Wednesday, November 30, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

So Thanksgiving may be all about the turkey, but I think it may be more about the pie.

Last week I had shared that I was going to make an apple pie, since Charlie had declared his dislike of both pumpkin and pecan pie.  But when Thanksgiving eve arrived, I was swamped with work and trying to decide how to fit in pie baking along with everything else.

My friend Tracy (yup, the sellabitmum one) had called from La Patisserie, and I got all spontaneous and joined her and Astrid for a very quick cup of coffee.  Luckily Deb, the amazing owner of La Patisserie, had made extra pies, so I decided to give her my business and brought home an incredible Dutch Apple pie.  So Charlie was covered.

With a pie crust in my fridge just crying out to be baked, that night I dug through my recipe box and pulled out my mother's Pecan Pie recipe.  I decided to get really wild and make miniature pecan tarts, that way Mike and I could still have our pecan fix, and I could freeze the rest for another day.

As with many heirloom recipes handed down, this one had the ingredients, but not much for directions.  Here is exactly what was on the recipe card:

Mom's Pecan Pie

1/2 stick of butter, melted
3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. white corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. pecan pieces

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, 350 degrees for 30 minutes until knife in center comes out clean.

So I took a deep breath, and rolled out the pie crust  (I didn't even do homemade).  I pulled out my mini muffin tin, and cut out 24 circles with my largest biscuit cutter.  I filled each tin with the little rounds of dough, and melted my butter.  I beat the eggs and added the sugar (I used packed brown), corn syrup, and vanilla, and slowly added the melted butter.   Then I stirred in the pecan pieces.  Using a small ice cream scoop, I filled the little pie crusts.  I had saved the pie dough scraps, and cut them into little leaves, and placed on the pecans, then I brushed them with the remaining syrup in the bottom of my bowl.   I popped them in the oven at 350 degrees, and started checking them at 15 minutes.  They took about 22 minutes total, and looked delicious coming out.  (Of course your oven timing may vary...)

After the turkey, the dressing, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the green bean casserole, the sweet potatoes, lefse, and cranberry sauce, those little tarts were just calling out to us.  So of course we had to try them, with a dash of whipped cream.

And guess what?  Charlie LOVED them, so a few days later there were none left to put in the freezer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

classic movies

Cooking turkey, eating pie, nabbing bargains, decorating mantles, creating pine wreaths.....not much time for blogging lately!  Mike took some pictures of our feast, when I can get them loaded I will share the yumminess.

We love having movie night at our house, and as Charlie grows we are sharing with him some of our favorites.

You may recall our Hitchcock sessions, Mike and Charlie just watched "North by Northwest" again a few weeks ago.

Over the holiday weekend, we laughed and cried with "Forest Gump".  I never grow tired of watching Tom Hanks create such an amazing character, and Gary Sinise as Captain Dan is so memorable.  And no matter how many times I watch it, I always end up in a puddle of tears at the end.  Charlie really liked it,  it was very nearly a mini history lesson.  He understands the underlying emotions and conflicts going on, it's so much more than just a good movie.

The next night was "The Shawshank Redemption", another one on mine and Mike's favorite movie list.  So absorbing, and thought provoking.  I read they had originally planned Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford for the main roles, rather than Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.  I can't even imagine that!  Brutal (it is a prison movie, after all) and the warden personifies evil-but so well done.

Now that Charlie is older there are more movies we can start to share with him.  We can't wait!

Did you watch any movies over the holidays?  (new or classic....)

Updated:  Recording "To Catch a Thief" and "Dial M for Murder" for this weekend's viewing!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

tales of Thanksgiving past

As I sit here this morning with my coffee, the guys are still sleeping and Claude is curled up next to me.  I have picked up the 50 lb. bag of holiday advertising that came with our newspaper this morning, and the ads are already in the recycling bin.  I am not a big shopper, I make as many of my gifts as I can, and I am not a fan of crowds.

I am thinking of other Thanksgivings, and remembering:

Thanksgiving as a young girl was always spent at my grandparents house on the Mississippi River.  My grandma Betty would sing as she cooked, and always wore a dress and heels and a pretty apron.  My great grandma Ethel would be there helping make dinner, and I remember my Grandpa Don meticulously carving the giant turkey.  He was a bit of a perfectionist, so the turkey was usually cool by the time it got to the table, but that's what gravy was for.  After the dishes were cleared away (always by all the women, the men would retire to the living room for their post-feast naps), the tablecloth would be pulled away and the Yahtzee game would come out.  Ethel and Betty would pull out their cigarette cases and ash trays and fill their coffee cups, and the sound of dice hitting the hard surface would echo in the blue haze of smoke.

Thanksgiving in my college years was such a treat, my '69 Chevy Malibu couldn't get to Bemidji fast enough from Grand Forks (having to stop halfway each time to fill it with oil didn't help....).  My mom would cook and my dad would peel potatoes and I would spend as much time snuggling with my little sister as I could, so happy to be home and know I would be well fed and surrounded with love.  Grandma Doris would come and bring her zig zag carrot sticks and peanut butter stuffed celery and almond bark coated pretzels.  We would cram around our table and fill up on stuffing and green bean casserole, my dad would be the only one enjoying his favorite side dish-lime jello with celery, green olives, peas, and onions, topped with Miracle Whip.  My mom still makes it for him to this day, even though he is usually the only one to eat it.

The day after Thanksgiving wasn't spent shopping, it was spent in the woods collecting pine boughs and princess pine.  Dad would always have peanuts in the shell, and we brought cocoa in a thermos to keep us warm.  The next day was spent in my dad's shop. standing on the cold concrete floor, listening to country music, the heat from the barrel stove keeping it toasty as we crafted wreaths for friends and family.

Thanksgiving after marriage was a completely different affair, I usually had to work the day after turkey so we would often host friends in our little apartment in Bloomington.  I remember our first Thanksgiving after we got married, we were living in a furnished apartment as we didn't know if we were staying in Bloomington.  We invited all of our friends who also couldn't make it home for the holidays, and it was such fun.  Food and games and later on we all went out to a movie.  It made the sting of being away from family bearable for all of us.

Thanksgiving in our little house in St. Paul started happening when Charlie came along, both sets of grandparents have journeyed down for the holiday weekend, we always made sure to include shopping and picking out our Christmas tree in the weekend plans.

Since opening our store at the MOA, we have mostly enjoyed our own little Thanksgiving with just the three of us, a relaxing day of just being together, playing games, and watching classic movies.  Resting, and gearing up for the craziness of the next few weeks.  I did host Jed and Tracy and their girls last year, it was great fun to cook for more than just three of us, and figure out fun things for the girls to do.

I am so grateful for the lifetime of memories contained in this day, thankful for all of my friends and family, and blessed by the love that surrounds me.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

nearly turkey day

Thanksgiving is pretty much the perfect holiday.

The smell of turkey roasting, and the aroma of onions and celery and sage sauteing on the stove.

No presents to buy (unless you are dining elsewhere, and are bringing an excellent hostess gift).

No religion required.  Thanksgiving is for everyone!

Giant balloons flying over New York City-is this a great country, or what?

It's about good food, and being grateful.  Grateful for who and what you have in your life.

One of the few days of the year, where stores are closed (or SHOULD be), and people can be with family and  not be concerned with finding a parking spot at the mall.

And the last day of the year to see her:

I really need to get a fancy red track suit and some heels....

Monday, November 21, 2011

making a list...

...and checking it twice!

Is your turkey thawing yet?

Have you bought your groceries?

Or are you lucky enough to be invited somewhere?
Honestly, I really like cooking for Thanksgiving.  When it's for more than just Mike and Charlie and I, I do get a wee bit stressed, as of course I want everything perfect, but this year it's for just the three of us.

I spend Sunday pouring over my cookbooks and searching for recipes on-line.  We discussed the merits of different side dishes, and mulled over dessert options.  Charlie reminded me he doesn't really like pecan OR pumpkin pie (which I don't get, as he is quite a foodie), so both of those traditional options were out.  Some traditions can't be messed with, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Susan Branch's Mashed Potatoes.

The menu is now set, my grocery list and corresponding coupons are ready, and today I will head out to finish buying supplies.  I picked up most things already, as I had a Trader Joes run last week, and stocked up on sweet potatoes and bacon and their version of fried onions for the green bean casserole.  So here's the menu:

Brined Turkey Breast-recipe courtesy of Southern Living, it's the one I used last year and it was AMAZING.  None of us like dark meat, so it is pointless to prepare an entire bird for just three of us.  And finding room in my fridge to brine a breast is far easier than a whole bird!

Susan Branch's Mashed Potatoes with Trader Joes Turkey Gravy.  Yes, I usually make my own gravy, but we tried it last year and it was delish.  I add drippings from the bird to up the flavor factor, but please don't tell my mother that I am not making my gravy from scratch.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing (recipe here:  )  I had cut this out of a magazine a couple of years ago, my guys just love this one.  I make it on the stove and then pop it in the oven for a bit right before dinner, as some of us like the crunchy bits.

Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Bacon (recipe here:  )  This is my new recipe to try this year, I always like to try out at least one new thing.  Doesn't it sound yummy?  You can't really go wrong with bacon....

Green Bean Casserole:  I prefer to make my green beans a healthier way, but the guys requested this, this year, so I am giving in.  And it will hearken back to Thanksgiving in Bemidji, as this dish always has a place at my family's table.

Cranberry Sauce:  I picked up fresh cranberries at the Farmer's Market, I like to cook them with red wine and a little brown sugar and some orange zest.

Apple Pie:  I am going to try a new recipe, found here: and make some of the adjustments I read in the reviews.  I will serve it with Trader Joes sea salt caramel sauce and some vanilla bean ice cream.  Again, don't tell my mom, she would be horrified, in her mind apple pie is NOT for Thanksgiving.  I can almost hear her now "Kris, aren't you at least going to make some pumpkin bars?"

So Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning will be spent in the kitchen, and it will take us about 20 minutes to eat it all, and then it will be done.

What are YOU cooking for turkey day?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I promise -

- that next week I will talk about something else, really.
It's just that getting ready for this show has pretty much taken over my life (and my home) for the last few weeks, and I have to get it all out of my system.
The feeling I am going for in my booth is the idea that you are in your grandma's bedroom, going through her treasures and button tins and jewelry boxes.  I am using lots of vintage purses and clocks and jewelry boxes to help set the mood.
(if this pic is too blurry, the clock says "time to indulge")

The sneak preview last night was a rousing success-and now I have a day to decide if I have enough product or should whip up a few more things.
 And I need to pack up my little Fit with all of my goodies and displays and get a good nights sleep.
My dear friend Tracy is spending the entire day with me tomorrow, helping me out.  If you follow her blog and want to meet her in person, stop on by! I couldn't do this show without her advice and support, and having her join me tomorrow is the best gift she could ever give me.
My hubby has been so helpful to me, he is really supportive of this crazy part of my life.  He grabbed his camera yesterday and took pictures, he is much better at it than I am.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who showed up last night, it was great to catch up, have a little hot cider and wine, and enjoy each other's company!
And perhaps I will see some of you tomorrow!

More info on the show here, and it was just announced that WCCO TV will be reporting live from the show tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

more sneak peeks, and an invite

The Knightsbridge show is only a few days away!  I am feeling good about being ready, but of course I am still working on more goodies in my spare time.  I can rest on Sunday!

Today I share with you some of the other goodies I will have for sale, along with the scarves I showed you in the last post.

This all started with my button bracelets last fall when I opened my Etsy shop.  I love to create, and I adore old notions, so I figured I would share my creations with the world.  You will find a huge variety of bracelets at my show:

Fun color combinations:
Antiqued and vintage looking:
Elegant and understated:
Bright and cheerful:
And buttons that make a statement:
Over 100 styles to choose from-a style to suit all kinds of people on your holiday shopping list. (sorry for the less than fabulous photos, my hubby, the photographer was gone hunting so I had to take my own pictures....)  Prices range from $24-$38 (which includes the sales tax).

For this show, I decided to make a variety of necklaces too.  There are simple chain pieces, with fun charms and baubles and beads, available in shiny silver, blackened silver, antiqued brass, and copper:
I have an assortment of unique pieces that feature different types of chain, charms, and some even have real working mini harmonicas!   Those are available in either brushed silver, blackened silver, or antiqued brass.
I also made two of these truly unique pieces, they are long and gorgeous and I am tempted to keep them for myself!  I have one in silver and one in antiqued brass, both feature fine chain, pearls, and an assortment of charms and baubles. (that's my mannequin Betty, looking to need a little repair before the big day on Saturday...)
These are a repeat from my show last fall, they were such a big hit I knew I needed to make them again-they are made with Swarovski crystals and pearls and Vintaj brass.
And now, a last minute invite!  Since I will have my table all set up at my house (I always do that to make sure I have enough space for everything I am bringing, and to make set-up easier on the day of the show), I decided to invite friends and neighbors over for a sneak preview at my house on Thursday night from 6-9 pm.  I will have wine and snacks to enjoy while you check everything out.  So if you can't make it to St. Louis Park on Saturday, I hope you can stop by my little house on Thursday night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Knightsbridge sneak preview

Taking a break from sewing and filing button backs to share some pictures with you.

Fall is here, and with it the need for some new accessories in our closets!  A great new trend I have been seeing on my fashion forward friend Tracy (, in the J Jill and Sundance catalogs, and now on my dining room table-the infinity scarf.  I am calling mine "roundabouts", because I like to be different and I thought it was a fun name.  (On top of that, my sister thought of it, and she is a genius when it comes to picking out names for things.)
The beauty of the roundabout is you don't have scarf ends getting stuck in the car door or dropping in your soup!  I have fashioned mine from the softest bamboo and cotton knits you have ever felt, I wish there was a way for you to feel this fabric through your computer screen, it is simply luscious.  I found it at my very favorite fabric store, Treadle Yard Goods here in St. Paul, and it is simply the best knit fabric I have ever worked with.
And look at all of the fun colors I found!

The roundabout is extremely versatile, let me show you your options:
Wrap it around your neck three times for this look:
Wrap it four times for a different look, and extra warmth:

You could even wrap it three times and pull a section over your head to fashion a snood (come on, you know what that is...).  But my dress form doesn't have a head, and I couldn't figure out how to do it on myself and take my own picture....
By wrapping it just twice around your shoulders, you even have a comfy, lightweight shawl.

Talk about versatility!
They are all packaged and ready for giving, only $24.  (I used the vintage ribbons I found at that amazing estate sale a few weeks ago.)
I will have an assortment of solid colors, and some prints in cotton blends available for sale at the Knightsbridge holiday boutique on Saturday, Nov. 19th.  More info available here:

Stay tuned next week for more peeks of what else I will be bringing to the show!  Button bracelets, funky necklaces, quirky adjustable rings, wool and button pins....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

happy shiny glass

Done.  For now.  (wait, as I am putting the pictures on here I see we missed part of the trim around the front door.  dang.)

The massive house painting project.  No, our house is not at all large, but the project itself felt really big.

Two hundred and eighty two individual panes of glass are contained in our 1400 square foot home.  Seriously.  And at least 20% of those panes had to be replaced.  About one third of those panes needed reglazing.  All of the trim around all of those panes of glass had to be painted.  Each pain pane has been cleaned, and now sparkles.  Perhaps the only time in the history of our home that all of our glass will be clean at the same time.

Other than our bathroom, every window is original to our home.  Next spring Mike's project is repairing all of the double hung windows so they can be used as originally designed, able to open from the top or bottom.  Another project.

We were blessed with a warm and dry extended fall season, which helped us finish the house.  The whole project isn't completely done, we still need to paint the basement windows, the garage, and the fence.  I need to find new window boxes, to replace those too worn out to be repainted. We will get there.

As I drive down our street, or approach our home from my walk, I love seeing the result of all of our work.  It seems to be happy, and smiling in contentment, with it's new coat.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

if you can't make it to London.... do your Christmas shopping, you can find a somewhat similar experience (minus the airfare and driving on the wrong side of the road) in St. Louis Park on Saturday, November 19th.

Here's more information, featured in Minnesota Monthly:

Stop by this week for a sneak preview of what I will be bringing, as soon as I find my camera's memory card....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How is it already November?

The Christmas commercials started bright and early the day after Halloween.  Actually, I saw a couple in the week BEFORE Halloween.  Really?  Do we really need that much time to think about one holiday?

As a retailer myself, and having worked for one of the largest retailers in America, I get it.  I know that the fourth quarter has a huge impact on the bottom line, and it is crucial to get customers in the door.  But how many hours do you really need to do that?
The holiday season has become so over emphasized.  The Mall of America, where we have our business, has announced they will be the first mall in the country to open at midnight on Thanksgiving.  We will not be opening that early, as I think it is ridiculous to expect any one of our crew to be at work at that time. They have turkey to digest!
Granted, we don't sell big screen tvs or bargain laptops, so we have no need to open at midnight.  The mall will have a designated time that we have to be open by, last year it was 6 am, I am guessing this year it will be earlier than that.  And Mike will head in early and man the store, while the rest of our crew arrives at a more reasonable time, when people will actually want to fly.

We have been busy putting together our own strategy for the holidays, and how we can attract customers to spend their hard earned money at our business.  Ad budgets have dwindled, and we need to get very creative to sell those gift cards.
Each year, the next several weeks are stressful and nerve wracking and I can hardly wait for January 2nd.   But we do make time for family fun, no matter what:
Each year I try to do something to find the joy in the season, and keep things in perspective.  Even if it's just sitting with a hot cup of tea while listening to my favorite holiday music and thinking about childhood celebrations, it's important to maintain my sanity.
What do you do to keep yourself grounded during the holiday season?


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