December 2012 Archives


While the blog has been quiet, there has been much going on behind the scenes.  Actual knitting has occurred as well as the baking of cookies.  My wonderful daughter is very interested in cooking and very interested in helping.  So she's been my co-pilot on a couple of cookie making adventures.

I have long been in search of a gingerbread cookie recipe that didn't lead to cookies with the texture of particle board (I am not a fan of hard or crispy cookies!) I think I have finally found one!  It comes from the 2011 Cooks Illustrated Holiday Baking and this recipe alone was worth the purchase price.  And the fact that it comes together in a food processor makes it super fast to bring together.


15 ounces all purpose flour
5.25 ounces of dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tblsp. ground cinnamon
1 tblsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
12 tblsp. unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup molasses
2 tblsp. milk

Put everything up to the butter into your food processor and pulse until mixed.  Scatter butter over top and pulse until mixture is sandy.  With machine running, add molasses and milk until dough is a solid mass and evenly moistened.

Remove dough from processor bowl, gather together and divide in half.  *Roll each half to 1/4" thickness between two sheets of parchment paper (parchment paper is my new best cookie making friend).  Freeze for 10-15 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer, remove top paper and replace gently.  Flip over, remove top paper and discard.  Cut out your cookies and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Do not over cook!  Cool cookies for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack.  

Repeat from * until you've used up your dough.

For the icing, I mixed 1 cup of confectioners sugar with about 1.5 tblsp. 2% milk.  I don't have a piping bag, so I used a zip top sandwich bag and clipped a very small hole in one of the corners.   You need to let the icing set until solid before you pack the cookies away.  

This recipe was taste tested by the husband and the kiddo and met with rave reviews.  I cooked my cookies for about 9 minutes and they still have a great chewy texture.  For baking with kids, this is a great recipe because the dough is firm and there are no eggs so it can be consumed raw without concern.

Happy Holidays, All!  

Test Post from BlogPress on my iPad

I've been searching for a long time for a way to access my blog from my iPad. I've tried BlogPress before but couldn't log in (in spite of following all the instructions). Could two years of patient waiting have changed my situation? Testing things out with this post, including adding a picture.

In case you want to know, this is the kissing hand that Z created for me on her first day of school.

Note: photo was uploaded after resizing with Big Photo and then was added to post after logging in via Safari. Seems like when I do that, the image gets named "image.jpg" which is not very handy if there is name clashing. So images still seem flaky unless I upload to flickr or another service and then link out....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:S Main St,Chelsea,United States

Big Hand, Little Hand

If there is one thing I truly love it is little hands, and one little hand in particular.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Ann Arbor,United States

I guess it's feast or famine around here at my blog these days, nothing for months and then three posts in three days.  But I found something so wonderful, at least for those of us of a particular era, when I was shopping last night that I can't not talk about it.  

No, your eyes do not deceive you, it's a real live gen-u-ine Spirograph.  This (along with my Lite Brite) ranks as one of my all time favorite toys ever.  A year or so ago I started looking for one so that I could add one to Ms. Z's collection (when she was old enough to use one), only to find that they simply weren't made any more and that stalking eBay was going to be the only way I'd ever find one again.   I was more than a little heartbroken that it was going to be so hard to share one of my favorite toys ever with my daughter.

So imagine my surprise when I took a trip to Learning Express in Ann Arbor (a most fabulous independent toy store that you should definitely visit if you are in the area) and found a real live Spirograph set.  I snagged one without a second thought.  And when I went up to the register mentioned that I was so excited to see them back and was getting one for myself.  

Which is when I got the wonderful story that goes along with them.

Apparently, the folks at Kahootz Toys, which is also based on Ann Arbor, MI, wanted to license the Spirograph product from Hasbro and manufacture this retired toy, which they also missed.  Hasbro didn't have a problem licensing, but the molds for many of the gears just didn't exist any more.  So Kahootz went to eBay and bought several vintage Spirographs and reverse engineered the pieces from these vintage kits and started manufacturing the sets.  Learning Express got their first batch (and probably the first batch of them that was delivered to anyone) of them on December 17, 2012.

Aside from a lack of thumb tacks (this new kit uses a tacky putty to hold the wheels down) its just like what I remember as a kid.  The case is much improved (the old box was easy to break down) and the front panel serves as a work surface but the wheels are all what I remember and the manual includes all the wonderful old designs as well as much more information about how the Spirograph wheels work.  

Those wheels are just about as much happiness as I can imagine from hard plastic gears! 

When I asked if it was selling well, I was told that they had sold 500 of them since they put them out, many to people like me who were past their peak toy using years...  I guess I am not the only one who loved this toy when I was small!

Although it looks like this toy is available from pre-order on Amazon... if you want it right now, I'm pretty sure you could call Learning Express and order it since they take phone orders.  That would make my heart sing extra loud since buying local and from small unique businesses is one of the causes I really try to get behind and this is a toy revived by an Ann Arbor company and sold at a local Ann Arbor business (at least right now). 


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