Archive for July, 2007
I’ve finally finished two of the three pillows for my kitchen bench. The light blue pillow on the left typically goes on my couch, but it’s currently filling the empty space on the bench and will soon be replaced with another pillow made of the Alexander Henry “buffet” fabric (which I love!).
For those of you who are crafters and/or sewers, I must ask — why does it hurt to cut into fabric that you’ve been hanging onto for months or years, waiting for “just the right project” in which to use it?
When I buy fabric for a specific project, I have no problem slicing right into it. I guess it’s because in my mind, that tote bag, or quilt, or pillow, or whatever, was that fabric’s destiny.
It’s those yards of fabric that I’ve chosen “just because” — the ones that sit on my shelf for three years, that I’ve considered and then rejected for countless projects — that are the hardest to use. I want to use them, but often, I just can’t.
I think my biggest fear is that if I cut a small piece out of it, I’ll realize later that I could have used all two yards for a bigger, more “worthy” project, but I can’t now because I’ve already cut into the corner. And — worse — I’ll end up being disappointed with that first, smaller project’s results.
I purchased the black and cream toile from yesterday’s post almost two years ago. It’s lived on my fabric shelf in three apartments in two cities. And even though I’m now 100 percent sure that my decision to use it for my journal project was the right thing to do, it took me about 45 minutes to convince myself to use it. WHY???
Crafters, I would love to know your theory on this. Do you do the same thing?
Lately, when I’ve had an idea for a project, I’ve written it on a piece of notebook or scrap paper, which usually ends up getting misplaced before I’m able to begin the project, or thrown away after I’ve completed it. I came to the conclusion that I desperately needed a sketchbook.
I purchased a hard-cover journal from a bookstore last weekend — one of those generic, inexpensive blank books that usually comes in red, black, blue and green — and I customized it to my taste using fabric that I purchased over a year ago and had been saving for “just the right project.”
First, I carefully ripped out the bound pages from the spine. Next, I cut a piece of fabric about an inch bigger on each side than the journal cover. I sprayed the wrong side of the fabric with adhesive spray and centered the journal cover on the fabric, pressing down the spine, then working my way to the edges.
I folded the edges of the fabric in, making sure the corners were nice and neat. Next, I sprayed the spine of the bound pages and the outside of the first and last sheet of paper, and pressed the spine of the bound pages into the cover’s spine. Then I adhered the first page to the front cover and the last page to the back cover to hide the rough edges.
I closed the book and placed it under several heavy books for about an hour to make sure the glue set, and I now have a completely original and custom sketchbook for all my craft ideas, magazine inspiration clippings and sketches. I’m excited to use it!
Alex and I hosted our first dinner party/barbeque for about 20 friends on Saturday evening, and it went off without a hitch.
I was planning on taking all sorts of photos during the party, hoping to post them here. I managed to take a few “before” pictures…
…but once people started showing up, I got so busy with a million other things that my camera got put to the side.
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and my two biggest fears — rain and not enough food — were quickly quelled. It rained in the afternoon and cleared up in plenty of time for the party, and Alex and I will be eating leftover spinach and Portobello mushroom frittata, turkey meatballs, veggie pasta salad and grilled red potatoes for a week. We don’t mind at all.
Many of our guests brought bottles of wine, which we appreciated very much. It was a lovely evening with great friends, food and conversation, the rain stayed away, and the cats didn’t get out. My only complaint is that I didn’t take enough pictures, and that can’t possibly even count as a real complaint. Who could ask for more?
Thank you to everyone who graced us with your presence on Saturday, and a special thank you to Kristen, Megan, Candice and Peter for helping the evening go so smoothly!
This is my oven.
I do all my cooking here, from dinner for just me and Alex, to the party we’re hosting for 20 people this upcoming weekend. Sometimes I have to giggle when I look at it and realize just how tiny it is, but the fact is, it gets the job done. Nestled in my tiny kitchen, it doesn’t look so out of place.
Up until a few years ago, I had no interest in cooking. I boiled pasta on my stovetop, heated up frozen pizza in my oven and used the microwave a little too often. Other than that, my kitchen rarely got much use. I ate out a lot.
Then one day, tired and bored of eating sandwiches and microwave meals, I started cooking a little bit here and there. My friend gave me a relatively simple jambalaya recipe, and when it turned out well the first time, I started inviting people over for dinner and making it for them.
Then I found a fantastic turkey burger recipe online, and I realized it wasn’t very hard to chop onions, measure spices, and mix it all together. In fact, it was…well…fun!
Then something truly magical happened. I started to see the art in cooking. The beauty of mixing things together which — on their own — may not seem very special, but when combined in just the right way, create an amazing texture, a delicious flavor, a beautiful color.
It’s almost like quilting. Choosing just the right amount of just the right ingredient (yellow fabric or red? Thyme or parsley?) to create the perfect final product. And what a feeling of pride and accomplishment to spend time creating something that turns out just as you imagined!
I have fallen in love with cooking.
So on that note, here is a delicious recipe for roasted new potatoes that I’ve been making a lot recently. I’m going to alter the recipe slightly so that we can grill them for our party this weekend, but the overall flavor will be the same.
To serve six, you will need…
2 1/4 pounds of new potatoes (quartered)
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1.5 teaspoons of pre-minced garlic in a jar)
3/4 teaspoons of dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoons of dried thyme
3/4 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoons of pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag or a bowl with a lid, and shake to coat. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray and pour potato mixture into the pan in a single layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and slightly browned.
I suggest stirring the potatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula after they’ve been in the oven for about 15 minutes so that they cook evenly and don’t stick to the pan.
The potatoes turn out just a little crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. They’re quite flavorful without being overwhelmingly seasoned. Enjoy!
One of the best feelings is when you come across a great find, and you’re prepared to pay full price for it, but when you get to the register, the cashier informs you that it’s on sale. Oh, happy day!
But first, as promised, more on the Vera tablecloth that I wrote about earlier today.
I found this beautiful piece of art in the form of a marked-down tablecloth at one of my favorite vintage shops, and I immediately knew I wanted to stretch it over a canvas frame like I did with the piece of fabric art I made quite some time ago. I didn’t know anything about the tablecloth other than that I loved it.
A lady who rents one of the booths at the shop saw me looking at it and told me that it was a “Vera piece,” and pointed at the ladybug signature in the lower right corner.
She informed me that Vera was a famous artist whose designs were used on scarves, flatware, and linens in the 60s and 70s. I would have purchased the tablecloth no matter what, simply because it was a beautiful piece, but I was thrilled to have a bit of history to go along with my find.
When I got home, I found some information about Vera and her designs online, as well as some of her vintage pieces for sale on eBay, but I have yet to find any information about the particular piece that I purchased.
I invite comments or emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) from anyone who knows anything about my new art piece.
In my search for a large serving bowl for our upcoming barbeque, I found the perfect item. It’s thick plastic, so it’s sturdy enough for an outdoor barbeque, but it’s a beautiful shade of powder blue and lined in white, so it complements the rest of our kitchen. Specifically the light blue glass bowl that I’ve had for years.
It was the last one on the shelf, so I grabbed it immediately. And it was rather inexpensive to begin with, so I was quite surprised when the cashier informed me it was an additional 50 percent off. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
It will fulfill its purpose as a large serving bowl for the barbeque, and then will become our new fruit bowl. One can never have too many powder blue items in one’s kitchen!
But in the meantime, if any of you know anything about Vera or her designs, specifically her table linens, please contact me. I’m embarrassed to say that prior to yesterday, I wasn’t aware of her amazing designs. But now that I’ve been introduced, I want to learn as much as possible.
If you know more than I do, I’d love to hear from you!
For dinner tonight, I made a recipe that can be used with just about every mild fish. I made it with tilapia this evening, but I’ve also had success with whiting and salmon.
You will need:
1 pound of mild fish (skin removed)
3/4 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine coconut flakes and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Dip each fillet first in the beaten eggs, and next in the coconut mixture. Place on greased (I prefer to use cooking spray) baking dish or cookie sheet, and sprinkle the extra coconut mixture over the fillets. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for 10 to 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Keep in mind that cooking times will change depending on what type of fish you use.
The coconut breading will crisp up just a little bit, with the coconut adding a subtle sweetness to the fish. It’s a simple recipe, but it’s quite delicious.