Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My first orchid!

I worked at a garden shop for seven years and never brought home an orchid for myself. Mom and I came upon these Phalaenopsis orchids at the grocery store the other day, and they were on sale for a steal. She got one with three stems and she got me this one with two stems. It is amazing how happy this plant is making me!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Homemade Pizza Sauce

I recently discovered Saveur magazine and I love it! So far I have bought two copies at Half Price Books, but I plan to get a subscription. I love the stories, the images, and the way they feature a restaurant and then give recipes for dishes that are mentioned in the articles. The March issue is about Los Angeles and has a pizza on the cover. I decided to give the dough recipe a chance, even though I already have a favorite one. The recipe is from Mozza, Mario Batali's restaurant in Hollywood. Unfortunately I wasn't happy with this dough. My favorite dough doesn't require kneading and is a lighter and chewier, which I prefer. However, the sauce recipe is a keeper! This is an uncooked pizza sauce which the story says gives a brighter, fresher flavor, and I loved it. I made a batch and since we don't use much sauce on our pizzas I froze most of it in small chunks for future pies. Here is what you do for the sauce:

Put one 28oz can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes in a food processor. Add 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp dried basil, 2 minced garlic cloves and half a grated medium onion. Puree and season with salt and pepper.


Monday, March 29, 2010

A blissful weekend

There is a cardinal couple nesting outside of our bedroom window!
The trees are budding.

It wasn't all relaxation around here this weekend. We did get a lot of work done. However, the weather was so gorgeous that I did take the time to soak up some sun on Saturday afternoon. We have been having that perfect spring weather where the sun warms you and the breeze cools you at the same time. My favorite kind of day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

New in the Etsy shop

I am adding more of my one of a kind pieces to my Etsy shop. I listed the polymer clay ring last week, and just listed this Turquoise ring. I will add the Turquoise rings' coordinating necklace next week.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tulip Skirt, What do you think?

I made this Tulip skirt in denim from the pattern in the premiere issue of Stitch Magazine. I finished the skirt last week and now I'm not sure what I think. I started out making a larger size because I wanted the skirt to sit on my hips rather than at my waist. I am so short waisted that anything sitting on my natural waistline would look really odd (other than dresses which I like with a natural waistline). Well, at some point I decided that it was too big and took the darts in a bit. I guess at that point I wasn't taking into account that this skirt has a wide waist band. So now, the top of the skirt fits at the point where I would want the top of the waistband to sit. The waistband being wide it gaps in the back at the top. I don't think it is altogether unflattering, just different for me as I am not used to wearing things so high or tucking in shirts (can't wear a shirt over this because of the pouffyness of the pleats). Frank thinks it is unflattering altogether however. I'm also disappointed that I didn't have the foresight to add pockets to this pattern. That is something that would be worth going back and doing!

So I guess my question is, what do you think? I'm not sure there is much I can do about the fit, at least not in letting it out. Does it look okay? Should I just get used to tucking in a shirt when I wear this skirt?

Monday, March 22, 2010

I made bagels!

I was inspired by Soule Mama to attempt bagel making this weekend. You know I have been on the whole Artisan bread in five minutes per day kick. I still don't have the book, but just discovered they have a website and the bagel instructions are there. I followed their suggestion to use the master recipe, and by now I know it by heart.

Following the instructions I formed balls of dough, let them rise for twenty minutes and then formed the rings.
I had my poppy seeds and a flour dusted towel ready to go.
I boiled the bagels for 2 minutes, then flipped and boiled another minute.
My poppy seed bagels/first batch.
You are probably thinking, those look a little flat and maybe that they have too many seeds. Well, straight from the hot oven with cream cheese on top they were great. This morning however, Frank and I had a comical time eating hard, cracker like "bagels". I just had to try again with the dough that was left, and I am glad I did because I think I learned what I had done wrong the first time.

I think the instructions left out a second rising after forming the rings of dough (other recipes that I looked at called for this). It was a cold day so mine took quite a while to rise. I also doubled the size of the bagels and did not stretch the holes as wide. I think if they were rising more the large holes would be okay because they would shrink back up. I didn't worry as much about how long I boiled them (no timing it) and may have boiled for a shorter time. I added more water to the pan in the oven this time, the instructions don't specify how much. I baked them for about half the time of the first batch. The instructions say 25-30 minutes, which I did on the first and the second batch was more like 13-15 minutes. They probably could have gone a few minutes longer, but I would rather have them on the soft side than cracker like. I still haven't perfected bagel making by any means, but now that I worked out my mistakes I will be likely to try again. This is definitely a weekend activity, and much more time consuming than the 5 minute per day concept.
Frank had requested cinnamon and sugar on the second batch, good call Frank!
You can see here the difference in my first and second batches.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Polvorones recipe search

I have a newfound obsession with a Mexican treat called Polvorones. We have sampled Polvorones from several local Mexican groceries and Panaderias. They are crumbly, crunchy, not too sweet and go perfect with coffee, YUM! I would really like to find a recipe. I have googled "polvorone recipe" and the images that come up with the recipes that I find look nothing like these. That is probably simply because these are store bought and those are homemade, but the images are keeping me from being able to pick a recipe. I think these cookies are sort of like a shortbread, but with ground nuts and less butter, but that is just a guess. Does anyone know of a recipe for Polvorones? It sure would make me happy to find a good and trusted one.

Blooms in the neighborhood

It was so beautiful when I got home yesterday that I grabbed the dogs and my camera and we set out around the neighborhood. Buds are popping out and up everywhere!
This daffodil is actually another one from my mom's garden. I have to plant some this fall.

The trees are budding in my neighborhood.

This euphorbia is one of my favorite plants, and always the first to bloom in my garden.
My holly ferns are waking up too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bull's Eye

I had made a couple of smaller versions of Bull's Eye earrings in the past. A wonderful customer requested a three ring Bull's Eye with Iolite in the center. I am glad she did because I really like the way they turned out! I hadn't made this design in quite a while either, so I was glad to be reminded about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tulip as Role Model by Connie Akers

I photographed this fiber art piece for my mom after she finished it the other day. It is called Tulip as Role Model and is inspired by a poem of the same title. I love the textures and all the details. My favorite parts of the roots and the three dimensional tulip.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the studio

There are some exciting things going on in my studio. Here is a work in progress shot of a Bumpy Polymer Clay Pendant. What you see now is a hydraulic press formed copper piece with holes drilled in it. The base is copper as well, with a frame of sterling around it. I made a couple of pendants in this style last year. Unfortunately I did not get photos of them finished and they both sold at Fiesta. I will definitely take a picture of this one when it is finished. I am gearing up for Fiesta next month and have lots of work to do.

I have decided to switch to ear posts that are a tad bigger. They are slightly longer and 1 gauge larger. I am really happy that I made that decision as they seem so much more substantial and are much easier to work harden.

I got my second shipment of enameling supplies in. I think all I need now, at least to get started, are goggles and gloves. I am going to look for those locally, possibly at Northern Tool. I am excited to get started, but don't expect anything amazing from me right away, I am starting anew and will mostly be experimenting for a while I think.

My dad made me my hydraulic press a couple of years ago. I have utilized but not to its full potential. This book has been on my wish list for ages and I finally got my hands on a copy. I'm really excited to learn and understand more about how the press works and get more use out of it. I can use pressed forms in conjunction with enameling as well as all my other techniques.

Good to know

The five minute bread can be made with goodies such as cranberries and walnuts. I made two plain loaves last week at my parent's house in anticipation of company. They both liked it and both requested a loaf with cranberries and walnuts so I tried it. I made half a recipe and added one cup each of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. I added them when I made the dough. It turned out oh so delicious. The only loaf that hasn't turned out too well for me was one I tried to make with half whole wheat flour. I think I need to try that again though.

I'm sure there is a lot of information out there about this recipe, there are two books for goodness sake. I'm just using the basic recipe and experimenting with it. I'm thinking of trying one with cheese and chiles next.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Score...and the project list grows

Last week was a week of scores for me in the fabric department. First I stocked up on Simplicity patterns again at Joann's, yes I'm addicted. Then I organized my fabric stash and measured each piece of fabric so that I could determine what to make with what. I have been snagging treasures from mom's enormous stash as we go through everything. I only have two rubbermaid tubs filled right now, and don't plan to buy more until I actually start making some of these projects.

First and most exciting, mom told me that I could have this gorgeous piece of Liberty of London fabric that she bought in London in 1984. She said that she probably paid about $6 per yard for it back then. There are 5 yards but it is only 36" wide. Nowadays with the exchange rate the way it is this ultra soft fabric retails in the states for close to $40 a yard! I think this fabric is perfect for this dress.

These two tubs are the fabric that I have already stashed and organized.

On Thursday mom and I had plans to take a sewing class at Fabrique in Richardson on sewing with knits. Before that we made stops at the wholesale fabric stores off of Harry Hines in Dallas, and Kays fabrics which is having a 75% off sale. At Supertextiles I got the plaid, coral and black fabrics for $3-4 per yard. At Kay's I got the blue linen on the right and the lime green that is a soft silk noil. I'm thinking of the following patterns for these fabrics:
Plaid-Built by Wendy Tunic
Green Silk-Simplicity 2892 tank
Coral-Simplicity 4589
Black lightweight Denim-undecided
Linen- Cynthia Rowley Dress
As you can see I have my work cut out for me! I enjoyed the class at Fabrique and hope to take more, especially the French Curve class which teaches fitting techniques for sewing your own clothes.

I couldn't resist sharing this picture of Lucy sitting on top of my quilt on top of my laundry basket of clean clothes. She sat there like a princess for a couple of hours, even getting down to see what we were doing in the kitchen and returning to her throne!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My sweets

I tend to take a lot of pictures of my dogs, especially Lucy. Malta gets short changed only because she hates the camera and normally turns away from it. I was thrilled to capture this clear and perfect image of my 14 year old baby the other day!

Lucy on the other hand is a natural born model! I capture great shots of her all the time, which usually tend to just sit in iphoto taking up space on my computer. I thought I would share some with you. Her cute looks are a cover for what a little stinker she really is. A friend once called Malta the Patron Saint of All Dogs, that same friend is Lucy's arch nemesis. No matter, we love her!