Monday, August 31, 2009

Unlikely Trio.

Inspired by a recipe in the new Cooking Light, I decided to make a Lemon-Lavender Olive Oil cake. The original recipe is Lemon-Rosemary Olive Oil cake. I didn't have any fresh rosemary, but still have a lot of lavender left over from last year. I was intrigued by the use of olive oil in a cake instead of vegetable oil or butter.

Despite the unique ingredients, this cake is quite mediocre. There's a small amount of lavender flavor, but not enough to make it outstanding. The lemon flavor is barely there and the olive oil flavor is non-existent. I guess you have to have olive oil in the title of the recipe since it's such an unusual cake ingredient, but it really shouldn't be there because if you didn't tell me olive oil was in the cake, I never would have guessed.

Needless to say, it was a disappointment. I may try it again, this time using rosemary and a lot more lemon.

Friday, August 28, 2009


The other day I cleaned out and organized my daughter's closet. I donated most of her clothes, but decided to attempt a wearable refashion on a few pieces.

Two long sleeve shirts to make into short sleeve shirts and 1 dress that she wore (and loved) at her birthday party last year. It's long sleeve, and kind of tight now at the top.

The shirt were easy. Simply cut the sleeves. I didn't even hem them, just used an overlock stitch. I really like how it turned out. I put on some sparkly iron-on hearts on one shirt, and an applique (that cut off of another of her shirts that was stained beyond salvation) on the other.

If the child would stay still for more than 1.5 seconds, the photos would be better.

I simply detached the top of the dress from the bottom and added an elastic waistband. Voila! A skirt that she loves.

PS. I'm pretty sure my blog is one-year old today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New Hobby.

Because I guess I just don't have enough!

It's a snow-ball effect and this is how my fiber-related hobbies began: cross-stitch, knitting, sewing, quilting, and now... embroidery.

I've been looking at kits from Sublime Stitching for some time. Then, a couple weeks ago, I just did it. I bought the Cat-A-Rama pattern. I mean, it's only $5, why was I hesitating!?

I enjoy embroidery because:
1. Instant satisfaction (it works up pretty quickly.)
2. You can decide which stitch you want to use.
3. Pretty colors! Embroidery floss is inexpensive, so you can build up a stash rather swiftly.

This is the first one I did.

It came out OK. Not spectacular, but pretty cute. What am I gonna do with it? Not sure. Maybe make an apron pocket out of it.

This is the second one. I don't love it. I think I should decrease the strands I'm using. I really have no clue what to do with this one. Probably just let it lay around for years until I decide to throw it out and then a few weeks after I toss it, realize that I have the perfect usage for it.

Apologies for the crappy photos. But see what I mean about the thread thickness? Look at this poor guy's totally indiscernible face.

Last night was dead in work, so I walked over to my favorite thrift store. I picked up a bag of embroidery floss for $1.

And then after my sushi dinner with my sister, we stopped at AC Moore and I bought this for $6, marked down from $10.99. Cool!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thoughts of Summer.

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Henry James

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for the summer heat. Scratch that, it's the humidity. It's very humid and the more humid it gets, the crankier I become. I don't like sweating. I love the cool comfort of air-conditioning.

I have memories of playing with the hose on my patio. I still love the smell of the first gush of water sizzling on the hot cement. That is the smell of my childhood summers. After getting wet with the hose, I'd come in, go into my bedroom, peel off the bathing suit and slide into some dry clothes. My skin felt cool and the clothes felt warm.

I'd go into the air-conditioned living room, lay down on the rug and watch TV (probably "The Brady Bunch). The air was so cold, sometimes a blanket would be required. It was so soothing and so comforting. Perfect contentment, especially if something delicious was wafting through the air.

I also remember summers at my grandparents' house. Nana & Poppop. In my childhood mind, the backyard was enormous! There was a little pool for me and my cousin. There was a marigold yellow dishpan for us to dip our feet in prior to entering the pool to avoid stray grass from invading.

After the pool, we'd put on sundresses and sit in their air-conditioned living room. We'd get refrigerated m&m's in blue or green plastic cups and crunch on them while watching TV. To this day, I prefer my m&m's cold.

My grandfather had a full vegetable garden. I loved picking cucumbers and biting carrots fresh out of the ground. They tasted so sweet. I imagine the flavor has become enhanced in my memory over time, but that's OK. They were the best carrots I've ever eaten. My grandfather still has a vegetable garden, although it is at a different house. And now, I watch my daughter help him pluck tomatoes and cucumbers from their stems.

I guess I'm just feeling reminiscent today and contemplating what my daughter's childhood summer memories will be. I hope they are full of fun, adventures, and air-conditioning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kitchen Wish List. From Basic to Extravagant.

These photos aren't mine. All pictures are linked back to the original source.

1. Food Processor.Seriously, isn't it odd that I don't have one of these? I want one. I've made due without one by using my blender. But seriously, you can't make pie crust in a blender. Yes, I use the manual cutter thing, but not having a food processor is almost embarrassing.

2. Grill Pan.

Quorn cutlets would be pretty sweet on this! Corn on the cob would be too. Or Boca burgers. Or paninis!

3. Mortar & Pestle.

I don't really know *why* I want one. I just do. Oh wait, to grind up some herbs. Yeah, that's why.

4. Pasta Roller Attachment.

I want to try to make my own pasta. $150 seems like a lot of money just to try something, though. I wish I knew some one who had one, just so I could try it out.

5. Cupcake Carrier.

I don't think an explanation is needed. It's just super practical.

6. Cake Dome.

OK, I don't really need one of these, but I'd like one; preferably vintage. It's charming.

7. Rotating cake stand.

Would be a lot easier to frost cakes.

8. Cake server.

I should really have one of these. It's ridiculous that I don't.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rose the Fairy.

We're still getting visits from Rose the Fairy in her daytime butterfly disguise. We say hello and wave. Often she waves back with her wings. I have to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying my second childhood.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Easy as Pie.

I have a confession. It's difficult to admit. It's kind of embarrassing as well. Please don't think any less of me.


Here goes...

I suck at making fruit pies. There. I said it. *looking down at feet*

Seriously. I've never found a crust recipe that tastes good to me. There is never enough filling and/or it's too runny. The crust gets soggy. I want to be good at making pies. They seem so comforting. And so simple. I don't have a family recipe for fruit pies either, which kind of makes me sad. Now, if you need an heirloom poundcake recipe, or a cheese pie recipe, or a cookie recipe, then look no further, I've got you covered.

Where am I going with this? Well, I had about 8 about to rot peaches. (sounds yummy, right?) But seriously, they were so sweet, too soft for me to want to just eat them. So, I went to for a recipe for anything peach-related that didn't involve milk (none in the house) or eggs (still in my mother's fridge). Pie! Ooh. Look at this pie recipe! Sounds good and a little different! No bottom crust to get soggy! The reviews say how easy it is! I have cardamom! Serendipity!

So, Abby and I started with the crust (after warning her that pie crust must chill in the fridge for 7 years... that's the pre-school equivalent of 1 hr.). Things were going swimmingly. Ooh, and the raw dough is very tasty! This is going to be the perfect summer's evening dessert.

We work on the filling. I'm thinking I may not have enough peaches, so I added a mango. Same color and equally as sweet. I'm so creative! We smell the cardamom and declare it wonderful.

Finally the pie crust is ready to roll out. The child does this (with some help from me) and she expertly cuts out little hearts with a cookie cutter.

After consulting with my friend and expert apple pie baker, we conclude just to sprinkle the crust with water (remember, out of milk & eggs) to make the raw sugar stick to the crust. No biggie.

The pie comes out of the oven. My house smells pretty damn delicious. This will be so good!!!

After everyone was in bed (my husband went to bed early and my daughter had Mr. Softee for dessert), I cut myself a slice of the pie.

The result: Meh.

The crust, well the crust was delicious. I will keep this crust recipe. The filling was scanty and reminiscent of baby food laced with perfume. The cardamom just didn't do it for me. Too much, or just not the right spice for me. I think allspice would have been perfect. I would normally say, "Oh well, next time." But, I'm pretty sure there won't be a next time. Hey, at least it's pretty!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kinda Vegan Cupcakes.

I bought a dozen and a half eggs while I was at the grocery store getting the dinner supplies me and my sister needed to make dinner at my mom's house. Me & Abby were going to do some baking! She had the baking itch, and I kinda did as well. I planned on going through the Martha Stewart Living from February which featured a ton of awesome cupcake recipes. I made one awhile back and was looking forward to trying something less complicated, but just as delicious.

And then I left my mom's house and the eggs in her fridge. *sigh*

So, out comes the good ol' "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." I swear, that is the greatest cupcake book ever! I wanted to try the chai latte cupcakes, but the three-year-old won. She just wanted chocolate cupcakes, so that's what we made.

I didn't feel like making frosting, so I decided to dip some super delicious and sweet strawberries into those freakishly unnatural candy wafers that are sold at the craft stores. (I have a lot left over from the shower cake I made last month.) I topped the cupcakes with the dipped strawberries and viola! A delicious Abby-pleasing cupcake.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flower Power.

My mind is continually spinning thinking up different ideas for stuff to do with the child; it's quite the challenge, really. Today while making coffee, I decided it would be a good idea to do something with coffee filters. I mean, it's a pretty awesome craft supply because they're cheap and you can get 10,000 for like .40. Well, not really, but I'm feeling hyperbolic today.

So, we went outside in the horrific August-is-here-in-Philly-and-it's-kicking-everyone's-butt weather, and sprayed coffee filters with water. We then painted them with water colors and let them dry. It didn't take long in the heat. We then assembled flowers.

Fun craft. Playing with water outside. Sweat dripping down neck and back. Time to go inside to the air-conditioning.

To make the flowers:
1. Insert a pipe cleaner (I guess green would be the appropriate color since it's supposed to be a stem; but in our house, we get visits from fairies, so any color will do. We used pink.) in two just-off-center spots of the coffee filter. One side should be longer than the other. The shorter side should be about 1" or so.
2. Twist the small part of the pipe cleaner around the longer side a couple of times.

3. Gather the bit of the coffee filter that is attached to the pipe cleaner and wrap the pipe cleaner up a bit. (You're kind of making the stamen of the flower.) I know this sentence if completely unclear, but I'm not sure how else to word it!)

4. All finished!

Thought for the Day.

There's no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat. ~Wesley Bates

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fairy Cottage.

Yesterday as I was cleaning up breakfast, the child asks, "Now what?!" It was 9:30am. My mind quickly scans our usual non-TV activities: painting, coloring, drawing, matching games, candy land, gluing things to other things. These things usually last about 10 minutes (at most) each. *sigh*

I don't know where this thought came from, and oddly, it was coming out of my mouth even before my brain realized it was: "Let's make a fairy house!" And so we did. We went outside and collected twigs, pinecones, the spiny parts of the coneflowers, pieces of bark, and acorns. Inside, we gathered an old birdhouse (that oddly enough, I decorated with fairies a few years back), feathers, pompoms, glitter glue, paint, ribbon and beads. (The perk of being a crafty collector is that you have all this cool stuff laying around!)

I was surprised when the outside collection process lasted about 45 minutes. During this time we were wondering what color fairies like, and what they eat. I could not believe she was so into this!

As she started to paint the house, I burned the tips of my fingers off with the glue gun while applying twigs. She painted little rocks and I (more carefully) glued them on. She used the glitter glue to attach the pom poms and ribbon. This took just about an hour! A record!!!

We wrote a letter to the fairies. Happily, this morning we found a letter from a fairy named Rose. She thanked Abby for the beautiful cottage and asked her if she could move in some of her stuff. Rose also told us her friends' names: Lily, Daisy, Persephone & Violet.

We were suprised to find out that fairies disguise themselves as butterflies during the day! Who knew!? Yesterday we actually touched Rose's yellow & black wing as she was feeding on our butterfly bush. Rose commented that she liked it when we pet her.

Abby was very upset that the Rose & her friends didn't stay around for her to see her. We'll write her another letter tonight and hopefully she'll give us an explanation.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Sometimes (all the time) I think too much. I can easily dwell on things that I don't like about my life: my weight, my lack of money, my family crisis (not to sound cryptic, but those of you who know me, know the situation).

When you open your eyes and the first thing your husband tells you is the balance of your checking account, and you already realized that you have to email some one back about when he can see his grandchild, and last night you realized that you weigh almost as much as you did before you lost 56 lbs., it makes your mind feel heavy and your heart ache. You feel as if, if another person says something even remotely snide, your eyes will well with tears.

And then you decide to look at pictures and you see pure joy. You realize you're a damn drama queen and that it's possible to be gloriously happy just swinging on a swing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Last summer I made a polenta tomato tart from the Whole Foods website. It was pretty good. A light summer dinner. I was going to make it again last night. Then I went to the grocery store and refused to pay $7.99 for sun-dried tomatoes. And then were out of basil.

I adapted. I created a polenta caramelized balsamic-rosemary onion tomato and goat cheese tart. It was delicious.

Polenta Caramelized Balsamic-Rosemary Onion, Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Polenta (I used pre-made polenta that I crumbled and smooshed into a greased tart pan)
2 large onions
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
3-4 plum tomatoes (seeded and diced)
olive oil
pat of butter/margarine
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8c sugar
spring of fresh rosemary
sea salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Crumble and smoosh prepared polenta into a greased tart pan. Splash some olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes until a little golden brown.

While polenta is baking, thinly slice onions and saute in pan with sea salt, olive oil and pat of butter. As onions start to sweat, add sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary that is removed from stem. Continue to cook onions until they are a rich brown color and the vinegar has evaporated. (About 20-30 mintues)

When polenta is golden, remove from oven and spread caramelized onions over top. Sprinkle goat cheese on top of onions and then layer with diced tomatoes and freshly pressed (or chopped) garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and put in oven for 10-15 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy with a fresh salad!

Monday, August 3, 2009


I've been wanting to make some ice cream. Actually, I've been wanting to make peanut butter, banana, honey ice cream, since my recent favorite snack is Wasa crackers with natural crunchy peanut butter, honey drizzled on top of that, and then sliced banana on top of it all. I don't know what's going on with me, but I'm changing. I used to not like peanut butter, now I can't get enough. I used to intake about 8 splendas a day, now more than 1 and I get nausea and a headache. I know. Don't say it. I'm getting older.
Anyhow, since my daughter doesn't like peanut butter, I didn't make it. On a whim, I went to the epicurious website and searched on gelato. Lots of delicious things came up, but this one caught my attention, mainly because I had everything but the chocolate & the whole milk.
It was a time consuming process, but very much worth it, if not for the end-result gelato, but for the realization that, if you don't put the mixture in the ice cream maker, you have a kick-ass nutella-flavored pudding. The possibilities!!! Cream pies, a dollop (I hate that word) over strawberries, or just not-so-plain old chocolate pudding. YUM!