Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Tin Notebook

I am always racking my brain, trying to come up with new ideas to use reclaimed tin.  On my list of things to try is a bound journal.  But I decided to play a little with simple notebooks first. 

 Using some binder rings and a hole punch, I was able to piece together a little pocket notebook.   My three hole punch it turns out is not adjustable so I had to punch them all by hand.  Ouch!  Thinking I need to invest in a proper punch if I want to make more of these.

I made the ring punches a little too low and the metal covers knock into each other a bit when you open it.

Oh well, this is why we make prototypes, right?   
My niece and nephews are coming to visit from Dubai and I thought it would be fun to make them little notepads to carry around with them.  Now I need to go through my tin and find some cool designs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I Ate: Edamame Soup

I make this soup a lot.  Especially when it is blustery or windy outside like today has been.  It's just a little onion and potato and red pepper flakes and garlic sauteed up and then a bag of thawed shelled edamame and a bag of thawed mixed veggies and some veggie broth added and simmered for 30 minutes.  Add yogurt or sour cream and blend with immersion blender.  It tastes so healthy and is as close to fast food as I get.  Sometimes I put kale or spinach in it too. 

I originally got the idea from this from those folks over at Shelteriffic.  I think they had gotten the idea from 101 Cookbooks.  Funny how recipes go from hand to hand and change and mutate!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Making a Needle Felted Pin Cushion

 I collect an awful lot of tins for my reclaimed tin work and many times I find tin items that are cute but maybe a little too small or a little too special to cut up.

This tea cup for instance.  It is the only tin tea cup I have found.  The flower pattern around the bottom is lovely, but I know I will probably never cut it up.  The shape is just too interesting. 

And then it struck me the other day that I need a pin cushion for my needle felting needles.  They are always rolling all over the place and getting lost.  I was thinking about what to make the pin cushion in and then I remembered this tea cup.  Voila!  A way to combine my two interests.

I started with a lot more fiber fill than you would think would fill a tea cup. 

I pressed it into the cup and started poking, poking, poking, with my needles to shape it into the cup.  

You can see it is starting to take the shape of the cup.

Periodically, I would pull it out and check the shape and add more fiber fill to the weak spots.  And then I would keep poking, poking, poking.  

Finally, I covered the top with wool needle felting.  
Now I have a place to put all of my felting needles!

Retro Memories

My dad recently came back from a trip to visit relatives in Montana and brought me back a bag full of my grandmother's old Valentine's Day cards.  She turns 90 this year, so these are as retro as retro gets: 75-85 years old.  They are in pretty good shape too.

I am not sure what I am going to do with them, but they have some awfully sweet designs that could inspire me, especially the borders.

Dad was thinking I could scrapbook or create some collage with them but I may need to think about it for a bit before I cut anything up.  

I just love these butterflies. 

While cute, some don't make a ton of sense, but I don't think it really matters.

Lots of cute animals and hints at art deco.

Many of them are cut out precisely around the designs.  I like this.  When I was 6 years old, they were all boring rectangular cards without much artistry; lots of Garfield and Snoopy if I remember correctly.

Cute Jack Russell terrier and love that font. 

My hand is covering this a little but it says, "I sentence you for Life to be my Valentine." 

This one is one of my favorites.  Very Betty Boopish.  

Now this one scares me a little.  I think it is supposed to be Shirley Temple (Who was born in 1928, so this could be when my grandmother was 11 or so and Shirley was 4.) only it looks more like a zombie to me.  Check out the lovely border in comparison! 

And this one was down right offensive to my sensibilities.  There were a couple of black face ones too, but I was too horrified to show them here. 

But this one is my absolute favorite.  She is so cute and I love her coat and boots! I might just have to get this one framed.

Did you save your Valentine's from school?  I am pretty sure my mom threw ours out as soon as we got them home!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My New Favorite "Green" Thing

Reusable grocery bags have been gaining traction for a while now with all types of shoppers.  A couple of years ago I saw reusable produce bags and I thought "what a neat idea!" but I didn't buy them because I thought I would be able to find them anywhere.  But then I didn't see the again and forgot about them.  I dutifully cleaned out my plastic produce bags and reused and/or recycled them but new I wanted something else.  

I didn't even think to check Google for them.  Silly me!  There are hundreds of them out there. 

But luckily I found these at Fred Meyers.  3 bags for $1.99.  And you can toss them in the wash when they get gunky.  Very handy, so I had to buy three more.  
Now I feel very smug when I do my grocery shopping.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Firing up the Cast Iron Skillet for Pizza

OK, so you know I am no Gwyneth Paltrow; I have no wood oven built to spec in my backyard.  But I do have a skillet and this has become one of my favorite items for making pizzas and flat breads.

I usually use Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast (which doesn't need to rise) but I was out of it so I had to do it the old fashioned way, making sure that I started the dough 2 hours before cooking time.

I have a lot of friends that still think making pizza is hard and they are always impressed when I make it for them.  It is so cheap and easy to make and turns out much yummier than some $6.99 frozen pizza from the grocery store.  And total active time on dough is less than 20 minutes.  And that includes the rolling out and cooking part! 

Basic Pizza Crust 
makes 2 skillet sized pizza crusts

1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I tried using fancy "00" flour and didn't notice any difference.)
1 envelope rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup very warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Add water and oil and mix thoroughly 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup additional flour to make a soft, sticky dough.  Turn out on floured surface and knead about 5 minutes, until nice and firm and elastic.  (You can add a little more flour at this point if need be to make it less sticky.)  Place in a bowl and cover with a fine layer of oil.  Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours or about double in size.  Use the time during rising to prep your pizza ingredients or cook your sauce.

Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll out half of dough into a circle a little larger than your cast iron skillet. 

Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat and lightly brush pan with oil.  Once heated, carefully place circle of dough in pan and press edges up side.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

Turn on broiler.

After a few minutes, gently raise up dough and see if it is getting brown underneath.  You don't want it burnt of course and every stove's medium high setting is a little different.  Once it is sufficiently browned, flip crust over and press edges against side of pan.  

Top your pizza with whatever your heart desires.  Allow bottom to cook for a few minutes. 

Set under broiler until nice and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes. Slide off onto cookie sheet and repeat with your second half of dough.  It is easy to under cook this so if in doubt, pinch off a little dough and test it for doneness.  My second pizza came out a little doughier than the first. 

Enjoy on your back deck on your new patio table with a refreshing pilsner.  

Pizza Sauce from Scratch

 I don't spend a lot of time thinking about making pizza sauce.  I usually prefer an olive oil base and leave it at that.  But yesterday I was looking at some blog that had a link to some other blog that eventually led me to Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's site, and there was a recipe for making pizza and sauce from scratch.  Now, of course she was making the pizza in her hand made brick oven in her back yard.  I am not so lucky, so I made my pizza in my fabulous cast iron skillet.

I didn't follow her dough recipe, but I did make her sauce.  It intrigued me because it had a carrot in it.  I assumed it was to make it sweeter without adding sugar.

Saute in olive oil: 1 small onion and 1 carrot, both diced for about 8 minutes.  Add 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I used Italian Roma with basil, but I think the Muir Glen roasted tomato would be good too!)  Add 1 teaspoon coarse salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook for 40 minutes.  Blend with immersion blender.

I thought the sauce came out a tad too sweet.  I might just put half a carrot in next time and throw in a chipotle in adobo sauce to add a little more zest.  But I bet the sauce goes over well with kids! 
I only used the sauce on one of my two skillet pizzas so I have a lot left over.  I might try serving it over pasta tonight.

You can find Gwyneth's original posting along with her pizza dough recipe on her Goop Newsletter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

37 Things: Get Another Tattoo

I am getting very close to getting my next tattoo.  I have found an artist that my friend recommended.  I have been also working on some sketches to show the artist for direction and I realized that while I liked them, I realized they were getting too realistic and away from my more stylized Minoan Octopus that I had in mind. 

This is my latest drawing and it is getting very close to where I want it to be.  However, I have since decided to put this on my calf and not my arm and so I need to tweak the legs a bit to make it more elongated and a better fit for my calf.  
Getting excited!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paris Fresh in My Mind

Everybody has a stereotype about Paris, right?  Prettiest city on the planet, most romantic, center of art as we know it, etc.  Woody Allen's latest movie Midnight in Paris takes all those stereotypes and presents them in an entirely upside down and shaken around sort of way and comes away as perhaps my favorite Woody Allen film ever.

It has many of the Woody Allen trademarks: There is a couple teetering on marriage.  It has bickering galore, improv, and a cast of thousands.  The city is just as important to the story as the characters.  It features infidelity, writer's block, and fear of death.

Funny, I watched a very similar movie in theme (but not at all in spirit) last night called Tamara Drewe, the latest movie from Stephen Frears.  Very snarky and exploring many of the same ideas as Midnight.  Both are about the locale inspiring the writer thinking about happiness and infidelity and death.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but after seeing Midnight in Paris today, I was quite struck by the thought that there are good good movies and amazing good movies.  Do you know what I mean?

I know I am dancing around in circles here and not telling you much about the movie but that would spoil it for you.  It has many, many wonderful and funny and delightful surprises and ends up one of the prettiest and most wildly optimistic movies I have seen in a while.

Side note: I am not a fan of Owen Wilson at all and his stoner, glazed over stuttering works here perfectly.  I am sure this role was written for him! 

Run, don't walk, to see this movie!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What I Ate: The Bok Choy Overrunneth

I am so happy I planted bok choy in the garden this year.  It is thriving.  It is huge.  And luckily it has not yet gone to seed.

I am really enjoying cutting it up and putting it in stirfrys.  You can cook both the stems and the leaves.  But make sure you cook the stems for a bit before adding the leaves since the leaves cook so quickly. 

I sauteed up some onions and steak and then added the bok choy stems along with garlic and mushrooms and a sauce of soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and oyster sauce.  Then I added the chopped bok choy leaves along with some kale and cilantro and served it over brown rice. 
 Thinking I need to get some eggplant to cook with it next.


Pop Up Shop

I had a fun opportunity this week to set up a little table of scarves at a Pop Up Shop during Tacoma's third Thursday art walk.  Unfortunately, I left my good camera at home so these are just off my camera.  I took more but for some reason the camera didn't save them.  

I haven't shown my scarves to many people yet so it was nice to get some feedback on them and play with the display.

I sold 5 scarves!  I will be busy putting some of these scarves up on ETSY in the coming days.