Not Martha

links: christmas

Diamonds for Dessert: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree….

Extreme Cards and Papercrafting: Sliceform Christmas Tree Tutorial.

Table’s Set: Decorate A Chocolate Martini with a Hanging Cherry « Saucy Sisters. | lump of coal cachette.

Design*Sponge » diy project: kristen’s ruffly felt wreath.

Gifted Magazine – Holiday Inspiration & Gift Guide. Completely in love with this online magazine.

shelterrific » a minimal christmas tree: the filigrantrae.

shelterrific » strangely appealing: tannenboing.

Great Knitted and Sewn Gifts to Get Started on for the Holidays! – the purl bee. I like how simple and bright the advent calendar (halfway down) is!

DIY Gifts | Ask MetaFilter.

Christmas Tree Cut-Out Craft Project.

Modern & eco friendly Christmas trees | Fab Mums.

DwellWellNW |

ikat bag: Paper Christmas Tree Advent Calendar.

Tuesday To-Do: Cone Advent Calendar Banner.

Elegant Gourmet, 13-inch candy cane tree. I want this, if only it wouldn’t melt so easily in the damp winters here.

8 Great DIY Wreaths Roundup | Apartment Therapy San Francisco.

Homemade Gift Ideas – iVillage. Round up of edible gift ideas created by food bloggers.

Tegu LIVE! (NOTCOT). Tegu blocks as Christmas presents? Check.

DIY Tutorial: Mod “Table Tree” Centerpiece // Hostess with the Mostess®.

DIY 5 Minute Tinsel Garland Wreath – Home – Creature Comforts and DIY Holiday Wreath Roundup.

Advent Calendar Pattern Now Available at Make it Do. Via Design Mom.

Felt Holiday Ornament Craft Pattern by Alicia Paulson. I think I’m going to buy myself this, it’s so pretty. Note the two other felt ornament patterns she offers as well.

Felt Tree Bottle Covers – Martha Stewart Crafts. Simple and lovely.

Design^Sprout | Cheap, Chic and Oh-So-Green DIY Ornaments!. So nicely easy to do.

Twig & Thistle » Blog Archive » Magnetic Holiday Advent Calendar DIY.

Diy: Icicle Chandelier :

Holiday mixtape : All & Sundry.

Molly’s Sketchbook: Felt Christmas Tree Pins – the purl bee.

Jordan Ferney | Oh Happy Day!: Felt Ball Garland. Very much like the Anthropologie one that is so well loved this year, a very easy project.

DIY: Bottles Full of Light, at Design Mom.

· comments [6] · 11-30-2010 · categories:christmas · links ·

Our First Turkey, the Gravy Experiment Outcome

Our Low Maintenance Thanksgiving* somehow still came to include two versions of gravy. I made the Serious Eats Dead Simple Turkey Gravy as an experiment and as a backup gravy and, under the hugely appreciated guidance of Glitter Pissing (Seattle area artist well worth knowing), I made a pan gravy after roasting our first turkey.

The outcome? You might ask? Serious Eats’ Marmite gravy FTW.

I did successfully made a gravy from the drippings of our roasted turkey. A little fat + flour to do a roux, then adding dairy (in our case 2% milk), then the rest of the drippings and stir, stir, stir. It turned out something that looked divine but tasted far too salty. (This judgment, it may be important to note, is coming from a girl that would rather have a salt bagel than dessert under any circumstances. So a too-salty gravy is quite significant.) No fault of the traditional directions, but more of the over two days spent brining.

I didn’t have the time (or the, uh, before-the-fact research) for the Pioneer Woman’s tips on How To Control Saltiness After Brining, so we went with the Serious Eats gravy. And you know what? It was better than good. Not transcendent, I would need somebody other than myself to be cooking for that, but it can be credited with making our Thanksgiving something to remember fondly. (Um. Especially since I cooked the turkey a lot longer than it should have been.)

The photo above shows the gravy in a piped bowl of Duchess Potatoes, the recipe for which I found over at Baking Bites. The piped bowl shape of the potatoes was inspired by our very first meal in Paris earlier this year when I unadventurously ordered the chicken-something-or-other and it came with a bit of gravy in a divot in the potatoes:

TLDR?: Marmite gravy is a keeper.

* We devoted most of the long weekend to finally (finally) painting our bathroom walls.

· comments [18] · 11-29-2010 · categories:food · holidays ·

FLOR carpet tiles

FLOR tiles in six different oranges

We finally bought some lounge-y type chairs for the empty spot in our dining room. I really wanted ones with arms (these chairs we spotted in Vegas would have been ideal) but after looking at every lounge chair I could and finding none that fit into the two categories that were imperative (A: I like them, and B: they are something less than $3000) I gave in and we bought inexpensive armless chairs. (We found them here at Overstock.) They work well because they don’t block the sightlines to the large mirror that leans against a wall off to one side. The mirror is huge and heavy and came into our possession when the people who previously owned this house left it behind. It’s so heavy I suspect we will also be leaving it behind.

our gray chairs

Here are chairs looking really boring.

Now we need a rug to go under the chairs and sort of define the space. We hope it will say “this is where we sit and sip martinis”. Or at the very least “this rug is here so the chairs won’t slide as you go to sit down”. The space is a size that most area rugs won’t work for as we walk through that corner to get in and out of the dining room. So a 5×8 area rug would stick out too far and I’d constantly be tripping on the corner (and dramatically dropping platters of food). A 4×6 rug wouldn’t be wide enough to allow all eight chair legs to rest on the rug. We need a 4×7 rug, so it was off to FLOR to decide on a color.

FLOR paper included in samples that reads Say hello to your FLOR samples

FLOR tiles, if you have not already come across them, are modular carpet tiles about 20″x20″. They are created from recycled or renewable materials where they can, low VOC, made mostly in the US and you can return them to the factory for recycling if you ever decide you no longer need them. If you spill something on one of them you can pick it up and wash it. And, important for our purposes, they can be trimmed to fit the size you need. Neat huh? Read more about the tiles and the company here.

our orange dining room wall

This is our dining room wall color.

I spent three days changing my mind about what color rug we needed. White! It would get dirty too quickly. Gray! Black and white stripes! Teal! Scott pointed out that an orange to go with our dining room wall would work well. The house is oddly laid out and you cannot really stand somewhere and be able to see the area rug and the wall in the same view so the amount of orange hopefully won’t be overwhelming.

six tiles laid out on the floor

Shown above: Fez in Orange, Toy Poodle in Persimmon, Fedora in Cayenne / Toy Poodle in Clementine, Feelin’ Groovy in Orange, Making Waves in Clementine.

We ordered six samples, they come 6″x6″, and I’m very glad we did as they look very different in person than on the website. (This may largely be the fault of my lack of a good computer monitor.)

clementine vs. orange, two tiles left

We narrowed it down to these two, Toy Poodle in Clementine and Feelin’ Groovy in Orange. After seeing them in daylight and at night we’ve chosen clementine as our color, it’s the lighter one above. The colors in the photo aren’t quite right, the Orange looks better up there, so you’ll just have to trust me. Though, I really really wish they still had the yellow-flecked orange they show as a design element at the top of this page:

p.s. The FLOR site has lots of great chairs in their example room photos. I want the violet/magenta ones shown on this page.

After that I need this Martini table from West Elm to hold our martinis. See? Perfect.

· comments [34] · 11-26-2010 · categories:the home ·

Thanksgiving recipes

These are all things I wanted to keep tucked away for another year when I’m not painting some walls and can spend the entire long weekend in the kitchen instead:

How to Brine a Turkey | Easy Turkey Brine Recipe | Savory Sweet Life. Just what I needed as this year we’ll be making our first turkey.

Design*Sponge » past & present: gravy boat, tureen & salt cellar. The history of normal objects is always more interesting than I expect.

Gravy – Vegetarian and Gluten-Free « Dana Treat.

Pumpkin Cheesecake in-a-jar « Chez Pim.

Pumpkin Cream Pie › shutterbean.

The One Pie Dough to Rule Them All « Chez Pim.

Cranberry Sauce and a Thanksgiving Explosion — Joy the Baker.

Thanksgiving for Beginners – CHOW.

The Food Lab Thanksgiving Special: Ultra-fluffy or Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes | Serious Eats.

The Food Lab’s Guide to Thanksgiving Day Planning | Serious Eats.

Pioneer Woman’s Tips on How to Control Saltiness After Brining | Serious Eats.

· comments [7] · 11-24-2010 · categories:food ·

Our First Turkey, the Gravy Experiment

gloved hand holding Marmite and pink sugar

This is how I ended up braving a snow storm in Seattle and came home with a jar of Marmite and some pink sugar.

Yesterday as a big snow storm was starting to really get going I sat down to research how to make gravy. I started to panic a bit as I found recipe after recipe that involved sauteed onion/carrot/celery and needed turkey stock and included scraping up the lovely browned bits from the bottom of a roasting pan. Because we rarely (see also: never) roast large things we don’t have a proper roasting pan and we’ll be using one of those wire reinforced aluminum deals. Also seeing as we’re having our low-maintenance Thanksgiving I was resistant to go through all the gravy steps. Then I found this recipe for Dead Simple Turkey Gravy at Serious Eats and knew I’d just have to try it. But I didn’t have any Marmite in the house. So I bundled up and headed out to try to get back before the streets froze over.

You see, here in Seattle we get a particularly nasty slippery sort of snow that quickly freezes into a pretty layer of black ice covered in more slippery snow resulting in things like last night’s fiasco of 8 hour commutes home, speeds of 1.2 MPH on I-5, bendy buses sliding and blocking all lanes of the highway, cars running out of gas and being abandoned along the side of the highway and cars attempting to climb hills only to slide allll the way back down*. I felt so very bad for everybody stuck in traffic for 8+ hours. Gah. Seattle, despite all it’s best efforts, just cannot handle snow. I grew up in Ohio and know how to drive in the snow here. That is to say, by not driving if at all possible. I wasn’t taking my own advice.

ingredients for Marmite gravy

I found the Marmite in the baking aisle and spotted the colored sugar while I was walking past. It reminded me I’d been meaning to try to make colored kettle corn using the advice a few people gave me. This is how I ended up with the pink sugar. And a bottle of pink prosecco to go with it.

herbs in the gravy mixture

I made the gravy this evening and I’m a little skeptical. I added a few of the herbs I bought to go on the roasting turkey, sage, rosemary, thyme, during the simmer stage. On Thanksgiving I’ll add what juices I can pour out of our aluminum roasting pan and heat the gravy while the turkey is resting. I’ll report back on how it turns out.

pink popcorn and pink prosecco

The popcorn, sadly, didn’t have as bright a pink outcome as I’d hoped. But it was yummy and fun to eat while watching snow fall past the windows.

* Abandoned cars, closed airports and roads frozen before salt could do it’s work certainly did happen in Ohio. But the infrastructure of plows and rescue vehicles was larger and untangled things before the local news could get to feigning absolute doom. Also, Ohio was flat as a pancake when compared to Seattle’s hills.

· comments [24] · 11-24-2010 · categories:food · holidays ·

Our First Turkey, the Brining

tag of my fresh turkey marked 11.7 pounds

Vegetarians look away! Raw turkey flesh photographed in poor lighting adorns this post. Photography lovers might as well look away too.

We’re having a Room Painting and Turkey Roasting Thanksgiving this weekend. We’re taking advantage of the stretch of uninterrupted days to get a chance to paint the bathroom. Finally. It’s been an unattractive beige for more years than I’d like to admit. In order to spend more time painting and less time cleaning up in the kitchen we’re taking a few shortcuts (boxed stuffing, can shaped cranberry) that I’d like to think of as nostalgia rather than outright laziness. I am from the Midwest after all, these are the traditional dishes as I remember them. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to cook a turkey for the first time.

I bought this one from Bob’s Quality Meats in my neighborhood. It’s been there for three generations, I hear, and the sign is a fixture. I have to admit that I was intimidated going in for the first time but I was greeted cheerfully and instantly fell in love. Yay for awesome and old school local butchers! I was a little late in ordering my turkey and ended with the 10-12 pound range. Mine came out to be closer to 12 pounds. Gulp.

brine ingredients

Just as I was realizing I needed to learn to brine a turkey Savory Sweet Life came out with this perfect Easy Turkey Brine Recipe. I had been thinking I was going to need to buy a cooler to brine my turkey but Alice points out that the lower drawer of a fridge is just the right size for this. She uses a plastic turkey sized oven bag, brilliant.

the fresh turkey, all waiting to be brined

The photo above marks the point that Scott saved Thanksgiving. I tentatively poked around the turkey and pulled out the neck but couldn’t find the giblets. So I shrugged and started pouring the brine over the top (that’s the little green bits you’re seeing). Scott decided to keep looking and, other turkey noobs take note!, found the bag of giblets tucked in the neck cavity. Thank you Scott, you’re my hero.

turkey in brine bag in the lower drawer of the fridge

I washed the bottom drawer of our fridge very carefully, though I’m happy to report it was very clean following a massive and likely Hoarders-inspired scrub down of the interior of the fridge last summer. Should it spill all the brine will end up in the drawer and not, hooray, dripping down other stuff in the fridge.

And there it sits in the fridge. Tomorrow I’ll turn it over. So far so good.

· comments [17] · 11-23-2010 · categories:food · holidays ·

Kit Kat Cheese

Kit Kat Cheese

One of Scott’s co-workers came back from a trip with gifts, Kit Kat Cheese. Yes, cheese.

Kit Kat Cheese

It tasted like a Cheeto dipped in white chocolate. Not entirely awful but not good either. Interesting. Sort of.

Has anybody had the Kit Kat Curry? What was it like? What is the weirdest flavor of Kit Kat, or any candy bar, you’ve had? Fess up.

· comments [57] · 11-22-2010 · categories:food ·

links: food

Two-Minute Weekday Steel Cut Oatmeal | giverslog.

Pumpkin Cream Pie › shutterbean. Oh wow.

Cheese and Crackers Cornucopia · Edible Crafts |

Something to listen to: This interview on The Splendid Table with Michaele Weissman, author of God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee. She give a brief history of our current coffee culture and talks about Esmerelda coffee, which I will seek out when it’s in season. Also see her tips on Making Great Coffee at Home. (We’ve used a drip brew pot, just the cone over a mug, for years now and I won’t go back. Shamefully, though, we don’t have our own coffee grinder.)

Have You Seen the Thanksgiving Turkey Cake Yet? | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn. Oh yes, I think I must do this someday.

Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie Recipe – CHOW. Must try this.

This Week in America’s Test Kitchen: Pumpkin Pie | Serious Eats.

Trader Joe’s Easy Melt Baking Chocolate, reviewed « Baking Bites. “My favorite feature, however, is that they are pre-measured so that 6 discs equals one ounce of chocolate. This makes it incredibly easy to pull out one or two ounces for a recipe like Dark and Milk Chocolate Brownies without needing to chop anything or pull out a kitchen scale.” I love that Trader Joe’s is friendly to apartment dwellers, or just those that don’t bake frequently.

Pie for Breakfast in Vermont! | Ask MetaFilter. I love the answer about the Act 15 of the 1999 session of the Vermont Legislature.

Duchess Potatoes « Baking Bites. Oh baby.

· comments [8] · 11-19-2010 · categories:food · links ·

Po Dog and living in the future

hot dogs from Po Dog in Seattle

The above is a photo of the hot dogs Scott and I split at Po Dog here in Seattle last week. We had a Chicago Dog (all sorts of traditional toppings and yum), a Seattle Dog (cream cheese and chives, better than you might suspect), and a something dog with bbq sauce and crispy onions (interesting but not my thing). They were having an anniversary special so all the hot dogs were $1 each, a happy surprise. But the hot dogs is not why this particular Sunday night was neat.

Quick set up: A beloved Seattle restaurant, Canlis, has been celebrating their 60th birthday by hiding menus with 1950s prices ($4 broiled lobster, $4.25 filet mignon) all around Seattle, one per day for 50 days, and putting hints on Twitter. The person who finds the menu gets to eat cheap. (p.s. Canlis was were we went for our first anniversary.) Ok, back to the hot dogs.

We were sitting there checking Twitter (not our normal MO but we’d spent all day together on an epic area rug quest and we’d mutually and contentedly agreed we had nothing more to talk about, also the music was very very loud, also I was hangry) and the Canlis hint appeared on Twitter. It said “Annie Reed follows her heart. 1:07:22”. So I Googled Annie Reed and IMDB informed me it was the main female character in Sleepless In Seattle. Obviously the numbers are a point in the film. I thought we were done for but then we remembered that we have Netflix streaming on my phone. So we loaded the movie, fast forwarded to 1:07:22 and found the scene where Meg Ryan is fake-driving into Seattle then turning a corner at Western and Broad, which was of course where the menu was hidden. We’d found the menu without even getting up from our booth at the hot dog place! Yay for living in the future! By then the menu had been found by somebody living really close to the hiding place. The $1 hot dogs were a nice consolation prize.

· comments [8] · 11-19-2010 · categories:mumbling · seattle ·

links: craft

Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls · Edible Crafts |

Two paper lanterns: flowers and pom poms – Craftynest.

Hemp pendant lamps – Craftynest.

ikat bag: Owie Dolls.

Learn a Lesson in Label Making, at ReadyMade. I like these clean, minimalist labels on glass jars.

the birthday crown – how to – i make stuff.

Basic Wig | FamilyFun. How to make a yarn wig using panty hose and yarn. Via @parenthacks on Twitter.

Super cute sewing tutorials | How About Orange.

swissmiss | Woolfiller.

10 Free Tote Bag Patterns and Tutorials | Skip To My Lou. I love all of the bags shown here.

How to Sew with Bias Tape | Prudent Baby. A very excellent tutorial on how to sew on bias tape, this is my favorite way, as well as dealing with the corners.

Our Felt Sources – The Crafts Dept. Great list to keep around.

· comments [5] · 11-18-2010 · categories:craft · links ·

links: the home

How To Turn IKEA’s Tullsta Chair Into a Designer Piece Home Hacks | Apartment Therapy.

Craft/tool station with wall organizer – Craftynest.

Centsational Girl » Blog Archive » How To Paint Perfect Stripes on Walls.

Jonathan Adler Mrs. Godfrey Chair. I LOVE this chair. I cannot afford it.

The Dishrack of Your Dreams | Kohler. Mine too, I hope they start making this to purchase soon.

mirrormirror: Mrs Thomas’s Book of Household Management, DIY fruit fly traps that work.

Space Heaters, Radiators, Heating Pads for Every Size Roundup | Apartment Therapy Unplggd. I’ve decided I cannot go another winter without a small programmable space heater for our bathroom. Or a bathroom remodel. Guess which one is realistic right now.

POSTERHANGER at Textile Arts. This is 60 inches wide so you can use it to hang large pieces of fabric for decorations. I have some fabric hangers from CB2 that are, sniff, no longer available, but work really well to fill a large blank wall with something fairly inexpensive.

the girl in the green dress.: interior design magazine. We’ve been wondering what to put on our bedroom walls to add some color but we wanted something that wouldn’t hurt if it fell in the middle of the night. Felt panels? Perfect.

Design*Sponge » before & after: sarah’s rug + kat’s planters. The painted rug here is very smart.

· comments [9] · 11-17-2010 · categories:links · the home ·

links: misc

Alternatives to Blogs “for women” that aren’t awful? | Ask MetaFilter.

The Ugly Green Chair's tips for finding new music without having to endure annoying commercials and obnoxious djs. Thank you. So much.

And then I met Neil Gaiman — This entire story is awesome.

Deskunking Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, a formula that works, apparently it was also used on Mythbusters. Via @neilhimself on Twitter.

Paris 26 Gigapixels – Interactive virtual tour of the most beautiful monuments of Paris. I had this bookmarked on my iPhone, must remember to explore it.

How-To: Preserve a Candy Portrait |

The Mythologies Behind Harry Potter, at Neatorama.

A Guide To Visitors: Stories on Stage. A good storytelling audio program, and it’s here in Seattle.

How many pennies fit in a 1 lb coffee can? | Ask MetaFilter. A very dedicated group of people estimating how many pennies will fit in a coffee can, the asker comes back with the final total near the end of the page.

· comments [7] · 11-16-2010 · categories:links · misc ·

How much is a pound of coins worth? (Take two.)

a stack of coins

We recently hauled all of our collected loose change out to count and roll. Two years ago we did the same thing and I wanted to compare. We went ahead and sorted our coins by hand because there isn’t a bank around us with a free coin sorting machine and Coinstar takes enough of a percentage* that we consider the labor worth it (at least when it comes to nearly 20 pounds of coins). Happily our bank does give out paper coin rolls for free. So all it takes is some time in front of the television (two and a half 45-minute shows) and some beer to make it fun. Almost.

To speed things along and keep us from getting tired of counting (and, let’s face it, because I had too much time to think about this) I drew some grids on paper to be filled with coins. Rolls of quarters and nickles take 40 coins, and rolls of dimes and pennies take 50 coins. Grids in inches were great for all coin sizes. We made one sheet with 40 squares and one sheet with 50 squares.

Last time I found some stats that say mixed coins generally work out to be worth $12.96 per pound. Two years ago I suspected we’d used a lot of the quarters for parking but our average wasn’t too far below the guideline. This time we had 19 pounds and 15.75 ounces and, thanks to Seattle’s new parking meters which take credit cards, lots of quarters. Let’s compare!

amount per pound of coins
two years ago: $11.27
this year: $13.14

two years ago: $248.02 (22 lb, 3 oz)
this year: $262.53 (19 lb, 15.75 oz)

Beyond the usual coins we had eight $1 coins, one fifty cent piece, two screws and six too-gross-to-touch pennies.

So there you go, if you have a huge jar of coins and you’re wondering how much it might be worth you can safely assume around $13 per pound.

* update: I just wanted to add that I do know that Coinstar dispenses gift certificates to various retail outlets without taking a percentage off of your total. And, this is going to sound more snarky than I mean it to, I’d rather have the cash. However, if you are a regular with Amazon or Starbucks, this option would be well worth it.

· comments [36] · 11-15-2010 · categories:misc ·

links: food

au_gout: dark and delicious. A chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse frosting. I am not a chocolate frosting person but I have eaten this one, made by @gfrancie and it’s so delicious.

Soft Seasoned Pretzels — Joy the Baker.

Fruit Agar Agar · Edible Crafts |

An Ice Cream Bar for the Urbane · Edible Crafts. I love the chocolate olive garnish shown here.

Rainbow Popsicles · Edible Crafts. I love the fact that these layers are on a slant.

Tea & Cookies: Rule of Thirds. Yummy kale salad.

Clichés and Cornucopias – The Knead For Speed. How to make a bread cornucopia, via Edible Crafts.

· comments [7] · 11-12-2010 · categories:food · links ·

links: technology

On a keyboard, can I map a key combination (Ctrl+C) to a single key?
| Ask MetaFilter
. I like the suggestion here to use a four button mouse and map two of the buttons to copy and paste.

Classic Adventure Game ‘Gobliiins’ Arrives in the App Store | Touch Arcade.

How To Create A Modern CV/Resumé With InDesign — Gurus Unleashed. Via @cinnachick on Twitter.

Artificial light food photography | Wrightfood. Via @glutenfreegirl on Twitter.

0to255, “a simple tool that helps web designers find variations of any color”. Via @emulherin.

HOW TO: Customize Your Background for the New Twitter. Via @actionhero on Twitter.

100 Free High Quality WordPress Themes: 2010 Edition – Smashing Magazine. Via @feliciaday.

Huffduffer is TiVo for Web audio. Via Greg Knauss on Twitter.

FeedShow : online RSS feed reader. A simple, fast reader recommended by Knitty on Twitter.

Google: HTML, CSS, and Javascript from the Ground Up – Google Code University – Google Code.

Nelson’s Weblog: aviation / gps-altitude.

Web design using grids, at Kottke.

note: I pulled a bunch of the links above off of favorited items at Twitter so lots are pretty old. But still good!

· comments [4] · 11-11-2010 · categories:links · technology ·