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!

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

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
cocoa powder (add extra sugar to taste)
peppermint extract
flavored teas
toasted coconut
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.(

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

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.
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