holiday stockings

Last year I made these oversize holiday stockings from the purl bee. The heels are turned as they are on a regular sock, but it is knit flat with bulky yarn. It's a very good project to try out sock knitting. I did one in the round, but I wouldn't recommend it. The seaming up the back gives the stocking extra structure and it looks better seamed.

I had a ton of leftover white and cream yarn from a sweater (it's Louet fingering, held double) and lots of colourful scraps, so I followed the pattern exactly (I also wasn't feeling that creative last year, to be honest). However, if I made these with new yarn, I'd do them one each in chocolate, grey and tan with a little bright fair isle rather than stripes.

I'll add in this tip that I wish I'd known at the beginning: embroidery yarn works perfectly for the stripes. It's cheap and you can find any colour. Just be sure to only wash the socks in cold water and lay flat to dry. I didn't have any problems with bleeding or shrinking on mine.

baby pine trees

We got our tree last night. I don't really want to decorate it at all, it looks nice just plain in our living room. That's obviously not going to fly with the 3-year old set, though.  I have only just figured out why our trees weren't smelling like anything the last few years — we were picking small trees. I like small trees, but they don't have enough sap to smell like a tree, so we've switched back to the bigger ones.

This is a little clearing with baby pine trees protected by netting.

Overnight French Toast with Panettone (or without)

Last year, I put in Snowy & Chinook's recipe for pancakes, from Snowy & Chinook.

This year, I'll give you my favourite breakfast recipe. This is my version of Overnight French Toast: French toast you make the night before and then bake in the oven in the morning. This is a very kid-friendly recipe, both preparing and eating.

We love this with panettone, but if you're making this for a big group it might be better to use plain bread. I find every gathering has at least 1 anti-raisin member.

We have this on Christmas morning and sometimes New Year's. It's nice for a big group. You can grill bacon in the oven at the same time: just arrange bacon over a rack or grill (a cooling rack is perfect) which is set on a rimmed cookie sheet. The bacon will be done at the same time as the French toast and then just plate it all and serve. It's the easiest big breakfast and good for extra-sleepy or busy mornings.

This is a pretty flexible recipe, so use or don't use extra ingredients as long as your ratio of eggs to liquid is close to the basic recipe, it will be fine.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients (panettone-style)

— 2 to 3 medium panettone or 1 big panettone, sliced to about 3/4 inch thick
— 8 eggs
— 2 cups milk
— 1/8 cup sugar, or more or less to your taste
— 1 tablespoon maple syrup
— 1 teaspoon vanilla
— 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients (any-other-bread-style)

— 1 loaf challah, french bread, brioche or plain white bread, sliced to about 3/4 inch thick
— 8 eggs
— 1 and 3/4 cups milk
— juice of half an orange, or about 1/4 cup orange juice
— 1/8 cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon sugar, or more or less to your taste
— 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
— 2 teaspoons vanilla
— 1/2 teaspoon salt
— cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
— zest of 1/2 an orange or lemon
— 2 Tablespoons cognac (optional)


Very generously spread butter over the bottom of a couple of baking pans with sides.

Arrange bread slices in the pan.

Beat all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over top of bread. How much liquid you need depends on the bread, so don't pour it all on at once. Keep adding until there is enough to generously moisten the bread all over, but the bread shouldn't be swimming in the mixture. After a minute, turn over the bread to make sure it is all coated and soaked through. If there is any leftover liquid, pour it down the sink.

Cover with saran wrap and place in fridge. The next morning (or at least an hour later) place into an oven heated to 400 F. Bake 15-20 minutes per side, until each side is golden brown.

Serve with warm maple syrup or whatever topping you like.