play with toys

Honk if you love Lego!

knit a doorstop
buy some recycled crayons -- men or bricks
make your own crayons or soaps (or ice, I suppose) with these ice cube trays
make some cookies
cuddle a knit lego man
buy a tee
pick a print from this art collection (I think this one's my favourite, or maybe this one)


papier-mache surprise eggs

Looking for a solution to silly plastic eggs? How about these beautiful papier-mache eggs!

Catch up with me next year and I'll have some photos to share. It's a little late (and my kid is a little young) to worry about making papier-mache surprise eggs in the next 24 hours -- but I love that we have a solution.


paper pinecone eggs

I don't like styrofoam. But I like this little project.

I need to find some substitute styrofoam eggs before Sunday.

Any ideas?

scarlet letter chicken with quinoa

I had a mason jar full of quinoa in the fridge for... I don't know, a year. But after making this dish a couple of times, and then trying variations of it a few times, all my quinoa is gone. Must buy more.

scarlet letter chicken with quinoa
from my friend's cookbook that I can't quite remember the name of -- I think it was called The New Grains
serves 4

1 chicken (3 1/2 - 4lb), cut into pieces
1 garlic clove, bruised
salt and pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 teas vegetable oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 C home-made or low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 C quinoa
1 teas chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Rub chicken with garlic and season with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute the chicken pieces until well browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the skillet. Add the shallot and saute, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as it cooks (so much flavour in those browned bits!) Return chicken pieces back to skillet and sprinkle with vinegar, cooking until the juices have almost evaporated. Add tomatoes to the pan. Pour the stock over the chicken and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.

Rinse quinoa under cold water. Drain. Add the quinoa to the juices around the chicken. Continue to cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender (10-15 mins). Sprinkle with fresh tarragon and parsley. Serve.


hand sewing

Finally stitched up some bunny finger puppets. So easy, you could make a bunny army -- a very non-menacing bunny army.

And I've been whipstitching some magnet letters à la this plush alphabet set. I doubt this will ever be a complete alphabet though -- hand sewing may be relaxing, but it takes time.


spring fling

Feeling bright blue? Or perhaps orange?

That's the choice with this sweet little reversible top. (free pattern from Prudent Baby)

Funny story. One exactly like it -- or rather exactly like it except for the size of the neck hole -- is sitting in the whatamIgoingtodowithyou pile. Yep, I made the whole thing, was just about to put on the bias tape, thought to try it on for size... and I couldn't get it over my kid's head! (Anyone else have scenes of So I Married an Axe Murderer in their head right now?)

In my kid's defense, it's not as if I measured anything when I 'followed' the pattern.

But my second attempt fits great. I'm thinkin' of making a third, but with oilcloth on one side for a wee artist's smock.

* mosiac maker c/o bighugelabs


sausage and mushroom papardelle

I have a big bag of dried Oregon portobello mushrooms in the freezer and let me tell you, a handful of those babies improves the flavour of almost anything. It doesn't necessarily make it taste mushroomy either -- there's something in mushrooms that actually enhances the flavour of whatever they're with. I use them more like a seasoning in my dishes, rather than another vegetable.

Anyway, we recently received a package of beautiful, dried mixed wild mushrooms along with this Jaime Oliver recipe. With so many different kinds of mushrooms, there was a ton of flavour. So, so good. Note to self: specialty dried mushrooms make a great gift.

In the tradition of the country store that has everything, Jack's Country Store on the Washington coast is a very cool place. You can order dried Oregon mushrooms from them, along with everything else under the sun. Seriously, they sell an amazing variety of fun stuff -- everything from cast iron pans to old fashioned candy, vintage toys to lug nuts for your car.

sausage and mushroom papardelle
adapted from Jaime Oliver's The Naked Chef Takes Off
serves 4

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
9 oz pork sausage; remove casings (not sure of the conversion -- I used 3 links)
olive oil
2 handfuls fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teas dried red pepper flakes
14 oz mixed wild mushrooms* roughly chopped
pappardelle, enough for 4 people
2-3 Tbs unsalted butter
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
freshly grated parmesan cheese

*If using dried mushrooms, you obviously don't need 14oz worth. Just use a couple of handfuls, enough for 4 people. Try chanterelle, shiitake, portobello, morel, etc. Reconstitute in warm water, drain, and then roughly chop. (Save the soaking liquid to add to your next soup!)

Fry onion, garlic, and sausage till cooked and golden brown. Add thyme, chili pepper and mushrooms. Continue to fry until mushrooms give off their juice. Scrape up any browned bits from pan.

Meanwhile, cook pasta, reserving a little cooking water.

Remove mushrooms from heat, season with a little pepper and stir in butter until melted. Toss with drained pasta and stir in a little cooking water if too dry. Serve, sprinkled with parsley and grated parmesan.