Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mostly Pantry Dinner

I made tasty rice in my Neuro Fuzzy Logic rice cooker tonight, that I thought I would share.

(Also, hi! I've been trying to buy a house, nursing the menfolk back from swine flu, and then at a conference, and now home.)

I started by frying up:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
And put that into the rice cooker with:
  • 1 'rice cooker cup' of rice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 14-ounce can of veggie broth
  • 1 14-ounce can of tomatoes
While that was rice cookering I boiled/microwaved up:
  • 1 cup of multi colored carrots*
  • 1 10-ounce package of sugar snap peas
and stirred those in at the end along with:
  • the juice of 1 tangerine
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2-3 tsp smoked paprika
  • another tsp grated ginger
Man it was good. I also fried some shrimp in vegetable oil and some curry powder for the side. Very yum.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rustic Robots + a Monster

I have finally finished a present I promised to make my husband in February. The Rustic Robot quilt is complete! I learned several things during the making of this quilt. I hate working with homespun, though it was the perfect fabric for the look I was going for. I need to practice my machine quilting if I am going to try something other than stitch in a ditch. But it is very rustic, and very robot-tastic.

Love adorable rustic robots of love! They are RobotDog, LoveBot, and CrazyBot, in order. :)

It was very hard to finish because I got a new toy, and I am super into this Doodle Stitching embroidery that I posted about last time. I used my new toy to sketch up a few little doodles to stitch of my own. Here is my little monster guy that I stitched today. I have to figure out what I am going to do with them, other than basically sketching and then stitch-sketching. I have a super secret perfect messenger bag project I am planning, so perhaps that will involve a little monster or alien in the corner.

He was originally green, but I kinda like him in purple.
You can download a JPG of him and his little buddy the three eyed alien here.
Fun weekend!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I picked up Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners this weekend and I LOVE it. I am also happy to pick up a new hobby that I get all the stuff for a new project and it only costs me $20.

My first attempts were not awful, but my satin stitch needs some work. Also, I think I am going to pick up one of those pens that disappears with water instead of disappearing after a bit of time. Tracing with that paper is not as easy to see and rubs off too quickly.

In any case, it is fantastic. Her designs are really fun and the instructions are easy to understand. I think this is a great addition to my ever-growing library of crafting books.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bags bags bags

My husband is often infuriated by the large number of handbags, totes, laptop bags and other "sacks which are appropriate to hold my stuff for different occasions". He is learning to get over it, as I love bags.

I have been coveting this bag for quite some time. I think it may be the handbag of my dreams. I'm not sure. I have the messenger bag in carbon black, but it is too small for my 15" mac book pro and seems like overkill for my day to day handbag and netbook needs. Perhaps I could work out a swap with someone.

I have the original flat Roots leather bag, which is fantastic. I have had occasional small problems with it (once I broke a clasp and currently one of the pockets is coming undone). I emailed customer service and mailed it in, and it came back fixed. I need to mail it back but I can't give it up without a new bag. I realize that is silly because I have a half dozen bags on the first floor and another bunch upstairs. But I can't do it. I think I may have a bag addiction.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I <3 Spock

For some inexplicable reason, my mother and my husband's mother were both desperate to babysit my son this weekend. I am not one to turn down a good thing, so double date weekend!
Saturday, we took our bikes out for a short ride (8.4 miles, if his GPS is correct). Today, we went out to see the new Star Trek movie, which I had been wanting to see. On the inside, I am a geek. And I guess I am happy to admit it.

Zachary Quinto is apparently from the neighborhood that my family lives in currently, and went to the college my husband and I attended. (Carnegie Mellon University).

It was such a happy weekend. The bike ride was relaxing and in beautiful weather. The new Star Trek movie was really good. My husband is completely analytical and I am really bad with logic, so I kind of totally identify with Spock's mother. Logical husband. Cute kid.

It hit me after leaving the movie, that the response from Domina was my favorite and most creative response. Congrats, Domina. I sent you some email earlier tonight. I hope you enjoy the earrings. I will mail them out soon.

And I hope everyone else enjoyed their weekend and their families as much as I enjoyed mine.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheery Cherry Apron

For years, my mother and I have talked about opening our own bakery, baking cookies and brownies and doughnuts like my gramma used to make for Shrove Tuesday and almost entirely fattening stuff. In my fantasy land, it's the Cheery Cherry Bakery and our shop is full of us and lots of happy teenagers wearing adorable cherry aprons.

So I made this one for Tie One One. My fantasy bakery is really far off, but the apron is a cute first step.

It's from Amy Karol, Bend the Rules Sewing. It is the first apron I have ever made, since I am kind of new to sewing, but I think it's pretty OK.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leftover Magic

I just got a fantastic rice cooker. It was recommended to me by a friend, who heard I was making rice and freezing it so I did not have to wait for it to cook when I got home. (I am feeding a two year old, so immediate dinner is pretty high on our priority list.) This cooker knows what time it is, and you can tell it "oh, have our rice done at 6". BRILLIANT.

As a result, we've been eating a ton of rice. Friday, I set the cooker up to make mexican-ish rice and black beans. We ate it with cheese quesadillas, which was a nice and fast dinner. I had 3 zucchini in my farm box that I needed to use, so I hollowed them out, filled them up with the leftover rice, and covered the whole mess with enchilada sauce and cheese. It was a very yummy dinner that baked while I chased my son around and tried to clean the kitchen. (note to self: I should look up how people do photography of food. this picture does show a bit of my hand knit trivet. Knit in a circle!!! Very exciting.)

I have been doing a lot of sketching and then trying to shop for jewelry supplies that match my sketches. Not 100% working out locally, so I may need to buy some things online. I should have some exciting new things going up on the shop in a week or so.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Busy Beading

I have been busily beading away between breaking in my new netbook, watching the Pens wil the Stanley Cup and a bit of sewing.

This is one of the pieces newly listed on my etsy site. I had a really hard time deciding to part with it because I love the toggle so, so much. Plus, matching earrings. Yum!

My brother's fiance had a birthday, and I made her a mother of pearl and crystal illusion necklace and earrings in a pretty hot pink color. I forgot to take a picture of it! She wore it to dinner tonight and it looked very nice on her.

After dinner, my mother asked for the same necklace in tan mother of pearl with dark wooden 3mm beads. Very funky and neutral, but I still failed to take a picture. Oh well.

This week, I also learned a valuable lesson about using the right lighting for your photography. I made a DIY macro light studio out of things I had around (duct tape, a box, and parchment paper). The website claims that it takes stunning gorgeous pictures, and I was so hopeful. I used the clamp lights my husband has and shot away and....everything was so dark and tan! Not at all the results promised. After poking around with different white balances, I decided it was probably the bulbs. (I have no idea what kind of bulbs or what color temperature). I took the whole works outside and used the sunlight, balancing my camera for sunlight and got much better results, including the picture I have in this post. I think it was really worth the

After I had my whole macro studio set up on the deck, a bird flew DIRECTLY into my head. Seriously! I literally didn't know what hit me. Then the little guy stood on the deck looking kind of confused and his birdy friend landed on the railing and started chirping at us in a really lecturing fashion. I told the lecturing chirper that it was very much not my fault and told them both to get off my porch. Jeezch!

P.S. Most creative submissions for the giveaway are past due. I am trying to decide which is the most creative, but it's hard! Such good answers. Winner coming soon, I promise.
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Background Rhubarb Jam

My family has a farm box subscription through Penn's Corner, which I love to pieces. I've had other farm subscriptions before that did not work out as well. Too many greens, too many tomatoes, not enough variety. Penn's Corner has given us eggs frequently, cheese, loaves of bread, fresh pasta, in addition to herbs and greens and strawberries and.... rhubarb.

Rhubarb always seems somewhere between a luxury and a curse in the farm box. It's not the kind of thing you see at the grocery store every day and I think it has a relatively short season. However, it's also not the kind of thing you can quickly saute and serve, since it absolutely needs a decent amount of sugar and to be cooked into something before it tastes good.

With this weeks' rhubarb, I was determined to make jam or jelly of some variety. It was a busy week, though. My husband was sick, and then had to work a lot of nights, and is now in San Fransisco. This did not leave lots of time to make jam. Enter Freezer Jam Pectin.

Ball makes this, and also some freezer-safe jam containers for you to use with it. I improvised this recipe, based on a handful of possible internet recipes. It's tasty, a bit luxurious, and did not take much time at all, easily cooking away in the background.

Rhubarb Peach Vanilla Freezer Jam
makes 4 jars

  • 1 envelope freezer jam pectin
  • 1 bunch rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 vanilla bean

  1. Measure out the chopped peaches and rhubarb. It should be 4 cups worth of fruit, roughly chopped into chunks no bigger than a centimeter cubed.
  2. Combine the fruit and 1.5 cups of sugar in a saucepan, cook over medium to high heat until the fruit comes to a low boil. Give this a stir with a wooden spoon every so often while it cooks for 10 - 15 minutes. The fruit will lose structural integrity and start to get a bit jelly like.
  3. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean* and mix with 2 tablspoons of sugar. You may need to use your fingers to get this well combined. Empty the packet of pectin into the sugar/vanilla mixture and slowly incorporate into the fruit mixture.
  4. Ladle the finished jam into the 4 freezer jam jars. Put 3 in the freezer (for up to 1 year) and stick the other in the fridge so you can start eating it right away.
  5. Feel totally awesomely accomplished. You are the modern incarnation of Laura Ingalls Wilder! And you did it all while you were waiting for the dryer to finish and while your kid watched one single episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. You're a rock star.
*Get the seeds out of a vanilla bean by slicing it open with the point of a paring knife, legnthwise. Now you have two long bean-halves. Use the flat of the knife to scrape the very teeny black seeds out.

As a bonus, you can keep the remaining vanilla bean halves in a quart mason jar full of granulated sugar. After a few weeks, you will have tasty vanilla sugar in addition to your freezer jam.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Every Body's Blogging for the Weekend

My group at work all agreed one day that we would take 30 minutes to break, whether for lunch or for a walk or whatever, to make sure we are not stressing ourselves out.  My whole division had a "repot and share your plants" break today, which I spent my time on today.  

This little aloe looking guy was one of the plants I broke into about 5 different plants for folks to take.  Hooray for sharing!  

That means, however, that my lunch time blog post must be short.  So, for today, I offer you my yummy peach iced tea recipe.

Peach Iced Tea
- 4 black tea bags (we use red rose)
- 4 peach tea bags (we use celestial seasonings)
- 4 cups boiling water
- 3 cups of peach juice (we use juicy juice, which is not strictly all peach but is 100% juice)

Put all 8 tea bags into a glass container.  I like my large pyrex measuring cup for this, and add 4 cups of water that you boiled and let sit for a minute or two while you got the cup and wrangled the tea.  

Let this steep for at least ten minutes.  If you wander around the house because your two year old desperately needs someone to play cars with for a half hour or your spouse needs help moving the sofa to vacuum and it sits for 30 minutes or even an hour, it will probably be OK.

Remove the tea bags with some tongs and pour in 3 cups of peach juice. 

You can pour this into a glass over ice and enjoy it immediately, or you can put it in the fridge and wait for it to cool off, serving over ice as needed.

It's just sweet enough without being overpowering, and it's sweetened with juice and not sugar, so you can feel at least somewhat healthy about it.

Yummy summer drink!

(This works equally well with cherry tea and cherry juice, by the way.)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giveaway Day!

It's Giveaway Day on sewmamasew's blog!

To celebrate, I am giving away a pair of earrings to whoever has the most creative answer to the question "What is your true nature?".

I'll post a picture of the earrings when I get home from work tonight. They are silver toned with turquoise and red coral chips. Why is red and turquoise such a hot combination right now? I don't know, but I love it, and you will, too, if you win the earrings.

If you would like to participate, please leave a comment to this post answering the question. Once the winner is chosen, I'll post again.


Edited to Add:
I forgot to ask people to leave a means of contact! If you have a blog you'd like me to comment in if you win, that's fine, or an email address.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What's in a name?

Naming a blog is hard.

I want to start this blog to be specifically about my crafts and creative efforts, since I seem to have an ever-expanding list of them.

I have been investigating creating things for as long as I can remember. My combination love of books and making things meant that I spent many hours at the Carnegie Library on Mount Washington in the crafts section, reading books about how to make dolls, jewelry, candles. How pretty things are made fascinated me at age 4 and still.

Pretty things I have learned the workings of include:
- People (undergrad degree in Psychology)
- Photography
- Bookbinding
- Scrapbooking
- Sewing
- Knitting
- Quilting
- Jewelry making

I almost always forget to list "cooking" "baking" and "reading" on lists of my interests on the back of product cards or facebook or whatever. To me, they are kind of like deep breathing, essential comforts I automatically end up doing.

So anyway, naming a creative blog after any particular craft seems like a bad idea, since I flit in and out of them so quickly. Turning away from names related to a particular craft, I started thinking about my own personality and what names might come from that. In the Meyers Briggs personality schema, one of my facets is "Intuitive" which apparently means "discerning the true nature of things". I find that appealing, and here I am at True Nature.

Welcome. :)