Celebrating the next Mrs. K

I’m going to be a mother! -in-law (again). This time to a daughter (-in-law)!

Our son married in early June. His bride is a sweetheart. They’ve been together for a number of years now, she is already a part of our family, and very loved. So, when they became engaged I looked forward to the parties and celebrations. Beginning with the Bridal Shower.

Now this bridal shower has already happened. Heck, the wedding happened, too, and I’m already recovered. My spring has been so busy that I had to let some things go. So here’s a recap, beginning with the shower:

I have to tell you, she had to be talked in to letting someone throw her a bridal shower.


This is the girl who is loves doing things for others: sending cards, doing special things, you know, going the extra mile … just because she cares. She didn’t think she wanted a shower. Fortunately, one of the bridesmaids twisted her arm a bit and it was settled.

I was thrilled to be asked if it could be in our home. YES!

My husband and I emptied our family room of the furniture and moved in tables and chairs for the guests, as well as tables for the food. We’ve had so many parties in this room. It’s a bit rustic – white walls and floors with  an open rafter ceiling and it just feels good.

Family Room Rafters and Birds

The tree branch gets decorated with birds in the spring and summer

We decided on a brunch and had a bit of a winery theme as the wedding and reception, both, will be at wineries. I set up the room with the tables and chairs (ahem, Wayne played a major role in that) and volunteered to do the menu and cooking (my preference). A couple of the bridesmaids took the lead on the decorations and a mimosa bar.

Let me show you

Bridal Shower

It was a brunch buffet

This is Rachel Ray's Mostly Meat Cobb Salad. DELICIOUS.

This is Rachel Ray’s Mostly Meat Cobb Salad. DELICIOUS.

I was so happy I served the blue cheese on the side, the guest of honor is allergic to blue cheese! I didn’t know! (plus, expectant ladies don’t eat certain types of cheese). The fruit kabobs were delicious and so pretty. Did you see that giant wine glass filled with donut holes?


Orange Muffins

 Making these muffins with freshly squeezed orange juice makes all the difference.


Yoghurt Parfaits.

These little parfaits are one of my favorite things! I keep these little jars around for parties for just this type of thing. You make these the night before and just set them out the morning of. They’re healthy and so good. If there are leftovers, they keep in the fridge for days!



I used whatever I could to give the tables a rustic flavor. I’m using an old milk carton to give height to the parfaits and an antique chenille quilt for a table cloth.

The morning of the party I still hadn’t made little sign for the dishes. I had left over labels that I stamped with an engagement ring stamp and wrote the dish name on it. I’d cut a slit in corks and glued them in, sliced the bottom of the cork so it’d lay flat. Ta-Da!


I made glitter handled spoons with engagement ring tags and a talented friend made the cookies for the guests to take home.

There was a wonderful game, He Said/She Said where we had to guess who said the given quote (terribly sweet!) and then a sheet where the guests could write sweet wishes for the couple. As party favors, I ordered these beautiful cookies from a friend and I made the glitter handled wooden spoons. I got the tutorial from the Something Turquoise blog. You can find the tutorial here. They were so beautiful. Sorry, this table setting photo just doesn’t capture it. (It does, however, capture how I didn’t press this table cloth!!)

And then it was gift opening time! And you know the saying is that you have as many children as broken ribbons for your bridal shower? Let me just say that if you register someplace that has tulle as ribbon, breaking ribbons isn’t easy!


This ribbon will NOT break!


There’s more than one way to “break” that ribbon!

It was a wonderful morning filled with laughter and we all got to show the bride how loved she is.

And the celebrating isn’t over yet. There are still a couple more parties that have to happen. The rehearsal dinner and the WEDDING!


 I think she’s ready!

I can’t wait to tell you about the Rehearsal Dinner. SO.MUCH.FUN!

Categories: Come sit in my kitchen, My hands at work | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Best Quiche Ever

Zucchini Quiche

Zucchini Quiche (aka The Best Quiche Ever)

I’ve hosted and participated in many bridal showers, baby showers, and brunches. If there’s ever a request or need for a quiche – or any egg dish for that matter – I bring out the big guns. This was even served at my daughter’s wedding, which had a brunch reception. This was served most recently at a bridal shower I hosted for my daughter-in-law-to-be. As usual, there were lots of requests for the recipe.

So, here you go. Enjoy and spread the love.

Categories: Come sit in my kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Catching Up


Hey there stranger!

Yep, it’s been a while. A long while. I started writing and  ‘splaining why, but, I’ve decided, you know, let’s just wait until I have the right words. BUT, I WILL say right away, like the phone call in the middle of the night, “Everything’s okay”. Well, everything’s mostly okay, some things are even good!

Here’s some of the good stuff – I have been having SO much fun working on a few things!

I signed up and participated in a couple of swaps. TWO! They both were mailed out today! A swap is where everyone makes the same thing, with their own personal spin, and it’s all anonymous. The organizer divvies out the names – you don’t who is making yours, and your partner doesn’t know who is making theirs. Some are national, others are international. Fun, huh?

The first swap is a Skinny Pinny Swap, hosted by Amy Made That! You can see all of the sweet pinnies on Flickr here. It’s a cute little pincushion that fits so conveniently and neatly next to the front of your sewing machine.

Here is my first prototype, the one I made one as a trial.

Skinny Pinny Prototype

I made mine a little bigger and customized with a bit of piecing. The back has just a little piecing, too!


 The ground walnut shells I filled them with keeps them heavy and stable. The pins don’t go all the way through, either.

Pouring Ground Walnut Shells into the pincushion

Pouring Ground Walnut Shells into the pincushion

Here’s the one I made for my partner. I was told she likes red.

Bonnie Christine and linen with appliqued flower and embroidered stems

Bonnie Christine and linen with appliqued flower and embroidered stems


Seeing all angles, front and back.

I love that little trim. I picked it up at a LQS when I was staying at a friend’s house in South Carolina last summer. What a great little place!

I also signed up for a Triple Zip Pouch Swap. I’ve always liked making pouches and this one looked challenging and super fun! I will make this one again and again!!

The swap was hosted by A Quarter Incher. There is a free tutorial for the pouch by A Quilter’s Table that everyone used, but you wouldn’t believe how different they all looked from one another, with the different preferences of what people wanted added to the different styles of the sewists making them. Again, there is a Flickr group that you can see all of the talented sewists. Ah-mazing!

As I always try to do, I made a protype using a combination of some great Japanese fabric a friend gave me, new pieces, and even some vintage fabric.

This was my first attempt at the Triple Zip Pouch. Not bad, but I wanted to make the zips and fabrics a bit more straight.

This was my first attempt at the Triple Zip Pouch. Not bad, but the zips and fabrics were just a bit wonky. No bueno.


Here’s what I made for my partner:

Here's the cut pieces and zips. I used the crossword fabric as the lining throughout the pouch

Here’s the cut pieces and zips. I used the crossword fabric as the lining throughout the pouch


I, again, added a bit of hand embroidery to the main body fabric. (and what do you think about that background fabric? That’s a funky green chair in my office at work!)


Almost ready to go!

Almost ready to go!

I took some felt and embroidered a little hexie to match the honeycomb of the pouch fabric on the bookmark of the moleskin book so it was embellish just a bit. I almost kept that little scissors stamp – too cute! And then I found a washi tape with scissors, too. Perfect! I added some dark chocolate truffles and wrapped it up in a sweet handmade paper envelope. I hope she likes it.

Wanna see what I received? Not to be too dramatic, but I hit the jackpot, ya’ll! I’d favorited her Flickr picture of it when she first showed what she was doing on the Flickr group!! What great fabric and all of that piecing!  Do you see the little zip charms? I love every inch of it! And the goodies she stuffed that sweet bag with! So generous!! Thank you, Heather!! I wish I could give you a hug in person!!

OMGosh! This was one of my very favorites! How did I get so lucky? And do you see all of those thoughtful goodies? I almost cried!

OMGosh! This was so much fun opening!



Last weekend I hosted a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law-to-be! Eek!!! I can’t wait to show you pictures and tell you all about it. The decorations. The food. It was a great brunch for our sweet ChaCha. It was wonderful honoring and celebrating her. Amidst the crazy winter we’ve had, the day was glorious, reaching into the 60’s. It took a lot of planning and work, but it was totally worth it. She and my son marry in June.

I also bought some great fabric from Fabric.com for curtains in my bedroom that is a very modern print in indigo and grey, a favorite color combo. So excited to update that poor bedroom. It’s been too long! That’s on my ‘very soon’ list.

There is so much more going on, and I just can’t talk your ear off with everything, so I’ll share more next time.

I’m so glad to be sharing my fun stuff with you again.

Thanks for letting me lie low for a while and being here now that I’m sticking my head up again.

Grace. Right?

It’s good to be back.


Categories: My hands at work | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

My living Snow Globe plus a Giveaway!

We have a winner!  Congratulations to Raina for winning the Burlap Christmas Stocking and bunting!!

My favorite gifts are the handmade ornaments my kiddos make each and every year in school.

We had comments from all over the globe with wonderful memories of Christmas pasts (and some good ideas for Christmas future, eh?). Again, thanks to everyone for participating. I wish I could tell you face-to-face how much I enjoyed this giveaway and your memories. It was great.


I have friends who lament all summer about the heat and wanting scarf weather. Well, summer is over and we are in the midst of a white winter here in the middle of the U.S. It started on Thursday with snow coming down in a blizzard-y fashion that evening and continuing for 24 hours. The result was a beautiful snow globe of a world that kept us off the roads (hopefully, as the roads were treacherous). Schools closed. Businesses closed. Even MY workplace closed! So, my day was spent making sure animals were taken care of and our sidewalks were clear. In the midst, I  a wonderful cup of hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows. YUM.

Here are a few shots of what it meant for us here in southern Illinois the next morning:


This is my back yard, where you can see through the woods and up the hill. This is the ONLY time you can see through the woods!

A snowy gate into my garden

The door to our screened room belonged to my husband's grandmother. It was a joy to install it. The snow blew through the screen into the room. It's now my large walk-in freezer!

Can you see the bird tracks? It's like it said, "Uh, no thank you!"

One of our beautiful large pines that is a windbreak to our home

One way in. One way out.

This is the day after the snow had fallen. It drifted in many places, so the depth was surprise at every step


Are you still with me?

I want you to check out the Giveaway I’m participating in over at Sew Mama Sew! This event is AH-MAZING!

This is in the Handmade Category and I’ve made a burlap Christmas Stocking (or sock as some call it) with a velvety gold cuff. It’s lined with a muslin cotton and embellished with a pretty gold bow with a little bling. Inside, you’ll find that I’ve added a burlap bunting that reads Merry Christmas in red. You may even find a peppermint stick with other Christmas treats inside!


A beautiful Burlap Christmas Stocking and a Merry Christmas Bunting


Waddya think? It’s full size, measuring 14″ from cuff to heel. It will hold all kinds of goodies! The Merry Christmas bunting is 64″ from “M” to “S”. I hope you like them, I do!

To win, tell me, what is your favorite-est gift you’ve ever gotten in your stocking? Are stockings even part of your tradition? You don’t have to be a follower, but if you are, enter a second comment letting me know and that’ll count as a second entry. The giveaway ends on December 13th at 5 p.m. I’ll contact the winner and have it sent out soon thereafter. I am willing to ship internationally for this giveaway, however, I can’t promise it’ll get there by December 25th if an international winner is selected.

Also, make sure you head over to Sew Mama Sew and check out the other giveaways. It will truly make your head spin!!

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you stopping by and visiting.

Merry Almost Christmas!


Categories: My hands at work, Outside my window | Tags: , , , , , , | 118 Comments

Our Poultry Aviary

Del is a Delaware breed. She is one of the more dominant hens.

Del is a Delaware breed. She is one of the more dominant hens.

It seems to be a ‘thing’ around here where I live.


Free range, organic, local. These are all key words that are equated with being conscientious, healthy, and proactive. Some elevate these things, other snicker and scoff.

Well, for me, these are good things and I support them. The thing is, eating and living this way is expensive. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

And I love eggs.

And I am an animal lover.

I’m thankful for my husband, because if I lived alone, I could become one of ‘those crazy ladies’. He sets boundaries for me.

I have a lot of friends that have gotten chickens lately. As in the last 2-5 years.

We live in a university town, with lots of rural space in the outlying area.

My girlfriend, Kathy, has kept chickens for a while and she knew I was thinking of getting a couple. They had a pre-fab coop and since they were getting a newer, bigger one, they offered us there first one. And they also had a couple of chickens we could fill the coop with.

How can it get better than that?

I wanted to name them Hagar and Tamar (it’s up to you to figure out why), but settled with Ophie and Evie.

But then … (here’s where the story gets a little complicated and isn’t very short)

Evie turned out to be  Everett (no bueno), so I found a home for him. I wasn’t ready nor did I have room for a rooster.

Did you know chickens aren’t loners? They’re not. They don’t do well alone.

So I got a couple more young ones. These two never seemed to ‘take’ to me. I tried, but they would NOT let me be their friend. So I planned to give them to another girlfriend.

And when I heard of a woman who had lost her lease to a barn and she needed to find a new home for hens, I contacted her.

She liked me and I liked her hens. And we arranged to bring them home.

TWELVE of them. Many different breeds – so colorful. So fun and exciting.

So, I gave the two young ones away.

But there was no way those twelve would fit in the little coop we had.

And that little coop? It was place inside our dog pen, which was displacing the dogs, of course.

So, my man began building.

And boy can he build. He’s built our Pergola, our screened room, my garden and compost bins. He’s done wonderful things inside our home, too.

In making the coop plans, we joked about what we’d call it. We have a history of having silly names for things. For our chicken coop, we decided to call it a Poultry Aviary. We’d have ‘activities’ for the hens, etc. etc. Of course, he built with the hope I’d get bored or tired of hen raising after a couple of years and he could convert it to a garden shed.

We’ll see.

But, with the little coop not being big enough, we asked our friends to be foster parents to the 12 until the coop was finished.

I told them they could keep the eggs. They kept some, but shared them with us. We fed them along with theirs. That was the least we could do.

We brought the hens home to roost in their ‘real’ home just two weeks ago. They’d been at our friends’ house for 3 months. It’s been an adjustment, but everyone seems happy now. The coop is 90% done. We just need to add windows and finish some trim, and that’ll come soon.

But, for now, we have a baker’s dozen in hens.


Our lucky number.

(for realz – our two children were both born on Friday the 13th – just different years)

True story.

So, here are some pictures of the progress. I’ve captioned them if you’re interested in details.

Ask questions if you have any.

And, you can laugh at me. My dad does.

That’s okay, ’cause I got me some fresh and beautifully colored eggs, ya’ll.

Do you have any interest in chickens?





Categories: Outside my window | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Shortbread Cookies & Another Cookbook Review

The Keepers. Cookbooks and Recipes from the past.

Shortbread Cookies

I wrote a post recently about wanting to share some of my favorite recipes in some of my favorite cookbooks. I’m a hoarder collector, people. I love cookbooks.



(Sorry for the blur)

One thing about me – I write in books. I write my name. I often write the date/year I get a book. I underline, comment, highlight, make notes in my books. Whether it’s a novel that has a great quote, an instruction book that has key instructions I want to remember, the Bible (which I even have in the journal form with large margins), and my cookbooks. I write what event I might make something for – and for whom. I write ‘yuck/gross/do not repeat’ if it was a waste of time, money, and energy, and ‘DELICIOUS’ if I want to make this over and over.

This cookbook was one of many wonderful gifts I’ve received from my friend, Dawn. She is professionally trained but was a great cook even before school, but beyond being a good cook, she is an amazing baker and candy maker. You should check her out here. One of the many things I love about Dawn is that she writes in books, too. Well, she writes in cookbooks she’s given me, at least.

I love seeing what my cookbook authors look like. And look at that recommendation!

I love seeing what my cookbook authors look like. And look at that recommendation!

How can you tell if one of my cookbooks is a good one or not?

It’s dirty. Dirty with spatters of batter, drops of vanilla extract, flour dusted onto the pages.

I have two favorites in this book, but the one I want to share today is going to be pretty handy in the upcoming weeks. Shortbread cookies. The recipe calls them hearts, and I’ve cut them into hearts before, but you cut them into whatever shape you want them. I often cut them into squares or rectangles. Don’t confuse them with Sugar cookies, though. These are traditional shortbread, meaning they’re a butter cookie with a little sugar, not a sugar cookie with a little butter (or shortening).


Throughout the book there are little quotes written in, as well as detail about the recipes. It’s been out for many years now, so you may be able to find it in a used book store if you don’t want to pay full price. Even with the photo above giving the full recipe, I’ve written it out for you below.

I’ll give you two tips that I always keep in mind when I make these cookies: 1) Use good butter. Yes, there is such a thing, and since you can really taste the butter, make sure that the butter has a delicious fresh flavor, and 2) I sprinkle the cookies with a superfine sugar. I’ve tried regular granulated (works fine) and coarse sugar (works not as well), and superfine. This one creates a dusting of glimmer and sweetness, which seems perfect to me.

I hope you make them. I hope you love them. My husband surely does. And I love to make them for him.


Do you have this cookbook? Do you have a favorite shortbread recipe? Even if you do, make this one and compare. And let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Come sit in my kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Swap: My first and not my last


(or why you should talk your best friend into hosting one)

(or why you should talk your best friend into hosting one)

So, some time mid-summer, I had this great, new idea! Um, well, not true, this is not new, and it certainly wasn’t my idea. BUT! While I was hanging out with Facebook I happened upon an article and started reading about these Food Swaps. They are happening all over the states (think BIG cities – Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis), Europe and … well, ALL OVER! WHY hadn’t that happened in my town? We’re the PERFECT place and people for it! (university community, large supporters of eating and supporting the EAT LOCAL movement, people who preserve, grow, distill …). I’m an owner at our local food co-op, I’m a member of a church that is one of the larger ones in the community. I’m around people, ya’ll! and I’ve never heard of it happening here! I HAD heard of, hosted, and participated in Cookie Exchanges around Christmastime. You know, when everyone brings so many dozens of home baked cookies and go home with a variety of others’ cookies. It’s great during the holidays, but only if you’re having or going to parties. These hips don’t need those kinds of things laying around the house tempting me. They sure are fun to go to, but not nearly the fun of a Food Swap.

It’s a Swap. An Exchange. A Trade. Your goods for theirs.

Here’s how it works: whatever it is that you make (i.e. cook, preserve, grow, forage), you bring them packaged, wrapped, bottled (depending on what you’ve made) and you have it at a table with a card for interested traders to ‘bid’ on it. Instead of bidding with money, they bid with the food they brought to trade.  You both have to want one another’s items. You take in to consideration your likes, your needs, your food allergies (if any), and make your decision if it was a yes or no. The biggest thing I worried about was that someone would get their feelings hurt. Well, that and if anyone else would be interested in participating in it. So, I began by asking people who cooked, grew, preserved, foraged, if they would be interested. When it seemed that a few would be, I scheduled it. I printed up information sheets, sample exchange cards, started a group on Facebook with a link to a Food Swap that had a few pictures as examples. I invited twice the people I thought we needed, which was good because not everyone can make the same date, and there are always a few that cancels out the last minute. So, if you ever want to host one, plan on no shows and cancellations. It happens. I had it at my house, it was only 2 hours long, and when it was over it was, as one person said, like leaving a gourmet food store with an amazing bag of goodies. I invited people to decorate their space, if they wanted. To keep it simple if they wanted. There was one guy, and I was so glad he came (I think he was, too), and the rest were women. The array was wonderful! We tasted, mingled, asked questions, and began to swap. So, sit back and and feast your eyes …

Artichoke Lemon Pesto

Artichoke Lemon Pesto


They roast their own coffee beans! (the mug is totally mine)

They roast their own coffee beans! (the mug is totally mine)


Tomato Jam (sampled with fresh ricotta) and Pie Crust (made with organic butter & locally made lard)

Tomato Jam (sampled with fresh ricotta) and Pie Crust (made with organic butter & locally made lard)


Pickled Goodies with samples!

Pickled Goodies with samples!

Amish Bread

Amish Bread


She grew it, dried it, ground it, then bottled it in this lovely jar. Did YOU know it was naturally green? I didn't either.

She grew it, dried it, ground it, then bottled it in this lovely jar. Did YOU know it was naturally green? I didn’t either.


One of my contributions. Stone Ground Mustard.

One of my contributions. Stone Ground Mustard.

Vanilla Extract made with Rum last year. Aren't these little bottles with screw tops great?

Vanilla Extract made with Rum last year. Aren’t these little bottles with screw tops great?


No. I'm not swapping him.

No. I’m not swapping him.


Sampling everyone's items was not only fun, but you get to taste it before you take it home. So much better than the grocery store!

Sampling everyone’s items was not only fun, but you get to taste it before you take it home. So much better than the grocery store!


This is what your bounty might look like when you leave. I mean, really, it can't get any better than this!

This is what your bounty might look like when you leave. I mean, really, it can’t get any better than this!

There were lots more items, but some of the pics were blurry. And I need to start asking permission before I post pictures of my peeps. So, how do you get started in planning your own Food Swap?

  1. Research what you want it to ‘look’ like. If you’re interested, you can check out my Pinterest page here. You can even follow me, if you’d like. I’d love the company.
  2. Talk to friends and tell them about it. Get them excited!
  3. Pick a date! I chose a Saturday morning. 10am – Noon. It gave me enough time to get the room ready and have the rest of the day for whatever!
  4. Put together ‘packets’. Have a Q&A sheet and perhaps a sample or two of swap cards. I found The Food Swap Network most helpful with all of this.
  5. Some people charge a fee ($2-$5-$10). If you have to pay for your space, to cover your expenses for advertisement, paper and copy costs, etc. Try to get someplace free – like the library, a local church, etc. I hosted mine in my home, but I knew everyone. I don’t know that I would have if it was mostly strangers.
  6. Get a friend to help. It’s always more fun and it’s half the work.
  7. Start up a group page someplace like Facebook. You can send out reminders, teasers, and give them a forum to ask questions.
  8. Wear your big girl (or guy) pants. People will cancel, there will be no-shows. You might question whether it was a good idea, if you were the right person, if you even have any friends at all. Nonsense. Keep asking until you’re sure getting the number of people that feels right. My goal was 8-20. Less than 8, I would’ve been disappointed. More than 20 and I would’ve been a nervous wreck.
  9. Make some of your awesome goodness. Do you preserve? Make butter? Bake breads? Make herb wreaths? Flavored oils? Whatever is ‘your thing’, make a few to swap. You don’t need to make enough for everyone who’ll be there, just make ‘a batch’. You can always take more one thing. I made three (mustard, marshmallows, and vanilla extract). Do not ‘mess yourself up’ by doing too much. Tell others that, too. Don’t exhaust yourself so you won’t want to do one again.
  10. HAVE FUN! These are awesome, great ways to enjoy wonderful foods without all of the cost and work.

So, what do you think? Have you been to one? Would you like to plan a Food Swap in your area? If you do, I’d love to hear about it. I’m already planning the next one – maybe you’d like to come.

Categories: Come sit in my kitchen | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Chocolate Mousse Cake

The Keepers. Cookbooks and Recipes from the past.


A chocolate lover's dream

A chocolate lover’s dream


What makes you a great cook – or baker? It’s great recipes! If you can follow a recipe, understand the instructions, well, that’s half of it. The other half is knowing a great recipe when you see it. Or, at the very least, you know (i.e. TRUST) the recipe author.

And boy do I have some great recipes!

I don’t have any idea how many cookbooks I have, or how many clipped or printed or saved-on-the-computer recipes I have, but it’s a lot! I have some really great cookbooks, and a few I’ve gotten in the last couple of years, but I have lots of old, worn out cookbooks that are just too good to get rid of. I write notes in them, but more so you can tell how good the recipes are by how messy and dirty the recipe page is!

This poor book has been used so much it’s falling apart!


So, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite-est recipes and cookbooks.

Today is a cookbook that I’ve had forEVER, and it looks like it, too. It’s a paperback cookbook and it didn’t cost me very much.

I KNOW it’d cost more today that when I first bought it

Plus, it’s fun to look at old cookbooks because you can see how times have changed

You can tell this lady is from the 70’s

When looking at a book, you get a hint of what kind of author you’re reading by their dedications and appreciations.

I love it that they were influenced by Julia, Jacque, and other wonderful chefs


So, when we found out old friends who’d moved away would be back in town, we invited them for dinner and to stay overnight. I wanted to make something that wouldn’t be too time consuming but tasty. I knew one thing we all loved was chocolate and so decided on that for dessert. Out comes my trusty Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe. You can see where I’ve written in it, set wet vanilla extract bottles on the page and splattered chocolate batter on it. HA! Dead giveaway!


This is recipe has never let me down

We had a great dinner of roasted thick cut pork chops with roasted sweet potatoes and apples with rosemary and a lovely apple cider sauce. We sat and talked for a while, catching up. Then I asked if anyone was ready for dessert – uh, yes, please!



We ate outside in our screened room. We have little lights strung high and one of those outside heaters that we had on for the crisp, cool, all night. It wasn’t Italy … but it could’ve been.




Yes, dinner was great, but what we loved most was sitting for hours with our friends. We laughed and talked and talked and talked. It was wonderful.

So would you like to make this for you and your best-est friends? If you do make it, write me, I’d love to hear back from you. How did it turn out? More importantly, did you enjoy making it, and then sharing it with people you love? And will this become one of your old favorites, too?

I sure hope so.



Categories: Come sit in my kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I don’t have gadgets. I have tools.

Sew Mama Sew has asked peeps for reviews on their sewing machines. All of the questions they wanted answered are sprinkled throughout the post. I hope you enjoy hearing uh, reading about it her. There is no compensation for this (but wouldn’t that be sweet?).

As one who is known more for her cooking than her sewing, I’m also known for the tools in my kitchen. They are old, new, common, extravagant, inexpensive, and not-so-much. By some claims I have a lot, but at least they’ve not signed me up for the show ‘Hoarders’ … yet. I believe in having the right tool for the right job. Now did I get that from my dad? Perhaps my husband? At any rate, it sounds very male, but I’m a firm believer.

In my studio, I feel the same way. Have the right tool for the right job. I was a sewist who hadn’t sewn in years, having moved on from costumes and curtains to the holiday Bûche de Noël, Italian Buttercreams, and cuisines from across the globe. I discovered foreign cuisines and specialty dishes and I still love the challenge of creating something delicious in my kitchen. I have plans to show you some of those tools, but not today. I’ll need to break you  in slowly. Ha!

Today is about my studio work horse. She is one I wasn’t so sure about in the beginning, but she has converted me, convinced me, and won my heart.

Sophia 2

I have a sewing table that fits onto my Sophia2. It helps to stabilize my fabric as I sew

I have a sewing table that fits onto my Sophia2. It helps to stabilize my fabric as I sew

I’d not sewn in years, the old Singer I had stored away for many years had rusted (it was never a quality machine but did what I needed at the time) and when the LQS said it was worth less than it would cost to clean it, I knew I’d need a new one. My first move was to buy a refurbished Brother sewing machine on-line and had to return two of them due to problems in the machines. I requested my money back, got it, and looked locally. I decided on a Baby Lock Sophia 2 sewing machine. She is the smallest of all the embroidery machines that Baby Lock offers. I wasn’t even convinced I wanted the embroidery function, but the lady at the LQS where I purchased her spoke magic and I said yes. I put her on lay-away and made payments. (Why yes the DO still have layaway. If I’d gone the pay [this] in [#] months, interest-free, I’m afraid I’d gone way over budget.) My husband paid her off for my birthday as a very sweet surprise. She was about $999, but I got her on sale for about $650, if I remember correctly. I’ve had Sophia for 2 years and can’t believe how much I’ve sewn with her. I’ve sewn denim, burlap, canvas, voile, knit, vinyl, lightweight cottons, and linen. She is a champ, I tell ya!

She’s a Work Horse with Flair

I had never had a self-threading machine, and I never thought it would be a big deal, but listen to me: it is a huge time saver and it’s AWESOME.  Not exaggerating. Not lying. If you can, get it. Baby Locks are also known for their ability to sew through thick layers. They say 8 and I’ve sewn 8 layers. You have to go slowly, but the machine performs. I’m also really glad to have the embroidery capability on the machine. I don’t really use a lot of the built-in art, I don’t like a lot of the cute stuff (no, there’s nothing wrong with cutesy!!), and my daughter doesn’t really like it, either. However, you can get software for additional art and fonts and create whatever your taste is! The machine comes with lots of attachments, but there are many more you can purchase. The machines does a ton more than I’ve discovered, I know. It will just take me spending the time to discover them.

Sophia2 embroiders within a 4x4 inch space. You can upload additional fonts & art

Sophia2 embroiders within a 4×4 inch space. You can upload additional fonts & art

Shudda Wudda Cudda ?

She has been exactly what I’d hoped for. Capable of doing what I wanted to do with the capability to do what I’d want to do next. For the person who is a quilter, please note that she doesn’t do well on larger than a lap size quilt nor does she embroider large pieces. The throat isn’t large and there is only one hoop size –  4″x4″ size. If I could get another machine, what would it be? I would love a Janome Memory Craft 9900. The Memory Crafts are beautiful and do everything I’d want to do, I believe. I try not to daydream about them. Baby Lock has a ton of beauties, too, and the Bernina 880 (this one, friends, is no joke! It’s amazing!) My LQS has them all. All lined up to tempt every person who walks in the doors. They carry quality machines and they each have special functions.  Baby Lock. Bernina. Janome. These beauties are investments. You know what I mean by that, yes?

No Regrets

If you have any questions about the Baby Lock Sophia 2, let me know. Really. I’ve not found her lacking in anything that I really need, whether I’m making pillows, purses, clothing, home decor. She’s a delight.


Oh! Have I told you about my serger? Have I told you I don’t know how to use it yet? How’s that for planning ahead?

Enjoy your week-end!



Categories: My hands at work | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine Grapes

A taste of home from long ago … sweet and special. Not so easily available anymore. The distance is far not only in memory but in miles.

We all have memories of eating something that causes us to pause and remember.

So often they are of a dish made by a long gone grandmother or a special taste of a sweet vacation that isn’t so easily recaptured.

Our world has grown smaller and we have become one large melting pot.


There are those few things that continue to elude. and we long for them in a quiet moment of reflection.

I remember when I was in grade school in the south, when summer was approaching and we began having Friday lunches in brown sacks outside in the grass. What a treat! And there were these peanut butter sandwiches. Yep. Peanut butter.

However, they weren’t only peanut butter. I’ve experimented and come close. But not quite. Was it the sandwich or is it the memory?

I remember walking into the nearest Whole Foods Market (which isn’t a frequent or easy thing, for we’ve moved out of the city and the nearest one is 2 hours away!) and making the accidental discovery.

Muscadine Grapes!


They have such a short season. I don’t know how they’ve managed to grow them on a large scale.

Have you ever tasted one? They’re unlike any other grape. The closest I can describe is the concord grape, which is my second favorite.

They are a southern grape and they grew wild in northern Georgia where I lived as a young girl. And, I haven’t had them … since I was a young girl.

It was one of the rare moments I’ve been able to relive my youth.

And it was delicious!

Beautiful purple deliciousness

Beautiful purple deliciousness

I hope you have the chance to try them. The skin is a bit tart. There are seeds.

BUT the fruit on the inside? Heavenly.



Categories: Come sit in my kitchen | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments