Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Michael ultimately won, but I've got to show my allegiance for Bryan since he co-owns VOLT Restaurant in Frederick which since it has been open garnered nothing but accolades from food & wine press. I've only been there for lunch a few times, but each time has been lovely. If you are ever in the Frederick area, let's make it a date!
And you should come to Frederick. I've got to brag on this little town. The downtown area is stellar with some great dining in addition to Volt as well as unique antique stores, boutiques, art galleries & more. The first Saturday of the month, stores & restaurants roll out the red carpet late into the evening for themed special events. Just a few weeks ago, Accessories of Old opened up downtown after moving from Bethesda giving vintage loving folks another haven of wonderfulness to drool over. (It's like a smaller Tinsel Trading!)
We first moved to Frederick because the housing prices were reasonable compared to areas closer to DC or Baltimore where we had been renting & the schools were decent. Very quickly, Frederick County worked its way into our hearts truly becoming home with all it has to offer and only a short drive (or Metro ride) to the major metropolitan areas.
The Top Chef attention has been exciting and a boon for Frederick. We don't 'know' Bryan or Michael, but we cheered them on and share in the excitement of our fellow neighbors. (I made the lime macaroons & those proved pretty special too)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Granny Panty Chic: Loopy for Christmas (and a giveaway)
I have two college students who are broke (and so are their parents), but they have the desire to give their friends (and their current squeezes) nice little gifts. With finals and their busy schedules, not only are they broke, but crunched for time as well.
When Heidi Swapp posted this super cool project with candles on her blog, Heidi Swapp Candle Project along with a quick instructional video, I thought it'd be fun to try it for myself, but now my son has asked me to pick up some candles for him to try his hand at as well. She used darling Santa brushes from House of Three. I printed out some images (including sheet music) I already had to try, got excited about the results and subsequently nearly cleaned Michael's out of their Christmas candles.
The best part for my college students is that each candle takes only a few dollars and 5 minutes or less to create.
Since these little projects too so little time, I had a few minutes to play at making a Christmas card.
Materials used: Oooooooooold Melissa Frances papers, text paper, vintage sheet music, creaft store poinsettias, Prima flower centers, Ranger Stickles and vintage glass glitter.
Friday, December 4, 2009
The slight twist is that I used paper taken from an old French book "Les Malheurs De Sophie" (The Troubles of Sophie) that I purchased at the Porte de Clignancourt flea market in Paris. I looked the book up on Wiki and found that a film & ballet had been based upon it as well which is kind of cool. (forgive some of my photos, I think my camera is about to die since it also flipped out on me over Thanksgiving)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Fresh arctic air. Brrrr, our balmy Autumn has finally decided to bid us adieu.
Here are some fun links for Christmas inspiration should you need it:
One Pretty Thing seeks out the best & brightest of the creative internet world. If you can't find inspiration here, we need to get you some CPR (Creative Pretty Restoration) quick!
Joli Paquet once again offers a vision of Christmas loveliness with new tutorials each Tuesday & Thursday as well as their coveted kits that will be offered tomorrow, Thursday December 3rd. Snap them up while you can. They are wildly popular.
Teresa McFayden is offering her yearly 12 Days of Comfort & Joy e-zine for subscription. Amy Hanna is a special guest artist and several downloads will also be made available throughout the duration of the e-zine. Wherever you see Teresa McFayden, you will see gorgeous ideas abound, so consider checking it out.
I'll be back tomorrow with a super simple tutorial straight from your childhood with a little vintage inspiration thrown in and a blog candy giveaway to complement the tutorial, so check back!
Sqeeeeee, only 22 days til Christmas!
Monday, November 30, 2009
We started off our trip with a ride on the Polar Express (Amtrak) from PA to NYC where we were able to relax, stretch out and enjoy the trip rather than the hair-raising rides I've had into NYC via car with hubby at the wheel. We kicked off the trip with a visit to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular before the main event of the parade.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I'm going to be sending her cards as I can put aside a few minutes to make them. If you would like to help, let me know or Jennifer know and we'll get you the info.
I think there is no question that ALL of us have had the ugliness of cancer touch our lives whether through the suffering of family & friends or through personal experience, but it can't take away our spirit & will to fight, to support one another and to find ways to creatively fight cancer.
Check out the Jennifer's Etsy blinkie to the right and join the fight!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Am I alone here? LOL
So, hubby and I don't often go to the movies. When we do we usually like one of the following:
1. Be a must-see on the Big Screen, i.e. movies like Iron Man (actually, I'll go see Robert Downey Jr on any size screen) or Lord of the Rings trilogy or most lately, Paranormal Activity.
2. Be an interesting independent or foreign film (which our town never gets). Comedies & dramas are usually saved until they come out on DVD unless we feel they are super special.
3. Have a movie pass or go to our favorite theater, Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, PA.
The Majestic Theater is almost too good to be true. We keep expecting to show up one night and find it closed. Nestled in downtown historic Gettysburg, the Majestic has converted part of its space into 2 small movie theaters that show independent & foreign films nightly for $7.50. Some seats are love seats. And they have a frequent customer card; buy 6 tickets and your next ticket is free. Can't beat that.
There are several decent places to grab a bite to eat within walking distance. Between the college students, tourists and natives griping about previously mentioned students & tourists, the people watching abounds.
But not all good movies have been Majestic only movies. If I watch a good one, I'm happy to give it a thumbs up.
Movies this year that were worth the ticket (or cable) price?
Bright Star ~ John Keats and Fanny Brawne as told by Jane Campion.
Adam ~with Hugh Dancy. If you enjoyed Lars and the Real Girl, you'll probably like this as well.
Sunshine Cleaning ~I first enjoyed Amy Adams in Junebug. Quirky & gritty, I liked it a lot.
500 Days of Summer ~Ahhh, almost perfect. Tried too hard in a few places, but on the whole about as good as it gets.
Food, Inc. ~Not a fictional film at all, but a thoughtful look at the business of food production. And before you think it's all hate on big biz, they actually paint Walmart (the favorite mega-villian) in a positive light.
Last but not least,
Taking Chance ~ If there were one film on here I'd recommend you watch, it would be this one. A thoughtful portrait into the journey home for a soldier lost in war. Hubby and I cried rivers throughout this one. Kevin Bacon does a powerfully understated performance here.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Then, I have a couple of fellow Fright Loving Fiends, er, I mean, Friends, who are really into the holiday, so I had to make them something right ?
Hubby and I were recently able to take in a little spirited fun. A couple of weeks ago, we went to an early showing of the movie, Paranormal Activity. I like to be on the edge of my seat for a good scary movie, but not slasher films. This is right up there in my top 3 Fright Flicks ever now. The others being The Changeling with George C. Scott and a toss up between The Ring or The Descent. Check out the trailer for Paranormal here: Paranormal Activity
Go see it and then lose some sleep like I did when hubby went out of town for a few days. You'd never imagine how many things so bump in the night when you're lying wide awake at 2:30 a.m. Bwahahahahaha....
Friday, October 16, 2009
We are still at the beginning of a very long journey.
But life goes on. It must.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A little over a week ago, we got the call a parent never wants to hear. My son had tried to harm himself. Thank God he wasn't successful in his attempt and has started to get help, but for now, each day feels as though we are breathing in heavy air. It's an intense labor we have no control over.
Hubby and I are tired. We each handle stress differently, so that is its own struggle.
Our daughters seem okay, but having been through similar situations, I know that 'not okay' is like milk simmering in a saucepan and 'okay' is the thin skin that forms at the top, easily broken.
I usually try to keep the blog on the light side, but in this case, I'd rather have all the prayer and thoughts I can muster for my child and my family rather than pretend that it's all 'okay'.
Monday, August 31, 2009
In August, when the garden is bursting, I've got to put in the work with the harvest while it's still going which has meant a very busy few weeks. Before, during and after regular work hours, I've been making tomato sauce, drying tomatoes, churning out pesto, roasting peppers, freezing veggies and more. This is what I get when I innocently plant a modest few plants around Mother's Day; paybacks for my naive ambitions.
But, it's therapeutic work. There's no denying, I've had a summer of the Drama Llama. Lots of situations out of my control, but which still very much effect me and those I love the most. Spending the time outdoors pulling weeds, propping up vines, picking fruit and bringing in the fruits of our labors opens up the mind to think, process and work outside the box.
This has meant precious little time to be artfully inclined in the tiny studio, but I feel no less creative when I'm chopping, stirring or tasting something that's been kissed by the sun and infused with great flavors. It's a different kind of process, but equally satisfying.
So, the tomatoes are still madly producing and the recipes keep coming...
First is one that uses the Tipsy Tomato Sauce as a base for Pizza Sauce. We make a lot of pizza and while some members of the family like less sauce and some like more, we all agree that this sauce is 'just right' for us. My son even took a jar to college with him last week.
1 3/4 C. Tipsy Tomato Sauce
1/2 C. tomato paste
2 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 ts. dried oregano or 1 ts. fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 ts. dried basil or 1 ts. fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 ts. sugar
1/4 ts. salt
Place all ingredients in a blender and process for 15 seconds or until smooth. If you have them, in the summer use fresh herbs. The fresh basil, most especially, makes a difference in the flavor of the sauce, but dried always works. It's pizza sauce; not the Holy Grail.
Another great recipe is for Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes. This one comes from the tomato recipe collection I talked about with the first tomato recipe post. With some farm fresh corn and whatever protein you throw on the grill, this rounds out a very nice meal with full flavor...
Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes
2 large, firm tomatoes
3 T. dry seasoned bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 ts. fresh basil, chopped (just a leaf or two)
2 ts. fresh parsley
1/4 C. grated mozarella
2 T. butter, softened
Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Combine the remaining ingredients and pack into the tomato cavities. Place on aluminum foil cute side up and grill for 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and the cheese is melted.
~I've changed up the song playlist with some Back to School stuff. Am I imagining or did I feel the first cool, crisp hint of Fall in the air this morning?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We are blessed with an abundance of fantastic food in downtown Frederick, MD, among the best is Volt Restaurant. Wonderfully fresh, seasonal food from local sources. If you are ever in the area, check it out!
He's competing against his brother, Michael, too! No matter what high drama may ensue, the food at Volt is always a pleasure. If you get the chance, check it out!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Busy day today, but I do have this simmering on the stove and it smells GOOD!
This is how you get sweet revenge upon a few killer tomatoes...
Tipsy Tomato Sauce
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 C. olive oil
15 large tomatoes
2 C. red wine
12 oz. tomato paste
1 1/2 ts. salt
1/2 ts. pepper
4 ts. Italian Seasoning (Pizza Magic if you can find it)
Saute the onions, garlic and olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes, in a large pot. Rough chop the tomatoes and add to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced & thickened to your liking. I keep it simmering for hours until it's super thick and rich.
Freeze in pint jars or keep in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
We use this in so many ways: add a few more spices to create pasta sauce, pizza sauce, add some to soups & stews, make a marinara or use it as is for a mild, richly flavored sauce.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
What a testimony of faith that those who would begin the cathredral would carry on their life's work and pass away, knowing their vision would not be fulfilled within their lifetime, but knowing the vision was true and worth their sacrifice.
We were able to take a guided English tour throughout the cathredral which greatly expanded our understanding beyond any guidebook or poor interpretation of French signage. I had not comprehended all that had happened within these walls from its inception, to the destruction during the Revolution, to Napoleon being crowned as Emporer by the Pope and beyond.
This window is one of only a few original stained glass windows left in Notre Dame.
You are looking at art that is very nearly a thousand years old. Now picture the course of civilization over the span of a 1000 years that this window has endured... In order to go up to the bell tower and scale the heights of Notre Dame is another trip altogether with an enormous and excruciatingly slow line. Not knowing if I would ever return, I convinced hubbie to wait with me. (in front of us was in Italian family with twins who were fascinated that I have no pinky toenails. my college Italian still tries to hang on, hehehe)
A few hundred steps later, we come to the first level...Great views of Paris beyond...after a hundred or so more steps...the Chimera and Gargoyles I had previously only seen in photos (oh wait, that's the hubbie!) Rubble that has fallen from Notre Dame over the years lying abandoned...The back of Notre Dame, just a thoughtfully designed as the rest of the cathredral, but a photo without the hundreds of tourist (myself among them)...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Finally I was able to sit down and play with all of this fun stuff and made a sweet card using only goodies from the blog candy stash (except for 2 Stickles colors)...Even the bird stamp, inks and flower punch were in this box. And some of the paper is embossed or blinged ~ Love it! Made the card into a circle by using the old standby Creative Memories circle cutter. After folding my cardstock in half, I cut the circle leaving one side of it over the edge to maintain the crease of the card. Thank you Rosemary and Jana for a most fun collection of artsy crafty inspiration!
Now, about those tomatoes....
We've come to that wonderful time of year, long after the first exciting summer BLT, when we have more tomatoes than meals or time to deal with them. I've yet to start making tomato sauce, but that will be in the works this week. If you have more tomato plants than sense (like me), you may find yourself in a similar predicament. There are 2 ways to handle this; when you go to work, the gym, etc, bring bags of tomatoes and stash them in unlocked cars. One a particularly warm day, the lucky recipients will already have stewed tomatoes for dinner that night. Or get creative with your tomatoes.
I'm trying hard to choose the latter. Long ago and far away when AOL was still a baby, there were super-active gardening boards. I've always enjoyed playing in the dirt and the gardening boards were my first stop each day. We traded tips, stories and in late summer when the harvest overtook us, recipes.
The boards have been long gone since the Plant Nazis chased us out (another story for another day), but the recipes remain. One summer, everyone contributed their favorite tomato recipes which turned into a huge file that had to be emailed to us in 2 installments. That tomato stained file is one of my favorite places to turn to when looking for inspiration. Seeing the names of the contributors also brings back great memories of trading gardening wisdom and anecdotes.
I'll try to post tomato recipes throughout the rest of tomato harvesting season to help anyone else with a kitchen that's been overtaken by the summers bounty a little inspiration.
First up is a recipe for Italian Bread Salad. During the summer, we always seem to have all the ingredients on hand, making this a quick summer treat.
Italian Bread Salad:
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 C. croutons or stale bread cut into squares
1/4 C. feta cheese
4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Put the croutons or diced bread in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Place the tomaotes on top of them and gently toss. Add cucumber, feta and basil. Lightly toss. Dress with vinegar and oil to taste. Salt and pepper to taste (the feta and balsamic adds a lot of acidity & saltiness, so start light on the salt). Tastes best if it sits about 15-30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.