Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mama Rosie's Buttons

It was a lovely Christmas. Joseph made me a wonderful birdhouse out of an olive oil tin. I'll post pictures soon. My Mom gave me a tin of buttons that were her Mom's, or Mama Rosie's, as we all called her. Because I've begun sewing, she thought I'd appreciate them. My grandfather, Angelo, had a small factory before the Depression. Afterwards, he worked as a tailor out of his & Mama Rosie's home. I remember as a child spending hours sewing buttons on fabric at their house, in the shapes of flowers, trees and such. It's been a treat looking and sorting through all the buttons. I like to think they'd be happy with my newfound interest.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

From our house to yours, wishing you a blessed and joyous holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Love & Peace & Christmas Trees

This day always encourages me, knowing that the daylight will be lengthening once again. Wishing all a Happy Solstice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Spirit

The Piedmont Biofuels crowd really knows how to throw a party. Their holiday potluck/party was last night, complete with some pretty outrageous karaoke. Good food, good cheer, great dancing. An excellent way to get in the holiday spirit. We've been sent some excellent cards this year, including the one on the right from Mark & Meredith of Whynot Pottery. I've been in cookie making mode. Yesterday's was Sparkly Cinnamon Coins, a recipe I got from Food & Wine several years back.

Sparkly Cinnamon Coins

2 sticks(1/2 lb) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
crystallized sugar for rolling (I've used both demerara & Sugar in the Raw with good results)

1. In large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar & beat until combined. Beat in cinnamon, salt & vanilla, then beat in flour. Divide the dough into thirds, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and shape into a 10" log, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one piece of dough. Sprinkle crystallized sugar into a 3-by-10 inch rectangle on a sheet of wax paper. Roll log in the sugar, pressing lightly. Cut log into 3/8 inch slices. Arrange coins about 1 inch apart on 1 of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining 2 logs of cookie dough. Bake the cookies for about 17 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on baking sheets.

I've had the best luck in getting the crystallized sugar to stay when I roll them prior to chilling, rather than after. This recipe always seems a bit on the dry side, and makes a pretty, crispy cookie. I'm thinking today's cookie is Crispy Gingerbread Stars. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

Sunday night, Joseph turned the water on, and all that came out was a trickle. Uh oh. After checking out the situation, he determined our well pump had bit the dust. Monday morning saw us hauling the pipe & pump out of the ground. I was able to keep up until he got about 175' out of the ground, at which point we had to call for reinforcements. That stuff is heavy! Once we got to the plumbing supply store, we found out he had a roller we could have borrowed to assist us. Live and learn. By 3:15 PM, we again had water. And boy, were we grateful for it. What a beautiful thing hot & cold running water is. We're lucky in that we have a cistern full of water, so we were able to wash up and such. But nothing beats a hot shower!

My dearest friend, Teresa, shared a cookie recipe with me years ago that I make every Christmas. They're Crispy Oatmeal cookies, and just wonderful. I do love a crispy cookie! Try them for yourself:

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup oats (quick or regular)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter. Gradually add sugars, beating well at medium speed. Add egg, orange rind and vanilla, mixing well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl, & add to mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats and pecans. Divide dough in half. Spoon each half onto a large piece of waxpaper & shape into a 10" log. Roll in wax paper and freeze. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350. Cut dough in 1/4" slices (no larger) and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute, then loosen with spatula.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trees for the Future

Joseph & I got a dozen trees planted today. We finally got our order from Arbor Day Foundation, & needed to get them in the ground. There are 4 different cherries, some sweet & some sour. Also 2 plum, peach, butternut, redbud, hawthorne & red maple (a freebie). It's a cold & drizzly day, so we were in need of some warming up when we were done. I made a pot of Candy Bar Hot Chocolate. I found the recipe recently on Four Green Acres. This stuff is rich. I've got to put some half & half in mine to thin it, but hey, I used 2% milk in the recipe & didn't use the whipping cream. Hopefully, it balances out! I did the Holiday Hoopla show yesterday, which was not as well attended as hoped, but still worth doing. The second picture is of my lovely sister, Vicki, who kept me company for a good part of the show. Thanks, sis!

Candy Bar Hot Chocolate

2 egg yolks
2 oz of bar chocolate, chunked
1 cup of milk
whipping cream (optional)
Ghirardelli ground chocolate (optional)

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl.

Place chocolate and milk in pot.Heat & stir with whisk until chocolate is melted, or put in microwave in glass measuring cup at 70% power for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking once, until chocolate is melted. Whisk well.

Slowly pour the milk into the beaten egg yolks, whisking constantly. Heat on the stove, or return to the microwave for a minute.

There will be some eggy bits, which you can strain with cheesecloth if preferred. Garnish with whipped cream & a sprinkle of chocolate if desired. This recipe is for one serving; multiply as needed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Morning Kitty

Today is my last full day at home before the Hoopla. The weather is still iffy. All I can do is act as if. Last night, I started sewing some small bags to hold my soaps & other small treasures. I also got a package with some webbing I'd been waiting on, and made my first bag with a new fabric. My kitty, Sage, is especially loving in the mornings. She and the other two cats wandered about with me in the garden this morning.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Show Time

The house has been crammed with bolts of cloth, the sewing machine has taken up residence on the kitchen table, & assorted flotsam of the creative process are everywhere. Thank goodness Joseph is an understanding guy. I've been preparing for Holiday Hoopla. I've had lots of learning curves, never having done any real sewing. But, it's been lots of fun seeing ideas take form. Yesterday, I played with the table display. Little signs for the various products were made last night. My Mom & sister are baking some goodies that I'll have in my booth. The weather is looking more & more iffy, with a 60-90% chance of rain or snow, depending on the source. So, there's a good chance my house will be in upheavel another week. Here's a picture of one of the tables, and the bags I've been working on.