Friday, January 29, 2010

My Funny Valentine

Although I'm finding it pretty hard to wrap my head around the idea that January is almost over, the fact is cupid lurks just around the corner, ready to pounce.

While I love a from-the-heart sparkles and doily card, or a sweet pastry surprise in the morning, I've never been one to go over the top for this particular holiday. Since it's also my brother's birthday, Valentine's day has never been my focus come February 14th. I've always really appreciated my brother for having chosen this particular day to check-in; no reason to sulk alone through a box of chocolates the years I've been single on this media hyped Couples Day. There was a birthday to celebrate here!

Having said that, I think these cheeky little handmade trinkets would be just thing to make that special someone blush.

1. Have a Heart Bust Pendant, by
Margeaux Lange (she uses barbie parts!)
2. Faux Bois Log, by somethingshidinginhere

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crunch Time

We made some impossibly large batches of granola, working assembly-line style, to give away as Christmas gifts this year. Yet somehow we were only left over with a one day's supply for ourselves. Is that an indicator of how much we had left, or how fast we consumed it? Let's not dwell on that one..

I love having fresh, homemade granola at home. Certainly, it excites me to scoff at the 9$ bags grocery stores somehow get away with selling. But more so, I love being able to customize the crunchy goodness to my exact tastes, and to know for sure it contains no ingredients I can't pronounce, and none of the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, it's so easy and cheap, and in my opinion makes the loveliest gift. Admittedly, I'm beating around the bush. There is that one other reason I love making granola.. You see, the following picture captures one of my favorite smells in the world. I have an inkling that melting the butter is not exactly essential to the process - surely using butter soft enough to simply allow the ingredients to be combined would do the trick - but why pass up on an opportunity to paint my house in the full, almost nutty caress that is the smell of melting butter? Ah... I just put a fresh batch in the oven, and now wait for a warm treat I can douse in cold creamy milk and decorate with a graceful plopping of thick yogurt, knowing that now my mornings are once again crunchy and delicious.

To me, making granola is all about getting creative, experimenting, and of course using up those banana chips that would otherwise go stale. I'm keen to try using peanut butter,
pecans,dried kiwis and other fruits, sunflower seeds and maybe pumpkin seeds. Probably not all together tough...
I'd also love to try making a savory version, using olive oil, cayenne and sun-dried tomatoes maybe? I imagine it would be a tasty thing to have around, to throw on a salad or coat a chicken in before roasting.

The method:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

For every three cups rolled oats, mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, and somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 a cup honey or maple syrup, or some combination of both.

Add more butter if you'd like more crispy clusters of goodness, and less if you're a less butter is better kind of person. (Really?)

Then add about 1/2 cup each of the dried fruits or nuts you're using. A whole cup if it's something you particularly like. (My classic go-to combo: almonds, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, banana chips, shredded coconut and flax seeds.)

Spread it on a baking sheet and bake until your kitchen and surrounding area smell magical, and the granola is nice and brown. Should take around 40 minutes.

It keeps in an airtight container for up to a few months, but is unlikely to stick around that long. It tastes best when warm out of the oven, though.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whistle while you work

Four of us went up to Whistler this past weekend to relax, cook extravagantly, dance our hearts out, thrift shop, walk around a frozen lake, and remember why it is that our license plates read 'Beautiful British Columbia. I came home feeling refreshed and inspired.

Excited to be back at the sewing machine, I made my first pair of jeans! Ever! My first pair of pants, really, unless you count ones with elastic waistbands made from repurposed Sesame Street bedsheets, which are the kind of pants that cannot really pretend to me approprate for things that do not involve a bed, or tv watching, or chocolate chip cookie baking, etc. etc.

The pant options in my closet these days seem to be limited to skinnies, so I'm excited to have a pair with a different fit- they have sort of a slouchy, relaxed fit, but more girly and tailored (pleats!) than the now ubiquitous 'boyfriend' fit. They look really cute cuffed to show just a bit of ankle.
I haven't made up my mind about what kind of button to use.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Ode to Pendleton

For the past month or so, a friend and I have been discussing our plans to redo the interior of her Subaru in a Pendleton inspired theme. The textures, colors and prints of their beautiful blankets and sturdy bags are so inspiring - if their goods weren't so pricey I would love to re-upholster everything I own -furniture and otherwise- with their woolly glory. I can only imagine the road trips which would be had in a Pendleton-esque blue Legacy...

Given my love for all things Pendleton, I was more than a little thrilled when I stumbled upon an 'alternative outdoor store' in Portland, and found it contained a rainbow of Pendleton apparel (alongside a fine selection of leather belts, cowboy hats, beautifully crafted rubber boots, and an entire equestrian section! - I long to go on the outdoor adventure that requires one to be outfitted with such American wonders).

I came home with Pendleton in my thoughts, and thus on the tip of my googlefingers, the times being as they are. And so I web-stumbled upon the Pendleton x Opening Ceremony lookbook for Spring (which by the way seems to have already arrived in this here part of the world), at which point I let out a little yelp of appreciation.
I think they did a wonderful job combining the already wonderful classic prints with the ever-trendy plaids. Plus the sunglasses look just like a pair I lost last summer. Which, I dunno, makes me sad. But still. The clothes are great.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Lace Bloomers

Inspired by this beautiful black lace I found, I've been designing a few more pieces for around the house, or under your clothes. I'm also making a little top, and a romper/onesie from this same black lace.

I love how these little 'knickers' turned out. They are cheeky, feminine and quite saucy. But best of all, they are super comfortable.

The edges are all finished with a serger, the waistband is made out of a really soft jersey knit fabric, and the elastic around the legs creates a really flattering and girlie shape.

Check out my Etsy shop for more info!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 that the holidays are in the belly

After a week of indulging in my family's delicious and plentiful cooking in the Okanagan, then tasting as much of Portland as we possibly could in the three days we spent there, I came home full of that special combination of exhausted and inspired that makes a person quite ready to be back home and, you know, their own kitchen.

I sit now with my laptop rested on a belly full of steak, curried portobello mushrooms, brown rice, and a little too much raw cake batter as I: look through pictures from the holidays; wait half-patiently for this chocolate cake to bake, wondering how it will turn out due to the changes I made in the recipe (most of them relating to the pre-baking consumption of a good portion of the chocolate that was to go in the cake); daydreaming about Portland, that wonderful city, and what might come of the email address a young lass scribbled down for us after we got to chatting about an apartment exchange in the summer...

On this year past and border crossing

We build relationships with the people in our lives – friends, family, lovers – sort of in the same way we play a game of Jenga, only often backwards. If each block were to represent an individual we are in some way acquainted with, the people we are closer to are closer to the base. Closer to the heart, and more fundamental to our stability. Our foundation, really.

As we become closer to someone, understand them better, create a space for them closer to our hearts, their block is moved closer to the bottom. We become stronger, more whole.

Similarly, when you lose a friend or loved one, it’s like a block is pulled from it’s respective position, with the corresponding effects on our personal structure depending on the logical factors – their previous position, whether the shift was slow and careful or abrupt and aggressive, how stable the network was beforehand.

Last night I sat waiting, somewhere vaguely after midnight and before daylight, achieving minimal success in my personal battle to fight back tears. My boyfriend’s block – the block belonging to the lovely, and non-Canadian passport holding young man who had just taken me on a trip to a surprise destination (Portland!) – had been quit aggressively shaken by a man with a numbered badge and big words. Words that made me quite anxious indeed.

Luckily, they were words that, after much unpleasant waiting, the filing of intimidating reports, turned out to be unfounded. I guess some people are just fond of big words.

We were sent on our way. And I realized how close to my foundation this man who was two years ago not even part of my structure had become. I realized the instability – potential collapse – that would come were his block to be abruptly and tactlessly pulled from the position it had acquired. I thought about the people I love, and how hard it would be to lose any of them.

As we drove through my sleeping hometown I decided that in 2010 I would take more time to really love everyone, and everything, that I love. The people, the food, the places, the things like swimming and biking, baking, reading, gallery going... and so on. I want to make sure to take the time to appreciate and enjoy.

And so, from our trip a few hours south I learned that when life hands you lemons … you best quickly hurry to the Pearl Bakery and kindly ask – beg, if necessary, this is no time for dignity – for them to bake you a batch of their beautiful lemon tarts. They are peace-makingly delicious; flavored with the ability to at least soften (if not erase) any blow. If only I had brought with me a small bag of them for comfort in the waiting room

Here are some of my favorite moments from this year past.

1. Fly fishing at the Jaolin River, Queen Charlotte Islands
2. Admiring the Zebras at the fantastically East German Tierpark Zoo, with one of my favorite people ever.
3. Canoeing at a friends place in Friedrichshagen
4. Grabbing three pairs of Mr. Torgerson's incredibly retro
skis explore Mount Washington cross country
5. Becoming my boyfriend's regular hairdresser (he doesn't even cover his face anymore!)
6.Thanksgiving at a friend's farm on Vancouver Island
7. My favorite holiday!
8. Mauerpark flea market, a place I wish I could be much more often
9. Going to the lake (with this book, which I could not put down, and from which I made the chocolate cake within hours of reading of, and have made at least a half dozen times since)