Monday, November 30, 2009

hope it was swell

We sure did enjoy our holiday weekend! Great food and lots of laughs topped off with a little karaoke. I hope you had fun too. Here's a shot of my cranberry ginger chutney. If you do another traditional meal for Christmas, maybe you'll consider making some. I'm trying to settle back into healthy eating and exercise routines before the holiday hoopla begins. Do you have any good tips for keeping yourself in check?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.
- Elie Wiesel

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Our 2000 Thanksgiving invitation artwork by Sophie, then aged 5

chutney + buddies

This colorful, if disparate collection of ingredients will soon become cranberry sage chutney. It's delicious on leftover turkey sandwiches! I plan to take some as hostess gifts and send others along with my running pals as they travel to see their families. We ended our run today in a full out group hug with wishes of safe travel and great happiness to have one another. Aren't friends grand?!?

Cranberry Sage Chutney - The Herbal Pantry, Emelie Tolley

6 c. cranberries
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 unpeeled orange, chopped and seeded
1 c. orange juice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. slivered almonds
12 dried dates, chopped (I forgot to get these on my grocery outing. Can't bear the thought of going again. I used orange essence prunes instead.)
1/4 c. crystallized ginger
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. dry mustard
3 T chopped fresh sage

Place all ingredients except 2 T of sage in a non aluminum pan, and cook over medium low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until berries pop and mixture thickens slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining sage. Pour into jars. This chutney will keep refrigerated for up to 6 months.

shari cherries

When I was a kid, this was the only cherry I knew. The magnificent high fructose corn syrup infused maraschino! When I see a jar of these red babies, I always think of my grandmother, Mommy Elta. Because she knew I loved them, her Thanksgiving fruit salad always included a portion for me with lots and lots of extra maraschino cherries added. This small gesture made me feel special. Do you have similar memories associated with certain foods? Do tell...

Friday, November 20, 2009

chaos, meet beauty....

beauty, say hello to my ever present friend, chaos. Can you peacefully coexist? You're going to have to until I finish all of these holiday quilt orders. By the way, these gorgeous fabrics are by the talented Anna Maria Horner, one of my favorite designers for quilting fabrics. I got a whole slew of lovely patterns at Dallas' brand new modern fabric boutique, City Craft. Go over and say hello. You're going to love it! Tully, thank you for the loverly flowers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

fun hair

I've been in a hairdo rut as of late. In an effort to kick it up a notch, I tried a new style. Fun button tie was last year's free gift wrap from Anthropologie. I knew it would come in handy some day! I think Mary Ann would approve. Do you try out new looks with your hair?

Photo of Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island from Google Images

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the fantastic mr. dahl

When the girls were teeny, we loved the stories of Roald Dahl until our book was in tatters.
Count us excited about Wes Anderson's new movie based on Fantastic Mr. Fox. George Clooney as TFMF? Good call. Looks like big fun. What upcoming movies are you excited about?

Wide release on November 25th.

Monday, November 16, 2009

woulda shoulda coulda otter

Jennifer and Michel Wurth, a former Neiman's visual duo with an abundance of style, talent to spare and a keen eye for cool set up shop in a small Texas town. Here it is, my favorite place for vintage cowboy boots and other great stuff, Western Otter in Hico, Texas.
The Wurths live above and work below in an old stone building once inhabited by Western Auto, thus the name of their shop. It's a fun store with a friendly, happy vibe. See for yourself.

They'd love a visit if you're heading down to the Hill Country this holiday season.

Read a fun post on Hico right here.

Western Otter
118 North Pecan Street
Hico, Texas 76457

how can it be???

This little person boarded a flight for D.C. with her class just this morning.

How can it be that I miss her already?!? Someone out there tell there a cure for a mother like me? Oh, she's going to let me have it for this post.

self portrait that hangs in my studio by Sadie

Saturday, November 14, 2009

three generations of tiny

So, lots of you love your boots! Thanks for the all comments and emails following my best boot post. These little dandies are from Cheryl over at Double Talk. Three generations of tiny have loved these boots. Doesn't the worn leather look nice and comfy?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

poufy towers

Free dress day is cause for great excitement in our home. Plaid skirts and Bert shoes can get a little dull. I told Sadie to pick out a fabric from my stash and I would make her a pouf skirt. It's French week at school, so she naturally selected the darling Michael Miller fabric covered in Eiffel Towers. Although I sew a lot, I don't sew a lot of clothing. Clothing and quilts are very different. Don't ask me to set a zipper or to make a proper buttonhole. Meet my old pals velcro, hook and eye, snap and elastic. This particular skirt calls for elastic.

Sadie put her spin on it.

She loves it! Check my next post for step by step instructions.

make a pouf skirt at home

This is intended as a rough guide to making this skirt. Please email me if you have questions about the instructions that I haven't made clear.

1. Take a piece of fabric of any length, the longer the fabric, the poufier the skirt. My fabric was 42" wide. I cut 2 pieces @ 20" x 42" because Sadie wanted a supremely poufy skirt.

2. Pin together and sew a single seam, 1/4" to 1/2".

3. My seam was about 1/2" so I could avoid the selvage.

4. Then sew the other open ends together. You will end up with a big circular piece.

5. Press your seams open.

6. Take some elastic and cut it to fit your natural waist plus a little extra to allow for seaming the elastic together. The thicker the elastic, the more shape your skirt will have.

7. Now, turn over the top edge of the skirt to create the waistband. Be sure to allow plenty of space for your elastic.

8. Hem this unfinished upper edge leaving a small opening for the elastic to slide through.

9. Attach a safety pin to the edge of the elastic and slide it into the open space and run it around the waistband of the skirt.

10. Sew the two ends of the elastic together and sew the opening in the waistband closed.

11. Next, pin the bottom edge to the length of your choice and hem.

12. Press the skirt.
13. Prepare for adoration.

Original pattern by Camille at Childhood Flames

delectable giveaway

My dear friend Ann, who you may recall from this post and her dear friend Amy have a beautiful blog called amy and ann. Each weekday they feature incredible photographs that involve food in some way or another and on Fridays they share a recipe. Head over to their blog and sign up for a chance to win this lovely calendar featuring their images. They will randomly select a winner on Saturday, so head over there and get your name in the hat, or the skillet. Don't dilly dally.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

neighborhood hero

Because it's Veteran's Day and because I'm lucky enough to live just 3 doors down from a true American hero, I decided to rerun my very first post that features this incredible World War II veteran.

Three rotten bananas sit on my kitchen counter. The perfect number for a loaf of banana bread. I decide to share this loaf with some of my neighbors, reserving the ends for me and Sadie. We wrapped each slice simply in wax paper and set out. A centenarian known affectionately as Dr. Gene, is our first delivery. He's a busy guy with a great disposition. He was a music professor at a local university. In an earlier life he stormed the beaches of Normandy and loved his wife Dorothy. He plays his piano and walks our neighborhood every day. He is a talented and noble man who elevates our neighborhood.
Lila, Tom, Lori, Joy, Geneva. Five more deliveries. Kind phone calls within the hour. "A little banana bread fairy left something on my porch!"
Veteran, caregiver, teacher, widow, retiree, young woman.
Three rotten bananas = six happy neighbors.

Here is my favorite banana bread recipe, courtesy of Anne Besser

Moist and Delicious Banana Bread

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. overly ripe bananas (approximately 2-3)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs and mix until combined. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Add sour cream, vanilla and smashed bananas; mix thoroughly. Grease either one large or two small loaf pans. Fill pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

40 years of sunny days

Thank you Sesame Street for all the years of fun, great music, lovable muppets and respite for parents across the globe, one hour at a time. All the little Lidji's loved Sesame Street. Happy 40th! And many more.

You're never too young to enjoy Sesame Street.

Here are just a few classic moments good for a smile this Tuesday morning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

what did she just say?!?

I think Jillian just said we should be gargling our hearts by the end of this exercise. How about hurling our hearts? Is that an option? I entered dangerous territory this morning and it's called Level 2. I'm too shaky for specifics. I even followed Jillian's less awesome workout girl, Amanda, rather than the most awesomely toned girl of perfection named Natalie. Amanda? April? It started with A, but frankly I'm too nauseous to focus. Perhaps I should rethink this and venture back to Level 1. What do you think? Would you turn back now?

the best boots

It's officially boot season and I happen to own the best boots ever! They keep my feet cozy and happy. The fit is a little sloppy, but I don't care. They are perfectly scuffed and broken in. I love them and the feet that inhabited them before me. The feet that broke them in. The ones that did all the hard work so I could reap the rewards.

Are you a fan of vintage boots? If so, we'll visit my favorite store for boots and other cool things later this week. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

happily bound

It's Saturday morning and I'm buried under this heap of hues hand sewing binding to quilts. Binding is what finishes the quilts outer edge. A beautiful edge makes all the difference. I really enjoy this final step. Minimal supplies required: needle, thread, thimble, snips, cup of coffee and reruns of Project Runway. A little one on one before delivering the quilt to its new home rarely to be seen again. Do you blame me for getting a bit attached?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

my kind of chandelier

Look at this delightful tissue paper chandelier! Seen on Wren Handmade, this was from the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck, Michigan. The rolled paper flowers are stunners. Here's another version made by the talented textile artist, Lena Corwin. I love her more stylized, less frou frou direction. They're both incredible. I'm tucking this idea into the bat mitzvah folder. Could be lots of fun.

Maybe the cool and crafty girls over at Paper Nerds could show us how it's done. How about it Shannon? Local Rotten Bananas readers, would you take this class? I'm there. Yesterday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

fall favorites

This is my very favorite tree in our front yard just a couple of days ago. Isn't the color amazing against that sky? Fall in Texas is brief, but lovely. I'll enjoy it while I can. Another fall favorite in our home is this healthier interpretation of the classic chicken pot pie. Did you eat chicken pot pies when you were a kid? We loved them! By the way, have you made any of the recipes featured on Rotten Bananas? If so, which ones? Would you share one of your fall favorites with me?

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Phyllo Crust

2 T butter
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
6 large mushrooms, any variety, quartered
7 cups chicken stock
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 small red new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs. skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 T chopped fresh dill
1 T chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Phyllo crust

8 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the fridge
1/2 c. melted butter
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh dill

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Add stock, carrots, and potatoes and simmer 15 minutes. Add green beans and chicken and cook another 6 minutes. Stir in dill and parsley and taste for salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Ladle warm or hot soup into 6 ovenproof soup bowls. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface. Brush sparingly with butter and sprinkle with some parsley and dill. Continue until you have a stack of 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Cut 3 circles 2 inches larger than diameter of the top of the soup bowl. Brush tops of phyllo circles with butter and invert circles on the soup bowls, buttered side down. Press edges of phyllo dough against bowls and brush tops with butter. With a sharp knife, cut 2 slits in each. Repeat with remaining phyllo and soup bowls. Place bowls on a baking sheet and bake until tops are golden brown and puffed, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
**Read this for easier option**You can make it all in one casserole dish rather than the individual soup bowls. Not quite as neat a presentation, but perfectly delicious.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

works in progress

Sewing & blogging, blogging & sewing. The machines are smoking over here! Since I have several pieces to complete between now and December I thought it might be nice to share my progress along the way. Here is a sneak peek of a quilt I'm almost finished with. I'm turning baby boy and toddler clothes into a big guy quilt.

Onesies, cub scout kerchief, fun boxers, jammies, cool toddler corduroys and Oilily parachute pants.....they're all here, reworked into a super fun quilt.

Photo of finished quilt to come. His mom gets to see it first!
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