22 February 2010



Today, this here blog is three years old.  I seriously can't believe that I've been in this space for so long.  I think I write this every year, but really, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this thing.  I barely knew what a blog was.  I had no idea that there was such a strong crafty-blog community. I certainly had no idea what amazing friends I would make because of this space.  Or that my interest in photography would be sparked and take me in a whole new direction.  

I know it might sound silly, but I really think that my life is better because of this space and what it's brought me (um, that would be you all!).  I remember three years ago, sitting on our old dingy couch in the living room in our old apartment.  I was trying to promote my etsy shop (shop...what shop? oh right) and I sort of spontaneously decided I should have a blog.  I really didn't even know what that entailed and I did absolutely no research before just signing up.  Later, I was talking to my mom and I said, "so, yeah, I started a blog?".  I said this last year too, but I really love the fact that I began writing here so soon after moving to Minneapolis because it really gives me such a wonderful way to look back on my time here so far.  Like a scrapbook, but better.

So, in honor of this little anniversary, I'm going to do a little giveaway.  I haven't done one in a while, and frankly, I have no idea what I'll be giving away, so you'll just have to trust me that it's going to be good.  Leave a comment here the end of the weekend, and tell something little (or big!) that's making you happy these days.  And if you want to tell me your favorite thing about this blog, you can feel free to do that too.  I know why I hang on to this space, but it's always nice to hear why you all do too.  I'll pick a lucky winner on Monday!

But seriously, thank you all for being here, for reading my words and supporting my projects and commenting.  If it weren't for you, well, who knows where I'd be.

17 February 2010

i got busy hands

I was realizing recently that I haven't posted about very much craftiness since the beginning of 2010, that is of course, aside from the quilt (which may just count for about a year's worth of craftiness).  Don't think this is because I haven't been getting my craft on, oh I have.  Speaking of the quilt, that project really got me going on handwork, mostly knitting but also some handsewing.  In fact, I think I've only turned on my sewing machine two or three times since we moved into our house at the end of October.  Now that we've finally finished painting my workspace and I can start getting that more set up to be used, I'm sure that will change soon, but still, that doesn't change my new love for handwork. 

The main project I've been stitching away at is a little dishtowel from the Alabama Stitch Book.  I picked this book up almost two years ago and am finally getting to a project in it (I know! It's criminal!).  I knew from the moment I cracked open those beautiful pages that I was going to fall deeply in love with this style of work, and I was definitely right.  I've bookmarked a number of other projects to tackle from this book after I finish my introductory attempt at the dishtowel and I can't wait to move on to something a bit more involved. 

I think Amisha has probably been my biggest Alabama Stitch inspiration, in fact last spring she and I hit up the Alabama Chanin trunk show at Barney's NY where we met (me for the first time) Natalie Chanin.  Looking at all those clothes in person was simply amazing and now thinking back on that, I can't wait to get my hands stitching up something more from this book. 

Oh yeah, Natalie Chanin also has a new book and Erin has a great interview up with her about Alabama Studio Style on her blog today.  (It's all I can do to resist buying this second book until I at least get some more projects from the first one done...)  Check it out!

16 February 2010

The (literal) fruits of my labor

As I write this post, I realize that I never snapped a photo or wrote about my fully stocked basement pantry at the beginning of the fall.  It was chock full of jams, pickles, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes, applesauce, and sliced apples in syrup.  Well, now that we're halfway through winter, some of this stock has been pretty well diminished (just one more quart of tomatoes!), but my stinginess earlier in the fall means that some of it has still been untouched!  

This past weekend, I set about to remedying this and found the perfect  recipe for Apple Rhubarb Crisp, which made the perfect endnote to a delicious dinner I cooked up for Jared's family on Sunday night. 
A note about the recipe: had it not been for my use of canned and frozen fruit, I would have stuck to the original recipe exactly, my modifications were solely based on that.  Also, to accommodate the gluten free among us, I replaced the flour with white rice flour, which worked great if you're among gluten-free folks, though this is not a modification I'd make otherwise.  So, if you're looking for a recipe to use up some of those fruits of your labor earlier in the fall and summer, this is a great one.  I might even add some defrosted strawberries next time...

Apple Rhubarb Crisp, for winter
(adapted from epicurious.com)

for the filling...
2 quarts sliced preserved apples, drained
1 1/2 cups defrosted rhubarb, diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbl flour
1 tsp cinnamon

for the topping... (note: this does not make heaping amounts of topping, so feel free to double this if you like loads of topping on your crisps)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
handful of chopped walnuts
4 Tbl non-dairy margarine (cold, cut into pieces)

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a 9"x13" (or equivalent) baking dish, combine all filling ingredients and mix well.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine all topping ingredients except the margarine.  Stir well, and work in margarine with your hands or a fork.  Spread topping over fruit mixture.  Bake for 1 hour or more, until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling at the edges of the pan.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.  This is also delicious for breakfast the next day, if you have any leftovers...

PS: My friend Mary is having a raffle over at her shop to support a great agency serving homeless men in Chicago, where her husband works.  The winner gets this amazing Owl pillow (and I can tell you from personal experience that Mary's work is seriously awesome).  Check it out!

11 February 2010

enjoying winter

It's right about now when winter can really start to drag on.  I wrote last week that I was really going to try not to let that happen this year.  So, inspired by Shari's list today, and MAV and Stephanie's post last week, I'm going to mention a few things that have been making me happy.  I've been having some pretty grumpy days lately, so hopefully listing out these little happymaking things will help me (and maybe you too!) keep these in the front of my mind...

:: lots of hot baths with rose and chamomile bubble bath

:: flannel sheets

:: washing the dishes to warm up (Shari mentioned this one too, and it made me smile that I wasn't the only one thinking this!)

:: getting back into yoga, and having a friend to go with me

:: that one pound block of beeswax I just picked up yesterday, and all my project ideas that go along with it

:: a new baby to snorgle with.  and his adorable, rowdy older brothers to wrestle with.

:: sunny blue skies, even when it's bitter cold

:: lots and lots of baking, and generally trying new recipes

:: knitting, knitting, and more knitting

:: slowly getting our house put together

What's been making you happy this winter?  I could sure use some more suggestions!

07 February 2010

i've been baking

It would seem that I've settled into my new kitchen quite comfortably. Everything is starting to find its own little place and a nice rhythm has been established. I will admit that I'm quite liking it.

After a colossal flop of a loaf of bread a couple of weeks ago, (just so you don't think things always go right around these parts) I've returned to the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipes. Erin has been going mad with this book, as well as the newer one, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I think I wrote before, when I first got the book, about my thoughts but that was a while ago so I'll repeat myself. I'll admit that these recipes aren't necessarily my favorite and maybe unlike most people, I actually enjoy the long process of bread making...the kneading, the rising, the kneading, the rising, the waiting, the shaping. But, for working folks like myself, being able to come home from work at 5pm and have a fresh loaf of bread ready by dinnertime is practically a miracle. And that part of it, I just love.

In addition to the breadmaking, I've been in full on baking mode. I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I pretty much need some kind of baked good every day. Whether it's a cookie or something sweet like that, or even just a muffin or bread. I spend most of my day sitting at a desk, so around 2pm I usually need a little treat. Last week, I made a big batch of gingerbread flax muffins, which were amazing! (Side note: I doubled the recipe because I didn't think 6 muffins would be enough, but I ended up getting 16! Maybe mine are smaller that Isa's but, just a word to the wise, I think this makes more than she claims).

This week, the treat has been apple bread. I had one giant apple left over from a big bag of Haralson's that I snagged at the bargain shelf a few weeks ago and it was probably a little past its prime for eating. Perfect for bread.  This recipe is adapted from the one in Enchanted Broccoli Forest, which I first discovered in my college days.  I remember first making this when I lived in the co-op house (which I know I've written about here before) and diligently copying the recipe down into my little "cookbook" later on that year so I could save it.  I'm so glad I did that.

Apple Bread (adapted from Enchanted Broccoli Forest)

1 large apple, grated and peeled (about 1-1.5 cups)
3 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbl melted non-dairy margarine
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 Tbl ground flaxseed
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine apple, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Stir in brown sugar, margarine, applesauce, and ground flax.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly add in apply mixture.  Add in vanilla extract and chopped nuts.  Stir until combined, but don't over-mix.  Pour into the loaf pan and top with cinnamon sugar if you like.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes before serving.  This is still good later in the week toasted with a bit of soft margarine spread.  mmmm. Enjoy!

01 February 2010

hello sweet february

If you've been around this blog for a few years, you may recall that February is, in fact, not my favorite month. Often it's because I'm beginning to grow tired of the cold winter weather and am just longing for spring (which is of course still months away!). I usually try to be very intentional about combating these February blues by paying extra attention to little things that make me happy.

Well, on this first day of February, at just before 8:30am, there is already no shortage of things making me happy to start the month off. At the top of this happy list is yet another calendar from Shanna and me! Since we began this little project with our autumn calendar back in September, we have really enjoyed working on these and sharing them with you all (and we hope you've enjoyed them too!).

This month, as usual, we've paired some of my polaroid photos with Shanna's beautiful illustration and hand lettering. We're also offering two of the photos/illustrations individually if you're not in the mood for a calendar, but would like to brighten up your desktop anyways. Just download the photos and set them as your desktop (please, these are for personal use only!). Also, if you've missed out on any of our past collaborations, you can check them out on Shanna's archive page.

Finally, I've got one other itty bitty little gift for you all (see how good I am with the happymaking today?!). I've been doing a lot of walking this winter. On those bitter cold, the walks are pretty quiet, with hardly anyone else around. I've been filling my head with some lovely tunes on these walks, and I made this little mixtape of some of those tunes. Hope you like them!

Enjoy, friends! And happy February.