Monday, December 24, 2007

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Jennifer made this yummy cake yesterday, too, and I got the recipe from her. It's rich and yummy, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you all. I'm going to make it tomorrow for Christmas dinner's dessert.

Preheat oven to 325*
Line a 9" cake pan with waxed paper
Pour in 2 cups whole fresh cranberries, and spread them out
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans), spread over the cranberries
1/2 cup sugar over the nuts and berries

Batter: 2 beaten eggs
Add one cup sugar-mix slowly
Add 1 stick softened butter
Add 1 cup flour, slowly
(I'm assuming she means using a blender for this batter...not a spoon)

Spread the batter over the cranberry/nut/sugar mixture.
Bake at 325* for 60-65 minutes.
Turn out on plate as soon as it's out of the oven.
Remove wax paper carefully.
When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

This cake can be prepared with other fruits as well, like peaches and pineapple.

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Christmas at Jennifer's

Yesterday was our Christmas celebration with my very best friends in the whole wide world. :) Jennifer hosted, and her house was the picture of Christmas beauty. Her husband finished building their dining room table at Thanksgiving time, and this is the first I had seen it. It's black walnut, cut from Jennifer's parents' propery, and Dwight (Jen's husband) planed the wood by hand, built the table by hand, and finished it with tung oil and an antique crackle on the legs. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Here it is set up for our yummy brunch.

I just love this wool rug, made with LOTS of little wool felt circles. The crewel chair was a gift from her came out of her grandmother's house.

These little horses were frolicking on the windowsill of Jen's son Will's room. I thought they made a lovely winter vignette, with the snow outside. The house is a stone house, and that's why the sills are so deep. LOVE it.

This is a closup of a shelf vignette in the family room. Those pears on top are made with wool--needle felted by her mother. You can buy your own kit at Decadent Fibers.

There were little Santas and snowmen tucked into windowsills and niches all over the house.

This is a shot of the mantel. Note the paint swatches perched in there? Hee. She's getting ready to paint the room! (Still no decision on the colors...none of us agreed on I have a TON of wrapping to do...I don't know about the rest of you. Heck, if you're reading this, your wrapping is probably all done, and you're sipping hot toddies while surfing the internet. Don't rub it in. :-P

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas and the Kitties

I'm wishing I had gotten these done sooner...would have made a good Christmas card!

This was Kathleen's Christmas concert the other night. Can you see her?

These are the many faces of my chorus girl. It was a great concert...really put me in a festive mood.
Well, festive or not, I've got sewing to do! Argh! And I haven't even begun my wrapping. And I still have to hit the grocery store at some point today. Helllllllp!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another Snowy Day

I can't believe we don't have another snow day, Mom!
Yeah, well, that's the breaks, Kid. :)

Well, last night was put-up-the-tree night--FINALLY! It was fun...we played Christmas carols, marveled over our favorite ornaments (only broke one!), and argued about the virtues of weaving the lights in and out of the branches and whatnot. Everyone has an opinion around here, that's for sure! The pearl garland was 60% off at AC Moore last night, so I picked it up. I didn't know if it would be tacky and over-the-top, or just pretty. I think it's pretty, and Kathleen agrees!

Ok, so you know the age-old tradition of giving every teacher your kid has ever had, and all of her friends, and the bus driver, and the lunch lady, and everyone else the kid has ever come in contact with throughout the year a gift? Well, we managed to pare it down a LITTLE better than that, but not much. So I got the hairbrained idea that we would make peppermint bark! Great idea! But what to put it in, to make it festive? Why, TUSSIES, of course! Easy! Peasy! Riiiight. lol. Actually, they're not difficult to do...they just take time. I made five of them last night after Kathleen went to bed. She got to pick out the paper and the angel/santa for each teacher, and then I was allowed creative freedom with the rest. I'd say they came out OK, wouldn't you? I could go crazy and add trims and buttons and sequins and glitter, but HELLO, I have like TEN more of these to that is SO not happening.

I've got drapes to hem! It's not over 'til it's over, people!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another busy day coming up for me, but I took time out to visit winter. I took a drive at 7am this morning...and this is what I found.

I love the frost on his snout.

And then my batteries died. :-P
Have a great day, all!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Happy Friday, everyone!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Cardinals

James Vanderpoel House

"The House of History" (1818) 16 Broad Street (US Route 9) in Village of Kinderhook, NY 12106 Tel: (518) 758-9265 Open: Thursday through Saturday 11 to 5 and Sunday 1 to 5 (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day)
*Admission fee: Donation
* Run by the Columbia County Historical Society. Noted Albany restoration architect Doug Bucher calls it "the ultimate example of Federal architecture in this area."

I almost forgot the cardinals! Inside the lobby of the James Vanderpoel House in Kinderhook ther other night, were dozens of paper cardinals hanging from the second floor, turning in the breeze from the door as it opened and closed with new visitors, and the sounds of a live string quartet filled the home.

The moldings in this house are incredible. I didn't have my camera on me for the tour, but I did manage to get the cardinals picture with my phone...hence the substandard quality. However, if you could have seen how beautiful they all looked, flying there. There was also a whole tree covered in red cardinals in the corner of the room.

This house could really use a facelift. As lovely as it is, it looks like the historical society has all it can do to keep the place from falling down from one year to the next. It would be great if they could have some big fundraiser to help keep the place up. A dollar here and there obviously isn't cutting it. It would be a shame to see it deteriorate more. They are obviously doing the best they can with what they have.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kinderhook Candlelight Night

I know I said that I'd post pictures of other vendors from the Coxsackie extravaganza last weekend, and I will, but time flies by, and new things happen! This past Friday night was Candlelight Night in Kinderhook, NY, which is about 40 minutes east of me, over on the other side of the Hudson River. I believe this is our fourth year--maybe fifth--and it never fails to put me in a festive mood for the holiday season.

They line the streets and sidewalks with luminarias, serve free hot chocolate and mulled cider, and all of the stores stay open late. There are free horse-drawn sleigh rides (the sleighs are on through the town, and there's a fire in the town center for roasting marshmallows.

I discovered a new store this year. And what a store it is. It's the home of Michael Devine, designer at large.
He designs a gorgeous line of hand-screened fabrics, available to the trade, and in his store on pillows and draperies. His store is full of unique accessories and gifts. I couldn't get enough of the place!

So as we chatted briefly amongst the throngs of shoppers in the tiny space, he showed me his spread in Domino magazine this month, AND he let me take pictures because I told him I wanted to share my new find on my blog! Click HERE to visit his website. You can even shop at the website! The artichoke tulip vase is my favorite.

Ok. Give me a couple of days....more pics to come! It's LATE! I sewed all day today, and I can't keep my eyes open any longer.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Trunk Show '08

I can't believe how many pictures I have from last weekend's jewelry extravaganza. It was difficult to get good ones of my trees draped in jewels, though. The pictures above are of my friend Suzanne's house. I was set up in her dining room. It was perfect, because there was a nice big mirror right between my two tables, so people could try things on and admire themselves in the mirror. :) The idea to display my things on trees came to me one night when I was stressing about how to display necklaces without professional necklace racks. I love my feather trees, and the swirly wire one came from my friend Pat. They were just the thing I needed for this holiday party. It was a great success. The only bummer is, now I have to think of new just-as-spectacular ideas for other times of the year! Hmmmm.....any help?
Above is a picture of my Coxsackie Christmas by the River display. Those pictures came out even worse! LOL! I was set up in the front office of Century 21 Heartland Realty (thanks, Peggy--you rock!), on the secretary's desk. Next year I'm going to bring some sort of screen as a backdrop, I think, and music, and COOKIES. :) There has to be something to distract the kids while the moms are looking at gems! Hee! It was a great experience...there were lots of great vendors there, and quite a bit of traffic. I was in a prime spot. A special thanks goes out to Peggy Quigley for letting me get in at the last minute. She's a good egg. Next year I'll plan ahead, and I'll be in the brochure and everything!

Can you see my little gift bags in the background? You should have seen me putting those together the night before! I love the little stickers though.

Well, it's sewing time! I'll post pics of the other vendors tomorrow. Wait 'til you see the ADORABLE tiny faux fireplace I bought!
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sale at Fiddlehead Studios!

Hi y'all! It's HALF OFF TIME at Fiddleheadstudios. All of my jewelry is HALF PRICE until the end of the year. Feel free to do some holiday shopping! I have cute little gift boxes and/or bags...just convo me if you are giving gifts.

It's been a crazy week! I was out at my mother's house, cleaning out more stuff last week (more about that later), and then on Friday night my friend Suzanne had a party featuring some of her friends' handmade items, and her sister-in-law's Arbonne skin care products. It was a great success for me--I sold a ton of jewelry, and it was a fun time to boot! (And of course I spent some of my profits...hee!) I'll have pictures later. Then on Sunday, I showed my jewelry at Christmas by the River, in Coxsackie, NY. I got in at the last minute, and since I had just been all set up at Suzanne's on Friday night, it was easy to set up for that event too. I had a very successful day down there too, and now I'm just buckling down and sewing until Christmas, with not much time for anything else.

That's it for tonight. Hopefully I'll have some more time tomorrow to post some pics and tell more stories. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Window Shopping

This is the view from Olana, Frederick Church's home in Hudson, NY. We saw it up on the mountain as we drove across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on our way across the river to Hudson.
(We didn't go up there today, though--too much shopping to do!)

Kathleen and I went shopping today. We drove south, intending to go to Hudson, to check out some of my favorite shops, and do a little Christmas shopping. Well, in the manner in which we do things, we veered off of our planned path, and ended up in Saugerties. How did that happen, you ask? It all started when Kathleen said (because we always have our best chats in the car) that all of her friends have fun stories to tell about things their mothers used to do when they were younger, and she didn't have any to share! She said I don't tell stories about my younger days. And you know, she's right! My father used to share his childhood stories with us all the time when we were kids, and I remember being entranced by them! So why then, have I so neglected that tradition? I guess I've never been much of a storyteller...

So there we were, taking the scenic route south, making a bee-line for Hudson, and it occurred to me that we were coming up to the turn I took during the summer of 1985 to go to work at Pleasant Acres Resort in Leeds, NY. I thought, HEY--what a perfect opportunity to share one of my "stories." So we took the turn, and as we drove the twisty road to where the resort used to be, I saw new houses that had been erected, forests that had been chopped, and a "newness" that took me aback. But the further we drove, the more familiar it got, and I showed Kathleen the spot where I had 360'd the old green Subaru on a rainy day and scared myself half to death, and told her a bit about the 7-days-a-week, 3-meals-a-day drudgery that was that summer of waitressing at Pleasant Acres. It wasn't all drudgery, of course, because I worked with my sister, and made new friends, but when I think of the hours I worked then--oy! Thank God I was just a kid. Hmmm...I forgot to tell her about the night my sister and I sang during "Talent Night" up on stage. That was a big night for me! Lights, a band, microphones....people WATCHING It was fun. I guess that's a story for another day!

As we drove through Leeds, which is a very cute old town, I saw the sign for the NYS Thruway, so we got on it, heading south. Silly me...if I had just gone straight THROUGH Leeds, we would have been over the river and into Hudson in 5 minutes. But NO. It's been so long since I've been on that road, that I got confused. So, since we were headed south toward Saugerties, and we couldn't turn around, I made sure we stopped and did a little shopping there, before we headed back up to Hudson. We ended up in the Saugerties Antiques Gallery, and The Willow Tree, and we passed a bunch of others on our way out of town, in our haste to get to our REAL destination. The find of the day? A book at The Willow Tree called something like "Tell Me Your Stories, Mom." (It's downstairs hidden with the other Christmas gifts, or I'd go find the real title for you.) How serendipitous was THAT, though?! Kathleen picked it up, and said "Oh my GOSH! LOOK at this! Can I give it to you for Christmas, and will you fill it out?!" I looked through the book, and it's a guided story-telling book, with lots of questions to prompt stories from my childhood. It's JUST what she needs from me, and it's JUST what I need to give her. My hist0ry--it'll be my gift to her. I wish I had one from my mother.

We finally made it to Hudson, and stopped at my favorite shop, Lilli and Loo, which unfortunately does not yet have a website, or I'd link you up. It's two floors filled with beautiful handmade scarves, fabulous funky furniture, and quirky little accessories like carved graphite sculptures that you can write with, and real bugs encased in clear acrylic blocks. The owner has a great eye for what's new and different, and her store is a visual treat. I can't believe I didn't buy anything there!

Then it was off to Hudson Home, which is my next favorite shop in Hudson. This place is unreal. They have a great line of transitional furniture, cowskin rugs, beautiful glassware, funky one-of-a-kind lighting and accessories. It's another treat for the senses, and I love going there just to drool. They even had two silk Fortuny lamps which I tried to keep my hands off of. They were following behind me with drool-cloths...hee!

There is one thing they had done in their front room, which doesn't show on the website, because those pictures are older, that really caught my eye this time. First of all, it was the fireplace wall. Inside the "fireplace", or rather, where a fireplace SHOULD have been, they had glued thin slices of birch logs all onto a black board, to make the fireplace look as if it had been stacked chock-full of logs. I just saw this in one of my deco mags recently, and thougt it was such a clever idea! THEN, surrounding the fireplace, and bear with me, because this is difficult to describe, but it was essentially a faux library wall. All white. There were thin firring strips attached to the wall horizonally, protruding a bit, to give the illusion of shelf edges. Then hundreds more firring strips had been cut into book-height pieces, and lined up and stacked up on these "shelves" to create this relief, I guess, for lack of a better word...a "library" relief. I wish I had thought to get a picture of it on my phone. Darn. Next time. Anyway, the whole thing was painted white, so it was punctuated only by the fireplace mantel, and the "logs" inside it. Too cool for school, my friends. If I can find a picture on the internet of something similar, I'll come back to show you. Heck, maybe when I get my house, I'll copy it and show you MY version! Ha! :)

Well, here's a link to the antique shops in Hudson, and galleries. I wish there was a site with ALL the shops. It's like a little Hamptons right in the middle of "upstate" NY. Hudson used to be such a dive. It's amazing what has happened in just a few short years. People travel from all over to do their shopping there...I even saw the furniture twins (I forget their from Antiques Roadshow there a few years ago. Nifty.

Oops, I almost forgot our in-between stop in Catskill. It's called Variegated, and they do all of their own silkscreened linens and pillows. Very cool. The town of Catskill is also seeing a bit of a rebirth in recent years. Kathleen and I actually went to Hood & Company on Thanksgiving day....I spent a chunk of change there on Christmas gifts. The owner is a doll--very sweet guy, and very into making the whole Main St, Catskill thing a success. I wish him the best!

Ok, that's it. I'm done talking about my shopping day! I hope I didn't bore you all. I just love that I live so close to such great places to shop. Tomorrow I'm headed up to Saratoga for an appointment with a client at Sutton's Marketplace. I'll let you know what I find! Last year, they had great Christmas trees up all over, and ornaments galore. 'Tis the season! Where have YOU been shopping? (And I don't want to hear ""

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Sharon Lalor

Wow...has it really been over two weeks since my last post?! Well, this time of year is crazy for me. I just finished up a bunch of pre-Thanksgiving sewing jobs, as well as squeezing in a trip out to my mother's house last weekend to clean it up and get it ready to sell.

My sister and I went out with Kathleen, and we really made some good headway, for only having a day and a half of work time! We made one trip to the dump, and one trip to Salvation Army. Then we cleaned and "staged" the place. There is still a TON of stuff we need to get organized, but we left things looking very good.

My first bit of thanks for today goes to my mother, who saved some of the cutest stuff from our childhoods. Marj and I found cards sent to my parents when she was born. There are photo albums like you wouldn't believe, as well as boxes of more recent photos, which we'll have to organize at some point. Kathleen has volunteered herself and Madeline to put them all in scrapbooks. I don't think she has ANY clue the task at hand!

There are cassette tapes of us singing together as kids...classic hilarity. We were good singers, but the conversation in between songs is the best part....a fantastic glimpse at the girls we once were. Thanks, Mom, for saving all that stuff, even though it's been cluttering up attics and basements and barns for the last 30 yrs. I mean, seriously, do I have to save Kathleen's kindergarten artwork too? Sigh. I guess I do! :)

Speaking of my mother, her birthday was three days ago, on the 19th. She would have been 68 this year. That was a difficult day for me. In fact, it's been a difficult week. Yesterday, while peeling apples for an apple pie, the smell and the sight of them brought back memories of peeling apples, and helping Mom make pies when I was a kid. She always made her own crust, and made little tarts filled with raspberry jam with the leftovers. They were like our little reward for helping out. So I peeled apples and cried a bit, but smiled through my tears. These are all good memories, and ones that I'd love to pass down to my daughter--traditions and comforts that will be remembered when she is an adult.

OK, since this is a post about thanks, I guess I'll just dedicate the whole thing to Mom. My last bit of news for today is that we have an offer on her house, just four days after it was listed. We'll be closing in mid-January, and my heart once again fills, because thanks to Mom, I'll be able to buy a house of my own, and put down some of my own roots with Kathleen. She'll have a place to call her own, and she'll be able to come home to it someday from college, and know that it's ours. This too makes me cry, because as a single, self-employed mother, homeownership seemed to be a distant dream. Today, that dream is much closer to reality.

Thanks, Mom. I miss you.

Remember the ones you care about today. Hold them close, tell them you love them, thank them for the place they fill in your heart. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
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