Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 favorites.

...inspired by sara to share my favorites for this year. it's a fun way to look back. and it really does make me realize (yet again) what a wonderful year it has been. thank you to everyone who's reading this for being part of it!

of course sara told her story in words, but I'm telling mine in pictures*.

favorite photo of the three of us.
three of us.

favorite photo of the two of us.
237:365 really?

favorite photo of the two of them.
354:365 giggles.

favorite person to hold my hand for a 30-mile walk.
together

favorite dinner when marc's away.
300:365 dinner for one.

favorite thing I knitted for a baby.
273:365 wordless wednesday.

favorite thing I knitted that surprised me. this one is also a favorite because it's for someone at the nursing home. and knitting with the ladies there on thursday afternoons is one of my favorite blessings of the year.
the pig has flown.

favorite cocktail party.
366:365 the cocktail party.

favorite thing(s) I knit for someone else.
12 hats for charity

favorite thing I knitted for myself.
panoramic stole

favorite field trip.
134:365 cross creek.
favorite recipe I created.
pimento cheese

favorite purchase.
331:365 new keys.

favorite long-time documentation habit. (I'm now into year seven and journal #17.)
233:365 14 ends. 15 begins.

favorite new documentation habit.
211:365 project life.

favorite iphone app.
Untitled

favorite tv show. and how cool that I watched the first two seasons on my laptop. (this was a hard choice... I also considered boardwalk empire, homeland and mad men but DA wins because I share it with all my girlfriends. and because it has maggie smith.)
57:365 downton abbey.

and one last shout out to my favorite book of 2012, erin morgenstern's night circus. apparently, this one never made it to my flickr feed!

*click the photos to see them in flickr and read a little more about them.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

taking tuesdays' advice to heart.

...this morning I baked cranberry oatmeal cookies and gingerbread biscotti* (and took a photo)
and last night I mixed a new cocktail** (and took a photo).

...and adding one little bit of my own. merry, merry indeed!!

*recipe for those biscotti coming... as soon as I have a chance to consult with Sara about the substitutions I made.

**sadly, this cocktail looked better than it tasted. to me anyway. I guess I'm not a bourbon fan and this was really bourbon-y. my sister liked it. but I think she's a bourbon fan. so...highly recommend for bourbon fans!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts on blogging, over lunch.

One of my very favorite things to do over the holidays is have lunch out. Yesterday was my first opportunity this year; Sara and I met up at Murphy's. Funny thing, now that she has her own apartment, she...lives there; this is the first Christmas that the end of the semester doesn't mean she's here. At least she's only 45 minutes away (and she enjoys lunch out as much as I do!)

The food was delicious as always. Sara ordered the mussels
lunch at murphy's.

and I ordered the Chef's Fall Vegetable Special.
lunch at murphy's.

And we talked. First we re-hashed the 11:30 pm conversation we'd had Sunday night about the season finale of Homeland.  Sara had (of course) watched it again and she had a few new insights and thoughts about season 3. We planned the menus for this weekend. We're hosting my family's get together on Sunday, then it's just the three of us for Christmas Eve dinner and Katie & Rob are joining us for Christmas Day.  Holiday food for small parties is hard! But at least the grocery shopping is easy and I'm not worried about fitting everything into my refrigerator.

Then we got into all the social media and how much we're online and for what purpose. I recently deleted my Facebook account - no regrets! And while I'm "on Twitter", I rarely tweet. Sara, on the other hand, tweets a lot - and I enjoy following along. Instagram comes in spurts; I'll go days without posting anything (and sometimes days without checking in there at all) and then I'll have multiple photos to add in just a few hours. (I wonder what impact Instagram's privacy changes will have?) I've paid a lot less attention to Ravelry lately, in part because I've had less time, but also I've been knitting less. I miss it.

Sometime in there, we ordered pumpkin creme brulee dessert.
lunch at murphy's.

And in the end, we got around to blogging and this blog in particular. Mere-et-Filles will be six years old in February. Sara wondered if it was time to start afresh. I told her I'd been thinking about that, too. It feels more like a chore, and not as spontaneous and fun as it used to be. I'm going to be giving it more thought over the next few weeks, but know I intend to make some changes. One change I'm considering is the platform. I'm sure Blogger can do a lot more than I know...and I'm sure it's easier than I make it. But with what I know, it's not easy. I know a lot of you use Typepad or Wordpress; I'd love to know what you like and don't like about your blogging platform.

In the meantime, one of things I love most about blogging is the community it creates. Friendships, stories, support...all shared across the internet. It's cool and it's fun and it's allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined. Thank you all for being part of that.

lunch at murphy's.
And no, all that talk didn't mean we forgot our photo!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ten on tuesday. must-get photos.

352:366 atop the bird tree.
a favorite ornament sitting near the top of our bird tree
...with just a week (yikes, really?!, only seven days?!) left 'til christmas, this week's prompt "favorite things to photograph at christmastime" is going to help me actually remember to take all those "must-get" photos!

1. our family. we have way too few of these. plenty of me with the girls, but ones with marc are rare. this year, I'd especially like a new one of just me and marc.

2. our tree(s!).

3. a favorite ornament, or two, or three.

4. baked treats.

5. gifted knitting, especially modeled by the recipient (especially if she smiles).

6. bokeh twinkle lights. bonus points if it includes a cocktail. or a candle.

7. our house from the outside. especially if it snows.

8. starbucks holiday decor.

9. stockings.

those first nine came quick and I struggled a bit with #10. and then it came to me...

10.  laughter.

I've got a bit more work to do on capturing these ten for this year...but this is one to-do I'm happy to tackle with all my energy. thanks, carole - perfect timing!

click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

project life weeks 38 and 39.

...aka december daily days one through fifteen. I decided I wasn't going to do a stand-alone december album this year (hard decision - the five albums I made for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 are some of my favorite scrapbooks) but instead would simply be sure to include something in my project life album for every one of the 31 days.

here are the spreads for these last two weeks.
week 38 - december 1 - 8 
week 39 - december 9 - 15
my approach was to simply start in the upper left and move through the left side and then the right side until I had all the spots filled. huge surprise to me, I made both weeks work without having to omit anything I really cared about...or add in something that seemed like just filler.

some days - like last saturday when we went to the concert filled up a lot of spaces (half of the right side of last week's spread).

but other days, it's just something simple. like a napkin with some journaling.
left - a screen shot from itunes with this year's top 12 list; right - lydia gave me these napkins for my birthday and they are perfect for holiday knitting, don't you think?
or the church bulletin with the prayer of preparation cut and pasted.

and how fun is it to take up three spots to remember that week 39 will also be known as homeland week (I watched one more episode on thursday to get to that crazy 14 episode count!).

seeing this come together has made me even more excited (yes, I guess that was possible!) to continue this project for 2013. one of those cards from week 39 talked about me buying the clementine core kit for next year - wonder how it will be to use "real" project life supplies?!

Friday, December 14, 2012

five things that might surprise you.

mary and holly
this is me (and holly) last night - at the kitchen counter
looking much better than I look right now - thanks to
katie for the great photo (and to john at bobbi brown
for the makeup!)
...about me. right now.

1. it's just after noon and I'm sitting at the kitchen counter in sweats, with my running clothes underneath. I put those running clothes on around 9am certain I was going to do something aerobic, or at least athletic. and three hours later, nope. today is going to be a rest day.

2. the christmas knitting is ... looking like it will be finished before next weekend. that's right, long-time readers, I am not thinking I need to hire a chauffeur next week so I can knit while he drives and I might even be able to get to my regular knitting before christmas eve. of course that's probably because...

3. I've watched 14 episodes of homeland since sunday. I am now caught up and joining the rest of the world in waiting for the season 2 finale on sunday.

4. that pink scarf I started last week is nearly done and I have a second ball of yarn to start another one.

5. I can't remember the last time I mailed a postcard. I'm sure my regular pen pals are wondering where I've been and I'm sorry. I have, however, written about a million thank you notes (not that I'm complaining) for housewarming, birthday and christmas gifts. and as of today, I am caught up. finally. postcards start again next week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ten on tuesday. christmas treats.

...this week's prompt is about cookies and perfectly timed since the knitting is coming along and I'm actually thinking I'll have time to bake next week.

20071222_0004
from 2007 ... and now only one of these cookies makes my top 10 list!
growing up, christmas baking was a big deal. huge. my mom comes from a german and scandinavian heritage. christmas food, especially the sweets, was full of tradition. she started baking weeks ahead and the pantry would slowly fill with tins and tupperware, some two dozen varieties give or take. we'd assemble trays and that was our gift to friends and co-workers. when I was in college and home for a few weeks with plenty of time on my hands, I took on the baking...learned my way around the recipes. and definitely formed opinions about my favorites.

fast forward 25 years and you have the spread shown above. toffee squares (from my mom), biscotti with dried cherries and white chocolate, cranberry oatmeal cookies and peppermint bark cookies.

and five years later, a few more tweaks. here are my current favorite christmas treats:

1. gingerbread biscotti. starbucks inspired. last year one of my knitting students gifted me a homemade batch and her recipe.

2. cranberry oatmeal cookies.  (that's the one I've kept from the 2007 list). oatmeal cookies are my favorite, but I only bake this version at christmas.

3. cranberry bliss bars. another starbucks inspiration. sara tracked down the recipe and I prefer her homemade version, without the frosting.

4. pepperkakor. this one is from my mom. very thinly rolled orange spice dough cut into hearts. I haven't baked these in years because they're a lot of work. last year, I found an orange spice cookie that has similar flavors, but it's way easier!

5. shortbread. another one from my mom. butter, flour, sugar and egg yolk. the real deal. she cut them into tiny shapes with canapé cutters (I definitely remember the bridge set with heart, diamond, club and spade). a few years ago, I discovered walkers shortbread. it's delicious. and I decided it was ok to have store-bought.

6. lebkuchen. my mom's recipe, from my grandmother, is just a bit different from the others I've seen. and it makes the best ones I've tasted.

7. spritz. an almond-flavored butter cookie, tinted green and shaped into trees with a cookie press. my sister-in-law always makes these, so we get to enjoy them still.

these last three aren't cookies but they're definitely treats.


9. candied pecans. I've tried making them, but they aren't as good as the ones I can buy from whole foods.

10. peppermint bark. from costco. chocolate peppermint love.

...and that's the list. I'd definitely like to make the biscotti and the cranberry oatmeal cookies. and I'll be buying candied pecans and peppermint bark. can't wait to see what everyone else suggests. there is plenty of room on my list for a new favorite or two!
click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Monday, December 10, 2012

mexican chicken soup.

...I shared this photo on flickr last week with a promise to share the recipe. promise kept!
mexican chicken soup.


but first, a little bit of background. 2 knit lit chicks is one of my favorite podcasts*, and not only because their forum on ravelry is always active...about knitting and other stuff, like books, and favorite trader joe's products, and very recently, slow cooker and soup recipes. barb started that thread with a mexican tortilla soup that she got from meghan of the stitch-it podcast and it's been on my to-try list since I first saw it.

in case you're not a ravelry member, I'm sharing the recipe here, as I made it. and can I say - it comes highly recommended by both me and marc. this is one of the few things I've made lately that he 1) said was good while he was eating it; and 2) asked me to make again. here you go:

mexican chicken soup
adapted from meghan and barb

1 can cannelini beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 7 oz. can diced green chilies
1 box vegetable broth
1 can green enchilada sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 T cumin
2 frozen boneless chicken breasts (about 1-1/4 pounds total)

put all ingredients except chicken in a 6 qt crockpot and stir to combine. place chicken breasts on top. set on low and cook for about 6-8 hours. remove chicken breasts and shred (I found this took the lightest touch of a fork - the chicken was perfectly cooked and oh-so-delicious). return the chicken to the crockpot. stir to combine and re-warm before serving.  freezes well.

both meghan and barb suggest topping the soup with things like tortillas, sour cream and grated cheese. marc had his plain. I added a spoonful of greek yogurt and a little bit of grated cheese...after tasting the leftovers, I think it's delicious without any extra accompaniment...and so I'm calling this simply "mexican chicken soup".

hope you enjoy!

*hosted by barb and tracie, mother & daughter, who live in northern california. and knit. and read. and laugh. this is mostly a knitter's podcast, I think, but there is a lot more here than knitting.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

december | eight.

photo (edited in camera+)  of the journaling card that accompanied the tickets...all ready for my project life album!
...my birthday gift from katie & sara included tickets to the atlanta symphony's christmas concert and dinner after at our favorite bistro vg.  needless to say, we had a ball.

atlanta symphony christmas concert
of course cameras are prohibited during the concert; this is the pre-concert warm-up
the concert was amazing. 150+ voices (plus another hundred or so with the combined choruses) accompanied by a full orchestra. they opened with o come emmanuel and it brought tears to my eyes. the hallelujah chorus was just as beautiful. we also loved the vivaldi piece with the violin solo and especially enjoyed the morehouse glee club's betelehemu (accompanied by drums and handclaps - it was a work of art!).

atlanta symphony christmas concert
sara, katie, mary
and of course bistro vg was our choice for a post-concert dinner (and cocktails).

343:366 holiday spirits.

loved the snowflakes hanging in the bar. and the food (I have no photos to share, but you can probably guess we started with the cheese plate and then shared the arugula salad, spinach pizza and scallops...and a cranberry brown butter tart for dessert - complete with a candle and one last birthday wish - that photo is on katie's phone :-) was delicious as always.

but most of all I enjoyed the time with these two lovely women. who occasionally made me laugh so hard I cried. there was a good bit of wedding talk (I can only imagine that's going to continue for six or so more months!) and talk about training for our half marathon (and a half ironman that katie is doing next fall) and italy in may 2014 (for sara's graduation) and santa and christmas and ....

we all had a lovely time.
post-concert dinner at bistro vg
mary, katie, sara (we're all about the same height - you can tell who was wearing the high heels!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

four trees.

...I really had fun with all your comments on my post last thursday - thank you! apparently marc was just tired and cranky that night, because the next day he was most encouraging (we went to lowes and home depot together and then he suggested I try michaels and target on my own) about those five trees.

but in the end, we've ended up with four. that gives us room to grow, right?!

I'll share more details on each of those trees - the ornaments are a very special part of my holiday - in later posts, but for now, I wanted to give you a quick tour of house 2.0 and what it looks like to decorate with (mostly) just trees and poinsettias:

and one wreath (marc's still trying to figure out how to hang the other one - it's big and red, from costco - over the two garage doors).

just inside the front door, three trees and four poinsettias straight ahead. and maybe holly (likely barking if you've rung the bell!)

to your left is my study,

and to your right is the dining room.
the blue & white plate collection is on the wall to the left...that you can't see here!
as you walk into the house, the first tree you see is the bird tree.

and then the word tree (yeah, that rhymes and I do think that's weird)

and then the "big" tree.

turn the corner and there's the family room (with the kitchen off to your right).

if you look straight ahead (which is to the right of that photo just above), you'll see tree #4, the advent calendar tree, now decorated with six of my favorite holiday photos.

you can see a glimpse of the kitchen nook off to your right - here's a better view.

my project life "stuff" is all over the table..some things haven't changed...and if you look closely, on that top shelf of the hutch there's a miniature charlie brown tree (which I'm not calling tree #5).

and if you turn around, you see the kitchen.

the counter top is uncharacteristically cleaned off. I'm typing this post sitting at that right-hand stool...and I've got more stuff spread about me. the slow cooker off to the left has been working hard all day on a mexican chicken soup, which I think is going to be delicious. stay tuned for the recipe!

so there you have it - one wreath, three big poinsettias, four trees, four smaller poinsettias and a few other pieces. quick and easy and now I'm getting back to the knitting!