"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jimi's Salsa

When my friend Jimi made this salsa, she and Aurora and I stood in my kitchen and ate a not-insignificant sized bowl in about 10 minutes.


It's that good.

Luckily this salsa recipe is also quick and easy and makes a bunch to share (or save). You can easily halve it, but since we've been going through it pretty quickly, I made a big batch. Also, after a few days, any leftovers taste wonderful added to tortilla soup, or slathered over breakfast.

The Ingredients
2 big cans of diced tomatoes (If you can find it, I really suggest using Muir Glen; it is second only to homegrown tomatoes. If your grocery store doesn't carry this brand, you can ask them to order it for you.)
4 chopped jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed (this number depends on their spiciness. If they are super hot, only use 2 and then add a less hot pepper- even a half a bell pepper will work.)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
Half an onion, diced small
Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped small
One lime, juiced
Salt to taste


How To
Note- When I say 'blend' I mean either pulsing it in an upright blender or mixing it with an immersion blender. When I say 'stir' I mean with a spoon till it's mixed.
-Combine the tomatoes, the peppers and the garlic (in either the blender or a big bowl).
-Blend till it's fairly uniform and the peppers are in tiny pieces.
-Stir in the onion, cilantro and half the lime juice.
-Taste and add salt and more lime juice as needed.

-If you like your salsa chunkier, start with half a can of tomatoes and blend that with the peppers and garlic till they're in tiny pieces. Then add the rest of the tomatoes and pulse briefly.
-You may be tempted to blend up the onions and cilantro (especially if you don't really like them), but I wouldn't suggest it. Chopping them and stirring them in actually contains their flavor and keeps it from overpowering the entire thing.

Note- My brother called me on Sunday night and told me that I was totally accurate in describing the addictiveness and general wonderfulness of this recipe. He said he was *this* close to using a spoon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deconstructed Breakfast Burrito

We call them Potachos (short for Potato Nachos). Feel free to call them whatever you want. They won't mind.


I must admit that I invented this one tortilla chip-less morning as I was pondering the best way to get a fantastic batch of leftover salsa into my mouth by a means other than a spoon.

As it turned out to be really tasty (and easy) I thought I'd share the results with y'all. And I haven't yet verified it, but I feel sure that this would be perfect hangover food.

4 or 5 potatoes (cut into half inch square pieces)
Olive Oil (several glugs from the bottle)
1/8 t. Chipotle Chili Powder or any other chili powder (the stuff I used is there in the next picture- McCormick's)
Can of black beans (drained)
Eggs (3 or 4)
Shredded Cheese
Your favorite salsa (Jimi's salsa is our personal favorite.)

How To
-First mix the potatoes in a bowl with the oil, salt, pepper and chili powder. You want the potatoes to be all glisteny with the oil and well seasoned with the spices.
-Pour into a baking dish.


-Put in a 450 degree oven until the potatoes are well cooked and all brown and crispyish. It's a good idea to scrape the bottom once with a sturdy spatula.


-Remove from oven, and both carefully and quickly, break the eggs all over the potatoes, doing your best to keep the yolks intact, if you like runny eggs, which I do.


-Sprinkle the can of black beans over the eggs. (maintaining a heightened level of vigilance against the scorching hot sides of the pan.)


-Put back in the oven until the eggs are done to your liking.
-Remove from oven and sprinkle on the cheese. And the salsa.


Feel free to nacho these up to whatever level your arteries can handle.


Once I verify all the salsa ingredients with my good friend Jimi, I'll share the recipe here. (She did make it in my kitchen, so I should have been paying attention, but I hadn't yet tasted its awesomeness, so I had no idea I should have been video taping its creation.)



Related Posts
Jimi's Salsa

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tutorial- Handsewn Bookmark

Today I'm wrapping up the series of tutorials for the book gift set with a hand sewn and hand painted bookmark, which, conveniently doubles as a gift tag for the whole shebang.


As a recap. This gift set includes...
-Bookplate Stamp (with ink pad)
-Library Bag
-Handsewn Bookmark/Gift Tag
-and if you really wanna go above and beyond, tuck a gift card from your local bookstore into the library card pocket. But, really, that should probably be reserved for Grandparent-level spoiling.

Individually, any of these are pretty great gifts. But, put it all together and it's extra fun. And I have to say, there were adults who were jealous of the kids who received these. So don't limit it to just the little ones.


(One Note- I would only give the stamps to kids old enough to understand the difference between stamping in their own books and stamping in library books.)

OK, on to the tutorial.

Materials & Tools (Hopefully you'll have a lot of this already.)
-Watercolor Paper (This stuff is really thick and absolutely necessary for this project).
-Good quality pen (I used a Micron Pen)
-Matching Embroidery Floss
-Light Box (optional, but really helpful) I have a Light Tracer.
-Low Temperature Glue Gun
-Hole Punch

How To
-Cut out 2 pieces of watercolor paper, each 2 inches by 7 inches.
-On one of the pieces, using the pen, outline the words 'Happy Birthday' (or their name or 'Merry Christmas' or 'Good Night and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow'), along with whatever little design you want to embroider, leaving room to punch the hole.
(I did trace these on a light box.)
-Paint the inside of the words with watercolors. *
-As long as you have the paint out, you can go ahead and do the inside of the balloon at this point, though I did it after the embroidery. (Either way works fine.)
-On top of a thick piece of cardboard (or corkboard), use a pushpin to make holes along the length of the embroidery design. This part isn't completely necessary, but it does help create even stitches as well as make pulling the needle through the paper less aggravating.

-Using all 6 strands of embroidery floss, sew the design. (Stitch-It Kit has some very simple instructions for embroidering these stitches. I used the stem stitch.)
-Write the To: and From: info on the second piece of paper.
-Now using a low temp hot glue gun, attach the pieces of watercolor paper together, keeping the glue at least a quarter of an inch from the edges.
-Don't stress if a lot of the glue has cooled before you get it all stuck together.
-Cover the two pieces (top and bottom) in a thick piece of fabric. (Denim worked perfectly.)
-Iron the whole thing (using medium setting) for about 10 seconds. Check the bookmark and squoosh together with your fingers. The glue should gently heat up, allowing you to push the papers together firmly. If the glue hasn't softened enough, re-cover and iron again. Note- I would NOT try this with any paper other than thick watercolor paper. You will burn your fingers.
-Punch a hole and thread with floss.

You're done.


-The idea for embroidering bookmarks on paper came directly from Aimee Ray's book Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners. If you're interested, this book has some really cute patterns.
-For these, I would suggest making the embroidered design fairly simple, which will keep the time frame for this project manageable. This balloon took me less than 10 minutes to embroider. The entire thing took less than 30 minutes total.
- You can cut off the corners with a punch (or use scissors), but I didn't think it looked all that much better for the level of effort it required.
-*To get the gradient effect, I painted the whole thing a very light color, waited for it to dry, and then painted the bottom half a bit darker, let it dry again and then painted the very bottom the darkest shade. (1, 2, 3)


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Related Posts
Personalized Bookplate Stamp Tutorial
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Friday, March 20, 2009

This Lawn is Your Lawn*

Just after Barack Obama was elected president, I ran across a group called Kitchen Gardeners International. They had created a campaign called Eat The View that was petitioning the president elect to replace the front lawn of the white house with a kitchen garden.

(Here's a quick little cartoon explaining the history of growing food at the White House. Good lesson for the kiddos too.)

The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Of course I signed their petition and put myself on their (e)mailing list.

And just yesterday I received an email from KGI announcing that the Obamas will actually be putting in a garden.

I'm not even sure exactly why it is that this makes me so very happy.

But it does.

* The title was borrowed from another video at the Eat The View site.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Night Sky

Note-Even though this already happened, you can still check out the satellite tracker website and see what upcoming events will be visible to you. The ones labeled 'Very Bright' are going to be the best.

This is just a quick post to let you all know that if you look up in the sky this evening, you might be able to see both the International Space Station as well as the Space Shuttle Discovery as the crew of the Discovery goes about replacing some of the solar panels on the station.

According to the very cool website, spaceweather.com, "Just before the two spaceships joined, Quintus Oostendorp watched them fly side-by-side over his backyard in the Netherlands."

He was able to get this amazing picture.

How great is that?

The exact times it'll be visible in your area can be found if you enter your zip code in the satellite tracker at spaceweather.com. And from what I can tell, it'll be visible for just a couple of minutes.

In just a bit, we're headed out on the roof so Joey can use a compass and protractor to figure out in what direction and at what elevation everything will be visible tonight. Maybe we'll even practice in the bathroom to figure out how to keep the shutter open on our camera.

This comes right on the heels of our day at the science museum yesterday, where we learned why it is that if you head out into space without your suit, your blood will boil and your lungs will explode. She didn't like seeing the marshmallow man expand in a vacuum, but it was pretty amazing to watch water boil at room temperature.

Honestly, my favorite thing about homeschooling is that I get to share in so much of this learning with her.

Protecting my Orchids from the Cat


His exact words were, "I waitin for her ta chew on dah pwant."

Untitled-1 copy

He stood there for a good 10 minutes before he got his chance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few Random Things About Me- 46 thru 50

50- I am totally yawn susceptible. If anyone even thinks about yawning, I’ll yawn. Just typing the word yawn has made me yawn. (And proofreading it made me do it again.)

49- I think this is my favorite video ever.

48- My handwriting is almost exactly like my mom’s and my sister’s.

47- As a kid, I've experienced exactly what Pink Floyd sang about in Comfortably Numb. “my hands felt just like two balloons” I still get it as an adult occasionally. Without the help of drugs, I feel I should add.

46- I cried inconsolably when I saw Han Solo frozen in carbonite. My parents had to carry me, bawling, past a long line of people waiting to see the movie while I ruined it for them, sobbing about the fact that Han Solo was dead. Wait, you have seen Empire Strikes Back, right? Crap, did I ruin it for you too?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Year Later

Today is the 1 year anniversary of Jenny, Aurora and I getting our heads shaved for St. Baldrick's. Mostly, I've pretty much just let mine grow, very little cutting or styling, because it really doesn't seem worth it.

That is, until Jenny's SO mentioned that I was really growing myself quite the mullet.

Jenny can pull it off I think. Me? Not so much.


So we invited/begged for our cousin Lindsay to come over and cut our hair. She's currently taking classes at the local Aveda salon and was looking for hair to cut so it was a win-win situation.

She introduced us to razoring.

And this? It's called channeling. It is unpleasant as hell. But, the result looked fantastic on Aurora's thick, straight hair.
(It does look a bit like she's about to do brain surgery.)


Jenny's looks so cute.
Hi, this is Customer Service Jenny. How can I assist you today?

And here is a good picture of me.

Here is another one.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tutorial- Personalized Library Book Bag

Here is the tutorial for how to make the library bags to go with the bookplate stamps. Sometime next week I'll have one more tutorial to round off this book-themed gift set.


Note- This is a pretty long tutorial. It is because I am somewhat overly detailed. As for how long it takes to actually make these, I would estimate it at about 2 hours each. Maybe 3. It isn't super quick, but isn't too bad either. I think it's totally worth it for such a useful, personalized present. The kiddos who got these for Christmas really love theirs, so much so that they want to make them as presents for all of their friends.

Also since making one of these for Joey, we have spent A LOT less time searching for her library card because it is always in her bag.

I know. Wow.


How To Prepare
-First of all, get a cat to lay down on the prototype bag. This is especially amusing if her comfy, little, kitty basket is right behind her, put there specially so she won't climb on the sewing table.
Book Bag-1

-One piece of plain fabric for the bag, 17" by 36" (using these measurements allowed me to cut a piece of fabric from selvage to selvage, so I didn't need to fold or hem the short edges.)
-One piece of felt for the pocket, 4" by 7". I suggest you use actual wool felt for this, not the cheap craft stuff, which won't hold up very well.
-More felt for letters
-Freezer paper
-One piece of decorative fabric, 7 x 14 inches
-One piece of plain white fabric, 7.5 x 14.5 inches
-Matching webbing for handles, or enough fabric to sew your own
-Either self-adhesive velcro or a button (to keep the pocket closed)
-Thread to match

The Library Card Pocket
-Take the 4" by 7" rectangle of felt and iron so it folds up like this (creases at 1.5 inches from the top and 2.5 inches from the bottom)
-If using a button, go ahead and sew a buttonhole on the top flap of the rectangle. (I had never sewn a buttonhole until I did this right here. It was brilliant.) Then sew on the button.
-Center the pocket on the plain bag fabric, about 6 inches down from one of the short edges.
-Use a glue stick to glue the back of the pocket to the bag. (Now I know that this will probably get me banned from seamstress conferences, but I saw it on the Green Kitchen blog used for sewing zippers and it works really well here too. It holds things in place without using pins, which tend to buckle up the fabric and drive me bonkers. It is especially helpful for the letters because the pins are really fiddley to sew around.)
-Iron the pocket to set the glue.
-Using an 1/8th inch seam allowance, sew the pocket to the bag, like so.
card pocket
-Open the pocket up, start at A, sew to B and then over to C.
-Fold bottom of felt up and sew from C to D to E and back up to B. Backstitch.
-If you're using velcro instead, you can attach it now. Or do it later. Whatever. I'm easy.

Cutting Out the Letters (aka- behold the awesomeness of freezer paper)
-I printed up the names in Bauhaus 93, outlined font (Same as the bookplates. I love me a theme, especially within a theme.) Doing it in outline keeps it from printing a bunch of giant, ink-wasting letters. Also, since you'll be tracing these, you don't need to print more than one of each letter. (A fact I didn't realize until after I'd printed 3 sheets.) I did these at a font size of 240.
Book Bags-1
-I traced these onto the freezer paper, all squooshed together. It was a bit like Tetris, but you can move the shapes horizontally as well as drop them vertically. Very satisfying for those of us with a slight case of OCD.
Book Bags-1-1
-If I'd have been thinking clearer (or my OCD had been working properly), I would have separated the letters into two different groups (one for each color). If you do this, just make sure that you leave enough space between the two groups of letters.
-If you do have your letters grouped by color you don't need to cut the freezer paper first like the pictures, just place on the pieces of felt as is.
-If you didn't separate out the colors, rough cut out the letters and place them, shiny side down, on the felt.
Book Bags-1-2
-Cover with a press cloth and iron (on medium) for between 5 and 10 seconds.
Book Bags-1-3
-Check to see that the letters are well stuck to the felt. Iron again if not firmly attached.
-Cut out the letters along the lines.

Attaching the Letters
-Grab the piece of colored fabric that is 7 inches by 14 inches.
-Arrange the letters evenly on the right side of the fabric. (I use a see-thru quilters ruler to help line everything up.)
Book Bags-1-6
-One at a time, pick up a letter, apply regular old glue stick glue to the back of the letter and put back in place, pressing firmly. I pulled the freezer paper off as I did this to help me remember which ones I'd glued.
Gluing Letters
-When they're all where you want them to be, use a press cloth and go over it with the iron to set the glue.
-Using the exact same color thread as the felt (trust me, it's worth it to spring for this) sew around the edges of all the letters. (In this picture, I'd only sewed the red letters, not the blue.)
Book Bags-7
If you're not great at sewing... lucky you, you have plenty of time to get better as you do these. If you screw up a bit, don't worry, that's what you bought the matching thread for. No one will notice. (Unless your aunt is Martha Stewart and you're making personalized dog packs for her Chows. But, well, if that's the case, I can't possibly be of help to you.)

The Rest
-To attach the name to the bag, you can either fold and iron the cut edges to the back and then sew OR do the following... (I'm sure it's more work in the end, but it helped me line everything up nicely)
-Grab the white piece of fabric (7.5 by 14.5 inches). Sew it to the decorative fabric right sides together, going around the edges of the smaller, colored one, leaving at least a couple inches unsewn to turn right side out.
-I sewed rounded corners (or at least I came back and sewed rounded corners when I remembered) because they are much easier to work with than the 90 degree corners.
-Trim corners.
-Turn right side out, folding as necessary so that all the edges are straight.
-Iron flat.
-Center the name on the backside of the fabric where the pocket was sewn.
-Sew to bag (much easier if you do this before the bag is made).

The Bag Itself
-Sew it all up like in this fabric bag tutorial. Though you'll only need to fold the top edges down once if the short edges of your fabric were on the selvedge.

Some Thoughts
-For tracing the letters onto the freezer paper, I used my light tracer (best 30 bucks I ever spent). It isn't necessary, though. The lines show through the freezer paper well enough to do it without.

-Be sure to stick around to see the sewn bookmark that rounds off this gift set.

-Also please let me know if anything is missing or confusing here. I've been staring at this for quite awhile now, so I'm in no state to make a qualified assessment.


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Related Posts
Personalized Bookplate Stamp Tutorial
Handmade, Handsewn Bookmarks/Gift Tags
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