Tag Archives: k.t. blue

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Jell-o


what mrs dewey did with the new jell-o

what mrs dewey did with the new jell-o

it’s that time again, ladies and gentlemen! time for Deedles’ holiday jell-o salad recipe!

i don’t know about your grandmothers, but my grandmother deedles loved jell-o. jell-o molds, jell-o parfaits, jell-o with just a dollop of mayonnaise on the top…jell-o was something yummy and sophisticated and worthy of purchasing several differently sized and shaped plastic jell-o molds for various occasions. as such, i love jell-o, too. perhaps not with the mayonnaise, but i do love it – especially around the holidays when i get to make her raspberry pretzel jell-o extravaganza. curious? here’s the recipe..(trust me..it’s divine!)

RASPBERRY PRETZEL SALAD

Bottom layer:

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 Tbs. powdered sugar

Mix butter and sugar together. Stir in pretzels. Pat out into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool (very important to let this cool completely – keeps the crust nice and crusty…) and set aside.

Middle Layer:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. cool whip, thawed
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the sugar. Gently stir in the cool whip. Spread over the cooled pretzel layer.

Top Layer:

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 large pkg. raspberry Jello
  • 16-20 oz. frozen raspberries

Stir Jello and water together until dissolved. Add frozen raspberries. Stir until the raspberries are separated and soft. Pour gently onto the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Deedles never served this as a dessert – rather she served it as an additional salad during dinner. yummy and nostalgic. What a combination!

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A Tale of Grief and Gratitude


“learn to dance in the rain”
copyright k.t. blue designs 2012

(This post originally appeared in the Walnut Creek Patch. It’s as relevant today as it was then, so I have reposted it….I hope you know how much I continue to benefit from your love and support and kindness. All my love to you all…)

Exactly two years ago, my husband and two sons and I were landing in the Newark airport to visit my husband’s family for the Thanksgiving holidays. As any parent knows, a cross-country flight with children can have its obstacles. We were duly armed to the teeth with Wimpy Kid books, Chex mix, and fully-charged iPhones. Once there, we enjoyed a beautiful time – taking the boys to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, peeking out over New York City from the top of the Empire State Building, visiting my own personal Mecca, the New York Public Library. Bundled in our scarves and winter coats, we soaked up all that our family had to offer and flew home, a bit tired and a lot grateful.

In the weeks following that trip, the meaning of the word “grateful” would take on an entirely new meaning, with my husband’s diagnosis of testicular cancer.  What began as a rather mundane doctor’s appointment, ended with a phone call that would change our lives forever. Suddenly, we were thrust into a new vocabulary in which words like treatment and prognosis found their way into our daily life. It was scary and humbling and ultimately began a new chapter in both of our lives. Doctors told us, “if you’re going to get a kind of cancer, this is the kind to have”, based on the success of various types of treatment and remission rates. We took that small nugget of optimism and ran with it, putting on our armor of humor and positive thinking as a means of steeling ourselves against a mysteriously ominous foe.

My husband, God bless him, took this opportunity to develop an arsenal of jokes – he was “having a ball”…he was “one tough nut”…he was even “a sad sack.” And the jokes helped. We held on to one another and laughed and cried and moved forward in the best way we knew how. Through surgery, through radiation and towards whatever lay on the other side.

To say I fell in love with my husband all over again during his radiation sounds quite unbelievable and yet that’s exactly what I did. To watch my tall, handsome partner come home each day during his three week treatment with a tired smile on his face was devastating and reassuring all at the same time. There were nights when he couldn’t unbutton his own shirt. There were nights when he seemed right as rain and we talked over hot slices of Extreme Pizza and everything seemed safe in the world. And the juxtaposition of those two realities became our new normal. To say we were changed by this would be the understatement of the century.

The news of the diagnosis, the surgery, the doctors, the radiation and the “we’ll see you in six months” forever altered our mindset and our vision of life. We became grateful of new things – pieces of our relationship that, perhaps, we had never even noticed before. We pulled our sons to us closer, we saw our friendships with new eyes and we became thankful in a way that seemed more true and authentic.

And then, two weeks after my husband finished his last radiation treatment, my father unexpectedly passed away. One moment I was at my son’s Little League game and the next I was driving down Interstate 580 towards my hometown and my mother, suddenly a widow and I, suddenly fatherless. With this loss, came a sharp, new sadness – one that held no optimism for future good news, leaving just a wake of seemingly unending sadness.  The first few weeks were a  whirlwind of phone calls, documents, flowers, casseroles, sleeping pills and the keen awareness that I had to keep up appearances for my two children.

Seven months later, I still find it nearly impossible to wrap my head around these two experiences. It is hard work, this grief, and it continues through many iterations. There are days in which I laugh and find small moments of, dare I say, carefree joy. And there are others, like on Halloween, when I paused at the front door of my house on the way to a costume party, and couldn’t stop crying for two days. It is a journey of introspection and of finding strength that you weren’t quite sure you had before all of this happened. While the circumstances of these two events of the last year are different — and the way in which I have found myself facing them uses two seemingly disparate skill sets — with both, I am struck by the sheer power of the families in my community who have collectively risen to the occasion and created an almost improbable support network within moments.

I have, over the last several years, been on the baking end of, what I like to call, the “casserole hotline.” I have cooked chicken potpies and enchiladas and sweet potato soup for families in our neighborhood and within our group of friends who have suffered a loss, an illness, an unexpected tragedy. While I understood that this was a nice thing to do, I never understood the importance of this small gesture until I was on the receiving end of it. For weeks following my husband’s diagnosis and my father’s death, the doorbell would ring and another dear friend of mine would come in, bearing a warm plate of cookies, a Tupperware filled with tortilla soup, a delicious bottle of wine.  In feeding my family, these amazing individuals kept us afloat and carried us along with each new dish and bowl. I will never be able to truly express just how thankful I am for this and for every kindness afforded my family in the last year. We are blessed beyond belief. We have known great friendships in our lives, but never before have we felt so acutely the power of community. It is here that I find a new sense of gratitude.

In the past, Thanksgiving had offered a small moment in which to find things for which to be grateful – some deep and self-defining, others fleeting and simple as the fall of a leaf, the sound of my children’s laughter, the joy of losing a few pounds. And yet, with the rug quite literally pulled out from under me, I’ve been able to see the things and people in my life for which I am most grateful. I am grateful that I can wake up in the morning, feel the loss of my father and the uncertainty of my husband’s health, and yet still find it within myself to make myself a pot of hot coffee. That I can touch the heads of my sleeping children in the morning as a first call to wake up and get ready for school. That I hear the first small steps of happiness re-enter my mother’s voice as she navigates this strange new world into which she has been thrust. I am grateful for the people in my life who know the full depth and details of my experience and yet still find it within themselves to embrace me both literally and figuratively, no questions asked. I am grateful for old friends and new ones, brought to me at a time when I needed them most. They say that when God closes a door he opens a window, and I have felt that window open with great abandon and watched it allow so much goodness into my family’s life.

I have known great grief and I have been blessed to be part of this outpouring of support. When it is my turn again to turn on my oven and put all of my love into a casserole dish, I will do so with a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for the bonds that we create among one another.  There is beauty in these bonds. We are never more beautiful than the days when we give of ourselves and link arms in protection around another one of us — creating, perhaps, one small warm and safe place in the world.

Originally published in the Walnut Creek Patch: http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/gratitude-154f858f

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I’m a Finalist!


Thanks to all of the wonderful people who nominated me this year, k.t. blue designs Museum Masters is an official finalist in the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards for 2012! Voting is now open for this amazing award! And I’d love love love your votes!

To vote, just visit this page, enter San Francisco as your city, and vote for me! Voting ends November 30th…

I will be so grateful and humbled and honored and thrilled with your votes! As will all of my students who are just the most awesome students in the entire world.
As an added incentive, just let me know you’ve voted, either by e-mail at katie@ktblue.com or by commenting below and you’ll be entered to win a 8×11 matted print of any k.t. blue designs piece you want! I mean, really? How can you lose!

Again, thank you so much for your support….All my love to you all!

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a few of my favorite things…


Seeing as it’s my favorite time of year, and I’m one of those people who secretly listens to Christmas carols starting in September, it’s probably time to share a few of my favorite things from this season.

Here’s my top 10 list of traditions that connect me and my family to the season.

Please share any of your favorite holiday things with me. I’m always thrilled to discover new and wonderful treasures.

German Pickle Ornaments: Growing up, we always had the pickle ornament. Admittedly, we didn’t follow the German tradition that holds that whoever finds the pickle gets an extra present. Trust me, I would have won every year. I still love it when I open that little box every year and unwrap the pickle from its tissue slumber. You just have to love a glass pickle ornament. There are no two ways about it.

pickle ornament

 

Giving little gifties to the neighbors: For the last few years, I’ve made cookies for each of the neighbors. It seemed to be a great idea in the beginning–as I began looking through my cookbooks and Sunset magazines for the best and most wonderful cookie concoctions this side of the Mississippi. And when I began making the cookies and the house smelled wonderful and I felt homey and domestic, it was just all fantastic.  And then, hours later, when I was covered in flour and the spritz cookies looked like lumps of playdough and I still had nine dozen cookies left to make, well, let’s just say the holiday spirit seemed to wane. So last year, I cheated big time and opted for M&Ms and candy cane Hershey’s Kisses in cute little boxes. Cheating never tasted so good!

Jackie Gleason’s Christmas Album: What many people don’t know about this particular Honeymooner is that he was a renowned band leader and composer. This album is, for me, the sound of Christmas. It is the album my parents would put on as we opened presents every year. It’s soulful, jazzy, retro and perfect for a little nip of brandy by the fire.

jackie gleason christmas album


Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas: They used to show this on TV every year, and it’s just the sweetest thing in the world. Honestly, who could resist a show that has a song with these lyrics:
So, get the frown off your face
We’re gonna replace it with a grin and a dream come true
With a perty girl dancin’ to jug-band music
And a mess of mama’s barbecue.
They sell this on DVD and VHS at Target sometimes, so please look for it. It’s one of those rare treasures.

emmet otter's jug band christmas

 

Handmade presents from your little ones: So far, my sons have given me tree ornaments made out of:
–A wooden spoon, the little kind that used to come with the containers of ice cream you’d get at elementary school parties in the ’70s;
–A white clay snowman that looked beautiful and was then “deconstructed” by my abstract modernist 5-year-old;
–A pine cone sculpture that puts Rodin to shame;
–A glittery snowflake tree topper.
But my favorite must be the handprint wreath wall-hanging. I mean, really? How cute could this possibly be?

 

Barefoot Contessa French Chocolate Bark: I’m a bit of a sucker for Ina Garten, so when I saw this holiday recipe, I couldn’t resist trying it. It’s unbelievably amazing and makes a beautiful treat to share with friends and neighbors.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 24 pieces
Ingredients:
9 1/2 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Directions: Melt the two chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9-by-10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.
Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for two hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1-by-3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature. 2007, Ina Garten, All rights reserved.

Barefoot Contessa French Chocolate Bark


German Pyramids: My mama has a beautiful collection of authentic German figurines, music boxes and pyramids. My favorite of all time is a large wooden Advent pyramid. You light the candles and the heat from the flame makes the propeller blades turn, which then makes the little figures around the bottom spin in a procession. It has four little doors that you open each Sunday of Advent. On my mama’s dining room table, I thought it was the most magical thing in the world. Still do.

german advent pyramid

 

Tom & Jerry’s: My grandma Deedles had a beautiful white Tom & Jerry bowl with little mugs to match. I prefer Tom & Jerry’s to eggnog any day of the week. The drink is sweet and warm and totally yummy. This recipe does call for uncooked eggs, which, for some of you, might be a deal-breaker. I totally understand. But for those willing to give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. 
Here’s Deedles’ recipe: 

2 eggs (I know, I know, but just bear with me)
1/3 cup sugar (superfine is best)
3 drops vanilla extract
Pinch of baking soda
2 tablespoons of your favorite whiskey or 1/2 rum and 1/2 brandy–for each serving
Scalded milk
Nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
Directions: Beat the whites and yolks of the two eggs separately until very light. Add 1/3 cup sugar to egg whites, continuing to beat until fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks to whites of eggs. Add three drops of vanilla and a pinch of baking soda, continuing to beat well. Put desired liquor into each mug and fill with scalded milk. Stir and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serves 8.

tom and jerry's

Dropping gift hints: Do you remember when they used to give away prizes in which you went to a store and grabbed as much stuff as you could in like five minutes? Picture desperate ladies zooming down the aisles and throwing things into their shopping cart willy-nilly. If someone would like to give me that for Anthropologie, I’d be forever grateful. Just saying.

Last, but certainly not least, See’s Scotchmallow candies: Although I’m hard-pressed to discover a See’s candy I’m not in love with, I must say, over the years–and over many, many taste tests–Scotchmallow has my vote. Honey marshmallow, caramel and chocolate. My Grandma Deedles loved them–as well as Bordeaux and apricot bon bons–and I love them, too. Have a box for me. Or send me one. I’ve been very good this year

scotchmallow

 

Originally published December 2010 Walnut Creek Patch

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Today we visited the Tate Modern


the tate modern

Today we jetted off to Jolly Old England for a little visit to the Tate Modern! We learned all about this amazing museum (the most visited modern art museum in the world!), its former life as a power station, and we took a brief tour through London – eyeing the most famous landmarks of that lovely city. (I was so impressed by just how many fun facts about London the children knew. We talked all about “beautiful” Kate Middleton and her “handsome prince”, not to mention “Big Ben” who, according to one student, is named after Benjamin Franklin who used that clock to tell the time.) We listened to God Save the Queen (no, not Sid Vicious, although that would have been kinda rad) and I even snuck some Pogues in there with “London, You’re a Lady”…

During our visit to the Tate Modern, we learned about one of its more unique artists, Michael Landy. Perhaps best known for his performance art piece Break Down in which he destroyed all 7,227 of his possessions on an assembly line (“even the food in his refrigerator?” asked one inquisitive student), Landy also created a piece entitled Semi-Detached in which he recreated his father’s house down to the last detail. This carbon copy of the house can be visited in a large wing of the Tate, and was our inspiration for the day.

semi-detached...michael landy

Today’s art project was to create a house in the spirit of Michael Landy, but on a smaller scale. Each child was given a little box which, when folded out, looks like a little abode with a large bay window.

The children were instructed to place a person or thing inside the house, which could be seen through the window. The children then were given free rein to decorate the houses inside and out as they chose. One child did a small replica of her own home, while another decided to create a factory (a brilliant idea which made me think of Dickens….). Here’s one of my student’s creations with a little man with a monocle looking out the window…

Then, the piece de resistance! We put little battery-operated votives into each house and they became (drum roll, please) night lights for the children’s rooms! Such fun – and such a great way to channel our inner Landy (without destroying all of our refrigerated treats!) Here’s mine, which is now proudly displayed in my room…

A few fun facts about the Tate Modern…

  • The Tate Modern is a museum located in London, England
  • The Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and is the most visited modern art gallery in the world
  • The Tate Modern has around 4.7 million visitors per year
  • Located in an old power station, the Tate Modern is just one of a series of Tate galleries, including the Tate Britain, the Liverpool, Tate St. Ives and Tate Online
  • Some of the most famous artists with works in the Tate Modern include Rothko, Matisse, Picasso, Lichtenstein and Warhol
  • Our featured artist today is Michael Landy, an English artist best known for his performance piece installation Break Down in which he destroyed all 7,227 of his possessions on an assembly line
  • Another of Landy’s most beloved pieces is Semi-Detached in which he re-created a copy of the house where his dad lives – down to the minutest detail (including the flaking paint!)

And here are a few fun things you can do at home!

  • The Tate web site has one of the most amazing children’s sections I’ve ever seen – it’s fun, interactive, informative and utterly amazing (and the inspiration for today’s project!) Seriously, it’s brilliant. Check it out for yourself at http://kids.tate.org.uk/
  • Why stop at a house? Visit your local grocery store to pick up some cardboard fruit boxes and create a car to go along with your dream house!
  • The Tate web site also has a wonderful online store that features one of my favorite all-time items – a game called Tate Art Collector in which players collect various pieces of art from the Tate Collection. Have fun as a family while simultaneously learning about art!

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holy guacamole – i’m a finalist!


just got word today that i am officially a finalist in the Red Tricycle Awesome Awards for my Museum Masters art appreciation classes! words can’t describe how utterly excited, humbled and overjoyed i am!

so, now’s the fun part. voting runs from now until october 14th, so i call on you all to vote vote vote! i, and my beloved students, will be so eternally grateful!

click here to vote!

again, a million thanks and paint-stained hugs to you all…

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today we went to the louvre


What a wonderful way to kick-off the new session of my Museum Masters art appreciation classes! Such an amazing group of children – and what great listeners and amazing artists.

This session’s classes are a little different from one’s I’ve done in the past. Instead of just focusing on one artist each week, we’ll actually be “visiting” one famous museum each week! Each child is given a passport to enter the country – and we’ll stamp their passports each week to prove they’ve been there and to ensure they can enter the next country we’ll visit. Today we took a quick trip to the Louvre – we learned all about the history of the world’s most famous museum, discovered all about Paris, listened to French music (ooh la la!) and learned a few key words of French.  (We now know how to say “That painting is beautiful” – which’ll come in handy when they actually visit the Louvre someday…) We paid specific attention to the Louvre’s most famous inhabitant (the Mona Lisa) and each child created their own portrait in that style.

A few fun facts about the Louvre…

  • The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and the most visited art museum in the world!
  • The Louvre is a major landmark in Paris and is located on the Right Bank of the Seine.
  • Within the Louvre, nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century make their home.
  • The Louvre’s exhibition area spans more than 652,300 square feet.
  • The correct pronunciation of the Louvre is “loov-ruh”
  • The first Louvre was a fortress built at the beginning of the 13th century to defend the Seine below Paris against the Normans and English. From then on it was used as a royal palace for a variety of French Kings and Queens. In Napolean’s time, the Louvre was used for offices and a museum.
  • In 1984, a Chinese-American architect named Ieoh Ming Pei designed and created a huge glass pyramid to serve as the main entrance to the Louvre. No one really liked it to begin with, but today it is seen as one of the most famous and well-liked landmarks in all of Paris.
  • The Louvre attracts millions of visitors every year from all over the world. Its most famous pieces include the Mona Lisa, the statue of Winged Victory and Venus de Milo.

And here are a few fun things you can do at home!

  • We read a great book in class today called Louvre Up Close which gives a wonderful opportunity to take a closer look at some of the most famous works within the Louvre. Look for it in your local library or bookstore!

 

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