· comments  · 01-31-2012 · categories:craft · links ·
My cookbook club met last weekend and our book this time around was Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims. I made pretzel sticks with three mustard dipping sauces. I lack proper serving bowls so I went with what I know, jars. Transporting dips in jars is ideal and even better is that at the end of the night you can take the dirty dishes home easily by simply putting the lid back on. You might recognize the jars above from some of my other projects: mug wraps I made for Real Simple, these held the optional cocoa mix, cobbler baked in jars and the big is from grapefruit tarragon infused vodka.
The pretzel sticks were made from scratch and while time consuming were worth it. I couldn’t find pretzel salt on short notice so I used chunky sea salt and it worked great. The mustard dips were easy as could be:
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced tender fresh herbs (chives, flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, and/or basil)
Roasted Garlic Mustard
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons puréed roasted garlic (for me this translated into one head of roasted garlic)
Smoke and Spice Mustard (my favorite)
- 1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
You can find the full recipe for the pretzel sticks as well as the recipe for the Green Pea and Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta over at Dishing with Cathy Casey and find a few other recipes over at the Gourmet Game Night website.
Green Pea and Mint Spread with Crispy Pancetta and Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms. The mint spread was surprisingly delicious.
Olive and Cheese Crakers which I couldn’t stop eating, they are savory but tender like a cookie, and Pickled Grape and Blue Cheese Skewers.
Stuffed Large Pasta Shells with Kale-Ricotta Filling and Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon-Chive Creme Fraiche which I really loved, like itty bitty potato skins.
We also tried Aged Cheddar with Dried Cherry-Almond Chutney which was great and Polenta Squares with Spicy Sausage and Spinach. Everything was easy to eat with fingers and little fuss, which was fantastic. I didn’t try any of the desserts and I forgot to get photographs of the drinks we tried, Manhattans with Spiced Cherries, Pomegranate-Mint Fizz and Key Lime Gimlets, all of which are made in pitchers making less fuss for the host or hostess. Looking through the table of contents I think I’ll also be trying the Spicy Meatballs with Yogurt-Cucumber Dip and Mini Shepards Pies in the future.
Did we play games? Nope, our group was too large and we knew we would be have plenty to talk about. Instead we used this night as an excuse to put on our fanciest dresses and sparkliest jewelry which we all agreed we don’t get enough chances to wear. It was a huge amount of fun, thanks ladies! I highly recommend doing something similar, wearing your fancy clothes without necessarily needing to be on your best behavior is a huge amount of fun.
· comments  · 01-30-2012 · categories:books · food ·
In the last week this game has saved my sanity. First as a late night distraction from stressing out over giving a presentation. Then as a distraction from being stuck in a plane for two hours before takeoff while the airport bumbled every step of de-icing and refueling while I was was seated a row in front of three strangers who had a particularly loud getting to know you conversation they never intended to last for hours but nobody seemed able to break. And last while I shivered through the cold I came home with. I could chart how bad my cold was based on my ability or inability to solve the puzzles. During day three I was apparently a zombie because when I was unable to solve level 2-2, a level I had done twice previously, I actually moaned “Uuuuhhhhnnng” out loud. While I was alone in the house.
Where’s My Water is a physics puzzler that involves coaxing a stream of water through pipes so that a frustrated alligator name Swampy can take a shower. The levels get more difficult, but never frustratingly so, and each section introduces a new aspect (steam! poison!). To make it more complicated each level has three rubber duckies that you can collect. Each section has a set of hidden items you can unearth, which in turn unlock a set of bonus levels containing more ducks. The game clearly displays the duck levels, it’s a completist’s dream come true. The game is Disney made and family friendly to the point that I almost skipped over trying it. I downloaded a few games that were reviewed as being similar but they barely held my interest or were quickly raised to not-worth-it levels of frustration. It has been a while since I found a game I like this much.
$.99 in the iTunes appstore or the Android Market, both offer free lite versions to test out. There are recently released additional levels for Cranky’s Story, at least for the appstore version, you can purchase in-app. (The update also finally takes down the Christmas theme my game had.)
· comments  · 01-27-2012 · categories:technology ·
· comments  · 01-26-2012 · categories:links · misc ·
· comments  · 01-25-2012 · categories:food · links ·
Last week I had the huge pleasure of rooming with Meg Keene while we were attending the Altitude Design Conference. Meg was there to speak and she had just started on her book tour for her shiny new book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration.
I wish this book existed when I was planning my wedding. It wish it a lot, and that is a sentiment I’ve heard from a bunch of people. Meg’s site A Practical Wedding, had just started and at that point it was just her writing and starting to figure out how to navigate this big life event that so many industries have their claws into. Her site quickly became one of my favorites as it worked as a place to go get my head straight after looking at sites and magazines that were trying to sell me perfection at a huge cost. And that is exactly what this book is, a thoughtful look at what a wedding should and can be. She works through tradition (and which things these days appear expected but aren’t actually traditional), intention for your self, intention for your family and community and how to navigate all the freaky emotional stuff that appears out of seeming nowhere. It’s like having a very cool older sister who went through all this already to help guide you on what is and what isn’t important. It doesn’t look down on weddings in general, and it doesn’t discount expensive weddings but also helps you create a rocking smaller affair. It helps you anticipate things you might not focus on and tells you that you’ll need help (you will) and how to ask for it. The book is sprinkled with essays from brides (Team Practical) telling about their own experiences, good and bad. The book is written with humor, grace and perspective and never stops feeling like she is talking right to you. If you or someone you know is getting married soon I cannot tell you enough how much you need this book. And get one for the moms involved too. And the bridesmaids. Oh heck, let’s just say all of the wedding party and everybody attending should read it too.
Meg is currently on her book tour! If you are at one of the stops you simply must go see her, she is funny and engaging and awesome. She is traveling across the country on Amtrak and reporting about the trip. It’s giving me serious train envy. Also, she’ll be interviewed on NPR’s Talk of the Nation on Thursday and she lists a few other radio appearances (including Martha Stewart Radio!).
· comments  · 01-24-2012 · categories:books ·
I’m back from Alt! I had intended to post while I was there but the very first morning my computer got borked (fixed now, yay!). The slideshow for our panel was all ready to go so other than feeling slightly disoriented (but my internets need the looking at!) I was fine. As usual I barely remembered to take photos, here are the ones I managed to get.
A snowstorm hit the morning we were leaving and I got to experience a plane de-icing for the first time. By the end of the trip I was more than used to it.
The second night was a Winter Wonderland Party (Diner en Blanc) where everybody dressed in white. My rommates, Meg from A Practical Wedding and Tabitha from Glitter and Ganache looked hottt. Meg is currently on her book tour (yay!) and crossing the US by Amtrack. Go see her!
Our shoes, but of course.
The last day was busy, in the morning Susan from Freshly Picked, Ez from Creature Comforts and I got to sit down and talk with Anya from Project Runway in the HP suite. We met her briefly at the crowded and busy Project Runway Reunion Party so it was great to sit and chat. Anya was amazing, she had such a great perspective on the whirlwind that is her life at the moment and what she wants to do next. Thanks HP!
HP held a contest similar to our HP Challenge from last September and look! They used the croquis that I had found.
After that was our panel, I forgot to get a photograph showing the scary, scary microphone. I was nervous but not nearly as much as last year. Thanks to everybody who attended, you all had great questions.
This is what I wore. I was unable to get a photo where I was not making a silly face.
That night was the party with Rue La La, I attempted a self portrait in front of their photobooth backdrop. Again with the silly face making, this was the least strange looking of the bunch. When the Rue La La photos are up I’ll link to them all. I had a great time making silly faces on purpose with a bunch of people. Update: The Rue La La photobooth photos are posted here, everybody looks so cute!
Tiny grilled cheese and soup was served, love!
Drunken 2 a.m. infinity mirror pick!
And guess what? It snowed as I was leaving, more de-icing and more delays but I got home without too much trouble. Which was good because in addition to tons of great swag I also brought home a cold. Urg.
I had a wonderful few days and I only wish I’d had more time to talk to everybody instead of the brief hellos in passing. Next year lovelies!
· comments  · 01-23-2012 · categories:events ·
I’m headed to the Altitude Design Summit tomorrow and I’m so excited. I’ll be speaking again this year (yay!) on a panel called Step by Step: How to Create Great DIY Tutorials with Ez from Creature Comforts (who I also had the pleasure of going to Fashion Week with!), Marie from Make and Takes (she also happens to live in Seattle) and Timothy from Charles & Hudson. I think it’s going to be a great session and I’m going to have to talk fast because I sent in way more photos for my sections than I was supposed to. Oops.
I’m also so very pleased to tell you that I’ll be co-hosting one of the Mini Parties on Friday night with Rue La La and Shelley of The House of Smiths. The party theme will be a ski chalet and we’ll be offering comforting little bites and a custom cocktail amongst sparkly wintery decor. There will also be some sweet giveaways throughout the night. If you’re going to be at Alt Summit I’d love it if you came by and said hello. If you don’t already stalk Rue La La’s daily offers I will be happy to get you two acquainted. You should also come by to see me attempt to wear actual heels for the first time, I would happily bet you money that I’ll tip over at least once.
· comments  · 01-17-2012 · categories:events ·
If you have a favorite bright pink lipstick I’d love to hear about it. The one pictured above is MAC Speak Louder and I love the color but find the formula a bit too drying for me, so something a bit moisturizing focused would be a plus. I’m headed out to try on Hair Thursday‘s recommendation of Dior Addict lipstick in Dior Kiss. While I’m asking I’d also love to hear if you have a go-to brand that I should focus on. Thanks!
· comments  · 01-13-2012 · categories:beauty ·
· comments  · 01-11-2012 · categories:links · travel ·
I’m still a fan of mushy grains and an egg for breakfast, so I was excited to try this new hot cereal I found in my market’s bulk section. It’s ground emmer, rye and whole flax seeds. Yummy right? Healthy and virtuous! So very Start Of The New Year Bragworthy and all that! So yesterday morning I cooked it, paused to take a photo before digging in and … rediscovered that I just don’t like flax seeds. They taste a bit fishy to me, urgh. Why do I keep trying?
Later I made up for it by making stew without a recipe. This is a milestone for me since I am not a natural cook. After following many, many recipes it seems I have managed to actually learn something. Yay! My (not so) secret: adding lots of red wine, finding nearly dessicated fresh thyme in the fridge and using twice as much Better Than Boullion as you think you’ll need. I used to be good at remembering to document what I made using my cheap-o red Dutch oven but this time I forgot to wield the camera until after all the stew was gone, so you get the aftermath photo. The stew was also an experiment to help decide if I want to keep my crock pot and I’m ready to say that I can make everything want in the dutch oven. We have a winner!
In balance I’m declaring victory. How has your new year been going?
· comments  · 01-10-2012 · categories:food ·
SEO for Non-dicks – Matt Legend Gemmell.
How to Save Your iPhone 4S’ Crappy Battery. I swear my brand new iPhone 4S has worse battery power than my three year old iPhone 3G. Sorta wish I’d gone for the iPhone 4 instead.
Tiny Tiger app : All & Sundry. Recommendation for an app for kids that is made right here in Seattle!
swissmiss | unroll.me. From Swissmiss: “an email unsubscribe engine that crawls through your inbox and pulls up a list of your subscriptions allowing you to choose which one to keep and which ones to unsubscribe from.” But, it doesn’t work for Google App hosted email accounts.
Great camera buying guide, at Kottke.
The internet’s Go Daddy issues at Kottke.
· comments  · 01-9-2012 · categories:links · technology ·
· comments  · 01-5-2012 · categories:craft · links ·
It’s long past due for a listing of the podcasts that fill my dish washing/laundry folding/email answering middle spaces. Here is my current list:
- Bullseye with Jesse Thorn This was up until this week called The Sound of Young America and it’s expanded to a include more segments and I love it. And I hope my Sound of Young America membership card is not completely worthless. Also, hugs to Ask Metafilter for being a sponsor.
- APM’s The Dinner Party (nee The Dinner Party Download, which I cannot stop calling it) It’s snappy, it’s witty, it’s done by Marketplace alums, and it always includes a cocktail recipe linked to a history lesson. Awesome.
- Slate’s Culture Gabfest A group of culture journalists discuss what went on in the past week. I deeply appreciate the Endorsements segment that they end the show with. It reminds me of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.
- NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour A group of culture journalists discuss what went on in the past week. I deeply appreciate the What’s Making Me Happy segment that they end the show with. It reminds me of
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I mean, Slate’s Culture Gabfest.
- The Moth Podcast True stories told both by people who are performers and those that aren’t. Always compelling.
- TED Talks These are short and very informative and though it’s really difficult to make it sound not terribly dry if you haven’t already listened (and I know you have, dear reader), it’s not.
- WTF with Marc Maron Interviews with comedians who are willing to open up and talk about the business and life and it’s fascinating.
- The Tobolowsky Files That character actor that you know from that thing has quite the way with storytelling.
- This American Life True story, the first time I hear This American Life on my car’s radio I sat in a parking lot for a very long time listening until the end just so I could find out what I was listening to. That was in 1998. I was crushed when Ira Glass got married.
- Nerdist I am smooth-baby-skin-new to this and the first one I chose to listen to (David Tenant, obviously) completely charmed me with Chris’ utter delight to be where he was talking to who he was talking to.
What podcasts do you love?
· comments  · 01-4-2012 · categories:technology ·
If you live in Seattle I recommend you head out to visit the Curio Confections bake sale this Thursday and Friday evenings. This bake sale is put on by Maria Friedman who previously owned the (very missed) Curio Confections and she is providing a whole lot of goodies from her own kitchen so expect the offerings to be outstanding.
If you’d like to contribute something you can get in touch with Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-979-2442. More info can also be found on Facebook both here and here. See you there?
· comments  · 01-3-2012 · categories:seattle ·