Monday, May 31, 2010

Garden Strawberry Jam

I recently made two batches of strawberry jam with strawberries that came from our garden. A couple of years ago we received some strawberry plants from Steph and her DH which Keith planted in our garden. Since then they've multiplied and even started popping up outside of the rock bed.

This year the plants have produced plenty of strawberries for eating, plus enough to make two batches of jam.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sewing for Mommy and Baby

I wanted to make a special baby shower gift for Esme and I was fortunate enough to find this sweet little dress pattern online from Lelia and Ben. I loved sewing this pattern! The directions were easy to understand, and the dress was so simple to sew. The best part of the pattern is that the sizes ranged from 12 months to 5t so I can make another one for my niece who needs a different size!

I had enough fabric left over to make a matching top for Esme. I found a simplicity pattern that looked similar to the Lelia and Ben dress. What mom and daughter wouldn't want a matching top and dress? Back in the day when I was little, my mom used to make us  matching dresses, and occasionally my sisters and I wore matching clothes too. So what a better opportunity then this to bring back a little old-fashion tradition of matching mommy and daughter apparel.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Violin Recital in a Yurt

Last night we attended Mac's violin recital which took place in a yurt near Griffy Lake. It was an awesome place to have a recital. The yurt was more modern then traditional -- a permanent structure with hardwood walls and lots of windows. It was a beautiful setting that provided wonderful acoustics for the young violinists.

videos taken by Ethan

Concertino 3.........George Perlman

Hungarian Dance #5........Johannes Brahms

Taken inside the yurt, students and audience wait for recital to begin.

Mac's violin teacher is accompanying him for Hungarian Dance

 Students take a final bow.

Mac's violin teacher with her 6 month old baby, Zinnia.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stinkhorn in my Garden!

 Guest post by Keith

The soggy spring has been mostly good for our garden, and especially good for woodland mushrooms. Here's one we haven't seen before: the dog stinkhorn (/Mutinus elegans/). As the name suggests, this critter gives off a strong, fetid odor. I could smell it long before I spotted this phallic-shaped fungus growing under our blackberry bushes. Mac thought some dog had pooped on it, but the oozing brown slime is how the fruiting body releases its spores. Flies are attracted to stinkhorns and their spore-slime, and thus are duped into carrying away spores as they search in vain for tasty dog poop. Stinkhorns belong to a family of mushrooms known as Phallaceae. It is unclear what other male anatomical parts were considered by taxonomists before deciding on this particular label.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Baby Shower Tea Party

Yesterday was  bittersweet as Steph and I hosted what was probably our last tea party together. The tea party was to honor and welcome our friend Esme's newly adopted daughter, Tessa. It was a lovely afternoon spent in the company of some wonderful women and the adoring Miss Tessa. Even her grandmothers and  auntie traveled from other states to be there!

It was also the last opportunity for me to see Steph for a while as she leaves at end of the week for Portland, her new home. I will never forget the fun that she and I have spent my kitchen, over the last few years, preparing for tea parties. I don't know how I will ever be able to host a tea party again as it will not be the same without her.

Tessa's welcome tea party was even more special because of the extra time Steph and I spent together preparing for it. We had a couple lunch meetings, we spent time shopping together, making and mailing invitations, and lots of time in the kitchen -- all filled with plenty of conversation and laughter. (Especially laughing at our baking disasters. Mine involved the dog eating all the tartlet shells that were cooling on the counter while we were away at piano lessons.)

The menu we came up with for Tessa's tea was simple as compared to other teas we've done, and it seemed like less work since we also had some help from friends.

We started with tea sandwiches: cucumber dill, chicken salad, and goat cheese-smoked salmon.
 The sandwiches were followed by apricot-oat scones. These were made by Steph, and were so delicious! They had a layer of brown sugar in the middle - yum! Check her blog for the recipe that she promises to eventually post. We served these with homemade devonshire cream and homemade apricot jam.

For the desserts I made cupcakes and a small cake for Tessa. Her birthday is in a couple of days so I wanted to make a "take home" cake for her birthday celebration. The cake and cupcakes were vanilla, filled with raspberry cream. I made the cream with fresh raspberries and heavy whipping cream. I also used a little raspberry jam in between the layers and inside the cupcakes.
The colors we were using for the shower were pink and red so I went with a ladybug theme.
Along with the cupcakes we served lemon-raspberry tartlets (the second batch after the Pongo incident) and chocolate covered strawberries. I made the tartlet filling with homemade lemon curd and cream cheese. Our friend, Heather was kind enough to make the beautiful chocolate covered strawberries.

Steph also made a yummy punch that was served in this pretty punch bowl and glasses, which I inherited from her as part of her moving purge -- again, bittersweet!
Also as part of the red and pink color scheme, we made up flower bouquets from pink peonies, and red Gerber daisies. The peonies came from our yards, as well as from a friend's yard, who so kindly contributed the most of the pink ones. We placed the bouquets in decorative Chinese take-out boxes to incorporate a little bit of China into our party.

For party favors Steph and I also sewed these bookmarks using Asian fabrics that we found at our local craft/fabric store. We finished them off with a ladybug button.

A special thank you to my sister who helped us with the invitations.  She has masted PhotoShop and worked her magic putting Tessa in a teacup (see above picture) as part of our invitation design.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tennis Annyone?

Tennis cupcakes for a going-away party

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spring Piano Recital

Minuet in G Major from Klavier Suite in G minor, BWV 822........J.S. Bach

Mac: Cradle Song................................................C.M.von Weber

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sewing for Summer

I recently made this cute little sundress for a friend's daughter. I really liked this fabric that I found at Hobby Lobby; thank goodness for their 40% off coupons! The pattern for the dress is from Simplicity, #2469. The instructions were easy to understand, and the dress was a lot of fun to make. The purse is my own made-up pattern; it's lined with a zipper.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Birthday Cake for Two

I had the pleasure of making this birthday cake for my favorite five-year-old and her friend. The request from the five-year-old was a big vanilla cake with lots of flowers and butterflies. The "big vanilla cake" was filled with chocolate mousse, at the request of the five-year-old's mom. Good choice!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thinking of my Aunt

Last summer my Aunt Mary thoughtfully bought me this beautiful teacup fabric while we were in Door County, Wisconsin on a family vacation. It was a very special gift then, but became even more meaningful after she died unexpectedly this past Christmas.

My aunt knew how much I liked pretty tea things. She even passed along a few miscellaneous plates and bowls that once belonged to my grandmother, and that I use regularly when having or serving tea.

My aunt and I shared a common love for sewing, and crafting. Each time I would visit she was always in the middle of refinishing a piece of furniture, or some big needlework project. I would always look forward to seeing what she was working on. The last time I was at her house, she showed me a collection of furniture, chairs and a dresser, in her basement that she had refinished. They were painted mostly blue with other bright accent colors, and were very eclectic looking. Her talent never ceased to amaze me, she was one of the most creative people that I've known.

I had been holding on to the fabric for a while, and after my aunt died, I felt a strong desire to make something with it. Many things crossed my mind but I only had 1/2 of a yard of two different fabric patterns so my options were limited. I finally decided that I had enough fabric to make a patchwork table runner. I found some coordinating purple floral fabric, at my local fabric store, to use as the border . I did not have a pattern, and decided to cut 7 x 9 inch pieces out of the tea fabric, and 3 1/2 x 9 inch pieces of the floral to go in between. The floral sides and back are all one piece about 20 inches wide by 62 inches long.

I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, and I think if my aunt could see it she would be too. I have a little fabric leftover, and when I get a chance I think I'll make a matching tea cozy. Thank you Aunt Mary for giving me such a happy memory of you.