23 October 2009

V is for victory


An email from Park Seed popped into my inbox this morning with some cuteness I had to share. Their line of vintage-inspired Victory Garden merchandise is so fun and the perfect antidote for the cold weather garden hiatus that many of us find ourselves in the midst of.

12 October 2009

cornmeal pancakes

(photo from Martha Stewart Living)

This weekend we tried a fabulous new pancake recipe. I have been really into cornmeal treats lately, so when I saw a recipe on Bakerella for Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes, originally from Martha Stewart Living, I had to try it. I have a freezer full of raspberries from the u-pick farm this summer, so I used raspberries in place of the blueberries, but they were just as good.

I also had to adapt it a little because I didn't have any buttermilk in the house, and I also wanted them a little bit more cornmeally. Served with a side of bacon, these are my favorite breakfast treat. I did skip the orange maple butter.

Here is my adapted recipe:

3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Mix it all together and pour them on the griddle. Drop raspberries, blueberries or whatever-you-want berries onto the cakes before flipping.

For the original, head on over to Bakerella.

11 October 2009

weekend thought


Do you want me to tell you something really subversive?
Love is everything it’s cracked up to be.
That’s why people are so cynical about it.
It really is worth fighting for, being brave for,
risking everything for.
And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything,
you risk even more.
–Erica Jong

29 September 2009

deer


I have blogged about my love of nontraditional taxidermy before, and that original example is still my favorite, but these paper options come in a close second...

27 September 2009

weekend thought

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

25 September 2009

affordable art

Last month marked the end of a 4-year tenure as a volunteer with the Missoula Art Museum's Artini Thursday committee. I love the organization and the program, but life has me in a different spot right now. A spot with a lot less free time then I had 4 years ago.

I am still a member and we were just there last week checking out a few of the incredible new exhibits. Since then, I have been craving some new art for our house, so I went searching for options and inspiration. I stumbled across the Art Garage Sale, which has a plethora of beautiful, striking, reasonably priced options. Here are a few that caught my eye...





22 September 2009

what I like today...

This week's list is full of nature inspired goodness.

This adorable set of cups would make great desk organizers...


This sweet clock would be perfect in a child's room...


I love this toadstool nightlight. It makes me think of fairies and elves...


This bear bean bag is so amazing! I am smitten with the details and expression on his face...


This t-shirt is perfect for fall with its folksy birds and flowers...

tweet, tweet

(from Melingo Wagamama's photostream)

Yep, I have fallen into the time suck that we call twitter. I can't promise anything profound, but I am excited to share some of my favorite little tidbits from the web and my life. You can follow me at @hiphomemaker.

21 September 2009

zucchini recipes

It's the time of year when coworkers, team mates and family show up at various times with a pile of zucchini that out-weigh new born children. You hear people complain about the various incarnations of zucchini that they are currently consuming daily. So, in response to this, I thought I would share a handful of more creative zucchini recipes from one of my all-time favorite food bloggers, Deb from Smitten Kitchen.

Deb has been doing this since before most of us knew what a blog was. She is funny and honest and inspiring, one of my blogger heroes. And she had her first baby this weekend, so go to her blog for sweet baby goodness.

Without further adieu, some new ways to use the squash that is threatening to overtake your garden and kitchen...

Zucchini Latkes: These seem like the perfect fall side dish, a little heartier for the cooler days.


Zucchini Carpaccio Salad: A great way to hold on to the summer flavors just a little longer.


Ratatouille: This was the first SK recipes that I tried and I was hooked.


Lemony Goat Cheese Pizza: I love making pizza on the grill, maybe next time we will try this.


Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters: A more exotic way to serve your zucs.


Kefta and Zucchini Kababs: This one I really want to make this week. That yogurt sauce looks yummy!


So there you have it. Enjoy the last days of summer squash!

All photos from Smitten Kitchen.

19 September 2009

weekend thought

I found an old notebook filled with quotes and funny sayings, probably about 15 years old. I decided to share these and others with you every weekend. Share your thoughts or just read and enjoy!


(from David C. Foster's photostream)

"Good friends beware! The only life we know
Flies from us like an arrow from the bow.
The caravan of life is moving by,
Quick! to your places in the passing show."
-Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

18 September 2009

Campy

I have been dreaming about a vintage camper for family trips next summer. It seems so much easier with babies and dogs. That and it seems so Mayberry perfect. How cute is this one from my local craigslist?

Sweet paint job!

Robin's Egg Blue appliances!

And a ladder for the bunk bed!

16 September 2009

Julie and Julia


Nici and I were just trying to make plans to go see Julie and Julia. I know, where have we been? Busy. That's where. Besides going to the movies seems to be a silly way to spend your time during the summer, why not be outside? Anyway... Partially my inspiration for the Cooking 101 experiment, I am excited to go see it. I was looking back at old posts last night and found this one I had written over two years ago about the book. It got me even more excited to get to the theater before its gone.

Have you seen the movie or read the book? What did you think?

15 September 2009

what I'm listening to: mellow jazz

(from ramon_perez_terrassa's photostream)

I have been craving mellow, jazzy music for the last week or so and my current playlist includes two of my go-to, slow and sultry divas, Madeleine Peyroux and Diana Krall.

Madeleine reminds me of Billy Holiday. Her Bare Bones album is my current favorite, with the first song, Instead, being my personal mantra now days.

Krall has been on my playlist since the days of Ally McBeal. She does some amazing covers on her Quiet Nights album, which includes a fabulously drawn out version of Walk on By .

11 September 2009

cooking school: the first week

This was my first week with the Martha Stewart Cooking School cookbook and my Cooking 101 adventure. I started with the chapter entitled basics. I chose this as the first book because I knew it would be straight forward and well edited. Not too wordy, highlighting the best and most important of the cooking basics. The photo styling is always so fab, as well. Martha did not disappoint.

For the first week, there was quite a bit of reading and assessing my kitchen, tools and cooking style. I went through my cupboards and reorganized things. I got rid of a few things that I either had too many of or just never used. I looked at my current kitchen habits and thought about what could be adjusted or overhauled.

The very first subsection was entitled "The Cook's Golden Rules". Here are a few gems I gleaned:
  • "Read a recipe all the way through before you begin cooking." I tend to be fairly seat-of-the-pants in the kitchen, so this nugget could help me to make less mistakes.
  • "Keep notes while you are cooking...Taking notes is the best way to remember what happened the first time you attempted a recipe." At first this seems totally overkill, but this week as I went through my various fall canning rituals, I found my own little notes on the edges of various recipes and realized how helpful it could be. "Don't add too many peppers to the pickles or they will be too spicy for the family Christmas dinner."
  • "Ingredients are your most important tool. Buy wisely and with an eye toward quality, not quantity." As a stingy thrifty person, I have definitely been know to scimp on quality because it seems to pricey. I think that learning when you can and can't cut costs is the key.
  • "Replace spices and other pantry items each year, as they lose their flavors over time." Again, my desire to save some cash and not waste is my undoing in the kitchen. I am also trying to grow more herbs in the garden so I don't have to buy, but freshness is definitely the key.
  • "Get in the habit of doing what the French call mise en place, or preparing our ingredients (chopping, peeling, measuring, etc.), before beginning a recipe." I used to be really good at this, but got out of the habit. It definitely makes things much smoother and you feel like you have your own cooking show, with everything ready to go!
Rachel over at Heart of Light recently shared her tips for a Zen kitchen and they were very inspiring even before I started the book. What's your favorite tip for making your cooking go smoothly?

08 September 2009

what I like today...

With fall weather in the air here, I am loving all of these little tidbits right now...

this pillow is all school days and recess...


yesterdays experience of apple picking and sweaters makes me want to wear this perfume...



these boots are made for autumn puddle jumping...


the perfect first day of school jumper...


a coat for blustery fall days, filled with swirling leaves...


and of course boots...

04 September 2009

the littlest birds

Avery loves music and so we keep a small stereo, stocked with some really great music in her room. The album she is currently listening to while she plays features this song (by The Be Good Tanyas) that I love so much that my heart swells when I hear it and I have to sing along. Happy Friday everyone!


03 September 2009

learning to love cooking again


When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to learn to cook, so I picked a night and that was my night to make the family dinner. Coming from a meat and potato kind of house, I was excited to branch out and try new things like stir fry, interesting pastas and enchiladas. Of course I always needed to include some sort of meat and bake a potato for my dad if those options weren't inclusive in the meal. I grew to really love cooking. I loved trying new recipes, going to dinner parties, throwing dinner parties, baking for friends.

But then, somehow, it became a chore. Just one more thing to try and get done every day. I don't throw dinner parties anymore because it is too stressful to plan. I don't go to dinner parties because most of my once single and fancy free friends are married with kiddos and struggling to get it all done too. We are barely surviving our weeks let alone living perfectly articulated lives with gorgeously clean homes and delectable meals each night.

It has become a line up of standbys and thrown together mishmashes. It is uninspiring and down-right discouraging. It certainly is not how I want it to be. I really want to fall in love with cooking again. I want to enlarge my repertoire of go to recipes so I don't keep going to the same ones, over and over again. I want to throw dinner parties again and have fun, not stress out.

So, I have decided to create and enroll in my own on-line blogger cooking course, sort of a Cooking 101. At first I was going to give myself a schedule and deadlines, but then I pulled back. I want this to be fun and inspiring and somewhat organic, not forced. So I put away most of my plan. Here is what remains. I am going to pick one chef, cookbook or food blogger at a time to focus on for a few weeks, months, whatever. During that time, I will post at least once a week about the recipes or techniques I am trying, successes and failures. When I feel like I have learned what I can or I'm bored, I will go on to the next source of inspiration. You are welcome to join me if you would like, following as closely or loosely as you would prefer. If you do follow along, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email to let me know how its going.

It seems I'm not the only one with this idea. With the release of Julie & Julia (which I haven't seen, but would like too), several other bloggers have gotten inspired to beef up their skills in the kitchen with some help from a few cookbooks or blogs. Emily, over at wide open spaces, started her cooking adventure this week using Good Housekeeping's Step by Step Cookbook, so go over and get in on her giveaway!

My first book will be Martha Stewart's Cooking School. I chose this book because of Martha's basic directions and great photos. She has spent a lot of time and money perfecting her craft and I figured she would be a good place to start. I am going to start with the first section next week, which includes an overview of the basics, such as kitchen tools, pans, herb, spices and chopping. So if you want to join in, head out to your local library or bookstore and get your copy this weekend.

02 September 2009

refreshed and rejuvinated


I have not been here for a while, I have been off enjoying my family. I did not read blogs, I did not check or update facebook, I was off living my life. I did not read or watch the news, I barely checked my email, I was off making beautiful memories.

I had started to feel stuck in my blogging, my crafting, my life and couldn't quite figure out how to get unstuck, so I just stopped for a bit. I stopped all of it and just tried to do the things that I love to do and spend time with my favorite people.

J and I took a week off of work. We were going to go out to Portland and Seattle, but decided instead to just stay home, relax and enjoy each other. No rushing around, no craziness.

We did some projects around the house, but without pressure or high expectations. Most are only half-done so far. We took our family to the lake, we sat and played together, we went for walks, went to the park, went looking for a new dog. (eeek! can we handle two dogs? we will see.)

I generally have big expectations for time off, either we need to get a lot done, or we need to do something REALLY fun. This time I didn't. I just really wanted to enjoy my family, get back in touch with my husband. We had kind of lost each other for a while. And that time off, gave us a chance to find each other again. It was a great week!

On the final Sunday before we headed back to work, I found myself getting grumpy and panicked, "We didn't get the laundry done. The bathroom is only half painted. Can we really handle dog #2?". But then I consciously wrangled my thoughts and emotions and reminded myself how all of the little things won't be remembered 10 years from now, but my crazy teeny baby crawling with so much enthusiasm, in and out of the lake, splashing, yelling and laughing, that is what we will remember. Listening to her "playing" the piano, stopping only to clap for herself. Watching the new puppy and our old puppy wrestle and play, racing around the yard. Those are the magical things.

So, I am back, refreshed. I have some great blog ideas and I can't wait to share them. Onward and upward, friends. Onward and upward...

26 August 2009

popping by

I just wanted to pop in and say, "whoa! its been crazy around here!" We are on vacation and I am cooking up some new blog plans, so I will be back soon... Enjoy the sun!


photo from Lida Rose's photostream

16 August 2009

hal-le-chicken-lu-jah


The chickens have been out in their coop for about 2 months now and over all of that time, they had never once gone into the coop at night to roost. Instead, they would all climb up on the log at the end of the run in a big chicken pile and sleep there for the night. For a while I was going out every night, picking them up one by one and putting them in the coop, but they never seemed to catch on. Then I decided it wasn't going to hurt them to sleep outside and it was a big pain, so I left them alone. At least until a couple of weeks ago, when the neighbors reported having a skunk move in under their shed. Skunks are bad news for chickens, so I was back to tossing them, one by one, into the coop each night. I knew there had to be a way to get them inside.

What's a newbie chicken farmer to do? Why "Google" it, of course. And google it I did. I found gobs of discussions and empathetic chicken owners, but it always came down to a few pieces of advice. First, bribe them with food. So, for about four nights I went out with some sort of yumminess in hand, but no dice. They all just stared at me through sleepy chicken eyes from their chicken pile. Next, I read that chickens can't see well in the dark and so you should put a light in the coop. Tried that for several nights, but just ended up burning through a half-dozen AAA batteries.

And then one night, in desperation, I went out early and made a trail of stale blueberry corn muffins from the log, up the ramp into the coop and left them to their own devices. 20 minutes later, they were all snug inside on the roosts and haven't missed a night since.

I have no idea what the final turning point was, but I am not longer stooping under the raised coop, chasing squawking hens every night to get them inside. Now if I could just get a couple of eggs, I would be a happy chicken farmer...

14 August 2009

wonderland


One of my all-time favorite stories (I have 5 vintage copies of the book and this version on video, which is my current favorite) and where I will be going for my birthday next spring... anyone care to join me?

more fabulous photos here

12 August 2009

my favorite things

Here are a few things I am loving right now...

These boots make me swoon...


my heart skipped a beat when I saw these vintage wall hangings...


this bike makes me want to get out and ride...


wearing this ring would make me feel bubbly and sparkly, even with jeans and a t-shirt...


the little black dress that just begs you to invent occasions to wear it...


a new light for the bean's room, feminine and unique (and it could be made with the new saw, hmmmm)...


What have you been loving lately?

10 August 2009

basic cuts using a scroll saw

After several days of on again, off again torrential downpour, the sun finally came out on Sunday. So out came the saw and the camera to take some photos for a tutorial/how-to on some of the basic cuts you can do using a scroll saw.

Here is a quick step by step of how I cut the letters out with the saw.

1. As I said in the last post, I printed out a template alphabet on my printer, cut them out and traced the cutout onto 1/4 inch plywood.

2. I then rough cut between each of the letters using the scroll saw, just to seperate them. This made it easier to cut them in more detail.

3. Now the fun begins. With each letter, I did the "easy" cuts first. All of the big, straight lines, external right-angles and big curves. You can see an example in the cuts I drew in below. I did the big curve of the R and the next small angle as cut #1. Then I came from the other edge and made cut #2, connecting with the first cut so that excess is removed. The final cut #3 from the bottom take off the remaining excess.

The scroll saw blades only cut going one direction, so it is easy to make a cut and then back the blade out to reposition the blade, or make another cut. Always hold the piece securely when cutting so the blade doesn't jerk it out of your hand.
4. The internal cuts are a little bit more tricky. Again, you will do the easiest cuts first, the straight cuts. In the photo below, the cuts 1 & 2 were done first. Each time I backed the blade out. For cut #3, I followed the path of #2 again, but about halfway in, I went in a curve to line up with the longer line parallel to the right side. This cut intersected with #1 so that whole piece came off.


Then I made the fourth and final cut taking out the small piece that was left.


5. Center cuts on letters like R, B, Q and O require a few extra steps. First you need to drill a hold in the center of the piece that you are going to cut out. You will need to be sure to use a drill bit that is big enough that the blade can fit through the hole created. If your piece is small like mine, I would recommend clamping the piece to a secure surface. Just make sure the spot you want to drill is not directly over the surface, or you will be drilling a hole in your table.


Next you will need to remove the blade from the saw, insert it through the hole in the piece and then reattach the blade. Once this is done, you will cut from the drilled hole to the edge of the line and follow the line until the piece is completely cut out. In the example below, I used a spiral to connect to and follow the edge of the inner circle in the "O".


When you have finished the cut, the center piece will come off completely, but the main letter will still be stuck around the blade. You will again need to remove the blade to take off the letter.



NOTE: Because I can be a bit accident prone, in addition to shutting off the saw to remove the blade, I also unplug it or shut off my power strip, just to be doubly sure that I won't accidentally cut of an appendage. This may not be necessary for everyone, but when it comes to power tools, my mantra is "know thyself" and adjust accordingly. Most accidents are user errors.

So that is the basics of scroll saw use on this project. After the pieces were cut, I sanded all of the edges and corners. Next I will need to attach magnets, but I haven't found ones that I am happy with. As soon as I do, I will give you an update on the project. Please let me know if you have any questions!