A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Painting Update

Man, this project is taking a lot longer than I expected it to.  Seriously, we're coming up on a month here pretty soon!  I could blame a lot of things, but the truth of the matter is, I have a lot less free-time-in-a-row than I used to have.  That, and it's kind of hard to move a king-sized bed, without a place to move it to!  Oh well, at least I'm making some progress, and will hopefully get more done today.  :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These are my new favorite cookies; pretend healthy and completely delicious!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Vegan With A Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowicz

1/2 c. butter, softened (can also use margarine)
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips (the ones from Trader Joe's are vegan)
1/2 c. raisins

Preheat your oven to 350*.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Add in the applesauce and vanilla.  Then add the flours, baking soda, salt and oatmeal.  Mix together well, then add the chocolate chips and raisins.  Spoon tablespoon-sized amounts of dough onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet, and bake for 14 minutes.  Let them cool a few minutes before eating/moving to a cooling rack (let's be real, they all aren't going to make it there!)  Try to share them with your friends and family.  :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Turning 40... 40 Things I Have Loved

My 40th birthday was in February, and I was thinking about all of the things I have loved throughout my life.... and I came up with a list.  It is not in any particular order, and does not include family or friends.. that's just obvious!!  Some of them are not current loves (i.e. #12) but very important nonetheless.  Settle in, this is going to be a long one! (and you might discover some weird things about me)

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1.) Hole (the band)- I have loved them FOREVER- I think I've seen them play three times- once at the Gorge, and Courtney showed up in a Volvo.  Drew Barrymore was also on stage with them, since that's when she was dating the guitarist. Even when Courtney Love is kind of a train wreck, I still think she is amazing.
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2.) Basil

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3.) Shark Week on the Discovery Channel

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4.) Speak and Spell- Does anyone else remember this toy? I freaking LOVED this thing, and I still have it, hiding in a box somewhere in the garage, waiting for Zizi.  It works too!

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 5.) Jeopardy- I always win.  Always.  Unless it's questions about sports.  Or really specific history.  But I kick ass at anything related to movies, Shakespeare, geography, and obscure pop culture.  I don't think I could beat Ken Jennings or anything, but I'm really good.  I also think that Alex Trebek looks weird without his moustache.

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6.) Raspberries

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7.) Hollywood- I love it so much, I lived there for two and a half years.  I could see the sign from the roof of my building.  I still miss it; the weather, the random celebrity sightings, the awesome bookstore on the next block, fantastic Italian place behind my apartment building, the palm trees, walking to work, the shopping, exercising in Gwen Stefani's neighborhood.. just an amazing place to be.

8.) Palm Trees- When I lived in LA, a friend told me that rats live in the tops of the trees.  I refuse to believe her.  

 9.) Swimming- my favorite exercise, even when I was little; except I still don't put my face in the water unless absolutely necessary.
10.) Hazelnuts

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11.) The Cure- So many songs, so many memories.  I saw them a couple of years ago, and even though they're getting a bit older, it was still such an amazing show, with two encores- I think it was at least 3 hours!

12.) Bologna- This was my favorite type of sandwich as a kid.  I would even eat it with tortillas.  One of two meat products I really miss (the other is summer sausage), but will most likely never eat again.  Momentarily sad vegetarian! (ok, sadness over- I went looking for a picture and got really grossed out.  Gah!)

13.) Making Forts- I did this just today with Zizi!  She liked playing under the dining room table a lot more than the one that was just made out of sheets over her octagon/play area.

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14.) Unicorns- Child of the 70's, what can I say?

15.) Gardening- Growing up, we pretty much always had a garden, but I really didn't have much of one until I lived in L.A.  I had a gap for a few years when I moved back to WA, but now with almost 1/3 of an acre, there are things growing everywhere!

16.) Dressing Up- Who doesn't like that?

17.) Making Secret Clubs- I couldn't even tell you how many clubs I made up with friends, stuffed animals, neighbors, etc.  We didn't even really do anything, it was mostly the idea of having a club that was so appealing.

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18.) Butterflies

19.) Sourdough Bread- as a kid, we would get those big round loaves, cut them in half lengthwise, and make pizza on top of it.  It was so good... maybe I should try that again? :)

Lulu at my wedding
20.) Dogs- I wanted a dog for over 10 years before I got Lulu.  When I moved back to WA, I finally found an apartment where I could get a dog, and it was all over for me!

21.) French- I studied French for 3 years in high school, and taught English at a French school for 5 years.  I am fluent enough to understand very long staff meetings about dishwashing, and most songs after a few listens.  But I still love French.  :)

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22.) Dave Navarro: I had such a huge crush on Dave Navarro, I had a shrine to him for several years of college.  I used to make up vocabulary assignments for my students by using him in stories.  All the years I lived in LA, and I never saw or met him.  (although, for what it's worth, a friend of mine did and told me that he was super tiny-- she was not so tall herself, so I take her word for it.) And, it was very hard to find a picture of him wearing a shirt.  Does he need to wear a shirt?

23.) Tea: Lemon, green, roobios... I love them all!

image source Pretty much what my house would look like if I never gave any away...
24.) Books: I worked at my Grandmother's bookstore most Saturdays during my junior high years, and maybe early high school? I got to stamp books, put them away, secretly read the inside cover of romance novels, and then walk over to the grocery store for some kind of afternoon treat (usually raspberry cookies).  It was awesome.  I've always been an avid reader, and I used to say that Sesame Street taught me how to read- but it was really my mom.  :)

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25.) Hummingbirds: I saw one flying around inside the covered part of Molbak's the other  day, and it made me so happy.  (and they like hellabores? Who knew?)  Every time one shows up at the feeder, I hold up Zephyr to see it, and tell her that they are my favorite birds.  

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26.) Artichokes: especially with butter and fresh basil!
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27.) Dr. Who: I'm talking about the newest version here, from the last 8 years or so. I got OBSESSED with this show for a very long time- we have a Tardis cookie jar!  This last season was kind of disappointing though, and I'm actually rewatching it right now, just to see if there is anything redeeming about it  (Clara is so terrible and pointless!) David Tennant will always be my favorite.  :)

28.) Road Trips

29.) Homemade Macaroni and Cheese: This is my favorite thing to make for my birthday.  I used to have a recipe that I copied out of a cookbook, and now it's lost.  I seem to find it at inopportune times, and it's never where I think it is... but no matter.  I can make it from memory now.  Bechamel sauce+ onions+ dijion mustard+ nutmeg+ pasta

30.) Rhubarb Cake: I really need to blog about this cake.  I thought I already had, since I make it every summer, but alas, it's not here!  It's the only thing I really make with rhubarb, and it's freaking delicious.  It's a family recipe originally from my grandmother,  and I've even veganized it to pretty good effect.  Look for it soon!
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31.) Alias- This show is my gold standard for television.  Except for maybe the last season, (and a couple of random plots- zombie disease? really?)  it stands as my favorite action/drama t.v. show of all time.  Kickass female lead? Check.  5 million disguises? Check. Piles of plot twists? Check.  Not much else comes even close.  Oh yeah, and Michael Vartan.

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32.) Cheesecake Danishes- One of my favorite things I remember eating in college, and probably the cause of any weight gain that I incurred there. (These actually look pretty close, and come with a recipe.  Danger!)

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33.) The Wizard of Oz- My favorite movie as a child, and really, still.  It's so great!  From the Technicolor to the Wicked Witch (my mom used to use her voice every time we drove through any dark woods), just so fantastic!

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34.) Roald Dahl- Childhood would have been a lot more boring without books by Roald Dahl.  Even though I thought his name was a typo for "Ronald" for the longest time, I have always loved his books.  Especially The BFG.  :)

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35.) Dinosaurs

36.) Vanilla Pudding- Way better than chocolate pudding, in my opinion!

37.) Sewing- This one's kind of obvious, isn't it? 

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38.) Dancing in the Rain

39.) Fairy Tales- old ones, modern ones, some Disney ones... I've even tried to write a few myself. The best kind of fiction there is.

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40.) Freesias- My favorite flower.  So pretty. So fragrant.  So hard for me to grow!

And there you have it... the post that took me two months to finish!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Alice in Wonderland Garden Update!

This garden is really starting to come together!! With a moss-inducing winter, the path has more than doubled in size, and although I suffered some decorative losses (things froze because I didn't get them inside on time), I more than replaced the mushrooms that broke.

To start, you are greeted by a Chinese dragon, just because he is awesome.

View down the path

Kind of falling over flamingos; I think they're tired from being used as croquet mallets.  :)

Right and left sides of the path

I used some leftover bits of fallen trees to make the edging on the left. 

Also moved the red plant stand from the backyard, and filled it with fuschias from last weekend's plant sale.

There's the White Rabbit! (and transplanted hydrangea #1)

And the Caterpiller! (with future butterfly)

Hellabore that came back, transplanted hydrangea #2, and new euphobria!!

My favorite part.. all the colorful mushrooms!

 And new entrance stakes (they were a Christmas present from John)!
(You can almost see the dragon over there on the left.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fuschia Sale This Saturday!

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This Saturday, April 12th, is the annual Fred Meyer Fuschia Sale!!  Not only are these shade-loving plants on sale, there are piles and piles of them to choose from.  And... if you bring your own pots, they will plant them for you, with their own potting soil!  Did you catch that?... FREE DIRT!!!!  I will be there, lined up probably mid-day, with lots of little old people for free dirt! They will also pot anything else you buy; and of course there are edibles and all sorts of Spring goodies for sale too.  If you like free dirt and cheap flowers, you should totally be there!

(Note: This is not an advertising post.  Fred Meyer does not know me or give me anything for free.  I just love this sale!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Working with Burlap

Still in the middle of my "This house is too dark, let's do a Spring redecorating!" projects.  This one focuses on curtains for the dining room.
I really like our dining room, but the boring brown curtains (that came with the house) were, well, boring. And dark.  So, out they go!  I went to the fabric store hoping to find something that wasn't transparent, but wasn't heavy either.  Linen would be ideal, but I really didn't want to pay that much.  Enter colored burlap!

It was $3.99/yard, so waaay under budget- with my coupon, I paid about $2.40/yard.  I also planned to get a slightly darker/more turquoise color for an accent across the top of the curtain rod.  Total project was under $35!

I have never worked with burlap before, and I wasn't sure how hard it would be.  To start with, it gives off a large quantity of dust/chaff/lint/what have you.  I had to move it to the trunk to drive home because I was coughing (and slightly worried that I might be allergic to my new "experiment").  Looking online, I found several people who had successfully washed it in a regular washing machine, so that's what I did.  I cut it in half (so only 3 yards at a time instead of all 6), washed it with half the normal amount of soap, and dried it.  (Cleaning out the lint trap several times, as well as large amounts of buildup inside the dryer door.  No, I'm not kidding!)  Then I washed/dried it a second time. 

The amount of lint that was removed is astounding.  This stuff shed more than all of my pets during their entire lives put together!  But, the smell was gone, and so was the feeling that I needed Allegra, so all is well.  The fabric was a lot softer too, and it seemed like it would be easier to work with now.

The fabric edges frayed a lot, but I don't really care.  I trimmed them, folded them over, and pinned.  I wanted it to look sort of rustic, so if things don't match, it's ok.  However, once I got both sections hemmed, I realized that one section was about a foot longer than the other.  Oops!

I hung them from the curtain rod, so that I could see how noticable the difference would be.  Then I cut the longer one again to even them out, made a casing for the top, and called it good.  

All in all, I totally recommend using burlap for household projects.  It's cheap, and once you get past the cleaning, relatively easy to work with.  (Waaay easier to sew with than that nightmare metallic stuff that I useds for Zizi's flapper dress.)  The only slight trouble I had was when I'd already hemmed it and was making the casing- because it was so thick it didn't want to go through my machine.  I backstitched part of it (starting further ahead) and did part of it with my sewing machine foot up, and it worked just fine.  And it comes in colors!  I wouldn't use it for a blanket or anything, but curtains or a table runner is really great.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Growing a Cutting Garden

Several weeks ago, I went to a free class at Molbak's on starting a cutting garden.  It was taught by Sue Goetz from The Creative Gardener, and had lots of great info about specific flower varieties to choose and how to set up a flower garden that you can cut from all summer.

First, you want to choose a place for you flowers that gets full sun; in my case, it was as close to full sun as I can get! (i.e. The Front Hill)  You want your garden to be in a place that you can cut flowers often, and not be concerned if it looks half empty all the time, for instance, not next to your front door.  You want to have good soil, compost, and drainage- and somewhere that you can water often, because most flowers are not drought tolerant. You can directly seed most of them into the ground, usually after Mother's Day.  Remember that the more you cut the full-grown flowers, the more they'll come back for their second round!

When you are choosing flowers for cutting, you want to get the long-stemmed variety.  I really didn't think about this too much, since I always have short sweet peas, but if you want to arrange them in a vase, long stems are best!  You want to make sure to pick your flowers at the peak time; in the morning, but after the dew dries... about 10 or 11 am.  

Some particularly good flower choices, according to Sue:

Annuals: (flower the first year)

Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas: Plant now! You can add them around the base of topiaries or other things you have in pots that aren't flowering yet.  You can replant them in August for a second crop!  Varieties: Mammoth, White Elegance, Heirloom varieties

Cosmos: Pink ones last longer than other ones.  You should cut them when they are very open, but they go to seed fast. (You could also leave a few to go to seed, saving yourself work next year!)  Varieties: Celebration in Pink, Double Cosmos- Bonbon (almost looks like a peony)

Zinnias: One of the best long cut flowers.  Varieties: Berry Basket or Crayon Mix from Renee's Garden
Bells of Ireland: Likes to be slightly dry, so plant on the edge of your garden.  Smells a bit lemony (and looks really cool!

Poppies: Avoid the single-petal varieties because the petals will fall off right away.  Reseed themselves easily, and you can plant them in the Fall for the following year.  Varieties: "Peony" poppies

Bachelor Buttons: You can "meadow sow" this flower (i.e. sow lots of it in a large area).  It reseeds well.  Varieties: Black Magic, or Tall Blend

Gomphrenia/Globe Amaranth: Kind of like a Strawflower.  Germination rates are pretty low, but it dries well.  Variety: Strawberry Fields

Sunflowers:  They will give you several flowers per season if you cut them.  Try to grow smaller ones that will give you more flowers per stalk than the giant ones grown for seeds.  Protect the seeds from hungry birds by using row cover when you first plant them.  Varieties: Royal Flush or Cinnamon

Calendula: I've been seeing this herb around a lot lately; it's medicinal and also just an edible flower.  It blooms all summer and seems like a great choice for your garden.  Variety: Flashback

Snapdragons: Long standing color, very heat tolerant.  Will come back after you cut them.  You want the tops to not be open when you pick them, so that they continue to open inside.  Varieties: Ribbon Series, Tall/Maximum Blend

Nasturtium: Edible, attracts a lot of aphids (but also pollinators).  I like the seeds because they look like brains. :)  Varieties: Alaska hybrid, Cherries Jubilee, Creamsicle

Statice: Looks like Dandelion when it first comes up, so don't pull it!  Likes dry parts of the garden and dries well.

Larkspur: Also referred to as "early Delphinium". You can plant it now, at the end of March.  It has very long flowers and likes to be on the dry side.  Varieties: Sublime Blend, Giant Imperial

Lemon Gem Marigold: Edible, nice fragrance, and long-lasting color. Brings lots of pollinators!

Nigella: Really cool striped seed pods after it is finished flowering.  Some people grow it just for the seed pods.  You can save the seeds for next year's plants, just wait until you hear them rattling around inside the pod.  Variety: Persian Violet (the kind I planted this year)

(sow this year for flowers next season and continuing for years)

Liatris or Gayfeather: Pink bottle-brush flower.  You can meadow sow it.  Really pretty!

Columbine: I know for a fact this comes back because I have some that leapt into a pot from my parents' house and returns every year.  Put out in the Fall, sometimes flowers more the first year, but it will self-seed for sure.  Varieties: Black Barlow

Echinacea or Purple Coneflower: Bees love this!  Don't get a hybrid variety of this, because they are not tall enough for cutting.  Varieties: Magnus, Ruby Star

Lupine: Deer-resistant Variety: Russell Blend (I think after 4+ pages of notes here, I was starting to get tired of writing.)

Foxglove: Will grow in the shade, sometimes out of nowhere (and as tall as me!) but poisonous to animals- so take care if you have pets.
Sea Holly

Sea Holly or Eryngium: This was one of the coolest flowers, so I saved it for last.  Thistle-looking plant.  Start it now, it will be best in the second or third year.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

House Projects

We are using some of our tax return money to do some much needed improvements on our house.  John has been working on an electrical project involving lights and ceiling fans in the living room, and I've been thinking about bringing more light into the house with different colors.  Since we moved here almost 5 years ago, I have wanted to paint the bedroom.  I was planning to do two walls light blue and two of them yellow, but now we're going all sunny and yellow!


What I did yesterday
It is a long process!
The "After" is going to take the rest of the week, but I'm pretty excited about it!  Will post updates soon. :)