Thursday, December 30, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 4: Knitted Gifts

I started knitting these headbands back in November and I totally got addicted.  I've known how to knit a basic stitch since I was 12 or so but hadn't moved past it until this year.  I picked up Martha Stewart Living for November (you know, I just realized how involved Martha was this Christmas!).  I flipped through the pages at the news stand in the Duluth airport, deciding right then and there that I was going to knit that headband.

To my surprise cabling was quite easy.  My first headband (the green one) took several tries until I got the pattern down, then the rest flew.  I planned to make a lot for friends and family but only made it through four (which is actually pretty good for me, all things considered.)

I gave the Resident Photographer the headband which she is quite beautifully modeling here, and the green one we keep on hand for whoever needs it - usually me on my walks with the dog :)
They're are super cozy and a nice way to keep warm without giving you hat hair.

The other two headbands I knitted went to my sister and her daughter in Utah.  Sadly our Christmas package to them (and two of their other packages!) was stolen off their front steps.  I hope that stupid thief felt guilty when he saw the little wrapped headbands and other homemade gifts.  I was spitting mad, for once my homemade gifts were finished in time and then this.  *Sigh* I still have enough yarn though so I'll be knitting replacements this week.  Elise & Eliana I hope you like your gift!

If anyone is interested the pattern is here.  It's a great anytime gift and we're looking at several more months of cold weather I think - try it out!  I'm eager to test out the mittens but need to finish those headbands first!

happy knitting!

And here's a picture for the road...

Poor thing... we couldn't resist.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - part 3: Christmas Day (or I drink to much coffee day :)

We had a (very) quiet family breakfast Christmas morning.  I can't remember the last time our Christmas morning was so quiet.  We usually have family dropping in early while we're still opening our stockings!  Traditionally when someone got married instead of losing someone we just gained another person!  Then came the kiddos (I have 12 & 1/2 nieces and nephews).  We've turned over a new schedule, which meant this Christmas was quiet (we had the loud celebration with my siblings on Sunday) but next year we'll have everyone to ourselves on Christmas.  It's been so nice that everyone gets along fine and doesn't mind taking turns.

All this to say Christmas morning was a slow start.  Lots of coffee and of course the traditional last minute stocking stuffing.  I planned a breakfast for the six of us: Apple & Cheddar Frittata, potatoes and bacon.  (I'm not allowed to put green things in the eggs - my parents and I like it but my younger siblings protest - otherwise there would have been some spinach in there somewhere!)  We didn't get a good picture probably because we were all still so sleepy eyed, so I'm going to skip to the cake but please know, breakfast was yummy.

Maddie got these antique birds for Christmas from the resident photographer.  
They were the perfect addition.  Grandpa & Papa in back ground.

So... this cake has been rolling around in my head for some time now.  I think I must have been inspired from this post.   We have a dear friend who gives us Lemon Curd each Christmas.  We've had it on cookies and scones but it was time to try something new.  I love white cake but it has to go with the right meal.  We wanted to keep Christmas simple this year since it was just us and our Grandparents so I thought it was the perfect time to test it out.

I made the cake into three layers so we could put as much lemon curd in the middle as possible.  I was worried the cake wouldn't be moist enough without any frosting but it was perfect with a cup of coffee.  We had a rather white meal if I think about it: corn chowder, homemade rolls & White, Lemon filled cake but everything paired really nicely.  You can find the recipe here; I divided the batter into three 8 inch round cake pans for more filling and dusted with powdered sugar.  I also trimmed the edges to make the cake even but the sides did end up looking a little naked after that!

I spent Christmas day sipping coffee (I probably drank an entire pot by myself!).  The resident photographer (See her pictures form Christmas Here!) and I alternating spent time in the kitchen and our "studio" (*cough* which is really half of our room set up for sewing).  She was kind enough to keep me company while I finished a Christmas gift for Sunday.  

Speaking of coffee, I conveniently got a French Press for Christmas!  And some odds and ends:  yarn (yay for knitting!), a basket for my knitting, a scarf, photos, buttons (the pin on kind from the black apple, and a guitar tuner... now I suppose I have no excuses but learn to play!

You guessed it!  Pictures on this post by the Resident Photographer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 2: Truffles

These cocoa babies were probably over kill for Christmas this year, but I couldn't break tradition.  I started making them for my chocoholic brothers several years ago.  My family is big (and getting bigger again!)  I have four (chocolate loving) brothers and three (equally chocolate loving) sisters.  Our numbers exploded a few years ago as people started getting married and having babies so we switched to a gift exchange plan.  I like to add a homemade gift to the package each year and for the boys it became traditionally, truffles. 

Even though we did away with the Christmas exchange this year - everyone was spending more on the nieces and nephews anyways, so we switched to family gifts - I made a batch to share around our celebration.

These are very simple to make and that's part of the reason I love them.  They're easy to squeeze in when you're busy in the kitchen.  I follow Martha Stewarts recipe.  I've wanted to branch out in my coating, I always use dutch cocoa because I'm in a hurry.  I've toyed with the idea of adding something spicy (the way the brothers like things :) to the coating but haven't experimented yet.

We (siblings) celebrated together on Sunday.  We had so much food, these barely got touched!  But fortunately they store nicely in the freezer.

I made up a handful of these little gift boxes for my friends.  They turned out quite cute and were a great way to give away the truffles and marshmallows.  I have lots of paper left over so I'm eager to find more boxes for next years' goodies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Days (late) for Christmas - Part 1: Marshmallows

I took on a bit more than I could handle this Christmas.  I was up until 1am finishing projects Christmas Eve and still wrapping presents Christmas morning!  I don't think anyone minded though :)  That also means that my plans for blogging as I worked on projects went out the window.  We just snapped pictures as we we went then washed dishes and cleaned our rooms (again, and again, and again).
This was our third(?) Christmas making marshmallows and boy was it worth it.  After last year almost breaking our Bosch (which isn't supposed to be humanly possible, by the way) and having a huge sticky mess, plus accidentally adding too much peppermint - I wasn't sure if I was ready to try again, even a year later.  
Then I ran into a slightly different recipe over at Seven Spoons.  (I had used Martha Stewarts recipe before.)  We were delighted!

We concluded that the texture was even better than the last two years, but this could also be because our mess was somehow minimized (perhaps we're finally growing up?).  Oiling the spatula is also key!
  I liked the addition of egg whites, which seemed, at least in my mind, to make them "heartier."  Plus we used honey instead of corn syrup with absolute success!

These were meant to have on hand to give as gifts but I sampled way too many.  They melt just perfectly in hot chocolate but even plain they're solid little vanilla squares.  
These are just begging to be made.  I think they'd be perfectly festive for lonely January.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What we've been up to...

Exporing Duluth, and the superior waters

I spent a week exploring Duluth, catching the very very last hints of autumn.  In fact my flight out was delayed by a snow storm.  I spent my days wandering along the surprisingly warm beach, collecting sea glass and eating swedish food.

Then we decorated... wait for it... the garage!
For Thanksgiving!
  As we've grown our centerpieces have all but disappeared.  Years ago, my sister in law led us all in collecting, gold charger plates.  We use them every Thanksgiving.  We've reused the apples for place settings a couple times now but it's so simple and beautiful.  

I'm not super keen on Thanksgiving food but I love all the left over turkey in recipes.  My sister and I made Turkey Noodle Soup from (who else) the pioneer woman's recipe.  We followed her recipe for egg noodles too.


drinking excessive amounts of hot chocolate thanks to the resident photographer

decorating for Christmas

did I mention baking?

Anyone have good gift suggestions for parents?  I've been working on a few ideas but nothing yet!  
I've been knitting away on some Christmas gifts.  We're also plotting some first aid salve for gifts.  And I have a really exciting gift squirreled away for a certain someone.

p.s. I stole most of these pictures from my sister :)  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Be Ready

Be land ready
For you shall go back to the land.

Be sea ready
for you have been nine-tenths water
and the salt taste shall cling to your mouth.

Be sky ready
for air, air has been so needful to you-
you shall go back, back to the sky.

-Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When we were four

And chaos interminably reigns...

This is the life.  Period.  That's all I have to say.

I have three sisters.  Together we make four, of course.
Then we have a few sisters-in-love(law).  And a couple of sisters just cuz.  (Love you Karli!)

But there's just something about just the four of us being together.  It doesn't happen very often anymore.  Elise lives in another state and is most often missing from our sister time.

Do you realize how difficult it is to find  decent picture of us all together, without someone cracking up or me ruining it by talking!  This is what we usually look like...

Ahh, that's more like it.  Here we are casting off for a good laugh!
Well, that's what I've been up to, in a nut shell.  What about the rest of you?

For more pictures check out Beth's blog here!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playing Hide and Seek with the Sun

It's been deceivingly summerish around here until suddenly Monday, we woke up to an overcast day!  I can never seem to remember what the weather is supposed to be like around here this time of year.  Obviously, it's October, it should be cooling off.  I know that much but Idaho can be very diverse and I think I'm just used to taking it as it comes.  It's still only in the high 60's but that was enough of a push to get me fully in the mood for Autumn.  At least the sky matches the colors of the landscape now!  It was so deceiving (if not actually pleasant) to crunch the leaves downtown in shorts and sandals and sunshine.

I would love to do some canning and baking but there just isn't time!  It's a constant joke between a few of my friends that my common response to how life is, is "Good.  And busy."  Seems it's become my motto.  But the one thing that's marvelous about being busy, is (if you can) you learn to enjoy the simple things: coffee in pottery mugs, walks by the pond with the dog, the slightest change in the weather...

 and spontaneous crafting nights with sister!   

My sister sent me a link to most lovely yellow flower.  
And I immediately wanted to make one just like it.  

  I bought this hat at Forever 21 last year.  It had an ugly black pinwheel fabric flower on it.  I always meant to change it out but didn't before it warmed up.  It's quite whimsical and from some angles down right Charlie Chaplin (which I'm still not sure how I feel about) or an almost horrible 90's throwback (just don't pair it with any vests or primary colors!).  I think the flower helps :)

We have a rather spacious sewing room corner but packing four girls and dog in was quite cozy.  We were climbing over each other and constantly losing the scissors.  Perfect bonding time!

I think the hat is backwards but I like it better this way ;)

They're are lots of tutorials online for fabric flowers.  This is a flat rose.  I sort of followed both this tutorial and this one from Thread Bangers (which is actually part two, you can find the first video here).  I didn't make the flower as formal as Tanya, I left my edges rough and it's lopsided in a very pleasant way.

We also made some fluffy organza flowers (although it wasn't organza - don't you love how we follow the rules).  And attached some tiny roses to bobby pins with hot glue.  Bethany made a huge flower with some vintage fabric that turned out pretty fun.  

Thanks to the resident photographer for the photos!
P.S.  You may recognize the scarf from this post!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Lavender Colored Autumn Sky

I crept into the sewing room and found some inspiration in a scrap of soft purple fabric and a Japanese Dress Pattern Book.  There is so much inspiration inside from all the sweet little girls, muted colors and wonderful pictures!  I love the line drawing for directions - if only it were in English!  

I seem to always run into a snare transferring the pattern from paper to fabric.  All the patterns come printed on a large sheet and it's a matter of tracing through Japanese characters and several sizes to find the pieces you need!  However, it's very worth the hassle and the directions are simple enough that, even if I don't cut things out exactly right, I can trim pieces to fit as I go.  (If anyone else has a trick to using these patterns I would love to know!)  

Here's a peak into the sewing room

It's far from perfect and I didn't iron it for the picture!  The pleat in front isn't quite right and I got impatient with the bias tape finish and improvised.  I love it for it's peasant simplicity.
 It would be darling over a white turtle neck.  I have a particular little girl in mind for this but I still have to see if it will fit!  I have no idea what size I wound up making, I just eye-balled it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

To Autumn
-John Keats

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round thatch-eaves run-
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flower for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abrad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow, sound asleep,
Drowsed wit the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thoud ost keep
Steady the thy laden head across a brook,
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring?  Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou has thy music too-
While barred clouds bloom the softy-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue.
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud-bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now, with treble soft,
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Happy first day of Autumn!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

not your everyday apron

I drug myself into the sewing room, a few nights ago to start a project. I've been in something of a sewing slump lately. I ran into this lovely yellow fabric at the store months ago and snatched up a few yards but it came home and sat on the fabric pile for too long. I had picked it up with an apron in mind. We (sisters) tend to fight over one apron in the kitchen - which is ridiculous considering how often we're in the kitchen together and how boring (it's just black) the apron is. I cut the apron in a similar shape to the coveted apron but flared it up a bit.

There's something to me about yellow and grey that's very nostalgic. The colors together are very calming and feminine, in the right shades. I'm slowly finding myself collecting yellow and grey items: a book, a bag, an apron.This yellow and grey is so fitting for cold grey days.
I can't wait to mix up all sorts of baked goods in it this winter.

It's been pretty quiet around here lately but things should be getting messy soon :)
P.S.  All pictures by the resident photographer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The taste of summer

Let's be clear about one thing first... this is not a food only blog!  
That said, we made ice cream today.  

I cannot express how delighted I am at the end of each weekend when I remember I'm not going back to school this fall!  I've been dissatisfied with my college education of late and am saving my pennies and looking into other (college) options just now.  I felt like celebrating my extended summer.

This is turning into another of those "favorite foods" sessions but here goes.  I love ice cream!  It's the perfect summer dessert and Maddie (my sister) has been asking to make it since her birthday (back in June - oops!).  We had a big family dinner tonight so of course we had for dessert...  Strawberry Ice Cream!

It's a little like magic pouring thickly sweet milk into the churn and then voila!  Absolutely perfect fluffy ice cream.  It's so easy I feel like I haven't done anything.  (I left Maddie pureeing all those strawberries while I ran out for ice, so really she did all the hard work :).

Look at our happy ice cream faces:

Our cones were still drippy soft (the ice cream really needs to sit overnight, but all well!).

I can't get enough of the kiddos running around with ice cream faces!  
I was simultaneously scooping cones and snapping pictures crazily - they're just too cute!

*Sigh* summer, how I love you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Life has been crazy.  I've been running around since April and I can't believe it's already August.  I've got lots of big plans for things to blog about, it's just going to be a matter of finding time.  For now creativity fits under the food category and food is whatever is blooming in the garden.  So we have Basil.

Thanks to my mother we have a monster patch of Basil plants blooming.    
Basil is the best.  And here we must digress to all the wonderfulness of Basil: It's green - my favorite color; it smells wonderful; it's easy to grow (or at least my mother makes it look that way); it makes the best Thai food ever and I love Thai food.

Somewhere between visiting Utah, camping and California, my sister Maddie and I commandeered the kitchen to make some Thai Basil Chicken

I call this my "Imitation Thai Dinner" and if you've had authentic Thai, this does taste different but the fresher your basil the closer it tastes to Thailand.  This is also known as the company dinner around here, it's just so simple to whip up and everyone loves it.  Or at least I love it.

Thai Basil Chicken
I know I originally found the recipe online but I can't remember where!  
Serves 4-6

2 T. Sesame, Peanut or Vegetable Oil
1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 Red Bell Pepper, Cut into 1/4 Inch Strips
3-4 Garlic Cloves 
1 Serrano Pepper (or more if you want more spice)
4 T. Hoisin Sauce
2 T. Thai Fish Sauce
1 t. Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup loosely packed Basil Leaves
Jasmine Rice

In a wok or skillet heat stir fry chicken for 4 minutes in hot oil.  Add red bell peppers, garlic, and serrano.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add hoisin, fish sauce, sugar and water.  Throw in basil and toss until it wilts.  Dump it on a bed of rice and enjoy.

This recipe really is delicious with these exact ingredients but I've fudged countless times.  Plus it's high summer and seems such a shame to only use peppers in a stir fry, so we threw in zucchini and used some fresh peppers from the garden instead of serranos (I don't know what kind they were?  They looked like banana peppers).