Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday offering

This week flew by with no time for flowers (or much of anything else, to be perfectly honest - I still can't believe it's Friday).

Do you ever have those weeks where you have 87 ideas for projects floating around in your head and you only actually have time for, say, 4 of them, and that's only if you knock showering and changing clothes off the list? Well, I've been like that the last two weeks (except I have made time for showering - don't worry).*

Will you accept a little something else instead of the usual flora?

licorice allsorts

I'm madly in love with licorice allsorts and they are a great comfort in trying times. I'm lucky I don't live in a country where they are readily available, or I would have a serious problem.

*To my sweet, patient, pay it forward people - I have not forgotten about you and I've been playing around with ideas for your gifts. I think the problem is too many ideas rather than too few. Rest assured that something will arrive for you shortly.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


During the shopping hiatus I went cold turkey on J. Crew. I stonewalled them, deleted their emails without reading them, avoided all stores, threw away the catalogs.

Last week, I allowed myself to peek at the website. There was a sale going on, naturally. But I behaved pretty well.


I did not buy either of those $3000 wedding gowns (no, you didn't miss anything - I'm not getting married - but you really don't have to be throwing a wedding to be tempted by these dresses).

I did buy the sorbet stripe cardigan (okay, I bought two plus a couple of other boring ones), but I feel fine with it, because cardigans are my work uniform and I wear them until they fall apart or end up covered in bleach stains.

Oh, and I know that the Fresh lip gloss did not come from J. Crew and therefore has nothing to do with this post, but I thought I should fess up. I read Sara Christine's post and couldn't resist. It's fabulous and totally worth the cost.

As a side note, men do not understand the importance of lip gloss.

me: I just bought this lip gloss and I'm kind of embarrassed by how much it cost.
d: I'm sure it wasn't that bad.
me: Well, it was $20.
d: (long pause)
d: Is it really huge or something?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What she got

I love the chance to make things for my sister, because I have a pretty good feel for what she'll like and what will look good on her.

This year...

a ruffly silk headband (or bracelet)

silk headband
{bright yellow china silk + yellow grosgrain ribbon}

silk headband
{me, frantically modeling and taking pictures right before wrapping it up}

and a super simple top.

shirt for sis
{cotton print from Bolt44, pale yellow cotton knit for a flowy bottom}

P.S. This headbands was dead simple and so satisfying to make. I'll try to get pictures together for a tutorial soon - I just need to get more supplies first.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The weekend, briefly

Birthdays should always be dragged out over the weekend, especially when you have a sister to celebrate with (we're only four days apart!). And you can never have too much cake.

birthday cake
{coconut cake from Susie Cakes}

birthday cake
{yes, it was all eaten}

Usually I drive down to see my family, but there's something special about trains, isn't there? I love watching the world fly by.

train ride
{one of my favorite bridges}

downtown LA
{approaching my city}

I also picked up those patterns, plus a few more. Hopefully I'll manage to find enough time to make something soon. Why is it so difficult sometimes?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday flowers, recycled

Last week's lilacs lasted into this week, and I loved them even more as they started to disintegrate.

lilacs, disheveled

Each tiny flower is so perfect - I just let them shed all over the table and enjoyed the beautiful mess.

We have a long weekend coming up and I'm hoping to get some sewing done. How about you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pattern wish list

Thanks for the birthday wishes, my dears! It was lovely and now I'm ready to get back to business.

Ever since I made my first top, I've been dreaming about adding some more lovingly handcrafted items to my closet. There are so many fabulous patterns and fabrics out there, and I'm itching to get started.

This coming weekend (May 22 - 25) Simplicity patterns are on sale at Jo Ann's for $1 each(!), and I've already done my research.


Aren't these Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity patterns great? I especially love the twisted neckline on 2593, and the versatility of 2587.

If you have a Jo Ann's near you, I highly recommend getting in on this sale. The MSRP on these patterns is $16, so this is a steal. And if you don't already own the Built By Wendy patterns, please put those on your shopping list as well. You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Me day

Today is my birthday, so I'll be very quiet and just enjoy the peace. And the cake. Deep reflections about your past and future and your big dreams and hopes for the coming year are always best accompanied by cake.

{cake + celebration candle kid}

This little lady surprised me on top of my coconut cake last year and I can't wait for her to come out again. She's a celebration candle kid from The Small Object. If I had children, they would each have one to bring out on their special day - wouldn't that be a wonderful tradition?

Of course, she lives in my sewing area the rest of the year, because she's too sweet to be hidden away in a drawer.

Small Object Celebration Candle Kid

I'll be back tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coconut cream pie

This weekend I was going to make a banana cream pie, because it sounded homey and comforting.

Naturally, I forgot to buy bananas when I went to the store and laziness prevented me from going out again. But banana cream pie is very easily transformed into coconut cream pie, especially if there is fancy schmany frozen young coconut* waiting in the freezer for the right occasion.

coconut cream pie
{just before adding whipped cream}

Coconut cream pie (adapted from The Joy of Cooking's recipe for cream pie)
1 baked 9" pie shell (see my recipe and instructions here, bake empty at 425F for 12 minutes)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk + 1 cup coconut milk)
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded coconut, if desired
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

*Toss the sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler. Whisk together. Slowly add milk, whisking until smooth.

*Cook over boiling water about 10 minutes, until thickened.

*Gradually add a bit of the hot mixture to the eggs, beating with a fork. Add a little more, slowly. (If you simply dump the hot liquid in, you will end up with scrambled eggs, so take it slow).

*Once you've added a cup or so to the eggs, pour it all back in the pan and whisk. Continue cooking until the mixture is very thick, approximately 10 more minutes.

*Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.

*Once the mixture is cool, pour it into the pie shell. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours to allow it to set and then top with freshly whipped cream.

*My mom found frozen young coconut at one of the local asian markets. It is packaged in a little plastic bag. Once you defrost it, you can use it as you would shredded coconut, but the flavor is amazing and the texture is way better than the usual dried stuff. Of course, normal dried coconut will work just fine in this pie recipe, although the flavor will be less intense.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The weekend, briefly


{Over My Head by Claudia Osborn}

Sharing the bed with the big red guy.

{Irish terriers are not particularly good at sharing}

A sadly collapsed pie crust (I have no idea what went wrong).

collapsed crust
{I'm blaming it on the weather}

The first apricots of the season.

{not quite ripe, but still hard to resist picking}

And the best news...

{standing on two feet!}

after six months of determined fighting and many, many surgeries, someone is finally up and walking again, with just a little bit of help!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday flowers (+ pay it forward picks)

I splurged and bought myself a small bunch of lilacs. Sometimes you just need to treat yourself to something lovely.

lilacs (and tea)
{lilacs, a little notebook, strong black tea with milk, a novel}

Speaking of lovely things, I was thrilled by everyone's response to the pay it forward post. I wish I could pick all of you, but I can't delude myself into thinking I would be able to get that many packages sent out.

{random selection}

Diana, Ashley Maureen, Hanna, Ashley Morgan, and Sarah Smith - I'll be contacting you shortly to get your addresses! I'm so excited to pass on the fun Jac started.

Have a wonderful weekend, my dears!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thrifting, last week

Last week, at Goodwill...

Vases for Mother's Day.

mother's day bouquets
{i forgot to take a picture until after i'd filled them}

Fun little odds and ends for my kitchen cupboard.

thrift store bowls
{lotus bowls, no name paper thin porcelain bowls, japanese bowls with lids, danish porcelain bowls with yellow tulip edging}

We had these lotus bowls growing up (anyone else? apparently they were quite the rage) and now I pick them up whenever I see them.

thrift store bowls
{stack of lotus bowls}

I was out the door for only $25. You have to love the thrift store.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pay it forward

I got some sunshine in my mailbox last week.

pay it foward from jac
{isn't her wrapping wonderful?}

The lovely Jac, of Coco Sunday, sent me a handmade zippered pouch and one of her fabulous photographs. I squealed a little bit.

pay it foward from jac
{all hand embroidered!}

And this gift will keep on giving, because it's a pay it forward type of thing. Five of you will receive little packages from me, on the condition that you in turn select five lucky people who will get something from you. It's low pressure - the gifts can be small, and you don't have to get them out immediately.

Interested? Leave a comment here, letting me know if you want to participate. I'll announce my five picks on Friday.

After all, sending pretty packages in the mail is almost as fun as receiving them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Croissants, demystified

I adore croissants, and I rarely eat them. Because few things are more disappointing than a lackluster croissant, and most of them are decidedly lacking.

{best with homemade pomegranate jelly}

When I found Nancy Silverton's recipe and technique, I knew I had to try it and Mother's Day was the perfect occasion. I'm not going to re-type the entire recipe here, because it's wordy. About 4 pages worth of wordy. I almost gave up when I read that you need a ruler. I think rulers have no place in the kitchen. But I'm glad I relented.

Don't be intimidated by the recipe, just follow it and enjoy the results. There is a lot of downtime, so the actual hands on work isn't too bad. And you end up with lovely, flaky layers of buttery dough.

{all rolled up and ready to go}

My tips? Yes, you need a ruler. However, I skipped out on the trash bag and the spray bottle of water and everything was okay. Buy good butter. That's my main recommendation. I used Irish butter, which is a bit pricey but worth every penny. Oh, and wear stretchy pants. That's key.

Looking for the frittata recipe? It's easy-peasy and it's right here. I used fresh, shredded potatoes rather than frozen hash browns. Next time I think I'll substitute fresh, sliced potatoes instead for a heartier texture. I think it could use just a bit of extra flavor, maybe in the form of some fresh basil. But really, the croissants were show stealers, so the poor little frittata got scant attention from me. I can barely remember how it tasted.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The weekend, briefly

Some cooking.

{potato & boursin frittata, in process}

Some baking.

croissants, in process
{croissants, in process}

A beautifully set table.

mother's day brunch
{favorite family china + mismatched placemats}


mother's day brunch, finished
{mother's day brunch 2009}

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday flowers

This week I have creamy white hydrangeas and a vintage green tablecloth that I adore.

white hydrangea
{green tablecloth from the thrift store, blue ceramic vase by d}

For some reason hydrangeas used to make me think of little old ladies and cottages and I didn't like them (the flowers, not little old ladies or cottages). And then I gradually started to appreciate them. Isn't it weird how that happens? Or maybe it's just a sign that I'm getting old.

I love how the petals look like ruffles from the top.

white hydrangea + breakfast
{ignore my sadly misshapen egg - it was delicious but not beautiful}

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reading, lately

I don't always share my reads with you because sometimes when I get stressed or overly busy I go on Agatha Christie binges, which aren't particularly useful to anyone. Except me, because I find them comforting.

Non murder mysteries that I've enjoyed recently...

The Outside World by Tova Mirvis

A funny, sweet and emotional little love story that gives you a glimpse into the Orthodox Jewish world.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I might be the last person to read this, but I finally gave in and I loved it. Such a great, escapist love story.

I couldn't resist the title. This novel focuses tightly on family dynamics, which I always love, but I have to admit I disliked several of the main characters which made it less appealing. The writing is wonderful, though, and I like the way food is used throughout the book.

How about you? Anything good on your bedside table these days?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Built By You (Simplicity 3692)

I made a piece of clothing I can actually wear! It is bizarrely exciting. As in, I don't want to take the shirt off ever again and I want to skip work so I can make several more. It is so much more satisfying than I could have imagined.

Simplicity's Built By Wendy pattern 3692 (view B), on sale for $1 + approximately $6 worth of fabric + 3 hours of work = a new shirt!

Simplicity 3692 (Built By Wendy) View B

I had a little trouble with this pattern, but that might just be me. I am comfortable with patterns in theory, thanks to years of observing my mom (who is very talented), but I'm not an experienced seamstress by any means and I'm not as meticulous as I should be.

Notes on knits: I was scared of them and now I'm in love. They drape and look professional and they feel great. I don't own a serger, but I bought some ballpoint needles and used a crazy zigzag stitch (straight stitches don't stretch enough for knits) and everything turned out perfectly.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Taco night

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

{tomatillos are not only tasty, but pretty darn adorable as well}

Non meat eaters, please avert your eyes.

carne asada
{tacos, the way they should be}

I've already posted the salsa recipe, and it is one of my all time favorites. Please make it. You will love it. Don't even worry about the exact measurements. It makes no difference. This time I left all the chili seeds in (and used four chilies instead of two), which gave it a little kick.

I'm going to pretend this is a recipe, but it really isn't. Take about 1 lb of carne asada (flap meat or strip steak work well). Squeeze some lime over it. Add some salt and pepper. Toss it on the grill until it's done to your preference. Cut it into chunks and eat it wrapped up in corn tortillas with lots of salsa and cilantro.

Best paired with a cold Mexican beer (Negro Modelo or Pacifico, please, no Corona in our household).

Monday, May 4, 2009

The weekend, briefly

mango afternoon
{4 mangoes (they're back in season!) + 2 books)

negro modelo
{beer + tacos with D}

{lilacs in a milk glass vase for a dear friend}

fabric stock
{lots of fun in the remnant section at F&S}

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flower of the week

White ranunculus go very well with a glass of red wine and some evening sewing.

ranunculus + wine + sewing

Also great with an early morning cup of tea and a well buttered roll.*

ranunculus at breakfast

They're very versatile that way.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

*Is it odd that I sometimes get out of bed at 6 in the morning just so I can have an hour to linger over my tea before I have to go to work?