Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Time to putter---- enjoy the house----- putter some more---
And knit. As in get ON with it knitting. The sore wrist has let up a bit (thanks to a day away from the pointy sticks) and I really need to focus. At the hockey game last night I picked up a holiday Blues hat just in case I don't finish! I mean, you just never know.
Hope your Christmas projects are finished or almost so and that you can enjoy the season!
Monday, December 20, 2010
I present time in the kitchen. Wearing red and blue Santa apron of course!
Crank up the KitchenAid baby! My favorite (and famous) Spritz recipe. I couldn't imagine Christmas without them! 5 cups of flour and en entire pound of butter as the starring ingredients, how could it be anything other than REALLY good! :)
Next Christmas I REALLY AM going to give my kids a recipe book, put together very professionally thankyouverymuch from their mama. I've been wanting to for such a long time but just haven't made photographing food as it comes out of the kitchen a priority. Now I'm trying to photo everything as well as cook those things that I want to make sure the gang has the recipe for. Some are things I don't cook much anymore so I have to make it an effort. And I will. By this time next year really cool books will have been created, printed, bound and wrapped waiting for the grand reveal.
Long ago I ago I gave up coloring the cookie dough, I prefer it naturally butter colored and to let the sprinkles speak for themselves. The first batch out of the spritz gun were the trees embellished simply with sugars and cinnamons. SO GOOD. I had them for breakfast with a cup of peppermint joe if the truth be told. I think it will help the wrist heal.
And Red Chile Jelly. OMG this is so good. I'm glad the tall skinny less- pretty jar is for MOI! This stuff is amazing. Red serrano's were nowhere to be found, the jelly would have had a prettier less muddy color if I didn't have to sub green chili's. The jelly is sweet and tart and spicy---- incredible! I've already eaten some on a wheat cracker with cream cheese and have slathered it on leftover chicken--- I even had some on English Muffin bread with a layer of scrambled eggs and swiss on the top. I'm obsessed!
Lastly was a big old batch of Pear Apple Butter. A new methodology for me, I used the Crock Pot and it took a total of 8 hours, stopping mid-stream to whir about in the food processor. It's really good as well and will have it's coming out party at Christmas Day brunch, no doubt about it. My jar, separated from gifts going out, is really awful looking. The butter inside? Delish!
A bit of knitting must be accomplished today or I'm going to get in a big ole' jam and I don't mean apple.
Monday, December 13, 2010
It always amazes me how great things look in glass cylinders! These favorite black and white ornaments didn't make the cut on the white Christmas tree this year but look great in the dining room!
Even the dress form has a bit of holiday swagger on-----
The mantle is mantled---- the stockings hung-----
Trees just never look as pretty in the daylight----
I'm on track----- it's 4:30 and the unheard of is happening! I'm heading home to put on my flannel jammies, wrap a gift in preparation for a trip to the post office in the morning and get some cute little jelly jars sterilized for the making of some Chile Jam later in the week.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
'Tis the Season, and that is the Happy Season. Right? Not always so around Casa Contessa but as I've shared earlier, I'm making it a goal this year. December 8th and I'm in the Zone.
Make Happy as to dig out some card stock, some glue, some glitter and inspiration from Monica over at Happy Zombie? Really, who knew? I had a BLAST yesterday! I gave up work early, headed for the sewing room and it became truly creative. Thanks Monica for sharing your little Gnoma Claus that match your fabulous fabric line------ I finally printed and cut (and felt like a happy kindergarten kid)---- and then I decided to do something I hadn't played with for several years, GLITTER. Oh glitter, where have you been? What came out of the space lit by lights and humming Christmas music was this:
oh good grief, how CUTE are these? Can't get more vintage deco than little wonderfully toned Gnomes, festooned and positively bedecked with glitter---- hanging on tinsel chenille stems---- parading above the kitchen sink. Almost makes dishes fun. (ALMOST, notice that I have not completely lost all sense!)
Makes me smile! Gnoma Claus, hee~ I think I like the blue one best but the red one is great, and the green one is sweet, even the yellow one (who is shy) is quite smashing! These would make really cute gift tags too............. I printed extra. (Winking in smugness!)
Two projects for Christmas are done (yay!) The striped scarf for Blues Hockey (photo to come). Not much to show really, I mean it is a striped. Scarf. I wove in the last end last night at knit group, thought that would go on forever!. And the cabled cap below, for my son's girlfriend. She's a knitter so I know she'll appreciate the cabled goodness and detail like how the cables taper at the rib.
The color is "Lemongrass" (pretty accurate here, straight out of the camera) and the yarn is Classic Wool by Patons. Double stranded and knit on 7's and 8's.
I'm really "in class" on the internet as we speak, aren't Webinars wonderful things? Please don't tell anyone that my eyes have glazed over with the grim boring-ness of it all and working on Happy instead. Instead of taking notes and watching the screen I'm merely listening to the droning sound of blah-blah-blah and pinning apron straps. Little vintage aprons of kitchy holiday fabric------ aprons for the Happy Zone. I wonder if I can glitter them???
How are YOU Making Happy?
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I'm knitting a very fast scarf==== one to be worn to hockey games, there are others for 'other' uses. This one, Blues all the way.
Sitting alone while youknowwho was sitting AT the game and I was home not feeling all that great, I stole another few moments to knit the garter stitch whizbang simplicity-----
the colors were just right, who knew that there were so few yarns in STLBlues colors anyway? Vanna's Choice is the yarn 99.99999% because the colors were good and I didn't want to spend a zillion on the scarf.
You will undoubtedly see that the Note got skunked that night.
The scarf is almost finished, just a bit more quick rows dashed off here and there and then quite a few ends to weave in.
At the very least it does feel wonderful to have another handmade gift crossed off the list---- or it will soon!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Around Casita Contessa December has rolled over on the calendar and I've made a BOLD move. Well bold for me. Normally I come up to December 24th huffing and puffing and wondering where the weeks before Christmas went. I'm tired, stressed, cranky and the enjoyment level? Well, not so much!
This year I'm working LESS. I'm devoting time each day to work on projects, craft a little, putter a bit and generally enjoy the season---- even if that means sitting in my chair looking at the Christmas tree and drinking a cup of tea. Hold me to it!! Small cottage this year, small tree with a definite different look "for me".. and lots of little vignettes like the canisters and blue poinsettias in a corner of the kitchen.
Decorations were up before Thanksgiving for the family visit. I have to say, it was fantastic. While I do generally hate to push the season it was delightful to arrive at the weekend after turkey day with it all done. Well almost all done. Part of the happy-happy now is that I might add a thing or two each day, I mean why not?
The happy coral walls in the sewing room look pretty great I think with the vintage inspired blue tree. The whole room makes me smile and I will be spending holiday time in there.
What are YOU doing to increase your joy for the holiday season?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Yesterday was spent in total quiet, in my holiday jammies if you must know. Pretty great. I've been swatching on a Super Secret Project. You know the kind.
I can tell you it is a tonal blue Ultra Alpaca------ and I really like the yarn a lot. Just fuzzy enough, nice and soft without going to total mush, and nice stitch definition. The tonal colors are very nice, muted and reserved but not boring, the color repeats not too long not too short.
If Oprah were a knitter I'm pretty sure she'd be holding this swatch on the cover of the new mag with the Favorite Things! Oh wait................... she IS!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I do feel as if I've left out some important details. Popping over to the online presence of Butterball to check how long it takes to roast an unstuffed 17 pound bird (because I never remember)------ I found a checklist for the most perfect of holidays. Listed for the day before was:
- Make your table centerpiece. See our Dressing up your Table ideas.
- • Set the table.
- • Pick out your outfit and iron it.
- • Clear out the coat closet for guest coats.
- • Clean the guest bathroom and put clean towels in the bathroom
For The Big Day the fine folks suggest:
Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)
• Eat breakfast — everyone will be happier if they aren’t trying to get ready hungry.
• Make the stuffing in the morning and stuff the turkey right before it’s ready to go in the oven.
• Make sure to get the turkey in the oven early so that it will ready at the scheduled dinnertime.
• Get everyone involved. Assign someone in the family to greet guests, some to take coats, someone to pass around appetizers, someone to fill water glasses and get drinks, etc.
• Get containers ready for guests to take home leftovers.
• Enjoy your meal and enjoy your guests.
I have not eaten breakfast, I'm wrestling a turkey----- the stuffing is outta the bird. Scheduled dinnertime? And as far as getting everyone involved, I'm pretty much sure that ship has sailed! This crew strongly believes that everything is MY JOB. They tell me it's tradition. If I showed up with a nice pressed outfit they'd no doubt wet themselves.
Everyone heads out Saturday night to drive back to the East Coast, I'll be ready for some knitting and quiet but will surely miss the wildness of a house full of loved ones of all ages.
Monday, November 15, 2010
While the photo makes me look a little trashed I remain ever emphatic that I did only have two glasses of wine and an after hours beer. The fish eye makes me look like a wild machine. Which I am not. Usually anyway.
Instead I remained a great sport, encouraged those around me who work really hard all year long to let their hair down (I give you exhibit a) and tried not to let anyone drive home in the bag.
We left at 11 and ended up closing a crazy bar at 3. I applauded to karaoke--- served cocktails, smiled and laughed and was a stand up broad. I was puked on about 1:45, that was kind of nasty as my purple satin skirt was unceremoniously "grazed" by the incident------ two people had to have cabs called. I do NOT do jaggerbombs and was able to quietly hide the foul tasting offender so graciously offered. When someone's lighter landed in said barf---- I did not jump to extricate, no matter the caretaker and smiling queen role had been assumed. Sorry, ain't happenin'.
I arrived home feeling like the pumpkin coach must be parked somewhere, absolutely exhausted, was in bed by 4 and wondered when I became unable to Party Hearty. I can still party with people mostly young enough to be my, well we will leave it at that. But I sure don't enjoy it as much.
What I did enjoy was waking up this morning at 8. A very late start for me but regardless, outside of being a little weary I did not wake up with my head in the potty as I'm sure many did. All things considered it was fun, and definitely outside the box for me----- these things keep you fresh they say? Maybe.
Maybe this old broad will get some knitting done later on. Just call me the Sage Crone! ;)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Run-------- really. Now, if you can. If you have not seen Amy's FABULOUS Christmas issue----- well, you have to. It's like the smiliest thing that has happened to me in a long time and that includes the new Vogue Knits!
LOVE IT! Bet it makes you happy too! Click below and let the smiles begin!!!!!!!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Funny, the looks I get! What, nobody knits in church? Harumph!
The project is the very simplest of garter stitch scarves------ perfect for such occasions when you don't know how much knitting will happen or where for that matter. It is approaching a very nice length and will be embellished to add some ooomph to its simplicity when finished. The yarn is super yummy, beautiful and soft. Don't ask me b/c the band is long gone and I don't recall.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Wonderful Wing Span the Mondo Blue shawl------- very wrappable----- very warm!
In other knitty news, the back of the cardi is OFF the needles and the left front has a repeat on it. Ahhhhhhhh---- feels good to be in some what of a gear with it!
The secret to knitting this week is to get up in the wee hours and work. This leaves time to knit a bit. The downside of course is that falling asleep with a cable needle in your mouth can be somewhat dangerous!
Friday, October 15, 2010
And I remembered, AH, I need to take a photo of the mondo blue lace shawl! Which I did, long story to follow. Would you not think that the numerous photographers I work with would be able to take a pic? Nope, not so. Instead, I thought, oh a quick shot---- I can do that. Nope again. Did you know that there are NO full length mirrors in the house? I knew that of course and maybe my irritation today will actually cause me to do something about it! The house was previously inhabited by a gay man, I mean, how in the world does it even compute that there would be no full length mirrors????? What is to possibly stop you from leaving the house with the back of your skirt tucked into your pantyhose anyway????
Warning: Really horribly bad photo ahead. Cropped further to eliminate the fact that I have on my ugly pants and my hair is frightful as I'm working from home today.
But in the effort that you might need a smile today----- and the knowledge that THIS may cause me to really and truly have GOOD photos done of the shawl----
In all of it's glory---camera strap, bad angle, inability to really SEE it and all.
Regardless----- hope things are fabulous and Full Length at your house!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
While at Target recently, on a trip for fabric softener and light bulbs, I had to play a little hookey, about ten minutes to mindlessly wander. I found the following and confess to wanting it REALLY BAD---
Hot Pink. Patent. Leopard. Mulberry? I mean, seriously, how can you not be all over this bag. Serious lust has ensued. A bargain at $50 but $50 I don't have right now so I'll lust from afar. Maybe set the photo as my screensaver. Ooogle.
Still no photos of the mondo blue lace wrap, done and fabulous. I need to get it photographed so I can wrap it. Wrap it? Yes, my fear is that the weather will turn chilly and I'll want to toss it on. Then it will be USED.............. ick. USED, can't have that. Then I'd wear it more than once because I'd already worn it and it was now considered a used item and all. Then it'd be mine entirely and I could not relax and enjoy the knitterly spoils so ill-gotten! :)
The cabled cardi? I should pop off a pic here too........... almost ready to cast off for the back. Yes still. Refer back to over-extended and continuing to pile it on.
Ummmm---- guilty pleasure alert, Harry Loves Lisa on TVLand. Love me some Lisa Rinna!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
There is somehow never enough of that! :)
Friday, September 24, 2010
The sweater in my lap in the photo above was taken at knit group last week. I can't tell you how happy I was to have been able to go. Like, really glad. Work has been a kicker and I needed the smell of yarn and knitters to set me back to rights!
While enjoying the yarny camaraderie, Yo-El said that she hadn't seen many brides wielding knitting on the blog this season. She is SO right. And the fact is that brides this season have been---- well, it is not that they wouldn't have been accommodating. Or willing. Or even somewhat happy to comply. It is the fact that I haven't had much of a relationship with them, they've been ------ well just not my usual needle wielding happy subjects engaging in the first flush of marital bliss. Add that to the fact that this season has had me off contract for many of them and there has been a dearth of the usual bridely knitting. Tomorrow's bride would be wonderful, but instead I'll be sitting at home eating brownies in my jammies and happily knitting. Seems a fair trade-off if you ask me.
The lap full of sweater in the photo is indeed the cardi that has been in progress for a very long time. Since that shot, I've put on another few inches and hope to arrive at the armhole shaping on the back soon. As knitters know, once you get to that point the back seems to come together pretty quickly. I think I'll then knit a front (positively zoomy after the back) and then the sleeves before finishing with the other front. See, I must be getting into this sweater again since I'm making plans! ;)
The mondo blue lace wrap is DONE! Finito! After a good soak, she's now laying on the supah big table in the basement for a block. 80" inches of length, perfect! I had to add a bit more yarn on the end of the project to make it long enough. I'm really pleased with this super easy project, my second gift laying in wait for Christmas. Photos to come!!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Some knitting has happened, this is the view of the uber simple scarf sitting on my lap out on the deck. Gorgeous yarn---- and it has proven to be (while ridiculously simple) a sanity saver.
The mondo wrap continues, the final balls of yarn are in progress now. I will knit it until the yarn has given its last gasp.
Weatherwise, its finally gorgeous, I haven't had the a/c on for two weeks. Working at the studio has meant I've missed the couple of hot days and the nights have been glorious. Perhaps fall is going to be here at last and with luck it will be beautiful.
Hope you're enjoying life on YOUR deck!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The flowers above were delivered yesterday, are they just the happiest things ever? Nothing like sunflowers to make a gal smile, and the accompanying blue-ness is fantastic!
Speaking of blue----- electric blue so says the ballband------- the scarf is coming along. To me it is more like a mondo scarf or a wrap-ette but who asked? Erica commented that she liked the matching needles (well, yeah...). It's still a bit like making macrame or something with 3 strands of bulky knit on these mop handles, but I like it. Does anyone remember the mile a minute afghans that were so popular years ago? This is sort of like that, with a couple of hours knitting time and 3 balls of yarn this much of the gift was born.
I'm just glad to be knitting again!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I FINALLY made knitting with the group last night---- which was lovely. And since all knitting is made of frustrating stuff what else to do but start a new project which is frought with frustrating elements of its own. The Magnified Lace Scarf from Lion Brand, a free pattern. I saw this simple piece styled with a pair of jeggings, a white shirt and wide belt and it looked fabulous. I immediately thought of my oldest daughter and what a great gift it would make. Mind you, while I played with gauge and resulting fabric from the heavily acrylic yarn (my daughter doesn't care well for garments), those at knit group reminded me that the fabulous Emily just completed a gorgeous shawl knit from high quality spiderweb and teensy needles in a complex lace pattern. In a foreign language. Ahem. This is a simple lace, knit on needles so large they're like broomsticks (which do have their own inherent problems) and tripled bulky yarn. We shall see. Two repeats in I'm not sure, just not sure. My yarn is a rich jewel toned teal.
Well it is a long weekend coming up, right? What better way to enjoy a long weekend with something from the kitchen that shouts to the world what a great catch you are! Pie! Pie? Not just any pie mind you but a rich yet fluffy slice of chocolate heaven. Pair it with takeout pizza or bbq if you must but let there be the labor of pie. Personally I believe that if you make something fabulous they'll leave you alone to be creative for a bit....... I could be wrong.
Chocolate Heaven Fluff Pie
1 baked pie shell (from scratch is lovely, I mean don’t be lazy!)
¾ cup sugar + 2 Tbs.
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup heavy cream
2 cups milk (you can use any kind but you’ve gone this far, use whole)
¼ cup dark cocoa
2 Tbs. butter
4 egg yolks, beaten gently
2 Tsp. good quality vanilla
1 cup mini marshmallows
With the pie shell cooling (because you did make it from scratch, right?) prepare the filling. Tumble together all of the dry ingredients and whisk up. Slowly add the cream and stir, add the milk and heat over a medium heat. You can use a double boiler if you like but whatever you do stir constantly. When the liquid begins to steam, add a bit slowly to the beaten yolks and stir up, then remove them back to the mixture on the stove. Continue stirring, add the butter. The filling will go to a stage where it looks kind of lumpy or grainy, keep stirring. When the mixture reaches a bubble, turn off the heat, add the vanilla and the marshmallows and stir off the heat. When the filling has incorporated all of the marshmallows, take a taste. (You know you want to!)
Place the chocolate fluff filling into a totally cooled pie shell and place a sheet of plastic cling over the top to keep a skin from forming.
In the “old days” I’d make a nice meringue for the top but the state of chickens and raw eggy-ness has made me either leave things plain, or add a whipped cream topping if necessary. Luckily this pie is creamy and dreamy enough to need neither unless you just want to take it entirely over the top. It is of course up to you!
Cool the pie at least 4 hours.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Please don't report me for about falling out of my car at the light in order to snap the photo---- it was so worth it!!!
Monday is here------------- here's hoping yours is a GREAT one!
Monday, August 23, 2010
My daughter has been moved out for 11 days and I haven't reached any sort of peace and equilibrium about that either.
Nor am I knitting. I did haul along a hunk of pretty yarn and managed about 8 inches. Of garter stitch.
Houston we have a problem I think.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Some pillow possibilities.............
The chosen fabric for the windows in the dining room. This sunny yellow space will look really great with the print in yellow and coral (my adjoining rooms are yellow and coral!!!) and I'm auditioning the polka dots for trim. Personally, I like the coral better, I think the yellow dots are too blah-de-dah with the walls.
I'm feeling a table runner and something fun for the fireplace mantle............ sadly, yardage is not yet available, but when it is, I'll be ready!!!
And how delicious is this? The last piece of happy retro goodness for the kitchen------ the red "Delicious" and big black whisk look pretty cool over the kitchen doorway. Love it. So easy these vinyl pieces!
Back to it!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
We're "IN" but still fiddling a little bit. I've yet to find skinny little side tables that don't cost an arm and a leg, or a vintage table for the front foyer (a chip of a thing) that is appealing. The last two big prints will arrive from the lab today (yay!) and the hanging and re-hanging seems to go on.
Paint? All done except the bedroom where I've auditioned tons of colors, the last was a ballet pink that turned out to be one of the nastiest things I've ever seen. In this wee house color is all important and turning out to be like no palette I've ever worked with----- kind of fun!
The creative space------ small but a workhorse. The gateleg table is up in this photo but can be all skinnied down and even wheeled around.
The color is the most fabulous coral---------love this color! The space has no windows or natural light of its own so I borrowed some.
The dining room is in the front of the house and until my daughter moves out is where I work at the table. Not optimal for sure. The "grill" above is between the two front windows and I love the look. The walls are the sunniest of yellow, the "grill" is actually from the Container store and was from their 9.99 dorm section.
The corner of the dining room, hard to see the yellow-ness from this photo.
Above the hallway that's part of the sewing room, powder room too the right. Above this doorway is a favorite element (blessings) combined with some vinyl decals in black and soft blue---- LOVE these. The dining room lies beyond.
Above the sink in the kitchen is this rack------- displayed on it is my favorite Nigella Lawson tray and measuring cups. One of the cups got smashed in the move. I've put it back together with superglue to nestle with the other cups but let's just say that it will never measure liquids again! The little recipe box to the right is for the moment empty, found in the closeout section of Michael's, it's Paula Deen.
Good thing the coffee pot makes a great cup of joe, I'd keep it regardless for the magnificent red-ness! Cutting board in happy blue from Ikea.
What a great spot for my large white serving pieces as well as the red cake stand and red and aqua bowls.
Above the cabinets in the kitchen----- another fabulous decal and a couple favorite prints. I've just ordered another decal for the opposite wall with a very retro feel, can't wait to get it up!
Like I said, it's a wee house------------- you come in from the back deck and garden into this room, the family room as it were and go into the kitchen. No photos yet of the fam space but this pic is to show the blue brick wall (formerly the exterior wall years ago) that goes into the kitchen and the green of the family room. Never in my life would I have put these colors together but it works and I love it.
Jen made me feel badly about the lousy photos, so I'm trying to redeem myself somewhat! :)
Better Jen? This kitchen window is hard to photograph day or night------- this is a late night shot, see the light out back? But you can see the window treatment of the vintage chicken feedsack------- the hanging red measuring cups from Ikea and the vintage set of canisters on the counter.
Better get to work------ if I play my cards right I can try to clear up some time next week to play with the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" charm pack I just bought from the Fat Quarter Shop. I've been waiting and waiting for Joanna's new collection, I think the colors are going to be perfect........ for lots of puttering to come!