Thursday, May 29, 2008

Black Bean Salsa

It's warm, it's salsa time, right? Well, I suppose it's always salsa time, but Mary's (my mother-in-law) Black Bean Salsa just seems like the perfect thing for summer - so I thought I'd share it. (I hope it's not a secret recipe! If so, sorry Mary.)

Mary's Black Bean Salsa

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans (or soak dry ones overnight and slow cook 'em)
1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes (or cut fresh ones)
1 small haas avacado, peeled and diced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 T lime juice
2 T chopped cilantro
Jalapeno pepper diced (add to desired "hotness")
1/4 tsp salt.

Mix it up and Viola!

Now - this is also pretty tasty mixed with brown rice, as a side dish. Throw some chicken in there and you got yourself a meal!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slip N Slide

Monday was so warm and sunny - it was time to break out the slip 'n' slide. And you know when a slip 'n' slide comes out - children will follow. Here are a couple video clips of the wet and wild fun.

"Ta-da!' is one of Magoo's catch phrases these days. He'll finish his dinner, "Ta-da!" He'll wash his hands, "Ta-da!" We think he may grow up to be a magician.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cabo Halter

A few months ago - when I was first getting into sewing and learning names (such as Amy Butler) and about all the fabulous fabric stores online, I came across Trendy Fabrics and they were having a sale on Amy Butler fabric.  So I bought me some.  And, last Saturday, this is what I made.
The pattern is Amy Butler's Cabo Halter and the fabric is Amy Butler's Kashmir Okra.
Compared to my last pattern reading adventure - Magoo's bathrobe - this was a piece of cake.  Because the directions are very well written and the illustrations are very clear.  I worked on it off and on on Saturday - so it's hard to say how long it took, but no more than 3 hours tops.  It fits really well and I love the colors.  Halters are a big thing for me in the summer - so I'll probably make a couple more.

I will say that my invisible zipper isn't completely invisible - but it's good enough.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Beach Day

Yesterday we went down to Gramma's house in Niantic.  We knew we were going to hit the beach so I dressed Magoo in his swim trunks.  Oh - was he excited to go.  Even though we had an hour until we left our own house - he had his shoes on and was ready to roll.  I think he likes the beach.

We got there around noon.  There was a decent crowd - not too busy though.
And no life guards - which means Magoo can do what he loves to do - throw rocks in the water!!!

Don't you thin he looks kinda like he has super powers in this shot?  Like he's commanding the waves?!  :)

I love this photo because his face looks just like it did when he was about 1 year old.  My little baby!  Maybe it's the haircut.

We had a very good time making sand castles and throwing rocks.  Too cold to go into the water, but it was a lovely day to hang out on the sand.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I had to post this...

...because it is what I'm doing right now!

Big Red Bag

I finished the first of the "tag sale fabric" bags.  This is a design from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing.  It has a nice little pocket on the side for water and a front pockets for a magazine or mail or something flat.

I also started doing some research online as to how much I should charge for the bags I plan to sell.  Wowy - wow - wow - there are a lot of of ladies making bags out there! I think thousands! I'm not kidding.

I'm glad I'm not doing this as a real business and just for the fun of it.  And I reminded myself that my only real goal was to make back the cost of the fabric and notions - then the rest of it can just be for gifts and the fun of it.  (But I do think I'll be selling these pretty cheap!  I want them to moooooove.)

But I had fun making it and with each pattern I follow - each bag I make - I'm learning a little something about the process which helps me make the ones in my head.  I think I'll only do a few bigger bags like this and then a bunch of simple totes.  And a few kicky summer bags - just little things.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all.  We'll be at the beach on Sunday and maybe Monday so I probably won't be back here until Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Time for a New Bathrobe

This is Magoo's bathrobe.  Isn't it cute?!  See how short it is?  Well - this photo is from a year and a half ago.  He hadn't even turned 4 yet.  Can you imagine how short it was a month ago?! It was like an X-rate Hugh Hefner walking around here.  Clearly, it was time for a new robe.

I decided I wanted to make the child a robe and I probably could have figured it out on my own - but I had no idea how much fabric I needed - so I went ahead and got a pattern.  I think the brand was Burda.  Whatever it was - it was awful!  I'm not an idiot - but the directions sure made me feel like one.  And the illustrations?  Oh my - they were so extremely close up to whatever point they were trying to make that you couldn't figure out which piece was what.  You know how if you get really close up to a dandelion it might look like a rug or something - well, it was like that.

There was one piece, in particular, I just didn't know what the heck it was for.  I had to rip it out, replace it, then rip it out again.  (It turned out to be the collar.  But did they call it the collar?  Heck no!  Well, maybe they didn't intend for it to be the collar - but it is now.)  

In the end, I ditched the instructions and figured things out on my own.  Serenity now!!!

But it turned out cute and fuzzy and long enough to last a few years.  So all in all, I'm good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Saturday was a glorious day.  Not only did I score on the fabric - but we all went for a nice family walk around the reservoir.   Magoo was dashing about, throwing rocks in the water, climbing things and we all got some good exercise and family time in.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fabric Heaven

I'm a tag sale gal. I love to shop but I'm cheap - let's say "frugal."  Honestly, in these days of being green and recycling/repurposing, being cheap is actually quite fashionable.  In years past, I have sought out tag sale toys for Magoo.  But he really, truly has a ton of toys, so my new purpose is fabric.  And boy oh boy, did I hit the jackpot on Saturday.

The ad read "designer fabric" so I wanted to get there promptly at 9am.  I figured some person probably sewed a bit and had some left over stuff.  I didn't figure there would be much.  I was wrong.

There were three - 6 ft high - shelves in the back of the garage filled with bolts of fabric. BOLTS!  Hundreds of bolts.  $5.00 a bolt.  FIVE DOLLARS A BOLT!!!!  Naturally, I bought 16.

Actually, the first time there I bought 8 bolts.  That wiped me out of my tale sale moola and I had Magoo with me so I didn't want to take forever.  The man who lived there had worked at an interior decorating company and these were left over bolts from reupholstering jobs.  And there were more in the workshop!!!     I got my 8 bolts home and then started thinking that I should really go back and look for some solids and neutrals.  As it was, I got mostly patterns and I needed things to pair them with and at $5 a bolt - it was cheaper to go back to the tag sale then Jo-Ann Fabrics.  So, when Michael came home and I could fly solo, I did.

I was more meticulous this time.  And I found lovely, lovely things.  I have no intention of buying 8 more bolts - but I had pulled out about 16 and dwindled it down from there.

The next day I did end up going out to Jo-Ann's for some notions: thread, buttons, zippers.
(I found some awesome wood buttons!  Look at the one shaped like a kidney bean at the top.)

Now I'm really ready to make some bags!  My plan is to build up a stock of about 12 or so and then open a little Etsy shop to sell them. I know, I know - like I need something else to do.  But I'm really looking forward to it!  Sewing little bags is more fun then work - I just need to do some time management.  :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yet Another Koi

Guess what I'm painting until I die?  Koi Fish!!!  No, no - I don't mean to sound like I'm done with it.  I love painting them and I seem to have an audience for them.  I just don't want the 4 people checking out my blog to get bored.

This is the latest, Descending Koi #2 - my first vertical koi painting.  (I'm not loving the colors in the pic, but you get the idea.)

Here's a detail of one of the fish.

And to give you a sense of size - here's the framed piece with Magoo next to it.  (Dig those dino jammies!)

I took it into the gallery this morning where the owner told me if I can do 7 paintings, she'll feature me in the window.  So I have to go back to the art store this afternoon and invest in a few more frames.  Then I will PAINT FISH!  (Actually I plan to do 3 goldfish paintings.  So it will be three goldfish, four koi and then I'll probably need to take a fish break.)

In food news, we discovered a yeast free, gluten free, sugar free pizza crust mix from the good folks at Namaste Foods and it was pretty good.  It rolled well so I could make the crusts nice and thin - just like we like them.  And it was easier on me since I didn't have to do a ton of measuring!  Yeah. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bags, Glorious Bags

In continuation of The Year of the Bag - I made one out of the Bend the Rules Sewing book (with slight alterations.)  This is a slightly more complicated bag than I usually make - well "complicated" might not be the right word.  How about "time consuming."

Instead of just one panel in front and one panel in back, you have 5 panels that have to be stitched on both sides.  It's not hard, it just takes some time.  But I love the little punches of color and I really like the handles.  It never occurred to me to put a funky fabric on the insides of my handles before.  I suppose that's why I haven't written a sewing book!

Here's the lining and the pocket inside.
And the best part it - all the fabric was purchased from a tag sale!  So it probably cost me no more that $5.00! - well, $5.00 and two hours of time.  But I'm very pleased with the result and I continue my love affair with making bags.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bit Like Bit O Honey

Out of the blue, Magoo asked for some candy.  He's never been a huge candy kid and now, with the new diet, he's not even allowed to eat the stuff.  So I fibbed and told him we didn't have any. ( Hey - it's not a secret chocolate stash if I share it! )  But I did the next best thing - I made some candy.

My Feast Without Yeast Cookbook has a couple candy recipes in it.  I opted for Honey Crunch Candy.

Honey Crunch Candy

1 c. unprocessed clover honey
1/2 c. sweet butter (but I used a vegan spread)
2 1/2 c. puffed rice cereal - NO SUGAR or MALTODEXTRIN
(Note - if you are not gluten free, you can use 2 cups sugar free "O's" like Nature-O's cereal and 1/2 c. puffed rice.)

Put honey and butter in a sauce pan - turn on to medium heat.  Stirring constantly, bring the mix to a rolling boil.  Keep it up for 7-12 minutes until the mix caramelizes.  It will get darker and gooier.

 Remove from heat and stir in cereal.  Pour into a GREASED 8 X 8" Pyrex pan.  With a GREASED rubber spatula - spread it out evenly.  Allow to cool slowly.  No freezer.

When it's pretty darn hard you can cut it up into tiny rectangles - I did 1" X .5".  It's a chewy mouthful so I didn't want the pieces to be too big.

Then I cut out a TON of wax paper rectangles and got busy wrapping.  It's like Ol' Timey Candy!

I'm not sure it's what Magoo had in mind, but he seems to enjoy it well enough.  I have to admit it's slightly addictive.

And if the stuff in the pan hardens up too much and you can't cut into it - just zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. That oughta do it. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Koi Painting

Now that my work is showing in a gallery downtown - the owner wanted me to work bigger.  So this painting, 2008 Koi, No. 2, is a full sheet, about 30 " wide and I used a 2' X 3' frame.  (So if any of my local friends get a Michael's or JoAnn's coupon that they're not using it, please let me know.  I need to buy the big frames on sale.)

I brought this one in to the gallery on Friday and it was sold by Saturday!!!

I'm already working on another one.  Exciting - but also, YIKES!!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Magoo on Two Wheels

Michael fixed the brakes on Magoo's new bike and he was interested in giving it a go sans training wheels. So we took him down to the park so he could practice on the grass. This is his first real attempt with no training wheels and he did pretty darn well.

His father and I are very, very proud!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Coconut "Ice Cream"

We had some friends over for dinner last week and they asked if they could bring dessert. I said "Sure!" and then went over the massive list of foods that were off the current diet - chocolate, sugar, dairy, gluten, etc. Then I said, "Good luck!" But Jessica and Scott know their way around a Whole Food and they have their own set of dietary omissions. What they came up with was sooooo yummy. Truly. This is something you'd want to eat even if you had no dietary restraints at all. Coconut "Ice Cream".

(Sorry the pic is so cruddy. One doesn't want to get too creative with melting ice cream.)


1/2 cup rice milk
1 tsp corn starch
1 egg
1/2 cup agave
1 can coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut

(Get everything ready to go in prep bowls. Once you get started to have to keep wishing and there's no time to go off and measure things.)

Put a pan on the stove, med- high heat. Dissolve corn starch into rice milk - constantly whisking.

Add agave and egg. Again, keep that whisk moving. Continue until it thickens (pre-boil).

Take off heat - mix in coconut milk and shreds.


When it's completely cool - it is ready for the ice cream maker - usually takes about 20-30 minutes to thicken.

I made some into ice cream sandwiches with "special" cookies so when the ice cream truck came around the neighborhood and the kiddies went running I could go and get a treat for my little guy. If you do that - I recommend wrapping it up in wax or parchment paper to keep everything intact.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Face Recognition Fun

If you have a digital photo of yourself and a little bit of time to waste, why not got over to My Heritage and see what celebrities you look like.  Well, see which celebrities a computer thinks you look like!

I plugged in one of my author photos and the computer assured me that I look 78% like Lara Flynn Boyle!  
I looked 76% like some guy, Shane Filan, who I'm unfamiliar with but he looks a lot like Brandon from Beverly Hills 90210.  It wasn't until I got to Mary Louise Parker (72%) that I started to agree.  I've always thought I looked most like her.  Although I'm not complaining about Lara Flynn Boyle at all!

Then I plugged in Magoo.  Now this isn't the exact picture of Michelle Pfeiffer that came up - but it was around this Grease 2 era.  72% match that my 5 year old son looks like Michelle Pfeiffer.
Well - he doesn't have her cheekbones, but maybe someday.

It's fun - check it out.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Personal Notebook

Sometimes when I'm having a snack or just needing to putz around for 5 minutes, I'll start blogging around.  I always start with one of my regular sites, but then roam around - link to link - and not exactly know how I got to my final destination.

That's how I came across this tutorial for making your own little notebook with personal photographs.

See, that's a shot of Magoo marching through the woods that I posted - I dunno - about a week and a half ago.  On the back I used one on the tire swing.

It was really easy to make.  That said, I did have all the supplies at home.  But really, I think most people would have most of the supplies on hand.  The only thing that can be a pain in the tush is cutting all the paper for the inside.  I have a paper cutter, so it wasn't too bad.   But if all you have is a pair of scissors - yeah - that's going to be a little time consuming.

But it was quick, fun and I always need a notebook.  

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunday Morning Kitchen Fire

It all started well enough.  Michael had found a recipe off Gluten-Free Girl for Potato Pancakes a couple days prior.  I had bought the ingredients: potatoes, green onions, garlic, corn starch.  Sunday morning, we followed the directions.   First off - I don't know how these things were supposed to bind together.  There wasn't near enough corn starch for that.  But anyway - the directions said to get our cast iron skillet good and hot on a high heat.  Okay.  Did that, pre-mushing.  Then they said to add 2 TBSP of olive oil.  I stood back, of course, because you expect it to spit - but it didn't spit.  Oh no!  A flame shot up past the hood of the stove!!!  (See the photo.  That white rectangle, surrounded by soot, is where there was a magnet.)  The flames got up that high.  
And they didn't just get up that high and go down.  They got up that high and stayed up that high.  While I ran around like a chicken saying, "What do we do?  What do we do?"  Michael was very calm and turned off the heat.  Then he told me to get the fire extinguisher.  So I did and he blasted the fire (which had gone down just a tad by then.)  I opened the door to the back porch b/c the kitchen was filled with smoke and got a fan.  I also had to take down the fire alarms b/c they were going off.

Magoo was surprisingly calm during this little drama, watching his Saturday morning cartoons and eating oatmeal.

No one was hurt.  Nothing permanently damaged - but the clean  Wiping off the soot from the fire and the powder from the fire extinguisher did not make for a relaxing Sunday morning.

Half the batter got sprayed - but half the batter was still good.  So I went online - found another recipe that called for an egg - yep, that'll bind 'em - and I fried them up in the stainless steel skillet with Safflower oil.  

They were good - but not exactly worth all the trouble.  

But here's my question: what went wrong?  Mike thought maybe the skillet wasn't properly seasoned.  Another friend thought that olive oil is one of the more flammable oils and I should have either made sure to use a high heat olive oil (which was not specified in the directions) or another kind of oil.  I believe my mother-in-law suggested putting the oil in before the skillet got really hot.  Does anyone know?  I'm curious.

Friday, May 2, 2008

No Eggs = Frustration

This morning, my husband said he was going to use one of Magoo's eggs because he was out.  (We buy Omega 3 eggs for Maggo.) But I bought some yesterday, I thought.  Then I got irritated with myself at the thought that I had left them in the car.  You know how it goes - you're busy with your kid and a playdate's coming over in ten minutes so you hurry to bring the groceries in and leave something in the trunk.  Only I didn't.  No eggs in the trunk.  No eggs in the house.  Where were the eggs?  Probably on the counter at Whole Foods where they were left because the cashier put them aside and the bagger didn't bag them.  Grrrrr.

$3.19.  That's all is cost.  But the eggs were the second straw this morning, so I'm a little more ticked off then I should be.

I also didn't get Vitamin E liquid from the pharmacy.  Now the pharmacy is a whole other story.  Magoo is on a bunch of vitamins and supplements to clean out his gut and this is the pharmacy I was told to order from.  In the first attempt to get 10 items, they only sent me #9&10.  They literally forgot to send the first 8 items.  And we had to go in order - #1, then #2, etc.  So 9&10 aren't going to do me much good.  

I was very nice when I called back.  Tried not to be too angry.  More flies with honey and all.

The second time the pharmacy sent out 1-8, UPS damaged the package.  So they sent it back to the pharmacy.  Okay - that wasn't the pharmacy's fault.  That one's on UPS - but still.  Come on, people!

Finally, I get the package - but only today did I discover that they didn't send #6, Liquid Vitamin E.  Ug!  Part of it's on me.  I checked through the stuff - but there was a lot so I didn't notice the omission.  But seriously - this was their second attempt - aren't they making a list and checkin' it twice - like Santa!  If I were the manager, that would be my store motto - Do it the Santa Way! 

Anyway - now I have to try to go around town and find Liquid Vitamin E before I call the pharmacy again to have another shipment.  Ug!  Once again, it's not the end of the world.  It just puts us a few days behind on the Vitamin Parade, but I'm just a little put off by people's poor job performances these days.

Sorry for the crazy lady rant - picture me throwing cats. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Studio

It all started with some shelves.  Down the road, some neighbors were chucking some wood shelves.  I can't resist shelves.  I'm always in need of organization - so if a set of shelves is in good condition - I'll take 'em.  And they were - good solid wood.  Hip height. Approx. 4 feet long.  Perfect - I thought - to help organize Magoo's side of the studio.

So I put them in the trunk of the car - brought them home and cleaned them off.  But, and I'm sure you all know this - to clean out a space for a piece of furniture - you sometimes make more of a mess, at first.  This is how the studio looked while I moved things around. (Hubby shot this photo while I was ankle high in crud.)

Pretty, huh.  Well, I was really getting in there.  Throwing things out.  Putting things in the tag sale pile.  Organizing other things.  And if there's one thing I can do well, it's accumulate things. But I got through it all and here's Magoo's new space. 

Now he has all his art supplies together and easily accessible.   I don't love the table and chair - but that's what I'll go hunting for at the tag sales this season.  It will do for now.  See - nice shelves, right?

Here are some details.
After seeing Nim's Island, I was inspired to dig up some of my grandmother's big shells and put them out.  Magoo hasn't said anything in particular about them, but I know he's noticed them b/c I occasionally find things, like a Hotwheels car, stuck in them.

This is probably my favorite little piece.  I filled the little jars with watercolors and put them against one of Magoo's tissue paper collages.  The camera couldn't really capture how the light shines through them.  Well, it's probably not the camera's fault.  But this is the kind of thing that - just by looking at it - makes me happy.

And that's the new space.  It's taking a lot of effort, on my part, to keep things relatively tidy in there, but I'm trying.  Oh, how I'm trying!