Friday, January 28, 2011

Saddle Up The Hobby Horse

There's a certain kind of majesty in escapism. And while some experts, some books and some Dr. Oz-advised individuals may tell you to face your own reality head on, I've decided that reality is, well, never really was my life technique. And the latest hobby thrown atop the growing pile is bread baking. The smell of baking yeast is second only to the crunch of the magnificent crust. Bread baking requires a certain amount of time, patience and love..I naturally have but one of these items listed...but there are days when all three seem to appear and hours of kneading ensue. I'm serving Martha's chicken club salad with these two loaves of freshly made white bread laced with fresh PA honey from Terrain. Here's a beautiful olive roll recipe, also from Martha, that I really love. Try it...especially if you need a little bit of escapism yourself.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for parchment, bowl, and plastic wrap
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, (105 degrees to 110 degrees)
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush parchment with oil; set aside. Oil a large bowl; set aside. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir until dissolved.
Put 3 cups flour and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add yeast mixture and oil; mix on medium speed until a soft dough forms, adding more flour if needed. Add olives and red pepper flakes; mix until fully combined, about 15 minutes.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and olives are set firmly in the dough, about 15 minutes. Transfer to oiled bowl. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface; gently flatten. Using a butter knife, cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a cylinder, and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake rolls until tops are crisp and dark brown, about 15 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jour de Neige! Snow Day!

Me and Dan are both enjoying a snow day, our second so dar this season. The section of Philadelphia where I teach got nearly 17.5" of snow yesterday and last night, so it was probably a pretty good call. Of course we're sitting here doing work anyway....clicking away at our laptops, attacking the endless piles that never seem to shrink. The house also needs cleaning and Pete needs a bath after an anonymous person that wasn't Jes accidentally spilled pancake syrup on his head.

I'm trying to get all of this done early so I can work on my etsy shop. After selling a few mini embroidered pillows in the last few weeks, I'm hooked again and I'm working on inventory that I'll put up in the summer as well as a gift for Jane's mystery baby that is being born as I write this.

Snowed in. How romantic.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kitchen Reno OR How Many Times Will We Be Spotted at the Legacy Diner in February?

We ordered our kitchen cabinets this weekend and in three short weeks, we'll begin the renovation. My mother reminds me that most people never get to tear out and rebuild their kitchen so I need to really let myself be Bobby Trendy luxurious about it. I guess. These are our cabinets, although two of our kitchens could probably fit into this one with elbow room.

The paint color is a bit more grey than it appears here. It's called hazel. It reminded me first of the focal wall at the Pop Shop and then really of my own dining room. What can I say....I know what I like.

My favorite part is the backsplash, which is this style, but a bit lighter than shown here. I had to put up my dukes for this was so worth it.

Care to join us next month at the Legacy?


In Sheeps' Clothing

This photo reminded me of Pete. Pete also likes to spend a lot of time in our kitchen...his preference is no more than 3 inches from our feet. <3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Terrarium Saturday

I can't lie...I'm totally obsessed with the terrarium I made at Terrain on Saturday. It's delicious.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reduce Reuse Refabulous...

We've started our recycled fashions project in fashion design class and for the second year in a row, I am left speechless by the quality of and creativity behind the things that my students are creating in our class. the necklace above is a project that we made in class using recycled magazines rolled into beads. The photo and tutorial are not from my class, but from the amazing cut out and keep blog. I'm actually working on a multi-media version of this necklace for myself. You know embroidery is involved.

Remember Dr. King: Have a peaceful weekend, do something harmonious and be thankful that we're all so different (it makes life so very interesting).


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Art of Display

I was inspired by this photo of a simple vignette today featuring my favorite flower, the peony. I love creating new vignettes in my house, especially since things look so sad around here now that the tree and all of our homemade decorations are packed away for another year. I made a trip to Terrain and bought a few things including some Irish moss, Angel's Tears, fresh basil and thyme, a shitake mushroom log and walnut garland to fill in the spaces.

I'll be headed back to Terrain this weekend for their terrarium workshop from 2-4. You should totally come!

P.S. Dan and Colin are measuring our kitchen at this very moment in preparation for the kitchen of our DREAMS! ah!

Three Claps

Pulling yourself out of a slump requires a certain brand of fun with a particular combination of people.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 2: Casserole and Nostalgia

I wish I could say something here like "No time to blog, working on the peanut pillow!" but alas, the peanut pillow is across the room glaring at me, bourbon in hand, for all of the broken promises (did you just hear it say "we never spend time together anymore" with a bourbon-stained slur!?) I'll get to it...just after I finish these lesson plans.

I was thinking outside of my work addiction today when I saw this dollhouse post on zakka life during my lunch. (Note: This is the mother I had always intended on being one day and coincidentally, the very dollhouse I had always wanted to build.) It reminded me of the conversation that I'd had with a few of my friends at the SFA show on Friday who were going with the band to D.C. and stopping for a quick trip to the Smithsonian where they'd planned on visiting Kermit and Julia Child's kitchen. I insisted that they had to stop at my life's greatest inspiration---the Smithsonian dollhouse. I spent what felt like 3 hours in front of this dollhouse when I was a kid, absorbing eah inch of perfectly calculated scale.

I built my first dollhouse with my mom when I was 12, the year after my dad died. Looking back, we did a lot of things like that in 1994 and I realize now that my mom sortof always did what I do. The delicate art of escapism. Still, the dollhouse became a huge part of my childhood and I have to say, I played with that thing way longer than I care to admit. I took dollhouse furniture-making classes, sewed my own miniature curtains, hooked my own tiny bath mat and set elaborate tables with miniscule forks, tea cups and gravy boats. And Christmas...oh, involved hours of planning, crafting and decorating before I'd invite my family to a miniature tour of my miniature world. The perfect one with a really tall dad and three kids with rudimentary haircuts, not unlike my current dollhouse, slightly bigger, one lady, two dogs and one Dan with a rudimentary haircut.

We're high fiving the snow fall and hoping for a day off where we'll do anything but work. Well, maybe a little work (you don't expect me to do this cold turkey!). How romantic.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Here's my Damn New Years' Resolution

I had a conversation with the almighty Nicole a few weeks went something like "don't be absorbed by your job and blah blah blah." As per usual, the almighty called my bluff. I am utterly OBSESSED with my job. Lucky for me, it's because I love it. I can't really explain what it's like because I didn't really notice it until recently. I can only compare it to saving the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting close to doing just that at my job. Dramatic, sure, but it's in these times where I'm feeling the most lost that I dive in further and I disappear for a while. Maybe it's the thought that being childless isn't really being childless with 125 kids of my own to take care of every day.

This obsession has come with its fair share of victims, namely most of my friends, my husband, my dogs and, as if they were people, my many hobbies. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were literally 10,000 new blog posts in my bloglines and the famous giant embroidered peanut pillow remains half complete just as it was on the beach in August. For Christmas, I was given three beautiful embroidery/craft books that are sitting in my bathroom. I flip through them every day with the best of intensions knowing full well that some scandinavian crewel seat cushions aren't going to happen, not even close, until the peanut pillow is complete.

So, in the spirit of being balanced, I've joined a really crazy (like, scary crazy) kickboxing class and the peanut pillow is out, ready for its first stitches since Labor Day. I've cut out the appliques that I intend on stitching onto a shirt that I bought in July, I purchased the fusible interfacing and I've picked out the thread. I made a date with Katelyn for our monthly painting club where I'll (finally) finish my mixed media painting (of course it involves embroidery) without cancelling...except maybe if there's snow...uhm...tomorrow. I'm going to have a life. That's what I'm doing this year. Finally.

I'll call you Thursday, Nicole. :)