Monday, March 31, 2008

My Kids Eat Soup!

Well, they are eating Chicken Noodle Soup. OK, so they are mostly just eating the noodles, but I'm still thrilled! Normally, they'd give any dish that resembled soup one glance, push it aside and declare "I don't like it!"

My sister-in-law made us some wonderful soups one night for dinner last week, Chicken Noodle and Cheesy Vegetable. My kids ate it! Hoping it wasn't some sort of a fluke, I thought I'd give it another try.

I had most of the ingredients needed for a good soup, but not the noodles. I wanted those nice fat soft noodles that make a good chicken soup even better. Then it occurred to me, I'll just make them!

I didn't use a recipe for the soup, just onion, carrot and celery sautéed until soft. Then some homemade chicken stock and some pulled chicken left over from a baked chicken dinner. I threw in some thyme, salt and pepper and a can of evaporated milk.

But the noodles, I got that recipe from Cook's Illustrated's Best Soups and Stews cook book. This book is great, they have made pretty much any soup every way possible and documented the whole process.

I couldn't believe how easy it was to make noodles, why haven't I done this before?

Fresh Pasta Noodles

2 c All Purpose Flour ( I actually used white whole wheat)
3 large eggs, beaten

"Pulse the flour in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade to evenly distribute and aerate. Add the eggs; process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at at time; if the dough sticks to the side of the workbowl, add flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough forms a rough ball.)" Turn dough on to a dry work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, 1 to 2 min. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 min to 2 hours.

I don't have a pasta machine so I just cut the dough in to 6 pieces and rolled each piece as thin as I could get it with my rolling pin, turning and dusting lightly with flour if it got sticky. Then I cut the dough into strips. I made them the night before, so I stored them in the refrigerator in a container with a tight lid.

Boil them as you would any pasta and add them to the soup right before serving.

They were delicious! I might have to start making my own pasta more often.

Home Again, Home Again...

Here are some pictures of the kids on the ride. We rigged up some lap trays from IKEA so they could have a nice surface to play on. It worked rather well!

Robots and notebooks, the perfect combination.

I'm trying to get us back into the swing of things, getting up, getting dressed, getting out of the house.

I also started on a reversible wrap skirt from a pattern in Craft Magazine. I bought the material while at my mom's and wanted to get started on it right away. The green reminds me of Starry Night by Van Gogh and I love the delicate leaves on the grey.

This has proven to be quite the undertaking. I had to print 49 pages for the pattern, piece them together, tape them and then change the width since it is sized for a 30 inch waist. I don't have a 30 inch waist!

Thoughts of running to a fabric store and buying a different pattern crossed my mind, but I persevered. If all goes well, my efforts will be rewarded with a cute skirt and a pattern that I can use over again.

I'm learning that sewing is the easy part, getting the pattern and the material ready is the hard part!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Craft From The Past

We survived the drive! It actually went pretty well, thanks for all the well wishes. We had a nice Easter with family. The bunnies have been named and are accompanying us every where. I'm glad they like them so much!

I went to a lovely fabric shop with my dear friend Sage and picked up some fat quarters with doll making in mind. But the best find was a felting needle and mat for half price!

But all this talk is about crafts of the future, what I really want to talk about is a craft from my past.

I LOVE working with glass, all the colors and designs just draw me in. I have made large windows, frames, mirrors and light catchers. I've used broken pieces to make mosaic light fixtures. Unfortunately, I haven't kept much of my work.

Here at my mom's house is a piece I made to fit into a round window. It looks out from the bathroom shower onto the porch, kind of an odd place for a window. My mom had wanted to find a way to make it more private but keep the natural light. I took on the challenge and since she loves frogs, designed this for her.

I took my first stained glass class about 12 years ago when I was living in Cannon Beach and then took another class when I moved to Portland at Cline Glass. Then I decided that I needed to invest in my own equipment.

Making stained glass pieces requires a lot of tools and supplies, some of them toxic chemicals. You need to have a work space that is well ventilated because when you solder, there is awful smoke. You also need to have a work space that can tolerate the splinters and shards of glass that end up all over due to cutting, breaking and grinding the glass. Needless to say, this is not a kid friendly hobby. And, it is not recommended if you are pregnant.

So, because of space limitations and having two small children, I haven't worked with glass for quite a few years. I still have all the equipment and boxes of glass in the basement and I dream of being able to take it up again.

Well, the week is almost over and we are going to undertake the long drive home again on Saturday. We will have Sunday to recuperate and then it's back to the grind on Monday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And We're Off!

We are waking up early tomorrow and driving 12+ hours to visit family for the week. We don't have a fancy car with DVD players, or any hand held electronic game contraptions, unless Leap Pads count. We are bringing along all the kids CD's, some books, maybe some coloring supplies and hoping for the best. Oh yeah, and LOTS of snacks!

I will be bringing along some crafty projects to work on, I'm sure I'll have some down time. I'm hoping to post some while I'm there. I'll probably hit Hancock's fabric store with my mom, they always have something good on sale. And maybe I'll get to go thrifting to look for wool sweaters, we'll see.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all an early Happy Easter from us and the girls (our egg laying residents) and hope that you all have a nice Easter weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Meet The Bunnies

I have finished them! It is actually a coincidence that these are going to be for Easter, but the timing will make it more fun. Wren spotted them at the Wee Wonderfuls Store while I was roaming around looking at patterns. I'm pretty sure that he was describing this bunny when he was telling me that he does not like skinny dolls with long arms.

I do have the same sentiments as Roxanne at Craft Addictions though. These are from me, not the Easter Bunny!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yay For Smocks!

This pattern is from MayFly. The link is on the home page, look on the right under the heading MAKE STUFF. I have been searching for a smock pattern for some time now, but haven't had much luck. It was an extra bonus that this pattern was free!

I want to make one in every color! They will be nice in the summer, just throw a pair of shorts underneath. I'm wondering, could I pull off this look as well as Violet does? Probably not!

"you done taking pictures yet, momma?"

"I'm makin' you coffee."

It's reversible. Stripes are nice!

Spice It Up!

I received a nice present of spices from Penzeys Spices for Christmas. Smoked paprika sounded interesting, but I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it. So, it sat in my cupboard for a few months.

I was making Spanish rice one evening for dinner. Looking through my spices for something to add flavor, but not heat, I spotted the smoked paprika. Perfect! It added a nice smokiness along with a good depth of flavor.

I've added it to hummus and used it in a spice rub for chicken. I love it!

Then I remembered chipotle peppers! These aren't anything new, I have used them before in restaurants, I just never thought about using them at home. The next time I made Spanish rice, I chopped up one chipotle pepper, removing most of the seeds, also adding some of the adobo sauce. This added a nice touch of spice with the smoky flavor.

Since we have chipotles in the fridge now, my husband has been putting them on everything, including his turkey sandwiches. He likes it spicy!

Smokin' Spanish Rice

2 T olive oil
1 small onion
1 1/2 c uncooked rice
1 t oregano
1 t smoked paprika or 1 chipotle pepper with 1 T adobo sauce
1 - 10 3/4 oz can of tomato purée
2 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 t salt

Heat a sauce pan over medium heat, add oil and onion and cook until transparent. Add rice, oregano, and paprika or chipotle and cook until rice starts to brown. Now add tomato purée, stock and salt. Bring to a boil, give it a good stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Cover, turn off heat and let rest on hot burner until done.

*If you don't have stock, water will work as well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Favorite Hat

This is not only my favorite hat to wear, but also to knit. I went c-razy at Christmas time and knit about 5 of them for presents. It is the Cabled Newsboy Cap from the Stitch 'n Bitch Nation.

What I love about this hat is that it looks great on everyone! Seriously, me, my mom, my sister-in-law (actually two of them), my daughter. Everyone.

I also love how fun and quick it is to knit. Don't be scared by the cables, these ones are easy. I was once afraid of cables, but I took the plunge and I'm glad I did. I am better visually, so I asked my friend Chrissy if she could give me a quick tutorial and voilà! If you don't have someone to show you, I found a couple of links here, here and even a video here (the model is wearing my favorite hat!).

Some thing you should know before embarking on this pattern, there is a type-o that is not included in the errata for the book. Once again, my friend Chrissy came to the rescue. In the Shape the Top section of the pattern, it should read 'Cont as est, working 1 less st before/after decs and maintaining cable every 4th rnd to 72 sts, ending with a rnd 1'.

I have also used the brim from this pattern and incorporated it onto other hats I have made.

This hat was commissioned by Wren. "I want a fire hat that is red and orange with a brim like yours." This boy knows what he wants!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It was my husband's birthday yesterday. So I made his favorite dessert, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.

I acquired this recipe years ago when I worked at The Bistro in Cannon Beach. It is a fairly easy recipe, there are basically 3 steps.

The crust is chocolate cookie crumbs and butter. You can use a chocolate sandwich cookie (think OREO), or a chocolate wafer. I think you can also find premade cookie crumbs in the store. Use your food processor to make the crumbs and a microwave to melt the butter. Mix them together and press them into the pan. I prefer to use a spring form pan because of how it looks, but also because it makes it easier to cut and plate. If you don't have one, you can use a pie pan. Place it into the freezer to set.

For the filling, you cream together peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar and melted butter. Then you fold in whipped cream. Take a spatula and literally fold the filling from the bottom of the bowl to the top until combined.

Spread filling onto the crust and place back into the freezer while you make the chocolate topping.

This topping is similar to a ganache, using sour cream. I have found it comes together easiest if you melt the chocolate and sour cream together in the bowl. Once I tried adding hot melted chocolate to cold sour cream and the chocolate stiffened up and wouldn't melt again.

Use a microwave, or it can be done in a double boiler on the stove. Once the chocolate has melted and is all stirred together, wait until it has cooled a bit and spread on top of the peanut butter filling and place back into the freezer to set.

After it has set, you can store it in the fridge or freezer. If you do keep it frozen, bring it out about 20 minutes to thaw a bit before you eat it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

2 1/2 c chocolate cookie crumbs
4 oz melted unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese
1 c natural peanut butter, preferably freshly ground
1 c sugar
2 oz melted unsalted butter
1 T vanilla
1 c heavy cream, whipped

7 oz semi sweet or dark chocolate
1 c sour cream

Mix cookie crumbs and melted butter together and press into bottom of pan. Place in freezer to set. Whip cream to soft peaks. In a separate bowl, cream together cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar. Add melted butter and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream. Pour onto crust and spread flat. Place in freezer to set. Place chocolate and sour cream into a bowl and either microwave or place over a pot of hot water to melt. Don't let it get too hot, stir until chocolate is melted. Let cool to room temperature and then spread over the filling. Place back into freezer to set. Enjoy!

Bunnies! One Down, One To Go

Well, almost done! This is the Big Footed Bunny, another great pattern by Hillary Lang over at Wee Wonderfuls. This is the second thing I've made using a pattern written by Hillary. The first being the cute make along dolls. The patterns are very well written and easy to follow. It has been a while since I have sewn and I was able to pick it right up with these thorough instructions.

I think I am actually going to have the bunnies finished for Easter!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring! And Some Craftiness

I couldn't help myself, the blossoms are here!

These yellow flowers are on a small bush in our yard.

These lovely pink ones are across the street.

Here is Wren playing in our soon to be garden box. We really need to get the kids a sandbox!

I had a great time yesterday at the CRAFT magazine release party. Pictures and details can be found here. I'm partially in one of the pictures, the one with the red shirt making pantyhose flowers. I'm sitting next to my friend Lissa who joined me on the outing.

There are so many great projects in this issue. I've been wanting to make bean bags for the kids, and there is this great article on how to make the cutest Japanese juggling toys.

There are also instructions for a nice wrap around skirt, beginner or advanced. This can help me on my way to a funkier wardrobe!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

So, You Like Peanut Sauce?

Then you really should try Almond Butter Sauce.

This is a dish we had for dinner that I adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.

Don't get me wrong, I love peanut sauce. But I really like the rich 'meatiness' that almond butter sauce adds to a dish. We ate it with marinaded tofu and collard greens, served over whole wheat noodles. I would also serve almond butter sauce with brown rice and stir fry vegetables - maybe even throw in some chicken!

Almond Butter Sauce

1/2 c creamy almond butter
4 t maple syrup
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1 T fresh ginger root, grated or minced
1-3 t hot pepper oil (adjust to desired spiciness)
2/3 c water

Put all ingredients into a sauce pan on low heat. Using a whisk, mix ingredients until smooth and warm. Add extra water to thin if necessary. The more you cook it, the thicker it gets, so be careful.

Marinated Tofu

1 lb firm tofu, slice 1/2" thick and then into small rectangles
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1" fresh ginger root sliced 1/8" thick
1 c water
1 T rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
1/3 c soy sauce

Place tofu and marinade in a container with a tight fitting lid into the fridge and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Heat 2 T sesame oil in a skillet and brown tofu on both sides.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bad Hair Day!

Not me, the doll.

I am following instructions from this book I found at Knittn' Kitten.

I totally remember that kitchen witch! I think my mom made one.

It says to "take desired yarn and wrap around the head: stitch here and there to keep from slipping." I think I'm following the directions correctly.

"Cut yarn 12" long. Tack to the center top of head in bunches of 6."

Doing it this way doesn't cover up the hair I wrapped around her head, and I don't think I did that part well enough to have it show!

After a bit of searching, I have found this very visual tutorial. I'm going to start over and try some of these techniques.

The hair will have to wait though, because this weekend I'm starting on some bunnies for the kids for Easter and I'm heading over to the CRAFT magazine release party at Twisted.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Its All About MeMe!

I've been tagged by the über talented Diane who's responsible for CraftyPod and so many other wonderful things. This is called the MeMe, so now I must list 6 things about me and tag 6 more people.

1. I'm a binge crafter. For Christmas it was all about knitting hats, now I'm sewing and I haven't knitted in a couple of months. But I do go back to things.

2. I secretly wish I was from another country, somewhere in Europe like France or the Czech Republic, or Germany, or..... I just have this romantic idea about how much better life would be.

3. I don't mind washing dishes, but I don't like putting them away.

4. I graduated from Western Culinary Institute in '95, worked in the business for a while, co-owned a cafe in Seaside, OR for 3 years. Now I'm at home with the kids.

5. I believe I was supposed to be a redhead.

6. If there is a flat surface at our house, it eventually gets covered with just about anything you can imagine. Is there a cure for this?

Ok, so I'm tagging Dan, Robin, Roxanne, Rodger, Chrissy. Have a great day!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Work in Progress

This doll is from Toys to Sew by Claire Garland. She's quite the long and lanky girl, but I managed to get all of her into a picture!

The pattern seemed easy enough, just a body, arms and legs. But the instructions stopped short of explaining exactly how to attach the appendages to the body and there isn't a picture of the bare doll anywhere in the book. I managed well enough with the arms, but attaching the legs was a different story. I uttered repeatedly "I have no idea what I'm doing!" while trying to wrangle the long legs and attach them to the torso. I think they turned out looking alright. I just hope they hold up to a bit of tugging and flinging around.

Now that I've got her sewn up, I get to give her some personality! Her hair will be the biggest challenge. There are also a lot of fun patterns for doll clothes in this book, some of them using parts from your children's old clothes. Great idea!

I was all ready to make one for each of the kids, but Wren informed me that he only likes dolls with short arms and soft bodies and ones that wear little pants. Now I know!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Easter Workshop 2008 - BUST!

Things aren't going well for me with Martha's Easter Workshop 2008. I couldn't find the cards used for the Easter Egg stationary and I wasn't going to search all over town for them. Then I realized "What am I going to do with Easter stationary anyway?"

Next up were the pom pom chicks. I bought a pom pom maker and we all sat down for a family craft night. No chicks were made. I could have made a better pom pom maker with cardboard than the one I bought. I couldn't find the one featured in Martha's supply list. Actually, I'm having trouble finding any supplies required for these projects!

This is the Lion Brand pom pom maker that shouldn't have been invented.

Violet "trimming" the only pom pom that was made.

Wren "projecting".

What was accomplished though, was a fun evening sitting around the table having good times. Its all about the process, not the final product. Right?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Little Something For Me!

I actually finished something for myself. Not a common occurrence around here. I used my favorite fabric for the accent, a pattern from Kaffe Fassett called Roman Glass.

Now I'm off to the grocery store sporting my new bag. I wish my outfit was as cute! That's my next goal, funktify my wardrobe. That's a tall order and could take years, but its still on my list.