Moving to karenlyon.net

Happy New Year! Cookingkaren.com has moved to karenlyon.net. I hope you will join me there!

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Veterans Day 2014

Honestly it’s been since May since I’ve posted. That was quite a blog break or blogiday! We have had so many events and new beginnings in the past 6 months. And so I thought it was only fitting to grab another easier to remember domain name for my blog. So cookingkaren.com will eventually be replaced by karenlyon.net. I did my initial post but in the following weeks I will be making it truly my own. I hope you will join me.
Karen

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Mother’s Day 2014

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s been another crazy few months and the chaos will be continuing for our family through 2014.  It’s a good craziness however as opposed to 2013.  Our family has one more week left in our home on the Chesapeake Bay.  We were renting this year to allow our youngest daughter to complete high school here.  Little did we know that my husband would be offered a job that would allow us to stay in this area.  But our lease is nearly over, the owners are returning to their charming house and we have purchased a home in Williamsburg!  Painting, refinishing the hardwoods and new carpeting are in the works as well as finishing the third floor for my “play room.”  It’s been a bustle of activity since we began the house search in January and included selling our house in Alexandria.   May 19 will be the first night in house #20 for our family and here she is:

1408371-25What the picture doesn’t show is the small lake in the back yard and the winery within walking distance.  During the short amount of time we have spent there we spotted catfish…some as long as your arm!…, turtles including a baby in the driveway, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, gold finches, a sweet little female bluebird, cardinals, deer, frogs, and yes, a snake!!  I will definitely be poking a stick in the bushes before I pull weeds!

We had the entire interior of the house painted, hardwoods refinished and new carpet planned on the 19th, just in time for the furniture  delivery on the 20th.  Our oldest daughter will be our first visitor on the 23rd, arriving to attend Dana’s high school graduation on the 24th.  It’s funny since when Kristen graduated from high school we were also in the middle of a move from Utah to DC.  Seems that is the way we roll.

In addition to Charlie’s new job, Dana’s graduation and college decision are the upcoming nuptials of Kristen to her fiance Rich.  Rich popped the question (and yes, he did call to ask for permission)  over the Christmas/New Year holiday in Rockefeller Center in NYC.  Within weeks they selected a wedding date in September and shortly after that Kristen had signed contracts from all the vendors.

During all of these significant events, I did find time to sew and hook.  I’ve been on a pincushion binge lately…here are some of my creations….

IMG_1755And I finished a hooked rug….here it is without the binding,

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It appears that Hampton likes it!

I also decided to tackle a fairly big painted project using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint.  My Grandmother Martin gave me her china hutch years ago. It has traveled the world with us and was beginning to show some wear.  My grandmother purchased it new in 1970 so it wasn’t an antique.  That made my decision to paint it easier and hopefully she would approve.  Here are the before and after photos.

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I changed out the hardware, painted the hinges, slightly distressed the edges and used a coat of clear wax followed by a coat of dark wax to finish it.

IMG_1716And I have been reading (rather listening to books) for the past few months too.   I have been an audible.com subscriber for a couple years.  Since January I have devoured the following:

The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman
The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester
The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
Unbroken, Laura Hilenbrand
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fannie Flagg
The Other Wes Moore, Wes Moore

So yes, all is well, I continue to be busy but have totally blown that New Year’s resolution to blog more frequently.

And finally, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day….today I’ve been a little blue, wishing that my parents would be able to visit us in one of their favorite places, Williamsburg, VA.  They traveled there frequently and Mom would be over the moon knowing we will be calling it home next week.  Don’t know when I’ll be back on the blog…got an entire 53 foot tractor trailer to unload and unpack over the next weeks/months.  Be back when we get settled.

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Mid January already!

It’s apparent I am getting old….time just flies by!  The first weeks of 2014 have been busy for our household.  Our oldest daughter was engaged on December 28!  Since then the wheels have been turning, websites visited, checklists made, emails sent and received, phone calls made.  There is excitement in the air!  Some important decisions have already been made…date and venue in Washington DC.  It is a very fun time for our family and we hope to make their day very special.

In the meantime I have been making progress on some (not all) of my New Year’s goals.  I have completed some projects!  Yipee and it’s feels good.  Here are the photos of my completed projects.

IMG_1573The first of four chairpads of the Buttermold series.  I am experimenting with a new finishing technique…it’s a long wool strip that I single crochet around the rug backing.  I think I really like it…here’s a close up photo of the edge.

IMG_1574I’m working on changing the living room decor from holiday (can you believe I still have the Christmas up!) to blue and white leading to a spring feeling.  The first stage means new pillows for the sofa.  I ordered the blue and white polka dot pillows from Pottery Barn and then completed this wool applique pillow.

IMG_1627And finally I finished this wool applique table mat

IMG_1626Thanks for stopping by!

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Downton Abbey dinner

Last night was the night…Season 4 Downton Abbey Premiere.  My plans for a fun adult Downton Abbey dinner fell through as my husband is out of town for the week.  It was disappointing however I did a teenage version instead.  Dana selected a cookbook for me to cook from this week and it was a perfect choice –

IMG_1620“At Home Charleston” by Catherine H. Forrester

I purchased this cookbook two summers ago during our wonderful vacation to Isle of Palms and Charleston, SC, one of our favorite places.  The city has so much charm and so much to offer.

This cookbook preserves Ms. Forrester’s grandmother’s traditions and family entertaining heritage in true Southern form.  I love all the little vignettes she describes of her grandparents.  The menus often include the party planning pages and many times next to the entry “Where Given” her grandmother wrote,

At Home – Charleston

and thus, the name for this cookbook.

As for our Downton Abbey dinner for teenagers, Dana invited several friends over to dine.  Only one of the girls was a fan of the show but the others were happy to join us.  Here’s  the menu:

  • Sparkling Apple Cider (the cook had a little something stronger!)
  • Cucumber Canapes (learned at a Pampered Chef party)
  • Shrimp Paste Tea Sandwiches (from featured cookbook, pg. 67)
  • Filet of Beef Bourguignon served over garlic toast (thank you Barefoot Contessa!)
  • Spinach Parmesan (from featured cookbook, pg 159)
  • Chocolate Pots de Creme with Whipped Cream (from featured cookbook, pg. 78)
  • Camomile Tea

Unfortunately I did not snap any photos of dinner although one of the girls did, commenting on the “lovely presentation” of the meal…it may be on Instagram.  It was truly a delightful evening with some lovely young ladies.  I’m so glad Dana has good friends! Our dinner looked a little like this –

downton abbey dinnerMinus the butler, footmen, dinner jackets, silver, up swept hair and stiff upper lips but we did have a white tablecloth, cloth napkins, candlelight, fine china, and crystal stemware.

All the recipes I tried were excellent and will likely be an addition to the Lyon repertoire …I particularly was a fan of the Parmesan Spinach!

And we did watch Downton Abbey until the girls realized it was a two-hour show ending at 11 pm and the next day was a school day!

Following on the Downton Abbey theme..last summer I wrote about a wall hanging I was making with mini Dresden plates and I referred to it as my Downton Abbey quilt.  Well, here it is on the design board waiting to be quilted then displayed hopefully by the Season 4 Finale.

photoSo far I’m doing good on my New Year’s goals …  I exercised 5 times last week, didn’t purchase a new project and actually completed some,  cooked from my cookbook library, met my monthly goal for blogging as well as a few others…it’s a great start!  Until next time!

 

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Bring on 2014!

    New Years Eve Kiss

   Since the sprint to the Christmas finish line, I have thought about this coming year.  Many of us do that and in years past I’ve made resolutions that I’ve lost track of in the following weeks and months.  I hope to do better this year on my goals.  As a trained educator, I know that objectives must be measurable and reachable.  I also know that life events often take priority over these goals…life events did me in last year.

2014 will also have some major life events – our youngest daughter graduating from high school and beginning college (location TBD),  the purchase of a home, (yes we are leaving this beautiful, but quirky rental home on the Chesapeake Bay), and the upcoming nuptials of our oldest daughter in the Fall.  I’d call those major life events, how about you?  It will surely be a busy year with lots of happy events!

So my goals for 2014:

1 – Pray more.  Last year was a banner year for me in that department and I want to keep that in my life.

2 – Seek happiness…ok, that’s not too measurable but I will know if I’m doing it…last year that was often difficult.  If I strive to accomplish this list or at least most of this list I’ll be on my way.

3 – The old standard…live a more healthy life.  Exercise 3 times per week and lose the weight I gained in 2013 before I am the mother of the bride!  I also have my 5 year cancer free check-up in the spring and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have better test results on my blood work!  Genetics are working against me!

4 – Read one book a month.  Actually I do audiobooks while I cook or sew.  I’m still on an email list of a book group in Alexandria and they select some of the best books…I hope to keep up with them from afar.

5 – Blog twice a month.  That’s easy right?  Well, not so much but I’ll try.

6 – Cook from my extensive cookbook library.  I love cookbooks and pick one or two up whenever we travel somewhere.  I’ll use one or two recipes then put it on the shelf.  I want to dust that cookbook shelf more often this year.  So I hope to pick a cookbook each week (Sunday) and try at least one new meal from it during the week.

7 – Brace yourself…No new quilt/rug projects!  I will work only on the ones I have in my sewing room.  I let my quilt group in on this goal a few weeks ago.  They looked at me in astonishment then laughed.  Trust me I could sew or rug hook for years with the collection I have in my sewing room.  But this will be the difficult one since the Mid-Atlantic quilt festival is coming up in February, only 4 miles from the house, and I have committed to a quilting retreat at Woolen Willow in May with my cousin, Melissa, who is a bad influence on me (I hope she’s reading!)

8 – And last but not least, get more organized.  I once was so organized and somehow that has slipped away over the last 10 + years.  When the girls were young I was perhaps the most organized and I realized that was because they had a schedule that I was following. Their mood would often depend on how well I was keeping their schedule.  I would like to get in a daily rhythm or schedule that will help me feel more organized and in control of my time.  The older I get the more difficult that is.  I am a great list maker so maybe that’s where I should start…need to reflect on this one more!

Okay, there you have it.  I think I’ve covered it all so wish me luck this year.  Now as I look back at the list I am already overwhelmed but still looking forward to an exciting, action packed, and fun-filled year! ( That statement should give me points towards goal #2!)  Until next time…I’m off to put an exercise DVD in!

Happy New Year!

einglucklichesnewjahr

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Christmas Recovery

Wow!  Here it is New Year’s Eve.  I’m ready to bring in 2014 but first I need to recover from Christmas 2013.  Here are some of the things I made for Christmas gifts…and as usual it was a photo finish!

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All the Martin ladies received Apple Sewing Kits.  I found this pattern at a local quilt shop and just couldn’t walk by it…I tried, I really did!   When you open the apple it looks like this:

IMG_1585IMG_1586And this is what you find in the zippered half of the apple:IMG_1588 Now for the truth…I started these for Christmas 2012 knowing that Mom would love it.  Unfortunately she never received hers so I gave it to Barb, the person who worked beside her at the greenhouse and farm market for years and is like a member of the family.

My other Christmas gift for the family was a tea towel.  Each Martin family received one and all of the younger generation members as well.

IMG_1561Growing up I remember both my grandfather Martin and my father reciting this at the family dinner/supper table.  I honestly heard it hundreds of times and remember the lyrical way they said it but never could remember it word for word.  My grandfather always said it in a hushed voice…my father did very few things in a hushed voice so why I don’t have it memorized I’ll never know.

My sister-in-law, many years ago, had the presence of mind to have my grandmother Martin write this blessing and years ago she gave me a copy of it.  Thank goodness it surfaced in our move to the house on the bay.  When it did I knew exactly what to do.  I saw on Pinterest (so many ideas, so little time) a website where you can design your own fabric and paper.  http://www.spoonflower.com  I spent some time editing, uploading and designing the tea towel (I must add that I also spent some time swearing too!)  I uploaded the design and was able to get 10 repeats on 3 yards of linen/cotton fabric.  Several weeks later, the fabric arrived I cut out the tea towels, hemmed the edges and added a cotton twill tape in the corner for hanging.  Let’s just say that the oldest member of the family, Uncle George, 94, choked up when he read it and the youngest members of the family, our daughter Dana, 18 and Justin, 16, said we should frame it.  I think that means this gift was a hit for young and old.  By the way, both Dana and Justin said the blessing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Both did it willingly with tea towel in hand!

The other thing I have to show you is an addition to holiday decorating this year.  It’s maybe a little silly but I really like it…I made stars, one for the top of the Christmas tree  and two for the mantle.

IMG_1605IMG_1607These stars are made from old wooden carpenter’s rulers.  I saw my grandfathers pull these out of their overall pockets time and time again.  Over Thanksgiving I visited a new antique shop where my father-in-law lives and saw this.  A great idea that literally takes 30 seconds if you have a ruler.  Let’s see, what else did I find there?  Something I’ve been searching for years

IMG_1610This spool cabinet is in really good shape…I’ve been looking for a Coats & Clark cabinet but haven’t found one that is in good repair.  This one works great and is a useful and practical addition to my sewing room.

IMG_1611Inside are all my wool embroidery threads, Valdani 3-strand floss and pearl cottons.  Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to me!

By the way I did have a banner year at Christmas.  Charlie and the girls gave me these beauties –

IMG_1612Today I’m working on my list of 2014 goals…I’m not calling them resolutions because I rarely follow through…and the list is rather long.  I’ll share those another day.  For now, I’m preparing to close the chapter on 2013 and look forward to 2014!  Cheers!

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November Update

Wow…time flies…where did October go?  Life has been fast and furious and mornings on the porch are rather chilly now.  Afternoon is the new porch relaxation time sometimes wrapped in a quilt!

Field hockey season will be wrapping up this week.  The team goes to the state playoffs tomorrow….a 4 hour roadtrip!  Charlie and I have had a fabulous time cheering our girls on and we are pretty sad to see it end.  Dana’s high school sports activities will officially become only memories!

Though that is ending we also have some beginnings…college applications and a new job for Charlie.  The college search is a little tense but exciting, just like job hunting!  Charlie has found a good second career position which will allow us to remain in this area.  We are excited about the new opportunity and started looking for the stage 1 retirement home.  Retirement for us is a multi-stage process.

With field hockey, Capitals ice hockey games and football games…the sports dance card has been full.  The games we watch on TV usually find me in a chair with a project in my lap.  This past month this is what I managed to work on:

Another “Word to Live By”…. Passion

IMG_1480Some hooked mats that I’m using for thank you gifts…better late than never!

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The local Quilt Show…my entry “November’s Song”

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Party Planning….An 18th Birthday party

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Hockey Season…road trips to DC, eating out, and showing we are TRUE hockey fans by knowing the player’s parents.  Here we are this past weekend with Alex Ovechkin’s father!

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I’ve been working on other stuff too… I’m almost finished the first antique buttermold chair mat, finished sewing my Downton Abbey quilt top and it’s now in the machine quilting queue, started another hooked mat that will be a thank you gift, worked on two more Words to Live by blocks and started a wool applique Christmas tree skirt.  So many projects and not enough hours in the day!  And  the Holiday Season is quickly approaching too!

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Porch Projects

The past few days have been absolutely beautiful here in the Tidewater.  We have spent a lot of time on the porch.  My husband has become the official boat counter / harbor master tracking vessels going in and out.  He cross references them with a “ship finder” app (which by the way could use some modifications) on his iphone, using binoculars to verify the ships identity.  It’s almost a full-time job!  This has been a banner week with the sightings of a couple of submarines, dolphins, a pair of bald eagles, multiple helicopters, sailing lessons, a possible sighting of a “school” of turtles, tugs pushing barges, multiple container ships from a variety of countries, a playful pair of mockingbirds dancing in the front yard, a few fishing boats, and an aircraft carrier.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the porch consuming my breakfast and lunch there and working on projects until 4:30 pm when it was time to start supper.

I pulled out some new things to work on and to christen my new rughooking frame.

IMG_0208This frame is wonderful and is my first floor frame.  Here is why I like it…adjustable height, adjustable tilt of the frame, the frame rotates freely 360 degrees (like a steering wheel), carding strips to hold the rug backing, and a comfortable place to put your feet.  My cousin Melissa (who is known as a bad influence on me) introduced me to this piece of equipment!  Shortly after she mentioned it to me I found an envelope of money, a birthday/Christmas gift from my mother that had dropped under the seat of my car.  It brought tears to my eyes reading her handwriting and finding this gift from her nearly 2 months after her death.  So I viewed it as a sign that Mom wanted me to have this rughooking frame.  I purchased it and have had it months now.   This week I decided it was time to give it a whirl.

Image 1I kept the envelope from Mom and have it on one of my white boards in my sewing room.

On the rug hooking frame is the first chair pad in a series of 4 antique buttermold patterns.  Mom had her kitchen table and chairs refinished last year and asked me to make chair pads for her.  This is what she selected so it was only fitting that I work on these which I purchased from theoldtatteredflag.com.

ImageThistle flowers pattern on linen.

IMG_0210My progress so far.  Give me a day or two and it will be finished…the hooking part, binding will take another day or two.

My other porch project is a wool applique pillow.  I need to rotate projects as my fingers tend to get sore…unfortunately the beginning of arthritis is setting in.

IMG_0207This is another of many Maggie Bonanomi projects I have.  It will work up quickly….give me another hockey/football game or two and it will be ready for stuffing!

Need to get out on the porch to see what I’m missing!

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Cooking in the Kitchen

Friday afternoon I spent several hours cooking in the kitchen with all 4 burners going.  It was a great afternoon but you don’t want to eat what I cooked!  I had the dye kitchen set up…dyeing wool.

dye kitchen

It’s a fun process and you never really know what the pieces will look like until they dry.  I have a fairly large collection of wool and I overdyed some white, beige, tan pieces.

Image 5There’s 3/4 yard of wool cooking in this pot…the color will be New Denim Blue, hopefully. Each dye pot takes about an hour to set.  I’m using Jacquard acid dyes but I’m thinking I may change to a natural acid dye line which is less toxic and more environmentally friendly.

ImageAnd this is my rainbow by the end of the afternoon:

First 3 pieces New Denim Blue, Belfast Blue, Ocean Edge, 2 pieces of Pomegranate, Old Barn Red, Lichen, Toast, 2 pieces of Christmas Pine, 2 pieces of Deep Warm Earth.

Hmmm…thinking I might spent another afternoon in the dye kitchen this week…those pieces of Christmas Pine are a little bright and will probably go back into the dye pot plus I’d like to try some lavender shades.

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