Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fruit + Wine = Party Time

This past weekend we had a little send off for Carla. Carla is moving to Houston. I am in absolute denial that my BCFF (Best Crafty Friend Forever) is leaving town. Sooooooo, let me tell you about the party prep.

Let's start with the SANGRIA!


Sangria is best made a day ahead for the mixing and maturing of flavors. I made a batch of red & white sangria. The recipe for the Red Sangria is a Bobby Flay concoction and can be found here. The only addition I made to the recipe was adding blood oranges. Oh and doubling the recipe. Wooo! It's for a party you know.

I also made a White Sangria, which is great because you use summer fruits. It was more difficult finding what I felt was a solid recipe so I came up with this.

White Sangria

4 bottles White Wine
1 cup Peach Liqueur
1 cup Brandy
2 cups orange juice
1 cup simple syrup
2 mangos

Usually you add sparkling water or 7-Up the next day. However I prefer not to dilute the alcohol. So I serve the ice and sparkling water on the side. Don't forget the stir straws!

Here is another make a day ahead salad. It is truly a tasty and takes only 5 minutes to make.
This Garbanzo Bean Salad is from Nancy Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist. She got it from Traci Des Jardins of Jardiniere in San Francisco. Everything I have made from the book, about 4 or 5 recipes, have been really good. The subtitle is "Quick flavorful meals with ingredients from jars, cans, bags, and boxes" but don't be fooled. These recipes are definitely a level above say a Rachel Ray or a Sandra Lee type quick meal. You have to try the salad. So easy and delicious.

Garbanzo Bean Salad
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained (about 1 1/2cups)
1 bunch scallions, very thinly sliced (the White & halfway up the green parts; about 1 cup)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parlsey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional)
Kosher salt
Pepper, freshly ground

Combine & Stir.

The only modification I made to this recipe is 2 cans of garbanzo instead of one. I think this makes a better ratio of ingredients and there is more to enjoy.

garbanzo salad

The hubby was experimenting with a new bread. Ricotta Bread from the new issue of La Cucina Italiana.
Rictta bread1

ricotta bread 3

ricotta bread 4

ricotta bread 5
This bread is delicious. The bread is a little sour with a hint of cinnamon and the crust has a nice chewy bite without a hard crust. My verdict was this makes an amazing bread for brunch or a special occasion. It was delicious with fresh peach jam from the Farmer's market. It was fantastic with Ellen's amazing Curried Chicken Salad. And it made a delicious toast in the morning.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grilled Cheese, please

During our Chicago trip we ate at Avec and had an amazing focaccia of taleggio cheese, truffle oil and fresh herbs. It was absolutely delicious. So, of course, we knew we had to try and recreate it at home.

We decided to use La Tur cheese.
La Tur
This cheese is pure gold and cheesemongers everywhere are raving about it. According to the San Francisco Chronicle it is "as close to love as cheese can get". You can read more here and here. For herbs, we simply chopped chives. I cut away the rind of the cheese and mix the chives with the cheese. The hubby fires up the grill and uses his pizza dough for the focaccia. We cut the focaccia, while hot, and spread the cheese between the two layers and then put it on the grill for a couple of minutes more to heat things up.

grilled cheese

the best

This is the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had. I told my hubby he can make this for me anytime. I can't wait for the weather to cool down and I can make a big pot of tomato soup. Who doesn't love tomato soup and grilled cheese?

grilled veggies
Don't forget to eat your veggies! Grilled sweet onions, asparagus, zucchini, and anaheim chiles. with toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are back in season! YAY! Have you tried them in your cereal in the morning? Gives your cereal a little zing!

The family showed up this past weekend for dinner, which of course included pizza.

amarone della valpolicia
Here is the wine recommendation for the pizza.
Brigaldara Casa Vecie Amarone della Valpolicella 2001
It's on the pricey side $65/btl. The hubby's business partner picked it up at Bristol Farms. He's an extravagant kind of guy. It was well drunk and appreciated as well as complementing the dinner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The hubby has this baking hobby I have mentioned a couple of times. We go to Surfas in Culver City to buy the flour. Surfas is a gourmet market and restaurant supply.


They also have a cafe.
The hubby and I shared a kurobuta ham and cheese sandwich and a tomato and fig sandwich. Both were very tasty, especially the tomato & fig. What a combo. The lunch box has great little quotes.
Kit Carson
I hope I am as profound as Kit when I kick the bucket.

Yes, Erma always had a way with words on life. Moral of the story: don't let the dessert cart pass you by.

We stocked up on the staples: flour, pasta, cocoa, pepperoncini, chocolate

Here's the dessert cart...
favorite candy bar
This is my currently favorite candy bar.
It's Vosges Goji Bar. This is a yummy candy bar. It has goji berries, pink Himalayan salt and deep milk chocolate 41% cacao. The sweet/tart berries and the salt in the creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate make for a delicious experience. The deep milk chocolate is a little richer than your usual milk chocolate but doesn't have the bitterness associated with dark chocolate.

Vosges has an entire line of exotic candy bars.
Here are a couple of intriguing ones.
Mo's Bacon Bar: applewood smoked bacon, alder wood smoked salt and deep milk chocolate. This one might go well with the bacon wrapped donut that Regina tried in Portland. (I am not kidding. She has photo documentation. Go see the picture on her blog).
I the love the name of this one.
Woolloomooloo: roasted & salted macadamian nuts, Indonesian coconut, hemp seeds, and deep milk chocolate.

What's your favorite candy bar? I am willing to taste and learn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You are.

Today this beautiful present came in the mail from my friend Charissa.


The aim of Life is to Live...
and to Live means to be aware

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Holding Hands & Embracing Others

Recently the hubby made a request for a knit vest. When he asked I knew just the pattern.

Dr. G memory vest
Dr. G's Memory Vest by Kirsten from Through the Loops.

The pattern for Dr. G's Memory vest is available on her blog. In order to receive a copy of the pattern she asks that you make a contribution to Alzheimer's and dementia research. Details are on the blog. Her father suffered from vascular dementia and she has designed this vest in his memory.

Kirsten is an amazing designer. I love the the look of the vest. It is even more special because it honors the memory of her father and supports Alzheimer's research.

Alzheimer's is a progressive and fatal disease of the brain destroying brain cells and affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. As many as 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is the most common form of dementia. Currently, Alzheimer's disease has no cure.

You may know someone who is living with Alzheimer's and know how difficult it is to see a loved one suffer from the dementia and the receding of the known around them. My friend Annette is participating in the Los Angeles Memory Walk on Oct. 5. Her mother, Mary, has Alzheimer's disease. Having a loved one with Alzheimer's is a hard road to walk which is why the need for community and further research is needed. If you would like to support the continued efforts for research and awareness for Alzheimer's disease here are two opportunities. Dr. G's Memory Vest or my friend Annette's Memory Walk in honor of her mother Mary or someone close to your own heart.

end alzheimer's

Anyone pledging support for Annette here, please post a comment or email me and let me know. I will send you a little something in the mail with much gratitude.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Around Town

This shot is for Ellen.
for Ellen
This shot was taken on Lincoln Blvd in Venice. I was tailing this woman for blocks trying to get this shot. It is hard to drive and take pictures. Now I know what it's like to be paparazzi. That is a hard job and these were only crochet doilies. If it had been Paris Hilton and doilies headrest covers it would have been pandemonium on the road.

While the hubby was away last week I knit him a hat.
new Hat

looking good, baby
This is Turn a Square by Jared Flood. Knits up super fast. One of the reasons I made the hat was that I was having project ADD. There are lots of projects on the needles but are taking some time. You know, a shawl, a couple of sweaters. Stuff that takes time. Plus I have luscious yarns waiting in the wings to jump on the needles that are screaming to be played with. So I needed a sense of accomplishment and the hat did the trick. It was made with a black Cascade 220 and the leftover Noro Silk Garden from the Feather and Fan shawl. And yes, it is 90 degrees outside while he is modeling his hat.

This weekend we tried a new taco place on Sunset Blvd.
Pinches Tacos
Pinches Tacos
8200 Sunset Blvd.
These tacos are brought to you by the Anaya Brothers who brought us ChaChaCha
Both Joe and I tried the combination plate. My tacos were carnitas, chicken mole, and pescado (fish). Joe had the chicken parrilla, pescado, and al pastor. Everything was really fresh and tasty. This place is going into the rotation.

Stash Enhancement
Beaverslide in mink. This fabulous yarn comes from Montana. The name is a giggle (beaverslide, hehe). The yarn smells amazing and feels amazing and is going to make something amazing when I figure out what exactly.

LYS news
Cascade 220
This is Cascade the heathers 220 from Stitch Cafe. If you are a lover of Cascade 220 you have to visit the store. They have an entire wall of Cascade in the most beautiful and bright colors. Oh the oranges and yellows. Dare I say it, the color selection is even better than Yarns Unlimited, although it costs about a dollar more a skein. The store looks great with lots more room to hang out and knit. It was bustling in there for a Sunday afternoon and I got out of there faster than I ever have.

wiggs loves yarn
Sunday night was spent winding wool. Look at that lovely pile of wool! And Wiggs too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Princess Seams

I *heart* sewing class.
Last night Carla & I had sewing class. Last week was just cutting but this week we got to start sewing. Oh the heart swoons!

This is what I learned last night.
Ease plus stitch
work flat
pressing ham

I used the ease plus stitch to work my princess seams in the front of the bodice.

Here is a description of the method.
For blouses my favorite method is the ease-plus method as I have described a few times: stitch ON the stitching line, holding your finger behind the presser foot to disallow fabric feeding. This will sufficiently ease in the cap in lightweight fabrics. If you need to work a little more in, you can pull the thread a little more - if you have too much, break the thread in a few places.

Check out my princess seams
Princess seam 1

Princess seam 2
Princess seams run down the length of the bodice and are used in place of darts to make the close fit. I pressed the princess seams using the pressing ham. (Not to be confused with this type of pressing ham) The pressing ham really helps to create the shape of the garment. Much easier than trying to press the seams open on the flat ironing board. Gotta get one of those.

Capril, the wonder sewing teacher, also taught us to work the garment flat and not necessarily in the order as the packaged directions. This means that we created the front and the back of our dresses.

vogue 8232
In one night the dress is practically done. Look a front (L) and back (R).

Next week: zippers!!!!
needs a zipper
The thought of waiting 6 more days until the next sewing class is killing me. Sewing is very exciting, especially as we are in the very capable hands of Capril. She is a calm and reassuring presence as well as being an extremely knowledgeable teacher. When she speaks, it is a complete foreign language to me. I see her mouth move, I hear the words (in English, mind you) but I don't often comprehend what she is saying. Then I follow her direction or she shows me what to do and it works and it starts to sink in a little bit. I know I will have to keep on sewing so the skills start to make sense. So that the words and the flat pieces of fabric before me gain focus and take shape. The process is really exciting. I know I started this post by stating that I *heart* sewing.

And I mean it.

I *heart* sewing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Feather and Fanfare

It's finished & it's beautiful.
feather and fan

A closer look.

Wiggs helped me while I wove in the ends.
My helper

Yes...finishing is rather boring.
my sleeper

Posing while napping, as only a cat can do.
my poser

Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl

Noro Silk Garden
Color 244
7 Skeins
Size 9 needles

The Silk Garden is wonderful to work with and the colorways are to die for. In general, variegated yarn is fun to knit with and the Noro is exceptional in this regard with color surprises around every stitch. This is a simple knit project and works up easily and quickly for a shawl.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cracks Me Up

Joe as Jerry Lewis
When did my hubby become Jerry Lewis?
And where are his pants?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The End of Summer

Four gals go to Disneyland & California Adventures

On a hot day you get on the Big River
Ready Girls?

to cool off

and SCREAM!!!!!
No Way!

90 degrees today. Don't forget the sunscreen.

More cooling off
oh yeah

My favorite place...the Tiki Room
Tiki Room

Darcy finds her car in the parking lot


Little did we know that Lori was the Scream Queen.
Space Mtn

In Los Angeles the summer heat turns up when September rolls around. Darcy now works for the Mouse and invited us to go to Disneyland. For Free! She gets to bring 3 friends with her to Disneyland. Carla and Lori had never been to Disneyland before so we made a nice foursome. We did everything. Ate lots of junk food. Got queasy stomachs (well Carla & I did). Went on almost every ride (Haunted Mansion & It's a Small World were closed. Boo!) Lucky us, the park was practically empty. Most wait times were 20 minutes (unheard of). It was hotter than you know what. We laughed. We screamed. Speaking of screaming...Lori is a total scream queen! We stayed until our feet were screaming too. It was a total blast & a perfect summer day with the girls.

Thank you Darcy for treating us to a great day!