Category Archives: Holidays

Checking in 2011…

Every year my friend, Dave, has a…………a theme to his New Year’s resolutions. The first year I knew him, it was “more pizazz” (or maybe it was “more fun” – I don’t quite remember.). No details, he just wanted more pizazz/fun in his life.

This was promptly followed up the next year with “safety first”. It seemed appropriate, really.

But the lesson is that he didn’t say that this particular broken habit or that particular new habit would be the measure of success or failure. Lots of things can be considered “more fun” when you think about it – having a whole milk latte over regular coffee, buying a dress instead of just eyeing it, writing a love note with silly song quotes – all considered more fun than the alternative (by me at least), and all within the realm of achieving a yearly resolution of “more fun”.

So, in the spirit of my friend, Dave, I’ve got my own theme this year. It’s kind of corny, but I really feel like it’s something I want to do. Here goes:

Disconnect to do, to see, to make, to bake, cook, read and be more.

What does it mean? From computers and cell phones and iPads and iPods and iTouches and i-(know I’m forgetting other stuff) we’re always connected to – I feel like I am living in an alternative reality sometimes. I also know that those tools keep me in touch with the people I love and like (like you!), so I can’t blame them for this feeling. It’s the whole they know not what they do and all. I blame me.

So how to solve it and keep it simple? Here are some of the things I’ve come up with (but am certainly not limited to):

  • Less time on my phone.
  • Less time on my computer.

What to do with all this time that I’ll hopefully get back?

  • More hand holding with B. Yep, that’s it. This is what can happen when you’re not holding your phone or typing away on your computer.
  • Fewer emails and more real mail. I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked through the box of letters I wrote to my Mom in college. There’s a point when I stopped writing – when emailing became the thing. And I have to tell you, printing out emails just isn’t the same.
  • More baking. I’d especially like to get over my fear of the dreaded pie dough.
  • More cooking. I love to cook, but I hate to cook during the week. I’m thankful that B. will eat cereal with a smile just about any day or time of the week. But I’d like to cook more (really!).
  • More volunteering. This is worthy of a whole other blog post, but more to come on that at the right time.
  • More picture taking. Easy. B. just bought the Leica for me, and I’m so thrilled I carry it around with me everywhere like Linus with his blanket.
  • More making/sewing/creating. I just started a pretty big quilt project, and I’m excited about it. The holidays, and all of the paper cutting and painting and light stringing kind of wore me out on the imagination front, so I’m happy to get back to my regular sewing. Reorganizing my craft room didn’t hurt either.

So that’s it. That’s my hope for 2011. I hope you all had a very nice and happy New Year celebration. My new year was spent sick and napping. Fun times. But things are definitely looking up.

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And life is but…ter cream.

I have to admit I get a lot of joy out of cooking and baking for other people. Although this holiday season hasn’t felt as busy as it has in the past – no big Christmas dinner to plan or party to host  – I was still able to find myself in the kitchen, trying out new things. A few of the new recipes I’ll be adding to my permanent collection are below. Just click on the pictures for the link to the recipe.

As for Christmas, it was nice and quiet – and our sushi was just fine, thank you. The best part? Someone else cleaned up.

Two quick notes about these recipes…
 
The Cream Puffs recipe – it wasn’t available online (dang you, Martha), so I had to route you to another blog that had the recipe laid out. This particular recipe has you making a fancy raspberry cream – scratch that, it’s made with cream cheese and Cool Whip for god’s sake, so I shouldn’t pretend that it’s that special. I will say that you can’t go wrong with those two ingredients, though, so if you want to make yourself a raspberry cream, go right on ahead and whip away. For me, I didn’t make this particular recipe – I decided on two other versions:
  • Cream puffs with buttercream on the inside and bittersweet melted chocolate on the outside
  • Cream puffs with whipped meringue and lemon curd on the inside and powdered sugar on the outside (Try not to eat the lemon curd before you actually use it. In fact, I suggest not opening the jar until the very last minute before you have to add it to the meringue. I’m just saying, there are some things that are really good on a spoon, and lemon curd is one of them.)

After getting a call from my friend, Natalie, at 9:00 in the morning (hello, Natalie!) asking me why the *bleep* didn’t her cream puffs look like mine, I realize that I should give you the same reassuring news I gave her: these are cream puffs, and no matter what size they are, if they’re all the same size or not, people will eat them. It also doesn’t hurt if you have a mechanical pastry bag, which I use all the time. It really helps give you control over what you’re doing. The one from William’s Sonoma is easy to use, and it comes with everything you need to be fancy when the occasion calls for it.

As for the Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake, it was really easy to make. To kind of tone down the chocolate-yness, I added slivered almonds and a bit of sea salt. B. said it was even better the next day, and you can take that to the bank, because his second job is the Official House Cake Taster.

Everyday Food: Cream Puffs

Everyday Food: Cream Puffs

Real Simple Magazine: Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Real Simple Magazine: Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

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Filed under Baking, Holidays, Recipes, Uncategorized

A whole punch of fun.

  

How many of you saw that edition of Ready Made where they had the Paint Chip Orbs as one of their craft projects? It really was a neat little project. Now, how many of you looked at that and thought to yourself – Wow. That’s amazing. Let me get on that, like, asap.

Anyone?

(*Crickets*)

I thought so. Me either. 

Here’s the thing – my friend, Dolores? Well, she’s the one person I know that did see it, loved it, and made it – and she was nice and patient enough to show me how to make them, too. Once you figure out how to keep your fingers from sticking to the paper, or to each other, and your husband smartly suggests using clothespins to keep the whole dang thing together, creating your very own orb/snowflake/snowball will be incredibly easy. And to show you just how easy, I’ve created a tutorial for you right here.

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Be a Handmade Renegade at Renegade Handmade

Tricky wording, right? It’s called “attempt at humor”. It’s Wednesday afternoon, you shouldn’t expect too much at this point. 

Anyway.

This year, I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. Although it isn’t the first time that the RCF has been here, it’s the first time that I’ll have the chance to go. And if you can make it, you should. If you’re not completely sure you want to attend because – and this is a total possibility – you have no idea what I’m talking about…then take a look at their site here, or their blog here. Even if you don’t live here, or anywhere that the craft show is scheduled, you can shop their store online. A-mazing stuff. Amazing. No doubt about it.

Here are a few things I’m adding to my list (Special note to my Mama: Don’t even think about it. That’s right. You heard me.):

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Easter Menu.

                                                               

For Easter, I decided I wanted to have brunch. It’s simpler, and let’s face it, a brunch just screams for a mimosa like a dinner cannot. We had friends and neighbors over, and we even had hidden Easter eggs (which, thanks to the hiding genius of our friend Shelty, we were still finding at 9:00 Sunday night). It was nice, simple and easy.

Easter Menu:

  • Glazed ham (This particular ham came with the glaze, so I didn’t make one like I normally do. Although, in the end, I did deglaze the roasting pan and add a bit of mustard and brown sugar and used that mixture for a ham “sauce”.)
  • Sausage and mushroom strata (Joy of Cooking recipe. I added sage and garlic, and I used a gruyere/swiss cheese blend.)
  • Mini quiches (thanks to Trader Joes)
  • Spinach salad with strawberries, blackberries, figs and caramelized onions with goat cheese. (My recipe, but all of the ingredients are in the name, so no secrets there. All you have to do is add a little vinaigrette and you’re done.)
  • Mixed cheese plate with marinated mini heirloom tomatoes (I just sliced the tomatoes and marinated them in olive oil, balsamic, and basil.)
  • Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake (Bon Appetit recipe, and SO GOOD. I think the secret is the cake flour.)
  • Apple Tart (Joy of Cooking. This looked terrible – I think I did something wrong because the dang thing was so sticky you could hardly eat it.)
  • Waffles (My friends made the mix, but I thought I would add it so you could really enjoy the full brunch affect.)
  • Mimosas!

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Filed under Family, Fun Times., Holidays, Recipes

Two dinners and some shelving.

Today was a good workday, even if I never stepped foot in the office. A few things that got accomplished today?

  • My craft room is finally in order – shelves hung, fabric folded, and random objects all in place. Thank you to Brandon.
  • I cooked not one, but two meals today – so that I won’t have to cook for the rest of the week. Bove’s lasagna and good ole’ red beans and rice (if you’ve never made this, I recommend you give it a try at least once). Bove’s was on a Food Network show (Bobby Flay’s Showdown – ps…I hate it when the locals don’t win), and I really liked the whole family. And their lasagna was just calling to be that extra two pounds on my thighs. I made it somewhat according to the recipe – I didn’t use their brand because we don’t have it here, I used lower fat cheeses, turkey and meatless meatballs and half veggie/half noodles. Good stuff. To top it off, Ed/Nat/Will came over for dinner.
  • I took a nice long walk. It’s supposed to rain all week here, and today was no exception. I wanted to take my usual run, but I settled for a nice long walk. I took my camera along and by the time you read this there should be a Mountain View Cemetary Walk, version 2. It was cloudy, windy, quiet and perfect.
New space.

New space.

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I’m not going to take it anymore…is a national holiday.

“I’m not going to take it anymore” national holiday falls on the 7th of January. Yep, it does. I heard it on NPR and I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.

I’m not sure what I’m not going to take anymore – I tried really hard this morning to think about it while I was on my way into work. Instead, all I could think about was not throwing up. I was taking Casual Carpool, and taking CC means taking chances sometimes. I agree to that every morning. But this woman’s car smelled like the deep, deep, deeeeeeeeeeep inside of a shoe that had been worn by a man with hair on his feet and long yellow toenails – while walking across the desert on a 10 year journey. Visual enough? It was beyond smelly.

And to make matters worse – and this won’t come as a surprise to you – it was dirty. I hate dirty cars, and really I think people should be a little more embarrassed to invite perfect strangers into their cars that have dog hair on the seats, greasy McDonald’s bags on the floor and magnetic toasters taped to their dashboards. Note to driver of said car: the toasters don’t make me think of you as cute or artsy. The toasters, among the trash, make me think you have a much bigger issue.

So in the end, I didn’t think about what I’m not going to take anymore. I certainly can’t NOT take Casual Carpool. Because let’s be honest, I get into the city for free, and I can stand a dirty, smelly car with cat hair any day for a free ride.

But here’s to you, I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore National Holiday – a song I know you’ll like:

Oh, and ps, even if you don’t have anything to not take anymore, there’s also National Tempura Day to celebrate. Really. Really!

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