Where Does She Store It All?

I'm entranced when bloggers invite me to peek into their cupboards and closets!  It seems so imprudent and cavalier, having people peeping behind closed doors, and so tactless to be the one to do the snooping, yet they are my favorite posts!  So with that said, come on over, have a look around, and finally get an answer to that question, "Where on earth does she store all that stuff?"

But first I wanted to show you a hostess gift I received, don't you love the clever vase?

Last year we repainted the living room and I cleaned out and organized each cupboard.
I got rid of many things that I wasn't using anymore.  Still, I am left with a lot!
It' difficult for me to get rid of things that I have been given, even if they're
rarely used.  Holding on to things could be a big problem and if I didn't
have so much storage in this old house. 

 In my living room I have a wall of cupboards.
One cupboard is for candles, another for crystal and 3 are dedicated to Christmas.
The three at the end store my dishes.

I'm so happy with the way I've organized the plates.
Every thing is easy to reach.

This holds my Pottery Barn and Arte Italica plates.

Along with the inherited china, I inherited the quilted china storage pieces that are
zippered, like these, if you don't know what I'm talking about.
I got rid of them years ago, I hated them, hated unzipping and then never finding 
the piece I was looking for.  Dishes stay just as nice stacked away and I don't even bother
to use the plate separators either.  I found I wouldn't use my dishes if I couldn't grab
them easily and replace them quickly.  I did however, keep the cups storage, those I do like.

This cupboard holds my Aunt's Lenox Autumn Harvest and some miscellaneous.

This one is filled to the brim with my mother's Pink Roses Limoge,
pattern Delaware, also some pretty vintage pink banded china and my Blue Willow.

Built in buffet holds platters and the flotsam collected over the years.

All this storage enables me to keep everything within easy reach for quick access.
It makes is very easy to set a table.

The bar separates the dining room and living room.  A great place to set up a buffet, plus incredible storage.

The deep space in the corner part of the bar holds my mother's beautiful Imperial Candlewick.

Two slim cupboards hold my stems.

The sideboard in the living room holds the table linens.
I used to work at a fine linen store and
I discovered a weakness for linens that I haven't been able to cure.
I recently took on my ironing basket and ironed and folded all my linens,
then organized them by size and color.

Now, if only it would stay this way!

Organizing the Cookbooks

I think I've finally found the perfect place for my cookbooks.  At the end of the hall that leads to our bedroom is a small set of bookcases where I arranged our family photos.  My cookbooks have found a new home here.  When I'm looking for a recipe, the window seat is a perfect place to perch.

But before I could think of a new home for my cookbook collection, I went through them and donated over half.  I was ruthless.  I did not want to hold on to books that I hadn't opened in years.  Now with the internet, I am only using my most favorite cookbooks.

Winter Dinner Party for 8

I hope you aren't getting tired of my dinner party escapades!
We had so much fun!
Menu and shopping links are at the end of the post.

The Table Setting:

Dinner Plates, Pottery Barn Cambria in mushroom
Soup Plates,  Arte Italica Splendore
White Serving Dishes, Pottery Barn
Flatware, 18th Century by Reed and Barton 
Napkins, a discontinued pattern from Le Jacquard Francais
Tablecloth, a fabric remnant
Old bottle collection, recent score from Goodwill, $1 to $2 each, oh my!

The Menu:

Addictive Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

Roasted Tomato Soup with Wild Rice

Roasted Fennel and Pencil Leeks

 Outrageous Brownies, Sliced Apples and Macaroons

I loved this dinner party, not only because I loved our guests, but I loved the unfussy menu.  I set the table, did the shopping and made the desserts the day before.  On dinner party day, I sat around and knit all day until it was time to get cracking at 3 PM.  The only thing I would change is not to overcook the meat, it was a little tough and I read that overcooking will do that to a flank steak.  Still, I think it was a very good dinner that I would be happy to do again.

I start the dinner with soup served and on the table, then invite my guests to sit down.  The main course is almost always served buffet style.  This is best for my house and for my style.   The entire menu was wheat/gluten free except the brownies.  The book Wheat Belly makes a compelling argument on why to go wheat free.  I, along with my mother and a few friends, are giving this a go.  My mother hopes to lose weight and ease some of the arthritis pain, I hope to get rid of my stomach aches.  I'll let you know how we are doing as we go along.

One of our guests, a certain gentleman we have known for many years, has a little trick he pulls each time he comes over:  he sneaks around and rearranges things.  Just little things, like moving this trinket here and that trinket there.  It's become a game now, and after our guests leave, I poke around to see what is amiss.  I think he loves to do it because he knows it drives me mad!  Haha, I know I am persnickety.   Fun night!

The Shortlist!

Becoming a Rowannette (Rowanet for the boys!)

I've made the shortlist to become a Rowan Ambassador!  Sooooo excited!  Out of thousands who applied, I am one of 30 applicants chosen from around the world.  From this shortlist they will pick 20 ambassadors to represent and champion the venerable brand.  You all know how much I love Rowan yarn so this is quite an honor for me.  Wish me luck and I will keep you posted.

xoxo (a very excited) Kristen

Tea with Jam and Bread

The most cutest sweatshirt ever!  The pattern, Tea with Bread and Jam by Heidi Kirrmaier is a perfectly simple and functional sweater design.  I've seen this pattern knitted more form fitting, which is beautiful, but for mine I wanted more of a comfy, roomy sweatshirt style.  I love it.  Yarn is Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, an American grown and milled worsted weight wool.  It has a lovely and bouncy feel when knitting except there was a lot of vegetable matter in the yarn, and it was slow going picking it out as I went along.  It's a bit scratchy so probably best suited for outerware, but with a tee underneath the feel of the sweater is perfect.  My colors are Soot, Sweatshirt and Camper.  Love the tiny pockets, great place for the pedometer. Also, the pattern is written for sizes for children, women and men.  Very handy pattern to have in the library!  My Ravelry link here.

Lots of fun knits on the needles right now and most are tiny needle projects so they are taking some time.  One is using the new Kidsilk Haze Glamour and another using a fingering weight Isager Highland.  Still, I hope I'll have another finished piece to share soon.  Have a great week.

xoxo Kristen

My Elegant Yesterday

My elegant yesterday started with watching numerous episodes of season one Downton Abbey, a very elegant way to spend some industrious knitting and cooking hours.  The wait is almost over, season three begins tonight, but I'm sure you already know that!  I moved my streaming laptop from room to room as I was getting ready for a dinner party.   I managed to watch quite a few and feel all prepped for tonight!  I see also that season two is going to be on all day today and I'll try to catch a few of those too!  Never too much Downton Abbey, right?

I loved my table so much and I've included shopping links are at the end of the post.  I loved the menu too, with Coq au Riesling as the main course.  Everyone seemed to like it, but I think I prefer the traditional recipe made with Burgundy. 

I bought the sparkly trees on the buffet just a few days ago in a "half price after Christmas sale".  I need not one more Christmas decoration, but could not resist these.  Everything else is packed away but I plan on keeping these up through January.  In the picture you can't tell, but one is bronze, another silver and the last is gold.  They are beautiful.


My winter garden is pretty sparse, but I did find some paperwhites, leeks and the first of the dill.  I think leeks get a bad rap for being so messy and sandy, but it doesn't take that much time to get them ready for roasting, the very best way to serve them.

Roasted Pencil Leeks
Slice off root and most of the green part of the leeks.  Cut leek lengthwise to within one inch of the white tip.  Fan out the leaves and rinse thoroughly to remove grit and sand.  Pat dry.  Douse with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 deg. F for about 15 minutes.

 Smoked Chicken and Celery Root in Endive
I've been making this appetizer for years and it's always popular!

 I'm sorry I don't know the original source of this recipe.  I've altered it slightly for simplicity's sake.

1 celery root, peeled and grated
juice of 1 lime
1 cup shredded smoked chicken (must be smoked, I find it at a local German butcher shop)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few drops Tabasco sauce
3 or 4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 to 3 heads Belgium endive

Mix together first 7 ingredients.  Fill each endive leaf with mixture, sprinkle with minced cilantro.  (I used dill because I had it)

It's light and fresh, just a lovely appetizer.

We were six for dinner, and you know I love six for dinner mainly because we can all be in the same conversation, makes it more lively!  Our guests are very dear long time friends and I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could, NOT in the kitchen working away.  The table setting and the food was planned to pamper and to spend minimum time in the kitchen.  I made everything ahead, and what I couldn't make ahead, I at least prepped it.  All cooking and prep dishes were washed and put away long before the doorbell rang.  Before bed the dishwasher was loaded and the linens spotted and in the washer and we were able to wake up to a clean house with only a dishwasher to unload.

It's raining today and I hope it rains all day!  I plan to wile away my afternoon with knitting and season two reruns.  Total bliss.

Glass tortoise shell salad plate by Vietri here.
Alabaster glass charger by Vietri here.
Pewter candle sticks from Arte Italica here.
Damask tablecloth from Le Jaquard Francais here.
My favorite dinner candle, Root 5" candles in ivory here.

Skinny Stuffed Potato

Happy 2013!  Are you ready to eat healthy again?  We sure are! 

I skinnied the stuffed baked potato years ago.  I make them all the time and thought it was time to share my very low fat and healthier stuffed potatoes (except the ones above have some leftover sausage, oops).  For years I made these as I would imagine the Pioneer Woman makes them still, with cups of cheese and cream, but I have turned up my nose to that old-fashioned and fattening way and get my flavor instead from vegetables.  Now, somehow I think I've shared this recipe before, have I?  If not, please enjoy, because you can eat stuffed baked potatoes guilt free!

Scrub and bake 4 large baking potatoes until done.  Cool slightly, cut in half and scoop out pulp.  You can mash the pulp, but I prefer riced potatoes and have a nifty ricer that I use for that.  In the meantime, in the food processor grate veggies of your choice.  Today I used 1 small onion, 4 ribs celery, 3 carrots and 1/2 sweet potato.  In a very large pan with 2 T butter and 2T olive oil, saute grated vegetables until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add cooked veggies to riced potato pulp and mix together, add non fat milk to thin a bit, and add about 2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.  Pile back into the reserved potato skins and top each with 1 T grated cheese if desired.  Heat in microwave until heated through.  Makes 8 servings.

This is a 16" saute pan, it takes over two of the burners.

I had 4 oz. of breakfast sausage leftover from the kid's visit so browned that up and topped it with that too.  Sometimes I will add thinly sliced leftover chicken or even a poached egg.  Add a salad and we call that dinner.  These look orange tonight, but they look green if I use broccoli or spinach, funny!

I made these by the dozen when my son was in high school.  Two or three was an after swim team/before dinner snack for him!  He is visiting tonight so I am heating up 6 and will send the other 2 home with him.   One is plenty for me.

One more thing.  Have you heard of the Mastrad Chip Maker for fat free and fast potato chips?   As much as I am in the kitchen and as much as I love to cook, I pretty much avoid kitchen gadgets.  But this is one gadget I'm happy to have.  I've been playing with this for a few days and just love it!   Tonight I made sweet potato chips, delicious!