Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Terrarium Bug!

Yes I've caught it from my sister Kris, who's made a couple of excellent models.

Remember this jar from a thrifting adventure? Well it's finally been put to use:: And sadly, that fern is the same fern from the vessels post. It was thriving in my Boston bathroom, but, like me, it became a bit stressed after moving to four different houses/apts/cabins in as many months. It definitely hasn't received the humidity it needs, but I'm hoping we've fixed that problem with the terrarium set-up.

And do you see that moss? I know I could go outside and pick up some moss, but I thought it would be fun to order the terrarium variety pack from Moss Acres. Because really, who doesn't love to open a box o' moss?! You get a lot of moss in that little box, and next week I'll show you what else I did with it.

Garden Gnome!!!!:: How cute is that little guy? I love garden gnomes, and I sort of want one for the yard. What do you think? Is it too silly? or the right kind of fun?

Rather than walk through each step, I thought it'd be fun to put together a little terrarium diagram:: Got it? Now go out and make yourself a fun little garden. It'll stave off the end-of-winter craziness, particularly for those of us that woke up to an inch of fresh snow this morning. That was one inch too many.

Yes, we still play with yarn

It may not seem like it based upon all of the distractions at Chez Winterfoliage, but I do squeak in some knitting {and crocheting} here and there.

Currently occupying my needles::That's Aidez, a sweater that will be the perfect winter to spring transition piece. I'm making it with some unnamed wool that I picked up at Rhinebeck three years ago! As you can see, I'm also knitting it seamless, because it's the way I roll.

I'm not good at knitting colorful sweaters for myself, but the day I bought this yarn I was feeling adventurous. I brought the yarn home, took a picture, blogged about it, and then immediately put it away because I wasn't so sure about the color. I decided that my feelings about the yarn weren't getting any better with it just sitting there, and since my bright green Owl sweater was such a success, it was time to knit up this yarn and *hope* that it grows on me.

I think it's working. If nothing else, the sweater's definitely growing. I have to admit that I love all of the oatmeal Aidezes that I've seen, but I'm trying my hardest to love this purple guy. And really, it is great yarn, check out the specks of red and blue in this closeup::

What else is going on? Some secret wedding knitting::

And, of course, I'm still working on the hexagon afghan. Here's a picture on our queen-sized bed for scale::I think I'm going to increase it by another 50% for a nice, cozy afghan.

ps ~ I've listened to yesterday's song on repeat all evening. It's good.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Soundtrack

Artists :: Billy Bragg and Wilco
Song :: California Stars

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just for fun...

The bridesmaids dresses and shoes have arrived! My sisters gave us a little fashion show with the full she-bang. We decided to go with the dress I showed you in this post. I swooned about them then ~ the color, the fabric... and the pockets. I'm still uber jealous that the bridesmaids have pockets!

This was the perfect excuse for all of the girls to buy TOMS. We've each drooled over them from afar, but never took the plunge until now. Why TOMS? Everyone liked their casual look, but we really love their charity work. The girls claim that the wedges are really comfortable, and I think they're better than heels for an outdoor wedding on grass!

And what are the post-wedding plans for these two? They're putting together their audition tape for The Price is Right.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This week, much to my delight, the garden was bursting with early bloomers! I can't say it enough, manning this yard is going to be such a fun learning experience for me. Everyday I'm discovering new facts while observing the plants, reading my pile of gardening books, and researching online.

Here's the same patch of crocuses I showed you in this post:: Did you know that crocuses open their flowers every morning and close them every night?!

The bees love them, can you spot the little guy in this photo, he almost blends in with the background::

We have a few patches of dwarf irises:: There are more varieties than I expected, and I'm still not 100% sure what we have here.

Under the pine trees there are snowdrops::

and Eranthis, or winter aconite:: It was such a fun treat to find these under the trees where I really didn't expect anything to come up! Apparently the Eranthis will self-seed and are most successful if planted in a space that will be left alone so that the new seedlings aren't disturbed. Hands down my favorite fact of the week ~ the Eranthis use thermogenesis to give off a small amount of heat. Warming the ground around them allows them to be one of the earliest blooms in your spring garden!

As the gardening bug has taken hold, I've started to explore the world of gardening blogs. A couple of my favorites are A Way to Garden and You Grow Girl. Of course, I'll add these to the sidebar along with any others I find.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A few years ago, my mom and I saw a pair of card catalogs on ebay and we couldn't walk away. In fact, if they were to be ours, we had to drive to them since shipping was out of the question.

Both card catalogs went home with my mom, because my shared Boston apartments did not leave much room for one of these big boys. My mom's card catalog was put to work immediately, the drawers were filled with everything from silverware and scissors to markers and masking tape. My card catalog was stored in the barn, until "the great barn clean-out of 2010" that I often refer to. During its time in storage, it got wet, and the finish on top was ruined. Not a big deal at all. In fact, I have such a hard time taking that leap and painting old, wooden furniture, that this was the excuse I needed! I still had a bit of blue paint left over from painting these desk legs. After removing any final bits of varnish and sanding the top of the card catalog, I got to painting. I love the results! I'm thinking that I'll take it a step farther and paint the sides of that top piece, and maybe one day I'll get adventurous enough to paint everything but the drawers. You can see in the photos that the varnish is already chipping off in other areas. Won't it look awesome?

I've yet to fill up the drawers, right now I'm just enjoying the old labels {and thinking about ways to keep these labels, while adding new functional ones}. {WOOL! could there be a better label for a knitter?}

One idea was to keep the old labels where they are and add smaller, new labels to that smaller section on the left, where the drawer numbers are now.

Plus, how great would it be if the items I put in the drawers relate to their old labels? Like silly putty in the superplasticity drawer, because I'm always looking for a place to store my silly putty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Soundtrack

Artist :: Florence and the Machine
Song :: Dog Days are Over

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grapefruit Marmalade

Two batches of this marmalade. I followed the recipe as written except for the lemon because there were none in the house. I prefer the marmalade recipes with pectin, just to be sure that all of our hard work jells. And when it does, how much fun is it to look at those little floating flecks of candied rind::

And I can confirm, it's delicious spread on some bread and cheese for breakfast.It's always best to have not quite enough marmalade to fill the last jar, so that there's some for testing!

The remaining jars will be saved for the wedding ~ for our favors of canned goods.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Spring!

It's here!... and so are the crocuses. Did you know their flowers open up during the day and then close again each night? Those little red rosettes are from one of the many succulents that I'm so excited about!

Friday, March 18, 2011


This, my friends, is a short and sweet story of perseverance.

I wanted to make macarons, not the coconut variety with two o's (macaroons), but the French ones with one o. I don't know when I first had them, but there was a bakery down the street from one of my apartments in Boston and it was such a fun treat to buy just one while I was walking around town.

Just as I was leaving Boston I saw this book for the first time, and took it as a sign::

It was time to step up to the plate and make a macaron. I asked for the book for Christmas, Santa delivered, and the rest is delicious.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was going to be a fickle endeavor. How could it not when meringue, syrups of sugar water, and butter cream are involved?

My tip : Take some good common sense, patience, and, as I mentioned at the beginning, perseverance into the kitchen with you. Why? Well, on this particular day, not one of the timed events in my kitchen matched the book's suggested times.

-After you mix the meringue batter, you pipe it out in to this perfect little circles (following the little pattern you traced on wax paper). Dudes, my circles were anything but perfect. I'm blaming it on my batter, which seemed a touch too runny and would not just SIT STILL. But eh, I figured if it all ran together I'd end up with one big awesome treat.
-The pan o' perfect circles is supposed to sit for 15 minutes (30 on a summer day) until a slight crust forms on top. After 15 minutes? no crust. 30? no crust. At that point I figured I'd go do something fun in the craft room and come back when I was good and ready. Really I think it was only an additional 15 minutes, but it worked! There was a crust, so on to the next step.
-Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 375F oven. Oh boy, after 10 minutes, I smelled something burning and ran to the oven. Luckily it was just one of the smaller, misguided dots of batter on the pan, but the pan was definitely done and any more time was going to be too much. So, from then on I set the first timer to go off at 8 minutes and check on the pan every minute or so until they were done. {I think I need an oven thermometer}

-Check out the pictures! There are no perfect little circles, but they look, felt and tasted like the real thing. They even have the little pied, or foot, that they are supposed to get. And according to the book "without it, the pastry cannot be called a macaron." We la-di-da. I think we're making macarons after all!

-Now for the stinking butter cream. The recipe calls for heating up 3T of sugar and 3T of water in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring, and then heat again for another 4 minutes. Of course no two microwaves are the same, and of course, my microwave burned the mixture {to a smoking, smelling, brown mess} after a mere 2 minutes. So I went at it again, this time keeping my eyes on the prize after a minute and pulling it out of the microwave after a minute and forty-five seconds. {Ah, the joys of an inherited microwave, I can't figure out for the life of me how to turn the power level down, but I'm guessing that would have helped!}

-The butter cream worked on the second go, and finally, finally, I was left with an easy step : make those cute little sandwiched treats!

{I wanted to take some over to a new neighbor, and found that popping them into a mini bread pan worked perfectly!}

Will I make these again? Yes! They were so stinking delicious. C thought that the butter cream was a little too buttery, but I loved it. So I may experiment with another butter cream recipe. One that does not use the microwave.

Are there any left? Nope, I nibbled on them, and then I took the rest off to my sister's house where they mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night, and we still didn't catch the little elf that ate them!

Would I recommend the book to a friend? Most definitely. While the times were off, I could just blame that on the differences in kitchens. The book is full of clear and careful instruction, step-by-step pictures, and an amazing array of ideas for flavoring both your cookies and the creams.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well that was a break and a half! How much are you loving the longer days?

As the weather warms, I'm going to be spending many {MANY} sunny hours outside tending the amazing yard when we inherited with the house. As I've met new neighbors, they've introduced me to other new neighbors, telling them that I moved into the "garden house". If that's not pressure to maintain this house's best feature, I don't know what is!

So of course, I want to document this journey on the blog. It'll be a great way for me to document changes throughout the seasons and from one year to the next. Some posts will be simple picture updates, others will contain research and garden projects {look out for a shrub pruning update next!}. Oh, and how do you like the little Garden Journal header for the post? I had to find a way to let those cute bees from the wedding invites make a regular appearance on the blog.

This first post is an introduction to the different areas of the garden as they appear in late February.

A bed dominated by lavender and lamb's ear around the mailbox::

A variety of succulent ground covers along the driveway::

A weeping cherry with early spring perennials that are followed by a shade garden of hostas and ferns::

The shrubs! I love the size and natural look of these shrubs bordering the front porch {let's hope I can keep them that way}. In front of the shrubs is a small garden of succulents and perennials::

The beds bordering the side of the house. Full of sedum, and asters in the fall, and clematis climbing up the deck::

The back yard. It has a variety of flowers along the house, and a bed with two large birch trees and a Harry Lauders Walking Stick::

It looks a bit drab, huh? How about some pictures from the first day we walked through the house? Looking at these, I can't believe just how green and lush it was.

The front::

The porch::

Side beds::

And the back::

Fortunately, with all of those perennials, my job this first year will be to watch everything grow, clean up last year's dead foliage, and pull the weeds!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wednesday Sountrack

It's Goonie love! Even though Martha Plimpton has gone on to do a lot more, I still think of Goonies.

Here she is on Studio 360, singing a fav. Some people don't like the whistler. I'm a fan, what about you?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

excuse me.

These pictures are sub-par, but I think you'll get the jist. This is what's become of the remaining fabric from the stool project.

I mentioned you'd see it again. I've framed two pieces behind glass and am using them as whiteboards. The one above is in my office. Yes, the fabric's already starting to slump ~ apparently the move from home to the office was not that smooth, but the real problem is that I'm just storing the fabric in the frame until I some idea strikes and it gets put to another use! I had at least two yards, maybe more, left over, so I folded and framed the fabric without cutting it to size and just secured it with the frame - no tape, staples, or anything else. It was a rush job and ended with the slumping, but a quick fix will put everything in order.

For being such a simple project, it really brightens up my office, and will hopefully help me to organize that desk...

I made a smaller version for the craft room. I lucked out, in that this piece was cut off while making the stool, and it just happened to fit the frame perfectly!

Another note on using picture frames for whiteboards - you can use any dry-erase marker and it will wipe right off. This works on both glass and plexi-glass! The smaller frame is glass, but the larger is plexi, and there's no difference between the two.