Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the day after (and the winner!)

First, the picture - I have a pile of images that need to be properly named and filed, and picked one completely at random. More of my favourite white and green combination!

I had so much fun reading your birthday memories after yesterday's post! Thanks for sharing.

My favourite, and the winner of some of my soap (can you tell I haven't decided what to send yet?) is Austen! This was her comment:

"The year I turned 29 my sister arranged a big surprise party for me. As part of the distraction plan, she shipped me off for a visit with a friend, a visit which included an hour-long hike around the edge of Lake MicMac. (At the end of January. It was frigid.) Eventually my friend dropped me off at home and I rushed inside, ripping off my boots and jacket and making a beeline for a hot shower, yelling to my sister (who I figured was somewhere around the house), "Honey, I'm home and holy god, I'm freezing my ass off!" By the time I screeched to a halt in front of them, sweater off and shirt soon to follow, the two-dozen-odd people hiding in my living room were laughing too hard to yell "surprise." (Funny how the hot flush of embarrassment can warm you up in a hurry!)"

I think it's probably my favourite because a similar thing happened to me, which Konstantina mentioned in the comments. A surprise birthday party was waiting for me, and I entered our then-apartment with a yell of "Geez Louise, I have to pee!" On my way to the bathroom, past the doorway where everyone was lurking, some movement caught my eye and I nearly jumped out of my skin with a shriek that would have woken the dead. It was hilarious!

So, Austen, e-mail your mailing address to grahamsherrie [at] yahoo [dot] ca, and I'll send you some loveliness in the mail!

Monday, March 30, 2009

recipe-a-week #12: crushed raspberry tart & bonne fête à moi!

Snowdrops are just plain delightful. They're green and white, my favourite colour combination, they're the first flowers of the season, and they multiply and do their thing without any intervention whatsoever. I love birthdays anyway, but I'm especially glad that mine is at this time of year. I'm 28 today, and have no list of things I want to achieve over the next 365 days. That's my gift to myself.
Speaking of birthdays, Ingrid came over yesterday, and we made my birthday non-cake! She also brought me a Donna Hay magazine, which I intend to have a proper date with tonight. And some yummy tea. The non-cake is Donna Hay's Crushed Raspberry Tart, from her fruit book, and here's the recipe:

375 g (13 1/4 oz) block store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tbsp caster sugar (we used regular granulated)
2 cups raspberries
1 tbsp icing sugar

sour cream filling:
1 cup sour cream (I think it would work better with the really thick type)
1/4 cup single or pouring cream (half and half; we used whipping, mmm)
1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch and trim to a 20 cm (8 inch) square. Cut 8 strips measuring 1x20cm (1/2 x 8in) from the remaining pastry. Place the pastry square on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Brush with the egg white and place half the strips around the edge to form a border. Brush the borders with the egg white and place the remaining strips on top. Prick the base with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the pastry with caster sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. To make the sour cream filling, whisk the sour cream, cream, and brown sugar in a bowl until smooth. Combine half the raspberries with the icing sugar and crush lightly. Fold in the remaining raspberries. Spoon the sour cream filling over the pastry base and spoon raspberries on top.
One more thing: a great surprise on my birthday! My new Artisan mixer arrived this afternoon, when I wasn't expecting it until next week. Nice! I'm excited to try it out.

For those of you who are still reading, I'm hiding a little birthday giveaway in here. Leave a comment with your funniest birthday memory, and I'll pick my favourite tomorrow. The winner will be sent some of my fantastic handmade soap.

Happy Monday, and Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

before and after

Before the haircut, and...
after!

Our sweet boy after his haircut. (You can imagine away that hideous floor. After some hard work on our part over the next few weeks, your dreams will come true!) How sweet is that little face? I often wear my sunglasses on my head, so I think he was copying me.

Speaking of our wee one, he threw up all over me tonight, after my impromptu birthday gathering ended. All over. He's sleeping now, and I'm hoping that that was it, and he'll feel better in the morning. As for me, I had a horrendous day sick in bed yesterday, but today I feel human again. Good grief! Adam and I watched Hot Fuzz last night, which was hilarious. So was Shaun of the Dead, which we watched a little while back. Good mindless sick-day movies to watch.

And on a significantly happier note, the cherry twig I brought in to force has blossomed!
I have a great dessert recipe for you tomorrow, so "Be sure to... be sure to what?... what was Little Orphan Annie trying to say?... Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." Oh, wait. Be sure to check in for the recipe, having nothing to do with Ovaltine.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring and cleaning

Birds and eggs inspire hope and happy thoughts in pretty much everyone at this time of year. The cardinals and finches have been frequenting the feeder today, and Phillip and I watched the grackles starting their annual nest in the neighbour's cedar tree this morning. (Between coughing fits and blowing my nose, in my case. I'm feeling better, but worse, you know?)
My MIL bought me the sweet pottery bird feeder above at Value Village last week, and I'm excited to put it outside.

And eggs! These are actually artificial (gasp!) eggs that MIL bought for me at Michaels. (She's good to me, I know.) I like that they're not as fragile as real ones (so they'll survive an egg hunt with Mr P, and being counted many times over) or as tacky as the neon plastic ones. That's the extent of my Spring decorating here - looking out the window is Springy enough, with the snowdrops up, crocuses here, and tulips poking up from the ground. Oh, and I did change my winter pinecone wreath out for a more Springy twiggy one, like this one, only darker.
I was looking at some Springy things online this morning, and found this gorgeous egg photo, featuring a great apron, by Abby Try Again, as well as this apricot blossom photo. I had never given any thought at all to apricot blossoms, since apricots aren't grown around here, but now I'm envious of those of you who might have access to some of those branches to force.

There's nothing quite as Spring-y as Spring cleaning! I looove this picture, also by Abby Try Again, and would love to have a huge one on a kitchen or pantry wall.

Speaking of cleaning, I have a safer solution for cleaning your porous old bathtub! (If you have one, of course.) I tried a mixture of 5% peroxide (available in the natural cleaning aisle at the health food store or grocery store) and baking soda in our ancient, porous clawfoot tub to get it to look somewhat clean, as suggested in The Baking Soda Book. I sprinkled on the baking soda, and used a spray bottle to liberally spray the peroxide over all of the baking soda. I left it for about 2 hours, giving it a light brushing with a scrub brush every now and then to make sure it was well covered, and it made such a difference! Without all of the scariness and toxicity of chlorine bleach. I would have left it a bit longer, to get the last tenacious stains gone, but it was time for P's bath, which waits for no man. So I rinsed it very well, and it looks great! It worked much better than anything else I've tried, including scary foamy stuff I had languishing in the cupboard. So, go forth and clean! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

lounging

I'm glad that you appreciated the discrepancy between the beautiful begonia in yesterday's post and the topic. I thought that it might make me feel better, and it did. Much like yesterday's post, this image is somewhat irrelevant to the text in this one. But I love it and wanted to share. These are a few of the Olivier soaps I bought last week, in a handmade bowl I bought primarily for pictures. Like these ones.

Thanks so much for all of your sweet well-wishes. Whatever I have seems to be getting somewhat better already, which is a very welcome development. I've spent pretty much the entire day in bed, although with the sun shining and the idea of evil germs lurking about, I did wash the bedding and my mom was good enough to hang it on the line. We're so very lucky that she is able to come and look after P when both of us are working. Or when I'm sick and Adam's working. I remade the bed with some lighter and Spring-ier bedding, and promptly went back to sleep for most of the afternoon.

Okay, on to fun things to share! I found a brand new (really, truly, brand-spanking kind of new) pair of Dansko clogs, exactly like these ones at Frenchy's. (Annie, if you were here, I would give them to you, since I know that we both have a thing for clogs.)

This is an endlessly entertaining flickr set of Darling Dexter's outfit every day. Fun!

And I can't recall if I've mentioned her blog here before (I must have!), but Amber of Amber's Ambry posted a hand balm tutorial the other day which looks fantastic. Easy peasy and a super sweet little gift idea. Have fun trying it out! I'm hoping to get around to it soon.

Marta posted today about Fresh's lemon sugar eau de toilette, which almost made me buy some, since I adore anything lemon-y. But I couldn't justify $28 for something I wasn't guaranteed to love and probably wouldn't use. And since I don't usually wear scents of any kind, I thought it might be wasteful and ridiculous. I could definitely make my own, using essential oils and Amber's recipe, and I think I will. But since I'm feeling icky, in a moment of weakness I took a peek around on Etsy, and found this Lemon Sugar solid perfume to try. I'm hoping that it's one of those super-light and delightful scents that you have to touch your nose to your arm to smell. The nice thing about the solid perfumes is that they don't spray all over everything else in the room, so you can control exactly how much you use. And now I'll have a tin to refill, too.

Happy Thursday! I'm off to take another one of these.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh


I think I'm finally coming down with something. I had been so proud of myself for being so healthy all Winter long. Well, now that it's Spring, so I guess I was healthy all Winter long. (I think that seasons are deserving of capitals.) Oh yeah, except for the bladder evils in January. Okay, never mind. I've been feeling progressively worse all day and am sore all over, with chills, right now. So, I have a cup of peppermint tea to drink until Phillip is really, truly asleep. Then my plans include a nice hot bath, some reading in bed, and lots of sleep. Good night!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

kitchenaid mixer development

If you recall, there's an ongoing KitchenAid saga here in the Graham household. I bought a new mixer in May 2008. I returned it it August because of a crazy noise it was making, and received a replacement. The replacement unit did the same thing, so I returned it in February. I've called twice to check on the status of the mixer, and was told on the 13th that I would be contacted by someone with more details. I called again today, since I hadn't heard from them, and after waiting on hold for quite a long time (which was okay, because I was able to do all kinds of other things as I waited) was told that I would be immediately sent a new Artisan mixer (the one I returned was Ultra Power) as they didn't have the original model in stock. Yipeeee! The image is of the model I will be receiving, and I can't wait to get my hands on it, especially after all of this hassle! You will most certainly be seeing some photos when it arrives. Happy Tuesday!

forcing branches

For the past few years, I've forced branches every February or so. I did the same this year, but a few weeks ago when I was cleaning up in the garden on a beautiful March evening, I found a few other little branches strewn around on the ground, and wondered if they would do something interesting if I plunked them in some water. Did they ever! The spirea is pictured above, and there are teeny-tiny little buds in the leaves, which I'm guessing will turn into some sweet white flowers.
Some Japanese Cherry blooms are almost open, too. They're extra special to me, since they were blooming when P was born. Some great friends cut some of the branches from our tree and brought them to me in the hospital.
And I had heard of farmers sticking willow switches in the ground, which would then grow into beautiful willow trees. Now I can see why. These little twigs were in water for a week or so when the roots started to appear. It's been a little more than two weeks now, and check out those roots! I think I'll be starting some little willows in pots.
So go and see what you can find on the ground or in the yard, and stick it in some water. For woody branches, it works best to cut a notch into the bottom of the twig, where the branch was cut from the tree, so that it can soak up plenty of water. For flowers, try quince, cherry, forsythia, or spirea. I love the little fuzzy yellow willow 'flowers' (seeds?), and think they're gorgeous, too. I've never tried lilac, but something tells me they wouldn't work as well. Have fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

recipe-a-week #11: roasted curried cauliflower

I made this dish last week, and it was really good. I haven't met a vegetable yet which can't be improved upon by roasting, and cauliflower is no exception.

Will you forgive me that the recipe isn't from one of my cookbooks? I know that was kind of the point of this whole recipe-sharing endeavour, but I bought the cauliflower expressly for currying and roasting, and there was not a curried cauliflower recipe in one of my cookbooks. So I found this recipe, and it was good.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower


3/4 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 1 g
1/4 cup olive oil 65 mL
3 tbsp wine vinegar 45 mL
1 1/4 tsp curry powder 4 g
1 tsp paprika 3 g
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper [optional] 0.4 g
ground pepper to taste
salt to taste
3 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into equal-size florets 550 g
1/2 onion(s), cut into quarters 100 g
4 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped [optional] 3 g
  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F.
  2. Crush the coriander seeds either with a mortar and pestle or using a rolling pin. Place the seeds in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, vinegar, spices, and salt.
  3. Prepare the vegetables : Cut the cauliflower into equal-size florets. Peel the onion, cut it into quarters lengthwise, then pull apart the quarters to separate the layers. Add the cauliflower and onion to the vinaigrette bowl, then toss to coat well. Spread the vegetables in single layer on a large baking sheet.
  4. Roast the vegetables until golden and tender-crisp, stirring occasionally, about 30 min.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature. You may garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Very good. You would rather have this one than the one from one of my cookbooks which I was disappointed in, right? Okay, I'm trying to make myself feel better for my weak recipe resolve. You're such a nice bunch, I know that it's okay. Just this once.

I'm hoping for a snow day tomorrow, and I have lots of new pictures to share with you. So if those two things collide in a wonderful twist of fate, you'll be seeing a few new pictures I'm excited about. Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

what did I buy while I was away?

Soap, of course! Of all the things I need, soap is most definitely not on the list, since I have so much that I make. So I bought some anyway, from Olivier in the Saint John City Market. Partly for a picture I want to take, and partly because they make beautiful, natural soaps, and everyone can always use more of those, n'est-ce pas? Oh yeah, and they were in the 2/$5 basket.

I'm happy to be home, and it was surprisingly lovely to go without touching a computer for a few days. I think I'll have to do it more purposefully every now and then. Phillip had a very happy few days, so his mama did, too. But of course, it's nice to be home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

off for an adventure

My in-laws are here for a few days. MIL bought me this sweet little begonia for my upcoming birthday, and I love it. Especially since I plunked it in the clay pot with the antique saucer. I love pink and green together, especially in Spring.
Speaking of Spring and green, we ate our first food from the garden with last night's supper! The chives are up a wee little bit, so I picked some and we ate them sprinkled on tacos made with local beef. Delicious.
And lastly, I cleaned the windows two days ago. Yesterday, a very loud crash scared me, and I couldn't figure out what it was. I searched the house, and finally gave up. Later on, I realized that those smudges on the window weren't more of Phillip's hand prints, but a greasy bird print, left after a high-impact collision with the glass. Ouch.

I'm glad that you're finding the dishwasher info helpful! Baking soda really is an amazing thing.

Phillip and I are going to visit the in-laws for a few days, so I will be back in a few days. In the meantime, here's P, singing in the pantry with an oven mitt. Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

natural dishwasher detergent update

Hello, sun! This is the fifth consecutive day of sun. Maybe more. Fifth consecutive day of hanging clothes on the line, at least. I am one happy gal. I think it's time to take down the Wintry pine cone wreath and replace it with something a bit more Springy.
We have company for a few days, which translates into more dishes than usual, hence the prompt follow-up to yesterday's dishwasher post. I popped an Ecover tablet in the dishwasher this morning, ran the load through, and it looks good. The tablets have a few more ingredients in them than the borax / baking soda solution (equal parts), including "plant-based fragrance", which I'm assuming can only be essential oils. I'm not sure why it's listed like that. Regardless, the fragrance isn't strong at all when the dishwasher is running, which I like - the regular grocery store stuff smells pretty vile (in my opinion) when it's going through. Of course, no scent from the baking soda / borax mix, ether. I did notice a few water spots on a glass washed in the baking soda load yesterday, but I think I was looking for them. And that's waaaay down on my list of things to be concerned about!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

b. s. (or, baking soda) and natural dishwasher detergent

I read Eats, Shoots & Leaves over the past few days, and I loved it. I was reminded of a few punctuation rules which I am sure that I often break, and was also reminded of how much fun can be had with punctuation. No, I am not kidding. The book referred often to people like myself, who love finding punctuation and grammatical errors on signs and in books.
How fortuitous that I borrowed this book from the library! It's replete with errors. Such as "Breathe Freshener" instead of "Breath Freshener",
"Dishwasher Power" instead of "Dishwasher Powder",and - perhaps my favourite - "Use your hand to rinse clean the sin", rather than "sink".
Despite the errors and the decidedly un-beautiful cover, there are lots of good tips in the book, such as making dishwasher powder with equal parts of baking soda and borax. I was really excited to try this one, so I gave it a go this afternoon, and it seems to have worked well. The dishes look clean, and the glasses aren't cloudy. (I do have some residual Jet-Dry in the dishwasher, which I'm planning on replacing with good old white vinegar when the Jet-Dry is gone). I'll try the mixture again with a heavier load of dirtier dishes and see if the borax and baking soda does a good job on those. Here in Canada, Borax is in the odd box pictured below, in the laundry aisle at the grocery store, next to the washing soda on the top shelf, and costs around $5 for a box which will last a long time. (Toilet talk note: shake 1 cup of borax in the toilet before bed, swish it around and flush it in the morning and you'll have a clean toilet, free of rust stains and other nastiness.)
In the interest of some bloggy dishwasher experimentation, I also bought some Ecover dishwasher tablets which were on sale, $8.79 for 25 tablets, to do some unscientific testing against the Nature Clean gel we had been using, which costs $9.99 for 1.8 L, and the borax / baking soda homemade stuff. The Nature Clean stuff works well; best if the pre-wash compartment is filled as well as the wash one. But it's pricey. The Ecover tablets are going to be the priciest option, even on sale, so I hope they work. I'll do an update once I've tried those, too.

For sprinkling baking soda on sinks and surfaces, I bought this shaker this morning at Yarmouth Natural for $1.99. (Hello! You can see me in the picture.) I have another shaker, but decided that it would be sensible to have one upstairs and one downstairs. $1.99 didn't break the bank, and the holes are larger than the standard ones, allowing for better flow when sprinkling it in the tub. Apparently, mixed with a 5% peroxide solution, it makes a good cleaner for porous iron bathtubs, such as ours. I'm currently out of peroxide, but will pick up some more (with the natural cleaners aisle at the Superstore, since they didn't have any at Yarmouth Natural) and give it a try. I didn't know that since vinegar and baking soda neutralize each other, sometimes the cleaning power isn't the best. Which is why peroxide is recommended. It makes sense, I guess!

There! I hope you picked up some natural cleaning tidbits you can make use of in your home. And despite all of the tragic errors in the baking soda book, you should see if you can find a copy at the library. It's entertaining, if nothing else. Let me know if you try any of these tips!

Monday, March 16, 2009

recipe-a-week #10: chocolate 'n' cream sandwich cookies

These cookies are delicious. I'm not the biggest chocolate fan, but these are good. Very sweet, and very good. They're a one-at-a-time-with-something-to-wash-it-down kind of cookie.
I loved working with the dough. The texture was so very lovely.
And I got to use my new cookie sheets.
So, here's the recipe, from April 2009's Everyday Food, with my notes in parentheses, for:

Chocolate 'n' Cream Sandwich Cookies
makes 15 (I had 18) :: prep time 25 minutes :: total time 35 min + chilling

Because there's butter in the cream filling, store these cookies in the refrigerator. For a minty touch (which I meant try but forgot) add a few drops of peppermint oil to the filling.

1 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
3/4 cup cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
cream filling (below)

1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside. In another bowl, stir together butter, sugar, and egg. Add flour mixture, and stir until dough forms.

2. Divide dough in half; roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Stack on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment (oops). Using a 2 inch cookie cutter, cut dough int rounds. Place on sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are firm and fragrant, 8-10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through (again, oops). Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

4. Spread half the cookies with 1 tbsp cream filling; top with remaining cookies. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 5 days.

(You can feel free to ignore this information:) per cookie: 211 cal; 7.9 g fat (4.8 g saturated); 2.4 grams protein; 35.1 g carb; 1.7 g fibre

Cream filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature, until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until combined. Beat in 2 tsp vanilla extract.

And try not to eat them all.

morning walk




Have you ever heard a lake melting in Spring? I hadn't until yesterday. I tried to catch it on video, but the sound didn't do justice to the event. It sounds like a warbly airplane is flying overhead. And then you realize that it's the lake, waking up from a long rest to say hello. It was really, really, neat.

Here's one of the clips I took anyway, just because the lake's edge was so lovely.
video

Saturday, March 14, 2009

perfect Saturday breakfast

First of all, I brought some spirea branches in to force. I bought the plants at Canadian Tire on clearance last fall for 50 cents each. Not bad, eh?
Today's my first day of March Break! We had a celebratory breakfast, including all of the essentials: butter, maple syrup, and (warning: gross meaty picture coming up): bacon.
I had never cooked bacon in the oven before. This is probably because we buy it approximately once a year. I treated myself to some new baking sheets (some people are addicted to drugs, others, cookware), and I thought it would be a good way to use them. If you've never done it, it's easy; just place the bacon on a cooling rack over the baking sheet in the over at 425 for approximately 20 minutes, or until it's crispy and lovely. This way, it doesn't just cook in its own fat, and the slices stay nice and flat. You might want to line your baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier clean up. Downsides: 1) even though it's done in the oven, your clothes will still smell like a dog treat, and 2) it's a pain to scrub the type of cooling rack I have.

How many songs do you know about baking/bacon? I love wordplay. We've been singing this one:


Other fun things I've enjoyed on this first day of the break: going to the Old World Bakery with Phillip for "muffins juice" and seeing some friends, getting the last faucet that was on sale at Canadian Tire, hanging out a full line of clothes, and reading Donna Hay's Fruit. It's a very good day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

audience participation and lisa hannigan

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, on the Yarmouth waterfront. It was a gorgeous day (a saying which Phillip has picked up from us, I might add. Too cute!) Today was another beauty, with clear blue skies and warmth in the sun. The reason this picture is only appearing now has to do with today's random question: have you ever bought a new memory card for your camera, and your card reader won't recognize it at all? I can get the pictures from it, but it's a long and silly process I would like to avoid if possible. Any suggestions?
Phillip has been having lots of fun playing outside during this spell of nice weather. These "lellow boots" are getting small for his fat little feet, but he clomps around the backyard quite happily in them anyway.

I am usually 100% energy and positivity, but for the past week or so, I've been feeling kind of sluggish and glum. I think a break from the regular routine is much needed, and since I'm lucky enough to have the whole week off next week, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to do something extra fun and out of the ordinary. I'll be going on vacation from the Etsy shop, and Adam's parents are coming for a few days, so they can watch Phillip. I want to know if you have any suggestions for things I (or we) can do to change things up? Preferably something inexpensive, unusual, local, and out of the ordinary. Maybe a photo project? A winter picnic on the beach? Hmmm. Any suggestions are welcome and will be considered!

In the meantime, I've found some lovely links to share with you on this Tuesday-before-March-break, to help get you through.

Martha's Crafts Department has a blog! I haven't had time to take a thorough soak in it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, very soon.

Canelle et Vanille (translation: cinnamon and vanilla) is a painfully gorgeous food blog. Seriously. Once you see it, you'll know what I mean. I'm a wee bit envious of all of that beauty in one spot.

And I'm a bit enamoured with Lisa Hannigan as of late. You may have seen me driving with the window down and singing along to this song this morning. Isn't she gorgeous? (She has the same cheekbones as my sweet friend Jen. Hi Jen!) And the accordion in this song is fantastic.

While the first video is the song that's been in my head all day, I love this video. (To tell you a secret, this is how I like to imagine myself. Maybe I just need to sing more. And turn beautiful and Irish.)

Only three more work days until the break!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

recipe-a-week #9: zucchini bread & exciting garden developments

First things first: when the snow melted this week in the raspberry patch, look what was hiding underneath! The first snowdrops of the season. I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted them from across the yard; I zoomed over (in Adam's shoes, since I was emptying the compost and his were closest to the door) to make sure that my eyes weren't betraying me. Yipeee! I can't even express how very, very exciting this is. Prepare yourself for this year's garden pictures!

In indoor news, I'm having fun baking this afternoon while P is sleeping and Adam's at the gym. First, I whipped up these simple and quick brownies, as per Adam's request. I can't say enough good things about them - they are what I would call a perfect recipe. One pot, 4 or 5 minutes, and into the oven they go. Delicious, too, of course. (Edited to add: I originally posted about them with pictures, here.) The second thing, which is currently in the oven, is zucchini bread. I still have some frozen and grated zucchini from last fall in the freezer, and decided that some zucchini bread would be a great way to reduce my stores. The recipe I used is from More-with-Less, and it goes like this:

Zucchini Bread
350, 1 hr, makes 2 loaves

Preheat oven to 350. Combine in mixing bowl and beat well:

3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 c vegetable oil (you can use part applesauce; I used butter)
2 c raw, peeled, grated zucchini (mine was frozen and thawed; I drained off some of the water)
1 tbsp vanilla

Sift together:
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
3 t cinnamon

Add to zucchini mixture and stir until blended. Add 1 c coarsely chopped nuts (I didn't.)

Pour into 2 greased bread pans. Bake 1 hour, or until tester comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on rack. Yum! I like is best cold and with butter, à la post-funeral/celebration/exciting gathering in a church basement. Enjoy!

Friday, March 06, 2009

the early bird


Sweet Teresa's blog was the first place that I saw this particular handmade giveaway twist, and since I was one of her first five commenters, I'm 'paying it forward'. (I haven't decided yet if that's one of those phrases I detest, but I think it might be. Too catchy.)

The rules are (and I'm copying the text from Teresa, with some edits):

The first 5 people who respond to this post will get something made by me: it will be my choice, but will, hopefully, be something you can use or enjoy for its aesthetic merits. (The picture of my sewing machine does not mean that it will be used in the handmade wonderfulness which is this swap, although I just had a brilliant idea...) This offer does have some restrictions & limitations...

*I make no guarantees that you will like it...but I hope you do!
*You will receive this item before the end of the year (December 31, 2009) or sooner.
*You will have no idea what the item will be, or when you will receive it.
*To participate, you must re-post this meme on your blog and put together something to be sent out as 5 surprises of your own. These surprises can be anything....a piece of art, a photo, a poem...whatever you choose.

Now I'll just wait for the comments to come rolling in! If you're one of the first five commenters, please e-mail me your mailing address (grahamsherrie AT yahoo DOT ca), and those will go in the mail sometime in the next 9 months! Happy Handmade Friday! (Yes, I just made that up.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

dreamy soap shed

Isn't this the perfect soap shed? Okay, maybe larger windows would be nicer. But on sunny days I could open those doors and enjoy the fresh air as I whip up some beautiful soaps.
A colleague of mine was here from Halifax yesterday and today, and since we were in Pubnico this morning, we went to see the windmills.