Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005

Summer in Winter

Posted January 31st, 2015 by

Making a Wineberry Crisp

I spent my Saturday morning as I often do: sipping a hot beverage and reading something interesting. Often it’s Awake tea and blogs, or some other kind of tea and a good book, but today it was coffee and Artful Blogging.

I love that magazine. I wouldn’t say that the articles are all that ground-breaking. In fact, I often think that if I read one more “How Blogging Changed My Life” or “We’re All Part of Such a Wonderful Community Where Everyone Shares and Cares” article I might scream (even if I do sometimes share those rosy feelings myself). For me, the beauty of Artful Blogging is in the photography. I do still read the articles, but it’s generally the author’s images that grab me first, and the words second.

So this weekend, I was flipping leisurely through the current issue, stopping now and then to follow somebody on Flickr or Instagram as they caught my eye, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

This Artful Blogging made me want to bake.

I was suddenly struck by this intense need to bake a berry crisp.

Now, let me tell you how unusual this is. For one thing, Saturdays rarely see me dressed before Noon. For another thing, my cooking and baking mojo were last seen somewhere in 2011, I think, and these days my oven is primarily a vessel for curing polymer clay crochet hooks or heating up frozen french fries.

And yet, here I was, 9:30 in the morning, hopping in the shower, getting dressed, and throwing on an apron to bake something that I wasn’t required to bake. And I was doing it with enthusiasm, as opposed to resignation.

I put on some Innocence Mission, which for some reason I can’t explain, feels like baking music to me.

I took a bunch of pictures, because from the moment I found myself showering before lunch time on a weekend, I knew I was going to blog it.

Making a Wineberry Crisp

2015 31/365

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

You realize just how worth-the-effort it is to squirrel away a handful of Summer berries, when you are standing in your kitchen on the last day of January, holding a freezer container to your face, and breathing in the smell of the farmer’s market from seven months before. Oh, those strawberries – so fragrant!

Along with the strawberries, I had also saved a small bag of farm market blueberries and blackberries, and some wineberries from the yard. Six cups of luscious Summer fruit went into the bowl.

I returned what was left of the strawberries and the wineberries to the freezer, and got to work on my crisp, snapping pictures, and humming along to the music.

What a lovely morning. And at the end of it, I had a rare Winter treat that I didn’t have before.

I even cleaned up after myself promptly, before the dishes could get crusty with dried oats and sticky juices. That is something that happens somewhat less frequently than it should…

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

New blue kettle

Do you spy my new kettle? When I asked for your tea kettle advice recently, I had not realized it would spark a week of such angst for me. I spent days upon days dithering over such questions as: electric or stovetop? glass or stainless steel? gooseneck or regular spout?

And then I pulled myself together, realized I was not trying to do anything more fancy than boil a damn pot of water, and ordered pretty much the same thing I had before. Which had always done a fine enough job for me.

New blue kettle

I bought a blue one. I consider the main color of my kitchen to be blue with pops of red accents. I’ve aquired so many red things over the years, though, that I think the kitchen was starting to look like it was red with pops of blue accents instead. This kettle is one step toward restoring the balance of color power around here. And it boils water pretty well, too, so there’s that.

Making a Wineberry Crisp

Making a Wineberry Crisp

As it happens, my kitchen inspiration this weekend came at a very good time. My parents were visiting in the afternoon, and I actually had a little something homemade to offer them, instead of my original plan: standing in front of the refrigerator saying “ummmmmmm?” until we all decide we weren’t really hungry anyway.

31_crisp_01_ul

P.S. Just in case you have a stash of summer berries and have also had a sudden urge to bake, here’s my recipe (although I used strawberries instead of peaches this time – it’s very versatile – use what you have!).

P.P.S. The images that caught my eye in the magazine were from The Clever Carrot and it appears that they came from this blog post for buttermilk blueberry muffins.

TWiP: Winter

Posted January 31st, 2015 by

This Week in Pictures

Well, looking at this week’s pictures, it would be hard to deny that it’s winter. Between the snowy days, the icy garden, the knitting, the soup, the cozy warm clothes… yes, definitely winter.

I’m writing this on Friday night (as I often do) and the wind is blowing pretty hard outside. I am not a fan of wind. It’s easier to bear now that our most dangerous trees have already been toppled by previous storms, but I can’t help but feel a little bit nervous. We still have a few small trees that could conceivably land on the cars in the driveway. If you know our history, you will understand why I have trouble shaking thoughts of that possibility, no matter how remote.

I think maybe I’ll just crank up the TV tonight and drown out all of that howling outside.

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

Instagram: Well, good morning, Winter wonderland!

365: 2015 24/365 – A little Saturday afternoon knitting on the bed.

Sunday

Instagram: Note to self: this place is a madhouse on Sunday mornings!

365: 2015 25/365 – Tonight for supper: a cup of alphabet soup in a vintage cup.

Instagram: Spur of the moment coffee date with my teenager ☺

Monday

365: 2015 26/365 – Snowflakes on the front steps.

Tuesday

365: 2015 27/365 – So, not exactly the two feet they were telling us to expect, but at least we got a day off out of it :-)

Wednesday

Instagram: It doesn’t happen often, but some mornings I actually enjoy my workout enough to stay longer and do more. That is its own reward, although it’s even sweeter when I come home to find a bonus reward in my mailbox. Think I’ll enjoy this new Artful Blogging with my coffee ☺

365: 2015 28/365 – Coffee grounds.

Instagram: Cozy time.

Thursday

Instagram: I’m feeling the chill today. I’ve got two shirts, leggings, and wool socks on under this. Layers, FTW! #selfportraitthursday

365: 2015 29/365 – I got a box of the new purple Ball jars, which would be really cool except for how streaky they are! The blue and green ones from previous years look like the glass is actually that color, but these look painted, and poorly-painted at that.

Friday

Instagram: Boy dropped off? Check. Waiting for train to pass on way to gym? Check.

365: 2015 30/365 – Icy.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted January 30th, 2015 by

I’m sitting on my bed to write this, and my laptop battery is about to give out. I’ll have to be brief for this intro today!

Images

The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week on Flickr and Instagram. Click on the titles below the mosaic to get a better look at the images and see more from the photographers who made them.

(Follow me?Flickr | Instagram)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

  1. I finally found one! Ain’t she a beau… by shutterhuff via Instagram
  2. Woke up this morning with a better wa… by carolhartseattle via Instagram
  3. the prettiest margarita you’ll ever s… by designlovefest via Instagram
  4. My release banner is hanging happily!… by mayamade via Instagram
  5. I’m just going to hide behind this qu… by thezenofmaking via Instagram
  6. feeding my soul. #timewithjill #grate… by lesliefriend via Instagram
  7. I’ve been angry and sad for the past … by mariannekarkki via Instagram
  8. An incredible spiral staircase in Fra… by designsponge via Instagram
  9. I picked up my camera and went for a … by jmistur via Instagram
  10. We walked all over Paris today. We bo… by ohhappyday via Instagram
  11. Good morning! by elsielarson via Instagram
  12. untitled by _tarareese via Instagram
  13. Working on my sock yarn scrappy blank… by thishandmadelife via Instagram
  14. Its a cinnamon tea kind of friday mor… by thishandmadelife via Instagram
  15. Cast off one project… Cast on new p… by thishandmadelife via Instagram
  16. Lunching with the brilliant @kirstinm… by xantheb via Instagram
  17. Someone needs to climb up and untangl… by ohhappyday via Instagram
  18. Hot tae and bickies xx by soniamcmahon via Instagram

Links

Here are a few interesting things from around the web that grabbed me this week:

  • Upcycled Dolls get a Makunder – from Tree Change Dolls, via MAKE: Craft. I don’t think I could possibly love this project more than I do. Discarded Bratz dolls (and others of their ilk) are made-under with a newly-painted face and handmade clothes. The results are surprisingly wholesome. It’s worth clicking through the Craft: article to Sonia’s Tumblr blog for more before-and-after pictures.
  • Pajama Pants – a sewing tutorial from Craftsy. A nice pair of cozy lounge pants can feel so decadent, particularly on a Winter night in front of the fire. This tutorial shows you how to fashion a pair out of a thrifted bed sheet. It’s a great way to pamper yourself without spending much.
  • Limit Your Creativity to Push Your Creativity – tips from Brennan Lanter, via Click it up a Notch. She takes some stunning photos from the passenger seat of a car, let me tell you! While this article focuses on limits in photography, the same concept can be applied to any art.

Have a great Friday!

Sewing, take three

Posted January 27th, 2015 by

Remember the red gingham shirt and all of the great advice you gave me? I very much appreciated our conversation about that, and all of the suggestions you had. In the end, though, I decided that I wasn’t feeling experimental enough to implement any of them. (Not now, anyway. I may revisit them!)

I really just wanted a red gingham top with 1/2-inch checks, that would be lightweight and flowy, and that I could wear easily under sweaters.

In the end, I decided to leave the flannel top as-is. It is wearable, even if it doesn’t evoke the feelings I had originally wanted it to evoke. Instead, I decided a trip to the fabric store would solve the problem. My local shop has very lightweight gingham for less than $4/yard!

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any 1/2-inch checks at all. The choices were 1/8, 1/4, and 1 inch. I already have tops in red 1/8″ checks and navy blue 1-inch checks, so it seemed like my best choice would be some other color in the 1/4″ size. I chose black, although I would have definitely gone for orange if they’d had it.

More sewing.

This new shirt falls right back into my comfort zone, with the elbow-length sleeves I’ve done before, and the same lightweight fabric I’ve used in the past. It sits on me just as I’d hoped the original red flannel one would have.

It’s perfect, if you don’t count the fact that it’s the wrong color or the wrong size checks 

More sewing.

I’ve put away the sewing machine now, so unless I happen to stumble upon the perfect lightweight 1/2-inch orange gingham fabric in my travels, consider this itch scratched!

New scarf

By the way, check out my new scarf. Look at the size of this thing! It’s 24″ x 108″, which is a fabulous size. I can wrap it around three times and still have enough left dangling. I love it.

I feel like I’m a little late to the Scarfshop party. I saw so many blog friends buying them a few years ago, but I never managed to buy one myself, until now. They come in so many beautiful colors, that I am a little bit surprised with myself for getting a gray one. If I ever buy another one, though, it’s totally going to be “mint.”

And, oh, now I wish I hadn’t looked at the website, because I see they are on sale. At full price it was easy to say that I wouldn’t buy another one this season, but now? Very very tempting…

A mint scarf would be really cool with an orange gingham top. Uh oh. I feel an online shopping trip coming on! 

TWiP: Repurposed content

Posted January 24th, 2015 by

This Week in Pictures

Some of you have left comments recently telling me that you enjoy this weekly feature. Thank you! Me too 

The beauty of it for me is this: I spend time each week taking these pictures, writing what I am up to, and sharing on social media, which is nice but where does it leave my blog? At its busiest, this blog was the hub for everything I was up to. I miss that, but I don’t really have time to write full-blown posts every day anymore.

The perfect solution seems to be this one. I can repurpose that material I’ve been publishing all week, and keep my blog updated in one fell swoop. I love it!

And it’s great for those weekends when I’m too busy to write introductory blurbs (not the case, incidentally, on this particular weekend – right now I’m sitting on my bed, sipping coffee, listening to music, and looking out the window at the snowy trees).

On those overwhelming days, it’s perfectly acceptable to just say, “I’m so busy! Look at what I did all week:” and leave it at that.

Anyway. All of that to say, I love this feature and I’m glad some of you do too!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365: 2015 17/365 – I spent the day at a very enjoyable family gathering, during which time I probably should have taken my camera out of the bag. But I didn’t. So my daily picture is instead of what I did after the party: pajamas, pretzels, knitting, and an episode of Midsomer Murders.

Sunday

365: 2015 18/365 – Ice storm this morning, complete with warnings from the local OEM to stay off the slippery roads. Personally, I have no problem hanging out at home in my pajamas all morning…

Instagram: It’s an icy Sunday and nobody’s going anywhere… Who wants a sugar cookie?

Monday

365: 2015 19/365 – Well, despite my best efforts not to be moved, that “magic of tidying up” book made me fill up three big garbage bags of my clothes and shoes to be donated yesterday. I can’t remember the last time my closet space was used this efficiently.

Tuesday

Instagram: Hello, Tuesday morning.

Instagram: OK, maybe I didn’t fill the *whole* trunk, but I do think I am sufficiently stocked up for the next little while. 

365: 2015 20/365 – The USPS sort facility in Kearny NJ *finally* spat out a package I’ve been waiting for. That place is like a black hole for First Class Mail sometimes…

Wednesday

Instagram: Adventures in justification: sewing is the least important thing on my to do list, but I *can’t* get out of my gym clothes and do all of the other stuff on the list until my new shirt is ready to wear. Therefore sewing must come first. 

365: 2015 21/365 – One last shirt sewn today. That’s three new ones total for this season. I think it’s out of my system now. Whew.

Instagram: What? Doesn’t everybody take selfies perched on top of a cabinet to get the best light? PS. Finished #sewing my new shirt. PPS. The USPS finally delivered my new Scarfshop scarf yesterday 

Thursday

365: 2015 22/365 + Self Portrait Thursday – This is probably my last new shirt before I put the sewing machine away.

Instagram: Love that blue hour 

Friday

365: 2015 23/365 – You know you have a problem when your paper straw collection requires an organizational scheme.

Instagram: Me: we’re Instagramming! Him: you’re Instagramming, I’m tolerating. #teenagers

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

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