Friday, November 27, 2009

10:21 a.m.

My own personal version of Black Friday.The Queen Mother made the felt jack o'lanterns when the boys were small and I always wanted to find a fun way to display these pumpkins. I blanket-stitched the pumpkins to a suede-like black square last night while we watched a movie and digested our turkey dinner.

The Wizard of Oz was the perfect movie--Thanksgiving lends itself to "there's no place like home" and I'd just finished My Pritty the day before. Plus I was Dorothy for Halloween but I still need some ruby slippers (on my shopping list). This morning I sewed the finished pumpkin squares into pillow shams; each boy will have one of their own. Now they--the shams not the boys--can be easily used each October then stored away nicely with other Halloween paraphernalia.

I was able to complete all my cute goblins because I found a nice black wool blazer at Savers half-price sale on Veteran's Day which is regrettably after October 31st rather than before. I felted the wool in my washer with lots of hot water and agitation followed by a tumble in a hot dryer. Cutting away the lining and then using a seam ripper to deconstruct the jacket was messy but fairly easy; I had a nice selection of black wool felt to choose from when I needed a cat body or penny rug "tongues". Voila! Finished projects.

This is the last Halloween project for the year (I promise!), so I can safely pack away the Halloween/Thanksgiving storage box when I take down all our Thanksgiving decor. I don't have the hair that I need for the Queen of Halloween so she'll have to wait and I'm saving some embroidered Halloween themes for next year. Right now I'm moving on to some unfinished Christmas projects while I root through my crafts to see what new projects excite me. I'm ready for a little green and red in my life.

And I just happened to acquire a red jacket at the same Savers sale that is just begging to be used for a Santa or??

2:18 pm (yesterday)

Making Thanksgiving dinner was obviously way too relaxed in our house if I had time to sit in my cozy blue recliner, watch Mamma Mia!, and finish this little witch while the turkey roasted without turning into a somewhat bigger witch myself!

The three things that I don't remember until too late: lighting the candles, opening the wine/sparkling cider, and putting on music. From now on, when someone asks me what they can do to help, I have an answer!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


What a beautiful day--blue skies, sunshine, sixty degrees. Thanksgiving doesn't get much better than this!

Here's reason #583 why I love the Internet: learning how to fold a fancy napkin!Not as important as the recipe for Pumpkin Soup or the directions for Balsamic Roast Asparagus...but since I baked the bread and pies last night, I had some time to play with the napkins. Haven't you always marvelled at the folded napkins at nice restaurants? They just make the meal taste that much better.

There's always one who just has to nibble before dinner's served, isn't there!
I love squirrels and acorns--this little guy is vintage. You can see his brother in the photo above, right behind the crystal. They used to live on the Queen Mother's coffee table but now come play in my house every November.

Serving pumpkin soup meant that I got to use my soup tureen for the first time ever (it's been passed down from a family friend to the Queen Mother and then to me) along with the Mikasa "Breckenridge" plate (acorns again!) I found at a yard sale last Spring I love the deep jewel tones of the tablecloth with our gold-rimmed china.

Our menu:
  • Roast Turkey
  • Finnish Orange Bread
  • Balsamic Roast Asparagus
  • Yams
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Knudsen's Organic Sparkling Pear Juice
  • Pecan Pie from our traditional family recipe
  • Apple Pie (made with our own apples!)
Entertainment provided by:
  • Kharma and Zelda lurking politely beneath the table
  • Frodo, Crystal and Muffin twittering loudly
  • Six goldfinches jockeying for the five spots on the thistle sock.
Why is it that clean up takes longer than the meal itself?

Monday, November 23, 2009


I checked the thermometer when I came back from my morning walk--twenty-two degrees.

With no wind, actually pretty comfortable. Of course I don't set out without my gloves on and my hood up but they don't last two blocks before I'm warm enough to begin going bare-headed, unzipping the hoodie and eventually peeling off the gloves. That's what hills will do for your heart rate!

It was even warm enough to ride my bike to work without sacrificing my extremities to frostbite. It seemed warm anyway until the day was over and I reached the back door only to find it was locked. Yes, I knew my sweetie was taking the Queen Mother to the airport and then making a Costco run since it's only a block away, and I knew that would take a couple hours--but somehow I figured leaving the back door unlocked would signal that I didn't have my keys with me (bikes don't have ignitions, y'know).

Fortunately I'd left the leaf rake outdoors so I attacked the leaves closest to the pond. Fall cleanup, exercise and keeping warm in one tidy package! After picking up dogsicles (how do two dogs generate so many little presents?), I was able to rake the rest of the lawn. Still no sweetie, so I moved on to the side yard. Kharma had made a nice little nest for herself there amidst the peach leaves swirled by the wind, but leaves have to be raked before November turns wet or snowy.

Alas, the garbage can was full, the sun went down and my teacher shoes weren't exactly keeping my tootsies warm. So I retired to meditate on the front porch while I waited for the sound of a garage door opener and ignored my frosty toes. It wasn't exactly dark but the solar lanterns were coming on before I heard our Forester turn in the driveway.

I had a good excuse for needing a huge cup of hot chocolate and some peanut butter/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies before I emptying the fridge for minestrone soup.

Note to self: we definitely need a spare key left with the neighbors just for times like this.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

10:10 pm

Basement cat (lolcats addict, here)Her nickname is Tabitha.

What a difference decent light makes in a photo. Jack looks soooo much better in this one.

On to the next project. Yes, another Halloween one, otherwise they will sit here for another year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

11:20 pm

Finished! On to the next project...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Reward for Exercising

I enjoy my morning walks. Getting out of bed way too early. Fighting off teary eyes and drippy noses from allergies. Tripping over my own feet. Sweat. Steep hills. Sharing the mornings with a friend...a friend, I knew there was some reason I liked to walk.

During the summer, my walking partner is young. After the university classes begin each fall, I walk with her mom instead. They are my neighbors and my friends as well as my exercise partners. I enjoy each of them soooo much. It's our combined senses of humor that binds us together as much as the walks. We all like to laugh, and I admit that I love to let loose and be outrageous when I'm with them. It's nice to shed my polite teacher persona and let that mouthy, sometimes bawdy, broad take over.

We hike in all different directions to keep the walks fresh. Fortunately we're near the edge of town--we've seen twin fawns near the river, quail in the scrub and bunnies almost everywhere. We've met lots of new puppies with their proud owners. Sometimes we'll reverse a familiar hike and are amazed at the new things we'll notice just by changing the perspective. Summer walks are different from autumn hikes. Hills challenge different muscles than speedy flat walks. Tuesday walks keep us scanning our environment, because Tuesday is trash day and there's no telling what treasures we might encounter. I'm always amazed at what people will throw away rather than donate. Their loss, my gain.

Like my clematis trellis acquired from a garbage can last year. Someone's castoff curtain rods became some fancy bronze fleur de lis plant stakes this summer. A little vision and they regain their usefulness. The pickings are definitely better in the warmer weather though, a fact I was bemoaning just last Tuesday as we set off. The Trash Fairy must have heard me because on the way back, hidden behind a trash bin, were...

Ta-da! Not one, but two, perfectly nice pots. I love the whitewashed terra cotta look. They are five gallon size and my patio looks much classier with the newest blueberry bush ensconced in my treasure instead of the black nursery pot. Thank heaven they're lightweight plastic because hauling them home would have been a challenge otherwise. Two walkers, two pots, two saucers--perfect! I'm delighted with the whole Green Movement because it puts a whole new positive spin on my dumpster diving repurposing.

Tuesday was also an early release day at school so grabbed my list and headed out run errands that afternoon. Two hours and four stores later I straggled in empty-handed, grumbling about how Joann Fabrics bums me out and wondering if I was the only person in the universe who can go to Home Goods and not find anything. Then it hit me--my day wasn't a waste at all. I had two new wonderful pots and I didn't have to pay one little cent for them. See, it pays to exercise!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Vintage Addiction

The quilts and crafts and friends are all delightful each year at PIQF. The icing on the cupcake though is a visit to my all-time favorite store in the Bay Area--My Friends and I in teeny, cute, downtown Niles. It one of those stores in which I can always find ornaments/collectibles/kitchen utensils/decorations/linens/etc. at reasonable prices which seem to make spending money there effortless.

Join my friends and I as we enter--see my skinny friend (I like her anyway) in her snazzy slim jeans checking out their always inviting and creative front window display. Girl Friend, you look amazing!That other jacketed lady just unsuspectingly walked right through my shot. Sorry, lady.

I could have sat right down in this corner filled with green glass and been happy for the rest of the day. You know me and my apple green obsession this year. (I didn't check my photos before we left so, sadly, the poor light does not do justice to the vintage beauty of this glass.) Can that little green juicer right up front come home with me anyway?

Another booth, this one filled with delectable silverware. Food just tastes better on pretty silverware. Girl Friend has started collecting butter knives and I was determined to get some for her. As I hurried ahead, at a brisk pace unlike my usual saunter through this store, I scanned every bunch of silverware and picked up all the butter spoons. Somehow GF found some butter knives anyway...but that's how I discovered that she likes the little flat ones best which helped me eliminate several before I snuck up to the cashier and paid.
Love this bony little felt punkin man--if I didn't already have so much Halloween decor I would have brought him home with me.

While I was sneaking around buying butter knives, Girl Friend was surreptiously paying for this little lamb.Guess whose flock just added a new member! Isn't this the sweetest lambie pie ever?

My friends and I'll be in Niles again next October searching for our next treasures from My Friends and I!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Spooky and Savory

My creepy-crawly spider jack o'lantern

Witchypoo pumpkin

I remembered to bring the pumpkins in off the porch the day before so they could warm up before I carved them (which is pretty organized for me). But they sat on the counter until late Halloween afternoon when my sweetie began giving me grief about always waiting till the last minute to carve them every year. Who me? Waiting until the last possible second?

And of course this year I found all our patterns but couldn't locate the pumpkin scoop and saws anywhere. So I winged it and picked two simple patterns, eyeballed the shapes, drew them on the pumpkins with a Sharpie marker, grabbed a paring knife and started carving. I think they turned out amazingly better than I expected. (I made a giant mistake on Witchypoo version 1.0 but it's hidden on the backside.)

The carving went so quickly that I had time to wrap our tree in eerie purple lights, rake the leaves into faux grave complete with skeleton bones peering out, a tombstone and some dead flowers. I've always dreamed about talking one of the kids to hide in the leaf grave and grab a trick-or-treater but my kids have better things to do on Halloween, I guess.

Pre-9/11 we had well over three hundred kids come by, then only eighty in 2001. This year we had less than thirty kids come by. (I have a very sad look on my face just thinking about it.) I loved, our whole neighborhood enjoyed, having hundreds of children come by; Halloween used to be an Event in our neck of the Haunted Forest. They were thirty very cute kids though. One little panda bear, who couldn't have been more than two and a half, roared at me VERY LOUDLY after getting his treats. I didn't know that pandas could roar that long with that much volume.

For the first time we had two dogs come by: a mad scientist in a lab coat and a skunk. They must have known that we always have homemade dog treats around and both left looking very satisfied. Maybe they were the start of a new trend. You heard it here first, folks!

Then the next morning all the spooky Halloween decorations disappeared, both inside and outside, and the Pilgrims and cornucopias made their appearance for Turkey Day.

Yesterday I popped the jacks into the oven. Tonight we supped on Pumpkin Soup made from our jack o'lanterns. Think gingery, spicy, rich and delicious. It wasn't quite as good as the pumpkin soup I fell in love with at Buenos Grill, so the search goes on for the perfect soup recipe at

Fortunately I have five more cups of pumpkin puree to experiment with.

And did you know that dogs like roast pumpkin almost as much as they like watermelon rind? Omnivores, both of them.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Apron Mania and Other Excuses

I always have extra energy after our annual quilt show and sleepover party because my friends are so talented that they inspire me. Thanks, ladies!

And with the weather being so gorgeously gold and blue this week, I've been using all that energy to sew aprons, blanketstitch doggies, rake leaves, train the doggities, muck out The Big Guy's room, and generally catch up on housekeeping that I let slide for three weeks.

Blogging dropped low on the to-do list, alas. You know it has to be bad when housework takes priority over Internet fun. I feel like I've caught up so now I'm back. Coming soon--photos from my favorite vintage store in Niles as well as this year's pumpkin masterpieces. Right now those masterpieces are roasting in the oven to supply us with pumpkin muffins or possibly the new (healthier) pumpkin pie recipe I've been itching to try.

I'd better get my camera batteries all charged up so I can share the results of my apron-making frenzy. And the latest finished projects. And the Thanksgiving decorating.