Saturday, December 26, 2015

Raclette, Champagne and Family

When Vlad and I visited my French family in the Champagne region of France this fall, we left with a giant bottle of it - a magnum, to take home and drink with the boys.  The bottle sat on the credenza for the two-month-wait and finally, Christmas Eve was the appointed time to crack open the bottle.

Patrick, my cousin, works a few weeks every year at a local Champagne winery and takes home cases of it in payment for his work.

Now,  a magnum is equivalent to two regular bottles.  It's a hefty thing and one must take care when pouring it into the delicate champagne flutes.

One could even say that a two-handed approach is recommended.  So Vlad poured and poured and we drank and drank.  We decided to take the remaining Champagne to the dinner table to have with our Christmas Eve raclette.  Raclette is a type of nutty, deliciously-flavoured melting cheese that you melt by inserting into little Teflon pans over the heating element in a raclette pan. Atop of the cheese-melting compartment is a Teflon grill upon which one can cook an assortment of blanched vegetables and marinated meats.  I'm sure that marinated tofu could be grilled as well as an assortment of seafood.


Our two boys all grown up.  We had the best Christmas Eve just hanging out and talking and looking at old pictures.

Tristan is back from Chicago for 5 months until his residency starts.  It's a blessing to have this last opportunity to be with him before he goes off to start his life in a faraway place.

In the meantime, I love having him home, as do his Dad and brother.

I wish all of you the warmest, cuddliest, joyful holidays.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Knittin' and a Bakin'

To say I've been busy is an understatement.  My boy is home from Chicago and will be with us until we drive back there with him to settle him into a new apartment and a new job.  He begins his residency on July 1st.

Christmas for French Canadians means tourtière and sugar pie.  I made sugar tartlettes with Ricardo's recipe and they are delicious.  I've written about my Mom's recipe for tourtière here.

Since my return from France, I've been bitten with the knitting bug... or is it the snow and below zero temperatures?  Anyhow, the project at the top is Jo Sharp's Shrug knit in Kidsilk Aura which is mohair and silk , after that, Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Alexandra's Airplane Scarf made with Kidsilk Haze which will take eons to knit.  I talked about it in my previous post and have gotten about 30% of it knitted. The last project is a pair of Toe up socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and my first pair knit entirely by myself.  This pattern makes you knit a tube and later, when removing the provisional yarn you so cleverly placed previously, you make the heel... I'm going to knit the two tubes and deal with the two heels afterwards.

A housefull of men, a window seat full of yarn, countless books on my tablet, I am ready to take on winter.  Bring it on!

xo Stella

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cold Weather Comforts

Since it's December, I can play Christmas music just like  My Mom used to do. We would grin and bear it but now I understand why she did it.  It's so uplifting.

I am counting my blessings as I got a last minute contract that brought it a little cash just before Christmas, my big boy is coming home and I am not working for the next month.  Today, it's gray and mild outside with just a little snow but I don't mind.  I'm inside doing housecleaning and knitting in rotation and enjoying my time alone before Vlad and Damien get back from work.

I'm knitting Churchmouse Yarn and Teas's interminable "Alexandra's Airplane Scarf".  It's just knit, knit, knit on circular needles with the finest Kidsilk Haze yarn.  BUT, I am doing the beaded version by inserting six beads every thirteenth row.
Where do the beads come from you ask?  Even if you didn't ask, I am going to tell you because there's a good story behind it.
This summer in Provence, while visiting with my friend Nelly, I asked her about the scrap of fabric with beads dangling from it that she'd offered to give me the previous year.  I must have been hit by lightning back then because I said no, that I wouldn't know what to do with it.

Turns out, it's a fabric segment from a 1920s FLAPPER DRESS!  After thinking about it for a year, I hoped and prayed that it was still available.  When I asked, Nelly just plucked it from a corner in her vast repository of antiques and said: "Here you go, I was keeping it for you!"

I have since started a board on Pinterest called Wearable Art where I dribble and drool over clothes that were made in a time when many gifted needleworkers made a life making beautiful clothes for other people.  Granted, these people can still be found today at Dior and Chanel...

Speaking of Dior, yesterday on Netflix I viewed a very interesting documentary called Dior and I, on the preparation of a "season" by the then new designer at Dior.  Raf Simons has since left the house and gone on to greener pastures but I must say that I loved watching the talent behind the famous couture name.  The buzzing back room "atelier" reunites a cast of very, very talented people who are given the task of making what the designer has in his mind...

On the same note, I also watched Iris a number of weeks ago.  It's a documentary about nonagenarian Iris Apfel who, despite her age, dresses to kill and is the most ardent connoisseur and flaunteur of accessories you could ever meet.

Two inspiring movies that make you want to engage your creativity and MAKE something.  I think making things is an integral part of our humanity and if we don't make something, a pie, a scarf, a dress, a tutor, a bench, a steam engine, a garden, a balloon animal or a pretty room, there's a big hole in your chest cavity that hurts until you can feast your eyes on the thing you made that delights you and others too.