Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Perfect Recipe

I have made a recipe discovery that I absolutely MUST tell you about. It's my new appetizer and snack food addiction, and I'm certain this one is going to make it into my menus and gift baskets for decades to come.
Now, It might not sound or seem like much at first glance, but if you have ever, EVER aspired to make any of the recipes I rave (or complain) about here, this is the one you've got to try:

Pickled Vegetables

As is my typical party food MO, I was looking for something different but not so different as to alienate the typically Midwestern palates of Boy's family. This recipe fit the bill perfectly and seemed an interesting and elegant alternative to that plain old crudite plate or pickles and olives from a jar. Plus it was quick and easy to throw together.
As it turns out, it was one of my favorite dishes of the Thanksgiving meal. Because there were several other appetizer choices on the menu, I only made half a batch but I'm still enjoying the leftovers-still addictive and even tastier today than last week- and looking forward to cooking up another batch for gift-giving.

Unlike that harsh bottled Italian giardiniera, it's pleasantly pickle-y without being overwhelmingly biting and sour. It's a bit sweet and ever so slightly spicy, managing to walk a perfect line between sweet and sour and hot which is something I've never found in a bottled, pickled anything. Half a recipe makes plenty, a full recipe would make enough for all your neighbors, and it's beautiful...imagine it in a big, wide-mouthed glass jar tied with a ribbon as a lovely holiday host/ess gift. Plus it goes great with olives and cheese and a glass of wine which in my world always wins the honor of being dubbed a perfect recipe.

MMMMMMMMmm for pickled vegetables!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Boy is torturing me.

If you can bear the sight, check out that big box from Zappos.
What did it contain, you ask, and why am I not celebrating it's contents, in my normal, shoe-addicted, I-just-got-a-box-from-Zappos manner?
(And why does Little Kitty look so pissed?)

Certainly you will understand the depths of my agony when I tell you it contained not one but TWO pairs of Keens and some Nike sneakers.


send help

Friday, November 23, 2007

Who's Got a Food Hangover?

Boy and I hosted his family yesterday for what we decided will count as our first official party here at Casa Splatgirl. Whooohooo!
So we're officially open as THE party destination house, as long as you promise to overlook the many works in progress that is. But really, it's kind of a big deal for me, the whole first party thing, as a lot of the designing and planning that went into this place was done with future parties in mind, and it's been much, much too long since we've been able to enjoy having a house full of family and friends.

Anyway, by now you've probably realized that there are a few basic themes at work in my life, not the least of which are food and decorating which puts Thanksgiving squarely in the favorite holiday category. So, while I didn't go completely insane with either the food or the decorating for this inaugural event, we did manage to pull off a lovely party.

As hostess and head chef, between whisking up gravy, carving turkey and making sure the deelicious Corn Gratin with Fried Onion Rings and Bacon made it onto everyones' plates in hot and creamy glory, I neglected to get a single picture of the food. In the calm before the storm, however, I did get a few shots of the decor:

I had to keep the table simple because it's narrow, so I opted for a single line of votive candles and some sprigs of pepperberry. Simple and pretty.

The finally finished sideboard* on the north wall made for a serviceable bar, although at some point I'd like to work a functional bar into the currently unused space under the stairs:

And another view of the table:

I sewed the linens from stuff I got cheap at the local fabric outlet. The bottom tablecloth is silk dupioni in an amazing purply-bronze color, the runner a modernish cotton print and the center thing is two IKEA placemats in the current LISBET colorway, sewn together end to end. A fairly nice looking table for $25 or $30 bucks worth of fabrics.

I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday with plenty of leftovers!

We're bucking the black Friday hype and staying in to snuggle up in front of BigTV and watch movies today, with some serious dog walking on deck for later.

*I'd love to hear your comments on these two red doors. I'm still trying to make up my mind on whether they're OK in thrown in there or not. Since my original Hallarum is no longer available, the alternative would be switching them all out for red but I can't decide if it's worth spending the $250 for five more red doors...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nap Season

Today is this kind of day:

I folded this quilt over the end of our bed because I'm in a mad hunt for the perfect wall color for the room and I was hoping to be inspired. Evidently the kitties were inspired too.

Inspired to take a nap, that is...

We're a little pet-centric here at S.C. lately, huh? I've got projects on the brain, so truthfully very little else interesting has been happening. Not to mention that it's the time of year where I just feel like crawling into bed for a long nap.
If only there were room for a human on that bed.

Are you all set for the Project Runway season premier tonight? I was thinking I'd cook something German because Boy calls the show not Project Runway but "auf wiedersehen". Maybe weiner schnitzel? Breaded fried meat. Impossible to go wrong with that, right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Warm Spots

If you've followed along all these years over at Modern in MN, you know our house is heated with a hydronic radiant system rather than forced air, which, for those of you home tech-a-phobes, means that our heat comes from water that's heated by a boiler and then circulated through tubing embedded in the concrete floors. And because the house itself is concrete and super-insulated, it tends to hold it's temperature very, very well, allowing us to have just turned on the heat the other day despite the fact that we are well into the cool season here.
Anyway, what the whole hydronic radiant thing means from a human perspective is that it's absolutely silent and there's no blowing air. More importantly, it means that we have deliciously warm floors all winter...the better to be appreciated by unheard-of-in-Minnesota-winter bare feet....

and lounging kitties:

It's always a hoot to see what new warm spot they'll find for lounging, and M-Ah in particular is the queen of the hunt. Before she got so dang fat stealing food from the old lady kitties around here, she used to wedge herself ALL THE WAY under the kitchen cabinets (that's a 4" space, FYI), on more than one occasion prompting a full-house shakedown search because we thought she was missing and lost or dead or both.
Now that she's her pudgy, round self, I guess under the lockers will have to do.

At least I know where she is.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I admit it.
I am the most evil dog mommie EVER, capable of sending relaxed, happy, lounging dogs running in terror, searching for cover in the furthest reaches of the house.
All with one fell swoop...er noise...?

Otherwise known as WHY is PupCake standing in the bathroom shaking like a leaf in a full, drippy-nose cower?

Because mommie has da hiccups.

Yep, that's right. Those horrible, hound murdering hiccups that spell impending, painful doom to any Greyhound within a one mile radius.
...before she peels back my fur and pokes toothpicks into my eyeballs with her hiccups.
Welcome to my Greyhounds' neuroses.

In other news, I've had the most fabulous idea for a new kind of exercise machine.
Now, you're familiar with that 80's stand-by, the StairMaster, right? And it's much adored full-body workout cousin, the NordicTrack? Or my own, much coveted but never owned personal favorite, the VersaClimber?
Yes, so. Along those same lines, my new invention.
It's called the RakeMaster, and it's guaranteed to give you the full body workout of your dreams. You know, the kind of workout that makes what you thought was your reasonably fit body feel like it got hit by a truck? It will be a huge hit, I promise, because it will give the gift of "The Raking Workout" to all those less fortunate folks who live in non-deciduous-tree bearing places, and extend the season of awesomeness that is "The Raking Workout" for us forest dwellers to year 'round.
I think I got hit by a truck while I was using that rake. There must be a way to duplicate this without having to actually rake actual leaves.
On the other hand, yesterday was an absolutely amazing weather day for November, and I've got a nice tidy half acre of yard to prove it. Not to mention some seriously sore, evidently previously unused muscles.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Conquering Yarn Mountain

One hundred yards down, 1000 yards to go:

I am not a garment knitter, necessarily, so yarn mountain scares me just a little. Such a big commitment and all. And for the record, all you chronic garment/sweater knitters scare me too. Because you make us non-garment knitters look like commitment-phobes.
And wimps.
Pretend knitters, even.
Knitting poseurs?

It's just so hard for me to face the idea of working up 10 or 12 or 14 balls of ALL THE SAME YARN (aka yarn mountain: see above), turning each and every linear foot into all those tiny little size 5 stitches, all the while hoping for the best; that planned garment looks at least partly as flattering on planned wearer as it does in imaginary knit garment world.

So we shall see. Both weather I am capable of conquering yarn mountain, and if planned garment ends up working for planned wearer, aka moi.

But I will say that I am hating the whole knitting ribbing thing much, much less ever since the turtleneck shrug when I forced myself to learn how to knit in the Continental manner rather than English. So. Much. Faster.
And another bonus: This particular sweater is knit circularly from the neck down, forcing me to master the tubular cast on. Hurray! I'm loving my nice, tidy-yet-stretchy neck edge courtesy of Knitty, Sivia Harding, and most helpful of all, Megan at notmartha who was kind enough to explain what is, IMO, her superior method for working tubular cast-on in K2P2 rib.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Goings on

The weather, last weeks' girly get together and inspiration from a couple of patterns from the current issue of Vogue Knit1 magazine put me back into mustknitsomething mode, and as a result I'm anxiously awaiting some yarn for this:

specifically, the first photo, the shrug thing.
I'm doing it in the 'coal' colorway with KnitPicks merino Swish DK. I hope I love it because you know, I don't decide to go out on a garment knitting adventure all that often and I'd hate to end up with something not nice.
I'm also seriously considering the hoodie in the third photo here:

but I must say I'm concerned that it will be too warm for even our most sub-zero days, as it is knit with a TRIPLE strand of Lion brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick. But I've always been weirdly obsessed with those giant gauge knit items and the hoodie seems like something I might actually wear and maybe not look too bad in. OTOH, having to buy 10 or 12 skeins of sort of ishycrylic yarn, even if I can get it on sale at he crap I mean craft store, is not all that appealing to me. So I guess I'm still on the fence. Maybe I'll dig around on the web a bit and see if I can find some examples of the F.O.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Casa Splatgirl was pleased to host a couple of my favorite girly pals last night for a little eating and crafting. On the menu was one of my stand-by cool season favorties, Tortilla soup with Avocado Relish, with hot bread and corn muffins on the side. For dessert, I went out on a Martha Stewart limb and made the Pumpkin Spice Cake from the latest issue of Everyday Food:

Perhaps I have told you before about my aversion to M.S. recipes, a phobia cultivated primarily as a result of having bought her cookbook several years ago and subsequently discovering that most of the recipes either sucked or just didn't turn out as they should. And I confessed a few months ago to only being in the Everyday Food subscriber pool because of the free apron they offered. So, while I've enjoyed the photography and inspiration, I think this is the first recipe I've bothered with from the several months' worth of issues I've now amassed. But when I compared it to the other contender, Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Icing which has good reviews on epicurious, I figured the two were close enough that I may as well go with the one that called for butter rather than oil and not have to screw around with sifting cake flour.

It turned out pretty well I guess. The cake is dense and moist and the icing delivers all the deliciousness you'd expect from cream cheese, butter and sugar. I think I would up the spices a bit next time or use cinnamon, clove, ginger and allspice separately instead of pumpkin pie spice and maybe add a tart component like a bit of lemon or orange zest, but this is minor stuff. Considering the source and past experience, that it turned out and was edible means a lot. On the other hand, it's more effort and not as good as some of those sheet pan pumpkin bars I've had over the years but never seem to make myself so I guess it's probably not a make-again hit.
Anyway, a nice fall evening sit down was had and hopefully last nights' event will be the impetus for rebirth of the once grand and fabulous CraftyChix gatherings...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Camera Shy

I mentioned the other day that there has been PupCake dress ups going on, and today I bring you our favorite canine model in the prototype for his new winter coat, hot off my sewing machine:

Just look at that poor, abused Greyhound. You'd think I was telling him we have to go to the dentist or something. In this house there is nothing that will make an otherwise very well adjusted, crazy-happy hound tuck his tail between his legs and beg for mercy like the dreaded fashion show. Mommie is SUCH an evil photographer!
As I said, this is just the prototype, hence the somewhat non-Splatgirl Creates-ish fabric choices. I made him a perfectly good coat last season, but it was something I just whipped up on the fly and therefore rather simple. So while it certainly did the job, this season I wanted to make more of an effort to end up with a good, reproduce-able pattern for something with a little more fit and coverage. And I picked up some fantastic, Kaffe Fasset fabric a while ago that I have slated for his "A" outfit with matching collar and leash but I wanted to make sure I had the fit exactly right before proceeding.
So, because it's camo and utilitarian looking, I added cargo pockets on both sides. These likely won't make an appearance in this incarnation on the final garment, but in the name of utility they're all the better to carry your MOOPocket to the post office on our afternoon walks with.

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