Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Last year I made 5 New Year's Resolutions, and amazingly enough I met them all! So here's a few for 2013:

1) Stay in shape. Continue going to the gym after work 5 days a week. Or, if I can't make it to the gym, work out at home for at least half an hour.
2) Really commit to training Jessie. I want to put in the work this year and have a well trained dog for the next many years.
3) Enjoy the rest of the wedding planning. It's crunch time and tough wedding decisions are popping up. Instead of stressing out, I need to appreciate the fact that I even get the opportunity to make them because our friends and family are coming together to make this celebration possible.
4) Fix up our back porch. Right now we have this awesome space that is just being used for storage.
5) Visit a city I've never been to before. I've always wanted to go to Portland, Oregon.

I'm ready for you, 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Stockings

So I sort of failed when it came to documenting the process of making these stockings. In fact, I documented none of it. All I have to show for myself are these three photos:

Cutting pieces:

Pieces cut:

Finished product:

They turned out really, really well. I'm super happy with them. They seem sturdy and well constructed. Also, I learned about sewing curved edges which is not as difficult as I though it would be. Next year I'll add initials for the three of us: S, L, and J.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Coconut-Cranberry Macaroons

'Ello blog world. I hope you are all having a merry Christmas Eve. Tonight I bring you ezpz Coconut-Cranberry Macaroons.

I made these for a friend's Chanukah party, because, apparently, macaroons are Chanukah friendly (and also delicious). I had never made macaroons before, but the recipe seemed straightforward enough so I decided to give it a go. They were easy...but, so messy. Omg messy.

First it started with a wet batter of sugar, egg whites, cranberries, orange zest, vanilla, an salt that looked a little like, well, I probably don't need to actually write down what this looks like...



But then I added in the shredded coconut and I suddenly had a beautiful, fluffy, delicious coconut batter that reminded me of a snow ball. I was eating spoonfuls of this batter directly from the bowl.

This is where things got messy. The recipe suggests wetting your fingers and forming little pyramids which are then placed on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Somehow, these directions made me believe that wetting my fingers would help the coconut stick to other coconut bits and not to my fingers. The coconut did stick to other coconut bits, but then the new, larger coconut chunks still stuck to my fingers. My hands quickly came to resemble what I like to think of as a new muppet: Coconut Monster. She's like Cookie Monster but instead of blue fur she's cover in shredded coconut. 

Eventually I formed all of the "pyramids" and baked them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (about half the time the recipe called for). They were perfect! Not too dry but still held together. I'd call them a success. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tree Skirt

I'm sorry that I haven't blogged since October, things have been a little crazy recently. For starters, Simon and I hosted Thanksgiving for our families this year. You can read about it here. The following weekend we had a bunch of friends over to celebrate my birthday and so everyone can see our finally put together apartment. And then THIS weekend we brought home our very own puppy. Her name is Jessie:

So while I have been doing plenty of crafting and cooking, I don't have many finished products to show you at this point in time. I did, however, just recently sewed us a Christmas tree skirt. You see, this is the first year we've been able to buy a real Christmas tree and we quickly realized it was in need of a tree skirt:

See how entirely unattractive that giant green tree stand is?

So we went out and grabbed a couple yards of fabric and Simon helped me draw and inner and outer circle and I went to work. The fabric itself was not terribly wide so our skirt isn't very large, but I think in future years I will add a few more inches of "trim" around the outside to extend it a bit.

The sewing for this was pretty simple. Most of my time was consumed with pinning the edges. It's a little tricky to get a 1/2 inch seam to be even along a curved surface, but I worked it out.

I did this for the outer edge, inner edge and the sides of the back seam (I cut a slit up the back so we could drape it around the tree stand).

Ta-dah! Pretty tree skirt:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bone Broth!

Stock. Bone broth. Soup. Whatever you call it, it's delicious, full of nutrients and minerals, and damn easy to make. I made my first bone broth a few weekends ago but did not document it in case it turned out to be a terrible disaster - it wasn't! It was pretty good in fact.  I made note of a few things to alter made my second batch this weekend. The first broth I made was from a rotisserie chicken carcass. I did the same this time, but I also included some leftover porkchop bones and bought some beef neck (sorry dad) soup bones and roasted them in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees before starting the stock. The joints and cartilage-heavy bones really add to the gelatin in a good stock. Gelatin seriously lacks from the standard American diet since we don't eat whole animals anymore, broth helps replenish it (also it's good for your skin!). Before I get into the how-to, I really recommend this website:, while I used a number of resources to learn how to make a good stock, this is the one I keep going back to. It also has a nice history and breakdown of the health benefits.


 You want to make sure you break open the bones before putting them in your crock-pot. It allows the marrow and other goodness to be absorbed into the water.

 Soooo once you've roasted the bones and cracked them open just throw them in a crock-pot! I added an onion (with skin), a head of garlic (chopped in half lengthwise and with skin), and some herbs - I think rosemary, basil, thyme, ginger, pretty much whatever else I had laying around that seemed to work well. Cover it with water, turn it on low, and let it cook away. Seriously, that's it. Just leave it a lone for a long amount of time. This time I let it go for ~9 hours.

It will end up looking something like this:

Strain it out and put it in some containers. I just used a colander so some of the herbs made it through to the broth, but I don't really mind. I put 2/3 in tupperware and then it went straight into the freezer; the broth I'll be using this week went in an old pickle jar and in the fridge.

These results were great. I got a much richer color, likely due to the pork and beef bones in addition to the chicken. Also, once cooled, the broth developed a thick layer of fat on top. This sounds gross, I know, but it's a good sign that it really absorbed as much as it could out of the bones. It scrapes off very easily with a spoon and you can just discard it in the trash. Delicious broth for drinking, sauteing vegetables in, and really using wherever you would normally use water.