Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cooking day

I'm doing some prep work for our Saturday meals. We are lucky to have some wonderful friends that we will celebrate with on Saturday. We are spending the day in Fort Worth and will do Breakfast with one set of friends and Dinner with another.

My contributions are, for Breakfast our favorite Waffle Recipe, and for dinner, Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Vidalia onion and English Cheddar from Mad Hungry (my new favorite show),a different type of Cornbread Stuffing that my Aunt makes and we love, and Praline Pecan Pie.

Speaking of prep work, I bought myself two new kitchen gadgets that are saving me time. A pastry scraper thing that also measures, really helps with transferring chopped stuff. Also, a mandolin which made quick work of slicing the onions, and will be used to slice sweet potatoes as well. Both were bought with coupons on the cheap, fyi!

After a coffee break I will be making one more batch of sugar cookies. They were a favorite from the cookies last week and I know all the kids and adults alike will enjoy them tomorrow night at my Mother in law's house.

I will be taking a break from blogging for a while. Next week my big plans are cleaning out closets, cupboards, drawers, etc and maybe some painting of walls. I'll let you know what I get done.

A Little Bit of Christmas

Though I was behind on everything Christmas this year, I just had to do a bit of decorating. Frank and I are staying home this year and won't be with my family for the first time. Since it's already a different kind of Christmas, without decorations I was afraid it wouldn't feel like Christmas at all. I only used what I had easily accessible. I was in luck that I had lazily stashed some ornaments under our bed after bringing them home from mom and dad's house earlier this year. The only thing I pulled out of the attic were the lights.

Here is our mantle area after decorating.
The stockings were made by my Amma and hung at her house. Frank gets the big one (in the dark on the left), and all of his presents might fit in there!

My Pawpaw made these little deer. Aren't they sweet?! The red glass candle holder is new to me, but was apparently a wedding gift to my Amma and Papa. My sister in law has the mate to this one. I didn't think it was my style, but on the green glass plate it is perfect for Christmas. I think I will pack it away and just bring it out this time of year.

The crystal candlesticks were Amma's as well. Again, I didn't think they were me at first, but after cleaning them up I think they are beautiful. They look very Art Deco to me, and I love the way the Christmas lights look shining through.

These ornaments were made by my Granny.

Most of my ornament collection is blown glass.
I usually get a couple of new ornaments each year.

This year I picked out the Penguins for Frank

And the Red Bird for me because it reminds me of Granny

A soft pretzel because I thought it was cute and I love to make and eat them, silly I know.

And this one just cause its pretty!

There are lots of ornaments and Christmas decorations that my mom made too, but none of those were within easy reach this year. I'm tempted to purchase an artificial tree on clearance this year. I have plenty of ornaments to fill up a full size one!

I'm spending the day cleaning the house, prepping for Christmas brunch and dinner and eventually wrapping presents. I was trying not to leave the house today, but I do think I will have to after all.

I'm going to post my Christmas dinner recipes later in case you are interested in making them too. I hope you are enjoying this time of year and are not too stressed out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Lights

There is a house near us that puts up an amazing Christmas light display every year. There are lines of cars wrapped around the corner to see the spectacle. We went by last night and I snapped these shots. It is really incredible and these don't even give a feel for how many lights there are. I love those nets around the trees.
Christmas lights in Fort Worth

Christmas lights in Fort Worth

Christmas lights in Fort Worth

Christmas lights in Fort Worth

Christmas lights in Fort Worth

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Handmade Jewelry Jackpot!

It had been a while since I had done a trade with another jeweler. I did two recently and both items came in the mail yesterday! My package from Stacey of Wildflower Designs was waiting for me at the main post office and, as I'm sure you can tell, it made going to the post office worthwhile. I am so in love with this necklace, the stone is gorgeous and the setting really shows it off! I get compliments all the time on the earrings that I have from Stacey and I'm sure this one will be no different.

Necklace from Wildflower Designs

I also did a trade with Claire Buck when we shared a booth a few weeks ago. She mailed me the earrings that she made me and they came in yesterday too. I love them, aren't they clever?! They are fold formed copper and I think the texture and shape are beautiful.

I am so pleased to have these pieces in my handmade jewelry collection!

I love this scarf!

My christmas gift from Kathy
This gorgeous scarf was my Christmas gift from my mom's best friend Kathy who is always knitting. I want to make her something too, but have no idea what. This is the second beautiful thing that she has knitted for me. It is made with Malabrigo yarn and is so soft and luxurious, I feel so lucky that it is mine!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Baking

I went to my parent's house on Friday for a Christmas baking marathon. I think I may have gotten a little carried away. I wanted to make a lot of cookies because we had a party/jewelry sale yesterday that we needed them for, and I wanted to have some for gifting. Most of these recipes are from the Martha Stewart Christmas Cookie Magazine, which you should be able to find at newstands now.

Salted Toffee Chocolate Squares

Coconut Macaroons (recipe here)

We didn't have candied ginger on hand and I really wanted to make the Lemon-Glazed Candied Ginger cookies. Mom made candied ginger from scratch with fresh ginger! I'm glad she went to the trouble because this was one of my favorite of all the cookies we made. I may be making these again this week, because we didn't make that many.

Candied Ginger and Lemon Peel

Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Pecan Cookies
My second try at these and the size is right, but I think I cooked them too long. I want a chewy center, but these are crispy throughout, still delicious though.

Sugar cookies, I added red food coloring and the pearlized sugar around the edges.
They taste as good as they look!

Mom made mini pecan pies (her own recipe)

Raspberry Thumbprint cookies
Made with the Cream Cheese dough and Raspberry jam.

The ones on the far left are the Lemon Ginger cookies (my fav), the ones on the top are mom's traditional Christmas recipe, Cocoa Kiss Cookies, which I don't have on hand.

All packed up and ready for giving!
So from the magazine we made:

Cranberry Coins (not pictured here, but delicious)
Jam Filled Cream Cheese Cookies (but we made them into thumbprints)
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate-Pecan Cookies
Iced Sugar Cookie Cutouts (didn't ice or cut out, but rolled in silver sugar and dyed red)
Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies
Pecan Sandies
Salted Toffee Chocolate Squares

We also made:

Cocoa Kiss Cookies
Coconut Macaroons
Amaretto and Peppermint Truffles
Mini Pecan Pies

Wew, that was my first Christmas activity of the season and though it was exhausting, I fully enjoyed it. Now to clean the house, start Christmas shopping, maybe a little decorating, grocery shopping, etc. I'm a bit overwhelmed this year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frijoles Charros

As much as I love to cook and eat Mexican food, I had never figured out how to make a proper pot of pinto beans. Blasphemous, I know! Frank's step mom used to say, somewhat sarcastically, "I don't know what's wrong with your crockpot?". It wasn't our crockpot, it was us. We would cook beans for hours in the crockpot and they still just weren't right.

Making Frijoles Charros

Well I don't know why I never thought to simply follow a recipe!
There is a local restaurant that serves a cup of bean soup with your entree and it is oh so delicious. We had been wanting to recreate that at home for a long time.

Enter this recipe from my Rosa's New Mexican Table cookbook. I have had this cookbook for a little while and everything I have made from it has been delicious. I also ate at Rosa's in Atlanta a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.

So, first things first. You have to cook a pot of pinto beans (properly). I did that following the instructions in my book and for the first time my beans came out just right. Here are the directions:

1 Pound Pinto Beans, rinsed and picked over
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 small white onion, coarsely chopped

Put the beans, onion, and 10 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat Adjust the heat so the liquid is at a gentle boil and cook until the beans are somewhat tender, about 1 hour.

Stir in the salt. Continue cooking until the beans are tender but not mushy, 40 to 50 minutes. There should be enough liquid to cover the beans throughout cooking; if not, add warm water as necessary. Serve warm.

And now for the Frijoles Charros:

The consistency should be a little soupy, so it's best to serve them in a small bowl as a side dish or in a larger bowl as a meal. Also delicious topped with cilantro and pico de gallo.

6 thick strips bacon cut into 1/2" dice
1 med white onion finely chopped
1 jalepeno, finely chopped (I used serrano because that is what I had on hand)
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Cooked Pinto beans
Salt if necessary
Pico de gallo (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Cook the bacon in a medium saucepan over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring, until the milky-white liquid given off by the onion has cooked away and the onion is softened, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cumin. Add the beans and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering. Cook until the liquid is lightly thickened, shiny, and has intensified in color, about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste if necessary.

Making Frijoles Charros
So flavorful, and so delicious!
I really can't describe how good this is, you just have to try it out for yourself.

We also made homemade tortillas to go with this recipe.
Making Frijoles Charros

I would describe this as a weekend meal, only because the beans need to cook for almost two hours. Despite the time, this is an easy recipe and it will be a staple for us this winter.
Making Frijoles Charros

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just Playing Around

I have serious love for Noro as I have stated here before. I can't however afford to make a whole afghan from it. I found this new-ish yarn at Joann and decided to try it out, I did have a coupon after all! It is called Amazing and is from Lion Brand. I started on a giant rectangle Granny just to see how it would work up. I love the colors and don't mind the finished product, however I'm not crazy about the way it feels when you are working with it.

The quilt under the crochet is new to me from my grandmother, Amma. She has been gone for 9 years now and my aunt gave me this at Thanksgiving. It isn't really my color, but it is soft as can be and reminds me of her, so I love it!
Giant granny blanket
This project is on hold for now as I have Christmas to think about, and this blanket to finish (only two square left!).

Speaking of blankets, it is sleepy cuddly time around here. Lucy only really cuddles willingly in the winter time, so we look forward to chillier weather for that reason alone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ready to ship in time for Christmas!

Spinning Textured Dangles
Mini Segmented Saucer Earrings
Small Bubble Pendant
Single Stack Pebble Cuff
Ring of Bubbles Pendant
Hand Embroidered Silk Earrings
Simple Sterling Hoops
Mod Fiber Ring
Petite Saucer Earrings
Segmented Saucer Pendant
Graduated Bubble Earrings
Oval Hoops- Pick your bead drops
Tidal Pool Ring Sterling Silver Turquoise and Coral
Pebble Earrings with Peridot
Double Bubble Earrings
Sunflower Pendant with Yellow Shibori Silk

I have added a Ready to Ship section to my etsy shop.
All of the items in that section will ship same day if
purchased before 2:00 Pm.