Monday, August 29, 2011

the frolf days of summer

Usually, when the boys come to town, they go off and do their boy things and we meet back up for meals at our place. 

This time, we tagged along for some of the frolfing fun. 

It has to be said- they've got some pretty sweet moves. 

Frisbee is not really my thing, so I was the team photographer.  Steve played right along with them and did not even mind that he came up at least 20 over par at each course.  He didn't lose a single disk. 

I haven't spent much time on Frisbee golf courses, so it was fun to see what a few of them were like.  I think I was unprepared for the amount of walking Frisbee golf involves.  As Corbin says, "it's like hiking, with discs." 

It was hot, but not unbearable.  And there was plenty of shade available. 

There was also plenty of tall grass and brush to walk through and I will consider the weekend a total victory if I don't end up with poison ivy. 

How many of you remember the Ivy of '03? 

It wasn't pretty. 

Steve and I were so exhausted after a weekend of trying to keep up with the college crowd.  I am still trying to decide if that makes us old. 

It was worth the exhaustion to spend some quality time with this guy before he heads off on his next big adventure. 

I could start reciting from "Oh, the Places You'll Go!", but I'll refrain. 

Today, I find myself on clean-up duty at the old homestead.  After the boys left yesterday, Steve and I surveyed the house and made the joint decision to go out to dinner and head to bed early.  We assumed the mess wouldn't go anywhere and- what do you know?- it was still here to greet me this morning, just as I suspected it would be. 

I love: the sound of the washer and dryer humming in the background while I clean other things.  It's like I'm getting double work done!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I love feeding a crowd

True to my word, here are some recipes:

Zucchini Bread with Crumb Topping
Bread Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Crumb Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325.  Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans.
2. Beat eggs until light and frothy.  Mix in oil and sugar.  Stir in zucchini and vanilla.  Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir into the egg mixture.  Divide batter into prepared pans.
3. Mix crumb topping ingredients together and sprinkle over each loaf.
4. Bake for 55-65 minutes.

Confetti Omelet Casserole, recipe found here

Spinach Artichoke dip, recipe found here

Yes, I made all this today and no, I do not always cook like this for the weekend.  But we are expecting some especially hungry house guests tonight and I like to be prepared for them. 

That's right, it's Nationals, again.  My brother and his buddies are coming down for one last weekend of fun before two of them move across the country.  As one of the two is my baby brother, I am trying not to think about that part yet.  Right now, I'm just thinking about how much fun they are and how much they eat. 

(I found this stowaway behind the oregano when I was out clipping herbs for the casserole.)

We're looking forward to a great weekend of Frisbee golf and other fun things and hope that the weather cooperates.  Next week I'll continue to share some glimpses of the new fall products that I'm working on.  They're set to debut in the shop right after Labor Day and I'm so excited, I can hardly wait! 

Happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

sympathy shakes and how to clean your oven

Yesterday our car broke down and I felt my first earthquake. 

Today my goal was for things to be a bit less... eventful. 

But before I move past the events of yesterday, I must tell you that I was talking to Natalie on the phone when the earthquake hit.  She said, "Our house is shaking.... what should I do when the house is shaking?"  After a few seconds of brainstorming the safest place in her house to go, I walked into my own living room and felt the floor shake and heard the walls creak.  And I thought to myself- "we have reached a new level of closeness- I'm having sympathy shakes." 

Natalie and I have a serious connection, much like twins that don't look alike, and it is not uncommon for one of us to feel something just because the other is feeling it.  But in this particular case, we were both feeling the same earthquake, which made the distance between us seem a lot smaller. 

Today I am doing regular things, like sewing.  I finished up a few orders and started cutting and assembling fall projects from my new fabric. 

I made a scarf, or three.  Then I imagined it being cool enough to actually wear a scarf.  These days, I'm dreaming all the time of fall.  It's my favorite season. 

I had both machines going all day long.  I'm thinking of getting an embroidery machine, but my biggest concern is where I'd put it.  The sewing table is rather crowded as is. 

Did you think I'd forgotten about the oven?  No, pumpkin, no. 

I consider myself a pretty good housekeeper, overall.  But I almost never clean the oven.  Probably not even yearly.  Instead, I just try really hard not to drip anything or to wipe up spills as they happen. 

But this week I decided that it was time.  I came to this conclusion after setting off the fire alarm while making dinner.  Twice. 

The last time I cleaned the oven (2008?  2009?), I used a standard oven cleaning spray foam and I can still remember the fumes.  And how our food tasted like orange scented chemicals for a week.  Ick. 

This time, I used baking soda and water and it was amazing.  As baking soda always is.  I took out the racks and scrubbed them with a baking soda/water paste and a green scrubber.  While I was doing this, I heated the oven to 250.  Then I made the paste a little runnier and poured it all over the bottom of the oven (I turned the oven off at this point).  Once I finished cleaning the racks, I used a sponge and wiped out the oven, scrubbing a little when needed. 

The whole process took less than an hour, including clean up.  Oven cleaning is one of those jobs that seems to daunting and huge to me.  I felt a bit ridiculous that it took so little time. 

Let's talk recipes later in the week, shall we?  We've got company coming this weekend and I'm already thinking up treats to make.  In my clean oven. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

a quick hello

Kayla and David's wedding was sweet and lovely. 

They both looked so happy the whole day. 

The photographers, Susan, and Kayla's sister, Ruth Anne, did a fantastic job and I just had to share some of their pictures. 

We got home, exhausted, and had a relaxing evening.  Sometimes we like to eat dinner on this little table for two.  Feels like we're at a restaurant, right in our family room.  But you can wear PJs. 

Today I've been busy getting orders ready to ship out and being SO thankful for my postal scale.  The joy of not standing in line at the post office anymore is almost indescribable.  I literally skip down the driveway to the mailbox every time. 

I am working hard on my new fall products and a couple other projects and hope to have something to show later in the week. 

Tonight we're having leftover Chicken Marsala Tetrazzini for dinner.  It is one meal that I really do think gets better with age.  I usually don't make it until fall, but I just couldn't wait!

Friday, August 19, 2011

planning ahead

As a business owner, one thing that I have found to be a challenge is the lead time required to prepare items for sale in a specific season.  I usually start thinking about making fall products sometime around mid-September.  And then they are ready by Christmas.  Clearly, this is not a perfect system. 

But this year, there is something in the air, and I've already ordered fabric for fall and planned projects for fall and, by golly, I just might get most of them sewed before it is actually fall

I'm catching on. 

A couple of flannel baby blankets are on the docket.  This bird print was too precious to resist- I'm making it into a blanket, but I also think it would be delightful as curtains or a little dress. 

I found out last weekend that, sadly, I will no longer be able to get the ginkgo print that I'd been using for the checkbook covers.  Thankfully, I found this classy lace print in three great colors for fall, so I'll be whipping up some new ones for the shop very soon! 

The part of my recent fabric order that I am most excited about though are the fabrics that I plan to turn into scarves.  I made a batch of cotton voile scarves last winter that sold out pretty quickly.  I made a batch this spring that did not sell very quickly.  I'm learning.  Even though I will happily sport a lightweight scarf all the way through April, not everyone is as cold natured. 

But I think we can all agree that there are few things nicer in the fall when the air is brisk than a smooth, cozy scarf around your neck, brightening everyone's day. 

I'm crazy about cotton voile for scarves because it is breathable and drapey and not at all itchy. 

But I saw this scarf in the most recent Land's End cataloge and it got me in the mood for something a bit heavier than voile, but still super soft.  So I ordered several yards of striped jerset knit (think t-shirt) and plan to fashion some scarves out of it as well.  Can you believe all those great colors?  I think it will match everything. 

Today I am roasting a chicken while I play with my new fabrics.  I love the smell of something roasting in the oven with rosemary and garlic. 

This weekend we will be celebrating with our friend, Kayla, as she begins her new life as David's wife!  How fun!  I love going to weddings with Steve because I always start daydreaming about our wedding day.  I listen to the vows and usually get a little teary eyed because I remember when we said them and I think that when you're saying those vows, you just don't know.  It's the first day of your marriage and you can't know what is to come.  I find them so much more meaningful now because we've weathered sickness and health, better and worse.  Now, looking back a few years, I feel more of the weight of those promises and the joy that it is to have someone who is willing to keep those promises with me.  And it is a joy.     

Hope your weekend is filled with joy as well!  I'll meet you back here on Monday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

please forgive me, but I have to show you Ursula's house

I may have promised that I was done showing pictures of our Maine trip.  But Ursula lives in a little white house with a red door in the middle of a field of flowers.  How could I not show pictures?

Ursula is Nana's friend and they are absolutely precious together.  They talk a mile a minute and both have German accents, so just take a minute to imagine that. 

Ursula's husband, Wolfgang, gave us a guided tour of both the flower and vegetable gardens. 

It was sort of a progressive meal.  Wolfgang would pick berries and tomatos and sugar snap peas and pass them out to us.  "Eat!  Eat!"

You don't have to ask me twice. 

Even though the road was right behind those trees, it was easy to feel like we were in another world.  All you could see were flowers.

And the big sky. 

After the garden tour, we sat in the shade and talked about everything from farming to World War II.  We ate cheese and cherries and watched hummingbirds zip around the yard.  The hummingbirds are bigger up there.  It's probably the altitude. 

Ursula and Wolfgang's house is charming.  I may want to be them when I grow up. 

This week I am enjoying some time at my own fairly charming house, doing a little of this and a little of that.  The "this" is mainly cleaning and the "that" is mainly sewing.  I have a few new shop projects in the works that I'll share later in the week.  I also have some very exciting fabric arriving soon that I'm just busting to get my hands on.  I'll probably start taking pictures of it before I even make anything, so there's that to look forward to as well!

Monday, August 15, 2011

in the late summer, a young woman's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of patchwork...

It happens every year around this time.

Even though the temperatures are still blazing hot, I know what's coming and I picture the future.  I picture myself, three months from now, wearing layers and spending time upstairs to keep warm.  And on my lap, I picture a quilt. 

It's not complete, but it's keeping me warm nonetheless.  And with each little stitch that I make, I know I am one step closer to completing something that will be treasured and I feel that I'm really doing something with the short days and cold evenings. 

I completed the quilt above, my first and only quilt, two years ago.  It's about five feet square, perfect for the sofa.  I've been dreaming of making a full sized one ever since. 

Last week, Nana gifted me with this box of embroidery floss, which is my preferred stitching material.  My ambition to begin the new quilt kicked up a notch. 

Back at the homestead, Steve discovered a hole in his patchwork shorts and I offered to stitch it shut again.  Kind of like a mini-quilt. 

I began the project of repairing some of the holes in the quilt on our bed.  It's amazing to me how an old quilt from Target can start to look like a family heirloom with just a few, slightly crooked, stitches. 

It feels like I'm stretching before the big game.  All these little jobs are slowly preparing me for the larger task at hand. 

It seems so early to even think of quilts.  I know this, but I also know that if I don't start now, the days will turn into weeks and the temperatures will slowly drop and suddenly- it will be November and my hands will be itching for something to stitch. 

This year, I'm going to be ready. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

a bicycle built for two

The day slipped away from me before I had time to blog for real, but I am a woman of my word, so here you go:


Have a happy weekend!  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

maine street

We found some old newspaper articles at the bed and breakfast and apparently, "Main Street" used to be called "Maine Street". 

How precious is that?

Other than their complete willingness to exploit the name of their state for use in bad puns, here are some other things that I found to love about Bridgton, Maine:

Flowers everywhere.  Flower boxes, flower beds, flowers lining a bridge. 

The big sky.  Every day the sky was so big and the clouds were just tossed up in it and I felt a bit like I was on a movie set. 

Moose Pond, dotted with boats of every color.  All under the big sky. 

Ken's Kove.  Ken's is right across the street from where we stayed and we watched a steady stream of cars drive in and out all day, every day.  People were lining up in the morning before they opened. 

We had an awesome date night that included lots of fried seafood from Ken's, a liter of ginger ale, and a picnic table at the lake.  Oh! and there were loons!  Nothing is quite as romantic as loons, I think. 

Lots of great, old architecture.  Every building is something special. 

Moose Pond.  We could walk there from Nana's house and spent a whole afternoon swimming and laying in the sand.  And we saw an otter. 

Ski slopes in the summer.  I totally have a crush on this mountain.

Downtown after dark.  Actually, downtown is pretty great at any time of day, but it looks especially pretty with the streetlights and shop lights on.  We walked around and it was quiet and cool and most shops were closed, except the ice cream parlor.  We looked in shop windows while we shared our dish of coffee Heath bar crunch. 

Want to see Steve's grandmother on the back of a bicycle?  Stop in tomorrow for the rest of the pictures!


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