Saturday, May 30, 2009

Busy as a Bee

Here is a peak at what I've been up to this week.

A soft red block for a friend's group afghan. The yarn is Comfort by Berroco and the pattern is from the Great American Afghan booklet.

A simple cotton sundress. I still need to add the ties to the waist and then it will fit better.

A banana cheese cake, from this recipe. Unfortunately I think I undercooked it because its too soft. It was my first attempt at making cheesecake.

A loaf of oatmeal bread that turned out quite yummy and perfect with a bit of honey as a breakfast bread.

A sweater for my mug using handspun yarn and pattern from DaniDo's etsy shop. And I have enough yarn left over to make a second one for some of my mugs that are a bit thinner. I think that the great color and texture of the handspun yarn looks really nice with the handthrown mug!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's CSA Box

Tuesdays are always so fun because on Tuesday afternoon we get our weekly CSA box. Around 4:30pm I drive downtown, take a few turns into one of the historic neighborhoods and waiting on a big wrap around porch is a pile of boxes. According to the farmer, the house (and the porch) are owned by a friend of his whom he pays in produce for the use of his porch for pick ups.

Today's box is very interesting. It contains romaine lettuce, strawberries, white globe radishes, an onion, swiss chard, regular chard, spinach and fennel. The lettuce will be used in salads, and maybe the fennel too. The chard we've had before and spinach we can always find a use for. But what about those radishes?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Homemade Hummus

With all this homemade bread I decided it was time to try something to put on the bread. We've enjoyed store bought hummus and I'd heard it was easy to make. So I borrowed a recipe from a gal on Plurk, put all the ingredients in my Magic Bullet and, ta-da, hummus! Chris really likes it but I think the bite from the raw garlic is a little strong, so next time I think I'd roast the garlic first. I'd also like to try it with roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes. And once the hot peppers in the garden are ready to pick Chris wants to make some spicy hummus.

Basic Hummus Recipe

1 can of chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water

Its the perfect amount to go into one of the larger blender cups for the Magic Bullet, but if you don't have one of those any food processor would do fine.

A New Table Cloth

Its been years since we have had a table. There just wasn't room when we lived in apartments. And when we decided to move into a house that's one of the things I was really looking forward to- a kitchen table where we can eat but also where I can just sit and do things during the day. There is a wall of windows looking out into the backyard, so it really is an ideal place to sit and work on the computer or whatever. Kelly loaned us her table and its perfect for the space. It doesn't take up too much space usually but has an extra leaf so we can seat 6 for when we have company over. And its in great shape so it doesn't really "need" a table cloth. But since I a) have a table and b) am enjoying sewing again of course I need to make it one. So I picked up some simple blue and white gingham on sale yesterday and today I cut it out into a big circle. Now it just needs the edge turned under and a good pressing. I even have enough fabric left over to make matching napkins. Its a bit plain though. I wonder if I should try to find a simple trim to go around the edge. Blue or white ric-rac or something like that.

Sewing Projects

Because of Memorial day, the fabric store was having a good sale today and I took advantage of it. And as soon as I got home and the fabric was all washed and pressed I got to work. And of course Avi helped out some.

As soon as I saw it I fell in love with the bright, fun green fabric. Once I looked at the bolt end I realized that it was no surprise that it caught me eye since its a Robert Kaufman print, and his fabrics always appeal to me for some reason. Since one of the projects I was shopping for as an apron, I thought that the cupcake print would be perfect. This project was cut out and sewn together in no time at all. Unfortunately I ran out of brown thread with only the pockets left to sewn on and the bottom edge to turn under. I'll try to remember to get Chris to take a photo of me wearing it soon since it looks rather shapeless spread out on the floor. The pattern is Simplicity 2932- I used the pieces for view D, but with pockets instead of the contrast lines in the skirt.

I also picked up several yards of this great dark brown/olivegreen/blue cotton print for a sundress. In this photo I'm zoomed in pretty close- from a regular viewing distance the print is fairly small. The solid olive green will be used for the band across the waist and the tie in the back. I over estimated how much fabric I'd need since I didn't have my pattern with me, but I think I'll use the extra fabric for another apron. I'll be using the same sundress pattern that I've used before- Simplicity 4220. Its nothing too exciting, but easy to wear and comfortable.

A few weeks ago I picked up several yards of this beautiful rose pink embroidered cotton fabric. Its very light weight with fine gold and dark rose embroidery. The flash on the camera makes the embroidery look more glitzy than it really is- in person its fairly subtle. I'm going to make a long skirt with this fabric to wear to some of the weddings I'm invited to this summer. Several of the weddings are relatively casual and/or outside, so a pretty skirt with a nice top and some nice jewelry should work well.

Happy Homemaker

Now that I have space, I'm having a lot of fun learning some new things and going back to an old hobby. I am trying to learn how to cook. Its not something I enjoy because I get frustrated easily, but I've been trying to prepare more meals myself and pay more attention to what Chris is doing when he is fixing food so that I can learn from him. We signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this spring and so every week we get a box full of fresh produce. We never know what the box will contain, and there have been many veggies that are new to us-- radishes, arugula, kale, etc. Its been a fun challenge to find recipes for them! I'm going to try to post to the blog at least once a week with a photo of our box and the meals we have made/ recipes we have used. You can see photos of some of the boxes we've received already here.

Though cooking is a challenge for me, I've always enjoyed baking. I don't do much of it, though, because most things that are baked aren't terribly healthy. Cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. But this summer I've started baking bread. I always assumed that bread would be hard to make. So much kneading and making sure that the dough is placed in the perfect spot and the right temperature. But then I discovered this great book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and it makes bread making SO easy and SO approachable. And bread is something that we would be eating anyway- we'd just be spending more on it at the store and wouldn't have control over the ingredients. And even though yes, its got a fair share of calories, most breads aren't unhealthy, especially if used for a sandwich or to replace a less healthy snack (like cookies or chips). Since I got the book a month ago I've been making bread several times a week-- sometimes even every day! I've posted some photos here.

Another new thing is the garden. I've always wanted to be a gardener but since we've lived in apartments for the last 5 years I haven't been very successful. In case you are wondering, hot peppers do very well in window boxes but tomatoes do not! We have hot peppers (because we've had success with them in the past!), tomatoes, squash and herbs. Chris is like a nervous parent- checking them every day for bugs and worrying about every little change. So far we've used clippings from the rosemary, thyme and basil in stew, bread and other meals, and Chris has mentioned using some of the mint for mojitos. Hopefully we'll eventually have something we can eat from the veggetable plants, too!

The new/old hobby I mentioned earlier is sewing. In a past life, or so it feels to me, I did a lot of sewing. Kind of like how I am now with knitting. I sewed everything, all the time. For pleasure and for pay. But then I burned out and I stopped. Cold turkey. And since then the only sewing I've done was to occasionally line a bag or make a knitting project bag. But lately I had been get the urge to get back into and now that we have so much space its actually possible! I've been taking full advantage of my HUGE open floor in my studio to lay out fabric and patterns to cut. I almost feel like I'm starting over with my sewing. I'm doing small, simple projects but paying alot of attention to the details and doing everything right- not taking short cuts. I'm ironing in between steps, finishing the seams nicely, etc. In the past I rushed too much and the quality of my work suffered as a consequence. I'm taking a different strategy this time around. I've made a couple of sundresses and have fabric for several aprons. One or maybe two of the aprons are for myself (all that bread making is messy!) but one of them is for a friend who is getting married this summer and another is for Alli (fabric shown). I need to be careful though or I'll spend all my money at the fabric store- the beautiful colors and prints are mesmerizing and I always end up leaving with more than I planned!