Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday Highlights

A white Christmas in Texas!
After a rowdy Christmas Eve celebration at Frank's mom's house (here we are with six of the seven kids that were there) we got iced in and couldn't make it to my parent's house.

Frank and I spent the evening at home, alone. We were just glad that we weren't stuck on a highway, or in a ditch somewhere, and that we were able to pick up a pizza on the way home!

We made it to my parent's house on Christmas day and had a wonderful time with my family and great family friends.
We got my dad this Captains' hat for his RV driving duties. Everyone got a kick out of that!

Kathy got Crackers for us and they all come with Paper hats. Frank was a good sport and said I could put this picture of him up to show you. He is so sweet.
My Mexican Chocolate Tart turned out ridiculously rich and delicious. I used ginger snaps in the crust, YUM!
Lucy is always ready to cuddle in the winter time, and ends up in tons of Christmas pictures.
I squealed with delight when I opened this gift from my parents! An enameled cast iron dutch oven in my favorite color. I am envisioning lots of soups, stews and maybe a few stoups this winter.

I'm really excited to make my own patterns with the help of this awesome book. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kathy, who taught me the basics of knitting at Thanksgiving, gave me this knitting calendar.

Mom gifted me my Amma's rose shears and gave me an assignment to go with them.

I gave mom a pair of fiber earrings and this crocheted shawl that I made. I couldn't post progress pictures of this because she would have known it was for her, those are her favorite colors.

Mom gave me one of her beautiful pouches made with needle felted fabrics.
One of my favorite gifts. I gave Frank these portraits that I took of the dogs last year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hope's Salsa Recipe

I promised to post this recipe after getting several requests for it at our Christmas party. Thanks to a reminder from my cousin I am finally following through. This is Frank's mom, Hope's salsa recipe. I would wrestle my sister in laws for the salsa that Hope makes for us, it is that delicious. The bonus is, this recipe couldn't be easier, and can be adapted to your tastes. First I am going to post the original recipe as Hope makes it.

Hope's Salsa
(1) 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
(3+) Serrano peppers



Hope uses about two handfuls of serrano peppers, and her chile (salsa) is HOT. You can see chunks of peppers throughout her version. I love it, but you may want to start with fewer, you can always add more!

*Dump the can of tomatoes in your blender.

*Salt to taste. I don't measure, but would guess maybe starting with 1/2 teaspoon.

*I use about one half a bunch of cilantro. I just take the bunch, chop off the top half and throw it in the blender.

*Boil the Serranos and add a few at a time until the salsa is as hot as you like. I would say start with 3 or 4 and add from there.

Blend until everything is chopped, and voila, you are done. Gah-lee, wasn't that easy?!

Optional adjustments:
In the version that I made for the party I used Crushed, Fire Roasted Tomatoes in place of Whole Peeled Tomatoes. The fire roasting adds a great flavor, and the crushed tomatoes makes a smoother and thicker salsa. Whole tomatoes, as in the original recipe make a chunkier, more liquidy salsa. Try all versions (whole plain, whole fire roasted, crushed plain, crushed fire roasted) and see what you like best. You really can't go wrong as they are all delicious!

The version at the party also had Jalapenos instead of Serranos. That was only because I had Jalapenos from my garden on hand. I think I used four, and it was a very mild salsa. Serranos are hotter than Jalapenos, so keep that in mind. Don't forget to boil your peppers until the color changes and they become soft. The only other prep I do is to cut off the stem.

This is Hope with a pillow that mom and I made her for Christmas one year. You have this woman to thank for this wonderfully delicious recipe.

Roxie's hat

We had a lovely time at Miss Roxie's second birthday yesterday afternoon! I made her this hat. It fits, but barely. I will have to make her another one a bit larger with room to grow. I really like the patterns that I used for both the hat and the flower. I altered both a bit. On the hat, I thought it would be too big, so I went with a smaller hook, obviously that was a bit misguided. Hats seem to be hard for me to fit! On the flower I did only two rounds of petals, and then added a contrasting color in the center because I really thought it needed some yellow. Super cute even though it is a bit small.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Self striping yarn

I attempted a last minute yarn dye job last week. This yarn was for a gift that I wanted to knit up. Not a good idea to try all this at the last minute when I was already busy with jewelry and Christmas shopping. My idea was to try dyeing yarn that would be self striping. I found several tutorials online, including this one. I didn't get super technical with measuring. Basically I just wanted the yarn to make stripes instead of just being mottled. I wound a super long skein like the tutorial shows. Altogether I am happy with the yarn, though it is not exactly what I had in mind, and so it goes with food coloring dyes. This was also my first attempt at dyeing with Wilton's Icing dyes. Basically the same process as Kool-Aid, but you have to add vinegar. What I didn't realize is that brown is hard to achieve! My brown ended up more red than I wanted. I will still use this yarn for something in the future, and actually learned a lot from this process, however ill timed it was.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Though I waited until the last minute I just had to do a little bit of Christmas decorating. I picked out some of my favorite ornaments and hung them from our dining room light. My mom gave me the Dream Pet Rudolph, which is from her childhood. He really makes me smile! Someday we will be able to decorate a large tree with our ornament collection. I inherited a wonderful selection of vintage glass ornaments form my Granny.

This is the least prepared I have ever been on Christmas! Yesterday I realized that I only had one more day to prepare and lots to do. I have to run a few errands, wrap all the gifts and bake my tarts (Toffee Almond and Mexican Chocolate) before heading to Frank's mom's house this afternoon.

We did get to chill with great friends last night. My oldest friend Gretchen and her husband are visiting from Maryland and came down to Fort Worth to see us. That is always a special treat as we only see them about once a year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa came early

Santa came to visit at my parent's house last weekend! Little Karlie and eight other kids were there to sit on Santa's lap and get there pictures taken. It was lots of fun and nice to see friends that we don't see often enough. Even Malta and Lucy got in on the action, though Lucy wasn't too thrilled.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My secret santa gift for Beth

I sent my friend Beth Cyr this fiber pendant for her Etsy Metal secret santa gift. Beth has beautiful blue eyes, so these shades of blues and greens reminded me of her. I think I guessed correctly because Beth said that those are indeed her colors! Thanks Beth for taking a picture of your pendant.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I feel so lucky!

For the third year in a row I participated in the Etsy Metal Secret Santa Swap. I received these wonderful earrings from Stacey of Wildflower Designs on Saturday. I have wanted a piece of jewelry from Stacey for several years, and was thrilled to finally own one. Lucky me! My recipient was Beth Cyr. I totally spaced on taking a picture before I shipped her pendant, but she said she will take one soon. I'll share with you when she does.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Karlie's hat

I made my niece Karlie a hat for Christmas. I had some sizing issues, but it turned out super cute. My brother said he wants on in his size too! Here are all the details about the hat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recovery time

I'm back home from my show in Austin (and third weekend in a row there). It has been a crazy few weeks and we are recovering now on multiple levels. I didn't have time to share my clumsiness last week, but I burnt my poor fingers on the stove and that wasn't fun. They are better now, and thanks to Mom's advice to hold them in COLD water until the burning stopped, the pain was not nearly as bad as I expected.

Frank went down to Austin with us this time. Unfortunately our old dog Malta got sick on Saturday and Frank had to go home early to take care of her. We are lucky to have our wonderful friends, John, Robin and Chase who hung out with Malta while we were away and let us know what was going on. The vet diagnosed Malta with Vestibular disorder, which occurs often in old dogs and affects their balance. The symptoms were head leaning to one side, not able to walk straight, and eyes darting back and forth. Malta is on four medications and luckily on the mend now. I'm not ready to face the fact that my baby is aging, and with her being 14 I guess I better do that soon.

Mom and I shared a booth at Cherrywood and, true to its reputation, it was a wonderful show. I highly recommend this show for both artists and shoppers alike! Unfortunately I am so behind on my Christmas preparations that I wasn't even organized enough to do any shopping of my own at the show. I did do a couple of great trades though!
Mom sold scarves, needle felted pouches and more.
My niece Karlie showing off one of mom's crocheted head bands.
Mom in our booth.

Here is our booth layout. We had a 10x10 indoor booth (thank goodness). We used the tent as our framework and it worked out really well.

We had a super foggy drive home from Austin yesterday morning!

Malta after medications, relaxing in the sun.

So, I'm recovering from my burnt fingers, three busy weekends in Austin, two Holiday shows in a row, and finally from a long lasting cough. Frank and I are recovering from worrying about Malta, and Malta is on her way back to normal.

Cleaning up and putting our house back in order will probably take longer than I would like, and Christmas? I have barely started. I thought I was doing so well, making presents back in September. Then I got sidetracked by work and shows, and now, 10 days left. I will be busy crocheting, and more for the next week and will post pictures of my creations as soon as I can.

I hope you are enjoying this festive time of year!

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