Not Martha

giveaway: Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones

The kind people at Chronicle Books have offered two copies of Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones. It’s a fantastic book, filled with clothing, toys and accessories for baby and for you. (There is a bag I’d like to make for myself.) The book is very sturdy with a pocket to hold the patterns, clear illustrated instructions and a spiral binding so it will stay open on it’s own. Projects are marked on a scale of easy to difficult, but everything is equally charming.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Amy Butler’s Little Stitches for Little Ones please leave a comment with this entry. The winners have been notified, thanks to everybody for entering! The usual fine print applies. I’ll let the Random Number Generator choose the winners at 12 noon PST on Monday, September 1st.

Good luck!

· comments [866] · 08-28-2008 · categories:books · craft · sewing ·

The Lab at Velocity, podcast and past recordings now available

The Bring & Brag event at The Lab at Velocity Art and Design here in Seattle last week was fantastic. The Lab’s site will have a list of all the bragees soon but two that really stood out for me were Suspect and Fugitive, a year long project combining edible or temporary materials with fantastically bad puns, and Good Stock, custom books made from family photographs and writings. I suspect we’ll be seeing Good Stock will be in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine before not too long.

Also! You can listen to the recordings of past Labs here. You can also sign up to receive the Lab podcasts on the main page.

· comments [3] · 08-26-2008 · categories:events · seattle ·

thing I like, a laundry basket

Our laundry room is cramped and has two doors which access it, so if you leave the hard plastic cheapo laundry basket we used to have sitting on the floor and exit via door #1, somebody coming through door #2 would find the door was blocked by the basket. This made for a bit of unnecessary frustration. I thought all was hopeless until I came across this laundry basket at a Storables. It’s tall and holds a lot, but most excellently it is flexible, so not only are you able to grab it by the handles to take it downstairs but it will squeeze out of the way of door #2. Also, you will not bruise your shin if you stumble into it while moving laundry through the very cramped laundry room. Yay.

Seriously though, being able to carry it like a large tote makes it really easy to bring up and down stairs, rendering all other laundry baskets useless to me.

· comments [25] · 08-26-2008 · categories:shopping ·

the cookies, take two

I’ve been meaning to follow up on making the NYTimes chocolate chip cookies (here on the NYTimes site) but the weather turned too hot for cookies for a while there.

So, to catch up, I finally located the Valhrona feves that the recipe mentions at a Whole Foods. They were fun to locate, they are not in the baking aisle, not the chocolate aisle, not the bulk foods aisle. No, these were displayed in front of the aged cheese cave. But of course. Now, I get it, dark chocolate, good cheese and wine go together but I felt like an idiot for a while there.

The Valhrona feves are huge. I used larger than normal chocolate chips the first time, but I worried these would simply be too large for the cookies. Here is a picture of a feve scoop next to a chip scoop:

The special thing in this recipe is that you let the dough sit chilling in the fridge for 36 hours before you form and bake the cookies. This allows the dough to absorb all the liquid and reportedly gives a caramel-y depth of flavor to the cookies. I read a lot of people suggesting you form the dough into scoops before you chill it and I wondered if this was missing the point. So, I made one batch of dough and pre-scooped half of it, left the rest in the bowl and let everything chill for a couple of days. Then I scooped the remaining dough, and froze half of the pre-scooped and half of the post-scooped dough, just to see if scoops out of the freezer would make noticeably different cookies. It didn’t, so that whole step was beside the point.

Anyhow! There was a difference between the halves of dough. The dough that was pre-scooped was noticeably lighter in color than the dough left to chill in the bowl:

This batch, sadly, spread too much when baked and I know why, it was too warm the night (way back) that I made the dough. Not pretty, but they still taste good. We, amateur cookie tasters that we are, couldn’t taste a difference between the pre and post-scooped dough.

Obviously I’ll have to do another batch to see if I can get the consistency right next time. Valhrona feves, by the way, are expensive. I used just under a pound, and that seemed like it was a lot of chocolate so you could probably get away with a little less. I prefer the flavor of the Valhrona chocolate, but I think Scott liked the Ghirardelli chips a bit better. Either way, yum.

· comments [23] · 08-25-2008 · categories:food ·

Calphalon Kitchen Essentials at Target

Yesterday Scott and I found ourselves in a Target so new that Google Maps refused to believe that the address existed (so much for the convenience of being able to look up driving directions on the iPhone). While we were looking for the aisle where the doomsday-sized packages of Ivory soap are kept we passed some things marked clearance in the kitchen area. So, we bought a big 2 quart brother for the tiny 1 quart saucepan I bought a while back instead of spending a lot more on a shinypretty All-Clad. I’m giving some serious consideration to the 3 quart saute pan with a lid, something we’ve been improvising a lot lately by wrapping a splatter screen in tin foil and weighing it down with a plate. An actual lid would be way safer than our current method, don’t you think?

So, while the Calphalon Kitchen Essentials aren’t quite as sexy as All-Clad I’ve been pretty darn happy with the one I have. If you need a saucepan I can recommend getting yourself to a Target and seeking out one of these while they are on sale. The 2 quart size is on sale for $28 (instead of $40) and I forget the sale price on the 1 quart size, though I think I bought mine for $17 earlier this year. They are heavy enough to hold heat nicely and clean up easily and, happily, these are dishwasher safe.

· comments [17] · 08-22-2008 · categories:food · shopping ·

interview at CraftBoom

My interview with CraftBoom is up, go read to discover which questions submitted by you kind people that I answered. Thank you so much for all the questions, I think I might answer more of them because I’m so grateful so many people took the time to submit them.

A huge thanks to Lisa, whom you might know better as the lady behind U-Handbag, where she sells hard to find handbag supplies, and the fabulous site U-Handblog.

· comments [7] · 08-22-2008 · categories:craft · mumbling ·

links: the home

DIY Woodpecker Feeder at AT

What kinds of food plants will grow inside by a window? at Ask Metafilter

A movable pendant light at Ikea Hacker, we need to do something like this for our dining room table.

Magnetic make up brush organizer at Ikea Hacker. Good idea.

the native poppies flower poster at Blissen, I want one of these for my blue art wall (which has one thing on it so far).

Growing Cascade hops at home, at Imbibe.

We have a street lamp in front of our house that seems inordinately bright. at Ask Metafilter

Tree Shower Curtain at Product Dose

How to soften new sheets at SundryBuzz

insider’s secret weapon for wine stains: oxiclean at Shelterrific

Wonder Soil Wafers at Outblush

Quick, easy, temporary, and beautiful LED garden lights at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

· comments [1] · 08-21-2008 · categories:the home ·

Zenith Supplies for soap, candles, lotions and perfumes

Why did it take me so long to finally get myself into Zenith Supplies here in Seattle? It’s only a half a block down from the Ravenna Whole Foods, I have missed out on so many opportunities to go and admire tiny lip balm containers.

In short, Zenith Supplies sells all the things you need to make candles, soap, lotions, balms, perfumes, things for your body, the bath and your home. I went in hoping to find some DPG for making my own reed diffuser scents and not only did they have it but they had a recipe, bottles, reeds, perfumers alcohol and a more than impressive selection of essential and fragrance oils. They have candle and soap molds, jars and bottles of all sizes, lotion bases and bulk oils, salts and dried herbs, more waxes and additives than I knew existed. But most thrillingly they had an excellent selection of small jars for lips balms and solid perfume including the elusive clear plastic compact. They had those old fashioned metal sliding tins, little rollerball containers for scents and teeny pipetts, small atomizers and all sorts of packaging supplies. You can buy just one of anything, which sounds awfully good to me, the girl who still has well over 100 pipettes from my lip balm making experiments. The store is large, clean and orderly and the staff was perfectly happy to answer all my inane questions. It is, as I had been warned by Yelp, a little hippy dippy, expect to find crystals and books on healing arts. I see a solid perfume in my future and maybe, maybe, some serious soapmaking.

· comments [9] · 08-21-2008 · categories:beauty · craft · seattle · shopping ·

links: food

What are the best cupcakes you’ve ever ever had? How can I make them? at Ask Metafilter

I made cheese! at Cupcake Show

These tomato bites shown at Yum Sugar are cute.

What is the best recipe (and wine) for Beef Bourguignon? at Ask Metafilter

‘Iron Chef’ Secrets Revealed at ABC News

Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions at the NYTimes

Looking for home storage solutions for bulk items such as flour, sugar, rice. at Ask Metafilter

IceOrb at Cool Hunting, this is nice. The video on the Fusion Brands shows all the uses. They make a lot of cool things.

The Best Granola at Pro Bono Baker

I want one of these two piece magnetic truffle molds, shown at Ideas In Food.

· comments [4] · 08-20-2008 · categories:food · recipes ·

good lip balm, recommended with reservations

From left to right we have:

#1: Labello Caregloss & Shine lip balm from Canada that I bought last year and loved so much because it was conditioning and glossy and didn’t have a strong taste. This was apparently replaced because the next year when we went to Victoria all I could find was

#2 Nivea Caregloss & Shine. This was very similar but the formula had gained a cloying sweetness and the flavor of apricots. This still works really well but I just cannot put up with the flavor for very long. However I was pleased to recently find it being sold at my local Walgreens as

#3 Nivea A Kiss of Shine. This is exactly the same as the tube of #2 from Canada, I bought it hoping it wouldn’t be so sweet but no luck. Still, I’m really glad to see more Nivea lip products in the US since I’ve become a fan of them in the last year or so. I found these in a display that held lip glosses as well lip balms:

And the Nivea site has a list of stores where you’ll be able to find them soon.

Next on my quest for a good lip gloss that isn’t terribly sweet, I’ve been advised to seek the Shiseido glosses.

· comments [32] · 08-19-2008 · categories:beauty ·

Test 4

This is, sigh, test number four of attempts to post from my iPhone. Again please disregard unless you’re anxious to find out if I’ve gotten the photos to show up yet or not.

update: Alrighty. This is what I’ve learned about the iPhone app for WordPress, you cannot change the size that the image posts, at least not yet, so you’ll have the thumbnail linking to the larger image effect which is inconvenient. The image won’t automatically realign itself, which is something that worked with my old phone and it’s suspiciously awesome camera. (Will the photo automatically rotate in Flickr? Must investigate.) The image will always appear below the text. But, I’ve figured how to fix the ../../../tmp business going on. If you happen to be trying to figure out the same thing let me know.

· comments [13] · 08-18-2008 · categories:mumbling ·

giveaway: Complete Embellishing

Kayte Terry has a copy of her book Complete Embellishing to give away! I posted a little something about the book last week if you’d like to take a peek at it.

Please leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win this book, the usual fine print applies. I’ll let the random number generator choose a winner on Thursday at 10 a.m. PST. Thank you Kayte! All done, thank you to everybody!

· comments [396] · 08-18-2008 · categories:books · craft ·

Zigzaggers, a site for sewing machine reviews

Oops, I feel terrible about this, in my guest post over at Shelterrific on buying a sewing machine I completely forgot to include a link to a site called Zipzaggers where people send in reviews the older machines they have. She recently started a parallel site for new machines as well, New Zigzaggers. Krista wrote to let me know about this site a while ago and I’ve been meaning to find a reason to talk about it, I’m so sorry it slipped my mind. My thanks to Shelterrific and the commenter who called me on this one.

If you own a sewing machine, Zigzaggers would love to know what you think about it. The first question of the interview is “Love it, hate it, or something in between?”, and I find knowing that somebody doesn’t neccessarily love it is very helpful indeed.

· comments [1] · 08-18-2008 · categories:craft · sewing ·

The Lab – show and tell

The next Lab is this Wednesday, August 20th and it promises to be very interesting. It’s a grown up version of show and tell so people who have creative endeavors will be given a few moments to tell us all about it. I’m looking forward to this one, and I have inside information that we’ll get a closer look at the rings of Dave Sheely Designs. He’s started to embed jewels inside of resin and the effect is that the ruby is floating over your finger. Though, I totally have a soft spot for this one that contains beach glass possibly from an old Rainier beer bottle.

· comments [6] · 08-15-2008 · categories:events · seattle ·

how to buy a sewing machine

I have a guest post over at Shelterrific today on buying a sewing machine. This is always a question I dread, I know just enough to give a bit of advice but not enough to feel like I’m not potentially steering somebody towards spending a lot of money on something they don’t like, or worse, won’t use very often. So, here’s to hoping it helps a little.

· comments [6] · 08-14-2008 · categories:craft · sewing · shopping ·