Friday, November 25, 2011


I've been busy- making new dolls for the Christmas Boutique coming up.



With green eyes and ruffly pink bow...

I needed a fiery red-head for my collection!

With some sweet little mary janes.

The fabric for her dress is from the "Blush" line by Moda. It's a little something I've been hoarding for awhile now...


I love her golden yellow hair- when I saw it at the craft store I knew I needed to make some blonde braids with it.

She loves cupcakes as much as I do!

She loves to dance in her fancy red flats.

The fabric is from Hoodie, the line is called L'Amour De La Vie, and when I saw these little houses all in a row- I needed it for sweet little doll dresses. 


Little details make me so happy!

This particular pattern has moveable arms, and usually the way you attach them isn't very sturdy- so I found some doll joints on etsy, so hopefully their arms will stay on forever!

I wish I had some olive green flats!

I have been saving this fabulous Japanese cotton-linen blend owl fabric for a special project, and I thought that a little doll dress was the perfect occasion.

She is based on the "Kit, Chloe and Louise" pattern by the lovely Hillary Lang. I will be placing them in my shop, so if you can't make it to the holiday event, you'll have a chance to buy them as well!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Matilda watches Coco from a safe distance. 

(this is from when we dog-sat our friends 4 pound Maltese puppy. Tilda was not a fan.)

We are back home visiting with family this week. We have a FULL schedule, including seeing the new twilight movie with my mom, Danny and I taking Loo-loo to the new Muppet movie, one-on-one dinners almost every night with different friends and family. I am super excited to see Van, he is walking now! I simply can't wait to ruffle his gorgeous blonde hair and hug him till he swats me away!

Today I will be making dessert for tomorrow's festivities- I am so excited to bake for the people I love! It's just not the same without them. One of the main reasons I love to bake so much is being able to keep on "wowing" my family with new recipes and experiments. Happy smiling faces and "mmmm-yum" are my favorite. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

project tree: fall

Lots of colorful felt fall leaves...

...and a sleepy owl.

And here it is in the room! 

I sewed the rings on the back of the leaves in all different places, so they could be hung like they are "blowing" off the tree. I think "fall" turned out perfectly!!

AND, notice the bumper? That's the one I made for sweet little Mina, I just haven't taken any photos yet. I seem to do that a lot. I get so excited to give it to the client that I totally forget to document my work. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

monday night date

On Monday night, Danny called me from work and asked "Do you wanna go see Feist tonight?"

I screamed into the phone "OF COURSE I DO!" and he laughed. I asked "How the hell did you get tickets?" and he said "someone at work can't go, so I bought them.

See why we moved here?

And please pardon the terrible photos. After we got there and I saw how that lighting was, I really wished I had brought my big camera and the 50mm. I could have gotten beautiful shots! Then he pointed out that there is no way they would have let me in with it, duh.

It was at the Warfield, a for real theatre with red velvet curtains, golden ceilings, a balcony...

And those side balcony things. All ornate and pretty. Damn camera phone.

Even though it looks like we are drowning in hot lava, we are not. I had my camera on settings that were not flattering, but it's all we got.

Feist's music has played a part in our "romance".  A little after we first started dating, I went to Danny's apartment to go out to lunch one afternoon. He was blasting Feist, and I was totally caught off guard. 

It's a little girly. 

As soon as I stepped closer to him, he started singing along and had me dance with him.  It was one of the first moments I felt my heartstrings being pulled. Certainly with anyone else, I would have shut off and shied away, especially because of the singing. You know me and singing. But I let it open up my heart, and saw the first true glimpse into what an amazingly varied, passionate and sometimes spontaneous man Danny is.

Even though our feet were sore and our backs ached from standing in one spot for 3 hours straight- we slow danced upon Feist's request as she played "Let It Die" on her acoustic guitar for her 3rd encore.

Thank you, Leslie Feist, for a magical evening.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

roast beef & mashed potatoes

My mom always made roast beef in the crockpot, usually for sunday dinner and always with mashed potatoes. It was and still is one of my favorite things to eat!

When cooking in the crockpot, I like to get more than one dinner out of it. So when I make roast beef- I make a lot of roast beef. I usually get 3 dinners out of it- roast beef, beef stroganoff, and roast beef sandwiches.

I like to get a huge roast from Costco. One that looks like it will fill the entire pot.


1 huge roast
1 packet of Schylling roast beef or beef stew seasoning (red packaging)
2 cups warm water

5 large russet potatoes
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper
A splash of heavy whipping cream (about an ounce)

You need to cook beef asap after you buy it. So most of the time I end up putting it in the freezer until I'm ready for it. But just know, that it will take 2-3 days to defrost in the fridge. So planning is your friend. I also like to do the first step the night before.

1. Grab the pot part of your crockpot and set the cooking part aside. Pull your roast out of the fridge. Carefully unwrap it, in the sink so you don't get gross juices all over the place. Place the roast in the pot. Grab a glass 2 cup measuring cup and fill it with warm water. Whisk in the seasoning packet with a fork. Pour it over the roast. Wrap the pot with plastic wrap, put the lid on, and stick it in the fridge.

2.  In the morning, pull the pot out of the fridge, place it in the cooker, take off the plastic wrap, set it on low and your done. In 8 hours you will have delicious roast beef.

3. About 30 minutes before the roast will be finished, start on the potatoes. Peel and rinse them off. Grab your cutting board, a medium pot, and a large knife. Start by cutting the potatoes in half. Then cut them into thirds. Then chop them into cubes. I like mine about 1/2 inch big- they will cook faster. Place potatoes in the pot as you chop them.

4. Cover with water, but don't fill the pot. Put 1/4 tsp of the salt in with the potatoes. Bring to a boil on high heat. Turn it down to medium and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Test doneness by getting a big chunk out and piercing it with a fork. If it splits easily, they are done.

5. Drain potatoes in a colander. Place the butter in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Pour potatoes on top. Add the remaining 3/4 tsp salt, pepper, and cream. Using a standmixer is easier, but you can use a handmixer as well. Start out on low until the chunks begin to break up. If you go faster, they will flip out of the bowl and most likely hit you in the face. Trust me. When the get small enough you can turn it up. If you like lumpy potatoes, do medium. For fluffy ones, turn it up to 11.

6. Dinner's ready!

7. Using 2 forks, grab chunks of roast beef out of the crockpot. You can use the juice as gravy if you want. Add a dollop or 3 of mashed potatoes and you're all set!

When your done pigging out, and the roast has cooled off, cover the pot with plastic wrap, put the lid on and put it back in the fridge.

Why not portion it out now, you say? Well, I'll tell you why not.

By putting it back in the fridge, all the fat will solidify at the top, making it very easy for you to get what you really want- the rest of the roast beef. Just scoop the fat off and throw it away. Take out the rest of the roast- I like to put gloves on to do this, place it on your cutting board and portion it out. I like to have 1 1/2-2 cups of beef per recipe (for 2 people).

Just put each portion into ziplock bags, roll them up to get most of the air out, and freeze. Let them thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before using them. They should last a month in the freezer this way. At this point the leftover juice has thickened, and you can use it as gravy. I like to freeze 1/4 cup increments to add flavor to soups and such.

Or you could be OCD like me and get a Foodsaver, and vacuum pack them before freezing. Then they will last a few months. If you do use a vacuum sealing technique, here's a very helpful tip: put the meat into the bags, fold over the excess bag and freeze them before sealing them. Then they retain all of their juiciness and keep the vacuum from sucking it out and giving you a bad seal.

And for the leftover potatoes? I like to save them for making twice baked potatoes, which I usually freeze and then serve with steak or pork tenderloin. But you can do whatever you want. Sometimes we love them so much we eat them all for dinner. Pigs we are!

Monday, November 14, 2011

bubble, bubble, toil and laundry soap...

Last week I made my own laundry detergent. Yes, I know I said that I didn't want to, but I'm not totally in love with the fancy french stuff I bought. Then I found this tutorial on Pinterest and was shocked at how easy it sounded, and how cheap it is. But what really talked me into trying it? You can use any kind of bar soap you want.

Have you ever smelled Fresh's Lemon Sugar? It is heavenly, to say the least. But I don't use smelly soap. I have the perfume, but by the end of the day, I don't like how it wears on me. So wouldn't it be perfect for laundry detergent? I sure think so! So that takes the cheap part away, cause that stuff is crazy expensive for a bar of soap.

Besides the expensive bar of soap, I needed to get 2 other ingredients. Super Washing Soda and Borax. Niether of which were available anywhere I looked. I've read that you can find them at Walmart, but San Fran boycotts Walmart. The closest one is in Oakland, and the next is San Jose. So I do what I do for everything I can't find here- I ordered it from Amazon. Now, I know they mark it waaaay up, but I really didn't have any other option. Driving to San Jose to save a few bucks is not, indeed, saving a few bucks. And neither is taking Bart to Oakland.

If you are interested in doing this yourself, awesome! Just read the whole way through, I learned some lessons along the way.

This makes one gallon. The original recipe made 2, so doubling it would be fine.

1/2 bar of your very favorite soap*
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1 gallon water
an empty container to store your detergent in (see details below)

large pot (like a canning pot) that you don't use for cooking
a tall spoon


After thoroughly reading the tutorial and the comments, I knew what I didn't want my container to be. A plastic milk jug, (we don't drink that much milk!) or any kind of container with a small opening. Because: a lot of the people making it were having trouble with the detergent solidifying, and not being able to get it out. Luckily, I had a gallon pitcher with a snap on lid that I'm no longer using as a pitcher. So I'll be able to pour or scoop.


Grate your soap and put it in your large pot. Add a gallon of hot water.


Cook over medium high heat, until the soap flakes melt.


Add washing soda and borax.


Bring to a boil. At this point, mine was very liquid, and clear. (in the tutorial that I read before doing this, she cooked with half the amount of water, and at this stage, hers thickened. I accidentally used the full amount of water, so mine did not thicken until it cooled.)

I let it cool for about a half an hour. It thickened and had gotten a little opaque. I stirred it up and poured it into my container. It wasn't quite a gallon anymore, so I topped it off with water and stirred it again.

I put the lid on and let it cool some more. When I checked on it about a half an hour later, it was chunky and gelatinous. I stirred it well again, and then just left it alone to do it's thing.


The next day, it's totally opaque white, and not quite solid, but not pourable either.


Kinda slimy. 


No problem- I'll just scoop it out. 1/2 cup per load.

 I excitedly washed my first load. Everything goes great! I smell a tee shirt. It smells clean. But not at all like Lemon Sugar. Boo.

*The verdict:

I spent way too much money making my own detergent just so my clothes would smell like my favorite soap. But it was fun, and totally worth it. And now that I have learned my lesson, for my next batch I'll be more thrifty about my choice for soap. But you can't blame me for trying, right?

Links for supplies:

Friday, November 11, 2011

sweet tooth

A few weeks ago I went to a new doctor and had a physical. I really, really like her, which is good when you have questions and she is going to be, uh, examining you. She told me that since I had a pap last year, we didn't have to do one. But I insisted. I've gotten a pap every year since I was 18, and I will continue to do so until I'm too old to care about it. 

She sensed that I was a "all or nothing" kinda gal so she ordered every single sort of test they do with blood. Man that was a lot of blood. It made me very squeamish. Oh, and I got a tetanus shot. I've needed one since I was 21, which was 11 years ago. Yikes. So I got one, and my arm hurt for a whole week. It was the worst 4-5 days later- I thought my arm was dying and it would have to be removed. Over-reacting is my specialty, especially when my health is involved.

I got my test results back and drumroll....

I have high blood sugar. Like pre-diabetic high. And low good cholesterol. What the? I have already stopped drinking 3 cans of soda a day, I had NO Halloween candy, when usually I have a few bags to myself. I've been so good about cutting down on sugar. And yet. 

About the same time I cut out Dr. Pepper, I read the book "Wheat Belly" because I thought that gluten might be the cause of my intestinal and bloat issues. After reading it, I was convinced. So I cut out gluten for a week and a half. Yes, that's not much of a chance, but I have intestinal issues, and they got worse- so I gave up. After that, I have cut down on gluten, but haven't completely cut it out. 

I love bread, rolls, baked goods. If there are rolls at dinner, I'll eat 3 or 4. Toast in the morning? I'll fix 2, then 2 more. While making soft tacos, I'll be cooking the tortillas while eating one plain. I totally eat way too much wheat.

One of the things that was in the book was how wheat- especially today's frankenstein variety of cloned, cross bred, completely unnatural strains make your blood sugar skyrocket. A slice of toast has a higher blood sugar spike than a snickers bar. For real. 

So, here we are. I guess I'm gonna cut out gluten after all. But not my Life cereal. It's the only thing that keeps things, running? TMI! TMI!

I eat a bowl of Life and a yogurt for breakfast. And today I am attempting to make my own yogurt- no sugar or fake sugar. I've been making myself eat lunch (why is lunch so hard to eat?) a small salad of baby spinach and arugula, with raspberry dressing, mozzarella cheese, pecans and dried cherries and an apple. And then I make dinner. So far I haven't been making gluten free dinners, but I've been weaning myself off of it. It's so hard- I will continue to cook as normal for Danny, because subjecting him to this diet before I get some good recipes down would just be rude. He hates salad. Like last night he had pasta and I had a salad. I got a good Paleo cookbook, so I'm excited to try some new things!

Sigh. Wish me luck!

Note: this will not affect my baking. I will still make desserts- I just won't eat as many. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

chicken for everything

Here's the first recipe post! Enjoy! 

(My recipe posts won't have photos. I know! I'm sorry. But I cook at night. And we have those lame energy efficient light bulbs, that make everything look terrible. So use your imagination!) 

I'm grossed out by raw meat. But who isn't? I use vinyl gloves when handling it, I put it in the sink so the gooey gross juice won't get on my counters.

I used to cook chicken breasts for dinner- and I carved the hell out of them, searching for veins and fat and pretty much anything that looked gross- I'd chop it off. And then be left with almost nothing. Then, since I was so grossed out by what I cut off, I would only eat half of it.

Ridiculous. Right?

Then I'd just unconsciously start cooking vegetarian, since I used to be a veggie and that is how I learned to cook for myself, so it's second nature for me. And then a month would go by and Danny would say "Um, sweetheart? Could we please have some meat for dinner?" And I'd be all "What are you talking about I made, um, last week, wait, oh dear. Sorry. And yes."

So I started cooking not only chicken, but all meat in huge batches, shredding it, then freezing it. It cuts prep time down, and I actually eat what I cook, with minimal waste. (I'll elaborate on that part later.) Plus I have no excuse not to add meat to what I'm making. It's already cooked! The gross part is done!

I get that package of chicken breasts from Costco in the refrigerated section that has 6 packets with 2 breasts per pack. Usually $18-20.

I dump the gross juice out, then plop them into my crockpot. I like to vary my seasoning options, but currently I'm loving a recipe that I found here.

I like to do this the night before, so I pour on the seasonings, cover it with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge.

I cook it on low in the crockpot for 8 hours. Then I let the pot cool down, put the plastic back on and stick it back in the fridge.

I discovered this wonderful way out of pure laziness. It makes juicy chicken thats so easy to shred. One late night I decided just to stick the pot full of cooked chicken in the fridge and deal with it later. 2 days later, (like I said, I'm lazy)- I snapped my gloves on and pulled a breast out to shred, and it just fell apart in my hands. And it was so juicy!

I used to shred it while it was hot, burning my fingers and using forks and whatever still looking for the veins. And then you have to pull them out... gag! But once they are cooled- they will just fall apart with your fingers. It's SO easy it's crazy. And its easy to find the gross disgusting veins, without carving the crap out of it and grossing yourself out. Easy. I love easy.

I shred the chicken into a huge bowl, then portion it into 2 cup portions and into Foodsaver bags. Then I freeze them, then vacuum seal them, and put them back in the freezer. I'll take one out the night  before I use it, and let it defrost in the fridge. It makes a TON. Like 2 whole months worth for us. It's awesome!

I use it for everything- tacos, soups, enchiladas, pasta, burritos. You could even use it for chicken salad. But cold chicken makes me want to die, so I don't do that.

I do have to note that my husband misses the meals I used to make using whole chicken breasts. I have some great recipes for breading and coating and whathaveyou, I just can't bring myself to cooking them again. But he is getting fed delicious food regardless, so he's just fine.

 (P.S. get a decent crockpot. I got a cheapo one on sale at Target once, and it quit in the middle of making roast one day, so Danny and I got food poisoning. Good thing we had two bathrooms at the time. Ewwwww.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

the weekend that wasn't

We've literally been in bed all weekend.

It's not like that.

We're both sick again. But Coco has made it better- she's our friend Jane's adorable little dog, and we are dog sitting. So we've been in bed for the past 3 days, passing each other the Zicam and cuddling with Coco on one side of the bed and a reluctant Tilda on the other. Coco is teeny tiny, and LOVES to cuddle right up on your chest. Her little wiggly walk makes me laugh, it's so cute.

Danny and I were SO bored on Saturday night that we ended up in bed, macbooks opened up to youtube on our laps, taking turns watching our favorite videos. It was fun, we laughed a lot- but are you kidding me? How lame is that? Obviously we needed some laughter to break up the stupor that being sick in bed for 3 days does to you. We came up with a list of our top 5, and if you need some laughter, I've included them at the end of the post.

So yesterday, feeling better, I washed the sheets. Oh, how wonderful clean sheets are after you've been sick! And we even ventured out to the grocery store, and had dinner and In-n-out. I finished the evening out with some final touches for a sewing order, and Danny did some work. I think we feel better!

Harry Potter, the mysterious ticking sound.

David after dentist- a true classic.

Bacon Dog Tease.

The censored count. I seriously cry I'm laughing so hard.

Winnebago Man. Warning- language!

And one last one-

Buffy vs. Edward. Whoever made this did such a great job of montaging all 7 seasons of Buffy moments with pretty much just the first Twilight movie. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

1000 years ago into the future

Last sunday, Danny and I went on a little field trip- to the Computer History Museum. (his idea, obviously) 

Danny was enthralled, excited, and giddy- and even I had fun! Taking photos of all the little mechanical and, uh, other parts- of machines I will never understand.

Like this one. The Babbage Difference Engine #2. It was designed in 1849. It tabulates polynomial math problems. (I think those are the ones with the x's and y's. Hehehe.) Anyways. It's pretty much a 5 ton calculator. Only 2 exist, one here, and one in London.

This is where the crank goes, each crank generates an answer.

View from the front- columns and columns of numbers.

View from the back- DNA looking "tabs" that put simply- "carry the one". 

We viewed a demonstration on how the machine works- and at the time I had a massive headache, so everything the guy was saying was not only going completely over my head, but hurting it as well. I have no capacity for the learning of any kind of math in my brain. Start talking math, and my brain stalls. Good thing I didn't pick a career in it. (in high school for like a week I wanted to be a biologist.)

A display of some genius dude's desk. Looks kinda like mine does sometimes, except with fabric, felt, rulers and thread.

A typewriter to input info into a computer. Whoa.

So. Many. Things... to pay attention to.

Haha. This is the Honeywell Kitchen Computer. (with built in cutting board!) Made in 1969, it was for sale at Nieman Marcus- for $10,000. It could store recipes. None were sold. Yet it was the first time a computer was marketed for regular people. So it's in the museum. 

Can you imagine having this in your kitchen? And only using it as a recipe box? Again, haha.

This machine was used to automate the census reading process. It's strange- I look at it and it looks so sci-fi to me. Is that backwards or what?

This is a Univac. I asked Danny to give me a "normal people" description, and he replied with "It's a Univac." Your welcome.

This was used in WW2 to drop bombs.

I loved the details, the circuitry, the wires. So many wires!

This belongs to the Apollo. 

Danny says this is a network cable. But I think of it more as a flower, just beginning to bloom.

The IBM 360. Control panel.

Core Memory. Tiny wires in a loom.

Inner workings that makes stuff...go.

The IBM 360. The part that stores info. The part that's so small now you can hold it in your hand and call your mom with it and then check your FB page and maybe order some shoes.

Hard Disk(s). Huge brown platters.

From far away these look like teeny tiny buildings very neatly planned out.

These were my favorite knobs.

This is part of a computer called Cray. There are like hundreds of these, stacked on top of each other. It looks like some sort of a sci-fi chia pet.

The computer part of a "Brain Surgery Machine"

70's color palette.

The first Atari. Finally something I recognize!

I loved it when it was my turn on the gameboy...even though I was terrible at it! I loved the Mario game for it- I could always get as far as the water world, and then die and have to start all over again. Of course, then it was my brother's turn.

We were there for a whopping 3 hours! Time flew by, I already want to go back to take more photos. It was a great date for us! We're such geeks!