Friday, November 27, 2009

Favorite Things Friday #3: Thanksgiving

I love a holiday that focuses on gratitude and thankfulness, and features good food enjoyed in the company of family and friends. And to make it even more fun, I love a little shopping trip the next day with my mom and sisters (and one cheerful nephew!) to some locally-owned stores, including one that specializes in the needlearts!

I hope you all have many good things in your life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I made a tote bag!

I proudly present my latest sewing project.... a tote bag, using Alicia Paulson's Jane Market Bag pattern. Structured items and I often don't get along, so I began this with much trepidation, but it turned out so cute, I can hardly stand it. I am so happy with how the fabrics came together. I think even my children were impressed. "You made this? It looks like something you'd buy!" This is very high praise from my two biggest critics.

I will definitely be making more of these! But first I must go to the fabric store, because my stash is boring me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Favorite Things Friday #2: My Immersion Blender

I love my immersion blender. I don't use it all that often, but it is small and easy to store, and when I need it to puree a homemade soup, there really is no convenient substitute. If you get along without one, thinking your blender or food processor does the job, trust me, the ease and convenience of pureeing a soup with an immersion blender right in the stock pot is akin to wielding a magic cooking wand. No slopping of hot soup from pot to blender and back again, leaving you with drips on counters and cupboards. An immersion blender is clean and easy (well, provided you keep it fully immersed, because if you're not careful about that, you will end up with a mess spraying all over the kitchen, so consider yourself warned).

I use my immersion blender almost exclusively for pureeing soup. I recently made this Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup (utilizing the immersion blender), and it is so yummy I can't wait to make it again! My children are not impressed by it, but I am going to make another batch, stat, and freeze it in lunch-sized serving portions for my husband and myself.

Here is another pumpkin soup recipe that I make a couple times around the holidays. The directions state to use a food processor, but I use my immersion blender, and voila, I'm done.

Pumpkin Pecan Bisque

2T butter
1 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
14 oz broth
16 oz pumpkin puree
1 1/4 C water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C half-and-half
1 cup pecan pieces, toasted

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add broth, pumpkin, water, sugar, spices, salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and pecan pieces.

Use your immersion blender and blend until smooth. Heat to serving temperature. (Or use your blender or food processor to blend the soup mixture in batches, but man, that is such a pain in the neck!)

Serves 6.

Sorry I don't have any photos of the blender in action, but that would require either one of my children to blend for me while I photograph (um, no, see my hint about avoiding spraying all over the kitchen), or for my children to agree to photograph me while I blend. Neither event is very likely in this household!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sweet Dreams

From the Wee Wonderfuls Christmas Wishes Stitchette pattern. I let my children choose a face, bed, and dream from the patterns to represent themselves, so this is a mix-and-match result. I embroidered these a year ago, but never got around to finishing them into anything, and they shifted to the bottom of a pile. On my recent house clean-and-purge project, I rediscovered them. I wanted to make them into one wall hanging, with the beds side by side, nursery style, but my children balked and told me they each wanted their own pillow. Fair enough. I probably wouldn't have a place to hang yet one more holiday quilt anyway.

Backed with gingerbread men fabric!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Favorite Things Friday #1: My Dining Room

I'm going to try posting a regular feature every Friday, titled Favorite Things Friday.

For my inaugural Favorite Things Friday post, I am featuring my dining room. This room has a gravitational pull on me. When we looked at this house for the very first time, I walked into the dining room and thought I have found my home. It's not a big room, nor is it fancy, and it suits me perfectly. One window faces south and one faces west, so it's bright and sunny. The floors are hardwood. It has crown molding, and a previous owner put a continuous shelf about 11 inches below the ceiling around three of the walls. This room won me completely me over.

The dining set belonged to my husband's grandmother. She passed away about 6 months before we bought our house. All of her furnishings were put into an estate auction, and we traveled 400 miles to the auction to bid against total strangers to get her dining set. My husband's grandparents were dairy farmers, so this is a true farmhouse dining room set. It almost completely fills our little dining room, but it looks like it was made for the space.Our kitchen has no eating area, so we eat in this room, at this table, for every single meal. The children do homework here. I fill out forms and pay the bills here. I use it as my sewing/crafting space, too. I tried setting up my sewing machine in other areas of the house, but I like this room and this table the best, even though it means I have to clear my mess away for lunch or dinner. I like the sunshine, and the big table, and the proximity to the kitchen so I can keep an eye on dinner while I try to finish up one last seam.

Twice we have done remodeling projects on our house, and both times the architects wanted to change the layout of my dining room. Both times I was aghast. Perhaps the modern thing to do is to have an open floor plan with "site lines", but I like my not-modern, many-roomed home with its tiny, cheery dining room.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quilt for my niece

First, let me lament that my camera just cannot seem to capture the colors of this quilt properly. I have taken photos indoors and out, from every angle, under direct light and indirect light, and I've messed with the settings on my camera countless times, and this is the best I can do! This quilt is much cheerier and sweeter in person that it looks here.

That said, is it okay for me confess that I am in love with this little quilt? Because I am. My niece is turning two in December, and my sister-in-law asked me to make a quilt for her. I knew I wanted to do something simple and sweet, and while I was in the critical planning phase of the quilt, Alicia Paulson posted her Ollalieberry Ice Cream Quilt. Bingo! Exactly what I had in mind.
I love the little flowers and dots sprinkled all over. For my "solid" color I chose a tone-on-tone print. That would be the blue fabric. It has little hearts bubbled all over it, which are hard to make out in the photos.

I wanted the color palette to be similar to the quilt on my daughter's bed (seen in this photo--I didn't make my daughter's quilt), so that was my inspiration when I was fabric shopping. My daughter doesn't like the random placement of squares in this new quilt, but I like it.

It's all just so sweet and girly and cuddly. I might have to make another to keep.