Saturday, January 30, 2016


Years ago, I scorned the feather duster as laziness, not to mention that you're just knocking down the dust, to have it mess up the floor. But now I see things differently. 

A real duster made of feather isn't as good as this thing made of - filaments, you could call them - and when I don't have much time I can, yes, knock the dust on the floor. And then, mop it up.  It's way better than nothing. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

fixing a jumper

I bought this denim jumper on ebay very cheaply. But it was way too long. With so much embroidery, I found a space where I could cut across and not cut through any of the design. But when I put it on, it was shorter than I liked.

The dress has side slits, so I had a front piece which had embroidery all over it, and a back piece which was plain. I decided to use the plain back piece and I cut across it horizontally; then I had to do some figuring. If I did the expected thing and made a seam across that edge to attach it, some of the embroidered design would be taken into that seam and spoil the look. I placed the piece underneath the bottom edge instead and pinned it. I don't have anything against frayed edges in some situations and I decided this was preferable. So, I just zigzagged it securely and also the hem edge.

The back was a little different, because I used the lower part of that same piece - but it was wider because of the a-line shape. So I cut it up the middle and made a center seam for that piece (sorry, I didn't think to take a photo and I have it on now!) and then did some colorful top stitching on either side for decoration. You see, I wanted to make the piece shorter in width by taking it up in the middle because of the side slits - I didn't have to finish either edge - the sides just matched up with the slits. I don't know how clear I'm being.

Anyway, it's the perfect length and I think this fraying suits the whole jumper. It definitely suits me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

cake success on National Chocolate Cake Day

Well, I cannot begin to tell you how well received this cake was today. Debi wanted the recipe. She also had the great idea that we should not only have a piece when it was cold (the layers were frozen when I put the frosting in between, the way I always prefer to frost a cake; and then I thawed it for an hour before we cut into it), but we should also try it at room temperature - to compare. Yeah, Deb! Katie, who's a vanilla girl, loved it. Laurie must have thanked me at least six times for bringing it in.

It was definitely less sweet than your average, and the wine flavor was very interesting. Trisha apparently didn't know about it, but guessed something fruity - raisins?, she said. Pretty good guess, I thought.  The filling I made - frosting to which I'd added some Greek plain whole milk yogurt - was wonderful with it. The whole thing was kind of fudgy. It was a very adult dessert.

I have moved it in Pinterest from my "Recipes to Try" board, to my "Favorite Recipes" board.

*and in case anyone is wondering, the wine was Bearboat pinot noir 2008.

Monday, January 25, 2016

red wine chocolate cake

In addition to multitudinous amounts of baked goods my brother receives for Christmas from his clients, is the occasional bottle of wine. I don't like to drink alcohol, and he is trying to stay from sugars, carbs, etc.

Just when I realized we had seven bottles of the stuff taking up too much space in the kitchen, I saw a recipe for chocolate cake made with some red wine, on the Smitten Kitchen blog.  Perfect!

Then, just the other day, I found out that this Wednesday, the 27th, is National Chocolate Cake Day. Well. Can you guess what I did today?

This is a recipe for a nine inch, one layer cake, which is thinner than your average layer. Because of the wine flavor in it, Deb suggests either a topping made with mascarpone, or just a powdered sugar dusting. But my intention was to bring it to work, and there are nine of us on Wednesdays. I had to make two layers, didn't I? So what was I to put between the layers?

I didn't have mascarpone, and anyway, I didn't want something which would be fussy and require refrigeration. That expensive fig and chocolate spread I've seen in the store would be ideal, but - I didn't have that, either. I began to imagine a chocolate buttercream, but a soft one, with a bit of spice.

My Betty Crocker recipe for cocoa buttercream looked right: 1/3 cup of butter, 2 c. of xxx sugar, one tsp. vanilla, 1/3 cup of cocoa, and some milk. I suddenly got an idea to use a bit of plain greek yogurt for the milk - that was it!  It's soft, and has a tang. Just right for between those layers, with some "snow" on top. Plain is best with this, I think.

Wednesday's the day!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

beauty without the blizzard

We were fortunate - we got the pretty snowfall, but with just three or maybe four inches.

It was very gusty at times; the mail carrier (or, mail female, as my brother likes to say), barely gave me a wave when I greeted her, intent on struggling along and getting it done.

I took these on the way home from church. I point the camera to the window and snap, one after the other, and see what I get.

Everything is transformed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dolly takes a rest

Dolly has a great many balls to play with, and her current favorite is a bright green one like a tennis ball but with something inside that rattles. The other day we found her resting on it.

Leaning on it!  So funny we started snapping pictures like two silly paparazzi.

I think I'm even more amazed that she "posed" so long; her expression seemed to be one of annoyed tolerance.

Friday, January 22, 2016

finding Dante at the library

In the middle of the journey of How Dante Can Save Your Life, I came to myself in a back hallway at the library where The Divine Comedy had been left.*

So, I guess I'm going to read it.

*"In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost."  -  the beginning of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pinterest recipes: Creamy Cheesy Corn Casserole

I made this after work today, and then I pinned it into my "favorite recipes" board. Not so much because I love it - it was definitely good - but because I want to remember that you can make a recipe quickly and easily with ingredients that are always on hand. (I used a cup and a half of frozen corn, thawed under running water. Next time I would use two or even more.)

It's gone.

Monday, January 18, 2016

not sticking

We keep having little snowfalls which melt quickly. Saturday I was all excited at the snow in the morning.

Very promising,

but gone by mid-afternoon.

I did hear a rumor, though, that next weekend might be a different story.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

a fabulous something

For the past three years I think, there's been an ornate display near the altar at church, so I took some photos. I'm not sure where it's from, if it was a donation, or that it's just on display there. Eileen thought she heard it was some sort of reliquary.

It seems to be made of paper.

Quite fancy.

Russian, I suppose?

I like the clock.

All sorts of detail.

And a carved wood nativity in the center.

But today they were putting it all away until next Christmas. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

companions in shipwreck

"Be grateful for holiness when you find it among churchmen, but do not expect it. As Flannery O'Connor wrote, 'All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. Priests resist it as well as others.' To combat the temptation to idealize the clergy, practice thinking of them not as saints but as fellow sinners. Tolkien's advice about viewing your partner in love as a 'companion in shipwreck' is a useful point of view to adopt toward the Church and its clergy."

                                            - How Dante Can Save Your Life,  by Rod Dreher

Thursday, January 14, 2016

putting some of it away

I'm joining Leila today because she wants to know what's going on at my house, so...

This was breakfast - the bread that took one week to rise!  Yes! But it's delicious, and I'll have to do a whole post on it, I suppose.

I began putting away some decorations today:  this little nativity

and the three kings in our larger, white one.

I use a clean makeup brush to take off the dust.

I'm going to leave the Holy Family out for a while longer - with their donkey, of course. I changed the red cloth underneath them for something less Christmassy.

It was a sleepy day for some -

Made egg salad for lunches tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Henry and the blueberries


A note on the table when I came home:

"I discovered that Henry loves to bat blueberries around on the kitchen floor."

And I guess maybe my brother has dropped them enough times to have found that out. 

Actually, I did try to get him to eat another one recently - he wouldn't. But they still have their uses. Apparently.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"infinitesimal increments"

"Lasting change happens in infinitesimal increments: a day, an hour, a minute, a heartbeat at a time."

                                                           -  Simple Abundance,  Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thursday, January 7, 2016

braided crown

That boho look always gets my attention.  I had pinned some knitted headbands but there was one in particular - when I followed the link, the recommended yarn was something I just happened to have.

Here's the selfie - the yarn just happens to be the same colorway as a favorite new sweater - how convenient! - although I do think it looks better in a solid color. And it's not every day I'll be wanting to wear something which will flatten my hair - but I love it all the same!  I'll have to make more, because it was so easy to do and I may know someone else who might like one of these.

Monday, January 4, 2016

big squash

Marcia, at work, had joined a CSA, and the last thing she got was a big blue hubbard squash. Did I want it?  Yes! I was very curious about this squash. It was two years ago I'd read in an ice cream book that it's really blue hubbard in those cans we buy labelled "pumpkin puree".

Well, it was quite large with a faint bluish tinge. I treated it like I do all difficult winter squashes: pierced it all over and roasted it whole. It took an hour and a half at 375.

Thank you, Marcia!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"not really the end of a year"

" is not really the end of a year, because a year is not really a circle. It is a segment on a spiral that repeats the same pattern year after year, but never quite identically, and never comes together in a final and hidden meeting place as a circle would.

The year is life itself, forever changing, forever leading on to something else. In each year we look for cherished and familiar yearmarks, and in finding these, we discover the necessity of the suffering the year exacts, the discipline it imposes, as well as the generosities it pours out to us.

We do not know where the curving, spiraled pattern leads, nor in fact whether it leads up or down. We know only that someplace on it there is an assignment for even the least among us, and that the fulfillment of that assignment is important to the pattern and ennobling to the individual."

                                           -  Rachel Peden,  Rural Free

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I truly do not know what day it is

Well, by now I think I'm feeling like Saturday again, but surely yesterday was Sunday, so I'm not sure....

(Dolly says it's Caturday)

Friday, January 1, 2016

right order

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."

                                                   -   Margaret Young,  from Simple Abundance