Since purchasing a sewing machine a few weeks ago, I’ve been excited about all sorts of sewing projects, but also apprehensive at the same time. This is my first time sewing since I was a little girl, my mother standing by, ready to help with any problem that should arise from my attempts at sewing in a straight line. Now, I am without my mother, and still struggling to sew in a straight line, or more importantly: cut in a straight line. In these few short weeks I’ve learned that sewing is eighty percent cutting and ironing and twenty percent actually sewing.
I wanted to add some more holiday sparkle to the living room; I was delighted to discover a simple video online for sewing envelope pillow covers. I wanted something that could easily be switched out once the season was over. Enter ugly, lumpy, old living room pillow. (Should I be embarrassed to admit these have been in my living room?)
With a few cuts, irons, pins, and a whirl through the sewing machine, I turned this pretty poinsettia print into a pillow slipcover to be used for many Christmases to come. The video didn’t have measurements for my size pillow (17″x17″), so I estimated from the directions and ended up with an 18″x18″ piece, 18″x13″ piece, and an 18″x12″ piece. I realized partway through the second pillow cover that I could have probably used just one long piece instead of three individual pieces to make the project even easier. That way I would end up with one piece 18″x43″ and just marking where I need to iron and sew.
The living room is already looking more sparkly and festive! This was a fabulous and easy beginner sewing project. I did make a few mistakes, and a bulging pillow probably didn’t help, but they turned out nice enough.
If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you know I’ve been getting into the Christmas decorations. If you share an office with me, you know I’ve been listening to Christmas music since November 1st. Sorry about that, colleagues. Somehow I’ve morphed into one of those superfantastically-excited-for-Christmas people. One thing I love about this holiday is the number of great things to make; decorations, food, and gifts!
This year I’m trying something new with decorations. I’m going mostly all live greenery and items from the farmer’s market, and I’m super excited to see how they hold up. I bought 6 osage oranges (not really orange at all), 2 big bundles of cedar branches, 1 bundle of pine branches, 1 bunch of red berry branches, 2 bunches of plain red branches, and one green wreath. I already had lots of red and gold ball ornaments, but I spent a few days picking out little items from a few, mostly local, stores to add to the greenery.
The mantle is looking lovely with the cedar and pine branches mixed together, and red star garland, gold and red balls, and lights for some extra shine. Not quite finished with this part yet–I have one more project in mind.
And the part I’m most proud of are my banister swags. I made a total of four and they are each a little different. I started with red branches, then layered some cedar branches on top and bound that with green florist wire. Next I added embellishments of cut pieces from the jingle bell garland and gold ribbon. The gold “A” was for the bottom pole, but each pole has something different: star or snowflakes. Love how these look–in real life even better. So come on over!
Can’t wait for a few more finishing touches–I’m looking for a Charlie Brown tree this year. How are you decorating your home for Christmas 2013?
This is a little on the late side. You could always bookmark for next year’s Thanksgiving feast. Or maybe you’re like me and you enjoy sweet potato casserole year round. In any case, here’s the paleofied version of one of my all-time favorite holiday treats.
Bake five sweet potatoes at 350 until soft. Remove skins and mash in a large bowl.
Mix into the potatoes the following:
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
4 egg yolks (save whites)
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c coconut crystals
3/4 c full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and softly fold them into the potato mix. Spread the potatoes into a greased 9×13 pan.
Make the topping by starting with 1 cup of chopped pecans.
1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
Sprinkle the topping over the sweet potatoes and pop into a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes.
So, I know it’s not Saturday, but I’ve decided that December is the month to get back to blogging! I love writing, I love pictures, I love connecting with people and I’ve missed it. So, here we are for some best things this week.
1. Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. We stayed in Michigan for the holiday, so it was a big feast for a few people, but so wonderful. My Love and I prepared the turkey and all the fixings together, which was so fun. And thanks to the iPhone we were able to talk to and see our family in Wisconsin, California, and Lebanon!
2. Getting ready for Christmas! I love turning our home into sparkly and festive coziness–not to mention the delicious smells of pine and cedar, fire burning, and cinnamon candles glowing. More on decorations later this week.
3. Gathering and making and wrapping gifts for family and friends. Love finding the perfect things for the people on my list. Most of my finds are coming from the internets or local, small businesses. Love this!
4. Teas! They’re coming back into my life like crazy. It’s as though the first snow dropped and my tea shelf exploded. Not sure how that happened, but I’ve been loving Tangerine Ginger and Cinnamon Spice.
Hope your holidays are lovely and that your home is starting to smell delicious!
With such lovely weather so late in the fall, I’ve been doing a lot of walking these past few days. I’ve gotten out of the habit of walking. I mean, I walk everyday–usually at a frenetic pace–to get here and there. Rarely do I walk just for the pure enjoyment of walking. Of being outdoors. Of noticing the things in this world.
Walks are made for noticing. These are the things I found, saw, heard, touched while I was walking.
Home maintenance projects.
Freshly cut grass.
It’s good to be a walker.
Crisps are so forgiving. Measurements can be approximate with no great detriment to the end result. Yet, a good paleo recipe has been hard to find this apple season. After several trial and errors and one apple pie, I’ve come up with a paleo apple crisp recipe that I love. And can foresee myself making many more times this fall.
First of all, pick your apples. I used a combination of Honeycrisp and Gala, but I’m convinced almost any apple can work. Depending on how much apple-to-crisp ratio you like, I’d recommend 6-8 medium apples. Peel and slice them into one inch pieces about 1/4 inch thick. The more evenly you slice them the more evenly they’ll cook. I’m just saying. Also, full disclosure, I used some not-quite-ripe Bosc pears with my apples and cut them a little thicker since they cook faster. See, crisps are do what you want kind of desserts.
Place the apples in a mixing bowl and add:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup raw honey
3 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
(1/2 teaspoon nutmeg optional)
Mix it all together and let it sit and juicify. Yup, just made that word up.
While the apples are doing their thing, mix together the topping. In a mixing bowl, melt 1/3 cup of raw honey and 1/2 cup of coconut oil. Then add:
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
Line a 9×13 dish with parchment paper. Spread the apple mix in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle the topping over the apples evenly. Place in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the apples are bubbly. I think you’re going to like this one.
Come, let us watch the sun go down
and walk in twilight through the orchard’s green.
Does it not seem as if we had for long
collected, saved and harbored within us
old memories? To find releases and seek
new hopes, remembering half-forgotten joys,
mingled with darkness coming from within,
as we randomly voice our thoughts aloud
wandering beneath these harvest-laden trees
reminiscent of Durer woodcuts, branches
which, bent under the fully ripened fruit,
wait patiently, trying to outlast, to
serve another season’s hundred days of toil,
straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
but succeeding, even though the burden
should at times seem almost past endurance.
Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!
Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.
–The Apple Orchard by Mary Oliver
They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it is the best place for stories and conversations in our home. Plenty of counter space and tall chairs make for an easy place to spend time. I try to keep our kitchen relatively clean and usually have flowers, candles, or seasonal decor on the table or counters. It feels like a cozy space.
Even more than that, I think the kitchen draws out conversations because there’s always something to do. Sometimes doing something brings thoughts and ideas bubbling to the surface and ready to flow out into shared stories. Whether it’s making coffee, making a lazy Saturday morning breakfast, fixing a post-liturgical brunch on Sundays, or cooking a weeknight dinner, words find their space between people in the kitchen.
So many important and mundane conversations around our kitchen table. Daily stories of ups and downs at work or with friends are told. Big questions are asked and plans are formed. Decisions are made over a bowl of batter being mixed. I love kitchen talks.
As autumn slowly swallows us up, the hydrangeas undergo a transformation. All summer they sport hues of pale pinks, lavendars, baby blues, and bright whites. Then cold weather comes and they turn to deep pinks, magentas, and crisp greens. From summer to fall they’re beautiful, but different with each season. Welcome, fall hydrangeas, I love you, too.
While I was loving their colors, I wondered how I could keep them through even more seasons. How does one go about drying hydrangeas? I started searching online for the answer, only to discover that I was already in the process.
Step 1: Collect your hydrangeas in the fall months between September and October. Cut diagonally at different heights and place in water.
Step 2: As the flowers dry, remove them from the vase of water and use as decorations in your home. The petals will be lovely, pale colors and can supposedly last a very long time. Seasons and seasons of hydrangeas!
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown,
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown,
Lest I should be old-fashioned
I’ll put a trinket on.
I’ll be the first to admit that our cat drives me a little crazy sometimes. She’s quite a talker and doesn’t have an off button. She also doesn’t respect the normal sleeping hours for humans. I also grew up in a home with no fondness for cats. It’s a bit ironic that my little brother is now living with us and our cat, when he was the one to tell my new boyfriend (now husband) that “we don’t like cats”.
Most days she’s a lover and a cuddler. She likes to play with catnip mice and bits of string and feathers. She gets crazy streaks where she runs like a banshee around the house. She loves her little treats. And she loves us and all our friends and family who visit.
“What greater gift than the love of a cat.”
2. Trip to Trader Joe’s. Stocked up on veggies, coffee, olives, fruits, nuts, and a few canned items. All ya’ll from the big city don’t be taking your Trader Joe’s for granted, now.
3. Scarf weather! I have quite a scarf collection and can’t wait to get started. I found this awesome video that shows a
million twenty-five different ways to wear a scarf.
4. Colors! Today I’m noticing the colors all around me. Colors at the farmer’s market as the fall vegetables fill the stalls. Colors on the trees lining the streets. Colors of the sunset sparkling purple, gold, oranges, and blue. I’m working on a photo project and I was inspired by one of the participants to notice the colors in our world.
Hope your week is a colorful one!