Friday, May 30, 2008

The Skirts That Never Will Be...

I got very excited about sewing Violet a slew of skirts after my friend Nicki sent me this easy skirt tutorial. I pulled out some material that I had lovingly picked out at the fabric store with my little girl in mind. She adores kitty cats, and these kitty cats are adorable!

I love how care free and fun this fabric is with the little kids playing, and there is a kitty. Not to mention, it's the perfect color.

Well, Violet will have nothing to do with them. I really tried. "But look, kitties!"


The only material she would agree to was the combination that she had picked out when I made her a Wee Wonderful doll. When I presented her with the finished skirt, she seemed astounded "Look mama, it's the same as little Violet!"

I will just have to put the other material back in the drawer and try again next year. Luckily we have been given an enormous amount of hand-me-downs that should last us through summer and then some.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Night Already?

We had a great long weekend together.

The kids helped shovel dirt out of the truck for the garden box.

Wren personalized his party invitations and drew silly monsters on every one, front and back! He told a story about each one as he drew. I really enjoyed listening to his little mind go! These are a few of my favorites.

Wren spent much of his time playing in styrofoam inside the enormous box that our gas grill came in.

Here is a shot from the top to give you an idea how big this box is. Wren has always enjoyed playing in boxes. Violet will get in and play for a bit, but its not really her cup of tea. This box is going to be transformed into a bean bag toss for his birthday party.

The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning and tidying; talking and relaxing. We did have a BBQ on Monday, of course.

Wren's birthday is in less than two weeks and I've still got quite a bit of sewing and things to do. That's what I will be doing with all my extra time for now. I've got quite a few things on the back burner that I'm eager to get to, but must finish making silly monsters! AH!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

La la la la Lemon

I have been craving lemony things lately. So when I saw a recipe for Creamy Lemon Squares in this months issue of EveryDay Food, I was all over it.

I love lemon squares, but I can be pretty critical about them. Too sweet? Not lemony enough? Crust too soggy or too hard?

Not only was this recipe simple, they were delicious. The crust was wonderful, a perfect texture and so tasty that it could stand up on its own. The filling calls for sweetened condensed milk (hence the name creamy lemon squares) and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Perfectly rich and lemony.

Creamy Lemon Squares

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 t salt
1 c all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom of 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (I did this, but will try w/o next time).

Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2" up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15-20 min.

Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust; return to oven and bake until filling is set, 25-30 min. Cool completely in pan. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Cut into 16 squares and dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Waiting Until The Last Minute!

There is a birthday party for a couple of Wren's school friends tomorrow afternoon and I waited until the last minute to decide on gifts!

After spending large amounts of money at the gas station and grocery store today, my decision was made. I must make something.

These are based on the pattern Simple Tote from Bend-the-Rules Sewing.

I used grosgrain ribbon for the handles to speed things a long, which I think works for kids bags. It's always a gamble giving homemade gifts to kids you don't know very well, but every kid could use a tote. Right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What I've Been Eating For Breaky

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp!

The kids don't really like it, so that means there is plenty left over.
I used this recipe for the filling and then used my own crisp topping recipe because I like an oatmeal crisp, especially if I'm going to be eating it for breakfast.

Crisp Topping

1 1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 c flour of your choice
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c cold butter

Mix dry together and then cut in butter until it resembles coarse meal. I just use my fingers. Sprinkle on top, don't pack it down or else you will never be able to cut into it!

Makes enough for one pie or make 1 and 1/2 recipe for a 9"x13" pan.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Making Of A Monster: a tutorial

There was a question about how hard these bean bags were to make, so I thought I'd give my hand at a little tutorial.

Start with a rectangular piece of scrap fabric, this one is roughly 9" x 6".

Fold it in half length wise and start creating a face using shapes cut out of felt or scrap material and things from your bag of tricks, like ric rac or ribbon.

Once you have them how you like, pin them in to place and start sewing! I used the zig zag stitch on the shortest stitch length to sew on the eyes and the straight stitch for the mouth. Don't forget to start and end with a back stitch!

For the hair placement, pin it facing down, right sides together.

Then you are going to fold the right sides of the rectangle together and sew around the edges with a straight stitch, being sure to leave an opening at the bottom that will be used to turn it right side out and for filling.

Clip your corners, just don't get the stitches! This will help make nice square corners when turned right side out.

Pull your little monster through the hole and Voilà! Sometimes you really have to wrangle it through, a chop stick or similar device is useful for this, just remember to ease, not force.

Now its time to fill it up. I prefer using plastic pellets or sand so that they are totally washable, not good for the dryer though. A great filling tool is the funnel, it helps keep spillage to a minimum. Bean bags don't need to be stuffed to the brim, around 3/4 is great. Using a thread and needle, stitch the hole closed. I like a whip stitch or a blind stitch, just be sure to keep the stitches close together.

Have fun making!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

To Market To Market...With Out A Camera!

As I was driving to the market yesterday, it suddenly popped in to my groggy mind that I had forgotten my camera! And what a day to forget it, we had a political celebrity visiting the Beaverton Farmer's Market. Chelsea Clinton was there wandering the market, kissing babies and obliging shoppers with photos. I didn't see her carrying bags of produce, probably didn't have the chance to shop with all the attention!

As far as produce goes, there were more strawberries this week, three different kinds of radishes, baby bok choi, three varieties of new potatoes and more of the same from last week.

I had a fun visit from a friend who came to peruse the local produce. She got there bright and early and was one of the lucky few who got some strawberries. She remembered her camera and wrote a nice post about her trip to the market.

One of the perks that comes with working at the market is that you get to trade with other vendors. So, along with the produce from our booth, I brought home some local-fresh-picked-no-spray-asparagus (that was a mouthful!) and these nice baguette's to help round out the weeks menu.

Some other excitement on the food front: I spent some of our federal stimulus money and bought myself a nice gas grill!

We are still putting the thing together. I thought you could just walk out of the store with it and start cooking. I had no idea it came in a box with a hundred pieces and a huge instruction booklet. But once we get this baby together, I'm going to be a grilling fool this summer!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Too Hot For Soup

Potato Leek Soup was on the menu for tonight, but it is way too hot for soup. A friend suggested I make Tortilla Espanola as this was her favorite dish in Spain and uses similar ingredients. It can also be made and then eaten at room temperature. Perfect for this kind of weather! I mostly followed this recipe, but googled Tortilla Espanola and read a few recipes to get the main idea. explains that "In Spain, a tortilla isn't the cornmeal flat bread that we think of, but an omelet" typically loaded with potatoes and onions.

My first attempt at this dish didn't turn out perfect, it could be because I didn't follow a recipe and tried to wing it a bit. But I can definitely see its potential. I think that using onions as called for, instead of leeks would really be better.

My friend swooned over this dish and everything I read said it was wonderful, so I must make it again. Next time I'll pick one recipe and stick to it!

Three Silly Monsters Jumping On The Bed

This was just what the doctor ordered! I had so much fun making these, and I think it is going to help with my skillz! OK, three down, 12 more to go? Wren and I need to finalize the party list, which is a hard thing to do. I want him to be a part of it, but his plans change by the minute.

I'm in love with the ric rac mouth.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Got Some For Sale?

Where does one find motivation, time, energy? I am in need! It is Wednesday and I've got nothing but a messy house and a HUGE list of 'To Do's'.

Alright, I'm making a tiny goal: I'm going to make a couple of Silly Monster Bean Bags TONIGHT! So, I've cemented it, I've thrown it out into the universe. I don't want to disappoint.

Here is what I do have though,

they keep me going.

Cupcake Caddy

*Check this out! Someone else loves her cupcake carrier too!

I'm always excited to use my cupcake caddy, since it means I'm making cupcakes and I heart cupcakes.

This caddy holds 24 cupcakes and is made by ChefMate. The bottom is actually a cupcake pan, so it is dual purpose.

I found out that you need to be careful about how high you frost.

This thing is pretty handy. I imagine that I might need two of them when Wren starts kindergarten next year though, do they still have you make cupcakes for birthday's?

These cupcakes were my go to chocolate cupcake recipe with an extra little surprise of homemade caramel in the center. YUM!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What's At The Market?

It was a great day at the market! It was hard for me to imagine what could possibly grow during the cold weather we have been getting. I was pleasantly surprised at all the wonderful looking produce!

Up front is cabbage raab. Raab is the name used for the part of the plant that grows after the head of cabbage is picked. It is the leaves with the seed stalks before blooming and is very sweet.
Behind the cabbage raab are some new potatoes called red golds, some green garlic which is the garlic stalks before the bulb is formed that can be cut and used the same as a clove of garlic. Then there are some lovely bunches of carrots. On the far table and below you can see potatoes that have been wintered over from last seasons harvest.

Leeks and potatoes, a classic pair. The potato varieties are butter ball on the left and the red are desiree.

And look at these! Can you believe it? I knew that Denison Farms grew ever bearing strawberries, but I was still surprised to see them. Of course, these were gone in the first 30 minutes!

There were 7 or 8 varieties of lettuce and some spring onions.

On the left are bunches of spinach, red chard, yellow chard and some red spinach.

The first thing in my bag was a couple pints of strawberries. I had to try some cabbage raab, I'm going to sauté it with a bit of green garlic. I've never made potato leek soup (believe it or not!) so I got some butter ball potatoes and leeks that I'm going to roast for soup. I also brought home some red and yellow chard that are going to be sautéd with green garlic, then simmered in chicken stock and served up with pasta, fontina cheese and bacon. I grabbed a couple heads of lettuce for Cobb salad. Now I just need to finish up the weekly menu and write a grocery list.

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm having a wonderful day and I wish the same for all of you!

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's Market Time! (and almost party time!)

Last summer I worked at the Farmer's Market in Beaverton for an organic farmer from Corvallis, OR named Denison Farms. I loved working with such great produce and I got to bring my work home! Now it's market time again and I'm working bright and early tomorrow morning. I'll be working nearly every Saturday. I plan to bring my camera and write about what is at the market each Sunday, ideally with some recipes or food ideas.

Also in the works are some bean bags for Wren's Silly Monster Party! I'm excited about his theme pick. His birthday is in the beginning of June, so I need to get working! Below are some sketches Denny and I drew to get some ideas. I really just need to sit down and sew some to see how much detail is realistic for a bean bag.

I'd better get going with dinner (mac and cheese made w/pepper jack) and get myself to bed early tonight!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Styrobots Are Our Friends

After seeing the very large, very cool Styrobots made by Michael A. Salter using packaging styrofoam, I was inspired to save the packaging material from our new ceiling fan. It sat in a closet until just the right moment.

One afternoon, while Violet was napping and Wren was tired of all the usual things we have to do around the house, I pulled out the styrofoam, a bunch of nails, tacks, u-nails, screws and some tools. Using a serrated knife, I hacked the styrofoam in to different sizes and let Wren get to work. He decided that he was going to make himself some new friends. (he did actually say that)

Here he is with his trusty red hammer. Styrofoam is great for hammering into, it's just like butter.

He also got some practice with the screw driver.

My favorite is the cute little one up front with the smile.

After Violet woke up, we made more toddler friendly versions with pipe cleaners, foam stickers, pom poms and I helped with the glue gun.

This project is mostly about the fun in making rather than something to keep and play with. The nails and things do eventually fall out, which can be a bit of a hazard, but it was well worth it to see the creative juices flowing.

Present Time!

While we were at the coast, my friend and I did a little present exchange, catching up on birthdays and even Christmas! I gave her one of my favorite knit hats, the amigurumi cupcake, and a little doll made from a pattern by (Inside A Black Apple) that she gave out on the Martha Stewart Show.

In turn, I received the greatest gifts!

Inside this ball of colorful wool is a bar of soap. Such a great idea!

And check out this pop up book! It is called Botticelli's Bed & Breakfast.

Fancy bed room.

Here is Mona Lisa in the attic.

Venus and David in the bathroom. I want to be a guest here!

Then I was presented with this, I have been eying this book since my last visit to Powell's Books.

Look at that tree!

I love the antennae on this robot, so clever.

This lonely dollop is very appealing to my almost 5 year old boy! (Yes, it is poo!)

There are instructions for sewn softies, plus a couple for needle felting and some crochet too.

Not only are there cute softies, but there are great instructions with many details that would be useful knowledge for any sewing project.

Look! You can make a pompom with a toilet paper roll!

One of the greatest things about this book is that the patterns can be found in a pocket in the back of the book. So that means no trips to the library to enlarge pattern pages! I am so looking forward to starting a project from this book!