Wednesday, April 29, 2009

change is in the air

Another willow picture for you, for this momentous occasion.

I've been thinking for awhile that I need to change things up here at Frenchy's Finds. A new name, primarily, that better fits with what I post. Although I'm always coming home with Frenchy's goodies, many aren't that exciting, and what I do post is often in amongst garden pictures, recipes, and pics of the babe. And it has always driven me a little bit crazy that the blog address is frenchyfinds, while the blog name is frenchy's finds. That 's' has been nagging for too long.

And so, I have a new blog to announce! I thought that Spring would be a fabulous time for a fresh start. I'm actually importing all of the posts from this blog, too, so you'll be able to search for that perfect bread recipe or tips for forcing branches, all over at my new blog,

Twenty-two Pleasant

I will leave this blog as is, so that links from others to posts in my archives will still work. So please, update your Reader and blogroll links, and come on over to Twenty-two Pleasant for a cup of tea!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

recipe-a-week # 15: spaghetti with tomatoes and peppers

I'm a little bit late with this recipe; the baby shower and visiting with my sister took up much of my time this week. Better late than never!

This is a delicious, quick meal. I chose it in order to use things up that I had on hand, so I ended up modifying the original recipe quite significantly. As you can see, when I made this, I didn't use penne. Or two tomatoes. And I added in some yellow and red pepper, because it was starting to soften. The original recipe, from Everyday Food is here, and is also in the May 2009 issue of the magazine. And here's my version:

Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Peppers

6 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt and pepper
12 ounces spaghetti (I used a mix of white and whole wheat)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 red or yellow pepper, sliced (or half of each)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup snipped chives

1. Place cheese in freezer. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and set aside.

2. In pasta pot, heat oil over medium-high. Saute garlic slices for one minute; add peppers and saute until slightly softened. Add tomatoes and pasta water, and cook until tomatoes are softened, 2 to 4 minutes.

3. Add pasta, chilled cheese, and chives to pot. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Enjoy!

I also wanted to share some bread trials for the best recipe ever with you. I tried making it with half spelt flour last week, and it turned out pretty well. The dough is quite runny and a little bit difficult to manoeuvre, but the bread turns out well. Nice and crusty, and the bread itself is a little bit sticky to the touch. I think I might try with 2 cups white, and 1 cup spelt next time, to see if that helps. Right now, I have a loaf on the go with 2 cups white, and 1 cup whole wheat. It turned out perfectly!

Hope you're having a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

happy mailbox

These have nothing to do with the mailbox. I picked them this afternoon after work. Also after buying some at the grocery store, since despite all of my ditch-stalking as I drove for work, I hadn't found any. Until right after I paid for some, of course. These ones that I picked are much nicer than the store ones.

This has more to do with the mailbox! Jen, The Wool Fairy, and I did a swap this week. She's right here in Nova Scotia, and has a blog here, and an Etsy shop, here. She makes these adorable wool vegetables, which Phillip loves. The 'salad' (lettuce leaves in the bowl) are today's favourite. I love Jen's presentation, too - especially the stamp on the berry box. Brilliant! Thanks, Jen!

Does this fabric look familiar? The very talented Austen, who had that fantastic project in Canadian Living, made the bag from this material, and was sweet and kind enough to offer to send me some when I gushed over how great I think it is! I can't wait to whip up one of those bags. She's also just started a brand new craft blog, Make & Do, over at Canadian Living. It's definitely worth checking out, especially since there's a giveaway going on over there right now. (I shouldn't even tell you, since I really want that book, but in the interest of being kind, I will.)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

spiced hot chocolate

I don't often post other people's photos, but a) it's too dark and gloomy to take one of my own tonight, and b) I haven't actually made this yet. The photo is from here. I came across the recipe in The Naturally Scented Home, a book which I was completely pleasantly surprised by. It's definitely worth borrowing from the library, for the information and recipes for herbs and spices for both culinary and beauty purposes. I was especially excited for this one, because it calls for cardamom, my spice du jour. It seems like a wintry, cold-weather kind of recipe, but even though it's April, it fits today perfectly since it's been pouring rain for a few days and I feel soggy around the edges.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Add a small stick of cinnamon, a little grated nutmeg and 3 cardamom pods to 600mL (1 pint) of milk. Warm very gently, taking off the heat just before it boils. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon and cardamom pods and add grated chocolate (the recipe doesn't specify how much). Stir until melted over gentle heat. Pour into bowls and top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of grated chocolate.

baby shower

The baby shower for my sister last night was lovely. Lots of our family were able to be here, including piles of kids, so it was relaxed and fun and so very, very nice to see everyone. A few times, I just kind of sat back and was delighted to have our house full of people we love, all together to celebrate a brand new little person about to arrive in the world. There is nothing more exciting than that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

lemons and little house in the suburbs

Hello, lemon! I think you just might end up in some lemon bars for tomorrow night's baby shower. If I have enough time, that is. If not, maybe I'll use one of these suggestions.

Today, Blogger tells me that this is post #928, so you can disregard yesterday's message.

I found a new favourite blog today! It's Little House in the Suburbs, and it's full of fun DIY projects to try. First on my list: Quick Stick Deodorant. And for fellow gardeners out there, newspaper seedling pots and how to build a seedling tray. Oooh, and if your sink drain is in trouble, here's a very natural and effective way to clean it out! And on, and on. Have fun browsing around!

I'll be back with shower pics in a couple of days!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

post 963 & soap tidbits

Wow, this is my 963rd post! Speaking of numbers, I'll be hitting the 300 mark soon (I hope it's soon - I'm currently at 293) for the number of soaps sold from my Etsy shop! The person who orders the 300th bar will be getting some extra goodies with their order, just so you know.

I'm in the process of updating my Birch Bark Soap blog, and will be making a few more minor changes as I figure out how to do what I want, with help from Adam. Have a peek! I just posted a tutorial on making round bars and loofah soaps, so you just might learn something new.

I'm off to get a loaf of the best bread ever started, and to continue cleaning up in the kitchen. The ceiling is done, leaving a fine film of drywall dust in its wake. My afternoon was spent cleaning and scrubbing and wiping down the kitchen, which was really kind of fun. I also made soap and did up that tutorial, so I think I'll be relaxing a bit tonight.

Have a great week!

Friday, April 17, 2009

grandma's collectables and cardamom cookies

In the course of a search for a perfect little jar for solid perfume (which I did not find), I did find this fantastic little marmalade crock at Grandma's Collectables, a funny little shop near Weymouth with just about everything antique-y and collectable and old that you could imagine. I'm a little bit giddy over it. Next time I go, I want much more time and my camera.
I also found these jars. I know, I know. Why on earth would I need more glass jars? Because these ones have the glass centre piece in the top, along with the metal ring. Fantastic! I have semi-specific plans for these ones, once they've been washed up and moved from the top of the washer.
And I found this cute little biscuit cutter, too.
To use some of my cardamom, I wanted to make something where it would be the main flavour. So I made these cookies. I wasn't expecting the lemony taste that cardamom has. All of the spiciness and warmth, yes, but not that citrus-y tang. It makes sense since it's in the ginger family, and the recipe is pretty good. Not amazing or earth shattering, but definitely decent.

Speaking of baking, I heard Michael Ruhlman on the radio this afternoon, talking about his book Ratio. I must say that I'm intrigued. The idea is that to be more creative in cooking, one needs freedom from the restrictions that recipes impose. By learning basic ratios of ingredients, you can then play around and make what you like. Part of me likes the idea, but the other part of me says, "Why bother?" I'm kind of thinking that the "Why bother?" side might win. I requested the book from the library, so I'll let you know what I think once I get my hands on it.

Lastly, we're working away on the kitchen! Adam's sanding the ceiling as I type. The "before" is above, and is now happily covered with new gyproc so that all potential lead is sealed in. It's crackfilled and will be painted tomorrow. A new floor will be installed next week (!), and then we're going to paint the trim and fix all of those little silly things that should have been done long ago. I am SO excited. And then we'll paint the porch, and redo the bathrooms and the spare bedroom...

Happy Friday!