Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A is for Apple

Fall is my favorite season.  
I love fall crisp apples fresh from the tree; pumpkins, squash, gourds;
 crunchy red leaves underfoot;

and lots of black-eyed Susan's and lemon balm in my garden (and sometimes on my cakes.  They're organic).


I always make this yummy apple dip when the first new apples are available.  It has a hint of maple syrup and just a touch of brown sugar.  And who doesn't love cream cheese?

Is it healthy?  Of course not, but who cares!?!  It's dessert.  

When my girls were little, I used to pack single portions of the dip in little disposable condiment cups with lids (like ketchup comes in), then I tossed sliced apples in ascorbic acid (Fruit Fresh in the USA) to keep them from going brown and put them in plastic baggies.  Then into the girls lunch boxes it all went. Rumor had it that their apples and dip could be traded for anything in the lunchroom.  I don't think my girls traded much though.  That dip was just too good to trade for anything!  
It's still a big hit at our house.

Fall Apple Dip

8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup

Mix cream cheese until smooth.
Add the sugars and maple syrup and blend.

Whip in the cream just until the dip is creamy and smooth.

Serve cold with crisp fall apple slices.

This makes about 1 1/2 cups of dip.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Warm cereal for cold mornings

I love to breakfast on steel-cut oats and long cooking multi-grain hot cereals on cool mornings. But they have a long cooking time and are not convenient when everyone is trying to get out the door on an early schedule.

This technique will solve the time-crunch problem on busy fall and winter mornings.  My friends Cindy from my knitting group and Becky from Vintage Mixer both use a similar method to make oatmeal.  I adapted the short cut instructions on the back of the McCann's Steel Cut Oats can.

Here's what you do:

The night before you want to serve the oats:

Measure out 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil.  I like to add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.  Add 1/4 cup of cereal and stir in. Let the cereal cook for 4-5 minutes.  I like my oatmeal creamy so I simmered mine for 7 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and refrigerate the mixture overnight. In the morning,  remove the oatmeal and either heat it in the same pot or heat it in the microwave.   This makes one generous individual serving.  I make two servings for B and I.
We  put the oatmeal in our bowls, sprinkled some brown sugar, spooned on some applesauce and a few chopped roasted pecans and then topped it with a dollop of cream.  We were inspired by Das Cafe's 5 grain oatmeal.   You could cook the cereal with milk or almond milk instead of water, and serve it with fresh fruit. Add some honey or agave... whatever you like.
This is so good and easy on a busy morning.
Try it and experiment with your own version.  You can't go wrong.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Wedding Dress

 There's going to be a wedding.
And this is what I've been doing this week instead of posting on my blog.

Abby bought a dress that was strapless (on sale).  She wanted one with a princess neckline and sleeves.  So a week later, I have taken the dress apart and remade it with a bodice (it will also have sleeves when I am finished with it).  The lining is altered, a new longer zipper's in place, the neckline was marked for the scalloped lace and cut out and the dress is ready to be joined to the lining.

All that's left are the sleeves and the bustle tape so Abby can dance with Patrick at her wedding.
Oh wait, on second thought...there may be some hand sewn embellishments later. And possibly a long row of tiny hand -covered buttons (just for show) up the back and some hand made loops on the sides and back so the 2-inch satin sash will stay in place. And did I mention that Abby is a teeny tiny bit of a thing, around 5 feet tall, so the hem will need to be taken up but that's a piece-of-cake after remaking the dress.

I'm in the home stretch and it feels good.  It's always a bit dangerous to undertake and make such severe changes on something so expensive and important as someone else's wedding dress, even if she a really really good friend.  Even if I think of her almost as another of my daughters.  Abby was blessed when the original dress designer gifted us some of the same fabric and lace.  Wow...he's amazingly nice. There is no way I could have found fabric or lace to match.  NO WAY.  The dress would have looked homemade and altered and not good at all without the same lace and fabric.

All this has been going on while the rest of the house looks like this....5 rooms of "like this".

I stuffed towels around the sewing room door and the dress is covered in plastic while I'm not working on it. The sewing room doesn't normally look like a bomb went off in there but there is overflow right now from other rooms that are being worked on.  I managed to clear out a good portion of it so I could work.
There's not much worse than plaster dust all over the house while trying to sew a wedding dress..
It might take a few months to wipe down the whole house.  There is dust everywhere!!!!!!!  The painters assure me they will be done by the holidays.

I'm hoping they mean the Halloween holidays. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Off the needles...finally!

Church mouse yarns and teas Wee ones Baby Wrap sweater

I liked this quick knit, and I would categorize it as EASY.  I changed up the yarns a bit.  I used Koigu variegated yarn and Blue Sky Alpaca yarn and turned it "inside out" so the stripey look was integrated and less stripey.  I also used the pink Blue Sky yarn for the tie and ruffle.  I didn't like the bulk of the tie going all the baby around baby's back so I added a snap to the underside to hold the left side wrap down and just added the tie to the one side.

It was a bit boring knitting all the garter stitch ridges but I now have another project for the "hope chest".

Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm still here...just busy. Wallpaper, paint, and repairs.

 It started with me doing this...to the living room, the entry staircase, the upstairs hall, and the dining room.
Almost twenty years ago we had wall paper installed and I was ready for a change.
One paper steamer and a lot of vinegar/water and elbow grease in essentially what is 4 separate rooms and I was ready for the painters to work their magic.
 Most of the furniture went to the garage and the family room; dishes and sets of crystal into boxes...do I really have that much dinnerware?  Yep, seems the sideboard holds A LOT and that necessitated a trip to the second hand store to donate some of those accumulated items. 
Some help from Brooke, Nate, and Abby with last minute stripping paper and moving the heavy pieces which were the table and the sideboard in the dining room...
 and the grand piano in the living room...
the family room got the miscellaneous stuff like the paintings, the piano bench, assorted side tables and chairs, and the draperies.
The painter assures me he'll be finished by the holidays; Halloween, not Thanksgiving.  Thank goodness.
So I'm still here, just not "here" on the blog much.  Oh, and did I mention I'm knee deep in remaking a wedding dress for a dear friend?  See you soon (I hope).