Monday, December 31, 2007

Beat THAT, 2008!

Photo by Friendly Made

Wow, hard to believe it's been 365 days since we did this last year. 2007 was wild. As I sit here in my pajamas at 8 PM on the biggest partying night of the year, I can honestly say I feel like a rockin' party animal, living life to the fullest. Let's recap, shall we? Top 10 Rock Star Things That Happened to Me in 2007 in Semi-Chronological-But-Also-Sort-of-Ranked-by-Importance:

10. Took a Babymoon to Charleston. No, "babymoon" is not a word I invented. Look it up.
9. Planned and attended my first "crafty retreat" in Red Wing, MN with a bunch of amazing and craftastic women.
8. Visited Atlanta for the first time. The traffic is insane. There are a ton of cute, quirky places to check out, and some of the homes are amazing to see.
7. Went to my good friend Ellen's wedding, in which we partied like crazy out on the lake. I donned the groom's mother's 60's maternity swimsuit and enjoyed it very much.
6. Planned and participated in the 2007 No Coast Craft-o-rama at the Midtown Global Market. With over 8,000 attendees and 100 vendors, it was a huge sucess!
5. Went to my sweet sister-in-law's wedding in Arizona and basked in the warm October sunshine for a few days.
4. Learned what it feels like to have a baby squirm in your belly. And get hiccups.
3. Crafted like a madwoman, inspired (possessed/obsessed) by all the great blogs I read, Flickr, etc.
2. Laughed and enjoyed friends and family immensely
1. Gave birth to my Little Pumpkin, the absolute sweetest little thing I have ever laid eyes and arms on. My obsessive nightime checking on him is driven by my complete lack of comprehension at how I could be so lucky to have this life.

So, beat that 2008! I dare ya!

Have a very safe and happy new year! Rock it out for me! I'll be here in my jammies!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 2007 Come and Gone

It sure seems like it goes quickly, doesn't it? I mean, I hardly had 400 cookies made when poof! done! I hardly had myself worked into a complete wreck before...ahhh, it's over. All the handmade goodies are made and gifted (except one...), all the cookies given away or eaten (except that huge batch of gingerbread in my freezer), all the stockings and ornaments up and looking great, and all of our blessings counted.

We had a wonderful little trip to Wisconsin, full of good food and company. Little Pumpkin of course is too little to really appreciate Christmas, but he really appreciated all the love, attention and new sights and sounds. We could tell he was taking a lot in when he fell asleep for his nap and giggled, frowned and "cried" his way through some serious baby dreams. What do babies dream of? Hugs, being tickled, eating, and that type of thing, I'm guessing. But it could be visions of sugarplums, I dunno. Or maybe dreams about all the wildlife he saw, like this little visitor:

I got some great handmade stuff from Santa that I might have to write up and show off. Really great stuff off of etsy. And a little gift to myself called Warm Fuzzies by Betz White. Betz was at No Coast a few years ago and I've been a big admirer of hers and reader of her blog ever since. I have just had a chance to page through it so far, but it's so cute it made me squeal a little. There's a girl's jumper in there that I so badly need to make into baby overalls. Too cute you must run, not walk, and buy it now.

I hope you all had a very peacefull and happy holiday and are staying tucked warmly in bed. I myself am snuggled into many new warm jammies and slippers and am about to go cozy up with a felting project that's not a Christmas gift. Yay!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Husband's a Record Nerd: Christmas Music That Doesn't Suck

We do a lot of music listening around our house, due in part to my husband's extensive (makes Hi Fidelity John Cusack look like an amateur) record collection. Our Christmas collection is good, but it could be better. So, I'll give you our favorites if you'll give me yours!

Mellow, snuggle up with cocoa, reflect on the meaning of Christmas music:
John Fahey, Christmas Guitar Vol. 1
Low Christmas Album
Johnny Cash the Christmas Spirit

Fun, loungy, have a swingin' party music:
The Cocktails Winter Wonderland (sorry, not sure where you can get this...?)
The Beach Boys Christmas Album
Cool Yule (Various Artists/Chuck Berry/James Brown)
Original Soul Christmas
Dr. Demento's The Greatest Novelty Record of All Time Vol 6

Just buy it, and you won't regret it:
Trojan Records Jamaican Christmas Box Set
Bing Crosby Merry Christmas
Gene Autry Signs Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Not related to the Christmas music list, I just saw that 10,000 people signed the handmade pledge this year. If you signed the handmade pledge, thank you! There was a great article in the NY Times that I think you might like to read! I bought a lot of great hand made stuff this year; maybe I can recap after all my blog readers (hello family! hello friends!) have opened their gifts!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Non-Sock Sock Yarn Patterns

Why don’t I want to knit socks? I can’t really explain it, myself. I bought this beautiful sock yarn from Aisha Celia and I’m not sure what to do with it. The colors were so beautiful that I had to have it, but I really have never wanted to knit socks. Maybe because they seem so utilitarian and this yarn is so gorgeous. I mean, no one really *sees* my socks, anyway, right? I generally sport the most un-exciting socks you can imagine – white sweat socks, black sweat socks, or black dress socks, depending on the day. That’s about the extent of my sockrobe (My portmanteau-of-the-day!). Maybe that all needs to change. My lack of sockspiration (another one!) might be my downfall!

So, I set out looking for patterns using sock yarn that I could attempt instead. It’s not such an easy task, I’ve found. There are about 20 million free sock yarn patterns on the internet, but a limited number of patterns using sock yarn, which are not themselves socks. Baby sweaters seem to be the most popular sock yarn sock alternative, but I am reluctant to dress my son in pink and green, so I think that’s out unless someone I know is expecting a baby girl. In case you find yourself in a similar predicament, here are some options for your sock yarn stash:

Lace Knit Hat
Mini Sweater Ornament
Knitty Hush Hush (Nightie)
Opal Baby Set (Sweater/Hat/Socks)
Girlfriend Shrug

What else is out there? Should I just give in and knit some socks? Suggestions welcome!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy St. Nicolas Day and a Pizza Dough Recipe

In my sister's house, St. Nicolas comes and leaves little surprises in the kid's shoes on December 6th. I hadn't started that tradition with little Pumpkin yet, but after hearing that my niece received "a reindeer that poops jelly beans" I immediately felt the need to get it going. So, I had my niece write St. Nick a really nice letter letting him know that baby Pumpkin had been born and now he could start visiting our house. Lo and behold the very next day, this cute bath toy was deposited in his shoes! It's no pooping reindeer, but Grant seems to like it!

I also finished baby Pumpkin's new stocking, which is hung by the fire with care in hopes that Santa soon will fill it with a little bit more hair and the ability to sleep through the night consistently. Sure looks cute, doesn't it?

And, completely unrelated, but related to yesterday's post is the recipe for Jason's pizza dough. Here goes:

1 1/4 C warm water
1/2 pkg. active dry yeast
2 T EVOO (if you don't know this term yet, you're missing Rachael Ray)
3 1/2 C flour (you can use a bit of whole wheat if you like...2 C maybe?)
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
some rosemary (to taste)
handfull of cornmeal

Mix the water, yeast and oil in a bowl. Add the flour, salt, pepper and rosemary and stir until it forms dough. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and knead dough until it's smooth (5 mins?). Lightly oil a bowl, put the dough inside and cover it with a warm, damp cloth. Let it rise about an hour. Divide in half and let it rise another 20 minutes. At this point, you can roll it out (we like it rolled out *really* thin) or freeze it in a ziplock for about a month. Just make sure to let it completely thaw for about a day in the fridge before you try to use it. When you do roll it out, make sure to use the cornmeal on a pizza peel (a big wooden dealie) or baking sheet. Stretching it with your hands works okay if rolling with a rolling pin doesn't do it. Then, top it, bake it (10 - 15 mins?) on high heat and eat it!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Three Cheers for a Long Weekend

Ahhhh, I love me some long weekends. It started out with some cookie baking Thursday night. I made these Orange, Cardamom & Brandy Biscuits from Esuientes Blog with just a few modifications. I used 3 T of brandy (good thing Brandy is gross or I may have had to pour myself a glass at the same time) and instead of rolling out the dough, I kneaded it just a little bit to mix it in the bowl. Then I grabbed a wad with my hands and rolled it in a ball, put it on the cookie sheet, egg washed it and then smashed it down with a sugared glass. Turned out beautifully -- a little crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. I baked mine for about 11 minutes. I recommend them!

Then Friday, it was a trip to the pediatrician for Baby Pumpkin. He checked out totally healthy, but didn't like his shots too much. He's been sleepy and not his happy, smiley self all weekend. Which is extremely unsettling when you are the momma of a very happy baby. But, he seems to be recovering okay.

Friday night we had friends over for homemade pizza, and tomorrow I'll post the recipe for the dough. It's really simple, and so worth doing by hand. Our friends challenged us to a pizza Iron Chef sometime, and I think Mr. Pumpkin might have a shot at winning. mmmmmm.

The family visited Saturday and I have the nieces to thank for this lovely shrinky dink Christmas tree. It looks a lot like my real tree...

We had a great time just hanging around, decorating the house and munching cookies. The girls found a spot and made a little fort for their dolls while the rest of us worked on dinner, or just took up space in the kitchen, per normal get-together protocol. Dinner was great, too -- scallops, wild rice, mushrooms scavenged by my sister and her mushroom hunting kids, and some salad. Oh, it's such a shame we can't do it every day.

Today we recovered, wrapped gifts, made Beef Stew in the crock pot (well, you virtually *have* to do this if you live in the Midwest and it's wintertime). Phew.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting Ready for Cookie Baking and Decorating

My little nieces and the whole family are visiting Saturday to celebrate my and my hubby's b-days (a thinly veiled excuse to visit the baby) and we're planning lots of fun stuff. I have a tree to decorate, a mantle to cover in fake snow and little houses and the above new snowman from FinnStyle. I am also plotting some cookie baking for my day off tomorrow. I definitely plan to make the gingerbread cookies out of my Tartine cookbook, and hopefully some sugar cookies from a recipe by my grandma's neighbor "Svenska" (whose real name was Dagne and who made the world's lightest, most crisp sugar cookies on earth). I'll publish that recipe here after I make them, hopefully with a photo.

Also, I think we have some sledding planned and some scallops and shrimp for "supper." Looking forward to it!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Baby's Daddy

It's Mr. Pumpkin Girl's birthday Friday, and I'll be gone at the craftorama all day. So I'm feeling guilty and sorry I couldn't make it more of a fun day for him. He's a good hubby and a good daddy. Hopefully our sweet baby can make it up to him on my behalf with a few well-timed smiles and giggles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bingo and Grandma Betty

My grandma Betty was a pretty awesome grandma. When I was little she would take me on walks "in the ditch" by her house, which was pretty much a little culvert that sometimes was dry, and sometimes allowed for just the right amount of splashing around. She would also pick me up from school if I was sick and take me to McDonald's for a sundae. So, you know, a real "grandmas grandma." Pretty normal in most ways.

However, in the years before she died, grandma Betty surprised the whole family by becoming exceptionally good at a kooky little game my family plays around the holidays called "Big Ass Bingo." It involves the standard game of Bingo, but with really sh*tty prizes. I mean, like the craziest, most bizarre and disgusting stuff you can come up with. My grandma, who liked to buy cutesy stuff and candles and soaps and things, eventually caught on that the prizes were supposed to suck. And once she caught on, she ruled it.

Grandma found some terribly awesome stuff, probably hidden in her basement for decades, or stumbled upon at a garage sale somewhere, and it made us crack up. Clown heads with crocheted stuff around it and weird misshapen kid's pottery and who knows what else. She would try to wear a poker face when someone was about to open something she'd brought, but she couldn't contain herself. Her prizes were so bad, she even wrapped them in crappy paper. And she found it all very hilarious.

I made this fancy bingo card, in fact a set of bingo cards, in her honor. The anniversary of her death is in a few weeks and I'll be thinking about her, playing some bingo and laughing our heads off. If you would like to introduce the family-bonding game of Big Ass Bingo to your family, stop by my booth at No Coast. I'll have a set with your name on it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Pre-Christmas

At the house of Pumpkin Girl, Thanksgiving really is just the marker on the calendar that signals that it's "okay" to start playing Christmas tunes, and decorating and shopping for the holiday that in all reality is over a month away. I mean, seriously people, it's not even DECEMBER yet, and we're ready to start breaking out the festiveness and putting on our Christmas sweater. But I'm not complaining, merely pointing out our collective flaws and "glass half full" optimism and cheerfulness about the coming holiday. Of course, not everyone is as cheerful, but screw them! I love Christmas.

But enough about Christmas, enjoy some photos of our Thanksgiving. Let's at least give that poor holiday a little credit of it's own for bringing people together around food and drinks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My New Pumpkin Girl Banner

Sometimes I feel like getting ready for a craft sale or selling stuff on etsy is escapism. I haven't balanced my checkbook in months, I have dirty laundry, and the dishes need to be washed, but I manage to update my blog, add stuff to my etsy shop, make new products to sell, and order supplies for No Coast. But doing fun things that make me happy should be all good, right?

Anyway, good or not, I made myself a new banner for my craft booth. I hung it on my fireplace to test it out. Whatcha think? It was easy to make. I printed out letters, about 5 to a page and made a thin black circle to go around them that served as my cutting line. Then I traced a bigger bowl to cut out the shapes for the background. Add a little gluestick and a hole puncher and some ribbon, and voila! A banner!

If I didn't feel like making one, I would have thought about buying this one from Mahar Dry Goods. Other banners that I like include this Merry Christmas one from meringuedesigns on Etsy and this Believe banner that looks a lot like mine from StoriaHome, also on Etsy. I'm really kind of digging the idea of getting one to hang on my fireplace for the holidays. Maybe since my house is sort of wood-y, I should get this super cool wooden banner from smallstump.

Anyhoo, happy banner hunting and wish me luck with mine!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My New Camera IS AMAZING!

I just got a new camera, the Nikon D40, and it's unbelievable. Compare this shot to the one in my previous post taken with my old camera. Maybe it's *not* me that's the terrible photographer!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clothespin Angel Christmas Ornaments

Waiting for the bus this week I bumped into my friend Run Amok, fellow member of the Saint Paul Craft Mafia, and she mentioned she had been working her little fingers to the bone cranking out ornaments for the upcoming craft sale. I told her that I, too had been making ornaments. Well, more like ornament. Singular. That was on Tuesday, when my above glittery gal with knitted frock was the only ornament I'd made. Over the last few nights, however, I've made more. I skipped the glitter because it was messy and getting all over the place. The real miracle is, though, that I'll have some cute clothespin angels at the sale. Yippee!

Here's the thread that inspired me to make them. This blog post by Kath Reed from 2005 has the motherlode of resources if you're interested in making your own clothespin dolls, or just want to see what others have done. There are some pretty amazing ones out there! If you know of other places to find clothespin doll inspiration, do post! I'd love to see more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Mom's Crafty: Interview with Granny's Closet

My mom is the reason why I’m obsessed with crafting. Yes, I blame her for my need to sew in particular, but also my irrational objection to throwing anything away for fear that it could be part of some groundbreaking new craft project. Some of the earliest memories I have of spending time with my mom are of the two of us sitting on the floor in our living room, pinning down patterns for pinafores, Halloween costumes, fall jackets and other things she made for me.

She taught me how to sew (my first project was a heart shaped pillow made out of stretchy cotton) long before Home Economics class, and it was in that class that I was issued my first speeding ticket – not for driving too fast, but for sewing too fast. Mom also taught me to do cross stitch — which I can still do, barely — and most recently I used that skill to make my husband a “Man Room” sign for his record room, complete with “sitting ladies” (think mud flaps), beers, and guitars.

Nowadays, my mom and I don’t craft together much since we aren’t in the same state, but we both still craft, and sell our stuff on Etsy. She also was the driving force behind my founding of the No Coast Craft-o-rama, which drew 8,000 attendees last year, many of whom stood in line to buy my mom’s bags before she was even fully set up. I thought it might be fun to talk to my mom about her recent success crafting for business. Here’s the interview:

Q: So, mom -- you've been retired now for what, 2 years? How do you like being a full time crafter?
A: I love being a full time crafter for many reasons. First, it keeps me from being a couch potato. Many retired people that I know just do not seem to do anything. Crafting makes me feel productive and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. It also keeps the mind active and helps me stay current with the changing trends.

Q: Remember back on the pumpkin farm? What kinds of things have you crafted over the years? Successes? Failures?
A: I have dabbled into many areas of crafting. I used to make most of my children's clothing so my sewing was mostly doing essential stuff rather than "crafty" things. Failures? I guess the one I remember the most isn't exactly a failure but it sure sticks out in my mind. One Christmas I had spent months secretly crocheting Barbie Doll clothes for one of my daughters. I was SO excited because they had really turned out well and I was thrilled that she would have bunch of Barbie clothes that were different from everyone else’s. She opened the box on Christmas morning and it went over like a lead balloon. She wanted the store bought stuff. My most recent failure is my first pair of underwear that I made in my Serger class. My husband threatens to frame them - guess I am going to have to burn them!

Q: Your sales on Etsy are incredible -- 637 items sold as of today! To what do you attribute your success?
A: I think it is mainly my fabric choices. That is the most frequent positive comment I get from people. I also think that I have priced my items well. I try to figure as closely as possible what it costs me to make it and give myself a reasonable profit.

Q: What's some advice you would give to people selling on Etsy, or doing craft sales like No Coast Craft-o-rama?
A: Study what is selling on Etsy and at what price range. Try a few items and if they totally bomb - move on to something else. Know your skill limitations and stick with making things you do well. Promote your shop as much as possible. However, I think the main thing for long-term success on Etsy (or anywhere else for that matter) is GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE with a personal touch! I have lots of repeat customers and I think part of the reason is that I am respectful to my buyer, prompt with acknowledging each sale and with the shipping.

Q: You buy a lot of handmade stuff from other Etsy sellers. Why do you like buying handmade stuff?
A: I like handmade things because they are usually well done and unique. I like buying things that you maybe cannot get anywhere else. And I love the opportunity to buy from my fellow Etsiers. For the most part, they are a great, creative bunch of people.

Granny's Closet Etsy Shop

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm on a Roll: More New Cards!

I've put a bunch of new cards in my shop lately. This one was inspired by our very own Minnesota Rollergirls. Fellow crafter and rollergirl Cupcake invited some of us to the December 8th bout, just in time for my birthday. Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Coast Posters for Download!

Guys and gals, it's one of my favorite times of year. It's craft sale time. I have to admit, it's also an extremely busy time of year. There are about a billion moving parts to putting this thing together, and the 8 or so of us who plan it squeeze a HECK of a lot of time out of our personal lives to do it, and we don't make any money for it! But enough whining, let's get to the good stuff.

Of course I think our local crafters are about the sweetest, most talented, generous and amazing people you'll find anywhere. One of them in particular, Adam Turman, really stepped up to the plate to help us out this year. He designed a poster so cool that I giggle just a little bit every time I look at it. It's pink and brown (great colors), features a cabin (I love cabins) and just screams Midwest crafty charm.

Highlights this year of course include my mom selling her knitting needle and crochet hook bags, Kristen Mary and her hubby Trophiogrande International selling stockings, fabric paper dolls and illustrations, Charlie and Sarah who sell clothes for little boys (and girls), and Fantastic Toys, whose stuff I have admired but not yet bought.

If you haven't already, make a shopping list, come on Friday (avoid the crowd?) and be prepared to want WAY more than you can possibly afford.

No Coast Craft-o-rama
Nov 30, 3 - 8 PM
Dec 1, 9 to 5 PM
Midtown Global Market, Lake St.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You, Too Can Be a Winner

Mama photo not your gig? How about Craft Zine's Prairie-Girl Inspired Apron Contest? I'm not sure if anyone has tried this, but one of my all-time favorite aprons is the dish soap bottle apron (free pattern here). I also love looking at the Flickr photoset dedicated to vintage apron patterns like the one at the top of this post. And finally, some patterns using these great fabrics by Heather Bailey and an awesome halter-style pattern by Heather Bailey that apparently isn't available yet...?
Happy apron making! I'm off to add some new cards to my shop!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mama Photo Contest

I love the idea of the Mama Focus Photo Contest by Mama Zine, but I have not a photographer bone in my body. I like to blame my terrible photography on my equipment, but the more likely culprit is me. I just don't have the eye. But, if you do, or if your kid is old enough to take a picture of you, you should enter this contest, or at least visit the Flickr group where the entries are posted. Boy, there are some pretty mamas and some really good photographers out there. So far my favorite is this one by Laura Kukulski.
My favorite (although not arty, not really worthy of this contest) photo of myself post-mamahood is this one. I think it really captures the moment when Grant's feet hit the cold water at the kiddie pool, and I thought, "uh oh, maybe not such a fun idea!"

I think my sister should enter this one, which I assume was taken by one of her kidlets!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Knittin' Some Mittens

I'm not that great of a knitter, but every now and again I try something I've never done before and surprise myself at how well it turns out. I always thought of mittens as something that would be impossibly hard (how do they come out looking like a pair?!) or take an impossibly long time to do. I have been there, now, and I tell you it's not that bad! I think it took me an hour or two to make each one. No problem!

I should caveat that statement by revealing that my first pair of mittens were made for someone with very, very small hands. But, now that I know it's not like knitting an intestinal system or a knit motercycle, after all!

Now that I'm on a roll, I might try some of these fun looking mitten patterns:

Cuff up Mitten
Gifted Cashmere Mittens
Plaid Mittens
Classic Vintage Mittens
Open Palm "Driving Glove" Mittensor these with fingers and a button
Coolest Pirate Mittens on EarthMitts for my Babe
Jack & Jill Baby Mitts
Cuddly, Fast and Colorful Mittens
Window Pane Mitten

Man, there are a ton of patterns out there -- after mittens I suppose I'll have to try arm warmers!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Holiday Cards!

Somehow with all the stuff going on in my baby, restarting my job, planning the No Coast Craft-o-rama, an out-of-state wedding, etc....I happened to find time to be inspired enough to design a few new holiday cards.
I hope you like them! They are available in my etsy store, or just shoot me an email!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Buy Handmade Pledge

There's a cool little web site encouraging people to buy handmade goods this holiday season. Of course, I both make, sell and buy handmade goods, so I fully support the cause. Not only that, but I help plan the No Coast Craft-o-rama where people all over the Twin Cities area can buy handmade from over 100 artists and designers. Not that I dislike the mall, or shopping, or buying some things that are mass produced (tights? underwear? toilet paper?), but when it comes to buying gifts, there really isn't anything I like giving or receiving more than something someone spent TIME on. Money is easy to come by in some ways, but creativity, time, thoughtfulness, originality...these are the things that make the receiver of a gift feel truly loved.

Please sign the Buy Handmade Pledge today!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If I Won the Lottery...


Messenger Sling Tote

Vintage Button Hairpins

Adorable Cloche of Red

Well, in reality, if I won the lottery, I'd be splitting it up lots of ways and probably not really concerned with the little things I'd buy, like clothes and stuff. But, a lottery win is probably the only impetus that would cause me to spend money on myself in what I would consider such a frivolous way. For me, if it didn't come from the thrift store, I paid too much. The exceptions are:

1. Good shoes
2. Jeans
3. Handmade stuff

So here are some things I am longing for right now and wish I had oodles of cash just waiting to be spent on myself! So if you have a spare couple hundred dollars laying around, feel free to go on a shopping spree for me!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Make Your Own Corpse!

Just in time for Halloween, our friend Scooter has released his DVD on how to make your own corpse . I watched it Thursday night and it's really pretty awesome. He shows you how to make the whole thing using a styrofoam mannequin head, a 5-gallon pail, some PVC pipe and a lot of glue sticks. I don't think I'd have the attention span to make the whole thing, but I definitely could pay attention long enough to make the head. It turns out looking fantastically creepy.

The other great part about this DVD is the vignettes in between segments -- Scooter's beautiful assistant Boompira is also a talented upholsterer if anyone needs any work done!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My TV Addiction: Anthony Bourdain No Reservations

Generally I don't become hopelessly infatuated with any show on TV. I've never been the type to say "I have to get home to catch Melrose" or "Let's go to Sex In the City Night down at the bar". I have to make one exception to this personal rule, however, for No Reservations. If it's on, look out -- I'm watching it.

What I most love about Anthony Bourdain's show is his sarcastic sense of humor. I particularly enjoyed the episode I watched yesterday in which he make the perfunctory visit to the Pina Colada joint in Puerto Rico (with the marble sign out front beckoning cruise ship tourists), only to sit and smirk smugly at the bar whilst sipping away at his drink, which came directly out of a massive mix dispenser behind the bar and included what else but a pink paper umbrella. I also love his jabs at Rachael Ray, Emeril and all other travel/food TV show hosts. He's so above that, right...?

His TV show isn't the only thing I admire about him. I also read his book Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed it quite a bit. I haven't read his other books, but they'll all be on my wish list for Santa this year.

So you'll understand my excitment that Mr. Bourdain will be stopping by Minneapolis for a talk and book signing at the Triple Rock on November 26th. I'm so there. The whole family is so there. I want my four month old to be able to say he had a brush with true chef/TV show/author genius.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Secret Friend!

My friend is having a birthday this weekend, and I'm spoiling her gift surprise on my blog. Am I lame, or just a tease? Hopefully she likes it! Hopefully it fits!

I would have to say this friend is my most stylish friend, so it's pretty intimidating making clothes for her. But, this fabric called out to me as something she would like. I know it's pretty off-season, but what the heck. She can wear it next summer. I used this Favorite Things pattern called Prairie Girl. Although she lives in Iowa, I don't really think of her as a prairie girl...but whatever.

Anyhoo...I like the pattern, and just made a few adjustments. In particular, I tacked down the neck facing and widened the facing around the bottom of the arm. I also sewed in the "dickie" as I'm really kind of opposed to dickies in general.

Happy Birthday, friend! I know you sometimes read this blog, so I hope I don't totally ruin the surprise!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Christmas Stockings

I recently started knitting my baby a stocking for Christmas. I didn't have to look hard, I found an excellent pattern in Alison Isaacs book Holiday Knits. You can see my progress above. I knit after the baby eats as he dozes on my lap, and it works out pretty well. I am excited that this will be the only gift he gets from us for Christmas, as I know he will be completely and ridiculously spoiled by his other admirers.

I love having the stockings on our mantle at Christmas, and I always start getting excited for that season around this time of year when there's just the slightest hint of coolness in the air. The stockings I made for Mr. Pumpkin and I made out of a couple of old wool sweaters I got at the thrift store. I cut out the stocking shapes and sewed them together with contrasting yarn. Pretty simple, but cute. The baby's is going to be much cuter, though.

Anyway, if you're inspired to make a stocking or two, here are a bunch of cool patterns I found hunting around on the internet. There are about a million patterns out there, but I tried to keep the list to the ones I found the cutest. Enjoy!

Knit Stockings:
Striped Stocking
Boot Shaped Stocking
Knit Stocking with Baubles
Fisherman Stocking
1945 Stocking
Christmas Tree Sock Stocking
Felted Stocking
Mini Stocking
Berroco's "John", Felted Sean and Colleen Stockings

Crochet Stockings:
Basic Crochet Pattern
Granny Square Stocking
Hilarious Owl Wizard Stocking
John Deere Stocking

Sewn Stockings:
High-heeled Boot Stocking by flamgirlant on Craftster.
Melissa's DIY Felt Stocking
Quilted Stocking with Embroidered Names by folara on Craftster.
Necktie Stocking by gwensmom on Craftster.
Applique Stocking by Boffcat on Craftster.

Martha Stewart Stockings:
Sweater Stocking
Quilted stocking
Handkerchief stocking.

Stockings For the Furry Family Members:
Dog Paw Stocking

Monday, October 01, 2007

Not Such a Lazy Sunday

Sunday my sister and neices came to town and we were so productive! They made the baby his first baby food -- applesauce and cooked carrots -- and we froze the lot of it for when he's ready. We also made caramel apples and pretzels. AND, to top it all off I made chili. Wow, I need a day off! The caramel apples were good, but I sure wish I could find a better caramel variety than the Kraft (crap) they sell at the store. And I really hate unwrapping all those darn caramels.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Double Happiness

Today baby Pumpkin and I walked to the Salvation Army and picked up four things for about four bucks -- two for each of us. Of course he slept through most of it, tightly nustled against me in the Baby Bjorn, but I like to think he'll dig his new duds as much as I do. I also got a chance to try out the pacifier "catcher" that looks like a doggie that his aunt Seri got him. Works like a charm -- no pacifiers on the floor of the thrift store. Bonanza!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thinking about Thanksgiving

With the onset of the cooler weather, I inevitably start thinking about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because we always host it, and we always get an amazing assortment of family, friends and those six-degrees-of-separation types who come along with the former. I love to prepare the old favorites and try new dishes; my husband loves his rotisserie grilled whole turkey. And of course, everyone brings food, so I get to try lots of other people's favorites, too.

I have recently been reading this book to get inspiration. I tried the recipe for Rustic Apple Almond Tart (pictured) and it was one of the best desserts I've made in a long time. We picked the apples on a trip to Eplegaarden near Madison. Paired with some vanilla bean ice cream, this was such a hit.

I'm hoping to try some of the other recipes, like the Herbed Buttermilk Buscuits and the Acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, cranberries, walnuts and hickory-baked tofu. We'll see how the planning goes; after all, I've still got two full months to get the menu together.

With the rest of my apples, I'm going to try this recipe for applesauce. Maybe if the baby takes a nap tomorrow I can give it a whirl and post my results (if I don't eat them!).