March 29, 2009

Shim away, my man

While I've been reading, beading and generally wasting time with clay, Mike has been working on framing the half-wall/railing upstairs. He's encountered a few setbacks with the railing, as the hole for the stairs was not cut so that it aligned with the windows - he's not looking forward to the amount of "shimming" that awaits him.

March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Last night we rung in a new year for Rebecca at the Noble Rot. After spending the previous weekend attempting to make a necklace for a present, only to find that it was in fact quite ugly, I then turned my attention to clay vegetable magnets - cuz who couldn't use a magnet or two.

Here's to a great year Rebecca!

March 26, 2009

No time for projects - unless reading counts?

Well, it's been a slow week for projects, because it's been a busy week for everything else. In addition to being slammed at work, hitting the gym, eating, sleeping, etc., I also got two really good books from the library that just needed to be read. I've added them to my recommended reading list on the sidebar - well worth checking out!

March 19, 2009

A Beaded Forest

A little more from my crafting weekend...

... expanding on the bamboo coral tree pendant with some other coral and rock chips. These are still works in progress, as I purchased a few more beads to add to these and will post photos soon of how they're progressing.

March 17, 2009

Crafting Bee

On Saturday Susanna and I spent 7 hours at a crafting "bee", organized by a co-worker of hers. While most were working on scrapbooking, I brought up materials for beading and sewing pincushions, while Susanna worked on creating art pieces for Aidan's room.

Even though I don't have kids, it was none-the-less an amazing luxury to spend the day solely working on craft projects. We took a break for food, and to hit the art store for more supplies.

We finished off the day by making art books with Aidan and Vanessa. Vanessa filled the first couple pages with poems within minutes.

March 9, 2009

a tiny dinosaur roar!

I had some fun pulling together a few quick magnets last week for my friend Jessica, who does have a little "thing" for dinosaurs. Using a fairly recent purchase from Amazon, MAGCRAFT® Magnets (1/8" x 1/16" Rare Earth Disc: they're tiny and strong, and I'm a little bit in love with their possibility) along with some tiny figures from Michaels (actually they're those "grow" things - put them in a glass of water, wait three days, and voila, a larger slimy dinosaur). I also bought some small rubber alligators from the toy store, that are currently climbing up my lamp at work. Pair the magnets together with the figurines using a little super glue - and there you go, project done.

March 4, 2009

Bamboo Coral Tree

The other day I came across a link to a tutorial on the Bead Studio website for a tree pendant. Needing a new little project, one that could be completed between dinner and bedtime, I gathered my tools and got to it. Here it is, with a few variations: in place of rock chips I went with bamboo coral, and in place of a 4" circle, mine is actually 6" (found a 3-pack at Michael's, made by Fresh™).

March 3, 2009

Pork Night

On Sunday night neither Mike nor I could decide on one dish to make for dinner, so we decided on two: Chipotle Pork Quesadillas and Samurai Soup; both from Everyday With Rachael Ray. It was quite interesting to balance making the two dishes simultaneously, with all four burners going along with the oven. I look forward to the day when we remodel the kitchen so that there's room for two cooks.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Chipotle Pork Quesadillas, but feel that the Samurai Soup may need another go before I can say that it's "good". I think that the dumplings got a bit soggy while I was working on the pork chops, so perhaps it would have turned out better if I had not waited so long between making them and boiling them.

Chipotle Pork Quesadillas

2 boneless pork chops (about 3/4 pound)
Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
8 medium flour tortillas
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned, 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool; cut into thin strips.

2) In the same skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, the garlic, chipotle and cumin, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes; stir in the pork and chopped cilantro.

3) Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush one side of each tortilla with the remaining olive oil. Working in batches, cook the tortillas oiled side down until grill marks form, 1 to 2 minutes.

4) Arrange 4 tortillas grilled side down on a baking sheet. Divided the pork mixture among the tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas, grilled side up. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and top with the cilantro leaves.

Samurai Soup

1/2 pound baby bok choy, halved lengthwise and crosswise, white and green portions separated
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
40 round wonton wrappers
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

1) In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the white bok choy portions for 1 minute; add green portions and cook until wilted. Drain, rinse with cold water and squeeze dry; finely chop and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in pork, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the oyster sauce, ginger, honey and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

2) Arrange 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface and top each with a rounded teaspoon of the pork mixture. Moisten the edges and fold over to form half-moons; press the edges to seal. Working with 1 at a time, bring the tips together and pinch to form 10 bundles; repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

3) In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth, 1 cup water and the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce to a boil. Cover; remove from heat.

4) In a large pot of boiling water, cook the dumplings, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowls. Add the snow peas to the broth, cook for 1 minute, then ladle over the dumplings. Drizzzle with a few drops of sesame oil.

March 2, 2009

Beer, beer and more beer

Following up to my recent Guest Blogger's post (my Pops): We did get an amazing tour of the Widmer Brewery on Saturday morning, covering the entire brewing process by our friend and neighbor, Alan, a brewer for Widmer (we're very lucky that he pulled weekend duty). We followed it up with the full beer taster over at the Gasthaus Pub. It was a great morning, which we followed by an evening at Yetti's, tasting Hopwork's Velvet ESB, Laurelwood's Arctic Apocolypse Black IPA and Beer Valley's Pigskin Pale.

March 1, 2009

Otis the Owl: stuffed

Otis got stuffed and stitched yesterday, and happily joined the other birds on the bird tree. I ended up using beads for pupils, as I didn't have buttons, but with a little superglue, they turned out fine!

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