Sunday, November 29, 2009

... the aquarium

sea life

i have been looking for an excuse to go to the remodeled seattle aquarium for years, but it's kind of hard to when you're an adult. but when you have kids coming to stay with you for the long holiday weekend, and you're desperate for things to occupy their time, it's the perfect excuse!

hand

you wouldn't believe how lovely and amazing everything was. or maybe you would. i'm too squeamish to touch the anemones and sea cucumbers, but the kids certainly aren't.

sea urchins

sea urchins are so cool. when you stick a finger into the spines they "taste" your skin. neat!

octopus

i am simultaneously fascinated and creeped out by the octopus. i mean, look at that eye. [shiver]

diver

we watched lots of things being fed. the diver in the tank feeding the fish. the feeding of the seals and the otters. the otters are the best. so good in fact, i couldn't bear to stop watching to take pictures. how can you blame me?

sea stars

what a lovely day. the kids loved it almost as much as i did.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

... thanksgiving weekend

thanksgiving table

i truly love thanksgiving. i might even go so far as to say it's my favorite holiday (even though by the time christmas comes along i will probably vow that christmas is my favorite holiday--i am so suggestible).

thanksgiving kitchen

but the food! the family! i suppose for me it's an excuse to spend all day in the kitchen. and an excuse to eat pumpkin pie. and apple pie. and mashed potatoes.

kids

even when my niece and nephew squabble at the table, i am still thankful that they are my family and we get to spend the day together. no wait, not just the day... the entire weekend!

horses

friday we got to go out to my aunt's new farm in rainier and see her horses and her beautiful property.

horse & olivia

the kids really loved the horses.

moon

the moon was so beautiful rising through the trees.

farm mist

and the way the mist settled in over the pastures at dusk was so beautiful, this picture just doesn't even do it justice. but trust me, so utterly beautiful i thought for a moment that i should up and move out to a farm. but with sheep. and chickens. and goats. and definitely a lot of manure. seriously, i love the smell of manure. so comforting. sigh.

barn

and just wait until you see what we did together on saturday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

... mexican hot chocolate

mexican chocolate

i love all things seƱor moose, but right now what i am really loving is the mexican hot chocolate, which i believe is a new addition to the menu (or one i had simply never noticed before).

but the thing is, i don't order it. c does. and then when he's done with it, and there's nothing but the dregs, which is really a big sludgy chocolate-fest at the bottom of his mug, i fill it up with coffee and cream from my cup and stir, which makes for the most delicious concoction ever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

... brunch with friends

table

when good friends you haven't seen in months (months!) invite you over for brunch, you go. no question. i seriously love this group of friends, who i usually see during our summer croquet season but, since it's been typically cold and rainy, seattle-style, i haven't seen in ages.

toast with dutch sprinkles

but all is mended over a lovely brunch with delicious coffee, baked eggs, scones, and freshly baked bread topped with dutch sprinkles (no joke).

sprinkles (from holland!)

noah & esther

and did i mention babies who have nearly doubled in size since i saw them last? gah!

coffee

what a perfect way to spend a grey, rainy sunday morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

... another finished quilt top

red letter day plus-sign quilt

yay, i finally finished piecing my red letter day quilt! i'm super pleased with how it turned out (though a little less pleased with the quality of my photos in this less-than-optimal winter light).

red letter day plus-sign quilt

regardless, this quilt brings me nothing but happiness. i will be even more happy when i actually quilt it, which will happen soon because i finally ordered the walking foot i need and have some batting and have been practicing quilting!

red letter day plus-sign quilt

soon, very soon, i hope, i will be able to post photos of actual, finished quilts here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

... our garden in autumn

paperbark maple with crow

one of the best things about having a garden is always having something to look forward to. when the witch hazel replace their spidery flowers with leaf buds the daffodils begin to pop up, when the daffodils start to fade the tulips are in full bloom, when the tulips die back the poppies are starting to unfurl, when the poppies start dropping petals the coreopsis open their sunny little blooms, and when the coreopsis wither the beautyberry send out their shiny purple berries. so much goodness!

himalayan honeysuckle

even still, in mid-november, there's so much to admire in the garden. even though it's not in its full summer lushness, there are still pretty little dots of color, small flowers, and fiery red maple leaves clinging to the branches.

sunny yellow flowers

tree mallow

hydrangea

can you believe this hydrangea is still going? they don't call it endless summer for nothing.

hot lips sage

beautyberry profusion

and while i'm fully appreciating what's going on out there right now, i can't help but get excited about the hellebore that should be flowering in the next couple of months.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

... my simple yet effective shawl

simple yet effective shawl

yay for more knitting! the majority of this was worked while i loafed on the sofa and watched the best bbc miniseries ever, "cranford". (oh, cranford, how i love you!) admittedly, i finished this a couple of weeks ago, but i was too lazy to block it until a few days ago (blocking! i shake my fist at you!), and then too lazy to take pictures of it until today.

simple yet effective shawl

it's really more of a mini-shawl, and it almost looks a bit like a kerchief or a bandana if i tie it, but i think that just adds to its cuteness. i loved knitting it and watching it take shape with some simple yarn-overs in a few strategic places. the yarn is ok, maybe not what i would have initially picked had i known the effect that would turn out with the colors (i had hoped for more continuous colors rather than the patchy effect that occurred here), but it's been growing on me the last few weeks and now i like it just the way it is.

simple yet effective shawl

now, what to wear it with besides stripes, stripes, and more stripes?!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

... sunday morning muffins

apple sour cream muffins

perfect sunday morning: tea, boxing class, hot shower, tea, baking something for breakfast, sunday times crossword (most of which, i must say, i am unable to solve, though it's fun to try), tea, tea and tea.

i saw the recipe for these apple sour cream muffins online (via amazon's al dente blog) and knew i had to make them. i mean, come on: apples, sour cream, cinnamon... yum! i made mine with some honeycrisps i had in the fruit basket. i didn't have enough pecans on hand, so i made half with and half without nuts. both kinds were tremendously good.

apple sour cream muffins

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

... more more more more more fabric

fabric-package

thanks to sew, mama, sew!

fabric-stack

many of these were on sale. but many just caught my eye because... hi, hello lovelies!

love-fabric

and i was totally sold on the new amy butler love range by this great fat quarter bundle. i just love those blues and those greens together.

now, perhaps tomorrow i can get my act together and actually do some sewing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

... pumpkin cookies

pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing

actually, pumpkin* anything is okay by me. but these cookies sure are fabulous. super moist and cakey, but the brown butter icing is what pushes them over the edge into fantastic.

pumpkin cookie with brown butter icing

fortunately you can find the recipe online at martha stewart.

* whenever i type pumpkin i accidently add a y making it "pumpking." totally an accident, and yet i kind of want to call these "pumpking cookies."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

... maple-honey-oatmeal scones

oatmeal scones

sometimes i like to break out of my old habits and do things a little differently. you'd think that, if i was going to make scones, i'd just go with my old standby. but not this time! this morning, when flipping through my cookbooks for some inspiration (and for something that could make with what i had on hand), i came across a recipe for maple-oatmeal scones in the barefoot contessa cookbook. unfortunately i didn't have enough maple syrup on hand, so i had to sub in some honey. these would probably be good with just the maple syrup, but they were quite tasty with that bit of honey, too. i also switched things up a bit from the original recipe enough that i feel okay posting my own version here. as you can see, i felt it necessary to brush them with heavy cream and sprinkle them with sugar (i'm currently in love with vanilla sugar, which goes on and in everything)--you can't go wrong there!

oatmeal scone with butter shadow

the only problem i had with these is that they seemed just a little too buttery for me. is it possible for something to be too buttery? actually, yes. when the butter starts seeping out the sides and bubbling up around the scones while they're baking, then they might be too buttery. next time i might try cutting the butter a bit.

otherwise, they were super tasty, just sweet enough, flaky and satisfying.

maple-honey-oatmeal scones
adapted from the barefoot contessa's maple-oatmeal scones

yield: 8 large scones

ingredients
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks)* cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup cold buttermilk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

for brushing scones:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vanilla sugar (or sanding sugar)
small handful rolled oats

1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. in a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. blend the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, honey, and eggs, and add quickly to the flour-butter mixture. mix until just blended (don't overmix).

3. form the dough into a large ball, and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. pat dough into a large disc, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick (roughly 12-inch diameter). you will see lumps of butter in the dough. with a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with extra rolled oats and vanilla sugar. bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.

* as i noted above, i think there was a little too much butter in these, so next time i might try using just 1 1/2 sticks instead of the 2 called for. not sure if this would require a little more buttermilk. if you try this, let me know!

oatmeal scones

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

... the red letter day collection

red letter day fabrics

ever since i first saw it, i've been love with the red letter day collection. those ducks! those ribbons! those stripes! those colors! they struck a chord with me and i couldn't get them out of my head. i've been hoarding a whole bunch of them for a few months now, but wasn't sure how to best do them justice.

red letter day quilt planning

at the same time, i've also been totally enamored with plus-sign quilts (or cross quilts, if you want to look at it that way), but hadn't decided on the right fabrics for that project. and then one night last week, in that weird state between being awake and asleep, i realized that the red letter day prints would be absolutely perfect in a plus-sign quilt. perfect, i tell you! my two coming together in one oh-so-satisfying reality!

red letter day plus-sign quilt

so yesterday i just got right into it and started cutting and laying out the fabrics (after some basic planning, of course). this is only preliminary stuff with a few of the fabrics cut so far, but i'm really excited to see it come together.

red letter day quilt planning