Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Radish Me

Mom's foot posing with our vegetables

We picked up our CSA box on Tuesday, and it was bursting with leafy goodness. We got 4 different kinds of lettuce, red Russian kale, and bok choy, along with 2 quarts of strawberries, turnips, and scapes. I also bought some eggs from Misty Meadows Farm and some basil to plant.
Speaking of planting, I've got to get out today and do that. My little garden is growing (ha)! Yesterday Mom brought over some starts of herbs--oregano, dill, parsley, and chives. I've got to plant those, my basil, and some flowers. I love our garden!
We have 5 heirloom tomato plants that are doing well. I'm most excited about the Russian variety called "Black Krim." We replanted our watermelon after the birds gobbled up our first plant. Let's hope this one gets a chance to grow. I also planted okra to use for craft projects. We've got lots of herbs for tea and also some pepper plants. For years I've dreamed of staying in one place long enough to have my own garden. I'm so happy that it's finally happening!

Here's a radish-filled salad with tofu and cucumbers. K and I love to make spring roll salads, meaning we put all of the ingredients we'd put in a spring roll into the salad. That way we don't have to roll anything up. On top of this salad we put sesame rice noodles, bean sprouts sauteed with soy sauce and sugar, and of course, sweet chile sauce.

But how does K feel?

Look! It's my very first cross stitch. I'm really excited by how sweet this is.

Making this also got me completely addicted to cross stitching. Since I made this I've been working on 2 bookmarks and completed a cross stitch for my dad and one for myself. It's ridiculous how much I want to cross stitch.

I really like how old-fashioned cross stitch looks. It's very simple, but pleasant. I picked up a couple of books of patterns, so I'm well on my way to making more. I am surprised by how time-consuming this hobby is. I thought because the stitch was easy that I could just fly through a pattern in no time. In actuality, those little x's add up.

K likes my little cross stitch. We've got it in our kitchen, next to our washer and dryer (lovely set-up we've got!). Here it is in its natural habitat:

The print next to it is from The Black Apple. Such a cute tea party!

Strawberry Cupcakes and Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday was my dad's 54th birthday, and we had a lot to celebrate. He recently had a health scare, but is doing well now. I'm so happy to have him in my life. My dad is such a character. He's constantly cracking corny jokes and goofing around. As a teenager he once pranced around in a bikini of his own making--two bandaids and a jockstrap--in front of his sisters' dates.
For his birthday I planted some flowers and tomato plants in his backyard, made him a tooth cross stitch (he's a dentist), baked some fabulous strawberry cupcakes (if I do say so myself), and whipped up some vanilla ice cream.

The cupcakes recipe came from one of my favorite new cookbooks, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose. They are "Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes" and are described as "really pink." Now, I think these cupcakes might be very appropriate for a little girl's 5th birthday party or for a ladies' tea, but a for a middle-aged manly man (Dad hunts just about everything) it's a lot of pink. I told myself not to worry. Dad isn't too picky, plus it is strawberry season after all.

I only made half of the recipe because we were only having a few people over for Dad's birthday, and I didn't want gobs of extra cupcakes hanging around. Also, despite my best intentions of reading through the recipe the day before and running out to the grocery to pick up any items I needed, I actually woke up Sunday morning and just starting baking. What? I quickly realized I had no cake flour, buttermilk, almond extract, or orange zest. So I just substituted the heck out of the recipe and you know what? The cupcakes were delicious. The cake was soft, tasting of strawberries (of course) and lemon. The icing, though runny, was incredibly pink (from all of those ripe strawberries) and sweet. They were definitely a hit! Even my sister, who regularly proclaims her belief that fruit should be kept out of desserts, ate one.

We paired the cupcakes with vanilla ice cream that K and I made. It was very creamy, flecked with vanilla, and looked pretty next to those pink cupcakes. The recipe is Vanilla Ice Cream, Philadelphia-Style from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. It was super easy because Philadelphia-style has no eggs, it's just vanilla-flavored cream and sugar whipped up in an ice cream maker. I loved the taste of this ice cream and the simplicity of making it, so I definitely plan on making it again.

Happy Birthday Dad! I hope it was a good one!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strawberry Season

Loads of strawberries in the back of a truck, $12 a gallon

Mom, Tomoko, and me enjoying our giant strawberry shortcakes

Refreshing frozen strawberry drinks

On Saturday morning Mom, Tomoko,* and I drove to the Starlight Strawberry Festival in southern Indiana. Mom used to take my sister and me when we were young. I remember the highlight was always the "Make your Own Strawberry Shortcake" booth, where we loaded on as many strawberries and as much whipped cream as possible. Actually, that was a highlight again this year!
In addition to gorging on sweet little strawberries, we also meandered through a yard sale (I scored some yellow and pink vintage sheets and some cross stitch paraphernalia), looked at craft booths, saw the crowning of this year's Strawberry Festival Queen, cheered on a pie-eating contest, and gulped down some oh-so-cool strawberry drinks. It was a full, fun time.

*Tomoko is a Japanese student who is currently staying with my mom for a month. She was actually my student for the two years I taught in Japan.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bedtime stories

Bedtime reading makes me so happy and deliriously sleepy.
I also love using my little gingham cloth bookmark.

Friday, May 22, 2009

CSA Subscription

This is the first year that I have a CSA subscription. I've wanted one since I first heard about them a couple of years ago. It's a great way to support local farms and get really fresh vegetables. K and I are splitting a subscription with my mom, which is good because I don't think we could eat a whole box of vegetables by ourselves each week. We've got our subscription through Finger Picking Farms in Palmyra, Indiana. We'll pick up our box at the farmer's market each Tuesday. Last Tuesday was the first week of picking up.
We got a bag a mixed greens, two mini heads of lettuce, spinach, sorrel, white and red radishes, long red radishes, salad turnips, and strawberries. K and I made a simple salad of the mixed greens, sorrel, radishes, and turnips to go along with our homemade pizza for dinner on Tuesday. We enjoyed the strawberries as a sweet snack, and I spread some homemade bread with butter and covered it with sliced radishes and a sprinkling of sea salt for lunch on Wednesday. I think the spinach will be sauteed, piled on toast and topped with a fried egg for an easy weekend breakfast. I'm already excited about next week's box of farm goods.
Wednesday's lunch

one stitch pony

  Last weekend I went to a going away party for my cousin Amy. She's a surgeon (awesome to have in the family!) and will be moving to Minnesota for a year with her husband and adorable son for a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. She's super-cool and I'll miss having her around. Plus her son is the cutest kid I've ever seen, and I hate that he's going to do all of that growing up where I won't be able to see him.
 As a going away present, I wanted to give Amy a little reminder of Kentucky. You know, so she doesn't forget where she came from and so that she'll remember to come back after a year. I started out by tracing the state's outline from my handy-dandy wall map, cut it out in some scrap fabric, and sewed it on to a white and blue polka dot fabric. I can't get enough polka dots! I cut out a tiny pink heart to mark Louisville's location and embroidered the saying, "Home is where the heart is." I love the way it turned out--very cute. I also love that I can just write out the words I want to embroider, and when I sew over them it still looks like my handwriting. 
 Amy really liked the embroidery, and I loved making it. I think I'll be making lots more of this type of thing in the future.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

what did my hands do before crafting?

I'm pretty sure my hands must have been bored for years because once I started crafting all of this pent up creative energy burst out and shows no signs of stopping. Seriously, I got to the point where I couldn't sit down and read a book because my hands always wanted to be doing something. Holding a book and occasionally turning pages just wasn't enough.

So I took a jewelry making class and spent many nights bent over my beads, stringing necklaces and looping earwires. Then my mom taught me how to crochet, and I finally got it. I had tried to learn to crochet at least 3 times before and just could not figure it out. I was seriously opposed to counting, which it turns out is integral to the art of crochet. After my mom took the time to teach me, I crocheted at least seven scarves in no time, all in a modified single crochet (because I didn't know I was doing it just a little wrong!). After scarves I discovered blankets and baby hats.

 My crafting thirst still unquenched, I checked out lots of embroidery books from the library and am working on that. And I carried a big box of cross stitch stuff up from my mom's basement (a place not unlike Mary Poppins' bag). Jackpot! I made my first cross stitch the other day, which is turning out quite lovely!

In just a few short weeks I'll be getting hitched to my guy of over 6 years, K. We're over the moon about the being married part, but the wedding we're both just wanting to get over. The highlight of the wedding for me (apart from, you know, declaring my intention of spending my whole dang life with a great man) is the decorating. It's a low-key, diy, vintage-feel type of deal. There'll be lots of bunting, the ubiquitous (but always sweet) Martha Stewart Pom-poms, board games, punch cups, hula hoops and more. Here are the envelopes for the invitations we sent out. I made them from recycled catalogs:
Look how many!
  My goal for each day is to make something, whether it be crocheted, embroidered, cross stitched, painted, cooked, baked, etc. I hope to share many of these makings here.

let's begin

"The list of things that Barbara doesn't want to do is as long as your arm. Apparently she wants to do what she does--read, and go for walks, eat and drink with pleasure, tolerate some company."

from the story "Oranges and Apples" by Alice Munro


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