Not Martha

Happy New Year

Above is a picture of the disastrously oozy (but very good with champagne) strawberries and whipped cream cake I improvised for the evening. I hope your evening is as joyously cozy or wildly strange or happily drunken or adventurously lost as you wish it to be!

· comments [22] · 12-31-2008 · categories:mumbling ·

Free-Range Chickens, free e-book on iPhone

I’ve seen the book Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich recommended twice in the last few days — first by Dooce and then by The Stranger. I have not read it yet but I was really happy to discover that it’s currently being offered as a free e-book though the Random House Free Library that I access on my iPhone through the Stanza e-reader. I’m not sure how long it will be offered so if you have an iPhone grab it if you’re curious. Also download The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, I’ve loved Laurie Notaro for a while now and having this book during the Great Big Snow Storm has saved a bit of my sanity with all the hilarious.

· comments [14] · 12-29-2008 · categories:iphone · shopping ·

my Christmas, it was good

We had a very good Christmas here despite still being mostly snowed in. I hope your Christmas was great, and that you are not experiencing the madness of cabin fever quite to the degree we are.

I got the bag I talked about previously, the Chelsea Buckle Tote, in black, from at Thank you, Scott! (Ok, I knew this one was coming because I made sure he bought one before they sold out again.)

I also got the Crumpler Four Million Dollar Home bag for my camera, the Canon Rebel XSi, which fits inside snuggly but with enough room to get it in and out easily. It’s smaller than I expected, which is a nice surprise and will make it very easy to bring my camera along with me.

We also received a Whirley Pop popcorn maker which will allow us to retire the pot with the burned bottom that we had been using.

I also got a set of Fred’s ABC cookie cutters, which make me laugh.

A game of Bendomino has proven to be a nice, short distraction while we’re waiting for things to bake. It has us considering buying a nice set of regular dominoes.

And last minute a present I got for myself from Amazon, who managed to get it here on the 24th!, the Griffin PowerJolt SE, a very basic car charger for my iPhone. I realized that if our power was knocked out during the Big Winter Storm we just had I would have no way to charge my iPhone and that was a scary idea (no email access! aaah!). This charger is nice and compact and I can easily store it in my change container and out of sight when I’m not using it.

Scott approved of the musical related gifts I got him. I got the Planet Waves guitar string winder and wire cutter for guitar, and one for his bass. I also got the guitar headstand supporter to help prop up his instruments while he is restringing them. I was glad to find out that Scott calls Planet Waves the OXO of the instrument world. And for his gig bag I got the Farley’s Guitar Tool which has a wire cutter, several sizes of screwdriver and hex wrenches and a tool to pull fret pins.

Being stuck inside I had lots of time to cook. I made more of the molasses cookies and some peanut brittle. We had a lot of fun piping out peppermint meringues (though we didn’t have a star piping tip so it looked a bit like dabs of toothpaste) but the real winner was when we finally broke out the Berndes crepe pan we inherited from some friends who were moving away. We used the crepe recipe from How to Cook Everything and filled them with leftover Trader Joe’s Christmas ham and cheddar cheese. We made them again for dinner the next day, and, uh, again this morning. So yummy.

Here is a picture of the snow kitty that Scott made for me to look at when I was too sick to play outside in the snow:

· comments [29] · 12-27-2008 · categories:mumbling · shopping ·

Last Minute Christmas Cheer

Ugh. I have come down with a cold of the sort that makes me cranky and tired, but too uncomfortable to want to try to sleep. We’re snowed in here in Seattle and cabin fever is making itself known so my only wish is to feel well enough to take a walk in the snow to our nearest coffee place to sip some hot cocoa in the company of neighbors who have skied through the streets to get there. Instead I’m home wishing I had my sense of taste back so I could more fully enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. So I wish you a happy holiday with the understanding that I’ll have the energy to mean it with more sincerity in a few days.

Sugared cranberries: snappy, sparkle, and pop. at Bon Appegeek

What’s a good recipe for gingerbread construction materials? at Ask Metafilter

Peppermint Meringues at Joy the Baker

swissmiss alpenglow project, gorgeous

Expandable Christmas Stocking at Neatorama

ornaments to make at How About Orange

Korknisse, hat and sweater for a wine cork! Thank you to Aruni for the link.

10 Ideas for Pretty Alternative Wrapping at Mighty Girl

The Bishop’s Wife, a cup of cheer cocktail at Modern Cottage

Note to Chocolatiers: Where Are the Good Advent Calendars? at Chow

· comments [11] · 12-23-2008 · categories:christmas · mumbling ·

Sparkling Chewy Molasses Cookies

This is my favorite cookie this year. They are easy enough to make to qualify as something to make for cookie swaps, especially if you’ve, um, waited too long to make them to allow a roll of dough chill long enough to do slice and bake varieties. I modified this recipe ever so slightly from the Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies at

I used sanding sugar to coat the balls of dough because it adds a nice bit of crunch. I didn’t have white sanding sugar in the house so I used demerara sugar, which is a light brown sugar. I suspect a white sanding sugar would be prettier, but I do like the extra molasses boost the demerara gives.

Here are some balls of dough before being plunked down on a baking sheet:

Sparkling Chewy Molasses Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled, or 10 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses, blackstrap works well here
  • about 1/2 cup chunky sanding sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the egg, and then the molasses until just combined. Put mixer on low and slowly add the flour mixture just until dough forms.
  4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into a ball between your palms, then roll in sanding sugar to cover all sides.
  5. Place on cookie sheets spaced three inches apart (cookies will spread while baking).
  6. Bake one sheet at a time until edges of cookies are just firming up, 10 to 15 minutes. I found 11 minutes to be perfect in my oven which runs slightly too hot no matter what you do.
  7. update: If you freeze the balls you can bake them by taking them out of the freezer and putting them right in the oven. It’ll take about 15 minutes at 350. The cookies will spread a little less, and crack a bit.
  8. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a moment then transfer cookies to racks to cool down.
  9. Will keep for four days in an airtight container.

Makes three dozen cookies, more or less.

· comments [42] · 12-21-2008 · categories:christmas · food · recipes ·

inexpensive sparkling wine recommendations from people who know

I got a chance to catch up on some podcasts recently and, since New Years is approaching, my ears perked up when I heard two recommendations for inexpensive sparkling wines.

The first was in the October 18th episode of Good Food in an interview with Robin Goldstein, founder and editor-in-chief of Fearless Critic Media and whom you might know as that guy that got his fake restaurant and award from Wine Spectator. The second half of the interview talks about some of the things he found while writing The Wine Trials. He talks about the fact that the $12 bottle Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut consistently scored higher than a $150 bottle of Dom Perignon. Domaine Ste. Michelle is a Washington wine so I’ve been seeing it in my regular grocery stores for $9.

The other was a recent (Dec. 8th) Fresh Air interview with Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, the husband-and-wife team behind the wine column Tastings. They recommend the Cristalino Brut Cava as a good budget bottle for celebrating small things, like getting home on time. (I recognize this name because a friend once declared it was what you buy when you’re too poor to get Cristal.) You can read their column on good bubble for celebrating the New Year here.

· comments [16] · 12-19-2008 · categories:drink ·

Secret Stash Sea Salts

I was lucky enough to get some salt samples that Seattle Tall Poppy had brought to a gathering. These salts are from Secret Stash Sea Salts. I sprinkled a little of the Vanilla on top of some homemade peanut butter ice cream and it was delicious. Their site has recipes for each of the salts I have, and I’m especially looking forward to trying the Coconut Garam Masala Roasted Lamb Sirloin. I’m afraid fancy salts are entirely too much for my limited ability to cook so if you’ve got suggestions for what to do with flavored salts I’d love to hear them.

· comments [30] · 12-18-2008 · categories:food ·

Laurel Hill Knitting Needles

I recently got some Laurel Hill Knitting Needles and I have to say I think I’m in love. The company makes straight knitting needles and crochet hooks from sustainable exotic woods. They are produced in Vietnam in a facility that is “environmentally friendly and safe; all members are treated with dignity and respect.”

The needles I’m using now are size #4 (US) and they are remarkably flexible and springy. I’m making the Lace Ribbon Scarf from Comfort DK yarn which is splitty enough to be fiddly. I originally started the scarf on some bamboo circulars and abandoned the project because the needles hurt my hands. The Laurel Hill needles give me no trouble at all, though, and I have even noticed they don’t rub against a certain spot on my finger that I’m used to. The needles are very smooth and don’t catch on any of the fuzzy fibers, slick enough that I don’t have troubles when I SSK, but still grippy enough that I’ve had no trouble with the needles sliding out and dropping stitches. I really enjoy working with them. The only downside I can see is that the wood the needles are fairly dark, meaning I won’t be knitting anything black on them in the evenings. I have to add that I’ve gotten so used to working with circular needles that I’d forgotten that I find scarves are actually easier to knit on two straight needles.

The crochet hook I have is equally appealing, the wood is far nicer to look at than my usual plastic standby, and the hook feels warm in my hand.

You can read more about the company at Laurel Hill Online and you can buy the needles online only at KnittingStuff.Net. I think a set of Laurel Hill knitting needles or crochet hooks would make a nice upgrade gift for a knitter who seems to already have everything.

· comments [12] · 12-17-2008 · categories:knitting ·

Christmas movie: Bernard and The Genie

I’m very excited, this year my favorite Christmas movie finally came out on DVD! Bernard and The Genie was a movie stumbled across by accident one year when I’d come home from college for the Christmas break and my college sleeping schedule meant I wasn’t going to fall asleep until 1 a.m. at the earliest. Bravo (I think) was showing this strange movie and I only watched because Rowan Atkinson is in it. I knew I’d like the movie when the main character, played by Alan Cumming, is dumped by his girlfriend and fired from his job in the first five minutes.

The movie was made in 1992 and is a particular brand of good/bad that I’m sure is tempered by my feelings that this film has become my very own tradition. According to the Amazon reviews the quality of the movie, which was originally made for television, in 1992 remember, is not so great on DVD (I have not opened mine yet) so you might want to look for a copy in a mom and pop video store if you’re curious, I don’t think it’s worth splurging on. But it certainly is making me happy.

· comments [10] · 12-16-2008 · categories:christmas · things I think are neat ·

links: tech and iPhone stuff

a little-known feature in the recent 2.1 update allows Web Apps to be displayed in full screen format without the Safari wrap at iSmashPhone

Target Digital Camera Gift Card, really? at Uncrate

Incase Power Slider, it provides an extra battery in the case to recharge you iPhone when you need it, at Uncrate

Autoformat Your Website for iPhones With Intersquash at Webmonkey

Angel Sword is a Zelda-like adventure for the iPhone, at Touch Arcade

TouchTerm Puts a Terminal Client on Your iPhone at Lifehacker

cardboard iPhone dock at Neatorama

Classic Dungeon Crawler ‘Rogue’ Comes to the iPhone at Touch Arcade

A minimal interface theme for Google Reader

Cubist Cherry and Mahogany iPod Stand at Mighty Goods

Freitag iPhone sleeve, so nice, at Swiss Miss

Super Secret Spy Lens at Uncrate

Night Camera: Image Stabilization for iPhone Camera Is Half of a Good Idea at iSmashPhone

Got Four Disposable Drinking Cups and Two Toothpicks? You Have an iPod Speaker System! at iSmashPhone

· comments [5] · 12-12-2008 · categories:iphone · technology ·

links: the home

brilliant fire extinguisher at Mighty Haus

tranquil mint scented candle at Dooce

How can I soundproof a room in my apartment? at Ask Metafilter

Black & Decker Cordless Electric Mulching Mower at Uncrate

How to make sense of energy efficient bulbs and find what works in your home at Making This Home

Seattle Ork poster! I so want this

Dirt Devil Cordless Rechargeable Stick Vacuum at Sundry Buzz. I’m considering getting one of these since I am often too lazy to bring the big vacuum upstairs. Or is what I really need pronounded Roomba?

Oversized Equator Pendant Lamp at Better Living Through Design

Mod Cottage has proof, hanging red Christmas ornaments around your tomato plants scares away critters that would try to eat them.

swing arm window rods, these aren’t pretty but I like the idea

floating billies at Ikea Hacker

· comments [14] · 12-11-2008 · categories:the home ·

links: shopping

Buying good stuff at A Whole Lotta Nothing, and Can you suggest some replacements for standard, everyday household items that are far superior in terms of usefulness, luxuriousness and quality? at Ask Metafilter

MrsO, a site devoted to following the style of Michelle Obama

how to make that perfect knot! at Girl in the Green Dress. This is brilliant.

Etsy Find – JamieNoel at We Are All Angry

Build Your Own Tinysaur at Mighty Goods

Primecell, a service that replaces and upgrades the cells in NiCd and NiMh batteries, at Cool Tools

Where is the best place to buy strong magnets online? at Ask Metafilter

Prep + Prime, by MAC Cosmetics, my next thing to try.

Jake & Michah, gifts for lucky pets

Yumi & Laurie, throw sized Egyptian cotton blankets and spa towels, absolutely decadent.

Please help a North American find a great new British mystery on DVD. at Ask Metafilter

Print your images on 2x2in ceramic tiles at Swiss Miss

indie craft shows for holiday shopping at Shelterrific

and two modern Christmas trees I like a lot at Better Living Through Design: Six Pointed Star Holiday Tree at Better Living Through Design, and Possibilitree

· comments [8] · 12-10-2008 · categories:shopping ·

links: misc

Are there any real-life Sherlock Holmeses, Hercule Poirots, or Adrian Monks? at Ask Metafilter

Prop 8 – The Musical at Funny Or Die

Greatest Movies Never Made? at Ask Metafilter

Buying good stuff at A Whole Lotta Nothing, and Can you suggest some replacements for standard, everyday household items that are far superior in terms of usefulness, luxuriousness and quality? at Ask Metafilter

The Stories Behind Hollywood Studio Logos at Neatorama

Ready Meals at Cool Tools. For the time when the zombies come.

How Pop-up Books Are Engineered at Craftzine.

Trip Kick, your hotel sidekick at Swiss Miss

· comments [3] · 12-10-2008 · categories:misc ·

links: craft

Bon Bon Kakku lets creative consumers design their own fabrics and offer them to the crowds for voting, comments and—ultimately—purchase. at Swiss Miss

expanding your Craft Business with Etsy at Craft Boom

FAQ: Product Photography (Part Two) at Making It Lovely

Make a Charging Basket at Craftzine

Water Balloon Luminaries at Craftzine

Plush You Interviews, we get to hear from all of our favorites!

My Cutting Table Made It onto Ikea Hacker at Gorgeous Things, it’s a fantastic cutting table

filzfelt has launched! at Girl in the Green Dress

Alician celebrates Stitched In Time launching, but I really love this because of the picture with the dog biscuit, my dog used to leave me biscuits all the time.

Recycled Glass Garden Chandelier at Craftzine

What have *you* always wanted to find inside a pinata? at Ask Metafilter

How to make a Bunting Holiday Decoration at Joyful Abode

A do-it-yourself R2-D2 dreidel — or “droidel,” as they call it. at The Park Bench

these egg carton fairy lights are lovely, at Magpie and Cake

· comments [3] · 12-9-2008 · categories:craft ·

Grassroots Business Association event: Show + Tell

The next Grassroots Business Organization meeting is tomorrow night. We borrowed a very smart idea from The Lab at Velocity Art and Design and decided to do a Show + Tell evening. If you have a small business you’d like to let everybody know about please come and show yourself off.

Show + Tell

Come show and tell us all about what you do! Everyone will get a few minutes to show off their stuff, talk about what they do, make a plug for themselves. This is a great opportunity to get your business out in front of a receptive audience. Bring your business cards, product if ya got it.

The show and tell section will last about a half hour with the remaining portion of the event dedicated to general meeting and chatting. Stay as little or as long as you like.

Show + Tell for Grassroots Business Association

Wednesday, December 10, 7 – 9 p.m.

Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98122 [map] – Vermillion offers both food and drinks.

· comments [0] · 12-9-2008 · categories:events · seattle ·