Sunday, January 29, 2012

Well, isn't that just darling.

Lindsey over at Keep It Classy, Alabama is celebrating her first blogoversary! And she's celebrating big.

Which kind of makes me think, should I have marked the occasions of my blogoversaries? Hmm. I'm such a lackluster blogger!

but anyway, check out the aahhhhdorable item she's giving away today.

Isn't that just darling!

Oh... am I tooting my own horn? Well hey, I can do that, right?

She has a lovely blog, so go check it out!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's Baking? January: Snow Day!

This month, Melissa of I Was Born to Cook chose a Snow Day baking them. Perfect! And even better, we finally did have some snow around here so I actually baked these on a snowy day.

All week leading up to the snowy day, I'd been eating scones. I don't often make scones- I love them, but I never seem to have just the right recipe. Well, I have to admit, the scones I was eating were from a batch I made last April- yes, last April. I froze half the dough in a log wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. And by the end of the week when the dough log was nearing its end, I was very sad! Those were some delicious scones. But you know what's worse? I can't find the recipe anywhere. I swear it was from Joy the Baker, but I can't find it... ugh! So I had to get looking for a new recipe, because I was not about to stop my daily scone habit cold turkey. Especially when there was snow in the forecast. There's just something about sitting in our dining room, watching the snow fall from both sets of windows, while eating something warm and homey like a scone, that you just can't beat.

Fortunately, I have a relatively new cookbook with seemingly endless delicious-looking recipes. Roxanne gave me a copy of Flour for my birthday, and I'm loving her recipes. And oh look, she has scones. Let's try those.

Oatmeal Maple Scones
from Flour, by Joanne Chang

1.5 cups flour (I used half AP and half WW)
1.25 cups oats
1.5t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup (or a little more) raisins
1 stick butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/3 fat free 1/2&1/2 (original called for heavy cream)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg

Sift together the flour, soda, powder, salt, oats, pecans and raisins. Toss the butter in, a few chunks at a time so it's not one huge lump, and beat until the butter is broken down a bit and in small chunks.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/2&1/2, maple syrup and egg. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the liquids and beat until the dough just comes together.

Scoop 1/3cup-sized scoops of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze), and bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Let cool, and when ready to serve, drizzle each with maple glaze.

Maple Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1.5T maple syrup
1T water

Whisk together.

I used this fancy raisin medley thing from BJ's, which was full of giant raisins of all sorts of colors. I do love raisins, and they were perfect in these scones. You'll notice there's no granulated or brown sugar in the recipe- all the sweetness comes from the maple syrup. As a result, they're just slightly sweet, and when you glaze them, they're perfect. I plan to make these again this weekend- snow or no snow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I went to Vermont, and I tried on clothes

So we went to VT this past weekend. We came for the Norwich Inn's Brewer's Weekend (super fun! Stay tuned for that post), and Clint stayed for a few days for work. But what did I do? I went shopping ;)

There is a nice little store in Manchester, VT, among all the outlets, called The 5 Seasons. It's a resort-y store, filled with Lilly, Vineyard Vines and other brands I'm less familiar with. It's an outlet. It's all past seasons of Lilly. And everything is at least 50% off.

But really, I think the best part is that it's past seasons Lilly- stuff you wanted but waited too long to get. Here's your chance!

To be honest, I'm on a shopping hiatus. No more clothes for me for a while, I hit my monthly limit (actually, if I were good, it'd be my 2-month limit) on January 3rd. But "going shopping" doesn't mean "buying", if you've been reading my blog you know it means going to a store and trying on every single thing in my size. And this shopping trip did not disappoint!

So here we go. Let's talk dresses and sizes and fit. In what order? Why, chronological. I have to follow my notes.
First of all, here's what you see when you walk upstairs (downstairs is all Judith Connelly or something, Jack Rogers shoes and Lilly stationary. I wanted the Lilly clothes)
drool. Am I right?

In no way does this properly convey the number of items I had in my dressing room. For one, the manager came up with all the other size 12 dresses she could find *after* this picture was taken, and I also had a 2nd round of tops and bottoms.

Now let's get to work.

Bowen, size 10. I'd need a 12 (it looks ok, but it's not actually zipped up all the way), but I didn't sufficiently love this. I'll stick with Sienna.
Kathleen, size L. I tried this on because I see it every so often on clearance. And... blah. Also, it doesn't look tight, but I couldn't actually bend over, it was weird.

Delia, size 10. Finally, I find one to try on! It's cute, I totally see why everyone's in love with Delia. EDIT: this is actually a Stephanie. So, either the tag was mislabeled (and I didn't read the tag on the navy one) or I was hallucinating..... either is possible, there were some erroneous tags.
But here's Delia in a 12, which actually fits.
Harper, L. I've never been a fan of Harper, I think it looks like a sack. It's a lovely dress, just... sack-like. I like it *more* than before since trying it on... but I won't actually get one.
EDIT: it's been brought to my attention that Harpers are in number sizes. And I vaguely remember the fabric tag saying 10, but the paper tag said L. Again, hallucinating or mislabeled tag! Sorry for the errors!
Lee Shift (Jubilee), 10. Too small, which surprised me- I'm a 10 in every other Jubilee dress I've ever tried on. But it's the buttons, I don't do well with button-down fronts. I don't love the high neck anwyay.
Sandra, 12. The manager brought this in to me, and it's very cute! I probably wouldn't have tried it on otherwise. I don't think it *quite* works on me, the ruffle is just TOO big and I don't need to draw attention to my shoulders. But the body of it was well cut. This is also one you can't get on yourself- there's a corset thing in the dress, and it's just impossible to hook without help.
Kiki, size 12. I continue to not love the shaping of the Kiki. Way to cut my body in half awkwardly, thanks! But hopefully this picture will convince my mom to stop telling me to buy this dress (she loves the print)
Charity shift, 12. Sorry for the terrible photo! I tried to check that each photo came out, but I guess I missed this one. Oh well, didn't love the dress that much anyway, it's very expensive compared to the other shifts. It has a very cool back though, the white collar goes around and runs down to a lower, straight back. Not low enough to need special undergarments, but not high like you might expect.
FAVORITE: Maci, size 12. I came so close to buying it. I hope I don't regret not getting it... I think they're even still holding it for me "just in case". But it was still $89 even after all their discounts, and... shopping hiatus!! But I might just give them a call next month and see if it's still around! I don't think Maci is the most flattering thing ever on me, but it's just so cute! And unlike anything else I have with that faux-wrap deal. I would probably buy it just to copy it. Love, love, love.
Hayden, L. One of the few I actually hated. SUPER low cut. I'm glad for the poor lighting because it hides how low-cut this is. I had to take several pictures before I had one I wasn't too embarrassed to share- that's not a good sign! I don't know if maybe I needed XL, but I think for the year this is from most things I needed M, so I can't imagine it's the size. Unless it's mismarked, of course.
Adrianna, L. aka sack. It'd be a cute cover up and I love the print, but as a dress? Not so much. This one was only $54, though.
FAVORITE OF FAVORITES: Fiesta, 10. omg it was so hard to leave this there. But $112! not happening! So sad. It was also tight in the shoulders, so I worry I need a 12- or worse, am between sizes. But I can take in a 12 a bit, if the shoulders fit. Oh and I would have matched my nook cover in this dress!
Wilma, 12. I probably shouldn't even share this photo, that's how much I disliked this one. But I can't do halters like this. If it was a V-neck with regular straps on the same waist/skirt, I'd love it. This 12 just barely fit, so it runs a little small.
Franco, 12. EW. I had about 4 inches of gap between the zipper halves. At that rate I'd need like an 18. Hate the Franco for making me feel fat.
Skylar, 10. This one fit but I don't love the skirt. I'm holding the zipper because it kept catching on the pocket and I decided I didn't care enough about fighting with it. Snap pic, move on!
Fitch, 10. Like! I need a 12 though, it was a hair small. I thought this might be too boxy but it had a good shape. Fitch it on my list!

Another favorite!! (not all-caps-favorite, but favorite). Ivy, size 10- and I need a 12. I also adore this print. I probably wouldn't have been able to resist taking this home if it'd fit. Simple, but nice shape, and one shoulder has a cute little tie- not to mention the cute trim on the hem!
Every so often, my dress-up "shopping" days allow me to cross something off my list. Namely, the tradewind capris. I have another photo that shows off the pants (size 10, apparently I need a 12) better, but I refuse to share it. They looked *bad*. This Heather tank (L) is bad, too. Bad, bad, bad.
Another bad photo, but it shows off bad clothes so it doesn't matter. Lenna top, 10, and Bermuda shorts, 12. I have 2 pairs of these bermudas, and apparently I do really need a 10. I need a 12 in Lenna but I didn't like the tie anyway, it was awkwardly placed.
Cissy, L. It's a Cissy. They're popular, but they just don't quite work on me.
Casey V neck top, XL. Yeah I really need an L- good to know! the V is extremely low, also good to know. I most likely will not be buying a Casey.
Roe top, 12. Fit perfectly. This is another I keep seeing online and going "ohhhh". It's definitely cute, although how old is too old for one-shoulder tops?
Susan, XL. Ick. And I don't think it's just because it was a size too large. it's like a waisted muumuu. Dresses like this make me wonder what they were thinking... awesome print though!
Worth shift, 8. Can you believe that I'd never before tried on a Worth? What a crime! Well, a Worth 10 is now on my list- not at the top, like Fiesta or Maci, but solidly in the middle. What a classic dress! And the mixtape print is super cute.
Whew! That was a lot of clothes. 2 hours of shopping. You have now seen every single thing I tried on (except for the Vineyard Vines dress that was super duper small- apparently I'm a 12 or 14 in VV.) So the big question.... what did I buy?!

I had to be frugal- times are tough for the unemployed! I got a cooler tote and matching cups in Do the Wave as a birthday gift for someone, a Limeade Floaters cooler tote for myself, wrapping paper and file folders for crafting, a coffee cup for someone on fb who's been looking for one, and a VV tote for a friend who was hoping I might find one at a decent price.

(but then I went to Kate Spade and bought myself a bag for 67% off...)

But if you're in VT, check this store out. The manager was really sweet and helpful, and while I don't love the prices (I think outlets should be more than 50% off), if you're desperate for a certain dress, they may have it and 50% is 50%. They have a clearance rack, which, in the past I've found great stuff on, but today it was mostly polos and pants, either ones I already have or not in my size. Stationary is all 20% off, and during this visit was Spring 2011's stuff.

Dresses to note- in case you're ISO something:
Pandamonium Worths, size 4
Jubilee Fitch Shifts, various sizes, 8 and smaller.
Bathing suits in pretty much every size in from this past summer and a few from the previous summer (limeade floaters, hotty pink bloomers)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Party food!

One of the most fun parts of party planning (for me, at least), is planning the menu. What to serve? Fancy? Basic? Old favorites? New finds? And what to put it all on? You should see the lists I go through the week before a party. Savories, sweets and drinks in 3 sections of column A. Column B is the schedule- anything that can be made ahead and stored in the fridge will be. And you must make sure all the things to be baked the day of fit in the oven! Column C is plating. I have a thing for serving dishes, fortunately it's under control now, but back in the days of my 400sq ft condo and galley kitchen, it could get a little crazy.

For our recent party, I made a nice mix of old favorites and new finds. I had a mix of make-ahead dishes and freshly-baked deliciousness. What I did not have was a large amount of desserts- merely 4 kinds of sweets (sugar cookies, white chocolate chip ginger cookies (these are SO much better with white chocolate chips instead of dark/semisweet), crack brownies (caramel in the middle!) and jam bars), but what was out was hardly touched anyway. Nearly 2 weeks later, we're still eating sugar cookies, and I just finished off the crack brownies yesterday.

I don't have any pictures, but I can guarantee all of the following recipes is delicious!

The Make-Ahead Group
Onion Dip (quarter one medium onion (experiment with different kinds) and toss it in a food processor. Process until it's pureed, then add one 8oz block of low fat cream cheese, 1t of an herb blend (I like Penzey's Mural of Flavor, thanks to mom for recommending it!) and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth. ***let sit in refrigerator at least one day before serving*** (because this is raw onion we're talking about!) Serve with chips (I really like the Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato chips with this) or fresh veggies.

Fruit Compote- great with cheese!

Brie En Croute
- an old staple, this appears at nearly every single party I'm involved with. Make ahead, wrap in foil/plastic wrap, and chill or freeze until it's time to bake.

The Freshly-Prepared Group

Roasted bacon-wrapped herbed chevre-stuffed pears- chevre, bacon. Could it get any better? I made half with bacon and half without. These are incredibly simple yet so delicious and elegant. They reheat beautifully! I used regular old d'Anjou pears.

Prosciutto-wrapped melon and fennel- it's exactly how it sounds. Prosciutto wrapped around spears of melon and/or fennel. I roasted the fennel at 400F for about 15 minutes before wrapping.

Other dishes on our table:
cheese platter (manchego, smoked gouda, chevre, sharp cheddar, bovine chevre, boursin)
maple-cider brined turkey breast (from Cooking Light, November 2011, but this link doesn't have the correct recipe- there should be maple syrup in the brine, not sugar)
assorted candies
spiced nuts

This party was the debut of the bacon-wrapped chevre-stuffed pears and the onion dip (cousin Rich's recipe), but you can be sure they'll appear again. Actually the pears might not even wait til a party, I might have them for dinner some random weekday night.

Monday, January 16, 2012

wamozart12 eats leftovers because she is too busy to cook

We had a fabulous little afternoon party last weekend. I'd been wanting to have a party for a while, and the holidays seemed like a nice time to do it- I mean, the house is all decorated and festive, you can serve hot mulled cider with bourbon, and our street wasn't completely buried by snow the way it was last year. So we did it. We had a party. It was a post-holidays party, because seriously, things are busy during the holidays. No one even has time to go buy groceries until after New Year's. But at the same time, once New Years has come and gone, life is just dull. So we had a party the weekend after New Year's. With fabulous food. Of which I took not a single picture. But oh I have some good recipes to share.

And so we've been eating leftovers ever since. The only "cooking" I did was to turn the leftover turkey into a pie, and cook the the 2 pork tenderloins I marinaded but realized we had way too much food (even with 2 leaves in the table, all the cheese on the coffee table and the desserts on the buffet, there was no room for one more dish on the dining table). And the leftovers have been delicious. As we speak I'm waiting for some pizza dough to rise so we can use up the last of the pork in a chipotle pork bbq pizza. With smoked gouda. oooooh.

So what have I been doing if not cooking? Oh, so much.
I made gift bows (some say crazy, I say fun!)

some great drawstring travel pouches
X Marks the Spot silk pouch (only one available!)

3-piece travel set: small drawstring pouch, medium drawstring pouch, and suitcase handle cover.
2-piece travel set: small drawstring pouch and matching suitcase handle cover.

and both sets will be available in other fabrics soon!

small drawstring pouches

drawstring circle pouch

tooth fairy pillows

and because of course I should make some, aprons.
for adults

and for kids.

Not to mention the clothes I've been working on. For the most part, my clothes are by request only. I do have one dress listed which was meant for me, but it ended up being a tad too small. And because it came out so beautifully (seriously, how am I completely self-taught?! I must have absorbed my mom's quilting skillz, although even she won't attempt clothes since finishing home ec in high school) I hesitate to take it apart just to make it fit me, especially when I have plenty more of that fabric. So there's a 38in bust size 10-ish dress available. It's still unhemmed so that I can hem it to the buyer's height.

And then one dress order I'm still working on. Fortunately, my sewing room is nice and toasty, which makes me really want to stay in there all day during this frigid weather.

I started a facebook page for my shop- "like" me and be the first to hear about new items and special offers!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year Cheer sale results!

Fashion show! Everything fits, yay! I expected this because I bought things I'd already tried on... but sometimes you never know!

Here are some pretty bad mirror photos... but you can see the clothes, and that's what matters. This is the only mirror in our house that gets enough light in the evening.

Ciara in red Standing Ovation.
I ordered a Large. People say she runs small, especially in the shoulders, but I actually found her true to size or even a hair large- and I do have broad shoulders. Maybe I'm just more used to things being tight in the shoulders? Well anyway, love, especially this shade of red, which is very tomato-y. Normally I stick to bright red or cranberry, so this is a fun change. Not quite sure how I'll wear this one yet- the Chorus Girl tunic I've been wearing with slim jeans and boots, but I don't know if I should try to mix it up a bit. $138 on sale for $39 :-D

Cassie slub top in Standing Ovation
and in Thrill of the Chaise
These were a hair smaller than the resort slub Cassie I have... unexpected. I'll have to be careful not to put these in the dryer EVER! But I love this top- I love the boatneck and the length- longer, but not too long. Unfortunately, they're not very warm for winter, so...
I tried pairing the standing ovation Cassie with the standing ovation Paley cardigan. I polled fellow Lilly lovers, and the general consensus was too much Standing
Ovation, although a couple people liked it! I like it, but I've been accused of being too matchy-matchy before. So... I wore this at home and next time I wear this Cassie and go out in public, I'll probably wear my 3/4 sleeve navy Paley or my long sleeve green Pierre. Of course, once it's spring the cardigan will be unnecessary.

The Addie, an impulse buy. $198 on sale for $39, of course I had to, right?
The print is On the Half Shell, which I like far better in person than on the website! It was very limey online and in person the turquoise is just as prominent. Addie runs small... I was surprised. I ordered a size up compared to other spring items, and it was small. The straps are also very long, but I often have that problem and it's an easy fix. So hopefully this'll be a little more flattering once I take care of those straps! I really like the empire waist construction, and hope to use this shift to inspire some of my own creations.

Blanca! The never-thought-I'd-get-that purchase! $268 on sale for $59
Blanca is very comfy. She's a silk jersey and fits TTS. She has a higher waist, kind of empire but not quite, which I was actually a little worried about, but it works. And pockets, hooray! The only issue is the cute little ruffle on the sleeves keeps flipping up... not a big deal, but it is kind of annoying to have to keep fixing it.

Joanie also arrived, and I planned to wear her to a meeting tonight, but I've had some health problems in the last couple weeks and the new meds are getting to me... sigh. So I skipped my meeting, and stayed in sweats.

And my Caye tankini and Surf's Up bottom also came and fit great! $78 on sale for $13 and $68 on sale for $9. But that photo's not going online. Everyone said size up, and I was an M in last year's swimsuit so I got L... and both were roomy. Not *too* roomy, but... a little roomy. I really liked the Caye top, it's a bit longer than most tankini tops, and kind of tunic-y and flared, so it is THE ideal swimsuit for a fat day. Seriously. Or for any legit weight gain. It's not pretty, but it's reality!