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Here is something amazing I made this weekend:

Gateau au yaourt with honey

Gateau au yaourt with honey

So simple, and so divinely amazing. I made a Gateau au yaourt (yogurt cake) for the first time, and the day before we had picked up some local honey at the Lavender Festival (pics to come soon!). I thought it would be over the top to add anything at all, but Kirk urged me to try it with the new honey, and I did, and it was divine. The yogurt cake is incredibly simple to make and turns out the most lusciously moist-crumbed cake. Simplicity itself, topped with the true summer decadence of a dark, nutty honey. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

I have fun things to share today: a finished project! Pics of another project in progress! Recipes! It’s been a productive couple of weeks for me, though is my living room still filled with boxes? Yes. Do we have an unassembled IKEA bookshelf and dresser lurking around? Yes. Stacks of art left to hang, a garage full of boxes that need to be inspected, and all kinds of strange objects sitting in strange places? Why yes, I do know there is a bottle of listerine sitting in the nursery for no good reason. One day I’ll get to it, but apparently not yet. I’ve been too busy with fun things, like this:

This is the baby quilt I made for our little one (I am at 27 weeks and counting!), out of some meltingly soft plain white flannel and some lovely vintage floral bed linens from Whimsie Dots on Etsy. The finished quilt is not quite one yard square, perfect for curling up during naptime or snuggling while we wake up. Instead of quilting each square I just did knots in the center of each square and at the intersections, which makes for a fluffier and softer overall feel. The best part is that I made it all in one evening, thanks in part to my new Olfa rotary cutter, but mainly thanks to the fact that I skipped using a separate fabric to bind the edges. Instead, I just sewed the layers together inside out and then flipped them through a gap in the seam, like a really flat pillow. It was much, much easier that way. Is there a name for this technique? If not, I would dub it Super Simple Lazy Quilter’s Savior Technique, that’s how much I loved it.

I also made some progress working on the baby cradle restoration project that I started way back in April. I came back to this project after letting the buying a house/moving interrupt my progress, and I was pleased to see the cradle was no worse the wear for sitting in my dad’s woodshop for a couple months. After some intense sanding, we determined that it was not going to be worth the effort to try to get the spindles completely paint-free (so they could be stained), so instead I opted to paint them white. Here I am getting to work:

And here is one side of the cradle finished with two coats of Acro Pure Miller Paint antique white (Acro Pure is Miller’s environmentally friendly, zero-VOC paint):

It was tricky to get the paint into every nook and valley of these spindles, especially as many have odd little holes and nicks (from tiny teeth? wee baby hammers?). Once they get a third coat of paint, these side pieces will be done! There are still the spindles from the head and foot of the crib to sand and paint, plus all the rails, legs and slats have to be prepped for a coat of stain or polyurethane to really make it shine. My dad is working on fashioning a new joint or splint to fix the broken leg, but I think it’s totally possible to finish it before the baby comes. Of course, there is still the not-quite-minor matter of making a little mattress and buying or making a set of linens and bumpers to make it safe for sleeping.

But first, let’s focus on finishing the actual crib, then I can geek out about fabrics. No, hang on, let me just try a quick fabric geek-out for this, what do you think about these large-repeat Kokka fabrics from Purl Soho?

(Okay, okay, I will wait before I get way ahead of things and find myself madly quilting fabrics and cursing thread tension right before I call the midwives…)

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The last thing I wanted to share was this awesome recipe for homemade granola that I tried yesterday. I got the recipe from a friend, who had adapted an Alton Brown recipe, and then I further adapted it to my own tastes. It was so delicious, I can’t believe how overly-sweetened and stale/sticky store-bought granola tastes in comparison. I could (and did!) eat this stuff with a spoon directly off the cookie sheet:

It is just oats, nuts and seeds tossed with maple syrup, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar, and baked at 250 for an hour or so. Incredible simple and incredibly tasty. The hardest work is writing down all those little numbers on tags when you go to the bulk bins to buy everything. Try it, you won’t be sorry! (Click on the photo to visit my Flickr page, where you can find the full recipe.)

So that is what I’ve been up to lately. That, and tending to this rapidly growing baby in my belly, who likes to kick and squirm around right when I’m falling asleep, and who seems very soothed by my (ridiculously silly but lots of fun) aqua aerobics class twice a week, and whose adorable tiny face I can’t wait to cover in kisses, even if my September 21st due date seems alarmingly close.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend — crafty, flavorful, relaxing, filled with exactly the things it needs to be filled with. That’s the kind of weekend I’m looking forward to, too.

I felt the need to move on from that last post about sad family news…I think as I come out of the fog of confusion about it, I’ve been describing my mental state as, “less like an alien in my own head.” Have you ever felt this way? Well, I’m feeling less like that, more like my old self, even though there’s a lot of emotional support and family time still shoring things up in the background.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to distract myself this week. Crooked, imperfect crafts! Wildly deviant seams! Witness exhibit A, the pair of adorable lopsided handkerchief pillows:

These are destined for the nursery, as some kind of improbable decoration? Doll’s pillow? Random soft object? I’m not quite sure. Do I need a reason for something soft and crafty? Maybe not.

And here is exhibit B, the coaster created with 12 inches of bias tape, a random scrap of fabric to test out some interfacing, and a total and willful disregard for straight lines:

The coaster design will certain not get much perfecting (maybe a scallop stitch? Some creative technique to make the corners neater?) before I make another four or five for our living room. I have a whole pack of sample squares to make the coasters for, and a living room that is in dire need of coasters. I also have no desire to make them much fancier looking than this! You should see the bias tape tag, on the far side of the glass, which is hopelessly crooked.

These are the kinds of beginner crafts that keep my mind occupied in our tv and internet-less house, in those long quiet evenings when there are no new Netflix to watch, and nothing better than puttering around in the sewing office with some music on and a cat napping on my scrap pile.

This weekend I have big plans to finally buy myself a rotary cutter, mat and see-through fabric ruler, so I can tackle the baby’s blanket project (inspired partly by this lovely Waldeck Dry Goods creation), the baby shower blessing banner project, and the million other nesting projects floating around in my head. So more crafty posts are on their way. A little more organized, but probably no less askew. That’s just how I am!

I had planned on writing this week about my recipe for the simple pasta salad, which I brought to a wonderful potluck barbecue on Saturday night, where we hung out with new friends, met some amazing roller derby girls, and sat around a backyard fire as a summer evening slowly set around us. Simple, good times.

But something unexpected happened on Sunday. I woke up early in the morning to a text message from my sister, saying that her ex-boyfriend (and the father of her son, my nephew) had committed suicide late Saturday night. He was a difficult person, in all our lives, someone I had a lot of trouble feeling anything more than animosity and resentment toward, but you never wish for this sort of ending. He left behind not only my two-year old nephew, but his two children from a previous marriage, now 13 and 11, a boy and a girl who we spent a Christmas with before things started to fall apart. I am so sad that they will never know their father when they grow up, and that my little nephew might not have any memory of him at all.

This man’s death is tremendously confusing for all of us. Suicide is necessarily confusing — are we sad for him? Relieved that he is at peace? Regretful at his choice? Angry? — but it’s especially confusing when, in life, he had exhausted nearly every last ounce of goodwill and charity from his friends, family, and roommates.  It’s hard to keep giving and loving someone when they reject goodness. It’s hard to describe him fully. But how do you mourn someone like this? Someone you might have wished would disappear, on many occasions?

In any case, the leftover pasta salad did play a part in this, too. Awoken in the early morning, shocked and saddened and confused, my first instinct as we ran to get dressed and drive over to the house to join my parents and my siblings was must bring food. The universal gesture of mourning. When in doubt, ready food is always welcome. I brought the rest of the huge green bowl of pasta salad, leftover from the barbecue the night before, and it was much welcomed by my family as we tried to go through and figure out this perplexing, confusing, saddening, anguishing turn of events together.

(You can click the photo to visit Flickr and see my recipe for this. It doesn’t seem right to type it out here when I’m writing about something so different in scope and emotion.)

My other contribution for the day was to spend a lot of time with my young nephew when his mom had to go take care of some things, and his grandparents were busy with other tasks. I read him his naptime stories as we snuggled down in his bed together. He fell asleep so peacefully, it was quite a blessing on an otherwise difficult day. Right as he was falling asleep, he turned to me and in his toddler-speak told me the same phrase he’d been repeating all day long, insistently, blue sky up up up. His eyes were half-closed and immediately after, his breath fell into the calm patterns of sleep. As near as we can tell, he wanted to tell us all about the blue sky that is up above the clouds, which you can see through the many skylights in the house. It was a comforting sentiment to hear, however cliche to get wisdom from the mouth of babes. If there’s nothing else solid in a mass of confusing emotions and thoughts, I know I’ll remember those words from that day.

Life seems to move at a lovely languid pace right now. May was hot, and now June has just barely cooled down from more hot weather. The hotter it gets, the slower I move, and simplicity becomes way more appealing. Watermelon for dinner? Yes please. Reading in bed under the fan? Indeed. Sundresses, escaping to the movies, grilled dinners that keep all the cooking-heat outside. That’s what summers are like at our house.

I went to an antique/vintage shop recently, one that I’ve visited many times before, but I’d never before been shopping while knowing I’m having a girl baby. So I made a beeline to the baby clothes, and found this:

A sweet little eyelet-trimmed cotton dress, and a wee little handknit sweater in the softest yarn you can imagine. They were a steal at $9 each. I folded and put them away like this, with the dress inside the sweater, and every so often I find myself wandering into the baby’s room (which right now is still just a collection of boxes) and taking out the dress and sweater, just to look and pet the sweater’s softness, and dream. I can’t wait until my little squirmy drooly wiggly adorable one is inside of it to hug and smother with kisses!

In other news, though we’re still waiting on an IKEA trip to fetch the all-important bookcases that will make our living room more homey and less a box-storage venue, we finally did receive our kitchen hutch. It is this one, from Target’s online-only catalog. I think I looked at exactly one million hutches and dining room storage thingys before I finally settled on this one. Much to our surprise, coming from Target, the construction quality is quite nice (once you get past the profanity-inducing assembly instructions). Here it is, all set up in our dining area, finally:

We left out the wine storage rack that was supposed to be inserted in the bottom middle compartment. As much as I love wine, I don’t think storing breakable bottles at perfect toddler pull-and-smash height is a good long-term solution. Instead I want to find some simple square baskets that will fit on each shelf and store toys, bibs, small tupperware, etc. (Also in this picture you can see our new bamboo roman shades, which I love.)

I’ve been unpacking our various pretty things (candles, decanters, vases, bowls) and trying out arrangements on the shelf and in the cupboards. It’s a work in progress — each time I come home from work and view it afresh, I find something that needs to be moved. Here is one last shot of what it looked like, one or two arrangements ago:

That’s all I have for now. Stay tuned, soon I hope to get some good work done in my workroom and report back on the planning for my possible-crazy letterpress birth announcement project!

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