after concert party

I sing in my church choir and besides singing most Sundays, we have two concerts a year, a Christmas concert and another in spring or fall.  I wish you had ALL been there for Saturday's fall concert, it was, well, wonderful!  Our choir director chose the most fun music and this year's theme was "What a Wonderful World".  We sang that lovely title song and sacred songs too, but also jazz, show tunes, gospel, and for girls only, a medley of Motown songs that included Baby Love and Please Mr. Postman.  Plus so many more.  We enjoyed it so much and know that the congregation and guests enjoyed it too.  We work so hard and practice for months and after the concert we are just not ready to end the night, so we have a party.  In my opinion giving a party is MUCH easier than singing. (I have to say that I work especially hard at music as it does not come easy to me; a love of singing and a love for my wonderful choir mates and director keeps me plugging away.)  Three close friends sing in choir with me, we are old friends that met when we took our now 30 year old kids to nursery school!  Each year we invite our friends to attend the concert and afterwards we invite them to a party.  Just wine, beer, a few appetizers and a few desserts.  All finger food.  All easy.  We share the work and share the costs and each year we rotate houses.  This year it was my turn.  I had my house decorated with lots of candlelight and sparkly mercury glass and plenty of hydrangeas with their beautiful muted fall color.  I love fall entertaining.

I have a collection of vintage medicine bottles that I am drying my hydrangeas in this year. Learn about that process here.

Hydrangeas are so pretty this time of year.  These will last all season.

I adore this lime green hydrangea.

I borrowed two cases of sturdy wine glasses and lined them up on the bar in the background.

The first fire of the season is so welcome.

In a few minutes the house will be filled with chatty people.

Our husbands serve as bartenders.
 They pour the first glass and typically the next glass our guests will have to fend for themselves!

Finger food, both sweets and savories, were served on the dining room table.
As for the party, we had to keep it simple, after all, we would be arriving at the same time as our guests.  I had everything laid out the night before (and took these pictures) and when I walked in the door only had to take a few minutes to light candles and start the fire, get out the chilled wine and set out the prepared food.  With 4 hostesses to share the duties it was done in no time.  Within ten minutes the crowd had arrived and the room was filled with chatty people enjoying a little nibble and a glass of wine.  We've found over the years that our guests don't eat a lot this late in the evening, just a bite and a drink or two.  It's a pleasant way to wind down the night and we keep it simple, why complicate a fun evening?


Kathy made a smoked salmon platter.
Ellie made pork tenderloin sliders.
Maryann made artichoke nibbles.
I made rumaki plus several short breads for a little something sweet.

The month of October I'm giving away Rowan Magazines every Friday.
If you are a knitter, stop by every Friday and enter!

Linked to Between Naps on the Porch
and No Minimalist Here.

sweater organization

Knitting so many sweaters a year, I need to have a practical way of storing them and having them at my fingertips when I'm in a hurry and want to find a certain one quickly.  In years past I piled them in a teetering mess in this armoire and was never able to find a thing.  Five years ago I brought a dozen clear plastic boxes and stacked them in the armoire.  That kept everything neat, but was clumsy.  Taking out boxes and searching for the sweater took more time than I wanted to spend.  Yesterday I found these inexpensive shelf dividers at the Container Store and bought 5 sets, more than enough to handle all my winter sweaters.  I couldn't wait to get home and straighten everything up.  While I was organizing I finished my two weeks long epic sweater migration by washing my summer sweaters and storing them away for winter, then refilling the armoire with my winter sweaters.  I think this, finally, is the answer to my sweater organization!  I love organizing, so satisfying.  I think I will purchase a few more sets and use them for my boots.

And yes, all those sweaters are hand knit by me, and is really just a fraction of them!  The exception is the black and red Dale of Norway fair isle.  Shopping links are at the bottom of this post.

Neat and tidy and everything in sight and at my fingertips.

These are the taller dividers.  They clamp onto the shelf and are very sturdy.

At $9 for a set of two I think they are a bargain.

Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you next week
with a new sweater in Rowan Angora Haze,
a party, a book review and
a few new accessories.

collecting bakelite napkin rings

Last week we met friends for dinner and afterwards they invited us to their house for dessert.  I knew she collected Bakelite napkin rings but had never seen them lined up like this before; staged, all ready for me to photograph!  Bakelite is an early plastic and a very popular collectable; I have another friend with a similar collection.  Avid collectors look not only for napkin rings, but bangle bracelets (she has a collection of those too) and earrings, poker chips, dice and billiard balls, purses, buckles, buttons and more.  Bakelite has a wonderful warm, dense feel.  They are most often opaque, but you can see she also has a few translucent and marbleized pieces. What I love about Bakelite is that it's very user friendly.  They aren't so delicate that they can't be enjoyed and used every day.

Her two year old grandson loves the scottie dogs.

The translucent rocking horse is my favorite as it reminds me of a gummy bear.

She had the table set for dessert buffet using her napkin rings.

The beautiful lemon almond cake is gluten free.  Recipe below.

After years of not feeling well, my girlfriend discovered she was gluten intolerant and banned all wheat from her kitchen.
She bought these Oxo glass food storage containers for her different flour mixes. 

I cannot end this post without showing you her vintage cookie jar from Brush Pottery.
originally part of McCoy Pottery, both are famous for their fanciful cookie jars.

Lemon, Ricotta & Almond Cake

1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cup superfine sugar (whirl sugar in a blender to super fine it)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup lemon zest (about 5 lemons)
4 eggs at room temperature, separated
2 1/2 cups almond meal
10 1/2 oz. ricotta
sliced almonds and powdered sugar to decorate top of cake

Heat oven to 325 F.  Line the base and side of a 9" round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.

Place the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer several minutes until pale and creamy.  Scrap down side of bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined.  Add the almond meal and beat to combine.  Fold in ricotta cheese.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture.  Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top with a palette knife, decorate the cake with the almond slices and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch.  Allow to cool completely in the cake tin.  Dust with icing sugar to serve. 

Here are some fun links!

Bakelite Collectors Club
Images galore of napkin rings.
Two pages of napkin rings on Etsy.
Learn about Brush Pottery
Oxo Glass Food Storage Containers
The Knitionary Recipe Blog 


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baby hoodie

I love to knit for babies.  Their little body type is so darn perfect for a knitted something:  those tiny shoulders with round tummies and big noggins with drooly smiles, yep, perfect body type.  Here is one fantastic little double breasted pea coat designed for babies and toddlers.  The sweater is top down, knit in one piece.  Latte is a great pattern that I would use again in a heartbeat.  I thought it would be cute with red buttons or white buttons, but I went traditional and used these neutral buttons and am very happy with the look.  The pattern has optional hood and pocket directions.  I might add the pockets, but there was no question I was making this into a hoodie.  I adore babies in hoodies.  My only mod was to use garter stitch for the placket instead of the woven stitch.  For baby and children's knits I exclusively use machine washable wool or cotton.  Cascade 128 Superwash is a bulky weight machine washable wool and IMO one of the finest machine washable wool yarns available.  It is super squishy soft and the stitches line up beautifully creating a gorgeous and even fabric.  If you feel your tension is less than perfect, I think this may be the yarn for you.

I'd like to know what your favorite yarns are for baby knits.  Also, do you have a favorite go-to baby pattern?  Please tell!

Latte Baby Coat by Lisa Chemery
Cascade 128 Superwash, 100% Merino Wool at Jimmy Beans
My Ravelry link for more details
Linked to Anything Blue Friday

The Belle of the Ball

To round out party week at Knitionary, I want to take you to a lovely garden wedding our family attended this summer.  Our good friends were to see their youngest child and only daughter marry.  This wedding had many beautiful ideas and I want to show you how Pinterest had a HUGE part in this reception!

A clothesline of table cards printed by local printer Elli Bernacchi of In Print Los Altos.
 When the mother of the groom arrived in town she set up shop in a corner of the house
and glued little burlap roses, letter beads, etc. to each card.

We entered through the side gate.

All floral arrangements, table decorations and table settings were executed by the mother of the bride and her all-star team.

Sue and John planted huge clusters of mammoth sunflowers around the garden.
These you see in the background were over 10 feet tall!

 Pretty passed and set appetizers to start.

Bamboo fans in case it got hot, it did not.

A basket of sandals for when our feet got too tired for heels.

Sangria at every table.

The gorgeous bride!

Raffia was tied around each vase to visually harmonize the table.
The table numbers were slices of a fallen birch tree with
the numbers created with a craft store wood burning tool.

Over a thousand candles glowed throughout the night.

The bride and groom dreamed of a backyard garden reception with a casual vibe.  The bride grew up in this house and knew that there could be no better venue for this important day.  Mom and Dad got on board and have a whole year to plan and find they have a perfect reason to get the garden in ship shape making the repairs and changes they had been wanting to do.  My friend Sue walked around the garden for days and days, notebook in hand to decide what needed pruning, pulling, replacing, and general sprucing up. 

Kayti lives in New York, the folks live in California.  They talk often about their dreams for the reception but it was not until Kayti and Sue joined Pinterest that they finally could get their ideas across to each other. They created numerous boards and started pinning away.  In no time at all Sue could interpret what kind of wedding Kayti had envisioned and Kayti could see what changes her parents were making to the garden.  Sue and Kayti were trolling Pinterest most days and having a lot of fun.

Next step was to find the perfect caterer.  Excellent food was very important to the bride and groom so they selected popular local caterers, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  Kayti wanted long tables set end to end and with the help of the caterer they made a map of where the tables and food stations would go.  Sue shared their vision of the table decorations and he suggested the larger 8'x4' king sized tables that seat 4 on each side when lined up banquet style.  Next, she took her dining room table, which also happened to be 8'x4" and started designing "the wedding look".  She decided that the "look" she preferred had 5 vases of flowers, 3 lanterns and 6 votives on each table.  Multiply that by how many tables she needed (well over 20) and came up with how many vases, lanterns and votives she would have to beg, borrow or steal.  But mostly she purchased and gave herself a budget and stuck to it.  For a year she scoured Ikea, Goodwill, Ross, TJ Max and Michaels and tucked away her finds in boxes stacked in the garage all the while keeping an inventory.

Now enter the father of the bride who is entrusted with the job of illuminating this part of the garden.  He spent the better part of spring bringing in electricity and stringing lights across the large portion of unlit space.  They wanted soft light from above and soft candle light from the tables.

A few weeks before the wedding Sue ordered the flowers from the flower seller at the local farmer's market.  The day before the wedding the flowers were delivered.  Sue set up an assembly line in the garage and what came next can only be classified as a family affair.  The bride, the mothers of the bride and groom, and sisters of the groom and friends set to work to fill over 100 vases and mason jars with flowers.  The medley of vases was made to harmonize by tying raffia around each vase and creating similar, but not matching, arrangements in each vase. They most especially did not want a slick matchy matchy look or a formal designer look.  The look they achieved was eclectic and personal, exactly what they were going for.

On the day of the reception the caterers and their team set up the tables and chairs and placed the linens and settings.   Next the groom and groomsmen, brothers and cousins reported for duty.   They were charged with the task of moving all the vases, votives and lanterns from the garage to the tables.   Sue said they sincerely took their job to heart and scrutinized each table with the eyes of artists, rearranging each piece until perfection was attained! 

This wedding prep was a lot of work, a lot of fun, beautiful to see and a personal reflection of the family's fun and casual style.   It was truly a family affair with both families of the bride and groom coming together to help create a special day for Kayti and Morgan.  And it was gorgeous.

I leave you with this "Cowboy" poem, a genre of poetry I was unfamiliar with but now admire.  The father of the bride recited this, and there was not a dry eye in the house.

The Belle of the Ball  

I drove her all right
To the shindig that night,
'Course I said it was just for the ride,
But it probably bought
Me some dances, I thought
As I walked with her proudly inside.

I paid our way in,
We got our hands stamped and then
I was ready to go shake a leg,
But we were met by some guys
With stars in their eyes
Before I'd hung my hat on a peg.

One asked, "May I Ma'am?"
And she offered her hand,
So I waved as they went off to dance,
And though she'd gone off with him,
I still thought with a grin,
Won't be long now 'til I get my chance.

By the wall were some chairs,
So I took a seat there,
And I marveled as she two-stepped around.
Her blonde hair would flow
As she danced to and fro,
Her feet barely touching the ground.

An hour slipped by;
I had no chance to try-
Seemed hopefuls were lined to the door.
But every once in a while
She would flash me a smile
As she waltzed past me out on the floor.

I was just going to go ask
When Miss Tucker come past-
All five foot and two hundred pounds.
She insisted one whirl,
And I'll tell you, that girl
Purt near flung me plumb out of town!

I'd barely recouped
When Granny Coberri swooped
Me up for a varsouvienne.
Then a schottisch with Trish,
Who was once quite a dish-
But all things up ... someday fall down.

It was becoming apparent,
That with her full card I daren't
Even dream of a dance with her.
Besides, why would she
Want to waste time on me
When I was just one night's chauffeur?

So, except for one trip
To the truck for a nip,
I demoted myself to wallflower.
I watched two flasks abused,
And one fight defused,
And Miss Tucker make cowpunchers cower.

Seemed I sat there for days,
And tho' I'd try different ways,
I could not get close to her at all.
Don't know what I expect-
I guess that's what you get
When you come with the belle of the ball.

I wished I'd stayed at the ranch
As the band called "Last Dance!"
When I turned to see standing right there
By a whole herd of men
Doing their best to crowd in
That gal with the pretty blonde hair.

She winked me her charm,
Took 'holt of my arm.
All them fellers were sure looking sad
When she said through the noise,
"I'm real sorry, boys,
But the last dance I saved for my dad."

Next week Knitionary returns to it's roots.  Actual knitting posts.  Honest to goodness.