aprons. huzzah!

I made aprons for gifts this year. And, like many of my recent sewing endeavors (knock on hard, unforgiving wood), they turned out pretty great. (My photos aren't that great, however, but I was sewing these puppies after work with waning light and it was really effing cold outside. Also, several were gifted before documented but here, at least, is a smattering)

The best part? I used scrap fabric and embellishments. The not-best part? I thought I'd be able to whip them out in no time but, well, they took a bit longer than no time cause I became all obsessed with perfect little details but my mom says that is what makes a good seamstress so maybe I am getting closer? Ma?

The template is so simple with the finished apron being a rectangle measuring 26" x 21" (w x h) ish depending on the gift recipient. But, I think the 21 x 26 size fits most. And, they are all double thickness so they are sturdy and can stand up to thick gravies and spilled martinis and such. This is important.

I find that I really really love to be in my studio and sew away while my house is asleep. Surrounded by Andy's paintings and good music. The see saw rhythm of my grandma's old machine. It is a really solid and satisfying experience.

In other sewing news, the quilt is coming right along...both sides are finished and the batting preshrunk and I just have to combine it all and bind it. I have been dragging my feet and I think it is because I am afraid it won't turn out. I have spent a lot of time on this daddy and I'll just twitch if it doesn't turn out. Here's a peak.


merries and hos*

Indeed there are at least eleven storms colliding directly over the top of the interstate forcing a nine-hour drive to the coast into a 13-hour endeavor, then one considers the dog and one-year-old bug and decides against the drive to Portland for the holiday. At least we did, anyway.

We have been feeling funky about not being in our favorite pacific city with our favorite people (especially when they announce they are with bun in oven and we can't be there to hug). And then there's the pleasant circumstance of my man and me having five days off together with no agenda. And friends popping in to go on three-hour walks and spontaneous invitations to meals with bffs. And, well, it leaves me really in love with my town and my pals.

We drove up to a friend's cabin on the Blackfoot on christmas day. The drive was horrendous and confirmed our smart decision to avoid Portland (cause I was full of doubt in our choice and wanting to hop in the car and just give it a try and Andy was all no way in hell are we doing that but I won't admit that he was right and he'll never know it because he doesn't read The Blog).

It was just our little family unit with a pile of gourmet noshes in a snowy snowy cabin on the river. We cooked and chatted all afternoon, ate a scrumptious several-course meal, sipped delicious wine and played scrabble while hopping about with our dog and kid. It was a really great day.

And, then, the next day, we sat by the fire and savored thick coffee for hours while finishing the scrabble game (ahem, I won even though I let Andy count unibrain. I put my foot down at duifarm) and then we trekked through the snow for hours.

So I left our journey feeling like you really can polish a turd. Andy uses that phrase carefully in the opposite context--he works in construction and people are *always* trying to make shitty 80s tile look like a thoughtful and intended design decision to which he replies you can't polish a turd. But, what I mean is more in reference to the whole lemon and lemonade thing. This christmas we polished a road-weary, garland-bedecked turd and it turned out fabulously.

:: :: :: a few of the recipes :: :: ::

apologies for the lack of specifics.....I winged it and you should too. One can never lose with olive oil, garlic and butter.

brussels sprouts with bacon vinaigrette

five-six slices bacon
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
garlic, chopped
fresh thyme, minced
olive oil
a few handfuls of brussels sprouts
  1. Fry bacon until crispy.
  2. Whisk a few tablespoons vinegar, a few teaspoons of mustard, an assload of garlic and thyme. While whisking constantly, slowly add a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Remove the outer leaves of each brussels sprout. This takes forever and I wouldn't tell you to do it if it weren't fabulous. I think chopping them up would be fine too.
  4. Add brussels sprout leaves, 1/2 cup water and one tablespoon of butter and steam until bright green. Drain and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Crumble bacon into vinegar mixture and toss with brussels sprout leaves.
  6. Relish every last bite.
roasted cauliflower with caper berries

one head cauliflower, cut into smallish florets
five-six caper berries, diced
olive oil
salt and pep
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets with about 1/4 cup olive oil and caper berries
  3. Place in dish and cook until golden brown,
  4. Toss with 1/4 cup parsley.
fillet with demi-glace

This sauce took forever and was so worth it but my man cooked it and I don't know what he did so here is a picture of the fabulousness and you can e mail me if you want the recipe.

*full merries and hos credit given to Pam


three little nuggets

Oh December. We have had heaps and gobs of parties and house guests and in between all the merriment, I have been (a scosh frantic about) sewing the really-easy-won't-take-hardly-any-time gifts that are, ahem, taking a while. More on that later.

Last night I s l o w e d down a bit and I inhaled three little beautiful corners of my world:

1. The steady warmth of hopeful lights as they make their way through new snow.

2. Olive all cozy and curled like a shell in her favorite olive green chair.

3. The sweet tricycle my parents gave bug for her first birthday. I am loving it just lounging about the house as decoration.

What are your three nuggets?


really really cold

Winter is kind of like those bullies who just push themselves to the front row of a concert. Nothing gentle about the first arctic snap. It finally snowed here. It has been a wacky few months in western Montana what with the general warmness and lack of precipitation. It makes even those with the slight itch to ski nervous. And then there are those, like my husband, who purt near seize when it's December and so little (like no) snow has fallen.

Skiing is my man's religion. So, last Saturday morning, he woke in all a flutter at 4am to drive to the Bridgers where they got 15 inches last Tuesday and dude, it's dumping today, says Joey and Dan.

4am pile o epic ski weekend

I miss the snow in Missoula. When I was a kid, it snowed all the time. There were feet on the valley floor all winter. And, now, we are lucky to have four inches stick for a week. My dad used to hike and ski Sentinel when he was in high school. I wondered out loud to my dad if my memory was inaccurate, as kid memories can be...did it feel like a few feet of snow because I was only a few feet high? Nope. It used to snow a lot and it stuck around brightening those otherwise dreary iverted months.

This year was especially painful because it hadn't snowed at all until last Friday. All excited to get out in it (love to run, walk or generally wander in snow), bug, Alice and I set out early morning. It was 25 degrees when we left and 20 when we got home and the wind was blinding and lifesucking. I barely made it from the car to a friend's house that night. It was 4 degrees. And by Sunday it was -5, -29 with the wind. burrrr.

I jumped from bed Sunday morning and immediately thought cold chickens! Actually, I first thought, I desperately wish someone would bring me coffee in bed and then cold chickens! I layered all up in down and wool and made the take-your-breathe-away trek to the coop. And, the girls were just gossiping and prancing about.

I was skeptical when told my hens would be OK in the Montana winter with a draft-free coop. Turns out, yup. Fine.

So, I took advantage of a day with my animals and kid and no reason to leave the house. Making bread (even though I mistakenly added 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of salt and the loaf resembles a brick), sewing presents, folding warm laundry, dancing with Alice to christmas music (bug finds this hilarious to no end) and performing one of my most favorite challenges: making a delicious dinner out of nothing...or, at least nothing obviously dinneresque. Stay warm out there.

front door knob. yes, it is that effing cold. And, yes, we don't lock it because we don't have a key.


pearadise (ha!)

So I have been paying more attention to the other blog. In truth, right now, writing about my cooking-crafty-runningness is trumped by a newly walking nearly-one-year-old. But the other stuff is still happening (quilt!) and is feeling left out what with all the pictures collecting metaphorical dust in iphoto.

And I'll talk about pears. That perfect, sexy fruit with a too-short shelf life.

Not so long ago my friend and stealthy local produce connoisseur gave me a giant box of the most perfect, unsprayed pears from the Bitterroot Valley. I prepared a nearly-obnoxious amount of the beasts that amounted to a measly, uninspiring pile of jars. This is why I like butters. You throw the fruit in a pot (I don't remove skins), cook the pehjesus out of it, puree it and can it. It is easy and amounts to a satisfying booty.

I had decided to can whole pears because I am obsessed with my family eating local food this winter and Andy isn't into pureed fruit on his salad. The nerve. So I peeled and halved for effing ever. I don't much care for the simple syrup pack and so opted for water only. I must admit the pears have incredible flavor and my household loves them. If we each eat one pear half per week, I think we'll have enough until the rhubarb emerges.

Speaking of pears, I made a great muffin last weekend. With pears (of course not local but so delicious I couldn't resist) because I bought an assload of them and then they all ripen at the exact same moment and then one has approximately four hours to devour them before they are hucked into the chicken coop.

The recipe was easy and delicious.

Pear Muffin Recipe :: makes 12

1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp soft butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
2 1/2 cups pears, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir together powdery stuff.
In a different bowl, mix butter with brown sugar. Beat in eggs one by one, followed by yogurt. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Mixture will be thick. Add pears and barely stir as to avoid a pear massacre.

Fill cups. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

ps If you like the pear photo up top, you just might like the uber-hip Fashionable Montana Edibles postcard collection I am producing. Stay tuned.


trim (not a tree)

Oh my oh my. We have baseboard.

We bought our house five years ago after, for ten years, it was a quintessential college boy party bach pad. The yard was compact dirt and every wall carried a film of beer. A few years ago we had a dinner party and a friend brought a friend who exclaimed dude, my dope dealer used to live here. Aha. That explains the shreds of black plastic on the basement window frames.

Slowly we are fixing our little home right up. We thought we'd be finishing our old, beautiful, circa 1920s hardwood floors right away but it never happened. Partly because it is a giant pain in the ass and thousands of dollars and partly because some moron who loved brown shag carpet and didn't like the floors squeaking nailed every board to the floor joists below. I mean, nobody would ever see it because who would ever want to pull up that luscious, marbled orange and brown blanket on the floor?

So sanding isn't an option because the hundreds of nail heads would tear the sandpaper to shreds. And pulling the nails would not work because they are like three inches in diameter and eleven feet long. Or something close to that. And I am officially exhausted from defending our choice to keep the funk. I love it. It is history and that wood is beautiful. And I don't want to schlep in more stuff because it'd really look great in here if you had new hardwood floors. I like the funk.

Andy has been denying me baseboard for all these years because *some day* we are going to buff and seal our funky floors. But it isn't happening any time soon and I am constantly on my belly taking photos because I have a kid and animals who demand to be documented. So that's what did it for me: the unfinished backdrop to my family photos, the sliver of shag around the kitchen, the puke blue plastic base that I now see because I am repeatedly picking up bug's lid collection off the kitchen floor.

So I just said babe, can we pretty please lay baseboard and deal with the floors later and, perhaps, never? And, he said yes. And he did completed the project that weekend. And I nearly had cardiac arrest I was so pleased. Margot likes it better too.

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