Saturday, October 31, 2009

... halloweening it up

pumpkin carving

it has been a wonderful halloween. there was pumpkin carving, winter pimm's cups, it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown, trick-or-treaters, tomato soup, dracula (both the book and the movie), hard cider, and, of course, lots and lots of candy. too. much. candy.

pumpkin face

pumpkin mouth

i always carve my pumpkin with jagged edges and triangle shapes. only because i'm lazy and those are easier to cut.

c's pixel pumpkin

c's is meant to look pixelated. i love it. almost as much as his scott simon pumpkin from a few years ago.

my scary pumpkin



i hate to say goodbye to october. not just because i have to turn over my calendar (and isn't that the prettiest calendar page ever?) but because it seems like the year is going by so fast. at least we'll have some good memories, october and i.

Friday, October 30, 2009

... fall knitting

wet leaves

i love fall. no, seriously, i love fall. it is my most favorite season of all. unfortunately sometimes it feels like it's too short. like you blink and suddenly it's all over and all the leaves are on the ground and the trees are bare and suddenly in the mornings your car is frosted over and the grass is crunchy and the air is too cold to breathe. actually, that's a good season too, but just second to fall, in my opinion.

fall means i can drink more tea than i should (a girl has to stay warm, right?) and, hey, why not have a cookie with that tea? or warm up the house by baking some fresh scones in the morning. it means a cozy night in on the sofa under a blanket watching bad tv, or taking a bath, reading a good book, listening to the rain fall outside. it means halloween and thanksgiving (the best holiday of all), and hot soup and foggy mornings and roasted squash...

... and knitting. lot's of knitting.

new knitting project

ooh, what mysterious project am i working on now? we'll see what shape this one takes. fortunately it will be a shape that will keep me warm as the days get colder. and wetter.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

... baking things for other people

coconut rum cake

you are looking at a cake that i didn't eat at all. not one bite. and that's okay. because, as much as i bake, it's probably best not to partake in everything that comes out of my oven.*

this coconut rum cake was made, in fact, for the earthcorps auction last weekend. one of my awesome neighbors is on the earthcorps board, and requested a cake to be donated for their annual dessert auction, and i was more than happy to oblige. i have made this cake in the past, and knew it was pretty delicious, as long as you like coconut. and who doesn't like coconut?! crazy people, that's who!

coconut rum cake top

you may be noticing that not only is this cake topped with piles of delicious coconut, but that the coconut is fresh and hand shaved and toasted. yup, all done by me because of the love i have for earthcorps.

anyhow, earthcorps is awesome, and even if you didn't make it to their auction you probably want to give them money or volunteer, right? they have frequent volunteer opportunities in the seattle area, where you can help them restore native habitats or rip out invasive species, like english ivy or himalayan blackberry. fun! if i had some kind of sister-blog called "what ara jane hates," english ivy might be my first post.

coconut rum cake tag

*ew, just realized that "partake in everything that comes out of my oven" sounds really dirty. that should be a euphemism for something, but i swear to you, it's not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

... russian food


when i went to the soviet union in 1989, i ate a lot of food that i knew nothing about. meals appeared in front of me and i usually just ate them without worrying specifically about what i was putting in my mouth. we had a lot of jokes about mystery meat. i also recall a lot of caviar, but that's another story. but the thing i remember enjoying the most was shchi, a russian peasant-style soup made from cabbage. for something that sounds so blah, i promise you, it's a taste explosion in your mouth.


that looks like it needs a big ol' dollop of dilled sour cream.

shchi with dill sour cream

that's better.

so, the other day as i was looking at two giant heads of cabbage from our farm share, i had the idea to try to make shchi for the first time since i had it over 20 years ago. i found a somewhat authentic-looking and meat-free version online, and it also didn't hurt that this recipe had a baba-yaga story on the side. i'm a sucker for baba-yaga.

russian black bread

and i figured that since i was already doing the russian thing, i should make some russian black bread to accompany my soup. and make it i did! what a delicious loaf of bread. anything that you put molasses, chocolate, vinegar, whole wheat flour, rye flour, caraway seeds, and fennel seeds into has to be delicious, right?

russian black bread

it was terribly delicious. and because it was such an enormous pot of soup and because i made two loaves of bread, i am still enjoying this meal several days later.

in fact, i think i have been eating so much shchi and black bread, that i started having russian dreams involving much vodka and chaos. as it should be.

Friday, October 23, 2009

... experimenting in the kitchen

i wonder... do hazelnuts and cherries go together? let's ask these cookies.

hazelnut chocolate cherry cookie

the answer: not so much. but it was fun to try. and actually, there are chocolate chips in there, too, because why the heck not! my rationale here was that chocolate goes well with hazelnut, and cherries go well with chocolate, so why shouldn't cherries and hazelnuts be best friends, too!

actually, the longer answer is that there's probably a reason why you don't often find hazelnuts in cookies. there's something about the texture that was a little off. even though i toasted them nicely and removed their skins before baking them into the cookies.

(and you're probably noticing by now that i pretty much put dried cherries in any baked goods i get my hands one. in fact, i'm surprised i didn't put them in those chocolate scones the other day. oh god, my mouth is watering just imagining it. and now i'm making a mental note to try that next time.)

hazelnut chocolate cherry cookie

still, all problems aside, there wasn't enough wrong with these cookies to stop me from eating them all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

... my stacked coin quilt

wonderland coin quilt

i actually finished this quite a while ago, i just have had some excuse or other for not posting about it. you know: i'm too busy, the light hasn't been good for taking pictures, maybe i should wait on this one until i do the quilting on it, blah blah blah. but today i figured i had some free time, the light, while not great, was actually decent in the guest bedroom, and if i wait until i quilt it that could be a very long time indeed. i have also been feeling sheepish about how little i've been posting about quilting here lately, which, to be frank, was one of the main reasons i started this lil' blog in the first place.

wonderland coin quilt on bed

this quilt is intended for my niece on christmas this year. i am actually intending to give all my loved ones quilts this year, but that probably means getting my shit together pretty quickly and actually doing some more sewing, doesn't it? i bit the bullet on this one and bought a jelly roll of the moda momo wonderland prints, which i have been very much smitten with for many months. i knew olivia would love them as much as i do, from the colors (pinks, browns, reds, greens) to the prints (flowers, leaves, butterflies, lady bugs, polka dots).

wonderland coins staggered

i love the stacked coin look, and i especially love the staggered effect of the stacks with the extra white bits added. this was c's idea, and i think it was a mighty fine one. and once this is quilted it will look even more lovely.

wonderland coin quilt back

i have even gone so far as to piece a simple back for this one, the closest any of my three quilt tops have gotten to becoming actual real-life quilts! i did a simple stripe of coins across the back, with two solid blocks of this amy butler midwest modern print. while it's not a perfect match to the wonderland, i love how its geometric print sets off the other prints, which are more organic and flowy. plus, it's pink, and i think olivia will appreciate that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

... chocolate scones

hot-from-the-oven chocolate scones

today i had an unexpected mid-week day off. lucky me! after waking early and drinking at least one pot of tea, i figured i should put some food in my belly and, digging through the pantry for something interesting that would be delicious in a scone, i settled on chocolate scones with chunks of chopped bittersweet chocolate. sure, it's a little rich for breakfast, but given that these were out of the oven at 11am, all that chocolate wasn't too shocking to the system.

(should i mention the chocolate chip amuse-bouche to tide me over while the scones were baking? no? okay.)

chocolate scone breakfast

these went great with the tea and a few episodes of "mad men," which, omg you guys, is, like, the best show! i know, right? you've probably never heard of it, but (hot tip) let me tell you, it's sooooooo good! i just finished season one today, and i can't wait for the next season to come from netflix. seriously, you should all start watching this before everyone else gets in on the secret. and you can tell people you heard it here first.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

... having just enough ruffles


i'm glad that i'm cramming in as much knitting as possible into my two weeks. it'll be good to have some woolen knitted things to keep me warm through the winter.

just enough ruffles

so i'm very pleased with my new ruffly scarf, laura chau's just enough ruffles. i knit it up in a lovely greyish-pink manos del uruguay handspun wool. i totally heart manos del uruguay.

just enough ruffles

because you knit it lengthwise, and because you have to triple the number of stitches on the needles to get the ruffle, by the end your rows are 600 stitches, which makes it kind of a beast (and that increase row took me, like, forever!). but isn't it so pretty?

just enough ruffles

i should start knitting things for other people now, shouldn't i?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

... my new slouchy beret

slouchy beret

though i have been knitting for over 17 years, i am ashamed to admit that i am like liz lemon in my knitting habits. every two years i take up knitting... for a week. it must be my time again, because i was recently inspired by this sweet girl so i decided to pick up my knitting needles again for a couple of new projects.

you know what i also love? ravelry! yes, i must be the last knitter in the world to discover it, but better late then never, no? and even more sadly, it was my non-knitting boyfriend who clued me into the awesomeness of ravelry. come visit me and see what i'm working on!

slouchy beret

what i just finished was the star crossed slouchy beret, which is my favorite new hat for the fall. mostly because i can pull it on over my ponytail bun and shove all my hair up inside it, which gives me a stupidly immense amount of pleasure. and i got to practice my cabling and used a skein of alpaca that my mom gave me a few years ago. it's super soft and cozy and just right. so right that i don't really care that i look a bit like a dirty hippie in it, either.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

... corduroy mansions

alexander mccall smith's serial novel, corduroy mansions, started up again a few weeks ago and i couldn't be happier. it's an online novel that you can you can either read on the telegraph website or listen to the podcast, though i highly encourage the podcast... it's read by andrew sachs and the theme music makes me giddy every time i hear it.

the first book in the series is already finished, so if you haven't heard it yet you can start there to got caught up on all the action (in fact, a bound version of the book came out this summer). then start listening to the second book, the dog who came in from the cold, where my favorite character, the pimlico terrier freddie de la hay, plays a central role.

my favorite way to start a day is to make some oatmeal and a pot of tea, play a few rounds of carcassonne with my sweetie, and listen to the newest corduroy mansions chapter. cozy autumn mornings, indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

... santa fe


pictures from a vacation.


unfortunately it all started with a creepy limo ride to the airport at 7am, complete with flashing colored lights. i wonder how many drunk teens and/or bachelorettes have puked on the seats?


ok, i won't

i really had no expectations for this trip, just to have a nice time, but bandalier national monument was really a highlight.

el farol musicians

international folk art museum

an illicit photo from the most magical, amazing place on earth: the alexander girard collection at the museum of international folk art. i want to shrink down to a miniature version of myself so i can live here like in from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler.

making oatmeal



moon rise

we had a very lovely time in santa fe.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

... more vacations


this may be the most i've traveled in years. santa fe, here i come!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

... freshly baked bread

loaf front

i got a bee in my bonnet this weekend and felt the immediate need for homemade bread. (seems like i get lots of bees in bonnet. one would think i have a bonnet positively buzzing with bees, no?) unfortunately the words "immediate" and "homemade bread" don't really go well together, but cut to five hours later and i got to satisfy my craving. and it was worth it.

i am a fan of the tassajara bread book, which appears to have been recently reissued in a deluxe edition. this time i made the basic tassajara bread recipe, using a combination of whole wheat and white flours. it may have been my most successful bread to date. and even though i have a kitchenaid stand mixer with a dough hook, i still chose to knead it by hand. isn't it just better that way?

loaf top

and a few days later it is still delicious toasted with jam.

Monday, October 5, 2009

... the pacific antique mall


seriously, this place is enormous. who wouldn't enjoy spending hours wandering through the aisles on a sunday afternoon? actually, c wouldn't enjoy it very much, so it wasn't very nice of me to make him come along. but perhaps my enjoyment made up for his lack of it?



old man




dog head

black and white


it doesn't really matter to me that i've never actually purchased anything here. though i'm pretty sure i'm going back for that dresser.

beer lunch