Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sprouts, Finally

Next to Lima beans, brussel sprouts get the worst wrap of all vegetables, don't you think? But really, they are great.  As with most foods, cooking them the right way is key.  Here's what I have learned. You may know everything I'm going to say, and I don't claim to be offering a great recipe here...I mostly just want to post a photo of this GIANT stalk of sprouts!

I had never seen how brussel sprouts grow until I stopped with my housemates at a farm near Monterey, CA.  This giant log-o-sprout was only $2.79!

After getting them home we had to snap each little orb off the stalk, wash it, and remove the outer leaves.

Then we cut them in half.

Our recipe told us to place them in a pan with olive oil, pepper, and salt--flat side down.  Cover and let steam for 5 min. Then you are supposed to remove the lid and turn up the heat, and the flat side is supposed to get carmelized.

Ours seemed more burnt than carmelized...but they were still good, especially with some chevre on top!  I made more the next night, just sauteed in olive oil and garlic, then grated some fresh parmesan over them.  Also delicious! After a weekend trip with the gals (full of taffy, beer, and burgers) a few meals with these green guys felt great.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Little Nook

My current bedroom has a wonderful little corner space in which I've nestled my bed, but it had an ugly door frame where there used to be an entrance into another room.  I've been experimenting with different solutions, and finally found something I'm happy with! So, here's a peek at part of my space.  Now, if I can just get around to cleaning up my desk, I can show you what the other sides of the room looks like! If you know me well, you'll know not to hold your breath on that one...  ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crafty Cardboard

I love making "something from nothing," just like my grandmother who once made a bird feeder consisting of a cream cheese tub handing from paper clips.  I found this wonderful idea for making hot pads out of cardboard on EvaForeva.  Check out the tutorial here if you are interested in trying yourself!  I used a rotary cutter (much faster thank scissors) and good 'ole elmer's glue.  After gluing each little coil I wrapped it in a rubber band to let it dry, and it worked like a charm!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Long Weekend

I'm back after a long holiday weekend, in which I made a quick getaway with some friends for Monterey!  The weather was gloomy, but our spirits were anything but.  Here are a few photo highlights.

Sunset on the beach.  We did cartwheels and headstands.  I tried to make friends with a big bird, but he flew away into the dimming light.

Jellies at the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.  These guys could put you in a trance.

In addition to this guy, we saw real live Nemo and Dori.  And sea horses!

A wrong turn brought unexpected treasure--an artichoke farm!!  I never knew how these puppies grew until now; I grew up seeing fields of corn fields and soybeans.  My housemate and I went in together on a huge stalk of brusell sprouts for only $2.79...which brings me to my next post...stay tuned!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Its the Least We Can Do

I know we are all still reeling from the tragedy in Haiti this week.  Thousands of people's lives will be changed forever, and my heart goes out to those I know who were personally affected.  While we might feel helpless in situations like these, we can do a little.  There are a number of ways to donate via Red Cross.  I also found an interesting list of links to other organizations and artists in the handmade artsy community helping out, which I found on the wonderful PoppyTalk blog:

CBC News Canada has an extensive list of organizations accepting donations. Amy from Handmade Evolution told us about a link from CNN. Her shop Field Trip is giving 20% of all her profits to Unicef now until Jan. 21st. Natasha of Bubbo is giving 100% of her profits from her Valentine's prints here and here. Here is a list of all the Etsians offering sales (so great). Indie Fixx is holding a fundraiser. And Victoria of Sfgirlbybay is offering $5 to the Red Cross from every Keep Calm poster sale as well and published a list yesterday of others helping out it the handmade communtiy, read it here.

Jen Renninger {aka Please be still} is donating $5.00 from each print sale until the end of the January to the Red Cross to aid for Haiti. Together we help, and every little bit can make a difference!!!

Cynthia Callan is dongating the proceeds of any heart item purchased from her etsy shop which will be donated to UNISEF.

Mannybeads is donating 100% of all sales to Partners in Health and their Earthquake Relief Efforts in Haiti. PIH has a long history of providing aid and vital resources to Haiti and has been operating health clinics in Port au Prince and many other cities in the country for over 20 years. Already well rooted in the community and mobilizing to provide immediate resources, PIH will effectively route resources and donations where they are most needed.

Leah Giberson is donating $5.00 from every sale thru February 14th to the "HAITI EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE” fund via Doctors Without Borders.

isphotography and her Etsy shop are donating 15% of all sales to the Red Cross between Jan 15 and Jan 31.

Monkey Puzzle Press is donating 30% of each sale to Doctors Without Borders this weekend

Art Esprit is donating $10 from each sale from now until the end of the month in their etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stamp Love

People don't send enough snail mail love to one another these days!  I love sending homemade cards to my family and friends.  I found these great new stamps from PaperSource today; aren't they great?  I want to order them and have a card making party. Maybe if you are lucky I'll send you one!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Comfort Food: Mac N' Cheese

I had my fill of all the traditional holiday meals and treats this year, and now that I'm easing back into normal like I am hoping to try a new recipe at least once a week!  I've been craving warm comfort food lately, so my first endeavor of the year was a version of Macaroni & Cheese that I found on the Food Network website. This was super easy, and soooo delicious!

Baked Macaroni & Cheese


  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holiday Highlights

Happy New Year!  Well, I haven't posted in so long.  That's because I was having a fabulous time at home in Iowa with family and friends.  I had such a great time, in fact, that I didn't take any pictures at all.  Good thing my sis over at Boutique Girl Gifts lent me some from her camera. 

This is our dog family, Meg.  When we went sledding she was frolicking around in the snow for awhile, until even her little booties and snow coat didn't keep her warm.  So, she went into her favorite spot, the doggie back pack.  Yes, there is such a thing and yes, our parents bought it.  Meg loves it; she even rides in it when they are biking!  Not pictured: the doggie goggles they bought her for Christmas...

Here's the table just before our yearly Christmas brunch.  Perhaps someday I'll have Christmas dishes myself, but for now I just enjoy all the awesome decorations when I'm home. 

 Every year we do a lot of cooking and baking together as a family.  These are kringla, a tasty pastry our Grandma Helen used to make.  They are pretty hard to replicate, but I think this batch was as close to the taste of hers as we have ever gotten! We'll probably never be able to whip them into the perfect little pretzel shapes she used to make though!

Last but not least, me and my sis with Christmas Eve cosmos, made from the hooch brewed in the closet of a close family friend.  Watch out, these things are strong!  Since you'll want to keep down the delicious Julia Child's beef bourguignon Christmas Eve dinner, it might be best to limit yourself.

NOTE: Apologies to any readers who don't get the family references.  Which will include probably everyone but my sister. :)