Sunday, February 24, 2008

a martha moment- with chocolate babkas

I really wanted to bake bread this weekend. The only bread I've ever made is the no knead recipe (NY Times) and my timing for that just didn't work out. But I couldn't find anything else that I really wanted to try. Until I opened my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, that is. It was the one and only page I had tagged from years ago- Chocolate Babkas. It was a little ambitious for a mama with time constraints. But I persisted with afternoon coffee & babka break visions in my head.

I started prepping and gathering more chocolate and butter than I thought possible. And it took hours between the dough rising, the chopping of chocolate, making a streusel topping, baking for 1 and a half hours, and so on.

The smell from the oven was incredible. The loaves looked perfect (although they didn't rise quite as much as I would have liked). And late on Sunday evening, after the boys were sound asleep, we sat at the table with a slice that called for milk by it's side.

I pulled out my handy menu planning notepad from the very sweet Norm, and thought about the week of food ahead in our house. There wasn't space on the notepad, but it's a given that the babka will be around each and every afternoon this week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

spring has landed on my couch...

By way of this pillow:
I finally made a pillow to liven up our dark leather couch in the family room. I'll finish the second one tomorrow night. I used some of the gorgeous fabric I recently bought from Heather Bailey's Fresh Cut line. And I used an excellent tutorial from house on hill road's blog to guide me through the lapped zipper. It's been awhile and this was a new technique for me.
I think I am really on a green kick lately.

Oh, I also got another package in the mail today. This time with some fat quarters of Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market fancy fabrics.

I really want to make a picnic blanket for the summer with these ones. I have so many ideas. So much inspiration. I just need more time!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

so long, february blahs

After a horrid few days of feeling sick, and then passing it on to little James, I finally felt better and had a date! Yes, a long overdue date. We went for a long, delicious brunch and feasted on a californian omelette (me) and prime rib hash with poached eggs (Glen's).
We wandered around a few of our favorite stores, grabbed coffees (the latest copy of InStyle) and then headed home to tackle a few small tasks without the little ones hanging onto our legs. Before picking up the boys, we set out to Ikea and got a few small things to add to my studio/sewing room. It's coming along so nicely and I will share pics of that soon.

It's been a particularly dark February, and my sister Julie has been taking such good care of our little James that I wanted to give her a special thank you. I felt so good about my green neckwarmer, I thought she would like one too. I made her a blue one and sent it over to her today. After that project, I made my second attempt at sewing James a little toy for his 2nd birthday. It's an adorable pattern by Hillary Lang from the Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts book called peanut, the wee elephant. I tried completing one about a week or so ago, but the fabric I chose kept splitting at the seams and needed some adjusting. In the end, I wasn't able to stuff him quite as much as I wanted to (hence, the floppy little legs), but overall he's pretty cute. I have a lot of practicing to do on that blanket stitch on the eyes though. Whew!!! All of the apparel sewing I did in University didn't prepare me for the little hand details on a lot of these new projects I want to try.

Here's my version of peanut, droopy legged, creepy eyed, but still kinda cute.

Monday, February 11, 2008

keeping cozy

I have finally completed a knitting project that is making me smile! It was easy and oh, so cozy for these blistering cold winter days. I started out with another one, which didn't end up in a happy place. It caused me a little grief from the start, yet I persisted and ended up with something much too large to ever wear. I summed it up to good practice and let go of my neckwarmer desires for this year. Until I spotted this lovely grey version, and then this one in a yellow yarn on a much larger needle!

I used Lion Brand's 'Thick & Quick' yarn, just as the yellow version does, and completed it in one Sunday afternoon and evening. I am no expert, but using a size 13 (9mm) round needle made it feel effortless. And I loved the yarn so much, that I also bought a skein in blue and am now contemplating going back for another one in cream. A girl needs options, doesn't she?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

the good, the bad and the ugly

I am loving my new green belt. It's just so cute, and it makes me feel like I am somewhat pulled together when that's hardly the case.
And speaking of good things, have you seen the latest issue of Blueprint? It's a good one. But the bad part is that it is the last one. Ever. So disappointing. I really will miss this magazine.

I would have liked to post a picture of my latest completed knitted project, but unfortunately it is just too ugly at the moment. I finished my super soft neck warmer/ tube thingie, but it is just way too huge to fit any human being. I am trying to come up with some resolution, but for now am just chalking it up to good practice.

Friday, February 1, 2008

i love snowstorms, i love ina

We woke up today to a beautiful snowstorm and decided to avoid the roads and all stay home. Glen & I set into motion early choosing the divide and conquer strategy. He ventured into the dark recesses of the basement to sort through the hideous number of unused toys while I stayed upstairs to address the dirty laundry situation. By noon, we had made some good progress so I decided to make a special lunch.

I had some fresh tilapia in the fridge and tried out a recipe from Nigella Express that has been on my mind for awhile. The fish is cut into strips and dipped into corn flour first, an egg mixture second, and lastly panko crumbs. They were fried until golden and set aside while I made a salad (to offset the whole fried food thing). It was a simple mixture of baby spinach, diced tomato and sliced avocados. Dressed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maldon salt....yum!

Shortly after lunch, we indulged in Ina's Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars. The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa at Home and is possibly one of the best desserts ever. Surely, it is the most fabulous bar I have ever made. I'm talking tooth aching, melt in your mouth deliciousness.
I don't think Ina has one recipe that hasn't turned out well for me. But this one is a real winner. Glen asked me to bring some to my sister down the street, just so that he wouldn't eat the whole tray. They are just that good.