These dyed Easter are real eggshells that have been coated on the inside with chocolate and stuffed with candy and a small surprise.
Everything I used to decorate the eggs is edible. I used jumbo sized eggs, though this wasn’t necessary. I stuffed them with the smallest things I could find.
I was hoping to try to make my own version of the chocolate filled real eggshells that Martha Stewart created a few years back, but I wanted mine to be more like a Kinder Surprise egg with a toy or small item inside. I also took inspiration from hollow chocolate eggs that contain smaller chocolates and candies, as these make a pleasing rattling noise when you shake them, and I can never wait to find out what is inside.
I learned a lot through mistakes along the way (which I’ll go into obnoxious detail about in a later post), but here is what did work for me.
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· comments  · 03-30-2010 · categories:craft · food · holidays ·
Dear census people: Oh creepy! First you sent us a letter to let us know the census was going to arrive, then the census arrived (which we filled out and returned), then you sent a postcard to let us know the census should have arrived. And now you’re in my fortune cookie. Cut it out.
p.s. Should you ever be in Seattle the hand shaved noodles at Shanghai Garden are excellent.
update: To be a bit clearer, actual fortunes were printed on the other side of these slips of paper, I knew that the Census Bureau had purchased space on the back of the fortunes, I think it is important to make sure that people know why being counted matters, and I applaud the Census Bureau for doing something with such a sense of humor. I was just surprised to be so incredibly well informed that the census was going on.
· comments  · 03-30-2010 · categories:mumbling · seattle ·
The next morning it was beautiful. The sun was glorious, the temperature was perfect, everybody was happy. And of course we were off to the airport by 9 a.m. Figures.
We got to the airport too early, the ticket counter wasn’t even open yet. We couldn’t even find it. Turns out, the airlines share counters and so there wasn’t a sign. Instead it shows up on the monitors when the check in gates open. (More of what we learned at Charles du Gaulle below.)
We flew Iceland Air because they were having a special to introduce their nonstop flights in and out of Seattle. It’s about 3 hours from Paris to Iceland, then 7 hours from Iceland to Seattle. It’s a long haul but wasn’t nearly as bad as what I was prepared for. And I think 7 hours on a plane is about my limit so I actually appreciated having that change.
The Iceland airport is small, we never saw it with all the shops open, but they do sell mini bottles of booze at the snack bar. I got some candy as well:
Here I have two sorts of menthol licorice, one regular licorice, one salted licorice and, just behind the potato chips, a chocolate egg that rattled pleasingly when I shook it. Inside were two caramels, two menthol licorice pieces and a small fortune written in Icelandic, and which I sadly lost!
Flying back we stayed inside sunshine the whole way, it was far easier to stay awake. We saw a lot of broken ice floating on water below us.
Remember that website that did nothing but collect pictures of airline meals from all over the world? What was that? Is it still around? We got these cold chicken meals:
Look, my chicken has a red mustache.
The tiny dessert was cherry mousse with chocolate shavings.
Later they handed out customs forms on the plane and I dutifully filled them out, adding up my receipts from Muji carefully.
Having the movies and tv shows on the screen in front of me was great, but I also loved poking around and finding this Survey. I disagreed.
We landed mid-day in Seattle but had been awake for about 20 hours. And it wasn’t until we’d collected our luggage, insisted to customs several times that, no, we didn’t have chocolate in our bags, made it all the way home and were sleepily unpacking that I noticed I’d left my wallet on the plane. Oy. After much effort on my part I had it back (minus $100, ouch).
We went out for big burgers to make me feel a bit better.
Stuff learned the hard way
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· comments  · 03-30-2010 · categories:travel ·
The next morning I woke up really early, around 4:30 a.m. It was windy outside and I was hoping it would calm down since we had planned on going to Versailles that day. But it didn’t it got worse. I watched as it got light, then dark again. It was Purim that weekend so I watched as people walked back and forth delivering gifts. They were wrapped up against the cold and the blowing rain but still looked like they’d rather be indoors. The wind got louder and a shutter on the other corner started to bang sharply whenever the wind gusted. I watched as a lady turned the corner to walk down our street, take three difficult steps into the wind, then turn and go back.
And then I watched as through this an old man on a bicycle came riding down the street into the wind (remember: shutters banging, wind howling, rain pelting, pedestrians fleeing) at a leisurly pace, like nothing was going on. With a lit cigarette in his mouth. In my memory he looks exacly like this.
Eventually the others woke up and we looked blearily out at the bleary weather and canceled our plans to go to Versailles. None of us were in the mood to be on our feet all day, much less be on our feet with periods of walking through horrible weather while not quite seeing gorgeous gardens through the rain. So we got coffee instead:
And when the crepe guy finally opened we got crepes:
Watching him work was huge fun.
And you know what’s open on Sunday in Paris? Nothing. Well not quite, the major museums are open and now I know why, because nothing else is open. Pro tip: schedule your museum visits on Sundays and your shopping on Fridays.
Jeff found that there was a (enter name of hipster Japaense Gap-like store which I cannot remember the name of here) open in a mall out at the Grande Arche in La Défense (a group of skyscrapers just outside of Paris, the most striking visual of this area is the big, square arch that is opposite the Arch de Triumph). So we took the Metro out to see a more modern part of Paris. Half of the stores in this mall were closed and it made for a less than exciting foreign mall visit. I did get to go to a Zara though, did you know they examine their flow of goods in real time? They can tell if a shirt isn’t selling or is selling and immediately put through further instructions to their factories.
I never mentioned this hip pouch that I bought from Redbird Style before we left. I love it. It held my passport, phone and/or camera and some extra money close to my body and under my coat but didn’t mean that I succumbed to the money pouch thing. And I requested one with a removable pouch so I could also use it as a belt. (A note for the fabric buyers among you, yes both the skirt and the pouch are from recent Alexander Henry home collections, and it was a complete coincidence. But they go together pretty well.)
This was a billboard we saw in the Metro a lot. I didn’t pay much attention and thought it was an ad for jazz music, maybe? But focusing on it revealed it was probably trying to sell us fireplaces. Sexy, sexy fireplaces.
We exited the Metro (RER? can’t remember) and up to a wide courtyard looking right up at the La Grande Arche. I didn’t know this at the time but it’s deep enough that it forms a perfect square, the sides hold government offices, the roof holds a convention center, and visitors can go to see the view from the roof, more at Wikipedia. It was impressive, but it was also so windy it sucked the breath right out of us. So I got a picture of the thumb before we retreated indoors:
We found ourselves in a McDonalds. It was hard to tell at first. I like the lamps off in the corner:
But I spotted the McMacarons I had read about from Cakespy‘s Twitter just a day before.
Half of the shops in the mall were closed so we went home and poked around the neighorhood a bit more, we bought sandwiches for the plane and I found more interesting chips:
I love the color of this door, which we could see from our living room:
I adore the window decal of the street lamp in this apartment window:
And I found one more space invader:
We spent some time packing, and I’m really glad we did since I barely fit everything. (I would have last-minute packing worry dreams for a few days after we got home.) Then we went to grab burgers at the window that was just down from the crepes and just across from the falafel places:
You know what isn’t so smart? Asking for cheeseburger at a Kosher restaurant. Oops. Luckily it seems like maybe I wasn’t the first person to do this and they had good humor about the request. Scott picked a random drink for his meal, which we later found was lemonade and beer mixed together:
I’m glad we spent the last night in our own neighborhood, I’ll miss the Marais.
Then we sipped wine and watched some of the last of the Olympics coverage, barely, barely staying awake for the end of the US vs. Canada hockey game.
Things I learned the hard way:
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· comments  · 03-29-2010 · categories:travel ·
· comments  · 03-26-2010 · categories:iphone · links · technology ·
The next day we were back in Paris, it was overcast but not actually raining so we headed to Monmarte to see Sacré-Cœur, and the view from the top of the steps.
If you take the Metro in your ticket will allow you to also take the funicular (hillside tram). The path from the Metro stop to the funicular is through a narrow street packed full of people. There are fabric shops (nothing I spied looked of interest, sadly) and clothing (maybe resale?) shops that sell goods by weight. It was Saturday and chaotic, so hold onto your bags and zip your pockets.
A little warning for you, at the base of the steps leading up to Sacré-Cœur and near the funicular you’re likely to run into what were introduced to me as the String Men. They are an aggressive lot of hustlers who approach you and tie a string around your wrist if you’re not looking, then ask you for money since they’ve given you something. We encountered some and, honestly, they were creepy, fast and freaked me out a bit. So, look out for them, keep your hands in your pockets or crossed in front of you, and you might not have to deal with them. This part of Monmarte, where all the tourists are, is reportedly the worst of it, the rest is a fairly normal neighborhood.
At the top of the funicular sat this lady playing an accordion. Check out the shoes. According to the flyer on her van she also does burlesque.
You can do a look inside the church, and it’s amazing inside, though in terms of designs I liked the interior of Notre Dame more. You have to stay very quiet, pictures of any sort are forbidden, and all men have to take off hats. We sat and watched the guard who is in charge of requesting the removal of hats for a while.
It was Saturday so there were lots of people sitting on the steps looking at the view.
This poor busker was somewhat upstaged by not one, but two bridal parties there to get pictures.
All around Paris are these metal stands with translucent plastic bags where you can dump your trash. They’re very convenient, not creepy, and stay far more clean seeming than the heavy city trash cans I’m used to.
On the way back down to the Metro I got a small bag of roasted chestnuts. I love chestnuts.
The colorful striped train seat caught my eye.
That night we took one of those boat tours of the Seine on the Bateaus-Mouches. It was raining again, pelting actually, so we sat inside below (as opposed to the outdoors seating on the top). We passed a lot of beautiful buildings but the out of focus shot of the Eiffel Tower doing it’s sparkly light show best illustrates the ride. Should you find yourself in the same situation I recommend sitting on the left side of the boat, it’s actually easier to look up and see the various monuments and palaces across the river on the far side than from the right side of the inside of the boat. They have a recorded tour playing but it points out things to the port and starboard sides, and besides a few facts doesn’t add a huge amount of information.
We were soaking wet and half an hour late for dinner, but the restaurant was gracious about it, thank goodness. And so some of the best roasted chicken in my life was had at La Rotisserie d’En Face.
Stuff learned the hard way:
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· comments  · 03-25-2010 · categories:travel ·
It was on this day that I started to suspect I might be a rain god. We had planned to spend the morning visiting either a grand estate, or having good old fashioned tea in a large family home. But it was raining again, and when we stepped out the front door my umbrella blew inside out. So we headed to see more of Nottingham, and Scott and I rode a double decker bus for the first time, the staircase of which is shown above.
Missed photo opportunity here: Laura and Andy still get milk delivered and I forgot to grab a picture of it waiting on the stoop.
It was so rainy we couldn’t see anything from the front window of the two-story bus. It was still thrilling to ride it, though.
First we visited a very old church. Outside they used old tombstones to pave the courtyard.
Some very old, very dead people.
The entryway had big heavy doors with different tiles, this one was my favorite.
Then it was nearly eleven in the morning and we figured it was time for cake. We went to The Walk, which had recently been profiled in the New York Times. The place was lovely and cozy and offered an impressive display of cakes. The waitresses all wore fascinators in their hair. The dishes and tea pots are all different, and I especially liked my fancy fork.
This lemon cake was so good. I want to fly back so I can eat more.
And you might not believe me but this Battenberg Cake was delicious as well, even the almond paste covering was yummy.
Then it was another stroll through John Lewis where I fell hard for this chair. The smiling man in the background was happy enough to end up in the frame as long as I didn’t mind.
Cake forks! Forks are made just for eating cake. We need a set of these.
The British are serious about their chocolate Easter treats, and I think this was the largest chocolate egg we saw on our trip.
I forgot to mention that I did buy some yardage from John Lewis, some of which is laminated and I didn’t realize under after it was cut that perhaps folding it and shoving it into a suitcase wasn’t the greatest idea. Luckily it made it home just fine.
We bought sandwiches for the train and I got a picture of these chips, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy them.
Then it was back to Laura and Andy’s house for lunch. They have a lovely back yard and I was sad it was too wet to sit outside and look at it.
Daisy was interested in what was being prepared.
I have such trouble getting pictures of Scott without the “someone is taking a picture of me” face. I have the same problem myself.
Lunch was delicious, pasta with lemon, mushrooms, thyme I think and just a bit of garlic. It was perfect for an almost-Spring but still cold and damp day.
Then it was off to the train. On the way to the station we passed this, the only one of it’s kind in the UK:
On behalf of all reasonable Americans I would like to apologize to the entirety of the UK. We are sorry.
Thing I learned the hard way
Umbrellas: it’s worth investing in one that won’t turn inside out.
Previously: Day One arrival and beating jet lag; Day Two big impressive monuments, unexpected meetings, needing to pee; Day Three The Metro, a museum, and French onion soup; Day Four dogs in paintings, startlingly large arches and towers; Day Five pastries and scoldings; Day Five the bit about the mangosteens; Day Six trains and vegetables; Day 7, Ye Olde-est Pub in England and a giant space suit
Next up: Day Nine accordions and chestnuts
· comments  · 03-24-2010 · categories:travel ·
The other day I was passing by Wallingford Center and decided to stop in and have a look at the new home of Fabric Crush, which recently moved over from Magnolia. I was very excited to visit the shop for the first time after hearing good things about it from Robin of Red Bird Style.
The space is lovely, the tall windows let in lots of natural light and there are wide open spaces for you to wander in. Every fabric shop should have this light. The collection of fabrics, books, patterns and notions is very well currated and it’s so lovely to wander around looking at nothing but excellent fabrics.
She even carries some great oilcloth and laminated fabrics. Most fabrics are quilting weight cottons and it’s full of Amy Butler, Alexander Henry, Michael Miller, Free Spirit, I even spotted some of the Jessica Jones (aka How About Orange) home decorating weight fabrics.
I was surprised to find out that she carries some fabric lines that have local connections. Clothworks Textiles is based in Seattle. I know I saw some of the Fleur Nouveau fabrics designed by Don Baker. They carry fabric wheels of the Robert Kaufman fabrics designed by Josephine Kimberling. And I found out that Kona Bay is a Washington company. Fabric Crush stocks some of the Japanese fabrics they import each year and offer at good prices.
Fabric Crush is lovely and if you live near Seattle I highly recommend you rush right ove to have a look. It’s right next to Bad Woman Yarn and just down the hall from Trophy Cupcake, it couldn’t get much better.
· comments  · 03-23-2010 · categories:craft · seattle ·
Herbed-Baked Eggs › shutterbean.
The Foppish Baker: Crumpets. This is how I bake too, last minute and with all sorts of things missing.
Homemade liqueur lollipops meant to be swirled into a glass of champagne, at Martha Stewart. So cool. Via Susan at Juniper Moon Fiber Farm, whose links (and life!) are always amazing.
Waffled falafel (and the secret to perfect hummus) – Waffleizer.
The 5 Commandments of Sautéing Food | Serious Eats.
Little Lemon Souffles on marthastewart.com. I might try to make these before committing to a souffle pan.
Bread Cones | Bread Recipes.
Know Your Legumes : Give the humble little bean some respect – CHOW. A guide to beans, something I’m trying to learn more about.
Corned Beef and Cabbage, Caraway Soda Bread. This year I’m doing St. Patrick’s Day just the way Simply Recipes recommends.
Tasty Planner – Article – The Problem with Ice-Planets. Excellent. Via Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.
Erica’s Birthday Party, at make something. Love, love the ruffled cake.
Give us your lucious, your aromatic, your fantastic Olive Oils | Ask MetaFilter.
Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies : Our versions of Samoas, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints – CHOW.
Latest Food on a Stick: Pizza Pops! | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn.
SUCCEED Blog: Mondrian Cake.
How to saber a bottle of champagne (or any bubbly) « Cooking Issues.
coffee culture by shenkar college of engineering and design, ramat gan. Very interesting cups, and I like the slowly dissolving sugar pods.
Mobile Chowdown 3: Seattle vs. Portland Street Food | Serious Eats.
The Basics: How to Make Seared Chicken Breast : Flavorful, moist, boneless, skinless – CHOW.
Roast Your Own Coffee Beans With A Drill! | Apartment Therapy Unplggd.
angry chicken: eggs & rice with matcha salt. I like the technique for over-soft eggs that she talks about here.
Craftzine.com blog : How-To: Make Your Own Custom Copper Cookie Cutter.
Steve Jobs Cheese Head. Excellent, it reminds me of Meathead.
· comments  · 03-22-2010 · categories:food · links ·
· comments  · 03-19-2010 · categories:links · shopping ·
After sleeping in we headed out late to explore Nottingham, which was sadly rainy most of the day. I’m sorry I didn’t get pictures of breakfast, Laura and Andy had an enormous variety of delicious foods for us to sample. It was downright luxurious. Best, though, was their own homemade bread with lots of real butter. Mmmmm.
Above is the Sky Mirror, and it must be stunning on clear days with blue skies. As is it was pretty impressive. Next we went to the castle, an ancient structure that I didn’t get any decent pictures of. The grounds allow you views across the river and below you can see this old house set into the cliff, notice the roof of the round room in the corner.
Then it was over to see the statue of, what else?, Robin Hood.
And at this point it was nearly 11 a.m. and we happened to be near the oldest pub in England, Trip to Jerusalem. Here is the base of the hill below the castle, on the way to the pub. I can only imagine what is on the other side of these doors.
Here it is:
“Ye Olde” is actually in the name! It was interesting inside, all the rooms are carved from the stone and they are connected by narrow staircases, making the whole thing feel like a very civilized ant colony. With beer.
Looking up at the ceiling.
Proof that we actually had beers:
Next we wandered into the shopping areas and had a peek inside of Paul Smith. I really liked his perfumes, but was too intimidated to take a picture inside the shop. Just outside are two old red phone boxes, which Laura reports are disappearing.
Next we were off to Nottingham Contemporary art gallery to have a look at their space related exhibits and eat lunch in the cafe there, nice presentation for a humble burger:
I had to take a picture of the Royal Shield of Arms coins designed by Matt Dent, that all fit together like this. We only had three:
The most impressive thing on show at the gallery was this giant space suited man:
You can see the room guard sitting against the back wall just off to the right near the shoe, that black smudge? That’s the guy.
We could walk inside of the giant spaceman, here is Scott and Laura peeking into the helmet area where a pod chair was positioned so you could sit and look up out of visor:
I liked the details, these eyelets must have been made with the rings that go around burners in stoves? Or something?
They had held a futuristic fashion show inside the spaceman, here are a few of the outfits that were on display:
We ended the day with a trip to John Lewis. I tried to be discreet about taking pictures so please excuse the following, but I wanted to show how they sell fabric and yarn right in the store:
Upstairs was yardage of home design weight fabrics, lots of it also came laminated:
Downtown Nottingham was lovely, despite the overcast day. The interior roads are closed to traffic except for transit vehicles, and there are wide areas just for pedestrians. People were walking all around, it was calm and quiet without the sounds of rushing traffic and so nice. I really wish there were more cities in the US that were able to treat the main areas like this. Between all the great shops and the fantastic transportation I’ve decided I’d like to live in Nottingham, though Laura and Andy assure me I’d like Manchester a bit better.
A small traveling version of the London Eye happened to be set up while we were there. (Ok, fine, it’s just a regular ferris wheel, but look! a ferris wheel!):
update: I completely forgot to talk about our trip to the Muji store here. It was fantastic. I was so involved in shopping I completely forgot to get pictures. I bought a travel organizer (I’ve been throwing everything into one barrel shaped bag and, well, it doesn’t work all that well), three ice trays (marbles, spoons and diamonds!), two foaming soap containers which work much better than my very-reused old ones, some office supplies, some of those wooden block city sets (Paris and London) and I narrowly escaped before buying some furniture.
Back at Laura and Andy’s home we were treated to Toad in the Hole with vegetarian sausages, it was delicious. I think they said this was a Jamie Oliver recipe.
And dessert were two puddings we had picked out at Marks and Spencer foods the night before. Spotted Dick! and Sticky Toffee Pudding!
We wound down the day by getting comfy with Daisy:
And eating as many Cadbury Easter chocolates as possible. The creme eggs and mini eggs taste so much better than the ones we get in the US.
Things I Learned the Hard Way
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· comments  · 03-18-2010 · categories:travel ·
I’m caught unprepared this year! Clearly I don’t deserve my Irish heritage. Please check out these excellent Saint Patrick’s Day stuff from other people — Shamrock Badges at Design*Sponge, Bog Tea at Make Grow Gather. (“So in honor of St Paddy’s Day, I suggest that you brew some good, strong Irish tea, carry it outside, and drink in the world.” Lovely!) Corned Beef and Cabbage (which thankfully starts with a package of corned beef) and Caraway Soda Bread, both from Simply Recipes. (All images used above are from their respective sites.)
· comments  · 03-17-2010 · categories:holidays ·
On day six we took the Eurostar to London and a National Rail train to Nottingham to visit a our friends Laura (Busywork) and Andy. I was very excited about taking the train but, turns out, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped. We did end up going through the Chunnel, but they didn’t announce it or anything. It just got dark, and a few minutes later we were in the UK.
We did get some great advice from Laura on how to book a good train ticket, and I’ve added my own below.
We were hoping for more time in St. Pancras station since it’s filled with nice stores, and we were hoping to go next door to get a picture of Platform 9 3/4, but our train was late and by the time we found where to get our tickets and grabbed some food it was time to find the new train.
At this point in our trip I was in desperate need of some vegetables. I was over the moon to find some prepared broccoli and soba noodles with carrots! At this point these were the most precious and delicious things in my world. I was giddy while eating them, it was terribly silly.
I also spotted Scotch Eggs!
And these cute meat pies:
We were met at the Nottingham station (so nice!) and were soon exploring the neighborhood. First we went to the Nottingham Craft Mafia pop-up store. Apparently it had started as a temporary shop set up for the holidays but was so successful they stayed. It’s full of great things:
We passed a bank and Laura and Andy pointed out this cat who waits at the front door in the moring, comes inside and hangs out in the lobby all day, and leaves at night. Smart cat.
After this we went to Boots! I bought some Travel Calm (motion sickness pills that we can’t get in the states, and don’t have the heavy drowsy side effect of Dramamine) and looked through all the many goods. I didn’t buy nearly enough stuff here.
And then we went to a Marks and Spencer’s food store, it was amazing. Trader Joe’s pales in comparison.
The flavors of crisps here were amazing. I think we bought Honey Roasted Whiltshire Ham, which tasted uncannily like any barbeque flavored chip.
Look! Dessert spoons.
Later Scott got a Malteasers milk shake:
I was very tired so we all went to bed early.
Things I Learned the Hard Way
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· comments  · 03-17-2010 · categories:travel ·
Tomorrow night (Wed. Mar. 17th at 7pm) the Grassroots Business Association is having our Focus Group meeting where we’ll be reviewing each others business ideas. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And if you’re a regular please note the meeting will be in a new location, in the offices of Accounting For Small Business at 920 NE 64th Street, just across from the Ravenna Whole Foods, here is the Google map. You can find more details here, I hope to see you.
· comments  · 03-16-2010 · categories:events · seattle ·
· comments  · 03-16-2010 · categories:links · the home ·