Monday, March 30, 2009

Jewelry that rocks!

Here's a fun project I made with guitar strings and picks this weekend. I had been stockpiling Justin's old strings for a while. He also might be short a pick or two (or six) now...but new jewelry for me! I call that team work.



Required: old steel guitar strings, some picks, end clasps, o-rings, crimp tubes (2.5mm), earring hooks, wire cutters, and a thumb tack to make the holes in the picks. I also wrapped a set in the guitar string envelope for a thematically complete gift! Easy, funky, and practically free.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jasper's birthday celebration

Yeah, I know. I swear I'll quit posting pictures of my dog. Once I get over how freakin adorable she is. Maybe next year.

Jasper with her birthday gifts. Can you tell which gift was from me, and which was from Justin?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Jasper!

Jasper at age 8 weeks (the car ride home),
Jasper at 10 weeks,


and J.May, the big 2!


We will be celebrating the big day at the off-leash dog park. She's also bound to receive some dog cookies and a new toy because I am a shameless dog mom and can't help but spoil her. Thanks for joining our family, Jasper!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

urbangardenshare.org

Okay, I know not everyone is into gardening, but my friend Erin passed along this awesome website that I had to share: urbangardenshare.org "Matching homeowners (with garden space) to gardeners (with experience)." I love the concept. This site makes it easy to become that gardener you always admired. Condo/apartment dwellers are able to have a place to grow their own food, and learn from a greenthumb! I perused the listings and mostly it's people with tons of garden space that they are willing to share at no cost. Its amazing how much space is out there in this city waiting to be cultivated. Very cool.

I'm sure there are garden co-ops in other cities too. I'd love to hear what people are plugged in to. My friend Katie is part of a co-op farm in Carnation and loves working out there on the weekends, and the fresh veggies they get out of the deal. If you decide to hook up with a plot via Urban Garden Share, I would love to hear how it goes! Thank you Erin for sharing this cool site.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garden art

So in spite of the endless cold and rain here in my neck of the woods, I'm still excited for spring. While I can't work out in the yard quite yet, I can purchase adorable garden art. Here is my new lucky ladybug!



I can't wait to put her out in the flower bed. Maybe she can fight off the local bunny. I got her from my favorite art glass shop in West Seattle: Avalon Glassworks. All their glass is made by local artists and is very reasonably priced compared to other galleries. Adorable. Also, for any of you locals, they are having a garden art open house April 4th and my friend Sean will be doing blown glass demos. If you need some cute glass art check it out. If you aren't in the Seattle area, they do have glass for sale via their website too. I'm dying to put a hummingbird feeder outside my window at work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tweet

No, I did not just join twitter. However, another bird themed project I have been working on is a mobile for my sister's baby girl (due April 22!). I found this tutorial on line and liked the pattern so it was a good starting point.

I bought felt squares at Joann's Fabric for $0.29 each (one of each: blue, purple, brown, green, light green). I bought embroidery floss in blue, purple, green, and light green ($0.33 each). Unlike the tutorial, both sides of my birds were the same color, and rather than gluing the felt I hand stitched it with the corresponding color floss. Once I was almost around on the stitching I stuffed in some of the felt scraps to make the birds more 3D and then closed it up. I glued the wings just along the bottom so that they would sort of flap back. I also cut a pattern for leaves and sewed with the opposite green floss (didn't stuff those) leaving a long strand at the end to hang. Instead of a branch I had a thin dowel from Home Depot (under $1), and painted it with brown acrylic. I secured the dowel it to itself with thin wire, but hemp or twine would also work. When I assembled it I did it while it was hanging so that I could get it to balance correctly since not all the birds are at the same height. I used brown yarn for the bird strings. Sliding the leaves around also helped me achieve balance. Strictly following the tutorial probably would have only taken about 30 minutes. Since I hand stitched it, added leaves, and painted a dowel it took me about 3 hours but it felt shorter than that. It was super easy to make, and I love how it turned out.



Now I'm pondering making a few more for other babies I know, and scheming some more designs.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Madness

While the rest of the world is watching basketball this month, my madness has been in the world of arts & crafts. I had aimed to enter an art piece in the staff art show at work so that meant the whole first part of the month was spent cramming to put the last minute touches on it and figuring out how to install it. Here are some pictures of that process. The final piece was entitled "Going Home" and was intended to be a representation of one of my poems of the same name. The art show closing reception was Friday, and it was really fun to be part of the show. Thanks to Amanda, Matt, and Kelly for coming out to the show, and Justin for helping with the install. Also, for anyone interested in reading the poem that goes with it I can send it to you. I just don't know how I feel about it floating around on the internet.



I also have about three other craft projects in process, so additional posts on those forthcoming. As long as it keeps freezing here, I will keep cranking them out. It's the only thing keeping me sane right now. I'd really like to get started on the porch boxes for our garden, but since I still see snow in the forecast I'll have to keep waiting and hoping for warmth.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Free(d) solo

I apologize. I love terrible puns. I can assure you they will continue well into the future. I'm actually pretty sure a past boyfriend broke up with me for that reason. And maybe a couple others. Reasons, not boyfriends. Although...
So last night I got home and wanted to climb into bed (still sick), but had this nagging feeling called hunger. Since there was no way I was going to get back into my car and go to the store, I decided to make something with whatever happened to be in my kitchen. On any given day these are the items likely to be in my house, my staples: eggplant, mini bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, fresh jalapenos, onions, minced garlic, eggs, flour and corn tortillas, sharp cheddar. In my cupboards I usually have pasta, marinara, white rice, lentils, canned tomatoes, and 5 year old canned veggies I will never want to eat including lima beans. In my freezer usually salmon, edamame, hash browns, pesto, sorbet, and a dead rat. Just seeing if you were still reading. And that's actually true. (Justin has a ball python named Boris. Want him? Done.)
Last night my fridge was severely lacking the aforementioned staples. Here's what I had: 1/2 eggplant, 1/4 yellow onion, mini bell peppers. Ummmm.
Here's what I made:


Here's how:
1/2 eggplant chopped small
4 mini bell peppers chopped
Add to warm pan with some olive oil and fry for a while.

In a pot add:
2T butter
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion chopped (or more if you have it)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (indian spices)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Stir together.
Add:
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c lentils
2 1/2 c vegetable broth/bullion
3/4 c cream (I had some left over from something else so just threw it in...)
Bring all to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in sauteed eggplant/bell pepper and simmer for a while.



Meanwhile, take a few flour tortillas and quarter. Prepare a pan of vegetable oil, medium high heat. Soft fry tortillas and place on paper towel to absorb some of the grease.
Serve soup into bowls, garnish with green onion, and tortilla wedge.
All in all I give it a solid B. Very filling and the tortillas were delicious.

Feedback please

I want to be sure my blog is readable and not too ugly, but don't have time yet to make it a beautiful web page. Please let me know if you have any problems with it as displayed on your screen. Thanks, B.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cream of carrot soup

As promised, Cream of Carrot soup. This recipe is from the Joy of Cooking (with a few parenthetical modifications).

Heat in a soup pot over med-low heat until the butter is melted:
1/4 c water
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Add and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes:
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced (or I just used the minced kind from the jar)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
(I added 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger for kicks)
Stir in:
4 1/2 c vegetable stock (I dissolved 4 Maggi vegetable bullion cubes in boiling water)
1 1/2 lbs carrots chopped
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are tender, 15 minutes. Puree until smooth. Return to pot and stir in:
1/2 c heavy cream
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Simmer briefly. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh dill or chives, croutons. This summer I was excited to have made this from carrots and chives from the garden, and fresh dill bread croutons I made with our garden dill. It was a proud moment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh no! Somebunny ate my flowers!

Yep, that's right. I went outside to visit my crocuses after days of being in bed sick and they were nibbled down to the nubbin. I suspect the adorable bunny that I have seen hopping through my yard. It was actually kind of funny since we had just built a little fence to keep Jasper from trampling them. If its not one critter, its another. My day of slaving away planting bulbs: wasted. Justin's day of making aforementioned cute bamboo fence: wasted. I didn't even expect this sort of assault. But don't you worry...I'll think of something.

"Be vewy vewy quiet. I'm hunting* wabbits..."

*No actual wabbits will be harmed in the hunting of these wabbits. Sure, if Jasper catches it I might praise her skillful stealth, but so far she hasn't caught the tree squirrel either. She did once catch a mouse in the snow, which she played with for at least ten minutes without so much as a scratch on the little creature.



I found the picture!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sicky McSickerstein

Well, I'm sick. So there. I tried to fight it yesterday by spending the whole day in bed, but alas it's eating my body anyway. I'm especially bummed because I was supposed to take a trip to see some good friends, but one should avoid pregnant people and new babies when sick. So I will be quarantined to my home for the weekend. Yesterday I slept from 6am-10am, and then from 11am-2pm. Then I got up and looked into our empty fridge and felt hopeless. I oped for eating a bowl of dry cheerios instead of going to the store since I could hardly stand for more than 10 minutes. Then I noticed that my house was filthy and proceeded to clean it. Somehow that made me feel better. Then I took another nap. When I got up at about 4pm I was staaaaarving and looked in the empty fridge again. And then the freezer. And hooray, a tupperware of frozen soup. Last fall I was on this soup kick and used our funky garden carrots to make an overabundance of carrot soup. I say funky because we had started them as seeds in the greenhouse, and then transplanted them into the planter beds in April, and somewhere in the process (maybe the transplanting, maybe the snow, maybe the soil) they decided to become deformed and literally braided themselves. Not one big carrot, but a whole bunch of weird five+ strands of braided carrotness. It was kind of disturbing. The only thing I could figure to do with them was make soup, since I didn't really want to look at them in their freakiness. Anyway, my point is, making soup is really easy, and its great for the freezer, especially when you're sick, and starving, and too tired to cook. I'll post my carrot soup recipe on Monday when I'm done being sick. Until then, zzzzzzzzz....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I dream in green

Last night in my dream I was at the grocery store check out line. The clerk was scanning my items which included a $10 bottle of red wine, a $5 bottle of red wine, a bottle of white (cost unknown) and some other food items--I think maybe some crackers, and cheese, etc. Oh, also a bottle of Blue Italy sparkling mineral water. I'm also pretty sure there were some Girl Scout cookies in there. I remember the cost of the wine because the clerk said to me, This is some really great wine, and such a good deal. She gets ready to start bagging my groceries and I think, Oh no! I forgot my reusable shopping bags in the car. But then I was relieved to remember that my purse was a canvas book bag and so I was able to load the glass bottles into it and save her from using a bag. The end.

Seriously, that was my dream. 1. Am I really that boring? and 2. Seattle, your eco conscience is really starting to get to me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Porch garden

One of our goals this summer is to grow a vegetable garden on our porch. Last year we tried using the raised beds already in our yard, but a combination of knowing nothing about vegetable gardens, being overly ambitious with the crop selection, and a crazy amount of weeds amounted to few successful vegetables. We also had quite a few moles, slugs, and a cat that liked to use the beds for a litter box. It's still snowing in the Cascades and my horticulture guru says he doesn't plant until May, but I can't help but dream of the organic fruits of my labor. Also, some of our crops can be started in the greenhouses soon. Here is a link to what you can start planting and prepping in your garden.

Here are a few other pages I have found that I will be reading up on:
How to grow veggies in pots
Best crops for pots
Summer veggies in pots

We plan to build rectangular planter boxes for the porch out of some scrap lumber so project photos will follow when the day comes. Until then I will be researching crops, hunting for good planter box designs, and praying for sunshine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soup days

It has come to my attention that spring is not here. It snowed this weekend (again), and there was 14 inches of fabulous powder in the mountains. It was great for snowboarding, but not so much for working on the new garden. On the other hand, making a delicious soup is a good way to spend a chilly indoor day. I went with one of my all time favorite recipes from Sunset Magazine: Crab and Hominy Chowder. When I make it I omit the bacon (just use olive oil), substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth, and skip the salt. Don't feel bad if you don't know what hominy is--you can find it next to the canned corn. For the white wine, I just use whatever I have. Also, in the past I have used king crab legs instead of a whole crab which can be tedious to remove the meat. The flavor that makes this recipe is the cilantro & jalapeno pesto, so don't skip it. Try this recipe out, you will LOVE it. It's a favorite when I have guests from out of town, and it feels very Pacific Northwest. Really, it is pretty simple.


Friday, March 6, 2009

I want to live in a magazine

Some days I get home and sit on the couch, flip through Pottery Barn's latest catalogue, and wonder why they never have dishes in their sink. Last week I took a stroll through the Crate and Barrel showroom and wanted to move in. I am seriously considering using only disposable kitchen products from now on. Justin has determined that our volcano of dishes is directly correlated with my cooking extravaganzas and I don't disagree, but its hard to care about how many dishes you're dirtying when you are making delicious mango sorbet, or trying some new experimental recipe. I also think that the mess in my house is compounded by the fact that I have too much stuff. My latest philosophy is that if I get rid of stuff there won't be a mess. You can't have a sink full of dishes if you don't own a sink full of dishes. It hasn't seemed to work yet, mostly because I keep buying stuff. If IKEA would stop making cute cheap kitchen items I would be happy to stop purchasing them. Probably. Alas, I am a consumer. I did stop subscribing to Real Simple after I realized that their real simple solutions cost a fortune. Sure I would like to make over my walk-in closet, but I would have to build a walk-in closet first. So what do you do to control the day-to-day mess? Any tips or tricks from real life?

The latest update on my bamboo flower fence: It is complete. No thanks to me. My loving housemate decided that he would tackle the project in his hours after work, before I arrive home. It took him two days and looks adorable. Almost. Whenever anything new and cute goes into the yard it really accentuates the ugly stuff going on around it, like the peeling picket fence, and the obnoxiously tall sprinkler heads. As I went out to inspect his creation he also pointed out the trampled crocuses. Evidently Jasper can run faster than a fence can be built. I have hopes that they will bounce back. I'll post a picture of the project soon. Maybe after I paint the picket fence and fix the sprinkler head so that you will believe I also live in a magazine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

SPRING-er!

In spite of last week's snow, I declare that spring is finally here! Yesterday I saw my first crocuses in bloom. This is exciting for three reasons: one, because crocuses are always the first spring bulbs in bloom here (which takes me back to my college days when they would peek out from a few inches of residual Spokane snow); two, because that means that my bulb planting was a success (this is my first time planting bulbs); and three, because I got to see the blooms before Jasper tramples them, as she will surely do if we don't make a fence soon. I put up a decorative border when I planted the bulbs, but it does nothing against the bounding power of Miss Springer Spaniel. I have decided to make a bamboo fence to protect them from Jasper's fetching zone.

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