holiday soap

Now that the gifts have been opened, it's time for show and tell!

I wasn't super productive this year in the gift department (I was quite happy to let baby items kind of dominate the crafting around here this year), but lots of folks on our list received my first effort at handmade glycerin soap. Let me tell you, this was one crafty project that was so much fun, I think it might become an annual event.

This year's concoctions included earl gray, lemon rooibos and poppy seeds, cinnamon and clove, mint and chamomile, and oatmeal honey. Super fun!

I followed the instructions from Martha's holiday edition on handmade gifts from a year or two ago, but the process is very simple. It involves melting down the glycerin (found at craft or art supply stores), then adding stuff straight out of the cupboard -- teas, spices, honey, etc -- then pouring them into molds (yogurt containers work great, no need to use vaseline like most instructions say to do) and finally letting them cool for an hour or so.


mac n' cheese with cauliflower

I know I've shared a mac and cheese recipe before, but this one is better. Plus, it's got cauliflower, so you can feel good about eating your veggies at the same time as all that carby cheesy goodness.

The last time I made it (when this badly coloured photo was taken), I stashed some in the freezer for these first weeks with the baby -- so glad I did! It froze very well and we enjoyed it the other night with some green leafy veggies. 'Twas a perfect comfort food meal for the sleep-deprived.

mac n' cheese with cauliflower
Serves 6
Adapted from Real Simple

12 ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 - 1 1/2 C breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt and black pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 - 2 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1-2 Tbs Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil the pasta until done, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta and cauliflower.

Meanwhile, combine breadcrumb with parsley, a couple tablespoons of the oil, and pinches of salt and pepper.

In the same pot as you boiled your pasta, heat on medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, another pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft. Add pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard. Mix well.

Put into a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake until they are golden brown (about 15 mins).


new arrival

I've never been a reliable blogger,
but now I have a good excuse!



December 1st is right around the corner, which means it's advent calendar season!

Even though I've given away two advent calendars, I still have just plans for my own. Not sure whether I'll do another stocking one (or mini knitted toques or mittens or...) or whether I'll try something different. This round-up of 30 advent calendars gave me a few more ideas to toss around.

My favourites were this house and ornaments one, the one made of beautiful (and sentimental) cards, and this page-a-day one for the fridge (but I don't think I'd want to remake one every year...)

Good thing December 1st comes around every year so I can be reminded to dream up grand schemes for my own perfect count-down calendar.


cozy cabin socks

These are for the MIL for xmas -- the aptly named 'log cabin socks' from Handknit Holidays. The recommended yarn was so incredibly soft, warm, and beautiful in the light ash blue, that I didn't even bother hunting down a suitable substitute. This is probably one of the few times I've used the yarn in a pattern, since I usually try to use something from the stash (feeling lazy) or find an 'on sale' option (feeling frugal).

One down... one to go...


pumpkin bread

I've got Christmas on the brain. But before I get so far into thinking about upcoming holiday goodies that it hardly feels like the season for pumpkin, may I recommend a moist pumpkin bread?

Sorry, I'm not sure where this recipe came from -- copied from somewhere on a scrap of paper.

pumpkin bread
1 loaf

2 C all-purpose flour
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1 C packed brown sugar
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ground nutmeg
1/2 teas ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/2 C butter, melted
1/3 C pure maple syrup
1 C canned unsweetened pumpkin (or pureed, fresh steamed pumpkin)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3" loaf pan and set aside.

Mix flour, powder, soda, salt, sugar, and spices in large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, syrup and pumpkin. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and fold together. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Carefully turn out onto wire rack and let cool a bit before serving. Serve warm or room temperature.


yay for handmade holidays!

I love November. It's awesome for many reasons, but for the third year in a row, I'm loving the fact that November is when the Sew Mama Sew blog churns out great crafty gift ideas every single day.

Head on over. I already want to make the incredibly cute and edible pie in a jar and also this top for next summer.


t-shirt tote

You know when you see something so simple and you think why didn't I think of that? Yeah. Case in point.

I must be secretly wanting to rip apart my wardrobe and make stuff because I usually think projects that use worn-out threads are nifty -- like those baby onesies or any of the refashioning projects in this lady's fun archive. It appeals to my reduce and reuse mantra.

Do you know of any good ideas for reinventing tired clothes?


cozy chenille for sofa bed

I actually finished this chenille throw a couple of weeks ago. There's not much time for sewing or creative cooking these days, because we're in the throws of home renovations. We're ripping out the 15-year old white carpet (yuck!) that came with our new place and putting down laminate -- it's looking and feeling great, but it's kind of chaotic around here and will be for the next couple of weeks... at which point we'll start painting. =)

When we moved, we got a cool sofa bed for Jeff's study/our den/to-be baby's room, but it needed more than a patchwork pillow. This throw will be perfect for when we need a corner to curl up in, but also it doubles as a coverlet for when the sofa is disguised as a bed. It kind of bugs me that it's not quite long enough to be a proper quilt, but I'm hoping no one really notices. I love the warmth of it -- the chenille and cotton combo is a great weight.

This is the first time I used such big pieces of fabric for my quilt top -- it came together so quickly!


zucchini fennel soup

Here's another recipe to utilize the great zucchini crop of '09.

The fennel and lemon are very subtle and lovely in this. I even added a bit of the lemon water that the fennel is cooked in back into the pot with the broth (original recipe just said to toss it) and it was just lemony enough.

zucchini fennel soup
(from Food and Wine)

1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced 1/2-1/4" thick
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Olive oil
4-5 zucchini, sliced crosswise 1-4" thick
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 C chicken or veggie stock
Salt and pepper

In large saucepan, put fennel, lemon juice, pinch of salt, and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until fennel is tender when pierced (about 10-15 mins). Drain off water. (Reserve a bit of the lemon water if you'd like.)

In same pot, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add zucchini, season with salt, and saute over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until just softened (10 mins or so.) Add stock, lemon water if using, and cooked fennel and bring to a boil. Simmer until vegetables have softened completely (another 10 mins.)

Remove from heat. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return soup to the pot, reheat/season if necessary. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with croutons, a bit of sour cream or creme fraiche, or fennel fronds.

*I'm trying to see how freezing zucchini works for me this year -- I have some grated for zucchini bread, but I'm thinking I should slice some as well to have at the ready for this soup.


scrappy pillow

I love those creative moments when you can just feel the light going on in your head. Why didn't I think of this oh-so-simple idea before?! Or maybe it's not a matter of thinking of the idea, but being inspired--and having the time and energy--to actually engage.

I had one of those moments about the bag-full of scraps I had sewn together into random-length strips months and months ago -- a pillow!

I enjoyed getting lost in these fabrics for an afternoon. I just 'cut and paste' the strips together in a log cabin-like circle until it fit over the extra pillow form I had kickin' around.

The back is made up of two overlapping panels of light-weight denim.

I recently saved Andy from the thrift shop. He may be Raggedy, but I was super stoked to find him in such great shape. Ever wonder why those swiggly lines are beneath his eyes?



I know I gave you this link for reusable sandwich wraps, but now I have to give this one too -- reusable snack baggies! How sweet are they?! I might have to make up a couple of these for the emergency trail mix I tote around.

And if we're on the subject of lunch, here's a cute lunchbag.


babes in space

I love this rocket fabric -- there's even a boy in a bubble!

Makes for a great flannel-backed blanket for the babe.


canning jam among boxes

Although my freezer is full of berries, I kind of missed the boat on strawberry season this year. But a few weeks ago, in the middle of our move, the farmers' market had the last of the local strawberries and I snatched up a few pounds. The taste of summer is in these two small batches of jam -- one batch of just strawberry and one of strawberry and rhubarb.


trolling the interwebs for inspiration

Some links to help you waste some time today... because most of us are procrastinating from something.

I want this book! Check out that sweet hooded cardigan (the one with the babe looking out the window) And here is a free pattern for the little pixie hat -- super cute.

Cute Kimono shoes -- a free pattern from Aimee Larsen

Some owly love from Moonstitches via Indifixx

I'm still wanting to try embroidering something. These free Sarah Jane Studios patterns would be a good place to start.

Here are a ton of ideas for stuff you can make with just a bit of fabric -- collected tutorials for fat quarter projects. I could be busy with these for a long time.

I love the look of this quilt. I know these kind of tiny, busy patchworks run the risk of looking country, but this one is more cozy than country to me. I think I know what I'll be doing with some of my scraps.

This list of civility is great. How can we bring back some of these?? I love that they are having their kids learn them via a penmanship lesson. Hilarious.

Plastic sandwich baggies gettin' you down? You could try a cool reusable one.

Here is a hilarious blog of 'awkward family photos'

And one that compiles passive aggressive notes. Ah, takes me back to the ol' days when I lived with annoying roommates (not you, Glenda!)

And in case I'm not the only one thinking about Christmas...

A half-eaten gingerbread ornament for your tree

And how about making some of these crazy glove/mitten things for someone on your list -- "These odd looking creations provide the warmth of a mitten, with the dexterity of a glove." Ha!

Here's a really cool quilted advent calendar, but man-oh-man that looks like a ton of work. I think I'll just buy the funky christmas prints and do something easier.

Anyone you know need a good laptop cover? This one from oh fransson is neat.

Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


breaded pork with pan-roasted tomatoes

I've never been one for the other white meat. It's not that I don't dig on swine. That's not it, 'cause I agree that bacon tastes good. But pork chops? I'll pass. Too dry.

But apparently, if you add breading, pork is quite tasty! Keeps the moisture in? Adds crunchy coating? -- whatever it is, I like it. Try this recipe and let me know if you agree...

breaded pork cutlets with pan-roasted tomatoes
adapted from Real Simple

4 pork cutlets - I used boneless pork shoulder, pounded to even thickness, about 1/4 inch
1/4 C flour
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 C dry bread crumbs
2-3 teas salt
black pepper to taste
olive oil
6-8 Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise into wedges
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves

In three shallow bowls, have 1) flour 2) beaten egg 3) bread crumbs, parsley, pepper and a dash of salt.

Dip each cutlet in the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs and put on wire rack. Chill breaded pork in fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or about 10 minutes.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook cutlets, in batches if necessary, until golden and cooked through. If necessary, add more oil when you turn over (the breadcrumbs don't 'golden up' very well with no moisture.) Transfer to a plate to rest.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and add tomatoes, vinegar and thyme. Cook tomatoes about 7-8 minutes. Return pork to the pan to warm. Serve.

I served mine with just a simple spaghetti aglio et olio, or spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. Basically, saute up a 2-3 cloves of minced garlic with a dash of red pepper flakes in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook pasta, drain it, and then toss with olive oil mixture, chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt, and fresh parmesan. This was delicious with the pan-roasted tomatoes.


another sweater for a special wee one

I finished another baby sweater, this one the baby sophisticate pattern available free on Stockinette. I was inspired by SouleMama's cutie in his green grampie version.

Can I just say how much I love patterns that require hardly any finishing at the end?! Well, I do. This one is knit in one piece -- so simple and satisfying -- yet the collar makes it stinkin' cute.

And yes, it's going to be for our special wee one -- due at the beginning of December!

Kind of explains all the baby crafting here happening over the past several months. =)

Speaking of which, tonight, I whipped up a very simple double-layer flannel blanket number. I just loved this blue and rose fabric -- I swear my grandparents must have had matching pajamas out of this material because I just picture them -- and can almost smell cinnamon and woodsmoke -- when I look at it.


gone packin'

Even more berries are in the freezer now -- this week I brought home raspberries and blackberries from the farmers' market. And 4 pounds of Okanagan cherries are now six 1/2-pints of canned cherries. (I love canned cherries and toast when I'm illin' in flu season.)

But you'll just have to take my word for it since we packed away my camera cord already. Oops.

Not much cooking worth mentioning is happening during the week these days -- we're just using up odds and ends. Beans on toast, anyone?

I may disappear for a couple weeks while we move and settle. By then, I should have crafty things for show and tell.


blueberry season

We bought a condo! To experience sealing the deal for the first time was a bit stressful, but very exciting.

We're in moving mode now: we've started packing up our books and dishes, and we're trying to use up all the goods in the pantry and freezer so that we don't have to lug extra foodstuffs across town. With one exception.

You see, our new place is complete with not only in-suite laundry (a much-anticipated first for us), but it also has a deep freezer! So at the same time as I'm using up my nuts and flour, I am re-filling my small freezer with get-'em-before-they're-gone fruits and veggies.

Exhibit A: 10 lovely pounds of fresh, local blueberries.


dick and jane

I'm diggin' primary coloured quilts these days. Here's one I just finished. It's backed with a soft fleece.

Hope you're enjoying summer!


chicken and sage tortellini

Wondering what to do with ground chicken? Just add won ton wrappers for homemade tortellini!

I now have a few dozen tortellini in my freezer, waiting to be boiled up and eaten with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan. Mmmm.

chicken and sage tortellini
serves 3-4

won ton wrappers
1/2 lb ground chicken
7-10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced

Mix together well the chicken, sage, garlic and a few dashes of salt.

To make the tortellini, take a wrapper in the palm of your hand, add a spoonful of the chicken mixture to the center, and then dip your finger in water. Run your damp finger along two edges of the wrapper and then seal in a triangle, pinching up the sides. Then pinch together the two far corners and bend back the third corner. Don't worry -- after making a few, you really get into a rhythm. While you're working with one wrapper, make sure to keep the rest under a damp cloth. And have a little dish of water to dip your finger into.

Either boil and enjoy right away or freeze for later. To freeze, lay them individually on a cookie sheet. (I dusted the sheet with a little flour 'cause I was afraid they might stick.) Once they were frozen, I threw them together in a ziplock bag.


baby band tshirts

Who doesn't have ol' tshirts lying around? It seems pretty simple to downsize 'em for a rockin' recycled baby gown. Although I don't know if we need another generation of Guns n' Roses fans...


city quilt, built

I love this quilt. I worked on it a while ago and then let it drop to the bottom of the stack of WIPs. But now it's finished -- and it's one of my favourites. Mostly because of that cute frog.

It was pretty quick to finish once I had the top done and embroidered. I did the ol' right sides together trick with batting on top, turned it inside out and then top-stitched. Simple.

I used a polyester batting so I could get the high loft I wanted and I could space the zitzits 6-7 inches apart. Not sure what to call them because instead of tying, I used the zig zag stitch on the shortest length and widest width (same way I made that turtle blanket.) Makes for a neat baby-safe connection. If you ever need a quick baby gift, I highly recommend the method.


chicken apple sausage

Whoa. That was kind of a long unplanned hiatus from this place. Well, welcome back! I've made chicken apple sausages for the occasion.

If you want to make these more breakfasty, try adding a dash of cinnamon.

chicken apple sausage
serves 2 (adapted from a Martha recipe)

1/2 lb ground chicken
1 small granny smith apple, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
about 10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. In oven proof frying pan, saute the onions in a little olive oil, until translucent. Add the apple pieces and saute for a few more minutes, until slightly soft.

In medium bowl, combine the chicken, sage, salt & pepper, and the onion-apple mixture.

Form mixture into four patties and place in hot frying pan, prepped with a little olive oil again. Brown both sides for a few minutes each, and then place in hot oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.

We enjoyed ours with some mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. Its starting to really feel like summer 'round here.


pasta logic

In Italy, there's an unwritten code for what pasta goes with what types of sauce. Like language, the best method of learning this pasta culture is immersion. Only because the rules seem a little arbitrary and silly if you just read about them. But if you can taste the difference, and you can see the way certain sauce clings to different shapes, then pairing garlic and oil with a light angel hair, but pairing alfredo with thicker noodles like fettucini makes perfect sense. (It also helps to have a host mom that just shakes her head in disgust at your untrained suggestions...)

Usually I just go from memory of what my host mom did, but Chow has this great cheat sheet!

And while we're on the subject of pasta, if you've been tempted to make your own, here is a video to help.

creamy sausage veggie pasta -
sauteed garlic, red peppers, zucchini, and sweet sausage
tossed with spaghetti, a little pasta water, cream, and parmesan


drunk crisp

Happy May Day!

Pretty soon it won't be crisp season any more -- my summertime desserts are more along the lines of simple fresh fruit. And in the meantime, well, what is a springtime dessert? It doesn't feel quite right to make a baked apple anything when the weather is teasing us every few hours... cupcakes maybe?

But while we're still bundling up at night and waiting for fresh berries, I'll share this recipe for apple, prune and brandy crisp.

drunk apple and prune crisp
serves 4 (originally from Gourmet magazine)

1/2 C brandy
1 C pitted prunes, halved
2/3 C flour
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 teas salt
1/8 teas cinnamon
2/3 C old-fashioned oats
6 McIntosh apples (or a mixture of sweet and sour apples)
vanilla ice cream, of course

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring brandy to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in cut prunes and let stand while making topping.

Mix flour, 6 Tbs brown sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon together until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Food processor works great so you don't melt the butter with your fingers.) Add oats and stir to just combine.

Peel, quarter, and core apples and cut into 1/2" wedges. Transfer apples to a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish and toss with prune mixture and remaining 2 Tbs brown sugar.

Sprinkle topping evenly over filling and bake in middle of oven until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling (about 30 mins.)

I tend to like my crisp cold, the next morning, but enjoying it warm with vanilla ice cream is a close second.


googly eyes

Ha! Check out this "what can you make with a..." series from The Crafty Crow. Some good ol' fashioned arts n' crafts inspiration à la Amy Sedaris.


some times you feel like a nut...

We began the evening with a malty Rogue hazelnut brown ale, and then enjoyed this easy nutty pasta for dinner...

broccoli and walnut orecchiette

from Real Simple, Feb 09
serves 4

3 C orecchiette pasta
1-2 bunches (1.5 lbs) broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 C walnuts, roughly chopped
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 C grated parmasan

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the broccoli florets, walnuts, oil, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once or twice, until the broccoli is tender (20 mins.)

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Reserve 3/4 C of the pasta water before draining. Return to pot.

Toss the pasta with the butter, the broccoli mixture and slowly add a little of the reserved pasta water. (You may only use 1/4 C, or may need more if it still seems dry.) Sprinkle with lots of freshly grated parmesan and serve.


urban homesteading: chicken

I used to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. Oh the money I could've saved! In the last few years, I've gotten into preparing my own cuts of chicken -- all it took was a big sharp knife.

Actually, it took a little imperative. When we decided to only buy happy chickens that hadn't done drugs, I thought I'd better find a way to get our money's worth.

Nowadays it's just part of the routine -- once every couple of months I go buy a couple chickens to make up some stock and to put wings, thighs, and breasts into our freezer. On average, we enjoy about 9 meals out of those 2 chickens (not counting leftovers): 4 quarts of stock (one quart has all the chicken off the soup bones), 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks, 2 whole breasts, and 2 breasts cut into pieces and bagged separately.

I have to laugh at myself (and my, ahem, competitive nature.) When I read a teaser for an economizing article in Gourmet, 'learn how to stretch 2 chickens to 16 servings,' I scoffed. "Whatever, I can get at least 18!" Whoever said life isn't a game to win?!

I am reminded of my grandma being proud of using every bit of butter from the wrapper. The important thing was that it was more butter than her neighbor got, who just threw out the wrapper without even scraping it with a spatula (if you can even imagine!)

Thriftiness is fun for me because it requires a bit of competition. Getting the deal. Making things stretch further than last time. I'm just glad I don't have to compete against my grandma.


a little inspiration...

Feeling like making something? Here are a few things to consider...

* an ultra soft checkerboard lace scarf
* these adorable kimono baby booties
* make a fabric egg for Easter -- or better yet, one with a secret pocket
* a cape for the superhero in your life
* a new spring handbag
* or a bag with sling capabilities
* these cute ponytail scarves make me wish I had long hair
* some shoe bags for your next trip
* I know Christmas is a loooong way away, but doesn't this tree skirt (scroll down) look fun?! (it's the buttons that are doin' it for me)
* if you need a project to last you the next 10 years, how about recreating this selvedge dress
* not into fabric or fiber? how about paper fortune cookies
* or a terrarium!


tomato, chickpea, and roasted red pepper soup

I know it feels like I just posted a soup, but I just gotta give you this one too. I'm sorry I don't have a better picture for you, but I promise it's delicious nonetheless. A little spicy and very tasty.

tomato, chickpea, and roasted red pepper soup

(I changed up this Martha recipe)
serves 4

2 garlic cloves, minced
a scant 1/2 teas red-pepper flakes
1/2 teas cumin
course salt
a couple Tbs olive oil
1 can 19-oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups roughly cut canned plum tomatoes, with juice
1 roasted red pepper*, roughly chopped
4 cups chicken stock
sour cream for garnish

*Don't bother with the jarred variety -- making your own roasted peppers is really simple. Either place your pepper over an open gas flame or under the oven broiler until it is blackened on all sides. Once it's blackened, seal it up in a bag and let the pepper steam for 10-15 minutes, until the skin seems like it would slip right off. Using a paring knife, peel off the blackened skin, cut it open, remove the seeds and roughly chop.

In a small bowl, mix garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, and a pinch of course salt together. Use the the back of a small spoon to crush into a paste.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic mixture, and cook until softened, a few minutes. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and stock. Simmer, stirring often for about 15 minutes.

Let cool a bit and then puree soup in a blender. Rewarm, if necessary. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Optional -- Enjoy leftovers at work and momentarily forget you're among a room full of coworkers as you audibly mmmmm over your yummy soup.


repurposed, remade

I am really enjoying this woman's ability to breathe new life into her old clothes (my faves are how she saved her cardigan and how she turned a kid's scary jumpsuit into a cute handbag.)

Since I got my sewing machine, I haven't really been tempted to make my own clothes. I'm quite happy with quilting. But when I see how a few simple measures can create an entirely new item, it makes me kind of excited to raid my closet and delve into the world of repurposing and remaking.


carrot and coriander

It's been a while since I posted a soup recipe. And that's not at all reflective of how much soup we eat around here. It's just so warm and easy, who wouldn't want to eat it several nights a week? (probably my husband, for one, but he's too polite to say anything)

Well this carrot soup is one of our ol' standbys. It's great for the days when practically all we have in the fridge is a bag of carrots.

Try substituting basil for cilantro -- yumm.

carrot cilantro soup
4 servings

olive oil
8 large carrots, peeled and grated
about 1 C fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
4-6 C chicken or veggie broth
1/2-1 C milk or a swig of cream -- optional, but adds a nice creaminess

Grate the carrots into a medium saucepan. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil and put over medium heat. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the carrots change colour slightly. Add enough broth to cover the carrots and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stir in the cilantro and simmer another few minutes. Run the hot soup through a blender to puree. Finally, add a bit of milk and reheat, if necessary.


lo snack: yogurt with berries and toasted hazelnuts

In Italy, they say lo snack. No kidding. The Italian language, like any modern language, imports words, and often the words take the article 'lo'... I guess, to make it more Italian sounding. Lo scooter. Lo stress. Lo snack. Well I, for one, got a kick out of asking for lo snack.

And since we're on a bit of a travelogue... the origin of today's featured snack is from my time in New Zealand. While I was there, I lived as a WWOOFer (I knew it as 'willing workers on organic farms' but the organization has apparently changed its acronym to 'world wide opportunities on organic farms') for a while on Banks Peninsula. Between chopping firewood and tending the gardens, I learned a few food tricks from my host, who was an amazing neighborhood gossip and chef.

Her style was kind of rustic French -- lots of whole foods served on wooden cutting boards. Delicious. Before the steaks seared with fresh blackberries and maple syrup, and loaves upon loaves of bread, she served me this picturesque treat for breakfast: a bowl of warm berries, a bowl of cold plain yogurt, and a handful of freshly toasted hazelnuts, rolling around on a wooden board with a cloth cocktail napkin tucked under a tarnished silver spoon. I felt like a queen.

To recreate this simple but tasty fare, heat a small handful of frozen berries (I use my handy microwave) and top with yogurt, plain or vanilla. Meanwhile, quickly toast a handful of hazelnuts under the broiler. Pour nuts over yogurt and buon appetito!


crispy crackers

Remember these? I've made them before. And keep getting requests to make them again...


jonesin' for my stamps

I haven't played with my rubber stamps for a while, but this creative lady sure makes me want to!! Check out her 'hand-carved stamp tutorial.'

pucker up

Can anyone help me out here??

How in the world do you stop seams from puckering at the intersections of a quilt? Is it happening because I don't baste well enough? In a perfect world there would be no excess fabric between seams, but I have yet to have absolutely no slack on both sides. So if anyone has any pointers on preventing this look, I'm all ears!


skies are gray

A surprise. She loved it. I knew she would.
That makes us both happy.

- front -

- back -

- close ups -