor in was the -40c temps in Winnipeg that December. SHATTERED my favourite Tupperware bowl.
    Some might say this was my own stupid fault, but I prefer to blame Martha. Her name is still banned in this house.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

  24. Your mom made me laugh so hard I cried. My mom passed away this May and when I read that, I distinctly heard my mom say: “It’s just a word, go ahead just say it. F**K! You’ll feel better!”

  25. Since we don’t have a TV, the only time I actually watched Martha Stewart was years ago when we were on vacation. She was demonstrating how to iron men’s shirts–at half an hour per shirt, I’d have had to be ironing dawn to dusk every day to keep up with my husband’s wardrobe needs (it was back in his Washington, DC days). Needless to say, I gave up on Martha then and there. Let up on yourself and have a great holiday.

  26. I love when mom’s curse unexpectedly. Reminds me of the first (and only) time my mom told me a bawdy joke.
    Would you share your cookie recipe with the blog? The blog would love it – I’m certain.

  27. Hey, Stephanie,
    I hope you’re feeling better little by better. I had a nasty cold virus. Hubby is a doc. “How long?” I asked him, “will this horror go? 7 – 10 days. He was bang on.
    Noro virus has clear snot and runny nose. That one wasn’t mine.

  28. Martha may make it look easy, but the REAL work on her “wonderful creations” are done by the many people she employees. No way one person could do everything around her house.
    Get well soon, and Merry Christmas…all 12 days of Christmas!

  29. OMG, I had a Martha Stewart cookie recipe fail too! I thought 10 mins at 400F was awfully long and hot for sugar cookies… shoulda trusted my instincts instead of blindly following the recipe. Damn that Martha Stewart, damn her!!!

  30. I love your mom. I too have Noro Virus, as does my son. It has affected not only where it usually hits, but also my brain. I realized that fact while trying to wrap some gifts last night–try as I might, I could not get the right tags on the right gifts. And the minute I had something wrapped, I had no memory of what it was. I fear that one of my daughters may be getting some men’s underwear and someone who doesn’t knit may be getting some yarn. I’m working on the second sleeve of a baby sweater which requires increases every four rows at each end of the row. I have made a chart. We’ll see how it goes.

  31. Your cookies look soooo good! Would you post the recipe, please? I know, one more thing to do. But they really do look like very good cookies!

  32. I had a Nigella Lawson cookie failure, which resulted in having to make plan b cookies, which while FABULOUS (dark & white chocolate dipped palmiers) are fussy and time consuming and I had already MADE cookies darn it… yeah, I sympathize with the cookie pressures this time of year.

  33. I LOVE your Mum!!!!!!! And I agree with her completely!
    Hope you feel better soon, Stephanie. Feeling lousy at Christmas sucks, though I’m amazed at how you keep on going!

  34. Critical difference between Macaroons as described in the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, Original Classics Vol. 1, and a recipe rated highly and found quickly online: BEAT EGG WHITES TO FORM SOFT PEAKS.
    2 egg whites
    1 pinch salt
    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
    Beat together the egg whites with the salt in a small bowl until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time while continuing to beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue to beat until glossy. Fold the coconut into the egg mixture. Drop mixture by the teaspoonful onto the prepared sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
    Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes.
    Original recipe simply calls for combining egg whites and coconut— with your hands?—nothing about peaks! Saboteur.

  35. I haven’t used a Martha Stewart recipe since 2000, the year I made her “Flower Garden” cake for my daughter’s first birthday. Martha’s magazine-photo version looked absolutely adorable, and it seemed like a fairly straightforward carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I got up early to make it in the morning, so it would be fresh. The guests began arriving around 2 p.m., which was Hour 5 of my cake ordeal, and had to wait another hour before I could serve it, still barely decorated because I simply couldn’t make people wait any longer. The pictures are sad, but luckily my daughter does not remember the day. Suffice it to say, I’m with your mom.

  36. Your secret spreadsheet of gift knitting is exactly why I don’t tell people I have started something for them. That way if I don’t get it done, it can be a gift for some other time. Some other awesome time. Maybe even super awesome.

  37. Martha Stewart should. ,,,,,,,…… Herself. At 54 I love the ball winder. Hank looks too grown up. Just get better Harlot and enjoy the season.

  38. I too love your mother. I’ve had the same feeling about MS since she tried to show up Julia Child on national TV.
    That Hank, I’ve never seen a bad picture of him!

  39. made me laugh out loud, along with the rest of your blogreaders! have a great christmas and i hope you feel better soon xxx

  40. I’m sorry you are suffering. Those dastardly germs are everywhere this year.
    As for Martha Stewart–i’m with your mother on that one. I never make her recipes because I’ve been told so many don’t work.
    By the way, Knit Picks is offering printable IOU’s this year, so it would appear many people are in the same boat.

  41. I agree with your mother. Martha doesn’t even really do that stuff herself anyway. She hires someone else to do it.

  42. I didn’t think it was possible to love someone more than I love my own Mom. However, your mother is giving mine some stiff competition. I Love Her. You have no idea how badly I needed a deep belly laugh and your mother’s reaction to Martha Steward did it for me. Happy Christmas!

  43. You cookies look great, and as for Martha, I’ve never trusted that woman!
    Hope you feel better soon!

  44. Martha Stuart recipes are not well tested. My mom tried to make her basic cake out of the wedding book twice before giving up on the recipe, and she’s a professional baker! So your Mum was totally right.

  45. I feel completely vindicated by the comments. Thank you all. I WANTED to make soft peaks, but MARTHA said combine egg whites with your hands. The cookies taste like squished up dry coconut with chocolate in them. And that’s what they are.
    MARTHA is dead to me. Not that I’d hold a grudge during this festive season. But I’d like to pressure her cookies, and I stand by my advice to her!

  46. My Mom said the same thing about Martha Stewart last Xmas when she tried to make some chocolate covered marshmallow things! It’s good to know Martha brings out the best in people!

  47. I got Noro about 5 years ago, along with almost everyone else at the family camp we attend each year. Lots of fights for the bathroom! From then on, sneeze glass was in front of all the buffets and staff served everything.
    I am glad that I also keep my awesome Xmas plans list private. Finishing 75% is considered doing well; unfortunately, it is finishing a nice party sweater for myself that usually is the first thing dropped.
    A little secret: I rarely allow the yarn shops to wind my yarn purchase, not so much because I’m in a hurry, but because I still love doing it myself.

  48. I am definitely a member of your mother’s fan club. I know that this is a rhetorical question, but has anyone ever wanted to tell a sweater designer to go F themself about any aspect of the directions?

  49. Take it from someone who worked with many food stylists and home economists in the food photography business. They weren’t impressed with Martha…said she didn’t test her recipes. Ergo a puddle of coconut something. I’ve never bought one of her cookbooks.

  50. I am not even going to ask why anyone, even Martha Stewart, would want to make cookies in the shape of haystacks.

  51. Two thumbs up for your Mom. My daughter was a Martha fan until the recipe for making S’mores from scratch. Wa-a-a-a-a-ay over the top.

  52. Martha Stewart recipes are often good but there are a number I’ve tried that really do not work unless you have a lot of training. She’s highly over rated.
    Now Elizabeth Baird and the Canadian Living team … they are awesome. They test the living daylights out of their recipes and they WORK.
    Hope your mum finds a recipe that works for her. Merry Christmas!

  53. I agree with the suggestions for Martha. Her recipes look good in the pics, but never work in real life.

  54. Perhaps your body is gently telling you that it needs more downtime than you’re giving it?
    Also, the words “DAMN Martha Stewart!” has become a standing joke between me and a friend, after the utterly *spectacular* shattering of a pyrex casserole in the oven one holiday. It was…scarring. Not literally, thankfully, but definitely emotionally. 😀

  55. How weird is this ~ I was just thinking about Hank and the ball winder. My grandson is 4 and he was helping me a bit too energetically with my ball winder. I told him to go a little slower and then told the story of how 4 year old Hank broke his aunt Stephanie’s ball winder. Sam’s blue eyes got very big and he slowed down so he wouldn’t break Grandma’s winder.
    Merry Christmas to the entire Harlot clan ~ may you receive some of the pleasure that you give to all of us loyal readers

  56. I’m sorry you are still under the weather but you haven’t lost your wonderful sense of humor. Your mom and my mom would be BFFs! What a great story! Hank’s hair is gorgeous, BTW. Over the years I have shared your musings with my husband and he still reminds me the blog about your “system” when you are packing and ready to go out the door. He is on the road 2-3 days a week and I have to stand clear in the last 5 – 10 minutes before he leaves or I disrupt his whole routine and he fogets something.

  57. Apparently this ‘flu’ going around does come back a couple of days later…the yucky feeling lasts for about a month…or so everyone tells me now that I have been laid up for a week. Thanks for the chuckle about your mum’s comment about Martha!

  58. My daughter, now 15, is in pretty much the same boat as Hank. Turning the yarn winder is just about the only reliable “child labor” I get anymore.

  59. I lost my mum a couple of years ago. I know it’s a wee bit presumptuous to ask, but would your mum be willing to adopt me? I promise I wouldn’t be much trouble and I’d even knit her a Martha voodoo doll if she’d like.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  60. I feel for you and the noro virus crud. Colds and such have made their way around our house for the past 2 months. They are welcome to leave…NOW!!!! I’m way behind on cookie production but am viewing it as getting ahead on that New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Enjoy your holidays whatever gets done or not!

  61. I know this is going to sound completely loopy — but go out and get probiotic capsules (100 billion microorganisms). It’ll boost your immune system immeasurably. Feel better soon!

  62. I can tell you on good authority that
    a) Ball winders are extremely entertaining
    b) Mix ball winders with swifts and you have quite a part
    c) Comparing the process to electron accelerators at CERN
    d) Wine increases the enjoyment
    e) Having the ball fly off because you aren’t winding it tight enough for it to hold, is over the top screaming hilarious, especially when d is involved.
    f) all of the above is best when it occurs with 2-4 girlfriends, preferably at a cottage retreat.
    Join us some time?

  63. The liking of the ball winder is probably a sensory integration thing. My younger daughter (autistic) stops whatever she’s doing to come and watch when I’m winding yarn.

  64. I can tell you on good authority that
    a) Ball winders are extremely entertaining
    b) Mix ball winders with swifts and you have quite a party
    c) Comparing the process to electron accelerators at CERN somehow adds to the fun
    d) Wine increases the enjoyment
    e) Having the ball fly off because you aren’t winding it tight enough for it to hold, is over the top screaming hilarious, especially when d is involved.
    f) all of the above is best when it occurs with 2-4 girlfriends, preferably at a cottage retreat.
    Join us some time?

  65. Don’t know what recipe was used, but I’m guessing it failed to mention that you have to let the coconut “soak” in the egg for some time. If you don’t, you get useless-coconut-in-egg-puddles, which could break the strongest spirit.

  66. Cookie pressure??? I haven’t made a single christmas cookie and I’m not planning on it.

  67. I love that even though we lives hundreds of miles away from each other, and in different countries-your nephew is wearing the same “boobies” bracelet my nephew wears. Made me laugh.

  68. Sorry about the norovirus. It sucks! Highly transmissible, takes very few organisms to render a human prostrate on the floor with ick exiting all orifices simultaneously. I am a doc, work solely in a hospital, and have had it twice. 6 years ago, it hit so hard and fast that I vomited at a patient’s bedside before exiting the hospital, getting a fever of 103, and proceeding to puke for 4 days straight. I wanted an IV SOOOO badly but I had twin babies and a 2-year-old at home so I pushed on. As soon as I recovered, they all got ill and both babies wound up in the hospital. Not fun. Fast forward to last week: I got it again. Came on so fast that I got sick before I could make it from nurses’ station to bathroom. And at home I was so violently ill that I ended up passing out in my entry hall. I know it was noro because many others at our hospital had confirmed cases, and we were all similarly laid LOW.
    So I seriously feel your pain in regard to that damnable virus.
    The cookies look excellent. And the yarn will wait until you feel better. Feel better!!!!

  69. all I could think of when I was reading was that you had somehow caught some weird virus from yarn “Noro” virus 🙂

  70. 1. I’m sorry you’re still not feeling well.
    2. I love your mother; possibly as much as you do.
    3. I wish I’d kept my list of awesome stuff I’m making for Christmas private too. Though I just received an email from Knit Picks with IOU tag downloads. Just a thought.
    4. Something in your post makes me laugh out loud every single time.
    5. I’m always excited when I click over to your page and there is a new post.
    6. I do so hope writing your blog does not cause you Christmas-cookie-style pressure.

  71. Thanks for the out loud laugh. Martha has minions who will probably lose their hands if they don’t make the haystacks stack.

  72. First your mum’s comment and then Vickie’s about the ball of yarn flying off the winder!! I don’t know what it is about that that makes me laugh hysterically. I, too, prefer to wind my own yarn. Twice. Once from the skein on the swift – or is that the accelerometer? and then a second time to take some of the tension out caused by the resistance of the swift to give up the yarn. And you can do the second one slow enough to not launch it across the room, just remember to put a little tension as you run it through your fingers. No surprise knots either!! Oh, and my mom, who is 89, says if you are going to say it, say it! none of this “f-word” “freak” whatever, just say F*CK! (at 53 I still hesitate and that is sometimes my FAVORITE word!!)

  73. Thanks for the laugh on #11! This hasn’t been the best holiday season for me this year, but your blog has made me laugh. I hope you feel better soon and enjoy what you can of the holiday season 🙂

  74. For sickness: Elderberry syrup is the best. For adults, 1 T per day. For children over 1 year, 1 t per day. If one starts feeling sick, the barest hint of a scratchy throat or cold, begin taking recommended dosage for your age once per hour. Even works once you are sick and helps you recover faster. Knocks it right out. Feel better soon!!

  75. after all this, i agree with all the martha statements and add this: nothing in her cookbooks ever works. nothing. ever. seriously, martha. f**K yourself- in any way that you don’t enjoy it. so there. 😛 (also, she’s my least favorite grandma’s idol. says something about my grandma.)

  76. Stephanie – get better soon – Christmas is too fun to miss! to your Mom and Barb–we totally share your opinion of Martha. My daughter and I had a complete recipe mishap one year before an important ‘cookie date’ and my husband almost lost a finger New Year’s Eve making Martha’s ice lanterns – never again!!

  77. Yep, not a Martha fan here, either. Two thumbs up for Canadian Living, and if you have Fanny Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, it is another no-fail, perfect every time recipe book.
    That virus SUCKS! It’s gone through our town like wildfire and Christmas has been a little bit bland and lacking in enthusiastic support because everyone feels like crap.
    Back to the sock-knitting – customer orders, not Christmas presents. I highly recommend a comfy chair and a blankie, a large Scotch or a hot toddy, and some interesting knitting but nothing that needs high speed. Sometimes you just have to chill.

  78. It’s been my experience that most Martha Stewart recipes do not work.
    At all.
    My most notable failures were dinner rolls shaped like wreaths and a crocumbuche (spelling is probably wrong – sorry.)
    I’m with your mom.

  79. Dear Steph. I hope you get better soon. Feeling ill at this time of year completely sucks.
    Dear Steph’s Mum. You are completely awesome. I love you to bits.

  80. Didn’t Sam have a Martha Stewart cookie disaster a few years ago? Stay away from that woman’s cookbooks! I recommend a hot bath with epsom salts.
    Feel better.

  81. My favorite quote about Martha Stewart is from a friend of my SIL, who said “Anyone can do what she does if they have hot and cold running butlers!”
    However, I did use an idea of hers to use a large, 8 armed plant stand to hold cakes at our 25th anniversary party! It was beautiful!

  82. Number 11 made me laugh so hard. I have never even considered making any of Martha’s cookies or projects, as I like things simple and traditional, such as my grandmother and great-grandmother made (why mess with what is already great?). I read somewhere that at least the online version of Whole Living will be shutting down, but maybe I misread. Not sure of the reason. Hope you and any of the other Noro sufferers feel better soon!

  83. Ball winder hmmm. I hope Santa brings me one.
    Sorry you are still under the weather. Open all the doors, yes, even in Canada, and air out the house. Buy new toothbrush now and when the cold is completely gone buy another.
    Be well for Christmas . Make Merry!

  84. Weird question but where do you get the silver ball decorations for your cookies? We used to have them when I was little and my mom and I can’t find them any more… it’s probably just a U.S. problem… I’ve tried looking for them online but I don’t know what their exact name is.

  85. Being from Norwalk, the home of the now renamed Noro Virus, I am so sorry that you were stricken with the f***er (compliments to your mother.)

  86. Love number 11, wish my mother would have said that, but she never would have. BUT I PREFER NUMBER 7 – that is laugh out loud funny.
    I agree with Hank. May he hold on to the feeling a long time.

  87. The Noro virus besides being just plain nasty really whams you. You may may feel weak and not quite well for some time. Hang in there you will get back to “normal”. Happy Christmas.

  88. Like Monique at 9:00pm, I too recommend a hot bath with epsom salts – and the sooner we drown Martha in it, the better! Rest up, have a wonderful Solstice!

  89. Thank you for showing those cookies!! One more to bake that isn’t handling-intensive (just getting over a cold here, too). Now, take it easy and get better so you can enjoy some of that happiness you’re making.

  90. For Kelly at December 20, 2012 10:01 PM: Google “silver dragees” and then choose where you want to buy them.

  91. I love #11. My sister will too when I tell her – as she dislikes Martha with a major intensity unknown to modern mankind.

  92. The silver balls are called dragees and should be available in most baking-supplies stores. Unless you’re in California, where the sale of them is illegal, because they’re thought to be inedible and possibly toxic (not true – they haven’t contained mercury for decades!) You could ask a nice Canadian to mail you some 🙂

  93. I thought of wee Hank as I was using my ball winder last night! I hope you feel better soon!

  94. I make macaroons (the haystacks) every year, they are a pain in general. I always add extra coconut until they are really thick and just spoon them onto the sheet. Still get some puddles, but not too bad. If it helps our house is also in the sick loop too and on a happier note my children all love the ball winder.

  95. I sure hope you feel better soon!! That happened to me last year. Sick at Christmas and still sick by March. It was beyond aweful.
    I love your Mum’s comment! We, the mere mortal must remember that Martha has STAFF who make everything PERFECT. I decided a long time ago, that PERFECT does not exsist and should not exsist. And she over uses that word so much.
    Rest, rest, and rest. Hank looks older and still sweet.
    Merry Christmas Steph!
    The Yankee Dyer

  96. Love, love your mum!!! I had the “honor” this past year to go to a taping of one of Martha Stewart’s shows. She has MAJOR attitude and lacks a personality!! Would not look at at anyone in the audience – it was like we weren’t there. Had a chef from a restaurant that made some food that smelled great – no one offered any. Wouldn’t make anything she recommended; she has a horde of people there making the food she shows – no hands on for her!! Hope those people get paid big bucks! Good luck with your spreadsheet and Christmas prep – I also have not told anyone what I’m making them – if I don’t get it done, oh, well@ I will, eventually.

  97. I was able to see you speak at the Waldorf School in Minneapolis in October. Knitting beside a good friend while listening to you live was a highlight of my year. I hope you have plans to turn “your brain on knitting” into a book. Merry, Merry Christmas!

  98. DUDE. I have the exact same problem with those effing Martha Stewart cookies every single time I try to make them. Where is Martha’s errata page??

  99. Martha’s recipes NEVER work. I think her test kitchen exists in some alternate universe where things just work differently. That would also explain her line of yarns…the $/yardage ratio must work out better there as well.

  100. Maybe too much egg and too little water. It’s hard to get coconut to stick to anything. Even macaroons need a little water to work. I can’t imagine it being in a recipe unless there’s additonal water to help stick it together. Maybe it would be great to knit with, especially if it was spun very fine. It might even be silky. :>)

  101. Cookie pressure is a very real thing. Luckily, my darling daughter volunteered to make the fiddly family favorite that requires a lot of rolling and cutting and rolling and cutting (etc.) of a crumbly oatmeal dough and you have to make two cookies for every finished cookie because it’s a sandwich thingy. Bless her heart.

  102. so of course I want to know more about Hank. I’m sure you need ot be a good friend, but maybe you can string us along a bit more. What a cute kid!

  103. The coconut macaroon recipe I have calls for just a wee bit of flour – 3 Tbsp, maybe? It is a fast recipe. I have never beaten the egg whites, and they turn out very yummy. I make them gluten free by substituting soy flour, and once they have baked you can’t tell. Unfortunately, I can’t share the recipe, since I won’t be home until after Christmas (visiting family this year), and I don’t remember where I got it.
    I hope you feel better soon. 🙂

  104. Wow. I thought knitters were supposed to be nice — those were some vindictive comments about Martha. And it’s Christmas, too!

  105. Just no killing yourself to make Christmas “perfect”… I’m sure that even with half your list undone, Christmas will still feel perfect when your whole family is running around the house singing and laughing and doing whatever it is the Dunphy-Pearl-McPhee clan does at Christmas 😉
    Hank is looking like a pretty awesome teenager these days 😉 Can’t let my son see pics, or he’ll want to dye his hair wacky colours – for now, he just wants it scruffy and long 🙂

  106. Hank is right. I remember pictures of him playing with the ball winder when he was much shorter and with different hair. Great, now I feel old…and he’s not even my relative.
    I wonder if he’ll still appreciate the winder when he’s 16?

  107. Please tell your mom I had the exact same phrase come out of mouth when I tried to make some toasted oat butter cookies from her holiday collection. They made a super sticky dough that was impossible to roll out properly without cups and cups of flour, and even then it was pretty miserable. I turned the air blue with my commentary of what Martha Stuart could go and do!

  108. I’m 64 and I still like the ball winder.
    And the comments aren’t vindictive – they’re accurate.

  109. I LOVE your Mum!!! I also have said the very same thing! My daughter and I were making something “Martha” ( I can’t remember what right now) and it wasn’t working, and she (who was 7 at the time) said “Curse you Martha Stewart!!” while shaking her fist in the air!

  110. Get well soon and don’t fret over the spreadsheet. Its just a bunch of zeros & ones.
    As for Martha, got a laugh out of your Mother’s omment and ‘banned in Winnepeg’ 😉 !!!!
    Her accent/speech patterns turned me off the first time I heard it. I guess I’m just not impressed by most mass media types — caught the last 5 minutes of a show on PBS many years ago. Then tried to watch another show the next week — couldn’t keep myself from changing the channel. It was a bit pretentious. 10-plus years later … still the same opinion. And wouldn’t you know, local PBS has put her back on AGAIN! Tried to watch the show — nope, not interesting.
    My mother has drummed it into me, that recipes in newspapers and magazines should be heavily scrutinized. They are notorious for ingredient typos … and who can tell when some editor cuts a critical sentence. I do compare recipes if I pull one from a print publication and/or the internet.
    Ironically, many years ago, a neighbor gave my mother a very nice magazine and she tried an Chocolate icing recipe (Ganauche actually). It’s easy and tastes wonderful. Yep — Martha Stewart. However, it is the ONLY recipe I would knowingly use of hers.
    M in NC

  111. Tell your mum there are a lot of people around who want to tell Martha Stewart the same thing.
    And who wouldn’t love a ball winder? The mechanical complexity alone is enough, never mind what it is intended for. The heavy duty ones with all the exposed metal guts are even more fun.

  112. Your mother and my mother would get along very well. My mother tells Martha Stewart to go f*)k herself often. Watching my mom watch Martha Stewart is like watching some total sports nut watch football. She yells at the TV, she laughs hysterically, she stomps out into the kitchen swearing. Pretty funny…
    I taught my granddaughter to knit a couple weeks ago. When she was here yesterday she said “When am I going to knit well enough to be able to use that wood thing and the windey thing?” (My swift and the ball winder) I told her a little while longer… like maybe when she finishes a row by herself.

  113. Your mom dropping the f-bomb just made my day. 🙂
    Merry Christmas to you and the family, and good health in the new year!

  114. Love #11! After reading some of the comments, I see that the Norovirus and Martha are about on equal footing! Sounds like your mom came down with the Marthavirus, causing her to unintentionally spew profanities out of her mouth. We’ve all been there! Have a very Merry Christmas! …and when is it okay to stop the baking and start drinking wine–would today be too soon??

  115. I have never met your Mum but feel a kindred spirit with her. Years ago, I, too, wished for Martha’s head on stick as the result of a failed super simple Stewart recipe. It was NOT a “good thing”. I have never gotten over the feeling of inadequacy and will turn Martha’s magazine around at the checkout stand because I know she is laughing at me. Life does go on, maybe not as elegant as Martha’s life, but it does go on.
    Merry Christmas Yarn Harlot. I hope you have a safe and healthy new year.

  116. I am in the same sickness loop.
    Except it is also my birthday, and also my ex-wedding anniversary (he ran off 2 years ago), and he gets the kids today FOR THE WHOLE NEXT WEEK (waaaaaaaah!)
    To counter the cynicism all of the above would give me, we stayed up till midnight on a school night making gingerbread houses last night. I was inspired by your “gingerbread day” post! (we were gonna do it anyway but the grinch very nearly got me yesterday)
    And all my kids still argue over who gets to crank the ball winder.
    My mom and teenage boy & I made candy last night, too. After 4 batches didn’t work, my mom was of the same opinion regarding Martha Stewart. Although I rather think my mom thinks of Martha Stewart like that ALL the time.
    Merry Christmas! In our house it’s considered an accomplishment if the homemade presents get mailed off before Valentine’s day. That eases some of the pressure!

  117. Sometime, when it’s not four days before Christmas, it would be cute to see all the pictures of Hank using the ballwinder in chonological order. Somethings never lose their allure.

  118. Your Mom rocks !!!!
    Aiming for “Martha like” perfection has ruined more festive events than you would imagine.
    Thanks for the laugh – it made a miserable, wet and glum morning giggle worthy !

  119. I LOVE your mom for saying that! Martha Stewart makes it look so easy – you forget that she has a staff that can correct any mistakes…but they don’t share that. Sorry you are sick. Hope the New Year is enough to break the cycle.

  120. I have LONG believed that Martha leaves ONE critical piece of information out of every recipe and set of directions. Just because she CAN.
    So I’m with your mom on this one…

  121. 100% behind your Mom about Martha. She is solely responsible for ruining more holidays than the Grinch.
    Hope you’re feeling well very, very soon. Merry Christmas!

  122. To help your immune system catch up:
    Try to get more sleep (I know!)
    Take a multi-vitamin every day
    Take extra vitamin D. Many, many of us, especially in winter, are deficieint in this vital vitamin and it definitely affects immunity.
    Eat very well-lots of fruit and veg, easy on the sugar and white flour.

  123. I sympathize with your Mom..yesterday was my marathon-baking day here and every recipe didn’t turn out like they normally do…couldn’t figure out if it was the flour, eggs or what..I did have new b.powder..who knows???….kind of makes one crazy for a few minutes…but hey, they are edible! Merry Christmas!

  124. One should only do recipes from Canadian Living; pretty well guaranteed success.
    My wool winder is a Woll Wickler. (probably spelled it wrong!) Bought it for 10 dollars along with a swift at a flea market. It’s from Germany, and is old enough to be made of wood. The name always makes me smile!

  125. Baking mishaps…as much as I love Christmas cookies and whatnot. I do not bake. It’s too expensive a hobby (and what is knitting???? I know!). I mean all that butter, eggs, cream, flour, spices, that adds up! I just stick to cooking because it’s really essentially to staying alive (more so than cookies and cake). And if it burns, it’s much less hard on the pocket book (and credit card).

  126. Beautiful cookies. So were the ones from the earlier post. I’ve been resisting buying a yarn winder. I’ve been telling myself that there is something peaceful and soothing about standing in front of a chair winding a skein of yarn into a ball. I suspect that, like the immersion blender that I put off buying for YEARS and now cannot imaging living without, I will break down and buy a yarn winder, soon.
    Happy Winter Solstice!! (Longer days, woohoo!!)

  127. Yesterday my 83 year old mother left the first batch of oatmeal cookies in too long. She told me she’s decided she’s too old to bake cookies. I’m putting that down to holiday stress.

  128. As for #5, as someone who works with teens, here’s how you play it: “Oh well, if you ever want to remember, I guess I could help, just let me know” Very noncommittally and calmly. It helps if you turn away a bit.

  129. Martha Stewart recipes sometimes don’t turn out. Turns out they aren’t actually tested prior to being published.

  130. Being sick during the holidays bites and I wish you a speedy recovery.
    The drawback is that the holidays and being rundown and already being sick is NOT a good mix…because you can pick up your next bug from someone who doesn’t even know they are sick.
    Wash your hands…lots. Make sure you “waste” the time you need on sleep and relaxing. And you have the healthy eating knocked out … get some extra C.

  131. I love reading your posts. You are so, so clever. My mom is gone now, and not a Christmas goes by that I don’t miss her. We still remember the Christmas she was knitting us each an afghan and was finishing the last one when we were opening the presents. What a special memory of love.

  132. Hi Stephanie! Happy Solstice and thank you so much for sharing your endeavors with your readers for another year. I have the same wool winder as you- it is the best knitting purchase I’ve made all year- for anyone on the fence, if you knit regularly you’ll love churning out perfect cakes of yarn.

  133. Cheryl..you took the words right out of my mouth! I kinda feel that way about Debbie Bliss’ patterns too. It’s like they are written in a foreign language.
    I too love Hank’s hair and actually just love Hank himself. He’s gonna be a heartbreaker.

  134. Happy Holidays! Your cookies are beautiful and I’m always excited when Hank posts come around. He seems like such a cheerful and awesome young man- I love his hair (Mine was bright pink in my senior year of high school).
    Happy happy holidays!

  135. I am SO with your mom right now. F all those people who make it look easy. I’m settling for simple and cozy now. And really, that’s not much of a settle.

  136. Apparently it was super frustrating to have a cookie failure this close to Christmas because then my mum said Martha Stewart should go f**k herself.
    I knew this was funny when I first read it. So I shared this bit with my college-age son, who is becoming the house baker. If possible, he made it even funnier.
    After I quoted “Martha Stewart should go f**k herself, my son paused, and then said, “It’s a good thing.”
    I am really starting to like the grown up version of this boy.

  137. “I have never gotten over the feeling of inadequacy and will turn Martha’s magazine around at the checkout stand because I know she is laughing at me. Life does go on, maybe not as elegant as Martha’s life, but it does go on.”
    You should hear my husband’s take on Martha. HE believes she has no friends, just business associates. Martha’s life may be elegant, but it’s most likely lonely.

  138. I hope you are feeling better by now.
    I didn’t think it was possible, but Hank gets more adorable every year, and I love his hair. Hmmm, now that he’s 12, I should say he gets more handsome every year.
    Thanks for the heads-up on the Martha Stewart recipes, maybe I’ll write a note in the cookbook before taking it to the reseller, and make room for another one that is reliable. Maybe it should just to into the paper recycle pile to save others the grief. I’ve long said she’d be nowhere without her staff, too bad the post of recipe verifier is unfilled.
    Canadian Living? Until now, I’ve never heard of it, now it’s saved in my favorites list. Thanks to those who mentioned it.

  139. I simply LOVE your book At Knit’s End!!!!! I have a knit class at Jeffersonville OH Library & we knit hats for babies and chemo patients. All our yarn & needles are donated … any suggestions as to where we can acquire more yarn? We’ve made hundreds of knit/crochet hats in the past couple of years – delivered to Findlay, Wilmington, Springfield, London, Washington Court House & Chillicothe OH hospitals and cancer centers. We did get a small donation from Lion Brand Yarn this past year. Any info would be helpful & thanks again for a delightful book … it makes my day to read in it:)

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