Tuesday, December 29, 2009

no two snowflakes are alike.

Although we missed out on a white Christmas, snow is finally falling in Portland - it took us 45 minutes to get home when it usually takes 15 - and I had the pleasure of watching it fall all afternoon through the huge windows at the coffee shop where I work. It made me think about how unique each snowflake is - millions and millions, every single one different.

Last night Andy told me about Wilson Bentley, a nineteenth-century farmer who captured his first photo of a snowflake in 1885 and spent his life taking over 5,000 photos that show the intricacies of snowflakes and ice crystals. What a miracle!









Wednesday, December 16, 2009

festive wrapping and shipping paper (cheap).


I keep my Trader Joe's paper grocery bags under the sink...

and VOILA!

festive shipping and wrapping paper!

And did anyone notice that stamps went up to 44 cents? If you received a Christmas card in the mail from us, I have some serious affection for you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

kitchen cheer.

Winter makes me want this kitchen featured on Design Sponge even more! It's small but it looks efficient, bright, and well-organized (I see you, Ikea racks!)

I've been up to things...sewing, edibles...but no pictures yet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

simple spiced coffee & some stiff upper lip.



We usually go out to breakfast on Saturday mornings but this past Saturday morning we stayed home and made breakfast instead. Sourdough waffles (from a starter I've managed to keep alive, more about that another day) and spiced coffee.

Trader Joe's featured their own brand of holiday spiced coffee that they had on sample a while ago, and it was so good that I went back for seconds, although it is hard to maneuver a shopping cart down teeny aisles in a crowded store while sipping a hot beverage from a dixie cup.

We made our own version using the french press.

What you'll need :

French press (or drip!)
Fresh coffee beans
1 - 2 tsp. cinnamon, 3-5 whole cloves, and a few red & white peppercorns

Grind up the spices with your coffee and brew how you like it. You can adjust the spice level according to your preferences after you make the first pot.


Well thank you, I will.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Portlanders who love Christmas AND vintage finds!

Found, The collective shop that Poppy & Ivy is a part of (love her blog!) is hosting Santy Claus tomorrow night! I heard from One Gal's Trash (love hers too!) that there might be champagne too...I'm so there! 4743 NE Fremont St.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lookie lookie!

Lookie what Iiiii just purchased on Etsy! K is for Calligraphy's beautiful "12 Days of Christmas" tags. I don't know what I'm going to do with them. They would be lovely as Christmas tree ornaments, or I may part with them if I think of someone who would fall in love with them as I did. I haven't decided. But I can't wait to get them in the mail!

I actually looked into going to Calligraphy school in London when I lived over there. I picked it up as a hobby and bought all sorts of books, nibs, ink, writing paper, etc. I went so far as to start emailing with one of the professors at the art school and gathered all sorts of information. But when I came back, it all got put away, for reasons I can't remember. I need to pull it back out. Katy has inspired me. In the meantime, I'll just keep buying her stuff :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

baileys.


Our neighbors/landlords had us over for dinner last night. He is an amazing cook, and we always look forward to eating with them....After dinner, but before dessert, he made everyone Baileys Hot Cocoa. It was so creamy and delicious...I know most people have had it but I just have to make sure because it's sad if you haven't.

I went to Baileys.com and looked at all their drink recipes, after going through the rounds of them having me enter my birthdate to check my legal status. Really? But once I got through - Yum! I can't believe I don't keep a bottle of this stuff in the cupboard at all times.

Drinksmixer.com has pages of Bailey's recipes, including "Slippery Eggs", "Leprechaun's Lunch", "Moo Moo", and the most disgusting..."Tummy Blower". But worth checking out for the upcoming holiday season!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

bread and toast


One big reason to look forward to this time of year is all the delicious loafs and breads that come piping hot out of toasty ovens. Mmmm. Martha's slideshow about quick breads made my mouth water. I especially want to try the Chocolate Marble Cake with Ganache, picture below. Breads also make great gifts, IF they make it out of the house!


The new Christmas issue of Toast UK's catalog is also out. I want everything in this spendy, artsy little catalog. I decided to treat myself and purchase an ornament that was only 4 pounds, but I went to checkout and the minimum shipping cost is 25 pounds! That's almost 50 dollars! No Toast ornament for me this year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

gluten-free meatballs.

Meatballs are surely chameleons. You can add so many different flavors and spices that no meatball need ever be the same. Here's my version, which I add to or subtract from every time. They're also gluten-free.

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 egg, gently mixed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 heaping cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients together by hand, shape into balls and cook over medium-low heat in olive oil. Finish off the meatballs by simmering in tomato sauce, and serve over brown rice spaghetti to keep this meal gluten-free. I served with a salad made up of baby romaine and lamb's lettuce.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

bitty baby booties.

I downloaded this free pattern for Baby Booties off of Heather Bailey's blog, and they were simple to make. You can download your own copy if you're looking for Christmas gifts for little ones!

Remnants are perfect for this pattern - I had a few bags of remnants that I had bought a while back from Bolt Fabric and Josephine's Dry Goods, and was able to put a little bit of this pretty blue and brown to good use.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

I love pumpkin. A little more than the average person, I do believe. I did a pumpkin post last fall, where I made pumpkin muffins and pancakes (FAIL) and pumpkin chili (WIN), and a pumpkin cheesecake (DRAW). This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine's special christmas baking issue from last year, and instead of using the honey frosting, which does look delicious, I used the cinnamon glaze recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. So. Good.

(From Martha Stewart's Everyday Food)

I spun off the cake a little, and also the frosting. So it technically isn't the same cake. Here is Martha's original recipe, including the Honey Frosting.

CAKE:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar (cut from 1 1/2)
1 can pumpkin puree
6 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately, adding dry to pumpkin mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into 9 in. greased (coconut oil or butter) pan, bake for 45-50 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, glaze or ice.

Cinnamon Icing, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which I used as a "glaze".

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil (or margarine as the book suggests, ick!), melted

Whisk together, keeping at room temp. until ready to use. Drizzle over cake.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

apple pressin' and a comforting cider recipe

We went on a little getaway with our good friends up to Puget Sound, where we attended their traditional family cider-making party. It was such a great experience, it felt fall-ish and harvest-y and like we were taking part in the deep roots of the Pacific Northwest.

Every person had a job,
whether it was loading the apples, washing the apple, sorting the apples, cutting the apples, pressing the apples, or scooping up the cider and filling milk jugs through cheesecloth. It was a great social time, plus the potluck afterwards was one of the best that I had EVER been to. Especially the apple champagne, which someone had taken the apple juice from last year's pressing and added champagne culture, letting it ferment throughout the year. So crisp and bubbly!


Bottling the good stuff

Custom apple presses

1700 pounds of organic Washington apples

The end result

View from the cabin

The cabin - it was everything I hoped it would be!

The next Tuesday, a group of friends met up to go through the corn maze on Sauvie Island; one of our friend's sisters actually lives full time on the farm and allowed us to heat up cider on her stove after we had completed the course. Friend Josh found this recipe for mulled cider and it is seriously delicious!

6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips or slices
1 lemon peel, cut into strips or slices

Pour cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel pan. Place the spices in the center of a clean square of cheesecloth, fold up, and tie with twine or string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture, and heat over moderate heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove cider from heat, discard spice bundle, and serve. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Pie of those Sheep-Herding Folk.


Fall is here. I know this because when I walk outside, I can smell it. I also know this because our house is still without heat and there is a distinct chill inside. We have always kept our living spaces cold because we're cheap and usually poor, but this time is different because we don't even have the option of heat available to us.

On a different note, someday it's my dream to have a little bit of property where I can raise some sheep. They are so multi-purpose! They are really cute, their wool is warm and soft, they taste good, and I think you can make really good cheese out of their milk. Naturally, the people who raise and "herd" the sheep must be lovely people, too, right? Of course, because they are also the bless-ed folk behind one of the coziest meals on the menu.

Shepherd's Pie, from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. (With a corny twist)


1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. flour
10 oz. (or your preference) frozen veggies. (We used frozen sweet corn and fresh mushrooms)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 cups mashed potatoes (this was 3 russet potatoes for us, boiled and smashed with butter)

1. Preheat oven to 425. Cook meat for 4-5 mins, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and onions are transparent, 4-5 mins.

2. Add thyme, ketchup and flour; stir until combined. Add about 1/2 c. water and vegetables, cook until warm and the whole liquid has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place mixture in baking dish. Spread potatoes evenly over mixture. Bake for 10-15 mins, adding cheese on top if you'd like. We only had parmesan cheese so I just sprinkled a little over the top. Serve hot with another steamed and buttered veg, like broccoli or green beans.

*What was our corny twist? I sliced up ready-made polenta and made a bottom crust for our pie, spooning the meat mixture over the top. It was delicious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

rock & roll, baby!


This is what I'm currently up to for my sister-in-law's upcoming baby boy, due end of October. Pattern is from Sublime Stitching, bibs in a five pack from Ikea, supplies from Fabric Depot. I hope to be done soon. The project started out roughly; I didn't really know how to embroider at all! To my rescue came my aunts, mom, and cousin Stefi, who during their visit last weekend helped me salvage it by teaching me some real stitches. Thank goodness for family.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some Notes from a Small Island




I can't believe this is still floating around in cyberspace...if feels like forever ago! It's my blog journal that I created while I was living in England with my Aunt and Uncle in 2004/5. It was the experience of a lifetime, and everything I wrote takes me back to that time and also chuckle a little bit at my silly self. I need to print all the pages off and get them bound so they last in case the internet goes the way of the Dodo. I'm a little curious about what happened to my updates at the end; we took the most amazing trip to Cornwall and I didn't write anything about it...I'm confused! I'll do some digging. Cornwall is the coolest place.


I also still get updates from Webshots on a monthly basis that tell me how many people look at my pictures, and even 5 years later, there are still about 90-100 views per week! It's crazy!

Disclaimer: Here's the problem with the name of this site, which I only realized way too late to change it. I'm a little irritated at myself still for this...The name of the web hosting site was 20 megs free, which "megs" is the amount of memory. Megs is also my nickname. And I was 20 at the time. So basically people unfamiliar with web hosting stuff might assume that I named my site 20 (age) Megs (me) Free (implying I was in a prison?) I feel bad for certain people who may have thought this was the case, and I have some specific faces in mind. Oh well *sigh*.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

two ways to feel refreshed and recharged.

We always feel refreshed after 1) visiting our family 2) a trip to the coast. So blessed to do both in one weekend!

Andy had the weekend off to relax before the coffee shop grand opening next weekend and things get really crazy. We decided to drive down to Jville to visit the family, including the newest member, Charlie Samuel Houdini Lee. He has everyone smitten. And my sister is starting 7th grade! How and when did this happen? She is our baby-it's a little traumatic for us all.


Our in-laws situation is unique in the best kind of way. My parents moved in next door to Andy's parents when I had just graduated high school, so they have been friends from even before Andy and I were even introduced two years later. We had a BBQ in the Kimmelshue backyard with a full moon rising over the mountains.

The last of Kay's hydrangeas - her yard is always beautiful.

From there we drove over to the coast and stayed at a little B&B in Seal Rock. We travelled up Highway 101 and enjoyed the majestic beauty that is the Oregon Coast.

Yaquina Head, half-mile hike up to the lighthouse...

What did I see? This...

Andy amongst the trees. Enjoying a beautiful afternoon beach stroll...
And a few leaps of joy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

patchwork quilt and a garden party

I finished this patchwork blanket tonight to give to my friend Jess, who just had her first baby, an adorable little guy named Mason. For her shower, I cut a bunch of squares and asked the attendees to write a little message using a fabric pen. It was fun! Everyone came up with inspiring and sweet messages. I patched them together yesterday afternoon, and today I stitched it to its flannel backing and finished it off with a satin binding. I'm excited to give it to her.

Unfortunately I don't have a good spot set up for sewing at our new place just yet, so I attempted it on the floor. Although I couldn't do it for hours on end because it starts to give me a backache, it works out great for small batches or projects done in increments.


Speaking of Mason, here he is. Isn't he precious! I had to leave the hospital early before I got to hold him, but I'm going home on Wednesday and then I'll get in some high-quality-baby-cuddling time. I can't wait.


Last night we attended a small garden party at a beautiful southeast home where a friend was housesitting. It was basically our dream house, everything about it was just amazing. Very tastefully and thoughtfully decorated, but when I learned that the owner was part-French, it all made sense.


I want a garden like this some day! We were also invited to "share" their keg of IPA and uncork some ex-cellent wine. We all brought dishes to share; hummus with soft pita, chips and salsa, brazilian cheesy bread (I forget the real name), fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from just a few steps away, tiny grapes grabbed from the arbor above our table, and a roasted chicken. The chicken was our contribution, as it has been for the last few get-togethers. Everyone loves it, so I think chicken is going to be our "thing".

Saturday, August 8, 2009

ice cream social


These pictures were taken with a cell camera so they aren't great, but last Wednesday night we had an ice cream social with an interesting twist - Ziplock Bag Homemade Ice Cream.

Everyone brought things to add and we all created our own types - we had an Earl Grey, a Chocolate Toasted Coconut, a really good vanilla, a Fresh Blackberry, and Basil. They were all very tasty...except mine. I brought our ice cream maker and planned to make Coconut Milk ice cream because I had talked it up and had interested the members of our group who were sensitive to dairy. Needless to say it failed. I didn't get the canister completely frozen and it never thickened, and I forgot to add sugar, so we ended up scooping it out of the beautiful stainless steel Cuisinart maker and shaking it up in a bag.

I have failed with coconut milk twice with this group. The first time was when we were going to a dinner party and I was bringing dessert, and I wanted to make coconut milk whipped cream. I didn't have time to go to the store to buy full fat milk so I had to make due with the dumb "lite" version, which I really don't like at all. Again, like the ice cream, it never thickened. I think I'll lay off on the coconut recipes with this group for a while...I think if I even mention the words everyone will groan a little inwardly...

Out of all this I've learned that because I hate to fail so much, sometimes it's healthy for me to actually do so...but come on, not twice in a row, with the same food, with the same group of people! Now that's just cruel!

Ingredients
small ziploc bags
large ziploc bags
1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 & 1/2, coconut milk, etc.
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup ice cream salt/rock salt/table salt

Directions
Combine the liquid ingredients in the small bag.
Securely seal the bag.
Combine ice and salt in the large bag.
Put the small bag inside the large one.
Seal and shake until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Flavor Ideas
strawberry
lemon
orange
cocoa powder (add extra sugar to taste)
peppermint extract
flavored teas
toasted coconut
oreos
favorite fruits or berries, too.

Basil Ice Cream

One of the girls brought Basil ice cream, and it was seriously delicious.

Plain vanilla ice cream, of good quality
Fresh Basil
Soften vanilla ice cream while you wash the basil and chop finely. Mix basil into ice cream, chill in freezer.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

happy feet.


This Martha Stewart craft makes my feet tingle with anticipation.

Tools and Materials Large basin or bucket Liquid fabric dye Salt (if needed; check dye directions) White canvas sneakers, laces removed.

Dyed Sneakers How-To
1. Fill basin with hot water. Add dye, and salt if specified, to water, following manufacturer's instructions for sink or bucket dyeing.
2. Wet sneakers with hot water, and place in dye bath.
3. Stir for amount of time stated on dye bottle. Rinse as directed.
4. Air-dry shoes, or place in dryer.
5. Clean basin immediately to avoid staining.

Idea and instructions courtesy of the creative team at Martha Stewart, delivered to my inbox daily as the "Martha Stewart Craft of the Day". She also offers "Cookie of the Day" and "Organizing Tip of the Day". You should subscribe if you want to.(http://www.marthastewart.com/craft-of-the-day)

Monday, August 3, 2009

I turned the oven on for *these cookies*

Our house has been consistently over 90 degrees, which has made even the thought of turning on the oven simply ludicrous. But I needed something that was not ice cream, something homemade and sweet to combat the recent plague of crankiness of biblical proportions. Then I remembered reading this recipe on Jen's blog and I decided that it would be worth the sweat beads on the forehead just to have these around this week.

Oh, and I promise I didn't sweat in the cookies. I think. But they're chilling in the fridge at the moment, so if I did, oh WELL.

Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies
(from Tiff's sister-in-law Jen's blog Wuthering Iris at www.wutheringiris.blogspot.com)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp butter, cooled until room temp
5 oz. cream cheese softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coconut toasted

Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.With electric mixer, or by hand mix butter and cream cheese together with a mixer until smooth. Add sugars and beat until thoroughly combined.Beat in vanilla until combined.Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in cooled coconut.Chill dough for at least 2 hours.When ready to bake cookies preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I joined the party.



The clafoutis party, that is. I made clafoutis for the first time after reading about it on a few different blogs - La Tartine Gourmande, Smitten Kitchen, Cooking with Amy, etc. The timing of it wasn't too good; just so you know, pork tacos and this custardy treat don't really go together that well, but luckily rhubarb and raspberries do! And I made a big batch of it so I ate it for breakfast and dessert, and once lunch, for the next few days. Fêtez !

I really like Béa's at La Tartine Gourmande:(http://www.latartinegourmande.com/2009/06/10/orange-strawberry-rhubarb-clafoutis/)

Friday, July 10, 2009

artichokes and lemons make good friends.


This was so easy. What you see is what you get! Then dip in melted butter. Don't forget the hearts, too. MMMmmmm.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Mini-Dissertation (or Soliloquy) on the Meaning of Life


So I've come to the conclusion that witnessing the birth of a child is one of the most profound events in life.

Before you say "DUH, you silly child!" bear with me (no pun intended, I promise!).

I was so honored when Tiff told me that I could be present for the delivery, and Lily Noel's was the first birth that I have ever witnessed. It was a moving experience. Truly, my feelings have been all over the place the past 24 hours, but this morning I settled down a little more and I think I realized how powerful the experience was and what an impact it had on me. I was sitting in class this morning and I couldn't understand why everyone was acting so normal. I had this little conversation with myself (this is where the soliloquy comes in...look it up, new fav word) :

"Wait, life goes on? No, something is different. What happens now? What do I do with myself? I shouldn't be here! I should be...celebrating or something, I don't know!"

It was very strange. Then I wanted to stand up and say,

"Do you people have ANY idea about what I just witnessed? Do you understand at all? Do you know what my friend just went through? ROBOTS, all of you!"

But thankfully I did not. Soliloquy ended.

I now also have some sort of idea about growing up, you know, those surreal moments when you realize that you are actually an adult and yes, that life is actually happening in these epic yet small moments. I always wondered how adult friends feel towards each other's children, and until recently I hadn't discovered how truly powerful the feeling is. I have 9 little nieces and nephews (related and "adopted") and I love each one of them more intensely than I expected to. They are all so precious.

And for the future deliveries that I will be a part of, I will now just assume that this feeling of awe and amazement will happen every time - a glance into the things of God, pain and beauty all jumbled together to make something miraculous, with 10 tiny perfect fingers and toes.

Now will someone please give me an honorary degree in Philosophy or something? Book deal, anyone? Any takers? No?