Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Just Couldn't Resist

She is crawling all the time now but almost exclusively on her belly, and, despite my sweeping and mopping efforts, her shirtfront picks up a lot of dirt in the process. So she winds up looking like a little hobo, and that's how I got the idea. I couldn't decide if this was totally inappropriate or what, but barely anyone reads my blog anyway, so who cares!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Greens to Alex: 'Eat me'

Enrique took this neato photo of the swiss chard growing in our yard (the fruits of my mom's labor, not mine). There is a ton of it and I really need to eat some. I've been on a sweets bender lately and it has really gotten out of hand and has to stop. Atleast for a few days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mac-Attack

I am not the only one who's recently made macaroons, and for good reason. They are SO GOOD. And really quick and easy to make, atleast with the recipe I used (thanks to Angry Chicken). I already had all the ingredients on hand--plain shredded coconut, sugar, chocolate chips, eggs (just the whites), vanilla, and salt. I was really happy with the effect of the big milk chocolate chips I used in place of semisweet chocolate chunks. The milk chocolate made for a very Almond Joy-like deliciousness (but way better than Almond Joy). I think next time I'll go even further with the imitation and add almonds and maybe even melt the chocolate over the coconut lumps. And I'm curious to try alternative sweetener versions, like maybe with maple syrup. After tasting the mixture before baking I was worried they'd be too sweet, and they did turn out really sweet, but in a really good way. Like coconut crack. Crack cocainut. After recently making the blandest banana bread ever and just okay shortbread cookies, it felt good to finally have a baking success.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sprouts!

This week I grew alfalfa sprouts from seed. I found the sprouting seeds in the bulk section at a health food store (Central Market, and I've also seen them at Whole Foods) and found sprouting instructions on-line. I used a wide-mouth Mason quart jar and covered the top with a piece of loosely-woven cotton fabric, which I held in place with just the ring part of the 2-piece screw-on lid that came with the jar. On day 1 I put the seeds in the jar (2 tablespoons), covered them completely with water, and soaked them for five hours. Then I drained the water as best I could and put them in a cabinet overnight. The next day the seeds had tiny little white nubs poking out of them. I turned the jar on its side and kept it in the cabinet with little light, only taking it out twice a day to rinse the seeds (I think I accidently only rinsed once one of the days, but they survived). This morning, on day 5, they were pretty much ready. As a final step, I put them on the window sill in indirect light for a couple of hours. Then I ate some on a sandwich, and now they're in the fridge. Overall they were very easy to grow. The trickiest part is draining after you rinse but I managed and they turned out just fine.
Day 1
Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5 (Ready!)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Bunnies

Newish stamp.
I really like how detailed and real-looking it is. Too bad it was made in China. I have really been trying to avoid buying new things made in China or other cheap-factory-labor countries but it is VERY hard. I'll keep working on it though. This second bunny I made from a free Wee Wonderfuls pattern.

He now belongs to the baby and she likes him okay, but really she has a preference for much harder things. Next time I will make one using metal and rocks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where Have You Been?


I love these illustrations. They are pages of an old children's book my dad recently sent me.

My search for more work by this illustrator, Barbara Cooney, led me to a children's book written by Aldous Huxley. Who knew? Not me. But I was intrigued and the cover looked promising, so I purchased it off Ebay for only a few dollars.
This image is from Amazon's website
It should be on its way to my doorstep now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weather Update

The chilly weather has subsided and we're back to warm sunniness and clear skies. A little too warm during the day by my standards, but really nice by dusk. Zoë did a little exploring in Granny's garden today and had her first encounter with kale.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fungi Inspiration

I found this ceramic mushroom yesterday at Eastside Cafe's Pitchforks & Tablespoons and it now lives under our live Christmas tree in a big pot on the front porch.

Inspired by my new acquisition, last night and this morning I sewed this little fun guy.

He is made of soft cotton flannel, including a bit of an old baby blanket, and stuffed with polyester fluff. Here I have him propped by pinecones; he doesn't really stand on his own.

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Paper Cuts



Inspired by Angry Chicken, awhile back I decided to try my hand at paper cutting. I made the bunny one first with the help of a pattern from a paper cutting book. Then I made the second one by just altering the pattern a bit, as you can see. I was planning on using the little chickadees on the cover of Zoë's baby book, but then I had the idea to make a similar one but with a chick on only one side of the heart and a hatched egg on the other, but I still haven't gotten around to making that one (well, there was an attempt, but I won't get into that). Then came an owl for a friend
I ended up framing it with a rectangular frame that I just wasn't quite happy with, and in retrospect I wish I had used an oval frame. I don't know why I didn't think of that at the time, darn.

Dinner for One

I had some lamb to cook from the farmers market so I decided to give this recipe a try. I made a few minor changes and added chickpeas and it turned out pretty good. I give it 3 forks (out of 4). I would make it again, although I'd kick up the spice a bit more (I like spicy).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If Only I Could Crochet (Better)


Then I'd totally make this bikini swimsuit. Isn't it too cute? I love it. It is an old Betsey Johnson design I found in "The Best of Woman's Day Crochet," a book given to me years ago by my Grandmother, and currently for sale on Amazon really cheap if anyone else wants to give it a go. For the time being, I've decided to get more experience on a rag rug, using this tutorial as a guide. Baby steps.

Update (6.13.10): Well, I never made a rag rug and have since found a nice kitchen rug for $1 at a garage sale. I actually did get as far as cutting a bunch of old clothes and sheets into strips and wrapping them up like balls of yarn, but then I looked at all those balls together—mostly whites and bieges with some forest green and maroon thrown in—and realized my rug was going to turn out kind of blah and ugly. Part of me thought that shouldn't matter, as perhaps the making of a rag rug should be done in the spirit of thrifty-ness and recycling, but, in the end, aesthetics (and maybe a little laziness) won out. And then I found the rug at the garage sale, and that was that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finally

After days and days of dark clouds and then...nothing, I'm very happy to report that today we are finally getting some rain, which is much needed around here. And it brought some cool with it, hallelujah!



These seriously wonderful smelling mountain laurels seem to suddenly be in bloom everywhere (including my own front yard, to my surprise).

Another anticipated arrival today was that of my two new sewing books! These came to me on high recommendation from a very inspiring lady. I am so excited to get to work with the help of these books. I've had fabric piling up for years and I'm hoping this is just what I need to really get started making clothing.

I am sew excited. Har har. It is funny how the craft world is so full of word play.


Monday, March 9, 2009

First Post & First Fruit Crumble


Today I made my first fruit crumble. I think it was my first anyway, as far as I can remember. I found the recipe here and made a few modifications, most of them for the purpose of making it a bit more wholesome. It didn't completely knock my socks off, but it was pretty darn good and very simple to make, and made even simpler with a few shortcuts. I would definitely make it again, and I bet with fresh, perfectly ripe, in-season fruit it would be really super delicious (I used what I had on hand, which were fresh Braeburn apples and frozen blackberries that were actually quite tart and really not very tasty by themselves). Here is the recipe, with the changes I made:

Any Season Fruit Crumble
Ingredients:
Fruit filling-
3 cups cored apples chopped into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces (about 3 apples)
3 cups frozen blackberries (thawed to room temp)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Fresh juice of 1/2 lemon
Crumble topping-
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sucanat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Preparation
Prepare the Filling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine and stir the filling ingredients in a glass or ceramic baking container with a 2 1/2-quart capacity (I used a 2.2 quart rectangular dish and it worked fine; I even could've filled it quite a bit more).

Mix the Topping
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sucanat, and salt. Add the butter pieces, stirring to coat them with the flour. Rub the butter pieces and flour between your fingers until coarse crumbs form that are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in size and there is no loose flour. Spread the crumbs evenly over the fruit mixture.

Bake and Serve the Crumble
Bake about 40 minutes until the crumb topping is starting to brown and the apples are tender when tested with a toothpick. Let the crumble cool some before serving.



My tiny funny oven does not have specific temperature settings, so who knows what temperature I really cooked my crumble at, but I just took a guess and kept an eye on it, and after about 35 minutes it was perfectly done. I served it topped with barely sweetened (with maple syrup) fresh whipped cream. Yay, crumble. And yay, first post.