Monday, November 30, 2009

Decorative Quilt Square: The Beach

This project has been a long time coming--I have been doing it in fits and starts; in small snatches of time where I had a both few moments and the inspiration to match. The idea first came from these little quilts by Amanda Soule, writer of my favorite blog Soulemama. Hers were inspired by vintage dress patterns--mine, my favorite place. I hesitate to even call it a quilt, because as yet, I have no idea how to use my sewing machine. This was done using iron-on adhesive backing and some hand stitching. I guess this is good news for others who are not fluent in sewing machines! I also cut my grandmother's crochet-work off of a pillow case to make the breaking waves. My reasoning was that my Nonna's work would be better appreciated hanging on a wall for all to see than in its former home at the bottom of the linen closet.
I hope that this inspires you to try something new, even if you need to find your way around a road block, though one of these days I will figure out that machine!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barefoot Sunday: Chicken Chili

Get out your cutting boards folks! This recipe is delicious, easy, and fun to make. You can find it right here, courtesy of The beginning stages involves a good amount of chopping (remember to chop bell peppers with the skin on the cutting board)--but it's simple, colorful, I-am-a-glamorous-cook kind of chopping:
A tip from me: When a recipe calls for the herbs and spices to be added all at once, I measure them out ahead of time so that I am not messing with tiny jars and tinier spoons while things are overcooking on the stovetop:
This dish was very delicious, and to us, tasted like more of it's own thing than a chili. This would be great to make for a crowd (gathered for watching football, perhaps?). I served it with sour cream and shredded cheddar as toppings, but swapped out the corn chips for corn bread (because I love it) and included a leafy green salad: 
PS: Thank you, Mom, for my little blue day I will actually use them for their intended purpose :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Book of Jane

This is one of the few books that I have ever read more than once (just finished it again!). The Book of Jane is what I reach for when I am feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little anxious too. From the back of the book: "In this witty and contemporary retelling of the story of Job, Jane discovers what she really wants after nearly everything she holds dear slips away." While that description is not untrue, this read is still classified as "chick-lit" in my opinion and was told in such a way that you could understand the character's plight while not also needing a box of tissues beside you. I would call this book...a security blanket on pages.
I'm not quite sure who will be the next to read this...any ideas friends?
PS: A fun shot celebrating the book cover (since I already had the chihuahua and all :)
PPS: the kitchen and I are friends again...tune in tomorrow for Barefoot Sunday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Aww, man!! Photo Outtakes

Well, I had lofty goals of photographing the pizza-maker and the gorgeous brick oven from tonight's dinner out (the kitchen and I love each other, but we each need some space)...but I forgot the camera--and, we saw a deer on the way (go figure). the name of making the best of your circumstances and laughing instead of pouting, I bring you various photo outtakes instead:
I hope this day after Thanksgiving brings you laughter and joy. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, the day was not without its various foibles (gravy?, but overall the food was yummy:
And the mood was light: 
Phew! Now I am ready to be nowhere near the kitchen. I hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Provisions and Preparations

Today has been about gathering provisions and making plans for tomorrow's Thanksgiving celebration. Though it will be just four of us (our three plus my father-in-law, whom Amelia calls Papa), I am aiming for a delicious and traditional meal and a warm-feeling, kid-and mama-crafted setting. Once again, being in a school environment allowed me access to super fun stuff: a die-cut machine. I used my own scrapbooking paper to make leafy cutouts and strung them together from left-over yarn from you-know-where ;) Turkey and baby chick cutouts were glued to cut paper towel rings to create placecards/napkin rings. Also, there are a few speckled pumpkins and one giant squirrel thrown in for good measure.

Now, let's cross fingers that I don't need to go to the grocery store for the third time today! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Knitted Necklace

That was a great movie, and so fun to see in a packed house of screaming fans! Now, for the necklace. The idea came from Tara Frey's blog and was an easy project and so much fun to wear. I chose a very soft and textured yarn to make it look more like it's own thing and less like a too-thin scarf. I cast on three stitches and used a garter stitch the entire time. I cast off the end like a scarf and then hand stitched the two ends together with embroidery floss to form the loop. 
Some tidbits: 
* I like the smoothness of metal knitting needles, but with so few stitches per row my knitting kept falling off the needles (forcing me to hold my breath and place them back on). The texture of wooden needles may help prevent that.
* The total length before looping was approximately 6 feet. Keep in mind that I chose to wear mine doubled-up (which increased the length) and that I am only 5 feet tall, so if you are any taller (which most of you likely are) you will need to adjust to your height and desired necklace length.
Happy knitting!
PS: Jason has been saying that I need to put a picture on here with me wearing my now-ever-present-glasses. So, in honor of Flickr and Soulemama's Self Portrait Tuesday, here's me in my four-eyed glory:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Self-Imposed Deadline or...the New Moon knitted necklace

After some reflection, it appears that one hobby I truly enjoy is choosing, buying for, and starting knitting projects. There is such a feeling of promise and excitement when casting on that first row of stitches. Fast forward fifty rows...and I start to get a wee bit bored. Much like the pumpkin patch deadline for Amelia's scarf, I am declaring an official due date for the knitted necklace--tomorrow night when I go see New Moon. Tune in tomorrow for pictures and a project review!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Barefoot Sunday: Easy Cheese Danish

These were sooo delicious, quite possibly my most favorite Barefoot Sunday so far. Sometimes I reduce the amount of zest in Ina's recipes to suit our taste, but since making a Danish was uncharted territory for me, I wasn't yet ready to experiment. For this recipe, we felt like the flavor was just right. The preparation was easy, if not a little bit time consuming; Ina says that you can assemble these the night before and then bake them in the morning. Next time I will do just that, since this ended up being more of a Barefoot brunch rather than breakfast. The recipe calls for it to be served warm, but we found that at room temperature the flavors were more enjoyable and identifiable and the physical Danish was easier to handle. All I can say is yum and I'm glad that I made extras :)
PS: These were Easy Cheese Danishes from the Barefoot Contessa At Home Cookbook.
PPS: This calls for only 2 tbsp of ricotta cheese--for economic purposes, it may be helpful to plan another ricotta-based recipe for later in the week (we're having baked ziti:). 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

At Our Alma Mater...And My 50th Post!

Wow! 50 posts--that's so many things to say. I was trying to think of very clever things to write and/or do and photograph for this one...but then we were given tickets to our undergrad alma mater's football game and all of that went out the window :) This was Amelia's first Gator game and "real" trip to The Swamp, as we call the stadium. We dressed her in Gator-garb, reviewed the chants and cheers, bought her a swamp-dog (the best hot dog on the planet) and had a great time. I think she enjoyed the energy and was excited to finally be in a socially-appropriate venue to use her "outside voice" to the best of her ability!
PS: Tune in tomorrow for Barefoot Sunday Breakfast

Friday, November 20, 2009

At Our House We Mix Up Play-Doh

That's our house you are allowed to mix the play-doh colors. Why? Several reasons: 
1) You can make more fun and detailed creations
2) It's a lesson in color blending: yellow and blue make green...all the colors squished together make puce :) 
3) I simply do NOT have the energy or desire to spend any time worrying about enforcing play-doh separation laws. I would much rather just pull up a chair and join in the fun. 
Hurray! The weekend is here--mix it up!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Repurposing Jars

So...the other day I had a serious lapse in judgement and purchased some store-bought bruschetta (the brand has been cleared from the picture):
It was inedible. Yet, the jar it came in was so square-shaped and pretty! What could I do with it? Flower vase? Nah...I already made one of those out of a pickle jar. How about a button jar? Ok! I got to work cleaning the jar: 
I removed the label with "Goo Gone" and my family's all-purpose tool, a butter knife:)  I used dish soap to remove the "Goo Gone" grease. Then I used some lemon and a pinch of salt to clean the inside of the jar and remove the food smell. I let it dry and filled it with my very newly established (and therefore small) button collection:
Much better!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Blog (for Bliss)

There are a good number of reasons why I decided to start a blog; but at the core, it's because after a long and exhausting day I don't want to only look at this: 
I would much rather relax for just a few moments and look at this: 

and this:
I do hope you enjoy it too. 
PS: If you look closely at the photograph in the middle, you can see a bird's nest and a blue dragonfly. Ah, bliss.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake Review & A Recipe Too

Let Them Eat Cake (Sandra Byrd) was a book that I couldn't put down...I even had it with me in my giant purse to read at a moment's notice. Initially I worried that I wouldn't be able to relate to the character, Lexi, who is at the beginning stages of adult life in her early twenties (and I am, ahem, in my early...thirties...there I said it). I didn't have that issue at all. While young and at a crossroads, Lexi was intelligent and mature enough to be relatable to any reader. Mostly set in a smallish French bakery/coffee house in Seattle, the environment of the book is enjoyable, rich, and relaxing. I didn't notice when I purchased it, but I believe this book is or could be classified as Christian fiction, though it's not overbearing in that realm. I knew a few pages in that I would photograph this book along with a petit four pastry (purchased); what I did not realize was how many other non-dessert recipes were part of the story. In honor of the book, tonight for dinner we had "Croque Alexandras," the character's take on the french ham and cheese sandwich, the croque monsiuer. I am not sure of the rules about what to share from someone else's book, so I will just say that instead of a traditional flour-butter roux and swiss or gruyere cheese, the author suggested melted brie and topped it all off with powdered sugar (which was very necessary--we did a small taste test since I don't usually have powdered sugar handy--it needs it and is divine).

This book is in Jayne's hands now. In other book news, The Way Life Should Be has now moved from Jayne to Lisa. I love the life-cycle of book sharing! 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Milkbottles Repurposed

A few weeks ago my friends Amy, Lisa, and I were working on a special little project together that was supposed to begin with flowers for each of us. Spending my days at a school means I have quite a lot of access to tiny containers of milk (a.k.a. free vases)! With kitchen shears, I removed the top portion of the salvaged bottles. I expected to have to tape over or sand the rough edges, but the plastic was so soft that I didn't need to. Then I used leftover scrapbooking supplies to personalize each vase with our initials. Finally, I split a grocery store bouquet among the three of us. So, this lovely display of three personalized bouquets cost a total of $3.60. Green, economical, and pretty? Yay!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barefoot Sunday: Sagaponack Corn Pudding

This dish came with no cookbook image to reference...what drew me in was its name. I have the majority of my extended family currently living in Long Island, NY (hi guys!), and I just love the names of the towns up there: Sagaponack, Amagansett, Bridgehampton, Glen Cove ;), etc. This dish (from Barefoot Contessa Family Style) was simple and tasty. The recipe calls for baking at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. For me it took 50 minutes plus a kick up to 400 degrees at the end to brown the top nicely. That gave me plenty of time to clean up the gargantuan mess I made during the preparation :) You can probably see why the cookbook editors opted out of a photo shoot for this's not quite gorgeous, however it is delicious. Go ahead and give it a try. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Colors in Flowers and Food

I love this time of year! Though most of our neighborhood leaves will remain green, there is still the rich, crispy color palette of fall everywhere I look: 

Now I am off to find something to bake with cinnamon in it! Happy Saturday :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Day in Pictures (so far)

Poor Amelia--she is home sick from school for the fourth day in a row :( Bless her heart, she misses it so much. She had high hopes this morning and wanted to do a little painting, but ran out of steam very quickly. This image is to show you one way that I repurpose the vegetable trays from the grocery store: 
We decided that some fresh air would do us all some good, so she relaxed into the umbrella stroller and I leashed up Isa and off we went. We saw this pretty purple flower: 
This pretty purple, um...grassy stuff: 
And this chubby and very noisy bird: 
Even that wore her out. After some lunch, she was down for the count and I began working on some Christmas doo-dads for an outreach project at work: 
And that's the day in pictures (so far). Now all three of us girls (Isa included, of course) are looking forward to Jason coming home so that the weekend can officially begin!