28 September 2012

For a Party - Cheese Tray

Recently, I was asked to bring a cheese platter to a baby shower. This presents a bit of a challenge, because, as you know, there are certain cheeses that a pregnant lady should not eat. So off I went in search of fetus friendly cheese. My local Whole Foods has a great cheese department and the employees are always happy to help you find what you need. I spent a lovely half hour sampling different kinds of cheese, and here is what I purchased:

Seaside English Cheddar - It combines the creamy sharpness of cheddar with the crumble and tang of a parmigiano, and the flavor is somewhere in between. There is also a hint of salty crunchiness which is amazing. This cheese is delicious with a sweet apple like Jazz or Honeycrisp.

 A piece of Manchego (hard Spanish cheese)

Manchego This melt in your mouth cheese is Spain's most famous cheese. It is made only on the plain of La Mancha from the milk of the hardy La Mancha sheep. The sheep  produce a thick, aromatic milk that gives Manchego its character. This cheese is thought to have been made since Roman times. Pair with rosemary olive oil.

Jarlsberg cheese.jpg 

Jarlsberg - Great for cooking and for snacking,  the flavor is mild, buttery, nutty and slightly sweet. I love it on good bread.

Gouda - The best Gouda is imported from the Netherlands. It is a lightly sweet, slightly caramel flavored cheese.  Pair it with fig jam.

Some other delicious pairings on a cheese platter:

Dark Chocolate
Dried fruit

Don't forget to label your cheese and pairings so people know what they are eating!

27 September 2012

American Girls

Are American Girl dolls a big deal in your world? They are in mine. Almost all my daughter's friends have one.
I never really was a doll kind of girl. Honestly. I felt a little light headed the first time I went into the American Girl store and saw doll clothes hanging on hangers and little doll shoes in shoe boxes, and I still can't really talk about the styling counter. Fortunately, my daughter is thrilled to have me make things for her doll and she loves picking out fabrics and patterns and designing outfits.

Recently, my daughter was invited to two birthday parties in the same weekend. Luckily, we knew just what to do.

Matching nightgowns - for girl and doll - of course.
I am pleased to say that the gifts were well received.

Want to make one? Well, naturally, if you want a nightgown, I would really like you to go to Lavender Avenue. 

If you want to make a cute nightgown for an 18" doll, I highly recommend Simplicity Pattern 7083. The pattern has very few pieces and the instructions are easy to follow.

26 September 2012

To Do List Tuesday


It's been a while since I gave a knitting update. I have a couple of fun things finished and a couple of things in the works.

First finished project is Dainty Ankles from Toe Up Socks for Every Body.

I am super happy with how the lace turned out. I love the cute rolled over ankle and the dainty button. I love the seamless toe - and so does my daughter. She has issues with seams in toes.

I am not so pleased with the fact that I forgot that the ankle trim would have to be reversed on the right sock (duh!) so that the button would be on the outside (duh!). My daughter had a great solution. She said to just sew up the inside so it looks done and sew the button to the outside, and nobody would know. I will know. But it's a good idea. Can I use the fact that I was knitting in the car on a long road trip as an excuse?

Next finished project is the Mommy and me mitten that my sister requested. If you're reading this - sister - now is the time to look away! I mean it! Or you'll ruin Henry's birthday.


Knitted sweater dress from Knit Simple (Spring/Summer 2012)

All I have left is the kind of boring part: knitting around and around until it is the length I want it to be. I fall asleep a lot.

Every Way Wrap by Okmin Park from Interweave Knits (Fall 2009)

I actually have done a little more than this, but I got messed up once I started the cable pattern and had to un-knit a bit. Then I set it aside. For two years.

What have you been working on? Link up below!

25 September 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I am going to go with the above image as my motto for a while. Even with all the kids in school, I can't quite seem to get projects completely finished. I don't really want to talk about the piles I have generated all over my house, but it's becoming a problem. It never ceases to amaze me how home organization is sort of like building a long train thing out of dominoes and then knocking it over... anyway, what we're eating this week:


Roast Chicken
Mashed potatoes


Chinese take-out


Quiche Lorraine

Chicken Noodle Soup






Fire Beef
Asian Veggies

Also linking up to Menu Plan Monday!

21 September 2012

Roasted Pears with Brie and Pistachios

We had this amazing dish at our recipe group this month. One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, and perfect for this time of year when pears are in season.

Roasted Pears with Brie and Pistachios
 from Eating Well

2 tablespoons honey mustard
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 ripe pears, preferably Bosc
2 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 4 slices
*4 teaspoons chopped pistachios, toasted

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (or similar-size) metal baking pan with cooking spray.
Whisk mustard, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core and slice a small piece off the other side so they will lie flat when served. Brush all over with the mustard glaze and place cored-side down in the prepared pan.
Bake the pears for 30 minutes, basting halfway through with the glaze. Gently turn them over, baste again and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 teaspoon pistachios
*Substitute pecans for pistachios if desired.

19 September 2012

To Do List Tuesday


A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for A Bowl Full of Lemons Home Organization 101. So far, I wouldn't say I was at the top of the class. After three weeks, I have managed 1 and a half assignments. However. I am pleased with the results of my efforts. I am sure that counts for something. 

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am always trying to organize something. Always going through piles and cleaning out closets. I swear, stuff multiplies like gremlins around here. Last week, while cleaning out my kitchen, I discovered/decided a few things.

1. Wedding gifts that you have not used more than 2 times in 19 years can go.
2. Once you have a BlendTech, the Osterizer is pretty much just taking up space in the cupboard.
3. Scented candles on the kitchen counter are just asking kids to play with fire.
4. If you put the peanut butter and honey where the kids can reach it, less work for you!

So here they are - photo proof - and sorry they are fuzzy. Naturally, in a place where the sun shines about 350 days a year - I have to do this on a day that it rains all day. :)

Week 1 - Kitchen

 Counter baking area - before

 Counter baking area - after

 What was in the cupboard before (wow, right?)


 Breakfast prep area

 Improved dish cupboard with convenient peanut butter and honey. With a 14 year old swimmer, we go through a lot of peanut butter.

 Ah. The food storage/bowl/pitcher/colander/whatever cupboard, before

and after - minus some wedding gifts and lidless storage containers...

There was more, but those are the highlights. It feels great to get rid of stuff and to have more space in the cupboards. The main thing is to keep it that way, right?

What have you been up to? Link up below!


18 September 2012

Happy Constitution Day!!


Did you know that today is Constitution Day? It's been Constitution Day since 2004, but before that, it was known as Citizenship Day. September 17, 1787 was the day that the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution. 

How long has it been since you read the Constitution? Celebrate the day by reading it and sharing it with someone else!

15 September 2012


Remember this post? Well, they are finally done and I am so excited to show you my new nightgowns and lounge pants!

I've been working hard for several months to get the designs finalized and photos taken. There have been some inevitable delays, a death in the family set me back about 2 weeks, then, would you believe the West Nile Virus?  Don't worry, nobody got it, but one does not send cute little models out for photo shoots in West Nile infested areas. I know, the watermark needs work. Don't judge.

I owe a huge THANK YOU! to my tireless photographer, Kristen Larson, and her adorable models.

All of these designs, and more, are available at Lavender Avenue.

Christmas nightgowns are coming soon!

14 September 2012

Denver Eats - Snooze


One of my favorite places for breakfast is Snooze. It is a great place for a leisurely breakfast, as long as you don't mind the wait. We find that showing up before 9 am on a weekday is best for a very short wait, but that isn't always possible. When you go, just plan on the wait being part of the experience. It's worth it.

 Pancake Flight

Pancake Flight is your choice of three pancakes. If you're prone to sugar highs, you may want to order a side of sausage or bacon with this one. 
On this plate, you see (left to right):
Pineapple Upside-down Pancake - Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter (my personal favorite)
The Vermonter - Our buttermilk pancakes filled with fresh blueberries and topped with organic blueberry maple syrup, crumbled streusel and whipped lavender butter
Sweet Potato Pancake - the signature sweet potato buttermilk pancake topped with homemade caramel, pecans and ginger butter (my used to be favorite, but now a close second to that pineapple one)

 OMG French Toast

This is to die for. Fresh brioche stuffed with mascarpone, then griddled and topped with vanilla crème, salted caramel, agave soaked strawberries and toasted coconut. Amazing.

Last, but not least:
Peanut Butter Cup Pancake - tastes just like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Really!
Chocolate Chip Pancake - basic and delicious.

If you're looking for breakfast in Denver, this is a place you won't want to miss.