Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In progress: Magazine Rack

K in the workshop

As I mentioned in a post before, we went to Maysville over the weekend so that K could get some woodworking lessons from his dad. The project he picked out to work on was a magazine rack. K's a practical guy, and let me tell you, we have a LOT of magazines cluttering up our house. Our insane magazine collection stems from my inability to throw things away. Yes, I know, magazines can easily be recycled, but there are lots of magazines (like The New Yorker) with essays and articles that I'd like to reread, and even more magazines that would make excellent craft fodder. So, K wanted to make something to catch all of these periodicals.

He's still got to sand and varnish this piece, but I think it looks beautiful. He made it out of maple and is just going to put clear varnish on it because he likes the light color.

It folds up nice and neatly for easy storage and portability.

Excellent work and craftsmanship, K! I can't wait to see what he makes next.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's a jungle out there

A little garden update:

Unruly garden

Teeny tiny watermelon


Whoa, Black Krim tomatoes

Abraham Lincoln tomatoes

Things are wild and plentiful. July should be positively filled with ripe tomatoes.

I have no experience with watermelon, so I don't know how many we'll get. As you can see in the top photo, they've managed to escape the garden.


Driving, near Lexington, Kentucky

Bourbon Drive-In, Paris, Kentucky

This past weekend we headed off to K's hometown, Maysville, Kentucky. We went to visit his parents so that K could get some woodworking lessons. K's dad is a proficient woodworker (as in, he's made just about everything wooden in their house--cabinets, deck, beds, stair rails, entertainment centers, shelves, and more). K's really lucky to have him as a teacher.

While K and his dad spent the weekend in the woodshop, his mom and I hit up the antiques districts--downtown and Old Washington. I've been enamored with downtown Maysville since I first visited when I was still in high school, and Old Washington boasts a road full of antique shops. It's very cute and old-fashioned.

Here are some of my favorite shots of the day, all of downtown:

Row houses on Market Street

Washington Opera House

Pretty building


Lace window at the Moon River Bed & Breakfast

Yellow and blue details

Maysville Recreation Center


I was thrilled to discover some amazing watercolors at the Market Street Bookstore, which were painted by Barb Clarke of Maysville. She does gorgeous still lifes of flowers and wonderful scenes from around town. My favorite is the one she did of the row houses on Market Street (the photo I took of the same houses is above). Check out Barb's website for more information or if you happen to be in Maysville, stop by the bookstore to purchase an original or a print of her work.

We also stopped by the farmers' market. There were only 2 farms still selling, as it was late in the day, but they had plenty for us to buy. K's mom bought tons of vegetables, which we ate for dinner Saturday night. We had green beans, cabbage, green tomatoes, yellow squash, green onions, cucumbers, candy onions, and broccoli. Such a great dinner! (Thanks, Phyllis!) I bought some flowers and a jar of strawberry jam from an Amish farmer at the market. I can't wait to try the jam!

I hope you had a delightful weekend and be sure to enjoy the week ahead. The weather has cooled off a bit here, so I'm excited.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In Progress: Thank you notes and envelopes

Just a quick note to say the thank you notes are coming along, folks.

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Stamps are from Hobby Lobby--on sale. Score!

Fonts are from, a great place for free fonts. I'm using traveling typewriter, trocadero, and home sweet home. Eclectic, I know.

Envelopes are made from the Free People catalog. This is one of the prettiest catalogs I've ever seen. I hoard them and use them in my craft projects.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping My Cool

The Kentucky summer keeps trying to beat me. It brings the 90 degree weather and the super-humidity and thinks it will knock me down. The summer seems to know how to withhold its breezes, how to storm early in the morning and stop, so that by midday the ground is steaming. However, I've got some tricks up my sleeve (though I'm definitely not wearing any sleeves), and I'm determined to stay cool no matter what summer throws at me.

K and I are on year three of no air conditioning. The first two years we lived in Japan and now we're dealing with this summer in Kentucky business. We lived in Yamagata, Japan, where the weather is surprisingly similar to the Ohio River Valley. It's hot and muggy, though I think Kentucky is ever-so-slightly more humid. It was in Yamagata that we first started taking ice cold showers and freezing wet washcloths to use as ice packs. We each had our own fan and didn't often move from in front of them.

I've learned some new strategies this summer for keeping cool. My favorite drink for staying hydrated is ice water, but it becomes a special treat when you add some herbs. I just put a few leaves of fresh mint or lemon balm in the bottom of a glass, add a few ice cubes, and give it a good shake. I love how the glass gets all frosty and the scent of herbs wafts through the air. I fill the glass with water and drink for instant refreshment. Throughout the day, I just add more ice and water. The mint or lemon taste stays pretty strong.

Another way I've been surviving the heat is by eating cool, cool foods. Cold, glistening plums, for example. Not only are they sweet and chilled, they're also pretty. I love the dusty dark purple skin and the golden orange flesh. It's a great mid-afternoon treat.

I've also been making ice cream and sorbets as fast as I can. This sunshine yellow pineapple sorbet definitely cooled me down. It's another simple sorbet recipe. It's actually just pineapple, sugar, and water. What a perfect summer recipe!
The recipe comes from The Perfect Scoop. Here's my brief synopsis: Blend together 1 pineapple (peeled and cut into small pieces), 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water.* Chill this mixture in the fridge for about an hour, then put it in your ice cream maker. Done!

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*This is actually the doubled version of the recipe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


We didn't spend much time at the farmers market yesterday. It was swelteringly hot, so that moving seemed like a punishment. We did get some good vegetables, so it's not so bad. We got 2 small heads of lettuce, kale, garlic, onions, baby squash, purple haze carrots, and regular carrots. As always, our CSA is through Finger Picking Farms.

K and I already used our baby squash. We sauteed it and added it to our skillet nachos last night. We'd never made nachos before, but they turned out to be easy and delicious. I love it when that happens.

My mom is coming for dinner on Thursday, so we've planned to make a big salad with that there lettuce, roast the carrots on the grill, and cook out burgers--veggie burger for me and burgers made with local beef from Misty Meadows farm for K and Mom. I'd also like to roast some potatoes and local onions on the grill with some thyme from my garden.

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Garden update: The garden flourishes! I think it has to do with our current jungle-like climate. All of the tomato plants look wonderful. The Amish paste has always been in the lead, so it has the biggest tomatoes (a little bigger than a golf ball). I have seen some little tomatoes on the Black Krim, which I am so excited to see ripen. They're supposed to be a maroonish color.

We've harvested a couple of green peppers, the jalapenos should be ready to pick in a few days, and the watermelon plant is blossoming. I can't believe how big that watermelon plant has gotten. Luckily, I left it a full third of the garden, plus it can grow outside the lines. I don't care. I just want to eat some fresh, ripe watermelon.

The herbs look great! The thyme, mint, and lemon balm are doing the best. We've also got a couple of basil plants going strong. I keep meaning to make tea some morning from the mint, lemon balm, and anise hyssop, but I always forget. I'll make it soon, I hope.

I hope you're having a wonderful, fruitful week!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Living Room

KARLSTAD Sofa cover POÄNG Chair cushion

ALÄNG Table lamp
The pillow is not actually bigger than our couch

3 hours of driving (round-trip)
+ 3 hours at ikea
+ 3 hours of hot, sweaty putting-things-together work
our new living room

Lots of black, white, and gray for now because I want this stuff to last us a while, and this way we can reinvent it with pops of color.

In addition to the new furniture, we also stream-lined our living room. We got rid of some space hogs, like the sawhorses that were serving as a computer desk, and did quite a bit of rearranging. The results are so wonderful. We have a lot more space to move about and laze around.

I'd like to get some art on the walls. Right now we have lots of maps up, which I love, but there is still a lot of blank wall space. When I say "blank," I mean covered in busy vintage wallpaper. Since we're renters and not planning to take down this wallpaper, I like to treat it as a neutral. Those blue and yellow flowers go with everything, I tell you.

K and I both have some plans for making our little living room a place to call home. I'm planning to make some throw pillows with the doilies from our wedding, and some curtains would be nice, too. K is getting some woodworking lessons from his dad and plans to make a magazine rack and coffee table. I'm so glad we're making this space our own. We had only planned to live here for a few months, but now we're going to be here for another year, so we're making it as comfortable as we can.

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All the pictures are from Ikea's website except the pillow. I couldn't find it on Ikea's site but I did find it at

Friday, June 19, 2009

Strawberry Season is Almost Over

So, hurry up and make these strawberry recipes! Of course, you can still make them later with frozen strawberries, but fresh taste so much better.

We've been trying to get our fill of berries while they're in season here in Kentucky, which means that we have been eating strawberries all the time. To stave off boredom,* we made strawberry frozen yogurt, again from The Perfect Scoop.** We had half a quart of strawberries, so I only made half of the recipe. It was a really unfussy recipe, similar to the strawberry ice cream we made before. However, since there's only a small amount of yogurt added to the strawberries, the end result tasted like strawberry sorbet. The flavor was pretty intense, like eating sweet frozen berries. This frozen yogurt was super-refreshing and perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.

David Lebovitz himself posted this strawberry frozen yogurt recipe on his blog. Check it out.

Speaking of David Lebovitz, I just finished reading his new book The Sweet Life in Paris. He writes about his experiences living in Paris. His writing is so witty and his observations about Parisians are incredibly funny. Every time I finished a chapter, I couldn't help thinking, "That David Lebovitz, he's so clever."

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Another way we've been using up strawberries is by making strawberry muffins. These make for a tasty breakfast or a sweet accompaniment for a cup of tea. The fresh strawberries baked into little pockets of jam, adding a bit of sweetness to the cinnamony cake. I happen to love cinnamon, so I would add even more next time. If you don't like cinnamon, you can leave it out, but I'd add something else in for flavor instead. I think some lemon zest or extra vanilla would both work well. Oh, I've also been thinking that pecans, strawberries, and cinnamon would make a great little trio, so I'd like to throw some nuts into the next batch of muffins I make.

I searched for a recipe and came up with this one, which is easy and quick enough to throw together on a hot afternoon when the last place you want to be is in the kitchen. I did make some modifications to incorporate ingredients I already had, plus I used some suggestions from people who had reviewed the recipe.

Strawberry Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

adapted from Katie Mae's recipe on

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk (we're out of regular milk)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups flour
1 pint strawberries, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Beat the oil, buttermilk, vanilla and egg in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, white and brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the strawberries and toss to coat. Pour in the liquid mixture and stir until combined.

3. Fill lined or greased muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops bounce back when touched. Cool on a wire rack.

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*I know, I can't really complain about having too many fresh, ripe strawberries around.

**My sweet sister got this book for K and me as a wedding gift. Despite our proclamations of, "No gifts!" this is really perfect. We've got a long summer of ice cream-making ahead of us. Thanks, Julie!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flowers and Front Porches

Wanna go for a walk with me? We'll mosey down some side streets, smell those magnolias in bloom, and find out what's happening in the neighborhood. Sound good? Well, first things first. You've got to forget all you know about Kentucky in the summer. It's definitely not 90 degrees out, and there is absolutely no humidity. Let's pretend it's cool and breezy, with enough sun peeking through the clouds to create that gorgeous dappled light that makes everything so lovely. Ready to get going?

Oh look, some purple hydrangeas peering through the leaves. They look a little bashful.

I spy a tiger lily. It reminds me of that song from Peter Pan.

What a lovely porch! The yellow chairs are just delightful, and I'd give almost anything to be sitting in that swing with a tall glass of iced tea right now. Maybe we should make friends with the owners of this house.

But wait! This house has comfy pillows on their swing. Those would be nice for some outdoor reading. And those ferns are gorgeous.

Look up. Who's that in the window? Why, I think it's Stephen Colbert. How strange. Maybe he'll let us hang out on his front porch. Just tell him you hate bears and love Bill O'Reilly. That should do the trick. We'll be sipping tea in a porch swing in no time.

This porch is for bird lovers.

I think this house is the one. The one whose owners we should befriend. They've got a swing and 5 rocking chairs. It looks like the perfect way to while away an afternoon.

Ah! Looky-here. More hydrangeas looking ever so cool and inviting.
We're almost home now.

Take one last look at the flowers. The bees sure do like these. By the way, do you know what kind of flowers these are? They're so pretty. They look like black-eyed susans to me, except that they're pink with coppery centers. *

I hope you enjoyed our walk. Let's go on another one soon!

*Edited to add: I think they're purple coneflowers. I was flipping through an herb book today and came across a picture that looks quite like these flowers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It was a small harvest this week because we're in between spring and summer crops. However, our fridge is currently stuffed full of leftover wedding food, so if we're going to get a small CSA box, this is the week for it. I could use some farm-fresh goodness after all of the potato salad and cheese that I've been wolfing down.
So, this week we got: 2 heads of lettuce (one is oak leaf lettuce & I don't know about the other), a bunch of carrots, onions, and garlic scapes. Rinse those babies off and we've got a salad.
I hope you're having a good week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sandwich Bread + Cross stitch

First of all, let me just say, that these projects were from a couple of weeks ago. I wish I could say I've been creative this week, but there hasn't been much time. Let's be real about this, I haven't had much energy for it, either. Putting on a wedding takes a lot out of you. So, instead of creative pursuits, this week has been dedicated to taking care of business (changing health insurance, registering for classes) and cleaning up the aftermath of the wedding. There's been a lot of laundry and dishes, making of thank you cards and envelopes, and general tidying up. Hopefully by the end of the week our house will be back to it's pre-wedding shape.

Now about this bread! It's the light wheat bread from Smitten Kitchen, originally from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Now, I've heard talk around the internet about how some people are afraid of making yeasted breads--too many opportunities for something to go wrong or some such nonsense. I say, charge ahead, leave your fears behind, and bake this bread already. It's delicious and holds together perfectly for sandwiches. We slice it and keep it in the freezer, per Deb of Smitten Kitchen's recommendation. That way we always have fresh homemade bread on hand.

All you need (you know, besides the ingredients) is a little time and a warm spot in your kitchen. The actual amount of time you'll spend working on this bread is very small, a matter of a few minutes here and there and then hours of rest time during which you can clean, go for a walk, or make a craft.* As for a warm spot in the kitchen, Kentucky in the summer is a wonderful place for making bread. All of the humidity here makes for some excellent, super-fast rising loaves of bread. You can find the recipe here.

As for the napkin, I was inspired by Heart of Light's embroidered "Eat" napkins. I wanted to make something pretty and also useful, plus I'm interested in reducing my garbage output. Cutting down on paper towel use seems like a good idea. K and I don't generally use too many paper towels, but when we have people over for a meal, I feel like I should put something out for them to wipe their hands on. So, cloth napkins make perfect sense. I picked up four of these navy blue ones for 25 cents total at a yard sale. What a deal! Also, my mom made a lot of colorful cloth napkins for the wedding, so we've got those now, too.

I really like the how the cross stitch turned out. Kind of folksy and old-fashioned. I'm planning on cross stitching the other three blue napkins with similar (but different) corner patterns in various colors. I can't wait until we have people over to use them!

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*These are just my go-to options. I'm sure you can come up with your own ideas to occupy a few hours.

Cross stitch pattern from here.

Monday, June 15, 2009


And loving it.

Thanks to our families! We couldn't have gotten married without all of you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Let's Get Wed

Today is the day.


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