Monday, September 22, 2014


natal plum :: gulls at corona del mar :: sunset over balboa :: going, gone :: fashion island :: 
lookout point :: cormorants and pelicans :: little corona del mar :: stoic :: heading out

ACM-BCB Conference - Julian gives his talk today and we leave tomorrow. Our feet are blistered and weary from all the walking but we've had a wonderful time so far.

Friday, September 19, 2014

building houses

House #1
I learned a lot about this project in my first week. For starters, the scrappy look is all well and good but I am more pleased with the result if a wee bit of care is taken making the selections.  I liked how, on day one, everything fabric-wise went together so easily. On day two, I grabbed scraps at random and went at it again, with less pleasing results.

Lessons learned:
House #2
1. Bold prints are best kept for the walls of the house and the sky, or the roof OR the sky, but not both roof AND sky.
2. If you decide that the door and the window should be made of the same fabric to indicate that the door is open, you can't also make the roof and the window the same without thereby indicating that the roof is open. (I'm telling myself that day one's house has a cathedral ceiling with another big window.)
3. The chimneys are sweet and little and must have some distinction from the rest or they are just blah.

I have also, in the wake of my scrap-happy-ness, laid a few ground rules.

House #3
1. On Sundays, when I make my block, the door and the fabric will be the same, indicating that the door is open. We almost always have friends over (or go over to their house) and it is a sweet memento for me.
2. Roofs (did you know that "rooves" is proper but "outdated"?) will be brown or red, unless there is snow on the ground in which case they may be white.
3. Care must be taken with white and it should probably be used only for snowy roofs or lit windows.
4. Skies should be blue, gray, or black if indicating night.

House #4
House 1: I was thrilled with how this house came out. I woke up thinking about the project and made myself do a few house chores before starting - great motivation for work! It was a Saturday, we stayed in and watched football (bad football day) and Julian did work.

House 2: Woke up at 7am thinking about my little house. I struggled with this one because the block is so small that I am tempted to make tiny seams or else there is a tremendous amount of fabric on the back, but then my seams come undone - I had to redo the front by the door. Made up rules listed above. Julian went to coaching clinic and I prepared for company. First apple pie of fall made today.

House #5
House 3: I confess. Our friends didn't come over on Sunday so, after I baked the pie, I made another little house while I listened to my audio book. No friends = closed door. The roof is very challenging and even when I know what the mistake is, I still make it. Twice... thrice. For the second day in a row, sundown has come too early for me to manage dinner and have a bike ride, so this house has a dark sky.

House 4: Monday's house. A great many things had to be done before I could sit down and make my daily house. It was shopping day. Julian spent the afternoon "at the office". It is better for him to work in his own separate space in the house lest I bug him constantly.

House 5: I pulled out a different bin of scraps and got a very different house. I suppose it will go quite nicely when there are 300 houses that are all different. I am struggling with letting it be scrappy and spending too much time trying to pick out coordinating fabrics. As much as I try, I cannot keep myself from tidying it all up in my brain. I am looking at sashing options and maybe the sashing will help bring it all together. This was also the first day I used a solid (roof) - jury's still out on that one. Morning rain kept me from
House #6
doing some gardening with EM (and the sun came out as soon as we cancelled) so we have a rainy sky in this block.

House 6: Today is a beautiful day. We've had a cool front these past few days - or maybe it's just fall coming on strong  - I don't quite trust that it is here to stay. Can you tell how much I love this little yellow floral print? I bought it recently, paired with completely different fabrics, but it is at home here with the oldies.  I have learned that if I don't try to short cut things, the roof minds its manners. Perfection still evades me but I have to keep telling myself the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In the kitchen

down home meal :: chocolate kringle :: first farm apples :: crumb top :: mayo :: bear claw

I sat down to type this thinking that it had been an uneventful week in the kitchen. Looking back at the photos, it wasn't nearly as boring as I thought. Last Thursday, I felt guilt for sending Julian off with a skimpy lunch (I'd forgotten we had no sandwich bread) so I over compensated by fixing a wonderful down-home dinner. The okra was from our garden, everything was delicious. Then, knowing we were traveling this weekend, I made two roasts, a pork loin and a beef chuck roast, and we've eaten off them bit by bit throughout the week to keep things simple. 

The culinary adventures of the week were on the periphery of our meals: my first homemade mayonnaise, the first apple pie of the season, a failed attempt at a chocolate kringel, and bear claws. Did you know bear claws were filled with almond paste? I didn't, but now I do!

Bear Claws
Makes 8

One box of frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cool
1/2 c. almond flour/meal (Bob's Red Mill is good and easy to find)
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
One large egg, separated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter, soft

Sliced almonds
Confectioners sugar
About 1 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine almond flour, egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and whiz until a paste forms (you can just mix it really well if you don't have a processor). Cut each sheet of puff pastry in even quarters. Blob a spoonful of the almond mixture in the center of each of the squares, making each of the eight squares gets an even amount. Fold each piece in half long ways, making sure to seal the edges well by pinching them closed with your fingers. Cut the "claws" (use a pizza cutter if you have one) and then pull the corners back to give it a little curve and open the claws. Combine egg yolk with a Tbsp of water and brush across the top of each pastry, making sure to avoid any cut edge. (It will glue your puff pastry closed and it won't puff if you let it go to the edge.) Sprinkle each one with a few sliced almonds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and buttery. Remove from the oven and whisk about 1/4 confectioners sugar together with 1 Tbsp. milk. Drizzle glaze over top and eat, eat, eat.

Next week, we're going to talk more about PIE. Apple pie. I hope you'll join me for it!

What's happening in your kitchen? Show and tell with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.

PS Here is a sign of the times - it is still summer so the hummers are still here but it has gotten very cool. Earlier this week, our chickadees showed up and the hummingbird feeder and were very confused why they couldn't get it to work! So, we are now in the in-between with both feeders up on the kitchen window.