Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This image makes me want to redesign my entire apartment.....or just the bedroom.  Isn't it lovely? 

I'm officially on vacation from 1:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon until Monday, January 3, how amazing is that?  Everyone have a merry Christmas filled with love, joy, friends and family!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

...Well, it wasn't cold outside when the below photo shoot took place.  My friend Magpie went to Lebanon with me for a long weekend in July, and we went antiquing with my parents one afternoon.  We found this fur coat priced at a whopping $20.00, and my dad tried tirelessly to get Magpie to buy the coat (because check her out, she is totally stylin' and profilin')!  While Magpie didn't buy the coat, it did provide us with a few minutes of free entertainment.  Here goes:

Check out Mom!

Me trying not smile, you know, like the models do.  I don't think this look works for me, haha.  Why is it that they never smile?

And my favorite shot of the day would have to be Magpie.  I suppose you can guess that we were trying this coat on in July...

Oh, I made the pieces of Heaven homemade marshmallows last night, they were soo yum yum!  They were a very fun project to make.  

DIY Time:  Farfalle as a Gift Bow!  I always run out of ribbons and bows when I get down to wrapping the last gift or two.  This is a neat idea; I may have to try it out!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

...More like the 12 parties of Christmas.  Since December 3, I have been to 8 Christmas parties, and I'm totally worn out.  I'm not tired of Christmas, but I'm ready for real food, you know?  I want every steamed veggie I can get my hands on right now-I'm craving healthy food (not the yummy and wonderful finger foods and dips I've been devouring for the past 3 weeks. 

This afternoon, I finished my last sewing project of the year, thank goodness (only one more knitting project to go!).  Now I'm lounging on the couch watching one of my favorite Christmas movies from childhood, Home Alone: Lost in New York City.  My brother and I even had the original Nintendo game that accompanied this movie.  It was wonderful. 

Tonight I'm trying out the pieces of Heaven homemade marshmallows, so I'm excited to see how they turn out.  I will report back on those. 

DIY Time:  Vintage Earrings!  Looking for a last minute Christmas gift idea?  Well this one looks like a great, time-efficient and gorgeous project.  Have a great Sunday everybody!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

I'm making my list and checking it twice this week, making sure everything I need to do before Christmas is on the itinerary.  Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow, and my goal of giving something handmade to everyone on my list is attempting to become a reality.  Seriously, I should have started on this endeavor in July.  But that's beside the point.  

I've got goals and deadlines, all to be met before the end of next week!  Here's what I need to complete this weekend: 2 sewing projects I've already started and 2 yarn projects (should be pretty quick).  I'm on the highway to productivity this weekend, whoohoo!  Then next week, I have two more yarn projects to start and finish, but I'm still waiting on supplies to arrive from here, so they'll have to wait.  The other day my right index finger started hurting, so I'm just praying that my hands will be able to work like little elves in the next week and then I will give them a much needed break.

I saw this blog post today, and I loved it, thought it was a riot, and think everyone who has a sense of humor should read it.  My favorite line would have to be:  "If you think your hot-ness is more important than your country, Lisa, keep up the pre-Christmas diet.  Help put thousands, nay millions of our fellow Americans out of work."  Just read it.

DIY Time: Fabric-Covered Thumbtacks!  These do not require sewing either, so it's a relatively quick project.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


My eyes are green, my favorite color is green, my favorite bowls in the kitchen are green, the mug on my desk at work is green, how much greener can my life get?  I understand the ecological pun this question poses, but let's not dwell on that; I eat healthy, people, and while that doesn't mean "organic," it does mean healthy.  I also reuse grocery bags in trash cans.  Enough said.

Green beans are one of my favorite things to eat, and I mean, they're right up there with mashed potatoes and chocolate cake.  It may come as a surprise to you that the first time I ever ate green bean casserole was about a year ago (made by Javalady).  If you think your mouth is on the floor, I wish you could see mine.  Green bean casserole is a revelation, and whoever thought it up over at Campbell's in the 1950's struck gold (in my opinion)!  Last night, I made the first of a long line of green bean casseroles.  I altered the recipe slightly, as I didn't have any milk, and I added a few more fried onions.  So here's my variation:

Green Bean Casserole

1 can Cream of Mushroom
1/2 c. Half 'n Half + 1/4 c. water
2 cans cut green beans, drained
1/2 t. black pepper (or to taste)
1 1/2 c. French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour cream of mushroom into a mixing bowl.  While stirring, slowly add the half 'n half and water to avoid lumps.  Then add green beans, pepper and 3/4 c. French fried onions.  Pour mixture into a 2-quart (or thereabouts) baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Then pour the remainder of the French fried onions on top of your casserole and bake for another 5-10 minutes.  

Maybe I'm crazy for loving green bean casserole, maybe I just jumped on the bandwagon super late in life, but all I know is that I ate green bean casserole for breakfast this morning and it rocked.  So yeah, I guess you could say that my life got a little greener yesterday evening at dinner time.  P.S. Please don't read into my comment about eating healthy because the jury's still out regarding the nutrition-value of the above casserole.  For what it's worth, I think one could count it as a vegetable serving or two, depending on how much you eat.

DIY Time:  Poppy Brooches!  The only "sewing" involved in this project is with a glue gun, so it's very doable.  I made them for Christmas gifts last year and they were a huge hit! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Every Day I Write the Book

I'm a huge fan of calendars and planners.  Especially the kind that can fit into a purse/bag, and especially those that show the entire month within two pages.  I am a big-picture person, and as a result, I love to see as much time displayed as possible (with enough space to write).  Last December, I found the calendar of my dreams and have been (happily) using it all year long; click here and here to see a preview of it.  Sometimes I abandon a planner if I don't love it.  But this one is very manageable in a way that doesn't make me a slave to it, and for the upcoming year, I am downsizing to the compact size, so we'll see how it goes.  

In some ways, I think calendars and planners are journals; I was discussing this with a friend yesterday.  She writes down everything she does in the day, whether it was going to lunch with a friend or going to The Jefferson to see a show.  I love journaling, but as I get older, I'm finding that I rarely set the time aside to do it.  In 2011, I would like to change that, and maybe calendar-journaling would be a good way to do this...Food for thought. 

DIY Time:  Vintage Postcard Calendar Journal!  I am a huge list-maker, and this project is a phenomenal way to keep a journal in the form of a list and keep it compacted into several years in a fashionable manner.  I want to make one (and it would be a great gift for someone, too)!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

O Tannenbaum

On Friday night, I co-hosted a party, and in the spirit of Christmas, I made a cake for it in  the shape of a ring of trees, with a train chugging along the bottom edge of it!  It even snowed on my cake, thanks to a dab of powdered sugar.  Unfortunately, this was the only cake photo from the party...Nordicware cake pans are awesome, huh?

DIY Time:  Today, I'm giving you all the recipe for the bundt cake pictured above:  Darn Good Chocolate Cake.  It is quite possibly one of the most wonderful chocolate cakes I've ever made, and anybody can do it!  Don't judge me because it has a cake mix in it, just try it, you won't regret it.

Darn Good Chocolate Cake
4 large eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. warm water
1 Devil's Food cake mix
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pan with Baker's Choice, or grease and flour the pan.  In a mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, vegetable oil and warm water.  Then add the cake mix, pudding and sour cream.  Mix until all ingredients combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

My mom's friend has said for years, "If you want to learn how to relax, watch a cat," and after my long visit to Lebanon, I wholeheartedly agree with her statement.  Lucky is getting so big!  She's getting the royal treatment down at Dad and Mom's house, a package deal, which includes milk with her cat food and being toted around the house by my dad twice a day.  When she wants your attention from outside on the front porch, she hits the screen over the window with her paw.  Smart cat, huh?  I loved being at home with my family over Thanksgiving.  Highlights included: spending Turkey Day with my mom's family (giant crock pot of mashed potatoes, yeah!); going antiquing and spending hours in Hobby Lobby with my cousin Cort;  watching Casablanca for the first time; making white chocolate dipped pretzels and covering them in milk chocolate toffee bits and crushed up gingersnap cookies with Mom; and plain relaxing around the house. 

Bran, Dad and Lucky

December is looming over us, friends, and I'm trying to stay on schedule with my gift-making.  I do love the interim between Thanksgiving and Christmas, though.  For me, it's a time of reflection, and I am always astounded by how much God blesses me, even when I don't deserve it.  On Sunday, Jeff at LCF talked about kindness and how it is a huge part of Christ's nature.  One of the things he said was, "It is more important to be kind than it is to be right" (see John 8).  That statement really convicted me, and I'd like to strive to show more kindness toward people.  What a thing to be thankful for, the love and kindness of God.

DIY TimePieces of Heaven Homemade Marshmallows.  I will be making these, stat.  I can't wait to try them; I've been coveting this recipe for months now, so bring on hot chocolate weather!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My friend Niknak and her fiance had their engagement photo shoot last Friday, and the pictures are now up.  I'm soooo impressed with their photographer.  I can't stop scrolling up and down their photographer's website; she does beautiful work, and I want everyone to see Niknak, Al, Charlie and Roxie.  Plus, if their post gets 100 comments, then they get a free print; so head on over and comment on the lovely autumnal photos of them posing in Richmond's Fan.

I get to go Lebanon tonight, yippeeeee!  It will be a wonderful week.  I plan on prepping some sewing + knitting projects, lapping up family time and doing a very minute amount of shopping with my cousin Cort on Friday.  And by shopping, I mean hitting up Hobby Lobby (the best craft store of all time) and antiques in Kingsport.

I have been feeling super culinarily uninspired lately; I even participated in one of those recipe email exchanges that I've always snarked at, but I haven't made anything from the recipes I received from that endeavor.  As it turns out, I did not receive the 400 recipes that the email leads you to believe you will receive, but I did get quite a handful.  I feel like a blob in my kitchen, eating chips, salsa, ice cream and deli sandwiches (in that order).  Bring on Thanksgiving!

DIY Time:  Yarn Wreath. You mustn't know how to knit to craft this beauty.  Niknak directed me to this link, and you can check out her yarn wreath; it's lovely in person.  I made a Christmas-themed one when I visited her this past Saturday, but I'd like to make one for every season. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Money, Money, Money

Last night I had a little change-rolling party and watched Legends of the Fall

Today, I have $35.50 to show for it.  Get your change out, people, that's unaccounted for money that you could be saving, giving, spending, etc!  I know people that actually think they will have bad luck by snatching a penny tail-side-up.  

My mom always picks up stray pennies.  The way she sees it is, it's one more penny that she didn't have, and pennies add up to dollars and so on.  I probably sound like a first grade teacher.

DIY TimeBath Fizzies!  I haven't tried this out, but I've always wanted to make my own!  Great gift idea...someone in the reviews suggested using cookie cutters instead of the ice cube trays.  If anyone tries this out, let me know!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Happy Election Day, everybody.  I hope everyone is celebrating by voting at the polls.  I'm planning on casting my vote after work this evening.

When we celebrated my mom's birthday, I made two party garlands.  I made this one from French General's Home Sewn book:

The second one I made was from a blog called Thimbly Things.  I made a cupcake liner garland out of leftover miniature Christmas cupcake liners (white with red polka dots) and mustard-colored yarn.  Wouldn't a Christmas-themed garland be super cute?  I have some leftover snowmen liners from last year that I might hang with some red butcher's twine...Is it sad that I'm already wanting to decorate for Christmas?

DIY TimeCupcake Liner Garland  The fun thing about this project is that you probably have the materials just laying around the house! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Has Come

Ya'll.  Is anyone else freaking out that it's November?  Time flies when you're having fun, huh?  This past weekend, I successfully dodged dressing up for Halloween.  I have never liked Halloween, other than eating copious amounts of candy (although my least favorite candy that regularly graced my treat bucket were those solid black and orange wrapped peanut buttery chewy candies), so I was happy to do that and admire the little people lurking with ravenous sweet teeth as well.

I got to go with Niknak and watch her pick out the dress for her wedding.  One word:  glowing. 

I went to Carter Mountain Orchard and picked up some yummilicious Fuji and Gala apples for munching this week.

H. and I went for a drive out in Monticello country and up to the Barboursville ruins to take another bite out of history up here in Central Virginia.  Mr. Barbour was a governor of Virginia back in the day, and Thomas Jefferson designed his mansion (complete with the octagonal room).  I got really sad when we read that the mansion burned down on Christmas day in 1884.  What a terrible day to have your house burn down (not that other days are better, but you get what I mean).

Saturday, H. and I went over to Poochie and her hubby M.'s house to play The Game of Life, and it was awesome.  A little tidbit about the game, though:  to win The Game of Life, you only have to have the most money.  Something in me cringed when I read the rule; this is what we're teaching our children.

And then yesterday I was a substitute player on H.'s kickball team, which was super fun.  I'm thinking about joining a kickball league here now...

When November hits, I start planning my Christmas gift-making shenanigans.  My goal for Christmas 2010 is to give everyone on my list something handmade.  I like to make most of the magic happen in November to avoid stress in December.  Christmastime is wonderful, and I love going to Christmas parties (and getting to wear sequins) and gallivanting around the mall listening to Jingle Bells and taking in all the decorations (even if I don't buy anything).  At the end of every post until Christmas, I hope to put a link to a DIY project that I have either tried or have in my bank of diy projects that I would like to try.  See the first DIY Time below!

DIY Time6-Pocket Bag:  This cute bag is a cinch to sew; it took me only a couple of hours!  I made this for my mom; she totes her lunch in it to work.  Happy November!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


No one had ever hosted a surprise birthday party in my honor prior to two Fridays ago.  And by that I mean that H. threw me the most epic surprise birthday party of all time!  He had me picking something up from his house for him (with my friend K.), so when I got there, you might be able to imagine what happened next.  I opened the door and into pitch black I saw several figures, just standing, waiting (lurking, almost); so for a moment, I was terrified.  But then, someone opened the door, flipped the lights on, and tons of friends from college, work, etc. were standing in one room yelling, "Surprise!"  It was awesome.  My friend K. was in town for UVa's homecoming, and she was in on the surprise the whole time!  It was so fun!  Driveby of the weekend:  awesome surprise birthday party, Chocolate Festival and UVa Homecoming game the next day, and apple-picking on Sunday prior to K.'s departure.  Grrrreeat weekend!

A picture from the surprise party:  me with two cakes, how appropriate, guys.

The following week, I got an icky old cold, complete with fever, chills, coughing and copious amounts of chicken broth.  The most productive thing I did between Monday and Wednesday last week was watch Gone with the Wind straight through (including the intermission).

Alas, I was able to go back to work on Thursday and Friday, then drive to Lebanon for birthday festivities this past weekend (as my real birthday was on Sunday).  My mom and dad had a big birthday party for me at home, too, with yummy food and family.  AND, I got to debut my new cowboy boots for the occasion!

I also got to ride down to the farm to see some cuties, and by the way, Mom and Dad informed me that Lucky is a female cat, for the record.  Here are some shots from the farm:

Most of you all know how I feel about cats (not my favorite creations), but this little wild barn kitten is a doll!

And a smidgen of a tribute to my favorite dog that we have ever had:  Butch.  My brother got Butch when he was a puppy (he's a Great Pyrenees with a little bit of English Sheep dog in the mix); he has always lived with the sheep and he is a very timid dog.  He loves the sheep and won't let anyone he doesn't know near them; I love this dog and would steal him if I thought he would be happy with me in my little apartment.

On my birthday, Mom and I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with my sis-in-law S. and some of her family. It was a beautiful day, and it was my first 5k, even though we walked it!  S., her mother and sister made all of us tie-dye shirts for the event:  Go team Tie-Dye!

Me, S. and Mom at the 5k

Friday, October 15, 2010


My latest, and most secretive, project is pictured above, wrapped around my Mom's neck.  It was part of her birthday gift. I've been dying to show it off, but I couldn't spoil the surprise, so here it is.

One of my wonderful friends K. is coming into town today for UVa's Homecoming weekend.  It should be an awesome weekend filled with reminiscing and memory-making.  And cake, of course.  And maybe some apple-picking on Sunday afternoon.  Details will follow; have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Jamestown Story

Last weekend, I had a history marathon with good friends.  On Friday night, we went on the Charlottesville Ghost & Murder Walking Tour, which follows the murder of ex-mayor Sam McCue's wife Fannie that happened in 1904; we even got to go to their house on Park Street.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the local history here.  It was so much fun; I learned a ton about Downtown Charlottesville, and I recommend it to everyone.

Then on Saturday, H., C&K. and I went to Williamsburg.  H. and I had lunch with his folks at the Cheese Shop, and then when C&K arrived, we all meandered around for the Prelude to Victory event happening in Colonial Williamsburg.  The Prelude to Victory was a reenactment of Williamsburg's receipt of Generals Washington and Rochambeau and their troops on their way to Yorktown to, in short, win the Revolutionary War.
For the record, we did not run into either General while meandering, but we did see a cow's utter being cooked over an open fire (interesting choice), a soldier sleeping in his tent, some Colonial crafting/mending, horse-drawn carriages and much more.  There were some kids playing with the muskets, and one soldier jumped out of character to tell the parents to have them be careful, as the guns cost about $800 each.

Then, C&K, H. and I headed to the Jamestown Settlement.  Many people have recommended that going to the Historic Jamestown (as in, the place where they actually set up camp) is the best place to go, but I really wanted to get on a seventeenth century replica ship, so we went to the Jamestown Settlement (replica village).  We didn't get there until 4:00, and they close at 5:00, so we only had an hour to take it in. 

The replica Ships at the Jamestown Settlement (we were standing on the Susan Constant, looking at the Godspeed and the Discovery).

Apparently, the Susan Constant carried about 70 passengers.  We were trying to imagine how difficult it must have been for all the passengers to pass time in a small ship like this one for almost five months!

Here is me in a bed aboard the Susan Constant; I figured out very quickly that it was stuffed with hay (dang you, allergies).

Here is the church at the Jamestown Settlement.  I thought it was very pretty.

I found it very difficult to take pictures of the historical reenactments without modern, 2010 people being in the shots, but this one was one of my favorite images from the day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Darlin'

My mom had a very special birthday on Monday.  Dad, Bran and my sis-in-law S. and I had a luncheon in her honor.  I made a fabric party garland from French General's Home Sewn book. It was a hit! Here's what I made for our little party:  spinach souffle dip, spinach-ricotta stuffed chicken, cooked broccoli and Parmesan baked shoestring fries.  For dessert, I successfully nailed some chocolate souffles (but they fell before we could finish singing "Happy Birthday").

Then Mom, my sis-in-law S. and I went to Abingdon to hit up some cute little shops for the afternoon.  It was a lovely autumnal day, but apparently many of the local shops are closed on Mondays.  Instead, we opted to see a movie, Wall Street, and we all enjoyed it.  Later, we went back to Mom and Dad's, got a pizza and drank some champagne.  Some highlights in photos:

Mom and I in historic Abingdon, VA.

 Mom sporting the new jacket that Dad gave her.  Isn't she glowing?  Here's to you, Mom. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October Road

This past weekend, I drove down a long stretch of Interstate 81, and when I drove by the Hillsville exit, I remembered the beautiful colors reminiscent of fall that I captured within the antique booths. But I continued to Lebanon, and I got to stay for a few extra days to hang with my family. Fall is here, folks. More about the weekend tomorrow.

I loved this chandelier for sale in Hillsville.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little Bit of Green

This past weekend, I went up to Georgetown with Niknak and other bridesmaids to pick out our bridesmaid dresses for her wedding next summer.  This is the inside of a mall we were in.  I love the sky lights, and of course, green is my favorite color.

Speaking of green, I never displayed my Hillsville flea market finds.  My Hillsville goal this year was to find a really cool cake plate/stand.  Little did I know that I would find the cake stand from the set of dishes I collect!  It took a bit of haggling to get this piece.  There was a pretty decent price on it, but as I waited until the end of the day to pounce upon the cake stand, I wanted a better deal (because a lot of the vendors were packing up, and that's how it's done, folks).  

Clearly, I need to work on my antique-haggling skills.  Basically, I low-balled the vendor who was selling the cake stand, and he got really mad at me for doing so, and thus, would not come down from his price.  After this happened, I had a flare up of obstinance and decided that I didn't want to give my business to someone like this vendor; after all, he could have just said no to my offer.  I was pretty bummed out because I wanted the cake stand.  Mom and Dad decided to check the booth out (on a mission to get my cake plate), and they came back with the thing about five minutes later, exclaiming the wonderful deal that they had received on it.  It was very sweet of them, and I am very happy to have it sitting in my kitchen!

When we walked into a section called the VFW (which has all the best antiques), I immediately spotted a set of six green glasses with white polka dots.  Four words:  love at first sight.  Then at another booth a few rows down the VFW, I randomly saw the matching pitcher to the set of glasses!  At the end of the day, I checked both booths to make sure all items had not been sold and then snatched up my treasures!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

Thoughts for today:

I am thinking about getting an MFA in Fiber Arts one of these days.

My bridesmaid dress for Niknak's wedding arrived today.

I have been drooling my way through Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich.  On that note, I'd like to share a clip from an email where my mom wrote, "I should probably be picking green beans right now, but chocolate comes first." Mom, thank you for imparting your love of dessert to me, I consider it an heirloom.

Leftover lasagna is wonderful.  I think because of my delicious pan of lasagna, I will have a Fall 2010 Casserole Extravaganza, rather than a soup extravaganza.  I love not having to cook every night. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

September Grass

This morning I woke up to the applauding sound of rain.  The September grass has been longing for it, and now, it has finally come.  The crisp chill of the hair-and-tree-rustling breeze has calmed for today, and it is raining.  Sometimes I am convinced that I was made for rainy days.  I love them. 

I've always heard that people talk about the weather when they have nothing to talk about, but this statement does not ring true in my family.  Every time I talk to my dad on the phone we chat about the weather, what it's been doing, what it's doing right now, what it's going to do (throughout the course of one day).  When I was in college, I volunteered at a student-run radio program called WTJU News.  I got involved when Niknak took the reigns as the program' director.  Over the course of two years, I did everything except write--edit, produce and announce.  I loved editing because that meant that I got to type up the weather report; while I don't remember any specific weather reports that I wrote, I always enjoyed making them colorful, seasonal and sometimes witty.  I love weather.  When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to be a tornado chaser just like Jo Harding.  And yes, Twister is in my top ten favorite movies of all time.   

Oh, and speaking of Niknak, we have already ordered our bridesmaid dresses for her wedding next spring!  I'm so excited!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's the middle of September. I can't believe how fast the time has flown by, my goodness. Yesterday I rode the train to D.C. to meet up with my Aunt C. visiting from Arizona. My train left at 7:20 a.m. yesterday from Charlottesville and I arrived at Union Station between 9:30-10:00 a.m. I feel mildly accustomed to riding the Metro in D.C., so I was planning to ride over to Metro Center and switch trains to go to the Smithsonian and meet Aunt C. at our designated meeting time. But alas, as I keep learning with every trip, a little wrench of some sort always gets thrown into the mix; I've come to expect unforeseen occurrences when traveling, especially when I go by myself.

Let me admit this: I was feeling kind of proud of myself when I rolled up to the train I needed to be on, as I'm not a city-slicker, and I was satisfied that I had gone to the right place without having to ask for directions. Then, an announcer came over the echoing intercom and mumbled a really long message. I felt like a new dentist, one that had yet to learn the art of discernment when patients converse with a mouthful of gear and Novocaine. So everyone got on the train anyway. Then the train never moved. Then there were security officers and policemen walking briskly by the train doors. Then I heard the words, "smoke," "tunnel," "Metro Center," and "emergency," and noticed many people swiftly exiting the train. I too got off the train because I began to feel alarmed, and then I walked outside of Union Station. I called a friend who told me how close I was to the National Mall and that I should walk. So I started walking, but because of all the trees, I couldn't even see the Washington Monument, so I called H. at work (oops!) and he helped tremendously by loading up a Google map and helping me get oriented. I kind of felt like an idiot when I cleared the trees and finally saw the monument because I knew where I was. Anyway, I got there, that's all that matters.

I met my Aunt C. on the National Mall and we went to the National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art. I learned that Aunt C. is as much of a drive-by-museum-goer as myself; we cruised through the museums with great speed. I don't have it in me to read all of the little captions with every object, I think it's very tiring.

Highlights of the National Gallery of Art museum (for me): depictions of dessert in art.
A cake painting, obviously.

Pie art.

My Uncle J. called Aunt C. while we were sitting in front of the Capitol Building and told us that there was an Appalachian National Mining Association protest happening, so we thought we'd check it out. I've always wanted to join a protest, and since my brother is a coal miner I thought I would represent.

Aunt C. and I in front of the Capitol Building.

We walked around to the back of the Capitol to see if the protest was still going on, but unfortunately it was not. But there was something else going on (Isn't there always something going on in D.C.?), and we wanted to see what it was, so we were walking toward the gathering of people. Well, one guard in the security guard harem who had a German Shepherd pointed at me with my little backpack I was carrying and yelled, "Search her backpack!" and then a huge officer jumped in front of Aunt C., I'd say his body was about 6 inches away from hers. I thought she was going to run into him, and we were merely walking. He was very cold and mean, told us that we were in a secured area and that we needed to leave. It was very alarming, and I thought his tone was quite unnecessary. He's the security guard that gives security guards a bad name. The upside: no one searched my backpack, so I don't know what the deal was with the other security guard pointing at me.

Aunt C. walking right before the officer jumped in front of her.

We wanted to go to into the Capitol Building, but when we went to their visitor center to get a pass (after strolling through the Library of Congress), we stumbled upon this unfortunate list. A note to all traveling knitters: do not take your knitting projects with you (as I did) if you want to go into the Capitol Building. What can I say, I wanted to knit on the Amtrak, geez.

All in all, Aunt C. and I had a wonderful day together. We shared many laughs and made new memories together that we'll never forget; it was a much needed day for me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At the Station

Today I have several photos to share. Yesterday I finished my first knitting project ever (the scarf I started in June), and it really did feel like a major accomplishment! Here are a couple of shots at the color variation and pattern:
Pattern: CO 30 stitches and work in garter stitch. Yarn: Prism Symphony Yarn (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon); Color: Sedona
Here's the yarn that my dad bought for me! I can't remember what type of yarn it is, but it is 100% wool...I will have to update this once I find the tag for it!
On Sunday afternoon, H. and I rode over to Staunton, VA to stroll around downtown. I love train stations, so I took some shots of the one in Staunton. Here are a few glimpses of what we saw:
White Star Mill
H. clerked for a couple of judges in this building a few years back:
The cosmetology school display window wasn't creepy at all, especially with the self-portrait of yours truly reflecting off of the window.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pink Houses

Yesterday, I bought some gorgeous dusty pink yarn on sale that would look yummilicious in this house; my yarn is a washed-out, creamier shade of the walls below. I love the pink marble columns in this room, as well as the entire blog post about the French Riviera. Check it out below. As far as the yarn is concerned, I want to make a hat and hand warmers with it.
The French Riviera via Cake, Couture & Cie Here is my new yarn:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Rogues of Wool

This past weekend I visited my family in Lebanon.  It was very good to see everyone; per the usual, Mom had wonderful food waiting on the stove when I walked in the door.  She also had another little surprise waiting for me...

Behold! I re-introduce Lucky to you, not as a savage, wilder'n a buck kitten, but as a domesticated-porch-residing cutie who loves to be petted and held by my Mom.  When Lucky isn't cat napping, er ,ruining the red-and-white-checked porch cushions for which Mom searched the earth dry a couple of years ago, he sits at the kitchen window and watches my mom.  He is adorable and if I had to guess, a little spoiled with all the half-and-half he's been consuming over the past few weeks.

Mom and Lucky:

What started as a Sunday crafternoon to hang out with good friends and work on projects has turned into an every Tuesday evening venture that we are fond of calling Crafterdinner.  Here's how it all began.  Back in May, I was invited to a bridal shower for Poochie, who got married on August 7, hosted by one of her bridesmaids S.  When I arrived at the shower, I had the Jill bag with me, and S. told me that she had made the exact same bag!  She then suggested a crafternoon since we were both sewers.  Well, crafternoon came into fruition sometime in July, right around the time I began knitting, and Poochie wanted to learn how to knit post-wedding project completion.  Nowadays, we call it Crafterdinner because we meet up post-dinner (on second thought, the name seems kind of obvious), and it has taken the form of a three-musketeers-esque knitting party. 

Friends, it is with great honor that I introduce the Crafterdinner Crew (from left to right:  Poochie, S. and me).
Photo taken by Poochie's hubby M.

Crafterdinner in action!
Photo taken by Poochie's hubby M.

 Obviously, S. is the most experienced knitter in our midst at Crafterdinner, look at her daisy stitch hand warmers!  

Poochie and I are looking forward to the many tricks she will impart to us from her brain full of knitting knowledge, and as an update, I am able to honestly say that I see the light at the end of the tunnel on my scarf.  I'm on the look out for a new, challenging project now; my dad was so sweet to buy me some new yarn at A Likely Yarn in Abingdon, VA when I was home visiting this past weekend.  I will have to take a picture of it to share; it's multicolored hand-painted 100% wool.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Garden Party

It is time to unveil my finished rag quilt!   This photo was taken prior to washing the quilt, as I had a fear that the colors would bleed in the washing machine, but alas, Shout's Color Catcher sheets kept it from doing so (since I didn't pre-wash the Rural Jardin fabric).

Beware of the Walking Rural Jardin Quilt!

Also, remember the brownie mosaic cheesecake that I made about a month ago

I should make this cheesecake again and eat a slice while sitting on my rag quilt somewhere outside...

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ya'll.  It's been way too long.  My little Junebug (iBook) is being stubborn and won't let me download my pictures onto it so that all the world can see my first quilt ever (the rag quilt that I previously  mentioned)!  The hand is much better, so I've been able to knit, and my scarf is actually beginning to resemble a scarf.  I may have to take a photo with the phone (which by the way, does it annoy anyone else that cell phones these days seem to do everything except send and receive telephone calls?), even though it won't be the best quality picture.  But I'm desperate here.  Technology:  friend or foe?  I seem to have a complex with blog-posting sans photos, but I need to get over that.

In knitting news, I spent a fantabulous day with Niknak over in Richmond on Saturday and taught her how to knit!  The yarn and needles she's using on her red scarf belonged to her grandmother.  Every time she wears the scarf, and even while she's working with it, she will be reminded of her grandmother, which I happen to think is awesome.  It's Niknak's heirloom scarf.  I am fascinated by the idea of heirlooms in general, how something becomes an heirloom, how an heirloom (no matter how small) can affect our memories of a person, place or time.

I have fallen in love with some yarn.  Is it possible, you're thinking?  Absolutely, especially when it's a dusty colored baby pink yarn with teensy weensy sequins woven into it that match the yarn's color.  And for the record, yes, I was a part of the 1990s Barbie generation.  Anyway, I'd like to make a dainty little scarf out of it to go with LBDs or something.  Or maybe I should just use the cream-colored one.  Or black!  So many decisions to make...All I know is that a fellow knitter friend of mine informed me that I'm about to fall into the knitter's trap, where many projects get started but few get completed.  I'm holding out until I finish my scarf, which measures over a yard at this point, so things are looking up, except for the lack of pictures in this post.  Happy Thursday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wrapped Up in Books

"This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat..."

I think I'm the last person in Charlottesville to check out this book from the local library, which would explain why I've been the nth person on the HOLD list for Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Regardless, I am in possession of it until August something (I never know the date, but the library is kind enough to send me a reminder email before it's due.).  Now that I've got the book I'm wondering what to make first!

My hand is feeling much better, although the muscle below and in between my index finger and thumb still remains swollen.  My knitting has come to a halt for now.  I hope to resume in the next couple of weeks depending on the status of my hand, but for now the "knitter's elbow" has overcome my ability to knit and not cringe. Enough complaining.

I am looking into making my very own "real" quilt, you know, with a front, back, batting and binding, etc..  I probably left some major components out, which is why I checked out some more quilting books.  I need a plan, materials, time and Boom! it will happen.  All I need to know is how to go about enforcing the plan, which is why I have the following books: 

1.  Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gfits by Joelle Hoverson (per a friend's recommendation)
2.  Colorful, Casual, & Comfy Quilts edited by Karen Bolesta (I love the quilt on the front; this is yet another instance of me judging a book by its cover.)
3.  Fat Quarter Quilts by M'Liss Rae Hawley (I wonder if that's her real first name...)

Hopefully something fruitful will come of this researching endeavor.  I am really interested in the idea of quilting by hand, and though I think it's a wonderful idea, I don't know how long it would take me to build a quilt using this method.  Probably a lot longer than the attention I have to maintain an interest in doing so.  An awful lot of plans just got mentioned in this post...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hand, singular.  It's out of commission in a, I've been knitting way too much kind of way.  I'm pretty bummed about it, seeing as I really want to finish my scarf.  I guess my hand isn't quite adapted to the knitting motion.

Last night I made this for a dinner party that H. is hosting tonight.  Filet mignon, asparagus, Yukon gold potatoes and brownie mosaic cheesecake.  I will be adding photos later to commemorate this cheesecake.  Because my hand is sore and throbbing in a, tickles-and-hurts-simultaneously kind of way, I have yet to make the ganache for the cheesecake, but if I don't get around to it prior to the party, I think it'd be okay.  The top of the cake alone looks divine.

Be back later to update.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Your Every Color

I am making a rag quilt (here is an example of one).  I went to Cottonwood during their big July 4 sale and got some of my favorite fabric ever:  Rural Jardin by French General.  Isn't it wonderful when you can hold out for a sale?  The collection has fantabulous blues, reds, creams and linens, with pops here and there of dandelion, peacock and pomegranate shades.  I have 2 squares each of 42 different prints, and in between each set of two identical fabrics will be a piece of cotton flannel for warmth.  What's cool about rag quilts is that you quilt each square as you go and then attach all the quilted squares to one another, and voila, a quilt is born!  The jury's out among the serious quilters regarding the legitimacy of rag quilts and calling them "quilts," but I don't really mind; a co-worker of mine made one for everybody at the office last year at Christmas and I love mine.  It's so cozy!

Progress report:  All the fabric is cut.  I need to lay out my design, then I need to piece together all 3 layers of each square and quilt them, which is the fun part.....I think.  I hope. 

Also, I'm pretty much obsessed with this image that I came across initially on Color Collective.  A lot of people suppose that kiddos are always drawn to the brightest, funkiest, craziest of colors, but I've found that quite the opposite is happening to me as I get older.  It's these combos that are always drawing my eye.  I'm baffled by color every day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Orange Crush

I was innocently walking around TJ Maxx the other day, when a red mechanical citrus juicer jumped off of the shelf and into my hand; it was the strangest thing...Seriously though, I have to restrain myself from going in stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx because they have all the fun-colored kitchen chotchkies everywhere.  And who doesn't need a lime-green colored tongs that tenderize meat as well (I don't know if such a thing exists, but it would be pretty cool, huh?)?  Anyway, I bought a juicer.  And I decided to make a mimosa.  Now I'd like to order a huge whole crate of juicing oranges from Florida because I am loving the fresh-squeezed orange juice.

A few years ago I visited some friends in New York City, and one of my favorite memories from the trip was drinking fresh squeezed O.J. from a Belgian breakfast joint in the Lower East Village.  The things we remember and why we remember them never ceases to amaze me.  Anyways, back to the O.J.  So good.  It makes me never want to buy orange juice from the store.  And the lever is so fun to operate; it makes me feel like I work at a 50's diner.  And I'm going to make hint-of-orange sweet tea-basically, you add a dab of orange juice and an orange wedge to a glass of ice and pour iced tea over it.  It blows my mind every time; the stuff is what killed Elvis! 

Knitting update.  Last night I started my first knitting class at The Needle Lady, which is conveniently located about three blocks from my office!  The owner Mimi taught the class and was a wonderful teacher, a very patient teacher, which I obviously needed.  Everybody in the class knew how to knit in some form or fashion, except for me.  I love to learn new things, but for about 20 minutes, I was seriously wondering if I could back out of the class; how could I take a 4-week class if I couldn't even knit?  Then, something in me just kind of "got it," it was a light bulb moment for me, and I began knitting away.  That's when Mimi got me started on my first knitting project:  I am making a scarf for myself.  One of my bosses saw my little 1.5 inch strip of knitted wool/nylon/cashmere and said that he thought it looked like a perfectly nice bookmark. Hopefully my creation will resemble a scarf the next time he sees it.  I'm going to be a knitting fool before you know it! 

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Last weekend I was in Lebanon visiting my famdamily.  Highlights included my mom's participation in a Russell County Community Yard Sale, her most profitable yard sale to date, and I also met the newest addition to the family:  Lucky.  My mom wrote a little story about Lucky, so I suppose she is my guest blogger today.  Read it below:

Lucky came into my life unexpectedly. After returning home from a trip to C-ville on Sunday, May 30, I retired for the evening. Very early Monday morning I was awakened by an animal sound outside. I first thought the sounds were made by a bird; then, I realized that I was hearing the cries of a kitten. I sprang from my bed and headed to the end of the deck where I spied a very small yellow kitten. Startled as it was, it quickly fled to safety under the deck out of my reach. I began to supply cat food immediately and went about my daily routine.

After going to bed, I was kept awake practically all night long by a motherless kitten’s cry. After arising to check on food supplies at approximately 4 AM, I began to hear what I thought was the bark of a fox outside my window. I went to the window to verify my suspicions, and there he was, just waiting to snatch the orphaned kitten.  I shooed the fox away but expected he might later return for his prey. So I began to pray.

For two days, I never saw or heard the kitten again. My heart sank at the thought of what had happened, but I continued to provide cat food thinking my dog Gracie was probably enjoying such a delicacy.

On Thursday afternoon, my husband F. suddenly exclaimed, “You won’t believe what I just saw!” You guessed it, that same little yellow kitten. Yes, “Lucky” had survived hunger, predators, rain, and loneliness. Lucky now resides on my front porch under the red geranium, but I have yet to catch him!

Here is the adorable Lucky, staring with envy into the kitchen at Mom and Dad's.  You'll have to excuse the poor quality of the photos, as I could only get pictures of him from inside.  He runs away if you get too close to the window...

Lucky plays on porch furniture.

Lucky boasts a pensive posture over Green Valley.