handmade christmas: thumb-print cards

We had fun making these cards. My tot and I thumbed out penguins, frogs, mice, rabbits, elephants, and more.

I have been thinking about other animals to try ever since -- ladybugs, hippos, giraffes, hedgehogs, deer... oh my.


handmade christmas: socktopus

It's kind of funny to me that the main reason I haven't done any knitting these past several months (my baby) received the only knitted gift I made this year.  

This little socktopus is a fun pattern from knitty.  I put a couple of bells in the head/body so it softly jingles when the baby is whippin' it around the room, but mostly it just gets sucked on. All those feet are good for wee teething gums. 


handmade christmas: cross stitch

Life in pixels!

My family got pixelated portraits this year for Christmas. This was my first attempt at cross stitch since high school and I am hooked. When I had completed my family, I kept going with one for the in-laws. (Thanks to good ol' Martha Stewart for the idea.)

The stitching is very therapeutic. (Unless of course you are stitching while bouncing on an exercise ball with a sleeping baby strapped to your chest. I can't recommend that too much.)

But actually I had the most fun with the design phase of these. Trying to capture an age and stage in just a few pixels was fun, even though I went through quite a bit of graph paper to get the details right. In some cases I still fell short (that darn baseball cap! glasses look like unibrows!) but I'm happy with the results overall. Hairstyles make a big difference, as does choice of shirt.

But man, you think you know someone until you try to remember the details... what colour are their eyes? what colours do they usually wear? on what side of their head do they usually part their hair?

I have one more in mind to make for another sweet family, but then I'm not sure where to go with this new addiction. I don't really like a lot of the cross stitch patterns I see. I mean, I love the stuff Wee Little Stitches does, but what to do with all of it when you're done? I don't really see myself with lots of cross stitches hanging on my walls. So watch out family and friends, that means I'll be giving it away.

my brother's sweater vest, my favourite detail 


for the love of cardamom

I love cardamom and I like butter so I tried to make these cardamom shortbreads. I must've done something wrong  (not measure out enough butter?) because my dough was a crumbly mess.

I ended up pressing it into ball-like shapes, rolling in powdered sugar and baking that way because the dough just laughed and fell into a million pieces when I took out my rolling pin. Even though the flavour was fantastic, the texture of the final cookie was still disappointingly crumbly and dry. Sad.

Still, I'm excited to try other recipes on that Remedial Eating blog -- lots of beautiful pictures of stuff I want to eat.

My craving for cardamom cookies not yet satisfied, I went for this Martha Stewart recipe. To quote my now-three year old, 'That's what I'm talkin' about!' Now I have a recipe that I can haul out year after year.  Happy. 


cruciferous veg

Have you ever hearrd a two year old ask for more brussel sprouts?

Yeah, neither had I. In fact, I had never asked for more brussel sprouts. But we received some little beauties from our farm share and I was forced to try them again. Dee-licious. (Have you ever seen brussel sprouts growing on their stalk? Funny looking things.)

Okay, boiling or steaming is absolutely not the way to prepare these in my opinion. Not after you've tried them roasted in a little lemon juice, minced garlic and plenty of salt (Elise's recipe here). This is much like the cauliflower recipe on the same recipe blog, which we've made a few times.

Sorry, no pictures. We ate them too fast -- and that's the honest truth.

Head on over to Simply Recipes to see 'em and make 'em.



Pomegranates are in the stores again. Happy day. 

You probably know this trick already, but to seed a pomegranate without getting squirted by juice, immerse the halves in a bowl of water and gently pry the seeds out while they're under water.  No mess, no fuss. 


pita crisps

I thought I had mentioned these pita crisps before, but I guess I haven't. Shame on me, because they are deserving (and so are you!) 

I prefer the British terminology of crisps for chips and chips for fries. I don't necessarily use the terms myself, but they makes more sense to me. Crisps are what they are. And these, my friends, are pita crisps. Extra crunchy.

I can attest that these are great with bean dips, with otherwise boring bowls of soup, and with a hunk of cheddar in the middle of the night.

pita crisps

pita bread
olive oil
sea salt
dried thyme, or other dried seasoning of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Halve the pita bread, if it's the kind with pockets, to make thin flat pieces. Cut with scissors into strips or triangles or go wild and make free-form shapes for the kids.  Spread out in single layer on un-greased baking sheets. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and crushed, dried thyme. (Black pepper would also be good.) Bake until crispy and golden, about 10-15 minutes. Check frequently, as they burn easily. Can serve immediately or after they've cooled to room temperature. Will keep for a day in an airtight container.


brown-bread-muffin bread

I was looking for just a little something to make our faux minestrone soup go down a little easier. A couple of warm, buttered slices of this bread did the trick.

In the cookbook, this is called 'hearty brown bread.'  I was thinking it would be kind of a dark-rye, healthy bread, but it isn't really. I mean, I'm sure it's not unhealthy, but it's more brown-bread-muffin-like. It's nice and moist (apologies too all that can't stand that word) and the recipe is so darn easy -- no rising even -- I'll be making it again.

But enough talk about bread.

hearty brown bread
Albertina's, a restaurant in Portland
1 loaf

3 C whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
2 C buttermilk
1/2 C molasses

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Stir in wet ingredients. Pour into well-greased loaf pan. Bake until tester comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. (Mine took closer to 1 hour 20 minutes.)


for the record - 2012

Getting my annual canning accomplished this year was definitely a team effort. Jeff played zone defense with the kids while I was in the kitchen. Buying, cleaning, prepping, canning -- everything takes way longer with a baby in the house! I'm stoked that we managed to get so much done (I just won't tell you how many weekend days we had to devote to the task!) 

30lbs blueberries in freezer
bunches and bunches of fresh basil, pureed with olive oil, frozen in ice cubes
17 quarts canned roma tomatoes (from 27 lbs)
21 pints canned peaches (and one warm peach crisp from 17.5lbs) 
plum-apricot jam
blueberry-strawberry-raspberry freezer jam
9 pints spiced, chunky applesauce 

I want just one more day of canning this year  -- for plain pear-sauce and applesauce for the babe -- and then I can put away the supplies for the year. 


the theme is pumpkin

Happy Thanksgiving, to all you fellow Canucks. We kicked off the holiday weekend with pumpkin pancakes. I can recommend these spiced flapjacks, especially to those that have to wait another month for turkey and trimmings.

This recipe was scrawled on a post-it note so I have absolutely no idea where it recipe came from. My apologies.

pumpkin pancakes
serves 4

2 1/2 C flour
4 Tbs sugar
4 teas baking powder
1 teas cinnamon
1 teas ground ginger
1 teas salt
1/4 teas nutmeg
1/8 teas ground clove
1 egg
1 egg white
3/4 C pure pumpkin puree
4 Tbs butter, melted
2 C milk

Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, pumpkin puree, melted butter and milk. Fold wet into dry. Cook on buttered skillet.


Also on the menu this weekend, standing in for turkey and stuffing are my go-to roast chicken and a new wild rice pilaf. And for dessert, pumpkin ice cream and ginger cookies.

The food is prepped so all that's left to do is sit back, relax, and wait for our company to arrive. The artist among us may also want to put some finishing touches on her table decorations.



I'm really enjoying a couple of photography sites right now. I know I've mentioned habit before, but have you seen dear photograph?


pazzo for pizza

Hey there, peeps. Please excuse erratic my erratic posting of late. A baby happened, summer happened, and well, you understand.

But speaking of cornmeal...

Humdrum it may be, but I have a soft spot for cornmeal. I love cornbread, swoon over cornmeal pancakes, and I can't resist a pizza with a cornmeal crust.

And so, as it happens from time to time, we've been eating quite a lot of pizza lately. My go-to crust recipe is this one from Martha Stewart (but I sub half the flour for whole wheat). I like that it freezes well. (One friend of mine uses tortillas brushed with olive oil for an even easier, crispy pizza crust.)

My simple tomato sauce is usually a few of my jarred tomatoes, a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, and some dried basil and oregano. We tend to keep toppings a simple fare of sauteed veggies, sometimes sausage, and some cheese grated over the whole mess.

Other nights we get more creative, with fresh goat cheese ricotta from our friend 'Farmer Dave', bacon, sauteed leeks and peppers, and fresh tomatoes to make it pretty.

But back to cornmeal. Know any good recipes? I'm all ears.  


tomatillo salsa

I'm loving our CSA this summer. 

Even though it's made me use way more rutabaga and cabbage than I otherwise would have, it's also provided us with the tastiest carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, lettuce, etc.  

And I used tomatillos for the first time. Tried them in this green salsa. Exciting stuff. 


wet coast wools

My friend Glenda opened a yarn store!

It's amazing, folks. I wish you could all stop by and see it (and buy something!) But hey, if you're not in Vancouver, you can shop anytime at the beautiful website

I've instructed my hubby to get me something from her shop for the gift-giving occasions on the calendar. There are so many great yarns and doodads to choose from. Like this ultra-soft yak yarn, or this amazing (and environmentally responsible) wool from Imperial Yarn in Oregon.  I don't own a stitch counter, I need a 16" circular, and, well, I think I'm going to just make a wish list and leave it with Glenda. 

I'm so happy for her. I swear, this city has never had such a kind, knowledgeable, helpful, and talented yarn store owner. Three cheers for Glenda!


beer and chocolate

Why, hello! Sorry I've stayed away for so long. What's been happening around here? Not much and a lot, all at the same time. A needy baby, a toddler... and homemade ice cream. 

For Jeff's birthday I got him the ultimate self-serving gift: the ice cream maker attachment for our KitchenAid. Wow, making your own ice cream is fun. And then you get to eat ice cream!

The first batch was guiness-chocolate ice cream from the reigning ice cream guru, David Lebovitz. Great stuff. The next batch was blueberry frozen yogurt. A tad sweet, and not unlike frozen blueberry pie filling, but practice will make perfect. 


paper crafts

My toddler goes nuts for scissors and glue and anything she dubs "arts and crafts" so I'm always on the lookout for stuff that fits the bill. 

Mr Printables fits the bill!  It's got a ton of cool paper crafty stuff for kids, and the cone girls have been a big hit around here.  

And PaperMatrix has some beautifully intricate paper crafts for those of you up for a challenge. I want to try my hand at those hot air balloons someday.

(Thanks to How About Orange for the tips.)


banana-y muffins

Remember that slogan 'kid-tested, mother-approved'? If muffins needed slogans, that one fits these bran-banana muffins. 'Cause even though I only added about 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, you'd have thought they were covered in chocolate given the resulting smile!

[recipe here, but sub chocolate for nuts and butter for margarine]

And while we're on the subject of banana muffins, here's another recipe I've made a couple of times (but again subbing in butter for whatever oil it calls for.) It's quite nutty, for when you're feeling... well, like a nut. 


magic ribbon stick

dowel + ribbons + duct tape = 1 magic stick and 1 happy kid


proscuitto + egg + baguette

I'm slowly surfacing after my babymoon. So much so that we had some good friends over for brunch last weekend and I made something new! 

It was all very exciting, coming from the land of frozen soup and frozen mac 'n cheese

These eggy baguettes from a recent Martha Stewart mag are pretty tasty. My only complaint is that they are a tad awkward to eat, but that's a small price to pay for such a union of delicious ingredients. Proscuitto, lemon, parsley, parmesan, baguette, and egg. What's not to like? Especially since they are darn simple to make. 

Just add fruit salad, yogurt, and a strong cup of tea to help you forget the hours you were awake with the baby the night before.



right on cue

Babies are funny.

Within 5 hours of publishing that post, our daughter was born. No joke, guys.

Since I will have my hands full for a while -- and it probably won't be because of new crafts or recipes -- I'll just say catch ya' later!


slow knitting

I've got a few knitting projects on the go in anticipation of keeping my idle hands busy while my newborn sleeps quietly in the next room and my toddler quietly plays by herself... 


I don't have a deadline for any of these projects precisely because it may take me a year (or more) to complete any of them. Oh I suppose it'd be nice if the vest fit my kid this fall, but it's coming out so large that I think I've bought myself an extra year without meaning to. 

a soft, soft alpaca cowl for me

a plum vest for the toddler (made before, but this time I'll try some mods)

and an orange and white chevron blanket, stroller-sized

And yes, for those of you keeping track, I'm still pregnant. I've become walking proof of statistical outliers. 


apple, raisin and oat scones

All agreed these scones are fantastic. They're not too sweet, or heavy either. 

Bonus: rustic, organic-shaped scones means you don't have to clean muffin tins 

apple, raisin and oat scones
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 2/3 C all-purpose flour (I subbed out 2/3 C for whole wheat), plus more for rolling
1 1/3 C rolled oats
1/4 C plus 2 Tbs brown sugar
3/4 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas nutmeg
2 teas baking powder
3/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 C diced apple (2 apples), cut into generous 1/4" cubes
1/2 C raisins
1 C cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1/2 teas pure vanilla extract
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in cold butter (I use my fingers) until a coarse meal forms. Add apples, raisins, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir until dough just comes together.

Turn out dough onto floured surface and pat into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle. Cut into twelve squares with a floured knife and place a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheets. At this point, you could brush the tops with buttermilk, then sprinkle with additional oats and sugar. I lazily skipped the buttermilk and oats and went straight for sugar, no harm done. Bake until golden (20-22 mins), rotating sheets halfway through baking time. Let cool on sheets for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I'm freezing them for later breakfasts, hoping the apples retain an appetizing consistency.)


summer dresses

Nesting. That's what's happening 'round these parts these days. 

For me, nesting includes plenty of sewing. And I'm happy to report that my list of items 'to sew before baby' is all crossed off!  I'll spare you the pictures of bassinet sheets and burp cloths, and instead share the specs for a couple of toddler summer dresses.

First, the one I loooove:

Using some Japanese fabric I've been hoarding for a while now, I made a 'pillowcase' dress, using this pattern, but the yoke from this pattern (which I've used before).  I'm such a newbie to garment sewing, even the simplest construction techniques are new to me. Like this was the first time I've used single-fold bias tape to shape and finish arm holes -- a trick I'm sure I'll use again.

And in a distant second place:

I love this green paisley fabric, but the resulting dress is a bit more 'pajama' than I expected. I used this peasant dress tutorial, just shortened the sleeves. I thought this would be the easier of the two dresses, but all that elastic casing was a bit fiddly.

Ok, enough sewing talk for a while.  I just made some tasty new scones so I'll hook you up with the recipe soon. 



I think I may have to wait 'til next year to make mini pinatas for Cinco de Mayo.

Super cool, eh? Check out her whole pinata series -- she's also done an alligator and jumbo numbers.


a quilt for the interim

A few years ago, I started making a beautiful yellow, gray and white summer quilt. It has, however, languished in my WIP box ever since my kid was born. I simply can't find the time or energy to get back into the piecing that was so fun at the time.

Meanwhile, every summer, Jeff and I make do with no summer quilt. Last summer I think we ended up layering flannel sheets, mostly because I refuse to go buy something when I know I can make one. Heck, I've got one half-made under the bed already!

Enter our 'in the interim' quilt. Until I get back to making my real summer quilt, the that requires math and concentration, we'll be using this rainbow quilt. Or rather, we'll be using these cut up old sheets with a strip of rainbow across the top and a pick-from-the-colours-they-have store-bought bias tape for binding.  Nothing fancy, but light, summery, and happy nonetheless.

And it's finished before both the baby and this year's hot weather arrive, which makes me happier still.


crayon roll

I swear, most of the projects I make for kids are basically attempts to recreate things I would have loved as a kid. Crayons that each have their own pocket in a colourful roll-up travel case? I would have been over the moon.

Here's the tutorial I used. Pretty simple stuff. A simplified version of my knitting needle case.

I love this version, where each crayon has its own colour-coordinated pocket. But since these are for toddlers, that level of organization seemed like overkill.


sweater with juniper buttons

Now the baby can come. His/her little sweater is finished. 

*pattern here


sweet, sweet radishes

Someone's been holding out on me.

For years, I've passed radishes over on veggie plates because any radish I've ever tasted was just too peppery, too bitter, and downright zingy. Even the ones sliced paper-thin were just too much. Well, we just received a bunch from our new friend Dave and I've been eating them whole, people! That's how sweet these beautiful little radishes are.

We've joined Dave's vegetable CSA and I'm very excited about all the greens, leeks, beets, tomatoes, snap peas, swiss chard, you-name-it, and radishes heading our way this summer. Since last year's foray into gardening was a total bust (I blame our non-existent summer and a shady garden plot), I'm pretty stoked about finding our neighbourhood's Farmer Dave.


final stretch

Pardon the radio silence. I know it's been a bit quiet around here.

My excuse? Well today, I'm busy noshing on one of my favourite crispy treats and working on a sweet cardigan for a certain little sister/brother. Yep, I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but we're expecting Baby No. 2 soon.

The mossy jacket (free on ravelry) is a great little pattern, and I'm knitting it up in the lovely Cascade Eco. I'm just puttin' on the button band so I'll share a pic of the finished sweater later.

Now if I could just wrap my head around the fact that there will soon be a newborn in the house as well as this busy toddler... good times ahead.