Wednesday, March 31, 2010

... another trip to the rhododendron species foundation garden

RSF

an early spring in seattle means an early trip to the rhododendron species foundation and botanical garden.

RSF

RSF

last year we went mid-may and we felt like we missed the peak blooming time for a lot of the rhododendrons and azaleas. and this time i felt like we were a little early... so many buds about to burst! but there's beauty in that too, no?

RSF

RSF

and there were certainly plenty of open rhododendrons to admire and smell.

RSF

RSF

and many, many, many other flowers and trees to look at.

RSF

i love how this just-opening leaf and flower combo looks like a butterfly.

RSF

i think i took a picture of moss on this very same tree last year.

RSF

i am in love with this little green flower. but i have a long-standing thing for green flowers. it really is just this color and it looked so vibrant growing out of the moss. wasn't that smart of me to take a picture of the sign so i can remember it later?

the good news is that since we went early this year we can go again in a month or two and catch all the blooming lovelies we didn't get to see today!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

... a quiet afternoon

ranunculus

just enjoying an afternoon cup of tea and a beam of sunlight cutting through the living room and falling, just so, on some fading pink ranunculus.

liberty mug & ranunculus

and then noticing how nicely my new liberty mug from target looks alongside the flowers.

ranunculus

and hoping for more spring weather... rather than the angry cold pelting windy raininess of yesterday.

and for more pink in my life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

... my little folks voile quilt

little folks quilt in a sunny glow

oh, how i love this quilt. i love everything about it.

little folks quilt front and back

from the voile patchwork top to the flannel back, it is the softest, coziest quilt ever.

little folks quilt on the chair

it was heavily, heavily, heavily inspired by this one from ashley over at film in the fridge. i took one look at her quilt, looked at my own stack of little folks voile fat quarters in the sugar cookie colorway, and knew this was the quilt i needed to make for my friend christine's first baby.

the shower was this afternoon, and i cut things a little too close. i was sewing the binding on this morning and didn't even have time to wash it before i had to wrap it up. (obviously, there was time to take a few photos. priorities, right?)

little folks quilt

the squares were all cut to 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, and this wee quilt measures 36 x 36 inches. as ashley did, i added in a few of the dobby dots to punch up the color and make things a little less pink. i love the effect. it gives it an intense east indian wedding/buddhist monk saffron robe/pink sari/marigold/orchid look.

folksy flannel back on little folks quilt

and did i mention how soft it is? the back is just some simple, pieced, folksy flannel.

binding

the binding is kisii by maggie maye for michael miller. it kind of pushes it over the top pink-wise, but i still love it.

binding necklace

i used this clever trick that i learned over at the sometimes crafter to sew on the binding. you just roll the binding off of the string around your neck as you sew it onto the quilt.

easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

... my sister

me & mandy

we haven't always gotten along. i hated her for tormenting me and she hated me for being a little twerp. sure, we fought, sometimes with knives (yipes!), and most of the doors in our old house are riddled with holes from where we battered them in when one of us was taunting the other on the other side. and i believe she still has a scar on her back from where one of mom's high heels hit her (how did it get there, i wonder?).

riverfront park

but there is no one like my sister. when she wasn't teasing me she was making sure i wasn't dating the wrong guys, helping me with my first bra, driving me to school and letting me hang out with her and her friends. and now, well, now she is just about the nicest older sister a younger sister could ask for. she is always supportive of and interested in my various whims, she gives the fiercest haircuts, and, nowadays, only teases me the nicest way.

mandy and me

happy birthday, mandy!

(please don't beat me up for posting these pictures.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

... not being sick

bed view for the last three days

this has been my view for the last three days. sick. with a cold. in bed. catching up on quilting blogs. (and omg, this quilt, which you can see on my laptop screen up there, from red pepper quilts is so insanely beautiful, please go look at and admire it now).

bedside view whilst sick

i have been occupying my head-hurty, sniffly, achy, feverish time with many movies (thank god for netflix watch instantly), plants vs. zombies, the always-delightful interweb, hexagons, tissues, fluids, and more tissues.

basting the little folks voile quilt

fortunately, today i started feeling just a little less cruddy and got to change my view and spend some time looking at this.

little folks quilt top

and this.

it's hard to feel sick when you are looking at something so, so pretty.

more to come, since i also had the strength to make a quilt back, baste, and quilt this one today!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

... irish soda bread

soda bread

ok, so i'm not really that into st. patrick's day. i don't do the pub thing, usually it's a coincidence that i'm wearing green, and i want nothing to do with leprechauns. but give me a holiday where there's some kind of special food involved, and i am all over that.

so for me, today meant baking up a big loaf of irish soda bread. as it happens, there was an intriguing recipe for soda bread in the march issue of bon appetit (the same issue where i discovered flapjacks). i say intriguing, because the author of the article was non other than pretty in pink's blaine. sure, i would've preferred a soda bread recipe from duckie, but you take what you can get, right?

soda bread and irish butter

this was interesting. the parts of the bread that weren't complete dough* (believe me, i baked this sucker even longer than was required) were insanely delicious. especially when spread with some tasty kerrygold butter. now, back to my guinness and antm.

*aha! now that i clicked through and took a look at the link for the recipe, it looks like i wasn't the only person who had a problem with it. sounds like it needs a longer baking time, amongst other things. but it's probably going to be another year before i make soda bread again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

... flapjacks

flapjacks

a few weeks ago, i was flipping through the march issue of bon appetit and happened upon this recipe for true british flapjacks. i had never heard of them, and was intrigued. a recipe that consisted of just oats, golden syrup, butter and sugar but that tasted transcendent and amazing? it certainly got my attention, but i set the magazine aside and quickly forgot about it.

flapjacks

and then, a few days later, whilst reading this book for book club, i happened upon a scene where the main character motivates his fellow military troupes by making an enormous batch of flapjacks. wait... what? that kind of flapjacks? i know what those are! what are the chances of happening upon flapjacks two times in one week?

golden syrup

so, in honor of my book club meeting tonight i tried my hand at making miss wizenberg's recipe. i am going to say that they are indeed tasty--kind of a toffee-like flavor that comes from the golden syrup, but they also just taste a bit like granola. i mean, a really, really good granola.

flapjacks

they are crunchy and chewy and sweet and a delightful little treat. (just don't make them with your feet!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

... hexagons

hexagons

can't. stop. sewing. hexagons.

hexagons

must. sew. more. hexagons.

hexagons

must. not. stop.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

... ladurée sucré

sucré

i must be the luckiest hostess alive, because this hostess gift i received last week at our oscar party is completely unbelievable. my pal suze just returned from a spell in paris and brought me this almost-too-beautiful-to-touch book from ladurée.

sucré

sucré

from its celadon box to its suede cover and gold-leafed pages, everything about ladurée sucré is pure candy perfection. and that's not even including the beautiful recipes and photos inside!

macarons citron

obviously, no ladurée book is complete without recipes for macarons.

framboise

and there are tarts aplenty!

sorbet

i am so intrigued by this fromage blanc sorbet.

oh, and there is so much more goodness in here it's making my mouth water just thinking about it all.

choux

thank you, suze! now i'm off to learn french so i can whip up some macarons citron and bring them right over.

Friday, March 12, 2010

... improvisational piecing, i think

last night was the first of the improvisational patchwork piecing classes taught by the fantastic and talented sew katie did. in my short stint so far as a quilter i haven't attempted anything at all improvisational and, frankly, it scares the crap out of me. even the quilts i've made that i made up myself i at least planned out to the last detail before starting to sew anything together. so last night when she had us reach into bags and blindly pull out pieces of fabric that we had to incorporate into our blocks i had a bit of a hard time with it.

first improvisational block

this is my first block. and i kind of like it. even the purple, which nearly gave me a heart attack when i pulled it blindly from the bag, and which, to be honestly, i thought of putting right back in before anyone saw me cheating. but nope, i sewed it right on there! while this is completely crazy and meant more as an exercise than an object to be used, i kind of want to use it for something. purple and all.

string-pieced improv

the second thing we did involved a little more planning, and i found i struggled with this part even more. i worried about the colors (less yellow! more yellow! too many dots! more more more dots!) and then i had much angst over the placement. i worried i didn't do things perfectly and then i worried i did it too perfectly.

now i'm worried about what to do with this big chunk of string-pieced craziness. i know i need to stop with the worrying and just do something. i think i might just put it aside for the time being and do some more straight up improvising, just pulling fabrics from bags and sewing and doing anything but thinking. perhaps that will get me back in the improvisational groove.

yes, i think that would be best.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

... pink flowers

english daisies

a recent trip to swanson's turned up springy inspiration in the form of a multitude of pink flowers. i fell so in love with these sweet little english daisies (and they're perennials... perfect!) that we took home a few and planted them by the front steps so i can see them every day as i come and go.

saxifrage

i love all kinds of saxifrage, but this one with sweet waxy looking pink flowers that rise up from the greenery make me go all moony. and those little yellow guys aren't too shabby either.

flowering quince

every year i admire the flowering quince when it blossoms at the same time as the forsythia, and every year i completely forget what it's called. but not this year! every time i see it now i say to myself, 'flowering quince, flowering quince, flowering quince!" this beautiful, pale pink variety is different than the more coral pink ones you usually see, but i am seriously in love with the way it resembles those japanese glass flowers... you know the ones i'm talking about, right?

ah well, for now i will just go back to my daydream of airy pink petals, tidy little flower heads, and a sea of pinky goodness.

Monday, March 8, 2010

... oscar night

elderflower presse

i'm a fool for the oscars. i can't help it. i know the awards themselves are silly and that celebrity worship is absurd, but i really and truly do enjoy watching this long, drawn-out ceremony.

and i think that's exactly the appeal. it's a ceremony and it's a tradition, and for many years now c and i have hosted an oscar party. it's become an excuse to convene with a group of lovely friends, don a party dress (me, not c), and imbibe fancy cocktails whilst admiring pretty gowns and sparkly jewelry, and practicing being wits and wags as we contribute our own commentary to the proceedings.

PFI

PFI

oscar parties around these parts usually start with a trip to big john's pfi, where we stock up on imported foods, tartlet shells, drink fixings, olives, and fancy cheeses. i love the weird wonderfulness of pfi.

PFI

it's a little know fact that pfi is the source for the bulgarian sour cherry syrup that is the basis for my "famous" oscar cocktail, the red carpet. it is even a littler know fact that this cocktail was created by me and my pal aj rathbun (during one slow hour of work many, many years ago), which he immortalized in two of his amazing cocktail books.

elderflower presse

however, this year i broke from tradition and instead of serving the red carpet we served a sparkly drink based around this delightfully sweet and adorable bottle of elderflower pressé that we picked up at pfi. how could i resist this packaging? our cocktail was four parts pressé, two parts lillet, and one part gin, garnished with a twist of lemon. i am seriously in love with this cocktail. bubbly, gin-tastic, and just a little bit sweet.

blind baking tartlet shells

i also baked some little savory tartlets with pre-made crusts from pfi, since i am often just a little too lazy to make 30 tiny tartlet shells by hand. and the ones from pfi are just wonderful. just blind bake them (as i did with dries favas for weight) and fill with cheese and veggies and egg and other yumminess.

plum tart

i also made a rustic plum tart (yes, this dough i made myself) that turned out to be the highlight of the evening. plums! why don't i eat you more often?

as you can see, it was a night filled with tarts: of the savory kind, the sweet kind, and the hollywood kind.