Monday, August 31, 2009

Mrs. Marple's Institute for Fine Living: Day 1

Well I received my acceptance letter, and my first assignment. It will be an interesting 28 days!

Won't you join me?

After these Messages...

I'm not stalling because I don't have the new series completed yet.


I'm not.

That's Not the reason why I want you to view these lovely pictures, taken this weekend on a walk just outside my back door.

I want you to see how beautiful the countryside is.

And ponder the wonder of nature.

And perhaps occupy you until I post again later today...

So, in the meantime, please feel free to view more of these lovely shots from our nature walk
by visiting me at Flickr (click here!).

And to read an introduction to the new series (Starting Today!), come back and visit me here. I promise I'll post it.

Just as soon as I figure it all out...

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Fond Farewell

The time for saying goodbye to Retro Summer '09 has come at last. It has been, if I don't mind saying, a fabulous three months of cooking and gardening and sewing and enjoying the outdoors.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Baking with seasonal fruits...

Enjoying the best of summer picnic foods, like
ribs and corn...

And indulging in desserts of all shapes an
d sizes.

Of course there was growing and harvesting fresh food from the garden...

And visiting the local farm animals hanging out in the shade...

There were a lot of summer projects, from handmade jewelry...

To handknit cardigans...

And summer dresses...

There were lots of summer flowers to be picked...

and enjoyed.

And, finally, there was of course the beautiful outdoors to explore.

And plant in...

And make campfire memories with.

Of course, even though summer is coming to an end, there is a fresh excitement in the air for the arrival of fall (one of my most favorite seasons). And I'm sure that even though the days will get colder and the flowers will fade, I'll still be baking and sewing and enjoying nature--and posting all about it here.

Starting next Monday with a new series.

So let's bid summer a fond farewell, and welcome a new season with open arms!

Hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Project Plans

Since the summer is formally wrapping up,
I am preparing for my seasonal home design swap and project list.

Here are a few things I'll be working on
to ease myself (and my home/wardrobe) into cooler days:

I'll be using these fabrics to change all of the throw pillows and blankets in my main living room.
I love the varied patterns (houndstooth, plaid, lattice, lace) and seasonal colors. I'll make sure to post photos of the finished projects once they're complete!

This is the basket next to my bed.
I have, for the record, three other baskets around the house that look similar to this, but that's another story. This basket contains some of my fall "yarns in waiting" and half-finished sock projects. I have my work cut out for me...

I'm also planning on undertaking the rather ambitious challenge of sewing a new quilted coverlet for my king-size bed.
I'll be using these fabric swatches (and many, many others), in shades of rust and smoke. Seems fall appropriate, doesn't it?

All of the patching together will probably take me a lifetime,
but maybe some caffeine and sewing-while-movie-viewing will speed the process.

Speaking of sewing, I need to make a dress for a fall wedding,
and am trying to decide on the color... Steel gray? Rose petal pink? Smoky charcoal? The debate continues...

I've also been making a lot of jewelry lately,
but have definitely started moving more toward earthy fall tones, like these espresso wooden beaded earrings I made this week.

They'll be raffled off tomorrow,
so soon they'll adorn someone else's fall ensemble.

Finally, I've got yarn plans, people.
Yarn plans. I want to knit a few pillows shams because it seems like a fabulously comfy texture for fall. And I've started yet another cardigan, only this time in tweedy dusty rose.

As you can see,
I am going to be very busy as the sun sets on summer and autumn rolls in.

Just the way I like it.

What projects are you planning for the fall? Share your comments here!

PS: like my photography? You can check out more photos by visiting me on Flickr. Click here!

Previous Related Posts:
A Knitting Binge
Is It Fall Yet?
I Swore Never Again, part 2

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Do you see these two tomatoes? Aren't they nice, all red and fresh? One of them is a roma I plucked directly from the veggie aisle at the grocery store. And the other, also a roma, I harvested directly from my backyard. Can you guess which is which?

If you guessed that the large beauty on the right
was my homegrown prize, you'd be wrong. Dead wrong.

Because the tomato on the left, dwarfed in its shadow, is the one that I grew in my backyard.
It is about the size of a large grape. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've eaten grapes that are bigger than that this week...

Is this tiny tomato an anomaly, you ask?
Well...I can't say, because it is the only tomato that has decided to grace us with its presence this season.

Of course
it was very, very tasty. That one bite that we had.

Very tasty.

But one bite
may be all I get this summer.

Because apparently I've been carrying on from day to day
completely unaware that I suffer from a severe tomato-growing deficiency. If it hadn't been for this small tomato, I would have never known.

We might not have caught it in time.

I'll keep you updated on my condition.

Previous Related Posts:
Veggie Revival
A Tale of Backyard Tomatoes
Feeding the Naysayers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Since it is officially time for back-to-school, I thought that I should sign up for some extra-curricular activities.

Like sports.

Or art.

Or ballet. Adult beginner ballet to be more exact.

Last night I had my first class. And after a full hour performing a series of moves with French names that I can't recall, I can honestly claim that I DID NOT look like this:

Or this:
Nor did I get to wear a tutu like this:

Or a costume like this:

And it is safe to say that I would cry and perhaps break a leg if I tried to do this:

Because frankly I can't even touch my toes like this:

In fact, I probably looked more like this:

Or even this:

My legs were awkward, and I did not bend my neck gracefully in line with my arms. I did not bend much of anything gracefully for that matter.

But I did have a fantastic time, and am so excited for more extra-curricular dancing next week.

And maybe this time I'll be more prepared. Like, say, showing up in this:

Are you doing any extra-curricular activities this season? Share about them by posting your comment here!

Previous Silly Posts:
Ode to Pillows
Dear Sewing Machine...
Oh Cruel Coupons: a soliloquy

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coq au Vin

Okay, so I admit that part of the reason I decided to try coq au vin for dinner this weekend was because I like the name. "Coq au Vin." It sounds so French and fancy--I figured it must be tasty.

And the other reason I decided to try was that The Pioneer Woman posted her account of the dish and it looked so lovely on her blog. I swear I could hear the crackle of the bacon in the skillet, and smell the simmering wine sauce. (her photos, by the way, admittedly look much prettier than mine...)

First you have to cook the bacon. Personally I love bacon. I can hardly think of a dish that couldn't be improved with just a little hint of bacon. Okay--maybe ice cream...but that's about it.

Then you brown the chicken. At this point I was quite envious of the Pioneer Woman's large skillet. My smaller, non stick variety was certainly a tight squeeze for the whole chicken and it took FOREVER to brown.

See--this is why cooking is dangerous. Suddenly you start wanting to buy more skillets and fancy kitchen doo-dads. I don't have any more room for skillets and doo-dads!

Then you saute the carrots, onion, garlic and mushrooms* (*in a separate skillet). For the record, I HATE chopping carrots. I think they're my all time least favorite thing to chop. Always little orange pieces are bouncing off my cutting board and rolling onto the floor. And I can never get my knife to center on them just right. I'm carrot-chopping-challenged.

Then you dump it all--veggies, chicken and bacon--into a baking dish and prepare the wine sauce. My sauce, I confess, was a sad combination of a variety of red wines I had stashed around, including a "cooking wine" that I'm pretty sure contained no alcohol whatsoever and smelled like grape juice. I'll try to do better next time...

Finally, after one-and-a-half hours spent in the oven, the coq au vin is ready to pull out and serve over pasta. By this point it really does smell divine. I couldn't wait to dig in.

And of course it passed the most important test for food: it looks so pretty all dished out on the plate, don't you think?

And for a "fancy French dinner that would impress guests," it's actually quite affordable and would feed a roomful (we'll be eating leftovers for days!).

Try coq au vin for yourself
(click here for the recipe from Pioneer Woman) and email me ( to tell me how it went...or post a comment here about your recent cooking venture! I'd love to hear!

Previous Related Posts:
Peach Cobbler
What a Tart!
Pizza on the Grill

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