Sunday, December 26, 2010

the domestic goddess

Finished with one day to spare.
In the end, I loved this pattern. Not at first, though. Way too many pieces to cut. But it came together easily with only one (small) mishap along the way. The pattern includes several nice details that really make the finished apron look beautiful. Skirt pleats, curved and lined pockets, a pleated and lined bodice, and nicely shaped bodice and skirt ties. I have plenty of fabric left over, so I think a potholder or two will make a nice follow-up gift. And, I see another one of these in my future -- one that will stay in my kitchen!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

under construction

I'm trying to be reasonable about what I can actually accomplish between now and Christmas. Two aprons and some baking -- that's it. First up is Amy Butler's short pleated apron, made with some Alexander Henry fabric that I just love. The second is full-length and hasn't even been started yet (hey, I have two weeks).

And these cookies are making awesome gifts. Easy to pull together and good with white or wheat flour (I forgot to use wheat on the second batch). With wheat, the dough can actually be sliced, but with white, it's much more crumbly and needs to be sort of pressed together. I found the cacao nibs at Central Market.

I'm thinking of trying these, too. The combination of caramel, chocolate and salt is hard to resist.

One more week of school and then two slow weeks of sleeping late, going to the park and knitting!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


December seemed to come out of the blue, and yesterday I realized that I had never gotten around to making an Advent calendar. After school and work, we headed upstairs and I hunted through the fabric stash for something that might resemble Christmas. The closest I could find were red chickens and owls and green stripes. If you squint from a distance, you'd never know those owls weren't little trees! I sewed strips to the backing and straight lines to make the pockets. Finished all edges with pinking or zigzag. Then the kids used stamps to number the pockets.
They were quite excited this morning to find that the elf on the shelf had snuck into pocket 21 while they were sleeping.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

gingerbread fun

It started with this book that Claire checked out from the library:
and the story of a girl who eats a dog biscuit. At the end is a recipe for "human being treats," which she has wanted to make since we first read the book. So today we did.
Mac helped decorate.
They're delicious!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

two months

I'm remembering the last post in Alabama and it seems like far longer than two months ago. A new year has begun with its attendant frenzy, and we've now settled into a routine that will last through May. I've yet to set foot into the garden this fall; the summer perennials are so leggy they're about to walk out of their pots (the ones that survived, that is!).

I've been wearing the two sweaters I finally finished. Love them both, but especially the Nantucket Jacket. It's so soft and warm, and the cables are awesome.
The empire waist cardigan is pretty cool, too.
After a morning of football yesterday, I hit three yarn stores looking for a new project, but came home empty-handed. That didn't last long. Now I'm waiting for this pattern and yarn to arrive. It's a chunky yarn knit on really big needles, so I'm hopeful that I'll finish it in time to wear this winter!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

lazy days

It seems fitting to spend our annual week on the Alabama coast working on a skirt from the Alabama Stitch Book. My first foray into hand stitching, and love it. I cut the panels and stenciled them before leaving home. Now I spend lazy days on the back porch stitching around the stenciled designs and cutting out the shapes.

On the horizon, tugs pull barges back and forth. Sometimes they go in circles. We suspect they're skimming for oil.

Until today, the beaches have been clean; the sand white and powdery, the water clear and warm. Today we're getting a film of oil stirred up by the storm brewing in the gulf. Each day we see workers on the beach. They collect early in the morning a couple of miles down West Beach and take off in pairs driving dune buggies up and down the beach, sometimes scouring an area on foot. None of this has kept us from the water.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Seven years old. Her birth seems like yesterday and yet a lifetime ago. How she has grown in those seven years. Today, we celebrated with new skirts (which necessitated a quick trip to City Craft), bottlecap jewelry and her favorite red velvet cupcakes.

May her joy for life never grow old. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

homemade french dressing

A long time ago, I spent several months in France. Twice I flew to England and took a combination of buses, ferry (way before the chunnel!) and trains to Lisieux, in Normandy, and later Tours, in the Loire valley. I was in college at the time and was an extraordinarily picky eater. But those months spent eating seasonal fruit, meat from the semi-weekly market and delicious bread cured every last food aversion I had.
One such aversion was to salad dressing. On the rare occasions that I would eat a salad, I topped it with nothing but salt. During my second trip, which was to Tours, I lived with a family. Dinner each night ended with a simple green salad and cheeses from the week's market trips. Those salads were always the same and always delicious.
To make the dressing, start with shallow bowl. Add a small teaspoon of brown mustard, a clove of chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with a soup spoon of red wine vinegar. Add three to four soup spoons of canola oil one at a time. Mix very well after each addition so the dressing emulsifies properly.
It's also good with tomatoes. You'll want a loaf of crusty bread to sop up every last bit from the plate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

everything's better with knitting!

Or is it the other way around? :)  I have a new sweater on the needles. This one is the empire waist cardigan made with classic elite provence. I saw it on a friend to knit with last summer and started it not long afterward. It was eclipsed, though, by the cabled sweater (which is now sitting -- half-put-together -- in the basket from which I rescued the empire waist cardigan).
This is perfect, sit-by-the-pool knitting. The sleeves and back are knit sideways, starting at the end of one sleeve and knitting across to the end of the other sleeve. Then you pick up stitches along one edge and knit in the other direction to make the skirt (peplum?). Off to sit by the pool, knitting in hand...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I spent the weekend clearing out cabinets and drawers, baking, and knitting. First the baking -- because everything's better with chocolate! These are Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars from Better Homes & Gardens.
I couldn't find the link, so here' the recipe:
3/4 c butter, softened | 1 c packed brn sugar | 1 egg | 2 t vanilla | 1/2 t salt | 2 c flour | 1 pkg semi-sweet chips | 3 T butter | 1/4 c hot strong coffee | 1/4 c peanut butter | 1 c powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350. Grease 15 x 10 x 1 pan. Make cookie base: Beat 3/4 c butter of butter on medium for 30 seconds. Add brn sugar and beat until combined. Add egg, vanilla and salt; beat until combined. Same with flour. Spread over prepared pan. Bake ~20 minutes. Cool completely.

For frosting: combine chips and butter in small pan and stir until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and stir in coffee and peanut butter. Whisk in powdered sugar. Spread over cookie base.

I put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden before cutting into bars. Crunchy, buttery and just a little peanuty. Very good! And now for the knitting:
My cabled sweater is almost finished. Wrong season, but I'm just happy to have made so much progress. One sleeve left to sew, the border to crochet and that's it! On a less-pleasant, but certainly satisfying, note, I made progress with the de-cluttering.
Our new goal is to have the house ready to list in early July. This is so much work. I would much rather hang out by the pool!

Monday, May 31, 2010

happy memorial day

We're flying our flag to honor those who died serving our country,
spending time with family,

and waiting patiently for the first summer harvest.
Happy summer!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

random bits

A new tree from the Arboretum's plant sale:
It's a dwarf bald cypress and shouldn't grow more than about 8' tall. The needles are soft and feathery and make your hands smell piney.

Potted mandevilla in front of a gate:
The gate is on its side in front of the pool equipment, and the mandevilla will cover it nicely by the end of summer.

And coffee on a Sunday morning:
Working in a school means that the month of May passes in a blur. At this point, it feels like I've run several miles and the end is in sight. A half-finished laundry room curtain has been sitting on my sewing table for months. My sweater sleeves are buried at bottom of the bag. My friend is moving to New Jersey, and I'm trying to finish a small knitted item for her. The get-the-house-ready-to-sell work has stalled. One more week of craziness, and then I'll restore order to this chaos. Or not.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

a new quilt

It's time for a new quilt. We have a wonderful new fabric shop in Inwood Village, CityCraft. I was only planning to look around, but in the end, I couldn't resist and walked out with a pattern and fabric stack.
There are, of course, a few projects ahead of this one, but I can see the finished product gracing a boy's bed, and it looks pretty sweet. I don't know what I'm going to do with this:
but it sure is cute. I like long-legged chickens. Speaking of which, I managed to hit a few stops on the coop tour a couple of weeks ago. Very cool coops and lots of good ideas for next time. I think they'll have to wait though. It looks like the house may go on the market soon. So much decluttering to do (says the girl with the new fabric).

Saturday, April 10, 2010


The backyard has pretty much been put back together; we roasted marshmallows on a beautiful spring night last weekend.

The roses are blooming, and they're beautiful. Actually, they're pulling down the fence, but that's another story.
Here's to a weekend full of baseball, football and family.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Not from our own chickens, but given to us by Edison, who helped lay sod over the giant sandpit in the backyard last week. He saw the abandoned chicken coop and run, and I told him about the laying hens that weren't, in fact, hens at all. He laughed, walked to his truck and came back with a dozen fresh eggs from his chickens. Yippeee!
I love how orange the yolks are. The last three made waffles this morning. Makes me think it's time to start working on the coop again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

spring break

A quick trip to Connecticut, where everything was wet and grey/green.
An afternoon at the Arboretum, with blue skies and happy kids.
Movies, yard work and then a marketing seminar that afforded an early-morning walk through Uptown.
But I still haven't put in the garden. Tomatoes should be in the ground by now. It's rainy and cold today, so no gardening. Maybe a trip to North Haven to at least look at plants...