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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Banana Cinnamon Muffins

While visiting my parents in New Mexico, I got the amazing opportunity to cook in their beautiful kitchen.

My fiance woke up early one morning while we were there and went to climb a mountain! So I decided to make some fresh banana cinnamon muffins to be ready by the time he made it back.

The more ripe the bananas, the better for cooking. The really ripe bananas create a flavor that almost reminds me of caramel.

Once in the muffin tins, sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top.

These little muffins are so delightful, this is one of my favorite recipes. They are very refreshing and relatively light (so you can eat 2!)

Best with coffee or milk... yumm!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gingerbread Men

I've been basking in the holiday spirit lately and I got the fun idea of making gingerbread men!

I used a recipe from my 1934 cookbook for "gingerbread" and about halfway through mixing the ingredients I got a bit confused. I couldn't help wondering how the things listed would make a cookie dough. Finally (and just in time) I realized it was, in fact, a recipe for ginger bread, not gingerbread cookies! With a bit of tweaking I managed to salvage the recipe and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

Due to the surprisingly difficult task of finding a gingerbread man cookie cutter, I ended up purchasing a pre-mixed gingerbread cookie mix that came with a cutter. I whipped this up as well, just in case my home made mixture turned out terrible.

Here are the cut outs from the pre-made mix. All you had to do was cream the butter and add a whipped egg. Then chill for an hour and roll out. The dough was very easy to handle, roll, and cut.

Here are the cutouts from the home made batch. I went a little overboard with the molasses... the dough was VERY sticky and I had to use a lot of flour to roll it out. You can see how much darker they are than the other batch.

Here are the little guys - yummy! I sprinkled some coarse sugar on top of some.

I really liked both batches. The pre-mix was much sweeter, it tasted like a mixture between sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie. The home made batch had a bit of a spice kick to it.

These little cookies were great to give as gifts, they wrap up very nicely.

A day or two after baking, they are a little crunchy and taste wonderful with coffee or tea.

These were so much fun, I'd like to do it over again and maybe make some sugar cookies as well. What are you doing to celebrate the holidays?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I can't hetp it, I'm just a sucker for all things christmas so when it finally comes time to trim the tree, it still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Growing up, we always had a fake tree which was great b/c we could set it up way before christmas and enjoy for even longer. My fiance, however, has insisted on a real tree. Last year we went out to a cute little tree farm and he cut it down and everything! This year we just got this fir from a nursery.
After a delicious dinner, Kelly, Nic, Brent, and I put all the trimmings on the tree!

Pierre was sleepy, but clearly in the hoilday spirit.

Brent is finding just the right spot.

Voila! It is so lovely! Now we just need to put more presents underneath.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dog Sweater Take 2

On my quest for the perfect dog sweater knitting pattern, I stumbled across this:
Snowflake Dog Sweater

It is knitted in two pieces and then sewn together, leaving a space for each armhole. I decided on green and white, mainly because I'm trying to use up my scraps of old yarn.

The snowflakes are created in a sort of intarsia (or would it be fair isle?) knitting. It is easier than you would think because you can carry the colors from side to side instead of using small bobbins (which always complicated things for me).

I altered the pattern a bit because Pierre is a tiny little guy but it was still a bit too big once knitted. I ended up taking it in a lot when sewing the pieces together which would bother me if it was a sweater that I was wearing but, well, Pierre is a dog so he can deal with it I think!

The finished piece, I love the snowflake pattern!

The underside view, I like the lone star. You can see where I had to repeatedly take it in.

Isn't he handsome?!? He's all ready for the holidays. I wanted to add on little sleeves (not in the original pattern but I like them) but I ran out of green yarn.
What sort of Holiday projects are you excited for??

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Well my fashion figure drawing class is sadly coming to an end, I've had so much fun learning new techniques and tips and getting to know some of the DAAP students. We had a big project due last week and, although it was quite a challenge, I really enjoyed the process and was happy with the results.

The Assignment: choose our favorite artist (fashion or not) and do a piece in their style. We could either redo an existing picture/drawing/painting or create our own in that artist's style.

I decided on Rene Gruau, an Italian-born artist living and working mainly from Paris in the 1940s'-1980's. See some of his works below

I loved his striking black, white, and red paintings of women. There is something so intriguing about these pieces.

Gruau did a lot of advertisements for haute couture fashion (Dior probably his most well known) as well as champagnes, perfumes, and the Moulin Rouge (as pictured here in this painting.

Well the greatest challenge of this assignment was that we had to use the medium of the artist. Gruau did mostly paint so that meant that I had to do the same! I was lucky enough to be able to borrow some paints and brushes from my sister's beau, Nic. He was so amazingly nice and gave me some advice along with the supplies that really helped me out.

Here is the final painting, although it didn't photograph very well. I wanted to capture the feeling of the first two paintings along with the cabaret dancer feeling. I'm pretty happy with it, although there are always things I would go back and change.

Close up of the face, I loved the red color that Nic mixed for me.

Close up of the legs, she was on pointe shoes which my teacher didn't quite understand but other than that it had a good reaction.
What sort of projects have you been working on?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Woes of a Vintage Bride: Reception Location

As most of you know, I am currently in the process of planning my wedding. We (and by "we" I mean "me") are trying to find the right location for the ceremony and reception. A few weekends ago, my sister and I drove up to Cleveland to visit my fiance's mother and look at some possibilities.

Our first stop was Pine Ridge... I didn't bother taking any pictures because our experience was atrocious and I would NOT have my wedding there. First of all, the lady "giving us the tour" acted annoyed and basically told us to go look around. The reception area was lovely but the rest of the place was nothing to write home about. And the kicker... I asked about having a "small, well trained hypoallergenic dog that doesn't shed in the ceremony" and she scoffed at me as if I was insane. She then went on to tell me that "no place would allow such a thing!" Ridiculous.

After the defeat at PineRidge, we took a walk around Squire's castle, the fall colors were lovely!

Then is was off to lunch at the Willoughby Brewing company. My fiancee had talked about this restaurant before so I was excited to give it a try.

My sister, myself, and my soon to be sister-in-law

The food was fantastic, my sister and I split a yummy veggie pizza. They also (of course) had great beer. I chose a pumpkin/octoberfest brew - delicious.

After lunch we drove up to Manakiki, the location I had been excited for since I saw the website.

As soon as we got there (which was about 30 minutes early) an extremely nice woman was more than happy to show us around even though we weren't her responsibility.

This is the main room where the reception would be held, it was lovely. Also.. no chair covers (which are my pet peeve) because the beautiful white chairs should not be covered up!

Detailing on the fireplace was so adorable!

This is the main room, where you first walk in and also where cocktails would be. Very cute.

The cocktail room has a piano to the right, Kelly was playing us some tunes.

The main entrance

The reception area seen from the cocktail room

The Manakiki also has an outdoor option, it was quite different but unfortunately, it would be much too hot in late July so we would have to stick with the indoor reception.

The Grove is where the actual ceremony would take place. It was so beautiful. Most of the other venues showed us a little area off to the side where they could "set up some chairs" for a ceremony.... ughh. This was so quaint, and shaded!

And, to top it all off, when I asked (very timidly considering how horrbily I was scoffed at the previous location) "could my little dog be in the ceremony?" She told me "oh of course - we love dogs here, mine comes to work with me sometimes!" Wonderful.

Well, Manakiki was great but we had to see at least a few other options right? Next up we headed to Quail Hollow. The people were very nice as we didn't have an appointment. They directed us on where to go and gave us some information.

This was their "grand ballroom" . Chair covers. Ick. Carpets. Ick. Also, when we got out of the elevator to the floor of the "grand ballroom" there was an old hairy hotel guest coming out of the pool with nothing but a towel wrapped around his big belly. Ick.

After a hard day of location shopping, we hit the wineries. Did I mention how much fun my future mother-in-law is? She's pretty fantastic.

Southriver Winery. Such a fun idea... it's in an old church. Sadly, they don't do weddings, we asked.

What a wonderful weekend we had... let's hope that all of the wedding planning is as fun as this!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poncho turned shawl

I found a lovely pattern in Viva Poncho for my sister's birthday. I decided to splurge and get the recommended yarn (50% silk, 50% merino; 230 meters from Tess Designer Yarns)

I was very happy with the quick service, she actually dyed the yarn that day because she was out of the color I wanted and it arrived a few days later. The quality was fantastic, such a silky, sheen yarn. Of course, like most fancy yarns, it was still in the twisted skein form so before I even began my knitting journey, I had to turn this:

Into this:

I ended up jusing the back of two chairs (Pierre was supervising) and rolling over my thumb. It was actually easier than I thought but a bit time consuming.

Basically, the poncho just requires 2 large panels of this lovely leaf pattern. When completed, you sew the panels to opposite sides of each other and you have yourself a poncho. However, I was knitting away and realized that I am almost half way through my supply of yarn but nowhere close to half way finished with the pattern.

After re-checking my gauge and the instructions, I was a bit baffled. I end up calling Tess Designer Yarns and the same sweet lady was able to solve my mystery. "Oh you're not knitting the Viva Poncho pattern?" she asks me. Apparently they made a mistake in the pattern! They had the wrong kind of yarn listed.... uughhh. My only choices were to spend a huge amount of money on 2 more skeins of yarn or just improvise.

I decided to just keep on knitting and make one large panel with all of the yarn and transform it into a shawl. Well... I definitely would have changed some things if I'd have known from the beginning that this was going to be a shawl but that being said, it turned out quite nice.

It looks so pretty on my sister! (That's Stasha - my future sister-in-law/bridesmaid)