Sunday, February 19, 2012

Take it or Weave it

Big news! I have become a weaver.  And very high-tech weaver at that. 

My thread, cut up t-shirts.

My loom, a hula hoop.

My finished product, a rug!

You too can become a weaver.  I got the instructions from this website.  (Shhh!  Don't tell anyone it's on the "Easy Crafts for Kids" section.) 

Now I'm not totally thrilled with it.  First of all, rainbow colors are not really my style and don't match the rest of my house.  And I feel like it could be a bit bigger.  But the process was so easy and thrifty that I might've become hooked.  I have been wanting to cover this broken heat vent in my mini-hallway for a long time, but the size of this area is a bit awkward for both runners and 5x7 rugs. 

So I'm thinking I could make a rectangular loom out of balsa wood from Michael's, use the same technique, but end up with an oval rug.  Why is it that any new project always leads to more ideas?  Ahh, the blessings and curses of a craftster...

Here are more photos of the rug in progress:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

R is for ... rutabaga?

Why does the lowly rutabaga not get any love? They are always hidden beneath the parsnips, below the broccolini, or behind the beets at the supermarket. Luckily, I speak rutabaga, so I can hear them beckoning me at Kroger.

A thing of beauty
Did you know that the rutabaga was born out of a chance hybridization of cabbage and turnips?

Did you also know that it is pretty healthy? Here's the lowdown:

If that doesn't do it for you, look where it ranks on this chart! Add in the tastiness and thriftiness factors, and there is no reason why the rutabaga should not be in a place of honor at the supermarket. 

My favorite way to eat rutabaga is via the oven fry method. They are sweet, salty, and fibrous.  Here's how I make them:

1. Peel and slice the rutabaga into long strips. Use your big boy knife.

2. Put the fries into a plastic bag. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and seasonings. I normally just use grill seasoning, about a tablespoon. I was out of that, so I used salt, pepper, and Penzey's Forward! spice mix. (It has paprika, turmeric, garlic, and onion.) Shake well to get everything coated. 

3. Spread out the fries on a baking sheet, and bake at 375 for about 18-20 minutes. Depending on how small you cut your fries, I would check on them at 15 minutes. When they are nearly finished, I turn on the broiler, and cook them for 2-3 more minutes just to get them crispy and brown.

4. Serve with a side of ketchup. Yum!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines 2.0

On a previous post, I discussed my family's tradition of making each other Valentine's Day cards every year.  I guess writing that blog post got me in the spirit because I was super excited this year.  But then again, it is my favorite part about Valentine's Day.  Watching my students carry around copious amount of commercialized crap definitely isn't.  DIY is the only way to my heart.  You can see more Valentines on my mom's blog here

Here are the cards I made:

For my dad:

And for my mom:

For Laurel:

See the smarties hanging out the edges of the pants? Completely adorable, right?

I obviously had a knitting theme going. I hope this marks the start of me getting back into knitting. I have my eye on an infinity scarf pattern. 

Here are the cards I received:

From my mom:

I love how she was able to give the heart personality with only one eye and a smile. So artistic!

From my dad:
Love the Tom Clayton original photography. 

And from Laurel: 
A Valentine's guitar! With message on the back: You ROCK my world. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Go Big Bleu!

Tonight the Kentucky Wildcats face up against Vanderbilt. To commemorate this big game, I decided to make a salad featuring one of my favorite cheeses, bleu cheese. What can I say? I bleed both blue and bleu. Like its basketball counterpart, bleu cheese is robust enough to pair up against other strong flavors, yet versatile enough to work well in a variety of environments, including this salad. 

Salad ingredients:

mixed salad greens with herbs
cherry tomatoes, quartered
cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
shredded beets

candied walnuts (Easiest recipe ever: Put 2 parts walnuts to 1 part sugar in a skillet on medium, cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar melts and coats the nuts. Cool and break apart.)
bleu cheese crumbles

Honey Mustard Dressing: (Note: Never buy honey mustard dressing again. It is delightfully easy to make and much better than anything store-bought. And on that note, let's be honest; you really don't ever need to buy another salad dressing again. Look for a future post with some simple and delicious dressing recipes.)

1 T spicy mustard (I use Gulden's.)
1 T honey
1 t rice vinegar
1/2 T olive oil

Mix well, and you're done!

Salad Assembly: 
Toss all the veggies, nuts, and cheese with the dressing. Then top with an extra topping of bleu cheese and walnuts and one last drizzle of honey mustard.

Now that I've gotten dinner out of the way, I'm ready to brow down!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Perfect Saturday Morning

I think everyone has his or her own idea of a perfect Saturday morning. Mine just happens to be quite specific. Here are some details:

I. Food

    1.  Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk pancakes

        This is the best pancake recipe I've tried.  They are the perfect combination of tang and 
        sweetness, and the perfect texture, crunchy greasy on the edges and pillowy in the 
        middle, and  And you can never go wrong with Cook's Illustrated. I never have     
        buttermilk on hand, so I just substitute one tablespoon of vinegar and a cup of whole 

        I much prefer to top my pancakes with jam instead of syrup.  I guess it's the German 
        in me.  Try it.  You might have some German in you, too. 

    2. Eggs
        These can be scrambled with sour cream or cooked over medium.
 On this particular 
        morning, I had some leftover ham that I threw into the scrambled eggs, along with a 
        tablespoon of shredded cheese and the prerequisite sour cream.

    3. Meat
        Bacon, sausage patties, and ham are all acceptable and welcome options.

II. Beverage

Coffee, from the Keurig. Two cups. Black.

III. Activities

    1. Pre-breakfast run
    2. Wall Street Journal Crossword Puzzle (Go here. Print out. Admire the cleverness of    
    3. Season permitting, a trip to the farmer's market, timing it to coincide with the 
        broadcast of my favorite radio show

Lack of time and my desire to eat reasonably limit the number of perfect Saturdays for me, but perhaps that's what makes them so special. 

Thought to ponder: What does your perfect Saturday morning look like? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Forced Family Crafting

Growing up, we had a saying in my family called FFO, short for Forced Family Outing. As in, "Do I seriously have to get my picture taken with Santa inside a giant snow globe, swirling with fake snow?" Or, "Does kayaking in alligator-infested waters really build character? Because I'd rather not." The answer to such questions was always indubitably, "Yes, this is an FFO. Just jam your paddle into the alligator's eyeball."

The way we celebrated (and still celebrate) Valentine's Day is akin to this. For as long as I can remember, we have been required to hand-craft Valentine's Day cards for each other. But unlike kayaking with alligators, this is something that I always look forward to.

Valentine's Day gifts can be so hackneyed.  And Valentine's Day in general can be downright abominable (at least the way I am forced to witness it every year - at a high school).  But this is a great way to recognize the day without all the mushiness.  If you're looking for a a new tradition for your sweetheart or family, I definitely recommend this one.

We each have our own style.

I can always count on my dad for some word play. 

Think about it...

My mom is artsy. 

And my sister and I often rely on pop culture. 

 Anyone else recognize Harry from Spellbound???

I don't know if I'll be topping the photoshopped Bieb this year. But I'm getting started, and I'll post pictures after Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Obsession Confession: Fonts

I create a serious amount of documents at work, and 90% of them are for high school students, so they don't have to be formal business docs.  I want them to captivate the attention of high schoolers like a tweet from their junt.  So you can imagine how excited I was when our tech department lifted the ban on downloading fonts.  How do you say free-for-all in German?  Now whenever I create a new document, I get on my favorite font website, and I scroll through the pages looking for an interesting and relevant font to use.  

These are some of my recent favorites. 

I have also found several that mimic German handwriting, something that I never quite mastered. 

(Lemme me honest here.  I recognize that I'm probably the only one who notices these fonts, but it's cool.)

Any other font-philes out there?