Monday, April 19, 2010

Carpe Noctem!

Our silly girl is learning how to say many new words, but most of the time Eden does not appreciate the importance of enunciation.  "Please" often comes out as: 'stz, and the like.  Every once in while, though, she will say something crystal clear and with a grown-up accent, e.g.  "All done."  It shocks you each time.

Anyhow, she has been sputtering out her gibberish all evening.  Katie's away at Bible study and it's just the two of us.  Of course, that means we're getting into trouble and generally wearing each other out.  Sleepy time came in a hurry and Eden voluntarily hopped into the chair in which we read bedtime stories.  Tonight we read A Star So Bright, an intricately painted landscape of all the animals who marvel at the Star of Bethlehem, and In the Night Kitchen, concerning a, um *bare-cheeked* lad who almost gets baked into a cake but ends up saving breakfast after all. [Incidentally there is a phone number in one of the illustrations that is drawn on the label of a jar in the Night Kitchen.... I called it in the real world and got the answering machine of one Maria... I wonder if it was/is Mr. Sendak's (the author) home?] By the end she sweetly kissed me and nuzzled in for the nightly litany of hymns and lullabies. After she was snagged by the sleepy fairy, I laid her in the crib.  Lying on her back, she looks up at me with suddenly open eyes and says as clear as day, "Bye-bye." I blink. again. Then say, "G'nite sweet-heart" after which she finally breaks our gaze and curls up with Ducky.

I'm often stunned how much she grows when I'm not looking; golly, even when I am looking!  I feel that I may turn around and she'll be carrying on conversation.  And I can't even imagine what little Keiran and Sophie are up to these days. Attention: Do not grow up any more till I get home to see ya'll. Okay? G'nite family.

pic o' the evening:

and yes, there is a big ole grin behind that cookie.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fabric CD Case Tutorial

To return the favor of the gifted camera, I wanted to make my sister Jill a little something special.
I had bookmarked this idea for a CD wallet on Homemade by Jill just before Valentines Day and thought it would be perfect. Check out her blog- she has a lot of awesome tutorials and beautiful photos.

The project gave me the opportunity to check out Quilter's Heaven- a quilting shop just ten minutes from our apartment- yay!  I snagged a couple of prints that reminded me of the colors Jill has used in print materials for her photography business.  Lately she's been doing more head shots and family shoots (check them out on her blog, they're great!) and I wanted to give her something to use for a special client, or keep for herself!

Measurements for the cases were included on Homemade by Jill's blog, but I'm still a fairly novice sewer and it took me a while to wrap my head around the construction. I made a goofy little tutorial so I wouldn't have to think so hard if I ever did this again. Thought I'd share and if I put it online I won't lose it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food for Jill

My friend Katrine recently called me in the middle of the day with an item # from the Crate and Barrel catalog she was browsing. Apparently I talk about cupcakes... just a little.

Can you imagine how often I'd have to bake ridiculously cute cupcakes to make this worth it? I'd have to make more friends just to have someone to eat them all.

In the real world, here's what I'm cooking:
These empanadas were made for a play date with Katerine and her two boys. They are perfect for little hands and can be filled with just about any meat or veggie you have that needs to be used up. Here's the recipe I use, although it changes a bit every time. The handmade dough is totally worth it- the vinegar gives it a different flavor than regular pastry.

Thomas and I have finally gotten to break out the grill (oooh and there's a whole porch project going on with herbs and cushions and flowers- can't wait to start enjoying devotionals outside!). In preparation, I splurged at a pampered chef party a few weeks ago and purchased a grill basket. Tonight's dinner was steak, couscous, and grilled veggies. This was so easy- cut veggies, toss in olive oil and spice of choice, and grill!

During orientation, Thomas met a Norwegian student whose fiance came to visit (all the way from Norway!) over Easter break. I was delighted when they suggested a small dinner party so we could meet her and ecstatic when they asked me to make accompanying dishes for their Swedish meatballs. Per some of their suggestions and a little bit of research I tried creamed peas, boiled potatoes, and Norwegian Almond Cake with fresh cream and berries. None of this food was particularly interesting to look at so there are no pictures.
I felt very domestic soaking peas overnight and cooking them for 2.5 hours. It was all delicious and worth making twice.

Creamed Peas (Gronn ertestuing)
via Son of Norway

2 cups dried peas (found in the Latin section of the grocery store)
6 cups water (plus extra if needed to keep peas covered in water)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Rinse peas well and pick out foreign objects. Place in water and soak overnight in a cool place. Let them simmer in the water they were soaked in, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Mix the flour with the butter and add to the peas and let simmer about 10 minutes longer. Add salt and sugar to taste.
**Before mixing in the flour I removed some of the water (about 1 cup) from the peas.

Norwegian Almond Cake (Mandelkake)

1-1/4 cups sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons yogurt/plain
2 cups flour
1/4 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Powdered sugar to sprinkle

Cream Butter and sugar together.
Add eggs. Add extract and yogurt.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a seperate bowl and then add to batter.
Add ground nuts and flour intermittently. Mix well.

Coat a bundt pan with butter or Crisco and lightly dust with flour- tap out excess.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cool before removing cake from pan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Finished Projects

The list of projects I have is growing faster than the dishes in my sink - it's quite possible that the two are connected. Currently in various stages of progress I have: 3 quilts, 1 set of curtains, 2 gifts for babies, 1 skirt, 2 pillows, 1 painting, 1 illustration, and a million other ideas. I think I'll feel some sense of accomplishment if I share what I have completed.

As part of Eden's room redo I made her a new quilt. I knew I wouldn't have much time so I drafted a super simple pattern consisting of three large rectangles (2 blue + 1 floral on the front, 2 floral + 1 blue on the back). I used the fitted sheet from the re-purposed set previously used for her crib skirt and some super cheap solid cotton. I added her name by first cutting the letters out of cotton fabric, gluing them down with a temporary fabric glue stick, and finally stitching around the inside of the letter 1/4" from the edge. Once washed, the glue dissolved and the edges frayed. It's a really simple and cute look that I'll use again. The binding was hand sewn out of yellow gingham cut on the bias.

A couple weeks ago I spotted a a ridiculously cute vintage floral pattern on sale for $1.99/yard. It merited purchasing the Heidi and Finn Pinafore Pattern from Etsy. This was so easy! Once all the pieces were cut it took 2 hours to sew the whole project. The pocket construction was the only difficult part. The pattern is either incomplete with regards to the pleating or I am too novice to know what they mean. Also, I chose corduroy for the pockets and they do not hold a pleat once ironed. After these photos were taken I tacked them down. Doesn't their Sunshine Dress Pattern look like fun too?

Anybody working on something fun??

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The gift that keeps on giving

Good evening! As promised I have been playing with my camera and would like to share of few shots with you. I still have lots to learn, but it definitely transformed my photos overnight! I can take 10 shots and have only one end up blurry instead of only one NOT ending up blurry. Colors are more accurate because I can adjust to the low light in our apartment without resorting to flash. Oh, and backgrounds are faded in a wonderful way that I've always admired and never been able to obtain.

I complained before that Java Jacks has not been easy to replace, but I have decided to give the only local place a few more tries. Cons: I have to bring my own booster seat (no high chairs), the customers are all 40 years my senior and don't seem too excited that a toddler is infiltrating their daily routine, it's not within walking distance, and the staff exudes the typical northern hospitality (java jacks baristas I miss you!) Pros: Delicious coffee and a 3 minute drive away en route to Trinity.

Welcome to my new coffee home: Newport Coffee House

I've also begun to explore a new identity as a Mall Rat- lol. . I suppose it's due to all the snow and that kids can't go outside to play in the winter time- the malls here have the coolest play areas. It's hard not to be a helicopter mom when we go. During this photo shoot, one kid choked Eden (he was trying to hug her), a five year old decided to bully her off of all the equipment until I sat him down and told him how to behave (his nanny didn't care about his behavior or my overstepping to do protect my child), and a 12 month old contaminated the slide by drooling puddles of blue sucker everywhere. She still had fun!

Eden got into my makeup and thought mascara would be just the thing to go with her new easter dress. We made the best of it and had a tea party before we cleaned up.

I can't get over how grown up pigtails make her look! This profile makes me swoon!