colorful dinner party

It's nice to receive an invitation to a mid-week dinner party.  It seems a bit like a bonus, something fun to do and it's not even the weekend.  My friend Norma invited 8 for dinner last night.  The reason was to meet their friends visiting from out of town. But she had forgotten she was also going to the city that day so every thing, I mean every single thing had to be done in advance.  When we arrived 10 minutes late, she pulled me aside and said she had just arrived herself, only 10 minutes before, just seconds before the first guests arrived!  Sooo, house is clean, table is set, wine is chilled and the food is prepared and just needs to be reheated!  Light the fire and pour the wine, it's time for a dinner party!  Here was her lovely do ahead menu with recipe links:

Cheese Platter with Crackers and Dried Fruit

Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Honey Crisped Pecans (recipe below)
 Beef Bourguignon 

Norma always sets a beautiful table by mixing colors and patterns 
and what she achieves is always stunning!
An interesting tidbit, the green tinted water glasses with the square base 
were purchased from the estate of the late actor, Ronald Colman.

Beef Bourguignon for the main course.

On their refrigerator is a melange of family photos; 4 children and 9 grandchildren!

While my friends are old hands at pulling off parties,  I hope this post inspires you to be brave and have a dinner party!  Be it the finest china or paper plates, roasted quail or pizza!  It's all good and it's really about gathering people together.  It was fun to meet their friends visiting from China.  They will be back again in spring and we have already set a date to meet for dinner.  It's nice to make new friends.  Thank you Norma and Geoff for the nice evening.

Norma just emailed this morning with the recipe for her Honey Crisped Pecans:   1 teaspoon unsalted butter, 1 cup pecan halves and pieces, 3 tablespoons honey, fine salt.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a small baking dish with butter.  Add walnuts to pan and drizzle with honey and bake until golden (about 14 mins).   Cool and season with salt.   These were a delicious surprise on the soup!

recycling lunch and dinner and fabric



This post is all about recycling:  recycling a dinner party into a luncheon and after that, recycling fabric.

We had friends over for a casual dinner on Sunday night.  We had just come back from spending the night in the city so I set my table the day before and had a simple menu planned.  We pretended it was winter (California is experiencing unwinterlike warm dry weather so it wasn't easy) and made soup.  Then I remembered that I was also having my book club over for lunch the next day so I doubled the recipe.  The next morning I emptied the dishwasher and put it all right back on the table.  The only change was to remove the candles and replace the wine glasses for iced tea glasses.  I then served exactly the same menu as the night before.  Nice 'n easy!

Endive with hummus and honeyed almonds, sliced apples and white cheddar grilled sandwiches were perfect with soup.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Wild Rice
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Hummus in Endive with Honeyed Almonds

Every guest said, "I haven't had a grilled cheese sandwich in years"!  I know, me neither!  But the cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery were too tempting and thought a gourmet grilled cheese would be perfect with the soup.  The hummus was from Trader Joe's; I just put a dab at the end of a endive leaf, sprinkled some slivered honeyed almonds and snipped Italian parsley on the top.  It was really popular so I'm bringing that to a Superbowl party on Sunday.  A bit of a departure from typical Superbowl food!  I passed chocolate candies for dessert.

I love the paper pine cone place mats from Belle Banquet
Arte Italica dinnerware, discontinued Portofino pattern

On the table I'm using the napkins I made from discontinued sample fabrics.  About 5 years ago I made 4 dozen or so large dinner napkins in shades of creams and whites in different tone on tone patterns and jacquards.  They are made from discontinued fabric samples and are either silk, linen, cotton or a blend.  Most of the fabrics were milled in Italy and they're ALL simply beautiful.  When I worked in a linen shop we had numerous large samples of fabric for our customers to choose for their custom made sheets, etc.  The fabrics were so lovely, but when they were discontinued, hold on, they were (please sit down for this) thrown out.  I did warn you to sit down.  That was their fate before I arrived on the scene.  For the 5 years I worked there I took home every single solitary unwanted scrap no matter how tiny.  Over the years I made quilts, purses, guest towels, pillows, doll clothes, tablecloths and napkins.  Here are samples of my recycled goodies that came out of my sewing room.

I made a big market bag.

This quilt was a gift for a new born baby boy.

Here is one for a baby girl.  I love to quilt.  These are both machine pieced and hand quilted.

I made some beautiful napkins.
The napkin rings are vintage sterling silver that I've collected over the years,
before they got too expensive!

Two stacks of guest towels.

I cut stacks and stacks and stacks of quilt squares and gave them to everyone I knew who would have them!

A stack of Kindle cases to hand out.

a stack of napkins.

I love to make dolly clothes.  Looking at this picture makes me want to make some more.

This lime green scrap was perfect for clothespin dolls for my granddaughter's room.

I recovered all my pillows too!

I admit to being a total lover and scrounger of fabric.  I really do hate to see any of it go to waste.  When I had my two living room sofas recovered recently I asked the upholsterer to save the fabric and I made two dozen napkins we use for our every day napkins.  He said that he'd never heard of making napkins out of used sofa fabric.  Why not?  Seems perfectly normal to me.

Since it was book club I should tell you what we read.  We just finished reading A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous and our next book is The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I really like this author.  I've read two of her previous books and they remain favorites.  I'm also listening to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt just because it seems to be on everyone's list.  I belong to and get a book a month.  I am usually pretty behind and right now I know I have a few book credits that I need to use.  I think Audible is great if you like to listen to books.  I put them on my phone and listen to them when I walk and when I knit.  The Kindle is also great for knitting and reading.  If I have a project I can knit by touch I like to read from the Kindle.

Between the library, my Kindle and audible books, I rarely buy a book anymore.  I borrowed A Woman in Berlin from a friend and I'll put The Lowlands on my Kindle. I know a lot of people prefer books, but I don't have much of a preference.  I really love the convenience of a Kindle.  As for newspapers, we still get the Wall St. Journal, that is something I still like to hold in my hand.  We don't subscribe to any magazines. Oh wait, I take that back, I am getting Bon Appetit and my husband, Golf.  We ordered them from our granddaughter for a school fundraiser but I really don't want magazines that much anymore, I prefer my blogs now.  Our library has a very nice magazine reading area so sometimes I'll go there and browse through magazines if I'm missing them.  It's funny how the way we read has changed in such a short time.  I like having so many options.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a great week.


Relish Poncho

I love the versatility of ponchos and capes.  They are perfect for our unusually mild weather this year.  I wore my newest poncho in San Francisco last weekend and it was really all I needed to keep the slight chill away.  While the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho is great for a fine drapey yarn, this pattern, Relish by Lisa Richardson is perfect for a bulky yarn.  It's very fun to wear and I love the way it hangs, or rather doesn't hang...the bulkiness of the yarn gives it a charming flattering flair.  I actually knit this twice.  First I made it wider and longer thinking I might like it that way.  But nope.  I studied the model and realized the charm of this pattern is that is just covers the shoulders and upper midriff so it has a kind of bouncy fit.   I re-knit it as written and now love it.  It's made with the new Rowan Kidsilk Amore and is truly gorgeous as anything related to Kidsilk Haze would be.  It's very soft to touch and warm and cozy to wear and surprisingly lightweight.  It has a puffy chainette construction making it "hollow" and therefore lofty and bulky without adding excess weight.   I found Amore very easy to knit with size 13 needles even though the ball band says 15-17.  Large needles are just too uncomfortable for me.  I didn't think gauge would matter too much here anyway and after light blocking my poncho matches the schematics.  It's a super fast project, just a few nights of knitting bliss with mohair and silk.

While there could really be no substitute for this gorgeous yarn, it is quite pricey.  So for this pattern a possible yarn substitute would be Rowan Big Wool.  Big Wool is more dense and wouldn't have quite the same drape but just thinking it might work.

Amore also comes in Amore Shimmer
The Amore Collection by Lisa Richardson
Knitting details on my Ravelry page
Amore Ambassador Collection, one skein free pattern downloads

You can't help but notice the beautiful setting of my photo shoot.  We spent a lovely night in San Francisco at the Hotel Vitale.  Our son works there and comped us a night in their top floor circular suite with panoramic view.  Oh bliss.  Certainly the best hotel room I've ever stayed in.  From our room we had one of the best views in the city, the bay bridge, Treasure Island and the refurbished Ferry Building and sweeping views of the bay.  The weather was so beautiful we sat on our terrace and (I knit) and enjoyed a glass of wine.  We finally forced ourselves to get up and walked and walked along the waterfront popping in and out of shops and just enjoyed being in a beautiful city on a beautiful day.  

The Ferry Building is across the street and houses the most fantastic artisan food stalls.  We came home with wine, chocolate, gluten free brownies, cheese, popcorn, endive, almonds and salami.  Oh, and everything was locally sourced.  That evening we walked across the street to Boulevard and had a phenomenal dinner.  We happened to run into some friends eating at the bar and invited them to come back to our room to enjoy the view of the bay bridge with the fantastic light installation, a huge light show spanning the bridge and right in front of us.  In the end I was loath to sleep and miss any of it.  The next morning our son joined us and ordered breakfast in the room for the three of us.  Good thing, because I just did not want to leave the room and the view.  My son doesn't read my blog but he was such a doll and really made us feel like we were royalty.  The staff couldn't have been nicer.  We were just thrilled to be pampered! It's grand to get away for a night.  Enjoy the pictures below and I have plenty of San Francisco links at the end.


Even the tub had a bay view!


You can't tell from my pictures, but the light installation is so beautiful!  The lights are constantly moving.

We woke up to a pretty sunrise.