My Commonplace Blog

Bits of info in bytes


Paula Makes

My New Best Friends

We’ve never met. In fact, I just stumbled upon them on the interwebs but still I am very, very sure these gents are my new best friends.

Arne and Carlos have a few knitting videos and some great knitting ideas on their site. I was but a wee thing (well 10 which isn’t really wee but let’s not get technical) when I learned to knit, and since then I’ve pretty much stuck to the basics.

Arne and Carlos from

These find needle-wielding artists do some fine color work. And since my skill set falls far short in this area, I shall be looking to them for advice, instruction, and inspiration.

Tomato Sauce II

Tomato sauce

Winter remains, as expected, here in the Midwest. Mid-day temps mostly in the teens all week. Turning the oven on for a couple of hours to make the Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana seemed an absolutely splendid idea.

Also absolutely splendid is this sauce! I anticipated a flavorful outcome, and using Italian plum tomatoes (rather than plain ol’ supermarket variety) no doubt added to the flavor. Still super rich even after cutting the cream by a quarter.

Now I’m trying to figure out why/if the oven cooking vs. simmering on the stove makes a difference. A good friend with oodles of cooking experience (former food editor for a major magazine) wasn’t convinced method significantly affected outcome in this case. My guess was the sauce perhaps steams rather than simmers. She shrugged – not a big diff.

Need to do a little investigating – and with at least an hour and a half of cooking time, maybe that’s time smartly spent researching.

Plain Plywood Shelf – 23 Years in the Making!

Upper cabinet shelves

Look closely at the top of the cabinets. See the edge of the plywood? That, good people, has taken just shy of 23 years to accomplish! We had the great good fortune to be able to build our house – well, with a builder of course. But it’s our design, and we love it.

Of course there were compromises. One of those was leaving the top of the kitchen cabinets exposed. Not really noticeable and we could finish it later. By we I mean mostly the hubs (he’s a woodworker which is insanely fabulous) – and by later I mean – ta da! – now.

A strip of maple will be added to the front and whole business painted white. The biggest compromise is that the hubs is under the delusion this is his idea. If I point that out I suspect it will be another goodly amount of time before the project is finished. So don’t tell him – I’m won’t!

Countertop 2, People 0

broken tile

Sigh. The new kitchen floor isn’t hard, we made sure of that. Easier on the feet and forgiving when anything falls. I don’t know where our heads were, however, when we chose the countertop: Quartz, a lovely man-made material that’s a mix of stone and resin. Oh so pretty, but as the name clearly states, hard as a rock.

First a coffee mug slipped out of my hand. Not particularly devastating as I’ve got plenty of those, and, truth be told, it wasn’t a favorite.

Today the hubs bumped one of three decorative tiles that have graced the awkward gap over the window for 20+ years. And then there were two.

Time for a new look – Delft tiles, maybe? Or an economical look-alike in case. . . you know.

Tomato (Non)Express

Yes, the slow food, slow cooking thing isn’t new. And I was raised to cook mostly from scratch. Tomato sauce for pasta or pizza or whatever does taste better after simmering on the stove for a goodly while. At the same time, however, taking hours to make a meal just to zen out on the process doesn’t cut it for me. Keeping it real here!

So Ina Garten’s Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana featured on Food52 has me intrigued. Again, nothing new to the world but new to my experience. So I’m all in for trying this. Only I’ll double the recipe because, well, that’s what I do. . .

Image from Food52

Cooking for an Army – Sans an Army

kale(2) spinach

Why do I cook as though the infantry is coming for dinner?! Something in my upbringing gave me the impression it’s a waste of time and effort to not go big when cooking. There’s an efficiency expert hiding in some corner of my brain. This is rinsing kale and spinach by the boatload for Green Soup. Really – this soup is a fabulous thing even if the eponymous label doesn’t create a luscious mental (or actual) picture.

oatmeal cookies

Oh, and I’ve got the same cooking issue with dessert: double batches of Buttermilk Oatmeal Cookies and Chai Spice Sugar Cookies.

And apparently a thing for recipes with blazingly obvious names!

Decisions, Decisions

Good thing I live where winter is always cold enough to need a good scarf.

Next up — the Tunisian Crochet Scarf or the Diagonal Twist Scarf?

Or should I finish one of those other projects already on the needles. . .

Finally Fini

Between all the unplanned things of life and a sprained wrist to boot, it took me a year – a year! – to knit a scarf. Now it is done and it is lovely.

We’ve been together through so much, my fuzzy warm friend, that I’m having a hard time packing you up and mailing you off even if your home is with a good friend.

pattern: Purl Soho
yarn: a soft and lovely merino of unrecalled origin

Skirts, Round 2

two skirts

Two skirts that I loved to wear.
Neither, however, fit very well so they weren’t often worn;
I bought them because I love the fabrics.
Probably just enough fabric in each for a tote bag.
Let the repurposing adventure begin!

Blog at

Up ↑


Old buildings, New tricks

Proof Perfectly

Editing - Copywriting - Advice

Mittened Hands


cate st hill

london-based design and interiors blogger

3 fashionistas sharing our inspiration on style and beauty

Saint Joan (Creative Studio)

An archive for ... my stuff...

rachel eats

stories, pictures and cooking tales from an english woman living in rome.

bread and the machine

wonders of bread machine: baking bread and beyond

Ancient Arts Yarn

Nature | Inspiration | Glorious Colours!

It's a wild and wonderful universe.


We'll keep you warm at night

%d bloggers like this: