April 19, 2017

Easter


















Hope everyone had a happy Easter if you celebrate it. Ours was very nice, and seemed to go at a really nice pace this year. Often times I feel like I'm rushing around trying to get things cooked in a timely manner, but this year didn't feel like that. Caitlin and Cyrous came over in the morning for a late breakfast and then dashed back home to get ready. It gave me a chance to switch out the table decor for dinner and start prepping. I chose a simple menu this year, as it was just us four as usual.  We have a local grocery store that has an incredible meat counter, and I was very happy to see that they offered a half of a leg of lamb. I love lamb for Easter, but end up with too much meat afterwards and there is only so much you can consume in a few days time. We aren't huge red meat eaters, so it often times goes to waste. I love how the half of the leg was only 4 pounds and this time no waste! I used a menu from one of my old "Gourmet" cook books. I sure do miss "Gourmet" magazine.  Anyway, the lamb recipe I used this year was an Italian recipe. The lamb marinaded in garlic, rosemary, anchovies, and olive oil. To accompany the lamb, I made a salsa verde out of parsley, mint, anchovies, oil and vinegar. If I ever make this again, I think I would add a bit more vinegar to the sauce. I roasted six bunches of the cutest baby carrots and mixed them with fennel. Steamed potatoes, and salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette rounded out the menu.  Dessert.....as you can see I posted a lot of pictures of the process of this tart. I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. I loved the crust, which was a very light textured shortbread. I want to use it again for other fruit desserts this summer! I'm a seasoned tart builder, so this was not a difficult recipe like others said on Pinterest, just more time consuming with slicing all the rhubarb on the mandolin and then poaching them in sugar water. The weaving was super fun, since I love to do lattice pies, this was very simple for me. The recipe wanted you to weave the rhubarb on parchment, then flip the whole thing on to the tart. I skipped this and did it directly on the tart instead. I could just see myself trying to flip this carefully woven rhubarb, then it get all mangled in the process!! I think it is far easier to do it the way I did. If I make this again, I would take more time to make all the strips more uniform. The filling was frangipane flavored with rum and vanilla extract.
We bought those cute chocolate rabbits pictured from our favorite chocolate maker in St. Helena called "Woodhouse Chocolates" click here to check this place out!  We ordered two little lady bunnies and two little gentleman bunnies, and Fed Ex guys literally dropped the order on my front door step, shattering them all!  Woodhouse over nighted more to us and luckily those made it intact. They are so good. Of course we still got to keep the broken ones, and we have been munching on those first hahaha.
The top photo with the embroidery bunny is going to be a bib. I decided though that I will not offer this in the shop. The appliqué is a bit too time consuming to produce. I will however embroider the actual bunny onto the bib instead. I love the shape of these little vintage bibs, so I decided I will test out the embroidery only version very soon. I'll be working on some little bonnets and bloomers for babies next. I really want to offer layette type of gifts and I'm still in the process of what I want to include in the set.
Our yard is bursting in blooms and bugs, and bees! The air feels heavy with pollen and floral perfumes. I love it, but the allergy medicine is definitely a must! The peonies are ready to bloom soon, so get ready for flower spam!

Happy spring everyone :)

April 5, 2017

Catch Up Time Again!


























Hi there! Completely skipped March and there was a lot to blog about even. "Bouquet's to Art," Caitlin's birthday, and I completed my mini collection.
Flowers abound these days. From the museum to my yard! The magnolia tree bloomed outside of the guest room and it is always such a treat to see the blooms unfold. Such a beautiful shade of purple against the dark blue sky. I hadn't been to the "Bouquet's to Art" in a long time, so we thought we would check it out this year. I had mixed feelings about some of the arrangements. Some years are better than others I suppose. I like to look back in my archives and look at what they have done over the years with the same paintings. The ones above were some of my favorites, and I apologize for the lighting on some of them. It was hard to photograph sometimes, since there are hoards of people surrounding each arrangement.
Caitlin turned 27! Of course, many flowers were the central theme of the day :). The pictures uploaded oddly,  sorry about that. The very first picture is a gift that I gave Caitlin of her pressed wedding flowers in a glass frame. The flowers had been hiding out in some books in my basement since the wedding, so I thought I'd put them together for her. I think it turned out really pretty! We went to see "Beauty and the Beast" for Caitlin's birthday, and it was so fun. The movie reminded me of how much Caitlin adored that story. I remember Nicole's movie was  "Little Mermaid," and Caitlin was  "Beauty and the Beast." This new film really did the cartoon justice in live action! I could easily see it again. Caitlin chose Dona Tomas for dinner, which is a family favorite. I made a classic yellow birthday cake with fudge frosting this year. It was a first, since Caitlin always requests her infamous chocolate cake.
Today I finally listed all the pieces I have been working on for the past month or so. Each piece holds a special place in my heart. I think my favorite is the white pinafore. I really worked hard on that one! The binding around those heart pockets were very tricky! I typically go for shades of pinks and purples in my pieces, but I felt like some crisp whites, reds and blues this time. Next up will be some baby items. I have a fun little project I can't wait to start on. Of course, throughout now and summer I will still add more pieces, but I really had fun putting a whole "look" together to start out the season this year.

I can't believe Easter is so close! I'm starting to put a menu together for dinner and decor for my table, which is my favorite part. All of the flowers outside my windows are the biggest inspiration for decor. Even though my allergies are not happy with all of those pretty blooms, I still love this time of year at this house. One of my favorite views right now is outside my kitchen window over the sink. I can't properly capture the beauty, but you can see a little bit in one of the pictures above. I only wish that the blooms would stay like they are right now, year around! The neighbor's apple tree combined with the viburnum bush is just heavenly.
On that note, I'll close for now. Next post I'll show you a sneak peak of my new project.

March 3, 2017

Oops...Forgot To Post in February!





























February was short and very, very busy. So busy, that I totally forgot to come on here and document some of the events in real time. I'll do a little recap of sorts to catch you all up. Weather wise it's been so wet here that we have experience a bit of flooding in our basement even! A first for this California girl. Luckily it wasn't too bad. One night it was so stormy and windy that it flipped our umbrella completely up and over our table out in the back yard. We should have taken the umbrella down for the season, so it's our fault. I think with all this wet weather we are in for a beautiful spring though, as evidenced above with some of the blooms that are starting to make their appearance in the yard. The plums are in full swing with the peach blooms following behind a bit. The blooms sure make for some really pretty views outside my windows these days.

After more than 16 weeks, Caitlin's wedding dress arrived the day before Valentine's day! We are storing it here, since the box is quite big and Caitlin and Cyrous don't really have the room for it. We haven't taken a look at the dress, because we are too chicken to take it out of the tissue. Maybe when the curiosity gets the better of us, we will open it all up. We are just happy that it is back!

Valentine's day this year was low key.  I cooked  dinner for my Valentine instead of going out. I made a "Venetian Duck Ragu," and baked a small six inch cake. I had so much fun making this cake. I used a recipe from a new baking cookbook from the UK. I weighed all the ingredients with this one, even though they gave cup measurements. I find that most European recipes are way more accurate when you weigh them, especially the UK ones. Weighing in baking is generally better anyway. Even though I carefully weighed everything, I ended up with a lot of batter! So much, that had I put the other layer on this, it would have toppled. I decided to freeze the other layer for later date. The frosting was my favorite Martha Stewart cream cheese frosting. The most fun was gathering the flower and berries to make a romantic Valentine color scheme. Even though the cake was six inches, we only managed to eat 3/4 of it over 4 days.   The duck recipe was from "Fine Cooking." I have it on my Pinterest food board, if you follow me on there. I found some beautiful duck legs at Berkeley Bowl, and I can't wait to try more recipes with duck, now that I know they are carrying it more regularly.

We had a wedding fashion show the first week of February at work. It was a lot of fun, and both Caitlin and I worked that day. She did all the makeup and I helped dress some of the models. The two girls pictured are such sweethearts, and so much fun to work with. We had terrible weather, so it was kind of a low turn out, but it still was fun. We had music, drinks, and treats as well.

 Lastly, I have been working on a mini collection for spring/summer for my Easy shop. Normally I make and item and then put it in the shop. This season, I'm doing more of a collection, and will put it all up at once in my shop.  I have some really pretty fabrics that I coordinated for this mini collection, so stay tuned. The two pieces above are the start of it, I also made some bloomers to go with the embroidered piece. Next up after I finish the pinafore, are some matching floral pieces. I can't wait to unveil all of it.

Phew.....so there you have it, my February catch up. Oh, and on February 12th, my blog turned 9!!!