Last week I spent a lot of time making bread.
I was trying to make a Jack-o-Lantern Loaf by carving a face in the top just before baking. It never quite worked so I gave up on the idea for the time being, but it served as a fantastic crash course in bread baking.
The main problem was that when the dough was too wet I ended up with a smiley face, and when I made the dough stiffer it wouldn’t allow itself to be formed into a ball and the one face that did turn out ended up on a loaf that had propped itself up (like a laptop opening, or, you know, a book, those paper thingies).
I chose the recipe for Nigel Slater’s “A Really Good and Very Easy White Loaf” from this post at The Amateur Gourmet. There is nothing like a little taunting to get me to move into action in just under a year. The loaf turns out adorably rounded, and the very first comment says it resembles a pumpkin, which must have stuck with me until now because it was the first recipe I thought of when I decided to make jack-o-lantern bread.
The recipe as is calls for eight cups of flour which makes a very impressively sized loaf that would be perfect to casually display when you expect guests to come around. But, halving the recipe makes a loaf that is plenty big enough for two people. I suggest cutting it while it’s still warm inside and melt Halloween chocolate between slices, it is so good that way. Also, it’s the perfect vehicle for pumpkin butter.
I also decided to make an early Halloween dinner and made the Prosciutto version of an Awful Edible Flesh Worm.
I included sauteed kale as Swamp Greens and mashed cauliflower as Maggot Mash. (Cut cauliflower into pieces which you steam the crap out of, mash in a bowl and add a little butter and a little half-n-half, salt and pepper, surprisingly delicious.) Too bad it wasn’t a Farmers Market Wednesday, I was really hoping to find purple cauliflower so I could call it Gray Matter!
· comments  · 10-31-2007 · categories:food · halloween ·
I had enough posts to cover the Design*Sponge guest blog for another week. This week interviews with Alicia Paulson, Susan Beal and Amy Karol have gone up. Later this week is Cinnamon from Poise and Daria from Glamscience.
I wanted to do a little follow-up with what is going on with the lovely ladies of the interviews, in order of appearance:
Suzy‘s Frock Shop was a Finalist for Peoples’ Pick of Best Boutique at nwsource.com and was listed in Seattle Magazine’s issue of Best Shops. I absolutely love this hearts and horses scarf even though I wasn’t a horsey girl, and I’m still going through that flat wallet-love so this checkerboard wallet is calling to me.
Kristen announced that next year’s Plush You show will be so big it needs to be held in two places next year. Also, she is having a signing for her Plush You book at Elliott Bay Books this Saturday, Nov. 3rd.
Paola put up a fantastic post about taking product photos, with some extremely helpful before and after comparisons. She edits photos using Picasa which is free and owned by Google. Also, this mid-century modern interiors coloring book which she has in her shop looks amazing.
Alicia is busy finishing her book which comes out next year (?) and I’m looking forward to an awful lot. Go Alicia go!
Susan has announced her new jewelry making book Bead Simple which will be available March of 2008 but you can pre-order it on Amazon now. I got to peek inside the book and it’s beautiful, starts with the basics and has a friendly tone. It’s probably going to get me into making jewelry for the first time. There is more information at beadsimple.com.
Amy will be having a signing for her book Bend-the-Rules Sewing (which I love) next Thursday at Bolt fabric shop in Portland. There will be gifts for those who bring a finished product made from a pattern in the book!
Cinnamon is busy getting ready for the DIY Trunk Show in Chicago on Nov. 17th, which I wish I could attend.
Daria is busy getting ready for the Queen Anne Artists Trunk Show here in Seattle on Nov. 10th. I’m planning on picking up a few glittery things from Daria at that show.
· comments  · 10-31-2007 · categories:craft · events · mumbling ·
Congratulations to Rare Device on the opening of their San Francisco shop! See pictures here at Design*Sponge.
Congratulations to Mighty Goods on the opening of their site of stuff for kids, Mighty Junior! I really need the guidance on what to buy for a very smart five year old next month, this is perfect.
Delight is celebrating their half-year-iversary with a $200 shopping spree
Congratulations to Craft on having their Last-Minute Halloween costumes on the CBS Early Show! Susan Beal made the monkey costume, and Diana Eng made the Lego and Sushi. You can find instructions here.
This Saturday, Nov. 3rd, Kristen Rask will be at Elliot Bay Books with local plush artist, SOWA. to sell the newly released Plush You! book. SOWA will be also doing a demonstration on how to go from 2 dimensional sewing to 3 dimensional. Good times.
Thursdays are Craft Day on the Chronicle Books blog and they have announced that they are looking for five intarsia knitters to submit patterns to get into the next knitting book, Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek.
It’s the season for those nouveau craft shows:
– Bust Craftacular in NY is Saturday, Dec. 8th.
– Chicago’s DIY Trunk Show is Nov. 17th.
– Urban Craft Uprising here in Seattle will be December 1st and 2nd at the Seattle Center.
– The Queen Anne Artists Trunk Show will be Nov. 10th here in Seattle at the QA Community Center. It’s being organized by our very own Daria of Glamscience!
· comments  · 10-30-2007 · categories:craft · shopping ·
Awful Edible Fleshworms at I Make Projects. These are Prosciutto or bacon wrapped pork tenderloins which sound quite delicious but look so revolting.
Also at I Make Projects, How To Make a Charred Corpse (oh my god do not look at that!!).
DIY costume wings roundup at Bleu Arts.
Excellent Vampire Cupcakes at Baking Bites
Leftovers that didn’t make it into the Extreme Pumpkins book.
A town in Novia Scotia races boats carved from giant pumpkins at Chow.
Make your own Halloween candy bars at Chow. Just don’t try to give them to trick or treaters.
Yum, Spicy Pumpkorn at Cool Hunting.
Halloween themed games to download at Casual Gameplay.
The Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories dressed up as A Traveling Exhibition of Modern Art for Halloween.
LJC made a charming little Bat Tree
The Cupcake Queen’s cupcake graveyard, I really like the ones with eyes.
Bleu Arts is selling a fleece Leia Wig.
and things found via Craft:
hooded cape pattern
Halloween garland download from My Paper Crane
how to make a Magic Mirror
spiky candycorn pumpkin
monster finger chapstick cozy
· comments  · 10-29-2007 · categories:halloween ·
Last year I had a lot of fun making the creepy crawly cakes so I decided to try a few again this year. This time I pulled out my Betty Crocker mini bake and fill pans and bought a box of chocolate cake mix and some Pocky. I made whipped cream (vanilla pudding would work too) and raspberry coulis (I left the seeds in) for spider guts. I also made some cupcakes to fill, tested one using a bakery bought cupcake and did a frosting variation, the Pocky legs can take an awfully long time. Pocky leg instruction can be found mid-page here.
the dome cakes:
I found the filling stayed in fine without any icing glue, but I do think this would have looked great with a chocolate glaze poured over it.
I love love love the many sugar eyes.
the filled cupcakes:
the bakery cupcakes:
This is a Triple Chocolate from Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle. If you don’t have time to bake but think Pocky legs are doable, I think this turned out fantastic.
the non-pocky dome cake:
I used a milk chocolate fudge icing from a can – I figured the fudge icing would be a little stiffer. I like this effect a lot. Again I would have loved to have glazed these with chocolate, a shiny spider body would be so dramatic here.
Last year I tried pretty hard to make molten chocolate spider cakes but didn’t figure out quite how to pull it off. So, if you can imagine cutting through the side of this one and having the warm center come oozing out, that would be my ideal chocolate spider cake dessert.
the non-pocky cupcake:
I did this will a full sized cupcake and one I cut in half doing the Seinfeld muffin top thing. I like the way the short cupcake looks but it would make for a rather skimpy dessert. I would use a smaller dome pan or egg-shaped pan next time.
I linked to this last year but it’s worth a second time – Hannah made a giant spider cake using the large Bake and Fill pan and Peppridge Farm Pirouette cookies to make the legs. I totally adore it.
p.s. Oh lookit! My crawly cakes from last year were featured on DrRuth.com yesterday.
· comments  · 10-26-2007 · categories:food · halloween ·
Apparently there are some technical difficulties with my posts over at the Design*Sponge guest blog, so an interview with Alicia Paulson meant for yesterday and my posts for today aren’t up yet. Of course, I cannot recreate the error here and carefully cleaned up html doesn’t seem to help, seems that is always the case.
· comments  · 10-26-2007 · categories:mumbling ·
When Shauna asked if I would be a part of the virtual tour for her book Gluen-Free Girl she gave a few ideas for framing the entry. I decided eating gluten-free for a day would be the most fun. Of course, when my chosen day arrived I was completely unprepared.
Before I start – much of the day below takes account of what I wasn’t able to eat or do. This was irresponsible on my part since Shauna’s book is not about what living gluten-free means one has to give up – it’s about entirely, joyfully, the opposite. I recorded my day before I read the book (again, completely unprepared, irresponsible of me) and I’m sure her intention was for me to discover what I was not missing out on. I apologize to Shauna for very probably getting the point all wrong. Here is the thing though, I learned an amazing amount from cutting this one thing out of my life for 24 hours and trying to interact will all of the stuff I’m surrounded by. I wouldn’t give up this learning experience.
Had I read the book before I set out on this day I would have known the answer to every question I asked during my day. While the book informs, it does it through telling her story which is moving and entertaining. Recipes are included in each chapter, recipes that I’ve bookmarked to make for myself. And at the end is a love story that brought tears to my eyes while I was sitting on my couch, next to Scott, who was playing Resident Evil 4. And even though I’d come across many of those stories on her site already, not even the big spiky monster could get me to look up while I was reading those pages.
My gluten-free day gave me a much richer understanding of what avoiding wheat gluten means to those with celiac, and Shauna gave me a much richer understanding of what avoiding wheat gluten doesn’t have to mean.
If you don’t know about it already, I insist you go visit Shauna’s site, Gluten-Free Girl, her stories and recipes always bring a bit of shininess back into my day. If you have celiac and don’t know already, Shauna’s husband is the chef at Impromptu Bistro and he’s made the restaurant gluten friendly with the option of gluten-free pasta and strictly contained areas for preparing gluten foods so you don’t have to fret over any detail.
Ok, here we go. I wake up and…
Oh god I hope there isn’t gluten in my Folgers coffee. [Read more →]
· comments  · 10-25-2007 · categories:books · food · links ·
I have three posts up on Design*Sponge’s guest blog today – and interview with Paola from mirrormirror, a post about CB2 wall hangings and a short post about some exquisite chocolate skulls.
· comments  · 10-24-2007 · categories:mumbling ·
My two latest posts are on Design*Sponge – an interview with Kristen Rask of Schmancy who just had the Plush You! show here in Seattle and whose Plush You book came out this month. I also have a post about how much I love Halloween hats.
· comments  · 10-23-2007 · categories:mumbling ·
I’m a guest blogger over at Design*Sponge this week and my first posts are up. I’ve finally (finally) put together some information on window films. I’ve also taken the opportunity to interview a few women I know who own their own businesses and the first one is up – Suzy Fairchild who owns the Frock Shop here in Seattle. I’ve got more interviews and some Halloween posts coming along.
Here is a picture of my kitchen window that I didn’t need for the post on window films:
On the other side of this film is my neighbor’s beige siding, I much prefer looking at this while I’m doing dishes.
· comments  · 10-22-2007 · categories:mumbling ·
Eton FR300 emergency radio
With a hand crank, flashlight, cell phone charger, and the ability to listen in on broadcast tv stations. Last week we had a very minor windstorm and half our neighborhood lost power, so I figure we’ll spend at least a few days this winter hand cranking our way to NPR. I admit I need this less to save me from lack of communications, and more to save me from boredom while I lack internet access. The Wall Street Journal called it the best emergency radio. Also, it comes in red and silver and orange.
I like to make pumpkins that are worried, Scott likes to make pumpkins that antagonize mine.
Minea Farm fruit leather
The plum is really good. Minea Farm makes cider on a century old press, it’s really good too.
Maldon sea salt
We had used up the last of our old sea salt and the poached eggs this morning just weren’t as good.
Blue Bottle coffee
The beans smell so good.
· comments  · 10-22-2007 · categories:up to ·
We have CSAs for produce directly from farms, so why not for farms that raise animals for fiber? It makes sense to me but it’s not something I had ever thought about, so I was delighted when the good people at Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm contacted me to tell me about their Yarn CSA (the first ever!) and to offer one share of the 2008 CSA to a lucky Not Martha reader.
The share in the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm gives you a portion of the year’s yarn as well as “a shareholders certificate, weekly email updates on whatâ€™s going on around the farm and an invitation to our Shearing Day Celebration”. The people at the farm are very forthcoming to non-shareholders as well, on their site they have pictures of the flock, a page on their farm dogs and a blog telling us what’s going on. And what gift do you get for the knitter who has everything? A yarn CSA share would be perfection, no?
I was lucky enough to get to touch some yarn from last year’s shearing of Cormo Wool, it’s substantial and surprisingly soft. When I do the Touch It To The Back Of My Hand test it passes easily, and even as I type this I cannot stop reaching out to squeeze it. The yarn comes undyed, and the farm is anticipating that each shareholder will get 10 skeins the first year. They also offer Spinner’s shares for both roving and raw fleece. More details can be found on the site.
I asked Susan Gibbs about the Shearing Day celebration had this to report: “Our Shearing Day Celebration is going to be amazing. I am shooting for April. We will be inviting other friends and especially other sheep and wool people as well. Depending on the response we are either going to have a local cafe do box lunches or a buffet. I’m also going to ask some of the other yarn farms on Island if they like to set up vendor booths and sell their yarns. We have a pretty good fiber guild and I am going to try to schedule a someone to give spinning and weaving demos.”
Sounds lovely doesn’t it?
If you’d like to win a share to the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm CSA Spring 2008 Harvest please leave a comment on this post. Fine print: I’m the only one that can see the email address you enter (but don’t put it in the comment field), you don’t have to leave your real name if you don’t want to, if I have not heard from the first person in seven days a new winner will be chosen, if you have never left a comment here before I’ll need to approve it before it publishes so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away, the winner will be chosen by the random number generator. I’ll choose the winner on Wednesday, October 24th at 8:00 p.m. PST.
The CSA Share is worth quite a lot, so I want to say a hearty thank you to the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm and wish them a very good year.
· comments  · 10-19-2007 · categories:craft · knitting ·
The fan on the graphics card of my elderly computer stopped working last night, so until I can replace it I’m limited to what I can get done on the laptop. This is really not so bad, but it makes getting images off my camera and onto this site laborious, so please excuse the cell phone picture for the moment.
Progress on my gray sweater has been slow [Read more →]
· comments  · 10-17-2007 · categories:knitting ·
· comments  · 10-16-2007 · categories:food ·
What am I getting myself into?, somebody considering moving to Seattle runs across the article about the Seattle Freeze. At Ask Metafilter.
Orangette’s honeymoon, a travel resource and a beautiful little escape for you while you’re reading.
The Boeing Surplus Store is closing, I must visit before it’s gone.
3 places on 15th Ave we should visit more often, I love that they admit to being shy as one of the reasons that keeps them away.
This weekend guide at Daily Candy convince me I need to see Velocity’s new space with the mention of a Tord Boontje wall mural. Ooh.
Cider, unabridged, a follow up to Search & Distill a story in Seattle Weekly about Washington state hard ciders.
· comments  · 10-15-2007 · categories:seattle ·