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Archive for December, 2009

Around Thanksgiving, on one of my first Christmas shopping trips (this one on Portland’s fashionable NW 23rd Avenue), I found a cool scarf that I thought I would get for my niece.  The scarf was made of many long thin strips of a jersey material, tied together at a couple of places.  It came with a booklet of suggestions for different ways it could be worn: draped loosely around your neck, braided as a belt, twisted around your head.

The one drawback was the hefty pricetag:  $70 for the one I liked.

As soon as I got home I started looking online for a similar scarf.  I couldn’t find one like the one I had seen.  I did find the site of another blogger who had made her own from a recycled T-shirt.

As soon as I arrived in St. Louis, my sister-in-law and I headed for the nearest Target where we picked out 4 X-Large T-shirts.  We couldn’t find the seamless ones recommended on the website, but decided to give it a try with the ones we could get.

Once home I reviewed the instructions and got started.  The first step was to cut off the hem and the top part of the shirt, including the sleeves.  Then I started cutting strips from the tube of material that remained.

I cut each of the resulting loops along one of the seams to create thirteen long strips of fabric,

and tugged on each strip causing them to lengthen and curl.

I then took 12 of the 13 strips I had made and divided them into three bunches, braiding them together to form the center of the scarf.  I used the thirteenth strip (which I first cut into two shorter strips) to tightly wrap the ends of the braid to hold them in place.

In the end, I made a total of four scarves, one for each of the women in my family.  They are already in frequent use and get noticed wherever we go.

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Christmas dinner

Yesterday, instead of cooking the dinner myself, I had the pleasure of watching (and photographing) as others prepared a wonderful seafood feast.

Venetian black rice served as the elegant foundation for a rich, savory risotto.

Other ingredients included fish (cod and drum),

octopus,

squid, clams and shrimp.

Lots of hands helped with the preparation;

there was a lot of chopping to be done.

In the end it all came together with the help of some champagne

and the use of many pans

into an amazing dish.

The perfect end to a wonderful day.

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And all through the house….I was baking cookies.  I don’t always bake when I am not at home, but we got invited to a cookie sharing party and I decided to go for it.  After flipping through a number of cookbooks, I ended up with my favorite, dependable and delicious Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I have NEVER baked something from this book that did not turn out perfectly.  Today was no exception. Because this was an after dinner party that included a lot of adults, I decided to look for some more grown-up cookies. The first recipe I chose was Salt and Pepper Chocolate Shortbread cookies; an R-rated cookie flavored with unsweetened cocoa,

fleur de sel and ground black pepper.

These are the kind of cookies that you mix, roll, chill, slice

and bake.

They were a big hit.

I also wanted to make something equally elegant that the gluten- and dairy-intolerant members of my family could enjoy.  I chose Dorie’s Cocoa Almond Meringues.

They were also a hit, with kids and grown-ups alike.

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