Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Show and Tell!

Last night I went to a sewing program at a library in Madison. We made oilcloth dop kits. For someone who has never successfully sewn anything with a zipper before, this project was a little overwhelming at first.

But look at how cute it is! And the zipper actually works! I like it so much, I'm already planning to make more. If you are reading this, you'll likely be getting one (or several) of these for Christmas. Just forget you read this and then act surprised when you open yours up in eleven months. Okay?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't Mess With Texas

Last weekend, I went to a conference in Dallas. I could tell you about all of the new books and authors and literary stuff, but let's skip that and talk about the best part of the trip: touring Cowboys Stadium. You may know that I adore the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, thanks in large part to the CMT reality show Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
Karl knows how much I love the cheerleaders, and he left several darling secret notes in my luggage, wishing me luck at my audition.
We got to go in the cheerleaders' locker room! Definitely the highlight of the tour. Other people on the tour were interested in the football team, players, the stadium, etc. Bo-ring. I just wanted to see cheerleader stuff.
Here I am with my new uniform:
You're not supposed to touch the pom-poms, but the tour guide let me! It's possible that she just wanted to get me out of the locker room. Whatever. It was still awesome.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nerdville, Population 2

This is normal, right? All garages are full of card catalogs, aren't they?

But seriously. They're so adorable.

All those drawers... all those labels... it's true love.

But what I'm really excited about is this little beauty. Check out those label holders just waiting to be filled.

Future home of all of my knitting supplies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just My Type

Here's my newest score from the University of Wisconsin surplus store... tell me it's not the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Right now, it's living on the kitchen table until we find a good spot for it. But I'm beginning to think that the kitchen table may be as good a spot as any. Perfect for an ongoing grocery list, or little surprise notes to one another.
On the same shopping expedition, I snagged a card catalog. It's waiting to be picked up, but I'll share some photos once we've got it home!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Husband's Handiwork

For the last I don't know how many years (at least 7), I've stored my jewelry in this darling little set of wooden drawers, courtesy of a yard sale. Each drawer is labeled with a different battery size, and I could never bear to take those sweet labels off.

Even though it has a handy nail hole for hanging, I never hung my jewelry keeper up. Instead, I've kept it behind my sock basket in the armoire. Here it is in its natural surroundings:

For Christmas, I asked Karl to make me a new jewelry holder, mainly so that my earrings are in plain sight so I'm more likely to wear them. We had a simple wooden frame from a thrift store, and Karl painted it, fitted it with wire mesh, added some knobs, and there you have it! Cute, huh?

Don't worry about my tried and true jewelry keeper. It's still in its rightful place behind the socks, holding a few things that didn't fit on the new one. And I like to think it is a lot more comfortable now that its drawers aren't crammed completely full.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweet, Dude.

My friend Kate recently introduced us to this simple and delicious sweet potato recipe. It didn't take long for us to try it at home, with our own spin...

Pithy Instructions for Delicious Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes

  • Mix equal parts chili powder, cumin, and salt in a small bowl. We used about 1 Tablespoon of each because we like a lot of flavor, and because we were making a lot of sweet potatoes.

  • Rub the seasoning on clean sweet potatoes.

  • Wrap each potato in tinfoil. We cheated and wrapped several of the small potatoes together, which seemed to work just fine.

  • Pile them all in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (the recipe says to cook on high, but low worked fine for us).

  • Serve with rice, black beans, salsa, cilantro, and avocado. Yes, please!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Woodland Critter Christmas: Roll With It

Not sure what to make for breakfast on the next family holiday? Team Struckmeyer's got you covered.

Start with a package of refrigerated biscuits in a tube. Get the butter flavored ones if you must. Relish the feeling of opening the tube. Shape each biscuit into a basic small animal form. Think rounded blob with smaller rounded blob sticking out.

Sterilize the scissors on your mini Swiss Army knife and snip the dough to create spikes. The more spikes, the better. Just keep snipping.

Bake according to the instructions on the package; serve warm with honey.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Woodland Critter Christmas Meringue Contest

A lot of time on Christmas Eve was spent creating woodland critters out of meringue. Our favorite Christmas cookie magazine features a recipe for meringue angels, so we used that for our starting point. We mixed up a few batches of meringue in my mom's Kitchen-Aid, put it into decorating bags fitted with large tips, and away we went! Each of us had a workstation covered with parchment paper, which made transferring the critters to baking sheets really easy.

Elsworth did a lot of research before starting his critters.

Hanna, piping away:

Karl... so serious! He probably didn't want to get any meringue on the new sweater his wife made for him for Christmas.

A few favorites! The m&ms dots on the mushroom didn't quite turn out as we had hoped...

A squirrel angel:

Happy Woodland Critter Chistmas!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Woodland Critter Christmas Accessories

My mom lives out in the woods, so we didn't have to decorate much in order to get in the woodland critter spirit! Here are some highlights of our woodland decorations:

We hung die-cut moose from the candelabra, just above the centerpiece (which was actually a collection of pieces, in the center of the table). The moose are a red and white Scandinavian print (thank you, Ikea).

Here are the centerpiece items up close. Nut cup, anyone? I found the little papers for the nut cups at a specialty baking store. They're shaped like little flowers, with petals. They're really meant for mini cupcakes, but they worked just fine for our woodland treats!

This was in the middle of the kitchen island, where all of the baking activity took place. The squirrel box is full of candy.

Can you believe I got the two owls at the bottom of this photo at a yard sale, in the free box? We were all really glad that the gnome with the broom was there to sweep up after us.

My sister's dog, Nilla, was the only actual woodland critter in attendance. I think she liked the attention!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Woodland Critter Christmas Cookies

I have so much to report from Woodland Critter Christmas! Let's start with the most important item: the cookies. Every year, I make two favorite recipes-- Chocolate Almond Parsons' Hats and Raspberry Candy Canes. They're both from the oldest Christmas cookie magazine in the history of America, which my mom still owns. We got it in the checkout aisle of the grocery store one million years ago and we haven't looked back. You might come from a family in which a lot of items are purchased in the checkout aisle, but I do not. This magazine was a magor thrill, which is probably why I still adore paging through it every single Christmas. One year I followed a recipe in the magazine and made an entire sleigh out of gingerbread, featuring little stained glass panels in the back made of crushed hard candy which melted in the oven. But that was when I had a lot more time on my hands.

This year, for our Woodland Critter Christmas theme, I used the cookies I was already making and created some thematic treats out of the same dough. The parsons' hat dough, plus some slivered almonds, became hedgehog cookies.

Before baking:

After baking, alongside some of the original recipe parsons' hats:
Some of the candy cane dough became a bird and a little bear's head. The bear was meant to be peeking out from behind a log, but I think he was eaten long before that could happen. Here are the bird and bear with a whole herd of hedgehogs: