Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

What a happy, warm, and tasty day.

When it's all said and done, the best possible thing is to be able to sit and reflect over the food that was eaten, the wine that was drunk, and the sweetness of knowing so many terrific people. It's the ultimate vote of love and approval: your family and friends set aside whatever other plans they may have had the opportunity to make, and decide your house is worth spending the holiday at. They're confident in your abilities to provide comfort and warmth, laughter and a whole tableful of food. They trust you. They trust you to make it a good one.

(I'm pretty sure their trust has nothing to do with clean baseboards, but let me tell you, Saturday morning my baseboards were gleaming.)

On the menu this year:

Rosemary Walnut Rolls
Cranberry Mustard Relish
Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts
Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Platter Salad with Maple-Cider dressing
Roast Mixed Vegetables with mustard sauce (from The Vegetarian Hearth)
Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing (from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)
Mushroom Coulibiac (from The Vegetarian Hearth)
Spiced Pumpkin Phyllo Pie
Cranberry Chocolate Tart (from Moosewood Celebrates)
Ginger Mousse (from Bon Appetit, October 2009)

Despite forgetting to put the water on the table, despite tripling the salt in the rolls, despite the mushroom coulibiac splitting open and spilling its creamy and delicious guts... well, everything was okay anyway. Thank goodness.

It was nice to spend time with this gal again. The first Thanksgiving we spent together was our sophomore year of college, when we sat around my aunt's table drinking Bully Hill or watered-down Mudslides or some other godawful thing, sashaying into bookshelves on our way to the bathroom. There have been minor interruptions in the tradition since then (Japan, grad school, menfolk) but happily she made her return this year. It just isn't a proper Thanksgiving without Alexis.

Pete, as usual, was the life of the party.

Finally, dinner was on the table.
(Good lord, are we really gonna eat all that?)

A happy sight.

The requisite Dad-Diesel picture.

The dessert buffet.

The happy (and tuckered) hosts.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was happy, warm, and tasty, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude 2009

It's time to make this list again. My Gratitude 100. Last year I did it for the first time, and it was a real stretch to make it to 100. Let's see if I can do it again and not have any repeats.

1. Good Earth lemongrass green tea
2. Bandannas
3. Rubber chickens, and the dog who loves them
4. Dried cranberries
5. Horseradish cranberry sauce
6. Etsy
7. The Lonesome Sisters
8. Egg nog
9. Wintergreen berries
10. Cashmere
11. Pete trying to climb onto my lap while I'm typing
12. Vintage sheets
13. Button boxes
14. Yogurt
15. Cookie cutters
16. Anna Maria Horner
17. Black raspberry ice cream
18. Candy canes
19. Neighbors
20. Roller skates
21. Chipmunks
22. Togetherness
23. Wine nights
24. Tranquil
25. Scrabble
26. Harold and Maude
27. Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me
28. Nonstick bakeware
29. Heather Ross
30. Old quilts
31. Flowerpots
32. Beets
33. Pandora
34. Cardigans
35. Seashells
36. State parks
37. Sunny days in June
38. BR-549
39. Fleece
40. Embroidered ribbon
41. Seven Deadly Zins
42. Foodies
43. Michael Pollan
44. The White House garden
45. Old lace
46. Smoked paprika
47. Canning jars
48. Pea plants
49. Chestnuts
50. Barbara Kingsolver
51. Canoeing
52. Fried eggs
53. Walnut-cinnabun steamers
54. Coyotes
55. Mushrooms
56. Patrick's and my wonderful parents
57. Old furniture
58. Design Sponge
59. Paychecks
60. Pens in pretty colors
61. Gala apples
62. My stand mixer
63. Vintage mixing bowls
64. Long weekends
65. Cashew butterscotch bars
66. Marriage
67. Dishwashers
68. Pretty coats
71. Homemade pizza
72. A Place on Earth
73. Cattails
75. Goofy husbands (mine)
76. Q-tips
77. Orange zest
79. Pincushions
80. Kiss my Face Peaches and cream lotion
81. Ironing boards
82. Honest and reputable mechanics
83. Birthday flowers
84. York peppermint patties
85. Thrift stores
86. Steam cleaners
87. Anthropologie
88. Wainscoting
89. Gingham
91. Roasted vegetables
92. Seashells
93. Christmas lights
94. Pearls
95. Riding mowers
96. Earrings
97. Hot apple cider
98. Potatoes
99. When Harry met Sally
100. Fresh nutmeg

Wishing everyone the happiest of holiday weekends! Thanksgiving in Maryland for us tomorrow, driving back Friday, hosting Thanksgiving II for my family on Saturday. Busy, busy. See you Monday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pride and pancakes

My husband is an accomplished pancake-maker. The above are a prime example of his mad skills.

Most Sunday mornings, we're in the kitchen together contriving pancakes. I'm pulling flours and salt and baking powder out of our pantry, Patrick is rummaging in the fridge for a couple of eggs, some milk, and butter. When it comes to the cooking and the flipping of said pancakes, though, it's all him. I stand back at an appreciative distance and watch the man in action.

He does pancakes with the same macho fervor a more carnivorous man might apply to the barbecue. This past weekend, it was attended with just a touch of Hemingway-esque bravado.

Patrick was on the last of the batter, pouring it into a single, giant pancake. We were cozied with our tea cups and the sharing of Saturday-night anecdotes, (a busy night at the cafe for me, a debaucherous party for him) enjoying each other and anticipating breakfast. The he paused, mid-sizzle.

"Hey, watch this."

I watched he raised the frying pan, and the perfect, goldened orb soared into the air, narrowly missing the pot rack...executed a perfect batter-y arabesque... and made landfall in a slimy mess on our stovetop.

Our Hero of Attempted Pancake Flips slumped at his station, and quietly asked for a sponge.

Behold gravity, a mighty foe indeed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Self-indulgent sewing, the best

Here's what happened. About this time last week, after rounding third base on my mother-in-law's Christmas present, I paused to take stock of my Christmas-progress. It may not be apparent here, but I've been quietly sewing presents since the beginning of September.

The quilts are done. The pillows are done. The purse, the napkins, and the tote bags are done.

I did a double-take. A month to go, and only four presents left to make? Four quick, easy presents? Whaaat?

Self, I said, it's time for some self-indulgent sewing.

Hungrily, I hauled out my bag of thrift store/vintage/to-be-altered clothing, and dumped it on the floor.
All this week, with Thanksgiving looming distractingly in the near future, I carved out a few hours of sewing time and devoted it to myself.

Oh, it felt good. As many of you know, I have a hard time spending time on myself. (Money, on the other hand, is no problem...) I'm working on this. Certainly, my new-found love of refashioning helps. I can rationalize: I'm just a beginner, I don't want to flub someone's gift, for goodness sakes. Perhaps it's better if I just sew this one little thing for myself. Because then I'll have a new skirt for Friday night...

A new skirt, or two. And a dress, and cardigan.

(For those who are curious: the dress is vintage, bought at a yard sale this summer for $5. I repaired a tear with a little interfacing and creative embroidery, and hemmed it. The skirt in the middle was a thrift-store purchase, about ankle-length and a size 2. I cut the top off so it would fit my waist, made a waistband, and added some elastic. All I did to the sweater [also thrifted] was take it in. A lot. The skirt on the right used to be a button-down shirt [if you click on the picture you'll be able to see the buttons]. I bought it at Salvation Army, and altered it using this tutorial.)

All this has result in four new things to wear, and a quite obnoxious amount of pride. Next week, it's back to the presents.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Simple gifts

This caught my eye as I was leaving the house this morning. Pretty fabric, dried hydrangeas, sunshine. A little bit of serendipity on my way out the door.

This is the first thing you see when you walk into our house. It's a funny little room, maybe four feet by four feet, with doors on three of the four walls. There was something very Alice in Wonderland about this room of many doors.

Last year, I bought a piece of plywood to fit inside one of the door frames, and covered it with pretty fabric. Now it's hard to leave behind those lacy flower-shadows and head to work.

At least on sunny days like this.

Monday, November 16, 2009


In accordance with my monstrous, scroll-like Thanksgiving to-do list, I am making ahead as much of the feast as possible. This (hopefully) will result in an organized and sane feast day. It worked last year, that's all I can say.

So, I've been making pie crust.

Complete with stars. Don't you know pie crust tastes better when it's cut into dozens of little stars?

Also, cranberry relish. Later this week, I will make pumpkin pie filling, oatmeal flatbread, a port wine cheese ball, and split the atom with my bare hands. And scrub baseboards!

At this point I think I'm beginning to sound like a Cathy comic strip, so I'll sign off.

Oh, Thanksgiving. The madness you visit upon this household is truly biblical. I still love you, though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The little desk that could

The new desk is finally...

...done! And I'm delighted. Considering I mixed the paint in the basement, dumping together a little of this and a little more of that until I shrugged and gave up... I think I got pretty lucky.

It seems to be a color that's pretty friendly towards bright yellow walls, and also to red apples in white bowls. A good thing.

Unfortunately, my whole motivation for the project was to have a place to put my bread machine... but now that the desk is done, I'm not sure I want to cover it up with an appliance. Anyone have any clever small-appliance concealing tricks?

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