4.30.2010

This Weekend


Lots of excitement planned for this weekend. I'll definitely be attending Crafty Wonderland. What will you be up to?

4.29.2010

Window Garden

Our kitchen sink is situated in a corner underneath two windows. Above the sink is a little ledge on which I currently have a collection of plants. Clockwise from the left are a rabbit's-foot fern, a cyclamen, a clover, and a christmas cactus.



Look at the new sprouts in the clover. Something so hopeful about sprouts... The plant was an impulse gift from a co worker a few years ago. The job was a total nightmare, but looking at this plant reminds me of the kindness of that coworker. I also take comfort that both the plant and I survived an extremely toxic environment.

The cactus has recently sprouted lots of new leaves. I am so proud! When we were in Minnesota this past February, I took cuttings from Ryan's grandmother's cactus. It's a huge plant. I think his aunt said she remembered it in the house when she was a little girl. That I could get the cuttings home, get them to root and, finally, to grow seems like a minor miracle.

The fern is also a horticultural heirloom from Minnesota. We brought back four of the "rabbit's feet" and they, too, have begun to sprout. I think Ryan's aunt said her fern was from cutting from her great-grandmother's plant. So, our humble little sprouts have a long history.

The cyclamen is the one I bought in January. I nearly killed the poor thing. But, it survived and I'm hoping to nurse it back to health. This happy, sunny little spot brings a lot of comfort to both me and the plants.

Mmmm...


I recently made these homely little sandwich cookies, Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies. The recipe came from Sunset Magazine. I made it gluten free with a straight substitution of my GF baking blend for the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe and the addition of some xanthum gum. (I also left out the coconut, as we aren't fans.) We were celebrating both Ryan's Birthday and the Timbers home opener, hence the flag. We had a nice little group of folks over before the game for a BBQ and I'm proud to say that the whoopie pies received rave reviews all around. (So did the strawberry rhubarb pie made by our friend April.)

Apparently I'm right on trend with this dessert. I really wanted to make something special for Ryan. If I wanted to partake, it had to be something that could easily be made GF. It also had to be something other than chocolate, for which I've totally lost my taste. Ryan loves cream cheese frosting, so a dessert using that would be in order. Then I remembered that early in our marriage I used to make Ryan carrot cakes. Wouldn't it be fun to recapture those flavors, but maybe in a sandwich cookie? Then, upon opening my latest issue of Sunset, there was the exact recipe I had envisioned.

Shortly after finding my recipe, I happened to be in Trader Joe's and noticed that they had beat me to the punch. They are currently selling "Inside Out Carrot Cakes." ( I heard somewhere that they are actually pretty good.) For about a half second, I thought about just buying their version, but quickly cast the idea aside. What's the fun in buying the cookies? How would that be special? And of course, TJ's cookies weren't gluten free.

After all was said and done, as I perused the May issue of Bon Appetit, I found a recipe for Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting. The recipe hasn't yet been posted to Epicurious, but I did find an "Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies" recipe originally published in Gourmet in 2004.

Have I convinced you yet to try making your own? Carrots are in season right now. You should really pick up a bunch, choose a recipe, and get to work making a batch. Really. Go. Now.

4.28.2010

Tess

Meet Tess. Tess is my sweater. Isn't she pretty? The pattern and knitting were quite simple and straightforward. But, my mind would wander a bit and I kept making silly mistakes.

So, I had to keep ripping out rows and keep re-knitting. Bother. The finished result is quite pretty, though. My only complaint also comes down to my own inattention. I have a long waist and neglected to add in extra rows so that the drawstring would both sit at my natural waist and be in the right spot on the sweater. I tugged it down a bit for the pictures.

Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern and the buttons. I was lucky to find just the right buttons. These came from Fabric Depot. The yarn is the now discontinued Rowan Soft Lux. It's a merino angora blend with just a touch of sparkle - not so much that I'd feel silly wearing the sweater with jeans while running about town. Given the yarn's name and fiber content, it should come as no surprise that it is beautifully soft.

Of course, I can never resist a flower or brooch or pin, so I also had to knit Tea Rose. The last finishing touch. The book had patterns for a couple of other flower brooches and I have more leftover yarn, so you might be seeing more of these.

4.27.2010

Camouflage

I'm knitting a sweater which appears to blend perfectly with my living room. Well, I'm nothing if not consistent...

The pattern is called Buttony, I've called my version the Denim & Lace Buttony. It's a very, very loose pattern. Mostly just a guideline. There have been 826 Buttony sweaters knit & posted to Ravelry. It's amazing to see the different variations, the directions people's creativity takes them.

This is an early photo of the project. I put the last touches to it last night. I'll get pictures and show you soon. It's really quite charming, even if it was slightly inspired by my furniture.

4.16.2010

A Little Inspiration

I have to share with you some pictures that my mother shared with me. They were taken by a photographer for LIFE at a rug hooking bee in July of 1951. It appears there were lectures and demonstrations, and I imagine there was also an incredible exchange of ideas. I am fascinated by the variety of women who attended the event, the different of motifs they worked into their rugs (everything from geometrics, to landscapes,to intricate florals), and of course, quite taken with their fashions.

For several months now I've been dreaming of a plaid shirt-waist dress, and here this lovely lady has got it on!

Doesn't her beautiful blouse and skirt just scream "artist"? While there were a wide variety of dresses worn by the attendees, this lady's outfit is unique - so simple and romantic.

Check out this industrious Little Miss, carrying her canvas and supplies in her sweet little dress and Mary Janes.

And here she is working on her design. How old do you suppose she was? 10? Wonder if she maintained her hobby when she grew up. Maybe she became an accomplished artist.

Don't you just love these two ladies, enjoying their sack-lunches in the shade? They look so serious, but I'll bet that when they got through their sandwiches, they shared some pretty good gossip.

I wonder what happened to all of those rugs they made. Do you suppose they were finished? Did they grace walls as decoration, or did they live beneath their families' feet? To see more of the pictures of the event, go here.

4.14.2010

My Partner-in-Crime


This man of mine is remarkable. He is brave, kind, so damn intelligent, compassionate, strong, funny, goofy, determined. We met at freshman orientation almost 14 years ago, started dating 11 years ago, and got married 8 1/2 years ago. Each day that he's been in my life has been better for his presence there. We have in many ways grown up together (though not too much!) and I am stunned, but not surprised, at the amazing man he has become. He is my champion, protector, partner and best friend. Just thought you should know. Happy Birthday, Ryan!

4.12.2010

Beautiful Books

We made am impromptu stop at Powell's this weekend, on the way back from the Market. While Ryan looked at books about seasonal cooking and how to make your own everything, I headed over to the knitting and sewing aisles, of course. The knitting aisle is a bit bereft this time of year. I didn't stay long. One row over, though, I was knee deep in delightful sewing books. Here are a few which caught my eye:

Wendy Mullin's latest, Built By Wendy Dresses. Bloggers have been raving about the most recent addition to Wendy's Sew U series, with good reason. After hearing so much about the book, it was a thrill to finally see it in person. I have her first two volumes, and definitely plan to add this one, in time.


One-Yard Wonders is packed full of budget-friendly, instant gratification projects. I have a nearly a yard of this Liberty fabric, which begs to be made into a sweet and simple top. This book had a few really good options from which to choose, as well as tons of other projects I'd be delighted to make.


Handmade Soirees is the latest installment from Kari Meng of French General. Lots of projects to craft and sew in this little treasure, her second sewing book. She also has two books on jewelry making, and her own line of fabrics, which are based on the vintage French linens she's spent her life collecting. Go visit her website. I challenge you not to drool.


I've got this lovely book by Meg McElwee on loan from the library. I had to wait a long time to get it, so there is no chance that I'll be able to renew at the end of my three weeks - boo! I also am not sure I can wait so long, again, to get it back out from the library. Therefore, I must get a copy of my own. Must. So many patterns in this one that I have to make.



Finally, we come to gorgeous and inspiring Alabama Studio Style, the second book by the brilliant Natalie Chanin. I am particularly excited about this book because Natalie will be in Portland this week. Sadly, I'll not be attending what sounds like a fabulous workshop at the Ace Hotel on Saturday. I will however, be present at her book signing at Powell's tomorrow night at 7:30pm, with my copy of her first book. Shall I see you there?

4.09.2010

Sewing Soon

When I've not been working on my Spring Cleaning recently, I've been dreaming about my Spring/Summer wardrobe. After recently unpacking my warm weather clothes, I must admit that there is little I need. Some new shoes, for sure. Other than that, I'm pretty well set. Not that I'm gonna let that stop me from adding to said wardrobe. Oh, no. What would be the fun in that?

Most urgently, I need a new spring coat. I've got my eye on two possible patterns, Lady Grey by Collette (top), and the Trench Topper from Indygo Junction (above). They both have nice lines. I guess I have to decide between buttons or a belt. What do you think?


Next on my list is another Collette pattern, Sencha. I love this blouse. It has three variations, two of which button up the back. I already have fabric washed and ready to go for this one, but need to pick up the pattern. Bolt is having their semi-annual sale next weekend, April 16-18, maybe I'll pick up the pattern then.


Then, I'm trying to decide between the Schoolhouse Tunic, by Sew Liberated,


and Audrey's Afternoon Dress, by Indygo Junction. Maybe I need to make them both...?

Finally, I'm also really wanting to make the 1930's Day Dress by Folkwear in a retro reproduction print. I'm considering the view on the left.

So, that's my sewing list, minus an apron or two. And maybe a new blouse. And Katherine Hepburn-style trousers. In linen.

4.06.2010

Delicious

Hi! How was your weekend? Ours was busy, busy, busy. I've needed some time to recover. Most of our weekend centered around food. Ok, let me be honest, all of our weekends center around food. Shopping for food, preparing food, and of course, eating.

We started with a trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Oh, how we love the Farmer's Market! The morning was cold. The wind and rain would come out of nowhere, and then would disappear again. My hands turned red and icy. My sister always jumps when I touch her, because my hands are always so cold, and they would seem warm in comparison to Saturday morning at the Market. Despite that, it was truly lovely. The cold had kept many people at home, so we could really take our time and look around. We were happily surprised to find one of our favorite local performers playing. We stood, sharing our breakfast burrito, and listened to him sing an old Edith Piaf tune. (I came home & requested one of her CD's from the library. Why hadn't I done so sooner?) We stopped at our favorite stands, and left with so many treasures that our shopping bag could barely contain them all. I wanted to show you how it all looked, bursting from the top of the bag, but Ryan was too quick to unload it all. Above are this week's treasures, spread on the counter.

Have you tried these little white turnips, shown with spring radishes and bunched arugula? You should, they are divine. Yes, I used divine to describe a turnip. The smaller the turnip, the better, in my opinion. Ryan roasts them for me, and sautes the greens in olive oil. So good. We had some that way last night, with leftover ham and scalloped potatoes from Easter. But I'm getting ahead of myself...


On the left, in the above photo, looking like large green onions, are bunches of green garlic. These will be combined with the bag of spinach on which they're lying to become Spinach and Green Garlic Soup, from Molly at Orangette. We eat this soup several times in the early spring. Green garlic isn't around for very long, so we have to enjoy it while we can.

The leeks and potatoes we brought home were made into Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks, and accompanied our Maple Glazed Ham and roasted asparagus. All of it fantastic, all made by Ryan. (He's amazing, have I mentioned that before?) Btw, we got the ham at the market, too. It came from here.

While we waited for dinner, Ryan, Lex and I all dyed Easter Eggs. I won't show you the results. They may not have all been pretty, though some were, but we had fun dying them. Without any consultation, Ryan and I both made one with a bunny face that said "Hoppy Easter." How pathetic that we both made the same terrible joke. Ryan made one that said "Ham," and somehow he managed to dye it the exact color of ham...


To finish our delectable dinner, we had Cream Cheese and Mascarpone Cheesecake with Stewed Rhubarb. I haven't made a cheesecake in six years. Not a bad thing, really, considering this particular cheesecake called for 1 1/2 lbs of cream cheese and another 1/2 lb of mascarpone, in addition to 5+ eggs and heavy cream. For all that, it had a lovely light texture. Much nicer than New York-style cheese cakes, which always seem too dense for me. This cake had just a hint of citrus, zest from an orange and a lemon, which really set off the flavor of the rhubarb. We really love rhubarb in our family. It's Lex's very favorite, and I happily share my rhubarb desserts with her all season long. Anyway, isn't the color of the rhubarb sauce fantastic?

Today, I had an open-faced butter and radish sandwich for lunch, sprinkled with salt and accompanied by one of my Easter Eggs. I'm also loving sandwiches made from lightly toasted bread, topped with cream cheese, fresh arugula, and ham. Sometimes I also add a little homemade jam. Doesn't matter what kind, they're all good counterpoints to the saltiness of the ham and the bitterness of the arugula. Goodness, I love spring.

Thanks for your patience with my rambling, disorganized post. I'll try to better marshal my thoughts and will get back to you in a day or two. There are really so many things to chat about...

4.01.2010

Ranunculus


Last weekend, a new friend and I were discussing our love of flowers. I confessed that I loved them so much that sometimes I tear up when looking at the flower stands at the Farmer's Market. This past weekend, the Farmer's Market was bursting with daffodils. I practically skipped along the sidewalk after buying my handful. There were three beautiful varieties, and they have filled the apartment with their sweet fragrance all week.


Saturday's daffodils have begun to fade. So when I saw these gorgeous ranunculus at Trader Joe's, I couldn't resist. Ranunculus make my list of favorite flowers. I love how their colors range from barely blushing, like these, to vivid and intense. I love their many, many layers of petals. I love how they look like they have a secret.