Not Martha

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reading:
The Daring Book for Girls

I wish this book exisited when I was young. It’s a hefty book full of information (complete with charts, illustrations and pictures) on a huge variety of topics – historical figures, karate stances, tide charts, how to paddle a canoe, how to build a campfire, the rules of all sorts of games, and profiles of modern princesses. I cannot think of a better gift for every single girl you know, no matter what her age.

sipping
hot cocoa made from Green & Black’s Cocoa Powder

Unable to find a hot chocolate mix at our small local grocery we settled for cocoa powder. This is the first cocoa I’ve made by mixing cocoa powder, milk and sugar that tastes like a yummy drink and not cocoa powder, milk and sugar mixed together. It’s good.

baking:
lemon poppyseed icebox shortbread cookies

When making large batches for cookie swaps, I find that freeze/slice/bake cookies eliminate the potential for holiday frustration-fueled feelings of inadequacy.

loving:
large painted canvas tote bag from Old Navy

I use extra large tote bags to carry packages to the post office. This painted tote offers a bit of waterproofness to the bottom. The handles and stitching are that yellow green, and it’s very sturdy. Happy me. (p.s. I could not find this one in the stores.)

playing:
Ico

This game was made by the same people who did Shadow of the Colossus, but it came a few years earlier. I’m glad I tracked down a copy, the setting — a huge castle you need to find your way out of — is breathtaking. It’s one of those rare games that is well put together, completely engaging and sweepingly romantic.

· comments [17] · 12-10-2007 · categories:up to ·

Lola’s South City Bakery on Rainier Ave.

This morning was bright and clear so we walked a few blocks to the bakery/cafe that recently opened in our neighborhood. Lola’s South City Bakery is in Hillman City on Rainier just north of Orcas Street. The place is small, with a few tables inside. They offer a menu of lunch type items including sandwiches and pizzas, and have a display case with breads and pastries. I am completely smitten with the place.

Today they had small and large (and stylish) sourdough, bagettes, a huge round country loaf that would have looked great as a centerpiece for a dinner party, a flat olive loaf that had a rough honeycomb look to it (which I’m planning to return for tomorrow), and some beautiful spelt loaves.

We bought a baguette, cinnamon roll and rye currant bun. The cinnamon roll wasn’t too sweet, and the glaze was slightly crunchy while the dough was light and pulled apart wonderfully. The rye current bun was amazing and made me wish we’d bought a dozen. It was savory and called out for butter and a cup of tea. The outside was satisfyingly crunchy and the inside was firm enough to stand up to having slightly cold butter spread on it. The flavors were hearty, and there was the flavor of honey underneath it all. This bun made me really happy to know I can just put on my shoes and walk over to buy more. I’m a huge fan of not-too-sweet pastries and both of these pleased me. They also had several types of cookies on offer, including a dark ginger molasses cookie which I regret not buying.

The bakery inherited the ice cream making supplies of the restaurant that previously occupied the space, and display gelatos in the first case you see when you enter. The breads and pastries are in the case just past that.

The baker was friendly, and seemed excited to explain to us about the various breads. I believe the girl behind the counter may be his daughter, as the menu mentions the cafe is family run.

They have pushed out a wall, allowing you to see back into the kitchen when you stand at the counter, and improvement over the previous incarnation where you felt like you were in a too-small space. The tables in front allow you to look out on the sidewalk, where there is space for a few tables to be used in warmer weather.

Before we were done eating we decided to make weekend morning trips to the bakery a regular thing, and I plan to visit for lunch at least once a week. If you live in Seattle I encourage you to visit if you’re down here, the food is good and the area could certainly benefit from being able to keep a place like this around.

Just like one of these reviews at Yelp, I didn’t realize until just now that the bakery is completely vegetarian. They even list a vegan sandwich and pizza offering. This is pretty amazing considering the part of the city we’re in.

To see pictures of their menu start here on my Flickr stream.

· comments [2] · 12-8-2007 · categories:seattle ·

guide to gift guides

Mighty Goods has an excellent round up of spot-on suggestions: Holiday Gift Guide, Luxury Gift Guide, Budget Gift Guide, Stocking Stuffers for Grown Ups, the 2008 Calendar Guide and Kids Stocking Stuffer Guide at Mighty Junior.

The Boss Lady gift guide is full of great stuff from small, women-owned businesses, and also see gifts for the entrepreneur.

Bake and Shake did a great collection of Etsy Holiday Gift Guides: #1 Ladies, #2 Gents, #3 What to buy for…, #4 Bebes, and #5 You

Design*Sponge has a whole lot of great stuff: under $25, under $50, under $100, eco-friendly, and buy handmade

Alpha Mom has suggestions for hostess gifts, as well as the anti-gift guides for what not to buy for kids – one and two.

Chow Gift Guide, and guide to gifts to buy online.

Craft: gift guide, gifts for peeps, crafty books, gifts you can make, tools of the trade and edible gifts.

The 2007 Good Gift Games by Matthew Baldwin, at The Morning News. See also: previous good gift games.

Cool Hunting 2007 Holiday Gift Guide, Stocking Stuffers and the Lush List.

Etsy has a huge collection of gift guides for recipient, occasion, price and interest.

Readymade’s gift guide to 155 perfect presents, each behind a door.

Rare Bird finds with a gift list for those very specific, and very hard to shop for people in your life.

Leite’s Culinaria on Best 20 Food Books of 2007.

The Food Section’s 2007 Holiday Gift Guide.

Salon’s Five books to help you become a chef by New Year’s.

And I’ve collected a bunch of stuff I love and stuff I want over at Amazon, it’s full of things that are useful and, unexpectedly, largely monochromatic. (I wonder what this reveals about myself?) It’s true, I get a small percentage if you decide to buy something from there, money that will go the upkeep of this site and into my I want a Nikon D40 fund (which currently contains the 37 cents I found in the bottom of my bag). I also took the chance to put together lists of books by bloggers, there were so many I broke them into categories – food, crafts and sewing, knitting and fiction and non.

· comments [13] · 12-6-2007 · categories:christmas · shopping ·

it’s Repeal Day!

Today is Repeal Day, so pop out and have a drink tonight to celebrate the anniversary of the day the United States repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and gave Americans the constitutional ability to consume alcohol.

· comments [3] · 12-5-2007 · categories:drink · things I think are neat ·

links: craft

advent calendars at Tip Junkie

LJC made her own advent calendar!

How to make a recycled paper advent calendar at One Hour Craft

Jennie’s very cool advent calendar made from decorated candy tins, so nice looking!

advent calendar of paper boxes, at Oh Happy Day

knit or crochet? at Ask Metafilter

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories makes a spool spinner from an old fan. This is perfect! I ended up with a similar huge spool of thread after ordering it from a rather confusing online catalog, I thought I was getting several small spools. Right now it’s acting as an oversized prop in my sewing room.

moder paper ornaments at Design Sponge’s DIY Wednesdays

charming button wreath and fabric tree at Craftapalooza

· comments [9] · 12-5-2007 · categories:craft ·

no-knead bread 2.0 in Cook’s Illustrated

The Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for No-Knead Bread 2.0. Morgana left a comment last week about this, and she was kind enough to type up the recipe changes, thank you! I started making the bread last night, and happily my copy of the magazine reached me today just before I was ready to slip it into the oven.

Cook’s Illustrated takes on the problem with the no-knead bread lacking flavor that this type of bread usually gets from using a fermented starter. They use a little vinegar and a little beer substituted in the wet ingredients, and it works. My loaf came out tasting really yummy (we’ve eaten nearly all of it and it hasn’t cooled all the way yet). I liked the previous bread just fine, but this had that little bit of tang that fills out the flavor of the interior next to flavor of the crust.

They suggest doing the second rise in parchment and lifting the parchment into the heated pot when you’re ready to bake. (This is a technique I know I’d read people doing previously as well.) I was a bit afraid that the parchment would burn where it stuck out from the lid of the pot, but it was just browned. I forgot to use a cooking oil spray on my parchment before I put the dough on it and it was just fine, the bread won’t stick after it’s baked. The magazine suggests doing the second rise in a skillet, but I did in a large, fairly wide bowl like I usually do. It worked fine and I didn’t have to worry about the bread rising up and touching the plastic wrap and I also didn’t have to worry about coating anything with flour or cooking oil spray.

They also have new recommendations for newly available inexpensive dutch ovens (I think the red Chefmate pots have finally, actually disappeared from Target stores). They give thumbs up to Tramontina 6.5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven that is around $40, and the Lodge 6 Quart enameled cast iron that is about $50. Looks like the Tramontina is available at Walmart I’ve seen the Tramontina pots at Target, and the Lodge can be found on Amazon in Caribbean blue, Island Spice red and Cafe.

This issue is a good one for big cast iron pots, in addition to the no-knead bread they have recipes for French Chicken in a Pot and French Onion Soup, and an article on mastering the art of stewing.

Scott gave me a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated last year at Christmas and it has proven to be a fantastic gift with benefits – he gets to eat the new things I cook. I highly recommend giving (or adding to your wishlist) Cook’s Illustrated magazine, or their sister magazine with color photos Cook’s Country. The online membership would also make a fantastic gift – you get access to all the info in the last 15 years of magazines as well as the updated equipment and ingredients ratings.

· comments [27] · 12-4-2007 · categories:food ·

links: food

spicy chickpea stew at The Kitchen

The new rules of cocktails, via The Food Section. Gosh, I love these rules.

Paula’s Pot Roast at What’s for Dinner Gina.

at Ask Metafilter:

Help me replicate my beloved Miami cafe con leche.

I’m searching for recipes from the future of the past.

What’s your fave eggnog?

Help me make the most of my new Le Creuset Dutch oven.

’tis the season for hot alcoholic drinks

I’ve been introduced to Trader Joe’s Spicy Black Bean Dip and I absolutely love it; problem is that I live in Canada and can’t buy it! So, I’ve decided the best alternative is to make it.

· comments [1] · 12-4-2007 · categories:drink · food ·

links: shopping, beauty, misc

How do I buy old new clothes? at Ask Metafilter

Kiosk sells many interesting things, via Magpie and Cake.

I love the To-do list stamp you can use on your arm made by Oof Collective, at Design Sponge.

How do you include yourself in exclusionary conversations? at Ask Metafilter. I’m not good at this either.

Two Tricks for Taking Good Group Photos at Sundry Buzz.

Recommendation for the Apex mechanical pencil at Cool Tools. I have one of these and absolutely love it, mine is a lovely silver.

I’m looking for some recommendations for good nontraditional Christmas music. at Ask Metafilter

Request for mustache-related gift items, at Ask Metafilter

Clever wishlist necklace, at Better Living Through Design.

Six Better-Than-Average Umbrellas at Cool Hunting.

Inside out martini glass at Uncrate.

Need advice on making the ultimate moisturizer. at Ask Metafilter

Why is All-Clad cookware so much more expensive than Cuisinart or other brands? at The Kitchen

Benefits of Recording Academy membership at Ask Metafilter. Scott is a member and it’s a little thrilling to get mail with Grammy logos on it.

If you were making mercury repellent to ward off the unsettling and snarling effects of mercury retrograde, what would you put in it? at Ask Metafilter

Do Aspirin Masks Work? at Faking Good Breeding

Pretty! Coutout calendar at Craftlog.

Free holiday music at Readymade.

How to clean eyeglass frames at Ask Metafilter

· comments [4] · 12-3-2007 · categories:beauty · shopping ·

glitter charm

This pretty glitter charm is from Glamscience. I bought it this weekend at her table at Urban Craft Uprising and it’s destined to hang from the orange zipper for my light gray sweater. After seeing the glitter dot zipper pulls on her pouches I asked about getting one to use on my sweater, and she came up with these. Initially I thought I’d attach it to the end of my zipper pull using a jump ring, but Daria is a genius and attached them to a little clasp so they can be removed before washing — something I wouldn’t have thought of until I was standing in front of the washing machine with the sweater in my hands. I was a little worried the clasp might get caught, but I’ve been test-wearing it on my charcoal sweater and it’s not going to get snagged in the yarn at all. I’m so very happy with it! Of course, the little clasp means you could attach it to all sorts of things. I want a green one too, let’s hope they show up in the Glamscience Etsy shop.

· comments [5] · 12-2-2007 · categories:knitting · shopping ·