Thursday, December 31, 2009

Done in 2009, To Do in 2010

I have had a really great year, I have done a lot of things I wanted to do. I got to go on four 'big' trips and a couple of smaller ones. I finally used my sewing machine. I got closer to a wonderful group of women whom I positively adore. I made the newspaper. I used more sticks of butter, dozens of eggs and cups of sugar than I care to think about. Most importantly, I become more comfortable with myself and who I am. In 2010 I want to:
  • Walk outside more often
  • Take liberties (with what I don't know yet)
  • Bake something extravagant
  • Visit another country
  • Decide what I want to be when I grow up
  • Go to Graceland
  • Start practicing yoga again
  • Knit a sweater that’s outside my comfort zone (seaming! eek!)
  • Read Ulysses
  • Make a family tree
  • Write a short story
  • Be a better person
Tonight I'm ringing in the new year with friends and going to a late night yarn sale. Hope your New Year is happy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The box said paperwhites

A few weeks ago when we picked up the real tree we ran to Home Depot to get a tree stand and I bought a lonely looking box of paperwhite bulbs to force. I haven't forced bulbs before so this is a little experiment. So far, so good.

Week One:
Week Two:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Low & Lush Chocolate Cheesecake

Are you in a food coma from the holiday? I haven't hit the coma-state yet, more like food haze. My belly has been full for days. I still found time to make this week's selection, chocolate cheesecake, chosen by the TeaLady from Tea and Scones. The cheesecake was easy, delicious and everyone seemed to like it, there was little left over. Also I got to serve it on my new cake plate (a Christmas gift from Doug) from Bridgman Pottery, awfully pretty!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Pictures

Christmas Eve through Saturday night was a blur. So much so that we spent Sunday laying around watching an all-day long Law & Order: SVU marathon.

Vanilla bean cupcakes, recipe here (toppers from Bake It Pretty)
Christmas morning tree
Maggie losing her mind over the catnip we put in the stocking for cats (yeah, don't judge)Doug opening up his new chucksMy Nannie opening the Walton's DVD's we gave herOur niece, who was not 100% thrilled with the books and shoes we gave her, oops.
Hope your holidays were bright!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: My Favorite Pecan Pie

This week's selection comes from Beth of Someone's in the Kitchen with Brina. I've grown up eating pecan pie my entire life, I could always take it or leave it. Often (depending on who made said pie) the filling would be oozy and running and way too sweet, which is why I've never been a die-hard pecan pie fan. I think I might have made my own at some point since reaching adulthood, but I guess it wasn't very memorable. Regardless, I will absolutely be making Dorie's pecan pie again. It was a really easy recipe*, no mixer required! The chocolate, espresso and cinnamon added a really nice flavor that complemented the pecans. The filling was chock full of pecans and chocolate chunks and not runny at all. Thanks again to Beth for such a tasty selection.
*Full disclosure: I have to admit to using a pre-made 'cheater' pie crust. Despite being a member of TWD for almost two years I still suck at making pie crusts, thus the shortcut!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Real! Tree!

Most of the time I try to plan things out but occasionally I get a whim and end up doing/convincing my husband, to do spur of the moments things. This was the case Saturday. So we put up our little tinsel tree last week and it was fine but I couldn't shake the disappointment of not having a real, actual tree. So Saturday morning as we're sitting in our pajamas drinking coffee I convinced him we should go buy a real tree, even though it's less than a week before Christmas. We went to the Schnuck's parking lot to purchase a little 5 1/2 foot-tall Norman Fir. It was a very painless process to un-decorate the old tree and relocate the ornaments to the new one. Plus it looks so.much.better. I love it. I keep sitting on the ottoman in the living room staring at it.In crafty news, I was inspired by Amanda at Bake It Pretty to make these little faux-cupcake ornaments. I used glitter instead of faux snow and my cupcake papers actually came from Bake It Pretty. I also forgot how when you use glitter it gets everywhere, usually in a spot on your forehead where it will stay for days, despite the fact that you shower regularly and wash your face.I know Christmas is mere days away and you probably have eight million things to bake and at least three people to still buy presents for and lots of uncomfortable family functions to sit through, but you should mix up a batch of this homemade hot chocolate, make yourself a mug of it and listen to David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries on NPR. It'll make you feel better, I promise.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The KISS (Gingerbread) Army

I have friends who have three little boys, two of them really like KISS. For Christmas I had the idea to make KISS gingerbread men. It wasn't a roaring success but it wasn't a complete fail either. For the gingerbread I used this recipe from Martha. Pretty easy to make, after chilling the first roll was hard and caused the dough to crack, but once it softened a little it was much easier to roll out. Probably my only regret is not mixing up my own icing and using piping tools. I bought Wilton Sparkle Icing and it's gel-like and hard to control. Paul's the only one that really turned out well, everyone else was kind of hard to do. I'd love to try this again and use real icing/piping tools. The kids knew who they were supposed to be though so that was nice (the bottom 'plain' one was for the non-KISS lover in the family). Speaking of cool gingerbread go see NotMartha's fabulous gingerbread Partridge in a Pear Tree and her tiny, mug-side gingerbread houses, so pretty and clever!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cafe Volcano Cookies (and Sables)

I've been a really lame TWD-er the last few weeks, sorry guys! I did make last week's sables before I went on my trip but I didn't like the way they turned out, so I made them again this week. Much better, although I ran out of regular sugar so I used raw, which gave them a slightly bumpy texture but they were still great. It's a fairly easy dough to work with, you just have to be extra careful not to over work it. Thanks to Bungalow Barbara for the selection!On to this week's TWD, which was chosen by Macduff of The Lonely Sidecar. This might be the healthiest recipe I can recall making from "Baking". The ingredients are just egg whites, nuts, sugar and espresso powder, no butter AT ALL! I was skeptical these would turn out to be anything special but I was pleasantly surprised, such an easy, sweet little cookie. I didn't have any walnuts so I used one cup of whole almonds coarsely chopped and 1 cup of sliced almonds. They were so good, Doug really liked them too. Did I mention they were easy? Super easy, ridiculously easy. This is going in my cookie rotation, next time I'll try them dipped in chocolate as Dorie suggests, how good would that be?

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

The tree is finally up, later than usual. We chickened out and opted to keep our little silver tinsel tree instead of going for a real full-sized one. Most of the ornaments are Seuss characters, with a few special ones scattered around. The "Oh The Places You'll Go" ornament is my personal favorite.
Our weekend was pretty low-key, Saturday morning I made Chocolate Chip pancakes (recipe here, it's Paula Deen but miraculously there's isn't a whole stick of butter involved).
Our friends had a Christmas party Saturday night and Lynsey and I decided to class it up by making a cocktail weenie tree, an idea found in this book. I made the base with an empty chicken broth can covered in wrapping paper and ribbon, a foam tree form, aluminum foil, glitter, toothpicks and a lot of hot-glue. Doug helped too, as he's a much better wrapper than I am. I think it turned out pretty awesome looking.
Sunday I did our Christmas cards, which I picked up from three different sellers on Etsy, The Black Apple, La Bella Couture and Letterary Press. They're headed out to their respective recipients today.
I cast-off that blasted Woodland Lace Shawl I've been knitting since July and found time to block it. I've never blocked a lace shawl so I'm hoping it doesn't come out looking too wonky...
Using some of my Seattle yarn loot, I cast on a little cable hat in Rowan Felted Tweed, I'm halfway done. It's only my second cable project but so far, so good. The brim is a little tight for my big noggin, but it's a wool blend so maybe it can be blocked a little to stretch it out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Viva! SeaTac

I'm back from Seattle, I got back Monday at an ungodly hour after a tense and bumpy plane ride home. It was a great trip, I had so much fun driving up and down the Olympic Peninsula, eating an assortment of baked goods (pie, cupcakes, croissants, cupcakes), spending time with my Seattle friends who drove me all over the place because they're awesome like that. It was really cold but I came prepared with handknits. The mittens I had been working on were a gift for one of my Seattle friends and I finished them in time but forgot to take a picture, she liked them a lot though.

There were visits to several yarn stores, see my haul below. I may have finally hit the point of having more yarn than I can actually use in the foreseeable future, but as any knitter will tell you it's a nice problem to have. In addition to the yarn I bought a little fabric too and I happened to be in Seattle the night Amy Karol of Angry Chicken fame was having a book signing at the Quilting Loft. I made it to the store and got my book signed, The Black Apple and NotMartha were both there but I was too shy to say anything.I have a ton of pictures, all on my Flickr account (link at the bottom of the blog), but these are the highlights, the good ones.

Seattle Skyline, as seen from Kerry ParkFort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park in Port AngelesSunset at Alki Beach in West Seattle, just look at those mountains!
Snoqualmie Falls (as seen in Twin Peaks)
Snoqualmie Pass, snow! It was sooo pretty
Leavenworth, Washington, which is a faux-Bavarian villageSpace Needle
Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford, so.many.cupcakes. Plus there's a yarn store down the way.
Handmade vanilla bean marshmallows from Curio Confections in the University District, such a cute little place. I had a nougart bar there and man it was good.
Can't wait to go back, although it'll probably be a little longer than six months this time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fear of flying

(Sadly not the Erica Jong novel)
T-minus 19.5 hours until I head to Seattle - again. Three times in twelve months, I think I might have a problem. The anxiety I feel about flying hasn't gotten any better either, eek. I'm taking a new knitting project (in Malabrigo lace, squee), the Woodland lace shawl that accompanied me on my last trip to Seattle, yet still isn't finished and movies on my iPhone in an effort to keep myself distracted. Here's to hoping it works. I am really excited about the trip, it's just the getting there that's making me nervous. But hopefully I'll be back next week with tons of pictures and crafty purchases and new yarn!

In the meantime, here's a pop-y song to get stuck in your head

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rosy Poached Pear & Pistachio Tart

My apologies for last week, I bailed on TWD, I was busy and not exactly feeling the Holiday Bundt. But please go visit Britin's blog The Nitty Britty for the recipe and to see how pretty it is.

My TWD baking mojo has been off the last two weeks, first with the bundt and now with the tart. I've learned it's just not a good idea to attempt to make a very involved dessert on Thanksgiving morning, no matter how much time you give yourself. The short story is that I burned the tart crust and had to trash it, made something else to take on Thanksgiving, made the pistachio cream and pears and left them in the fridge until Sunday. When I finally removed the items from the fridge, the pears had the texture of organ meat (blech) and the pastry cream was a grayish color. I tried my best to salvage it but it was just ick. We tried a little of it but I don't think it was good at all - totally my fault. Anyway, go visit Lauren at I'll Eat You to get the recipe and see what it's actually supposed to look like when you don't screw it up.