Monthly Archives: June 2010

Kitschy Kitchen Embroidery

I’ve mentioned before how much I love getting silly kitchen embroidery pieces and one day hope to display them all above my kitchen table.  Recently I finished one that I just adore.

Kitschy embroidery

Of course Knitty Kitty helped me finish this one.

It says “Come into my kitchen and chat with me, while I prepare a pot of tea.”  So cute!  And I love the vibrant colors.  The matching one that I will work on next says “No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best.”  It features the same woman serving tea to her friend who is now seated at the kitchen table.

Finished embroidery

From what I gather, these kits were from the old magazine “Everywoman’s Family Circle,” which was published in the 1960s!  The fact that I got the full kit for both pieces (including the pattern, thread, and a color photo of the finished product snipped out of the magazine) for only $1 just blows my mind.  I love this little piece of crafty woman’s history and while I embroidered it, I thought about who the previous owner had been (she had done a few of the letters before giving up on the project for whatever reason).

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3D Knitters Gift Tag

My friend Jamie taught me how to bead, and in return wanted me to teach her how to knit.  So for her birthday I gave her a set of nice knitting needles and some beautiful yarn to make into a scarf (the easiest beginners project).  Of course, the gift wouldn’t be complete without this silly little gift tag that I made using yarn, toothpicks, beads, and the cardboard from a toilet paper roll!  I love this idea for knitted gifts at the holidays, or anytime really.  Anything miniature (especially when it has to do with crafting) = ADORABLE.

Knitting Gift Tag

Get the tutorial here.

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Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Tart in Parmesan Crust

Tomatoes are my favorite summer food.  I love putting them on sandwiches (with just a dab of mayo, salt and pepper), making an easy caprese salad and even eating them plain.  One of my favorite summer tomato recipes though is this easy tart.  It only uses a few ingredients, but the flavors are amazing.  The simple crust is buttery and parmesan-y (yes, that is a word).  Pick the prettiest diversely-colored tomatoes you can find for a real stand-out dish.  I can’t wait to make this again!

Tomato Tart

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Dill Pickles

I have wanted to can pickles for a long time, but everything I was reading online was scaring me off from the project.  You must buy this and this expensive equipment, keep your jars at exactly the correct temperature before putting your pickles in, etc.  However, I ran across a pickling basket at Wal-Mart (in their seasonal section) and decided that was really all I needed.  I already had a big soup pot, and the tongs/magnetic lid lifter/air bubble spatula/ etc. that came with the basket were all just extras.  I picked up a flat of quart jars, stopped for some pickling cucumbers on the way home, and decided to just go for it.

Cucumbers to be turned into pickles

Spears, chips and whole cucumbers ready to get turned into pickles

There are plenty of instructions online (from much more qualified writers) for pickling recipes and how-tos, so I won’t go into that here.  I simply used a dill pickle recipe that came with my supplies.  It was easy-peasy!  The hardest part was committing to the 3 hours or so that it took me to make 7 quarts, since I could only process 2 at a time in my soup pot.

Pickle bath

Amazingly, all 7 jars sealed correctly!  We opened a jar less than a week later when some friends came over for a BBQ.  Everyone RAVED about the pickles, and I couldn’t have been more proud. They are absolutely delicious!  Then at another BBQ a few weeks later we opened a second jar, and the pickles had only gotten better with age.  They were a big hit again.  They keep for up to 2 years, though I doubt they will last much longer with the rate we’ve been BBQing!

Finished dill pickles

I can’t wait to can many more foods now.  Pickled green beans are a favorite, but ones I’ve gotten at the store are so bland.  I’d also like to make some simple jams with local berries–come August the blackberries in the Portland area are absolutely everywhere.  The BF loves PB&J sammies, but I refuse to buy most jams/jellies because most of them have high fructose corn syrup as their second ingredient!  Trader Joes and “Just the Fruit”-type jams are so expensive, so I can’t wait to try my hand at homemade.

Of course, my loyal feline assistant had to check all the seals on the pickles to make sure we didn’t get botulism.

Cat and pickles

What are your favorite things to can?  I need some new ideas, suited for a beginner. 🙂

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How does your garden grow?

The Portland sun and rain is doing wonders for our garden and I couldn’t be more excited.  I can’t wait to harvest and cook with our homegrown fruits and veggies.  (Picked an almost-done green onion today and tried to eat it raw….I don’t recommend it).

Squash Blossoms: these were taken a few days ago and already there are a handful more blooms.

Squash Blossoms

These peas were among many volunteers in my friend’s garden that I dug up and brought home. I thought they were sweet peas, but don’t those have white flowers? hmm..

pea blossoms

And of course, where would I be without my handy helper, Knitty Kitty?  She diligently hunts the various bugs and eats them.  It is part of her reparations for eating all of my leek starts earlier in the season!  (In her defense, they did look an awful lot like her cat grass that she is ALLOWED to eat…)

stella in the garden

I can hardly believe that my garden is blooming, when it all used to look like this:

indoor sprouts

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Recipe: Zucchini and Chicken Salad

When we lived in San Francisco, the BF and I would go out most days to eat (nothing fancy, our neighborhood was filled with taquerias after all).  Our kitchen that we shared with 3 other roommates–not to mention 3 cats–wasn’t the most appetizing place to cook.  Now that we finally have our own place in Portland, I’ve been cooking dinner everyday.  Not only do we save bundles of money, but I also have a great time teaching myself to cook different things.  I’m learning a lot about what is in season when, how to “eyeball” measure ingredients, and even broadening my palate (I never used to like zucchini or asparagus but now eat both on the regular).  On my quest to make different meals, I’ve been cooking a different recipe every night.  This has been going well for about two months now, and most nights I’m very happy with the different meals.  I get a lot of the recipes from Everyday Food Magazine or cookbooks, because they tend to feature just a few cheap ingredients put together in new and creative ways.

Zucchini and Chicken Salad

The salad before the addition of spinach and chicken

This week I’ve made Cashew Chicken, Chicken Tostada Salad, and a couple different Barley Risottos.  Mmmm!  Tonight I made Zucchini and Chicken Salad.  The recipe is available here.  It was deeeelicious!  I was happy to get in three green veggies in one meal.

Zucchini and Chicken Salad

I also made artichoke on the side because they were so cheap at the grocery store.  For a quick dipping sauce I mixed some veganaise (the BF doesn’t really like mayo and it’s one of the small battles that I’ve lost…now it tastes the same as mayo to me) with some wildberry lemon vinegar.  That sounds fancy, but I didn’t have any balsamic!  Just mix the two until they are about the consistency of yogurt.  So good!

I hope to continue this pursuit of cooking knowledge and gain a lifelong skill and appreciation for food.  So far, so good. 🙂

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“Color Swirls” Beaded Bracelet

On our recent trip visiting family, the BF and I stopped in at Newsbeat in Davis to pick out a magazine for the flight home.  I always lust after my friend Jamie’s beading magazines at her house (she works at a bead store and is the one who taught me circular peyote stitch and got me into seed beading in the first place).  Finally I got my own beading magazine!  They had a few choices so I perused and chose the one with the most tutorials that I actually wanted to try out.  I ended up picking out the June/July issue of Beadwork.

Beadwork Magazine June/July

My sister’s 19th birthday was coming up and I had NO idea what to give her.  My mom suggested making her a bracelet but I was sick of the one and only bracelet I knew how to make.  I decided to make my sister a new one from the magazine, specifically the “Color Swirls” bracelet (page 20).  It took me over 7 hours since I’m such a beading n00b but I’m really happy with the results!  I called my sister to ask her what colors she mostly wears.

The bracelet pattern was designed by Marcie Abney.  A quick look at her Etsy shop and I see she’s selling the bracelet for $40.  Someday, I will make crafting pay off for me!  Wouldn’t that just be a dream job?!

I especially like the beaded toggle clasp, it was my first time trying that.  It was hard- I actually restarted it about 10 times, but once I finally understood, it was a cinch.  I hope my sister likes it!

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Beaded Eyeglass Holder

My mom recently got a new pair of reading glasses and asked me to bead her a chain to hold them around her neck.  I cringed as I envisioned old ladies with mullets wearing neon eighties-style eyeglass holders, but I knew I could find a way to bead a chic version.  We headed to Michaels to pick out some beads.  She chose two kinds of sparkly glass beads and we finally found a pack of the eyeglass hardware that goes on the ends of the chains (only after searching for a good while and finally asking a sales associate for help).

On that note, I have a billion left over so if anyone wants me to make them an eyeglass chain, holler!  I did a quick internet search for beaded eyeglass chains and found that most of them go for upwards of $40-80!  That is ridiculous- I will make them for anyone who wants to buy the beads and maybe you can pay me with a beer! 😀

Eyeglass Holder close up

My mom wanted the chain to be about 32 inches long, so I cut a bit more than double that amount from some green Fireline and knotted the middle around one of the eyeglass hardwares.  I set to work stringing some seed beads and the two types of glass beads my Mom picked out.  When I strung the beveled green beads, I used one string through the glass bead and the other string through some white seed beads to add some interest.  Then, I’d string both strands through the rest of the beads.  I really like the way this little detail turned out.  It’s all in the details sometimes, people!  I just kept going until I used up all the glass beads.  Miraculously, it turned out almost exactly 32 inches right when I ran out of beads.  Here’s the finished product:

Eyeglass holder

Ta-da!  A quick and easy project.  I’m happy to be beading again, I got so sick of circular-peyote stitched bracelets (it was the only stitch I knew!) but I’m back in a beading phase now. Gotta love it!

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Kitchen Table Vignette

A couple of weeks ago, the BF and I traveled back to San Francisco for our college graduation.  The actual ceremony was pretty long and anticlimactic, but it was wonderful to get to see both our families as well as our friends.  An added plus was receiving a bunch of cards with totally unexpected graduation moolah.  Yay!  We used the money to invest in a kitchen table (I use the word invest lightly, the table is just from Ikea.  But it is solid pine!)  A table was the only major thing missing in our quest to turn our house into a true home.

This isn’t a crafty project per say, but I thought I’d show the little table vignette atop our new table.

Kitchen table vignette

We have my favorite indoor plant, a miniature burro’s tail (a “burrito” if you will) on the left, accessorized with a creepy/kitschy owl that I picked up at the bins (AKA Goodwill).  The owl feels so weird in your hand, like a real dead bird because of the weight and size.  I am simultaneously grossed out and in love with it (“grossed out” isn’t exactly the best phrase to describe something you’d put on the table where you eat, huh? Ah well!).  I have another “burrito” on my coffee table, and I have two more similar owls on my craft supply shelves just waiting for the proper placement somewhere in the house.

Next to that is an aloe plant I picked up at Lowe’s to add some height to the vignette.  I usually prefer plants that have some use (edible, herb, medicinal) but I’ve yet to snap off a frond to soothe a sunburn.  That will probably happen after the inevitable trips to the river this summer though!

On the right is a picture frame (another graduation gift from my parents’ next-door neighbor).  I love the textured stamped design and the varied colors.  It holds a photo of me and the BF on a trip to Disneyland last year.

In the front is a glass half-pint creamer that was a gift from the BF on my last birthday.  He picked it up at MoMA and I just adore it!

That’s all!  I’ve read that the three items you need on a table vignette are flowers, books and candles.  Eh, I don’t really know anything about interior decorating so I just put up what looks good to me: useful greenery, personal tschotskes and photos with a story behind them, and arrange it all in various heights to form a filled-in triangle shape.

How do you decorate your tabletops?

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S.C.R.A.P. Haul

I’ve mentioned before how much I LOVE S.C.R.A.P. It is the absolute best craft supply store/non-profit.  I was driving past today and couldn’t resist popping in for a quick look.  I headed straight to my favorite bin, where you can get full embroidery kits for less than a dollar.  I ended up picking up two items, totaling only 50 cents!

My Scrap Haul

I picked up a tiny little embroidery kit which includes everything, even the kitschy mini wire hanger to display the final project on.  It said 50 cents but I got it for only a quarter!  My favorite items to get from S.C.R.A.P. are all their kitchen/gardening/cooking embroidery kits.  One day I hope to display them all on a huge wall of kitsch above my kitchen table.  The second item I picked up is a cool mounting board for finished embroideries or any other type of fabric art.  Just what I need to display one of my already finished kitchen embroidery pieces! I love that I picked up these two cute things for only a measly 50 cents.

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