Friday, July 2, 2010

They're Finished!

I started these quilts back in November when we purchased the twin toddler beds for Little Ms. A and Channy. I thought it would be a nice touch to have quilts in the same color scheme and theme. Green for Channy, pink for A.

As you might have guessed, one thing led to another and there were long stretches of me NOT working on these quilts. I also decided to do the appliqué with a ragged edge (there was no way I was going to seam them into the background) and then hand quilt around the edges.

Of course I had to hand bind them too. I was never good with a thimble and I think I have a permanent numb spot on my right middle finger. But I am pleased with the results. Below is a detail of Channy's quilt with the embroidered deer (he's a huge deer fan).

I am even more pleased with the fact that both of my little ones adore their quilts and use them each night.

Still on the path...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I am really into bread. I was always into carbs even when the no carb craze was at it's peak. How could I say no to potatoes? Bagels? Bread to hug my sandwich? I never got into that craze. Actually, I've never really been into any diet craze. Too time consuming. I do well with just eating when I have physical hunger and stopping just before I'm full. That's it. It's hard sometimes, but it truly works. I can't make the food behave (i.e. take out all the fat, carbs, sugars, and eat 'diet' food), but I can make me behave. 'Me' is always at the heart of the matter, right?

Ouch. I get another little stab when I see that all typed out. So true. In my case, really.

Well, my therapy lately has been a quest to discover how to make bread. Really, REALLY good bread. I'm discovering that I will ultimately need a wood-fired oven in my back yard (I have already downloaded plans for one). Until then, my little oven and I are trying to figure it out.

Bread baking is truly a science and an art. I can weigh my ingredients, have a gorgeous starter going, only to have one batch turn out drastically different than the other. That is, I feel, also the beauty of baking.

Like sketching or knitting, I sometimes just need to feel the repetitive motion with my fingers. I enjoy the scritch/scratch of the lead on paper, the click of my needles and the feel of the dough in between my fingers.

After many batches of ciabatta, I can almost feel the dough and know if it's not going to have those huge holes and crunchy crust. I have only tried the bagels twice. The first time I didn't have enough flour and the dough was too soft and sticky.

The second time I let them get a little two brown and used salt grains that were too large. So that batch ended up looking more like round pretzels than bagels. Both batches tasted really nice.

I've been doing all of my bread baking lately out of this wonderful book. It is not the easy route, let me tell you. But I really wanted to do artisan breads and no matter what the recipes say, I think that most true rustic, artisan bread can't be done in a few hours. Also why I want one of these.

I was never a fan of the bread machine but I understood why it was popular. It wasn't that the bread was bad, but it wasn't good either. I liked the crust, the smell of the yeast, the heat of the oven. Sometimes my mom would decide to bake bread and it was a lovely smell.

Now we're still trying to eat up my experiments here at home and I'm really itching to try this lovely recipe for babka. I just have to empty out a few tomato cans and I'm all set!

On the path...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I say Hello, Hello, Hello...

Back when I was in high school I convinced my parents to become a host home for three weeks to a short-term exchange student. I was actually always pushing them out of their comfort zone, which they ended up enjoying. They told me this later, but I always assumed they would be up for all that stuff. It seemed perfectly fine to me.

They're probably thinking, "What if this child is not well-behaved? What if she has conflicts with the family members? What if she gets sick?" I'm thinking, "Awesome." That's about it.

She was incredible. A girl I keep in touch with to this day. We LOVED her and still LOVE her. Capitals. Well, one week we decided to take her to Kings Island for a day of eating too much sugar and riding crazy rides. She was always trying to practice her diction and had problems with the letter H. So we taught her the Beatles song, Hello. Aaaaaand we sang it the. entire. day. How irritating could we be at 15? Well it turns out, I was right. It was awesome.

So that was a super long story to say hello again to you. I am so very sorry that I stayed away so long. I really missed this little spot here. I always look forward to post-Christmas quiet and I am always hit with a super busy schedule mid-January. That starts my busy time for work and with the rounds of layoffs that happened last year, I was busier than usual.

Unfortunately I had to put a lot of crafting and blogging on hold in order to keep my priorities in check. I missed keeping up, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I sailed through the busiest time I have had in a long time without tears, breakdowns and everyone somehow had clean underwear. Good, no?

We have truly been enjoying our play room. This used to be a guest bedroom and one day, while my husband and I sat in our living room among piles upon piles of toys, books, crayons and picking plastic dinosaurs out from underneath our bums, we realized something. We needed to take back our living room. Besides, when our parents visit, we usually end up letting them have our room anyway. Our house is not a hotbed of overnight visitor activity.

So we took out the dresser and bed and put in shelving. I even made some fab fabric bins from this tutorial. Now it is a room full of organized chaos and lots and lots of fun!

I ended up finding a sweet children's table from of all places. It's my virtual garage sale, I love it. I don't know about your neighborhood, but I believe that my neighborhood is the best place for garage sales. So, when it's not garage sale season, I like to surf craigslist.

We do so many crafts on this table. We can also have a great place for Chutes and Ladder, Hi-Ho Cherrio, and other games.

Baking was still going on and instead of cookies this year, we had copious amounts of chocolate cupcakes for Easter:

I mean, haven't you heard of the Easter cupcake? No? Urm, well.

We did have fun this winter and welcomed spring with open arms!

We're back. I hope you had a great year so far. Stay on that path!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When the Day Sucks ... Make Soup

This week was a hard one on me and subsequently, our family. Things have changed quite a bit at work, making my schedule very hectic and very stressful. Fortunately, I work from home. Unfortunately, I work from home. So my family felt the pressure and stress right along with me.

Friday was a particularly difficult day. I had stayed up until 2AM the night before working under a tight deadline. The next morning, we found out that the babysitter was up the previous night with the stomach flu (we're happy to report that she is doing much better). I had a major deadline and tried to keep up with phone calls, spreadsheets and mind-boggling details while trying to corral my toddlers and being sleep-deprived to boot.

After a few breakdowns, we decided to get some doughnuts. Because, what else can you do when you're completely frazzled but go have a doughnut? With chocolate ganache? Then when we pulled into the library to rent a Pingu movie, we saw that they were closed for a furlough day. Urg. Much crying in the back of the car.

We all went stir-crazy, the littlest one fell down the wood stairs and I shut off my computer and hunkered down. Not knowing what to do with all the tears and frustration (all three of us), and the fact that we had nowhere to go, I decided we should make some soup.

I LOVE homemade chicken soup. I went to our freezer and got out a bunch of thighs, wings and drumsticks and went to work. The kids supervised, dumped in the chopped veggies as they were finished, measured out the spices, poured in the stock and started to perk up a bit. So did I.

While our soup was simmering, I got out this beloved cookbook:

We regularly watch Lidia Bastianich on our public television station and her show is it. I have done more recipes from Ms. Lidia than I ever would from a Food Network star. Sorry FN, I really like you, but this lady rocks.

One of my favorite things to make are her noodles with the three eggs (she rates her noodles in richness due to the amount of eggs). They are the perfect texture and taste for almost any dish. We just rolled out our dough, cut it into strips and put them in the soup about 10 minutes before serving.

The noodles were kind of thick, so you really don't need any fancy dough rollers. Just a good rolling pin and some muscle. The pizza cutter makes short work of cutting out all those strips. Upon reflection, I think I would have made these strips even smaller as they really puffed up in the soup.

So, when daddy finally got home and we had our soup, our day slowly started getting better.

On the path...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Woah! Winter Wilndess

Yesterday, the kids and I went out to let the snowflakes fall on our faces and just get out for a bit. It was encouraging until I stepped into my yard. Every year we re-seed this exact patch of ground and every year, the grass just disappears. Anyone else ever have this problem?

Just like last summer (which wasn't really a summer, that was our fall), this winter has been pretty wild. It was mild with no snow for a while and then WHAM! We're hit with a blizzard (right in between Christmas and New Year's on our eight hour drive). Thank you nature. ;)

Now, when we're ready for some cross country skiing, just as we're getting out our skis and boots and the excitement is building ... the snow melts. Well, not entirely. It's sort of in the gross, half-melted brown stage with the crusty top.

Well, I certainly haven't been away from the Creative Path because of weather. Just as the holidays brings on travel, shopping, to-do lists, etc. I think that January is a little of the same: cleaning, organizing, starting a new year. I have been creating, I just haven't been posting.

I did get some wonderful books that I'll share with you soon. One of them has inspired me to start a rag rug project. I'm positive I won't have a finished pic for you anytime soon, but I'll definitely be updating you on the project and will let you know how easy or hard it turned out to me (my guess is easy, just time consuming).

Staying on the path!