Top Picks: Van Morrison’s album 'Astral Weeks (Expanded),' Goldieblox's 'Fast-Forward Girls 2015,' and more

Food52.com's 'Cookies of the World' map lets you add international flavors to your baked goods this year, the Grammy Awards nominees could provide some gift inspiration, and more top picks.

Fast-Forward Girls

Christmas cookies

Want to add some international flavors to your Christmas cookie swap this year? Food52.com has created a colorful interactive map of Cookies of the World. Click on a location and you’ll open up one of 46 recipes, such as chocolate pepper cookies (South Africa), springerle cookies (Germany), coconut milk fudge (India), and mango melting moments (Australia). Grab your cookie pans and check it out at food52.com/p/cookies-of-the-world

Girl power

Toy company Goldieblox made headlines with its engineering toy for young girls. Now it’s released a fun video, Fast-Forward Girls 2015, with girls portraying some of the women who also made headlines in 2015, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; actress Viola Davis, who became the first African-American to win an Emmy Award for best actress; and Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL. Check out the video at http://bit.ly/fforwardgirls.

Soft armor

In a time of uncertainty comes a comfort in the form of a woolen craft. Arm knitting is a technique that uses the thickest of yarns and the crafter’s arms for needles. Infinity scarf cowls can be made in less than an hour – a great skill if you are looking for last-minute ideas to make cozy homemade holiday gifts. There are lots of arm knitting tutorials online, but we liked the thorough, step-by-step explanation from The Crafty Gemini. Take a look at http://bit.ly/ArmKnittingTutorial. 

Grammy nominees

If you are looking to fill out your holiday shopping list for the music lovers in your life, you might want to review the nominees for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. Check out the top picks from the past year at grammy.com/nominees. Winners will be announced Feb. 16 on CBS.  

Melancholy masterwork

Albums such as Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks (Expanded) defy categorization. Like Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” or Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark,” it is a monumental creative work that belongs in any music collection. Nothing like it has ever been made before or since its release in 1968. The album’s tracks were improvised by jazz musicians, but it’s not jazz. It is a singular journey by musicians who didn’t even know one another when they entered the studio – and the result is a mystical, melancholy masterpiece.

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