Winter Favorites 2010

Okay I know it’s not technically winter until December 21st, but it’s cold out! And when it’s cold out, I think warm fuzzies, comfort foods, shiny baubles and the like. In other words, it’s time for my winter favorites list. J

Alpaca Wool – I love alpaca wool. In my opinion, it’s much warmer and sturdier than sheep wool. I have a pair of alpaca glove-mittens that I’ve had for years, and with one minor repair, they’ve held up beautifully. The fabric woven from alpaca doesn’t seem to get pilly and ragged looking like sheep wool does (especially after washing). And even in the coldest weather, my hands stay toasty warm.

Mushrooms – I’ll eat mushrooms any time of year, in any preparation, but in the winter they are especially welcome on the table. I love mushrooms in beef stews, or with chicken and a spicy, crisp wine like a Riesling or Gerwurtraminer. Coq au vin is my favorite chicken and mushroom preparation in cold weather – paired with couscous or egg noodles it really hits the spot. Smothered pork chops with mushrooms is good as well. And stuffed mushrooms are an easy, classy appetizer at holiday gatherings.

Nordic-style Sweaters – For the most part, I’m a sweaters and jeans girl. I love Nordic-style sweaters because they’re both warm and stylish. I like both simple cable knits and the more intricate Fair Isle patterns. And classic colors are what I like best – cream and brown, red and black. They were hard to find for a few years, but places like Land’s End have rightfully brought them back into the fold.

Shiny Brite – Yeah, you knew a Christmas item would make this list. My husband and I have been collecting Shiny Brite (and hand blown glass) ornaments since we got married. We love the vibrant colors and vintage look of Shiny Brite. I’m fortunate enough to have some of the real deal and they’re great. I’ve always got my eyes open at thrift stores and yard sales. And they have issued reproductions of many of the designs in case you can’t find any of the original stuff.

Snickerdoodles – This is my favorite cookie in the whole world. It’s like a sugar cookie, only better – it’s softer, it’s chewier and it has the warm kick of cinnamon topping it all off. Though traditional recipes call only for cinnamon in the sugar topping, I like to add a teaspoon to the dough as well. It’s best to let them cool completely and set up when you take them out of the oven, but I find that I can rarely wait that long…

Faux Bois – Love the faux bois, especially over the holidays. I like simple gift wrappings – gold leaves for gift tags, red and white butcher twine, and faux bois everything. Making faux bois gift paper and bags is simple and paired with luxurious ribbons looks fabulous. And I got super excited this year when I discovered that the Container Store is selling faux bois stump tins – perfect for cookies! And every once in a while, I like to indulge my faux bois fix by heading over to It’s (K)not Wood – a blog fully dedicated to all things fake wood.