Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PUMPKIN-BROWNIE SWIRL PIE - HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FROM MY OVEN TO YOURS...

Seems the holidays are fast upon me ~ I can tell, as I've left little time for the blog (and/or reading) amongst that which has kept my hands busy this month, sadly.  Yesterday I had a request for a "holiday-ish" pie for a husband's office party.  Food Network Magazine published this recipe, just this month, and it was begging for a "go".  I gave it one - HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK, pretty much.
(1/2" brownie "crust" on the bottom)
Sharing with friends for a little different (and EASY) take on Pumpkin Pie this year.  Hope your day is happy and spent with those you hold dearest!  I'll be back to blogging (yes, and reading) in the next few weeks...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
PUMPKIN-BROWNIE SWIRL PIE

INGREDIENTS

BROWNIE FILLING:
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pie plate
1 12-oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 C. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

PUMPKIN FILLING:
1 C. pure pumpkin puree
1 C. heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottom and side of a 9-1/2" deep-dish pie plate.  Make the brownie filling:  Heat the butter, chocolate chips and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until combined.

Pour about one-third of the brownie batter into the prepared pie plate; set aside the remaining batter.  Bake until just starting to set and the top is shiny, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin filling:  Combine the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, egg, granulated sugar, flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth.

Pour the pumpkin filling over the warm brownie layer.  Stir 1 Tbsp. water into the remaining brownie batter, then spoon the batter (in about 6 scoops) onto the pumpkin filling.  Use a knife to pull the brownie batter into the pumpkin filling and create a swirled pattern.  Bake until the pie is set, 40 to 45 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE

Monday, November 10, 2014

A "LOVE/HATE" PROJECT...MY "FEARLESS ZOMBIE HUNTER" SHAWL

Unwittingly, two friends provided me with the absolute best AND worst project ever, for my birthday this year.  Finished just yesterday, my "Fearless Zombie Hunter" scarf (or The "Walker" Wrap).  A TRUE "love/hate" relationship, if ever there was one.  The original name on this pattern, for all you Ravelry chicks, is LES MISERABLES, and clicking on that will take you there (just like in Oz). 
The knitting bag and alpaca lace-weight yarn that inspired the creativity, coupled with a pattern I had catalogued in my stash.  MANY hours spent knitting a very well-written pattern, with mind-numbing amounts of stockinette stitch, while watching Daryl Dixon and his crossbow prowess on The Walking Dead, Sunday evenings.  And then, American Horror Story Freak Show started, and I knit right through that on Wednesday nights, too.
Felted yesterday morning, this came out SO soft and "drapey" - about 65" x 9" of intentionally tattered alpaca love. 
Pre-felting, this measured about 96" in length - or long enough to wrap a zombie (yeah, slight exaggeration).  Really fine, lace-weight yarn, coupled with large needles, made for scary knitting - LOTS of it.  So much stockinette stitch that it got VERY boring in the middle parts.  The fun came in watching the intentional runs being knit into the piece, and letting them ravel downwards.
Whether for Zombie Hunting, or simply as a fashion statement, it's going to keep me warm (I say, while secretly longing for a trek through the woods with a cross-bow wielding man, instead of just driving around town with it on).  LOVE/HATE for sure, on this project - and evidently I hated it so much that I've pulled out another skein I have squirreled away, to make a white one next!  Nuts? Undoubtedly.  Thank you to Jackie and Christy, for providing the "vehicle" for staying awake on the couch during countless nights of horror shows this past month. May YOUR week be zombie free!

Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HOWLOWEEN!

Oh, the things you resort to when your kids are too big to trick-or-treat...
Our little 8 lb. Voltron! with his bad-ass mohawk...
The look he was going for - the Mohawk guy from Mad Max Road Warrior...yep, NAILED IT!
From our house to yours...a SAFE and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Monday, October 6, 2014

"BRIGHT LIGHT CITY" - LAS VEGAS, NV on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

"...gonna set my soul, Gonna' set my soul on fire"...Viva Las Vegas ~ Elvis Presley

This week's Travel Tuesday finds me playing in my own backyard.  "Gambling Capital of the World", "Lost Wages", "Sin City", "Glitter Gulch", and "The Entertainment Capital of the World" - it's VEGAS!  Once a year my dad goes hunting in CO, and Mom hops a plane to visit us here in the sparkling desert.  We pack as much fun as we can into 10 days, which isn't hard to do in this town.  In addition to the obvious (slot machines are in every grocery store and gas station in town - they're not just for casinos anymore!), are the shows.
Seven in ten days this year (eight, if you count the new Jane Fonda movie, the same day as the last show we took in).  And, after taking my Dad to a few Burlesque shows for his 80th birthday this summer, I figured "turnabout was fair play", and YES, I took my Mom to Chippendales!  My daughter treated the three of us girls to the fabulous Broadway production of KINKY BOOTS (if you get the chance, GO!), with the remaining days filled with shopping, Blue Man Group, Viva Veracruz (a Mexican National dance extravaganza that Planet Hollywood brought in to celebrate Mexican Independence Day), Steve Connolly/Spirit of the King (you should always throw an Elvis show into the mix in Vegas), Chippendales, Rita Rudner, and Legends in Concert.
Our choices for entertainment are plentiful and varied here - this past weekend we got the chance to see the great Rod Stewart, yet again (the quintessential showman), and Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts blues band the following night.  My friend, Jackie, and I love nothing more than good blues and old rock.  WAY up front for both shows - fabulous THISCLOSE seats - it's been one hell of an entertaining fall, one month in!
But, the fun isn't ALL to be had right on Las Vegas Boulevard - The Strip, as it's affectionately know. Fremont Street, downtown, is the original Vegas.  A street of firsts - the first hotel was built here in 1906; first telephone went in in 1907; first street paved in 1925; first Nevada gaming license; first traffic light; first elevator; and the first high rise.  It also boasts the first structure designed, from the ground up, to be an actual casino...the Golden Nugget.  (These three and the one on the upper left below are stock photos - credit where credit is due.  The rest of the Vegas shots are all me, baby!).  It's changed a bit over the years, but the iconic landmarks are still in place.
By 1992, more than 80% of the Vegas casino market was on The Strip.  Looking to breathe new life into the Fremont Street area, a 5-block strip of the street was closed to traffic, and a 90 ft. high, 90 ft. wide, and 4 block long (1500 ft. in length) video screen was erected overhead - completed in 1995. Dazzling light shows, nightly, are shown on the Viva Vision Screen, comprised of 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps.  The 6 minute show changes hourly, with high resolution imagery in perpetual motion, and concert quality sound resonating under the "big top"!  Why, there's even a zip line under there, originating from the massive "Slotzilla" at the east end of the street.
They tried to keep the integrity of the original casino fronts and signage.  In fact, Las Vegas has been paramount in bringing back the original old neon signs from years gone by.  Restored and placed strategically throughout the downtown area - we're happy to see them enjoying new life.
Vegas Vicki and Vegas Vic have always been there - and always will be.  They're married, you know.
One of our 10 nights found my Mom, another friend from CO, and me at a show on The Strip - after which the friend inquired about what Fremont Street looked like after all these years, which was all I needed to hear.  Always "game" for an adventure and a chance to show someone the sights and sounds, we headed downtown for an hour at 10:30 p.m...
Putting us there just in time for the 11:00 light show - psychedelic merriment by graphic artist John Van Hamersveld on the massive screen overhead, while Time of the Season, by The Zombies, resonated throughout Fremont.
Lucky enough to have remembered to grab my real camera for the evening...the colors and images were eye dazzling!
Peace, love, and pop images, circa 1968.  There are also various stages positioned throughout the area, with live concerts going on during the evening...and it's all free!
Groovy cats...and kittens!  Dig it?!
While I know a lot of visitors with small children head to Fremont Street because of this draw (and because of the "free" thing - I get it), PLEASE be forewarned that it's really NOT as "family oriented" as one might want to believe.  This is still a gambling town, first and foremost!  Street performers, many in various stages of undress, line the four blocks during the raucous evening hours.  It's a different atmosphere from The Strip - definitely something everyone coming through town should experience at least once.  The people watching is PRIME - it's just not a place for the little ones.  REALLY!
You WILL be amongst a crowd on any given night.  But, it's actually fun...even if it's for an hour only. There's just something about Fremont Street that you won't get anywhere else in town!  Maybe, thankfully!
Universally considered to be the "Neon Capital of the World", as well.  Where else are you going to find a neon showgirl seemingly stepping out of a huge neon martini glass, complete with olive (I admit to being positioned at just the right angle to make this appear so).  You can see it all, here...and you will.  Viva Las Vegas!  There's music below, if you can find the arrow in the middle...
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

SHE CREATED A MONSTER!

Every once in awhile, I learn something new that really sets me in motion.  I was sitting during last night's hellacious rainstorm, thinking, "It's ALIVE", as I looked at the results from a class I took two weeks ago. Mind you, I had a a sweet out of town visitor, for 10 days, in between the class and this (meaning this has happened in less than a week's time)...yes, it IS alive!
These will be used as gifts, all...what started as a pearl hand-knotting class producing a single strand of  black Swarovski Pearls, has now produced six (6) single strands of Swarovski Pearls.  You know a teacher is pretty great by the amount of interest she can generate in her pupils, to want to carry on once they have left a class.  I knew, halfway into class, this was destined to become a favorite past time.
Thanks to Diane Schreiner - it's always a plus to find a teacher so impassioned about what she does that it rubs off on her students, almost immediately.  If you're a local, Diane will be teaching one more class this month (a little different from just pearls - CLICK HERE), before taking a hiatus.  Glad I got in when I did - I can't say enough great things about this wonderful woman - she created a monster (in a good way)!  Thank you, Diane...
May your weekend be happy and your cup runneth over!  XOXO

Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE SANTA FE PENDLETON PROJECT...I CUT UP A SERIOUS BLANKET!

We bought a ridiculously gorgeous, expensive wool blanket with every intention of taking scissors to it.  It then took me a couple of months to work up enough courage to actually do it! Splitting the cost with my Mom, on our way through the southwest, this summer - an idea that both of us had been mulling over for a few years, but never bringing it up to the other.  This summer we did - "How about sacrificing a wool Pendleton blanket for the sake of fashion accessories"?!
Hers was finished this week, and flew home with her to CO, just this afternoon.  Large hobo bag - a pattern modified to accommodate the design woven into the blanket; straps of my own design; with the addition of grommets and leather ties.
Lined with a heavy/sturdy brushed cotton/denim (so soft to the touch) in a gorgeous rust/brown.  Two zippered pockets in this - I salvaged the blue tag from the blanket to sew into the lining, under my own label.
Brass grommets and leather thongs cinch in each side.  Hesitation on my part, but this thing sewed like "butter"!
A large, thick, black Bakelite button carved into something reminiscent (at least to me) of a poppy design - the center reminded me of a SW conch, but it had me at the stylized look of a Georgia O'Keefe poppy.
While the body of the bag is mainly deep red and black, this rust/black design ran the length of each side of the blanket, making it perfect for the straps.
I'll show you the other substantial purchase I made, later - more of the gorgeous blanket for now.
One bag done - a second/mine to follow.  Fraternal in nature, they will be, though cut from the same cloth (this was a 39" x 68" blanket). Loved having my Mom here while this was in production...she provided that little "nudge" (the old "Atta' Girl!") of confidence I lacked on my own with this one - Mom's are like that, aren't they?!  My sewing skills and inspiration come from her - I am happy to be able to give a little of that back to her.  I think she quite possibly left here a happy camper today.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

"MANY HAPPY RETURNS" ~ LIMITED EDITION Bead Embroidery Swallow Necklaces...

They say a swallow always returns ~ to its home ~ to loved ones ~ to places familiar.
I returned to an artwork that I love, in the past few weeks - bead embroidery. Fashioned in the style of traditional swallow tattoos - a tattoo favorite of old-time sailors, symbolizing 5,000 nautical miles journeyed. A single swallow would oft times be tattooed at the beginning of a long sea voyage, and a second added upon a sailor's safe return home.
For me, it has been a return to the meditative handwork that I so adore. Each of these little swallows (2" X 2") is comprised of size 15 and Charlotte glass beads (these are one to two sizes smaller than regular seed beads - tiny beads for tiny birds), lovingly hand-stitched onto a stiff foundation, two beads at a time, over many, many evening hours.
The bead edging is applied one bead at a time, and similar to a blanket stitch.  Backed with vibrantly colored Ultrasuede (there is also a "stabilizer" between the finished bead work and Ultrasuede), and hung from a brass chain (necklace measures approx. 19", plus a 2" extender); each with a bit of "bling" - vintage rhinestone buttons, most often.
  
These four have winged their way to new homes, with a few more special orders in the works. The Etsy shop has been closed, for the time being.  HOWEVER, I am offering these, through the blog, as SPECIAL ORDER/LIMITED EDITION pieces.  No two will be exactly alike in color combinations (it's the way I've always worked, whether custom bags or jewelry).  $35.00 plus shipping ($32.00 each for orders of two or more), in your choice of main color. My email address is readily available on the sidebar of my blog, under the little envelope - drop me a line...let's talk!
My mom makes a return for some Vegas fun this week. May your week hold much of the same - may you soar high, sing sweetly, and always return to places familiar, beloved, and safe.  Many happy returns of the day!  XOXO