fall dinner party

Last week we had friends over for dinner, friends who have been friends since our children were little, then to add another layer to the friendship, we found ourselves as co-workers for a few years.  But now that the kids are grown and the job is over, we don't see each other as often as we like and have to reach out a bit to get together.  Dinner party to the rescue!  You know I love dinner parties so much.  I troll Pinterest to find new ideas and have so much fun setting my table and planning the menu.  To me it's a way to spread my creative wings, with the bonus of having fun with friends.  We are such longtime good friends, so much history to share, and all that makes for an easy night.  I do love to go all out for a dinner party, but often don't have the time. I was planning on making a showstopper dessert, as I know both male guests love sweets. The day of the dinner party I was really feeling set: wine was in the fridge, table was set, onion soup was made the day before and just needed heating up.  I had even grated the cheese and sliced the bread to make last minute croutons.  So I felt comfortable meeting my girlfriend for morning coffee and some knitting then meeting my mom and a friend for lunch.  On my way home I stopped by the grocery store for the salad ingredients and came home and went on a little walk to pick up my neighbor's dog who was going to spend the rest of the afternoon with me.  On the walk home I ran into a neighbor and we started talking and talking.  And talking.  When I finally got home I was surprised to see that my son had stopped by and we visited for a while, and before I knew it, it was 4:30 and too late for me to mess up the kitchen with a fancy dessert.  Time...silly time...as much time as I have these days, it really seems to slip away from me.  The more time I have it's really like the less time I have. Why is that?  So since I felt squeezed I decided instead to relax for an hour with my knitting.  Doesn't that sound better anyway?  Luckily I had slice and bake cookies in the freezer, so I made those.  We had some chocolate candies and put them out too.  I had just bought a few varieties of local fresh picked apples, so I sliced them up after dinner and we had a little apple tasting.  I love to do that, everyone crunching away while we go around the table asking for opinions, it's funny. For me, Winesap totally won, crunchy, not too sweet, and mildly winey.  It's not an apple I normally find, but it's from a local ranch where we do our berry picking.  I think I see an apple picking road trip in our future!  The links are at the end of the post.

Lots of links!

As a young bride I learned how to cook using the Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  It was Julia who taught me how to make a quiche, a souffle, beef stew, chicken stock; just about everything I make now has roots within my 40 year old copy.  Julia trained entire generations of cooks to be courageous in the kitchen.  Bless her, that gift of fearlessness has given me great joy, I love to cook.  Her onion soup is by far the best, absolutely simple, and she has you do it the right way, and it will be the best you've ever had.  I doubled the recipe and the 6 of us consumed every last drop.  The Cowboy Cookies are crispy and chewy, love that combo.  I always make a double batch and put the slice and bake logs in the freezer where they don't seem to stay too long.  I didn't get a picture of the appetizer, but I made Maple Baked Bacon, man that stuff is good.  It was inhaled!

The gorgeous paper place mats are reusable and from Belle Banquet.  Here is the direct link for the  white and black root vegetables.  They've been used so many times and still look like new, it's hard to believe they are paper. I have a little collection of them but I think I'll add one of the animals to my Christmas wish list.    The plates are Cambria from Pottery Barn, also the canape plates, here's the link for them, scroll to the bottom.  Cambria is such a great line, we especially like that the dinner plate is large, plus they are inexpensive and still I've yet to find a chip.  The onion soup bowls are from Sur La Table.  It's important to use a bowl that can stand the heat when you brown and bubble the cheese under the broiler.  All the pewter and ceramic pieces in the buffet are from Arte Italica.

Fall entertaining is the best as there are so many pretty ways to decorate the house.  I love fall menus too and soup always seems to top my list.   I used to have a soup party every year but haven't done that party in ages.  I've really been wanting to bring it back but it just hasn't materialized.  I don't think I'll have time for it this year, maybe it will be a nice thing to do in January.  If I do it, I'll be sure to take pictures and share recipes!  I hope you are able to squeeze some fall entertaining into your schedule.  You won't be sorry if you serve onion soup, and try to do an apple tasting, it was really fun. And...make that cookie recipe!  Cookie monsters of any age love them.  xo


fall decorating

I think I'm a little late to the fall decorating party as I'm just now thinking of adding a rustic dash here and there.  There are so many beautiful ideas out there, but maybe you don't want too too much, just a wee bit.  And maybe you don't want to go to Pottery Barn and plunk out the big bucks for turkey plates or Halloween decor.  And while you can certainly find some beautiful things, they often seem limiting, and anyway, you have to store it somehow off-season. Rather than decorate specifically for Halloween or Thanksgiving, I'd rather decorate for fall in general.  Here are some beautiful and fairly inexpensive ideas that can carry you through the fall months, and most would even be pretty during Christmastime.  I've included the source in each caption when I could.

I always love simple and think this would be beautiful on the sideboard.
Brainstorm, I think I have something that might work for this.

My table is small, but I could manage a paired down version of this, really just pumpkins and greenery, simple!

White and gold and green, a pretty and soothing look for any time of year.

I could easily do a modified version of this, we have plenty of magnolia leaves and persimmons.

Apples are always pretty, even prettier with candles.

so beautiful so beautiful so beautiful so beautiful

This post includes a tutorial on making the tiny pumpkin candles.  I really like the linen runner.

so copying this idea

Here is a Tutorial for pinecone garland that she swears will hang beautifully.

I find that a big glass vase like this is invaluable for every season--source.

If you are feeling particularly crafty, this blog is excellent.

And while I'm not too much into decorating for Halloween, here's one sophisticated trick for Halloween decor!

ribbon bats
This darling girl has free printables for spooky bookcovers.



handsome dude
And don't forget that sometimes the best costumes are often the easiest ones.  All you need here is a black eyebrow pencil.  I once captured my neighbor's white lab and penciled in some thick eyebrows and sent him home.  I didn't get a picture of him but somehow he looked French, like this little fella.  How does this make a dog look French?  But it does, right?  

Vous pensez que je suis beau, oui?


easy fairisle

Hi!  I'm dashing off a quick little post to share a new book with you, Easy Fairisle Knits by Marin Storey.  I'm very excited about this because it brings fairisle to a less complicated level, so beginner and wannabe colorworkers like me can feel brave enough to have a go.  In the foreward, Martin, who loves fairisle and is responsible for creating some of the most gorgeous colorwork patterns, addresses beginners and says, "Lots of people love the look of fairisle patterns but assume it will be difficult to knit them. That is certainly true of some of the exquisite traditional fairisle sweaters with lots of colour changes, but even a novice knitter would not find the patterns in this book hard to knit for three reasons: firstly the designs I have included are generally small, secondly the majority have no shaping (which can be harder to work in fairisle) and thirdly they only employ two colours in a row, which is not hard to handle even for a novice knitter."

I'll add one thing to that, the patterns all use Rowan Felted Tweed DK which is a very easy yarn to knit with.  So, I feel brave enough, do you?  Which one would you make first?  

there's quite a few beautiful pillows, even more in the book

kitty kat stripes

this pattern would also be perfect for a pillow

a knitted knitting bag
hat and matching socks

I saved the best for last...appliqued fairisle trees on a quilty background.

And then there's this!  How much fun would this be for a knitter's Christmas!

adorable detail, the buttons at the top, sigh
Yep,  I think I would have to make this first.

Easy Fairisle Knits by Martin Storey is just out and should be available, if not already, at your local yarn shop or favorite online shop.  I found it at English Yarns and MCA Direct but know it will be widely available very soon.