Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Quick Supper-Mushroom Tortellini With Sauteed Mushrooms, Squash And Grape Tomatos

I have a well stocked pantry right now, so I've been trying to do most of  my cooking and baking with my pantry staples, so they don't get too old or expired.

I've also been trying to make meals which can be picked apart to suit each of our dietary needs/preferences. The baby cannot have salt yet, The Kid is super picky, I'm trying to stick to veggies, and The Husband will eat almost anything. Aside from tomatoes and cucumbers. He's a terrible human being. Don't worry, I've let him know.

Some nights I just give up, feed The Kid a couple scrambled eggs and bake a sweet potato for Babycakes, so that The Husband and I can some hot sauce/salty/spicy goodness.

Other nights, I pull off a miracle and all of us walk away happy from the same simple dish.

This was one of those dishes.

I started by sauteing sliced squash, mushrooms, onions and grape tomatoes in olive oil, savory and parsley.

While that was cooking, I boiled a pot of pre-made mushroom tortellini.

When the pasta was ready, I drained it then added it to the vegetable mixture.

The Kid ate the noodles only, Babycakes downed some squash, The Husband ate all but the tomatoes, and I had the bowl in the photos.

Everybody was happy, Mommy did minimal work.

If only every day could be so accommodating!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Patch Button Embroidery

I recently finished a new button embroidery. It is a tangle of pinks, reds, peaches and greens inspired by my love of the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon character of my youth, and wild berry patches in the summer.

I love this piece because it is nostalgic without being cartoony.

Not that I have any qualms about owning vintage toys or new toys or anything featuring cartoon characters, but I know that some people do. For the person who wants a throwback to their childhood that would look appropriate in their grown up living room or kitchen or bedroom, this piece is perfect.

It also evokes the freshness and sweetness of spring and summer, even on the coldest of winter days.

I just really love this one!

And hopefully, one of you will too. It will be available in my etsy shop soon.

At least, I'm pretty sure it will be. As long as I can convince myself to part with it...*wink wink*

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sourdough French Toast Sandwiches With Bacon, Gouda, Bananas And Raspberry Preserves

Yeah, you read that right.

For the opening race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, I wanted to make The Husband a little something special. It was cold, we were home and wanting some comfort food. We cooked up some bacon, then made French toast in the bacon fat and assembled some super delish sandwiches.

You might die of a heart attack from this sandwich,  but at least you'd die happy, happy, happy!

We started by cooking the bacon, then cooked our French toast in the bacon drippings. I actually poured all of the bacon fat into a little Pyrex refrigerator dish, then ladled out a little at a time into my ceramic frying pan.

We then started our sandwich stack with some creamy smoked Gouda.

Next we added some amazingly delicious, nitrate free bacon.

Banana slices followed, for sweetness and creamy texture. Oh and fruit. Guilt free sandwich!

Or something like that.

Generous smatterings of raspberry preserves add sweetness and a tart factor.

We then nuked our sandwiches in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the cheese before applying the second pieces of French toast. It would be better to broil your sandwich halves, but I'm terrified of the broiler function in our cheap little oven. True story.

I should get around to explaining that one, someday.

Obviously, after assembly, you eat!

These sandwiches were one of the most amazing dishes that I've ever made. Perfect comfort food. Creamy, crisp, salty, smokey, sweet, and tart all rolled into one perfect little meal. And, it works for breakfast or lunch or dinner.

I know I'll definitely be making these again. The Husband even took one to work for lunch the next day. He said it was still fabulous, a day later and re-heated.

While I slapped the preserves on the inside of mine, I gave him preserves on the side, just because I wasn't sure how much sweetness he would want. If I was making these for guests, I'd probably do the same thing.

If you're looking for something completely comforting, a little salty, a little sweet and the perfect food to precede a nap, then THIS DISH IS FOR YOU.

If you happen to be an insomniac, this might be your magic pill. Try it. You'll thank me later, I promise.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week In Review

I haven't been on here for a few days, as we've been busy working on projects around the house, so this post is just a collection of photos and anecdotes  from the past week that I thought I would share with y'all.

Early last week, I sent The Husband out for some half off V-Day chocolate. I wanted a box. It is just, you know, what you are supposed to do.  Bad idea when you are trying to eat better, I know, but I am what I am.

This is what he came home with-

I swear, that man WANTS to keep me fat. And I am fat right now. The fattest that I have ever been in my entire adult life, aside from the times that I have been pregnant. But that's a discussion for a totally different day....*sigh*

I am doing the smoothie thing, almost every day. It helps curb the need to eat all the time, because I can just nurse a tall glass of pulverized fruit for a few hours. Plus, they are real pretty. This peach/pineapple/coconut/carrot combo was lit from within. I'm trying to find a wall in my house where I can paint that color on, like, right NOW.

Speaking of paint, the colors of our playroom had been bothering me for awhile. I knew that I wanted to repaint, which was sort of a daunting thought for The Husband, as it is a weird room, and we spent a lot of money on paint the first time around since we didn't prime the walls before we put a yellow over a red.

I know, I know. Don't even say it.

At any rate, I had been bouncing ideas around for several months. I wasn't sure what colors I wanted, but I knew how I wanted the room to feel. I had gone with historical colors through most of the rest of the house, but the yellow and brown(Mark Twain house inspired) I had chosen for the playroom just did not feel at all, well, playful. Plus, the light in that room isn't the best, so the colors became not only too formal, but sort of dingy and dirty. And that's bad for me, mentally. I'm not sure if it is the OCD part of my brain, or one of the other various acronym issues I have, but something up there cannot function at 100% if my surroundings are "oppressive". And color is a major part of that. Everything revolves around color(and food), for me. When I close my eyes and think about a person or a place or a food, I don't see their features or character traits or scents, I just see color. The Husband is brown and green. The Kid is brown. Babycakes is blue.

That's why I cannot really draw a person from memory. FACT. Random fact.

ANYWHO, I finally settled on a palette inspired by "Adventure Time", a show that The Kid and I both LOVE. I wanted it to be bright and fun, but not cartoony. So, I went with a deep brown(to represent the earth and underworld of OOO) cool blues(to represent the sky, Finn's clothes, Ice King and his kingdom), and green(Finn's backpack).

We've got a lot of work to do in this room(and um, the whole house!), as both windows, the ceiling fan and the door are scheduled for replacement, the ocher trim needs paint, and the ceiling needs a do-over, but the new colors are already making it much easier for me to tolerate the room until warmer weather arrives and these changes can be made.

It is kinda hard to tell from the photo, but there are actually two shades of blue in addition to the pistachio pudding green, and a fudge brownie hue. The girl at the hardware store loved the paint swatches and was excited to mix them. I figure she probably spends the day mixing up a lot of classic neutral colors, so these must have been fun.

We'll be finishing up the paint over the next few days, then picking out windows and shutters for the windows someday in the near future. I like the idea of indoor shutters, so I don't have to deal with blinds or curtains. Oddly enough, these were the only two windows in the house that were not fairly new. We put replacement on the back burner since we were not really using the room, but now that the baby is older, the kids are playing together more, and I need a room where I can work while still keeping an eye on them, we are ready to start using it.

I've also begun the search for the perfect exterior paint colors. I've got a few in mind, but I need to decide if I am ready to have the brightest house on the block. Or the street. Or the North side of town...

My guess is, yes.

In other news, I've got a new series of embroideries in the works. The Husband calls them "Meanderings". They are abstract little embroidered "journeys" that I take while meditating. I'm excited to be bringing these new pieces to my shop this Spring, as they'll offer a unique alternative to traditional embroidery for those who appreciate "old school", but want something a little more modern for their home. They also complement my button embroideries quite nicely, I do believe.

Here's a sneaky peeky of the piece that I am currently working on-

As you guys know, I've been making a point of doing some sketching, this year. When The Kid sees me sketching, she wants to collab. Every single time.

As much as I love her, there are some things that I just want to and for myself, darn it.

So, I always try to offer compromises.

This is one of them-

Speaking of The Kid, she has decided that she has a new home.

This is her new home.

Don't ask. I wish I knew.

At one point, this past week, I was standing in my front doorway, the baby screaming, the house a certified disaster area, frustrated to the point of mental explosion with my life's inability to oblige my selfish desires and dreams, when this happened-

And, she totally knows what that says.

Suddenly, all my "failures" seemed irrelevant. There is always time to organize, clean and pick up stuff. And there will most likely always be time to chase personal dreams.

My four year old will only be four for so many days.

And on that note, this small collection of her things is a reminder that I am doing something right.

We've got a lot of things on our plate for this week, and I'm excited to see where it all takes us.

I've got some new work to share with you, and hopefully new listings in my etsy shop!

I hope you all have a fantastic week. And if you're in the Midwest like me, stay warm!

Friday, February 21, 2014

More Potato Stamping

I forgot to show y'all the stampings we did for a few Valentine cards last week. We used one sweet potato and one yellow potato. Both were a little on the mushy side, but we made them work!

After stamping, we folded them in half, then The Kid drew little portraits of the recipients inside on one half, and I scrawled a little Valentine message on the other half. I think they turned out really pretty. I'm already thinking about stampings we can do this fall after the leaves descend.

For now, I'd be happy just to SEE some leaves again.

Go away Snow! You've worn out your welcome!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sketchbook Entries

Here's a few more little sketches I've entered into the little book The Husband gave me. They are representations of what has been going on in my mind.

Don't even try to get me to explain. I don't entirely understand them either.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some Overdue Valentine Stuff

I know V-Day is long gone and everybody has moved on to planning their drunken St. Patrick's Day, or not drunken(I hope) Easter, but I really wanted to share one of the gifts that I gave The Husband with you all.

But first, nothing says love like a good beating!

I'm referring, of course, to batter beating. Which will be much easier for me now that I have this-

The Husband knows that I really enjoy Valentine's Day. I think it is just silly fun, and I love the color schemes and all the cheesey decor, but he also knows that overpriced cut flowers are not my cup of tea. I'm not big on the whole intimately dining out with hundreds of other people who are also intimately dining out(how intimate can it be when half the town is joining you?) thing either. So we usually just exchange cards, or give each other a little handmade token of our affections.

This year, mine was a beater. Which he knew that I have been wanting, but just could not justify the price of, seeing that I've got the regular beater that came with my mixer and a perfectly good spatula to scrape the bowl with.

And some yummy treats from the local bakery.

The treats were a double gift, because guess what? See that little plastic cupcake pick? I'm gonna turn it into a brooch. Upcycling at its best!

My little gift to him was a new coffee mug and some marshmallows to put in it.

But not just any old marshmallows.

We're talking Wondermade marshmallows, which are, without a doubt, some of the best sweets that I've ever savored. And I am a chocolate kinda gal, through and through, so for me to have a new favorite is really saying something. These are definitely not your grocery store marshmallows.

I bought some "manly" flavors. And The Husband appreciated the novelty of them.

And then we popped some in our mouths and realized that these people aren't joking. These marshmallows taste like what they claim to. The sriracha and bourbon flavors will just about burn your nose hairs off with their strong scents.

Guinness was my favorite. The little pretzel pieces really add a special something. The bourbon mallows are super sweet. And delicious in a hot coffee/cocoa  mix.

The Sriracha ones...well, those are just sort of weird. I'm not opposed to spicy and sweet together, but in this format, I'm just not sure what to think of them. I am glad I tried them, but I don't know if I would order them again.

However, I have not tried them in hot chocolate yet. I feel like I might appreciate them more if they are melting in some hot chocolate or sandwiched in a s'more.

The other thing that I love about these marshmallows is the packaging. It is beautiful! If you go to their website, you can read about who helped them with their branding and packaging. I applaud their design firm. I would have bought these whether or not I found the flavors intriguing, just for the packaging alone.

I suppose I am a dork, but I'll be saving these little boxes to display/store stuff in my studio. I have always been into packaging, for as long as I can remember. It is kinda weird that I never went into graphic design, because I have stacks of saved labels, tags, boxes and bags that came off of everything from perfumes to candy to shoes.

If you didn't think that I was weird before, you probably do now.

It is ok, though. I am totally cool with it. I may be weird, but I have good taste in marshmallows.

Trust me. Buy these marshmallows. If you've never had a handmade marshmallow, your life will be changed forever.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mini Fruit Marshmallow Button Embroidery

I finally finished it.

And I say "finally", because I actually started the thing way back when I was pregnant. And then I was sick. And then we decided to buy a house and move. And then I had a baby. And then I was tired out of my mind.

Wait, I still am.

But, I've had increasing amounts of time to work, so I pulled this piece out of storage and began to work on it a few weeks ago.

And now it is finished! Hurrah!

Like most of my work, it was inspired by food. And my obsession with food culture.

I chose these buttons based on their resemblances to those little fruit flavored miniature marshmallows. Those things are the cutest! But, I am not sure that I know anybody who actually enjoys the taste of them. They have those really super artificial fruit flavors that some people grow up thinking real fruit should taste like.

Though I don't know many people who eat them right out of the bag, everybody and their dog has a family member who puts these things in dessert salads, those weird but somehow enticing conglomerations of smooshy fats, sugars, nuts, fruits and food colorings. So I have to wonder, do these marshmallows exist solely for our twisted dessert salad making pleasure? Or are there people out there who actually think, "Oh, I'd like something sweet to munch on. What should I get? Chocolate? Naw, I'd like something that tastes like Lemon Pledge and a plastic Strawberry Shortcake doll..."

I just don't know.

I do know that this piece would make a really lovely little piece of Easter or Spring wall decor. Or a sweet little birthday or wedding shower gift for the friend who has it all.

It would also be absolutely precious in a nursery. But not so precious that you'll have to get rid of it when your kid outgrows it. Because it isn't baby specific decor, so your baby can't outgrow it!

I think I've rambled on enough here.

Mini Fruit Marshmallow Button Embroidery. Coming soon, to an etsy shop(mine. duh.) near you!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Printing With Apples And Sweet Potatos

If you follow my facebook page, you know that I was intrigued by an apple printed tote bag that appeared in a Martha Stewart article on kid crafts. We decided to make a bag ourselves, and it was so much fun that we went ahead and shaped a sweet potato into a stamp and made a bunch of wrapping paper too.

It is such an easy project. You just slice an apple in half, paint it and stamp it. You want to use light layers of paint or you'll end up with a globby mess. We actually mixed some glow in the dark paint with our regular paints and ended up with an awesome glow in the dark bag! I did not get pictures of that, though. Darn it.

In between stamps on the bag, it is helpful to stamp on blank paper, so you don't get too much buildup on the bag.

I used a small pairing knife to shape the sweet potato. You could use a metal cookie cuter as your guide, if you wanted to. I just did not have any small enough.

Look at all that wrapping paper! And it glows in the dark too!

Small gifts for the rest of the year are covered! Ha.

The Kid took a couple pieces of the wrapping paper and created some really beautiful artwork as well.

She was so excited about this project that we stamped Valentine cards for the grandparents too. They aren't quite done yet, though. I'll post them when we are through. 

So if you're kiddies are bored from being stuck inside this lonnnnnng LONG winter, maybe dig through your produce drawer, see what you've got that's a little on the not fresh side, and try some stamping!

It really is fun. Not only for the kid, but the adult.

Especially if you've eaten four hundred million apples in the past month and you still haven't lost any weight, so that damn apple has it coming... 

Wait, what?