Monday, July 14, 2014

Wedding Cake Brooch

In late May I flew across the country to attend a wonderful family wedding in Annapolis, MD.  Now obviously the bride and groom (Ashley and Daniel - love them!) were the stars of the show but look at the wedding cake:
Simple and Stunning: 55 Brooches adorn this cake 
The cake was a perfect symbol of the entire wedding festivities: simple, stunning and full of love.  After the wedding my cousin (her son was the groom) told me a brief story about the pins/brooches which were attached to the cake and how she wanted to share them with special people.  She spent about 10 months collecting 73 brooches total (55 were on the cake and there were even some in the bride's bouquet!) and last week I was fortunate enough to receive one in the mail.  She enclosed a little note explaining how she picked this one for me because she thought it looked like a quilt pattern. Love it!  
Wedding Cake Brooch - mine was on the cake! 
Albert Weiss "Spinning Stars" 1954 
I had a little fun researching the history of Weiss Jewelry. My cousin shared with me that they were designed by Albert Weiss and his company was founded in New York City in 1942, flourished in the 50's and 60's and ceased operation in 1971. These pieces are called "costume jewelry" but I believe that is an understatement.  They are stunning and there is nothing "costumey" (if that's a word) about them.  I found the following Albert Weiss advertisements in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue from the 50's and 60's to illustrate just how hip this jewelry was in the those decades.  I love how the prices are listed on the advertisements.
Albert Weiss "Renaissance" 1954
Albert Weiss "Aurora Borealis" 1958 Harper's Bazaar


Albert Weiss "Big Pins" 1960 Vogue
It was a great honor to receive the brooch from my cousin and I will make sure to honor it with the memory of a truly special couple, Ashley and Daniel.
Now I need to figure out how I'll wear it!
Ciao~
Susan 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Blueberry Pie and Little Pants

Things I completed, pondered, and puzzled over this past weekend....

Quick Change Trousers from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings
So Cute!  


They're reversible....fun eh?  

Since the remodel has been completed, I have increased my flower purchasing 1,000%. 
Trader Joe's is thanking me. 

I made pie.  Blueberry.  Delicious.  
Isn't pie perfect for summer?  

This is the light next to my front door. Found these lights (there are 5 more around the front) at Lamps Plus, thought they were perfect and bought them.  See the light bulb?  It's an Edison Style Light Bulb which I adore. Problem though - the bulbs are $8.00 each! 
I need a job to afford the bulb.  

My tomato garden is coming along nicely.  
Thankfully I have enough sun to grow these babies.  

Puzzling though is my Lemon Tree - it's not doing very well and the two flowering plum (do not produce fruit) next to it have both died.  
Sick lemon tree = trip to the nursery

My north side neighbors have this cool cactus which I see outside my kitchen window and right now it is blooming.  
Yum - cactus pear coming soon. 
Kinda ugly, right?  Yea that's the north side of my house just outside the kitchen window and door.  A new block wall went in about six weeks ago and new wood/iron gates are on order to finish the project.  
  Gate guy is MIA!  
So now the joke is the "ghetto gate"(there is graffiti that was scratched out on the other side) is here to stay.
Time to hunt down the gate guy. 
Hope you all had a great weekend!  
Ciao~
Susan 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Beginning Of The End {Of This Time In My Life}

Today is the beginning of the end of the very special time in my life of raising my two boys.  Later this afternoon, my older son will graduate from high school and although I am fully aware that I am not the first parent to experience my current emotions, they are new to me. This summer for him will be full of work with his first job, seeing friends and getting ready for college, and on the last weekend in September, we will move him to college.
September 5, 2001: First Day of Kindergarten
June 11, 2014: Last Day of Instruction 
Nine months ago when he brought home the registration packet for the new school year, it said "Senior Class of 2014" and it struck me that a date that his Kindergarten teacher had said to all of us new parents in 2001 had arrived.  When she told us that they were the class of 2014, the date seemed so far into the future, so remote that thinking about it wasn't an option.  I had a five year old and a three year old to love, teach, feed, chauffeur around and play with.  Where did the time go?

Making the choice to be the person who was around for them all the time while they've been growing up has been the most rewarding period of my life.  My younger son still has two more years of high school to complete so my job is not over yet, but having my older son move out will change things for all of us.  I will be forever thankful to have experienced the last 18 years (and the next two!) with my boys.
June 8, 2014 Baccalaureate Ceremony 
Wish me dry eyes this afternoon!
Ciao~
Susan 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Gave Birth Yesterday....








and it's big, green and was a little overdue but so worth it.  

 
The fence is down, the porta-potty is gone and I can actually use my new front door. 
 The little details were so much work ~ hours of research and discussion.  

Now it's done...except for landscaping, a new block wall (on the side yard) and new side gates. 


But first I shall sew in my new sewing space.  Yay! 

 Russian Rubix, here I come....

Come on over and join me for a drink on my new front porch.
Ciao~
Susan

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Buttery Goodness: Kouign-Amann

More often than not, a recipe will grab me.  I might spy it on a blog or catch a glimpse on a food show and that little kernel of information somehow finds its way into my cerebral cortex and blooms.  As that recipe grows in the need to be made (sending me messages: "Find me on the Internet" and "Print me out!"), I start to plan out when.
About two weeks ago I picked up the April 2014 Bon Appetit from my magazine pile and took it with me to read while waiting for an appointment.
When I got to this page, this recipe seed jumped into my brain and began to bloom.  
Page 43 April 2014 Bon Appetit Magazine
I've wanted to attempt "lamination", a technique where dough is wrapped around a thick sheet of cold butter and folded, rolled, folded, rolled...etc., for ages.  As described by Claire Saffitz in Bon Appetit, kouign-amann is a "sort of denser, sugar-crusted croissant made with indecent amounts of butter". She wasn't wrong.  
It was "Buttery Goodness".  
butter, a little sugar and a pinch of salt  for the "butter block"
butter block...more of a rectangle
butter block all wrapped up and ready for the freezer
dough and butter block ready for lamination
enclosure of butter block in dough
first fold - wrapped in plastic and put into freezer/fridge for chilling time 
first roll out.  No oozing butter ~ a very good sign
second fold
again wrapped up in plastic and into the freezer/fridge to chill
  also did this a third time  
final roll out
  you can see chunks of butter where I didn't fully mix it as well as I should  

This is where all of the work became super fun.  My older son and I were working on this project together and once he made the cuts, we could see the layers of dough where the cuts had been made.  
Twelve squares  
                                                
See the layers?  We were gleeful at 10:45 pm when these were ready for their last 8 hours in the fridge.  
These were amazing.  Truly.  Worth all of the effort and time.  I would change two things ~ making sure to completely mix the butter before spreading on to the parchment paper to make the butter block and possibly using a little less butter.  There was so much butter that it oozed out of each muffin cup and dripped on to the bottom of my new baking oven.  Burning butter smoke is not the greatest at 7am.  

I will make Buttery Goodness again as it was very well received.  Go here to read the step by step directions.
Time to go clean my oven and start preparations for my Easter Meal tomorrow,
Ciao~
Susan

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The History Quilter Podcast Episode 41: The Hiatus Is Over!

Hello History Quilter listeners...
The Hiatus is over!  I'm thrilled to share with you that I've just recorded and published a new podcast episode.  It might take a day or so for iTunes to grab it from Podbean but it will be there shortly.
The episode is mostly about the remodel of my home for the past seven months with a little bit of quilting mixed in.  My next episode will get back to quilting, food...all the normal stuff.

Here is the address of the website you must check out if you are considering remodeling, relandscaping, redecorating, etc.  An excellent resource for brainstorming and research, check it out:  Houzz.com 

A few new pictures...
Baking bread in the new wall oven

Right now: getting ready for the concrete man to visit 
"Buttery Goodness" I'll expand on these in my next blogpost.  
Hope you enjoy the new podcast!
Ciao,
Susan 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Adventures in Remodeling Part IV: The New Kitchen

At approximately six months to the day from breaking ground, I am back into my (new!) house and loving it.
This means many things:
1. My computer is now my own again.
2. I am cooking inside a warm, light-filled open space.
3. The History Quilter hiatus is over...back to my normal life!

My own creativity spans baking/sewing, sewing/quilting and reading/researching but for the last six months those have all been cramped due to the constraints of space.  Now I can access my computer whenever I want, bake/cook what ever my heart desires(within reason), and I can finally get back to sewing/quilting.

Creative me is so glad to be back in business! 

I'll explain a lot more on the podcast - now let's get to the photos!  I know you've seen some of these already but I thought a full "before to after" would be enjoyable.
My former kitchen - perfectly good little kitchen.  Served me well for 17 1/2 years.  

And a few weeks into the the remodel, the demo begins. 

And within a week the old kitchen is down to the studs.  
  About a month in the old walls are coming down.  

The kitchen was on the right side of this photo.  The pipes you see in are for my old kitchen sink and the bathroom plumbing just on the other side.  
Now the new walls go up.  The window to the left is my new kitchen window.   The new kitchen is on the north side of my house, same as it was before.  
Sheer walls and electrical going in and a roof on.  

And now windows!  

Drywall - goes up so fast and suddenly there is a room!  

Before the drywall was finished in the pantry, I placed a "time capsule" for whomever may open up these walls someday.  
Kitchen cabinets arrive 
Kitchen cabinets and island are placed into position.  This is where it started to feel like I may truly have a new kitchen.  During 95% of this process all I seemed to be doing is researching and buying things for my new space but I wasn't spending any time in it.  It always felt like the construction worker's space.  
Range Hood and more cabinetry.  Door is to the walk-in pantry.  
New counter tops ~ White Springs granite.
Island is 4' x 7' 

New back splash in place. 
Hardwood flooring and back splash grout in production. 

Blurry picture of me at my new range ~ I love her! 

My new kitchen ~ earlier this week/fourth day cooking in the new kitchen.





There is a still a lot left to do; boxes to open and kitchen contents put away (feels like Christmas), electrical outlets in the back splash need covers to match and decorating the floating shelves, etc., but that is all a work in progress.  I'm in my new space, it is warm and I am no longer cooking all alone - all things to be very thankful for.
One major bonus with the island that I didn't realize until about a month ago - the island is an instant cutting table!

Next blogpost I'll have more pictures of the rest of the new space.
Come over and visit!
Ciao,
Susan