Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Felted Forest Friends

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit much even for me, but seriously, how cute are these guys? These little sewing-room accessories are samples that I stitched up tonight for work. I've been meaning to get these done for-ev-er (like, probably since before Thanksgiving). I think they turned out adorably! Plus, these aren't just cute, they're also functional!

The owl holds your scissors!

Inside the toadstool is hidden a retractable measuring tape.
And the soft tree stump doubles as a pincushion!

It felt good to sit down and do some sewing. I've been distracted by other things lately, and I've been putting off getting my machine out and getting back to making things. Some other exciting projects will be forthcoming! Plus, sewing gave me a chance to catch up on my latest TV addiction.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pie Weekend

I spent most of my weekend baking strawberry-rhubarb pie. The problem was, my pie was, um, soupy. Also a little too sour. Also the rhubarb didn't get cooked enough even though it was in the oven for two hours. I guess not every baking project can be a success.

On the bright side, the crust, as always, was the best part! I baked some pie crust "cookies" by rolling out crust, cutting it into squares, and brushing them with butter and sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar. I also folded some squares of pie crust around apricot jam and baked them. Both pie crust creations were delicious (and far better than the pie itself!).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I Read in 2010: Part 2

photo by me

Brr! It's getting cold outside! There's snow in the forecast for tonight, and I'm crossing my fingers for a bit of a snow day tomorrow. I have bread dough rising right now, and it would be bliss to get to stay home and read by the fireplace tomorrow. I've been meaning to post the second part of my list of books from 2010 (find the first part here). It was a busy fall, and I didn't quite reach my goal of 100 books, but I came close! As you can see, my reading tastes are pretty diverse and not terribly literary. The titles in bold are the ones I liked the most!

What I Read in 2010 (Part 2!):

51. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
52. Insatiable by Meg Cabot
53. Second Nature by Nora Roberts
54. Summer Dreams by Nora Roberts
55. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
56. The Search by Nora Roberts
57. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
58. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
59. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
60. Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner
61. An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan
62. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
63. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
64. The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
65. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews
66. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
67. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
68. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
69. Hot Rocks by Nora Roberts
70. Bone Worship by Elizabeth Eslami
71. River's End by Nora Roberts
72. Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
73. Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
74. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
75. Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
76. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
77. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
78. The Hunger Game by Suzanne Collins
79. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
80. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
81. Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's For Dinner: Green Fried Rice & Baked Tofu!

This was dinner one night last week--"green" fried rice (green because of all the green veggies it includes!) and baked tofu. I love baking tofu in a yummy marinade because it is easy, fast, and really good for you. This meal reheated well for work lunches. Both of these recipes came from the Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers cookbook. As a bonus, this meal was vegan! I'm trying to eat vegan more frequently at home (it doesn't always work... tonight I'm having cheesy baked pasta, oops!).

Green Fried Rice (from Moosewood Simple Suppers):

I've added my own modifications and simplified the directions to reflect the fact that I left out the eggs--I strongly recommend that you check out this cookbook, which is full of awesome, healthy and fast ideas for vegetarian dinners.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. Chinese chili paste (I left it out because I was feeding this to my spicy-food-averse family)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 eggs, beaten (I left the eggs out because I was trying to be vegan, but they would be a good way to add even more protein!)
4 or 5 stalks bok choy, chopped (I used napa cabbage instead because that's what they had at my grocery store)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
4 cups rinsed and drained baby spinach (I used more like 8 cups, since spinach reduces dramatically)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups cooked rice (I use brown rice; it's better for you!)
1 tbsp soy sauce

In a large wok or skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat, warm the oil, chili paste (if using), salt and garlic. Cook for a few seconds, then add the bok-choy (or cabbage, in my case) and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the scallions and spinach and stir-fry until the spinach is just wilted. Add the corn and stir-fry for another minute, or until thoroughly hot and defrosted. Stir in the rice. When the rice is hot, mix in the soy sauce. Serve immediately.

Easy Baked Tofu (from Moosewood Simple Suppers)


1 cake firm tofu
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated peeled ginger root (I used a little dried ginger which was what I had on hand)
1 garlic clove, minced
(I also added a tsp. of brown sugar, and about 2 tsp. of rice vinegar)


Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the tofu into cubes (or slices, triangles... any shape you want!). Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and drizzle over the tofu. Gently turn or toss to coat thoroughly. Bake uncovered, stirring once or twice, until the oil is sizzling and the tofu is firm and chewy, 30 to 40 minutes.

I love eating this way--I wish I was organized enough to do it every night!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I'm Wearing

I think I'm going to return to doing weekly outfit posts here, because I really do like sharing outfits that I put together, and I think it helps me to put a little more care into what I'm wearing. I don't know if this really falls under the category of "dressing more like a grown-up," but I at least felt put-together in this outfit, and ready for a day of writing at home and running a few errands. Excuse my awkward pose--it was very windy, and I have yet to master the whole "self-timer" thing. I recently purchased a remote for my camera and I'm excited to play with it soon--hopefully it will make self-portraits much easier!

top - OK Tees
sweater - Target
belt - F21
jeans - GAP
boots - Target

I love this shirt! I purchased it from the OK Tees guys at Indie Emporium. I love how the heart is approximately over the actual location of my heart! Very cute.

I'm not working today, so I'm hoping to get some serious sewing, cleaning, and writing accomplished and to take a trip to the library. Tonight I start a new photography class! This one is on studio lighting, which is a topic I'm rather intimidated by and know very little about--here's hoping for the best!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Checking in on 24 before 25

I apologize for the fact that the above photo of me as a small child has absolutely nothing to do with this post... I just like it and I hate to post anything without a photo accompanying it!

I thought, in the spirit of the new year and making lists of goals, it might be a good time to check in on the list I made on my birthday. (The items in bold are things I've accomplished!)

24 Things Before I Turn 25

1. Participate in the 365 Project.
Ummm... abandoned.
2. Make homemade preserves.
I made amazing peach preserves when I visited Briel in Tuskahoma, and I made some awesome apple butter and gingered pear marmalade to give as gifts this Christmas!
3. Learn how to spin with a drop spindle.
Also accomplished in Tuskahoma!
4. Go to Dollywood.
Not yet! Maybe this spring or summer?
5. Go on a long hike.
6. Spend an afternoon reading outside.
7. Take a yoga class.
I've started going to Yoga once a week at the YMCA and it's amazing!
8. Sell my wares at a craft fair.
Sharing a table with May at Indie Emporium was definitely one of the highlights of the fall!
9. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This still needs to happen!
10. Volunteer at the Humane Society.
I think I'm going to start doing this in the next month or so!
11. Go to a show at Cain's.
On New Year's Eve I went to see Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey cover Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Beyonce, along with some other local artists. It was awesome!
12. Take a dance class.
No! But a new dance studio is opening just down the street from where I work... maybe the time is ripe to delve back into the world of adult ballet.
13. Throw a party.
14. Write a YA novel.
I'm working on it right now!
15. Get my photography certificate.
I'm signed up for 5 more photography classes this spring.
16. Go out dancing.
I think going to see jfjo counts, considering the amount of dancing that was going on at that show!
17. Go to a show at the Brady.
I went to see Vampire Weekend there in October!
18. Apply to Library Science grad school.
My applications will officially be complete on January 15!
19. Write a chick lit novel.
Done! That was my Nanowrimo novel this year.
20. Go to the Tulsa State Fair.
Yes! I went to the fair and saw amazing cakes and cute animals and ate waaaaay too much fried food.
21. Go to a show at the BOK Center.
22. Visit NYC.
Not yet, but my friend A and I have been talking about a trip there together sometime.
23. Attend a music festival.
No, but I'm researching and plotting....
24. Visit J in California.
This still needs to happen!

Not bad considering I'm less than 1/3 of the way to my next birthday! Does anybody else make goal lists at times other than New Year's? How are you doing on yours?

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Winter Photo Walk

I was lucky enough to receive a new Diana lens with an adaptor for my Nikon DSLR for Christmas! I love the look of lomography and I have a Diana film camera, but I am horrible at taking film in to get developed, so this was a whole new level of excitement and instant gratification for me. I took the new lens for a test-drive around my grandmother's snowy (and fantastically mid-century modern) neighborhood in the St. Louis suburbs--here are some of the results! (click to enlarge the photos to really get the full dreamy and saturated effect of the lens)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011!

photo by me

Hi there! It's been awhile. The holidays this year were incredibly hectic but also very, very fun, and now I'm working on settling into 2011 with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. The new year, so far, has been defined by chaos and family crises, and as a result I've put off making a serious start on my resolutions--but isn't that kind of the thing about New Year's Resolutions? There's always going to be chaos, and inconvenience, and, well, life getting in the way of our attempts to be better. The real trick comes in learning to jump in and make changes regardless of the circumstances.

New Year's Resolutions 2011

1. Finish a draft of my novel and submit query letters to agents. Whoa, is this a scary one! But I've been working on a project for a while that I'm very excited about, and I think this might finally be the year that I jump into this whole "writer" thing with both feet first. (Also the year I think up some less tired metaphors to describe the creative process!)

2. Get serious about healthy eating and exercise. I'm a pretty healthy eater, but I'd like to eat vegan meals more frequently and learn to avoid dairy without feeling deprived. I'd also like to try my hardest to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and veggies per day, keep going to weekly yoga classes, and try to exercise at least a couple more times per week, preferably outdoors.

3. Get good hair and good skin. This is so shallow! But as long as I'm being honest, I may as well admit that I'm in seeeerious need of a good haircut. I cut my own bangs a while ago and, well, it's still a problem. I also need to find a new dermatologist! I haven't been for about two years and, guess what, people? Adult acne doesn't just go away on its own.

4. Start dressing like a grownup on a regular basis. To me, this means I can still dress creatively and colorfully--I'd just like to have fewer days where I revert to jeans, TOM's, and a Threadless t-shirt.

5. Spend less time online (dramatically less) and more time reading real books (dramatically more). Guys, this is so hard! I've already completely failed at it this week, due mostly to a newfound obsession with the show Friday Night Lights. (It's on Netflix instant watch! And yes, that does count as time online). Basically, I've really been noticing over the last few months that my existence has been so overtaken by electronic media--T.V., the internet, Google Reader and email on my smartphone--that I have a hard time clearing my mind, like, ever. This is really disturbing to me, and I hope to make a serious effort this year to curb my addiction to the gadgets that complicate my life.

6. Grow & expand my blog and handmade business. This may seem like it's at odds with the previous resolution, but I think it's really all about time management--learning to be able to get online, do the task I set out to do, and close my computer. I'm so excited to blog with more frequency and start a rotation of regular features. I'm working on Elsie's Blog Love e-course right now and it's really inspiring me to take blogging more seriously! I'm also pretty psyched to start sewing some new springtime aprons and accessories for my shop!

7. Keep in better touch with far-away friends. I have so many incredible friends--the only problem is, they're scattered all over the globe! Awesome when I want an excuse to go on a trip, but not so awesome when I realize that I haven't done as good of a job keeping in touch with everybody since college as I would have liked. I want to email more joke you-tube videos, set up more skype dates, and send more letters and birthday cards!

8. Be responsible about going to the doctor. I haven't been to the doctor in... um... awhile. I just really hate setting up appointments! But this is going to be the year that all changes!

9. Go on at least one date. This is hands-down the scariest and most difficult one on the list. I don't even know where to begin! Online dating terrifies me, and I'm too shy to meet guys in real-life! Suggestions?

10. Travel as much as possible and go on at least one adventure per month. Nothing helps me get perspective like getting away from it all, even if it's just for the day! I want to take trips to see my friends, trips with my family, and day-trips to see museums, go to gallery openings, and eat food more often!

11. Go back to school & move away from home. The wheels have been set in motion on this one... I'm waiting to hear back from several schools where I've applied to Master's degree programs in library and information science. Will I fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a librarian? Hopefully, this will be the year that I start working toward that goal!

12. Try to always focus on the positive and enjoy this phase of my life. I spend way too much time worrying about and planning for the future... I need to learn how to be more present! Yoga helps, simplifying my possessions and routines helps.

I know this seems like an ridiculously long list of goals, but my theory on New Year's Resolutions has always been "Go big or go home!" You'll never achieve anything if you don't make an insanely detailed list of goals first, right? I think some famous philosopher probably said that. Probably. (Resolution #13: Make fewer lists).