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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Applesauce Cookies with Caramel Frosting!

This recipe may not be paleo but it is delicious. and addicting. and basically pure sugar...but delicious. I've made these cookies a few times before from this recipe and they've always been a big hit. Some friends of mine had a fall themed party this past Saturday and made a special request for these treats; I was happy to oblige. The ingredients for the cookies and frosting include: 

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening (I used coconut oil instead)
2 eggs
2 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves (I ground whole cloves in our coffee grinder)
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

I told you it was sugar baked on sugar mixed with sugar!

From here it's basically a muffin recipe that you drop onto a cookie sheet. These "cookies" are really apple muffin tops. Mix the dry ingredients together...

Mix the wet ingredients together (yes, it looks like baby food)...

Mix the dry into the wet...

And drop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE parchment paper? It's genius. It results in cookies that are brown but not burnt on the bottom and baking sheets that don't need to be cleaned after baking. Amazeballs. 

The recipe calls for "small" spoonfuls to be put in the sheet, but who likes tiny cookies? I make muffin-top-monster-cookies. Bake at 375 for nine minutes.

One thing to note - this recipe makes a lot of cookies. And by a lot, I mean 45+. Yes, 45+ giant monster cookies. If you do not want 45+ giant monster cookies, I'd halve the recipe if I were you.

The caramel frosting is pretty much what makes these cookies. Unfortunately, it involves a lot of fast work with super hot sugar so I only got a picture of the beginning of the process: melting the 6 tbsp butter (3/4 of a stick), 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Melt, stirring occasionally, until it's well incorporated. Drop in some vanilla and stir in the powdered sugar. I have a lot of trouble figuring out the powdered sugar deal - the recipe says to wait for the brown sugar mixture to cool first, but when it cools it becomes too think to stir in the powdered sugar. So, I tried adding the powdered sugar when it was hot and the powdered sugar just lumped together. No one seemed to care much since sugar melted into sugar can't be wrong.

No finished product picture but they are pretty much what the original recipe link shows them to look like.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Cookathon

I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently. A lot. I've been enjoying coming home everyday and making something delicious from fresh organic produce and grassfed meats, but sometimes I just want to spend sometime relaxing on the couch or reading a book and that means cooking big batches of food well ahead of time. Enter the crockpot. 

I love my crockpot. Today I woke up and put together a fantastic beef stew found here. Basically it involved cutting up the following: 

1 rutabaga
1 sweet potato
5 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 onion
~2 lbs stewing beef

And throwing them in a crock pot with: 

2 cups homemade chicken bone broth
2 cups boiling water
1 can tomato paste
a bunch of oregano, thyme and pepper

Then...stew. Stew like you've never stewed before. I'll be honest, these ingredients barely fit in our fairly large crock pot. The above picture was taken about 4 hours into stewing, after the veggies had cooked down and released most of their fluid and it's still pretty full. We let this cook for about 8 hours and the end result produced this:


It is delicious. The beef was tender, the veggies soft but not mushy, and the broth - oh man, the broth is stunning. The mixture of homemade chicken bone broth with many hours of stewing beef produced a delicious dark brown broth that we made sure to put in a tupperware and save for later purposes. 


While this was stewing away I made some sweet potato hash. I tried this recipe out for the first time while Simon was in California and it tasted pretty damn good. I then made some for him when he came home and he loves it. I have a feeling this will be a staple in our fridge this winter.  In the three times I've made this I've altered the recipe in a number of ways. The final product now looks vaguely like the one in the recipe. 

First chop up a bunch of onion and get them caramelizing. I've tried caramelizing onions before and I always burn them instead of caramelize them. Both burnt and caramelized onions are black, but one turns out sweet while the other tastes bitter - the goal is sweet. For some reason this recipe's description of caramelizing onions really clicked with me. Throw some butter in a medium heat pan, wait for it to start to bubble/foam, and then throw in the onions. Turn the heat down REALLY low and just let them do their thing stirring occasionally.

After 5 or so minutes the onions will begin to sweat and start to brown:

It's tempting to stop the sauteeing as soon as they start to brown, but the onions will only get more and more sweet the darker you let them become. I let mine get about twice as dark as you see above, and then let the rest of the caramelization happen in the oven, which, by the way, should be preheated to 450 degrees. 

While the onions are cooking, chop up some sweet potatoes and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (ah, parchment paper, you make cleaning up SO easy). Add the onions on top and place it all in the oven for 35ish minutes.

Halfway through cooking I take the sheet out and throw in some chopped bacon. 

As you can see, the sweet potatoes get soft, the bacon crisps up, and the onions get super black and super delicious.

 To end this really long post I need to say that I used the oven SO much this weekend that our carbon monoxide alarm went off and we had to evacuate our housemates and call 911. Some very nice firefighters came the wrong way down our narrow street in a giant firetruck and told us everything was fine but that we should always open a window if we're going to cook a lot.

good to know.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SINGER 7256 Fashion Mate

I bought a new sewing machine!

Actually, I didn't buy it. My parents gave it to me as an early birthday present. Thanks parents!

It's pretty sweet. Not only does it have a whole lot of computerized stitches, but it also as an automatic needle threader, a bunch of extra bobbins, needles, feet, buttonhole accessories, etc. And it fits great on my new sewing table in my new office. Yay new things!

I've turned it on, threaded it, used the bobbin winder, and generally fussed around with it. However, it has yet to see true needle to fabric action. I planned on using it this past weekend for just that but I got a head cold and my entire life got relegated to the couch, or the bed, or anywhere else I could close my eyes. I did manage to get to JP Knit and Stitch which was having a big fabric sale. I found this beautiful yellow and white fabric.

I'm not sure what I'll use it for, but I'm sure it will be something fabulous. Unfortunately, I bought this along with a yellow rotary cutter in a yellow box while wearing my neon yellow hoodie - everyone in the store had a big laugh at that. Normally I would have laughed along with them but it took everything I need not to sneeze on every single piece of cloth in that store.

I also made a quick trip to Winmil Fabrics in downtown Boston to buy some cheap organza for a test run of a secret wedding craft.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

I've missed the entire month of August. A lot happened in the last few weeks - we moved to the new place, I started a new diet, continued to work out, had a busy few weeks at work, and watched a lovely big yellow pup over labor day weekend.

Before I get into the cooking post, I really need to post a picture of Kobi, our friend's yellow lab puppy who hung out with us over labor day:

He's a big goofball and I love him very much.

Back to the post: as I stated above, I've started following a new diet in hopes that it will help with my migraines. It's the "Paleo Diet". I'm not going to get into the details of it because, well, that's what the internet is for. So far it's been delicious, healthy, and I've been migraine free. In addition to starting paleo we also joined Boston Organics and are having local organic vegetables and fruits delivered to our house. What's awesome about this service is that we never know what we're going to get which forces us to make new, interesting dishes. This week we received a whole lot of sage, an ingredient I've never really cooked with before. In an effort to use up our sage, I found a recipe for Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage. We've made a number of paleo meals in the past three weeks, but this meal...this meal was special. It was so. tasty. Simon can't stop talking about it and telling friends about it. Also, it was really simple and quick to make. Here we go -

 Cinnamon Crusted Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

Unfortunately I didn't ask Simon to start taking pictures until after I sauteed the apples, garlic (I used garlic instead of shallots), and sage in coconut oil. You'll just have to imagine how beautiful it looked.

Once that is all sauteed, moved the apples, sage, and onion into a bowl and rub some cinnamon and salt onto the pork chops.

Using the same pan and coconut oil, give the chops a good sear on both sides.

Turn the temp down to low, pour in some white wine (I always choose a Riesling because it's not too sweet and not too dry), throw the apple mixture on top, cover and let simmer for about 7 minutes. Ours were perfectly cooked.

We ate these along with a salad of kale, cherry tomatoes, avocados, dressed with avocado oil and lime juice. SO. GOOD. In addition to how delicious it was, it's important to note that I made pork chops. PORK CHOPS. Only a few years ago I was full blown vegetarian. Even once I started eating meat I didn't really eat MEAT meat. This was one big, juicy, hunk of pig and I really enjoyed it. Who'd of thunk it?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Catching Up

I've been the worst blogger recently. I swear it's just because I've been insanely busy.

I've been doing secret wedding crafts that won't be fully revealed until after the big day:

We've been packing for our move to the new apartment in August:

Also, I've joined a gym and have been really focusing on getting myself into shape.

As any healthy person knows, you have to eat healthy in addition to exercising to make any sort of difference. So, Simon and I made a delicious dinner the other night which involved a new cooking technique - baking tofu.

I am no stranger to tofu, I ate a lot of it when I was vegetarian and Simon and I still make it every once in a while. In the past we've always marinated it and then fried the tofu in some oil (sort of defeating the whole healthy eating aspect of eating tofu). But the other night I found this recipe. I have to say, baking tofu resulted in a very nice texture. The marinade was a little salty (as the reviews state), but overall I feel as though this was a success.

We marinated the tofu over night and then set it out in a single layer in a baking pan (can you see how uneven our countertops are by the marinade pooling to one side? - awesomesauce).  The tofu baked at 325 for a little under an hour, turning the tofu halfway through. I may bake it a little more next time.

With about 15 minutes left on the tofu Simon started a quick stir-fry consisting of snap peas, bell peppers, yellow squash, and onions. 

Put the two together and voila! A delicious, healthy, and surprisingly filling dinner.

I'll definitely keep baking tofu. The marinade was fine, but nothing too special, so I'll probably keep looking for other options.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Summer Summertime

 I like the idea of making a wish list at the start of each summer of all the things I'd like to do before the students return to campus and the days begin getting shorter.

 Last summer I was able to accomplish 6 out of 10 (to be honest, the red dress was bought just a few weeks ago...but it's before summer 2012 so I'm counting it).

1) Visit both families
2) Celebrate our 5 year anniversary
3) Buy a red top and red dress

4) Go for a run on the beach
5) Read five books of my choosing
6) Bike around the Arnold Arboretum
7) Ride the swan boats in the Boston Public Gardens
8) Make curtains for our bedroom
9) Run a 5k
10) Take a sewing, knitting, or crochet class

 I have a number of things I want to do this summer, but here are the top 10:

1) Buy a condo (or at least find a place to live in September)
2) Go to Ocean City, NJ (this is planned for June 30th! can't wait!)
3) Bike around the Arnold Arboretum
4) Watch season 2 of Game of Thrones - preferably over a single glorious weekend
5) Kayak on the Charles
6) Run a 5k
7) Have a completely unplugged day - no computer, no phone, no tv
8) Buy a new sewing machine
9) Get strong arms and back
10) Relaaaax

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kindle Love

Oh hey blogosphere! It's been over two and a half months since I've last visited. I promise to be more diligent in the future. The main reasons for my lack in crafting/cooking are that I've packed up my super cool but super old (and therefore frustrating to use) sewing machine and I've been having some stomach problems since March that have resulted in a not-so-interesting diet.


I've pulled myself together and sewed myself a Kindle cover by hand:

Pretty, right?! The exterior fabric is from a friend of mine and the case is lined with tan and white felt to provide some cushion for the kindle. I used this pattern. As you can see I decided to only do one strap and went for adhesive velcro instead of fussing with a button.

Overall I'm pretty happy with it. I'd definitely change a few things though if I were to make another one. You can't really tell from the picture above, but the measurements didn't quite work out - no matter how much I pull, tug, and push, that kindle will still peek out of the top the tiniest bit, even when the tab is closed. Also, I'd trim the edges in addition to the corners of the lining before inserting it into the exterior fabric. The 1/2" seam allowance on the exterior fabric and the 1/2" seam allowance on the interior fabric don't lay nicely together so the edges are a little wonky (this could also be due to uneven sewing by hand).

It was easy to do and I've used it lots this past week while carrying my kindle during my daily commute.

Sunday, March 11, 2012



We love beets. If they are on a menu at a restaurant you can bet that we'll be ordering them. We've tried making beets a few times in the past and have not been successful. I found what appeared to be a very easy beet-pickling recipe via pinterest and decided to give it a shot. 

I am so glad I did. These beets are incredibly easy to make and really flavorful. 

First cut the greens off of the beet and chop them into equally sized portioned - I cut mine into quarters.

Boil for 30 minutes. The cut beets made the water a brilliant orangey-red which was a lot of fun to watch. However, I did not want to leave the kitchen in case it boiled over and stained our white oven. Drain, rinse with cool water, rub off the peels with your fingers, and slice up. I made my slices pretty thin and was thankful for it. While the pickling marinade tastes delicious, some of the larger chunks can taste a little too vinegary.

While the beets are boiling you can mix up the marinade: apple cider vinegar, dry mustard, sugar, olive oil. Toss the beet slices in this marinade and let it hang out for a good 30 minutes.

DONE. So easy and sooo yummy. We're obsessed. I definitely recommend trying this recipe.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Simon has been telling me to explore new hobbies for years. I've just never really been a "hobby" person. Growing up I spent all my time singing and acting, so much so that I never really found a need to kill time. When I moved to Boston I found myself no longer performing and a little lost. I tend to justify my wasting hours away in front of the TV as "relaxing" when I am, in fact, just wasting hours in front of the TV. I have spurts of diversions like when I ran the half-marathon or when I get caught up reading for hours on end, but nothing that I would consider a "hobby" that I could just come home to and pick up if I so desired. That is, until I started experimented with making book-page flowers for the wedding...

I spent Saturday making flowers.

And by Saturday, I mean ALL DAY Saturday. The whole day. Coffee to Sleepytime tea. Here is what I have to show for it:

I was completely content keeping my hands busy, having the TV off and good music on, drinking tea and trying not to burn myself with a hot glue gun. I found following origami directions calming and zen-like. I think I have a hobby : )

Some of these tutorials I found on Pinterest, some on other websites, but I'll link to each one below the picture.

3D Star (the actual tutorial is in some language I don't know...but the pictures are easy to follow)

Storybook Rose (this one is my favorite - also the most time consuming)