Monthly Archives: October 2009

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October Book Group

Last night was my turn for our monthly book group, which means it’s been a busy week in ThimbleannaLand. Our book discussion was The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. Definitely not a fan favorite. As I heard one member put it, “That’s a few wasted hours of my life that I wish I had back.”  I think the general consensus was that her writing was beautiful, but the story was awful.

Book Group

My table setting was pretty simple. On Barefoot Contessa this week, I heard Ina say that when people start talking about tablescapes it makes her crazy. My sentiments exactly! A pretty centerpiece and nice linens and I’m happy. And for book group, as in previous years, I like to have a little takeaway. This year I gave the ladies some easy-to-make book labels found on this really cool site (spend some time snooping around there — they offer some really nice downloads).

Book Group

I saw a centerpiece very similar to mine somewhere on the internet, so I asked BigDaddy if he could cut me a board to set the pumpkins on. Isn’t it pretty? I just love it and I’m sure I’ll use it for other centerpieces too. Thanks BigDaddy, the ladies loved your board and there was lots of oohhing and aahhing!

Book Group Book Group

On the menu we had:

Crab Dip
Tossed Salad
White Chicken Chili
Sibley Station Swedish Apple Pie

Years ago, when we lived in Minnesota, the family all came to visit.  We went to Pequot Lakes and ate at a restaurant that had wonderful food.  They were giving away a few recipes and MyDadLovesMeBestSister wisely kept this Swedish Apple Pie recipe — it’s become a family favorite over the years.  (We love it so much, it’s even in MyDadLovesMeBestSister’s section of our family cookbook.)  I thought you might like the recipe too (and btw, it’s more like a cake than a pie, imho).

Sibley Pie

Sibley Station Swedish Apple Pie

1 1/2 cups peeled diced apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix apples and nuts. Set aside. In a separate bowl mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the apple mixture. In a small bowl, beat egg and vanilla, then mix well with the apple mixture. Spread mixture evenly in a well oiled 8-inch springform pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream and top with carmel sauce. Makes 6 servings.

This recipe came with instructions for a carmel sauce, but I’ve never been able to get it to work. It failed again last night, but I just happened to have a jar of carmel ice cream sauce, so I heated it up and no one was the wiser. Just in case you don’t have a favorite carmel sauce, here’s a family favorite sauce that would work well too.

Gorgeous Sauce

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. whipping cream

Cook over boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Oh, and big news! I heard on the radio that in the next 4 to 5 years, US book manufacturers are going to start printing all US cookbooks with measurements by weight. That should help with the recipe language conversion problems we have in blogland. ;-)

Have a great weekend!
XOXO,
Anna

A Late Night Post

Hello. Did ya miss me? Shhhh. I’m whispering, ’cause it’s really late here, and I’m sneaking my sins from the day into the house.

Dark

I’ve been off for an overnight visit to TheFirstChild and SweetiePie.  I barely saw TheFirstChild — he’s been working so hard studying and it’s a big test week, so he was very busy.  SweetiePie and I, on the other hand, got into a bit of trouble.

Fabric

We had a great time shopping — a few quilt shops, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc — all the fun shops we don’t have here.  We were well behaved except for the quilt shops.  Well, SweetiePie was well behaved everywhere, but I behaved shamelessly.  You can see, I had to have a bit of Authentic and Amy Butler’s Love.  And SweetiePie’s probably laughing as she reads this ’cause she knows that’s not all.  The rest is in the witness protection program for a little while longer.

Cupcake

After all of our shopping, we had to try out a little cupcake shop.  Mmmmmm – Mmmm.  The cupcakes were yummy.  We each had a “Bridal Cupcake” (almond flavored) and sat out in the glorious sun for awhile and played with the camera.  The weather was purrrrr-fect.  SweetiePie helped me out with a Wilson pose.

Cupcake

It was a super fun day and I miss my little angels already.  I can’t wait until we can do it again!

Did you notice the hint of golden leaves in that first dark picture?  I honestly can’t remember when we’ve had a more beautiful autumn.  In our yard, we’re usually lucky to have one or two really pretty trees, but this year, half of them are this beautiful shade of yellow.

FW Leaves

The annual leaf pick-up war started this past weekend, but this year’s show almost makes it all worth it.  (I say almost, ’cause I’m sure there will be grumbling when those trees are naked.)  I’ll be so sorry when all the leaves are gone.

FW Leaves

Oooh, and look at these funny maple leaves.  I’m thinking maybe we have a fungus of some sort?  They seem to be confined to just one tree.  I just checked — according to google (don’t you LOVE the internet?), they’re called galls and shouldn’t result in any harm to the tree.

FW Leaves

Here’s the view out our back windows.  When the sun is out, the inside of the house is just luminous.  It’s soooo pretty – I can’t wait to see it again tomorrow!  We’re so lucky this year — it’s just amazing!

FW Leaves

Ok — off to bed now.    For those of you in the northern hemisphere, I hope your leaves are just as beautiful as ours are this year.  And remember…what happens in Indy, stays in Indy!

XOXO,
Anna

Candy Corn, Pranks, and a Quilt Frame

Otherwise titled, three random items:

One.

Fall is definitely here in ThimbleannaLand.  Although we didn’t really have much of a summer this year, it seems as though we’ve jumped from warm weather, right into the chilly stuff.  We’re in for several days of drizzly, rainy days.  That means the start of yummy oatmeal breakfasts.  And it’s October, so forget the raisins and bring on the candy corn!

Candy Corn Oatmeal

Two.

If you’ve been a reader very long, you know how much I love a good prank.  I love to laugh and make merry — I feel that Laughter truly IS the best medicine.  Are you all familiar with Improv Everywhere?  These are the people who were responsible for the prank in Grand Central Station where a bunch of people just froze in place.  And the prank that I recently referred to, where they took subway yearbook photos on a NYC Subway train.  They have a new prank that I watched, grinning from ear to ear, wishing it would happen in my local grocery store.  And a really fun video on their website is a Today Show Interview that occurred this summer.  I love this stuff (and there’s tons more on their website) — everyone needs a good pick me up now and then!

Three.

When I showed you my Jumbo Applecore Quilt, I meant to show you my quilt frame, but after three applecore posts, I decided to take a little quilty break.

Quilt Frame

I love my quilt frame.  It’s not the new sexy kind that tilts and has three rods, but it’s great for setting up a quilt for hand quilting.  Several years ago, MeMum, BigDaddy, TheManoftheHouse and I went to an auction.  I could only go to the preview, and I was so surprised to see this quilt frame among the household goods.  After close inspection, I had to leave for an appointment and I left TheManoftheHouse with instructions to bid on it.  “But don’t pay more than $40 or $50.”

Quilt Frame

Knowing what auction items will sell for is always tricky business.  I was just sure someone else would walk off with this frame and the bidding would be fierce.   It’s solid oak (it’s very heavy) and is beautifully handcrafted.  I could just imagine some woodworking husband lovingly making this for his quilting wife.

Quilt Frame

Look at the pretty details!  All the pieces are held together with pegs and it’s really sturdy.  Imagine my surprise when I arrived home at the end of the day to find TheManoftheHouse waiting with the quilt frame.  I was beside myself with excitement and afraid to ask how much it cost!  The auctioneer tried to start bidding in the hundreds of dollars and he slowly came down to $20, where TheManoftheHouse decided to jump in.  “Twentygimmetwentyfivegarbledstuffnoonecanunderstandtwentyfivewhatsmybidmoregarbled
stufftwentytwentyfivec’monwhat’swrongwithyoupeopleTwentygimmetwentyfive”. Silence. No. Other. Bidders.  So, TheManoftheHouse scored this beautiful quilt frame for the paltry sum of $20.  The oak alone is worth so much more than $20.  Auctions always make me a little sad for the families that must sell the goods, but I was so happy to give this quilt frame a good home!

The only down side to the quilt frame is this:

Quilt Frame

It doesn’t fall over on its own.  When I’m not quilting on it, I have to tip it on its side — the resident felines seem to think it’s a giant kitty hammock.  Bad Kitties!

If you’re still here, thanks for sticking with this week’s random.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

XOXO,
Anna

Forgive Me Father…

…for I have sinned.  Is that what you’re supposed to say when you’ve been naughty?  It wasn’t my fault.  I swear.  I saw these cute little cupcake pedestals somewhere and thought “Hmmmm, I could put those to good use.”  Then I promptly forgot about them.  And pretty soon, Ms. Barefoot posted about them.

cupcake pedestal

Good Grief, indeed. When they popped up in that second post, I took it as a sign. Permission granted, it was meant to be, and I obediently clicked over and ordered them. If you love dishes or cupcakes or white, good luck resisting. You’re welcome. ;-)

While we’re chit-chatting about things you need, have you seen this adorable owl pattern? And fabric??? Ohmygosh…I love that ric rac, those colors, and everything about this cute pattern — and it’s free!

So.  Did you all have a good weekend?  I actually got my 9-patch quilt top all put together — as soon as I get it quilted I’ll show you.  Don’t hold your breath though — I’m terribly slow compared to so many of you at these things.  Other than sewing, we continued to reminisce about our trip to Scotland and since it was a chilly weekend, I made Bangers and Mash.  I’d never even heard of Bangers and Mash until our first trip to Scotland, but as soon as we got home I searched all over the internet for a recipe.  I found several, but they didn’t sound exactly like the version we’d had, so I put several together.  (Some of the recipes called for diced tomatoes — are tomatoes common in bangers and mash?)  Anyway, since I had to search high and low for my recipe, I’m adding it here, on my little blog, so it won’t be lost anymore.  With apologies to you vegetarians, mashed potato haters, and people who think sausages are disgusting, here’s my version:

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
Several garlic cloves, roughly chopped into small chunks
Mixed herbs: 1/2 – 1 tsp each of thyme, marjoram and rosemary
6 – 8 sausages
1 14.5 oz can beef broth
1 cup of red wine
1 T demi-glace (optional)
Olive Oil
Chopped parsley for garnishing
Mashed potatoes made to your own taste

Slowly cook the onion rings on lowest heat in olive oil until they are soft. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove onions from pan and add the sausages.

Bangers and Mash

Brown them all over. Remove the sausages from the pan and add the garlic, herbs, beef broth and wine. I like to add the demi-glace if you have it — it gives the gravy a richer flavor. Stir the gravy ingredients all together, then add the onions and sausages back to the pan.

Simmer on a low heat, partially covered, for 45 minutes to an hour while the wine reduces and the onions turn a deep red color. At the end, if the gravy needs to be thickened, I mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with just a bit of water and then add that to the gravy. Cook and stir a few minutes longer until gravy thickens up.

Serve sausages on top of mashed potatoes, covered with onions and gravy. Garnish with parsley.  Yu – u – um!

Now, go forth and have a great week!

XOXO,
Anna

A Post For Isabelle

Many of you know my good blog friend Isabelle is a college English teacher in Scotland and she’s always posting something clever, witty or funny.  A few days ago, Isabelle had a post for me and you must go read it.  Run over there … it’s a short post and you won’t understand this next part unless you do … I’ll wait.

Tap…

Tap…

Tap….

Funny, no?  Very Funny!  But, dear Isabelle, I’m afraid your vision of me doesn’t match reality.  This is more along the lines of my fantasy:

Man in Quilt

And look!  He’s wearing your quilt, standing in the road just down the hill from Edinburgh Castle.   You girls in Scotland see all the best Man Candy!!!

Funny that Isabelle’s student should prompt that post just now.  Exactly one year ago today, TheManoftheHouse and I were packing our bags to get on the plane the next day for our little adventure to Scotland to visit with Isabelle and Mr. Life.

Scotland Shot

To celebrate, I made Shepherd’s Pie for dinner tonight (so perfect for our cold rainy weather) and I’ve been looking through the pictures I took last year.

Scotland Shot

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already!  We had such a great time and saw so many beautiful things.

Scotland Shot

I love the thatched roof in the above picture.  If only we could have a roof like that on our house.  Those rocks crack me up but with the high winds we experienced just on our trip, I’m sure they’re a necessity.

Scotland Shot

We saw moss everywhere.  Beautiful, soft, plush, green moss.  I have a whole folder of moss pictures on my hard drive.

Scotland Shot

Looking back in my archives, I didn’t really blog very much about the trip, except for the visit with Mr. and Mrs. Life, meeting Ms. Locket, and our fun little highland encounter with Bin Laden.  And by then, I figured you were sick of hearing about the trip.

Scotland Shot

So, thank you for indulging me while I wistfully look back — hoping to return to Scotland soon.
Oh wait– here’s a picture just in time for Halloween.

Scotland Shot

Ok, one more parting shot — black kitties for Halloween.  They’re the Life kitties, Sirius and Cassie.  Very sweet — and I miss them.  I hope you’re giving them a steady diet of prawns and yarn, Isabelle!

Scotland Shot

And thanks for your funny post and reminding me of our wonderful trip.  As for the rest of you, I hope you have a great weekend!

XOXO,
Anna