Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Warm and Snuggly Teapot Sweater

Do you know the magazine Ready Made?  They also have a cool blog.  I love it!  I can check the magazine out from the library and it has the coolest projects.  I saw this idea recently, to repurpose a sweater into a tea cozy.  It was fun and easy (just scissors and hand stitching).  And it works!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cranberry-Ginger Vinegar

Cranberry-ginger vinegar

This is a fun and fabulous project for the holidays!  (It makes a super-cool gift.) 

  • Glass bottles with lids.  (Don't buy these - use recycled bottles!  Above I'm using Tazo tea bottles, salvaged from the recycling.)  Wash these in super-hot water or in the dishwasher. 
  • A plastic funnel.  You can make one by punching a hole in the bottom  of a small yogurt container.
  • A saucepan.

Ingredients:  Fresh cranberries, fresh ginger root, white vinegar, bottle garnish like a sprig of rosemary and a string of cranberries (below)

  • Sanitize the glass jars and lids
  • Wash the cranberries (a handful per bottle)
  • Wash and peel the ginger root; cut into small match-stick sized slices (6-8 per bottle)

  • Determine how much vinegar you need for the bottles (a quick pour in/pour out works well).
  • Bring the vinegar to a boil in a saucepan.
  • While the vinegar is heating, place a handful of cranberries and the ginger in each bottle.
  • After the vinegar has boiled, let it cool for just a minute to make it easier to handle.
  • Using the funnel, pour the vinegar into the glasses.  The cranberries will pop and immediately begin turning the vinegar into this lovely pink color!
  • Let the vinegar sit for a day or two.  Pour out and save the pink liquid while straining the ginger and cranberries. 
  • Refill the jars with the pink vinegar and new cranberries/ginger.  Garnish the bottle and enjoy.
  • This should be stored in the fridge.  I will use it on rice, or in a oil-vinegar dressing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wise Women Wednesday - #4 and Giveaway

This week's question:
How do you remain true to your unique life's path?

It would be easy to ask a question about gratitude today, but I'm sure you're already thinking grateful thoughts.  So let's take a different approach...I want to know what strategies you employ to stay focused on being honestly YOU regardless of pressures from society.  I look forward to your responses!


Congratulations to last week's giveaway winner, Mary Jane

(Her name was randomly chosen from the commenters.)

This is my last Wise Women question for the month, but I've enjoyed this so much I'm sure I'll bring it around again.  For what it's worth, these questions are very real to me and I take your thoughts to heart. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank You Tea

"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the hardest things about moving has been leaving some very close women friends in the Midwest.  And I'm so grateful that those friends remain close to me - let me praise email and Facebook!  I've come to learn that a network of supportive women friends is crucial.

And when I arrived in Portland, there was another group of women here who welcomed me into their company.  This has carried me through.  Without their companionship I would have been very lonely.  And so I recently had a "Thank You Tea" to offer my gratitude to four women that have made me feel part of a community .  And also thanks to my abiding friends - from coast to coast and in between, in the desert and in the mountains, in the plains and the cities.  Thank you!

Marilyn has written about the tea party in a lovely way, and I encourage you to visit her blog! 

For this special day, I used some of my favorite china dishes.  I served East Frisian tea and cranberry-walnut tea bread, along with fruit and cheese.  It was fun to host a tea party in our apartment.  The day was chilly and damp, perfect for a tea in front of my fireplace and to share the warmth of friendship.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Parsley Pesto

Our garden is still going strong with lettuce, kale, turnips, beets, rosemary, cress, and lots of parsley!  We found this delicious and zingy recipe for parsley pesto in our local newspaper.  (I think it originally came from the book Cook Italy.)  It's an interesting recipe because it uses neither Parmesan cheese nor nuts, staples of traditional pesto.  Yet the results are great!  If you have surplus parsley, this is a winner!

Parley and Lemon Pesto

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and pressed
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (I like the panko style)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp lemon zest
Salt and pepper (optional)

Put everything into a food processor and run until a nice paste forms.  Enjoy!  It freezes well, too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wise Women Wednesday - #3

This week's question:

How do you cultivate patience?

Patience is not my natural tendency.  I'm more of the "grab it by the horns and wrestle it down" type of personality.  But I've been working hard to cultivate patience.  What tips can you offer?


Congratulations to last week's winner, Faith Hope CherryTea!
(Her name was randomly chosen from the commenters.)

Each Wednesday, I will post a question and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Comment each Wednesday for a chance at a giveaway! (4 for the month.) The winner each week will get a sample of tea, a surprise, and my thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My New Downtown Bag

Me and the bag, in the heart of the city

For over a year, I've been on the hunt for the perfect camera bag.  I want a cross-body style (instead of a backpack) because I want to be able to slide it around and take out the camera.  I also want it to hold other stuff - my keys, water bottle, map, journal, etc.  It needs to be comfortable for a day-long trek into the city.  And it needs to look good.  Finding a bag that meets all requirements has been tough, but I've finally found one that I'm very happy with, the Lowepro Passport Sling.

Note: I didn't intentionally color coordinate my outfit with the walls (freshly painted in living room)

What I like best about this bag is that it looks cool, and NOT like a camera bag. The bag has room for one D-SLR camera body with lens attached and an additional lens (in padded compartments), plus some extra stuff. (It's a little tight with the cam body and lens together, but it works and doesn't jostle around.).

This is me flirting with the photographer, the DH

I've tested the bag twice now and I can tell you that I really like it!  The bag expands with the black zipper shown down the seam, above, but I haven't had to use that yet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marmalady Marilyn

Meet Marmalady, also know as my friend Marilyn!  She writes a wonderful blog and has her own tea and jam business, Marmalady's.  (I'm currently loving the Cherry Amaretto jam.)

Marilyn has many talents, one is pattern design.  She offers a pattern for this vintage-styled cloche hat.  I have the pattern and look forward to showing mine, once I get it made.  I'll make one for me and one for my niece.

I made Marilyn's acquaintance through blogging, and we met in person for the first time two and a half years ago, when I was in Portland for a work trip.  Little did I know that I would one day be living here.  Thank you, Marilyn, for helping me to transition into my new home!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wise Women Wednesday - #2

This week's question:

How do you forgive yourself?


Congratulations to last week's winner, Marlena
(Her name was randomly chosen from the commenters.)

Each Wednesday, I will post a question and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Comment each Wednesday for a chance at a giveaway!  (4 for the month.)  The winner each week will get a sample of tea, a surprise, and my thanks!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Book review: Sew Retro

I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of sewing (and, in parallel, a look at feminism and gender roles) in the new book Sew Retro, by Judi Ketteler.  http://www.sewretrothebook.com/

I was inspired by the profile of Ellen Curtis Demorest, who made paper patterns accessible to the home seamstress.  Among many enterprises, she ran a magazine that encouraged positive messages for women.  It encouraged them to seek employment, apply to college, and applaude the successes of their women peers.  She provided jobs for women in her shops throughout the country, including hiring African-American women who received the same benefits as white women. 

If you're interested in fashion, sewing, and/or women's history, this book is a fun and informative read.  (Your library probably has it, if you're willing to wait in line.)  The book also provides sewing projects for the modern woman, inspired by the past.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Agave Granola

I've been eating a lot of granola lately, and I've taken to making it myself.  I like the flavor of agave nectar and I like to add things not typically found in the store versions, like hazelnuts or coconut.

Here's my version of this recipe:
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts (hazelnuts are especially good!)
  • A couple of handfuls of seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup agave (or honey)
  • Other goodies as you desire:  Coconut, choc chips, etc.
I like the olive oil/butter combo.  I've tried it with just butter, and while tasty, I wanted to cut down on that.  I've tried it with just olive oil, and again, while tasty, it didn't brown up the way I wanted.  So I go half and half.

Preheat oven to 250.  In a large bowl, add the oats, nuts, seeds and flax seed meal.  Stir.

Melt the butter and add the agave.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about a minute.  Take off the heat and stir in the olive oil and vanilla until well blended. 

Stir this liquid mixture into the dry ingredients above.  Mix well. Spread onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet (you may need two, depending on how much stuff you've added).  I do not recommend putting in the dried fruit now.  It gets too done.  I stir in the fruit after the stuff comes out of the oven.

Bake for ~1 hour or a little more, until the oats get nice and brown and to the level of crunchiness you desire. 

Bring out of oven and stir in the fruit and any extras (if you are using something that melts, wait until it cools.)  Enjoy several handfuls right away, but don't burn your tongue!

When it cools, pack away in an airtight container.  If I go easy and have some of this on granola every day for breakfast, it lasts a week.  Sometimes I don't make it  that long!

This version is lightly sweet, so it's not what you'll buy at the store.  Also, you could choose to stir in the nuts, seeds and flax seed meal with the fruit and get even more healthful benefits from those items in raw form.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wise Women Wednesday and Giveaway!

Bouquet from the Farmer's Market last Sunday

How do you hold joy and sorrow in your heart at the same time?
Joy in these glorious flowers
Sorrow in knowing this is the last of them for a time
A metaphor for the unspoken joys and sorrows in our hearts

I'm celebrating National Blog Posting Month by starting a Wise Women Wednesday series.

Each Wednesday, I will post a question and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Comment each Wednesday for a chance at a giveaway!  (4 for the month.)  The winner each week will get a sample of tea, a surprise, and my thanks!

How do you hold joy and sorrow in your heart at the same time?

By the way, men can comment too!