Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"It Is Foolish to Say"

"You know it is foolish to say, 'Yes, I'll give this up for the Lord,' and then want both the blessing plus the thing you have handed over to Him."

--Edith Schaeffer, With Love, Edith

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Breath

You know, it's just like summer. The house is endlessly filled with (happy) teenagers, the food flies out of the refrigerator as fast as I load it in, the dishwasher is always running and the laundry defies description.

I catch my breath where I can find it. An early-morning run. Earl Gray tea and a chocolate square. A few minutes at the sewing machine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Cold Trip to the Lake

It's been very cold here, but we bravely continue to get our Outside Time, even if it means we have to wear our coats!

The Composer took the kids out to the lake and got these lovely shots. I love how each personality reveals itself so clearly to the knowing eye.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Fanciful Rice Pudding

Although I don't *usually* landscape dessert, I couldn't resist this fanciful rice pudding set-up. The rice pudding, by the way, was a last minute gluten-free addition to the holiday menu, and I was surprised at how the gooey and elaborate Christmas cookies were ignored as everyone dove into it.

So, on my snowy rice pudding I've got a little decorative bird on a wire, stuck in just far enough so his feathers stay clean, and he's eating the pomegranate seeds I've scattered.

Pass with more pomegranate, kiwi slices, and lots of whipped cream. I used the Joy of Cooking for my pudding; recipes abound for this classic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"All My Mountains a Road"

"And I will make all My mountains a road,
And My highways will be raised up.
Behold, these shall come from afar;
And lo, these will come from the north and from the west . . .

Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth!
Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have compassion on His afflicted."

(Isaiah 49: 11-13)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Menu

•Smoked oysters and crackers
•Tortellini on skewers
•Hot dog bites in sweet and sour sauce (don't ask)

•Glazed potatoes with onion and bacon
•Roasted asparagus
•Mixed lettuce salad
•Platter of sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes
•Relish tray
•Parmesan-artichoke dip
•Homemade French bread

•Tray of assorted Christmas cookies
•Rice pudding garnished with whipped cream, kiwi, and pomegranate
•Fresh pineapple

•White grape and ginger ale punch with rosemary-cranberry ice ring
•Decaff coffee in the Christmas teapot

A Quick Crimson Fix

I found this wonderful linen jacket at the thrift store--big deep hood, big deep pockets, very heavy fabric. But really bland.

So I cut off the big beige plastic buttons and replaced them with buttons I covered in crimson corduroy. Then stitched crimson velvet ribbon around the inside of the hood. Now we love it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Floral Quilt

First let me say I Did Not Do This Embroidery. I found this completed quilt top in a thrift store in Pennsylvania. I bought it because it was super-cheap and it so reminded me of the top I cross-stitched in college and later quilted with my mother.

This one's fancier though. And that border goes all the way around the quilt, of course.

I quilted it last week, all week. I truly think if my sewing machine had been a car, we would have driven to the moon and back. But it's out of my stash!

Did I mention it's large? Fully queen-sized. I don't know what I was thinking when I brought it home. Now I'm thinking that I'm glad I'm finished!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Citizen Scientist Totes

Citizen scientists, at last someone has designed a tote just for you. I'm cracking myself up with these, and think they will be just right for some earnest children somewhere.

Use in the swamp, at the nearby lake, or simply in the back yard!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Corduroy Scarf

In a perfect convergence of wanting a corduroy scarf *and* having corduroy in my stash, I created the leopard-print wonder you see above.

I have a very inclusive attitude towards lavender bobbles. Bring them on.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Warm Winter Field

Giles took this while out on one of his volunteering jaunts. The boy is a workhorse on his vacations.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bella Makes Soft Pretzels

Bella has been busy in the kitchen. First a major batch of focaccia to raise money for Kimmie's adoption. These things sell like garlicky hotcakes.

Then, getting started on a few Christmas gift baskets, she did a double batch of soft pretzels. They don't look all that pretzelly per se, but the suggestion is there, and they were very good! They're a great choice for an actual gift basket, because they shouldn't be stored in an airtight container. Instead, we nestled them in a basket lined with parchment paper, and covered them with wax paper for a rustic yet chic presentation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Wool Plaid Capelet

How long have I been wanting to sew a scallop-edged garment? So long. This is a wool capelet that floats over the shoulders and ties at the sweet front of your little girl. It's lined in soft corduroy and scalloped All The Way Around.

I made one for Daisy, and one for the shop.

I love how Daisy immediately made herself a brooch and pinned it on. It appears to be the plastic base of some old fake flowers (her favorite thrift store treat), pinned on unapologetically with a big safety pin. Not for sale.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daisy Hunts the Christmas Tree, with Help

Do I have my mittens? Check.

Do I have my Papa? Check.

And Papa has a tree.

All is good.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dairy-Free Enchiladas

My maternal instinct spurs me to make casseroles for my hungry boys. Giles fed himself successfully all semester in his apartment, but the college-boy skills don't rise to the level of a dairy-free casserole, which is an advanced endeavor.

*Schoolhouse Enchiladas*

(Note: these are not as good as regular, loaded-with-cheese enchiladas. But they are good for dairy-free!)

In a good-sized skillet, saute a small onion, 1/4 c. diced green pepper, and 2 garlic cloves in 1 T. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

When onion is translucent, add 1/4 c. margarine to the pan. When it melts, stir in 1/4 c. flour to a smooth paste. Cook, stirring, for a minute. Then slowly add 2 c. good chicken broth. Cause you're making a spicy white sauce. Whisk and stir until sauce bubbles and thickens, letting it simmer for a few minutes. Season with a little more salt and pepper, then stir in 1 t. minced chipotle pepper in adobo, or more if you like things really spicy.

In a medium bowl, put about 3 cups cooked diced chicken. Or cooked ground beef. Pour enough white sauce in to moisten the chicken. You can add a can of mild minced chilies to the meat if you want.

Roll the chicken mixture up in corn tortillas, and lay them in a greased casserole dish. Pour the remaining white sauce over the enchiladas, then drizzle with a can of enchilada sauce. Bake at 350 for about half an hour.

Definitely serve this with a starchy side dish, like rice, or corn and black beans, and a big bowl of guacamole and chips, and a salad with vinaigrette. Your hungry boy will love you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lights to String

At last we are through our big projects and putting up the tree! After jam-packed weekends we are looking at a slow Sunday afternoon for stringing lights and getting out the ornaments. Special treats from the Christmas hamper, a fire in the woodstove, and several quiet hours together in a row.

Happy Sunday to you too!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Little Bit of Orange

I'm finding a little bit of orange creeping into my rooms--a surprise to me, since besides Daisy's mango walls, orange is a town I don't travel to much.

Orange with white, orange with gray, orange with a little bit of black . . . .

Can't resist!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daisy in a Red Dress

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Random Neutrals

Fed up with all the linen scraps in various shades of neutral, I am ridding myself of them in one fell swoop.

So, guys, if you are a neutral linen, you are getting used up. No exceptions. You're going in these baby quilts I'm making where I cut you into as large a square, rectangle or strip that I can, and I'm stitching you to a neighbor. Then I'm quilting you.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Roast Chickens in a Black Pan

For some reason these came out of the oven *extra* good today. I stuffed each with a celery stalk and half an onion, sprinkled each with salt and then drizzled with olive oil--nothing new. After two hours in the oven at 400 they had reached that nice medium mahogany color, without being dry.

One chicken went to a friend recuperating from neck surgery (it was very successful!), and one stayed home, where it was much enjoyed.

Shop for Kimmie

Beautiful-spirited reader Katie let me know that all the proceeds of her current Etsy listings are going straight to support Kimmie's adoption. She's got stoneware, knitted items, Grace Livingston Hills . . . . need I say more?

Thank you, Katie!

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Pink Flannel Dress, with Ruffles

A variation on this pattern: in flannel again, but this time with long sleeves and a ruffle at the bottom, by special request. This time I actually made up the bodice and skirt in a size TWO for my five-year old daughter, and omitted the zipper in the back, and it still fits loosely enough to slip over the head with no closure.

So beginning seamstresses, this is a good one to try--lots of style, and if your child is slim, just omit the zipper. Also, feel free to omit the bird's nest.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Grandmother's Sofa Totes

The pristine, short-length remnants jumped right off the thrift store shelf into my basket. I just know that they all came from the same grandmother. And she chose one of them for her sofa. In 1968.

Giles hopes that they all get purchased together so they can go clashing to the grocery store as a shocking team.

Shop here!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Running Plan

This running plan has been hanging on my fridge for sixteen weeks. I've run nearly every run on it.

I have faith in this plan. I did what it says, and it says I'm going to be able to run 26.2 miles, something I've never done before.

I'll let you know!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bean Soup with Ham

Always on my mind after a holiday feast involving ham . . .

The day before Soup Day, soak 2 lb. small white beans in lots of cold water to cover. The next morning:

Drain the beans and rinse. Cover with fresh cold water, deeply. Add all the remains of the ham, bones, and broth to the pot. Put on the heat, and add 2 chopped onions, 4-6 diced celery stalks, 4-6 diced carrots, a couple of bay leaves, and 2 t. salt. Simmer all day. Add pepper. Let cool before dinner so you can skim off most of the fat.

Serve with cornbread.

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