as extending from Thanksgiving to just after New Year's Day,
when I start "putting it all away."
So, I've got another week to go.
My daughter Kate is visiting from NYC
and will be heading back on Wednesday, weather permitting...
She's packed a lot into her time here from a couple
of days in the mountains with high school friends,
a visit back to UT in Knoxville, with college friends and
dividing her time between my house and her dad's.
They had originally planned a few days to Miami to visit with
family, but that got cancelled because of the weather.
She also managed to find time to make her Christmas gift to me!!!
The Cerulean Warbler!!!
A very timely gift since we've both just finished reading
Jonathan Franzen new novel, FREEDOM and
have spent some time this holiday talking to each other about it.
There's A LOT to talk about too! This is a very big and complex story about American family life against the backdrop of ... of well, American Life (i.e. 9/11, the environment, the wars we're in now, etc).
At any rate, the cerulean warbler is an important bird in the novel. Since it has become somewhat of a yearly tradition for Kate to make me a "Santa riding an animal" ornament, (you can read about that here) this year's choice of animal is very special. I will now always remember this holiday as the year we discussed this excellent book.
It turns out the cerulean warbler was an after thought. I actually got TWO new ornaments this year. "Santa riding a chicken" was the first one she made, then, as a result of our book discussions, Kate got an inspiration and made the second one!
I've limited my quilted pillows to Christmas ones.
Several years ago I decided
I would make one new design each year,
then in a few years time,
I would have a lovely collection
to bring out at holiday time.
This is the first one I did.
I always quilted the year the pillow was made
somewhere on it, so I can tell you without a doubt, this one is from
Here is 1993's pillow.
Unfortunately, I did not continue the tradition to present,
but, I did do it enough years to accrue a nice collection of
This Celtic braid pillow is from 1994. That was the first year I was part owner in a yarn shop with four other dear friends.
Each of them got one of these pillows that year. (That was almost like making a full quilt!)
This is one of my favorites. You can see the year, 1995, quilted in the center.
Several years passed with no new pillows, but last year I got inspired again....
...and made a couple of "Yo Yo" pillows. Sadly, no quilting here.
I've recently been intrigued with the Celtic design again and wondered how I could combine it with knitting.
The result is knitted I-cord (the knitters out there will know what I talking about), appliqued onto the pillow top in a traditional Celtic braid pattern. I then hand quilted around the braid pattern. The result is a nice merging of my passion for knitting with my infatuation with quilting!
This is what it looked like outside Buttermilk Cottage yesterday.
But, no need for it to be dreary inside.
I made some homemade
Here's the recipe 1/2 lb. ground beef 1/2 c. chopped onion 3/4 c. shredded carrots 3/4 c. chopped celery 1 t. dried basil 1 t. dried parsley 6 c. chicken broth 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced 3T. butter 1/3 c. all-purpose flour 3/4 lb. processed, reduced fat American cheese, cubed 1 1/2 c. milk 3/4 t. salt 1/2 t. pepper
Cook ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat about 3 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles. Add onion and next 4 ingredients and saute 4 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Drain well. Return beef mixture to Dutch oven.
Stir in chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Melt 3 T. butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Gradually stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes, or until flour is lightly browned. Whisk flour mixture into simmering beef mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until thickened.
Whisk in cheese and next 3 ingredients just until cheese melts.
Makes 12 cups.
Yumm...just the thing to serve on a cold evening.
And just the thing to serve with it is
Sour Cream Corn Bread
I found this recipe in GOURMET magazine years ago. Its simplicity was a bit contrary to what some of their recipes could be. But, it is without a doubt the best cornbread I have ever tasted. I have modified it just a bit to insure the crunchy crust on the bottom.
1 c. self-rising cornmeal 2 beaten eggs 2/3 c. cream style corn 1 c. sour cream 1/2 c. oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour oil into an 8-9 inch iron skillet and place in the oven while it is preheating. Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients together. When oven is preheated, pour excess oil from skillet into mixture, leaving a liberal coating in the skillet. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE, THE OIL IS HOT.
Quickly stir and pour mixture into the hot skillet and return to oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.
When baked, invert immediately onto a plate and slice. Makes one 8 or 9 inch round of cornbread.
A perfect meal for a cold evening.
Because I'm sharing "my favorite" cornbread recipe