Not Martha

neat things related to the home

Wall straps at Product Dose.

Flying carpet with felt padding to create a lounging area, at Charles & Marie.

A neat trick for outdoor lighting involving winding Christmas lights around a wreath form, at Modern Roost.

Easy pane of glass kitchen backspalsh at Apartment Therapy.

Low-maintenance houseplants at Ask Metafilter.

· comments [0] · 11-15-2006 · categories:the home ·

my first bread

Mark Bittman’s article about Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread came along just as I was considering making bread for the first time. So I made this bread and I suppose I’m spoiled for the rest of my life. It was so little work and the bread was so, well, awesome. The inside was chewy yet airy, and the crust was crunchy but not too tough (though Scott called it “dangerous and shardy”).

Here is the article, the recipe and the video which is reassuring to watch if you are as noob as I am, since I wouldn’t have quite believed there was so little word to do. Also the folding of the dough to form a ball is good to know about. Go there now, as I suspect it’s all about to disappear behind a pay wall.

I did manage to screw a few things up. The dough stuck to my kitchen towel after the second rise despite a serious layer of flour, and I could be found vigorously shaking sticky dough which would not come loose (those glutens, boy) off of my towel into a very hot casserole dish. Also, while I would have loved nothing more than to use this recipe as an excuse to get a 6 quart Le Creuset enameled cast iron dutch oven (I even would have been happy with the Mario Batali dutch oven… in persimmon), I settled for using my very old 4-quart Corningware casserole dish, which turned out to be big enough for the job. However, I think it might have been damaged by the 450-degree oven so it might never be the same.

There is something about this mostly hands off process that inspires one to take pictures, and here are mine:

Smitten Kitten kept notes and pictures as well (she is far more eloquent than I) and points to a whole bunch of others, including ones popping up on Flickr – nokneadbread and noknead.

update: The Kitchen has an excellent no-knead bread round up, including the changes some people are making. Looks like people might prefer using a smaller pot.

second addition: Chow follows up and includes some of the collective recipe changes.

See also: The Amateur Gourmet implores us to try this recipes for Nigel Slater’s “A Really Good and Very Easy White Loaf.”

You can read a little more about my bread making adventures here at Readymade.

I’d like to add that this bread is great dipped in a good olive oil as it gives me a chance to mention that the olive oil I bought earlier this year based on the pretty label just happened to be named one of the best tasting olive oils in a recent Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Pretty labels rule.

· comments [1] · 11-14-2006 · categories:food ·

candy canes and chicken poop

Long checkout line + much blog reading = informed impulse purchases.

Candy Cane Kisses, reviewed favorably at Candy Blog.

Chicken Poop lip balm, declared “damn fine lip balm” at Sundry Buzz.

· comments [0] · 11-14-2006 · categories:shopping ·

Daily Candy Seattle

Daily Candy is coming along with a Seattle edition, set to launch in early December.

· comments [0] · 11-13-2006 · categories:seattle · shopping ·

Ambrosia Apples

I was gonna post about these but I ate the apples before I got to snap a picture, so this post at The Stranger about the new(ish) Ambrosia apple will do.

On the subject of apples The Splendid Table talks with Dr. David Bedford, one of the creators of the award-winning Honeycrisp apple, and did a tasting of apples on the September 23rd show titled Donuts (starting at 20:55). Did you know the Honeycrisp apple took 30 years to develop? Worth it.

· comments [0] · 11-13-2006 · categories:food ·

Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts

The Craftster Guide to Nifty, Thrifty, and Kitschy Crafts, Fifty Fabulous Projects from the Fifties and Sixties is a resuscitation of those crafts your grandmother or mother grew up with. I myself am not a fan of kitsch beyond the window shopping sense so while I appreciated the whimsy of some of the things in this book they aren’t things I would make for myself, which isn’t to say I wouldn’t make them for somebody who I know would like them. The book has projects I’ve seen before (melted record bowls, cigar box purse, toothbrush bracelet), projects I liked the book’s take on (etched martini pitcher, sweater teapot cozy) and projects I want to make (headbands with a button and elastic loop, your own knitting loom, and glamorous paper decorations). Almost every project has pictures of the finished object combined with a vintage inspiration photo which is fun to compare. The directions are clear and the pictures in nice full color and when combined with the general exuberance of the tone and I really like this book.

· comments [0] · 11-13-2006 · categories:books · craft ·


Chow talks about a new no-knead method of baking bread that is given the thumbs up by Harold McGee and turns out to actually be a very, very old method.

Ugly Green Chair introduces me to the Ginger Rogers (mint, ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, gin, and ginger ale) by way of Daily Candy. Oh thank you.

Peanut Butter Popcorn at The Kitchen.

Orecchiette at Delicious Days.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes at Bakingsheet.

· comments [0] · 11-10-2006 · categories:drink · food · recipes ·

Choo choo! Check out the rock candy smoke. It’s so cute my brain hurts a little.

Williams-Sonoma always has some baking item I lust over but simply don’t need (pumpkin cake pan, stadium pan!) but this season there are a few items which are really tempting me. First is the Railyway cake pan. It’s a train, a whole train, with an engine and a caboose! I’m so excited. (Now, one could do the same with some cleverly decorated mini loaf cakes…) The other thing tempting me is this 3-D cookie set. I’ve seen 3-D cookies before but I find the way it’s all packaged together for you oddly comforting.

· comments [1] · 11-9-2006 · categories:shopping · things I think are neat ·

I have a stack of books I’ve been meaning to mention here. So, here’s to trying to get one up every other day, or so.

In Stitches by Amy Butler. I was completely taken in by the special pocket containing patterns which is closed by a sticker and the spiral binding, so easy to leave open in front of you. The book itself is simply charming. The projects in this book are fantastic, they are whimsical and practical things I would not only make but also use. At the moment I’m most taken by the fabric boxes, I’ve been wandering around my house envisioning colorful boxes tucked on shelves. The illustrations with the directions are clear, and the colors and photography make everything so very appealing. See more about the book, including pictures and a list of projects inside, at Amy Butler’s site here.

· comments [0] · 11-9-2006 · categories:books · craft · sewing ·

Last Saturday I braved heavy rains and early holiday shoppers to see the Tord Boontje things at Target. The stores are decorated with his designs, what look like huge versions of his Until Dawn curtains, it’s amazingly cheerful. You can find the dinnerware for sale in the Target’s Red Hot Shop. But what I really loved was the selection of his things in the seasonal section. There are paper garlands, pictured above and reminiscent of the Fairy Tail cards. There is also a darling advent calendar garland (also pictured above), glass votive holders (much like the Table Stories designs) and plastic LED decorative lights. There was an empty hook labeled window clings which I was intrigued enough by to travel to a second Target in an attempt to find. After I got there two friends bumped into me at an aisle at the second Target staring at a completely empty display. So I suspect if you’d like to get any Tord Boontje holiday things, you might want to act quickly.

· comments [0] · 11-8-2006 · categories:christmas · shopping ·

I live in a state with mail in ballots, it makes it incredibly easy to vote. But I have to admit I do miss going to the polls. In Cleveland this meant going to my high school gym where a group of volunteers would offer me cookies and a sticker after I came out of the curtained box and ask how my parents were. In San Francisco the polls were the deliveries garage of a hotel a half a block away from my apartment, the same dignified man in a good suit would hand me my ballots each year and everybody there was quiet. Another downside to the mail in ballot system is that it can take a while for the counting to get done, so today I’ll be watching as things unfold and hoping we get solid results in under a week. Go out and vote today, and afterwards you can listen to this segment on NPR where Melissa Block interviews two voice over artists who get a lot of work on attack ads, and they manage to make nursery rhymes sound threatening. via The Morning News.

· comments [0] · 11-7-2006 · categories:mumbling ·

The nonstop rain and cold have descended upon us so I’m thinking about warm food:

Broccoli spaghetti frittata, we made this last week, it was perfect. At The Kitchen.

Baked oatmeal at Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

Gently poached pears with ginger and cloves, at Domicile, yum.

· comments [0] · 11-6-2006 · categories:food · recipes ·

If you live in Portland you’re lucky enough to be able to attend the Studio Craft trunk show tomorrow. Look for the beautiful things that Alicia of Posie will be selling, everything she does is wonderful. Show details.

· comments [0] · 11-3-2006 · categories:craft · shopping ·

I missed out on seeing Amy Sedaris when she was here last week on tour for her book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. I pulled the most common of my lazy sins and waited too long to buy tickets, and then they were sold out. But I hear the book is fabulous and plan to make a special trip to acquire it this weekend.

· comments [0] · 11-3-2006 · categories:books · drink · food · misc ·

A few people wrote in to show me their versions of the creepy crawly cakes, and I loved them all, however many of the letters had self deprecating comments in them: “mine aren’t as good as yours…” I know this is meant as a form of compliment, but it made me realize I didn’t show you what came before the treats I eventually presented. So, in the spirit of living up to the name of this site I offer this behind the scenes action.

I started thinking about these a year ago, I mentioned needing specific pans last Halloween. I started test baking in early September and ended up with something entirely different than I had planned out. Originally I wanted to make molten chocolate cakes in the form of spiders, so that when you cut into them with a fork they’d bleed dark chocolate, ewwww. What I learned was that making dome shaped molten chocolate cakes is hard to get right, and that piped chocolate legs melt when inserted into warm cake (duh). Here is a list of things that didn’t work:

– one boxed cake mix

– two molten chocolate cake recipes

– lots of variations on greasing pans for smooth cake release

– five different cake pans

– sauce legs (though I might come back to this)

– piped chocolate legs

– piped chocolate legs melting when poked into warm cake

– lots of broken pocky legs

– my ability to visualize spider anatomy without research

– one last chocolate cake recipe (not molten, still botched it)

– planning Black Window colorings

I kept notes for myself as I went along. You can see them on here. That page is a list of my failures, you don’t even need to read the notes, just scroll down and peek at the pictures. In the end a burned thumb forced me to take my snack cake backup route, and by that time I had worked the kinks out of the Pocky legs. Who in their right mind would continue on after a year and a string of failures? I have documentation to show that that person is me.

I’m not finished with this cake though. I am now the owner of a shiny new mini bake n’ fill domed cake pan (as seen on TV!) and some super special chocolate from England. I’ll likely be baking spider cakes well past Thanksgiving.


You can see some adorable spider cakes made by Greeting Arts, some turned up on Flickr here by Kay and Matt (hee: spider killbot army!) and here by Queequeg18. And this one made by Hannah makes me feel like my snack has already been pimped: It’s a huge spider cake using Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies for the legs. She used the full sized as-seen-on-tv Bake n’ Fill pan, which has tempted me in the past.

· comments [0] · 11-2-2006 · categories:craft · mumbling ·