Not Martha

bacon cups

I had an occasion calling for bacon themed food and my mind immediately turned towards the famed bacon mat. I needed something a little more single-serving though, so I decided to attempt bacon cups. In the bacon mat instructions there is mention of draping the mat over an overturned metal bowl and cooking it so that it would turn out in as a bowl shape. I decided to try using the backs of various muffin and mini cake pans, I ran out of bacon before I got to try as many as I would have liked so I’ll have to try more at a later date. Any excuse for more bacon.

I set the oven at 400 degrees and carefully formed foil over the back of the muffin pan. I did not coat with cooking spray, it would have been easier to remove but I suspect that the bacon would not have held the form as well if the foil was oiled and would have popped apart half way through cooking. On the other hand some bacon did break when I was peeling away the foil. I cooked the bacon, moving the pans around, until it was crisp looking and waited for it to cool before removing the foil and shaped bacon.

This all took three hours and my house filled with smoke, but it was worth it. Be sure to put a cookie sheet with a rim below the cooking bacon in the oven, there was a lot of dripping fat and I saw a few flames. Watch your oven carefully!

For cup shapes I used the back of this Wilton King-Size Muffin Pan. These are the width of jumbo muffins but are almost twice as tall (see this cupcake for a visual).

For the first try I used two layers of bacon on the sides and wove it like a basket, or at least like I imagine a basket would be woven:

I turned out to not be enough after the bacon cooked and shrank:

It held its structure very well though:

The next time I used three layers of bacon on the sides, this worked out better:

For as floppy as the bacon is when trying to weave it, it keeps its shape really well once cooked to the point that it is crisp.

I also tried to make small round bowls using the back of a Betty Crocker mini filled cake pan.

It shrank up quite a lot, leaving more of a shallow rounded shape:

Going for a breadless BLT I filled the cups with lettuce (the arugula was the best) and sliced cherry tomato. After some serious investigation it was determined that the shallow bowls were the easiest to eat as finger food, while the cups were dramatic.

I had hoped to make a mayo-based salad dressing to really fill out my the BLT theme but I completely ran out of time. Overall, a success!

· comments [574] · 02-27-2008 · categories:food ·

giveaway: DB Clay wallet

The people at DB Clay gave me a Version 3 wallet to give away! I hope you don’t mind if I had a little look at it, it’s excellently manufactured. DB Clay makes limited edition wallets out of a material they call Tope: “Tope is strong. Tope is durable. Tope is heat and cold resistant. Tope is smooth textured. Tope is water resistant. Tope is robust. Tope is eco friendly.” The material feels great, and I bet if they sold it by the yard Etsy makers all over the world would buy it like crazy.

DB Clay’s designs are awesome, I’m going through a pattern phase, and I’m enamoured of their Ms. Frey patterns, which come in a few different colors. And the Lights of Spain is cool.

The wallet I have to give away is the Faith on Juniper. “We found a stained & polished wood box at a thrift store in SE Portland years ago. We transferred the old box’s rich & textured image onto this new piece of pocket art.” I think it also looks like a vintage tie, a cool vintage tie. It has a pocket for bills, four card pockets, and two spaces for you to tuck cards into behind the card pockets (you know, the places where small receipts and the fortunes from cookies end up). The wallet is excellent, and you want it. Leave a comment here and the trusty Random Number Generator will pick a winner.

Fine print:
I’ll choose the winner on Thursday night, Feb. 28th at 8:00 p.m. PST. The Random Number Generator has chosen a winner, thanks to everybody for entering! I’ll ship the wallet as soon as I can, this might depend on working off-hours postal machines.
– You don’t need to leave your real name, but do leave a valid email address. I’ll be the only one who can see your email address (just don’t put it in the actual comment box as well). I’ll write to get a shipping address when you’ve won.
– 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. That said, you might not end up being the comment number you see so know that if you want to say “lucky number 351!” you might not be comment number 351. I don’t know why it works that way, and I’m sorry, there is very little certainty left in this world and this isn’t helping any.
– If I have not heard from an initial winner by March 6th I will choose another winner.
– The winner will be picked by the cold, unfeeling random number generator.

· comments [624] · 02-26-2008 · categories:shopping ·

Packaging Specialties Stores

Last weekend I visited the Packaging Specialties Store here in Seattle in search of some crepe paper. I had gotten lots of suggestions on places to buy crepe in Seattle (thanks!) but this one was on my side of town. I was blown away by the store, it was like finding the hiding place of all those things I had to search so hard for when I was living in San Francisco — ribbons, tins, papers, boxes, all in one place. I was a bit overwhelmed with how much they had, and how many varieties of everything.

Here is what I wrote down in my notebook: Midori ribbons (must be the whole line), tissue and crepe, fake flowers, paint cans of many sizes, soup cups (for packaging candy), Altoid sized tins, round tins, lip balm tins, paper lanterns (square!), blank stationary, boxes of all sizes and shapes, Envirosax, craft paper in colors, gift bags of all sizes and colors, bindi tins and boxes, colored twill, silk ribbon, beautiful papers, variety of gift tags, Cath Kidson books, oil cloth, Chinese take out boxes in colors and sizes and frosted plastic, glassine, cookie bags, coffee bags, clear tubes with lids, lunch box, favors, large rick rack, bridal goods, magazines, favor boxes. They had posy boxes, people, many many kinds! That is special. Everything appealed to me, there was little hint of country twee or “Party Store” garishness. The website doesn’t do justice to just how complete their offerings are.

By comparison I went to a Paper Zone store directly afterwards and the variety of packaging goods was boring by comparison (I realize that Paper Zone is more for those who scrapbook and make stationary). So, if you’re hoping to find a certain type of packaging for your homemade bath crystals or cookies I can recommend a trip to the Packaging Specialties Store down in Georgetown, there is also a location in Redmond.

· comments [9] · 02-25-2008 · categories:seattle · shopping ·

Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion

I was given a sample of Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion to try out. I tested the lotion over a month, sometimes applying it to my hands and sometimes to my arms and legs. Overall I like the lotion a lot, it goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly and has no discernible scent. It kept my skin moisturized, and when I applied it post-shower I found I was ready to put on my clothes much sooner than when I use a regular moisturizer. This aspect is nice when you have a rushed morning prep schedule.

Is it worth the price? I’m not sure yet. The lotion works in part by “transforming the outer layer of skin into a hydrating invisible shield.” I don’t have any serious dry skin ailments, but the lotion did cut down on some minor irritation my sensitive skin can get from the seams in shirts. A 4 ounce bottle of Skin MD Natural costs $25, and they estimate it will last 1 to 2 months. That is just expensive enough to keep me from buying a new bottle.

That said, the lotion has plenty of positive reviews online and if you have any skin trouble I encourage you to try it out. You can get two sample packets mailed to you for the price of postage ($2) from the ordering page (additional cost if shipped outside North America).

The Skin MD Natural site has a video purpotedly showing off the protective quality of the lotion. In it the demonstrator applies the lotion, then holds a rock in his hand an pours hydrochloric acid over the rock which drips down his hand. The rock fizzes, and the idea is that the lotion protects his hands from acid strong enough to (queue dramatic music) dissolve this rock! The video feels like a stunt, and watching it only made me afraid to apply the lotion to my skin for fear that the lotion would trigger my mild contact dermatitis. I quickly found this information about the demonstration on The Beauty Brains website: “It’s an interesting and compelling demonstration. Of course, it’s not as impressive if you consider that when the scientist pours the acid on the rock (probably limestone), there is a neutralizing reaction that occurs. A neutralized acid is like pouring salt water on your skin.”

I was still intrigued so I turned to the only chemist I know to find out more about it: Joseph Reardon, PhD., aka my dad. He confirmed that the stone had a neutralizing effect on the acid and that the video was a stunt, adding “What damage to tough skin (like that on the hands) would 14-15% HCl do? And how quick acting would it be? Would the demonstrator being screaming in pain if his hands were lotion-free? I suspect not.”

He had a look at the ingredients of the lotion and had this to say: “I’d bet that if you changed the relative amount of one or two of the ingredients by one or two percent, the entire texture might change — the lotion might suddenly turn thick and tacky, or watery, or coarse feeling, or whatever. Give credit to the formulators for coming up with something that appeals to the end user.”

In poking around I came across Gloves In A Bottle, which sounds very much like the Skin MD Natural lotion but the bottle is half the price and twice the size. The Amazon customer reviews make me wonder if the lotion is similar. I plan on buying some to compare.

· comments [13] · 02-25-2008 · categories:beauty ·

question for those in Seattle

Which store in Seattle would have the largest selection of colors of sheets of crepe paper? I’m inclined to to head to Display and Costume, but I know there must be a card shop or art store with lots of crepe paper just waiting for me. Anyone know? My thanks!

· comments [16] · 02-22-2008 · categories:craft · seattle ·

Doane Paper, it rocks

I’m currently using a pad of Doane Paper, and I think I’ve found a favorite. I whip through notebooks like crazy, and I can often be found carrying both a lined notebook and a grid notebook around the house. Doane Paper combines a grid and lines and is fantastic for notes of all kinds. I tend to plan out sewing and knitting by drawing pictures and charts, and Doane Paper’s grid is small enough to sketch out in an inch-to-square or stitch-to-square ratio. It would have been perfect to have back in the days when I would sketch out website layouts on a regular basis.

The paper is a nice thickness and takes the ink from my favorite pen (Uni-Ball Vision Exact, for those who are curious) smoothly. The pad has a perforated top that allows you to pull out a page cleanly. The only thing that could make the pad better would be a spiral bound top, though I expect that would make it more difficult to have manufactured. As it is I know I’ll be ordering more once I’ve (sadly) reached the last page.


knitting – trying to understand the neck hole shaping

Doane Paper is $8.95 for a 3-pack, and shipping is free if you order three packs or more. For a paper snob like me it’s a decent price and having a stack of clean, new notebooks around is something I find myself feeling romantic about. They take Paypal, it couldn’t be easier.


Scrabble scores

The Doane Paper grid is also available as a free download to print out on 8.25″ x 11″ or A4 paper. How nice is is that?

You can read more about the idea, read their blog and even buy fan-boy Doane Paper stuff at the site.


Moving the ribby cardi neck hole shaping down a bit


adjusting the fronts of the Central Park Hoodie to make one a little differently

· comments [18] · 02-22-2008 · categories:shopping ·

links: shopping, misc

Why would a gas station remove the hold-open lever on the gas nozzle? at Ask Metafilter

pocket mirrors at Making it Lovely, I have a similarly sized mirror and find it very handy

Please recommend some of your favorite standup comedy DVDs. at Ask Metafilter

Help me come up with pairs of movies that, viewed together, create ULTIMATE AWESOME. at Ask Metafilter

In your opinion, who are the best female science fiction authors? What are the best scifi books written by women? at Ask Metafilter

How do I straighten up my back? at Ask Metafilter

· comments [7] · 02-21-2008 · categories:shopping ·

giveaway: Method bag and products

Like Method products? Yay, me too. I have a bag of green (literally) Method goods to give away.

The bag itself is great, reusble and sturdy it’s made of two layers of ripstop nylon and has a zipppered pocket on the inside.

Inside is a metal caddy containing All Purpose Surface Cleaner, Cleaning Wipes, Hand Wash, and Dish Soap all in the Cucumber scent. And most excitingly is a dvd of Simple Steps to a Greener Home by Danny Seo.

Want it? Leave a comment here and I’ll pick a winner. The winner has been chosen! Congrats to Ethermaiden!

Fine print:
I’ll choose the winner on Friday, Feb. 22nd at 8:00 p.m. PST. I’ll ship the box as soon as I can, this might depend on working off-hours postal machines. Sorry, this one is too heavy to ship outside of the US.
– You don’t need to leave your real name, but do leave a valid email address. I’ll be the only one who can see your email address (just don’t put it in the actual comment box as well). I’ll write to get a shipping address when you’ve won.
– 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. That said, you might not end up being the comment number you see so know that if you want to say “lucky number 351!” you might not be comment number 351. I don’t know why it works that way, and I’m sorry, there is very little certainty left in this world and this isn’t helping any.
– If I have not heard from an initial winner by Friday, Feb. 29th I will choose another winner.
– The winner will be picked by the cold, unfeeling random number generator.

· comments [1,355] · 02-20-2008 · categories:shopping ·

album release: save you from yourself

Scott spent most of last year writing, recording and planning for his new album, Save You From Yourself, which officially on sale today. Congratulations sweetie, I’m so proud of you!

Scott had some help producing the album, much of the recording was done in the home studio of Jim Santanella, and the photographs used were taken by Scott Mongrain. Interestingly, I got a note from ReeBeckiSupergirl a few months back, we had exchanged notes a few times over the years and at some point she figured out that my Scott and her Scott were the ones who had been traveling out to take pictures of melting ice cream and bicycles together! Seattle is sometimes a very small town.

Scott had lots of local musicians on the tracks — Jerin Falkner, Michael Spaly of Creeping Time, Alissa Jandt of Everyday Jones, Laurie Katherine Carlsson and Jim Santanella. Everyone is a fantastic musician in her or his own right, Scott often shares gigs with all of them, and you should check them out. If you live in Seattle, keep an eye on the shows page, gigs tend to be laid back and in comfortable spots with good coffee or beer.

If you’re interested you can listen to and purchase Save You From Yourself at scottandrew.com, at CD Baby and at Amazon.com.

This is a sweet little detail, when you lift the cd out of it’s tray you see this:

Rita is his grandmother, who passed away last year, still feisty, at age 90.

· comments [14] · 02-19-2008 · categories:mumbling ·

bacon curls

Last week I was flipping through a small notebook and found some notes for the idea of making a bacon straw. Finding ourselves with bacon in the house last weekend we decided to try it.

We cooked them on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to allow the fat to drain. 325 for about 15 minutes.

The original idea was to make an accordianed tin foil tube to wrap the bacon around (think: fast food drinking straw wrapper). I made a few of these formed around the handle of a spoon. Unfortunately when pulled to release the diameter of the foil grew just enough to break the bacon.

Scott discovered the best way to remove the foil was to grasp both ends and twist, like you are wringing out a wet towel. The diameter of the foil got smaller and was easy to slip out of the bacon after that.

Unfortunately, the tubed bacon did not cook evenly, leaving the middle and underside chewy while the ends were crisp, we found the textures unappetizing (let along the appearance of a worm (thanks, Scott) to be kinda gross). The one bacon straw I made barely made it through foil removal, but was fun to eat. Scott looked at that one and declared it made him think of the book How To Eat Fried Worms, so I had it all to myself.

The bacon curls worked quite nicely though! They cooked pretty evenly and made the foil removal a bit easier. I made curls from both standard slices of bacon and one I had cut lengthwise to create very narrow bacon strips. They were fun to eat, and would look lovely next to some waffles.

Also see the bacon curl garnish at How Stuff Works.

· comments [32] · 02-18-2008 · categories:food · things I think are neat ·

links: tech

I’m looking for help compiling a top 20 “must play” list of essential videogames. at Ask Metafilter

Dr. Who Uno! at Bookshelves of Doom

Anybody have an adjustable-height sit/stand desk they love? at Ask Metafilter

Can anyone recommend a decent URL blocker for IE along the lines of Leechblock or somesuch? at Ask Metafilter, includes mentions of good apps for Firefox.

Best of Casual Gameplay: adventure, interactive art or fiction, point-and-click, puzzle, free download

Looking for a smart surge protector that shuts down peripherals when a computer is turned off or asleep. at Ask Metafilter

I want 2 things from my self-hosted WordPress blog – to be able to save a published post I’m editing with a keyboard shortcut, and to have a “reply” button on the comments. How can I get these things? at Ask Metafilter

Give me your best games to play while waiting in line, going on long car trips, or on airplanes. at Ask Metafilter

The Boringest Video Game of All Time at The Stranger

Are there any office chairs out there for petite women? at Ask Metafilter

Canon EOS Rebel XSi at Uncrate, Live View! This might get me to buy a DSLR.

Shootsac comfort camera bag for your camera & lenses at Popgadget

Passage at Kottke

King’s Quest III, reworked and available to download for free! at Infamous Adventures, via Casual Gameplay.

Is it finally OK to buy a Blu-Ray player? at Ask Metafilter

Archer, the font created for Martha Stewart Living is available for purchase, at Making It Lovely

How can I wire a bunch of push lights together and run them off of regular power? (to make a giant Lite Brite!) at Ask Metafilter

How-to: Wall mounting a LCD or Plasma at PVR Blog

the 30-second skip for Tivo at O’Reilly Hacks site, via PVR Blog

Fritz, the cat photographer at Neatorama

a rookie guide to digital SLR cameras by Mike Davidson, via Penmachine

What is the best anti virus software? at Ask Metafilter

Solution to adware/spyware/viruses at Ask Metafilter

Get rid of spyware at Lifehacker

Is a person actually reading books if they are able to read books but only listen to books on tape because their lifestyle is too busy? at Ask Metafilter

A blog editor that really works and is FREE! at U-handblog

ROUNDUP: Cool Tools for Craft Bloggers & Digital Designers at Craftzine

What are some good website designs that subvert the “grid” system, or just don’t make use of grids? at Ask Metafilter

Better Than Free by Kevin Kelly

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported, I have no idea why I bookmarked this page, but I think I’m going to use this license

using toothpaste to fix scratched CDs at the Seattle PI

Just wondering for suggestions on the best iPod speakers. at Ask Metafilter

· comments [9] · 02-15-2008 · categories:technology ·

links: craft

super cute egg cozy at Super Eggplant

make your own cookie cutters at Baking Bites

Tubular cast-on without the waste at Fluffbuff

DIY Shopping Bags at Craftzine

Pirhana Plant at Craftzine

Here is something I learned the hard way…never try to remove a stain with a paper product! at The Secret Pocket

Tubular cast off (it’s pretty) at TECHknitting

Anh-minh on the Salvation Army donation website. “It is the easiest way to donate large items that you can’t drop off somewhere yourself.” Must remember this.

How About Orange has created a fabric line!

tentacle arm at Product Dose

draft dodger at Swiss Miss

Beginner’s sewing: Please guide me to the most simple, step by step instructions on how to sew simple garments from simple patterns with a sewing machine. at Ask Metafilter

Techniques with Theresa: buttonholes, at Knitty

How to cut a five pointed star in one snip, from Petit-Chou

Shaped Crepe Flowers at Martha Stewart

Paper Flower Bouquet at Martha Stewart

Hand Painted (aka space dyed) Cotton Yarn Instructions at Dharma Trading — they use Inca Cotton! Also, The Tub (Washing Machine, Vat, Bucket) Dye Method.

I want to start making soap. But I don’t know where to start. at Ask Metafilter

Hello, Black & Decker Classic Iron, at Dioramarama

Stretchy Bind Offs at Weebleknits

Twinkle Big City Knits, I might like this book.

Rebecca Blood let’s us know that the MVKnits yarn CSA is now selling Fall harvest shares of mohair and a kid mohair/cormo blend. (This is the Martha’s Vineyard CSA that I had the give away for back in October.)

Canvas Floor Works blogs about how to make a floorcloth of your own.

Hide Cables with Mizutani Cable Knit Corporation at Craftzine

· comments [9] · 02-14-2008 · categories:craft ·

a new Valentine’s Day tradition

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day I just don’t get that into. But last year I stumbled upon something that makes me want to mark the day – I spent all day cooking bolognese and cupcakes for dinner and it was lovely. I got to plan and shop and simmer and tidy up the house and sip wine (what? I had to open a bottle to add to the bolognese). So this year I’ve decided to do it again, this is the menu I’m planning:

Alton Brown’s Sour Cream Cheesecake which I chose solely because the episode was on last week and the cake needs to cool for 6 hours and I declared (silently since nobody else was in the room) that it would do. I’ll be buying my first real cake pan for this, I’m very excited.

A meal from Everyday Food of beef tenderloin with horseradish cream, potatoes anna (also) and sauteed swiss chard (or maybe). I suspect I chose this because they use a Hable Construction fabric for the background of the pictures (it’s Issue #8). No, really I chose this because I made the horseradish cream sauce once and it haunts me still.

This isn’t to say I willfully ignore all Valentine’s Day themed things. This year I’ve been eyeing the round up of Valentine’s Day dessert projects at Brownie Points, the stamp your own conversation hearts at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and the wee Valentine’s boxes at How About Orange.

· comments [16] · 02-13-2008 · categories:food · holidays · mumbling ·

giveaway: DIY Duct Tape Wallet

I have a Duct Tape Wallet Kit to give away. It’s from myDuctbills and comes with instructions, pre-cut duct tape pieces and six colors that let you make a custom design. All you need is scissors.

Are you wilting in the gray pre-Spring stretch of days? You need this to distract yourself with. Leave a comment here and you might get lucky.

The giveaway is for the traditional silver wallet, but you can also get black, pink and camo kits at the site.

Fine print:
I’ll choose the winner on Friday morning, Feb. 15th at 10:00 a.m. PST. I’ll ship the wallet as soon as I can, this might depend on working off-hours postal machines.
– You don’t need to leave your real name, but do leave a valid email address. I’ll be the only one who can see your email address (just don’t put it in the actual comment box as well). I’ll write to get a shipping address when you’ve won.
– 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. That said, you might not end up being the comment number you see as you’re typing, so know that if you want to say “lucky number 351!” you might not be comment number 351. I don’t know why it works that way, and I’m sorry, there is very little certainty left in this world and this isn’t helping any.
– If I have not heard from an initial winner by Feb. 22nd I will choose another winner.
– The winner will be picked by the cold, unfeeling random number generator.

links: food

How do you drain the fat off of your ground beef? at Ask Metafilter

Crustless spinach, onion and feta quiche at Baking Bites

Can anybody recommend a decent champaign for a mimosa? at Ask Metafilter

dulce de leche cheesecake squares, by Smitten Kitchen who is going to kill me with fabulousness someday soon

I love Cauliflower! It’s healthy and delicious! Help me find good ways to eat it! at Ask Metafilter

Are European-style butters better? at Baking Bites

cake lollipops! at Bakeralla

on the UtiliTea electric kettle at The Kitchen

white bean hummus at Baking Bites

Ateco 6.5 inch lady lock form, at Amazon, also 4.5 inch lady lock form

Garlicky Beef Daube at Pink of Perfection

· comments [14] · 02-12-2008 · categories:food · recipes ·