Friday, November 25, 2011

Makin' Thanksgiving dinner

Dear Shayne,

Every year, Bill and I make a complete Thanksgiving dinner just for the two of us. Then we eat leftovers for a week -- it's fantastic! This year, I snapped photos of the food we made all day. Want to see? I knew you would.

For appetizers, we had...

Deviled Eggs:
Thanksgiving: Deviled Eggs
This is the only way I eat eggs. And it has got to be my grandmother's recipe. It's spicy and delicious: mayo, creamy horseradish, dry mustard, onions, salt, and white pepper. Sprinkle with paprika. Fabulous.

Crab dip:
Thanksgiving: Crab Dip
This recipe is so easy, I once worked with a woman who said, "I make it in the car on the way to the party!" I wouldn't go quite that far, but it really is easy:

Mix together 1 package of cream cheese + 1 can of drained crab meat and form it into a brick or a ball or a square or however you want to display it. Slather it with cocktail sauce, put some Triscuits on the tray, and then move out of the way because a stampede of party-goers will mow you down for it. (Thanks to my mom for this recipe!)

Thanksgiving: Meatballs
This one is a tradition from Bill's family. Nice at a party because you can keep 'em hot in the crockpot. The recipe is straight out of the 60s and still tastes great.

The sauce is, improbably, 1 jar of grape jelly + 1 jar of chili sauce. Sounds horrible, but tastes amazing and makes the house smell fantastic.

While eating appetizers, Bill put the bird on the grill:
Thanksgiving: Turkey on the grill

Bill brines the bird using this recipe, and then bastes the heck out of it with chicken stock, butter, and white white while it's grilling. It's out there for a few hours and comes in moist and delicious!

While the turkey's a'grillin, we make the sides...

Garlic carrots:
Thanksgiving: Garlic Carrots
This recipe from my grandma and is as delicious as it is easy: steam the carrots, then sauté chopped garlic (the original recipe calls for butter, but I use olive oil -- just as good and better for you!)

Then combine the garlic and the carrots and mmmm! (Added bonus: no vampires.)

Green bean casserole:
Thanksgiving: Green Bean Casserole
This stuff grosses me out, but Bill loves it, so here it is. The recipe is straight off the back of the can of fried onions... I suspect that this one dish is single-handedly keeping that item in production. What else are they used for?

Thanksgiving: Stuffing
I am not really a stuffing eater, so I usually just make Stove Top for Bill. But I saw this recipe last week and thought, "If ever there was a stuffing I will like, it's this one!" So I made it. It seemed really promising: pumpkin bread, corn bread, cranberries, sausage. Mmm!

But I still wasn't wild about it. I think... I am just not a stuffing eater. And Bill didn't love it, either, so we're back to Stove Top next year (as it's also about 1000x easier!) I think that recipe would be fantastic for anyone who likes stuffing. I just... don't.

Hrm... did not get a photo of my mashed potatoes. Guess I was too busy stuffing my face!

I also missed the photo opportunity of the perfect bird coming in from the grill. By the time I turned around to take it, Bill was already this far along:

Thanksgiving: Bird carvin'

The house smelled so good, I think we were just anxious to EAT!

Here is my plate on the table:
Thanksgiving: Dinner!
(Note to self: Get a couple of plain white plates for food photos... every photo I take of my food has a giant tomato in the middle!)

And, finally...

Pumpkin Pie:
Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie

Which, as you can see, is really just a vehicle for whipped cream...

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New quilt for Kaesea

Dear Shayne,

A couple of years ago, I made this quilt for Kaesea. It's been great -- it stays on the foot of our bed, on top of a heating pad (bonus!) and makes a great gushy-food placemat (rather than having that all over the duvet cover). Also, it looks nice with our mostly-blue duvet covers.

Recently, we got a new duvet cover that didn't quite match the old quilt. You know I don't need much of an excuse to make a quilt, so I took this opportunity to whip one up.

The new duvet cover has beiges, browns, and greys, so it's a neutral roundup. I like stripes, so this was my first design:
Kaesea's quilt: Original plan

Once I saw that together, I decided I wanted something a bit more harmonious, so I cut more strips and laid them out in a sort of a tonal gradient. I laid them out on the couch so that I could re-visit them and verify the order.

When I returned, I found this:
Kaesea's quilt: Design approval

  1. Kaesea pre-approves his quilt.
  2. The new quilt perfectly matches Kaesea's fur. As I have mentioned before on his blog, his back is becoming light brown in his old age (he used to be dark grey, and still is on his head). As you can see, Kaesea has actually arranged himself to match the stripes on his quilt here. Hilarious.

So I decided to make it two-sided -- one side is the original random stripes and the other side is the tonal gradient. It's nice to be able to mix it up!

Kaesea's quilt: Gradient side

And here's a shot of it on the bed, showing how nicely it matches the duvet cover:
Kaesea's quilt, in situ

And, most importantly, here is Kaesea, enjoying his new quilt:
Kaesea quilt: Final approval

Love that cat.


QIP: Choosing a binding fabric

Dear Shayne,

Do you remember the quilt-in-progress I posted about waaay back in September? (Started here, found a big problem that needed fixing here, then promptly dropped off the face of the blog...)

I fixed that blocks-too-dark problem, but then failed to take a photo of it before sending it off to the quilter. It's going to be ready any day now, so I'll post when I get it back. In the meantime, here's a little story about binding.

(Gosh, that sounds boring... but this is a craft blog, after all.)

I usually like a stripe-y binding, but I couldn't seem to find one in the right colors for this quilt. I used a polka-dot binding for my cousin's quilt and I really liked that, so when I saw these cute dots, I thought I was onto something:

However, I didn't have the fabrics from the quilt with me when I found this at the shop, so I wasn't 100% sure if it would match.

But then I noticed the name of the fabric pattern:

As I mentioned before, I bought the main fabric for this quilt because it reminded me of our little cat Biscuit's fur (Wow. I cannot believe it's been 6 months since he passed away. We still miss that little kitty every day.)

Sorry... getting all Debbie Downer there, but my point is that this is a quilt that commemorates a cat and the fabric is called "Cat Walk." So I bought it.

Got it home, put it next to some blocks I already had finished and... voila!

Looks great! Stay tuned for photos of the finished quilt...


Monday, November 21, 2011

Your mitts: Need your opinion

Dear Shayne,

When we were together last year, you bought some yarn for me to make you some fingerless mitts. I'm finally getting around to it (mostly because you told me that you're cold...) I've completed one, but I need some help deciding what to do for the second one.

Here's the first one:

(Gorgeous, right?)

Sooo... here's the problem: This yarn is a very slow striping yarn. As you can see from that mitt, I only covered 4 colors in just 1 mitt. Here is the remaining ball of yarn:

I am pulling from the middle, so I am going to be knitting the blue and green yarn you see around the center very soon.

Sooo... here are the options:

1. Press on. This will probably result in the next mitt being pink, green, and blue (with the same plum-y thumb as the first mitt, because I knit the thumbs before I started anything else).

2. Skip the blue and green and go to the colors that are similar to the first mitt (pink, orange, red, purple). The mitts will not be identical to one another, but they will be closer to the same "family" of colors.

I love all of these colors together, but when used on such a small project, it really divides up the colors into chunks. Sooo... do you want 2 totally mismatched mitts (the one above + a blue and green one) OR do you want me to do some color finagling to get them close to one another?

Let me know ASAP so I can send these off to you and keep your paws warm!


PS - Have I mentioned lately how I hate the new Blogger interface? Just sayin'.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Woven scarf for Kate

Dear Shayne,

Despite my lack of posting lately, I have been making stuff. Including this woven scarf for my cousin-in-law, Kate. I'm not 100% sure that these purple-y brown colors are her bag, but she's always so warmly appreciative of handmade gifts -- she's the best kind of person to make stuff for!
Woven scarf for Kate
I bought the yarn at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, but I cannot find the ball band right now, so I'm not sure of the brand/fiber/colorway. When I stumble across it later, I'll update the post. For now I'll tell you that it felt great and made a lovely fabric -- I love the color variegation:
Woven scarf for Kate [detail]


Friday, November 18, 2011


Dear Shayne,

You know what this blog needs? Some content! Fortunately, my parents gave me a gift last week that fits the bill -- qiviut!

What is qiviut, you say? (I mean, besides a word that begins with "q" that does not have a "u" immediately following it...) It is super-soft, super-strong, super luxurious yarn (think cashmere, but even better) that comes, improbably, from musk ox. (Want more details? Wikipedia can help ya out...)

Along with an amazingly generous 400+ yards of qiviut (this stuff is like spun gold), they also gave me this great book called Arctic Lace, both purchased on their recent trip to Alaska (which sounds really cool -- have you ever been there?) The book is fascinating -- not only does it include many patterns and ideas for working with qiviut, but there is also a lot of history and cultural information about the native people of Alaska. Really great stuff.

What's the occasion? Oh, my birthday. Which isn't, technically, for another 5 weeks or so, but my mom was practically vibrating with excitement about giving me this yarn, so who am I to object -- you want to throw luxury yarn my way? Go for it!


PS - The new Blogger interface bites. The Preview is vastly improved, but working on the post is an absolute pain in the behind.