Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

Thank you for all of your inspiration and encouragement.

I wish you all the joy, peace, and love of Christmas. I'll be back after Christmas break with my family. Beth

Copyright Beth Curtin, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fresh Pear Tart

This is one of our favorite dessert recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. It is rich, but has a mild taste and it is not too sweet.

I usually arrange the pears in a fan as instructed in the recipe. My daughter, who studied pastry in France, pressed down horizontally sliced pear halves in a way which made the tart look like it came from a patisserie.

Fresh Pear Tart

1 unbaked 10 inch pie shell


6 T. unbleached white flour
1/2 t. nutmeg (we use cinnamon)
12 ounces of butter!
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 t. pure vanilla or almond extract

3 medium pears, peeled

Sift together the flour and nutmeg. Melt the butter. Remove it from the heat and add the sugar. Whisk in the flour-nutmeg mixture. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, then the extract. At this point the custard should be thick and smooth.

Cut the pears into eighths, lengthwise. Core the slices and arrange them in the pie shell. Cover with the custard. Bake at 350 f. for 45-50 minutes until the custard is firm and golden.

Beautiful and delicious!

Colorful Knitted Vest

I knitted this vest for my mother a few years ago. The graphic design is based on a children's folkloric sweater called Joyous Colors I saw in "Small Sweaters", a Norwegian knit design book by Lise Kostad and Tone Takle. I changed some of the colors a bit and made my own shaping. I'm thinking of making myself a sweater using this happy color combination. It brightens up this shortest, darkest day of the year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Wellness Tree

Sweet Nicole of Gardenmama has started a blog for Kelly, a young mother who has been stricken with cancer. She has invited her readers to send in ornaments to decorate the Wellness Tree. I sent in this little running horse made of raffia.

For directions on how to make a horse, click on the title of this post. The link will take you to a tutorial on how to make a horse out of daylily fronds. You can use any dry natural material. Raffia is available at craft stores, but you can gather dry grasses, too. Raffia is very supple and can be used right away. Wild dry materials may need to be soaked in water to be made pliable. Don't use green materials, they shrink as they dry, and your horse will fall apart. In the daylily tutorial I used daylily fronds to fasten the horse together. For this ornament I used red thread for a festive touch.

Nicole asked us to send some words of encouragement with our ornaments.

I wrote, "I made this little running horse to delight your baby and bring you good!"

Kelly wrote, "Oh, Beth--how could you have known?! My son, Ari, is in love with horses. We live in Kentucky and we've taken him to the horse park and race track (to watch the jockeys riding in the morning) because he just loves them. He will be so delighted."


Monday, December 14, 2009

Make a Paper Ornament

My child and I made these together. Prepare some small squares of recycled paper glued back to back. You could use a retired calendar, magazine photos, or last year's Christmas cards. We used a butterfly calendar. These squares measure about 3 inches across.

When the glue is dry, crease on the diagonal in each direction.

Cut into the center on each crease, but not all the way, or your pinwheel will fall apart.

Bend the left corner of each triangle into the middle, making the points overlap. Sew the layers together with a needle and thread.

Glue a handle to the back of your pinwheel. We used a piece of skewer. A toothpick or twig would also work nicely.

When the glue is dry, tie thread to the top of the handle and hang your new ornament on the tree!

How to Make a Pine Cone Swag

I love bringing evergreens into the house this time of year. But this gray and brown pine cone swag is also beautiful in its own way, and can be used again and again in years to come.

I collected pine cones in a nearby park while my son was busy climbing trees.

Some were fresh brown pine cones from this year, and some were weathered and gray. I liked the mixture.

The pine cones opened up inside the warm house and shed their seeds. You could speed this up by placing the pine cones in the furnace room, or some other extra-warm spot.

You need wire cutters and some fine gauge wire for this project. I used fine copper gauge wire I had on hand.

Cut a very long piece of wire. My piece was about 12 feet long. Bend in half, forming a loop.

Wrap the loop around the end pine cone, and twist the pine cone a few times to lock it in place.

If you want, you can graduate the sizes of the pine cones, from small on the ends, to large in the middle. I was working with my son, however, and we weren't picky. I love how it looks.

Every time you put add a pine cone to the wire, give the pine cone a few twists, making sure you aren't unwinding the other pine cones.

Leave a little space between the pine cones so that your swag will drape, and not be too stiff. If you run out of wire, just add more.

We hung our swag on the fireplace screen, but it would look nice hanging from the mantel, or over a door, including the front door if you have an overhang.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Make a Tiny Angel Ornament

After making a special Christmas decoration with pine cones, (directions are coming soon,) I wanted to use the pretty pine cone seeds which I had. They looked to me like tiny angel wings, so I decided to make little angels. The pine cone seeds are very fragile, though. Maple seed wings would be a sturdier option, (scale your angel up,) or tiny pieces of feather, or little bits of fabric or paper.

I used tissue paper, thread, scissors, craft glue, a pencil, and a tiny sequin from my shiny stuff collection.

Make a circle is about 1 and a half inches across. I traced the bottom of the craft glue.

Put a little tiny ball of tissue paper about the size of a ladybug in the middle of the circle, for the angel's head, and tie a long piece of thread around the neck.

The thread is long so that you can use it to hang your ornament.

With the knot behind the head, gently make tiny twists in the paper for hands.

Pick out some pine seeds or other wing materials which are about the same length. I also decided to put my angel in an acorn cap.

Now glue on the wings behind the angel, the halo behind the head, and everything into the acorn cap. Or leave the angel out of the cap.

I like the way the yellow angel the best. I shaped her dress better.

Now hang on the tree! These would look extra special on a miniature tree.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Gnome Hat

I made this felted sweater gnome hat for a little baby friend. It is decorated with felt from Magic Cabin, a black glass bead for the bird's eye, and some ribbon. It is lined with soft cotton flannel.

He loves his gnome hat. He visited me for lunch for about an hour and a half the other day, and kept his hat and coat on the whole time. I don't think he wanted to leave. He was just plain comfortable.

For my tutorial on how to make a gnome hat, scroll down the right side of the blog to see the link. Have fun making your little children into gnomes and keeping them super warm and cozy this winter! There is also a link for a story called A Gnome's Day under Beth's Stories.

Handpainted Yarns

I dye yarns using cake icing dyes and Easter egg dyes. Since the dyes are food grade, I can do it in my kitchen using my pots and pans, and my little child can get involved.

I was thinking about having a tutorial, but my methods are so improvisational, I haven't decided how I would do that! Maybe some day.

This skein is about 16 feet long. I used store-bought superwash merino wool.

This is another huge skein of superwash.

This is a sock gauge superwash merino which my young child dyed. He did a beautiful job.

These next three are corriedale, some of my first handspuns.

The next two yarns are my handspun merino.

Now for a happy jumble of color!

Felted Sweater Pocketbook

Here's my friend with the birthday pocketbook I made her! She wears beautiful autumn colors with her gorgeous red hair, so I chose to decorate this recycled sweater pocketbook with an felt acorn and oak leaf. This pocketbook used almost an entire felted pullover sweater. I sewed on some vintage buttons from my collection, and some ribbon on the handles to keep them from being too stretchy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teeny Wee Patchy Doll

This is Teeny Wee. She has been shipped to a home faraway, where she is going to wait for a little baby to be born. Teeny Wee is one of my patchy dolls. She was fun to make because I love to mix color and pattern.

Bye, Teeny Wee!